Disclaimer: Obviously Bones and the characters are owned by someone else… would I be doing this otherwise?
Author's Note: Takes place prior to Season 3. Anything up to that point is fair game so beware of spoilers. Rated T for language. One-shot.
Summary: Sometimes there is only one way to find your balance.
Seely Booth was cold. Really, really cold. Actually, cold was not the word. Frigid maybe? Frozen? Snowflakes were clinging to his eyelashes; the wind was howling in his ears, his fingertips could very well be lost forever. What kind of FBI agent would he be without fingertips?
"Bones, you've got to stop for the night. This body has been frozen in the ice for how long – 2 years? He's not going to get any frozen-er, or any dead-er for that matter. We're going back to the ranger station".
"Hmmph…" was the only reply he received. At least that was all he could hear, what with the wind howling, the snow blowing, and the fact that she was hunched over ice and snow-encased human remains. Remains that had been found the day before by a tracking party in the White Mountains National Park, as park service employees searched for a wayward grey wolf that had lost his GPS collar.
Booth shook his head and mentally counted to ten. Although it was actually probably more like ninety since this wasn't the first time he'd tried this little trick in the last few hours. Dr. Wyatt had encouraged him at his last session to use this mental counting technique to keep from losing his temper, particularly with his partner.
Something about her lately was setting his teeth on edge, he thought with a grimace, blowing on his hands in an attempt to restore circulation. He'd been employing Dr. Wyatt's method more and more in the past several weeks. Things between them had become off- kilter somehow, like they were paddling a canoe out of sync and only succeeding in traveling in circles. She had been less and less available to work with him on cases, claiming her search for Zach's replacement was taking all her time. When they did work together, every word out of her mouth seemed to grate on his nerves; her uber-rationality, her refusal to believe in instinct, her claims that everything important in life can be scientifically proven. She was like a collar on one of his dress shirts the laundry had over starched.
Maybe the honeymoon was over – after all most partnerships were like marriages. Half of them work – half of them don't, he conceded. The thought made his heart thud heavily in his chest. Working with Bones was never easy, usually frustrating, and mostly mind-numbing, but always worth it. The thought of their partnership coming to an end because they couldn't resolve this incongruity between them made his stomach twist painfully.
Standing over her crouched form, he half-shouted to be heard over the wind, "Bones! We only have an hour or so of light left in the day. We haven't eaten; we haven't even had coffee since five a.m. What the hell can't wait?"
"Booth, we have to determine the perimeter around the remains that we need to cut out from the ground along with the bones. I have to get enough of the surrounding organic matter for Hodgins to examine, which will then give us an accurate time of death – down to the month if we take enough of a sample. I've got to pick away enough of the ice and snow from the top layer – which will be of no real use – and then send photos back to Jack. Hand me my BlackBerry," she shouted back over her shoulder, not stopping her careful picking and scooping of the top layers of newly blown in snow.
"I don't have your BlackBerry, Bones. You had it last in the Jeep on the way up here with the Park Rangers. Don't tell me you left it there – the road is at least a mile away". If he had to trek down the side of the mountain to get her phone, one of them might not make it back to D.C. alive.
"No Booth," she shot him a withering glare. "It's in my back pocket, which I can't reach into with my gloves on – it would contaminate them. You'll have to get it out for me."
"Take your gloves off then."
"Aren't you the one that just said its ten degrees out here? I can barely feel my hands as it is. I'm having trouble holding on to the brush and pick- I'm not taking my gloves off". She accented her point by wiggling her rear in his direction.
Great, just great.
"Fine. Which one- left or right?" Clenching his teeth against the impossibly awkward situation, he gestured to her waggling hindquarters.
With a frustrated puff of breath Booth contemplated the most innocuous route to take to get into her back pocket. No matter which way he approached it, to unzip the pocket and reach inside would lead to touching her ass. Grazing her ass, he corrected himself. Which was in no way a good idea. And the thought made him exponentially more uncomfortable than any over-starched shirt he'd ever worn.
After retrieving the small phone with as little contact with the owner of the pocket as possible, who didn't even seem to notice his movements in the vicinity of her posterior, Booth tried again to get her to leave the site.
"Bones, here – take your pictures and let's get out of here. The local ME said he'd be up here in the morning to help with removing the remains, he even said he had a special ice pick spade-thingy he uses to remove bodies that have frozen to the ground. Apparently he's done this before. Bones – for the love of God it's freezing up here!"
Booth stomped his foot to emphasize his last point. A foot which he could only remotely feel, or maybe just could remotely remember feeling.
After several minutes of waiting, he knew she had no intention of leaving of her own free will. Her sheer determination to do her job under any circumstances was usually her most endearing trait – well endearing may be a bit strong, but it was something about her he truly respected. Not once in all the time he known her had she let discomfort or danger get in the way of doing her job, often against his wishes.
Deciding that a meal and a hot cup of coffee were worth the risk, Booth circled around behind her and planned his next move. After calculating time and distance, he moved with the speed necessary to catch her totally by surprise. Reaching down with his legs braced on either side of her he wrapped both arms securely around her waist and lifted - staggering slightly, he took several steps backwards with her suspended in the air, her arms and legs flailing helplessly as he then dumped her unceremoniously in a deep drift of snow.
"We. Are. Going. Now".
On her hands and knees in the snow, her curses were at first hard to understand. But as she gained her feet and jumped in his face, every word was crystal clear.
"Booth- I swear- to -God -I'm -going -to -kick- your-sorry-rat- bastard-ass- you-jack - ass -in-the-freezing-damn-snow-piece-of-shit"
Her arms were flinging to the left and right as she yelled. Her face was pink, reddening from the wind and her anger. Her hair was swirling around her like a dark halo. He could see her chest heaving as she let loose another torrent of expletives, some of them words he didn't know Bones even knew.
She's stunning when she's mad. Especially this mad. Her eyes are like liquid fire. You could get burned by those eyes; consumed by their heat.
Bones was showing no signs of slowing down. Her anger at him was shockingly disproportionate to his dumping of her in the soft snow. It was if every irritation she had felt in the last few months – maybe even since they'd met – was pouring out of her. Without preamble, she pushed. Both hands, palms open on his chest. Distracted by his thoughts, Booth was caught totally off guard and gravity pulled him straight down onto his back.
She stood over him like a warrior princess; the only thing missing was her sword held high in triumph.
Something inside Booth snapped. He could almost hear it.
That was it.
One second and he was on his rear in the snow. The next breath he was standing right in front of her, his eyes now the pools of liquid fire. His breath now coming out in huffs of white smoke. His jaw clenched.
No stream of curses, no flailing of appendages. Booth simply stared at her, unblinking.
Then he took a step forward.
She took a step backward.
Whereas her anger had been white hot and alive, his was cold and hard. The image of a panther stalking his prey came to her mind unbidden as she desperately wanted to take another step back from him. But she refused to show her trepidation; instead she lifted her chin.
That simple act of defiance in the face of his anger, his overwhelming strength, proved to be his undoing.
Without another conscious thought, his hands were tangling in her hair, his lips crushing hers as he hauled her to his chest. His mouth slanted against hers and his tongue immediately invaded every hot corner of her, drinking her in like a man dying of thirst. Her initial surprise lasted a nanosecond, her struggle only slightly longer. She clutched at his collar with both hands, holding him in place with a ferocity to match her earlier anger. Releasing her hair with one hand, he snaked his arm around her waist, pulling her flush against him.
As they kissed, matching each other stroke for stroke, Booth felt every lock tumble into place, every note find the perfect key. For those long seconds that he poured all of himself out into her and she filled him right back up with all of her, everything that had been out of rhythm in his world was suddenly perfectly in line.
Finally the need for air drove them apart, but only far enough to allow him to rest his forehead against hers. He gentled his grip but still held her firmly against him from head to toe.
She was the first to speak, albeit a little breathlessly.
One word, but the questions it held were infinite.
"We go back down the mountain Bones. We get some coffee. We eat. We talk. We-"
"Is this the famous talk about lines?" Her eyes were huge and guileless, but her voice held suppressed laughter.
He chuckled, his chest rumbling against hers. "I think it's a little too late for talks about lines. That ship has definitely sailed. Come on, let's get out of here."
Unwilling to let go of her for even a second, he pulled her by the hand as he picked up her equipment and stuffed it in her bag. Hoisting the bag on his shoulder, he tugged her to him, tucking her into his side as they made their way down the trail. Their laughter could be heard trailing behind them as the snow turned into sleet, pelting them mercilessly.
Seely Booth was warm though. Really, really warm.