AN: After finishing "Dirty Little Secret" (which was about ten chapters and 20,000 words longer than I originally intended), I thought I would take a break from fanfic for a while...and I got the idea for this story the next day! Many thanks to CalleighAryn, the best beta in all of fanficdom, for her support and suggestions. :)
"I don't believe it, Booth," Agent Jim Ryan said as he marched into Booth's office and settled himself into the chair across from his desk.
Booth stared at his friend and co-worker, wondering what the hell he was talking about. "What don't you believe?"
Ryan stuck his hand in his pants pocket and pulled out a small white card. He showed the card to Booth, who recognized it as the RSVP card he had filled out for Ryan's wedding. "That you wrote the number 1 next to 'number of guests including yourself.' You're a good looking guy, a perfect gentleman, and a war hero to boot. Girls must love you, and yet you're coming to my wedding alone?"
Booth laughed at Ryan's description of him. "You may have found your girl, but not everyone is so lucky."
I think you've found your girl too, whether you admit it to yourself or not, Ryan thought. "You and Dr. Brennan seem to get along well. Did you ask her to be your guest?"
Booth's body temperature rose at the mention of his partner. "No. I didn't think she would have a good time."
"A lot of our colleagues are going to be at your wedding and..." Booth paused, thinking how he could say this without revealing his feelings for his partner. "...too many of them ogle her whenever she comes to the FBI building." I don't think she notices, but I do and it's disgusting.
"They don't ogle her," Ryan said, trying to comfort his friend. "They just...look at her with appreciation."
Booth snorted. "A little too much appreciation. Some of them are worse than horny teenagers. Who knows what they might do when they start drinking. I don't want to subject her to that."
You can't stand the thought of them hitting on her. Jealousy, thy name is Booth. "Booth, our colleagues aren't stupid. They know that you'll kick their asses if they're inappropriate with Dr. Brennan. The most they'll do is ask her to dance."
Booth recalled the lusty men in Aurora competing over her in the bar. She hadn't minded dancing with Charlie the overnight guy, Dr. Rigby the cannibal, or Sheriff Scutter, so she probably wouldn't mind dancing with the FBI agents who would line up for the chance. What if she hooks up with one of them, like she hooked up with Sully? He pushed the unwelcome thought out of his head. "I had other reasons for not asking her. You and Lynn are having a traditional Catholic wedding. Bones isn't into weddings or religion. If I even mentioned the word 'wedding', she'd go off about marriage being an archaic ritual. Plus, she's the least religious person I've ever known. She refers to God as 'my invisible friend'."
Ryan smiled. "I guess that's one way to look at Him. But she is an anthropologist, right? She might like to observe a modern religious ceremony."
"Maybe." He remembered the time Bones had wanted to go to church with him. He had told her no, not wanting to get excommunicated or struck by lighting when Bones denied the existence of God in a church full of parishioners. Yet after she had been taken by the Grave Digger, he had wanted her by his side when he thanked God for saving her. It still scared him to think how close he had been to losing her forever.
Ryan could see that Booth was lost in his thoughts. "Uh, Booth? You still with me?"
Booth shook himself out of his reverie. "Sorry." He took a few moments to gather his thoughts. "So why are you so determined for me to invite her to the wedding?"
Ryan leaned forward in his seat and whispered. "I was thinking that it could be a great opportunity for you to ask her out."
Booth swallowed hard. "Invite Bones to the wedding as my date? I can't do that; she's my partner."
But you want her to be more than that, Ryan thought. He could hear it in Booth's voice whenever he talked about her. "So you don't want to date her?"
Booth prayed for an interruption; A ringing phone or fellow agent bringing news would do the trick. A natural disaster would be alright too. Maybe an earthquake or flood or a fire in the building—anything to get him out of this conversation. After waiting a few seconds, he had to accept that he wasn't going to receive any divine assistance. "No, of course not. Why would you think that?"
Everyone thinks that. We've all seen the way you look at her. "Booth, as your friend, there's something I should tell you. I'm worried, though, that you might shoot the messenger."
"Why would I do that?"
"Well, there was the time you shot a clown speaker on an ice cream truck."
Booth rolled his eyes. He would never live that one down. At the moment, however, he was happy that the conversation had been temporarily diverted from his relationship with Bones. "That clown was asking for it."
Ryan laughed. "I bet it was. I've never liked clowns. They freak me out. I really wish I'd been there to see it."
"Maybe I'll shoot another plastic clown for you as a wedding present," Booth joked. "So... what is it that you should tell me?" He was sure that he wouldn't like the answer, but his curiosity was piqued.
Ryan took a deep breath. "You asked why I thought you wanted to date Dr. Brennan. I know that you care about her a lot, and I'm not the only one who sees it. People like to gossip about you two. Some say that you're screwing her, others that you haven't yet but you want to. If you don't want to date her then--"
"Hold on!" Booth interrupted angrily. "Who's saying all this?"
"If I started naming names, we'd be here for a long time. Let's just say that you and Dr. Brennan are a popular topic of conversation. Anyway, as I was saying, even if you don't want to date her, you could still invite her to the wedding as a friend. It might even put an end to all of the gossip."
Booth raised his eyebrows in disbelief. "How?"
"Not many people at the FBI have seen you two together for more than a few minutes in passing. Invite her to the wedding and our co-workers will have hours to interact with you both. They'll realize that your relationship is completely professional."
"Of course it is. I don't need to prove that to anyone," Booth snapped.
"I'm sorry if I upset you, man." Making Booth miserable hadn't been part of the plan.
Booth heard the sincerity in his voice and regretted snapping at him. "It's okay. I appreciate you telling me what people are saying behind my back." I'd appreciate it more if you gave me names so I could beat the crap out of them, Booth thought, but you can't have everything. "You're a good friend, Jimmy."
"And so are you. You were right. You shouldn't invite Dr. Brennan to my wedding to prove a point. Invite her because she's your friend and you enjoy her company. Think about it. I'll see you around, buddy." He left the office before Booth had the chance to change his mind about not shooting the messenger.
Should I invite Bones to the wedding? Booth asked himself when he was alone again. It would be nice to have her company, but I don't want every guy in the room hitting on her. Not that I'm jealous. I mean, I have no right to be jealous. Bones and I aren't dating and I have no claim to her. I don't mind if she dances with other guys...as long as I get to rescue her like I did in Aurora. He smiled at the memory. If I invite her to the wedding, I'll have a perfect excuse to dance with her again. But she'll say no, won't she? Bones' views on marriage aren't exactly ambiguous. She thinks it's a stupid idea, and all the cases we've seen where someone has murdered a spouse haven't helped. She did go to Angela's almost wedding, but Angela's her best friend. She doesn't know Jim and Lynn.
Make a decision, Seeley, his mind urged. Are you going to ask her or not?
After several minutes of internal deliberation, Booth had his decision. He decided that he would decide later.
After leaving Booth's office, Agent Ryan headed to the bustling FBI forensics lab to visit his beautiful fiancee Lynn. Forging a path through the throng of scientists, he eventually found her leaning over a table, peering into a microscope. "Hey, honey," he said as he kissed her on the cheek. "How's your day going?"
She turned her face towards his and kissed him in return. "Okay. How's your day, my darling?"
"Good. Even better now that I'm talking to you."
"You're so sweet," she said, kissing him again. "Did you talk to Booth yet?"
He laughed at the excitement in her voice. "Yup. I just came from his office."
She waited for him to continue, but he was clearly in no hurry. "And...?"
"And what?" He teased, knowing exactly what she wanted to hear.
She playfully smacked his arm. "Don't be mean, Jimmy. How did it go?"
"I don't know," he sighed. "I tried to convince him, but I couldn't tell if it worked. He's in serious denial about his feelings for her."
She laughed. "You didn't exactly rush to tell me your feelings for me. It took you months to get up the courage to ask me out."
"It may have taken me a while, but at least I did it eventually. Booth's waited for over two years. I don't know how he can work with her so closely day after day and pretend that he's not madly in love with her. One of these days he's going to snap and start making out with her at a crime scene."
She laughed again. "Hopefully your talk will give him the push he needs." As she spoke a lab technician dropped off more samples for her to analyze. " I wish we could keep talking, but I really need to finish this. Will you meet me for lunch?"
"Definitely." He gave her a big smile and one last kiss before leaving the lab.
A few hours later, when she had completed enough work to take a guilt-free break, Lynn took her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed her former colleague at the Jeffersonian. "Hey, it's Lynn. Jimmy talked to Booth. He's not sure if he succeeded, but at least he put the idea in his head."
Angela grinned. "Excellent. The game is afoot."
Thanks for reading! All comments are greatly appreciated.