notes: a couple of weeks ago I promised a fic to someone and now it's finished! I don't particularly like it, but what can you do. The premise was basically that at some point Booth and Brennan decided that an A+ idea would to be undercover agents instead of their canon jobs, and I don't really have a reason as to why this is.


It would always start the same way:

She'd put on her dress and straighten his tie (habit) and they'd argue about who was going to let who out the door first. She'd forget what her name was this time, and call him Booth so he was forced to stand on her feet – black high heels, and she'd hiss and cover her mistake before smiling an innocent smile, hoping he wouldn't berate her too much later.

She didn't know that he thought if there wasn't so much at stake, it'd be endearing just how much she'd gotten used to saying his name.

It began to change, though. She stopped wobbling on her heels and stopped flinching at his breath in the hollows of her neck, and started to play along, after a while. She still fought him – willpower of a mule, because that's what she did, and to his annoyance she still did it in public until he stepped on her feet (again).

--

Her dresses were nearly always red. She stopped wearing the ones that she had to adjust all the time, and wore strapless numbers that always did him in, whether he'd seen the exact same one three days before or not. She never noticed his stares (it was something like temporary blindness) and just crooked an eyebrow at his expressions, waiting for him to zip up the back.

The second time they were on a case, he could hear her muttering under her breath about old-fashioned rituals, so he refrained from stating what kind of relationship they were in.

She conceded to let him inform people they were engaged the third time, though her grip on his arm tightened when he said it.

After a while, they were simply married, and no one questioned, because how long had they been acting like it?

--

She was an actress underneath her skin.

"Why are you laughing?" mouth pressed against his he could also feel her smile. Brennan didn't laugh while kissing, she was intense and did everything right (or so he assumed). She didn't dissolve into giggles with her fingers tangled in his shirt.

But there she was, and it didn't matter that they were in the middle of a crowded restaurant, that they weren't playing themselves and just around the corner was a night where they might not live to see morning. It didn't matter, because however much he pretended, underneath she was Temperance Brennan, and she was the woman he'd worked with for years and the woman whose couch he slept on when she said his blood alcohol level would be too high for him to drive safely. She was the one who irritated him to no end on car rides and the one who stubbornly refused to admit she ever missed him. Under the new perfume and the self-assured smile she was all that, and he was content to let her laugh into his mouth while they kept an eye on the suits at table five, because how much closer to her was he going to get?

--

He remembered when they'd been on the casino case – mobsters planning to raid the vaults – and they'd been tracking the guy outside; eight o'clock at night. Her ankle slipped, Booth caught her and the other guy turned when he heard her gasp.

Thankfully all he saw when he caught sight of them was two people in shadow: a man hanging from a woman's lips, her leg angled around his waist – and the broken heel went unnoticed.

Neither of them cared that they lost the guy – three years of tension and they didn't want to waste what they'd built up, he was coarse and her lips were soft; he pressed her into the wall and she didn't complain; he could feel her back arching toward him as he ran his fingers over her thigh.

Booth didn't tell her afterward that he'd admired her readiness to comply with him, but he did thank her for not punching his lights out.

They didn't talk about what they'd done later. He was awkward and she pretended it had never happened. It took him weeks, but one day he finally confronted her, leaning on the desk she was working at.

"We should talk about this."

She didn't even look away from the computer when she replied. "Talk about what?"

"That casino case." He tried to be nonchalant, but his sentence ended on a higher note than he wanted it to.

She considered this for a minute, and then turned to look at him. "If you're uncomfortable about what happened, we don't have to mention it again."

He paused. The last thing he wanted was this to turn into some long overdue admittance of feelings (soap operas weren't his style) and for one of two things to happen:

For her to completely reject him and spout at him his reasons from long-forgotten months ago about strings and too much to lose.

Or for him to splutter something about how much in love with her he was and look like an idiot while she smiled at him and said she felt the same way. It was not how he wanted it, because they couldn't be one of those couples attached at the hip, the jobs they had prevented such long walks on the beach and candlelit dinners. Not to mention Brennan was probably the worst woman to take on conventional dates, she'd spend the time being long-winded about antiquated rituals and refuse to let him pay.

"Yeah, that's the thing." For the love of God, stop remembering the red dress and the broken heel as she was pressed into that wall.

She raised an eyebrow and waited for him to continue.

He kissed her instead of answering.

--

That's how they stayed, after that. After he'd pinned her against the wall with his fingers at the zipper of her dress they wouldn't talk about it.

They'd never slept together, if anyone asked.

Meanwhile, he could feel her becoming more like her alter egos every time they solved a case. Her confidence was her fingers laced through his and her chin resting on his shoulder. She looked like Brennan, but she felt like whoever she was playing, confidence and a tight dress that showed off her curves. He couldn't decide whether it was pleasing or unnerving, the way she just slipped into someone else's skin. Was he not-sleeping with Brennan, or the character she was playing? He never asked her if she was pretending, he didn't want to know for sure.

--

Once, when they were too deep in a case to back out, he tried to get her to stay at the hotel. She refused, of course (that was the real Brennan), and followed him down the stairs to the SUV. She didn't understand that it wasn't that he didn't think she couldn't look after herself – it was that he didn't want her to have to look after herself.

He didn't even care if it made him someone with alpha male behavioural patterns or not, mobsters weren't dead bodies and she'd left part of that woman behind, anyway.

He saw her still, sometimes: the scientist and the woman who used to live in DC. She came out on those nights when all they did is lie on the bed(s) of their hotel room, because for once they finally hadn't got somewhere to be and all of a sudden they had nothing to say. It was irrational that as soon as they were themselves they were awkwardly silent (and what did Angela used to say? They were nevernot talking), but when they were in roles – that might as well be them but with fake wedding bands – they didn't have enough time to say everything they wanted to.

The discomfort lingered because they were too stubborn and all their arguments ended in angry silence rather than reconciliation. (That came later, when he'd come back from wherever he'd left to with Chinese food and a sheepish smile and she let him in even if she didn't really want to, and it was this that said more than those three small words could.)

They didn't even need to admit their feelings after those moments, because even if she was slightly naïve and he liked to deny everything, they were both quietly aware of what the other felt.

And at the end, he thanked God every day that they still managed to call each other by their last names.