A/N: And so it begins...the prologue to the "more elaborate" project that was promised from 5 Steamboats Shipping Co. Buckle your seatbelts, kiddies...you're never going to be quite sure where us crazy fic-loving grad students will take you next.:)
"So I told him that it really shouldn't make a difference whether or not he found my tofu satay appetizing to look at. It wasn't preventing him from enjoying his meal in any way. And he's always doing that...acting as if he has some say in my personal choices, when clearly the nature of our collegial relationship does not dictate that... Booth. You aren't even listening to me."
"Huh?" The suited man sitting a few inches to her right feigned surprise. "Sorry. I was having flashbacks to my sophomore year lecture hall. Dr. Schoeneck... God she was boring. Always prattling on about something or another that 19-year-olds couldn't give a crap about..."
"You are minimizing my concerns."
"Because you are always making such a big deal out of everything..."
"All-or-nothing statement! That was an all-or-nothing statement." She looked desperately at the youthful doctor sitting across from them. "We aren't supposed to do that, right?"
"Conveniently forgetting that you made one just two statements ago," Booth pointed out.
Brennan glared at him. "I said we, didn't I? Not you."
"But with that tone you were implying..."
"Guys? Um. I think we lost focus of the issue here. And switched back to arguing about topics. Remember the difference?" Lance Sweets tried. His clients looked at him blankly. "The issue is how you avoid the issue," he told them, helpfully.
Booth looked at the doctor dryly, his arms crossed. "Well, doc. Being as we apparently haven't identified the issue yet, we've been sticking to what we know."
"I'm not convinced there is an issue," Brennan piped up, the argument about cognitive distortions abandoned. "Could it be that we have dealt with all the issues? And all that are left are topics?" Her voice was hopeful.
Defeatedly, both clients sunk back into the couch, their chins tucked down.
"Well, let's think about it, guys. What do you get out of staying on a superficial level most of the time? I mean, this is therapy. It's the one place where you're not only allowed, but encouraged to express deeper emotions. But you don't take advantage of that. Why might that be?" Sweets knew what Booth's answer was going to be, before it even left his mouth.
"Maybe because I'm not a girl?"
"Are you saying I am?" Brennan replied, apparently offended.
"I was just saying that..."
He needed to interrupt this cycle before it went into its typical spiral. "Imagine a closet," he said abruptly.
Booth and Brennan's mouths simultaneously snapped shut as they stared at him. Bingo. "A closet?"
"A closet and a mailbox."
The two looked at each other. "He's finally lost it," Booth murmured into his partner's ear, and she nodded seriously.
Sweets rolled his eyes frustratedly. "It's an analogy. Will you just humor me? For a second? Please?" Not waiting for an answer, he continued. "Let's say, every day, you get mail in your mailbox. But you don't look at it. You are too busy, too convinced it's going to be bad news or junk or something you don't want or need, so instead of opening your mail, you toss it in a closet. And you do this same thing, every day, year after year. And after awhile, your closet is getting just stuffed with mail."
"My closet is quite large. It could contain a great deal of mail."
"Dr. Brennan? Please?" He took another deep breath. "Anyway. Eventually, your closet is practically busting at the hinges. And one day, you go to shove the day's mail in there, it just can't contain anymore. The door bursts upon. And there you are, in a pile of years' worth of mail, completely overwhelmed and having no idea where to even start going through it all.
Their heads were together again. "I think the mail might be the topics. But what's the closet?"
"Maybe the closet is the therapy room," Booth whispered back. "Where all the topics come out. But if the closet is full of topics, where do the issues go?"
"The issues are non-existent," she hissed. "Just like I said." Acting, as always, as if they were the only people in the room and that Sweets was deaf or dumb or both. His patience was boiling over.
"Your feelings!" he shouted, earning an alarmed look from the pair in front of him. "The mail is your feelings and the closet is whatever little corner of your head you put them in, and the explosion is what's going to happen if you don't start sorting through them rather then pretending they don't exist!"
They blinked. Stared. And then, whispered in Booth's ear: "So is the issue the mail, or the closet?"
He couldn't stand it anymore. This isn't what he went to school for five years for. Not to work with brilliant people who were acting purposely dense just to prove that he couldn't pull one over on them. For the first time, he was propelled beyond frustrated and into disgusted. "Just... go home, guys. Go home, and do what you have to do until you're ready to sort through your mail. Because obviously, that time is not now."
They looked at him with innocent eyes. "Whatever you say, Sweets," Booth said slowly. A smile twitched at the corner of Brennan's mouth. This was exactly what they had wanted, he could tell. What they had planned for. To make it seem like it was his choice for them to end therapy.
It was going to take a lot of Grand Theft Auto to calm his frustrations tonight. As his fingers flew over the controller later that evening, he comforted himself with the one thing he knew for a fact. They'd be back. Because when that explosion happened... when they tried to fit in one piece of mail too many... it was going to light up the sky. God help the innocent bystanders. But at least Lance Sweets was the one who would be able to say 'I told you so.'
A/N: Wanna see what that explosion looks like? Stay tuned.
We heart you!