Power Struggle

Power Struggle

Disclaimer: "BONES" and other related entities are owned, (TM) and © by 20th CENTURY FOX TELEVISION.

Author's note: This is the sequel to my other supposed one-shot 'Alpha,' which I decided to continue in a series of consecutive one-shots due to repeated requests. So, if you want more, Review, review, review!!

"I want to spar," Temperance stated. Seeley choked on his morning coffee for a moment before staring at her in surprise.

"I'm sorry, what?" he said. The narrowing of her eyes warned him she was in no mood to suffer fools today and he filed it away into the little section of his mind labelled 'Temperance Brennan.'

"I said, 'I want to spar,'" she repeated, slower this time as if speaking to a foreigner or a simpleton. Seeley found his brows drawing together in an annoyed frown.

"Okay, let me rephrase. Why?" he said. She perched on his desk and crossed her arms as she looked down her nose at him.

"From your exertions last week I've determined that you continually downplay your physical prowess," Temperance said, causing him to choke on his coffee again, this time spilling an amount onto his lap. Swearing, he grabbed a tissue from the box in his drawer and mopped up the mess.

"The hell is that supposed to mean, Bones? My prowess is just fine, thank you very much!" he snapped, feeling a blush ride on his cheeks briefly before his annoyance swept it away. Temperance rolled her eyes in response before shaking her head.

"Not your sexual prowess, Booth, I would have said if that was the case. I said physical prowess. I saw your full-contact practice, remember? You've never indicated that you have that level of combat capability in our discussions," she said. Seeley growled, feeling his aggravation mount at her words.

"I was an army ranger, Bones, combat capability kinda comes with the job, you know?" he said. "Besides, what's there to talk about? There's nothing to be proud of in being able to kick the crap out of people." She arched an eyebrow in response, obviously about to retort with something about his 'alpha-male tendencies,' so he cut her off. "Okay so guys like to talk about that kind of stuff, but that's not the point."

"I thought you said I was like 'one of the guys?'" Temperance said, parroting the phrase he used from a previous discussion. "Wouldn't that indicate you would talk about 'beating people up' with me?" she pointed out. Seeley felt his cheek twitch as his moral high ground steadily deteriorated.

"No, Bones, and that's final," he snapped. Her eyes, which had returned to their usual alluring openness, narrowed dangerously again. Seeley fancied that he could almost hear a feline growl of warning issuing from her rapidly thinning lips.

"Why? Because of some antiquainted sense of morals? Because you won't hit a girl?" she jibed angrily. Seeley bristled, resenting the fact that he felt boxed in inside his own office. A tiny part of him admired the way she somehow managed to dominate any setting with her presence, another part of him was offended that she would actually dare to do it in his office.

"Drop it, Bones. The answer is no," he said, returning to the small pile of paperwork sat on his desk. He jerked back when she leaned down and thrust her face into his personal space, wearing an expression he had rarely seen.

"I'm not asking, Booth. I need to keep in practice. My instructor is currently away in a tournament and I need someone to help me. Unless you'd rather my skills deteriorate so that a suspect could get the drop on me?" she asked. The aggravating tone of her voice and deliberate insinuations about his character began to steadily wear on his nerves.

"What the hell is your problem, Bones? Of course I don't want that, I just don't want to, okay?" he snarled, shooting to his feet. His eyes drank in the sight of her splayed out over his desk like an overgrown cat and he swallowed, simultaneously horrified and awed that she could enrage and arouse him at the same time.

"My problem is that if we get in a situation where we are disarmed and have to work together in a mêlée in order to survive, I want to know what you might do and how you move! What if we tried the same manoeuvre and obstructed each other, allowing a suspect to escape or strike back?" Each sentence she spoke eroded his argument further and further until he reluctantly caved into her logic.

"Damn it," Seeley muttered to himself. He ignored the victorious gleam in her eyes, she would regret it soon enough. "Fine," he said, "but if I call time out, we stop, clear?" Temperance nodded, suddenly pleasant and accommodating. The difference nearly made his head spin.

"Of course. Do you want to do it here, or at my place?" she said. Seeley stared, unable to come up with a response. The slight widening of her eyes gave away her realisation at her unintentional double-entendre and she rose to her feet waving her hands defensively. "I meant did you want to spar here or at my dojo?"

Seeley smirked darkly, enjoying her sudden turn on the defensive.

"I'm happy to do it here," he replied slyly. Temperance blinked, suddenly feeling unsure. A second later she shook herself internally and straightened.

"Fine," she said crisply, "let's go then." Seeley nodded and followed her out of his office, stopping to let another agent know where to find him if he was needed before continuing out into the hall and to the elevator.

The pair rode in silence down to the gym level and separated into their respective changing rooms, Seeley belatedly noticing she carried a large duffel with her that she had picked up just before leaving his office. Silently berating himself for his lapse in concentration, Seeley opened his usual locker and changed into his practice sweats and vest. He paused in front of the sinks and stared at himself in the reflection, wondering why he had agreed in the first place.

True Bones' argument had made sense in a way, but he had mostly agreed to the spar out of frustration. That was not a good reason, in his opinion, especially as he was supposed to be beating on his partner. His female partner.

I'm going to hell, he thought to himself as he exited from the changing rooms. Taking a moment to orient himself, he spotted his partner limbering up on the practice mats and suddenly had trouble swallowing. Currently she was bending over and touching her toes. This would have been fine had she not been facing away from him and providing him with one of the best views he had seen in a while. God bless sweatpants, he thought to himself, allowing a little grin to cross his face as he strolled over.

His smile swiftly departed as he spotted her eyes staring right back at him through her legs a fraction of a second before one of said legs shot back and nailed him in his groin. Collapsing with a strangled yelp, he held himself protectively as he peered up at his assailant.

"The hell, Bones?" he croaked. Her expression was fierce as she glared down at him, her arms akimbo on her hips, feet shoulder width apart.

"I'm ensuring your focus," she replied tartly. "I'm your opponent, not your partner at the moment," she added. Seeley wondered at the statement of 'you can look, just not right now' that her words implied. Externally however, he just grunted sourly and rose gingerly to his feet.

"Did you have to go for the balls, Bones?" he groused. She nodded, falling back several feet and into a ready stance. Karate his mind supplied unasked.

"It was the easiest way to get your attention," she said. He grimaced and began to circle warily, admitting to himself that it had, indeed, gotten his attention. There was no way that was going to happen again. They circled each other wordlessly for a moment, before Seeley took a step forward, slid into a muay tai stance and lashed out with a frontal kick aimed for his partner's chin. He reasoned that, if she wanted him to take her seriously, there was no point in testing her defences, and decided to go for the knock-out.

He was destined to be disappointed however, when she ducked under the strike and hammered a knife hand into the pit of his knee, following with another attempt at his groin. Grunting at the sudden pain, Seeley dodged the follow-up and thrust at her head with a fast elbow that splashed against her guard but made her move back a step.

Capitalising on her momentary pause to regain her balance, he lunged with a knee, breaking through her guard and catching her square on her breastbone. Her eyes widening at the stunning impact, Temperance dove to the side and heard the heavy footfall that signified another strike with his legs.

Avoid the legs, must avoid the legs! The thought raced across her consciousness and she reacted, whipping around and catching him solidly in the face with a powerful, crisp right cross that staggered him. She grinned in response to his surprised look.

"I believe it's called 'tit for tat?'" she said. His expression closed up and Temperance felt an unidentifiable thrill race up her spine at the silent promise in his eyes. The same look she had seen the previous week when he had emerged victorious over his fellow agents.

Seeley kept his eyes riveted on his partner as he began to move again, the dull throb where her dainty fist had smashed into his face reminding him again just how dangerous the woman before him could be. Blocking a three combination strike he recognised as being jeet kun do, he allowed himself to close, bodychecking his partner and attempting to trap her in a judo hold whilst she was off balance.

Instead he found himself wrestling with a human eel comprised of hard elbows and knees. Disengaging, he winced slightly as he felt a particularly tender spot just above his kidney and allowed himself to admire just how tenacious she was. She stood opposite, a light sheen of sweat covering her skin and moulding the sweats to her long, graceful legs, her eyes alight with the fierce blaze of competition.

He found himself grinning, the thrill of challenge thundering in his veins. The challenge only she seemed to be able to offer. The other week he had felt nothing like the euphoria that saturated his body now, just the thrill of combat. He felt it now, just like he always did when they argued, and decided that, this time, he wanted to win.

He grunted as he absorbed a punishing blow to his ribs in order to successfully land a wicked uppercut to his partner's diaphragm that stole the air from her lungs and made her legs sag as she struggled to breathe. A smile crossed his face until she deliberately collapsed on her legs and snapped a punch to his knee. The jagged spike of pain made him snarl as his knee collapsed beneath him, but he went with the motion and drove a punch straight at her face.

He felt a second's admiration as she expertly shifted into an aikido move that caused his punch to flow past her ear before it was obliterated as her forehead pounded into his cheek, knocking him back on his backside and filling his world with stars.

Her head's as hard as her personality. The idle thought wandered gaily through his mind as he rolled backwards out of her shorter range and assessed the damage. He could feel his cheek beginning to swell, his knees burned from the strikes she'd managed to land and his ribs felt like he'd been kicked by a donkey.

Great shape, he thought sarcastically to himself. A part of his mind admitted that he had thought the fight would be easier when he wasn't holding back. Apparently, his partner had been holding back when he had seen her in action, an assumption he was now paying for. This is ridiculous, he thought to himself, she might have three black belts in different styles, but I'm a-

His thoughts were cut off when the svelte body of his partner smashed past his guard in a two-fisted strike that left him breathless and struggling for air. Before she could retract her arms he grabbed her and used his currently weakened body to drag her to the floor, where his greater body mass might give him enough of an edge in order to regain his breath.

"You take my breath away, Bones," he joked gruffly as he struggled to pin the writhing woman down. Her fierce look of concentration flickered to a devilish grin before she licked the side of his sweat-dappled face.

"Anytime," she growled huskily, managing to squirm her way out of his grasp and roll to her feet again. Putting aside his shock at the unorthodox method used to escape his hold; Seeley gave a feral smile and shot to his feet in pursuit. Allowing the adrenaline flooding his body to temporarily blunt the force of his partner's blows, he batted aside her defence and scored a solid blow to her kidneys he knew she would be feeling for weeks.

Much to his dismay, Temperance merely howled like a cat and smashed him in the face with her elbow instead of dropping like a sack of potatoes. Apparently she got madder the more pain she felt, he mused to himself as he tried to see past the blood that had begun oozing into his right eye from the cut on his forehead. Not the news he wanted to receive.

The look on Temperance's face as she came at him again could only be described as grim. The way her auburn hair was plastered to her face by her sweat where it escaped the messy ponytail made him think of an Amazonian warrior in the midst of deadly battle and he matched the sudden savage grin she sported from a successful blow by grabbing the outstretched limb and bringing his head to hers with a sharp crack.

She'll feel that one in the morning, he thought gleefully, completely caught up in the moment. He wanted to win, damn it. His momentary celebration was once more cut short by a knife hand that slipped past his guard to catch him in the throat, leaving him open to the leg sweep that suddenly made his world tilt on its ear as his back slammed into the mats.

An eye blink later and Temperance straddled his waist, one fist raised in the air to strike, the other hovering in the vicinity of his nose.

"I give," he croaked, massaging his bruised throat. She paused, her chest heaving from the exertion, giving her mind time to catch up to his words. His eyes locked onto a drop of sweat as it coursed down her throat and across her clavicle before disappearing into the swell between her breasts. Suddenly the tight fitting grey sports top seemed far racier than it had a moment ago.

"You give? Just like that?" she said, her eyes narrowing. Seeley wondered if he saw disappointment flit through them.

"I'm not about to let you knock me unconscious, Bones," he said, the scratchiness of his voice making him cough. She grunted and began levering herself to her feet, only to sag to her knees as the adrenaline wore off, nearly managing to sit on his face. A soft hum issued from his throat as he stared up at her from between her thighs, the scent of sweat and woman causing his senses to go crazy.

Unable to articulate the sensation, he simply stared up at her, his eyes dark and smoky, hands gripping her upper thighs in a grip so tight she knew it would leave bruises. Not that she would have noticed, considering the only thing she could concentrate on were his deep, dangerous eyes and the sensation of his breath on her body.

Wordlessly they helped each other to their feet, remaining barely a breath apart the entire time; their eyes boring into those of the other so hard anyone watching would have sworn they saw flames.

"You win this round," Seeley grated roughly as he struggled to maintain his composure.

"I'll win the next one, too," she purred, her hands splayed across his chest. He almost felt like growling at her, but she ghosted out of reach, her blue eyes boring into him as victorious little smile flitted across her lips just before she disappeared into the changing room.

Though he had been beaten, Seeley couldn't shake the feeling that he was the winner, somehow. Growling to himself, he headed for the showers, the memory of his partner's smoky gaze firmly stuck in his mind.