A/N: Yeah, I know it's been forever since I last wrote a story, and this one is slow coming, so don't expect super frequent updates! I know, I know, I'm so kind. :) A huge thank you and many hugs to Carrie (a fantastic fellow Bones author – vadergirl52), my super-editor, who is keeping this story going and providing lots of fantastic feedback and story advice. It's really half her story…
General spoilers for Pain in the Heart. This is an M to be safe… Though right now it's more of a T. The story title is from the song "So Close" from the movie Enchanted. I love that movie. Each chapter title is a lyric from the song.
Required disclaimer: I own none of it.
Almost believing this was not pretending
It had begun so innocently. Sharing the acceptance letter Zack had saved all those years. Leaning his head against hers, counting on their closeness, both physically and emotionally, to help ease the pain. After a few moments, he pulled back and looked at her, saw the uncertainty in her eyes, the worry, the loss, the pain, and wanted to make it all go away. Wanted to relieve the clenching of his own heart.
He ran his fingers through her hair, down her cheek, brushing away the few tears that had fallen. She seemed startled by his tenderness. He kissed her, softly, gently, finding an outlet for their sorrow. Tentatively, her hand found his neck, wound into his hair as the kiss deepened.
And for a blissful moment all was forgotten. Zack, Gormagon, lines that shouldn't be crossed, open stairways, Limbo, bones...
Then, a voice, "Whoa."
"What is it, Jack?" Angela asked.
They pulled apart instantly, each moving to the far end of the step. Jack would have found it comical had he not been so stunned. Brennan looked up with a look of horror in her eyes.
"Nothing, Angie," Jack replied, not able to take his eyes of the duo in front of him. "I just slipped on the step. Almost lost my balance."
Brennan sighed audibly, and Booth nodded slightly, as if approving of the response. Neither heard the rest of the engaged couple's conversation. Brennan was too busy trying to not look at Booth, and Booth was too busy trying to get Brennan to meet his gaze.
As Angela met Jack at the top of the stairs, Brennan stood. "I'm going home."
Angela walked down and enveloped her friend in a hug. "Try and get some rest, Sweetie." Brennan nodded, feeling tears come back into her eyes.
Jack hugged her next as Angela went over to Booth. "I have to tell her, you know," he whispered. "As soon as we get out of here and we're alone, she'll know I'm hiding something."
Brennan took a step back. "It was nothing."
"I think we both know that's a lie. I know emotions are running high right now, and it could just be the conspiracy theorist in me talking, but everything happens for a reason."
Her eyes followed them as they exited and landed on Booth. "He's going to tell Angela." Booth didn't respond. "You don't seem surprised."
He shrugged. "They tell each other everything. I'd be surprised if he didn't say something."
"Besides, it was nothing, right?" She crossed her arms tightly in front of her. "We're just over-emotional. Stressed. It's been a tough couple of days." She watched his face droop slightly and her brow furrowed. "Right?"
Booth assessed her expression, saw the panic creeping into her eyes. "Yeah, right." She visibly relaxed and Booth knew it was the right answer, even if it wasn't the most truthful. "Come on, I'll take you home."
"You don't have to do that," came her quick reply.
"Yes, I do. I drove you here this morning."
Shit. She'd forgotten. It was just a little kiss, right? A meaningless, emotional outlet. She had no reason to avoid being in a closed space with Booth.
"I'll get my things."
She rejoined him a few minutes later, and this time his hand warmed her entire body when he pressed it to her back to guide her out the front door.
They rode in silence, Brennan's head resting on the cool glass of the window. Booth kept glancing her way, wishing he could read her mind. Was she thinking about him? Of their kiss? Of Zack? A part of him was happy he kissed her just for the distraction from his darker thoughts of their former team member. The feel of Bones' lips on his had certainly lightened his mood. But he knew, deep down, the kiss never would have happened if he wasn't attracted to her in the first place. He sighed and drew his attention back to the road.
She was surprised when he parked in her lot and moved to exit the car. "You don't have to walk me to my door, Booth."
"I know. I want to."
"I'm a big girl…"
"Just let me do this," he cut her off. "I want to know you're safe inside. And don't lecture me on my possessive nature," he said as she prepared to protest. "We've both been through enough lately for me to be a little protective, okay?" His tone warned her not to argue.
He followed her up the stairs and to her door. "Your dad home?"
"No, he's visiting Russ for a while. I think he realized I wanted some time alone." She unlocked the door and entered. She took a quick look around. "See? Nothing to worry about."
But there was something to worry about. Booth had an unrecognizable look in his eyes and before she knew what was happening, the door had shut behind them and he had pressed her up against the frame, his mouth devouring hers.
For a scant millisecond, she considered protesting, but it felt good…oh, so good. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him impossibly closer. His hands wound around her waist, making her shirt ride up so his arms were pressed against the smooth skin of her back. His tongue dueled with hers, and she ran her fingernails down his back, causing him to thrust against her. She could feel his hardness sear into her and she groaned. His hands slipped to her hips and he drew circles on her abdomen with his thumbs. Goosebumps formed all over her body. She had never wanted someone so much in her life.
She pulled back first. He had expected it. Counted on it. For as much as he wanted her, now was no the moment. None of this would have happened if Zack hadn't… if they hadn't lost Zack.
Brennan took a few deep breaths and straightened her shirt. "What is going on?"
Most would think the question hypothetical, but not from Brennan, not now.
"We're mourning, Bones. People use pleasure to escape their pain. Do you know how much sex occurs after funerals?"
"But Zack didn't die."
"Zack may still be living, but the truth is we've lost a part of our team. The old squint squad -- the old way of doing this -- is dead. The old Zack, the Zack we knew and loved, is dead."
"I refuse to believe that." Tears began to flow just when she thought no more possibly could. She sat on the couch and Booth took his place next to her. He put his arm around her shoulders, but the gesture spoke only of friendship. "He risked his life to save Jack."
"I know. And the old Zack may return some day. But for now we all need to mourn, all need to process this in our own way. And there's extra pressure on us."
She gazed at him, wary. "How do you mean?"
"We're the center. We put things back together when they fall apart."
She sighed and leaned into his embrace. "So we forget this happened? Move on and find a way to get back to normal?"
"We move on," Booth agreed, leaning his head on hers, mirroring the action that began all of this. "But we don't forget, because something like what just happened between us, has meaning. It just needs to be addressed later, once we get back to normal, as you said. Whatever our version of normal is."
She'd have preferred to forget, at least publicly, because she already feared how she'd handle what happened privately. But she knew he was right.
"Friends?" she asked.
They sat in silence for a few moments, each to their own thoughts. About the fortieth time he replayed their passionate kiss over in his head, Booth knew it was time to leave.
He stood. "I'm going. You okay?" She nodded. "We okay?"
"Always," she smiled.
She walked him to the door and Booth paused, leaning forward slightly, then awkwardly reaching for the doorknob. He was going to kiss her again. Amazing how two kisses, three if you counted their "Christmas dare," made kissing Bones seem routine.
"Okay, see you Monday," he stammered, as he left.
"Right, and we'll start putting the pieces back together."
Damn it, she looked at once fearful and hopeful and he just couldn't help himself. He leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. It was nothing in comparison to what had happened when they entered the apartment, but Brennan found herself flushing nonetheless. Even more worrying, they both found a sense of comfort from the gesture.
Booth left and Brennan shut the door. On each side, the duo leaned against the hard wood. Both were well aware that their version of normal had changed for good.
Please review! I really want to know what you think – your feedback often helps to guide my writing. It also encourages my writing and gets me posting faster! Want to see more B/B interaction? Want to see a case thrown in there? Let me know!