Disclaimer: I've done lots of illegal things (well, not a lot) but stealing from Fox is not one of them. Bones is the property of Fox, Hart Hansen, Barry Josephson and co.
Dedication: To my best friend and beta. Don't know why I keep her around cause she can't keep a deadline and she makes so many mistakes of her own…just kidding! Love your guts, sweetie.
"I don't think this is appropriate."
"Since when do you care about appropriate?" I ask as I slide the SUV into a parking space.
"It's just... I feel uncomfortable doing this," she admits. She looks at me with that lost little girl look that always makes my heart yo-yo from my chest to my feet and back again.
"Bones, she would want to see you enjoying life. Maybe this is a way to share it with her," I respond, trying to keep my voice steady so she doesn't realize how much it hurts me when she hurts. I get out of the car and open the trunk. She joins me and grabs the picnic basket. I almost stop her. It's a very big basket, after all, and I was raised a gentleman. But then I remember that it's Bones and the usual rules of chivalry don't apply to her. I shake my head to clear the thoughts so she can't follow them. Don't look at me like I'm crazy. Sometimes she looks at me and those eyes seem to x-ray me and discover exactly what I'm thinking. She would not react kindly to being thought of as weak in any way and she's already mad at me for dragging her here as it is. I pull out a table cloth. I almost brought a quilt so we could eat on the grass, but luckily I scoped the place out beforehand and found picnic tables close by.
We walk over to them and I spread the table cloth as she opens the umbrella for shade. She seems glad to be eating at a table instead of on the ground. More separate or something. It's weird for her to be the squeamish one. Usually she'd be all "the tradition of the headstone began in the court of King Achmed the 91st" or digging up the caskets, going "ooooh, look how well preserved the mandible is! See how prominent the occipital lobe is, which indicates Boogady-Boogady Syndrome". But now she's silent. I can see her fingers itching to check her cell phone for messages, hoping that an urgent situation will arise that would mean she wouldn't have to sit here for too long.
"Tell me a story," I prompt to distract her from pulling out her laptop, hitting me over the head with it and running away, stealing my car in the process.
She looks at me like I'm completely nuts. I surreptitiously switch my keys to the other pocket so she can't hijack my car without a fight.
"Share a memory of your childhood, of your mother," I nudge, knowing that she might close up at any point. Sure enough…
"I have very few distinct memories of my mother," she tells me in a stiff voice. Her face shuts down and her eyes become hard and crystalline.
"Didn't your family ever do anything together? Go to a museum, the zoo, the beach…" Her eyes are still distant and icy. I rack my brains for something that will draw a reaction and the first thing that comes to mind is her face when I first mentioned we were going on a picnic: her mouth turned down and her eyes full of something I didn't recognize. "What about a picnic? Did you ever go on a picnic?" I can see that same something written on her face as before so I prod harder. "When my family went on picnics, I would throw a football around with my dad and my brother. Did you guys play games? You know, jump rope or fly a kite?"
"Booth, stop it." There's pain in her voice and that hurts me. I don't know why I'm pushing her so hard. I don't remember when she became so important. It just seemed that suddenly she was the first thing I thought about every morning, her name appearing in my prayers every night and she played a starring role in every one of my dreams. I'm a stubborn jerk, I know, but somewhere along the line, I started to believe I knew what was best for her. And this not dealing with her past thing is not healthy. She just needs to open up a little, let some of the memories out. So I keep pushing.
"Did you throw a ball around? Or a Frisbee?" She freezes and the carnival lights blaze on in my head. We have a winner, ladies and gents!
She never completely relaxes, but her shoulders aren't as straight and her posture isn't as stiff. She starts talking in the smiling dreamy voice that I call her "remembering voice". I lean forward to listen just because of the change in her voice. She doesn't realize yet that she plays me like an instrument, that I am so attuned to her body language and tone of voice.
"There was this one time. My mom called it a hooky picnic. She called the school and told them that dad, Russ and I had all gotten a virus, and then she called her office and told them that she had to stay home with us. We drove to another town, maybe 20 miles away, and went to a park there. I played Frisbee with Russ and my dad. We spent hours there, until it got dark. And the whole time my mom was just watching us with this smile on her face, like watching us throw a plastic disk around was her idea of the ideal day."
She looks up at me, and she's that mix of Dr. Brennan- cool and adult- and Tempe-so bruised and anxious for love- that makes up my Bones. "Booth," she said softly, "You didn't have to come here with me. I would have been just fine on my own. I'm sure you had better things to do today."
I don't tell her that if I hadn't invited her on this picnic, I would probably be at home, in my recliner, thinking of other ways to spend the day with Bones. Instead I just say, "Everyone needs to talk sometimes, Bones."
The moment has that suspended heaviness and then she stretches. "Let's see what you packed in here." I grin, loving that she has taken on my usual role as tension breaker. She flips the top on the basket and peers inside. She pulls out the bottles of water I put on top and seems satisfied that I didn't pack soda or Gatorade or coffee. As she sees what's under the water, the look on her face changes to horror. "You brought hot wings and noodles? Couldn't you have just packed egg salad?" There's a cry in her voice. "Please tell me there's some fruit hidden in there."
I look at her uncomprehendingly. "You know, bananas, peaches, apples..." she continues half-heartedly. Her voice trails off at my continued lack of recognition of the concept of 'fruit' and she finally asks defeatedly, "Are the noodles at least whole wheat?"
I roll my eyes. "No, and before you ask, I didn't pack any tofu either." I pull out the container of hot wings. "Picnics are supposed to be enjoyable, and how can you enjoy yourself when your food tastes like crap?" I hand her a hot wing. "The only way to have fun is to eat things that are bad for you."
She glares at the wing and I glare at her. She lifts it to her mouth and then pauses. "I just want you to be aware that this goes completely against my standards of healthful eating." She bites into the wing and a blissful looks comes over her face. She sees me looking and tries to cover it up with her small-surprised-frown-raised-eyebrow combo. (The amount of time I have spent cataloging Bones's facial expressions is too sad to admit.) "It's not bad," she concedes and continues to take small bites so I don't get the impression that she actually likes it.
We chat for a little while longer (during which time, I would like it to be noted, Bones eats more than half of the hot wings). The moon is starting to come out and the sky is that foggy, faded, muted blue that comes with twilight as we begin to pack up. As we put the stuff into the SUV, Bones notices something in the corner. "Booth, why do you have diving gear in the trunk of your car?"
I allow myself a small smirk and wiggle my eyebrows. "That's for next weekend."
"Where are we going?" she asks in her adorable "I don't even realize I'm flirting with you" voice.
"You'll see," I tell her mysteriously, "Just have your swim wear ready."
She raises an eyebrow but doesn't comment, and goes to climb into the passenger seat. I close the trunk and go around to my door. As I get in, I remember.
"I forgot the table cloth. I'll be right back."
I jog back to the table and fold up the cloth. I turn and walk a few steps until I'm at the right stone. I pull a daisy from my pocket and lay it on the grave.
"Thank you," I tell Christine Brennan. I turn around and run back to the car. Because Christine was right: anytime with Bones is the ideal day.