I sat at my desk, massaging my temples. I'd had a fierce headache ever since we'd been called out in the August sun to uncover the remains of two boys, no older than Parker. It had taken me hours, the multiple fractures and scattered nature of the remains in a washed-out ravine making the recovery slow, grueling work. I don't know, looking back, who started the fight, but it escalated when we got back to the lab and he was hovering, waiting for me to say it was murder.
We were in each other's faces between the two examining tables, yelling at one another on the platform, for everyone to hear. I told him I gave a damn, goddamnit, which was why I wouldn't rush it. "We can't arrest someone and put them away if I make a mistake."
"You don't make mistakes. But you could speed it up!"
I turned my back, bending again over one of the boys. "Don't turn your back on me when I'm yelling at you," he said, grabbing my shoulder and pulling me roughly around to face him, inches away from my face.
"Don't you ever, ever, make such a sudden move around my remains. If you knock something over, you bully, I might never find out what happened. And don't you ever, ever, touch me like that again. Get back on your side of your precious goddamned line, Special Agent Booth, and let me get back to catching the bad guys."
He paled, his whole expression changing, as I turned my back on him again. He was standing so close I could feel the heat, and the panic, and the anger, radiating off of him. Utter silence surrounded us.
"Jack, I need you to take some scrapings, here," I said, "there're two different kinds of dirt on these shoes."
"Be right there, Dr. B."
I could feel Booth back off, turn around, walk slowly away and off the platform. I sighed, and got back to work. An hour later, I sent him a one-line text message. "Murder. Sexual Assault, both. Angela working on IDs." I hadn't heard from him since, and now it was seven o'clock, and my headache was driving me from the lab as much as I wanted to stay and continue to bring those boys home to the people who loved them. If there were any.
I half-closed the door, hung up my lab coat, and headed back to my desk for my bag.
"Temperance," he said, from the doorway. "May I come in?"
"Of course." I knelt for my bag, pulled it out, and stood up, turning around. He was holding a small box, longer than wide, tied with a blue ribbon the color of a summer sky.
"I'm sorry, I..."
"I know, it's OK."
He crossed the room, put his hand under my chin, tilted my face up. "No, it's not. I shouldn't have yelled at you in the first place, and I never should have grabbed you like that."
He was really upset. "I was just worried about the remains. It's alright."
"You're sure?" he asked, looking at me with those lost puppy eyes he got when he was really worried about something.
"Yes, it's fine." He looked at me, swallowing, thinking hard about something.
"Here, open it." He took my hand, placed the box in it, and swallowed, hard, again.
"You didn't need to bring a peace offering."
"It's not, really. Just, please, open it?"
I untied the ribbon-- such a pretty color-- and put it on my desk. Lifting the lid off, I saw a plain white piece of paper, folded. Opening it, I saw Booth's writing, in pencil. Our names-- "Booth," and "Bones," with a line drawn vertically between them. Underneath the card, there was a fancy mechanical pencil, the kind they give you on work anniversaries. The eraser cap had already been removed. Placing the box down on my desk, and picking up the pencil with my other hand, I turned it, until I saw the engraving. "Eventually." And that day's date.
I looked up at him-- he swallowed, exhaled almost imperceptibly.
Turning the pencil over in my hand, I did the only thing I could. I scrubbed out the line that he'd drawn on that paper, capped the eraser, twisted back the lead, and put my hair up in a bun, spearing it with the pencil. It took me two tries to get my hair up-- my hands were shaking, more than I'd expected they would.
Looking back at him, I whispered, "about time." His hand made its way to my cheek again, drew me near.
"I was always a nonlinear thinker anyway," he said, leaning in. My response never made it past his lips.