Author: Lucy (somethingsdont)
Timeline: 4.03, The Man in the Outhouse
Summary: "Not everything has to be scientific or logical, Bones. Sometimes you can just have butterflies."
Notes: I still haven't seen the majority of the episodes of Bones, so fair warning!
How they got there seemed irrelevant, though it wasn't. Details were essential in everything they did.
An arduous case or a failed testimony was always a likely suspect, but some days, there was the search for companionship, for the proximity and the interaction embedded in routine, habit. A surrogate relationship.
Brennan stared up at the darkening sky, her legs extended down the steps of the courthouse. It was an unnaturally quiet night, but the stillness was a welcome change from the clamor of crime and the din of divorce that frequently surrounded the courthouse in a chaotic clash of malicious accusations.
Beside her, Booth shifted, his hip bumping lightly against hers. "What are you thinking about?"
Brennan's gaze didn't waver from the clouds, a shifting mass of purple-gray overhead. "The scattering of sunlight," she replied. "The human eye's perception of color."
Booth squinted up at the sky, but he quickly decided that the beauty of any celestial accumulations paled in comparison. He nudged her arm. "We missed the sunset."
Finally, she diverted her attention from the sky. "The sunset occurs daily. It is hardly an unusual phenomenon."
"I see you every day," he pointed out.
Brennan allowed a tiny smile. "Are you insinuating that I'm an unusual phenomenon?"
Booth shook his head. "You're special, Bones."
"I'm… aware that you believe so," she replied carefully.
"It's true." Booth turned to the sky for a moment, his words unpracticed, authentic. "It doesn't matter if the sunset happens every day, because it's beautiful every day."
The implication behind his words nestled itself deep within her conscience, settling like a bear in hibernation: soundless but still solid. Brennan didn't particularly enjoy implications, believed that one should be forthright and candid, but she appreciated that he'd verbalized thoughts she was too afraid to even form.
Partnerships and friendships lasted longer than lovers ever could. She thought of Angela and Hodgins. She remembered Mark and Not-Gay Jason, and how, even though she'd prepared herself – mentally, emotionally – for the inevitable end, she'd still experienced the twinge of rejection, the discomfort accompanied with a failed relationship. Or in her case, two.
All relationships were temporary. What she had with Booth kept her grounded; change would be unpredictable.
Brennan turned to him and was surprised to find him watching her with a fiery intensity matched by nobody else in her life. She thrived on that, on potential, possibility.
Booth seemed amused. "Now I know you're not thinking about looking at colors in the sky."
"I'm thinking about us," she revealed without giving it a second thought.
His eyes darkened. "Yeah?"
She nodded, a thoughtful expression displayed across her features. "You don't really believe what Sweets said about a surrogate relationship, do you?"
He exhaled. "Do you think our relationship replaces other relationships?"
Brennan took a moment to consider this. "No, I think our relationship is a separate, self-sufficient entity."
His head tilted slightly in a nod. "I agree."
"I mean, surrogacy suggests that our relationship is somehow inferior to those we're replacing," she continued, "and that's not true." She searched him for affirmation, though she didn't need it. She knew.
There was nothing particularly romantic about the courthouse steps, but the electricity ran from him to her and back. She could speak of cathodes and anodes and energy transfer, break it down to metabolic reactions and particle motion, but for a moment, she believed in chemistry, too. The kind that pure science couldn't explain.
This was still them, but something else was happening now, something breathtaking, and she found it surprisingly easy to accept.
"Do you get butterflies, Bones?" Booth rested his hand against her abdomen for a moment, tapped lightly and pulled away. "You know, in your stomach when you're nervous."
Brennan shook her head, adamant. "Nervousness is a chemical reaction within the temporal lobe of the brain," she reasoned. "It has nothing to do with the stomach or butterflies."
Booth slipped his fingers between hers, their sweaty palms touching. "They don't flutter?"
Flap. Flap, flap. Flap.
She stared at her hand cradled in his and felt the wings beating, distinctly. "No."
Their bodies remained stationary, shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, and the silence was neither stifling nor guarded. Too often, they spoke a meaningless tangle of words, phrases that danced around their mutual attraction and ignored what they really craved from one another. Always two steps away from the door; a lost key or a jammed lock or a multitude of excuses for why they were still here.
Brennan shivered inaudibly and instinctively leaned against Booth, communicating a request she was too proud to verbalize. His arm fell around her shoulders, and his fingertips reached for her cheek, his thumb lightly trailing along her jaw line. She felt goose bumps rising up along the back of her neck and closed her eyes. She wasn't one for exaggerated revelry, but she was at peace here and wanted to hold on to the moment for as long as she could have it.
"In a completely figurative sense, where the butterflies are an ideological representation of apprehension, then yes, I might have butterflies." The admission was dismissive, lacking fanfare.
Booth grinned and suppressed the urge to kiss her closed lids. He gave her shoulder a light squeeze. "What took you so long?" he asked, the words teasing until they stayed suspended in the air, heavy. It wasn't exactly a question, but rather a blind search for confirmation. He knew it wasn't just in his head, what they had, what they didn't yet, but he needed to hear it from her.
Brennan tilted her head to look at him; the color in his eyes was piercing. A lifetime of education and forensic experience didn't seem adequate to generate a reply rivaling the significance of the moment, but her response was genuine, uncharacteristically metaphorical. "Butterflies take a long time to metamorphose."
Booth chuckled. "Are you saying you've had caterpillars in there the whole time?" he asked, flicking his fingertips lightly against her abdomen again.
His knocks stirred a flurry of whipping wings up to her ribcage; her heartbeat attempted in vain to catch up. His breath was light against her skin, and when he leaned in to kiss her forehead, her eyes fluttered shut again. The tenderness of the moment was not lost on either of them, and though neither could specify exactly what it meant, they both knew it was important.
"I've never heard of that," she articulated, referring to the caterpillars.
"I just made it up 'cause I'm a thinker," he replied proudly, tapping the side of his head to prove his point, though her eyes were still closed.
She smiled, her head motionless against his shoulder. "The expression doesn't make much sense, regardless."
Booth brushed a strand of hair away from her face, his fingers lingering across her cheekbone, and he kissed her again, the tip of her nose this time. "Not everything has to be scientific or logical, Bones."
Brennan's eyes opened; he was inches from her face, and though it'd grown dark, everything was clear here. She could almost feel her pupils dilating, every nerve ending lighting up in anticipation of the unscientific and illogical.
Something changed. The wings burned hot at the pit of her stomach – epinephrine, she reasoned to herself. Epinephrine causing muscular contractions. Her heart was pounding hard, though her features didn't betray any of that. She wondered if he could hear it anyway, the way she could hear his, finally deciding that it didn't matter. She'd be fooling herself if she placed any merit in her ability to hide from him and vice versa. She could still surprise him, she knew, but when it came to affairs of the heart, he understood.
Their lips touched, and it was tentative and experimental, not how she remembered their first one to be, but this was for keeps. The significance of that did nothing to deter them, however, and as they eased into the kiss, the intensity grew tenfold. She moaned into his mouth, a low, throaty sound, and it drove him crazy to think that he could elicit those noises from her. It was addicting, potent, better than the first, because there was no Caroline, no motives, no excuses to hide behind. She was kissing him because she wanted to be.
Booth pulled away first, because all those years in the Army Rangers and Brennan still had better lung capacity than he did.
She smiled. "Was that logical or scientific?"
He mirrored her smile. "Neither. Sometimes you can just have butterflies."
Sometimes she did.