Dr. Temperance Brennan filled in the words "todiefor" in 8 across. She looked up from the crossword puzzle, scanning the faces of the court clerks, looking for some hint that the session would be starting soon. Jury duty for most people is a hassle, but for the busy Dr. Temperance Brennan it's nearly unbearable. The sitting around, the waiting, the idleness, made her crazy. If they would just get started, she thought, I'll easily be able to convince the judge that I need to go. She looked around, noticing the distinct lack of action on the part of the court staff and she sighed. Nothing yet.
She glanced back down at her crossword puzzle. The clue for 10-down read "Intimate Partners", 6 letters. That's an easy one, she thought, writing "L-O-V-E-R-S" in red ink, the only pen she had. Beside her, her cell phone buzzed with a text message. She looked around furtively and picked it up, half-hiding it in her handbag. She knew she wasn't supposed to have a phone in the courtroom, but she had convinced the court officer that her position at the Jeffersonian was of sufficient importance to warrant her keeping it with her at all times. She saw the message was from Booth. Ah ha, she thought. A case. This'll get me out of here quick.
Booth: WHERE ARE YOU? NEED YOU NOW. GOT A BODY.
Brennan texted back: You know where I am. I told you 5 times yesterday. Jury duty.
Brennan: Jury duty. My civic duty.
Booth: Yeah, yeah. Why are you still there? Haven't they released you yet? I'm coming down there.
Her grip on the phone tightened, DON'T, she texted, I'll be out of here in 20 minutes.
She flipped the phone closed and shoved it back into her bag. She blew her hair off her forehead and looked around. No use having Booth here now, she thought. He'd only make things worse. Probably get her assigned to something boring and really long like a tax evasion case. Actually, she thought, tax evasion could be interesting under the right set of circumstances. Focus, she thought to herself. Focus on getting out of here. She stood up, smoothing her skirt, working up a polite cough.
"Excuse me. Um, hello, Excuse me, Officer. "All the prospective jurors glanced up dazedly in her direction then looked away. A court officer wearily rose from his desk and made his way over to her, his eyes telling the same story he'd heard a thousand times. "Look Miss, you have to sit there until the judge is ready to question the jurors."
"I'm sorry," Brennan said, "It's just that I am late for a very important appointment. You see, I am a forensic anthropologist with the Jeff…"
"Yes, I know, "the officer said, "you've told me now 5 times. But I can't let you go. You aren't law enforcement and you aren't a medical doctor, so you stay. Now, pipe down. The judge will be here in a few minutes."
"Well, I am a doctor, "she said, sitting down, momentarily defeated.
"All rise," the clerk said a few minutes later.
The judge strode in, a trim older woman whose robe was too big for her, more like a child playing dress-up than an officer of the court. She sat down, shuffled through some paperwork and called the clerk to her desk. Brennan looked back down at the crossword puzzle. Looks like its going to be a while longer, she thought. 25 across -- partner of Bacall. Another easy one.
She looked up when she heard a commotion coming from outside the courtroom. Oh no, she thought. It couldn't be.
"Bones!" She heard what sounded like a scuffle going on outside the massive oak doors. She cringed. Booth. Well, I guess I'm ready to be assigned to that tax evasion case.
The judge looked up from her conversation with the clerk, "What on earth is going on out there?" A court officer strode out while the commotion outside continued. She heard something about "being in contempt" and "actual jail time" before the officer returned with Seeley Booth striding along behind him. Booth's eyes scanned the jury audience before zeroing in on Brennan. He smiled an especially wicked smile as he approached the bench.
"This man, "the officer stated hotly, "is from the FBI and is requesting the release of a one," he looked at the paper in his hand, "Dr. Temperance Brennan, his partner, to assist in a homicide investigation." He handed something to the judge who looked over it.
"Dr. Brennan, please approach the bench." Brennan scooted out of the aisle, all eyes on the slim brunette with the unapproachable air.
The judge continued, "Dr. Brennan, I suppose you know this man." Brennan took a sideways glance at Booth, who continued to grin at her.
"Yes, your honor, he is my partner and probably needs me for the identification of a body suspected in foul play."
The judge eyed Booth and Brennan. "You," she pointed at Booth, "will never come in my courtroom or any other courtroom in that manner again. Do I make myself clear?"
"Yes, ma'm," Booth replied.
"Dr. Brennan, you have approximately 24 hours to complete this body identification and report back here for duty."
"But your honor," Dr. Brennan protested.
"But nothing," the judge continued, "I notice you have deferred jury duty approximately 4 times. Time to pay the piper, Dr. Brennan. You are not automatically excused from jury duty any more than the rest of the hardworking people sitting behind you." Brennan glanced over her shoulder at the jurors, hostility and jealousy evident on their faces.
"You may go. See you tomorrow."
Booth took Brennan by the arm and quickly led her out of the courtroom. "Nice going, Bones, what'd ya do, talk some of that squint talk to the judge? You really ticked her off".
"What? No. I didn't say a word to her."
They headed out to Booth's SUV.
"I've got a body," Booth said as he pulled out of the parking log, "found in a shallow grave at a rest stop south of town. Dead maybe a few days. Lots of meat still left on it."
"Why was I called then? I work with bones, not cadavers."
"Apparently there are bone fragments found with the body that are not related," Booth replied, leaning over to turn on the radio. "Mind if we listen to the game? It's the final four."
"I don't mind. What's a final four?"
"It's the basketball playoffs. The final four teams compete for the championship," he said, then chuckled. "But why I am I bothering to explain this to you? You think sports are for overgrown adolescents."
"Yes, while I do think sports are a way for grown men to work through childish impulses of power and control, basketball itself is a very beautiful sport in the execution."
Booth looked at her, "Well, that's nice to hear from you Bones," he replied, "it is a beautiful thing to watch." He shifted his eyes between her and the road.
She ignored his gaze and turned her head to look out of the window. It was a beautiful spring day. She watched the bright green of new growth blooming outside her window. "Something's wrong," he said, looking over at her, "I can always tell when something is wrong with my Bones." He smiled one of his big goofy grins, but behind his sparkling eyes she could tell he was being serious.
"No", she said, keeping her eyes on the passing scenery. Her shoulders rose, then fell abruptly. She turned to him, "Well, yes, actually, there is something wrong. I'm perfectly capable of getting myself out of jury duty. I don't need you running to the rescue every 5 minutes."
His face fell, "Oh, I didn't mean…"
"Normally I allow you these moments of alpha-male behavior because I know how important it is for you to take care of your partner and those you care about, but really, Booth…jury duty? I needed saving from jury duty?"
He ran a hand through his hair, "Sorry Bones, it's just this case…I was anxious to get you out of there. I thought you could use a hand."
"It's OK." She looked away again, it obviously wasn't OK. A heavy silence fell over them.
Booth bit his lip, started to say something, then thought better of it. Something was obviously bothering her, but was it really him and his clunky extraction of her from the courtroom? He leaned over to the radio, changing the dial, stopping on an oldies station playing a more obscure Ella Fitzgerald tune, "Midnight Sun".
"I love this song," Booth declared, singing along loudly,
Your lips were like a red and ruby chalice
Warmer than a summer's night
Your eyes were like an alabaster palace
Rising to a snowy height
Each star its own aurora borealis
Suddenly you held me tight
I could see the midnight sun
She looked over at him. "I don't understand this song," she said, "There is no such thing as a midnight sun. Perhaps they are referring to the moon?" Her face was scrunched up in confusion.
"It's a metaphor Bones. I think it refers to the feeling you get when you are in love, the feeling of the two of you being bathed in the beautiful light of the stars. "
"Oh," she said distractedly, feeling embarrassed, "Of course, a metaphor."
"Is everything alright?"
"What? Yes, yes, everything's fine."
It appeared to Booth that things were far from fine, but he decided not to push her too far. She was the one who broke the silence.
"It's just that…I've never had that feeling really."
"The midnight sun feeling. Of feeling bathed in starlight together. Would that be your definition of love?"
"Most definitely, Bones", he said, "It's a feeling like you are the only two people on the planet, that no one exists besides the two of you, that you are like stars in the heavens circling each other, radiating light."
"Each star its own aurora borealis?"
"Exactly", Booth hit the steering wheel with his palm.
"Have you ever felt that way?" she asked.
"I thought I had it with Parker's mom in the beginning. Haven't you?"
Brennan looked away again and Booth knew the nerve he had touched. "Have you ever been in love, Bones?" he asked quietly.
She answered matter-of-factly, "There have been instances when my biological urges and intellectual needs have been met with such satisfaction that I've been very enamored of certain individuals, is that what you mean?"
Booth stopped at a light. "No, Bones," he said curtly. "I mean love. L-o-v-e. The kind of feeling that two people have together that causes you to sit up nights worrying if the person doesn't come home in time." He leaned over to her. "The feeling of wanting to spend every minute with the other person, regardless of their mood or your mood, or the universe's mood. Love. The whole thing. Of being so vulnerable to another human being, that you feel naked all the time. That feeling Bones. Real love. True love." His face was a few inches from hers and his breath was rapid from talking so fast. She looked at him intently not flinching from his closeness. His breath smells nice, she thought. She looked down briefly. He has nice hands too. She looked back up into his eyes and saw something, for a brief moment, which she had never seen before. He looked past her eyes, further down, like he was reaching into her chest to pull out her heart to take a good look at it to make sure it was healthy, that it was okay.
He straightened back up. The light changed. Her eyes were glued on him as he continued driving. The air in the car was nearly gone, with it came the silence, filling the space like the fading wind after a storm.
Love, she thought with panic. I've never been in love. No wait, she thought. Booth is simply being romantic. 'A' romantic, she corrected herself internally. He wasn't being romantic to me; he was being "a romantic", a lover of love, as it were. She relaxed as her mind backtracked to a more familiar cadence, the rhythm of critical thought.
"We're here," he said, pulling off the highway to a rest area south of DC. Fire engines and police cars blanketed the scene. The FBI and emergency teams swarmed around them as they inched into the fray.
Brennan looked at Booth again. He seemed to be deep in thought. "Ready?" she said.
"Yeah, I'm ready. As ready as I ever am for this stuff." He brightened a little as he turned off the engine. "Ready yourself?"
"Good. Let's go knock this one out and get you back to jury duty, whattdaya say?"
She rolled her eyes. "Don't remind me." She hopped out of the truck and slammed the door.
He watched her for a moment, walking away from the car, his mind far away, hiding his thoughts, even to himself. He picked up his sunglasses, tipped them onto the bridge of his nose and then stepped out into the chaos with her.