Title: Two-Way Street
Spoilers: The He in the She
Summary: Two could play at this game. But is it really a game?
A/N: Couldn't stay away. This could be a three shot to explore one of my issues in the B/B dynamic. It's also a slight character study. If this blows, let me know, because I won't keep it going. Thanks for reading and possibly reviewing.
It's a quiet little moment. Nothing preceded by pomp and grandeur. He's sitting next to her on a bench after a grueling day in court. As in many times past, he's grabbed her a cup of coffee while she's retreated into her mind, puzzling over things he can't begin to comprehend.
When her fingers brush his and her eyes glance at him quickly, he offers her a brief smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. Few of his smiles have done so lately. She notes this as she moves her gaze forward, thinking about the change in his demeanor as of late. He never comes to her with his problems, though he occasionally hints at them. Unfortunately, she's never adept enough to pick up on his cues, and when she realizes that she should question him the moment is gone.
The air is cold and crisp, and the winter sky has already begun to darken. Booth watches his breath as puffs of air usher forth, chasing after one another like bubbles. He makes the shape of an 'O' with his mouth and blows out a couple rings, smiling at his skill. He catches an unladylike grunt from his partner and turns to see a knowing smirk on her face.
He shrugs in defense and swivels his head forward, watching as a kid chases a throng of pigeons at the base of the granite steps. He wants to be young again, to race his younger brother to their secret hideout, to score his first basket, to listen to his grandpa's old war stories. He wants to feel alive again.
Instead, he feels heavy. He's tried over the past few days to find a few good things that happen in each one. To be fair, he took out the two suspects that brought him the most joy: Parker and Bones. All in all, his days were tedious mixtures filled with loads of paperwork, monotonous meetings with pompous bastards, and the constant knowledge of knowing he was surrounded by death. He's starting to wonder if he is getting burned out.
"Hey," his partner says softly, laying her hand on his arm for a moment.
"Yeah?" he takes a sip of his coffee. It's burnt and takes like old shoes, but it's hot.
"Where are you?"
"What do you mean? Isn't that something I'd ask you?"
"Yes, but lately you seem to be much more pensive. I'm just curious if you're ever going to tell me what's going on up there," she taps the side of his head, eliciting a grin.
"Eh. No where and every where."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"It's an evasive way of avoiding the topic."
"Would you prefer that I not share my thoughts or problems with you?"
"What? No, no. Whatever is going on in your life is up for you to share. I don't mind it."
"But you don't want to offer anything of yourself. I thought friendships were supposed to be two-way streets."
"That's not true. I tell you things."
"You talk to me about Parker or what Cullen has thrown at you for the week. I know very little of your family, of your past other than your sexual conquests, I don't even know if you're dating anyone right now."
"Hey, just because I'm a private guy doesn't mean I don't want to share anything with you. I'm just not very open with that stuff. It's nothing personal."
"But it is," she says this roughly and she appears to be frustrated. "I just... I thought... why aren't we past that point yet?"
His eyes move from hers to the ground and he searches his mind for a response. He knows very well why he doesn't tell her his innermost thoughts, half the time they are consumed by her. It has nothing to do with decorum or boundaries; he simply doesn't want to scare her away.
"What do you want to know then?"
She seems surprised by his response and looks irritated. She did not prepare a list of questions for him and is now thrown by his openness.
"I didn't come prepared, Booth. I just wanted to know why you don't tell me anything. To view our relationship from another perspective and observe the imbalance in knowledge strikes me as unnatural and unfair. You know almost everything about me. I only know what you let me know."
"Not so fast there. You let me know what you want me to know as well."
"I disagree. I never asked you to do a background check on any of my dates, or arrest my brother or father. I never asked you show up at my apartment the night you almost got blown up. I tell you things in hopes of you reciprocating. Instead, you manage to dwell on me most of the time."
"It's the nature of how I work Bones. I was taught very young to keep private matters private and to keep a safe zone of things I should be willing to share. It's hard to overcome."
She stands and walks over to the trash and tosses her cup away, resuming her apparent state of frustration as she crosses her arms before him. He can tell that she's worked through something and is about to give him a taste of his own medicine.
"You always point out how unapologetically stubborn I am, how I need to adapt my way of thinking to more acceptable ideas. I find it unusual that you've never applied this to yourself. Possibly this is because you focus so much on others that you neglect the methodology of your own reasoning process. Maybe you should take the next few days to figure out why you're so close-minded about things."
"What?" he's standing now, completely unwilling to accept a challenge from his partner, especially when he has an empty belly and two feet of paperwork to go through. "There is nothing wrong with the way I think."
"If you see it that way, then fine. I'll see you later Booth," she gives him a once over as she walks away with the promise of trouble brewing in every step. He's slightly unsettled by the foreboding tone in her voice and can only imagine the impending issues that will ensue.
Booth didn't see her for the next two days. He spoke with her quickly on the phone once and based on the conversation, she appeared to have forgotten her subtle challenge. When he finally found enough of a reason to drop by the following day, he spent nearly five minutes searching for her, only to discover her perched atop a ladder deep in limbo.
"Whatchya doin' up there?"
"Searching for the mandible of a nineteen-year-old with Paget's disease."
"Oh. I have some documents I need you to sign so I can fax them over to the NSA."
"When do you need them by?"
"Twenty minutes from now."
"What? I want to wrap this up. I have places to go, people to see," he threw out with nonchalance, hoping she'd pick up on his offer of information.
Instead of responding, she climbed down the ladder with a box in hand, looking mildly satisfied. She had that look of being in another plane of thinking while everyone else existed elsewhere. Not the best time to interrupt her.
"So, uh, how was your date last night?" he asked her, gauging to see what was going on in her head.
"Fine," she replied without elaboration. She was still delving into the box as she moved toward the examination table.
"Nothing exciting happen?"
"No. How was your afternoon yesterday? Didn't you have that conference call with the office in L.A.?"
Though he acknowledged her change in topic, he did want to share with her what happened during the meeting. As he did so, she set the box down and signed his documents, remarking occasionally and asking questions throughout.
When they parted, he felt confident in knowing that she wasn't angry with him or holding on to any issues. That was until he got out to his SUV and realized that despite three different attempts at soliciting information from her, she'd managed to evade him and extract information that she knew he would want to share. That doctor Brennan, she was a clever one. Next time, he'll be prepared for her though. Next time, he'll have her detailing her date down to what type of wine she drank.
Two could play at this game. But is it really a game?