So, this story is a bit of an experiment in that I wanted to deviate from my formula just a bit. Rest assured, that doesn't mean that I'm deviating in any way from delivering smoochies. I Just wanted to experiment with a different plot format than the one I usually favor. I really hope you like it, please let me know. Since this is an experiment I would really LOVE your feedback. Happy reading!
Temperance Brennan watched quietly from across the large ballroom at the D.C. Ritz Carlton while her partner held court with three of the Jeffersonian Institution's biggest contributors. Booth hated these things, hated schmoozing and rubbing elbows, and yet he was doing it with such aplomb that no one would have ever known how uncomfortable these things made him.
It was a black tie affair with all of the Jeffersonian's department heads and scientific assets mingling with its financial backers and various political guests that had been important to the Institution. Some of the most important people in her world were in this room tonight, but Brennan couldn't take her eyes off of the man on the opposite side of the room from her. He wore a tuxedo that was tailored to him so perfectly that he looked like a mannequin on display. His hair was perfect as always, dark and thick and lustrous. At times like these it was almost painful to look at him, he was so handsome.
The group around him burst out into simultaneous guffaws at something Booth said and the smile that he gave them at their response was dazzling. Her heart did a little flip flop in her chest, just as it did every time he hit her with his "charm" smile. She was fairly certain that she'd been able to effectively dissuade him from believing that his charm smile did anything for her, but every time she saw it she felt her knees go just the slightest bit weak, her tummy get just the slightest bit tingly.
"You want me to paint you a picture, it'll last longer." Brennan looked up at the voice that had snapped her out of her reverie to see Angela holding out the glass of champagne that she'd excused herself earlier to retrieve for them.
Temperance took it from her, a look of mild confusion on her face. "Paint me a picture of what?"
Angela's mouth kicked up on one side in a wry smile. "Of the extremely hot special agent standing twenty feet away with all the stodgy millionaires. You know, the one you've been ogling without blinking for the last ten minutes while I stood in line at the bar."
Brennan took a sip of her champagne, buying the moment that she needed to come off sounding aloof when she responded. "I wasn't staring at him, I was merely watching the interchange of a gathering of alpha males vying for dominance in their group."
Angela rolled her eyes. "Sweetie please. This is me. With the way both of you have been staring at each other all night it's a wonder you've even seen anyone else." To prove her point further, Angela stepped quickly behind her friend and covered her eyes. "What color is the flower in my hair?"
Brennan's heart dropped and she blurted out an answer, knowing her best friend well enough to at least pick what she knew to be her favorite color. "Red."
The hands over her eyes fell without comment and triumph shot through her until Angela stepped back to her side with a smug look on her face. There wasn't a flower in her hair at all.
"Very clever." Temperance commented ruefully and then turned her gaze back to the mixer, careful to avoid looking in Booth's direction even after another round of laughter met her ears from his group.
Angela couldn't take it anymore. She'd sat by and watched this same cat and mouse game for so long it was starting to make her head hurt and she knew something had to be done. She also knew that the minute anyone tried to discuss Brennan's relationship, or lack thereof, with Booth her friend would shut down. Still, it was her job as the best friend to try, no matter how fruitless her attempts might be.
Taking a gulp of champagne, she steeled herself for the inevitable backlash that her words were about to create and then turned to face her friend. "Okay, I know you're going to get all huffy about this but I don't care. It needs to be said."
Brennan turned her attention quickly back to Angela, the urgency in her tone both intriguing her and worrying her. She'd heard this tone before and rarely did the words that followed sit well with her.
"You've had a lot of things happen in your life, a lot of unhappiness and a lot of mistrust. I get that. But there is a man, a beautiful, beautiful man standing across the room over there. He's wearing a tux and he watches your every move when you aren't looking. As your friend it is my responsibility to tell you that you are making a huge mistake by not at least making the first move because, God knows, he's too much of an old fashioned gentleman to do it. Go ask him to dance and take him home. Please, for everyone's sake."
Angela waited for the angry reaction that she was sure was coming as Brennan's impossibly blue eyes widened. Sliding her eyes quickly over to Booth, her heart picked up speed as she saw him dart his eyes away, badly hiding the fact that he had in fact been looking at her.
She looked back at Angela and the artist had to hide surprise as a vulnerable expression came over Brennan's face. "He's really been watching me all night?"
Angela nodded, her smile soft and reassuring. "Go over there and rescue him from those suits."
Temperance drained her champagne glass and handed the delicate flute back to her friend, her shoulders square and confident despite the tingling warmth in her legs and the tickle of nerves low in her belly.
Without a word she turned and began making her way toward Booth. He looked up at her advancing toward him and smiled familiarly at her, the easy smile of a man greeting his friend.
Suddenly a thought struck her. Her body had a physical reaction to him, it always had. Over the years she had thought it would diminish, but instead it had only managed to intensify, as evidenced by her inability to take her eyes off of him tonight. It wasn't just tonight either. They could be out on a case or in the interrogation room and she would find herself staring at him, unable to get her fill of him. It was starting to affect her concentration, but she didn't want to sever their partnership either. In fact, the idea of doing so was actually painful to think about.
But, what if she could remove the physical attraction that she felt for him? What if she could sate her curiosity, as she was sure that was the main culprit behind her body's response to him? Maybe, if she initiated a physical interaction between she and her partner, the sexual tension that she'd felt would dissipate and she would be left with her partner and friend and concentration all intact again.
"Hey Bones, quite a party." His voice washed over her like honey and she was sure that it was her thoughts of a physical dalliance with him and not the low thrum of his voice that made goose flesh pop out on her exposed arms.
"Yes it is. Would you like to dance?" Booth's eyes widened almost imperceptibly and then his charm smile was back as he turned his attention back to the group of men he'd been regaling with his tough guy cop stories. "If you'll excuse me boys, the lady wishes a dance."
Brennan turned to walk toward the dance floor and had to suppress a shudder as she felt his hand press against the small of her back to guide her way there. "At Last" by Etta James began just as they reached the center and she turned to face him, her hand going to his shoulder as he took the other in his. Prickles of heat danced along her side when he gently placed his other hand there.
Annoyance began to bubble within her at the heightened reactions she was experiencing and she had to fight to regain control of herself. Suddenly, her plan seemed imperative. If she didn't remove this coiled tension, this all out lust she was feeling, she was never going to be able to work with him again.
"Thanks for the rescue over there."
Brennan cocked her head at her partner's words. "You seemed to be enjoying your conversation."
Booth smiled at her. "You know me Bones, I hate these things. Doesn't mean I'm not a good faker."
Brennan smiled back at him, pleased that she had known that as she'd watched him earlier. It also reminded her of the conversation she'd had with Angela when she'd been caught watching him, the conversation that had set her on this course. It was time to be bold, to put things into motion that would make their partnership as uncomplicated as it used to be.
Pulling her hand from his she wrapped both hands loosely around the back of his neck and pulled him slightly closer so their bodies would touch as they swayed to the music. His easy smile faltered slightly as a look of mild uncertainty entered his eyes.
"I saw you looking at me earlier."
Her heart began to slam in her chest as his smile slipped completely and a light blush colored his cheeks. If she'd needed affirmation, she'd just gotten it.
Her voice came out soft and slow as she went on. "I've been looking at you too."
His eyes snapped up to meet hers. "You have?"
She nodded and attempted a coy smile that she was sure came out a bit more uncertain than coy. This wasn't just any guy that she was trying to seduce, this was Booth and no matter how pure her intentions were, he was still the man she cared about most in the world.
She pulled him even closer until she could feel his breath on her face. It seemed to be a bit unsteady, which gave her the courage to go on. "Booth, I can't speak for you, but our partnership means more to me than any other working relationship I've ever had."
Booth nodded slowly at her statement. "I feel the same way. We work well together and I think what we do is important."
It was Brennan's turn to nod. "Agreed. So, I've been thinking. If there were something that was impeding our ability to do our job to the utmost of our abilities, you'd want to rectify that situation by any means necessary in order to preserve our partnership. Is that a correct assumption?"
A sliver of suspicion filled his eyes but he nodded in agreement, wanting to see where this was headed. To his utter surprise, the woman before him licked her lips seductively and then leaned in until her mouth was a fraction of an inch from his ear. When she spoke in a low, sultry whisper, he had to fight to keep from shuddering.
"I want you Booth. I want you and I think that you want me. I'm going to get my coat, and then walk out that door. If I'm right, meet me at my place in half an hour. If I'm wrong, no hard feelings. We'll just have to redefine our working relationship. The choice is yours."
She pulled away from him, brushing her lips gently across his cheek as she did so. He wasn't able to hold back the shudder at that and the small smile that graced her face as she looked back into his own told him that she hadn't missed it.
Without another word she turned to walk away from him and he watched in stunned silence as she did just what she told him she'd do. She made her way to her table, took her coat from the back of the chair and walked gracefully out the door without so much as a glance back.
His heart was pounding. Everything was upside down and wrong side out. Ten minutes ago he'd been center stage at a boring squint mixer and now he was being propositioned by the woman he held above all others. What the hell had brought this on?
Making his way off the dance floor he walked out of the building, avoiding eye contact with anyone for fear that they would sidetrack him with another boring conversation about science. He needed some air.
The brisk autumn night hit him as soon as he made his way out of the lobby, bringing him back to himself a bit. If he knew Bones, and he liked to think that he knew Bones, something had caused this that went beyond merely "wanting him". There had to be more to her behavior tonight than just lust. Had something happened with her family? Had something gone awry that she wasn't telling him?
He thought about how he'd felt when she'd walked into the room tonight in that pale blue evening dress, blue like her eyes, with her hair all done up the way she liked it when she went somewhere fancy. His heart had been in his throat at how beautiful she'd looked and a small voice in his head whispered that maybe, just maybe, the reasons for her actions were that she felt the same way about him as he felt about her. Maybe she was tired of fighting it, tired of getting up everyday and putting on the friend face when all she wanted was to feel him in her arms, as he wanted.
He physically shook his head, forcing the thoughts away. Thinking like that was dangerous and was only going to get him hurt. All he knew was that Bones wasn't acting like herself and he needed to know why. He needed to talk to her, needed to find out what was going on in her head. Mind made up, he turned on his heel and made his way toward the valet to get his car.