He watched as Brennan and Booth chased each other into Brennan's office, a habit of them. Veiled by shadows in the corner of the room, he was hidden from their view. Not moving, he went unnoticed as they squabbled, and thought—not for the first time—that being a fly on the wall of Temperance Brennan's office wasn't all it was cracked up to be.
"Don't get cute with me, Bones," he sighed in response to something she said out of earshot just before they came in.
She opened her mouth for a retort, but stopped cold when she saw him pinch the bridge of his nose.
She asked about the fries he'd had for lunch at the diner and how much he drank today, explaining that she merely tried to rule out dehydration as a cause for the headache.
"What kind is it?"
He sighed again in annoyance. "I don't know. What kinds are you thinking of? This is the construction crew with jackhammers behind my left eye, kind of headache, if that helps."
"Tension headache," she surmised with a decisive nod. Then she paused and tilted her head at him, frowning thoughtfully. "May I try a technique on you?"
"Like what?" he asked suspiciously, unconsciously shying away.
She looked a little offended, but answered calmly, "Shiatsu."
Off his blank look, she elaborated, "It's a Japanese technique of using pressure points on the surface of the body to correct imbalances in the body's energy currents."
Booth gaped at her as though she'd just announced that she had quit her position at the Jeffersonian and planned to become a fulltime circus artist. And not just because he couldn't help but wonder where on his body she wanted to put pressure.
"And there's a scientific basis for that?" he asked skeptically, not convinced she'd go for anything without that.
"I believe there is, but even if there wasn't, I'm also an empiricist and I can assure you from my own, personal experience that it works. Trust me."
"How can I not?" he acceded, though still a little uncertainly.
"So where do you want me?"
He regretted his choice of words the moment they left his mouth and willed her—and himself—to interpret them only in the most innocent meaning.
"It usually requires a specially designed chair, but we'll make do with the couch. I want you on your knees…"
"Figures," he interjected.
"Facing the back of the couch," she continued undaunted, "with your suit jacket off, tie loosened and the top buttons of your shirt undone. Try to sit as comfortably as you can with your forearms on the backrest."
He performed the requested actions and looked over his shoulder while he uncuffed his shirt and rolled up the sleeves. He saw her spraying something on her hands from a small bottle in a desk drawer, then rubbing her hands together vigorously while she approached him.
He gathered two of the thin throw pillows from the couch and inserted them between his chest and the backrest for comfort, then shifted a little to find comfort.
Her hands came to rest on his shoulders and she asked, "Are you relaxed?"
It occurred to him that he was mirroring the position he was used to for prayer, but he couldn't help but think that it was a somewhat ridiculous position to assume backwards on a couch.
"Not really yet," he answered truthfully.
Her hands remained still for the time being, infusing their warmth into his skin through the fabric of his dress shirt. With a low, hypnotizing voice she suggested, "Close your eyes. Imagine someplace you'd really like to be right now. Where you'd enjoy yourself."
Your bedroom? the devil on his right shoulder supplied.
Not helping! the angel on his other shoulder scolded.
Oh God, I didn't say that out loud, did I?
He frantically searched his mind for something more appropriate and blurted out the first thing that came to mind.
"The park on a summer afternoon."
She curled her hands around the muscles that ran from his neck to his shoulder and began loosely kneading them, rubbing circles with her palm.
"Good. What are you doing there?"
A smile tugged at his lips. Getting caught up in the fantasy he dreamily replied, "Playing hooky with you. Eating ice cream."
Gradually she increased the pressure. "That sounds nice. We should do that sometime."
He could hear the smile in her voice. "Yeah," he slowly drew out on a breath, quickly easing into a state of relaxation.
Until she suddenly dug the back of her elbow between his shoulder blades and he nearly jumped off the couch. "Ow, Bones! Is that really necessary?"
"Yes, it's all part of the technique. Now quit whining and relax."
"How can I relax when you're abusing me like that?"
"Fine, I'll be more gentle. Shush."
He pushed out a resigned sigh, closed his eyes again and settled back in.
"Concentrate on your breathing," she instructed, continuing, "In….and out," in a husky voice that raced down his spine and straight to his groin. It was mesmerizing, the rhythmic sound of her breathing as she set the pace for him, and the tiny hairs on the back of his neck stood up straight at the repeated feel of her breath on the count of 'out'.
He concentrated on that and became aware that the muscles in his back were inexorable starting to yield and mollify under the pressure of that elbow by the time she had worked her way down, though unfortunately it had the opposite effect on other parts of him.
Ignoring that discomfort, he tried to empty his mind and focus on her hands as she began pushing against his back with the flat of her hand, manipulating the curve of his spine while the pillow pressed more firmly into his chest.
Reaching his lower back, she pressed it into a hollow with the palm of her hand, causing him to rock back and forth slightly on his haunches. The pressure on his groin increased each time until it was almost unbearable and he bit his lip to keep from making a sound.
He reminded himself that God tested man by throwing tribulations on his path. But he still breathed a sigh of relief when she moved back up again, dug her thumb into the back of his neck and left a trail of thumbprints on the base of his skull.
When she moved her hand to cup his neck he caught a whiff of the lavender oil she'd rubbed on her hands. After briefly kneading the cords of his neck between thumb and fingers the touch of her hands left him.
After a few moments he wondered where she'd gone and if she'd stopped, but then he sensed her moving around the couch to his front.
There, she turned her attention first to one arm, then the other, working her way through the same routine with each: picking it up, smoothing down his arm as it hung limply by his side, softly squeezing down the length of it, pulling on it in front of him and finally clasping his hand in slim, elegant fingers to massage it, feeling the warmth and texture of her skin against his as she rubbed the hand and even gave each separate finger lavish attention.
He thought she was done but she moved around him once more and surprised him by plucking at his head like a cat flexing its paws, only quicker; a peculiar but pleasant sensation. He wondered what the gel-covered texture of his hair felt like under her fingertips.
He complied with her request to lace his hands together behind his head and exhaled at her prompt while she tugged on his arms, loosening his chest, neck and shoulders again.
Then it was another round of kneading there, ironing out the last remaining kinks. He finally let the small sound of satisfaction he'd been holding in escape from the back of his throat. Embarrassed at his slip, he heard the air leave her mouth in a rush when she laughed, very softly.
With a rustle of fabric, she was running her hands down his back in swift strokes, as if wiping the tension off of it, and ended with a soft pat between his shoulder blades.
He didn't move or speak for several beats while he reveled in the dreamlike state she'd brought him in with her novel but very soothing ministrations. When he heard her speak again, he was surprised to hear her voice in front of and not behind him.
"Open your eyes," she commanded gently, as she began turning small circles on his temples with her fingertips.
His eyes blinked open slowly, reluctantly after the profound relaxation her touch had lulled him into.
He found her blue eyes looking straight at him, placing her at equal height and apparently on her knees, and with a jolt of recognition he realized that she carried the same expression on her face as she did just before she kissed him under that mistletoe last Christmas: a tantalizing mixture of desire, apprehension and complacency.
He sat, frozen in rapt anticipation, watching her eyes narrowed to slits as she drew near, hearing the soft smack of her lips parting, seeing her head tilt slightly to the side.
But his eyes slipped shut again before her mouth landed on his, because above anything else he'd just discovered that whenever any part of her touched any part of him, the sensation was heightened incalculably if he kept his eyes closed.
And what he experienced a moment after that was just the barest brushing of lips, while she waited for him to respond in kind, and when he did his entire body seemed to tingle from the electric feeling of their mouths sliding against each other with just the slightest pressure. He shivered when she ran her tongue delicately along his bottom lip, causing a twinge in his lower back and sparking a sudden, painful need for her. Which was why he felt utterly bereft when she withdrew her mouth.
Waiting to see if it would return, it took a few more moments for him to open his eyes and find her looking at him intently, a lazy, contented smile playing around her lips and a hint of mischief glinting in her eyes.
He took stock and to his surprise, found no traces of the pounding headache that had been plaguing him relentlessly until a mere ten minutes ago. Instead, it left a pleasantly buzzed feeling in its wake.
When no answer was forthcoming she frowned a little. "You okay?"
"Yeah. Just…peachy," he breathed, sounding a little drunk, like that night on the steps in front of the Washington Monument.
Not good, he thought in some dim recess of his brain that still functioned, because now he couldn't be sure if it was the shiatsu or the kiss that had magically spirited his headache away.
On the other hand, maybe that meant he could try out the remedy again just to find out.
This was a birthday present for the lurvely ForAReason, who reported having enjoyed a little B&B smooching-slash-massage!fic. If you did too, don't hesitate to let me know, because nothing is quite as nutricious to feed the muse as kibbles and bits of appreciation for all her hard work. Seriously, I can't even take credit.
BTW, when I reread this to edit it for , the 'circus artist' reference seemed much more hilarious considering recent spoilers.
Well, I've just finished an updating operation so that all my existing stories that were on my livejournal are now also on and that means...it's high time to write new stuff! So stay stuned!