Not even January yet and I'm already tired of the snow – I thought a summer fic would be just the thing to lift the winter doldrums, if only temporarily. I also wanted to try an experiment, so each day of the Outward Bound course will be told from the perspective of a different Bones character.

Disclaimer: I own none of the wonderful folk from Bones; no ownership implied nor copyright infringement intended.

Day One: Sweets

Sweets arrived at the lab at five fifty-six that morning, packed and ready to go. He wore windpants and a nylon jersey topped with a Gore-tex windbreaker, and had been particularly pleased to dig out the Australian bush hat he'd worn on his last Outward Bound course. He knew from experience that the Maine sun could be brutal in July, especially on the ocean, so he wanted to set a good example for the others by being completely prepared.

Inside the Jeffersonian, Dr. Saroyan, Hodgins, and Angela had already arrived. Dr. Saroyan looked as though she'd just stepped out of an Urban Outfitters catalog, wearing new river shorts, hiking boots, a jaunty Jacaru hat, and a form-fitting top that left little to the imagination. She leaned against the wall with coffee in hand and her eyes half-closed; Sweets noted that she definitely did not look particularly thrilled about their impending adventure.

If Camille appeared less than thrilled, Angela was simply comatose. The artist sat with her head on her desk, a steaming cup of coffee beside her. When the psychologist greeted everyone pleasantly, she sat up and directed her glare his way.

"Don't even start," she said with a glower.

Hodgins, at least, seemed enthusiastic. Looking casually confident and ready for anything, he came over to Sweets and said without even attempting to lower his voice,

"Watch it – Angela's not a morning person."

The subject of their conversation said nothing, but her expression was more than enough to convey her thoughts. Sweets decided it would definitely be wisest to give Angela her space, and returned his attention to Jack.

"I take it Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan haven't arrived yet," he said, already knowing the answer.

Hodgins shook his head. "I haven't seen 'em – I'm sure they'll be along sooner or later. Brennan didn't sound all that thrilled about this whole week in the woods scheme you cooked up, though."

Sweets raised his eyebrows innocently. "It wasn't just me – I discussed this with Dr. Saroyan, and we agreed that with everything that's happened here recently, the entire team is in need of some time away from the office. It was ultimately Dr. Saroyan's decision, not mine."

Camille looked up at this. "Oh yeah, blame it on me," she said dryly. "Look, all I know is that one of our best and brightest just turned out to be a cannibalistic serial killer's apprentice, and this little break-up between Angela and Jack means half my team isn't communicating with the other half, and last week I got a call telling me that Agent Booth was having a nervous breakdown in the middle of Piccadilly freakin' Circus."

Hodgins didn't seem at all disturbed by his supervisor's diatribe – in fact, the man seemed almost jubilant.

"Well, what're you gonna do - desperate times call for desperate measures. So if that means we have to stay on a deserted island on the coast of Maine together for eight days… Well, that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make."

Angela shot her former fiancé a withering glance that definitely did not escape Sweets' attention. So, there it was in a nutshell: Jack saw this as an opportunity for reconciliation, while Angela viewed the week as awkward and potentially painful. Sweets almost rubbed his hands together at the thought of all the emotional turmoil ahead.

It was nearly seven o'clock by the time Dr. Brennan and Agent Booth arrived. Booth had been the one driving – which meant he was the one responsible for their tardiness, Sweets realized. Already trying to control the situation, the psychologist thought ruefully, and they weren't even out of D.C. yet. The FBI agent wore jeans and a sweatshirt, topped by a baseball cap, none of which were recommended on the Outward Bound packing list Sweets had provided for him.

"Hey, Sweets – sorry we're late," Booth said breezily. "Bones here wasn't ready when I showed up."

She looked at him indignantly. "That's not true! You didn't arrive until six-thirty – and then you said we probably didn't really need to be here until ten, but Sweets told us earlier because he's – "

"Whoa, Bones!" Booth grabbed his partner, gently putting his hand over her mouth and pulling her aside.

Sweets knew he should be irritated, but realistically he'd expected nothing less from the pair. Besides which, having an opportunity to observe them outside their comfort zone over the next eight days more than made up for the stunts Booth would invariably try in an effort to win the upper hand.

"So," Sweets said, clapping his hands together enthusiastically. "We're all here – we're all packed. You guys look pumped, and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't genuinely looking forward to the journey we're about to embark on."

Angela still hadn't picked her head up from her desk, while Dr. Saroyan shot him a withering glance and Dr. Brennan began walking toward her office.

"I can't go," the anthropologist said, not even looking up from a file she was reading.

At her friend's words, Angela finally sat up. "If she's not going, I'm definitely not going."

Dr. Saroyan snapped to attention. "Oh – believe me, she's going."

Dr. Brennan stopped walking and turned to address her supervisor. Sweets noted with interest the way that both women stood to their full height, though Temperance had her arms crossed over her chest while Camille's hands were on her hips. Clearly the dominant female, he mused.

"No – I can't. I have cases waiting."

"We all have cases waiting, Dr. Brennan," Camille returned evenly. "This is mandatory."

"Well, I don't see why – " she uncrossed her arms, taking a step forward with her own hands on her hips now. Camille didn't shift position, however. Sweets was impressed – in the animal kingdom, she would clearly be alpha.

"The whole thing is absurd," Temperance continued. "With Zack gone, we're completely backlogged – and they choose now to make us go off to the middle of nowhere and talk about our feelings?" She looked to Booth for support. "It's ridiculous. I'm not going."

Booth nodded, but stopped short of coming to her defense at a look from Camille.

"It is – yeah, I agree. But look at it this way: eight days of fresh air and relaxation in the beautiful state of Maine. Lobster, sailboats…" he paused, apparently having run out of selling points.

Sweets felt obliged to intervene at the picture Booth was painting.

"I want to remind everyone that this isn't actually a vacation. This is an opportunity for us to rebuild the trust that was lost after Zack's arrest; for us to reconnect and debrief."

"And eat lobster," Booth added.

Temperance didn't move, her arms crossed once more over her chest and her jaw set stubbornly. Camille picked up her duffel bag and addressed the group.

"All right – the van's waiting. Let's get this show on the road." She turned to Temperance and Booth pointedly. "I'll see you out there – van's leaving in five minutes."

"Then it's leaving without me," Temperance replied. Before Camille could respond, Sweets saw the look that passed between her and Booth.

"Just give us a sec, Cam – we'll be right there."

Dr. Saroyan left but Sweets lingered, watching with interest when Booth approached his partner.

"C'mon, Bones – you're not getting out of this one."

"I don't know why you're so psyched out to go – "

"Psyched up, Bones – it's psyched up. And I'm not all that psyched, to be honest. But think about it: eight days with no one shooting at us, no having to tell some poor schmuck his wife's never comin' home, no picking through blood and guts trying to find an actual person underneath. It's summer. It's Maine." He bumped his shoulder against hers, and Sweets couldn't contain his smile when she grudgingly returned the gesture. "It'll be fun."

"I do love the ocean," she finally admitted.

Booth grinned, putting his arm around his partner's shoulders. "See! That's the spirit. It'll do you good to get away from here."

He picked up her backpack as well as his own, pausing to call over his shoulder as they were leaving.

"Hey, Sweets – you comin' or what? This was your genius idea – get a move on, wouldja?"

Sweets grabbed his backpack with a grin. It promised to be a fascinating week.

They all sat together on the flight to Maine – Camille and Hodgins in one row, Booth and Brennan in the next, and Sweets and Angela behind them. Sweets noted that Jack was clearly disappointed not to be sitting with Angela, but the scientist wisely said nothing. Booth and Dr. Brennan argued over who got the window seat (Booth eventually won), while Jack gallantly gave his up for Camille.

Sweets turned to Angela once they were seated. She had out her sketch pad, and was drawing rough composite sketches of the passengers in the next aisle.

"So, Angela – " he began, but she stopped him with a look.

"Oh, we're not talking – I can't believe you did this."

He raised his eyebrows. "Did what?" he asked innocently.

"This." She made a sweeping gesture with one hand, which seemed to encompass the plane, the passengers, and possibly the larger world outside. Apparently, Sweets was responsible for all of it. "This stupid trip. Booth might think we're headed for some old time lobster bake, but I know all about Outward Bound. No showers. No toilets. No solitude – and Jack and me, alone in the woods for eight freakin' days."

"And you think that might be an issue for you?"

She turned on him – he was caught between being clinically fascinated and being… well, kind of turned on.

"Look, Sweets – don't play your little psycho games with me. The break-up sucked, okay? Losing Zack sucked. The past two months have basically sucked. So no, I don't want to go into the woods and get in touch with my pain while my ex-fiance looks on, just waiting to pick up the pieces."

Sweets nodded, attempting to maintain a balance between compassion and clinical detachment.

"Just give it a chance, okay? You might be surprised at what you learn."

She rolled her eyes, returning to her sketchpad without another word. Rather than pushing her any further, Sweets took out his iPod, put in his headphones, and closed his eyes.

They were on their way.

When they reached the Portland International Jetport just after noon, Sweets could see the hot air shimmering on the runway. They rented a van (which Booth naturally insisted on driving) and soon were on the highway headed up the coast of Maine. Though Sweets had made the trip many times before and therefore would have been the most logical choice for sitting up front with Booth, that particular honor fell to Dr. Brennan. Sweets was relegated to the back, shouting directions over the air conditioning and the music – both of which Booth was also in charge.

Their schoddy treatment couldn't damper Sweets' enthusiasm, however. He'd been taking Outward Bound courses since he was a kid – in his experience, they were an excellent way to regain balance and strengthen trust among colleagues. Besides which, he had to admit that it would be nice for the team to see him outside the office, in a setting where he could truly shine. About half an hour from their destination, he shouted from the back,

"There's this great café coming up in Thomaston – they make excellent reubens, homemade breads, great vegetarian dishes… We should stop there."

Booth turned down the music, and Sweets heard him address his partner.

"What did he say? Something about a cat up ahead?"

"A café," Brennan corrected him, before Sweets could do so. "He wants us to stop for lunch."

Booth shouted back over his shoulder. "They got lobster there?"

Sweets didn't actually know that they did, for a fact, but it seemed a safe assumption.

"Great lobster," he said. "I always make a point of going before I begin a course. It's a funny story, actually – " but Booth turned the music back up. Dr. Saroyan was asleep, Hodgins was staring at Angela, and Angela was glaring out the window. "And no one's listening to me – why do I even bother speaking, when no one listens?"

From the front, he heard Booth turn to Brennan again. "Is he still talking?" he asked her, but Sweets couldn't hear her answer.

The café was a success. Hunger sated, they set out on the last leg of their journey. Sweets felt his excitement building – a sense of calm and well-being enveloped him as they traveled the rural routes leading to the Outward Bound base. He stuck his hand out the window, smiling when he could feel the cool ocean breeze and smell the salt in the air.

Everyone was awake now, an undeniable sense of anticipation in the car. When they turned down the private road leading to Wheeler Bay – where the base was located – Sweets couldn't contain a smile when even Angela finally rallied.

"Wow – I've gotta hand it to you, it is really pretty here, Sweets."

They passed the staff house, rounded a bend, and suddenly were met by a coastline of roughly hewn granite, the sea a striking azure blue. Booth drove past the boathouse, where a fleet of pulling boats were docked on the grass, awaiting the next sailing course. A group of ragged teenagers jogged past, soaking wet and laughing loudly. Booth slowed down when a couple of dogs ran by, chasing each other in circles, and Sweets couldn't seem to stop grinning.

Booth parked in a field alongside a number of other cars, and then Sweets had to wait until everyone else had disembarked before he could get out, stretching his long legs gratefully. Though it wasn't the suffocating, wet heat they'd been dealing with in D.C., it was still hot out – it was almost two o'clock, the sun directly overhead and only a slight breeze coming off the water. He glanced around at the others, wondering how they'd handle the run and dip that had launched every Outward Bound course he'd ever taken.

"We just need to check in up ahead," he informed them. "They'll be expecting us."

He paused to address the group. "You know, this place really brings back memories – I can't tell you how many milestones I experienced out on a – "

Booth had already set out, however, with the others not far behind. Sweets brought up the rear, continuing under his breath. "… pulling boat or a kayak. 'Really, Lance?'" he raised his voice an octave to indicate a second speaker. " 'Wow, that's fascinating – you must have some great stories.'" He lowered his voice again, answering his own question. "Now that you mention it, gang – yes, I do have some – "

"What the hell's he doing?" he heard Booth ask Brennan, already well ahead of him. "Sweets," the agent shouted back at him. "Can you finish up the heart-to-heart with your imaginary friends on your own time? Let's do this thing already."

Sweets' reception once they reached the main office, at least, was rewarding. A tall, lean, muscular man with a beard – essentially a Norse god, Sweets reflected with no real bitterness – greeted him with a welcoming grin.

"Lance! Hey buddy – good to see you again."

Sweets didn't miss the look that passed between the others in the group when he and the Norse god embraced warmly.

"Hey, Tripp – good to see you too, man. So, are you ready to whip these guys into shape the OB way?"

Tripp nodded readily. "Sure, sure – weather's lookin' sweet for the next week, so we should have a blast." He turned to address the rest of the group. "I'm Tripp Axel – I'll be your instructor for the next week. Now, let's get everybody loaded up and get the show on the road."

He and Sweets led the charge, and the psychologist couldn't help but feel triumphant when – for the first time since he'd begun working with the Jeffersonian – Booth actually followed him. Once they were a little out of earshot of the others, he turned to Tripp with what he hoped was a casual air.

"So, who's the second instructor this time out?"

Tripp grinned at him knowingly, laying a heavy arm across his shoulders. "The lovely Belle, of course – couldn't keep her away once she heard you were comin'."

Sweets took a breath and tried to maintain his composure. Life was good.

"Wait – what do you mean I can't bring my gun?"

Packing was the first challenge. Angela and Camille had balked when they were told they could only bring five pairs of underwear; Temperance threatened mutiny when she learned she'd have to leave her cell phone and laptop behind; and now, Booth was having a minor breakdown at the notion of going into the field unarmed.

"What if I need to shoot someone?" he demanded.

Tripp took the question in stride. "We almost never have to shoot people out here, Seeley. That's what the Coast Guard's for."

Booth didn't get the joke, and he looked none too pleased at being addressed by his first name.

Camille intervened, her patience clearly wearing thin. "Just leave the damned thing, Seeley - if I couldn't bring an extra pair of underwear, chances are they're not gonna let you run around with an arsenal in your backpack."

He looked like he was about to make more of the issue, but then Belle appeared and, magically, everything was fine. If Belle was in a movie, Sweets thought to himself, a swell of music would precede her every entrance. Birds and butterflies would follow her; mice would braid her hair. God, how Sweets loved Belle. She was lean, tanned, blonde; athletic yet graceful; intellectual yet down-to-earth; outdoorsy yet feminine.

She came over and hugged Sweets before she greeted anyone else – Booth stopped arguing and just stared at them, and Sweets was sure it would go down as one of the best moments of his life.

"Hey, Belle – wow, it's really good to see you."

She beamed at him, and it was like the sun was shining on him alone.

"You too, Sweetie – " That was what she'd always called him, and it was entirely possible that Booth would pass out right there. "I've missed you. So, how about you introduce me to the rest of the gang here?"

He did. Booth dropped the issue of his gun, and they went over the rules for the coming week. After that, it was time for the run and dip; Sweets was pleased to note that everyone seemed to get into the spirit, jogging the mile circuit around the camp without complaint before they happily hit the cold Maine water. There was plenty of splashing and laughing, and then a practice run in the kayaks before they would set out in the open ocean the following morning.

That evening, they all sat around a bonfire before heading to bed. Tripp initiated a conversation among everyone, and Sweets was grateful to simply sit back and observe the interaction for the moment.

"So, I want you guys to think about some questions you'd like to know about each other – something you might've wondered about, but for whatever reason just never got around to asking. Before we call it a night, you'll each write down one of those questions and we'll put it in this bag – " he held up a waterproof stuff sack with the Outward Bound logo on it. " – and every night, we'll pull out a different question and answer it. It doesn't have to be a big deal, nothing earth shattering – unless you want it to be… Just something you've always wanted to know."

Sweets looked around the circle at everyone. Booth and Brennan were seated together, as usual, lost in their own discussions with no regard for what was happening around them. Angela was busily sketching, and he was pleased to note that she seemed considerably more at peace than she had before. Camille was keeping a watchful eye on the group, always ready to intervene should anyone step out of line. Hodgins had gone from enthusiastic earlier in the day to considerably more withdrawn now – Sweets suspected that he'd just assumed winning Angela back would be a simple task, but now he was likely realizing that might not be the case.

Belle handed out a piece of paper and pencil to everyone in the group, and Tripp continued talking.

"So, for now let's start with an easy question – just one of your basics. Tell us one thing that none of your colleagues here know about you." He turned to Sweets.

"Lance, you wanna start us off?'

He felt momentarily uncomfortable, but nodded gamely. "Sure – I'll get the ball rolling. Umm… Well, I don't think any of you know that I have a fairly extensive background in musical theatre. As a child, I was actually up for the lead in a professional troupe's production of Oliver – my parents decided it might infringe on my studies, however, so I wasn't able to take the part."

Angela looked up from her drawing. "Well that sucks – were you pissed?"

He was taken aback by the question. "No, of course not. They had a point – I mean, I had a full course load, there was really no time to just take off with no regard for my future."

"Yeah," Booth said dryly. "Think what might've happened if Sweets here hadn't graduated 'til he was fourteen instead of ten."

Sweets blushed, noting that Belle was definitely paying attention to the course of the conversation. Damn, why had he brought this up? "I didn't graduate when I was ten – I took an accelerated course load and graduated a couple of years early. It's not really that uncommon."

Dr. Brennan picked up on that comment, of course. "That's not true. It's actually quite uncommon in this culture – the social stigma and the controversy surrounding emotional maturity versus intellectual knowledge typically prevents parents from allowing their children to progress as rapidly as they might without such concerns. I think it's refreshing that your parents allowed you to excel academically." He was about to thank her, but the sentiment died on his lips at her next words. "Despite your obvious social awkwardness and difficulty relating to those around you, your intellectual prowess is undeniably impressive."

He gave her a shaky smile, focusing his attention on the fire before them. "Thanks, Temperance," he said dryly.

Belle cleared her throat. "Okay, how about we move onto someone else. Temperance, what about you?"

Booth laughed – snorted, actually. "Yeah, Bones… This should be good. Let's hear something I don't already know about you."

She looked at him defensively. "There are lots of things you don't know about me."

Her partner raised an eyebrow at her skeptically. "All right then, let's hear it. The floor's all yours."

She thought for a moment. "Well – when I was ten, I was selected out of – "

"Three thousand other students because of your scores in math and science, and you got to meet the governor," Booth interrupted. "Sorry, Bones – already heard that one. Hit me again."

She looked annoyed, but continued nonetheless. "All right. When I was twelve, I won – "

"Some other governor's award for scientific achievement that usually only goes to high school kids," Booth finished for her. "You're gonna have to do better than that, Bones."

She glared at him, but was clearly engaged in the game. The rest of the group looked on with interest, waiting to see what Brennan would come up with next. After a few seconds of thought, she started again.

"When I was in Venezuela three years ago, I was bitten by what I believed was a rare tropical snake but – "

"But it wasn't a rare tropical snake, it was just a garter snake and it wasn't even poisonous, but your guide still stuck a knife in your foot and sucked all the poison out, just to be on the safe side," Booth finished for her.

She glared at him. Before she could try again, Tripp intervened.

"Maybe we should move onto someone else – or Temperance, you could always just tell a story that only Seeley knows about you."

"No," she said firmly. "Booth, you go. I'm certain there are no stories I don't know about you, either."

"When I was in high school," he said immediately. "I was recruited to play pro hockey – I played a full season before I tore my ACL and got benched."

Brennan stared at him, clearly shocked. "I didn't know that."

He grinned. "I know. Face it, Bones – I'm a man of mystery and you're an open book. That's just the way it goes."

"All right – how about someone else," Belle interrupted, trying to expedite what was rapidly becoming an all night conversation. "Angela, what about you?"

Hodgins came to attention at this, looking across the fire at his ex-fiance. Sweets had to admit that she looked beautiful; her hair was swept up in a loose bun, with dark tendrils curling at her cheeks and jawline, and she wore a long, Bohemian skirt and a pretty peasant blouse, her long legs curled beneath her.

She thought for a moment. "Okay – sure. Well… I didn't say my first words until I was four years old."

Sweets was intrigued immediately. "Really? Four years old? Did your parents have you tested for learning disorders?"

She laughed, apparently dismissing the idea as ridiculous. "Of course not. My father knew I'd come around eventually – he always says he just figured I was waiting 'til I had something to say."

"What was your first word?" Hodgins asked. He looked intrigued – as though this was something of a revelation, but not necessarily all that surprising. Angela smiled at him – an actual smile, as though it was just the two of them around the fire.

"Words, actually – it was a sentence. 'I want to paint that.' My father had an old watering can that he used to keep my blocks in. I remember that I liked the dichotomy of the old, faded watering can and the new, vividly colored blocks of wood. That was my first still life."

Hodgins laughed at this. Sweets watched as their eyes held, Jack breaking the gaze before Angela did. Yeah, it was definitely going to be an interesting week.

"I have one!" Dr. Brennan burst out excitedly. All eyes turned to her, including Booth's. He sat with his head tilted and a cocky smirk on his face, but he said nothing.

"When I was in my twenties, I dated a musician whom I'm told is quite famous now, and though I can't say for a fact that it's true, he did say that one of his more popular songs was written about me."

Booth stared at her, the smirk gone. "You're making that up."

"I am not!" Brennan said immediately, appalled at the allegation.

"Then who is it?"

"I'd rather not say," she said.

Tripp stood before they could continue the argument, with a big yawn and stretch. "All right, guys – Cam and Jack, you mind saving your answers for tomorrow? It's getting pretty late, and we have an early morning and a long, busy day in front of us. You guys ready to hit it?"

The party broke up, and Sweets was grateful to grab his sleeping bag and head for the tent he'd be sharing with the other guys in the group. Just before he dozed off to sleep that night, with Booth on one side of him and Hodgins on the other, he was startled wide awake by Booth hitting him lightly in the shoulder.

"Hey, Sweets – you up?"

He recoiled. "Um – ow?" He glared into the darkness. "I am now. What is it?"

"Do you think Bones really dated a rock star?"

He closed his eyes, unable to keep from smiling. "Go to sleep, Booth. I'm sure Dr. Brennan will tell you all about it in the morning."

There was a pause while Booth seemed to consider the words. "Yeah… You're probably right."

Sweets closed his eyes again, and this time took a moment to listen to the sounds all around: the ocean waves breaking gently on the rocks; the frogs and crickets singing their summer songs; the rhythmic breathing of his comrades on either side. And then, exhausted but undeniably optimistic, Sweets fell asleep.