A/N: I know, I know…Christmas it over, but this idea would not leave my mind. Hopefully you all are still in the holiday spirit. :)
The fic in question was inspired by that line in Verdict in the Story where Sweets said he was writing a book about relationships, like Booth and Brennan's, that shouldn't work but do.
Chapter 5: Michael and Sue*
*Names have been changed to protect the identities of the case studies.
Michael, aged thirty-seven, is a FBI special agent and former army ranger and sniper. Sue, thirty-two, is a forensic anthropologist and writer who works with the FBI and is Michael's partner. The two of them were referred to me when Sue's father was arrested by Michael, an occurrence which the bureau believed might cause some friction in their partnership. While the bureau no longer mandates their therapy sessions, they continue to meet with me in order to work through their problems, to wit, the increasingly personal nature of their relationship and underlying issues relating not only to their job but to…
"…a mutual, suppressed desire for sexual intimacy within the bounds of the partnership." Dr. Lance Sweets listened as Angela finished off the first paragraph of chapter five in his new book, Smoking Gun: Cluing the FBI in to its Psychological Problems. He smiled, finding it wicked cool that at the age of twenty-three he was already a published author. Angela nodded her head slowly at what she had just read as Sweets continued to relish the first instance of having his musings parroted back at him from a printed page.
"That is so Brennan and Booth," Angela stated simply, making her way out of her office.
He followed at her heels as she turned sharply down one of the Jeffersonian's many hallways, book in hand. "You should read the rest. Over the past year or so I've been able to observe the two of them a great deal and their interactions are totally fascinating."
Angela stopped, swiveling to face Sweets. She looked sympathetically at him. "Brennan is going to kill you."
"Actually, Booth probably will too."
He swallowed, petrified by the thought of his two most difficult clients cornering him in some dark alley and beating him to a pulp. "I was thinking they might not see it until after Daisy and I leave for vacation," he said, voice shaky.
"Listen Sweets, I don't know what else you wrote in this book, but if it's anything like what I just read they will not be amused. That won't change no matter how far you run."
"But it made a good Christmas gift, right?" he inquired, thinking praise might provide some consolation. At least until he was safe and away on winter holiday in Ibiza.
She shook her head and laughed, patting him on his shoulder as she might pat a dog she was particularly fond of. "I'm excited to read about their underlying issues. Although, I probably could have written it better. I've been observing them for four years."
Sweets looked blankly at her, biting back an explanation of the focused, psychological eye through which he observed their actions. When she began walking once more he considered asking whether she planned on reading the case studies of his other nearly-equally-fascinating clients. No. The only person he'd ever met at the medicolegal lab who seemed remotely interested in psychology was his girlfriend. He paused for a moment, thinking of Ibiza and retreating to a happy place as he recalled the tantalizing memory of what had resulted from Daisy's suggestion that they play 'Sandtroopers' last time they had gone to a beach.
He came back to reality as Angela swiped them onto the platform. Cam, already there, was standing before a computer monitor and also happened to be flipping through the pages of Chapter Five.
"I would have preferred a paperback about the sexual relations of fictional people I don't know personally, but it's good so far," Cam murmured. She waved Sweets over and pointed out a line. "Spot on, Seeley says that exact …" she trailed off as an angry Brennan bounded onto the platform, a thoroughly-chastened-looking Hodgins right behind her.
"Don't read that, Angela!" she called out, snatching the book from her friend's hands. Hodgins clasped his copy tightly behind his back, in a clear attempt to keep it out of Brennan's grasp.
Sweets backed away as Brennan turned her attentions on him. When she began speaking her voice was clear and calm, much calmer than he had worried it might be. Still, it cut through him in a way that made him want to run for the door. Too bad she was blocking the only exit. "You know," she said, "Booth called to tell me about this book of psychological stories you gave to your clients at the FBI as Christmas presents. What I don't understand is why you felt compelled to come here and distribute them at the Jeffersonian."
"I prefer to call them psychological observations, not stories, Dr. Brennan," Sweets countered meekly.
"I'm assuming he meant to give all of his clients copies of his book for Christmas," Cam offered.
"You're not his clients," Brennan stated matter-of-factly.
"Actually, I've been helping them with some of their issues."
Brennan shot him a skeptical look. "Every single one of them?"
"I came to see you once." Hodgins ground out in annoyance, raising a finger in Sweets' face for emphasis.
"Remember, I told you Sweets has been helping me work through some of my intimacy-related issues," Angela piped up in Brennan's ear.
Brennan nodded absentmindedly, placing her hands on her hips and looking at Sweets again. She regarded him for a moment. "Why did you assign me the name Sue?"
He paused, thrown by the turn in her line of questioning. "What? Uh…It's a randomly chosen name, Dr. Brennan."
"According to your pseudo-logic there must be an underlying, subconscious reason why you thought my alias should be Sue and not some other name."
"I assure you Dr. Brennan, I meant nothing by it."
A familiar voice boomed through the lab. "I have to agree, Bones. You look nothing like a Sue." Sweets shook in his snow boots as Booth made a purposeful line to the platform to join his partner. Feeling cornered, Sweets watched as the pair contemplated him with narrow, calculating eyes, tilting their heads slightly.
"They do sort of cock their heads to the left at the same time." Hodgins laughed, studying Booth and Brennan before they quickly moved into less incriminating stances. "Dude. I never noticed that before."
Sweets responded happily to the paraphrase of a line from his book. "I know, right? It's a subtle, non-verbal form of--"
"Non-verbal nothing," Booth mumbled, shooting Sweets a look of thinly-veiled disgust. "Why is he always here?" he asked Cam.
"Actually I was just leaving. I'm going to Ibiza with Daisy. You know… putting the lime in the coconut for real." Sweets chuckled nervously, and after a resounding snort and a fit of laughter from the people around him he realized just how easily his joke could be misconstrued. And just how easily the brilliant minds around him slipped to the gutter.
Well…all except Dr. Brennan's.
She shot him a withering look. "As someone with two doctorates you should know that coconuts do not grow anywhere near Ibiza."
"He was joking, Bones," Booth muttered into her ear.
Brennan turned to her partner, exasperated. "We agreed to put up a united front against him. Why are you laughing at his jokes?"
Sweets saw the beginnings of what looked to be a highly typical moment of bickering as an opportunity to sneak away. Just as he attempted to maneuver past them, padding across the floor on tip-toe, he was stopped by Booth's hand to his chest.
"Hold up a second, Sweets." Booth looked to Brennan to let her know he was contributing to the united front against Sweets. Her resolute nod of approval and Booth's resulting smile caused an involuntary roll of the eyes from Sweets. Oh, brother. The FBI agent must have skipped over the section of chapter five where it not so subtly hinted at the fact that Brennan had him whipped.
Booth narrowed his eyes at Sweets. "I know you probably needed to buy some of your own books. Give them out to people, because no one really wants to buy a book about psychology at Christmas time."
"Maybe mom and dad might," Hodgins supplied helpfully.
Sweets made to protest but Booth nodded at him and all he found himself able to do was nod dumbly back.
"But kid…a little unnecessary to hand it out to everyone we know, don't you think?" Booth asked, invading his space as he was wont to do in interrogations.
Sweets stared, his mouth agape. He sucked in a breath and told himself to relax. What was the phrase he bit back at every therapy session with his two very strong and angry-with-him clients? Denial ain't just a river in Egypt. Yes, like them, he might be able to get away with denying all accusations thrown at him. In his mind he practiced saying 'I didn't write this book. My name is Vance Sweets. Lance is my brother.' But…they probably wouldn't buy that, would they?
He was toast.
"There aren't many thirty-seven year old FBI agents with a partner who is a forensic anthropologist." Booth shook a copy of the book in front of Sweets' face. "This is us. I mean, couldn't you have tried to make it a little more vague? Do you know how much flack I've already gotten at work for what you wrote in here?"
Sweets found his mouth open and spouting off psychoanalysis before he could stop himself. "Interesting word choice just a moment ago, Agent Booth. You pointed at this book and acknowledged that its contents are accurate, at least on some level, when you said 'this is us'."
"The point is you abandoned objectivity to sell books." Brennan added loudly, cracking open Angela's copy to thumb through the pages.
"I don't think clinical tales of your latent sexual desire for Booth are going to make this a best seller, sweetie," Angela retorted.
Sweets cleared his throat. "Actually I wouldn't classify it as latent because—"
Brennan cut him off, clearly flustered and staring at a page in the book. "You making me give Booth a complement on his attractiveness in therapy does not equate to me having…having…"
She rounded on Booth, pulling him to the side of the platform, all the while eyeing her co-workers warily. She pointed out a line in the book to her partner, tilting her head up and away indignantly. "In the summary you gave me over the phone you said implications that we are more than partners, not insinuations that you are the object of my sexual fantasy."
Booth flinched at the final few words of her statement and gave a small, forced laugh. "Simmer down, Bones. If it's any consolation it says that all of that," he scratched nervously at the back of his neck, "was mutual."
Brennan gave him a look then turned and spoke to Sweets. "We don't understand what we've said or done in therapy that would cause you to suggest these things."
"We don't even talk to you in therapy," Booth added.
"Exactly. The two of you are, like, very adept at being communicative through body language even when you yourselves are not speaking. The two of you often angle your bodies in such a way that…" Sweets trailed off as he saw Booth roll his eyes. Brennan raised a brow, clearly communicating the fact she found Sweets ridiculous.
"Well, on page 82, it says the two of you kissed…" Hodgins said, a smile spreading his face.
"Under mistletoe," Cam supplied dryly, after turning to the page herself. "How did I miss that?"
Brennan shot Sweets a disparaging glance. "I was blackmailed."
"She was blackmailed," Booth repeated.
"That's one of her conquests I definitely haven't heard about. Way to go, man." Hodgins clapped a hand on Booth's shoulder.
Booth pushed the hand away. "Hey! I am not one of her conquests."
"I have partners not conquests."
All eyes turned to Brennan.
"Sexual partners. Not work partners," she clarified with a huff.
"The two aren't necessarily mutually exclusive, Bren," Angela said quietly, looking seriously at her. Hodgins blushed at the comment. "Why didn't you tell me about this?"
"I would have told you if it held any importance whatsoever." Brennan frowned at Sweets. "Context is very important," she stabbed a finger towards his chest, "which you should have realized because you didn't even have the context in which the kiss took place."
Brennan turned to face everyone. "I kissed Booth so I could get my father a conjugal trailer for Christmas," she said in a slow, even voice. As though talking to people she wasn't quite sure could understand English.
"Really?" Sweets asked, confused.
"Dr. B, no offense, but the more convoluted the story, the more likely it is a lie. And that was pretty convoluted," Hodgins stated simply.
"Yeah, well, it's not a lie," Booth cut in, daring anyone to contradict them.
Angela gave Booth a rather obvious once over. "Really Bren…there's no way that when you were kissing that you were thinking about your father," she said sagely, pointing a thumb in Seeley Booth's direction.
"Angela!" Brennan shot her friend a look that clearly said shut up now. "I was thinking about my father. Booth was being a good friend by complying with Caroline Julian's stipulation that we kiss. The kiss was platonic and sexless, which we told Sweets. He obviously chose to ignore that."
"So now I have selective hearing?" Sweets asked, wondering why he always ended up being blamed for her and Booth's infuriating inability to handle the truth.
"You said it, not me," Brennan said with a shrug and began to walk toward her office.
"That's called projecting, right, when you make it seem like the whole mistletoe thing was done voluntarily when it actually wasn't?" Booth asked Sweets.
Brennan turned abruptly. "It's not as if I forced you, Booth."
"If you would have talked to me beforehand I could've worked something else out with Caroline," Booth stated, walking over to where his partner was standing on the steps of the platform.
"You guys are amongst friends. Let it out. Be open with each other," Sweets called, making his way over to where they were now standing.
"Go away," Booth said shortly to him.
Brennan walked back up to the top step, where Booth was standing so she could be as level as possible with him. "I don't understand why you're so frustrated," she whispered loudly, "You're lending credence to Sweets' false conjectures by getting worked up like this."
"They are true conjectures," Sweets whispered back, leaning in toward where his clients were breathing in each others faces.
"Forget about Sweets, Bones," Booth whispered lowly. She narrowed her eyes at him.
"Uh…standing right here guys." Sweets said feebly, now wanting to observe their behavior rather than slink away. They ignored him.
Booth and Brennan stood on the step for a moment, looking silently at one another. Sweets stood mere inches away, looking silently at them.
"Okay, back off," Booth muttered to their awkward-looking therapist, pushing him away with a finger.
"Obviously there are some unresolved feelings relating to this 'blackmail mistletoe kiss'…" Sweets trailed off as he heard Angela and Cam chuckle in the background. Brennan looked up at them, eyes wide, as though their laughter was some sort of betrayal. "The two of you need to discuss these feelings and attempt to resolve them."
"There are no 'feelings' on my part, Sweets, unresolved or otherwise," Brennan said matter-of-factly, avoiding Booth's gaze. "I was able to remain very compartmentalized and objective."
"And I wasn't?" Booth asked incredulously, staring at her until she met his gaze.
"I'm only saying that under the circumstances I was very focused on the task-at-hand. I'm making no assumptions about you."
"Wait, show us," Angela said quickly.
Booth's brow furrowed in confusion. "Show you what?"
"What the kiss was like," Angela said, as though it were the most obvious thing in the world. "Sweets can do an analysis of whether it was actually platonic like you say it was."
Brennan sighed. "We're not stupid, Angela. There is no criteria one can use to quantify how platonic a kiss is."
"Actually, it might be a very good idea, Dr. Brennan." Sweets motioned to her and Booth. "Observing is the only way I can be wholly objective about it, as you said you would like me to be."
"You all need to stop." Booth held up a hand to Sweets' face. Just a small push and Booth would probably have the guy falling over backwards.
"Dude, come on. A recreation of the scene. You and the good doctor," Hodgins suggested to Booth.
"A recreation of the scene? It was a kiss. Not a murder, Hodgins," Cam laughed.
Angela hurried down the platform toward her office, shouting behind her, "I have a sprig of mistletoe I meant to hang in the doorway of my office."
"We're not going to kiss, Angela, so that is unnecessary!" Brennan shouted.
Brennan turned on Sweets, clearly annoyed. "I recall you mentioning you needed to leave."
He remained on the platform, but took a few steps away from the forensic anthropologist.
Angela, returned, shaking her find in the air. "Mistletoe!"
She moved into Brennan's office, standing on a step stool to affix it to a ceiling hook a few feet from the door. She waved everyone over. Booth and Brennan stood their ground.
"For god's sake…haven't you squints ever seen a kiss before?" Booth asked exasperatedly, with a roll of his eyes.
"Not between the two of you," Angela stated, making her way out of Brennan's office. She looked over at her friend. "After this recreation, you owe me a detailed account of that original kiss, sweetie. I mean, Bren, I don't get it. You always kiss and tell." Angela sighed looking between Brennan and Booth. "God…you two."
Booth cleared his throat. "Okay, that's enough. We are not going to kiss for you people."
"Never, ever," Brennan replied.
Booth shifted slightly, straightening his tie. "Shouldn't all of you be working?"
"Shouldn't you, Booth?" Cam questioned, raising a skeptical brow at him.
"Bones and I are trying to. It's kind of hard with all of you standing here watching us."
Sweets watched the squints size up Booth and, after a few moments, with a few murmurs of annoyance, they backed down and walked away.
"Yes. Leave. Eat some lunch," Booth called out after them.
"And I would appreciate it if you to gave your books to me before you do so," Brennan shouted toward their retreating backs. Hodgins and Angela ignored her, walking away.
Cam turned to face her. "Dr. Brennan, as your boss I must tell you that you don't possess the authority to rescind the gift-giving that occurs on these premises."
Brennan bit her lip petulantly and she and Booth watched, motionless, as Cam gathered her book from the examination table where she had laid it and walked away.
Quickly, Brennan turned her attentions to Sweets, who was still standing before her and Booth. "Goodbye, Sweets," she said tersely. "Your services as a shrink are no longer needed."
"Dr. Brennan, I find the term 'shrink' pejorative becau-- "
Sweets flinched as Booth's hand came down to give him a hard slap on the back. "Have a fun Christmas playing Dungeons and Dragons."
"Actually, I just told you guys Daisy and I are--"
"Leave." Booth and Brennan said at once. They walked toward Brennan's office without bothering to check if Sweets actually moved. The both of them looked incredibly flustered and a little shaken. Sweets almost pitied them a little. How could two intelligent people like themselves be so incredibly…blind?
They simply had to keep coming to therapy. What would happen to them if they didn't, Sweets wondered. He lingered outside the door of Brennan's office, pacing the hallway to determine if he should go back and offer an explanation of his written analysis of them. He should set up an appointment for after Christmas, as well. Last year's Christmas kiss was obviously an issue they needed to discuss.
Sweets peered in through Brennan's open doorway and caught the tail end of her explaining some of her findings on a current case to Booth. When she finished, she turned to leave. Sweets' eyes widened to the size of saucers as Booth grabbed her forearm, spinning her around to him and the mistletoe Angela had hung.
Booth leaned in and kissed her firmly on the lips. He held her there for a few seconds, his hand in a lose grip around her arm and his lips quick and insistent against hers. She responded for the briefest of moments, pushing against him, and then pulled away.
"Wh-what?" Brennan murmured thickly, in a rare instant of incoherence.
Booth flushed, letting go of his partner's arm. "I just, sort of like to piss them off sometimes, you know?"
She considered for a moment. "No, I don't."
"You know…your squints. They wanted a recreation, and I waited until they've all gone to do one." The two of them stared at each other for a moment, and when Brennan didn't respond Booth took a step toward the door, his eyes downcast.
Brennan's breath hitched audibly and she halted Booth, placing a hand to his shoulder. "But that wasn't a recreation."
He blinked at her. "Mistletoe, your office…"
"I grabbed your lapels." She dropped her hand from his shoulder, her fingers falling along his arm on their way back down to her side. Booth's eyes darkened at the touch and his voice took on a gravelly timbre.
"Uh…yeah, you did," he murmured. "You remember?"
"Of course," she said clearly, staring up at him. "I have a very good memory…and excellent muscle memory."
"We each used thirty-four muscles in our faces when Caroline made us…when she made us kiss." Brennan trailed off quietly. Sweets, still in disbelief at what he was witnessing, rolled his eyes at bold-faced Dr. Brennan's sudden difficulty saying the word kiss.
"More, if you count our tongues." Booth smiled sheepishly. "Probably…if they have muscles, which I'm assuming they do."
"They do." Brennan stepped closer to him, until they were almost flush against one another. She studied him for a moment, her eyes bright and more than a little fond.
Without warning, she grabbed the lapels of Booth's jacket, pulling him to her mouth. They kissed slowly, their breath still even and measured.
After a few seconds of their lips meeting in gentle, teasing waves, he grabbed her shoulders to pull her closer to him, his fingers playing at the tips of her hair that fell forward to brush against his hands. Her hands fisted tightly around the material of his jacket. She seemed to shiver as Booth bore down on her mouth, kissing her hungrily, until she met this new more fervent pace. His hands disappeared to tangle in her hair, and the both of them continued in a frenzied sort of fashion, taking in quick, insufficient breaths at intervals. When she pulled away, Booth let out a low groan.
"It was more like that," she gasped.
Booth nodded, a hand still trailing through her hair. "But with gum."
"Maybe we should try it again with gum."
Sweets turned red, perhaps in embarrassment at having watched a mistletoe make-out session between his clients, but more in anger. All that, and still they were still making excuses? They'd have a lot to talk about in their next therapy session.
Shaking his head, he walked away, reaching for his phone and dialing the number of the woman he hoped to be kissing under mistletoe very soon.
A/N: Reviews make great presents, don't you know? And it's never too late to give me a X-mas present!