Okay, here goes! It's been a while since I attempted anything multichapter - I just simply have not had the time. But I'm just going to post this first chapter and see where it takes me. Probably set in early season 3, as I have to have my Zach in the fic. Oh yeah: Late-night post, possible boo-boos, yadda yadda yadda...you get the drift. Oh, and did I mention how much I appreciate all of your wonderful reviews?
Friday evening, seven o'clock. Although the staff at the Jeffersonian was almost fiendishly dedicated to their jobs, except for a select few they were either gone or leaving at this point. Most of the platform and office lights had been extinguished, rendering the unusually stylish lab mysterious and secretive. The relative quiet in the large space was broken by a loud, harassed voice. Through the long shadows marched a determined woman, with a very reluctant man in tow.
"Angela, where are you going now? And why do I have to come with you? Come on, what's this all about?" Never one to resist a mystery, Hodgins had been pestering the love of his life for fifteen minutes, as she refused to go home with him, and, even more peculiarly, refused to let go of his wrist. But she had remained very uncharacteristically mute, her only answer to him a mordant stare. "I mean, you're acting really strange, babe." When she stopped without warning, he skidded to a halt, just avoiding ramming into her. "Babe, what the hell?"
"Zach, there you are! I've been looking for you." Angela stared impatiently up at Zach, who was perched on the top step of the stairway to the lounge. "Why are you up there?"
Zach unfolded his legs and descended to their level. "They're having that argument again. I figured it was best to stay out of the way, until it's over, and I can get permission to go home. You know - the argument," he repeated, when she only stared blankly at him. "The argument they always have."
Angela's face registered disbelief. "Oh, for the love of Pete, can't they argue about anything else?" Her eyes did a slow, dramatic roll. "Wait, how silly of me. They argue about everything. Well, let's get in there before the shouting starts. Come on, Zach, let's go." She began to shepherd the two men in the direction of the offices.
"I don't know why people can't just enjoy the physical aspect of sex, without creating emotional attachments to their sexual partners." Brennan signed off on the last report and handed placed it in her outbox. A small grin brightened her face. She and Booth were having the same old argument about romance versus sex, each falling into their established positions on the topic. They argued about this issue constantly - oddly enough, even after all this time, it was still rather stimulating. She carefully hid her smile from him. He would undoubtedly get cranky if he thought she was laughing at him.
Booth flinched. "Because, Bones, it's normal to develop affection for the person you're sleeping with – and hopefully, the affection comes first. That type of connection is very intimate. You can't keep emotion out of the mix."
"I can – I do it all the time."
He winced again, even more pronounced, his normal response at any mention of her romantic life. "Okay, that's way too much information for me – I don't need to know how often you 'do it'," he joked.
She sighed impatiently. "Don't try to distract me. You know that's not what I meant. I meant that I have physically intimate relationships all the time without the complication of emotions."
Leaning forward in his chair, he braced his elbows on his knees, holding her gaze. "See, that's where you go wrong, Bones. Emotions aren't a complication; they're what make a relationship truly special."
"And if there are emotions on one side and not the other?" She was becoming quite interested in Booth's answers regarding this matter. She'd been doing a lot of thinking, lately, about just this subject. Unfolding a paper clip, she stared covertly at him, waiting for his response. "How many times have we worked a case, only to find out in the end that the reason the crime was committed was that one person wanted more than the other?"
Now it was his turn to sigh. "I'm not saying it's always perfect, Bones." Wearily he rubbed his eyes. "You don't always find your true mate the first time out. But by allowing emotions to enter the mix, you open yourself to the possibility of finding that one special person."
She was instantly off and running, eager to express her opinion. "I object to the word 'mate' – it indicates that monogamy is normal for the human race, when in actuality a polygamous existence –"
He shook his head, pausing the argument for the time being. "Alright, don't start on that again. We'll just have to agree to disagree for now. But someday," he continued, his eyes gleaming with humor and something warmer, more intimate, "that special guy is gonna come into your life, and you're not gonna be able to distance yourself from it."
She frowned, suspicious. He liked to trip her up with semantics and his trademark illogical logic. If this was a trap, though, she couldn't see it. "From what?"
She should have known. He was such an idealist. "True love is an imprecise, idealized concept propagated by fairy tale books and movies. There is no such thing as 'happily ever after'. The sooner people acknowledge that fact, the more fortunate they'll be." Briskly snapping shut her briefcase, she stood, slinging the strap over her shoulder and effectively ending the discussion. "Why are you still here?"
Blinking in surprise, he stood as well. "Wow, that was an abrupt change of subject." He wasn't offended – he knew she didn't mean it as an insult, but had asked simply because she was curious. He craned his head around, peering out toward the platform. "Angela asked me to meet her here at the end of the day, said she had something to ask me. Where the heck is she, anyway?"
"I'm right here." Herding an annoyed-looking Hodgins before her and dragging Zach by the elbow, Angela steamed into the office. "We're going out for drinks. I've finally got all of you together, and we are going out to have some fun."
Noting that Angela's back was turned, Booth spotted his opening and immediately started edging toward the door. "Well, I kinda promised my friend I'd meet him after work…"
"No. Do not move one more step." She pointed a finger at him. "You are going. End of discussion."
He pouted and dropped onto the couch, sulking. Nice, Seeley. Army Ranger sniper and FBI Special Agent – and you know when to shut up and do as you're told. Resigned to the inevitable, he eventually decided he might as well enjoy the rest of the show, and settled back to watch Angela bully, coerce, and otherwise convince the rest of the Squint Squad to party. Zach pretty much just went where he was told, so he was easy. Hodgins was tougher – he was more interested in going home with Angela - but she eventually won out over him, and he plopped down on the couch next to Booth with a peevish look on his face. But Bones…
"No, Angela. I don't care what you say. I'm not going out tonight. I'm completely exhausted – I was up most of the night finishing up the Carlyle matter. I doubt I got even three hours of sleep. I just want to go home and go to bed."
So that's why she looked tired, Booth mused. He hadn't mentioned it to her, but he'd noticed, all the same. Maybe that could be his out… "If Bones isn't going, I'm not going either." If he could get out of this, maybe he could convince her to join him for dinner before she went home.
"Or me!" chimed Hodgins. "I didn't want to go in the first place. And neither did Zach," he added for good measure, quickly sacrificing his friend. Zach rather intelligently kept his mouth shut.
"Stop, all of you!" Slim and determined, Angela stood in the doorway, completely blocking Brennan's escape route. "Sweetie, I hate to do this to you, but I have to do this to you." Her face firmed up, as if reaching a final decision. "I'm cashing one in."
"Oh, Angela, no!" Staring fixedly at her friend, Brennan's forward progress faltered and ground to a miserable halt. "Not tonight!"
Fascinated, Booth watched as all of Bones' determination seemed to disappear, and she quite visibly deflated, a look of horror spreading quickly across her features. He was intensely curious – he simply had to ask. "Okay, Bones, what is she cashing in, and what's wrong with you? Why are you making that trembly face?"
As Brennan seemed to have temporarily lost her ability to speak, Angela answered him. "We have a little 'Free Pass' agreement. Each year, we both get three free passes. If one person wants the other person to do something that they don't want to do – within reason – you can use the pass. It ends the argument – the other person has to do what you say."
Backed into a social corner, Brennan had no choice but to accede to her friend's request, but, tired as she was, couldn't help but grumble a bit. "I haven't used any of my passes on you," she mumbled snarkily.
"Why doesn't that surprise me?" Booth asked himself quietly. "Ah, Bones, if you haven't used any passes, whose fault is that?" The heat of her stare was easily felt by him, although he'd turned quickly away to avoid the Wrath of Bones.
"Yeah, Sweetie, I can't tell you how happy I would be if you actually used one of yours. That's kinda the whole point." She looked pointedly at Brennan. "Basically, this means that Bren is coming with us – we are all going out tonight."
"I don't have anything to wear, Angela." Brennan seemed ultimately prepared to accept her sentence, but she wasn't wearing the right clothes. The muddy jeans and old sweater she'd worn for her outdoor assignment were clearly unsuitable.
More prepared than any five-star general, her friend had carefully planned in advance. "Which is why I brought one of my outfits for you to wear. Come with me, dahling…" She began to drag Brennan from the room, but stopped as a sudden thought occurred to her. "If any of you try to sneak out while I'm gone, I will hunt you down and shoot you with Booth's gun." Her obsidian stare emphasized her forceful words. "I'm not kidding. Stay."
In the sudden silence left after the door shut, Booth and Hodgins exchanged uncomfortable glances. Hodgins shot him a sour grin and, after several moments, was the first to break the silence. "Dude, getting shot with your own gun would totally suck."
Scowling, Booth leaned over, crowding him. "Getting shot at all totally sucks. Wanna try it?" Good – that shut him up. The last thing he needed was to spar with a squint tonight. He already did that every day. And Hodgins was definitely not as pretty as Bones. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Zach raise his hand, and testily rolled his eyes. What is with this kid? "What, Zach? Why are you raising your hand?"
"I have a question, but you're obviously out of sorts, and I don't want to be shot."
"Just ask your question, already." When Zach merely stared uncertainly at him, he relented. "I promise I won't shoot you. What's your question?"
"Well, if Hodgins is Angela's date, and you're Dr. Brennan's date, who is my date?"
"What?" I shouldn't have promised not to shoot him. He threw another bad-tempered glare at Hodgins, who hastily stopped mid-laugh. "I am not Bones' date – we're all just going out, as co-workers, for drinks. No dating going on." He saw Zach's mouth open again and quickly threw up his hand, rushing to stop what was undoubtedly another awkward inquiry. "No more questions from squints, okay? Just…just sit over there quietly, until we go." Several moments passed, and he began to relax slightly. Maybe this will be okay – I'll have a couple of beers, maybe a scotch, and hop the rails home. This'll be a pretty quick night.
"Okay, boys, we're ready – who wants to drive? 'Cause I can tell you, Brennan and I are going to be drinking!" Angela sashayed into the room, Brennan following slowly behind.
Booth felt the air rapidly being siphoned out of his lungs. Angela's clothes definitely ran to the more dramatic, and they'd truly found a happy home on Bones. Endless amounts of creamy skin were offset by fabric in contrasting streams of olive, russet and gold. The cut of the short dress was definitely designed with Angela in mind – Bones' curvier body threatened to breach the boundaries of the luxurious material. The strappy sandals in a matching metallic shade were distressingly high, with the corresponding length of leg even more unsettling. The hues underscored her delicate coloring, but the real focus was her face. Bronze color was slicked along her curved lips, highlighting her alluring cupid's bow mouth. Eyes so smoky, so hot that he needed that first beer now. Right now. Or maybe a scotch. Carefully staring at a spot just above her head, his attention was then drawn to her softly tousled hair. He swallowed convulsively and looked in a different direction entirely.
"Wow, Dr. Brennan, hubba hubba!" Hodgins leaned back, perusing her new look.
Brennan's cheeks pinked becomingly. From an objective standpoint she knew she was attractive, but she always felt out of place when dressed more alluringly. But the reactions she'd received upon re-entering the room were quite gratifying. While Hodgin's response had been pleasing, her stomach had tingled and pitched when she saw the look in Booth's eyes. Before he looked away completely, that is. I look good. Gathering her purse and keys, she allowed Angela to herd her toward the door with the rest of the group.
His blood roiling, Booth quickly snapped at Hodgins, feeling the evening begin to slip beyond his control. "Hey! Watch it with the hubba hubba business!"
He'd never been more wrong – this was going to be a very long night.
I'd like to know if anyone thinks I should continue - thoughts?