Other arms reach out to me
Other eyes smile tenderly
Still in peaceful dreams I see
The road leads back to you...
- Georgia on My Mind, Ray Charles
Brennan leaned back into the reclining leather chair as a small Vietnamese woman polished her toes, listening to Amy chatter incessantly on her right. Her eyes were shut, but she couldn't block out the noise—she just nodded when the time seemed right, and neglected to voice any of her own opinions. It didn't matter; Amy didn't seem like the type of woman who actually wanted you to voice your opinions, just to listen to hers.
She mentally admonished herself for not being fair enough to her sister in law; after all, she had insisted that Brennan come with her and the girls for a spa day, a sort of "family bonding" experience.
"I feel like I don't really know you, and we're sisters now," Amy had insisted over the phone. "Plus the girls really want to see their aunt." Angela nodded insistently as she listened to the speakerphone conversation, encouraging her friend to take the day off from dead people and just enjoy herself. She sighed and agreed, and it had landed her here.
"Aunt Tempe." Hayley summoned Brennan's attention back to the present, and she opened her eyes and looked down at the little girl on her left, decked out in a fuzzy pink spa robe.
"What color should I get on my nails?" Brennan looked down at the wide array of polishes offered to the girl on a tray, and raised her brows.
"Uhm…" she said, not really sure what to say. She had never in her life been to a spa of any sort—her idea of a relaxing day was sweatpants and a t-shirt, going over the rough draft of her latest book, or maybe watching Booth and Parker play football in the park. It was as if her life was suddenly filled with other people's children, and they all (for an unknown reason that puzzled her) seemed to enjoy her company. Of course she enjoyed spending time with Booth's son, and her nieces were lovely girls, but she never felt a particularly strong connection to any of them.
"Well?" Hayley asked again. Brennan finally shrugged.
"I don't know, don't most girls your age usually prefer pink?" she asked. Hayley gave her a look that suggested she was trying very hard not to roll her eyes.
"Well yeah," she said. "But there's like, six different kinds of pink."
"Oh," Brennan said. Emma saved her from having to deliberate between the different shades by picking for both of them, a vibrant shade that looked fit to trim the Barbie Dream House.
"This is fun, isn't it?" Amy asked a few minutes later, breaking what Brennan had thought was a rather enjoyable lull in conversation.
"It is nice," she responded, not knowing what else to say. Over the past four hours she had been rubbed, scrubbed, peeled, soaked, and waxed in more places than she knew she had. Most of the experience had been comfortable (bar the waxing), but throughout the duration she couldn't help but think of all the work she could be doing at the lab—there were over a hundred unidentified skeletons in Limbo awaiting identification, even if they were between cases. Angela had used the phrase 'workaholic' in her appeal to Brennan's girlier nature, insisting she take the time with her newfound family. It was the idea of spending time with her brother's new wife and daughters, more so than the spa aspect, that finally won her over.
"Russ warned me you're not really into the girly stuff, but I told him, what woman doesn't love a spa day?" Amy said, giving Brennan what seemed to be a knowing smile. Before she was forced to smile or nod or in some way respond to the statement, she was saved by a familiar voice booming down the hall.
"No, I know, I just need to talk to my partner… what do you mean my eyebrows?" Brennan smiled her first true smile of the day, and before long she saw Booth's head and broad shoulders peek into the room.
"Well don't you look relaxed?" he asked, looking thoroughly amused.
"So what's wrong with your eyebrows?" she asked with a smirk, wiping the smile from his face. He waved to Amy and the girls in turn as he stepped gingerly over the trays of nail polish and foot scrub, looking as awkward as a bull in a china shop.
"Nothing," he responded. "But I have something for you."
"Murder victims?" she asked expectantly. The woman working on her foot dropped it suddenly, giving her a wary look. Amy groaned.
"Yep!" Booth said jovially. "Three of them, in Florida."
"You get to go to the beach?" Hayley whined. "No fair!"
"I don't think we'll be spending much time at the beach," Brennan said to her niece, turning her attention back to her partner. "When are we leaving?"
"Now," he said, grabbing her by her upper arm and hoisting her out of the spa chair. "Get dressed and meet me outside, we'll swing by your place to get you packed and then we've got a five-fifteen flight out of here."
"What time is it now?" she asked, having noticed when she first arrived that spas, like casinos, don't have clocks.
"That's kind of short notice, Booth," she groused, standing one-footed like a flamingo as she picked the cotton balls from between her toes.
"Hey, your people made the arrangements, not mine," he said. He turned suddenly to the small woman who had been staring at him since he entered the room. "Can I help you with something?"
"Your face," she said, reaching up and touching his cheek. "Very smooth for man. You come to spa often?" He pulled his face away from her reach, looking affronted.
"No!" he answered loudly. "No, I don't. I just… I have good skin. I'm going to wait outside now." He left, and hadn't been waiting long before he saw Brennan emerge from the spa, looking harried. She got into the SUV and sighed, shaking her head.
"I don't know what it is about spas that people find so relaxing," she said. Booth smiled.
"What, you weren't enjoying yourself? I thought girls just wanted to have fun," he teased. She scowled.
"I only went because Amy asked me to," she insisted. "She wanted to spend time together, as a family."
"Well that's normal," Booth said in Amy's defense. "You are her sister in law now, and the aunt to her girls. She wants to spend time together, to get to know you."
"I know," Brennan said. "I just don't see the allure in all that."
"Well, you'll be happy to know that where we're going in Florida, there won't be any spas for miles," Booth said. "From what they've told me, we're going to be in BFE."
"I don't know what that means," Brennan said plainly. Booth sighed.
"Nevermind," he said. "Just take my word on this one… by the time we're done working this case, you'll be itching to spend time with your family, even if you have to suffer through an afternoon at the spa to do it."
Brennan packed quick and light, knowing their hotel would have a laundry room if they ended up staying more than a few days. Booth waited patiently in the car for her—she could hear the bass thudding as she came down the apartment steps, suitcase rolling behind her. They drove all the way to the airport like that, with the music filling the quiet spaces. Brennan enjoyed the opportunity not to have to fill the void with aimless conversation; not that her conversations with Booth were usually aimless, but she had spent the entire afternoon chatting, and she was verbally spent for the day.
They barely caught their flight on time, sliding into their first class seats just before they closed the plane doors. Booth settled into the reclining leather seat, happy as a pig.
"I think your people should make our arrangements from now on," Booth said as he forked a small, springy dinner salad.
"Why's that? Because you're actually allowed to be in first class this time?" Brennan asked.
"Exactly," he said. "When the FBI makes my arrangements, they put me in the cheapest seat the plane has. Usually it's the one above the engine, so I feel like if we go down, I'm going to explode." Brennan snorted.
"In reality, if a plane goes down from thirty thousand feet, everyone is going to die," she said. "It doesn't matter where you sit." Booth gave her a look.
"Thanks for that reassuring info," he grumbled, shoving the rest of his dinner roll into his mouth. "I wonder why the Jeffersonian paid my way anyway." When Brennan didn't say anything he looked over at her, and saw her smiling lightly as she adamantly refused to meet his gaze.
"Did you have something to do with that?" he asked. She shrugged.
"It might have been suggested to Goodman that since you work so closely with the Jeffersonian, you should be endowed some of our travel perks," she said off-handedly. "He's the one who put the order through to the financial office, though, so thank him." Booth shook his head and smiled, leaning in and bumping her shoulder with his.
"Thanks, Bones," he said.
"You're welcome," she replied, bumping him back.
The vast sprawl of lights beneath the plane told Brennan they had arrived in Jacksonville, and before long they were back on the ground and collecting their luggage. As they waited at the rental desk to collect the keys for their car, Booth read off an informational pamphlet.
"Hey, did you know Jacksonville is the largest city in land area in the continental United States?" he asked as he read off a bulleted list of fun facts.
"Did you know the city was named for the first military governor of the territory, Andrew Jackson, who would later be elected the seventh president of the United States?" Brennan asked, without having to access any informative flyers. Booth frowned.
"How do you know that?" he asked. "Or, more importantly, why?" She shrugged.
"I don't know, I just do," she said, signing for the car and taking the keys. Booth plucked the keys out of her hand, giving her a smug look.
"Just like you know I always drive, right?" he said. She hrmphed.
"Let's just go," she said, allowing him to lead the way through the airport. "I'm exhausted."
"Oh what, did that spa day wear you out?" Booth teased. "Don't worry, tomorrow you'll be back to dead bodies and murderers… rest and relaxation."
A/N: So, what are your thoughts so far? Like it, hate it, interested at all? Leave a review and let me know. :) We'll get into the actual case and "meet the family" starting in the next chapter or so.
Also, I want to thank Melissa for helping me out with getting the plot organized beforehand. You're a lifesaver!