Ch. 1: Absence and Presence
"Hey Cam, what's Hodgins doing here? He hates these things more than I do." Booth asked as he sidled up to his friend. He knew that the bug man normally avoided the Jeffersonian ball every year because he didn't want to be bothered by the suck ups who might recognize the very rich but ultimately very private man.
"Oh, he came as Brennan's date. Said he figured he could be slightly rude if he had to if he wasn't here as an employee." Cam said simply.
"Oh. Wait. Brennan's date? You mean like a friend thing, right?"
"Not exactly Booth, no."
"What?!" Booth was in total shock. Were Bones and Hodgins dating? When the h3ll had that happened?
"What Seeley, you expected her to come alone? You brought a date, why shouldn't she?" Cam said sharply, annoyed with the FBI agent. Things had been tense around the lab for the past few months, ever since he started seeing his latest blonde. She knew he wasn't serious about the girl, that he was just having a "good time" as he put it, but that wasn't really the point. No, the point was that he shouldn't be dating anyone else when he was so obviously in love with a certain forensic anthropologist. And judging by the way Brennan had been walking around like a zombie since she found out, the feelings were definitely mutual.
"What? No! I mean, of course Bones should have a date. I'm just surprised, that's all."
"Uh huh, sure that's it."
Booth ignored his friend and stared at the couple who were now making their way across the dance floor. Pale blue eyes locked with deep blue ones as they started to move together, small smiles on their faces. Even in his shock he noticed how beautiful Bones looked tonight in her silver evening gown and how handsome the normally scruffy Hodgins looked in his tux, especially with his beard trimmed back. They looked like a well-matched pair—attractive, brilliant, wealthy people who were enjoying each other's company. Booth had to keep himself from crying out in frustration.
"It started about a month ago," Cam explained, noticing the expression on Booth's face. He should have known better, she thought to herself. He's supposed to be the 'heart' guy. "You were out with Julie and Brennan was working way too late as she had been since you two didn't have regular plans anymore. I was actually about to go into her office and try to make her leave with me when I noticed Hodgins heading in there instead. He just walked right up to her, held out his hand and said 'come on, we're going to dinner.' And just like that, she put her hand in his and let him lead her out of the building. Since then, I usually don't see one without the other."
"But—" He started speaking without really having a clue as to what he was going to say. But what?
"Seeley, you're such an idiot."
"You heard me. You are so clearly in love with Brennan and yet you start dating another woman. Then, you expect her to handle it like its no problem and nothing's changed while simultaneously distancing yourself from her little by little. You're the one who made her open up and let people in, and then when she does just that and starts to depend on you, you're too busy with your latest fling to spend time with her. God! I hate when people do this—they get so wrapped up in their relationships that they just ignore their friends. I wouldn't have expected it from you Seeley, not when it comes to her."
"What are you talking about?"
"You're off having a good time with Julie, Angela's completely consumed by Roxie, h3ll even I have a social life! Who's the odd person out here Booth? Who's the one who keeps getting left behind?"
"Oh my god…"
"Yep. Luckily for all of us, there was someone else left out too who actually took notice of how lonely she was. I never would've put the two of them together, that's for sure, but you and Angela both left them alone and broken. If you don't like what you see now, you have only yourselves to blame." And with that, the no-nonsense woman stalked away from the dumbstruck man to go find herself a strong drink.