Author's Note: I think it's safe to say it's been a while, and here I am NOT updating my story. I therefore offer you all this little one-shot in the hopes that I won't get beaten down with a stick. Did it work? Did it?! I'd like to thank my beta Amanda – who's kind of awesome – for listen to all my story ideas and listening to me complain about being at a standstill in 'Now That You're Here'. Anyway, enjoy and hopefully I'll have an update for you all soon! Read on….
Angela sensed his presence even before he heaved a dramatic sigh from his spot, silhouetted at the threshold of her office door. She smirked.
"Good evening, Booth."
"Hey Ange," he sighed before dragging his solid form inside to plop himself down on her couch.
Angela said nothing, but fought a smile as she redirected her attention back to her sketch, thinking about how frequent these little visits had been in the last few weeks. She waited for him to speak, just as she always did. If she pushed, he'd brush it off with as much nonchalance as he could muster and strut out of her office before she could get another word out.
She risked a peek at him through her lashes and couldn't hold back the smile any longer as she saw that a pout had taken residence on his face and he was looking forlornly out at the empty platform.
"Can I help you with anything?" She asked innocently as she stood from her stool, opened her desk drawer and rummaged through her art supplies.
"What – oh," he hastily schooled his features into something less obvious before clearing his throat, "Nah, nothing."
The smile he gave her was forced.
Angela raised her eyebrows but, again, said nothing as she picked out a pencil, closed her drawer and returned to her stool. With barely a second thought she flipped the sketch she had just began to the back of her pad and started on a different, far more intriguing subject.
She could tell by his tense shoulders and the pulsing clench in his jaw that he was trying with all his might to not look back out at the platform. Instead he was looking at – but hardly seeing, she noted – the lit up limbo drawers that lined the length of her office, silhouetting the miscellaneous remains that lay within.
Her pencil moved swiftly across the page capturing the lines in his face, so much more pronounced than usual. The warmth that usually swam within his deep, chocolate brown eyes was absent, just as it had been lately, and instead the hollow depths reminded her of the empty canvas of an artist lacking the spark that only his muse could provide.
He clasped his hands together so tightly that they twitched every second or so from their position on his lap and she suspected that it was only this connection that that was keeping him composed. He was hanging at the edge of a cliff, his fingers scrapping through the dirt little by little and with each passing second bringing him closer to his imminent fall. He would fall, she knew this with certainty, and only then would he break down and admit why it was that he had come to her.
Angela already knew, though.
She always pretended to be innocently surprised and completely oblivious to his obvious inner turmoil when he made his daily appearance in her office. It was always around the same time of day – the time he usually reserved for pie and coffee at the diner.
Suddenly, he shifted his position, stretching his long legs out to rest on her coffee table and gently letting his head fall back to rest on the couch, his eyes directed at the ceiling. His hands remained folded together, tight as ever.
Angela grinned again, flipping to a fresh page in her sketchbook. Ah, to live in such blissful denial, she mused.
His eyes now held a hint of sadness which she rushed to recreate on her paper before he blinked and buried the emotion deep within himself and out of sight. With his new position, she now had an unobstructed view of his strong neck – his Adam's apple bobbed up and then down each time he swallowed back what he had almost worked up the courage to say. Occasionally he would let out a nearly inaudible sigh that would pull at her heartstrings and make her want to throw down her pad and pencil and just give the poor man a hug.
Just as she was finally pulling the right emotion out of his tangle of fingers, accurately representing them on her paper – it had taken her a few tries – he suddenly yanked them apart and let his arms fall limply to his side. She quickly readjusted her expression, hiding her glee, and looked up to his now desperate eyes with what she hoped looked like mild curiosity.
"You okay, G-man?"
"Yeah," he shrugged, looking away, "fine."
Angela nodded patiently, looking back to her sketch.
"It's just –"
She looked up eagerly to find him looking absent-mindedly out the window at the gently falling snow. She didn't dare prompt him to continue.
"Have you," he cleared his throat, attempting to make the inquiry she knew was coming seem more nonchalant, "I don't know – heard from Bones or anything, lately?"
She had to forcefully hold back the smile that so desperately wanted to spread across her face. "Nope," she added a shrug for effect before flipping to a blank page in her sketch book to begin again. He was now leaning forward with his elbow resting on his knees, his chin cupped in his hands.
"Oh – okay," he was silent for a moment before clearing his throat again, "So, uh, you working on anything important?" His attempt at casual conversation was sad, at best and Angela felt another tug at her heart.
"Very." She smiled widely up at him and enjoyed the look of confusion that past quickly in and out of his expression.
"Oh – well, I guess I leave you to it then," giving her another forced smile, she noticed that he rose slowly and it was only reluctantly that he made his way out of her office.
With a smile she watched him walk away, purposely waiting until he was almost out of earshot before calling to him.
"Brennan said she'd be gone no longer than four weeks."
She cocked her head to one side, watching as he awkwardly attempted to digest the information – rocking back on his heels, digging his hands into his pockets, and nodding way too many times while sputtering out some kind of reaction, trying with all his might to act as though that wasn't exactly the information for which he had come.
She shrugged again, keeping up the rouse of nonchalance. She looked over at the calendar on her desk for effect. "I guess that means that she'll be back tomorrow or the next day."
A bit of the warmth that had been missing seeped back into his eyes and a small – but this time, very real – smile spread across his lips.
He nodded again. "Oh. That's good. It's been a while – you know, since we've seen her."
"Yup." She nodded back.
"I guess," he paused, scratching his cheek, "uh – I'll see you later then."
"See you later, Booth." She gave him a smile and pretended to return to her sketch.
A second ticked passed before he turned on his heel and took smooth, swift steps through the deserted lab. Looking up as discretely as she could, she finally allowed that smile to spread as she observed him pause for the briefest of seconds to glance into his partner's empty office. He smiled wider this time, before turning away to leave with a newfound spring in his step.
When he was out of sight, she sighed contently. Oh, how absence really does make the heart grow fonder.
A/N: Okay, I suppose now is a more appropriate time to ask if reading this made up for my lack of updating – Did it work? Did it?! Please review, I'd love to here whacha think!