AN: I know it's been a while since I updated this, but don't worry, I haven't abandoned it. I was just having trouble taking good ideas and getting them onto paper. The idea for this one-shot (bed shopping) was suggested by labrat21 back in September. I immediately thought it was a good idea, but I had a hard time "seeing" the scene in my head, so I let it sit. Several weeks ago this popped into my head and now here it is. Thanks to labrat21 for the idea and to redrider6612 who edited it for me. Thanks to everybody who's reviewed. I hope you enjoy this.
Paul rubbed his temples, willing the ibuprofen tablets he'd swallowed to take effect. His head pounded and the soft jazz coming from the store's speakers grated on his nerves.
He looked at the mattresses on display and wished for the hundredth time that he could just lay down for a quick nap.
The door chimed as a couple entered. His hand rode her back and she was turned toward him. The chemistry between them was so strong he wondered if it was possible to be singed by simple proximity.
"Bones, I don't know why we had to take the morning off work to do this."
He called her "Bones"? What a horrible nickname. At least he hoped it was a nickname.
"Booth, I've already told you. You need a new mattress. Your current one does not support your back properly."
"Yeah, but on a work day?"
"I'm not fixing your back again tomorrow. You're getting a new mattress today. Besides, you don't want to spend your weekend with Parker mattress shopping, do you?"
Paul approached, hoping that they weren't going to spontaneously combust in the store either from their argument or their chemistry. His head ached. Why couldn't they be a nice older replacing their mattress after 30 years of marriage?
"Hi! Welcome to the Mattress Emporium. I'm Paul."
'Bones' said, "For now, he's just going to look around. I'll let you know if he needs anything."
Paul nodded, relieved. That would give the pain reliever time to take the edge off his headache.
"Bones, it's rude to talk about me as if I'm not here," the man protested.
"Once we find a mattress that seems to be good, you need to test it for a minimum of 15 minutes."
The first few mattresses Booth tried, he got off right away.
He sank down into another. "This one is nice, Bones."
"No. Absolutely not."
"It sinks under your weight. It will not provide you proper lumbar support."
"But it feels good."
"Am I or am I not the bone expert and trained in kinesiology?"
He pouted as he got up and continued to the next mattress.
The pair worked their way systematically through the store. As Paul's headache abated, the couple became more and more entertaining. Her reasons a mattress was wrong were practically incomprehensible, but Booth seemed to understand what he meant.
He took one look at the next mattress and shook his head. "There's no way I'm trying that one!"
"What's wrong with it?"
"Look at it! There's no way I can sleep on a purple mattress with unicorns on it."
"How it looks is irrelevant. With sheets on it, you'd never notice."
"No, that mattress is for six-year-old girls." He moved onto the next mattress.
They tried three quarters of the mattresses in the store before they found one that they both agreed on.
Bones looked at her watch. "It's 11:37. At 11:52, you can tell me how it feels."
He squirmed on the mattress. "Bones, this one is fine. Why do I have to wait fifteen minutes?"
"Because Consumer Reports says that's how long it takes your body to actually determine if a mattress is comfortable or not. Just try to get comfortable. Lay on it like you're going to take a nap."
He made a genuine effort. "Bones, I'm not sleepy in the least. Let's talk about something."
"What do you want to talk about?"
"I don't know. You come up with a topic."
"Okay." She thought for a minute. "How was your last date?"
Paul's ears perked up. They acted like they were married. Why was she asking him about a date?
"Anything but my dating life."
"Um. I read an online article yesterday about the use of hormones in raising beef and chicken. A Dr. Thomas from University of Ohio is about to publish a longitudinal study of its effects on children. The article speculates that…"
"If you're about to tell me that it affects the male reproductive system in any way I don't want to hear it!"
What kind of people talked about scientific studies in a mattress store? Paul wondered. This not-couple was really strange.
"Why not? I'd think you'd be concerned about the impact it might have on Parker. You should really go organic Booth. Gene modified foods are likely just as problematic."
"Okay, we are not talking about my eating habits. Next you'll be telling me I should trade my burgers for tofu." He snaked out an arm and pulled her onto the bed next to him.
"Booth! What are you doing?"
He turned onto his side facing her, an arm supporting his head. "If I have to test the mattress, you can test it too."
She mirrored his pose. "That makes no sense. I am not going to be sleeping on it."
His eyes sparkled. "Who knows? Maybe you'll fall asleep at my place sometime. I would, of course, be a gentleman and give you the bed."
"In that case, you need to replace your couch," Bones informed him. "It's worse for your back than your current mattress. I don't have back problems, so the couch would be fine for me."
He rolled his eyes. She looked down at the mattress label and then started to laugh.
He glanced at it and frowned. "Absolutely not!"
"You have to admit that it's a little funny, Booth." She glanced at her watch. "Oh, look, it's 12:03. How did that one feel?"
"It was alright," he said grudgingly.
Paul approached them as they got off the mattress. At least they hadn't started making out while they waited. Those couples were the worst. "So, this mattress seemed to be the right one?"
The woman giggled and the man frowned. "Do you have any others similar to this one, preferably a different brand?"
Paul thought for a moment. "This isn't a very popular model. I believe the manufacturer is discontinuing it. The closest would be this one."
He led them to another mattress, but Bones shook her head the moment Booth was stretched out on it.
"It has to be the other one."
What was he whining about? It was a perfectly good mattress by Sealy.
She nodded decisively. "He'll take one like that in a king size."
As Paul went to ring up the purchase, he tried to figure them out. Where they a couple or not? They argued and touched in a way that demonstrated they were completely at ease with each other. And he let her bully him into a mattress he didn't seem to want even though it was comfortable for him. What was wrong with the mattress?
"That will be $765.42 with tax. How will you be paying today? Check, credit card?" Paul asked. "I can have it delivered today at no extra charge. They'll haul away the old mattress for $25."
The man reached for his wallet reluctantly.
"I can get if you like Booth," she smiled sweetly. He whipped out his card and tossed it on the counter, trying to be casual.
When he handed it back with the signed receipt, Paul looked at the name on the card "Seeley Booth." He suppressed a smirk and compared the signature on the back to the back of the card. No wonder the man didn't want to buy a Sealy
Paul consulted the schedule. "Does between 2 and 4 work for you?"
"That doesn't give us much time for lunch!"
"Booth, it's fine. We never take that long to eat."
"I know, but I have the day off. I wanted to enjoy some of it."
"We can have a nice dinner."
"Okay, fine. Between 2 and 4."
Then they walked out bickering about where to eat lunch.
Paul laughed. Seeley sleeping on a Sealy. This day was turning out to be pretty good. Wait until he told his wife about this. And his headache was finally gone.
He smiled at the next customer that walked through the door. "Welcome to the Mattress Emporium. I'm Paul. How can I help you today?"