Every now and then, an author has a right to be a little self-indulgent. This, my friends, is my time. I have met the most amazing people here and on LJ, and I feel like a few of them deserve some heartfelt recognition. Behind every good author is a team of people that really keep them going. Maybe its just that its late at night and I'm tired, but I truly feel compelled to acknowledge some folks. Sorry if these things annoy you. (Actually, I'm not really sorry...a little recognition is the least I can do)
Heather (hpaich) Seriously, I think I might just throw in the towel if it wasn't for you! And certainly, this fic would never have seen the light of day without you compelling me to tag Beaver. No one can make me laugh so hard, that's for sure. I swear, if you ever go to prison, I'll be the visitor with the suspicious looking baked goods. Because who else could I debate what - besides gum - we would like to put in Booth's mouth? UBBies fo' Eva! ~Your little lunatic
Sherri (Bearleethere) Thank you so much for the amazing feedback regarding this fic - I hope the little changes made it all seem a bit more cohesive. I am very, very lucky to have found you! I'm sure that our whole community will be enriched when you get to start writing for the Bones fandom. Until then, I am going to use you mercilessly for my own! Bwa ha ha! (Your insight into Flight has been tremendous!)
And of course, I must mention that this fic is dedicated to all of my incredibly loyal fluff fans, in particular Jess (CupcakeBean) and Leah (CSI 4077). I will certainly never underestimate a loyal reader that rides the angst train with me even though its really just not their thing. Here's a little fluff for all of you!
The soft rap of knuckles against her door accompanied the voice of her partner as he stuck his head into her office. She looked up from her laptop and watched as the rest of his body followed his head after confirming that she was inside. It was certainly a surprise to see him here at this time of night, and she wondered what was going on. He wasn't dressed for work, so she assumed it wasn't a case.
"Booth…what are you doing here?" There was no accusation in her voice like there might have been in years gone by. While his unannounced visits often interrupted whatever task she was working on, it was never unwelcome. Their relationship had progressed to the point that her tone held only simple curiosity.
"Hey…I was hoping that I'd find you here. Did you turn your cell off?"
Her eyes darted to the device in question, lying silently on her desk. Sure enough, the message indicator light on its side was flashing every couple of seconds; the red pulsing of it causing her to feel sheepish for having missed his call.
"I turned it to silent. I'm sorry Booth." She looked up from the phone to see him standing in front of her desk, his usual confident demeanor somehow lacking in his posture tonight. "I was trying to write."
She didn't need to say anything else. He understood.
She continued with a slight hesitation in her voice.
"Is…everything all right?"
"Oh yeah, fine fine." His quick response and tense posture belied his words though and put her on higher alert. Reading body language and small speech variations may not be her strong suit, but she felt that after four years she at least knew this man well enough to tell something was up.
"Why do you look so uncomfortable?" She asked the question in her typically direct style, eyeing him suspiciously as he shifted his weight from one foot to the other.
"What?" He glanced down as if searching for confirmation that his body was indeed giving him away. "Oh, umm…my football knee is acting up a bit." He straightened and quickly changed the subject.
"Look, I'm heading over to the Founding Fatherhas to meet up with Jared." Booth's hand had moved up to rub at the back of his neck while he spoke, and his eyes seemed to be looking everywhere but at her. " I was thinking that, well…you could…come with me…if you want."
Having visually roamed the room, he finally settled his gaze back on her. Their eyes locked, and she was struck by the intensity that she found there. It was obvious even to her that the answer she provided him with was very important to him. However, it was also clear why he was acting so strangely.
"Booth…there's no reason for me to go with you to talk to Jared." She paused here and thought about what she would say next. He was opening his mouth to talk, so she jumped back in without having fully formulated her response.
"Please don't misunderstand. I can see what you're trying to do, and I appreciate the effort. I admit, I was a little hurt when you said that you had something personal to do and that I wasn't privy to that information. But that was wrong of me, and I want you to know that I totally understand. " She looked at him with complete sincerity, hoping that he would be able to see that she was truly over it.
"I assume that you picked up on my juvenile response, and that that is why you chose to share a little of what was going on while we were in the car. I can't honestly say why I reacted that way, but I can tell you that I get it. He's your brother, and there's no reason for you to have to share every detail of your life with me."
If she was over it, why did the words cause a sharp bite in the back of her throat? The urge to swallow the lump that was forming there was coupled with the horrifying thought that she might suddenly start crying. What was wrong with her?
Booth seemed to be thankfully unaware of her internal struggle, as he beckoned to her with his hand. "Don't be silly, Bones. I want you there. Come on, let's go!" The efficiency was back in his step as he clapped his hands together and walked over to pick her jacket up from the back of her chair. As he held it aloft for her, she stood up and faced him.
"Booth, listen. I'm not going. You go and deal with Jared, and I'll see you tomorrow, ok?" She reached out a tentative hand, and placed it on one of his outstretched arms. With Booth, it always seemed that small touches conveyed more than she was capable of saying verbally.
Her partner was a kind man, and he was her friend. The fact that he felt some sense of guilt over this situation was proof enough of that. But he didn't need her tagging along unnecessarily just because he didn't want her feelings to be hurt. No matter how close the two of them sometimes seemed to be, there were parts of his life that he wanted to exclude her from, and she had to accept that.
The lump in her throat grew in proportionate size, and tears once again threatened the corners of her eyes. She had to mentally scold herself, commanding that she get a grip.
The only thing worse than being considered "the public" would be following along where she wasn't wanted. And she was never going to be the type of woman that would jump at any opportunity to be around a man, even if it was for pity's sake. Never.
But she was shocked when her hand – that one simple touch – had a much more drastic effect than she had anticipated. Booth's face crumpled and his whole body went slack where he stood. His arms lowered to his side, her jacket now held against his thighs. He looked so completely raw and vulnerable that her breath caught in her throat.
She had never seen him this way before.
The moments ticked by, the only sounds that of their breathing and the incredible pounding of her heart in her ears. How could he not hear that? After drawing in a couple ragged breaths, he seemed to come to some kind of conclusion. He squared his shoulders and slowly lifted his head until he once more captured her eyes with his.
"Look, Bones – the truth is…god, I'm no good at this." He looked away for a quick second, before he turned back to her with such a burning look of intent that she felt captured within its heat.
"The truth is, you are personal. Very personal. I want to share things with you, I'm just not used to doing it. I'm not always sure how to do it."
And suddenly the tears were there, shimmering on her lower lids and causing Booth's face to swim before her. She tried not to blink, knowing that it would set them free to drip down her face. But she couldn't help it, and with one quick flutter of her lashes, it was done. Booth's form came back into focus, and she was able to see the effect that her show of emotion was having on him. He looked infinitely sad as his gaze tracked the twin lines of moisture across her cheeks.
He settled her coat once again over the back of her chair before reaching tentatively for her. His thumb found a wet bead and gently wiped it away before his hand traveled to her jaw. With painstakingly sweet care, he cupped her chin in his hand and tilted her face toward him.
"I'm used to doing everything alone. Sometimes, I forget that I'm not alone anymore."
They stared at one another for what seemed like an infinite amount of time, communicating in the way that they had grown accustomed. Through touch, body language, and heated gazes. She was not an expert in individual human behavior by any means. But she was getting better at this man. And while there was always a chance she was mistaken, it seemed to her like an unspoken promise was being made.
She only hoped that he could see that she was saying the same thing.
Booth's eyes started flicking to her mouth, and she felt the instant hard hammering of her heart. Her ribs strained from the effort to keep oxygen in her lungs as her breathing quickened and her tongue darted out to wet her lips. The quick staccato of the muscle beating in her chest seemed to be drumming in time to the words in her head that were saying "this is it" over and over.
Fight or flight. Fight or flight. Fight or flight.
Adrenaline was forcing her to make a decision, and as Booth's face inched closer to hers, the warm caress of his breath forced her into action. She broke the spell and quickly reached for her jacket. Swinging it over her shoulders, she shrugged into the garment.
Their time would come, she could feel it. And she was pretty certain the he could feel it too. But no matter what her mind rationally told her, her insecurities caused her to falter now when the chance presented itself. Logically, she knew that Booth was somehow…different from other men. Yet still she feared that cold hard barb that brought the slapping sting of rejection. She had thought herself to be more than ready to make "someday" a reality today - with this man. It seemed as though maybe she still needed a little more time.
And maybe he did too.
And so she smiled the smile she reserved only for him. He didn't think she knew what it did to him, but she wasn't that naïve. It stole his breath in the same way that his answering grin was doing to her now.
"We'd better get going, then."
His only response was to nod as she scooped up her purse and headed toward the door. She called back over her shoulder as she turned off the lights and he settled a hand on her back.
"I'm not sitting with you guys though. You should do that alone."
For a woman that was often socially awkward, she seemed strangely perceptive to him. Maybe she was just like that with him.
…He hoped so.
MUCH love to all you guys! I am very blessed by each of you. Gah, I'm in a sappy mood tonight! *sniff*