For those of you who know about the Shirtless Booth Challenge, this fic inspired it. Well, partially at least. You've no idea how proud of myself I am.


Shirtless Booth

It was one of those warm summer nights when you just can't fall asleep. Sure, I could have turned on the air conditioning, but then the noise would probably keep me awake all night anyway. There was a mosquito in my room, I think, and the constant buzzing in my ears wasn't helping either. Most of all, the horribly annoying heat was absolutely everywhere, and I uselessly tossed around in my bed.

I guess I was almost relieved when my cell phone rang.

"Hello?" I grunted in the receiver.

"Angela?"

"Hey Sweetie. Is something wrong?" Brennan doesn't usually call me in the middle of the night. Actually, I'm not sure she's ever done it before.

"Can you come pick me up?" Huh. She sounded drunk. Which is weird.

"Yeah, yeah, sure. Umm, where are you right now, exactly?"

"The bar." Ha, so I was right. Brennan had finally learned how to get drunk like normal people.

"Which bar are yo…" She hung up before I finished my question. Then again, there's only one bar Brennan ever goes to, so it's not like I had to hunt her down.

I got dressed, grabbed my keys, and drove straight to the Founding Fathers. And there she was, sitting by the counter all alone, looking miserably drunk indeed.

"Sweetie, this kind of behavior is really unlike you. It's more the sort of thing I would do after a bad break up."

"I'm sorry I called you so late, Ange. I'm fairly certain I can't drive in this condition. I don't know what took over me…"

"Oh, it's alright, we all feel like crap, sometimes. Even you. Now, what made you attempt to drown yourself in alcohol? Is it a guy? Because I'll beat him up for you if you want."

"No," she said defensively. I wasn't completely sure whether she meant that her reasons did not include a guy, or if she meant she didn't want me to beat up the man in question.

"Come on, let's just get you home, we'll talk more tomorrow when you're sober and hung-over." I tried to pull her up but she completely ignored my presence.

"You know what?" she asked all of a sudden in a stubborn and slightly slurred tone, "I've made my mind. I want to talk to Booth. Right now. Drive me to Booth's place."

I got to say, I was pretty surprised. She jumped off of her stool a little unsteadily and walked towards the exit in a drunken but determinate way.

"Why do you want to see Booth so badly? It's the middle of the night, he's probably asleep." I tried to hold her steady but she shook off my hand.

"I don't care. I gotta tell him something. I gotta tell him now." She tried to open my car's door. I unlocked it. She sank into the seat and grumbled something I couldn't hear.

"I… alright sweetie. We'll go to Booth's place. You're happy?"

"Hurry up."

I figured that crashing at Booth's home wouldn't be my worst option. His place is actually closer than Brennan's anyway, and he's so in love with her he probably wouldn't even care about getting woken up in the middle of the night. Moreover, fighting against a drunken Brennan seemed pretty pointless since she acted even more stubborn than usual.

I was surprised to see she'd somehow managed to stay awake for long enough to get out of the car without help. I still felt a little guilty when I knocked on Booth's door, though. After all, it was very late, and Brennan was very drunk, and I felt like I was dumping her on him. It's not like I'd ever gone to Booth's home before either, I wasn't sure how he'd take my sudden appearance on his doorstep, especially if I was accompanied by his inebriated partner.

"Angela, I have to see Booth," Bren mumbled.

"I know, I know, we're here." She was leaning on me, and apparently she wasn't able to stand straight all by herself anymore.

I knocked again, harder this time. I rang the bell twice. Was Booth even home?

Finally, the door opened, and…

Wow.

Jeez.

Special Agent Seeley Booth stood in front of us in his beautiful shirtless glory. He wore nothing but a pair of grey pajama pants with blue stripes. His cute sleepiness and adorably messy hair, adding to his sexy, perfect, oh-my-god-I-want-to-touch-it chest, formed a mixture of mind-boggling hotness. He was barefooted. His skin looked smooth and tantalizing, and he had the best shoulders I've ever seen on any guy in my life.

Why do I have to stay sex-free for six months when there are men who look like THAT living on this earth? And why hasn't Brennan jumped him yet?

"Err, Angela?" he asked. I realized that I'd been staring at his unclothed mid-section for a totally inappropriate amount of time.

"Huh? What? Hi Booth." He looked a little uncomfortable, probably realizing that I was ogling him like a popsicle. A beautiful, smoking hot popsicle.

"What are you guys doing here? What time is it?" The poor man looked half-asleep, but I didn't feel the least bit guilty anymore about waking him up. I mean, look at those arms. I tried to focus on his face instead of his bod, his gorgeous, handsome face… Gosh, get a grip.

"Right, I'm sorry Booth, but Brennan got drunk, and she asked me to pick her up, and then she told me to bring her here, so I…"

Brennan, who apparently had been as thunderstruck by Booth's hotness as I was, chose this exact moment to snap out of it and lunge into Booth's arms. His strong, perfect arms. Ok, I really need to stop this.

"Booth, I missed you," she told him against his neck.

"Woah, Bones, what are you doing?"

"I gotta tell you something, Booth. I have to tell you…"

"Tell me what?" He looked at me for help, a little bit panicked. I shrugged at him. To be honest, I felt jealous of her.

"I have to tell you… I don't remember. Wait, I have to think."

"Bones, maybe you should lay down for a bit?"

"You smell good, Booth."

"Wh- Did you come here to tell me I smell good?"

"No, but you still smell good."

"All right." He easily picked her up in his arms, and he carried her inside like a bride. I felt extraordinarily jealous.

He gently placed her on his bed but she refused to let him go.

"No, wait, I think I forgot what I wanted to tell you. I can't remember. Don't leave yet, Booth, wait a minute."

"I'm not leaving." He sighed and took her shoes off. We both waited until she fell asleep until we tiptoed out of the bedroom.

"Man, I've never seen her get this wasted before." He rubbed the back of his neck with his palm.

"Me neither." God, I was staring again. Don't stare at him, don't stare…

"So, it's late. Do you want to sleep in the guest bedroom over there? I mean, you must be tired and all."

"Then where will you sleep?"

"Oh, I'll be fine on the couch," he shrugged. And I thought gentlemen were all extinct. If Brennan doesn't jump him sometime soon, I will. I mean, Brennan's had her chance, right? The idea that this man has been single for so long is a freaking waste. Seriously, Sweets can go to hell.

Wait, Booth can't sleep on the couch, didn't he hurt his back last time?

"What about your bad back? You might get hurt again. You know, what, I'll sleep on the couch, and you can…"

"No, no, my back is fixed now. Don't worry about it." He smiled at me and I felt myself melt under his gaze. His eyes were brown like a golden retriever's, and as utterly irresistible. Why did I never notice how warm his eyes are before? Was this what Brennan felt like every day? How does she stay sane?

"Ok," I heard my mouth say. I couldn't remember what I was agreeing to.

"Do you need pajamas? My clothes are probably too big, but if you need anything you can just dig around in that dresser."

"Thanks, Booth."

"Welcome."

He closed the door, and only then did I realize how tired I was. I guess the sight of a good-looking (and half naked) man cured my insomnia.

***

In the morning, I emerged from the bedroom wearing one of Booth's oversized Led Zeppelin shirts, and was hit in the face by the sweet smell of pancakes. Mmmh, pancakes. Booth was standing in the kitchen whistling Yellow Submarine and putting a big pile of pancakes in a couple of plates using his spatula. He was wearing a white polo shirt over an old pair of jeans and his cheerful orange socks almost made me laugh.

"Hey Ange. Sleep well?" He smiled at me, momentarily dazzling me yet again. I don't think I'll ever see Booth the same way after yesterday night's beautiful display of... I stopped myself from ogling him again. This man is taken. Taken. But really, if I wasn't fasting on sex right now, and if he wasn't head over heels in love with my best friend, there's no telling what I would have done to him.

"Hi Booth." There. I stopped lusting after him for long enough to say hi. I mentally patted myself on the back. "This looks good." I nodded at the breakfast.

"It certainly does. Well, I'm gonna wake up Bones now, she's got a book signing in a few hours and she'll be pissed if I let her sleep. The bathroom is over there if you need a shower, toothbrushes are on the right, towels are bottom left. Here, you can take this and start eating if you want."

He handed me a dish and strolled towards the bedroom where Brennan still snored. While checking out his cute ass, I managed to notice how his walking seemed a little stiff, and I immediately felt bad for leaving him on the couch all night. My God, I'm horrible aren't I? I knew I should've slept on the couch. Now his back hurts because of me.

I sat down and guiltily poured some maple syrup over the plate of pancakes Booth had given me so nicely. Brennan emerged a few minutes later, still dressed in last night's outfit. She looked like a mess, to be honest.

"I need coffee," she whispered hoarsely.

Booth chuckled while pouring her a cup. "Careful, it's hot. Do you want pancakes?"

She didn't reply. She sank down in a chair and glared at the table.

"How are you feeling, Bren?" She glared at me instead of the table.

"Awful." She sighed softly, closed her eyes, opened them. "How did we end up at Booth's place, Ange?"

"Oh, you made me drive here, sweetie, don't you remember? You told me you wanted to see him. To tell him something."

Her head snapped up, and I swear I saw shock in her face.

"Yeah," Booth chimed in, "you kept saying you wanted to tell me something but you couldn't remember what." He grinned. "Instead you informed me of the fact that I smell good." I realized he'd already finished his whole plate. The man eats fast.

Brennan stood up abruptly, startling the both of us. "Thanks for the coffee," she choked out before dashing for the exit.

"Hey, wait, I'm not done eating yet," I protested weakly.

"I'll just… I'll walk. It will clear my head." She looked around for her shoes but they were still in the bedroom.

"I can give you a ride, Bones." Booth stood up too, ready to grab his keys.

"NO. No. I'll walk. Really, I want to walk. Where are my shoes?"

"Then I'll walk with you. You're shoes are still in the bedroom, I think."

And before I knew it, they were gone. I was sitting all alone in my Led Zeppelin T-shirt. I finished my pancakes while pondering about how good that white polo looked on Booth.

I really need to have a girl talk with Brennan.

***

Brennan was sitting in her office, typing away on her computer. I tried to guess what she was thinking about, but all I saw was the usual dazed expression she has when she's working on a book.

"Sweetie?" I asked carefully.

"Hi, Angela."

"How was the book signing?"

"Crowded." Se didn't even look up from her screen.

"You're working on a new book so soon?"

"Yes. How can you tell?"

I shrugged. I couldn't care less about the book signing. Unless Booth had gone with her of course. In which case I cared very deeply about the book signing.

"Did Booth go with you? You guys left pretty quickly. He still wasn't back by the time I left his place myself."

She finally looked up only after I mentioned his name. "Oh, no, he didn't come with me. He had to coach Parker's ball team."

Then I definitely didn't care about the book signing.

"And… how was the walk?"

"Which walk?"

"You know, you ran away yesterday morning screaming about how you wanted to walk."

"Oh. We didn't walk, Booth gave me a ride on the way." Mmmh. Interesting.

"And what exactly did you talk about on the way?"

"Nothing. He mostly made fun of me for getting drunk. And he asked about the book."

"I thought you absolutely wanted to walk, though. You sure changed your mind quickly"

"The car is faster."

"What, you wanted to get rid of him as fast as possible, is that it?" I sat on her couch. I was preparing myself for a long, trying-to-make-Brennan-realize-she's-madly-in-love-with-Booth talk.

"That's not what I said. I wasn't getting rid of him." She grumbled.

"You're lying, Brennan."

"I am not! There is no reason why I would want to keep my distance from Booth!" She stood up and agitatedly messed around with the files on her desk. "Although I might have been inebriated, and… and made a complete fool of myself in front of him, it absolutely does not mean I purposely tried to avoid him, all right? I was drunk, my thoughts were clouded by the copious amount of alcohol I consumed, and Booth knows quite well that I wasn't myself that night, meaning I have absolutely nothing to be embarrassed about. I simply didn't want to trouble him or waste either of our time unnecessarily, which is why we drove in his car." She looked quite satisfied with her explanation.

Wow, even I'm surprised by how deep in denial she can be sometimes. I decided to change tactics.

"Ok, I see. So let's get to the point. Booth looked hot in that white polo, don't you think?" I asked innocently.

Brennan turned her back to me and started messing around with things on her shelf this time. I'm gonna suppose this means she noticed.

"I mean, of course he looks smokin' when he's wearing pajama bottoms, but that white polo was just… phew. I'm assuming you still remember what a half-naked Booth looks like, of course. Obviously you were pretty drunk, but a sight like that is hard to forget. You also mentioned he smelled good, if I recall."

Though her back was turned to me, I visibly saw her cringe twice. Once when I talked about the white polo and once when I quoted her on Booth smelling good.

"I didn't forget, Angela," she replied as calmly as she could manage.

"Oh, good. So you agree?"

"We've established years ago that Booth is an attractive male. I'm not sure I follow your train of thought."

"I… Well, I think you're saying you agree with me. I'll tell him to wear his shirt more often, in that case."

She was still messing with things on her shelf. Her books, this time.

"So did you jump him?" I casually questioned.

She turned around and rolled her eyes disdainfully. "Angela, you know my relationship with Booth is entirely…"

"Yeah, yeah, I know, you're just partners, no need to tell me again. But you gotta admit Booth is hot at the very least. "

"You aren't letting it go, are you?" She sighed in frustration.

"Nope." I grinned at her. She looked very annoyed.

"I never denied that Booth is… a pleasant looking man. Nor have I ever denied that Booth looks good without a shirt on, though I confess last night is still a bit hazy in my mind. I am uncertain as to why you are still pursuing this pointless line of questioning, however."

"Hmm. Have you seen him shirtless before yesterday?"

"Wh… That is a completely irrelevant question."

"You HAVE?"

Jesus Christ. She actually has?

"Angela, I have work to do. If the only reason you're here is to continuously ask inappropriate and innuendo filled queries about my relationship with Booth, you should probably go find something more productive to occupy yourself with."

"Oh, you are not getting out of this so easily, Bren. So you've seen him naked before?"

She looked at the ground. "…It, it was by accident! I didn't mean to…"

"My God. When? How do I not know about this? And how come you still haven't slept with him?"

"I swear it was an accident, Ange. Well, admittedly the incident after the hockey game might not be considered purely accidental…"

"How many times have you seen him without a shirt?"

"I don't… maybe four?"

I was speechless for a moment. "So why on earth didn't you ravage him on the spot?"

"I told you, Booth and I are just partners. It's all we'll ever be," she told me with finality.

Just partners. Why do they keep saying that? That sentence alone was enough to exasperate me. All of a sudden I was tired of teasing her.

"Brennan, what were you going to tell him that night?" I asked, now completely serious.

"Nothing," she replied firmly. She crossed her arms and threw me her best inflexible forensic anthropologist stare.

"You made me pick you up at the bar. You made me knock on his door in the middle of the night. You made him carry you to his bed in his big sexy arms and you made him sleep on the couch until morning. So I sure hope it wasn't nothing, sweetie."

She gaped at me, a shocked expression on her face. Could I finally be getting through to her?

"He slept on the couch?" she asked me angrily.

Oh crap.

"You let Booth sleep on the couch? You KNOW his back has been killing him, and yet you act without thinking about his well-being for one single second? Is that why he was limping, then? Because of you? How could you be so careless, Ange?" Uh-oh, when she gets all overprotective about Booth, it usually ends violently, and I truly didn't want to be the victim of her rage. I scrambled for an explanation.

"Ok, ok, listen, you were already passed out in his bed, and he forced me to take the other bed, and I was going to refuse, and he stared at me with those soft, warm, adorable, chocolate brown puppy dog eyes, and he looks utterly amazing when he's half-naked, and I don't have a lot of self-control left, so I just… yeah."

She looked at me for a moment, as though trying to read my mind.

"Oh. I see." She said at last, seeming reasonably calmer. "Next time if you are in this kind of situation, try to spare his back a little, will you? I don't want him to get hurt again."

"Well it only started hurting again after he was kidnapped by the gravedigger, didn't it? I guess as long as he doesn't get blown up anytime soon he should be fine. Sleeping on the couch shouldn't be too bad compared to a kidnapping." Please blame the Gravedigger, not me. It's all the Gravedigger's fault.

Brennan said nothing.

"I swear he made me do it, his eyes made me do it, it's not my fault." She was making me feel even guiltier about the whole couch thing.

She sighed. "I know Ange, I know, he does this thing with his eyes all the time, it really isn't your fault. Still, I'm almost certain it's more of a… an old war injury than something stupid he did to himself when he went down a slide with Parker, so if you could try to gather up your last shreds of willpower and tell him no if such an occasion occurs again, I'd appreciate it." She sat back in her chair and started typing again.

Talk about overprotective. What annoyed me even more was how she kept acting like Booth's girlfriend while denying there is anything more between the two of them other than than work. I was tired of watching them dance around, trying not to rush either of them and hoping they would see the light without an excessive amount of nudging from my part. Seeing Brennan and Booth still being "just partners" after so many years seemed a complete waste of time when Bren could be doing so many better things with her partner. Like dipping him in chocolate, for example.

"You're in love with him, Brennan," I told her.

She resolutely ignored me.

"You nearly bit my head off over a couch. You're acting all protective as though you're already his girlfriend, you think he's totally hot, and we both know he's a great guy in every way. You love him, you might as well admit it. What were you going to tell him that night?"

"I don't remember," she grunted through her clenched teeth.

"Sure you do. What were you going to tell him?"

"I was drunk. I wasn't going to tell him anything."

"Psh. Why were you so determined to see him in the middle of the night, then? I could have driven you home, you know. Hell, why were you even drunk in the first place?"

"I don't remember!" She stood up angrily.

"Stop lying to me, Brennan!" I stood up angrily too.

"Just because your relationship with Hodgins has failed miserably does not mean you have a right to pry into my personal life like this! If you feel sexually frustrated you can go masturbate, don't try to push me into sleeping with Booth!"

That was low. Reeeeally low. She was becoming desperate. AND she'd tried to use psychology against me.

"Why shouldn't I try to push you into sleeping with Booth, sweetie? Why? You want to. And he wants to. And you deserve each other. I'm doing this for your own good, not for my own perverse pleasure, so tell me what you were going to say last night so I can solve this and help the both of you."

"It's none of your business, Ange."

"First of all, I'm your best friend, and second of all, you're lying to me, and I don't like it." I walked to her desk and took her shoulders. "You still remember, Brennan. Or at the very least, you still remember why you got yourself drunk. Is it really so hard to admit you're in love with this gorgeous, gorgeous man?"

"I'm not in love."

You wanna be stubborn? I can be stubborn too, Doctor Brennan.

"I won't leave 'til you tell me." I decidedly plopped down on the couch.

"Angela, you should go back to work."

"I will work when you tell me."

"Ange, go away!"

"No. I'm tired of your denial. I'm not moving."

We sat in silence. I hummed Jingle Bells. She stared at the screen without typing anything, as though her computer had done something exceedingly distasteful. I drummed absent-mindedly on the armrest. After several minutes she sighed, and seemed to wordlessly give up.

"What if he doesn't love me back?" she whispered quietly. She looked at me, and for the first time I could clearly see how scared she was.

Finally. Finally she admitted it. I walked up to her and hugged her tight.

"He almost died for you, of course he loves you back," I assured.

"He made me think he was dead for two weeks." She must have been mulling over those two weeks for an eternity.

"Sweets did that to you, not Booth. You can't be angry at Booth."

"If he loved me, he would've shown it a long time ago. Instead he is just… he's there for me when I need him, like you are. That's all."

"I love you very dearly, but I don't think I'd be ready to take a bullet to save your life. I'm not as tall and handsome and muscular either."

"You know what I mean, Ange."

Ok, time for me to be honest. "Maybe he's as afraid as you? Maybe he knows how scared you are of being in love, and he's waiting for you to be ready, to tell him when you're ready. Maybe he doesn't think he's good enough for you. Maybe he thinks he doesn't deserve you because of all the people he's killed. Maybe he's scared of losing you if he asks. Or maybe he thinks you don't love him back? I don't know, maybe it's all of these. But he does loves you, sweetie, I just know he does. Hell, if I wasn't sure, I would've assaulted him two seconds after he opened his door and I'd still be having sex with him right now."

She said nothing.

"What were you going to tell him last night, sweetie?" I asked gently, one last time.

But her cell phone rang, the shrill sound cutting our little moment short.

"Hello?" she answered, turning away from me. "Good, I'm coming. No, I'm fine, my voice is fine. Yes, I'll meet you there. No, no, I'm not crying, don't worry. I'll see you in twenty minutes. I'm not crying, Booth."

She brusquely shut her phone and took her bag. She left without a word, trying her best to avoid my eyes.

"Don't tell him, Angela," she told me before leaving, without turning around to look at me.

I guess that conversation did no good at all.

I sat down tiredly. Well, I did what I could, didn't I? But I knew Brennan wouldn't tell Booth, sober or not. I couldn't understand her fear of emotional connections, nor could I understand just how important he had become in her life, or why she was scared at the mere thought of Booth loving her back, but even if I was merely an outsider and a match-maker, all I wanted was their happiness. They have such potential for happiness, and even if a hook up eventually ends in disaster, the hot monkey sex alone would make a painful break up worthwhile. I mean it. Call me shallow or sex-obsessed. But I knew they would go on keeping their love a secret, both waiting for the other to make a tentative move, show a little hidden sign, until one day… One day. God I hope so.

Moreover, if Booth stays single because of her, it would be an appalling waste of natural resources. I mean, think of that man's chest, Brennan.

I smacked myself in my head for what felt like the hundredth time. It's going to be hard to stop fantasizing about Booth from now on, especially if Brennan lets his hotness go to waste for much longer. Knowing her, she will.


I forgot to say, I am not writing a sequel. Nope. Neither chocolate, nor pitchforks, not Sully striptease threats will work on me. I like sad and unsatisfying endings :D