As Dr. Brennan stormed home, fury seemed to bounce between herself and surrounding surfaces like a ball on a ping-pong table. Normally, her anger would be controllable, but she really wanted to punch something. Or shoot something. Preferably Booth.
She couldn't believe it. At first, she thought he'd manipulated her. Then, when he said she was supposed to know- because the Bureau was supposed to tell her - it was just as bad. In fact, it was worse. The only thing she valued above trust was truth, and neither one of those principles had been adhered to. Brennan slammed the door behind her - a rare indulgence in her destructive anger - and plopped back onto the couch, covering her face with her hands and screaming. How could he?
Brennan choked on her last muffled scream. Her throat felt like it'd been shaved; over the last two weeks, none of her nights had been anywhere near peaceful. She'd often wake up sobbing. And screaming into her hands didn't help soothe the throat at all.
Tiredly, she got up to pour herself a glass of water, and drank slowly. As she put the glass down, she leaned on the countertop, sighing as the tears dripped away. It suddenly occurred to her that she wasn't half as angry that he hadn't trusted her as she ought to be. What's really bothering me? she wondered. Then it hit her.
Booth's deception and lack of trust had both hurt her, but neither hurt half so much as thinking she'd never see him again. Brennan remembered the days in the hospital, the weeks trying to sleep without seeing his dying face (and the crazed face of Pam Nunan). She remembered the journal.
Then she remembered the fleeting words of their argument in the lab.
"Thank you! Did you hear that? Passion," Booth had said.
"Yes, passion! Because anger is a passion! - Anger at being manipulated!"
At that point, Booth had turned, waving his hand dismissively, saying, "Oh, forget it."
The introduction of the small, brown package into the discussion had distracted her, but she wouldn't be distracted now. Brennan's brow furrowed and she snagged her keys - and, as an afterthought, her journal. That conversation was far from over.
Brennan thrust open the sliding door, striding into Booth's bathroom purposefully. "I need to talk to you," she said, As she turned to stop the record-player from blaring testosterone-motivated music, Booth jerked and sputtered. "Bones, what the hell?! I'm in my house, in my bathroom, in my bathtub!" The music stopped with a "zzrk." "How'd you get in here, anyway?" he demanded.
"Well, that fake rock by your front door wouldn't fool anybody." She glanced at the hat, briefly sidetracked by the fact Booth owned a hat that dispensed beer. Shaking off the tangent, she glared at him. "You should have told me you weren't dead."
"I already - "
She cut him off. "And that cigar? Very unhealthy." Seeing Booth smoking some fat, carciogen-stuffed deathstick did not sit well with Brennan. "I've already lost you once in the past two weeks, Booth, are you trying to die again on me?"
"Okay, look, I'm having one cigar along with my bath and my music in an obviously vain attempt to relax," Booth said. "And for the last time, I told you, they were supposed to tell you that I wasn't really dead! I was just following protocol!"
"Protocol?" Brennan snapped. "You should have told me! You've broken protocol before, sometimes putting my life in danger! Which makes sense, because you clearly don't have any real concern for me!"
Booth stood, water dripping off his body. "I took a bullet for you!"
Brennan stared, taken aback. Guilt flashed over her. Yes, yes he had taken a bullet for her. Anger seized her again as she had hospital-waiting-room flashbacks. "You shouldn't have!" she yelled.
"What did you expect me to do, Bones? Let you get shot instead?" Booth asked. His tone had leveled. He wasn't yelling anymore, but anger filled his voice every bit as it did hers.
Brennan sighed. "Do you want a towel?" she asked calmly. The hint at his nudity had the desired effect: Booth flushed slightly, and sat back down. Brennan's rampant emotions felt triumphant as the invisible scale tipped back into balance; he no longer had the upper hand in the conversation. Booth sighed, removing his beer-dispensing hat and rubbing his hands through his hair. "What is it I should have done, Bones? What the hell did you want me to do?"
"You should have told me! Did you really think I needed to be vetted by your boss? Don't you trust me?"
"Of course I do!" Booth said. "Jesus, Bones! What pisses you off more, that I didn't tell you, or that I wasn't really dead? Because from where I stand, you aren't all that happy that I'm actually alive." he finished curtly.
Brennan closed her eyes and stiffened against his words. "That's a cruel accusation, Booth," she murmured. Her chest fluttered with each upset breath.
"Look, I'm sorry, but -"
"No! Listen. You just listen," she said, gritting her teeth. Against her will, tears formed and dropped from the corners of her eyes. (The last two weeks of readily crying had completely undone her ability to hold back tears at will, which, in some far corner of her mind, really annoyed her.) "You want to know what pisses me off, Booth? You want to know?" He nodded quietly, shocked. Brennan fished her journal from the inside of her jacket pocket. "This is what pisses me off!" she said, swallowing her sob. She opened the journal and ripped out the pages containing the "Booth entries."
"I'm pissed off because you don't even care what your death did to me, Booth. All of a sudden you're alive and all you care about is that, heaven outlaw I should be angry about it all!" Brennan took a shuddering breath. "I'm pissed off because of this, Booth," she snarled, waving the papers and throwing them atop the silent record-player.
She heard the splashing of water, but she was already gone. She didn't want him to see her tears, and frankly, she had nothing more to say. (And, less importantly, the dramatic exit gave her a sense of satisfaction that was very selfishly pleasing.)
Booth called her cell phone three times, and her house phone once. When she got home, the red button was flashing. Sighing and wiping at the last stray tear, she pushed the button with vehement annoyance.
One. New. Message. *beep*
"Listen, Bones, I've got to talk to you," Booth's recorded voice said.
"At least you sound properly chastised and regretful," Bones muttered, shrugging off her jacket.
"I shouldn't have said that. I'm sorry. Please pick up." The voice paused. Then she heard him sigh. "All right, then. This isn't over, though."
Brennan stared at her answering machine, recalling thinking that very thought herself not forty minutes earlier.
Her phone rang. Brennan hesitated. She didn't really want to pick up to Booth's voice. She wasn't sure what she'd be getting into if she did. Her anger, though still quite valid in her mind, was subsiding, becoming less passionate. She was calming down, and as a result, she realized that she really didn't want to deal with the consequences of her actions.
"Damn anger-causing hormones," Brennan muttered.
As it turned out, it was only Sweets, who left a message on her answering machine compelling her to see him in the morning, to discuss Gormogon with Agent Booth.
Brennan sighed and flopped onto her bed, fully-clothed, with no will to summon energy to get into comfortable pajamas. It was going to be a long case.
Brennan rubbed her eyes. Awkward, awkward, awkward. She could barely make eye contact with Booth.
Sweets, of course, picked up on it right away. "What's going on with you two?" he asked, pointing between them.
"Nothing," Brennan muttered.
She felt Booth's gaze on her. "We're fine," he said. "Now what about Gormogazo?"
"Gormogon," Brennan muttered.
Booth huffed at her as Sweets said, "I need to talk to you about that, but I don't think that would be very constructive with you two in this state of mind. I think we need to discuss what's going on between you before we can move on to the case."
"I think we do, too," Booth agreed abruptly.
"Booth!" Brennan said.
Sweets was smiling with satisfaction when Booth said, "We do, Bones. Sweets, I need the room."
"Whoa, what?" Sweets said, stunned. "Hey, I'm a professional -"
Booth leveled a stare at the "twelve-year-old," and said steadily, "Go. I need to talk to Bones alone."
Brennan rubbed her nose. Sweets, still slightly shocked, nodded. "Okay, then. Call me when you're done." He left, leaving Brennan alone with Booth in the Gormogon vault. She sighed and settled onto a box, covering her eyes with the heels of her hands.
She heard metal scraping against the steel-gray concrete floor and looked up to see Booth pulling his chair up to her, so they were up close, face-to-face. "Bones," he said softly, putting his hand over hers. Here it comes, whatever it is, Brennan thought. "I'm sorry I didn't tell you," he said. His hand squeezed over hers, then released. She hesitated, and then twisted and opened her hand to him. He thread his fingers through hers and smiled sadly. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I never wanted to hurt you, Bones."
Brennan nodded. "I know," she said, taking a deep breath. "And I know you were just doing your job, but..." Her voice trailed. "You were dead," she finished, a tear dropping from her eye. Booth leaned forward and hugged her to him. I know. I m sorry. I know. He held her for several minutes before she sighed, wrapping her arms around his waist.
"I meant it," she said.
"Meant what, Bones?"
"What I wrote on those pages from my journal. Every word."
She felt him smile into her shoulder. "That means a lot to me."
"Booth, do you remember that conversation we had the one after that case with the pony sex game vacation house?" Brennan couldn t believe she was about to say it What am I thinking?
Booth laughed. A part of Brennan felt like she should still be upset, but she couldn t get past how good it was to feel him laugh. "About making love versus crappy sex? Yeah."
"No, the part of your argument that came before that. About about how we re solitary, single organisms, all looking for a connection to someone else? And sometimes between two people, there's this spark?" Brennan closed her eyes, trying to brace herself for what she was about to share. This is too fast, she thought. I shouldn t be doing this now. Confessing this now will only overload the mixed emotions that we re currently trying to settle!
Booth's hold on her tightened fractionally. "Yeah, Bones?"
"I think you make that spark for me, Booth," Brennan whispered. Seconds ticked away and Brennan, with dread, began to think she d said the wrong thing. That maybe she shouldn t have spoken at all. That maybe she should have let it go, and went on through life, through the cases and the bones, content to know that Booth was her partner and didn't have to be more.
ooth pulled back, and before she knew it, cradled her face in his hands. He blinked, and was smiling. "I think you make that spark for me, too, Bones." Brennan's hands shook, and she tightened her hold around him to hide it. "I think we need a repeat of that mistletoe kiss," he said.
Brennan smiled wryly. "There's no mistletoe," she said.
Booth released her face and slumped back. "Well!" He gave her a joking grin, and she had to laugh slightly. "I think we'll manage without it," he said, leaning back in.
Her laughter dissipated with the touch of his lips on hers. It wasn t a mind-blowing, dramatic or particularly passionate kiss, but it was soft and sweet. Mending. It had all tenderness and no awkwardness, unlike the mistletoe kiss. Booth withdrew the kiss with one last caress, and put his forehead against hers. With a wicked grin, he asked, "Are we, y'know, an item now?"
His grin was contagious she grinned back. "I'd like that," she said. But, unwittingly, doubt flashed across her mind. "But... It's just..." She huffed. Booth waited patiently. "I just..."
He caught her chin gently with his fingers. "Hey," he said. "It's not going to be easy. We can't expect it to be. It never is. Feelings...they need work, commitment, effort. But you know what else I know?"
Booth smiled. "We're going to be okay."
Brennan returned his smile warily. "How do you know?" she asked. "So many things could go wrong. Not just in our relationship, either. We catch killers and murderers all the time; more than one of them is bound to try to kill us off, as usual."
"We can't help the bad guys coming after us," Booth answered. "It's like you said, ages ago: Hundreds of criminals would like us to stop what we do, but we can't let it stop us from doing it anyway. You wouldn't stop working with a set of bones if it got a little dirty, would you?" Brennan shook her head.
"As for us," he said, pointing between them, "I know we're going to be okay."
"More of your gut feeling?" Brennan said after a pause, smiling.
"Yes," Booth said, staring straight into her eyes. He leaned in. "There are things that grow and change with time."
"It's a basic necessity for matter to be classified as living: it grows and develops," Brennan agreed.
"Some things are temporary, like..."
"Like the metamorphosis stage in an insect's life," Brennan said.
"Exactly. But -" Booth said, smiling slowly and cattishly, "there are some things that are permanent. Unchangeable. Written in bone."
Brennan chuckled. "I thought the phrase was, 'written in stone,'?"
"Actually, it's 'set in stone,' but in this situation, I think 'written in bone' is the best phrase of the three," Booth said, tilting his head cockily.
"Why's that?" Brennan asked, rolling her eyes and shaking her head.
"Isn't it safe to say you value bone above most other natural, earthy things?"
"Yes," Brennan agreed slowly.
"Then it's the right measure for what I was trying to say," Booth said. "Bones don't fade away any more than stone does - or, at least, as slowly as stone does."
"Okay then," Brennan said, "what's written in bone?"
Booth took her hands and squeezed them. "The spark," he said. "How we feel about each other is what won't fade, Bones. I'm with you, all the way, no matter what. Don't doubt it for a minute. That's what's written in bone."