The Heart in the Song

The pianist was tapping out the tunes to Brennan's childhood favorite. Booth led her by the shoulders to the stage. I can't believe I'm going to do this. As she stood awkwardly next to the mike, he plopped down into one of the front-row tables. She shot him a look that was half-glare, all-smile. You are so dead for this, Seeley Booth, she thought without malice.

Booth just gave her his "charm smile."

Oh, I am going to show you, mister... Brennan ripped off her jacket and smacked it onto the ground. In the back of her mind, she heard Angela's whoops and Dr. Saroyan's laughter; she saw from the corner of her eye Zack's and Hodgins' crazy grins. But her focus was all on her partner.

She forcefully grabbed the mike. "I come home, in the early light my Mother says 'when you gonna live your life right?' Well, Mama dear we're not the fortunate ones, and girls, they wanna have fu-un..."

Booth fished his lighter from his pocket and flicked it open, made a spark of fire, and waved it in the air. The meaning was lost on her, but she somehow felt it was a sign of encouragement. It wouldn't make sense for it to mean anything else.

"Oooh-ohh girls just wanna have fu-un." Inspired and a little dizzy from the thrill, Brennan jumped around in circles, scared witless and excited nearly beyond measure at singing in front of an audience, in front of Booth.

"Phone rings, in the middle o' the night, my father yells, 'whatcha gonna do with your li-ife," Brennan sung, animatedly using her free hand to illustrate. To some primal satisfaction, Booth started shifting in time to the music, grinning. A part of her knew these results would happen, but experiencing the anthropological need in one of its most basic sense was amazing.

"Oh daddy dear you know you're still number one, but girls, they wanna have fu-un, ooh-ooh girls just wanna have fu-un!" Brennan hopped in place, and Booth's seated bouncing increased, and her excitement doubled. It wasn't any one small part, but all parts woven together: it was the music, it was singing, it was Booth reacting to the music and her singing, and it was Brennan reacting to Booth, all factors playing off each other like intricate pieces on a checkers board. It

And it struck her that his beaming smile was beautiful. Brennan didn't believe in perfection beyond its scientific definitions, but she decided that if she were to pick one thing that could possibly fit the unrealistic, fantastical notions of perfection, it was this moment. The stage, her singing, his smile. If she could frame that moment, she would.

Brennan replaced the mike, grinning madly in spite of her flushed, minor embarrassment at the applause. Booth was the most enthusiastic applauder - he stood, whooping and clapping, whistling and shouting, "Yeah, Bones!" She wiped her forehead, her body language almost shy, as she stepped from the stage.

She folded her arms across her chest and approached Booth. When she reached him, she poked him in the chest. "I told you," she said simply, smugly.

Booth laughed. "Yeah, yeah," he said, hugging her shoulder as they walked to rejoin their friends and colleagues. "Y'did good, Bones," he said quietly. She looked at him, met his gaze. Pride and happiness was evident in his expression. Brennan grinned back.

They reached the table, and Booth withdrew his one-armed hold, to put his hands back on her shoulders. "Preeesenting the next Kelly Clarkson!" he introduced jokingly, pushing her gently into the chair Sweets pulled up for her.

"Cindy Lauper," Brennan corrected. She turned to Sweets and pointed. "You're next," she said with fake seriousness, and added to one of the passing waitresses, "Can I get a beer, please? Thanks."

"That was amazing, Bren," Angela exclaimed.

"Your low keys were less than adequate but your high keys were brilliant," Zack reported.

"All right, all right, opera boy," Hodgins said.

"I'm up," Sweets said, grinning excitedly. The melody to "Lime in the Coconut" rang out, and he hurried on-stage.

They laughed, they groaned, they cried, and they laughed while they cried. Sweets, while having mediocre vocals at best, was fun and animated. And when he was done, everyone encouraged Zack to give it a go. He did, reluctantly, and while he didn't seem to enjoy it as much as Brennan or Sweets, he smiled with satisfaction when he stepped down to rejoin the group.

And they laughed, they groaned, they cried, and laughed while they cried again. By the time the rest of the bar started dissipating, their adrenaline-spiked moods had dulled to quiet, infrequent chuckles. None of them wanted their playful atmosphere to be ruined by shop talk, which would have certainly followed the sobering, and so they bid each other good night.

The knocking on the door was an insistent, sleep-murdering pest. "Go 'way," Brennan growled into her pillow. When it was clear that the knocking wouldn't cease, she hoisted herself out of bed and hobbled tiredly through her apartment to the door. She opened it a sliver.

"Morning, Cindy Lauper!"

Brennan groaned. "Booth, do you have any idea what time it is?" she asked, closing the door and undoing the chain lock.

"It's 7:53 a.m., bright and sunny," Booth reported cheerfully, stepping inside when she pulled the door wide-open. "You, however, look like you missed 'bright-eyed and bushy-tailed' exit a few hundred miles back." When she glared at him, he held up a paper bag and cup holder as a peace offering. "Coffee?"

Brennan sighed and rolled her eyes. "Gimme," she said grumpily, gesturing impatiently with her hand.

Booth plucked a cup from the holder and placed it in her hands. "Careful, it's hot," he said. He freed the other cup for himself.

Brennan led him to the kitchen table, and they sat. Alertness was starting to creep into her, without the aid of coffee, which she hadn't sipped yet; it was more the forced human contact that was shaking her awake. She watched him sip his coffee and burrow through the paper bag. "Doughnut?" he offered.

She smiled. "Sure," she murmured, letting him slide a doughnut-laden napkin toward her. "Last night was fun," she commented, picking apart the doughnut with her fingers. While she preferred using utensils, the pros of eating with her fingers outweighed the trouble it would be to get up for silverware.

"Yeah, he agreed, grinning, "Cindy Lauper."

Brennan groaned. "Right." A moment passed, and she studied him, eating his doughnut, drinking coffee, licking powdered sugar off his fingers. Another moment passed, and she realized she liked studying him.

A problem: Booth noticed. He stopped, self-consciously, and said, "What?"

"Nothing," she said, looking down at her doughnut.

Unsure of what to say, Booth shifted slightly, and commented, "You haven't touched your coffee."

Brennan grinned. "I was waiting for it to cool," she said. "The last time I failed to heed your warning concerning hot coffee, you used it as an excuse to claim I kissed your hand."

"Hey, you did kiss my hand!" he exclaimed indignantly.

A round of their good-hearted bickering ensued, and Brennan felt somehow, in some primitive way, for some currently unexamined anthropological reason, closer to her partner than ever before.