Set sometime between season 3 and 4

Temperance Brennan stepped off of the elevator into the busy hallway of the Hoover Building, sidestepping the agents who moved around her. She walked purposefully to an office at the end of the hallway, pushing open the mostly-closed door without bothering to knock. A man looked up from his desk, startled. He wore a dark suit which, though obviously not of the highest quality, still hugged his well-muscled form well. His short, dark hair had obviously started the day combed neatly, but it had been pushed out to odd angles, likely as he ran his large, calloused hands through it in frustration. His features were symmetrical, his eyes dark, his lips full. He had slight wrinkles at the corners of his eyes, and a dark shadow of stubble covered his chin. "Geez, Bones, way to scare a guy half to death."

"You know, there has never been a documented case of anyone who was actually scared to death," Brennan remarked.

"Any reason you came?" the man questioned, shifting some papers on his desk.

"We got an ID," Brennan said, placing a file folder on his desk. He picked it up, looking at her curiously.

"Already? You only got the body an hour ago."

"There was a knee replacement, Booth. We traced the serial number."

"Okay. I guess we should. . . go talk to the family then." He stood up, tightening his tie and pulling his jacket more evenly onto his shoulders. As he straightened his clothing, his eyes never met Brennan's, and she watched him curiously.

"You're distracted," she observed after a couple seconds. He stopped fidgeting with his clothes for a moment and looked at her.

"What makes you say that?" he questioned after a few seconds of silence.

"Your speech is choppy, and you won't look at me."

"You know Bones, that sure sounds like psychology to me. I thought psychology was a soft science," Booth remarked somewhat irritably.

"It is a soft science. But I'm not using psychology. I'm just saying that your current behavior shows all the classic signs of distraction."

Booth sighed and looked at his partner. She stood at 5'8", tall for a woman but still a few inches shorter than him. She was beautiful (though he would never admit this to her) with smooth facial features, sleek brown hair, and piercing blue eyes. But looks could be deceiving; she had a slim, powerful frame, and he had seen her take down guys who were twice her size without batting an eye. "Okay, Bones, I'm distracted."

"Why?"

"It doesn't really matter."

"Aren't you the one who told me that partners were supposed to share things with each other?" she questioned.

He sighed. Sometimes, he wished he had never said that; she always seemed to use the statement against him. "Fine, Bones, here." He picked up an envelope from his desk and tossed it at her. She caught it against her chest, glancing at the return address on the front. The name was unfamiliar to her. She looked up at Booth, intending to ask him about the female sender, but he had already started from the office. Closing her mouth again, she hurried after him, opening the envelope. A thick paper fell out; flipping it over, Brennan saw that it was an invitation to a high school reunion. Of course, this realization simply made her more confused.

"Booth, why are you worried about your high school reunion? Didn't you like high school?" She quickened her pace a bit to keep up with him as they weaved their way through the crowd to the elevator. He pressed the button to go down before turning to her.

"I did enjoy it, Bones. Read the rest of the invitation."

She opened the thick invitation and found the usual information: date, time, location, in a flowery script. Below the information, however, was a handwritten note that simply read "Looking forward to seeing you again and meeting your wife. Tasha." Brennan looked to Booth wearing a puzzled expression. "You don't have a wife, Booth," she pointed out.

"Thanks, Bones, I know." The elevator arrived at the floor with a ding, and both stepped on.

"Then why does this woman think you do?"

"I may have told her that I did."

"Why?"

Booth sighed, running a hand through his hair. He had known he would have to give her the whole story as soon as he gave her the letter, and in many ways, he wanted to. He did not like keeping secrets from Brennan. Still, he was not looking forward to her reaction. "We dated in high school. I broke it off about midway through my senior year. She claimed that it was because I was afraid of commitment, that I would never settle down. Anyway, I ran into her a few months ago, and she made some comment to the effect of how I turned out just like she expected—still a bachelor. Well, I wasn't really thinking; I was just mad at her for being presumptuous, so I may have. . . stretched the truth a little bit."

"Stretched the truth? As in. . . ?"

"I told her that I was married," he said quickly.

"Why?"

"Because I wasn't really thinking at the time. I just wanted to show her that she was wrong about me, to prove once and for all that I could settle down."

"So you lied about being married?"

"Yes, Bones, I lied." The elevator opened into the garage, and he stepped out, his hand automatically coming to rest on her lower back. "I didn't really think anything would come of it. Unfortunately, I didn't account for the fact that she would be on the planning committee for the reunion."

"So just tell her you lied."

"No, I'll never live that one down."

"Then don't go to the reunion."

"No, she expects me to. If I don't go, she'll know something's up."

"You could have just been busy."

"I've been to all my previous reunions. She knows I enjoy them." He opened the door of the SUV for her before climbing in himself. "Maybe I could just tell her my wife couldn't make it," he mused as he started the car. Suddenly, an idea popped into his head. "Bones?"

"Hmm?" She looked up from the invitation.

"I have a favor to ask."

"Okay. Shoot. That is the proper phrase, correct?"

Booth chuckled slightly. "Yeah, Bones, you got that one right." He took a deep breath, ready for her immediate rejection of what he was about to ask. "So, Bones, I was thinking that I need to have a wife for the reunion next month and since we're partners and all, I thought you might be willing to help me out with that."

"I'm not marrying you, Booth. You know I think marriage is-"

"No, Bones, I don't want you to marry me," Booth corrected quickly. "I was just thinking you could come to the reunion with me and pretend to be my wife. We don't have to actually be married."

"I don't know, Booth. I have a lot of work to finish at the Jeffersonian, and I don't like the idea of pretending to be married when I don't believe in marriage."

"Please, Bones." He turned to her with what he hoped was his best charm smile. She paused a moment before speaking, and he thought he had her.

Unfortunately, he was mistaken. "I don't think I can, Booth. Ask Cam."

"I don't want Cam to do it. I want you, Bones." Booth sighed. It seemed that he was going to have to use his ultimate trump card, the one he had been saving for just such an occasion, knowing that he could use it to convince Bones to do virtually anything for him. "I'll get you a gun," he offered.

For a moment, he thought she was going to reject him outright, but instead she simply said, "A real gun? One that actually shoots straight and not some silly thing that women carry around in their purse?"

"Yes, Bones, a real gun," he promised, wondering what he was getting himself into.

"Okay. We have a deal."

And so one month later, Booth stood on Brennan's doorstep just after 7:00 on a Thursday morning. Brennan had complained bitterly about having to leave on Thursday, for this leaving day meant that she would have to miss four days of work (for some reason that Booth could not fathom, she counted a missed weekend as a missed day of work). Her complaints had died off somewhat, however, after Booth had presented her with a new Sig Sauer (and promises to take her to the shooting range along with a warning against using it unless her life or the lives of others were in danger. He only hoped she would listen).

He knocked softly on the door. Though they had exchanged keys to their apartments a few months before, he preferred not to use his except in an emergency. A few seconds after he knocked, the door swung open, revealing Brennan standing before him with a bag slung over her shoulder. "Ready to go, Bones?" he inquired.

"I still don't know how I let you talk me into this," she commented, shrugging off his outstretched hand, choosing instead to move her bag further up onto her shoulder and carry it herself. With a sigh, he followed her.

They spent the car ride trading stories about their high school days. Brennan was telling a story about how Russ had filled the toilets at the high school with dry ice one day so that they all were smoking for a few minutes when she suddenly grew quiet. Booth turned to her, concerned. "What's wrong?" he questioned.

"That was two weeks before my parents disappeared," she explained quietly. Reaching over, Booth took her hand in his, gently stroking the back of her hand with the pad of his thumb.

"That's the past, Bones. It's all the past," he assured her.

They were staying at a hotel near Booth's high school; though Booth's parents still lived in the area, he was adamant about never seeing them again. Brennan never pressed the issue; she knew that Booth had had a tough childhood though he never gave her exact details, and she did not feel like dragging up bad memories. The smiling desk worker checked them into the hotel, telling them, "Have a nice stay, Mr. and Mrs. Booth," as they left. Booth nodded, hurrying Brennan from the lobby before she could complain about the tradition of the wife taking her husband's name.

Their room was large and appeared comfortable with a king-sized bed, a sofa, and two plush chairs. The furniture was decorated with the ridiculous floral patterns that hotels insisted on using though the colors were muted enough that they did not appear too horrible. "Nice room," Booth commented, dropping the suitcases just inside the doorway. "The sofa's supposed to be a pull-out, so I'll take that, and you can have the bed," he told her. She nodded absent-mindedly, taking her suitcase to the small chest of drawers beneath the television so that she could unpack. He flopped down on the sofa, grabbing the remote from the nearby table and flipping the television on. In a couple minutes, he was engrossed in a cartoon.

"Are you just going to sit there and watch cartoons?" Brennan questioned after a few minutes, straightening as she turned to face him. "Because if that's the case, I could have at least had a half day of work today."

"We have a tour of the high school at one," Booth explained. "So I figured we could grab some lunch before that, but we still have about half an hour to kill before we need to head out."

"And you want to watch some animated characters prance around?"

"It's cartoons. They're funny." And with that, Booth turned back to the screen.