Title: The Italian Reverie 9/9
Spoilers/Timeline: set in early season 3, not long after Mummy in the Maze
Summary: At the end of a case in Italy, Booth and Brennan decide that for one evening, they should make the most of what the country has to offer. Chapter 9, epilogue: returning to reality.
Ieri, oggi e domani
The knock came unexpectedly, and less than welcome, just before 8 PM.
Booth? she wondered in a panic. If he was at her door, god only knew what could come of that.
She steeled herself before she set course from the bedroom to her entrance and held her breath while she opened the door, only to find Angela at her doorstep.
Brennan's sigh of relief earned her a puzzled look from Angela.
"I was on my way home from the lab, and I couldn't wait to hear all about your trip to Italy so I thought I'd stop by," Angela explained, bemused.
"If you don't mind hearing about it while I unpack, come on in." She relaxed further and added an encouraging smile.
They talked while they walked, on the way to the bedroom.
"Did you just get in?"
"Less than a half hour ago."
"You must be tired," Angela said sympathetically.
She rolled her eyes dramatically. "God, I'm so tired I'm surprised I don't fall asleep on my feet. But I really want to unpack my suitcase first, because otherwise everything will be in there the whole day while I'm at the lab and it will wrinkle even more."
Angela followed her into the bedroom.
Brennan started hanging a suit jacket on a coat hanger and mentioned, "Oh, I brought you something from Italy. It's at the bottom of the suitcase, wrapped in glossy blue wrapping paper, go ahead and dig it out."
"You didn't have to do that," Angela said. But she was clearly pleased and touched by the thoughtful gesture, not to mention her childlike excitement at getting to unwrap a present.
Brennan smiled from the closet. "I also got something great for Hodgins. I hope he'll like it. I pulled some strings in Italy and the Jeffersonian gets a really rare bug fossilized in amber on loan for a month so Hodgins can study it to his heart's content."
"Really? That is so sweet of you!"
While Brennan shrugged off the compliment – seeing nothing 'sweet' about making arrangements involving a scientific specimen – Angela suddenly spied the dress folded on top of the stack in the suitcase. Her mouth hung slightly agape when Brennan lifted it out to hang it up as well.
"You brought that dress on a business trip?"
"No. I bought it in Italy." She grinned and held it in front of her, holding out the gorgeous fabric to show it off. "You like it?"
She leaned in to Brennan conspiratorially. "Did you wear it in Italy?"
Yes. I also came within an inch of letting Booth take it off of me in Italy.
Damn the direct question, because now lying was out. "I did, actually." She tried to make it sound nonchalant, unsure if she was pulling it off.
"Really?" Angela asked with interest, not expecting that answer. She grinned impishly. "So you hooked up with a hot Italian guy, or what?"
She really wasn't quite ready to share the events to which that dress had been the catalyst until she had explored, organized and analyzed her own thoughts on the subject. Perhaps she could deflect Angela's attention away from it as a pre-emptive tactical maneuver against further direct inquiry.
She rolled her eyes. "Did I mention we were on a case, and I was working on it, day and night?"
"Yet you still found time to wear it at some point," Angela argued.
So much for the deflective strategy.
She tensed, not wanting to get volunteer too much information. Angela was like a dog with a bone, and every piece of information she released, prompted new questions instead of satisfying Angela's curiosity.
"Not until last night." An honest if still evasive answer.
Angela's impatience grew. "Well, that didn't clear up anything. Don't leave me hanging here. I want details," she pressed.
"Nothing spectacular, just dinner with Booth." She said it with all the nonchalance of explaining that she'd done some grocery shopping.
Angela gaped at her, processing what this meant. "You and Booth went on a date? In Italy? Sweetie, that is spectacularly romantic!"
Angela's loud voice made her a little uneasy. Clearly – clearly – she was attributing too much meaning to this event.
The Look of Denial crossed her face. "Sharing a meal with a colleague does not make a date, Angela."
Did that still apply when you didn't share the bill, either?
"You got dressed up, didn't you?" Angela motioned to the dress.
She was a little alarmed by Angela's trying to use logic on her; that was so unlike her. The uneasy feeling grew.
"I didn't want to wear work clothes on my night off," she replied reasonably.
"Did he pick you up?"
"Only because our rooms were next door to each other and he was ready first," she countered, making an effort to maintain a cool appearance.
The questions were volleyed in rapid-fire succession and Brennan was starting to fear that her evening with Booth was going to prove difficult to explain away to Angela.
"Was it a practical place to grab a quick bite to eat or a really nice restaurant?"
Brennan's Eyebrow was met with Angela's Look of Vindication.
"What?" Brennan exclaimed defensively, "I can't help it if I have good taste."
"Were there mostly business people there, or mostly couples?"
"I don't know. I wasn't paying that much attention," she replied somewhat evasively, her eyes shifting away.
When she had restored enough confidence to face Angela again, she saw a lascivious grin plastered on her face. "I bet you weren't…"
Damn, walked right into that one…
"Did you order a bottle of wine?" Angela's third-degree continued.
She rolled her eyes. "Of course we did! It was Italy. Good food and good wine belong together for a complete culinary experience." She straightened her back and put her hands on her hips, and challenged, "I have no intention of apologizing for it."
"I never said you should." Another grin.
Dammit. Nil-two for the home team.
"Thought I might as well." It sounded a little petulant.
"What was it?" A foreboding question.
Angela huffed triumphantly. "Which we all know is universal date code talk for 'take me now'!"
Which could very well have something to do with the fact that it literally means 'pick me up'…
"It is not!" Brennan exclaimed, appalled at the suggestion.
Angela looked down her nose at her. "You may have – or feign – ignorance on a lot of social concepts, Sweetie, but this is not one of them. You're just going to have to accept the fact that you and Booth went on a date," Angela insisted.
Brennan balled her hands and let out a frustrated groan. "No! You haven't been listening!"
"I'm only doing this because you're ever the scientist – I just delivered proof undeniable. It. Was. A. Date," Angela rendered verdict triumphantly.
"If he kissed you goodnight, could be love," she teased, smiling.
Brennan ducked her head in a reflex and realized far too late that a denial would be pointless by now because her first reaction had been so telling.
Yes, in a moment of shared weakness, he had kissed her and she kissed back, and she thought she might never forget the extraordinary feel and taste of it.
Thankfully, there was no high-pitched squealing, flailing, squeeing, screaming, applause or any other kind of ridiculous and immature response from the artist, which she half-heartedly expected.
Instead, she rose up from the bed and gave her a beaming smile and a quick hug.
"What was that for?"
"I'm so proud of you."
After Angela had released her, Brennan scrunched her nose at Angela in confusion. "You're proud of me for kissing a man?"
"Yes, that too. I mean no. I mean, well, yes, actually. This man in particular."
Angela breathed a dramatic sigh and held her hand to her heart with her eyes turned heavenward. "Oh! One of these days…"
"No. No, Ange. We're-"
"Just partners," she singsonged. "Yes, we know that little ditty by now. It doesn't become true just because you repeat it often enough, you know. You and Booth really are hot, sweaty sex waiting to happen."
And love, Angela added mentally, but she was pushing it already; if she were to add that, she'd be out on her ear before she could finish the sentence.
"But the sweaty sex didn't happen?" she asked for confirmation.
Brennan shook her head and sheepishly relayed that, even after a bone-melting kiss, she had decided to let it end there, and had sent him to his own room.
Then she deflated like a balloon and dropped down on the bed.
Brennan was clearly conflicted, so it was time for a reprieve, Angela decided; a light-hearted joke to help her relax. She grinned wickedly as she sat down next to her, nudging her in the side. "Who knew you could be such a tease, Temperance Brennan?"
Brennan's half-smile collapsed after half a second. She grew serious and nervously fingered the baggage label on her suitcase.
She weighed her next words carefully before she decided to share the confession, then turned to Angela again and let her see the naked honesty and fearfulness in her eyes.
"If I had let him in, everything would have changed. And I don't think I'm ready for everything to change."
Angela listened to the confession without showing surprise, as if she'd long known it, and had merely been waiting for her to reach the same conclusion.
"Yet?" Angela arched one eyebrow.
A spontaneous admission tumbled out of her mouth before she could stop it; must be the fatigue. "I don't know. Obviously there's something there. But until I can figure out what it is and what to do with it…"
Angela cocked her head. "Do we need to go over the 'don't think too much' speech again?"
The one that ended with 'you have other organs that give you much more pleasure'; she remembered that.
But there was a time for feeling and a time for thinking.
"Well, we'll always have Italy," she sighed ruefully.
(But everything happens eventually of course ;-p)
Note: thanks to SSJL for letting me use a variation on an exchange between Angela and Brennan from her iconic multi-chap "Talk To Me". Almost all the chapter titles in this story are the titles of classic Italian movies.
Note 2: to those who had been hoping that she'd change her mind and there would be consummation action going on in the final chapter after all, I'm sorry - this story just wouldn't go any other way; there will be smut some other time (I'm still chewing on the idea of a sequel to this, but there are so many stories begging to be written that I can't make any promises). Thank you for reading a story that has been a joy for me to write in all its old-fashioned romantic glory.