A/N: My first foray into this particular fandom, so I welcome feedback and criticism. Warning for a very vague spoiler that circled the Ausiello drain a few months ago, but nothing for upcoming eps. I caution you mostly in the hope that readers will get the joke and not just be horribly confused by my terrible sense of humour.

He knows if this had happened at the beginning of their partnership he would have been out on his ass faster than she could say coccydynia (squint speak for very sore ass).

Had he undergone some form of radical brain surgery, returned to work only to have bought the same lies, the hasty sob story that crim of the week was spinning? Ignored evidence that seemed oh-so obvious to the Good Doctor?

Yep, definitely out on his ass.

She'd have given him a Doctor Temperance Brennan steely glare, cut in with her irrefutable logic and her scientific explanation, then later, frog marched him to Hacker (or Cullen or Kirby – delete as appropriate)'s office and demanded a new, more competent partner.

For she was Doctor Temperance Brennan and she would only work with the best.

Which he wasn't. Anymore.

But, then again, he knows if this had happened at the beginning of their partnership that maybe (just maybe) she'd have pointed that something might have been wrong in the brain department much sooner. Not because she understands him any less now – rather that she would have been less willing to entertain his notions of imaginary visits from famous hockey players and backup in the form of the ghosts of fallen comrades.

Maybe it wouldn't have taken a cartoon baby in the interrogation room to break that camel's back.

Had Doctor Temperance Brennan at the beginning of their partnership gotten wind of any of these things, she might have pointed out that hallucination is a symptom of many neurological disorders and perhaps he should seek medical attention. Said of course in a hyper-rational manner with an unerringly cutting tone.

She would not have said he was made of "good stuff" and kept on skating (and, might he add, holding his hand).

He knows if she'd bandied around those terms at the beginning of their partnership he might have been a little bit insulted, and maybe even a little self conscious, because he's Special Agent Seeley Booth, and until one Doctor Temperance Brennan came along and tried knocking him down to size, he was a very special Special Agent. Without a neurological disorder.

He might have gone about his business for a while, and when that cartoon baby (or, for network-approved variety, that Lightman Group head honcho) appeared after a particularly taxing case (or maybe she shot someone else in the leg) he might've gotten a little bit worried.

After all, this is the woman that can tell how a man died just from staring at his bones for a whole three seconds – and oh look, she just cracked another one, so maybe she could've been right about his... disorder.

Thus, at the beginning of their partnership he might've had it seen to that little bit earlier and maybe then he would have returned to work on his A game and realised the whiney, gassy, chicken security man had rather intentionally smooshed the soon-to-be King Clucksten into a chicken plucking machine.

On the other hand, if all of this had gone down at the beginning of their partnership maybe he wouldn't have fought so hard to return to active field duty.

If this had been the beginning of their partnership, somehow five years behind schedule at the hand of Lady Fate, maybe he would have acknowledged that he was closer to forty than thirty and perhaps it was time to start thinking about taking one of those promotions they kept insisting on offering him.

The ones that would see him sitting behind a desk all day, looking down over the minions. Like Hacker, only less of a shit.

Without Bones to play Cops and Robbers (or Cops and Evil, Cold Blooded Murderers) with all day, without Bones to kill for and to die for, without Bones smiling and laughing and trusting him – with the revered and notably feisty Doctor Temperance Brennan as his partner to return to?

Maybe he would have taken up their offer of Assistant Director (et. al) after all.

Except, if this had happened at the beginning of their partnership, there probably wouldn't have been such offers to accept. Because he's only so great because she's so great, and they're so great.

And at the very, very beginning of their partnership, there is no they.

So lucky for him, it didn't.

And she's sitting here, telling him that no matter what, he's still twice as fast as anyone else, even when he's running half speed. (That means she thinks he's four times faster than the average human being on a normal day, he did the math.) (He's pretty sure four times as fast has to be some kind of super human level of greatness. He's ok with that.)

And anyway, he's spent enough time with squints to know that these circumstances arising would be a statistical improbability, hypothesis rejected at the 5% level and that kind of thing.

Their beginning, the part of their partnership where he was Special Agent Seeley Booth and she was Doctor Temperance Brennan, lasted for all of a handful of cases. The window for him being ousted on his hiney closed most likely upon his presentation with a Jeffersonian ID Card and a tentative smile over Wong Foo's. Most definitely after he saw to one Jamie Kenton being pumped full of an unfortunately fatal amount of lead and lifted her off that hook, ripping at least sixteen stiches in the process.

He'll get back there.

He's still a very special Special Agent – just maybe in ways he'd never have imagined in the beginning. Like the way he's making her smile (more and more now) or the way he can make Doctor Temperance Brennan (Bones) care so much about the opinion of someone with the apparent lack of a Ph.D, in this moment so intently needing to know what he thinks.

And they're still they and they're still the best.

He likes to think, when she's gazing into his eyes and they're laughing like lunatics, that this might be (in their own, long winded way) the beginning of some kind of partnership after all.