Author's Note: Okay, here it is. Proof that I'm still alive and writing. I'll admit I've had a rough time of it lately. There was some writer's block on Forty Weeks that started just before Thanksgiving and then a more far-reaching writer's block that had an effect on this story as well immediately following the holiday. Then, it was the end of the semester and I had to finish a portfolio for my writing class. You know, kids, stay in college when you're young and that's the only thing you have to focus on. Because once you get out into the world and there's work and all sorts of other adult responsibilities to worry about, school gets a lot harder!
Much love to Kerrison who was both patient and very quick with the beta on this chapter.
Also, lots of thanks to all the reviewers. I've been just awful about responding. And for everyone who's been asking about Forty Weeks, rest assured I'm working on Week 17 right now.
"I'm so positive you can't just sit and enjoy a movie that I'm willing to put a side bet on it."
"You shouldn't be betting," Bones pointed out.
They were standing in the concessions line at the movie theater. He'd bought tickets to a crime thriller. There was absolutely no way she'd be able to make it through the movie without becoming overly analytical. "Okay, so no side bet, but I'm still sure you're not going to be able to do this. Say goodbye to your forty-eight hours, Bones."
"I believe you're hedging your end of the dare by putting me in a situation you know will cause me to be analytical. Movies are fictionalizations of real life events. Not to mention this particular movie will no doubt misrepresent the work we both do."
"It's a movie. Let it go. Relax. Enjoy. Eat some popcorn." He ushered her up to the counter. The pimply faced boy behind the register locked his eyes on her cleavage and Booth eventually snapped his fingers right in front of his face to get his attention. "Yo, kid? A little service, please?" Booth smirked as the kid flushed and took the order from Brennan. … but really, could Booth blame him? She was a well put together woman. He'd look at her cleavage, too. Had, in fact.
Once their hands were full of snacks they made their way to the theater. He followed her up the steps and she made to move into a row about halfway up. "Oh, no. It's the movies, Bones. Back row."
"But Booth, if we sit here we're at both the perfect height and distance for optimum viewing. As we both have average eye sight—"
"Overanalyzing." He grinned at her in the low lights. "Back row."
She huffed. "Fine." But she did continue to climb the stairs.
He found himself lingering three steps behind her and enjoying the view as her hips shifted her up the stairs. This was really getting ridiculous. It was one thing to find Brennan attractive. He always had. It was another thing to lust after her from time to time. He did. But this constant awareness of her, the constant feeling of being drawn to her? Well, that was fairly new.
As she climbed she tossed a look or two over her shoulder. She kept giving him curious glances. What was that all about? He thought back over the exchange. He'd stopped her from losing again. Was she suspicious about that? He should want her to lose, right? Yes, he should want her to lose so he wouldn't have to endure forty eight hours outside his own comfort zone.
She started to choose seats in the center of the row but turned to him before she sat. "Or would you prefer seats in the corner?"
She thought his choice of seats was stupid, he knew, but just because she didn't 'get' the whole moving going experience didn't mean she didn't know a cliché or two she could tease him about.
Well, two could play at that game as far as he was concerned. He directed her towards seats in the corner with a smirk. "You gonna make out with me if we sit in the corner?"
She sat down in the seat nearest the wall and held the popcorn while he juggled three boxes of candy and a soda. "I should be asking you that question," she muttered quietly.
Booth was sure he wasn't supposed to have heard her; she'd spoken so low. But he had heard her. He sighed and slumped into his seat. "What do you mean?"
"I just…" she fiddled with the rolled edge of the popcorn tub. "Today in the park it seemed as if you were going to kiss me."
"And what if I had?" He grinned at her, "You're not allowed to analyze it."
"But," she asked softly, "were you?"
He chose to neither confirm nor deny and instead redirected. "So is this the part where you tell me what you were about to say earlier today?"
She answered him quietly, "I wanted you to know I wasn't going to read anything into it. It was a fun day and we…Well, we're friends but we don't usually do that sort of thing together."
"What," he asked in a strangled tone, "kiss?"
"No!" She'd answered him more loudly than she intended, he was sure, because she looked around guiltily before continuing. "We don't normally spend the day with Parker. Or eat pancakes in your kitchen while you're in pajamas. We don't play tackle football. And it was confusing."
He'd expected her to be thinking about their day but he never thought she'd have ended up confused. She didn't really do confused. "Confusing? Why?"
She looked straight ahead at the movie screen instead of looking at him and answered, "Because the people who do the sorts of things we did today are usually the sorts of people who kiss each other."
"Yeah," he sighed. "It did feel like a family day, didn't it?" He unwrapped his drinking straw and shoved the plastic tube through the stamped X in his soda-cup lid. "I never meant to make you uncomfortable this weekend, Bones. I just wanted you to relax a little. Let your hair down. I wanted to show you there was more to life than science."
She turned back towards him. "I know there is, Booth. But I have science in my life for a reason. Sometimes it's easier to analyze than it is to feel. But I have to admit that today has been fun and it hasn't been as difficult not to overanalyze situations as I thought it would be."
The lights dropped in the theater and the previews began to roll. He'd long since considered her over-analytical nature was compensating for a bruised heart.
He leaned over until their shoulders were brushing and said into her ear, "We can stop if you want."
When she whipped her head around to him they were nose to nose. "Stop?"
"The dare. We don't have to finish the weekend if you don't want to. And I won't hold you to the additional forty eight hours." His stomach clenched at the thought of a missed opportunity.
"I don't think we need to stop. It has been fun. Although," she prodded gently. "I have noticed that you keep preventing me from losing…" He looked over and she was wearing a teasing grin.
He shrugged. "I think part of you needs this weekend. A chance to be reminded there's more to life than facts and figures."
"Reminded? You believe there was a time when I didn't rely on facts and figures?"
"I think you've always known there was more to life than that. But to you, facts and figures are safe. Everything else is scary. I know that you feel that way but I don't understand it."
She regarded him carefully. "You can't understand why a world in which we kiss in the park is scary?"
She was giving him a strange sort of look…a lingering sort of look that landed on his lips. His mouth went dry. "Okay. I can sort of understand it."
She nodded and turned back towards the screen, "I thought perhaps you might."
Twice during the movie she snorted indelicately when the character's dealings were less than professional and he chuckled in response. Once she leaned over and spoke directly into his ear. He couldn't focus on anything except his body and her proximity when she did things like that. He'd stopped her tirade on forensic procedures by putting slight pressure of the pads of his fingers just above her knee – she'd shivered and gasped when he touched her. Of course, after that, he spent the next fifteen minutes focused on controlling his libido and missed a crucial plot twist – while running though the Flyers 2010 lineup – that left him confused when the lights came back up.
"It wasn't a bad movie," she said when she stood waiting for him to collect several empty candy boxes and a condensation-dripping paper soda cup.
"Actually," he said waving her ahead of him down the aisle, "it was a good movie. You just would have had to suspend reality for a while to enjoy it."
She shook her head and looked back over her shoulder at him from her place two steps down. "I'm not very good at suspending reality."
"You don't say?"
They waded through the sea of people and let the tide wash them out of the theater, though the lobby and into the parking lot. "So, now what?" she asked when his hand dropped to the small of her back and guided her toward his SUV.
He checked his watch. It was past ten but he wasn't ready to call it a night yet. Then he remembered he wouldn't be calling it a night at all. She was going home with him. He pushed aside the pictures his brain provided at the thought of that phrase. "Well," he said, "we could head home." He actually shuddered with pleasure as he said the words and she looked over at him with worry. He smiled at her. "Or, we could go grab some dessert at the diner."
"Ugh," she moaned. "No more food. Please."
He chuckled. "Okay. Home it is."
When they got back to his apartment, she'd started painting a picture for him that until then had lived only in the deep recess of his mind. She walked in ahead of him when he'd unlocked the door and set her purse down on the table in the entry way. In the living room she'd kicked off her shoes right against the wall where a couple pairs of his shoes had landed. She'd said something about making tea, had asked him if he wanted a cup, and then set about comfortably in his kitchen.
He leaned in the doorway and watched her work. She knew where everything was. That wasn't surprising to him – not after five years. After the water was on to boil she unbuttoned the cuffs of her blouse and then started down the row of larger buttons that bisected her abdomen. When she was done she shrugged her shoulders and leaned back a bit until the fabric slid down her arms and into her hands. She was left standing there in dark blue tank top that was tucked into her jeans.
She turned from him and hung her blouse on the back of one of his kitchen chairs. He'd always known she'd had an attractive figure. He'd seen it in everything from evening gowns to coveralls. But there was something about her casual attire in his home that made her figure much, much more attractive. It made him go warm inside to see her so comfortable in his space.
He'd seen her self-conscious before. He'd seen her that way more times than he cared to remember, but in his home she was relaxed. It made him feel strong, in a way, knowing she felt she could trust him with that. She'd accused him before of being an alpha-male. But, if he was honest, her tone hadn't really been accusatory. If anything the idea intrigued her. She was a strong woman. She was sure and stalwart. But underneath the exterior she worked hard to affect he knew she was just a woman. And he wouldn't be at all surprised if he were to discover she preferred giving up a little of control when in a relationship. And he wondered if she'd ever been in a relationship with anyone she trusted enough to give up that control.
While he was lost in thought he'd drifted through his kitchen until he stood behind her. "Bones," he said softly and watched in fascination when she shuddered.
Her hands stilled on the bag of sugar she'd found in his cupboard and retrieved to refill his sugar bowl. "Yes, Booth?"
He reached up and ran the backs of his fingers across the crest of her shoulder, starting where the fabric of her shirt rested against her neck and stopping on her soft skin. "I was going to kiss you in the park today."
She cleared her throat but didn't turn to face him. "Why are you telling me that now?"
He shrugged even though he knew she wouldn't see it. "I don't know. Maybe I thought you should know for sure."
"I think I did know," she said with a whisper.
He nudged her shoulder until she turned around to face him. When she realized how close he was standing she took a step back until the edge of the countertop pressed into her back. He dropped his eyes to her lips. They were parted in anticipation and little puffs of breath stirred the long layers of hair that teased at her mouth and chin.
At her question he realized he hadn't said anything in response. He was having trouble responding, actually, and finally settled on, "That wasn't the first time," in a huskier tone than he'd intended.
Her eyes fell to his lips. "It wasn't the first time, what?"
He chucked. "It wasn't the first time I almost kissed you."
Her eyes snapped up to his and he could see a protective barrier slide into place. She laughed and turned back to the tea kettle that was hinting at whistling. "It's not like we haven't kissed before, Booth. It's not a big deal."
He shook his head. "No, it wasn't. But it was, too. And I can't help but think, if we kissed for real, it might be a big deal."
She stepped to the side and around him. "I don't think I want a cup of tea anymore. I'm just going to go to bed. I'll…" She chanced a look at him. "I'll see you in the morning."
He nodded and she fled. Why had he thought talking to her about the near-kiss would be a good idea? He stepped forward and banged his forehead against the cupboard she'd found the sugar in.
Thump, thump, thump, thump.
He found comfort in the rhythmic sound despite the dull ache that began to spread through his skull.
Later that night while he lay in bed he thought about that moment just before she'd opted for self preservation. He thought about the tingle on his lips just from her gaze. Then he remembered the feel of her mouth under his and her fingers curled into his lapels during a kiss that had happened almost a lifetime ago.
She was across the hall, sleeping in his son's bed. Though, if he knew her, and he did, she wasn't sleeping either. It was out there now. He wanted to kiss her and she knew it. But she'd run from it. Well, he had told her he was taking her out of her comfort zone. He looked at the clock. Just after midnight. In eighteen hours she was going to get the opportunity to shove him squarely outside his comfort zone. He might play dumb on occasion but when it came to her he was practically a Mensa candidate. He had a feeling he knew what she was planning. And God help him, but he was actually looking forward to it.
Sunday morning he wandered out into the living room with his dress shoes hooked over the fingers of his right hand and a perfectly respectable blue silk tie dangling from the fingers of his left hand only to find her on his couch. She was dressed in a very pretty cream colored dress and was bent to the side fixing the straps on a pair of high heels. Her hair was in a French-twist and God help him, she was wearing pearls.
He realized he'd been asking God for quite a bit of help in the last eight hours. But she was wearing pearls. He couldn't explain it – and he knew if it got out in the locker room he'd be teased mercilessly, even as an adult – but there was something about a woman in pearls that made him…want to do things he really shouldn't be thinking of while he was getting ready to go to church.
He cleared his throat from his place at the outlet of the hallway. "Going somewhere?"
She looked up at him and smiled. His stomach flopped over in his belly. She had the sort of toothpaste-smile that always left him wondering how it would feel to run his tongue along the straight, smooth edge of her teeth. "It's Sunday. I thought we were going to church. And," she tilted her head toward him, "it looks as if I was right. Unless you're planning to go to the gym in that suit." He cocked his head at her and she continued, her hands wringing nervously in her lap. "In the past you said I couldn't go to church with you, but you said this weekend was all about taking me outside my comfort zone, and what better way to do that, right?"
She'd finally stopped to take a breath and he couldn't help but chuckle at her while he crossed the room to sit next to her on the couch. He slipped on his own shoes as he said, "It's okay, Bones. You can go if you want to. I wasn't going to force you to though."
"Well," she said quietly, "a dare is a dare…"
"So, uh, any particular reason you're looking like a fifties wet dream this morning?" As soon as the words were out of his mouth he colored tomato red and felt like melting into the couch. It was his own long standing rule that had him not talking about sex with Bones. However, he was anything but a prude, as his past girlfriends could attest, and he'd just talked to her like a woman he was sleeping with.
But, either she didn't get it or she took it the wrong way and she lifted an uncharacteristically self-conscious hand toward her hair and asked, "I don't know exactly what that means, but I feel safe in assuming it has something to do with nocturnal emissions. Is there something wrong with the way I'm dressed? Is it inappropriate for church?"
He chuckled derisively. "No, Bones, there's nothing wrong with the way you're dressed. You look…great." He threaded his tie through his collar. "You're not going to try to get all 'anthropologically speaking' on me about church today are you?"
"I was under the impression that particular phrase would force me to lose our wager."
"It will. Just making sure. This is kind of big, you know? You going to church with me."
She nodded thoughtfully, "Yes. I know." She watched him start the knot of his tie. "My mother used to tie my father's tie every Sunday morning for church. He tied it every day of the week for himself but she'd tie it on Sunday mornings."
There was a wistful look on her face so he decided to take a chance that would cut him off at the knees if she refused him. "You want to tie my tie, Bones?" He gave her a little grin just in case she decided to let it fall as a joke between them.
She nodded. "Yes, I think I would." They both turned towards each other on the couch until her right knee brushed against his left and she raised her hands to the just-begun knot. She studied the start with a titled head for just a moment, "You were tying a half-Windsor?" Her minty breath wafted across his face and he nodded.
Her nimble fingers worked the fabric while her eyes cataloged her progress. While she was preoccupied he studied her face. "Why did you learn to knot ties?"
She gave a little half shrug. "When I was a girl I thought it was romantic. I asked my father to teach me and he did."
He wonders what she would have been like if she'd been allowed to finish growing up with romantic notions in her head. "And now?"
"And now," she said tightening the knot and letting her protective barrier slide back into place, "it's functional."
He sighed and reached up for her hands that were sliding down his tie. "There's nothing wrong with a little romance."
She shook of his hands and stood, as if suddenly uncomfortable with his proximity, then retreated to the kitchen. "Romance is a manufactured ideal designed to brainwash girls into wanting and needing things that are no longer constructs of our society."
He'd followed her into the kitchen. "You're analyzing."
"I'm honest," she snapped. She took a deep break, exhaled slowly, and pulled two coffee mugs from the cupboard. "Coffee?" She didn't wait for his response. She merely poured him a cup and handed it over.
"When did you stop believing in romance, Bones?" he asked quietly.
She sighed and turned to him. "Please, Booth, can we just go to church."
He studied her for a moment then nodded. He was desperate to know the answer to his question and he was certain the answer didn't have anything to do with her parents leaving. "Yeah, let's go."
He'd held the car door for her and she hadn't even tried to rebuke him. He turned the radio off because he knew she preferred it that way. He did everything he could think to do to get her to talk to him without actually starting a conversation. They were halfway to the church when she finally spoke again. "We were Presbyterian." He looked over at her. "We attended a beautiful old brick church with a pipe organ. At Christmas there were candlelight services with so many people you had to stand if you didn't get there early enough. And there was a woman who sang O Holy Night so incredibly beautifully that I'd cry. Russ would make fun of me, but I'd cry every year."
He wasn't quite sure what to say. "We won't be singing O Holy Night today."
She smiled. "I know. It's just the thing I remember most about church."
"We have candlelight midnight Mass on Christmas. Last year was the first year Parker stayed awake all the way through."
"I'm sure it's a beautiful service. I have…trouble…with organized religion and with the concept of God, but I do find most religious services to be quite beautiful."
Her small confessions were making it harder and harder for him to ignore the voice in his head that kept telling him he was in love with her. He was so completely gone over her it wasn't even funny.
During Mass she kneeled and bowed her head when the rest of the congregation did, and while he knew she wasn't the kind to pray he wondered if perhaps she'd suspended her disbelief for just that one day. And later on, when they sang Holy Holy Holy, she sang along without the aid of the hymnal. He'd looked over at her in shock and found she had tears in her eyes. He'd reached out for her hand and she took his, returning his squeeze without looking at him and without breaking the melody. She'd declined to follow him to the alter for communion, even just to be blessed, and had waited patiently while he gave his confession.
He'd politely declined an invitation to brunch with a friend and his family and just an hour and a half after they'd arrived he had her more comfortably seated at their table at
the Royal Diner. She'd worked her way through half her egg-white omelet when she'd said, "Thank you."
"For what, Bones?" he asked around a mouthful of hash browns.
"For letting me go with you today. I'm not sure why but it was…cathartic."
"Sometimes we need to repeat history to rid ourselves of it."
She looked up at him in shock. "You don't usually make sweeping profound statements." She smiled and took a sip of iced tea. "Besides, that's not what I meant. It was nice to be there. I'd forgotten what it felt like. I mean," she started when his eyebrows rose, "I'm not saying I was touch by the Holy Spirit today. But it was nice to remember."
"You're welcome anytime," he said quietly and she ducked her head in response.
When he'd challenged her to let go of her analytical nature for a weekend he'd never expected the weekend to turn out like he had. What began as a game had turned into True Confessions and he liked feeling close to her in a way he hadn't been able to before. The worst of it was, he hadn't even realized it was missing.
"So," he said, desperate to break the mood that had descended the moment she'd told him about her mother tying her father's tie, "just seven more hours and you've fulfilled you obligation under the dare. How do you feel so far?"
"Honestly, not quite like I thought I'd feel. This has been a very educational experience."
"And just what have you learned, Dr. Brennan?" he teased.
"That even when I think I've got you figured out, I'm wrong," she replied cryptically.
"We really don't have to do this today," he said as he held the door to the retirement home open for her.
"Don't you usually visit your grandfather on Sundays if you're not busy with work?"
"Well, yeah, but—"
"A weekend with you, doing the stuff you normally do. You called it 'normal living' if I recall. Wasn't that the deal?"
Yeah, that was the deal. But he wasn't so sure visiting Pops was the best way to spend the better portion of the rest of his forty-eight hours. Especially considering Pops seemed to have a very strong opinion on his relationship, or lack thereof, with Bones. "Okay, yes, that was the deal."
"And besides, your grandfather liked me."
"I'm aware." Booth logged his and Brennan's names at the reception desk and led Bones down a long hallway. When they reached his grandfather's door it was open and the old man was sitting in a recliner watching an infomercial. Booth knocked on the open door, "Hey, Pops, I've brought you some company."
Booth pushed Bones in the door with a smile. "Temperance!" his grandfather exclaimed. "Well, look at you, Doll, pretty as a pony."
Booth grinned when Brennan's cheeks flushed and she accepted a hug. "Hello, Hank."
How Pops could get away with telling her she was 'pretty as a pony' without any sort of retribution is something Booth was sure would remain a mystery. "All right, Pops, unhand the lady," Booth said when Hanks embrace lingered so long Brennan started to shift from foot to foot.
Hank grumbled but released Brennan from his embrace, "Hey, an old man's got to get his kicks somehow."
"Don't think you've got any problem getting your kicks, Pops." Booth pulled a chair up to the small table in the corner and held it for Bones then pulled another one up to the table for himself before grabbing the dominoes from their place in the cabinet underneath the television set. "You owe us a game of dominoes."
By the time they left his grandfather had hugged Bones three times, slung his arm around her a couple of times, had his hand on her knee twice and on her thigh, which earned him a reproachful glance from Booth, once. Hank had gotten away with calling her doll, sweetie, honey, gorgeous, and sweet-thing. Finally Booth just had to shake his head.
"I'd apologize for Pops, today, but somehow I don't think there's any apologizing for him," Booth said with a laugh as they merged onto the Interstate to head home.
"He's a very sweet man," she said with a shrug.
"You only let him get away with that shit because he's over seventy."
She grinned at him, "Maybe."
He couldn't help but grin right back at her.
They were sitting on his couch nursing beers that evening when he saw the clock on the VCR click over to six-oh-eight, "Well, Bones, you made it. Forty eight hours of not over analyzing everything and living like the rest of us do. What do you think?"
"It was…fun," she said after a long pause.
"Yeah?" he asked with a crooked grin.
"Yeah," she slung back before taking a long sip of her beer. "You'd probably better pack."
He groaned, "Come on, don't you think you'd rather have your forty-eight hours over a weekend, too?"
"Why? I don't need a weekend to take you out of your comfort zone." She shrugged. "Actually, I believe I'll get better results by letting my research time overlap with work."
"And here she goes."
"You're sounding like a scientist again."
"I am a scientist," she pointed out.
"Yeah, but all weekend I've got to spend time with Temperance Brennan instead of Dr. Temperance Brennan, Ph.D."
"That's redundant, Booth. I'm either 'Dr. Temperance Brenan' or 'Temperance Brennan, Ph.D' but I can't be both."
"You know what I'm saying."
"In this case, I really don't."
"You were all…soft…this weekend. It was nice, Bones."
"Do you really think I was that different the weekend?" she asked quietly.
"No," he said thoughtfully, "I don't think you were that different. I know she's in you, but I know you pretty damn well. But that woman you let everyone see this weekend? She's the woman who's going to connect with people. You know how to do it, and that's what you proved to me this weekend." He sighed, "I don't want you to take this the wrong way, but, I think you hide a little behind your super-scientist persona."
"I don't hide, Booth."
"It's okay, Bones. We all hide a little behind the faces we put on for the world to see. I just don't want you to think you have to hide from me."
She considered him carefully. "You don't have to hide from me either."
He shifted uncomfortably then stood. "I don't."
"Yes, you do. And I'm going to prove it."
He moved to the kitchen to throw his empty bottle away. "You're going to use your forty-eight hours to prove I hide from you? You're only going to prove my theory that you're wrong."
He was halfway down the hall to his bedroom to pack his bag when her voice floated to him. "I really don't think I am. So, Booth, when exactly was the last time you had sex?"
Shit. He was in for it all right.