Christmas Magic, right?
A/N: Seasons greetings, readers. Ha. So I'm developing a couple multi-chapter things to follow up B&T, but school's picking up momentum with the end of the semester, so I'll probably hold off before really delving into a lengthy story.
That said…I'm a sucker for Christmas. And Bones is awesome right now. And I'm having major writing withdrawal. So my current project is going to be this. A series of Christmas-centric one shots surrounding Booth and Brennan and sometimes the rest of the gang. The genre is going to vary…some fluff, some angst (not surprising, I'm sure, for those who have read me before)and lots of general Christmas magic. Most of it will probably end up being B/B, but I'll probably throw in some H/A and some general friendship or character centric oneshots as well. Timeline will also vary…some will be canon, based on the two Christmas eps we have, some will speculate the "lost Christmases" of seasons two and four, and some will be completely fabricated or future fics. The length will also vary.
Oh, and each installment will be semi-based on a different Christmas song. They aren't song fics; I just always listen to music when I'm write, and which one I listen to will probably influence the mood and, occasionally, plot of the chapter.
Enough of my rambling. Enjoy this first installment, set in Season four. One (of probably many) takes on the Christmas season we never saw. B/B
It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year
It's the most wonderful time of the year.
There'll be much mistletoeing
and hearts will be glowing,
when loved ones are near.
It's the most wonderful time of the year.
This year, it sneaks up on her.
The months have been slipping by faster than usual. It's just that there's always something going on. In October they put an all time high number of murderers behind bars, and Brennan goes trick-or-treating with Booth and Parker (she isn't sure who's more excited). In November they nearly top Octobers number, she finishes her latest manuscript, and she invites Booth to Thanksgiving dinner with her father and Russ' family.
Then, literally overnight, the lab became adorned with the usual seasonal decorations; lights and garland and little Santa Clauses and snowmen. Brennan wasn't sure who exactly put up the original decorations, but when she arrived at the lab Angela was practically skipping around the lab, wearing her elf hat (although, thankfully, not the entire ensemble), and adding her own flair to the decorations.
"Isn't it a little early for that?" Brennan commented as she breezed past Angela into her office.
"Christmas is in three weeks, Sweetie," Angela replied cheerfully as she followed Brennan, hanging a wreath on the door of her office. "Time to get into the spirit around here."
"Fine," Brennan murmured distractedly, pulling off her coat, straightening some papers on her desk, and not paying much attention to what Angela was doing.
Then, just as Brennan straightened up and started to head out onto the platform, she froze. "What's that?"
Angela threw a smirk over her shoulder; she had dragged a chair to the doorway and was standing on it, hanging something in the doorway. "Mistletoe."
It was automatic, the way the heat rushed to her face, and instantly she was back to last Christmas, Booth's lips and hers and spearmint gum and losing count of steamboats. She shook the memory away, and retorted brusquely, "Take it down."
Taken aback by the vehemence in her friends tone, Angela turned, her eyebrows raised. "What? It's festive."
"This is a…a professional environment, Angela," Brennan replied, trying to will away the blush she could feel on her cheeks.
Angela smirked again. "What? Worried about getting caught under it with a certain FBI agent?"
If possible, the heat on her cheeks intensified. "No," she answered far too quickly. "I'm very rarely loitering in my doorway, Ange. There isn't a high probability of getting 'caught' under it. I just find it…inappropriate."
Angela, though, seemed to have noticed she'd hit a nerve. Her expression shrewd, she stepped down off the chair and came closer. "You're awfully touchy on the subject, Bren. If you're so sure there's no chance of…using the mistletoe, why can't you just think of it as decorative?"
Their argument was cut short when Booth walked into the office. "Morning, Bones. Ange. The place looks great." The two women turned to look at him, Angela's expression almost devious and Brennan's definitely uncomfortable. "What's going on?"
"Nothing," Brennan answered immediately. "Ange was just leaving."
Rolling her eyes, Angela slid by Booth. "I'll see you two kids later." She paused in the doorway, eyeing them slyly. Then she seized Booth's arm and pulled him toward the doorway. "Why don't you stand here, G-man?"
Booth watched her leave, completely bewildered, then began looking in all directions, though thankfully not up. Giving up, he shrugged. "What's with her?"
"No idea," Brennan answered as nonchalantly as she could manage. "We have a case?"
"Yeah, body found in an garbage dumpster downtown." He sighed, "Merry Christmas, right?"
Nodding, Brennan grabbed her kit and her coat. When she got to the doorway, Booth, always the gentleman, moved slightly out of the way to let her through. Brennan felt herself stopping, looking at him, suddenly very, very aware of the ridiculous plant hanging above them.
Confused, Booth met her eyes. "Everything okay, Bones?"
Flushing (again), Brennan nodded, her eyes drifting to his lips before she could stop herself. After a moment, she snapped out of it, extracting herself from the doorway. "Let's go."
They never talked about it.
She didn't mind. It was how she preferred things, really. It was not denial, or avoidance, the way someone like Sweets might suggest; it was simple, rational compartmentalization. Like Booth had said, it was just mistletoe. A means to an end; something he hadn't even wanted to do in the first place. There was no reason they should talk about it.
But that didn't mean she never thought about it. She did, on occasion...or, more accurately, nearly every day.
It wasn't that Brennan wanted to think about it. It wasn't a conscious decision. Objectively, the kiss had been comparatively brief(even if it was a whole flotilla), and she had had much more erotic encounters with other men to fixate on.
But there were so many times that Booth would give her a look, his warm brown eyes softening as a he smiled at her, or would lean close enough for her to feel his warmth, smell his cologne…and, inevitably, her mind would drift back to the day in her office.
So, yeah. It didn't mean she never thought about it.
They solved the case three days later, arresting the murderer after a solid confession. Booth stayed in her office as they worked through the paperwork.
"Big plans for Christmas this year, Bones?" He grinned at her, teasingly. "Let me guess…Yemen? No, no…Ecuador? Peru?"
Brennan smiled. "No trip this year. I'm having Christmas with my father and Russ' family, at my dad's place." She hesitated, then offered, "You're welcome to join us. Parker, too, if he's with you."
"I get Parker for the first half of the day this year, but I could definitely be up for Christmas dinner. Thanks, Bones." He smiled warmly at her.
Brennan's heart swelled slightly, her eyes locking with his, and she wondered when their lives had become so entwined. Every holiday of at least the past year, every birthday…it had all involved Booth. And she wanted it that way.
He really was part of her family. Probably, if she was being honest, the most important part. Because unlike her father and Russ, Booth had never left her.
Brennan's eyes darted, unwillingly, to the mistletoe at her doorway. For just a moment, she let herself entertain foolish, illogical thoughts, imagining ways she could get in the doorway at the same time as Booth…
She pushed the thoughts out of her mind as Booth signed a form with a flourish, stacking his papers and standing up. "Finished?"
Slightly flustered, Brennan nodded. "You want to get dinner?"
"I've got to pick Parker up for the weekend…I promised him we'd pick out a tree tonight." Booth's eyes lit up, suddenly. "Come with us!"
"Oh, that's alright," she replied awkwardly. "I don't want to intrude."
Booth rolled his eyes as if the very idea was ludicrous. "You're never intruding, Bones, are ya kidding me? Parker loves you, and you always include me in your family stuff."
"You're certain you don't mind?"
"Bones." Booth's eyes softened affectionately . "Of course not. You're family, y'know? Christmas is for family."
Inordinately pleased, Brennan smiled at him. "Thank you."
He nodded his head at the door. "C'mon."
Still smiling, Brennan trailed after him, trying to resist another glance up at the mistletoe that was hanging in her door, mocking them.
Parker was thrilled to find out she was joining them on their expedition for a Christmas tree. He spent the ride extolling the virtues of the "gigantic" tree lot, and how they were going to find the biggest tree there.
It had been snowing on and off for the past week, and the lot (which was, admittedly, impressive in size) was covered in an impressive blanket of snow. They spent a good fifteen minutes by the car, getting Parker bundled in the appropriate winter layers, before letting him take off. Parker went running through the array of Christmas trees, calling, "Daddy! Bones, c'mon! We gotta go to the reeeaaally big ones!"
Booth grinned at Brennan, resting a hand automatically on the small of her back as they headed forward at a much more leisurely pace. Booth drew a long breath. "Breathe it in, Bones. Nothing I like more than the smell of Christmas trees."
"It is rather pleasing, I must admit. It evokes pleasant memories." Off Booth's look, she explained, "When I was a child, my dad went all in for Christmas."
"All out, Bones," Booth corrected affectionately.
"He insisted on picking out a tree the day after Thanksgiving. I used to lay on the carpet, almost under the tree, while he strung the lights." She shrugged, looking a little self conscious. "I liked the smell."
Booth gave her a surprised, delighted smile. He moved his hand up, until his arm was around her shoulders. "That sounds nice." What he was thinking, though, was that Max's previous enthusiasm with Christmas probably made it that much harder when they disappeared around that time. It helped explain the strength of Brennan's previous antipathy toward the holiday.
"Daddy, Bones! Come on." Parker called impatiently, before ducking behind a tree.
Laughingly, Booth grabbed Brennan's gloved hand as if it was the most natural thing in the world and tugged her gently after him, up the sloped hill toward the taller trees. "We better hurry."
Forty-five minutes later, Parker and Booth seemed to finally agree on a tree that was the correct height, width and fullness. They had examined dozens of trees, from every angle, before choosing, and Brennan had to assure both of them several times that the tree was "awesome."
After they tracked down one of the employs , who tagged the tree and promised to cut it down momentarily, they returned to the bottom of the hill to wait.
Booth was telling her about his elaborate plans to decorate his apartment when there was a thud against his neck, a sudden onslaught of icy slush dripping down his collar. He whirled to see his son, grinning wickedly.
"Oh, you asked for it pal," Booth said with a grin, bending down and quickly constructing his own snowball, which he hurled at his giggling son, who shrieked in delight when the snowball exploded against his thick jacket.
Smiling, Booth began to run after Parker, who attempted to run while making a snowball. Brennan turned to watch, smiling, a rush of affection filling her, the way it always did when she watched her partner interact with his son.
Parker was slinging snowballs at his father, and snow sprinkled through Booth's hair. He bent down, gathering his own snowball, which he threw at Parker, who ducked out of the way.
Taunting breathlessly, Parker yelled again, "Missed me, missed me, now ya gotta kiss me!"
Booth stopped running, quirking an eyebrow. "Oh yeah?" Then he took off, causing Parker to yelp as he gently tackled his son into the bed of snow, falling so his body cushioned Parker's fall. Tickling the boys ribs, Booth leaned in and blew a raspberry against his neck.
"Da-ddy!!!" Parker yelled in protest, amid his seemingly uncontrollable giggles. Booth let go with one hand, scooping up a pile of powdered snow and sprinkled it over Parkers already damp blonde hair. Parker laughed harder, yelling, "Bones! Help me!"
Blinking confusedly for a second, Brennan caught Booth's eyes, which were sparkling playfully. He winked, and Brennan grinned. She bent down and scooped up a pile of snow, shaping it into a hard, compact sphere and, concentrating, sent it flying at Booth.
The ball exploded against Booth's neck, and he fell back dramatically, releasing Parker as he did so. With a whoop of delight, Parker stood and ran toward Brennan. "Let's get him, Bones!"
Obligingly, Brennan made another snowball as Parker did the same thing, and both of them hurled their ammunition at Booth just as he stood up.
"No fair!" Booth mock-whined. "Two against one."
"Deal with it, Daddy!" Parker replied with a laugh.
Adopting a combative expression, Brennan repeated, "Yeah, Booth. Deal with it."
His eyes, flashing, met hers, a devious smirk on his face. He bent down snooping snow toward him, as Parker ducked behind a parked car and began furiously making snowballs.
With his son out of sight, Booth turned his attention temporarily to his partner. He reared back to throw a carefully aimed snowball, but before he could, another one of hers hit him square in the face.
Booth screwed his eyes shut, slush dripping down his cheeks. With as much dignity as he could manage, he wiped the bulk of the snow away, then looked at his partner, who looked much too pleased with herself.
He smirked. "You'll pay for that Bones." Then he was running toward her, the snowball he'd been ready to launch still clutched in his gloved hand. Brennan was unarmed, and she instantly began scooping snow toward her.
When he was about five feet away, he let the snowball loose, and Brennan, kneeled on the ground, rolled away. Booth, who had been running fast, made an unsuccessful attempt to pull up short, and he ended up slipping on the snow, going down hard next to Brennan.
Who was laughing at him, a victorious look on her face. Strands of her hair, wet and clinging to her forehead, had slipped free of her grey toboggan, which was slightly askew on her head. Her cheeks were pink with the cold, and looking at her, Booth couldn't hold back a smile.
She flicked the snow that had gathered on her gloves in the direction of his face, but Booth reached his hand up to block the slush. Shuffling closer to her, Booth spoke in a low voice, his face close enough so she could feel the warmth of his breath over her chilled skin. "Missed me…missed me…"
Now you gotta kiss me.
Brennan swallowed hard, the unspoken part of the childish chant hanging between them.
There was no mistletoe. No spearmint gum. No puckish lawyer, counting steamboats. Just the two of them, lying in the snow, the smell of Christmas trees wafting over them.
Booth's eyes moved slightly, staring at her lips, and though it made no logical sense, Brennan knew he was thinking the same thing.
He leaned closer…
And a snowball collided with his cheek.
Startled, they glanced up and found Parker standing over them, grinning. "Gotcha."
Booth's face, which had been unreadable for a split second (disappointment? Brennan couldn't tell), suddenly split into a grin. "I guess you did…" Then he seized Parker around the waist and brought him crashing between him in the snow.
"Um…Mr. Booth?" A voice called from about ten feet away. "Your tree's ready."
"Yesss!" Parker cheered, as Booth stood, extending a hand to Brennan as soon as he was on his feet.
"Great." Booth rubbed his hands together, his cheeks red. "Wanna come help us decorate, Bones?"
"We always make hot chocolate, too!" Parker informed her.
Still slightly dazed, Brennan nodded. "Sure." She met Booth's eyes, and he half-smiled, his expression almost apologetic.
As Booth walked off to pay the man, Parker slipped a damp, gloved hand into Brennan's. "I think we won that, didn't we, Bones?"
Brennan smiled, and agreed, but privately she wasn't so sure.
She spent Friday evening with Booth and Parker, decorating the tree and the rest of the apartment. Their enthusiasm for the holiday was infectious, and soon Brennan was singing along with the two of them to various Christmas carols.
She and Booth spent the whole evening sneaking glances at each other, their eyes meeting every once in awhile. When that happened, they exchanged quick, almost shy smiles then glanced away again. Brennan was also blushing much more than usual, it seemed. As she went through the multiple boxes of decorations, she was halfway expecting (or hoping) to find a fake sprig of mistletoe like the one hanging in her office.
She never did.
She left late that night, almost reluctantly. There was a fire crackling in the living room, the lights on the tree twinkling, and the pleasant aroma of evergreen filling the room. When she finally got home, Brennan's own apartment felt cold and unwelcoming in comparison.
She didn't see Booth again until Monday, when he walked into her office to let her know about a body, potentially a suicide but the FBI needed her to identify and confirm. Everything was normal between them, and it was as if the moment in the snow on Friday hadn't happened. In fact, Brennan was starting to wonder whether she had misinterpreted his intentions.
Sighing inwardly, Brennan mentally berated herself for the thought. They would never know what would have occurred if Parker hadn't interrupted them; there was no sense in dwelling on it.
She began gathering her kit, and pulling on her coat. She glanced at Booth a few times; he had been lingering in the doorway since he'd gotten there, never coming all the way in to her office, and it made her feel rushed.
Yet, in spite of this apparent impatience, when she started to leave the office, Booth didn't move out of the way. He just stood there, sliding slightly.
Brennan raised her eyebrows. "What are you waiting for, Booth? I'm ready."
His cheeks reddened inexplicably, and Booth muttered something inaudible before turning and leading the way out of her office.
Only when she was a few steps out the door herself, after giving the mistletoe the customary unconscious glance, did Brennan realize why he'd been lingering.
She was instantly torn, between anger at herself for failing to notice and respond and pleasure that he'd finally noticed, and had actually been trying to orchestrate the very situation she'd been imagining more often than she wanted to admit.
That had been what he was doing, right?
A smile tugged at the corner of her lips as she followed Booth out of the lab.
Maybe he, too, thought about last Christmas sometimes, even if it wasn't something they talked about.
Several days before Christmas, her father called. He wanted to add some more decorations to his place before hosting Christmas dinner, and wanted to know if she'd be willing to help that night.
Brennan hesitated. Something about helping her father decorate for Christmas made her inexplicably sad, even though all the memories surrounding this activity during her childhood were admittedly happy ones.
She started to refuse, to tell him Christmas decorating wasn't really her thing, but then she had to question the honesty in that. She'd been extremely happy at Booths a couple weeks before, decorating with him and Parker.
After the silence had gone on for too long, Max added, "Booth's welcome to help out as well."
Brennan smiled, suddenly, at the image of her partner and her dad decorating together. She had never seen two grown men get so excited over a holiday, and she was sure the combination of the two of them would be an extremely enthusiastic one.
"Alright. We'll come."
"Great! Feel free to stay for dinner. I make excellent lasagna…vegetarian for you, honey. And you and Booth bring any extra decorations you have, alright?"
As she agreed, Brennan's eyes flitted instinctually to the mistletoe.
Which is why, moments later, Angela came running up when she saw Brennan on a chair in her doorway, attempting to unhook the sprig.
"Sweetie, no." Angela admonished. "There are still a couple of days until we're out of here…there's still time for this to be put into use." Her best friend grinned suggestively.
"I wasn't going to throw it away, Ange," Brennan informed her. "My father is in need of more decorations for Christmas dinner. I was going to…take it with me."
Predictably, Angela pounced on that immediately. "The same Christmas dinner you invited Booth to?"
Trying to keep the embarrassment out of her voice, Brennan replied coolly, "Unless you're suggesting my father is holding more than one Christmas dinner, than yes, it's the same one."
Angela smiled knowingly. "Leave that one up. I have a couple extra."
Her father's doorbell rang at five thirty exactly, and Brennan nearly leaped up from the couch to go answer it.
Booth was standing on the other side of the door. He was wearing a red sweater with a collared shirt underneath, and carrying a bag of presents and (what else?) a pie. He smiled broadly at her. "Merry Christmas, Bones." He looked her up and down, something that annoyed her when other men did it but always made her feel strangely pleased when it was Booth. "You look great."
"You, too." She took the pies from him. "We can put your gifts in the guest room for now with everyone else's."
"Sounds good." They walked through the living room, Booth exchanging Merry Christmases with the rest of her family while Brennan passed the pies off to her father.
She waited for him in the doorway of the guest room while he laid his coat and the gifts on the bed. Brennan was hoping she didn't look as nervous as she felt.
Still, she was irrationally disappointed when he just smiled at her, and motioned her to precede him through the doorway, never glancing up.
It was a fantastic Christmas, her best in years. Booth and Max got along amazingly well considering the fact that Booth had once arrested him, and even Russ seemed more comfortable around the agent as the evening progressed.
Dinner was delicious, and they all remained at the table, talking and laughing and exchanging stories until Haley and Emma began to get impatient to open gifts.
Though Booth had unnecessarily bought gifts for Max , Russ and Amy, and even the girls, he was almost covert in passing her the small box.
And, yes, her eyes had welled with tears when she saw the silver dolphin charm, dangling on a thin necklace.
"I know it's not really the type of jewelry you usually wear," Booth said almost apologetically. "But I just thought-" Then she was hugging him, hard, both of them on their knees on the carpet of the living room, and Brennan didn't even care that everyone was watching (and hiding smiles) how long she hung on. "Thank you, Booth."
She was hesitant about her own gift, especially after that necklace, but as soon as he ripped through the paper she knew she'd done alright. Booth stared down at it, almost at a loss for words.
Russ glanced over and commented, "Oh those things are nice. We used to have one, I think, but it broke…"
Booth raised his head to meet her eyes, his own dark with emotion, a world of unspoken words passing between them. To Russ and the rest of them, a foot massager with infared heat capabilities wasn't much more than a luxury, a novelty gift. But Brennan was one of the few people who understood the source behind her partners constant aches and chills to his feet, who knew why he might consider this a godsend.
He moved closer, covering her hand with his on the carpet and, glancing at the others, who were paying attention to Haley ripping into a gift, hugged her again, his lips close to her ear as he murmured roughly, "Thanks, Bones. Really"
Her throat suddenly tight, Brennan could only nod.
Booth stayed late, even later than Russ and Amy, who had to get the girls to bed. Brennan sat next to him on the couch, her father across from them in his recliner, and she realized the not once during the evening had she felt that inexplicable sense of loss.
Eventually, though, Booth said his goodbyes and thank you's to Max. Brennan followed him back to the guest room to gather his coat, not offering an explanation.
This time, when Booth pulled his coat on, he didn't sweep right by her. Instead, he moved to stand in front of her, smiling softly. "I loved my gift, Bones."
Her hand went automatically to the dolphin necklace she'd already hooked around her neck. "So do I. So much."
He shuffled a bit closer. "Thanks for inviting me tonight. It's usually such a letdown when Parker leaves, even when I get him all morning…I liked feeling like part of your family."
Brennan paused, then ventured honestly, "You are part of my family. The biggest part."
Booth grinned widely, and Brennan returned it. After a long moment, she couldn't resist anymore; her gaze slid up and Booth followed it.
"Mistletoe," he commented unnecessarily. He grinned. "Angela hang that one, too?"
For a moment, Brennan was confused as to why he thought Angela had been here; a second later she realized he was kidding. "No. She did provide it, though. "
He nodded, his eyes holding hers. Brennan's heart rate was undeniably elevated; she recognized this look from the day at the tree lot. His gaze moved from her eyes to her mouth. Brennan forgot to breathe.
Then he leaned forward, catching her lips in his. She responded immediately, one hand grabbing at his jacket, pulling him a little closer, the other wrapping around the nape of his neck. Booth rested a palm in the usual place on her lower back, but his other drifted up into more unfamiliar territory, threading gently through her hair. The kiss was soft and slow, initially, gradually growing in intensity.
Brennan didn't know exactly how long it lasted, but it was definitely a couple of steamboat flotillas. When they pulled apart, somehow simultaneously, their gazes remained locked on each other.
Booth smiled. Smoothed back an errant strand of her hair. "Merry Christmas, Bones."
They never talked about it.
She didn't mind. There were other things that demanded her mental energy. There were cases to work, and that Agent Perotta (whom she just did not care for for some reason) to keep an eye on, then the return of the Gravedigger and still more cases.
But that didn't mean she never thought about it. She did, on occasion...or, more accurately, several times a day.
And sometimes, she could swear, in those moments where he gave her that look that Brennan was realizing was just hers, or when he leaned so close and she wanted him there…Brennan could swear Booth was thinking about it, too.
Because that was two Christmases in a row they had kissed under mistletoe. And Brennan wondered (hoped) if two years was enough to call it a tradition.
A/N Whoa, fluff alert. Kind of OOC for me. We'll see how many oneshots it takes before I slip into angst. I'll be updating this as regularly as I can between now and Christmas. I already have a couple of ideas.
Any request/suggestions you have, whether it's just a song you want a chapter based around or a specific prompt or situation/character you want to see…just PM me. Can't promise to grant all requests, but I'll do my best, as long as the Muse agrees. I'd love to hear your ideas!
Oh, and as always, reviews are the best gift I could receive. Besides my very own Seeley Booth, of course.