A/N: Hey guys! I know it's been insanely long since my last oneshot, especially considering I got done with school on Wednesday and had promised more frequent updates. But I got home to find our internet was screwing up, and I've had issues connecting my lap top until late last night. This is the first chance I've had to upload.
I'll probably put up one more tomorrow and, if everything goes as plans, another one either late tomorrow night or at some point on Christmas day. Hope you enjoy, and hope everyone's having a great holiday.
This one takes place in the current season, just before Goop in the Girl. It's a little less Christmas based, and more winter based…partially in honor of the fact that my town in NC actually got snow before January for the first time in years. The vague topic (Booth and Parker teach Brennan to ski) was a request by Rosie-not-Rose, and it was really fun to write. Thanks for the idea, hope you like it!
Let It Snow, Let it Snow, Let it Snow
Booth sighed very deliberately, looking pointedly at his watch for probably the tenth time that morning. Unfortunately, his less than subtle reactions were lost on most of the squint squad, who were milling around the Jeffersonian parking lot as it if they had all the time in the world.
Only Bones seemed to notice his rapidly mounting annoyance; she approached him, leaning next to him against his car, observing, "You seem irritable."
"We were supposed to be on the road twenty minutes ago," he grumbled. "I was supposed to pick Parker up fifteen minutes ago..."
For a moment, Brennan looked confused by the phrase. After a beat, she said, "You're hoping for more efficiency in packing?"
He waved a hand in the general direction of the other squints. "I think they're done loading the cars. I don't know what the hell the hold up is."
Angela, Hodgins, Cam, Michelle, Sweets, and Daisy were circled by the trunk of Cam's Expedition, trying to work out the seemingly complex issue of who was riding where.
Booth's original intention had merely been to invite Bones to come skiing with him and Parker the weekend before Christmas. He hadn't been sure that she would want to come, but she'd seemed inordinately pleased and had agreed right away…before proceeding to explain to him that she'd never been before but felt certain that, considering her steep learning curve, she'd master it fairly quickly.
Within a day, the plan sort of snowballed (pun definitely intended).
Hodgins overheard them talking about it, and offered the use of his cabin in West Virginia, which was apparently right on the slopes of an excellent ski lodge. Somehow, half an hour after Booth had gratefully accepted, Hodgins had decided skiing would be a nice weekend getaway, and Cam and Angela had agreed. By the end of the day, Sweets had found out, as well, and suddenly the team (along with their various sons, adopted daughters and annoying girlfriends) were going on a bonding ski trip for a weekend.
After another few minutes of watching the others stare at the vehicles with concentrated expression, Booth rolled his eyes and raised his voice, "Look, we have room for one more over here, everyone else can fit in Cam's car. Decide in thirty seconds or Bones and I are leaving all of you."
Brennan glanced at him, smiling slightly.
The others glanced at each other and, predictably, Daisy broke the silence. "Well, I want to ride with my Lancealot." Sweets smiled, pleased, while everyone else tried not to catch each other's eye.
"I'm driving," Cam said, waving her keys.
There was a moment of silence as everyone looked at each other; Booth broke it, clapping his hands together. "Time's up. C'mon Bones."
He headed around to the driver's side, Brennan's gaze following him, unsure if his threat was legitimate.
They never found out; Angela held up a hand in mock surrender and said cheerfully, "I'll go. Assuming, Booth, that you'll be playing Christmas music and having us all sing?"
Still looking slightly irritable, Booth continued walking as he answered, "I doubt I'll be feeling too jolly after Rebecca yells at me for being half an hour late."
As Cam led the others to her car, Angela and Brennan got in Booth's, Angela rolling her eyes. "Don't be such a Grinch."
Throwing her best friend a puzzled look, Brennan commented, "I don't know what that means."
Once they'd stopped to pick up Parker, with no comment from Rebecca on the late arrival, Booth perked up immensely, and the road trip turned out to be pretty fun.
Booth obligingly turned on Christmas music, and for awhile Parker and Angela were singing alone, from the backseat, but after awhile Booth relaxed and joined in.
From her usual position in the passenger seat, Brennan listened contentedly, a soft, hidden smile on her face.
After awhile, though, Parker leaned up and stuck his head between the front seats. "Bones, why aren't you singing?"
"Sit back in your seat, buddy," Booth admonished, meeting his son's eyes in the rearview mirror.
Parker obeyed, but repeated, "Bones? Don't you like singing Christmas songs?"
Booth met her eyes briefly before she answered uncomfortably, "I, uh, never really thought about it, Parker."
"You should sing with us."
Slightly uncomfortable, Brennan faced forward, not meeting Booth or Parker's eyes. "I'm not a very good singer."
Booth made a scoffing sound at the same time that Angela, from the backseat, insisted, "We all know that's not true, Bren."
"Yeah, Bones, what happened to being better than Cyndi Lauper?"
Brennan flinched slightly, suddenly hearing what used to be her favorite song, cut off by a gunshot.
She was quiet for long enough that Booth took his eyes off the road to look at her. "Bones?"
Her eyes shifted to meet his, lips set in a firm line. "That was an extremely narcissistic assertion. I should never have said that, and I shouldn't allowed myself to be coerced into performing. It was foolish."
Booth was taken about by the ferocity of these comments; before he could formulate a response, Angela said quickly, "But Christmas carols would be okay, Sweetie. Come on, it's fun."
Begrudgingly, Brennan began to sing along to "Silver Bells" with the others, quiet at first, very aware of Booth's close attention. Parker, too, leaned forward, hoping to listen.
When they'd been through the song, Parker sat back, a satisfied smile on his face. "I think you sing really pretty, Bones."
Brennan smiled, surprised. Before she could thank him, Booth turned to look her, a small smile on his face and said, "He's right. You really do."
Flushing, she replied quietly, "Thanks." Then, in a normal volume, "Thank you, Parker."
In the rearview mirror, Angela met Booth's eyes and smiled knowingly.
"This feels strange," Angela commented as she rifled through her suitcase for skiing clothes.
"What?" Brennan asked distractedly. "Your suitcase?"
"No…it feels strange not going to the master bedroom. We spent a lot of weekends here when Jack and I were dating."
"Oh." Brennan waited, uncertain if she was going to continue reminiscing. When she didn't, Brennan commented, "It's a nice place."
"Oh, yeah. Hardly a rustic cabin in the wilderness."
"Bones, Bones, Bones, Bones!" Parker came running into the room, wearing a puffy blue coat, gloves, and a navy toboggan pulled almost over his eyes. As he tilted his head to look at her, Brennan absently reached to adjust the hat so Parker could see. "Me and Daddy are going out skiing. Come on!"
Brennan smiled down at him "Alright, Parker, I'll be just a minute."
"Do you really not know how to ski, Bones?"
"Well, it's true I've never done it before," Brennan answered. "But I've done some research, and I'm certain I'll be able to master it fairly quickly."
Angela ducked her head to hide her silent laughter, while Parker just continued to beam up at Brennan. "Well, Daddy and I can teach you. I'm really awesome, and he is, too."
"Alright," Brennan agreed, smiling. "I'll be out soon."
"Okay!" Parker said happily, running out of the room calling, "Daddy, Bones is coming!!!"
Moving more quickly, Brennan began pulling on layers, unaware of Angela watching her with a grin. After a moment, when Brennan moved to the edge of her bed to pull on an extra pair of socks, Angela commented, "Parker really likes you, huh?"
"It does seem like it," she admitted, surprise threaded through her tone. "I'm not very adept with children, but I find myself fairly comfortable with Parker."
"Maybe he reminds you of his father," Angela suggested innocently.
"There are many similarities between Booth and Parker, as should be expected, but I don't see the connection."
Smirking, Angela mocked, "I'm sure you don't."
"Bo-ones." Parker reappeared in the doorway, his tone impatient and stretching Bones name out.
"Ready," Brennan assured him, heading out the room and asking Angela, "You guys coming?"
"Soon," Angela replied. "We'll see you out there."
Parker grabbed Brennan's gloved hand and pulled her through the halls until they were bursting onto the front porch, where Booth was standing with three sets of skis, poles, and ski boots.
He grinned as soon as he saw Brennan, who was still tugging her grey toboggan over her hair with one hand. "Hey, Bones. You ready for this?"
"Yes," she answered resolutely.
He passed her a pair of thick ski boots. "You're using my old skis, but Rebecca let us borrow the boots.
She sat on the steps of the porch to pull on the boots while Booth helped Parker into his. "Thank you, but that wasn't necessary, Booth. I could have rented skis."
"Nah, those lines are always ridiculous and it takes forever. This'll get us out on the slopes faster, right pal?" He grinned down at his son.
"Right!" Standing, Parker bounded awkwardly into the yard, scooping up his skis and poles, tucking them under his arm.
Snapping the strap into place, Brennan, too, stood up and looked expectantly at Booth. "We going?"
Rubbing his gloved hands together, Booth nodded. "Yep. Let's hit the bunny slope!"
Falling into step alongside the Booth boys, Brennan stated predictably, "I don't know what that means."
Giggling, Parker clarified, "That's the easy place where the babies ski."
"Parker," Booth started to admonish, watching with amusement as Brennan frowned in concern.
"I doubt I require starting on any sort of…bunny slope. I consulted the map of the various hills, and there was one marked beginner that I think would be satisfactory for the first few attempts."
Booth grinned. "Bones, you know, sometimes it can take some practice to pick it up. No shame in using the bunny slope to master you know…not falling."
Expression earnest, Brennan assured him, "I've done some research online about basic techniques…it's all simple physics, really."
Booth let out a bark of laughter. "You can't learn to ski from the internet, Bones."
Assuring her, Parker put in, "I learned how on the bunny slope first Bones."
"I'm sure it's a very effective teaching method, but I'd prefer to skip that step and begin on the main beginner's slope. I have an exceptionally-"
"-high learning curve," Booth finished, grinning. "You've said. We can do it your way." He reached into his pocket and handed her a long sticker, passing one to Parker as well.
Brennan glanced at it blankly. "What is this?"
"Your lift pass. Put it over your jacket zipper," he explained, stopping briefly to help Parker.
"The chair lift is so fun, Bones," Parker told her. "It goes really high up."
Soon, they were standing at the base of most of the slopes, and Parker and Booth had snapped their boots into their skis without problems. Brennan's left boot had snapped in easily enough, but every time she stepped down with the right the ski slid forward.
Gritting her teeth in frustration, trying to ignore the way Booth was trying not to laugh at her, Brennan dug a ski pole into the snow, gripping it for balance, and defiantly slammed the heel of her ski boot into place.
It didn't click.
Taking pity on her, but still chuckling, Booth came closer. "Here…" He gently guided her wrist so she had no choice but to grip his shoulder. Their eyes met, and she sighed audibly at the mirth dancing in Booth's. "You really gotta hammer it in there."
Leaning her weight on Booth, Brennan stomped again, and this time the boot clicked into place.
"Atta girl," Booth cheered, grinning. "The hard part is truly over."
Arching an eyebrow and attempting a dignified tone, Brennan said, "You're being facetious, aren't you?"
"Ah, you really are a genius."
Brennan frowned, "Was that being disputed?"
Before Booth could retort, Parker interrupted their back and forth. "Can we go."
Booth nodded, lifting his legs and turning his skis in the direction of the lift line. "Yeah, bud, let's get in line. C'mon, Bones, you can ride behind us."
Nervously casting her gaze on the lift, she repeated, "Behind you?"
Booth was already in line next to Parker, and he cast a glance over his shoulder and waved her forward. "Yeah, it's a two seat lift. You'll be fine."
"Alright…" Brennan craned her head, trying to see to the front of her line as people got on. "How do I…"
"Just use your polls to slide over, and turn so you're facing away from the chair and sit down."
"It's really easy," Parker assured her.
The line was moving quickly, and as they got to the front, Booth threw her a grin. "See ya at the top Bones."
The employee standing at the front of the line waved her forward as Booth and Parker turned in the correct direction as a seat whizzed up behind them. They sat down simultaneously, Booth's arm unnecessarily on Parker's; Booth immediately pulled down the bar as Parker waved at her.
Brennan dug her poles in, shakily sliding forward. When she got under the shed, she cast a nervous glance at her shoulder at the rapidly approaching chair, turning one ski in the proper direction. Before she could turn the other, the chair collided with the back of her legs, and she sat instantly, her left ski scraping the ground as she did.
Booth swiveled around to look at her. "Bones, pull down the bar."
She rolled her eyes, feeling much more at ease now that she was firmly seated. "Booth, I-"
"Bones, the bar."
Placating him, Brennan reached up and pulled the metal safety bar down. She gazed below her, watching the slope. Some skiers were expertly zipping down, since many of the more difficult slopes eventually merged into the wide beginner one. There were small clusters of one or two skiers or boarders just sitting on the side. Her eyes zeroed in on one apparently out of control skier, going much too fast, forcing other skiers out of their way…and then falling, sending powder flying.
She raised her head again, glancing forward. They were approaching the first stop. "Booth!"
He turned, "What's wrong?"
She could feel herself flushing. "When we get to the top, what…what's the procedure for getting off the lift?"
Even from the distance between them she could see his smirk. "Didn't cover that in your extensive online research?"
He laughed. "Lift the pole when you see the station, and then when you get there it's just a ramp. Stand up and ski down it, but go off to the side at the bottom or the people behind you will run into you."
She nodded mutely; they were approaching the ramp. In front of her, she watched Booth lift the bar and say something to Parker she couldn't hear; mimicking him, she raised her bar and shifted her ski poles. Soon, Booth and Parker both stood and skied expertly down.
Brennan's lift approached seconds later, and she managed to stand, the lift knocking into the back of her thighs as she slid shakily down the ramp. At the bottom, though, worried about picking up speed, she turned her right ski slightly to stop.
She was still upright, completely steady, and pleased with herself. Then she was aware of Booth's voice, calling her name. She turned, confused, just in time to see his wrist seize her arm and drag her to the side seconds before two teenagers, exiting the ramp, zipped by where she'd been standing.
Parker was moving away from them, and he called back, "Daddy can I go?"
"Just a sec, bud," Booth replied, turning to Brennan and saying, "Do you want some pointers Bones? Or did your internet research prepare you better for the actual skiing part of the experience?"
Scowling at him, Brennan lifted her chin and replied smoothly, "It did prepare me adequately for the actual sport itself, although a few instructions from you wouldn't be amiss, seeing as you are familiar with this particular slope and may be aware of variables that do not affect the general sport as a whole."
"You got it, Bones," Booth said in as serious of a tone as he could manage.
Impatient, Parker called, "Dad-dy."
"One sec, pal. I gotta give Bones some tips so she won't fall, alright?"
Before Brennan could protest, Parker's eyes lit up, and he slid toward them. "Ooh, tell her about snow plowing."
"I don't know what that means."
Booth and Parker grinned at each other, and then Booth answered, "Move your skis in a triangle position, it keeps you from going too fast." He demonstrated with his own.
Brennan studied it carefully, mimicking. "You're suggesting creating traction."
"Uh, sure," Booth said. "Kinda shift your weight from one leg to the other if it helps. You don't have to snow plow the whole time, just if you feel like you're losing control. And if you really can't stop yourself, fall."
Brennan's eyebrows drew together, her expression perplexed. "That seems counterproductive."
"Trust me, it's better to make yourself fall then lose control completely and crash into something."
"If you insist."
Parker tilted his head up at her. "You ready Bones?"
She smiled, fabricating confidence. "Sure."
The three of them moved from the sidelines to the top of the slope, Brennan moving slightly slower. She could hear Parker say excitedly, "Can we race, Daddy?"
Casting a glance back at her, Booth replied, "Let's use this one for a warm up, bud. Next time we'll race."
The boy agreed easily as Brennan caught up to them, sliding her skis up alongside Booth. He grinned at her. "Ready for this?"
She nodded, glancing down the slope, which was steeper than she'd anticipated. "Ready."
Booth and Parker eased forward and began to ski off, both veering off slightly to widen the gap between them. Taking a steadying breath, Brennan pushed off behind them.
Immediately, she was going too fast, straight ahead, with no method of turning. She went careening past Booth and Parker, between them.
"Ski plow, Bones!" Booth called out helpfully. "Use the traction or whatever!"
The snow was icier than she'd thought it would be, slick with very little powder. Panicking slighter, Brennan attempted to angle her skis in the position Booth had demonstrated, but as she widened the gap between the back of her skis, the front of them crossed, making an X.
She jerked her right leg instantly, overcorrecting as her skis flew apart, sliding unsteadily against the ice. Two snowboarders in front of her steered quickly out of the way.
The last, seemingly ridiculous bit of Booth's advice occurred to her. If you really can't stop yourself, fall.
She didn't have time to question it. Wincing in anticipation, Brennan upended her skis, her body collapsing on one side.
One ski scraped against the icy slope while the other popped off and skidded a few feet the side. Shreds of ice covered one side of her face.
Before she could pull herself up, Brennan heard a scraping next to her, and looked up to see Booth, expertly stopped two feet away and peering down at her, his face etched with equal parts concern and amusement.
"Are you alright?"
"Yes," she answered huffily. "Your traction suggestion was highly ineffective-" She stopped talking as Booth gently tucked his hand under the crook of her elbow and pulled her up. With one boot out of her ski, it was simple to stand as Booth sidestepped carefully to retrieve her dropped poles and missing skis.
Brennan's eyes found Parker, who had managed to stop ten feet away and was carefully sidestepping his way over. "You okay, Bones?"
She smiled, swiping a wet glove over her cheek. "I'm fine, Parker."
"You were going really, really fast."
"I know I was…" Brennan's eyes met Booth, who, now that he knew she was fine, wasn't trying to disguise his amusement. He set the errant ski by her foot and motioned for Brennan to hold his arm as she stepped into it.
"So," he teased in a falsely conversational tone. "That must've been a great site you found."
"You're being very insensitive and immature, Booth," Brennan informed him.
"I know," he admitted readily, grinning. "Want a few more lessons now? Before we keep going?"
"Only if these lessons are better than the last one."
For the next minute or so, Booth ran through basic skills ("You know, Bones, like stopping or turning?") and tips, while Parker sighed impatiently next to them.
When they started again, Brennan was slightly more controlled, moving from side to side down the slope to keep from picking up too much speed. She didn't have any trouble until they got to the bottom, when her attempt at stopping got her skis crossed (again) and sent her collapsing in an undignified heap.
Again, Booth was there in seconds, helping her up and assuring she was uninjured before allowing himself to tease her and offer her corrective advice.
They met Angela and Hodgins at the ski lift, and, after Hodgins cockily explained his plans to go to the black diamond slopes, Angela got in line with Brennan, behind Booth and Parker again.
For the next four runs, the routine was the same. Brennan generally fell once, either on the slope or at the bottom, prompting Booth's instant arrival at her side, even if he was in the middle of a "heated competition" with Parker.
They saw the others, all of whom moved past the beginners slope, but Booth and Parker stayed on it with her. Even after she began successfully completely the run without falling, Booth laughed at her for literally zigzagging her way down the slope, moving from one edge to another, not trusting herself to ski in a straight line.
After spending several hours repeating the same run, Brennan turned to Booth and informed him confidently, "I want to ski the black diamond run."
Booth's eyebrows shot up. "Just skip right by the intermediate, huh?"
"I studied the resort map extensively. The black diamond portion of this run is fairly short."
"And steep, Bones," he reminded her.
Bones arched an eyebrow challengingly. "I've mastered the rudimentary skills, and I'm certain I can apply them just as easily on a more difficult slope."
Smirking, Booth added, "You mean as long as you can still do the 'zig zag' method?" The quip earned him a backhanded smack on the shoulder, which sent Parker into a fit of giggles. "Bones, I don't want you to get hurt."
"I'll be fine, Booth. I can't improve if we keep repeating the same routine."
"Parker can't go on that run, anyway."
The boy's head snapped up and he protested indignantly, "Can so!"
"Sorry, pal, you know the rules. No black diamond runs til you move up a ski size." He nudged Parker's tiny skis with his own.
"Fine," Parker huffed.
Booth glanced back at this partner, a triumphant grin on his face. "See?"
Brennan was squinting up at the slope. "Sweets and Daisy should reach us momentarily. I'm sure they can take Parker briefly."
"Cool," Parker agreed.
Sure enough, within a minute, Sweets (who was dressed in a laughable amount of layers) was stopping next to them, sending powder all over them. "Sorry," he said sheepishly
Ignoring the apology, Brennan said immediately, "Sweets, would you take Parker on a run with you while Booth and I ski the black diamond slope?"
Sweets let out a low whistle. "You're going to the black diamond after two hours? Impressive."
Booth snorted, correcting him, "You may want to hold off on deciding that."
Sweets bit back a smile, then smiled down at Parker, "But yeah, I'll take Parker. Daisy went in to get a different height of poles-" he rolled his eyes. "-so I'll ride up with him. We'll wait at the bottom when we get done."
Booth nodded. "Thanks, Sweets." Turning to Parker, Booth said, "Alright, bub, can you go with Sweets?"
"Sure," Parker replied agreeably, cutting his eyes at the psychologist. "Will he race me?"
Clapping a hand on Sweets' shoulder, Booth answered his son, "Sure he will. Think you can beat him?"
Booth smirked. "Me, too." He turned to his partner. "Let's do this."
This time, Booth and Brennan got on the chairlift after Sweets and Parker, and waved at them when they got off on the first stop.
Booth cast a sidelong glance at his partner; she had a familiar competitive glint in her eyes, and it made him smile. Bumping his shoulder against hers, Booth asked, "So are we going to be racing or is it just a 'try not to fall' sort of thing?"
"Who said it had to be a competition?"
He laughed, "That take no prisoners look in your eye did."
Brennan smiled and opened her mouth to retort when the ski lift halted, something that happened nearly every other ride up it.
Sighing impatiently, Brennan craned her neck to the side to try to see how far they were from the top; she could just see the station in the distance. Next to her, Booth smiled gleefully and looked down at the skiers zipping below them. "Bones, Bones, watch!"
He clapped his skis together, sending the snow that had gathered there falling on the people below.
"Impressive," Brennan said dryly.
"Nice use of sarcasm, Bones," Booth praised her genuinely. He thumped his skis together again, though no snow remained. Squinting into the sun, Booth ran his eyes over the expansive ski resort. "It's pretty from up here. All the snow."
"Yes, it is. There are more slopes than I realized."
"We'll hit more tomorrow," Booth assured her. "We'll have all day." He grinned. "Besides, by that time you'll be a pro at the rate you're going."
"I know you're being facetious."
"You got me."
Glancing at him, his signature charm smile firmly in place, Brennan couldn't help but smile. After a pause, she said, "Thanks for inviting me this weekend, Booth."
He turned, meeting her eyes and smiling back, his eyes softening around the edges like they always did during these moments. "I'm glad you came."
The lift screeched slightly, and then began to move up again.
Within a minute, they were lifting the bar and skiing down the ramp, easing toward the top of the slope. Brennan pressed her ski into the snow below her. It was even icier than the lower slopes, hard and slick. The angle was steep.
"Ready?" Booth asked.
She nodded wordlessly. Instead of pushing off, though, Booth peered at her, then asked again, quietly, "Sure?"
They pushed off together. For a moment, they were side by side, but then Brennan (who was determinedly trying to avoid her zigzagging strategy) picked up speed and surged ahead, concurrently losing control.
Brennan was going so quickly her skis weren't sinking into the snow, but rather skating over the top; she knew this would make stopping difficult.
Still gaining speed at an alarming rate, Brennan attempted to turn and ski diagonally, a smaller scale version of her zig zag move, but her momentum was such that the slight movement sent her skis flying. She hurtled forward, losing her grip on both poles before she landed hard, her cheek scraping the ice painfully as she slid several feet before settling.
"Bones!" She heard Booth's voice from her left as he whipped by her.
Booth managed the stop about ten feet down the slope from her, tilting his skis and turning to the side to gaze up at her. The concern on his face was palpable, and free of any mirth; this particular fall must've looked pretty bad.
"Bones, are you okay?"
She winced, swiping the back of her glove over her stinging cheek. "Fine," she assured him quickly, sitting up. The area she'd landed in was slippery and steep; Brennan was worried about standing up without her poles to balance. Her eyes scanning the slope, she noticed one had landed in between Booth and her.
"You sure?" He asked.
"Yes, Booth, I'm certain just…could you hand me my pole?"
He stared. "You want me to come up the slope?"
"Just enough to grab the pole and throw it to me." Brennan's eyes met his. "Please?"
Booth sighed inwardly. It wasn't as though he would have said no. "Fine, Bones. But I want you to watch, because this is what a skilled skier can do."
Even as she rolled her eyes and protested ("You won't actually be skiing, it will be more of stepping"), Booth began meticulously and slowly sidestepping up the slope toward her, waiting until each ski was planted before meeting it with the other.
When he was close to the fallen pole, Booth reached his own pole out, trying to hook the end into the strap.
"Loop it through," Brennan commanded needlessly from her place on the ground. "Use the straps."
Voice strained from the effort, Booth retorted, "You obviously weren't."
"It isn't safe, it could be a puncture weapon."
"It's three feet long, Bones, what's it going to be able to puncture, your ankle?" He sighed, still out of reach. "Hold on…" Carefully, he lifted his right ski and tilted it slightly. As he lifted his left to match it, however, his skis crossed in the back. Sliding one out from under the other, he overcorrected and, losing control, began to slide down the slope.
"Damn it," he muttered, panicked. He was going too fast to simply swivel around. Booth craned his neck, trying to see if other skiers were in front of him.
"Fall!" Brennan called, parroting his own advice back to him.
However, Booth had no conscious choice in the matter as his legs flew out from under him, with a sickening pop and sudden shooting pain in his ankle.
From above him, Brennan immediately snapped off her skis and, in the heavy boots, sped down the slope toward Booth as quickly as she could, leaving her equipment abandoned on the slope.
Brennan dropped on her knees beside Booth, her hands instantly moving from his shoulders down his arms checking for injuries. "Are you okay?"
Booth sucked in a breath. "My ankle, Bones, I broke my ankle."
She looked up, meeting his eyes. "You're certain?"
He nodded. "It's happened before."
Brennan moved slightly, very gently touching the tip of his ski boot, stilling it. "We need to take your boot off, your foot could start swelling." Brennan's throat constricted. "I'm sorry, Booth, it's my fault…"
"Hey…" He reached out, catching her gloved hand in his. "It happens, Bones." It's not your fault, it was just an accident. Okay?" She nodded, and Booth reached out with his other hand and touched her cheek gently. "You're bleeding, Bones…"
"Oh," she swiped her cheek hurriedly against her shoulder. "It scraped the ice, it's nothing…" Returning her attention to his foot, she said, "I'm going to loosen your boot, alright?"
She carefully loosened the straps as much as possible, stretching it as far as it would go. Inhaling slowly, Brennan told him, "I have to slide it off now…I'm sorry…"
But the boot slid off fairly easily, and Booth relaxed slightly, trusting Bones as she propped his foot carefully on her thigh, out of the snow, and ran her hands gently over his socks.
"It's broken," she confirmed. "But you knew that…alright, I noticed that they bring injured skiers down on stretchers that resemble sleds…we should alert one-"
"No way," Booth cut her off. "Parker'll be at the bottom by now I can't let him see me getting pulled down on one of those. And besides, I'm not an invalid I can…I can make it if you help me."
She didn't argue. "Okay. We're almost at the point where this slope merges with the intermediate one, it should be easier to walk down that one…you need to keep your weight off your foot, you can lean on me…"
"Leave the skis," he told her. "When we get to the bottom we'll tell the attendant to have someone send them down."
Honestly, Brennan hadn't even remembered the skis, but she only said, "Okay." She stood, bracing herself, and helped Booth stand, all his weight on one foot.
"Ready?" she asked.
He nodded. "Thanks Bones."
Brennan wrapped an arm securely around Booth's waist; Booth put an arm around his shoulder, and Brennan hooked her other hand over his wrist by her shoulder.
As they began to move, slow and tedious, Booth leaned more weight on Brennan, who took care not to reveal any outward sign of discomfort.
The going was slow. The steep, slick hill was hard enough to walk down wearing the heavy boots without the added injury. Brennan was nervously asking him if he was alright every thirty seconds or so.
"I'm fine, Bones, I promise."
After nearly half an hour, they reached the bottom, where Sweets, Daisy, and Parker were waiting, along with Angela, Hodgins, Cam and Michelle.
Angela saw them first. "Oh, thank God! We thought you'd fallen off the lift or something." Then, it registered that Booth was leaning on Brennan. "What happened?"
Parker's eyes went wide. "Daddy, are you hurt?"
"Just hurt my foot a little bit, pal."
Brennan looked at Cam. "He needs to go to the Emergency Room."
"If you can get him through the lodge I'll bring my car around."
"Thanks, Cam," Booth replied, grimacing slightly as Cam headed off toward the cabin. "Bones, can you stay here with Parker?"
"No, I'm going with you," she replied instantly.
His eyes locked with hers. "You don't have to, Bones."
She lifted her chin, defiant. "I'm aware of that, but I'm still going with you."
He half-smiled. "Thanks, Bones."
Angela stepped forward slightly. "Parker can ski with me, Booth," she offered, smiling at the boy, who was starting to look unsettled.
"Thanks, Ange." He looked down at his son. "You gonna be okay, bud?"
"Why do you have to go to hospital?"
"No big deal, Parks," Booth assured him hastily. "I have to get a cast. Like the one you had on your arm last year, remember?"
Parker relaxed instantly. "Can I sign it?"
"Of course. Until then, you have fun skiing."
Brennan once again put an arm around Booth's waist, prompting immediate smirks from the others. Flushing, she quickly said, "We should walk through the lodge…Cam'll be bringing the car."
Booth smiled down at her, no longer laced with discomfort or pain. "Thanks, Bones." He looked at Parker. "Be good for Angela, alright, kiddo?" Parker nodded, and Booth wrapped an arm around his partner. "Lead the way, Bones."
When they came back, several hours later, Booth had a blue cast up to his knee, crutches, had made the realization that he was stuck off the slopes for the rest of the weekend and, as a consequence of his complaining, was being apologized to every minute or so.
As they walked up the sidewalk to the porch, Booth on his crutches, he turned to Cam and said in an undertone, "Can you give us a sec?"
She smiled knowingly, cutting her eyes at Brennan, whose guilt was etched in her expression. "Sure."
When the front door closed, Booth smiled easily down at Brennan. "Bones. This is important, okay? It's the last time I'm going to say it. This wasn't your fault."
She sighed, "I'm the one who insisted on going down a slope beyond my abilities, and I'm the one who requested your help with the pole. It follows, then, that I'm the one who caused you to break your ankle and miss out on the rest of the weekend skiing with Parker."
Booth slung an arm around Brennan's shoulder playfully. "Oh, c'mon, in a few days even you will see how funny the image of me skiing backwards down the slope is."
"Maybe," Brennan said, sounding unconvinced.
"It was an accident," he told her gently. "It's no one's fault. Got it?"
Brennan bit back her logical argument on the chain of events. "Alright."
"Let's go in."
As soon as they opened the door, Parker came running. "Daddy! Lemme see!"
They spent the next few minutes letting everyone sign his cast, a tradition Brennan participated in but didn't understand. Then Booth settled between Brennan and Parker on the large leather sofa and soon had them all, even Brennan, laughing at his recollection.
"Everyone can just go. For the hundredth time, I'll be fine. Go ski, have fun."
The group in front of him shrugged and finally stopped starting all sentences with "Are you sure you don't mind…"
Satisfied with his friends finally giving in, Booth looked down at Parker, straightening his son's toboggan. "Be good for Angela and Jack, alright, bud? And have lots of fun for me."
Angela started to say something, but then looked behind Booth and smiled. "Sweetie, you sure you aren't coming?"
Brennan shook her head. She'd stuck close to Booth all morning, never even affecting a pretense of going out. "I don't feel much like skiing, thanks."
Angela smiled knowingly. "That's so cute, Bren."
Brow furrowing, Brennan asked, "Why is that cute?"
Everyone suppressed laughs, then waved goodbye and started out the door. When they had all filed out, Booth turned to Brennan. "You sure you don't want to go out, Bones? I'm really fine…I've got Hodgins' flat screen, surround sound and probably three thousand channels."
"I know," she replied quickly. "I just…wasn't overly impressed with skiing as an activity."
He couldn't help but smirk. "But you were such a natural at it."
Brennan squinted at him. "Facetious again?"
"What do you think?"
"I'm not certain. I do have a good deal of natural athletic ability, yet you took great pleasure in making fun of my skiing skills yesterday, so I honestly think an argument could be made for you being genuine or sarcastic."
He laughed. "Sarcastic, Bones. That was definitely sarcastic."
Booth ended up having a fantastic day.
He and Bones stayed in the large living room, a fire crackling, as he taught her to play BS and Speed and she taught him Blitz. When the cards got boring, Brennan found stacks of games in a closet and they worked their way through those. Around lunchtime, Brennan went into the kitchen and made grilled cheeses, Booth hobbling in after her to sit at the bar and keep her company.
After lunch, they went through the DVD collection and found It's a Wonderful Life. When Booth commented that it was his favorite Christmas movie, and Brennan replied by saying she'd never seen it, Booth had a slight overreaction and freaked out, insisting that they watch it.
For the first little while, he got nothing but unwelcome commentary.
"Those constellations are not at all accurate. And the implication that they are actually angels speaking? Absolutely ludicrous."
"I don't understand how this is a Christmas film."
"A man like that shouldn't be a licensed pharmacist."
However, by the time Jimmy Stewart offered to lasso the moon for Donna Reed, Brennan was quiet, although Booth had expected her to interject that such a task was impossible.
She was quiet for nearly an hour, as Booth moved closer so they could share the bowl of popcorn she'd made. Her only comment, right around the time the movie moved back to "present day" was to reiterate in a quiet voice that she didn't understand how it was a Christmas film.
"Just wait. The present day story is set on Christmas Eve. It's coming."
After that she was quiet; at one point, Brennan unconsciously tugged a corner of the blanket Booth had pulled from the back of the couch over her thighs. Smiling to himself like a high school boy, Booth slid even closer and wordlessly moved half the blanket over her.
By the end of the movie, Bones was leaning against him. He glanced down at her, a soft smile on his face, eyes sparkling. "Is that a tear, Bones?"
She blinked rapidly and hard. "No."
"Did you like it?"
She nodded fervently. "Yes, I did, actually. It was a very interesting take on chaos theory, though applied to the life of a human-"
"Okay, okay, I got it. You liked it." Booth reached for the remote. "I bet they're playing more Christmas movies on one of these channels we have…"
Brennan was quiet, and she never moved away from Booth as he flipped through the program guide before his eyes lit up. "Elf! We gotta watch this!"
"Alright," she agreed absently. There wasn't much she would deny him right now; she just wanted him to enjoy himself and not remember that he was missing his chance to ski with his son.
After about half an hour, though, she couldn't keep quiet. "This seems more like a movie to Parker. It's absolutely ridiculous."
Booth felt the heat rising to his face. "Well…I did first see it with Parker, but come on. It's funny. And I like that girl who can sing."
At this, Brennan scowled, leaning away to look up at him. "You would."
Holding up a hand in defense, Booth counter, "What? I like her. She actually reminds me of you."
Rolling her eyes, Brennan shot back, "We look nothing alike. She's blonde."
Booth bit back a laugh. "My mistake." Heaving a theatrical sigh, Booth said, "Fine, I'll change it. We'll find something else."
As he flipped over to A Christmas Story, Brennan hesitantly ventured, "Booth? I'm sorry, again. About your ankle."
Muting the television, Booth leveled a stern gaze on her. "What did I say about that?"
"I know. I'm just…I'm just sorry. You didn't get to ski, and you aren't spending time with Parker. It would have been a better experience if you hadn't invited me-"
Feeling bold, Booth put a finger over her lips to stop her apologies. "I'll get to spend time with Parker. I will. And I don't mind not skiing. This was just as good. Better, even." He smiled. "I'm glad you came, Bones. It's Christmas time…Christmas is a time to be with the people you love."
They both froze, the word hanging between them, the second time he'd said it. Brennan looked slightly shocked, her eyes locking on his.
Booth flushed. "You know…your friends and family and stuff."
She repeated quietly, "Friends and family and stuff?"
She nodded, apparently contemplating. "And partners?"
Booth smiled. "Yeah, Bones. And partners. Partners who are also family and friends and…stuff."
She smiled widely. "Okay."
He couldn't help but grin back. "Okay."
She leaned back against him and Booth unmated the TV and settled back.
Both of them were wondering about the 'stuff'.
Around seven, when the group finally straggled into the house, pink cheeked and tired, they sound Booth and Brennan asleep on the couch, huddled under a blanket, Brennan's head on Booth's shoulder, the television playing in front of them.
Angela sighed in contentment, Parker giggled, and the others just exchanged knowing smiles.
"What do we do?" Cam stage whispered.
Hodgins replied in his own whisper, "There's a nice steak house a few miles down the road. We could ditch these layers and go."
Everyone nodded. Angela put a hand on Parker's back. "Let's go eat, pal."
"What about Daddy and Bones?"
Angela laughed. "We'll let them sleep."
Within ten minutes, they all left the house again, leaving the sleeping partners completely unaware that they'd ever come in.