A/N: I put on a CD in the car the other day – 'Life for Rent' by Dido - that I hadn't listened to for ages and several of the songs brought Brennan and Booth immediately to mind, and then when I found out that David Boreanaz actually featured in the video of the title track (check it out … mmmm, yummy), it was a done deal … I had to "put pen to paper" straight away.
I've written this three chapter AU ficlette after three songs on the album, this part "No Surrender" is inspired by the song 'White Flag'; Part Two "Learning to Buy" is inspired by the song 'Life for Rent' and Part Three "Don't Leave" comes from the song 'Don't Leave Home'.
A very special thank you to pax mundi, who – as always – is my guiding light and keeps me on the right path. If you haven't already seen them, please have a look at the two great stories he's currently working on; "Boy on the Mall" and "The Principal in the Man" – you have a treat in store!
Hope you enjoy this little word triptych, and if you don't know the songs, try and have a listen – it's a great album.
Disclaimer: The only thing I own is my soul, and I even lend that out on occasion, but only if you ask nice. Anything that even looks familiar in this story probably belongs to someone else (except the actual story - that's all mine, Mine, MINE [*maniacal laughter*]!)
Part One: No Surrender
Part One: No Surrender
I know you think that I shouldn't still love you, or tell you that.
But if I didn't say it, well I'd still have felt it - where's the sense in that?
I promise I'm not trying to make your life harder, or return to where we were
The words hung between them.
"I love you."
Forget that he tried to deflect their magnitude with the "Atta girl" comment. Forget that she, hurt and confused by his prevarication, went along with it, even seemed to embrace it with her "Atta boy" comeback. Even a bumpy ride in Caroline's dog of a car couldn't dislodge the lump in each of their throats. Words were stuck there, unable to be let out and aired. There was so much left unsaid, it hurt to hold it in. They went on as if the words hadn't been spoken, but inside Brennan was churning. Booth wished he could take them back and re-say them oh so differently. They were both slightly in shock.
I know I left too much mess and destruction to come back again
And I caused nothing but trouble I understand if you can't talk to me again
And if you live by the rules of "it's over" then I'm sure that that makes sense
I know I left too much mess and destruction to come back again
Brennan didn't see Booth until the next day, and when he next put in an appearance at the Jeffersonian he was as bright and breezy as usual. Swiping his card through the security unit, he bounded up onto the forensic platform.
"Bones? Where are you?" Brennan was drinking coffee in the lounge area, her elbows resting on the railing. She could see him on the platform below, bouncing from desk to desk, searching for her with quick glances left and right. He said something to Wendell that left Wendell doubled up with laughter. Next he swung over to Hodgins – she saw Hodgins shrug and shake his head. Booth frowned and gnawed at his thumbnail, looking for all the world like a small boy who knows he's in big trouble. Head down and hands in his pockets he left the platform more subdued than at his entrance, and turned away towards Brennan's office.
"Aren't you going to put him out of his misery and tell him you're up here?" Angela's stage whisper made Brennan jump. It also brought Booth's head up, but Brennan had already stepped back out of his line of sight. He saw Angela there and walked over until he was directly below them.
"Hey, Angela, you seen Bones?" Angela gave him a wide smile of welcome and opened her mouth to tell him to come right up, but a quick glance at Brennan made the words dry up on her lips. Brennan's eyes had widened and she looked like a bunny caught in the headlights of an oncoming SUV. She gave a tiny shake of her head, and Angela took the hint. She leaned onto the railing and sent Booth a huge grin.
"No idea, gorgeous. Want me to tell her you want her?" This last was said tongue-in-cheek, with heavy emphasis on the last three words. For good effect, Angela shot him a lewd wink.
Booth just grinned and shook his head, "Don't you ever give up?"
"Not when something's staring me in the face, G-man." Booth frowned again, raising his hand to her in a distracted farewell. He hesitated, then redirected his steps to Brennan's office again. Angela looked over to the platform where Hodgins had been watching the exchange. He mouthed, "What's going on?" but Angela could only shake her head slowly, puzzlement written in her expression.
Angela spun around to face her friend, a crooked smile on her face. "What was that all about, sweetie? Trouble in Paradise?" She quizzed facetiously, "You usually drop everything when Booth calls." She ignored Brennan's defensive "I do not!" and went on "C'mon, give." She stood with her arms crossed over her chest, waiting for Brennan to speak. When it was obvious that Brennan was not going to offer any explanation, Angela went to her and casually placed an arm over her shoulder.
"Everything okay Bren?" There was real concern in Angela's voice now. Brennan was the sort of person that met problems head on – she never usually baulked at going to head to head with Booth on any subject, in fact she seemed to thrive on it.
"Everything's fine, Ange." Her eyes slid away from Angela's penetrating look. "Really, there's nothing wrong."
"Then why are you up here hiding from Booth?" Brennan pulled away from her embrace, moving to place her empty coffee cup on the tray so that there was some distance between them.
"I'm not hiding! I'm just … choosing not to interact with Booth at the moment."
Angela studied her friend consideringly; something was wrong, but she couldn't put her finger on it. Brennan's eyes were shuttered, almost as if she were hiding something, but that was so out of character that Angela frowned, her relationship radar starting to hum. Weirdness was in the air, she was sure of that. "Have you two had a fight or something?"
Brennan's denial was instant, "No! Nothing like that. I just don't see the need for Booth and me to live parallel lives all the time." Angela was perplexed at this turn of events, but knew Brennan would not appreciate being grilled on the subject just now; she recognised all too well the stubborn expression that had settled on Brennan's features. It would have to wait until Brennan was ready to talk. Angela gave her friend a quick hug and left her to it. Whatever the problem was, she knew that she and Booth would be missing each other; they were so used to – what did Bren say? – 'living parallel lives' now. When Angela got to the top of the stairs, she turned and looked back. Her heart constricted as she watched her friend.
Brennan had moved cautiously back to the hand rail, scanning the forensic platform and the surrounding area. Suddenly she froze – she'd spotted him – and Angela observed the way she followed his progress out of the forensics area with what could only be described as hunger.
And when we meet (which I'm sure we will)
All that was there will be there still
I'll let it pass and hold my tongue
And you will think that I've moved on....
And when we meet (which I'm sure we will)
"Bones. What are you doing here? Were you coming to see me?" Booth's words made her jump. She had an appointment to see Caroline Julian, but the outspoken lawyer was running late. Brennan had decided to grab a coffee while she was waiting, hoping that by remaining in the staff lounge her presence in the Hoover Building wouldn't attract any attention. She'd run into Charlie on her way in, and knew from him that Booth was in the building, but not in his office. She had sought the sanctuary of the lounge, reasonably confident that an accidental meeting with Booth was unlikely, as he mostly preferred to get take out coffee. His appearance beside her now was unexpected, but something that she should have prepared herself for.
Brennan eyed him warily, not really knowing what to expect. His expression was pleasantly bland, a half smile shaping his mouth, but Brennan thought she recognised a hint of sadness cross his face, although she couldn't be sure. Her eyes skittered away from his guiltily. She concentrated on her coffee, playing for time to get her thoughts in order.
"Hey, Booth. Caroline Julian wants to go over my report in the Massachusetts case. She's running late." She paused, awkward in the knowledge that normally she would have sought him out and hung out in his office while she was waiting.
"Oh, right." Booth replied quietly, turning away to add water to some pot noodles he was heating.
"How are you?" She blurted out. Brilliant conversationalist as usual, she chided herself, unconsciously chewing the inside of her bottom lip.
"I'm fine, fine. You?" He placed the container in the microwave to nuke it and Brennan watched his hands in fascination as he calmly performed this task.
Booth set the microwave going, and turned to face her. An uncomfortable silence billowed up between them, neither willing to be the first to break it. Casting sideways glances at each other, they tried to ignore the change in their dynamics. The unsettling discomfiture they were feeling was alien to their relationship. Brennan opened her mouth to say something, but no words came. She looked up at Booth, who apparently had had the same thought. They stared at each other open mouthed.
"You two just startin' somethin' or just finishin' somethin'?" Caroline's honeyed tones cut into their reverie, startling both of them into action. Booth busied himself with the microwave, while Brennan drained her mug of over brewed coffee, pulling a face as the bitter dregs registered on her tongue.
"If you two have finished makin' goo goo eyes at each other, I do believe Dr Brennan and I have some quality time scheduled. C'mon cher, I may not be as pretty as Agent Booth, but I'm just as much fun!" Caroline gave them both a pointed look from under her brows, then turned on her heel and headed towards the meeting room.
"I – ah – I'd better get going." Brennan stammered, oddly reluctant to leave.
Booth didn't turn around, but merely half turned his head towards her, saying over his shoulder, "Yeah, sure thing. See you later." He felt her stand there for a long moment, before her footsteps signalled her departure. When he was sure she was long gone, he let his shoulders sag, resting his forehead against the cupboard door. 'This is too hard' he thought disconsolately.
I will go down with this ship
And I won't put my hands up and surrender
There will be no white flag above my door
I'm in love and always will be
Brennan had given up trying to concentrate at around six, deciding that she may as well pack up and go home. Tentatively she held the back of her hand to her forehead to check her temperature as she'd seen other people do sometimes. Everything within normal parameters there, as far as she could tell, although how anyone could depend on such an inexact method of collecting data, she didn't know. She hesitated, wondering whether she should check her pulse rate … maybe she was coming down with something? She reproached herself silently for her foolishness. She was as healthy as a … whatsimathing, and she knew it.
Citing a publisher's deadline as an excuse, she'd turned down Angela's invitation to join the rest of the team for their usual Friday night drinks, when in reality she hadn't planned to work on her book at all this weekend. She just didn't have the energy to socialise with her peers, as much as she enjoyed their company. Flicking the office light off, she headed out, deciding to take the longer route through the main public foyer to the car park. She didn't examine her motives for this evasive action, merely told herself she needed the exercise the extra distance would supply.
As she entered the foyer from an internal hallway, the combined murmurings of a couple of hundred voices hit her like a wall of sound. Damn, she'd forgotten that the public opening of the new science and technology exhibition was scheduled for this evening. Moms and dads and kids wandered haphazardly around, enjoying a preview of the main event. Out of the cacophony, Brennan heard a familiar voice.
"Bones! Hey, wait up!"
"Booth?" Surprise brought her to an abrupt halt and she turned towards his voice. She met his eyes over the heads of several squealing children. "What are you doing here?" He squeezed his broad form sideways through the midst of a large family to get to her side.
"I brought Parker, he's been on me for about a month to bring him to this thing." Booth pointed towards the southern archway where the excited little boy was trying his best to disengage his hand from that of his mother. Brennan exchanged a stiff smile with Rebecca over the distance that separated them. She swung around to Booth, taken aback by the dull ache she felt at seeing them as a couple.
"Oh, I didn't realise – are you and Rebecca –?"
"What?" Booth followed Brennan's quick glance back at Rebecca, then screwed up his face comically, "No, don't be ridiculous. I picked Parker up from school to bring him here and Rebecca's taking him home." Brennan nodded at his explanation, her face impassive now, but her heart rate taking a few extra moments to settle back down to normal. Booth put his hands in his pockets, "I'm heading over to meet the squint squad at Founding Fathers after I finish up some overdue reports." When Brennan didn't speak, he went on, "What about you?"
She avoided replying, just gave him a noncommittal smile. She didn't understand why she was prevaricating like this. They stood for a few moments longer, not speaking, not looking at each other. The crowd parted around them as if they were one of the static displays. Abruptly Booth moved to stand directly in front of her, his proximity forcing her to look up at him.
"I'm not going to apologise for telling you how I feel." Booth kept his voice level, conscious of how easily they could be overheard. Brennan speared him with her eyes, not having any trouble understanding what he was referring to; it was on her mind as well. Indignation rose instantly to the top of her head.
"Apologise? You think I need an apology? You think you need to apologise?" She forced out the words through clenched teeth, keeping her voice low as he had. "This is why I didn't want - " She couldn't finish the sentence, deeply hurt that he had misjudged her so completely. How could he think she'd be offended by what he'd said? She turned abruptly on her heel and started to walk away, incapable of dealing with the mixture of feelings she was experiencing. Booth put his hand on the crook of her arm, a light touch meant to stall her leaving, but she shrugged it off and powered, head down, towards the exit. He called her name but didn't try to follow. Just as quickly as she'd fired up, she stopped, dropping her head, ashamed at her behaviour. She looked back at him uncertainly. A lone figure in a sea of movement, Booth stood stock still, staring at the ground. He radiated sadness, looking for all the world like he'd just lost his best friend, which of course was what he thought had just happened. Before she had a chance to go back to him, a small blonde bundle of energy rammed into his legs, breaking his reverie.
"Dad, come and have a look at all this cool stuff. There's lights that turn blue when you hold your hand over them, and you can blow down this tube thing and it makes a weird sound, and all these marbles start jumping up and down, and - "
"Whoa, buddy, slow down." He put his hand on his son's curly head, his eyes scanning the crowd for Brennan. He saw her standing by the entrance doors, watching him. She held up a hand in farewell and gave him a little wave, her tentative smile offering an apology. He returned the smile, not able to resist her olive branch. He knew her well enough now to understand her need to distance herself whenever emotions were involved. He saw her stance relax a little. Another quick wave, a wider smile and she was gone.
Parker had watched this exchange with interest. He tugged on the hem of his dad's jacket to get his attention.
"Dr Bones looked sad." He observed.
"Yeah, buddy, I guess she is sad." Booth took his son's hand and led him towards Rebecca, who he'd spotted stationed by elevator doors, searching the sea of faces for her son. She caught sight of them and shook her head in mock desperation.
"Were you mean to her?" Once Parker had decided he needed to know something, he wouldn't let it go.
Booth laughed without humour "No, not really. But maybe I said something that she didn't want to hear."
"I think you should tell Dr Bones you're sorry she's sad."
"Out of the mouths of babes." Booth said under his breath.
"Huh?" Parker didn't understand.
"That's good advice, buddy. C'mon here's your mom."