As predicted, the first thing Booth heard after exiting the shower was the sound of liquid spilling onto his tiled kitchen floor followed quickly by Parker's harsh, "Dang it!" Hastily running the bath towel across his lower half and once through his hair, he tugged on a pair a boxers and hurried out of his bed and bathroom.
"Kiddo, I could have sworn that I fed you dinner last night. Now I feel bad that you went to bed starved and were so hungry that you couldn't wait for me to get up for some breakfast."
Parker flipped around, startled and disappointed that he didn't get to finish before his dad woke up. He wiped the chocolate chips that had stuck to his fingers from Bisquick and milk on the back of his pajama pants. "It was supposed to be a surprise," he said, giving his father a sheepish smile (one his Mom said was identical to the elder Booth's). "I've been practicing and everything at Mom's house."
"Well, well, let's see how they've turned out, Bobby Flay." Booth quipped. His eyes took in the disaster zone that was now his counter. He nearly had a heart attack at the sight of the sizzling waffle maker.
The young boy followed his father's gaze. "I'll clean it up!" He rushed to say, grabbing the nearest towel – half soaked, half crusted over with batter – and swiping the bits and pieces of cooking ingredients into the trash. He then dropped the towel into the laundry basket that already contained an egg soaked sock that was behind him. Hopping on one foot to add his other sock to the pile, he asked, "Who is Bobby Flay?"
For a second, Booth was stunned. Yes, the voice was different. And yes, the facial expression wasn't quite right. Yet… the quizzical, intrigued tone was dead on. His son was turning into a squint. He knew he had it bad when Bones had invaded his life so much that it was even reflected in his kid.
Booth shook his head to clear it before walking to open the waffle iron. "He's a chef on TV," he said, whistling at the perfect golden breakfast food. "These look really good, Bub."
"I'm not a little kid anymore, Dad. I can make breakfast." Booth shot him a look and he quickly dropped the pre-teen angst. "Happy Birthday!" He cheered, offering up a plate in forgiveness.
They made short work of the towering stack of waffles, trailing the sticky mess from the kitchen into the dining room. It was startling for Booth to realize that his son wasn't little, and wouldn't be considered a kid much longer. Soon Parker would be a young adult, making Booth truly an old man. But he'd enjoy these small moments he still had, before Parks started being more concerned with chasing girls than making breakfast for his father. He never liked the civil but sometimes vindictive tug-o-war him and Rebecca constantly found themselves in, and hated being a part-time father.
"What else are you doing for your birthday?" Parker asked as he constructed a smiley face out of syrup on his fourth (or was it fifth?) waffle.
Making a big show of swallowing the rest of his food before answering… as Pop's always said, 'monkey see, monkey do.' "Bones wants to make me dinner."
"Like with cake and ice cream?"
He laughed. "I don't know, maybe."
"Like a date?"
Booth wondered why kids never thought something was something, only that it was like something. "Probably not."
"Why? You should ask Dr. Bones out."
Choking, he banged on his chest to dislodge what had gone down the wrong pipe. "Chief, we talked about this."
"It isn't about the pool." Parker said, oblivious to his father's discomfort. "She likes you."
Booth scrubbed his hand down his face, not sure if he was about to take relationship advice from someone who didn't even have hair under their armpits yet. "Why do you think that?"
"She smiles at you a bunch when you aren't looking. Can I have the last waffle?" He explained as if it was no big deal and he didn't just announce that Bones stared at him.
"Let's split it."
"Thanks," he plunged his fork down the middle and continued. "She fights with you a lot too, but not real fighting. It's like the way Audrey does with Michael G at school so he'll pay attention to her."
"Umm…" he was at a loss.
"And you looooove Dr. Bones," he carried on with a grin. "You mumble her name in your sleep. A lot."
"Okay Park, I think that's enough." Booth grumbled. It was news to him that he talked in his sleep. The only saving grace was that his son had said mumble and not moans.
There was a moment of silence before Parker jumped up with his plate and ran into the kitchen. "Dr. Bones and Daddy sitting in a tree, K – I – S – S – I – N – G."
Booth wanted to be mad, but he couldn't quite muster it. Grabbing his son, he tossed him over his shoulder. "You think you're funny, don't cha," he asked tickling his ribs.
"First comes loves," he squealed in between laughs.
Tickling him in the spot that made him squirm more than a twitchy-legged dog, Booth said, "I know someone who should stop singing."
"Never!" Parker took in deep gulps of air to try to catch his breath to say, "Then comes marriage!"
"Never is a long time, Son." Booth advised bouncing up the stairs, hoping he didn't throw out his back or end up with waffle sick all over him.
"THEN COMES THE BABY IN THE BABY CARRIAGE!"
Okay, so maybe he did have a few more good years left of his kid still being a kid.
When Booth first became the Bureau's liaison for the Jeffersonian, he never thought that he would get used to looking at dead bodies in such a scientific manner. He felt that one of the essential components of being human was that one never got accustom to death of their fellow man. It always affected you – he had learned that early on in life as a sniper. Yet, it wasn't until he had been introduced to the squint squad that his experience with the deceased had anything to do with the actual body. In the army it was about setting, timing, and loyalty. At the FBI it was about whom that person knew and what their life was like. His comfort zone was analyzing all of the little invisible nuances of a person, the soul of them. He never knew that that the bare bones of that soul could tell you just as much.
But that was then. Now, an autopsy was as standard as an interrogation. A new routine had been set. Catch a case, breeze into the Jeffersonian, tip his head to the security guard, swipe his access ID, bound up the stairs to the platform, talk with the squints, take shit from Cam or Angela on occasion, find his partner, nail the bad guy, feed said partner over paperwork. Easy. Rinse. Repeat.
His footsteps were already echoing across the lap and up the stairs even before the indicator light on the card reader had turned from red to green. A ghostly looking body was laid out on the table. A male, he thought, or a really big woman. Probably a drowning victim too, he guessed, on account of the grayish blue tint to the skin. See Bones, he mused to himself, sometimes you don't need to squint as the pelvis and tissue aspirations. He swung his gaze over to Hodgins who was occupied in feeding dirt into a jar of bugs. Dirt. Bugs. Not particulates and Latin species names.
"G-Man," Hodgins said, screwing on the lid of the jar and popping his latex gloves off. "Happy birthday." An envelope was thrown in the agent's direction.
Booth had a small inclination of what the present was since his gift from the bug and slime guy was the same shape and size as it had been last year. Already grinning, he flipped up the lip of the envelope and pulled out two flexible pieces of cardstock. "Hey, Redskin season tickets!" He clapped Hodgins on the shoulder, "You didn't have to do that man."
"Dude, you saved my butt in the car. What I gave you was little more than paper. Even if it wasn't exactly my bod you were killing yourself to save, I still owe you my life."
"Name you and Angela's firstborn Seeley and we'll call it even." He waved the tickets in the air for a second before slapping them against his palm. "This, however, is too much."
Deciding not to comment on the real implication of the statement, Hodgins couldn't help but laugh. "You've met Ange, right? Her middle name is Pearly Gates for Pete's sake. No way would she name her child after someone. It's going to be pronounced Nebula or Pilyape or something else that would surely get the poor thing's ass kicked." He shook his head, weary of the other possibilities. "And you take me to most of the games anyway. The gift was self serving." Although the conspiracy theorist loathed to be known for his family's lavish wealth, he never hesitated to bestow money on presents. He knew that Booth was, like Dr. B often pointed out, a proud alpha male. He had a hard time accepting anything of value from anyone. That's why Hodgins gave him (cue inner Godfather voice) an offer he couldn't refuse… the temptation of front row season tickets.
The beep beep of the security system announced a third presence joining them on the platform. Booth turned to see Angela with a megawatt smile stretched across her lips and a striped bag dangling from her fingers. "Happy birthday, Mr. Present," she greeted in a saucy Marylyn Monroe impression.
"You know, my birthday was never this much fun as a kid." Booth said. Actually, his birthday was a certifiable crap chute when he was younger so it gave almost anything the advantage toward awesome.
Angela handed him the bag, "Well let's see if we can surpass Christmas and birthday all in one go. I have to say that there is some pretty awesome stuff in there."
Booth reached his hand in and was at first confused when it hit soft fur. Tilting his head, the tissue paper crinkled as he withdrew a plush toy animal. "Oh, not funny," he deadpanned.
"Come on, a silver fox for a silver fox. His name is Bastienian." Behind her, Hodgins attempted to stifle his laughter and tossed Booth a look that clearly stated I told you so. She shot the bug man a glare before turning back to Booth. "Keep going, there's more."
Next came a very nicely framed photo of Parker that she must have taken while she watched his son on the day he was determined to find his old man a girlfriend since he was covered in face paint. There was also a packing tube wrapped like a piece of candy that he opened to reveal a caricature she had done. He whistled, impressed. "It's amazing, Ange. This little baby will be hung in my office tomorrow." The drawing was of him, Jared, and Parker with their bodies in the form of bottles. His label was Booth while Jared was Booth Lite and Parker as Mini Root Booth.
The artist took a small bow. "Thank you, thank you. Hold your applause please." She smiled at Booth, taking a half-step toward him to nudge shoulders. "Actually, I should really be thanking you. It's been a long time that I worked on something that wasn't a reconstruction. I didn't realize how much I had missed the subject of the living. But, enough about me. It's your day and I think you'll lurve what's left in there."
If Booth had been confused by the stuffed fox, then he was positively puzzled to find a receipt when he had opened up the little white box buried at the bottom of the bag. He held the slip of paper up to read, blinked, then looked again. His first thought was that he should be outraged about Angela's such blatant disregard for one's privacy. However, he couldn't stand to really be mad at her since he knew that her intentions and heart were in the right place. Plus it was a true test to her abilities at being able to make it seem like the room had risen ten degrees and his clothes suddenly feel restrictive with such simple black text.
The paper in question was a credit card receipt for a one T. Brennan from a small boutique downtown called Tres Belle. Unlike most lingerie shops that had cheesy giveaway names as to what exactly it was that they sold, Tres Belle was a high end place that sold an array of women's wear but was most well known for their intimate apparel department. And according to what he held in his hand: Bones had purchased a lilac silk robe, a sheer babydoll in vintage wine, two sweetheart blouses, an aquamarine nightie, ruby stilettos, three lace bras - Booth swallowed, his throat dry as the Sahara - and a bustier with several sets of lace boyshorts.
"Alright what gives," Hodgins asked at the way Booth was had tensed and seemed to be sweating. Sure signs of a man on edge. "Is the paper a signed promise from Dr. B saying that she would give him a lap dance or something?"
"Close actually," Angela smirked. "Receipt from the little shopping spree Brennan and I had at TB the other day."
"Woah ho, dude!" He laughed, amused at the way the partners in crime seemed to want to stretch the sexual tension like a rubber band on the cusp of breaking. "And Ange, so devious," he added appreciatively.
"Yep, normally I have to drag her there. But Monday afternoon she showed up at my office asking if I wanted to go with her after work."
Booth's head jerked up. Monday. "I'm going find Bones." He announced, marching toward her office.
"She's not there." Angela said offhandedly, still cracking up with Hodgins about the last surprise. "She went home."
As if he were still in the army, Booth came to a solid stop before pivoting on his heal in one smooth step to retreat back to the platform. "She went home? When?"
"Took a half day, said she had something important to do."
Although her words were casual, Angela had that sparkle in her eyes that stated she knew exactly what was going on. Bones never took half days. "I gotta go," Booth muttered distractedly, placing the envelope from Hodgins in the other gift bag with his movements on autopilot.
He was halfway across the lab floor when Cam came out of her office. "Oh hey, stay right there. I have a present for you." She started to twist to go get it from her desk but she stopped when he breezed past her as if she was merely air.
"Gotta go, Cam. Thanks." He uttered, never breaking his stride and disappearing from view as the security doors swished closed behind him.
Crossing her arms, Cam looked up at the two on the platform. "Do I want to know that explanation?"
Snapping back on his gloves, Hodgins said, "Dr. B took a half day."
"She's cooking the birthday boy dinner," Angela grinned.
A smug smile came over Cam. "Ah. Should I collect my winnings from the pool now or later?"
You know how sometimes you get home and have no recollection of the drive there? One minute Booth was leaving the Jeffersonian, and the next he was walking up steps to his landing. His surroundings were a muted blur yet he was hyperaware. All the fine hairs on his arms and the back of his neck stood on end. And his gut… well his gut knew. The force between him and Bones had become undeniable.
It seemed that the fates were finally smiling on him to have a spectacular birthday. After all, Bones said she had a promise to deliver on. Every time the thought of it, his pulse jumped.
He snorted to himself. Just your pulse?
Alright he was more revved than a fine oiled engine. He was firing in all cylinders, and his heart was way beyond overdrive. NASCAR, Indy 500, warp speed was a bit more on mark.
He loosened his tie with one hand while the other filled the cup from the edge of the sink full of water from the bathroom faucet. His shoes, socks, and suit jacket had been lost somewhere in the vicinity of his bed. He downed the glass in two gulps before filling it again. This time he went slower, consciously trying to calm himself. Ohmmmm, he mentally hummed, breaking off into a chuckle. The laugher helped, and he was able to think again.
Knowing that Bones had taken a half day - something that was unfathomable to him until now - in preparation for his birthday dinner was big. With the added fact of her shopping excursion on Monday, it appeared like she was covering all the bases. He didn't want to get his hopes up since going in without expectations detoured being disappointed. But at worst, it seemed coincidental and Bones would just happen to be wearing sexy new undies when they sat down for dinner. And at best, it seemed that she was trying to seduce him. Either option was satisfying to entertain.
And both scenarios point at signs to a great night. Glancing in the mirror, Booth rubbed his hand over his five o'clock shadow. When a lovely woman takes off work to cook you dinner, one should shave. Yet… he couldn't get himself to reach for the razor.
He knew that Bones could explain the many anthropological reasons why, but he didn't need the historical mumbo jumbo. She could balk at his alpha male tendencies until her heart was content. He knew better. On the mornings he was rushed and didn't have time to shave, he could feel her laser like eyes feast upon his jaw line in the SVU. She tried to be subtle, sure, about as subtle as Bones could be at least. But, it was hard for someone who part of their job was to read people's body language not notice the way her gaze said her flawless skin was itching to be roughed up by his manliness.
Booth smirked at himself in the mirror. Bones may want to seduce him a little, and maybe he wanted to seduce her a little too.
He was out the door forty five minutes later, after having taken a shower, changed, and put away clean dishes from the dishwasher. He didn't want to seem too eager by arriving at her apartment well before dinnertime, but he also felt like a schmuck puttering around his apartment stalling for time. He stopped off at the specialty grocery store a few blocks away from her place where she got her organic vegetables and soy milk to grab a bottle of the wine he knew she liked. Pop's advice still rang true – never show up to a gal's home empty handed. Though he was tempted by the selection of fresh flowers near the check out, he feared it would scare her off and do more harm than good.
When Booth did finally knock on her door, it was a quarter after seven. Although he had a short pep-talk to himself before getting out of the car as a reminder that it was only dinner, he was not prepared for what he saw when she swung open the door. He had seen Bones dressed to the nines at Jeffersonian gala events and he had seen her fishing remains out of various sludge filled places, yet somehow the soft look in front of him tugged at his heart strings most of all.
Her dress was a coral pink halter made out of some fabric that hugged her hips before flaring out to brush faintly below her knees. The blue gingham apron splotched with flour covering it gave her a fifties look. Considering he couldn't recall her ever wearing nail polish, her bare feet topped with pink as well seemed oddly intimate for something so innocent. He could tell she was wearing eye liner but otherwise was devoid of make-up. The heat from the oven seemed to the culprit for the flush in her cheeks rather than any manufactured blush. The earrings peeking out from behind her slightly curled hair used to be her mother's. He knew because the one he saved from New Orleans she always put in her left ear though he never asked why.
"Booth?" she asked, a curious smile on her face. They hadn't established a time for their dinner, but he was earlier than she expected. And she could feel the weight of his gaze as it roamed across her body.
As his gaze jerked away from the only other piece of jewelry she was wearing, a drop pendant necklace dangling enticingly close to her cleavage, his eyes met her amused ones.
"Hi honey, I'm home."
First things first, I'm uber uber uber sorry that it's taken so long for an update. I'm horrible! A new chap of Dead of Night should be coming soon as well. I'm going to respond to all of you lovelies who have reviewed (shout out to the lurkers as well!) and I'm sorry in advance if you hear from me twice since I have forgotten who I've responded to already. There is only one maybe two more chapters of this. And the finale? Gah! That makes me want to start a story on it but I'm thinking that would be a bad idea on account on my updatage skills. :D As always, lemme know whatcha think.