A.N.: Well, you got to me. So here I am, setting my life aside, once again, because I can't stop thinking about new things those two should get a chance to do and say... *sigh*
Man! I can't believe, somewhere out there, people are getting PAID to do this. Lucky bastards.
Cheers! And here's to another journey with you, amazing reviewers!
The BURDEN OF PROOF: " – is the obligation to shift the assumed conclusion away from an oppositional opinion to one's own position. It can only be fulfilled by evidence."
Semper necessitas probandi incumbit ei qui agit
- The burden of proof always lies upon the claimant
THIS IS NOT AN ACCUSATION
The Founding Fathers was unusually quiet tonight, a fact that the partners welcomed with open arms. After the day they had just had, a quiet evening drinking was really all they could handle.
"I can't believe it was him all along!" she said, exhausted. "You interrogated him five times and it never occurred to you he might be the killer."
"Are you saying I suck?" Booth checked, inwardly agreeing with her.
"Hardly. I'm saying he was really good. In a really bad way."
"No. You're right. I suck."
She tilted her head while he drank from his beer, eyes drifting around.
"His motive was skimpy, at best," he explained. "He didn't have to... I never thought he was the type of guy to just go off like that, no reason. But I should have seen it."
By the way he was staring at it now, his glass seemed quite interesting. Brennan bit her lips.
"You used to say people were run by their emotions. You didn't try to find the rationality behind their actions. Maybe you should..."
"Are you about to give me advice, Bones?"
"I just think you should stop with the logic thing. You're not cut out for it."
"Yeah, ok, I know. You've told me plenty of times already that I'm not a genius."
"This has nothing to do with intelligence, Booth. You should reconcile with your gut."
"Reconcile with my gut?" he laughed. That was one sentence he never thought he'd hear her say. Ever.
They locked eyes. She took permission to dig a little bit, to figure out what was going on.
"What happened to you? You're... different."
"People change. They adapt. Isn't that what you always say? An inevitable inevitability or something like that."
She didn't even point out his redundancy. She knew he was doing it on purpose.
"I'd rather you didn't change. Too much," she confessed, rotating her glass between her fingers.
"Because it's making you anxious and full of acid reflux?"
She squinted her eyes at him.
"Are you making fun of me?"
"See?" he laughed, raising a hand. "You're changing, too! You used to be oblivious when people made fun of you."
"People made fun of me?"
His hand found her forearm on the table without him having to look for it.
"I'm just teasing," he said, comforting.
She set her empty glass aside, sighing. She was wiped.
"Want some more wine?" he asked her.
She shook her head.
"I shouldn't. Got an early day tomorrow."
She grabbed her purse and took out her wallet, but Booth stopped her.
"It's on me," he said.
"Thanks. Hey, do you think we drink too much?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean... we're always here. Maybe we have a problem."
Booth's laugh resonated through her. She felt warm.
"Aw, come on, Bones, just because you have one glass of wine every night with your friend doesn't mean you're an alcoholic."
A wave ran through them both. Sorely familiar. Yet neither of them could remember ever uttering those words. So they ignored it, after frowning to themselves for a quick second.
"Well..." She knew she had to leave, but she was stuck in place, her coat hanging on her forearm, shifting on her feet.
"I'll see you tomorrow?" he asked, as he always did.
"Yes." Her gaze still on him, it was clear he had no intention on walking her to her car. "You're staying?"
He nodded. "Cam said she might drop by later."
She faked a smile as best as she could. She had stopped trying a while ago to figure out why her stomach turned slightly every time he shared a case-closed moment with others, without her.
"Ok, then." ... "Goodnight."
We should stop staring, now.
She mindlessly made sure she hadn't forgotten anything. Those goodbyes they exchanged ever day were getting weirder and weirder. Softer. Lingering and deep. Weird.
She didn't run out. But she was out quickly.
And now... Just a few more conclusion words... I am... and his report would be complete. Done. Booth stretched his arms over his head. Finally! When you decide to become a cop, no one ever tells you that more than half the work is made of paperwork. He closed his eyes, looking forward to getting out of his suit.
"Booth, I'm sorry to bother you. Do you have a minute?"
Eyes still closed, Booth refrained from sighing. His jaw clenched, but he tried to calm down. It would not be a great career move to tell him to go to hell.
"Sure. What can I do for you, boss?"
Hacker came in and shut the glass door behind him.
Great. More Bones talk.
"I thought maybe you could enlighten me on what Temperance's tastes are, flower-wise."
Like he was going to tell him.
"How would I know?"
Hacker just raised an eyebrow. Come on.
Booth took a deep breath. This had gone on for too long, already.
"Sir... I would appreciate it if you would stop using me as your inside man. And let me out of it."
Andrew just laughed. Annoyingly.
"Come on, Booth! You two are like... inseparable. I couldn't let you out of it if I wanted to. Sometimes I feel like I'm dating a married woman!"
Then, don't date her!
The assistant director understood Booth was not going to help. Which brought up the question again.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Why didn't you ever make a move on her? As a reformed gambler, I would assume you'd like the challenge." Though it wouldn't be a very tough challenge.
Booth frowned, almost disgusted.
"Bones is not someone you just give it a shot with. She needs someone who calls her out on her crap. Someone who's sure to never let her go. She's not a prize in a..." Deep breath, pal. Calm down.
Hacker didn't want Booth to get the wrong impression.
"I didn't mean to imply anything like that. I was just curious as to why you two never got together. Because... If you're afraid of going against FBI regulations..."
"It's nothing like that, sir." And I'm not discussing this with you.
"Well... Alright, then."
And turned around to leave. But just before he stepped out, Booth said,
"Daffodils. Or daisies. You can't go wrong with either of those."
There was no reason why Bones couldn't get the flowers she deserved.
"I'm gonna tell her," Booth told Cam as soon as she sat down.
"Tell who what?"
"Bones. I'm gonna tell her how I feel."
Cam's face suddenly changed. Booth knew that look. Disapprobation. Again.
"What?" he sighed.
"Just..." Cam sat up straighter. She loved him dearly. She didn't want to see him run into a wall. "Are you sure she's ready?"
"Well... she admitted she believed in love. How much more ready can she get?" he asked.
"That's good," Cam said, impressed. "But is she ready to believe you?"
"What do you mean?"
"You've been partners for over 4 years. And all of a sudden, you're in love with her?"
"There's nothing sudden about it, believe me," he mumbled.
"To you, maybe. And to all of us. But to her? It will come out of the blue."
"I'm running out of options here, Cam." He was not going to let anyone scare him into going back into hiding. "I'm just gonna put myself out there and let her process everything. As long as it takes." After 5 or 6 beers, he was bound to have a little confidence.
"Oh, so you're gonna give her time to rationalize everything? Good plan," she sarcastically put it.
Booth sighed and wiped his tired face with his hand.
"I have to do something," he said. "Hacker is not going anywhere."
Cam snorted. Hacker.
"You seriously worried about him?" she asked, trying to resist the peanuts in the basket in front of them.
"Nah!" he laughed off, fumbling with a coaster. "He just annoys me."
But Cam read through him. "Well, I wouldn't worry, if I were you," she reassured him.
"Why? What did you hear?"
Booth was pretending to be casual. Pretending not to care.
"That he was nice and easy going," she said.
"I'm nice and easy going..." he said.
Cam put a friendly hand on his back.
"You don't say that a man is nice if you want to sleep with him."
He had spent all his time and energy trying to help her open up so she could let someone -him- in. What if he had succeeded, broken into her hard exterior, so she could let someone –not him- in?
"What if you tell her you don't want her to date him?" Cam continued.
Booth frowned. He couldn't do that. Could he?
"She'll do what you ask of her. You might not even have to justify any of it."
It was worth a shot, wasn't it?
Brennan readjusted the strap of her messenger bag on her shoulder. That bag, heavy with... nonsense. Nonsense that she had to share. She knocked one more time.
"Bones! What are you doing here?" he asked, holding the door open.
"I had to drop this by," she said, shoving her bag in his hands and pushing him out of the way to enter. "There's a copy for you in there."
She stopped in her track. Booth's apartment was full of cigar smoke. Then, she saw them. Three men, sitting in the living room, staring at her. She turned to Booth.
"Who are these men?" she asked, just above a whisper.
Booth set her bag down, next to the door.
"These are my friends, Bones."
"I didn't know you had friends," she let out, surprised.
Booth frowned and laughed.
"Or course I have friends! What, do you think I'm a..."
"No, I mean... Why haven't I ever met them?"
His smile softened.
"Bones, this is the guys. Guys, this is Bones."
One of the guys got up and shook her hand.
"Tony. Nice to finally meet you. No wonder Booth wanted to keep you to himself."
She caught a glimpse of Booth shaking his head.
"Nice to meet you too, Tony."
"You wanna join us? Watch the game?" one of them asked.
"A game of what?" she inquired, approaching the couch.
But Booth took her by the shoulders.
"Bones was just leaving."
"No. I just arrived," she corrected him.
"Maybe some other time," he continued, spinning her around. "Come on." And he guided her to the door.
Brennan was a little disappointed. Why wouldn't Booth let her stay and meet his friends? She thought she had improved a lot in social situations. She was way less 'awkward', as he liked to put it. Was he still embarrassed by her?
Booth took his time before taking his hands off of her shoulders. He wanted her to stay. But those guys... He didn't need one of them to spill his secret before he'd had a chance to tell her first. And one of them was bound to cross that line for them. Not a good idea.
"Your friends are really handsome," she pointed out.
Booth's frown grew deeper. She didn't really notice and continued.
"I'm surprised. Usually, alpha-males tend to surround themselves with individuals who are less attractive than they are to insure their status."
Booth was almost grimacing now.
"You think Tony's more attractive than I am?" he couldn't help but ask.
"No! You still..." she quickly replied, but then stopped herself. "What?"
She saw him stand taller.
"You know, Tony's not the most... uhm... he dates a lot. He's not that reliable. Plus, he has two ex-wives. That's a lot of baggage. You don't want to... uhm... He's not a guy you want in your life."
It was Brennan's turn to frown.
"He's your friend. Don't you like him?"
"I'm not talking about me. Bones..."
Here was his chance. This was the moment where he had to ask her, gently and subtly –but not too subtly- to stop dating his boss.
"Maybe you should enlarge your dating pool a little," he stated. That came out wrong.
"My dating pool?" She was lost.
"Yeah! You know. The guys you date. It's like you're doing it on purpose."
"What did I do?" she asked, a hint of panic in her voice.
"What's with you and my entourage? First Sully..."
He hadn't meant to go that way back. But there.
She interrupted him with an accusing finger.
"He asked you first and you said you were ok with it."
He ignored her.
"It was one evening! We barely even... Plus, he's getting married."
"Then, you went out with my boss! My boss, Bones!"
"So what?" she retorted on the defensive. "You dated my boss, too."
"How is it different?"
"I met her first," he blurted out.
She took the time to close her mouth who was hanging open, shocked, before she opened it again.
"Oh. So... that's the rule now? We can date whomever we meet first?"
Booth kept silent. This had gotten out of hand. Arguing with her required a lot more preparation if you wanted any slight chance of winning. He sighed.
"Just to be clear," she recapitulated. "You don't want me to date anyone you know?"
"I'd prefer you didn't," he admitted.
She raised her eyebrows and shrugged.
"You know a lot of people, Booth. You want me to move to another state, maybe?"
"Just ignore what I said."
She stared at his shirt for a while. When she felt slightly calmer, she took her bag, which was near the door, and opened it.
"How would you feel if I started dating Angela?"
He had meant to give her an example. But maybe he should have just dropped it.
"Angela's great," she replied before thinking. "I..." But then, the mental images kicked in. God, no. "I get it," she realized, looking down. "It doesn't make any sense, but I understand. I'm sorry."
"And I wouldn't say I'm dating Andrew," she added, digging through her bag. "We're... socializing."
"Well, you better tell him, because he's convinced you are dating. How did you like the flowers, by the way?"
He hadn't realized his fists were clenched tightly. He tried to relax.
"I don't particularly like roses, but... Hold on. How did you know?"
Booth didn't even try to hide his smirk.
"Roses, huh?" Maybe he thought I was setting him up for a trap.
"Here," she said, handing him a big stack of paper she had taken out of her bag.
She didn't answer.
"Maybe you should go out," she suggested instead.
"With you?" he asked, like the moron he felt he was.
Brennan's heart skipped a beat or two. But she forced it back on track.
"What? No! Maybe the fact that your younger sibling is getting married before you is making you irritable. You could use a woman's company."
"A woman's company?" he repeated. He swallowed the hole she had punched in his gut. And he punched her back. "Thanks, Bones. I might just do that."
Still wondering what he was holding, he asked again.
"Sweets' book. He wants us to read it before it comes out."
"Did you already read it?"
She snorted sarcastically.
"Yes. And he is clearly deluded."
Booth nodded. She opened the door and turned one last time to him before heading out.
She bit her lips together before she had enough courage to ask.
"You won't date Angela, right?"
Booth laughed out loud.
"I won't date Angela."
And she was out.