A.N.: If you liked The Burden of Proof, you should like this one. Kind of the same spoiler induced speculation… Can't help myself! It should be shorter, though :)
THAT THING BETWEEN THEM
Booth had no idea what he had done wrong. All he knew was the nasty feeling that he had been walking on eggshells around her all day long.
"Are you ready?" he asked anyway.
"For what?" she replied, eyes still on the screen of her computer.
"For drinks. Like we always do!"
"I'm not going," she told him, without even a look.
Booth let his hands drop to his sides.
Brennan had had enough. Why would she want to put herself through another evening of stomach butterflies and longing stares, when she knew –it was pretty clear now- that nothing was ever going to happen? They were stagnant. Stuck. And she should have been happy with that. She loved their partnership. But she was starting to like it too much. It was becoming quite confusing and it made it really hard for her to enjoy dating other people. But it was easy for him apparently. So she had to take a step back. She just had to. For her sanity. For her logic.
"You're not?" he repeated, sinking into disappointment. "What's with you today?" he continued. "You're not yourself."
She frowned, annoyed.
"Oh. And who am I, then?"
He almost groaned, clenching his fists.
"You know, for a woman of science, you're annoyingly philosophical."
She turned back to the blank page in front of her.
"Well, maybe if you spoke clearly, I would understand you."
There. It would be easier if he was angry with her.
"And maybe if you paid a little more attention, I wouldn't need to be clearer."
Wanting to push his buttons some more, she missed to realize that she was pushing her own. As the words came out of her mouth, she swallowed their bitter taste.
"Call the marine biologist. She'll be more than happy to take…" She stopped herself just in time. Yes, she had been about to say 'take my place'. So wrong. "… take you out."
Booth snorted. Not the reaction she had expected. And she knew that noise meant he was just about to turn all this around on her. She shut her eyes in apprehension.
"Are you seriously mad at me because I'm dating Catherine?"
Her head spun towards him and she couldn't avoid the surprised look on her face.
"You're dating now? I thought you only had lunch."
"So you are mad at me," he nodded.
"Why would I be mad?" she spat out.
"I don't know, that's why I'm asking!"
"Well, I'm not mad. I don't care."
"Obviously," he mumbled.
"Plus, I'm having coffee with Andrew," she decided on the spot.
"Great!" Booth's voice was a little higher pitched than usual. "I hope you have a good time."
"We will. Thanks."
Booth left quickly. She closed her eyes and sighed. Great. Now she had to call Andrew to ask him for coffee if she didn't want to turn into a large chubby liar. Or was it big fat liar?
That man is unable to shut up. She mentally slapped herself. It wasn't Andrew's fault. She was just in a bad mood. She shouldn't be taking it out on him, even if only in her head.
"I meant to ask you," she said while he took a fry out of her plate without her permission. Stop judging him, Temperance. "Being the assistant director of the FBI, you have access to all federal databases, right?"
"Of course! I'm the Man!" he joked.
"So… If I were in need of some… information, let's say, you would probably be able to help me."
He seemed more than curious now.
"What kind of information?"
"Well, if I were to need some background information on someone…"
He started laughing. He dug into his jacket pocket and took out a pen. He took a napkin, ready to take notes, and asked,
"So who do you wanna check out? You're mailman? You're car dealer?"
She bit her lips, about to change her mind. But if Booth could do it, so could she. Right?
"Dr. Catherine Klein from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration."
Hacker started writing when it hit him.
"You want me to run a background check on Booth's new girlfriend?"
She ignored the pinching sensation in her chest.
"I don't think he's calling her his girlfriend… but… I just want to make sure he's… safe."
That made no sense. Booth was more than capable of taking care of himself. But… Giving him a social-contracting tie on the first date… Who does that?
"You two really are something," Hacker chuckled. "Is he checking out your dates, too?"
"I think he does." She realized her date was his boss' boss. She was about to get him in great trouble, wasn't she? "Not. Well… not you, of course. He wouldn't... He… No." Crap.
Andrew put his pen down, crossed his arms over his chest, and she suddenly felt examined. She held on to her coffee cup with both hands.
"I think Booth can handle himself, Temperance."
She nodded, almost ashamed of herself.
"But if you really think she's dangerous…" he continued.
"No. Never mind. I was just being…" Uncontrollably absurd. "… protective."
Andrew smiled. But he looked somewhat disappointed. Or sad. No, disappointed.
Brennan avoided his eyes and took a long sip of her coffee.
Maybe Andrew could ask Catherine out. Andrew and Catherine. Andy and Cathy… She chocked trying to swallow. She put the cup down, through a coughing fit.
Obviously not. What's wrong with you?
The Founding Fathers was over packed tonight, but she still spotted him instantly at the bar. She approached carefully, wondering if he was still upset with her.
He saw her out of the corner of his eye and blew out a short, knowing smile to himself.
"I thought you weren't coming," he said as she came to stand beside him.
"I wasn't planning to, but I passed and saw your car and…"
"I was just leaving," he cut her short. But she put her hand on his arm.
"Can you stay? Just a little while. I… want to talk to you."
She knew what she was about to tell him would most certainly make him mad. Furious, even. But she felt that pressure inside, and she had to tell.
"Sure," he let out, ordering her a beer.
She sat down next to him and waited until the bartender brought her drink before she opened her mouth to talk. But Booth went first.
"How was your coffee with Andrew?" he said, on a weird tone.
She could have lied. She could have said things were fantastic. Maybe it would have made her feel better, him thinking she was into her date as much as he seemed to be into his. But she liked being honest with him. It made her feel close to him. Even if it was only for a mere second.
"He stole my fries," she mumbled.
Booth chuckled and turned to her for the first time since she had arrived.
"My fries. He picked some right out of my plate without asking me."
"So what? I do that all the time. I didn't know you were a plate hugger. Should I be careful next time not to touch your stuff?" he laughed.
"No, that's the thing. I like when you touch my stuff."
They both heard her words and exchanged a loaded look. A tiny flash of embarrassment she rarely let shine through passed in her eyes.
"I mean, I don't mind. That you… eat my fries. I don't know."
Booth took a sip of beer, hiding a smirk. He was relieved. If she didn't feel comfortable letting Hacker eat her fries… she probably wasn't letting him touch anything else of hers.
A little more at ease, she decided it was time for that honest moment.
"I… asked Andrew to do something for me. And… although, I don't think he will do it, I thought you should know."
He didn't ask. He just looked at her, wondering how worried he should be.
She struggled between apologizing before or after. She licked her lips. God, he will be pissed.
"I asked him to run a background check on Dr. Klein," she blurted out.
He laughed quietly. She frowned.
"You're not mad?" she checked.
"Why would you do that?" he asked, really wondering if she even knew.
She shrugged, staring at her hands.
"Same reason you checked out your brother's fiancée, I guess."
Instead of focusing on the fact that she had practically called him her brother, he said,
"You know I had already checked on her. When she was a suspect."
What else was there to say?
"Found anything interesting?" she questioned him, still avoiding his eyes.
"Nothing relevant to my safety, no."
He watched her. It was surprisingly clear how bad she felt about this. He could see the guilt eating her away. He chuckled to himself again and caressed her back.
His hand going up and down her spine made her shiver. She couldn't help but tilted her head his way and lock eyes with him.
"I'm sorry," she said.
He smiled and she instantly felt the corner of her own lips go slightly up.
"I'm happy you're concerned for my wellbeing," he said.
"That's what friends do, right?"
He sensed his fingers were about to linger on the back of her bra, so he stopped touching her altogether.
She saw him reach for his wallet in his jeans back pocket and tried to get to hers first.
"No, here, I've got it," she said.
But she couldn't get to her money in time, so she pushed his hand away as he tried to let dollar bills on the counter.
"No, Booth, I said I've got it."
"I was here first," he argued.
"So what?!" Now she was almost wrestling with both his hands, trying to get him to put his money back into his wallet. "I wanna pay."
"Keep you money."
"Stop!" She was still laughing. She was going to win this one, no matter what.
"Buy yourself another Rolex."
At that 56th Rolex mention, she slapped his hand a little too forcefully, hiding her grin behind pursed lips. He dropped his open wallet on the dirty floor. They heard loose change rolling.
"Do you have a wallet or a piggybank?" she chuckled, kneeling on the floor to pick everything up.
Booth squatted in front of her, found his wallet under a stool and gathered all the quarters and dimes he could find. His heart stopped when he saw it. Praying she would not see it, he went to grab it discreetly, but his hand ended up on top of hers. Not only had she seen it, she had gotten to it first. Crap. He took his hand off of hers and turned it into a fist. Double crap.
She was holding it between her fingers when she fully realized what it was.
Booth spun up on his feet so quickly that he hit his head bellow the counter. Wincing in pain, he watched her as she got up, too. She was still staring at it.
Brennan's heart had started racing. It's not like she had never touched one before. But there was something uncomfortably arousing and awkwardly sexy to handing Booth a condom.
She was biting down on her lips, looking at him straight in the eye. He tried to focus so his pants wouldn't get too tight too quickly. And he shook his head.
"That's not mine," he said.
She turned around and grabbed the arm of the man next to her.
"Excuse me, sir?"
The man looked at her and his eyebrows raised as she held the condom to his face.
"This is yours," she said.
Booth went to grab her arm so she'd stop handing the condom to every guy around.
She looked at him as he wrapped his fingers around her wrist.
"No!" he hushed her. He grunted. And he almost whispered, "It's mine. Alright? It's mine."
"But you just said…"
"I lied, okay? Just… give it back," he pleaded, wishing to erase this whole moment from his brain.
"I was embarrassed," he admitted unwillingly. Palm up, he motioned his fingers quickly towards him so she'd give it back.
"Why?" she asked, ignoring it.
Oh, here we go! THAT'S why. He shut his eyes as she started her tirade.
"You're a grown man. You have nothing to be ashamed of." She shrugged. "I'm glad you're being responsible."
Her eyes dropped to it. The smooth, soft middle under her thumb…
"So you're having sex." She hadn't meant to say it out loud. She knew Booth was… active. But she realized she didn't want to know for sure. No.
She didn't look like she had any intention of giving it back.
Magnum Ecstacy. Ribbed for her pleasure, she read to herself. Her pleasure. Catherine Klein's pleasure? She sure seemed very sexual. Torn between a pinch of jealousy –feeling she was getting way too familiar with- and that wet sensation between her legs, she swallowed with difficulty.
Booth put on his jacket.
"Fine! Keep it," he said.
"What?!" No, she hadn't meant to screech like that either. She shoved it his way, with a slightly horrified look on her face.
He tried not to laugh at her expression. This is one ridiculous situation. Ri-di-cu-lous.
"Why would I need a condom?" she asked. Out loud again.
"I thought…" Was he really going to say it? "Aren't you and Hacker…"
She shook her head before realizing it was none of his business and said,
"I'm sure Andrew has his own condoms. Thanks."
And he probably doesn't need Magnums.
Here they were, a condom between them. Things could not have been any weirder.
Strike that. Yes they could.
When their fingers met on the small square foil envelope, their eyes met. Condom or no condom, this was far from safe.
He grabbed it, looked down. She shoved her hands in her pockets. And she passed in front of him to exit the bar.
When he was sure she wasn't looking, he dropped the condom in the trash can on his way out. Had she seen the expiration date, he would have never heard the end of it.
To Be Continued…
There you go. I can't believe I'm writing another one. Damn me. I have important work to do! Why can't I stop?!?!??!