Note: So I really thought I could hit my dead line. Then I realized two things: A) I had a lab practical to pass and B) I had about 2,000 words of notes just for this section. Which is only like seven minutes of film. Oye. But. This is it. If you've been waiting, I guess this is the one you've been waiting for. Though, it's going to end like you think.
Thank you, immensely, for the continued support throughout this week of rather intense story-telling. To those of you who have reviewed or PM'd suggesting another episode of Angela narration I can confidently say that I like the idea of another one for some really great episode but also that it won't be soon. So thank again for all your support with this one. Wish you all the best. Nyah.
 When Tempe Met Seeley (and decided first names weren't the way to go)
Welcome back to the present! Try not to be concerned that our host, Dr. Sweets, looks like he's seeing the business end of his own tequila hangover. A good shrink has empathy, right?
So Booth offers Sweets a glass of water with, like, his whole body. Seriously. He stretches out completely, Michelangelo's "Creation of Adam" style, and they're frozen there for a second. Like an oil painting. Like forever.
It's decent of Booth really. Water is always a place to pause. It's a little plain maybe, not always the right temperature. But it's the thing you need when coming back from tequila, Bhang, a shot at ecstasy. Whether you succeed or not. Water's like life that way, I guess. It's the thing we do in the time between.
"It's like you two missed your moment and then you punished each other for it," Sweets says, trying out every available surface of that chair.
I don't know about you but I'm a little confused about when he's talking about here. Does he mean that little bit of snippiness we just saw at the Chop Shop or is he just really annoyed that they've spent the past five years solving murders instead of mattress dancing? Because, Sweets, honey, you work for the FBI. You're not supposed to complain about them solving murders.
In fact, the FBI's probably going to be really peeved if this little session throws them off their murder-solving game. I mean I'm sure that have a pool going on Over At the FBI (just like they must in half the work places in the DC area) about when these two are going to do the deed. But they still have to be more concerned about murder solving. At least on paper.
"You know who has to pay the price?" Sweets does the "this guy" thumb-jerk at himself. And I guess that's a little more logical than what I thought. Which, in case you're wondering, was that Dr. Goodman's tenure depended on a certain quota of hanky-panky going on between Booth and Brennan by a pre-determined point and when that failed to happen he was executed by firing squad.
Anyway, the way Sweets is acting, someone must being facing a firing squad because he can't be in this much of an I-might-pass-out-or-vomit-at-any-second snit over a book no one ever asked him write in the first place.
So Sweets pulls a pillow out from under his tuchus and finally starts to get that he needs to just calm the heck down. "Okay, what happened next?" His hand urges him on like they can just yadda through the rest so he can go be properly ill already.
Back to the case (are we still on this?). Caroline, Brennan, Booth, the judge, and the judge's lawyer are all crammed into the crappy interrogation room. Brennan's sitting very stoically. She's only there in case Booth screws up.
It's going well.
In the present, Booth talks lies and Brennan talks facts. But what they're both getting at is truth.
"But I didn't know why." Booth does that thing a person does when commenting about spices in food or the bouquet of wine. Why is a taste on his tongue.
"Booth is obsessed with why people do things," Brennan says, kind of poking fun at him. Because they're different know and she can join in the joke.
Booth just ignores her because it was a really big deal to him, he was all caught up in the build of the case. He can feel it, even now. But he just couldn't figure the judge out.
So Brennan figures it out, why he chased her, why she fell. If there hadn't been all those layers of flesh in the way she would have gotten it sooner. Immediately.
It's all in the way he touches his nose (which must be different from the way a twice-punched person touches his nose).
"It had to be something that would have ruined his career," says she.
"But also destroyed his judgment," says he.
Somewhere, a bell goes ding! And the case wraps up so we can go home.
It was drugs. Cocaine maybe, or crystal meth. Something that went smash. Some failed attempt at ecstasy. Doomed from the start. The result was an unconscious girl and a judge too stupid to see that she was breathing.
He just wanted to stop her, he says. Reason with her. Offer a bribe.
But she ran.
And that was that.
So in the here and now Brennan assures Sweets the judge is in jail. And Booth's all, "Sorry about your book." Like he still doesn't know why it's a big deal. Like, why doesn't Sweets just change the names to Kathy and Andy and sell it an a fun, fictional meta-analysis. Hell, maybe someone would actually read it.
But Sweets is having none of it. He's like, F-you professionalism and f-you patients. "What happened between the two of you?"
They argued. He grabbed her. She hit him.
She hates the way he intimidates and he bullies and he's like her father. She hates that he's here right now and that that doesn't mean he'll be here tomorrow.
She's not who she's going to be yet. She hasn't had a best friend. She hasn't turned down a chance to live wide. She hasn't killed or seen him kill for her. She hasn't sat by his bedside and typed a better life for them both.
She hasn't done any of those things. So she swears she'll never work with him again.
He hates that she can make him feel stupid and she can act like a child all at once. He hates how easily she walks away.
And he's not quite who he's going to be yet either. He hasn't gone to the end of his rope to pull her out of the sand. He hasn't joined the circus. He hasn't beaten an addiction and boxed in Vegas anyway. He hasn't threatened to kill for her or made good on the threat. He's not our Booth. He's not wrestling with the angels yet.
So there's this gap between who they are and who they'll have to be. They're wedged in it, stuck between heart-break and bliss.
It cracks open. It goes smash.
"You struck him?" Sweets asks. He's uncomfortable with the term 'bitch-slap.'
"I shouldn't have grabbed her," Booth says immediately, automatically. Apologizing, unnecessarily, for who she used to be.
"We're sorry about your book," Brennan says in a tone of dismissal. (She also said 'we' and if this wasn't a preposition story I'd be going on and on about the sexiness of pronouns.)
Sweets tells them they're totally messed up. Official diagnosis. "I've always said you could never kiss" (um, to whom Sweets? I don't think you ever had that conversation with me over fudgsicles. I mean, it's bad enough you didn't give me a red manuscript binder, gosh) "because then the dam would break. Did the dam break?"
The answer should have been 'yes' but Booth gets the question wrong. It's not his fault. Sweets didn't really now what he was asking either.
"He still thinks that we slept together," Booth whisper-translates.
"We're not in love with each other," Brennan says.
Booth's face is pained. It's painful. Like he just took a swift kick in the balls. I mean, that wasn't even the question Brennan and you still sprung it on him.
Brennan, all inept innocence, reminds us that it took them a year to be in the same room together. (Not after the kissing, mind you, after the smashing.)
And Booth clings to that, pulls himself up by it. It's true after all. It's a nice steady time in their history, that year when they tried to forget each other. Definitive. Like water. The thing we do between attempts at ecstasy.
But Sweets is still pushing. He wants to know why they haven't been in serious relationships. Each one delivers the usual reasons.
So Sweets tries another angle. He talks about courage. He's getting there, our Dr. Sweets, he knows that somewhere there's a Yellow Brick Road.
He calls Booth out, heart-of-a-lion Booth who's so often miscast as the Scarecrow. "It's gotta be you because you're the Gambler!" Well. At least he gets how messed up and insane that is. He says, "For once, make that work for you."
And wow. Sweets just gave him an entire meal to chew on. Which gives him an idea. "Something to eat?"
"I could eat," Brennan says.
And together they bolt.
Sweets tosses the manuscript. Smash.
(Carl Sandburg pops in, textually, to remind us all about things that start in dreams. That's nice. But he's also the guy who wrote, "The secret of happiness is to admire without desiring." And I just don't trust that. So, I'm going to take him with a great of grain salt. Maybe throw in a lime for good measure.)
Outside, they've escaped. They're talking about all the other things wrong with Sweets's book. Which are, incidentally, all the things wrong with them. It's getting warmer in DC these days. Things are growing again. There's a riot of new, a ruckus of life. The cherry blossoms are already in full froth and boil. It's a little much to be taken in all at once.
They can feel it all in the background as they head down the stairs, walking down together. There's no escalator, no outside force to carry them up. They're different people from the ones in the story. They built up and went smash and put themselves together. Better.
They've escaped. But only parts of them.
Booth's head and his heart are still back inside, still listening to Sweets's words. So he stops short like he's run into a wall and tries to make sense of it all. "I'm the gambler," he says like it's a revelation. But she hears:
"Hi, my name is Seeley and I'm an addict."
And we say, "Hi Seeley." Because we're always on his side. Always. Like everyone is. And where does that leave her?
And it's cute for a second. Like, okay, we'll use gambling as a positive metaphor just for the sake of being different and because the baby shrink said so. He's trying to say that the gambler is the guy who just goes for it, who can't help himself.
There's a reason it's not usually used as a positive metaphor, gambling, and most of that reason is the whole addiction thing. But it's different with him, different this time. When you gamble like Booth, on eight-balls and corner pockets, you're gambling on yourself. And that's nice. He's putting himself in the game and going for it.
But you're the only one really in the game. When you gamble like Booth, there's a word for you: shark. You don't play against the impregnable House. When you win, someone else loses. There's a victim. You don't just gamble, you swindle. So you'll have to forgive Brennan if she gets nervous. There are sharks circling.
"I believe in giving this a chance." Believe,do you Booth? Are you trying to stack the odds against her? "I want to give this a shot."
So her face goes through more emotions than it has in about a year, ever since he woke up. She tries to laugh because she doesn't get it. Then every muscle just closes down. Because she does. "You mean us?"
There's less oxygen between them. His heart is in his throat. It makes it hard to move.
His nod is so delicate. The tiniest of evidence. But totally unmistakable.
The build doesn't feel like Bhang this time or tequila. It doesn't feel like she's building toward something but falling into it. The build to ecstasy feels a lot like a drop, feels a lot like terror.
She says, "No the FBI …."
But she's already ruined his judgment so he doesn't care a thing about the career. He just wants to reason with her. He kisses her instead.
For just a second it's soft, timid, and going somewhere. For just a second they're the people they were and are and are going to be. She can see it so, so clearly, the decision she doesn't make. Even as she's shoving him away:
It's right there behind her eyes. She's seeing herself pulling him close instead, no fingertips on the shoulder, no soft or timid here. She's seeing fisted cotton and gulping breaths and get it girl!
She sees the next morning, waking up a little too warm, waking up like a child, a little damp with sleep sweat. She'll turn over and there he'll be, stretched out on his back. She'll curl into him, hand on his chest, then head, then legs twining with his. It'll feel more like rest than sleep ever has. Well, it will right after he settles again. He sleeps precisely, stretched out on his back, like a Ranger, and he sleeps warmer than she does. So her sudden, cold hands will wake him a little too quickly.
But just as quickly he'll peer down at her through a cracked eyelid and he won't be able to help his smile. And she won't have to look up to see it because she's wearing it already. So she'll listen to him sigh contentedly and she'll shift so he can loop an arm across her back. She'll listen to the inner workings of his body, the rumbles and beats and breaths that are proof that he is alive and he is well. And while those two things are true he'll always be near.
And it's all so vivid that she's reeling with it. She's not quite sure which scene is really playing out. When this happened to him, he had the help of another narrator and some serious medication so it was all off, all a little wrong, all different enough that eventually he found his feet, figured out which scenes were real. Eventually he believed it was possible to wake up not loving her. Or that it had been once, anyway.
But for her, the possibilities are coming too close together. She recognizes the familiar build of it, the long, deliciously tortured climb toward bliss. She's been here before. Tried it again and again. And she just can't be sure. Is she pulling him close or pushing him away? Saying yes or saying no? Has something changed or is it all the same?
She doesn't know.
She has to know.
She shoves him away. Like Sweets's hands, that say Whoa! Like a prelude to smash.
"No!" she shouts insistently, desperately. Like a child trying to wake up. "No!"
"Why?" he asks, like always. "Why?" There are notes of coffee and cheery blossom in it. It's bitter and spicy on his tongue.
And she can't answer in a way he can understand. The answer to why is because, is a conjunction. There's subordination there. Dependence. And while they might both be conjunction people when it comes to cases, with each other they've always been preposition people. With and alongside and near.
She wants to protect him from herself. It's exactly the kind of thing they would do for each other.
But he asks her to just give it a chance. He asks her to let it build until it goes smash. They did it once already and it took years, years, but they're back. Together and separately, they're better than they were.
He talks about older couples. People who've been in love for 30 or 40 or 50 years. People who sit together with a blanket around their frail little shoulders and get interviewed at the end of When Harry Met Sally. Maybe interviewed by someone like Sweets. But. They've already done that.
"It's always the guy who says, 'I knew'." I knew.
She shakes her head.
Looking at him, she's been here with him before. It was a long time ago and they were different people then, bolder and a little sleazier. It's not when you think.
They were so close and he kissed her and warned her he was a gambler because he thought it might go some where. And it almost did. It really almost did.
Yeah, I don't mean that time. It's not when you think.
The time I mean, they were Tony and Roxie. He was up against a big, muscle-bound bruiser and she fronted the money, playing the stake-horse. The bet took both of them to win, him to take and make the hits, her to show him the soft spots and tell him how to go at them.
Things are mostly the same this time around. He's the gambler, he's willing to take the hits, put himself on the line. He's not looking to shark, she's knows. She's not the opponent, not exactly. He just needs her to put in, to be the stake-horse. And to tell him where to hit and how.
Booth wants to give it a chance. But things aren't exactly the same this time. Like they're not exactly who they used to be. Because the thing he's up against, they're up against, is them, all their bad habits and deepest fears. And it's big and ugly and muscle-bound. It's been abandoned and abused and gone to war.
It's all the ugly parts of them that still make up the whole. For them to win, she'll have to aim him at all their soft spots. And he won't be able to go at them with fists and fury. He'll take her by the hand and take her apart, tear her open and himself too. They'll have to lay out everything that's inside. They'll have to make peace with who they've also been, embrace all the ugliest parts.
That's the other side of ecstasy, the other side of love. That's what it means to go smash.
"I am not a gambler," she says. "I am a scientist." The last thing she wants to do is go smash. The last thing she wants to do is win. "I can't change," she says, thinking it's true. "I don't know how."
During some pretty important years of her life, Brennan didn't have a mother. Ok, totally relevant, I promise. She didn't have a mother to ask about make up and kissing or how long a skirt should be. She didn't have a mother to cry to during her first heart-crush, or to ask for career advice, or to hug and squeal with when she got the big college envelope that says, "you're good enough for us." Mostly, she didn't have a mother to teach her how to go about this whole love thing.
And really, that's not a mother's job, even if you have one. But she didn't have one so she doesn't know. She doesn't know that she's not supposed to know how to do this. That learning to be in love means the same thing as being in love. That ecstasy is on the other side of the smash.
And in case your heart hasn't already broken and in case you're still, always, on Booth's side, think of it like this:
A lot of big, scary things are happening to her right now. He's telling her he wants her forever, just as she is. And isn't that what we're all supposed to dream about? But there are two things troubling her. The first is, there's a finality to love that she's not entirely comfortable with. And it has nothing to do with anthropology. She wants to be whole without being the sum of her parts. He loves everything about her. Everything. The way she just can't give in and how hard she fights. He loves the aloof face she puts on and how sure she is that everyone buys it. He loves that change doesn't come easy to her and that she works too hard and that most people will never really get her.
He loves all of her. Just like she is.
And there's a finality to that. If she admits that he loves all of her, all her jagged, dog-eared, cobbled together pieces she has to accept that those pieces are really hers. Really her. She's not just trying them on for a while.
The other thing is this: when he fell in love with her it was the first time she fell in love with herself. It was the first time she was funny. Because he laughed. The first time she was worth saving. Because he unburied her. The first time she was worth sticking around for. Because he did.
Now that's not exactly true. She was always, already those things. But you couldn't see them. She didn't wear them like stupid socks or a cocky belt buckle. There was no proof until he proved it. That's what he's done to her.
And the same goes for him in a different way. Booth's always had the right things to say about how a man needs to be and what he needs to do. But once, he was a sniper and once he was a little sleazy and he's never been a saint. It's only because of her, because of her need to see proof and not just hear platitudes to believe something, because she does believe that he is that guy... that he's realized he is the guy he's always talked about. Good and courageous and loyal.
And for him that's great and for her that's awful. Because everyone's always on his side. But if she messes it up, if she loses him, she loses love and trust and hope but she also loses herself, who she's become. And that's worst of all.
Can she be that person, that woman? Can she let them tear themselves apart again? Can she hope they can put themselves back together better? They've done things a little differently this time, can they hope for the same outcome? Gamble on a better one?
She's not sure. So she'll say it again. "I don't know how."
She asks him not to look so sad but they've both been crying for a while now.
"Alright," he says, stepping away. Then he says, "You're right." Because what else can he do?
"Can we still work together?" She asks, hopeful, like a child.
It's his last chance to break it open, let it smash. But there's this look on her face and he can't do it. So he says yes, accepts the stalemate. Things don't smash and they don't have to go away for a year and try again later. They don't get to go away for a year and try again later.
But he's a little more practical now, she's helped him there and forced him to it. So he tells her he has to move on. Tells her like they've both known along who's holding them back. And, in her smallest whisper she says, "I know." Because they have and she does. Despite all protestation to the contrary.
She just wants to protect him. Them. Something's shifted in them, some paradigm somewhere deep down.
When they leave, it's arm and arm. It's comfortable and sweet and maybe the worst thing that could possibly happen. They almost broke open. Almost. But there they are, arm in arm, like nothing's happened. It's so familiar that they can go on like that for a while, pretending that it's all the same, that they're still walking near and with and alongside each other. They're trying to walk back to who they used to be. Just a moment ago.
But something cracked between them, there in the street. They're becalmed, stalemated, waiting to go one way or the other. Half way between ecstasy or heart-break. They've been here before, poised, stuck, waiting to smash.
Was this the end? Did they miss it? Or will they get another chance. Someone once told me, "Nothing in this universe happens just once. Infinity goes in both directions."
And no, it wasn't Carl Sandburg.