A/N: So this one came completely out of the blue after watching the 100th episode. I couldn't get out of my head how easy Booth and Brennan's interactions were when they first met and how Brennan already inspired Booth to be a better man and that inspired this story. It is totally and completely AU. I should be able to update this once a week and am still actively working on "Trying to Fight an Invisible, Invading Enemy." Just needed something a little less emotional to write about as well. Enjoy and let me know if I should continue. Please review!
The alarm sounded and he sat up with a start. Most people hated their alarm clocks; hated the shrill sound it made as it woke them from their rest and made them leave the warmth of their bed and their pleasant dreamlands. But recently, Booth's alarm clock was his best friend. The 24 year old had seen and done more in his young life than he should have had to and those memories that he could consciously repress during the day came forth to haunt him at night. His alarm clock was the only thing that kept him from slipping into his past, whether it was his father's house or the middle of the Iraqi desert, was the only thing that was looking out for him when the memories threatened to engulf him. And for that, he always felt a kind of affection for his alarm clock that he hadn't felt for anyone or anything since he had been discharged from Walter Reed Army Medical Center.
And it was a present that he was excited about for the first time in a long time. Today was his first day of real college, paid for courtesy of Uncle Sam. During his time in the Army, he was able to complete most of his general education courses through mailing in his material and taking some classes on base when he was home but this was his first day of going to college classes with other college students. Even though he wasn't quite sure of what he was getting himself into, Pops had always emphasized to him the importance of getting his education and he never wanted to let him down. So, when he was given an honorable discharge, he enrolled at Penn State as a Crime, Law, and Justice major, thinking maybe he could use his sharp shooting ability for good. At least he had taken enough classes to go right into his upper division coursework and skip all the classes with the freshmen, taking classes with people closer to his own age.
Booth sat up and put his feet on the cool floor, wincing as the ache returned. He had rehabbed at Walter Reed for 8 months after his 9-week captivity had messed up his feet so bad that he had to re-learn how to walk. And even though that was not his only injury, it was the one that had, obviously, taken the longest to heal properly and was still causing him issues today. He looked down at his feet to the healed surgical scars where the doctors had to reset the bones in his feet by hand and reached for a pair of brightly colored socks. One of the physical therapists at Walter Reed had given him a couple of pairs of the obnoxious looking socks for two reasons; one, it hide the scars on his feet, and two, it kept them warm so the achiness he felt when it was cold would be kept at bay.
After putting his socks on, he stood up and walked toward the small kitchen in his studio apartment. It was really small, only about 440 sq ft, but was big enough to contain the kitchen, small table, closet, TV, bathroom and couch he was currently sleeping on. He really didn't need that much more space. Wolfing down a bowl of Cornflakes, he realized how good it felt to be able to put on civilian clothes and ran out of the door. He wasn't exactly sure where his first class of the day was and he really didn't want to make a bad impression. Grabbing his desert camouflage backpack that he still had from his days in the Army, he quickly threw in a notebook and some pens; ready to see what this new chapter of his life was going to bring him.
She was bored. Completely and totally bored. Sitting in this conference room was the last thing she wanted to be doing but acknowledged that it was a necessary part of the exchange program she was on.
Temperance Brennan was starting her third year of an anthropology major with a concentration in human biology at Northwestern University in Chicago. At 19 years old, she was already proving herself to be one of the best and brightest emerging in the field. During the spring semester of her second year, her research coordinator, Dr. Michael Stires, asked if she would like to be part of a team that went to investigate some old human remains that had been found in Bald Eagle State Park in Centre County, Pennsylvania that would take the summer and the fall semester. Unable to resist the possibility of fieldwork and having no summer plans to begin with, she readily agree and now found herself sitting where she was today; in a conference room at Penn State University, who had graciously donated lab space to the visiting troupe of scientists.
And even though the lecture that she was forced to go to was interesting, her mind couldn't help but wander to the skeleton she had spent all summer recovering. She liked to imagine what kind of life he had lived, if he had any family, and what it was like living in this area of the country so many years ago. Not only that, but conference rooms always made her feel uncomfortable. They were the place where she had to sit in the Social Services building while they tried to find her a new family and since then, she had always associated them with her failure to fit into a traditional family unit.
"Tempe?" she heard Dr. Stires call to her. Realizing she must have been daydreaming, she quickly sat up in her chair and gathered her notes in front of her.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Stires, what were you saying?"
He gave her an indulgent smile that kind of creeped her out before saying, "I was just asking if you had anything to add to Dr. Woerpel's analysis of the third skeleton we found at the site."
"No, I do not," she said, wanting to end this meeting as soon as possible so she could get back to her work.
"Okay, then, let's move onto Dr. Weiss's analysis of the soil around the dig site," Dr. Stires continued. Tempe had to keep from groaning out loud at this, just wanting, again, to get back to the lab.
Just when Dr. Weiss was about to start, the door flew open and a young man walked in. His symmetrical features and the ratio of his shoulder width to hip width instantly took Tempe. It didn't help that those features came with short dark brown hair, soulful brown eyes, and a muscular, approximately 188 cm body. By his backpack and the class schedule in his hand, Tempe guessed that he was a student here but knew he was in the wrong place because this was a closed seminar.
Apparently, Dr. Stires was thinking the same thing. "Can I help you?" he asked and Tempe could hear the disapproval in his voice. It wasn't a tone he had ever used with her but she had heard him use it on other students before.
The man didn't look fazed. "I'm looking for CRIM 407 but I'm guessing that this isn't it."
Dr. Eads, an anthropology professor from Penn State, spoke up. "Son, that is going to be in Oswald Tower on the first floor. Do you know where that is?"
At the lost look on the man's face, Tempe assumed that he did not. She knew where Oswald Tower was though; it was the building across from where the lab was. Seeing an opportunity to get out of the meeting, she spoke quickly.
"Dr. Stires, I could show him where it is," she volunteered, hoping that he would come to the conclusion that it was better that she just go to the lab afterward. If not though, she was prepared to lead him in that direction.
He visibly sighed. "Okay, Tempe, you can lead our young friend here to his class. Afterward, head back to the lab. This meeting is almost over anyway."
Trying not to look too eager, Tempe gather her notes and nodded to the man to follow her out the door and down the hallway, which she noticed he did.
"Thank you so much," she told him once they were in the stairwell and out of earshot of the meeting.
He looked confused for a moment before asking, "Thanks for what?"
"I really didn't want to be in that meeting anymore and you were the perfect excuse to leave," she told him matter of factly as they exited the building and began to walk across campus. "We had better walk quickly to get you to your class; it is about a fifteen minute walk2 from here." He easily matched her quick pace even though Tempe noticed that he was limping slightly.
"So what's your name?" he asked her after a brief silence.
She looked at him for a moment and when their eyes connected, she got lost in them. She felt her stomach begin to churn slightly and needed to remember to breath. She had never seen anyone quite like him and the way he made her feel startled her slightly. She wondered if he felt the same way.
"Temperance Brennan. But everyone calls me Tempe," she finally said, sticking her hand out in the customary way of introducing oneself, even though she had studied multiple other cultures where this would have been an obscured and even obscene gesture.
"Seeley Booth. But everyone calls me Booth," he reciprocated, clasping her hand with his own to shake it. She felt a jolt of electricity pass through their hands that she knew had nothing to do with physics and this time, she knew he felt it too as he dropped her hand like he had been burned. She would have been hurt by this normally, thinking that someone else thought she was a freak like all the kids in high school and college did, but she noticed that he started walking a little closer to her, his bicep occasionally brushing up against her shoulder.
An awkward silence descended upon them before Booth finally broke it. "So, Tempe, are you a student here?"
"No, I'm a third year student at Northwestern University in Chicago," she answered. Seeing the look of confusion on his face, she continued. "I was here for the summer uncovering and identifying ancient human remains found in Bald Eagle State Park and am here for the fall semester as well for the project. I am an anthropology major with a concentration in human biology." She paused for a moment before asking, "What year are you?"
"Well, I guess I'm a third year student too but this is my first day of class here," he told her. He must have seen her matching look of confusion because he elaborated as well. "I just out of the Army a couple of months ago and figured I would go to school. I'm majoring in Crime, Law, and Justice. I just really wanna help people, you know?"
She noticed the conviction in his statement and automatically thought he would be good at that. She only wished that someone like him could have been there for her when she needed to rely upon the justice system.
"So you want to be a cop?" she asked.
He chuckled under his breath before replying, "No, I'm more interested in the FBI or the CIA. So you study bones, huh?"
She nodded enthusiastically, feeling her passion for the subject rise within her. "Yes, mostly ancient remains. I try to figure out what kind of life they lived and when they lived it. I try to coax the person's biography out of their bones and try to combine it with others in that similar time and place to construct what their society looked like; what their social mores were, what kind of government they lived in, things like that."
She was almost saddened when they finally reached his class, thinking this was the first time in a long time she had talked to someone casually and she found that she really enjoyed it. She noticed he slowed down when the building name was visible and liked to think it was because he wanted to spend more time with her as well. She couldn't be sure though; she was much better at reading bones than she was at reading people.
They stopped in front of the building and both of them stalled for a moment before Booth asked her a question. "So do you like pizza?"
She scrunched her face up slightly at his question, confused about it's relevance. "Yes. Why?"
"Well, I was wondering if you would like to go grab a slice? You know, with me," he clarified, shoving his hands in the pockets of his jeans and looking slightly uncomfortable. Tempe's mind automatically raced with the possibilities of that statement and decided to clarify under what social context she should place his request.
Never one to mince her words, she asked, "Like a date?"
She automatically knew she said the right thing when an easy smile graced his rugged good looks and he cocked his head to the side slightly as if studying her. "Yeah, Bones. Like a date," he answered.
She considered this for a moment, confused as to why this very attractive man would be asking her out and why he called her 'Bones'. But finding that she wanted more of his company, she agreed. "That would be acceptable," she said, bouncing on her feet slightly and smiling at him.
His grin increased at her statement. "Okay, well does Thursday at 7 work for you? We could walk to the pizza place down the street," he suggested.
She quickly thought about her schedule for the week. "That should work fine," she answered, not knowing what else to say. She had never dated very much before; being the foster kid that was constantly changing schools did not do very much for her social life. But even though she was nervous about this situation, she found that his presence put her at ease and she was actually looking forward to the date.
"Okay, then," he nodded, still smiling. "Do you live around here? I'll come get you."
She nodded. "I'm staying in Eastview Terrace for the semester. I'll meet you outside at 7 pm."
"I'll see you then, Bones," he said as he turned to go into the building.
"Wait!" she called out, seeing him turn around. "Why do you keep calling me 'Bones'?"
He gave her that very charming smile again. "It's my nickname for you. You know, because you work with bones." Not giving her time to respond, he opened the door and walked into the building.
She smiled and walked toward her lab, irrationally pleased that he had a special name for her.
Academically, his first day of class did not go very well. He was fifteen minutes late to his first class and after meeting Bones; he found his focus was definitely not on his classes. He was immediately drawn to her beauty when he first saw her in that conference room, her striking blue eyes and curvy yet slim figure immediately attracted him to her. But then after speaking with her, he found his attraction deepened, and he almost couldn't contain his joy after she agreed to go out with him.
Pops had always told him when he met the one, he would know. He would know that was the person he was going to love 30 or 40 or 50 years down the line. Booth was finally that guy. He knew.
And as he got back to his place after class that night, he actually felt at peace for the first time in a long time, thoughts of beatings at home and killing people from 250 yards away far from his mind as he sat down to try and get some homework done.