A/N: Hello everyone! Thanks for dropping by! This is my new multi-chap and I'm pretty excited about writing it. I hope you're excited about reading it. =)
PLEASE READ! This story is set a few weeks after 4x03 (the episode where Brennan was dating two guys and it blew up in her face.) At the end of the episode B/B go to one of their therapy sessions and Sweets suggests to them that they have developed a surrogate relationship that prevents them from being properly intimate with anyone else. That suggestion is what this story centers around, as Booth and Brennan gradually accept that he may have been right and try to figure out what to do about it.
My story begins with Booth attempting to date someone else. (Wait, just hang on a second!) He will be dating this other woman for about three or four chapters at the beginning. I don't want to give too much of the plot away, but I do want to reassure you that she is only a means to an end and that she is necessary for Booth and Brennan's mutual realization that is the focal point of this story. Basically, I'm a Booth and Brennan fan all the way and I will never pair either of them with anyone else for any longer than absolutely necessary. Trust me!
One more important thing to know about this story: Given that this is set early season four, most of the angst that we've seen on the show hasn't occurred yet. Booth and Brennan are extremely close but are completely unaware of the fact that they're in love. That's right, even Booth doesn't know. They know they're protective of, possessive of, and attracted to each other, but they both choose to ignore the implications of that. They'll have to realize it as the story goes along.
Sorry for all the disclaimers, but I just wanted to make a few things clear from the beginning. =)
Many thanks to Hannah Taylor1 who has helped with plot, structure, and execution of this chapter and the new story as a whole. If you're a B/B fan you NEED to go read "Problem Solving, the Booth and Brennan Way." She's got over 100,000 words of awesomeness there just waiting to be devoured!
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones!
"It's no big deal, Bones." Booth held open the diner door for her. "Would you just drop it?"
"I believe it is quite an oversized deal if you buy a woman flowers in the middle of a work day." Brennan retorted, pushing his hand away when he started to pull out her chair for her at their usual table.
"We were on our way to lunch, not a crime scene or anything. And it took five minutes. Less than that." He plunked himself into the seat across from her. "What is your problem?"
She shook her head. "I just feel that it is unprofessional." She sniffed, opening her menu and closing it again instantly. They were at the diner. She would have what she always had. "Besides, what possible reason could you have for buying flowers for a woman? Are they for Caroline?"
Booth gave her a confused look. "What? No! Why would I buy flowers for Caroline? They were for a girl – woman – I went out with last night."
Brennan cleared her throat, picking her menu back up. "Oh?"
"Yeah, you know, just a casual thing. Met her last week at the batting cages." He drummed his fingers awkwardly. "Nothing important really."
Brennan raised her eyebrows. "It must be important if you are purchasing flowers for her the next day. Either you had intercourse with her or you plan to soon."
Booth's mouth gaped open and he leaned towards her, his eyes darting around to see if anyone was listening. "Bones!" He hissed at her. "Don't just say things like that!"
"Am I incorrect?"
"Yes!" Booth snapped, sitting back again and sending an apologetic glance to the people at the counter who looked over.
"So you don't intend to have intercourse with her?"
"No, Bones, geez!"
Brennan frowned. "Then I fail to see the need for flowers."
Booth sighed and leaned closer again so that he could speak softly. "Look, Bones, I don't have intentions at all, ok? She was nice, we had fun, we laughed and talked and yeah, I'd like to see her again. So I sent her flowers. If and when I decide to sleep with her, I will not be discussing it with you."
He sat back and took a large gulp of his water. "So can we please talk about something else now?"
"Something other than intercourse or something other than the woman you want to have it with?" Brennan queried, her expression serious.
"Both." Booth ground out.
"What's her name?"
"Ellen Wolfe." Booth sighed. "No more questions, Bones."
"Ok, Sweetie, what is going on with you?" Angela jutted her hip out, placing a hand there. "I know you're thorough, but seriously, you've been staring at the same x-ray for thirty minutes. What is so fascinating?
Brennan turned to her friend. "My attention is not captivated by this x-ray."
"You could have fooled me." Angela quipped before seeing the look in her friend's eyes. "Ok, spill. I know something's bothering you."
Brennan sighed and walked away from the display screen. "I must confess that I have something on my mind. I am somewhat confused."
"Well, I can't explain it to you if you don't tell me what it is." Angela tried to get a smile out of Brennan, frowning when Brennan merely looked at her. "Tell me, Bren."
"Booth went on a date last night."
Angela nodded, letting out her own sigh. "Oh."
"I can see no logical reason for me to be affected by that knowledge. Do you have an explanation?"
Shaking her head, Angela looped her arm through Brennan's and guided her back to her office, closing the door behind them. "Sweetie, I could explain it to you all day, but you don't want to hear it."
"Of course I do. That is why I asked you." Brenna took a seat on her couch and Angela followed suit. "I am considering the possibility that I am upset because Booth took time away from our case to engage in social behavior, thereby stalling our investigation."
"Uh-huh." Angela reached out and patted Brennan's arm. "That's not it."
"Are you certain?" Brennan frowned, her brow furrowed in concentration.
"Yeah, Bren, I'm certain." Angela chuckled. "Here's the deal. I'm not going to explain this one to you, ok? I think you need to figure it out on your own. I'm just going to ask you one thing. All right?"
Brennan's frown deepened. "But… all right." She acquiesced when Angela put her no-nonsense face on.
"You're always telling me that the simple, most logical answer is always best, right? So think, Bren. Really think objectively. What is the simplest, most logical reason you don't want Booth dating?"
Brennan peeled off her gloves and threw them away. "I will record my findings and send them over to you tonight." She informed her partner, smiling at the way he was leaning against the railing of the platform, flipping his poker chip in the air.
He glanced at her. "No rush, Bones. I'm not working tonight."
"Oh?" The small feeling of discomfort that had plagued her on Wednesday returned as she anticipated the reason for the early end to his work day.
"Nope." Was his uninformative answer.
"Do you have Parker?"
"Nope." He said again.
"Will you be visiting Pops?"
"Is there a sporting telethon you wish to view?" She made a last ditch effort.
"Marathon, Bones. It's called a marathon. And no, I'm not going to be plunked in front of the television. I'm going out." He followed her to her office, leaning in the doorway as she went to her desk.
She glanced up at him. "Oh." She cleared her throat and sat down in her chair. "Alone?"
He looked at her. "No, Bones."
"Bones, I'm going on a date, alright?" He sounded exasperated. "Geez, you can't let anything go, can you? For future reference when someone is avoiding your questions, you should stop asking them."
"A date? With Ellen Fox?" Her small feeling discomfort blossomed within her and she was irritated by the reaction.
"Ellen Wolfe." Booth corrected her. "And yes. We're seeing each other again."
She nodded. "The flowers worked."
He chuckled, moving slightly inside her office. "Yeah, I guess so. Look, Bones, this isn't weird, ok? I mean, you date, I date. I just haven't in awhile, that's all."
"Why would it be weird, Booth?" She was asking him genuinely, hoping he could provide an answer that would explain why it was indeed strange for her that he would be dating.
"It wouldn't be." He smiled and pointed at her. "That's the point."
They looked at each for a moment before he swallowed and took a step back. "Alright, I'm gonna run and get changed and stuff. Don't work too late tonight, ok? Promise?"
"Too late is a relative term, Booth."
"Yeah." He rolled his eyes at her. "Just, not too late, Bones."
"Hey there, studly." Angela's voice startled him into looking up. He was in his office, at his desk, doing his work, and yet there was Angela standing before him. His mind went straight to his partner.
"Is Bones ok?"
Angela laughed. "Relax, I'm here socially."
That did nothing to help him relax. "Uh, ok? What's up, Ange?"
"How's your new girlfriend?" Uninvited, Angela took a seat in the chair across from his desk. She raised her eyebrows at him. "Sexy?"
"How do you know about…" He sighed. "Bones told you."
"Oh yeah, she did. Right before she asked me why it bothers her." Angela chuckled and leaned forward, eyeing Booth's disbelieving expression. "Oh, come on, you knew it bothered her. You can read people a mile away, no way you missed Bren's reaction."
"I don't know what you're talking about, Angela." He looked pointedly back at his paperwork, hoping she would take the hint and leave.
"I told her she had to figure out the answer on her own, but I figure that'll take awhile, so I'm here to check out your new lover. Make sure she's acceptable." Angela crossed her legs. "So how about a picture or something?"
Booth put down his pen and stared blandly up at the woman before him. "Back off, Angela."
"Oh, come on, Booth. Give me a picture and I'll show it to Brennan. If she's hot, it'll make Bren even more jealous." Angela grinned, leaning forward. "It's just a picture…"
"We've gone on two dates. I don't exactly have a picture of her in my wallet." He snapped at her, rubbing a hand over his eyes. "Besides, I'm not trying to make Bones jealous. She's not jealous. We're just partners. Friends and partners."
Angela started to reply when a faint knock on the door behind her stopped her.
"Ellen!" Booth stood up quickly. "Hi, what are you doing here?"
Angela turned and took in the tall, curvy woman with hair the color of fall leaves. Her laugh nearly escaped her and she shot a grin at Booth.
"Hi, Seeley." Ellen entered the room, her eyes roaming Angela in return. "I just wanted to stop by and say hello. I'm sorry I missed your call last night. I was tied up at work until early this morning."
"Hey, no problem." Booth moved around the desk and slid an arm around her shoulders, giving her a light, slightly stiff peck on the cheek. "Ellen, this is one of my squints I told you about. This is Angela."
"Ah, not Bones, then." Ellen held out a hand. "Nice to meet you, Angela."
Angela took the offered hand and looked at Booth. "Oh, the pleasure is all mine." She grinned. "I've been dying to meet you. Booth has told me so much about you."
Booth shot Angela a look that contained a death wish in it, but she ignored him. "Absolutely. I feel like I know you already." Angela continued, still holding onto Ellen's hand. "You've simply got to come and meet everyone at the lab. It's like Booth's second home there. How about now?"
"Angela, Ellen just stopped by…"
Ellen laid her hand on Booth's arm, sliding it down to take his hand in hers. "I have time, Seeley. And I know how important your work is to you." She smiled at him. "I'd love to see your lab, if you don't mind taking me."
Ellen received a phone call as Booth pulled into the Jeffersonian parking structure, and when the car stopped, she got out and excused herself for a moment, sending Booth an apologetic look.
As soon as she had closed the door behind her, Booth twisted around in his seat and glared at Angela. "What do you think you're doing?"
Angela laughed. "Relax, G-man. I just want to get to know your girlfriend. Besides, Brennan can still compartmentalize her existence away if she hasn't seen her. This will speed up her impending realizations."
Booth sighed. "Look, Angela, I know you have this pet idea that Bones and I are meant to be… romantic, but you're wrong, ok? Bones and I are partners and, sure, we care about each other. I would do anything in my power to keep her safe and happy. But there is not and there will never be a romance between us. She doesn't feel that way."
When Angela raised her eyebrows at him, he quickly tacked on, "And neither do I."
Angela gave him a searching look. "You really mean that, don't you?"
"Yes!" Booth said too loudly, exasperation pouring out of him. "So can you stop trying to sabotage the first relationship I've had in a year and a half? I might actually like this woman."
Angela flopped back against the seat. "All right, for the record, I still think you're both in denial, and I know for sure that Brennan is not cool with this. But…" She rolled her eyes at him, "I will behave. We can leave if you want."
"Yeah, because that wouldn't be at all strange." Booth muttered. "I'll just bring her here, and then as soon as we've parked, I'll tell her she can't go inside. That doesn't make me seem crazy at all."
Angela's smile returned. "So we're going inside?"
"Yes." Booth opened his door. "But I'm not happy about it and if one thing…"
"Yeah, yeah, yeah, you'll shoot me. I've heard it before." Angela hopped out of the car and winked at him.
Still with me? I'd really love your feedback on this one. It helps so much to hear what you think and if you give me details then I can know exactly what to change or what to keep the way it is.
Thanks for reading! Oh, and if you're confused AND you skipped the A/N at the top, go back and read it. ;-)