Author's Note: Set after The Parts in the Sum of the Whole. Extra points if you can guess who's talking in the two italicized sections.
We've finally broken the fourth wall, the one that we always kept between us. We 'crossed the line,' as I once put it, let the elephant in the room out of its corner. And now that the pane is shattered, we're walking around like nothing's different, nothing's wrong, as though the icy daggers of glass aren't cutting into our feet with every step we take…
"Hey Bones, we've got a case!"
He swipes his card enthusiastically, check, leaps onto the platform, check. Comes to stand to close to the table, forcing her to admonish him about the possibility of contaminating the evidence? Nope.
"I'm busy Booth, it'll have to wait."
A quick look up when he calls her permanent nickname, check. Focusing back on her work once she decided there was no emergency, check. Flashing a quick smile as she turned him down? Nope.
"Come on, this is a good one!"
He waves his hands in a hurry-up motion just like always, showing off that puppy dog face that always makes me laugh. But he doesn't touch the small of her back, and when she stands up, carefully setting the bone back on the table, she doesn't lean toward him, that little smidge closer than anyone else would.
"And this is a sixteenth century skeleton that was flown in specifically for me to identify from Botswana. It's very valuable."
And it is. Bren's been working on this poor old guy for six hours straight. But before, she'd have set the bones aside in an instant to work with Booth on a new case, even if her only explanation was some line about the FBI's partnership with the Jeffersonian being the more immediately pressing priority, or something. Now, she doesn't even crack a smile at his jokes about the skeleton, or the new case. If Booth's problem is that he's working too hard to pretend like everything's normal, Brennan's is that she's not trying hard enough. She thinks she's playing it perfectly, but I know them both too well not to see that something's happened. And it's not a sudden influx of hot scientist/agent lovin' like I've been saying the whole time.
"Alright, if the case is as high profile as you say, I suppose I should make it a priority. Let me get my coat." She pulls off her gloves as she walks off the platform toward her office.
Another obvious sign, Booth doesn't follow her with a happy grin on his face. He looks at the dead Botswanan guy like he's actually interested.
"Okay honey, you're going to tell me what happened, right now."
He looks up. "Hey Ange, didn't see you there. What's up?"
"Cut the crap, Booth." I cross my arms to show him I mean business. "What happened between you and Brennan?"
"What are you talking about? Nothing happened."
Oh, that was good. If I didn't know better, I'd almost be convinced.
"Come on Booth, I'm a master at this. I see and know everything. The stunning mating dance of the two beautiful flamingos is missing steps, so tell me what's going on!"
"Now I'm a flamingo?" He manages to look both puzzled and condescendingly amused, a talent I admire, but don't have time for.
"I'm being serious here. I know something's up. You guys finally spill your hearts out to each other?"
His innocent expression darkens, eyes fixing on me suddenly in a no-nonsense, impossible-to-ignore way, and the smile drops off my face. "Nothing happened, Angela, and it's really not any of your business. So just butt out, okay?"
I stare at him for a few moments, totally shocked by the spontaneous change from the happy-go-lucky Booth I know to this angry, defensive man. His eyes continue to bore into mine, pressing the point home. I don't know how long we stayed there just like that before a voice intruded into our eye-lock.
"Booth? Are you ready to go?"
He looked away from to and his whole demeanor changed. His body tenses up and this tight, mostly convincing smile sets on his face. "Yep, the SUV's right out front."
She doesn't seem to notice the totally fakeness of his happy tone, and keeps walking across the platform. "I hope you didn't park in the fire lane again. I know you said you can just wave your badge at security if it becomes an issue, but I don't think you'd really like to abuse your authority like that."
He doesn't roll his eyes before explaining that he was joking, and I watch them as they leave the lab. There's almost a foot of empty space between them, completely unheard of for the two of them in years.
"Something's definitely wrong."
Maybe if we ignore it, we can go back to the way things were. That's how it's supposed to work, right? Why sacrifice a good thing just for some lingering awkwardness? It'll be alright, we can make everything go back to normal, if we just forget…