A/N: So So So terribly sorry for the late update. I was busy with exams, personal life crises and family functions (though that is no excuse). I hope from now on, I can update weekly…

For those who are interested I'm writing two other fics "Revelations in The Sessions" and "Of Life and Love". The first one being fluffy and light-hearted while the latter being angsty and slightly more philosophical. If you are interested or have lots of free time, please read them and leave a review… ^_^ It makes my day.

I am trying to overcome some MAJOR writer's block and I'm not quite sure whether I succeeded. Due to which, this chapter maybe lacking in quality. So, I'm warning you beforehand. Let me know if you thought the chapter sucked though.

For those who haven't noticed, I'm from India. India as in 'Bollwood movies', ' Hot Samosas', 'Monsoon Rains'- India (Hence my affinity to drama) . So I have no actual idea about dating or double dating. So if at any moment in the story, you are going 'WTF?'. Please forgive me; I would blame it on the lack of knowledge about Western Culture.

Also, I had told you Booth was going to suffer. Well, he has a fair dose of misery in this chapter. After all the pain he has given to our beloved Bones I would say this is only fair. Let me know, if you want Booth to suffer more though.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bones. No copyright infringement intended.

Plea to anyone who is listening: For heaven's sake, Puh-lease… Retract season Six!

Onto the story… Hope you enjoy it…

. . . . . . .


THE TROUBLE IN THE DOUBLE DATE


. . . . . . .

Angela Montenegro-Hodgins sighed for the hundredth time that day. She was nearly on the edge of pulling her hair out in frustration and then taking Booth's gun and shooting at random things. She knew something had been wrong with Brennan. The way she ran away from the Jeffersonian, the way she slapped Ruth… Angela just knew that something had been terribly wrong. And she was worried, her best friend slipping off into god knows what and there was nothing she could do… She didn't even know what was wrong…

She sighed as she ran her hand over her belly protectively. All this worrying is not good for the little one, she thought. But what to do? The little one has got a really stubborn woman as her aunt… Angela smiled at the thought of Brennan teaching her child all the different bones in the body or maybe Jack teaching the baby about different creepy crawly insects. He/ She would definitely grow up to be a 'squint'. She was sure of that…

Her thoughts returned to Brennan. She seemed much better today. It even felt a little bit that the heavy weight that she used to carry on her shoulders these days was lifted, at least partially today. She smiled at Angela as she said her usual 'Good Morning, Ange'. That is a good sign, right?

But no matter how many times Angela asked her what had happened, she didn't answer. At least not truthfully. She had just brushed it off saying she was stressed yesterday because she had quite a good load of work to be done and that was the cause of her irrational behaviour. She had said that she was sorry for her actions yesterday and she has conveyed the same to Ruth. Yeah, stressed about work, my ass. Truth be told, Angela was slightly annoyed that Brennan didn't confide to her these days. She was her best friend! She was supposed to tell her these things, dammit!

Behind her someone cleared her throat. Angela turned around to see Ruth standing at the door of her office.

"Hi." An awkward smile.

Angela smiled back. "Hey there."

"I was just looking for Temperance's office. You know… Ju- just to let her know, it was alright."

Angela nodded. "Yeah. Right." Another nod. "So, she apologized to you?"

"Yeah… She-She sent me a mail." Ruth replied, stepping into her office.

"A mail?"

"Yes, it was more like a formal apology thingie, you know." Ruth smiled, shaking her head. "So she sent a mail saying she had acted very irrationally and that she deeply apologises for her misconduct. She wasn't in a rational state of mind and feels sorry about that. She hopes that I would accept her apology but would understand if I didn't and will hold only respect for me in her heart."

Angela chuckled. "That sounds like Bren, alright." She said, amused. But then defending her best friend she added, "She really cares you know. She really is sorry. She just can't express it like the others do."

"Yeah, I know."

"Underneath the icy exterior beats a very warm heart." Angela added.

"Very warm, indeed. And a huge one too." Ruth added.

"That's right."

"I gotta go. And meet Temperance. Have a nice day." Ruth said as she headed for the door.

"Yeah, you too."

Just as she reached the door Ruth turned around, "Oh, by the way, did you find out what she was upset about last night?"

Angela shook her head negative. "Nah, I couldn't find out a thing. She's a closed book. But, you might get something out of her though."

"Wait…" Ruth's smile faded. "What does that mean?"

"What does 'what' mean?"

"That little comment in the end…" Ruth once again stepped into her office.

"Oh… Nah. Nothing. It was just- Nothing." Angela shook her head negative and waved her hands, slightly flustered.

"Well, I may not be a cop, but I know there is something there."

"No... No, it's nothing. Really nothing."

Ruth just stood there her arms crossed and an eyebrow raised.

Angela sighed. "Its-just… Its-" She sighed. "I-I get worried, you know. A lot of things are happening in Bren's life and it feels like I'm not included."

"Well-"

"No, it's not even that. Brennan includes me in EVERYTHING in her life. It's… it's not that. It's more like… She has a lot going on in her mind and even though she has always been a closed book, she is even more so these days. And she has a lot going on in her mind, in her heart… And I don't even know what it is. I-" Angela sighed and rubbed her face with her palm. "I-I wanna know what is happening. I wanna know what's in her mind and I want to help her with it. I just don't want to keep guessing what is wrong, you know? I want her to tell me. So that I can help. It's- It's like she has to fight this huge battle but I don't know what that is and I can't help. I want to help. I-I want to make sure she's okay. I get worried, you know. I want her to be alright."

"Maybe… Maybe she has some things that she needs to figure out on her own." Ruth offered.

"Yeah, right." Angela smirked. "That's why she talks to you."

"So…" Ruth paused, biting her bottom lips. "You-You're jealous?"

"I'm not, ok! I'm not jealous… I'm- I'm a good person and I just want her to have lots of friends. I am okay if she makes new friends. It's not that… It's-" Angela exhaled sharply.

Taking a deep breath, she continued slowly, "It's… I am her best friend of six years, logically, logically, shouldn't she feel that it is more beneficial to confide in me than… well, you?"

Ruth pondered over it for a moment before replying, "Logically, yes. She should feel more comfortable and confide in you. But, I think, we both know that she has left her logic behind, for some time now…"

"Yeah…"

"And, I don't know what you are jealous of. I mean, come on…" She said angling her head to one side. "You are her best friend. You two are practically sisters…"

"Yet, she doesn't tell me these things." Angela opened her mouth to tell something a few times. "I-I.. You know what. It doesn't even matter. I'm not the one at focus here. I mean I have everything, Jack and our baby. Bren is-She's the one having a tough time. I shouldn't be whining like a 9 year old."

"Exactly." Ruth replied snapping her finger.

"What? That I shouldn't be whining?"

"No… That Temperance is the one having a tough time. And sometimes the reason why we don't tell our friends about what is going on inside our little heads is not because they aren't close enough. It is because they are too close."

"Huh?"

"I think, and I know I'm not a great thinker or genius, but let's just hear me out here. I think, she is not telling you about what she feels because A, obviously she's not exactly wear-your-heart-on-the-sleeve-kinda person and B, you're too close. You know her like the back of your palm."

Angela put on an amused smile. "Really? That's your defense? Too close?"

"Yes, and you know what? It makes the most sense too. See, if she comes and tells me the greatest guy on earth came and proposed to her and she turned him down, I would just say 'oh'. But you… You would probably know both her and the guy. You would know what they did for her. And let's just be honest, you would poke and probe until you get reasons why she did that because you care. But the thing is, the reason why she probably did that was because she got scared. And in the end, she'd have to reveal her fears and insecurities… you know. And no one, and when I say no one I mean no one, wants to say aloud their fears and insecurities. Because the moment you do that, it becomes real…"

Angela smiled and gave a noncommittal shrug, "I guess that is true."

"You are damn right it is." Ruth stated, earning a chuckle from Angela.

"But, she's my BFF, you know. By definition, best friends are supposed to be the ones who knows your fears and all and helps you with it. She shouldn't be hiding them from me."

"That is true. But since when have humans not been paradoxical?

Angela laughed. "True."

Ruth smiled too but then her smile slowly faded and she had a somber look. "Just… look at yourself Angela. You are married to the guy you love and… I guess you're having his baby?"

Angela grinned. "That's right, little baby Montenegro-Hodgins."

"Oh, Congratulations, by the way."

"You're welcome."

"As I was saying, you are married to the guy of your dreams, you're having a baby together, you work in a job you love and you've got friends as colleagues. You… You-You have got your happy ending. And not many people get that, trust me." Ruth smirked. "And people like me and Temperance; we're still a looooooooooooooong way from it. We're the ones who aren't even close. We're the ones who are just trying to pick ourselves up when life kicks you down. We're the ones who are trying to heal their broken hearts. And… No offense, but people like that, people who are broken-hearted, doesn't tend to associate themselves much with people who are living their happily-ever-afters. It… It just reminds us of what we've lost."

Angela slowly smiled.

"It's just…" Ruth sighed. "Sometimes, a broken-heart needs another broken one to get itself fixed."

"Yeah, I get it." Angela nodded, then added with a sly smile of hers "So… who broke your heart?"

Ruth grinned. "Ah… wouldn't you like to know?"

"Oh come on… It's the wish of a dying woman."

Ruth chuckled as she replied," "You're not dying."

"Okay… That of a pregnant woman."

"Nuh-uh. Curiosity kills the cat." Ruth nodded 'no', smiling amusedly.

"Yeah, but… I'm not a cat."

Both of them smiled at each other for a few seconds. Ruth asked, "Seriously, though. We're good?"

"We're good." Angela replied. "It was just the hormones speaking. I get, I donno, agitated and angry and frustrated and sad and worried too easily these days."

"Yeah, I-I better do what I came here for."

"Yeah, you do that." Angela exhaled loudly. "And… how do you do it?"

"Do what?"

"Make strangers confess to you or something… you know, I don't usually stay stuff like this to people I don't know very well."

"What can I say? It's one of my special powers."

Angela stated. "You know what? I didn't like you at first, but now… Now, I guess, first impressions don't really matter."

"Glad to know that I have your approval. Anyway, gotta go. Have a nice day." Ruth said as she walked out the door.

"Yeah… You too." Angela called out, before sitting in her chair and smiling to herself.


. . . . . . .

"Hi." Brennan offered awkwardly when she saw Ruth standing at her office.

"Hi there…"

She drew a breath. "Listen, I would like you to know that I-I am deeply remorseful for how I acted. I-I was obviously not in a rational state of mind and I acted quite irrationally. I didn't mean to-to… hit you but… It happened and I-… I apologise profusely. I'm so sorry, I-I didn't mean to. I really didn't."

"Yeah, I got that. I got your mail."

"Yes, I know you did. I-I just… I just wanted to apologise verbally."

Ruth smiled. "Well, apology accepted. I shouldn't have… you know, called you 'Bones' either."

"Really? You accept the apology?" Brennan asked confused.

"Yes, really. Though I would appreciate not getting slapped in the future. So, don't go around thinking that you can do it again." Ruth joked.

"Yes, of course. Why would you think I would want to slap you again?"

"No, it was a-" Ruth smiled. "It doesn't matter. I just wanted to let you know that apology accepted. You're forgiven. But, on one condition."

"Which is?"

"Have lunch with me?"

Brennan smiled. "Just let me get my coat."

. . . . . . .

They were walking out the door of the lab with Brennan zealously explaining various de-fleshing techniques when they heard a distinctively masculine booming voice.

"Bones? Where are ya?"

Since promising his Bones that 'the center will hold', Booth had been thinking of ways to include her in his life. He had realized that maybe it was true that he had been slowly cutting Bones off. But he didn't want to do that. He missed his best friend. He wanted his Bones back. He wanted their friendship and their partnership back. He wanted them to be old 'Bones and Booth'.

So, here he was trying to balance their partnership without jeopardizing his relationship with Hannah. They were supposed to be having lunch together and despite her earlier insecurities (which Booth now admits to himself was justly caused) Hannah was amiable to the idea. So, he and Hannah was here to pick Bones up and head for lunch. But, seems like fate had other plans as he watched his favourite brunette describing some squinty stuff to a person he has instinctually come to dislike.

"Booth…" Brennan noticed the solid bulk of a man standing before her and a blonde beauty beside him. "Hannah." Brennan nodded as a form of greeting. "Wh-What are you doing here?"

"We were going out for lunch together, Bones. Remember?" Booth ground out.

"Oh." Brennan said as she looked at Ruth. "I'm sorry. I had made plans and I forgot. I-" Brennan sighed. Ruth had forgiven her for slapping her and all she asked for return was a lunch. How could she deny that? She turned to Booth and asked hopefully, "I forgot, Booth. I told Ruth I'd go for lunch with her. Maybe we can do this some other time?"

Booth hadn't uttered a word. He was still reeling from the shock that Bones had chosen her girlfriend over having lunch with him. Granted, it was more like lunch with Hannah and him, but still… Quite painfully, he realized how Brennan must have felt all those times he chose to engage in 'satisfaction of biological urges' with his girlfriend over hanging out with Bones and his friends. He still hadn't spoken when Ruth spoke.

"Temperance, it's alright. You go have fun with Agent Booth and… Hannah? I can… you know, always have dinner with you, later." Ruth chuckled and added, "And if I'm lucky, a midnight snack."

"You know what? Why don't you join us?" Hannah offered, smiling.

"Really?" Both Booth and Ruth asked at the same time.

Hannah shot Booth a look before turning to smile at Brennan and Ruth. "Yes, really. That is, if it is ok with you."

"No-" Ruth shook her head. "I don't think that would be a-"

"I insist." Hannah persisted.

Ruth just looked at Brennan who just shrugged and said, "Yeah, sure… Why not?"

Both of them shook their head 'yes'.

"That's great!" Hannah exclaimed clapping her hands together. "It would be like a double date."

Behind her she didn't notice Booth flinch and Brennan suddenly finding an interest in the floor tiles.

. . . . . . .

The ride to the restaurant was a tense and silent one. If anyone seemed unaware of the waves of discomfort and hostility in the SUV, it was Hannah. As though, by some mutual but silent communication by the two partners, they avoided The Royal Diner. Booth tapped on the steering wheel irritated. He was just trying to make things better. The last thing he wanted right now was to go on a sorta-double-date with Hannah & him and his partner & her girlfriend! Things were definitely not going as he wanted… Since when had the universe actually given him what he wanted anyway? He thought bitterly.

As they were entering the restaurant, Ruth was about to hold the door open while Booth jumped in at the opportunity and held the door open for the three ladies to pass through while smiling a little condescendingly at Ruth. She just rolled her eyes.

They were ordering when Brennan entered into her infamous debate of vegetarianism vs. non-vegetarianism. Only the other debater was not the one who usually argued with her over these things.

"Eating meat is highly unhealthy, Ruth. You should be really watching what you eat."

Ruth smiled, knowing she had meant no harm. She was just stating the obvious bluntly in a typical Brennan-way. "It's alright. I'll just burn the extra calories on a treadmill."

"The assumption that regular exercise can compensate for an unhealthy diet is a faulty one. You should have proper diet as well as exercise for a healthy life."

"Oh, come on, Temperance… You must have liked meat at some point in your life."

"Yes, I did, in fact. When I was young I was quite fond of non-vegetarian food. But over time, I realized the repercussions in health due to continued intake of meat. And hence, I became a vegetarian."

"Not everything is about health. Sometimes, it's just-" Ruth shrugged. "It's about the taste."

"I never understood the implication that vegetarian food is not tasty. To the contrary-"

"Temperance, you have to admit. Meat tastes waaaaaay better than those measly vegetables."

"That's not true." Brennan argued. "Also, considering the fact that you like animals, shouldn't you become a vegetarian?"

"Yes." Ruth agreed, nodding vigorously. "I do like animals. In fact, I like them everywhere. Even on my plate." She said, flashing a smile.

"I find that quite hypocritical of you." Brenna retorted.

"Who said I was not hypocritical?" Ruth countered.

"Well, I find that-" Brennan retort was cut short by someone clearing their throat.

"Ahem." And Booth cleared his throat once again. "Shall we order?"

Upon a slightly embarrassed nod from Bones and Ruth and a nudge to his chest by Hannah's elbow, Booth forced a smile on his face. Hannah mumbled to him, "What's wrong with you?" He just raised his eyebrows and pretended that he didn't know what she was talking about.

. . . . . . .

Booth didn't quite know what happened after that. Everything seemed to blur together. He didn't know what he or the others had ordered. He just knew that there was something on his plate and he needed to finish it. He sighed. He wished he hadn't come today. He wished that he hadn't asked Bones out for dinner or better yet he had just stayed home and called in sick. He knew he had no right to be jealous or hurt, after he was the one with a girlfriend. A serious as heart attack girlfriend. Someone he loved… But the truth remains that he did… He did feel jealous and hurt. Very hurt. The little argument that Bones and that little red-head had had just reminded him of what he is missing now. He tried to remember when the last time he and Bones argued like that was. And he realizes quite painfully, that he can't remember. At least not after they returned back from opposite parts of the world… He missed that. He missed their little arguments dearly. Whether it was about Science vs. God or Meat vs. Vegetable or the pros and cons of being a parent or whether love exists or not, whatever their argument was, it was something that was theirs. It was a part of what made them 'Booth and Bones' – the best crime fighting team in America.

And he knew that he was the one who stopped it. He was the one who didn't respond even after she provoked him with 'Love is an idiot' kind of statements. He was the one who ignored it or got annoyed by it. That little ritual of theirs in which they would argue till the cows come home… Because… Because deep down, somewhere deep inside him, even though he didn't give much credence to psychology, he knew that it was their version of foreplay. It was them measuring each other, igniting that passion in each other… And somehow, he felt that it wouldn't be right anymore. It wouldn't be right anymore because he had Hannah. It would be like kissing another woman while still keeping Hannah as his girlfriend. And Seeley Booth was not a man who cheated… Though he felt that he was cheating every time he made love (no, had sex) with Hannah.

God, when had things gotten so screwed up? He was sitting right next to his girlfriend and he was missing his debates with Bones? He was comparing it to foreplay? What was wrong with him?

"-right, Seeley?" Hannah asked looking dotingly at Booth.

That was when Booth realized that Hannah was telling some story of theirs. Feeling three pairs of beautiful eyes staring at him, he didn't know what to say. "Huh?"

Her eyes narrowed. "Weren't you listening?"

Booth chuckled nervously. "Sorry, honey… I-I kinda zoned out."

"You… zoned out?" Hannah asked turning to face Booth. Booth looked over at the other two occupants and found that they were finding this just as uncomfortable as he did.

"I-I… I'm sorry." He flashed his charm smile. And he knew, deep inside, it was just a cheap way of manipulating her. He lied once again. "I'm sorry. I was just thinking about the-the case. It's a tough one and it is getting to me." He smiled apologetically and drew her face closer. "Sorry." he mumbled before planting a kiss on her lips, which slowly grew in passion.

. . . . . . .

Brennan watched as Booth mumbled sorry and captured Hannah's lips with his. She knew she could look somewhere else. She knew she should look somewhere else. But with some morbid fascination she just kept her gaze fixed on the kiss. It was borderline masochistic, but she couldn't look away. She watched and with a weird satisfaction or dissatisfaction that comes along with it, she memorized each movement. And she knew how it felt because she has been on the receiving end three times. And she just kept looking as if someone was forcing her to, though the reality was quite the opposite. She felt her vision blur slightly on the edges. No! Not now! Don't cry now. She really doesn't know how many times she can explain unexpected tears to Booth.

And suddenly she felt a pressure on her hand. The hand she had kept on the table. She glanced sideways to notice that it was Ruth squeezing her hand, as a way to reassure her. She turns her head to face her. And Ruth just blinked at her slowly and smiled. She increased the pressure on her hand a little more. And quite irrationally Brennan felt better. Not because someone was there to reassure her. But because someone noticed... Someone noticed her pain and she knew that it meant that she too had felt it at some point of time. And that thought made that terribly alone feeling shrouding her heart to dissipate. So, she smiled back. A watery and weak smile but still she smiled back.

. . . . . . .

Booth pulled back and smiled and glanced over at the other two and felt his heart squeeze at the sight before him. It was not like Brennan and Ruth were kissing or anything. They were simply holding hands and smiling at each other and somehow (he's not quite sure how) that meant more than anything else.

He now had enough courage to admit to himself what he wouldn't have admitted in a thousand years. At some level, if not conscious then subconscious level, he had enjoyed kissing Hannah in front of Bones. He knew that it made him a bad person to even think that, but he did. Maybe it was because he could prove to Bones that he had moved on. But he knew that was the major part of it. Always, as he turned around after the kiss, he could see Bones uncomfortable. Sometimes, she would be smiling but he knew (just like he knew so many things about her) it was fake. He knew the smile she put on was fake and it gave him a morbid satisfaction that maybe Bones wasn't jealous but she definitely wasn't 'happy' about this. And he saw that fake smile and he felt better. Maybe because it meant that there may be a chance that Bones loved him back too. He didn't know why. And he wasn't going to start questioning now.

But to turn around and see Bones holding hands and looking at the other woman's eyes… He knew it didn't make sense but that somehow tore him a little bit. It wasn't right but he felt a pressure on his heart, as if someone was squeezing it. Bones was holding the hands and smiling that serene smile of hers at Ruth! It was him, it was always him… He was the one at whom she always smiled like this. He was the one whose hands she held. He was the one with whom she argued. Though Brennan had dated many men, Booth had known in the back of his mind that none of those guys knew her. None of those guys actually meant something to her… None of them… Brennan was never the type for handholding or gazing into each other's eyes. But, unknowingly she did it with him… Or rather used to do it with him… It was their thing. It made him feel special...unique. And though he was moving on and probably she was too, it didn't feel good at all that he was so easily replaceable. Like she, the one with the guarded heart, could find someone with whom she could hold hands or gaze into eyes. Actually, it felt like a thousand tonnes had been lowered onto his chest. Because somewhere inside his mind he thought that though Bones would date again, she wouldn't find another Booth. She wouldn't find love, or love of their intensity again. She wouldn't find someone with whom she would hold hands or argue, again… Booth understood for the first time in his life, how much painful it is to realize you were wrong.

And that stupid smile the two women were directing towards each other weren't helping him either. He felt like they didn't even notice that he and Hannah had kissed. But, after all, why would they? Quite irrationally, quite nonsensically he wanted to yell at both of them… He wanted to yell that he was there; he wasn't invisible or a ghost…

"Seeley, are you ok?" asked a concerned Hannah, seeing Booth become rather pale.

"Yeah, I'm fine." He smiled at a concerned Hannah & Bones and a confused Ruth.

Hannah turned to Ruth and Brennan who were once again brought to the present world by Hannah's conversation. "So where was I? Yeah-"

Booth tuned out Hannah's voice once again as he drifted through his thoughts. He glanced at his watch. He prayed to God to let his phone ring and let there be a sudden leads on the case… Anything! To help him escape this self-induced hell he had put himself into. He glued his eyes to his watch and counted the seconds as they ticked by.

. . . . . . .

Brennan could sense that her partner was uncomfortable. She tried to catch his eye and ask him in their silent language what was wrong. But he was busily avoiding her eyes. She could feel Ruth's warm fingers massaging her knuckles to reassure her. She caught Ruth's eye and flashed a brief grateful smile.

Somewhere in the restaurant someone's cell phone rang, creating a sudden loud echo of the ringtone which quite unfortunately turned out to be 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun'.

Maybe it was a trick of Booth's mind (after all he had had brain tumor) but he felt that the ringtone was getting louder and louder and the air around them heavier and heavier. He had suddenly sat up straight, memories of a night many years ago flashing through his mind. The sound of a bullet piercing skin and Bones's pleas to stay with her... He flicked his glance to Bones sitting across him only to see that she froze too. Her eyes betraying her otherwise catatonic face.

Suddenly, Ruth exclaimed, "Hey! It's OUR SONG!" She turned to Brennan and grinned. "It's our song." She exclaimed again, nudging Brennan with her shoulder. She hummed the first few lines of the song while slightly rocking herself side to side. "Oh, come on Temperance. Don't you remember?"

Brennan turned to Ruth trying to mask an amused smile as she remembered that ridiculous night and their impromptu, weird & awkward dancing. And something in her gaze stopped Brennan from averting her eyes. Ruth held her gaze as she half-said and half-sang 'Girls just wanna have fun' passionately. And, for the first time, Brennan caught on to the double meaning and flushed slightly.

Brennan turned her attention back to the plate of food in front of her, slightly flustered. As if sensing her discomfort, Ruth turned back to familiar jovial teasing. She said gesturing with her fork, "Don't tell me you didn't enjoy that night. Because I know you did." She looked at Brennan cocking her head to the side. "Cause nobody can do it the way I did it." She stated with uttermost confidence referring to her Michael Jackson moves.

Brennan laughed out loud at that. She shook her head trying to hide the frivolous grin that was too stubborn to hide.

. .

The ringtone had stopped for a few moments now and she is quite grateful to Ruth for creating those memories with her, for her… Still, she hears the song echo in her ears and haunted reverberations of a bullet fired melding with her screams. She just hopes that the others don't notice that her hands are shaking.


. . . . . . .

It is really frustrating to watch one's day transform from bad to the worst. Especially when there is nothing one can do about it. Booth was certain that the day could not get any worse when the cell phone rang and the notes of 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' floated to his ears. And he realized it just had gotten worse. Much worse.

It was like living through hell once again. He could still feel the joy he felt while watching Bones sing and then the utter panic he felt when he saw Pam Nunan raise her gun. He could still feel the sheer desperation and outright fear when he realized what was going to happen. He could still feel the pure relief he felt when he knew that it was his chest that was pierced by the bullet not hers. He could still feel the regret at not telling her how he truly felt about her as he felt his eyes close on its own. He still feels that regret gnawing at his heart.

As horrible as this experience is for him, he knew that it was harder for Bones. Just as he sat up straight, with his reflexes on alert, he flicked his eyes to Bones who had also frozen on the spot. He knew whatever was going to happen would not be pretty now. He mentally calculated how to tell his girlfriend about how he had jumped in front of a gun to save his partner's life.

But something utterly beyond his imagination (or expectation) happened. The woman that Bones is dating suddenly exclaimed 'Hey! It's OUR song!' And he felt his lungs collapse…

He painfully watched as Bones turned to Ruth and talked something and the lady nudged her mouthing the lyrics of the song. Then he saw as Bones's snagged on Ruth's. And Ruth sang 'Girls Just Wanna Have Fun' to her in what seemed to him as a deep timbre, a husky voice. And Bones flushed and averted her gaze. It was as if he was watching a morbid gruesome movie that he just could not close his eyes to.

And then he could see the younger woman jovially tease Bones about that night (whatever night it was). He could hear her talk, "Don't tell me you didn't enjoy that night. Because I know you did. 'Cause nobody can do it the way I did it." He felt bile rising in his throat. It took all of his willpower to rein in his imagination and to try NOT to find what that meant.

God! It was their song. Okay, maybe not. 'Hotblooded' was their song. But this song held a special meaning too. Because he goddamn fricking died in it! Okay, he didn't really die. But he was pretty damn close. And to know that the song was now Bones and Ruth's song… It was a kick to the groin. It felt like he was being punched in the gut. He died in that song and she thought it was okay to make that their (Bones' and Ruth's) song? Was he so easily replaceable? Did she really not feel anything when she heard it? Or had she already forgotten that he had died during the song? Had his death been masked by whatever 'enjoyable thing' they did that night? And to add salt to the injury, the double entendre wasn't lost on him either.

And quite irrationally, quite senselessly, Booth felt his throat tighten and he was sure he would choke on his food if he took another bite.

God! He ran a hand desperately through his hair. How did the day get so screwed up?

. . . . . . .

He didn't know how the rest of the ordeal has passed. He doesn't even know how the rest of the day passed. It all seemed like a blur… As if he was in a trance… or a horrible nightmare he just cannot get out of. He remembers footing the bill. And as he walked out of the restaurant with Hannah, he looked back to see Ruth and Bones coming out. Ruth whispering something in her ear as Bones chuckled in response to it. And with a painful insight, he realizes Bones can laugh without him… She can be happy without him… And that stung… A lot.

Hannah had said she was already late and needed to run, as she kissed Seeley goodbye and caught a cab to work. Booth just couldn't bear the thought of being alone with them for even a few more minutes, so he had made some cock and bull story of new lead on the case and he had to go ASAP. As usual, Bones didn't suspect anything and said that she could take a cab with Ruth to Jeffersonian. And as they entered they cab, he saw Ruth kiss Bones on the cheek and Bones smiling in response before getting into the cab. Though doctors would say otherwise he was pretty sure his heart had twisted at the sight.

What affected him was not the sexual relationship or the dating. What affected him was the affection and mutual understanding that seemed to flow between the two women. What affected was the easy friendship and comfort between them. Something that he had monopolized with Brennan, but not anymore…

As he turned to his SUV, he felt someone tap his shoulders and turned around to find Ruth standing in front of him.

"Agent Booth." She said, as a form of greeting. Then corrected herself sarcastically, "Oh, I'm sorry. Special Agent Booth."

His patience was wearing thin today and he was not in a mood to play nice. "What is it?"

"I understand that you do not like me and I'm pretty okay with that. I am not too fond of you either. But I'd really appreciate it, if you did not express your disapproval or rather disgust so openly."

"What are you talking about?"

"Agent Booth" Ruth smiled. "Your scowls and frowns weren't exactly subtle. In fact, I doubt you would be having a lot to explain to your girlfriend once you reach home."

Was it true? Were his feelings so easily readable on his face?

Upon Booth's continued silence, she continued. "And it is none of my concern. I do not care. You needn't like me. I get that. I totally get that. But Temperance… She-She deserves a break, alright? She deserves to be happy. And the fact is in any decision about any aspect of her life, she seeks your approval. So, you needn't be happy about me and Temperance but you needn't be so disapproving either. Let her be happy." And with that she turned to leave.

Booth at last seemed to find his lost voice. " I-"

She turned around to place her hands on his shoulders. "Agent Booth, either you should be ready to understand the truth. Acknowledge it and say it to her, or you should let her be happy. Whatever that means. Whether it means her being with someone else or not. You should be happy for her." She wiped out invisible dust on his shoulders and patted his cheek before turning to the cab that was for her, smiling.

Booth just stood there dumbstruck. Wondering when life had moved so fast. And he realized for the very first time, how painful being happy for someone else can be.


. . . . . . .

A/N: *Shredding the last bit of my dignity* *Getting on knees and begging* Show some holiday spirit, be generous in your reviews…. ^_^

And an incredibly late MERRY CHRISTMAS… And Hope all you guys have a HAPPY AND PROSPEROUS AND DOWNRIGHT OUTSTANDING NEWYEAR… :D