Author's Note: Hi everyone! Hooray for a new Bones story, huh? I have to say, I haven't been impressed with season six so far. I'm hanging in there, of course, but I'm really hoping B & B get back to being more like themselves soon. Anyway, this started out as a tag for the third episode, and then it just kept going. Set after the third episode, but I'm not really following the rest of the episodes. This is what I would like to happen, LOL! As always, reviews and constructive criticism are very much appreciated! I look forward to hearing what you think. Also, at the beginning of each chapter I've added song lyrics that apply to that chapter. I listen to these as I'm writing - they help my muse. :) And on to the story!
Disclaimer: NOT MINE. Sad day.
You say you're not going to fight
Because no one will fight for you
and you think there's not enough love
and no one to give it to
And you're sure you've hurt for so long
you've got nothing left to lose
so you say you're not going to fight
because no one will fight for you.
~ Robot Boy, Linkin Park
Brennan hated running.
She could feel the pressure – almost pain – in the joints of her legs as they carried her forward, her feet pounding out a rhythmic staccato as they slapped the pavement. She hated the act of running, but she understood and appreciated not only the need for it, but the value of running itself. So even though she hated it, Brennan ran.
She knew that there was a small workout room in her apartment building, but Brennan refused to run on a treadmill. She also knew that there was a gym just down the street from her apartment, and another one just a block from the Jeffersonian, but Brennan had never saw fit to become a member or either. Instead, she'd simply put on her running gear and either hit the nearest park, or just run around the formidable grounds that made up the Jeffersonian. She mostly preferred to run in the mornings, before anyone else showed up – she brought a gym bag and showered in one of the showers set aside for staff use. Despite her distaste for running, she had grown rather fond of her morning ritual.
This Wednesday morning was no different. The air was cool but not unpleasant as she entered the homestretch back to the lab. The grounds of the Jeffersonian were still quiet, the only disruption to the stillness the sound of her breathing and the steady beat of her steps.
On most mornings, Brennan felt as calm and still as the environment around her. Most mornings, running was a sure and easy way to clear her mind; she didn't think about work, or murder, or paperwork or even her friends. She just ran.
This morning, however, was not like most mornings.
This morning, Brennan did not feel calm. She did not feel easy or relaxed, and her mind was not blank. Oh no.
This morning, Temperance was thinking about telephones. Not telephones in general, but a specific one: a certain old Bakelite rotary phone that now sat in Booth's apartment. She had tried to banish the image from her mind, had stubbornly pushed every thought away as it came to mind and still the ache was there.
Hannah had taken her advice and made a very good choice. The old black phone was a perfect fit for Booth, one that Brennan could imagine herself getting him. Somehow, that only made the ache worse. She had nothing against Hannah – she seemed a perfectly affable woman, well suited to Booth in many ways. And that made the ache worse too. She could deal with the ache, or had at least promised herself that she would, but the phone … that damn phone.
Brennan wanted nothing more than for Booth to be happy, and if Hannah was what made him happy then she could live with that. The woman had come to her for advice, and she had given it freely. It was only later in the day, after she'd really thought about it (and it was too late), that the ache had really started to set in. The knowledge about the phone was personal, something Booth had shared with her after Pops had gone back to the retirement home. As soon as she had really thought about it, Brennan had felt like she'd given away something that was hers, and private. She had given away a secret – their secret.
The ache had only gotten worse. The look on his face when he'd seen the phone, the way he'd been oblivious to her as he thanked Hannah and gave her a kiss … that was it. She had to leave. She'd said goodbye quickly, and as she headed for the door something inside her was screaming. How could he not see? How did he not know that it was her, Bones, who was displaying the real thoughtfulness? Had he forgotten that he'd ever even told her that story?
Brennan forced the thoughts away. By now she was almost to the front doors, so she slowed to a walk and checked her watch. Just after six in the morning; she had at least an hour before anyone else showed up in the lab. She pulled her access badge out of her armband and turned down her iPod, making her way to the lab doors more from muscle memory than from actual thought. The interior of the building was still mostly dark, but that didn't bother the anthropologist. Or rather, it didn't usually bother her. There were times when she felt a strange tightening in her chest at the thought of being alone in the dark, but she made it a point to ignore those times. She didn't bother to turn on any of the lights, preferring the silence and the darkness for awhile longer. She did turn on the small lamp on her desk when she reached her office, mostly so she could make her way around the room without running into anything. She set her iPod on the docking station that sat on one of the shelves behind her desk and selected an appropriately relaxing playlist before hitting play. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, appreciating the music as the first strains of melody filled her office. Brennan didn't stay still for long, however, grabbing her gym bag off her couch and heading to the showers. There was still plenty of time before the rest of her friends got there – as she made her way to the shower, Bones promised herself that no matter how hurt or confused she felt over the state of things in her life now, no one would be the wiser. She had a job to do.
Angela smiled appreciatively as she strolled easily into Brennan's office. Although her friend had initially protested over her birthday present, she seemed to get a lot of use out of the thing. She'd tried to tell Angela that she would have no use for such a thing, but Angela had wisely ignored her and insisted she try it anyway. Now, it seemed, Brennan was as attached to her iPod as Angela was to hers.
"Great song, sweetie," Angela commended as she recognized the song
"I find that Leona Lewis has a very pleasing voice," Brennan replied without looking away from her report
"Hodgins would agree with you on that one. What are you working on this early?"
Angela seated herself against the edge of her friend's desk, leaning over to try and get a glimpse of what Brennan was writing. She was not surprised to see the Medico-Legal letterhead at the top of the page – what else would Brennan be working on at seven in the morning? She'd always been a workaholic to an exaggerated degree, and Angela worried that it was only going to get worse now that Booth had seemingly lost his mind.
"I'm just trying to catch up on some paperwork," Brennan answered, finally looking at her friend, "getting everything in the lab back to a fully operational status."
"Yeah, you just sounded like one of those people from Star Trek, Bren," Angela said with a wry smile
"I don't know what that means, Ange."
"Star Trek. Ya know, the TV. show with Captain Kirk and Spock and …" Angela trailed off when she saw that her friend was only growing more confused. She switched tactics. "You and me, sweetie, we're going shopping today after work. You're going to spend some quality time with your best friend, and we are going to buy you a television. Among other things."
"No, Ange, I do not need a television. It would only distract me and negatively affect not only the quantity but the quality of my work," Brennan protested
Angela crossed her arms and fixed her friend with a half stern, half indulging smile.
"What are you listening to right now, Bren?"
"And who insisted that you have that iPod?"
"You did. Don't you remember giving it …"
"Yeah, Sweetie, I remember. I'm making a point. You like the iPod – trust me a little, would ya? T.V. is not your enemy."
"Very well," Bones acquiesced, making Angela smile
"So what are we working on today?" Angela asked, changing topics
"I've had Wendell bring up a set of remains from bone storage. We don't have an active case at the moment."
"Speaking of cases, have you heard from Booth lately?"
"I haven't talked to Booth in nearly three days," Brennan answered, trying to sound as nonchalant as she could manage
Angela gave a low whistle and shook her head. Brennan was a master at keeping things to herself (especially when it came to the emotional side) but Angela had had many years to brush up on her Brennan reading skills. She was now so adept at reading her friend, in fact, that even though she was trying to hide it Angela could see the hurt lurking beneath those ocean blue eyes. She felt sympathy for her friend and irritation at Booth simultaneously, and her pregnancy hormones only seemed to amplify both. Angela could think of many ways she would like to fix the situation – most of which consisted of some stern talking to Booth to let him know just how monumentally idiotic he was being. She refrained, however, because she could tell that Brennan was truly trying to be supportive of her partner, no matter how much it was hurting her to do so. Angela figured that if her friend could be the bigger woman, then Angela should do her best to be one as well; even if Booth did deserve a good beating.
Brennan was trying not to dwell on it. She'd been doing her best all week not to read too much into the marked absence of her partner, telling herself that it was only natural that there should be distance between them now that he had a serious girlfriend. This was simply one of the many changes that she was going to have to get used to now.
Brennan's musings were interrupted by the sharp trill of her desk phone. She answered it quickly, only half noticing as Angela slipped away to let her have some privacy. Her mind was on other things as she listened to the voice on the other line, and her responses were automatic. The call wasn't really important anyway: her publisher was "just checking in" to see how her latest book was coming along. She managed to give a few answers, then found an excuse to hang up. Dealing with her manager gave her a headache.
She hadn't been off the phone for more than five minutes when Wendell knocked and stepped into the office.
"I've brought the remains from limbo, Dr. Brennan," He informed her, "I've set them up on the forensic platform. Would you like me to get started, or should I wait for you?"
"Just let me sign this, Wendell, and we can get started."
She added a hurried signature to the bottom block of the form she'd been filling out when Angela had come to talk to her. She was eager to bury herself in work; the restless, uneasy feeling she'd been trying to shake all morning refused to go away, and she was unnerved. She needed something to get her mind off of Booth and all the things in her life that just didn't seem to make sense anymore. She needed to take a step back and get everything under control again, and without Booth there to reel her in she figured she wouldn't have a problem. He was so engrossed in Hannah and their new relationship that he wouldn't even notice the absence of his partner.
Brennan stood and slipped her lab coat on over the dress she'd worn today, then followed Wendell to the platform. Her student took up post across the table from her, and they were silent as they each pulled on a pair of latex gloves. Brennan's eyes were already roving over the bones that had been carefully laid upon the table. Already she knew that these bones belonged to a male, no more than thirty five years old at the time of his death.
"What do you see, Mr. Bray?" She asked
Brennan let the rest of the world fade away as she listened to Wendell tell her everything he could about the bones before them. All thoughts of Booth or telephones or uneasiness faded from her mind as she focused on the task at hand. Nothing mattered to her now, nothing except finding out what happened to the man that lay before them.
Hours slipped past. She let Wendell go to lunch sometime around noon, but she kept working. Angela came to bug her about eating not long after that, but Brennan would not be swayed. She made an excuse, saying that she would eat later, and only after promising her friend several times that she really would eat did Angela leave.
One-thirty found Brennan still perched over the set of bones, staring intently at the right distal phalanges when the sound of footsteps coming up the platform stairs behind her reached her ears.
"I told you, Ange, I'll eat later," She said automatically
"You haven't eaten yet?" A different voice asked
Booth's voice almost made her catch her breath. She considered turning around, then decided against it. She felt a little childish, but if he could go a full three days without so much as calling her, then she could certainly refrain from giving him her full attention now.
"I'm busy," She answered coolly
"I can see that," He said easily, "But you still need to eat, Bones."
Brennan felt irrationally irritated. He ignored her for three days, then just decided to show up unannounced in her lab and tell her to eat in that same caring voice he always used when he was being nice? What did he care whether or not she ate? She made no response; part of her felt guilty for the angry thoughts running rampant through her mind. She couldn't fault him for wanting to spend time with his girlfriend. She simply had to realize that she no longer had such a large part in his life now, which would certainly mean that they didn't spend as much time together.
Behind her, Booth took a minute to look over his partner. He couldn't see her face, but he could see tension between her shoulder blades. Her movements were easy, graceful, like they always were. He wasn't happy to hear that she hadn't eaten yet, despite Angela obviously having prodded her to do exactly that. He did not miss the coolness in her voice when she answered him, but he could make no comment. He had been the one to avoid talking to her for the last few days – of course she would feel irritated with him. He'd thought about whether or not he should explain himself on the drive over, but decided against it. What would he say? "Hey, Bones, I really missed you but I tried not to?" Yeah, right. That sounded just as bad as "Hey, Bones, I know we talk everyday but I just don't know how to balance spending time with you and spending time with my girlfriend". That sounded even worse, so he just opted not to say anything at all.
"We have a case," He said instead, keeping his tone friendly
"I'm already in the middle of something, Booth," She shot back
"Yeah, but I'm sure he's been dead for awhile. A little longer won't hurt him. C'mon, we've got a crime scene to go to."
She hesitated, then straightened and pulled off her gloves. She could do this; this was a case, just like the hundreds of other cases they'd worked on together. This was routine for them, this is what they did. What did it matter if she was starting to feel like she was losing a friend? What did it matter if she wasn't sure how to talk to him anymore? All that mattered was that there was a murder to solve, and a criminal to find.
"Let me get my coat."
The sun, already past its zenith, was behind her and warming her back through her clothes as she knelt down to look at the body. They were on a nature trail in one of Washington D.C's national parks; the body had been found half hidden under a layer of underbrush and dirt. A jogger had tripped over a length of femur that had most likely been dug out by animals.
"Talk to me, Bones," Booth called as he walked away from the county sheriff and towards her
"Victim's female. No more than thirty years old when she was killed."
"How long has she been dead?"
"Judging by the rate of decomposition … three weeks. Hodgins can tell us more once he's had a chance to look at particulates. There are several bone fragments in the dirt around the right hand – I think the remains have been chewed on."
"Let me guess: send it all to the Jeffersonian?"
"Yes, I think that is the wisest course of action," She agreed
Booth called instructions over his shoulder to have it all packed up and sent to the lab, but Brennan had already stood and was making her way back to Booth's SUV. The ride to the crime scene had been mostly quiet, leaving her feeling even more uneasy than she had already felt. She had debated over whether or not to ask Booth if he was mad at her for something, but she couldn't think of any reason that he would be. The last time she had talked to him before this they had parted ways easily, if a little awkwardly.
She pulled the passenger door open with a little more force than she'd intended to. Brennan felt confused; she hated feeling confused. She hated feeling like she was missing something, like there was something that she should have figured out.
Bones was just sliding into her seat and pulling out the seatbelt when the driver door opened and Booth popped in to the seat.
"Geez, Bones, you took off fast," He said congenially, starting the vehicle, "Everything okay?"
"That depends on what you mean by everything, Booth."
"Are you okay, I mean."
"I'm fine," She answered automatically, "I'd just like to get back to the lab and get to work on identifying the victim."
Booth said nothing, navigating his way off the dirt path and back onto the road. He glanced at his partner out of the corner of his eye: she sat perfectly still, eyes trained on the view outside the front window. He tried to think of something to say, but everything sounded so stupid when he said it to himself silently. Everything felt so complicated now, he just didn't know where to begin.
"How's Hannah?" Bones asked then, breaking the silence
"She's good," Booth responded evenly, wondering why the question hurt him to hear
"That's good to hear," Brennan said, feeling stupid and wishing she hadn't asked
"Look, Bones," Booth started, suddenly feeling like he would explode if he didn't explain, "I'm sorry that I haven't called in the last few days."
"You have nothing to apologize for, Booth."
"Yes I do. You and I talk all the time, Bones. I wasn't trying to avoid you, and I'm not mad …"
"It's perfectly understandable that you have better things to do with your time than talk to me now, Booth. I don't need an explanation," She interrupted, not ready to hear his excuses
"Better things to …? Is that what you think, Bones, that I don't want to talk to you?" He asked, glancing toward her
"I didn't say that. However, it is perfectly natural that you and I would converse less now that you are in a committed relationship."
"I hurt your feelings," He said in a matter of fact way
"What? Don't be ridiculous, Booth," Brennan huffed, "Of course you didn't hurt my feelings. My life does not revolve around whether or not I talk to you every day."
"I know you, Bones," Booth continued, ignoring the jibe in her words, "I know you start talking like that when you're feelings have been hurt, and I'm sorry. I didn't mean to upset you, I just … I didn't know what to say."
His voice got softer toward the end of his statement, but Brennan felt as if he'd been screaming. She kept her eyes trained on the road as he turned into the parking garage at the Jeffersonian. He didn't know what to say? That confession hurt almost as much as being ignored for the last three days. They were friends, partners; they'd shared nearly everything in their six years together and he didn't know what to say to her? Booth, the heart person, the one who was great at reading people and forming relationships with nearly everyone, and he didn't know how to talk to her? What could she possibly say to that? She knew that things had changed between them, that they were only going to continue to change, but surely they hadn't changed that much?
Booth pulled into a parking space and didn't even have time to shut off the engine before Brennan was unbuckled and nearly leaping out the door.
"I'll call you when I have something," She said quickly
"You don't want me to come in with you?" Booth asked, taken aback
"There's nothing for you to do right now," She rationalized, "It'll take us a little while to sort through everything and do the tissue markers for an I.D."
"Are you sure, Bones?" Booth asked, although he wanted to insist on going in with her
"Have a good night, Booth."
The sound of the car door closing sounded like a thunderclap in his ears.