Retaliation

Spoilers: through season 5 & 6, especially Season 6 premiere. Adult themes but nothing really graphic, just hints. One naughty word in the Author's notes. Sorry. I toned it down, though, I swear like a sailor in RL.

Reviews = love.

He'd come back with a woman. She knew it was inevitable he would find someone else who could love him and give themselves to him more completely than she could. But it still hurt, the ache of abandonment – the very reason she did not believe in love. Love was a chemical, and chemical reactions could not hurt as much as the pain of rejection. It was one pain she couldn't deal with. So, as Sweets would have verbalised it had he known, she retaliated.

At first she did it just to feel something, anything other than the agony of being left behind. Sex was something she enjoyed, something she could be passionate about outside of her work. She loved that physics and chemistry could combine so perfectly, from the first meeting, the first euphoric rush of pheromones between two potential partners. The small talk she wasn't as good at but she was learning. Once she mentioned sex the small talk seemed to stop and it was a race to see who could get who home quicker. She preferred to go to their places simply for the anonymity it gave her. She could slip away in the early hours of the morning, leaving no note, no trace of her other than a scent on their pillows and a memory.

Lately, she'd been seeing the same man; she wouldn't call it a relationship since she knew nothing more than his first name and what he looked like naked, but it was becoming regular. They seemed to find each other naturally now and he didn't want to know anything else about her, only if she needed another drink or if she was ready to leave with him. The last three nights they'd met at the same bar, one across the city from where she worked so there was less chance of running into someone she knew – of seeing Booth and Hannah out, or Angela and Hodgins.

Sex with him was amazing. They were both assertive in bed and it was becoming a battle of wills between them, to see who could get what they wanted first. It was also becoming rough. She'd needed extra makeup to cover the marks on her neck that morning. It would be more convenient if it was winter and she could wear a scarf to cover the bruises that were coming up. She doubted anyone would notice; Angela was too busy with Hodgins, reliving memories of Paris. And Booth... He was noticeably more absent, particularly through lunchtime. When they finished a case now, too, their celebration drinks were too often forgotten so he could go home to her. This was convenient, though, because then Brennan could dress herself appropriately in pickup attire before going to a bar to find the man of the night who would fill the empty void inside her with his ego, his arrogance; his manhood.

She had managed to keep it from him so far, her nocturnal behaviour, simply because he was otherwise occupied outside of their working hours. They had decided their relationship, if it would go on between them moving neither forward nor back, should allow more time for them outside work. Brennan had not disagreed although she would deeply miss late night Chinese food, all-hours phone calls and being able to go to his apartment anytime she needed him. Things you did with your best friend, or lover. But apparently, as Booth told her, their friendship needed to have more limits so his relationship could work – either his current relationship with Hannah, or any that would follow. Brennan had agreed and had known this decision was one he hadn't made lightly, one she had forced upon him because of her inability to form the adequate non-platonic relationship she knew he would demand if she'd returned his sentiment of love. She wanted to let him know that it wasn't the sex that was holding her back. She was prepared – wanted – to sleep with him. But she had nothing to give him other than that – and she knew he desired, needed, more. She would rather give him all of something rather than half of it, and keep him from something better. So she gave him nothing at all. He deserved better than her – she knew that, even if he didn't.

Blinking at her computer screen, Brennan realised she needed to focus. She'd been staring at the same bone x-ray for the past three and a half minutes without taking in any details. She'd taken a cab home this morning at 3 a.m. after a particularly satisfying night. It had been him again, the tall, broad shouldered faux-stranger that she had been going home with lately. But she didn't want to get attached. Tonight it would be a different bar, a different man.

"Bones!" Booth's voice startled her from her second try at concentrating and she frowned momentarily before giving up entirely. It was nearly eight and everyone else had gone home for the day. Brennan had changed into the dress she was going to be wearing for at least half of the night – before a new man peeled it off her – and was just wasting time until it was a reasonable hour to head to the new bar she was going to try tonight.

"Booth." She pointedly checked her watch. It was a long time since she'd seen him in the Jeffersonian so late.

"Shouldn't you be with Hannah?"

"She's... working late, Bones what are you wearing?" Booth changed topic suddenly as she stood up and turned her computer screen off, deciding to get to the bar early rather than sitting, staring at bones she couldn't focus on.

She didn't answer him, finding her answer would be too obvious. Anyone could see it was a rouge dress, cut low in front and lower in back. She'd been discovering, through trial and error, what kind of outfits drew the best response. Dresses had become her favourite form of attire – she found the men they drew were largely tall, broad shouldered, and self-assured enough to keep up with her in bed.

"Gotta hot date?" She sensed something in his tone but couldn't decipher what it was.

"Yes," she left it at that as she pulled her jacket from the coat rack and shrugged into it, flicking her hair out of the collar. From past experience she knew he didn't like to talk about her sex life, or his.

"Been seeing him long?" Booth was settling in, leaning against the door frame, hands ensconced in his pockets.

She wasn't sure what the correct answer was. If she was going to be technically correct, it wasn't a date. Dates were numbered and there was always the whisper of the future in each parting. One night stands had the word one in them for a reason.

"No." She went for simplicity.

"What's his name?" Booth's stance implied casualness but his voice was serious.

"Peter." It was the first name that came to mind – an old boyfriend she'd successfully cohabitated with until he'd been unable to compete with her work, incapable of coming second to her career. While she was truthful to a fault, this was one time Brennan thought the truth would not be appreciated. Besides, she'd already been on the receiving end of too many of Booth's lectures about love, monogamy, self-respect. Although humans were not as predictable in behaviour as she always expected, she was quite sure telling Booth she was going out to a bar to meet a random man she would later have sex with before leaving his bed early the next morning in time to have a shower and get to work would result in some kind of disapproval.

"You should bring him out for a drink some time, meet Hannah and me at the Founding Fathers." Brennan picked up her handbag and nodded.

"Sure. But we mostly stay in." That, she knew, would stop him questioning her, leave a break in the conversation so she could make her getaway into the dark night, readying herself for new flesh to ripple underneath her fingernails.

"Uh, right." He stood up straighter, giving her room to move past him out the door. She paused, wondering what had brought him to her at such a late hour.

"Did you need something, Booth?" She waited for his answer, wafting the smell of her perfume around them both.

"No, nothing that can't wait until morning."

"Okay... Goodnight, Booth." She nodded and left, unwilling to acknowledge the wounded look on his face so she wouldn't have to feel the guilt settle on her shoulders. She'd made the decision for them by refusing him after he took a gamble on her – probably the last real gamble he would take in his life. Now they both had to live with that.

Author's notes:

Short, somewhat depressing but it is one way to get over someone – or remind yourself there are more fish in the sea... Or, in Bren's case, use a biological urge to fill the gaping emotional hole she can't decipher or get rid of. Besides, sex is fun. Brennan deserves some of that.

I am considering writing a chapter with an awkward drinks date with Booth, Hannah, Brennan and whatever fuck-buddy-of-the-moment she can convince to call himself Peter for the night. But for now, this is complete.

Thanks for reading, reviews are loved (but since this isn't BB, I'm not expecting (m)any). xx.

Written to the tune of:

Might Like You Better by Amanda Blank – "Might like you better if we slept together."

Morning After by Howie Day – "Girl is cold but so is he…"