A/N: I don't watch Bones anymore, and even though it used to consume my fic-life I had resigned myself that it would never again inspire me in that way. I do watch The Good Wife, and love it beyond reason, but had been yet to be moved to write fic for it. It surprised no one more than me when my Muse demanded that Kalinda Sharma meet Temperance Brennan, and help her get her groove back.

I told myself that it was too improbable, that I didn't know Brennan or Booth or their story enough anymore to write them well, that NOBODY knew Kalinda enough to write her well, that no one would read it because it was a silly idea. After my brief internal war, it still wouldn't be denied.

So, here you go: the adventures of Kalinda and Brennan. Feedback is welcome, even if it's only to tell me how cracked out I am.:)

Thanks to the lovely shipperatheartrealistbynature for helping me make this exponentially less ghetto.:-*

Timeline/Spoilers: early S2 TGW/early S6 Bones

No Brief Candle

I'm not sure what prompted me to suggest that drink. Impulse and I aren't typically well-acquainted.

I didn't need them anymore; the case was over. And I tended to find my life was easier when people were kept around only as long as I needed them.

But they were heading home the next day, and we were finishing the last loose ends at the CPD homicide division into the evening. Brennan thanked me earnestly for all my help - ironic, since a few short days before she'd been scowling about the interference (my interference) that had brought them to Chicago to begin with. And when my mouth opened I found myself saying they could thank me with a drink.

Tequila. Wasn't that how all the best trouble started?

A little more than a week ago, a very dead body of a scantily-clad woman had been found by a maid in the penthouse whirlpool of one of Chicago's most prominent bankers, Harrison Bentley. It was almost certainly a set-up – Bentley wasn't exactly an angel, but even if he were a cold-blooded murderer he wouldn't be stupid enough to leave a body lying around for the help to stumble upon – and he would likely be cleared in a reasonable amount of time. But Harrison Bentley was a star, of a very unusual kind: a star that the public knew nothing about - yet. He was the top secret star witness in a three-year federal investigation into the Ponzi scheme that competing banker Brent Katriel had been running for years now.

Indictments were about to be sent out to Katriel and his gang of corporate looters, putting a lot of people behind bars for a long time. Being associated with a potential prostitute-killer was the last thing the investigation needed.

Of course, it was also the last thing Harrison Bentley needed. In his hour of need, he had called his lawyers on retainer at Lockhart, Gardner and Bond, knowing that as devoted professionals - and as a firm with a bundle of billable hours on the line from a whale like Bentley - we'd have a vested interest in getting the matter resolved as soon as possible.

Of course, the fact that Alicia Florrick was first-chair on the case, and the rumblings amongst the firm were that a clean win would put her on a fast-track to full partner, didn't hurt my motivation in ensuring a quick and successful resolution. Alicia and I were friendly, and her becoming a partner would make my life at the firm a little easier. Being a favorite was never a big concern of mine – at least not until Blake Calamar came into the picture and threatened my position as the go-to investigator. Now, having Alicia owe me one felt just a little more important.

Plus, I just liked to see the woman smile, because she was pretty when she did. Winning a big case was one of the most surefire ways of accomplishing that.

So sue me.

I knew right out of the gate our best chance of getting Bentley out of this mess was to find the actual killer – and that all started with getting a quick and accurate ID on the victim and how she was murdered. I didn't trust the CPD to do it in the most expeditious manner, so I used a few of my connections – yes, we needed the very best crime solvers, and no, we did not want to draw more attention by shipping the body out of this jurisdiction – and that's how one exquisitely lovely forensic anthropologist was delivered right to my door.

Doctor Brennan, I presume?

And her partner, Seeley Booth. Mustn't forget about him.

Harrison Bentley was hesitant at first, but he recognized good credentials when he saw them; it's what made him a successful businessman. The CPD grudgingly allowed the feds access to the evidence; with the threat of the full media and political weight of their big RICO case on the line, and the mayor on the ASAC's speed-dial, suddenly the buzzword was "inter-agency cooperation". The Keystone Kops knew they were in over their heads anyway.

Brennan and Booth were exactly what we needed – as they should have been, for all Bentley and the practice forked over to get them here. They were rock stars compared to the underpaid, overworked, and overweight buffoons who passed for Chicago's finest. After Brennan got over her initial indignation about her services being sold to the highest bidder, she began to appreciate how well I served as their liaison while they worked.

In two days, they (with extensive help from their colleagues, video-conferenced from D.C.) had the murder weapon and cause of death identified; in three days, they narrowed down the identity of the vic by revealing characteristics about her that the CPD wouldn't have found for at least a month. By the fourth day, we knew her name and were able to begin reconstructing who she was associated with, and her last moments. Before the end of the week, we had our guy. The competition.

The Ponzi-scheming banker, who'd somehow gotten wind of the RICO investigation, thought he'd tank the investigation AND one of his entrepreneurial competitors – two for the price of one. If only he'd paid a better price for it, then perhaps his Walmart hitman wouldn't have bungled the job the way he did. The crooked banker figured a lifetime in prison for the silver spoon-fed Bentley would be a fate worse than death. He had a hired accomplice pick up the young prostitute and kill her, and then all that was left to do was plant the body – easy when he'd bribed a disgruntled former employee who knew Bentley's schedule and had long ago made a secret copy of his penthouse key.

When we brought him in for questioning and confronted him with all the evidence, it was so far beyond a reasonable doubt, we didn't even need his confession anymore. His ghostly pale mug said enough. Game over.

For all the hoopla surrounding the case, resolving it so neatly and easily felt almost anticlimactic.

Maybe that's why I had felt compelled to give it more of a climax.

The week had been a flurry of activity, and working this case had kept me busy. But to me the most interesting part about the case was Brennan herself. The first thing I noticed (of course I did) was that she was beautiful, without even trying; even shrouded in her clinical coat in the make-shift lab we arranged for her, nothing could conceal her statuesque figure, perfect bone structure, and striking eyes. She carried herself with confidence, and at first glance had no issues in the self-esteem department – "You bought yourself the foremost expert in forensic anthropology; that's me, Dr. Temperance Brennan," was how she had introduced herself. It took her a few days to respect my insights and contributions to the investigation, and another few to warm to me, but from the beginning I found her extremely easy to talk to – with her, there was little need for the diplomacy or finesse usually required in my work. She was brutally honest, scary smart, and ultra-competent, even as she stumbled over common idioms.

Except with Seeley Booth.

Booth treated her with a conspicuous aloofness; holding her at a stiff arm's length with dogged determination. Even though he was, for the most part, polite and professional, there was an awkwardness about the interaction between them – like it were somehow new to them, though they had been working together for years. She was obviously a strong woman, quick and unapologetic to speak her mind, and not terribly worried about what others thought of her. But when Booth challenged her, she backed down more easily, almost as if she were ashamed to have stirred his pot.

There were only a few possible reasons for this: one of them was that she felt she somehow deserved his coolness toward her, and accepted it as her punishment for a perceived wrongdoing.

Another was that she was carrying a torch.

Possibly both.

It was a shame, really. Temperance Brennan was too pretty to be carrying a torch. Even for a man who filled out his starched suit as well as Seeley Booth.

In any case, it wasn't hard to pick up on the subtext. Hurt feelings, a touch of resentment, a lot of words said, and even more unsaid. I'd say it was amazing that they were able to still work together, with so much brewing under the surface – but I'd been watching Will Gardner and Alicia Florrick for the past year and a half, so it was all old hat to me. I filed it away in the place I kept my often-accurate perceptions of people, and told myself to move on.

After I asked them for a drink, I adjusted my plan and decided to move on tomorrow.

I asked. And they glanced at each other.

"Thanks, but we should probably just get back to the hotel," Booth replied for them.


"You're staying at the Hilton, right? It has a bar," I pointed out, matter-of-fact.

Booth scuffed his heel. "Right, but it's getting late…"

"It's not that late," Brennan interjected, and I was pleased at her momentary show of assertiveness with him. "We've been working ever since we got here. And Kalinda's been a great help to us." She looked back at me. "I'd be happy to buy you a drink," she said, and it sounded quiet, like a confession.

"Good. I'll drive and meet you there." Then, addressing Agent Booth, "Don't worry, you're not obligated to chaperone." I allowed a hint of teasing into my voice.

Losing his excuses and faced with the possibility of being left out, he relented. "I guess one drink couldn't hurt."

I nearly rolled my eyes at how much a drink with me and his partner sounded like a concession. Booth was a handsome man, and in another life I might have flirted with him; but whatever weighed on him was heavy enough to flatten, and right now I had boots that I found more interesting than his personality.

Which, of course, raised the question of why I had offered… no, requested… to spend my evening in his company. The likely answer being that I hadn't quite "moved on" from being interested in Temperance Brennan enough to avoid spending time with her partner.

The hotel bar was all understated elegance, lit low with leather-backed booths lining the burgundy-painted walls. It was full of businesspeople relaxing after their hard days' work, and a few tourists who weren't adventurous enough to explore the more exuberant side of the city's nightlife. Still, we didn't have to wait very long before a corner, semi-circle booth opened up and a waitress brought us three glasses of water, before asking if were in the mood for more adult beverages.

Booth ordered a beer, specifying the pint glass – a completely unsurprising choice – and raised a dry eyebrow when I next ordered two shots of tequila.

Brennan eyed me with curiosity. "Is one of them for me?"


She blinked at me, processing for a second, before a small smile touched her lips and she made a decision. "I'll have the same as her," she told the waitress.

Booth's eyebrow went up another notch. "Tequila, Bones?"

Although the light was low, I saw a hint of color touch her cheeks at his small challenge. Her eyelashes fluttered down for a second before she was able to meet his gaze again. "It's not as if we're driving anywhere," she mumbled. He merely took a slow sip of his water in response.

That subtext again. Freud once said that sometimes, a cigar was just a cigar. However, at the moment I was fairly convinced that for the two people in front of me, tequila wasn't just tequila.


While we were waiting for our drinks, we made some small talk about the case, leading Booth to say, "You never did tell us exactly how you got the Jeffersonian and the FBI to cooperate with sending us out here. We typically don't do fieldwork like this unless there's a good reason why the body can't be brought to us. Which… there wasn't."

I shrugged. "I know some people."

"Your firm must be extremely happy that you 'know some people'."

It was true; they didn't keep me around just for my sharp fashion sense. Of course, it was less about who I knew, and more about how I was willing to use them.

"And your offices must be extremely happy that you're so successful in such high-profile cases."

They exchanged a look that held more than a hint of pride; no matter what was going on between them, they were obviously proud of the work they did so well together, holding it in a position of great importance in both their lives.

"I believe so," she agreed, as the waitress returned with our drinks, setting my and Brennan's shot glasses in a line in front of us like birds on a wire.

"To solved cases and happy employers," I toasted, lifting a glass and clinking it with hers.

We both took one of our shots; Booth watched us as if he couldn't decide between being critical, or amused. The familiar, tangy burn slid down my throat. Brennan obviously wasn't new at this either – she took it like a pro, with one swallow and not a single grimace while she clunked down her glass in unison with mine.

"You're pretty good at that," I admired.

"She's a lush," Booth said, and I almost wanted to congratulate him for loosening up enough to make a joke.

"Well, I like that in a woman," I said, and was rewarded with her beaming smile. The good doctor liked her compliments as much as her booze. And in my experience, flattery was always an extremely effective tactic to distract people from further prying.

We chatted a bit more about the case; Brennan was fascinated by how my investigative techniques differed from the typical police-work she was used to. There wasn't an ounce of insincere flattery in her voice; she was genuinely impressed and curious how I'd managed the feat, when she said: "I must say, I was very impressed when you produced that crucial file from Katriel's office. How did you even manage to-?"

Booth winced and interrupted. "Erm, Bones, I'm pretty sure it's best if you don't ask."

"What do you mean?" Her frown of confusion was as genuine as it was adorable.

"He means," I intervened, "that I have ways of getting what I want, that he can't use." I pinned him with a provocative stare, letting him see that the double entendre was entirely intended, and all but daring him to call me on it.

He didn't, but I'm sure I didn't imagine the hint of pique in his expression as he slowly sipped his beer. "Well, ya know, the FBI kind of specifies that you have to play by the books."

Of course it did. That's part of what made my job more fun than his.

Brennan's flattery did tempt me – uncharacteristically – into indulging in a brief, victory-drunk moment of gloating. "Well, if you want mediocre, run-of-the-mill, dime-a-dozen investigating, then Blake will do. You want real access, you come to me." Down went my other shot.

"Oh, that guy," Brennan remembered. There were a few times in the past week that Blake had tried to worm his way into the case; I'd had to out-maneuver and out-investigate him at every turn.

"Yeah, what's his deal, anyway?" Booth asked, overcoming his brief moment of annoyance at my subtle taunting.

Blake was an irritating problem for which I had yet to decide on the most effective course in fixing. My tolerance with his meddling was decreasing by the day, but despite the formidable challenge he presented, I had no doubt who would come out on top in the end – no matter what he thought he knew about me. "He's just another P.I."

"...Who interferes in your cases?" Brennan put my tone together with what she had witnessed during the investigation.

"Sometimes he tries. But I manage him." I oozed dismissive confidence.

"How so?" she asked, interested. Typically I found myself a hair annoyed with persistent questions directed at me and my experience, but Brennan's inquisitiveness seemed less intrusive, and more endearing – like she were simply trying to learn as much as possible, all the time. And it was more than just a little flattering that someone as intelligent as she was, was trying to learn from me.

Still, it took more than persistence and alluring blue eyes to make me give up my most useful secrets, so I just smirked. "He's a man. It's not that difficult." I threw Booth a passing glance that was more perfunctory than apologetic. "No offense meant."

Brennan looked confused for a brief moment, then the meaning dawned on her. "Oh. Yes." She gave a knowing smile. "Not that I advocate using one's sexuality as a means of social control, but it can certainly be effective when other options are limited. Once when I was in Guatemala…"

"Bones!" His voice was sharp enough to stop her in her tracks, mouth snapping shut at the rebuke. He recovered quickly from his horror with a polite, "I'm sure Ms. Sharma could live without the details of your… adventures."

"I really don't mind," I said airily, but the damage was already done, and an awkward silence took over for a moment; score one for Booth.

I wondered if I could score one for Temperance Brennan, courtesy of Kalinda Sharma.

I knew without a doubt that she was single; there was no way this guileless woman was carrying a torch this bright, while she was with someone else. So it was certainly a manipulation on my part when I changed the subject by commenting, "What a lovely wedding band."

"Hmm?" At my nod to her hand, which was fisted on top of the mahogany table, her eyes widened. "Oh, it's not a wedding ring. I'm not married." She seemed almost offended at the implication – an anomaly in the American culture - as her other hand flew to touch the silver band on her right ring finger. "It actually belonged to my mother."

"I see," I replied, feigning deference at my mistake. "Still beautiful. May I?" I held out my hand.

"Oh. Of course." She placed her fingers in my outstretched ones. "I don't have many things of my mother's - she died… a long time ago - so this is very special to me."

"I'm sorry to hear that." I raised her hand closer to my face, examining the twisted band. Her fingers were long and slender; skin warm and silky to the touch. "It's nice you were able to keep this memento."

"Yes; my father gave it to me, and I'm very grateful that he did."

I pulled her hand just a little closer, as if to catalogue its most intricate details, and in the motion my thumb caressed her skin with a gentle stroke. I'm sure she could feel my breath against her fingertips. She showed no discomfort with this slight, yet extended physical contact, simply watching me until my eyes flickered back up, meeting her gaze through my lashes. "Very pretty," I said, voice soft.

"Thank you." She didn't pull her hand, or her eyes, away.

Booth had been watching this exchange without speaking, his eyes flitting between us. But he chose this moment to speak up. "Well, think I'll head on up," he said abruptly, draining the considerable last portion of his beer before reaching in his pocket for his wallet. "You coming, Bones?"

Ha. Someone was uncomfortable.

I released her hand, and it fell unassumingly back to the table. Brennan blinked at him. "It's only ten thirty."

"Yeah well, we have to get up early, remember? Our flight's at a quarter after seven." After putting some cash down on the table, he stood and looked at her expectantly.

She stayed seated, and glanced back at me.

"I could have another drink," I said evenly, my eyes conveying a subtle dare to resist his implicit chastening.

She looked back at Booth. "I think I'll stay for one more."

The corner of my mouth twitched, approving.

He managed to contain his displeasure to a tiny frown that came and left in a millisecond. "Alright then. It was nice to meet you, Kalinda." He shook my hand. "I'll guess I'll see you in the morning, Bones. Don't stay up too late."

We both watched his exit as he sauntered to the door. The instant he disappeared, Brennan turned her attention to the last untouched shot in front of her. She picked it up and downed it in one definitive motion. Moisture clung to her lower lip as the glass clunked back down on the tabletop. I observed in interest as she licked it off.

"He's not very fun," I noted, knowing that even if she disagreed, she was unlikely to be offended.

All I got was a wry smile. "He used to be a little more fun," she confessed, her voice dropping like a dirty little secret.

"And then?"

"He was in the Army. Just got back from Afghanistan not too long ago. I think that can change a person." She shrugged, looking just a little embarrassed to be talking about it. About him.

I stayed silent for a beat, inviting her to either change the subject, or continue. It may have been because she was feeling the effects of that last shot, that she chose the latter.

"I don't know. Maybe it was my fault, too."

There it was. "Your fault?"

Ever careful, she quickly found her way back to safe ground. "I'm not very fun. Maybe it brushed off."

"Rubbed off," I corrected, but I couldn't care less about her improper use of the phrase, and had a suspicion that she had much more of a capacity for fun than she thought she had. She didn't respond this time, and I gave her a moment before made my boldest move of the night.

"You could have him, you know."

"Hmm?" Maybe it was the drinks again, but it seemed to take a second for her mind to process the switch in conversation topics.

I nodded toward the exit her partner had taken.

"Oh. No." She shook her head, looking down briefly into the small, empty shot glass in front of her. "There was a time, maybe, but…" Her frequent hesitations were telling. "He's with someone now," she finished quietly. "And… he doesn't do that."

I blinked at Brennan impassively. "People think they wouldn't do things, because it makes them feel better. If you went up to his room with big, teary eyes and said, "I need you… please don't let me be alone…" I affected a trembling, wavering voice for the words, then shrugged. "He'd fuck you. He might feel like shit about it the next day, but he wouldn't turn you away tonight."

The woman across from me was silent for a moment, appearing to consider this, and whether or not she wanted to dispute the verity of my assertion. Perhaps not surprisingly, from what I'd already gathered about Brennan, she didn't look shocked at my vulgar word choice. After that pause, she settled on a quiet, "I don't want to make Booth feel like shit."

A smile touched my face in spite of myself. "Aren't you nice."

Now that she looked surprised by. "That's usually not the first way people describe me."

"Maybe they're not looking closely enough." I motioned the waitress for another round of shots. Brennan was looking at me frankly now with her blue-gray eyes, that somehow managed to be both cool and warm at the same time. People tended to be intimidated by my stare, but this woman had one to match it. It was a rather nice challenge.

"Are you… not nice?" It wasn't said with suspicion, but rather curiosity.

"Depends on the situation."

She accepted that, and looked on with no judgment apparent in her expression. "I take it you're single, as well?"

My lips curled in a small smile. "I've found that my life is easier and more pleasant when men are just passing through." I paused a beat, before adding, "…and women."

I said it without having consciously made the decision to reveal… well, what it obviously revealed. Once I did, however, I felt no embarrassment; just interest in how she'd respond.

Most people weren't comfortable talking about sex, especially not with someone they had just met a mere week ago. Most people would have let that one slide. But Brennan wasn't most people, and I suppose I had known that before I had offered up my clear implication.

"Are you bisexual?" she asked.

I remembered a conversation – or non-conversation, rather - I had with Alicia that began much this same way. This time, I had less invested, so there wasn't quite as much reason to be evasive.

"I don't really like labels."

"That's what my best friend says, too." Her countenance brightened visibly at the mention of her friend, and for that moment she appeared much younger. She paused. "I've spent some time in societies where gender roles are more relaxed, and sexual experiences aren't limited by heteronormative standards. I've found that in general, they, as a people, tend to be happier. More at ease. I believe it may be freeing, in a way that many people in our culture will never understand."

It was her way of depersonalizing – to make it about anthropology. I decided to push her a bit. "And you?"

"Me?" I could almost see the wrench thrown in the cogs of her brain, with the challenge to introspect. "I… am straight. I suppose. Or, I have been thus far."


Overcoming the brief struggle to examine her own feelings and behaviors critically, she spoke as if discussing a decision to buy a new car. "I'm not against the idea of homosexual experiences, but I've also never sought them out. The opportunities I may have had… they didn't feel compelling enough."

"Compelling enough?" Her word choice amused me, and I smirked.

For a woman firmly ensconced in the boundaries of her heterosexuality, this would usually have been her cue to state that as fact, and close this whole avenue of conversation clearly and definitively.

But she didn't.

"The sexual attraction wasn't strong enough, in those circumstances," she clarified, and this time she held my gaze. Almost, it seemed, as if she were returning my challenge, with her own.

Inside the statement, my spidey-sense registered an invitation as clear as a door with "open me" in neon letters above the handle.

And it was all I needed.

There was something about her. Her air of intelligence and irreverence was effective at conveying strength, but the vulnerability that lay underneath was quite transparent. In that way she reminded me of Alicia – ultra-competent and tough on the outside, with a damaged emotional fragility on the inside. But unlike Alicia, it seemed Brennan didn't quite understand the emotions and passions she kept reined tightly to her; as easily as she was talking about sex, there was also a disconnect there – a coolness, as if she were (perhaps purposely) keeping the wick and the flame far, far apart.

It made me want to bring them together. I wanted to reach inside her and pull from her that passion that I sensed simmering under the surface. I wanted to see her eyes widen when she realized that, as knowledgeable as she was, she'd been innocent to the pleasures that I could show her.

I could blame it on the alcohol, but truthfully, I probably would have given it a shot even if I were sober. I'd been playing teasing sexual power games with several people in the past few months – Lana, Blake, Cary – and engaging in a more subtle flirtation with someone I cared a hell of a lot more about, but knew it wasn't ever going to go anywhere. As fun as all that was, the lack of resolution had left me unsatisfied and craving a simple, straight-forward sexual experience.

And right now, whether she knew it, or not - or would have ever believed she'd consider it - Temperance Brennan was looking pretty damn good for that.

We were already sitting close to one another, to hear each other over the din of the increasingly-loud bar. So it only took easing in a few inches and placing a hand on her thigh to accomplish my goal – from innocent (almost) to amorous, in a heartbeat.

"So how about tonight? You see anything… compelling?" A light squeeze of my hand that was just a shade past friendly.

Her eyes flickered down interestedly to my fingers, then back up to lock with mine. My invitation couldn't be more clear. I could see her mind working, processing this turn of events. Although I've never mistaken my perceptiveness about people as being psychic, at this moment it felt I was reading her thoughts to the letter: Should she continue this vigil she's been keeping with her mind and body for the man upstairs, or should she again free her natural curiosity and sensuality, which I was attempting to coax from its long hibernation?

Yes… no… yes… no.

"Here you go." The waitress interrupted, placing the shots I had forgotten I ordered onto the table. "You gals need anything else?" She was surveying us with a mixture of morbid curiosity and mild distaste.

Brennan's eyes turned to her, then back to me. Taking a glass in each hand, she took one shot, then the other, not releasing my gaze for a moment. The table was now littered with six tiny, empty glasses.

Sweeping the money off the table that Booth had left, she added a few bills to the pile and handed it to the waitress. "No, I believe we'll be going. Keep the change."

Then to my utter delight, she gave me a slow, real, wicked smile, which I returned in kind.

Tonight had just gotten more interesting.

It would have been pleasant to drag her into the room as soon as she swiped her keycard, slam the door shut, and shove my tongue into her mouth and my hands into her pants. Initiation by fire, so to speak. And I have no doubt she would have enjoyed that.

But we had all night, and although I had no problem with occasional instant gratification, I also knew how satisfying a slow burn could be at the end.

There was a large mirror atop the dresser, and I took her hand and led her to it. She glanced at me questioningly, but I took her by the shoulders and forced her to face her reflection, with me behind her. She's a tall woman, and it was a good thing my boots gave me the few inches I needed to be able to peer over her shoulder.

"What do you think of me?" I asked her. I wasn't too terribly concerned with the answer, but I wanted her talking, because it made what came next more fun.

Her eyes followed me in the mirror. "I think you're very attractive," she said, and I smirked at how clinical it sounded.

"Yeah?" I slipped her jacket from her shoulders, dropping it to the side of us and exposing the sleeveless shell underneath. "And what do you find so attractive?" The last word was accompanied by a warm kiss to her bare shoulder… my first taste of her. She had the kind of skin that straight women were jealous of, and women… well, like me… fantasized about getting their hands and mouths all over. The creamy smoothness did not disappoint.

"Your eyes," she started safe. "They're… quite striking." Was it my imagination that her voice was a little tremulous there at the end, as I inched my mouth closer to her throat?

"Mmm. What else?" My tongue darted out, tracing the curve of her neck.

"Your legs… are very well-formed."

I had to get her to stop talking as if I were a picture in a magazine. "Thank you. Anything else?"

Our eyes met in the mirror, over her shoulder, as my hands framed her waist and began an excruciatingly slow journey up her ribcage. I could see her pupils dilating, and heard her quickened breath.

"Your breasts." It was almost a whisper.

"Yeah?" I chose that moment to cup hers through her thin sleeveless shirt, enjoying the sharp inhalation she left out as I squeezed gently. "Do you want to touch them like this?"

"Yes," she hissed, as I continued my slow massage.

"Do you want to kiss them? Lick them? Suck on my nipples until they're rock-hard in your mouth?" I let my hands drift back to the hem of her shirt, and began to lift it.

"God, yes." She raised her arms for me and allowed me to pull off her top. It caught in her hair briefly, exposing her long and graceful neck before releasing the silken strands to tumble back in place.

She looked lovely, standing before me wearing only her white-silk bra, eyes darkened to a stormy ocean and her chest quivering a little. I met the reflection of her gaze hungrily.

"Then maybe you should show me."

She turned in my arms, and our faces were so, so close. I eased mine forward, teasingly, stopping before our lips touched. I wanted her to take the initiative this time, prove to me that she wanted this.

And take the initiative she did. She met me with an open mouth, her tequila-flavored tongue finding mine and stroking it while her body pressed into and molded to mine.

Well, well. I guess she found something compelling, after all.

She was a good kisser. Full lips, skillful tongue, instinctive sense of when to suck or nibble or slide. I'd already been feeling the embers of lust building in the core of me, but at her kiss it bloomed outward through my entire body, lighting up my nerves with anticipation of what was coming. I smoothed my hands up the velvet-soft skin of her back, and when they reached the clasp of her bra I made quick work of it. She wouldn't be needing it for the rest of the night.

Her body was as close to perfection as I'd seen; slender and curvy at the same time, soft and smooth and incredibly responsive to my questing fingers and tongue. If I hadn't yet been convinced that Booth was quite possibly an idiot, it became more apparent the longer I spent pleasuring Temperance Brennan.

She was becoming impatient. "Let me touch you," she breathed. Her fingers fisted in the deep scoop-neck of my midnight-blue sweater, and a big part of me wanted to just let her rip it off – look at me. Touch me. Be taught all the ways to make me shake and sigh, just the way she was doing as I kissed my way down her neck.

But instead… "Yes. But first things first."

I'd give her the chance to do all the things she wanted to do… and all the things I wanted her to do. But first, I had something to prove.

That something had at least a little to do with, just for a few hours, making her forget Seeley Booth's name, and remembering mine forever.

With that in mind, I pushed her.

She reeled backward and I directed her towards the other door in the room; the one that separated her room from the one next to it. The impact of her back against the door was hard enough to make the cheap lamp rattle on the nearby dresser. I took hold of her wrists and pinned them above her head, kissing her deep and thorough before beginning a slow descent down her body. She squirmed hard when my mouth reached her breasts.

"You like that?" I murmured, before running my tongue in a delicate circle around her nipple, then sucking it between my lips. She tasted like coconut body lotion, and I had a sudden (and arousing) image of her fresh from the shower, slicking the slippery lotion on every inch of her damp body – sliding up and down her thighs, and her belly, and finally across her full breasts, palms gliding across the hardened nipples that I was currently tugging with my lips, making her whimper. I was almost jealous of that image for a second, before remembering that now, my hands and my mouth were free to take that very same journey. An even longer, more leisurely one.

"More," she sighed. And I smiled.

I knelt before her, working the tab and the zipper of her pants and simultaneously laving the soft, sweet skin of her belly, while her fingers thrust into my hair and began to ruin my carefully styled up-do. Working her pants and panties down, I reveled in the way her hips were already making small thrusts forward.

She was into this; it wasn't mere curiosity, but a deep, often hidden sensuality and love of all things erotic that were driving her. It flitted through my mind that this is how I'd imagine Alicia to be, in this same position. And I knew that even if I never saw this woman again, tonight was going to be just a little bit special.

"Tell me what you want," I urged her, blowing a breath of hot air across her neatly trimmed pubic mound. The scent of her arousal was strong, and I actually had to repress my instinctive urge to just bury my face between her legs and eat her until she screamed. There would be time enough for that; right now, the build-up was sweeter.

She hissed. "I want you to lick my clit."

I liked it that she wasn't shy about the words. But they were said too softly for my liking. I ran a finger lightly across that swollen part of her. "Are you sure?"

"Yes." It was a little louder. She bucked toward my face. It was really bad of me to tease her this way, but I wouldn't have done it if I weren't pretty sure she liked it.

"Because if you wanted to stop…"

"Lick me." Loud, desperate, and bearing no objection. Perfect.

I rewarded it by splaying her open with two thumbs, and a gentle flutter of my tongue.

Her head hit the door behind her with a thud while she moaned her approval.

"Do you have adjoining hotel rooms?" I asked, after taking another long, slow drag of my tongue across her clit. It didn't take a genius to know I was talking about Booth.

"Yes!" she gasped out, one hand clawing at the doorknob for support while her hips thrust frantically against my face.

I smirked against her and whispered, "Good," before taking her pretty little clit between my lips and concentrating on flicking it with my tongue with the speed and pressure that would make her moan the loudest. I was rewarded once I thrust two fingers inside of her in a steady fuck, with a throaty groan that you'd have to be dead to sleep through. Once I found that special touch and rhythm that did it for her, it didn't take long until she threw her head back against the door, teeth gritted while she convulsed around my fingers.

Not bad, for a warm-up.

After our interlude against the door, we went the more traditional route and retired to the bed. Now I'd give her the opportunity to indulge all her curiosities, and myself the opportunity to see if my instincts about her had been right.

And right I was. What she lacked in experience, she made up for in thoroughness, creativity, and – once she discovered something very, very effective – precision. I couldn't remember ever being explored so completely; every inch of my body touched and tasted and my reactions catalogued, no doubt beside thousands, if not millions, of scientific facts. As she was bringing me to my third orgasm of the night with her talented and slippery fingers between my legs, while her lips pulled delicately at my stiffened nipple, I was reminded again just why I had such a penchant for smart women – and wondered briefly if I'd ever be able to fuck anyone below genius-level, ever again.

While again enjoying the taste of her (as we lounged in a sixty-nine position), I idly wished I had my strap-on with me. Not that what we were doing wasn't satisfying – it most certainly was – but there would be something incredibly gratifying about burying myself to the hilt within this woman. I knew she liked cock (I did, too, but I wasn't quite as conditioned as she likely was to crave it), and even if the man across the wall would never know exactly how I was pleasuring his partner, a devious part of me very much enjoyed the idea of him listening while I fucked her just the way that he was missing out on.

It was probably terrible of me. It wasn't as if I necessarily disliked Seeley Booth; at least not from the inadequate bits I knew about him. But I liked Temperance Brennan – far more than I typically liked people I had known for such a short time – and it bothered me to see someone with whom I related in so many ways, so messed up about a man (as well as she tried to hide it). It made me resent him a little for working so hard to push her aside, when he obviously still wanted her. Depriving her of himself, as if that would change his feelings, or hers. It was a punishment for both of them, but he at least was doing a decent job of distracting himself of the sting of it.

Unlike her.

Far be it from me, to leave the lady deprived. If she were going to feel a sting, at least I could ensure it would be a pleasant one, I thought, as I nipped teasingly at her inner thigh. Her tiny squeak was muffled by my pussy, which I undulated luxuriously against her lips and tongue.

We distracted one another in much the same vein until the first hints of sunlight filtered through the blinds. By then, we had fallen against each other, exhausted. She lay with her head upon my breast while I smoothed back the slick bangs from her forehead. The room was thick with the smell of her coconut lotion, my perfume, and our sex, and I enjoyed the haziness of it. There would be no time for true sleep, for either of us; as Booth had reminded her, they had an early flight. And I had to go to work to wrap up the paperwork from this case.

She broke the lazy silence first. "So did I do well? Compared to your other female lovers."

I had to hold back a chuckle. Even as a full-grown adult, she was most comfortable in situations where she was being graded. Newbie or not, she wanted her "A."

"What do you think?"

"Objectively from your physical and verbal reactions, I'd say you enjoyed it very much; but I have no way of knowing how that compares to…"

I cut her off by rolling on top of her, straddling her hips and kissing her hotly with an open mouth. My bare breasts brushed against hers, and despite that fact that I was sated and quite tired from my lack of sleep all night, I felt a stirring low in my belly when her silky tongue lazily toyed with mine. Pulling back, I flicked my hair back and away from my face. "You're good. Don't worry about my other lovers. Female or otherwise."

She seemed mostly satisfied with that, studying me with a clear blue gaze. "So are you."

"You could stay another day. Change your flight."

Other people never surprised me; but with that implied request, I shocked the hell out of myself. I never asked other people to stay. They asked me to stay, and I rarely obliged.

"I have to be at the lab tomorrow… today… to finish up on this case."

I stayed quiet. I knew that would be the answer from the second the suggestion left my lips; of course, no matter how much fun this had been, she was going home with Booth.

"I'd like to. I know… that there's more."

"It's okay," I told her, reassuring her with a smile and another kiss before climbing off of her, and out of the bed to begin the search for my clothes. "We both knew what this was."

She didn't agree or disagree, simply watching me as I dressed. She'd have to get up soon, too, shower and get ready to go back to the real world.

I meant what I said; it was perhaps wishful thinking, that our night of forgetting could go on for just a little longer. As much as I could tell myself that it was her I was helping, the fact was that I had my own demons. Putting them aside for even this brief period of time was a sweet relief; although disappointed she was leaving, I knew we were both going to have a better day because of our stolen night.

After zipping my boots back into place, I eased back down to the edge of the bed where she still lay, my uncharacteristically loose hair falling over my shoulder as I leaned in to give her one last, slow, lingering kiss.

"Don't be a doormat," I told her, almost expecting that she'd ask what I meant. But she was a genius, and more aware of things than most people probably gave her credit for. "You're too good for that." I stood back up before she even had a chance to respond, heading to the door to find the handbag I had dropped beside it. I didn't make promises to call, or look her up if I was ever in the area, and neither did she.

We weren't those kind of girls.

"Kalinda," she called out, and I turned in time to see her smile. She was propped up on her elbows in bed, bare-breasted with sex-tousled hair, and she was utterly adorable. "Thank you. I needed this."

"I know." I gave her a quick wink before reaching back for the doorknob. I didn't say it, but I think she already knew that maybe I needed this too.

It was complete serendipity that as I walked down the hotel hallway, the door of the room next to Brennan's opened, and out walked Seeley Booth, lugging his suitcase behind him. Getting an early start, I gathered. When he caught sight of me, he froze.

I gave him my sweetest smile as I brushed past him, not missing a step. "Hope you slept well," I said, brightly. "Have a nice day."

Just for a moment, his carefully constructed wall of denial was breached, and he fixed me with a glare so stony that I almost laughed.

He'd get over it. He'd justify to himself that he was just mad about all the noise keeping him awake, or his partner not keeping it totally professional when they were here on business.

But I knew the truth of what had really rankled him, and had the satisfaction of knowing that, for one crystal clear second, I had helped to make him see it, too.

Whether it was nice or naughty of me was probably a matter of opinion.

But for his lovely partner, whose spark of life was now shining just a little more brightly today than it had the night before, they were one in the same.

And hell if her dimmed torch didn't, ironically, make me feel just a little bit warmer.

A/N: Gah. I have no way of knowing if I have Booth and Brennan's characterizations right anymore. Or if any of this makes sense. All I know is that I had more fun writing this story than I've had writing fic in a LONG time. And that's worth its freaking weight in gold.