This one-shot is the beginning of a series of one-shots I'm writing for the 40 Songs in 40 Days challenge at our new forum, Bonesology. Using the top 40 songs of all time, as chosen by Rolling Stone Magazine, we were challenged to write anything we wanted...whether it was 40 separate stories, one story with all 40 songs mentioned, a story with references to the songs or just lines from the songs themselves...anything goes as long as the songs were used for reference.
My attempt will be 40 one-shots about the progression of Booth and Brennan's relationship form the time Hannah leaves until they get together as a couple. The real challenge for me will be keeping Booth in canon, which I am going to try very hard to do. I tend to idealize Booth, but this time...warts and all. :)
Wish me luck. I might even get all 40 done before next season.
"I can't imagine that picking me up at the airport was your first priority, Agent Booth."
Booth smiled at the woman riding next to him in the SUV. "Come on now, Inspector Pritchard. Do you really think that I am the kind of host who would leave his guest to find her own way on her first night in Washington DC?"
"That's Chief Inspector Pritchard now, I'll have you know." Cate winked playfully, picking up on Booth's teasing vibe.
Booth laid his hand across his chest in supplication. "Oh my, well excuse me, Chief Inspector Pritchard! I assure you, I had no idea!"
Laughing, she nodded. "Well, it's not like we've kept in touch. And it has been two years, give or take."
"This is true. You never call, you never write…." Booth's voice climbed an octave, sounding more and more like a put-upon elderly mother berating her son.
"Okay, I think that's quite enough. I don't think I ever want to hear you speak in that tone of voice ever again." Reaching down to grab her carry-on bag, Cate pulled out a sheet of paper. "Okay, The Yard has me staying at the Grand Hyatt. Do you know it?"
Booth's eyes widened. "Wow. The Bureau never puts us up in such nice digs. Yeah, I know where it is. Hold on…" Booth maneuvered the car past a minor accident and turned off the causeway. "I'll drop you off and let you get settled, then I can come back and get you for dinner, if you'd like."
Pritchard smiled. "That would be lovely. I do hope your girlfriend won't mind."
Looking at her quickly, then back to the road, Booth shook his head. "No girlfriend."
"Really. I find that hard to believe."
"Hmm. Well, I was seeing someone, but she and I broke up a few months ago." Cate saw the fleeting look of regret that passed over Booth's face.
"Was it serious?"
"We lived together."
"That's not what I asked."
Booth raised an eyebrow. "Then you're going to have to be more specific."
"Booth, I am not going to pry into your relationship. Really, I apologize." Cate turned towards the window and maintained her silence, until she saw the fire trucks blocking the road on what she could clearly see was H Street.
"Uh oh." Booth breathed. "I think you might have a problem. Hang on." He pulled the SUV over to the curb and jumped out, flashing his badge at the fire marshal keeping guard outside the area in front of the hotel. Cate watched as Booth spoke with the man, both shaking their heads as they looked up at the old hotel, flames and smoke shooting out almost every window. Booth shook the marshal's hand and turned back to the car.
"Well," He said, turning the ignition and backing up into the street behind them. "Obviously you're not staying here tonight. And according to the fire marshal every hotel room in town is booked because of the international police conference you're here for in the first place."
Cate rolled her eyes. "Well, that's incredibly inconvenient. Now what am I going to do?"
They drove for a few more minutes before Booth cleared his throat nervously. "Well, actually…"
"Here we are, home sweet home." Booth pushed open the door and held it as Cate walked in around him.
"Well, your apartment is lovely. I didn't expect it to be so…" She looked around, trying to find the word she wanted to use.
"Clean?" Booth grinned and put her bags outside Parker's bedroom door. "I was an Army Ranger, keeping my barracks spotless is a habit now."
"Yes, I can tell. It's actually nice to see from a single man."
Booth palmed the back of his neck, embarrassed. "Yeah, well…anyway, this here's Parker's room. You can make yourself comfortable, if you'd like. And I thought we could just order something in and you could relax, instead of getting all dressed up for dinner, if that's alright."
Cate sighed, smiling. "That sounds absolutely lovely. I would like nothing more than to change and relax. Thank you, Booth."
Booth nodded his response and moved to the kitchen to collect his carry-out menus while Cate headed into the bedroom to change. As he flicked through the various restaurant handouts, he assessed the situation he was in with Cate. When he and Bones had been in London Cate hadn't made it a secret that she was attracted to him, but nothing had come of it. And certainly, after Booth had talked Brennan out of sleeping with Ian, he couldn't turn around and spend the evening with Cate.
His thoughts went to Bones again. After he and Hannah had broken up, there was a period of adjustment where Booth just felt lost…unanchored. And Bones had helped him through that, with long, late night talks and endless lunches at the diner. She had never mentioned her confession in the SUV all those months ago, and Booth didn't want to bring it up, either. He was still raw from Hannah's departure and getting into what might be the last relationship of his life seemed like too much emotional upheaval all at once. He needed the separation of Hannah's and Brennan's timelines in his life. A break in there that was all his, all about him. And spending the night with Cate would definitely be all about him.
"Booth, do you mind if I borrow your toothpaste? I seem to have forgotten mine." Cate stood in the doorway to the living room wearing a large flannel shirt that hung to her knees and black leggings, finished at her feet with fluffy pink socks.
Booth smirked. "Nice look. Yeah, go ahead. But I should warn you, Bones keeps making me use that organic Tom's toothpaste. It's kind of gnarly but it makes her happy. The stuff I actually use is in the top drawer."
After finishing their preparations and receiving their food at the door, Booth and Cate sat on the sofa, eating and watching a movie. Despite his initial thoughts about the situation, their interaction was comfortable and relaxed, like getting to know an old friend should be.
When the end credits began to roll on the film, Cate leaned back and stretched languorously. "I have to say, Booth, you are an excellent host. This might have been the nicest evening I've had in a very long time."
Booth smiled and leaned back on his side of the sofa. "Yeah, I've had a really good time. You're good company, Pritch."
Chuckling, Cate collected her empty food containers and stood, intending to throw them away before heading for bed. "I have never had anyone else call me 'Pritch', I'd forgotten about that."
Booth stood with her and tried to take the trash from her hands. "Here, let me get those. You're my guest, it's-" His offer was cut off by the press of her lips against his. Soon, the empty cartons were forgotten as they reached for each other, limbs wrapping around torsos and shoulders, drawing a growl from deep in his throat.
Cate pulled away suddenly and leaned back in Booth's arms, taking in his hooded expression. From any other man, she would have seen that look as desire. But something else lurked there, something she was having trouble identifying.
"Is something wrong, Booth? I thought…I mean, I was clearly getting signals…"
Dropping his arms from Cate's waist, Booth took a few steps back and palmed the back of his neck. "I'm really sorry, Pritch."
She dropped back down on the sofa and exhaled. "Is it the woman you've been seeing? Or were seeing?"
"What? I don't…" Booth backed up a bit in confusion.
Cate laughed self-depreciatively. "I am a police inspector, Booth. Trained in observation." She stood again and placed a hand on his forearm. "She left a hairbrush with blonde hair in it, behind."
Nodding, Booth sat down where Cate has just vacated. "Hannah."
"No, not really. She was nicer about it than I deserved, but she was hurt. I'm still dealing with that, a little. Maybe. And now there's…" He looked around the room, a little lost as to where he had been taking the conversation.
"There's already someone else?" Cate smiled, having a very good idea what, or who, had Booth tied up in knots.
Snorting, Booth shook his head. "Not already. Always."
"Ah, the inestimable Dr. Brennan."
Cate smiled and took the seat next to Booth. "That woman should have taken my advice two years ago."
Knowing her answer but wanting to hear it vocalized, Booth had to ask. "What advice was that?"
"That she should not pass up the opportunity to sleep with you. Life is rough enough without having to deal with regrets you could have avoided. But obviously, she didn't hear a word I said."
"Regrets…" Booth breathed. "Yeah, I think she's learned that lesson now."
"Good. And I won't press for details, because it's obvious there is more to work out, and it is certainly none of my business, so I shall head off to bed." Cate stood, then impulsively leaned down and kissed his cheek. "You're a good man, Seeley Booth. And despite the tired old saying, nice guys do finish much closer to first than you think. Have hope and patience, I always say. Goodnight."
Booth watched, bemused, as Cate slipped into Parker's room and shut the door firmly behind her.