The Perfect Path in the Pie
Prologue: The Temptation of Seeley Booth
Disclaimer: BONES does not belong to me. I'm just keeping the characters all warm and safe during the Winter hiatus, because I'm kind and caring like that...
A/N: This is a story for the '40 songs in 40 days challenge' at Bonesology. The playlist comes from the Rolling Stone magazine - Top 40 songs of all time list. The aim of the challenge is to refer to all 40 listed songs and complete the fic prior to the end of the US Winter hiatus. I'm aiming for daily updates (don't faint away...Tequila was written in this format), possibly more frequently on some days - because I'll be on vacation. I'll also mention that this is not a song-fic.
The setting of this story is post the departure of that 'delightful creature', Hannah. B&B have to find their way back to each other somehow - so here is one way it could play out – it is set during Lent, I'm not a Catholic, but Booth is. I really hope that you enjoy reading - it is going to be a strong T...it may even go to M, but I'll give fair warning. Reviews will be used to caress the naked torso of Seeley Booth, so please, give generously :P
Monday, March 7th 2011 - The Royal Diner (Clean Monday – Two days prior to Lent)
Special Agent Seeley Booth sat down heavily on the chair opposite his partner, the expression of annoyance on her face mirroring the annoyance that he also felt following their wasted day.
"Well, I hope that you learned something from the Program today, Bones, because the whole thing was a complete waste of my time. What was Hacker thinking?" he asked.
Brennan made an effort to reel in her temper. "Are you saying that Hacker was the one that insisted that we attend today's pathetic Operation Redemption Task-force Orientation Day? Because if that is true, I have indeed learned something today - Hacker clearly was not thinking."
"Excellent point, Bones," he remarked as he perused the laminated menu with the specials listed. "As usual, you've hit the nail on the head. So, what are you having?"
She worried her bottom lip unconsciously as she looked at her own menu. "Although I found today to be an extremely ineffective use of my time, Deputy Director Hacker's poor judgment has not driven me to pie yet. I will have soup and salad."
"Ha! You? Driven to pie? That I'd like to see, Bones." he replied. "Hacker should have brought us in as Consultants on this task-force. Being relegated to 'team members' is a bit of a smack in the face, y'know?"
She met his amused gaze, a twitch of a smile at one corner of her mouth. "It's probably just political point scoring on his part. I have always found his dependence upon agendas to be highly unattractive."
"That's why he's in the Executive corridor at the Hoover...and why he's a doofus. Real investigators don't have time for all that crap," he said conspiratorially.
"Which is why I find you much more attractive than Andrew...objectively," she faltered, seeing the flash of pain in his eyes, realising she had touched on a sore point. It had been mere weeks since Hannah had parted ways with Booth.
"Yeah, well thanks for the confidence vote there, Bones!" he said in a self-depreciating manner. "I'm going to have the usual...and a slice of pie."
Brennan grinned. "Pie 'is' your usual, Booth. So you're having your usual 'and' your usual. Which is a little redundant, don't you think?"
Booth held up a finger and sat up a little straighter in his chair. "Ah, that is where you are mistaken, my dear Bones!" he said, in a Sherlock Holmes impersonation. "Your partner is giving up pie for Lent."
The waitress arrived and took their orders, pouring them each a cup of coffee, before retreating back behind the counter
Brennan's amusement was almost palpable. "Seeley Booth? No pie, for forty days and forty nights? Isn't Lent about prayer, fasting and abstinence?"
"Actually, it's forty-six days, Dr. Know-it-all. The Sundays during Lent don't count...and yeah, I'll be praying and seeking redemption; plus all that superstitious stuff that you love to hate."
"Well, abstinence won't be a problem," she muttered.
"Say what?" asked Booth. It was just her style to throw that kind of comment out, but the muttering was new.
Her cheeks grew pink with embarrassment. "I apologise, Booth. I should have considered your recent break-up with Hannah before making that kind of observation. It was insensitive of me."
He realised that she really was sorry. Temperance Brennan, reigning champion of the unapologetic for as long as he had known her, was looking at him like she'd just kicked a puppy. It was both confronting and endearing to him at the same time. He just wasn't willing to go there. Hannah's departure was still stinging like a paper-cut on his ego.
"Eh! It's okay, Bones. I'm a big boy and if anyone can take a dig at me and get away with it, it's you," he admitted with a cocky grin, which turned to a teasing smile. "Besides, if you were participating in Lent, abstinence wouldn't be a problem for your either, right?"
She rolled her eyes at him, before glancing out of the window to hide the sting of the comment. "I suppose that I asked for that..."
"You're not going to hit me are you?" he said holding up his arms in a defensive posture.
"No, Booth. You were being affectionate. I know that. Thank you for warning me about your plans to give up pie for Lent. Hopefully the next six weeks on this task force will keep your mind distracted from what you're missing." Her last statement was loaded with innuendo that Booth chose to ignore as a basket of fries was brought to the table.
It was going to be a long six weeks, in more ways than one. That much was evident.
Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 - Royal Diner (Shrove Tuesday – One day prior to Lent)
It was a little bit like Groundhog Day. Same seats at the Diner; same pissed off expressions. Day Two of the orientation for Operation Redemption had surpassed the worst-case scenarios of both Booth and Brennan. Eight long hours of rookie-level lectures by self-professed 'experts', punctuated by bad coffee, bad donuts and stale sandwiches, had left them both with dangerously short fuses.
When Andrew Hacker had turned up to press the flesh at the end of the day, inviting the high profile duo out for drinks on the Bureau, they had simultaneously moved to restrain each other by placing a hand on the wrist of the other. Their collective annoyance at Hacker's treatment of them was unexpectedly diffused, when the fingers reaching out to restrain their partner met and tangled in the middle. Suppressing their embarrassment, they turned the tangle of fingers into an impromptu hand-holding with interlaced fingers. The look on Hacker's face had been so classically crestfallen at their apparent intimacy that Brennan decided to add fuel to the fire, by announcing that she and Booth already had plans for the evening. The confident smile curling her lips screamed 'naked and sweaty' plans. Booth squeezed her hand in warning, which simply made him appear eager to get started on their plans, as he plastered on a neutral smile of agreement.
The menus with the specials was identical to that of the previous day. Booth announced that he was considering ordering a steak sandwich. Brennan was undecided.
"No pie, Booth?" she asked. "Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent, so this is your last chance..."
"I'm not sure that I feel like pie after that performance in front of Hacker," explained Booth. "What were you thinking, Bones?"
She leaned forward with her forearms flat on the table, her index fingers tapping on the backs of his hands absently. "Andrew already believes that we have a sexual relationship, despite numerous repetitions of the truth of the matter on my part. He always asks, I always deny; he makes a pretence of believing me, then later on he will ask me again. Frankly, I find this to be very insincere on his part. He wants to believe that I'm sleeping with you, because he finds me a more desirable conquest that way."
"One day, I'm gonna punch him, right in the schnoz!" said Booth shaking his head.
"You'll have to get in line, Booth..." she said with a smile as she glanced at the menu on the table."Today is Shrove Tuesday, it would be appropriate to have pancakes."
Booth raised his eyebrows. "Pancakes? You celebrate Shrove Tuesday?"
"Not religiously. I happen to like pancakes. My Mom and Dad would make pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, we used to call it 'pancake day'...although we would eat pancakes on other days of the year as well," she explained.
"Okay, pancakes it is, Bones!" he announced as he caught the attention of one of the staff to take their order.
"You're going to give up your last opportunity for pie, to eat pancakes with me?" she asked incredulously.
"I know, it's a sacrifice...I'm Saint Seeley, Patron Saint of Pancakes!" he announced.
Brennan gave an evil chuckle and poked his forearm with a finger. "I believe that you are engaging in blasphemy, Booth." She lowered her voice to a husky whisper. "Will you confess it? Will you confess about our hand-holding deception too?"
"That is for me to know, and my Priest to find out, Dr. Temptress," he replied with a secretive smile.
She laughed at his name-calling. "It is a fortuitous coincidence that we're both abstaining from sex for Lent then."
"Hey, I'm the Catholic boy! Nobody asked you to abstain," he retorted.
"I know that," she replied, her lips pressing together to censor herself. "I respect your right to abstain for your reasons. All I ask is that you respect my reasons for doing so in return."
He took a calming breath and placed one of his hands over hers. "Yeah, I respect your reasons. I guess we both need some time to adjust..." he offered.
"I'm here for you, Booth," she offered in return. "If you want to talk... I know things have been difficult between us..."
"Thanks, I'll take you up on that. I promise," he said.
The arrival of two pancake stacks ended the conversation.
"Do you want my fruit, Bones?" he asked, pushing the selection of berries off the top pancake with a grimace.
Brennan had already speared half a strawberry with her fork and brought it to her lips. She gave a flirtatious smile. "Only if you want mine, Booth," she said.
"I'm gonna tell Sweets that you have a fruit fixation," he threatened.
"I'll just tell him that you gave it to me," she replied tartly.
"Just eat your pancakes," said Booth, knowing she would drive him to distraction with this conversation.
"Are you going to be this grumpy the whole time without pie?" she asked. "Because I might have to write to the Pope and complain."
He just looked at her for a long moment, as she dragged an impaled raspberry along her bottom lip. She stared right back at him until the tinkling of the door chime broke the moment. They both looked down at their plates and tucked in, before their pancakes went cold.
A/N: Next Chapter is Ash Wednesday. The first day of Lent & the first of the top 40 songs of all time. I hope you liked the prologue, because I needed to set the scene.