A/N: Here's the first of that series of short one shots I promised I'd post after Problem Solving. (Thanks to everybody who left feedback on theepilogue. =) This one was written in the summer, for the prompt 'disguise' from Eternal Destiny 304. It's short, but, hopefully, sweet. As always, I'd love to hear what you thought.
He frequently felt as though that's what Brennan's lab coat was. She wore it as a symbol of authority, a barrier against contamination—emotional or bacterial—a daily routine to find comfort in each day, a costume that prevented people from seeing the other, intensely private side of the genius scientist. Depending on her mood, the buttons would be done up all the way, indicating watch your step, buttoned up partially, denoting Brennan was in-between tempers, or not done up at all, indicating a more relaxed frame of mind. Booth lived for the latter days.
Today was one of the former, with Brennan stalking around the lab in full squint regalia, down to the glasses he didn't even knew she wore. He'd always assumed she'd had Lasik surgery, but it turned out she just wore contacts most of the time. Her eyesight wasn't bad enough to merit wearing them every day.
Today, however, she was kitted out in adorable brown librarian glasses, her hair pulled up in a severe bun, a chunky jade necklace peeking out of the lapels of the tightly-buttoned lab coat. Underneath, she wore khaki slacks and a bland yellow blouse that did little to emphasize her beautiful skin. She had on almost no make-up. It was almost like she was trying to wash herself out completely—attempting to blend into the sterile background of her laboratory.
Booth stifled a sigh and stepped onto the platform from the last step where he'd been standing silently watching Brennan bustle around, burning the midnight oil. He swiped his card and the alarm system beeped, alerting Brennan to his arrival. She glanced up briefly from the cadaver she was scrutinizing.
"What are you doing here?" She dropped her gaze back to the body they'd recently recovered from inside an industrial-size deep fryer. Booth still got queasy thinking about the smell of the seared flesh and the way bits and pieces had clung to the bones tenaciously, even after Cam and Brennan's best efforts to debride the corpse.
"Have you had dinner yet?" Booth asked, knowing the answer already.
"I had some fruit at lunch," she said vaguely, taking some kind of measurement with silver calipers.
"That was like 10 hours ago, Bones," he said patiently, going to her side. "You're gonna turn into one of your skeletons if you don't start eating more regularly."
"My weight is entirely appropriate for my height and physical build," Brennan retorted, trying to squeeze by Booth to get to her table of instruments nearby. He refused to get out of the way, drawing her ire. "I'm busy, Booth."
The squint disguise did nothing to hide her exhaustion or frustration at how badly the bones had been damaged by the intense heat.
He caught her elbow lightly, defying her warning glare. "I've got Thai waiting for us in your office," he coaxed. "I'll even give you the lion's share of the mi krop."
"In a pride, the lionesses do most of the hunting, but the lions are the first to eat. The lion's share therefore connotes a stereotypical mated pair, with the male as the dominant figure," she said stiffly. "I dislike the implication of your choice of idiom, particularly given that we are not in a romantic relationship."
"Geez," Booth muttered. "You really did get out of bed on the wrong side this morning."
"I always get out of the bed on the right side, which is where I sleep. It has no effect on mood whatsoever—"
"You keep talking to your corpse, Bones," he interrupted dryly. "I'll just go eat my share—and the lioness's share—of the mi krop."
He was baiting her. Brennan knew very well that Booth was attempting to get her to respond emotionally enough that she became distracted and could then be easily steered away from her work, to the dinner that he'd brought to the lab even though she hadn't requested it. In spite of her awareness of his overt manipulations, she found it hard to get too upset at him.
When he apparently gave up and headed toward her office—no doubt hoping she would follow him shortly—Brennan couldn't help but stare after him.
He wore his usual expensive FBI suit, with the shoulder holster just barely visible underneath the well-tailored fabric. She caught a glimpse of handcuffs when he turned to leave. Usually the handcuffs were tucked back far into his belt loop, out of sight, so he'd probably recently arrested somebody.
She thought about that belt, with all its sexual, macho implications, and those thoughts somehow led her to his ridiculous socks. He was wearing Christmas trees today for some reason, but she only knew that because he'd had to roll up his pant legs when he narrowly avoided stepping in bodily fluids at the crime scene earlier in the day. Usually, he was careful not to put his socks on display to the whole world. People might have seen some stripes, but generally they were more inclined to see super-shiny shoes. That is, if they even glanced down at all. Typically, anybody looking at Booth would be more likely to concentrate on his face, or at least his upper body, rather than his feet.
It occurred to Brennan that the hidden gun holster, the discreet handcuffs, the barely-visible socks, and the various fidgets he carried in his pockets, were somehow more representative of Booth than the suit itself. She knew he had many layers to his personality, many of which she was only beginning to learn about as their partnership progressed. The suit disguised both his strengths—his weapons—and his vulnerabilities—his poker chip and socks.
Not for the first time, Brennan found herself wondering what it would be like to strip away the disguise to the naked man underneath. She fantasized about her partner quite frequently. What was more worrisome was that the fantasies were becoming increasingly emotional in nature.
"The lion's share is almost gone, lioness!" Booth bellowed from her office, his deep voice echoing through the Jeffersonian's empty hallways.
That, too, was a disguise—his macho bluster. She knew he'd save her some, just because he knew it was her favorite.
She caved in, as he'd known she would, as she'd known she would, from the moment he walked in.
"Lionesses can be extremely aggressive when aroused, Booth. I will be very unhappy if you've actually finished all the mi krop."
Hiding a smile, Brennan headed toward her office, unbuttoning her coat as she walked.
The two security guards on duty exchanged glances as Booth and Brennan departed the building somewhere around 4:30 in the morning.
Dr. Brennan's lab coat was missing in action. So was the FBI Agent's suit jacket. Her hair was mussed, down around her shoulders. His pant legs were rolled up halfway, so his crazy socks were clearly visible. They were arguing something or other about costumes for Halloween.
"You think we oughta tell 'em?" One guard asked the other.
"Nah," his partner replied. "They wouldn't listen."
"You'd figure a genius would at least realize she has the perfect costume already," the first guard commented. "Mad scientist."
The guards nodded in agreement at the utter obliviousness of some people.
Post-A/N: Next Thursday's one-shot will be of the I-take-care-of-you variety. No angst. Just some typical Booth fussing over his partner. =)