The Ascent in the Descent
Disclaimer: I don't even own the teeny spoiler that this is based upon, let alone BONES. Nonetheless, no infringement or offence is intended.
A/N: This story has been triggered by the press teasers for the latter half of Season 6, which whilst typically vague around context, reported that B&B are going to be trapped in an elevator together...having a pivotal moment. So welcome to my longest one-shot ever.
For sad folks like me, who don't have a hope in Hell of ever being paid to write this kind of thing for real...it's a sparkly inspirational gem! This is not really intended to be a speculative story, it's more of a dark parody on the whole 'lock two recalcitrant folks in a dark room and see what happens' cliché. Sadly, nobody in their right mind could expect this kind of thing to happen, but I've created this for people like me, who can dream... Frankie707 and Angiebc, this one is especially for you.
Rearranging a small vase with hot house flowers, cut impulsively by her husband this morning in an attempt to assuage her aesthetic mood when visiting a botany lab, Angela Montenegro-Hodgins gave a sigh. Not a 'hearts' aflutter' sigh at the romantic gesture from the man who looked great in a lab coat and even better out of it; more of a familiar sigh of frustration at her best friend. She waddled across the room in that delightful way that women with hormonally relaxed pelvic ligaments do, then sat down on the low couch next to Brennan, suppressing a groan of pain as her lower back was taken to task by gravity.
"Seriously, Bren, if you don't say something to him soon, I'm going to explode...and not in a pretty, Hollywood CGI way either...more of a highly stylised, gritty, Manga-vengeance way...I mean look at me!" complained Angela.
"Pregnancy suits you Angela," said her BFF evenly and evasively. "The size of your gravid abdomen has no bearing on your propensity to explode, literally or metaphorically."
"Y'know, just because I love you 'like' a sister doesn't mean that I won't take up my right to engage in some actual sisterly threats and straight-talk," said the Artist raising a brow.
"My relationship with Booth has improved, Ange," insisted Brennan, reluctantly returning to the vexing puzzle of the man that she loved from behind a series of arbitrarily illogical lines. "Things have changed between us...it would be unrealistic to expect that we could drop everything and just jump into a mutual seduction. That sort of thing may help to sell my books, but it won't translate to my reality."
"You've already got the answer, and you label it unrealistic?" said Angela feigning surprise.
Brennan rolled her eyes and wordlessly handed her friend a cup of whatever herbal infusion Angela had taken a fancy to this morning. Taking a sip from her own cup, it tasted a little minty; Brennan surmised that Angela either had nausea or mild heartburn again today.
"I seriously needed that..." said Angela taking a sip from her own cup."...and you seriously need to take the hand of that man and get jumping...into mutual 'anything' at this point!"
"Angela..." warned Brennan. "Booth has experienced some difficult times recently...I try to support him however I can...however much he'll let me; but the truth is, that I am part of the problem."
"Honey, that's relationships for you," said Angela placing a hand briefly on Brennan's shoulder. "When you're that close to another person, you make allowances...you may be a small part of the problem, but you're a big part of the solution. Think about it. When it comes to Booth, it's the same for you...he's part of what's making you miserable, but you know that being around him is a big part of what makes your life good."
"That may have been true in the past, but our time apart...and Hannah, changed all of that, for both of us. I thought that Hannah was my friend; I believed that she had Booth's best interests at heart, and she hurt him. What I had in my partnership with Booth before I went to Maluku has irrevocably changed," said Brennan fatalistically.
Angela squeezed at her friend's tense shoulder affectionately. "So you've both got regrets...so you're both a little heartbroken. Welcome to humanity, Bren. The trouble with you 'and' with Booth, is that you've set the bar so high for yourselves that you get all bent out of shape whenever either of you does something that we mere mortals have already learned to live with."
"I am far from perfect, Ange," Brennan admitted with a smile.
The Artist gave a dry laugh. "You're secret is safe with me, Brennan...but seriously, the two of you need some time alone to work things through; preferably with alcohol, and without clothes."
The Universe must have been attuned to Angela's 'Sex-Drive Time' broadcast that day, because as night fell, that very opportunity literally fell from the sky.
"You look like an Eskimo wrapped up in that thing, Bones," said Booth. "I'm getting hot just looking at you."
Brennan turned stiffly in the passenger seat of the SUV doing a double-take, wearing ridiculously padded cold weather gear, complete with a faux-fur rimmed hood. "You're sexually aroused by my cold-weather gear?" she blurted.
"Whaaat? Umm, Yes...No...I meant the about the outfit...not about you!" he said trailing off into an embarrassed silence.
Half a minute later he gave a frustrated sigh. "It's times like this that I wish I were driving a snowplough," Booth complained as he slowed the SUV to a crawl in almost zero visibility as snow blew directly into their path.
"Are they available through the FBI Motor Pool?" asked Brennan cautiously, picking up on the tension
He glanced side on to see if she was being serious. She was. He gave a slight shake of his head. "No FBI-issue snowploughs, Bones. With a top speed of 25 miles per hour, they're not really 'zippy' enough to chase down bad guys."
She gave a gravelly chuckle. "Zippy? Is this like that other expression 'Yippee-kay-yay-motherf…'"
"No, no, no! Zippy. As in 'zip' from place to place...and 'Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah'" he said with a musical theatre smile and briefly releasing the wheel to make jazz hands.
"Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah? You made that up!" she said with a grin.
"Did not!" he retorted. "It's from the forties musical classic 'Song of the South', but Jiminy Cricket, y'know from Pinocchio, sang it too. Parker loves that movie..."
"You mean 'Il Grillo Parlante', from Collodi's nineteenth century children's tale. The cricket symbolically represents Pinocchio's conscience in order to covey the moral lesson on the consequences of lying," she corrected.
"Yeah, I know that, I saw the movie on the Disney Channel, like ten times," he said with an eye roll.
"Pinocchio's nose provides an excellent example of the liar paradox," she informed him.
"Say what?" Booth asked incredulously. "There's lies and there's truth, where's the paradox in that?"
Brennan rotated her whole body comically, her bulky garments were so restrictive. "What if Pinocchio says 'My nose will grow'...what happens? Does his nose grow, or doesn't it?"
"Of course it does, Pinocchio has a magic lie detecting nose...that's kind of the point," said Booth.
"Ah-ha!" said Brennan, raising a finger in the air, her entire padded arm shooting upward in an exaggerated gesture. "If he lies when he asserts that his nose grows, then his nose does in fact grow, he is actually telling the truth...so his nose should not have grown. Conversely, if Pinocchio tells the truth, then his nose grows regardless, it violates the primary condition which states that his nose only grows when he lies."
"Seriously messing with my head here, Bones. The poor little puppet just wanted to be a real boy... Trust you to focus on the logical loophole in the story," he said, throwing an affectionate smile her way. "Bedtime stories must have been a blast when you were growing up..."
She smiled back at him, now feeling a little over-warm herself. Peering out of the windshield into the swirling whiteness, and then glancing at the GPS, she decided to put up with her mild discomfort. They had almost reached Booth's building. He was going to change into his own cold weather gear, because they had to head out to a farm on the outskirts of D.C. to track down a suspect. Hopefully the snow would keep the man at his last known location, so they could retreat to somewhere warm and safe before the main storm front arrived.
Booth cursed when he saw that the parking spot directly in front of his building was occupied by sedan that had already taken on the appearance of an iced cupcake from the snowfall. He ended up parking, semi-legally about half a block away and vainly resigned himself to his hair being ruined by the time he reached his building. He reached over to grab his trench coat from the backseat, a cold blast of air and snowflakes blowing into the SUV's interior signalled Brennan exiting the vehicle. He observed her almost buoyant steps around the front of the vehicle as she came around to the Driver's side ready to cross the street. Stepping out of the SUV cautiously, on account of his inadequate footwear, he pulled on his coat.
Brennan proffered an arm that was at least three times the size of the one inside the garment suited for a trip to the North Pole. "Take my arm. You'll slip and fall otherwise," came her muffled voice. Her eyes, sparkling with amusement, framed by the fluff around the hood of her jacket, could just be seen. Booth realised that she was thoroughly enjoying the opportunity to come to his rescue, if only for a slippery half-block walk. For some reason that it was too damned cold to think about, he found it adorable.
They crossed the street and began walking. Okay, Brennan began walking; Booth was using every erg of his ice hockey training to prevent himself from falling onto his ass as he stumbled, slipped and staggered alongside her. Each jerk and tightened grip on her arm elicited a chuckle from within her hood as they headed for the distant beacon of the Liquor store lights on the ground floor of his building. By the time they had reached the liquor store, she was laughing so hard she almost fell on her own ass, and then it was Booth's turn to laugh.
Their merriment caused the liquor store owner to come to the door of his store to investigate the disturbance. He opened the door.
"Hey Seels, how you doin'?" he asked.
"Not too bad, Tommy," replied Booth. "Quiet night?"
"Yeah, 'till you two showed up anyways," said Tommy. "That you in there Dr. Brennan?" he asked peering into her hood.
She unfastened the Velcro and pulled back the hood. "Good guess, Tommy."
"Hey, I'm your biggest fan, remember?" he said half-jokingly. "Besides, you're too tall to be that other girl, the blonde vodka and Red Bull fan...haven't seen her around much lately... said she was gonna get a place of her own."
Brennan glanced at Booth and there was an uncomfortable silence. Tommy, with the skills of all good purveyors of alcohol, stepped in and broke the ice.
"Hey, I got your order boxed up behind the counter, you wanna take it up with you?" Tommy asked.
"Yeah, sure. Thanks Tommy," Booth replied.
"Okey-doke! Back in a flash," said Tommy, disappearing inside.
"You're getting snow on your hair, Bones," said Booth waving a finger at her exposed head.
"Not as much as you have," she said reaching out to ruffle his hair playfully, making flakes fly.
"Hey! Not the hair..." he protested.
"Here y'go Seels!" said Tommy handing him a cardboard box. "Settle it next time you're in, okay?"
"Thanks. Will do," said Booth.
"Hey, there's a small brown paper bag in there for you, Dr. Brennan. Sample of a new import, thought you might like to try it..." added Tommy.
"Thank you, but you shouldn't have..." said Brennan, genuinely touched.
"Think nothing of it," said Tommy. "Even you super-genius types need to kick back and let your hair down occasionally, right? So enjoy." The lights of the shop dimmed and flickered. "Might be time for me to shut up shop and head for home. Nobody in their right mind wants to get stuck away from home on a night this."
Tommy gave a wave and retreated back inside to lock up. Booth opened the door to enter his building, kicking the excess snow off his shoes before going inside. Brennan gave the steps a couple of well-aimed kicks from her more sensible boots and followed him. The building foyer was overly warm. Booth strode over to the elevator and jabbed at the call button a couple of times. The fluorescent strips on the ceiling flickered, Brennan noted the power fluctuations.
"Perhaps we should take the stairs, Booth," she advised sagely.
"Nah, the humidity from the basement makes the steps from the basement up to the first floor ice up when it gets this cold. It's a death trap," said Booth.
"You should petition the building owners to rectify the problem," she advised.
"It's an old building in a borderline-crappy neighborhood, they don't give a damn. I'll only complain when the elevator is out of order," he told her, just as the doors to the elevator opened.
They entered the elevator and the doors slid shut, Brennan jumped forward and hit the button for his floor, giving him a smug grin as she beat him to it.
"What is with you tonight, Bones? You're like a big kid...wanna go back outside and make snow angels to get it out of your system?" he asked with a smile.
The lights flickered.
The lights died.
The elevator jolted to a halt.
"Crap..." came Booth's voice from the darkness.
Brennan's face appeared in the ghoulish blue-white light of her cellphone screen. "You should have taken the stairs...you've done it now...Muahahaha!" she said in a passable attempt at a chilling voice-over from a B grade horror movie from the 1950's.
"Will you cut that out?" Booth asked in an exasperated tone. "Tell me you've got cellphone service..."
"No, I do not," she confirmed, almost blinding him as the bright screen with the 'No Service' message was shoved in his face. "How about you?"
The clinking of bottles and a thud was heard, as the cardboard box he was carrying was placed on the floor at his feet. Light sprung forth from his own cellphone as he checked for service, he let out a colourful curse at the discovery of the similar failure of his own cellphone network.
"Where did you learn that profanity? It sounds like a play on an Arabic phrase that I know," she asked.
"Afghanistan...and you're right. It's just the kind of thing we used to come out with to blow off steam...trash talk about the insurgents, suggesting they had...unorthodox sexual tastes. Not very complimentary, or professional," he said as their cellphone screens went back into stand-by, plunging them both back into darkness.
"Judging by the bastardisation of the Arabic, that alleged sexual proclivity would be bestiality, specifically with a small beast of burden...a donkey perhaps," commented Brennan.
"Yeah, I know what it means..." said Booth dryly, feeling mildly uncomfortable talking about anything of a sexual nature in the dark with this woman.
An awkward silence ensued.
Her voice came from the dark, small and unsure. It reached out and clutched at his heart. "I can use my cellphone to provide illumination if you'd be more comfortable."
"Let's leave them on standby...prolong the battery life. We'll get night vision soon enough," he said reassuringly as he considered her previous experience of being trapped in a small dark place. "Maybe we should turn one of our phones off...we don't know long we'll be stuck in here."
"We should leave both phones on for at least the next twelve hours, because one or the other of our cellphone services should be restored by morning. If neither are restored, then we should reassess our situation," she countered rationally.
"Okay, sounds like a plan," said Booth leaning against the wall.
Silence ensued, and sure enough, their night vision kicked in, with their positions on opposite walls of the elevator betrayed by the steady blinking red LED's of their phones.
"I need to take some of my clothes off," announced Brennan. "It's too warm in here. Hold my phone?"
Booth took the phone from her hand and she began removing her Eskimo coat. The light-starved monochromatic fields of Booth's vision combined with his enhanced hearing filled in some interesting blanks as she tore open Velcro fastenings apart and pulled zippers down. When she shrugged the coat off, he was assaulted by the scent of her, enhanced by the heat that had built up on the inside of her insulated coat.
"We should try and get comfortable. It's gonna be a long night, Bones. It might get cold in here when the leftover heat from the building drops off later," he said. Just for the sake of something to say. He removed his trench coat and threw it on the floor, slumping down to sit on the pile of fabric.
She gave a shuddering sigh into the cramped darkness; the walls seemed to be closing in on her. Even removing the constricting layer of her jacket had not lessened the effect of the memory of being buried alive.
"You okay, Temperance?" he asked quietly. He knew. She knew that he knew. He knew that she knew that he knew. They were mirrors facing each other, with knowing reflections curving off into theoretical infinity.
"Don't do that..." she said.
"Do what?" he asked obtusely.
"You know exactly what I'm referring to, Booth," she replied, anger tingeing her tone as she slid down the wall, her fingers unconsciously seeking anything that could be a way out of this place. "You call me Temperance when you want to evoke an emotional response from me. You don't want to do that right now," she warned.
"I care. I want to make sure that you're okay," he said.
"Fine. You asked. I'm fine," she said harshly, closing her eyes in an attempt to convince herself that she controlled the darkness; her hands scraping her hair back from her face now that she had landed cross-legged onto the still warm lining of her coat.
Her eyes snapped open as his breath exhaled onto her cheek. Booth had stealthily moved across the elevator car. "Your nose is growing...Temperance," he said, the tip of his right index finger tapped the tip of her nose.
In a flash of anger she lashed out. Grasping his tie she tugged his face toward her own, ready to deliver words of spite and frustration. Words failed her as she saw his mouth agape in shock at her aggression, so she turned her head to place her open mouth over his, thrusting her angry tongue into his mouth as their lips sealed. He hesitated for all of two seconds before he kissed her back; she knew that he would, he was a man after all.
After thirty seconds, she began to enjoy the sensation of his tongue exploring her mouth and that which her own tongue discovered on its exploratory path. This wasn't what she wanted, so she broke up the meeting of mouths and pushed him away weakly, gasping and trying not to sob despite the tears of frustration tracking down her cheeks.
"What was that for?" he asked incredulously.
"You wanted an emotional response from me, I gave it to you...try caring about that!" she spat. A sob escaped. "I warned you...but as quickly as I adjust, you tug at me from another angle. Just leave me alone."
Seeley Booth was a man in the dark, but not a stupid one. Hell, a blind man could see that she was under extreme duress on top of a whole Molotov cocktail of other issues that they'd kept bottled up.
"I'm sorry, truly sorry. I should have listened to you," he said quietly. "I deserve an ass-kicking, not a kiss from you. I'd leave you alone, but we're stuck here y'know?" She could hear his self-depreciating smile in his last statement.
"I'm sorry too, Booth," she said more clearly, but still sniffling a little. "Being shut in here is more emotionally challenging than I could have ever anticipated. I didn't plan to kiss you...it just...happened."
"Hey, they're the best kind. I got the message though, Bones," he said gently, moving back toward her side of the elevator car. "I know what you're going through, okay? I've been there too. We should help each other, just like we always do...deal?" he asked her.
"Deal," she sighed.
"Can I sit next to you?" he asked after a few minutes of silence.
She suppressed a snort of laughter at his ridiculous timidity. "I won't kiss you again, if that's what you're afraid of," she scoffed.
"What?" he said in mock affront. "After I went to all the trouble of getting us this classy room and enough booze to wipe out my entire Ice Hockey team?"
Brennan gave a hearty laugh, at her partner at his playful best. "I think that I just proved that you don't need to ply me with alcohol for me to kiss you. But if you need a drink to bolster your courage, I'll be sociable and join you."
"Beer?" he asked casually, as if they were kicking back at the Founding Fathers.
"Yes please," she replied in the same blithe tone.
He leaned forward and moved the contents of the box around until he managed to extract a six-pack. Two bottles were freed from the packaging and divested of their caps. He sat down beside her and passed her a brew.
The necks of the bottles clinked together as they prepared to take a drink.
"What shall we drink to?" she asked, gripping the still chilly bottle.
"To release?" suggested Booth glancing meaningfully at the doors of the elevator. That meaning was missed in the inky blackness of their current location.
"Sexual release?" she asked puzzled. "I only kissed you."
"Since when did your mind automatically default to the gutter?" he asked with a laugh.
"Probably since I had tea with Angela this afternoon," she said laughing at herself. "Not having had sexual intercourse for a couple of years is also a contributing factor."
"That long?" said Booth aghast. "You're almost an honorary Catholic, Bones!"
"Have you ever gone that long?" she asked. "Not counting the years before you lost your virginity, because you know I'll win that one."
"Yeah, I have...longer than two years," he admitted, somehow emboldened by the silence, their solitude and the darkness. "But I'm a Catholic, you've always been so, 'up front' about sex...you get the urge...you do it...why the celibacy?"
She leaned on his shoulder, just partners, comfortable, engaging in the 'trash talk' that he enjoyed so much...but that question was treasure, not trash...she needed to be completely honest, particularly as they were alone. "If you have to ask me that question, then we should either drop the subject, or make a toast to honesty and talk about it. Really talk about it; no interruptions from cases, no distractions, no lines..."
"Okay, we can drink to honesty...but in the spirit of honesty, there's one thing you should know first," he said turning to his left to face her.
She turned to her right to face him. "What would that be?" she asked, feeling an alpha-male assertion coming on.
"I don't need to find courage in any bottle to kiss you. I thought you should know," he said.
Her alpha-female response was an automatic challenge. "Prove it."
In a complete counterpoint to her earlier aggressive kiss, he simply used the hand not holding his beer bottle to slide behind her neck, spreading and threading his fingers through the hair over her occiput. Only when her head reclined back onto his hand did he place his lips over hers and politely run the tip of his tongue over her bottom lip, to add to the burden of proof that she required. Accepting his proof was almost as intense as she had fantasised that a sexual coupling would be, the rush of heat and her pounding pulse, combined with the strong suggestion from her mind in the dark made her senses quake. Her own free hand crept over the back of his neck. Arching her back, pushing her torso into his while pulling his head down to deepen their contact, an involuntary moan of satisfaction releasing into his mouth as she wantonly permitted herself a small release.
Booth broke the contact with her lips, because he seriously thought that she'd passed out; but 'swooning' was 'so' last century. When she opened her eyes, he smiled.
"Tell me that didn't just happen?" he asked, still breathing heavily.
"I'd be lying if I denied it," she replied. "I need that drink now."
"I need a cigarette," he joked, allowing them to place a little more distance between them. "Let's drink to honesty, before things get out of hand."
"To honesty," she said, raising her bottle.
"To honesty," he toasted her bottle with a brown glass kiss. "May our noses never grow!"
"Actually, they may well grow...not from the paradox, cartilaginous tissues of the nose and ears continue to grow into old age," she informed him.
Taking a long drink they settled back against the wall.
"I love it when you just come out with stuff like that, Bones," he mused tilting his head back against the wall, looking for signs of life in the light fitting on the ceiling.
"I love it when you tell me that you love my 'stuff'," she shot back. Booth gave a bark of laughter.
They sipped their beers in companionable silence for a few minutes, until Brennan tapped Booth on the shoulder in that delightful way that warned a guy that while she didn't want to interrupt you, she was going to anyway.
"Something on your mind?" he asked.
"Plenty of things," she replied with her usual equanimity. "But that should be no surprise to you...I want to ask you something."
"Shoot. I'm not going anywhere in a hurry," he said taking a swig of his beer, letting his left hand walk spider-like over her raised knees. She batted him away.
"Where do we go from here, Booth? I don't even know where to start to make things right between us," she admitted.
"Straight to the tough stuff, huh? We're not all wrong you know," he said.
"Agreed," she conceded. "But I have come to the conclusion that we have areas of our relationship where neither of us dare to go...which I find frustrating, given that neither of us are afraid of confrontation."
"All this time, you've never actually come clean with me; never told me what you really want from me...I get mixed signals from you that mess with my gut," he confessed.
"Well that explains why you've never directly told me what you require from me...I can't make a decision without data," she said in realisation.
"You make me sound like a Science project..." he complained.
Brennan gave a chuckle that echoed into her beer bottle as she took another drink. "I generally have no desire to have my 'Science projects' at home in my bed as my lover..."
"Maybe being a 'Science project' has an upside after all..." he mused." Is that what you want me to be? Your lover?" he asked; his head turning toward her to make out her profile against the shadows.
"Yes it is one of the things that I desire, but I need to clarify what that means," she said.
"Clarify away..." he said, genuinely interested in her take on what sex could be between them, other than generally mind-blowing on the basis of that last kiss...and come to think of it, the one before it. Parts of him were beginning to agree vehemently with that assessment of their early promise.
"This isn't just about sex, Booth. I don't want to 'take' you as my lover...As Angela would say, I've 'been there, done that'," she said with a short self-depreciating laugh that echoed regret rather than joy. "I want to 'give' myself as a lover...I have come to realise that I can be incredibly selfish. Last year, when you asked me to take that chance, I interpreted your request as being synonymous with my 'taking' you as a lover. I couldn't do that to you, I cared too deeply to make that mistake with you too. What I didn't realise at the time was that you were trying to give yourself to me and how much pain I caused you..."
He took the hand that had begun plucking and worrying at her jeans as she spoke. "That's all in the past now...we both have to move on from that."
"I disagree," she asserted, sitting up straighter and turning to face him, but not attempting to extract her hand from his. "We cannot 'move on' without finding the cause of our failure to make the right connection between us, otherwise the flaws in our communication will continue to have a dysergic reaction every time we have to face a challenge together...it all comes back to your definition of insanity. Moving on is your way of perpetuating the cycle of insanity, whereas my own flawed approach is to abandon the effort and focus on things that I can control."
Booth blew out a long breath. "That's pretty deep coming from you, Bones. I'm guessing you've thought this through."
"There's not much else to do in the Indonesian jungle after the sun goes down," Brennan said with a wry grin into the darkness. "Coming home early was particularly traumatic. I am accustomed to being the person with the answers. Frankly, discovering that I was the last one to work it out made me feel like an idiot. It was profoundly conflicting. Then there was Hannah..."
He tossed back the rest of his beer in a self-loathing gesture. "I know...you're not the only one feeling like an idiot, or who's made selfish decisions. She didn't deserve the hand she was dealt. I dragged her into the middle of all this and for what? To prove that I could move on? To prove that I could give myself to someone other than you? That I could hurt you?"
"I hurt you, Booth," she reminded him. "On balance, it was only fair."
"No way, Temperance...you just can't rationalise or compartmentalise that kind of hurt. There were times when I went out my way to hurt you, to try and make you see. It was wrong of me to do that. Nobody should be able to do that!"
"You may be morally correct, but we both know that in reality it is human nature to lash out when subjected to a painful stimulus," she said steadily.
Booth threw his hands in the air. "Stop trying to martyr yourself on the cross of logic! You don't need to justify my mistakes so you can control the outcome."
She rounded on him, flabbergasted. "I martyr myself? What about your martyrdom on the cross of self-doubt, taking the blame according to your precious doctrine and wearing it like your 'Cocky' belt buckle so you can 'move on', when all you ever manage to do is enter another cycle of brooding until your ego recovers!"
"I have an ego?" Booth said, beating a fist on his chest. "You're the Poster Child for egomania! I've never known anyone as driven to tell the World about their own superiority as you are! You might not wear a belt buckle, but if you did, it would say 'Brainy'."
"Now you know what to buy me for my birthday," she sniped. "I'll buy you a man-sized hen house to brood in."
Booth burst out laughing.
"You're laughing at me?"
"No," he managed to say.
"You're laughing at yourself?"
"Please enlighten me, because I find myself becoming frustrated," she ranted.
"Frustrated enough to kiss me again?" he asked with a grin.
She paused. "Yes. Why is that?"
"It's because that's the way all arguments between us should end," he told her.
"You're suggesting that my desire to kiss you when I'm angry means that I love you?" she asked.
"Yeah, same here, Bones," he said pulling her close.
"You love me?" she blurted out.
"Yeah, you wanna fight about that too?" he asked.
She gathered the lapels of his jacket into her fists. "No."
It was to be the first of many make-up kisses, so they both made a special effort.
Perhaps ten minutes later, still feeling a little hot and heavy from making out like a couple of teenagers; Brennan, employing a linty piece of common sense discovered somewhere within her frazzled being, suggested checking their cellphones for service. Hers had no service, Booth's had a single bar but failed to connect a call and the e-mail server attached to the device was down. She suggested sending a text to Cam, to apprise her of their predicament and raise the alarm. He sent the message and suggested that they have another beer. Brennan agreed, but was concerned about the diuretic effects of alcohol and the fact that there were no bathroom facilities, although she was sure that if push came to shove, that she could manage to pee into an empty beer bottle. Booth tried to bend his brain around the mechanics of that particular party trick and quickly changed the subject.
They talked for hours about all manner of things. Who should be the first to know about them - Parker. Should they keep working together - absolutely. Did they plan on co-habiting at any point in the future - Brennan wanted to keep her place, Booth didn't care. Should they have sex - sparking a lively argument that ended in a kiss which almost made the question redundant. Did Brennan still want a baby - yes, but she insisted on a direct deposit and plenty of practice, which again almost ended the 'should they have sex' argument.
Finally, at around 1:00 a.m., after checking Booth's again service-less phone for messages, they drifted off to sleep, spooned up, laid on top of their coats in the warm dark silent place.
Booth awoke to the sound of fists hammering on metal and incoherent sobs. The space next to him was cold; the elevator car was freezing cold. He looked at the luminescent hands on his watch; it was just after 4:30 a.m.
"Bones?" he called out into the frigid pitch blackness.
"Booth?" she whimpered. "She buried us alive; I'm running out of air."
"You're in the elevator with me, we're stuck, remember?" he said in a clear calm voice.
She gave a desperate moan and began babbling jibber jabber. "The carbon dioxide levels are rising...I'm hypercapnic, the narcosis is making me hallucinate. I'm dying, Booth...I'm so cold...the respiratory acidosis is causing organ failure...I don't want to die!"
Booth decided she was either having a flashback or a panic attack. Either way, he didn't want to spook her. "Temperance, I'm coming to get you. You told Hodgins I'd get to you in time. You were right. Look for the flame, I'm here..." he had taken his lighter out of his pocket. He extended his arm and flicked the lighter mechanism, a tall, warm yellow flame sprung to life.
The lighter flew out of his hand and hit the wall, extinguishing the flame and the light as Brennan took a flying leap at him, driving him up against the wall. Her shockingly cold arms wrapped in an almost stranglehold around his neck, her legs wrapped around his waist, their coldness leaching through his clothes. Her breathing was shallow, harsh and panicked against his neck. He held onto her and let her hang on for a good minute until she calmed down. It was only then that he realised that she'd taken off most of her clothes and was dressed only in panties and, Saints be praised for her sensible streak, a thermal vest. He'd taught his trainees in Afghanistan about hypothermia management...they'd laughed raucously about the concept of 'paradoxical undressing', where a hypothermic victim in a mildly confused state removes their clothing instead of adding layers of insulation against the cold. It didn't seem funny at all in this scenario.
"I was dreaming of the Gravedigger...but she's dead, Booth," she murmured against his shoulder. "We're still in the elevator?" she asked, slightly more lucid, but still sounding bewildered.
"Yeah...it's 4:30 a.m. And it's freezing...Bones, you're like an ice block, we need to get you warm. C'mon let's get you wrapped up...let go of me," he said. The strength that she had used to cling to him melted away, her feet went out from under her as they touched the floor. She sat there, shivering slightly. He took off his jacket and pulled his grey woollen jumper over his head and placed it over hers, coaxing her like he did dressing Parker as a little kid to get her arms through the arm holes.
Pulling his jacket back on, he grabbed his overcoat from the floor, put it on, then he took her long Eskimo coat and put her arms though the arm holes. Lying down on the floor next to her, he pulled her over on top of him, their coats open so that she could share his heat, then he pulled the hood of the Eskimo coat up over her head. She lay limply on top of him, her face with cold lips and freezing nose, burrowed quiescently into the crook of his neck for at least twenty minutes. She began to shiver intermittently as her core temperature approached normal again. He felt her breathing return to normal, her heart thudded at a strong steady fifty-five beats per minute and she passed into an easy slumber, entwining her lower legs around his own. Booth wrapped his arms around her waist under the massive coat and drifted off into a wary doze.
A warm hand stealing under his waistband woke him some time later. He dimly recalled waking to check on her intermittently as he dozed, using his sniper-training. At some point he'd manoeuvred them so that she lay with her back to the wall and his body was sandwiched alongside hers. Any clothing that he could reach had been piled on top of their lower bodies for extra insulation. The elevator car was still freezing, which didn't detract Dr. Brennan from attacking his neck in a way that would have had Buffy Summers sharpening a stake, providing that she hadn't been sensibly tucked up at home out of the snowstorm of course.
Booth lifted his wrist into view. It was 08:30 a.m., hopefully there would be signs of life in his building soon.
"Good morning," said Brennan, making her way up and along his mandible, nibbling at the stubbly growth that she seldom saw on him.
"It's freezing in here..." he said when he poked a hand out from their makeshift cocoon-for-two to pull the hood of her Eskimo coat back up around her head.
"I know," she said, brushing her lips over his gently. "I am attempting to keep us warm."
He released a pent up breath as her hand stole into uncharted territory. "Well, I hate to outshine you in the 'Voice of Reason' department Dr. Feelgood, but sex is going make us lose heat. It's not quite as bad as drinking alcohol, but a bad idea all the same."
"I refute your assertion. The risk of any transient vasodilatory effects would be outweighed by the neural and hormonal benefits of raising our basal metabolic activity," she rattled off, as if it were just another discussion point on the forensics platform instead of an indecent proposal on the floor of an elevator.
"You're trying to 'Science' me into having sex with you...now that's a first," he said with a touch of sarcasm.
"You don't want to have sex with me?" she asked, touching the tip of her nose to his as her questing hand staked a claim, raising a totem on Booth Island. "Is your nose growing? Because growth is proliferating in other regions."
"Yeah, well maybe my nose would grow too if you had your hand around it," he quipped, then groaned as she let go of him. He grunted in surprise as she looped her leg over his waist and pulled herself flush against him, heat leaching from her to him this time.
"Bones?" he asked cautiously as his hand slid down the wool of his jumper, the one she was still wearing. His fingers had passed below the ribbed boundary of the garment and found skin, nothing but skin.
"Yes?" she asked, attempting to tug his shorts lower without letting any heat escape.
"Where are your panties?" he asked, now definitively knowing where they weren't.
"I removed them...carefully, so as not to lose heat," she said with a note of pride.
"I don't want our first time to be on the floor of the elevator in my apartment building!" he protested in sheer panic as she succeeded in getting them skin to skin, trying not to lose his mind, amongst other things.
"You could take the stairs if you don't want to be reminded of it..." she suggested, breathing out against his ear. "Oh, God..." she blasphemed as he instinctively shifted to maximise the external contact between them.
Booth wondered if the term 'blind panic' could still apply in pitch blackness. Every erg of his resolve was being consumed, resisting the urge to just give them both what they wanted. Catholicism provided him with a last ditch reason before they reached the point of no return.
"What about protection?" he gasped, trying to throw her off her game as she caressed him, hands-free. "What if you got pregnant? We'd have to call the kid Ellie or Elliot in honor of their place of conception...a God-damned elevator!"
"Applying an assonant memorial to the point of conception? That is highly amusing, but completely irrelevant. You have condoms in your wallet. Three of them," she stated with certainty. Then she played dirty and kissed him, clearly conveying the kind of contact that she wanted, and soon.
He disconnected their lips. "How do know that? You stole my wallet?" he whined.
"Technically, I only stole a condom from your wallet. You have two left..." she said as she placed the wrapper between her teeth and ripped it open. "Would you like to do the honors, or shall I?" she asked conversationally.
"You really want to do this? Here? Now? Risking hypothermia, again?" he ranted. "I know we decided that we should get the whole sex act out of the way of moving forward, but..."
"Do you want to fight about this again?" she asked, whilst doing some prophylactic multitasking. "Because we both know how it will end..."
"Infuriating woman!" he growled as he grabbed their cocoon of clothing and rolled her onto her back.
"I can definitely hear voices in there Dr. Saroyan," said the Building Supervisor. "The guy from the power company says he thinks the blown transformer outside the building is fixed. He's checking the switchboard in the basement and said he'll isolate power to the elevator circuit, just in case switching the whole building back on blows it again.
Cam stomped her feet and waved her arms around, still freezing cold despite wearing the warmest high fashion ski-wear that money could buy. "Thank God! They could have easily fallen victim to hypothermia, even though both Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan are highly trained professionals."
"They're stuck between the first and second floor," mused the Building Super. "Sounds like they're arguing in there."
"Ah, that would be them...completely normal," said Cam wryly cautiously approaching the elevator doors in the foyer that had been propped open with a fire axe.
He retracted his head from the dark elevator shaft. "I'm not so sure, Doc. The lady is saying prayers...shall I call for that ambulance on your rinky-dink satellite phone?" he asked.
Cam frowned, as the Building Super stuck his head back through the doors. "Dr. Brennan? Praying? I don't think so..."
"I heard a definite 'God' and at least three 'Jesuses', maybe Mr. Booth is in bad shape and she's doing CPR on him..." he speculated. He listened again intently. "Hey, I think he's okay, Dr. Saroyan...I can hear him moaning, so he's alive."
"You can't be serious?" she said, more to herself than to anyone else.
"Hey, take a listen for yourself!" said the Building Super magnanimously.
Cam approached the dark slice of nothingness between the elevator doors and listened intently. She had witnessed enough bickering and discourse between Booth and Brennan to write a TV soap based around their dialogue...if she had been so inclined, the scene playing out in that elevator car would only be shown on Showtime...or maybe even Pay-per-View. The Super looked at her shocked face.
"You change your mind about needing that ambulance?" he asked.
"No. But I think I need a cigarette..." said Cam.
The Super shook his head regretfully. "I know it's freezing out there, Doc, but if you've gotta light up...it'll have to be outside. This is a smoke-free building."
His radio crackled to life and the garbled voice of the Power Company guy said he was ready to switch power to the elevator. He put a shoulder against the elevator doors and kicked the axe free, before radioing back to give the signal. A deep hum of power surged then settled back to a happy submissive hum. The radio crackled with an instruction to push the button.
Completely consumed by their climatic consummation, they never heard the voices echoing up the elevator shaft. It was a shock therefore, when the elevator car jolted and the light bulb on the ceiling flared and exploded, sprinkling shards of glass over them.
Brennan laughed breathlessly. "I believe that Earth just moved."
"That doesn't explain the light exploding," he panted into her neck. "That was some scream there!"
"No. My voice is unable to reach the required harmonic frequency to shatter glass. It was probably spontaneous in reaction to extreme cold...or...a power surge! Booth, get off me!"
"Geez," he complained. "Not even a 'thank you for giving me an Earth-shaking orgasm', or even a tired cliche about how much you love me...'Get off me?' We really need to work on your pillow talk, Dr Feelgood."
"We're about to be rescued, Booth!" she said feeling around for her jeans. "I estimate that we have less than a minute to get our clothes back on." Impulsively, she grabbed his face between her hands and kissed him short and hard. "Thank you...and that would be for three orgasms...I for one was counting..."
"Ouch! Typical over-achiever...Watch out for the glass, Bones," he warned as he rolled onto some shards that shattered further under his coat. A small shard sliced the palm of his hand just under his thumb, but he was too busy pulling his pants up to care.
In the building foyer, muted ping announced the arrival of the elevator. The doors opened with torchlight revealing, Special Agent Seeley Booth clutching a large cardboard box of booze...and what appeared to be an Eskimo.
"You survived!" exclaimed Cam with a smile.
"Obviously," said the hyper-rational Eskimo...okay, it was clearly Dr. Brennan. I.D. confirmed.
"Yeah, we did Cam. Thanks for the rescue. Can we take Bones to my apartment, so you can give her a once-over? She had some moderate hypothermia in the night," said Booth.
"I brought my Doctor's bag," said Cam holding it up. "I may as well do a House Call!" She turned to the Building Supervisor. "Should we take the stairs?" she asked him.
The man threw his arms up. "Well, I only managed to de-ice the stairs down to the basement for the Power guy. The ones going up to the first floor are a death trap in this weather. You should take the elevator."
"Famous last words..." said Brennan cryptically. Booth gave a snort of laughter. Cam didn't want to know.
A bright torch illuminated their blessedly short ride in the elevator up to Booth's floor. As Cam shone the light out into the dim corridor, to let Booth and Brennan out, she spotted a couple of empty beer bottles and a pair of panties in the corner. She shook her head and picked the items up and followed them to Booth's door, where Dr. Brennan was dancing from foot to foot impatiently holding her cell phone at the door for illumination as Booth fumbled with his keys.
"Is everything okay there, Dr. Brennan?" she asked.
Brennan had thrown back the hood of her coat, and in the light of Cam's torch, she looked pale and cold.
"I just spent fourteen hours trapped in an elevator Dr. Saroyan, I need to pee!" she announced with a flash of a smile, pushing past Booth to dash inside as the door opened.
Booth's apartment was cold, but not freezing. It felt comparatively cosy as Cam and Booth walked inside.
"So, how bad was it Seeley?" she asked. "Dr. Brennan is looking a little rough."
Booth raked a hand through his hair, his fingers telling him that he wouldn't like what he saw in the mirror once Brennan finished in the bathroom and it was his turn to pee.
"She flashed back to the Gravedigger around four a.m., when I was asleep, got cold, did the whole paradoxical undressing thing and scared the crap out of me, Cam," he said candidly.
"You seem to have done a reasonable job of treating her hypothermia, Seeley. I'll examine her, but you know I'm going to recommend a minimum of a day's bed rest, warm fluids and some calories. Will you make sure she gets them, or do I need to send her to hospital?" asked Cam.
"I'll take care of her Cam, you know I will," he replied, giving her a long look.
Cam gestured to the cardboard box full of booze. "I figured you would. I'm glad to see that the two of you refrained from drinking yourselves to an early demise."
"Just a couple of beers last night before it got cold. Drinking alcohol in the freezing cold is asking for trouble, I'm not a complete idiot Camille" he blustered.
"I picked up a couple of your empties," Cam said, holding up the beer bottles from the elevator and doing a wide-eyed double take at a surprising piece of evidence. "I also found these..." she said, holding up Dr. Brennan's panties.
"Uh, yeah," said Booth. "Bones...'Paradoxical Undressing'...hypothermia...remember?"
"That is some paradox, Seeley," replied Cam in a tone which said 'pull the other one...it plays Hot Blooded', as she dangled the panties between her thankfully gloved fingers.
Booth rubbed the end of his nose self-consciously before snatching the proffered panties and stuffing them hurriedly into his pants pocket. "Here, give me the bottles, I'll put them into the recycle," he said.
Cam raised an amused brow as she handed over the beer bottles. "There's a 'message' in one of those bottles, which I don't think is recyclable..." she said with a sympathetic wince at having to bust the chops of an old friend.
Booth cringed as he realised his hasty error as he and Bones had scrambled to get decent in time for their rescue. He thought that the incriminating empty beer bottle was one of those that was safely in the cardboard box behind him, but fate had done a dirty bait and switch on him by leaving the bottle containing the used condom where 'Eagle-eye Saroyan' could find it. He grabbed the bottles and stalked off to his utility room.
Cam chuckled evilly. Booth called over his shoulder. "Shut up, Cam...just...shut up!"
"Is Booth upset with you?" asked Brennan of Cam as she arrived back from the bathroom.
The man himself dashed out into the living room. "No. Booth is not upset," he announced, ducking in to plant a kiss on Brennan's lips. "Booth just needs to pee." He high-tailed it to his bathroom, where solitude, the extent of his hair disaster, and relief of floating eyeballs awaited him.
Cam interrupted the thoughts of Dr. Brennan, who was staring back in the direction of Booth's bathroom.
"I need to examine you, Dr. Brennan...unless you'd prefer me to call the paramedics," suggested Cam.
"No, I would prefer it if you did the assessment. I did experience hypothermia. Where do you want me?" asked Brennan a little stunned in the cold light of day.
"Just take a seat on the couch, strip down your torso to whatever the bottom layer of your clothes is. I just need to listen to your heart and lungs, okay?" asked Cam.
"Certainly," replied Brennan, complying automatically.
Cam observed her colleague closely and was still concerned, but couldn't say whether her demeanour was a physiological or emotional symptom of being trapped in a freezing elevator. When Brennan was sat in her jeans and thermal vest, Cam proceeded to take a temperature and blood pressure, and then used a finger prick test kit to check her blood sugar; before moving on with her stethoscope over the heart and lung fields.
"Is Bones okay, Cam?" asked Booth, returning with his ego and his hair restored.
"I'm fine," responded Brennan automatically. "Just a little tired..."
Cam shook her head. "You are not fine, Dr. Brennan. You are incredibly lucky...please put your clothes back on...all of them, now."
"I don't believe in luck," said Brennan.
"Fine. But the science says you are still mildly hypothermic and your blood sugar is low, suggesting that you've pushed your body to its metabolic limits." Brennan glanced up guiltily at Booth. "I should send you to be admitted to hospital, but if you agree to follow my instructions, you can stay here with Booth. Are we understood?"
Brennan just nodded, exhausted. Cam placed a temperature probe in Booth's ear and raised a brow at the number on the screen, then rustled around in her bag to retrieve two bars of chocolate, placing one in the hand of each of her colleagues.
She pointed toward Booth. "You also have a low-normal core temperature," then waved a hand toward his bedroom. "So it is bed for both of you. Now. Go. Eat chocolate in bed. I'll bring in hot soup and other goodies along with a detailed list of restrictions for the next twenty-four hours."
Booth pulled Brennan up from the couch and they stumbled off to bed.
"And by eating that chocolate, I mean the socially accepted method of consumption. No kinky interpretations!" called Cam after their retreating backs. She heard their quiet laughter in response.
Ten minutes later, Dr. Camille Saroyan, going above and beyond House Call duty, brought in a Thermos of hot tea, soup and other promised goodies into Booth's bedroom. She was pleased to see that Booth had piled some extra blankets on. He lay there with a cocky grin, licking chocolate from his fingers. Dr. Brennan was out cold, wrapped around Booth with her head on his chest and blankets tucked up to her chin. Cam put down her burdens and extended an expert hand to touch Brennan's forehead.
"Wipe that cocky grin off your face, Seeley. She's been chronically tired since she came back from Maluku. I even authorised overtime for night security at the Jeffersonian, so they could keep an eye on her. Do you know how many extra hours she logged since we put the team back together? Seven months worth, Seeley. Seven, damned months, all in some insane attempt to make up for a mistake! All because I called her out for being selfish, for breaking up the team. While you were goofing off from the Lab and getting your rocks off to prop up your wounded ego, this woman was trying to work herself to death. You know, I thought you'd grow up when you recovered from your brain tumor, but you came back with your 'perfect' woman, showing us all that you're still 'that guy', slapping the woman that you really love in the face with a standard from a completely different league. You told me that you loved her...and I told you what would happen if you broke her heart, but you did it anyway. I hope that you're proud of yourself. I'd put her in the hospital right now if she didn't need you more than round the clock nursing care."
"Cam...don't..." he began.
"Shut up, you need to hear this! Dr. Brennan is one of 'my' people and she's not as clueless as you think. My people are special...and you can make fun of Squints all you want Seeley, but they're fragile. What makes them special is what makes them vulnerable. I'm one of them. Me. A tough broad from the Bronx, who needs to step up and protect my people. Dr. Brennan taught me that. You're almost forty years old, so stop being an asshole and be thankful that she's evolved enough to keep you in her life. If I were her, I would have kicked you to the kerb."
"Thanks, Cam...I think," he said, stunned.
"I'm going to stick around for a few hours until I'm satisfied that you're not going to kill yourselves with more idiocy. Drink your soup, and wake Dr. Brennan to give her some in ten minutes. Call me if you're worried," said Cam as she strode out of his bedroom.
Brennan stirred on his chest.
"I guess I asked for that..." he muttered to himself.
Brennan's eyes cracked opened. "Cam has a way with words...she's entirely correct by the way."
"You heard all that?" he asked.
"Obviously..." she replied, closing her eyes again.
"You need some soup, Bones...Doctor's orders," he said.
"Ten minutes...that was the order, Booth," she countered sleepily.
Booth realised that he had to rise above this moment and man up. He scrubbed a hand through his hair and huffed out a curse in his own honour.
"Tomorrow...I'm tired," she mumbled with a smile.
A/N: As always, I'd be delighted to receive your thoughts on this one-shot.