A/N: I'm still not sure how this happened because it isn't anywhere close to what I had originally planned but, as my fellow authors can tell you, sometimes stories seem to write themselves. This one is for ceeray3 who has been distracting me with her Twitter icon and ProfeJMarie who has wholeheartedly encouraged the behavior. What am I going to do with the two of you for putting ideas in my head when I should be working on my unfinished chapter fics? *wink*
Here it is: Booth. Tuxedo. Do I really need to say any more?
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones.
A Tuxedo for Temperance
He walks up to her door and raps softly on it. He hears her exasperated sigh and the click of her heels on the floor. He takes a deep breath and waits. She's scowling when she opens it but, when her eyes settle on the monkey suit he's wearing, her lips turn up in a crooked smile.
"Angela said you could use a date," he tells her, tugging self-consciously on the sleeves of the starched white shirt beneath the tuxedo jacket. He feels out of place. Like he shouldn't be here, but the artist's words rang in his ears. She needs you tonight.
Her eyes are sad and she looks tired already. He hates to see her like this. In pain. But this time, unlike that night in the SUV - the night he had rejected her - he's not the one that's making her feel this way. They've struggled. A lot. Working. Trying to get their partnership, their friendship, back on track. He watches as she fiddles with the small diamond stud she's slipping into her ear.
"I hate these things," she says nervously as he enters her condo. She flits around picking things up. She tilts her head to look at him. "Are you sure you want to...?"
He stops her words when he rests a hand on her bare shoulder. "You'd really let me be all dressed up with no place to go?" he asks. The warmth of her skin taunts him. He remembers the night at the Anuk exhibit. Wonders if he would have kissed her if the squints hadn't interrupted them. Wonders if that would have changed anything between them.
"Booth?" she says, her voice softly calling him back to reality. She holds a necklace out to him. "Would you mind?"
He takes the jewelry and moves to stand behind her. Slipping it around her neck, he fastens the clasp. His breath catches at her scent. Was that jasmine? He moves awkwardly away, trying in vain to regain his focus.
She shivers as his hands brush lightly against her neck and shoulders. She closes her eyes and savors the unexpected feel of his touch. Turning around, she grips the edges of his tie and straightens it. His hands inadvertently drop to cup her slim waist. What was she doing? He'd moved on. They'd both moved on.
Their eyes meet, and he rescues her. Rescues them both from the awkward weight of the moment. He offers his arm. "Whatdoya say, Bones?" he asks with a charming smile. "Let's get outta here..."
He rarely leaves her side, offering silent comfort and security. The gentle pressure of his hand on her lower back and the crisp scent of his soap reassure her in a way she couldn't explain.
"Can I get you another glass of wine, Bones?" he asks her as she's approached by an older couple.
"That would be lovely, thank you," she answers with a smile.
Crossing the room, he makes the order and waits at the bar. He leans on the counter and watches as she engages in a lively conversation with the pair. He smiles. She may hate mingling, but she's better at it than she thinks.
He watches a younger man approach and steal her away. He sees the tension in her face. Watches as she tries to politely excuse herself. Suddenly, he finds he wishes he had his badge. Or his gun. Or both.
The bartender hands him the flute and he makes his way over to her. He's going to have to improvise. Thinking about Tony and Roxy, he takes a deep breath and hopes that the look in his eyes will convince her to play along.
Touching her arm at the elbow, he presses a kiss to her temple as he hands her the glass. "You okay, baby?" he asks, "You look like you could use some air."
"Booth, this is Wesley Howard. His family is on the board at the publishing house," she tells him. Her eyes meet his and the look in them breaks his heart.
Well, that explained why she hadn't confronted him. He slips his arm around her and sticks out a hand. "Seeley Booth," he says. His handshake is firmer than it needs to be. She might not care to say it, but he was only too happy to say it for her. Paws off.
"Booth is my partner," she tells Howard.
He squeezes her hip. "Bren here's not good with titles." There it was. The light bulb. The recognition that this was like their undercover work.
She grins up at him. "I think you still owe me a dance, Tiger," she almost purrs.
He leans down and brushes her lips in the softest caress. It's painfully brief. And when he looks at her afterwards, he's sure he sees a flicker of - what was that? Confusion? Regret? "If you'll excuse us, Wellsley," he says, his eyes remaining fixed on hers as he leads her away and onto the dance floor.
She giggles and smiles up at him. "You think he bought it?" she asks in a whisper.
Booth looks at her, entranced by the sparkle in her eyes. He realizes that he's fallen in love with her all over again tonight. There was no denying it. He leans close to her ear and murmurs, "He's still watching you."
She stiffens in his arms. He feels his heart beat a little faster as he pulls far enough away to look at her face. He loathes himself for thinking there isn't another way. For knowing that what he's about to do is as much because he wants it as it is helping her.
His presses his lips to hers. Pulling her snugly to his chest, he continues their dance. When the song ends, he notices her eyes are glassy with unshed tears. "Let's go outside," he suggests, his hand brushing from her cheek down to her shoulder in an intimate gesture.
The balcony is chilly. Brennan crosses her arms and she rubs them trying to warm up as she leans against the railing overlooking the bright lights of the city.
He studies her for a moment, chastising himself for crossing the line on the dance floor. He slips off his jacket and wraps it around her shoulders. "Bones, I..." She spins to face him and he watches the tears slide over her cheeks. He reaches out to wipe them away with his thumbs. "Don't cry. Please?" he asks her. "I'm sorry, I..."
She shakes her head. "I'm just tired," she says softly. "Take me home?"
He wraps his arm around her and she leans her head against his shoulder. The gesture is one he's attached to the pain of what happened outside the Hoover building. A pain that is renewed and rips through his chest all over again. But he can't be upset with her and he isn't. You can't choose who you fall in love with. It just happens. And he knows he'll love her until he draws his last breath. It's something he'll have to live with, to cope with, for the rest of his life.
She's quiet in the SUV. She's quiet when he opens the door for her and helps her step down onto the pavement. No words pass between them as they take the elevator up to her floor. Nothing is said as they pass through her door.
He opens his mouth to say something - to break the silence and attempt to make things between them less awkward - when she walks into her bedroom. He freezes by the sofa. He draws a deep breath. And then another. He can't lose her again. Not when they've made gains to getting their relationship back. He doesn't know how not to be around her, even when it hurts for her not to be his in every way. What to do, what to do, what to...
She calls out to him softly, shattering his thoughts and concentration. He's unsure of how to respond. He heads down the hall, stopping to lean against the doorframe. He can't go further. There aren't enough saints to bail him out this time.
With a faint smile, she turns her back to him. "Will you...?" she asks as she holds the bodice of the dress against her chest and gesturing to her zipper.
He gulps. Not a good idea, Seeley. "Uh, sure, Bones," he answers, stepping into her room. His hands suddenly feel like oven mitts as he reaches for the tiny pull. He holds his breath at the sound of the tiny metal teeth separating from each other.
He's still as she walks into her closet and steps out of the dress. He knows that he shouldn't look, but he can't help himself as the pale lace of her lingerie is revealed to his sight. She slips out of her bra and he sees her bare back, the side swell of her breasts as she... "Hey, Bones, I'm gonna..."
She comes out in a satin sheath that falls just above her knees and clings to the curves of her body. She takes his hand, her fingers wrapping between and around his. She looks into his eyes. "Stay with me," she says. It's neither a question nor a command. Rather it's a statement of desire.
He looks at their joined hands and back to her face. "Bones..."
She takes a step toward him. "Give in, Booth," she tells him as she draws even nearer. "Everything happens eventually," she murmurs. "What if this is it?" she asks in a whisper. Her lips are almost on his. They're a breath away. "What if this is our moment?"
He leans the last millimeter necessary to close the gap. To slant his lips firmly over hers. To take one more gamble on her. And he's rewarded by the way she responds. By the way her lips tease against his.
Her heart full to bursting with unfamiliar feelings, she shyly touches his face. Dropping her hands, she pushes the suit coat from his broad shoulders and lets it drop to the floor. Pulling away from his mouth, she plucks at his bow tie and slowly pulls it undone, dragging the strip of material from around his neck. She discards it on the floor.
When she reaches for his buttons, he stops her. "Nothing has to happen tonight, Bones," he says, wrapping his hands around hers. He tries to gage her reaction, the only light in the room coming from the closet and the hallway.
"But something already has, Booth," she answers. She tugs her hands free and begins slipping the studs from their confines.
In response, he chooses to tilt her lips back up to his. His hands tangle in her perfect up-do. She whimpers against his mouth at the sensation of nimble fingers removing the pins.
The shirt hits the floor. It joins the jacket, tie and hairpins. Her hands gingerly caress his chest the way she's wanted to touch him the few occasions she's set eyes on his bare skin. She takes his hand in hers and leads him over to the bed.
Pulling back the covers, she slips between the Egyptian cotton sheets. She watches as he strips down to his boxers and puts a knee on the bed. She welcomes him. Perhaps, more appropriately, he welcomes her. Because for the first time in a long time - perhaps since before she ended up in foster care - she truly feels home.