Author's (very long – sorry!) Note: Things to know about this story:
1 – It somewhat follows the events of "Laws of Science" (please read and review! : LINK ), but if you don't read that story, you'll still be able to read this without confusion. While I will reference the first story from time to time, I intend for this story to be able to stand on its own. Also, the last one was very drama heavy with a lot of stuff going on in the lab, etc. This one is slightly fluffier and focuses more on the characters than the actual case they're working, if that makes sense.
2 – A lot has changed in the Bones TV world since I wrote the last story. So in this story, some time has passed since "Laws of Science," and in that time everything that's happened on the show has happened in the story world – everyone took a year off to do their own thing, Angela/Hodgins are married and pregnant, Daisy/Sweets have a thing going on, Clark is suddenly sharing his thoughts out loud. ONLY DIFFERENCE: Hannah doesn't exist. So both Bones and Booth are single. The reason for this is simple: I think the next few episodes are REALLY going to change things around with Booth/Hannah and I have no idea where the writers are going to take their relationship, so I thought it best just to stay away. I wouldn't want to start writing assuming one thing and then halfway through my story their TV relationship is totally different.
One last thing: PLEASE REVIEW! I LOVE THE FEEDBACK AND IT ENCOURAGES ME TO WRITE FASTER!
Maybe he was just tired. He had stayed up watching that Die Hard marathon last night. Booth yawned and rubbed a hand over his eyes, trying unsuccessfully to wake up. Even though it was a Friday and he had plenty of work to do, Booth's workday was dragging by at a glacial pace. He yawned again, glancing at his empty coffee mug. He had already drunk two full cups of coffee, which was usually enough to wake him out of any post-movie marathon coma.
Booth looked at the clock. 11:45 a.m. He yawned again, then forced himself to stand up and walk to the vending machines down the hall. Maybe he was just hungry. He pulled out his wallet as he eyed the selection of candy bars before finally selecting Snickers and inserting his bill. Maybe the chocolate would give him that final nudge to wake up, and the day would go by faster.
Making his way slowly back to his office, he stuck his head in to speak to several of his coworkers, each of whom were up to their elbows in paperwork, intently focused on the tasks at hand. Booth shot a couple hoops in the Nerf basket hanging off the back of his door before finally sitting down again, crumpling the Snickers wrapper in the trash can, and looking at his own stack of work. Maybe it was just that he had so much paperwork to do, he was overwhelmed. He didn't know where to start.
The agent groaned in frustration, leaning back in his seat and rolling his head from side to side, trying to release the tension in his shoulders. He checked the time again 11:49 a.m. "Aw, c'mon…" He muttered under his breath, willing the time to move faster. Whatever the reason he was out of sorts today, it was supremely frustrating.
"Fine. You win," Booth said to himself. He could admit it. He wasn't exceptionally tired, or particularly hungry, or even overwhelmed with work… He just missed Bones.
He was surfing the internet for news of Brennan, who was currently in the second week of her three-week book tour to promote her most recent book, when Sweets knocked on his door, sticking his head in to address the agent.
"Hey, Agent Booth. Do you have a minute?" Sweets asked, walking in and sitting in one of the seats in front of Booth's desk without waiting for a response.
Booth ignored him for a moment, finishing the story he was reading regarding Brennan's most recent stop in Manhattan, where she had been asked to be the guest speaker at a class for Columbia before continuing her book tour, before addressing the psychologist.
"Whaddya want, Sweets?" Booth asked, careful to sound as annoyed as usual, but secretly grateful for someone to talk to to pass the time.
"Agent Booth, how are you this morning?" Sweets asked cheerfully, in a tone that instantly set off warning bells in Booth's head. This was Sweets' 'digging for answers' voice. He and Bones already treaded very carefully when Sweets started using that tone in their sessions.
"Just dandy, Sweets, why?" The agent responded, unwilling to show any emotion.
The psychologist nodded as though he expected that response, "No reason. I just wanted to check on you. Angela had mentioned something to me the other night at Founding Fathers that she hadn't seen you in a while, so I was just making sure everything is alright."
Booth rolled his eyes. "Really, Sweets? Of course Angela's going to say she's worried, Angela worries about everything. A couple weeks ago she had Hodgins take the FedEx delivery guy out for lunch because she was worried he had been a few minutes later than usual on his delivery rounds and looked like he was tired. She just worries. About evyerhting."
Sweets nodded again, but continued his interrogation, "But if you're fine, then why haven't you been down to the lab in nearly a month?"
Booth stared at the psychologist, confused. "Uh, really, Sweets? Bones isn't here right now, remember? She's out of town for the month. On tour, across the country. What's the point of going to the lab if I have no reason to go to the lab?"
"So you don't deny that the only reason you go to the lab is to visit with Dr. Brennan?" Sweets prodded, face serious.
"Wha – you …. You know what, Sweets? I am just not in the mood for this right now. Don't try to twist a completely normal thing into some weird evidence of my secret love for Bones or something, ok? Bones is my partner. When we are working a case together, I go visit her in the lab. She is not here right now, therefore we are not working a case together. Therefore," Booth collected some of the files on his desk and stacked them together with each point he made, "I don't need to go to the lab. Next question?"
Sweets smiled in the way Booth found particularly annoying – he acted like he had just gotten Booth to admit something huge when really he hadn't said anything.
"Ok, fine, I believe you, Agent Booth," Sweets said. "I was just trying to politely inform you that the rest of Dr. Brennan's team is a little hurt you only visit when she's around. They consider you their friend too, you know."
Booth turned his gaze to the screen, pretending to read an e-mail as he considered Sweets' last statement. As much as he hated to admit it, it was true. He should have at least gone out for drinks with Bones' team once or twice in the last two weeks. It's what Bones would want him to do, and as much as he really, really hated to admit it, he had grown rather fond of his little ragtag squint squad.
"Point made, Sweets." Booth said, clearing his throat and glancing purposefully at the door. "Now, if you don't mind, I have some work to do."
"Yes, well…" Sweets said, not rising to leave, making Booth turn his attention back from the screen to the young man. "That's not actually the reason I came down here. I have been receiving some complaints from your fellow agents that you've been particularly…" Sweets paused, considering his next word as he felt Booth's gaze boring into his. "Aggravating… in Dr. Brennan's absence."
Booth raised his eyebrows. "Aggravating?" He challenged.
"Well, yes. Aggravating, challenging… The one I've heard most is needy or annoying." The psychiatrist confirmed, quickly rushing through the list as Booth looked on. "Stopping by to chat, interrupting their work, taking long lunches, just in general being… Kind of needy."
Booth, fully awake now, leaned back in his chair and crossed his arms across his chest, leveling his gaze at Sweets. "Sweets, I am not amused."
"Well, you're not supposed to be, I just wanted to point it out to you," Sweets said, rising to leave. "There's nothing I'm going to say or do to change your behavior, I just wanted to make you aware that during Dr. Brennan's absences, it is painfully aware to everyone around you that your attitude shifts greatly. It's just something worth considering in case the bureau ever wants to disband your partnership."
"Why would they-" Booth started, standing in surprise.
"No, no, Agent Booth, I'm not saying they would, I'm just saying if they ever did… This kind of emotional detachment when your partner isn't around is… unusual," Sweets said, raising an eyebrow at Booth. "Of course, maybe if you and Dr. Brennan were actually willing to discuss the emotional connection you share…"
"That's it, out!" Booth said loudly, pointing at the door. "I've had enough psychobabble for one day. Go!" He ordered, falling back into his chair as the psychiatrist quickly left the room, closing the door after him.
Booth reached over and turned up the speakers on his computer to blare his favorite radio station as he confronted the pile of paperwork sitting before him. "Aggravating?" He muttered, grabbing the first file and opening the cover as a rock song with a heavy bass beat came on, "I'll show you aggravating…"
After what seemed like lifetimes, Booth finally reached a stopping point in his work and allowed himself to look at the clock once more. 12:54 p.m. "You have got to be kidding me!" He exclaimed, throwing his pen halfway across the room in frustration.
Ignoring the inquiring eyes of his colleagues staring through the windows of his office, Booth grabbed his jacket and stalked out of the room, leaving his music blaring and door open. He headed to the lab, swinging by his favorite deli on the way over to pick up a sandwich. He figured he could kill two birds with one stone – go visit the squints and take an intentionally extra long lunch.
After making the rounds with Cam and the squint du jour on the platform, he poked his head in to say hello to Angela and Hodgins, who were in the midst of discussing baby names. After listening to the couple argue between Hodgins' suggestion of Jack or Catherine and Angela's suggestion of Star and River, Booth finally made his way into Bones' office, snuggled into a comfortable position on the couch, unwrapped his sandwich, and pulled out his copy of Brennan's latest book from inside the coffee table drawer.
He was surprised how at home he felt in Bones' office, even when she wasn't there. He looked around the room, realizing that he probably felt comfortable there because he had made his own dent in its organization and decoration. There were pictures of the two of them she had hung, artwork and postcards he had gotten her on display. After his remark that he was uncomfortable in her office since it was constantly filled with skulls, he had noticed that she had gradually, quietly, moved all the bones into easily-accessible storage containers directly behind her desk and on the far wall. The shelves now stored much more pleasant-looking artifacts and books.
There was an extra blanket hanging over the side of the couch, specifically placed there for him since he was too tall to fit under just the one she originally had. Booth had a couple graphic novels stashed in one of the drawers of her desk, as well as some cash in the drawer of the coffee table for tipping delivery guys – a duty he always insisted on doing, despite Bones' many, almost routine protests. He also had stashed one of his guns under the seat cushion, which only he and Bones knew about, and insisted she keep pepper spray in her desk drawer. After the kidnapping, Booth had gone a little hyper-protective, never letting Bones out of his sight for any extending periods of time. This book tour was the longest they'd been apart since the incident. Which, for his own selfish reasons, he had really enjoyed. Bones had seemed to grasp the enormity of what he had gone through during her absence – he suspected Angela had helped clue her in – and had noticeably lessened her protests when he went alpha male on her.
He chuckled to himself, realizing that if he were able to discern how much of an impact he had made on Bones' office, how much Sweets must have a field day every time he walked in. Relaxing, he turned to focus on the book. He flipped about halfway through, picking up where he had left off. He had been careful not to read too much press about Bones' new book because he knew a big surprise was waiting at the end and he didn't want to spoil it… And judging from the glances of those in the lab and the bureau anytime the book was mentioned, he suspected the surprise involved Rook, his fictitious counterpart, in a major way.
As it stood right now, he wasn't a fan of Bones' latest creation, although he'd never tell her that. In the story, Bones' main character was kidnapped while her FBI partner was sent vague clues detailing her fate. He thought he would be able to handle it, but at times when he read it he felt like he was reliving her disappearance all over again.
After some time, Booth was deeply engrossed in the book, only the crumbs of his sandwich left on the table. Rook was about to unearth the remains of his partner's mother when his phone rang – BONES flashed on the screen.
Grinning broadly, Booth lay the book on the table and flipped his phone open. "Bones! Hey! How's the tour? How are you?"
"The tour has gone… Well so far, I suppose," Brennan's hesitant voice responded.
"Wait, why the hesitation? What's wrong? Are you ok?" Booth asked quickly, sitting up and wiping a hand over his mouth, clearing it of crumbs.
"Yeah, I'm fine. It's just… Well, I think something's going to happen. Something bad."