A/N: I'm not going to name names or point fingers, but I'll tell you that the idea for this came out of something thing I read recently that made me shake my head. I found myself wondering if the author really knew the characters at all...
My dear friend Laura was kind enough to bounce the idea ball with me this morning. If you don't like it, she says you can blame her...but if you do, I say go review something she's written to thank her for her genius assistance.
And Stephanie...geez, where would I be without Steph these days? Thanks not only for being my editor/co-pilot for this one, but for also helping me through a rough couple of weeks. You're amazing and I'm lucky to have found you.
I'm dedicating this one to lalaurala-bones, jenlovesbones, jsq79, ProfeJMarie, gocubsgo17, ceeray3 and stephaniew - my fellow authors and Twitter Valentines. Thanks for putting up with me and being a part of my life.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones...
Friendship in the Fries
Temperance Brennan stares blankly at her computer screen. She's hardly seen Booth all week and when she has he's been incredibly tense. Not that she blames him. He thought he had something special with Hannah. Something lasting.
The part of her that loves him, the part of her that was ready to take a chance when she got back from Maluku, longs to comfort him. To somehow turn back the clock and heal the part of him that's broken by not rejecting him. She wonders how different things could have been.
The scientist in her, the part that is cold and rational, tries to convince her that rejecting him was still the right move. That Booth moving on to Hannah - even though it ended - meant that he was wrong about love and relationships.
Her eyes fall to a picture of her dad and Russ that she keeps on the corner of her desk. As she stares at their smiling faces, she thinks of how she wouldn't have let them back into her life if not for her partner. She hears Booth's voice echoing in her ears. Take the brain and put it in neutral. Take the heart and pop it in overdrive.
She hits save on the report she's not really working on and grabs her purse, sprinting for the door. She knows what to do. She knows that it's her turn to offer comfort, the way he's done for her so many times. And, whether he likes it or not, she's not going to listen to the word 'no'.
Seeley Booth paces his office like a caged animal. He grinds his teeth. He should be over this. It's not the first time he's proposed and been turned down. He doesn't know why he listened to Sweets. Why he let the boy wonder psychologist talk him into asking Hannah to marry him. Finding the jewelry store receipt had nearly pushed him over the edge. But then he remembered the return policy...only to have his smile quickly fade.
Oh. God. The fucking ring. Chucking the ring had been a dumb ass move. He can't believe he was stupid enough to flush money down the drain in a fit of pique. The better part of a month's salary. Nearly two months worth of rent. Almost a semester's worth of college tuition for Parker. Gone. Wasted.
He angrily sweeps a stack of files off the corner of his desk and watches paper flutter to the floor. Too late, he realizes what he's done. The mess he's created. The files becoming a metaphor for his life.
He lets out a frustrated sigh. He'd done a bang-up job of moving on. Of moving too quickly toward a prize he so desperately wanted. Maybe it wasn't meant to be. Maybe, because of all the things he had done in his life, he didn't deserve to be happy. He catches sight of a picture of him and Hannah on the corner of his desk. Picking it up, he heaves it into the wall. The shattering of the glass is satisfying.
The clearing of a throat brings him crashing back to reality. "Mmm," Caroline Julian clucks at him. "Blondie sure messed you up, didn't she?"
Booth scowls at her. "What do you want, Caroline?" he barks.
"You can can the attitude, cherie," she replies dryly, her hands coming to rest on her ample hips. "I'm here for the Kipling file. The one that was supposed to be on my desk two hours ago."
Her expression is sour. He can see she isn't happy. "It's here somewhere," he says.
She frowns. "Good luck finding it in this mess," she huffs. "And by that I mean that it better be on my desk first thing in the morning. I don't care how broken hearted you are."
Booth watches her stalk from the office and rubs the back of his neck. Loosening his tie, he stares at the floor. Not going to clean itself up, Booth, he thinks as he rolls up his sleeves. No use putting it off.
Caroline nearly crashes into Brennan as the anthropologist exits the elevator. "Well, thank the Lord for small miracles," she mutters.
"I don't know what that means," Brennan replies, shifting the brown paper sack in her grip from one hand to the other.
"It means that partner of yours could use some straightening out, cherie," the older woman says matter-of-factly. She shakes her head and clucks, "You need to just put that man out of his misery."
Brennan's brow furrows. "Are you implying I should kill Booth?" she questions.
Caroline throws up her hands and gets on the elevator. Some people were just too damn literal.
Still confused, Brennan turns toward Booth's office. She sees him on his knees beside the desk. She looks at the door. Should she knock? Announce herself? Just walk in?
"What are you doing here?" he growls at her. Great. Just what he needed. "Look, Bones, Caroline needs the Kipling file and I..."
"Let me help you," she says softly. She sets her purse and the bag down and begins shifting through the papers. She doesn't ask what happened. She doesn't chastise him for being careless. She just sorts and reorganizes things back into their proper places.
Her calm only serves to further irritate Booth. "What the hell are you doing here anyway?" he snaps. "It's not like we have a case."
His words sting, but she doesn't let them dissuade her. "I just..." she begins, drawing a shaky breath. "I thought I'd bring you something to eat. I know you skipped lunch..."
He notices the bag next to her and feels like an ass. He remembers now that she called him at 11:30 to ask if he wanted to have lunch with her. He remembers how rudely he'd blown her off.
"You used to bring me dinner at the lab when I got too busy," she continues. "I thought I'd return the favor."
He looks at her, really seeing her for the first time in a long time. "You shouldn't have done that, Bones," he says with a sigh. "It wasn't necessary..."
Her blue eyes begin to puddle. She opens her mouth to say something and then stops. For a brief moment, she considers getting up. Walking away. Coming back some other time when she might actually make some headway. She shakes it off. "This is what partners do," she says with a sad smile.
The cock of her head melts him. How many times had he told her the same thing? "Bones," he begins.
"Please, Booth?" she asks, taking off her coat and pushing it over the arm of one of the chairs in front of his desk. Reaching out, she covers his hand with hers. Curling her fingers into his palm, she waits. "Let me take care of you the way you've taken care of me."
He thinks back. Thinks about all the times he used 'guy hugs' as an excuse to touch her. To hold her in his arms. He thinks about 'what ifs' and 'maybes' and all the things he should be thinking about a different woman. All the things he thought he had put behind him when he moved on.
She lets go of him to pull a cardboard box out of the bag. He watches her open it and shift closer. Nudging him with her shoulder, she reveals the fries. The salty aroma hits his nose and his stomach growls loudly. He watches her put catsup in the corner for him. Smiling, she dips a pair of the fried potatoes into the condiment and holds them out to his mouth. He savors them and watches as she licks the salt from her fingers as she pops a fry into her own mouth.
Minutes later, the box is empty. He finds himself feeling empty. Wondering how long she'll stay. How long it will be before he's alone again. She surprises him by handing him another container and a fork.
He chuckles when he sees the triangle of apple pie. Hannah had always gotten him cherry. How could he have thought that another woman would ever know him the way Bones did?
She watches him eat the sweet treat. See the way his eyes roll at the flavor. Hears him let out a small moan. He holds a forkful out to her. He expects her to shake her head at him. To remind him that she hates cooked fruit. When her lips close around the plastic, he's mesmerized. He sees something he never thought he'd witness.
The filling is sweet, but tart. Like their partnership, it's a balance. The apples are soft baked but still slightly crisp. Like their friendship, they're give and take. The cinnamon and nutmeg fight for dominance. Exactly the way they bicker. Pie isn't just some seduction technique. It's a metaphor for their relationship.
She knows she's done the right thing when she sees him smile. That this is a step forward. And with each step they take forward there is hope. By regaining their friendship, renewing their trust, the come closer to the point where maybe - just maybe - they'll discover they're two pieces of the same whole.