A/N: Written for a fandomaid auction on livejournal for the lovely (and very patient) literary_critic. ONE SHOT.
With thanks to cathmarchr and fauxmaven for essential cheerleading and beta duties!
Disclaimer: The only thing I own is my soul, and I even lend that out on occasion, but only if you ask nice. Anything that even looks familiar in this story probably belongs to someone else (except the actual story - that's all mine, Mine, MINE [*maniacal laughter*]!)
The Best in the Friend
"Barkeep, two more, if you will." The hand she held up was unsteady, but there was something imperious about the tone that got the barman's attention. He cut off the line of patter he was trying out on an underage redhead and hurried over to fill the gorgeous brunette's order. The fact that her drinking partner was an equally stunning blonde didn't slow him down either.
It seemed Hannah had consumed more than enough alcohol to make everything Brennan said seem hilarious, and she wound an arm around her shoulder, giggling uncontrollably when it slipped and settled on Brennan's ass. "Tem'rance - we coulda been besties, you and me." Hannah tossed back the shot as soon as it was poured, slamming the glass back on the bar. "Damn straight."
Brennan frowned. Whether the frown was at trying to work out what the term 'besties' meant, or in concentration as she tried to negotiate the tequila to her lips, she herself wouldn't have been able to accurately determine. She gulped down her drink with singular dedication and placed the glass carefully back on the bar's polished surface. The smile she gave Hannah was sweet but unfocussed; she had finally reached a state of inebriation that satisfied her … carefree oblivion.
Hannah continued her theme, leaning forward to peer at her subject intently. "Look at how much alike we are – we're both strong, successful women." She held up one hand and started ticking things off on her fingers.
"I'm the best in my field." Brennan replied, eager to acknowledge their commonalities.
"Ab-so-lutely! Three: we're both driven by facts."
"Science is indeed driven by facts. The media, on the other hand, I find frequently lacking in its dedication to factual veracity."
Hannah sighed, a little exasperated. "But you'll agree my need to find the truth is as strong as yours?"
"You're certainly highly respected in your field, and I know Booth values your honesty."
"Then let's say we're both motivated by the truth?"
"I'll drink to that." Brennan hiccupped, comically on cue.
Hannah grinned and nodded at the bartender and he refilled their glasses wordlessly, enjoying the show.
Hannah shuddered as the neat alcohol burned her throat and picked up where she had left off, twisting her fingers together. "We're both adventurous. We like to be where the action is."
A delighted smile spread across Brennan's face. "I suppose I am. I never really thought of myself as 'adventurous' before. Just dedicated."
Hannah was nodding with enthusiasm. "See? Also, we're both intelligent."
Brennan snorted. "Empirically I believe I'm far more intelligent than you." Then she caught the other woman's eye and realized her words had given offence. "But, well, I find I am able to concede that there are different types of intelligence," she amended pedantically, if a little indistinctly, "- and yours is of a kind that is useful to your chosen career." Hannah seemed to take that backhander with good humor; she'd apparently learned enough about Temperance Brennan to recognize the compliment as it was intended.
"And let's face it, honey," Hannah added through the side of her mouth, "neither of us is exactly what you would call unattractive either."
"You are a very beautiful woman, Hannah." Brennan could see that Hannah was pleased by her observation, and continued, "As am I." This last brought a bark of real laughter from Hannah which deepened at Brennan's obvious confusion at her reaction.
"Oh Temperance, you are truly one of a kind."
Brennan started to giggle, low and deep and completely infectious and they both dissolved into laughter again.
Angela stood at the door of the bar and searched the motley group of die-hard drinkers still standing at such a late hour. Actually, 'standing' was a bit of an exaggeration; most of the people left in the room were slumped at one or other of the tables that circled the miniscule dance floor. Except for Temperance Brennan and Hannah Burley. They were propping up the bar and apparently having a whale of a time if their laughter was anything to go by. Angela sighed. Brennan's drunken call had woken her from a deep sleep, and she and a very grumpy Jack had headed to Arlington within minutes after hanging up.
On the phone, Brennan had been abrupt and to the point. "Booth and Hannah broke up, Ange. I don't know what to do."
A gazillion possibilities tumbled through Angela's brain but she kept them to herself. "Just be there for him, sweetie."
"Ange – he … he doesn't want me – he doesn't want anybody." The distress in her friend's voice had nearly broken Angela's heart, but her next statement downright shocked her. "I'm with Hannah – she rang and asked me to meet her." There was a short pause. "I am very drunk."
"Wait – what? Where are you, Brennan?" More importantly, where was Booth? Last time Angela had spoken to Brennan she'd been on her way to find him. And what on earth were Brennan and Hannah doing together – commiserating? Not likely! Angela tried focus on what her friend was saying.
"I'm not sure … somewhere in Arlington I think." Her words had started to slur. "We've been to … oh, I dunno, a few places already. Wait, I'll ask … " She'd rattled off an address on the Columbia Pike.
Angela tried to get her head around the sequence of events and failed. "What's going on, Brennan?"
"Can't talk, Ange. Hannah and I have to go."
"Go where – what are you talking about? Dammit, Brennan, you stay right where you are. I'm coming to get you." Angela was already getting out of bed, one hand on Jack's shoulder shaking him awake. She turned to him impatiently, "Come on hon, we'd better hurry - this could get ugly."
Which was how Angela found herself in Arlington in the middle of the night standing in the doorway of a pseudo-Irish pub with the unlikely name of 'Darby O'Gill's'. She'd tried Booth's cell from the car on the way over, but hadn't been able to get a hold of him. What a mess. The icy night air bit the back of her knees as Jack came in through the door behind her after parking the car.
"Is she here?" Even though Jack's irritation at being dragged out of bed in the middle of the night was obvious, he too was concerned for their friend. They hurried over to the two women, not sure what to expect. Certainly not what they found; the two were nose to nose and totally preoccupied with the gargantuan mental task of trying to think of silly names for each other.
"… Tempe-wempy." Giggling.
"Hannah … ah … er …banana!"
"Bren-gun." More giggling.
"Um … Burley Griffin."
"Walter Burley Griffin. He was a world famous nineteenth-century architect. He patented a modular concrete construction system known as 'Knitlock'."
"Don't you ever switch that brain of yours off?" Hannah asked incredulously.
Neither of them noticed Angela and Jack approach. Angela eyed the twenty-something bartender and he withered a little under the force of her glare. "Haven't you ever heard of dram shop liability?"
He shrugged defensively, "They're over twenty-one." He kept polishing the same glass and sidled to the other end of the bar, out of range.
Angela smiled a greeting at Hannah and put a hand on Brennan's arm. "What are you doing here, sweetie?" She looked around her with mild distaste. "Of all places."
"Hannah's got to catch a red eye to Nassau from Reagan National. We're on our way there." Brennan seemed to think this explanation covered everything.
"Yeah, via every bar in between, apparently." Hodgins was still feeing testy and didn't bother trying to hide it. His snarky comment had more effect on the two drinkers than any number of cups of black coffee would have had. Hannah pulled a face and slid off the bar stool.
"I think that's my cue to go." She threw some bills on the bar and bent to pick up the overnight bag she'd stashed beneath the foot rail. The sudden movement made her woozy and she grabbed hold of the bar for support. She steadied herself with a deep breath, straightened her shoulders resolutely, and held out her hand to Brennan. "Well … goodbye Temperance Brennan."
"Goodbye, Hannah Burley." Brennan returned the pressure on her hand, wanting to say something more, but unable to find any words. Her alcohol-befuddled brain hovered somewhere between pleasure and regret at Hannah's departure, although she couldn't have explained either feeling to herself or anyone else.
Hannah leaned in towards her and whispered. "Y'know, we really could have been besties, if only we didn't love the same man."
Brennan's stomach flipped guiltily at the knowing look in the other woman's eye. Were her feelings for Booth obvious to everyone but herself?
"Take care of him, Temperance." Hannah flashed a smile at them all before slinging her overnight bag over her shoulder and weaving an unsteady path out into the night.
"Will she be okay?" Brennan asked with concern. They watched as two cabs pulled over instantly and the drivers jumped out and jokingly competed for the fare. With a laugh and a final wave in the direction of the bar, Hannah got into the first one and the driver sped off towards the airport.
"I think Hannah will be just fine." Angela turned to Brennan and put an arm around her. "C'mon sweetie, let's get you outta here."
Brennan nodded her agreement. If only she knew where to go to from here.