Disclaimer: Don't own Bones.
A/n: Hey, hey, so ... this is going to be one long hiatus, huh? I've recently found this out and so I've decided to start this story about one of the things I miss the most in the show. It's going to be mostly T, but I'm going to rate it M, just in case I want to smut it up. If you likey, I'll post here periodically until the new season starts :)
Zone of Truth
"Agent Booth, Dr. Brennan," he said solemnly, his best professional tone in place. "Welcome back."
The greeting raised all of Booth's hackles. "I cannot even believe we're back here," he hissed to his partner. "It's like he has a pact with the devil or something."
"That's impossible," Brennan replied, even as her nose wrinkled as if she smelled something mildly offensive. "Though I agree, this seems quite unnecessary."
"Are you kidding me?" Despite the pep talk he'd given himself prior to this appointment, Sweets was quick to react. He had been determined to maintain his cool, but it was impossible when they were already talking to themselves as if he wasn't even in the room. "Did you really think the FBI wouldn't have something to say about two co-workers being romantically involved?"
Brennan sniffed. "I don't work for the FBI. I work for the Jeffersonian."
"Which contracts to the FBI," Sweets explained with a roll of his eyes; he knew she was being difficult on purpose. "C'mon, I know you guys know how this works. No way the FBI isn't going to demand some kind of reassurance regarding the viability of your professional partnership."
"Let me guess," Booth said sarcastically. "You have to provide that reassurance."
"I am to assess your partnership and make a recommendation on whether you should still work together in light of your new, personal relationship," he agreed and then his lips very nearly pursed in a pout. "A relationship I found out about when my boss came into my office yesterday and handed me a file. Not cool, guys."
Booth's chin tilted up in defiance. "It's no one's business but ours."
"If you were just two regular people, sure," Sweets sighed, already sensing the uphill battle. "But I'm afraid that your respective positions with the FBI make it their business as well."
"Booth and I are perfectly capable of doing our jobs," Brennan said haughtily. "And you should know that perfectly well."
"See, that's the thing," Sweets was quick to point out. "I don't know because in order for me to know I would have to assess how your personal relationship will impact—"
"Oh, that's a load of bullshit," Booth huffed, annoyance settling like a persistent itch between his shoulder blades. As much as he liked Sweets, he didn't want anyone to be poking their fingers into his brand new relationship with his partner. "When have we ever been unable to do our jobs? When, Sweets, when?"
Booth was not a happy camper and Brennan automatically placed a soothing hand on his arm. "It's not his fault, Booth. The FBI is requiring this, not Sweets."
"Yeah, but I bet he's all chipper about it," he grumbled, sending Sweets an accusatory look. "Tell me I'm wrong."
"I am not happy," he sniffed virtuously. "I merely believe that it is not so simple to just begin a personal relationship as you two believe and that conflict will be inevitable. I just want to be able to help you through that." He motioned to the sofa, indicating they should sit. "This will go a lot smoother if you decide to help me rather than fight me."
They both sat down, but Booth was still unwilling to play nice. "Why would we help you destroy our partnership?"
"That … that's harsh." Sweets gave a hurt look that was not at all feigned. "I've never tried to destroy your partnership, Agent Booth. I've always known how important is it to both of you and I've always only wanted to help. Always. I'm … I'm sorry if you ever thought otherwise."
"Is he going to cry?" Brennan whispered loudly to her partner and Booth felt instantly guilty.
Hell, the kid did look like he was about to cry. And Booth knew he wasn't being exactly fair. It had been the FBI who demanded that the status of their partnership be evaluated. Booth almost wished he hadn't said anything. Except, one, he refused to hide and two, in a few months it was going to be pretty obvious that they'd changed the status of their partnership to completely personal.
It could have been a lot worse than a few sessions with Sweets, Booth tried to console himself. Their partnership could have been severed on the spot. But it just rubbed him the wrong way that this new, incredible thing between them was going to be scrutinized under a psychological microscope. But if someone was going to do it, Booth guessed that someone who knew them and cared about them was probably the way to go.
He sighed. "That was uncalled for." Booth leaned back and tried to tone down his attitude. "I've never thought otherwise, Sweets. I just … I just don't like this."
"We like you, Dr. Sweets," Brennan piped in, feeling that Booth's words were not sufficient to ameliorate whatever emotional scar had just been inflicted upon their young therapist. She had never really understood the whole concept of we are men, no words needed. To her mind, it was always best to be as clear as possible. "We just don't like therapy."
Sweets smiled a little, touched by her earnestness. "I understand."
Booth's eyes locked on the man across from him and he said softly, "Do you?"
Sweets gave a solemn nod. He did understand. No one knew better than him just how protective these two had always been of their partnership. Sweets could only fathom that they would be exponentially more protective of their personal relationship. He'd always known that they would crush him like a bug if he ever tried to get between them. And that's when they were just partners. It didn't bear thinking about what they would do to him now.
"I promise you, I'm only here to help you."
Despite her willingness to soothe hurt feelings, Brennan still felt compelled to point out, "We don't need any help."
"I know for a fact that when it comes to preserving your partnership, you two have managed to compartmentalize a lot." Talk about an understatement. "But the truth is that compartmentalizing each other will be very different."
"That's right, Agent Booth." Sweets tried to be as delicate as possible in his explanation. "For example, you arrested Dr. Brennan's father, but you were both able to compartmentalize and continue working together without adverse consequences."
"What's your point, Sweets?"
"Now, in order to continue working together effectively, you'll have to compartmentalize something immensely more complex." There were blank stares directed his way and he sighed in despair. "Your feelings, guys! Your feelings for each other."
Booth barked out a laugh. "And you think that'll be a problem? For who exactly, Sweets?"
"For both of you, Agent Booth."
"Where have you been the last four years?" Booth could hardly believe what he was hearing. There were days when he felt like the last six years of his life had been one big exercise in compartmentalization.
"I'm very compartmentalized," Brennan reminded serenely.
"Ah, yes, you both compartmentalized your personal feelings for a very long time." He gave a smug smile. "But that's not happening anymore, is it? I mean, the reason we're here is precisely because you both stopped compartmentalizing. Just partners doesn't apply anymore, everything's a lot more personal now, correct?"
Brennan made two pairs of eyes widen in surprise when she murmured, "It's always been personal between us."
Sweets recovered first. "Maybe so, but now it's out there. Don't you see the difference?" He almost bounced in his chair, as if by virtue of his energy he could make them see. "When you're in the field, for example, your concern for each other colors your actions. And now, that concern won't be only for your partner, but for your significant other as well."
"Believe me, Sweets," Booth said starkly, "I never forget who's in the field with me and what she means to me."
"And so I should assume that you will still be taking Dr. Brennan into the field with you?"
"Bones is my partner, Sweets," he said with finality, but Brennan caught the barely perceptible hesitation in the sideways glance he threw at her. He was thinking about the baby and she knew that despite his words, there would be some major changes to their partnership they had yet to discuss.
Sweets caught the veiled glances and deduced there was a silent conversation going on right in front of his face. Only problem was, he had no idea what was being said. It was teeth-grindingly frustrating when they did that.
"Guys, this is a zone of truth," he felt compelled to remind them. "Truth is always imperative for effective communication. And no session can be productive without effective communication." Feeling he had fully conveyed the gravity of his message, Sweets gave them expectant looks. "Is there something you wish to tell me?"
It wouldn't be a secret forever, but for a little while more, at least, it was their secret to keep. With identical shrugs and equally bland expressions, Booth and Brennan answered together.