There really aren't ANY good excuses for this nine month hiatus. I could have grown a human in that time. (I didn't). I guess the excuses I have aren't great, just that Bones is so bad. It scores my heart that it went the way of Dexter. I haven't watched in two years, so sometimes writing this makes me extremely sad, like missing friendships that ended badly and trying to side step those failures to remember the good times. But recently at my extremely boring job I re-read The Letterbox and Heartfelt Paper Airplanes up to the point I left it, and it made me smile. It's some of my best work, and certainly my best fanfiction. I promised I would finish it, and I will. And not to beg for reviews, but I'm squeezing the last bit of juice from this orange, and I need ideas for where it will go. My general sketched plot is just that: sketchy at best. I'm sorry all, and I hope you enjoy the return.
"You haven't spoken in an hour," Angela said as she looked up from her phone, where the timer was still running.
Brennan glanced up from her third glass of wine, this one still full. She felt buzzed, but not in a happy way, in a mellow, confused, and upset way. She hated that someone was listening to her conversations, to her most difficult moments working things out. She never took off her mother's ring for fear of losing it, even in the shower, but now found herself slipping it off regularly. She still wondered how they had managed to fix it; probably in the cave in, when the techs had asked her to take a shower in the RV and she had pulled it off to rub the dirt out of it. It had still been by the sink when she exited the tiny bathroom. She should have known better.
She and Angela were in a bar that was quiet enough for a transmitter to pick up everything, so she wasn't feeling particularly chatty.
"Sorry, what?" she asked, blinking at Angela.
Angela frowned in exasperation. "I said you haven't spoken in an hour."
"Sweetie," sighed Angela. "What is going on with you? I thought…aren't you and Booth on better terms?" she smiled suggestively. Brennan had to wonder if that was her imagination, or if Angela simply didn't know how to smile any other way.
"We are," she answered shortly. She could just imagine the snide laughter on the other end of the microphone.
"Did it happen all at once?" prodded Angela when it became apparent that Brennan wasn't going to offer more information.
"Fixing it with Booth."
"What? Oh. No. It was gradual."
"You guys seem close now," Angela hinted hopefully.
"We are," said Brennan cautiously. She glanced down inadvertently at her ring and wished she hadn't said that. Angela took the hint and pulled out her phone.
On that, I think I have a possible ID. The text dinged on Brennan's phone on the counter and she snatched it up eagerly.
A hit came up from Idaho.
What's the percentage of likelihood?
That's not great.
It's almost 90.
There's still a margin for error.
Brennan sighed out loud, knowing how Angela meant it.
Angela glanced around the bar and took a pen out of her purse.
"You don't trust…" Brennan trailed off aloud, a bit amused. "Hodgins is getting to you."
Angela raised her eyebrows sardonically, and Brennan craned her neck around to see what she had scribbled on the napkin.
"Oh," Brennan said aloud, but she returned to texting.
Angela took a hasty gulp of her wine with a surreptitious glance around, and Brennan followed suit, her keystrokes sure even one handed.
What do we know?
Angela correctly interpreted the non-question, which had Brennan scowling.
Booth already knows. And so does Sweets.
Sweets is working it up now.
Possible accomplices? Brennan was getting frustrated.
Sweetie, came again, almost a second after she had typed it. Brennan ground her teeth, feeling how tense her jaw muscles were. Wasn't sex supposed to relax her body?
Okay. Do we know anything? Brennan typed, her face scowling. Angela laughed aloud.
Now I know how you must look reading my texts usually.
Brennan flushed a bit, but tapped her phone impatiently, grateful at least, that Angela hadn't said it aloud in case the killers felt the need to bug their cell phones. (Hodgins, surprise tech guru, had already dismantled all of them to check for listening and recording devices and found none).
"Let's talk about something else," Brennan said aloud, annoyed their case was so slow going and dragging on so long.
"Sure," Angela agreed easily, knowing to step around the sensitive subject of Booth.
"Ange," said Brennan, after thirty minutes of conversation about Michael, Angela's favorite subject. To Brennan his development seemed to be progressing in perfect tandem with infantile psychology and developmental periods. "I'm sorry. I'm just so tired, and I think I want to head home."
"Sure," Angela agreed sympathetically. Brennan hated that. She knew she must have a 'look' on her face that she couldn't interpret, but everyone else around her could. She wished Angela would just tell her what she saw there.
She drove home and was half relieved, half disappointed to find that Booth wasn't waiting for her. She had given him a key that morning, when they had gone to the kitchen for coffee, and he had almost spilled another cup.
"Bones," he had croaked when she had held it out. When it had become apparent his hands were frozen in a vise like grip around his styrofoam cup, she had impatiently dug through his front pockets, to his squeaked surprise, and attached the spare key onto his key ring herself before riffling for the key that opened his bureau locker so that she could grab the spare pair of pants he left there for late nights at the office.
That he had not invaded her privacy the same day both warmed her heart, and made her stomach drop. She desperately wanted Angela's advice about their relationship, but it was so new and fragile, Brennan also didn't want anyone interfering. What she really wanted, she supposed, was to be someone different. Someone who could understand these sorts of things.
Although she felt guilty for ditching Angela, Brennan took one look at her empty apartment and went back outside to her car. She was cautious, but confident, and drove to the diner with no interruptions, conveniently "forgetting" her ring in the dolphin bowl by the door, her speakers turned on low in lieu of a television.
She hadn't frequented the diner for a long time, a rare customer now. Prior to her new relationship, she had avoided the place because of Booth, and now she felt guilty ducking through the doors, as if this too, was a relationship she didn't understand.
"Dr. Brennan!" she looked up in gratitude for the waitress whose name she could never remember, but was surprised to see Sweets sitting at their usual table alone, a plate of French fries shoved invitingly in front of him.
"Dr. Sweets," she returned with as much composure as she could muster.
She sat down, and felt the last encounter the two had had in the diner settle between them. She looked awkwardly away, regretful still, of the letter she had sent. Sweets seemed to be thinking along the same lines, and in an endearing reversal of roles, pushed his plate of French fries towards her, where she took one to nibble on silently.
"Don't want to go home?" he asked conversationally. Brennan wiggled her fingers on her right hand for him to see the missing ring. It took him a moment, but he understood.
"I felt like coming here," she answered.
A waitress, one Brennan didn't know on sight, to her slight disappointment, arrived to take her order of an egg white omelet with extra spinach. Brennan turned back to Sweets, who was watching her with his round black eyes filled with something akin to…worry?
"What?" she asked guilelessly.
"So you've decided to stay vegetarian?"
Brennan flushed to the roots of her hair, glaring down at the table and wishing immediately she hadn't just ordered food so she would have been able to leave.
"Oh that. Yes. As I told you before, it was a foolish mistake."
Sweets didn't comment.
Brennan was perfectly comfortable to sit in silence; she felt no need to fill it with the chatter Angela or even Booth always came up with. Sweets, likewise, was content to steadily work his way through his French fries, alternately glancing at papers he had in front of him and peeking at Brennan when he thought she wasn't looking.
Reluctantly, Brennan, bored with her cell phone (an irritating habit picked up from Booth), glanced at the papers too, trying to form the words quickly enough upside down so as not to attract the attention from Sweets. But, like most social cues she missed, he looked up with a faint smile from his plate. Brennan felt forced to speak.
"Are those the notes from the DeMarco case?" It had become habit now, to refer to the body movers as the DeMarco case from endless hours of debating it with Booth.
"I'm trying to work up a profile," Sweets said instead, answering her underlying question. She hated when people did that, mostly because she herself never could understand subtext.
"Dr. Brennan," sighed Sweets. "We are all working as fast and as hard as we can."
"I didn't say anything to the effect of castigating you."
"You're jumpy. And when you're jumpy, the lab jumps."
"I don't know what that means."
Sweets rolled his eyes and simultaneously crammed a fry into his mouth and turned the paper sideways with two fingers so she could read it more easily.
"See this?" he pointed at the young EMT. "White, twenties, thin. That's hardly anything to go on."
"Angela got a positive ID on record."
"Yeah. A white kid from Idaho. That won't be a problem," Sweets said sarcastically.
Brennan opened her mouth to inform him about the no doubt numerous problems it would cause, given demographics trends published by the U.S. Census, but caught up to his scowl before she even started. She felt slightly proud of herself for deducing that much.
"Have you done a background check? Pulled records?"
"I know how to do my job, Dr. Brennan," Sweets said gently, but Brennan was surprised. Sweets was nothing if not deferential; this sort of backbone didn't line up with his previous personality she had recorded.
She mulled over that for an entire minute, during which her food came, giving her a few more moments to carve out the first bites.
"Is something wrong, Dr. Sweets?" she asked finally, and was rewarded by Sweets' shocked face.
"I heard you."
"Was that a surprising question?" she asked, savoring the spinach (chopped finely, just as she liked it), before taking another large bite. She had forgotten when she had last eaten, and two glasses of wine weren't tiding her over, despite her knowledge of how many carbohydrates were in the glasses.
"From you, yes," Sweets said honestly, scratching the back of his head between the place where his tie went around his collar and his hairline.
"Am I incorrect in my hypothesis?"
It was Brennan's turn to be surprised. "Why?" she asked.
"Am I upset?"
"Are you upset?" she asked in genuine shock. "Why?"
Sweets sighed hugely, grinning at their exchange, before sobering up once more. "The case is getting to everyone," he said evasively. "I know Hodgins is having trouble sleeping also, and Cam is so overworked she's sleeping on her feet practically. And Booth – well…he's still a total wreck about the whole thing. The cave in, and of course...you know."
Brennan processed this very slowly as she chewed in tempo to her thoughts. "You're having trouble sleeping?" she finally plucked out, and Sweets looked astonished she hadn't taken the rather obvious lure of Booth. She declined to tell Sweets she knew much more about Booth than he let on.
Sweets only gaped at her, and when it became obvious he was still working through his own thought process, Brennan set down her fork to take a gulp of water, and eat a couple of his crispy, rejected French fries.
"I…uh…yes. A little."
"Have you tried medication?" she asked blandly.
Sweets flushed. "Oh..er..it's not like that."
Brennan frowned. "What is it like? Has Ms. Wick not yet satisfied your sexual needs?"
Sweets winced, and his shoulders shrugged as if he wished they would go higher than his supraspinatus muscle would allow.
"Oh God, no. And in the future, could we please not talk about sexual…anything?"
Brennan looked slightly hurt, but filed that away under important notes about she and Booth's new relationship, wondering slightly with amusement, if Sweets would have made the same blanket statement if he knew what was already occurring.
"Very well," she said steadily. "Please continue."
Sweets winced and looked extremely uncomfortable. "It's…it's really nothing."
"Booth says when people say that, it's because they want others to pry further, but simultaneously want to save their metaphorical face."
Sweets squinted at her, shaking his head before understanding cleared. "Oh. Yes. To save face is an idiomatic expression about pride. I suppose that's correct. Does Booth give you a lot of these helpful hints?"
"Booth also says when someone changes the subject after a direct question, that's called deflection," she answered, with a small smile for both Sweets and the waitress who came to clear away their plates.
"Uh," Sweets said brilliantly.
"Ice cream, Dr. Sweets?" asked Brennan.
"Uh," said Sweets again.
"We'll take two brownie sundaes," Brennan told the waitress, who had returned almost immediately to fill their water glasses.
"Sure, no problem," the waitress said cheerily, and pulled out fresh spoons and napkins from her apron.
Sweets waited for her to leave before rounding his accusatory gaze on Brennan, his mouth parted at the injustice of having the tables turned so easily.
"I'm not deflecting," he said.
"Booth also says when someone repeats a lot of what your question was in the answer, that usually means he or she is lying."
Sweets frowned, stymied by his own science.
"Booth is very knowledgeable," he said at last.
"I know," said Brennan simply, creasing the napkin into her lap.
"Dr. Brennan," Sweets began awkwardly, and Brennan simply waited, her hands folded, her eyes wide and attentive.
"I…well…You see…" Sweets was suffering through his non starters, but he firmed his voice and resolution and went on. "A few weeks ago, I overheard you talking to Angela."
Brennan only shook her head in incomprehension slightly.
"I…er…you were talking about how it was sometimes difficult to sleep."
Brennan felt goosebumps erupt suddenly along her skin, and for the second time that evening wished she hadn't ordered food so that she would have been free to leave.
"I don't remember," she said stiffly.
Sweets looked at her with a compassionate twist to his small smile. "Yes, you do."
They both paused to look up with twin thank you's when their sundaes were set before them.
Brennan immediately dug in and forced a large bite into her mouth so she wouldn't have to speak.
"There are elements in my life," Sweets said very slowly and deliberately, as if Brennan was a bomb triggered to go off at the wrong word. "That are extremely…" he searched for the word with a bite of ice cream dripping off his spoon," …unpleasant," he finished, somewhat flatly.
"Currently?" asked Brennan in surprise.
Sweets shrugged as he finally wrapped his mouth around his first bite and groaned in satisfaction.
"I am not aware of anything that should be troubling you," Brennan said with a faint frown.
Sweets almost smiled. "I don't tell you everything Dr. Brennan."
"You make us tell you everything," she protested.
"It's different. That's for work. I'm your psychologist."
Brennan sniffed angrily. "If you would like a separate working relationship, please just say so."
Sweets wilted again. "That's not what I'm saying at all," he sighed. "It's just that our relationship is compounded upon the fact that I cannot unlearn what I learn about you in therapy."
"It's not therapy," Brennan responded automatically, parroting what Booth had said countless times.
"Our sessions," Sweets amended exasperatedly.
"I understand," Brennan said in what she thought was her most reasonable tone. By Sweets' reaction, it most obviously was not.
"And you know…" Sweets scuffed his spoon into his sundae the same way Parker often scuffed his shoes into the dirt, with the exact same expression. Fascinating. "There's just…there are things…that, you know, right? Just can't…things you can't get past."
Brennan shook her head in exasperation.
Sweets looked up pitifully under his eyebrows, painfully aware that therapy was probably this painful for everyone else to muddle through, and with a sigh, tried to clarify. "What you said…about having trouble falling asleep because of the traumatic incidents –"
"I never said traumatic," Brennan contradicted loudly, and then ducked her head when someone from the bar looked over curiously. She leaned forward with a hiss. "It's different."
"Well for me," Sweets said, using appropriate 'myself' language he encouraged his clients to use, "I have been trouble sleeping, and I'm afraid of it compromising me to work to the best of my ability. This is also complicated by…well, you and Agent Booth."
Brennan frowned. "What? Why?"
"Your issues are integral to the lab's function."
"We are the epicenter," she rephrased.
"Yes, and you are not sound."
Brennan flushed a little, not sure of how to assure Sweets that she and Booth were quite sound again, but in a different way and without giving away their new secret. She opted for silence, to Sweets' unsurprise.
"I'd really like to work with you two in more sessions," Sweets continued, his eyes looking more drawn and pinched as he leaned forward into the fluorescent light.
"That's not necessary," Brennan parried, trying not to laugh at what Booth would have to say about that.
"It is. You cannot have it both ways Dr. Brennan. It's either we work our best as a team, or you stay angry at Booth."
"I'm past that," she said with a toss of her head, mulishly turning to look out at the street as she chewed on a brownie bite.
"Since when?" asked Sweets in amusement.
"A few days ago," Brennan answered cautiously, disliking the avid interest she had sparked in the otherwise flat eyes of her table mate.
"What happened a few days ago?" demanded Sweets.
Brennan was silent, even stilling her spoon from scraping the bottom of her bowl.
"Did you guys fight?" Sweets guessed.
"Did you make up?"
"Define make up."
"Are things back to the way they were?"
"Yeah, sorry. That was a dumb question. Of course they can't go back."
Brennan blinked at him in confusion. "Why not?"
"What Agent Booth did is…well, irreparable, I would think."
"Is it?" asked Brennan in surprise.
"Isn't it?" asked Sweets in just as much surprise.
"Gordon-Gordon said –"
"You went to Dr. Wyatt instead of me?" Sweets was genuinely hurt, and Brennan winced, wondering if that was the sort of information Booth would have told her to 'keep to herself.'
"Was it Booth's idea?" Sweets asked in a surly, upset voice.
Brennan nodded, smiling tightly, hoping that this was sufficient to placate the tantruming young psychologist.
"What did he say?" Sweets sighed at last, poking around the dribbles of where the hot fudge had melted the ice cream back into sweetened milk.
"He said," Brennan began, stalling for time, and trying to think of a not-so-close to the truth answer to forestall Sweets. "Well, I said I wouldn't have minded telling Booth what was in the letters-"
"If he had just asked?" Sweets asked shrewdly.
"Yes. How did you-"
"It's the violation of privacy, and not the act itself, that angered you. That much was obvious."
"Was it?" she asked bewilderedly. "Why did no one tell me? That would have saved a lot of time."
Sweets began to laugh, but for no discernible reason to Brennan. He trailed off with an awkward chuckle.
Brennan watched him coolly for a minute to check if he was finished laughing at her. When it became apparent he was, she continued. "And then…well then Cam asked me to forgive Booth, and I did. And now we are trying to…move forward," Brennan finished rather lamely.
"That's very mature of you, Dr. Brennan," Sweets said nodding, sucking on his spoon.
"Thank you," she said, uncertain if it was a compliment or not.
"What else did Dr. Wyatt say?"
"I'm not sure," she prevaricated.
"Dr. Brennan," said Sweets with a small, sad smile.
"I'm sorry," she said. "There are some things that need to remain…well between Booth and myself."
Sweets looked instantly contrite. "Of course. My point was that…well, I'm glad you two are working on it together, but the rest of the lab needs help."
"They are stressed by your tension with Booth."
"Oh, some of that is for show," Brennan said with a small laugh, and Sweets froze.
"Because we've been bugged," Brennan reminded him in a low voice, glancing around the diner not at all surreptitiously. "But we know that the movers are trying to drive Booth and I apart, or are at least taking advantage of thinking that they are."
Sweets looked surprised that she could surmise as much. But then he grinned a little. "Booth's idea?"
Brennan nodded. "He didn't tell me at first…he was cruel."
Sweets was immediately concerned. "I'm so sorry – is everything okay?"
"It was a means to an end," Brennan said severely, squashing the thought along with the last drips of ice cream.
"Not everything is a Utilitarian ideal," Sweets said reasonably.
"It should be," Brennan snapped, but she could hear the lie as well as Sweets. Zack had proved that. She wondered idly if he had ever gotten her letter. She hadn't seen one from him in her letterbox.
"Booth was cruel," Sweets observed sadly.
Brennan grabbed his hand impulsively, and was surprised to see that he looked moved. She supposed she had done something right.
"I'm sorry Sweets," she said sincerely. "I'm sorry that things are difficult for you, and that Booth and I are making it more so."
Sweets smiled. "Well, I suppose everything has to be a bit better if you don't hate him with the fire of a thousand suns."
Brennan wrinkled her nose. "Shakespeare?"
Sweets nodded guiltily. "The Taming of the Shrew."
"Why were you reading that?"
Brennan nodded, but then frowned. "Hey!"
Sweets laughed. "I was teasing, Dr. Brennan."
She reluctantly joined in.
The waitress dropped off the check, and she reached automatically.
"I had food before you," Sweets protested.
"It doesn't matter."
"I got it," she said.
Sweets slumped back in his chair in gratitude.
Brennan surprised them both by patting his shoulder before she left. She tried not to meet his eye outside the glass window front as he watched in astonishment as she turned left instead of right at the corner. They both knew which way was left.
It was only a few blocks to the Hoover building, and it was beautiful out. The humidity of the late summer was dying down, and the cicadas were humming. She took her time and didn't even flash her badge at the security guard, preferring to avoid the hassle and just walk through the metal detector. No one else was in line, and she wasn't in a hurry.
She rode the elevator to the fourth floor and walked out into the hum of the bullpen, dying down in the eight thirty wake. There were only a few agents lingering at their desks, and Brennan recognized that air of desperate comradery that came with having no where else to go. She smiled politely, and slipped through the rows until she came to the wall on the left and turned into Booth's office.
Or at least, she tried.
It was locked, the windows closed, and Brennan felt an overwhelming sense of unfairness inundate her. She had been so sure Booth was going to be there, she hadn't even considered taking her car and wrestling it through traffic to the outer wards of the district, where Booth lived in a slightly gentrified neighborhood, right on the cusp of a poorer one.
She pulled out her phone, irked, and tried his home line. Nothing. She had been berating him to get rid of his home line – an extra $50 a month that he didn't need to be spending - but he was attached to his old rotary phone that she had gotten him by extension, and she didn't have the heart to press her point. She called again, just to listen to it ring, and hung up, disappointed. She turned and left the building, lingering in the breezeway under the stone square pillars, feeling rather sorry for herself.
Her phone buzzed in her hand. She didn't need the caller ID; he had his own vibrating frequency she had assigned to his caller ID. But she smiled at his doofy face "pressed up" against the glass of her phone, pretending to be trapped inside her cellular device, before picking up.
"Where are you?"
"At your office," she laughed. "I called your apartment. Where are you?"
"At your apartment!" They both laughed.
Brennan felt giddy, and she thrust her spare hand, still fisted around her keys, into the air to flag down a passing taxi.
"Hold on," she smiled. "I'm coming to you."
"Don't keep me waiting," he said with a smirk she could practically hear. "I'm in your bed."
Brennan slammed the taxi door harder than necessary as Booth continued to make dirty taunts all the way home.