Title: Couch Time
Chapter: Socks and Psychics: Harbinger Aftermath
Summary: Set in season 5 of Bones, just as they return to working cases together. Sweets calls the pair in for a reassessment.
AN: I'm new to Bones, but not to fan fiction. Got this idea from watching the season 3 Couples Counseling shorts. I enjoy the verbal sparring between the two leads, and their interactions with Dr. Sweets. This whole story will be set in his office.
Dr. Temperance Brennan sat, her eyes precisely skimming over the words in the clinical journal, hitting two points on each line, as she read over an article that explored the link between depression and osteoporosis. She was, as always, skeptical of any correlation between hard and soft science. However at the moment, her need to voice her skepticism had little to do with her passion about the topic and her uncomfortable need to find an ice-breaker as she and her partner had sat for nearly five minutes without conversation.
"I would like to see the credentials and research methods of this supposed doctor. Osteoporosis is a well-defined and measureable disease that has physical geneses—your bones don't get brittle from a mood disorder."
Her partner, FBI agent Seeley Booth, looked up from his hands, which were clasped in his lap. He had one leg crossed, ankle at the knee, showing off matching striped socks under his pant legs. He'd switched back from black after she pointed out the noticeable difference in his attire since he'd returned to duty upon recovering from his brain surgery a couple months prior. She had not mentioned outright the depth of her concern about the changes in him, both easily discernible and not, but it was increasingly apparently that they were both aware such differences existed. That made it worse somehow, as his partner was not one to hold back when she knew things to be somehow askew.
"Depression has physical causes, too, though, doesn't it? Chemicals or something. Too much, or not enough of something in the brain?" he said, mostly without passion to his tone. The idea didn't outrage him in the slightest, and the reason for their having been called into the FBI psychologist's office was weighing on his mind. He wasn't ready to discuss the recent changes to his life, let alone explore the reasons behind them. He also wasn't ready to lose Bones as a partner, which was the only reason he showed up for the appointment. He hoped between the two of them, they could divert attention off themselves with Dr. Lance Sweets, as they'd become so adept at doing in the past. He hoped that surely his self-preservation instincts remained intact.
"Neurotransmitters and neurotoxins," she supplied easily, "specifically norepinephrine and serotonin. But there is no conclusive evidence that they're implicated in osteoporosis—any link is highly experimental at this point. This man is a quack."
"You think all psychologists are quacks," he said with a sigh. She detected a hint of a smile in his passive-aggressive response. She detected a hint of the old Booth in almost everything he did. Just enough to miss him, in fact. It was clear he was making an effort, but he wasn't still quite back to the man she knew before. She missed that stupid belt buckle perhaps most of all.
"I believe that they are genuine in their pursuit for some kind of truth, but I don't understand why they don't confine their efforts to the effects of brain chemistry and leave all the talking and emotion out of it. It's all conjecture at a certain point."
Booth gave a chuckle. "So, to you all psychiatrists are misguided neurologists?"
"I didn't say that. I just think the brain is complex enough without having to then assign conjecture and speculation that are entirely subjective and label it scientific in nature. It's not scientific. If it were, it would show that people react the same way to the same stimuli. But that is clearly not the case. We disprove that on a daily basis."
"We as in, you and me, or we as in our interactions with other people, solving murders?"
She considered the question. "Specifically, I meant you and me. We're completely different people, with radically different ideologies."
"But that's not bad," he said, emphasizing the last word.
She lifted her head sharply, her eyes softening as she met his. "Of course not."
He nodded and went back to staring at his hands. "Right."
"Booth," she said with hesitation.
"Yeah?" he asked, his eyes hopeful as he met her gaze once again.
The door to Dr. Sweets' office opened and a middle-aged man, who from the looks of his physique had been transferred to desk duty, walked out and past the waiting pair without a thought. Dr. Sweets stared at the two of them, nearly as if he were surprised at their joint visit. "You're both here."
Bones frowned at Booth. "Is this some sort of trick?"
"Of course we're here, Sweets. It's not like you gave us a choice."
"Yeah, but you're both here and on time," the psychologist said with a furrowed brow.
Booth stood up and shook his head as he walked past their summoner and moved to sit on his side of the therapy couch. Dr. Brennan put down the so-called scientific journal and followed her partner. "You need higher quality reading material."
"At least they're all current," Dr. Sweets defended as he closed the door behind the trio. By the time he rounded back to his seat, Dr. Brennan had taken her seat next to Booth and was readjusting her jacket.
"Let's just get down to it, can we? It's been a long week," Booth said as he unbuttoned his suit jacket and put his right arm on the edge of the couch. "And Bones needs to get some rest."
Brennan glanced from Sweets to Booth, shaking her head, her body already correcting him. "I'm fine. The doctor checked my dressing this morning and said I was healing satisfactorily. I've already weaned myself off the narcotics and onto mild ibuprofen for residual pain."
Booth pointed at her arm. "A-ha! See, you have residual pain. You need rest."
"This was the wound you incurred when dealing with the clinic doctor?" Sweets said, flipping through his notes. "Dr. Leacock."
"Is that why we had to come in? Because Booth killed Dr. Leacock? Because I was relieved, and I assure you the experience wasn't traumatizing," Temperance said plainly to Dr. Sweets.
"It's not the only reason, but it's something we should touch on," Sweets said.
"He was coming at her with a knife," Booth said in his own defense.
"Technically, it was a scalpel. A ten-blade," Brennan supplied, helpfully.
"I'm not criticizing you for shooting him," Sweets said, trying to ease Booth's tension.
"Good. Then we're done here?" Booth asked hopefully.
"No," Sweets said, a little too abruptly. The pair was notorious for cutting sessions short, mostly out of his control. "I was curious as to how you knew where Dr. Brennan was, and why you believed she was in danger. The report said you came in with your gun drawn, correct?"
Booth licked his lips and slid his brown eyes to Brennan, who was waiting expectantly for the answer as well. She hadn't asked how he'd known to find her; at the time she was too busy bleeding and sitting in relief in his arms as adrenaline flooded her system to ask any questions. By the time her vitals stabilized completely, he was back in his office, with her lost blood still soaked through his clothes.
"Anonymous tip," he said quickly.
Sweets suddenly smiled knowingly. "I see."
Booth narrowed his gaze at the psychologist. "Don't make this is into something it's not."
"I thought it was your gut," Brennan said to Booth, ignoring Sweets.
"It wasn't his gut, it was the psychic," Sweets said with a triumphant satisfaction.
"You don't believe in all that stuff," Brennan reminded Booth, as if it was just another side effect of his surgery, like his socks or his confusion over clowns.
"I don't. She was just so emphatic that I get to you. That you were in danger. She kept saying it over and over and all I could think was that if I didn't get to you, I'd lose you," he said with a raw emotion even he hadn't anticipated.
"Booth," she whispered.
"Was your fear relieved when you were able to see her?" Sweets asked.
Booth cut a glare Sweet's direction. "She was in danger."
"So you admit that the psychic was right."
"Listen, Sweets, I'm glad you found your watch," Booth said in an attempt to downplay the role that the psychic had played in all their lives.
"She was right about a lot of things. Did she say other things to you that you wish she hadn't been so accurate about?" Sweets inquired.
"Did Angela say something to you?" Brennan asked Sweets.
Sweets shifted uncomfortably in his seat. "That's confidential."
"Not if it pertains to why you called us in here," Dr. Brennan reasoned. "Furthermore, if she spoke to you about us, it's considered gossip, which is not extended to patient confidentiality."
"She may have mentioned to me over lunch that the psychic informed the two of you that in Booth's coma dream, the two of you were expecting a baby."
"Well, at least we were married first," Booth joked. Neither Brennan nor Sweets laughed.
"His dream has no bearing on reality. He knows that and so do I. For starters, I don't plan on ever getting married," she announced.
"Never?" Booth asked her in disbelief.
She turned to him. "You knew that."
"Well, I know you said it, but I figured that you'd meet the right guy and change your mind eventually."
She wrinkled her nose in disgust. "That's very backward thinking, even for you, Booth."
"I would like to point out that at one point in the not-so-distant past, you were intent on having Booth's baby," Sweets reminded her.
Booth pointed to Sweets and snapped his fingers. "That probably explains the marriage dream. You know, I'm Catholic, and I have issues about not being married to Parker's mom, so," he shrugged, eager to write off any other potential cause for his dream life.
"I don't think that's the underlying cause of your dream," Sweets argued.
"See? It's completely subjective," Brennan said with a tilt of her head to Booth.
"What is?" Sweets asked.
She turned to him and blinked. "Psychology."
Sweets sank down into his chair with a groan.
"Are you gonna make Sweets cry again?" Booth asked, now quite enjoying the session.
Sweets opened his eyes. "I did not cry."
"Men don't get things in their eyes," Booth said sternly.
"Sweets, it's okay for men to cry. It's an arcane belief that men can't be emotionally open. Just like it's a falsehood that all women are," Brennan stated calmly.
"Can we refocus here? This isn't about me," Sweets said as he put his palms on his knees. "I wanted to check in with the two of you, now that you've worked a successful case together again, to make sure that the two of you are still beneficial to each other as partners."
"I'd say that his saving my life was beneficial," Brennan stated succinctly.
"I didn't save you," Booth said humbly.
She turned to him and fixed him with her normally cool blue eyes. He saw something there, something more—something he tried to convince himself wasn't there—as she spoke. "You did, Booth. You saved me. You're back, and you saved me. It's what you do. You're back even if you don't feel it yet. I know it."
He smiled warmly. "Thanks, Bones."
"Is that true, that you don't feel all the way back yet?" Sweets asked seriously.
"He laughed at a clown," Brennan informed Sweets.
Sweets frowned at Booth. "You hate clowns."
"I know!" Booth exclaimed with both hands extended out and palms upturned.
"Isn't that why you had to start counseling in the first place, because you shot a clown?" Sweets asked.
"I did not shoot a clown. I shot the top of a clown head on a van. And I don't see what the big deal is. Would you have preferred I shot the clown?"
"No one is suggesting that violence is a preferred method of dealing with any situation," Lance said smoothly.
"The FBI trained him in violence, in order to perform his job," Brennan corrected Sweets.
"To protect people from threats, not to unleash upon unsuspecting clowns," Sweets argued.
"I suppose that's a valid point," she deferred.
"I'm fine, okay? The clown just caught me off-guard. Like the psychic. It's been a lot to process for my first case back," Booth managed.
"Does it bother you, that you couldn't make murder charges stick with the perpetrator?" Sweets concluded.
Booth pointed at Sweets. "We got him. He's going to jail, so it all worked out just fine."
"But not for murder. You're homicide, that's what your focus is."
"I'm aware of that," Booth said. "But sometimes you have to take what you can get."
There was a strained silence in the room. It was Brennan that broke the silence. "There is one thing I'd like to know."
"Go ahead. This is a safe space," Sweets said in a professional manner.
"I could have let it go, but now that I know that you took stock in what the psychic said," she began, addressing Booth.
"I wouldn't go that far," Booth said.
"I want to know what she meant when she said it would all work out," she pressed.
Booth shot Sweets a look of distress, but he got no reprieve. All eyes were on him. "It's nothing, I told you. It's just something that people say, like an expression. Back me up, Sweets."
"Avalon seemed to choose her words very carefully, in my opinion."
"Thanks a lot, Sweets," Booth muttered. "She just meant that us, our relationship, it would turn out for the best."
"Our professional relationship?" Brennan clarified.
"What else could she mean?" Booth asked easily as he ignored the realization that was washing over Sweets' face.
"Well, she did put way too much stock into the dream you had. But obviously that was nothing more than an ephemeral dream reality brought on by a prolonged sleep-state. One can hardly base their waking reality on what the subconscious mind amalgamates during REM processes," she scoffed as if it were a funny joke.
Dr. Sweets looked downright injured by her comment, but instead of engaging her in an unproductive effort to change her mind about the validity of his entire profession, he engaged Booth. "Our time is almost up. Is there anything else you care to share, either with Dr. Brennan or myself?"
Booth took a deep inhale as he looked from Sweets to Brennan. Her eyes were patient and waiting, and for a moment, he imagined a reality where he could make the confession he'd given to Cam and Sweets, and cowardly to even her in the street. But he knew what would come next. Her compartmentalizing of his confession. She wasn't ready. He wasn't even sure if he was ready, even after seeing how happy he'd be with her, thanks to his coma dream. He hoped the psychic was right, and it would all work out, but he wasn't ready to push her into anything.
"I'm good. How 'bout you, Bones?" he asked as he stretched his back.
"I'm ready to get our drink. You do remember our ritual, don't you?" she asked him readily.
He smiled. "Of course. We close all our cases at the Founding Fathers."
"That's all you needed, correct? Our insights to make sure that we were both performing according to the FBI's guidebook after our hiatus?" Bones asked Sweets, clearly ready to end the interlude.
"That's rulebook," Booth interjected.
"What rulebook?" Bones asked.
"The FBI, they don't do guidelines. That's the FDA. The FBI is all about the rules, which is why Sweets dragged us in here to make sure we were still capable of having a high-functioning professional relationship, right Sweets?"
"I'm high-functioning in all aspects of my life," she informed them both without hesitation.
"And you both feel good about your current relationship?" Lance asked, his eyebrows still furrowed and his lips in a near pout. He was in disbelief that after all the events that had led them to that moment; they were both content to cling to how things had been before it all got turned on its ear.
"Very satisfied," Dr. Brennan nodded amiably before turning to Booth. "What about you?"
"Yeah, I'm good. Thanks for the talk, Sweets."
"Not so fast!" Dr. Sweets stood quickly as his subjects rose from their sanctioned session. "I'll see you next week."
"You mean just Booth? I think it's best that he's checked by his neurologist, if you're worried about any further repercussions to the damage incurred by his brain trauma," she argued the point with Sweets.
"I'm sure if his neurologist signed off on him, that there will be no lasting physical issues," Sweets said, shaking the idea off. "But I, I mean, the Bureau feels that the two of you have been successful enough in the past that it warrants us monitoring the situation for a while, until we're sure you're both completely back into the swing of things."
"I went to Guatemala and dug up ancient remains. My brain is fine," she argued.
Sweets gave Booth a pleading look. "Yeah, but you're my partner, and he probably just wants your input as to my performance on the job, since you're with me all the time," Booth supplied, knowing that he owed Sweets something after his private confession of love for his partner.
"Exactly," Sweets said, rushing to agree.
Brennan shrugged. "Fine. As long as it doesn't interfere with my real work."
"It won't," Sweets promised. "So, next week?"
Booth let out a sigh. "We'll be here."
Sweets smiled triumphantly as the two left his office and shut the door behind them, failing to invite him along to their celebratory drink. Bones turned to Booth before they hit the main reception door. "Wait, should we be celebrating? I mean, we didn't attach Fargood as the murderer of all those people," she pointed out the main difference between that and the rest of their cases.
He opened the door for her. "Bones, we caught the bad guy. That is always cause for a drink."