A/N: This fic takes place anywhere before the end of Season 6. Think of it as a choose your own adventure where you supply your own when and why and how B&B got together. Maybe Sweets never wrote his book & encouraged Booth to gamble; maybe Brennan didn't go to the Maluku Islands, Maybe Hannah didn't happen, maybe someone else did. Maybe Booth never drew a line. Maybe Brennan stayed during Booth's recovery from his coma. Maybe she said yes when he asked to give 'this' a try. But then again, maybe what we saw on the screen was exactly what happened. This story isn't about how they got together – it's how they learn to stay together.
Disclaimer: The characters of Bones belong to a long list of people – not one of which is me.
"Once upon a time there were two countries, at war with each other. In order to make peace after many years of conflict, they decided to build a bridge across the ocean.
But because they never learned each other's language properly, they could never agree on the details, so the two halves of the bridge they started to build never met.
To this day the bridge extends far into the ocean from both sides, and simply ends half way, miles in the wrong direction from the meeting point.
And the two countries are still at war." - Vera Nazarian, The Perpetual Calendar of Inspiration
"It's not supposed to be this difficult."
He briefly flicked his eyes away from the road to where she sat beside him. She was angled away from him; her gaze focused off through the passenger window. Neither of them had spoken in over half an hour.
In spite of his own similar train of thought he countered, "It's not supposed to be easy either." He heard her shift and once again looked toward her.
"Booth," she chided but said nothing further for a long moment, as she tried to find the appropriate words before continuing. Their eyes met for half a second before skittering away. "We said we wouldn't let this affect our work."
She turned fully toward him and glared. He could feel the force of it without looking away from the road, heard the exasperation in her voice. "We fought at a crime scene."
"It wasn't really a fight."
"We were angry and yelled at each other with increasing volume until Mr. Vasiri developed the courage to remind us that we were being inappropriate and unprofessional. In my novel, that is the very definition of a fight."
He considered correcting her noun choice to lighten the moment but decided against it a second later. "We were bickering; we always bicker."
She didn't take the bait. "No. This was a fight. Even I am aware of the difference Booth."
"Okay. It was a fight. Happy?" His voice became harder with the last word.
Her voice was toneless. "Not particularly." She shifted back to the window and he sighed.
"Bones. Hey. It's okay. Couples fight. It's normal." Despite the fact he was driving, he willed her to look toward him and meet his eyes. Something in his mind insisted that it would all be okay if she did that. She didn't move. "Bones?"
"This was different Booth. We weren't merely annoyed with each other; I was angry at you; I felt an intense dislike of you today."
"What're you saying Bones? That you don't wanna be with me anymore because of one stupid fight?"
"No, don't do that. Don't place words in my mouth Booth. What I'm saying is that lately, despite my desire to remain in a committed monogamous relationship with you, I haven't been desirous of spending time with you. And by your conduct I can only extrapolate that you are experiencing a similar reaction."
"You've been avoiding me at work in addition to avoiding me during our personal time. We promised each other that our being in an intimate relationship would not affect our working partnership, but it has."
He scoffed, "I haven't been avoiding you; you've been avoiding me."
"You haven't been to the lab at all despite the fact that we are in the middle of an investigation. You've given me two rain checks?" She furrowed her brow and looked at him for confirmation at her word choice and at his nod continued, "for lunch and we haven't been in the same proximity at night to discuss supper or breakfast. You chose not to inform me when you went to run down a lead yesterday and followed it up by letting Sweets tell me of the interrogation after the fact." She paused for a breath and looked at him again, questioningly, "What is it that have I done that constitutes avoiding you?"
"You've been all squirrely lately. You won't take my calls! In fact I tried to call you about the lead…"
Brennan scoffed. "Perhaps if you'd tried my cell at least once, or left a message?"
Booth kept talking, ignoring her comment, "... and reschedule lunch with you three times but you were 'busy,' at least according to Angela, and Cam, and whatever intern of the week I talked to last time. You made up the rule about staying over during a case, not me." Resentment colored his voice.
"We need to remain professional," she reminded him again. "Staying over..." She paused as she contemplated completing her thought. No, she didn't want to dwell on this issue. He was right, it was her rule, albeit one she was beginning to dislike. She explained, "I have had three bodies to examine, not counting the one discovered today. The damage to the bones was extensive and I have been working additional hours to ensure that you have the information you need to complete the investigation..."
"Bones…" he tried to interject, but she continued.
"I apologize for not waiting in my office in anticipation of your call, but I felt my time was better utilized studying the remains, especially after you made it clear that my presence was not desired in the field. And I have called you numerous times, only for you to tell me that it wasn't a good time."
"You knew why I couldn't talk to you. The new ADD's been taking interest in this case and keeps making all these meetings for 'status updates'." His eyebrows punctuated the end of his sentence.
"No. I found out later why you could not talk to me. I was not informed of the situation or the meetings so I did not know it was not a good time to attempt to engage you in conversation." She spoke calmly and deliberately, attempting to mask the hurt his actions had caused.
"I…" Her reactions were starting to make more sense. He side checked his mirrors and pulled into a rest stop. After putting the car in park and turning off the engine, he reached for her hand. "Bones… I didn't... I was just …." He sighed, "I'm sorry for blowing you off."
She turned her hand and squeezed his. "We can't keep doing this. I know I am not very adept at relationships and that I keep making mistakes, but I am trying to learn." She stared at their hands, entwined, unwilling to make any more eye contact. Her thumb caressed his knuckles. "I know my actions were in error last weekend and that my attempt to make amends was inadequate to you. But at the time I did not realize how it would impact you."
"It didn't 'impact' me Bones, it hurt me. You disappointed me and my son and didn't bother to apologize."
"Booth, I did not intend to hurt or disappoint either of you. If you had told me that you were depending on me I would have tried to make alternate arrangements."
"That's just it Bones, I thought I had. I told you what we were doing and I told you that I'd like it if you came. I didn't think I needed to spell it out for you."
"I told you that I had other commitments that day," she countered. "I told you I'd try to be there, not that I would be there. You were the one who made unfounded promises to Parker."
"Yeah, but you didn't call or anything! You just didn't show up. I was worried!"
She disentangled her hand from his as his pitch and agitation increased. "Booth, this is not resolving anything. Perhaps you should resume driving so that I can go back to the lab and you can continue avoiding me."
He slammed his palm on the driving wheel, "Fine!" Roughly flicking on the engine, he pulled the shaft out of park and drove off.
They did not speak again for the remainder of the trip.