AN: Welcome to this, my collection of random Bones one-shots and ficlets in response to prompts from bitesize_bones or hell, anyone's idea that I feel game to tackle.
Please read spoiler notes carefully for each fic. Unless otherwise stated, none of these pieces are related to each other.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones. I wish HH would hire me as a writer. For now, I do this out of love. Consider me disclaimed.
TITLE: Don't Shoot The Messenger
TAG TO: Aliens In A Spaceship
PROMPT: "What if Hodgins caught a glimpse of Brennan's note in Aliens in a Spaceship, and told Booth about it later?"
She seemed okay at first, at least to Booth's critical eye. She'd come with him to church, where she was her usual scientist self, bluntly denying the existence of God in his own house. She'd been at ease on the drive back to her apartment, where they'd shared Thai take-out and passed out after an unhealthy quantity of scotch (he on the couch, she in her bed). They'd picked through the leftovers for breakfast before he'd rushed home to change for the work day.
By lunch, she'd recoiled from him, lost somewhere behind those beautiful blue eyes that cut through him no matter how hard he tried to resist her. The excuses came fast and furious at lunch: her editor needed a chapter by the evening; she had reports to complete; there was a fascinating new case in Limbo that simply could not wait; she "wasn't hungry anyway". Booth had accepted all of this as factual, had slipped off to grab lunch alone before returning to his office to schlock through the paperwork. But when she'd turned him down for a late dinner, insisting she had to work late, he was no longer buying it.
"C'mon Bones. I bet you didn't even eat lunch today," he protested.
"I did so," she replied indignantly. "I had an apple and trail mix."
He snorted in disbelief. "That's not a meal; that's rabbit food! Look, I'll even treat you to fries so you can keep your fingers off my plate."
"Booth, I lost a great deal of time and my work is backed up. It would be highly unprofessional of me to neglect these reports."
Her eyes were locked on her computer monitor. She's lying. Her hand came to rest unconsciously on the tiny burn marks on her neck and he frowned. Why won't she talk to me?
"You need to get out of here and kick back," he said. "The reports can wait."
At this, his hand came to rest on hers. Her entire body tensed, her breath hitched and he recoiled as if struck by lightning.
"I'll see you tomorrow," she said firmly.
"Okay. Okay, Bones."
He left her office, finding himself unable to leave the lab entirely. Something was wrong. Had he done something wrong? Was she angry for the way he'd yelled at the squints? Surely, she'd overlook that. It was to save her life, for God's sake! Her and Hodgins – and speak of the devil, here came the bug loving conspiracy freak. He'd obviously not slept the night before and Booth couldn't blame him after the ordeal they'd endured.
Hodgins froze as he saw Booth, eyes darting back and forth as if seeking an escape route. He knows something, Booth thought.
"Hey Hodgins, what's going on?"
"Oh, just, uh, looking for Angela. She was supposed to come right back so we could head out," he replied. His neck craned, struggling to see the doors behind Booth. "Maybe I should wait outside for her."
"I'll wait with you," Booth offered.
"Nah man, you don't have to do that. I mean, there's security and cameras and—"
"And you're nervous about something, and I'm betting it has to do with Bones," Booth finished for him. "So walk with me and spill."
"Something's wrong with Bones," he said quietly. "Come on, Hodgins. She's my partner. If you know something, tell me."
The doctor sighed, leaning heavily on his crutches. "Fine," he hissed. "But not in here. Dr. B's got supersonic hearing."
Booth nodded, following Hodgins outside, which was an incredibly slow process given his leg injury. He was patient, though. Hodgins had answers about Bones. Booth would have those answers. The doctor lowered himself onto a bench with a pained sigh.
"She's not okay, is she?" Booth asked.
"What, with being buried alive and left for dead? Blowing us out of a hole and clawing her way to freedom?" Hodgins asked, the sarcasm thick. "Oh yeah, she's just swell."
"Hodgins, I will hit you, crutches be damned."
"You'd hit a cripple? Classy."
"Did I piss her off?" Booth asked. "Did she call me an 'alpha male' or mutter about some anthropological study about how I offended her intelligence or independence or whatever?"
Hodgins shook his head. "I'm not telling you a thing unless you make me a promise to never breathe a word of it to Dr. Brennan."
"Fine, sure, I promise."
"No, seriously dude, promise me. Swear on the grave of someone you actually care about, or something like that."
That old saying about felines and their inquisitive natures got to him. "I swear on Parker's life that I will never let on that I know whatever it is you're going to tell me."
Hodgins exhaled loudly. "Down there… when we were trapped… I thought I was going to die, so I tore a page from the book and wrote a note."
Hodgins blushed. "Yeah. And if you tell anyone that, I will kill you."
Booth chuckled. "Sure you will. Get on with it."
His eyes darted around again and Booth wondered if the guy was on potent medication for his leg. There was no one around! He gestured for Booth to crouch down and he obliged, if only to get this suddenly exhausting experience over with.
This better be good.
"Right before she blew us out of there, I stopped her. Asked if she maybe wanted to say goodbye to someone herself. She took the pen and ripped out her own page. I know it was wrong, but it's not like a car is a huge space. No real privacy. I didn't see everything, but I saw enough."
"What did it say?"
Hodgins hesitated briefly before replying. "It said, 'The tequila was a stupid reason to turn you down that night.'"
Booth felt the air squeezed out of his lungs by this revelation. He was suddenly back there, standing outside that bar, watching her get into that damn cab and driving away. Tequila. That was her reason for going home alone. For not… Crap. Maybe he really shouldn't have asked.
"There's Angela," Hodgins announced, rising gingerly. "She destroyed the note today in her office so… remember your promise."
He'd remember it and regret it deeply. Because now, all he wanted was to march inside and grab her by the shoulders and ask her why she'd written those words. But he couldn't. He'd sworn on his son's life. Booth was a gambler at heart, but there were things you just didn't take chances with.
What did the rest of that damn note say? And why did he feel like the answer held the key to his future?
His phone rang and he pulled it from his pocket, glancing at the display. Camille. He knew how this conversation would play out: she'd invite him out for dinner, they'd stay in and have sex, and he'd wake up still uncomfortable with the whole thing for reasons he could never articulate. He let the call go to voicemail, his mind fixated on the memory of soft lips and softer hair…
"What's Booth doing?" Angela asked as she opened her passenger door.
Hodgins glanced back at the bewildered agent, shaking his head. "I guess he's thinking of losses."
"I'm glad you're not one of those," Angela murmured, kissing his cheek. "Let's get going."
Hodgins buckled himself in before reaching into his wallet. Withdrawing a small folded square, he turned it round and round between his fingers. Maybe he should have given the note to Booth, after all. Dr. B. hadn't said not to, although she hadn't told Hodgins to keep it, either.
"What's that?" Angela asked.
"Note to myself," he replied, shoving it back inside his wallet.
He didn't need to open it to remember the words scrawled neatly upon it. They would be forever branded in his mind.
The tequila was a stupid reason to turn you down that night. I've regretted it every day since, Booth. Please visit my grave, as I'll miss you dearly.
Hodgins believed in second chances. He hoped someday those two would have theirs.