SPOILER ALERT! This story assumes you're familiar with Bones canon up to episode 8.2 The Partners in the Divorce. For Partners in the Divorce, this story covers the whole episode, weaving in and out of moments on screen - including revealing 'whodunit' at the end. There are smaller spoilers for dozens of episodes throughout the entire first seven seasons, but most particularly for episode 8.2.
Author's Introduction: Brennan seemed really clueless, cold and distant during Partners in the Divorce. Were the writers getting her character all wrong, or did they get her right...?
This story looks at the development of Booth and Brennan's fight, supplemented with flashbacks of Brennan's history that might put her reactions into context. I think her behavior made sense, even if it wasn't 'right.' This story will have a limited narrative because I'm taking Brennan's experience and point of view. Whatever limits her, limits the narrative. You will see what she sees, but the ultimate goal is getting her to see Booth.
Everything that I write in this story has some basis in canon. Chapter titles are taken from actual lines we've heard Brennan say. The title is part of an often misquoted phrase uttered by George Santayana: "Those who can not remember the past are doomed to repeat it."
Disclaimer: With all due appreciation and respect and solely for the sake of context, dialogue is borrowed from the episode Partners in the Divorce; full credit for that dialogue goes to Bones writer Michael Peterson.
Doomed to Repeat
"Cooking is a Way to Show Love."
The decision to leave had not been undertaken in haste, although she knew it probably seemed that way to any observers. Dr. Temperance Brennan had always had extensive, particularly well-connected and highly-conductive synapses, allowing her thoughts to streak through scenarios and probabilities at … the speed of electricity. Which is to say, the speed of light.
Her intricately wired brain stored vast amounts of data, memories and observations that she could recall and utilize in less time than it took to blink an eye. She thought fast, solved problems fast, made decisions fast. Brennan always had, even as a sheltered, gangly teenager who was still insulated from the world's greatest cruelties.
So the decision to leave Booth, as painful as it was practical, she made in the span of an hour. Brennan tried to foresee as many possible consequences as were visible, including the possibility that Booth would not forgive her. That terrifying prospect was ever in the fringes of her mind all the time she was gone.
Working fast and digging deep into Pelant's history, Brennan thought of nothing but clearing her name so she could be reunited with Booth. When the end-game approached, Brennan calculated the best way to bring about the reunion she so desperately longed for. Leaving the twin clues of Pelant's long-missing high school counselor—expertly unearthed—and the snowdrop flowers, Brennan had checked herself into the Snow Drop Inn under the name of Roxy St. Claire, the same name she'd used in Vegas. Then she waited, hoping he would string the clues together, hoping indeed that he would care enough to want to follow them.
In the back of her mind, she was aware that he might only come for Christine and she had steeled herself for that. His first moment of shocked recognition, followed by passionate kissing and a frantic coupling on the motel room floor, appeased that particular fear. She breathed a sigh of relief, a sob of joy, feeling his arms and body wrapped around her and daring to hope they would be fine. In her experience, everyone always leaves … but Booth always stayed, the exception to her rule. He would forgive her, of course. He was Booth, her partner in all things.
Booth, of course, was what she missed the most. Everything about him, from his warm eyes to his strong arms, his childish taste for cartoons and comics, his steadfast and loyal heart: she missed it all.
But there were other things to miss, some that she hadn't truly considered while undertaking her calculations on the pros and cons of turning fugitive. The obvious things—Angela, Hodgins & Cam and even Sweets—she had considered. The lab itself, being just a place, had not seemed terribly important to her, however. So it was strange to find herself staring at the steel top of a kitchen work table in a no-name diner somewhere, and fervently wish there was a skeleton laying on it instead of carrots and cabbages to be shredded for the House Salad.
The lab was her second home, however, not her primary residence. The place she was most surprised to find herself missing was her house, the home she and Booth built together. She longed to sleep in her own bed, feeling Booth's body radiating heat beside her. She yearned for the deep red walls of their living room, holding up the shelves with all of his antiques and her artifacts, their individual possessions lovingly demonstrating that their separate lives had merged into one beautiful tapestry.
She desperately wanted to go home, to that place that represented love and comfort, belonging. Security. And Booth.
For three months she'd dreamed of being back at home, their home, doing ordinary household tasks. Laundry in her own, clean laundry room. Scrubbing out her own, clean porcelain bathroom fixtures instead of staring into the filthy ones provided by whatever seedy motel she and her father could find that was willing to forego ID in lieu of cash. Instead of standing over a hot industrial stove, Temperance Brennan dreamed of cooking in her own kitchen, surrounded by high-end cookware and his antique Bakelite phone and her artifacts, warm sunshine streaming in the windows, Christine babbling happily while Booth bounced her on his knee.
Once she was home, with Booth, everything would be fine. Things would return to normal and she would love Booth to try and make up for the separation. He would still love her. Everything would be fine.
Now she was home. And everything was fine.
She'd fulfilled most of those curiously domestic fantasies the first few days after her return, and all that remained was cooking. Brennan wanted to cook in her own kitchen, letting Booth know through her culinary skills that she loved him and was glad to be back home.
To that end, she woke up extra early on a weekday morning and slipped down to the kitchen while Booth was in the shower. She took down her Kachina apron that she'd bought at the Santa Fe airport after finishing a dig in New Mexico, pleased to feel the soft fabric covering her clothing when she tied it in back.
Brennan hummed while she sliced strawberries and blueberries into a bowl. Still humming, she moved with practiced efficiency as she whipped up the pancake batter, adding an egg for fluffiness and pinches of cinnamon and nutmeg, and a dash of freshly ground black pepper for just the right zing. After she poured out the first batch onto the griddle, she poured orange juice for Booth and herself. Once she had flipped the first batch, Brennan quickly set the coffee to brewing, then slid the first round of pancakes onto the heated hot plate standing by. Just as she finished pouring out the second batch, she sensed Booth coming into the room and waited to hear his pleased surprise.
When he entered the kitchen he was still buttoning his shirt cuffs, but the scent and activity he encountered did not bring the hoped-for look of pleasure to his face. Instead, he looked merely confused. "What's going on?"
Standing at the stove with a spatula, Brennan glanced over her shoulder, trying to read his nearly blank expression. "Oh, I learned to make pancakes as a fry cook outside of Newburn, North Carolina."
He came closer, repeating skeptically, "Fry cook."
His behavior was not what she had been anticipating, but Brennan knew she was usually unable to really anticipate people's responses. She left that to Booth most of the time. Booth himself, however, she usually had an easier time reading. Over the last eight years, Brennan had studied him intensely and had amassed an extensive range of potential Boothy expressions and reactions, so it was puzzling that today he was opaque. Needing a moment to reflect, Brennan set the spatula down, moving towards the cupboards to retrieve their breakfast dishes.
She tried to fill in the gaps of his knowledge, explaining her stint as a fry cook. "Well, we didn't have any money while we were evading arrest. So, I had to do whatever I could to get by." She returned to him with the dishes. "My dad wanted to steal, but…."
Booth's reaction was to remove the dishes from her hands and pick up the spatula. He spoke in a short, clipped, dismissive tone, all but pushing her out of the kitchen with words alone. "Well, you don't have to be a fry cook anymore. I cooked us breakfast before. Why don't you go sit and read one of those dead body books that you like."
Smiling, trying to reassure him that she was enjoying cooking them breakfast, Brennan took the spatula back out of his hands. "No, Booth, I'm fine. You sit. I like to cook breakfast, you just … never let me."
Years ago, a promising young chef named Carly had told Brennan that cooking was a way to show love. After being away so long and missing so many aspects of the life they'd begun together, she wanted to cook for him. She wanted that small act of provision to serve as a tangible sign of what she felt for him, and about them.
Still standing at the stove, Booth turned defensive. "Well, it wasn't like I tied you up. I was just … trying to be nice."
"I know. I'm just…." She drew in a deep breath, looking suddenly confused because this morning wasn't turning out to be what she'd envisioned. She thought he was worried that she didn't enjoy cooking, or that she was uncomfortable with it. Trying to reassure him, she explained, "I'm used to doing this."
Brennan flicked her eyes back to Booth, just wanting him to let her do this for him. "So, I'm nice now. Okay?"
"You. Okay." He hesitated briefly, as if regrouping. Once he'd finally decided to acquiesce to her, Booth turned decidedly flirtatious. "You're very nice…." He leaned in to kiss her.
If he kissed her, they would end up late. That was the truth—Booth's mouth on her always turned her brains to mush, caused time to disappear, and any notions of self-discipline became just the vestiges of someone else's forgotten ideal. Once his lips connected with hers, breakfast would be a lost cause. Abruptly, trying to get the pancakes out of harm's way, Brennan drew back and turned away with the pan. "Oh, you know what? I don't want them to burn."
A cold chill swept around her the moment she stepped away.
Booth sighed audibly.
Pausing at the counter, she bit her lip. She was already realizing she had made a misstep. "I … I didn't mean to turn away like that."
He picked up one of the jet black coffee cups and looked at it just as carefully as she typically examined evidence. "No, no. That's fine."
She tilted her head, listening carefully. He'd said it was fine, but his tone suggested otherwise. Growing very uncertain, Brennan took the coffee pot and offered to pour.
"Coffee," he agreed without enthusiasm.
Something isn't right, her weak people skills warned her. Fix it. While pouring the coffee Brennan tried to lean in and steal a kiss, hoping to make amends, but they just butted heads awkwardly. Both winced. She pulled back, embarrassed and at a complete loss.
Glancing down at the pancakes, Booth complimented her half-heartedly. "These look, uh … good."
"I know," she answered with a bit more confidence. Something about Booth had her feeling tentative, but at least she knew she could cook. He would like these. Brennan quickly scooped a pancake onto his plate and hoped the cliché about food being the way to a man's heart would prove correct in this case. It had worked with the macaroni and cheese. Recalling how much he'd enjoyed that meal when she cooked it, Brennan waited in hope for her food to comfort him again.
And true enough, his mood did improve slightly. Booth perched on the edge of the counter and teased her a little. "Not like my French Toast…."
Possibly a manifestation of her unease, the words were blurted out without thought, something she rarely did. "Oh, I make French Toast now."
Almost immediately, she wished she could call them back because Booth's body had tensed.
A long, awkward silence ensued. Booth gazed down at his plate. Brennan stood rigid, sensing they were out of balance, yet she was very unclear on what had happened. All of the warmth had left her kitchen, leaving her with shivers and a tight sensation in her chest.
She watched her partner's face almost desperately, searching for a signal to guide her.
Once again, her sense of timing and appropriate social interaction was askew. She stumbled over her spoken words far more often than she liked, but usually with Booth she never needed to be on guard. He loved her. He always seemed to know what she meant, or at least he tried to. The man standing in front of her seemed almost like a stranger at that moment.
He looked blank, yet his face was set in harsher lines than she was used to seeing. A face flashed in her mind's eye, harsh, eyes afire. Brennan felt an ancient panic nipping at the edges of her composure but she pushed it away determinedly. This was Booth, not….
They were saved by his ringing phone. "Booth. … Right. … Great. On our way." He hung up and turned back to her. The storm clouds that had unnerved her seemed to have dissipated during the phone call. "Well, business as usual."
Brennan summoned a weak smile, relieved to have an escape from the tension. Relieved that they were okay. "I'll get Christine ready for daycare."
She didn't know he wasn't looking at her when she left the room. If she had, she might have realized that they weren't okay.