This is a birthday fic for JMHaughey, and it is almost a year late. Classic sunsetdreamer.
Jaime, together we have stormed cupcake trucks and glared at RositaLG (which she totally deserved because what kind of person takes someone up a mountain and LIES to them about doughnuts?). I have a sweater of yours that I wear about once a week to work. All these things a good friendship do make. So I'm sorry I failed on the bday front last year. Hopefully this sort of makes up for it.
Disclaimer: There's this book called the Lover's Dictionary, and I read it and fell in love with the style. Then I found the Twitter account LoversDiction, which follows the spirit of the book, but tweetstyle. It's a story told through a series of definitions, and RositaLG gave me ten random numbers which were used to pull ten random tweets, and those ten tweets were used as the starting point for B&B snapshots. I guess if I were to be honest I would have to admit that if I could be a real writer, this is the kind of abstract thing I'd like to accomplish, and weaving pieces of it into fic makes me feel sort of close, ha. I hope you're entertained :)
deface, v.: You can't pass a WET PAINT sign without ripping off the T. It's gotten to the point that I do it when you're not there.
"So someone dumped the body in the lake-
"River," Brennan interrupts without looking up from the skeleton.
Above her, Booth glares, but he grits his teeth and focuses on his notepad and reminds himself that he doesn't strangle girls.
Not even really, really annoying ones.
"...dumps the body in the river and then waits for Mother Nature to-
"'Mother Nature' is an incredibly elementary - not to mention insulting - manner of referencing a very complex cycle of-
"Can you not?" Booth flips the miniature notebook shut and jams it in his pocket. "Can you just let me think for two damn seconds without talking?"
Immediately, Brennan is not only offended, but angry. Because her time is valuable and he has absolutely no consideration, no appreciation, for everything she contributes to these investigations.
On days like today, she really wonders why the hell she ever agreed to work with him again.
He's glowering above her, waiting for a response, and she stands quickly to equalise their heights.
"I suspect that we would both be much happier if you weren't always thinking such stupid things aloud."
"I have more important things to focus on right now than whether it's a pond or lake or river or stream or puddle or a goddamn ocean, okay? If that's the sort of useless trivia that gets you off-
"It's not useless. Or trivial. I can't work like this! I can't work with people who see no value in knowledge!"
She crosses her arms and Booth's arms automatically fold as well. "Don't even try to tell me that you take it well when you get corrected. Wanna see what I mean? Here; I'll give you some examples. Two birds with one stone, between a rock and a hard place, broad side of a barn, raining cats and dogs... idioms are not that hard! Kindergarteners can grasp them!"
He thinks of kindergarteners and his mind instantly jumps to his son. And in the heat of the moment he comes close to stressing this point before the part of his brain not pulsing with irritation remembers that Brennan doesn't know he has a son.
God knows what she would have to say about that.
They're staring one another down again and though they haven't been working together especially long, the crime scene techs and cops have learned to give them space when their voices rise.
Unfortunately, today's rookie hadn't received the memo.
They answer in unison. Again. There will come a time when they find private amusement reflecting on these early moments of unintentional, undesired synchronisation. Today, however, neither of them are particularly amused.
"For the last time, me; Agent Booth. You: squint."
"Stop calling me that!"
They've been doing well as partners these last few weeks. Developed an armistice of sorts. They've begun to display a somewhat begrudging gratitude toward one another at the end of cases and they do not, they do not talk about that thing that they had almost done last year.
(though it's there between them, always, in the spaces between their words)
But they have cracks. They are both accustomed to being in control, to being in command, and it's difficult to function as a team when they have been alone in so many respects for the majority of their adult lives.
So they take turns shoving and being shoved in return.
"Just wondering how many more water samples you'd like us to take, sir," the tech speaks hesitantly.
They hear him but they don't process the words right away, and there's this awkward second where the three of them simply stare at one another before Brennan demands an absurd quantity of water that will of course pose a maximum inconvenience to every cop and technician on the scene.
Booth is still annoyed, but he doesn't interrupt while she gives her orders and he backs her up in no uncertain terms when he catches the technicians exchanging looks of disbelief. Because she's his partner and regardless of how he feels about her in this very moment, this is something he already just does. God knows why.
It takes another two hours, but eventually the crime scene gets sorted and the body - plus a million tons of river water - is shipped off to the Jeffersonian.
The silence that begins the moment they shut themselves in his SUV is only broken by Brennan slamming the door as hard as she can when he drops her off at the lab.
The weekend comes and with it, forty eight straight hours with his son. Booth leaves work more-than-a-little-early on Friday so that he can pick Parker up from his half day at school; it's not something he can manage every visit – out of so many things he loves about his job, the inconsistency in hours is something he could often do without – but he wants to start this weekend in particular well before the usual dinner time. He's missed the last two visits with Parker – once because of work, once because of Rebecca – and though they've talked on the phone, he can never banish the crippling fear that his son is one missed visit away from forgetting him.
He holds his breath when he turns into the brightly decorated classroom, though he doesn't realise this until his four year old screams daddy at the top of his lungs and charges at him full force.
Booth releases the breath in the form of a laugh and lifts the small boy off his feet before he has a chance to crash and injure himself. "Hey, Buddy!"
"I missed you." Parker keeps his talon-like grip on Booth's suit jacket, but he pulls back far enough to look his father in the eye and tilt his head accusingly. "It's been forever."
Booth's throat tightens and he clears it gently. "I know, bub. But we've got the whole weekend, right? It's gonna be great. Knuckles."
Parker grins and untangles one hand just long enough to pound Booth's outstretched fist enthusiastically. "Let's go!"
They stop at the apartment first. Booth changes and then bites back a smile when Parker tears through his overnight bag until he finds an outfit that is somewhat similar.
"Can we go see the fish?"
"How about we eat something first, huh?"
"But I'm not hungry, dad." He grabs Booth's hand and tries to pull him toward the door, struggling comically when Booth doesn't budge.
"Come on; we'll be quick. And then we can spend as much time looking at the fish as you want, okay?"
Parker pouts for a minute but Booth has learned that I'm not hungry actually means I'm not hungry right now, but I will be in twenty minutes and I may have a meltdown if my needs are not promptly met.
Yes. He may only get to spend every other weekend with Parker, but he's learned so much. He can recognise when he's tired, when he's sick, when he's hungry or upset or over stimulated and anything in between. And as long as this stands, Booth can try to convince himself that it's enough.
(though it really doesn't ever, ever feel like enough)
They eat grilled cheese sandwiches with tomato soup and though Parker makes a valiant attempt to inhale his food and hurry them along, he sidetracks himself so often by talking that the whole process of getting out the door is guaranteed to take twice as long as it theoretically should.
"How come there's no whales at the aquarium?"
"Whales need a lot of room, Parks. There wouldn't be enough space for one at the aquarium."
"I watched a movie called 'Free Willy' with mom one time."
He jumps out of his seat, stares up at the ceiling and throws one hand up in the air over his head in what Booth views as a fairly impressive imitation of the classic movie cover.
"Did you know that an Orca whale and a Killer whale are the same thing, daddy?"
"Yeah? That's pretty cool."
"They're my favourite kind of fish."
"Whale," Booth corrects absently.
He freezes with his spoon halfway to his mouth and wonders where that had come from. It's not the kind of small detail he would generally feel any need to correct.
Parker frowns, evidently as thrown by the interruption as his father. "It's the same thing."
Booth shakes his head. "Whales are mammals. They have live babies instead of laying eggs, and they breathe air just like people. A fish is..." his voice trails off as he tries to remember the specific category 'fish' falls under, and eventually he shrugs. "A fish is a fish."
Parker's eyes narrow suspiciously as he climbs back into his seat and takes a hearty bite of his sandwich. "How come a whale has to be a mammal but a fish gets to be just a fish?"
Booth is still trying to pinpoint what prompted him to go down this road in the first place instead of just letting his kid be a kid and talk, and when he takes too long to answer the question, Parker issues a louder demand for his attention.
"Daddy? Daddy why?"
"Why? Because... because..." he sits up in his seat as a conversation with his partner trickles into memory. He is apparently not nearly as good at tuning her out as he thinks he is. "... because fish are paraphyletic organisms. And it's a big word to remember, so we just say fish."
The fact that he can't, to save his life, actually remember what 'paraphyletic' even means is beside the point.
"Paraphyletic." The word emerges clumsily, but correctly. "Paraphyletic and mammals."
"Right," Booth nods with a smile.
Parker takes another few spoonfuls of soup as he absorbs this and then he lets the utensil rest in the bowl with a small clink. "Daddy?"
"You're way smarter than mommy's boyfriend."
Booth grins widely and concludes that maybe, every so often, the nonstop lecturing he endures from Dr. Temperance Brennan has its benefits.
"Well, your daddy works with scientists, remember? They know all sorts of cool things."
"Can I meet the scientists?"
Booth thinks of Brennan; of her lack of an edit filter and her penchant for saying anything and everything he never wants her to say. Of the bug and slime guy and his constant ranting and raving. The artist who is forever undressing him with her eyes without even having the decency to try and hide it. By the time his thoughts drift to his partner's weirdo intern and his constant staring, Booth's mind is made up.
No. No way in hell is he bringing his child anywhere near those people. Five minutes would cause enough damage for Rebecca to never let him keep Parker again.
"We'll see," he answers nonchalantly. "Maybe."
"I know another mammal," Parker states confidently.
"You know what else is a mammal?"
"You got it, pal."
"You know what else is a mammal?"
"You know what else is a mammal?"
Booth resigns himself to the fact that the next hour is going to pass with Parker working his way through every animal he knows.
And as they step into the hallway half an hour later, Parker holding his hand and skipping alongside him still spouting off mammals, Booth has never been happier.
Monday is bittersweet. He has fresh memories of fifty three straight hours spent with his son but he also bears the knowledge that it will be nearly two weeks before the cycle repeats itself (he does not dwell on the ever-present possibility that it will be even longer).
But he's working on being a better person. On being less angry. So even though it would be so easy to spend this first day after a visit cutting everyone around him to pieces, he buys two coffees and shows up unannounced on Brennan's doorstep.
The door swings open and there she is, in all her brilliant (and annoyed) glory. "Booth, what are you doing here?"
"Picking up my partner and bringing her with me to talk to our vic's family."
Brennan eyes him warily. "You're taking me with you. Without me asking."
"Yeah, Bones, that's what I just said."
"Don't call me Bones," she insists for the millionth time, snatching the proffered cup from his hand.
"You're cranky this morning."
"I am not 'cranky'."
"Usually it's you getting me all cranky. This is an ironic turn of events."
It's an intentional mistake, but she doesn't know him well enough to recognise these yet. Though she will. Sooner than either of them think.
"There is nothing ironic about what you just said. There are three accepted forms of irony; I'm assuming you were attempting situational irony, however-
She cuts herself off and glares at him, lifting her chin defiantly as she waits for him to snap at her.
Booth casually presses the button for the elevator and takes a sip of his coffee. "Please; go on. Positional irony?"
"Situational irony." He's doing something. And though it bothers her a great deal that she can't quite figure it out, she shelves this irritation and finishes her thought. "And while I suppose you could form a case in support of your statement..."
Brennan's voice becomes a comforting sort of background chatter before they even reach the ground floor. Booth is enjoying it, but she comes to yet another abrupt stop when they reach his vehicle and begins glaring at him anew.
"You're being very..." she struggles briefly to find the right word, "... tolerant. Why?"
"I just had a good weekend, Bones. That's all."
Brennan accepts this tentatively. Mainly because doing anything else would mean acknowledging impulses based on something outside of the facts. And she won't give him the satisfaction.
But he continues being nice to her, even after she chastises him for opening her car door. Even after she tells him again that her name is not Bones. Even after she says something (evidently) inappropriate to his boss and even after she leaves him alone with Zack while she takes a call that (admittedly) could have waited.
And she moves from tentative acceptance to just... acceptance.
"I'm glad you had a good weekend," she offers somewhat awkwardly.
"Thanks, Bones. Me too."