Written for biba79's Live Journal Secret Santa Challenge and dedicated to 1cosmicgirl. Her wish list included B&B in a hot dance scene, pre hook up. Merry Christmas, lovely – hope this is what you wished for!
Molte, molte grazie to FauxMaven for her exemplary beta skills! ;p
Disclaimer: The only thing I own is my soul, and I even lend that out on occasion, but only if you ask nice. Anything that even looks familiar in this story probably belongs to someone else (except the actual story - that's all mine, Mine, MINE [*maniacal laughter*]!)
The Bump in the Grind
A Carpark in Cumberland, Maryland: 7pm Friday
"Booth! Your foot is on my dress." Brennan wriggled around in the backseat, gently pulling at the handkerchief hem of the formal dress she was struggling to put on. Although the finished effect would doubtless be elegant, the process was anything but.
Booth swung his leg out of her way and hastily tucked the tail of his crisp white shirt into his waistband. He glanced over at his partner. She had her back to him, the bodice of her dress around her waist, and he tried not to stare as she twisted her torso to slip the slender straps over her shoulders, one by one. The early evening light outlined the play of muscles across her back and arms and he had trouble taking his next breath. He looked away, lost in his own thoughts.
He snapped back to attention, and clipped the bow tie to his shirt collar resolutely. "Say what, Bones?"
Her voice shook a little as she tucked a stray tendril of hair behind her ear, and leaned in close to him, "Do you think anybody saw us?" Her face was flushed and the words whispered across his cheek. He stilled, and his stomach flipped at the thought of what could happen. "I hope not Bones. I don't think either of us needs any more complications tonight."
He tucked the file of papers under the back seat, stowed his weapons securely in the glovebox and checked his pockets one last time. They were ready.
Three Hours Earlier
"The paper trail stops in San Francisco a week ago. And nothing since then. Zip. Nada." Booth slammed the file back on his desk, frustration lending force to the action. Sweets edged back in his chair, sensing Booth's no-go zone just kicked out a little wider.
They were both silent. Brennan and her team had identified the killer of a teenager who'd found himself caught up in Mob business, and the FBI had pulled out all the stops trying to track him down. But Ribisi kept evading them, slipping out of their grasp at the last second. Booth checked his phone again. Nothing. Disappointment and irritation vied for dominance on his face.
The young psychologist frowned as a thought occurred to him, "Didn't you tell me that Ribisi's daughter was getting married soon?"
Booth swung a dark look at Sweets, "Yeah, so what?"
"When's the wedding?"
Long fingers ruffled through the file he'd just discarded, sheets of paper spilling onto the desk as Booth scanned for the information. "Today. Six o'clock." He looked up at Sweets speculatively, "What are you thinking?"
The younger man jumped to his feet, excitement widening his eyes, "Family is primo important to Ribisi; there's no way he's going to miss his little girl's wedding."
Booth snorted despite himself, "Little girl? She's forty-two and weighs 200 pounds!" He ignored the wry look shot in his direction as the significance of what Sweets had just said struck him like a mallet.
"He's going to be there, isn't he?" Booth didn't wait for Sweets' reply as the adrenalin of the hunt flushed through his veins, renewing him. He hit the first stored number on his cell phone and waited impatiently for it to answer, one hand fretfully jiggling the change in his pocket.
"Ribisi won't make this easy, he'll have his goons lined up six deep." Sweets said as his own pulse begin to race; he loved being part of the whole FBI agent scene. He wondered guiltily whether he'd cleaned his gun after his last session at the range. "Are you calling for more agents for reinforcement?"
A wide smile spread across Booth's handsome face, "Better than that ... Bones?" He turned his attention to his partner on the other end of the line, "Wanna go to a wedding?"
The Same Carpark in Cumberland, Maryland: 7:10pm Friday
"I still don't understand why you insisted we go undercover like this." Brennan tugged at the bodice of her tight-fitting dress as they got out of the shiny black Cadillac XTS Booth had insisted she rent as part of their cover. At least they'd been comfortable on the two hour drive to Maryland. "Wouldn't it be more logical for the FBI to mount a full frontal armed attack and snitch Rick Ribisi bodily from the wedding?"
"Keep your voice down!" Booth hissed, "The word is 'snatch', Bones, and no it wouldn't." He looked uneasily around the carpark of the secluded convention center hosting the wedding reception; it was full to overflowing. It looked like he and Brennan had made it just in time. "They'll be expecting something like that and Ribisi will have plenty of protection lined up." The hills of Rocky Gap State Park surrounded the resort, nestled at the edge of a huge lake; the isolated position could work both for and against them. He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards him, flinging a casual arm around her shoulders. "This way is better: We get in, we eyeball Ribisi, we get out. Then the tac team goes in. Easy."
"Your plan is simple, but I very much doubt it will be easy." Brennan's lips primmed to a thin line but she didn't falter as they took their place with the other guests waiting to enter the function.
Booth kept his voice low, "Our friend might not even show - things have been pretty hot for him these last few weeks." They edged forward and Booth seemed to really see Brennan's outfit for the first time.
"Hey. Wow. I meant to tell you, you look ... amazing. Where did you find that dress?"
"Ange got it for me while I organized the delivery of the car." Brennan self-consciously ran her hands down the figure hugging blue satin. "She said it would be appropriate for a Mob wedding. Is it appropriate?"
Booth stole a moment to let his eyes drink in the sight of his partner's luscious form before his brows shot up and he grinned appreciatively, "I'd say it was perfect." Brennan had spent part of the two hour drive to Maryland reacquainting herself with the file and the rest doing mysterious things with makeup, a hairbrush, and a tiny hand-held mirror. The transformation was complete ... and extremely hot. No-one in the crush of guests would believe she was a forensic anthropologist working with the FBI. She was certified coumare material now, no doubt about it. Booth's eyes sidled away self-consciously and they both fell silent, ostensibly studying the other waiting guests.
The reception line nudged forward; no-one was escaping scrutiny. As they got to the front, a well-muscled behemoth in an ill-fitting dinner suit stopped them with a look. He put one beefy hand on Booth's chest and snapped the fingers of his other hand mutely while running a dispassionate eye over Brennan. Booth glared at him, but complied with his unspoken demand and handed over the document that they were counting on to get them into the soiree. The wedding invitation had been sitting in the file, obtained by chance through a routine search conducted at the apartment of a minor Mob player as part of Ribisi's pursuit. Happily said minor Mob player and his minor Mob wife were currently in custody for questioning.
Booth was on edge although it didn't show. If their cover was going to be blown, it could well be here at the door before they even got in. He'd carefully weighed the risks of their being exposed. He was confident that the blushing bride's guest list, if she ran true to form, would probably fill the Super Bowl. However if there was anybody attending who knew the real Mr and Mrs Donato from the invitation he had to make damn sure they didn't cross paths. Once inside they could drop the Donato name and lower the risk of discovery.
Booth endured the obligatory pat down with good grace; even though it felt wrong, common sense told him he shouldn't be carrying a weapon in these circumstances which was why he'd left everything secured in the car. With a curt nod the bouncer passed them through. Booth let go the breath he hadn't realized he'd been holding as they were ushered to an empty table for eight near the kitchen doors.
"We're in!" Booth's expression was jubilant as he scanned the crowded room from the safety of their innocuous position. The celebration was well and truly under way. "With any luck we'll spot Ribisi and be out of here pronto. Then the Quantico boys can do their thing."
Brennan was looking around, a dippy smile plastered on her face. Her hair, her makeup, that dress - his partner really did 'mafia moll' well, Booth decided, feeling a not unreasonable sense of pride. Now if only she could keep it up they'd be fine. His confidence in her took a dive when she seemed to go into rictus and muttered from the corner of her mouth, "I don't see the perpetrator anywhere, Booth."
"Relax, Bones. Act natural. Well, act. Remember we're Tony and Roxy now. Ribisi's not going to be out in the middle of the dance floor, shaking his booty. We're going to have to be patient." He grabbed a couple of champagne flutes from a passing waiter and handed her one. "Here. This'll help."
"I believe we are about to have some company." Brennan pinned the saccharine smile to her lips again. A few more stragglers had joined them, pulling up a couple of extra chairs to accommodate their whole party which meant that they were all just about sitting in each other's laps. Brennan scooted her place closer to Booth, their thighs wedged against each other. Booth went rigid at the unexpected contact, then made himself relax.
Without introducing themselves, their uninvited table mates called for food and a waiter appeared as if out of thin air, tray piled with steaming plates. Within moments everyone at the table had been served and the newcomers launched into an animated conversation conducted entirely in Italian, attacking their first course with gusto.
An hour later even Booth was having trouble keeping the smile pinned in place. Their neighbors, obviously small time borgata, were a rough lot. A little alcoholic lubrication had been enough to start sending the men's X-rated interest Brennan's way, to the fury of their dates. And Booth. To give Brennan her due, she was giving as good as she got, fending off their advances in her best Roxy voice and even better Roxy attitude. In fact, she seemed to be getting right into the whole experience. Booth found himself spending less and less time looking for Ribisi and more time trying to tamp down on the impulse to punch out all of the men at the table. And one or two of the women as well.
He stood up abruptly, reaching to pull Brennan up with him. "Let's dance."
"Wait, B- er,babe." She injected a whiny tone into her voice. "I haven't finished my dessert. It's tiramisu!"
Pretentious Goatee on Booth's left snorted loudly, "Don't you know how to keep your puttanti under control, man?" He lifted one arm and mimed a backhander which earned him a swift, hard jab from his girlfriend and a stream of invectives from the other women at the table.
Booth put as much distance as he could between them and the trouble erupting at their table. It had already escalated; hand gestures were devolving into punches. Booth hid a grin; Pretentious Goatee's girlfriend had an impressive left hook. He hastily drew Brennan onto the packed dance floor. She followed his lead, a snug fit in his arms, and they began to move half heartedly to the rapid beat of the music. He watched, amused, as two heavies grabbed Pretentious Goatee and his girlfriend and hauled them away with a minimum of fuss.
Brennan leant in close and spoke against his ear, sending a shockwave through him at the unexpected contact. "I have to admit that the interactions we witnessed during dinner were fascinating, on an anthropological level. There may even be a paper in it." She paused and shot him an inquisitive look, "What exactly is a puttanti? I'm assuming it represents some level of intimate relationship between a man and a woman?"
The way Brennan could swap from Roxy to real life anthropologist made Booth's head spin, but she was looking at him expectantly for an answer.
"I guess you could say that, Roxy." He replied, his expression rigid.
"Is it like 'girlfriend', or more like 'wife'? There are conflicting views about the status of each relationship in modern sub-cultures."
"Not exactly. A bit more casual than that, I think. Drop it, okay?" The topic was making him very uncomfortable and he willed her to let it go. But it seemed any influence he had over her fell short when she opened her mouth to quiz him again. This time he cut her off, his tone distinctly tetchy. "Jeez Louise, just google it when you get home, OK?"
"But, Booth -"
"Ixnay, Roxy." His voice was audible only to her but the exasperation in his tone brought her up short when he continued, "Undercover, remember? You're the anthropologist - observe the locals for crying out loud!"
Brennan ducked her head, muttering a stilted apology and a promise to put more effort into her dance moves to make up for getting sidetracked. Booth gave her shoulders a reassuring squeeze and continued scanning the crowd for the elusive Ribisi; it was starting to look like this operation might be a washout. Being philosophical about it was all well and good, but it was still goddamn frustrating. He amused himself for a few minutes watching the gyrations of the other couples on the floor. Some of them were blatantly sexual and he wondered fleetingly whether they would even be legal in a public place.
When Brennan's hip slid against his groin, Booth politely backed off a little, guessing she'd been jostled by another dancer. The activity around them was frenetic, the music loud with a heavy beat. A moment later it happened again and he swung back to Brennan to apologize. What he saw left his throat dry, the words lodged in his mouth. Brennan speared him with an ice blue look, raw sexual predation in her eyes. He couldn't move, his astonishment was so intense. When she ran her tongue across her lips and dragged her hands over her belly and torso in the most suggestive way possible, he blushed and almost tripped. When her fingers reached her breasts, curved and ready to cup them in a deliberately sexual proposition, Booth almost lost it right there on the dance floor. He grabbed both her hands in his, stalling their movement, and swung her around in a parody of a pirouette in a desperate effort to regain control.
His astonishment turned to shock when she went with the momentum and leaned back into him, leaving his arm wrapped around her. He could feel the tantalizing weight of her breasts against his forearm. What the hell is she up to? He wondered desperately. She didn't give him time to work it out, shimmying down against him and twisting up again in one lithe movement. Booth found his pulse racing wildly but he tried to remain composed, as if his partner rubbed herself against him on a daily basis. With a jolt, he realised that several couples had backed off from them, giving Brennan more room to perform. She smiled seductively at him and continued to move in ways she could only have learned at pole dancing classes, only tonight he was the pole. Booth followed as best he could, determined to keep up with her. He was vaguely aware that some of the other couple were clapping and egging Brennan on, but he was in such a daze that he could barely take it in.
Booth felt sweat break out across his forehead. He was being driven mad by the light touches of his partner against parts of his body that were rarely, if ever, touched in public. When Brennan moved in close, spreading her hands across his chest, he held her there for a moment, "I gotta tell you I'm getting a little bit turned on here, Bones. I mean-"
Brennan's eyes were wide with exhilaration, "I know what that means, Booth." She spun away with a flourish, trailing her fingers across his back. Someone let out a loud wolf whistle.
"Ah, I don't think you really do, Bones." He muttered to himself. Booth didn't know how much more of this he could take. Finally the music started to wind down and Brennan moved back into his arms, reaching up to touch his face tenderly as the last few notes faded away, "Booth."
He waited for the staccato smattering of applause at the conclusion of their dance to die down before he tried to talk to her again. With an arm around her shoulders he led her away from the dance floor, "Listen Bones, these feelings that we-"
"Booth-" Brennan pulled away a little, a frown forming between her brows.
"I know, I know - it's something we really need to talk -"
Brennan turned him 180 degrees until he was facing towards a grey haired man in his sixties dancing with a large woman in a too-tight wedding dress on the other side of the room.
A bar in Washington DC: 2am Saturday
"Another one bites the dust, eh Bones?" Booth raised his glass to her and grinned cheerfully. They were still in their formal dress, if a little worse for wear than when they'd started the evening. Booth's tie was missing, there was diesel oil daubed from ankle to thigh on both his trouser legs as well as a large tear in the pocket of his rented tuxedo jacket that meant he'd never be getting his deposit back. His left eye would probably be black and blue tomorrow. Brennan's hair was now flat and bedraggled, her makeup smeared badly and her dress sported a split to the thigh that wasn't part of the designer's original plan. Getting Ribisi into custody had been ... interesting.
Brennan flicked her partner a weak smile in response to the toast, but a tiny frown still creased her brows.
"What's up? We got the bad guy - again. That's a good thing. You're allowed to gloat, just a little bit." He downed his shot in one appreciative gulp and held up the empty glass to the barman.
Brennan sighed and sat up straighter, lifting her drink to her lips resolutely. The alcohol slid down her throat and she tapped the bar for a refill. She gulped half of the next shot before she spoke again.
"I liked the way it felt dancing with you."
Booth's hand froze with the glass halfway to his lips. "You mean when you were doing the whole Rydell High dance-off routine?" he joked. "I know I told you to observe the natives, but I never thought you'd take it so seriously."
"I - I liked getting you 'turned on'. It - I - felt powerful." Brennan kept her eyes downcast, unsure of how her words would be received.
Her revelation staggered Booth and he didn't have a clue how to respond. His mind raced; so many things he wanted to say, so many things he couldn't.
When he didn't answer Brennan glanced up at him, her gaze arrested by the play of emotions across his face. She waited for a few heart-crushing moments before taking pity on his struggle.
"It's okay Booth." Her tone was perfunctory, "I acknowledge that just because we have these feelings doesn't mean we have to act on them. Right? Our partnership is more important. Right?" The look on her face was unconsciously touched with pleading.
Booth stared deep into her eyes and swallowed, hard, his mouth suddenly dry. "Right. Yeah, right Bones. Our partnership is more important."
Brennan tossed back the last of her drink in one quick swallow and stood up, shrugging into her coat, "We did good tonight. See you tomorrow, Booth."
Booth let the ghost of a smile serve as his response, raised his hand in a small salute and ordered another shot. Just one of many that night.