Disclaimer: I don't own Bones and am pleased to give all due credit to the writers who wrote Judas on a Pole just after which this story is imagined to have taken place.
A/N: Thank you to dharmamonkey for her last minute beta work, the quote from Henry V, and for being the reason S.P.Q.R. made it into the story.
Thank you to DWBBfan who inspired the story through a twitter post-ep conversation when she remarked that Brennan really did love to go undercover and wouldn't someone write a story about that. Here it is. Hope you like it. Another person involved in this post ep convo was Jazzyproz who helped with the motorcycle vocab in this story. Thanks.
Thank you to everyone who reads and everyone who reviews this story, or my other stories. Doing this has been wildly entertaining, educational, and humbling. Thanks.
Happy Two days after the New England Blizzard of 2013,
"O for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Beginning of Prologue in Shakespeare's Henry V
Booth felt nervous all of a sudden. What if she didn't want to do this with him? What if she thought it was stupid? Damn it, why did he do this? Someone slipping past him to go into Bones' building brought him back to himself, standing on the sidewalk outside in indecision. Booth shrugged. Even if she didn't want to dress up, to be Roxie, they would still have a good time. Giving her a good time was something her partner should do for her, right?
At her door minutes later, blowing air out silently one last time, Booth leaned his left hand against the door frame, bent his head, and knocked. Listened. Knocked again, hoping for a sign. And, as if on cue, it came.
"Coming, coming. Hold your horses already, Tony!" The door sprung inward and Bones...Roxie...stood there, in the black dress, the black dress, smiling saucily at him with her shiny red lips.
"Hiya, Tony." Brennan leaned forward and kissed him on the cheek, a swirl of expensive perfume, hair spray, and Bones wrapping around him like a lasso. Her scent slowed time and for the five seconds until it dissipated, Booth lived each of those seconds as if a whole minute, feeling the downy hair on her warm cheek against his cool, smoothly shaved one, getting a close look at the delicate shell of her ear, the dusting of freckles not quite concealed under powder, the electric blue of her eyes fixed on his as she drew away. And then the long, brilliant moment was over and Bones brought one painted red nail to press lightly upward on his jaw, "Close your mouth, baby. Something could fly in."
Booth shook himself and got in character. "I know, Rox, but man...you look good enough to eat." He grinned, wide and truthful, and, leaned back theatrically and for once, let his eyes openly roam, checking out his girlfriend...partner's...body from her toeless black pumps to her curled chestnut hair. She was gorgeous, just as gorgeous as he remembered, and if his eyes lingered a little longer on the curves of her breasts than on the rest of her, who was going to complain?
She twirled for him, showing off her dress with a laugh, and then sashayed back into the apartment.
"Let me get my coat, Tony, and we can go. Where ya taking me, anyway?" Brennan grabbed a red silk wrap off one of the hooks by the door and slipped out into the hall past him. Once she had closed and locked the door behind her, he put his hand where he always put it: in the sweet spot in the small of her back. He was careful not to let it slip lower than usual; they might, after all, meet someone she knew in the elevator. Anyone seeing them-his fedora, suspenders, and observable jewelry and her skin tight dress, high heels, and overdone hair and makeup-might wonder if they were going to a fancy costume party, but he didn't want to raise any more questions than he had to. Booth was also mindful that he didn't want to send any mixed signals to her tonight. They left the building unobserved, exiting from the basement instead of the manned front door.
Booth hailed a cab when they reached the street, and gave the cabbie the address of the restaurant. Booth sat back and turned toward Bones.
"Booth?" she said clearly in her normal voice.
He answered in kind. "Yeah, Bones?" He smiled at her, trying to let her know, with his eyes, with his mouth, that this was for fun, that he thought she would have fun, doing this. She didn't look nervous, or conflicted, but she didn't answer for a long minute. When she did, he could tell she was searching for the words for what she wanted to say.
"You...bought the dress." It wasn't a question.
"Yes." He confessed.
"Why?" She asked, forthright as always.
"It's...It's a great dress, Bones." He smiled and looked up at her from under his brows. But she was watching him, her eyes hard to read in the darkness of the cab. "I dunno, just a whim really." He kept smiling, kept his voice casual, his body relaxed. "That dress looked great on you, and I was...pumped, I guess, from playing Tony and Roxie. So...when I went to return all the clothes, I just bought the dress. I figured I'd give it to you sometime, maybe we'd go to a Halloween party or something."
She made another statement. "Tony and Roxie are dating."
Trust Bones to just get it all out there. "Yeah, I guess they are."
"But we aren't." Again, a statement. He thinks it was a statement. I mean, it was a statement, and it is true. Also, she knows about Cam. But he and Cam aren't actually dating in the usual sense, but Bones probably doesn't know that. But still...she doesn't say anything else.
"No." He says finally. "No, we aren't. We'll just pretend, tonight. Like we did before, unless—"
She interrupted. "So Tony and Roxie are dating. They are probably very physical and you are usually very puritanical in your attitudes—"
"Hey! I am not puritanical, Bones, I am private—"
"Booth, I don't want to argue about this, I just want to suggest that hugging and holding hands and kissing on the cheek would seem in keeping with Roxie and Tony's relationship. But that anything beyond that would probably be inappropriate given our professional relationship and friendship."
Booth, still stung and feeling like she had called him a prude, agreed sullenly. "Fine."
"Fine." An uncomfortable silence rose up around them.
Her voice, tentative, broke it first. "Unless..." He could feel her eyes fixed on his in cab..."unless you don't want to."
"No, I want to. Do you want to? We could just go out, you know. As...us-"
"No, no...that's not what I...I mean, it's fine Booth. It'll be fun. I just wanted to make sure that I understood the boundaries of the invitation." He could see the outline of her body getting tenser, sharper, more Bones-like, less Roxie-like, and reached one arm around her and pulled her into a quick hug.
"C'mon, doll, lighten up. We make a great team." As she leaned into him, softening a little, he pressed a quick kiss to her temple. "Tony and Roxie take D.C., right?"
"Sure, Tony." Her voice sexier, confident again. She pushed back from him and he could feel the warmth of her hand pressed to his chest. "So, where are you takin' me? Somewhere classy, I hope."
Booth grinned at her. "Only the best for my girl, Rox. You'll see." Brennan relaxed back against the seat, pressed warm up against his side, letting his arm rest across her shoulders but otherwise not touching her. They passed the remaining time in the car in a more comfortable silence since it seemed that neither was sure how far the other wanted to take this.
They pulled up in front of the address that Booth had given the driver and Brennan exited the taxi first, looking with interest at an unfamiliar block, and an unfamiliar restaurant, while Booth paid. Famous author that she was, Booth thought a little more smugly than was strictly gentlemanly, she probably thought she knew all the best restaurants. Well this one was new and had a small mention in today's edition of the Washington Post. "SPQR" proclaimed the prominent black on white banner above the door. Brennan looked at him and grinned him as Roxie, "Italian, Tony? My favorite..."
"Only the best, Rox. Shall we?" Booth held out his arm.
Brennan hooked her left hand over his elbow and answered, allowing him to lead her down the few steps to the garden level restaurant, "We shall."
They were greeted at the door by a man in a green suit that covered a shiny fuschia shirt worn with a shiny turquoise tie. He looked young and some sort of partial Asian descent. Not the black-suited Italian maitre d' Booth was expecting. "Welcome to SPQR. Do you have a reservation?"
Booth answered in his New Jersey accent, "Yeah. I called earlier. Tony Brescia."
"Hi," Brennan said cheerfully, holding out her hand and shaking the man's hand. "I'm Roxie." She grinned at Tony.
The young man smiled back, shook her hand, and consulted a list. "Right this way." He turned and they followed him into the restaurant. Again, Booth's expectations were foiled. The interior was carefully lit, but not dim. Each table, in fact, seemed a little oasis of light in the twilight of the surprisingly spacious restaurant. Bright modern art hung on the walls and what sounded like Italian pop music played in the background. Waiters and waitresses eclectically dressed in fancy clothing flitted around taking orders and bringing food.
"I like it already, Tony!" Bones said with real animation. "Ooooh, look at the cute little bouquets of flowers on every table!"
When they reached the table, Booth stood behind her to take her wrap. She leaned forward and gave him a smile and a warm peck on the cheek, "Thanks, Babe."
Flush with surprise and the realization that she was all in, Booth shot her a cocky grin and a wink as he sat down. "Sure thing, Roxie. I like taking your clothes off you."
Brennan almost shouted in her surprised laughter and the man and woman approaching the table smiled at the sound.
"Mr. Brescia? I am Silvio Bressani, the owner, and this is my grandmother, Amalia." Silvio was dressed in a similar style to his host, blue suit, yellow shirt, orange tie, the top of a tattoo showing at the neck. His dark skin and hair made his ancestry believable but otherwise, with his slender build and chunky black glasses, he could have been any twentysomething DC up-and-comer. Amalia was tall and graceful, dark hair pulled back, although casually dressed in gray slacks and a white blouse.
"Nice to meet you. Tony Brescia. My girl Roxie." Booth and Brennan stood, shook hands with them both.
"Please sit. I usually come around and meet our guests. My grandmother, since she came a month ago, is usually hidden away in the kitchen," he smiled sweetly at her, "When she heard your name, though, she wanted to come say hello. But she is only here for a few months and doesn't speak any English."
Booth must have looked confused. "Bressani is another form of Brescia, if you didn't know. Chances are our relatives are from Lombardy, maybe even the city of Brescia." Amalia Bressani spoke to her grandson in a rush of Italian syllables.
Silvio translated. "She wonders if you know where your relatives are from or if you have ever been to Italy yourself.
Booth clearly at a loss, looked at Bones, who smiled and said, "Tony and me, our relatives came to Jersey so long ago that we don't know much. I'm sorry. But I did visit Lombardy once, with a friend from Jersey who was visiting her Gran. We visited Brescia." At the mention of Lombardy, and Brescia, Amalia smiled at Brennan and seemed to listen harder.
"You did?" Booth said, surprised, forgetting for a minute that Bones had been everywhere as far as he could tell.
"Yeah, Tony. It was before I met you, but it was nice there. We visited a church...Santa Guilia? And the capitoleum of ancient Rome too." She smiled at him and waved a hand. "The food was to die for. We had something...Pizzocheri?" Brennan looked to Amalia and Silvio for confirmation. Amalia grinned from ear to ear and said something to Silvio and rushed off.
Silvio looked bemused. "I hope you liked it, because I think you just ordered it."
Brennan smiled and nodded. "That's great. I've never seen them on the menu anywhere."
Silvio smiled again and said, "I'll let you look at the menu, decide what else you want and then come back in a few minutes for your order, okay?" Booth and Brennan ordered wine and an appetizer, Sausage Risotto for Booth.
Finally alone, Booth raised his glass between them. Brennan gamely clinked her glass to his and said, "What are we toasting, Tony?"
"To a night out with my girl, Roxie." Brennan touched her glass to his and drank, then shifted her glass to her left hand, holding out her right across the table. Booth did the same and they were holding hands, Brennan letting her thumb rub across his knuckles before flipping it over and peering at his palm. "Hey, Tony, you ever have your palm read?"
"What a load of baloney, Rox." Brennan laughed and flipped his hand back over. Booth wasn't sure what they were going to talk about for the rest of dinner and he was suddenly nervous. He wasn't sure he could make up a whole history for them on the spot. Once again, though, Brennan surprised him.
"Want to play a game, Tony?"
"What kind of game?"
"You say a name of someone famous then I'll say the name of someone famous. My person's first name has to start with the same letter as your person's last name. Okay?'
"Okay. You go first."
"Okay. Brian Greene."
"Physicist." Booth raised his eyebrows at her and she laughed, again a carefree burst of sound that Booth had heard all too rarely from her. Maybe this night really was going to be good for her.
"Fine," he said, "but I get to challenge you if I think you are making something up." Her eyes lit up. Both Roxie and Brennan liked a challenge.
"All right, but if you challenge and you're wrong that's got to count against you."
"And you too! How bout we each get three challenges? Getting caught in a lie is worth 1 point. Telling the truth and having someone accuse you of lying is worth 1 point. First person to 10 points wins."
Brennan's eyes were shining and she laughed again. "Deal. Brian Greene."
"The physicist, you mean?" Brennan laughed again. Booth smirked. "Okay. Geoff Sanderson."
"Number 8—plays Left Wing for the Flyers this year." Brennan looked into his eyes, trying to decide if he is lying.
"Sandra Day O'Connor"
"I know who she is." Booth smiled triumphantly. "Oscar Wilde."
And now Brennan smiled pleased with his choice. "Oh, I like him. He's very funny."
Booth confessed, pleased himself when he realizes they are still holding hands across the table. "I've never read him."
"You know, he said 'Illusion is the first of all pleasures'. I think he would have liked this evening." This time, Brennan's smile was all hers, crooked and a little sly. After a little pause, she said, "William Conrad Rontgen."
Booth thought for minute. "Challenge."
"Hah!" she laughed. "You lose. He's real! He was awarded the first Nobel Prize in 1901 for discovering x-rays."
"How do I know you are telling the truth now?" Brennan seemed to consider this seriously.
"Well, it is not feasible to look them all up here, in these circumstances, so we will just have to promise to tell the truth." Booth acquiesced. Her lightness of mood, even though she had slipped back into Brennan-speak, was good to see.
"Okay. So you have a point. Ryan Madison."
"You gave in very easily. I think you are trying to slip one past me by making one up right away. Challenge."
"Nope. Sorry. Number 63. Pitcher for the Phillies." Brennan's lips compressed in a frustrated line. Damn, she was cute when she was mad.
Just then the food arrived and Brennan said in a cheerful whine, "Tony, you can't always say baseball players and hockey players and basketball players. There's too many."
"That's just the way the cookie crumbles, baby. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." Booth smiled up at Silvio. "This is some service we're getting, Roxie. The owner himself waiting on us."
Brennan smiled up at Silvio and reached out and squeezed his arm, secure in Roxie's natural physicality, "I love your restaurant, Silvio. I think it's the prettiest restaurant I've ever been in!"
The strong line of her jaw, the bold curve of her expressive mouth, the intensity of her gaze, her obvious delight in the evening, all combined to make it impossible to look away from her. Silvio looked a little dazed to be the focus of her attention, and Booth couldn't blame him. Booth saw her almost every day and each of these things, in parts. Her intensity and curiosity, he saw often, but hemmed in by the serious nature of her work, whether a case they were working together or her own consideration of more ancient remains. Booth thought that playing Roxie was less about donning someone else's clothes, someone else's likes and dislikes, and more like letting loose her own hidden desires and preferences. He wondered if maybe he was seeing a different side of her, not just a character she had made up.
They ate and laughed, continuing to play the game. Bones was usually not a very good liar; he could always tell when she was lying to him, and almost always when she was lying to other people. But because she was playing Roxie, it was harder for Booth to tell if she was conning him. She managed to slip several fake scientists by him. How the hell would he know one scientist from another? He could barely tell the squints apart. She, on the other hand, seemed to assume that he was trying to trick her all the time, so he earned almost all his points by letting her challenge him falsely. In fact, he didn't make up a damn thing just let her think he was lying every once in awhile. In the end, she won, crowing and calling Silvio over to order a glass of celebratory champagne.
Maybe she would have won anyway, but when it came down to it, he just didn't care all that much. Laughing with her, sharing the bottle of wine, letting her feed him bites of her food, listening to her slide in and out of Roxie-speak was just so damn fun. It was the most fun he remembered having with a woman, outside of sex, in a long time. He thought fleetingly of Cam several times, feeling a little guilty, but he and Cam were almost entirely about sex. Beyond that, they were old friends. Booth didn't feel seriously about their relationship, although again, he felt the prick of anxiety that his ignorance of Cam's own feelings might lead him to hurt her.
Despite her complaints, he didn't let her order dessert, so as he settled the bill with Silvio, Bones asked if she could go thank Silvio's grandmother in the kitchen. Bones had always gone just where she wanted, and so had Roxie, he figured, so even as Silvio offered to take her, she strode away on her own to seek the older woman out. When Bones returned a few minutes later, her arm was linked in Amalia's and both women were smiling and laughing about something. Booth wasn't certain but he could swear they were speaking Italian.
Booth rose and suffered a hug from Silvio's grandmother himself. Silvio ducked behind the bar and returned with one of the tiny bouquets wrapped in a little ribbon. Presenting it to Bones, he said that he hoped they would both come back again before his grandmother had to return home. Brennan kissed his cheek and then allowed Booth to settle her wrap around her shoulders, pressing back into him so that it was the most natural thing in the world to wrap his arm around her and hold her close against his side.
Again, Booth was struck by how easy it was to be with her like this, not at all like playing a part. What was unusual was how close she was allowing him to get to her, and how often she was getting close to him. He would recognize her unique scent anywhere but tonight he felt wrapped in it.
As they stood on the street outside of the restaurant, considering the best direction to walk to get a taxi, Roxie leaned into him again, her arm slipping around his waist. "Tony, you picked a great place to have dinner."
He let himself reach out and stroke her face with the fingers of one hand, "I'm glad you liked it, Babe." His breath caught in his throat as she leaned in closer, and spoke into his ear.
"I told Amalia." He pulled back enough to see her eyes, surprised. She laughed a little. "I forgot and started speaking in Italian to her. So I told her we were pretending to not be ourselves tonight, for fun. She was very amused." As if she suddenly realized how close their faces were, she pulled away from him quickly and stumbled a little as she said, "Where are you taking me next, Tony?"
He reached out to steady her and reeled her back in against his side. To hell with tomorrow. Tonight they were Roxie and Tony. "You'll see, doll." Bones smiled at him, relieved, and leaned against him long enough to take his hand. He twined his fingers through hers and they walked a few blocks before finding a cab.
Sometimes when people talk, I just hear noise. I don't know why. But I know this didn't start when my parents left. It was a part of me long before that. Russ and my teachers often complained that I wasn't listening or that I had stopped listening. My parents were better, understood me better, and one of the things I remember most about my mother was her hands, the way they felt, because they were often touching me. A touch on the shoulder or hand or my face, could bring my focus to her or to the world around me, one which was often changed since the last time I observed it.
Being undercover with Booth, playing Roxie to his Tony tonight, obviated the need for all the personal strategies I had put in place to adjust for this. It took me until we were conversing at SPQR (I even love the name, how clever of Silvio) to realize why I felt so liberated. The new, constructed, reality has its own rules and it takes focus and attention to stay within the bounds of the structure. Like a musician playing jazz. I am to pay attention to everything Booth says and does, and he will be paying equally close attention to me. I am to pay attention and react to stimuli in my environment only in the context of what Roxie would respond to, although I can respond as me as long as it doesn't violate the illusion. I don't have to pay any attention at all to anyone else. What a relief.
This night for me was like a play, each scene carefully chosen to tell the whole story. I have little memory of the cab ride to the zoo, or any of the other people there. I don't know where we drove, what places we passed, or what the other vehicles on the road looked like. And yet, my memory of Booth seems unbroken. One continuous reel of sight and sound, touch and smell. The pressure of his hand at my back. The sinewy strength of his torso as I lean against him. The scent of his aftershave and the smell of his leather jacket under my cheek. The way he laughs low and sexy as Tony, in response to something suggestive Roxie said. There is often a hint of gratifying surprise, however, in these laughs. Gratifying because I have surprised him by being so bold and he is pleased that I am and I am pleased that he is pleased. We're pleased.
If tonight is a play then the first scene would have been the texts and me finding the dress at my apartment. Prologue: The Set Up. Next...
Act 1: Roxie and Tony Eat Dinner at an Italian Restaurant.
Both extremely entertaining but the audience has not yet been drawn entirely into the world created by the playwright. That, that, happens in Act 2: Roxie and Tony go to the Zoo, Eat Dessert, and Take a Ride
I look into Booth's face, alternately in shadow or light depending on where we are on the makeshift dance floor. I hate zoos—hate the way the animals are locked up—but a late night event to view the nocturnal animals in our own zoo, the National Zoo, with its origins as a preserve for endangered native American species and its mission of wildlife education, is a little different. In addition, it turns out that Roxie loves zoos. A fact she is not shy of sharing. I feel bubbles of laughter rising from my belly at how fun it is to be her, to be Roxie, and myself at the same time. The warm tide of wine and champagne seems only to bring things in sharper focus. The tickets must have covered the entire cost of the event because clever tuxedo clad waiters and waitresses keep coming to bring me champagne off their little trays.
"Tony," I say, my voice low and husky from the long day, the alcohol, and the almost continuous talking and laughing during dinner, as well as during the lovely tour of the living creatures who populate the nighttime zoo.
His hand brushes my hair off my shoulder, a lovely sweep of sensation on my bare shoulder. It is cool but he is warm and I like the night air on my naked skin too much to wear my wrap.
His dark eyes glitter as he resettles his hand at my side. "Nothing, Honey." His face breaks into a cocky grin and he pulls me into a spin, into the dance so that my chin rests on his shoulder and his hands slide around my waist in something like an embrace.
Later we sweep through the exit, Roxie's high heels and the smart soles of Tony's shiny black shoes clicking dauntlessly on the concrete of the walkway.
"Toneeee," I say. "You promised me dessert. I'm hungry." And starting to feel the affects of a night of drinking.
"Now you hold your horses, Rox, we're almost there."
"Almost where?" I thought we were walking to get a cab but I can see now that Booth is leading us through the park toward Connecticut Ave and Woodley Park shops and restaurants. Before we get to some upscale coffee shop or trendy late night dessert bar, however, Booth veers off toward the upper corner of the small park. There, on the corner, is a street cart selling fried dough.
I get mine with butter and powdered sugar and he orders cinnamon sugar.
"Gimme a bite of yours, Rox," he says, mouth still full of his own. I consider the piece I have left. I have, as usual, eaten my dessert in such a way that the very best bite will be left at the end and is currently jutting out from the remaining crust, heavy with butter and clotted powdered sugar.
"Open wide, Tony." I instruct, and he opens his mouth, leaning toward me a little. I feed him the best part of my bread and he smiles and kisses me on the cheek sweetly. First of the night.
As we finish our dessert, a motorcycle pulls up at the curb. A man in a backpack parks the bike and crosses to where we stand. He pulls off his helmet and as he does so, Booth steps forward to shake his hand and take the keys to the bike. Neither man speaks but the stranger unzips the backpack and pulls out two leather jackets. Booth takes off his jacket, folding it in half carefully, and turns toward me, hand outstretched for my wrap. The man takes both from him and packs them away. Turning me gently, Booth holds one of the jackets for me to don, and then puts on his own. When I turn back, the stranger smiles at me and holds out a soft red cashmere scarf which I take. This, obviously, was not to plan and for the first time tonight, Booth is clearly Booth, and not Tony. Booth steps forward and to the right to position himself between me and the man, standing slightly in profile, and gives him a hard stare I am all too familiar with: eyes cold, lips pursed, jaw jutting forward a little. The man smiles in response—a tight, controlled movement that is not...quite...challenging, but brave nonetheless, given Booth's body language. After a long pause, the man takes a step back, nods to Booth, salutes me casually with two fingers, and walks away.
I zip my coat and wrap the scarf around my neck. The silent exchange, the drink, the food maybe—all collapse in on this moment, limned in colored lights from the restaurants and street lights and offset by the matte black negative shapes they create. I am suddenly wrapped in silence myself and willingly allow Booth to take my hand as we walk to the motorcycle. He hands me a helmet and I strap it on while he does the same. He hooks the backpack in place and then straddles the bike to start it. I take a minute to look at him, the strong appealing bulk of him straddling the powerful machine, his eyes looking out at me through the visor slot, his hand outstretched. It seems that I just blink once and somehow I am on the back of that bike with Booth, short skirt made even shorter as it rides up high on my thighs where they grip his lean hips.
I slide my arms around him and squeeze and we are flying away, weaving through traffic, slowly at first, but faster as Booth gets onto the highway, and faster still when, a long time later, he gets off the highway and eventually finds a lonely stretch of road shooting straight for miles through industrial plants on the outskirts of the city. He slows the bike and at one end of the industrial row, drops the stand and turns off the engine. He pulls off his helmet. I do the same.
He turns his head, hard so that he can catch my eye and I lean to my left, my hands still on his hips, so that he doesn't have to crane his neck so far. I can hear Booth's breathing, heavy from the effort of driving. It is very quiet here in this lonely place, the sounds of distant traffic muted.
"Well, Bones?" he says, a half smile on his lips and in his eyes.
"Well what Booth?" I can't help but respond to his boldness with my own.
"You having fun?" I don't know how to answer. I don't have the words. I lean forward and snake my arms around him once again and squeeze, press my cheek against his back, my face, my lips, a little like a kiss. I feel his cold hand press on mine where it rests on his warm stomach. Reassuring, affirming.
When I pull back to look at him again, he says, "Wanna go fast, Roxie?'
"Hell yeah, Tony." I answer, and put my helmet back on.
And now we are right back where we started, in the back of a taxi. And it is still dark in the back of the car, this time the true dark of deepest night. I wonder how it is going to end. It has been a wonderful night and suddenly I am sure I will ruin it, say the wrong thing when I am no longer Roxie. Better now...
"Tony, d'you remember the night we met?" Booth has handled everything that came before with aplomb; I wonder what he will say.
His voice is low and husky, like he is actually remembering. "At your cousin Joe's wedding? I had come with my brother, as a friend of the family."
"Yes." The word slips out and hangs between us. "You were such a gentleman..."
"I was fucking terrified."
"You were so out of my league, Rox. You are so out of my league—no don't stop me. Shhh." Booth places a single finger on my lips, just for a moment, and then removes it. "You were the hottest woman there. All the guys at my table wanted to ask you to dance, were talking about how to ask you, how to meet you, but before the dancing had really even started, you came to us. And asked me to dance. Christ, Roxie. I didn't know what to think. You were so hot. But you are smart too, and classy. I didn't want to mess it up."
"Did you want to kiss me goodnight, Tony?"
"You know I did, Rox." Booth's voice was almost a whisper.
"Well, I did too, but I didn't wanna mess it up either, so at the end of the night, when you kissed me on the cheek—" I pause, and Booth leans in and kisses me on the cheek. Suddenly, he's my partner again, and he smells like every guy hug we've ever had, every time all the times he has leaned in too close to me as I examine a body, or evidence, or a crime scene. "—and I...I...I just hugged you. Kind of a dumb way to end a beautiful night, Tony, but I liked it." By now, Booth has leaned back and this time I go to him, reaching out and hugging him. Other than his hand on my back, it is the only truly familiar physical contact between us and it feels good. Like it always feels good: Booth's strength and warmth and ridiculously unreserved and incautious caring. I stay in his arms a little too long, but he doesn't say anything, just hugs me until the cab comes to a stop at my apartment building.
I pull away and catch the bright gleam of his dark eyes with my own.
"Thank you for tonight." Roxie or me?
"You're welcome." Tony or Booth?
I open the door and push myself out into the cool night air. The doorman opens the door to my building. I look back once and Booth raises one hand goodbye. I smile and turn and walk away.