‘It is you, Sir Seeley, whose limbs twixt mine long for—
It is your laugh, your smile, your love I belong for’
“How many times did you tie this damn thing?” Booth cried in exasperation as he fumbled with the back of Brennan’s apron in the freezing cold of the King County medical examiner’s office. There’d been an official report of stolen undergarments submitted by Dr. Temperance Brennan during the early morning meeting at the Jeffersonian. Booth was determined to investigate the claim, as any FBI agent worth his salt would, no matter what the cost. His strategy was to remove as many layers of clothing as necessary in order to confirm or refute the claim of the missing item. If, in the process, he managed to warm the shivering body of his partner using his own body heat, well then, that would just be a bonus.
While Booth worked diligently at achieving his goal, Brennan examined Banty Solicious’ bones with the single-minded focus of a mother painting her nails while a toddler banged on pots and pans at her feet. “Screw this,” Booth blurted in exasperation. “There’s gotta be a pair of scissors here somewhere!” He tossed his hands in the air and scanned the morgue countertops with steely eyes.
“I thought the Boy Scouts were renowned for their mastery with knots,” she queried calmly despite having been pinned against the autopsy table while Booth yanked and fiddled with the double knot at the small of her back.
“Tying. Boy scouts are proficient at tying knots! This is harder than unhooking a bra with one hand.”
“How long have you been wearing a bra, Booth?” Brennan asked dryly, holding her gloved hands up and shifting her weight patiently from foot to foot. As his attempts to untie the narrow apron strings became more aggressive, she’d found it impossible to carefully examine anything on her table.
“I don’t wear a bra, Bones—” he snorted.
Brennan giggled under her breath, covering her mouth with the back of her wrist.
“Oh, was that a joke? Ha, ha, good one. I still can’t—” he grunted, getting down on one knee behind her.
“Are you … using your teeth.” Brennan asked. She was preternaturally calm despite having to pressed her lips firmly together to hold back an explosion of laughter.
“Oh, that would be lovely on surveillance tape, wouldn’t it?” Booth said gritting his teeth. He blew on his sore fingers, licked them again, and tried again. “Well, if you’d just stop wiggling around—”
Brennan snapped off her gloves and shooed his hands away. “It takes manual dexterity, Booth. The expertise of one whose profession requires the use of small instruments and detailed physical subject matter,” she explained haughtily, just to tease him. “I do hope you’re considerably better at unhooking a bra,” she teased through barely-moving lips.
“Oh, I got skills you ain’t never seen, baby—” blurted Booth smugly.
“That’s what I’m counting on,” she quipped, with a deep chuckle. Despite her frozen fingers, the strings now hung limp by her sides.
“Thank God,” Booth murmured quietly as he stood, dusted off the knees of his pants, and laid wide solid palms flat on either side of Brennan’s neck. He kissed her temple, and whispered into her ear. “Now, let’s see what we can do about warming you up a bit.” With the tips of his fingers resting on her clavicles, he applied pressure to her trapezi in a circular motion, then squeezed several times.
“Wha—I thought this was about a panty raid … ahhhhh,” Brennan said, and stopped dead. Allowing her eyes to drift closed, she swayed back and forth as his long fingers kneaded and warmed her from the neck down. “Ohhhhhhwwwwahhhh. Yes.”
“How’s ‘at?” He asked, sticking his tongue out as he focused on his work. “Warming up?”
“Nice,” she sighed after a long moment. Reluctantly opening her eyes, she held her hands out and watched as her fingers curled closed in slow motion, then straightened. Her blue nail beds were visible through the new pair of clear medical gloves.
Booth gently but firmly kneaded the muscles bunched and aching between Brennan’s shoulder blades, then continued traveling down her arms and toward her hands with a series of firm squeezes.
“These aren’t fingers,” he chuckled in falsetto, milking warmth back into each finger. “They’re fish sticks, ha!”
“The gloves restrict the blood flow,” she whispered drowsily, leaning her head back against his shoulder for a moment.
“Maybe you should take them off.”
“I don’t want to compromise the remains, Booth, or I would,” she groused.
“Well then, don’t let me distract you. Chop, chop! Get back to work and lets get this show on the road,” he said, though by this time, he’d completely enveloped her in his arms, warming her as thoroughly as a down-filled winter coat.
“I’m not distracted,” she mewled defensively. “I’m an expert, um, compartmentalizer, that’s me,” she insisted, straightening. Swallowing hard, she fought the urge to turn and melt into his delicious warmth, or at least sink her nose into his neck. The warm rugged outdoorsy scent of him had already enveloped her and begun to soften her joints into pools of jelly. Focus, Brennan. Fo-cus! She commanded herself sternly. “Don’t be offended if it appears I’ve forgotten, uhhhhh ahhhh, forgotten that you are there. I have an extraordinary ability to, ohhhhhhhhhmmmm, block out the environment when I have remains in front of me. ” She grimaced, unaware that her voice sounded like it was crawling up from the depths of very deep sleep.
Booth made an indulgent noise, then snorted in mild amusement. “Forget I’m here, huh?” He chuckled low and shook his head. “Don’t mind the guy behind the curtain,” he sighed, but her brain was chewing on her next thought.
Brennan reached for the cranium for the fifth or sixth time tonight. Or was it the seventh? Carefully clearing a space on the table before her, she gingerly deposited the cranium, eye sockets to the ceiling.
Booth’s arms settled snugly around her midsection, the length of his body warming her from her neck down to her calves. Her increased circulation successfully warmed everything else. He dropped his ear against her head and closed his eyes, humming softly as Van Morrison’s grizzly vocals doled out several verses of ‘Into The Mystic’.
“How can you emit so much heat?” Brennan murmured absently as she squinted at each zygomatic bone, then the maxilla.
“It’s not just me, Bones. You are quite warm yourself,” he whispered into her hair as he squeezed her around the midsection. “Even though you’ve forgotten that I’m here,” he teased quietly.
Brennan leaned forward to rummage through the bag she’d positioned on the other side of the table. She searched for a moment, then gave up in frustration and grabbed the seven inch magnifying glass she’d already been using. She was tired and her fingers and nose were cold. She was anxious to finish what they’d come to do and get over to the hotel where they could burn their putrid clothing and sink innocently into bed together.
Booth tightened his arms around her waist, his thumbs caressing her rib cage just below the springy curves of her breasts. She fit nicely into the space inside his arms, but he’d been aware of that for quite some time. It was nice to be welcome to stay wrapped around her for more than just a moment. “Hmmm,” he hummed, swaying her sideways, then back slightly.
“That’s about the twenty-fifth time you’ve picked up that head since we got here, Bones. I’m getting to you, aren’t I?”
“Not at all,” she replied, her voice deep and slow. She cleared her throat and continued. “I have a process which requires several inspections of each bone. I begin along the perimeter of the table with cursory observations. I then circle inward increasing focus as I examine the individual bones that interest me. Accurate identification of evidence demands adherence to protocol and meticulous examination if we are to establish or dismiss the supposition that the bones from Haverford belong to this set of remains. That is, until Dr. Hodgins is able to perform an osteological profile on the bone apatite. While it would be—”
“And all I hear is bla, bla, Hodgins, bla, bla, on the bones, bla,” Booth sighed churlishly, sinking his frozen nose into a hank of hair behind Brennan’s right ear. He inhaled. “Mmmm.”
“The most relevant piece of evidence, if I can identify it,” she continued, undeterred, “will be the hemorrhagic staining on the mental foramen. While I cannot confirm that which Dr. Hodgins or Mr. Bray will be able to,” she explained as Booth released her midsection in favor of sliding his hands into her front pants pockets, “I can search for variants of color on the fibrous layer of periosteum covering the alveolar process and the mental foramen—what are you doing?”
Booth had temporarily finished with his examination of her periphery and was heading toward the individual bones that interested him. His hands filled her pockets down to the seam at the bottom. He curled his fingers several times, then dragged them left and right across her thighs, grazing the skin beneath. This shot sparks of heat through the entire lower half of her body. She felt like a flower unable to resist unfurling its petals at the first light of day. Before long, this flower would be in full bloom, straining toward Mecca with her organic solar panels, poised for pollenation.
“Booth?” Brennan moved slightly to the side and attempted to look over her shoulder as her pounding temples screamed at her.
“Mmmm?” He said after a full minute had passed, but she’d already begun to force herself to CONCENTRATE … and move on. He had been pleasantly floating on a cloud of serenity, wrapped as he was around the warm pillowy form of his mate. His explorations had released a flood of pheremones into his own system, rendering him intoxicated and submissive. In this state he stood, as if by magnetic force, for several long moments while Brennan staved off the domination of her own endocrine system.
After a while, Booth stepped back to cough, causing a plume of frigid air to swirled down Brennan’s neck and back, then down her arms and legs. This broke Brennan’s concentration. She gasped and shivered violently, as much from the loss of their connection as from the chill in the air.
“Booth,” she croaked, glancing backward accusatorially. “Uh, I can’t function if I’m freezing. Could you—?” She motioned, Get back here! with a sideways tip of her head.
“So, you do know I’m here,” Booth chuckled, snuggling up to press the length of his body along the length of hers, then squeezing her hips. The warmth from his hands seeped into her muscles as they made their way down the outside of her thighs.
“Squeezing the tissue promotes circulation, every good boy scout who’s been to winter camp knows that,” he said, focusing on the flesh beneath his hands.
“Right,” she nodded, enjoying the return of stimulation to the outermost portions of her body.
“The outermost portions of tissue get cold first,” he said, firmly sliding his palms over her thighs, up over her hips and across her abdomen. He wondered if he dare make a pass over her chest, then chuckled to himself over his own mental pun.
“Know what I like about you, Bones?”
“Many things, but to what are you referring specifically?” She stopped.
He kneaded the tissues across her belly, then slid back over her hips where he made several pisiform rotations with the heals of his hands over her hip bones, rolling her muscles and adipose tissue forward over the bones several times, and then finishing with a therapeutic squeeze and release, squeeze and release.
“You,” he began, moving south to squeeze sections of her thighs, “are soft, but solid, not just skin and bones. You’ve got cuuuuurves. Fantastic curves,” he continued, digging the tips of his fingers into her skin and raking them up from her thighs to the sides of her rib cage, and then up over she shoulders and down her arms. “Curves that just beg—umgh!—oh, these curves just beg to be squeezed,” he said, emitting a guttural sound through clenched teeth. And bitten and nuzzled, he thought to himself.
“I need my other magnifying glass, Booth,” Brennan said in a highly-controlled voice, willing herself not to sound affected. Oxytocins and adrenaline were coursing through her system, titillating all of her erogenous zones, whipping them into a frenzy, and fueling her system’s race toward the human imperative. She was losing ground fast, and she knew it. But she wasn’t going to admit it. “My 20x Hastings Triplet,” she said, concentrating hard, licking her lips and swallowing.
“Is that the teeny tiny baby one—?”
“—Yes. That’s the one. Though I cannot recall if I returned it to my bag after this morning’s review in the lab with Mr. Bray,” she said, puckering her lips in thought. “Hm.”
“—The one that makes the hair on my arm look like the Everglades?”
“Yes, Booth, the one you like—”
“—with the tiny glass that’s just a half inch wide and you have to put it right up to the thing you’re looking at?”
Brennan didn’t reply. She stood stock still.
Booth jutted his chin forward in query, then grazed her cheek with the stubble covering his jaw.
“Yes!” She gasped, then cleared her throat. “Sorry, yes. 20x Hastings Triplet”
“Why’s it called a triplet? Explain that to me again,” he sighed, then blew in her ear.
“Stop trying to distract me, Booth!”
“Is it working?”
“I refuse to testify for the reason that it may incriminate me,” she rasped impatiently.
Booth was well aware of the effect he was having on his mate. He could feel her heart pounding against her rib cage in competition with the thrum and rush of his own. He also noted the change in pace and tone of her voice, which had returned to the deep smoothness of just a moment before. He was also aware that she was trying to hide it.
“Where is it?” He finally asked.
“If I brought it, it’s over there in my bag,” Brennan said, pointing across the room to the other autopsy table.
“Want me to get it?”
“I think I better get it,” she whispered, not making any effort to move. It had been a long time since she’d been pinned against anything by the wonderful solidness of a strong, virile male body. Not in this way, at least. She did not want to go anywhere. “Booth,” she whimpered, “We will never get out of this god forsaken hell hole if I don’t complete my work!”
“Right,” Booth chuckled, grazing the top of one hot ear with his teeth.
“Excrement, Booth.” Brennan blurted. “How am I supposed to—” She gulped and pushed back against him. “—we, I gotta get this science stuff completed!”
“Did you just say—’science stuff’? Whoa, I really am getting to you.”
“No. And you’re not. ”
“Yes, you did,” he nodded, then blew across that same ear, “and yes, I am,” he chided her.
“If you’re going to warm me up like this, the least you could do is leave your gun behind.” She said, pausing to lean back against his chest.
“What?” Booth squinted askance. “Nice change of subject, lady. I don’t have my gun.”
“Yeah? Then what’s this,” she asked, reaching backward through his arms to grab hold of his glutes, and firmly pull him right up against her backside again.
“Agh!” Booth gasped in surprise. “Whoa-hoh-hoh!” She wasn’t the only one aroused by the electrical current crackling between them. “Jesus, Bones,” he yelped, pulling back abruptly.
Brennan chuckled at his reaction. Adopting a Mae West tone, she delivered her next line. “Is that your Smith & Wesson 1911 in your pocket,” she purred, “or are you just happy to see me?”
“Eh, 1911 … 1912. Depends on who’s measuring,” Booth exhaled uncomfortably as he attempted to disentangle himself from her.
“What are you doing?” She asked in a high-pitched squeal.
“You said you were gonna get it!” he gasped defensively, sounding somewhat frustrated. “And could you please let go of my ass?”
“You’re going with me. Get back here,” she insisted authoritatively, scooting backward to recouple them, then pulling his arms back around her midsection. “And your ass is quite pleasing to grasp, Booth. You have very nicely formed gluteal muscles. Not that I’m surprised,” she added under her breath.
“Agghhh!” Booth gasped, a flash of heat spiraling through him unexpectedly. He wasn’t in charge anymore; she was bewitching him, he was certain, catapulting things up a notch. A sharp intake of air silenced him as he prayed to control his own body’s intense reaction to the warm, soft, squishy, solidness of hers.
“We’ll just shuffle over there together,” she assured, ensuring his arms were secured around her midsection. “It is perfectly natural for an adult male to become physically aroused in close proximity to his mate. You and I, we have extraordinarily powerful sexual chemistry—the most intense I have ever experienced, Booth. So, despite your puritanical modesty, nature will have its way with you—”
“—I’m nature’s bitch, is that what you’re saying?” Booth chuffed.
“All of humanity is nature’s bitch. Our combined chemical attraction is heightened by our flirtatious repartee this evening. The physical contact we are currently sharing is an accelerant on an already long-burning flame. All of this, as much as some would prefer to call it love, is part of nature’s plan to ensure the perpet—”
“Aw, geez, again with the perpetration of the human race? Can we just get over to the other table and get your stuff? How we gonna do this, anyway?”
“As a matter of fact,” she continued undeterred, “if you weren’t aroused when our bodies connect as they currently are, I would be concerned that there may be some medical—”
“There is nothing wrong with my equipment, or my hormones, Bones. Believe me!”
“There’s no reason to be self-conscious, Booth. You’re going to have to get over your reluctance to discuss things of a sexual nature if we are to have a healthy sex life.”
“Seriously? Are we seriously going to do this now?” Booth groaned.
Brennan sighed, then looked over her shoulder and into his eyes. “It may comfort you to know that I am experiencing a rather powerful reaction to your proximity,” she whispered, smiling sweetly.
“Well, it certainly doesn’t show!” He responded coyly.
“Of course not. Sexual arousal in the adult female isn’t as conspicuous as it is in the adult male. The female body is ingeniously designed to ensure a safe and sterile environment for a fetus to develop,” she explained confidently, as she pulled his arms across her body like a safety harness on a roller coaster ride. “In order to achieve that, the female reproductive system is predominantly internal.” She pulled forward and he followed. They shuffled around the table toward the other table where one of Brennan’s bag and the larger tool kit sat.
Brennan rummaged through the first bag and pulled out the small black drawstring bag containing her miniscule yet very highly powered magnifying glass. “Yes! I do have it!” She cried jubilantly. “What else will I need,” she mumbled, surveying the contents of her bag. “Because, as entertaining as this crab-walk exercise is, we’re not doing it again. Ah! Tweezers!” She slipped the tweezers into her pocket unseen and stretched out diagonally across the table, reaching for the very furthest corner even though she already had the tweezers in her hand. Booth couldn’t see what she was reaching for, and suspected she was doing it just to torment him. If he had looked closer, he’d have found that he was correct.
“Whoaaaaaaaaa!” Booth groan-yelped, as he instinctively pinned her to the table and grasped the pleasing softness of her midsection as if she were dangling over a bridge in danger of plunging to her death. His mind went blank, probably due to lack of blood in the frontal lobe, he would think to himself later. When she bounced up on her tip toes to reach further, he grabbed her hips and pulled her back. He didn’t know why. “Oh, God,” he hummed to himself when she bounced back into him. He jammed his eyes closed, mentally making the sign of the cross. Saint Francis of Assisi, St. Joan of Arc, Saint Catherine of Aragon, Saint Penis, I mean, Peter! Jesus! He gulped desperately. and as quietly as he could.
“What?” Brennan asked, straightening up and twisting slightly toward him. “What did you say?”
Booth gulped again, then licked his parched lips. “Nothing,” he said in falsetto before clearing his throat. “I didn’t say anything. We just about done here?”
“Yes. I have everything I need. Do you?” She said slowly, taunting him, or did he imagine that? Turning, she lead him into a u-turn and then back to the table of bones, picking up where she left off in her lecture about the biology of sex. “The female reproductive system is also designed to temper the libido when rampant sexual behavior would not be in the female’s best interest.”
Booth didn’t respond, hoping the conversation would end naturally.
“It may interest you to know that mice, laboratory rodents, some domestic horses, and the Theropithecus gelada of the Ethiopian Highlands—which are relatives of the baboon, but much more ferocious—they all spontaneously abort a pregnancy when a foreign male is introduced.”
“What, like a French guy?” Booth snarked.
“What?” Brennan paused, turning her head to stare at him askance.
“Oh. You thought I meant ‘foreign’, as in, a male from a foreign country, right.”
“Oui, oui.” Booth smiled, chuckling. “You gotta watch out for those smarmy French guys.”
“Hm,” she frowned in amused agreement. For the next two minutes Brennan alternately picked up the mandible and then the cranium, scrutinizing portions of each through her tiny eight millimeter magnifying glass with such abject concentration that Booth didn’t doubt she very well could have forgotten his existence. Then she chose two cervical vertebra and performed the same exercise. “Look at this,” she said, holding up what looked to Booth like a three dimensional puzzle piece.
“Do I have to smell it or touch it?” He made a disagreeable face.
“No, just look!” She leaned back and held the bone and glass up to his eye.
“I don’t see anything,” he said, steadying her hand, “except, maybe, the night sky on a starless night.”
“Right there,” she said, nodding toward the bone under the magnifying glass. “You don’t have to put the glass in your eye, Booth. Try it again.”
“I still don’t see anything,” he answered.
“Well, it’s there, Booth. And this is a good sign.”
“What’s there? Same cracks as Aleesha’s.”
“While I have confirmed the erosion of the occipital condyles of the cranial base and the articular facets of the C1 vertebra, as well as the fractured facets of the transverse processes of the C2 through C5 vertebra—”
“In English, please!”
“The pointy parts broken off of Aleesha’s and Banty’s vertebra appear to have been eroded and broken in the identical fashion.”
“That’s good, right?” Booth peered through the tiny glass as he listened to her answer.
“While I cannot confirm irrefutably without the electron microscope, I can postulate that what appears to the naked eye as shading, is, in fact, a constellation of microfractures.”
“Oh, yeah,” Booth gasped, quietly amazed as he could finally see what she was referring to. “Yeah. Right there,” he said.
“Mr. Bray will have to confirm the directionality and compare the fracture pattern.”
“That’s good enough for me. Now, for the peace and resistance, let’s examine the face bones for traces of blood and guts.”
“La pièce de résistance, Booth. It’s French,” she corrected, emphasizing each word.
“Again with the French!”
“Yes. It means, the main event. They also gave us, tour de force, which means in this case, a feat of ingenuity, which is what it has taken to reconstruct the cause of death for these two young women.” She took a deep breath and turned to the mandible and cranium, silently inspecting each multiple times.
“Can I look?”
“This won’t look like anything to the untrained eye. However, an organic substance has altered the color of the periosteum in a pattern congruent with the image presented in Mr. Bray’s email. With the electron microscope and the mass spectrometer, he and Dr. Hodgins will be able to identify the nature of the organic substance. Now,” she said, “As for what I had postulated were minute particles on the distal aspect of right posterior ribs five and six are actually microfractures, though not nearly as miniscule as the ones on the occipital condyles of the vertebra.”
“Hm,” Booth grunted.
“Something was slowly and deliberately applied, with enough pressure, to the ribs in the center of her back, to cause this particular constellation.”
“I’ll be damned. And if he killed from behind, like Wendell said, and the victim was seated, maybe the killer was seated as well, right behind her with his knee in her back.” Booth nodded, in thought.
“Mmm. Her proportions would suggest as much.”
“Sweets should have a field day with that. Do you think Angela could figure out the size of the guys paella, and then extrapolate how tall the guy is?”
“That is an intelligent question, assuming you mean ‘patella’ rather than ‘paella’, which is a Valencian rice dish, Booth, and remind me to email Angela about it later.”
Booth grinned gleefully. “Tell her I was the genius who had the idea. A little role-reversal never hurt anyone.”
“If you were Hodgins, you’d be asserting your superiority as King of the Lab,” she chuckled.
“So, we done here?” Booth asked, nodding in agreement.
“We are finished, yes.. I just need to repackage the remains, make copies of my notes on the photocopier in the hall, and package it to ship to the Jeffersonian.”
“We shipping the casket and everything?”
“Well, let’s take a look,” she said, finally releasing him from captivity.
To his surprise, Booth had no problem stepping up to the diminutive container this time. It helped that the open lid faced the opposite direction. The partners stood elbow to elbow for several moments, scanning every inch of the shiny fabric.
“What’s that? Hand me that micro magnifying glass, Bones.”
“What?” She asked curiously, handing him the tiny tool.
“That little dark thing. It may be nothing.” He reached toward it.
“Use the tweezers!” She yelped, holding them out to him and grabbing a petri dish. .
“Well, what have we here?” Booth spoke in a voice usually reserved for puppies and toddlers. “Would you look at that?” He picked up the speck in question and stared at it through the magnifying glass. “It’s too small to be a tick and it’s not even a whole animal! If I breathe on it, it might disintegrate or float away.”
“Hm—” Brennan leaned in to take a look.
“Maybe it’s a leg, or an antenna?” Booth suggested. “Or … my own eyelash?” He postulated, feeling foolish.
“That’s not an eyelash, Booth. Eyelashes are curved with a root on the thicker end. It could be a leg, or setae, from beetle larva.”
“Uh, I think this thing is actually orange. Is that possible?”
“Anything’s possible. Dr. Hodgins could provide you with an accurate answer to that question.”
“The bug man is going to be happy. Hey, there’s more in there,” Booth leaned back over the coffin while Brennan held the petri dish. “It was all stuck in this little fold of the fabric. Some seems to have settled on the bottom. Should I get it?” He glanced at her quizzically.
“Yes. Get it all. Always gather all the evidence, Booth,” Brennan smiled.
“Maybe there’s enough here to tell us where that third body is,” he said in hushed tones.
“Maybe. We don’t need much to determine that, but we do need everything.”
“And I know what you’re going to say next.”
“What?” She fastened the top onto the petri dish and taped it shut.
“The whole kit and caboodle is going to the Jeffersonian!” Booth clapped his hands together once, exuberantly.
“Well, I understand your intent, but that is not at all how I would have said it,” Brennan objected.
“That’s why you need me, Bones. I add color to your life.” He kissed her loudly on the cheek as she began collecting the bones to be packaged for delivery.
“That is undeniable. Let’s get out of here,” she mumbled, then smiled at him. She kissed him back sweetly on the lips; a brief kiss charged with the live current of promise.
On the way toward the door once everything was packaged to go, Booth spied a box sticking out from under Sr. Shcherbakov’s desk.
“Oh, man. Son of a beach bunny. Look at this, Bones,” he said, then read the words on the box. “Ozone Generating Air Purifier. Dr. Demento must have bought this thing before he died and no one had the sense to look in the box! Listen to this:
‘Your new air purifier electronically oxidizes molecules in the air destroying noxious odors and fumes at their source. Used by hundreds of crime labs, police, and sheriff departments, correction facilities, and medical examiners, your Arrow™ Ozone Generating Air Purifier covers up to 40,000 square feet, leaving behind the fresh scent of a spring day.’
The two stared at each other, dumbfounded.
“I believe that’s called irony, Bones.” Booth smirked.
“And you would be correct. On another topic … if we are going for a little role reversal,” she said as they turned off the lights and closed the morgue door behind them. “I’m going to have to create a poem for you. A really romantic one.”
“What do you mean?” He asked, his brow furrowed inquisitively as he held the elevator door open for her.
“You discovered the organic material in the coffin, and suggested extrapolating height of the killer by measuring the patella—both which could be key pieces of our puzzle. I better do something you would usually do, and start thinking about something really romantic.”
“Really romantic, huh?” He said, flashing his eyes and wiggling his eyebrows playfully.
“Yes,” she asserted, jutting out her chin. “Something to rival, ‘Gave my heart to a woman named Bones, who paid me with kisses and groans …'”
“It was moans, Bones. Groans are for pain. Or exasperation. Or lifting heavy things. Moans are for pleasure. Satisfaction. You have so much to learn, Grasshopper,” he teased, putting his arm around her and hugging her sideways. “With a smile on her face, she offered me grace and I felt like a king on a throne’.”
“You never cease to surprise me, Booth,” she grinned, making Booth’s heart melted.
“You think that was romantic? Wait till you see what I have prepared for you in your hotel room,” he beamed as they exited the building to find Sebastian waiting for them.
“Wha, my room?” She stopped and stared at him. “I assumed we were staying together.”
“Yeah. About that,” he stammered. Play this right and you’re home free, Booth Buddy, he thought to himself. According to ‘The Psychology of Sales, 101’, the correct answer is always ‘yes.’ “Of course, we will be staying together, Bones, tomorrow. Tonight, we have separate rooms. Believe me, you’ll thank me later.”
“Hmmmm. What difference could it possibly make?” She argued, crestfallen. Booth remained resolutely mute. Finally, Brennan, relented, for now. “I better start thinking about ‘Sir Seeley’, then,” she said dejectedly.
“Who’s Sir Seeley’?”
“He’s the protagonist in the poem I am writing for you.”
“I like that,” smiled Booth, nodding slowly. “It has a certain … Je ne sais quoi … to it.”
Brennan snorted. “Gotta keep up with the French.”
“Oui, oui, Mademoiselle!” He said, grabbing her hand, and pressing his lips to it for a lingering kiss.
Brennan spent the entire town car ride to the hotel shushing Booth so she could concentrate on her poem. He was just tired enough not to argue after the first three times and almost fell asleep leaning his head on her shoulder. Brennan constructed, deconstructed, and reconstructed her poem several times; she switched the lines around, and rearranged the verses until she was completely satisfied. Then she repeated it to herself many times to commit it to memory in its final iteration . . .
Much later, as Brennan sat on the couch in her anteroom waiting for Booth to emerge from the bathroom after what she hoped would be a therapeutic shower, she repeated ‘Sir Seeley’ from memory, and smiled, remembering his reaction to it hours earlier when she finally recited it for him.
In the combined bed and bathroom on the other side of Brennan’s hotel suite, however, Booth sat in a pensive stupor on the lid of the porcelain throne where Brennan had left him only moments earlier.
The disturbing images from all of his nightmares—the one that visited him at the morgue and the one that awoke him after he fell asleep on Brennan’s couch—they continued to gnaw at him like a starving fox bent over a discarded carcass in bitterest winter. The screaming widows, the tormented fatherless children, the collapsing mass graves, his taunting father, the beguiling and duplicitous Brennan-like succubus who nearly asphyxiated him with his own pit of anguish. Then, the shimmering Filthy Stinking Bastard and the burning hole in Booth’s chest where his heart should have been. These specters descended upon his broad shoulders and weighed him down. An ache weaved itself into the sinews that kept his body from flying apart.
This should not be that big of a deal, he feebly tried to convince himself. His attempt at denial only aggravated his demons, sending several stabs of adrenaline down through his chest with every shallow breath. He ran his tongue over his lips and recalled the bitter taste of despair and stomach acid.
‘Stop,” he rasped hoarsely into the empty bathroom. “Just—stop!” He jammed his palm into his eyes and stood abruptly. He glanced sideways at the running water in the shower Brennan had started for him, and then released the waistband of his boxers from its perch upon his hips, scanning the room for the toiletries Brennan grabbed from his bathroom five flights up. Spying his toiletry kit on the countertop, he reached for it and caught a glimpse of himself in the mirror. His flesh was a waxy shade of pale blue, his face covered in a patina of sweat. Locating his toothbrush and paste, he attacked his teeth, gums and tongue as if they were coated with something caustic.
“You look like crap, Booth buddy,” he said roughly to his reflection as he hunched over the sink to scoop water from the faucet up to his mouth. Rinse and spit. Rinse and spit. He looked up and peered into his own tired eyes, realizing suddenly that he was hunched and trembling either from a chill or from the onslaught of his demons. It was amazing he could stand at all. He hoped the hot shower would force a profusion of color back into his skin, banishing both chill and fear. Stepping into the tepid stream of water, he cranked the nozzle to the left as far as it would go. The temperature rose immediately, scorching his forearms.
“Excrement—!” He yelped, jumping back against the slippery glass wall of the shower stall. Reaching cautiously around the searing spray, he dialed the knob a centimeter to the right, darting brave fingers in and out of the spray until the water was just this side of scorching hot. Slowly and cautiously, he eased back into the stream, gritting his teeth and willing his skin to cease screaming its objections to the abuse raining down upon it. If boiling water made a good sanitizer, he reasoned, certainly a shower this hot would burn off the torment of his subconsciousness, right?
His head fully immersed in the stream, Booth dropped his marble-muscled shoulders and exhaled in a rush as if inflating a balloon, then slowly drew the soothing heavy steam deep into his lungs through both nose and mouth. He continued at a slow steady pace and added to it a mantra to occupy his brain: Don’t—think. Just be. Don’t prepare, plan, or practice a speech. Let God handle that.
Still somewhat unsteady, Booth flattened his palms against the wall on either side of the showerhead. He leaned forward, his head hanging in the stream. The coolness of the marble, a refreshing contrast to the sear of the stream enveloping him. He continued taking deep breaths, allowing the steam to cleanse him from the inside out.
While tranquility massaged its way into his body, his muscles and tendons trembled slightly as they relented in their fight to remain taut and tense. “Hoooooh, this was a very good idea, Bones,” he sighed as he swayed side-to-side still holding onto the wall.
Finally, Booth invoked the aid of his good old friend, the Holy Spirit. He knew there was no way, without help from above, that he’d have the courage and grace to do what needed to be done; say what needed to be said to Brennan. In the past he’d been surprised at the eloquence of his words in times like this—an eloquence that Booth knew he himself didn’t possess, but flowed easily from him when he allowed the Holy Spirit to take over.
Suddenly he was visited by a childhood memory. Tucked inside the front cover of a small black leather-bound bible Pops had given him on the day of his first communion was a laminated piece of paper the size of a playing card. On it was a photograph of dark angry clouds; heavy, swollen, and foreboding. Arising out of the clouds was an image of a simple man in a white floor length shift with his arms held out invitingly.
It’s the Holy Spirit, Hank had said. You can’t outrun Him, Seeley Joseph. I promise you this. He’s stuck on you like white on rice. His grandfather tousled his hair and gave him that big strong hug that smelled like Gran’s cooking and motor oil, autumn leaves and old Sears catalogs.
Inscribed in gold on the back of the card were these words:
‘Be not afraid; I go before you always.’
It was an adaptation from Isaiah. Like Pops, it was brief and straight to the point, but powerful. Booth repeated this mantra five or six times now until his subconscious took over the repetitions and elevated him to a meditative state transcending the ugliness of his unwelcome dreams. Finally, he was able to peacefully and objectively review the evening’s events—both welcome and unwelcome. He recalled the conversation with Ed Williams and his confession of having killed many people. He thought about the tiny casket and the lifelike carving on it’s lid. He closed his eyes and cautiously reflected on the images of mass graves and ditches, children crying. After a moment he realized that these thoughts felt like a slide show he was watching. They didn’t feel as if they resided within him, but outside him. But they still clung to him; hovered over him.
Stepping out of the stream, Booth toweled himself dry and brushed his teeth one more time. His skin was flush from the heat, his eyes were clear and sharp. He felt peaceful.
Glancing at the countertop, he spied something in the corner that lifted his heart and sent a warm feeling of appreciation all through him. It was a simple piece of paper folded into sixths. He recognized Brennan’s handwriting through the paper. It was the poem, ‘Sir Seeley’, that she’d thought up, memorized, and then written down for him. It was when she’d gone to find paper and pen to write it down that he had sat upon her hotel room couch and slumped over. He’d been asleep before his body was fully horizontal. He recalled their heated exchange once arriving at Hotel 1000 …
Arriving at the hotel from the medical examiner’s office, they had checked in quickly and headed for the elevator to the third floor.
“I feel like something’s missing,” Brennan murmured, closing her eyes and sinking her nose into the mass of velvety roses petals. She tightened her arms around the crystal vase cradled in her arms. Sighing contentedly, she beamed up at her partner.
“Our luggage,” Booth said, smiling at the pleasure in Brennan’s eyes despite the fatigue he knew she had to be feeling after such a long day. “We’re used to carrying our suitcases along with this tool kit here and the communication equipment. This is a classy joint.” He stepped closer and draped his arm across her shoulders, kissing her temple.
“I didn’t mean to be ungrateful, Booth,” Brennan apologized, searching his eyes. “When I saw these flowers were for me, I mean. I was so focused on memorizing the lines to my poem, that I failed to appreciate the significance of your gesture.”
Upon seeing the lovely flowers, Brennan had launched into a reproachful soliloquy on the gratuitous loss of fragrance resulting from the overbreeding flowers for the commercial purpose of more brilliantly colored blooms. It’s an abuse of nature, she’d said. All because it’s easier to mass market the visually pleasing rather than the olfactorily pleasing.
Booth had managed the paperwork for their rooms, listening indulgently with a shallow half smile plastered on his lips, until they stood in front of the elevator doors.
“Apology accepted,” he whispered against her hair, squeezing her sideways up against the length of his body. When the doors smoothly slid open with a ding, they got in and turned around. Booth pushed the number three button and backed toward the back of the elevator where he leaned against the wall, exhausted.
Brennan joined him, snuggling under his arm and resting her head on his shoulder.
“They are quite lovely.” She inhaled deeply, breathing in the tangy-sweet scent. After leaving the frigid morgue, Brennan and Booth eventually lost their sensory resistance to the remnants of stink lingering on their clothes. The bouquet of fresh blooms was a pleasing alternative to the reminder of where they’d spent their evening. “Why won’t you tell me how you managed to find organically grown roses this time of year, Booth?” Brennan mewled.
Booth simply shrugged and smiled, then rested his temple against her hair. He had no intention of divulging the expense involved in getting two different strains of the most fragrant roses in existence on such short notice. He knew she was a purist and would feel compelled to comment about a rose being a rose and not smelling so sweet. Maybe she’d even say they weren’t roses at all if they completely lacked scent, and that it was an affront to the natural order of things as well as to Shakespeare. Booth wasn’t going to give her any room to be anything but pleased with the surprised he’d arranged for her.
Brennan preceded Booth into the anteroom of her suite. She took a deep, cleansing breath and exhaled, allowing the tension to drain from her neck and shoulders. The vertical creases above her nose fell away, and the smoothness of her forehead left no trace of the lines that had been there mere moments before.
“Now, before you start talking about the microscopic fecal monsters crawling all over this place, you need to know I specifically chose this hotel because they use all organic cleaning materials and use an ultraviolet light and an ozone thingy to check for bugs—”
“Booth, smell that,” she chirped, interrupting him with the surprising lightness in her tone.
“What?” He furrowed his brow, hoping he hadn’t missed something.
“Nothing. Absolutely nothing,” she said, her shoulders relaxing as she made a 365 degree turn around the room. She inhaled deeply several times. “It’s wonderful. Fresh. Odorless.” She centered the vase on the coffee table in front of a full length couch set facing the floor to ceiling windows. “And beautiful.” She dropped the keycard next to the vase with a shallow slap, and emptied the contents of her pockets into an orderly pile beside it. Gingerly pulling the single red rose out of the center of the bouquet, she inhaled its perfume.
“And the sheets, I think, are made of a thousand Egyptian threads, whatever that means, are they’re boiled, even the bedspreads, after every use.” Booth pulled her tool case in from the hall and stood it on end just inside the door. Sliding her other bag down his arm, he set it next to the case. “Did I do good?”
“Did you do well, is the grammatically correct way to say it. And, yes, you did well, Booth,” she sighed appreciatively, cocked her head to the side and allowed a smile to brighten her face. “So, are you coming in, or are you just going to stand there?” She asked, tapping the rose against her lips. She walked toward him and reached for his hand.
“No, I better go,” he said with a lopsided smile, bringing her hand to his lips and dropping a kiss on her knuckles. The door behind him remained ajar, one Boothy foot holding it open. “You should get some sleep,” he said, running his fingers up her arm to pull her closer and press his lips against her forehead.
Brennan dropped her head on his shoulder and paused. “What is that?” She said, suddenly stepping back. “It’s the faint scent of white tea and ginger!” Abandoning Booth at the door, she advanced toward the bedroom and peeked into the bathroom where a mountain of fluffy bubbles floated atop a tub filled with steaming hot water.
“Booth! Someone’s already drawn a bath. We must have the wrong room.” She looked around for signs of another occupant, but saw only her own suitcase tucked away by the closet door and her extra shoes lined up at the foot of the bed. “Or, is this part of the package?”
“It’s part of your package,” he called from the anteroom.
“You did this?” Her disembodied voice called out from the bedroom. “You couldn’t have done this, Booth. You were with me the whole time.”
“Yeah,” he chuckled, “there’s this new invention, it’s called the telephone …”
“Wha—Booth, you didn’t have to do that!” She reappeared in the bedroom door to stare in wonder across the anteroom at her mate.
“Well, I knew it would be late when we finished, and,” he shrugged sheepishly, “you would need to wind down … wash the stink off ya’. A nice hot bath should do the trick, though I think I may burn my clothes,” he chagrined, smelling his sleeve.
“Booth,” she gasped, then sighed with a humbly grateful lilt in her tone. She held his gaze for a moment, then broke into a grin, her eyes flashing with mischief. “Step into my office, said the spider to the fly…” she teased, walking back to where he waited by the door.
Standing in front of him, she slipped her fingers between his shirt and the waistband of his trousers, and gently tugged, pulling him forward until the door clicked closed behind him.
Booth hesitated, then allowed her to drag him a little further inside, but then stopped. She could feel his abdominal muscles tighten against the back of her fingers as she continued to playfully tug at his waistband. Booth gently pulled on her wrist until she release her grasp on his buckle and held her hand.
“Enough of that,” he reproached her gently. “I’d like to tell you something about your roses. Think you can concentrate?” He chided. “I know it will be, uh, difficult.” He chuckled low and tucked several errant strands of hair behind her ear.
Brennan shrugged with one shoulder and relented, raising their joined hands to her mouth, kissing the back of his hand, then resting them against her sternum.
“Okay. They represent our journey together, Bones,” Booth said quietly, leaning back against the closed door. “Six years of friendship and partnership, followed by a year of romance and passion to come,” he said smartly. “Six white, one red.”
Brennan dropped her chin to her chest and smiled humbly at the sweetness of his sentiment. Her eyes drifted closed as she lifted the bud to her nose and inhaled it’s scent. “Booth,” she whispered, stepping close enough to feel his breath on her cheek. “When I think of us—where we are now—in this,” she shrugged one shoulder innocently, “Operation—”
“—Operation Pringles.” It was an affirmation. He smiled and blinked with lazy eyelids as he watched her chest and their joined hands rise and fall in a barely audible sigh. He felt dizzy, like he was going to cry, he was so content and grateful. He didn’t remember ever being this … exhilarated … in a relationship. “I love you,” he blurted, flashing his eyes at her.
“I know.” Brennan smiled to herself, her eyes dropping to the rose, her eyelashes a fringe of chestnut against her creamy skin. “Yes, Operation—,” she sighed in a high tone, “—Pringles. I, Booth, I think of orange,” she finally said in a breathy voice, her eyes traveling from the rose to his chest, then resting on his lips, and then following the line of his jaw up to meet his eyes. “Shall I tell you why?” She teased sweetly, resting the fullest part of the bud in the center of his forehead, then dragging it little by little down the line of his nose and across his upper lip.
“Orange?” He repeated in surprise, wiggling his ticklish nose. “What, it’s your favorite popsicle flavor?” He hummed in a sing-song tone. Spellbound by her playfulness, he gently took the stem from her fingers and trailed the fragrant feather-soft petals across her temple. Continuing along her jawline, he traced a path down her throat where a strong pulse jumped in rhythm with his own heartbeat. She bit her lips to stop from making noise when he continued across her chest and down along the plunging neckline of her blouse. He painted delicate, ticklish lines over the inside curve of her breasts, connecting all three love bites from this morning. Goosebumps exploded all over her skin; chest, neck and arms. She tried, unsuccessfully, to control a shudder.
Brennan released a low mewling sigh and dropped her fingers on his wrist. It was as much to steady herself as to stop him lest she fly completely apart. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to bask in the tension of the desperate impulse to rip off her clothing and slide back and forth over his chest like a cat affectionately claiming its territory .
“No,” she whispered, “I don’t care for popsicles. However, here is my logic: red is traditionally recognized as the color of love and romance,” she said, her drowsy eyes squinting open, “but orange, orange is the color of desire, exuberance, and cheerful enthusiasm.”
A slow comprehending smile crept across his face, his lips forming a silent, “Ohhhh!”
His exclamation was quieted when she leaned in and grazed his lips before breathing across his mouth: “And that’s what I feel right now. Desire, exuberance, cheerful enthusiasm.” She tossed the rose aside and grasped his biceps, stepping up on her tiptoes, and leaning her soft chest into his solid one, covering his mouth with languorous, exploratory kisses that stopped his heart and dropped his stomach into his shoes. If he hadn’t already been leaning against the doorjamb, he would have fallen over. “But,” she gasped between kisses and nibbles, “I won’t be jumping around like a cheerleader, because I can barely hold myself up as it is.”
Booth’s nervous chuckle vibrated against her neck where he’d begun painting a trail of salty kisses and licks. “Orange,” he croaked, his voice thick with emotion. He cleared his throat and wrapped his arms around her, crushing her to his chest. “Good to know,” he whispered hotly into her ear before nipping at her earlobe and behind her ear, then taking those kisses and caresses down her neck and back up to her mouth, kissing her passionately until they were both out of breath. Booth tightened his arms around his mate and delighted in those little noises she made that only he would ever hear.
For several delicious minutes, they pushed into each other’s bodies and used their clothing as tethers to pull each other closer. Brennan grasped his biceps again, feeling the muscles below tighten in response. She released one arm and followed the curve of his shoulder up over his perfect acromion to his neck, then captured a handful of short brown hair and pulled a little too hard. Booth’s fingers tore at the back of her blouse until they found the hem and his palms met the smooth skin at the small of her back underneath. Exploring the dip of her spine, he scratched a little too hard, forcing a guttural response to erupt from Brennan’s throat into the side of his neck.
“I was wrong,” he cooed drunkenly. “You just groaned, but it had nothing to do with pain or exasperation.”
“What?” She signed, dragging her forehead languidly over his chin.
“The difference between groan and moan … from earlier. Remember?”
“I don’t remember anything from before right now,” she said, then chuckled at her own silliness.
“Well, earlier I said that groaning was about pain and exasperation.”
“Oh. Yes. But I am in pain, Booth. And I am exasperated.” She groaned again, to prove her point.
“You just need some sleep,” he chuckled against .
“No, I just need your clothes off,” she whimpered, grazing his hip with a raised knee which, finding no purchase, slid back down the length of his thigh. “The fact that my own clothing remains on is equally exasperating … and painful.” She pulled up the back of his shirt and found the bare skin beneath. Fourth lumbar vertebra, fifth lumbar vertebra, left posterior iliac crest, right iliac crest, she found herself thinking as she brailed his lower back, moving upward. Twelfth left and right posterior ribs, eleventh left and right posterior ribs, thoracic vertebrae twelve and eleven.
Booth chuckled and squeezed her to his chest again. As they melted into each other they emitted intoxicated sighs, and nonsensical words between kisses, and caresses. Things like, Mmmmm … You feel so gooooood … I could hold you like this forever … That would be impractical … I’m pretty sure I don’t care … You feel so good, too … I know … I love kissing you … I’m experiencing a heady downpour of adrenaline … God bless chemistry … Especially Fenylethylamine …. Is that the one responsible for…? —Yes, the hormone that … what? Increases heart rate and sweating? —Yes, and makes your skin hot … Your cheeks are burning up … So are yours.
Then followed a jumble of affectionate mumbles like, I love you … Hoh, I love you more … Fenylethylamine is also the chemical responsible for sending extra blood flowing to the sexual … I know, to the tingling naughty bits … Hmmm? —It’s a SNL skit, surely you’ve seen the Church Lady? —I don’t know what that means, is that a Catholic thing?—Hah, no. It’s from Saturday Night Live! Dana Carvey? —Oh … You still don’t know what that means, do you? —Did you just bite me? —I did. I totally did … oh … did I hurt you? —No … Then, I’ll do it again … Whoa … Rawr! Just remember … you bit me again. I find that your biting to be quite titillating … That’s what I was hoping … So, the church lady? —Yes, she calls it lust when the tingling naughty bits are engorged with blood … Whoa, hoh, like right now, right? —Oh, God. God, yes!—You do realize it’s been Tuesday for a couple of hours already … yes, painfully aware … God, I love you … and you are turned on by me … Knock, knock. Pot, this is Kettle. You’re black … wha … oh, you are saying … I should hope so, that I am, I mean … otherwise … I know, but believe me, I’m fully functioning … so am I … you are also goofy … but you adore me … I do, I can’t help it … feeling’s mutual … I know …
And a moment later, despite being a tangled mess of arms and hair and hot skin and lips and rumpled clothing, they both became aware of something disturbing.
Bones, not that I’m complaining, but … Are you, uh, thinking what I’m thinking?—As our bodies have warmed the fabric of our clothing … it’s the stink from the morgue … stinking morgue with the broken down cadaver freezer! —Hooo. What crappy timing! —Unfortunately, we are in danger of creating sensory associations that could have disastrous consequences … What, that could what … Be detrimental to our work … What do you mean … and our love life … what?! —We don’t want to become aroused whenever we smell … morgue smells? God, seriously … it’s called sensory association, if we continue making out while perceiving the aromas of decaying flesh and viscera, our prefrontal cortexes will create an association and every time we smell putrefaction … uh, god, we should stop anyway … it’s just that you’re so … I know … but, do you want to be overcome with the impulse to make love in the middle of investigating … you think I don’t already have that problem … oh, that’s right. You just bit me again … I’m a man, Bones, that’s how I’m made …
Brennan broke away with difficulty, her heart racing. She tried to catch her breath, but now that she was standing on her own, felt quite dizzy.
“What if we just get these off?” She began unbuttoning her shirt, exposing a bra a lot of silky looking skin that jiggled as her shaky fingers wrestled with the buttons. “Then we can change into something clean and make out.”
“Uh, my clothes are upstairs!” Booth eyes popped out, his ears started ringing.
“You can wear something of mine,” Brennan panted, walking back toward him.
“Whoa, no! That is not fair. I call dirty pool. Besides, won’t our—doesn’t our—I mean, isn’t our skin and hair still gonna smell like—”
“Dammit, you are correct.” She stopped two feet from him and frowned in frustrated disappointment. Her eyes became glossy and her shoulders fell.
“It’s a sign from God,” he panted, running a hand through his hair. “Listen,” he said, licking his lips once he’d caught his breath. He held his hand out to her. She took it, and let him pull her close, then gather her into his arms. “It’s just as well, Bones,” he said in a soothing voice as he tucked her head under his chin and kissed the top of her head. “You and I both know if these clothes come off they aren’t going back on and that’s in direct violation of our O.P. agreement.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she mumbled against his skin, burrowing her face into his neck. “It’s just that you were—really getting to me at the medical examiner’s office—and, you’re right, I am—so—very tired. I just want to snuggle up next to you and feel your arms around me while I drift off to sleep,” she mewed, on the verge of exhausted tears.
Booth sighed heavily and stroked her back. “I know,” he whispered above her ear. “But, listen, huh? You go take a nice hot bath in that tub full of Honeysuckle and white ginger or whatever it is. And then get some sleep. I’ll come getcha for breakfast, okay?”
“I find I am feeling quite emotionally—overwhelmed as a result of, well, everything.”
Booth leaned back and lifted her chin so he could look in her eyes. He frowned compassionately, and arched an eyebrow. “I know. Me too. And,” he said, rubbing his nose against hers, “we both need sleep. And I,” he sighed deeply and paused, then found he didn’t know how to say what he wanted to say.
When he didn’t continue, Brennan looked from one of his eyes to the other and back, waiting. Booth closed his mouth and stared blankly back. He pursed his lips, looked away, and shifted his weight. “Umm.”
“Booth, it feels like you are pulling away from me and it—I find it very disconcerting,” She swallowed hard, her forehead dimpling in concern. “Is this about what’s been bothering you all day?” When he still didn’t respond, she felt a stab of anxiety pierce her breast. “Booth?” She said gently. “Is there something you want to tell me?”
He opened his mouth, then closed it. He swallowed and dropped his eyes to her chin, unable to look up again.
“You body language seems to suggest that either you cannot tell me, or you do not want to tell me what’s going on.” She waited again. “Either way, I am experiencing a rising sensation of discomfort in—”
“—There is nothing for you to be worried about, Bones. Nothing. I swear.” He looked over her head and around the room. He sighed and smiled wanly, his eyes finding hers again, finally.
“Then—?” She shook her head and shrugged encouragingly.
“Bones,” he started, closing his eyes, his brow creased in concentration. He didn’t want to upset her, but he wasn’t ready for full disclosure yet either. “It scares me sometimes how much I want you. And—sometimes I think I’ll fall apart when you kiss me, or touch me. And when that finally happens, Bones—when I finally fall apart—with you—I want it to be clean. I want there to be nothing standing between us. Nothing that I can’t give up; nothing that I hold onto. Nothing but you.” He swallowed hard, his mouth and chin wrinkling as he fought against the wave of emotions welling up in his chest. The fear, the doubt, the images of the demons that wanted to keep them apart. The love that held him together that he couldn’t bear to lose.
Brennan reached up and cradled his face in her hands. Her anxiety was building, but not for herself; it was for him. He opened his eyes. She willed herself not to look away from his naked fear. She forced a smile, but he didn’t return it. He was serious. She looked down, unsure what to say. She shrugged one shoulder.
“Is there—is there anything I can do?” She asked plaintively, her hands drifting down to his rest on his chest.
Booth closed his eyes and pressed his forehead to hers. “Bones, you don’t know how long I’ve wanted this,” he said, then stopped himself.
“Booth, what is going on? We are partners. Wouldn’t it be better for you to tell me what is troubling you, then for you to battle through it on your own? I am your soft place and I am right here,” she insisted, setting her jaw firmly.
Booth sighed heavily, and nodded, his eyes still closed.
“Remember when we were looking at that painfully tiny casket?” He began.
“In the morgue. Banty Solicious’ coffin.” She nodded.
“Yeah, well, something’s been on my mind all day—for a couple of days actually—and it got me thinking again—”
“You grew quite pale. That was when you rushed off to use the lavatory.”
“Yeah,” he chuffed uncomfortably, feeling stupid.
“That’s why I tried to distract you with all that talk about customs and anthropology and burial practices. But it didn’t seem to help. It seemed to make it worse!”
Booth smiled weakly.
“What—what is it that is troubling you, Booth? Please let me help you,” she said, then closed her mouth, cocked her head to the side and waited. “Is there something I can do?”
“No. Yes, well, I think so, yes. But first I just need a little … just a little time to myself.” He grimaced in supplication, the corners of his eyes crinkling as he willed her to understand.
Brennan pressed her lips together and tried to read his expression. Finally, she nodded slowly, then confidently. “Okay, Booth. I trust you.” She exhaled roughly when his relaxing shoulders told her she’d said the right thing.
Booth blew out a lungful of air and kissed her on the forehead. He nodded gratefully, pressing his lips together, and took her face in his hands. He slid his fingers behind her neck and pulled her closer, the two of them touching, forehead to forehead, belly to belly, thigh to thigh. He swallowed loudly, holding her there in silence for a moment.
“There is something you could do for me. Right now,” he said.
“Anything,” she answered, snaking her arms around his waist.
“Tell me the poem you made up for me.”
A slow smile crept across her face.
“With pleasure, Sir Seeley,” she said after a moment. “But you must keep in mind that you are the romantic in this relationship. I am the more rational of the—”
“—You let me be the judge,” he assured her.
“Okay. It is a little—full of corn—as they say. You know, supercilious—”
“Uh, I will be the judge. Now— go ahead!” He urged quietly.
She grimaced, dropped her eyes to his chin, and cleared her throat. She swayed side to side for a moment, then cleared her throat again, and began without looking up.
‘It is you, Sir Seeley, who’s got me beset sir.
It is your lips that cause me to tremble and sweat, sir.’
Booth’s mouth fell open. Brennan flicked a glance up at him and flushed crimson, then rolled her eyes, and exhaled unsteadily. She pinched her lips into a tight bow and closed her eyes, waited.
Booth stifled a grin and chomped down on his tongue. This was not at all what he had expected. “Um,” he cleared his throat. “Is there, uh, more—?” His eyebrows ran for his hairline in hope that there was.
She wouldn’t look up.
“It’sQuiteInferioToYours-IShouldn’tHaveTriedToEven ,” she began in one long rush of words. ” IMadeTheWholeThingUpInTheCar- OnTheWayHereFromTheMedicalExaminer’s -IToldYouIAmMoreRationalThanRomantic. Don’tLaughAtMe, Booth.” She chanced a glance up into his eyes and found him staring, speechless at her, his mouth still hanging open. She jammed her eyes closed again. “Excrement,” she cursed under her breath.
“Out with it,” Booth commanded, stifling an enormous grin which she couldn’t see anyway, hiding as she was behind her vulnerability. “Come on,” he goaded, caressing her cheeks with his thumbs, but she refused to look up for more than a second. “Are there more than two lines?”
“There are four—”
“Four, uh, stanzas.” She said with a sheepish half smile.
“Hah. Okay, then. Give it up, Chaucer. Let’s see what you’re made of.”
Brennan sniffed, shifted her weight yet again, and cleared her throat.
‘It is you, Sir Seeley, whose limbs twixt mine long for—’
“Uh, excuse me. From the beginning,” Booth interrupted, “please.” His lips wiggled as he attempted to control his delighted smile.
Brennan exhaled and rolled her eyes.
‘It is you, Sir Seeley, who’s got me beset sir.
It is your lips that cause me to tremble and sweat, sir.
It is you, Sir Seeley, whose limbs twixt mine long for—
It is your laugh, your smile, your love I belong for.
It is you, Sir Seeley, I can’t live without sir.
It’s your scent; your taste, your touch without doubt sir
It is you, Sir Seeley, my blood race and heart swell, sir,
So hasten, Sir Seeley, my hunger to quell, sir.
It is you, Sir Seeley, who stirs my desire.
It is your voice whose prose sets my skin all a-fire.
Come to me swiftly into my embrace sir
Lay me down gently; remove all my lace, sir.
Make me your own, put your seal on my breast, sir.
Give me your breath and this final behest, sir.
It is your love, your life that I long to abide sir.
With you on your horse and my bridle beside, sir.
Booth stood in the bathroom and read the poem Brennan had written for him. By the time he’d finished convincing Brennan that he really, really, really liked her poem, she was a mess. Blouse hanging half out of her pants, her hair everywhere, her lips puffy, her cheeks and chest flushed, once again. One boot on, the other lying lifeless a foot behind her; one sock pulled half off and twisted at an odd angle under her toes. Booth looked like he’d been rode hard and put away wet as well.
“I want you …” He breathed across her ear when he knew he had to put an end to this love fest or he’d never make it up to his room.
“Oh, I want you too. So very desperately,” she sighed back, covering his mouth with hers once again.
Booth chuckled. “You didn’t let me finish! I was going to say, I want you to go find paper and pen and write that whole poem down for me before you forget it,” he said. “Then I really gotta go.”
Brennan slumped in his arms. “Are you saying this so you can sneak out of here while my back is turned?” She glared at him the slit eyes.
“No, absolutely not!” He insisted, feigning offense.
“Pinky swear,” he said, offering her his right hand.
“Okay. I’ll be right back,” she said, walking backward toward the bedroom as she pointed at her own eyes, then at his, then back at her own. “I’ve got my eyes on you, Sir Seeley,” she cajoled.
Booth imagined how she must have felt when she returned to the anteroom moments later, poem in hand, and thought he’d left. In actuality, he’d slunk down on the couch and leaned back. Before he could kick his shoes off and stretch his legs out across the cushions, he’d fallen sound asleep and was on his way to a nightmare that sent him careening into the glass bathroom wall on the other side of a bathing Brennan … and then out her hotel room door, and up five flights to his own room.
Booth refolded the poem, and slid it into the pocket of the shorts Brennan had grabbed for him from his room. Now, he was ready to tell her everything.
Take me to the next chapter, ‘Panic Room’.