He dropped us at the museum the next morning. After the car stopped, Dr. Brennan stared at him for a long time.
"Booth . . ." Worry and concern shadowed her face.
"It's going to be fine. Everything's going to be fine." He tried that smile again, the one that usually worked, that deflected attention from him and put others at ease.
But it didn't work. Not this morning.
She grabbed the lapel of his suit.
"Promise me, Booth. Promise me you won't get hurt." Her voice was low and insistent, her eyes bored into his. Deep shades of crimson tinted the golden light that connected them, dancing around him, flowing from her, thin ribbons of sparkling white adding to the glitter. "Promise me, Booth."
His head tilted and a small smile lifted one side of his mouth. He leaned toward her and cupped one hand around her cheek and kissed her softly.
"Baby," he whispered. "It will all be fine. I promise."
She took a deep breath and released the hold she hand on his jacket. She opened her door and got out but bent to look back at him once more.
"You'll call me," she said.
He offered her another of those half-smiles and lifted the hand that rested on the back of the seat where she'd been. She nodded and walked away but stopped once to look back. He was still sitting there. I couldn't see his face clearly but he stayed there, watching her, until she went inside.
But he never really answered her. He didn't give her the assurances she asked for, he didn't make the promises she wanted. I watched him drive away with that thought repeating in my head.
He hadn't answered her.
It was a difficult morning. Dr. Brennan was edgy and sharp with everyone. Her comments were so abrupt and harsh that finally, they all left her alone and with nothing else to do, she paced back and forth in her office. Every few minutes she picked up her phone and stared at it. Twice she hit a button and listened to it ring and then tossed it to her desk with a nervous growl.
Around mid-morning, Angela's head appeared around the corner of the door.
"Sweetie, this has got to stop." She stepped fully inside the office. "You know Booth can take care of himself. No little loser like this Marcus guy is going to be able to . . ."
Dr. Brennan glared at the silent phone.
"He's been hurt before, Angela. He's not indestructible."
"I'm sure he'll call before . . ."
"No." She shook her head. "I asked him to call but he didn't say that he would. He didn't promise me." She crossed her arms over her chest and began to pace again. "He didn't promise."
"Brennan." Angela stopped the restless walking by stepping in Dr. Brennan's path and grabbing her shoulders. "This is what he does. This is who he is. He knows how to take care of himself. He knows what he's doing."
I felt her tears like a punch in the gut.
"I've called and he's not answering, Angela. He's not answering."
"There could be any number of reasons for that. Maybe he's in the bathroom. Maybe he's staking out this guy. Who knows?" Angela shrugged. "There's no point in borrowing trouble so stop it. Let's go out to the break tables, I'll make you a cup of tea and you can relax. Okay?"
She didn't even try to hide her fear. "I'm worried, Ange."
"I know, honey." Angela pulled her into an embrace. "And when he does call, you can yell at him because he made you worry and I'll pretend I didn't hear anything. Doesn't that sound good?"
Dr. Brennan laughed like she didn't want to and nodded.
"I would appreciate a cup of hot tea."
She grabbed her phone and allowed herself to be led out of her office to a small recessed area that overlooked the platform where they worked with the bones of people like me. Everyone was sitting there and smiled when she approached.
"I would like to apologize for allowing my anxiety to affect our interactions today," Dr. Brennan said hesitantly. "It has been an . . . unsettling morning."
They shrugged off her apology as Angela disappeared and then returned a few minutes later with a steaming mug of tea. After a moment of awkward silence, Dr. Saroyan asked Angela about the baby and the conversation flowed from there, from babies to movies to the morning's news. It seemed a long time later when Mr. Bray looked toward the steps.
Booth was walking up the last few stairs. Dr. Brennan's eyes closed and the tension left her with a breath of expelled air that was the whisper of his name. She stood up and studied him from head to toe.
"You changed your shirt."
"What?" He looked down at his chest, his hands raised. "It's just a white shirt." He shook his head but I caught the grimace that crossed his face.
"No, the collar is different. That is not the shirt you wore this morning. Why have you changed your shirt, Booth?"
The people behind her exchanged hidden smiles.
Dr. Brennan pushed Booth's suit coat down low on his arms and ran her hands across his chest and stomach and over his shoulders. He tried to step out of her reach.
"Bones, what are you . . ."
"You changed your shirt." Her tone was still sharp as she flipped his tie out of the way and started to open the buttons. "I am searching for any sign or injury or any other indication that you might have been harmed in some way."
At the table, they looked anywhere but at each other and fought to hold back laughter.
Booth caught her fingers in his and held them against his chest.
"I am not hurt, okay? Bones, look at me." Brown eyes stared into blue and that beautiful shimmer of light was back, falling like a curtain of pixie dust around them. "I am not hurt," he repeated slowly. "Okay?"
She stared for a moment at the smooth, unbroken skin of his hands where they gripped hers. "Then why are you wearing a different shirt?"
He shrugged his coat back onto his shoulders and refastened the buttons she'd managed to undo.
Behind them, forgotten, their audience listened avidly.
He stuck his hands in his pockets. "It got dirty."
He lifted one shoulder. "Marcus didn't appreciate my . . . invitation."
She stared at him and waited.
Her arms crossed over her chest.
"Then he tripped."
One arched brow rose. "He tripped."
That small shrug. "He tripped."
"And that soiled your shirt."
"He might have hit the wall."
"Booth . . ."
"He might have broken his nose. There was a lot of blood."
"Booth . . ."
"I helped him up. My shirt was stained. I changed it." His face was shuttered and hard.
Dr. Brennan took a deep breath.
"He ran. He tripped. He hit his face against the wall and broke his nose. And you got blood on your shirt."
"That's what's in my report," he said simply. Behind them, Dr. Hodgins and Mr. Bray bumped fists.
She nibbled at her lower lip. "Does Caroline know?"
"She told him he should wear better shoes when he runs."
A smothered laugh from Dr. Saroyan interrupted the private moment they had been sharing. When they glanced back at the table, everyone cheered.
"So you got them all?" From Dr. Hodgins.
"A broken nose?" Mr. Bray smiled.
"Running is a dangerous sport," Booth said seriously.
"If you have them all at the FBI, why are you here?" Dr. Saroyan asked.
"I'm giving them a few minutes to collect their thoughts," he said, and then smiled at Dr. Brennan. "And play 'I Spy'. I thought you might like to be there when I broil them."
"I thought you said the expression was 'grill' them?" Her brow furrowed and then cleared. "Oh . . . . you're making a joke."
"A little one," he grinned back. "So? Want to go with me?"
"Yes," she said adamantly. "I would very much like to be there."