The Burden of Proof

Refutation

Sweets knew this was unavoidable. This confrontation. He was prepared. After careful thought and countless hours of rich observations, he had decided to finally publish his book. He knew it would generate a strong –probably antagonistic– reaction, but he was convinced they were ready to face the facts. Face its conclusion. And no matter how they would decide to try and convince him otherwise, they would fail. His theory was solid. Bullet proof. As long as Booth didn't take out his real gun.

But he was surprised to only find her in his office. No sign of Booth. She was acting on her own. This rattled him a little. He had expected to face them both at the same time. 'Divide and conquer' wasn't their usual approach.

"Dr. Brennan," he said, closing the door and walking to his desk. "Here by yourself?"

She was sitting on the sofa, with what looked like his manuscript on her lap. She waited until he sat down.

"This is garbage," she stated, dropping his book on the table in front of her in a loud attempt to make a point. "But that was to be expected coming from a psychologist."

"Ok... Do you wish to tell me what you disagree on exactly?"

"All of it!" she almost cried out. "You perception of us is very... wrong." She has difficulty sticking to a rich vocabulary when this upset. And Sweets knew that.

"I understand your frustration, but I'm sticking to it."

Her voice softened a little.

"Over time, I have developed a certain respect for your opinion," she said. "Most of the time. And I, sometimes, even take it into consideration. But I cannot sit there and let you... publish this. And I'm here to warn you that Booth is probably going to want to hurt you."

Sweets tried not to shudder.

"And are you sure that Booth will disagree with my book, too?"

She almost laughed.

"Of course! You're saying he's in love with me. That is not going to sit well with him. He is not in love with me."

"How do you know that?" he asked, carefully.

Her heart was beating so fast, she didn't even realize he was using therapy techniques on her.

"Have you met Booth? Don't you think he would have said something if he were? He's Booth. He's all about emotions. If he did... love me... he definitely would have said something."

"And how would you have responded, might I ask ?"

She didn't have time to answer that. She had further proof to bring in.

"Plus! Aesthetically, I am not his type. He prefers blonds. That's what pleases him, physically. He always goes for blonds. I, as you can see, am not blond. At all."

"That's interesting," Sweets said.

"I knew you would understand," she concluded.

"Oh no. I'm still convinced I'm right."

Brennan frowned. Her heart was in her throat now.

"YOU!" Booth's voice startled them. Then, the door slammed behind him and Sweets jumped out of his chair.

Who did that tiny shrink think he was? Reveal everything, in writing, before he even had a chance to figure out a way to tell her? Wasn't he the one who told him his feelings weren't real? Didn't he tell him to wait?

"You had NO RIGHT, Sweets!"

"I told you so," Brennan let out, so greatly pleased.

That's when he saw her on the couch. He narrowed his eyes at Sweets to make him understand how lucky he was that she had gotten here first.

"Agent Booth," Sweets started, not too shaky. "Here to refute my theory, too, I presume?"

"No. I'm here for a signed copy. What do you think?"

He didn't sound any calmer.

"Have a seat," the psychologist said, pointing the spot next to Brennan.

"My gun's easier to reach when I'm standing up."

"Booth," she whispered. She grabbed his arm and pulled him down next to her. She pulled harder as he didn't comply. "Booth, come on. I was just explaining to Sweets he got it all wrong. Come on."

"Do you agree, agent Booth? Am I wrong?"

That small bastard was taunting him now? He was gonna...

"Booth," she pleaded again.

He slowly sat down, never letting Sweets out of his gaze. This book, this timing... It was out of line.

"You think I'm wrong, too?" Sweets asked him again.

Booth held his breath. No one was going to force him into a confession right now. It was too important. Too private. Not to be done in a psychologist's office.

Brennan sensed her partner was about to lose his temper again. She put a soothing hand on his thigh.

"I was about to point out to Dr. Sweets that his book is misdirected from page one. That we did not always make a great team. Remember?"

"I'd rather not," Booth winced, a little calmer. "Let's just say that you are way off when you say, and I almost quote, 'Our discrepancies as individuals are the foundation of a well balanced need for blablabla...' You are wrong."

"Yes. We did not mesh well. I would even say we had a profound dislike of the each other."

Booth laughed and turned to her.

"You hated me."

"Yes. And you, too, thought I was insufferable."

Booth rolled his eyes. That was an understatement.

"It's a wonder we even talk today," Brennan added.

Booth locked eyes with her and nodded a smirk.

"Why? What happened?" Sweets inquired.

Brennan's eyes dropped to his lips as she breathed in. She turned to Sweets.

"Once you hear this, you will understand just how wrong your whole theory is," she said. "And then you can burn your book."

**************** YEAR 2004********************

"Who's this? You're little brother?"

They both reached the forensic platform.

"This is my assistant."

"Oooh. Fancy."

Booth dug his hands into his pockets.

He smelled good, but his condescending attitude had rebuffed her instantly. Jock. She didn't care for jocks.

"Zack, this is special agent Booth with the FBI."

"Are we being investigated again?" the young man asked.

That boy looks fun to annoy, Booth thought.

"No. He'll be working with us for the next few days."

Booth cleared his throat and looked at the forensic doctor.

"You got it backwards, Missy..."

But the freezing look she shot him made him rethink his phrasing.

"Dr. Brennan, here, is mistaken," he tried instead, unsteadily. But somehow, calling her doctor didn't feel right. "You'll be working for me," he directed at Zack.

"You keep telling yourself that," she mumbled.

Zack smiled at her, but lost his happy disposition as soon as he caught Booth's seriously intimidating stare. And he concentrated on his computer. Good boy. This is gonna be fun! He looked at the doc again. She was way too pretty to be stuck in a lab. When she walked away, when he was sure she wasn't looking, he seized her up and down. He would have to find her another name. Something short. Something easy to remember. Something amusing. Ah!

"Bones!"

She still wasn't looking.

"Hey, Bones!" he called out, following her. No sign of acknowledgement.

"Bones!" he tried again.

She stopped in her track, frowning.

"They didn't tell me you had Tourette's."

"No! It's..."

And she was off again. With Booth in toe.

Strike that. This is going to be a nightmare.

***

"You're looking for a handheld bush hammer and a left-handed man between 175 and 185 centimetres tall."

Booth, who had just come back to the lab to see if they needed his help, sensed a headache was nearing.

"What?"

Who the hell speaks in centimetres?

"She just described the murder weapon and the killer for you, big man. Try and keep up," a weird-looking frizzy dude barked at him.

Another one of those weirdoes who can't trust the FBI. How refreshing. He decided to ignore him and put his attention back on the beautiful bone lady, when a woman, looking somewhat out of place here in her normalcy, arrived.

"The remains are here, Brennan." She turned to him. "Wow. Who's this?"

"You haven't seen the remains, yet?" he asked Dr. Brennan, confused.

"No," she told him before responding to Angela. "Angela, this is agent Seeley Booth from the FBI." Brennan gauged him up and down, with a certain evident disdain. "The bureau is helpless and they need us to do their job."

He flashed her his charming smile to soften her up, but she frowned –not to say grimaced- and turned around. Oooooookay. He looked back at Angela and tried it on her. She took it with delight. Finally! A real human being!

"So, Angela..." he wanted to make sure. "She hasn't looked at the remains. What, was she guessing the stuff she just told me?"

The weird-looking frizzy guy growled an exaggerated laugh. Brennan spun around as fast as she could.

"Of course not. Guessing's your department," she administered.

Booth snorted.

"Is she always this fun?" he asked the pretty brunette.

Angela hid a smirk.

"Autopsy x-rays," the cold doctor said, slapping a brown envelope on his chest so he would take it. "I'll be examining the remains if you need anything else. Have a nice day!" she said without really caring if he did or not. And she left.

"Bones! Wait up!" He hurried after her. "Bones!"

"You have to stop calling me that," she told him, spinning around but continuing to make her way to the exam room. "It's ridiculous. I have a doctorate from Northwes..."

"Yeah, I know," he interrupted her. "This is a serious case. I need you to focus and stop pulling my leg."

She made a face.

"Wh... I never touched your leg!"

Is she serious?

"It's a figure of speech, ok?"

He had caught up with her now, so she stopped walking and pushed his torso.

This man has no idea what personal space means.

"You have all you need to continue your investigation. So you focus," she said, patronizingly, "and I'll call you if I find anything else."

She tapped on his chest twice and entered the room.

"Is it too much to ask for a little explanation as to how you came up with this stuff about centimetres, or do I have to take your word for it?"

She sighed heavily. Over-slowly, she took the brown envelope from him, opened it and took out the x-rays. She put them up on a white board and turned the light on behind it.

"There. Those are from the repeated impact of the conical points at the end of the metal slug of a bush hammer."

"The tiny dots?" Booth squinted. He really wasn't seeing anything. Maybe she was making this up to get rid of him.

She went on.

"Judging by the depth of these... tiny dots," she dummied up for him, "I was able to determine the physical force of the attacker, therefore figuring out he was male. The directionality of the... tiny dots suggest the victim was struck by a right hand."

"Ha!" he startled her with an accusing finger. "But you said I was looking for a lefty man."

So he really was listening.

"See why I wanted to confirm with you?" he said. "You misspoke and I would have been looking for the wrong half of the male population."

"Right-handers make up more than half of the population. 90 to 93 %, to be exact. And that's counting women. And I never misspeak. If you want the right perpetrator, you need to look for a lefty."

"But you sa..."

This man was giving her a headache.

"The angle of the blows suggests the victim was struck by a right hand, but this, here... clearly indicates a lack of muscle power. The person who did this was not using his good hand and was not used to it. So you are probably looking for a man who injured his right arm or hand recently. Anything else?"

He stood there, agape.

"Good," she concluded.

She put the x-rays back into the envelope and threw them at him.

"Class dismissed. Have a nice day."

***

"You expect me to believe that you figured out she was a secretary with... this?" he said, grabbing some kind of instrument.

Who does he think he is?

She slapped his hand so he'd drop it.

He was probably trying to rattle her cage. Get her to lose control. He seemed to be the type of man who liked to be on top. Sexually, too. She was not going to let him. Ever.

"With all this information," he continued, circling the table, "how do I know you're not the killer?"

Enough!

She planted herself in front of him.

"Listen up. For the last time. And I will speak sloooooowly. Either you accept my findings and catch the killer, or you go back to high school to get the credits you need to get into college and get a doctorate in forensic anthropology. Then we can discuss."

He snorted.

"You're unbearable. I hope you have a great imagination too, because you're gonna spend the rest of your life alone by alienating every human being less capable than you."

She raised an eyebrow and brought her shoulders back.

"As a matter of fact, I do. I'm currently thinking of writing a book."

Oh, my God! That freaking pompous tone!

He just laughed it off.

"Right. Well, I can't wait to read it," he told her. "I have trouble sleeping. If it's as fun as you are, it will probably help me a great deal."

***

Booth walked in quietly, not to scare her. Ok. Maybe she scared him a little with her intellect and her detachment from everything. Plus, watching her, lost in her contemplation of the skeleton... He wasn't sure how he felt about that. Was it sexy? Was it disturbing? Disturbingly hot?

"Look, I'm sorry if I offended you by not trusting you implicitly, even though I don't know you, but I take my job seriously and..."

"I'm not offended. Though you are wasting my time by making me repeat everything twice. It's noble for you to try, but my expertise is obviously too complex for you to begin to grasp."

She had actually taken his breath away. And not in a good way.

"You are a judgemental..." Bitch. "... person. You think you're so much better than everyone else!"

"I am better," she corrected him.

He took a step closer to her.

"You're just as human as all of us, Bones."

"Don't call me that!" she hissed between her teeth. If he didn't watch it, he would end up in the hospital.

He stepped closer again.

"Why not? I like it. Bones." He let the nickname bounce on his tongue. He leaned forward, near her ear, and as his hand landed on the table, it was met by hers, pushing it off.

"I said stop."

"Why, Bones?"

She couldn't help herself. Her hand took off, and before she could realize what was happening, the clapping sound made her palm sting. She had slapped him.

"Ow!" he yelped out, completely surprised.

Slightly shocked by her own visceral reaction, she pretended it was all calculated.

"Sorry. It looked like the only way to shut you up."

"You assaulted a federal agent!"

He wanted to laugh, but he really was pissed. And impressed. That was some slap!

Her heart was stomping in her chest. Probably induced by the confrontational setting of the situation. Not because her body was responding to his very stunning physical attributes. She was not some giggly 20 year-old, for God's sake!

"Oh, get over yourself," she told him. No. She was not speaking to herself.

"You know, just because you use long and boring words and quote the encyclopaedia in Latin every 5 seconds, it doesn't make you fascinating. Just plain annoying."

She looked him right in the eye. Like she was going to let some suit intimidate her.

"And just because you know how to use your charm smile and your big badge to get a table in a restaurant, it doesn't make you important. There's plenty of you out there, and only one of me."

"And you know why?" he immediately retorted. "Because God is merciful!"

She laughed out loud like he just had said something funny. He was not being funny, he was being mean!

"Ok. We can argue about the religious matter some other time. I have work to do."

"Oh! Am I stopping you, Bones?"

He almost flinched after calling out her new permanent nickname. One slap a day was enough.

She took a deep breath.

"My name. Is. Dr. Temperance Brennan." She narrowed her eyes. "Maybe you need to call me Bones in a vain attempt to make you feel superior, Mr. Special agent, but..."

He shut his eyes to prevent his brain from exploding.

"Cut the crap, will you?" he interrupted her. "What's this about?"

"What?"

"Why are you so worked up, all the time? You forgot to take your meds?"

Her hands turned to fists. She dug her nails into her palms.

"You..." she groaned.

"What?"

"I can't stand you! And I'm pretty sure you can't stand me. Although I have seen you look at my ass on more than one occasion."

He opened his mouth, probably to disagree, but she didn't let him.

"I can't wait for this investigation to be over so I never have to suffer you ever again."

"Then do your damn job and help me close the case!" he yelped, raising his arms.

"Then stop harassing me and quit arguing with all my findings!"

They both tried to catch their breath, stuck in their first real staring contest.

How could such an insufferable person be so gorgeous? Weren't scientist supposed to be... unappealing?

***

She was about to shut down her computer when she caught a glimpse of him out of the corner of her eye.

I thought I was done with this clown.

"What are you doing here?"

He smiled as best as he could. Aw. She's so charming.

"I came here to ask you if you wanted to grab a beer to celebrate."

She filled her bag with random things from her desk. Like she'd actually go out with him after the hell he had put her through this week.

"Celebrate what?"

"We closed our case!"

Not even a dash of enthusiasm on her part. Just a plain,

"She's still dead. There's nothing to celebrate."

She fastened her bag on her shoulder.

"We caught the killer," he offered.

She reached behind him to grab her coat. He had no intention of moving by himself, so she pushed him aside.

"You caught the killer. You wouldn't let me come along, remember?"

"I told you! I didn't have proper authorization for you to partici..."

She was already out the door.

Why are you chasing after her, you moron? She wants out. Let her go. Good riddance!

"Aw, come on, Bones!"

Her feet stopped moving. Her eyes closed in frustration.

"Don't..."

"Sorry!" He honestly was. This time. "It won't happen again."

She turned around to face him.

"You know, you would have caught him sooner if your incapacity to accept the facts handed to you hadn't stalled you."

"Yeah, alright. Next time, I'll trust you right off the bat."

She laughed out loud.

"There won't ever be a next time. Bat or no bat."

"At last, we agree on something."

There! She was standing still!

"So! You coming?" he asked again, clueless as to why.

She tilted her head and studied his features.

"Why would you want to spend any more time with me?"

He remembered a little thing called 'pride'.

"... Hey. I'm not gonna beg you, ok? You don't want free beer, fine. I was just being polite."

It was his turn to go and hers to follow.

"You don't strike me as being the polite type. And I thought you didn't like me."

His laugh was clear. It resonated through the empty lab.

"Oh, I don't like you." He spun around to look at her. "But you are strangely fascinating."

***

She rarely went out with coworkers. Not that Booth was a co-worker. But she had no idea how to converse with that man. She should have asked Angela to come, too. Why hadn't she? Because you wanted to be alone with him. She took a long sip. Yeah, right.

"Here." Booth brought 2 shot glasses and set them in front of them, at the bar.

"What's this?"

"Tequila!" he almost shouted excitedly.

She watched him sit down next to her. Close to her. Too close for comfort. Yet, she was not uncomfortable.

"I don't really like Tequila," she informed him.

"No one likes Tequila," he said.

He handed her a shot glass and took the other.

"To our first and last case together."

He raised his so she raised hers.

"Cheers," he said, clinking it with hers.

She swallowed its content without coughing. It went straight to her head. She breathed out heavily the fire burning her throat and slammed her empty glass on the bar, eyes tightly shut together.

"You ok?" Booth laughed.

"I'm fine."

When she opened her eyes, he was still gazing at her. She avoided his stare because his smile was making her lips want to reciprocate. Like it was contagious. This man was an enigma.

He was still looking at her, she could feel it on her skin. She took another sip of beer and pretended to look around. She wracked her brain to find something to say.

He spoke first.

"Did you grow up in D.C.?"

"Not really," she evaded. "You?"

"Nope."

She played with a stranded pretzel on the table. She counted to ten, trying to find something to say. She usually could speak about any subject. Yet, she couldn't find any, the way her heart was thumping, distractingly. She had to ask. She pushed her beer bottle away and turned to him.

"Why did you invite me here?"

Good question.

"We have nothing to say to each other. At all."

"I told you. I was... being polite," he said.

"It's because you intend on sleeping with me, right?"

Booth chocked on his drink. She watched him cough up.

"What?! No! Wh... I don't want to sleep with you," he lied.

She waited until she knew he was breathing normally again and continued.

"Then why are you sitting so close to me?"

He looked at their legs, practically touching. He desperately felt the urge to scoot over, but he didn't. Instead, he sat even closer. Until their knees touched.

"You afraid you won't be able to resist me?" he asked in a provocative voice that was so not his own.

"Yeah. I'm a bundle of burning desire," she said, wanting to sound nonchalant.

She put distance between them.

"You know, I figured you out," he let out.

"Really?" she asked, tentatively.

"Yup."

He took a sip.

"Do tell," she said, resting her elbow on the bar and her head on her fist.

"You feel threatened by me," he explained.

Her laugh made the corners of his lips rise into a discreet smile.

"If I feel threatened, as you say, then why am I here?"

"I didn't say you didn't enjoy it. It's probably the most excitement you've had in a long time."

Her smile vanished. She didn't have time to give him an exposé on the very fun and fulfilling life she led. She decided to rise above it and ignore him. After that comment.

"You're an ass," she said.

Yup, you are.

They remained quiet for a while again.

Back to square one.

Why am I staying here?

Until the basket of fries he had ordered arrived in front of them.

She went to take some, but he pulled it towards him and looked at her like she was insane.

"Hey!" he exclaimed.

"What, you're gonna eat all that by yourself?" She raised an eyebrow, doubtful.

"I've got a big appetite," he confirmed.

A smile he would have qualified as naughty drew itself on her lips as she brought her face nearer and nearer.

"Oh yeah?" she whispered.

And his breathing stopped.

She took a handful of fries and sat back, laughing.

"You. Are so typical! The stereotype of a stereotype, really."

The tamed lighting gave him a chance to feel embarrassed without her really noticing anything.

"You just took me by surprise," he claimed.

She smirked. Sure.

He had to get out from under her microscope.

"For the record, I never looked at your ass," he told her.

I knew it!

She shook her head slowly. "That's all you can think about, isn't it?"

"Sure. Because all men are pigs. Right?"

She sat up straighter.

"I'm not a prude. You don't have to pretend you're not sexually attracted to me."

"Me!? You're the one who's been drooling since the minute we met."

"I'm sorry to hurt you oversized ego," she apologized, "but you are not my type."

Booth snorted.

"Of course I'm not. I'm not a lab rat."

But just for the heck of it, he drew closer.

"I'm not interested," she reasserted, short of breath. She wondered if she had just licked her lips.

His arm was against hers on the counter now. His nose, less than two inches away from hers. She didn't mean to look at his lips. She didn't recognize her voice as she almost whispered,

"Even if you get on top of me, I won't be tempted. You might have a charming exterior, but no amount of alcohol is gonna make me forget how insanely conceited and puerile you..."

His lips crashed onto hers as his hand cupped the back of her head. She almost instantly darted her tongue out. His was already there, waiting. She fully tasted his lower lip first, then moaned as he breathed out in her mouth, bringing her head forward. As they mutually deepened the kiss, her hands found his thighs and her fingers dug into them. He softly brought his hand to her cheek and caressed her jaw once with his thumb before pulling away. Breathless.

What the hell was that, Booth?

She looked down and slowly took her hands off of his legs.

"I thought you said you didn't want to sleep with me?" she quoted.

She sounded so pleased to win that argument. He couldn't let her. No matter how right she was.

"Oh, I don't," he swore. "It looked like the only way to shut you up." He could easily have stopped there. But he had to go and screw them up before they had even started. "You don't come off as cold when you don't talk."

That's how he ended up with beer all over his face and shirt.

"Oh. Sorry. Was that cold?"

And she was out of the bar.

Out his life.

For a few months at least.


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