The Burden of Proof

Reasonable Doubt

"Did you see his face?" Booth asked to break the silence they were in, waiting for the elevator to get out of there.

"Yes. He didn't seem to want to believe us."

"He was just shocked that we weren't always perfect, that's all."

The elevator doors opened and they went in. She let him press the button because she knew how much he liked it.

Going to Sweets had served no purpose. Maybe Booth hadn't read the whole book. Maybe he had skipped the part where a trained psychologist concluded they were in love with each other. She was convinced he would have brought it up first thing. Booth did not like to be told how he felt. Especially when it wasn't true. Could it be that...

She shifted her weight on her feet and averted his eyes.

"I hadn't thought about our first case in a very long time. And... although I remember it, I can't quite believe it either."

Booth focused on the panel in front of him to put that specific night out of his head. He remembered everything. But not enough.

"I guess I... never apologized to you," he said.

She looked at him before looking down.

"You made up for it over time, I think."

He waited. She didn't, so he asked,

"Aren't you gonna apologize?"

The doors opened.

"I'm sorry I threw my beer in your face," she said before exiting into the underground parking lot.

"And?" he said, following her, although his car was not near hers at all.

"And... I'm sorry I slapped you?" she guessed.

He watched her unlock her car and open the door. She shielded herself by standing behind it.

"That's it?" he pressed on.

She capitulated.

"I guess I wasn't that nice to you either."

"Nope," he smiled. It wasn't an apology, but it was close enough.

"You know..." She fumbled with her key chain. "You were right."

"Of course I was. About what? About you wanting me?"

He had meant that as a joke. Or he thought he did. But he saw her blush, and he knew he was almost there. Because Dr. Temperance Brennan was not one to blush over sexual matters.

"Well y... Back then... It was different. But I didn't hate you."

"You did a pretty good job pretending you did."

"I did feel threatened by you."

She understood how better off they were, never having slept together. They probably wouldn't have the relationship they had now, otherwise. Yet, she couldn't help but fantasize. If that kiss were any indication, it would have been incredibly passionate.

"Do you think that if w..."

He jumped on her choice of words immediately.

"You never do 'what ifs'," he pointed out.

And he was right. Of course. But...

"If I hadn't thrown my beer in your face..."

"You mean, if I hadn't acted like a giant jackass?"

"Yes. Do you think we would have..."

He interrupted her again. Why was he refusing to talk about this?

"As a very intelligent friend of mine would say, 'What is done is done and talking about it won't change anything'."

"That's what I always say!" she exclaimed. Before she realize. "Oh." She giggled. "You were talking about me."

He smiled. She went for it again, rephrasing her question so there would be no more interruptions. He was getting more and more precise with semantics which made it harder to argue with. But bluntness would always be a quick and efficient shortcut to a win.

"Did you have a sexual interest in me or were you really trying to shut me up?"

There was no point in denying it anymore. She needed some assurance.

"Yes."

It pained her not to understand at once.

"Yes you were trying to shut me up or yes you were sex..."

"I wanted you with every fibre of by being, Bones."

The wind knocked out of her, she blinked. She realized her fingers were about to start shaking. She felt a whole in her stomach as she unsteadily gasped for air. She stood there, without words, and let him look at her. He continued.

"And that threw me. Because I really did not like you at all. Not even one little bit." He licked his lips. "That's why I acted like... like I did. You were right to throw your beer at me."

"Because sex needs love to be magical?"

He had rarely seen her look so vulnerable. He lowered his voice. His warm tone calmed her. Shook her.

"Because you deserve more than that."

She wasn't sure if she had heard past or present tense.

Now that he had been honest, wasn't it her turn?

"And you?"

She looked up at him.

"Were you attracted to me too?" he added.

"Of course," she dropped like it was obvious.

He swallowed a nervous laugh and shook his head. That was so... her.

But of course!

"So, Sweets. Do you think he will reassess his theory?" she asked.

"Who cares what he thinks?"

"You do. You always care what people think of you."

"Well, it doesn't matter, right?" He shrugged. "We know the truth."

We do? What's the truth?

"Yeah. You're right. We know the truth," she repeated.

What truth? The one where he's wrong or where he's right?


It hadn't left her mind at all. Not once. She could almost hear his words echoing in a loop. I wanted you with every fibre of my being, Bones. Every night, she went to sleep with those words, and every minute of every day, she kept flashing back to them. She loved those words. They made her... somewhat happy. But something bothered her. If she kept thinking about what he had said, maybe he was too. Thinking about what she had said. And Booth was not one to be comfortable with this kind of information. She didn't want him to distance himself from her. She didn't want him to feel weird about the fact that she had once desired him. And she really didn't want him to freak out thinking –and he would be so right- that she still desired him immensely. So she decided to set things straight. Make sure he knew they were fine. Make sure they were fine.

He had decided it was time. Well, he hadn't really decided anything, but his gut was telling him it was time. And as she had told him before, he should reconcile with his gut. So he entered her office with every intention of doing just that.

"Bones, do you have a minute?"

She was standing next to her desk, like she was waiting for him.

"Booth. Yes. But I need to talk to you first," she said, flat out.

"Sure. What's up?"

She walked up to the couch, sat down and motioned for him to do the same.

He got nervous, all of a sudden, but he sat down anyway.

She wasn't sure where to begin. She bit her lips, looked at his tie. It was crooked and she ached to readjust it, but she scratched a spot right under her nose and set her hands on her own lap instead.

"Uhm... Ever since we read Sweets' book, I've been meaning to say something to you."

His heart stopped. Well, not really, but it damn felt like it. He wasn't dreaming, was he? She really was about to say it? First?

"Yeah?" he whispered, encouraging her to continue.

"Yes. Uhm... You..." She finally looked him in the eye and found the courage to go on. "You're one of the most important people in my life. Or the most important. You... I never had a relationship like ours before. I want you to know... that it is very special to me. And... I want to make it clear that I don't want anything to jeopardize that. And... Well, that's pretty much it. I just wanted you to know that. You're an amazing man. And I feel privileged to have you in my life."

Booth's heart swelled. Trembled. And burst slightly. Yet another curve ball. What was that supposed to mean? That she didn't want anything to change? And what was he supposed to say? 'Right back atcha' sounded rather bleak after that uncharacteristic speech. So he took it in and put his opened hand on her knee.

"You don't have anything to worry about. I'm not going anywhere."

"I know."

Somehow those two little words meant more to him than her previous confession. He squeezed her knee lightly.

"You wanna grab a beer?" he asked. And this time, she wouldn't throw it in his face. He just knew it.

But her features grew serious. And uneasy. No, no, no, no...

"I can't."

She felt terrible. And the look on his face didn't help much.

"You have plans," he guessed, fearing the worst.

"Yes."

That tone. The way she was avoiding his eyes. He understood and couldn't help a pathetic laugh. Here we go again.

"With Andrew," he guessed again.

"I..."

He raised his hand to stop her, shutting his eyes for a mere second.

"It's fine!" he told himself. And to bring a little more conviction into it, he smiled brightly.

She didn't buy it.

"No, Booth, really, it's just coffee!" She tried to stop him as he got up. This was not what he was thinking. Not that she knew what he was thinking, but she needed to explain. Go figure.

"I didn't ask," he finished.

She grabbed his arm and forced him to face her.

"I know you don't approve. I don't want you to think I don't care what you... think."

That sounded pretty smart, didn't it?

She can do what she wants. Then why are you so worked up? Maybe she really didn't want anything to change. What they had was pretty good. It was more than good, in fact. But there was still so much more to have. And he wanted all of it.

Maybe this was a sign. Maybe she was meant to just remain his partner and friend. Because this... was too damn hard.

Before he could help himself, he told her,

"Then I won't be able to have lunch tomorrow like we planned." I'll probably be bawling my eyes out like the sissy you turned me into.

"Ok," she said.

But he heard So what?, and added,

"Yeah. I have plans, you know."

She simply nodded. She didn't get it or she didn't care?

"No problem," she reassured him.

No problem?! THAT'S the problem!

And without thinking, it popped out.

"With Dr. Klein."

Oh.

Finally, something flickered in her eyes.

Brennan's noted a change in her body. She got tensed. And agitated.

"The... uhm... the aquarium lady we met on the case?" she asked, trying not to sound the way she felt. Like she could forget that gorgeous somewhat evil-looking creature that had been all over her partner for the last few days.

"The marine biologist," he corrected her. "Yes."

"But..." But what? "She was a suspect."

"You've dated suspects before," he commented. But that was not the point. "And she's not a suspect anymore. So."

So? Nothing. Have fun with the fish lady. She blocked those thoughts out of her mind. Out of her mind, yes. And she kept silent.

Booth was starting to feel the aftertaste of a lie. Guilt. Maybe he had to tone it done a bit.

"It's just lunch," he tried.

Brennan's chin went up slightly.

"I'm sure you'll have a nice time," she said.

No! I didn't want your blessing. I just... I wanted you to react. Not to shut me out.

"Yup."

Yup? What kind of moron are you, Seeley Joseph Booth?

God! He had screwed himself bad. He could not use a woman to make another woman jealous. Especially when the latter didn't believe in jealousy. Needless to say he had no intention of going out with that aquarium lady. Ever. He didn't have to, did he?

If he thought he had broken through to her... She had just put up a new wall. She was never going to let him in now, was she?

You're an ass, she had once told him.

He hadn't changed much, really.


Brennan was rearranging the content of her bookshelves. She hadn't realized how messy she had become. A little order would do her some good.

Angela's smile froze as she approached her best friend's office. Oh no. She was alphabetizing again? She put her fists on her hips.

"Put it down, Brennan," she ordered.

Book in hand, Brennan turned to Angela.

"What?"

"Put down the book and step away from the shelves. Slowly."

She enjoyed playing cop. But this was serious.

"Tell me what happened," she instructed.

"Why would you think something happened? Nothing's happened, obviously, since I have time to clean up."

Angela stole the book from her hands and raised an eyebrow.

"Aren't you supposed to have lunch?"

Brennan's stomach twisted. She grabbed the book back and turned her back to Angela, tiptoeing to slide it in its proper place.

"I wasn't hungry," she mumbled.

Here we are.

"And where's Booth?"

"Out," Brennan replied immediately.

"Out where?"

"Out there."

All the books were settled back on their shelves, so she frantically ran her eyes over her desk to find something to do.

Angela, who oozed with calm, took a seat in her chair.

"Alone?" she carefully threw her bait. She didn't miss it. Brennan shut her eyes. For less than a second, but she still did.

"With Dr. Klein."

Her friend turned her back to her again, so she allowed herself to lose her smile for a bit and widen her eyes as big as she felt stunned. She hadn't seen much of that doctor, but what she had seen was stunning. Then she relaxed. This would have been a potentially big problem if she hadn't known Booth. That strong FBI man was so in love with Brennan, it was almost painful to watch. She tried to find comforting words -dipped in subtlety- to give Brennan. But then it hit her. She let out a not-so-subtle chuckle.

"What's so funny?" Brennan asked.

"Wow." That's all Angela said before she was being insistently asked again,

"What?"

"Can't you see? Dr. Klein is you!"

Brennan frowned.

"That's absurd. I'm me."

"Exactly."

The frown was not going away.

"What?"

"And Hacker... is Booth!" she explained, realizing –and enjoying- how insightful she was.

Brennan snorted.

"No he's not. Andrew is definitely not Booth."

Angela raised her hands. Tada!

"Exactly!"

"What are you trying to say, Ange?"

Angela stood up and entered Brennan's personal space. Brennan frowned again and crossed her arms over her chest, studying her friend's features.

"You read Sweets' book and suddenly, you both have dates?"

"I admit," she started, averting eye contact, "that his timing is peculiar, but I, on the other hand, started seeing Andrew before Sweets showed us his book and stopped seeing him after."

Angela grabbed her shoulders.

"You're not with Hacker anymore?"

"I never really was... We had coffee last time and I told him I didn't have time for him anymore."

So delicate.

"Does Booth know?" Angela asked.

"He said he didn't want to know."

"Oh, trust me. He wants to know."

Too bad.

Brennan got away from Angela and walked to the other side of her office. To breathe.

"Well, it's none of his business, really. And maybe I will tell Andrew that I cleared up my schedule." If Booth has time to date... I can to.

Angela tried really hard to not crack. But she just couldn't leave it at that.

"You two are bringing denial to a whole new level, you know that? It doesn't even make sense anymore. Unbelievable!"

And she fled out of there before doing any real damage.


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