The Burden of Proof

Under Contention

"Bones! Check this out!"

Brennan slowed her pace as she entered her office.

"What are you doing on my computer?"

"Waiting for you."

She tilted her head and aimed her index at her desktop.

"I have private documents on there," she pointed out, throwing her bag on the couch.

"Relax, I was just using the Internet. Plus, you wouldn't keep personal stuff in your work computer."

"How would you know if you didn't look?"

"You just wouldn't. Now, come and check this out," he said again, waiting for her to get over herself and comply.

She sighed. Another lost battle. She walked up to him, with every intention of standing behind him. But she realized, at the last second, that this was her desk. Her chair. She pulled on his arm.

"Up, up," she instructed.

He didn't whine about it and let her sit.

"What am I looking at?" she asked.

"Hold on..." he said, leaning over her right shoulder. Her eyes closed as her stomach quivered. His right hand took control of the mouse. When his left hand landed on her left shoulder, she stopped breathing, afraid he would notice she was almost panting, and let a shiver run its course down her spine.

"What is this, Booth?" she almost whispered.

"You'll see... just... here."

He clicked once on an image and a video started playing. She didn't have time for this. So she made the time and started paying attention. It looked like some random short documentary about elephants. She had no idea Booth liked elephants. She turned her head to him, puzzled.

He motioned to the screen.

"Just watch, would you?"

So she did.

A woman was being interviewed. 'Every elephant that comes here searches out someone that she then spends most of her time with.'

She went to turn to Booth again, but he probably saw it coming, because he gently pushed her chin so she would stick her eyes on the computer.

So, the video was about some kind of elephant retreat. And how all the elephants found another elephant to be 'friends' with, as they said on screen. But there was one elephant who didn't find anyone, so it was stuck with a dog. And apparently, they were 'inseparable', which Brennan highly doubted. But the video went on. And she let herself believe the story she was being told.

One day, the dog got injured. And for three weeks, the elephant stood guard and waited outside the clinic where the dog was being treated. Every day for three weeks.

They showed a clip of a veterinarian bringing the dog outside to see the elephant. The reunion made Brennan's eyes starting to sting. She blinked a few times and willed the nonsense away.

The narration found its way to her insides. 'They harbor no fears, no secrets, no prejudices. Just two living creatures who, somehow, manage to look past their immense differences... If they can do it, what's our excuse?'

The video ended. She blinked again to make sure she wasn't crying like every one of the 3,427,155 people who had watched this. The number was written beneath the video.

"Are you crying?" Booth asked, mi-concerned, mi-proud of himself.

"Of course not."

He watched as she tried to hide it. And she raised an eyebrow.

"It was cute," she said, detached and a little too high pitched.

His eyes dropped to her arm. –And no, they did not linger on her chest. Which was showing. A lot.- He slowly ran his index finger on her forearm.

"You've got chills," he said, tilting his head and looking straight at her.

"The temperature in my office is..."

Whatever!

"It was good, huh? An elephant and a dog, best friends. That amazes me."

She smirked.

"It was interesting," she admitted. "They obviously benefit from each other. It's a beautiful demonstration of a biological interaction called mutualism."

Booth's frown could not be missed. His lips slightly parted, he shook his head.

"Haven't we just watched the same video? They said nothing about biological mutism or whatever thing you just said."

"But it is!" she insisted. "By associating with the elephant, the dog gets shelter and protection, among other things. It's no wonder it follows the pachyderm around all the time."

"They're friends, Bones! Best friends. They love each other."

Was he ever gonna get through to her?

"Animals don't have friends, Booth."

She saw that his jaw clenched. He was probably grinding his teeth. Her tongue passed quickly on her lips.

"Ok. Let's say you're right..." he stated.

"I am right."

"What does the elephant get out of this?"

She thought. And thought. Turned to the screen to remember... Nothing.

"... Then perhaps I was wrong," she admitted.

"Ah ha!" He raised his arm in victory. Too soon. She wasn't done.

"Perhaps it was commensalism, where one benefits from the other, whose unaffected by it."

"The elephant's got somebody, that's what he gets!" he forced fed her.

"You're highly emotional about this documentary, Booth."

"You're so..." He lifted his hands, like trying to grasp the air and his hands turned to fists. "Gahhh!" he let out, beyond frustrated.

"What? I said it was a beautiful, didn't I?"

"But you had to go all technical and scientific and..."

"Cold?" she suggested.

Booth didn't hesitate long.

"To be honest? Yes. That was a little cold."

She would not let her eyes fill with tears. She would not. Her nose started to tickle. She knew she wouldn't be able to hold it in much longer.

"Well, that's just how I am," she said, as dryly as she could.

Her eyes were shimmering. It should have softened him up, but he just... It made it worse. She felt but she couldn't admit that, could she?

"And what's it called when two living creatures both get nothing from the relationship?" he asked right away. Pissed as hell.

"Then it's not a relationship," she confirmed.

"Clearly."

And on that mumble, he was out. Disappointed. So deeply it hurt. That's how the old Dr. Brennan would react. His Bones was past all that, wasn't she? Was he really back to square one?

Brennan watched him leave. A dull wave washed over her. She held in a shark intake of breath. She was cold. That was just her way. Her chest tightened. But for him to say it out loud? She couldn't breathe. A cold person wouldn't react that way. She wasn't cold. She wasn't. She exhaled and tightly sealed her eyelids together for a second. It didn't stop her eyes from welling up. Damn it.

"What happened?" Angela butted in. "Are you crying?"

Brennan didn't have time to do or say anything. Angela was already next to her.

"Why are you..." But her question died on her lips when she looked at the screen. She laughed, relieved. "Well, no wonder you're tearing up! This is one of my favorite videos! Did you see the one where a monkey adopts a kitten?"

Brennan mindlessly shook her head 'no'.

"Here. Let me. I'll find it."

"Some other time, Ange, ok? I should work."

"Sure!" Angela backed up and examined her friend. "You ok?"

"Yup."

Yeah, right.

"Ok... Here's the 3D rendering you needed. It doesn't tell us much, but you should give it to Booth."

"Thanks," she said, taking the CD from her hands.


When she glimpsed at the clock, Brennan jumped. It was past noon. Had she really spent all her morning going through a bunch of sometimes sappy, sometimes disturbingly funny videos? It really was fascinating... She just couldn't quite grasp the determinism of the 'related videos' section.

"Dr. Brennan, Booth's asking for the ID report," Cam said, passing in front of her office. "He's being briefed and thoroughly annoyed by Hodgins on the platform."

"Be right there," she said.

Crap. She hadn't done the report. She took an empty folder and inserted a few random sheets in it. There.

When she reached the platform, Booth was rolling his eyes at something. Hodgins seemed to be ranting. She heard the word 'government' and stopped listening.

"Booth," she said. When she arrived in front of him, she noticed she was nervous. Because of this morning. She hoped he was willing to pretend, as she was, that nothing was wrong. "I'm almost done," she said, holding the fake folder up. "But I still need a few minutes." About 180 of them.

"As long as I have it by tonight," he said. "They want to release the identity of the victim on the news as soon as possible."

"No problem."

He nodded.

Waited.

She nodded.

Waiting.

Hodgins escaped discreetly. He didn't need to witness yet another staring contest.

Cam arrived and decided to wait a little bit before swiping her card to the platform.

Brennan wracked her brain to find something to say. Some platitude, some small talk material. Anything to get them back on track. Maybe if she asked him about himself or...

"How's Dr. Klein doing?"

She hadn't meant to. She really didn't want to know anything about it. It had just... popped out.

"Great," he said, as precise as ever.

"Great," she echoed. "Andrew's great, too." Not that he asked.

"Great."

Cam had had enough.

"Hey!" she said, climbing the few stairs. "Why don't you all go on a double date?"

Cam was great with sarcasm. But they had no idea she was using it now.

"No," Brennan said faintly.

"NO!" That one was from Booth.

They had answered at the exact same time, but Brennan turned to him, chuckling. That was weird.

"Why such a 'no'?" she asked.

"You said no, too."

"I'm just curious as to why you yelled yours..."

"I didn't yell," he argued. "It's just a ridiculous idea."

I couldn't agree more, Cam thought. Though it'd be hilarious to watch.

Brennan tilted her head and squinted.

"You afraid I would crap your style?"

Crap my... Oh! Cramp my style. He laughed on the inside. Really.

"Something like that," he said.

"Are you hungry?" she tried after a few seconds of more awkwardness. She had to get started on his report, but she could squeeze in some fries.

"Can't. I have plans for lunch. I'm sorry." He really was. There were few things he loved more than having lunch with her.

Brennan didn't even need to ask who he was having lunch with. Her gut knew. And her gut didn't like it. Lunch was their thing. And he had said it himself, what went on between them, that should just be theirs. Right? Was there a double standard?

"Are you going to the diner?" she asked anyway, dreading his answer.

"No. Some fancy French place," he grimaced.

She felt better. Slightly.

"You should order a Brandade de morue," she said with her best French accent.

"What's that?"

"Cod-fish."

He laughed out loud. Somehow he doubted a marine biologists would appreciate that.

She smiled, proud of having successfully made him laugh. It had been a while.

She went to the computer on the platform and printed out all the data she needed for the report.

Meanwhile, Angela arrived and joined Hodgins, who had come back, and Cam.

"You can't be serious," Brennan heard Angela whisper.

"I thought he was making it up," Cam said.

"I can't believe he let her come here," Angela continued.

Brennan knew, deep down, who they were referring to before she even turned around to see her for herself. Dr. Catherine Klein. In her lab. That wasn't right.

"She's so hot," Hodgins said.

But that granted him two deadly set of stares and a slap on the chest.

"Sorry!" he said. "Just the impartial observer."

Brennan could have sworn her blood was boiling. She watched as Booth and that woman left the lab. At a respectable distance from each other, but still. She couldn't take it. She walked as fast as she could to her office.

Angela grabbed the sheets Brennan had left in the printer and followed her, after a look towards Cam. I'll take care of this.

When Angela entered, Brennan was pacing. All over.

"This doesn't make sense," she said.

"I agree. She shouldn't have set foot in here."

"No, not that. Me."

Angela dropped the papers on her desk and sat on the couch.

"What do you mean? It's your lab, Brennan. You just don't let random people come and go as they please."

"She's not random. She's Booth's... She's not random. It shouldn't bother me."

"But it does."

"Evidently."

Brennan sat down, too. Let's look at this objectively. Or not.

"Maybe it's because I'm not used to him dating. Or him talking about it. Or flaunting it in my face."

You've flaunted first. And often.

"But I'm not comfortable with the idea of Booth dating Dr. Klein." There. It was out. "She seems off to me. You know? Something's just not..." And there she was, trying to justify everything. She looked at her best friend, begging for help. "I don't understand why it bothers me that much. This isn't me."

"Never mind the reason, Brennan. The important is what you feel, not why you feel it. Just... be upfront with him. Tell him, straight to his face, that you don't want him to date her."

Brennan shook her head.

"I can't. He... I got angry when he told me not to date in his pool."

Huh?

"I can't just tell him what to do," she concluded, still considering it. And again.


Brennan had wasted 14 minutes searching for a parking space before going into the Founding Fathers. All of her co-workers were there, at the bar. She walked up to them. She was nervous. She still wasn't sure she would do it. Asking him to break it off with Dr. Klein seemed so wrong... But it felt right. So she hadn't decided.

"Here you go," Booth said, sliding a beer in front of her.

But she didn't thank him. She ignored it.

"Can I talk to you?"

Apparently, she had made up her mind without even knowing it.

Taken aback, Booth turned to her, ready to listen.

"In private," she added, looking around. Yes. They were all staring at them. Angela gave her an encouraging nod.

Booth got up and followed her as she went outside. She halted beside the bus stop and turned to face him. His heart was about to pop out of his chest. He had never heard her voice sound this weak and uncertain before.

"I would feel more comfortable if you didn't see Dr. Klein anymore."

There. Go crazy.

Booth chuckled. This is so good.

"So... I have no say in whom you're dating, but you can just... tell me what to do?" he inquired.

Of course there was no logic to that. She spoke again, apologetic.

"I was just expressing... what I felt. I didn't think it through."

"That's unlikely..."

Ok, he had made his point. She was acting like a fool.

She walked passed him to go back inside.

"Fine!" he said to stop her from running away again. "I won't date her," he promised.

She frowned.

"Just like that?"

She took a few slow steps towards him, searching his face for an explanation.

"Yup. Just like that," he replied.

Brennan reflected.

"... She won't be happy about it," she pointed out. And you hate confrontation. Though you are excellent at it.

"I'll deal with it. I'll tell her... there's plenty of fish in the sea. She'll understand."

Brennan laughed.

"That's funny! Because she's a marine biologist. So using a fish metaphor is..."

He was staring at her, smirking.

"But you know that. That's why you said... Ok. Well..." She stared at her shoes. That was easy. "That's settled then. Thank you."

She looked at him. I can't believe that worked. She turned around to leave. He caught her arm, let his hand travel down it and grabbed her hand to pull her back to him.

"You don't want me to date her or you don't want me to date?"

He let go of her hand as she looked at him, completely surprised.

"I can't ask you to stop dating," she stated.

"Sure, you can," he told her, shrugging.

Their eyes wouldn't let go of the other.

Is this a trap?

"Wh... You... And you wouldn't date. Ever? W...hy?"

"Because you would have asked me not to."

She took that in, though she didn't know what to do with it, and let it sink it.

Just to be clear...

"If I ask you to jump off a cliff, will you do it?" she wanted to know.

"No."

"Why not?"

"Because you would miss me too much," he stated, like it was obvious.

He left her there and walked towards to entrance of the bar.

"Aren't you gonna retaliate by asking me not to date?"

"You do whatever feels right, Bones!" he said, going in.

She watched the door close behind him.

What had just happened? Why was she disappointed he hadn't asked her to stop dating?

She wanted him to ask her.

How's that for crazy?


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