The Burden of Proof

Degree of Certitude

They had arrived at the bar thirty minutes ago. And Brennan was still thinking about what Angela had said.

She looked at Booth again. Sweets hadn't killed anyone with the darts yet. Booth was a good teacher. Booth was an incredible man. This is your third drink in half an hour. You need to slow down.

"You're drooling over your new boyfriend," Angela whispered in her ear.

"Stop!" She was being serious. "It's not funny."

Angela apologized. "I'm not making fun of you."

"We would make absolutely no sense as a couple," Brennan stated.

Angela didn't want to push it, but she did anyway.

"Well, you make no sense as friends, honey, but guess what? It totally works!"

She was still staring at Booth. He saw her and waved at her. She waved back. She sighed.

"I love us. I don't want us to change."

"You'd still be the same people, Bren."

"I know."

But did she?

Hodgins came in between them to grab some pretzels.

"Hey! What's the difference between an..."

"We're talking," Angela stopped him.

"I know. Can't I talk to?"

"Are you a woman?"

"Oh. That kind of talk. Yeah, I'll pass..."

He disappeared somewhere in the back.

Angela turned to Brennan again.

"You're just s..."

"Don't say it!" Brennan pleaded.

"... Scared," she finished anyway, slowly, and raising her eyebrows to induce Brennan's silence. "And it's completely normal. It's a natural response. I know that anthropologically, fear helps prevent death or something, but... Loving Booth?"

Brennan's eyes flew shut at the words. Her stomach clenched. Angela lowered her voice.

"It won't make you disappear. Or him. Especially not him." She took a pretzel out of the basket. "And it took me a while to figure that one out, so... you're welcome." And she put it in her mouth.

They heard Sweets yelp and Booth burst out in laughter. Brennan looked at him yet again. That man was so... She had no right to...

"How can I be sure about this?" she asked Angela, not really expecting her to come up with a perfect answer.

"Well, I hardly think you need to be sure to..."

Brennan interrupted her. She had to be sure.

"I'm no good with relationships. I suck at them, in fact. I can't screw this up," she explained, her eyes going back and forth between her partner and her best friend. "I don't want to do this unless I'm sure I will never break his heart. He looks big and strong, but... he's... He deserves better."

Her confession broke Angela's heart. The love she had for Booth was palpable.

"What you're saying is that he deserves better than you. But you won't let him date anyone else. How's that fair to him?"

"It's not," Brennan huffed in a sigh.

"No. It's not."

"Hey, Ange! You gotta see this!" they heard Hodgins yell from somewhere.

Angela looked at Brennan. Everything had been said. The rest, she had to do on her own. She squeezed her friend's hand and went looking for Hodgins.

Brennan's heart started racing as soon as she saw Booth coming her way. She turned around so he wouldn't notice she was still staring, mindlessly took a pretzel and scratched the salt off.

He sat beside her. She was about to do something she really didn't want to do. But she had to be fair. She had to remain grounded. Logical. Rational. Something she missed terribly.

"I'll call Dr. Klein. I'm sure she'll give you another chance."

Booth slowly turned to her. What the...

"Huh?"

Maybe he had misunderstood. Yeah, he had to.

She tried to be clearer, ignoring the dull ache in her chest.

"It was utterly wrong of me to ask you not to see her. I can... I can fix this. Just... give me her number."

Her cell phone was out. She was being serious?

He frowned and almost laughed.

"I don't want to see her. There's nothing to fix."

Ok, so maybe she had screwed this up more than she originally thought. She could still mend the situation. She just had to... uhm...

"Then... How about that blond at the end of the bar?" she said, pointing –even though she knew it was rude to point. "I spoke to her earlier. She's clearly not a doctor, but she seemed... fun."

Booth didn't even remember how to breathe. She had always been weird, but never that ridiculous.

"Bones, what are you doing?"

"I'm... You should..." Her hands must have started shaking because she dropped her phone on the floor. "Crap." She got up from her stool and kneeled on the floor to find it.

"Bones... what..." He kneeled on the floor too. He found her phone before she did and handed it to her. She took it and forgot how to say thank you when their fingers touched. She quickly broke all skin contact and stood up straight, almost bumping her head under the counter. She glared at him, determined.

"I had no right to demand that you put your life on hold for no other reason than my own personal, selfish comfort."

There was nothing else he could say other than,

"My love life has been on hold forever, Bones. You didn't even have to ask."

What did that mean? He couldn't possibly be happy that way. It made no sense whatsoever. And if Angela's theory had been exact, he would have told her he didn't want her to date either. But he didn't care. Which meant they were not...

The thought was still hanging half processed in her head when the words came out of her mouth.

"Why didn't you ask me to stop dating, too?"

That question sank them into a deep and thick silence.

She let him look at her the way he always did, like he was trying to read her. Like she was the most interesting book ever... in Chinese. Selfish again. She sighed, desperately, uncomfortably awaiting his response. She shifted on her feet. Most people's brains didn't work as fast as hers did, she knew that, but why was he taking so long? She was just about to retract the question when he spoke.

"You never do what people ask you to do. You always do what you want."

"I do what you ask me to do. I think. Most of the time. You could have asked."

"I thought it would be best for me to just... I couldn't ask. I can't ask. All I can do is hope that you decide on your own that you don't want to date."

She took a chance and let him look into her eyes.

"So... you don't want me to date," she clarified.

"For my own personal, selfish comfort? No."

Ok. So. They were both not dating. Other people. Where did that leave them? Was Angela right? Was Angela... Where was Angela? And Hodgins? And Sweets? And...

"Where's everybody?" she asked.

Who cares?

Who the hell cares?

Her stomach tightened again. She had been alone with Booth countless times. Why was she freaking out? She looked down at her watch.

"Wow. It is late. I should go."

She grabbed her bag.

Booth grabbed her wrist, lifted it up and took a glimpse at her gold Rolex.

"It's 11," he laughed.

"I have trouble sleeping after midnight. I should get home."

Since when?

He didn't ask or stop her. Because she planted a kiss on his cheek and ran out the door after a 'See you tomorrow'. He stood there, stunned.

She slammed the door of her car.

You KISSED his cheek?! Since when?! Damn idiot!


People kissed on the cheek all the time. Friends did. French people, too. They were partners. It shouldn't be weird for them to kiss on the cheek. Why was it? Because the cheek was close to the mouth? So what?

She was giving herself a headache. And Angela came in, which didn't make the brain throbbing diminish.

"Anything interesting happen when we left the bar last night?" she asked.

"Not really."

Surely something must have happened. They were so close to... There was no way nothing happened.

"Well, what did you do after we left?" she pressed on.

"I left too," Brennan replied.

"You..." Angela didn't care to finish her sentence. What was the point? She turned around with a big sigh and left.

She walked passed Booth who was coming in.

"You let her leave?" she mumbled without stopping.

Booth frowned and followed her with his eyes.

"What's with her?" he asked Brennan.

She just shrugged, trying not to embarrass herself with the words that were threatening to come out on their own. I'm sorry I kissed your cheek. It was weird and it won't happen again. Unless...

"We have a warrant for Gerard's arrest. I thought you'd like to come and see me get his confession."

Brennan smiled. Finally something intellectually interesting to do.

"Sure." She grabbed her bag. "But how can you be so certain you'll get a confession out of him?"

"I always get what I want. And right now, I want a confession."


And he did get it. After 10 pm, but still.

As they got out of the interrogation room, a man approached in the hallway. Booth recognized him. Since the first time he had seen that guy, Booth had known what would eventually happen. He always did. And, of course, he had been right. Why else would he have tracked her down after the case was over?

"Dr. Brennan, hi."

Booth saw the slight frown forming on her forehead. He chuckled to himself. Poor guy. Never gonna happen. She doesn't remember ever seeing you before. And slid his hand off of the small of her back and went to hide in the break room, leaving her alone with that unthreatening man.

"I just wanted to thank you for catching Remy's killer," the man said.

Brennan saw Booth disappear in the break room and tried to remember who that man was exactly. He knew the victim... But... Who cares.

"It's my job. But you really should thank agent Booth. He's the one who actually caught the perpetrator."

"He's not the one I want to invite to dinner. Are you free tomorrow evening?"

"I can't," she bluntly, simply, put it.

"Alright. How about Saturday?"

Make this stop.

"No, I mean... I can't."

"Because I was a suspect for 5 seconds?" the poor guy asked.

"Because I can't date," she explained.

"Oh." His face fell. "Of course. I should have... You're in a relationship?"

Was that a question? She wasn't sure. As for the answer to that... She looked for Booth. He was still hiding. Honesty it is, then.

"I don't know," she replied.

That was usually a yes or no question.

"You... don't know if you're seeing anyone?" the guy repeated to make sure he had understood.

"It's..."

... Complicated?

... A long story?

... None of your business?

"... unclear at this point."

You're life is getting complicated. You need to set things straight. Right now. Ok. Maybe not now. But tonight. By midnight. You need to know .If anyone's got the answer to that man's question... it's Booth.

She abandoned to guy and his puzzled expression and met Booth in the break room.

"So! He asked you out, huh?"

"Yes. How did you know?"

"I recognize the longing look." From my mirror. "So... what did you say?"

"You wanna grab a drink? With me?" she asked instead.

It took him a second to realize she was not answering his question but really asking him.

Since Booth didn't respond right away, she went on.

"I know we go to that bar almost every night, but I feel comfortable there." When I don't spaz out and kiss you on the cheek for no reason.

"Let's go," Booth said with a smile, motioning for her to go first.


It was almost midnight. She had been sipping the same drink for over 90 minutes, trying to remain clear headed. Wasn't working. But she had set herself a deadline and she was going to stick to it. In less than 10 minutes, she would know what the hell was going on between them. As soon as she could bring herself to ask.

Something was on her mind. Something important. She had been nursing that drink for way too long now. He decided to tease her.

"Isn't it almost past your bedtime?"

She looked at him. He continued.

"Didn't you say you had trouble sleeping past midnight?"

"You know that wasn't true."

"Yes, I do know." He leaned in a little closer. "What's wrong, Bones? You've been... weird for days now."

He just opened the door for you. Don't you dare slam it in his face for the 100th time.

"I need to ask you something," she carefully said.

She examined his eyes, his lips, his jaw, his chest, his hands... Knowing exactly what she wanted his response to be. Yet terrified of it.

"About what?" he asked.

Petrified. Stuck.

"Angela said something to me and..."

"Aw, this is never good," he mumbled.

"No, listen." Her hand was on his forearm.

He grew serious.

"I'm listening."

"Are we dating?" she heard herself pronounce. She laughed. "I know it sounds completely ridiculous." It's not ridiculous, it's flat out insane. "Pretend I didn't say anything. I mean... if we were dating, you and I... I would know. Right? I've never dated anyone without my knowledge. It's just crazy... Right?"

Was he ever going to answer? It was almost midnight. Why was he looking at her like that? Why was he smiling? He's probably laughing on the inside. Because you are crazy. Say something.

"Booth? Are we dating?"

"You tell me," he cryptically murmured.

ENOUGH.

"No! You tell me. You say something! Why do I have to do all the work? I asked you so you have to answer. Be specific. Be blunt for once, and tell me what you want." She dug through his stare. "What do you want?!"

Her eyes were shiny, filled with expectations. He could see the fear and the determination. Which made this moment even more important.

"I want to be with you," he finally admitted in one breath.

Her heart swelled. Simple. Yet...

"So, we're... dating," she concluded.

"Yes. Unless you don't want me."

"I want you!" she made clear. "I mean... I do." That just sounds worse. "I want to be with you." That might have been the moment she realized how much she did. It just didn't help figuring out where to go from there. Concretely.

"Well, here I am. With you."

That was so brilliantly put, Booth. He had dreamed and thought of this moment forever. But suddenly, he realized it was actually happening. And he had no idea what to do.

Heart pounding, she nibbled on her bottom lip for a few seconds. She was stuck in her brain. Overanalyzing. Over-thinking. She wanted to do. To act.

"I never got a chance to tell you I had a great time at your brother's wedding. It was a beautiful ceremony."

"I had a great time, too."

She nodded.

"Good."

Damn it. What now?

Booth was helpless. He felt like he was 13. And boy. He was far from cool at 13.

"You want another drink? That one looks... flat."

"Sure."

She handed him her glass and he fled to see the barman. She breathed out. That's how she realized she had been holding her breath. Not such a healthy start. She escaped to the bathroom. Solitude. Clarity.

She looked at herself in the mirror. She looked... wow. She looked happy. Her cheeks were rosy. Her eyes were sparkly. Why did she feel like throwing up? She took out her cell phone.

Pick up. Pick up. You always want to get involved. Now's your chance. ANGELA!

No answer.

She breathed out loudly again. She went through the stored phone numbers on the tiny screen.

Nope. Nope. Definitely not. Nope. Oh. Back up. Could I? Fine.

She dialled the number.

"Hello?"

At the groggy sound of the voice, it hit her. She had just awakened her boss.

"This is Dr. Brennan... I'm sorry to call so late."

She sounded alert when she asked, "Is everything alright? Did something happen?"

"No. Well, yes, but no. I just need to ask you something. Angela wasn't picking up, which might be a good thing because you are in a better position to answer me."

Silence. Maybe she had fallen back asleep.

"Dr. Soroyan?"

"Just... waiting for the question, Dr. Brennan."

Oh.

"Right... Uhm..." Here goes nothing. "How do you date Booth?"

She heard a faint laugh. Then, "Well... you ask him out, I guess. Or you wait for him to ask, but it might take forever."

"No, the asking is done. Well, it was more of an understanding, I guess... But how... what do I do?"

The laugh wasn't faint anymore. It was clear.

"You've dated before, Dr. Brennan. Just do what you usually do."

Duh.

"You're right. I'm sorry I bothered you."

"No problem."

"Bye."

She hung up, completely shocked at herself.

A normal person wouldn't have called their boss to ask how to handle a man. She had handled plenty of men before. She knew how. But Booth? They were so close already. They knew each other by heart. How was she supposed to act; what was she supposed to do differently now?

Brennan stepped out of the bathroom and went back to her seat where Booth was waiting. Waiting for her. She sat down.

"Do you think, maybe, we should keep this quiet for a while?" he suggested. "At work, I mean."

She froze and tried to hold his gaze.

"That... would have been a good idea."

"Would have been?"

She grimaced.

"Cam knows."

Surprised, Booth whispered a 'wow'. "Already? Well... if Cam knows, everybody knows."

"Yes."

Booth didn't mind. He just suggested it so she would feel more comfortable. So he would feel more comfortable. Screw comfort.

"Are you ok with that?" she asked, unsure. "We could pretend it didn't work out."

Booth laughed.

"After 7 minutes? Come on! Give me a little credit, here..."

She giggled. And hearing herself giggle made her laugh out loud.

"It's probably better they know the truth anyway," Booth concluded.

"Right. Because Sweets always says that honesty is paramount to a well-working work environment."

"No, because you're no good at playing pretend," he explained.

She frowned.

"What? I'm excellent!" she argued.

"You stink."

She discreetly went to sniff her shirt and Booth exploded in laughter.

"No! I mean, you're awful. At lying."

"I beg to differ. I can be a very good liar."

Booth leaned forward, elbow on the bar.

"Name one time when I didn't know right away that you were lying."

She thought.

Her eyes locked on his tie.

"I did like the tie Catherine gave you."

He smirked.

"And I knew that."

She squinted, saw he was telling the truth, and tried to find something else.

"See? I'm right. You can't think of anything!"

He put this hand over hers on the counter. She lost trail of her thoughts. She could enjoy this openly, now. She slowly slid her hand from under his and started exploring his fingers with the tip of hers. He turned his hand, palm up, and she teased, tracing the lines in it. Their fingers intertwined.

She tried not to smile to broadly. She blushed.

"I bet you didn't know I thought about this for a long time," she admitted.

"How long?"

She tried to remember the first time she had imagined their hands joined like this.

"I don't know. Long." She looked up to him. "Why now?"

"What?"

She shrugged.

"We could have done this any number of times. Why now?"

"I guess we were both ready." Finally.

"I guess you're right."

"I'm always right."

"Except when you're not."

"Right."

She smiled like a fool again. But so did he. So... whatever.


"I'll see you tomorrow..." he said, once his SUV was parked in front of her apartment.

The rest of the evening had gone by quickly. Smoothly. Normally. They had both managed to keep their nerves in check. Brennan didn't know if it was the same for Booth, but she had to remind herself every 5 minutes that they were dating. She kept forgetting. And every time she remembered, she wondered if she was acting the way she was supposed to act.

But this time, as she shut the car door behind her and shifted on her feet on the sidewalk, watching Booth starting to drive away, it hit her. She didn't have to refrain anymore. She didn't have to stop herself every time the thought crossed her mind and teased her whole body.

"Booth! Wait!"

She didn't have to run after the car for very long. He had seen her in his rear-view mirror. He stopped the car and saw her walk to his door. He lowered his window.

"Did you forget your purse or something?"

She pulled on the handle. Locked.

"Open the door," she ordered, out of breath.

He did.

"Now, get out."

Booth laughed.

"Wh... Is this a carjacking?"

She pulled on his arm and shut the door. They were now standing next to the car in the middle of the street. She let go of his arm.

"That's all I could think about all night... All week, really. Or... Anyway. I really wanted to, but then, every second, I kept forgetting that I actually could," she blurted out.

"What are you talking about?" he laughed out.

She finally looked him in the eye and took a deep breath. She purposely looked down at his lips and bit hers together. Here's the feeling of stupidity again. She smiled shyly.

"Oh."

She let out one laugh and breathed in some courage again. She felt his hand on her cheek, saw him smile and lean in. She pushed on his chest with her both her hands.

"No... I wanna do it," she told him.

He let out a chuckle and brushed her cheekbone with his thumb before dropping his hand to his side.

"Go for it," he said.

She fought the urge to just go for it. Still incredibly nervous –hey, this was real- she pulled her hands up, rested her wrists on his broad shoulders and caressed the back of his neck with her fingers. She took a step forward. She could feel the heat from his body radiating through to hers. Her thumbs stroked his cheekbones once or twice while she took great pleasure in examining his dilated pupils and slightly parted lips.

"Any day now..." he begged in a whisper.

She smiled. Not yet. This was way too good already. She knowingly licked her lips a little too slowly. She could have sworn he groaned or moaned a little. Her bottom lip ended between her teeth as she smiled. And she leaned in, gently pulled his head closer. Their noses touched and her eyelids grew heavy to shut. She paused, tasted his breath on her and finally, ever so slowly, tilted her head and caught his bottom lip between hers. Instantly, their bodies collided, needing to get even closer. He pulled on her waist with his large hands as she exhaled into his mouth, not wanting to part. They kissed again, never really having stopped, and as his tongue darted out, she welcomed it with her own, hesitantly, wanting to make this last. Make this count. Emotions swirled into her stomach. Her hands travelled down his chest and wrapped around his lower back, pulling him as close as she could. She deepened the kiss and he felt the car on his back. She grabbed the back of his head again, slowed down her lips. She rested her groin on his, feeling his pressing erection. The jolt of electricity that went through her body shook her. And the kiss softly broke. Eyes still closed, forehead resting against forehead, breathing heavily, they were both slightly surprised, yet neither of them wanted to be the one saying 'wow'.

She opened her eyes. He was looking at her face. Taking it all in. Like she was the most beautiful woman who had ever lived. Her fingers touched her own swollen lips.

They never even saw the lights of the car behind his until they heard the furious honking. They both jumped and turned towards it.

"Do you mind?!" a man shouted through his windshield.

"Oh."

"Uhm..."

They both laughed. Her lips still throbbing, she reached the sidewalk and he got back into his car, moving it closer to the curb. Then he got out again and came back to her.

He cleared his throat first.

"I should say goodnight... before I can't," he said, burying his hands in his pockets.

"Yes, me too. Goodnight," she agreed.

She took a step back, still smiling.

That smile made his heart race again. He took his hands out of his pockets and walked the short distance between them. He grabbed the back of her head and pulled her into another kiss. Hungrier. Urgent. She instantly met his lips with her tongue and pressed his ass towards her. She rubbed herself once onto him. Pure instinct. His rapid breathing even more arousing than his scent. But soon out of breath, she broke the kiss.

"Ok," she panted. "Goodnight." And she took another step back. And another.

"Careful..." he said, motioning for her to look behind her.

She had almost bumped into trash can.

She chuckled, avoided it and kept walking backwards.

"You should... go back to the car," she suggested. "And lock the door."

"Yes. And I'll see you tomorrow."

She simply nodded, sensing the blush covering her entire face.

"G'night, Bones."

Yes. She was still Bones.


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