The Burden of Proof

Benefit of Assumption

Brennan looked at the time on the bottom of her computer screen. She had arrived at work 2 hours earlier than usual, but people should start arriving soon. He would be here soon.

She heard Angela before she saw her. And when she did finally see her in the entrance of her office, Brennan lost her smile. Angela looked... mad.

"I can't believe this!" she spat out.

Was she playing mad or was she actually furious? Brennan didn't know the difference. She got up from her chair.

"Look, Angela, I know it's surprising, but I assure you there will be no repercussions at work. It..."

"What? No! That is not surprising. For anyone. I'm talking about you telling Cam before me! I'm hurt."

"W... I tried you first. You weren't picking up. I'm sorry?"

"You better be." Angela's features brightened up, losing the pretend anger. She squealed, threw her arms in the air and hugged her best friend so tightly she lost her breath.

"Whoa. Ok..."

Brennan patted her back, stiff as a board.

The artist put both her hands on her shoulders and looked her in the eye.

"Are you happy?" she asked.

Well, the fact that upon hearing the word, Brennan instantly tried to hide a smile was a pretty good indicator.

"You are. You're so happy!" Angela stated. And she breathed in, getting teary-eyed.

Brennan looked down, chuckling, and as she looked back up, her heart skipped a beat and set a chain reaction in her insides. He was standing in the doorway, with the most adorable cocky smile on his face. He was half an hour earlier than usual. And he had brought coffee.

Angela, oblivious to the new set of ears around, started talking again.

"So! I've waited almost 5 years to finally be able to ask you... Is he as good in bed as he is in your books?"

Agape, Brennan blushed. She never should have confessed to Angela that Andy was indeed Booth. He would never shut up about it now. Ever. She shut her eyes, embarrassed, and jerked her chin once so that Angela looked behind her own shoulder.

"Oh, hey, big man! It's about time!" she said, walking up to him and kissing him on the cheek. She turned back to Brennan. "It's ok. You can answer me later, sweetie." She winked and she left them alone. Oh, but before she left, she made sure Booth noticed she lost her smile. She squinted threateningly and motioned two fingers from her eyes to his face. Twice. I'm watching you. You better be careful.

"Hi," she greeted him softly as soon as Angela walked away.

"Hi."

"You're here early," she pointed out.

"Yeah... I thought you'd like some coffee."

Among other things.

"Thanks." She took the one he was handing her and set it on her desk. "Is this a new case?" she asked, pointing to the folder he had pinned under his arm.

"Yes!" he said, as he had just remembered. "Body found in a pizza oven." He handed her the case file and stepped closer. And closer as she started to skim through it. He was suddenly reading over her shoulder, his cheek almost against hers. She looked towards him out of the corner of her eyes and smirked. She held the file a little higher.

"Didn't you read it before?" she asked.

"No, I did. It just didn't smell as good."

She chuckled, spun around and tilted her head.

God, she's amazing.

He leaned in and tasted her smile. Just a peck, he promised himself. But she wrapped her arms around his waist and he was a goner. Until...

"Wow!"

Sweets thought he was having a stroke.

They broke apart without completely letting go of each other and looked at him.

"What is it, Sweets? Did you want something?" Booth asked.

"I... No. Yes, but I... Wh..." He kept gesturing, like it would help him find the words.

"What?" Booth pressed on.

"What do you mean what? THAT! Were you planning on telling me anytime soon?" the poor psychologist asked.

Brennan looked at Booth who looked at her. She made a face, they shrugged.

"Nah."

"Not really."

Booth took back the file and made his way to the door.

"You coming, Bones?"

"Yes." She turned to Sweets before exiting. "You can take my coffee, I didn't touch it."

"Yeah, I'll buy you another one," Booth added.

"That's what I thought."

And they were gone.

Sweets looked around him, wondering what universe he had stepped in this morning.


"When was our first date?" Brennan asked, as they drove to the crime scene. Before he could answer, she explained. "I would hate to have missed it. Does the wedding count?"

He laughed.

"How about tonight? I'll cook."

Whoa!

"At your place?" she asked. She sounded concerned.

"Or we could go somewhere..." he suggested.

"No. It's fine. Perfect."

She tried to smile as best as she could. Her stomach was nothing but knots. Did that mean they were going to...? They had only been dating for a few minutes, but they had known each other forever. It would be natural to... She had never been that nervous about it. Ever. Not even at 22.


"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" he asked her.

She put down the femur and circled the table.

"I doubt it. Except if you're thinking that this..." She pointed out two distinct –to her- nicks on the bone. "... indicates two attackers, one stronger than the other, than yes. We could be thinking the same thing."

She looked up to him.

"But I'm guessing that's not what's on your mind."

He just shook his head. He kept silent and gave her an enigmatic smile. That was a new smile. She had never seen that one before. She quite loved it.

"What? You want me to guess?" she asked. "Are we supposed to be... psychically linked now?"

He stepped closer until she was pinned between the table and him.

"I keep forgetting that I'm allowed to kiss you whenever I want," he said. His voice was deep. Low.

Her face lit up.

"Then we were thinking the same thing," she murmured, fixating on his lips.

He leaned in, went to steady himself with both palms on the table.

"Don't! Touch the table..." She warned him just in time.

He cupped her face with his hands. She lifted her own hands away, making sure she didn't touch him with her gloves and welcomed his kiss. This would never get old.

"I didn't know bones turned you on," she said against his lips.

"How could you not know? She's always turned me on."

She tried not to laugh because she urged to deepen the kiss.

"Yup! That's what I was afraid of..." Cam said loudly, joining her hands together in front of her.

Brennan squeezed her eyes shut. Whoops. Booth took a step back and looked down before flashing an apologetic charm smile Cam's way.

Oh, he's good.

"I'm sorry," Brennan quickly said. "I should know better. It won't happen again." A weird sensation washed over her. She never thought she would see the day when she'd actually feel closer to Daisy. Not such a great feeling.

"It's fine," Cam waved off. "Even distracted, you still work twice as fast as everyone else. So! What did you find?"

Brennan willed herself not to look at Booth and concentrated on the remains on the table. She had no idea what she had found. Something about the femur, which she had already told Dr. Soroyan half an hour ago. She turned back to Cam, lips pursed.

Cam smiled to herself and said, "Ok! He might be more distracting than I thought..." She turned to Booth. "Goodbye, Booth."

He sheepishly grinned and headed out. He spun around one last time to mouth a silent "I'm sorry!"

Brennan tore her eyes from him to set them on her boss.

"I am really sorry," she repeated.

Cam simply smiled and tilted her head. She put a hand on Brennan's upper arm.

"You're perfect for him."

Brennan blinked and took a shaky breath as she absorbed the words and watched Cam walk away.

Femur. Right.


"Did I get you in trouble with your boss?" Booth asked her as the waitress brought them their order.

"Not really," she said, taking a sip of coffee. "Everybody's in an exceptionally great mood at the lab today. Even Fisher."

"We spread the joy."

She smiled.

Booth dug his fork into the pie in front of him.

"So... since we are now officially dating..."

He held his pie-filled fork up to her mouth, his other hand under it.

She frowned and leaned back.

"I'm not going to start liking pie just to please you. I've got you. I don't need to impress you anymore."

He laughed out.

"Anymore? You were trying to impress me before?"

"You know what I mean," she said, rolling her eyes.

"Fine." He dropped the fork in the plate and pouted. "I give up."

She sighed.

"Fine," she said. And she leaned over the table. Her lips touched his without hesitation. "You're right. Pie does taste good," she said, sitting back down.

Booth liked his lips and shook his head.

"Nice try. But I didn't even have a bite yet."

"Oh. Well, we can try again later."

And she hid her smirk behind her cup.

His cell phone rang.

"Booth," he picked up, covering his other ear.

He turned his head sideways, facing the window.

Brennan made sure he wasn't looking and dipped her index finger into his pie. He moved, so she quickly put it in her mouth. Busted.

"I saw that," he said, shutting his phone off.

She was grimacing now. And she was not pretending. A shiver of disgust ran through her.

"Ew," she let out.

"That good, huh?"

"There's no way you're kissing me after eating that."

"We'll see," he said, taking a bite to taunt her. "We'll see how long you can hold back."

Then he remembered the phone call. And he said,

"Assistant Director Hacker wants to see us ASAP."

Brennan felt like she was sinking.

"W... About? Does he know?"

"He knows," Booth simply put it.

"You told your boss?" she asked, surprised. And a little scared.

"You told yours..."

"I didn't call Cam to brag!" she defended herself.

"Whoa! I didn't brag. What makes you think I would brag to my boss?"

"Males tend to like the feeling of superiority." And before he could interject, she added. "I'm not offended, if that's what you're worried about. I'm just saying..."

"He said he saw it on my face, ok? I couldn't lie to him."

Brennan just stared blankly.

"Fine. I might have enjoyed the look on his face the moment I rubbed it in. It doesn't mean I bragged."

She was worried.

"Do you think... Are we in trouble?" she asked with a small voice.

"I don't know. It depends, I guess."

"On what?"

"How did you two end things?" he inquired.

She looked down at the table.

Booth would not panic.

"You are ended, aren't you?" he made sure.

"Yes, of course! I..." She sighed. "In a vague attempt to spare his feelings, I might have told him I didn't have time to date."

"Oh, great. This is going to be smooth."


They came in, Hacker got up and gestured for them to sit down.

"I just want to clear the air first and say that there are no hard feelings on my part." He looked at Brennan. "I completely understand that you don't have time to date."

Brennan rarely felt guilty. It was one of the feelings she hated most of all. She twisted her fingers and swallowed her saliva with difficulty, trying to hold his stare, as he continued.

"I understand. You know, you're always with him anyway, so that's time-efficient." He smiled broadly to the both of them. "Now, that being said, you two are not allowed to date."

Booth imagined himself, clear as day, jumping over the desk and punching the crap out of him. Just one time. Just one, time-efficient, punch. But he clenched his fists.

"What?"

Brennan's tone was a surprising mixture of softness, incomprehension, confusion and fear.

Booth quickly put his hand on her lap. Don't worry. And he spoke up.

"You can't be serious!" He tried really hard not to get up. "You dated her first! You cleared yourself to date her. How can you possi..."

Hacker raised a hand.

"No, I was kidding, of course. Come on!"

He laughed alone. Booth and Brennan, completely missing the hilarity, exchanged worried looks. Then he became serious.

"But you really should be careful. One complaint about anything work-unrelated on the job, and you'll both be reassigned. You are our best team, so, you should act like it. And you will have to continue your weekly meetings with the amazing Dr. Sweets." He turned to Booth. "This relationship has already affected your judgement, Booth. Otherwise, you'd be sitting on this side of the desk," he said, pointing to himself. Yet, I still wouldn't be dating her, he thought. "Oh, and I'm happy for you both." It's not like I didn't see this one coming.

Dazed, they had to hear the door shut behind them to realize they were out of the office. They walked to the elevator. Booth let himself lose it a little.

"Where does he come off?" he complained. "Who does he think he is, forcing us into couples therapy?"

Your boss' boss, she thought, biting her lips. He didn't need to hear this. She knew the sound of a rhetorical question now.

"That's abuse of power," Booth continued, getting in the elevator. He waited until she was beside him and pressed the button so they could both get the hell out of there. "Where do they all come off, telling us what to do and when and how?" Brennan looked up at him. It wasn't about Hacker anymore. "It's none of their business! I'm so sick of them all getting involved all the time!"

The elevator reached the ground floor and the doors slid open. He finally breathed out and tried loosen his tie. But his angry fingers couldn't.

She followed him, grabbed his hand and stood in front of him. She locked eyes with him. He was still trying to calm down, and looked at the ceiling before looking at her again.

She loosened his tie for him, just a little bit, and scratched some imaginary stain off his lapel before grabbing his shoulders.

"Are you ok?" she finally asked.

"Yeah. Sorry."

They exited the building. He took her hand and they kept walking. She laced her fingers through his and it felt like the most natural thing in the world for now.

"I'm the one who should be sorry," she said. "I should have been honest with him and told him the truth when I ended things."

"What truth?"

"That... I couldn't go out with him because... he wasn't you."

Booth hearts swelled. He squeezed her hand.

"That would have made things worse, so I'm glad you didn't say it to him."

They reached a bench and decided to sit for a while before heading back to the lab.

Brennan stomach hadn't stopped hurting since the meeting. She recognized the acidic aftertaste of anxiety. One screw up and they were over. Everything they had built over the last 4 years and a half... gone. She could lose him. Permanently.

"Booth..."

Her vulnerability shook his insides. He turned to her. She continued.

"If you... This is serious. If you want... out, if you're having second thoughts, I won't blame you. But you should tell me now. I mean... we haven't really done anything yet."

Now was his last chance. Before her heart didn't belong to her anymore. Before she lost control of everything.

It's not like he wasn't terrified, too. She was the most important person in his life next to his son. But he wasn't going anywhere.

"Listen to me," he said, soothingly, intensely. "I've wanted in for so long... there's no way I want out. I know 'out', I don't wanna go back there. I'm sure about this. Trust me. I'm sure."

Trust me.

He held his hand, palm up, in front of her.

Her shimmering eyes caressed his.

"I trust you."

And she laid her hand in his.


He parked the SUV in front of the Jeffersonian.

"Hey, what did Andrew mean when he said... that you'd be sitting on his side of the desk?" she asked.

"I don't know. He was just messing with us."

"No. He was serious," she argued. Booth was hiding something. "What did he mean?"

Booth let go of the wheel.

"I... might have passed on a certain promotion," he admitted. "To stay in the field."

"You refused his job?" she clarified.

"Yes, ok?"

Brennan's eyes widened.

"Why?"

"I told you. To stay in the field."

"Why would you do that?"

He groaned.

"If you say one more time that I'm afraid of success and that I sabotage myself..."

"No! I wasn't... I just... Why?" she repeated for the third time in a row.

"Probably the same reason you turned down the six-month supervising position for that dig in Greece. To stay here."

Taken aback, she forced her mouth to close.

"You know about that?" she let out.

He nodded.

She shook her head 'no'.

"It's not the same thing," she objected. "That promotion would have come with a substantial pay upgrade. And his chair looked way more comfortable than the one you have now. No offense."

He laughed.

"You know it's not about the money. I don't care about the money. Much."

"But..." She couldn't understand. "This is your future, Booth!"

"No, it's not. It's my career. Your my..." Yeah, slow down, there, buddy. "It's just a job."

She stared out the windshield.

"What if you resent me for it on day?" she asked.

"Are you gonna resent me for not going to Greece?"

She turned to him again.

"I told you, it's not the same thing."

"But it is! Bones, you love your job. You said it yourself that it was your passion to dig up freakishly old skeletons. Yet, you picked me over them."

She had nothing to add. He was right. She had picked him. Just like she had when offered the possibility of sailing around the world with Sully. She had picked him. And he had picked her. Were they crazy?

He put his hand on her thigh.

"You still coming over for dinner?" he asked softly. "Around 7?"

Her gut flipped. Her heart raced. His touch brought on a familiar warm and tickling sensation that woke up certain parts of her anatomy. Longing. Urging. Wet.

She nodded, flustered.

He leaned over to kiss her. She blocked his move.

"Uh huh. I told you you couldn't kiss me if you ate that pie."

"But..."

"See you tonight!"

She smiled devilishly, raised her eyebrows, and slammed the door in his face.

I win.


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