You Can't UnRing the Bell

Let's Not Get Carried Away

He still believed in fate. In the sarcastic poking of an unapologetic destiny constantly there to remind him that there would never be any escaping her. He was literally trapped. They had learned with consternation that the former jock and his botoxed cheerleader were on their floor, and had maintained their cheerful faces for an interminable elevator ride. Well, interminable to him, at least. When he peered at his partner, confusion systematically took over. She was still clinging to him, and he had no idea of what it could mean. He, who could usually read into the smallest gesture, was paralyzed at her insanely unusual behavior.

He knew she was not trying anything in particular. Manipulation had never been her forte. More than that, he knew she was not the shrewd type; that was one of the reasons why he loved her. So what could it possibly mean? Not for an instant did he consider she could be doing this for their audience's sake. Her fingers were too tightly entwined with his own, her body too heavily resting against him. This was intimate. This was theirs.

When they finally reached their room, he instantly broke contact with her. She made a perplexed face before realizing that, after all, they had been doing nothing but faking for the past several hours. Disappointment washed over her. But she soon surrendered.

"I'm going to take a shower," she said, looking down.

"Sure. I'll just..." He pointed at the television.

He watched the bathroom door shut behind her and cursed himself. We'll be okay? Yeah, right.


Ten minutes later, she stepped out of the shower still wondering what she had done wrong. Everything? Most likely. She had thought the episode in the car had eased things a bit; that he would make more efforts to put up with her. As though he is not making enough efforts already... She suddenly understood how he had felt when she had mercilessly rejected him. He must have felt like he was alone in the world. He must have felt like she was feeling just now. She would have to snap out of it sooner or later. Later.

She examined herself in the mirror -body and soul- nakedly exposed to her own dispassionate inspection. She could not understand how or why he had showed such remarkable patience with her over the years. She had made no efforts. None. He had always been the one showing her the way. I tried... But it's so hard. How could he even fall in love with me?

As she pondered over this unexplainable fact, she grabbed a cotton robe hanging close by. When she put it on, one of the sleeves hit the wedding ring she had forgotten on the sink. It instantly fell down the drain.

She sighed. Dammit!

"Booth!" she called out.

She heard him approach, but her eyes remained fixed on the sink. Mesmerized by the possible significance of what had just happened. Stop it, Temperance. There is no significance to it. It is purely coincidental. She heard him stop right behind the door.

"You okay Bones? Is something wrong?"

"Yeah, can you come in, please?"

He entered, swallowing hard as he saw she was wearing a simple cotton robe... and that she was still wet. He could not prevent his eyes from wandering way below the acceptable limit.

"What's wrong?" he swallowed again, trying to catch his breath through the thick, hot, damped air.

"The ring fell down the drain," she stated matter-of-factly.

He had no idea why, but he felt pissed.

"Bones! Don't you know you're not supposed to just take your wedding ring off and put it on the sink?!"

"It's not like it was my actual wedding ring! If you're that concerned about FBI property, don't worry, I'll reimburse them!"

Instinctively he crossed his arms, defensively.

"It's not about the FBI, it's about the ring!"

Now she was pissed too.

"So what? Now you're gonna lecture me about the symbolic sanctity of a loaned wedding ring?"

"You know what? Never mind."

As she watched him retreat to the bedroom, she felt lost and defeated. But soon, he called after her.

"Where's your flashlight?" he shouted.

She joined him and saw he was sifting through the contents of her bag. As much as she disliked anyone putting their paws on her personal belongings, knowing he was probably touching her most intimate pieces of clothing had a rather strange effect on her. An unexpected warmth spread in the pit of her stomach.

"Bones?" he looked up quizzically.

She straightened up.

"Uh, yeah it's in here. Wait."

She bent over her bag, searching for the flashlight, and failed to realize that in doing so, she was exposing her breasts.

"Here." She frowned, seeing Booth had turned bright red. "Booth?"

He cleared his throat.

"Yeah, thanks."

With that he seized the flashlight and raced back towards the bathroom. She grimaced. What now? What did I do? She followed him.

"Do you need help?" she tried a cheerful tone, shifting on her feet. Awkward.

"Hold that," she heard him say from below.

He was already half-hidden under the sink. Not that he needed her help, but he had an entirely different view of her now and he did not know how long it would take for his body to react accordingly.

She knelt beside him and grabbed the flashlight he was handing to her. So it wasn't really necessary to rip it off my hands thirty seconds ago

"You want me to turn it on?" she asked innocently.

He choked, "What?"

"The flashlight."

Of course. There's not much more to turn on right now, anyway.

"Sure."

He tried to appear casual, but it was nearly impossible. He was fighting an inexplicably clingy Bones and, even more than that, he was fighting his urge to reach for that soft, glittering skin that was so ruthlessly tempting him. Hellish paradise, or heavenly hell, he could not decide just then.

After a few minutes of dexterous plumbing, Booth succeeded in recovering the ring. Before he could catch it, it rolled behind him.

"Shit," he cursed.

Bones reacted instantly, bending forward to catch it and pressing herself against Booth in the process. He could not suppress a groan. She's gonna kill me. He could feel her naked thigh against his own. If she shifted her weight slightly, she would be on top of him. Holy mother of God... No Saints could help him now.

She felt his warmth against her skin, and her insides pounded in response. She swallowed. Before she knew it, he had pushed her to get up and bumped his head against the sink.

"Ouch!"

She reached for him, concerned.

"You alright?"

"I am, don't worry."

As irrational as it seemed, she was really worried. Anything simply grazing his skull frightened her ever since his brain surgery. He knew it; that's why he tried not to show any sign of annoyance, or frustration, rather.

"Let me check," she said, tentatively reaching for his head.

He stepped back, "Just, stop… touching me."

She was hurt, clearly. He had seen that face many times in the past, too many times. Yet he had always done his utmost not to be responsible for it. Until now.

He sighed, "Bones, I'm sorry. That came out the wrong way. I just meant...."

She cut him off, harshly, "It's alright. I understand."

And she headed for the bedroom without a look for him. What had she been thinking? That a hug in a car would solve all their issues? She felt stupid. But he promised.

Once again, he watched a door shut behind her, and once more, he cursed himself.


It was 3 in the morning. They were lying as far as possible from one another, leaving a large, empty spot in the middle of the king sized bed. Yet that physical distance did not appease either of them. They were both wide awake, but incapable of making the slightest move. They had not talked after the incident. Bones had feigned to be asleep when Booth had exited the bathroom, and since then, she had reviewed all the events of the evening.

He had acted irrationally, that was the least she could say. But then again, she knew it was her fault. He needed time, she understood that. But what was she supposed to do? Nothing seemed appropriate. The awkwardness of physical distance was not replaceable by the constant tension of each touch. Of course, she had always been attracted to him. Right from the beginning. But now everything seemed different. Complicated. Each look seemed more meaningful, each gesture had to be weighted. Worse than that, the contradiction brought forth by this evening of pretense had made her painfully aware of what he had to offer.

She realized he would offer all of it, someday, to someone else. Someone who would deserve it and give him the same thing in return. Someone who would not doubt him, or his faith in her, in them. Someone who would not fear to lose control over personal happiness. Someone who wouldn't be terrified to crush his heart. It did not matter how much she wanted him; he was simply too much for her.

She looked at him. His eyes were closed, but she could tell he was awake. His breathing was uneven and he was standing much too still. She ached to touch him.

"You awake?" she whispered, wondering why she had opened her mouth.

"Yeah. You?"

She made a disbelieving face and stated, "I'm talking..."

"You could be talking in your sleep," he answered, eyes still shut.

"I don't do that."

"Yes, you do," he chuckled.

She frowned, "How do you know?"

He smiled, finally looking at her. Then she remembered. All the nights they had spent together in the past. She remembered. All the mornings when she had woken up in his arms, with the excuse of sleep to justify her presence there. Those memories revived the warm pounding in her lower stomach. She shut her eyes tightly. Breath in, breath out.

After ten minutes of unsuccessful breathing exercises, she gave up.

"Booth..."

"Yeah..."

He had not been any more successful than her at calming the effects those same memories had on him. Not to mention the ever present image of her body barely covered by a cotton robe.

"I'm too aroused to sleep."

"Oh dear God..." he groaned, while covering his head with his pillow.

She took it as a sign of disapprobation, and instantly attempted to justify her blunt confession.

"I'm sorry, I can't help it!" she exclaimed. "I guess my body is still responding to the hormones I secreted earlier this evening, when we were pretending to be married..."

Wanna hear about my body responding to hormones?

"You know what, maybe we should just try not to speak," he said, frustration clearly showing in his tone and firmly indicated by the way he threw his pillow across the bedroom.

She nodded, defeated. A disagreeable sensation of vexation invaded her. For an instant she felt foolish to have confessed such a thing only to receive that answer. The ironic similarity of this situation and that encountered the previous week did not occur to her. She was too busy trying to understand how she could be so completely and utterly responsive to him while he was being indifferent.

Another five minutes passed before she could not longer repress her need to ask him. She needed to know. She needed him to say it out loud. Why was this so easy for him?

"Booth..."

"Yeah..." he was now clearly annoyed with her.

She felt it, but it did not stop her.

"You're not aroused by me?" As soon as the words escaped her lips, doubts started pouring in. Why did she have to keep pushing him? And why was he looking at her like this?

He stared at her an instant, bewildered. Is she fucking kidding?! Then seeing the earnestness of her expression, he sighed and took her hand to place it on his crotch. Feeling his intense arousal, she gasped, and instantly removed her hand. Blushing.

"Satisfied?"

No!

"Yes," she whispered shyly.

As they fell back in a particularly uncomfortable silence, Booth's mind couldn't stop racing. There was pushing her and then, there was PUSHING her. And himself. He had promised her. He had promised they would be okay. How was he supposed to keep that promise if all he could do was to sabotage them every chance he got?

Each time she remembered the sensation of vigor she had felt under her fingers, she swallowed. And each time he heard her swallow, his painful spot would throb harder -literally.

Another five minutes passed.

Both could feel the other stiffen with each movement they made. The very sheets seemed tensed.

"Booth..."

He sighed, "What?"

"I think it's perfectly natural."

"No. No way I'm getting a biology lesson right now."

"No!" she said quickly. "It's… Well, you haven't dated in a while, and all evening we've been playing perfect couple and maybe we could…" While she knew exactly what she was trying to say, she couldn't phrase it properly. She had already told him some years ago that she was there, as an option, for him to satisfy his biological urges. But that sounded wrong. Because she knew now. She understood. To have his body, to share this with him, she'd have to give her soul. And she had no idea how. She didn't know how. But why couldn't he just use her right now and take whatever he could from her? Hell, they had been pretending all evening and they'd still have to pretend tomorrow… Why couldn't they pretend right now and have sex? Just forget everything and… "Since we've kept pretending all evening…You could… I mean, I could… You could have sex with…"

He interrupted her harshly, uncertain of what she meant. Unsure he really wanted to know. Did she really think he was that great of an actor?

"You've gotta be fucking kidding me, Bones, right?"

Jumping out of bed, he started to put on his clothes in a hurry.

She sat up and watched him, silent. Lips tightly sealed together. Scared of breathing another wrong thing. Scared this was it.

"I did not 'pretend', okay?" he continued. "That was me! The fucking masochistic moron, trying to hold onto a fictive version of what I want for us!"

He grabbed his leather jacket.

"I don't know if I can do this," he murmured only to himself.

But she heard.

And as he started for the door, she desperately called after him.

"Where are you going?"

"I need air," he replied without turning back. And maybe I'll have sex on the way. That would be your solution, right?

This time the door closed on her.

She felt miserable. Well, at least she had her answer. What she had thought to be pretense, a cover-up for the sake of their investigation, had been nothing but the pathetic game of two messed-up losers.

No, I'm the loser, she thought. What I just did… That's precisely why he deserves better than me.


When he came back, he saw she had fallen asleep. He could hear her quiet snoring from across the room. He smiled. He had spent the last thirty minutes pacing around the block, cursing her, himself and existence at large. But he had come back, realizing that he had let his frustration take over his good sense.

She was so utterly innocent. Watching her right then, fragile, soft, he could not deny it. She was a woman with the heart of a child. With the fears of a child. He had never ignored it, especially not when he had decided it was time for him to confess his feelings. He had gambled. The odds were against him and he had lost.

Could he ever settle for a woman with a woman's heart? He had spent the past five years in the presence of an angel, a paradox. She fascinated him, infuriated him. How could he ever expect to find someone remotely close to what she quintessentially represented? She had awoken the protector in him while managing to silence the conqueror. She had revealed the individual force in him, while offering him a family. She had become his identity. How could he even think he could settle for less than that now?

He had no doubt, even after all this mess. They were made for each other. It was even more true now than it had been when he had first saw her, and instantly fallen in love. Every parcel of her matched him in a perfect way. But she was not ready for it. She was not ready to trust him yet. He had thought she was, or he had been weary to wait. Whatever the reason that had pushed him to cross the line, he knew he could not hold her responsible of his rejection. He should have known better. That was all.

He silently undressed, put on his pajama bottoms and climbed into bed. She reacted to his presence with a slight moan of protest. He smiled again, drawing closer. If he could not word an apology, he felt the need to hold her close, to let her know that he would not abandon her. No matter how incommensurable the task appeared.

Suddenly his breath got stuck. There, on her left hand, was the wedding ring she had set on the dresser before going to bed. She had put it back on while he was outside, fumbling with his poker chip.

She probably didn't want to lose it again,he vaguely tried to convince himself. This vision. Her. Sleeping next to him, in complete surrender. Her left hand, fingers slightly curled up, touching her delicate nose. It felt so familiar. So real.

He knew it was completely safe right where it was, on the bedside table next to his badge. But he reached for it anyway. And he slipped it on his finger.

He buried his nose in her hair, and his lips grazed her neck. Pretending... Just pretending that she's mine.

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