Arabian Nights

Chapter 9: In Which Our Hero

Chapter 9 In Which Our Hero Makes Coffee, Saves Electricity, Is Lied to, and Uncovers Some Part of the Truth

When he got up Sunday morning, Bones was long gone, judging by the cold sheets. But Booth could see the indentation of her head on the pillow, see her nightgown on the chair, feel the imprint of her body on his. Once he was downstairs, he could hear sounds coming from her office. Rather than disturb her, he made coffee and ran up to take a shower. When he came back, she was gone. He thought a minute and then called her.

"Bones, where are you?"

"I'm on my way to the Jeffersonian, Booth. I have a few things I need to check."

"You didn't even say goodbye."

"I'm sorry, Booth." And she did sound sorry. "I have arranged to meet Angela and Hodgins at the Jeffersonian in a couple hours and I'll bring Christine home with me. I thought maybe you'd want the time to go to church. I was thinking..."

He waited, then prompted. "You were thinking?"

"Yes. Well, technically I am always thinking, but I think all of the storytelling has brought up a lot of memories...the day that Sully left and you brought me flowers, how you gave me the Brainy smurf figurine I had always wanted, and also that time you brought me to your church. When..." He heard her swallow. "when the gravedigger had buried me. have always been a good partner to me, Booth."

Booth had never been so confused and alarmed. Actually, the confusion was helping with the alarm. She sounded like she was saying goodbye, but half of what she just said wasn't true.

"Uh, yeah, Bones. You too. So when are you coming—"

"Booth, can you do something for me?"

"Sure, what do you need?" He didn't know what the hell was going on, but he'd follow her lead.

"I turned on the space heater in my office this morning. Can you just check that it is off?"

"Sure, Bones. I'll do it now."

"Thanks, Booth. Have a good morning."

"Yeah. You too."

Booth stared at the phone in his hand. What the hell?

Sure enough, the space heater was on low. Booth turned it off and straightened, looking around. He didn't come in here often, but it was neater than it usually was. He crossed to the bookshelf lining one wall, looked at the titles—many clearly related to her work, but there was also a complete set of her own novels on one of the bottom shelves. On the very bottom shelf were picture books, some still in shrink wrap. He smiled; she was getting ready for Christine to spend time in here with her.

He straightened and looked around again. As usual her desk had piles of paper neatly arranged in a U-shape across the top and sides, a big space in the middle for her laptop. This morning there was a notebook misaligned in the space, as if carelessly tossed there, or placed there for a minute and then forgotten. On top of the notebook was a square of paper. He recognized his handwriting and when he got closer he realized it was the piece of paper on which he had written about Scheherezade, the part that reminded him of Bones. He lifted the paper and fiddled with it, flipped it over. There was nothing there.

The notebook was gray, nondescript, and one of the high-end fancy notebooks she preferred. It was clearly not new, though, and the cover didn't lie completely flat. On the lower right hand corner he could see the date she started the notebook, a habit of organization that she was hers since they first met. September 2005. Around the time they started working together permanently. Cleo Eller. Booth pushed against the cover with the tips of one hand, pressing it down flat. When he lifted them off, the cover sprung back up gently.

With only the smallest hesitation,he lifted the cover up slightly so he could see the first page. Bones' writing. A lot of it. No wonder the cover didn't lie flat. He had never seen this notebook before, so it was significant that it was just lying out on her desk. He looked around the office, listened to the quiet, empty sounds of the house, sat in her chair and opened the cover.

The first page had written on it across the top:

Rules of having a partner/being a partner

Added later, obviously, below this first line, Brennan had written:

"And guidelines related to partners/partnerships in that they contribute to executing professional responsibilities of FBI agents and consultants. Including rules for successfully interrogating witnesses, comforting victims, eliciting information from bystanders, etc." And then, more, almost as an afterthought. "Because these things affect Booth and therefore our partnership."

1. Partners offer personal information to one another.

Today Booth said: "You know, getting information out of live people is a lot different than getting information out of a pile of bones, you have to offer up something of yourself first." Later this same day, Angela said something similar: "Offer up a little bit of yourself every once and awhile. Just… tell somebody something you're not completely certain you want them to know."

On that page were jotted notes and summaries of times that Bones obviously thought this rule needed to be followed, or had been followed. Booth was absurdly touched at the way that she had taken being his partner seriously from the very beginning. It was sweet and his early memories of her were not of sweetness. Sexy, troubled, cutting, defensive, generous, dedicated, but not sweet. He looked over some of the notes, remembered some of the cases, but didn't read everything before flipping to the next page.

2. Probably should be a corollary to #1, but partners apparently are required to share things. Rides to the airport, french fries, umbrellas. One can refuse to share items or services that are "special" or protected in some way but not too often. I am not certain what constitutes an overage in this regard.

Again, more notes and additions over time. Booth realized that she had headed each new page with a new rule. He was smiling by now. Damn, he loved her.

(page) 3. Hugs between partners are acceptable as long as one partner is scared.

His smile faded as he read her writing. Brief summaries that recalled desperate times. Her mother dead and her identity in question. A shiver ran up his back as her words, her voice, small and uncertain as he had never heard it, came back to him. "My name is Brennan. I am Dr. Temperance Brennan. I work at the Jeffersonian Institution." And his response. "I know who you are."

And then Russ in danger. A dog put down. A scalpel in her arm. Other times, other hugs.

Early on the page were notes about how she didn't think this was how partnerships usually worked between men, although she wasn't sure. She thought it was possible it was how partnerships between women worked because Angela would certainly hug her if she was scared. Toward the bottom of the page, Bones had noted that she was pretty sure now that this wasn't a rule at all, but something Booth made up to make her feel better.

Smiling again, Booth turned the page.

4. If partners solve a case together they do paperwork together. I probably should have listed this earlier but I didn't always help Booth with the paperwork at the beginning. I assume that because I have now been involved more directly in the field, my observations and documentation are helpful.

Yeah, Booth thought, because that's why they did paperwork together. He thought back to all those evenings doing paperwork, their first dates really. Times when he could ask her personal questions and, intent on her work, she would sometimes answer. Sometimes, when they finished the work, they would have a drink together or, even more rarely, keep talking a while. Looking back, he was extremely grateful to paperwork.

5. Do not act happy at crime scenes. However, partners can celebrate a successful resolution to a case with a drink.

He smiled again.

6. Partners keep confidences - This is a rule I would have expected. What I did not expect was that there were so many nuances and fine distinctions to be made among incidents and contexts.

She had made notes about the brief period just before he got back with Cam for a while where he and Rebecca were getting it on occasionally. She wrote about the egg and the meatloaf and Hacker. She wrote about recent incidents too: the time that she told Cam that his father died and also when she revealed that Christine was going to be a girl before she told him. Booth couldn't hold back an exasperated sigh even now, but he wasn't really angry anymore. His eye was caught by one of the last entries and he read something that was news to him. Bones had shared with Cam his work at the hospital, with the kids who suffered from neurofibromatosis. Seeing here how she struggled to stay on the right side of the line, another line that he had drawn, he found it hard to be upset about this.

7. Partners don't keep things from one another. As one might expect, it is difficult to reconcile this rule with the previous one.

A later note read: Except sometimes to protect each other and only when they would know the other would approve, or maybe even disapprove but would have done the same thing. Like when I went back to my apartment when I knew that a crazy serial killer (Eps) was there to kill me. I wonder what Booth has done and kept from me? Probably much worse.

Still later: Or like stabbing someone with a syringe in the neck to make him think that he was infected with a deadly genetically engineered virus/bacteria.

8. Partners give each other things.

This was the emptiest page so far, but only because the notations were short and included: Jasper, daffodils on my birthday, coffee in the morning, Brainy Smurf, a Mix Tape (actually a downloadable playlist but Booth insists on calling it a mix tape), a Christmas tree—

A Christmas tree? Oh. Oh yeah...

a vintage Foreigner t-shirt, silver ice skates pendant...

There were a few more but nothing recent, really nothing listed since they moved in together. He assumed it was because they were no longer pretending that the gifts were about being professional partners in any way, but wasn't entirely sure that Brones knew that.

The next page had a series of statements, written at different times, as struggled to articulate what she saw as a rule. In the progression, Booth could easily identify the backstory behind the changes. It didn't surprise him that she hadn't written very much here either.

9. Partners have each other's back. Partners would die for one another. Partners would kill for one another.

Booth has killed to protect me more than once. I have done the same for him. The extent to which these facts bind us together I am not entirely certain of or comfortable with.

Note: I still don't understand why I can't have a gun. He gives me his extra gun readily enough when he needs back up and that is gratifying, but it would seem logical to have me carry my own. This is an ongoing source of friction between us.

Booth turned the page, and was surprised to find the 10th rule she listed in the middle of the page, no notes, underlined twice. Her handwriting here was not as neat and regular as usual and the pen had been pressed deeply onto the page.

10. Partners always, always, give each other the benefit of the doubt. Partners never believe someone else's judgment concerning his or her partner without evaluating the validity of these claims directly.

He thought he knew what this rule was all about. Jared. Jared convincing her that his big brother was a loser. Poor Bones. All those lower stakes (although still incredibly painful) high school and college experiences that teach you about this rule. All the times you dated someone who hated your friends and told you nasty things about them that you believed because she was hot and sweet and...well, your girlfriend. The times you believed someone who wasn't trustworthy but who was charismatic or convincing. Just like he, Jared, and his mom would believe his father when he said that this time, he'd changed. By the end, that belief had been beaten out of them, but for a long long time they had held out hope. Now that he thought of it, it was his fault really that Bones had doubted him. He was the one that taught her that evidence wasn't the only way to evaluate claims. He was the one who taught her to trust her gut. For all the times she put him down for it, scoffed at his gut, she craved it. Wanted to be part of that club, wanted that insider knowledge. And he knew that, used it. No, that wasn't totally her fault.

He flipped another page.

11. Partners can criticize each other, but if someone else criticizes one's partner, the other must defend or at least back up/support that partner. Especially in partner's therapy, Booth says.

Now he grinned. "That's my girl," he muttered under his breath.

12. Partners may laugh at one another. Also sometimes partners have to apologize.

Booth could see that she had written more here about some of the times when this rule seemed relevant to her. He loved seeing how her mind worked, what stuck in her memory. It was easy to forget that she had a truly terrifying memory, so smoothly was her recall of facts and names and places and language embedded in the way she worked through problems. The number of times that he and others were quoted directly in her notebook brought this fact home starkly.

13. Booth and I—the partners—are the center, but it takes the team, every one, to do the really hard things.

At the bottom of the page of notes, she had concluded with "I do not think that Booth and I are the center because we are the partners, but rather we are partners because we are the center. It is because we can do what we do, and do it better together than apart, that we are partners.

On the next page, number 14. It turns out this entry is only a few days old. When Booth starts reading, he realizes that she added this after he insisted she go to lunch with him.

14. The Partner Card: Partners can insist on acting without a reason or explanation, can insist on the partner following the unclear and unexplained dictates. I don't know. I am almost certain this is made up. And yet, I can see it makes a certain sense. It's like saying "Trust me". And, after all we have been through, both good and bad, things that support my trust in him and things that erode it, I find that I still do trust him.

That's where the list ended. On the page facing #14, Bones had stuck a large sticky note. "Re: the center. The center is still the center even when not acting in coordination or in shared purpose. The outcome is more uncertain, but if one can assume the initial hypothesis that both partners are trustworthy then the conclusion of any conditional statements that follow this hypothesis should also be true.

Later, she had added one more line. Similarly, with the same initial hypothesis, the conclusion is still true even if one partner is not just uncommunicative, but is actively dissembling.

Booth wasn't totally sure what all of this meant, but he got the gist of it. She trusted him still, which since he broke their engagement, he wasn't sure of. Strangely, he suspected that it was his need of her last weekend that inspired a renewal of this trust. Booth knew this intellectually, as well as empirically, although he'd rather eat tofurky than admit to Bones he used the word empirically even in the privacy of his own head. Anyway, he knew that the best way to inspire trust was to trust someone first, but it still surprised him when it was true.

She trusted him, even when he didn't tell her his reasons for doing something. She trusted him even when she thought he was dissembling...lying, right?

Bones had figured it out. He wondered what else she had figured out. He rose suddenly, certain he couldn't sit still another minute, thinking that he needed to run more than he needed the contemplation to be found at mass. He knew that something had changed and the anticipation and desire to act was riding him.

Booth turned to leave, flipping the book closed but then out of habit, flipped through the rest of the book to make sure he hadn't missed anything. Tucked firmly into the back pages of the book was a piece of paper that did not look like it had been disturbed in a long time. Booth didn't disturb it now, simply opened the book wide enough that he could see what was written on it.

It was a small part of a printed piece of paper, a page from a book, in fact. It looked like...yeah, there was a reference to Andy Lister...a part of one of her books. Most of the piece that was in the notebook was the upper margin and top paragraph of a page from one of her books. Bones familiar handwriting filled almost all of the white space. The handwriting was bold but clearly rushed and the paper was dirty. In the upper left hand corner was the date. 11/15/06. A little over a year after they started working together, but Booth didn't need help to remember what they were doing on that day. That was the day the Heather Taffett buried her and Hodgins in that godforsaken quarry. Without pausing to think, he read what she had written.

"Booth, if you are reading this, I am dead and you have found us here where we are buried. Hodgins is writing to Angela to tell her he loves her but in the event that his note is lost or destroyed and mine is found, please tell Angela that Hodgins loves her. And me. I love her too. I don't know if I love you, the way that Hodgins loves Angela, but I have never felt as much for another human being since my parents left as I do for you. I have never trusted anyone like I trust you. No one's opinion of me has ever mattered, or mattered more. If I did love anyone, I would want it to be you."

She had signed it, simply: Bones.

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