Oh boy. So this has been a while and a LOT has happened since I posted my last story update in August 2018. Bit of a rollercoaster. Anyway, I'm still here, and as per my profile, I promised I'd try and finish my Bones stories. I have to admit, I painted myself into a corner with this, I really don't do case fics (it was always about the Booth/Brennan chemistry/love story for me primarily), hence it being such a grind to get this one much further. I've actually had this chapter written for a while, and half of the next one, I'm a couple of weeks holiday from work so I thought I'd try and crack on with my two open stories whilst I'm off. My beta and buddy Jen hasn't even seen this (sorry Jen!)
Anyway, on we go...
Sure enough, Brennan and Booth found themselves pitted against two out of three of the suspects in their very first match. Sally Cruz and Errol Thomson were an attractive couple in their late forties. They'd been picked out by the FBI as suspects for their relationship with the deceased. Angela had worked quickly to identify the victim as one George Slater, as who'd turned out to be the (now former) assistant manager at the alley, and had at one time worked for Thomson in another business venture. Thomson owned an appliance descaling business and she was a freelance para-legal.
Their initial conversation was polite but perfunctory. Little was exchanged between the two couples, the Cruz-Thomsons focused on their game and somewhat competitive in their demeanour, which led to some frustration as the match went on. Remembering that they were supposed to be a couple, Booth steeled himself to ensure that they interacted in an appropriate way. Knowing this was going to be extra hard after that morning's interaction, he pressed himself against her back gently after the first frame and whispered in her ear, acknowledging what had gone on between them for the first time.
"I know this is awkward but remember, we're supposed to be a couple. Act appropriate for a public place, but, you know, couple-y, Roxy." He emphasised the last word, squeezing her behind playfully. She rolled her eyes at him but noted his comment, knowing he had a point.
The game started evenly, but before long, and somewhat to Brennan's surprise, the Scallions were both ahead, Booth by some margin.
"Good going Bones!" whispered Booth into his partner's ear between frames. He put his arms on her shoulders affectionately. "Keep it up." She couldn't help but smile at his compliment, knowing it was meant for more for her and not her alter-ego. She'd practised hard for the last two days and in typical Brennan-fashion, her learning curve had been quite impressive.
"So what do you think, Bones?" Booth asked his partner quietly after the sixth frame.
"Nothing suspicious so far. We should press them more on their relationship with the victim."
Armed with the background info from Booth's FBI colleagues, they started a surreptitious approach to their inquisition.
"So, you people from around here?" Booth spoke calmly, but with Tony's best Philly accent.
"Fairly… Rockvale", responded Thomson, a little gruffly.
"We bowl at KCs mostly", chipped in his more affable girlfriend. "How about you?" Her face turned up a smile, mainly in Booth's direction.
"We're on a vacation from the East Coast for a few weeks. We like to travel."
"Wow, nice to be able to take that much time off" said Thomson, the hint of envy in his voice not lost on the partners.
"Well Roxy here is a teacher, gets those nice long holidays…"
"You're a teacher? You don't look like a teacher. Too sexy to be a teacher..." Thompson grinned at her. She feigned a flattered smile whilst Booth counted to five in his head to stop himself from confronting the guy hitting on his wife - 'she's not your wife... she's not your wife...' Instead, he smiled broadly and pulled Brennan against him and smacked his lips against her temple before letting her go.
"I'm a very lucky guy", 'and not marking her as my territory at all...'
"And what do you do, Tony? You have big muscles!" asked Sally Cruz, with a little too much interest. Clearly she was used to her partner hitting on women in front of him and seemed past the point of caring.
"Building Contractor." He puffed out his chest a little and grinned somewhat flirtatiously at Cruz, putting on the macho act. Whatever his opponent could do, so could he. "Third largest in Spruce Hill." Brennan quelled the rush of jealousy that surged up out of her chest seemingly out of nowhere, having to remind herself that it was an act.
Frustratingly, especially as far as Brennan was concerned, they'd ended up giving out more about themselves than they'd found out about the other couple so far.
"What about you?" Brennan motioned to them.
"Errol has an appliance cleaning business and I am a para-legal."
"Not just cleaning, descaling - domestic and industrial appliances."
"That's quite a niche", observed Brennan.
"Pays the bills." Thomson almost broke a smile.
Little else of note was said between the couples. Brennan noted anything about their physical appearance that might be of use - nail varnish colour, make up, their dominant hand, any unusual elements of their gait or other movement. In the meantime they were still winning, and winning well.
The game ended, the partners easy victors. Of their suspects though, nothing significant had become apparent as yet, although their competitive nature had led to some bickering that Booth and Brennan would have been proud of, but for the recent revelations between them.
"Congratulations Mr and Mrs Scallion. You are through to the next round, tomorrow at 7pm." Their next opponents were about to be drawn out of a hat.
"We should stick around a bit, go practice." Booth whispered as they walked away.
"What happens to our opponents?" asked Brennan.
"They'll stay around, there are wild card play-offs for the losers to keep them involved. They seem like the sort of people who won't want to leave, even if they have done something illegal. It's five thousand dollars prize money, we know people have killed for a lot less."
"Can you see the third suspect anywhere?"
"Not yet." They'd been given a photo and a name from the local FBI office - Pierce McFee. Late twenties, scruffy, and looked like someone who still lived out of his parents' basement. They had no information on his bowling partner.
On the way home from the alley, they sat in what passed for rush-hour traffic in Billings, nothing like the size of the DC beltway, but enough to have them sitting in a jam for a few moments.
"That was intense day." Booth gripped the steering wheel, rubbing his hands back and forth over the leather stitching. Truth be told, his fingers were a little sore from the practise straight after their match.
"I agree", Brennan stated quietly. She stared about of the window impassively. They continued to sit in the slow moving traffic, not really engaging further, the radio providing a welcome distraction to their silence, allowing them to avoid discussing anything significant. Brennan seemed miles away. After several minutes, Booth decided to try a different approach.
"How's about we have a change of scene tonight, get out of the apartment? I saw a couple of places within walking distance." Booth really wasn't sure what to do for the best after their unplanned tryst that morning. He thought perhaps, that some time out at a restaurant, maybe a bar, might be good for the both of them - take their minds off what appeared to be their mutual discomfort, not to mention the cycle of accidental domestic bliss they'd inadvertently fallen into. Brennan glanced across at her partner and gave him a wan smile.
"Sure, Booth, why not." He sensed she was all locked up in her fortress of emotional avoidance for the moment and decided not to press it further.
Some time later, they were parked up outside their apartment. They dropped off their bags and changed clothes, agreeing to take it in turns to use the bedroom as quickly as possible. During each one's turn to get changed, both glanced at the bed, what-ifs bouncing off the emperor-sized mattress back at them.
The bar was was noisy and brash, even when only half-full, as it was when they arrived still fairly early in the evening, and was full of the hipster-types frequenting the down-town area near their rental, the likes of which impressed Booth just as little as they did back in DC. It did, however, also serve food, and allowed them the chance to step away from the awkwardness of the apartment and into neutral territory. Booth scoured the drinks list - is nothing here on tap? he pondered,in the event grabbing them a couple of the least-pretentious sounding artisanal beers on offer. They found a table in the corner, away from the meat-market unfolding in front of them. A waitress even appeared to take a food order from them. It was typical bar fare - wings, sliders and the like, but being hipsterville, there were at least a couple of vegetarian options that allowed Brennan to eat something more nutritional than just a plate of fries. They watched the place fill up further, sipping at their beers until the food arrived. Booth managed to make Brennan laugh by commenting on some of the more outlandish facial hair and clothing compositions in front of them. Ice broken a little, the food arrived, and they ate contently, still chatting over their people-watching. They studiously both avoided addressing what had happened between them first thing that morning.
Several craft beers later and their barriers had somewhat dropped again. Rhythmic music was playing, seducing the clientele onto the dance floor, and now loosened up, Brennan found herself wanting to join them. The next thing he knew, Booth found himself being dragged along to a empty spot, where they danced around each other to a fast, heavy beat. Time passed, and they enjoyed the loss of inhibitions created by the alcohol in their systems numbing the weight of the baggage denying their growing closeness. Neither made any attempt to leave the dance floor, which was filling up, pushing them closer and closer together as the number of people crammed in to the space increased, until they were almost nose-to-nose. Unsurprisingly, the music slowed for a more romantic interlude, allowing the new pairings that had formed through the evening to take advantage of their surroundings more intimately. Realising they were pretty much stuck on the dance floor, at least for the time being, Brennan wrapped her arms around Booth's neck. She rested her head on his shoulder. Thoughtlessly, they swayed in time with the sensual music as she hung on to him. Booth automatically wrapped his arms around her waist, pressing them even closer together. There was no room for the Holy Spirit, even if he'd wanted it. He didn't.
Songs came and went and the partners were both contented to remain as they were on the dance floor until someone accidentally nudged into Booth from behind, sending him off balance for just a second, causing Brennan to pull back in surprise just enough to make eye contact with him. That look that had started them off that morning was back, maintaining that contact as their bodies stayed locked to each other. Within seconds they were kissing again, initially in the same spot as they'd been dancing, but as the beat picked up again for the next song, Booth somehow managed to navigate them into another corner, where they stayed for some time, mouths fused, hands everywhere. In the general atmosphere of the place, they fitted perfectly.
Needing to draw breath, Brennan finally pulled back and gently touched her forehead to his. She smiled knowingly.
"Take me home, Booth…" He gazed directly at her, trying to read her expression. She looked calm and very sure of herself.
"Is that what you really want?"
"Yes..." and she planted another, slower kiss on his lips. "It is."
Reviews are still always welcomed. :)