With a shake of her head Dr Temperance Brennan placed a small plastic card of the bar and walked over to her co-workers’ table. She ignored Angela’s raised an eyebrow and contemplated her noodles. And Special Agent Seeley Booth’s back. She could see his jacket bunch and relax as he stretched to pick the card up and flip it over in his hands.
Her sunny mood was evaporating as she watched and her eyes narrowed into a frown.
What she couldn’t see was the way Booth’s eyes lit up, or hear his grinning ‘nice’, as he realised what the card was – his badge of acceptance into Squint’s-ville. She also didn’t see the grin falter slightly as he thought about what she had been saying before he’d ungraciously instructed her to leave him alone.
She did see his head slump forward and make solid contact with his right palm, and see him rotating the card and tapping it absently on the bar.
Temperance’s noodles were sitting forgotten as she watched Booth’s shoulders slump and his head shake from side to side, her irritation mounting.
‘After all, he had invited her to join him for food. He wasn’t supposed to tell her to get out of his space. And she’d bet that he hadn’t been listening when she’d acknowledged the intuitive skills he’d brought to the case.’ Temperance’s expression darkened as she continued her train of thought, ‘I didn’t have to say that. In fact I’m not sure if I believe it now – his behaviour this evening demonstrated the emotional intelligence of a… a… bar stool!’
‘And what was he doing now?’ She thought, as Booth rested his head in both his hands. His fingers tightening, buried in his hair.
Temperance was oblivious to the fact that Angela and Jack were watching them both with some amusement. She was too busy recalling his: “Very impressive Temperance. You got that one right.”
A comment she had taken as a compliment! Had she been having an out of body experience? It was the most patronising thing anyone had said to her in ages and she’d still agreed to go to dinner, and with a smile.
She was gripping a chopstick in both hands and it was flexing slightly.
I mean, just because he’d called me Temperance twice in a day it didn’t mean I had to take leave of my senses. And just because his lips had curved around my name it didn’t mean I had to say yes to dinner…
The chopstick was starting to splinter as Temperance tried to place the strange flutter she felt in her stomach as she thought about that smile.
And even Zach had begun to stare.
And what the hell was he playing at anyway, asking her out? What about – ugh – Tessa…
With that thought, Temperance’s eyes flickered wide open and the chopstick snapped. Glaring at the broken ends in each hand, she surged to her feet.
At the same time Seeley swung down off his stool and squared his shoulders. The plastic card clenched in his right fist.
They took two steps towards each other, eyes riveted to the floor and then looked up at the same time. Green eyes meeting brown, only a foot apart. Anger meeting apology.
They both blinked.
Temperance loosened her grip on the chopstick ends. But her expression didn’t change – it was icy.
Seeley gave a tentative smile and took a small step forward.
“Thank you for this” he said, nodding at the card that he now held between his thumb and forefinger. He smiled a bit wider in encouragement.
“I mean it,” he continued as Temperance folded her arms and tilted her head on one side. “I really appreciate it, and what you said earlier. I mean… about my.. um…something stinks aptitude.” Seeley faltered as Temperance continued to glare at him.
‘Oh yeah’ he thought, ‘I can read body language – in this case, it says: I’m biding my time before I stab you with a sawn-off chopstick!’
Seeley’s smile dropped away and his expression became entirely serious.
“I mean it Temperance,” he said and touched her hand gently. Their eyes locked and Booth had the strangest feeling of vertigo as he stared into the emerald depths of her eyes and felt her warm skin under his hand.
“And I’m sorry I was rude. I don’t …” Booth’s voice halted as Temperance’s hand curled around his.
Temperance’s train of thought had been derailed at his touch. Her anger had dissolved and she could feel her spirits lighten at his apology and contrite expression. ‘You could almost think he cared about me,‘ she thought.
She stepped forward so that they were only inches apart, gazing and gazing into each other’s eyes.
Seeley’s senses were reeling as her stormy eyes cleared and he breathed in her perfume. He was unaware that as their joined hands rested between them, he was stroking her hand with his thumb.
They hardly realised they were leaning in closer, breath mingling together. They were unaware of their audience, and missed Zach’s muttered comment that the sort of tips the Agent could dispense had to be worth the risk of being shot.
But a loud party of eight pin-stripe suited businessmen brought the real world crashing in as they jostled their way onto the table next to where Seeley and Temperance stood and gave a few catcalls.
Awareness flooded in. Temperance suddenly clocked Sid’s knowing smile, as he stood behind the bar; and Seeley was confronted with three squints – one laughing, one motioning ‘way to go’ and the third staring in open-mouthed awe.
They jumped back from each other, wide-eyed. Suddenly aware of their racing hearts and each unable to look the other in the eyes.
They released hands and nervously cleared throats. After a frozen moment, Seeley sought the refuge of his seat by the bar and Temperance dived towards the rest room.