Bones Fanfiction: The Necklace
Pairing: Booth/Brennan, UST
Timeline: Season One
Word Count: 2, 700
Summary: He cannot say how he chooses the necklaces, how he knows what Brennan will like, but she’s never failed to wear what he gives her.
Author's Note: So, first post here, first fic in this fandom, first shameless plea for feedback!
Booth buys her the necklace on a whim.
He knows Brennan well enough to know she’ll be completely confused by the gift and will matter-of-factly point out that is neither Christmas nor her birthday so there must be an ulterior motive behind his present, and Booth will get annoyed at her tendency towards scepticism and cynicism and be irritated by her suggestion that he might try to buy her acquiescence, and they’ll have a spat that will only end when Booth threatens to retract the gift if she’s going to be so ungracious about it, but Brennan will curtly shake her head and tighten her grip on it.
He buys it because he also knows her well enough to know she’ll like it.
It’s an impulse buy from a market in Maryland that his cousin Miranda drags him to one weekend when she visits him from Boston. Booth, as a rule, doesn’t do markets, but Miranda insists and she’s always been his favourite cousin and she can hold a grudge forever about the smallest things, so he stoically accompanies her, letting her pore over jewellery and quilts and homemade jams and preserves sold by verbose elderly ladies with blue-rinse curls and old-fashioned names like Mavis and Valerie.
Miranda’s taste in jewellery is more modern, cleaner and simpler than Brennan’s, so those are the stalls his cousin gravitates towards. At the two-hour mark, Booth’s stomach begins to grumble and his patience is thinly stretched. Miranda stoops to coo over hand-knitted baby bonnets, which frightens him for a moment, because it suggests Miranda is getting clucky and he’s not sure he can cope with the idea of Miranda being a mother: he remembers when she used to flash bouncers to get into clubs.
His cousin strikes up a conversation with the octogenarian responsible for the baby bonnets and Booth sighs inwardly and allows his gaze to wander across the flat field filled with stalls and people. He cannot help cataloguing and assessing the throng for potential problems or threats. His Ranger training is a constant, unrelenting hum that accompanies Booth’s everyday actions, but it’s particularly dynamic when he is in a crowd.
Fortunately, there appear to be no real threats, aside from an escalating argument between a young, slender redhead and a heavyset man with alopecia over the last jar of gooseberry jam in the next aisle over. The dispute hasn’t turned physical, but if it does, Booth’s money is on the redhead: she might be small, but she looks mean.
Yet another jewellery stall three tables down from the bonnets catches Booth’s eyes. The bright beads and colourful designs glimmer fiercely in the sunlight and he finds himself moving confidently towards the table.
Miranda, engrossed in her conversation, doesn’t see him go.
The trestle table is draped in a black velvet throw and the bracelets, brooches, earrings and necklaces are attractively arrayed against it. Many of the wares are similar to what Bones wears everyday: strings of wooden beads with shell pendants, unusual carvings or sculpted metal discs.
But one necklace particularly appeals to Booth; he picks it up and admires the unusual setting.
The stall owner – a young woman with a pixie haircut and a slight overbite – smiles encouragingly at him. “That’s a nice piece, isn’t it? Different.”
“You make all this yourself?”
“Just about. My sister does the copper work further down the table. The stones in that are turquoise, set in sterling silver.”
Miranda has found him and is staring at him with bemusement. “I know it’s my birthday soon, but if that’s what you’re planning on giving me I’d prefer a gift voucher.”
“It’s not for you,” Booth reassures his cousin. “It’s for a friend.”
Miranda is quick. “Ooh. A friend of the female persuasion?”
“No, Mira, I buy jewellery for all my FBI buddies. We like to look good on the shooting range.”
She pokes him in the ribs. “Don’t be an ass.”
Booth ignores her and inquires about the price of the necklace. It’s a little higher than he expected, but he can see the necklace so clearly on Bones’ neck – can visualise how bright the green stones will look against her pale skin – that he hands his credit card over without a second thought.
“Who is this girl?” Miranda prods as they walk away. “And why are you buying her pretty and expensive jewellery?”
“She’s a work colleague.” He tries to keep his tone light and matter-of-fact, as if that will deceive his perceptive cousin.
“You want her to be more?”
The question is more bald-faced than anybody’s ever been when asking him about Temperance Brennan and Booth is surprised into a heavy silence. Most people just skirt around the issue with half-statements and vague comments, which suits Booth just fine.
“What? No. She’s just…she’s my partner. I mean, I can buy her a necklace without it being a thing.”
But the defensive timbre of his voice must surely tell Miranda what she wants to know. She’s smart enough to let it lie and hooks her arm through his. “Just make sure this colleague doesn’t get the wrong idea about your gift. Some girls might.”
“Trust me, Brennan doesn’t notice that sort of thing. She seems to be missing any sort of social radar.”
He laughs and begins to tell her one of his many stories about Brennan's obliviousness, as they make their way past the escalating gooseberry dispute.
Booth and Miranda have lunch, and then return to the District. When Miranda leaves on Sunday afternoon, Booth drives her to the airport, hugs her tightly, promises he’ll visit her soon and is genuinely sad to see her board her plane.
Booth visits the Jeffersonian the following day to check some test results on bones found in a septic tank in Baltimore. Brennan tells him in excruciating detail why they’re not human bones, but animal instead; most likely a moose, she posits.
Which sparks a round robin discussion amongst the squints as to how moose bones ended up in a septic tank, and Booth extracts himself by promising an indignant and impassioned Angela that he’ll call Animal Welfare to check on the homeowner.
He follows Bones back to her office and hands her the paper bag the stall owner put the necklace in on Saturday. He is surprised by his apprehension, but is determined to see this through. Brennan stares suspiciously at the bag and opens it cautiously, apparently suspecting a prank of some kind.
Their conversation goes much the way he imagined, which makes it hard for him not to smile throughout.
Brennan – after clutching the necklace tightly and telling him he can’t take back a gift – softens slightly and says genuinely, "I'm keeping it."
She wears it to work the very next day with a black fitted cashmere top and her hair pulled back. She receives a number of compliments about the unusual design of the turquoise stones, which are all met with her usual short shrift.
But after lunch, when she thinks no-one is looking, Booth sees Brennan touch the necklace gently and smile to herself. Just as his nerves surprised him yesterday, so too his satisfaction at the sight of her happiness is equally startling.
It’s a thing after that: whenever Booth sees a necklace he thinks Bones will like, he buys it for her. He picks them up when he travels, or when they catch his eye in store windows.
Thankfully, the good doctor’s taste doesn’t run to diamonds, because his government salary couldn’t stretch to that, but he never lets price dictate a purchase. And Brennan wears the least expensive necklaces as often as she wears the pricier ones with the larger stones or gems.
Booth never gives Bones jewellery for her birthday or Christmas; what seems to irk and please his partner in equal measure is that there is no purpose, no pattern, no rhyme or reason to the gifts.
Mostly, Booth leaves the necklaces for Bones to find in her office rather than go through the same debate about giving gifts for no reason every time. He is very careful never to give her a necklace after they’ve had a fight, because he doesn’t want Brennan to think he’s trying to buy her forgiveness.
He cannot say how he chooses the necklaces, how he knows what Brennan will like, but she’s never failed to wear what he gives her. She wears more than a few of them on a regular basis. Whenever she receives a compliment Brennan never informs the giver where the necklace is from.
The one time Angela asks specifically – the necklace is roughly cut amber beads that gleam in the sunlight and make Bones’ hair seem redder – Bones shrugs and replies that she can’t remember. When Angela walks away Brennan catches Booth’s eye and touches the amber lightly, as if apologising or silently acknowledging his gift.
The amber is a perennial favourite; so too the turquoise, and also an elegant circlet of twisted copper strands with a spring catch in the back Booth bought from an M Street jeweller.
That the gifts remain a secret between them is something else Bones seems to like. And Booth gets a kick whenever he sees Bones wearing one of his necklaces. He’s smart enough to recognise that seeing her wear the jewellery he chose for her is a strange act of possession, but there’s a different satisfaction in knowing he can choose something she likes; in knowing he can make her happy.
He can’t be sure, but Booth suspects that up until he started buying them for her Bones mostly bought her jewellery for herself.
If they ever talked about it, Booth supposes that Brennan would tell him about the significance of the necklace in various tribes, of slave collars and ownership and other anthropological wonders that would be interesting for a while and would then make his eyes glaze over.
Their secret goes unremarked until one day in late autumn when a necklace that Booth gave her breaks.
A young girl’s skeleton is found in a shallow grave in the backyard of an abandoned house three blocks east of her mother’s home. Child victims are always more intense for Booth and Brennan, who both feel keenly the death of the vulnerable and the young. As the week passed, it became increasingly likely that the mother was somehow involved.
When they asked the mother in for questioning – and they were careful not to use the words ‘suspect’ or ‘interrogation’ – Booth deliberately didn’t tell Brennan, because her eyes had grown harder every day since they’d found the body and Booth couldn’t bear to see it.
But she’d found out anyway, because when they emerged from the frustrating session, Bones was waiting for him in the hallway, her body tight with anger. Which would be bad enough, but for some reason, at the sight of Brennan, the person who first started asking difficult questions and expressing doubt about the woman’s story, the mother goes postal.
She grabs Bones quickly, and her screech is unnerving, but Bones disarms and pins the woman down with just as much speed and no scream. In the process, the woman goes for Brennan’s neck and snaps the necklace.
Booth is too concerned about Bones (it doesn’t matter that the rational part of his brain knows she’s fine, his heart pounds psychotically and doesn’t still until he touches Bones’ face and puts an arm around her shoulders and is reassured that she is safe) to even notice the necklace.
Bones, however, bends to pick it up with shaky hands. “Damn it, Booth, she broke my necklace.”
“Hmm? Doesn’t matter. These scratches look painful.”
“No, I like this one. You gave it to me at the end of the Lofting case. After I got back from the arraignment it was sitting on my desk.”
“Bone, it’s okay. It’s just a necklace.”
“No, it’s not.” The tone of her voice forces Booth to look up from the scratches on Bones’ throat. Her eyes tell him how upset she really is.
“Maybe we can get it fixed.” Booth gently takes the broken pieces from her and begins to walk her down the hall. “C’mon, we should put some disinfectant on these scratches – we don’t know where that woman's been.”
Brennan insists on going back to work and the squints crowd around when she and Booth enter the lab.
“What happened to your neck?” Zack asks solicitously.
“It looks nasty,” Hodgin’s adds.
“It’s nothing,” Bones typically says. “But my necklace was broken.”
“Oh, honey,” Angela replies, “Better the necklace than you.”
“No,” Brennan snaps. “The necklace was a gift from Booth and now it’s broken.”
Booth would usually crack a joke to ease the tension, but he knows that will only make things worse. Instead, he propels Bones towards her office, deliberately ignoring the curious look Angela is sending his way. The fact that Bones offers no resistance indicates the level of her distraction.
“You’ll get it fixed,” Brennan positively orders, as Booth closes the door behind him.
“I’m pretty sure it’s beyond repair, Bones.” Booth pulls the two pieces from his breast pocket and lays them across his palm. “The chain snapped and the pendant isn’t removable.”
Brennan steps closer to him and fingers the beads strung along the chain. Her fingernail scratches at his palm, just enough to tickle. “You’re right.”
“Bones, I’ll buy you another one. A better one.”
“Where did you get this one?”
“Phoenix. When I went to look at their new holding facilities last April.”
“I never…I never say thank you or even acknowledge your gifts.” Bones meets his eyes. “I should.”
Booth shakes his head. “It doesn’t bother me.”
“Why?” he asks, with genuine curiosity.
“Because you take the time to choose them. Because you put thought and effort into it, and I do like them, and I should say so.”
“You wear them. You wear some of them a lot. That’s thanks enough.”
“But I don’t understand.” Her aggrieved voice echoes. “Why do you buy the necklaces for me?”
“Because I like the way they look on you.”
They’re wading into dangerous territory. Brennan is looking so earnestly at him, and seems so upset by the broken necklace that Booth wants to tell her how beautiful she is, how her eyes are greener when she wears the turquoise necklace, and that she looks like some ancient Incan Goddess in the amber; that the copper circlet highlights her slender, pale neck, that it draws his eyes to the steady beat of her pulse in the hollow of her throat, that he wants to press his mouth against that pulse and feel it jump under his tongue.
“Because I do,” Booth finally answers. “Do I need a better answer than that?”
“Nobody ever…nobody ever bought me jewellery before. Well, not since my parents, and I was kid then, so…” Brennan trails off the way she usually does when her parents invade the conversation.
“So they weren’t buying you diamonds?”
“No. But I don’t like diamonds.” Brennan scoops the broken pieces from his palm. “I like what you give me.” She places the two pieces in the top drawer of her desk and squares her shoulders. “What did the mother say? In the interview?”
Booth recognises the signal and accommodates Brennan’s need to work, knowing it centres her like nothing else in her life. All day, he cannot stop looking at the scratches on her neck, but he’s not sure if his eye is drawn by the raw marks or the beauty of Brennan’s neck when it is bare.
That evening, Booth goes to the jeweller on M Street and scours the store until he finds the perfect necklace: a thin chain with a delicate butterfly pendant of hand-beaten silver.
He leaves it on Brennan’s desk at lunchtime the next day, and when she emerges from her office at 2.30 for a meeting with her team, she is wearing it.
When Angela comments on it, Bones looks straight at him and says, “Booth gave it to me. It’s beautiful, isn’t it?”