Get in, get the file, get out. Get in, get the file, get out.
Entirely unaware that her thoughts sounded like those of some kind of government spy, Brennan hovered impatiently outside Booth's door, repeating her "How not to get distracted from work and suckered into spending all day with Booth and Parker" plan over and over again in her mind. Admittedly, it had failed the last four times she'd been round to Booth's apartment on the days when he had his son, but no-one could accuse Temperance Brennan of being a quitter.
Get in, get the file, get out. Get in-
"Who it is?"
Her mantra was interrupted by Booth's slightly out-of-breath shout from the other side of the door, and she called back, "It's Brennan."
"What's the password?" a younger but no less out-of-breath voice yelled with authority, only to be answered by a warning from his father.
There was a brief, inaudible exchange on the other side of the door and Brennan waited patiently to see whether she would be allowed access to whatever tank/spaceship/submarine/wigwam the Booth men had spent their Sunday constructing. Eventually, she heard the sound of the lock being opened, and a small blond head peered suspiciously round the door.
Putting on a smile that she hoped was more Mary Poppins than Child-Catcher (her knowledge of pop culture for the under-tens had improved vastly under Parker's tutelage), Brennan greeted him nervously, "Hello, Parker."
Too late, she noticed the tell-tale glint in his eye, a trait shared by all members of the Booth clan when they were about to do something she would disagree with, but before she could say anything, Parker questioned demandingly, "Are you Princess Tempe from..."
"Jeffersonia," Booth prompted from inside with a stage whisper and a snort of laughter.
"Jeffersonia?" Parker finished, clearly having inherited his father's talent for interrogation. "'Cause if you are then you can come in."
"And if I'm not?" Temperance asked hopefully, still trying to avoid being sucked into this weekend's game.
"Then we have to shoot you," the boy replied with utter sincerity.
Remembering with a smirk the many studies she'd read in which younger members of tribes avenged wrong-doings done to their elders, she relented, deciding not to give Parker the opportunity to take revenge for the time she'd accidentally shot his father in the leg, "Okay, I'm Princess Tempe of Jeffersonia."
The boy's face lit up in a grin, obviously pleased by the game's new recruit, and he pushed the door open, running back over to his father with a shout, "Dad, now we get to play!"
Temperance followed him in, marveling as always at the fact that Booth had turned his apartment upside down in order to create a suitable game for his son. Bedsheets and duvet covers of various sizes and colors were draped across the rooms, hanging from light fittings, doors and shelves to resemble a fortress like environment. His coffee table had been erected as a citadel, his two couches were back to back with the cushions in between them acting as a rocks in a quarry, and the closed curtains and night-lights in Booth's bedroom indicated that it had been transformed into a lair for whatever 'bad guy' the seven-year-old conjured up this time.
Unable to stop herself from smiling at the sight, Brennan wandered into the kitchen, where she found a very excitable Parker and a very flushed Booth, who was kneeling on the floor and was still trying to catch his breath. Seeing her approach, he greeted her with a wry smile, "Good afternoon, Princess."
Glowering at him, she said feebly, "I came to pick up the Woods file for the trial on Tuesday."
Booth grinned. "See, Bones-"
"Princess Tempe," Parker corrected sternly.
"See, Princess Tempe, the crucial word in that sentence would be 'Tuesday'. You have the whole of Monday to read through the file. You just came here because you wanted to join in."
Her eyebrows shot up and the protests began, "I came here to get my work, Booth, not to play your games."
Parker just looked at her as though she'd said the world was made out of Spam, unable to comprehend why anybody wouldn't want to join in the game. Registering the look on his son's face, Booth jumped in quickly, letting them both know where they stood, "Well, you're here now, Princess, and since 'here' is the city of Sir Parkalot, you're pretty much stuck playing the game."
Sighing, she dropped her purse to the floor and removed her heels, knowing from past experience that arguments would result in being whined at, nagged and generally pestered by both Booths until she gave in. "Fine." She looked at Parker's plastic sword, bow and suction-cup arrows, and armor made from an old gray t-shirt of his father, and concluded, "So you're Sir Parkalot, I'm Princess Tempe and you're..." She frowned at Booth's outfit of black sweatpants and a black tee. "What are you exactly?"
Glancing down at himself, Booth answered with an air of self-deprecation, "Well, currently I'm veering between the noble steed and the evil Sir Blackheart."
"Sir Blackheart?" she repeated with a barely concealed smile, and Booth shrugged defensively.
"It was the best bad-guy name we could come up with at short notice."
"That says a lot about your creative skills."
"Go on, Miss New-York-Times-Bestsellers; you come up with something."
"Umm, Sir..." Think, Temperance, think. Your publishers don't pay you money for nothing. "Sir Blackbeard?"
Apparently her publishers did pay her for nothing, as she was corrected by the seven-year-old in a way eerily reminiscent of his father, "He's a pirate, Princess Tempe; Blackbeard's a pirate. Sir Blackheart is a mean knight who wants to kidnap the princess."
Having informed the princess of her kidnappee-to-be status, Parker dashed off to his room, leaving Booth to tackle the inevitable question of, "You want to kidnap me?"
The agent/steed/villain just shrugged. "I'm the bad guy, Bones; it's pretty much in the job description."
Pouting slightly, she suggested, "Why don't you kidnap Sir Parkalot?"
"Because Sir Parkalot has to do the saving," Booth pointed out helpfully, before flashing her a cocky grin, "Anyway, you'd make a great damsel in distress."
Brennan glared at him good-naturedly, before retorting, "This coming from a horse?"
"Noble steed, okay, Bones?" he countered, protective of the rank of his horse alter-ego. "I out-rank other horses."
Not surprised to see that Booth's superiority complex was alive and kicking even when he was down on all fours, Temperance's reply was cut off when Parker came bounding back into the room, brandishing a pale pink, floaty scarf and instructing, "You need to wear this, Princess Tempe."
Taking the scarf from the child, Brennan eyed it with amusement before commenting, "I never knew your wardrobe was so varied, Booth."
He rolled his eyes at her. "Parker, does your mom know you borrowed this?"
"And she was okay with you using her favorite scarf in our game?"
"And you didn't happen to sneak it out of her dresser when she wasn't looking?"
"Yep." Parker's eyes widened as he realised what he'd admitted to, and his happy smile vanished, replaced by fear of the game being stopped. "I'm sorry, Daddy. Can we still play? Please?"
Booth ruffled his son's hair in a gesture of reassurance. "Yeah, we can still play, bub. After all, Princess Tempe drove all the way here just so she could join in." Ignoring the "Hmph" from the aggrieved, but now pink-scarfed, Princess Tempe, he said seriously, "But you have to remember to give it back to your mom after school tomorrow, okay?"
The little boy's face brightened again, and he nodded briefly, before turning his attention back to the game, "Okay, now me and Princess Tempe are going to go to her castle, which is..." He scanned the room for something suitably castle-esque. "Next to the waterfall and under the rocky cliffs."
"Next to the bathroom and under the bookshelves," Booth translated quietly for his partner's benefit.
"And to get there," Parker continued, thrilled at the prospect, "we have to get on the noble steed and go through the Valley of the Trolls."
"On my back and between the couches," his father whispered.
Nodding in comprehension, Brennan turned to the child, "I'm not sure if your noble steed can carry us both, Park- Sir Parkalot. How about I walk to my castle, and you ride on your steed?"
Unfortunately, Booth had taught his son manners a little too well, and Sir Parkalot drew his sword, saying gallantly, "But princesses should ride on horses. I'll go ahead and kill any trolls and monsters so they don't eat you."
Not waiting for her agreement, he set off, immediately pouncing on an invisible monster between the couch cushions and battering it thoroughly with his sword, calling back to her, "You can follow me now, Princess Tempe! I'll keep you safe!"
Booth and Brennan just exchanged reluctant glances before Booth dropped to his hands and knees in resignation, "Let's get this over with."
"Are you sure?" she asked, anxiously. "That much pressure on the vertebra would cause a great amount of discomfort for a prolonged period of time, especially with an uneven floor beneath your knees and hands."
"Just get on, Princess," he muttered testily, and she gingerly clambered on his back, her legs dangling down either side of him and her hands gripping the back of his tee to try to maintain her balance. Booth let out a groan as she settled into place, before asking in confirmation, "You on?"
Receiving an answer in the affirmative, Booth headed towards the couches while Brennan tried to stay balanced on his back as he moved. Seeing that Parker was engrossed in his enthusiastic slaughter of various imaginary monsters, she asked her partner teasingly, "You know that pony play dream you told me about..."
Booth groaned again, and hissed back at her, "No. Just... no. You do not get to mention pony play in any context, especially not when-"
"I'm riding you like a horse?" she finished with a smug smile.
"Bones..." he whimpered, hoping that she would take pity on him and stop the conversation right there.
However, pity wasn't very high up on her agenda, and she stroked his hair teasingly as she said in contemplation, "I wonder if you would be considered a good pony in pony play terms..."
Dropping his head so it was out of her reach, he said through gritted teeth, "Can we not discuss sexual perversions in front of my seven-year-old son, please? Or, you know, at all?"
"He can't hear us, Booth," she replied patronisingly, clinging on tighter as they headed onto the wobbly cushions/rocks on the valley floor.
"Yeah, but I can," Booth muttered, deciding that the feeling of Brennan's legs wrapped round him were already inducing enough inappropriate thoughts.
These inappropriate thoughts were only exacerbated when she then proceeded to rock her hips forward, saying in a knowing whisper, "Giddy-up."
Turning his head to try to prevent any more horse-oriented dirty talk, Booth promptly lost his balance in the precarious cushion-quarry, and slipped to his elbows as he tried to keep Brennan on his back. This, however, didn't seem to be a problem, since as soon as he started wobbling, the "Princess" let out a panicked yelp, previously unheard of from the respectable Dr Temperance Brennan and attached herself, limpet-like, to Booth's torso by wrapping her legs and arms round his body and hanging on as though her life depended on it.
Producing a sound that was a combination of a derisive snort and an aroused moan at the sensation of her breasts pressed against his back and her legs encircling his hips, Booth pressed on, pushing his way through the cushions and trying to focus on the cheers of his delighted son rather than the somewhat enjoyable pressure of his partner's toes brushing against his crotch.
Eventually, they reached the end, and collapsed in a sweating, panting tangle of limbs, which did nothing to help the problems Booth was currently having. The ever-helpful Sir Parkalot extended a hand to Princess Tempe, extricating her from her partner and leading her over to the arm chair, while leaving his noble steed on the floor to recover from the exertions of the journey.
"Now Princess Tempe has to sit in her castle and sing and brush her hair and do girly stuff so that Sir Blackheart can snatch her," Parker informed her, well aware of precisely how fairytales should progress.
Not having the heart to tell him that a) Sir Blackheart was still in the role of an exhausted horse and b) that she had very little idea of how to act like a princess, she suggested helpfully, "How about I just go to sleep in my castle, while Sir Blackheart plots how he's going to kidnap me?"
Parker cocked his head in thought for a moment, before nodding magnanimously, "Okay, you can go to sleep and Sir Blackheart can snaffle you then."
Skipping over whether 'snaffle' was really an appropriate word to substitute for 'abduct', Temperance settled in her chair, closing her eyes and trying to make out the muffled whispers between the two knights sitting in front of her. Whatever plan had been constructed, it had been constructed quickly since the room soon fell silent, leaving her waiting nervously for the attack to come.
Eyes closed, Temperance strained to make out the sound of Booth approaching, but heard nothing. The scientific part of her wondered how it was possible for someone of Booth's physique to make so little noise, but the rest of her mind couldn't help but wish that, since they were playing at fairytales, Booth would decide to wake up this princess with a kiss. Taking a deep breath, she suddenly caught his scent close by her, and despite the entirely un-erotic reality of the game, she found herself hoping that her shirt was thick enough to hide any evidence of just how much the anticipation was getting to her.
Still hearing nothing from Booth, she let her body relax slightly, trying to get her breathing back under control, when all of a sudden the breath was knocked out of her as she was hoisted into the air with an involuntary shriek.
The shriek was followed by a fit of laughter from Parker, who found the sight of his dad carrying a panicked Princess Tempe in a fireman's lift absolutely hilarious, and she felt her cheeks flush in embarrassment as Booth chuckled too, holding her firmly in place as he headed to his lair/bedroom. Sir Parkalot raced in behind them, laughing too hard to speak but not wanting to miss any of the action.
Putting on his best "evil Sir Blackheart" voice, which sounded remarkably like his pirate voice from a few weeks earlier, Booth grinned at his son, saying triumphantly, "A-ha! Princess Tempe of Jeffersonia is now mine!" For added effect, he slapped her playfully on the ass, a task made easy by her position over his shoulder, and was met by a squeak from his partner and another burst of laughter from Parker.
With another piratey growl, he deposited the flailing Brennan on the bed, and said, mostly for Parker's benefit, "Now, I must tie her up, so that she cannot run back to the brave Sir Parkalot!"
"Boooo!" yelled Parker enthusiastically, clearly engrossed in the show happening before his eyes.
Brennan, however, had different priorities, and whispered in disbelief, "You're going to do what?"
"Relax, Bones," Booth whispered back, with a smile that could have persuaded her to do anything he asked, a fact which she never intended on sharing with him. She met his eyes as he pulled the scarf gently from her hair and slipped it around her wrists, saying softly, "Lie down."
She acquiesced, and he gently raised her wrists above her head, wrapping the scarf around one of the slats in the headboard before saying in the least-subtle and loudest way possible, "Now Princess Tempe cannot get away, unless Sir Parkalot pulls this part of the knot here..." He wiggled the part of the scarf in question in the direction of his son. "Because then he will free Princess Tempe and rule the entire land! Ho ho-" He quickly realised that Santa was not an evil knight, and switched to, "Mwah-ha-ha!"
Enjoying the feel of his warm body over hers, Temperance felt a slight pang of disappointment when Booth moved away from her, but was soon distracted when Parker got to his feet, holding his plastic sword and saying with total conviction, "I'll save you, Princess Tempe!"
Mission declared, he charged at his father, who grabbed a pillow and began to defend himself half-heartedly against the thwacks of the boy, who apparently thought his sword was more effective as a bludgeon rather than an implement for slicing or stabbing. Brennan watched in amusement as the battle raged before her, both participants trying to keep the grins off their faces, and found herself giving a cheer when Sir Parkalot lunged at his opponent's gut, causing Sir Blackheart to drop to the floor with a melodramatic groan of pain.
With an almost excruciating amount of over-acting, Booth gasped feebly, "I... surrender... You... win..."
Giving a crow of victory, Parker clambered up onto the bed and wobbled over to the headboard, careful not to tread on the princess he was supposed to be rescuing. "I saved you, Princess Tempe," he declared proudly, before wrinkling his nose in a puzzled frown as he surveyed the knot.
With some help from the kidnappee, he successfully located the right end of the scarf and pulled it away from the bed, allowing Temperance to sit up and ruffle the boy's hair, saying in her best princess voice, "Thank you, Par- Sir Parkalot." Parker beamed, and she glanced down at Booth, who was now propped up on his elbows, asking uncertainly, "So is Sir Blackheart dead?"
The boy shook his head, "Nope. Sir Parkalot doesn't kill bad guys, but he incatassypates them so that he can put them in jail."
"Incapacitates," Booth corrected gently from the floor, and seeing the look of surprise on Brennan's face at Parker's morals, he nodded to his son, "But you got the rest of it right, kiddo."
Marveling for what felt like the hundredth time today at Booth's skills as a father, she turned to her rescuer and inquired, "What do we do with Sir Blackheart now?"
Prompted by her words, Parker scrambled down from the bed and pulled his father to his feet, saying authoritatively, "You have to go to jail." Sighing, Booth looked suitably contrite as his small son pushed him into the large wardrobe, before closing the door and turning back to Temperance, "And now we get to live happily ever after! Come on!"
Taking her by the hand, he dragged her happily into the lounge, ignoring the protests of the imprisoned Sir Blackheart when his former kidnap victim couldn't resist turning the key in the lock of the wardrobe door as she followed her brave, energetic knight out of the lair.
However, as brave as Sir Parkalot was, the 'energetic' part could only last so long, and 'happily ever after' soon ended when he curled up in the large leather arm-chair with a contented smile on his lips, exhausted by the excitement of the day.
Easing herself off the floor, Brennan made her way carefully back through the chaos of the apartment, her own eyes heavy with sleep. A smile came over her face when she unlocked the wardrobe, finding Booth sitting on an uncomfortable-looking pile of shoes and squinting up at her as she opened the door, saying sarcastically, "Because you nearly breaking my back just wasn't enough today, was it?"
Her smile widened as she parroted his own words back to him teasingly, "You make a great damsel in distress."
Booth dragged himself to his feet, rolling his eyes. "So that makes you what? Prince Charming? 'Cause no offense, Bones, but you don't look much like a prince to me."
She caught the momentary flicker of his eyes down her body at these words, and folded her arms under her breasts with a smile. "I wasn't planning on being either, Booth. I came here for that file, remember?"
A challenging glint came into his eyes, and he stepped out of the wardrobe, coming closer towards her as he said, only half-joking, "You never came here for that file, Bones; we both know it could've waited till tomorrow."
Uncomfortable, she stepped back, saying quickly, "So why did I come then? Just to join in your childish games with your son?"
The ridicule she'd intended to lace the suggestion with somehow didn't materialise, and Booth approached her again, his voice low and sincere, "Yeah, you did, Bones. You think I've not noticed how each time you show up, you get less and less reluctant to play?"
"That's because I know you'll force me-"
"Or how you never seem to smile as much at work as you do here?"
"My work involves human remains; it's hardly-"
"Or how far out of your way you'll go to have some excuse to spend the weekend with me?"
She raised her eyebrows at his cocky assertion. "You've got a pretty high opinion of yoursel-"
However, Booth didn't wear that belt for nothing, and he moved in closer, noting with relief that she didn't back away. "Did you think I didn't notice how badly you wanted me to kiss you in that chair?"
Her voice caught in her throat, any false comebacks or denials burned away by his stare. Struggling to find words, she stammered, "Booth, I-"
His lips were on hers before she could say any more. Stunned, she froze in his arms, and he wondered for a second whether the day's fairytale would end with the princess kicking the ass of the presumptuous, overly-forward knight. However, as much as Princess Tempe differed from other storybook heroines, this was one stereotype she wasn't about to contest.
Resisting all temptation to pull away and begin to analyse, Temperance decided to succumb briefly to the childhood dreams of princes and true love. Knowing all good fairytales ended with a kiss, she let herself get lost in Booth's arms, believing, even for a second, that there could be such a thing as happily ever after.