Title: Suffering From Temperance
Summary: Willow has moved away from Sunnydale to go to college in the new semester, and for the holidays she’s got an internship at the Jeffersonian and her and Dr. Brennan immediately…don’t hit it off. Fic written for a fic-for-all. Set somewhere around Season 3 to Season 4 in the Buffyverse. For the purpose of this story, Oz was never there. Willow was always gay. Booth doesn’t have any feelings for Brennan. He could possibly like Angela. I don’t know yet.
Disclaimer: They aren’t mine. Though I wouldn’t mind owning Brennan, I heart her jaw line. I mean… never mind.
Note: This one’s an AU fic, obviously, since Willow has never seemed the slightest bit interested in forensic anthropology. Or forensic anthropologists, -wink wink-
Also, I’m sorry if I get something wrong with the technical stuff, I know nothing about anthropology or bones or anything like that, so bear with me and I’ll try not to focus too much on it or I’ll start to sound like I don’t know what I’m talking about. Even though I don’t anyway. I’m covering it. Be quiet.
“‘Temperance’ is a funny name.”
“Will, have you looked at your name lately?”
“I see your point. Never mind then.”
They were silent for a while.
“So, you’re in DC now, huh?”
“Yeah. The Jeffersonian is where I’m supposed to go tomorrow. It sounds hellmouthy.”
“You’ve got an internship, that’s why.”
“I’m going to miss you.”
“You too, Will.”
Willow hung up the phone and sighed. Moving to a new state and starting all over again was going to be difficult, but she knew it was for the best.
Walking into the Jeffersonian lab the following day, Willow was greeted by air conditioning and the cheery smile of a woman whose nametag read ‘Angela Montenegro’.
“Yeah. Nice to meet you,” she stuck out her hand and Angela shook it vigorously, before pulling her up some stairs to where two men were standing.
“Zach, Hodgins. Meet Willow, she’s Brennan’s new intern.”
Hodgins greeted her warmly but Zach looked apprehensive.
“I didn’t know Brennan took in interns.”
“Zach, get over yourself,” said Hodgins. He directed his next comment at Willow. “Zach is Brennan’s student, and he thinks that he’s going to be shunned because you’re new. Never mind him.”
“He’s also much too smart for his own good, so from what I’ve heard about you, you two should get along fine,” interjected Angela.
Willow smiled tentatively.
“Come on, let’s go find Bren.”
Angela knocked on the anthropologist’s door and a distracted reply came from the other side.
Opening the door, Angela walked in and Willow was given a view of a woman sitting at a neat desk, a small frown across her brow as she pushed some of her brown hair back behind her ear.
“Sweetie, your intern is here.”
Brennan looked up; confusion evident in her blue eyes before she registered what Angela was talking about.
“Oh, right. I’m Dr. Temperance Brennan.”
They stood in awkward silence for a minute before Angela said; “Perhaps I should take Willow for a tour?”
“Ah, yes. Introduce her to Dr. Goodman if you haven’t already done so, he was expecting to see her. Then send her back here and I’ll get her started.”
“Gee, Bren, its her first day. Cut her a bit of slack.”
There was a knock at the door, and before Willow turned around to see whom it was, she saw a look of irritation flit cross Brennan’s face.
She turned, and got the shock of her life when she saw the man leaning on the doorframe, grinning at her. He looked uncannily like Angel, yet couldn’t be. Angel didn’t grin and he certainly didn’t wear suits with FBI badges on them.
“Agent Seeley Booth, ma’am, nice to meet you.”
And he didn’t say ‘ma’am’, either.
He nodded and looked past her. “Bones, we have a case.”
Willow was puzzled for a second, before she realised Booth was talking to Dr. Brennan.
She felt a pressure on her arm and saw that Angela was heading out the door, motioning for Willow to follow her.
She complied and they shut the door behind them.
“So, now that you’ve been introduced to our resident sexy FBI agent, you only have one person left to meet, Dr. Goodman. He’s the administrator of the Jeffersonian.”
“Why does Booth call Dr. Brennan ‘Bones’?”
“Nickname. It pisses her off so he does it to provoke her.”
Angela led the redhead up some stairs and along a corridor to an office with a plaque on the door reading ‘Dr. Daniel Goodman’.
Later on that evening, Willow was in her hotel room. Picking up the phone she first dialled Buffy’s number but was greeted by Joyce saying that Buffy was out patrolling, so rang Xander instead.
“Hey, Willster, how’s DC?”
“Well, its okay, I guess. Most of the people are really nice.”
“Most of them?”
“Dr. Brennan is a little…odd. Like she’s kind of distant.”
“Well she doesn’t know you at all, maybe she just isn’t a huge people person.”
“I suppose she could get better in the next few days. And I’m already getting to work on a case, there’s these bones someone found…”
Willow spent the next half an hour chatting happily with Xander before hanging up and falling asleep within minutes.
The following morning at the lab was rather a blur. Willow didn’t talk much, but took billions of mental notes, warnings to herself what to do and not do. She found that Brennan was smart, much smarter than her, but she didn’t react kindly to newcomers.
She was rather disappointed Angela wasn’t around a lot; she was doing two facial reconstructions for the two people involved in the case and needed to concentrate. Willow liked Angela; she was easy to get on with and didn’t seem to mind showing the redhead the ropes. And she was constantly talking so it made it easy to have conversations.
“Willow, see this here?”
Willow blinked; she had been distracted by Hodgins and Zach arguing about their beetles, and only just noticed that Brennan was looking at her, waiting for her attention.
“Sorry, Dr. Brennan.”
“Its okay. See this anomaly? It’s a trait in the bones of both people, they were related. Judging by their structures, I’m guessing they were brother and sister,” Brennan seemed to disregard the fact that Willow hadn’t been listening, she was totally engrossed in her work, that now-familiar frown in place, bent over the remains on her lab table.
“How long have they been dead?” asked Willow.
“I’m guessing, ten to twelve months, by the state of decomposition. Parts of the bone have been eaten away by something in the soil where they were buried, which could say something for the original location.”
“They weren’t buried where they were found?”
“No, see here, where the types of soil are completely different?” Brennan gestured to a part of the bone with gloved fingertips and Willow went around to the other side of the table to get a closer look.
The bones were dirty, still covered in soil, and when Willow looked closely, the difference between the two types was evident.
“I’ll ask Hodgins to clarify, but if I’m guessing correctly, one is a volcanic soil and the other is definitely clay-based.”
Willow was suddenly acutely aware of her close proximity to the anthropologist and felt a slight jolt when her arm moved past her to pick up a bone and study it.
Not cool, she thought to herself. Dr. Brennan was her mentor, her teacher, no feelings unless they were platonic were allowed. Besides, she’d only known the woman for a day, where was her mind going?
She was talking again, mostly to herself this time, and turning the bone over in her hands.
“Can you hand me the right skull, please?”
Willow’s eyes met those piercing blue ones and she stuttered out a ‘yes’ and shakily handed Brennan the skull.
Snap out of it, Willow.
Brennan held out the skull and pointed to where the bone was dented and cracked.
“It looks like a blunt object did it.”
“You’re catching on quite well. I concur. Zach,” she called to the young man, “Put this under the microscope and see if you can find whether anything has been left on the surface to help us find what did it.”
Zach nodded and took the skull.
“Willow, go with Zach and see if you can notice anything.”
Willow was slightly hurt by Brennan’s curt tone, but pushed it down and followed Zach.
He seemed to have warmed up to her more since yesterday. “Don’t worry about Dr. Brennan, she’s not a social person and doesn’t really understand if she accidentally hurts peoples’ feelings, she doesn’t mean any harm by it.”
That made Willow feel better and she joined Zach in studying the skull under the microscope. She immediately noted how dented the skull was.
Zach however, noticed something before she did.
She walked over and Willow stepped back slightly to give her more room, again noting the proximity and Brennan’s perfume. Mentally smacking her forehead she forced herself to focus on what Zach was talking animatedly about.
“…I can see some sort of material, cotton of some sort, like from clothing.”
Brennan moved away and retrieved some tweezers from a drawer so that she could pick up the strands that were embedded into the skull.
“Get someone to analyze these, will you?” asked Brennan.
She started talking to herself again and Willow only caught snippets.
She felt a presence behind her and turned to see Booth with his usual grin in place, looking amusedly at his murmuring partner.
“Hey, Bones… how’re your elves today?”
“I don’t know what that means.”
“You’re talking to yourself.”
“I’m making mental notes.”
“Nice to see, nice to see. Make sure you take those pills the hospital sent you, okay?”
“The hospital hasn’t sent me anything for several years, Booth, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.”
“It was a joke. Just…never mind,” he paused. “So, how’s our newest squint settling in? Bones isn’t attempting to make you analyze temporal bone structure of humans between the years of now and a long time ago already, is she?”
“Booth, don’t call her a squint, and no, I’m not, she isn’t ready for that yet,” Brennan, still studying the skull, said before Willow could say anything.
Booth rolled his eyes at the anthropologist and Willow gave him a small grin.
“I’m learning a lot.”
“You will from Bones. We’ll make an anthropologist out of you yet.”
Willow felt comforted by Booth; he didn’t take Brennan’s clueless nature and odd comments to heart and just made a joke out of them. And he didn’t brood like Angel did. Stop comparing him to Angel. He’s not Angel, he’s Booth.
When it got dark, Brennan started to send everyone except herself home while she cleared up the remains. Willow being Willow, she automatically started to help and Brennan looked strangely at her before flashing the redhead a diminutive smile and leaving to her office.
Willow felt another jolt go through her and wished she wasn’t such a big geek.
After carefully putting the bones away, she was about to leave when she heard a crash from Brennan’s office.
Rushing back into the lab she went to see what had happened. She was met by what looked like a scene from a horror movie but with less blood.
It seemed Brennan had tried to get something off her shelf and ended up involuntarily depositing the entire contents of it on the floor.
She walked in to start picking things up off the floor when she was stopped by Brennan.
“I’ll do it. Just…help me down, will you?”
Willow nodded and swallowed. Get a freaking grip, girl.
Making her way carefully over to the anthropologist, she attempted to ignore the shiver that went down her spine as she latched onto her hand without a second thought, and got slowly off her swivel chair.
She smiled in gratitude and Willow cursed herself for being so insane.
Brennan didn’t register Willow’s odd look and started to collect all the papers and files and books that were littered all over the floor.
“Are you sure you don’t need any help?”
“Um, you could put these back on the second shelf, but otherwise no, you can just go.”
Willow nodded and started to replace the fallen books, searching for something to say. Don’t make an ass of yourself and say something idiotic.
“So, do you have a car? Because if you don’t I have one.”
Luckily for Willow, Brennan just thought she’d phrased her question slightly strangely, and replied “Yes, I have a car, I park it round back though.”
“Oh,” Willow replied lamely.
Brennan shot her a small look that made the redhead shiver again and she dropped a book. She picked it up, embarrassed, and put it on the shelf.
“Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.”
Brennan nodded and sat cross-legged on the floor, putting papers back into a folder.
Willow was suddenly struck with the urge to do something spontaneous, and settled for making a strangled noise in her throat and going extremely red because she could see down Brennan’s shirt.
She backed out of the office; almost tripping over her own feet and hurriedly stumbled outside. The air was cool there and calmed her nerves. She didn’t know why she was like this. She’d known Brennan for two days, and she was probably about ten years older than her, not to mention she was her mentor, her teacher. She tried to pull herself out of it and focus on anything besides Temperance Brennan. She managed for a while, until she got into her car and was suddenly flooded with images of the anthropologist’s eyes and more oddly, her prominent jaw line.
Shaking her head, she tried to clear the thoughts from her mind but failed miserably.
By the time she got back to her hotel room she was almost yelling at herself for mentally undressing her mentor.
Two weeks. That was how long it took before Willow was at the point of spontaneously combusting.
Angela turned and caught the desperate look on Willow’s face. “What’s wrong, sweetie?”
“Can I talk to you?”
“Of course you can.”
Angela crossed her legs in front of her and settled back on the couch.
“I have a problem.”
“What kind of problem? Is it a guy problem?”
“Is it something to do with Hodgins? I mean, I know he’s not exactly the best person to work with, but he’s not that bad once you talk to him one on one.”
“Its not Hodgins,” Willow was starting to think this was a bad idea. She swallowed. “Its about Dr. Brennan.”
“Bren? What’s she done?”
“Um, pretty much existed.”
“You don’t like her?” Angela asked disbelievingly. “I thought you guys were getting on okay now?”
“Well, it’s actually the opposite.”
Realisation dawned in Angela’s eyes and at that moment, Willow was extremely glad she wasn’t dense like Brennan.
“All I have to say is ‘oh my God’.”
Willow closed her eyes and buried her face in her hands.
Angela switched seats and sat down next to Willow, putting a comforting hand on her back.
“Oh, sweetie, its okay. I’m glad you told me.”
“I think I have to go. I can’t face her now.”
“Who, Bren? Willow, she’d probably think you were talking about her anthropologically speaking, she wouldn’t exactly understand what you were trying to tell her. I mean, I love her and everything, but she’s the most socially ignorant person I’ve ever come across.”
“So what do I do?”
“Right now? Put on your best game face, Booth’s coming.”
The pet name Booth had oddly given her, of all people, made her feel just the tiniest bit better.
“We’ve put away the guy who did it. Looks like your first case as an intern was a success, then,” he directed at Willow.
She gave him a wan smile and he seemed to register something was wrong. “You okay?”
“You look like Parker when he’s broken his Hot Wheels racetrack and doesn’t want to say anything, you’re not fine.”
“Booth, I think uh, come here,” she motioned for him to follow her and led him out of Willow’s hearing range.
They came back and Booth tried to look nonchalant.
It didn’t quite work out for him.
“I won’t tell her, if that’s what you’re wondering.”
Willow tried to smile at him and instead settled for not bursting into tears.
“I will though.”
“What?” Willow asked incredulously, her eyes widening.
“I have to, you can’t, Booth definitely can’t, and unless you want the whole of the state to know about it, nor can Hodgins or Zach. And somebody has to say something.”
Willow groaned and ran her hands through her hair.
“It’ll be okay. Brennan doesn’t know what the words ‘heavy metal’ mean, I doubt she’ll overreact over me telling you like her.”
“Yeah, I’m willing to bet the worst thing she’ll do is ask what kind of bagels you like so she can know to pick them up in the morning,” Booth sniggered.
“She wouldn’t know what that meant, Booth. I’m willing to bet the worst she’ll do is attempt to tell Willow that lesbianism isn’t right because anthropologically speaking, women need men to survive, or something to that extent.”
“Basically what we’re trying to say is, is since Brennan is half-robot, she isn’t going to freak out on you.”
Willow was filled with gratitude for the two people in front of her, and smiled appreciatively at them.
Angela disappeared down the stairs and her feelings were replaced with those of dread.
She reappeared ten minutes later, her usual smile in place, giving nothing away. She sat down and leaned back on the couch, not saying a word.
Willow blinked at her, wondering whether she should say something.
“She doesn’t mind, sweetie. She said she knows, just like she knows with Zach. Obviously I don’t give her enough credit.”
“Well what does that mean?”
“I’m not exactly sure. I mean, knowing her, she’ll ask you about it at the most inappropriate time possible, Hodgins will snigger, Zach won’t get it, and Booth and I will smile knowingly. Right, Booth?”
Booth just nodded.
“So I have to be ready for public humiliation?”
“My favourite pastime.”
Angela laughed. “Don’t worry sweetie, we’re all suffering from Temperance.”
The End. This is the longest fic I’ve written since the one about the pony. Whatever that means.
I hope you liked, and as always, reviews aren’t necessary but they’re always welcomed and sometimes cookies are given in return.