Tag for Harbingers in a Fountain

My friend, dgschneider's birthday continues! As promised, here is another time when they came so close to crossing that line. I hope you enjoy it!

Booth - I love you, in an 'attagirl, professional kind of way.

Avalon - By the way, my cards tell me this all works out, eventually.

"Booth, what did she mean that this all works out eventually? What is she talking about?"

Brennan followed Booth into his office pelting him with questions, which he chose to ignore. Instead, he tried to focus Brennan's attention in a different direction.

"Hey, come on, everyone is waiting for us at Founding Fathers for our after-case drink." Booth shut down his computer and retrieved his weapon from his desk drawer and clipped the holster on. "Let's go! I want to go celebrate my first case back."

With his hand on his spot on her back, he led her from his office and toward the elevators in such a whirlwind that she lost her train of thought. Before she'd had time to catch her breath, they were walking across the parking garage to Booth's SUV.

The partners were quiet on the longer-than-usual drive to Founding Fathers. Traffic might have stopped in its tracks, but Booth's thoughts hadn't. He couldn't get past his 'declaration' earlier that night. He had choked, there was no way around it. He told Brennan that he loved her, then heard the voices of Cam and Sweets, telling him to be careful, be sure. They had planted the seed of doubt about his feelings and he backed away from his bold statement, adding "in an 'attagirl, professional kind of way." She tried to cover her disappointment when he added that qualifier by playing along with him. She might have given him an 'attaboy punch to the shoulder, but he had seen the look as it crossed her face. It was that look that haunted him now. Had he missed his chance?

Traffic finally began to move, but not before Angela had called to see if they were coming. It was getting late and the rest of the team was ready to go home. Brennan told her that everyone should go, they'd have drinks another night.

"Hey, Bones, do you just want to go back to my place and have a drink? I mean, since we're not meeting the team now, there's no reason to go to the bar, right?"

"That sounds good. We haven't had a chance to really talk since I got back from Guatemala."

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking, a chance to catch up."

When traffic started moving, Booth changed direction and headed toward his apartment. Again, they rode in silence. He thought about Sweets's insistence that he wasn't in love with Brennan before his coma dream. Sweets had no clue. How could he say that brain scans could prove whether or not he was in love? Sweets probably thought he was helping, but he needed to stay out of it.

Booth didn't know when he had fallen in love with Brennan. Maybe, it was when he had gotten the call from New Orleans after she had been attacked and lost a whole day. Would he have gone flying off to help her if they were really just partners? Or perhaps, it was when she and Hodgins were buried alive. He had never been more scared than when their time ran out and he still didn't know where to find them. Would he have been that afraid for someone he didn't love? Maybe it was one of the many times she had saved him or he had saved her. That seemed to be an unending list, but they were always there for each other. It didn't matter when it had happened, because he knew it was true. He loved her, of that he was certain. He had to tell her, because holding it in, hiding it from her was just too hard. He couldn't do it anymore now that he had finally admitted it to himself.

He pulled into his usual parking space at his apartment and realized that they had barely spoken the whole time they had been in the truck. He knew where his thoughts had been, but he wondered what was on her mind. She was probably thinking about the dig in Guatemala or maybe some ancient remains that she planned to identify the following day. She opened her door and moved to get out, startling him into action. He hopped out and ran around to her side of the truck.

Walking into his building, he wondered when it had become automatic for his hand to find the small of her back. It was interesting that she had always allowed it. It was so unlike her. He realized that she allowed him to do many things that she would never permit anyone else to do. How many times had he seen her take a man down for daring to touch her? He'd lost count. However, he had always had her unspoken permission - a hand on her back, an arm around her shoulders – she allowed it.

Unlocking his door, he motioned for her to lead the way. After locking the door behind him, he secured his weapon in his safe and followed her into his living room.

"What's it going to be, Bones? Beer or something stronger?" He slipped out of his shoes, took of his jacket and tie and tossed them on a chair.

"Whatever you're having is fine." She made herself comfortable, kicking off her shoes, curling up on the couch with her legs tucked under her.

He decided that he needed more liquid courage that beer would provide, so he grabbed a bottle of Scotch and two glasses. He flopped on the couch next to her, placed the glasses on the coffee table and poured them each a drink. He handed a glass to her and clinked his against it.

"Welcome home, Bones." He knocked his drink back in one gulp and slammed his glass on the coffee table. He saw the she was sipping her drink and thought that if she knew what was coming, she'd be throwing hers down like he had.

"Bones, I have a confession." He watched as her eyes widened, not knowing what to expect.

"Oh, okay. What is it?" She looked and sounded apprehensive. She wasn't used to Booth making confessions to her. He was usually so straightforward with her.

He took a deep breath and decided that he needed another drink to say what need to be said. Grabbing the bottle, he poured himself another finger, then slammed the bottle, the drink and the glass.

"Before, when I said I love you…"

"Right, in an 'attagirl way."

"Bones, I just want you to listen, okay? If I don't say this now, I might not ever say it." He rubbed his hands over his face as he gathered his thoughts and his courage. It was now or never. He took her drink from her hand and placed it on the coffee table. Taking her hands in his, he made sure he had her full attention.

"I love you, Temperance, and not just in an attagirl way." The terror that he expected to see in her eyes wasn't there. Instead he saw… well, he wasn't sure what he saw there. She hadn't taken off at the first mention of the 'L' word which encouraged him to continue. "I've loved you for so long that I'm not even sure when it happened. After the scare with my tumor, I can't deny it any longer. I needed you to know. I know how you feel about love and I'm not asking you for anything more than you can give. I'm just asking you to think about us, about how you feel about us, about me and whether or not you think this could go somewhere."

He finally took a breath and wait for her to say something. Anything. He should have known better than to expect an immediate response. Well, he did know better, but that didn't stop him from hoping, did it? He realized that instead of the thoughtful, even far-off look that he was expecting, she was still meeting his eyes. Her gorgeous blue eyes were bright with… tears? Had he just ruined everything? Was she going to break his heart and take off? This is why he should have kept his mouth shut and kept on doing what they had always done – dancing around their attraction and settling for second best. He would never forgive himself if she –

"Booth!" She was staring at him expectantly, like she was waiting on him to say something.

"I'm sorry, Bones, did you say something?" He gave her a sheepish grin.

As she nodded, a tear rolled down her cheek. "Do you love me or the version of me that was in your dream?"

"Oh, Bones," he wiped away her tear with his thumb before caressing her cheek, "I love you – the scientist, author, FBI consultant, best friend, generous, loving person that you are. I loved you long before I had that dream and I'll love you long after it's faded from my memory."

He sat stunned as she turned her face to kiss the palm of his hand. With tears running down her cheeks, she smiled at him.

"The book that I wrote during your coma, it helped me to realize that I'm in love with you. That's why I went to Guatemala. I wasn't ready to deal with those feelings. I'm sorry that I ran away from you, from us, but that time away helped me. It gave me time to process my feelings. It gave me perspective."

Booth felt like his heart was going to explode. He heard her say that she loved him, right? He waited to see if she would say it again, because it seemed too good to be true. He couldn't quite trust it yet.

"Booth, I know what I feel for you is love. And while I've never been good a relationships, I think that would be different with you."

He was stunned. She had just offered him everything he had ever hoped for and more. Pulling her into his arms, he kissed her. If he had thought that their tequila or mistletoe kisses were the real thing, he was wrong. They paled in comparison to this kiss. Kissing the woman that he loved and who he now knew loved him in return was so much more.

"So, does that mean we are doing this? You and me? A relationship?"

She chuckled at how hopeful he sounded. "Yes, I think we are."

He didn't know whether he wanted to shout it from the mountaintops or barricade them in his apartment for the next week. For now, he was content to hold her in his arms, kiss her as much as he wanted and imagine the future they would have together. After everything they had been through to get to this point, it was enough.

A/N - Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed it. This is the second and last official part of dgschneider's birthday fic, HOWEVER, there are many other times when they got oh-so-close and backed away. As I have the time and inspiration, I'll be adding to this. Please consider following this story so that you don't miss those updates.

Reviews are great and they feed the muse. You know what to do. Thanks! ~ craftyjhawk