"But Daddy…I don't wanna go," little Parker pouted, "I wanna stay here with you and Tempe…"
"I know pal," she heard Booth whisper sadly as he leant down to pull his son into his arms. Bouncing Parker up against his chest, Booth consoled his boy, "I don't want you to go either. But you know the rules."
At that moment Brennan wasn't sure who sounded more forlorn, Parker or his father; and the scene playing out before her was almost enough to make her burst into tears again.
"But Daddy…the rules aren't fair."
"Trust me honey I know…," Temperance could have sworn she heard the usually sturdy voice of her favorite FBI agent, and former Army Ranger sniper break as he repeated quietly, "…I know." Then miraculously he channeled the strength to speak more confidently, she suspected it was probably through some emotional mechanism he'd built up over years of having suffered though this situation.
"But you remember what Daddy told you? I'm working as hard as I can on a solution, so that we can spend more time together."
"Don't forget okay?" his voice was almost pleading.
"I won't Daddy."
"That's my boy," Booth praised.
From her position beside them, Brennan watched as Booth leant over and kissed Parker. Then turning more fully around to face her, the boy in his arms, Booth told her, "I'm just going to walk him out to the car…Sid's going to take him back to Rebecca's. Don't go anywhere okay?"
She nodded carefully and smiled at him in response. For while she could easily understand how he might think she'd dash off in an attempt to avoid sorting through the day's events, she knew that she neither had the willpower nor the desire to run from him any longer.
Then much to both hers and Booth's surprise, Parker himself seemed to sense the importance of the moment as he addressed her directly, "Tempe…you take care of daddy okay?"
Completely caught off guard, she shifted her eyes to Booth and realized that he was watching her with equal fervor. And though she wasn't absolutely certain, she could've sworn that behind the surprise in his affectionate stare, she read something even deeper...something that she knew there would be no way to ignore...not after today.
Respect. Desire. Love.
And much to her own astonishment, she realized that she welcomed those feelings now. Something deep inside told her that for the first time in her life…she was in love.
And though a mere 24 hours earlier, she would have thought it an absolute impossibility, Temperance inherently sensed that there was no reason to fear that emotion. She needed to acknowledge it so that she'd hopefully be able to embrace it.
Feeling unexpectedly empowered by her new understanding, she closed the distance between her and Booth, who still carried Parker tightly in his arms. Tearing her gaze from Booth's as she approached them, she gave the little boy he held a bright smile.
Parker's weight shifted in Booth's arms as the little boy reached awkwardly across his father's chest, and waited for his Tempe to accept him. Pulling Parker into her considerably smaller embrace, Booth looked on in utter amazement as his son went not only willingly, but eagerly into her arms.
As she cradled his small weight easily against her, Temperance smiled as Parker's tiny arms encircled her neck and displaced the delicate location of her oversized necklace.
"You know Parker, I think you and I are going to be great friends," her voice broke through the long silence.
His answer was an excited bounce against her hip, "Will you come next time its Daddy's turn?"
"Well I suppose that's up to your Daddy," she wasn't sure what came over her as she smiled flirtatiously in Booth's direction. She had to suppress the urge to laugh like a giddy schoolgirl when she saw him fidget nervously with his open collar. Parker remained of course, innocently clueless.
"I uh…I don't see any problem with that. That is, as long as it's okay with Bo-, I mean Tempe," Booth floundered slightly.
"Tell you what Parker," she nudged the boy playfully, "your Daddy and I will figure it out. And maybe next time…he'll bring you to the place where I work. Have you ever been to the Jeffersonian museum?"
"Well there are all sorts of interesting things to see there; there are dinosaur bones, and lots of bugs, and more robots."
"Cool! Daddy can we go to the Jeter-don-eon?" Booth and Brennan both let out laughs at Parker's obvious difficulty pronouncing the multi-syllabic word. It was after all adorable to hear him try.
"I think so," he answered happily.
"Yay!" Reaching around, Parker wrapped Tempe in another hug. "Bye Tempe."
She squeezed him tenderly, "Bye Parker." Then as he pulled back she was amazed to recognize her own disappointment at having to bid the child farewell.
Perhaps this motherhood thing wouldn't be all that bad, she thought before he unexpectedly leaned in and dropped a kiss on her cheek. Another second later and the boy was being gently lifted out of her arms by Booth, who it appeared, was greatly enjoying the interaction between them.
"Okay there Casanova! Time to get going. Sid's still waiting for us outside."
"What's a Casa-nova Daddy?"
"Someday when you're older, I'll tell you all about it pal," his son in his arms again, Booth sent her another suggestive grin.
"I'll be right back," he told her before turning around and heading for the exit. From over his shoulder, Parker waved goodbye.
Before long the door closed behind them and Brennan was left staring thoughtfully at the exit. Hands on her hips, she turned to face the bar and caught her own reflection in the mirror behind the counter.
She'd come a long way today. She'd collided head-on with some of her longest standing fears, and maybe even resolved a few she realized proudly.
Taking up her usual seat at the bar, Temperance surveyed the scene around her. The place was pretty empty she noticed.
It wasn't but a few long seconds later before Booth slid up next to her, situating himself in his own usual spot beside her. Peering over at him she quickly noticed that he was without his usual sunny disposition, a condition that she knew was most likely due to his son's departure.
"Parker's a good boy." She started carefully.
"Yeah," the lopsided smile he formed in response was a telltale sign of his awakening from gloominess. "He sure seemed to take a liking to you…I was very impressed."
"Why?" she was being coy now even though she tried her best to keep it from being too obvious. "Contrary to popular belief, I am capable of forming emotional bonds like other people you know."
"I know. I wasn't trying to imply that you were incapable. I just meant that it was nice to see you with him. You know…Dr. Temperance Brennan out of the lab, finding herself tapping into the Christmas spirit…" he watched her softly as she dropped her head somewhat shyly down toward the bar.
Smiling to himself, Booth leaned a little closer into her personal space and nudged her gently before whispering, "So…how's it feel Temperance?"
Bringing her eyes back up to meet his squarely, she sensed that he was hinting at something beyond just her enjoyment of the holiday spirit. Leaning closer into him she whispered back just as quietly, "Pretty good actually."
Oh he smelled so good.
"…And not as scary as I would have thought."
Shaking her head in response she smiled back at him softly, no words escaped her.
"So then…," he started a little nervously, "where does that leave us?"
"Us?" she teased.
"Yeah…us. You," he stated pointedly, "and me."
"Well…we're partners right?" She was playing with him a bit now and he knew it. Although he had to admit, the temptation to flirt back was too strong to squelch.
"Absolutely," he affirmed.
"Well then, I guess where you and I are concerned…that leaves just one question."
"And what's that?"
As much as she despised the thought of having to bring this up, she knew that it was an issue that they'd need to address, if this thing between them was ever going to become anything.
"What about Tessa?"
"Yeah," the fact that her tone was suddenly much less confident was not lost on him. And then there was the fact that she refused to look him in the eyes anymore.
"Tessa's not an issue," the resoluteness in his voice forced her gaze up to his once more. She was so beautiful to him in her rare moments of cluelessness; and it was perhaps her unawareness of her beauty and appeal that made her all the more attractive to him.
"And why is that?"
"…Because she and I aren't seeing each other any more."
"I'm sorry," although her choice of words was intentional, the meaning behind them felt false.
"I'm not." The finality in Booth's voice was startling.
Shaking his head in reply, he once again met their eyes; except this time, she felt the passion that lied behind them with undeniable heat.
"See, the thing about Tessa…" he started knowing full well that this was something she needed to hear, "…is that she had this problem. She could never understand why I spent so much time on the job. But more to the point…she was threatened by you."
"Me? Why me? I was always nothing but polite to her."
"From the very first time you and I worked together," he started to explain while leaning closer into her. He tried his hardest not to touch her; not because he didn't want to, but because he knew that if he did this would be over too soon, and he'd never be able to get these words out.
"…She was jealous because she thought that I had feelings for you beyond just the professional. And even though I told her that you and I just worked together…it seems I couldn't fool her any better than I could fool myself."
"What are you saying Booth?" her voice was breathy and she knew it; but she also knew that she couldn't care less. She just wanted him to touch her…she needed to feel him…she wasn't sure how much longer she could hold out…
"I'm saying Temperance...that I've felt the attraction between us from the very first case we ever worked together. And I know you did too. And even though we've spent months trying to ignore it…we've both wanted more."
"But there was too much to consider then," she was trying her best to rationalize why they'd never succumb to their desires before this moment, but it seemed that the closer he got, the harder it was to convince herself that they were ever meant to be anywhere else but in this moment.
"Maybe there was," he agreed somewhat, "but none of that matters now…because now, it's more than just simple attraction that I feel."
Oh god help me…his breath was a like a sweet breeze that tickled at her skin...his lips, they were teasing her, with every slight smirk and every inch closer that he leaned, they begged her to drink of them…
"I'm in love with you Temperance…"
Closer, closer, closer…he was only just inches away now.
"…and I'm done pretending that this game we're playing isn't slowly driving me crazy…"
His eyes pleaded with hers. She knew that he'd offered up all that he was willing to without her reply. He was pleading with her to finally bring to a close this dance around each other they'd engaged in for far too long. He was pleading with her take that next step…to close the last few millimeters between them.
It was up to her.
She would have to be the one.
She smiled then.
She wasn't so afraid any more.
In a rush she closed their distance. Their lips met in a frenzied kiss that was neither timid nor predictable…it was blissfully passionate. Her mind whirled…his fingertips brushed at the skin at her waistline as he pulled her even closer.
She was a fool for never believing in heaven…
They were lost. Lost in the moment...Lost in the sensations...Lost in each other.
Her arms closed tightly around the broadness of his shoulders, Brennan let herself be willingly drawn into his heady warmth.
She welcomed it.
And she couldn't help the sigh that escaped her when she felt his skilled hands travel up along the sides of her waist and brush against the undersides of her breasts.
Her own hands freely roamed his excited body as it seemed that their kiss was intensified. Dropping her hands from his shoulders, Brennan let her palms glide down his chest and under his coat. Pulling him against her eagerly she was instantly overtaken by both the strength of his caress and the sweetness of his scent.
She knew she needed to separate their kiss. To continue at this any longer would rush them headlong into something that they weren't ready for…not yet.
Sensing her mild hesitation, Booth redirected the path of his stroking. Bending his arms between them he gently caressed the sides of her neck.
Loathe to break their embrace, he tangled his fingers in the tresses of her hair…and ever-so-softly he ended their kiss. Eyes closed, he tried to reign in the urge he felt to smother her in more passion.
But he knew…as did she…that their time for more passion would come.
Still holding each other, they bent toward one another, foreheads touching…breath still intermingling.
"Shh…," the words weren't important. He silenced her with another gentle kiss. Short though it was, it calmed her pounding pulse.
"But I…," she started, "I feel like I have to tell you…"
"No," he voice was tender and understanding. "You don't. I already know." He was quiet but steady...and sure. "And you're not ready to tell me…not yet."
She was constantly bewildered by his overwhelming ability to sense her deeper thoughts.
"But you will be one day…," he told her confidently, "Soon you'll be ready to take that leap." Brushing the loose tendrils from her cheek, "And when the time comes…I'll be here."
She swallowed down the vestiges of her insecurity, smiled tenderly and reached up to gently stroke his arm as it stayed at her neck.
She loved him.
And she knew that she'd tell him just how much one day very soon.
"…And what happens until then?"
Grinning down at her seductively, Booth leant in for another torturously sweet kiss, "Until then…we do what we do best, partner. Except now," he suggestively lowered his voice and teased her closer with a hand at her hip, "…we get to play inside and outside of the lab."