TITLE: The Wait
SPOILERS: "The Skull in the Desert"
AUTHOR'S NOTES: As always, thanks to everyone who reviews my stories. I apologize for no longer being able to respond to a lot of them... time is just getting away from me lately. Just know that I still appreciate each and every one! You guys rock, and the reviews are the reason I keep doing what I'm doing ;) Enjoy this one.

Temperance Brennan cast yet another checking glance on her best friend, Angela Montenegro, who was currently sleeping in the seat across the aisle. Brennan smiled from her own aisle seat, a bit sadly, and readjusted her friend's blanket. A voice to her left drew her attention.

"How's she doing?"

She turned to meet the sleepy-eyed gaze of her partner, Seeley Booth, who was seated in the window seat directly beside her. She smiled and kept her voice soft, though still audible over the din of the airplane. "She's asleep."

Booth rubbed his eyes and adjusted his button-down shirt, which had gotten slightly wrinkled during his nap. "I feel so terrible for her," he shook his head.

Brennan nodded. "Yeah." She watched her partner roll up his sleeves and she smiled halfway, his presence always a comfort to her. "Thank you."

His head swiveled and he locked eyes with her. "For what?"

Had it been any other person turning to look at her, she would have leaned back, the proximity too much for her to bear. With Booth, however, the proximity was welcomed. Craved, even, if she was being honest with herself. Her gaze drifted to his lips briefly, inches from hers, before she dragged her eyes back up to his. "For coming out here for me. For Angela. I really appreciate it, and... I know she does too."

His smile was genuine and slow-spreading; it wasn't often his partner showed gratitude. "You're welcome, Bones." After a pause, he added, "I had to, anyway. You own me."

Brennan exhaled her chuckle softly, never tearing her eyes from his. "How's that?"

"C'mon, Bones. You're the big anthropologist. You haven't heard of those tribes of aborigines that believe that when you save someone's life, you own them?"

A vertical crease indented the space between her eyebrows. "Then that would mean that you own me, Booth. You were the one that saved my life, in that warehouse."

"And you were the one that saved my life in that explosion."

She raised an eyebrow. "So we own each other?"

Booth grinned at this. "Yeah, I guess we do." He laid his arm on the armrest that separated them, holding his palm up. "Partners?"

Brennan watched his hand a moment before placing her own inside it and giving him a smile. "Partners."

He squeezed her hand and leaned a little closer, their shoulders connecting. "Friends?"

She nodded without hesitation. "Friends."

Her heart skipped at the look that came to his eyes then, and she glanced down to see him slowly interlacing their fingers, one by one. His voice, low and slightly tremulous, brought her gaze back up. "And, maybe...?"

There was a question in his eyes, one that startled her. Booth wanted more out of their partnership? "Uh..."

He blinked, and disappointment came over his features. Brennan grasped for something, anything, to say, but she was still stunned speechless by what he'd suddenly presented her with. Booth chuckled to himself. "Nevermind, just uh... forget I said anything."

He began to unlock their fingers, but Brennan held tight, and ducked her head to capture his gaze again. "Booth."

He met her eyes and saw the struggle in them.

She opened her mouth, thinking she had figured out what she wanted to say, then closed it again. She tried one more time. "I..."

"Bones, it's okay. You don't have to say anything. We're partners, we're friends, nothing mo--"

"I'm not quite there yet."

"What?" This confused him enough to distract him. His brows furrowed again and he searched her eyes.

Brennan held his gaze steady, unblinking. "I don't know that I'm there yet, Booth. I will be, eventually. I can assure you that much. But just..."

"Not yet," he finished with a smile, and nodded. "That's fine, because you know what?"

"Hmm?" She readjusted the navy blue blanket over her legs before meeting his eyes again.

"I'll wait for you."

Brennan took a deep breath and let it out slowly through her nose, never breaking gaze with Booth. He had his cocky moments, his stubborn moments, and he could be irritating as hell sometimes... and yet, he was the most amazing, wonderful man she'd ever met. "Why would you do that?" she asked softly.

"Why?" A chuckle was laced within the question, making it sound as if he was questioning her sanity in the process.

She nodded seriously. "You could have any woman you want, Booth. You could take your pick. Why would you want to wait for someone like me?"

He shrugged just slightly and tightened their still-tangled fingers. "Maybe because I have a good time with you when we're not arguing... and, sometimes even when we are; or maybe because we're different enough to keep things interesting; or maybe because I just like you and care about you that much."


Booth smiled and leaned toward her ear. "But you wanna know the real reason why?"

She nodded, mirroring his smile.

He chuckled in response and pressed a kiss to her forehead, leaning his own against it when he was through. He touched her face with his free hand and delighted in the fact that she didn't pull away from him. "Because to me, Bones?" He pulled away and, on a dare, ran his thumb across her lips, smiling when they parted. He stared into her eyes. "You're worth the wait."

Brennan was left speechless yet again by her partner, and could do nothing but smile shyly in return and hold up a portion of her blanket with her free hand. "Wanna share my blanket? I'm going to nap."

Booth grinned and dropped another kiss to her skin, this time her cheek. "Sure. Thanks, Bones. And you can use my shoulder for a pillow if you'd like."

She did. And she smiled when she felt Booth lean his head on hers, squeeze their still-twined fingers and whisper, "Meet ya in dreamland, partner."

She grinned, closing her eyes, and whispered back, "It's a date."