Title: What It Means

Author: Maeve Bran

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Post "The Man in the Morgue". Brennan contemplates what the earring means.

Disclaimer: I don't own Bones. Fox Television, Josephson Entertainment, and Far Field Productions do.

Brennan looked around her office. Seeley Booth had just left after returning her earring. She saw her friends still there and nodded at Angela. Angela stood up and shooed the others out of the office so Brennan could get her stuff together and leave.

Brennan put the earring in her wallet in her purse for safe keeping on the way home, and then turned out her light. She left the office and found Booth leaning against the wall, waiting for her.

"Oh good, I was afraid you left," Brennan greeted him.

"I wasn't going to leave you stranded here, what with your wrist being out of commission. I said I'd drive you home, and I will," Booth replied.

"Thanks. I wasn't sure I could manage," Brennan agreed.

As they walked in silence out to his vehicle, Brennan was lost in thought about the earring. What was it he had said? He'd put his career on the line for me. That he already had. Taking the earring had to be what he was referring to. Where did he find it? Ah yes, it had to be at Graham's house. Oh, my God. He tampered with evidence for me. By that time, they had reached the parking structure and Booth was holding the door for her. For once she didn't argue about that, as she was injured.

Brennan was sure that they needed to talk. She was equally sure that doing so while he was driving was not a good idea. She held her tongue until he had pulled up in front of her place.

"I'd like you to come in, Booth." He looked startled so she quickly added, "I think we need to talk"
Booth hesitated for a few seconds, then said, "Ok, but under no circumstances am I opening your refrigerator. Got that?" He smiled after that, the 'charm smile' he did so well.

"Right, no refrigerator for you," she half chuckled. It really wasn't funny that the last time he'd been here he'd been blown up, but somehow he was treating it as a joke.

They entered, and walked down the two short steps into her sunken living room. He found a seat on the couch; she sat down next to him and turned, pulling one leg up and tucking it beneath her as she faced him. Then she pulled out her wallet and retrieved her earring. After putting the wallet and purse on the coffee table, she held the earring up in the space between them.

"I thought that might be what you wanted to talk about," Booth said nervously.

"You thought right," she returned.

"First, let me say, you are my partner and I knew you didn't do it, so when I saw the earring I picked it up," Booth reasoned with her.

"You withheld evidence, Booth," she stated.

"Yes, I did," he admitted.

"You nearly destroyed your career." She started to tear up, then said so softly he had to lean in to catch it, "For me?"

"For you, Temperance," Booth said, a bit louder then she but still very quietly. "It's not the first time, either. I've been putting my career at risk since that thing with Senator Bethlehem. This is just the first time you've noticed."

This revelation caused her to start for a second. Brennan thought about all the times he had rescued her or spun her actions in a more favorable light to keep her from jail. She realized he was right. She had endangered his career, not to mention his life.

"I'm sorry for endangering your career, Booth. Sometimes I don't foresee all the ramifications of my actions," she said earnestly.

"That's all right. Makes my life more interesting." He looked at her and then said, "When are you going to call me Seeley? Don't you think I've earned that right in our off duty hours?"

Brennan was shocked that she hadn't thought to call him by his name before. He had, on a handful of occasions, called her Temperance. So why hadn't she called him Seeley? The answer was swift in coming. It would signify two things. First that their relationship had changed from purely business. And second, it would establish a level of intimacy that she found daunting.

"You have more than earned that right, Seeley," Temperance finally answered.

"That wasn't so scary, was it?" He leaned closer still and slipped an arm around her hesitatingly. "You're not going to punch my lights out if I kiss you, are you?" He asked just to make sure.

"Of course not, Seeley." she said. His name was getting easier to say every time she said it. He smiled, not the "charm smile" but a genuine joyful grin.

"It really is good to hear you say my name." He chuckled and then leaned in to kiss her. It was a gentle, but by no means chaste, kiss for the sake of her still healing injuries. Then he pulled back to look at his partner, making sure that she seemed more than okay with this development.

"Stay the night," she whispered, looking somewhat dreamy and tired.

"I'd like to, but I won't," he replied ruefully.

She sat up straighter. "Why not?" she asked.

"One, you're tired and hurt." He could see she was about to protest so he put a finger over her lips. "You know I'm right." She finally gave in and nodded. "Two, we are just starting on this relationship. It is way too soon to sleep together. We haven't even been on a proper date yet. And lastly, because I'm too tired to do you justice."

Her lips formed an O of astonishment. She never had a lover who had ever turned her down. Especially not one who had been the least concerned about 'doing her justice,' whatever that might mean. She hoped to, one day soon, find out.

"All right then. Some other time," she said primly.

He stood and walked to the door. She followed behind. Just before he opened the door he leaned in and kissed her again. When they broke apart he met her eyes and said, "Oh, you can count on it." He was out the door before she even had worked out what she could count on. Then it hit her.

"Oh. Oh my." she said to herself. Then she took herself off to bed.