"Booth, let's face it…you deserve better than this. And I hate that I feel like I'm constantly the one who's holding us back."
He hated to see her wallowing. Self-defeat didn't suit her. And more importantly, it could never describe one ounce of the beautiful, vibrant, soulful woman he knew. Shaking his head in anger that she could dismiss herself so easily, Booth felt himself quickly losing the battle he was raging to rein in his emotions.
"Then don't," he told her decisively. Then going back to a comment she'd made earlier in their talk he added, "You know, if it seems easier for me, maybe it's just because I know what I want."
"And what's that?" she asked defeatedly.
The momentary pause that followed captivated her, just as the intensity of the stare he'd pinned her with had done, "You, Temperance."
His admission stunned her into complete silence, though the weight of what he was about to say next, she never could have expected.
"And whatever else is going on in that brilliant head of yours, you can be sure of one more thing…," she watched him eagerly, her pulse quickening in her chest with every word he spoke.
"…It doesn't make a damn bit of difference to me what Agent Finn says or does, or any other woman since we met for that matter. None of it means anything to me because it's you that I want Temperance."
But he wasn't about to let her interrupt him. She'd said what she'd needed to say and now it was his turn, "No. Now it's your turn to listen."
His sudden shortness made her instantly attentive.
"I made the mistake of thinking that you already knew this. So now I want to you hear me because nothing that any other woman could say or do could ever change the fact that I love you Temperance. And you can be damn sure that I'm not about to let you throw in the towel on us so easily, not now that we've only started to have a chance at being together, and certainly not with a 'Booth you can do better' excuse as your weapon of choice."
Clearly becoming even more disappointed with herself, Brennan gestured sadly, "I don't know what you want me to say."
"I don't want you to say anything. I want you to look at me. I want you to look at me and really hear what I'm saying to you," her attention was fixated on him then as he took the first step into her body.
He only allowed himself one.
And then expelling a frustrated breath, he started determinedly, "Before you ever knew it, hell before I ever knew it, you had all the power in this relationship. From the very first case we ever worked together I was enamored with you, but not for the reasons you probably think. It wasn't because of your body, and it wasn't because I thought you were the most beautiful woman I'd ever seen. It wasn't even because I knew you could probably kick my ass with your pinky finger. I was enamored with your mind. You're the strongest; most honest, even when it's awkward, tenacious woman I've ever known…but what pisses me off is that you're always dismissing how you feel for whatever answer your logical mind has come up with next."
"So you've got problems," he continued, "you think you're the only one? You think I ever thought this was going to be easy? Guess what, relationships are messy...but they're supposed to be! And because we work together, I've risked our professional relationship to have this with you. But I'm here because it didn't matter how hard I tried not to, I fell in love with you anyway. And I'll be damned if it's not for all the reasons you keep trying to convince yourself this won't work. This isn't just about what you feel anymore, Bones."
Steadily meeting his eyes, Brennan watched as the fire suddenly drained from his and he sighed deeply in his own recognition, "I'm here because I don't even want to try to imagine my life without you," the air between them felt heavier somehow, "…I'm not even sure if I could anymore."
Caught utterly speechless, Brennan was hit with the power of those words full-force. And for the first time in her life, she suddenly felt stupid. Why was she still pretending like she didn't feel the same way?
"Now do you understand?" he prodded meaningfully.
Slowly breaking her silence she internally sensed a realization dawning, "I think so."
Nodding his acceptance of that fact Booth told her honestly, "You know Bones…I've never had to work this hard at a relationship before. But maybe that's the point. That nothing worth having is worth keeping without a fight."
"I don't want to fight," she told him nearly breathless.
"No?" he asked as he watched her finally step into him and close the remaining distance between their bodies; when finally she was standing mere inches away, he couldn't stop the words from spilling out a little too apprehensively, "What do you want?"
Looking up at him she started, "I want to admit that even though I don't acknowledge it… I am afraid. I want to be able to believe again that good things are possible. And I do want to be with you Booth…even though I know it won't be easy, because I recognize that it's got to start somewhere," her voice had started to crack, and even though she hated that it made her appear weak, deep down she knew that this was the most honest she'd ever been with a man.
"I want…," she paused when she felt her body beginning to quiver in her excitement, "I want to finally be able to tell you that I love you Booth."
Instantaneously his breath, and then his heart, stilled in their rhythms as she whispered the words he was almost sure were a figment of his imagination, "…because I do…"
He was certain that he hadn't heard her right.
"…You do what?" and somehow though he could almost hear his pulse humming with anticipation, he oddly recognized that his tone was an octave shy of begging.
How had that happened?
And the smile that tugged at Brennan's lips in that instant was so brilliant that it damn near stopped his breathing all over again.
"Love you…" she spoke slightly stronger this time.
"...You do?" Even after hearing the words repeated twice he almost couldn't believe that she'd said them. Brennan nodded her answer silently, clearly not trusting her own ability to speak any more than he did.
And remarkably it dawned on him, that for all his weeks of waiting and wondering what would happen once she finally was able to tell him how she felt, he was at a complete loss for what to do.
So he did the first thing he could think of…the only thing that came naturally…he reached out and grabbed hold of her waist long enough to pull her against the solidness of his body. Another mindless second elapsed before he'd entrapped her in his arms and mercilessly descended upon her waiting lips. He drank her in, enveloped himself around her entirely and filled every last one of his senses with her intoxication.
Their excitement was so frenzied that neither one of them seemed to notice when the exhilaration of their passion upset their balance and landed them roughly on the mattress behind her. Relishing their new position, their synchronized moan filled the air when he pressed the weight of his body into hers. And neither one was willing to relinquish the other's lips for even so long as it took her to pull his shirt over his head. Finally rid of the annoying garment, Brennan gripped at the muscles of his back, urging him closer...closer...
She ached for him. And for the life of her she didn't know how or why she'd denied herself of this for so long.
"Closer..." she spoke almost inaudibly when his fingers teased at the deep collar-line of her shirt. Sensing her urgency and sharing it he quickly decided to forgo the busy work of any buttons and eagerly ripped at the fabric in one sure effort until it opened beneath him.
His exuberance was intoxicating and it elicited an unbidden eruption of laughter between them. But their mutual euphoria was bested when she positioned herself beneath him, her body and all of her nerve endings screaming to feel more of him when his arousal pressed between them. Her skin, usually milky-white, was flushed rosy in her feverish excitement and its appearance only further fueled his own.
Until suddenly the gravity of what was about to commence between them dawned and temporarily sobered Booth.
"Wait Temperance, are we about to do what I think we're about to do?"
Meeting his ephemeral calm with her heated gaze she answered, "God I hope so..."
The deep throaty chuckle that bubbled forth hummed in his chest and reverberated against hers.
"Then maybe," he dipped down for another taste of her lips before swallowing in heady anticipation, "maybe tomorrow night we can try that date-thing again."
"Yeah...?" she breathed.
"I'd like that," she responded tearfully, though it was unclear which of her raging emotions was the cause at this particular juncture.
"Good," he gently wiped at the tears staining her cheek, "because after tonight you're really gonna be stuck with me."
Smiling brilliantly she couldn't help her hopeful whisper, "You promise?"
The deep growing intensity between them shimmered in his eyes and bore down into hers, "You better believe it. I love you Temperance."
"No...," she shook her head in amusement.
Her voice was firm, though her eyes were glimmering with excitement when she corrected him, "Bones."
He couldn't contain the grin that exploded over his lips in response.
Yep! His Bones...for better or for worse.
He really liked the sound of that.
"I love you, Bones," he whispered meaningfully; his breath tickling her skin.
Clearly satisfied, at least for the moment, she gazed up at him, eager to say the words back, "I love you too Booth."
He wasn't sure he'd ever get used to hearing her say it...and somewhere a part of him hoped every time she did it felt like the first time. Dropping the final few inches between them, Booth buried his body into her warmth, and returned to kiss her swollen lips. Firmly wrapping herself around him, Brennan pulled him even closer, if it was even possible, and succumbed to the wonderful sensations he was eliciting inside of her. Before much longer the remaining vestiges of their clothing would be hastily removed and strewn forgotten some place beside them.
And not much sooner after that, somewhere even deeper than the crevices of her being that she felt brimming with Booth, Brennan would feel the start of something else stirring. A contentment so deep, so bottomless, that she would marvel at its implications. Surely, tonight marked the end of fear and brought the remarkable promise of tomorrow's beginning.
Because for the first time in over fifteen years...
...She wasn't afraid.
Well ladies and gentlemen, sadly this marks the end of Hollywood Confidential. My profuse apologies for making you wait so long for it...but truth be told, I think it was a much needed and necessary creative break if I was ever going to end this story the way I wanted to. So I truly hope you'll forgive me...but also that you've enjoyed this series, even if it's just a fraction as much as I've enjoyed writing it. I also hope that you'll leave comments and feedback, as I've not ruled out continuing on with the series...so I'd be grateful for any ideas or suggestions any of you might offer. Once again...THANK YOU! to all of you wonderful people who wrote to me with encouragements along the way. Much Love!