This is it people, the last chapter! I'm so happy I've finally finished this :)
Thanks to all of you darlings who have stuck with me through the entire thing, and for all of your wonderful reviews.
I hope you all like it!
Chapter 22: Sweet Surprises
"No, I'm fine Booth, really." Temperance gave him a smile and sat back.
Her eyes were still red from crying, but she was no longer upset. Booth sat on the side of her bed, still hesitant to accept that she was ok. After all, she had just spent the last ten minutes sobbing into his shoulder, and nowhere in his books did that constitute being 'fine'.
He was distracted from his worries by the sound of her laughter. "What's so funny?" He asked, although he was already smiling just seeing her laugh. Even with red eyes and a tear stained face she was still the most beautiful thing in the world, especially when she smiled.
Her cheeks flushed and she put a hand over her mouth. "Oh Booth I'm sorry!" she touched a hand to his chest and he looked down, trying not to go red himself at her touch.
For a second he didn't know what she was talking about, but then he saw underneath her hand that his shirt was soaked through from her tears. He glanced back up at her and couldn't help laughing at the worried look on her own face.
"Don't worry about it Bones." he reassured her. "Honestly. It's only a shirt."
Her apprehension slowly disappeared and she smiled again. She shook her head at herself and muttered "God, I'm a mess," before promptly burying her face in her hands.
Booth could feel his heart physically aching in his chest, seeing her like this. Reaching out, he took her hands and held them gently, away from her face, so that she looked at him.
"Bones, you're allowed to be a mess, ok? After all that you've been through, a tiny bit of crying is expected. Heck, a lot of crying is expected. The only thing you need to worry about is getting better, so that we can get you out of this damned hospital." He squeezed her hands in his and she shook her head, more at herself than at him.
"What would I do with out you, Booth?" She gave him the tiniest smile and he returned it.
"Well, you would argue a lot less, I'm sure."
She let out a teary laugh and, for the second time that day, leaned forward in her bed and hugged him.
An hour later, a doctor entered the room.
"Miss Brennan, you're awake I see! Well that's good."
Booth noticed that she didn't bother correcting him in regards to her name. He hoped that was just because she was tired. She never missed a chance to correct people, he should know.
"So how are you feeling then?" The doctor asked her, coming to stand beside her bed.
"Hmm, I'm fine actually." She replied. Booth recognised her tone though.
"Bones, you have to tell him the truth, otherwise how are you going to get better?"
She shot him a glare, but sighed and answered the doctor honestly. "I have a mild headache, my left knee still appears to be swollen and is hence very uncomfortable and the torn skin under the bandage is itching. Otherwise I really am fine."
In that moment, Temperance was seriously considering not telling Booth the things she had so desperately wanted to tell him earlier. Right now he was definitely not acting like the best partner she could ever have. Right now he was making her tell the doctor things that would surely keep her in the hospital for even longer.
She looked back at him, however, and found that she simply couldn't hold a grudge against him. Not when he sat there looking at her with such concern on his face. Obviously her inventory of her aches and pains had troubled him. Damn it, why did he have to be so damned wonderful. He really was the best partner, and not just that, he was going above and beyond the duties of a partner, he always had…
"Well I can get a nurse in to…"
…she didn't hear a word the doctor was saying. Something had just clicked in her mind. It was completely unexpected, and yet suddenly she knew just what she had wanted to say. She knew what that final thing was, the thing she had wanted to tell Booth when she had thought she was going to die, the thing that had kept slipping her mind, that she couldn't quite grasp.
She also knew why she hadn't been able to comprehend it. The mere thought of it made her instantly dizzy. Surely not? And yet she knew it was true.
She was in love with him. One of the few things that she had wanted to tell him before she was murdered was that…she loved him. She could barely believe it. But somewhere, in the very very back of her mind, she had known it for a while.
She remembered the morning Booth had come to take her to work, and had found her still asleep. She remembered his exact words when he explained why he had let her continue sleeping: "you always work so damn hard, I figured you deserved a little extra sleep for once. I didn't mind waiting." He didn't mind waiting. She had been amazed at those words, amazed at him. She had always been amazed by him.
She kept her eyes fixed on the sheet covering her and ignored the doctor completely, feeling her face flush as she remembered that Booth was sitting mere inches away from her.
She was in love with Booth…god, what was she going to do?
Bones was going home today. Booth walked into the hospital, heading straight for her room. Bones was going home today, and he still hadn't told her. To be honest, he just hadn't found the right moment.
She had been acting strangely all week. Nothing really obvious, but occasionally she would try to avoid looking at him, or would withdraw suddenly into herself. He had asked her a few times if something was wrong, but she always said it was nothing.
He didn't know what was going on with her, but he was sure it was something to do with her kidnapping and everything else she'd been through. He just didn't feel right telling her something as big as this when she was so clearly occupied by other things. It just wasn't the right time to tell her he was madly in love with her. If there was ever a right time.
He walked into her room and a grin spread across his face. "All ready I see."
And indeed she was; sitting on the side of the bed in her own clothes, a bag of stuff that Angela had brought her during the week sitting next to her. She got down from the bed, putting most of her weight on her right leg, and turned to pick up her bag.
"No I'll get it." Booth said quickly and stepped forward to take the bag for her.
"Oh, um thanks." That was another thing he had noticed, she seemed a lot more averse to arguing with him lately.
"So are you ready to go home?"
This got her smiling and she nodded enthusiastically. "Definitely." She started forward, walking tentatively on her left leg.
"Do you need help?" Booth asked.
"No, no I have to get used to walking on it. It's not that bad anyway, the fractures have basically healed. I told the nurse who tried to make me use a wheelchair exactly the same."
"Of course you did." She grinned at him from the doorway and waved her hand.
"Come on, let's go. Please."
He swung her bag over his shoulder and followed her out the door, matching his pace to hers once he caught up.
They were mostly quiet during the car ride to her apartment.
She still didn't know what to do about her particular revelation. Mostly she had managed to put it aside when Booth was around, trying to act normally around him, as though she hadn't just realised that she was madly in love with him. But occasionally he would say something, or a thought would pop into her head and she would have to look away from him, certain that he would see everything in her face if she looked at him.
For a while she had contemplated telling him, but she didn't think she could bear the rejection. She had decided that he couldn't possibly feel the same way. There was just no way, and realising this she tried to ignore her feelings.
She soon came to understand that that was impossible though, so instead she would just have to accept it. She could do that. She was in love with Seeley Booth; he was definitely not in love with her. No problem.
The car stopped outside her apartment building and she stared up at it. She suddenly realised that the last time she had been here was the morning Booth had picked her up. That morning…it felt like months ago.
Her door opened beside her and she got out, watching Booth shut it and lock the car.
"You okay Bones?"
"Yeah sure, let's go." Her leg was starting to ache with the unusual exertion and she was glad when they reached the elevator.
She had to get her keys from her bag that Booth was carrying when they reached the door, before unlocking it.
Temperance suddenly felt exhausted as she pushed the door open, and she was thinking of nothing but her own comfortable bed as she made her way forward. Unfortunately, this meant that she temporarily forgot that her left leg was not quite on a par with the rest of her body, and when she put all of her weight on it with her next step, it promptly buckled beneath her.
Booth, however, had noted her behaviour and was prepared for something like this. Seeing her collapse he immediately dropped her bag and caught hold of her around the waist, stopping her from hitting the floor.
Slowly he eased her back up. She clutched his shoulder to hold herself steady. Unsure if she would stay up on her own, Booth kept holding her by the waist.
They both paused…then both let out the breath they didn't know they had been holding.
"Um thanks." Temperance said quietly and looked up at him.
Suddenly it hit them just how close they were standing to one another. She could smell his cologne and feel her skin tingling where his hands were on her waist.
He could see every speck of colour in her eyes, and felt her breath on his face, as they both inched unwittingly closer.
Every thought in her head disappeared…and then she felt his lips touch hers.
He was immediately lost in the moment. He pulled her closer to him and deepened the kiss as her arms came up around his neck. Eternity and a second passed them by as they stood there, completely absorbed in the feel of one another…
Then the next second came and Booth regained some of his thoughts. The most prominent of these thoughts was that he hadn't told her yet. They were doing…this…and he still hadn't told her. Surely this wasn't right?
Using every ounce of will power he had, he forced himself to step back from her, effectively breaking all contact bar his hands on her shoulders, holding her at arms length.
"Wait." He gasped. "This is wrong. I have to tell you…"
Within moments he saw her expression change from confusion to shock to anguish and she stepped back, breaking their last contact.
He stopped, just as confused, until he heard his own words echo inside his head. He realised how it must have sounded, 'this is wrong'.
"Bones. Temperance no…" She was backing away from him now, looking like she was fighting with herself to keep her expression blank.
"Temperance I didn't mean it like that…"
"Booth, I'm really tired, so I think I'll just go to bed. You can let yourself out." Her voice was strangely calm. He could see her withdrawing from him, physically and emotionally, a jarring contrast to mere seconds before.
"Wait Bones, will you just listen? That came out wrong, please…" He started towards her just as she reached the door to her bedroom.
She wasn't listening to a word he was saying. "Honestly Booth I'm really tired. Thanks for driving me home." Before he could reach her or say anything more she had slipped around her bedroom door and closed it behind her.
Oh god, Temperance thought as she shut the door. What had she done? Leaning her back against the door she slowly slid down until she hit the floor. She had known! She had known he couldn't feel that way about her! What had happened to just accepting it and moving on?
But she knew what had happened. For that split-second, that tiny miniscule part of time, she had let herself hope that he did feel the same. She had let herself believe that he wanted to kiss her just as much as she did him.
It was all her fault. She had screwed everything up again. Stupid, stupid, stupid…
She heard Booth bang his hand on her door and felt it reverberate through her body. And he was talking to her too, if only he would just leave…
Booth banged on her door, hoping that she would open it so he could explain everything to her. If he could only explain.
"Please Temperance will you just listen? I didn't mean that the way it sounded. It was…I just meant that the way we were doing it was wrong, I didn't have any problem with…" Dammit he just couldn't seem to find the right words to explain it.
"If you would just open the door Bones." He paused, waiting for a reply, a sound, but everything was silent on the other side of the door.
"I really don't want to tell you like this, you know." Still nothing. He sighed, leaning his forehead against the cool wood of the door.
"Alright…If I have to…well here goes. Temperance…I'm in love with you. Don't you see? Just then, I wanted nothing more than to keep kissing you…nothing more in the whole world, but it wasn't the right time. It was all out of order. I've been trying to tell you all week, but I just couldn't find the right time with you being in hospital and…and then when it happened just then, I felt like I was cheating you. You deserve to know the truth, I want you to know. Do you see?"
He listened and still he heard nothing. He felt completely drained, like he had just bared his soul to the world and there was nothing left inside of him. Just when he thought he couldn't bear her silence any longer, he felt the door move in front of him.
He stood up straight and held his breath. She was standing there, clutching the door as if for protection…but still there, looking at him with – he had no idea what that expression was. Confusion? Denial? Ambivalence?
For a long time she said nothing, until he thought she may have forgotten he was even there.
"Bones?" He asked hesitantly.
Her eyes had fixed on the floor between them and he was about to say something else when she finally spoke.
"You know, I thought I was going to die." She said to the carpet, her tone entirely neutral.
"I was certain of it. At least I was near the end. And I had given up on hoping that anyone would come, that you would come. I wasn't afraid. I had given up on that too, after I failed to escape on my own."
Booth stood perfectly still, straining to hear every word she said. She had told him barely anything about what had happened, and he hadn't pressed her to either, hoping she would talk in her own time. This was definitely not the time he had been expecting. Maybe she hadn't heard him…
"I think that might have helped too. I hit my head trying to get away, and after that I was too dazed to be afraid, even to care. I knew I was going to die and I didn't care." She paused, still staring at the floor, and he could feel the full weight of her words, heavy in his chest.
"So I started thinking. About lots of things. About the things I never got to do…and never got to say. There were a lot of things that I wished I could have said to everyone in that moment."
"As I watched him talk to me and cry over me and hold the knife I would die by, all I could think was, I wish I could tell Booth not to blame himself for all of this, because I know he will; and not to be sad about it; and I wish I could tell him that he was the best partner in the whole world; and that he was the only one who could always make me laugh..."
Booth smiled slightly when she said this and, although he felt thrilled by her words, all of that was suppressed by his other feelings; worry about how removed she appeared; sadness at the situation she was describing to him; and the nagging anxiety over what he had just admitted to her through her bedroom door and her reaction to it; or lack thereof.
"All of these thoughts kept going round and round in my head. The only things that made me upset about dying. And there was another one as well. Something else that I had to tell you. But my mind was not very clear – I couldn't hear half of what he was saying and I think I was gradually losing consciousness – and I just couldn't grasp what that last thing was."
"Then you came and I forgot about it until later on in the hospital. But even then, I couldn't quite remember what it was, it was there, it just wouldn't form into a coherent thought."
She paused again for a long time until Booth just had to ask.
"Did…did you remember?" he said quietly, unsure of what he expected.
She raised her head and looked straight at him, and he was surprised by the confusion he saw in her eyes, confusion and...warmth. He felt his heart lift, although he couldn't have said why.
"I did." She told him. She stood in front of him, still holding on to the door next to her with both hands, and stared straight into his eyes, looking for something.
Temperance felt that last bit of hesitancy, stopping the words from passing her lips. She looked into his eyes, searching, trying to find the answer she wanted. And he stared straight back, full of sincerity. Yes, he had said those words and yes, he meant it, was what he was telling her.
"Before I died, I wanted to tell you that I loved you." Her voice was barely above a whisper, but he heard every word.
Now it was his turn to pause. His brain was working very slowly, processing, comprehending the meaning of the words.
"Booth?" she asked in an uncertain voice.
Slowly, a smile spread across his face. He took a step closer to her.
"Temperance." He said back, and then he laughed. He reached out and put one hand to her cheek. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
Like what? She was about to say, but then his lips crashed down on hers, rendering her immediately speechless.
Booth felt her lips curl up in a smile as he kissed her. He drew back half an inch and looked at her smiling up at him. "Now that's better."
She tried to glare at him, but it was ruined by the smile that was still on her lips. They stood there, grinning like idiots at one another, until Temperance suddenly yawned. She'd forgotten that she was dead tired.
She tried to cover her yawn with a hand, but of course Booth saw, standing inches away from her.
"I think you might need some sleep, before you decide to collapse again." He said to her, half teasing.
"I did not collapse." She retorted.
"Of course not." He said. He stopped her from replying by leaning in and giving her another quick kiss on the lips. "But you can still go and sleep."
She didn't argue, seeing as sleep was exactly what she needed, but didn't go immediately either. "What will you do?" she asked him.
"I'll leave you to it." He said, tucking a loose strand of her hair affectionately behind her ear. She fingered the edge of his jacket, not sure that she wanted him to leave.
"And then, if you want, I'll be back tomorrow. We can talk then, about whatever you need to talk about. What do you think?"
"Tomorrow sounds good, Booth." She knew they had a lot to talk about, including everything that had just happened.
"Really? Ok, good." He took a deep breath and looked at her closely. "You'll be ok then?"
She took the hand that was still caressing her cheek in her own. "I'll be fine Booth. I promise."
"You'll call me if you're not, won't you?"
"I'll be fine."
"…but if I'm not I'll call you." She reassured him, although not without rolling her eyes.
He smiled at her reaction. He watched her for several moments, as if he was making sure that she truly was ok. Eventually he nodded and pulled his hand gently away from hers. "Good." He said, stepping back.
She followed him to the door of her apartment, where Booth stopped. He was hesitant to leave her alone, but he knew he should. He was sure she would need some space, to sleep, and to think about everything. He needed to think too. In particular about what he would say to her tomorrow, and how much he would say.
"Are you alright with that?" He asked, indicating her bag he had dropped by the door not so long ago.
She gave him another exasperated look. "I'll manage, Booth." He was happy to see that she was starting to act more like her usual self.
"Lock the door behind me when I leave, ok?"
She put her hands on her hips. "Ok, Booth."
He couldn't help laughing at her expression. "What?" She asked.
He shook his head. "Nothing. I'll see you tomorrow then?"
She frowned for a moment, and then let it go. "Tomorrow." She repeated.
For a while he stood there looking at her, and she looked back at him. He didn't know what she was thinking, but personally, he was wondering if it would be too much to kiss her once more before he left.
He decided not to, not wanting to push too much with this new thing between them. As soon as he had made the decision though, she surprised him by stepping forward and kissing him herself. He kissed her back, long and sweet.
They took half a step back from one another. "Bye." He said to her.
As he opened the door, he suddenly remembered what Angela had told him so many days before. "Sometimes, people can do the one thing that we don't expect of them. If I've ever met someone who could surprise me when I least expected it, it is Temperance Brennan." God was she right!
He looked back once at his Bones, who was smiling, still standing where he'd left her, and then he closed the door, waiting only long enough to hear the lock click behind him.
Temperance made her way back to her bedroom, pausing only to change her clothes before she crawled into her bed. She knew she had a lot to think about, but for once she ignored her brain entirely. She could think about it all later. Tomorrow was another day.
She let herself sink into the warmth of her bed, her lips still tingling with the memory of Booth's kiss, until she fell fast asleep, feeling completely safe for the first time in a long while.
Please let me know what you thought. Of the chapter and the story overall. I really hope you enjoyed it xoxoxoxox