"Bones, let me explain," Booth pleaded as he tried to catch up with his partner. She kept walking, refusing to respond or even acknowledge his presence. "Please? If you just listen to me, I'll do anything you want. I'll buy you dinner every day for a week. I'll clean your apartment. I'll wash your car. I'll get you the gun you've always wanted.."

When she finally answered her voice was full of venom. "I bought my own gun, remember? I don't need you to get one for me, and I certainly don't need you deciding who I can or can't date."

Booth caught up with her and put his hand on her shoulder. "I'm sorry, okay? Really sorry. I shouldn't have gone to Sully's apartment and I shouldn't have kicked his ass. It felt great at the time, I'm not going to lie to you, but I shouldn't have done it. And I shouldn't have accepted his basketball challenge."

She turned around to face him for the first time. "But you did. You've never liked any man I showed an interest in. I know you only want to protect me, but I am an adult and I can make my own choices."

"I know, Bones, but...," He paused, wondering how much he should say.

"But what?" She prompted.

Just tell her, Booth, his mind advised. Just say it. "You're my partner, and I do want to protect you. I would kill anyone who hurt you without hesitation, but it's more than that. I've never liked any of the guys you dated because...well, because they're not me. I love you, Temperance Brennan, and I want to be with you for the rest of my life. I need to be with you. Please, Temperance. Please let me love you."

Tears welled up in her eyes. "No. I can't." She started to walk away but Booth grabbed her arm.

"Why not?" He asked. "No one else on this earth can love you as much as I can."

"I know that. But people who love me...they..." She turned away so he wouldn't see her crying.

Booth put his hand under her chin, gently turning her face to his. "They leave you," he finished. "Your parents and your brother left you, and you were shuffled from one foster home to another. You decided then that you would never open your heart again to anyone, and you haven't. You've played it safe."

"Can you blame me?" She asked as more tears washed her cheeks.

Booth wished that he had a tissue to offer her. "No, of course not. I would have done the same thing in your position. But while your walls have kept you safe, they've prevented you from knowing the happiness that comes from truly sharing your life with another person. Bones, if you let me, I'll spend the rest of my days trying to make you happy. "

She smiled through her tears, the smile that he loved so much. "You already make me happy, Booth, every day that I'm with you."

Now it was his turn to smile. "Really?"

"Yes, really," she said laughing. "I can't imagine my life without you."

For a few moments they stared at each other, their faces mere inches away. "Bones, if I kissed you right now, would you kick me in the groin?"

She laughed again. "It depends on how well you kiss."

Booth decided to live dangerously. He put his arms around his partner and kissed her gently. "How did I do?" He asked.

"Not bad," came her reply.

"Not bad?!" He kissed her again, this time holding nothing back. "Was that better?"

"A little bit," she said breathlessly. "I think you still need more practice."

"Might I make an appointment with the good Doctor Brennan to get that practice?" Booth asked.

Brennan pretended to consider this for a minute. "I think I have an opening in my schedule...right about now." She pulled Booth to her and kissed him as fiercely as if she were giving him mouth to mouth resuscitation.

"Does this mean that you'll give me a chance?" Booth asked when he could breathe again.

"Yes," she answered, her face beaming. "That's exactly what it means. So don't screw it up."

"I won't," he promised. He held Brennan in his arms, looking forward to a lifetime of practice.

Thanks for reading! As always, all comments are greatly appreciated.