Author's note: Finally, the 4th Postcard:) It's also the last part of the Postcard Series. I'm sad to post this final part but all good things must come to an end. Just so you know, I immensely enjoyed writing these one-shots! I hope you felt the same about reading them. :) Oh right, we've taken another leap in time here…
Thanks Bandbi for the beta-job:) lol I've got a whole team of betas…
Rating: This is a very mild T... but a T nonetheless!
Disclaimer: I own nothing except their postcard and this storyline.
A Postcard From Them °-
"I can't believe I agreed to this," Brennan mumbled, following Booth's broad frame as he searched for their seats. She flopped down next to him in a tight seat, the kind you only find on airplanes. "This could be considered kidnapping, you know."
"Kidnapping would involve taking a person against his or her will." He gave her a sideway glance. "You're not being taken against your will."
"Says me," Booth quickly retorted, which earned him a glare from the anthropologist. "You're here because you want to be here, Bones."
Temperance resolved to mumble her earlier statement again. "I can't believe I agreed to this. There should be a law against FBI-agents who drag their partners along with them to Italy." At hearing Booth chuckle softly, she decisively crossed her arms. "I really can't believe you talked me into taking another joint vacation."
He shrugged. "It was easier than I thought to be honest."
"Excuse me?" Brennan replied, lifting one eyebrow.
"You have to admit, Bones, that it took you less than five minutes to decide that you wanted to come along with me," he explained as he got comfortable in his seat. "And the reason is very simple." From the corner of his eye he saw her frown. He grinned and waggled his eyebrows at her. "You agreed to come along because you think I'm irresistible."
Her glare intensified. "We're being very modest again, aren't we Booth? I don't think you're irresistible."
The opposite was true, though; but she couldn't tell him that. Not this shortly after her break-up with Sully.
Her chest tightened painfully at the memory of Sully sailing away. It had stung like a sharp needle to send him away like that but she hadn't had a choice. She hadn't exactly been jumping up and down with excitement at the thought of leaving everything she knew behind. It had taken her several years to find solid ground, a solid base of close friends on whom she could rely, and then Sully had come along, slowly luring her away from everything she held dear. It had been refreshing but deep down she had known they weren't meant to last. Someone who dragged her away from everything she loved couldn't be 'the one' for her.
"Just admit it, Bones. You can't resist me and my smile," Booth said as he flashed her his infamous charm smile.
This resulted in Brennan scowling even more. "I thought that smile was a sign of respect?"
"Oh it is, Bones. It is." He nodded his head vigorously to emphasize his words. "A sign of respect for the effect I have on you!"
For half a minute she stared at him, before she exploded in a loud "What?!"
Booth sank a barely visible inch lower in his seat. Oh ow, looks like I've gone just a tad too far… He knew he should've kept quiet but he hadn't been able to stop the words from tumbling out of his mouth. He had missed her while she had been dating Sully. He had missed her and their sexually charged bickering. Being deprived of what he immensely enjoyed had resulted in him being careless with what he said to her.
In the mean while Temperance had started a loud rant on why he would think he had an effect on her and why she thought he was completely wrong. Booth gritted his teeth. Sully moving in on his partner had made him realise that if he ever wanted them to become something more, he had to do something now before some other guy came along to sweep Temperance off her feet.
"Bones…" he murmured, trying to break off her loud speech. As always she ignored him. He briefly wondered how it was humanly possible to spit out all those words in less than a minute and without inhaling at least twice. "Bones…" he tried again.
When she turned her head to send him a glare, he seized the opportunity to touch her. His thumb and index finger trapped her chin and forced her to look at him. He leaned forward until their faces were a mere inch apart. Booth stared down in her eyes, watching the glare soften and being replaced by a dangerous glint.
"Listen carefully to me, Bones," he began. "I have an effect on you…" He narrowed his eyes to stop her from protesting.
Temperance was inwardly squirming. His fingers pressing into her chin reminded her of the one time he had nudged her face up in front of the diner. The memory of how he had touched her and how he had looked at her hit her like a ton of bricks. Within seconds she felt her glare fade away, and the desire rising within her. Even though Sully had provided her with enough physical exercise to last a month on, he couldn't be compared to her partner and the effect his sudden actions had on her.
She let out a quiet sigh. He has an effect on me. I hate it when he's right…
"…and you have an effect on me."
She hoped he hadn't heard her breath hitch. Had he just said what she thought he had said? I have an effect on him?
"So Bones, since we're stuck with each other for an entire week, you better get used to that effect." He waited for her to nod her head. When she did, he continued "Because I'm not about to stop smiling at you, alright?"
Temperance nodded again as a small smile tugged at her lips. She usually didn't allow herself to get carried away but since they were on holiday she found it easier to let go of logic; even if it was just partly and not entirely. Barely suppressing a mischievous smile, she thought You can give me that smile as many times as you want Booth, as long as I get to catch a sniff of you every once in a while.
Sweaty Bones. That was all he could think of now as they were driving along the sandy paths in the middle of nowhere. Not exactly 'nowhere' to be honest. They were somewhere in Tuscany, the very very rural part of Tuscany that was. All they had to go on was a map Booth had bought at the airport and a couple of badly placed signs. They had already taken a couple of wrong turns because of those things. Apparently the Italians thought it was all right to inform you where a street led to once you had passed it.
The blistering heat had long invaded the small space of the Fiat Punto they were currently driving in. Even though the car had air-conditioning, Booth refused to turn it on. He preferred to roll down the windows instead and let the cool morning air wash through the car. He also enjoyed watching the wind play with his partner's hair. And of course how the chill made her skin pucker.
There it was again. An image of a sweaty Bones. Only she wasn't sweating because of the heat but because of… Booth groaned. Let's not go there now, alright? She's sitting half a yard away, for crying out loud!
Thanks to the time difference they had arrived early in the morning. Getting off the plane and claiming their bags had gone quite smoothly. They hadn't bickered as much as they used to, though. Booth blamed it on the fact that they were still searching for their old balance, the one they used to have before he slept with Cam and she slept with Sully afterwards. He had been relieved to see her roll her eyes at hearing what car he had rented for them.
"A Fiat Punto? Why didn't you rent an SUV?"
"Those small village roads aren't made for SUV's, Bones. Plus I wanted to get in the holiday spirit, you know? A Fiat Punto is a typical Italian car."
"But it's so small…" Temperance mumbled. "I like driving around in a big car."
"Just be glad I didn't rent one of those scooters on three wheels; now that would've been a small car!"
"If you had dared to do such a thing, I would've taken the next plane back!"
"And miss all the fun? Come on, Bones. I know you're not being serious here. Who would want to miss an entire week with me?"
She had huffed and grumbled but had placed her bags in the trunk of the car anyway.
A smile tugged at his lips when he replayed the conversation in his head. He loved it when they bickered. Their arguments were a playful game of poking and prodding of whatever the other kept hidden under his or her skin. Who knew, one day he could actually poke the right spot that would make her admit whatever she felt for him. Because there definitely was something.
Of course there was the sexual tension playing between them that always drove him up the walls, or under a cold shower actually, but thanks to everything they had gone through together, the lust had evolved into something deeper. He knew he had already lost half his heart to her when they had been at the cabin in Canada on their last vacation but he had never figured out how his partner felt about the subject, about him really. Maybe this trip will do the trick. Maybe she'll just let go of logic for a couple of days. Maybe she'll just let me take care of her. Maybe… Maybe…
Booth sighed. All his "maybes" weren't getting him anywhere.
"It's the next turn on your left," Brennan informed him, checking with the map she was holding.
"Yeah, thanks," he smiled at her. She gave him a small smile in return. Maybe she'll smile more like that in the next few days…
Little did he know that Temperance was already determined to abandon logic as much as she could and would concentrate on living life to the fullest. Which meant she planned on giving lots of smiles and an occasional hug… If the right opportunity came along, of course… And if it doesn't come along, I'll create an opportunity myself!
"She's one pretty lady," the manager whispered to him, nudging him quite hard. Booth gave him a tight nod and an even tighter smile before he returned to his partner to help her with her bags, even though he knew she was going to start another rant about how men always wanted to be gentlemen when it came to carrying luggage but never when it came to cleaning the house.
They had travelled across the Atlantic Ocean and over miles of dusty roads to end up here, in a small vacation park with its very own swimming pool. Well, it wasn't exactly a vacation park; more like a large clearing with a couple of typical Italian houses build here and there.
They entered their cottage and were met by a breeze of cool air. Apparently the cottage had been built in such a way that it blocked out the heat and provided them with a cool atmosphere, which they welcomed with open arms. A couple of endless hours driving over dusty roads, searching for the right way, with the sun beating down merciless on them even though it had been only about 10 o'clock in the morning, was one of those things neither of them was accustomed to. That's why they were happy to drop their bags at the door and reconnoitre the place a bit.
Booth chuckled at seeing their sleeping arrangements. There was only one bedroom in the entire building, a bedroom with two beds fortunately. Or maybe unfortunately…
"Left or right one, Bones?"
The anthropologist moved the arm she had placed over her eyes down to take a glance at her partner poking his head around the bedroom doorframe.
"The right one's killing me."
He raised his eyebrows. "Excuse me?"
Temperance wiggled the toes of her bare right foot. She had taken off her shoes while Booth had moved their bags into the bedroom.
"My right foot. It hurts like hell."
"I was talking about the beds…" Booth replied.
Shaking her head, she got up and walked over to the bedroom, trying to keep the limping to a minimum.
"What happened anyway?"
She shot him a glare. "You dropped my suitcase on my foot, remember?"
"Oh right…" He nodded his head in understanding. "Looks like you need a massage, Bones."
"Don't even think about touching my toes, Booth!" she snapped back. "And I'm taking the bed on the right."
"What? No way, I was going to take that one!"
"In your dreams, Booth. You asked me which one I preferred so you'll have to grant me my request."
He stared at her for a second. "What if I throw in a foot massage?"
"Are you kidding me? I'm not letting you anywhere near my feet!"
"What if I take you out for a nice dinner?"
"You've already done that plenty of times."
"Yeah but…" He casually shrugged. "Not on a regular dinner. More like…" He hesitated to finish his sentence.
"Is there any other kind of dinner then, Booth?" Temperance asked sweetly, smiling at his sudden loss of words. She patted him on the arm while saying, "Alright Booth, I'll let you buy me dinner… But I'm taking the bed on the right!"
Booth let out a deep sigh. "Works for me, I guess." A smile accompanied his words as he thought Dinner instead of a foot massage… Oh well, a compromise is a compromise, right?
A couple of birds high up a tree whistling some cheerful tunes, early bees buzzing from flower to flower, a small lizard rushing over a nearby stone wall and in the rather large pool in the middle of a patch of grass, a lightly tanned FBI-agent swimming a couple of laps.
Thanks to his jetlag, Booth had woken up a couple of hours earlier than he had intended to. His partner had still been snoring the night away so he had decided to go for a swim in the mean time. The exercise would do him good and give him a chance to sort through his thoughts at the same time.
Even though they had arrived not more than a day ago, he already felt the balance between them shift. They had barely cleared the air between them after Brennan's latest adventure in the world of disastrous relationships and already they were walking down a new road. Booth liked where they were taking their partnership but it was a scary leap of faith to take nevertheless.
What if things don't work out? What if all we do is 'satisfy our urges'? He drew in a deep breath and dove in the pool again. He swam as far as the oxygen supply in his lungs allowed him. What would become of our partnership? Maybe giving in to that tension would be the biggest mistake of our life? As he reached the other side of the pool, Booth broke through the water's surface to take a much needed gulp of air. What if we can't make it work? he thought while he wiped the water out of his eyes. Then Booth noticed the pair of feet before him at the edge of the pool. He slowly lifted his eyes up until his gaze met the face of a smiling Temperance. Gulping away the lump in his throat before returning her smile, he thought I'll make it work!
"Having fun, Booth?"
She let her eyes travel over him for a couple of seconds. Oh my…
"Loads," he grinned as he splashed some water in her direction.
"Booth!" She jumped away, shaking the drops of water from her legs.
He grinned at her again as he leaned on the edge of the pool. "You should try it some time, Bones. Nothing like a good work-out in the morning to wake one up." While he was talking, he lifted himself out of the pool and walked towards his travel companion, wearing a dangerous smile.
"Booth…" she said while backing away slowly. "What are you doing?" Temperance swatted his hands away when he reached out for her. "Don't even think about throwing me into the water!"
"Aww, come on Bones! Loosen up a bit, have some fun, go crazy for a change!"
"Booth, no," she replied in serious tone. "Maybe I'll give the swimming a try later this week but for now, I'd like to see you go crazy and change into your clothes so that we can leave for Florence." She put her hands on her hips to answer his pleading look. "You honestly didn't think we came down here to hang around a pool all day? We've got places to go, things to visit, food to taste, wine to drink and landscapes to enjoy!"
"All right, Bones. Was just kidding there. I'll go get changed in a minute."
Satisfied with his answer, Brennan turned around to head back to their cottage. But not before she had thrown one last glance at her partner who had grabbed his towel and was currently rubbing it over his hair. Just what I thought; he looks better without his shirt on. Perhaps going for a swim with him isn't such a bad idea…
Her feet were sore, she had trouble lifting her arms because every time she did the nagging tugging of her sunburned skin made her cringe, and her finger ached from pushing down the button of her camera hundreds of times, but she couldn't imagine a time she had felt more satisfied and happy. Together with Booth, she had explored Florence and all its fabulous tourist spots. They had walked over the Ponte Veccio, had crossed the Piazza della Signoria and had marvelled at the architectural beauty of the Santa Maria del Fiore. They had even walked around in the famous Boboli-gardens, the gardens that used to belong to the Medici-family. And all the time, she had provided Booth with enough facts and legends to bore him to death. But he had smiled politely and had even asked her a couple of questions. He had reacted just how she had predicted he would - patient, understanding and interested in whatever she had to share. They had visited so many spots that Temperance had trouble remembering them all. Good thing I brought my camera with me.
She threw a quick glance at her purse where her camera sat in, safely tucked away. Temperance already knew which picture she would love the most. At one point Booth had been staring at the campanile, the bell tower of Florence, when she had taken out her camera. He had thrown her such an adorable look that she couldn't do anything except try to capture it in a photo.
Booth, who was sat across from her, raised his glass for a toast. She mimicked his movements as she remembered how he had driven her to this little restaurant with a rather intimate atmosphere. So far so good, their "regular dinner" was going great.
"To our partnership," Booth toasted.
"To our partnership," she repeated after him.
Or maybe something more… flashed simultaneously through both their minds. Their glasses briefly touched as they both covered up their thoughts with a smile.
Temperance stared at the swimming pool in front of her. She had been staring at it for almost five minutes now, not able to erase the image of her partner rising up out of the water from her mind.
"You're supposed to swim in a pool, Bones. Not squint at it," Booth joked, his mouth hovering mere inches from her ear.
She playfully nudged his ribs, just hard enough to elicit a small grunt from him. "You're lucky that I felt your presence. Otherwise you would've been down on the ground by now, crying and wheezing in pain."
"You're hurting my ego there, Bones. Are you saying that I wouldn't be able to block your kicks and beat you?"
"That's exactly what I'm saying," she retorted, turning around to face him.
He just shrugged. "Could be… but I bet you couldn't do a damn thing if I did this!"
Before Temperance had time to register his words, Booth had scooped her up in his arms and was heading towards the pool. No matter how hard she wiggled around, he didn't let go of her. Until they were at the edge of the pool that was. Grinning one last time at her, Booth gathered all his strength to throw her as far as he could into the pool. He laughed when he saw the anthropologist disappear into the water with a loud yelp. He quickly jumped in after her, wanting to be there when she resurfaced. He wanted to witness the water cascading down her body, wanted to squint at the drops dripping from her hair and wanted to touch her skin slick with water, even though he was aware he'd probably have to suppress that last urge if he wanted to make it back to D.C. in one piece.
"Booth!" she groaned when she finally resurfaced. Temperance wanted to tell him off but was caught off guard by his intense staring.
She had seen, or rather had felt, him staring before. Ever since the beginning of their partnership, he had regularly turned his focus on her, like he was trying to read her like he read suspects. On numerous occasions she had curtly told him to stop staring at her. Sometimes he quickly averted his gaze, before shyly meeting her eyes again the next minute. Other times he boldly stared her straight in the eye, challenging her to break the eye contact first. And then there were moments that she felt him eye her up and down but preferred not to interrupt his staring because she rather liked the intensity of those stares.
Booth possessed so many stares, from shy and brief glances to bold and challenging glares, but never had she seen this type of gaze before. He was openly gawking at her, a storm of emotions raging in the depths of his eyes, his gaze almost palpable. She could feel his eyes trace a burning trail from her neck down her upper body until they hit the water's surface before they trailed right back up.
Temperance tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Last night something had changed. The balance had been shifted. Maybe it was the two previous eventful days that were clouding her sense of reason and logic. Maybe it was the way he had looked at her over the brim of his wine glass last night. Maybe it was the sun setting slowly behind them. Or maybe it was all of those things together that were now pushing her to act reckless for a change and do something she had wanted to do ever since she had realised going away on avacation without him was anything but fun.
"Why are you staring?" she asked softly.
Wading slowly towards her, he sighed and said "I…" He shook his head as he came to a stop in front of her, sending small waves to lap at her stomach. "I just like it, I guess. I like looking at you," Booth answered truthfully before reaching up to tuck another strand of hair behind her ear.
"You like being a voyeur?"
"Bones…" he grunted. "I don't go around peeking through peepholes or through openings of closed curtains. I'm not a Peeping Tom!"
Now it was Brennan's turn to stare at him. Her mind had trouble registering his words since it was running in overdrive because of his touch. Just like his eyes had done so a couple of moments ago, his fingers trailed a burning path from her ear down her jaw bone and back to the sensitive spot between her ear and cheek. Almost as if it was natural, his fingers curled around the back of her neck.
"No, you're a Peeping Seeley," Temperance replied, surprised to feel her lips curve into a smile. With her mind being busy with taking in all the sensations he was evoking, she was having a hard time finding her voice and continuing like nothing was wrong.
Chuckling softly he moved his other hand up to cup her neck.
"Bones… Would you break my arm if I kissed you right now?"
"I'd break your arm if you didn't."
And then it happened. The moment they had both looked forward to and had dreaded at the same time. They hesitated just a couple of seconds, long enough for their breaths to mingle, both fully aware of the change that was about to take place. If they went through with this, there would be no going back. Another couple of seconds passed, giving them the time to search for an answer in each other's eyes. They found their answer when their lips finally touched, making their eyes flutter shut and sending short shockwaves of pleasure coursing through their veins.
The kiss was sweet with a tad of innocence to it. It was the kind of kiss you give someone when you're testing the waters. But it was too short to Temperance's liking. Before she even had time to wrap her arm around his neck, Booth pulled back to examine her face. Whatever he thought he was going to see there, he certainly didn't expect the glint darting around in her eyes and the half crooked smile playing around her lips.
"You call that a kiss?" she teased.
Temperance shook her head. "That's not a kiss. That's a peck."
"Hey!" Booth protested. "What gives you the right to insult the way I kiss?"
"I'm not insulting you, Booth. I'm just saying that I believe you can do better."
He felt a smile tug at his lips. It grew to a broad grin when it dawned on him what she implying here. Not wasting another minute he buried his hands in her hair and pulled her closer to crush her lips in a fierce kiss dripping with desire. This time he had to pull back because his lungs were screaming for air.
"Better?" he asked, grinning from ear to ear.
"Now that is a kiss," Temperance murmured before pulling his head down for a repetition of their latest actions.
"This isn't going to be easy."
He handed her a full glass of Italian wine before leaning back on his elbows. They both sipped their drinks, enjoying the way the setting sun painted their surroundings with her last rays of light. Nothing more had happened last night after the intense kisses they had shared in the pool. In the morning they had woken up, both feeling awkward with their new situation. That feeling of awkwardness hadn't left them all day. Booth had once carefully laced his fingers through hers, only to rapidly pull them back again a minute later, like her skin had burned his fingers. Temperance on the other hand had been struggling all day with choosing whether to order him to kiss her again or be bold and just drag him off to their bedroom.
What were they actually? What did a couple of kisses do to a relationship? What did it do to their relationship? They hadn't slept together yet so technically they weren't lovers. But they had kissed each other so they were more than friends. What are we then? Temperance thought. Partners? I suppose so… In the broad sense of the word.
She picked up one of the crackers Booth had placed on the blanket they were sitting on. Well, technically Booth was lying on it as he gazed at the sunset.
Four days they had been here. In just 96 hours their relationship had taken a sharp turn, down an unfamiliar road for the both of them. Temperance knew that this wasn't going to be something casual like all her other relationships while Booth was aware that this wasn't going to be the forever-'till-death-do-us-part-marriage kind of relationship he had always pursued. But when he glanced over at his partner, the words he had thought two days ago came back to him. I will… No, we will make it work.
"This isn't going to be easy," Temperance said again. "It's one thing to start a relationship when you're on vacation, but it's an entire different story to maintain that same relationship in regular circumstances, meaning our work environment."
"We'll make it work," Booth confidently retorted.
Temperance chewed her bottom lip for a second. "Booth, maybe we should… You know, stay here a bit longer? Until we've figured everything out?"
"Way ahead of you," he smiled, handing her a postcard with a picture of a typical Tuscan landscape on the front.
She joined him in the smiling when she read the message on the back of the card. Then she brought her face close to his after she had tucked the card away in their picnic basket.
"Brilliant idea, Booth. Now come here so that I can kiss you properly. We've been dancing around each other all day."
Booth chuckled just before she landed her mouth on his. A toe-curling kiss later, he asked her "Do you think Angela will fly down here when she gets that card?"
"With Angela you never know."
Three days later Dr. Jack Hodgins saw a blur pass his workstation.
The artist, who had been running towards the exit doors, skid to a stop and turned around to face the entomologist.
"What's gotten into you?" he curiously asked.
Angela sighed deeply before rushing up the platform to shove a postcard in his direction. Hodgins hesitantly took the card from her hands. On the front he saw a beautiful picture of a sun setting behind a couple of hills. The message on the back however, was something entirely different.
"We're taking another week off," he read out loud. "Signed, Booth and Bones." A large grin spread over his face. "Did they send you this card, Angela?"
The artist nodded vigorously. "Yeah, they did." She sent Hodgins a smile when he handed her the card back. "Love to stay, Jack but I've gotta go." She quickly turned around and rushed off once more towards the exit.
"Where are you going, Angela?" Hodgins yelled.
"To the airport. I've got a plane to Italy to catch!"
It took him no more than ten seconds to abandon whatever he was working on and to run after the artist. "Wait up, I'm coming with you!"
The doors of the lab had just closed when Zach Addy came out of one of the separate examination rooms carrying a microscope. "Hodgins, I've got the microscope you asked for…" he trailed off when he saw his co-worker was no longer at his workstation. "Hodgins?" He paused for a couple of seconds, waiting for an answer that didn't come. "Angela?" Again he was met with silence. "Where is everyone?"