Notes: Ah, the final and longest chapter. I hope you enjoy it! More notes at the end...
She woke two hours later, a heavy weight on her right side. She shifted slightly and Booth's eyes cracked open. "Hey," he said softly.
"Hey," she replied back. He seemed to suddenly realize how close they were and backed off slightly, freeing Brennan's now asleep arm. She wiggled her fingers. "Thanks."
He smiled sleepily and wrapped his arms around her waist.
"You know," she began and Booth could sense some little known fact was about to be revealed. "I read in an article that scientists have discovered that women have an extremely sensitive sense of smell and that male body odor – including sweat – plays a large part in attraction."
"So what are you trying to say?" he grinned.
"You need a shower," she grinned back.
"Oh, really!" He launched at her and began tickling, wondering how he had survived two years without knowing Temperance Brennan was ticklish. She giggled and wriggled beneath him until she was breathless.
He sat back on his haunches. "Say 'uncle'? You've never heard that before? Russ never tickled you or wrestled you or anything like that?'
She looked thoughtful. "I guess not. Mostly he was pretty protective."
Booth shook his head. "Shame. Big brothers are supposed to pick on little sisters."
"You were an only child…"
"With lots of younger cousins," Booth interjected. He scooted of the bed. "I'm going to get in the shower now."
"Okay," Brennan replied, turning over, hugging the pillow to her. "You have the most comfortable bed. I could live here."
Booth shut the door he was rummaging through in surprise and turned to look at her.
Brennan rolled her eyes at his expression. "Not literally. Don't worry, I'm not trying to take away your bachelorhood."
"Who said I wanted to keep my bachelorhood?"
She sat up in the bed. That was not the response she had been expecting. "Are you saying you want to get married?"
"Is that a proposal?"
Brennan flushed so hard and fast Booth thought her head might explode. "No, I…" she stammered. "Are you saying you want to marry me?"
"Not exactly." Booth shook his head. "I never thought I'd be a life-long bachelor. I always expected some day I'd get married, have kids. Now I have Parker, but the marriage thing is still out there." He shrugged and went into the bathroom.
He had removed his shirt and was in the process of pulling down his sweats and boxers when the door flung open. He yanked them back up quickly, narrowly avoiding injury. "Damn it, Bones, ever hear of knocking?"
She narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean, 'not exactly'?"
He considered acting like he didn't understand her question, but he knew it would be fruitless. "Look, I'm a single man. I'm not ruling anyone out."
"What about Angela?"
"Angela's with Jack."
"You said anyone."
"Anyone single, Bones."
"What about Cam?" He shook his head. "Why not?" He shrugged again. "There must be a reason."
"It's just not there for us. I care about Cam. She's a good friend. But I'm not interested in having a relationship with her."
"Again," Brennan added.
"Yes, again," he sighed, rubbing at his temples. "Look, I have a headache and now I'm feeling nauseous. Can we discuss this some other time?"
Her features softened. "Yeah. I forgot you were sick."
"We really get into things when we're sick, don't we?" He offered her a lopsided grin.
"We get into things all of the time," she returned, also grinning.
She turned to leave, but paused, hand on the doorknob. "If I believed in marriage," she began, still facing the door, "would I be one of the women on the list of possibilities? Would you honestly want to marry me?"
"Sully wanted to marry you."
"Don't evade the question," she replied, her tone serious.
"It doesn't matter though, does it? Because you don't believe in marriage." His voice sounded sad and Brennan refused to take her eyes off the door. She couldn't face him right now, not with her guard completely down.
"It matters to me," she said in a voice so soft he hardly heard it.
"No," he responded just as softly. He saw her shoulders slump just an inch before he continued. "You wouldn't be one of the women on my list, Temperance," he paused, thinking now or never. "You'd be the only woman on my list."
Her back straightened again, then she froze.
"Even though you don't believe in marriage," he continued, "there still isn't anyone else on the list. There is no list. Just you."
There was a long moment of silence before she spoke. "If I'd said yes to Sully," she began, voice thick with emotion, "what…" she trailed off, unable to continue.
"I would have been happy for you, because I would have known you were loved, even if it was by someone other than me."
Of the number of times Booth had imagined this conversation taking place, never once did he think it would occur while he was half naked in his bathroom.
"I'm processing," she replied quickly. "You get your shower. I'll… just leave now." And she left the bathroom without another word.
Booth took a long, hot shower to ease both his mind and muscles. He'd practically admitted to Brennan that he loved her and he knew she would have a hard time dealing with that. She didn't love easily. Of all the men she'd dated over the time they'd been working with each other, he suspected the only one she had loved was Michael – and he had hurt her. She may have loved Sully, had she given him the chance, but she hadn't. He, Angela, half the Jeffersonian and FBI staff suspected Brennan had chosen him over Sully. He'd just have to bide his time. She'd share what she was feeling when the time was right.
With that, he turned off the shower and stepped out. He dried himself and pulled on clean track pants and a t-shirt. He saw she wasn't in the bedroom, nor was she in the living room or kitchen. He thought she may have left, but he saw her car still parked in front of his house. He returned to the kitchen, where his gaze caught some movement in the backyard.
He rooted around in a kitchen drawer until he found what he was looking for, slipped the package into his pocket, and went outside.
Brennan was sitting on the swing of Parker's play set, twisting slightly left and right.
Booth flopped down on the grass several feet in front of her, watching the clouds. He stole a glance at her and saw she was now swinging, pumping her legs with determination. Booth returned his gaze skyward and closed his eyes. He heard the chains go slack as she jumped and felt the thump as she landed inches from his head. He sensed her eyes on him, but kept his closed.
"You've fallen in love with me."
He could read nothing in her tone. He exhaled slowly and responded with a calm, "Yep."
She laid down next to him. Eventually her hand found his, and she linked fingers, enjoying the fit.
"So what do we do now?" she asked, turning her head to face him.
"I don't know," he responded, opening his eyes and turning his own face to hers.
He held her gaze for minutes, wanting desperately to kiss her, but needing her to make the first move.
A gentle breeze rustled her hair and her beauty left him breathless. He forced his eyes skyward.
"What do you see, Bones?"
"Where?" she asked, looking up.
He raised their joined hands to gesture at the sky. "In the clouds."
He groaned. "Use your imagination. See that one?" He used his free hand to point to a set. "Kind of looks like a rabbit. See the ears? The fluffy tail?"
She squinted. "I guess. People do this regularly?"
"Yeah. They find it relaxing. Parker loves it."
"But they don't stay," she said, pointing to the rabbit, which in the breeze had turned into something more like bunny road kill.
"That's true." He turned back to look at her, curling onto his side. "But wouldn't you rather have a moment of beauty than none at all?" She, too, brought her gaze down and turned to face him.
"Wouldn't you rather have had fifteen years with your parents than none at all?" He paused as he let this sink in. "Wouldn't you rather let yourself love someone than always wonder 'what if'?"
His words took effect. She leaned forward and brought her lips to his. In seconds, he had deepened the kiss, pulling her onto her stomach, arms wrapped around her waist.
Somewhere between seconds and an eternity, she pulled back, resting her head on his shoulder.
He reached into his pants pocket and pulled out a small box, which he jiggled by her ear.
She turned to look at the source of the rattling and saw a wrapped present. "What's that for?"
"Happy birthday," he said with a grin. "I remembered just before I came out here."
"It's not…" she paused. "Wait. What's the date?"
"Oh. It is my birthday.
"You're hopeless," Booth replied, still grinning. "Open it." He waggled the box again.
The both sat up as she tore into the paper. She opened the box and pulled out a silver charm bracelet. There were two charms affixed: a heart engraved with her initials and a breathtakingly familiar small silver dolphin.
"It's from the same place your dad got your mom's," Booth added quietly as she examined the charm.
He took the bracelet and clasped it on her wrist. "I figured it could kind of become a tradition – giving you a charm for special occasions."
She held the bracelet up to the sun and watched it sparkle. "I love you."
"I'm glad. I was a little worried. I know you like jewelry, but it's hard to… Wait a minute. Did you say you love the bracelet or…" he trailed off.
She kissed him softly. "I love you."
He threw his arms around her, bringing them both back down to the ground. They resumed their positions, side-by-side on the ground, hands clasped.
Brennan pointed to a cloud. "That one looks like a scapula."
Booth leaned over and kissed her temple. "That's my Bones."
"I still don't know what we're supposed to do now," she said.
"Neither do I, but we'll just take it one day at a time."
"And I still don't want to get married."
"I know." He smiled. "I guess we'll just have to live in sin."
A wide smile broke out on her face. "That sounds way more fun than marriage," she said, in a sultry tone he'd never heard before.
Goosebumps formed on his arms. "You know what?" he asked right before flinging her on her back and kissing her passionately.
"What?" Brennan asked when she caught her breath.
"We might not know how to handle this whole being in love thing," he paused, running his hand down her side, coming to rest at the curve of her hips. "But I think we're going to have a lot of fun figuring it out."
She smiled beneath him and he kissed her again.
"I just have one question." Brennan pushed him back.
"What?" he asked, warily.
"Just how sick are you feeling?"
"I'm at about 90 percent."
"Good. Because I would really like to get to know that bed of yours a lot better." She squirmed out from beneath him and raced for the house, Booth just steps behind.
Well, I really do hope you enjoyed the ending. I fiddled with a couple different versions and went with this... A big thanks to Bre for being my beta, and threatening me with everything she could think of to keep me writing. On another note, I have no idea when Bones' birthday is. I just picked an arbitrary date. Please - clicky the feedback! I try to respond individually to everyone who gives me feedback. My apologies if I've missed anyone!!