Seeley sat on Tempe's couch, shaking his foot as it rested on his knee. He was impatient. And not at all looking forward to this evening. When Bones had invited him over for dinner a second time. Well, he'd kind of gotten his hopes up that maybe she wanted him for more than a fashion consultant. It was a logical assumption given how much time they spent together. Work tended to overlap into personal time some days. He wasn't sure there was anyone right now who knew him better.

He raked his fingers through his hair and groaned with a roll of his eyes as the door to, presumably since he'd never actually seen it, her bedroom remained closed.

"Bones. What is it you're doing in there?"

"Just a second, Booth. This is important."

"Important? Since when?"

The door opened then and she emerged wearing a dress that stymied him for the briefest of moments.

"Wow," was all he said, taking her in. "What's going on?"

"What do you mean what's going on?"

"It means just what I asked, Bones. What's going on? You didn't tell me to dress up or anything." He regarded his off duty garb of jeans and a button up shirt, comparing it to the knockout punch effecting dress she wore currently. Had he somehow missed the signals that this was a date?

She laughed then. "You think I'd wear this normally?"

He frowned then. "Then why are you wearing it? Is there something not normal going on?"

"Uh, yeah, Angela and Hodgins are getting married. Remember? You encouraged him to propose."

"Well, yeah, because he obviously wanted to. What was I supposed to do? Let my own happiness at being a bachelor cloud his decision?"

"It's an idea."

"Do you really think that, Bones?"

She spun around, allowing him the full effect of the dress. He let out a low whistle. "Whoever you're wearing that for, they'll be happy you did."

"It's for their wedding, Booth. Do you really think I'd try a dress on for a date with someone else in front of you?"

He shrugged, taking a sip from his glass of wine. "Why not?"

She didn't have to know it would pain him in ways he didn't quite understand if she were to do that. They were friends, though, and if she wanted fashion advice so she wow'd a potential date then so be it.

"Well, I'm not. I just don't know which shoes to choose."

"And you thought of me as your source for help in this. Why?"

"Because, you got me into this! If you hadn't been all encouraging him to do this I wouldn't have a week to find shoes to go with the dress Angela picked out. I would have liked to pick out my own dress, but no she has to ask Cam to be in the wedding, too."

"Yeah, I guess guys have it easier. We just rent a tux or wear a suit."

"Don't rub it in."

"And then there's the hair. Wash and go, maybe a little mousse if we're feeling daring. But the windswept look is in, so why bother."

"Booth."

"Sorry. Is this upsetting you?"

"Yes! It's going to take me hours to get ready. I don't know what's possessing Angela that she needs to do this so fast."

"She loves him, Bones."

"And she won't six months from now? A year from now? Normal people don't get married in a week. Not this type of wedding."

"Angela's a little eccentric. You're just now realizing this?"

"Well, no," she approached him and turned her back to him. "Could you zip me?"

"What?" He was certain he'd heard her wrong until he noticed, sure enough, her back was completely open. "Oh, yeah, sorry," he said, wondering how he'd missed that when she'd turned around. He wasn't really paying attention. A dress was a dress as far as he was concerned. The only time it mattered much to him over the years was when it was something making it too difficult to get it off when the situation called for it.

"So," she said, stepping away from him once he'd worked the zipper up to her upper back. "What do you think of these?" She pulled the hem of the dress up high enough that he caught sight of her shoes but of her legs, too.

"They're very nice. I still don't understand why Angela's not here."

"Because she has a wedding to plan and has left me on my own."

"Oh," he said. Now, that made sense. He was glad now that Bones had called him. "Have you been to many weddings?"

"Have I been to them?" She shrugged, walking to a mirror and taking in her appearance. "Sure, plenty, but I've never been in one before." She turned from side to side, regarding her profile as well.

"Really?"

"I didn't really have many friends to be a bridesmaid for. How about you?"

"Yeah, my share, too, as a guest. I've been in a couple. It's nothing special, you're just there to look nice and support the bride and groom so they don't take a header off a tall building."

She laughed then. "Do you really think that way?"

"And you don't?"

"Why do you think that?"

"You'd be off sailing away with Sully into the sunset if you did."

"Maybe Sully just wasn't the right guy for me."

"Wasn't he?"

She shrugged, walking in the direction of her room. "I'll be right out with a different pair."

"There's more?"

"Yes! I need to make a choice, Booth."

"What about dinner? We can't eat first?"

"No, no dinner until you've helped me make a decision."

This went on for what seemed like forever to Seeley. Wasn't there some sort of unwritten rule that shoe decisions were limited to those involved with someone in a dating capacity? Evidently, that wasn't the case. Or Bones had her own set of rules. Either was a possibility.

The shoe decision making out of the way he was more than ready for dinner. He hadn't come expecting to help her. The last time she'd invited him she had done all of the work and he'd helped clean up. Tonight, she seemed to have a different deal in mind because she gestured him into the kitchen.

"Pour us some more wine and then we'll get to work."

"So, do you ever think about it?" He poured them each a glass of wine as he asked the question. He'd taken her avoiding his question about Sully to mean she didn't want to talk about it. Only thing, he did for some reason. He hadn't thought about marriage for five years. And had never before that fateful day. Man, that had been a horrible five minutes waiting for the test results. The longest moments of his life, knowing one way or another his life would be changed.

He loved Parker. Still held fondness for Rebecca, and was glad that they had gotten past the bitterness they'd seemed to harbor for one another. Sleeping with her not too long ago probably hadn't been the wisest thing he'd done, but old habits were hard to break. And it hadn't seemed to harm anything. She certainly wasn't beating down his door wanting to get back together. And that was good, because they were both past that point in their lives.

"What? Marriage?"

"Yeah. I mean, you were pretty hot and heavy with Sully. He asked you to go away with him. You didn't think beyond getting on that boat?"

"No, not really. It really wasn't about leaving or staying. It was about us being too different. I am the job. I get that it might not be healthy, but that's who I am. Without the Jeffersonian and the victims you bring me there is no me."

"Wow, that sounds pretty pathetic."

"You aren't much better, Booth."

"No, you're right, but it comes with the territory when you join the Bureau. Social lives are frowned upon."

She smiled at that, pulling some things out from the fridge. "Is that right? I've met a few married agents."

"Sure you have, but their families still come second. Agents who put anything ahead of the Bureau. Well, they find themselves working as desk jockeys, doing background checks instead of out in the field."

"Like you, you mean. The type of agent you're describing is who you are. How is that different than what I just described about myself?"

He held up his wineglass in a mock toast. "TouchИ, Dr. Brennan."

"I mean, my priority is to the dead, my victims."

"Our victims."

He waved him off. "Whatever. Our victims."

"You don't think I serve them well? That they aren't as much a priority to me as they are to you?"

"I didn't say that. It's just, they're not just another case to me."

"And they very rarely are to me, Bones. There are a few, I won't deny it." He took another sip of his wine. "And you're intentionally leading me away from the topic at hand."

"What topic?"

"Good deflection, Bones, but you're not dealing with an amateur here."

"I never claimed you were an amateur at anything, Booth."

"So, you didn't think about it with Sully. Anyone else?"

She really started going after the vegetables she was chopping. He must have struck a nerve. "No, Booth, I haven't. A woman can be single and happy with that. This is the twenty-first century not the nineteenth."

"I know that, Bones, but doesn't it ever bother you?"

"What?"

"To come home alone."

"You come home alone."

"Yeah, but your place is so sterile. It reminds me of the Jeffersonian."

"You know I don't have to feed you. You helped me pick out the shoes, I could tell you to leave now."

"It wasn't meant as an insult, just an observation. I've got pictures on my fridge that Parker has drawn."

"I don't have kids, Booth."

"Yeah, what about your parents? Your brother?"

"What about them?"

Booth shrugged, not sure where he was going with this. "So, you're saying that if you found the right guy."

"Not Sully."

"Not Sully. That you'd turn him down? Or would you do what Angela did and make him sweat it out?"

"She didn't. She wasn't playing a game with him. She just wasn't sure. And when he finally told her that he accepted her for who and what she was unconditionally, with or without a wedding ring and vows made before your fictitious God." She shrugged. "That▓s when she realized he was the one. I guess."

"So, you think it'll happen like that? You'll just one day realize he's the one for you?"

She turned to face him, holding the knife pointed toward him. "Why are we even talking about this? Are you trying to tell me you're getting married or something, Booth?"

"Me," he said with a light laugh. "No."

"Okay, marriage topic boy. Why haven't you thought of it? Why didn't you make more of an effort with Parker's mom?"

"Because neither one of us wanted to get married. Not really. And marriage for the sake of a child is doomed. Statistics are already stacked against you, why go into it with one more con on your side."

"So, you would have?"

He shrugged, taking a sip of his wine. She returned to cutting the vegetables at least. "I guess. I was in a different place then, but yeah, if I thought it could have worked. Sure."

"And it wouldn't bother holding someone accountable to you? A woman who is capable of making her own decisions without you."

"Is that what you see marriage as, Bones?"

"Well, sure. It's a pretty archaic tradition. It's not really necessary any longer. You yourself have fulfilled your requirement to add to the population."

"I don't think it's a requirement, Bones. There's no one making anyone have kids. Married or single."

"You're Catholic, though."

"Yeah? So?"

"Doesn't that come with no birth control?"

"That also comes with sex just for procreation."

"Well, you could tell people that the one and only time you and Parker's mom┘"

"Yeah, but I'd be lying, which is also a sin."

"So many rules."

"I don't see it that way. I see it as a road map of how to live my life."

"But one of the commandments you choose to follow is thou shalt not kill. Isn't it?"

"Yes."

She glanced at him over her shoulder, their eyes met. He knew what her point was. She saw she didn't need to say anymore.

"I was serving my country, Bones. I won't say anymore on the subject. As far as birth control. I love Parker. Would I have more? Sure, if the woman I was with - preferably married this time - was onboard with that. If not, so be it. I think God would frown more at me making my wife do something she didn't want to do then knowingly using a birth control device."

"You think so?"

"I believe so, yes."

"I guess that's the part that's sort of frightening."

"You're admitting you're scared, Bones?"

"It's not really scared. It's just I lived my life in the system for so long, being shuffled around. I like having my independence. My things. My space. I like coming home and knowing that the toilet seat will be down, the toothpaste will be capped, the bed will be made, the only clothes on the floor will be mine if I missed my hamper."

"There's nothing wrong with that."

"I just see Angela, and sometimes I wonder if I'm missing out."

"You have plenty of time, Booth."

"But what if the next guy, like Sully, won't give me the time I need?"

He set his wineglass on the counter and stepped behind her, placing his hands on her shoulders. "Then they're not the right guy, Bones. That's what I'm trying to tell you. The right guy will accept you for who you are."

"And what if I think they do, but they change."

"That could happen. You don't see people the way I do. You get to that point, Bones, let me know, I'll check them out for you."

"You would, too, wouldn't you?"

"If it meant you being happy? Not being alone anymore? Yeah, I'd do it. You deserve it. Everyone does. Anytime you need the help, just let me know."

"I will, thanks. Can you get the pan from the oven, it should be warmed enough now."

"Sure," he said, grazing the nape of her neck with the pad of his thumb before pulling his hands away.

"Booth," she said after a few moments pause in the conversation.

"Yes, Bones?"

"Thanks for helping me pick out my shoes."

"I'm just not sure what that says about me and our friendship that I'm the one you look to for shoe advice."

"Well, you're always well put together, so you know what goes together and what doesn't. This wedding is important to Angela, so I wanted to be sure I didn't choose something that clashed or looked bad."

"I don't think you could look bad in anything, Bones, but you're welcome. That's what friends are for. Right?"

"Yeah."

The End