AUTHOR'S NOTE: This month's NJC song is Teardrop by Massive Attack. The song breathes calm and quiet, I believe. I thought it perfect to serve as inspiration for an emotional, deep conversation. The initial image I got when I first listened to Teardrop, was a picture of a dark and empty void. After a discussion with Faux Maven and some solo brain storming, I decided to translate this into the figurative emotional emptiness one could feel if he doesn't chase what his heart desires. Part of the lyrics, specifically the words 'Fearless on my breath', pushed me to revisit Dying to Catch My Breath. It was actually a pleasure going back to that universe. I hope the people who followed Dying to Catch My Breath consider this one-shot a valuable addition.

Besides discussing the story idea with me, Faux Maven also corrected my spelling and grammar and gave a suggestion here and there. Thanks FM, I know I can be a handful, but you manage to keep up and surprise me every time.


Tuesday November 27th -- 09:03 p.m.

His house bathed in darkness. All there was to light her way to the porch was a faint glow from the window next to the door. However faint it was, it came across as a beacon of light to Brennan. Keeping her eyes fixed on the window, she confidently strode forward, up the shallow steps of his porch, and rang the door bell. No matter how insecure and vulnerable she felt inside, she would continue with this. Showing weakness had never been an option for her and she wasn't about to run away again like she had done five months ago, in June. This time she would stay and fight for what she felt inside. Breathe, she ordered herself inhaling and exhaling steadily. The nerves shouldn't be doing this to her. After all, she was a grown woman, very much aware of what she was about to do and ask. All orders of calm breathing were forgotten the second he opened up clad in a pair of jeans, a tight fitting shirt, and garishly colored socks on his feet.

"Booth," she managed to say, sounding more as if she was being strangled than as the calm and collected woman she wanted to come across as. He curiously studied her. Brennan quickly put her hands in the pockets of her long winter coat and willed away the urge to bite her lip like a shy ten year old. Booth wordlessly pulled his door wide open and stepped aside inviting her in. The warmth inside was like walking into a wall. Up until now she hadn't realized just how cold it was outside. Slowly she unbuttoned her coat and shrugged it off. Booth took it from her and hung it away. Still silent and without attempting any eye-contract he proceeded her to the living room.

The faint glow Brennan had spotted outside was a fire burning in the fire place on her right and a small reading lamp next to the couch. The fire was right across from a low coffee table and a large, comfortable looking couch. On the wooden coffee table was a half empty glass of wine. A smile slid over her face when she caught sight of a copy of Bred in the Bone lying upside down on the far end of the couch. Apparently Booth had been reading and relaxing while Brennan had been pacing around in her apartment. But now that she was here, she felt peace and an odd sense of familiarity engulf her. She was home. Gladly she took Booth's invitation to sit down. He sank down next to her, hands clasped, elbows resting on his knees, and a questioning look in his eyes. Brennan leaned back and crossed her legs.

"I never thought I'd say this, but we need to talk." She turned to face him. "It's been five months, Booth. Five long months."

"I thought that's what you wanted. I thought you wanted to wait this long."

"So did I...until I came home last week and found myself wondering when time had slipped away from us and why I was still at my place instead of with you." Brennan turned away and stared thoughtfully into the fire. "It seems like only yesterday we were so close," she murmured.

In reality it had been several months. The day after they had returned home, they had gone to the hospital to have their stitches removed. It had been the last step in their healing process, the final obstacle to cross before they could return to their every day lives. Brennan unconsciously felt for her left side where her scar seemed to pulse as she relived her memories. How warmly Booth had smiled and how tenderly he had patted her hand when a doctor had worked on her stitches. If only he had smiled at her like that afterwards. Right now he wasn't smiling either, she could tell. She would have felt differently if he had treated her to an ear-to-ear-grin.

"Booth, why is there this distance between us?" She heard him suck in a sharp breath which he released immediately. So he had been anticipating this question...

"Would you like something to drink?" he asked instead of answering. Brennan nodded, confused and intrigued.

Booth rose to his feet and padded over to the kitchen where an uncorked bottle of red wine was waiting for him on the sink. He picked it up and returned to the living room, not immediately going back to the couch, but instead heading over to a cabinet where he took a tall glass out. He didn't bring both items to the couch, though, but stayed on the far end of the living room. Brennan shifted around and angled herself so she could fully study his back. He was deliberately creating distance between them and stalling with his answer.

"I want you to be home to me," she suddenly blurted out. A slight stiffening of his spine and a split second of hesitation as he poured wine in her glass indicated her words had taken Booth by surprise. However, he wished not to show it. Calmly he returned, gave her a glass nearly filled to the brim, and sat down again.

"I can't," he simply replied.

"Why not?"

"Well, there's our work to consider first. Our partnership, my liaison with the Jeffersonian, the squints..."

"You're looking for excuses." Booth's eyebrows shot up because of her bold statement. Brennan defiantly stared at him sipping her wine. "You told me we were something from day one. What's holding you back now?"

Booth reached out to take his own wineglass taking the time to carefully consider his answer. "I didn't think you'd still be interested."

Somehow Brennan couldn't blame him for thinking like that. Within days after their return, they had gone back to work and had immediately gotten a serial killer case thrown their way. In between questioning suspect after suspect, doing long hours at the lab, and in the end---after four months---finally locking the villain away, it had been rather impossible to sit down and have a deep conversation. They hadn't made any progress, hadn't taken a single step forward, but it hadn't been by choice. Now that things had returned to normal, Brennan had regularly thought back to their conversation and what she wanted to do about it. And now she was here, in Booth's house, asking him to do the same.

"You more than anyone should know I never take back my words. I mean what I say," she stated clearly. Booth sighed and put his glass of wine down again without having taken a sip.

"It was an emotional time, Bones. I wasn't sure you felt that way because I was smart enough to take you on a ride for a while or because you really needed me."

Brennan narrowed her eyes. "Stop it. You're trying to back out of this. I won't let you. I want this more than anything."

He silently took her glass from her and sat it down on the coffee table. Taking a hold of her hands and lightly running his thumbs over her knuckles, he gazed at her. The fire threw dancing lights on her face and set her hair alight. Nothing but resolve he saw in the depths of her eyes. Indeed she meant everything she said. This was the reassurance---the security, the 'yes, let's take a chance'---he'd been waiting for and now that their time had come, he was frozen to the spot. All he could do was stare at her and listen to her confession fall from her lips. Brennan lifted her hand and covered his cheek with her palm.

"I'll ask you again, Booth. Be home to me."

Because he didn't trust his voice and was a firm believer of the saying 'It's not what you say, it's what you do', Booth felt his mouth spreading in a satisfied and somewhat teasing smile. Tightening his grip on her hand he was still holding, his other hand slowly curled around the back of her neck. Almost imperceptibly he began caressing the patch of skin at the base of her spine.

"Your heart is racing," he observed, feeling her heart pulse rapidly beneath his fingertips.

"That's the adrenaline," Brennan reasoned. "It's the nerves of putting myself out there." Her hand inched down his cheek to feel for his heart beat right below his jaw bone. "Looks like I'm not the only one who's nervous." Booth slid closer to her until their knees were touching. With one hand still behind her neck, he used the other one to comb her hair out of her face.

"That's because I'm about to do something very dangerous," he mumbled. "Are you absolutely sure about this, Bones?"

"One hundred percent. Are you?" Booth nodded, still smiling. Upon locking eyes with him, Brennan found the answer she needed. What she felt, she saw mirrored in his face. A tight ache settled in her chest. It shrank, expanded, twisted and turned with every heartbeat he needed to inch closer and closer until finally he rewarded her for the emotional leap of faith she had taken by coming to him.

Soft and warm and wet were her first impressions. He explored and teased, molded and nibbled. Opening up seemed the only logical choice. Colliding, pulling away and performing an age-old dance they knew by heart. Short, ragged gasps for air underlined just how glad they were to find each other and seal their faith. The ache in Brennan's chest tightened and tightened. Her heart was beating frantically. Behind her eyelids a mixture of colors was dancing on the rhythm of the crackling fire behind them. Her fingers curled in his hair and forced his head in a different angle. Deeper...closer...more...She needed more. She needed to forget who they were, what they had gone through until there was nothing left but Booth and his enticing kisses. Her head spun and the ache in her chest tightened...tightened and tightened...squeezed all the air out of her lungs until, without any warning, it burst free.

The sudden explosion of emotions made her moan into his mouth and arch her back. She gripped his shoulders tightly and managed to drag him even closer. Gone were inhibitions and hesitations. Gone were all rational thoughts and possible objections that would surely kill the mood. Delirious she realized that this was better than what she had experienced in her dream at the hospital when she had woken from anesthetics. Kissing Booth wasn't like being electrocuted and bleeding to death at the same time. It was more like driving over the edge of a cliff being sure she'd fall to her death, but knowing she was safe because she'd never hit the bottom.

Her heart hammered against her rib cage. Grunts and moans, the crackling of fire, sounds of shifting around on the couch and rustling clothes. She sighed delighted when her hands slipped under his shirt and traveled up his back. Strong warm flesh and a straight spine, her fingertips felt. She pulled his shirt over his head and threw it away blindly, immediately dipping low to brush her lips across the length of his collarbone. Instinctively she went for the scar on the back of his shoulder fingering it gingerly. Booth stifled a moan and tipped her head backwards to devour her again. All caution had drained from him. He crushed her lips, ran his tongue over hers impatiently, and boldly took what he needed. Brennan felt herself falling and falling, faster and faster, deeper than she ever had until...

"We should stop."

Her eyes popped open. She blinked attempting to focus as she stared up at Booth's ceiling. Brennan frowned. Booth's ceiling? When she looked down, she was surprised to see her button-up shirt being undone and revealing her bra. She had been entirely set on feeling as much of Booth as she could that she hadn't realized he had been doing the exact same with her. He was looking down on her leaning on one elbow while his other hand loosely rested on her hip close to the scar on her side. Brennan loosened the grip she had on his hips with her legs. Apparently they had gotten carried away.

"What?" she panted. Her heaving chest betrayed just how far she had let herself be dragged down a path of passion.

Brennan drew in a deep breath and tried to calm her wildly beating heart and ignore the frantic buzzing of blood in her ears. To her it seemed as if Booth had no problem whatsoever with breaking off what they had been doing. But on closer inspection she noticed he was having as much trouble as she to regain control over his impulses. His fingers were twitching, probably eager to caress her again, and he wasn't making any attempt at removing his hand from her hip or giving her some breathing space. His impulses had gotten the better of him as well. Brennan inwardly snorted. That's exactly what their kiss---or what it had turned in to, anyway---had been: an impulse. But what a delightful impulse it had been. She certainly wouldn't mind abandoning logic like that again.

"We should do this properly," Booth told her. "At least, that's what I want."

Brennan smiled as she sat upright. Booth retreated to his side of the couch. Still smiling, Brennan began buttoning her shirt again. "You're probably right," she admitted as she met Booth's scrutinizing stare. "We've waited so long now. Rushing into things would be a dumb thing to do." Relieved, Booth grabbed his shirt and pulled it over his head.

"Glad to hear you agree." When Brennan moved to stand, he quickly grabbed her wrist and tugged her towards him. "But that doesn't mean you have to leave now." Satisfied, Brennan leaned against him and accepted the arm he draped around her shoulders and the glass of wine he handed her. For a while they were content with staring into the fire and enjoying each other's proximity. Then Booth broke the silence.

"You know, Bones, you handled this whole thing quite beautifully. You knew exactly what to say."

"I did, hmm?" Brennan tilted her head to look at him. He smiled at her.

"Let me guess, you had a practice round with Angela." Brennan shook her head smiling as she recalled the long conversations she had had with Angela about when to make her first move.

"I'll admit she guided me in the right direction, but what I said was mostly me." Booth tightened his grip on her in response.

"It doesn't matter, anyway. You're home now."

Brennan couldn't agree more.

NJC is short for Niah1988 Jemb Challenge. Basically it's a modest music challenge thought of by Jemb and me. Every month we pick a song that is meant to serve as inspiration for a one-shot and then we post the music video on our LJ homepage. You can find a link on my profile or you can find it if you google Sunflower Lily Productions. Everyone is welcome to join the NJC; the more the merrier!