Warning: What follows is different than anything else I have posted here. This is just me playing with tense and style. For the purposes of this, a certain event in Santa in the Slush never happened. I'm not sure how to classify this; perhaps it's a character study.


The first time he kisses her, it's just to stem the flow of words from her pretty mouth. They are arguing about something, and as is often the case once they get going, he can't even remember where or why it started. Sometimes he suspects that maybe they do it more out of habit than anything else; he no longer believes they are quite as different as he thought they were when he had her detained at the airport upon her return from Guatemala so long ago.

Still, they are just different enough.

A list fifty names long stalks his dreams and pushes him to execute one more warrant, pore over one last bit of evidence, empty one more clip at the shooting range. The next day he gets up and does it again.

Hers is a different sort of list, and it's only two names long. But the length is irrelevant. It is the fact that it exists that matters. The list drives her to reassemble one more skull, clean one final shard of bone, work one last hour, as the shadows grow longer and the hours till dawn grow shorter.

There are nights when his list chases him from his bed, and when he tires of pacing his cage and hearing the floorboards creak beneath the staccato beat of his feet, he stuffs his legs into an old pair of jeans and throws on the navy sweatshirt he picked up years ago when he trained at the Academy in Quantico.

FBI—Fidelity, Bravery, Integrity.

Does he embody any of those values? On those nights, he can't find the answer, so even though he knows his hair must be a mess, he doesn't look in the mirror to fix it. Looking would mean seeing.

Some nights he drives, riding I-95 into Maryland, Virginia. Mostly trucks are his companions on those late nights and early mornings, their red taillights leading him...somewhere, as they belch diesel fumes like hulking monsters of rubber and steel. He is small by comparison, he thinks. So small.

Other nights he drives to the Jeffersonian to see if she is still there. Sometimes she is.

One night he finds her asleep on the couch in her office, her head resting at an angle he knows will make her neck and shoulders hurt when she wakes in a few hours. The way her body curls in on itself suggests she is cold, and sure enough, as he stands with his head bent and watches her, she shivers. So he goes back out to his car and returns with the knit afghan his mother made him when he became a Ranger. The red has dulled, the white has turned almost gray, and the blue has faded with time. Though some of the yarn has split into separate plies, he knows the afghan is as warm now as it was when his mother gave it to him.

He lays it over her and waits.

He plays a game in his head; he can't leave until she moves. It takes fifteen minutes that first night—before she stretches out one long leg.

But after she moves once, he has to leave. It takes several tries before he can force his own legs to take him further than the doorway of her office.

With a nod, he says goodbye to the security guard and finally leaves the building.

He goes home and falls asleep and dreams no more that night.

The next day, he wears his flashiest belt buckle and most whimsical socks in the hope that they will keep her scientist's eyes from observing the slight shadows he knows are painted under his eyes. They don't have a case, but he stops by to see her anyway. She is seated on her couch, bent over a stack of papers. With a sigh, she rubs her hand over her neck, and he realizes he was right. Before he can think better of it, he smooths his hands over the place where her neck meets her shoulders. She jumps and turns around, her mouth twisted in a frown that melts into a smile when she realizes who it is.

They talk about nothing important, and as he joins her on the couch, his eyes search for the afghan, his afghan, and find it folded neatly over one of the armrests.

The next time he comes by the Jeffersonian at night and finds her dreaming on her couch, he notices that the afghan is draped over her. He smiles and leaves.


Booth tries to be a good Catholic.

Church on Sunday. Prayers every night. Confession when necessary.

But there is one thing he never voices as he kneels in the confessional and inhales the desperation of those who occupied the space before him. That thing, he knows, is what he most needs to confess. For it must be a sin, to want something as badly as he wants her. She's pure in ways he can't even remember being, and he knows one day he'll sully that purity.

Confessing this sin is not an option. Because not only would he receive God's pardon during confession, he would also be empowered to resist the sin in the future.

He can't bear to do that.

Never a question of if, only when.

Weeks, months, years unravel.

The translucence of her skin and the cut crystal of her eyes are the sun—nearly blinding him with their brilliance. He tries not to look, tries to delay the inevitable. Still, he's weak—a creature of flesh and bone—and one day, he'll succumb.

He waits.

Booth is willing to die. For his country. For a stranger. For her. But he's unwilling to do it without having known the comfort of blindness. He yearns to lay his down his burden for a moment and prop himself against her steel conviction, lose himself in her black and white world, and forget gray—the place where he lives.

He waits.


"I'm sorry," he mutters, just before, knowing with absolute clarity that it is both a lie and the truth.

The first time he kisses her, it's just to stem the flow of words from her pretty mouth. Or so he tells himself.

She smacks him; he doesn't even flinch. A moment later, she grabs the lapels of his jacket and tugs him toward her. He is startled to see himself reflected in her eyes during the second before their mouths meet again.

There is heat and light and the warm pressure of her body against his. They stumble as she shoves him back against the brick wall. He inhales the air that has just left her lungs and finds it's suddenly easier to breathe.

When he slowly opens his eyes, it is to light, not complete darkness. Sunlight catches a thousand shades in her hair. There are roses blooming in her cheeks and thunderclouds brewing in her eyes, and he knows he put them there. Her mouth moves, but no words come out. She blinks and tilts her head to the side, looking at him as if seeing him for the first time.

A stinging cheek is a small price to pay.

She stares at him, he stares at her—seeing at last.

I once was lost, but now I'm found.

(The last sentence is a lyric from Amazing Grace, a Christian hymn.)