Rating: PG (maybe)
Spoilers: Set in some undetermined future period after 3.09. References to the Pilot.
Summary: Brennan reflects on her emotional evolution as she returns from a trip. B/B sweet fluff.

Author's Notes: Third Bones fic in a fortnight! This fandom has officially kidnapped my brain. Beta-ed by the irreplaceable Kate. Another bit of sweet fluff written whilst cleaning the house. Apparently, I find menial chores very inspiring.

"Ladies and Gentlemen, welcome to Dulles International Airport. The local time is 1:15am…"

The boring monotonous voice on the PA faded into the background, thankfully, as Dr. Temperance Brennan made her way through the terminal in search of Baggage Claim. Her flight from London had landed almost 4 hours late in addition to being re-routed through New York and she was more than ready to be out of the airport. A glance through the windows at the front of the terminal showed it to be pitch black outside, the skies clear and dry – a stark contrast to the wet and windy city she had left on the other side of the Atlantic.

As she joined the crowds of people milling around the baggage claim area Brennan caught a glimpse of her reflection in a mirrored window. It was not a pretty sight. Sighing, she willed her bags to hurry up so she could get home and crawl into her own, inviting bed. Ten minutes later, suitcase rolling behind her, she made her way through the vast foyer of the airport, remembering with a brief smile that time she had walked past this very spot to see her best friend Angela flashing her underwear at a shell-shocked information desk attendant. Tonight however there was no flashing friend waiting to greet her and so she stepped outside to the taxi rank.

The September night was mild and dry; the sky above her cloudless, a ¾ moon shining brightly over the airport terminal. She took a moment to glance at the small scattering of stars above her before stepping up and handing her suitcase to the nearest waiting cab driver. Loading her bags into the backseat of the taxi beside her, she gave her address to the driver then settled back for the ride into DC.

As she sat in the rear of the taxi, tired and dirty and desperately wanting her bed, her mind wandered back once again to the memory of the day Angela came to meet her after her trip to Guatemala - the trip she had taken to get away from the mess of her relationship with Peter.

That used to be her best way of (unconsciously) dealing with the harder, emotional relationships in her life – throw herself into work and then blame it for the demise of the relationship. Back then, solitude and independence were, she felt, her biggest assets – they kept her impersonal on the job, allowed her objectivity in the field and helped her to compartmentalize the more difficult aspects of her work.

But over the last few years she had learned that although her fiercely independent streak was well founded and certainly has a place in her emotional makeup, letting people in and giving part of yourself to others did not bring about the end of the world and could be just as efficient in helping her deal with her job and her every day life. And the connections she had made, the friendships forged and the family she had been reunited with, they were now as precious to her as her solitude and independence used to be.

If she had known that day almost four years ago – when she was being detained by Homeland Security and fighting tooth and nail with Booth all the way back to DC - that she would get to this point in her life, she may have been just a little nicer to the man who was to become her partner. Still, even she has to admit that it was the turbulent beginning to their partnership that framed who they were today.

Brennan smiled to herself as her mind drifted to thoughts of Booth. In the time they have known one another he had gone from being an annoyance to put up with, to her colleague and partner right though to her friend, her protector and her greatest confidant. And now, he was something more, something even she couldn't define other to say he was, without much doubt in her mind, the most important and most influential person in her life. And she loved him desperately for it.

This trip she had just returned from had been the first time they had been separated since they had been something more (she refused to call it dating – what she and Booth had was so much more important than that) and neither had dealt with the separation well. It was a new and unusual phenomenon for Brennan, missing someone as much as she had missed Booth the past 16 days. Usually her travels were enough to occupy her time and she had little to look forward to upon her return to the US other than her work. This time however a week of lectures around the UK followed by book signings in London and Paris had been pleasant enough, but first time she could remember, the overwhelming urge for the last few days of her trip had been to hurry the hell up and get home.

She could admit that it was not just Booth that had made her feel homesick, it was the entire life she now lead in DC - her work and her friends and her thrown-together excuse for a family. Still, of all those things, she missed him most of all and was grateful to have him to come back to.

As the taxi crossed the Potomac and entered DC proper, Brennan pulled out her cell phone, deciding to check her messages as a way of passing the last few minutes of the trip. She listened as the computerized voice informed her she had 5 new messages – all left for her since she'd departed for home less than 12 hours ago. Patience wearing very thin she skimmed through them quickly.

A message for her publicist regarding the appearances she'd made in London – delete.

Some LA producer wanting her to consult on a TV movie – delete.

Her brother, inviting her down to North Carolina for Hayley's birthday party in 2 weeks – she saved that one to listen to again later.

Angela, welcoming her home and apologizing for not being there to flash people at the airport and give her a ride home – deleted with a small chuckle and a smile. It seemed she and her best friend had similar memories of Dulles.

'Hey Bones, it's me Booth,' she hears her partner's familiar voice in the final message on her voicemail.'I got your message about being delayed; I hope you eventually get in safe and sound. If you change your mind about wanting a ride from the airport just call me. Anytime.' There was a pause. 'I'll try and wait up for you but if I'm asleep, well, you have a key anyway.' Another pause; she smiled as she pictured him leaving this message, slightly flustered and little embarrassed to be rambling on her voicemail. 'I really missed you Temperance,' he said finally. 'I'm glad you're almost home.'

Still smiling, she pressed save and placed the phone back in her bag. The sound of her partner's soft, sweet confession had filled her with a warmth and comfort, helping to erase the tiredness she was feeling. As the taxi turned down familiar streets, closing in on home, her smile grew and the tiredness faded even more. She was almost there.

The driver deposited her case right at the front door and she tipped him well for his trouble, bidding him a good night with a wave. It took several tries to get the key in the door – a combination of her tiredness and the fact that there was almost no light to see by. Eventually she felt the tumblers turn over and she struggled inside with her belongings.

There was a soft light glowing from above the stove in the kitchen, left on to greet her and light her way through the darkened house. This was something she had never realized she missed out on during the days she would come home alone to a dark and empty apartment. It took only a moment to decide to leave her suitcase where it sat and deal with it in the morning, the call of sleep to loud to ignore despite her small burst of energy in the cab. Slipping off her shoes she grabbed only her cell phone before heading in the direction of the bedroom. The light from the kitchen guided her down the short hallway to the open bedroom door and she paused in the doorway just watching the sight that lay before her.

This was, Brennan thought to herself as she took in her partner spread haphazardly across his bed, the best difference about coming home – the fact that she knew he was there waiting for her. Moving quietly about the room she quickly discarded her clothing, pulling an old t-shirt over her skin before ever so carefully lifting the covers on one side of the bed and crawling underneath. Somehow, she didn't know how, she managed not to succumb to the urge to reach out and touch Booth immediately. Instead, she watched him for a moment, content just to be able to see his face after their prolonged time apart.

This was the reason she had longed to return to DC - this man laying sleeping before her who had opened her up to the world and shown her how much she could have if she just let a little bit in. He had changed her outlook on life entirely and yet allowed her to be herself more than anyone previously in her life had done. But mostly, he taught her that some things in life were worth taking risks for – emotional and physical risks.

Eventually she tired of just watching and moved closer, anxious to be in his arms again. She felt his body instinctively mold against hers as she snuggled up to him, one leg worming its way between his, her head tucking itself under his chin so she could rest her face against his shoulder. For a minute, they were still. Then she felt a kiss placed against her hair, another against her forehead followed by a very insistent hand trailing its way up her leg and under the t-shirt she wore to rest at the curve of her waist. Brennan turned her head up to look at him and was amused to see his eyes still closed; his talent at sleep-groping never ceased to amaze her. His mind clearly not yet awake fully he rolled backwards, pulling her body on top to rest flush against his, her mouth even with his neck where she began to place her own gentle kisses.

"I really hope that's you, Bones, and not a very friendly cat-burglar." His voice was low and gravelly and she felt a warm shudder pass over her at the sound of it. She stretched upwards and kissed him firmly on the lips, her hands gently framing the sides of his face.

"It's me," she told him softly, kissing his nose and cheeks as she spoke. She felt his hands grasp tighter at her hips, pulling her closer and holding her there. "I'm home."

"I missed you," he confessed, his eyes now open and staring lovingly into hers. He bought one hand up to stroke her cheek and she leaned into him, content just to feel his hands on her skin.

"I missed you too."

They lay together like that for a long while, gentling kissing each other's skin; their hands gently exploring, re-familiarizing themselves with the terrain. After a while Booth rolled them back onto their sides, wrapping his arms securely around her shoulders and waist, kissing her thoroughly; a kiss she felt blossoming all the way from her heart down to her toes. As they broke apart she looked up at him, one hand gently stroking the stubble along the angle of his jaw as she watched his eyes already drooping once again. "Goodnight, Seeley," she told him softly as he drifted off. "I love you."

As she succumbed to sleep herself, her eyes finally falling closed, her felt him whisper against her ear. "I love you too, Temperance. I'm so glad you came home to me."

Content, she snuggled even closer and drifted off into dreamland, deciding that coming home was definitely her favorite part.

Inspired by the songLondon Rain by Heather Nova, whom I have discovered is a local from here in Bermuda! She went to school with a woman I work with. Freaky.