A/N: I found this sitting on my computer and decided to post it. My Verdict in the Story follow-up, as has been done many times before. The title is from the song "Latter Days" by Over the Rhine. Enjoy, and please take a moment to review!
It is barely eleven when the knock comes, and he knows who it is before he turns the deadbolt and pulls open the door. Usually he's the one to make the late-night visits, with food or a listening ear or both, but he isn't surprised that she's here now. She looks tired but satisfied, the slightest of lines worrying between her brows, as he ushers her in with a quick greeting.
"Bones, hi," he says, his hand finding the small of her back like nothing between them has changed. "How was dinner?" She had taken her father and brother out in celebration of her father's acquitted charges, and he guesses that she hadn't stopped by her apartment before coming here. Slinging her purse and jacket on the table by the door, she slips off her shoes and squeezes her toes into his carpet, and only then does he notice that she hasn't looked at him since he let her in moments ago. Before he gets the chance to ask her what's wrong, she startles him by speaking.
"I'm sorry," she murmurs, the usual smokiness of her voice gone. In its place is apology, sadness maybe, and he is immediately concerned.
"For what?" he wonders. She almost flinches at his question, and after a beat, he leaves her by the door and returns to the couch. He knows her well enough by now to be aware that she's processing something, and when she's processing, she needs her space. Picking up his half-empty beer bottle from the coffee table, he idly picks at the label until he feels her presence beside him. He risks a glance sideways and is surprised to find her so close, eyes shining with unshed tears, her face only a few inches from his own. "Temperance?" he breathes, waiting.
"For asking you to do that for me," she finally answers. "I should have found another way. I was so selfish, Booth," she confesses, shaking her head and dropping her gaze to her lap.
Touched at her concern for his wellbeing, he scoots an inch sideways until his thigh nearly presses against hers. "No, you weren't. You love your father, Bones. You were just doing what any other daughter would do, hmm?" He dips his chin and lets a small smile creep over his lips in an attempt to catch her eye. Her quiet sigh and the slumping of her shoulders tells him that something he said had gotten through to her, and he dares to reach out a hand and brush her knee with the backs of his fingers.
"I know, I do love him," she sighs, subconsciously leaning in toward him and letting her head fall gently to his shoulder. Her hair is soft against the side of his face, and for a split second he is jealous of her father for drawing those words of love from her. "You're right, I love him. But I also…" His hand stills on her leg as her words trail off. She also what?
"You also what?"
"I care about you, Booth," she says, and the words linger between them. "More than I think you'll ever know. More than I know."
He sits in silence, the length of her sandwiched next to him, the heat of her warming his soul, and when he can't find the words to reply, he turns his head and tenderly kisses her brow.
"I do know, Bones. I know."