Six months. It had been six months since the last time he'd seen his partner, and to his mind, it was six months of hell. The undercover work was tedious but necessary, and after much evidence gathering the arrests had been made, he was free to return to his old life. His old life… the phrase had an odd meaning to him now that he was back in Washington. Sure, for the most part he wanted the familiarity of routines to soothe him back to where he'd been, but there was one area where the status quo was not acceptable.
He'd spent the downtime on his assignment taking stock of his life and came to one glaring conclusion. A return to 'just friends' with his partner was not something he wanted. He wanted more in their life; he wanted her. It was that thought that brought him to the Jeffersonian before he'd even cleaned up from his assignment.
As he walked through the halls of the Jeffersonian, somewhere that had taken a while to feel at home, he smiled. It would be so good to see Bones again after what felt like a lifetime. He missed her, plain and simple. He approached the platform and scanned in, glad that his access had not been removed. Standing by one of the many computer screens by the examination tables was Angela. Grinning, Booth stepped up behind her and glanced over her shoulder at what she was working on.
"Whatcha working on Angela?" He laughed as she jumped about three feet in the air before turning around.
"Oh my god, look who the cat dragged in. Seeley Booth, where have you been? We've missed you." She threw her arms around him and pulled him close in a tight hug. Booth certainly didn't mind as he gave her a squeeze and a kiss on the cheek before pulling back to look at him. "What's with the facial hair?"
"I've been on assignment, part of the whole look. Where's Bones?" He looked around the lab, and even glanced at her office, but the forensic anthropologist was nowhere to be found.
"Cam gave her the day off. She's getting an award this evening and needed to prepare a few things before tonight. Rather than pawning off the errands like she usually does, Cam told her to take the time she needed."
"Yeah, Cullen mentioned something about the award when I got back to the office earlier. Where's the ceremony?"
"It's being held over at Mount Vernon this evening, everything's very prestigious, invitation only and all that."
"Oh," Booth said as he rubbed the back of his head with his hand. "I guess I'll see her tomorrow then."
"Don't be ridiculous Booth, I'll just have Cam call and say we have one more person to add to the guest list. It'll be fine." Angela smiled at the agent and hugged him one more time. "It's just so good to see you again."
"Hey, don't tell Bones I'll be there. I want it to be a surprise, okay?" He smiled at the artist as he turned to leave the building. Angela opened her mouth to say something, but Booth cut her off. "Just call me with the details. I'll see you tonight."
Now here he was, clean shaven and standing outside the auditorium, anxiously waiting to see his partner again. He took a breath to calm his excited nerves before pushing open the door. The ballroom was dark, but the podium at the front shone as lights shined down onto it. Standing before a microphone was Temperance holding her award as she spoke. Booth closed the door quickly to avoid an interruption and stood at the back of the room just drinking her in.
"Thank you for the honor you've bestowed upon me with the presentation of this award. To have the admiration and respect of my peers is truly an honor, though I feel I would not be here without the assistance of my co-workers and friends. Each of them has contributed so much to the work I've been credited for that this award should really be for all of them. Giving back dignity to those whose life was taken from them is a noble and very human need. The life we have is a gift, and somewhere there's someone who loved those individuals. It is for them that I do this work. If I can heal the hurt of even one person by returning a loved one, then I've done my job." Applause filled the air as Brennan finished her speech and left the stage. Booth's eyes never left her as she walked across the ballroom and to her seat near the front of the stage.
Any presentations made after her acceptance of the award were lost on him as he continued to watch her. The gold colored dress she wore making her skin glow and the red in her hair catch fire. Booth's chest tightened as he looked at her. To him, there was no more beautiful woman anywhere. It wasn't just her looks though that made him feel that way. She was one of the most compassionate people he'd ever met, never hesitating to provide help regardless of the personal cost to herself. It was her very being that made her shine.
He shook away the thoughts as the auditorium began to empty and the two hundred attendees headed toward the gardens for dinner and dancing. Booth moved out with the crowd, the gentle strains of a band playing as they got closer to the dance floor. He recognized the song as one of his mother's favorites, 'I only have eyes for you'.
Booth stopped cold as he entered the dining area. There she was, not twenty feet away and laughing at something Hodgins said to her. Her eyes sparkling, she turned her head and caught his gaze. It was an eternity and a moment that they stared at each other, neither able to move as they drank in the sight and presence of the other. The world ceased to move, and they ceased to breathe as their gazes remained locked and their heartbeats sped up.
"Booth," Brennan murmured and began to move toward him as he too was drawn to her, stuck in the pull of her cerulean gaze.
"Bones," he responded before she was in his arms and pulled fiercely to his chest in a crushing hug. "God I missed you so much." He pulled back to look at her once more, a sparkling to her eyes that wasn't there a minute before. He brought his lips to hers, unable to keep out of contact for even a moment and for the first time in a long time, he felt at home.
When they parted, he was met by her surprised gaze looking back at him. He took a breath, prepared to tell her what he'd thought about in the time he'd been away.
"Temperance, I've had a lot of time to think while I was away, and I came to the conclusion that I'm…"
"You must be the partner, Seeley Booth," said a voice, interrupting Booth as he spoke. Booth stepped away from Brennan as he looked at the man standing to her left. He held two flutes of champagne and a somewhat bemused expression. Booth glanced once at Brennan, taking in the flush on her cheeks before returning his attention to the man.
"Yeah, that'd be me, and you are?" He held out his hand for the man to take. He handed one of the flutes to Brennan before taking Booth's proffered hand.
"I'm her date, Edison Payne." As he shook Edison's hand, Booth could feel the pit of his stomach drop. Of course she would have a date. In the time he'd been away, there was no reason for her not to have begun a relationship with someone. It's not like he'd ever expressed an interest in her. He offered a tight smile to the man and turned back to Brennan.
"Hey Bones, I've uh got to get out of here. I just wanted to come to congratulate you on your award and all, so congratulations." He gave her a quick hug before walking off despite her protestations to stay. As much as he wanted to, he just wasn't up to seeing her with another man tonight.
As he made it to the edge of the garden, he felt someone grab his elbow. He turned and came face to face with Angela.
"What do you want Angela?"
"You aren't getting out of here until you've at least danced with me. Come on Booth." She dragged him to the dance floor as the band switched songs. Booth sighed as he moved with the artist across the floor to the slow melody of the song 'You don't know me'.
You give your hand to me, and you say hello
And I can hardly speak, my heart is beating so
And anyone can tell, you think you know me well
But you don't know me
"I tried to tell you before you left the Jeffersonian that she had a date."
"It's not a problem Angela. She has every right to see who she wants, and it's not my place to say anything about that." He looked over her shoulder and met Brennan's gaze. They looked at each other for a long moment before she turned back to Edison and said something to him.
"Don't give me that Booth. I've stayed out of your way when it comes to Bren for a long time, but don't think I've never noticed the way you look at her when she's with someone else. I know it hurts you."
"I've never given her any reason not to see other people, and it looks like I'm too late to tell her." He sighed and twirled the artist out and away from him, bringing her back in close. "Anyway, we're friends and I don't want to lose her by being an asshole to whoever she's with."
No, you don't know the one
Who dreams of you at night
And longs to kiss your lips
And longs to hold you tight
Oh I'm just a friend
That's all I've ever been
'Cause you don't know me
"Do you mind if I cut in," Jack asked as he stepped up behind Booth. The agent stepped away from Angela and moved off the dance floor as Jack twirled Angela away and back into his arms. Booth looked once more in the direction that Brennan had been, but she and her date were no longer there. It didn't matter, not really. If she was happy, well good for her, because she deserved it.
He kicked at a chunk of grass on his way out of the party. It seemed the story of his life to be unlucky in love, whether it was getting turned down by Rebecca or taking too long to tell Brennan how he felt. With a sigh, he pulled his keys from his pocket. Maybe there was a bar close by that he could visit and try to drown her out of his head.
"Booth," she called, and he paused. He turned around to look at her, a questioning expression on his face. She approached him, her own expression unreadable.
"What were you going to say earlier?"
"It doesn't matter."
"I think it does. If it wasn't important, you wouldn't have said anything at all." The two locked eyes for a moment and Booth shook his head.
"I was just going to say that I'm…"
"Temperance, there you are. I was wondering where you got off to." Booth sighed. Clearly they weren't meant to be. Brennan glanced once back at Edison and turned her attention back onto Booth. She gripped his arm, her eyes pleading with him to finish what he was saying.
"You promised me a dance this evening and I'm coming to collect on it," Edison said. Booth looked desperately from one to the other, then grabbed hold of Temperance and kissed her.
"I'm in love with you," he blurted out when they pulled apart. She smiled at him and took his hand. She turned to look at Edison.
"Maybe some other time. I need to get reacquainted with my partner." As Edison opened his mouth to speak, Booth led Brennan away. If he had anything to do with it, they'd spend all night getting reacquainted. He turned once more to kiss Brennan, smiling as things turned decidedly in his direction.