"Wow daddy, this is the best present ever," Parker exclaimed as he looked at his brand new hockey equipment. He stood up and pretended to shoot a goal, imitating the crowd and running in a small circle around the living room.

"Now we can get you on that hockey team and you can have your own jersey to wear when we go see the Capitals." Parker stepped over the heaps of presents and threw himself at his dad. Brennan watched from her spot on the couch as Christine joined them, laughing and giggling as Parker and Booth began to tickle her.

"Okay, who's next," Max asked as he reached under the tree. He was glad that the tension between Booth and his daughter had dissipated somewhat as the evening went on, both determined to make it appear as though nothing was wrong. For the most part, they'd been pretty successful. "Looks like we've got one for Tempe."

"I don't need to open any gifts right now," she said as her father got up to give her the box Booth had brought home with him. Her stomach dropped a bit, knowing that he'd gone out to get this because of her earlier rejection. She knew he was trying to work with the situation, but it didn't make her feel any better. A conversation she'd had a few years earlier with Rebecca rang through her mind as she slowly undid the fancy gold paper. "I was afraid that marriage would change who I was, but by the time I realized that I was wrong, it was too late."

She glanced up at the ceiling once as she felt tears beginning to prick at her eyes and took a deep breath to get her emotions under control. When she looked back down, she saw Booth watching her with concern in his eyes. That did it. She let out a sob and shook her head.

"I'm sorry but I can't…" She shook her head again and took off out of the room. All eyes turned to Booth as they waited for him to answer their silent inquiries. It was Jared who broke the silence as Booth stood to go after her.

"What's wrong with your girl Seel? Is she feeling okay?" Booth glanced at his brother and sighed.

"Not now Jar. You guys finish up with the gifts, I'm gonna check on Bones." Before another question could be asked, he headed down the hall and toward the bedroom. He stood outside the door for a minute and knocked on it quietly. "Temperance, can I come in?"

He heard a muffled response and assumed it was a yes. He opened the door slowly, shutting it behind him before he made it over to the bed. His heart wrenched as he heard her crying into her pillow.

"Baby, what's wrong," he said and sat next to her on the bed. She looked up at him, tears sliding down her cheeks.

"I don't like not being in control of my emotions. It's frustrating that I can't prevent myself from not crying or feeling horrible about earlier."

"Look Bones," Booth began as he gathered her into his arms. She rested her head on his shoulder while he smoothed her hair away from her face. "I've always known your stand on marriage and kids and all that. I don't want to pressure you into making a decision that you're uncomfortable with, or are acquiescing to simply to make me happy. I took a chance that maybe you'd changed your mind. I'm not going to go anywhere okay? I'm not going to make the same mistake I made with Rebecca."

Brennan sniffled and pulled back to look at Booth, her eyes red-rimmed from crying. He smiled at her and kissed the tip of her nose, getting an annoyed growl in its wake.

"I hate it when you do that."

"No you don't; you love it, admit it."

"I'll admit to no such thing." He kissed her nose again before looking at her in concern.

"Are you sure you're okay?" She nodded and pushed away from him, trying to make herself more presentable. When they both got off the bed, he held out his hand to her, which she took as they went back out toward the living room. "So you'll open my gift now?"

"Yes. Sorry about leaving earlier. I just…"

"Hey, you don't have to explain. I get it." Booth pulled her closer to his side and they made their way back to their spots on the couch. Everyone looked at them curiously, but this time, no one said a word. Temperance picked up the gift she'd left abandoned on the coffee table and opened it up, gasping when she pulled the delicate necklace out of the box.

"It's beautiful. Booth, you didn't have to do this." Seeley took the necklace from her and held it up to fasten when she moved her hair from her neck.

"Yeah well, I wanted to." When he dropped his hands down, she turned and kissed him on the lips."

"Thank you," she said. He smiled and shifted to pull her into his side.

"You're welcome Temperance." Max watched the pair from his spot across the room. Whatever trouble was between them earlier was obviously resolved, and a good thing too. He only wanted the best for his daughter, and married or not Booth was the best.

XxXxX

"Are you sure you don't want me to stay here," Booth asked as he and Temperance left Christine's room. The little girl had toughed it out until almost ten o'clock before she finally knocked out. Everyone else was gone in anticipation of Christmas day, and Parker was dozing on the couch as he waited for his dad to put Christine to bed. They were supposed to head to midnight mass and get home to see if Santa had shown up yet.

"Yes, I'll be fine. You two go enjoy mass and I'll see you when you get back." She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him deeply. Booth pushed her gently up to the wall, covering her with his body as he reciprocated. When they broke apart, panting, he looked down at her with a smirk.

"You keep that up and I won't make it to church on time."

"We can't have that now can we?" Temperance kissed him once more and pushed him lightly away from her. "I'll be here when you get back. You go get Parker ready and I'll grab your coats." They parted to do the tasks, Booth rousing the sleeping boy, and Brennan grabbing their coats off of the coat rack. As she threw Booth's over her arm, she felt something in the pocket graze against her leg. Curious, she reached in and grasped a small box.

"Bones, do you think that Santa will get me what I want for Christmas this year?" Temperance quickly withdrew her hand from Booth's pocket, the box still in her grasp as she handed Parker his jacket.

"Well he did last year didn't he?" She helped him button up the coat before giving Booth his jacket to put on.

"Yeah, and I told Grandpa Max a while ago what I wanted so he'd be sure to let Santa know."

"Oh really?" Temperance glanced up at Booth as they shared a look before returning her attention on Parker. "And what did you ask him for this year?" Parker crooked his finger, imploring her to come closer. As she was within whispering distance, he spoke.

"I told him that I wanted you to be my other mom." The boy grinned at her, and she felt her chest squeeze just a little. So that was why her father told Booth he needed to propose. Booth looked at them curiously, wondering what exactly his son had told Temperance. He watched as she pinched her lips together and took a breath, obviously formulating what she was going to say.

"Hmmm, I think we'll need to wait and see if it happens Parks. Now you and your father go to mass and I'll see you when you get back, okay?"

"Okay," he said, smiling. She gave the boy a hug and his father a kiss, seeing them out as they headed to the Christmas Eve service. Once the front door was shut, Brennan brought the box into view and looked at it. The small tag on it indicated that it was for her, and she gasped as she realized what it was that was inside the small box. Curiosity got the better of her a she unwrapped the little box and flipped it open. The ring inside was beautiful, and not something that you would find outside of an estate jewelry store. The band itself was gold, but more of a rose color than the normal yellow tone. The setting on top was pave and encircled with smaller stones, a light blue in color. She stared at the ring for a long time and shut the little box. There were some things she needed to think about before Booth got home from church.

XxXxX

"Goodnight Parks, sleep tight buddy," Booth said as he tucked his son into bed. The young boy had fallen asleep on the way home from Mass, and awoke only when they pulled into the drive.

"Can't I say Merry Christmas to Bones?"

"Nah, let her sleep kiddo. You can see her when she wakes up, okay?" He brushed the unruly curls out of his son's eyes and kissed his forehead. As Parker's eyes fluttered shut once more, Booth left the room, pausing on his way to bed to check on his daughter. Christine slept soundly, clutching a little teddy bear in her arms. He watched her for a minute, smiling. It had been a year since Temperance added him to the baby's adoption papers, one that had flown by. So much had changed in that time, but nothing felt off or rushed at all with the process. This was where he was meant to be, married or not. Parker, Bones and Christine were the three most important things to him and now they were adding another child to the mix.

Booth closed the door quietly behind him and headed to the bedroom that he and Temperance shared. It was only two months in their new relationship that they'd made the decision to live together. They had been partners for three and a half years by that point, and it made seeing Christine so much easier as well. Not that the little girl was the reason for the move, there was so much more than that.

He sighed and ran a hand over his face before starting to undress. He never thought he would be in a position to be turned down twice in his life, and yet here he was. This time though, he wasn't going anywhere. Just because she didn't want to get married didn't mean that Temperance didn't love him. She'd always been very clear on her stand about matrimony. It didn't diminish the hurt though.

"I found out why my father talked you into proposing." Booth turned toward the bed to find Temperance sitting up and looking at him. He tried to read her expression, but she always was good at masking things.

"Yeah, and why is that?" Now stripped down to his boxers and undershirt, Booth slid into bed and pulled Brennan up against his chest. She adjusted the way she fit around his body and put her head on his shoulder and one arm around his waist.

"Parker wants me to be his other mom."

"So that's what he said to you earlier." She nodded and shifted again to look at him. He leaned down to kiss her, but neither said anything. When he thought she had finally drifted off to sleep, she spoke again, but it was quiet, almost a whisper on the wind.

"Hodgins never gave up on Angela."

"Yeah, I know that Bones."

"She was just waiting for the moment to be right." She glanced at his bedside table before settling her head against his chest again. Curious, Booth turned to look at the nightstand. There, sitting next to his alarm clock was a small jewelry box popped open to reveal the ring inside.

"Temperance?"

"Yes Booth?" He glanced once more at the open box and swallowed. There could be no mistaking the message she was trying to get across with that small gesture.

"Will you do me the honor of being my wife and a mother for Parker?" She smiled and pulled away so she could look him in the eye as she gave her answer.

"Yes." He grinned at her and grabbed the ring from the antique jewelry box. As he slipped it on her finger, he leaned in to kiss her, silently thanking God and whoever else for putting a meddlesome Santa into their lives.