Well, this is it--the final chapter! Thanks to everyone who read and reviewed, favorited, alerted, etc. I absolutely adored writing this fic, and I'm sad that it's finished. But all good things must come to an end, and I am excited to see what my muse comes up with next. Enjoy!
I meant to put a disclaimer in the previous chapter regarding the song. And since there's a song in this chapter, too, I'll put up the disclaimer for both chapters. I do not own the songs, "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" or "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree." I didn't ask for permission to use them, and they are not mine. I do have a general disclaimer on my profile page, so I don't usually include them in each story. There was also a reference to "Mummy in the Maze" in chapter 6. In this chapter, there is another slight reference to "The Santa in the Slush."
Later, seated across from each other at their usual table at the diner, they waited for their food. Music played through the overhead speakers, and another song Brennan recognized began to play.
Brennan hummed along with the song, and Booth stared at her in amazement.
"First Sinatra, now Brenda Lee? I'm impressed."
She stopped humming and smirked. "My mother liked that one, too, although I never understood why people would be dancing around a tree. It doesn't make sense that the tree is in the center of the room—there would be too much wasted space."
"Only you would over-analyze the lyrics to 'Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree,'" Booth said with a grin.
"It just seems as though the people who write songs aren't always thinking logically."
"That's part of the art of songwriting," Booth replied. "Songs are about real life and feelings, not logic and thinking."
The waitress brought their food, and the song dissection ceased as they focused on their food.
Brennan broke the silence a few minutes later. "Do you really want to know what Parker said?"
Shocked that she offered to tell him, he coughed as he choked on his food. "You don't have to tell me," he said as he wiped his mouth with a napkin. "But I'd really like it if you did," he finished with a smile.
She smiled and stole one of Booth's fries. "He knew," she told him simply.
"What do you mean?"
"He knew it was us, Booth. That we were pretending to be the Clauses."
Eyes wide, Booth stared at her. "No way! How'd he know?"
She stole another fry, both knowing that if he objected, she could withhold the rest of the explanation. "He paid attention to something you said." She looked away momentarily then returned her gaze to his. "He said that you told him no one has eyes like mine." She smirked as she watched Booth squirm in his seat, embarrassment turning his face crimson. "Want to tell me why you said that to Parker and not to me?"
"Uh, well, Parker asked me about why his eyes are brown. I told him eye color was hereditary."
"You tried to give him a genetics lesson?" she asked with a smile. "That explains why he said he didn't know what that meant."
"He actually said, 'I don't know what that means?' He sounds like you," Booth grinned. He grabbed a fry and sat back. "Man, I can't believe we went through that whole thing, and he knew all along!"
"It wasn't a complete waste. He also said he knew it was us but that we were there helping because the real Santa was too busy to come himself." She paused. "He gets his passion for life from you, Booth. I've said it before, but you're an excellent father."
"Thanks, but I didn't tell him to say that."
"That's not what I meant. He was adamant about telling the truth—that he knew we were the Clauses—and seeing the good in others—that we helped Santa. You're an outstanding influence to him, and he really looks up to you."
"That's very nice of you to say."
"I only speak the truth."
"That's why we work together so well."
They held each other's gaze for what felt like years but was only a few moments.
Brennan finally broke eye contact. "What's the matter? Do I have something on my face, or are you just staring at my one-of-a-kind eyes?"
"No, I, uh…well, I…" Booth stuttered as he shifted in his seat.
"Relax, Booth," Brennan said as she snatched yet another fry from his plate. "I'm kidding."
Ever since Parker told her what Booth said, she'd wanted to hear the words from Booth, but the moment passed and they finished their meals in relative silence.
Booth grabbed the check the waitress had left earlier. He pulled the money from his wallet and put it on the table. "Ready?"
"You don't have to pay for mine," she protested.
"No, that was our deal," he told her as he smiled and stood up. "You can buy next time."
"Deal," she replied as she grabbed her coat and got up. She put on her coat and pulled her hair out from under the collar.
Booth held open the door for her then followed her outside.
"Oh, I forgot to get my phone from your car," Brennan said.
"Right!" Booth agreed as he led Brennan to his car.
He opened the door and grabbed her phone from the console between the seats. Their fingers brushed as he passed the phone to her.
"Well," Brennan said, trying to prolong their time together, "thanks for an exciting day."
"I should be the one thanking you. You'll never know how much that meant to me—even if Parker knew the whole time."
They shared a laugh.
"I better get going," Brennan muttered, not finding any excuse to stay. "See you Monday?"
Brennan turned to leave.
"Let me walk you to your car," Booth offered.
"I'll be fine, Booth."
Brennan rolled her eyes and sighed, but agreed to Booth's request.
In silence, they walked the short distance to her car. She reached for the door handle, but was stopped by Booth's voice.
"Yeah?" she asked hopefully.
"I should have told you before Parker did—you know, about your eyes."
"Booth, you don't have to…"
"No, I wanted—want—to. Desperately. No one has eyes like yours. I mean that." He ran a hand through his hair as he tried to gather his thoughts.
The normally calm, rational Brennan could barely catch her breath.
"I'm so lucky that we're partners because I get to look at the most beautiful eyes everyday. It's not just your eyes, though. You've got it all, Bones—brains, beauty." He moved closer to her. "And I know that sounds cheesy but it's the truth."
He took one of her hands in both of his and frantically looked around.
"Is something wrong? What are you looking for?"
"What? Why?" she asked, her brows crinkled in confusion.
"Because I really need to kiss you."
"You don't need mistletoe to kiss me," she told him with a mischievous grin.
She shook her head.
"And you're not going to punch me when I kiss you?"
"I'm only going to punch you if you don't."
That was all the incentive he needed, and he cupped her face in his hands as he slowly pressed his lips to hers.
It had been a year since they first kissed, but this one was different. This one was real.
As they crossed the "just partners" line, the snow began to fall. They slowly pulled apart and grinned at each other.
She sighed contentedly. "Looks like I found my real life Andy Lister."
Booth laughed as he remembered the receptionist from Parker's school. "I'm glad we agree."
"I have something to confess," Brennan whispered. "I've had a really good time today."
Booth smiled. "So you don't hate Christmas?"
She shook her head. "Not anymore."
"I never thought I'd see the day where Temperance Brennan admitted to having some Christmas spirit!"
She punched his arm.
"Hey! I thought you said you wouldn't punch me!"
"I said I would punch you if you didn't kiss me. And you weren't kissing me, so…"
"We can definitely remedy that situation," Booth whispered as he pulled her in for another kiss.
The snow continued to fall around them, and they finally pulled apart.
"I'm guessing I'll be seeing you before Monday?"
"You are correct," she grinned, her eyes sparkling. "Santa Booth."
Thanks for reading! You've been fabulous!