A/N: I wanted to say thank you to everyone for your amazing and detailed feedback. You have all provided so many specifics that I was able to go back and rework both Brennan's and Booth's POVs. Adding in your thoughts, I agree that both chapters are now stronger than what I was able to write alone. This story has now become for you and from you.
An extra special thanks to: FrigginNometry for catching my typo in Chapter 1; exclu1221 for helping me with clearer grammar for Brennan's thoughts in Chapter 1; and Tchitchou for pointing out how Booth's chapter could be expanded to include even more thoughts.
And now for your final fluffy wrap-up.
It was well past his usual lunch break when Booth walked into his office. He just finished his annual review with Deputy Director Cullen and it had taken longer than he had anticipated. He was in a slight daze and not just from hunger, but from the feedback his boss had given him which left him both preening and confused.
His mind reprocessed Cullen's comments, "Booth, your overall performance has been exemplary. You and Dr. Brennan have the highest close rate of any office in the country. Your paperwork is thorough and usually submitted in a timely manner." At this point Cullen had given Booth a pointed stare, letting him know he would have to keep up with his partner's speed for pulling together all needed documentation. "I admit I was concerned about your continued partnership once you became romantically involved with each other; however, as your record clearly indicates, your relationship has not posed a problem. I knew it was only a matter of time before the two of you became an item—any one within fifty yards could smell the residual electricity. Our continued collaboration with the Jeffersonian has become recognizably crucial to the higher level officers, so we must maintain an excellent working relationship. I've seen you and Dr. Brennan together and I know you'll both maintain the same level of discretion. All in all, if you keep this up you are well on your way to a promotion." Cullen closed Booth's file and, with a small smile, dismissed him. "That will be all."
As Booth sat at his desk, his partner's "non-perfume" surrounded him. He scowled, frustrated with the knowledge that everyone assumed he and Bones were together. When he looked out the glass doors of his office he almost thought he had become psychic as the very beautiful object of his thoughts walked towards him.
She pushed his door opened and immediately questioned him; fortunately, she sounded more concerned than angry. "Booth, we were supposed to meet here 20 minutes ago. Where were you?"
"Sorry Bones, Cullen's review went into overtime."
Brennan still stood, watching as his scowl deepened. She asked hesitantly, "You appear to be upset. Did your evaluation not go well?"
He waved off her concern and gave her a half smile, "Nah! Don't worry, it was fine. Just some of his comments are bothering me." He saw she was about to ask more questions, which he was not ready to discuss, so he distracted her with his own query. "Hey, Bones were you sitting in my chair?"
"Your chair is the most comfortable in your office and I was waiting a long time," she responded defensively. Brennan knew how possessive Booth was of his alpha-male status symbols.
"Well what did you do, rub yourself on it like a cat? Your scent is all over it."
"Booth I told you I do not wear perfume and the lotion I used this morning has since completely absorbed into my skin." She cocked her head thinking on the situation further. "I suppose my brand of washing detergent and fabric softener could have been transferred to the leather; however, that would have taken a lot of friction and I sat fairly still."
Booth pinched the bridge of nose to clear all thoughts of Bones rubbing on or against anything. "So, you ready for lunch?"
"Yes, we can go." Despite her reply, she made no move to gather her belongings. "Booth why did you ask me what perfume I wore that night?"
"Bones that was what? A month ago?"
"So? This conversation directly correlates to that one."
"Well…umm…you don't understand how unique your scent is. I couldn't figure it out."
"And you have been trying?"
"Well…not on purpose. It's not like I go around sniffing you."
She was surprised when he blushed, and shifted her weight to her back leg as she crossed her arms.
Misreading the retreat as repulsion for his stalker similarities, he quickly caved, "Ok, so I was with my family over Christmas and my Mom, Aunt and her partner dragged me with them to the mall. We were in a fragrance shop for…a few minutes and it just happened that one of the perfumes reminded me of you and I just started thinking. I was curious and I asked. No big deal."
She still looked surprised, but then she smiled softly. "Did I tell you I had a date with a surgeon a couple of months ago?"
He groaned and pushed himself out of his chair, feeling an urge to move, "Bones, I really don't need to know about your love life."
As he spoke, he gathered their things and tried to herd her out the door. She recognized the twinge of sadness in his tone and immediately stilled him by briefly touching her hand to his chest. "Booth, the date was horrible. I knew he was not going to call me again."
He looked in her eyes and was surprised that she did not appear upset by the rejection. He still felt a need to reassure her and quickly declared, "Well, he's a fool."
Brennan smiled. "Thank you, but I was admittedly at fault. I did not pay attention to him at all. I was completely distracted…by you."
Now it was his turn to look confused, "Huh? What did I do?"
"You, or rather he, smelled like you. He was wearing your cologne but it was different somehow. It did not smell the same. And I was attempting to figure out why, thereby, I was distracted through dinner."
He was stunned, not able to come up with a single intelligent thing to say. Met with his continued silence, Brennan continued, "Come on Booth, I gave something of myself, now it is your turn. Why did you ask about my perfume?"
"Bones, I already told you." He saw how her eyes flashed fire and he braced himself as best he could.
"No! No Booth, you told me a story you felt comfortable with. You honestly believe I do not know you? That I can not read you? You are not telling the whole truth and that is the same as lying."
Noticing how her raised voice was earning several curious stares, Booth quietly pleaded, "Bones can we continue this conversation somewhere where the entire office can't hear us?"
She glared in frustration but relented and led the way to the elevators. Neither spoke as they rode their way down to the garage, walked to his SUV and began driving away from the Hoover Building. She did not ask where they were going and he did not volunteer the information. She soon recognized his direction and pulled out her keys in preparation. After parking, they continued up and inside to her apartment.
Brennan believed she had shown enough patience. "Ok, no one can hear us now." She threw her coat and purse on a chair in a small show of temper.
Booth exhaled in defeat. He felt unsure on how she would react after he answered. He was unable to figure out how to appear sane once she knew. "You have to hear me out and wait until I'm done before you speak. I'm serious on this. If you want that answer, I'm going to need to figure out how to say this and I'm probably going to mess it up first. I'll let you know when I'm done. Deal?"
Brennan's eyes burned with questions, but she honored his request and hesitantly acquiesced. She sat on her couch while Booth began wearing the carpet in front of her.
"I've realized from the beginning—from that first case you consulted on for me—that there was something about you. I couldn't figure out what it was, it was just something and of course we fought all the time, so I kept forgetting the something and just remembered feeling aggravated. But months later, when we were at the bar after closing the Masruk case," he paused to see her nod in remembrance of that night. "I recognized a part of what that something was. It was the way you smelled. It was such a stupid thing to notice at a time like that, but I breathed and…well it's not like I could ignore it. Then after a couple more months, I not only had your scent down—to the point where I would recognize it after 20 years not being around you—I also realized it made me feel calmer and crazier."
Booth's words were starting to paint a picture, an abstract one, but one that was slowly coming into focus. He slowed his pacing and sat almost on top of her, before continuing, "Just sitting this close to you I feel like Jekyll & Hyde. I mean we're partners, right? And we're friends; we're really good friends. But we are partners and I'm not supposed to pay attention to things like that and I am not supposed to feel anything because of it. I mean even if we could figure it out, why would...? I'm not a genius like you; I don't know a million facts." Booth shook his head obviously struggling with the points he was trying to get across. He stopped when he noticed her smile and the shine in her eyes. His hand rose to test her cheek. "Bones, are you crying?"
"No, I don't think so, maybe. Booth, what are you saying? I do not like to assume, but I can not help conclude that you…care for me?"
Booth groaned, "I care about you? Is that all you got?" He shook his head and cursed softly, "Damn."
"Assumptions lead to mistakes and I have no way of confirming how strongly you might feel outside of our partnership. As my partner, I have no doubts as to the strength of our commitment to each other. The scars alone reveal the depth of our overall solidity."
"Bones, come on." His angry gaze challenged her.
"Fine, since I am forced to assume, your speech would lead me to believe you love me in a non-professional, non-platonic manner." She crossed her arms stubbornly, fearing his response would contradict her statement.
A slow, utterly sexy, smile bloomed on his face as he watched her nervousness and it was that very reaction that gave him the needed hope to admit his truth out loud. "Yeah, Bones, I do love you. I am in love with you to the point where I'm not sure how to react first. Should I strangle you for making me crazy with how reckless and stubborn you are or should I push you up against the nearest wall and torture you like you do to me every single blessed day? I want you. I want us to continue being there for each other but I also want to wake up with you in my arms and I want to tire you out so you let me hold you all night."
Brennan was unable to control her breathing and responded shakily, "I had thought maybe after we had started to become friends that something might happen between us. But then, before Cam, you made it clear some people can not enter a physical relationship and then, after Cam, you had erected the 'line'. And yet, even after both of those rejections…"
"Whoa! Bones, I never rejected you."
"Yes you did, Booth. Both of those comments were for my benefit and we both know it, otherwise you never would have slept with her and hid it from me."
"I still wasn't rejecting you; that's the wrong word. I was just scared. We had something good going and I didn't want just sex because that would have been the fastest way to kill our partnership…our everything."
"And even after I started to listen to your arguments and accept you had some valid points on love and monogamy, you still never did anything. There were moments when we would stare at each other and I wondered if you would ever kiss me; but you never did. And then more and more time passed and I resigned myself to the facts. And now you are telling me you love me. I do not understand you, Booth."
"Bones, you only just started believing I might be right. The whole boy toy/gay florist mess wasn't all that long ago."
"Jason was a botanist and he was not gay."
"Whatever Bones, it still wasn't that long ago. And the risk of getting involved was too great. Not because of any physical danger but the emotional one. If we are going to get together I need to know we're going to try and really be together. No biological urges, no hiding our feelings…and no more being scared."
"Why now? If it was a risk before and nothing has changed between us, so why is it still not a risk?"
"Because now, the risk is that you're going to find someone else and I'm going to miss my chance to sweep you off your feet." He smirked when she rolled her eyes. "I don't want to lose you before I get a chance to prove to you that love is real. And I know I'm not as smart as you…"
"Booth there is no deficiency in your deductive reasoning, visual-spatial abilities, vocabulary, memory, perceptual skills…"
"Ok, ok, Bones, thank you." They were both quite for a few minutes before he timidly asked, "So you find conversation with me stimulating?"
"Booth, you are very stimulating intellectually." She smiled shyly and placed a reassuring hand on his knee. "In fact spending time with you is invigorating emotionally and physically as well. And being with you could never be about biological urges. A night in your arms would be anything but inconsequential. I may not agree with all of your romantic ideals, but I do believe in you and I am willing to try."
"That's all I needed to hear you say." He beamed before leaning in to kiss the woman he loved. When they finally parted for air, the partners were both smiling. "Now I only need two more things from you, Bones."
"And what would that be, Booth?"
He flashed his cocky grin before standing and pulling her up with him. His arms circled her and he rested his forehead against hers before answering, "I need to show you how physically stimulating I am and I need to hear you scream my name."
The partners walked hand in hand towards her bedroom where eventually became right now.
Final thank you: While this is the end of my story, I would greatly appreciate knowing if you find any more typos, grammar problems, difficulties following the sentence structures, problems with holding true to their characters and speech patterns or other concerns. Please believe me when I say this type of feedback is even more helpful and encouraging than a pat on the back "Good job" or "I liked it." Either way, I do hope you enjoyed it and thank you again for reading.