AN: Thanks again to everyone who commented on the first chapter and to CalleighAryn for her mad beta'ing skills.

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"I still don't see why you need my help to buy lingerie," I told Angela as I followed her around Victoria's Secret. "I'm hardly an expert in this area."

"It's not that I need your help," Angela explained. "I just want your company. And it never hurts to have a second opinion when shopping for clothes." She picked a garment off of the rack that could scarcely even be called a garment. More accurately, it was a few strips of silk red fabric loosely joined together. "What do you think about this one?"

"I'm not sure what it is, but it's very revealing," I answered.

She laughed. "That's the point, sweetie." She stared at the not quite garment for a few moments. "I'm going to try it on."

"Okay. I'll wait for you here."

"Why don't you look around? You might see something you like."

I glanced at the items near us, discovering multi-colored thongs in a variety of animal prints. Did people really wear such things? "I doubt I'll be buying anything here, Ange."

"You never know; try to keep an open mind. I'll see you in a minute." She turned around and headed for the dressing rooms.

She was gone for longer than a minute. Much longer. Out of boredom, I began to walk around the store, stopping occasionally to examine an item. Eventually, much to my surprise, I did find something I liked: a black satin teddy. Unlike many of the other garments I had seen, it seemed visually appealing without being vulgar. As I took it off the rack to look at it more closely, I heard Angela's voice behind me.

"Hodgins is getting a marvelous surprise tonight," she announced.

I turned to face her. "So you're going to buy it?"

"Definitely." She motioned to the teddy in my hands. "You found something too! Are you going to try it on?"

I examined the teddy for several seconds. "It's nice, but I don't need it." I started to put it back on the rack, but Angela grabbed it from me.

She was smiling broadly…too broadly. Oh no. When Angela smiled like that, it meant that she was about to try to convince me to do something against my better judgment. "This would make an excellent birthday present."

"For whom?"

"A certain strong and sexy FBI agent." She winked at me.

"You mean Booth?"

"Oh yeah."

I laughed. "You're joking."

She shook her head. "Not at all."

"But Booth couldn't wear that! It's designed for a woman and it's much too small."

"Brennan!" She laughed. "I'm not suggesting that Booth wears it; I'm suggesting that you wear it for Booth! Show up at his house tonight wearing that, and he'll throw that stupid line of his right out the window."

I had to admit to myself that I was getting tired of 'the line'. Lately I had started dating more in an attempt to distract myself from my decidedly unprofessional feelings, but it wasn't working. No matter how much of a gentleman or how well-structured my date was, I still thought of Booth. I had even called Booth's name during sex with my last lover. He forgave me the first time it happened, but lost his patience after the fourth or fifth. I didn't care when he left me. He was a poor substitute for Booth. They all were. Maybe it was time for the real thing. "You really think one outfit can do that?"

I had never seen her look so excited. She held the teddy out to me. "YES. Go try it on!"

Encouraged by Angela's confidence, I took it from her and went to a dressing room to try it on. It fit perfectly. I imagined myself wearing it in front of Booth, picturing how his eyes would show their appreciation for my body…yes, Booth would like this present very much. I changed back into my clothes and brought it to the cash register.

Booth would be getting a marvelous surprise tonight.

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Surprise Booth? Tonight? What was I thinking? He said once that everything happens eventually, but eventually wasn't tonight. Tonight I should be finishing the paperwork on our last case, or working on my new book, or reviewing my expert testimony for a trial next week. I couldn't just abandon all my responsibilities to try to entice my partner to cross the line. He might not even be home tonight; he had said something about possibly going out with Jared. On the other hand, I knew where his spare key was. I could let myself in and then wait for--no! I couldn't do that! Well, I shouldn't, but technically I--

"You've been quiet ever since we left the store," Angela said as we drove home. "You're having second thoughts, aren't you?"

"Yes."

"That's understandable, but it's too late to change your mind. You already bought the teddy."

"I could return it. Or just keep it in my closet until--"

"Until when? Until people stop killing each other and you and Booth don't have any more cases to solve? Or just until your incredibly professional and respectful partner decides to make the first move?"

"Neither option seems likely to happen in the near future," I admitted.

"Exactly! Face it, Bren. If you want something to happen with Booth, you need to start it. Most women in your shoes would have tried to jump Booth within a few months…or weeks…or days…maybe even hours if there was alcohol involved. You've known him for four years. You've waited long enough, don't you think? Or are you willing to wait another four years…or five…or ten…or--"

"No!" Angela was right; I had waited long enough. It was becoming too painful to lie beside him in my dreams and wake up alone. Maybe he was having the same dreams, but, like me, was too afraid to take action. I was done being afraid. Tonight I would make the first move, and then…hopefully…neither one of us would have to be alone anymore.

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I couldn't believe I was doing this. Yet whether my mind accepted it or not, I was here, standing outside Booth's house. In the dark. Wearing nothing but the teddy and a floor length coat. My hands shook as I took the spare key from the fake rock by his door. I told myself the cold was to blame, but the temperature wasn't that extreme. I forced myself to take a series of long, deep breaths. There was no need to be nervous. I could do this. Taking one more deep breath, I turned the key in the lock and opened the door.

And that's when I saw my partner underneath another woman.

I bit my lip to stifle a cry. Clearly I had interrupted a romantic moment. He was sitting on the couch and the woman was leaning over him. He had his hands on her…hands that should have been on me. But what right did I have to be jealous? Booth and I weren't romantically involved. I had taken lovers to try to fulfill my biological urges--how could I blame him for doing the same? Surely a man as well-structured as Booth had no shortage of potential sexual partners. How arrogant of me to think that I could just show up unannounced at his home and seduce him.

Suddenly Booth leapt up from the couch and ran to me. "Bones! This isn't what it looks like."

What else could it be? Before I could question him about what he meant, the woman turned to me, saying: "So you're Bones."

As I looked at the woman, I noticed something interesting…several interesting things, actually. This woman wasn't blond like Rebecca and Tessa. I thought that Booth liked blondes, but this woman had brown hair, a shade similar to mine. And it was about the same length as my own hair. And we had the same eye color…same height…same complexion. Booth was dating someone who looked like me! I noticed too that she was wearing a Jeffersonian lab coat, but I couldn't recall ever seeing her at the Jeffersonian. Perhaps she was a new employee. "Dr. Temperance Brennan," I corrected. I wouldn't let anyone but Booth call me 'Bones'. "I'm a forensic anthropologist in the medico-legal lab. What department are you in?"

The woman laughed. Booth seemed embarrassed. "She doesn't really work at the Jeffersonian, Bones."

"Then how did she get a Jeffersonian lab coat?"

"Jared used his government connections to get it. He…uh…he hired this woman as a birthday present for me…as a joke."

"Your brother hired you a prostitute?" Why would Jared do that? Booth was certainly capable of attracting women on his own.

"Hey, I'm not a prostitute!" the woman shouted. "I just strip."

Booth looked like he was in pain. "Misty, I'd really appreciate it if you could leave us alone. NOW."

"Fine," she said. "You have fun with your partner." She smiled at Booth and left.

Her tone stung me. Yes, Booth was my partner…and maybe that was all he would ever be. "I apologize for interrupting you and your stripper," I said, trying to hide my disappointment. "I should have knocked, but I thought you were out with Jared and I wanted to surprise you. But that doesn't matter now. Good night. I'll see you tomorrow."

He put his hand on my arm. "Bones, wait! You weren't interrupting anything. I wasn't going to let Misty strip for me; I told her I wasn't interested."

So he wasn't interested in a stripper who looked extraordinarily like me? "Why not? Wasn't she attractive enough?"

"She was very attractive."

"Yet you would have preferred a blonde?"

"No, I don't really care about hair color."

"Was there something wrong with her?"

"Not that I could see."

"Then why--?"

"I just wasn't interested!" He blurted out.

I didn't understand. If he thought she was very attractive, and there was nothing overtly wrong with her, why wouldn't he be interested? "Perhaps the stress of our work is affecting your libido."

"My libido is fine."

Was it? I had assumed that he wasn't telling me about his lovers because he was too modest…but perhaps there had been nothing to tell. "Maybe you should see a doctor just to be sure."

"I don't need a doctor, Bones! There's nothing wrong with me. Misty was attractive, but I'm interested in women who have more than good looks. I want someone with brains and heart…"

I have those.

"…someone I can talk to…"

We talk all the time.

"…someone I can trust…"

I've never betrayed you and I never will.

"…someone who can make me laugh…"

I make you laugh all the time with my ignorance of popular culture.

"…someone who understands the passion I have for my work…"

No one understands that more than I do.

"…someone who doesn't judge me for my past but sees the man I am now…"

That's all I see.

"…someone who will be there for me just as I'm there for her."

That's me, Booth. I can satisfy all of your needs if you let me. "Someone like me?"

He gave me that dazzling Seeley Booth charm smile and put his arms around my waist. "No, Bones, not someone like you. Just you…only you." Slowly he leaned in for a kiss…too slowly. Maybe he was trying to make this moment last, but I couldn't wait anymore. I threw my arms around his neck, bringing that beautiful mouth of his to mine for…I'm not sure how long. It was definitely more than five steamboats…more than ten…more than a flotilla even. But I wasn't counting. I was too busy savoring the feel of his body pressed up against mine while he did the most delightful things with his tongue. Why hadn't we done this years ago?

"You…are…so…incredible," he said breathlessly.

"You are too," I said. Then I laughed. "I thought I was going to have to make the first move." I took my coat off, showing him the teddy with the red bow I had added around my waist.

His pupils were dilated and his breath came in shallow spurts. He appeared to be in shock. "Bones…what…why…"

"For your birthday," I explained. "Do you like it?"

Long seconds came and went while I waited for an answer, but he just stared at me, apparently unable to speak. His eyes, however, spoke volumes. Nonverbal communication had never been one of my strengths, but even I could tell that he was aroused by my appearance. Very, very aroused. My charming, well structured, noble, good hearted partner, who could probably have any woman he wanted, wanted me…loved me…just as I loved him. He nodded as if confirming my unspoken thoughts.

Tomorrow I would have to thank Angela for encouraging me to buy this outfit.

Tonight I would give the man I loved the best birthday of his life.

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Thanks for reading! All comments are greatly appreciated.