You tended to wear black anyway, but there was black, and then there was black. Ordinary, every day foul mood black, and extraordinary dull cover everything in cold nothingness black. Black was efficient-- made for less trouble, matching things, went with jeans and khakis. Tonight you wanted color, so you let yourself in wearing jeans and sneakers and a brightly-striped t-shirt that matched a pair of socks Parker gave you for Christmas not that you'd ever wear a t-shirt that made you look like Bert and Ernie from Sesame Street but he didn't need to know that but tonight it was just the thing. Color. A gift from an innocent heart-- to go visit a heart far from innocence for her own, separate reasons, but just like you still kept going. It was something.

She was sitting on the couch, reading in a dim pool of lamplight, the rest of the apartment dark, her phone on the table in front of her. She turned to watch you shoot the bolt home again, kick off your shoes, then come over and sit on the couch next to her. A long sigh escaped you, and she handed you the beer she'd been working on.

You took what she offered, and downed a few gulps. Plausible deniability, you reminded yourself. Make some light conversation. She did it for you.

"Nice shirt there, Ernie." A slight smile tinged her mouth.

"Parker gave it to me," you responded. "Matches the socks." You waggled your toes just for emphasis.

She smiled again. "I see. But that doesn't mean I've ever seen you in anything like that before."

You snorted. "Hey. Maybe I wear firetruck pajamas too. I'm a man of unplumbed depths, Bones."

She shifted, hitching one leg under you as she turned to regard you. "Still waters?"

"Something like that." You looked at her, feeling stuck for something to say. It was quiet in your head not just for the first time in days but weeks, months, years, more than a decade.

For lack of words, you picked up your beer and drank the rest of it, then reached forward to set it on her coffee table. When you sat back, she took your right hand your shooting slicing punching killing hand or at least the one you used the most up in hers, pulling it toward her under the lamplight. Your eyes on her, you looked to see what caught her eye.

Traces of a distinctive maroon brown color at the edges of the fourth and fifth fingers, barely visible. You need a new nail brush. It would be funny, except that it wasn't and wouldn't ever be.

"Did you ever read Oliver Goldsmith?" she asked, leaning in, her breath warm she was so close.

"Ask me no questions," you said quietly. More things the Greek Chorus hadn't gotten to learn. But they were content with what they'd learned tonight, and had exited the rear dead center of your mind's stage.

"I'll tell you no lies," she finished. It was true, both ways. She asked no questions, you wouldn't have to lie, and she never lied to you, either. A truth-teller, secret-keeper, privacy protector.

She leant forward, and you did too, and the next thing you knew all the gungrease and gunpowder and blood and greasepaint in the world would never bother you ever again because her lips were on yours, under yours, her tongue and teeth and the taste of her so sweet under the beer and the Mac and Cheese you both had earlier.

She was heaven and oh she was heaven right here under your hands she was silk, and she sighed and said your name in a way that meant someone more than who you'd been until she said it right now with that voice and that look in her eye. It was like coming home, she Penelope to your Odysseus, and it was all fitting because that was a poem, not a play all the world's a stage and all the men and women merely players but oh, no more exits, no, not with her, ever again. There was no Greek Chorus in the Odyssey. Just homecoming, after a long time travelling and never being quite sure if you'd make it or if she'd still be there when you arrived-- if you could find your way-- though you'd always hoped.

And here you were, home, and her hands on you were gentle and warm and told you that you were there, that you were real, that wherever else you'd been earlier, whatever else you were doing that night, she wanted you there. She didn't ask with her hot mouth, her soft lips, her sweet breath on your skin as she kissed you, tasted you, licked you and sucked you, cleaned you of all your sins and the extraordinary dull cold black that reflected no light no love nothing good, she made sure you knew that you were here now. And you were.

You touched her to content your heart, her hands in yours as she arched up to meet you, nothing sharp or dagger-like in the way she looked at you and said your name as you first sheathed yourself in her. This time her heat was no oppressed lonely imagining-- she was palpable, the smell and feel and sound and sight of her all real. All real and yours, your Bones, her Booth, and your coming together soon had you coming together, her meeting and matching you as ever.

Your cry from the depths of your gut that damned gut that saved you and her and would continue to do so as much as you hated it but it didn't matter because it let you love her and protect her as she took you in again and again, as you erupted inside her, her own echoing welcoming call of your name that now meant something different just because she said it that way. You weren't Seel any more, and all the other things that went with being Seel went by the wayside as you pulled her as you lay on your side, her heart beating beating beating beating against yours as you lay, staring at one another, eyes the windows to the soul and yes, they were dark windows but she didn't mind letting you look into hers as long as you let her look in yours. So you did, until sleep shut the lids you both sought to keep open, and you dreamed, but only of her.

You woke to her in your arms and a smile on her face as she continued to sleep, and you stared at it for thirty seconds and more. You never forgot a face. You would never forget this one.

She's a keeper, Seel. We're outta here, buddy, and thanks, they whispered once more. Yep. She's a keeper, they whispered-- then were gone.

"She is."

"Mmm. Who is?" she said, her voice soft and low still with sleep.

"You are-- you're a keeper, Bones."

She smiled more widely, blinking at you, then shifted to stroke the side of your face with her hand those soft hands and sighed in your mouth as you kissed her that sweet breath those soft lips and pulled her into your arms again, her warm limbs tangling with yours, her perfume around you as you embraced her as how her perfume embraced you, and yes, hers was a face you wouldn't forget as she took you home again. Yes it was home, as she called your name again and reminded you that you could be who you were with her and she would ask you no questions.

I had an eclectic reading list this weekend. Some Shakespeare, some Joyce, some Goldsmith. This was the result.