Here it is... the final installment. Thank you so much to everyone who's tagged along for the wonderful ride this has been. First off, thanks to DakotaaB. and BonesBooksandBooth for the bowling and double date ideas. Don't know what I'd have done without those. :)

Well, you can see the note at the end for all my other closing comments.


She could see his SUV before she even pulled into the parking lot. She parked next to it, and hurried through the now torrential downpour of rain into the small restaurant.

His eyes watched her as she entered and made her way over to him, smiling cautiously at her.

She sat down opposite him, just staring back into his eyes for a long moment. "Hey," she murmured softly.

"Hey," he replied, smiling wider, his eyes melting when she smiled back. "I missed you today," he murmured.

"I know," she answered, glancing away. "I'm sorry, Booth." He tilted her chin towards him and she smiled sadly at him. "I've given up," she told him.

"On what?" he asked, his brow furrowing with understandable concern.

"Staying away from you," she answered calmly, and watched his expression change from worry to complete surprise at her words.

"Is that what this has all been about?"

"Yeah... sort of. I've just been... I don't really know. I'm sorry."

"What did you tell me about apologizing recently?" he teased her. "Don't ever be sorry, Bones. You could never do anything to make me need a full apology from you."

"Yes I could, Booth. Remember all those arguments we've had?"

"Bickering," he corrected. "And those weren't important. They were... debates that I got irritated about. We both did. But... Bones, despite how... irritating you could be," he grinned cheekily at her as he said it, and she couldn't help but find herself laughing slightly, "I was never really mad at you. People get irritated; it's natural. It makes us who we are. But I've always cared more about you than about whatever we were arguing about."

"I thought it was bickering?"

He laughed, "Fine, you got me there."

"What about religion?" she asked him quietly. "Whenever I would bring it up... you'd get really upset."

This time he winced. "That's a more... sensitive topic. But I told you, Bones, when we were talking about Abraham... if religion got in the way of someone I loved, I would choose love. If I thought I was going to lose you over something religious... I would rather give up whatever part of it that was causing the problem."

"You would do that for me?" she whispered. She knew how important religion was to him.

"Of course. Depending on what it was, of course. But, see, I know you wouldn't ask me to give up anything I couldn't live without, so we don't have to worry about that."

She nodded. He was right about that. She might not believe in god, but she wasn't about to tell him he couldn't. It was something he was passionate about, and something he really enjoyed in life. She wanted him to have that.

"What did you mean when you said you were giving up trying to stay away from me?" he questioned after there had been a long pause in the conversation.

She hesitated. "I guess... I don't want you to go away. Today... I think I needed it today, to figure things out. To come to this conclusion. But now..."

"Now you've decided against things like today?"

She nodded.

"I missed you today, too," she murmured. "I really did, Booth."

He smiled at her, and her gaze moved downward as she felt his hand rest gently on top of hers. She turned it over so it was more firmly in his grasp, and he squeezed it gently.

"About time," Sid muttered as he placed steaming dishes in front of each of them. Neither of them had even ordered, but that meant little. They both turned to look at him, and she saw that he was looking at their entwined fingers with what appeared to be approval in his eyes.

Booth grinned at him. "Yeah. Angela would agree with you on that."

"Haven't seen much of her, or any of the others actually. Probably a good thing... with those horrible pictures they usually bring no matter how much I tell them..." he broke off into mumbling and vanished back into the kitchen.

Booth chuckled. "Gotta love Sid," he told her. "We really should come here more often," he added as he popped a piece of steaming chicken into his mouth, sighing and closing his eyes appreciatively. "Great idea that was, Bones, suggesting we meet here."

"Glad you approve," she said, picking up some noodles from her soup with the chopsticks she'd been provided with.

"So... what do you know about this thing tomorrow with Ange and Hodgins?"

"Oh, right. She called me about that. She says to dress nicely."

He groaned. "Any idea where we're going?"

"Nope," she lied, carefully focusing her attention back on her soup.

There was silence, and when she looked up he was watching her, one eyebrow raised and a slight smirk on his face.

"Right, Bones. Sure. Let me try again. Where are we going?"

She sighed. It really wasn't fair how easily he could see through her. "Some expensive restaurant with dancing after the meal."

"You can't lie to me, Bones," he teased. Then he mused, "Fancy restaurant, huh? I hope they don't expect me to be able to dance as well as all those ridiculous high-society people..."

"You dance quite well," she defended him from his own criticizing.

"Thanks, Bones. Hey, you're tv is coming in tomorrow... we never moved your furniture to make enough room on that wall."

"Oh," she replied, frowning as she realized the truth to his words. "What time are they coming?"

"Ha, Bones, that is the million dollar question."

She stared at him quizzically until he sighed and explained. "Phrase, Bones. It's a phrase. It means that no one knows when delivery people are going to show up. They always give you a time frame... one that tends to be vague and make you have house sitters lounging around your place for hours on end so there will be someone there when they come... only to find out they had a sudden extra delivery in the area and they got delayed... so they came three hours late instead and you have some very irritated friends who missed a party for your dumb furniture."

She got the idea that he was no longer describing a hypothetical situation, but rather one he'd experienced himself.

"So..." she said, "They could come at any time?"

"Pretty much."

"What if they come after five?" she asked, finding herself oddly concerned with missing the double-date. She was pretty sure it had something to do with the fact that a night out with Booth in an atmosphere where (hopefully) nothing could go wrong was something she really wanted, and something she might even be looking forward to.

"One thing they usually can do is keep to the morning or early afternoon. That shouldn't be a problem... we're not going to miss our date," he assured her with a grin.


"Yeah, um... I thought maybe you'd like some company when they deliver the tv?"

"I'd like that," she told him sincerely, and he beamed, squeezing her hand gently again.

"Thanks, Bones, I'm glad."

They talked quietly throughout the rest of the meal, but when they were finished and they both knew that with the time on the clock they really should be going, silence fell again.

"I should be getting back to my place I guess... I'll see you tomorrow at around nine?"

"Booth..." she said hesitantly, finding that she was touching his arm to keep him from stepping away from her.

He turned back to look in her eyes again, waiting for her to continue.

"I..." she bit her lip, not really sure what to say.

"Do you want me to drive you home?" he offered.

"No, I have... my car's here, I can't leave it... I just..."

"Ask," he murmured, his hand brushing a strand of her hair behind her ear as the other gently rested in her hand, their fingers slightly entwined.

"Will you come... keep my company tonight?" she whispered. "Just like last week... nothing changes?"

He nodded, "Of course I will, Bones. I told you... I miss you when I'm away from you for too long."

With those words he leaned forward and met her lips with his. She moved her lips with his, her free hand moving to the back of his head to rest in his hair. His arms were wrapped carefully around her; not too constricting but yet strong enough that she felt completely at ease and relaxed within their embrace.

They broke apart at last and stood like that, with their eyes connected. They didn't need words to say how they felt at that moment; the looks in each others' gazes was plenty.

"Drive carefully," he told her as he slid his arms away from her.

"I will," she promised.

And then they both hurried reluctantly into the rain, running to their respective cars and diving into the drivers' seats, still soaking wet despite their efforts to get into the safety of their vehicles as quickly as possible.

Her phone rang before she could even start the engine, and she picked it up in confusion, glancing over at Booth sitting in his SUV to see that he had his phone to his ear and he was looking back at her.

"Booth?" she asked, pressing her own phone to her ear.

"Hey, Bones, I'm gunna run to my place and get some things first... you okay with that? I'll be right over to your apartment as quick as I can."

"That's fine, Booth, get whatever you need. Just... thanks for coming."

He chuckled, "Bones, you have no idea how much I missed staying with you. Thank you."

She smiled as she hit the 'end' button, waved to him out her window, and then watched him pull out before following him.

She was already in her pajamas when he arrived. He changed in the bathroom and then hesitantly poked his head around the corner of her bedroom door. She smiled at him from where she sat cross-legged with her back against her pillow, and he grinned back and then walked in to come sit beside her.

She leaned against him, and he easily slid an arm around her.

After a while she repositioned herself under the covers to get more comfortable; it was late, and she really could use the sleep. He moved himself so he was lying next to her with his arm still warmly around her.

Knowing full well she was going against what she'd said herself about apologizing, she spoke up. "I'm sorry," she told him quietly.

"For what?" he asked in confusion.

"Not being able to give you what you probably want."

There was silence for a moment, probably as he tried to figure out what she was referring to. And then there was a groan from him as he understood.

"Bones..." he murmured.

She was pretty sure she must have some self-destructive part to her brain, because it always seemed to be there telling her there was a reason for her to be unhappy.

"Bones," he started again, "I've loved you for nearly four years. The fact you even know and you return those feelings is enough for me right now. I'm not going to lie, I do wish, but it's the same part of me wishing that wants you to have these things never happen to you. There's nothing to do about it, and there's nothing I'm going to do about it. I love you. I want you to be happy and comfortable and safe at all times."

She sighed and nodded, and then looked at him with thoughtful eyes.

"I really have to stop doing that," she murmured, referring to her way of destroying her own happiness with worries that he could so easily calm and turn meaningless.

"Yeah, you do," he agreed with a soft smile. Then he kissed the top of her head gently. "Get some sleep, Bones."

"Thanks," she murmured back sleepily. "I love you," she added in a whisper as she pressed herself against him and closed her eyes.

For the first time that week she blinked her eyes open and found that a sense of panic did not immediately surround her. Nor did images brought back by painful dreams. She turned her head to see his face right next to hers; his arms were curled around her almost protectively, and she had one of her own arms draped over him.

Probably feeling her slight movements, his eyes fluttered open as well. When they met hers a soft smile spread over his face. "Good morning, Bones."

"Morning, Booth," she replied.

She turned her head the other way to glance at her clock. Eight. She was really going to be in for a nasty wake-up call when it came time for her to return to work on Monday. Oddly, she found she was not looking forward to that idea. She was missing the lab, definitely, but the very concept of just waking up at five in the morning was incredibly unpleasant.

"We should probably get up," he said with a sigh, following her line of sight to the clock.

"Yeah," she agreed, but contradicted herself by pressing her head back up against his shoulder.

He chuckled softly. "C'mon Bones, I'll make breakfast," he told her as he gently extracted his arms from around her. She sighed and followed him out of the bedroom to the kitchen, shivering as her bare feet made contact with the icy floor.

"What are you going to make?" she asked, recalling the rather interesting attempt of his to make pancakes last week.

He mock-glared at her. "Don't go doubting my cooking abilities!"

She laughed, "I'm not! I'm going off of data gathered from past experiences!"

He shook his head at her as he pulled open her freezer and began to rifle through its contents.

"I'm going to shower and get changed... and when I come out I really hope my kitchen will still be intact," she told him.

"What, you think I'm going to light it on fire?" he teased. "Breakfast will be ready when you come back," he added with a smile before turning his attention back to her freezer.

She could already smell whatever it was he was cooking, and surprisingly no burning smell accompanying it, when she stepped out of the shower and pulled on a simple outfit, just a white blouse and a pair of jeans. She took her time blow-drying her hair, certain that her kitchen was probably a disaster and he'd need time to clean it up and make it presentable again.

She couldn't quite identify what it was he was cooking from the smell, but it did have a definite appeal to it, so she wasn't dreading what she was going to find when she finally reentered the kitchen.

He turned around and grinned at her, plates in hand, when he heard her come in. She raised her eyebrows, impressed, as he placed her dish in front of her. Waffles topped with whip cream, nuts, and strawberries. She'd have been better without the whip cream, but... after the first bite she changed her mind. It was worth it, for once, no matter how ridiculously unhealthy or artificial it was.

"This is very good... thank you, Booth."

"No problem, Bones. I'm glad I could do something that makes you happy."

She smiled back at him, popping another whip-cream-covered strawberry into her mouth.

He smirked. "You got a bit of cream on your face, Bones."

"What? Where?" she asked, licking her lips. She reached her hand to her face, brushing at her lips in search of it.

"Let me help," he suggested, and he leaned across and pressed his lips against hers.

She was laughing as he pulled away, "Booth!" she cried, grabbing a napkin, "I think you added whipped cream!"

He chuckled. "Maybe, but I didn't think you'd mind."

She laughed again, dropping the napkin next to her plate. "Good point."

When they'd finished and the kitchen was successfully sparkling once more; it hadn't been as much of a disaster as she'd expected, but it had been pretty close; they headed to the living room on his suggestion and began working together to rearrange her furniture in preparation for the television delivery.

Surprisingly they were relatively on-time; they arrived at about eleven, and Booth and her had been just getting started on the search for something to eat for lunch in her kitchen. Booth was thrilled with the turn in events, seeing as they could now run out for take-out or head to the Diner, but she was pretty sure she saw a bit of disappointment in his reaction as well. As if he'd almost been hoping they'd be late so he could show her he was right about that.

It was quick work, and the two workers easily installed the tv on her wall within a half hour. They were going to teach her how to use the controllers as well, but Booth assured them he knew what he was doing, and they headed off, leaving them with the instruction manuals and a phone number they could call for customer support.

Booth actually did know what he was doing, and he was rather offended at how surprised she was of that fact. He had the tv running and a baseball game playing ten minutes later, and he was already starting to explain the function of each button to her when the phone rang and interrupted them.

She knew it was Ange before she even picked up; it always was her whenever it wasn't Booth.

"Hi sweetie! I hear Booth in the background, so I won't keep you long. I'll be there at three, and unfortunately I'm going to have to ask the G-man to leave for that time. I figured you'd need some help getting ready and all... so I went shopping for you!" She sounded so excited that it should be criminal.

"Ange, you didn't have to do that; I have clothes, you know."

"Yeah, I know... but I had fun, so don't worry about it."

"Why do we need two hours, anyways?"

"Hair, makeup... girl-talk. Just don't question me, okay, Bren?"

She rolled her eyes and then shot a glare at Booth, who was grinning teasingly at her.

"I'll be there at three. And you can fill me in on how it went last night with Booth."

She agreed, not finding herself looking forward to two hours of interrogation, even if all the news she had to give was good, because those two hours were going to be filled with all sorts of unnecessary preparations. She didn't want to spend such a long time just to look nice. Although... her mind reflected back on the look on Booth's face when she was going to that Jeffersonian event in a nice dress, when they were in Las Vegas and she had that black dress, and on Halloween when she'd been in her Wonder Woman costume.

Okay, maybe it was worth it, if she got to see him look at her like that... and this time she could look for it, and recognize it for what it was. That he really thought she was beautiful in the aspect that he loved her. Not just in that he thought she looked nice as his partner.

"Angela?" Booth asked once she'd ended the conversation, obviously knowing he was right. She nodded.

"Yeah. She's says you have to be gone by three."

His face fell in disappointment, but then picked back up again. "Let's get some lunch, Bones, and then I'll let you get ready with Ange. I suppose I have to get ready too, huh? Do you think she expects a suit and tie, or a full tux?"

"Tux," she said with a firm nod. If she was going to be all dressed up and fancy then she definitely wanted him to be as well. Besides, he looked very dashing in a tux, and she also didn't want to listen to the reprimanding she'd get from Ange if she failed to inform him of what his expected dress code was.

He sighed, but pulled her to her feet, clicked the tv off, and led her to the door.

"Thai or Diner?" he questioned.

"Thai," she decided.

He grinned in agreement and then opened the door for her.

"And I'll drive," she added, snatching the keys from his hand after he'd just barely pulled them out of his pocket. With a wide smile she dashed down the stairs before he could object, and she heard his laughter following her to the parking garage.

They chose to eat at the small Thai place rather than returning to her apartment, and they almost lost track of time, as lost in their conversation as they were. It was Booth who noticed what time it was when his gaze strayed to the wall behind them and he happened to catch sight of the tacky Coca-Cola clock that hung there.

"Whoa, Bones, it's quarter of three!"

She jumped and followed his line of sight to the clock, feeling like she had to see it herself to prove it was really that late. She hadn't realized that the hours had sped by so quickly. How on earth had that happened?

"Come on," he said, getting up from the booth and helping her with her coat. Unfortunately, although today the rain had let up slightly, it was still rather dreary outside, with an annoying chill in the air that made them both shiver as they stepped out into it.

He wrapped an arm around her and pulled her up against his side as they walked to their cars.

"I really should have picked you up and drove you here," he said with a sigh, obviously hating the fact that they couldn't be in the same vehicle.

"Well I have to go meet Ange anyways. You should probably head back to your apartment until five," she suggested, hearing the disappointment ringing in her voice. He undoubtedly heard it as well, because he kissed her softly and smiled reassuringly.

"See you at five," he promised. "I'd stick around your place... but I think Ange would kill me if I did. And she can be scary, sometimes, you know."

"Yeah, I know," she laughed. "Five," she confirmed as she opened her car door and climbed in. He raised his hand in a sad farewell and watched her back out before he climbed into the SUV and followed. They went opposite ways from the Thai place, so she didn't have his familiar headlights in her rearview the whole drive. She found she missed that. But she could handle two hours. And Ange was sure to make them so full of preparations that she wouldn't really have much time to think about much of anything, even him.

That was a pretty accurate prediction, it turned out, because Ange was actually already waiting for her, inside her apartment, when she arrived. She'd almost forgotten that her best friend had a key, so it took her by surprise to open the door and hear footsteps and movement in her bathroom.

But Ange had been very quick to pop her smiling face around the corner.

"I think we'll start with hair," she had said, not bothering with a greeting.

"Ange, did you ever consider that maybe I don't want to look like some sort of supermodel? That maybe I really don't want everyone staring at me?"

Angela winced at that. "Sorry, Bren," she apologized, but it didn't stop her from gently shoving her into the chair she'd already set up and shaking a can of hair spray in one hand while holding a hairbrush like a weapon in the other. "You know, you told me that you don't like people acting different around you." She maneuvered herself around so she was in front of her and their eyes were meeting. "This is what I'd normally do. But... sweetie, if you really don't feel comfortable, let me know. Got it? I think you're going to enjoy yourself tonight though, which is why I even did this in the first place."

She sighed and decided not to argue again. As usual, Ange had a very clear idea of how her brain worked, and how much she could handle. She was right when she said this was what she'd normally do. It was so very Angela-like. She had to admit she was grateful for that. Between her and Booth things had changed; they hadn't altered for the worse, but they had... changed. With Cam, there was a definite sense of hesitation as to how to act around her, and with Hodgins... well he was trying to remain professional like they had been, but she caught his concerned or sorrowful looks every now and then and they were rather hard to ignore. Ange was the only one who hadn't altered her behavior, or at least not enough that Temperance picked up on it. That was a relief. Something stable and familiar in the midst of the disaster of confusion she'd been shoved into as of late.

So she relaxed and tried not to think about what Angela was doing, closing her eyes as she felt the comb dig into her hair. The occasional coldness of the hair spray was only a slight disturbance.

She'd actually almost fallen asleep before Ange pulled her back to alertness with a conversation starter.

"I think Hodgins might ask me to marry him again," she said.

"Really?" she asked in surprise. It was rather soon, since they'd only realized they still wanted to be together a short while ago.

"Yeah. You know him... he never really got over what happened to pull us apart."

"Neither did you," she mused.

Ange sighed, "You're right, sweetie. I never did get over losing him... even with Roxie around."

She continued to style Temperance's hair in some complex way. She was beginning to get a bit fidgety, finding that she rather disliked how Ange had turned her so her back was to the mirror.

"So what makes you think he will ask?"

"Sweetie, he proposed enough times when we were going out before that I've sort of gotten the hang of understanding the look in his eyes. He always had this bit of a nervous twitch, or sometimes he'd get all jumpy when I'd show up and he didn't hear me coming. Always right before he was going to ask again. I can tell, believe me."

"Are you going to say yes?" she asked slightly cautiously, knowing that they were heading into a more touchy conversation.

Ange thought for a moment in silence, and Temperance waited as she combed a part of her hair over to the other side. Finally her friend spoke again.

"Yeah, I'm going to say yes, Bren," she said. Temperance got the feeling that she hadn't really allowed herself to really think about what she'd decide up until that moment. "I mean... I love him, and he loves me... and we already almost lost what we had once. I just don't see why I wouldn't agree to marry him. I still... I still really wish it had worked out that first time, although I think we both really gained a lot of perspective from what happened between the time we broke it off and now. Like... we both understand a lot better now about what it would be like if we weren't together, if we moved on without one another... and we both realized that we don't want it to happen. So much so that we might actually be stronger now. Does that make sense?"

She nodded slightly, trying not to mess up whatever it was her friend was doing, but not really wanting to speak up and use her voice to ruin the moment Ange was having. She'd clearly just done a lot of thinking about her relationship and her life in a very short expanse of time.

"I still want kids," she continued thoughtfully. "And I think I'm more ready for them now, too. Guess my free-spirited heart is starting to settle down, huh?"

She smiled softly. "Seems like it, Ange," she said.

"So what's in the plans for you and Booth?" she asked, finally pulling the conversation in this inevitable direction. It was not unexpected by her at all.

"Ange, I really don't know," she stressed, hoping that maybe her friend would drop this and move on to something else. It didn't work.

"Are you still thinking that monogamy isn't possible, though?"

"No," she sighed, "I... gave up on that a while ago. Admittedly, in most situations, it's illogical, irrational... but I just don't find an interest in meeting new people now. And... I don't want to, either. I mean, I have Booth... I've always had Booth... and he's the only one who's ever stayed by me and not..."

"He's the only one who hasn't abandoned you," Ange finished softly for her. "I know, sweetie. And I know he never will... or he will face my wrath," she added firmly.

"Thanks, Ange," she said. She knew that Booth wasn't going anywhere, but it was still nice to hear her friend say she would have her back if something horrible did occur.

"What about kids?" Ange asked innocently.

She sighed again, deeper than the first time. This was another topic she really didn't want to consider now.

"Having children... is not currently on my list of important things," she told her as calmly as she could.

"And in a few years..?"

"Ange, I really don't know."

The subject was quickly dropped.

"You'll be my maid of honor again, won't you?" her friend asked, bringing the conversation back to herself again. Temperance was relieved. It was far easier to talk about her friend than it was to talk about her own life.

"Of course," she answered, "Thank you for wanting me to be."

"You're my best friend. Of course I want you to be there for me in the place of highest honor. I'm sure Hodgins will ask Booth to be his best man again, too."

"Yeah," she agreed. Who else was Hodgins going to pick, after all? A pang of sadness went through her at the reminder of Zach's absence... something she hadn't thought about in a long time... something she really didn't want to focus on. It was still painful to think about.

"Okay... I'm almost done," Ange told her, the center of attention going back to her hair rather than their romantic lives.

She waited apprehensively for the final word, wondering what she now looked like. Ange had a habit of going to the extreme when it came to these things. She really hoped it wasn't hopelessly extravagant. She really just wanted something simple but pleasing. To be honest she'd have been fine with some curls put in framing her face and the rest of her hair in a bun. But Ange was not one to be reasoned with.

"Done!" Ange exclaimed proudly. She moved to stand, but her friend was grabbing the arms of her chair to turn it around. She stepped out of the way and beamed at the reflection of what she would probably refer to as her latest masterpiece.

Temperance stared at herself in shock for a long moment, unable to say even a word. Ange had managed to create some complex swirl on the back of her head that was just slightly visible when she tilted her head to the side as she looked in the mirror. She had a side bang across the right side of her face that ended in a curl. It wasn't even as complicated or intricate as she'd been expecting, and yet she had to say Ange had done a stunning job.

"Wow," she managed to get out. Ange beamed at her.

"You like it?" she asked.

"Yes... thank you, Ange," she told her sincerely.

"I think Booth's going to like it, too," Ange added, still grinning widely. "Okay, now let's get you changed and get to work on the makeup..."

She sounded like she was enjoying this way too much.

"What about you?" she asked, trying to pull the attention away from herself again. "Don't you have to do your hair and get ready?"

Ange waved a hand dismissively. "We've still got over an hour... I've got more than enough time."

She proceeded to pull her out of the bathroom and back to the living room, where a previously unnoticed dress was lying across the back cushions of her couch.

Ange held it up and passed it to her. "Put it on," she said, leaving no room for a debate or a refusal. Then she gave her a push towards her bedroom and even shut the door behind her.

She sighed once she was inside, but decided it would be best to just get it on quickly rather than stalling. After all, Booth was going to arrive at five no matter how long she took, and she didn't want to make Ange late, when her friend was taking such great pains to make this some sort of perfect night.

And besides... she could really use a perfect night. Or as close to perfect as was possible for her.

She changed into the dress, not really shocked that it fit perfectly, seeing as Ange had pleasured in clothes shopping for her on more than one occasion before this. It was a deep blue, and fell just below her knees at a slight angle. The sleeves were a slightly lighter material of the same color and were only long enough to reach just above halfway down her upper arm. The v-neck was low but not revealing at all.

Ange knew exactly what she was doing, even now in this different situation. She shook her head in amazement at her friend's talent before she opened the door and faced the still-grinning Angela, who looked her up and down approvingly, clearly pleased with her appearance.

"You look wonderful, sweetie," she told her happily. "Now, put on these shoes and let's just finish off with that touch of makeup... then I'll get all set to go... and we can wait for your FBI man and Hodgins together. I told him to meet us here, so he'll be here at around five, too. No problem."

She found herself dragged into the bathroom again, but once more chose not to protest, instead pulling on the high-heels, which matched the dress almost perfectly and looked quite nice while Angela began pulling out every bit of makeup she owned, as well as adding some of the things she'd brought with her to the mix.

This time at least Ange let her do most of it herself, even though she kept butting in with suggestions and occasionally simply just snatching the makeup from her fingers and adding more or taking some away. This was all an expected part of being treated like Ange's life-size Barbie doll.

When they were finished she was pleased with the results, and Ange seemed satisfied as well. Her eyes were pretty well highlighted, and the blue stood out in perfect harmony with the blue of her dress, something she was certain Ange had been planning from the moment she bought the garment.

"Okay, you go get some jewelry, and I'll get myself ready," Ange told her, and then shut herself in the bathroom with her own dress, a shorter one all in a reddish-orange, but with slightly see through sleeves and a much lower neck.

She found herself struggling to do the task appointed to her, since almost all of her jewelry consisted of things she'd gotten on her travels. She loved her bulky-beaded necklaces and her large and clunky earrings, but she had a feeling Ange would not approve if she saw her wearing any of them.

She dug through what little else she had, and was pleased to find that she actually owned a set of rather nice dangling earrings that were silver and not at all bulky or in the range that Ange described as being 'not suitable for anything romantic.'

She couldn't find a nice necklace, though, and gave up on that search. Ange was out of the bathroom with remarkable speed, having no doubt become very adept at getting ready for these things with all her previous experience getting ready for parties and dates and such.

Her friend looked stunning in the red dress, and her hair was up in a stylish bun that was a bit more complex than the one she'd given Temperance. She had on a nice necklace with a diamond-studded heart hanging on it, presumably a gift from Hodgins, and her earrings were diamond as well.

"What have you been doing?" Ange asked, seeing her with only the earrings on. "You don't seriously plan to go without a necklace, do you? It's just... wrong. Come on, let's see what you have..."

They spent the next five minutes digging through what little she had, until Ange was forced to give in and admit defeat.

"We are going shopping," she told her firmly, as if it was some sort of punishment for not having anything suitable already. Technically, it would be like a punishment, she mused. She was not a fan of jewelry shopping.

They were out of time to do much else though, because it was only a short ways away from five and she had a pretty good feeling that Booth would show up early.

Ange admired the new tv and her new living room arrangement while they waited, something she'd neglected earlier because she'd been so intent on getting them both ready.

A knock at the door signified the arrival of one of their 'dates' and Ange hurried to get the door. Unshockingly, it was Booth, and Angela didn't seem at all surprised by this fact either. It seemed that she was expecting Hodgins to be late, actually.

"Whoa," Booth muttered, his eyes flicking past the initial surprise of the gorgeous Angela to land on her. He grinned and stepped inside, walking straight to her. "You look... wow."

She smiled back at him. "Thanks. You too," she added, looking him up and down approvingly. He looked quite dashing in his tuxedo.

He grinned softly, and then tilted his head and kissed her warmly on the lips. She put her arms around him, but they were interrupted by a squealing sound.

"Sorry," Ange squeaked, her eyes huge and bright and her grin covering half her face. "Pretend I'm not here," she added, hurrying off into the kitchen. Temperance was pretty sure she would be watching around the corner, but she didn't care. She turned her attention back to Booth, who's eyes connected with hers caringly.

Then they went back to what they'd been doing.

This time they were interrupted by another knock on the door. Booth pulled away and rested his forehead against hers for a moment before he went and let Hodgins in.

"Hey, man," the entomologist greeted him. "Ange is in there somewhere, right?"

"Here!" Angela called, appearing in the living room and skipping to his side eagerly. "Ready to go?" she asked all of them.

Booth was way too busy smiling at her, and he hadn't seemed to have even heard Ange, so she answered for both of them. "Yes, we're all set."

Ange took Hodgins' hand and led the way out, and she followed, Booth wrapping an arm around her waist.

"I always think you're beautiful, Bones," he murmured in her ear as they headed down to Hodgins' car, "But tonight you look really amazing."

She turned her head to smile at him, and he caught her lips with his for a brief second before they were forced to catch up with the other two.

The ride was generally silent, with Hodgins driving and the two of them in the backseat with their hands entwined across the middle seat. Ange was watching them happily in the rearview mirror.

"Hey, um... Bones?" Booth asked, stopping her just outside the doors to the restaurant.

"We'll wait inside," Ange said, grabbing Hodgins arm and dragging him in with her, casting an encouraging look at Booth, even though it was unlikely that she knew what it was he was going to say.

"Yes, Booth?" she asked when they were alone.

He looked at the ground, scratching the back of his head with one hand, and she suddenly felt afraid. What exactly did he have to tell her? His eyes went back up to meet hers, and he smiled softly.

"Promise you won't be mad at me?" he asked.

"That depends," she replied, anxiety eating at her.

He sighed, obviously knowing that it was the best answer he was going to get on that question. He reached into his tuxedo and pulled out a long flat box.

"I know you hate gifts," he said apologetically, "But I... wanted to get you something. Please accept it?"

Her eyes widened. "That's what you were acting so nervous about? You bought me something and you were worried I'd be mad at you?"

He laughed slightly, "Yeah," he admitted.

"You've gotten me things before," she told him quietly. "Jasper. Brainy Smurf."

He stared at her in slight shock. "You remember those?"

"Of course!" she exclaimed incredulously. How could he possibly think those things weren't her most treasured possessions? "Booth, I love your gifts. They... they mean a lot to me. I... um... I actually have Jasper next to my lamp on my nightstand."

"Seriously?" he asked, frowning slightly as though confused at how he'd missed that.

"I put it away whenever you come over," she told him. "I... wasn't sure what you'd think. Especially before we were... before this."

"I'm really touched, Bones," he said sincerely, his hand brushing her face as he gave her one short kiss to emphasize his words. "Here. I hope you like it."

He held the box out to her and she took it gently, curiously pulling it open. He reached forward and pulled it out by the chain, which was made of fine gold links so small that they were barely discernable from one another. It flowed easily across his palm as he held it up so she could see what hung on the end.

It was a golden hexagon with a missing center. In the empty space, hanging by a barely visible thread so that they appeared to be floating in the middle, were two fancily written intertwined B's.

She gasped as she saw that, and her eyes flicked from the piece of jewelry to his face.

He smiled as he lifted it up more so she could see it better. She almost gasped again as she realized the sides of the hexagon were actually bones connected to one another at the joints. She smiled softly, reaching out so that the piece rested in the palm of her hand.

"You should have seen the look I got when I requested that," he joked lightly. "Here..." he added, lifting it back up and stepping around behind her to put it around her neck. "It's suits you," he murmured as he put his arms around her from behind and rested his head in her hair.

"The center must hold, right?" she whispered, lifting it up from where it now hung to admire it more closely.

"Yeah," he answered. "And you and me... we're gunna hold, Bones."

She gently let it fall back down onto her skin, and then turned herself so she was facing him directly again. "Thank you, Booth. I really love it." She kissed him again, and then smiled and put her arm through his before leading the way into the restaurant, the little golden piece sparkling brightly.

Ange actually lost her interest in the two of them at the dinner table, her focus more so on Hodgins, who was quick to find ways to make her smile or laugh. Booth kept the conversation going between all four of them, so that it wasn't as if they were here as just couples who could care less about the others, something that probably would have seemed more true if he hadn't stepped in. But she found that she was just as happy for Ange and Hodgins as she was about everything else that night.

The food didn't take long to arrive, and it was just as delicious as Ange had promised it to be. Booth naturally got a steak, and Hodgins got something similar. Ange was enjoying her chicken parmesan with Caesar salad on the side.

Booth had even helped her pick out something vegetarian from the menu, rather than teasing her about how meat was necessary for any reasonable diet as he used to do so frequently. Her salad was impressive and quite pleasing to her palate, one of the best she'd ever had before, and the steaming vegetables she'd gotten on the side were very well cooked and seasoned. She would definitely consider returning here in the future.

When they were finished eating and the plates had been cleared away, Booth stood and held out his hand, smiling at her. She took it in her own and stood as well. Nearby, Hodgins and Angela were already dancing, and it wasn't long before they were lost in the small crowd of other diners who'd moved onto the dance floor.

"Can I have this dance?" he asked gallantly just as the song changed to a slow waltz.

"Yes, you may," she answered, laughing softly as he swept her out further onto the floor. He cautiously rested a hand on her waist, and then began to lead. She let him, even though she usually found it hard to be just the follower. This was Booth. She was perfectly happy following along and enjoying the ride.

It was even more relaxing than she'd expected it to be, this evening of dancing. It was impossibly easy to get so caught up in their movements and the feel of his arms holding her, and she found herself forgetting everything else; all her worries and fears of what the future would bring seemed to vanish with her eyes and his connected.

She barely even registered the presence of the other dancers as they moved elegantly in between them.

The music changed regularly, but that didn't affect either of them in the slightest. They simply adjusted their movements to those that fit the new song. At one point he twirled her around and then she found herself turned back to him as the movement pulled her up against him for a moment.

They paused as their lips met, but picked back up the dance only a moment later, both smiling at each other.

A friendly young man asked to cut in sometime during the night, but Booth glanced at her and then shook his head at him. "Sorry," he said simply, and the man simply nodded, offered a small smile, and vanished back into the whirl of dancing partners. Assumably whoever he was with had stepped aside for a moment to maybe dance with another of their friends.

No one else asked to cut in, presumably seeing the two of them so lost in each other that it would be considered as impolite to even interrupt. She caught site of Ange dancing with an older man, and a slightly flustered Hodgins accompanying the older woman he'd been with.

Booth steered them over as the two got back to one another, giving her a look that she knew meant a question. She nodded slightly, realizing what he was going to do.

He smiled at her, and then gently let go of her and bowed, with a wide smile, to Angela, who laughed and accepted his offer to dance. Hodgins hesitantly offered his hand to her as the other two danced a short ways away.

She gave him a reassuring smile and took his hand. She had a feeling she knew why Booth had done this, and although she wasn't really sure how this would turn out, she was grateful for his attempt. He must've seen the awkward tension between her and her colleague, and wanted to help resolve it and get them back to being the close friends they had been before everything.

She let him lead, something she was certain he hadn't been expecting, and he turned out to be a far better dancer then she would have expected. It wasn't like she'd been watching him and Ange tonight, so she hadn't really known what to expect. He just didn't seem like the type that would be talented at this sort of thing. He was, though.

"You don't have to worry about me, you know," she told him calmly as they moved about on the dance floor.

His eyes widened in surprise. "Wh-what?"

"You don't have to worry about me," she repeated. "But I'm grateful for your concern," she added.

He looked flustered, but he nodded anyways. "I... I just..." he sighed, "Sorry, Dr. B. I didn't expect that you'd... notice. I admit that I was... concerned for you."

"It's fine," she assured him. "Thank you, though. For... being worried. It means a lot to me. You're a good friend, you know," she murmured.

"Thanks," he stammered. "You... you are, too."

She smiled at him. "Ange is lucky to have you," she whispered just before she pulled away from him and was easily caught back in Booth's arms. She'd seen him waiting for her. Ange took Hodgins' hand back, grinned at her and Booth, and then the two of them vanished again.

She turned her gaze back to her partner. "Thanks," she told him.

"For what?" he asked innocently.

She laughed softly, and then pulled him back into dance as a slower song came on.

His arms were warm and strong around her... protective and full of love. Right then, she didn't want it to ever end, no matter how illogical it was. She wanted to stay in his arms for all time, and feel just like this.

This was what she'd always felt around him, this safety and care, but it was never stronger or more evident then it was to her at that moment. Her icy blue gaze met his melted chocolate one, and his gentle smile lit up his features as he bent his head to rest slightly next to hers, his mouth beside her ear.

"I love you," he whispered softly, his warm breath tickling the skin on her neck. He pulled back to meet her eyes again, and she answered with the same words, saying them with a conviction that she now meant more than she'd ever meant any other time in her life. She knew it was true, she knew what it meant, and she knew that she wanted for the rest of her life for it to be true.

"I love you, too, Booth."

His forehead rested against hers as he murmured, "Forever, Bones," and then pressed his lips to hers.

And... for once the possibility of forever didn't seem so impossible. Didn't seem so hard to reach. They were never going to lose this; that was something that she had to believe, and that she did with everything within her.


I hope you've enjoyed this story, maybe even loved it, as much as I have. It was just such a joy to work on, and even more of an excitement to see that others appreciated my work. Those of you who have reviewed or PMed or maybe both, I love all of you.

Special thanks go to Labyrinth01- This would be a completely different story without you, and one I doubt I could truly love as much as this one. I don't think I can ever thank you enough for your help. IrigD- Always looked forward to your messages and your reviews throughout this. Thanks so much! PhantomKnight88- I truly appreciate all the long reviews. Thanks :)

There are so many more of you, but I can't put them all. Just a great big thanks to: ilovemclife, ariacle, DakotaaB., Ptitange99, mycroft216, Gaia 479, Account Not Found, ayebaybay, johnnywas, wolfbane17, BonesBooksandBooth, aigneadh, BonesnBooth, jirsace, Angeldream05, Robinhoodfan13, IConcurVehemently, Liria247...

It goes on and on :) Sorry if you don't see your name here but you reviewed... I just can't put everyone :( *is sad*... *Gives everyone who reviewed a big hug*

Seriously, though, this has been so great. :)

Okay, now what I know you really want to hear about... the first chapter of the sequel, titled What Brings Them Together, is up right now. Hope you will all really enjoy it.

Thanks again! Hope to hear from all of you during the sequel as well :)