Thanks for the support for my previous fics. I know I haven't replied to everyone who reviewed, but I will reply! The following contains spoilers for any episode through, 'Mayhem on a Cross.' Enjoy!
"That was an excellent meal, Dr. Wyatt," Brennan said as she wiped her mouth with a napkin and put it on her plate.
"Thank you, Dr. Brennan. I hope I can call upon your taste buds in the future." Wyatt stood and picked up his plate.
"Leave it there," Booth told him. "I'll take care of it later."
"I couldn't possibly leave such a mess," Wyatt replied.
"I'll help Booth," Brennan offered. "You cooked for us; it's only fair that we clean up."
"Okay, if you're sure."
"Yeah, Bones and I have got it covered," Booth supplied as he also stood and picked up his plate. Booth took the plate from Wyatt and walked to the kitchen where he put the plates on the counter.
Brennan joined him carrying more plates. They retrieved the rest of the dishes from the table and put them on the counter.
"If you're sure there's nothing further for me to do, I think I should be heading home," Wyatt said from the doorway. "I can't keep the hours I did during my rock and roll days."
"No, we're good. Thank you, Dr. Wyatt. For everything," Booth said as he moved to shake the doctor's hand.
"My pleasure, Agent Booth," Wyatt replied, returning the handshake and adding a smile. "Dr. Brennan," he said as his attention turned to her. "It's been a delight. There's one last thing I'd like you to do--try not to let Agent Booth shoot any more inanimate objects," he finished with another smile.
"Obviously, I can't control Booth's actions--" She stopped when she realized she'd been too literal. Again. "But I'll do my best to make sure Booth only shoots people."
Wyatt and Booth chuckled, and Sweets joined Wyatt in the doorway.
Sweets had been unusually quiet during dinner, slowly pushing food around his plate and thinking about the childhood snippets Brennan and Booth shared with him earlier in the evening. And then there was the thing with Booth's handkerchief…
"I hate to cut this short, but I've not been much company, and I think I need some time to myself. Sorry, guys," Sweets said.
Booth and Brennan exchanged a look--one that did not go unnoticed by either psychologist.
"You can stay if you want, Sweets," Booth said.
"Thanks," Sweets sighed. "But, no. Rain check?"
"Sure," Brennan replied for Booth.
"I'll walk out with you, Dr. Sweets," Wyatt said. "No need to show us out, Agent Booth. We'll find our way."
"Bye!" Booth and Brennan called as they heard Booth's door open.
The door closed behind the psychologists, and Brennan turned on the sink and began to rinse the crumbs from the plates.
"You don't have to do that, Bones. I'll get them later."
"It'll go faster if you let me help you. I'll rinse them off, and you put them in the dishwasher."
She went back to rinsing the dishes, and he fell into place beside here. They worked silently until all the dishes, pots, and utensils were rinsed and loaded in the dishwasher. Before he closed the dishwasher door, he removed a plate.
"Here," he said as he handed her the plate.
"Did I miss something?" she asked as she took the plate from him.
"Then why did you give the plate back to me?"
"I want you to drop it."
"Break it. Let it fall from your hands and shatter into a million pieces."
"The chances of it actually shattering into a million pieces are quite slim. And I'm not going to intentionally break one of your plates."
She sighed and rolled her eyes. "Because it's silly and you'd be short a plate. Besides, what purpose would it serve?"
She clutched the plate and turned away from him but stopped when he touched her arm and stepped closer to her.
"I don't care about the plate, but I do care about you," he told her matter-of-factly.
She'd been unable to look at him through out the entire conversation, but she suddenly found herself staring into his eyes.
"In Sweets' office, I saw how fragile and vulnerable you are," he continued.
"I only said that because it's what Sweets wanted to hear. And I'm not fragile or vulnerable."
"We were there on our time, not Sweets'. He didn't expect you to say anything."
Brennan sighed and looked away.
"I'm not trying to make you mad, Bones," Booth said softly. "But I saw your tears--they were very real. You're still in pain because of what your foster parents did to you. The only way to let go of the pain is to drop the plate."
"I don't see how repeating my action will be beneficial."
"I know you hate psychology, but just trust me, okay?"
After a prolonged moment of inaction, Brennan sighed again and nodded, her eyes once more locking with Booth's.
He rubbed her arm lightly. "Just let go, Bones," he whispered softly.
They both watched as she unclenched her hands, and the plate crashed to the floor, shattering--though not into a million pieces--upon impact.
Booth reacted a fraction of a second faster than Brennan and quickly pulled her into a hug.
Brennan's surprise gave way to acceptance, and she wrapped her arms around him.
Booth pulled her closer, pieces of the broken plate crunching beneath their feet.
"This is what your foster parents should have done, Bones," he whispered as he gently stroked her back. "They should have told you that it was just a plate. That a plate can be replaced, but there's only one Temperance Brennan."
Tears overflowed from her eyes and soaked his shirt as they continued to hold each other. Neither knew how long they stood there--time wasn't a priority.
Brennan pulled away first and sniffled, eyes red and puffy. "Thank you, Booth," she whispered as she offered a small smile.
He returned the smile. "Anytime, Bones."
"I'm glad your grandfather was there for you." Her hand came up and touched the wet spot on Booth's shirt. "Sorry about your shirt and the plate."
"No apologies." He paused. "Do you feel better?"
"Yes," she replied with a sniffle.
"Then it was worth it. The shirt will dry, and I've got more plates."
She half-laughed. "Will you at least let me clean it up?"
Booth shook his head. "Not a chance, but I'll be happy to listen if you want to talk."
"I'm okay," she told him. "Do you want to talk about your grandfather?"
Booth chuckled. "No, not really."
"Okay. How about we just go sit on the couch in companionable silence?"
"Sounds like a plan," he agreed with a smile.
Broken plates and thoughts of suicide were parts of their pasts, but together, they could begin healing their hearts.
Thanks for reading! I haven't watched 'Double Death' yet, but look for the post-ep for that one tomorrow!