Chapter 19

Booth pulled up outside Brennan's apartment. He sprinted across the sidewalk.

"Hey Booth!" Booth turned to see Max standing there with an armful of Thai food. He handed Booth the food, winked and walked away. Moments later Booth knocked on her door.

"Go away!" Brennan called from the couch.

"Its Booth."

"I know."

"I have food."

"Not hungry."

"I'll break down the door."

"That will hurt your shoulder."

"I'll do it anyway."

"You have a key."

"Oh...yeah." There was a rustle and then Brennan heard the key turn in the lock. She was on her feet. She walked into the kitchen to retrieve dishes and flatware. Booth set the boxes of food on the coffee table. "Max met me in front of your building." Booth said sheepishly. Brennan set the dishes on the coffee table and walked back toward the kitchen. Booth followed her. "I really need to talk to you."

"Obviously." She said, quickening her pace. Booth darted forward and placed his hand against the wall, shoulder level, blocking her egress. She turned and his other hand was already blocking her way. She flattened her back against the wall getting as much space as she could. Booth leaned slightly onto his hands, bringing his face level with hers. She weighed possible action. She didn't have the space to get enough force for a headbutt, it wouldn't work anyway, she'd seen a British sculler nearly knock himself out, claiming Booth's head was 'like a boulder'. She was pinned too closely to get enough leverage to shove him backward. Any strikes delivered to his lower abdomen would just be an annoyance or cause him to fall forward onto her. All that was left were desperate strikes to burst his ear drums or crush the cricoid cartilage around his trachea. He would see her shoulder shift and she really didn't want to send him to the hospital.

Booth fought to remain in control. Their faces were so close he could feel her body heat on his cheek. He could smell her shampoo, her perfume, the smell of the lab in her clothes. Booth's breath was fast and shallow, not from exertion, but adrenaline. His pulse was racing. He could see that Brennan wasn't breathing any deeper, and he could see her pulse racing through a small artery in her neck. He took a deep breath, steadying himself.

"Bones, we're partners, friends; we can't have this tension. Its going to get us fired or killed."

"I know." She whispered, still not meeting his gaze. He shifted his weight onto his left arm and brought his right hand to her cheek. Instead of using the second knuckle on his right forefinger, he placed his palm on her cheek with his thumb under her chin. He gently lifted her face up and looked in her eyes. She looked back, tears filling her clear blue eyes. Her eyes held fear, desperation, longing, and love. Booth could feel his eyes stinging, he knew tears were filling his eyes too. Brennan held her breath. She could see his eyes were filled with emotion. She couldn't list them as easily as Booth, but she could see that he was scared, and was worried about her, there was the usual warmth, and something more. The intensity in his eyes made her heart hurt. Booth could take no more. He closed his eyes and let his forehead rest lightly on hers. She closed her eyes and exhaled. The contact made it easier for them to breathe.

"That was really mean, ganging up on us like that." Booth whispered. "They didn't need to say that stuff about your family, about Zach. Its one thing to deal with it all when you are prepared, but to spring it on you when you aren't expecting it is harsh. They shouldn't have done that. "

"I'm okay." Brennan sighed.

"You are not okay, Bones." Booth's heart ached as he felt her tears moisten his hand. "You're crying."

"I...it's just..."

"Shhhh, just listen Bones. What Angela said about family, was right. We are family, all of us. I told you that before. Its okay to love your family. I know its hard for you to use the word love, I know what you are afraid of. We aren't going to leave you."

"Zach did."

"No, he didn't. He made a mistake, but he's still here with us. You visit him all the time."

"But he's not working with me anymore."

"Bones...Temperance...they were right. We get comfortable, think we have everything in control, you and I. We don't want anything to change. The change happens, happened, without us. Why can't we talk about how we feel? You're my partner, you've saved my life, but I can't admit how much I care for you." A sharp intake of breath from Brennan told Booth that this is what she feared. "Cam is right, I'm afraid if I admit, if anyone knows, how much you mean to me that I won't be able to protect you. That I'll lose you." Brennan let out a strangled sob. "I'm really sorry that I crossed the line. I betrayed your trust. I'm really angry with myself for taking advantage of you like that. You are such a beautiful woman...I...I lost...I shouldn't have..." Booth took a deep breath, "I'm sorry."

"Booth"

"Sh, I know why you were angry with me, I know I broke my promise. I let bad guys get to you, I crossed the line. You have no reason to have faith in me but I'm asking you to trust me, I won't fail you again. I won't leave you, and I won't cross that line again."

"Booth, you've never failed me. Nothing that has happened to me was your fault, well, nothing bad anyway. You were always there to save me. I wasn't angry with you. I was angry with myself, I don't want to hurt you, like Rebecca did. I don't believe in marriage and I know that that's what you want. I'm not good at family, I don't know how to...I don't know how to care about someone. You are a good man and a good father and you need someone that can love you without fear and hesitation."

"Are you trying to say you love me?" Brennan let out a pained squeak. "Is that why you pulled away, you were afraid I didn't want you? That you aren't good enough to love?" Her eyes were pleading, afraid. "Oh god," tears spilled from his eyes. His right hand rubbed her cheek. "Bones, you are more that good enough. You're the perfect woman, you're smart, caring, beautiful. I want you. God, Temperance Brennan I want you. I love you." He pressed his wet cheek to hers. She sobbed openly. He shifted his weight, and took his arm off the wall pulling her into him.

"Booth, you...even though...and you thought...Booth, I" He grabbed her other cheek with his left hand and kissed her. He held her, kissing her gently, crying with her. They kissed until the pain and fear had drained, they kissed until no more tears fell, they kissed until their muscles started aching and their lungs burned. Booth pulled away slowly, his eyes opening to look at the woman he loved. He watched her blue eyes open slowly, the fear gone. His stomach lurched as he saw a warm, loving smile spread across her face.

"I love you too Booth." His smile matched hers and he kissed her again. Booth half carried, half dragged her to the couch. They sat, holding each other, feeling drained. Brennan rested her head against Booth's chin. She smiled dreamily. Booth started chuckling. She sat up and looked at him. He grinned, his chuckle turned into a laugh.

"We are going to have to move and change jobs." He said as he leaned forward and started scooping food from boxes.

"I know, Angela will be horrible." She laughed taking a plate from him.

"Did you see the way Wendell ran?"