Hey, guys! Okay, so it's a couple days late, but.. I have my next chapter! Sorry for the slight delay, but I'm hoping this chapter makes up for it =] So without the whole long intro, onto the long awaited next chapter..

Smiles through Tears

Everything was silent.

Brennan's eyes were closed as she sat still. Stunned. And not quite sure what had just happened.

She kept still, listening for a sound, a creak, a groan.. anything. But all she could hear was a ringing in her ears. Brennan was afraid to open her eyes for fear of what she might see. Then her thoughts fled her mind as someone grabbed her fiercely by both shoulders. Brennan screamed and fought to break free of her hold.

"Brennan! Brennan, look at me! Open your eyes!" The voice yelled as she kept flailing. "Bones!"

Then Brennan stopped and opened her eyes. She saw Booth's face, just inches from hers, masked by shadows streaming from the window. For just a moment they both looked into each other's eyes.

Then Brennan broke her eye contact with Booth to look down to the object she clutched so tightly in her hand. Booth followed her gaze and moved his hands from her shoulders to take her hand in his and remove the gun from it. Brennan stared at her empty hand a moment before looking back into Booth's eyes. Then she gasped, "Booth".

And as she threw her arms around Booth's neck, she sobbed. And the tighter he held her, the harder she cried. It seemed like forever as they both sat on the floor, holding one another. But when they finally broke apart, Brennan felt this sudden, irrational feeling of longing. Longing to be in her partners arms and never letting go. As they pulled apart, Booth held Brennan at arms length and looked over her, a sudden urge of his over-protectiveness coming up.

"Are you alright? Bones, where does it hurt?" He asked hurriedly as he gave his partner a thorough once-over. There were multiple bruises making their ugly marks known upon Bones' pale skin. A gash on her cheek and her bruised abdomen were the jamor areas of concern.

"Oh, Bones…" Booth started, taking in his partners wounds."Bones…" He started again. But Brennan just shook her heard.

"Booth," she started. "Booth, you.. you saved me." She whispered. "If you hadn't come for me, I…" She trailed off. "I don't know what would've happened." She looked down. Booth was thinking the same thing Brennan was, and the thought made him sick to his stomach. He couldn't even fathom what that would mean. He shook the thought from his head. It was over now. And his Bones was alive. That's all that mattered to him.

"It's fine, Bones," Booth said. "It's all over now. It's all over."

His words fell upon deaf ears though, as Brennan couldn't seem to concentrate.

"Booth…" She started. "Booth, I—I shot him." She stated, quietly. Then she added, in a whisper. "I killed him." When she brought her eyes up to meet Booth's, he saw all the emotions playing behind them.

"Bones, listen to me." Booth said, seriously. "You did what you had to do." And when Brennan's gaze fell down, he brought her face between his hands and made her look at him. "Brennan, look at me. You did the right thing. If you hadn't have shot him, he would've shot me. You saved my life, Bones." He said quietly, his stare burning into her eyes. "You saved yours, too."

And Brennan knew that. She knew that if she wouldn't have done what she did, she could very well be where Michael was right now. Booth could have been. Booth would have been. The thought of what would have truly happened was enough to make Brennan sick. She did the right thing. She knew it. But there was something about taking another human life, no matter the person. But if not him, it would have been them. And that was the comfort, or what comfort she could possibly get from the situation, she retreated to. In knowing she did the right thing.

Brennan looked back into Booth's eyes, and despite everything that had just happened, smiled. Just a little, but it was a smile. She was happy that her partner was alive, that the man who'd done such horrible things to her was never going to hurt her again, and that she finally felt safe. At home. As long as she was with Booth, she knew she was safe. And as Booth smiled back at her with a little twinkle dancing behind his deep, chocolate eyes, she knew she was right.

This was where she was meant to be. With Booth.

She was home.

So? Let me know what you guys thought of this chapter. The next chapter's still a work-in-progress, so it'll be just a little bit before I get that one up. But just let me know what you thought of this one. Thanks for reading!

Ashley