AN: Bit of a challenge here, to end with some smut (Harlem…) without totally abusing the 'T' rating of this fic. Hopefully it's vague enough to not offend. Thank you all SO MUCH for reading this fic, and sticking with me past the angst, and for all the kind words of encouragement (Em!!!). It's been fun. : )

Seven months later…

It was that dream again. It should probably trouble her more, and maybe it would have bothered the woman that she used to be. But now, here, she didn't worry. She simply felt, enjoying the cool sweep of the waves against her ankles, curling her toes into the giving sand beneath her, feeling a million tiny crunches beneath the smooth soles of her feet. The retreating waves left a champagne froth of effervescent bubbles around her, slowly popping and leaving miniature dimples in their wake.

She lifted her arms slightly to let the breeze wrap around her, tickle the fabric against her skin. It felt glorious. She turned her smile to face the one she knew was there with her—he was always there. His short hair caught the sunlight, gilded at the tips, shades darker than his bronzed skin. The wings of his open shirt flapped freely, flirting around the trim narrow of his waist. The jeans that he wore rolled up to his knees sat dangerously low on his hips, revealing deeply angled indentations that disappeared beneath the waistband. He quirked an eyebrow at her and pointed to his clothing in amusement.

"Really?" he asked. "Are you sure you don't want to imagine me with an eyepatch or something? Maybe some long Fabio hair? A sword?"

Laughing, she grabbed him in an exuberant hug. "I like how you look."

Nuzzling into her neck, he grinned and pulled her firmly against his hips. "Look how low these pants are, Bones. I feel violated," he squeaked in a girlish voice. "And God only knows what else you're going to do with me."

Pulling his face gently down to her own, she delicately traced the line of his smile with the tip of her tongue, stopping at the corner to kiss him softly. She ran her nimble fingers over the taut skin of his chest, trailing over the bulge of his pectoral muscles before crisscrossing the gridwork of his abdomen. Smiling cheekily at him, she allowed her finger to drop to the deep grooves of his ilia that funneled so tantalizingly towards the zipper of his jeans.

He groaned, gripping her arms to pull her hard against him, covering her mouth with his. His lips were a tender contrast to the harsh stubble of his jaw, sweet and firm as they moved against hers. She sank into his kiss as if she'd tasted him a million times, as if she intimately knew all his secrets and knew exactly how to get him all worked up. And maybe she did, she thought cheekily, running her nails feather-light down the side of his chest in a way that always made him shudder. She nipped his earlobe gently, gratified to hear his moan of desire.

"Bones," he gasped breathlessly. "If you don't stop that, I'm going to have you flat on your back in the sand."

She laughed at his threat. "If I recall correctly, you were the one who had a problem with last time, not me."

With a wounded pout on his handsome face, he replied, "Hey, I had sand in places where sand should never be."

"Don't be such a baby," she teased.

"Baby? Baby?!" he crowded her. Hiking her skirt up to her hips, he lifted her so that she could wrap her legs around his middle. He gripped her behind in his large hands and ground her hips flush against his. "I'm all man, baby," he growled.

Letting her head fall back as she swooned into his embrace, she let the bright sun disorient her, blooming spots of color behind her closed eyelids. She let the feel of his lips and tongue, as they pulled the heat from the flesh of her throat, wash over her in waves of sensation. "Oh God, Booth," she cried, feeling her body tighten in anticipation for him.

"Bones…" he murmured. "Bones…"

"Mmmff?"

"Bones! Wake up, you're dreaming."

Brennan opened her eyes to a ray of pearly morning light sneaking through the blinds, so different from the midday glare of the beach. Groaning in frustration, she rolled onto her side to peer sleepy-eyed at her partner. His grin beamed down at her mockingly.

"You woke me up before the best part, Booth," she whined petulantly.

He traced a fingertip lovingly over her slightly ruffled eyebrow. "That dream again?"

She nodded, recognizing a mixture of amusement and concern in his dark eyes. She sighed, stretching her long legs inelegantly beneath the toasty covers. "Booth…" she murmured, "do you think I'm crazy?"

He shifted closer so that he could smooth her unruly curls away from her neck. Tenderness filled his eyes as he gazed down at her in earnest. He answered her quietly. "Yes, certifiably."

She ripped her pillow out from underneath her head and smacked him with it full in the face, pleased to see him wince.

"Seriously, Bones," he laughed, grabbing her wrists to prevent any further pillow-assault, "everything that happens to us leaves a scar—"

Her eyes shifted self-consciously to the pale bullet-shaped scar above his heart as she pondered his words.

"—some are physical, some are emotional. It would be nice if it wasn't true, but… all those scars are a part of who we are." He pulled her fingers to his lips, placing reverent kisses along the pale ridge of her knuckles. "If I could go back in time and make it so that it never happened, I would," he said, his voice low with sympathy.

Brennan's vision slipped into middle distance as she thought about what Booth had said. She wasn't really that worried about having the dream again; it tended to pop up every few weeks or so, but since she left the convalescent home it had become a safe, sweet dream, and always included Booth. After enduring the mental distress she'd suffered, all things considered, it really wasn't much of a burden to bear. She was more troubled by his admission that he would undo the whole experience if he could. Realistically, she'd come to terms with the whole experience long ago—had actually come, in a strange way—to be thankful for it.

"Booth… I'm glad it happened."

His eyebrows shot up with disbelief. Maybe he was starting to worry that she was actually crazy. "What?"

"Well, obviously, the way that it happened was unfortunate, but… bottoming out like that sort of allowed me to start over. It's like the worst had already happened, so there was nothing left to fear. Ever since I came back—since you found me—I've been …brave."

"Brave?" he asked quietly, mesmerized by the shy smile curving her rosy lips.

"Mmm hmm," she agreed, rolling suddenly on top of him to sit straddling his hips. At his shark intake of breath, she lowered herself more firmly, swiveling friction-heat against him. "Brave enough to open my heart…" She reached between them to remove the inconvenient barriers of fabric, "…and to ask you to fill it up."

He gasped as he felt the heat of their skin sliding together. "That's… ah… not your heart, Bones," he groaned.

"You fill my everything up," she purred.

"Oh God," he panted.

Smiling radiantly, she reflected that even the heat of the beach's midday sun couldn't compare to the scorching hotness of the man that she loved. Had she told him that lately? Since the last time they'd been together—since last night? How had she started a day without confessing how much she loved him? What was she thinking?

Bending over him to kiss him deeply, swallowing his moans in her mouth, she showed him her appreciation, just before throwing her head back and crying out just how much she loved him, over and over and over and over…

The End : )