Cam sighed as she walked out of the clothing store and into the Saturday morning crowd, the bag with her purchases already cutting off the circulation in her hand. She suddenly remembered why she hated shopping malls so much. It seemed like every way she turned, there were ten different people blocking her path. Trying to control her frustration, she ducked around a rather large woman, narrowly avoiding being hit by a stray shopping bag. At last, she managed to find a small open area, and she gratefully stopped to adjust the bag on her arm into a more comfortable position. As she moved the bag, she happened to glance ahead and saw someone she had never expected to see in a shopping mall.
Temperance Brennan was making her way carefully through the crowd about fifteen feet from where Cam stood. The doctor's left hand clasped that of a small girl who Cam had been introduced to the previous day. Next to Brennan stood her partner, his hand on the small of her back, a position in which Cam had often seen it. He held Noah in his other arm, and Parker had a tight grip on the leg of his pants. There was something different about the partners, though, something Cam had not seen before. It was almost as if they stood closer than normal, their usual air of professionalism absent. Of course, she could just be seeing things. There was so much talk around the lab about what was or was not happening between those two.
Brennan looked up from her conversation with Booth, noticing Cam watching them. For a moment, Cam thought she saw a blush creep over Brennan's cheeks, but she quickly dismissed this sight as simply a trick of the light. Brennan did not blush. Cam did notice, however, that they moved apart slightly though Booth's hand did not leave her back. "Dr. Saroyan," Brennan greeted when they approached.
"Hello, Dr. Brennan. What brings you to the mall?"
"We were just picking up some things for the kids," Brennan answered.
"And a tv!" Parker exclaimed. Booth chuckled.
"A tv?" Cam looked to Brennan, surprised.
"Well, I thought that with Kristen and Noah, a television would be a logical thing to have," Brennan defended. Cam nodded.
"It seems reasonable. Have you picked one out?"
"No, we were just on our way over there. Would you like to join us?" When Brennan asked the question, Booth gave her a look that Cam could not quite decipher.
"Actually, Dr. Brennan, I have a few more items I need to pick up before I head home. It was nice to see you. And you, too, Seeley."
"We'll see you on Monday, Camille," Booth said, nodding to her. She smiled at them as they continued on their way. Kristen said something, and Booth leaned across Brennan to answer her, his response putting a wide grin on her face. Cam watched as he straightened, unconsciously moving closer to Brennan. Cam studied them closely as they walked around the corner. Yes, something was definitely going on between them. She just could not figure out what.
Once they were out of Cam's sight, Booth leaned over to whisper, "She knows."
"How would she know about us? We never did anything which would raise her suspicions."
"I've known Cam for a long time. Trust me, she knows."
They were soon distracted from their conversation, however, as they entered the electronics store. Parker and Booth were immediately drawn to a large plasma screen television near the front of the store which was showing an animated movie that Parker apparently recognized. Brennan watched in amusement as father and son both stared at the screen, Booth possibly drooling a little over the television. She shook her head. There were some things about Booth she was sure that she would never understand.
When they finally left the mall at 1:00, their purchases filled up the entire backseat and trunk of Booth's SUV, and that was without the 52" television she had bought which was being delivered to her apartment later that night. As they drove, Brennan pulled out a map and also a page from the newspaper where she had circled the apartments she wanted to look at. Kristen and Parker were happily occupied with a couple of their new toys, so Booth decided they could spend at least a couple hours looking at apartments before they would have to find another means of entertainment.
The first two apartments they saw were unimpressive, and neither one was expecting much from the third. Booth had been driving for about twenty minutes when Brennan remarked, "You're lost."
"I'm not lost," he argued.
"Then where are we?"
"Somewhere outside DC," he replied vaguely.
"You're lost," she repeated. He glared at her.
"You're the one with the map. You tell me where to go."
"I told you. You should've taken that turn ten minutes ago."
"And I told you that that would take you in the exact wrong direction for where you want to go. Give me the map."
"No, Booth, you're driving."
"Bones, just give me the map."
"If you had just listened to me-"
"I was listening-"
"You were not listening; you completely missed the turn-"
"Which wasn't right anyway."
"You can't know that."
"I've been driving in DC for awhile now, Bones. I know the area."
"Then tell me where we are."
"I would if you'd give me the map!"
"I'm not giving you the map."
"Daddy, I have to go," Parker interrupted from the back. Both adults stopped arguing, and Booth glanced at his son in the rearview mirror.
"Is it urgent?"
"Yeah. I really need to go."
"Okay, Bub, let me find somewhere to stop." Booth began looking for a gas station, and five minutes later, they pulled up outside a QuickTrip. Once both Parker and Kristen had used the restroom, they started back in the direction from which they had come.
"Okay, I think you should go back to the last major intersection we passed, and then we can. . . Booth, what are you doing?" Brennan queried as he turned the car onto a small side road.
"There's something I want to look at," he said, glancing out his window at the open house sign which he had glimpsed on the way to the gas station. It was a long shot, he knew, but something was pulling him to check it out.
"We're supposed to be looking at apartments."
"This won't take long. Just humor me, Bones." She huffed and crossed her arms over her chest but gave no further argument.
They pulled up in front of a house that looked to be badly in need of repair. The lawn was overgrown, the driveway cracked, and shingles were missing from the roof. A woman in her early thirties sat outside, her eyes lighting up when she watched their car stop in front of the house. "Oh, so someone did see the sign," she enthused as they stepped out of the car. "I was so worried that no one would see it. You see, my boss wants to get this house turned over quickly, but. . . I'm babbling aren't I? I'm Kelly. Kelly Butler. With Baker Real Estate." She held out a well-manicured hand.
"Seeley Booth. And this is Dr. Temperance Brennan, Parker, Kristen, and Noah," Booth introduced as both he and Brennan shook the woman's hand.
"So I guess you wanted to see the house then."
"That would be nice." Booth followed her inside carrying Noah, the others trailing behind. Brennan shot Booth a questioning glance, but he simply ignored her.
"The woman who owned this house passed away a couple weeks ago, leaving the house to her grandkids. They both already have homes, however, so they put this one up for sale. Now, it's not in the best condition since she was unable to keep it up during the last few years, but with a few repairs, it would be a beautiful home." She led them through the house, pausing to show them each room. Booth listened to her attentively, examining each room closely. Brennan watched him carefully as they continued the tour. After three years as his partner, she was learning to read him, and she knew immediately what that look meant. He wanted the house.
They did not talk about the house at all as they made their way back toward DC. The real estate agent's card was burning a hole in Booth's pocket, but he did not bring the subject up, knowing that Brennan needed time to sort through things in her head. When she was ready, they could talk about it; until that time, he was content to let her be. They looked through the final apartment but left quickly, for Parker and Kristen were growing restless. And if they were being honest with themselves, Booth and Brennan were growing restless, too. None of the apartments seemed to fit what they wanted. Booth had a feeling that he knew exactly why, but he was going to let Brennan figure that one out on her own.
They drove to Brennan's house, and Brennan helped Parker with learning the bones of the body as Booth worked through part of the reading workbook and some basic addition with Kristen. Booth cooked dinner that night while Brennan finished up both lessons. The television came while Booth was cooking, and Brennan showed the delivery men where to put it as Booth emerged from the kitchen, wiping his hands on a dish towel. He promised to set everything up for her later before returning to the dinner. After dinner, they played a board game they had bought for the kids until it was time for baths and bed. Parker insisted on a story, so all four ended up curled up on Brennan's bed as Booth read one of the new books they had bought that day, his voice changing in all the appropriate places and making the kids giggle. They both fell asleep in Brennan's bed, and Booth let them be, returning to the living room to set up the television as promised.
While he was fiddling with the tv, Brennan finally broached the subject of the house. "I don't really think I need five bedrooms, Booth."
He turned to her, confused for a moment before comprehension crossed over his face. "You never know, Bones. Besides, a little extra space never hurt."
"It's more space to clean."
"Hire a maid," he suggested, knowing that she honestly did not care. She was simply making excuses, avoiding the real reason she did not want the house.
"The house is in pretty bad shape."
"I'll fix it up. A buddy of mine's a contractor; he wouldn't mind helping out. And I don't think it's as bad as it looks. A lot of the problems can be fixed by some cleaning and a new paint job. And the price is good. Just think about it, Bones."
"A house is a big step."
"It is. But you've already taken a big step by bringing Kristen and Noah into your life. Kids need stability, Bones, and a house will give that to them."
"The commute will be longer."
"By five, maybe ten minutes."
"I'm not sure if I can do this, Booth."
"Sure you can."
"I've never been good at settling down."
"Temperance, look at me." He approached her, kneeling in front of her so that he could lock her eyes with his own. "This is a huge step, I won't deny that. But I think you're ready for it. But I'm not going to push you to do anything. I want you to make your own decision. Just don't dismiss the idea immediately, okay?"
"Good." He kissed her shortly before returning to tinkering with the new electronics. Brennan watched him for another minute, considering his words, before reaching for her laptop which sat on the coffee table in front of her. She did not feel like thinking about the house at that particular moment. She would deal with that later.
Opening up her email account, she deleted a couple spam messages, marked a couple from Cam reminding her about some paperwork, typed off a quick email to another anthropology professor who wanted her to speak, and finally came to an email from her publicist. Curious, she opened it, scanning it quickly at first and then reading it more carefully, thinking she had missed something.
"There, Bones, now you should have a working DVD player," Booth declared, emerging from behind the television set.
"My publicist wants me to go on a book tour," Brennan informed him shortly.
"A book tour. To promote my next book."
"Yeah, I know what a book tour is. Why are you bringing this up now?"
"She just emailed me. She already has an itinerary planned. Evidently, she expects me to just drop everything to sign some books."
"So you're not going?"
"I suppose I'll have to go."
"Wait, what? A minute ago, you were complaining about how presumptuous your publicist is, and now you're going to do what she asks?"
"She makes a compelling argument as to why it should be done."
"What? She wants to make more money?"
"She pointed out that if I don't do a tour or something similar, it will make it appear that I have something to hide which I don't."
"Since when do you care what other people think?"
"I don't. But she's right; there has been some speculation recently about my personal life, and I would prefer that the lives of those I am close to not be subjected to the same speculation."
Booth's eyes narrowed. "Who's been speculating?" He had not seen anything; admittedly, however, he did not keep up with the celebrity gossip that people seemed to find so fascinating. In his opinion, the way that celebrities chose to live their lives was none of his business and certainly not all that interesting.
"It doesn't matter," Brennan answered quickly, knowing that he would not be happy if he discovered the two articles her publicist had sent her. "The point is, she's right, I should do a tour. It doesn't have to be long; she suggested one that's only two weeks. I've taken longer sabbaticals before; it shouldn't be a problem."
"When did she schedule this tour for?"
"I would leave about a month from now."
"What about any cases I get during that time?"
"One of the interns can assist you. And I'll bring my laptop so that I can still check in with the Jeffersonian and help if needed."
"But this is two whole weeks away from you," Booth whined, sounding very much like Parker when he did not get his way.
Brennan thought for a minute. "How about this? Halfway through, I should be in New York. I'll book plane tickets for you, Parker, and Kristen so that you can come up for the weekend. The kids should love it there, and then we'll only be apart for a week instead of two."
Booth considered her offer. "I'm still going to miss you," he informed her.
"It's only a week, Booth."
"I love you." He moved closer to her, his lips inches from hers.
"I'm still going on the book tour."
"You're not going to be able to talk me out of it."
"I'm well aware of that. You're very stubborn."
"I'm-" Her words were cut off by his lips.
"Shut up, Bones," he muttered. And for once, she did.