Author's Note: It's been a long time since I've written this way. That's to say: to post a story for viewing before it's complete. I've been writing for archives and my own website for a long time now. The last time I wrote and posted as I went was way back on the Delphi boards when I was writing X-Files fanfiction. I was about 17 then. I'm hoping I'm able to do this as well now as I could then. Well, hopefully my writing has gotten better. But I mean hopefully I'll be able to stay in the creative zone long enough to post consistently.

That said, I'm not likely to follow a schedule. I'll write, then I'll post. Some times it'll happen quick, fast and in a hurry. Other times it'll be like pulling teeth to get a readable chapter out. But I've allowed myself to stop writing and I'm hoping that know you all are here waiting will help keep me motivated.

Now, about the story. It's carrying an M rating because I know me. I should have a t-shirt made that says "All plots lead to sex." In truth, when I'm writing, they do. However, it also carries an M rating because it's going to deal with grown up emotional issues. Things that, while readable by younger readers, probably won't fully resonate with them. I'm just going to say right now: herein will lie adult material from time to time. If you're not an adult, respect the process and wait until you're mature enough to read.

Blanket disclaimer (though these things really can't keep us from being sued if the show's creators ever really decided to have a hate on for fic writers): The characters of Bones do not belong to me. The situations I have them in that don't sound familiar? Well, those belong to me or the other people I've ripped them off from.

~Amara D'Angeli

Over the last several years I've slipped about a half a dozen times. Once in front of someone else and once in front of her. And I don't care what Sweets said, it started before the coma, before the tumor and before whatever other traumas that may have made my brain think "love". I created this fantasy world in my head where it was okay to call her things like "Babe", "Baby", "Honey" and "Love". It started back about the time I pressed her body between me and the floor of the Gormogon vault.

Back before the surgery, when I told her I wanted her to have my contribution to Operation Baby if I didn't make it I could have easily admitted I loved her. She was my partner, my friend, and very important to me. And part of it was a reaction to the fact that I could very well die. It was a way to both leave my mark on the world, Parker not withstanding, but to also give her that which would make her happiest. But now that I'm pretty sure I'm in love with her, well, things aren't so easy.

Cam and Sweets were right, even if I didn't want to admit it. I've got to be careful here because if I breach her walls I'd better be damn sure about how I feel. If I tell her I'm in love with her and then change my mind because this really is all just a side effect of the coma that will just melt away like the other symptoms…She'll never get over that. I'm not saying she wouldn't get over me. I'm not even sure how she feels about me. But it would be abandoning her in the worst possible way – it would be a full attack on her heart. Even if she wouldn't agree with the semantics.

But there, sitting on the floor of that clinic with her warm blood flooding my fingers and her hand clutching my wrist, I slipped. I kissed her hair and called her "Baby". She didn't react at all. I'm not sure she heard me through the pain, fear and adrenaline. I don't know why I slipped then instead of the countless other times she's been hurt. But it was a rough week what with admitting my feelings to Cam and Sweets and both of them telling me in no uncertain terms to tread softly.

Then, I totally punked out. I told her I loved her. Then I told her that it was in a professional, atta-girl kind of way. She just looked at me for a few moments like I'd grown a second head then she smiled like she got the joke. But I get the feeling she saw right through me. She's much more in touch with the workings of human emotion than she lets on.

He tapped the keys on the keyboard deciding whether or not to continue. Truthfully, he felt a little stupid writing all of that down but Sweets insisted it would be a good way for him to work his way through his feelings.

His cell phone rang and he slammed the laptop closed guiltily. He looked at the display and saw her name there. As it continued to ring he turned it over and over in his hand unsure whether or not to answer. When he dropped her off that afternoon in the parking lot of the Jeffersonian she was still on the "what all works out eventually?" kick.

And he just didn't have an answer for her. Either it all worked out that he wasn't actually in love with her and they went back to being partners and friends and it was no big deal that he loved her once because he never really told her how he felt. Or, what he felt was real and she loved him too and they were together. But he was running scared. It all hinged on him and he wasn't yet sure where he stood with himself.

So, like a coward, he let the call go to voicemail. But twenty minutes later the phone was ringing again. He contemplated it again but still couldn't bring himself to answer. That time he clicked the button to send her to voicemail then turned the phone off. But five minutes after that he was feeling like an ass and turned the phone back on to listen to his messages.

"Booth, it's Brennan. Angela says we all need to get together and celebrate the end of the case and your return to duty—"

"And you being home, Sweetie." Angela was shouting in the background to be heard across the connection.

"And, evidently, my return from Guatemala, though I'm not sure why that's a celebratory occasion as I frequently leave and then return. But we're going for drinks now."

He deleted the message and moved on to the next. He expected Bones' voice since hers was the last number that had called but he heard Angela.

"Booth, it's Angela, we're all here but you're not and it's kinda hard to celebrate you without you. Get your cute little ass down to the bar, my friend. Sweets is trying to talk Cam into Karaoke…" She trailed off and then he heard Bones' voice in hushed tones just before the call clicked off.

He sighed and figured he could keep it together for an evening in a bar. It's not like he hadn't been keeping it together for a couple of years. Besides, when he told her he loved her he managed to backpedal his way out of that.

He pulled on a pair of jeans over the boxers he was wearing and exchanged his white undershirt for a dark grey printed tee and grabbed his phone and his keys on the way out the door. Really, he reasoned as he put the SUV into drive, he only slipped once.