A/N: I'm new to this whole fanfic thing... I don't know if this will be any good, and it's probably a used concept, but this idea (among others) wouldn't leave me alone, and this one seemed to write itself so easily, so I went with it.

Seeley Booth took a deep breath as he walked up the stairs of the apartment building. He had climbed these stairs many times before, but the last time had been nearly four years ago. A new color of paint had been applied to the walls, and he thought it looked nice. He shakily exhaled the breath he didn't know he'd been holding and approached the door of the apartment to which he was headed. He stood quite a few feet away from it, staring and thinking.

He was tired. He looked like crap. His pain was so excruciating he didn't know how he had made it up the stairs. He knew he should have stayed in the hospital for longer, but he couldn't stand it any longer. It had been almost four years since he'd seen her. Four torturous years, not just emotionally, but physically as well. Would she be as mad as she had been when he had "died" and didn't tell her? Hopefully not, as this time hadn't been his fault. But you could have stayed. You didn't have to go, a voice inside his head whispered. What about duty and honor? another voice countered. Great, now he felt as if he were in a cartoon with a devil Booth on one shoulder and an angel Booth on the other.

Booth was shaking. Suddenly, noises from inside the apartment shook him from his jumbled thoughts. Cheerful noises. Noises of laughter and squeals. The laughter and squeals of young children. Confusion washed over him. Had she moved? It was possible; it had been nearly four years. But then he heard an adult voice. HER voice. A voice which he thought he might never hear again. His brain didn't register what she had said, it was too focused on the wonderful, beautiful sound.

Curiosity had gotten the best of him and helped him to overcome his fears. He moved closer to stand directly in front of the door, but did not knock. He listened carefully, trying to determine why children's voices were echoing in her apartment. He racked his brain, trying to think of an explanation. Her nieces, Hayley and Emma? But no, it had been nearly four years. They had grown, just as his own son had grown, without him there to witness it. Then her voice interrupted his thoughts again.

"Okay, girls, put the movie in, and you can watch a little bit before bed."

Put the movie in? Where? Bones didn't own a TV, Booth thought to himself. And since when does she sound so gently and motherly? Not that she was incapable...

"Tempe, how big is your TV again?" a little voice piped up.

"103 inches."

No way. She had a TV of the same proportions that he had mentioned all those years ago? It was impossible. Booth had never been more confused, except for maybe when he had woken up from his coma, thinking Bones was his wife. That had been pretty darn confusing.

Suddenly, Booth began to chicken out. He backed away from the door and turned to go down the stairs. He had made it halfway down when he slumped to the floor against the wall. Tears welled up in his eyes. God, he missed her so much. The sound of her voice was intoxicating. All he could think about was the last two weeks he had spent with her. The nights of passion, the mornings of passion. She had even taken off time from work to spend it with him. Feelings had been declared, lines had been obliterated, love had been made, and they'd never been more happy. But then he'd left her, just like everyone else in her life. Why would she let him back in now? He had betrayed her trust, even though he said he wouldn't.

But her voice - it had sounded happy and satisfied. His curiosity piqued again, and he pushed himself off the floor and traveled up the stairs, determined to actually knock this time. This time as he approached the door, he heard more laughter and distinct lines of the movie which was playing.

"Hey, Mr. Grumpy Gills. When life gets ya down, ya know what ya gotta go? Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming. What do we do? We swim, swim, swim."

Booth instantly recognized the lines. Parker had loved that movie. But what was it doing playing in Bones' apartment? She was seriously watching a cartoon movie about talking sea creatures? Then he heard another strange sound he hadn't noticed before - the giggle of an infant. Now he had to know what was going on!

He shakily took a deep breath as he raised his hand to knock on the door. It's now or never, Seels. You're not a coward, and you love this woman. So man up! he told himself.

Booth softly knocked at the door. His heart was beating rapidly, so rapidly he thought it might explode. Despite the throbbing of his heart which he could hear in his ears, he heard the lock click, and then the apartment door opened slightly.

There she was. All five feet nine inches, one hundred some pounds of her. She was almost four years older, but it didn't show at all. In fact, she looked even younger, if that was possible. Her beauty was incredibly breathtaking. She was dressed comfortably - a light grey wife beater tank top paired with black sweatpants reading NORTHWESTERN in royal purple down her right leg. Instead of her usual larger jewelry, her necklace was a simple silver dolphin, and her earrings were square diamond studs. Her hair was different, back to a brownish color, which he suspected was closest to her natural color, but the auburn and blonde in it still shone slightly in the light. It was rather long and pulled back loosely into a braid at the nape of her neck, and she had long side swept bangs which covered the corner of her right eye. Her eyes - those gorgeous, expressive, grey-blue eyes - were still the same; at first, he detected a genuine smile behind them, but as she realized who was standing in front of her, those expressive eyes reflected shock and - was that fear? But perhaps the most shocking thing of all was the small blond-haired infant who gurgled as she bounced him in her arms.