AN: Spoilers for "Harbingers in the Fountain" and "The Bond in the Boot".
AN2: Thanks to CalleighAryn for her suggestions on this one.
"Hey, Booth," said a familiar male voice from the doorway of Booth's FBI office. "Do you…uh…remember who I am?"
Smiling, Booth got up from his desk to give his former colleague a guy hug (a real guy hug, not the kind of intimate embrace he frequently gave his partner). "Of course I remember you, Sully! You haven't been gone that long."
"I know," Sully said, looking slightly embarrassed. "But some of the guys told me you had brain surgery and amnesia a while back, so I thought maybe--"
"I'm fine now," Booth interrupted. "Totally fine. So what have you been up to? Have you been in the Caribbean all this time?"
"Yeah, I've been having a great time down there. The weather's beautiful and the girls…" A dreamy expression crossed Sully's face. "The girls are just gorgeous."
Booth laughed. "So that's why you've been away for so long. You fall in love, Sull?"
"Several times," Sully said with a laugh. "How about you, Booth? You dating anyone?"
"Not at the moment," Booth answered, struggling to remember the last time he had been on a date. "I've been too busy working on our cases and, you know, recovering from brain surgery."
Sully recognized a lame excuse when he heard one. "But you said you were fine now."
"Totally fine," Booth repeated. "Just…busy. Bones and I have had some pretty tough cases lately."
"Nothing new there. How is Temperance these days?"
"She's great. Her latest book is another bestseller. Her publishers gave her a Rolex. A real Rolex."
"Nice," Sully said. "Does she have a new boyfriend to go with the new watch, or is she still single?"
Booth's face paled. Was Sully asking if she was single because he wanted her back? Was he going to try to take her away again?
"Don't worry, Booth," Sully said when he saw Booth's panicked expression. "I only asked because I was curious. I'm not here to try to convince her to come away with me again. Even if I wanted to, I know it wouldn't work; I know the way you two feel about each other."
Booth felt blood rushing to his face. "Bones and me…we're just partners." He wondered how many hundreds of times he had said that over the last five years. The response was automatic, yet it still left a bad taste in his mouth.
"You're still using that 'just partners' line?" Sully rolled his eyes. "No one in the Bureau believes that, you know."
"I don't care what everyone else in the Bureau thinks. My love life is none of their business." Booth's eyes widened as he realized what he had said. Maybe Sully wouldn't notice his little slip.
"Your love life?" Sully repeated, squashing Booth's hopes. "You just admitted that you love your partner. Good for you, Booth! It's about time you got your repressed urges out in the open."
Booth sighed. "You sound like Sweets."
"Who's that?" Sully asked.
"He's this kid psychologist they ordered me and Bones to see."
"Why do you have to see another shrink? You didn't shoot another clown, did you?"
Booth glared at him. "I arrested Bones' father."
"Oh." Sully gave him a sympathetic look. "Sorry. Arresting a family member is rarely the best way to win over the woman of your dreams."
Booth smiled in spite of himself. "Lucky for me he was acquitted."
"So does your new shrink know that you love Brennan?" Sully asked.
"Yeah, but he says it's only temporary."
Sully's eyebrows shot up. "What?"
"He looked at my brain scans and said that I didn't love her before my surgery, that my feelings were a side effect that would fade with time."
Sully shook his head forcefully. "This guy is obviously full of shit. I knew you loved her years ago when I asked your advice on how to get her into bed. Do you remember that?"
"I think so," Booth said. The memory was there, but it was a little hazy. "I remember being really annoyed that you wanted me to help you bed MY partner. Did I throw you out of my office? Or hit you? I bet I hit you."
Sully laughed. "No, you didn't hit me. You just refused to help me. When I asked you if you wanted her for yourself, you gave me the partners line, but your face said it all. I used to be a profiler, Booth; I can recognize a man in love."
Booth grinned. He had suspected his feelings for Bones were anything but temporary, but it was nice to hear his suspicions confirmed by someone who had known him for years. "Thanks, Sull."
"Anytime. Hey, you want to get a drink tonight and we'll catch up?"
Any other night Booth would have considered it, but tonight he had special plans. "I can't tonight."
"Because you have a hot date?" Sully teased.
"Not a date, but Bones invited me to have dinner at her place. She's going to make her macaroni and cheese." Booth's stomach rumbled at the thought.
"Temperance Brennan is cooking dinner for you?"
Booth smiled as he imagined himself eating a forkful of her heavenly meal. "Yeah. Her mac and cheese is amazing. The best I've ever had."
"She never cooked for me," Sully pouted. "And we were actually dating. You guys have something really special, Booth, so do yourself and her a favor and don't wait too long to tell her how you feel, alright?"
Booth gave Sully a pat on the back. "I won't."
"You were wrong, Sweets," Booth chirped as he entered the psychologist's office. "I've always loved her, and that isn't going to fade with time." He turned around and left the office before Sweets could respond.
After leaving Sweets' office, Booth headed straight to Brennan's, where he found his partner sitting on her couch. Her eyes were glued to a file that lay open on her lap. He stood still for several moments and watched her, admiring both her beauty and her dedication to her work. He wasn't sure he deserved such an incredible woman in his life, but he was grateful to have her.
"Is something wrong, Booth?" Brennan asked when she finally noticed her partner staring at her.
Booth sat down beside her and gave her a warm smile. "No, nothing's wrong…except Sweets. I shouldn't have let him make me doubt my own instincts. He may know brain stuff, but he doesn't know my heart."
"Of course he doesn't," Brennan agreed. "He doesn't have any training in cardiology."
Booth chuckled. "I love you, Bones."
"In a professional, atta girl kind of way," she said, recalling his earlier words.
Booth heard the thinly disguised sadness in her voice and wanted to kick himself for his cowardice. "No, not in a professional way. I chickened out when I said that. What I should have said was that I love you in a 'I think about you all the time and want to date you and someday marry you' kind of way." He took one of her hands in his. "I'm ready to cross the line and I'll wait as long as it takes until you're--"
"I'm ready now," she interrupted with a broad grin, pulling him into the uninhibited kiss they'd both been waiting years for.
After leaving Booth's office and talking to another one of his former FBI colleagues, Sully decided to visit Brennan at the Jeffersonian. He wasn't in love with her anymore, but he still thought about her from time to time and wanted to see how she was doing. He stopped just outside her glass office door, however, when he saw his friend and former girlfriend making out like teenagers celebrating their first taste of freedom.
Way to go, Booth! was his first thought, followed quickly by: Whoa! She never kissed me like that.
Thanks for reading! All comments are greatly appreciated.