"Done and dusted." Booth treated her to a full-blown grin as Brennan opened the door of her flat and found him standing there. It wasn't uncommon. Wordlessly she opened the door wider and he stepped inside.
"You know logically, that doesn't make any sense," Brennan stated conversationally as they crossed to the couch and flopped onto it side by side.
"Huh?" Booth frowned as he looked at her.
"Done and dusted. It…" Brennan paused and bit her lip. With difficulty, she refrained from telling him the origin of the phrase, and a host of other accompanying details. "Never mind. What's done and dusted?"
"The case, of course! Just finished the last of the paperwork. This is the best bit, relaxing." He picked up a beer from Brennan's coffee table. "With you, of course. Wouldn't have it any other way," and he raised his bottle and grinned over at her, before taking a swig.
Brennan studied him. "Surely there's other people you'd rather celebrate with than me."
"Nope." He said it matter-of-factly.
"Yep." He drew out the word.
"OK." Brennan pondered over this, before suddenly smiling. "Well, likewise."
"Even skeletons?" Booth chided. Brennan hesitated for a fraction of a second, and he didn't miss it. "Oh my god, Bones," he burst out, before bending over laughing.
Brennan gave his arm a slap. "Stop it! I'm not going to choose a dead person over you." She felt slightly flustered, wrong-footed.
Booth recovered enough to reply. "You paused, I saw it!"
"I did not."
"I definitely didn't."
Booth suddenly reached out with his hand and began tickling her stomach. She gave a yelp and wiggled out of his reach. "Don't even think about it, Booth."
Booth snorted and settled back on the couch, closing his eyes. "Ahh Bones, you'll be the death of me."
"I… don't know what you mean by that."
"Mmm, shocking." His eyes remained closed.
A comfortable silence fell upon them, as it often did. They spent so much of their time together; it was only natural that every so often they would run out of topics to discuss. Booth was just drifting into a sleepy haze when Brennan stood up suddenly and he jumped.
"I think we should order some food, what do you think?"
"Hey, this is your place." Brennan quirked an eyebrow at him, and he relented. "Um, yeah. Get some Chinese. Oh and uh… hold the tofu." At her disapproving frown, he turned on the charm smile, and she shook her head bemusedly before walking to the kitchen.
"Wine?" she called from the kitchen, amongst the sound of clinking glasses.
"Nah, I got beer, thanks, Bones."
"Wine for one," she stated, and Booth almost fancied he noticed a trace of disappointment in her voice. He let it slide. After a minute he heard her on the phone ordering takeaway, and he let his eyes slide shut again. It was late, he assured himself, and her couch was even more comfy than his. He began to think back over the recently solved case, but before his thoughts could wander very far he was dozing off.
Some time later, he felt a gentle tapping on his shoulder. Leaving his comfortable, warm dream-state, he forced his eyes open. Brennan had her fingers on his shoulder and was watching him. "Yes?" he asked, rolling to face her and glaring.
She smiled innocently. "Our food's here," she said, indicating it on the table. "I thought you'd like to eat before it goes cold." She dodged his retaliating poke.
"If I must." With an exaggerated groan, Booth leant forward and began helping himself to noodles. He suddenly realised something and tensed slightly; Brennan still had her fingers resting on his shoulder, as if they belonged there. Somehow they seemed to burn through his T-shirt. He turned his head and found her looking at him, a hint of confusion across her features.
"What is it?" he asked quietly, trying not to give away in his voice that his heart rate had increased slightly.
She blinked, and returned to the food. "Nothing." Her fingers slid from his shoulder and he couldn't help but miss the sensation. The next few minutes passed in silence as they worked their way through the delicious food (thankfully, tofu not included). When they had eaten their fill, Booth crossed to the CD player and slipped in the nearest album, which happened to be jazz. The sound filled the room, livening the atmosphere instantly.
"I've been listening to this album non stop since I bought it," Brennan said, grinning at him. "It's amazing." Booth noticed her eyes light up as they always did when she spoke about music.
"It's nice," he offered, sitting back down. While he wouldn't admit this to her, jazz had always left him slightly cold. But it was definitely good to bop along to.
Brennan looked affronted. "It's more than nice. I've told you why I love jazz so much. It's a puzzle, an endless array of possibilities, it even clashes melodically at times, but it's a journey, just like every melody is. No other type of music has such freedom. It's unique. I even think…" She drifted off as she noticed Booth was smirking at her. "Well, you get the idea," she finished, slightly sheepishly.
"How about playing an instrument of your own?"
She sighed. "I wouldn't have time. On the rare occasion that I actually spend a night in my flat instead of at the Jeffersonian, I'd be too tired to put in the effort to practice."
"What? It's not! It's true!"
"There'll always be a reason not to do something, Bones. You can find time to practice, easy. And then I can be the audience for your first concert!" He looked extremely excited at the idea, and Brennan couldn't help but laugh.
"You're like a child," she said, a hint of affection in her voice. "But yes. I'll consider it. Perhaps."
"Atta girl." He suddenly yawned, taking himself by surprise. "God, I'm beat."
"Well, you're not as young as you used to be, physically that's bound to take effect."
"You what?" Booth sat bolt upright. "Bones, I am not old."
"I never said you were."
"And I'm in damn good shape."
"I never said you weren't."
Booth groaned. "Stop it, alright? Just stop it." He looked across at her and grabbed the glass of champagne she had just raised to her lips, and she turned to glare at him. "You're too honest for your own good, you know." He took a sip.
"You don't want me to be honest?" Brennan looked, unsurprisingly, confused. Booth sighed.
"Not if you're gonna tell me I'm old!" he pointed out.
"I never said that! I said you were older. Er." She looked at him sternly, as if willing him to understand.
"And I'm in very good shape."
"Yes, you said." Brennan felt bemused as to how personally he seemed to be taking her words. "And actually, I would have to agree with that."
Booth blinked at her. "Wow, Bones, did you just hand out one of those rare things known as compliments?" He may have sat up a little straighter, adjusting himself so he was in better view of her. Maybe.
Brennan cut right through the moment, as ever. "No, not a compliment. Just my opinion, based on what I have observed. Your body is very well defined, and…" She drifted off, meeting his eyes. Booth arched an eyebrow, and she looked down at his body again. If Booth didn't know any better, he might even say she was checking him out. Except Bones didn't do that. More likely she was just analysing him, like one of her skeletons. Oh, cheerful thought.
"Yeah," she suddenly finished, lamely. "So. Not a compliment."
"Mmm, okay. Well, in my head it was," he told her, grinning widely. She rolled her eyes but returned the grin, and Booth couldn't help but notice that her cheeks were slightly pink. The look suited her. "Oh, and you're not too bad yourself, Bones."
Oh damn. "You're not too bad yourself," he repeated, hoping that was enough.
"I'm not a bad what?" Oh, she was being purposely obtuse, surely. He turned to inspect her closely. She met his eyes and he thought he might have spotted a tiny smile pass her lips before it vanished, but it was so hard to tell with Bones.
He took a deep breath, hoping to explain this simply and without awkwardness. "Well, y'know, you're… very attractive. That's all." He willed the blood not to rush to his face and give away his embarrassment as he looked at her.
To his surprise, Bones' face lit up like a Christmas tree at his words. She smiled widely at him. "Thank you," she said, with surprising warmth. "You've told me before of course, but it's still very pleasant to hear." Sometimes her honesty floored him. Every so often she would surprise him by saying something completely from the heart, but while stating it as if it was a cold hard fact. She was certainly unique, was Bones.
Not entirely sure what to say in response to this statement, Booth settled on changing the subject. "You should get a TV, Bones. Not much to do here, we could've watched a movie and chilled out."
"We are chilling out. I think. I'm more than happy listening to music and reading, in general. Your brain is at its least active when watching television."
"Yes. It's a well known fact." Her voice implied, you should have known that, but Booth was far too used to that to care. He yawned again, widely.
Brennan glanced at her watch instinctively, and gave a start. "It's past midnight! Booth, you should get going, you don't want to be driving home in the early hours of the morning." When his only response was to close his eyes, Brennan nudged his foot with hers. "Hey, Booth. Get up, sleepy head." Booth opened one eye slightly and regarded her silently, before letting it fall shut again. For once, Brennan got the hint.
"Fine, you can stay here if you really want." Booth's eyes finally opened, and he grinned gratefully at her. "You're sleeping here, though," she added firmly, indicating the couch they were sitting on.
He frowned. "Well, yeah… where did you think I was planning on sleeping?" He stared at her.
Brennan opened her mouth, paused, and then shut it again. It seemed she had no answer to that. There was a pause. Booth wasn't used to so many awkward silences in one conversation. Time to lighten the mood. With a groan he got to his feet, and crossed to the CD player again. He opened the disk slot and removed the jazz album, which was coming to an end anyway, and replaced it with some good old classic rock. Brennan looked up at the change in music, and couldn't help but grin as Booth proceeded to rock out, just like he had that night when he had come round to protect her, and ended up getting blown up. The image replayed itself without permission in her brain, and the smile faded, a knot forming in her stomach.
"You okay, Bones?" Booth paused in his air guitar solo, as he noticed the change in her demeanour.
She sighed. "Fine. It just reminded me of…" She drifted off, but he understood anyway.
"I know. But hey, I'll try not to get blasted across the room this time, eh?" When she said nothing, he leant over and reached for her hand, pulling her rather violently to her feet.
"Booth -!" she admonished, almost falling forward.
He laughed loudly over the loud sound of electric guitars. "Come on, dance with me, Bones!"
"I'm not in the mood to dance," she informed him.
"Sure you are! Oh no you don't," he said quickly as she made to sit down again, and he grabbed both her hands and pulled her away from the couch. Without warning he began twirling her around, and she shrieked, jamming her eyes shut.
"Booth! Are you on something?" With difficulty she wrenched her hands from his, but she was grinning, and Booth noticed she wasn't rushing back to the sofa this time.
"You danced with me the first time." Booth stuck out his bottom lip and looked at her beseechingly. She laughed.
"You're completely ridiculous." He launched into another air guitar solo and she soon found herself joining him, dropping her inhibitions if only for a very short period of time. For a good hour after that they danced, all tiredness forgotten. And while Brennan wouldn't have admitted it aloud, she felt more carefree and happy than she remembered feeling in years.
* * * * *
Both of them were totally unaware of the time passing until Booth looked at Brennan's wall clock and was startled to find it was nearly half past one in the morning. He looked over at Bones and noticed that she had stopped too, hair completely dishevelled and out of breath. Even that look suited Bones. Damn her. He also noticed that she seemed to be lagging and indicated the couch, which they both flopped onto after switching the CD player off. Brennan leaned against him and gave him a sleepy smile.
"I enjoyed that," she told him. There seemed to be an air of extreme relaxation about her, and Booth recognised the expression on her face as Bones-with-her-barriers-down. It was rare, and he knew it wouldn't last long. Instantly, thoughts he was trying to avoid popped into his head, and he did his best to bury them.
Without warning, she placed a warm hand on his knee. He froze in surprise. Several moments passed in silence, and eventually Booth glanced sideways at her. She was gazing ahead, seemingly lost in thoughts, oblivious to the fact that her simple touch was sending tingles up his body. Damnit, she's only touching you innocently. Get a bloody grip. It seemed that Bones with her walls down was very different to Bones with the weight of the world on her shoulders. So maybe if he…
Hell, you only live once. "Bones?" She nodded. "You should get to bed."
She suddenly smirked. "Are you sending me to bed in my own house?"
Booth smiled. "See you in the morning, yeah?"
"I would imagine so," she replied, looking zonked. She was just shifting to stand up when Booth leant over and pressed a brief, soft kiss to her cheek. Brennan paused halfway through getting up, just for a second, before swallowing and walking towards her bedroom.
Back on the couch, Booth ran a hand over his face. At least she hadn't run away screaming, that was a start. That was definitely a start.
* * * * *
Booth slept reasonably well, considering he wasn't in his own bed – or even a bed at all, for that matter. Despite not getting to sleep until 2am, he woke early, his body clock not used to such a late night. For a few minutes he lay there, thinking back over the night before. It had been a while since he'd seen Bones that relaxed, and it was a damn good feeling. She clearly felt at ease in his company, enough to let her barriers down, and just the thought of that sent a warm glow through his body that he was pretty sure would last the rest of the day. He stretched and was just about to get up when he heard a door open. Looking round, he saw Bones emerge from her bedroom and wander into the kitchen, wearing nothing but a skimpy pyjama top and shorts.
Somehow instinct took over and he stood up, still dressed in last night's clothes, and followed her right into the kitchen. After, of course, willing his body to calm down. When he entered the kitchen, Brennan was pottering around, pouring herself some cereal and tidying up a little. He cleared his throat, announcing his presence. She almost dropped the bowl she was holding, whirling round to him.
"Booth! Oh god…" she cried, crossing her arms across her chest as if trying to hide herself and going a deep shade of crimson. "I didn't expect you up for hours!"
Booth couldn't help but grin slightly at her discomfort. "Bones, relax, it's just pyjamas." Who are you trying to kid? They didn't leave much to the imagination. Brennan still looked very nervous, and suddenly he felt sorry for her. "If you want, I can close my eyes and walk around like this until you're dressed." He did so. "Mind you, I might crash into things." He swore he heard her giggle.
"I'm going to get showered and dressed, you can help yourself to breakfast if you want." She didn't wait for a reply, hurrying back to her bedroom and ensuite.
Booth thought what a shame it was that she was getting dressed, and then instantly felt like a pervert.
* * * * *
Half an hour later they were both dressed and ready, although Booth didn't have anything to be ready for. It was a Saturday, and he had no plans – unfortunately, no seeing Parker that weekend. He would happily hang out with Bones all day, but he had a sneaking suspicion that she was planning to go into the Jeffersonian later on. It wouldn't be unlike her. While Brennan went round tidying and gathering things up, he put the CD player on again and boogied around the flat, albeit slightly less enthusiastically than the previous night. Within minutes, Brennan had joined him. He laughed in delighted surprise.
"See, Bones? I knew you loved dancing."
"It's a release of tension, certainly," she agreed, reaching for her keys. He placed a hand on hers, stilling her motions.
"Stay with me for a bit?" he asked, not entirely sure where that request came from.
She paused. "Here?" He nodded. "But I was planning on driving up to the Jeffersonian." I knew it. "There's a particular skeleton –"
"It can wait, right?" he pleaded. "Boothy needs company too."
She snorted. "Did you just refer to yourself as 'Boothy'?"
"You made the word up, I'm just carrying it on," he grinned.
"It only sounds right when I say it."
A sigh. "Fine, I'll stay." Booth noted that this was the second time in as many days that she had given in to his requests. That was new. He held a hand in the air and she high-fived him half-heartedly, before putting her keys back down on the table. If only she knew the reason he wanted her to stay so badly. But he would try not to think about that too much, otherwise he would chicken out, no question. Casually he changed the music, hoping she wouldn't question the CD he chose. He saw the moment she clocked the change, raised her eyebrows slightly, but to his relief she said nothing. He took a deep breath before holding out a hand to her.
"Dance with me?"
He didn't miss the brief look of panic cross her face, and for a moment it scared him. She was still so unsure. After all this time, after all they'd been through.
"Booth – I – "
"It's just a dance," he replied, almost defensively, and she relaxed slightly, taking his hand. Booth instinctively placed a hand on her waist and she exhaled slowly, before bringing a hand up to his shoulder, assuming the correct positions. They began to move to the music, slowly but rhythmically, and suddenly Brennan found she couldn't meet Booth's steady gaze, instead focusing on his shirt. As they continued to sway, Brennan feeling so comforted and protected in Booth's arms, she was alarmed when a lump suddenly rose in her throat, followed by a burning heat at the back of her eyes. What was wrong with her?
Booth seemed to notice something was up, because he put his hand to her chin and lifted her head up to meet his gaze. "Everything alright there, Bones?" he asked, gently.
Brennan waited a few seconds before she trusted herself to speak. "Sorry, I'm fine."
"No, you're not. Come on, what's eating you?"
"Bones." She broke their gaze, fixing on a point over his shoulder. "You're gonna have to tell me sooner or later."
"Why am I?"
"You just are." Despite this making no logical sense, she believed him. Took a deep breath, let it out. And another. Tried to explain.
"I'm suddenly feeling… sad." Well, that wasn't a sufficient explanation. You can do better than that. "I'm in your arms and it feels nice, and right somehow, and yet I feel quite… hollow." She forced her gaze back to him and shrugged, trying to blink away the tears she knew were there. "I don't know," she finished, honestly.
She watched as Booth's eyes widened slightly, as if coming to a realisation. There was a pause in which she simply studied him anxiously. She could almost see the cogs in his brain rotating. It didn't seem as if he was planning on speaking any time soon. Then without warning, his hand released its firm grip on her waist and lifted to her face, and she almost flinched away but managed to resist. Keeping his gaze firmly on her, he ran his fingertips down the side of her face oh-so-gently, and she couldn't stop her eyelids fluttering shut, or from leaning into his touch. Oh. She was amazed, and confused, at the sensation of such a simple gesture. His fingertips had just reached her bottom lip when realisation struck her and she inhaled sharply, her eyes flying open.
"Booth, what are you –" Her sentence was cut off by Booth pressing a finger against her lips, stilling the movement. She swallowed, completely intoxicated and yet terrified in equal measure. What was happening? His index finger brushed against her bottom lip several times, and she simply stared at him, sure that her face was giving away how dumbstruck she felt. She couldn't fight closing her eyes again when his hand began to drift down to her neck, somewhere she had always been particularly sensitive, as she was sure he was finding out. As his thumb brushed across her collarbone she made a small noise in the back of her throat, and Booth gave a small smile at this, before repeating the movement.
"Booth –" She cleared her throat, trying to clear the fog in her head and get back to reality. It proved impossible. "What are you doing to me?"
He didn't say anything for a moment, just watching her as if she was the most precious thing in the world. If she had any breath left, it would have stolen it away by that gaze. "I'm just doing what I should have done a hell of a long time ago," he finally muttered.
"I don't understand." But she did, really. Her brain wouldn't allow her to accept it, that was all.
"I know you're scared, Bones. I know. But that fear isn't going to go away." His fingers found her neck again and she tried desperately to hold back a shiver.
"It isn't?" How did he read her so well?
"Never. You just have to take the leap."
"The leap of …?"
A pause. "Don't be scared, Temperance," came a whisper, and that was the last concrete thing she remembered because after that he leaned forward and pressed his lips to hers, and suddenly all intelligent brain function ceased and she was focused only on her body's reaction to the kiss, her partner pressed against her, her partner, their bodies melded together, his hands on the back of her head, weaving into her hair, and oh. Their lips moved fairly slowly and gently against each other, as if savouring every moment, but it did nothing to dispel the passion, which spread through Brennan like a toxic gas, until her legs almost gave way underneath her and she grabbed at Booth's shirt to keep herself upright. Before she knew what was happening, Booth ended the kiss and was tracing a pattern with his lips, beginning at her jaw line and drifting down her neck, oh my god, damnit she definitely moaned just then, and she was pretty sure she was going to completely lose her mind, when he pulled away.
The silence that followed seemed eternal, when in reality it was only several seconds. Brennan was a completely flurry of emotions, and she simply stood there and waited to see which emotion would take precedence over the others. A moment's pause in which they looked at each other and then, much to her intense embarrassment, her emotions decided to make themselves known. She burst into tears.
Booth instantly wrapped his arms around her and they sank back onto the couch, still hugging. His hand rubbed her back soothingly. "It's okay, Bones, it's okay. You've had a lot of time bottling this up, I'm not surprised you're a bit of wreck right now."
"I'm sorry," she muttered from his shoulder, trying to bring herself back under control. A moment to compose herself, and then she pulled away from him. She knew she must look a mess.
"Well, that's not exactly the reaction you want after you kiss someone," Booth teased her, and she laughed weakly. He brought a hand to her face and wiped away the tears with his thumb. Brennan turned her head and kissed his thumb gently, and he chuckled.
"I could so get used to that."
This stirred something in Brennan, and suddenly reality came back into focus all too clearly. Panic shot through her, and she leapt up. "I have to go," she announced, and picked up her keys.
"I – what?" Booth asked, completely wrong-footed. He leapt to his feet as Brennan began walking towards the front door. "Hey hey hey, Bones." He quickly stepped in front of the door, blocking her exit route. Brennan noticed with a start that his eyes had become dark, he looked almost angry. "Bones, there is no way you're kissing me and then running away. Not gonna happen."
"Actually, you kissed me."
"And you're telling me you didn't want it?"
There was a pause. "Can you let me go, please? I'm late."
"You're not late, you don't even have to go into the Jeffersonian today if you don't want to." He stepped into her personal space, put a hand on her arm firmly. "Look. I get that you're scared, ok, I get that big time. I'm scared too. But like I said, those worries and fears of what you could lose, of messing up our partnership, they will still be there ten years down the line. Do you really want to wait that long?" He was even closer now, their noses an inch apart. And yes, he definitely looked angry.
"I don't –" The close proximity wasn't helping Brennan's brain functions in the slightest.
"And you know what? When you run, Bones, you're not just hurting yourself. You're hurting me, too. There's no way I'm letting you out of that door, not after this." It all seemed to pour from him, as if he'd been bottling it up for far too long. Maybe he'd even planned what to say if this event presented itself. Brennan felt a stab of guilt.
"I can't lose you." The words felt strange on her lips; something she had been thinking for the longest time, but never thought she would verbally admit to.
Booth seemed to soften at her words, glad she was finally opening up. "What makes you think you're gonna lose me?" he teased, running a finger down her face again and causing her eyes to widen.
"This, right here! Relationships. I don't do long term relationships, you've seen the men I've dated in the past. I'm just not very good at being close to someone."
"I'm very aware of that. But I'm not someone, I'm special." He grinned, and Brennan couldn't help returning it. "Can you see your life without me in it?" he asked, becoming more serious.
Brennan pondered his words, and simply the thought made her feel slightly wobbly. "No," she answered fervently. "Most definitely not."
"Me either." They looked at each other for a long moment. "Can we at least give it a try?" he asked beseechingly, apparently out of points to support his argument. "I promise, you're not gonna lose me."
Brennan laughed. "You can't possibly promise that."
"Yeah, I can." And once again, she simply believed him, despite the lack of evidence. "Because I would never leave you, Bones, not in a million years."
She let out a very shaky breath, and gave him an almost imperceptible nod. "I can't believe I'm even doing this," she admitted.
"I can't believe you are, either," Booth smirked, though the smile abruptly vanished as Brennan leaned in and kissed him tentatively, as if still expecting him to leap back and proclaim that this had all been a massive joke. After several seconds she seemed to gain confidence, deepening the kiss, threading her fingers into his hair, and then he was the one to hold back a groan. Damn, she was good. He almost gasped when her hand drifted under his T-shirt and smoothed across his warm skin. Where had that sudden confidence come from? He pulled back and stared at her, noticed she was grinning.
"Damnit, Bones. You know, two can play at that game," he added, narrowing his eyes at her, but she simply laughed, pulling her lips back to his. Later, when they finally made it to the bedroom, he wasted no time in educating her about equal opportunities. She definitely wasn't complaining.
And for the first time in a while, Brennan took the entire weekend off.