Disclaimer: As always, this story was written for entertainment purposes only and no copyright infringement was intended.
Spoilers: "The Bond in the Boot"
A/N: I started this after "Bond" aired, but my muse sucks and I just now finished it. Thanks lizook for the read through and for yelling "What is your problem?" at me when I was being insecure. =)
A Lesson Learned
She liked this, being the "student".
It reminded her of when her father used to teach her things like light refraction and surface tension. They would set up their own experiments right there in the kitchen, just the two of them—Russ was never interested in science, no matter how much Max tried—and they would laugh and talk and make messes.
Her mom would scold them, but she'd be smiling when she did, and her dad would say, "Now, Christine… How's Tempe ever going to become a scientist without getting a little dirty in the process?"
And then, of course, her parents were gone and she was on her own.
She still liked to learn, but she became her own teacher. There were professors and mentors, but they merely guided her in her academic pursuits. She decided what she wanted to learn and how she was going to do it. It was a hard habit to break, but tonight she was.
When Sweets had suggested she let Booth teach her about plumbing, she had brushed him off. It was ridiculous for her to learn such a menial task, one that she could easily pay someone to do for her. But when she'd made an offhand comment about it to Booth, he seemed eager to teach her. She didn't really understand why he wanted to, but she found herself unable to resist his almost child-like desire to share something with her.
And now, cold and dripping wet in his kitchen—with a ruined Rolex watch!—she didn't regret her decision. His hearty laughter was infectious and soon she was laughing too, at the ridiculousness of the situation.
"We make a great team, huh?" he chuckled, shaking the water out of his hair like a dog. She squealed a little as the spray rained down on her.
"What do we do now?" she asked, surprised to find that she really didn't want the lesson to be over.
"Well, first, we get dried off. I don't want you freezing to death," he responded, alluding to the fact that she was always cold. "I'll find you something to wear…" He shook his head at her drenched clothes.
"Then, we clean up this mess. And then, I figure out where the hell we went wrong." He hesitated. "That is, if you want to stay…," he trailed off uncertainly.
She tried to keep her expression neutral and her tone rational. "Well, we have to fix it, right?"
His face nearly split in two and she couldn't help but return his grin. "Yep, we certainly do. C'mon, let's get dried off."
He led her to his bedroom, where he carefully selected a T-shirt and a pair of flannel pajama pants from his dresser. Handing them to her, he said, "I know these aren't the most stylish, but they're comfortable and maybe if you cinch them up tight…"
She wanted to laugh at his obvious insecurity. It wasn't often that he let anyone see past his confident exterior. Instead, she smiled reassuringly.
"Thank you," she told him softly.
His answering smile was affectionate. "You're welcome."
Clearing his throat and effectively breaking the moment, he retrieved a towel from a nearby closet and gently ushered her into the bathroom.
Shutting the door behind her, she stripped off her wet clothes and pulled on the oversized shirt and pants Booth had given her, giving the drawstring a tug. Despite the fact that she wasn't much shorter than him, she swam in his clothes. It wasn't the most flattering attire, but she couldn't deny it was comfortable. Warm and soft, they smelled like him, which she found oddly soothing. She removed her ponytail and shook her hair out—it was already starting to curl—deciding she was as presentable as she was going to get.
Brennan stepped out of the bathroom and found herself under Booth's scrutiny. His appraising gaze and obvious amusement made her self-conscious.
"What?" she asked, annoyed that she could feel herself starting to blush.
He chuckled. "Nothing! It's—It's just that you…" His expression softened. "You look really cute, Bones."
Brennan couldn't help the shy smile that touched her face and she looked away quickly. Since when had she cared so much about external validation, especially from a man? Luckily Booth didn't dwell on her reaction.
"Hey, I ordered a pizza. Why don't we grab a couple beers while I look through the 'Dummies' book again?"
It always amazed her that he was able to make her feel so shy and uncertain one moment and so comfortable the next.
"Sure," she responded, studying him thoughtfully. How did he do it?
They mopped up the water in the kitchen and then, after the delivery had been made, settled onto the couch with dinner and "Plumbing for Dummies". It was quiet and comfortable and Brennan couldn't remember feeling this content before. They had a certain level of familiarity, a symbiosis that went beyond their working relationship, and—as he "stole" the last slice of pizza, knowing she didn't want it—she realized just how much she valued this.
"Whatcha thinkin' about?"
His question startled her out of her reverie. "What?"
"I know when those gears in your brain are turning," he explained, tapping her lightly on the temple. "You okay?"
"Yeah," she assured him. "I was just thinking-" she struggled to find the words, "Do you really think our differences in intellect and income aren't important?"
"Yeah, Bones, I really do."
"Because, you know, most men would have a problem with a woman making more money."
He flashed her a cheeky grin. "Well then I guess it's a good thing I'm not like most men."
She laughed. "No, you're definitely not."
"I'll take that as a compliment," he responded with a wink, setting his plate aside and standing up. "Ready for your next lesson? I think I figured out what we did wrong."
She let him take her hand and haul her easily to her feet, secretly pleased that he didn't let go as he led her to the kitchen. They grudgingly wormed their way back underneath the sink and got down to the task at hand.
Brennan found her interest in the plumbing lesson waning, but her mind was whirring with thoughts of all the things she'd learned from Booth thus far. He'd taught her about trust and faith, compassion and empathy, friendship and affection. And she had learned these things because she wanted to, even if she had trouble admitting it.
"Okay, that should do it," his voice interrupted her thoughts once again. "Why don't you crawl out of here and I'll turn the water on?"
His sense of chivalry sometimes amused her—when it wasn't irritating her—and she did as he suggested. She watched him turn the water on, bracing himself in case he got another unexpected shower. When it became clear that they were successful this time, he wriggled his way out from under the sink and sat next to her on the floor, with their backs to the cabinets.
She gave him a sideways look. "So we did it?"
"We did it," he agreed.
"Thanks for teaching me, Booth."
He chuckled. "Anytime, Bones."
She turned to face him directly. There were a lot of things he'd taught her, whether on purpose or just by being Booth. But there was something else she wanted to know, a question she was pretty sure she knew the answer to.
His face registered surprise as she closed the gap between them, but when she pressed her lips to his, he responded without hesitation. His hands found their way to her waist, pulling her closer.
The kiss was sweet and slow, passionate yet restrained. Even though she had initiated it as an experiment, she was instantly overwhelmed by the sensations he was creating in her, reveling in the raw emotion he poured into kissing her. And as much as she tried to remain clear-headed and rational, she found herself getting lost.
After a blissful eternity, he finally released her lips, pulling back gauge her reaction. She'd always been unnerved by his seeming ability to look into her eyes and read her thoughts, but for once, she wasn't afraid. Through the hazy, post-kiss euphoria, everything was becoming crystal clear.
As his thumb absently stroked her cheek, he finally spoke the words that had frightened them both for much too long.
"I love you."
"And you're okay with that?" He looked so… worried. She threaded her fingers through his short hair, feeling the fresh scar just below the surface.
"I'm learning to be."
He breathed out a relieved sigh, a shaky smile forming on his lips. "You're a good student," he said, repeating his earlier sentiment.
"Only as good as my teacher," she echoed her previous response, letting him pull her in for another kiss.