As far as I'm concerned, this episode is approaching legendary status with all the shipper moments it had. The "I would die for you, I would kill for you…" line, the hand holding, the final scene…just too much for my little shipper heart to handle. I wanted to take my time with this one, because I really didn't want to ruin it.

So I thought maybe a surprise was in order. Just a small one. Wink, wink.

I don't own Bones. Their loss.

The Tough Man in the Tender Chicken

'That incessant knocking out there is really starting to piss me off', thought Brennan. 'After a night of almost no sleep, the last thing I want is an uninvited visitor at…Good God, 7:30 in the morning. Who the hell knocks that early on a Saturday morning'

"Ugh." Rolling out of bed and grabbing a robe from the chair, Brennan stalked off to kill whoever was pounding on her door. After looking through the keyhole, she closed her eyes and began hitting her forehead on the door rhythmically.

"For Christ's sake, Sully! What are you doing here so early on a Saturday morning? And for that matter, what are you doing here?" Brennan flung the door open and turned around, giving him a silent invitation into the apartment. She headed for the kitchen to make coffee, not caring whether she was being rude or not.

"Well, hello to you too, Tempe." Tim Sullivan was genuinely perplexed. The Temperance Brennan he knew would have already been dressed and getting ready to go to her precious lab at this early hour. "I thought I would stop by and let you know that I was back in town, maybe see if you were interested in going to breakfast to catch up."

Brennan blew a piece of hair out of her face and glared at Sully, still trying to figure out what his true motive for appearing here without warning really was. "Sully, I am exhausted. I didn't get a lot of sleep last night and I just want to go back to my nice, warm bed. It's Saturday morning, after all. So, instead of playing games, why don't you have a seat, drink a cup of coffee with me, and try to be honest."

Sully took her advice and sat down on her sofa, not even trying to disguise his surprise at her demeanor. "Um, okay. I do have to say that I'm surprised you're not getting ready to go to the lab at this hour. I ran into Charlie from the Bureau and he told me that you weren't seeing anyone, so I figured that I wouldn't be interrupting anything…but I guess I should have called instead, huh?"

"Oh, so Charlie is suddenly an expert on my love life, huh? And what business is it of yours if I am or am not seeing anyone? You gave up the right to that information when you sailed away on that boat." Brennan handed him a cup of coffee, not caring whether it was made the way he liked it. She just wanted him gone.

"Aren't you going to have any, Tempe?"

"No. I don't drink that stuff." Brennan sat down as far away from him as she could, and waited for him to speak.

"Ohhkay. Tempe…Look, about my leaving, I asked you to go with me! It's not as if I abandoned you. We parted ways amicably, if I remember correctly." This whole conversation was not going at all how Sully had planned it. Once he had heard that Tempe was still single, he could barely contain his excitement. He believed that she had never been as open with any other man as she had been with him, and since he was planning on staying in DC to open his new sandwich shop, he was hoping to reconnect with the one woman he could never get out of his mind.

"Sure, let's call it "amicably". Whatever makes you feel better Sully, really. So can I then infer that the reason you're here is to try to get back together? Thinking I would simply fall into your arms without a second thought?" Brennan resisted the urge to roll her eyes. He really was insufferable.

"Well…" he tried to grin charmingly, but it only served to piss Brennan off even more. "I was hoping that since we had such a great connection, and it didn't look like you had found someone comparable to what we had, that maybe we could give it another try, see where it leads…"

"Well, you're right about one thing. I certainly haven't found anything comparable to what we had." Sully didn't even try to hide his grin at that tidbit. "I've found something much better."

He regarded her carefully, trying to gauge what exactly she was trying to say and whether it was true. "So are you saying that Charlie was wrong, and you have been seeing someone?"

"Yes, that is precisely what I am saying." Brennan looked at him coolly. "And as for the rest of it, it ceased being your business a long damn time ago."

"Bones? What the hell are you doing up at this hour? It's Saturday!" Booth, wearing nothing but a pair of low-slung grey sweats ambled into the living room looking adorably mussed and completely exhausted. When he saw Brennan's early morning visitor, he stopped in shock. "Sullivan? What the fuck are you doing here?"

"I think I could say the same thing to you, Booth." Sully tried to hide his utter devastation at Booth's sudden appearance, but did a miserable job, and Booth made a satisfied note of his distress.

"Really? And why is that? No one has seen or heard from you in over three years, and you think you can just waltz in here and interrogate me? Doubtful." He leaned over and kissed Brennan good morning. "Morning, gorgeous." The endearment fell from Booth's lips easily and with familiarity. "Is that fresh coffee?"

"Yes, but it's the cheap stuff. I prepared the pot of fresh ground Columbian for you, just hit the button." Brennan smiled up at him and stole another kiss, not hiding her obvious perusal of his well-toned chest and abs. "I made enough for both of us."

"Thanks, Bones. You're the best." Booth headed for the kitchen, one ear listening to the continuing conversation in the other room.

Sully stared at Brennan for a full minute before he could try to form a sentence that didn't sound snarky. "So, Tempe…that's why no one at the Bureau knew you were dating, huh? Afraid you'll get split up because of the FBI 'no dating your partner' rule?"

"Actually, Booth and I have only been together for about a week…not that it's any of your business." Brennan resisted the urge to kick his ass. No sense getting arrested by your new boyfriend for assaulting your old one.

"Oh? So, it's not that serious yet?" Sully's voice held more than a glimmer of hope.

Brennan smiled gratefully as Booth came back and handed her a steaming cup of coffee. "Oh, it's serious alright." She explained. "We've been practically dating for years."

Booth laughed at Brennan's explanation. "That's pretty good, Bones. And fairly accurate as well. As for the 'no dating' policy, that only applies to FBI employees. Bones is a contractor, not an official employee so we're good. And once again, none of your business."

He may be a lot of things, but one thing that Tim Sullivan was not was stupid. Or blind. He knew a lost cause when he saw it. "Well," he said, standing. "I guess this is my cue to get going. I won't say I'm not disappointed, but I am happy that you're happy, Tempe." As he headed for the door, Sully turned one more time and addressed Booth. "I hope you know what you've got. Don't make the same mistake I did."

"Count on it, Sully. Thanks." Booth held out his hand, shaking Sully's while opening the door for him.

Brennan waved as her former lover left, Booth closing the door behind him. "Well. That was interesting."

Nodding, Booth stood next to her, running his fingers through her hair absently. "Do you think…maybe, if we hadn't decided to quit being stupid, that you would have gotten back together with him?" While he was generally secure in most aspects of his life, Booth could readily admit that this new aspect of his relationship with Bones made him an insecure puddle of goo. He was still trying to come to grips with the reality that Brennan actually wanted him, and he was sensitive about it.

"Oh, I don't think so." Brennan stood and wrapped her arms around Booth, lying her head on his shoulder and rubbing lazy circles on his bare back. "Irregardless of the change in our relationship, I would still have been in love with you whether we moved forward with it or not. Sully coming back wouldn't have changed that."

"Wh-" Booth gulped and pulled back to stare into her eyes. "You're in love with me?"

Seeing the shock on his face, Brennan was genuinely perplexed. "I thought you knew that, Booth. I know I haven't said it, and you know how bad I am about these things.." Her explanation was cut off when Booth captured her lips with his, kissing her deeply and leaving her knees weak.

"I love you, too Bones. Completely."

"Prove it." Brennan grabbed his hand and led him down the hall towards her bedroom.

"I don't think that will be a problem, Bones. Not at all."