EPILOGUE: Feverish Kiss

On the way to his apartment she had rehearsed a speech of sorts; well... not really a speech, she did not want to sound formal but it is just that, practicing somehow made her anguish disappear. Somehow, only. For, when she knocked on his door, she felt her heart was in her socks. Not literally, she was not wearing any socks but... Yeah, she was really not good with metaphors. She wondered how he would react. The past weeks had been chaotic, complex. Despite their common agreement to process the new configuration of their relationship, nothing had seemed to evolve and she realized that it was mostly her fault. So she had decided that was time for her, to make a decision. He had said he would wait, he had said he understood. That was so much like him. The thought made her smile. He was caring, patient, soft, tender... It seems there were not enough adjectives to qualify him. She realized her lack for objectivity for obviously, no one was that perfect, but to her, it seemed he was. Maybe that was what it meant to be in love. Lacking for perspective, objectivity, consciousness simply. She did not mind. She had had enough of that already and she wanted to see how it felt to let everything go. She wanted to abandon herself instead of being afraid of abandonment.

When he opened the door, she saw there was something out of place. He did not look at her the way he used to. His brows were slightly furrowed. She ignored what it meant but she supposed that it was because she had not called before coming. Plus she felt that her own expression certainly was as puzzling as his. So she gave him a timid smile.

- "I need to talk to you."

What alarmed her was when he did not motion to let her come in. Generally, he did not even wait for her to say a word before inviting her in. There, he stood, almost frozen on the threshold of his apartment. She did not like it.

- "Well, sure Bones...I..."

Then it all clicked when a voice emerged from inside the place.

- "Where do you keep your glasses?"

She recognized the voice. Or at least it seemed familiar. Wasn't that the fish lady? What was she doing there at... 11pm? When she put all the pieces together, and saw Booth's face turn into an awkward, apologetic expression, she felt her throat tighten. All of a sudden, every word she had intended to say melted in a chaos of fear, disappointment and distrust. Afraid that he might notice anything, she instantly put on her best aloof face; at least she tried.

- "I didn't know you had company. I'm sorry."

She wanted to run, run out, puke, cry. She did not know. She was feeling dizzy, losing balance. She had not felt that in a long time. The last time was when she had learned he had a brain tumor. The firs time was when she had paced around her house for hours with her brother, trying to contact their parents who had not come back from Christmas shopping after twelve interminable hours. She felt that she was alone in the world.
When she started to walk towards the staircase, she felt something grabbing her wrist. He was trying to hold her back. His damned apologetic face still on. Seeing him, she could put words on her feelings, she felt cheated, tainted. She felt that the innermost of her trust in him was suddenly damaged. And although she knew it was unlike her, she let herself being transported, carried away by her emotions. Like a tsunami of unwanted feelings.

- "No, Bones, wait..."

He was pleading. She would not let him. She would not let him see that he got to her, that he succeeded in breaking her shell. He would not see she was crying. So she tried to avoid eye contact, but her voice betrayed her.

- "I'm sorry I disturbed you."

With that she set herself free from his grasp and this time, she walked faster; fast enough to be away from him before he understood what was happening. When she knew she was out of his sight, she ran. On the way she lost the keys to her car. His goddamned street was as well lit as a cave; might as well try to find a needle in a stack of hay. Where were her keys?
She was mad at herself. Why had she let him in? Why on earth had she let him destroy what she had carefully built during 15 years of constant emotional control and mastering. She had worked so hard to shelter herself from pain, to compartmentalize, as she would say. She had learned not to rely on emotional attachment, not to rely on other persons. She had known very early on in her life that the only constant was the self. But he had made his way in, like a damn snake. Slowly, but surely. He had made his way in the remotest corners of her life and her brain. He was everywhere, every inch of herself was something he had grazed. She hated that. Oblivious to the irony of time, she had forgotten that ten minutes before, the same idea made her happier than she had ever been. Now she hated him too. She hated how he had infiltrated her existence. How he had not given her a choice, how he had seduced her into surrendering her individuality. And where the hell were her keys?

- "Bones..."

Of course he would come down. Of course he would try to play the usual knight in shiny armor stunt. What had he told the fish lady? That he would be right back? That he had something to take care of? Maybe he had told her to wait for him in the bathtub. The idea made her cringe. Despite her sudden hatred, the shadow of lingering jealousy would not go. She could not control her emotions, not when she had decided to strip naked a mere ten minutes before, and expose her innermost being to him. She was naked, just now. Stripped of her common sense, of her defenses. She was helpless.
When he saw her, kneeling in front of her car, he feared at first that she had gotten sick. He was feeling terrible, worse than that. He would rather die, than to see her cry. If someone else had done to her what he was doing, he would have killed them. He knelt beside her, grabbing her shoulder to make her look at him. But she pushed him back, he almost lost his balance. Then she got up and he followed; yes, she was crying. He wanted to die.

- "I had learned. I knew. I should have known. It's just... It's all your fault. You made me forget. You made me vulnerable. I shouldn't have let you. I should never have."

He knew exactly what she was trying to say. He had spent enough time, trying to make her understand that with him, she could let herself be vulnerable because, after all, he was there to protect her from harm. He was there. All the time. Even now, when he knew she did not want him. His guilt was becoming unbearable, he had to do something. So he made a step forward, to take her in his arms, but she pushed him, open hands on his chest. When he realized her attempt to get rid of him was weak, he insisted.

- "No, Booth. It's your fault."

And she ended up in his arms, her head buried in his chest as he whispered.

- "I know."

He knew. Of course. He had been the architect of all this, he had made her softer than she could stand and the sadistic irony of life was that he may have destroyed what he had created. So instinctively trying to make up for it, he enveloped her with all his love. Slowly rocking her, making slow, soothing circles with his thumbs on her back. Silently trying to make this hurt go away, although he knew it would take much more than that. Feeling her sobbing against him made him feel miserable, incapable, inadequate. Worse than that, he felt her inner contradiction playing out right in front of him, there, against his very skin. She accompanied her uncontrollable sobs with a frantic grip on his t-shirt. It felt as though she was afraid to let go as much as she was attempting to hurt him. He did not know what else to do, so he just said what he thought would appear pathetically out of place, yet indispensable for him to say.

- "I love you."

He felt her stiffen as soon as the words came out of his mouth; her grip suddenly loosening and her desire to escape from his embrace more pressing. But he resisted once more, holding onto her with both despair and determination. After a few seconds, her resistance ceased and she clang to him again. He wanted her to know that he would never let go, and there was no better way. She knew he was trying to assert his power over her by doing that, but she simply had no strength to contradict him. She was submerged by a contradictory sense of security, in the arms of a man she hated. Or did she hate him, really? Well, did he love her, really? What words could possibly mean anyway? She was not responsive to words, only to his reassuring, familiar scent. She hated herself, but her weakness took over her. Until the words ruined it all again.

- "Shhh, I'm here."

Her resentment, all her fears came back instantly. He was lying to her! He was holding her, like another promise and he was lying! She felt like punching him. She remembered that one time in the past, when she had punched her frustration away, and recalled that it had not be as satisfying as she would have thought. No, she preferred to escape. Go back home, somewhere, someplace and just... forget. Cry, puke, run away. She fought her way out of his embrace, wiping her eyes with anger. Seeing herself, she hated him all the more. He had transformed her into that. Weak, pathetic, crying, clinging to him, needy, stupid woman.

- "It's because of things like that. You weakened me with all that. Stop it. I don't want you to paternalize me again."

The anger and resentment in her voice made his throat tighten. Desperate, he took another step forward, involuntarily blocking her between him and her car.

- "I'm not paternalizing you. I love you."

- "Stop saying that!"

He had whispered, she had shouted. He did not know if there would be a way out of this. The nightmarish possibility that it was the last time he ever spoke to her made him sick. He took a breath, trying to recompose himself. He would plead until she heard, he promised himself. He would get down on his knees, but he would not let her go. When he looked at her, hatred and disappointment clouding her eyes, he wondered why she was not kicking her way out of his grip and he realized that everything was not lost. If she had wanted to, he would be holding his crotch right now, lying on the sidewalk. So he drew closer, putting his hands on each side of her.

- "I know you're afraid..."

He was trying to win time, nothing more. He did not really know if she was afraid. She had been her whole life, but lately it seemed she had been more fierce.

- "I'm not afraid, I'm hurt, Booth. You hurt me. You made me believe I could trust you."

- "You can trust me."

He felt horrible saying that, knowing perfectly that she would not believe him. Yet it was true. She could trust him with her heart, her life. With every parcel of her being. He would never, ever let go. But he had done that. He had slipped, once. Maybe there was no making up for it. But he would try all the same. He had to. She was the single most important thing in his life; if she disappeared, nothing would make sense anymore.

- "Let me go, Booth."

- "I can't."

She felt the urge to tell him that he could, he only had to get his hands off of her car and get the hell out of her way. But she felt that if she went away now, she would never come back and, strangely, she did not want it to be the last time she ever saw Seeley Booth. She broke eye contact, leaning against her car, looking down. Lost, literally.

- "Go back upstairs. She's waiting for you."

- "I'm waiting for you."

She frowned. What the hell was he trying to say? He knew she hated metaphors, she seldom understood them. She liked things to be true, to be real, not to be clothed with linguistic devices.

- "It doesn't make any sense."

He felt like his whole life was reduced to a race he could not win. He had to find the necessary resources to convince her and he knew more than anyone else that if she resolved to it, there could be no convincing her at all. After all, her legendary stubbornness was another of the reasons why he was so madly in love with her. Then it clicked. He knew what to say.

- "You remember, that evening, years ago... We had closed a case on those beauty pageant contestants, we were gathering our notes at the lab, eating those doughnuts..."

- "Yes, I remember. What?"

She crossed her arms, visibly losing patience; but seeing her willing to participate in the conversation made him hope. He would convince her.

- "That evening, I realized I was in love with you. I remember the exact instant when I realized it. It scared the crap out of me, because I didn't know what it would do to us. I didn't know if I could live with it. So I just let it flow. I let time strengthen us. I wanted you to trust me. I wanted to protect you."

Tears filled her eyes again. Not because his words made any sense, but because she resented his stubborn attempt at convincing her that he deserved to be trusted. She had in the past, what had it given her? Those tears? Pain?

- "You won. I trust you. What do I get from that, aside from disappointment?"

He sighed.

- "When Cathy... I felt frustrated. After that day when Sweets made you read his book... I just...I didn't know if I had been right to wait for you. I didn't know if you wanted anything from me at all. At least, not like that. Not like I wanted you."

She had never heard her first name before. She did not even remember what was her family name. How long had he seen her? Since the case, probably. It had been a month. He had lied for a month. He had told her he loved her and he had lied for a month. Why? Because he thought she did not want anything? Hadn't she made herself clear? She had told him she needed time. Apparently she had overestimated his patience. But why hadn't he asked anything? Said anything? She had always considered that there should be no silence, no fear between them. It was the utmost component of their partnership to her. Of their relationship. There was not a thing he ignored about her. That meant it was different for him. That meant he did not trust her as much as she trusted him. She felt like crying again. How could he love her, if he did not trust her?

- "Why didn't you just ask?"

He looked desperate. Despite her resentment, she could not help that feeling of empathy from invading her heart. She was hurting him, as much as he had hurt her. That was no more satisfying than a punch. Nor was her desire to escape. Nothing could satisfy her. She was trapped by his love, trapped by her own weakness.

- "I was scared. I mean... I trapped myself in that situation, right? Waiting... All those years. Being dependable, reliable. I knew it would turn against me, but I had to do it. I didn't want to rush you. All those years... What we became to each other, it's just... too important. See the irony? I waited because I wanted you to know that you could trust me; and when you did trust me it became impossible to endanger it all."

She did not see the irony, because she had wanted as much as he had wanted out of this, out of them. She had accepted to "endanger it all" because she thought that he wanted it too. He had told her he wanted to! Hadn't he? Her throat tightened again. Betrayal was impossible to process. She had erased it from her system when her parents had abandoned her.

- "So you decided it was better as it was? You dangled all those promises in front of me, you made me believe in it and you decided it was enough?"

She was nearly shouting again; this time he joined her. Incapable to control that familiar sensation of frustration seizing him.

- "I never decided it was enough. I thought you didn't want it."

His tone startled her. He had been patiently whispering to her all the truth he had within himself, and now he was done waiting. The parallel between their situation and his attitude struck her. He was done waiting. She had made him wait too long. She had thought he could wait indefinitely. But he did not... He moved on. Anger started to invade her, jealousy. Once more, she did not fight either of these emotions, she let them wash over her, transport her.

- "So you decided to settle for a more sociable version of me?"

- "When you decided to settle for a more bureaucratic version of me, you mean?"

There was defiance in his eyes and she remembered. Andrew. She had not cared, at all. Ever. She had seen him because she wanted to be sure that what she was feeling for Booth was different. That it was not mere physical attraction, that it meant something. And it did. Andrew had been an experiment, nothing more. So this was what this was all about? Andrew? He had tried to make her jealous by retaliating?

- "Is this what it's all about? Andrew? You wanted to make me jealous?"

- "I don't know what I wanted! I wanted you! But I didn't know how to deal with it anymore! You drove me fucking crazy! Crazy with jealousy, with frustration!"

He was louder this time, but she only stared back. She was confused, feeling the weight of her own responsibility in that whole situation. If he had been the architect of her weaknesses, she had been the architect of his fears. All of it. Could he ever forgive her? As she observed him, his expression softened, for he realized he had hit the right spot. He had convinced her. His need for her overcame all his senses and started to lean forward to kiss her; but he stopped when he saw her gaze shift towards something behind them. Instinctively, he looked there. Only to realize that Dr Klein... Cathy, was there, watching them. How long had she been there? She was smiling, sympathetically. Yeah, she had probably been there long enough.

- "You should continue this discussion upstairs, your neighbors are going to call the cops."

Bones instantly frowned at what she considered to be a stupid comment. Was that woman really a doctor? If she was physically attractive, following certain criterion, she was certainly not bright. She pointed her index towards Booth, they were so close that she could touch him, simply by extending her hand. When she realized that, she took a step back, only to be reminded that she was leaning against her car. She wondered what that little scene looked like, from the outside.

- "Booth is a cop."

The doctor smiled again, was that sympathy?

- "You're right, but still. I think you should get back upstairs. Plus I left the door open, I didn't know if you had your keys."

With that she gave them both a last smile and made her way to her car. They stood there, frozen, and watched her drive off. It was surrealistic, romantic-comedy like. Yet it happened. After a few seconds, Booth looked at his partner, trapped in his embrace. She was still watching the traffic, still confused.

- "You wanna go back upstairs?"

He feared his boldness would seem incongruous, but she simply nodded, without returning his gaze. He bit his lower lip, determined not to let her slip into silence. Not now that he was close from... From what exactly? He had no idea, but he knew they were saved. To make sure, he grabbed her hand to lead her inside his building. She did not resist. Lucky he believed in signs.

There walk towards his apartment was quiet, he felt as though each of their movement was in slow-motion. He hated silence, always had, always would. Probably because it seemed too empty, too unpredictable. Probably because through silence, he could not read into her as he usually would. Now he desperately needed to read into her. He had no effing idea of what to say. Yes, she was holding his hand -or rather, he was holding hers. Yes, she was slightly leaning onto him but it might as well be out of weariness, or habit. None of the usual references he would use to make his way into her brain worked now. Not after he had almost broken her. She was his personal china doll, priceless, unique and so utterly fragile.
When they reached his door, slightly open, she made her way in without a look. She simply took her hand back. Not harshly, she just... let it slip out of his grasp and she disappeared inside. When he joined her after having locked the door, he saw she was sitting on the couch. It seemed pathetic for him to smile for such a detail but when he saw that she was sitting on the same spot as she always did, he felt reassured. Some things did not change. Nothing would change. Except that she was still not looking at him, she was staring ahead, absently. He recognized her gaze -he had called it her "lost little girl" gaze. Usually he could make it go away with a joke, or a smile. It would not be that simple now. So he sat beside her, waiting to find something to say that might do the trick. But there was nothing. Nothing seemed relevant, or up-to-the-point.

- "You wanna drink something?"

Great. Well, at least he had put an end to this unbearable silence. She just shook her head, still staring at that invisible chaos she seemed to be fighting, her brows slightly furrowed as though from concentration. She was processing.

- "You had dinner?"

She shook her head again. Was he trying to reinstall some sort of casual relationship or exchange between them? She did not know. She just needed to think. Review all the things they had said in the past half hour and discover the hidden meaning of it all. His constantly interrupting her was not helping. But his insistence reminded her of an important fact, he was there. They were both there, where she had wanted them to be when she had decided to talk to him earlier tonight. They had hurt each other, undoubtedly, but they were there. Nothing had changed or moved, it seemed. She felt foolish not to be mad anymore, nor to feel betrayed. It was all gone the second she realized he had only responded to determinism. She had hurt him, made him wait, made him wonder and he had lost patience, lost balance. She had been the cause of these effects. She had created that situation. She had had fears, doubts and it had taken over her desires and feelings for too long. She wondered how he had succeeded in waiting for so long, without losing his mind. She could not have.

- "I came tonight to tell you I loved you."

Her gaze finally met his as she said those words he had prayed for, longed for, yearned for. It took him some seconds to realize that she had said it out loud. It seemed too good to be true. Yet she had said it. Not that he had doubted the depth of her feelings, seeing her recent behavior, but her saying it equaled her acknowledging it, accepting it. Now what could he say, not to damage this awakening? He had already done too much. What could he do? Take her in his arms again? Kiss her? She answered herself, resuming her speech –a speech much different than what she had rehearsed, hours before. It actually seemed to her that their fight had served a larger purpose; that of putting her doubts in perspective.

- "... I had weighted pros and cons and decided that it was okay. All the things you said earlier about our relationship strengthening over time and your overly protective behavior towards me, those were both the con and pro elements that bothered me the most. I shared your fear of endangering a perfectly functional relationship, but in balance, I had you... A dependable man who had never betrayed me. I guess I was scared of betrayal my whole life, but I never was with you. This is why tonight I realized it was not necessarily a negative thing to put myself in a weak position by telling you I needed you. You had made me need you. You were the architect of all this."

He felt his heart melt with the need to take her in his arms, shelter her again, make her feel that she could need him always. But he fought that urge when she chuckled. It was a disillusioned, bitter laugh; something he was not used to. She resumed speaking again, now focusing her gaze on her hands, almost shameful to have given so much of her thoughts, of herself.

- "...I have never been particularly apt to discern irony in the past, but here I believe it applies. I come to tell you I know you won't betray me and you do, right in front of me."

She needed to say it. Even though it seemed to her that this betrayal was the result of a series of misunderstandings, the idea that the person she trusted the most could be out of her reach, out of her perception while she considered he did not ignore a thing of her... That idea unsettled her. So she did not seek revenge, or forgiveness; she simply wanted to be reassured. He felt it in her voice, so he knelt in front of her and put his hands on her thighs. The intimacy of his gesture made her shiver slightly, he would always have that effect on her, she thought. No matter how chaotic things were, his presence, his attention made everything else irrelevant.

- "Bones, I did not betray you. I never could. You're the most important, the most beautiful thing that ever happened to me."

She frowned. The elementary beauty of his declaration made no sense. Was that another linguistic device? She knew she was not the most beautiful and most important thing in his life.

- "What about Parker?"

He smiled, obviously she would say that. She had issues understanding the concept of love on different levels. At least, she did not call him a liar when he declared he had not betrayed her. It was true, he had not; he knew it. But his awareness of the fact meant nothing if she did not believe it too. If she did... Then it meant that she was ready to accept the fullness of his love, with its flaws and inconsistencies.

- "It's not the same thing. Parker is my flesh. He's a part of me literally. You are a part of me on a different level. You're in my blood."

- "It's impossible. It's... It's metaphoric, right?"

She loved the warmth of his smile, when she grasped the meaning of his words. This particular smile made her feel loved, understood, awaited. This was because of that smile that she had decided to let her guard down and simply... accept the inevitability of their common fate. If there was such a thing as fate. Which there most likely was not, but still. She accepted him in as something that could never be otherwise, however illogical that might look.

- "Yes. Look... Catherine means nothing. No one ever meant anything since that evening I realized I was in love with you."

He was pleading, it seemed. She wondered why. She had accepted the truth of his statement long before he even said it, she was past anger now. But she still had issues with the logic of his behavior. He had tried to send her a message by seeing this woman? Her first assumption was that he had tried to make her jealous, then she had feared that he had simply lost patience and decided that he could find someone else. But that bothered her. He, who had spent so much time telling her that people left metaphoric marks on each other; had he erased her mark? He said he loved her. It just made no sense.

- "Then why seeing her at all? Where's the logic in that? If you love me..."

He sighed, staring at his hands. He realized he was caressing her knees with his thumbs. Touching her was something so natural to him usually, but right then it felt as though he was crossing an invisible boundary. He felt like he had no right; so he stopped. He could not touch her until she was certain, convinced, that he deserved it.

- "I told you. I was frustrated, and confused. You knew I loved you and you just... You didn't do anything about it. You dated Andrew."

Impatience and jealousy, then. It was both of it. But hadn't she told him she was almost there? Almost where he wanted them to be? She had made herself clear, no?

- "I needed time to process things!"

- "With Andrew?"

His words were soft, never tainted with anger. That helped her realize that she had not been as clear as she had thought. How pathetic? She was a logical empiricist, clarity of speech was a sine qua non condition in her professional life. Why couldn't it be the same when it came to personal matters? Her mouth slightly opened as this truth dawned upon her.

- "There isn't any more logic in that than in your seeing the fish lady after you said you loved me, right?"

He loved everything about her, that second. Her adorable nose when she made that face; her way not to remember names. Well, he was glad she did not remember that name. Shit, he had been such an asshole with that woman too. He would have to call her to apologize and explain... Not that he thought she needed further explanations after what she had probably seen. Anyway, he did not want to think about that just then. Not when he and Bones were closer than they had ever been. When they had been so close from becoming strangers to one another, merely fifteen minutes prior. He tried the charm smile to see if she would respond or not.

- "We're usually very logic people, aren't we?"

She did instantly respond, unable to stop the birth of a smile of her own.

- "Well, I am. You're not, most of the time. So I suppose it means my lack for logic threw you out of balance and forced you to reconsider your position."

He made a face.

- "If that means what I think it means in plain English, yes. I tried, pathetically, to hurt you back. Not really hurt you... I could never even think of it. I just wanted..."

She interrupted him. It made sense now. He had tried to send her a message.

- "To provoke an epiphany? It's sort of a waste of time. I'm quite adept at figuring things out on my own. I did, actually, figure it out on my own."

It was true, after all, hadn't she come to his place to tell him she knew? Well, his message did have the effect he expected, it had made her consider certain things in a different way. But she had already come to grips with most of it before he forced her to face it all. He smiled, mostly because her comment reflected her good old self.

- "If you had not, you would not be Bones."

- "I would be Catherine?"

Another charm smile on. She had received his pathetic, yet indispensable message.

- "I did make you jealous, didn't I?"

She frowned. Hadn't she made that clear? All the shouting, the crying, the reproaches; that certainly meant something, right? Or was she really a lost cause to personal logic?

- "Of course! You deliberately chose a light version of me! It was comparable to asserting that you could find other types of me -although pale in comparison- and that you did not need me!"

Yes, his good old Bones was back. He had two choices, either he played the romantic card and put an emphasis on how much he needed her, or he furthered those painfully necessary explanations, so that no doubt would subside between them. He chose the latter. Better be safe than sorry, he thought.

- "Andrew..."

- "What, Andrew?"

He gave her his best sympathetic, paternalistic smile. She instantly felt foolish not to understand where he was going exactly. Jealousy again? They had covered that topic already, no? Well, they had covered her side of the story. Not his.

- "Another type of me, pale in comparison..."

Yes, they would have to cover his side of the story. He was about to get her to confess that she had been the cause of all this. But not just yet. She did not want to surrender; mainly because her instinct of contradiction was stronger than her common sense. Well, tonight all her senses were upside down anyway.

- "But I was afraid of endangering both our well-beings. What's your excuse?"

He frowned, was that him or was her protest really shallow? She was admitting, without words, that she knew she had played a role in that mess. That was a first. So, he decided it was time for him to play his last card. He put on his lost puppy face.

- "I thought you didn't need me."

That worked instantly. She felt terrible, all the ideas of betrayal, of trust, of comfort zones breached were lost when she realized that this man was on his knees, pleading her to need him. She did. Of course. She had for years, even though she had realized it almost too late. She covered his hands with hers, staring at her fingers, slowly moving against his skin. Her gesture sent such strong waves of desire through his body that he wondered if he would be able to stand another minute without making love to her.

- "Do you need me?"

Her voice was weak, uncertain. Because if she needed him, she was still unsure to see her feelings reciprocated. After all, he was an alpha-male with strong protective instinct, being submitted to need was unlikely in most cases. But she remembered the words of his grandfather: "He is big and strong, but he will need someone. Everyone needs someone." Did he need her? His heavy sigh was a first answer, it felt like a sigh of intense relief.

- "Yes."

So he was willing to put himself in as weak a position as she had put herself in? The thought made her smile. They were where she wanted them to be, both in the same place, with the same expectations. There would be not hierarchical contradictions, they were one and the same. Her smile made him hopeful, maybe it was time to act upon his feelings. It was not dangerous anymore. Not safe either, but... Yeah, he had to anyway, he could not contain himself.

- "You want me to show you?"

He had his playful smile on.

- "Show me? You can't show need Booth, at least no in that cont..."

His lips interrupted her. Softly pushing her backward into the couch, his hands still on her knees, he kissed her with all the desperate need he had concealed until then. He could show her. Definitely. When she let her hands trail along his arms, up to his shoulders, then in his hair, he felt that she would not object, he was sort of good at proving things, anyway. Especially with kisses. He parted her legs with one knee, settling his weight onto the couch to be at eye level with her and let his hands explore her body. Her waist, the sides of her breasts, her neck. It was nothing like the kisses they had exchanged before. It screamed sex, desire, lust. He broke it before she could notice the effect this physical closeness had on him. Too late, he thought, as one of her thighs grazed his crotch. She smiled, panting.

- "It shows you want me. Not that you need me."

So he would have to be more persuasive? That was not an issue. He had been persuasive the whole evening, and with far less pleasing topics.

- "It's more than want... It's a situation when I can't say if I'll ever be able to live without you. That's need. You're like air, water or food."

- "Hence the hungry, breath-taking kiss, I suppose. Another metaphor, right?"

He loved the playful version of Bones. That version of her he had molded himself. She had been so right, he had been the architect of her inner self. Well, he preferred to think that he had helped to set her free from years of control, denial and fears. He smiled against her lips.

- "Exactly."

As he kissed her again, she grabbed his butt to settle him between her thighs. Just now he was unable to let his usually persistent chivalry take over his overwhelming need for her; he wanted her, bad and there was no thinking it over. He pushed his crotch against hers, and she moaned against his mouth. He realized it was Bones, moaning. It felt like a dream -or a recurrent fantasy- come true. If only they were in a more comfortable position. He feared the couch would not resist his pushing her backwards; there was a good chance they would end up upside down. But what would she think if he carried her to his bedroom? Or simply if he made her lie beneath him? Yeah, that was a stupid question, really. But that was the sign that his intrusive sense of chivalry would not leave him alone just yet. Then she broke the kiss, her eyes sparkling with desire. She would most likely not mind any of the options he had considered.

- "Did you plan on having sex with the fish lady tonight?"

He groaned. Bones, come on! Not now!

- "Bones... Don't bring that up when I'm kissing you!"

She smiled. What the hell was she trying to do? She licked her swollen lips, playing with his t-shirt.

- "It's just... I wouldn't want to be the cause of your abstinence."

That amused him as much as it startled him. If she knew... He had been abstinent for so long, he did not even remember when was the last time he had... Had he considered doing it with Klein? Sure, he was a guy. But then again, that did not mean he had any intention to actually do it. Did she really want to discuss that or? Damn. No. She was telling him she wanted to substitute herself to... Oh boy, he hated that thought. There was no substituting her to anyone; she was the one, for God's sakes. Plus his damned chivalrous self was kicking in too. Reminding him that they could not let themselves being carried away that fast. That despite years of longing, it was all too fast. He wanted to do it right. Not on his couch. Well, it was not so much the couch that the fact that it was their first time. Their tenth, hundredth time would be okay on the couch, or in any other location she would consider adequate. Not the first.

- "Bones, we shouldn't. It's too early for that."

She checked her watch.

- "It's already past midnight..."

He frowned. She was faking obliviousness to get what she wanted. That would have made him laugh if he had not been entirely unsure of his ability to control himself.

- "Don't get literal on me on purpose, Bones. You know what I mean."

He didn't want to? Well, his body certainly did not back up that statement. She could feel his arousal pulsating against her, he was certainly in agony right now. Was he trying to be over-protective again? She was 33 years old, not a virginal bride! He did not have to protect her from... From what by the way? A fantastic orgasm? Or did he fear that it would be sex for sex? So she would have to do what she mastered the less: expressing love and reassurance.

- "I thought we had come to terms with the fact that we loved each other... wanted each other... needed each other..."

She smiled at her newly discovered ability. She did not suck as much as she had thought when it came to expressing her feelings. Well, that certainly was much easier when she had proofs that her feelings were reciprocated. There was no fear of rejection when the man she loved was held captive between her legs, trying his best not to tear her clothes apart. She knew each of the kisses she gave him, seductively, furthered his agony; but she wanted him to give in. He would, undoubtedly if she continued to be that persuasive.

- "Yes, but it's too soon. I mean, barely 30 minutes ago we were fighting on the street, for God's sakes! We can't just fight and make up and... make out and, you know... make love."

She frowned, why not?

- "We did three fourth of these things already. Please?"

She was going to be the death of him. And why in hell was he trying to be reasonable again, everything was simpler five minutes before. He groaned, and got up, sitting beside her.

- "Don't plead for that!"

- "Why?"

- "Because it's too arousing."

She smiled, she had won. Determined to celebrate her victory, she took off her jacket and settled herself on his lap. Deliberately brushing the oh-so-painful spot with her own. At that moment she realized what she was doing, and with whom. The thought aroused her all the more.

- "Please?"

- "Dammit..."

So that was the sexy, playful Bones? How could it even be remotely possible to resist that? He gave up, seizing her skull with passion and kissing her. It all happened in a second, now she was lying beneath him, holding him prisoner of her embrace. But as soon as it started, he stopped. Damn the knight in a shiny armor deal. Well, there was no denying who he was.

- "Not on the couch. We can't do it on a couch."

- "Why not?"

Her hands pushing his body against her, sneaking into his jeans and cupping his buttocks were not helping him to form intelligible sentences.

- "It's too tacky. I want it to be all Marvin Gaye."

That would most likely make no sense to her, but that was the best he could do, seeing the circumstances. Did she know how unbearable it was to maintain pressure there? Of course she knew. Damn she knew how to torture him.

- "What's Marvin Gaye?"

- "It's a Motown singer who... Whatever. The thing is that..."

There was no more stepping back. They wanted each other anyway, and they were not kids anymore. They had waited enough. He did not even know why he was listing reasons to give in when he already had in reality. So he sighed, looking at that woman he was crazily in love with. She was smiling, teasing him. Yeah, there was no more stepping back.

- "... Okay, could you just let me set up the bedroom?"

With that he got up, with difficulty since she was reluctant to let him escape her grip. She frowned. Was that it? What did he mean by "setting up the bedroom"? He obviously saw she had no idea of what he was doing, so he kissed her disappointment away. Half scared to look too cheesy, half satisfied at the idea that he would lead the way tonight. Show her what it meant to him, to possess her finally.

- "Just wait here a second, 'k?"

- "Does it mean you want to install a romantic setting to give another dimension to our experience?"

He smiled. She was just hot. There was no other word to describe her factual, analytical vision right now. Well, his crazy arousal was helping him to idealize her usual mambo-jumbo, but he did not care. She was hot, period.

- "Yes."

Finally, she smiled back. Remembering that his thoughtfulness had always been a comfort over the years. Now it would be stimulating as well. He was amazing. She was in love with him, undoubtedly.

- "Alright. While you do that I will..."

She got up and started to remove her top, but he stopped her. No way he would not be the one removing her clothes. He had fantasized about that much too numerous times. He took her hands, caressing her palms.

- "No, I get to do that."

She leaned against him, her breasts grazing his chest purposely as she whispered in his ear, teasing; a devilish smile on.

- "Hurry up."

Her breath was hot against his skin, it took all his will power not to forget why he had chosen to delay things when he could simply take her there. He raced in his kitchen to try and find candles, where the hell did he keep them? He only had some he
kept in case of black-out, nothing really romantic, but that would have to do. Music? Music... Holy shit, what could he put on? His actual Marvin Gaye CD was in his car. Plus, reflecting upon it, he did not really know if "Let's get in on" would put her in the right mood. He preferred something more neutral, less... challenging. Jazz? Coltrane? Good pick. Perfection would have been champagne and roses, but he had neither of these. Damn. Hot bath? How long would it take for the tub to actually fill up? Too long. They could do that later. But what if it seemed too awkward to just take her to the bedroom and... Yeah well, that would be as awkward to tell her that he had a bath ready for them. Holy shit, now he wanted to do it. A wet naked Bones was firmly implanted in his mind and that did not help his focus. Maybe he should ask her what she thought of it? Naah, that would be sissy. Why did everything need to be complicated? Because it had to be perfect, right. Because it had to say "I respect you" before it said "You make my pants go crazy". He decided finally that the bath would be romantic.

Ten minutes later he came back in the living room, and he smiled. She had fallen asleep. Of course. He took her in his arms to settle her in his bed. She instinctively wrapped her arms around him, settling her head against his shoulder. It was perfect. Simple, and perfect.
When he started to undress her to get her under the sheets, he smiled at the irony of it all. Then she mumbled, struggling to sit up, her eyes closed.

- "M'ready..."

He chuckled. She was still determined to get what she wanted, even half asleep. Wasn't that so much like her?

- "You're exhausted. You're going to sleep."

- "Why-ou undress'm then?"

He was removing her jeans, trying not to think about the softness of her skin, the roundness of her thighs and the adorable color of her panties. He would never have thought she would favor such girlish undergarments. He had always thought of her as a black lace woman, but she was a white cotton one. That simple perfection dazzled him.

- "I'm undressing you because I don't like it when someone sleeps with street clothes in my bed."

And mostly because he had said he would do it and it seemed to be the only thing he would be able to do tonight. She smiled, her eyes still closed.

- "T's nice."

When she was comfortably settled in his bed, he started to undress himself to join her. He remembered the bathtub filled with hot water, the candles and he cursed himself silently. When he started for the bathroom, he saw her struggling to open her eyes.

- "Booth..."

- "Yeah?"

- "Still want to..."

Could she be more adorable? Arousing? Lovable? The lower region of his body was on fire. He had no idea how long it would take for it to calm down. But there was no way he would risk to have her fall asleep in the middle of what he had planned to be made of perfect perfection. And he was not bragging, merely stating a fact. How could it not be perfect between them? It would be, when they would be... both awake.

- "I see that. Later. Now sleeping together will be enough."

He frowned at his own words. And so did she. He had a hard time fighting a laugh, seeing her make that face with her eyes still tightly shut.

- "Yeah, now I'm the one being literal, Bones. Sleeping together as in sharing the same bed and trying not to snore. I'll be right back."

Once in the bathroom, and putting on his Pjs, Booth reflected upon the last hour with an intense feeling of exhaustion. He was relieved, happy, complete but it had been one hell of a fight. Not that he had expected things to be easy; if it had been it would have had no interest, in reality. If he had fallen in love with her, it was precisely because nothing was plain in her presence. Everything seemed to embrace a larger sense of truth, of depth. When he returned to his bedroom, he saw she had buried her face in his pillow, holding onto it tightly. If he had been cocky -and he was- he would have said she enjoyed his scent. Well, he knew she did anyway. He settled beside her in bed and she instantly let go of the pillow to hold onto him.

- "Smell good..."

See? He had not imagined things. He could return the compliment, her scent was the most intoxicating thing ever. Her shampoo... Well he had told her in the past. He kissed the top of her head, caressing her bare back. Nothing to silence his intense craving for her, but that would wait.

- "And I didn't even take a bath..."

She smiled in her sleep, even though she did not understand the real meaning of his words. She had come to his place to tell him she loved him. He had told her he loved her. That was simple. Enough to let herself fall in a contented sleep.


Author's note (again): Oh and if you ask yourself if they do it during the night, yeah they do :p. I might or might not write it mmh...