AN: Happy Holidays, readers! I wish I could get each of you your own Seeley Booth, but, alas, I am a woman of limited means, so I'm giving you this story instead.
AN2: I have to give shout-outs to my peeps CalleighAryn (hope you're having fun in Chi-town) and Marta (hope you're enjoying your last few days in the States).
"Merry Christmas, Wendell!" Booth said when the young intern (his favorite by far) answered his cell phone.
"Hey Booth! Merry Christmas! Congrats on getting the guys who blew up Santa." A female voice shouted in the background. "My mom wants to add her congratulations. She says you're a real hero."
Booth smiled. "Tell her I say thanks. I'm sorry to interrupt your family time, but I was hoping I could ask you a question. What's your chromium bone?" He had tried to find out online, but trusted sources Google and Wikipedia had failed him for the first time.
"Your what?" Wendell figured he must have misheard him.
"Your…chromium bone?" Booth repeated hesitantly.
Wendell laughed. "Chromium isn't a bone. It's a metal."
"I know it's a metal," Booth snapped. "But I thought it might be a bone too."
"It's not. Sorry, Booth."
Booth sighed. "I'm probably saying it wrong. Is there a bone that sounds like chromium?"
"Let me think for a minute." Several seconds passed silently as Wendell ran through bone names in his head. "Actually, there is. The acromion forms the highest point of your scapula…that's your shoulder."
"So my shoulder tops are perfect," Booth thought out loud. It was hardly the most flattering praise he had ever received, but any compliment from Bones was one he treasured. "Thanks, Wendell."
"Anytime. So who thinks your shoulder tops are perfect?" Wendell asked, even though he was fairly sure he already knew the answer.
"An expert," Booth answered, not wanting to open himself up to teasing about Bones.
Wendell was wise enough not to push the issue. "Okay. Hey, if you don't have plans for tonight, my mom's cooking a huge dinner. Seriously huge. There's only going to be ten of us and she's probably making enough food for twenty. I'm sure she'd be honored if you joined us."
"That's a very nice invitation, but tonight I'm having dinner at Bones' apartment with her family." He grinned at the thought. Aside from Parker, there was no one he'd rather spend the holiday with.
Wendell smiled at the excitement in Booth's voice. He could tell that Booth loved Dr. Brennan and he hoped that one day he'd man up and tell her. "That's awesome. Tell Dr. B I said hi."
"I will," Booth promised. "Merry Christmas!"
"Merry Christmas!" Angela chirped when Brennan picked up her cell phone. "So I'm just sitting around in my apartment, not doing anything, so I thought I could come over and help you get Christmas dinner ready. What do you think?"
Brennan was signing her name on yet another form. "I appreciate the offer, but I'm actually not in my apartment right now."
Angela frowned. She bet that she knew exactly where Brennan was. "Tell me you're not in the lab."
"I could tell you that, but it wouldn't be true."
"I needed to finish up a few things. I'll be going home very soon."
Angela had heard that line too many times before. "You promise?"
"I promise." Brennan had only a few more forms to complete, so she fully intended to keep her word.
"Good. I'll check up on you later then."
"Ange, wait," Brennan said as the memory of undressing Booth sprang into her mind. That particular memory had been on her mind more times than she wanted to admit. "You know a lot about men."
Angela smiled. "I would agree with that. Do you have a man question?"
"Yes. Why would a man start reciting the names of saints when his pants were being removed?"
Angela bit back a laugh. "I assume you're talking about Booth…unless you've been undressing someone else I don't know about."
"No, just Booth," Brennan answered, not realizing Angela was joking.
Angela chuckled. "Well, knowing Booth, I would say he was trying valiantly to distract himself."
"Because losing his clothing was making him uncomfortable? That doesn't make sense; I've seen him naked before."
Angela nearly dropped the phone. "You have?! When?"
"A couple years ago." Brennan was already sorry that she had mentioned it.
"A couple years ago? And I'm just hearing about it now? That is such a violation of the best friend code!"
"That's not a real code, is it?"
"No, sweetie." As annoyed as she was, Angela found herself smiling. "But seeing your sexy partner naked is a big deal! I wish you had told me earlier."
Brennan rolled her eyes. She hadn't told Angela then because she knew that her friend would react this way. "It wasn't a big deal. I went to his apartment to talk to him after his fake funeral and he happened to be in his bathtub."
Angela would have given anything to have been a fly on the wall in that bathroom. "Wow. That must have been really awkward."
"No. I've seen plenty of men naked." Booth's body was impressive--very impressive--but he didn't have anything that she hadn't seen before.
"So how did Mr. Cocky Belt Buckle measure up against the rest?"
"He's…" Brennan paused, her face involuntarily flushing at the memory. "…structured very well." She smiled as she remembered the conversation they had had years ago over doughnuts.
Angela's mind recalled Brennan wheeling her nearly naked partner around the Jeffersonian. "He certainly is."
"So why would Booth need to distract himself?" Brennan asked, eager to get them back on topic.
"He was probably trying to stop himself from getting too excited."
Brennan frowned. "I don't think he was excited about having human remains on his clothing."
"Sexually excited, Bren!" Angela didn't know how her brilliant friend could be so clueless sometimes. "Because the woman he loves was undressing him."
"Don't say he doesn't love you," Angela interrupted. "You can't argue with me on Christmas; that's a rule. Christmas is a day to show the people you love how much you care about them, so I'll be at your place in an hour to help with dinner."
Booth felt grateful that Bones had invited him here, and he was delighted to be sitting beside her. He was less delighted to be sitting across from her cousin Margaret, who kept saying things (probably Benjamin Franklin quotes) that he didn't understand. At one point, she seemed to be staring at him. He wondered if he was imagining it, but she confirmed his suspicions a few minutes later.
"I believe my initial impression of you was mistaken," Margaret told him. "Temperance was right--you are pleasing to look at."
Booth whirled around to face his partner. "You said that?" Brennan didn't respond, but her face gave him the answer. "So you think I'm pleasing to look at and I have a perfect acromion. I learned what that is," he said with pride. "It's the top part of your shoulder…your scapula."
Brennan smiled at his enthusiasm. "Very good, Booth. I've learned something too."
"What did you learn, Bones?" Booth asked as he put a forkful of mashed potatoes in his mouth.
"I learned why you were reciting saints' names when I was removing your pants."
"Bones!" Booth almost choked on his potatoes. He really didn't want to have this discussion in front of her relatives and the squints.
"Whoa, did I hear that right?" Max teased as he walked by them on his way to the bathroom. "Honey, were you taking Booth's pants off?"
"He had human remains on them, Dad," Brennan explained. "I needed to remove them to collect evidence." Her voice was free of emotion, but Booth noticed her cheeks reddening slightly.
Max sighed as he put a hand on Brennan's shoulder. "You kids work too hard."
"It is the working man who is the happy man," Margaret interjected. "It is the idle man who is the miserable man."
"That may be true," Max said. "But it's Christmas, Tempe. Do me a favor and let yourself have some fun."
"I have fun," Brennan said. She would certainly characterize the times she and Booth spent together outside of work as pleasurable.
Max shook his head. "Not enough. There's more to life than work. Remember that." He turned his gaze to his daughter's partner. "You too, Booth." He smiled at them and then continued walking.
"Wise men don't need advice," Margaret said. "And fools don't take it."
"Margaret." Brennan gave her cousin an exasperated look.
"I'm sorry. I can't help it. Quoting Ben has become a habit for me, and…it is easier to prevent bad habits than to break them."
"Did you just apologize for quoting Benjamin Franklin with a Benjamin Franklin quote?" Booth asked, smiling at the irony.
"I guess I did." Margaret started laughing, and soon Brennan was laughing too.
Booth wished that he had a camera to capture the moment forever. His Bones was so beautiful when she laughed.
"That was a lovely meal, Bones," Booth said after dinner had ended and all the other guests had left. "Thank you for inviting me."
"Thank you for coming." She doubted that she would have enjoyed the gathering half as much as she did if he hadn't been there. "I know the festivities were less religious than you're likely used to, and I know Margaret was annoying at times, and I'm sure you would have rather spent the holiday with Parker in Quebec, but--"
Booth took one of her hands in his and flashed her his most irresistible smile. "I was happy to spend it with you."
"I was happy to spend it with you too." She said, squeezing his hand affectionately. Before the rational part of her brain could stop her, she heard herself add: "Any Christmas you can't spend with your family, you're welcome to spend with mine."
"Any Christmas?" Booth repeated, sensing that she hadn't planned to say that.
Brennan understood that Booth was giving her a chance to take it back, but, now that she had made the offer, she realized that she meant it. "Yes."
He leaned close to her and lowered his voice. "What if I want to spend every Christmas with you?"
His sudden proximity made Brennan's heart race. "What about Parker?"
"I'd like to spend Christmases with both of you." He imagined Bones sitting by his side, his arm around her shoulders, as they watched Parker unwrap a gift. "You and Parker…you're my family."
The rational part of her brain responded. "Technically, you and I aren't related."
"There's more than one kind of family, Bones. Remember?" Acting of its own accord, his body leaned even closer to hers.
"I remember." She remembered that the first time he had said that, she had wanted to kiss him. And she wanted to kiss him now. Normally, she would talk herself out of those desires, but today was Christmas, and hadn't Angela said that Christmas was a day to show the people you loved how much you cared about them? Feeling satisfied with her logic, she let herself press her lips to his. All the lingering doubts she had about Booth's feelings for her were erased when he returned the kiss eagerly and wrapped his arms around her. "Merry Christmas, Booth," Brennan whispered nearly ten steamboats later.
The twinkle in his eyes was the brightest she'd ever seen. "Merry Christmas, Bones."
Thanks for reading! Comments are excellent Christmas presents and won't cost you a thing.