"There is just something so wrong about a man who would willingly force himself down a chimney to give presents to kids. I mean, didn't the guy think at all about the fact that maybe he'd get stuck?" Angela shook her head before taking a sip of her drink.

"I dunno, I think it's kind of sweet what he did for those kids. You know, all they wanted was a visit from Santa Claus and he tried to give that to them," Booth said as he swirled his scotch around in his glass. He could sort of understand the guy's reasoning after all, and it was a real shame that the man had gotten stuck in the chimney, but it was with the best of intentions. He snorted at his thoughts, shaking his head before knocking back his own drink.

"Okay, I get that, but couldn't he have just used the front door like most normal people would?"

"In reality, Harold Jones' body mass would have allowed him to safely pass down the chimney, but it was the suit and the extra padding that caused him to get wedged inside."

"And how do you not find him for a year? I mean shouldn't they have been concerned about the rotting corpse smell, or wonder why the smoke from fires wouldn't pass up the chimney?" Angela looked at Brennan as she asked it. That would have been an indication that there was a problem.

"I talked to the woman who runs the place and she said that she'd called to have the chimney looked at several times, but there just wasn't funding to get the thing cleaned out," Booth answered and shook his head a little. "It's just so sad that this guy tries to do so much good and instead he ends up rotting like that."

"Why is it always Santa?" Angela looked back and forth between her two friends and sighed. "I swear the last few years we have a Santa that's met some gruesome fate and it's beginning to bum me out."

"Well, 'tis the season I guess," Booth shrugged and glanced at his watch, taking a second look at the time as he did so. Man, it was later than he thought. "Well ladies, I think it's time to call it an evening. Ange, are you okay to get home, or do you need a ride?"

"Nah, I'm good Booth." The artist stood, and after paying for her drinks, grabbed her coat and turned to her friends. "Merry Christmas both of you. I'll see you after the new year." With a quick hug to both, she waved over her shoulder as she left the Founding Fathers. Booth watched her for a moment to make sure she got out okay before turning to his partner.

"So, what time are you leaving tomorrow?" He slid her coat onto her arms and up to her shoulders, trailing his hands down the front slightly in an effort to smooth down the lapels. With a smile of thanks, she turned and took his offered arm as the pair left the bar and grill for the cold December night.

Fairy lights twinkled merrily from windows, lamp posts were decorated with various holiday shapes, and people bustled around to finish their last minute shopping. Snow fell lightly around the pair as they walked closely together to keep away some of the chill air of the evening. It was moments like this that the FBI lived for, when all felt right despite the case they'd just closed. He smiled contentedly when Brennan leaned into him slightly, clutching his arm just a little bit tighter.

"My flight leaves at four in the morning," she sighed. Booth paused and turned toward his partner, forcing her to loosen her hold on his arm as he faced her.

"Bones, why don't you stay here and spend Christmas with me."

"I've had these plans for two months now Booth, I'm not going to cancel them now."

"Oh come on, you don't really want me to be alone for the holiday do you? What was it your dad said last year?"

"Being alone on the holiday means no one loves you," Brennan sighed and looked away from Booth. In truth, she did feel a little guilty about going on the trip to Guatemala, but her father was spending the holiday this year with Russ and his family, and she had no obligation to stay this time. Now though, Booth was asking her to spend the holiday with him just hours before she was to leave on her trip.

"Can you show me that Bones? Can you please stay and be with me this year for Christmas?" Booth looked down into Brennan's blue eyes, hoping to see the indication that he'd been waiting for. He'd told Gordon Gordon over a year earlier that he'd know if Brennan loved him, and now he was laying his cards on the table, hoping she'd finally give him the proof he needed to know that she felt the same way about him.

"I..." She sighed and looked away from Booth. The air on the street suddenly seemed colder as she shook her head. Brennan glanced up once at Booth and didn't miss the look of disappointment that spread over his face. She looked away again, her heart clenching with the knowledge that she put that look there. "I'm doing relief work there."

"Fine," he said after a moment and offered her a half smile. "I understand, it's okay. I just hope you enjoy your trip." She looked relieved that he dropped the subject and wasn't trying to force her hand on the issue. Neither said anything more as they reached the SUV, and Booth held open the door for Brennan as she got inside. He shut the door behind her and hurried to the driver's side and once in took off for her apartment. He could feel Brennan glance at him every so often as they drove, but neither said anything to the other. Finally she just turned to look out the window, watching the snow fall silently on the city, softening the glow of the street lamps.


"Yeah Bones?" Booth glanced over at his partner before turning his eyes back to the road.

"Is there really no one you can spend Christmas with this year? I don't want to leave knowing you'll be by yourself."

"Pops' retirement home has a party for everyone, and Jared's with his girlfriend and I really don't want to fight with him on the holiday so it's just better I stay away. I'll be fine, honest. You enjoy your trip to Guatemala and don't worry about me, okay?"

"Are you sure?"

"Yeah, I'm sure. I've had worse Christmases, believe me." He glanced over at her again, and she had a troubled look on her face. To reassure her, he reached over and gave her knee a gentle squeeze.


"Nah, don't. I didn't really expect you to change your plans for me." He pulled to a stop in front of her apartment building. "I just kinda hoped you would. Merry Christmas Bones."

Temperance opened her mouth to respond, but closed it a moment later as she gathered her belongings. Once she stepped out of the vehicle, she turned back to her partner.

"Merry Christmas Booth." After a moment's hesitation, she offered him a smile and shut the door. He watched her as she made her way inside the building, pulling away from the curb as soon as she was safely inside the lobby.

Booth drove in silence all the way home, contemplating his relationship with his partner. He'd been in love with her for longer than he could remember, and only knew for sure when he'd awoken from his coma. She was the one he'd dreamt about, hell he'd even jokingly said he'd consider her proposal of marriage during their second year as partners. It was her response that a joke was actually a subconscious want that made him realize how much he cared for his partner even back then. He did want to marry her damn it. He wanted to spend the rest of his life with her, but she just didn't seem to feel the same way.

Over the course of the last year, she'd been showing more and more signs that she was ready to take that step with him, but maybe he was wrong and was just seeing what it was that he wanted to see, and that was the killer part. He wanted her to love him so bad it hurt. With a sigh, he banished the thoughts from his head. There was no use wanting what he obviously couldn't have.


"The prophet Isaiah addresses a people gloomy because they've been divided and conquered. He encourages them with the promise that God will give a new king, descended from the great ancient king David, who will drive out their enemies and unite them. They will praise this king with grand titles." Booth found his mind wandering during the course of Midnight Mass. Normally this was his favorite service to attend during the year, but this year there was so much on his mind.

Rebecca had again denied him access to Parker for the holiday by taking the ten year old to Vail for a skiing trip. Booth sighed and crossed his arms over his chest. First it was skiing in Vermont, only that time Parker outwitted his mother by finding a police officer and telling them that he was lost and his dad worked for the FBI. Then it was Connecticut to meet Brent's family, then Quebec, and now Vail. What happened to their arrangement that let him have his son part of the day on Christmas? When did that go away?

Then of course there was the situation with Brennan. It seemed obvious now that she really only saw them as friends and partners. He'd hoped that maybe she felt the same way about him that he did about her, but he'd been wrong. Why couldn't she have just stayed with him for the holiday? Why did this have to be the single most depressing holiday he'd had since he was a young boy? Even in the military, he'd been able to spend time with his platoon, but now everyone was gone and he was by himself.

Okay Seeley, stop the pity party. You'll see Bones when she gets back from her trip after the new year. You'll see everyone when they get back after the new year. Booth sighed again. Man this really was the worst Christmas ever. Hell, it even had the now requisite dead Santa and everything. Booth looked around and realized he'd been so lost in thought, he'd zoned out almost the whole of the service. He watched as the congregation left the church to head home for a few hours of sleep before their Christmas festivities began.

He stood and joined them in the exodus of the church, pausing to take in the evening. Snow covered the ground. The air around them was quiet though the murmured conversations of the other parishioners filled the space. His breath came out in puffs, the cold air making his nose and ears instantly cold. Booth pulled his coat tight around him and made his way to his car. All around him were couples and families leaving the church, and as much as he tried to not let the sight bother him, it did. He should be here with Parker and Bones, damn it. They were his family and neither one was here with him.

The problem was, he thought as he got into his SUV to head home, was that he really missed Brennan. She wouldn't stay for him, so he'd come to accept the fact that she didn't feel the same way about him that he did for her, otherwise he was pretty sure she would have stayed. That thought made him feel a bit hypocritical though. Sully had wanted Brennan to leave what she loved to sail the world with him, and now here he was, wanting her to change her plans for him. Granted, this time she was the one leaving, and she was doing some humanitarian work as opposed to bone related stuff, but the principal was still the same, wasn't it? He was asking her to make him her priority for the holiday season instead of respecting her wish to be away from him.

He ruminated on those thoughts the entire drive back to his apartment, grumbling under his breath and working himself into a funk and determined to make getting Temperance Brennan off of his mind his New Year's resolution. He trudged up to his apartment feeling completely sorry for himself, something which he really hated to do, but hey, if the whole of the holiday season was going to suck, he might as well wallow in it was well.

Shutting his door behind him, he hung his coat up on the coat rack, pulled off his tie on the way to the bedroom and hung it carefully in the closet before toeing off his socks and shoes. The shirt and pants came next, leaving him in just his holiday boxers for bedtime. Booth headed to his bed and paused just before he pulled back his covers. There was someone in his bed. He frowned for just a moment and wondered how he could have missed the signs that someone was in his apartment. It was impossible for him to tell who exactly was there, but if he had to lay money on it his first thought was Jared.

It would be just like his younger brother to show up here drunk and looking for a place to crash, but instead of using Parker's room, the little shit wouldn't hesitate to choose the master bedroom instead.

"God damn it, Jared this isn't the time to..." The words died on his lips as he flipped back the covers and took in the sight before him. Her auburn hair tumbled around her on the pillow, framing her face against the dark sheets of the bed. The only clothing she had on was a red satin night slip with a slit in the side that showed miles of her leg. Booth gawked at the sight for a long moment before he found his voice again. "Bones?"

A pair of sleepy blue eyes opened and focused on him before she smiled.

"Merry Christmas Booth."

"What are you doing here? Why aren't you in Guatemala?" Brennan frowned at his question as she looked over his face. He was staring at her, still in complete shock.

"Of course I want you here, but I'm just trying to figure out... why are you here?"

"You asked me to join you for Christmas, so here I am."

"But..." Booth couldn't finish as Brennan sighed and sat up in bed. His eyes immediately focused on the cleavage showing above the lace edge of the night slip. After a second to realize that he'd been staring, Booth pulled his gaze back up to meet Brennan's.

"I got onto the flight to Guatemala with every intention of helping with the relief work, but when the plane took off, I had quite a bit of time to think over a few things."

"Yeah, like what?" Booth sat down on the edge of the bed, his curiosity getting the better of him.

"Like how I realized that there was only one place that I truly wanted to be, and that was here with you." That was it, Booth was completely speechless, but what she said next sent chills up his spine. A wave of deja-vu washed over him as she rolled onto her side and looked at him. "You love me, right?"

"You know I do."

"Show me how much?" Booth slid into his bed, and reached for her even as she reached for him. When he wrapped his arms around her, he smiled.

"Merry Christmas Bones."

"Merry Christmas to you too Booth," Brennan said just before his lips closed over hers. As they got lost in the kiss, both couldn't help but think that this was the best Christmas gift they could get, just to be with the one they loved.