Hello world, hope you're listening
Forgive me if I'm young
For speaking out of turn
But there's someone I've been missing
I think that they could be
The better half of me
They're in the wrong place trying to make it right, yeah
But I'm tired of justifying
So I say you
Come home, come home
'Cause I've been waiting for you
For so long, so long
And right now there's a war between the vanities
But all I see is you and me
And the fight for you is all I've ever known
So come home...
- Come Home, OneRepublic and Sara Bareilles
Brennan let herself in with the last key hanging off of her ring, the one that bounced off of the skull whenever her keys jangled in the car ignition. The apartment was empty, as she knew it would be. She kicked her shoes off at the door, even though he never did—just a force of habit—and made her way into the kitchen. She couldn't be sure how long ago he left for the airport or how long it would take for him to get back, so she naturally assumed that time was of the essence.
The paper bag hit the table and she cleared it of its clutter—manila folders, old bills, a stack of old comic books. She dug around in his cabinets for a table cloth but, unable to find one, gave up and started assorting the contents of the bag on the bare wood table. Macaroni and cheese, a tossed salad, and hot rolls wrapped in tin foil. She found a bread basket and dumped the warm rolls into it, feeling the steam rise up against her face as she pried the foil away from the bread. Rolls were something she had learned recently, flavored with a hint of rosemary and thyme.
Dust shook off the curtains as she pulled them away from the window, allowing the weak sunlight to dimly illuminate the kitchen nook. Wrinkling her nose, she tried to hold back a sneeze, but it was of no use. He really was not one for dusting. Outside the window the spring sky was heavy with a grey canopy of clouds, darkening quickly as the sun dropped down behind the urban skyline. She closed the window—maybe it wouldn't be such a scenic view after all.
She heard footsteps come down the hall as she was laying silverware next to the plates, and she froze. She still had the forks in her hand when she heard him enter the apartment, then pause at the door. He set his keys very gently on the table next to the front door, and even though she could not see him from around the corner she could guess what he was doing—listening. He must have seen her shoes. She let the forks rest on the table and straightened up, smoothing her shirt down over her stomach.
"Bones?" he finally said, and she heard him walking slowly across the living room towards the kitchen. When he rounded the corner he had a smile on his face, despite the exhaustion and residual disappointment.
"You're back," she observed. He nodded.
"You're… here," he said, making both of them thoroughly acquainted with the obvious. "I wasn't expecting you."
"I know," she said. He looked down at the table and saw the food, and his smile turned into a puzzled grin.
"What's all this?" he asked. She felt her cheeks flush.
"Well," she began, "I knew how disappointed you were about Parker spending Easter with Rebecca's family up north. It wasn't fair of her to promise him he could go with them when you were supposed to have him this weekend, so I just… well… I thought it might be better if you didn't have to come home to an empty house."
"I… wow," he said, rubbing the back of his neck with his hand. "That was… that was really nice."
"Don't sound so shocked," she said. "I am capable of basic human kindness."
"I know," he said, walking up to her and pulling her into a surprise hug. She allowed her arms to creep up around his back, cheek resting on his chest. "But this isn't basic human kindness. This is really, really nice. I needed somebody to come home to." She felt a surge of something rush up her spine and prickle the hairs on her neck, and she took a deep breath, letting it out slowly and sinking further into him.
"You're welcome," she said, looking up at him as she felt his fingers trace lazily up and down that part of her spine that had previously been tingling. Now it was on fire.
"Thank you," he said, leaning in and resting his forehead against hers like he belonged there—like he had come home to rest. He had.