Sitting beside her partner in his SUV, Temperance Brennan looked down at the engagement ring he had given her earlier that day. "Did you know that the tradition of wearing a wedding ring on the ring finger of the left hand dates back to the Greeks, who believed that finger contained a direct vein to the heart?"
"I do now," Booth said with a smile. "Pops was right; you should go on game shows. That super squinty brain of yours would make you a fortune…well, another fortune."
"But I don't need another fortune," Brennan argued. "I have more than enough to cover my expenses, and I'm quite content with my current standard of living."
"Keep rubbing it in, Bones." He sighed in mock annoyance. "Do you think we should get a pre-nup?"
Lines wrinkled her brow. "Why would we need a pre-nuptial agreement?"
"So you can rest assured that I'm marrying you for your beauty and brains, not your billions."
"I don't have bil--" A look of panic crossed her face. "Booth, I didn't actually agree to marry you. I agreed to pretend to marry you because you said it would cheer up your grand--" Seeing her partner's amused expression, she abandoned her sentence and laughed. "You were joking."
Booth laughed along with her. "Seriously, though, I really appreciate you doing this. I owe you big."
Brennan shook her head. "You don't owe me anything. You've helped my family in the past--you let Russ see his step-daughters before arresting him, you arranged testimony for his parole hearing, you helped my father have his Christmas celebration in jail. I'm glad that now I have the opportunity to do something nice for your family." They rode in silence for a few moments until Brennan laughed again.
"What's so funny, Bones?"
"I was just remembering the first time we went undercover as a couple."
"Tony and Roxy." Booth grinned as his mind flashed back to the moment Brennan walked out of the hotel bathroom wearing the black dress he had chosen for her. It had been hard to keep his hands off of her. Thankfully, constant touching wasn't a problem for Tony and Roxy. "They were a lot of fun."
"So were Buck and Wanda Moosejaw," Brennan added, recalling their circus aliases.
"Yeah." Booth's body warmed as he remembered sharing a bed with her in their tiny trailer. Sleeping Brennan had been a fan of snuggling. A big fan. He tightened his grip on the steering wheel. "At least this time I won't be throwing knives at you," he joked.
"I enjoyed the knife throwing." The memory of Booth's impressive physical prowess made her heartbeat accelerate. "It was very stimulating."
Booth suppressed a groan as they drove up to Pops' retirement community. Did she know what she did to him when she said stuff like that?
Booth and Brennan found Hank Booth sitting in his bed watching a basketball game. "You call that a shot?" Hank asked the television. "Even I could have made that one."
Hank turned at the sound of Booth's voice. "Shrimp! And Dr. Brennan! It's good to see you again, sweetheart."
"It's good to see you too, Hank."
Both partners gave him a hug, then settled themselves in chairs beside the bed. "How are you feeling, Pops?" Booth asked.
Hank shrugged. "The same. The doctors say I don't have much time left, but they've been wrong before. They're wrong a lot, you know. All those years in school and they still don't know what they're doing half the time. But enough about that. How's your work going?"
"Good," Booth answered. "Bones and I caught a serial killer last week."
"He'd killed at least four women," Brennan added. "He had a future victim--a woman who's three months pregnant--chained up in his basement when Booth found him. Booth saved her life and the life of her unborn child." She looked at her partner with pride. "She said she'd name the baby after Booth. If it's a boy, of course."
Booth gazed at her with equal admiration. "I told her she should use your name if it's a girl. I couldn't have saved her without you, Bones."
"Congratulations to you both," Hank said. "Hold on a minute. Are you talking about Rose Douglas?" The partners nodded. "I heard about her on the news! I'm going to tell everyone here that my grandson and his partner caught the sick bastard who kidnapped her and killed those other women." He smirked. "The ladies will be all over me."
"Maybe you should take it easy, Pops."
"I can't help it if the Booth men are irresistible to women. Speaking of the Booth men, how's my great grand-son?"
"Parker's great. He's doing really well in school--all As and Bs on his last report card, thanks to Bones." He put an arm around her shoulders.
"I can't take credit for all of his grades," Brennan said. "I only helped him with science."
"Bones and her dad have taught him a bunch of squinty experiments. He loves school because of them…and because one of his classmates is now his 'girlfriend'."
Brennan turned surprised eyes to Booth. "Parker has a girlfriend?"
"Yup. His first one."
"Did you run a background check on her?"
"No, I didn't run a background check on her! She's only eight years--" Booth stopped himself when he saw the mirth in his partner's eyes. "You were joking." They laughed together.
"When are you going to get a girlfriend, shrimp?" Hank asked. "You aren't getting any younger, you know."
Booth smiled as he took Brennan's hand in his. Time to tell Pops their big news. "Actually, I already have a girlfriend, Pops. And now she's my fiancée."
Hank's eyes lit up when he saw Brennan's engagement ring. "So you finally took my advice. Way to go, shrimp!" Hank turned to Brennan. "I assume my grandson gave you a proper proposal."
Brennan frowned. "I don't know what that means."
"Did he take you someplace romantic, or make you a nice meal at home?" Hank asked. "Did he get down on one knee and ask for your hand in marriage? Or did he just blurt it out while you were waiting for the results of a pregnancy test?"
"Pops!" Booth put a hand to his forehead. He never should have told his grandfather about his failed proposal to Rebecca.
Brennan gave Booth's other hand a sympathetic squeeze. "I'm not pregnant, and it was definitely a proper proposal." She decided to improvise a suitably romantic scenario and was pleasantly surprised at how easily the words came to her. "We were sitting on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial in the moonlight, gazing at the stars. I was telling Booth about the different constellations and we saw a shooting star. Booth said we should make a wish. When I asked him what he wished for, he got down on one knee and said that he had wished that I would marry him. He told me that he loved me--really loved me, not just in a professional, atta-girl kind of way--and he promised that he'd never leave me like the other men in my life. Then he reminded me that there was more than one kind of family in this world, and said that he wanted to start one with me."
Booth hoped his face didn't betray his shock at Brennan's unusually sentimental words. Had she read his mind? Did she know that everything she'd said about his feelings for her was true? Or was it all just part of the act? "Yeah," he said shakily. "That's exactly how it happened."
The surprised look on his grandson's face aroused Hank's suspicion. "Are you two just pretending to be together to make a dying man happy?"
"Of course not," Brennan protested, panic creeping into her voice. "Booth and I are very much a couple. We have sexual intercourse quite frequently. In fact, our last sexual encounter was right before we drove here."
Hank turned to Booth. "Is that true?"
Booth wished it were. He didn't want to think about how long it had really been since his last 'sexual encounter'. "I'd rather not discuss our sex life."
"You don't have to be modest, Booth," Brennan said comfortingly. "I know it's common for men to bond over talk of sexual conquests. He's an extremely skilled lover, Hank. You should be proud of him."
"I am. I know Seeley's a good man…but I can tell when he's hiding something." Hank's eyes narrowed. "I'd like to see some proof that you two are actually a couple."
"I don't think Booth would be comfortable with us having sex in front of you," Brennan said.
Hank laughed as Booth's face turned red. "I wouldn't be comfortable with that either. I'll settle for watching you kiss."
Brennan's mind flashed back to Caroline's Christmas blackmail. "How many steamboats?"
"Steamboats?" Both Booths said.
Brennan decided to rephrase the question. "How long should the kiss be?"
"What, I'm supposed to time you with a stopwatch? Make it as long as you want it to be." Hank looked expectantly at Booth. "What are you waiting for? I never missed an opportunity to kiss a woman I loved. And you do love her, don't you, shrimp?"
"Yes," Booth answered. He wondered if Bones realized that his answer wasn't part of the act.
"Good." Hank tilted his head towards Brennan. "Then prove you've finally crossed that stupid line."
Booth took a deep breath. And another. And another. He looked into Brennan's eyes, silently asking for her permission. The unspoken answer was clear: permission granted. She wanted him to kiss her. She wanted it, and he wanted it, so why waste another second pretending otherwise? It was time to put his fears aside and man up. Putting his grandfather's presence out of his mind, Booth gently placed his hands on Brennan's face and gave her a long, tender kiss. Her enthusiastic response exceeded even his most optimistic fantasies. It was perfect. She was perfect. Pure joy flowed through his veins and he savored every second of it. He hadn't been this happy since his coma dream… but this was even better than his dream because it was real. Goodbye, line. Goodbye and good riddance. Hello new relationship with Bones!
"Wow," Hank said when the partners eventually stopped to breathe. "That was pretty convincing."
Booth and Brennan grinned at each other, both thinking that Hank wasn't the only one who'd been convinced.
Thanks for reading! All comments are greatly appreciated.