Pray for George (who manages to offend both Booth and Brennan)

A/N: This story presupposes that episode 100 never happened. Nobody dies in this one, I promise! It's pure fluff, brought on by hearing a silly song that I actually kind of like, in spite of its absurdity. The title's awful, but I couldn't come up with anything else.

Disclaimer: I invented the character of George Cisneros, but have no ownership of Brennan and Booth or the song by Jaron and the Long Road to Love.


"You're a heartless, soulless bitch."

George Cisneros shoved back from the table where he and Temperance Brennan had been sharing a quiet dinner. He wasn't particularly tall or muscular, but his looks were generally aesthetically pleasing. She had met him through Hodgins, and their acquaintance had rather quickly turned into satisfying physical liaisons.

Angela had been thrilled to find her best friend leaving the lab early to go on dates. However much Booth objected and insisted that George was "all wrong", everything seemed to have been going smoothly for the months they had been seeing each other, They had seemed so compatible, Temperance thought vaguely, strangely unable to form words in response to the attack.

She wasn't often taken off guard. In her line of work, surprises were the rule, not the exception. Her personal life, on the other hand—what little of it there was—tended toward the routine, stable and safe. She rarely opened herself to anyone. That might explain why, having begun to let down her guard to this person, she was shocked to the core by his fury.

"I don't know why I even bothered to give you a chance." George's voice carried throughout the entire restaurant, causing heads to turn.

She cringed in abject mortification.

Her date leaned forward, glaring into Temperance's shocked face as she struggled to find appropriate words to retort. The dark blue eyes she'd cited as one of his best assets were suddenly narrowed and overflowing with venom. One moment they'd been contemplating the menu, the next he was spewing invectives. There had been no argument, no trigger that she could pinpoint for his anger—

In confusion, she stood up, unconsciously twisting at the napkin in her hands. The candlelight glinted off her dark red dress, especially picked for this anniversary dinner with Angela's help.

"George, I don't understand, what—"

"You're a Vulcan, Brennan," Cisneros spat, cutting her off. "Soulless Spock, through and through."

"I don't know what that means, but the existence of the soul has never been proven," she objected lamely, grasping at the only straw that made any sense at present. "So leveling that charge at me is illogical. As for being heartless—I can assure you, that vital organ is present and functioning in my thoracic cavity, within the mediastinum."

Cisneros laughed darkly, sending chills down Temperance's spine. "Like I said. Pure, cold, soulless logic, Brennan. You'll spend the rest of your life alone, with your precious bones, and when you die, bones will be your only companions in the afterlife. Perfectly fitting for a woman who is completely unaware of the existence of love or life outside a lab."

Smirking at the look on her face, George drew a thin white object from his pocket and tossed it onto the candlelit table. "A little parting gift," he sneered, then turned and walked away.


"Angela, I don't want to talk about it!"

"Something had to have happened, Bren. You're walking around like a ghost."

"Specters from the grave don't exist," Temperance retorted dryly, "And if they did, I would have to be deceased before I would become one, I believe."


"Angela, please. I just need … space."

"Promise you'll come to me when you're ready?" her best friend insisted.

"I promise." She turned back to the computer and lifted the headphones onto her ears, replaying the song for the hundredth time.



The music was loud enough that she barely heard the voice, but the touch of a hand on her shoulder made her jump several feet in alarm. She swiveled her chair around, pushing back her headphones in the same fluid motion.

Seeley Booth stood about a foot away, hands dug into his pockets in typical "annoyed" fashion and regarded her with a quizzical, concerned look. "What's going on?"

"Nothing," she replied automatically, taking in his appearance. His curly hair was damp and appealingly disheveled. She surmised that he'd been in the middle of showering before being interrupted. The light, appealing scruff on his usually clean-shaven jaw indicated he'd been interrupted in the middle of his ablutions.

Instead of the usual impeccable, expensive suit, he was outfitted in worn jeans that did nothing to hide his muscular thighs and a similarly revealing T-shirt with the logo of a sports team hovering over his well-defined pectorals.

They were off-work clothes, Temperance realized in confusion. "What time is it? What are you doing here?"

"It's 3 o'clock in the morning, Bones," her partner said softly, raising an eyebrow.

"It can't be 3—I just sat down—" she glanced at the digital alarm clock beside the computer. The green LCD display blinked 3:07 a.m. "Oh."

The one-syllable sound held both exhaustion, sadness and surprise.


Booth eyed his partner worriedly. He was accustomed to dragging her from the lab at odd hours, but generally because she'd fallen asleep working on a complicated reconstruction. Not because she was glaring at a blank computer screen with headphones jammed over her ears. That, plus the exotic dinner dress she was wearing, instead of a lab coat, sent alarm bells through him.

He tried hard to ignore the fact that said crimson dress was off-the shoulder and dangerously low cut. Jealousy tugged at Booth furiously. He didn't want anybody else to see her assets, dammit, especially when he hadn't seen them himself! And if anybody was going to ogle his partner, he damn well wanted time to vet them thoroughly.

The color set off shimmering gold highlights in her carefully pulled back auburn hair, all the while hugging Brennan's graceful, toned figure in a way that made Booth want to bay at the moon. A simple turquoise necklace hovering just above her ample cleavage provided a stark contrast to her porcelain skin. Momentarily, he indulged himself in the fantasy of what it would be like lifting that cold stone and pressing his lips to the warm, supple flesh beneath it.

Brennan cleared her throat and he dragged his eyes back to her face, flushing slightly at the unspoken reprimand. She was obscenely beautiful, no matter what she wore. Pair that with all her other assets and she was the complete package: The woman he wanted to spend the rest of his life with, in whatever capacity she would allow him that privilege.

"Sorry, Bones. I'm not used to seeing squints in anything but lab coats," he joked awkwardly.

Brennan stood up and smoothed her dress in an uncharacteristically nervous fashion. "Why are you here, Booth?"

No retort about his obvious ogling? Booth frowned in concern.

"Angela called me." He caught the sheen of grief in her lovely gray-blue eyes and felt his hackles rise. Somebody had hurt her. Badly. "She said something about you being upset."

"I'm fine," she snapped curtly. "Angela shouldn't have bothered you. I just have a lot of things on my mind."

"Penny for your thoughts then?" he offered, then quickly rephrased as he saw her mind puzzling over the idiom. "You've never lied to me before, Brennan."

She blinked in surprise. "I'm not lying to you now."

"Yeah, you are," he retorted, taking a step forward and watching her take an automatic step back in self-defense—yet another uncharacteristic movement. Brennan never backed down. Ever. The desk halted her retreat and she hovered uncomfortably on its edge.

"And you're lying to yourself, Bones," he continued relentlessly. " You're not fine."

"Why would you say such a thing? There's no concrete evidence—"

He slapped the wall with the flat of his palm impatiently, surprising them both. "Quit lying! You're sitting at your desk, staring at a blank computer screen, listening to … something, that I seriously doubt has anything to do with a case. In addition to the fact that I've never seen you spend so much time in a lab without doing something anthropology-related—"

"You don't know that what I'm doing isn't anthropological or case-oriented in nature," she argued instantly. "I could be listening to tribal music and analyzing the patterns of tonal emergence from a cultural perspective. Morphologically-speaking, there's a very interesting question that could be raised as to how certain rhythms and sounds fit into— "

"Speaking French isn't going to throw me off the scent, Bones," Booth interrupted mildly. "Whatever you're listening to, that dress at least tells me something went seriously wrong with a date tonight."

Her face fell and she bowed her head. "You're right. I shouldn't have misled you to believe that I was okay tonight. I've acted in a completely unprofessional manner, wasting time unacceptably. But I'll be fine tomorrow. I can assure you that I won't allow this incident to interfere with our work and that I will work overtime in order to make up for my mistake."

The agony etched all over her face made him want to do much more than punch a wall. "Frankly, I don't give a damn about our work right now, Bones." Booth reached out and caught her chin gently, tipping it up to meet his gaze. "I want to know what I can do to wipe that sadness off your face."


The concern in Booth's warm, dark brown eyes made treacherous tears begin to well up in her own eyes all over again.

"Hey," he said softly, brushing a tear away with his thumb. His gentle touch made Temperance irrationally want to move forward a few steps, into what she knew would be his strong, reassuring embrace.

"Talk to me, Bren," he pressed gently. "What's going on?"

The tender quality to his voice just about undid her. Pulling back from him, she picked up the headphones and handed them over. "Listen."

He slid the auditory device into place, sat down and waited while she pressed play.


Booth didn't have any guesses as to what he was about to hear. When he caught the unmistakable strum of a steel guitar, he was taken aback that Bones had apparently been sitting for hours listening to country music. But then the lyrics came over the speakers and those couldn't have surprised him anymore if Bones had said she'd penned them herself.

I haven't been to church since I don't remember when
Things were goin' great 'til they fell apart again
So I listened to the preacher as he told me what to do
He said you can't go hatin' others who have done wrong to you
Sometimes we get angry, but we must not condemn
Let the good Lord do His job and you just pray for them

Booth glanced up at Brennan in confusion. "Church? I don't—"

She waved him quiet. "Keep listening."

I pray your brakes go out runnin' down a hill
I pray a flowerpot falls from a window sill and knocks you in the head like I'd like to
I pray your birthday comes and nobody calls
I pray you're flyin' high when your engine stalls
I pray all your dreams never come true
Just know wherever you are honey, I pray for you.

A sick, uncertain feeling started deep in the pit of Booth's stomach. He moved to get rid of the headphones, but Bones stopped him. Reluctantly, he continued to listen.

I'm really glad I found my way to church
'Cause I'm already feelin' better and I thank God for the words
Yeah I'm goin'to take the high road
And do what the preacher told me to do
You keep messin' up and I'll keep prayin' for you

I pray your tire blows out at 110
I pray you pass out drunk with your best friend and wake up with his and her tattoos—

Unable to stand anymore, Booth yanked the headphones away and turned to confront his partner, only to find that she had fled.


"Bones! Open up!" He hammered on her office's door. "If you don't open this door right now, I'm gonna kick it in!"

He was drawing back to fulfill his threat when the door opened slowly on Bones' pale, drawn face.

"Go away," she said firmly, playing the part of frigid reclusive scientist to the hilt. Booth, of course didn't buy it. "This is none of your business."

"Like hell it ain't!" He shoved his foot into the gap and shouldered his way inside, risking life and limb to Brennan's superior martial arts prowess.

She stood uncomfortably before him, arms crossed tightly in self-defense. "What do you want?"

"What do I—" Booth groaned and smacked his forehead. "For fuck's sake, Bones. You can't play me some kind of twisted music that you've clearly been listening to for hours, and then just run away without explanation!"

She sighed. "George became … upset at me over dinner yesterday."

"George," he repeated. "Who the hell is George?"

"The man I've been seeing for the last few months," Bones explained patiently. "Now will you leave?"

"You wish," Booth snapped, moving past her and into the office. He loosened his tie and rolled up the cuffs of his dress shirt. "So what does George," he said the name distastefully, as he would the name of any man who moved in on his turf, "have to do with that song?"

Booth reached out and snagged her by the arm as she tried to turn away again. "I'm not leaving until you tell me."

"I reacted immaturely to a petty insult, okay?" she snapped. "The music is atonal. The lyrics are hackneyed and absurd. Even the singer's voice is full of annoying pretense—" Her words faded away as she watched the play of angry emotions racing across his face.

Booth scowled. "Are you telling me that your date—" he stopped and shook his head. "No way. I'm jumping to conclusions with no evidence, like you always say." It made him sick to even consider the scenario currently running through his head. "I'm wrong, right, Bones? There's something I'm missing here?"

Brennan shrugged, as though attempting to brush off her pain. "Your hypothesis is correct. My dinner date walked out on me after saying … some things." She paused and took a deep breath. "He left me the song as a parting gift."

A horrified, primordial rage started within Booth and he backed away from his partner, afraid he might hurt her accidentally.

"That son of a bitch!" Booth exploded, sending a trash can flying with his right foot. With his left foot, he nailed her rolling chair and sent it crashing into a wall on the opposite side of the office.


Temperance watched him as he paced back and forth cursing. "There's no need for this, Booth."

"I'll break the bastard's neck," Booth swore, crumpling a pillow from her couch in his large hands and twisting it in a crude mimickery of what he wanted to do to George.

"Although I must admit that your display of alpha male tendencies in this situation is rather touching," Temperance commented, "Going to prison for physical assault doesn't strike me as a reasonable solution to this relatively unimportant situation."

"Unimportant?" Booth flung the pillow aside. He grabbed her by the shoulders and leaned in until his nose almost touched hers. His dark eyes flashed and he shook her angrily. "Bones, your eyes are red from crying! That's pretty damn important to me!"

"It's just a stupid song, Booth," she insisted. "The lyrics could even be viewed as humorous under different circumstances. I overreacted."

"The song isn't the point, Brennan!" he exploded, waving his arms around in outrage. "That sick bastard had no right to mock your questions about God's existence and throw them back in your face!"

Something frozen inside Temperance thawed. He understood. Of course he did. He always did, no matter what flawed, irrational tendency she displayed. She folded forward into Booth trustingly, knowing that he would accept her in spite of this sudden display of weakness.

He wrapped his arms around her, tucked his chin against her head and continued to curse into her hair, interspersing his oaths with tender words and reassurances of the validity of her feelings. Most of what he said was overly emotional and nonsensical, but Temperance found herself trembling in spite of herself. George's betrayal had taken a toll and Booth had recognized that before she did.

His big hands traced slow, reassuring circles on her lower spine, drawing out the tension with gentle placements of his fingertips. She inhaled his clean scent and dropped her head tiredly on his broad chest. "It wouldn't have been so bad if we'd been having problems. It just seemed that things were going well. We were very compatible in bed, and our conversations were intellectually stimulating. He was above-average intelligence and appeared a good complement to me."

"What else did he say to you?" Booth whispered in her ear. "Tell me so I have more concrete evidence to back me up when I tear him limb from limb. I hear concrete evidence is all the rage for solving murder mysteries these days. Would you peg me as a killer if I leave fingerprints all over the body, Bones?"

She rolled her eyes as he steered them onto the couch. She wasn't a small woman in terms of stature, so logic would dictate that Booth would have found it difficult to accommodate her on his lap. Yet somehow, he worked it out so they fit together perfectly. He maneuvered her sideways so her back rested against the armrest, her legs were draped over his thighs and her head rested his shoulder, while his arm hovered protectively around her waist, pressing her close to him.

"We were looking at the menu over dinner," she explained. "He chose the restaurant. It was our 3 month anniversary and, though I know it's irrational to celebrate such an insignificant moment in a relationship, I was excited. Angela helped me pick out a dress and did my hair."

"You look beautiful," Booth said huskily. "More beautiful and more woman than that castrated creep ever deserved."

"I can assure you my experiences with him in bed thoroughly confirm that he was not emasculated," she pointed out, before realizing he was kidding. "I'm sorry. Maybe that's why he got upset at me. I made a comment about the lack of vegan entrees and wishing I had been included in the decision about the restaurant. Then he started shouting about how unfeeling and soulless I was, and I tried to explain that we've never proved the existence of the soul, but he said something about Spock and logic and—"

Booth slid both hands under her hair and tilted her face up toward his. His hands were warm and strong on her neck, sending pleasant shivers through her spine. "There's nothing soulless or unfeeling about you, Bones Brennan." His gaze was ferocious in its intensity, and yet Temperance knew she had nothing to fear from him.

"He said I'll be all alone in the end with my bones, as a just reward for how I've spent my life," she whispered, giving voice to her most secret fear.

"Have I ever broken a promise to you, Bones?" he asked quietly, holding her in his mesmerizing gaze.

She frowned. "No, but what does that—"

"Then believe me when I promise you'll never be alone, Bones," Booth said quietly. "Not today. Not tomorrow. And not at the end. I have every intention of sticking to you like glue from here to there, all the way to the other side, whether or not you want me."

"You know I don't believe in the afterlife," she pointed out logically, though the thought of losing his companionship made her heart ache, metaphorically speaking, of course. "And you could be transferred to another state any day."

He rested his forehead against hers, apparently unaware that her insides seemed to be dissolving under the warmth of his gaze.

"Bones." His voice whispered warmly on her cheeks. "We'll deal with your concerns about Heaven at some point. But here on Earth—I'd quit the FBI before leaving your side."

The statement was so shocking it left her momentarily speechless.

"The FBI is your life," she protested when her faculties returned.

He shook his head vehemently. "Parker's my life, Bones. And so are you."


She was soft in his arms. Much softer than any stranger might have guessed she could be, given her apparent steel exterior. But Booth was privileged enough to know the woman beneath the façade, and she was anything but steel on the inside.

He brushed her silken hair back from her face, tracing the graceful line of her jaw and full bow of her lips before cupping her cheek in one large palm. "You're beautiful, Bones. That jerk had his head so far up his asshole he wouldn't have recognized what he had in front of him if it reared its head and bit him."

She butted her head against his shoulder deliberately. "That's anatomically impossible, Booth. And why would I bite my dinner date?"

"I could make it anatomically possible," Booth snapped, feeling a surge of anger again at the thought of how George had treated her.

"I must admit that, perhaps given my emotional state, your display of protective, Alpha Male tendencies is quite endearing tonight. It makes me feel … esteemed."

"I do esteem you, Bones," he replied, aware of the catch in his voice. "It's much more than esteem, as a matter of fact. Every time you go on a dinner date with somebody other than me, I want to commit murder."

"That is an Alpha Male tendency I don't understand," she confessed. "Were we in a romantic relationship, the desire to assert possession of one's mate might be more comprehensible, but, given that our partnership is platonic—"

The clash of uncertainty and hope in her eyes made his gut clench. He'd been avoiding this moment for years, in the fear of destroying the relationship so carefully built between them, but now he knew that there was no way else to go but forward. He'd wasted enough time.

"I'm sick of platonic," he said firmly, watching her beautiful eyes widen in surprise. "I want to kiss you, Bones. I've wanted to kiss you for a very, very long time."

"But, when we first met you clearly stated your beliefs about working relationships—"

He touched her lips with his finger softly, silencing her. "I was an idiot," he admitted ruefully. "I want to start by kissing you on the platform in the lab, so the cameras capture every single moment of bliss and Angela can go nuts when the security guards spill the beans tomorrow morning."

A small glimmer of amusement flickered in her eyes. "I agree that Angela would derive significant vicarious pleasure from such descriptions."

"Then I want to kiss you on the street, where everybody can see that this Alpha Male is asserting possession."

His partner opened her mouth again to say something, but he pressed forward, unable to stop now that he'd started.

"I want to kiss you in the car, Bones, and make out with you in the backseat until we're both hot and sweaty. "

"Aren't we a little past the lovesick teenager stage?" she inquired, blushing endearingly.

"I want to press you up against the wall in the elevator," he continued relentlessly, "And kiss you on the ride in the elevator up to your place. I want to kiss you in your doorway and walk you backwards into the living room and onto the couch."

"Why backwards?"

As though he hadn't heard, he went on, "I want to kiss you in your kitchen, Bones, with you sitting on the counter with your long legs wrapped around my waist, and all the way into your bedroom, where I'll kiss you goodnight in your doorway and walk away leaving us both still wanting. "

"That hardly seems pleasant—"

"And someday," he interrupted, "Someday when you trust me enough, I want to make love to you. I want to wake up by your side and kiss you good morning, and make love all over again, first at your place and then at mine, with Parker sleeping in the room next door, so we have to be kind of quiet, but that's all part of the fun anyway."

The silence hovered tensely between then as he wound down his passionate speech. He was relieved that she hadn't jumped from his lap and run for the hills, but, dammit, he wished she'd say something! Instead, she continued to watch him with that enigmatic gray-blue gaze.

"Will you let me kiss you, Bones?" he whispered, tracing her jawline with his fingertips. "Will you put this unscientific FBI investigator out of his alpha male misery?"

"What if that kind of a relationship ruins everything? I don't know if I'm brave enough to risk losing your friendship, Booth, if things don't work out romantically."

"Bones," he said as patiently as he could, although his "alpha male" was screaming for him to shut her up by crushing his lips over hers and showing her how good they could be together, "You're the bravest person I've ever met. And you will never lose me. Ever. I swear it."

"How do you know—"

"I just know, Bones," he said in exasperation. "Call it one of my gut feelings. We're … what do you call it? Complementary?"

Her continued silence terrified him so much that he kept on rambling, afraid that everything between them might suddenly vanish in the rubble of his rash behavior.

"You once told me your requirements for a boyfriend, Bones. You said he had to be a moral person with similar values to yours, able to go head to head with you intellectually. You said he had to respect you both as a woman and as a professional, and that preferably he should be somewhat aesthetically pleasing, in such a manner that a connection in the bedroom isn't lacking, because, anthropologically speaking, the next generation can't be born unless a couple shares intimacy." He paused and drew a deep breath, afraid to ask, but unable to quit. "Do I meet any of those requirements at all, Brennan?"

He could clearly see the wheels whirring in her brilliant mind as she processed what he had said. Dammit, he knew he was coming off as completely desperate, but he was!

"I mean, maybe intellectually I'm not your equal, but —"

She interrupted him as he had done to her, laying a gentle finger across his lips. "Perhaps not in the lab, but few people are. In the FBI, your investigative prowess is a close match to my forensic skills."

His lips tingled at her touch and he couldn't help but take her fingertip in his mouth and kiss it, before releasing it again.

Bones smiled very slightly, and that tiny smile was more arousing to Booth than any of the full-on, brazen seductions countless women had attempted on him.

She played with the hair at the nape of his neck, obviously unaware that she was rapidly pushing his thermostat into the red zone. "You're an extraordinarily moral man, and your values are quite similar to mine in many respects, that is correct."

He waited tensely, praying for mercy and a miracle.

A slow, teasing grin spread across her lovely face. "And, yes, I do find you aesthetically pleasing, Agent Booth."

He let out a breath he didn't know he'd been holding and she laughed softly, lacing her fingers through the hand he had on her cheek. "I do believe we would even be physically complementary in the bedroom. There's just one thing …"

Every nerve in his body fired at the teasing light in her eyes. "What's that, Bones?"

"If you leave me wanting in my bedroom doorway tonight, as your scenario posited earlier, then I'll track George down and tell him my FBI partner's an idiot with his head up his asshole and that he needs to be emasculated, since he clearly doesn't understand a woman's sexual needs."

"That's a deal," Booth swore fervently. "Can I kiss you now, Bones? Please? Before my head goes shooting off into outer space?"

In response, she lifted her face to his. Praying again, this time for self-control, Booth kissed her. Smoke alarms went off in his brain the moment their lips touched. It was like a redhot current surged between them, fusing them into one being.

Bones parted her lips in invitation, drawing his tongue into the heat of her mouth, sliding her hands behind his neck and dragging his head forward to allow for better leverage. The kiss went on and on, hot and wet and endless until Booth thought his body would go up in flames.

Unwilling to let her go even for a minute, he maneuvered them horizontally on the couch, until they were lying side by side. The couch was narrow enough that Brennan was glued to him, chest to chest, hip to hip, feet entangled. Booth thought frantic, chaste thoughts, but with her all but on top of him, images of other tempting body parts were automatic.

"Hey, Bones," he muttered in the middle of the kiss, "Would you kill me if I copped a feel? I'm sort of kind of dying here."

She purred. "I don't know what that means, but I'm not feeling particularly aggressive at the moment. And I certainly don't want you to expire just yet."

Tentatively, he slid a hand down her lower back, coming to rest on her well-toned backside.

She laughed into his mouth. "Is that what cop a feel means? I can play that game too." Her own hands left his hair and slid downward, coming to rest just above his belt. Her light, playful touch was electric.

"Bones, I don't know what the hell you're doing to me," Booth growled into her ear. "But I like it. However …" He hauled her on top of him, grinning. "This couch is a little too small."

"We could always go to my place … indulge the rest of the fantasies you shared earlier?" she suggested, peering down into his face hopefully.

"Not yet, Brennan," he chuckled. "I have a few other couch fantasies I want to try out first. Like this one."

He tugged her upwards slightly, her lithe, satin-clad body sliding smoothly along him, until he had access to the necklace he'd been eyeing earlier. Lifting the turquoise stone away, he set his mouth on the creamy patch of skin it had been hiding all evening and sucked hard.

"Ahhh … Booth …" She arched upward, giving him a mouthwatering view of voluptuous cleavage encased in black lace.

His thumbs teased the underside of her ribcage as he continued to explore the tops of her breasts, dropping light, teasing kisses along them.

"You're killing me," she gasped, snagging one of his hands and dragging it up to cup her left breast.

"Using a metaphor correctly, Brennan?" he teased. "That'll have to be rewarded. But first you have to answer a question."

"What?" she demanded, opening glazed blue eyes and glaring at him in warning.

"That sexy bra you're wearing—was it meant for your date?"

A hurt, confused look crossed her face. "Well, yes. It was our anniversary after all. Why would you bring that up? Does it bother you?"

"Oh, yes," he said darkly, raising both eyebrows. "It has to come off. Right now."

Relief flooded her eyes and he almost felt guilty about teasing her, until she reached down and shoved the bodice of her dress away, all the way to her hips.

"You wanna do the honors?" she said huskily, hands hovering at the clasp. "Or shall I?"

"Go right ahead," he choked, eyes glued firmly to the prize before him. As the lace slipped away revealing such full, beautifully rounded breasts that Booth could never have conjured them up in his wildest dreams, he let out a pained groan.

"Bones," he warned, "We're never going to make it back to your apartment tonight."

"Some other day," she whispered, lowering her mouth to his, even as she took his hands again and placed them where she most wanted his touch.


1 week later

The doorbell rang at Brennan's apartment as she was making dinner. She turned down the heat on the stir fry and went to answer the door.

A big bouquet of roses were the first thing she saw, followed by George's grinning face.

"Temperance, I fucked up," he said contritely. "I don't know how to make things right between us, but I'm willing to do anything--"

Booth appeared at her side, scowling. She placed a hand on his arm and he shook it off. "I know you can take care of yourself, Bones, but I'm gonna do my alpha male thing right now, whether or not you like it. Okay?"

"Who are you?" Cisneros asked uncertainly, shifting his eyes from Booth to Brennan and back again.

"The guy who's gonna make sure you learn what it means to pray correctly," Booth informed him, drawing back and clocking the guy in the face.

Cisneros' nose exploded on contact and he reeled backwards, wailing, arms flailed in self-defense. His roses drifted towards the floor, shedding petals every which way.

Booth followed him into the hallway, deliberately grinding flower buds under his heel. "If you ever think about coming near this apartment again, or make any attempt to contact Temperance, I will take you down." He opened his coat and gave Cisneros a glimpse of the heat he was packing. "That's just one small gun, buddy," he continued menacingly. "But it can do a lot of damage when used on the right body parts. Do I make myself clear?"

Cisneros turned and scuttled away, whimpering.

Booth grimaced and turned back into the apartment. The mess in the hallway would have to be cleaned up sooner rather than later, but he had other concerns at the present point. He headed straight for the kitchen, where Bones was stirring something on the stove. Coming up behind her, he wrapped his arms around her waist.

"Good thing your taste in men has improved, Brennan," he grumbled. "That guy's balls couldn't be much bigger than a snail's."

Temperance smiled secretly, knowing exactly what buttons to push on her partner. "Actually, George's testicles were—"

Booth's mouth crushed down on hers angrily, cutting off her words. He lifted her onto the nearby counter and pulled her in close to him, never releasing her mouth.

"You did that on purpose," he accused when they both finally surfaced for air.

"Did I?" She slid her hands underneath his coat, smoothing the fabric of his crisp shirt absentmindedly.

"Damn straight you did," Booth fumed. "You're not as innocent as you look, lady."

"That's what you get for jumping to conclusions."

Booth was torn between annoyance and desire. "Don't play with me like that, Bones."

She frowned. "Why not? You tease me."

He sighed in mild aggravation. "I just don't want to remember that there were other guys before me. That's all."

She rested her forehead against his, forcing him to look into her eyes. "There were other men, Booth," she said softly. "It would be a lie to say there weren't. But there won't be any others. You're it for me," she concluded simply. Seeing his lingering frown, she continued, "I have to admit, that display in the hallway was … hot."

"You were watching?"

"I've never found violence attractive before." She raised an eyebrow in amused confusion. "Until today." Her skilled fingers loosened his tie and the buttons on his shirt. "Even though I can certainly protect myself, I wonder … will you always defend me in a similar fashion, Agent Booth?" Her eyes danced with amusement.

"Damn straight," he promised, proceeding to show her exactly what hot in the non-metaphorical sense meant.