Disclaimer: Bones originally belongs to Kathy Reichs, but is currently under the great care of Fox, Hart, Deschanel, and Boreanaz.

A Booth-centered oneshot. Kind of an interesting perception, at least that's how I see it. I'm on a Bones oneshot kick.

Spoilers for season five.

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He hadn't always been this way: an imperative part in catching murderers and putting them behind bars. There was a time when he had been a little sleazy, a little loose, and a little less responsible.

Could you blame him? His past hadn't exactly been perfect, far from it. What, with his alcoholic father and always having to bail his brother out. His time as a sniper and in the rangers had taken its toll. Could you really blame him for turning to gambling? At least he hadn't followed in his father and brother's footsteps by having a taste for the drink.

There were some pasts that couldn't completely be forgotten. Perhaps playing a little fast and loose took his mind off the tough things. The things he had to deal with on his own until his partner came along.

It was true, his beautiful partner helped him solve more than just crimes. Being partners was about give and take. It was about having each other's backs and being there for one another. She had been there for him in more ways then she realized. Before their partnership had even begun to take off, she had helped him want to quit gambling. She was the first person he admitted his problem to, and at the time he hadn't been sure why.

The birth of his son had given him a reason to become more responsible. If Rebecca had taken up his offer for marriage, he wasn't sure where he would be now. But he was certain his partner was the reason he had become loyal.

Before therapy with Sweets he hadn't really put too much thought behind interpersonal relationships. But Bones, well she was something special. She was smart, pretty, and not to be messed with. She could hold her own. She had that sexy little smile. She could let loose, sometimes. And she solved murders with the best of them.

There was something about Temperance Brennan, that from the second he met her, made him want him to be the kind of man she thought he was.

In her eyes, he was courageous and loyal. Righteous, moral, and a good father to his son. A good friend to her and the rest of the squint squad. Good with people, and above all, a man with a good heart.

The problem was that Seeley Booth didn't always see himself as that man. Courage was something he had when necessary. It was true that when Bones was ever in a dangerous situation his courage faltered, and he feared for her life.

He saw himself as a righteous god-fearing man, which was definitely a topic he would never sway his partner on. And he tried to be the best father to his son that he could. But he had doubts. Doubts because his father had never been a good role model. Doubts because he wasn't married and Parker didn't exactly have a stable home environment. And worries that he might never be able to do a good enough job with Parker. But one word from Brennan, one little assurance, made all of those doubts and worries fade away. He could be a good father.

He had grown to see the squint squad as some of his own. People that had the good intent to catch murderers and the skills to catch them in they best way they knew how. They were his friends just as much as he was theirs.

And of course Agent Seeley Booth was good with people. He could read them, follow his gut, and just know something, somewhere deep inside him, like when they were lying. It was a talent he had grown up with. He knew good people when he saw them, and on the reverse end, killers. FBI work had only honed that natural ability.

Booth had a good heart and it was always in the right place, no matter what the outcome his intensions were always good. That meant something to him, but he wasn't sure what it meant to his partner. Of course they were good friends. Their partnership had grown in trust, give and take, and love over the years. His heart and his gut knew it as love, but what about hers? Did she feel the connection? Was it possible to cut through all that logic and reasoning to reach her heart? He thought he already had. There were moments when he let his guard down and stared intensely into her ice blue eyes, and she gave him that look like she returned his feelings. Her lips would curve into that little smirk and her eyes would glimmer. But then, one of them would always throw their guard back up, or something would interrupt them. They would go back to how it had been, never crossing their line as 'just partners'. But sometimes he wondered what it would be like to leave that guard down.

But moral? Was Seeley Booth a moral man? Every time he had to shoot someone, every time someone died by his hand, he felt less and less like himself. A part of him changed inside when that trigger was pulled, with his adrenaline pumping. Something for a split second made him feel like the man he had been before. The old Booth. Not the man he was now. Not the man that he wanted to be, for Temperance Brennan. So all of her opinions of his character could be true, so he could be the Seeley Booth his partner wanted him to be.

He spun the empty bottle of beer around on the counter. He waited at the Founding Fathers for her to arrive, eight o'clock like they had planned. She came in, auburn hair blowing in the wind. She was wearing a dress that more than flattered her figure, and there was that little smirk on her lips, the one that was all his.

"Booth." She smiled, sitting next to him on a barstool and gesturing for the bartender to bring her a drink.

He returned the smile and didn't have the heart to keep his guard up tonight. For him, this was a date, even if she wasn't on the same bandwagon.

"You look beautiful, Bones." He reached out and touched her hand lightly.

She laughed. "Thank you, Booth. How many of those have you had?" She gestured towards the beer bottle.

"Just two." He replied as the bartender brought him another, and brought Bones her usual drink.

Her gaze turned on him, intense and full of life. There was that glimmer in her eyes. "I'd say you've had a few more than that."

So, it was true; he made a note that her guard was lowered when his was as well. Or maybe he was just seeing things the way he wanted to see them.

He took a swig of his new beer and shook his head. "Nope. Honest. Just a few. So, don't tell me you got all dressed up for me?" He raised his eyebrows, flirting outwardly.

She seemed to be considering this. "Well, it isn't a work night and I suppose I just dressed for the occasion, a Saturday night out with my partner."

He hoped she didn't miss his appreciative grin. "Thanks, Bones."

"Ah, I never said I dressed up for you." She corrected defensively. But he wouldn't have it; he wasn't done testing the waters yet, or seeing where this building tension was headed.

He caught her chin with his fingers and turned her gaze to his. There was a heated moment between them where his fingers didn't leave her chin, and a grin crossed his lips as a smirk crossed hers. He was close enough to feel her breath on his lips. Their look was one that they had frequently shared over the years. But then, as he began to trace her jaw line lightly with one calloused finger, her guard slammed back up- the glimmer gone from her eyes, her smirk fading.

"Booth..." She took a sip of her drink and laughed softly. "This isn't a date."

He raised his guard again too, but not soon enough to completely hide the hurt that flickered in his eyes. "Maybe not to you, Bones."

And he took a long pull of beer, more upset by the increasingly shocked look on his partner's face than anything else. Maybe no matter how much he wanted to be her Seeley Booth, he would never be enough. Maybe she knew too much about him, too much about his past to ever fully let him into her life. He sighed and clinked their drinks in dismay.

"To partnership." He uttered the exact words he knew would put her back at ease. It drew the line in place, clearly between them.

She smiled and returned the gesture. "To partnership."

Perhaps that's all her Seeley Booth would ever have.

*****

A/N: Anyone call for a Brennan companion piece?