As much as I hate to say it….no smut in this chapter, either. I've decided to keep this one a T. There may be smut in the sequel, though. Depends on the feedback.

Three things….one, as always I have to give it up for my favorite black-hearted fellow Boothling, Brainysmrfs, who always proofreads my chapters without complaint and inspects them closely for too much cheese….and does it all with unending good humor and encouragement. She. Is. Awesome. Thanks, Mary.

Two, another reviewer was sharp enough to point out that although I wrote that Booth had been an agent for ten years in Chapter Twenty-Four, he has actually been an agent for 13 years. (Twelve in season four…the line from Crank in the Shaft, when Booth was trying to get the comfortable office chair, was: Twelve years of service and lumbar support, okay?.) So I apologize for the error.

And finally, a tip of the hat to AchingBones, who has (incredibly) reviewed every single chapter of this story. Since I am a lazy reviewer myself, this both amazes and humbles me. I appreciate feedback so much, and yours has been consistent and encouraging. So thank you from the bottom of my heart.

This is, sadly for me, the last chapter of this part of my version of Booth and Brennan's story. I have already started outlining a sequel, but as I will be working on it at the same time as I will be working on a collaborative story with some good friends, the sequel definitely won't update as often as this one did. I just wanted to say thank you to everyone who took the time to read, review, alert or favorite this story. You've fed my admittedly starving ego, made me laugh, made me cry, and made me proud. I'm humbled by your enthusiasm for my little story and am forever in your debt. All of you.

I don't own Bones. But I do have an impressive collection of Boothy socks. *sigh* Not really the same, tho.

Chapter Twenty-Six

Although Booth found that his bodily desire to finally make love with Brennan hadn't waned, his brain was telling an entirely different story. He was preoccupied with the thought of no longer being able to go out into the field with his partner, and even though Brennan gave it a valiant effort, even she found her thoughts drifting to what she was going to do about the situation.

Sighing, she climbed off Booth's lap and smiled sadly. "This wasn't how the evening was supposed to go."

"I know, Bones. And you have to know how much I want you…I do. But I can't get the fact that I'm not going to be in the field anymore out of my head."

"I admit, I have been thinking about what I am going to do, now that you won't be there. I've always said that I wouldn't work with anyone else but you, but after working with Richard…"

"Gunn is staying, Bones. But he wants to talk to you about it first."

Brennan's face lit up. "He does? Oh…" Seeing the sadness still in Booth's eyes, she tried to look less excited, knowing that he was still struggling. "Well, then I guess I have more to think about."

He loved how she tried to temper her excitement for him, but he refused to bring her down with him. "Bones, it's okay. And honestly, if there were anyone besides me I would feel comfortable having you go out in the field with, it's Gunn. So that's really the majority of my worries about this whole thing. Your safety is more important to me than any promotion."

"So, would this promotion make you Gunn's boss?"

"Yeah. That's part of why he called. He offered to stay on as your partner, knowing it would put me more at ease, and also to start, as he put it, 'kissing the right ass'." Booth chuckled as he stood up. Heading for the kitchen, he called back to Brennan. "Bones, you want another beer?"

"Yeah, might as well." Brennan tucked her legs under her and leaned back into the sofa. "You're staying here again, right?"

Booth returned from the kitchen and handed her an open beer. "Yes, if it's okay. But I think…"

Smiling ruefully, Brennan agreed. "Yeah. No hunky punky. I know."

"Hanky panky, Bones. Hanky panky."

Walking into the diner the next morning, Gunn couldn't keep the delighted smile off his face as he saw Booth and Brennan already sitting at their table, both on the same side, hands linked on the tabletop. Erik nudged him and grinned, eyebrows waggling suggestively.

"You be good. You know how touchy Booth is." Gunn pushed him forward, making him miss a step and stumble.

"Nice, spousal abuse. Want me to arrest him, Erik?" Booth was amused at the instant grin that crossed Erik's face.

"You know something, Seeley? That's not a bad idea to have in my back pocket. Thanks." Erik clapped Booth on the shoulder as he leaned over him and kissed Brennan on the cheek. "Good morning, beautiful. You looked lovely on television yesterday."

Blushing, Brennan shook her head. "I still can't believe I did that in front of the entire country."

Gunn sat down and chuckled. "Nah, don't sweat it Doc. Personally, I thought it was fitting. Nothing you two do is ever going to be on a small scale."

"Ain't that the truth?" Booth agreed, waving the waitress over to get everyone's orders. "So, to what do we owe the pleasure of this visit? Erik finally realizes he could do so much better and decided to dump your ugly ass?"

Erik smiled happily at Booth. "Don't think I haven't thought about it."

"Alright, enough. This is actually important, people." Gunn accepted his coffee gratefully from the waitress and took a long sip.

The waitress hesitated for a moment before turning to Booth. "Agent Booth, I just wanted to say that I'm so glad you're back. We've missed you and Dr. Brennan around here, it was getting boring without you two bickering about something over lunch every day."

Booth gave her his full-on charm smile, making Brennan and Gunn both roll their eyes. "Thanks, Betty. I'm just glad to be back. I missed you all, too."

Betty raised an eyebrow at Brennan. "You resisted him for how long? With that smile?" Gunn snorted into his cup. "You're a stronger woman that I am, Dr. Brennan."

"Yes, well…his charm only gets him so far, Betty. It begins to wear on you after awhile. Along with that massive ego." Brennan nudged Booth and grinned.

"I can imagine." Betty smiled. She let them know that their food would be up shortly, and then made her exit, still laughing.

"I can't believe how mean you are to me sometimes, Bones. I thought you loved me."

"I do, but really Booth…you're getting too old to live on your charm. You're going to have to improve on your personality to get by in your new job." She gave him an innocent grin, barely holding back a full chuckle.

Booth pointed across the table at Gunn. "I blame you for her newly acquired smart mouth, you know."

"Moi?" Gunn placed a hand on his chest and managed to look offended. "I bear no responsibility for your lady's sudden grasp of sarcasm and wit. That's all on you, my friend."

Chuffing in derision, Booth changed the direction of the conversation. "So, what was this important announcement you needed to share with us?"

Gunn glanced at Erik, who nodded. "Well, since I hear that you've officially taken the SAC job…"

Booth gaped. "How did you hear that? I only let Hacker know this morning!"

"I have my ways." Gunn gave Brennan a conspiratorial look that was not missed by Booth.

"Bones! You called him?"

"Right after you called Hacker. You were in the shower. I didn't think you'd mind."

"He doesn't, Doc. He's just mad you stole his thunder." Eyebrows raised, Gunn continued. "Anyway…since you're not going to be in the field as much, I thought I would formally offer my services as the permanent Jeffersonian liaison. If the good doc there doesn't mind partnering with a much better looking and infinitely more intelligent man than her last partner, that is."

Brennan knew that this was one of those times where her reaction was incredibly important to Booth as to how he himself handled a situation. While most people thought that she followed his lead in all things emotional, she was well aware that many times, Booth took his cues from her. She stole a quick glance at Booth's expressionless face, and took a chance.

"While I have serious doubts that you will ever measure up to my former partner's skills with a weapon, intuitive nature and impressive natural ability to interrogate suspects, I am willing to accept you as the new liaison…as long as Booth has no objections."

Booth smiled at Brennan's attempt to make him feel better about the end of their partnership. She had been doing that since the night before, when the consequences of his promotion finally hit both of them. He was still a little torn, but after hearing what the pay raise was and getting another verbal beating from Brennan later in the evening, he decided to take the job with no regrets. Well, few regrets. He would always miss driving to crime scenes with her, interrogating witnesses by her side, and spending lunch time napping on her office sofa…but things changed, and not necessarily for the worst. He was slowly learning to accept that fact.

"I don't have a problem with your partnering with Gunn, Bones. This really is your decision, as much as I appreciate your consideration of my feelings." He noticed how Gunn's eyebrows raised in disbelief. "What? I may be an over-protective alpha male at times, but I do know that Bones is a confident, intelligent, strong woman and she is perfectly capable of making this decision without me."

"Wow." Gunn looked at Erik. "Are you buying this crap? Because I know I'm not."

"I love him and I'm not even buying it." Brennan said, deadpan.

"You two suck and I don't even know why I hang out with you." Booth crossed his arms in mock irritation. "So, Erik…feel like ditching these two? I make more money and have more brains than this loser does, you know." He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively.

Erik laughed and shook his head. "Thanks for the offer, Seeley, but I think I'll stick with the broke dumb guy for now."

"Fine. But you don't know what you're missing." Booth gave him a genuine grin and turned towards Brennan. "So, Bones…what do you think? Think you can handle this dumbass on a daily basis?"

"I suppose I can live with him. He does have pleasing, symmetrical features so at least the scenery will be nice."

"She said you're gorgeous, Richard." Erik patted his shoulder. "She has a good eye." Gunn raised an eyebrow at Booth, who rolled his eyes back in return.

"Alright, so it's decided. I take the job, Bones gets Gunn as a partner…hey! Are you moving here permanently, Erik?"

"Yes, as soon as I can, actually. I already have several offers from architectural agencies here so all I have to do is choose."

"That's fantastic, Erik. Are you moving in with Gunn, or are you looking for something bigger? I know a few good realtors, if you're interested."

"Thanks, Temperance. Actually, we are looking. I'll let you know when we're ready to start looking."

"Great. I wanted to look for a bigger place myself, now I have an excuse to call sooner than I planned." Brennan idly took a sip of coffee, impervious to Booth's shocked expression.

"Bones? You want a bigger place? Why? Your apartment is great."

Shaking her head, Brennan leaned back in her chair. "I love my apartment, but I would really love to have a house. I mean, I assume we would have Parker a couple of times a month and I only have the one spare room, which I already use as an office. I thought you would need an office as well, Booth. Also, kids need a yard to play in and I know that eventually we're going to want another child and I didn't want to have to find a house at the last minute."

Booth was glad he hadn't been drinking his coffee when Brennan finished verbally throwing up all over him. "Alrighty then."

"That's all you have to say, Booth?" Brennan seemed disappointed.

"Yup. Hard to argue with that logic, Bones."