Sorry this has taken awhile to get up on the fanfiction site. I really tried to work through this chapter before I left for the beach, but it didn't happen. Then when I got back, there was this kidney stone thing and my daughter's getting married September 18 (points to those who can pick up that reference in this story) and I was hit with a multitude of tasks that have to wait until almost the last minute to complete. So needless to say, life got in the way of my fiction. This chapter is shorter than normal, but it sums the story up quite nicely – at least I think so anyway. Enjoy!
I can't get back to DC fast enough. A flight to London, then to New York and finally into Dulles takes more hours than I care to spend hermetically sealed in a metal tube and shot across the sky. I spend my time trying to read my anthropology journals but don't comprehend a word. When I try to re-read the same article for the third time, I finally give up and ponder what Booth means by "Coffee?"
Part of me hopes, quite selfishly, that he means to pick up where we left off back in 2010. But the rational, logical part of me realizes that we can't. We're different people now. Life experiences have changed us. People have changed us.
Time has changed us.
So how is he going to define "Coffee?"
Is it going to be straight-up black? All business with the kind of partnership we had before that night at the Hoover Building? The kind of relationship where we're partners and best friends, but the midnight runs of Thai food and paperwork ends with either him sleeping in my couch or a friendly good night at the door?
Or is it going to be cream-and-sugar laced? The kind of relationship that is sweet and caring? A bit more than friendship but just shy of what we both wanted all those years ago?
Or is it going to be more like chai tea? Sweet and spicy? The best of both worlds? All the sweetness either one of us wants but with a bite of passion that keeps a healthy lust alive in a relationship?
I sigh and shut my eyes. I won't be able to figure it out until I see him. Friends, my conscience whispers to me. You and he both agreed to be friends. Don't read anymore into it than that. Accept the fact – graciously – that the man still wants your friendship.
The plane banks and lands. I impatiently wait for my luggage and then take a cab to the National Mall.
There are some moments in life you know go by in slow motion. This is one of them.
The cab ride takes forever and we seem to hit every red light between Dulles and the National Mall. When we finally get there, I collect my pull-behind bag from the back of the taxi, shove some bills into the driver's hands, murmur a thank-you-and-keep-the-change and begin to make my way down the sidewalk, dodging tourists and DC residents and all the while just wishing everyone would just get out of my way. Impatience rises to a level in me that I have never experienced before.
It doubles when I don't immediately see him at the coffee stand. What if he's changed his mind? What if there's more than one coffee cart now? What if I've picked the wrong one? I find myself teetering on the threshold of full-blown panic – and Temperance Brennan doesn't panic.
And that's when I hear him.
One word. One word is all it takes to make my panic subside and my impatience melt away as I turn to see him. He still has the gray at his temples, his face shows a few more worry lines, but his eyes…his eyes are still that same knee-buckling chocolate brown and his shoulders are still just as broad, and when he pulls me into one of his hugs, he still smells like home.
I realize have seriously underestimated how much I have missed this man.
"Booth…" I begin, only to be cut off as his hands cup my face and he closely examines me. I know I'm tanned. My hair is still shorter than it's been in the past. But for the life of me I know that my appearance is not what the man is looking at. Booth's looking past all of that straight into my heart and soul and I hope that he can see that I'm not the same woman I was years ago when I refused him outside the Hoover Building. I hope that now he can see that shiny, new part of me that is open and wants to love him like he deserves to be loved.
Like I want to love him. I can only hope that it's not too late.
"I've missed you, Bones."
"I've missed you, too, Booth." My voice sounds tiny, even to my ears. But I'm finding it's difficult to talk around the lump in my throat that has developed under his close scrutiny. His forehead lowers to touch mine and his eyes close and just for the moment we breathe each other in. My hands automatically find his, silently pleading for him to keep touching me.
"Don't leave again. Please." he requests softly, his eyes still closed.
"I won't. I'll stay as long as you want me."
His eyes open and for a long moment he examines me again. I hope my face has the same conviction written on it that my heart does. And he smiles. A full-on charm smile that reaches his eyes and my knees buckle just a bit. Just like they always have when he smiles at me that way.
"Then that's going to be for a long time, Bones." He reaches for my luggage with one hand and my hand with his other hand and pulls me over to the coffee cart. Looks like I'm finally going to get that cup of coffee that he promised me so long ago. He places the order and my mind flies back to the first time we were here. So much has happened and I can't help but reflect on what it has taken us to get to this point.
Afghanistan. Maluku. Jill. Gaylord Tucker. Professional gain. Personal loss. So much has happened to change us, but yet in so many ways we have remained the same. And as Booth hands me my coffee with soymilk, I notice something else.
The cherry trees are in full bloom.