Although she had a gut spilling, corpse burning father, Temperance Brennan was not a murderer. Yet, as she worked beside the increasingly annoying Daisy Wick, she had to admit that she was having homicidal thoughts.

Daisy was placing bones on the work table in front of them. "I wonder what Lancelot's doing right now."

As Brennan arranged the bones in anatomical order, she resisted the urge to roll her eyes. Nearly six months had passed since they had departed D.C for the Maluku Islands. Six months of Daisy lamenting that she missed her Lancelot. Brennan inwardly scoffed at the ridiculous nickname. Dr. Sweets was a capable psychologist, but he didn't possess the qualities of a medieval knight. He hadn't served his country in any wars, and he wasn't particularly courageous or chivalrous or honorable. Not like Booth.

The image of her partner in his army uniform filled her mind. What was he doing right now? Maybe he was out in the field with his trainees, teaching them the skills they'd need to survive. Or perhaps he was enjoying some free time at the base. He had likely made new friends. Most were probably young men like Teddy Parker, but he'd have met some women too. Women who weren't ignorant of popular culture. Women who shared his religious beliefs and his love of sports. Women who didn't have abandonment issues because of their criminal parents. Maybe one of these women was helping him forget all about his Bones.

But she couldn't forget about him. She could distract herself with work during the day, but every night she found herself wishing she could eat with him at the diner, or have a drink with him at the Founding Fathers. She knew these wishes were completely illogical, as both locations were thousands of miles away. So was Booth. But she yearned for his company anyway.

This expedition could be the greatest success of my anthropological career, but I can't stop thinking about Booth, she had told Angela in a letter. Of course you can't, Angela wrote back. You know why? Because you LOVE him. Brennan wouldn't admit it out loud, but she knew her friend was right. Time and distance hadn't lessened the intensity of her feelings for her partner. Quite the opposite.

"Do you think he's waiting for me? I know he said he probably wouldn't, but maybe he hasn't found anyone else yet. Do you think that's just wishful thinking on my part? It is, isn't it?" Tears threatened to slide down Daisy's face. "He's totally moved on with some blond bimbo who knows more about sex than science and he'll propose to her with his mother's ring and they'll live happily ever-"

"Miss Wick!" Brennan gave her a look that would make a serial killer shudder. "STOP. Focus on the bones."

"Of course, Dr. Brennan. Sorry." Daisy worked in silence for a few blissful minutes. "I know I shouldn't talk about Lance so much, but it's just that we had something really special, and I really thought we were going to spend the rest of our lives together."

"You aren't the only one who left someone you care about," Brennan blurted out. "At least you know that Dr. Sweets is most likely safe in D.C. Booth is in a war zone. At any moment he could get shot and killed. He could get captured and tortured for information. He could get blown up in a suicide bomber's blast, leaving behind just his bones for the army's forensic anthropologist to identify!"

Daisy was in tears. "I'm so sorry, Dr. Brennan. It was selfish of me to keep talking about Lance when I know that you love Booth as much as-"

"Your apology is accepted," Brennan interrupted, blinking back her own tears. "Let's get back to work."

XXXXXXXXXX

Hours later, Brennan lay wide awake on the cot in her tent, her brain divided on whether or not she should try to sleep. As a scientist, she was well aware that the human body needed sleep to function properly. On the other hand, sleep meant the possibility of having more nightmares about Booth being injured or dead. Would he have stayed in D.C. if she had? If so, was she partially responsible for any harm that might come to him?

The sound of footsteps broke through her thoughts. Was Daisy coming to apologize again, or to check up on her? She sincerely hoped not.

"Bones?"

Brennan shot into a sitting position. Had she really heard Booth's voice? No, she had to be hallucinating. That was the only logical explanation. Could love make someone hallucinate?

"Bones? Are you in there?"

Still not trusting her senses, Brennan raced to the edge of her tent and opened the flap. Her heart stopped when she saw her partner's smiling face. "You…you can't be here. You're supposed to be in Afghanistan! Have you gone AWOL?" She recalled that he'd snuck off base to say goodbye to her at the airport; had he snuck out of Afghanistan to visit her now? What would the army do to him when they found out?

He recognized the look of panic in her eyes. "Don't worry, Bones, I'm not breaking any rules. My guys are doing great, so my superiors rewarded me with a week's leave." The partners stared at each other for a few moments. "Can I…uh…come in?"

Brennan stepped back to allow him entrance, zipped the tent up, and threw herself into his arms. The feel of his firm, warm body erased all doubts that she was imagining this encounter.

Booth kissed the top of her head. "I missed you too, Bones." They released each other after a minute, although both would have preferred a longer embrace. "I need to tell you something."

The seriousness in his voice alarmed her. Was he going to say that he planned to stay in the army indefinitely and they'd never work together again? Or that he had met someone and moved on?

He took her hand in his as they sat on her cot. "When I took this assignment, I hoped that this year would help me sort things out. I thought that being away from you would make things easier…that I'd be able to move on."

She felt herself on the verge of tears again, but forced herself to maintain eye contact. "I understand. I expected that this trip would give me a similar opportunity."

His thumb traced soft circles on her hand. "Has it worked?"

"No."

"It hasn't worked for me either. You remember Sweets saying that we complement each other? I think he was right. We need each other, Bones. We have a sort of symbiotic relationship."

She laughed softly. "No, you and I are the same species."

"Huh?"

"Symbiosis describes beneficial interactions between different species, like that of a clownfish and a sea anemone, or-"

"The clownfish in Finding Nemo lived in a sea anemone!" Booth said. Embarrassed at the excitement in his voice, he added: "Parker loves that movie."

"I enjoyed it too."

Booth's eyes widened in surprise. "You've seen Finding Nemo?"

"I watched it once with Russ's step-daughters. I thought it was amusing, although the beginning was quite heart crushing."

He thought a moment, then nodded. "When the mother fish was killed trying to defend her eggs."

"It was irrational of her to think that she had any chance of victory against such a large predator."

"Yeah, but when the ones you love are in danger, you don't think rationally. You just act. You do anything you can to try to help your people."

Brennan remembered all the times Booth had come to her defense. "I know you would do anything to help others, but please tell me that you haven't been trying to be a hero in Afghanistan. Tell me you've been careful."

He broke eye contact. "I've only done what needed to be done."

She let go of his hand in anger. "You shouldn't be taking any unnecessary risks! I almost lost you when you got shot, and when you wouldn't wake up from your coma." Her tears broke free at last. "I would prefer not to lose you again…I can't lose you again."

"You won't." He brought her into his embrace. "I'll always come back to you, no matter what." After rubbing her back for a few minutes, he pulled away to face her. "I came here to tell you that I still love you."

"Booth, I-"

"I know you think you can't love me back, but I think your heart is more open than you realize. It's been opening up for years."

"Because of you." She wiped away her tears with the back of her hand. "Sometimes I think it's become too open."

"You're afraid that you've lost your objectivity. That you're less of a rational scientist now than you were before we met."

"Yes," she admitted. Once again he'd proved that he knew her better than anyone.

He took her hand again. "Having an open heart doesn't make you any less brilliant. You're still the smartest, most amazing woman I've ever known. I bet you've discovered things out here that will change the course of history, things that no one else would have figured out."

"That's true. But I've also discovered that, even when I'm faced with the most fascinating anthropological find of my career, I can't stop thinking about you."

He grinned. "When someone is always in your thoughts, that's a sign of love."

"I know." A slow smile spread across her face. "I concluded months ago that I am irrevocably in love with you."

Booth sat in stunned silence, his joy at her words tempered by disbelief.

"Irrevocably means 'impossible to undo or change,'" Brennan added.

"Wow. I…wow. I can't tell you how many times I've prayed that you would say something like that someday. Are you sure?"

"You should know by now that I never make conclusions until I'm sure of the facts."

"I've really missed your sexy squint talk." He inched closer to her. "If I tried to kiss you again, would you push me away?"

"No. I've pushed you away long enough. If you decided to kiss me, I would kiss you back quite thoroughly."

Booth's grin widened. "Then get ready, because I've decided to kiss you."

When Booth's lips met hers moments later, Brennan fulfilled her promise. Their eager kisses quickly deepened. Impatient hands reached for buttons and zippers. Cast off clothes piled up on the tent floor. Cries of pleasure pierced the cold night air. After six years of playing it safe, and six months apart, the scientist and the gambler were finally rolling the dice.

XXXXXXXXXX

The next morning, a concerned Daisy Wick stood outside her mentor's tent. "Dr. Brennan?"

Brennan stirred, her consciousness slowly returning. When she opened her eyes, she saw her partner smiling at her. Her naked partner. Life was good.

"DR. BRENNAN?"

Brennan reluctantly lifted her head to answer. "What is it, Miss Wick?"

"I wanted to see if you were okay. I was worried because you're always up and working before I am, and last night I thought I heard these strange sounds coming from your tent, so I thought you might be sick."

As Daisy spoke, Booth started kissing Brennan's neck. "No. I'm…I'm fine." She bit back a moan.

"Great! I've found some interesting anomalies on specimen 347. Can I come in and show you?"

"NO!" Brennan said more loudly than she'd intended. "Now is…not a good time. We'll be out soon." Brennan realized her mistake as soon as the words were out of her mouth. But how could she be expected to keep track of pronouns when Booth was kissing her like that?

"We?" Daisy repeated. "Who's in there with you?"

Booth and Brennan exchanged a look. "Should we tell her?" Brennan whispered.

"She was going to find out sooner or later," Booth said. After a nod from Brennan, he called out: "It's me, Daisy."

"OH MY GOD!" Daisy shrieked. "You came all the way from Afghanistan to visit Dr. Brennan? That's so romantic! Oh! That would definitely explain the masculine sounding moans."

Brennan laughed as Booth's face reddened. "Please get back to work, Miss Wick," she said. "I'll join you shortly."

"Shortly?" Booth pouted.

"Eventually," Brennan corrected.

XXXXXXXXXX

After another round of physics law breaking, the partners rested in each other's arms. "You shouldn't be so embarrassed to talk about sex," Brennan said. "You're very good at it."

He laughed. "Thanks, Bones. You're very impressive yourself."

"I know." They smiled at each other for a few moments, then Brennan's mood sobered. "What's going to happen six months from now when we meet in D.C? You said FBI partners aren't allowed to fraternize. What if they split us up?"

"They won't. We're Booth and Bones, master crime fighters! We're the best team they have. They'll let us be partners again…but we can't go back to the way things were. This nature show I watched on the Discovery Channel said that animals have to evolve to face changes in their environment, or they die out. So I suggest we evolve. Together. What do you think, Bones?"

She kissed him. "I think that I'm looking forward to evolving with you."

XXXXXXXXXX

Thanks for reading! All comments are greatly appreciated.