Chapter 12 - The Truth in the Doctor

"I need to know if you can forgive me for betraying you," she said in rush and waited to hear her fate.

"Betraying me?" Booth said, surprised. This was not what he was expecting. "What are you talking about, Bones?"

This was not the response she was expecting either. She tilted her head and looked at him, surprised. "I didn't tell you about the plan to capture Lockton by faking my death. I was so angry with you when I didn't know your death was faked and then I did the same thing to you." She paused, her eyes filling with tears. "Except I was even worse, really. You thought someone was going to tell me, but I knew for certain that you would think it it was real. And I did it anyway. I'm so sorry, Booth, I shouldn't have..."

He leaned forward and placed a finger across her lips, silencing her before she could finish her apology. "Bones, stop. I understand why you did what you did and I certainly don't see it as any kind of betrayal." He shrugged, saying, "Yeah, I was upset; I was upset when I thought you were dead and I was upset when I found you were alive, but I understand the situation."

She just stared at him for a few moments, searching his eyes, waiting to see the anger she was expecting, but not finding it. "I...I don't understand..." she mumbled, still staring at him, frown creasing her brow.

Booth laughed softly. "Geez, Bones, if you want me to be mad at you, I guess I could try," he said, cupping her cheek in his hand and stroking the soft skin with his thumb.

That finally got him the smile he was looking for, lightening the tension between them a little bit. Brennan leaned into his hand slightly, her eyes back on his. He grew serious again; he did have one question for her. "I would like to know more, though, about why you agreed not to tell me. I didn't really get the whole story on what was going on."

She sighed, pulling away from his touch. He let her go, dropping his hand to her arm, squeezing it gently and giving her an encouraging smile. "I wanted to tell you, Booth. It went against every rational thought I had to leave you out of something so important." She shook her head ruefully. "But the most recent letters from Lockton indicated he'd been watching us...together..." She swallowed, not entirely sure how to verbalize this part. She felt him squeeze her hand gently and decided to just take the plunge. "He thought were a love...he...," her words tumbled over each other in her haste to get them out. She swallowed hard again and continued, her gaze fixed firmly on the blanket covering her. "He was jealous, wanted to get you out of the way. He was stalking you just as much as me. I was afraid..." She stopped then, again unsure if she should continue.

"Afraid?" he asked quietly, "Afraid of what?"

When she didn't answer, he reached back up and touched her face lightly, finger sliding under her chin. "Bones?"

Brennan closed her eyes, leaning her head back against the bed. She knew how much of herself and her feelings she was revealing, but she couldn't seem to stop. She couldn't lie to him. And if she were honest, she couldn't lie to herself anymore either. Her voice wavered as she spoke again. "I was afraid he would hurt you," she whispered finally. "I was afraid he would come after you, so I had to protect you. And I was afraid he would figure out my death wasn't real if you knew about it." She raised her head and looked at him at last. Booth sucked in a breath at the pain he could see in her eyes. "I couldn't put you in any danger, I couldn't risk him hurting you, so I agreed to go along with Cullen's plan when he approached me." She blinked, her eyes tearing again. "I knew I was hurting you...again...but I couldn't risk Lockton injuring you in any way. I considered the idea that you might not forgive me for lying to you, but it seemed a lesser price to pay than losing you completely."

Booth stared at her for a long moment, not saying anything. Brennan's insecurities reasserted themselves full force as she processed his silence as rejection; as the appearance of the anger she was still convinced he should feel. She suddenly found something on the other side of the room extremely fascinating, staring at a speck on the wall intensely. "So anyway," she said calmly, trying to smooth her face into an unreadable mask, "I understand why you wouldn't want to work with me anymore, since I betrayed your trust as my partner. If you'd like, I'll ask Cullen to re-assign you..."

Her words were cut off by his lips pressing softly against hers. He kissed her gently, his lips just brushing against hers, his hand finding its way into her hair. In her shock, she at first didn't move, but she recovered quickly and found herself leaning into him. Booth feathered more kisses against the corner of her mouth, her cheek, her forehead.

Booth leaned back slightly, catching her eye. "Sorry," he murmured, not looking the slightest bit so, "but that seemed like the best way to stop your crazy talk and convey my feelings at the same time."

Brennan shook her head, unable to resist returning his infectious smile. "Booth..." she began, but stopped as he leaned toward her again, his gaze on her lips.

He smirked at her, his warm brown eyes dancing. "See? It works every time," he said. His eyes darkened slightly as he watched her face, growing more serious as he did so. "Bones," he said, "I'm not going anywhere and I don't want to be reassigned. My place is with you, always." He shook his head at her as she started to interrupt. "No, Bones, that's it, so knock it off."

She nodded, then looked uncomfortable as she picked at the blanket with the fingers not bound up in the sling. He hadn't yet responded to her confessions and she was afraid of what he might still have to say. He knew her better than anyone she'd ever known, so he would have realized what she was really saying when she explained why she agreed to Cullen's plan. His kisses were evidence that he'd heard her and understood, but her bruised heart was afraid to believe until she heard him say it out loud.

And because Booth did know, exactly as she thought he did, perhaps even better than she realized, he also knew what was floating around in that brilliant mind of hers. He had heard what she was not saying when she explained her motives, and he had heard and understood what the words she did say actually meant.

"Bones," he said, quietly, untangling his fingers from her hair to tilt her chin up, forcing her to meet his warm gaze. He watched the fear, insecurity, nervousness, and hope flit through her beautiful blue eyes and smiled. "Bones, what I heard in what you just said was nothing like a betrayal. What I heard was an incredibly brave woman willing to risk everything to her to save someone else. What I heard was born of caring, not lies. What I heard was a reflection of a warm and open heart, not one driven to deceive." His hand caressed her cheek as he spoke, telling her everything she could want to hear with his words, the truth of them reflected in his eyes.

He watched as the swirling emotions in her eyes shifted from so much fear and uncertainty to hope. Booth leaned closer, his warm breath brushing her skin, causing the blue of her eyes to deepen. "I know I told you I was moving on, that I was looking for someone else to love me for a lifetime, and I'm sorry for that. It's the first time I've ever lied to you and I knew it was a lie when I said it. The love of my life was standing right in front of me already, no need to look any further." He heard her suck in a surprised breath, but continued on, "But I was afraid. I was afraid of losing you for good if I pushed you any further. I was afraid I wasn't good enough for you. I was afraid of a lot things, so I let you go."

"And then today, today, I had to look you in the eye while I...," his voice broke, but he swallowed hard and continued, "while I shot you. And it was just too much. I found a church nearby, trying to think, trying to figure out what to do next, worrying about what you'd say when you woke up from surgery, afraid again." He paused, then said, "But Hodgins, yes, Hodgins," he repeated with a grin in response to her raised eyebrow, "reminded me that our connection is too rare and too important to be afraid of or to let go." He felt her slide her hand from his and he tensed, his heart skipping a beat, unable to stop himself from thinking for a moment he'd misread the whole situation.

Brennan laid her hand gently on his face, stroking her thumb across his cheekbone, before she whispered, "Hodgins was right." Booth's eyes flew to hers and whatever he saw there caused a dazzling smile to spread across his face. Her smile echoed his as her thumb moved to slide across his lower lip, her breath hitching as she watched his eyes darken again, this time in a way that tightened her stomach. She swallowed, and said, "I had a lot of time to think while I was stuck in that hotel room and even though I was quite sure you'd be so angry with me you'd never want to see me again, I understood the reasons behind my decision. I had to protect your life, even if it meant I could never be a part of it again. But the longer the charade continued, and the more I heard from Cam about how you were feeling, the less able I was to justify my decision. My heart...hurt...even though that's impossible, that's what it seemed like." She frowned, still clearly sifting through all the feelings.

Booth chuckled softly, turning his head to kiss her palm briefly. "Not ridiculous at all, Bones," he said with a smile.

Her face cleared and she smiled in return, grateful he understood, as always. "I'm tired of running, Booth, and I'm tired of being afraid," she murmured, her hand slipping from his face. Her chest felt tight and her breathing shallow, but she persisted, taking that last step and laying it all on the line. "I've always focused on the risk that I'd be hurt if I allowed myself to love, but I've come to realize that there appears to be a great deal more to be gained than lost." She took a deep breath, meeting his eyes with a shy smile, and said, "I love you, Booth, and I want to give us a chance."

The brilliance of the smile on his face completely dwarfed anything prior, and she was a little stunned by what she saw shining in his eyes.

Booth could hardly believe what he'd just heard. He hadn't been sure he'd ever hear those words from her and had completely underestimated how it would feel when he finally did. It was absolutely exhilarating and he wanted to swoop her up in his arms and never let her go. As her injuries prevented such a grand gesture, he settled for sliding his hand behind her head, and pulling her toward him for a long, slow kiss. His lips brushed hers softly, tenderly, before his tongue skimmed along her lower lip, asking for more. Her lips parted instantly and he groaned softly as his tongue slid against hers. Her answering moan, as she tangled her free hand in his t-shirt, urged him on and he devoured her mouth until he finally had to pull away to catch his breath.

They simply stared at each other for a long moment, their breathing slowly returning to normal. Eventually, when his brain re-engaged, Booth realized he hadn't actually answered her implied question. He sat forward, eyes serious, but radiating such happiness it took Brennan's breath away. "I love you, too, Bones. More than I thought it was possible to love someone. I've been lucky enough to find the other half Plato said we search for our whole lives."

Booth took her hand, holding it as if he'd never let it go. Brennan smiled at him, squeezing his hand, then drawing him toward her once again. Only the sound of their accelerated breathing filled the room; no more words were needed.

The lies had been brushed away and the truth in the doctor had finally been revealed.

The End

A/N: Well, there we have it folks! I hope you liked how it all turned out! I very much enjoyed writing this and I'm touched by all the alerts and favorites and reviews it garnered. I've got some other ideas in mind, and I'm also up for prompts, so if you have any story suggestions, please feel free to PM me! See you on the flip side! :)