This is a one-shot I wrote for my fellow Lab-rat mod DME for her birthday. She is a lover of the fluff, so I did my best to accommodate her. Enjoy!

Post-Season Five finale, spoilers within.


The Virtue in the Saints

Seeley Booth stood next to the bench at the Reflecting Pool, looking at his watch for the one hundredth time that day. He had been sure he and Bones had agreed on noon to meet, but now, as it neared 2 PM he was questioning his own memory. 'Is it possible that she was held up in customs?' he wondered internally. 'Did she just change her mind about our partnership? Our friendship?' He had a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach just thinking about it.

Finally, once his watch told him that it was after 3, he resigned himself to the fact that she wasn't coming and headed to the taxi stand near the coffee cart. Once inside a cab, he decided to see if she was even back yet and gave the driver her address.

As the historic scenery of DC passed by the windows, Booth thought back over the last year. The first few months of being separated from everyone and everything he loved had been hard…incredibly so. He ached every day to hold Parker, to be able to take him to the park to throw the football around, to watch his face light up in excitement as they walked through the zoo or a museum or any number of fun places they always went when they were together. And the ache was just as intense when he thought of Bones. Although they had been able to keep in touch through email, it just wasn't the same. He hadn't been able to hear her voice because she didn't have that kind of communication access in the remote area she was working, and he even surprised himself by how much that bothered him. His dreams at night were filled with memories of their life together, and as real as they seemed they never really eased the pain his heart was constantly battling whenever he thought of her…which was almost every minute of every day.

He had been able to come home twice, for two weeks each trip while he was deployed. Seeing Parker helped, and he had been able to have dinner a few times with Cam and Sweets, both of whom studiously and quite obviously avoided mentioning Brennan directly. He wasn't sure if he was grateful for that or irritated, but it did make things easier and more relaxed. Cam had seemed as though she wanted to talk about Bones, but he deflected the conversation by telling her about the loss of his ever-present poker chip, which he had managed to lose within three days of being in Afghanistan. He had others hidden away in his apartment, but the one he lost had been the same chip he'd carried since the night he and Brennan had almost slept together all those years ago, and it pissed him off to not have it to turn over in his pocket whenever he thought of her.

Aside from those four weeks he was able to spend back home, the time apart from Bones had passed slower than any other time in his life. He had managed to make a few friends among the other soldiers, and he believed that he really had made a difference while he was there, but he would never be completely happy or satisfied with his decision to go. Deep down he knew that he had really gone to keep himself from going insane while Bones was away on her dig, because telling her he didn't want her to go was not an option. He heard his internal voice berating him for once again letting his "white knight syndrome" rule his actions, but apparently his internal voice hadn't seen the look on Brennan's face when she explained to Booth that she was worried about his safety, that she needed 'more than a little time' to get her mind right. Booth knew there was no way that anything he said to her was going to ease her fears, and that she needed time…and space. So against everything he believed and every single emotion he felt for her, he let her go. And after everything he had done and felt for her, now she hadn't even managed to show up for their agreed-upon reunion. With a sigh, he realized they were outside her apartment building and the cabbie was looking at him expectantly. He asked him to wait as he eased out of the cab and headed into the building.

Ten minutes later, he opened the cab door and sat back down, giving the driver his own address. He wasn't really surprised that she wasn't home. He sat back against the ratty seat in resignation. He knew despite everything that Bones would never blow him off like that, at least without calling. Thinking she must have been delayed, he paid the cab driver and headed up to his apartment.

Booth's sniper senses lit up like a Christmas tree as he put his key in the door. 'Someone's been here..' he thought to himself. He eased the door open quietly, cursing the fact that he didn't have his weapon on him.

The hallway was unlit, but he could still see, bathed in sunlight streaming through the windows like a vision from a dream, Brennan standing in the middle of the living room, facing him. She smiled and took a tentative step forward, stopping when she saw the look on his face.

Booth closed the door quietly behind him, and walked slowly down the hallway, taking in every single little thing that had changed about this woman he had been thinking about every single minute of the last 390 days. "Bones..." he breathed. "You changed your hair."

Brennan chuffed out a laugh. "You haven't seen me for a year and that's the first thing you choose to point out?"

He came closer to her, cataloguing each difference in her appearance, from the new hairstyle to the darker tone of her skin to the fact that her small frame seemed even slimmer. "I'm sorry, Bones. I'm just…surprised. That's all. It's good to see you."

She finally smiled, big and bright. "It's good to see you, too Booth." She moved to stand in front of him, only a few inches of space between them. She held out her hand, where a small box sat in her palm. "I brought you a gift."

Despite every urge in his body wanting to grab her and pull her into his arms, he instead reached out and took the proffered box, giving her an inquisitive stare. "You didn't have to-"

"Yes. Yes, I did. Just, please…open it." Her hands twisted nervously in front of her.

Nodding, Booth pulled the lid from the box and his breath caught in his throat. Sitting delicately on the cotton batting was a gold plated coin. He pulled it out of its resting place and held it up to the light.

"It's to replace your lost poker chip. Saint Joseph. The patron saint of-"

"Families." Booth finished. "I know."

Brennan tried to cover her nervousness by rambling. "St. Joseph was a caring, dedicated, compassionate man. He was dedicated to duty and his family, and he was a man of great faith. He was humble, but also of royal lineage as evidenced by the way the angel who told him of Jesus' impending birth referred to him as "Son of David". He was a good man."

"I know all this, Bones. Why-"

"You are the personification of everything that Joseph believed in. You care for those less fortunate, you accept those who have no other family into your own metaphorical family, and you are just as dedicated to duty and faith as Joseph. I find it appropriate that you bear his name, and I wanted you to remember that, whenever you doubt who you really are." Brennan took a step back and looked down.

The coin caught the light as Booth turned it over, his heart thundering in his chest. "Thanks, Bones."

"Turn it over. Please." She stepped back further, trying to get some distance between them.

When Booth looked at the opposite side, his heart stopped. "Saint Dwynwen." He breathed in awe.

Nodding again, Brennan stepped forward slightly. "The patron saint of love." She nervously wrapped her arms around her torso as she explained. "I know that Saint Valentine is generally accepted to be the patron saint of love, but I found that Saint Dwynwen's story was…more appropriate. Do you know it?"

Booth, still in shock, could only shake his head.

"Saint Dwynwen was a Welsh girl whose heart was set on becoming a nun, even though it meant sacrificing her love for a man who was also deeply in love with her. She prayed to God that her lover be free of his heartache for her, and that all lovers should find happiness." Her breath hitched in her chest as she tried to maintain eye contact.

Booth saw the tears in her eyes before he noticed that he had answering moisture in his own. "You know how ironic that is, right Bones? Because you said that you and I couldn't be together because you would cause me heartache. Isn't that right?" His voice held no ire, only confusion.

"I realize that." Brennan finally stepped closer to Booth, reaching out to take his unoccupied hand in both of hers. "But after some…intense introspection, I've come to realize that while my intentions were only for your comfort and happiness, my actions did nothing but cause you pain. And I've been coming to terms with the fact that I've also caused myself a great deal of pain as well. Pain that could have been avoided if-"

"If you learned how to gamble." Booth pulled her to him and wrapped his arms around her, finally burying his face in her hair and inhaling deeply. He felt her entire body relax into his, despite the fact that she was still trembling slightly.

"Yes." She breathed. "I need to learn to let go and follow my heart, and you know how hard that is for me, Booth. But…I think, I mean I hope…that you can help me with that."

Booth took a deep breath and released twelve months of heartache, sadness and pain in one long exhale. The woman was maddening, she drove him crazy while every fiber of his being warned him off of loving her…and yet he couldn't resist. Never could. After she turned him down he thought that he would have to move on, move past these feelings of desperate longing that never seemed to ebb. And yet in one fell swoop she took all of that insecurity away, and healed the break in his heart like no one ever could. He pulled back slightly so he could look into those eyes he had been longing to drown himself in since he first saw her standing on that stage at American University, and said the one thing he had been wanting to say for over a year.

"Welcome home, Bones."