Wow. So I bet you thought you'd never hear from me again, huh? Here's the next chapter in the tale. The story has now been changed to complete because the story really could end here, but I might add one more chapter. Every time I think it's done I come up with more things to say (one of the many reason it's taken so long to post chapter 3). But for now I'll say it's done, and if I decide to go through with a chapter 4 or 5 then it will just be a pleasant surprise.

I still don't own them.

CHAPTER 3

Brennan was the first to break the tense silence in the SUV.

"Are you angry?" she asked quietly.

"Of course I'm angry!" he said. "He had no right to do that to us. He messed with our partnership, and he let you believe I was dead for two weeks. There's no amount of apologizing that he can do that will ever make up for that."

She hesitated, then asked, "But are you angry with me?"

Booth sighed. "Bones, why didn't you tell me?"

She was quiet for a moment, then said, "I confronted Sweets about his actions shortly after you found out it was his responsibility to tell me. I had guessed his motivations, and made it very clear that experimentation would not be tolerated by either one of us."

"That doesn't explain why you couldn't tell me about it," he countered.

"At the time I told him that if you ever found out you would beat him up, which I believed was true. When you stormed into my office that day to tell me Sweets was the one who held the information back I could tell you were angry. If you were to find out that he was lying, I believe you would have hurt him. Given your current desire for your gun, I imagine I was right."

"So you covered for him."

"Yes," she admitted, "but I told him never to do it again. If he were to do anything like that again, I don't believe I would protect him from you."

At that Booth smiled. "Don't worry Bones, I would never really hurt your baby duck."

Brennan smiled too, then said, "Booth? You haven't answered my question."

"No, I'm not angry with you," he said. "I understand why you didn't tell me. I'm just really pissed at Sweets for deliberately ignoring my wishes and lying to you. He just sat there and watched you suffer. And now I find out he was just experimenting on us? On you? You're right, I do want to shoot him," he grumbled as he turned his head back towards the road. After a minute he sighed and said, "I guess I'm a little angry with me too."

"What? Booth, no" she immediately said.

"No, Bones, in a way you were right, I am the reason for all of this. I was the one who was careless around the woman who all accounts say was halfway to the loony bin already, and got myself shot in the chest. Not that I'm apologizing for it at all, like I said I still fully believe that protecting you was the right thing to do, and I would do it again in a heartbeat. I would happily die before I ever let anyone get to you. But that doesn't change the fact that I am the reason this all happened in the first place."

"No. I don't believe that. Nunan…"

"I know Bones, that's why I'm not sorry; I know I would never be able to live with myself if I let you get shot. If you had died that night…" He couldn't think about that. "But I did hurt you. You were right, I should have known better than to let the Bureau let you know what was going on. I should have found some way to contact you. It's my job to protect you from pain, not cause it. You thought I was dead and you … you…" His voice cracked as he spoke. "I hurt you, Bones."

"Yes, it hurt me." She said quietly. "Your death was… agonizing. But you can't take the blame for that upon yourself. You did the only thing you could do in the situation. You were shot by a woman with a mental imbalance."

"But that's just it Bones, maybe if I was able to shoot her first—"

"Stop." She was getting slightly annoyed that he wouldn't listen to reason. Despite the fact that just yesterday she had been yelling at him for the exact reasons he was now angry with himself, she just couldn't let him continue with his self-recrimination. "I was watching you the entire time, I saw the whole thing happen so I know for certain that there was no time for you to even get your gun out. You did not actually die and even if you did I'm sure you wouldn't have done so on purpose. Don't torture yourself over this. I trust your instincts and you should too. I trust you Booth. You would never hurt me intentionally."

After a long moment to let that sink in, she continued. "I'm sorry I yelled at you yesterday. My anger was irrational. The circumstances were unfortunate, and clearly you didn't die. Since that time I have convinced myself that you are okay. You are alive now, you are alive and you are not hurt."

Booth's gut went haywire. He couldn't figure out why, but he just didn't think she completely believed her own words. He was only a few blocks from his house, so he drove there and when they pulled up he turned to her and said, "Come with me."


She followed him without a word as he took her to his apartment and shut the door. Neither one of them had any idea where this was going. She was following his lead, and he was just following his gut. After a moment or two of staring at each other in silence, he pulled his shirt off.

Her eyes immediately left his and glued themselves to the small, almost invisible scar on his left shoulder. She contemplated it for a while. There was small circle from the bullet's entry and a short line from the surgery to remove it. Not even two inches in length, but the damage had been real. It was such a small remainder of the wound that shattered her world and left a gaping hole in her own chest that lasted long after the nightmare was over. She thought it was strange how bullets were so tiny in comparison to the impacts they could have. She had imagined the scar from the surgery would be longer, considering the hours waiting through his surgery were some of the longest of her life.

Her logical mind would have noted that she was being overly philosophical and emotional about something as simple as a scar—after all it was just a mark on the skin where it had regrown after some damage—but at that moment logic was entirely out of reach.

For a long time she stared at that scar, tangible proof that he would give his life for her without hesitation. She touched it lightly and he trembled.

"Thank you for saving my life"

"Any time, Bones."

Any time… She knew he meant it. But she'd had a taste of life without him, and although she could survive physically without him, she didn't want to. She finally pulled her eyes from the scar to look deep into his eyes and said, "I love you, Booth." She was surprised how good it felt to say that to him.

"I love you too, Bones." No hesitation.

Neither one of them moved—she was very nervous and unsure of what to do next, and he wasn't sure if she was just giving him the same old crap about loving him professionally. Not that it was really important at that moment.

Then, she leaned forward and kissed his scar. Booth was frozen; he couldn't move a muscle even if he wanted to. Brennan moved closer and kissed his lips, softly at first but when he responded she deepened the kiss. Suddenly she felt an overwhelming urge to make sure he understood exactly how she felt about him.

"I love you, Booth."

One look in her eyes and Booth knew exactly what she meant. He never saw anything as beautiful as Temperance Brennan in love. And she was in love with him. He was so happy his brilliant smile turned into laughter. He kissed her again, happy to savor the moment that had been such a long time coming. "I love you too, Bones. I love you so very much," he said as he kissed her some more.

Then he remembered that he brought her here for a reason: he was worried about her. He pulled back and grabbed her hand, and gently placed it over his heart.

"Do you feel that?" he asked her.

She nodded.

He pulled her head towards him until it lay against his chest and asked, "Do you hear that?"

"Yes. It's your heartbeat. It's beating regularly and sounds quite powerful, which is indicative of a strong and healthy heart." After a moment she said, "I find this rather calming. And inexplicably comforting."

He smiled. To that, all he could say was, "I love you, Bones."

What do you think, should it end here or should I keep going? I have some ideas for a first date, or for their revenge on Sweets...