A/N: This isn't really an "after the finale" fic, and I haven't posted a work in progress before, so this is another new adventure for me - but I do know where I plan to go with the story.

Reviews will be hugely important in my knowing if you want me to continue… and please, let me know what you think!

As always, I own nothing—I get nothing. This is simply a labor of love and homage to the genius that is "Bones."

The Story in the Truth

Chapter 1 – The Day Before the First Day

It wasn't unusual for Temperance Brennan to wake before dawn, but it was an odd occurrence for her to wake feeling completely rested. She attributed that to the man lying next to her. She'd been keeping Booth at arm's length while at the same time pining for him for so long that she was beginning to think she'd never have a man in her bed again. Last night had changed all that; broke her dry spell, as Angela would say. She sighed in contentment as she rolled over to look at her sleeping partner. She wished daybreak would hold off just a little longer so she could enjoy this moment of serenity before facing the inevitable awkward "morning after."

She closed her eyes and lay back against her pillow, listening to the sounds of silence. She must've drifted back to sleep because the next thing she knew, sunlight was peeking through the windows and she was being awakened by the sleep-roughened sound of his voice.

"Good morning," he said, pulling her close and nuzzling the soft spot at the crook of her neck.

"Good morning," she replied, her voice trembling just enough for him to notice.

"Stop," he said.

"Stop what?" she asked, glad that her back was to him and she didn't have to look into his eyes.

"Thinking."

"You know it's imposs-"

"Ah, ah, ah," he said, interrupting her. "Just let yourself feel. Turn off that beautiful brain for just a few more minutes."

"I can't," she whispered.

"Yes, you can," he prodded, turning her to face him. "You promised, Bones. No regrets."

"No." The word escaped her lips on a sigh as she shook her head. "No regrets."

He leaned in for a kiss and she closed her eyes, taking his advice and letting her metaphorical heart lead the way. As she let herself get lost in the kiss and in the feelings it evoked within her, she felt surprisingly at ease…playful, even. He promised her that it would be all right; that they could do this, together they could do anything. Booth had never once broken a promise to her and she knew he wouldn't start with something as big as this. She smiled as she broke the kiss and propped up on her elbow facing him.

"So, now do you think I'm easy?"

"What?" he asked. Where the hell did that come from?

"I mean, isn't it traditional that a couple have at least one date before they engage in sexual intercourse?"

Did she just recognize us as a couple? He smiled at the thought.

"Since when have we ever been traditional?" he asked. "Besides, I think seven years of foreplay was plenty. Don't you?"

She flashed a bright smile at that thought. He was certainly correct. In some ways, this seemed like the next logical step, but in many others it seemed as if they'd taken a giant forward leap. He was right, she had to stop thinking and just try to keep her head in the moment.

"What do you want to do today?" he asked, tracing an imaginary line down her arm where it rested on top of the sheet.

"Would you think badly of me if I said I just wanted to stay in this bed all day?"

"Are you kidding?" he replied with a devastating grin. "I think that would make me just about the luckiest guy in the world."

"Just about?" she asked, eyes twinkling.

"And now who's being cocky?" he asked. Pulling her to him, he laughed as she began to giggle.

The laughter quickly subsided and was replaced with murmurs of love and moans of passion as once again, the couple found their way to the heights of ecstasy and Booth continued to show his Bones what making love was meant to be.

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The midday sun streaming through the windows blanketed the couple as they lay in each other's arms. They were quiet each lost in their thoughts, when the silence was broken by a low rumbling sound.

"Oh my god, Bones," Booth laughed out loud. "Was that your stomach?"

She looked up sheepishly from where her head was pillowed on his chest, her hand resting over his heart.

"I suppose it wasn't realistic to think we could actually stay in bed all day," she said.

"No, I guess not," he said, still laughing. He sat up, bringing her with him. "Come on woman, let's get you fed."

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She sat cross legged on a counter stool wearing little more than his green Army t-shirt, watching as he prepared what he claimed would be the best omelet she'd ever tasted. She didn't doubt that, at all. Today was proving to be a day of superlatives. She was feeling more than she'd ever remembered feeling, and she'd just had the best sex of her life. She found herself looking forward to what the day could bring, even as she remembered the day that brought her to this moment.

She paced her living room as she looked at her watch for the hundredth time. She'd cleaned the apartment and stocked the refrigerator. She was running out of ways to burn off her nervous energy. It was Friday morning, and she'd returned from Indonesia four days earlier. She'd intentionally scheduled her return to DC ahead of Booth's return from Afghanistan. She'd come to some hard realizations while she was away and she needed to sort through them at home, among familiar places and things-on their turf-before she'd be ready to see him face to face.

Now she knew what she had to do. Booth's plane was landing within the hour. She'd thought of going out to the base and waiting with the families of the other returning soldiers for their arrival, but she'd decided against it. What would happen today would be "theirs," and she didn't want it to take place in a crowded, noisy airplane hangar. No, she'd stick to their planned meeting at the Mall; on their bench at the coffee cart next to the Reflecting Pool.

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She arrived about twenty minutes earlier than their agreed upon meeting time. It was a beautiful late spring afternoon. The weather was perfect; not too hot, not too humid. She ordered a cup of coffee and took a seat on the bench. She looked out at the scene before her. The National Mall was teeming with tourists making their way to the monuments.

Impatience was getting the best of her and she'd begun to regret arriving early. She'd glanced down at her watch one more time when she felt it. It was an energy that was unmistakably Booth. She knew without looking up that he'd arrived.

She stood as she saw him walking toward her, hoping that her knees wouldn't give out. She'd never understood the colloquialism 'a sight for sore eyes' before that moment. She couldn't stop the smile that spread across her face as their eyes met. She stood still as he slowly approached her, never breaking eye contact. When he reached the bench, he dropped his green Army issued duffel on to the ground at their feet.

They both stood, silently staring into each other's eyes and smiling. It was a defining moment and they both knew it. They were each afraid to break the moment, but it was she who spoke first.

"You came directly from the plane?" she asked, looking down at the bag by their feet.

"Couldn't wait a minute longer to see you, Bones," he said honestly.

"I'm glad," she said, reaching out to take his hand.

"God, I missed you," he said softly, his eyes still on hers.

"I missed you too," she answered, her words coming out in a breathy burst.

"Eat up, Bones," he said, breaking her reverie as he set a plate down in front of her. "Gotta keep your energy up." He winked at her, grinning as he turned back to the stove to dish his own omelet out onto a plate.

"Best omelet ever, huh?" she asked as she brought a forkful to her mouth.

He watched as she slid the fork into her mouth. She closed her eyes and savored the fluffy concoction.

"Oh my god, Booth," she said, setting the fork down. "You're right. This is amazing. I didn't realize you could cook."

"I'm full of surprises," he said with a smile.

"So I'm finding out," she answered, taking another bite.

"I have a feeling I'm not the only one."

She answered with a smile of her own. "When do you see Parker?"

"He comes home from science camp tomorrow. Science camp, Bones? You are turning my kid into a squint."

"Is that really such a bad thing?"

"Not at all," he answered. "Not at all."

"My father said he was showing amazing aptitude for physics, and he has an intense interest in entomology, as well."

"He's eleven, Bones. He likes bugs."

He watched her tuck into her meal like she hadn't eaten in days. He thought back to the meal they'd shared the previous afternoon.

They'd stood staring at each other by the Reflecting Pool for what seemed like a ridiculously long time. They both had so much to say, but seemed to have trouble getting to the conversation.

"Do you want to go to the diner?" she asked.

"Are you kidding?" He was almost giddy. "Bones, I haven't had decent food, let alone pie, in over a year. That's a great idea."

She led him to where she'd parked and they loaded his bag into her trunk. He looked at her expectantly.

"Do you want to drive?"

"You're the best, Bones," he said, taking the keys and leaning in to kiss her cheek.

They both stopped short, taken aback by the electricity in that innocent gesture. He was startled into the seriousness of what was about to happen. They were both a little nervous, but that was to be expected he guessed. They had kept in touch through letters, a few emails and even a couple of phone calls over the holidays when she'd left the dig for a week. They were working hard at being "normal," though neither of them knew what normal was anymore.

He knew that his feelings hadn't changed, if anything they'd grown stronger. He knew it was true what they said about absence making the heart grow fonder. He could only hope that she felt the same way. He thought if they could just get through this lunch then maybe they could go somewhere private and really talk.

"Do you want to go to your apartment?" she asked, her voice bringing him back to the present. She knew that he'd sublet the place for most of his absence. He'd told her in one of his letters that the tenant was moving out in February and that Jared and Padme were going clean it up and get it ready for him to move back in.

"Probably not a bad idea," he said around a mouthful of eggs. "Jared said he'd take care of things for me, but he's not always been the most reliable. But then again, he does have a wife now. It's amazing how the love of a good woman can keep a guy on the straight and narrow."

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After brunch, they headed over to Booth's apartment. To his surprise, he walked in and it felt as if he'd never left. Jared and Padme had done a great job of putting the place back together. It was clean and aired out, they'd even stocked the pantry and the 'fridge.

"Holy shit," he said, walking from the kitchen into the living room.

Hanging in pride of place across from his couch was a gorgeous flat screen tv with a big red bow on it.

"Welcome home, Booth," she said, smiling at his reaction.

"Did you do this?" he asked, looking much like Parker on Christmas morning.

"I wanted to do something special for you," she said softly. "I needed a gesture that would convey what I was feeling."

"A 50-inch plasma is one hell of a social contract," he said, taking her into his arms.

"Do you like it?" she asked, sounding slightly insecure.

"Are you kidding? It's perfect and you are incredible. Come here," he said, leaning down to brush his lips against hers. Without breaking the kiss, he led her over to the sofa.

She stood at the island counter pouring the wine and watching him flip mindlessly through one of her anthropology journals. It was a scene they'd played hundreds of times before, but neither could pretend this time wasn't different.

They'd spent a lovely afternoon, and they seemed to be on the same wavelength, but she knew she would have to be the one to initiate the conversation they had to have. He'd left the ball in her field more than a year ago outside the Hoover building. He'd say he gambled and lost, but she knew that sometimes the payoff comes a little more slowly. Ironically, it was Booth who had taught her about patience.

She knew now that this was what she wanted, he was what she needed. She could only hope and pray to his god that she wasn't too late.

She walked over to the sofa and handed him a glass of wine before sitting down next to him.

"I've really enjoyed spending the day with you," she said. "It's almost like nothing's changed…"

"Bones," he began to interrupt, but she stopped him by shaking her head and continuing.

"…but in reality, everything has changed. Booth," she said, sitting down her wine glass and taking his hand in hers. Fearlessly, she looked him in the eye. She knew this was the right thing to do-the only thing to do. "I had a lot of time to think while I was in Maluku. And no matter what it was that I started to think about, I found that my thoughts invariably turned to you. Booth, Seeley… fourteen months ago you asked me to give us a chance. I told you I couldn't… I thought I was protecting you…"

He held his breath as she went on. She didn't appear to be taking time to breathe, either, as she continued to talk. It was as if she was afraid that if she stopped she'd never say everything she had to say, and she knew it had to be said.

"…and while a part of me still feels as though you need protecting from me, the bigger part of me knows that I can't live without you. Now, I know that may sound selfish… and maybe it is, but I think that it's time I am totally honest with myself…"

She paused, taking in a deep breath and looking into his eyes.

"…if you still want me, I think we should give this thing between us a chance. You were right about us needing to move on… we do need to move forward, but I think we need to do so together."

He wasn't sure if there were tears streaming down his face, but he didn't care. The woman he loved more than life was standing before him telling him that she loved him, too. He was pretty sure life didn't get any better than this.

"Bones," he said. "Temperance, of course I still want you. I love you. And I'll want you until the day that I die. You, Bones… you're all that I want and everything I need. That's something that I've wanted to clear up since that night. You said you couldn't change, but you didn't seem to understand that I didn't want you to. I want you just the way you are."

They'd spent the next several hours talking about their experiences in Indonesia and in Afghanistan, respectively. They sat on the sofa, catching up… talking, sharing and making out like teenagers.

The wine was gone and the moon was high in the night sky when she stood and held her hand out to him. He took it and silently followed her into her bedroom. This might not be the right time, but she'd waited a year for this moment. Hell, she'd waited seven years for this moment. She wanted to show Seeley Booth that she loved him… the best way she knew how.

She remembered a long ago conversation in the diner when Booth had been trying to get her to understand the emotional connection made through the sex act. She was sure she knew now what he meant. She was cognizant of the theory, but she wanted to experience it for herself.

"Make love with me, Booth."

AN2: I hope it didn't seem too OOC… but if you'll indulge me, I think you'll find there's method to my madness. I'd love to know what you thought!