The Clandestine Affair

Summary: Booth and Brennan work together again since the first time they became reluctant partners and made out in front of a bar. Now, with the 2 of them brimming with sexual tension for one another, both realize that they might just have something good going on. They embark on a clandestine love affair, secret to the rest of the world. An AU start to the series. BB, of course.

A/N: Brennan is different here than she is in the series. I won't be changing her completely, giving her personality too many changes until she's not Brennan anymore. In fact, I think I'm gonna be channeling season 1 Brennan in terms of how kick ass she was (remember her eco warrior look? Because she was fearless and kick ass in season 1). She's less clueless about the world, however, and this if for exactly 4 reasons:

- Rosalie Sinéad Brennan, or most commonly called 'Rose', Brennan's first born child. 13 years old at the start of this fanfic. Brennan had her and Noah with her rich foster brother, Wes, when she was only 15 years old. Brennan's foster parents were mortified and wanted her to abort the child but she wouldn't. After she and Wes actually ran away together to protect their babies, Wes' family decide that the best option would be to marry. Brennan didn't want this but she saw no other option - she was 15, homeless, pregnant and in the foster system. She agreed to marry Wes, but said that she felt that they should have a long engagement until both were out of high school. Wes' parents accepted that and no one was aware that Brennan had no inclination to marry Wes. When Brennan was 18 and graduated from high school, she took Rosalie and Noah and ran, leaving behind the engagement ring and a letter of explanation. She left a number Wes could call if he wanted. Wes' parents wanted to sue her for custody but Wes disagreed. He loved Brennan and knew that she would work her hardest to be the best mother she could to the twins. He offered Brennan a free lease to ask for financial support from the family if she wanted. Wes went to Harvard and Brennan went to Northwestern, effectively breaking up. Rosalie plans to be an anthropologist, just like her mother whom she idolizes, and is nicknamed 'Mini' by Booth because of the way she was exactly like a younger version of Brennan. She loves school and takes on several different extracurricular activities to add to her transcript for college - e.g., she writes for the school paper, even becoming the student editor by the time she was a junior, a part of the student council, a member of the girls basketball team, etc. - and went on to Yale to study anthropology.

- Wyatt Ephraim Brennan, Rose's twin brother. Also 13 at the start of this fanfic. Same initial family background as Rose. Wyatt is a genius who has photographic memory and the ability to piece together evidence quickly - he was really into puzzles when he was younger. He had previously wanted to be a forensic artist, like Angela, because of his talent in art but when he met Booth and observed the way law enforcement and forensics can work together, he changed career course and wishes to be an FBI agent specializing in homicide. He went on to Yale to study law enforcement and forensic science.

- Alexander Nikolas Ares-Brennan, or most commonly called 'Zan'. 4 at the start of this fanfic. Brennan had him when she was 24 years old, at a dig she went to in Greece. There she met fellow Greek guide, Christian Ares. Christian was so enamored by Brennan that he came to the States with her. They dated each other for two more years after that before breaking up. Christian stayed in DC because he wanted to be a part of his kids' lives. Zan's the most action-addicted of the four Brennan kids, always clamoring to play this game or that. He has a sort of addiction to video games, however, and Brennan often has to forcibly take them away from him to get him to stop playing.

- Demetrius Gabriel Ares-Brennan, or most commonly referred to as either 'Tri' or 'Demetri'. He's 3 at the start of this fanfic. He's Brennan's and Christian's second and last child, born only a year after his brother. Tri is very interested in animals, and is always begging Brennan to get more pets - he already has a pet chameleon and a pet hamster. He wants three dogs, two cats and a rabbit for Christmas.

Appearances:

Rosalie - she is incredibly beautiful, with dark golden caramel hair which has natural loose barrel curls, dark cobalt blue eyes, porcelain skin and perfect angular features. She's quite tall, reaching 5'9 by the time she's 17, and is in good shape thanks to being quite athletic (basketball, yoga and martial arts).

Wyatt - a handsome boy who takes after both his parents, Wyatt has Brennan's dark auburn hair, dark emerald eyes and chiseled features even at a young age. He's, like his sister, tall, reaching 6'3 by the time he's 17 and is very athletic, playing on his school's basketball and baseball teams. He's also a black belt in Tae Kwon Do and karate, having taken lessons with Rosalie since he was six.

Zan - a beautiful little boy with messy inky black hair and light brown eyes, both of which he'd inherited from his father. He bears not much physical resemblance to Brennan, except for the shape of her lips and nose, and her crooked smile.

Demetri - like his brother, Tri has an exotic look about him thanks to their Greek father. He has dark hair, the same as Zan's, and chocolate brown eyes but the rest of him was Brennan - the same strong jaw, the same curve of the lips, the same nose, the same everything. He has tanner skin, like Zan, than Brennan however.

P.S. I'm sorry about giving Brennan so many kids, especially since she's only 28 at the start of season 1 and at the start of this story. I don't know what it is about maternal Brennan that I just like so much. Besides, I think that if Brennan had kids and have experienced unconditional love like most parents do towards their children, then she would be more open to being in a relationship with Booth, especially right from the start.

Well, without any delay, here's 'The Clandestine Affair':


September, 2005

Dr. Temperance Brennan was beyond fuming as she sat in the passenger's seat of Special Agent Seeley Booth's FBI standard issued SUV. Not only had he wasted an hour of her morning, he had also delayed her reunion with her children.

It was a Saturday morning, which meant that Rosalie and Wyatt had karate class, but Zan and Tri were at home, waiting for her to return. It was one of Christian's weekends with them but she had switched it due to her return to DC. Besides, Christian had kept Zan and Tri with him for most of the six weeks she'd been gone. He could afford to miss them this weekend.

But now, Booth had completely come and ruined her plans. Who the hell did he think he was, pulling a stunt like this? Did he think she had no life to get to? That he could just barge in and take control of everything and she'd be just fine with that?

"That's the best you can do?" she demanded, turning her head to look at him.

She almost snorted in disbelief when he gave her an innocent side glance. "What?" he asked in an innocuous tone she didn't buy.

"Getting Homeland Security to snatch me so you can stage a fake rescue," she clarified, still glaring angrily at him.

He shrugged and gave her a small, playful grin. That one tiny smile made her heart pound faster, irritatingly enough. "Well at least I picked you up at the airport, huh?" he tried to joke. When he noticed that wasn't buying it, he sighed. "Alright, c'mon. I mean, I went through the appropriate channels but your assistant there…He stonewalled me."

She was indignant that he had the gall to act like this was her fault somehow, like he was completely justified in his actions earlier. Now I remember with perfect clarity why I couldn't stand him, she snarked mentally. "Yeah, well, after the last case I told Zack never ever to put you through," she said angrily. "He's a good assistant."

An awkward pause filled between them as they remembered the first ever case they'd worked on - not just the details of the case (at least not for Booth) and how they'd both clashed horribly when it came to forensics versus police work, but the kiss they had shared outside the bar.

Hot, demanding, passionate…OhGodIwantmore…

A shiver went down Booth's spine and judging from how stiffly Brennan was sitting, he figured she was remembering, too.

He opened his mouth to say something - he wasn't sure what and he was pretty sure whatever came out of his mouth next wasn't going to be romantic or sexy or anything but plain awkward - but he had to say something nonetheless, when Brennan beat him to it.

"You can let me out anywhere along here," she nodded towards the scenery outside her window.

Suddenly he was thrust back into reality, back into the present, and the reason why he had been desperate enough to seek out the one woman who could drive him crazy with a simple look - and not just in a wantyousobadly way, either - even after the disaster of their last case together came back at him full force.

"Alright listen," he tried to say in a calm tone. "A decomposed corpse was found this morning at Arlington National Cemetery."

Brennan cut him off before he could say anything else. "Arlington National Cemetery is full of decomposed corpses. It's…A cemetery," she deadpanned.

He nodded. "Yeah, but this one is your type of corpse," he interjected. "It wasn't in a casket."

Brennan almost reached over and take control of the wheel herself. "If you drive one more block, I'm screaming 'kidnap' out the window," she threatened instead.

Booth threw her an irritated glare. "You know what? I'm trying to mend bridges here," he said, a last ditch attempt at getting her to just go along with him.

"Alright, pull over," she demanded, not interested in anything but getting the hell away from Booth and getting home to her boys.

Annoyed but having no choice but to do as she asked, Booth pulled over to the curb, the tires of his SUV squealing in protest at the sudden move. Brennan was out of the vehicle, bags in hand, before he'd even unfastened his seatbelt. He hurried to do the same, following behind her and forcing himself not to notice the way her hips swayed even as she stalked quickly away from him.

"I'm going home," Brennan threw over her shoulder.

"Great," Booth muttered to himself. "Could we…?" he started to say to the incensed anthropologist - who apparently held grudges for a very long time - but she'd already walked off.

Booth hurried after her once again. "Look, could we just skip this part?" he asked, a little desperate to move this along. After all, if he couldn't get the one person who could help him solve this case…Well, his ass was on the line. He sure as hell wasn't looking forward to the conversation with his superior to tell him that he was unable to solve a case because he'd been a jackass to an infuriatingly beautiful woman.

"I find you condescending," Brennan told him.

Then again, if Cullen would just meet her, he'd understand, he thought wryly. "Me? I'm condescending?" he repeated incredulously. "I'm not the one who's gotta mention that she's got a doctorate every five-"

Brennan interjected once more. "I am the one with the doctorate," she reminded him none too gently.

Booth was reaching the end of his tether - and fast. "Yeah, well, you know what?" he demanded impatiently. "I'm the one with the badge and the gun. Huh? You know you're not the only forensic anthropologist in town."

Even as the words left his mouth, Booth knew how ridiculous they sounded. Before their first case, before he'd met her, he had absolutely no idea that 'forensic anthropologists' even existed, let alone what they did.

Evidently, Brennan realized the same thing because she laughed. "Yes, I am. The next university is in Montreal. Parlez-vous Français?" she teased.

He stopped walking, defeated, when he realized that the ball was in her court instead of how he'd planned for it to go ever since he'd called in on that favor with Homeland Security this morning. "What's it going to take?" he asked, wary of her answer.

Brennan stopped her fast-paced walk and turned to face him. "Full participation in the case," she demanded, looking him straight in the eye.

"Done," he agreed immediately. He'd work out the finer details later, get out of the tight hold she was sure to have on 'full participation'. Right now, all he needed was her to agree to look at the freakin' cadaver in the first place.

She slowly made her way towards him, not recoiling from his large frame or flinching as she looked him square in the eyes. Fearless, he was reminded. "Not just lab work…Everything," she reiterated, confirming what he'd already suspected.

He gave her a look. "What do you want me to do? Spit in my hand? We're Scully and Mulder," he jibed.

She stared at him blankly. "I don't know what that means," she told him.

He rolled his eyes heavenward. "It's an olive branch," he elaborated, wondering what it was about her that really got underneath his skin. "Just…Get back in the car," he jerked his thumb over his shoulder towards the direction of his SUV.

Brennan sighed as she hoisted her bags over her shoulder, glaring at Booth when he tried to help her as though she was a damsel in distress needing him to 'save her' or some other ridiculous notion. She made a note to call Christian when Booth was occupied and nowhere near her to catch her conversation with him. There was no reason for him to miss out on his weekend with his sons when she had to work anyway. And a call for the kids, she reminded herself. Just to say hello and 'I'm sorry'.

BBBBBBB

A HBP-inducing phone call to Christian and a tearful phone call to Zan and Tri filled with 'I'm sorry's and 'We'll play tomorrow's and 'We'll get ice-cream and go to the park and buy that new video game you wanted and eat lots of hotdog's later, Brennan was able to get to work.

Unlike Rosalie and Wyatt, Zan and Demetri were nowhere near old enough to be left alone. Their nanny, Sylvia, lived a few blocks away and was always available to watch them but Brennan didn't like that her kids depended on a nanny instead of their parents.

Rose and Wyatt had been much more understanding of Brennan's dilemma, being the older kids who were both interested in her general field of work. Rose mentioned something about catching up on homework and Wyatt said something about taking out a girl from class named 'Abby'.

Her work had taken over her, just like it tended to do sometimes, and Brennan had fallen asleep at her desk while working on the skull of the victim. She wasn't extra cautious about leaving work on time considering Zan and Tri were with their father for the weekend and wouldn't be back until Sunday night.

Now it was morning and, tired and sore from working all night, Brennan was headed home to get some much-deserved sleep for a few hours.

"Mom!" Rosalie was the first to greet her as she entered the three bedroom apartment they'd lived in since the twins were eight. "You're home," Rosalie came forward and, with a smile that showed just how painfully beautiful she was, gave Brennan a tight hug before Brennan had even closed the door.

Brennan laughed at her daughter's enthusiasm, hugging her back just as tightly, kicking the door closed behind her. "Where's your brother?" she questioned, not bothering with her bags by the door as she led Rosalie further into the apartment, arm around Rose's neck.

Rosalie rolled her eyes, the very image of an ice queen, "He's in his room, talking to Abby on the phone. I swear, he's such a girl."

Brennan chuckled warmly. "What're you up to today?" she asked curiously. She generally forbade Rosalie and Wyatt to have any extracurricular activities on Sunday, citing that they needed one day to catch up on rest since they both seemed so insistent on doing as much as possible the other six days of the week. She was proud of them for being very productive children but everyone needed their rest. She didn't want them to be overstressed, especially at such a young age.

Rose shrugged. "I've finished most of my homework," she assured her mother. "Just a Shakespearean project for English class that I'm working on with my assigned partner." Brennan winced at the word, wondering when it had become a thorn in her side. "But that's not due for another two weeks and Shawn and I have it mostly done."

Brennan gave Rosalie a wolfish smile, raising her eyebrow in question. "Shawn, huh?" she teased, taking note of the slight blush coloring her daughter's cheeks. "The same Shawn you wouldn't stop gushing about for weeks a few months ago?"

Rosalie scowled slightly. "Whatever, mom," she muttered, not truly resentful. If anything, she was glad that there was so little age difference between her and her mother. It made for easier communication.

Brennan laughed. "Okay, listen, I'm going to catch up on a few hours of sleep," she told Rose. "Try and be quiet, okay?"

Rosalie rolled her eyes once more. "I'm not a little kid anymore, mom," she said, shooting Brennan a look. "You don't have to remind me to not break things and use my inside voice."

Brennan stopped at the living room, noting that the small TV Pete had left behind was untouched. Her big kids weren't fans of TV, just Wyatt on occasion when he wanted to watch contestants on that singing show make fools of themselves. It was mostly Zan and Tri who watched cartoons on that idiot box.

Brennan grabbed Rosalie by the head, one hand on each side of Rose's head, and pressed a loving kiss to her forehead. She smiled at the girly scent of vanilla, roses and jasmine - Rose was addicted to nice-smelling hygiene products, like soaps and lotions. She normally took some allowance money to spend it at places like Crabtree & Evelyn, and Bath & Body Works.

"Alright. See you later, baby. Love you," she murmured against Rose's silky hair.

"Love you, too, mom."

Brennan made a quick stop at Wyatt's room to give him a hello hug and kiss - he was distracted enough by this Abby girl that he didn't protest about how he was thirteen now and too old to be cuddling his mommy - before making her way to her room. She wasn't too tired to change into something more comfortable, which was good since she'd spent almost two days in the same outfit.

She was startled awake a little while later by a noise outside her room. It had sounded like a dull thud, which was strange. She climbed out of bed, sparing a glance at her alarm clock. She was annoyed to learn that she'd only had two hours of sleep. If it's one of the twins…I thought I told them to be quiet, she groused silently.

Her senses were on alert when she realized that the house was strangely silent and dark, despite the noise she'd heard earlier. She grabbed a baseball bat Wyatt had left leaning against the hallway wall, silently tip-toeing through the apartment to catch whomever it was. She was startled to see the distinct outline of a full grown male in her home. The curtains had been drawn, something Rose must've done, so the apartment was dark despite the time and she couldn't make out the face of her intruder.

She could, however, see that the intruder was carrying her TV.

A robber? She shook her head, mystified. Of all the days to get robbed…

Brennan waited until the intruder was right in front of her, bat poised over her shoulder, before swinging it hard, shattering the glass of the TV.

The intruder dropped the TV, groaning in pain and falling backwards through the beaded curtains Angela had added to the apartment to give it a more 'Bohemian chic look', whatever that meant. Brennan stepped over the intruder to look at his face, the bat poised for another swing, when she stopped short.

"Peter?" she asked, aghast.

Her ex boyfriend looked up at her, smiling through his pain, and gave a short laugh. "Hey, Tempe," he greeted lamely.

She rolled her eyes, helping him to his feet. "It's not rational for you to choose the first day I'm back to reclaim your television," she told him as soon as they were seated on her couch.

Peter simply gave her a contemplative look, "While you were away, I thought a lot about why we broke up."

"We fought all the time and don't like each other anymore," was the real reason.

What Peter came up with - ugh, psychologists - was, "We fought because you were emotionally distant and cold…But sexually speaking…I think you will agree."

Brennan stared at him in disbelief, a small snort of laughter escaping her lips. "You didn't come for your TV. You timed this for a booty call!" She shook her head in disgust, "What if one of my kids were home?"

Peter shrugged. "Don't your little ones spend weekends with their dad? And the big ones are old enough to understand sex," was his reply.

Brennan didn't reply. It irked her a little that Peter knew of her children's schedule, even a little. That'll teach me to have a boyfriend move in, she thought ruefully. She stood up and grabbed Peter by his arm, hauling him off the couch. "Okay, you're leaving," she stated firmly.

Peter, unrelenting, continued jabbering even as she dragged him towards the front door. "Your intimacy issues are probably due to being orphaned so young, but it's okay, Temperance," he soothed as though she was the one who needed help. "We'll work this out. You've already successfully, albeit unorthodoxly, raised four kids…Clearly, love isn't completely out of the picture for you."

Brennan rolled her eyes. "Ugh. I hate psychology when you're just horny," she said, annoyed.

Peter gave her a serious look. "Brennan, do you want to spend the rest of your line alone?"

Brennan glared at him angrily. "Okay, I don't know about the rest of my life but I sure as hell wish I was alone right now!" she said through gritted teeth, throwing open the front door. "And, for the record, I won't be alone. I have my-"

She was surprised to see Booth a few feet away from her door, approaching with a look of surprise on his face. She stopped speaking immediately - there was no reason for Booth to know about her personal life.

Peter already out in the hallway, turned around to face her. "So, what? We split the cost of the TV?" he questioned stupidly.

Brennan rolled her eyes again - that's what you get for having a thirteen year old daughter whose main response to most things is a roll of the eye - "Ugh! Goodbye!"

Peter didn't seem like he was letting go of his inane idea of a booty call anytime soon but Booth had reached the door and even in her highly irritated state, Brennan could admit that there was absolutely no competition between Booth and Peter - the former won hands down.

"What's going on here?" Booth asked, looking between Brennan and Peter.

Irrationally enough, Brennan felt the need to clarify, "Peter broke into my house."

Booth's eyebrows shot up to his hairline, clearly not expecting this answer at all. He'd expected 'one night stand' or 'boyfriend', both of which made his stomach churn strangely enough, but a burglar wasn't on the list. "What!" he thundered, turning dark, stormy eyes to the nervous man cowering under the glare of the alpha male.

Brennan found this oddly humorous. Deciding that she wasn't in the mood to watch Booth being a Neanderthal, she added, "For a booty call." At the FBI agent's confused expression, she explained, "Peter's my ex."

She turned to glare at the man in question. "Would you get lost already? And give me back my key, Peter. It's creepy that you're using it to get into my apartment," she commanded.

When he held it out, she snatched it out of his fingers. "Well, I'll just leave, Tempe…Shame we couldn't just get together one last time. I think the fire of our relationship-"

"You do remember that I have three black belts, right?" Brennan interrupted, cocking an eyebrow in his direction.

Peter squeaked out a 'bye' before darting away.

Booth gave her an amused look. "Nice catch, Bones," he couldn't help but tease.

And even though she did, she said, "I don't know what that means," just to annoy him. Booth scowled at her, which she ignored. "What are you even doing here?" She raised an eyebrow. "Don't tell me you're here for a booty call, too?"

She had the satisfaction of watching him sputter awkwardly, choking on air. "What! What! No…Geez, Bones…No, okay?" Booth took a few deep, calming breaths before starting again in an attempt not to sound like the fool this woman could make him out to be sometimes. "We're needed at the lab," he replied. "Could you get dressed?"

She sighed, not really liking that she couldn't catch a few more hours of shut-eye, but knowing that work came first. She nodded. "Sure. Wait for me downstairs," she instructed.

Booth raised an eyebrow. "Not gonna invite me in, Bones?" he asked, trying to sneak a peek over her shoulder.

Brennan pulled the door until barely a sliver of gap was left between the door and the frame. "No."

He raised an eyebrow at her curt tone. "Why not?"

She sighed at his persistence. "I need a reason to not invite someone I don't like into my own apartment?" she snarked.

"Ouch," he winced.

She shrugged, but noticing the slightly hurt look in his eyes, sighed and relented. "Look, I'm sorry. I just didn't get a lot of sleep…I won't be long. I'll be down in a few minutes, I promise," she urged.

He nodded, not pushing the matter. "Fine. I'll be out front."

Brennan waited until Booth was in the elevator before she pushed her door open and slipped inside, locking it behind her. She sighed and took a look around the place. It wasn't that she had some sort of complicated reason for not wanting Booth to come inside her apartment to wait for her. It was just that…She didn't think she wanted him to know about her personal life.

No matter how recognized she'd gotten, she tried to keep Rose, Wyatt, Zan and Tri as low-key as possible. They deserved the safety and discretion. It wasn't that she didn't trust Booth, it was that she didn't trust Booth enough to let him in that deep.

If he had entered her home, he would've known immediately. Her apartment was littered with evidence of her kids. Her walls were decorated with framed pictures, as were her bookshelves. Zan and Tri had left quite a few of their toys out in the open in the living room, and the toys that had been kept away or hadn't been taken out in the first place were placed in three wicker boxes with no lids, right next to the TV-less entertainment unit. There was an entire locked case filled with trophies and awards the kids had gotten over the years, with room to spare for future ones. She'd framed Christopher's old little league jersey and placed it on the wall for sentimental reasons. Pictures that Zan and Tri had drawn were stuck on her fridge door and on the cork board she'd placed in the hallway wall leading to the living room.

These and a million other things would've alerted Seeley Booth to the fact that Brennan had kids and she wasn't sure if she wanted that or if she was ready for it.

She quickly cleaned up the glass from the broken TV and moved it out of the way to prevent anyone from accidentally hurting themselves before hurrying to take a very short fifteen-seconds shower and change into work-appropriate clothes.

Booth was, as he'd said, waiting for her out front in his SUV. He drove them to the Jeffersonian in silence and she was surprised to find that it wasn't an awkward sort of silence at all.

Angela gave them a lopsided, leery grin when they entered together but Brennan didn't give her a chance to tease, getting straight to work.

"Brennan reassembled the skull and applied tissue markers," Angela was saying, typing into the computer connected to the Angelator as she spoke.

Brennan filled in what Angela didn't, "Her skull was badly damaged but racial indicators, cheekbone dimensions, nasal arch and occipital measurements suggests African-American."

Now that's something I can use, Booth thought excitedly. We're getting somewhere.

Angela pressed 'enter' on her computer, finalizing the details she'd added in, "And we have our victim."

A hologram of a woman's upper body appeared on the raised platform of the Angelator. The skin was translucent, showing the skeleton underneath.

Booth blinked. "Whoa," he muttered, stepping closer to the hologram. We don't have stuff like this in our tech lab, he mused to himself. He raised his right hand and placed it directly in front of the holographic figure, moving his fingers through the specter. "I have to admit that's pretty cool."

Brennan grabbed his hand and pushed it away from the hologram. "Ange, rerun the program substituting Caucasian values," she instructed, and all Booth could think was 'did she realize she was still holding my hand behind this table thing?'

Angela nodded, entering the new data into the system, and the image begun to chance into a Caucasian girl.

Brennan, who was obviously faster than the others, asked, "Does she look familiar to anyone?"

"No," Booth replied, eyebrows drawn together as he stared at the face.

Brennan turned to Angela. "Split the difference - mixed race."

"Lenny Kravitz or Vanessa Williams?" Angela asked, not really expecting an answer out of Brennan.

Brennan stared at her in confusion - neither of those names seemed even remotely familiar to her. "I don't know what that means," she admitted.

Angela didn't acknowledge her much-used phrase. She typed in new data once more, and the others watched as the holographic face subtly changed into one of a mixed race girl.

"Angela, reduce tissue depth over the cheekbones to the jaw line," she instructed, her eyes squinting at the image floating a few feet away from her. Angela did as she was asked. "Does anyone recognize her?" Brennan asked once more, satisfied that the image was now as close to the truth as possible.

"Not me," Zack replied immediately.

Angela, however, took a second look. "Wait…Is that who I think it is?"

Zack, who had been staring at the face of the deceased for some time, suddenly remembered. "The girl who had the affair with the Senator," he filled in, looking towards his mentor for approval.

Brennan, however, wasn't paying any attention to Zack. Her gaze was riveted on Booth, who was staring at the hologram with an intense, sorrow look in his eyes, his face drawn.

"Her name is Cleo Louise Eller," Booth said quietly. "The only daughter to Ted and Sharon Eller. Last seen approximately nine p.m., April 6th, 2003, leaving the cardio-deluxe gym on Kay Street."

If Brennan was shocked at how well his memory was, she didn't mention it. She knew what it was like to pore over facts for so long that they were ingrained into your memory. Booth…If anything, she could concede that he shared her same burning desire for the truth, for justice. She knew that if he had worked Cleo Eller's case, as it seemed like he did, he would've been working himself to metaphorical death searching for clues of her.

"She didn't even make it to her car," Booth was saying.

Brennan couldn't resist saying softly, "Pretty good memory."

He dropped his head slightly, and his head tilted to the side like he wanted to look at her but decided against it last minute. "Yeah, well, it's my job to find her," he replied tiredly, confirming her earlier suspicions on the reason he remembered so well.

"Well, in that case, congratulations on your success," Hodgins said tactlessly.

Booth glared in his direction. "This isn't exactly the way I wanted it to end," he admitted.

It was lunch time before the file Booth requested on the Cleo Eller case was brought to him. He and Brennan made their way towards the rest of the squints sitting on the steps leading up to the Jeffersonian, eating their lunches.

"Cleo Eller is not just some missing girl," Booth said, trying to subtly get his point across.

Hodgins seemed to get it first and said it aloud in his tactless manner. "Yeah, she's the senate intern who was boinking Senator Alan Bethlehem."

Booth chose to ignore Hodgins, as he should every squint except Angela who was probably the most normal human in the entire building and, on occasion, Brennan. "I was secondary in the investigation to the disappearance of that girl and we couldn't confirm that," he said quickly, trying to get Hodgins to quit that line of thought. Who knew how discreet squints could be?

Booth opened the folder in his hand and looked down sadly at the pictures of Cleo in it. "How did you recognize her before she even had her own face?" he asked her, curious. It had just seemed impossible.

Brennan shrugged, as though what she'd done was something everyone should've been able to do. "I recognized the underlying architecture of her features," she explained. "The rest is just window dressing."

Zack, who had been observing Booth's seemingly permanent frown, asked of no one in particular, "I'm not an expert but shouldn't he be happier?"

Booth answered for himself. "Oh, no, believe me. I'm happy."

"You seem happy to me," Angela teased.

Booth turned around to walk down the steps, Brennan following him closely. "I need this kept quiet," he threw over his shoulder at the other three.

"Ha!" Hodgins' paranoia crept in. "Cover up."

Booth rolled his eyes. "Paranoid conspiracy theory," he muttered.

Hodgins heard him and yelled after him, "Is it paranoia conspiracy that Monica Lewinski was KGB trained sex agent mole?"

Brennan mimicked Booth's quick steps across the yard. "So what do we do next?" she asked, eager for action she wouldn't get if she wasn't in the field with Booth. "Confront the Senator?"

Booth winced. "Listen, Bones…" he started.

"Don't call me Bones," she snapped immediately.

He ignored her. "I know we talked about you coming out in the field…"

He didn't need to even finish the sentence. Brennan had been around too many men with too many disappointing qualities about them to sniff out a let down a mile away. "Oh, you rat bastard," she cursed, glaring at him.

"A case this big…The director is going to create a special investigation unit and if I line all my ducks in a row, I can - maybe - I can head it up," he continued.

Persistent, Brennan pushed further. "I don't know what that means but I think maybe I can be a duck," she insisted, still rushing after him.

"You're not a duck, okay?" he told her, wondering why the hell these scientists types couldn't just get it. If they wanted action, they should be cops, not squints. "On this one, we stick to the book. Cops on the streets. Squints in the lab." The way it should be.

Of course, being Brennan, she didn't back down at all. "Well in that case, the Jeffersonian will be issuing a press release identifying the girl in the pond," she stated defiantly, knowing that this would be enough to make him think twice about tossing her aside on this case. She stopped walking, knowing he was rattled enough to do the same.

He proved her right a moment later when his steps halted and he turned around to face her, a displeased expression on his face. "You do that and I'm a dead duck," he stepped closer to her, probably trying to intimidate her, but she held her ground. He wasn't at all scary compared to everything else she'd seen in her life. "What are you trying to do?"

In her usual brutal honesty, she blinked at him innocently and said, "Blackmail you."

They stood toe to toe, just a few inches between them, in a staring contest. "Blackmail a federal agent?" he clarified.

Another innocent blink. "Yes."

"I don't like it."

"I'm fairly certain you're not supposed to."

Booth stared at Brennan, his eyebrows drawn together. Everything about her was so… Contradictory. She looked so…Beautifully innocent. And he knew she was naïve on a lot of things, knew it from personal experience. But then she turned around and, with those same expressive, childlike big blues, pull a stunt like this.

He considered his options - either convince his boss to let Brennan out on the field with him, which was sure to be a grueling meeting and anger his boss on so many levels, or deny Brennan and get himself fried before he even began.

Sighing, he admitted defeat. "Fine. You're in."

And Brennan just stood there in front of him, smiling slightly as though she'd known he'd give in all along.

BBBBBBB

Brennan sighed as she leaned over the edge of the railing, her eyes not really seeing anything as she thought about the conversation she'd shared with Booth after speaking to the Ellers. She was so caught up with her thoughts that she didn't realize it when Angela walked up behind her until her friend spoke.

"You wanna get a drink?" Brennan started at Angela's voice. "Non-topical application? Glug, glug, woohoo." Brennan didn't respond, and simply gave Angela an upset look. "C'mon sweetie," Angela coaxed.

Brennan and Angela strolled down the hallway slowly, making their way towards the lab. "What if Booth is right?" Brennan asked, after telling Angela of the incident at the Ellers and the conversation with Booth that had followed right after. "What if I'm only good with bones and lousy with people?"

"People like you," Angela insisted.

Brennan rolled her eyes. Oh, she knew 'people' liked her. Men, in particular, found her to be very good company, especially when they're horny. She could understand that. She was a beautiful woman. But that didn't mean that men - or anyone, really - liked her for anything other than her looks. "I don't care if men like me," she blurted out to Angela.

Angela raised an eyebrow. "Okay. Interesting leap from people to men but I'm sure it means nothing," she commented lightly.

Brennan fought the urge to groan. This was the second time in one day that someone had tried using psychology on her. "I hate psychology," she muttered. "My most meaningful relationships are with…Dead people." She had to laugh bitterly.

"Who said that?" Angela asked, a hint of anger making its way to her voice. Whoever said that clearly didn't know Brennan well enough to make a judgment like that.

Brennan didn't answer her question. "It's true," she went on. "I understand Cleo and her bones are all I have ever seen." They came across a bench and both made their way to sit on it, angling their body towards each other. "When she was seven she broke her wrist probably falling off a bike and two weeks later before the cast was even removed she got right back on that bike and broke it all over again. And when she was being murdered she fought back hard even though she was so depressed she could hardly get up in the morning. She didn't welcome death. Cleo wanted to live."

Brennan blinked back the tears that she didn't realize had started to prick at her eyes as she recounted Cleo's life to Angela. Damn it, I hate crying.

Angela gave Brennan a knowing look. "Honey, do you ever think that maybe you come off a little distant because you connect too much?" she suggested.

"I hate psychology," Brennan insisted yet again. "It's a soft science."

"I know," Angela reached over to take Brennan's hand. "But people are mostly soft."

Brennan gripped Angela's hand in her own, staring at their entwined fingers for a moment. "Except for their bones," she corrected.

Angela nodded. "Yeah," she agreed. "And, sweetie…You're forgetting the most meaningful relationship you've ever had." At Brennan's questioning look, she smiled and ploughed on ahead. "The one you have with your kids."

Brennan shook her head. "That doesn't count, Angela."

"Yeah, it does."

But Brennan wouldn't be Brennan if she wasn't stubborn. "They are my children, Ange. I carried them inside my womb, I gave birth to them…It's encoded into my DNA to protect them and love them. And since I am their caregiver, I suppose they feel the same way about me due to the dependency they have on me."

Angela sighed, rolling her eyes. "Not all parents love their kids, Bren," she reminded her gently. "I mean…God only knows why some parents could be so…Cruel, but not all parents love the way you love. The way you love them…It's intense. It's beautiful. You'd give your life for them. It's beautiful, Bren, and you shouldn't doubt that they feel the same way."

She ducked her head slightly to catch Brennan's eye, to make her point come across for sure. "It counts," she insisted. The two women stayed together in silence for a few moments longer before Angela spoke again. "You want some advice?"

Brennan quirked a little sad smile. "Glug, glug, woohoo," she repeated Angela's earlier words with a sigh.

"Offer up a little bit of yourself every once and awhile," Angela advised. "Just tell somebody something you're not completely certain you want them to know."

Brennan released Angela's hand and reeled backwards, straightening her posture. "Oh, God," she muttered. "That's the second time I have received that advice."

Angela grinned cheekily. "Well, you know I give great advice."

BBBBBBB

When the frustration at going nowhere with Cleo's case had waned, the irritation did, too, and guilt settled in instead. Angela's words and disapproving look sent his way after the way he'd spoken to Brennan were still ringing in his ears as he slammed the door to his SUV shut. The look that Brennan had given him, the hurt and disbelief swimming in her eyes, was still so vivid in his mind's eye.

Booth sighed, dropping his head back and closing his eyes as he rested against his seat's headrest. He breathed in and out calmly for a few seconds, waiting for the guilt to wane too. After all, if it hadn't been for Brennan, he would've still been working the Cleo Eller case, and he wouldn't be racing against time trying to solve it in one afternoon before another agent takes over, using nothing but useless 'fact's the squints had gotten from Angela's magic computer thingy.

When the guilt didn't disappear, or even lessen by a fraction, Booth's eyes snapped open. Cursing under his breath, he reached over and turned the key in the ignition, starting the car.

It took him almost an hour to track her down. And when he found her, he couldn't help but scoff a little. Of course she would be in a shooting range.

She was standing there, feet apart, and gun in her hands as she shot at a target, ear protectors and safety glasses on. He walked quietly behind her, not thinking that she'd heard him, but she surprised him yet again by turning around to face him once she was done with her round.

She removed her ear protectors and stared at him expectantly.

"Thought I would find you here," were the first words he said. "Y'know, you being a good shot and doing martial arts…It's all your way of dealing. I mean, who knows better than you how fragile life can be."

Brennan knew from his words that he knew of her background. Which was why she had no problem whatsoever saying, "Maybe an army Ranger sniper who became an FBI homicide investigator."

She turned around again, facing away from him.

Booth quirked a small smile. "Aw, you looked me up? Huh?" he asked, his tone slightly teasing. When she didn't reply, he stepped forward right next to her. "Do you mind?" he gestured at the gun.

"Be my guest," Brennan slid the gun over to him.

"Thank you."

Booth picked up the gun in his hand and stared at it for a moment. He lifted the gun and pulled on the trigger, deliberately missing the target.

Brennan laughed as she watched. "Were you any good at being a sniper?" she couldn't resist a jab.

"A sniper gets to know a little something about killers," he countered. "Senator Bethlehem…He's no killer."

Brennan turned to face him, challenging him. "Oh, and Oliver Lauriea is?" her tone was almost mocking.

Booth stepped closer to her, backing her up against the wall behind her, and didn't stop until their faces were just inches apart. They both had small, flirty little smiles on their faces - surprising proof that even after a year, there was still chemistry between the two of them; chemistry that was undeniable in his warm brown eyes and her sparkling blue ones.

"The way I read Lauriea," Booth started, speaking in a low whisper as he maintained eye contact with her. "He's unhinged. That makes him dangerous."

A flirty smile on her face transformed into a little smirk. "That would be your gut telling you that, correct?"

"You know, homicides…They are not solved by scientists. They're solved by guys like me asking a thousand questions a thousand times. Catching people telling lies every time," he raised his hand, placing it on the wall next to her head and caging her in between his body and the wall. "You're great at what you do, Bones, but you don't solve murders. Cops do."

She surprised him, like she always managed to do, by stepping even closer to him, pushing away from the wall. They were now barely an inch away from each other and when she spoke, her cinnamon scented breath fanned over his face. "Cleo Eller was killed on a cement floor sprinkled with diatomaceous earth. Traces of her blood will still be in that cement. One of us is wrong - maybe both of us. But if Bethlehem wasn't a Senator, you would be right there in his basement looking for that killing floor," she said in a low voice.

"You're afraid of him," she couldn't help but taunt. "Your hypothesis is that squints don't solve murders and cops do. Prove it."

Brennan smiled at him cockily. "Be a cop," she challenged.

And although her words had been an insult to him, and although she'd basically called him a coward, there was something in those eyes, in that smile, in her cocky dare even, that was undeniably…Attractive to him.

Before he knew what he was doing, Booth had placed the gun on the table so that he could use his hand to grip her by the waist. He pushed her back against the wall, his lips descending on hers. For one moment, one very painful moment, a part of his mind was still lingering somewhere in the vestiges of reality and he cringed at the thought of her shoving him away and drop kicking him like no other.

Brennan's body had frozen up the moment Booth's lips had pressed against hers. She fully considered pushing him away and maybe giving him a good punch to the face. But then the memory of their very first kiss a year ago came rushing towards her, the familiarity of his lips shocking her enough to part her lips slightly.

And then they were moving.

His arm unraveled from around her waist so that his large hand could travel up her arm and tangle in her silky locks. Her hands, pressed against his chest lightly for a moment, intended to push him away, but trailing up to lock around his neck instead. The feel of his lips - too damn soft for all this to be real - against hers - and damn it, she tasted like apples and honey and vanilla - made her moan into their kiss. Booth reacted immediately to the sound, his large body backing her up so that she was pressed between himself and the wall, their bodies lined together. His lips moved harder against hers, setting an almost bruising, frantic pace.

A year, Booth chuckled mirthlessly in his head even as he gasped out loud when her arms unwound from around his neck to hook underneath his arms, her hands exploring the wide expanse of his back as she kissed him back with equal, eager fervor. A whole year and yet…He was still burning for her.

He wasn't sure exactly how long they kissed, because he knew the moment their lips had touched and they had wrapped themselves in each other's embrace, his mind was lost and his heart had started pounding so loudly it was all he could hear. But then her lips were slowing down and she was pulling away gently. Booth wasn't ashamed to admit that his lips followed hers, catching only empty air.

His eyes fluttered open to find her beautiful blues staring right back at him, a questioning, slightly panicked look in them. They were quiet for the longest time, still wrapped in each other's arms, his body still pinning hers to the wall, her right leg still hooked around his waist (when the hell had that happened!), his hand still tangled in her hair…They didn't say a single word, just stared at each other, a sort of stunned disbelief in their eyes.

Finally, Brennan's tongue darted out quickly to take in the lingering taste of Booth on her lips, and one of her hands went up to her mouth to touch her still tingling lips.

"What…Booth…We kissed," she stammered, her lips swollen a delectable red from their unexpected make-out session.

Booth grinned at her, not at all regretful of what had transpired just moments ago. She glared at him, realizing that he wasn't as remorseful as she was. "Well, we shouldn't have," she insisted, clearing her throat and hoping that her voice didn't sound so shaky the next time she spoke. "It was completely unprofessional of us. We should forget the kiss a year ago, and we should forget the kiss just now-"

But Booth's gaze had dropped to her mouth, watching her lips move as she spoke, and not a single word she'd said had really registered in his brain. So, right at that moment, when the desire to taste her again had been too much for him to take, Booth bent his head and latched his lips to hers once more.

"Mmmpfh! Booth!" Brennan protested against his mouth, even as her lips responded to his without her conscious will to do so. The hand she'd intended to slap his chest with had, instead, been placed there gently, her fingers caressing him through his suit. Her other hand was resting at the back of his neck, her nails scraping gently through the short hairs at the base of his neck.

A shiver ran down Booth's spine, a growl escaping his lips and causing the leg hooked around his waist to tighten considerably. Both his hands gripped at her tiny waist, hoisting her up until both her legs were wrapped securely around his waist. One large, warm hand slid through her silky soft curls, fingers wrapped just a tad none-too-gently around locks of her hair and tilting her head back so that his lips, peppering kisses down her jaw, could make their way down her neck.

Brennan let out a low moan, a sound so needful that she didn't think she'd ever made it before even in the throes of passion, her hips undulating against his without her even realizing it. Her eyes rolled into the back of her head when Booth's talented mouth sucked at the pulse point at the base of her throat. Her hand at the back of his neck slipped upwards to grip at his short hair, tugging almost painfully before holding him there, urging him.

"Umm…No, wait, this is…Oh, f…" Brennan trailed off, feeling Booth's large hands slowly sliding down her back and making their way to her ass, squeezing the malleable flesh gently.

She allowed herself a few more moments in his arms before she forced herself to place her hands on his chest and push against him. "We have to stop," she whispered, swallowing back a moan.

Instead of complying with her, Booth's lips trailed back up her neck. He pressed a kiss to her chin before making a slow path down her jaw to her ear. "Don't wanna stop," he complained softly, his lips pressed to the hollow behind her ear. "You taste…So good," he groaned, his lips capturing hers once more.

"Mmm…" Brennan smiled into their kiss, her eyes sliding shut as he worked his talented mouth over hers. You taste good, too, she wanted to say. Instead, she sucked his lower lip into her mouth, moaning slightly, and gave it a gentle nibble as she slowly pulled away. "We need to stop," she said, giving him a regretful smile as she unhooked her legs from around his waist.

Booth didn't let go of his hold on her, even as her feet dropped to the ground, but he did press his forehead against her shoulder. They were both breathing heavily and he took the moment to close his eyes and breathe in deeply, trying to calm his racing heart. Of course, the fact that she was still pressed into his body, and that her sweet-and-spicy, strangely arousing scent was enveloping him did nothing to help.

Finally, when he was calm enough to unwrap his arms from around her, he did just that, returning the apologetic smile on her lips. One of his hands went back to the wall behind her. He lifted his free hand, cupping her ivory cheek and rubbing his thumb gently against her swollen bottom lip.

There were no words between them as they locked eyes, the flirty smiles they'd worn earlier flitting back across their handsome features. Finally, Brennan was the one who stepped away, knowing that if she allowed herself to get caught up again in his beautiful brown eyes, she wouldn't be able to restrain herself. The first time had been enough of a challenge.

She ducked out of his arms, walking backwards towards the door. "Call me when you're up for being a real cop," she threw at him, jumping right back to where their 'argument' had left off as though they hadn't just humped each other against the wall in a shooting range.

He watched her leave, a sexy little coy smirk playing on her lips that he was sure he mirrored just from the feel of it alone.

Once she was gone, Booth could feel just how tensed he had become, his shoulders almost painfully tight. He sighed, rolling his head back a few times to relax. When that didn't work, he decided to just walk away. Maybe some time at the FBI gym might be of some help.

At the last minute, he changed course - he grabbed the gun he'd left on the table right before kissing Brennan, swiveled towards the target and pulled the trigger, shooting at the target three times. He dropped his hand a little to see the result, noting with satisfaction that he'd managed to shoot the target three times in the head.

I've still got it, he thought, holstering the gun.

BBBBBBB

It was later, after a rigorous work out at the gym where Brennan's words had played on repeat in his mind no matter how much he tried to cast them aside, that he'd requested for a warrant for Bethlehem's house.

He called the Jeffersonian, asking to speak to Dr. Brennan, but she 'wasn't available at the moment'. He left a message with her dorky assistant, telling him that he needed to speak with her immediately.

He sat in his office, waiting for her. Cleo's case file was spread out all over his desk, clippings and photos and statements scattered all over. A video of Cleo's graduation that Mrs. Eller had given him - anything to help catch the monster who'd taken her baby girl away from her too soon - was playing, and Booth watched, saddened, as the young, lively, alive version of Cleo laughed on camera, happily hugging her family as the video was being taken.

Brennan, who had been giving Booth's message by Zack the moment she'd stepped out of the meeting set up to confirm the authentication of an Incan mummy she'd worked on, had made the short journey from the Jeffersonian to the Hoover building.

Now she stood in the doorway of Booth's office, silently watching him as he gazed at Cleo's face in the video. There was a sadness in the way he looked, a certain haunting look, that she knew wouldn't be present in just anyone's faces. Sure, they would be sad for Cleo, for the Ellers, but they wouldn't be driven to find her murderer the way Booth was driven. Not when they, like Booth, had never met Cleo when she was alive. That's why he's different, she realized.

Taking a deep breath, she knocked on his open door. "Booth?"

"They look pretty happy, don't they?" he asked quietly. "Otherwise they wouldn't have turned on the camera I guess."

She deliberately didn't answer his question, changing the subject. "Zack said you wanted to see me?"

Booth looked at her. "Is that something that you don't like to talk about? Families?" he asked, curious.

Brennan turned to leave. She hadn't come all the way to his office to be interrogated about her personal life and if she had issues regarding families. Booth had read her file, she was sure of it, so he must know about her parents and brother abandoning her. That was something she would've never told anyone without really caring for them - not even Peter, whom she'd cohabitated with, knew much past 'parents left, became foster child'. She tended to keep these things locked up tight.

And what he didn't know - mainly Rosalie, Wyatt, Zan and Demetri - she didn't want to share. He was an infuriating, cocky FBI agent she couldn't seem to get her hands off. Things like her children was too personal to share, and she wasn't sure she was ready or that she even wanted to.

"Temperance," Booth called out softly. She halted at the sound of her first name. She could literally count on her fingers the number of times he'd called her that before. It was strange, hearing it from his lips. "Partners share things. Builds trust."

She raised an eyebrow. "Since when are we partners?" she didn't mean it to be cruel. It was just that she knew how much he didn't want her out on the field with him. She'd had to blackmail him, for God's sakes. Now, suddenly, he was openly admitting that they were partners?

"I apologize for the assumption," Booth snarked. He grabbed a piece of paper and handing it to her.

Brennan read the contents, shocked. "You got a warrant to search Bethlehem's place?"

Booth nodded, standing up and walking around his desk to approach her. "You're right," he admitted. "If Bethlehem wasn't a Senator, I would be in that basement looking for that killing floor."

He stopped right next to her, both of them resting against the edge of his desk. "But you're wrong," he continued softly. "I was never afraid of that guy and I'm not doing this because you are a genius. I'm doing this for Cleo."

And as she stared into his soulful eyes, just an inch or two away from hers, she believed him.

BBBBBBB

Ken Thompson had been apprehended - attended to medically and apprehended - and Cleo was finally being put to rest. Booth, Brennan and the rest of the squints were in attendance, paying their respects to Cleo and the Ellers, standing behind the other guests as they watched the ceremony.

"Lord make me an instrument of your peace…" the priest was saying.

Brennan, wearing a mournful expression as she thought about how tragically Cleo's life had ended, stepped forward, walking away from her friends. She made her way towards the casket, stopping halfway to grab a rose from a vase, and stepped up to Cleo's coffin. She placed the rose on top of the closed casket, gazing at Cleo's smiling face in the picture.

Booth, still standing with the squints, watched her, a pang to his heart he didn't quite understand or didn't want to understand. It was difficult to tell these days, especially when Brennan was concerned.

He took in her beautiful face, drawn in sadness as she mourned Cleo, and felt another stab of guilt at the way he'd rashly misjudged her in the beginning as someone who was too lost in science and had no real clue regarding humans and emotions.

"Is the FBI gonna lay charges against Brennan?" Angela asked, breaking him out of his thoughts. Which was probably a good thing because his mind had now taken to cataloging how ethereal Brennan looked with the sun's rays shining down softly on her.

Hodgins jumped in next, as eager as Angela to defend his boss. "She only shot him in the leg…Once," he reminded Booth.

"She didn't give him a warning," Booth countered. "She just shot him - with alcohol on her breath."

Dr. Goodman shook his head, obviously dissatisfied with Booth's answer. "It was her first shooting. You can't expect her to be perfect right out of the gate," he defended.

Booth almost rolled his eyes. What was it about Temperance Brennan that made everyone around her want to protect her? Even he himself…No, do not go there, he warned himself.

"How much warning did you give people before you sniped them?" Zack asked.

Booth and Dr. Goodman both looked over at him. Seeing his blank expression and obvious clueless behavior, Booth exhaled. Note to self - just because I misjudged Bones doesn't mean I was wrong about the others. Kid is still a robotic weirdo.

Without replying to Zack's creepy question, Booth stepped away from the group, striding over to Brennan who was walking away from the funeral. She didn't seem at all surprised to find him walking next to her.

At the sound of his sigh, Brennan turned to look at him, "What?"

"Told you it wasn't the Senator."

She quirked a small smile in his favor. "And I told you who it was, so we're even," she bantered playfully.

He nodded his head once, even as he disagreed, "'cept we work on the same cases and you end up on the New York Times bestsellers' list."

Brennan reeled her head back slightly in surprise. "I didn't know that," she admitted. She tended to stray away from anything regarding her book - including reviews. These things were handled by her book agent and her publisher. They were the ones who told her the response was a good one, and that was all she really needed to know.

Booth nodded again. "Mmm-hmm…Number three with a bullet."

"That's good, right?" she wondered. "The New York Times with a bullet."

"It means you're rich - call your accountant," he joked.

Brennan laughed at his words. "I don't have an accountant," she told him.

"Well get one."

She shrugged. "Okay. How does that work?"

Booth rolled his eyes, giving her a bemused look. "Ugh, you need to get out of the lab," he stated. "Y'know, watch TV. Turn on the radio. Anything. Pick up the phone and…" he trailed off, knowing it wasn't necessary to complete his sentence.

They both turned, almost simultaneously like they could read each other's minds, to watch the funeral one last time. Cleo's parents were at her casket, both placing roses on top of the wood.

"You know, if it weren't for you…Those people would never have known what happened to their daughter," he told Brennan. "It's gotta be worse than the truth."

Remembering Angela's advice about letting someone know something personal every once in awhile, and remembering what Booth had said about how partners shared things, Brennan took in a deep breath and plunged ahead. "I knew exactly how the Ellers felt about Cleo," she admitted softly. "My parents disappeared when I was fifteen and nobody knows what happened to them."

And just like that, like she had said some sort of magic word, Booth opened up to her, too. "Me being a sniper…I…I took a lot of lives. What I would like to do before I'm done is try to catch at least that many murderers," he told her, his voice low, filled with remorse on a past he cannot change.

Brennan, unthinkingly, laughed. "Please. You don't think there is some kind of…Cosmic balance sheet?" When Booth didn't laugh with her, and simply looked to the ground, she stopped smiling.

As an anthropologist, she observed many cultures filled with many different beliefs. Even if she didn't share the same beliefs, she could respect those who do, no matter how ridiculous said beliefs might seem to her.

So, she gave him a shy look and said, "I'd like to help you with that."

Booth smiled, knowing that his gratitude would be evident in his eyes. To lighten the mood, which had gotten too dark for his taste, he teased, "Ehh?" Brennan laughed with him. "Alright, how about we go for a drink?"

"It's eleven-thirty in the morning, Booth," Brennan reminded him.

He shrugged. "I didn't say it had to be alcoholic," he said, taking a risky leap and linking his arm through hers. Brennan's head snapped around in his direction, but he continued looking ahead, jabbering away about what they should do next, giving no inclination that he was aware of her gaze on him. "How about we go to Sid's? I'm dying for a good meal. We'll go for an early lunch."

She hesitated, both on his lunch invitation and on the decision to retract her arm from his. "I don't know…" she trailed off.

He turned his head, then, to give her his charm smile. If anything, he knew that worked on her. Sometimes. "Come on…" he cajoled. "It's just lunch, Bones."

The small smile appearing on her lips mirrored his, growing larger just as his did. "Okay, fine," she relented, relaxing beside him and keeping her arm locked with his. "But I'm paying this time."

"What? No, you're not, Bones. I'm the guy!" he protested, joyful at how easily they fell into a comfortable banter.

Brennan rolled her eyes. "That's such a sexist comment, Booth," she chided.

As they reached the street where Booth had parked his SUV, the two shared a secret, intimate smile. Laughter bubbled from Brennan's lips, intermingling with his own warm chuckle.


Okay, I didn't mean to add so much of the case in here. I'll try my best to incorporate more BB moments, Parker moments and introduce more of Brennan's kids, two of whom you guys didn't even get to meet here. For those of you who think Brennan is OOC here, or in future chapters, please bear in mind that she can't be EXACTLY the same as in the series since she has kids and that would've changed her somewhat.

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. If not, please leave a line or two anyway to tell me what you think. Thank you!

Juliet.