If it belongs on TV it does not belong to me...
Booth had not confronted her that night in her bedroom; he had turned to her with a smile on his face and accepted the towel and the dry shirt without a word, heading instead into her kitchen to open a bottle of wine as they waited for the Thai food to arrive.
Every cell in her body screamed at her to confront him about it herself, to ask him why he was withholding the words he had never given her, but she held her tongue and followed his lead again. She was a patient woman and she had waited years for Seeley Booth to catch his heart up with his mind. She could wait a few more weeks for him to heal.
Booth felt every bit the ass he had been acting as of late, but he simply didn't know how to respond. He knew he was supposed to be the lead, that Bones was supposed to follow his example when it came to matters of the heart, and he wasn't sure when the student had become the teacher. That he had ever let her think she didn't have his kind of open heart was the gravest of tragedies, but sadly it was only a minor offence compared to what else he had put her through.
He felt her watching him, looking for something in him, though he wasn't sure what yet. Her mind seemed to be made up though and she settled onto the couch to wait for him as had become their routine. He knew he wasn't being fair, leaving her in limbo like this in regards to just what they were to each other, but still his heart begged for a little more time before opening up again. He wasn't sure when he had decided self preservation was the best option but he couldn't deny that he was acting selfish.
"Dr. Saroyan? I know this is a short notice but I just realized, I'm going to have to take off the rest of the week." Camille Saroyan was used to a lot of things from her forensic anthropologist; a request for time off was never one of them. Ever.
"Do you have a book tour or some conference this weekend that I'm unaware of?"
"No, this is purely personal time. You could even call me back in if becomes absolutely necessary."
"Good, so you're not fleeing the country." The pathologist couldn't stop the teasing tone that crept into her voice. "By all means Dr. Brennan you have more than enough personal time accumulated, enjoy your weekend."
"Thank you Cam." There was a smile on Brennan's face though even Cam could see the look of trepidation in her eyes. Whatever was going on this week must be pretty big to have Brennan so worked up; Cam couldn't recall seeing her look so anxious about anything since she had decided to go to Maluku. A little under a year ago.
The realization came quickly but Dr. Brennan was quicker, already well out of sight. A small smile came over the pathologist's face as she finished her paperwork for the night, a glimmer of hope in her heart that things might just go right this time.
Temperance Brennan was not what most people would consider a romantic, though her years around Angela had opened her mind up to some of the gestures other men had attempted they always felt forced or false with her. But the sight of her partner coming into her office with coffee, or standing outside her door with takeout could send the butterflies Angela had described into a frenzy in her stomach. Even though there was no rational reason for Booth's presence to have any sort of affect on her digestive system.
Despite her disinclination for the typical romantic overtures she couldn't help but be pleased with herself. She had marked it down to the day and though she knew it was foolish there was some unconscious part of her that hoped he remembered too. That's not to say she expected him to be ready, they had both been through a lot in their months apart and even more in the few since they had been back. She had promised to meet him at the coffee cart one year from today and whether or not he showed Brennan knew Booth's romantic heart would appreciate the gesture.
So with an anxious heart she got her first paper cup of coffee, settled on the nearest bench and began the longest wait of her life.
If the seven months he had spent overseas had been hell Booth wasn't sure he knew how to classify the five he had since returning stateside. He had been in a constant state of emotional turmoil, and though she was part of the storm around him she had placed herself firmly at the center in turn centering him. She had simply been there, quietly supporting him, waiting for him the way ne now knew she'd been doing silently for many years. Loving him silently from a distance even before she knew she was capable of having an open heart.
They had slowly started rebuilding their partnership after the falling out that had come with Hannah. They hadn't fallen back into the same pattern per say but forming a new relationship that was at the same time more open and cautious than the one they had shared before.
In light of their return to a state of normalcy Booth was more than a little shocked when he stopped by her office on a Thursday afternoon and found the room dark. He went to search her out in Angela's office only to be told by the very cranky, very pregnant artist that Brennan hadn't stopped by all day.
"It's not like I have a tracking chip in her Booth, though after the years I've known her it might be a good idea." Angela had snapped, enjoying her secret knowledge of Brennan's whereabouts far too much to spoil the fun, though she was genuinely cranky that he was here at the Jeffersonian.
The tone in Angela's voice made the FBI agent more than happy he had missed out on some of the little things in Rebecca's pregnancy, and gave him a new sense of respect for the bug man, though is did nothing to ease his mind as to where Brennan had disappeared to.
When he didn't find her in limbo he went to Cam in a mild state of panic. Smiling with the secret she knew he had yet to figure out the pathologist decided to throw him a bone. "She took a few days off for personal business Seeley, she promised me she was staying stateside. Who knows it's been quite a year; I suppose even Dr. Brennan needs a break sometimes."
She smiled slightly as she saw the words hit home with Booth. Barely remembering to thank her he was off like a shot and Cam couldn't help but root for them a little in her heart, 'that's' right Seeley, go get her.'
Brennan wasn't sure if it was the coffee or the nerves, but as the day wore on she found it harder and harder to sit still. She wanted to get off this bench, go find Booth, to do simply something. But she had made him a promise and she fully intended to keep it. Even though she knew in her logical mind that Booth had probably long forgotten their promise to meet for today, or had considered the promise filled when they had met briefly five months earlier there was something in her heart holding her to that bench.
It had been thirteen months since he had opened his heart slightly, only to have Bones push him away for not opening it enough. Twelve months to the day since they had agreed to meet on the mall, to share a cup of coffee and see where their partnership was at. It had been seven months of hell in the desert, hurt and lost and longing for so much more than his heart had waned to admit. It had been five months since he had come home to find the life he had left behind in shambles. Three months since Hannah had left him, robbing him of what he had felt was his last chance at happiness. The last year washed over him as he sped towards the mall, hoping in his heart of hearts that he wasn't too late.
He pushed aside the thoughts of last year's pain and followed the heart he had ignored for so long. Without a thought in his head he ran. He ran to the mall for the meeting he had almost forgotten. The meeting that had been seven years in the making and one year in anticipation. All adding up to one moment that he was not going to miss.
"You remembered." He didn't have the words to express how much that simple fact meant to his battered heart.
"I've been here all morning, I thought you had forgotten."
"Never" he said with an intensity that all but made up for the fact that he almost had.
"I know technically we had this meeting months ago but…"
"You want another chance."
"I know I may not deserve one, but I would like the chance now to say what I wanted to all those months ago," even in her mind she wasn't sure what event she was referring too, there were too many missed chance to count, she wasn't going to let this become another one.
"Booth, please? I love you. I have right from the beginning, though I've spent most of our partnership trying to deny it, convincing myself that I couldn't be what you needed to be happy. I can't promise you fifty years down the line because that is not who I am. But I can promise you to stay, and I can promise to love you as I have, a little more each day and if those days add up to the years you want I will consider myself the luckiest woman ever. I've never had love that hasn't brought me pain, and my love for you is no different, but I can promise I will do all that I can never to hurt you. I don't want to take a chance or give this a shot, I want to love you Seeley Booth, pure and simple. For as long as you will let me."
"I, I can't-"
"I can't believe we've wasted so many years."
"Nothing we have ever done has been a waste. We've spent years proving our trust and intentions towards each other, getting to know the others heart. It hasn't all been a waste, please don't say that-"
He silenced her with a kiss. A kiss that was sloppy and messy, with tears and laughter. A kiss full of promise and longing and love. It was a kiss declaring their future, wherever it led, together as partners, as lovers, as one.
So that's the end for now, thank you to everyone who has stuck through this with me offering feedback and support along the way. Like any story this one has its flaws but overall I have to say I'm happy with the result. I'd like to offer special thanks to: Hikari-Kayko, Cremant, BelleBones, SouthunLady, stooger, nertooold54, cheysma2000, PercyzBookworm, RositaLG, shopgirl909, bones35 and RowdyRomantic. You all reviewed on almost every chapter, and your insight and support made writing this piece a fantastic experience.
There will be a sequel, expect it to start at some point over the winter hiatus. I want to explore the changes in Booth and Brennan's relationship as they have to cope with the threat of the new sniper that's supposed to be coming up. :)