A/N: This ended up being a bit more 'M' than I'd initially intended. I hope it doesn't offend anyone.

Without further adieu, here is the final chapter…

Booth picked Bones up for dinner after an excruciating eight hours spent apart. During those hours, Booth contemplated what would happen next, how they would take the bold step of obliterating the line he'd drawn many years ago. For almost seven years, Booth had imagined what taking that step might look like. He'd dreamt of being the one that she got dressed up for, rather than some other guy who failed to recognize the treasure before him; of having the privilege of reaching across the table to hold her hand; of holding her while she slept after they made love for the first time. But, of course, nothing with Temperance Brennan had ever gone according to Booth's plan, not from the second he walked into that lecture hall seven years ago.

Instead of a romantic dinner, they shared a meal at the diner, as they'd done many time before. They bickered over pie, and Bones ate half of his French fries. It was the same yet different all at once.

When the meal was over and the check paid, Bones asked, almost shyly, "Do you want to come back to my place?"

Booth struggled to formulate a response to her question. The answer was of course, yes, a million times over.

"Yes, I would love to but-."

Bones frowned at the sound of the last word.

"- I think we both know what will happen."

"You mean that we will have sexual intercourse?" Bones confirmed matter-of-factly.

Booth laughed nervously, "Yeah, that's what I mean."

Booth took her hand, feeling the wooly fabric of her mittens, "I would like to do this right, Bones. You deserve a fancy dinner out, where we get dressed up; I bring flowers, and buy you an overpriced glass of wine."

Bones considered his statement for a moment, "If you think that's necessary."

Booth chuckled, "Well, I don't want to torture you."

"No, that sounds lovely, just unnecessary, Booth. Aside from the part about the flowers, we have been doing that for years. I know that you value romance, and if you feel the need to set the appropriate romantic scene before sleeping together, that would be acceptable to me."

Booth smiled and took her other mitten-clad hand, "Why don't we just start with a glass of wine at your place?"

Truthfully, he found the thought of not spending the next several hours with her intolerable. They'd spent too much time apart. Whether they spent the evening making love or bickering, if he was with Bones, it didn't' matter.

"That sounds like an excellent compromise," Bones said with a smile.

"But, we will have that first date some day very soon, flowers, fancy dinner, the whole nine yards," Booth said, leaning in to kiss her lightly.

Having the privilege of kissing her was quickly rising to the top of Booth's list of favorite things.

"Okay," Bones agreed.

Booth entered Bones' apartment filled with expectation. He hadn't crossed her threshold in some time, yet he still felt at home at there. When Bones retreated to the kitchen for a glass of wine, she returned with his favorite beer in hand. She'd kept her fridge stocked for him; the thought saddened him a bit.

Bones sat beside him on the couch and lifted her wine glass, "Cheers."

"To us," Booth said his beer clinking against her glass.

"To what we're becoming," Bones added before taking a sip of her Merlot.

When she returned her glass to the coffee table, Booth brushed his hand along her soft cheek. Bones responded by pulling him in for a kiss. Once his fingertips felt the soft skin of her neck, Booth knew that he wouldn't be satisfied until he'd touched, kissed, and tasted every inch of her.

"Bones," Booth uttered longingly as he moved his lips to the delicate hollow of her neck.

"Booth," she moaned in response, threading her hands in her hair.

Booth lifted his eyes up to her, "Are you sure about this? We can't turn back once -."

"I don't want to turn back," she affirmed.

"Neither do I," Booth said with a smile.

Bones rose and took Booth's hand, leading him into her bedroom. She laid down on the bed, and he laid beside her. For a moment, he just gazed into her crystal blue eyes, as her sweet scent wafted through his nostrils. Booth's lips returned to the hollow of her neck sucking gently on the soft flesh there. As Booth's lips and hands continued their decent, Bones untucked his dress shirt. Booth shivered as her delicate finger snaked up his torso. After emitting a soft groan, Booth's fingers brushed the hint of cleavage exposed by her blouse. He slowly unbuttoned the garment, exposing her inch by inch.

"You're beautiful, Bones. So beautiful," Booth said breathlessly.

Bones smiled shyly. She sat up, shrugging the blouse off her shoulders.

Booth eyes were drawn to the small line on her hip, marring the otherwise flawless canvas of her milky skin.

He ran his hand over a small scar, "What happened?"

"One of my foster 'brothers' tried to touch me, so I punched him. He retaliated by stabbing me with a pen."

Booth winced and let his lips linger on the spot, "I'm sorry. No one will ever hurt you like that again."

"You can't promise that Booth," Bones replied.

"We'll see about that."

With each successive article of clothing shed, Booth memorized each spot that made her moan with pleasure. He cupped her breasts, testing their weight in hands, as she arched into his touch. Booth whispered her name like a prayer before encircling her pink nipples with his tongue.

"Booth," she moaned, moving his hand to where she longed for his mouth to travel next.

Booth smiled, eager to please her. After pressing a moist kiss to her taut stomach, Booth moved his tongue rhythmically against her core. As a wave of pleasure crested over her, he slid inside her. Their lovemaking was gentle, yet uninhibited and passionate. When Bones trembled with pleasure and his name crossed her lips, Booth knew he'd showed her the difference between sex and making love.

After their mutual climaxes, Bones and Booth held one another in contented silence.

Bones looked up at him, "If that is what you meant when you said you would 'make it up to me' then you have may continue doing so," she said with an amused smile.

Booth laughed, "Though I plan to make it up to you in that way many, many times, that's not what I meant. I promise to love you for 30, 40, or 50 years – however long you'll let me. I will show you that love is transcendent and eternal. I will be by your side whenever you need me, even when you think you don't."

"I am afraid I am going to mess this up," Bones said, her voice catching in her throat.

"You won't," Booth affirmed, "I won't let you."

"I can't lose you, Booth. You're my best friend. Being apart for seven months, I realized that as irrational as it is, I – I can't live without you," Bones sobbed, opening a floodgate of emotion.

"Oh, baby, you won't lose me. It might not always easy, but we'll make it work. You're it for me, Bones. You're the one. You always were, always will be," Booth said tenderly wiping away her tears with his thumb.

"I missed you tremendously when I was in Maluku," Bones confessed, trying to regain her composure.

"Then why didn't you call?" Booth said, finally giving the question that had been nagging him a voice.

Bones shrugged, "We were told that the satellite phone was only for emergencies. I didn't think my loneliness qualified as an emergency."

Booth nodded, as he considered how the last ten months of his life could have been different if she had. If he'd heard her voice or read her words in an email or letter, would he have sought solace in Hannah's arms?

Swallowing hard, Booth asked, "If I hadn't come back talking about H –."

Hannah's name suddenly seemed like a curse in light of what could only be described as the miracle of making love to Bones.

"- about someone else, would it have been different?"

Bones sighed, "During our time apart, I considered what you had offered me in the spring. I found myself imagining, dreaming even, what that would be like."

"You dreamed about us?" Booth asked with surprise.

"Yes, in varying capacities."

Booth chuckled at how she could even make a dream sound clinical.

"But, I thought you'd moved on. You seemed happy. You deserved that, and I wouldn't be the one to ruin that for you."

Booth dropped his head to his chest, "I'm sorry. I am sorry I mislead you."

Bones pressed a finger to his lips to silence him.

"We've both hurt one another, Booth. I have wasted too much time protecting myself from emotional pain. We can't change the past."

Booth smiled, "You know, for someone who says they aren't a heart person, you sure do seem to have a lot of insight into matters of the heart."

"I learned from the best," Bones said with a twinkle in her eye.

Booth pressed a kiss to her forehead, "I love you. No one could ever make me happy the way you do, Bones. No one."

Bones nodded and rested her head in the crook of his shoulder. He stroked her hair, wrapping an auburn curl around his finger.

"You look tired," he said with concern, wondering if she had been sleeping as little as he had of late, "You should get some sleep."

Bones nodded sleepily against his shoulder. He pulled the blanket up to cover them more completely from the chill of the January night.

"Good night, Booth," Bones mumbled.

"Good night, Bones," Booth whispered, "I love you."

She didn't respond, and Booth wasn't sure if she was asleep or just not quite ready to utter those words without qualification. For now, it didn't matter. Booth just watched her sleep peacefully, feeling her warm breath against his chest and listening to her shallow, even breathing. His mind returned to something Cam had said to him, "If you love somebody, let them go. If they return, they were always yours. If they don't, they never were."

With Bones sleeping soundly in his arms, he knew that he was always hers, and she would always be his.

~*~ The End or The Beginning ~*~