Dr. Brennan meet Dr. Brennan

Epilogue

By LizD

A/N: Felt the need for a little Holiday Cheer. Just a little somethin-somethin to tie this little story up with a bright and shiny Christmas bow. Have your insulin shot and tooth brush ready when this is over. SUPER long, could have probably edited but it was fun. Please enjoy. Comments are nice.

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"Booth."

"Ryan."

The men shook hands like old colleagues. They had neither seen nor talked to each other since March after the incident in Montreal was wrapped up. Ryan was very helpful in facilitating that. Though Booth was FBI he was a guest in the country, shooting and killing within the Canadian borders was not something that was going to get swept under the rug. The fact that Booth had special skills that no one else on the team had was in his favor. To be honest the court had a harder time with the fact that there were two forensic anthropologists named Temperance Brennan; so they were a bit distracted.

"Merry Christmas," Ryan added cheerfully.

"Yeah that."

Booth was in a bad mood trying to be in a good mood. The Christmas spirit was not full on him and there were two very good reasons. The first came from Rebecca; she did it again. She made arrangements for she, Parker and her latest boy toy Jack to spend the holiday in Vermont Skiing. Apparently it was Rebecca's dream to be in Vermont at Christmas (she must have watched White Christmas too many times as a kid). The difference this year was Parker really wanted to go. They included his best friend and a new snowboard. There was no way Booth could dash Parker's excitement about going so he sucked it up. He had to get used to the idea that his son was growing up and would want to do more things with friends than with his father. He was frustrated about how much time he lost with his son: the first ten years due to his mother, the rest would be Parker himself. He vowed he would never find himself in that situation again.

The second hit was from Brennan. It was the first year that he and Brennan were a couple for Christmas and for some odd reason he thought they would do all that normal Christmas stuff: tree, presents, carols on the spinet, chestnuts roasting on an open fire (or something like that). But Brennan was in no way a traditional person. He should have known that from the first five and half years. And after the last nine months of knowing her intimately, he should have grown accustomed to her ... different approach to the everyday. Brennan still didn't look forward to the holiday (as per usual) regardless of her new couple status. He tried to convince her that they could make some new traditions and she agreed in words if not in spirit.

With Parker out of town, it had opened up the possibility of Booth accepting a holiday trip. Brennan had floated her standby Christmas locals (Peru, Chile and Turkey), but Booth nixed those quickly. Then there was the suggestion that they also go skiing in Vermont (Brennan hated that idea); luckily Booth had no intention of intruding on Rebecca's Christmas. For a fleeting moment the idea of going with Russ and his family to the Magic Kingdom in Florida was discussed. Max was going too (he liked being a grandfather). It was quickly dismissed by both Booth and Brennan. About three days before the holiday, Brennan mentioned that they had been invited to Hilton Head, South Carolina to spend the week with Tempe and Ryan on the beach at Tempe's friend Annie's house. Booth thought 'what the hell, no reason to stay home.' The packed and left within two hours.

"Headed out for a run on the beach," Ryan said cheerfully. "You up for it"

"Yeah, I could use a good run."

Booth had to interrupt the Doctors Brennan to tell them he was going with Ryan. He really didn't need to bother. They probably wouldn't have noticed he was gone. They were deep into some new breakthrough in laser something or other. Ryan and Booth just shrugged. Booth picked a bedroom (there were four left after Ryan and Tempe took that master) and put their luggage down. He quickly changed and met Ryan and Boyd on the beach. Boyd was a chow that seemed to be way too happy for Booth's tastes but he was clearly ready for a run. Booth was not really a pet person.

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Brennan and Tempe had only gotten closer in the past nine months. There were a lot of emails, phone calls, and actual consulting on each other's cases. Finally both women had someone to talk to on the same level scientifically. It was nice for each of them. They were more like sister/colleagues.

The topic of conversation between the doctors changed almost immediately after the door closed behind the men-folk.

"So, how are you and Booth?" Tempe started. They talked very little about their respective partners in the past because communication was primarily about some science or other.

Brennan thought for a long moment. "Booth gets very sentimental at this time of year. He has a son, it's understandable. I'm not. It's been difficult to find a compromise where we're both comfortable."

"Is that true about more than Christmas?"

"We are still very consumed by our work. We have been able to continue working together even though we are romantically involved – it has not been publically announced. I don't see that there are any conflicts with the more intimate relationship."

It wasn't lost on Tempe that Brennan didn't answer her question. "You don't think he's more protective? That you are? Or worse, that the familiarity will make you more careless in dangerous situations?"

"No, Booth has always put safety first; he has taught me well. I think we actually work better together now than we did before, but that could just be the passage of time; thought I do find that I can anticipate his actions more now than I did before."

"How is it being together so much? All day at work and then at night."

"We spend much of our days apart if we are not working a case. And he and I each maintain our own home. So we only spend evenings together occasionally."

"Occasionally?"

"To be fair, we probably spend one or two nights a week apart if we are not working a case."

"Do you have any time for fun?"

"I find our sex quite enjoyable." Brennan smiled thinking that that was putting it mildly. "Booth would probably prefer I not share that."

Tempe smiled too. "What about fun fun? Do you take trips? Or lock yourself away on weekends and watch old movies? Do you go out on dates? Have you taken up any hobbies together? Talk about something other than work? Do you talk about a future?" Tempe was grasping at straws as Brennan didn't look like she understood her questions.

"Our time is pretty focused on work. Booth has Parker every other weekend. Sometimes I'm with them, sometimes it's just a boys' weekend and they stay at Booth's apartment."

"Have you talked about living together?"

"Are you advocating that now? From my understanding, you had refused to cohabitate with Ryan for many years and it caused you two to break up for a time."

"Well, learn from my mistake, grasshopper."

"Grasshopper? I don't understand."

"Never mind.

"Has the change in your living arrangements improved your relationship?"

"Ryan and I have never been better. We love our house. Ryan likes being a land baron and walks the property every night when he gets home regardless of the time. We have a list of projects that we want to do and have resigned ourselves that it will be years before we're done. Ryan's pretty busy at work but he makes time for himself and for us. Sometimes we work together, sometimes we don't but we usually consult on the cases we are working - off the record. But we don't let work be all that we are about. We never really were ALL WORK AND NO PLAY. We really do enjoy each other's company and make each other laugh. It's very nice. Different from what I had with Pete - a lot less pressure."

"Could that be because you are not legally bound to each other?"

"Legally bound? – oh you mean marriage. No, I won't be doing that again - ever and Ryan never has. There is no reason to think that will change. I honestly think it's age. We have both been around the block a couple of times and we both realize that having someone to talk to is more important than just about anything else. To know that you have someone on your side and to be on theirs is invaluable."

"So you are saying that you have lowered your expectations."

Tempe laughed. "I would rather think that we have gained wisdom. It's not all sunshine and buttercups. He has some really annoying habits and his work hours are insane. There have been several days in a row when we do little more than leave notes for each other in the kitchen. He hates that I still split my time between Montreal and UNCC but tolerates it. Lily is a problem, but she's getting better. She was supposed to join us here for Christmas but she backed out at the last minute. That was a pretty big fight between father and daughter. Ryan and I don't always agree on how to manage her but I defer to his opinion after I have shared mine - whether he wants to hear it or not. She spends much of her time with us, so it's not unreasonable for me to have an opinion. I imagine it's like you and Booth and Parker."

"We don't talk about parenting. I think Booth is an excellent father. My only concern is that sometimes he would rather lie or evade a topic to spare himself or Parker an uncomfortable conversation. Most of the time he makes more out of it than it needs to be."

"Sounds normal for a weekend father. They like to protect their time and be more friends than parents."

Brennan nodded.

"Have you thought about kids?" Tempe asked.

Brennan got a little uncomfortable, but decided truth was best. "A couple of years ago I had started the process to be inseminated with Booth's sperm."

"I'll bet there's a good story to go with that."

"Yes … a book in fact, but I deleted it. We would not have been co-parents. Complications arose and I never broached the subject with him again. Obviously now it would change our relationship."

"Obviously." Tempe loved Brennan's understatements of the obvious. "It would have back then too."

"I didn't see why it had to at the time, but ..."

"You do now?"

Brennan nodded.

"Would that be a bad thing?"

Brennan shrugged a 'no'.

She waited hoping that Brennan would speak again. She didn't. "So, have you thought about it?"

Brennan glanced away quickly.

"You have." Tempe smiled. "So now all you need to do is talk to Booth about it."

Brennan nodded but didn't look like she had any plan of doing that.

"Looks like Booth is not the only one who avoids the controversial subjects."

"Booth would expect that a child would mean marriage. His experience with Parker's mother was not a good one."

"You don't want to get married?"

"An archaic institution."

"The American Way."

"So I understand."

"Independence cannot be overrated."

"Agreed."

Tempe held up her fist for Brennan to bump. Brennan looked a little confused but had seen people do it. She reluctantly bumped her fist with Tempe's.

"Still, not totally out of the realm of possibility," Tempe said implying that marriage wasn't all that hateful.

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Ryan and Booth slowed to a walk. They were about three or four miles from the house. They had run the gambit of sports topics and found they were both avid fans of Hockey. Ryan had played years ago, but the SQ team was a little too rough for him (he claimed he was an old man). Booth suggested a little one-on-one if they went back to DC. Ryan readily agreed.

"Want to see something?" Ryan asked with a sly smile on his face.

"Sure." Booth was leery.

Ryan pulled something out of his pocket and handed it to Booth. It was a solitaire diamond about a carat to carat and a half. He had been carrying it around with him for weeks. Booth was not up on diamonds, but it was shiny all right. "Nice." He handed it back.

"I'm going to ask Tempe to marry me on Christmas morning."

"Congratulations."

"Not yet … the good money's on her turning me down."

Booth was confused. "You expect her to turn you down, but you bought a ring and are going to ask her anyway?"

"Yeah, call me a masochist."

"Why buy that kind of trouble? What happens if she says 'no'?"

"Nothing, but she knows that I mean business."

"Mean business?"

"Tempe has this notion that I was some kind of major player and I let her believe it. It took the pressure off for each of us. Well things have changed. And it takes a handwritten note from God for her to change her mind sometimes. I want her to know that I'm committed."

"You've been married before?"

"Not officially."

"Your daughter's mother?'

"Weekend thing with an ex-lover."

"Tempe has though, right?"

"Yeah ... and I know what you are going to say."

Booth had no idea what he was going to say he was just asking questions.

"Her husband of twenty plus years cheated and really screwed with her head and now she has some serious trust issues. The marriage doesn't imply fidelity. She won't buy into that again probably ever."

"And yet?" Booth gestured toward the ring.

"I don't care if she never sets a date." Ryan studied the ring for a moment. He could always make a stud out of it. He still had a pierce in his ear. "Bad idea?'

"I'm thinking."

"Well I got her a back up present too, in case I change my mind." He stuffed the ring back in his pocket. "What about you and Brennan? First year for you guys ... how much pressure is this going to be?"

Booth laughed. "You don't know Bones very well, do you? She's not like a normal woman. She's not like a normal anything." Booth was becoming proud to say that. He was finally coming around to enjoying Brennan's different approach to life. "She doesn't read into the significance of presents. Jewelry is just jewelry. There is no secret meaning."

"But you got her one."

"Of course. Not the most romantic, but personal. A watch."

"Nice." Ryan wasn't impressed.

"It's a really nice watch," Booth protested. "Something she mentioned she was looking at."

"Well, that will work - I guess."

Booth was about to open his mouth and defend his position. Though the relationship may have been moving too slowly for his tastes, he had learned his lesson about pushing her before she was ready. As for how he conducted the relationship ... well ... Nearly everything he learned about women didn't apply to Brennan. All she ever wanted was truth and honesty. Most women like some little white lies here and there, not her. What he would normally do in a relationship with a woman didn't apply. The cues he would look for weren't there. He was totally out of his element with Brennan. That was driven home in the early months of their relationship.

They had gotten into a heated fight over a case and it turned personal - not name calling personal, but it was personal. Booth didn't remember ever fighting that intensely with anyone much less Brennan. They were in her apartment and it was after dinner when the fight escalated to a point where Booth knew that if it went much farther he would say something he would really regret - instead of all the other things he had said that he regretted. She was being totally unreasonable (in his mind) and of course wrong. He tossed the files he was working with down on the coffee table and said something definitive like "we are done talking about this." He stood up. Brennan stood up and demanded to know where he was going. Before he could respond, she kissed him. It was not what he was expecting. Two seconds before that she was berating him for something or other, and then she was kissing him. The intensity of the fight shifted to desire in a split second. Suffice it to say he didn't go home and the case and the disagreement was forgotten until the next morning - late the next morning.

If Brennan were a normal woman - and he hated thinking of her a not normal, she was extraordinary - but if she were any other woman that he had had a relationship with in the past, the fight would have been at least a three day to a week issue and they wouldn't have gotten over it without some serious conversation and lots of apologies. Instead, Brennan had turned a fight into one of the most passionate, intense nights Booth had ever had in his life. She was quite simply extraordinary. The next day they were still on opposite sides of the issue. Booth wanted to think that it was her amazing ability to compartmentalize, but the truth was - Brennan had learned through years of denying her feelings to redirect them and this time she redirected them into him with great results. A fight that could have put a wedge between them actually brought them closer. Extraordinary. Not normal - in Booth's experience - but he was liking the change. Truth be told he was happy with the status of their relationship and so no reason to change a thing.

"Yes, it works." Booth smiled. He wasn't thinking about the watch. He was thinking about how much more he had fallen in love with her in the past nine months.

They were just about to head back when Boyd yanked at the leash pulling it out of Ryan's hand and took off down the beach in the wrong direction. He was barking loudly. When they finally caught up to him he was digging at a mound in one of the dunes and barking. Ryan grabbed the end of the leash and tried to get him to back off. Then they saw it. Booth and Ryan recognized it at the same time. It was a human hand covered with sand in some serious state of decomp.

Ryan shook his head and rolled his eyes. "You can't tell me you didn't see that coming?" he said to Booth.

Booth didn't understand.

"Tempe can't go anywhere without finding some decomposing corpse or seven."

Booth knew that once Bones got into it there was no stopping her either. "We don't have to tell them. We call it in like private citizens and go back about our vacation."

Ryan shook his head and nodded back down the beach. "Too late ... Dead Body Radar must have gone off."

Booth looked toward the way Ryan was gesturing. Tempe and Brennan were making their way toward them.

"Merry Christmas." Ryan said sarcastically.

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An hour later the whole body had been recovered. The law enforcement was on the scene with the local coroner. Detective Montrose was not impressed with the credentials for Booth or Ryan. He didn't need the help of the FBI or some damned Canadian; of course Ryan spoke in heavily French accented English just to annoy the detective from Dixie. Booth found that very amusing. The coroner thought the Doctors Brennan were pulling his leg - seriously two forensic anthropologists named Temperance Brennan just happened to be vacationing with their cop boyfriends near where a body was found? What were the odds? Boyd was nearly taken to the pound for disturbing a crime scene. The tourists were dismissed.

Of course Brennan and Tempe didn't take that lying down; they were going to need an anthropologist's help to identify the body and determine cause of death - two were better. Tempe made a call to Sherriff Gullet. A short while later they were asked by the coroner for their help. The boys were unimpressed. They understood the concept of vacation and knew how to leave the job at the office. So on the day before Christmas Eve, while Tempe and Brennan did their thing, Ryan and Booth did some male bonding. They played some hoops in the drive way. Drank beer and watched ESPN carrying on a running commentary about every sporting event that was covered. Ryan made one of his famous shrimp dinners - enough for four - but since the ladies didn't make it home for dinner, they finished it up. They went for a walk/run after dinner more for Boyd's sake than their own. When Tempe and Brennan finally walked in the door around eleven thirty that night they were involved in some horrible Christmas action movie and sent the ladies to the showers. Booth and Ryan agreed not to ask any questions about the case.

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The next morning Brennan slipped from bed early - very early. She was dressed and ready to go before she checked on Booth. He was determined to sleep in.

"It's actually a very interesting case," she said.

"I'm sure it is," Booth dismissed.

"It won't take that much time today. With the two of us working together it goes much faster. We are just waiting for the labs." She started to launch into her findings when Booth shut her down.

"So what time do you think you will be done? Should we plan lunch? Dinner? Midnight snack?"

"I'm sorry Booth. I know that this is not how you wanted to spend the Christmas holiday. But we will have the whole week." Any other woman would have been coy or sweet or sexy to pull Booth out of his mood, Brennan was very matter of fact. "I'd rather be here with you. I'd rather that you were working the case. But we are only doing the lab work - no detective work, OK?"

"Yeah, fine, sure." Booth wasn't really annoyed. Well he wasn't more annoyed than he was to begin with. This was not his idea of how to spend Christmas but it had more to do with no Parker, no tree than it did with no girlfriend. "You go do your thing. I'm sure Ryan and I can find some way to entertain ourselves." He truly meant that. But he was disappointed.

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The conversation was much different in Tempe and Ryan's room. In fact there was very little spoken for the first fifteen minutes. Tempe had slipped from the bed trying not to wake him but he found her moments later in the bathroom. With a toothpaste kiss he pulled her back to bed and they had a proper morning greeting much to Birdie's annoyance. She promised to be back as early as she could; he waved her off told her to take as much time as she needed. Ryan was very used to finding his own way around Tempe. There was no reason to be upset or disappointed. Ryan was a firm believer in the quality over quantity time spent together. This body was a puzzle, one that Tempe had to solve or she would be distracted. He liked her best when he had her undivided attention.

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"Booth OK?" Tempe asked. Brennan had been pretty quiet, looking out the window deep in thought.

"He says he is and I have no reason to disbelieve him," she said. "But I know he's missing his son." They were quiet for a moment. Almost out of the blue, Brennan commented, "Booth doesn't have a lot of male friends." She continued. "There are people he plays hockey with but he doesn't often spend much time with other men as friends."

"Why do you think that is?"

"I don't know. I had assumed it was just about work and his son. He spends as much time with Parker as he can. And now he spends much of his non-work hours with me."

"You think he would benefit from having some male friends?"

"Maybe." Brennan turned to look at her. "Does Andy?"

"Have male friends?" She laughed. "Ryan is very social ... he has friends everywhere. He makes time for all of them too - lunches, dinners, whatever they do. And some of them are not male."

"Do you find that you are envious of this other friends ... other interests?"

"Not at all. Time apart is a natural part of our lives - for good and bad." Tempe smiled. "However, that will change slightly in the new year." Brennan gave her a puzzled look. "I have resigned my duties at UNCC and will be spending all my time in Montreal. That's Ryan's Christmas present. I'll still travel quite a bit with lectures and special requests, but I will spend most of my time in Canada. LaManche has secured a full time funding for a forensic anthropologist."

"This was your choice?" Tempe nodded. "A career choice?"

Tempe thought for a moment. "No, it was a personal choice. If Ryan and I were not together I would not have accepted the position."

"You do not feel that you have compromised your career for your relationship?"

"I have made the best choice for me. I don't want to be all about my career. It cost me one marriage and strained my relationship with my daughter."

Brennan looked back out the window again.

"Besides," Tempe added. "There are only a few of us that are as good as we are ... they will keep coming to us. And if they don't," she smiled over at Brennan. "Maybe I'll start writing too."

Brennan laughed. "I'll give you the name of my agent and publisher."

"Why the interest in Booth's social life?"

Brennan hated psychology but applied her anthropological skills on Booth. "Booth is a solitary man. It was probably what made him such a good sniper. He is patient and doesn't require a lot of social interaction. It's why he focuses so much on work."

"You focus on work."

"And I too do not require much social interaction. However I have discovered in the past nine months that I enjoy my relationship with you, with Booth and with the rest of the people in my life much more the more we spend non work time together."

"And you wonder if it is the same for Booth."

"We have always worked together. That has been our primary connection."

"And if you were to lose that?"

"I'm concerned that it will adversely affect our relationship." She paused for a moment. "And I don't think I could tolerate Booth getting another partner. I could handle another lover before another partner."

Tempe tried to figure out what Brennan was circling without actually saying. "Are you thinking about Booth and a baby?"

Brennan snapped her attention back to Tempe. How did she know? "Yes."

"A lot will change for the both of you if you decide to go that route. Your relationship will become public knowledge and I suspect that the FBI will not be able to look the other way anymore. Not to mention that it might be unwise for you to work together in such a dangerous profession with a child."

Brennan nodded. She had considered all of that.

"Brennan," Tempe said in a very sisterly fashion. "Don't make this decision on your own thinking you know what Booth wants or what he would be willing to give up."

Brennan nodded again. "Let's wrap this up as quickly as we can."

Tempe readily agreed.

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Tempe and Brennan were back at the house by eleven thirty AM. Ryan and Booth were no were to be found, they were not picking up their cell phones, they didn't leave a note and Boyd was with them. Tempe suggested that they plan a feast that night and dragged Brennan off to the Farmer's market and fresh fish markets to buy all the ingredients. They did leave a note for the boys.

By time they were back, so were Ryan and Booth. They had had a very busy morning. The boys went out and got a Christmas tree with all the trimmings. They had hoped to have it up and done by time Tempe and Brennan came back, but they were still struggling to get it in the stand and straight. The day turned very festive: tree trimming, the Nutcracker filling the air waves, eggnog and food, lots and lots of food. The two couples had a great afternoon and evening. The doctors talked a little about the case but not much. The men regaled them with their account of picking out a tree from the few that were left on the lot, trying to keep Boyd from marking them and then braving the stores to find lights and ornaments. It looked like they had fun.

Ryan and Tempe were the first to turn in. Booth and Brennan decided to take a walk on the beach, Boyd of course insisted on accompanying them.

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Tempe had found a sweet little red and green number on her latest visit to Vitoria's Secret. Ryan was more than inspired by her festive joie de vivre.

"Oh Santa Baby," Ryan said pulling her into bed next to him. "Can I open my present on Christmas eve?" He nuzzled her neck.

"Just one." She kissed him but held him off for the moment. "This is not your present," she said.

"You didn't need to get me anything else."

"I love how easy it is to please you, but I want to give you your real present. At least I hope you see it as a gift."

"Is it bigger than a bread box? Is it a car? A pony?"

"I have resigned my duties at UNCC. I will be closing up and moving out of the Annex at Sharon Hill and making my permanent residence in Montreal."

Ryan was stunned. He never expected her to do that. He didn't know how to respond.

"I can take it back and get you a pony if you'd rather," she said sarcastically annoyed that he didn't seem happy.

"Don't you dare." He sat up. "Are you sure about that? I mean really sure. I don't want you to do something just because it's something I want."

"I made this decision selfishly," she said. "But I gave it as a gift to you." She laughed. "I got you a real present too."

"Tempe, stop for just a minute. You're sure about this. Your family is down here."

"My daughter is down here and where is she this Christmas? Who knows? If she wants to see me she can damn well get on a plane."

"Pete?"

"Pete is my ex-husband ... yes a version of family, but not one I make decisions around. In fact I didn't when we were married and look how that turned out."

Ryan was stumped. He really never expected her to give up her UNCC job. He hadn't mentioned it to her in a long time. He didn't get irritable when she left and was pleasant on the phone as he sat alone in their house talking to her a thousand miles away. He had to believe that it really was her decision with no pressure from him. He wanted to make a joke about giving up all his mistresses but it wouldn't have been funny. Instead he made love with her and thanked her for his present.

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Booth and Brennan had a very long walk on the beach. They had a good chance to catch up on the past couple of days' events and talk about the coming week. Booth said that he really liked Ryan and was actually enjoying this "couples" thing. Brennan talked a lot but it was obvious that something else was on her mind. Booth let her figure out the best time to bring it up - whatever it was.

When they came back the poured themselves a cognac and cuddled up in front of the fire and the tree.

"I like this as a new tradition," she said after a long period of quiet.

"What?"

"Decorating a tree on Christmas eve. Time with friends. Time alone." She kissed him. "More time alone."

He smiled. "That's one tradition I can get behind." He kissed her, pulled her to standing and hey slipped upstairs to their bedroom - the one away from Tempe and Ryan's.

The seduction progressed and just when things were about to get interesting, Brennan whispered in Booth's ear. "I want us to have a progeny."

Talk about a wet blanket at a party. "What?" Booth rolled away from her, stood up and pulled on his boxers. "Bones, you don't say that to a man just before you're going to ... well ... you know."

"It seemed like the appropriate time."

He shook his head. "No, not really." He ran his hands through his hair. Thankfully she pulled the sheet up to cover herself. Booth was not going to be able to have this conversation naked. "So, a baby."

"Yes. We talked about it years ago, and decided not to go through with it because of your brain tumor but you said something to me before that ... before we discovered the tumor. You said that you didn't want me to have a baby unless you were involved." Booth nodded remembering what he said. "I want us to be involved in creating a life and rearing it ... together."

"That's a big step, Bones."

"I think the time is appropriate. We have known each other sufficiently long enough. We are compatible professionally, personally and sexually. I feel a child of ours would benefit genetically and emotionally from us."

"No doubt," he said almost laughing. "Bones, we're not even living together."

"Is that important?"

"YES," he burst out a little too quickly. "Yes," he repeated a little softer. "Bones, I don't want to go through what I went through with Rebecca. If I'm to have another child, I want a real family. You know: mother, father, house, yard, dog."

"You don't like dogs."

"Work with me here, Bones."

"Do you think that we - you and I - can make a family?"

He sat down on the bed next to her and took her hand. "I do. I do think we can make a great family."

"Ok." She said easily.

"Bones, that means I want us to get married."

She nodded. "Why?"

"If we are to have a baby, I want us to be married and living together." He placed a hand under her chin and tilted it up so her eyes locked with his. "It does not mean that we have to get married or change anything. I love you. I love us. I'm a happy guy."

"You don't seem happy. You seem ... resigned to your fate."

"No," he protested. "Yes, I often defer to you because you have stronger feelings about certain things. And yes I would like to see us grow and change. I assumed living together would be the next step; didn't think we would go for the baby next. And I know how you feel about marriage."

"It's a legal contract accepted in society binding two people."

"No Bones, it's not. It's two people finding each other, falling in love and swearing before God and their friends that they will love and respect each other and share their lives together. It's about hope and promise and commitment. No one can know what's around the next bend, but committing to each other means that regardless of what it is - good or bad - that they will meet it and embrace it together."

"That kind of commitment can't be regulated by laws of your God or man."

"Given the divorce rate, I will grant you that point. But I believe it. I believe that two people can commit to each other until the day they die and make it work in the good and bad times. That's the kind of commitment you should have when you bring a child into the world. Parker has suffered because Rebecca and I didn't have that."

"You're a great father, Booth. And Parker's a good kid." She paused for a moment. "Do you think we will be any less committed to a child if we are not married?"

"No, of course not. But I can't be a weekend father to another child of mine."

"Ok."

"Ok, what?"

"We can get married," she said flatly.

He laughed. "Is that what you want?"

"It's what you want."

"Do you really want a child that badly?" He was a little disappointed.

"I want our child." She kissed him. "You have shown me so much of the world that I would never have experienced without you. I have come to trust your instincts and view of the world. If you feel that marriage is an appropriate choice for us, I trust that. I don't need to stand up before friends and your God to state my commitment to you, but if that's what you think is best, then that's what we should do.

He couldn't hear a lesson about how some aboriginal tribe treats the man/woman relationship in their society. He didn't really like that answer but knew that when she said her vows she would mean them.

"Anthropologically speaking -"

"Don't." He stopped her. "Bones, this will change everything: our work, our non-work life, everything. And that's just getting married, if you add a baby into the mix it will change even more."

"Are you not ready for that change?"

"Are you?"

"I have watched Angela over the past year and noted the changes her life has undergone. What I have been struck by was how much didn't change. Angela is still Angela, but there is a joy in her eyes when she looks at Hodgins or talks about her daughter that is new."

Booth had noticed that too and he was envious of that. Booth was still thrown. He never expected this kind of one hundred and eighty degree turn from Brennan. "I don't think we should make a decision right way. I think we need to keep talking about it and be sure, be very sure what we are getting ourselves into."

"Do you not want another child?"

For the first time in years Booth was sure he wanted another kid, one whose life he would be a part of from conception through college, marriage and grandkids. Having a baby with Brennan was something he never entertained because he believed she would never agree to his requirements. "Yes."

"So we are agreed," she reached for him.

"It's not the simple, Bones." He pulled her to him in a tight embrace. "But we'll figure it out."

He kissed her.

"Will you get another partner?" she asked after a moment.

"No," he said definitively. "You are the only partner I will ever have." Whether that was true or not would be up to the FBI, but in Booth's mind it was a fact. It was only real concern that Brennan had and Booth had put her fears to rest. They would figure out the rest.

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Booth and Ryan met in the kitchen just before dawn. Both were headed out for a run - they needed to clear their heads. Without discussion, they went the other direction. About five miles into the run they stopped and walked around trying to catch their breath. Booth was the first to speak.

"She said 'no'?" He asked referring to Ryan's plan to ask Tempe to marry him.

"She trumped me."

Booth didn't understand.

"She quit her job at UNCC and is making her permanent residence in Montreal - with me."

Booth shrugged. "You wanted that."

"Yeah, of course ... but now I can't ask her to marry me. She has already given up her career for me."

"Well, not completely. She is still working for the ..." Booth could never remember the name of the place that Tempe worked in Montreal. "... well there."

"True, and I am sure she will still get consulting calls. But it was huge; huge for her to do that."

They walked in silence back to toward the house.

"Brennan wants to have a baby," Booth said after a minute.

Ryan laughed. "Kind of puts that watch to shame, doesn't it?"

"Yeah, ya think?"

"So, is that good or bad?"

"I can't tell ... but I am going to have to go with good. She agreed to get married too."

"You wanted that too."

"Feels like a trick," Booth finally said with a laugh.

"You said Brennan wasn't like that. That she was hyper-rational. So, she weighed the pros and cons and made a different decision. She can change her mind - for all your protestations that she is not normal, she's still a woman."

Ryan and Booth did the fist bump thing.

"Here," Ryan dug in his pockets. "You should have this." He was going to give Booth the ring to give to Brennan but it wasn't in his pocket. "Tabernac!" He turned his pockets inside out.

"Maybe in your other pants?"

Ryan shook his head convinced it was gone for good.

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One of Ryan's many annoying habits was not picking up his clothes. Tempe got up after Ryan had been gone and made her way to the bathroom. His jeans were on the floor. She picked them up and tossed them into the hamper in the bathroom. There was an odd PING as something bounced off the tiles. She found it behind the toilet: a diamond solitaire ring. An engagement ring in Ryan's pocket? Oh this was just too good.

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The public presents were opened around the tree with coffee and breakfast cake.

Tempe got a new iPhone from Ryan and a Peruvian artifact from Brennan and Booth.

Ryan got a new iPhone from Tempe and some really nice gortex gloves from Booth and Brennan.

Brennan got the exact watch she had been looking at from Booth and a Guatemalan necklace from Tempe and Ryan.

Booth got the exact watch he had been looking at from Brennan (apparently they were each pumping each other for information while giving information away) and a tie/sock set from Ryan and Tempe.

Brennan and Booth decided to take a drive leaving Ryan and Tempe alone with the breakfast dishes. Tempe was acting disappointed. She had wanted an iPhone and Ryan had downloaded a bunch of apps for her, but she was feigning disinterest.

After the dishes were done they settled in by the fire and the tree. Ryan finally asked her what the issue was.

"I just thought ... nothing." She was having a difficult time keeping a smile off her face.

"Tell me," he whispered in her ear.

"I assumed you were going to ask me to marry you this Christmas."

It took Ryan a nanosecond to realize that she had found the ring and was messing with him. He decided to mess back. "Why would you think that? I know how much you despise the thought of getting married again."

"Yeah," she hedged. "That's true. But with the house and all ... and me giving up North Carolina ... I just thought ..."

"Well, I didn't know that you resigned your position at UNCC."

She was silent for a moment thinking about another plan of attack. "Have you thought about it?"

"What?"

"Getting married."

"I've never been," he said with a straight face. "Not sure I want that to change. I'm pretty happy with the way things are. Don't know how they will change when you're home full time."

"I suppose I should have talked to you about it first."

"Maybe," he said. Luckily she was tucked in in front of him so she couldn't see his face. Ryan was no poker player and the shit eating grin was wider than the Mississippi. "But we'll work it out." Tempe just nodded. "Have you thought about it?"

"What?"

"Getting married?"

"Yeah, a little."

"What did you think about?"

"I thought that it was ... ya know ... not out of the realm of possibility."

"So if I asked, you would say what?"

"Are you asking?"

"Depends on the answer I'm going to get."

"You won't get an answer until you ask the question."

"True," he agreed. "Or you could ask, if you decide that's what you want. We're progressive enough for that."

Tempe decided to go all in. "Do you know that I have never been proposed to?"

"Pete? The countless before him."

"Pete was graduating. We were in his apartment packing up. He said and I quote - 'we should get married.' And we did. Never got an engagement ring ... I think our wedding rings were purchased at K*Mart."

"All romance that guy."

"Yeah, well twenty years of marriage didn't change that."

Ryan got her message. He slipped out from behind her and knelt down in front of her. He took both her hands in his and looked deeply into her eyes. "Temperance Brennan, I love you as I never thought possible. Would you please do me the honor of sharing your life with me? Will you marry me?"

Tempe had thought that she would refuse him if he asked just to be a pain in the ass (she worked at it), but that was so sweet and so out of character for him. She couldn't say no. "Yes." She leaned down and kissed him.

They settled back on the couch in each other arms. Tempe pulled the ring out of her pocket. "So can I put this on now?"

"And don't take it off."

"It's really shiny," she said admiring it on her hand.

"It should be." He laced his fingers through hers and admired his purchase on her hand. It looked good. "Merry Christmas!"

"I'm looking forward to 2011."

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Booth and Brennan had driven around the island and had gotten out and walked along a pier. They weren't really sure where they were. They talked a little but not about anything important. They were just happy to be in each other's company.

They stood out looking over the boats and the small beach. A small child completely bundled for the weather, probably less than two came running down the sand toward the birds that were skittering around the shore. A father and mother came running after him. The father scooped him up and tossed him in the air. The little boy laughed and screamed and struggled to get down. The father protectively followed along after the little boy as he explored the beach, picking up shells and chasing the birds. The mother never took her eyes off her husband and child. The smile on her face told her the story. It didn't matter what had happened in the past and the future was still unknown, but for this space of time on Christmas day they were a happy little family unit and this would be a memory in all their minds as the future came at them.

Booth turned to Brennan and took her in his arms. "Let's have a baby," he said.

"And the rest of it?"

"All of it ... soup to nuts."

"I don't know what that means."

"It means I love you and I want it all. Marry me, buy a house with me and let's have a baby."

She smiled. "Studies have shown that children with siblings are more socially adjusted."

"Now you want two? Or three?" He laughed. "I'm in."

"Me too." They kissed and held on to each other for a long moment happy in their decision. There was so much that would change in the not so distant future, but they were ready for it.

"Merry Christmas, Booth."

"Happy New Year, Bones."

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A/N: Happy Holidays to Everyone! Here's to the possibilities that 2011 will bring!