A/N: Merry Christmas to all of my readers and friends! For the record, I wanted to get this posted around the time I ended up posting Ch. 5 so that it would still be Christmas Day for those of you who are abroad. As it is, I'm pushing it to the wire getting it up before the end of my Christmas. Stupid holiday plans keeping me from writing!

Thanks to ProfeJMarie, jenlovesbones and stephaniew, each of whom quelled my fears about the content of this chapter in different ways. Ladies, you're all amazing! Thank you and Happy Holidays!

To lalaurala-bones - thanks for being the first one to chime in and say that you understood that my getting it posted in time for Christmas outside of the US was likely not probable...and promptly forgiving me for it. I think that you secretly just wanted to see how many updates I'd post on your birthday. *wink* Hope your 25th is as "amazing" as you are!

Disclaimer: Unfortunately, Santa did not put rights to Bones in my stocking. Those of you who requested I get snowed in again, however, are getting your Christmas wish. I'm set to get 4-10 inches between now and Monday...

A Christmas Miracle


He awakes in Kabul, Afghanistan and begins his day the same way he's started every day since his arrival. He uses a red pen to cross off the day on a calendar. Like each red mark before it, this "x" gets him one day closer to being home again.

He puts on his fatigues and, gathering his gear, heads off on patrol. Working with the locals has been interesting. The language barrier is frustrating. Nothing ever translates the way it's supposed to. He's had to do a lot of hand-over-hand training.

He's just outside of the marketplace when he sees her. Somehow, just looking at her he knows she's going to be trouble. Blonde hair and denim, he finds himself doing precisely what he promised he wouldn't - playing the hero. Maybe it's years of protecting others, maybe it's the innocence of her face, he doesn't know. It's just who he is. The white knight. The rescuer.

She's in shock when she looks up at him with her blue eyes. Before he knows what's happening, she's dragged him off behind a fig tree. Her mouth is hot. She presses it hungrily, needily, against his.

The man in him kisses her back. For a few heartbeats, it feels good to be wanted. To be pulled in by someone else rather than being pushed away. But he soon finds himself thinking of a different kiss. One where a different woman had been the aggressor. The woman. The only woman he wanted to kiss.

He puts his hands on her shoulders and pushes her away. "Whoa," he says. "Look, um, I mean I..." He rakes a hand through his hair and tries to compose himself. He takes a deep breath. "I'm flattered, okay? But I've got somebody back home." It doesn't matter that she isn't ready. That she may never be ready.

She takes a step toward him, her hips swaying seductively. She places a hand on his chest. "What she doesn't know won't hurt anything," she breathes wantonly as she looks into his eyes.

"Maybe not," he says, "But I'll know and that's all that matters."

The Return Home...

She feels nervous as she drags her suitcase behind her to meet him, listening as it clacks over the concrete. It's absurd, Temperance Brennan doesn't get nervous. Her heart skips a beat when she sees him approaching with his duffle. She doesn't know what comes over her.

A grin spreads across his face and he drops his bag to the ground as she runs to him. He takes her in his arms, surprised to feel the gentle pressure of her lips at the corner of his mouth. He knows that all it would take is turning his head just so...

But he doesn't have to. She bridges the gap for him. The kiss is tentative. Her lips brush his with a shy uncertainty. When his hands find the small of her back and the nape, anchoring her, she molds herself to him. Faith, baby. Sometimes all you need is a little faith.

The kiss grows and deepens, the way their partnership - their friendship - has over the last 6 years. When he feels the dampness on her cheeks, he pulls back but does not release his hold on her. "Bones?" he asks. Brown eyes drown in a sea of baby blue.

"I was wrong, Booth," she says. "Maybe I can change, maybe I..."

He wipes her tears away with a careful swipe of his hand. "I love you," he tells her. "I should have said that outside the Hoover but I was afraid you'd run..."

Her lids flutter closed. "But I ran anyway," she murmurs.

"Bones." He tilts her chin up. "Temperance, look at me." When she meets his gaze, he continues. "I love you. The way you are. I don't need you to change."

She searches the coffee-colored depths of his eyes. "You haven't moved on?"

"Bones," his voice is raw with emotion. He doesn't need to tell her about the journalist in the desert. He doesn't need to tell her that he now has evidence that he really is that guy. That he really did know. "I couldn't even if I had wanted to," he rests his forehead against hers and pulls her the hair's breadth that separates them closer. He feels the rise and fall of her chest sync with his own. Just before his mouth crashes over hers, he speaks what he knows without a doubt is the truth: "There could never be anyone for me but you."

Christmas Present...

Brennan stands at the buffet table with Angela, watching as her friend has carrots with her dip. She says nothing. She knows better than to criticize the eating habits of the pregnant artist.

"Bones," Booth says as he approaches. "Can we go to your office for a minute? I need to talk to you about the um..."

Brennan's eyes light up as she recognizes the glint in her partner and lover's eyes. "The Hughes case?" she finishes.

He snaps his fingers. "Exactly!" he says, his hand coming to rest on the small of her back. He nods sheepishly at their friend when she gives him the look letting him know he's been caught. "Angela," he acknowledges with a grin.

In her office, Booth steers her under the mistletoe. He flashes her his charm smile and she fires a little half grin back at him. "I've been wanting to do this ever since Caroline blackmailed you," he says, taking her in his arms.

She melts into the warmth of his embrace and tilts her painted lips up to him invitingly. But instead, he leans down and kisses her just below her ear. "I love this dress," he says, his fingers ghosting just above the heart-shaped neckline and causing her to shiver. He continues to tease her with soft touches for a few minutes more. He knows just how close to come to the line between work and home.

"Booth," her tone is pleading. She needs the warmth of his mouth on hers. To feel his touch as much as she needs to breathe. She's never wanted a man as badly as she wants him. Now. Always.

He rewards her, claiming her lips with 6 years worth of passion. His tongue touches hers lightly. His hands itch to pull the pins from her hair to run his fingers through it. He pulls back. "Let's get out of here," he says to her. He knows she hates these parties.

Her eyes sparkle mischievously. "We shouldn't," she says, quickly adding, "Do you think we could?" She eyes the room filled with donors and museum patrons.

He thinks of the time he let her think they were skipping out on the check and grins at her. He grabs her coat. "We've made an appearance. It's not like this is an awards dinner."

She puts her coat on and they amazingly manage to make it out the sliding door of the lab. They hurry outside and share another kiss at the curb as he attempts to hail a cab.

"Where to?" the cabbie asks as they climb in.

Booth gives him Brennan's address and kisses the anthropologist's forehead as she snuggles into his side.

At a red-light he looks over his shoulder. "Hey!" he says. "You're that author!" He reaches for the package on the seat beside him and pulls the paper away.

Sensing his desire to protect her kick in, she lovingly squeezes his knee. "It's okay, Booth," she says.

"Would you mind signing this for my ol' lady? She's a huge fan," he says as he hands her the book.

Brennan smiles and accepts it. "Who should I make it out to?" she asks kindly.

"Laura," he says. "Thanks. This is gonna make her Christmas!"

She takes a moment to write a brief note on the title page before flipping to the dedication. She hands the book to Booth. He's already seen it, but she does it anyway to remind him of something she doesn't always have the ability to say.

To my long-term partner and best friend, Seeley Booth. Not only is he my real-life Agent Andy Lister, he's also the man who taught me everything I never though I needed to know about love...

Christmas Several Years in the Future...

He awakens to an empty bed and a cry coming through the baby monitor. Blinking away the sleep from his eyes, he tugs on his bathrobe as he makes his way to the nursery. He looks into the first crib and finds it empty.

"Hey, buddy," he says as he scoops Henry into his arms. The infant quiets when shifted against his father's broad shoulder. "Where're Mom and Ms. Madeline?"

He makes his way down the stairs and into the living room. There, on the couch, bathed in the pale glow of the lights shimmering on the Christmas tree, he finds them.

Maddie lays on Brennan's chest, her mother's arm tucked protectively around her tiny body. He can't help but smile when the platinum of her wedding and engagement bands - rings she had once swore she had no interest in wearing - catch the light.

He settles into the leather chair in the corner. It's there that he counts his blessings - not the least of which are the woman sleeping peacefully on the sofa and the twins that occupy their parents arms. Just before he falls asleep he considers just how lucky he truly is. And how thankful he is for his Christmas miracle.

A/N: To quote our friend jenlovesbones, "Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Froehliche Weihnachten, and Merry Christmas to all of you . . . wherever you are."