Hey, guys. Just a completely random idea that I put on paper (or on-screen). Spoilers for season 6, post-Hannah speculation.
Disclaimer: Bones isn't mine. Neither is You've Got Mail or When Harry Met Sally. (By the way, if you haven't seen When Harry Met Sally, I recommend watching it because it's amazing. And search up the end scene on YouTube, because this story might make just a bit more sense if you know what's going on.)
Please leave your thoughts at the end. Reviews are love :)
Because You're You
His head was spinning, but in that pleasant, light way that came after knocking back a few beers. Throwing back his head, he drained the rest of his fourth bottle and set it down on the table with a loud clink.
"I'll get you another one," Bones said, starting to rise.
He was probably pretty close to drunk but not so far gone that he'd allow another one. He was already going to have a mild hangover in the morning; get him another one, and he'd probably be passed out on his couch until noon. Catching Bones' sleeve, he said, "Nah, leave it."
"It's my birthday," she replied with a smile. "I think you're allowed to let yourself go for a celebration."
Well, that was true. Her birthday was definitely cause for celebration, and, to be honest, he wasn't looking to be sober any time soon anyway. His breakup with Hannah less than a week before still wasn't sitting quite right with him, and he hadn't had the time or the will to figure out what went wrong. The beers would go a long way toward taking his mind off the whole thing and focusing it on pleasant lightheadedness.
So he nodded, and a moment later, he was knocking back his fifth drink of the night. More fuzzy feelings swirled in his mind, and pretty soon, he was drunk. Or at least he thought he was drunk. It was getting kind of hard to tell, but if he judged by the way his vision swam a bit, he was long gone. Too far gone to realize that Bones hadn't taken even a sip from her first beer, that she'd just been fetching him drinks practically since they got to the Founding Fathers.
"Booth," she said finally, after watching him drain half of the fifth bottle. "Can we talk?"
"Aren't we talking?" he asked with a smile, leaning his head back against the booth. After a second, he leaned forward again, elbows on the table, and grinned widely at her. "Happy birthday."
At this, she smiled. If he'd been in possession of more of his wits, he probably would have noticed the obviously satisfied edge to her smile, and the subtle expectancy in her voice when she asked, "Are you drunk?"
He laughed. "Drunk? Me? No way." His fingers circled the rim of his bottle a couple of times before his sight went screwy and his finger couldn't make it all the way around anymore. "Nope, not me."
Her smile widened. "I think you are." She pushed his beer away to his half-hearted protest (because somewhere under all that fuzziness, he really did know that finishing off that drink wasn't a good idea), and folded her hands on the table. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Fire away," he answered, propping his chin up on his hand, his elbow on the table. Then, before she could answer, he added, "You have pretty eyes. You've always had pretty eyes."
A slight flush ran up along her cheeks, and his smile grew. Her gaze dropping self-consciously for a moment, she cleared her throat and asked slowly, hesitantly, "Booth, do you love me?"
A sober Booth would definitely have balked at this. A sober Booth probably would've tried to laugh it off, or would've answered 'yes, Bones, of course' with an 'in a partner way' tacked on at the end. A sober Booth would've gotten the hell out of that conversation in half a second flat. But a three-fourths of the way intoxicated Booth had pretty much no inhibitions left and said simply, "Always, Bones."
At his answer, her confidence seemed to grow somewhat. Sitting up just a bit straighter, she asked, "Do you still love me, I mean? After Hannah?"
Hannah. Painful memories of separation flitted momentarily across his mind, but he easily brushed them away behind the fog of drink. Instead, he focused on the question and said the first thing that came to mind, which was, "Yeah, Bones, always means always."
"You love me like you loved me before," she clarified. "The thirty, forty, fifty years kind of love."
"The sixty, seventy, eighty years type too," he agreed pleasantly, eyeing the beer bottle that was bent in half. "Huh, didn't know they made bottles shaped like that. Weird."
Bones' smile widened, and she explained, "You're drunk, Booth. Your perception of objects is skewed."
"Per—purse—" he tried.
"Yeah, that one." He gave her a grin that was supposed to be charming but somehow turned out goofy.
They were silent for a long minute before she broke the silence again. "Can I ask you something else?"
He nodded, which wreaked havoc on his vision, so he stopped. "Yeah, shoot."
"Hmm? Why what?"
"Why do you love me, I mean?"
His response was automatic. "Because you're you."
Her brow crinkled in confusion. "What? What does that mean?"
He actually stopped to think about that one, because there was something in her voice that told him his answer was important. As he was now, he didn't have the hope of a needle in a haystack of trying to work out why it was so important to her, but it was. So he stopped and thought about it, bracing his head on his palms to keep it from swaying.
A million things, really. He loved her because of a million things, because of everything. He loved her eyes and her laugh, her hair and her smile, her once-infuriating but now-endearing 'I don't know what that means.' He loved how she'd cut her hair, he loved how dedicated she was to her job, and he loved how she could pretend to have no emotions but at the same time have the biggest heart of anyone he'd ever known. He loved it all, but when he thought carefully about it (which was getting progressively more difficult to do as the alcohol flushed its way through his system), there were really only three things that were the most important.
If he'd been sober, he'd probably have gotten away with saying the bare minimum in a friends sort of way. If he'd been sober, he'd probably have talked a bit about how pretty she was (because friends could comment on that) and how lucky he was to have her as a partner. Hell, if he'd been sober, they wouldn't have been having this conversation at all, and some part of him suspected that she'd served him drink after drink just to get him loosened up enough for her to ask her question. Because she sure as hell wouldn't have said a sentence with the world love in it if she thought he'd remember it later.
But he wasn't sober. He was going along the road of getting totally plastered.
So he told her.
Her intelligence was what hit him first, when he met her on their first case together. Well, actually, her beauty was what hit him first, and then he was sort of blindsided by her brain on the way. Because seriously, who on earth would've expected a gorgeous body like that to go with an intellect like that? He'd met some impressive brains, and he'd met some pretty faces, but he'd never met someone with both, and a woman nonetheless. Maybe that was what intrigued him from the start, intrigued and infuriated him before he'd known her for even five minutes. And that was the start of it.
He'd hated it, really. He'd absolutely loathed her intelligence, the way she used words that made his head spin, the way she gave him that superior look of hers, the one that said he wasn't even worth bothering with. Through that very first case of theirs, he'd hated it so much that somewhere along the line, wires got crossed, and then suddenly, he'd been strangely attracted to it. Talk about a complete one-eighty; one moment he was glaring at her, and the next, he was actually interested every time she said 'anthropologically speaking.' It was the first time she confused him like that, and it definitely wasn't the last.
Meeting her again in the airport for their "first case" resumed the whole attraction-hate thing. He'd had so many months away from her that her sharpness had dulled in his memory. He definitely hadn't forgotten her (how did you forget a girl like that?) but his memory had softened her. Now, all over again, her intellect hit him over the head with a two-by-four, and he was left dazed and wondering what the hell kind of partnership he'd landed in.
And then he got used to it, every time she opened her mouth and talked her dictionary-speak, every time she threw logic into his face and expected him to deal with it. He even liked it, after a while, and soon enough, he loved it.
He loved the focused look she got in her eyes when she said words like 'subdermal hematoma' or 'fibromyalgia.' He loved the way her brow scrunched up when she was confused and how she threw out fact after fact to try to explain every single thing in the world. He loved how she occasionally used her intellect to rip apart arrogant assholes who tried to impress her or insult her. He even loved how she insulted him with her sharp logic, because he'd learned she never meant it to be offensive. She was just stating facts.
"You're so smart," he'd told her, more than once.
"Genetics," she'd answer logically. "And a healthy level of ambition."
He loved her lack of modesty too. It was such a Bones thing that it didn't even come off as arrogant anymore, because it was a fact. She was smart. End of story.
One time, he tagged along to one of her science conventions, just for the heck of it. Parker was supposed to be his that weekend, but Captain Fantastic and Rebecca had decided to take him to a trip in Florida, so those plans had been scrapped. He'd been at a loss on what to do until Bones offered him an extra ticket to a science convention she planned on attending. Well, he figured he could do worse than spend an entire day with Bones. A lot worse.
So he suited up, chose a more reserved tie color, and made sure his green and red socks were hidden safely from view. Bones had picked him up at his apartment in a bland gray formal skirt and dress shirt that still didn't manage to make her less appealing. Damn, that line that he'd drawn was going down the drain faster and faster every second.
They reached the convention with barely any time to spare, and once they'd squeezed into the lecture hall, it was packed and stuffy. Booth tugged at his collar as Bones tried to explain the topic of the lecture. He lost her at 'biotechnological research' and couldn't figure out heads or tails of anything for the rest of the presentation. He nodded off an hour through the lecture—which was impressive, really, that he'd even lasted that long—and only woke up when Bones poked him hard in the ribs. The people around him shot him disapproving looks, which made him automatically sink into his seat a bit and cough in embarrassment. But Bones grinned slightly at him in amusement, and he made an effort the rest of the way through to keep his eyes open.
Afterwards, they clapped politely, Booth thanked the Lord he'd managed to make it through without snoring, and Bones gushed about how interesting blah-blah technique was and how she wanted to try to integrate it into the Medico-Legal lab.
"You got all of that, Bones?" he asked incredulously, although he really shouldn't have been surprised.
She nodded. "Of course. I took notes too." And she showed him her five-page long lecture notes that he didn't even remember see her taking.
He chuckled. "That's great, Bones. But now that all that scientific mumbo-jumbo is over with, want to grab some lunch?"
"It wasn't mumbo-jumbo, Booth," she answered, her brow furrowing. "It was an important step in the field of research. The new technology could possibly be revolutionary in many different studies, not just biology and physiology."
He groaned. "Don't throw those words around, Bones. They make my head hurt."
"Am I correct in inferring that you are not involved in the scientific field then?"
Both of them turned at the voice to find a man about their age, his suit impeccably tailored and pretty much everything about him screaming 'rich, smart guy.'
After a moment, Booth laughed and nodded. "Yeah, I'm not into that squint stuff."
The man raised an eyebrow. "Squint?" He sounded as if he didn't know whether to be offended or intrigued.
"Term of endearment," Booth assured him, grinning his easy grin in hopes of thawing some of the ice in the guy's eyes. "It's a…" He glanced at Bones and asked, "What's the word you use?"
"Sobriquet," she supplied helpfully.
The man's eyebrow descended, and the look in his eyes hardened even further, if that was possible. "I see."
Jeez, what was his problem?
The man turned abruptly away from Booth and extended his hand to Bones. "Jerome Richards, Ph.D. I couldn't help but notice you were taking notes."
Bones smiled. "Doctor Temperance Brennan," she answered. "And yes, I had facts I wanted to remember, so I wrote them down."
The eyebrow went up again. "Doctor?"
"I'm a forensic anthropologist," she explained. "And you are…?"
"Neurologist," Richards said smoothly, "but my interests run in several areas." His gaze flitted derisively over to Booth. "Are you here with him?"
Booth bristled at the guy's arrogant tone, but Bones obviously hadn't caught on yet. "Yes," she answered, smiling still, "he's my partner."
"FBI," Booth put in, hoping to even the playing field even a little. They had Ph.D.'s and IQs the size of Texas, but he had a gun. That had to count for something.
Richards turned pointedly away from him, obviously excluding him from the conversation. Bones glanced at the clear space between the neurologist and Booth, her brow furrowed.
"You didn't think it would be better to bring someone more…on your level to a convention like this?" Richards asked with thinly-veiled contempt.
Bones' confusion deepened, and she said automatically, "I don't know what that means."
"Oh, nothing," Richards said, his voice silk smooth. "I'm just wondering what an obviously brilliant mind like you is doing with a man like him."
Booth had to clench his hands to keep from socking the guy right there for his downright rude implications. Way to be subtle, Richards.
"Booth is good company," Bones said slowly, still not understanding.
Richards snorted. "He slept through nearly half of the presentation."
Finally, she seemed to catch some of the disdain in his voice, and her eyes hardened. "What are you getting at?"
Richards smiled thinly but didn't answer, so Booth forced out through gritted teeth, "He's wondering what a smart woman like you is doing with a guy like me. You know, because my IQ's probably half of yours."
"That's not accurate," she said, clearly puzzled. "Your IQ can't be—" And then realization set in, and Booth recognized that look in her eyes. The one that said get the hell out of her way or she'd rip you to shreds.
Richards obviously didn't get the memo. Mockingly, he turned to Booth and exclaimed, "Yes, your IQ can't be that low!"
Bones must have caught the sarcasm full-on this time, because Booth didn't even have the time to snap out a protest. "I don't appreciate you insulting my partner," she said stiffly, her eyes narrowing.
Richards looked surprised. "I wasn't insulting, per se…"
"Please refrain from commenting on his intelligence like that, then," Bones said, her voice hard. "Your tone implies that you're trying to demean him."
Richards raised an eyebrow arrogantly. "And how can you tell that?"
Well, it was obvious to anyone with ears, Booth thought sourly. Again, before he could say anything, Bones jumped in. "Aren't you aware when you're being pompous?" she asked a bit coldly. "Or do you have no control over it?"
He actually looked a little surprised at that. "Pompous?"
"You're acting pretentious because you have a Ph.D. and Booth doesn't." She huffed a bit and crossed her arms. "I'd appreciate it if you didn't assume he was unintelligent simply because he doesn't have a doctorate."
"Well, he doesn't have a doctorate," Richards said, just a bit smugly. "Therefore…"
Bones bit into his open-ended statement with a glare. "A logical fallacy," she said icily. "You're denying the antecedent. Not having a doctorate doesn't mean you're inferior. And having a doctorate doesn't make you superior."
Holding back a smile, Booth rocked back on his heels for a moment, relaxing. It was almost worth being insulted, watching Bones tear at the guy like this. Made him feel special, that she thought he was important enough to defend.
After a second, Richards smiled and narrowed his eyes. "I like girls like you, you know. You're smart and you know it. You wouldn't be willing to go for a drink, would you?"
Here was a guy obviously expecting to have women falling at his feet. Booth scowled, because as much as he thought snobby smart guys weren't Bones' type, she surprised him all the time. What if she developed some weird attraction to the guy because of his Ph.D. and IQ of ten thousand? He resisted another urge to punch the guy in the face, an urge that was growing stronger by the second.
Turns out, he didn't have much to worry about in the first place. Bones' eyes narrowed, and she said bitingly, "I'm sorry, but I don't find you very attractive. Your playground bullying techniques don't impress me, nor does your blatant flirting." Her eyes raked him up and down, and she added, "Your mandible is too large, your eyes are off-center, and your arms and legs are curiously disproportionate. It's a wonder how you became such a flirt after all this time. Haven't you gotten discouraged yet?"
All of this in her clipped, analytical voice, so it sounded like she was making observations rather than insults. Booth had to bite back laughter at the look of sheer surprise on the neurologist's face.
"Come on, Booth," Bones said, turning on her heel. "I'm hungry."
And that was that. It was only later in the SUV that he looked over at her and said, "Thanks, Bones," because he hadn't quite known how to say it before.
She looked back at him, clearly perplexed. "For what?"
He shrugged. "You know. For defending me against Dr. Smart back there."
"People who flaunt their intelligence so obviously are insecure about their abilities," she answered easily. "Why else would he boast about it like that?"
"Maybe he's just too secure about his abilities," Booth muttered. "But, anyway, thanks for, uh…that."
She shrugged nonchalantly and said, "You defend me all the time, Booth. It's only natural to return the favor."
And that was the end of it.
How She Understood Him
She understood him like no one else ever had, which was somewhat of irony because she was known for misunderstanding people left and right. But there was something about him that she could read just right, because she knew with him. Knew things other people didn't, like when to press him and when to back off. She had somehow always known.
From the beginning, he'd been shut off from people. Friendly, outgoing, a popular guy, sure. But never open. He told people pieces and kept the rest of his story to himself, and he'd always carried his past alone. But then he'd run into Bones, and it had changed, slowly, subtly. He hadn't even noticed it, really, but one day he was telling her about the dog he'd had, and that snowballed into telling her about his gambling past and his history as a sniper in the army. By the time they hit the third year of their partnership, she'd known more about him than anyone else in the world.
And he'd been okay with that. He'd always been embarrassed to talk about his past, but there was a kindred spirit in Bones, and he'd subconsciously sensed that. She had her own past, and it was just as horrible as his, if not more so. They couldn't judge each other because they were so alike. Judging her would've been like judging himself.
He hadn't told Hannah any of this, which was so, so wrong of him on so many levels. She was living with him, she ate his food and slept in his bed, and she knew almost nothing about him. At least, she knew none of the things about him that really mattered, like the fact that his father drank or the fact that he had a cosmic balance sheet, or even the fact that he liked his socks on the left side of the drawer, thank you very much. She knew none of it, and that was why when the sniper came to D.C., he ran to the only person who had ever known the real Seeley Booth.
He showed up on her doorstep at two in the morning, shivering and disoriented, glancing over his shoulder because some of that soldier paranoia was creeping back up on him. She answered the door sleepily and in her pajamas, her eyes widening when she caught sight of him.
"Booth! What are you doing here?"
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry." He stared at her helplessly, his teeth chattering and his fingers twitching nervously for his gun. He clenched his fingers into fists to keep from taking the familiar, reassuring weight of his weapon in his hand. "I didn't know who else…"
He honestly didn't know what he'd do then if she turned him away. All he knew was that his mind had been thinking up crazy things over the past forty-eight hours, he hadn't slept in all that time, and everything was suddenly catching up to him at once. He couldn't be left alone—he didn't trust himself alone—because then the thoughts would creep up, and so would the doubts, and then he'd be sitting on the curb in the rain, his head in his hands, and anything could happen. Bad things.
But she had always known him, hadn't she? He had counted on it. Her eyes worried, she opened the door wider and let him in, trailing after him anxiously.
"Are you okay, Booth?" she asked, eyeing his soaking wet suit and bedraggled tie. "What happened?"
He stood uncertainly in the middle of her living room, trying to focus on her and her apartment, but all he could think about was how she'd locked the door behind her (his only viable escape route) and how all the windows were bolted securely from the inside. And he was standing too close to the windows, in clear view of the building across from them. He was playing too easy a target, and the hairs on the back of his neck rose instinctively.
"Sorry," he muttered, moving to draw the curtains across the windows. That done, he stood tensely by her kitchen counter, out of sight of the windows.
"Booth," she said slowly, her brow furrowed, "are you all right?"
He scrubbed a hand through his wet hair and repeated, "Sorry. I just…" He didn't know what he was doing there. Hell, he hardly knew what was even happening to him at the moment, just knew that it was something bad because he felt like hell. Disoriented and high-strung like he hadn't been in years.
"Sit down," she said after a moment, her tone firm. "I'll get you a towel and some water."
She reappeared a moment later, handing him first the towel and waiting as he dried his hair before handing him the glass of water.
"Sorry," he said apologetically, glancing at the puddle in her living room. "I'm making a mess, dripping everywhere."
"Water dries," she replied dismissively. "What's wrong with you, Booth? Why were you outside? It's pouring."
He shook his head and shrugged helplessly. "I couldn't…I couldn't stay there. At my apartment, I mean."
Her eyebrow rose fractionally. "Hannah?"
"She's fine," he said. "It's just…I can't talk to her, you know? I can't talk to her about this."
"This?" Bones repeated, taking the glass of water from him and setting it aside. "About what?"
At this, he hesitated. He'd come to her because she knew him, yes, but he hadn't expected anything beyond that. Somehow, getting to Bones equated to safety to him. But now she wanted him to talk about—about what? He hardly knew what was wrong himself, and—
"Your alarm system isn't on," he said distractedly, his eyes on the console on the wall behind her.
She turned in confusion and followed his gaze. "I turned it off when you came in."
He rose and made his way over to the console, taking a wide, circuitous route to avoid the windows. "You should have it on," he said, his voice agitated. "It's dangerous. There could be anything. Anyone could come."
"Crime isn't bad in this area," she answered slowly, coming to stand behind him. He punched in the code that she'd given him years before and relaxed marginally when the green light blinked to red. He was still tense and jumpy, though, when he turned back to her, and he could tell by the look on her face that she knew something was wrong.
"Booth…" she said softly, touching his arm. His muscles were coiled so tightly that he nearly leaped out of his skin at the contact, and instant alarm shot across her face at his recoil. "Booth, what's wrong?"
He couldn't concentrate on her words as the soldier in him catalogued everything—the possible entrances, any viable escape route, anything that could be converted to a weapon. His mind flew around erratically, hopelessly out of control, until Bones slapped her hands on his face and forcibly wrenched his gaze on her.
"Booth," she said firmly, "sit down. That's an order."
An order. What a relief. Orders he could follow. Mechanically, he obeyed, sitting heavily on the sofa on the side with a smaller view of the window.
Bones took the seat right next to him, her knee jostling his. He looked at her after a moment, and she caught his gaze and held it.
"Booth, what's wrong?"
And then he was talking without meaning to. Her eyes had always done that to him.
"I don't know," he confessed, rubbing a hand through his hair again. "It's just—this case, you know? I feel like…like I'm back there. Back in Gulf War, or back in Afghanistan. I'm all paranoid again, and I'm counting my exits and entrances, and any little sound makes me want to draw my gun. And when we found the sniper's gun earlier today, when I picked it up…" He couldn't finish.
"You remembered the people you killed," she guessed, touching his arm reassuringly. "You remembered and felt guilty."
"No," he said angrily, yanking back from her touch. "If that was all, if that was what I felt, that would've been good. It would've been right, you know? But it wasn't only that. It felt right, Bones. I haven't shot a sniper rifle in over ten years, and the first time I pick one up again, it feels right? How absolutely wrong is that?"
"You fired rifles in Afghanistan," she argued.
"That was training, Bones," he answered bitingly. "That's not the same as going into the field, shimmying up in the grass to wait for your target, calculating all the calculations just right so you can put the bullet in a guy's brain. It's not the same." He took a shuddering breath and squeezed his eyes shut. "And you know what, Bones? You know what I realized this afternoon, holding that rifle in my hands? I miss it. I fucking miss it. I miss being a sniper, and that makes me as horrifying as that sniper out there in D.C. right now. I'm just like him."
And that was it, the true base of his fears. That he was just like the sniper they had on the loose, that he could snap like that and snatch up a sniper rifle and pick off three people just for the heck of it. Just because he missed it.
What the hell kind of person was he?
"You aren't like him," she answered slowly. Her hand reached for him, hesitated just above his arm, then drew back, like she wasn't quite sure if he wanted her touch or not.
"You aren't like him," she repeated firmly. "You don't want to kill people like that. You aren't a killer."
"Yes, I am," he bit out angrily. "Yes, I am. I've killed so many people before, Bones. What makes you think I can't do it again? When I miss it like that? That's just…that's just so wrong of me." So fundamentally evil of him, to want that thrill again, to feel the sleek finish of a sniper rifle under his hands and sight a target through the crosshairs and pull the trigger. Pull the trigger and know the bullet would fly straight and true.
Bones didn't hesitate this time; she grabbed his hand, ignoring it when he flinched away, and said lowly, fiercely, "Booth, you aren't him. The sniper is doing this for fun. He's bored, and he's killing people for fun, something you'd never do. You killed people because you had to, Booth. You were under orders, and the fact that you even feel guilty about all this already makes you a thousand times a better person than that sniper. You aren't him, Booth."
He sucked in a ragged breath and shook his head. "I miss it though, Bones. I hate myself for killing those people, I made up a damn cosmic balance sheet, and…and I miss it. How…why the hell is that?"
She was silent for a moment, and he was glad. Don't argue with me anymore, Bones. Just know that I could snap any moment, that I could be a sniper again and take down targets not because of orders but because I need that rush again. I need to feel that again. That heady, awful feeling of power, that charge of adrenaline that made his heart pound and his blood sing.
"What do you miss, Booth?" she asked finally, her reasonable voice on. Her voice of logic, the one that said 'give me the facts and nothing else.'
"I just told you—"
"Not exactly. You told me you picked up that sniper rifle and you missed it. What is it?"
"It?" He took a breath, then another. How could he put it, that appalling feeling, to words? "It's…it's…"
"Not killing people, is it?" she asked softly. "You don't miss killing people. You don't miss watching the bullet carve its way through their skulls, you don't miss the way their bodies go limp, you don't miss watching the blood splatter all over the ground, that blood so bright, so red—"
"Stop it," he breathed, shutting his eyes and clenching his fists. "Stop it." Stop dredging up memories that came too easily, horrifying easily.
"You don't miss that, do you?" she pressed.
He swallowed hard and felt faintly queasy now that he thought about it, thought about the targets he'd killed, thought about watching their blood spread under their bodies in puddles, puddles like water, only red.
"No," he whispered.
"I didn't think so," she said confidently. "He enjoys killing. He said so himself in the letters he keeps leaving at the scenes. He says he misses the thrill of a kill, misses seeing his handiwork. But you never enjoyed that."
He turned her words over in his head and sighed heavily. "I still miss it, Bones. I miss that rush too—the thrill of a kill. Isn't that the same thing? Isn't that the same damn thing as him?"
"A lot of people miss it."
He jerked and stared at her, startled, and she clarified hastily, "The rush of adrenaline. A lot of people crave that rush and put themselves in dangerous situations to feel it. It isn't abnormal, Booth, especially since you're a highly active person."
"I'm missing the…adrenaline rush?" he asked slowly.
She nodded matter-of-factly. "You're an adventurous person by nature, Booth. You enjoy the rush of feeling you get when epinephrine pumps through your system in the classic fight-or-flight response. It's a perfectly normal occurrence. Also, the occupation of a sniper—the unseen predator, playing the field from high above—would appeal to many men. Just because you liked it—just because you still like it—doesn't make you a cold killer, Booth. It just means you have desires common to many men: control, adventure, power."
"I liked being a sniper," he muttered, looking away. "That means I liked killing."
"It means you love your country," she countered firmly. "Booth, you were a sniper because you had to be. You liked being a sniper because of how alive you felt when you were one; adrenaline can do that to you. You're…" She hesitated for a heartbeat before continuing. "You're the best man I know, Booth. I know you. You aren't a killer. You aren't anything close to one."
He cradled his head in his hands, breathing deeply. Was it true? Was all he craved the adrenaline rush, nothing more? He wasn't longing to hold that sniper rifle again just because he was somehow subconsciously geared towards killing? It was because he liked the danger of it?
"I don't know, Bones," he said at last, helplessly. She made convincing arguments, but still…
"You're intensely moralistic," she said, squeezing his hand. "You probably feel guiltier about your past as a sniper than many others. You're at least trying to do right, Booth, don't you see that? The other sniper, he's completely destroying his cosmic balance sheet. You're fixing it. And that makes all the difference."
Her voice softened, and she added, "I know who you are, Booth. You're an amazing father with a son who loves you. You're a dedicated, capable FBI agent who works to bring killers like that sniper out there to justice. You like to wear mismatched socks and bright ties, and you like Thai, and you like your pizza with a thick crust. You like your fruit cooked, you like to play football, and you used to have a dog named Rex when you were young."
He nodded slowly. "So?"
"So?" she repeated. "So you have so much more than that other sniper has, Booth. You have people behind you—" she squeezed his hand "—and people who care about you. As long as that's true, you can't be him." She grinned wryly and said, "It's logically impossible."
And there was such faith in her words, such steady trust in him, that he believed it. He believed it, because she had known him, known what he needed to hear and told it to him.
"Thank you," he said quietly, and the line of tension in his shoulders slowly relaxed. The soldier in his head melted away into the shadows again, slowly but surely.
He spent the night on her couch. When he woke up to find that she'd settled next to him on the ground, her hand reaching up to hold his, neither of them said anything.
Bones had a heart. Other people had them, too, but not like hers. Cam had a heart, Rebecca had a heart, Hannah had a heart, but Bones had a heart. One like he'd never seen before, one that he wished everyone else could see because it was just so amazing. When people called her insensitive or emotionless, he wanted to sock them in the face, sure, but he wanted to rage at them too, to recount to them all the times Bones had proved, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that she cared.
He was ashamed to think that he'd been one of those people who'd looked at her on the surface and never bothered to dig deeper. He'd met her on that first case, made his judgment, and moved on. If he hadn't become her partner, he'd never have gotten the chance to find out who she really was, and what she was really hiding under those neat, compartmentalized thoughts. And that would've been the tragedy of his life, because she was the best thing that had ever happened to him.
Slowly, ever-so-slowly, he dragged her out of her shell. He chipped away at her walls and poked holes in her defenses, and he caught glimpses of her underneath it all. When she talked about her mother, when she'd learned that her real name was Joy, when she'd bonded with that dog, he'd seen it. He'd seen it and it had made him love her more, if that was even possible.
Seeing it had made him think he knew her, made him think knew her thoughts and desires, so he'd been stupid and hasty and he'd asked her to take that step with him. He'd still been running on pseudo-reality from his coma, and at Sweets' urging, at that kid's innocent and naïve view of love, all those feelings had come bursting out before he could stop them. He had seen that look in her eyes right after he kissed her though, and he'd known with sickening, sickening realization that he had never known her heart at all.
It was less clear after that. He knew she wasn't as emotionless as she let on, but it was harder to read her after that night, and it frustrated him to no end. He'd always been the one to see her heart, to see further than most people bothered to look, and now he couldn't. He'd hoped they'd get over that with their months apart, and Afghanistan had definitely changed his perspective on some things. But then adding Hannah to the mix had muddled matters up, and he'd been no closer to figuring out where Bones' heart had got to than before.
It had been a difficult few months. Smiling and trying to find that easy balance with Bones while deciding how much of his heart (all of it? none of it?) he was willing to let Hannah have at this time. Bones wasn't distant at all, just the opposite. She'd smiled at him every day, she'd gone for drinks with him, and she'd even made friends with Hannah. He'd thought then, just for a second, that her heart was clear again, and that it was moving on like he was.
All that had come crashing down around his ears the night he'd found her in the pouring rain, so, so close to losing it all to an oncoming car. He'd been scared out of his mind when he'd seen her standing there obliviously, and he could see she'd been shaken too. And then to top it all off, she'd sat there shivering in his passenger seat and told him what he'd always wanted but, at the same time, dreaded to hear.
He'd hoped she was joking. He'd frozen there for a second, wondering if she was just disoriented and if she was talking about something else. Please, God, don't do this to me, to her…
But one look at her had told him the truth. Her heart, hidden for so many months, was in her eyes, and he wished, wished to God that he didn't have to hurt her. When she'd cried like he'd never, ever seen her cry before, his heart had broken for her, for this beautiful, strong woman who had taken one blow too many.
He'd seen her heart then, even when he wished he hadn't. And somehow, it made him love her all the more for it, because she'd grown. She'd grown from a woman who knew nothing about popping her heart into overdrive to someone strong enough, brave enough, to tell him her feelings even when she'd known he could do nothing about them. Even as he'd hated her for telling him now—when things had been getting close to okay—he'd admired her, and he'd been proud of her for it.
That had been the beginning of the end for him and Hannah. It had been impossible to be honest with her after that, impossible for him to look at her and not feel intensely guilty for not telling her about his past with Bones. And that had given his own heart a jolt, and he'd realized that he hadn't fallen out of love with Bones and that he never would, damn it.
So he'd explained that to Hannah, and she'd predictably left him. It had been a gracious exit, though—no screaming or crying or throwing things, just quiet understanding—and he'd mused that in another life, without a certain forensic anthropologist in the picture, he would have loved Hannah unquestioningly.
The next week was Valentine's Day, and he was absolutely miserable. He'd been planning something romantic with Hannah, and not only was that not applicable anymore, it wasn't the least bit appealing either. The romantic movies on TV made him want to throw the TV remote into the screen, so he turned it off before he did any damage.
It wasn't even ten o'clock before his phone rang. He gave it a glance, debating whether to pick up or not. It could be Bones, but it probably wasn't. She hadn't called him in a long time; it was always him calling her or someone else from the lab giving him a heads up. It could be Hacker with a case, but he was even less inclined to take a look at a body than watch You've Got Mail. But duty was duty, so he flipped his phone open.
At that, he sat up straight on his couch and gripped his phone tighter. "Bones? Hey, I, uh…wasn't expecting you to call. What's up?"
"I was wondering if you could go to the lab to pick up some case files for me."
He paused. "What's wrong? Can't someone else do it?" Not that he wanted to sound like it was a burden, but he wondered why she called him when she could have called anyone else. He wasn't exactly on her best buddies list anymore.
He heard her sigh through the phone. "Angela and Hodgins are having a romantic getaway in Las Vegas, and Cam drove to Virginia for a case. I know you must be spending time with Hannah, but you're the only one in the area. I'm sorry."
He opened his mouth automatically to tell her that he and Hannah weren't together anymore, but the words sort of stuck to his throat and he was sidetracked by the nasal quality to her voice. Worried now, he asked, "Bones, are you sick?"
She sniffled heavily, and her subsequent sneeze answered that question. He stood and shoved on some jeans over his boxers before pulling on a long-sleeved shirt and grabbing his coat. "How long have you been sick?"
"I'm not sick."
"Liar." He was out the door before he even realized what he was doing, and then he stopped. What was he doing, going to her? It was almost scary, how automatic his reaction was without any conscious decision to move. What if she didn't want him over? Scratch that, she probably didn't want him over. But he couldn't just leave her there in her apartment alone sick on Valentine's Day, and she was probably pretty sick if she wasn't ignoring it and going to work anyway. And he wasn't up to moping around his apartment alone, so that was that.
"Booth?" She sneezed again, and he winced.
"Yeah, I'm on my way."
"Good. Thank you. Tell Hannah I'm sorry." Before he could answer, she continued. "The files I need are on my desk on the right. They should be labeled 'Fletcher, Gary' and 'Unidentified, 1862.'"
"Mm-hmm." Yeah, right. He had absolutely no intentions of enabling her. God knew she probably needed her rest if she was this sick, and he wasn't going to be the one to help her work herself to death. He climbed into the SUV and asked, "Have you eaten anything?"
She paused for a moment before answering, "I'm…still in bed."
Oh. That bad. "What do you have?"
"A bad cold, that's all."
Uh-huh. Sure. That was why she sounded like she had an eighteen-wheeler shoved up her nose.
"I'll be there soon," he said, pulling out onto the street.
He flicked on the sirens just because he was feeling impatient, and within twenty minutes, he was pulling up to her apartment building and pocketing his keys as he walked inside. After a moment of hesitation, he knocked on her door and put on his best smile.
When no sound came from inside, he knocked again in growing concern. "Bones? You in there?"
No answer. He was seriously starting to worry now. What if she'd passed out? What if she'd slipped and fallen or something? What if—
"That was fast," she said as she opened the door. She was holding a box of tissues in one hand and wiping her nose with a tissue in the other. She really did look awful, with her eyes red and puffy, and her nose running. He winced at the unhealthy pallor to her skin.
"Bones, how much sleep did you get last night?" he demanded, studying her anxiously. "You look terrible."
"I feel fine," she answered, sniffling.
"I don't believe you," he declared, pushing his way into her apartment before she could invite him in. Her apartment was dark, all the blinds and curtains drawn. "It's like a cave in here," he said, raising an eyebrow.
"Light hurts my eyes," she explained, pausing to sneeze violently.
"Is that bad?" he asked in growing alarm. "That sounds bad."
She shook her head. "It's nothing to be worried about. Colds can cause light sensitivity, and so can the antihistamines I took earlier. It'll pass."
He nodded. "That's good."
"Yes, it is. Like I said, I'm fine." She turned to him and eyed his conspicuously folder-less hands. "Booth, where are my files?"
He shrugged. "I didn't get them."
"What, couldn't you find them? You should have called me so I could help you look for them—"
"It's not that, Bones," he said, shaking his head. "There's no way I'm letting you work when you're sick like this. You should be resting."
Annoyance crossed her expression, followed by exasperation. "Booth, I needed those files! I have several reports due tomorrow, and I haven't even started them yet! You have no right to make a decision like that, against my own judgment."
"Then who's going to make it?" he countered. "You obviously aren't looking out for your own well-being, so I have to." He took her arm and dragged her forcibly to her couch. "Now, sit. I'll get you some water."
"I don't want any—"
"Do you still keep your cups in the same place?" He opened the cabinet and nodded. "Yeah, you do."
He filled up a glass of water for her and brought it back. "Here."
"Thank you," she said with a sigh, accepting it after a moment. She took a couple of swallows before setting the glass down on the coffee table, and he took a seat next to her. He watched her for a minute before she turned to look at him, her lips pursed.
"What?" he asked warily, wondering what her look meant.
"What are you doing here?" she answered.
He stared at her in confusion. "Is that medication affecting your memory or something? You asked me to come, Bones."
She shook her head. "No, I didn't. I asked you to bring me my files, not stay."
"Do you not want me to stay?" he asked slowly, getting ready to protest. Because he sure wasn't leaving her alone in this state.
She shook her head again. "No, it's just…don't you know what day it is?"
"Valentine's Day," he answered promptly. "How could I forget? There are a million romantic movies playing on TV."
Her gaze confused, she furrowed her brow and turned to face him more fully. "What about Hannah? Aren't you two planning something to do? It's an important day for couples, and I would have thought…"
He cleared his throat and decided that it was about as good a time as any to tell her. "Hannah and I broke up, Bones."
Her head jerked up, and she stared at him with wide eyes. "What? When?"
He shrugged. "Last week. It was a mutual thing. It just wasn't working anymore."
"You were good together," she protested weakly. "You said…" She hesitated for a moment before pressing on. "You said she wasn't a consolation prize."
"She wasn't," he agreed. "But I didn't really lose, Bones, so there wasn't any need for a consolation prize." He glanced at her uncertainly. "I didn't lose, right?" Because in the car there, in the rain, he'd seen her heart, and he'd known that he hadn't misjudged as badly as he thought he did that night he told her she was the one. Maybe he hadn't been too far off the mark after all.
She stared at him for a long moment, her gaze unreadable. He wondered what she was thinking, wondered if by saying that, he was somehow accepting her feelings and acting on them. Oh God, she wouldn't think he was pressuring her or anything, would she? She wouldn't think that he was ready to get together immediately, did she? Because he definitely wasn't ready for any type of relationship now, not so soon after Hannah.
He cleared his throat. "Never mind. Forget I said that."
She nodded gratefully, and he knew then that she wasn't ready either. Neither of them were ready to address any of the more touchy issues, and that was just fine with him. He'd rather work on regaining their partnership and friendship first anyway.
"So," he said, after a discomforting silence, "did you eat anything?"
She shook her head. "I just—ah-choo!"
He chuckled. "Okay, I'll make you something."
"There's nothing in the refrigerator."
Making a face, he went to the front door, grabbed the bag he'd left there, and brought it back to show her. "I figured as much, so I brought some stuff over. You want soup?"
"No, I'm feeling a little nauseous—"
He ignored her and shook out the ingredients onto her kitchen counter. "You'll love it. My grandfather used to make it for me when I got sick. It's as good as medicine."
"Hopefully it'll taste better," she grumbled, settling down on the couch with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders. After organizing the ingredients, he turned on her TV to keep her (and himself) entertained, and went about making the soup. It was harder to remember the recipe than he thought it would be, and he had to make up some parts, but all in all, it turned out pretty good. As good a way to start Valentine's Day as any.
"Here," he said an hour later, setting the steaming bowl on her coffee table. "Bon appétit. How's it smell? Good?"
Slowly, she sat up and rubbed her nose. "My nose is congested; I can't smell anything." At his exasperated sigh, she conceded, "But it looks good."
He beamed at her and handed over a spoon. "Eat up. I won't let you leave until you finish it all."
With a huff, she stirred the soup for a moment with the spoon as he counseled, "Be careful, it's hot."
"I know it's hot," she said irritably. "Light sensitivity doesn't constitute blindness; I can see the steam."
"Okay, okay, just don't burn yourself."
"I hope you didn't make a mess of my kitchen," she muttered before taking a sip. He held his breath right up until the moment her eyes brightened, and then he knew he'd done well.
"Hey, Bones, what's that supposed to mean?"
She shrugged. "I didn't expect it to be this good." Another sip, and she added, "It really is delicious, Booth."
Grinning widely, he settled down next to her and glanced at the TV. "What's on?"
"A movie called When Harry Met Sally," Bones answered promptly. "It started thirty minutes ago."
"Oh, Rebecca loves this movie." Booth leaned back into the couch and propped his feet up on the coffee table. "She made me watch it a billion times."
Sipping the soup steadily, Bones remarked, "I don't understand how they keep meeting each other like this, though. It's statistically impossible for two people to have that many coincidental reunions."
Booth laughed. "It's a romantic movie, Bones. And it's called fate."
"It's unrealistic," she sniffed, and then took a moment grab a tissue and sneeze. Wiping her nose, she added, "But I guess it makes for a good movie."
"It does," he agreed, and kicked back to watch the rest of the movie. Somehow the thought of watching another happy couple's life story when he was single was more appealing when Bones was sitting next to him. And, he thought, it could be worse. He could've been just like Harry, meeting the girl he loved only randomly and engaging in a sort of love-hate relationship. Instead, he'd had seven good long years with Bones, most of them happy, this last one with its ups and downs. But he'd had time with Bones, nonetheless, and that was better than nothing.
She finished off the soup with a contented sigh, and he took the bowl back to wash it in the kitchen sink. By the time he was finished cleaning up, they'd reached the end scene of the movie, the part Rebecca had always cried over because it was 'just so damn good' according to her. Booth flopped back down next to Bones, and they sat through Harry's confession and Sally's crying, and Booth decided that it wasn't that cheesy after all. It was actually kind of sweet because he hadn't seen it in a while; after sitting through that same scene with Rebecca twenty times, it had gotten kind of old. But now, it fit the mood of Valentine's Day perfectly.
"That was very sweet of him," Bones said as the end credits began to roll.
"Sweet?" Booth echoed in surprise. "Never thought I'd hear you saying that word in association with a guy."
She shrugged. "What? It was sweet. Just because I don't believe in love doesn't mean I can't recognize romantic moments, Booth. How else would I write about Kathy and Andy in my books?"
Well, that was true. He nodded, handed her a tissue as she sneezed, and said after a moment, "Just imagine if that was our moment, Bones. If I'd caught you like that at the stroke of midnight, just the perfect time, and I knew you'd listen to me." He glanced at her hesitantly and added quietly, "I know what I would say."
She turned her head, and her eyes caught and held on his. It was incredible, what this look of hers did to him, when he could see her heart right up there in her eyes. Anyone who had ever seen this scorching gaze of hers could never say she had no heart because it glowed in her eyes like sunshine and lit up her face like the sky. When she looked at him like this, he thought maybe, maybe her big, beautiful heart might be his. Maybe he hadn't been wrong all this time, and maybe she felt for him even half of what he felt for her.
And then again, maybe it was all just wishful thinking.
"You never told me," she said quietly.
"Told you what?" he asked, forcing himself to enunciate. It was definitely getting harder not to slur his words, and even though he gripped the edge of the table tightly, the room was still spinning. Oh, those beers were not going down well.
Her lips moved again, and slowly, the words reached him. It took him another few seconds to process them, and by then, she was smiling at him in amusement, and he lost his train of thought as he realized all over again how pretty her smile was.
He realized he'd been staring dreamily at her face and snapped back. "Huh? What?"
She laughed and the sound took a moment to reach his ears. "I asked you what you would've said. You told me if we were like Harry and Sally in the movie, you knew what you'd say to me. What would you say?"
Her voice was amused, light, but her eyes were serious. How on earth he could still read that while his vision was whirling, he had no idea. But she was serious about something, so he tried to pull together what mental faculties he had left and answer her.
"Well," he said slowly, leaning his head back on the booth again. "Let me think."
He couldn't remember a thing about Harry and Sally, whoever the hell they were. After a blank moment, he glanced at her apologetically, and she looked down away from him.
"You don't remember," she said quietly.
"It's fine," she assured him. "You're drunk. I wouldn't expect you to be able to recall much."
"No, I…" He hated disappointing her. "Bones, give me a hint, would you?"
She sighed heavily. "Well, we watched When Harry Met Sally together on Valentine's Day. In the end scene, Harry confessed to Sally that he loved her. It was written in a very romantic manner, and you said you knew what you'd say to me if I had been Sally."
He continued to stare at her for a heartbeat before, thankfully, something clicked, and his eyes brightened. "Oh, right." He missed the flash of anticipation on her face as he leaned his elbows heavily on the table. "I remember now."
"So?" she prompted after a moment. "What would you say?"
He cleared his throat and paused as his stomach turned, threatening to dump its contents right then and there. After his gut settled again, he answered slowly, "I would say…"
And the rest of his inhibitions, which were already in pretty shoddy condition, crumbled, and he said honestly the words he'd never have said to her face if he were sober.
"I would say I love you. Yeah, that's what I'd say. And then I'd say I love how you're the smartest person I've ever known. I love how you're the only one who really gets me, and how you've got this huge, open heart that you keep saying you don't have, and how you get along with Parker like no one else does. I love how you were the only thing keeping me going in Aflaniman—"
"Afghanistan," she corrected.
"—you and Parker, and how you've always helped me when I needed it. I love how you look at me sometimes when no one else is looking. I love how gorgeous you are. I love how we could spend the whole night together doing nothing more than watch Order and Law—"
"Law and Order—"
"—and eat Mai—"
"—and play Babble until we got cross-eyed—"
He nodded amiably, not really paying attention to what she was saying. "I love how you use these huge words that drive me crazy sometimes. I love how you've always been fair to me, even the times when I was a jerk." He took a breath. "And I would say I love you."
"You already said that."
He shrugged and gave her a charming grin, or at least he tried to. "Bones, you know, with you, I can't say it fluff."
"Enough, you mean?" she guessed, smiling wryly.
He thought for a moment before nodding fuzzily. "Yeah, that's the word. I think."
She smiled again, but it had a tinge of sadness to it. "You're drunk, Booth."
"Yeah," he agreed slowly. "I think I am."
"So I can't take anything you say at face value."
"Sure you can." He leaned forward again and caught her eyes. "Don't they say that the things you say when you're drunk are truths that you're trying to suppress?"
"Do they say that?" she asked.
He nodded. "Something like that. I think. I don't remember." It took too much effort to even remember the last sentence he'd said, let alone wherever he'd heard that from. So he just nodded again and said, "You can believe me or not, Bones. It's true, though."
She smiled again and asked, "Booth, are you going to remember any of this tomorrow morning?"
He smiled too, goofily, and shook his head. "No, probably not. I'm a terrible drunk. Must be the genuses. The geneses. Gensus."
"Yeah. Apartmently, I didn't get my dad's ability to drink like a fish and still have enough sense to…" He couldn't remember the rest of his thought.
"I think you mean 'apparently,'" Bones corrected with a slight smile. "And since you won't remember this tomorrow, I just want to…"
He forced his eyes to focus on her. "To…?"
Before he could ask any further, she'd leaned across the table to press her lips against his. He was too surprised and dizzy to ask her what on earth she was doing. Instead, he pulled her closer, breathing her in, tasting her sweet lips, feeling the moment like he'd always imagined. There was no way in hell his beer-scrambled brain was capable of remembering why exactly this was bad idea, so he didn't even try. He just kissed her back with all the bursting emotion roaring in him and pulse thundering in his ears and all the love, love, love he had.
She broke the kiss with a gasp, leaning her forehead against his with his eyes closed. He gazed at her, gripping her arms because the world was spinning again, and whispered, "Happy birthday."
She smiled. "Thank you."
He dipped his head and kissed her again, because he was drunk and because he could. He kissed her until she broke away again, her eyes bright and dark all at once.
"I love you too," she said, gripping his hand. "But I don't think engaging in a romantic relationship would be a good idea. I just…It hurts too much, and I don't know how to take it. Not now. I don't know if I'll ever be ready, Booth."
And he knew she was telling him because he wouldn't remember it five minutes from now, let alone tomorrow. A part of him felt like crying, a part understood what he was losing by not remembering; another part—a part all fogged up by drink—couldn't find the will to care.
Somehow, he found the right thing to say anyway, even through the haze. "You know I'll be waiting for you, Bones. Even if it takes you forever."
Her smile was the last thing he saw before the room spun one too many times and he passed out.
He woke up the next morning with his skull pounding and his stomach churning. Oh God, he must have had some late night. What the hell had he done, downed all the beer at the bar? He felt awful.
A voice. A woman's voice. In his bedroom.
He remembered Hannah leaving. He could have sworn Hannah had left. Oh, damn it, he hadn't…? Not some random girl…
"Booth? Can you hear me?"
Relief pounded powerfully through him as he recognized the voice. "Bones?"
"Yes. Who else?"
He turned to find her standing at the edge of his bed, a glass of water in her hands. "Here, drink this. You'll feel better."
"I don't feel like drinking anything right now," he groaned, but he took the water obediently. It washed some of the lingering taste of alcohol down his throat and cleared his head just a bit. "What happened?"
"You don't remember anything?"
If he'd been sober, he'd have noticed the careful way she was scrutinizing him, as if to make sure he really had no recollection of the night before. But as he was, he just shook his head, groaning when his headache spiked, and muttered, "Nope. Did I do anything embarrassing? Tell me I didn't."
"You didn't." There was an edge of relief to her voice, but he didn't dwell on it. "I'll get you some breakfast," she offered, her voice lighter.
"No granola bars," he said. "I'm not in the mood for granola bars or oatmeal."
She chuckled. "Don't worry, Booth. I'll run down to the store at the end of the street."
With that, he watched her leave, closing the door of his bedroom behind her. Something about something was bothering him, nagging at the corner of his mind. He tried to focus on it and couldn't. Something about the night before? Oh, he'd better not have done anything Bones could blackmail with later. Oh, jeez…
The door opened again, and Bones stuck her head through. "Booth?"
He glanced up. "Yeah?"
"Do you want waffles or pancakes?"
"With blueberries, right?"
"Okay. I'll be right back."
"Are you sure I didn't do anything embarrassing last night? I didn't say anything?"
There was a moment of silence, and he saw something flit across her face momentarily. Then it was gone before he could study it, and she spoke, with a quiet, knowing smile. "Positive, Booth. You didn't do or say anything embarrassing."
He nodded and yawned. "It's too bad I don't remember. Must have been some night."
Her smile widened, and he could see that she was remembering something good, and he wished he could remember it too. Her voice quiet, she agreed, "Yes, Booth. Yes, it was."