Chapter 18

The Medico-Legal Lab team stood huddled around a high-top table in the far corner of the bar at Founding Fathers.

"Thank God this case is over," Angela said.

"Amen to that," her husband agreed. "I really hate those entitled, self-aggrandizing blowhard politicians. I'm glad we helped Booth throw the book at the slimy son-of-a-bitch."

"Where is Booth, anyway?" Cam asked.

"He's at the Hoover," Brennan supplied. "Finishing the processing of the Congressman's arrest."

"I'm surprised you're not there with him," Sweets said.

Angela raised an eyebrow waiting for her friend's response.

"I had some things I had to do at that lab," Brennan answered. "And it made sense for me to go back and do that. I've already finished my part of the paperwork in the Congressman's case. He's meeting us here." She glanced down at her phone on the table, checking the time. "He should be here any minute."

As if on cue, the agent in question came walking through the door.

"The next round's on me!" he called as he walked up to the table. He leaned in and kissed Brennan's cheek as if it were the most commonplace occurrence.

Cam looked at Angela, who simply smiled and raised her eyebrows.

Jack and Arastoo exchanged a glance, and Sweets very nearly choked on his Long Island Iced Tea.

Booth looked up from Brennan to see four stunned faces and a grinning Angela.

"What?" he asked. "I thought you guys would be more excited. This is a big one in the 'W' column. A celebration is definitely in order. He sat down in the empty chair next to his partner as she handed him his drink and he took her hand.

"Oh, we're happy all right, Big Man," Cam finally spoke up. "Just a little surprised is all."

"Surprised?" Booth asked, truly not following.

Loving the idea of picking up on this kind of thing before Booth, Brennan leaned over and said to him in a loud whisper, "You kissed me when you came in… and now you're holding my hand."

"So," Booth said. "I do that all the time."

"Yes," Brennan agreed, "but not in front of them."

Booth looked at Brennan with wide eyes. When had he gotten so comfortable with their affection that he didn't even think twice about displaying it… even in front of the squints?

"Well," Brennan offered, "we did agree that we weren't keeping it a secret."

"So much for not making an announcement," Booth replied with a self-effacing chuckle.

They began discussing the case as everyone fell into their comfortable camaraderie. Everyone, that is … except Sweets.

"Wait," he sputtered, staring incredulously at the partners. "You're together, as in… a couple… and you didn't feel the need to mention this?"

"It was a natural progression," Brennan answered.

"And we didn't want to make a big deal of it," Booth added.

"Not make a big deal of it?" Sweets looked as if he were about to burst a blood vessel. "Are you kidding me? This is a big deal… this is a very big deal."

"Don't look so shocked, Sweets," Angela said. "It's not like we didn't all see it coming."

"You knew," Sweets said, turning his suspicious eye to Angela.

Suddenly four sets of eyes were on the artist, waiting for her to explain herself.

Brennan leaned back into Booth's embrace and the couple smiled as they watched the scene play out before them. Both were grateful to Angela for taking them out of the hot seat.

"Only for a few days," Angela answered meekly. "Hey," she went on, more assertively. "She's my best friend. I'm entitled to a little advance information."

"I can't believe you didn't say anything," Cam replied.

"Dude," Jack said, his blue eyes sparkling behind a sardonic grin. "She didn't even tell me."

"They wanted everyone to figure it out on their own," Angela said. "I think that's really romantic."

Arastoo sat back not finding it his place to comment, but he was just as shocked as everyone else.

Sweets, on the other hand, was still flabbergasted. He was still grousing under his breath and the team had turned their attention to him.

"I can't believe they didn't tell me," he lamented. "I can't believe I didn't see it. Why didn't you tell me?" he asked, turning to face the couple. "Hey," he said to the others assembled. "Where did they go?"

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"You think they'll be very angry that we skipped out on them?" Brennan asked, holding Booth's hand as they made a run for his SUV.

"Nah," he answered, leaning in to kiss her as they reached the vehicle. "Sweets maybe," he said. "But he'll get over it." He winked at her. "Kids are resilient."

He opened the door for her and waited while she climbed in. When she was settled, he closed the door, walked around to the driver's side and climbed in.

She rolled her eyes and let out a sigh.

"Just because we're in a romantic relationship," she said. "Do you think that means I'm going to let you get away with all that alpha-male posturing that you call chivalry?"

"Yes," he answered simply, smiling at her.

Again, she rolled her eyes and shook her head, but she couldn't help the warm smile that spread across her face. For all of her own commentary on the subject, she secretly loved the way that Booth's actions constantly made her feel loved and protected. Of course, she'd never let him know that.

"You know," he said. "We really owe Angela one. She kinda took one for the team back there to get Sweets off our case."

"I know," she said. "I think I'll get her a day at her favorite spa."

"She'd like that," he replied. "Maybe we could babysit."

"That would be nice," she told him, still smiling.

She couldn't remember ever being this happy. And she loved the idea of spending the day alone with Booth and Cate… or maybe they could bring Parker along, as well. She turned to face out the window as she got lost in her thoughts.

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"Seriously?" Sweets went on. "They actually ditched us?"

Hodgins laughed out loud.

"Nicely done, Big Man," Cam muttered to herself.

"Sweets, you really need to rein it in a little," Angela said. "You're taking this awfully personally. Can't you just be happy for them?"

"Oh, believe me," Sweets said. "I am happy for them. I just can't believe I didn't see it coming. I really wish they would have felt they could confide in me. I am their therapist after all."

Angela moved around to stand next to Sweets. She wrapped her arm around his shoulders and leaned in.

"Maybe it's time to just be their friend," she offered.

Sweets nodded, knowing Angela was right.

"And seriously?" she asked, her eyes twinkling with mischief. "You really didn't see it coming? What kind of genius, Boy-wonder psychologist are you?"

"It was pretty obvious," Arastoo said, finally piping in.

"Well, yeah," Sweet said. "We all knew it was going to happen eventually… but can any of you really tell me that you saw it coming right now? That tonight wasn't a complete surprise to you?"

"They actually did come into the lab holding hands several times this week," Arastoo replied.

"Really?" Sweets asked.

Arastoo nodded.

"It's true," Angela told him. "That's how I busted them."

"Busted them?" Cam asked. "I thought they weren't keeping it a secret."

"Well, they weren't," Angela agreed. "And you're right. That's pretty much what Bren told me when I asked. She said, 'Did we look like we were trying to hide anything?' And that's when I realized she was right, they didn't. It seemed as natural as could be and I couldn't be happier for them."

"Wait," Hodgins said. "What about the the FBI? Does this mean they're going to split them up?"

"No," Angela, Cam and Sweets all said in unison.

"As far as the FBI goes," Sweets offered, "they're not officially partners, so they're not going to split them up."

Angela already knew this from her conversation with Brennan, but one thing was still bothering her.

"Then why the partners' therapy?" she asked.

"Honestly?" Sweets asked. "I think that Deputy Director Cullen was just covering all the bases. Like all of us, he's watched their relationship progress and he knew it was only a matter of time. He enlisted my help to make sure that any potential romantic relationship wouldn't affect their work. They're the best there is," he went on. "And Cullen didn't want the risk of losing that."

"Exactly," Cam said. "Director Cullen and I discussed the repercussions of either assigning another agent to the lab or having Booth work with another scientist. Believe me, neither scenario generated a positive outcome."

"So the FBI really can't split them up?" Hodgins asked. "What about the 'No Fraternization' rule?"

Cam bit her lip and glanced at Sweets, who nodded for her to go on with the explanation.

"Well," she said. "This is where we're all hanging our hats on a technicality. The verbiage in the contract reads that the Jeffersonian, specifically the Medico-Legal Lab, is under contract to the FBI to provide expert consultations. Nowhere does it specify which scientist is to provide said consultations, therefore technically…"

"…Brennan isn't an FBI consultant and is thereby exempt from the rule," Hodgins concluded. "Nicely done. Way to stick it to The Man."

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"I still feel a little bit badly for running out on them," Brennan said, her head laying on Booth's chest and her arm wrapped around his waist.

"Seriously?" he asked. "We're laying in bed… naked, I might add… and you're thinking about the squints? I must be doing something wrong."

"No," she answered, tightening their embrace. "You do everything right. It's just not very nice to sneak out on your friends like that."

"Consider it growth for your frontal lobe," he said, laughing softly as he leaned in to place a kiss against her hair.

She smiled, remembering their long ago conversation and the night that they'd 'dined and dashed.'

"I just don't want them to be angry with us," she said. "Sweets was quite upset."

"He'll get over it," Booth assured her. "He was just surprised. We wondered how they would all react. Now we know, I guess."

"I guess we do," she replied as she moved up to kiss him.

"And we have to think about telling everyone else," he said.

"Like who?" she asked.

"Pops," he answered. "Your father… Russ… Jared…"

"My father will be happy for us," she said. "Of course, he will threaten to kill you if you hurt me."

Booth shuddered at the thought. He knew he'd never intentionally hurt her, but he also knew what Max was capable of.

"You know, when I first met Max he asked me if we were sleeping together."

"He did?" she asked. "I didn't know that."

Booth nodded.

"And when I told him 'no,' he asked me if I was gay."

Brennan laughed out loud at that.

He loved the sound of her laugh. He would give anything to always hear her laugh like that.

"I love you," he said, almost reverently.

"I know," she answered. "And I love you, too."

They lay there in the quiet still of the late evening, moonlight shining in through the windows, and enjoyed the calm silence that fell between them.

After what felt like hours but was really only a few minutes, she broke the silence.

"Regrets?" she asked, looking up into his warm brown eyes.

He shook his head.

"None," he answered, surprising her. "I mean, yes I would have liked to spare us both some of the pain that we went through to get here… but I have to go back to that very first day. I asked you if you believed in fate…"

"…and I told you I didn't," she said, interrupting. "And I still don't."

"And I still do," he replied, leaning in for a long, slow kiss that represented everything he was feeling. When it was over he looked into her amazing blue eyes. "Everything that we went through to get here was worth it because it brought us right here to this moment. Sure," he said. "We could have gotten together before now, but we wouldn't have been ready because it wasn't the right time. This," he said. "This, baby, is our time… and I can't wait to see what happens next."

"Well," she said, with a lilt in her voice and a twinkle in her eye. "I don't know what fate has in store for us, but I do know what comes next."

"Yeah?" he asked, punctuating the question with a quick kiss to her lips.

"Yeah," she answered. "Right now, we're going to forget about the team, our family, our work… all of it. Right now… in this moment, there is only you and me… and you're going to show me how to break the laws of physics. That's what happens next."

This time it was Booth's turn to laugh out loud. He couldn't remember the last time that he'd been this happy. He wasn't sure if he'd ever been this happy, but he knew that they had started down that 'Forever' road, and there was no looking back.

"That, Bones," he said, "sounds like a plan."

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The End

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AN- These endings keep sneaking up on me… but I do think that this is the right place to say goodbye to this story. The original intent was to follow them from that closing scene in "The Daredevil in the Mold" and let Booth's breakup with Hannah progress into his real relationship with Brennan, and I think we've done that. I can only hope I've done it justice. I look forward to your thoughts. ~ LJ:-)