thanks for sticking around, and thanks to adangeli for all of the betawork!

so, how did the finale make you feel? if you want a really nice rant, you can always hit me up for it. lol (that's from wtvoc)

Brennan was no expert on this particular matter, but the party had been a success. It was funny how important it had become to her; she knew, intellectually, it wouldn't matter to Parker, that he would only have dim recollections of it later in life, but she was glad that things had gone off without a hitch.

Well, for the most part.

Parker's near meltdown was expected and frankly, she had been surprised (and proud) that he had lasted as long as he did. She had seen the signs - the impending crankiness, the whining when Angela had approached him to blow out his candles ("because it's a time-honored tradition to mark the passage of time, little Brennan"), the reluctance to open every single gift in lieu of playing with the already-opened ones. She was hesitant to cut the party short, though. Seeing her friends and coworkers coming to her apartment and celebrating her child had filled her with a kind of satisfaction that made her regret not having done it sooner.

And then Parker had chosen Booth's comfort over Peter's.

She felt guilty in that moment. As if there had been some sort of failing in their child's upbringing to make him behave so - what? Poorly? Irrationally?

"He's four, Tempe. I'm fine," Peter had sighed later, but even Brennan knew the man was posturing, possibly for her benefit. "Parker sees a lot of Booth and he likes the guy. It's perfectly natural for him to seek comfort from an adult he trusts." Peter had smoothed Parker's curls, his small face innocent and sweet as he slept the excitement away, dead to the world in that way children have because they do not know or understand the larger things going on around them.

"So, uh. How tired are you?" Peter's immediate shift in tone was so true to his character - off one moment, on the next. He was too similar to her. Over the years, she had attempted to analyze what it was about him that made for an incompatible partner, and she had only recently come to the conclusion that he was too predictable - to put up with someone she could easily read was… boring. The sex, while not boring, was also predictable.

She definitely needed a "change of scenery," to use a phrase she had heard somewhere.

"Not tonight, Peter."

Angela had remained to help clear up the mess, and Brennan was almost relieved – almost - when Ange had started up on her favorite subject: teasing Brennan about Agent Booth.

"So, it's pretty obvious Booth knows his way around your place, huh," she said, pouring half-full red cups of soda down the drain.

"We do a lot of paperwork here, yes," Brennan affirmed warily.

"The girlfriend is pretty."

"She is."

"Seems like the kind of girl he'd be with. Pretty, blonde, high-maintenance."

"What does that mean, anyway?"

"What, high maintenance? That she has a standing appointment with a colorist. So, Booth and Parker get along well."

"Yes. I imagine it's because they have similar temperaments."

Angela laughed. "Are you saying he's like a three-year-old?"

"Four. At times, yes," Brennan grinned, righting some misplaced tribal masks on their display stand.

"Was Peter pissed? He glares at Booth, you know."

"What? He does not."

"Sure he does. It's that 'I'm being replaced' thing guys do when someone's stepping in on their turf." Ange rinsed off her hands and gave Brennan a piercing stare.

"I am not a land mass, Angela. And there's nothing to replace," Brennan huffed. Angela smiled and dumped an armful of plates in the trashcan.

"Sure. Right. When was the last time you had sex?"

"What's that got to do with anything?"

"You're kidding me, right?"

"No. I'm not. It's been… it's been, oh…" She tried to recall and was slightly dismayed to learn she was unable to identify the exact date. "Several weeks." Or… good grief, possibly even months.

"Mm hmm. Because Special Agent Hotpants has been over too much? Too busy 'doing paperwork', were we?"

"We were doing paperwork," Brennan said, somewhat defensively.

"Right. Does Peter know this?"

"Of course he does."

"You sure? Sweetie, look. You're my best friend. And I don't want you to get pissed here, but you should know this. Everyone but the two of you can see what's going on here."

"Peter and I have always known exactly-"

"Not between you and Peter. You and Booth."

"Nothing is going on with me and Booth."

"Not yet."

"Not ever."

"Brennan," Angela sighed, putting her elbows on the counter and leaning forward. Brennan was across from her, scrubbing at what appeared to be dried frosting. "Remember a zillion years ago when you kissed and told me about the tongue prowess of one Special Agent Booth?"

"Ange -"

"And how you had decided not to sleep with him because you had a kid and that it wasn't a responsible decision to make while inebriated?"

Brennan sighed in defeat. "And?"

"Okay, time to come clean with Miss Angela. Have you kissed him since then?"

"Of course not. We're partners."

"It hasn't even come up."

"No."

"Why not?"

"Why would it?"

"Brennan. A blind man could see you guys have the hots for each other."

"That does not make sense. There is a contradiction inherent in your -"

"Brennan. Stop. The guy is hot. Fun. He's got a thing for you. He loves your kid. I mean, really, Sweetie. What more can you ask for?"

"He has a girlfriend, Angela." Brennan looked down at the spot she had been scrubbing and was surprised to discover that the surface was clean, unmarred; she did not know how long she had been scratching at the surface with no real blemish in the way. "We're also partners. That would… complicate things."

"Oh, honey. Things are complicated." Angela crossed her arms across her chest. "Look, tell me right here and right now that you're not attracted to the guy and I'll drop it."

Brennan didn't want to lie. "That's not the issue."

"Sure it is."

"He's extremely appealing to the eye."

"Mm hmm." Angela grinned and lifted an eyebrow.

"I - I don't think of him in that way. We work well together. That's all."

"Okay." Angela paused a moment and looked pensively off in the distance. "You know, I haven't had sex in a while."

The smooth muscle in Brennan's peritoneal cavity squeezed uncomfortably. She must have had too much processed food.

"Really."

"So you're telling me you wouldn't be bothered if I made the moves on Booth?"

Brennan swallowed compulsively. Her mouth had gone dry.

"No." Probably not.

"Uh huh."

They did a bit more cleaning in the kitchen without further discussion, and Brennan assured Angela that she could finish the rest. She wanted to be alone in the sanctuary of her house.

Angela's questions had seemed to open up a flood of inquiry. Brennan had tidied the living room, musing over the past few weeks with Booth. As she straightened up the sofa cushions, a non-specific memory of the two of them sitting there, laughing over Booth trying to pronounce the word "trocanter," making her smile. He had continued to pronounce it poorly and had eventually started saying it in a horrendous Irish/Scottish accent, his eyebrows waggling while she did her best not to laugh. He really could be amusing from time to time.

When her reminiscing was interrupted by the knock on the door, she was almost unsurprised that he was standing there, looking both lost and agitated. Something bad had happened. She knew him well enough to know that, but she was perplexed as to why. He had seemed fine when he left.

He walked in and seemed so comfortable, so relaxed, and it dawned on her, perhaps not for the first time, that he fit there. In her apartment. He had integrated himself into her life, and she was okay with it. Despite Angela's oft-repeated assurances that men and women couldn't be "just friends," they were.

Then he had kissed her.

Temperance Brennan was used to misinterpreting the motivations behind human actions. But there was no way to ignore the meaning behind a kiss on the mouth. It was almost always an unequivocal sex invitation. She herself had used it many times before to great success.

The instant his mouth brushed against hers, her mind spewed out the words she had given Angela only an hour before, the reasons it was a bad idea.

Her body, however, said, "Yes." And "More."

And "Now."

There was no tequila, no rain, no getting fired to fuel the kiss. It was wanting, plain and simple. She wanted it. She hadn't realized how much. Yes, she was attracted to Agent Booth. But it wasn't merely that. It was some unidentifiable thing - biology, perhaps; two matching chemistries colliding with her very rational need to say no.

Human history is full of the body's desires overcoming the brain's rationalizations. As an anthropologist, she could concede that she was not necessarily above all of human history.

"Mama?"

Thankfully, Parker saved her from further irrational behavior by acting as a figurative barrier - was that what cock blocking meant? - and forcing her to take a step back.

"You should probably go."

She hated confusion. She chanced looking up into his face and the dark desire she saw there was thrilling. A promise of better things, fun and delicious things. His head tilted and he put his hands on his hips.

"No."

"Hi, Unca Seewey. Were you kissing Mama?"

"I was, Parks."

"Okay. I'm goin' back to bed."

She chuckled, slightly amazed at her son's utter lack of curiosity at her very curious behavior. He simply accepted it. Should she take her cues from a four-year-old?

Using it as a temporary excuse to walk away, she followed Parker back to his room and tucked him back into bed.

"'Night, Mama."

"Good night, Parker." She slowly backed out of his room, her mind oddly blank as she stood there and watched him fall asleep once again.

Quit stalling, Bren. Her thoughts took on Angela's voice, chiding her from afar.

Taking a deep breath, she turned and walked back to the kitchen. Booth was standing just as she left him, the questioning look in his eyes punctuated by his almost challenging stance.

"I kissed you." His voice was even, unwavering.

"Yes," she sighed.

"You kissed me back."

"We shouldn't -"

"Don't. Don't do that." His tone darkened, his eyebrows coming together, the deep crease in his brow suggesting anger. Why was he so angry? She was simply trying to -

To what?

"Temperance," he said, and it sounded wrong. He didn't call her Temperance. He called her Bones.

"Booth," she said softly, taking a step closer but still maintaining a meter or so of space. "What happened before you got here?"

His now troubled eyes met hers and then looked down, his shoulders slumping slightly. Guilt? Was that guilt?

"I - Rebecca and I had an argument. We, uh. We broke up."

"Ah." Mystery solved. She felt a tight clenching of her muscles. "So you came here to what, have rebound intercourse with me?" She was instantly defensive.

"No. No! I just… sort of found myself coming here. To talk, or - I dunno." He rubbed his hand across his head, his chin ducking down, still not meeting her eyes.

"I'm not some girl you can just come to for sex, Booth," she said, her anger rising. And to think she had actually been considering him as a viable candidate for – well, sex. Just-sex sex. Why was she now indignant at the idea that he was here for the same? It was irrational, but she was stung by the implication that he expected her to welcome him with open legs minutes after he broke up with his girlfriend. A girlfriend who, incidentally, had been sitting on Brennan's very sofa just a few hours ago!

Booth broke into her thoughts. "That's not - look. This has been coming on for some time. Rebecca and I have been on this downward spiral, and I -"

"Thought that since I almost slept with you once that I'd do it again? Well, no. It's not going to happen, Booth." She turned away and lifted the handle on her faucet, focusing on the soft spray of the water. She chose to ignore the tightening in her stomach at her own words.

"Look, Bones," he said, and she absolutely hated the slight thrill she felt at hearing the ridiculous nickname again. "I just… Ah, fuck it. This was a bad idea." They stood there, continuing to not face each other, the water filling the silence in her kitchen. After several seconds, he spoke again. "I'm sorry. I was feeling shitty and… you make me feel better, you know. I needed that. So… thanks, I guess." She heard the squeak of his shoes on the tile and his footsteps as he walked away. The door clicked softly as he let himself out.

For an indeterminate amount of time (although realistically, it was most likely only thirty seconds) she stood there, watching the clean and even spray of water, following the sharp lines from the spout to the sink. Out of nowhere a song started playing in her head, one she vaguely recalled from her childhood. She said, 'Honey, take me dancing,' but they ended up by sleeping in a doorway. She turned the water off and walked to her bedroom, lying down without changing into pajamas or covering herself with a blanket. She laid there, her mind curiously blank, and the next thing she knew, her alarm was buzzing. A new day had begun.