Disclaimer: They're not mine. No infringement intended. Fox owns them. I'm just playing with them for a while.

Summary: Death threats, test results being waited on, Broadsky aiming for B&B. Will Jacob get to them before they hunt him down? Will B&B's new intimate relationship survive?

Rating: M/NC17. (strong in sections.)

Massive thanks Kam for all your time, insights and encouragement and the major quick turnaround on this one. Your my hero

Jacob's Ladder Part Two

Rung 22

Monday evening. 5 hours after the incident at the Royal Diner, when Sandy was shot by mistake by Jacob Broadsky.

Bones' Apartment

A freshly showered Bones padded out of her ensuite, tying up her kimono. All the blinds and curtains were drawn throughout her dimly lit apartment as she entered the lounge area. She repelled away the obvious reasons as to why her apartment was so dark, not wanting to think about herself as a sniper's target. She felt fairly safe and just wanted to spend some down time with her new, yet familiar significant other and feel normal.

Booth didn't look up from his task, but asked, hearing her near, 'Feel better?'

'Much, thank you,' she confirmed, with a smile for her handsome partner, who was unpacking Thai food cartons from the delivery bag on her kitchen worktop. She stood beside him, watching him divvy up their meal. He glanced to her, and sighed.

'I'm truly sorry,' he said softly. 'I didn't want to keep you out of the loop or lie to you, honestly, Bones. But I just...'

'I know.' She rubbed his back to ease his guilt, thrilled to be able to touch him when she wanted or had the inclination. 'The anger I felt towards you has dissipated, for now.' She pinched a crunchy morsel off his plate, with a wry smile, then took her own plate away. She walked to the couch, and sat down, continuing, 'We've moved on. Let's just leave it all alone for tonight, can we? I just want a normal evening with my SO.'

Relieved, Booth agreed wholeheartedly, 'Ok.' Taking a seat beside her, he picked up the remote, and pushed play for the DVD player.

'What's this movie I have to watch? What's it called again?' she asked, popping a clump of noodles into her mouth. The opening credits began to roll, and Booth settled back to the couch, putting his feet up on the coffee table in front of him.

Booth told her in all seriousness, 'It's a classic of its generation. A twenty first century masterpiece. A heart wrenching tale of love, lost and found. Friends and the trials of life and endurance. Deeply moral too. The direction and artistic scenery are sublime. It won an Oscar and two Golden Globe awards amongst other countless accolades...'

Bones cocked an impressed brow, and settled deeper, putting her feet up on the coffee table too, then balanced her plate on her lap. The first scene opened, and she grinned, then looked to him. Booth was trying not to smile, but his shoulders rattled with his amusement. 'It's a cartoon,' she accused, nudging him in the ribs.

'Shhh. You're gonna love it.'

One hour, forty minutes later

Two scraped empty plates were piled on the coffee table, half a bottle of wine consumed and a bag of caramel popcorn. The pitch dark of her apartment was punctuated by the glow of the TV screen flickering its blue glow over them. Bones was slumped casually over him now, laying with her head on his lap, while he caressed her flank with his light fingertips.

Booth felt his loins respond violently again to her robust belly laugh and the rolling laughter she belted out at one particularly amusing scene. The warm fuzzies it gave him were habitual. He adored how obviously she was enjoying his choice of movie to take her mind off recent events. Moments like this, he pondered, were precious and necessary to counteract the anxiety and terror she was coping with. He recalled Freud said something similar. Booth did have another motive too, which was to educate her into the popular culture of the present day. That was something he felt she'd neglected for too long now, but most of all, he selfishly wanted to see her laugh, because it wonderful things to his soul.

A little later the narration turned sad and he felt her quieten and twist uncomfortably on his lap. He peered over her a little to see her reaction to it. He saw her eyes sparkling with tears, and smiled understandingly. The laughter returned in good time and finally the credits rolled.

Bones sighed contentedly, and rolled to look up into his face from his lap. She reached up with her hand to caress his jaw with the sweetest smile on her face. He tilted his head into her warm palm, and smiled back, bewitched by her expression. Then to his stunned shock she blurted, 'DooO YooU Noo-deeer wAy tooo Sid-deN-ey?' Booth howled with laughter at her hilarious impression of an Orca whale. While he laughed uncontrollably, she scurried up, and sat on his lap facing him. Clasping her hands behind his neck, she howled with laughter too.

As their riotously funny moment subsided, she smooched his lips, between her compliments and thanks, 'Excellent. Thank you. I adored it.' Once she'd finished, she slipped her tongue into him, and roamed around his, gorging herself on him sensuously with grateful repose.

Booth slid his hands to her silk covered buttocks, and pulled her ever closer to his jean-trapped lively erection. His action fired the lighting bolt like their starting pistol and they were off the mark, running with their maelstrom of carnal desire.

Bones gasped free of his mouth when her clitoris made solid contact with his erection. Bones quickly untied her belt, and ripped her torso naked. Before she could free her arms of the silk, Booth's noisily humming mouth was sucking hard at her left nipple, so hard his cheeks hollowed. She struggled to get her arms free but when she did, she clasped his head to her. She let him indulge himself on her for a few frantic moments, till she regrouped, and reached for his zipper, groaning to get at him as quick as she could.

Leaning back slightly, her nipple popped free from his wet mouth, and he moaned disappointed. Bones couldn't help but giggle at their frantic hands and wild desire as they tried to work around one another's hands.

'Bed-room?' he panted.

'No, here,' she replied, snapping her lips over his, and fumbled him free from his boxers, instantly surrounding his turgid flesh with her soft palm. He growled in her mouth, and punched his pelvis up and his cock through her tight grip. 'No condoms,' she informed. Her uncaring tone snapped his eyes open, and he grinned much to her surprise.

Then to her shock he slipped two fingers into her from around her buttocks, and said as she gasped at the divine intrusion, 'You just want more Booth-y foreplay.' His goading statement made her laugh, and pinch her grip on his glands in reprimand for being so arrogant. He dropped his head back to the couch, and tossed his head from side to side in his delirium.

Seeing his reaction, she oozed, 'Umm. You like it rough,' delving into his mouth again. Booth rolled her over to lay her flat on the couch, and withdrew his fingers, but plunged back in from the front a second later. 'Yearsss, deeper, harder,' she commanded, quivering her grip on his ridges to bring him to the dangerous edge fast, and felt her fingers moisten with his pre-ejaculate. She wanted to taste that which he seeped, and struggled not to. 'I want to taste you.' He shook his head, warning her not to with his wild eyes. Ignoring his warning, she brought her moist fingers to her lips, and opened her mouth preparing to taste. He grabbed her hand to stop her, and forced it down beside her, pinning her.

The sultry smiled that slipped effortlessly across her face, and the guttural twinkle in her eye spoke volumes to him. 'You like it rough too,' he said, holding her fast by both wrists now, and limpet sucked on her nipple again. Snapping her legs around him, she rubbed her wet pussy against his cock, sensing her opportunity to merge them. He lifted his hips away from her wild grind, and shook his head at her. 'Stop it. No sex yet, this is your last warning.' Bones pouted cutely, panting softly in his smiling face. Then she struggled against his hand hold, and huffed when she couldn't release herself. Feeling sorry for her he drew up his knee between her thighs, and pushed into her. She immediately took what he was offering, and stimulated herself against his thigh.

'Booth, please, this isn't enough,' she begged, fisting her fingers, and tried to push up to free herself. Suddenly she was free and he was getting off her. She sat up instantly, completely confused, and watched him walk away with his raging cock poking out of his zipper. 'Where you going?'

'Stay there,' he threw over his shoulder. She went rigid, peering over the couch back, straining to hear what he was doing. When he strode back with purpose, fully naked, he was brandishing her vibrator like his gun. She collapsed back to the couch, coming over all peculiar; and knew her reaction to his sinew taut body and intention was a genuine swoon.

Parts of her began to water, and her chest heaved. He laid back along side her quickly, saying, 'Close your eyes.' She shook her head slowly, hoping he understood. He did, and gripped her wrist, then forced it over her head to gently restrain her. Then he nudged her thighs apart with his knee, simultaneously licking the ridged vibrator, whilst lancing her to the couch with his eyes. 'I'm gonna screw you, hard, Temperance.' Bones squirmed against him with enthusiasm, and nodded several times fast. Then he kissed her, hard and deep, while pushing the vibrator inside her sharply. Her hips rose to meet his thick thrust, and slammed her eyes shut, whimpering into his mouth. He withdrew it completely, but before she protested the loss, he pushed it back in at a shallower angle. Again she crooned wantonly, and nodded fast again. 'Better?' he asked, as her eyes snapped open.

'Yes,' she managed, but ripped her hand from his grip, locked it around his cock, and squeezed his crown. Booth sucked in a breath through his gritted teeth, and jerked the vibrator inside her. 'Do-it,' she pleaded, giving him the pace and severity she wanted with her hand on him.

Three frantic, noisy, sweaty minutes later they were a mass of writhing flesh, and biting kisses anywhere they could on one another. All was steamy and slippery between them with their busy hands offering mutual pleasure. 'Booooth,' she implored. Instantly he angled the rabbit up on his next deep plunge and the ears hit her fibrillating clit. Bones felt his tension release violently on the crest of her own blissful cry along with his hot seed. It squished through her vicious claw grip, as she squirmed against him with her own excruciating climax that rattled her back teeth. She rode it out breathlessly in his spaniel eyes across the sparkling blue night.

Both began to slow their movements, rasping for breath. The squall had been fast arriving but thankfully passed leisurely as each body savoured the mellowing afterglow.

'To be honest,' she began, then swallowed to moisten her throat, and slipped her splayed leg off the back of the couch. 'I prefer slow gentle sex.' Booth grinned, and nuzzled into her neck, as they tried to catch their breath.

'Could have fooled me. You were wild, Bones.'

'So, so were you, you savage. I'm going to have trouble walking tomorrow.'

'Haa. Sorry. I got carried away.' He slowly withdrew the vibrator to her melodic sigh. 'What is this thing?' he asked, looking curiously at the weird contraption. Bones chuckled, and kissed his cheek sweetly.

'The trade name is a Rampant Rabbit, hence the little ears for clitoral stimulation. 'You didn't even turn it on.' She saw Booth look impressed when he turned it on, and it began to vibrate and the tip rolled around grotesquely.

'Holy crap! You'll never need a man with one of these fancy gadgets.'

'I can assure you, Booth, nothing feels like the real thing.' Booth looked to her now, and smiled softly, moved by her tenderness. 'Is it Friday yet?' He pouted too, and shook his head to empathise. 'Ok... Bed, or would you enjoy bathing with me?'

He lit up like a Roman candle, and sparkled. 'Bathe, definitely bathe.' She grinned, charmed by his childlike excitement at her cute offer.

'Come on then.'

Ten minutes later her en suite tub was full with mountains of foam topped water, and surrounded by flickering tea lights. Booth was already sloshing in it, and waiting impatiently for her to step in. Just as she was about to, something caught her eye in the mirror opposite. She gasped in noisy horror, as she looked at her reflection. 'Arrh! You're in so much trouble! Look at my buttock! she scolded, as the smiley face grinned at her. Booth sniggered mischievously, as she leapt into the water to administer her vengeance.

Rung 23

Their first Tuesday, 08.01.

Booth glanced at his partner as he rolled in with the traffic crossing the intersection with an admiring smile. She gave it back just as affectionately from under her sunshades. Their first Tuesday morning together as a true couple was a cold one. A white sheen of glistening frost reflected the brilliant sun all around them, as they skirted Lincoln's memorial en route to the Jeffersonian. The sky was the colour of the sweater she wore and his elegant cut suit. A matching pair, she thought, looking back out of the windshield.

Booth broke the contented silence in the SUV with, 'I'll pick you up later too, just give me a call when you're ready to come home,' he instructed gently. She nodded, while flipping down her sun visor, and angled it to inspect the blood bruises he'd felt on her lower throat last night. She tutted at them, yet smiled, as she covered them up again with her high necked sweater. She saw Booth grin out of the side of her eye, clearly chuffed he'd marked her so passionately.

He defended quietly with, 'I've got 'em too.'

'Nowhere visible though...' she chastised gently, then she moved on with, 'So, just to clarify, I've got two pairs of armed agents following my every move?' Booth nodded, and glanced to her again. 'The roof tops around my building are secured; therefore he can't take a kill shot at me from them.' Again Booth nodded, readjusting his grasp on the steering wheel, loathing the calmness and rationale she oozed about her dire situation.

'I'd still prefer you went to the safe house, hunkered down for a while,' he said carefully, trying gently to persuade her again.

Bones shook her head, whipping off her shades 'No, Booth, no. I can't put my life and career on indefinite pause, you know that. And I'll be a sitting target there. At least now Broadsky must know we're on to him with his vantage point revealed and covered.' Booth nodded to agree. 'Besides, after the incident yesterday he's obviously spreading his options.'

'That's what's worrying me, Bones. He took a pot-shot at you. It's as if he doesn't care about the perfection of the execution shot. It's like he's getting frustrated now. But I have to say this is so unlike him. He taught us the code and drummed it into us constantly. It was his mantra.'

Bones looked to him curiously. 'What code?'

'His sniper code. WPWED. Watch with patience. Plan with care. Wait for the right moment. Execute professionally. Disappear without a trace.' Bones nodded, feeling goose bumps sprout on her forearms. 'I don't think he planned the hit at the Diner. I think it was a roll of the dice.'

Bones looked back out of the windshield in silence, obviously pondering what he'd said. She felt him slip his hand onto her thigh reassuringly.

'We'll find him, Bones,' he told her with certainty. 'He'll slip up, he may already have. After I drop you off I'm heading back to the Diner to see where he might have shot from. And I've a ton of interviews to process from the eye-witnesses. Maybe somebody saw him leave the scene or even take the shot.'

Bones looked out of her side window as they came to a set of red traffic lights and stopped. 'Keep me informed, won't you? I want to know everything, Booth. None of this secrecy again, ok?'

'You have my word.' He squeezed her thigh a little harder. She blindly slipped her hand to his on her leg, and squeezed it back.

Looking back out of her window, she asked, 'I've been pondering something, Booth. Why didn't Broadsky use a range finder or heat seeker like you do to measure the distance to target? He wouldn't have had to enter my apartment then...' Booth was constantly amazed by her ability to ask the pertinent questions.

Booth explained, 'Jacob is a methodical man, he was taught one way. When he started out laser range finders and heat seeking devises weren't used, or as accurate as they are today. He's proficient with them, don't get me wrong, but he's a creature of habit and prefers his methods.' Booth looked to her, to see her reaction but there wasn't one he could distinguish.

Eventually Bones looked to him. 'You know,' she began with a mild sardonic, beautiful smile he wanted to kiss. 'My bodyguards should really use a less conspicuous car to tail me with. I'm surprised they should use such a wreck, I've seen it several times lately.' Booth snagged his head back, confused by her slightly sarcastic, admonishing tone.

'What are you talking about?' He peered into his wing mirror too now.

'That car, look, seven back in our lane. The red Ford, billowing blue smoke? The one I told you about the other night...' Bones stared at the vehicle again in her wing mirror.

'That's not my guys. I can see them, their in the other lane, the slate Lexus, tinted windows. See? Two agents...' Booth's brain cogs whirred and processed, then he snapped his glaring eyes to hers. He could see they were already dilating with the similar revelation. They didn't need to state the obvious, so didn't. Both their stomachs hit the foot well, and they felt sick with the sudden splurge of adrenalin that flooded them.

'I thought it was strange seeing such a wreck around my affluent neighbourhood.' Bones twisted in her seat anxiously. 'It looked so out of place. What should we do?'

Booth grabbed his radio, while moving off slowly as the lights changed. 'Dispatch, all units. Unit one to Unit three. Seven, repeat seven vehicles back. Red Ford Mondeo, blue exhaust smoke, one occupant, possible suspect Broadsky driving...' Just as Booth said his name the Ford wheeled right out of the traffic lane, and sped off at a right angle to them. Broadsky headed down a one way street the wrong way, parting the four lines of terrified traffic like the Red Sea. A chorus of screeching tires and thundering horns pierced the humdrum morning commute and the crystal cold air.

'Shit! He's been scanning our frequency,' Booth explained. He slammed on his brakes, then spun the vehicle around one eighty against the traffic, splitting traffic too, and threw the lights and sirens on. Bones gripped the armrest as they twirled in the street with a cloud of tire smoke and screeches that spun up from their back tires. Booth put his foot down. 'All units, pursuit, pursuit red Ford Mondeo turned right, right onto the Parkway heading north! Request back up and eyes.' Bones knew, eyes, was code for helicopter assistance.

Feeling her adrenalin levels spike, gasping, she gripped the dash hard, seeing a collision was imminent. 'Booth!' she warned, illogically slamming her foot on a nonexistent brake pedal in her foot well.

Seeing the impending danger, Booth dropped the radio, and swerved hard left to avoid two impatient vehicles snaking around the clogged intersection. His severe double swerve knocked their bodies one way then the next against the doors. Having narrowly avoided the smash by bumping up onto the curb of the one way street, Booth reached to her belt, and slammed the brakes on. 'Get out!' he commanded her, unclipping her seatbelt. Bones looked stunned at him, and his action.

'No!' She forced his hand and the clip back down into the lock defiantly.

'Get out, Bones, for fuck sake, get out!' he pleaded, looking up the road and the trail left by the Fords smoke, then to her again.

'No! Drive, drive. You're going to lose him, Booth,' she insisted, not wanting to leave his side.

'Jesus, Woman! You never listen to me!' Booth slammed his foot on the gas, and bumped down the curb to avoid one stunned motorist standing beside the tail of his car. Just then, to their right they saw the Lexus with Franks and Craven inside, race up the path ploughed by Broadsky over taking them.

The one way street looked obscenely crooked now and howled to the wail of car horns and crunches as fender-bender's abounded. Innocent vehicles were desperately trying to avoid the bandit car, and hit their fellow nonplussed commuters in the commotion. The partners glanced to their right as they passed one small crash. The two occupants were out of their cars, incensed at the other, and started wrestling with one another idiotically. Booth edged deftly around several vehicles, chasing up behind Craven and Franks.

The partner's attention was quickly drawn back ahead of them by the horrific sight of a jogger who was preparing to cross at the street junction. She had her I-pod earphones in place, not seeing or hearing the approaching danger or furore bearing down on her. With the pedestrian lights turning to walk, she jogged across. Bones sucked in a mortified breath, and held it. Seeing the premonition of the inevitable, she gripped everything.

Broadsky didn't attempt to avoid her but ran right through her as if she wasn't there. He made her a ghost as she flew into the air like a rag doll to a height of at least seven feet, Bones calculated. The blonde pony-tailed twenty-something landed on the hood of a terrified motorist's car with a sickening thud, crumpling the metal. She tumbled, mangled and split open onto the cold ground, heartbeat-less.

'Oh. God, Booth...' Gritting his jaw, Booth nodded to acknowledge her restrained horror, and weaved up behind his other pursuing colleagues as they neared Broadsky's ailing vehicle. They watched as Broadsky turned left, heading across the bridge but not before he cut in front of the on coming traffic from his right, obviously hoping to thwart their chase.

Booth's radio crackled to the sound of Franks, 'Red Ford turned left, left, left, over the 14th Street bridge.' Booth had to slow as they steered to avoid the cars which had screeched to a halt, witnessing the grisly hit and run. Bones watched impotently as several compassionate people ran to assist the young woman; she imprinted her features in her mind as they drove past. It felt that the least she could do to remember yet another victim of Broadsky's festering rampage.

Booth yelled irrationally at his colleagues to move faster, 'Go, go!' He slammed his horn at them to move fast, as he saw Broadsky already halfway across the bridge.

Bones looked back ahead. 'He's turning left,' she said, keeping her eyes on the plume of helpful trailing smoke now. 'No! Right, right...' she corrected, seeing Broadsky make a savage turn as he flew along the riverbank on the Potomac Parkway. 'We're losing him. Where's the back up?' she chuntered, clinging onto the door armrest and one palm flat on the roof above her, as Booth swung his heavy vehicle around the stationary traffic.

The tree lined avenue shivered to the ripped apart chilled air of the three cars as they hurtled along the long sweep of the river course. The blaze of lights; screaming warning sires and the raging of their engines, parched Bones' throat, and widened her alert eyes. The traffic was thinning and both powerful FBI cars caught up with Broadsky's struggling car easily on the flat, relatively unobstructed road.

Now that all the cars were heading in the same direction, the ones ahead of the chase began to pull over and slow, being alerted by the sirens and lights. Broadsky shunted one car up the backside as they hadn't noticed the pursuit and it swerved violently, stunned by the sudden collision. Spinning 360 degrees as the driver braked hard, it then stopped facing the wrong way in a cloud of rubber burn. Jacob powered on recklessly, punching the guts out of his engine.

The pursuit vehicles were metres from Jacob's rear fender, and took up positions either side of him. Bones felt her heart pound under her sweater, and felt her body surge with rage as she caught a glimpse of a cool remorseless looking Broadsky in his wing mirror.

'Hold tight,' Booth said, as he tugged hard on her seatbelt to flatten her against the seat. She jolted back into the seat, the tightness of it almost stopped her breathing. Then to the pursuing vehicles surprise, as they closed together in a controlled pincer movement, Broadsky slammed on his brakes.

This caused several things to happen at once. As they shot past Broadsky their wing mirrors clipped, exploded apart, and hit the side window then tumbled away beside them. Secondly, as Broadsky went backwards past Bones' window, she followed his face back as he smiled at her. The third thing was Booth swerved away to avoid a full on collision. He started to slow just like his colleagues, and flicked his eyes to his rear view mirror. What he saw in it chilled him.

Broadsky aimed his handgun out of his glassless window, whilst speeding up again. Then calmly, precisely he shot out both of the Lexus' back tires with terrifying accuracy even left handed. Their car bumped down half a foot, and began swerving ominously along the wide leafy avenue. Losing control, Craven hit the high curb on his left, then the car revved as two wheels lost traction. At the speed they were going, they lurched, tipped onto their tire flanks, then flipped over onto the roof with a deafening crunch. The front windows popped out, shattered and scuttled across the tarmac. Bones snatched a breath in shock as Booth swore liberally again, seeing his colleagues out of the chase and skid along the tarmac like a upturned flailing tortoise.

The upturned sparking car was expertly avoided by Broadsky, and he drew up close to their SUV again. Broadsky aimed again, and fired seven consecutive shots at Bones' side window. She didn't duck, knowing they were bullet-proof, more incensed at his audacity and smug expression rather than worried for her life. However, she did instinctually blink at every shot fired at her as they clunked the window and shattered the outer laminated pane but didn't penetrate.

Booth yelled at her in panic. 'Bones, get down!' He pushed her head down between her knees. 'Stay down!' He partly leant on her back with his arm holding his firearm. Then fingered the button of her electric window to lower it with the same arm, while still trying to steer with the other. Bones hunched down further, realising what he was going to do. She couldn't see anything except her shoes, and felt her racing heartbeat in her throat. She did note that her breathing was shallow and her face was wet with perspiration as her adrenal gland went into overdrive. The cool air rushing inside the car felt dangerously ominous and cruel as it froze her sheen of facial perspiration.

Four cracking shots were exchanged clunking the side door harmlessly, before their vehicle hit something very hard and immoveable it seemed. The terrifying crunch that went with it was ear splitting and skeleton jarring. The airbags inflated instantly but didn't prevent Booth from being thrown around in the cab and over her. They were up ended and bounced on the back tires. Bones hit her head on the glove box with the sudden unexpected impact, and felt the shudder of the vehicle as it trembled and groaned its demise. Booth moaned as he hit the dash with a deep thud, unrestrained by a seatbelt. Bones saw his Sig drop into her door pocket with a clatter out of the corner of her eye. Then she heard Booth groan again in pain, and sat up. Popping her head out from under the deflating airbag, as they came to a stuttering steaming halt, she looked around.

She saw the car they'd hit directly ahead, and its two occupants rubbing their necks. Although their car's rear was crumpled, they seemed ok. She looked to Booth whose eyes were rolling with his stunning concussion, and saw he had a cut on his forehead which was bleeding profusely.

Snapping her eyes forwards to look for the Mondeo, she saw Broadsky's brake lights come on as he skidded to a halt. Bones grabbed the gun Booth had dropped without thinking, and jumped out of the vehicle, determined to capture him. Broadsky got out of his car two hundred feet away ahead of them. Bones walked towards him, fast, with the gun at arm's length, aiming at him. As her head cleared, and her outrage resurfaced, she began to run towards him with the gun in a double handed grip.

She got to within eighty feet of him, and stopped. 'FBI! Freeze, or I'll shoot!' she yelled her warning at him with ascending wrath. Terrified onlookers cowered in their vehicles, and heard her Federal warning.

Broadsky walked casually towards her, and snorted his nonchalant laugh for acting as if she was truly an FBI Agent. Bones could see the gun in his hand by his side and the arrogant smile on his face. She wanted just to pull the trigger there and then, but knew with all these witnesses, that would not be a good idea. Then she reasoned, if she did, where would the justice be in that? Sandy's, the joint smoker, the jogger's and Frank's face flashed across her field of view, demanding she change her mind and take the easy kill shot.

Booth forced his eyes to stop rolling, and focused on the empty seat and open door beside him. That snapped his blood washed panicked stare out of the windshield. It was then that he saw the double woozy image of Bones aiming at Broadsky as he neared her. Booth felt his heart freeze, and tried to scramble out of the car as fast as he could.

Bones warned him again, 'I. Said. Freeze, Broadsky! Put the gun down or I will shoot you! This is your last warning.'

'No you won't, Temperance!' he shouted back patronisingly, with his thin smile stuck on his lips. 'You want to bring me in, have your justice and day in court. That's the trouble with people like you, with all of you. You're too... noble.' Broadsky walked to a stationary car with a young petrified woman inside, and opened the door, motioning to her to get out with at flail of his gun. Bones followed his sure movement with her aim, squeezing the trigger. Waiting for her to escape, Bones saw the terrified girl run, screaming from her car down to the towpath beside the river, losing a shoe in the soft grassy bank.

Booth fell out of the SUV and was on all fours when he saw Broadsky smile at him. 'Gotta go, Temperance.' He winked at her. 'See you around, Seeley!' Just as he was getting in the car, Bones pulled her trigger the rest of the way, aiming for his right thigh. Her aim was accurate and spit open his skin, then tore through the muscle to the bone. Instinctually a split second later, incensed at being thwarted in his escape, Broadsky fired back at her with his trembling aim.

'Nooo!' Booth yelled from the pit of his stomach as the universe ground to a halt. He watched, horrified as Bones was kicked back with the impact of a 22 calibre bullet that hit her mid chest. She left the ground then smacked the tarmac with a head cracking flump, and went dead still. The Sig scuttled away from her open grasp and hit the curb. The air was filled with screaming sirens as Broadsky got in the car, and sped off in his stolen VW Golf.

Broadsky clutched his wounded leg, trying to stop the bleeding, as he made haste to get away. As he did, he suddenly screamed at the windshield with his diabolical wrath and agony. Beads of sweat now punctured their way out onto his brow, and he dragged in another lungful of air, still apoplectic. His eyes nearly popped out on stalks as he rebel yelled again, till his eardrums protested and his lungs emptied. The globules of saliva evacuated during his manic scream hit the inside of the windshield and dripped. All the while his precious crimson blood oozed from his torn flesh.

He'd shot her and killed her but not how he envisaged. It was a poor shot, imperfect and not worthy of his talents or status. And he'd misjudged her too, she did shoot him. To top it all he didn't get his long anticipated life giving rush, and that's what infuriated him to the point of insanity now.

Broadsky drove north west and kept going, getting lost in the DC rush hour traffic again.

Booth crawled to her with little co-ordination or air in his lungs. He toppled to his side en route, still dizzy but finally got to her. She looked serene as if asleep to him, while he tried to breathe and hold himself together.

Kneeling beside her, Booth slipped his hand tenderly under her lolling head, and felt a sticky dampness on his palm, knowing what that meant, and felt his eyes burn and leak. 'Bones?' He sniffed, and wiped his blood blurred eyes, staring into her closed eyes. 'Ba-by, my, Bones, Tempe,' he whimpered, whispering his words in her ear, laying down slowly next to her. 'Breathe... God, please let her breathe,' he prayed, then gently shook her a little, weeping, 'Oooh. Bones...'

Snatching a lung filling breath, simultaneously fluttering her eyes woozily open, she came around, blinking up into the stratosphere. Booth breathed again too, gasping at life as she did. He nuzzled into her neck, then laid tight alongside her, shivering with relief and his residual terror. He slipped a leg over one of hers, and rolled her into his body, as he crushed her to him, all in slow motion. It was a gesture laden with relief, comfort, love and possessiveness. She reciprocated just as firmly, mirroring his emotions too, while they lay silent on the cold ground. She could feel him trembling against her, as for the second time in as many days, they clung to the precious life within each other.

Bones said faintly after a few moments, 'See, I do listen to you sometimes.' Then she kissed his lips gently. He nodded, and summoned a half smile, kissing her back, as she caringly wiped his cheeks of pink tears. A helicopter swooped over the old grey river, and began hovering above them; bringing with it a maelstrom of freezing downdrafts.

Booth slid his hand under her sweater slowly, while peering into her brimming eyes. Placing his palm over her heart, he blindly picked out the bullet from the Kevlar vest he'd insisted she wear this morning. He gripped the squished, imbedded bullet in his palm, and withdrew his hand just a slowly.

Feeling her own eyes water now, seeing his terror strewn eyes, she read his tortured thoughts which had frightened her more than seeing Broadsky fire at her. Gripping her palm around his and the bullet within, she pleaded, 'Don't say what you're about to say...' Tears dripped from his eyes more readily, and he rested his brow delicately on her shoulder. 'Bad things happen when we're not together, remember?' she quoted him to make him believe, just like he'd done to her. 'It's just the shock. You don't mean it.' She felt him nuzzle harder into her neck, obviously not yet convinced by her words, breathing in her ear. Then her composure melted away, as she whimpered, whispering in his ear as he was the only one in the vast universe she trusted to say it to, 'I, I won't survive alone now, not now...'

Booth squeezed her harder to him, almost painfully tight. That admission was her final piece of imperviousness crumbling away, willingly leaving herself vulnerable and open hearted. Once it was gone, washed away by their tears, Booth protected her fragile, but strongly beating heart with, 'Neither can I... Together, whatever, ok?' She smiled through her tears, nodding her pledge, feeling her newly discovered organ ascend.

Their world turned again, and the noises, smells and commotion clamoured around them; as police, paramedics and fire crews descended on their position. Then a second helicopter hovered above their heads, creating a violent air storm around them. Old crispy leaves, dust and exhaust fumes filled the agitated air. Booth looked up to the helicopter, noting it was a CNN press core helicopter, and had an epiphany.

'We've got to get you out of sight,' he said, sitting up slowly but refusing to let go of her hand.

'Why?'

'Broadsky. He thinks he shot you, dead. We can use that to our advantage. Come on, let's get you outta' here.' He pulled her up, and headed to a patrol vehicle with his arm around her waist to stabilise each other. He got on the radio, as he motioned for the police helicopter to land in the park beside them.

Rung 24

The Jeffersonian 28 minutes later.

Ange and Cam flittered around the quiet partners as they sat on opposite gurneys in the de-con lab being nursed by them. Jack assisted by passing fresh swabs; tablets, antiseptic creams, and bandages around when required. Daisy hovered agitatedly outside the sealed doors, having been banished by Cam, and distraught at seeing her mentor so banged up. Cam knew the partners wouldn't want her fussing and jabbering around them after their traumatic event, so she'd locked her out.

While Cam attended to Bones' superficial head wound, she didn't comment on her rash of sensually placed love bites as she sat quietly in her bra and slacks. Booth was shirtless too and similarly erotically marked as Ange strapped up his suspected broken rib. Ange then began cleaning up his bloody face and forehead cut ready for Cam to stitch. Seeing Ange's knowing miniscule smile cross her lips when she looked at those telltale marks, Booth grinned at her happily. He proudly bore them without shame or attempted concealment. He was delighted that their long anticipated romance was clearly out-ed by them to all present.

Booth and Bones had subtle smiles on their faces, and they persistently stared at one another, both desperate to hold one another again. The two meters between them felt like a huge chasm that ached to be narrowed.

'There's nothing on the news. Only that a woman was shot in a drive by in the rush hour,' Jack said, sounding slightly surprised, considering the magnitude of the incident in downtown DC.

Booth replied softly, 'There wouldn't be. We've gagged the press to a certain extent. They're being told what to say. Their tapes are being confiscated and injunctions delivered.' His eyes never left Bones' as he spoke. Jack quirked his lips, nodding.

Cam smiled at Bones, as she gently slid her hand over her clavicle across the marks Booth had left on her, giving her an understanding sweet smile. 'There, you're all done,' Cam said affectionately. Bones grinned back, but blushed slightly, knowing now her colleague had no problem with their budding romantic relationship or the fact that they were professional partners. Cam handed her back her sweater to put on.

'Thank you, Cam,' Bones said, for both the patch up and her quiet consent. Cam nodded slightly, and gave a tiny cute wink to reassure her. Bones put on her sweater as Cam went to Booth now, and injected his brow with a local anaesthetic before she began stitching his inch long gash.

Feeling a little better because she was closer to Booth, Bones stood by Cam's side as she began. Bones peered over her shoulder to make sure she was doing a good job. Booth couldn't help but smile wider, seeing Bones so intent on making sure Cam did it neatly. Cam glanced over her shoulder, saying casually, 'Do you want to do it?' Bones stepped back, and shook her head, flushing again.

'No, you're doing an adequate job... Are you in pain, Booth, can you feel it?' she asked, obviously still deeply concerned for his discomfort.

He shook his head, grinning madly. Then to Bones' surprise he reached for her hand, saying, 'Come here.' Cam tutted, and stilled her stitch mid pull, as he reached for Bones' hand, and tugged her closer. 'Sit with me,' he insisted, and she did without hesitation. Booth looked back to Cam, still holding Bones' hand firmly on top of his thigh. Cam began again, grinning now, moved by their sweet understated tenderness. Ange and Jack exchanged aww's with each other but said nothing else, as they set about disposing of the blood stained swabs and alike.

'How's your headache?' Booth asked casually, keeping his head still, but slipping his eyes sideways to see her.

'Better, the analgesics are working now.' He gave her hand a little squeeze, happy to hear that. 'Stop moving, Booth, you're making it difficult for Cam.' Bones chastised softly, while peering at Cam's accomplished stitching technique. Then she asked, needing to know, but keeping her considerable concern out of her tone, 'How's your rib?'

'Fine. I don't think it's broken, just bruised. What about your chest, still painful?' Hearing all this between the lovers, Ange threw her eyes up, and shook her head.

Bones shook her head. 'Not painful, tender. It's fine. This is why you should wear a seatbelt...' Booth grinned harder, loving her getting a dig in at him when he couldn't retaliate, defend or kiss her till kingdom come.

Frustrated by their stilted conversation and covertly intimate concern for one another, Ange blurted, 'We know! We all know you two are an item! Then instructed exasperatedly, planting her hand on her dropped hip, 'Will you two just kiss already... So we can see what it looks like, then we can all move on!' Bones' jaw dropped, stunned by her outburst. Booth slipped his eyes back to Bones', and grinned cheekily, deliriously happy to oblige Ange's petulant caprice.

Jack joined in, 'Yeah, the hickey's were a big give away plus the hand holding, of course. Not to mention all the, hot eye action and understated concern for one another's wellbeing.'

Knowing that they all knew was a huge relief to Bones but she still resisted. 'We're in the lab, it wouldn't be professional,' Bones half-heartedly reprimanded the notion that they should kiss to satisfy their curiosities.

Cam slipped her sneaky eyes to Bones', correcting her, 'Actually,' she began, then looked back to her task. 'This is the de-con area, not the lab.' Cam tied off the last stitch, and cut the fine suture. Booth turned his face towards Bones now, and waggled his brows suggestively.

Being outnumbered, she easily gave in to their wishes, hers and Booth's. Bones' enigmatic smile trembled her lips, as she neared his. 'Let's give them something to remember then...' she oozed against them. Then they were kissing, and kissing again till they rolled flat on the gurney, in a controlled drop to the mattress. They kissed passionately but tenderly; treating themselves to their compulsory need to connect again.

Daisy's saw the partners begin to kiss through the glass, and her mouth slowly dropped open in amazement, then it turned into a happy grin. Excitedly, she grabbed her cell out from her lab coat pocket, and walked away.

Cam and Ange grinned, nudging each other, then they slowly lost their smiles, as their brows rose while the colleagues got a little more amorous. The partners slowly curled their limbs around one another, and caressed with caring sensual fingertips. Their angle changed several times, and soft humming accompanied the steamy sight. When they finally broke apart three minutes later, slightly flushed, they sat up slowly, and looked to their audience. All three faces were amusingly blushed and slack jawed.

The partners smiled coyly at them all, with entwined fingers. Ange snapped her mouth closed, then smiled generously. 'Fantastic,' she said. 'Just as I suspected all along, sexy, sultry, passionate, tender, loving and down right heart warming.' Booth and Bones exchanged enamoured smiles, delighted she thought so, because it was exactly what they felt their relationship was.

Rung 25

Broadsky drove slowly up the quaint, but gently busy Main Street that ran through the centre of the historic town of Savage, Maryland. He turned left under the gently swinging traffic light gantry, and headed past the mill. It had only taken him thirty minutes to get back to his quiet lair and relative safety and hadn't been followed. The agony in his thigh made his eyes water and contort his features. His breathing was short and he tried to blank out the pain long enough till he turned into his parking spot of the Cherry Blossom Motel. Now all he had to do was to get into his room without being seen with blood soaked jeans. Inside his room he knew he'd enough medication left to numb the pain for his next step; removal of the bullet.

He looked around the parking lot from inside his stolen VW, and waited for a silver haired couple to pass by, who offered him a pleasant smile before they strolled into town for their visit. Checking again, he opened the car door, and hobbled towards his room. He fumbled out the key from his inside jacket pocket, gritting back the searing pain that was shooting up his leg, and stealing his breath. It took two attempts to get the key in the lock with his blurring vision, then it opened. He snatched the key out, and slammed the door behind him, not noticing he'd left a trail of blood drips from his car to the doors porch. Locking the door, he immediately stumbled the four steps towards the double bed, and fell face first onto it. Stifling his moan in the soft chintz patchwork quilt, he rolled onto his back, then began undoing his fly to remove his jeans with his trembling fingers.

Broadsky sat naked in the bathtub, with all he needed balanced on the rims in easy reach. The warm suspending water was already devilish crimson with his blood but the heat eased his pain slightly. His field knife lay on the bottom of the tub between his legs and the vial of methcathinone hydrochloride on the edge by his left hand. He drew out 15mils of the liquid into a syringe, and stabbed it into his left bicep. Pushing the plunger down, he felt the cool sensation trickle through his veins and arteries, calming him. He tipped his head back, closed his eyes, and gave the drug time to hit its mark.

Taking a deep controlling breath, he reached between his legs for his hunting knife, then opened his eyes, looking at its razor sharp pointed tip. Grabbing the complimentary green face cloth, he dipped it in the water, then squeezed it out in one fist. Tentatively he pushed around the wound to feel for the bullet, whilst stuffing the damp facecloth in his mouth, and whimpered. Snapping his teeth down on it, he pushed his index finger into the oozing hole, feeling the hard metal within on the very tip of his finger. He gripped the knife handle hard, panting excessively fast to pump the drugs, adrenalin and endorphins through his system faster, then plunged the tip of the knife into the fleshy hole. His wail of agony was muffled in his gag but still resounded in the small bathroom.

Wasting no more time, and enduring the slicing pain, he gouged around in the hole with the knife, till he felt metal on metal. Twisting the blade tip ninety degrees to dislodge the crushed bullet from the bone, he gasped for air as it sprung free. Then clamping down on his gag, he screamed again, thrashing in the water with his writhing pain, while his eyes streamed. Waiting for the pain to be nullified by his natural endorphins, he panted savagely through his flaring nostrils. He looked like a feeding vampire with blood soaked tongue and running, diluted blood, dripping off his chin, which was squeezed out of the facecloth by his feral bite.

Dropping the knife into the water which had darkened to burgundy, he fingered the bullet out of the hole with pinching trembling fingers. He threw it across the bathroom in disgust and triumph, and drew deeply measured breaths again. Taking a few moments to regroup, he then inspected the damaged muscle and skin carefully. The face cloth dropped from his mouth, and splashed into the cloudy water as he did. Knowing he had no sutures or bandages with him, he improvised.

Draining the water from the tub, he grabbed a hand towel and as the water gurgled down the drain and left his thigh dry, and pushed it over the wound. Getting out of the bath tub, he hobbled back into the bedroom, and ripped off a cotton case from a pillow. He tore at it with his teeth to rip it into makeshift bandages. Then clamped and tied off the strips of material around his thigh, and kept the towel over the top with pressure. Finally he laid down exhausted on the bed, panting, and closed his eyes.

Broadsky jumped when he felt his cell vibrate under him in his removed jean pocket. Managing to retrieve it, he pushed the accept key without looking who was calling him. He listened to the familiar voice talk to him quietly and calmly, as he panted softly. After a few moments his face drained what was left of his colour. Livid and arrogantly dismissive, he threw the cell across the room. It smashed into a sepia picture of Savage; back when carts and horses were the norm around these backwater streets. The modern appliance smashed the glass, and bounced to the floor; but Broadsky didn't notice that the call hadn't disconnected.

He settled carefully back to his comfortable bed, and closed his eyes to sleep.

Rung 26.

Bones watched from her office chair as Booth stood behind one of the pillars which supported the lab's roof, talking on his cell phone. He shuffled on his feet awkwardly, and changed position against the huge stone block, furtively flicking his eyes in her direction. As he did he saw her looking at him, so he waved cutely, and smiled at her. Then he turned his back to her, and carried on talking. Bones thought idly that he was talking to his colleagues at the FBI about something she wasn't going to like the sound of. Her body language reading skills weren't as honed as most but she could tell he didn't want her to read his lips, something he knew she could do.

Ange drew her attention back with, 'So Thursday, I'll pick you up at ten and we'll go to Frank's funeral together then?'

'Yes. Obviously I'll have to go incognito, but I've insisted that they allow me to go. I think Booth is arranging a security detail now. He's acting very cagey and was disturbed that I insisted.'

'I think you should go,' Ange agreed, and gave her reason for thinking that way, 'I can't see Broadsky risking showing his face around here for a while. If as you say, you popped him one in the thigh, he'll be in too much pain anyway, with luck.'

Bones grinned hard at her friend, saying, 'It was very satisfying to shoot him, I have to admit.'

'You should have aimed for his head, Sweetie. I would've done.' Bones quirked her lips, not confessing she almost had. Ange went on, 'Where are you staying tonight, here or at mine?'

'Neither, neither, at home, or Booth's. Personally, I think we'll be safer at mine. They have a detail watching my building 24/7. But I'll wait to see what Booth suggests.' Ange's brows rose to her hair line, surprised by her acquiescence to Booth's opinion, then nodded. 'Oh. Ange?' Bones dropped her tone to secretive, while suddenly tapping on her computer keyboard. 'Can you do me another personal favour?'

Ange blossomed at being asked to do something else for her normally self-sufficient friend. 'Anything, Sweetie, what do you need?' Bones smiled coyly, flicking her eyes to hers, as she copied down a phone number off the screen, then handed it to Ange. Ange looked at the number and the name she written on it, with her jaw dropping.

Bones asked quietly, 'Can you make an appointment with them for me at around twelve thirty, Thursday? That will give us plenty of time to get there after the funeral.'

'Is this what I think it is?'

Bones confirmed, 'Yes, it is,' with a delicate smile trimming her lips. Ange was just about to ask another question when Booth came barrelling into the office under a full head of steam. They noted his eyes were wide and his body tense but in a good way, as he leant on Bones' desk on his knuckles. Ange discreetly folded the paper, and tucked it in her Momsy cleavage.

'Who were you speaking to for so long?' Bones asked casually. Ange got up mid sentence, and left them to it as their eyes followed her out the door. Ange gave them a cute little wave before she disappeared back to her office.

Looking back to Bones, he grinned mischievously. 'No one in particular,' he said, dismissing his long call. 'Did you miss me then?' Another charming smile was thrown at her, she smiled back just as pleasantly, and settled back in her chair.

'You're concealing something from me, I can see it in your eyes,' Bones accused, narrowing her eyes to scrutinise him.

'You're seeing things, Bones. Anyway...' Booth quickly moved on, 'I thought you should know. I've got the ok for both of you to be tailed on Thursday at the funeral. Then I've confirmed we'll be staying at your apartment tonight. It's unlikely Broadsky will be doing anything tonight with a bullet in his leg.' Booth smiled, impressed with Bones as he remembered her wounding Broadsky.

'Agreed. We were just discussing that.' Then she asked hopefully, 'Any news on Broadsky?'

Booth stood straight, and hitched his pants up slightly, preparing to tell her all. 'Ok, this is what's happening... I've got my team plus extras pulling every piece of traffic camera footage from around DC and the subs. They're reviewing the tapes so we can piece together his getaway route. We have the car plate, the make and model. It's time consuming but do-able. The emergency rooms have been tipped off with the description of the injury, Broadsky, and the bullet type. And the State police have been notified to look out for the car too. We might get lucky, you never know... And, we have his rifle and ammo plus, his battered old car...' He waggled his brows excitedly. 'Hodgins is with it now. He's picking the tire treads to pieces and scraping the crud off the under chassis, hopefully giving him a particulate feast to identify and pin point where Broadsky's been.'

Bones nodded, then added, 'I don't expect he'll go to an emergency room, Booth.'

'I agree. I think he's hauled up somewhere licking his wounds. There's another thing that's been bugging me. He didn't look right, Bones.'

'How do you mean?'

'He looked pale, thin and a bit... bit, manic. As if his eyes lacked calm.'

Bones contradicted, even though she knew Booth had known him longer, 'He looked and acted very calm to me, almost superior actually.' Booth nodded, but his brows were still wrinkled.

'That's just it, he looked too casual, he would never let his face be seen under those circumstances. It was like he didn't care about getting caught. Like he was relishing the challenge and the chase, messing with us or something.'

Bones nodded thoughtfully, then changed the subject slightly, 'Oh. I meant to tell you, that partial finger print on the latex glove?' Booth nodded. 'It was his. So we can positively connect him to Frank Dixon's murder.'

'Great work!' Booth sat on her desk, and took her hand, kissing the back of it, as he said softly against it, 'Cam has ordered me to take you home and insists you take a couple of days off. And I happen to agree with her.' To his considerable surprise Bones sighed, sounding submissive and in agreement.

'You'll get no argument from me this time,' she told him, softly caressing his hand in hers, while he brushed a strand of hair off her cheek.

'Come on then. Let's swing by my place to pick up a few things then I'll take you home. We'll eat, drink some wine and cuddle up close 'n' watch the game. Take our minds off all this for a few hours. Sound good?'

'Sounds perfect. What game?' Booth grinned, enchanted she didn't have clue what he was talking about.

Bones' Apartment 14.03

Booth pushed open her apartment door to allow her in before him. Before she crossed the threshold she paused, losing her smile. Something was definitely wrong, she gauged instantly.

'Booth?' she whispered, as he instinctually pulled his gun, and stepped inside, scanning the room. Bones did the same then realised what the difference was, and she could hardly fathom it. She stepped across him, and pushed his weapon down.

'Put it away,' she instructed quietly, adding a nod to reassure she meant it. Booth snagged his head back, unsure, as she strode in to the middle of her lounge, and called out, 'Mrs Dixon? Elsa, is that you?'

Elsa Dixon popped her head out from around Bones' bedroom door, and smiled. Booth noted she had a scarf tied around her head and secured under her chin, and wore a frilly pinafore to protect her clothes. Elsa smiled wide at her, and came out with a duster in one hand and a can of polish in the other. Booth put away his gun quickly, feeling his heart begin to return to its normal rhythm.

'Mrs Dixon, Elsa, what are you doing?' Bones asked incredulously. The little lady smiled affectionately at her, rubbing the freshly polished dinning table briefly as she past it, and neared them.

'What does it look like I'm doing, Tempe?' The feisty plump old lady flared her eyes at Bones haughtily. Bones couldn't help but smile, deeply humbled and astounded this was the same woman that left this building, being supported by her relatives, just three days ago.

Elsa made instantly for Booth, not waiting for an answer from Bones as she reprimanded, 'And... I've got a bone to pick with you, young man.' She scowled at Booth menacingly, with her hands on her hips. He stepped back slightly as Elsa faced up to him, almost level with his Ranger belt buckle. 'What have you done to Tempe's bathroom? It's a disaster in there!' Booth swallowed nervously, and lost his charming smile, dropping his eyes but looking at her from under his lashes. He saw Bones stifle her giggles behind her palm, seeing him so humiliated. 'It's taken me the best part of the morningto clean this apartment,' she continued her rant. 'And I've got three others to do by the end of the day. I've never seen the like!' she said, whilst throwing her hands in the air, then flicking the kettle switch on as she boiled, 'Dust and water marks on the floor, grit on everything. I had to wash and dry all Tempe's knick knacks as they were so caked, and re-wax the floor. Have you never heard of dust sheets?' Bones went to her and before Elsa could turn around, she was hugging her affectionately from behind.

'I'm so glad you came back, Elsa.'

'Whell, I'm obviously needed. I wasn't going to let you down now, was I?' Elsa tried to disguise her charmed smile, as she felt the warm hug from Bones. Then she set her jaw, and motioned to Booth. 'I'd like tea, in a pot, two sugars and a couple of those chocolate cookies from the barrel, and be quick about it.' Booth didn't dare hesitate, and got on with his tea making in silence. Bones and Booth exchanged smiles as Elsa sat down on one of the kitchen island chairs, and finally relaxed with a sigh.

'The funeral is Thursday, are you coming?' Bones nodded, joining her on another stool. 'Good. Frank would appreciate it, I appreciate it. My daughter is staying with me for a few days after, just till I get settled back in.'

'You're going to stay in the building?' she asked disbelievingly.

'Yes, Tempe, this was our home. I can't live with my daughter although she has insisted I do.' Elsa shook her head at the prospect. 'It wouldn't be right. Besides, I'm a tough old girl, I'll be fine.'

'That you are, you're quite remarkable and very resilient. I just thought with what you saw and...' she trailed off as Elsa reached for her hand, and squeezed it.

'Now don't you fret, Tempe.' Elsa patted her hand softly. 'Frank and me had forty two wonderful years and I'm grateful for that time. Not many are so fortunate.' Elsa smiled, then flicked her eyes to Booth so Bones knew she was aware they were together. 'It was a terrible shock finding him like that, I admit. But I was a nurse for twenty two years in the ER, I've seen all manner of things.' Booth placed a pretty plate of cookies in front of her, along with the tea pot, cups, sugar and a jug of milk. As he poured her a brew she looked at him closely.

'You're Tempe's partner then?' Booth nodded, and smiled a little, spooning in two sugars for her.

'Yes, Seeley Joseph Booth. It's good to...'

Elsa cut him off, 'Catholic, a father, decorated soldier, FBI Agent and from Philadelphia by the sound of that twang, I suspect?'

Booth flicked his eyes to Bones, understanding she must have discussed him with her. 'Umm. Yes. All true.'

'Good, lovely... but a terrible plumber obviously.' Losing his smile, Booth pouted, and snuck a glance to Bones. Elsa went on not missing a heartbeat, 'Sit down, I want to talk to you both.' Booth took his place beside Bones, and poured her a cup of tea too. Elsa took a sip, and harr-ed at the refreshing beverage. 'Now, are you close to finding the man that hurt my Frank?' The partners exchanged solemn glances.

Bones answered her question, 'Very close in fact. I shot him this morning in the leg. Unfortunately he got away but we will get him.' Elsa nodded, picking up a cookie, and took a dainty bite.

'When you do, you have my permission to shoot him dead.' She chewed nonchalantly on the cookie, then added, 'Men like him don't deserve to lounge in prison.' Elsa poured some hot tea into her saucer, and sipped the cooler liquid from it sweetly, while the partners exchanged looks. Elsa went on changing the subject, 'Now, are you girlfriend and boyfriend too now?'

Booth answered that pointed question, 'Umm. Yes, yes we are.'

'I only asked because I saw your things about the bedroom and en suite.' She pinned Booth with her olive eyes again. 'The bed was a terrible mess too, so unlike Tempe not to make her bed in the morning.' Booth knew she was implying he was a slob, and blushed, remembering he was the last out of it this morning. Elsa went on, ignoring his blushes, 'It's about time Tempe had a man about the house. But mark my words, if you hurt her,' she warned seriously. 'I promise you'll feel my hand across the back of your legs, do you understand?'

Booth twitched nervously in his seat. 'Yes, Mrs Dixon, I understand completely.' Bones didn't look to Booth, but chose to sip her tea regally, adoring the fact that Booth was terrified of the little lady; who doubled as her surrogate grandmother and heart bodyguard.

'Right, I best get on. I'll see you Thursday then, Tempe.' She got up, and took the polish, duster and all the remaining cookies with her. Bones followed her to the door. She pecked her cheek as Elsa reciprocated with a sweet smile. Then whispered in Bones' ear discreetly, 'He's a darling. You hang on to this one, come what may.' Bones blossomed, delighted she thought so, as Elsa's approval meant more to her than she realised. Then Elsa shouted over Bones' shoulder to Booth, 'Bye, bye, Seeley. See you next week!'

Booth stood instantly, smiled at her hard, and replied, 'Yes, and thank you, Mrs Dixon. Bye.' Elsa smiled at him then to Bones, stroking her cheek gently with deep affection, then trotted off down the corridor. Bones closed the door, and turned. They both stared at each other in silence for a moment, then started laughing.

Bones' Apartment 22.17

Snuggling down under the billowing covers, Booth selflessly warmed her side of the bed sheet with his waggling furry legs. Not having to wait too long for her to reappear. Feeling his heart race, he watched rabidly as Bones ambled out, unashamedly Ruben nude from her ensuite. The pendulum swing of her hips as she crossed the room towards him, made him want to eulogize her goddess status, but he dare not vocalise it. He knew she would dismiss his adulation or reprimand it which would sadden him and make her uncomfortable. So he just enjoyed his internal musings and feasted his eyes, smiling.

Lifting the covers to welcome her beside him, his flesh tingled. Fresh and fragrant from her shower, she slipped in beside him with a blush, at seeing his barely controlled worship and solid arousal.

They instantly rolled to face one another, reaching their Roche limit, as he tucked the covers in around her, and nested her. Bones was grinning, as she stroked over the mesh that covered his stitches. She peeled it off gently, saying softly, 'Let the air get to them now.' Then she placed the slightly soiled mesh on her nightstand, and rested back into his gravity field. He instantly pecked her lips, unable to resist them any longer, and began to caress her back tenderly with his finger tips.

'Cosy, ' she said drowsily. He nodded, and sighed blissfully again, looking to her, so absolutely infatuated, it made her blush again because she knew her expression reflected his. 'It's good to hear Sandy is out of intensive care. I'm relieved, I didn't think...'

'I know, it's great news,' he mirrored softly. 'We should send her some flowers of something, what do you think?'

Bones nodded, pulling him flush, and draping a leg over his shin, 'I'll arrange them tomorrow when I pick up our wreath.' Booth's brows rose, lazily impressed.

'You did a wreath from both of us for Frank?' Bones nodded, nuzzling into his throat, inhaling his luscious masculine fragrance.

'Yes. I thought it appropriate, you being my SO. Was that wrong?'

Deeply touched, Booth complimented,'No. It was very right, Bones. Thanks.' They closed their eyes, and sighed, exhausted and aching slightly after their traumatic day. He mumbled after a few minutes, 'I've booked us a table for dinner on Saturday night.' Bones fluttered her eyes open, and her enamoured smile leached across her face at his ordinary plans. Those simple plans were their anchor and intended to stabilise them, when all about them was in flux and chaos. Then she kissed his throat, tenderly grateful, as he went on, 'Fancy place out of town a way. Longhams, Langhams, something like that anyway.' She nuzzled again, remembering reading a review on the restaurant some time back, and knew it was somewhere special to try. 'Lickie-lip-hums. Oh. I can't remember,' he said humorously, playing down booking their first official date in an avant-garde restaurant. Bones chuckled, then found his lips in the dark, kissing them sweetly several times in soft succession.

A wondrous comforting silence ensued for several minutes until, 'I want to make love to you but I'm so tired,' she confessed sadly, knowing by the warm prod of his member against her stomach he wanted the same. When he didn't reply she opened her eyes to see him asleep, or at least, almost in REM mode. She grinned, then yawned, and re-closed her eyes, feeling his desire subside gently against her.

Four hours later

Booth stirred, feeling his chest wet, and the woman he loved shivering in his embrace. She was muttering, clearly agitated, and still dreaming. His heart ached for the nightmare she was clearly having.

'No, no... Oooh. Noooo...' she bleated pathetically. Booth held her tighter, and kissed the top of her head through her soft hair.

'Shhh. S'ok, Tempe,' he whispered tenderly. She jerked suddenly, awaking from her nightmare, and stopped breathing for a moment. She took a moment to realise where she was; safe in her bed, in the arms of her partner. When she drew in a breath, she felt the tears she'd been dripping on his chest, then gave in, adding to them copiously. She snuffled into his warm chest, and gripped him tighter as she wept.

'I'm here,' he said sympathetically, holding her back more possessively.

'Don't let go,' she murmured, terrified he might, still half in her dream, half out.

That fragile request brought tears to his eyes. 'Never...' Snuggling down to be face to face with her, he asked tenderly, 'Tell me...' Kissing her cheeks as she stared into his brimming eyes, he encased her in all his limbs. He thought she felt so frail all of a sudden and incredibly small.

Bones sniffed, searching his pupils. 'That girl, that poor girl snuffed out,' she began, with her chin wobbling. He nodded, understanding. 'And San-dy...' she stuttered, as more warm tears of pain and guilt dripped onto her human pillow. 'Oh. God, Frank and Peter Foster, Craven and Franks too, all because of me, me, Booth.' Booth shook his head, and crushed her to him.

'No, none of this is your fault. Feel for them, cry, grieve but do not accept the guilt, because the guilt is all his, only his.'

'I should have shot him. He's out there, somewhere, he's going to hurt more people,' she said, getting agitated again.

'You did the right thing, believe that. We'll get to him, Tempe, we will.'

Several minutes of silence yawed out between them filled with their un-aired thoughts before she had the courage to say, 'You died.' She said it so softly he almost didn't hear her admission. Then she looked back into his eyes, explaining, 'He shot you and I couldn't breathe or move.' Booth understood that had been her nightmare. 'I couldn't pull the trigger, my fingers wouldn't work. Then it was too late.'

'Ooh. Bones, it was a nightmare, just a nightmare. You did shoot him though.' Bones lifted her head off his chest, and looked into his eyes, slightly confused as in her nightmare she had eventually. But she couldn't fathom how he knew that. Booth grinned, and pecked her lips softly. 'You did, didn't you?' Bones nodded slowly, with a hand over his beating heart. 'I know you, in the real world you're so strong,' he said admiringly. 'Courageous and imperiously rational. In dreams those qualities leave us and show us our deepest fears. Think about it, you shot him in your dream and in the real world though. Trust in yourself, the real you, not your dreams.'

Bones smiled at him, feeling a whole lot better for his logical, comforting pep talk. She collapsed slowly over him again, and sighed. 'I'm sorry for waking you,' she told him, knowing she wouldn't sleep again till the alarm sounded.

'Don't say that, never be sorry for waking me. I could be awake for an eternity and never get tired of holding ya.'

'That sounded very romantic and sincere,' she whispered against his rising chest, calming, as she felt his body alive and beating strongly against hers. Her nightmare was quickly forgotten and evaporated into the ether, like a mist burnt off by their generated warmth.

'So is this,' he whispered seductively, and slid his hand up her thigh carefully towards her garden. 'Relax, let me get you back to sleep.' Bones opened her legs compliantly, and hummed into his throat.

'An orgasm will wake me...' she explained, arching as his fingers caressed her pleasure centre softly, happy to be awake all night if they held one another like this.

He rolled her flat to the mattress, and snuffled his words into her ear, 'Several will tire you out. Let me find out how many it takes...' Bones sighed softly, edging her hand to his on her to feel him touch her.

'I can't resist your touch,' she said generously, then added sweetly, 'Or your lips...' Then she kissed him and didn't stop.

Booth counted, and watched compulsorily four airless climaxes before she comatosely pushed his hand away to halt him. Only then did she stop kissing him, and sighed back into her, now, sweet painless dreams. He cuddled her still, and spent the next half hour listening to her mew peacefully. In that half hour he hurt for her turmoil, guilt and worry, fearing what else they would have to endure before they apprehended Jacob. Although he told her she was strong and he believed that but it clearly was not the whole story. Although she rarely let her deepest fears known, she couldn't help them manifesting in her subconscious. He was so relieved he was here to comfort her, and felt special that she found the courage to let him see her so vulnerable. For him, that was a positive sign for their future relationship.

Eventually he succumbed to his own needed slumber, and drifted into his own dreams with a smile on his lips.

Rung 27

Wednesday. Cherry Blossom Motel 09.37

Broadsky snapped his eyes open, and grabbed is SW9VE from his blood congealed jean pocket as there was a rap at his door, followed by a sweet, 'Mr Taffet? Mr Taffet, it's housekeeping. May I come in?'

'Eerr. Not today, Mrs Weinberg. No thank you. I've got a terrible cold, the flu maybe. I'm just sleeping through it.'

'Oh. I'm so sorry to hear that. Can I get you anything?'

'No, no. I have medication. I just want to sleep. I'll call reception if I need anything but thanks for the offer.'

Mrs Weinberg smiled, and went to leave for the next room. But when she saw the handle on the door smeared with what she thought looked like blood, she stilled. 'Oh. The handle,' she said, thinking aloud, then asked through the door, 'Have you hurt yourself, Mr Taffet, there seems to be blood on the handle here?'

Broadsky thought quickly, and tied to sound casual with his reply, 'Umm. Yes. Sorry, Mrs Weinberg, I thought I got it all. That old heap of a car broke down again yesterday. And when I was trying to fix it, the hood dropped on my hands. No bones broken but blood everywhere. So I hired a new one, can you see it? The grey VW...' Mrs Weinberg turned to see the car he was talking about, and smiled, readily accepting his plausible explanation.

'Yes, I see it. Sounds like you've been in the wars, you poor man. I'll leave you to rest then. Feel better soon, Mr Taffet,' she said airily.

'Thank you, bye, Mrs Weinberg...' Broadsky relaxed again, as he heard her walk along the deck to the next room to continue her chores, and the rattle of her keys as she opened the door.

Mrs Weinberg pulled out the key from the door, preparing to go in but something stopped her. She turned to look back at the VW, and her brows furrowed deeply. She thought to herself, since when do hire cars have fluffy pink pigs galore sitting on the back shelf, or air fresheners in the shape of glittery high heels hanging from the rear view mirrors? Still deliberating, but having a strange sense of unease about where Mr Taffet had got the car from, she went into the next room to clean it.

As she got to the dressing table by the window thirty minutes later that over looked the parking lot, she stared for a moment at the VW, still cogitating it. As she polished it absently, still staring at the car, it was then that she felt the hairs on the back of her six two year old neck stand on end, as she read the personalised number plate.

She muttered to herself, 'That's not a hire car, no way, or I'm a monkey's aunt...'

The Hoover Building. 10.23

Booth poured himself a cup of coffee from the jug in the refreshment room, and slurped the rich dark, but unfortunately, stale coffee. He immediately spat it back into his cup, grimacing and yuck-ing.

'That's disgusting,' Sweets admonished, as he joined the agent.

'I know!' Booth agreed, tipping the brackish brew down the sink, and searched the cupboards for some instant to make.

'No, I meant spitting.' Booth threw his eyes to his cold north, bored with him already as he hovered behind him. Booth couldn't find any instant but did spot teabags. He quirked his lips, fingering the little sack, deciding whether to have such non-masculine brew. He considered; Bones drank tea, so did Mrs Dixon, millions of British people and nearly everyone in China and India. So, if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for him, he concluded.

Booth popped the bag in his cup, and flicked the kettle switch on, as Sweets asked him, 'How's the search going?'

Not wanting to have a conversation with Sweets about his verging relationship with Bones, which he knew was his real question, Booth remained distant with Sweets, rather than tell him to piss off. 'Fairly slowly,' he replied succinctly, watching the kettle start to heat up with his back to Sweets, who was sitting casually at the round table, watching him. Booth knew he was studying him, figuring him out or at least trying to, which made his nostrils flare in aggravation. He hated it when Sweets narrowed his eyes at him like he knew he was right now, and that he was trying to read his mind. That liberty he only gave one person dear to him.

Sweets subtlety pushed again, 'Dr Brennan is taking a couple of days off, I believe?'

'Yeah, so? She did get shot yesterday...' Booth tried to hide his irritation at yet another absurd question, but failed miserably, and didn't care.

Sweets countered effortlessly, 'And you split your head open on a windscreen, damaged a rib, not to mention the mild concussion you received, and yet you're here, working.' Booth knew this line of questioning and his statements had nothing to do with days off, but their handling of recent events.

Booth sighed, and turned, leaning on the worktop, and folded his arms over his stomach. 'What's your point, Sweets?'

'Maybe you should take a couple of days off too?'

'Really? You think I should take a couple of days off when there's a man out there trying to blow Bones' head apart? Seriously, this is what you think I should do?' he asked sarcastically, feeling his fist clench in this crossed arm pose.

'I'm sensing some hostility from you, Booth...'

'Damn straight you are!' Booth spun as the kettle clicked off, and poured the water over the teabag. Sweets looked out to the other Agents who were looking in their direction hearing Booth's raised voice. They flicked their eyes away again, and got on with their laborious tasks, but pretended not to eavesdrop.

Sweets looked back to him. 'Why are you angry with me?' he asked, sounding hurt by the insinuation. Booth laughed ironically, shaking his head, while prodding the teabag hard with a teaspoon.

'You wanna know why I'm pissed off with you?' Booth spooned out the teabag, and threw it in the trash. Then he slopped milk into his brew, and stirred so fast the liquid vortex overflowed the rim and trickled down the sides.

'Yes, I think it only fair,' Sweets confirmed. Booth wanted to deliver a right hook to his jaw to knock him on his ass for being so condescending and smug. However Booth had taken a good look at himself in the mirror over the last few days. Bones had showed him another way of dealing with his anger issues and frustrations without using violence. Booth realised now was the time to make a change and he had to start with himself, and put what he'd learnt into practice, right now.

Booth didn't look at him, but picked up his tea, and said, 'You better come with me then...' Then he paced out of the refreshment room, and headed towards his office. Sweets followed him quickly, feeling a little nervous, realising Booth was seething under the surface about something but didn't understand what. All the other agents furtively watched as the pair went inside their boss' office.

Booth sat down at his desk, and took a sip of tea as Sweets sat opposite him. It was only then, when they were face to face and privately sealed in the office, that Booth said calmly, but powerfully, 'It was you that analysed the letter I received, wasn't it?' Sweets nodded, and swallowed nervously. 'Furthermore, it was because of your assessment and recommendations that the surveillance and protection of Dr Brennan was cancelled, wasn't it?' Sweets shifted uncomfortably in his chair; he thought that report was private and was to be kept from Booth. Sweets finally nodded, seriously scared for his health, seeing Booth's ire brewing under his pristine white shirt and tie.

Booth narrowed his eyes, bayoneting Sweets to the spot. 'No, don't deny it, I have sympathisers in these offices and I've read the report you wrote on my, instability and lack of... How did you put it? Oh. Yeah, I have it here...' Booth flicked open the file under a pile of others, and read his words back aloud to him as Sweets squirmed in his chair, 'Blar, blar, blar... While the threat to Dr Brennan could be genuine, I'm concerned that Agent Booth's predisposition for over-protection towards his partner is a consequence of his clinical condition, commonly known as, white knights syndrome.' Booth flicked his flaming eyes up to Sweets across the table, before he read on, 'Therefore making him take irrational decisions on flimsy evidence and place unreasonable demands on the team working under him in this case.'

'I stand by that, Booth.'

'Special Agent Booth actually, Dr Sweets,' Booth reprimanded his sudden informality, and so put this conversation back on a professional basis. 'How very honourable of you to stand by your words. However, may I respectfully remind you, Dr Sweets, that flimsy evidence is now proven.'

Sweets opened his mouth to say something, but shut it again when Booth leaned slightly forward over the table, lowered his tone, and laced his fingers, 'I've been doing this job for longer than you've been out of pull-ups. Mine and Dr Brennan's record for catching, detaining and prosecuting perpetrators of heinous crimes is unsurpassed within these hallowed walls, as you well know.' Sweets felt well and truly smacked across the face, and his stomach torque tightened with the harsh humbling words Booth was scolding him with. Sweets wanted Booth to punch him now; as at least then this would be over. It was only going to get worse.

'I find it incomprehensible that you made a decision based on a personal matter pertaining to me, rather than my impeccable professional record, skills and greater experience.'

Sweets tried to defend his action, 'I had to assess your...'

Booth interrupted him quickly, and snapped, 'I don't give a damn what you think of me or write about me to my superiors behind my back.' Booth then took a breath, and calmed his tone, sounding reminiscent of his old school master, 'But consider this carefully for the future, Dr Sweets... Your report put, not only Dr Brennan's life at greater risk, you put my team at risk too, by thwarting our attempts to apprehend this person sooner. Now one jogger lies dead in the morgue, one smoker hurled from a roof top, another dear man weeks from retirement, blown away. Sandy at the diner, who has served you many times, critically ill. Two of my best agents are injured and this sniper did shoot my partner yesterday...' Sweets wanted to hang his head in shame but kept staring into Booth's chilled eyes, feeling like a shivering schoolboy in the Principle's office and completely disloyal. He realised that was essentially what Booth was so angry about; he'd betrayed, not just him, but Bones as well by not consulting with him. Booth had clearly lost respect for him and his opinion of him as a professional was no longer valued so highly with the trust gone.

Booth sat back slightly, then went on softly, 'It seems to me that my flaw isn't a flaw at all, rather an admirable quality. Actions speak louder than just words or opinions in the real world, I've found. If more of us had this, so called condition and stood up and faced our enemies to protect the people important to us, despite the financial costs, many more innocents might be alive today...' Booth let his words sink in, seeing Sweets unable to disguise his wilting. Sweets knew he wasn't directly blaming him for those death or injuries, but Booth did have a very valid point that he'd not foreseen the effect that his classified report might have. 'Do you know what noble motto is written on every law enforcement badge in this country?'

Sweets sat up a little, and took a shallow breath. 'Yes, to serve and protect.' Booth nodded.

'Protect, yes,' he confirmed, accentuating the word distinctly, then he placed the simile between them, 'Like a white knight protects his charge at all costs, so does the lawman or woman. That, Dr Sweets, was all I was trying to do and all I shall ever do...' Sweets drained of colour, and finally hung his head, not able to look into Booth's disappointed eyes any longer.

Booth picked up his tea mug and before he took a sip, he closed Sweets' report file, tossing it aside, and he sighed heavily. He said, dismissing Sweets from his office with, 'I've nothing more to say to you on this matter. Good morning...'

Sweets looked into his face but Booth refused to exchange the glance. He sipped his tea, and flicked open another file, getting on with his work. Sweets rolled out of the chair, and left the room in silence, closing the door quietly behind him. He looked towards the Agents following his exit, then dropped his eyes, as he hurried away.

Bones' apartment 12.32

Bones walked happily on the sunshine under her feet, carrying three bags of groceries and a quart of milk under her arm. As she strolled in the spring light, the touch of the breeze on her face made her smile. It reminded her of his sleeping breaths on her cheeks, and she grinned. That in turn reminded her of a song lyric, and she hummed the tune on the way back up to her apartment.

True happiness was a rare commodity in this day and age, but she felt she'd been given her personal abundant quantity recently, and needed to be generous with that privileged sensation.

As she put away the groceries she'd purchased, feeling the overwhelming urge to hear his voice, and deliver on her personal pledge to spread her happiness. And who better to share it with than the man who'd made her feel this way to start with? she mused.

Bones flung open her balcony doors to let the fresh air in to play, picked up her cell, and settled on the couch lotus style with the sun and dancing air caressing her face. She pushed speed dial 1, then speaker phone, placing her cell beside her, and waited for him to answer.

'Heeey, Bones, you ok?' he asked, sounding delighted she'd called but Bones noted an inflection of sadness buried under his greeting.

'I'm fine. Enjoying my day off immensely actually, surprisingly. What's wrong, Booth?'

He sighed softly, saying sweetly, 'Baby Duck... Daddy Duck just plucked a few feathers on his backside.'

'Ooooh, Booth. Did you kick him?' she enquired, hoping he hadn't hit him.

'Haa. No, I wanted too,' Booth said honestly, then went on sadly, 'But I feel real bad now, he was so sad I'd tore him off a strip.'

'I expect he was.' Bones looked to her left hand, and twiddled the tuning keys slowly. 'Tough love, Booth, that's what you called it.' She plucked at the metal strings, knowing what Booth had discovered last week about Sweets' report. She knew Booth was going to pull him up on it if the right moment presented itself, and she'd agreed he should when he told her about it yesterday. Bones was stoic in her consolations though, 'He'll get over it, Booth. He's a growing duck now, and you have to accept that...' Bones strummed a cord, and smiled wryly, preparing to play.

'Suppose...' Booth conceded, then asked, 'Bones, what's that twanging noise? Have you got your stereo on or are you snapping your French knicker elastic?'

Bones snorted at his joke. 'No, I'm tuning my Gibson.'

Booth instantly forgot about Sweets shuffling away with his tail between his legs, and sat back in his chair, grinning madly. He was so turned on that the tiger in his pocket wanted to growl. 'Oooh. Jeeze-us, Bones, do you know how hot that sounds to me?' he drooled, in a husky, take me I'm yours, tone.

Bones grinned even wider, and looked to her cell, irrationally hoping to see his face. 'Everything I do gets you hot, it seems. I just have to sneeze and you come over all misty eyed or feral, that's very idiosyncratic behaviour.' She continued to pluck, and tighten the strings, listening to the tone change to the pure pitch.

Booth imagined her tuning the guitar, and stood up out of his chair, too excited to sit any longer, while he defended his reactions to her adorable sneezing, 'That's because it just sounds so cute when you do.' He imitated her delicate, girly sneeze, 'Ar-cheew-ar-chewoo.'

'Haa. Stop making fun or I won't play you something,' she warned. Booth wandered around his office aimlessly, straining to hear all he could down the line from her, seeing nothing but his image of her playing guitar. 'I haven't played him in so long...' she confessed, sounding a little disappointed in herself for neglecting him. She went on as Booth's brows rose to his hairline, 'He was metaphorically shouting at me when I returned from grocery shopping to pick him up.' Bones chose her riff, and prepared.

Booth asked, intrigued, 'Him?'

'Yes.' She grinned seductively, as she said just as sultrily, 'He wants to play with me a little...' Bones played the first six bars of the riff with aplomb and dexterity, as her apartment rocked to her instrument.

Booth nearly wet himself with excitement, and jigged around his office, bobbing his head to her choice of tune to play him. 'Wow! Voodoo chile, awesome, Bones,' he gushed, naming the song the opening riff was from, strumming along with her exuberantly, with Mick Jagger lips.

While her fingers played, and her smile grew at his boy-ish excitement, she asked over the cords casually, 'How's your back?'

Booth rattled off, 'Great, kinda, sorta' a little stiff.' The men outside his office were looking at him strangely, some were laughing at him doing his rock star impression, but he didn't care.

Bones changed into another riff seamlessly, explaining, 'You missed your analgesics this morning, that's why.' Then two cords later she guessed, 'You're playing air guitar, aren't you?'

'Hell yeah,! Keep going, I'll grab some pills later, promise.' Booth racked his brains, trying to recognise the riff now, and head-banged joyously his way through it till he got it. He put his cell on speaker so he had two free hands to strut his stuff.

'Good. I've decided to give you a massage tonight. Thought we'd have Mac and cheese for dinner, sound good?' she asked over the sliding twang.

'Umm. Or-gasmic, Bones!' Then he sang the lyrics, not caring how loud he was or how off key, 'And ya give yourself away! And ya give! Give ya-self awaaay. With or without you! I can't live with or with-out you... HOooh!'

'Haa,' Bones laughed hard, hearing him lose all decorum or inhibitions, imagining him dancing badly, and grimaced slightly at his tuneless singing. Then she carried on their conversation over her playing and his singing, 'I'll drop Parker off at Rebecca's tonight. I anticipate you'll be late back for dinner.'

Booth stopped rocking, when he heard her say that, 'Oh. Bones, I cancelled him earlier, you're supposed to be resting.'

Bones stopped playing immediately. 'Oh. Booth! You can't, he was so looking forward to his enrichment tonight. I've made plans.'

Booth grimaced, feeling rightly scolded. 'Yeah, he did seem pretty bummed when I spoke to him.'

'Well you can un-bum him,' she instructed, flexing her fingers, and began to play quietly now. 'I'm not cancelling on him for a few bruises. Ring his school and tell them I'm picking him up at three as usual. Ok?'

Booth opened his office door with a short sharp snatch, and smiled at all his team, waggling his cell at them. 'Yeah, I ring later,' he confirmed blithely. The team all understood as they heard the electric guitar why he'd been acting like a freak in his office, and stood too, slowly edging around the cell to listen.

Turning up the volume, and placing the cell on the nearest desk, Booth jumped to a rock God pose, then began playing his imaginary guitar with the rest of his impressed head-bobbing colleagues. Unbeknown to Bones she had a captive audience, as she played the hell out of her instrument with effortless flare.

Bones leapt in her seat, stunned, and surprised when she heard a chorus of screaming male FBI voices wail down her cell, 'Borrrrn-in-da-USA! I waz-booorn in the USA!' Then she laughed heartily, realising the whole of the team were playing air guitar and enjoying her, not so private now, impromptu gig. Indulging their exuberance till the break, she played on. Eventually slightly embarrassed, she slowly stopped playing so loudly to a howl of complaints and grunting from Booth and his pumped colleagues.

Booth snatched up the phone again, and spoke into it, panting, 'Aww, Bones, don't stop,' he pleaded.

'You'll have the top floor down in a moment. Enough, all of you, get back to work,' she admonished, but unable to lose her charmed smile as a plethora of moans and generous praise that accompanied her instruction. 'Take me off speaker, Booth,' she said softy. He did as instructed, and held the cell to his hot ear, returned to his office, and closed the door on his slowly mellowing, geed up team.

Bones continued to play, slowly and softly now as he warbled, 'That was incredible, Bones. I nearly came in the shorts it felt so good,' he whispered secretively, as he sat back down. 'Did you hear the guys? They're all smiling now, thanks to you. They needed that as much as me.'

'Good, I'm pleased to have alleviated the tedium of wading through hours of CCTV footage and security film. I appreciate all their endeavours to keep me safe, and yours obviously. I'll see you later at your abode, ok?'

'Sure.' Then he sighed, closing his eyes. 'Can't wait to hold ya again, Bones.'

'Umm,' she agreed melodiously, looking out to the sun glaring her vision. 'This one's just for you...' she said softly. Booth went silent as she played a subtle melody gently. Booth listened to the tender notes, and smiled, but couldn't place the tune though. The last note hung out for a few moments then she disconnected her call without saying another word.

Parker's School yard. 3.06

A jubilant young man came trotting quickly down the stoop of his school's building. With his plump rucksack slung over his shoulder, and his hair wild, he stopped. His sunlit eyes were wide and crackling with excitement and expectation, as he scanned the gathered parents for his friend.

Bones smiled hard when she saw him spot her in the crowd. He waved boisterously at her, making her chuckle, as she twinkled a wave back. He bounded towards her, swerving through the throngs at pace. Rushing his breaths as he ran the last few meters to her. Making her throat close over, Parker ran straight into her body with a thump, and swung his arms around her waist. She hugged him back hard, then squatted down, looking into his vibrant blue eyes, unable to veil her deep affection for him. 'Are we still going?' he asked, with such hope and enthusiasm she wanted to kiss his puckered pink cheeks.

Bones nodded fast, flaring her eyes at him to reassure, and match his obvious excitement. 'Of course! Have you got the form signed and with you?' He nodded wildly, and they walked to her car, chatting excitedly on the way, as he handed her the form, and she checked it.

Booth's apartment 19.37

The mouth watering aroma of a home cooked meal again filled his nostrils, and awakened his hibernating stomach instantly. He closed his apartment door, and turned, finding his lounge dimly lit but by a store-full of flickering candles. They covered his mantle, and coffee table too. The amber light they casually threw off shimmered and danced shadows across his castle walls and ceiling. Smiling at the cosy ambiance she'd set, he hung up his short trench, then felt her arms gently snake around his waist, and she interlaced her fingers over his stomach. She rested her head on his shoulder, as he tipped his head back, and slid his hands over hers. 'Missed you,' she said softly. 'How was your day?' He turned slowly in her welcoming embrace, to find her without a stitch on except a gossamer smile.

His eyes languidly gorged themselves, shamefully embarrassed by his primal need to stare. 'Oh. Bones, what are you doing to me?' Bones knew that wasn't a complaint, more a reverential statement.

After last night, seeing him desperately confining his adoration of her naked form and how he practically drooled over her feminine wiles, she felt this was an opportunity to generously pander to his masculine true nature. She knew that sexual arousal for men was all about seeing, whereas the fair sex, relied on the touch of a gentle hand and soft words. So she allowed him to see and look without the cultural shame.

'Looking after my SO after a hard day's work.' She took his hand in hers, and gently, slowly lead him through the lounge and into the bathroom. The bathroom was similarly dressed, and remarkably tidy, he noticed. The bath was full of scented water, and on the bath-tidy was a cool glass of milk and two pain relief tablets, ready for his immediate consumption.

'Oh. Bones.' He squeezed her hand, she lifted up on her toes, to peck his lips softly.

'Get in 'n' take the tablets, I'll bring in your meal in a moment.' Booth started to get undressed, avidly watching her as she turned on the record player, and carefully placed the stylus on the vinyl.

'This is too much, Bones. I'm not used to being looked after like this,' he explained, humbled.

She smiled, and turned. 'I know.' Taking his jacket and shirt from him, she waited patiently as he stripped the rest of his clothes off. 'All the more reason I should treat you once in a while. Don't expect this treatment every night. Besides, I have a very selfish reason for doing all this.'

He chuckled, doubting her reason, whatever it was, and settled into the water with a long happy groan, and closed his eyes. 'What's that then?' he asked, rolling his head on the tub to look at her.

'You'll see, feel,' she corrected quietly, then left him after encouraging him to, 'Take the medication.' He nodded, happily doing as instructed.

The music was lulling him easily, the soft light eased his tired eyes, while he felt the heat of the water soothe his back to a dull ache. Nothing he couldn't handle but by the time she returned, the pills had obliterated any discomfort completely.

Handing him a plate and fork piled high with his favourite dish, she sat down on the toilet lid covered with a towel, and ate with him. Booth couldn't help but notice she was still imperially nude, and obviously had no intention of covering herself up any time soon. Not that he minded in the least, he just couldn't help his natural male response or take his eyes off her as she sat cross-legged, and munching her meal casually.

She asked, 'So, tell me how your day went and I'll tell you mine after...' Pennies were dropping in his slots like raindrops from April shower clouds. Now he knew this was what she hadn't had for so long; someone to share the minutia of their day with her. Touched by her genuine need to know and grateful to get the day out of his head, Booth told her everything he could recall. From the moment he stalled the car at the first set of traffic lights as he left her apartment this morning, to the team head-banging around his cell phone, which made her laugh out loud, and nearly choke on her current mouthful. Then finally how far they got on the case, to when he stepped inside his candle lit apartment and was seductively greeted by her.

Taking the empty plate from him, and offering him the rest of hers to finish, which he couldn't, she smiled, pleased to see him relax even more into the warm water. He sighed, totally free of his tedious day, free of pain, and utterly replete. 'Come out when you're ready,' she told him restfully, and disappeared again.

Booth spent a few more minutes in the cooling water, letting his meal settle, but didn't want to be away from her for too long. He dried off as the tub emptied, turned off the music, then wrapped a towel around his hips.

As he padded out to the lounge she was sat cross-legged on the floor beside a long oval of candles. In the middle of which were towels, obviously for him to lay on so she could massage him. It was then that he remembered her comment at lunch. Feeling suddenly very touched and cared for, he squatted behind her. She looked over her shoulder to him, and grinned, cocking a brow seductively. 'I told you I had my selfish reasons,' she said, pointing to the towels laid over seat pads from his couch. Booth made for the makeshift massage table, after smooching her lips softly in gratitude, and lay down on his stomach. She went on, pulling off his towel, 'I found over four dollars in lose change under these pads, which I'm keeping. I need the cash.' Booth huffed a chuckle at her little joke and the irony, settling himself. 'Three pens, which you can keep and a TV remote control which doesn't work with your TV. I think we should dispose of it.' Booth rested his brow on backs of his crossed palms, giving himself over to her capable hands, and snuffled his laughter in the towel his hands rested on.

Booth felt warm fragrant sandalwood oil being poured down the line of his spine, and mumbled his joy at the sensation. To his surprise she gently, carefully straddled his lower buttocks. Then she settled her pillow soft buttocks against the backs of his thighs. He groaned a little louder this time as their bare flesh sealed together.

Bones could feel his buttocks clench as she settled, and felt herself begin to moisten. She began her recount her day to him now, placing her flat palms on the small of his well defined back, 'I've had a wonderfully productive day.' She slowly pushed her oiled hands up either side of his spine; which was accompanied by yet another rumble of delight from him.

Bones ran her hands back down just as slowly, then began her deep tissue massage of his broad back. 'Once you'd left I changed our bed linen, showered, then went to my clinic, beauty clinic for the usual feminine treatments...' she corrected before he got agitated. Booth grinned shyly, knowing why she corrected herself for his benefit. 'I went grocery shopping at my local stores and stocked up the fridge. I visited Sandy too, I didn't stay too long as she was extremely tired, understandably. However she was pleased to see me and thanked us for the flowers.' Booth nodded, pleased she'd found the time to pay her a visit. 'I did nothing out of the ordinary, but it was nice to do the normal things for a change, you know?' Booth nodded, charmed by how relaxed she sounded too. 'Then I called you, do you know why?' He shook his head slightly. 'I had the strangest impulse to hear your voice, isn't that peculiar? I couldn't resist calling you, I'm so glad I did...'

Booth interrupted her softly, 'What's his name?'

Bones smile slyly, leaning down, and whispered in his ear, 'That's for me to know and you to find out, eventually.' Booth smiled at her teasing him, and his mind ran wild with the possibilities.

'What was the song you played for me, it's been bugging me all afternoon. I know it but...' He heard her laugh softly, and her hands still for a moment.

Thrilling his heart she sang the lyrics for him sweetly, softly, 'Love-ing you is easy cos you're beautiful...' Pushing down on his turning shoulders because he wanted to kiss her, deeply touched by her choice of song, she stopped him from moving gently. She smoothed his muscles with the easy slip of her hands over his skin, then began working on one shoulder, up to his nape and over his bicep. 'Every time that we... oooh. I'm more in...' she sang seductively, but feeling him shifting his pelvis, sensing his growing erection, she stopped singing, and bit her bottom lip. Knowing he must be able to feel her own moist heat on his thighs, she closed her eyes to the raucous hormones which were tormenting her divinely.

The clinical anatomical names of his toned muscles, which she knew in four languages and Latin, left her now as she manipulated them all with female worship. This was the sensational indulgence she was allowing herself. It was agony to know they still had a few days to wait before they could make love, but that torment made the wait bittersweet.

'What else did you do?' he mumbled lazily, as she slipped over to the other shoulder, and caressed that one with as much mutual delight.

'I read a book after my performance and ate lunch.'

'A whole book?'

'Ar har. One of my professional colleagues has just published. It was a very informative read, actually. For lunch I had baked, sliced aubergine tossed in a salad with olive oil and sweet balsamic vinegar. It was delicious and then a luscious pomegranate. They're purported to have aphrodisiacal properties...' She grinned wryly, on hearing him rumble like the storm that was brewing between them.

Bones worked down his slick glistening back, while reaching for one of the broad candles beside her, feeling her garden come to life. Angling the candle over his back, she dripped the hot wax over his most tender spot. He sucked in a breath through his molars, and growled, which she felt in her hand and through her thighs to agitate her nerve ends with pleasure. 'This technique is similar to therapeutic stone massage. More?' she asked almost at a whisper, knowing he wasn't going to refuse the dangerous slither of pain mixed with the soothing sensation that followed immediately. He nodded, turning his head to try and see her do it to him. Although he knew of the stone massage technique, he also knew this was wasn't anything to do with that, it was just hugely erotic for both of them. This was a precursor to becoming intimate again, which, from the moment he walked through his door, was inevitable.

Tipping the wax from the candle again, Bones watched the clear running liquid condensed to milk white as it made contact with his flexing oiled flesh. Then it solidified as all the heat from it seeped into his back. 'Fuck, Bones. Hotter - make it hotter,' he instructed gutturally. She knew he wanted her to pour it closer to his skin, deepen the danger and sensation.

She whistled silently, feeling herself gush wet between her petals. 'Just a little then,' she purred, still massaging his hip with one hand, then wiping the warm wax off his spine; it slipped away easily on his heavily oiled back. 'Ready?' He nodded, clenching his fists, and waited for the illicit sensation to return. The splash of wax pooled on his lumber region again, and he sucked in another breath through gritted teeth, writhing under her buttocks. 'Good, so good,' he grumbled, wiggling again.

As he was savouring the sensation, she slipped off him. 'Turn over,' she instructed. Booth swallowed, and rolled over, staring into her flushed face. He could see her desire etched in her eyes while her body shimmered in the raw candlelight. His member sprang straight up now and handsomely bold. She eased him up. 'Sit lotus style,' again she gave her gentle command. He looked to her a little dubious of what she had in mind, so she tempted him, 'It's gonna feel so sinful.' She flared her seducing eyes at him, adding the payoff, 'But equally, so good...'

She was his temptress; a capricious Eve to his dedicated Adam; and just like Adam, couldn't resist her offered fruit. Booth couldn't withstand the enticement to do something sexually edgy and fresh either. Until this moment candles were to him a source of light in a blackout, or to set a soft romantic mood, that was all. But now he learnt, they had another function; a sexually explicit means to a lusty end. There was nothing soft or romantic about them now, this was all about primal desire and mutual hedonism.

Unable to deny her or himself anything, Booth did as instructed, and sat lotus style. She put the candle down beside her, excited by his zeal to comply. Re-oiling her hands, she then latched her mouth to his, as she massaged his iron hard member. Coating him thoroughly through his writhing movements, they kissed hungrily. They both knew what was going to happen, neither one wanting to restrain themselves. Thoughts and questions rushed through their minds; will this hurt too much, was it going to be safe? However those questioned were left unanswered due to the overwhelming urge to experience this together.

Finally he watched her position herself, helping as she sat on his lap carefully, and wrapped her legs around his hips. He made sure his member was up between them, keeping her safe. Then as he wrapped his hands around her hips, to hold her close to his pelvis, she gasped as their sexes made intimate first contact. He felt himself tremble and all his muscles tighten in preparation. 'I've been planning this all day,' she confessed shakily. 'You're the sexiest man alive to me. My hands won't keep still when you're near, I just have to touch you.' He smiled, moved by her sexy unexpected admission, flexing his pelvis to stimulate her heavily dewed garden. He could see a flicker of nervousness in her eye as she reached for another candle.

Booth caught her hand, saying, 'Let me, please.' Bones grinned, relinquishing the honour to him. 'Oil your beautiful breasts for me,' he instructed her now. Bones did as he watched her use the oil on her hands to lubricate them. He kissed her again passionately, and she responded just as deeply, squeezing her slippery breasts in either palm.

Feeling his free hand slide up her back to support her, she leant back, to watch as he dripped the wax over her puckered, glistening nipple. As the heat pierced her skin like tormenting needles then splashed the heat around it, she gushed, 'Oh-God, Booth, in-incredible.' He quickly did the same to the other nipple, emboldened by her instant reaction. She wriggled on his lap, which made him gasp as their sexes contacted fully again. 'Yes! Awww,' she crooned, snapping her eyes open, and looked to his throbbing cock poking up between them to add to her visual arousal. 'Pour it, do it to both of us, make us orgasm, Seeley,' she implored, clinging onto the dangerous precipice by her newly manicure fingernails.

Instantly Booth poured more the hot wax over her garden and his crown. They both cried out to the sharp pain, gasped as the heat of the wax injected their flesh, and moaned in unison as it cooled. 'Aa-again,' she begged, leaning right back, thrusting her garden into his burning shaft, gripping his forearms. This time Booth made sure some went directly on to her throbbing pip, as soon as it hit she jumped on his lap, and rocked wildly against him. His hand was trembling so much his aim was poor and the hot wax splattered their thighs and felt like searing kisses to the skin.

Booth thought she looked amazing, bucking gracefully on in his lap. His ego demanded he make her complete, as the torture was almost too much to bare for both of them now. 'Temperance, gotta-gotta make ya-come, please come...'

'Together,' she urged. Grabbing his wobbling hand in her equally unstable one, together they tipped the candle wax between them onto their sexes, and let it drip constantly. 'Arh!' they both yelped as the ultimate fiery stimulation lit the incendiary bomb between them. The candle's wick fizzed and the blue flame flickered as the fluid wax slipped between them, transferring its heat into their turgid oiled flesh. It was a scintillating moment; then the terrible hot ecstasy ripped through them like a devastating firestorm.

Booth snatched the candle away from between them, dropping it, and grabbed her pelvis close to him. They grinded their sexes against one another in a sinful frenzy through their violent inferno.

The disgraceful mess between them was forgotten in those unbridled sultry moments. Bones curled her limbs around him tighter, and rocked him backwards and forwards, both whimpering their steamy rapture. They panted, then kissed breathlessly, as they began to burn out and die down. Just as they did they smelt serious burning and acrid smoke.

At the same time they both looked to their side to see the candle he'd dropped in the heat of their blazing moment, hadn't extinguished. It had caught one of the towels alight. Bones laughed as he tried to pat it out manically with his flapping palm. The little squeal of blind panic that came from his throat when he saw the camp fire, made her laugh hard. He just seemed to be fanning the flames more, she judged. So she did the only reasonable, sensible thing, and calmly placed another towel over the small lounge fire, suffocating it immediately.

Booth sagged, relieved as another disaster had been averted, then looked into her amused smile. He could tell she was thinking he was accident prone, and blushed. Then he attempted to defuse his embarrassment with humour and deflection, 'I don't wanna look between us, Bones,' he said, grimacing. 'You just know it ain't gonna be pretty down there.' Bones chortled, agreeing with several nods, hugging him tighter.

Once her chuckles had died away, she explained, 'I don't care about the mess we make, if I feel this superb after orgasm with you.' She nuzzled into his neck, caressing his back tenderly, while he cuddled her just as preciously. Feeling she needed to edit that wild experience with tenderness now, she whispered softly, 'I... I don't just like you, Booth.' Booth sighed, and smiled over her shoulder.

They stayed lovingly embraced and silent for a few minutes, just revelling in their closeness, until he asked softly, 'You didn't tell me what you and Little Man did today. You said you had something planned?'

Bones grinned, then kissed around his shoulder to his lips, and locked her misted eyes on his, just a few centimetres from his lips. 'Yes. I demonstrated and explained the effects of low and high air pressure to produce lift. The physical effects of negative and positive G-force. We also experimented with gravity and centrifugal force on objects. The principles of which he gripped with both hands,' she said cryptically. 'Parker's very bright, Booth.' Bones peeled herself off him carefully, then stood. She held her hands out to help him up; he took her hands, looking very impressed.

'Wow, Bones, that sounds like one hell of a lesson. How did you demonstrate all that in two hours then?'

Bones tugged him gently towards the bathroom. He couldn't see her cheeky smile as she said nonchalantly, 'I took him flying in a biplane... He's quite a good pilot actually. We looped the loop, dive bombed, barrel rolled etc...' Bones glanced behind her as Booth stood still, with his jaw slack, and not breathing for several moments. She could see Booth creating mental images of his ten year old son dive bombing to the ground, and went a little pale now. Bones grinned even wider, and pecked his cheek softly. 'Rebecca signed the consent form before you get mad with me.'

'I'm not mad with you, Bones, I'm pissed off cos you never asked me to come along.' He pouted, cutely waggling his bottom lip at her. 'I bet I'd be a great pilot, given the chance...' Bones giggled, taking pity on his sad boy-ish expression.

'Yes, of course, you'd be magnificent, I'm sure,' she placated patronisingly. Seeing the menacing look in his eyes, Bones made a dash for the safe haven of the bathroom as he chased after her.

Cherry Blossom Motel 22.01

Mrs Weinberg peered out from behind her heavy lace curtain which hung in her lounge window, and sighed. Her eyes flicked over the VW Golf in the parking lot again then to room 4's door, and shook her head.

'Come away will you, Woman?' Isaac chastised his wife's over curiousness, being distracted from his nature programme due to her secretly skulking around behind the TV set.

'Something is very wrong, very wrong, I tell you. He's not called us or asked for anything. He hasn't been out to get anything either. He must need food or more water.'

'Tsk! He's plenty of water in the faucet...' Mrs Weinberg looked over the TV to her husband with a contemptuous stare. He tried not to see her chastise, and went on, 'Mr Taffet has paid till Sunday. He can do what-ever he likes in that room till then... Within reason. I wish more people were so quiet and paid in cash. Just come away.'

'I'm going to take him a slice of my cherry pie, what do you think?' she asked, still peering out into the dimly lit parking lot.

'Why are you asking me that if you've already made up your mind to take him a slice? You just want to get a peak inside. It's late, and what if he doesn't like cherry pie?'

'Everybody loves my cherry pie!' she berated, dropping the net curtain, and walking into the kitchen.

Irritated by her fussing, Mr Weinberg explained insensitively, 'Those people pretend to like your cherry pie! They're being polite when you force it into their hands and stand over them while they eat it. Then you babble on like a fish-wife about how you won a prize for it back when the dinosaurs roamed.' He heard a gasp littered with shock, outrage and anger from the kitchen. Mrs Weinberg stormed back into the lounge, and stood in front of his TV show, with her hands on her hips.

'How dare you! You go then, make up some excuse but get a look inside that room!'

'No! Get out the way.' He flapped her away from the screen, trying to see around her. 'The bears are on now and I'm missing it!' She didn't move.

'I, will, not!' She turned the TV off, and flared her flaming eyes, lifting her chin defiantly. Mr Weinberg leapt to his feet, and threw the remote along the couch, exasperated. Then he tried to get to the TV to turn it back on, but his wife got between him and the on switch, deliberately blocking his attempt to switch it back on. 'You're a doctor, you go ask him, offer your services to him for his hurt hands or take his temperature.'

'I'm a retired doctor or at least I'm trying to be! Get out the way.' They began wrestling with one another, huffing and scrabbling with one another hands like children in a school yard. Then something grabbed their attention away from their ridiculous scrap. They stilled, stared at one another, then ducked down behind the TV. 'He's out, quick...' he informed.

They crawled on their hands and knees either side of the TV, met again at the window, then peered out of the net from under the windowsill together. 'What's he doing?' he enquired again.

'Shh. He's getting in the car. Maybe he's going out. Did you see him walking?'

'No, did you?'

'Hum. He was limping. Do his hands look ok?'

'It's too dark, I can't see.'

'Go get your glasses then,' she commanded.

Mr Weinberg said belligerently, 'I don't know where they are... Besides, once I've got them, he'll be gone. Ooo. Look, he's going back into the room. Arh. Yes, he is limping, nothing wrong with his hands that I can see.' They watched as Mr Taffet closed his room door and disappeared again.

Mrs Weinberg sighed, relaxed a little, and looked to her husband, saying, 'He didn't look well, but at least he's up and about. Maybe he has got the flu...' she said thoughtfully.

'Finally, you see sense! Can I watch my programme now?' he asked sarcastically. She didn't answer him.

Mrs Weinberg stood up, and brushed herself off, saying, 'If he doesn't let me in tomorrow to clean...' she didn't finish her sentence, but walked off into the kitchen again.

'You'll what? What are you going to do tomorrow?' Mr Weinberg didn't get an answer, so switched on his TV show again, and settled back to his favourite seat to watch bears catching leaping salmon.

Rung 28

Their first Thursday 08.46

Booth kissed Bones goodbye at his apartment door with a piece of toast in his fingers. They hummed while they smooched affectionately like they'd been doing this every morning for years. 'I hope it all goes well today, Bones. Well, you know what I mean...' She nodded, and adjusted his tie a little as he spun to head off to work.

Returning to her own tea and toast, she flicked on his TV to catch the headlines. Booth threw the door wide again, making her start. He strode back to her with a lancing stare, and grabbed her around the waist with both hands, imploring, 'Let's go back to bed.' Bones chuckled, kissing him as she pushed him backwards towards the door. He reluctantly moon-walked to it, with a whimpering pout.

'Haa. No... You're insatiable and late, go.' Then she warned as he trotted away sniggering, 'Re-hydrate too! You must have lost a litre of fluids last night.' She slammed the door behind him, and shook her head, highly amused at his ardent antics. Then she got ready to leave for her apartment, and prepare herself for Mr Dixon's funeral at eleven.

Jeffersonian Lab 9.30

Hodgins peered through his microscope intensely, furrowing his brow, muttering to himself. The image on his computer screen sharpened as he focused the lens, then he looked to the screen. He was surrounded by Petri dishes and evidence bags full of particulates collected from Jacob's abandoned car. There were several experiments in noisy progress in different places around his lab too.

Ange walked in but stopped just inside the doorway, seeing her husband look so involved, she almost didn't want to disturb him. She knew he was determined to get as much identified as possible and had left their bed early this morning to do just that. He was on a deadline or felt he was, although no one had implied it. Personally he felt compelled to work as quickly as he could so he could point Booth and Bones in the right direction of Broadsky's whereabouts. She also knew the pressure he was putting on himself was taking its toll. As this case was different, it was personal and his loved ones were at risk. There were no bones for Bren to investigate, or facial reconstructions or computer wizardry for her to get her teeth into either. All they had to go on were the particulates and that was his department, so he felt the whole burden on his shoulders.

He hadn't slept much last night and tossed and turned, keeping her awake too. He'd confided in her when they both gave up on trying to sleep, and just held one another and talked. She recalled now his worries about not being able to give them the leads required to apprehend Broadsky before he killed again. He told her of his horror seeing the crumpled hood and the blood stains where Broadsky had ploughed through the young woman like insignificant mist. Taking samples from his steering wheel of gunpowder residue from the shots he fired at his colleague and dear friend and how that had effected him. He'd confessed to her that the mortal danger Bones was in panicked him, as he considered Bones his surrogate sister. He also knew if anything happened to her how she would be devastated too. He cared deeply for Bren and Booth, knowing what would happen if either of them got hurt or worse; especially now that they'd taken a chance with each other. That thought had focused his mind and made him determined to do his job as fast and efficiently as he could.

Ange loved him more for his tenacity and almost frenzied approach towards his tasks now.

Finally stepping over the threshold, she walked to him, and placed a steaming black coffee beside him on the desk. Then she began a gentle massage of his shoulders from behind, as her eyes scanned his brimming desk. He hummed, and rolled his head on his tense shoulders, closing his eyes to her delicate touch. He briefly gave in to her tenderness and care. Placing his hand on hers on his shoulder, he sighed. 'Are you off to pick her up?' he asked, turning on his stool, and slipping his hands around her waist. Ange stepped closer, and caressed the back of his neck with her fingers.

'Yes. Now don't worry, we're well covered and I'm wearing the vest, see?' She flashed him a little of it from under her dark blouse, and he nodded, clearly still worried though. 'We'll be ok, Jack,' she said pacifying, pecking his lips softly. 'I'll text you every hour, on the hour, like we discussed, ok?'

'Sure.' He nuzzled into her stomach and his baby, wishing though she wasn't leaving his side till Broadsky was apprehended. Ange smiled, hearing what he wasn't saying. She lifted his chin with her finger, staring into his eyes.

'I want to be with her,' she reiterated her point from last night's conversation. 'Just think what Bren must be going through, and Booth. She's asked me to come with her, Jack. She would never have asked if she didn't need me, you know that. That's a huge step for her. I'm not letting her down, I can't, I won't...'

'I know,' he said, proud of her determination to be with her friend at this traumatic time, despite his reservations. 'She's changed so much in the last year. Opened herself up and blossomed like a Prunus serrulata in spring,' he said airily. 'It's been beautiful to witness.' Ange smiled, and kissed him again to agree.

'Prunus-cerebellum-a-what-now?' Ange queried jocularly.

Jack laughed at her mispronunciation, explaining, 'You know, a cherry tree, like the cherry festival in the city... in, the, spring...' he said, slowing to a crawl, as his eyes began to widen. Suddenly Jack shot up to his feet, and grabbed an evidence bag, peering through the clear plastic. Ange grinned, seeing him getting very excited, and obviously having a eureka moment. 'The Japanese gave the city a ton of cherry trees as a gift way back... They grow different species around the area in orchards to replace any that may die off in the city. But I need to find out which variety. It might tell me...' he trailed off. Then he sat back on his stool. 'Is this the yoshino, fugenzo or kwanzan variety though? that's the question,' he muttered to himself, tweezer-ing out his sample from the bag, and placing it on a fresh slide. Ange was long forgotten but didn't interrupt him. She just smiled, charmed, and pecked his downy cheek as he peered again through his microscope with wide sparkling aquamarine eyes.

As she left, she threw over her shoulder, 'Drink that coffee before it gets cold, Babe.' Jack flapped his hand to acknowledge her, but still peered, obviously deeply engrossed again.

Ange spotted Clark walking towards Jack's office. 'Are you giving my man a hand?' she asked brightly.

'Yes, Ms Montenegro. Not a lot else to do around here at the moment.' Ange grinned at his charming smile, and patted his shoulder affectionately.

'Don't let him badger you about your summer job with the NSA, ok?' she instructed, wagging a elegant finger at him as they went in different directions.

Straight faced, he said, 'What summer job with the NSA?' obfuscating cleverly. Ange snorted an ironic laugh, flicked him a smile over her shoulder, and left the building.

12.45.

Ange slipped out of her car as Bones did the same on the opposite side. Bones looked up to the sign above the establishment, feeling her heart palpitate as Ange set the locks. Walking to join her on the sunny sidewalk, Ange slipped her arm through hers, as they smiled nervously at one another.

'Ready?' Ange asked.

'Yep, ready.' Ange nodded, then pecked her friend's cheek sweetly.

They walked to the door, and Bones rang the small brass bell. As it was pulled open, a bespoke suited man wearing a lavender shirt and plumb tie said welcomingly, 'Temperance Brennan, I presume. Please, come in.'

'Sorry, we're a little late. We were held up at another engagement,' Bones apologised softly. The man smiled generously, unconcerned, gesturing for them to sit in his sumptuous antique armchairs, as he closed, and locked the door behind them.

'Before we begin, can I interest you both in a small libation?' he tempted charmingly.

'What's that?' Ange asked Bones sneakily out of the side of her mouth.

Bones smiled, crossing her legs, explaining, 'A beverage, traditionally alcoholic in nature.'

Ange smiled attractively. 'A small, medicinal libation would be most welcome, thank you,' she accepted the handsome young man's offer, and settled comfortably into her chair.

Bones' Apartment 19.07

When Bones put her key in the lock, she could hear male voices behind the door mingled with strong laughter. As she peered inside, half opening the door, six men, one of which was Booth, were sat around her kitchen island. The island was covered with beer bottles and empty take out cartons. They were all in merry robust moods and bantering loudly with each other, and didn't notice her enter.

They were obviously playing poker for match sticks, as the pile in the middle was considerable. Bones turned away slightly, as she closed the door carefully as not to disturb them too much. She slipped off her wide brimmed hat and coat, and placed them over the couch back, then walked towards them slowly. The game was at a critical stage, it seemed. It looked to her that the only two left in were Booth, and a cropped-haired man with arms smothered in tattoos. Bones stood three feet behind Booth, looking at his hand over his shoulder. Then one by one the other men noticed her but said nothing nor gallantly gave her presence away. She noted with a slight blush them surreptitiously look her up and down with admiring male glances and impressed expressions.

Booth said, 'I'll cover your ten, and raise you twenty...' The masculine ooo's and arh's from around the table made her smile, as the tattooed guy tilted his head, deciding whether to fold. He quickly looked over Booth's shoulder to Bones. She nodded her head slightly for him to call Booth's bluff. The rest of the men, hid their smiles by taking sips of beer or keeping their poker faces on.

Tattoo guy challenged with a stony face, 'You're bluffing, Booth. Let's see what you got.' Placing his last match sticks down, he sat back. Everybody went mute as Booth laid his cards down in the middle of the table. He had a pair of tens and not much else. Tattooed man winked at Bones, and laid his cards down. The Royal flush gutted Booth like a peppered kipper. Cackles of hearty laughter filled her apartment and enchanted Bones. Booth slumped, dropping his brow to the counter with a thud.

Bones slipped her hand up his t-shirt to his nape, Booth jumped, and looked around at her gentle touch. 'Caught ya,' she said seductively, then she smooched his lips, resting them on his for a few warming seconds. Bones broke away, and laughed as the men got rowdy again with their suggestive woohoo's and arrh's again.

'You told him didn't you?' Booth accused, wrapping his eager arms around her waist, and ran his hands up her back slightly, pulling her closer between his open legs. She looked into his eyes, and smiled, conveying how much she'd missed him today through them.

He beamed at her as she said, 'Sometimes it's good for the ego to lose.' Bones turned in his hands to face the gathered man. 'So, who are all these degenerates?' she enquired, with a delirious smile, sitting on Booth's strong thigh, and sipping from his half drunk beer. All the men knew she was joking, and laughed heartily with her. One very young guy with bright blue eyes, stood, and offered his hand to her after wiping it on his jeans, obviously utterly besotted with her and reputation already.

'Hi, hello. I'm Troy, Bones, I mean, Tempe... Eerr. Dr Brennan, it's an honour,' he stammered, embarrassed at how to address her. He was loudly heckled to sit down and chill out after Bones shook his hand sweetly.

'Tempe is fine, Troy. Good to meet you,' she charmed, as he sat back down, and smiled shyly at her.

Booth introduced them all to her from left to right, 'This is Brady, Troy you've already met. Chris, Leroy, and Vince.' At each introduction Bones shook their rough hands, and gave them each the present of a sparkling smile.

'So where do you all know Booth from, the FBI, hockey?'

They all went quiet, and looked to Booth, she in turn looked to him. He smiled, and informed, 'They're all from my GA meetings.' Bones gasped in horror. Seeing her expression, Booth defended quickly, 'We play with matches, never money. We're all at least seven years without a real bet. Except Troy. Seven years ago he was in diapers.' There were wails of laughter and more male bonding and goading to crackle the jolly atmosphere.

'Haa. Well, I'm impressed. Is this a regular occurrence, poker with matches?' They all chuckled, and nodded.

'Once a month, you don't mind, do you?' Booth gave her a little squeeze, and kissed her cheek.

She leant back into him a little, squeezing his hands on her stomach to her tighter. 'Not at all! I wish I knew this was happening tonight. I would have brought my own supply of matches.'

'You play?' Booth asked surprised, his eyes flaring excitedly.

'Like a pro,' she cooed sexily, waggling her brows, getting off his warm lap. 'Enjoy the rest of the game. I'm just going to change.' She pecked Booth's lips again. 'If you'll excuse me.' They all suddenly stood as she walked away with a beautiful smile for them all for their chivalry.

Booth jumped up, and sashayed after her excitedly. Grabbing her around the hips, he diverted her towards the master bathroom. He whispered in her ear as she looked to him, surprised as to why he was steering her, 'Open the door, Bones.'

She pouted, and sighed, saying quietly, 'Oooh. I don't want to be reminded, Booth. Another night perhaps.' All the men were peering around the wall, watching the partners, holding back their amusement, hushing one another to hear the partner's exchange.

Unable to wait to see her reaction to what they'd managed to do in one day for her, Booth opened the door. He watched her face avidly as she jarred her head forwards in disbelief, and her jaw dropped.

'Oh-my-God! It's... It's amazing! You did it! My bath, my Cambridge roll top!' Bones swooned, then praised, 'The tiles, ooh look at the sinks, mirror, it's all like I designed it. When, how, I mean, when?' She went to walk in, but Booth dragged her back before she stepped on the newly laid floor tiles. Booth bristled tight with elation, seeing her so touched and happy.

'No! Not yet, they're still drying out,' he warned suddenly, then explained humbly, 'All the guys did it, they're either plumbers; plasterers, electricians, carpenters, trades men, you know? I said I knew people in the trade.' Bones nodded fast. 'Well, these are they... I came back to the apartment once you left and let them in. I gave them lunch and snacks, cracked the whip on them, that kinda thing.' Then he added cutely, 'I worked from here for most of the day.'

Exhilarated and overwhelmed with her new pristine bathroom, she jumped into his arms. Wrapping her legs around him, she kissed him passionately as his reward for doing such a sweet thing for her.

The watching men cheered, and gave themselves high fives, at seeing her genuine delirious reaction. Then just as quickly, leaving Booth blinking to see straight, gasping, she jumped back out of his arms, and went to the workmen. She kissed each one smack on the lips hard, hugged them tight, humming her gratitude.

'You must have worked so hard. Thank you, thank you so much.'

'Booth called us Tuesday,' said Chris. 'Said it was vital we help you, cos he'd screwed up your pad.'

'I picked up all the stuff you had on your list. I'm the electrician,' Troy said, hoping to get another sweet kiss. Bones nodded, touched but didn't kiss him again.

Tattooed Vince added, 'Yeah. Then Booth did all the cleaning up.'

Bones looked around to Booth with tears sparkling on her lids. He neared, seeing her so moved. He kissed her innocently, then pushed her gently to go and compose herself. 'Go on, Bones, go get changed,' he told her gently. 'We'll deal you in on the next hand.'

Bones' chin quivered, as she walked away, saying deeply affected by the invitation and all they'd done, 'Thanks. I'd enjoy that very much.'

As she walked into her bedroom, and closed the door behind her, she heard them all cheering again and deservedly congratulating themselves.

An hour later Bones was throwing five match sticks into the growing pile in the centre of the table. She narrowed her eyes at Booth, saying ice cold, 'I call you...' Booth sucked in a breath through his wonky arrogant smile, and laid, his best cards of the night, down with a flourish. Bones read them, then realised all eyes were on her and breaths were held in hopeful anticipation of another rout. She laid her set down, and smiled smugly at her dimming partner opposite her.

Rung 29

Their first Friday together.

Bones' apartment ensuite.

The day had begun gently for the partners. Soft morning kisses and tender hugs abounded before they unwound from one another and shared a shower. Neither party had mentioned the fact that they knew today was possibly the start of the end game.

Booth had explained as he lathered up her belly and breasts in the hot shower spray what his team had discovered yesterday. Bones had listened patiently to his account of progress unable to lose her smile. She hadn't smiled because she knew the net was closing in on Broadsky, but for a whole other reason. It was Friday. The Friday that Booth was due to receive his test results, and although she knew he was clear, they still hadn't crossed the line from foreplay to full intercourse. It had been a monumental aching struggle to abstain, not just for her but for him too. She'd done her best and so had he, to pleasure each other safely but as passionately as they could. At times they'd been downright lusty, which was understandable as they had a great deal of sexual tension to resolve, she rationalised. However there was no substitute for making real love the way they both wanted to.

It was as he gently lathered her between her legs while standing behind her, that he whispered under the powerful cascade, 'I can't wait to make love to you properly.' She'd turned her head, and smiled at him, looping her arms up to capture his head in her hands, and kiss his lips.

'Me neither. Lust and foreplay has its place, but making love is...' He grinned back, delighted she knew the difference. He slipped his fingers deeper into her wet folds, making her eyes close, and elicit a throaty moan from her. 'I need to tell you, Booth. If your test is clear, and I'm sure it will be, we don't need to use any form of protection against pregnancy.'

It took a few moments for him to reply, first of all looking into her face as she fluttered open her eyes again, 'You want us to have a baby straight away?' Bones grinned, and turned into his body, slipping her hand around his girth, and stroked him leisurely. It touched her that he seemed so willing to grant her desire so easily and without much deliberation. Although she did want to procreate with him, personally she wanted to wait a little longer before they took that step.

'Not quite yet,' she said coyly, but confirmed, 'But I do want you to impregnate me at some point, possibly twice, if you're agreeable, of course.' He cocked a brow, delighted by her bluntness and honesty. He loved it when she talked straight, he noted with affection. 'I meant, I'm already protected against unwanted pregnancy. Like you, after the reprobate, I was tested and as you know I've not had sexual intercourse with anyone since. So, what I'm trying to say delicately is...' she paused, hoping he would want the same things from their relationship and their future as a couple. 'We can start a fresh with one another. A clean plate, so to speak.'

Booth nuzzled into her neck as she slipped her soapy hand around his rock hard scrotum, and massaged. 'Slate, Bones. Clean slate...' He grinned hard at twice his normal strength; one, for her cute metaphorical cock up and two, for her being so obviously nervous about thinking about them together in the future. He knew for sure now that this wasn't just a lusty, long overdue fling they were engaging in. She was clearly deadly serious about them. Then he added humorously, sultrily, 'You temp-tress, you're like Eve tempting me with the forbidden juicy apple in your garden of Eden.'

'Babylonian hanging gardens,' she corrected, then continued, 'The fictional character of Eve tempted Adam with a pomegranate in the original narration actually, as it has suspected aphrodisiacal qualities. I'm offering us sex with pure exchanges of bodily fluids, as nature designed. But I understand your metaphor.'

Grinning, he challenged, 'Why is it that when you get nervous you get technical or Bible bash?'

'Nervous?'

'Yeah, nervous. What you're really saying under all that crap, and didn't want to come right out and say, in case you scare me off or get rejected is... You've made plans for us in your beautiful mind. You want us to be together for a long time and for us to bring up a family...' His words were whispered against her throat then lips, interspersed with soft kisses drenched with steamy water.

'Are you?' Bones queried, purposely kissing a path over his Adams Apple and down his smooth mid-line.

'Am I what?' he asked, watching her slow descent, nervous himself now.

'Scared off.' Booth's looked down as she knelt in the shower in front of him, while staring into his widening eyes. Her hand stroked a little faster and harder while her thumb pad circled his cleft deftly.

'No, Bones. I'm scared what you're about to do now though.' Bones laughed softly, then looked to his throbbing shaft. The dark vein that ran its length stood proud of the soft skin, and she licked along it but downwards towards his pulsing sack. Booth staggered, and whimpered unashamedly at the delicate tickle and surge of blood it caused.

She kissed back up it to his pronounced ridges, then flickered her tongue under his sensitive tip to his stuttered gasps. Booth flattered his palms against the wet tiles as she cooed, 'Umm. I can't wait to wrap my lips around you properly and draw out your sweet cum.' Booth felt his knees weaken at the sight and sound of her deep velvet voice and the salacious image that they brought. The fact she'd used a cultural term for ejaculate did wicked things to him, and he feared for his frontal lobe. She saw his member leap viciously at her statement, and strummed her own pulsing need, adding to his bombardment of illicit thoughts and visions.

'Stop it, Bones,' he warned with a trembling pitch, not daring to move. 'I'm gonna lose it and just fuck your soft mouth, I won't be held responsible for any damage done.' Bones grinned victoriously but with the innocence of a Carmelite Nun. Then opening her mouth wide, tilting her chin up subordinately, she was clearly tested his fragile resolve. 'Je-sus, stop it, stop it,' he warned, utterly panicked, seeing down into her open soft throat.

His temptress edged closer till her lips were over his tip, and he was essentially inside her mouth. He could feel the wondrous radiated heat from her tongue, and calm breaths caress it like a scratch that needed to be itched. She placed her palms over his which he gripped, begging him with her eyes to make good on his threat. 'Hot, fucking hot, enough, enough, you win!'

Proving the power she held over him when fellatio is given in a subordinate position, she rewarded his submission and control with a clamping grip on is scrotum, and a fast wet pump of his shaft. Before she reached the end of the second pump, he was shouting his orgasm into the air between them. His climax shot over the back of her hand and fingers then was washed away in the hot downpour. Releasing a hand on his convulsing fluffy testicles, she brought herself to orgasm with consummate ease and dignity with him.

Only able to open her eyes when she heard, and felt him crumple to the floor of her shower beside her, as they panted in heaving unison. 'You ok?' she asked breathlessly, staring into him as he settled even further down, going completely limp against the wall.

'We've gotta stop this, or one of us is gonna end up seriously injured,' he said sternly. Bones chuckled, and pulled him into her embrace, kissing his brow, while inspecting his stitches. He sweetly kissed her torso bruise repeatedly, while caressing her thigh as they savoured each other.

With his eyes twinkling with emotion, his heart full, he said, 'I love you.'

Bones felt her heart rage with elation, but she forced a frown to her lips, and shook her head. 'No, no, you did it wrong...' she chastised seriously. Booth looked perplexed at her. 'We have our way. We shouldn't be like every-body else,' she demeaned the norm, then whispered against his lips, 'You're supposed to say, I don't just like you, Bones.' Booth's grin drew out hers, and embellished their sexy morning perfectly.

The Cherry Blossom Motel, Savage.

Mrs Weinberg walked directly past Mr Taffet's room, and went straight inside the empty adjacent room. She hurriedly pulled out her husband's stethoscope, which had been gathering dust for the last eight years, from her cleaning basket. Picking a spot on the wall, she placed it to the flower patterned wallpaper, and listened. All she could hear was the TV mumbling the eleven o'clock news summary. She edged along the wall, choosing different spots along it, hoping to hear something else. With no luck, she went to the connecting door with her heart pounding. Just as she was about to put the pass key in the lock, her husband came in the room, and nearly gave her a heart attack.

'Kathy, no, don't,' he warned at a severe whisper, he closed the door behind him carefully, and snuck over to her on tip toes. 'We should just call Ed. He can check out the number plate for us.'

'Yes, and how bad will that be for business if it's a genuine hire car and we've gone to the police accusing one or our guests of theft, eh? Not good, Isaac... He could be delirious with the flu, and got mixed up. Borrowed it from his niece or something. I need more evidence first.' Mrs Weinberg explained sarcastically.

Mr Weinberg conceded with a resigned nod. 'Let's go around the back to the bathroom window then.'

'We won't see anything through there, it's frosted, you fool,' she dismissed his suggestion, but her husband smiled arrogantly.

'I never fixed the lock.' He whipped out a flat headed screwdriver from his back pocket, and flagpole-d it between them.

She gasped in horror, and reprimanded snootily, narrowing her eyes at him, 'You lied, you said you fixed it.'

'Oh. Hush, Woman. Do you want to get a peek in there, or not?' He waggled the screwdriver again to tempt, and dissipate her annoyance.

Two minutes later they were skulking at the back of the motel, acting like the bungling private detectives from Moonlighting, and counting the back windows till they got to Mr Taffet's. They crouched down under the small window, and looked around the early blossoming cherry orchard behind the motel for ramblers. With the coast clear, Mr Weinberg pushed the screwdriver under the aluminium window frame, and lifted it a few inches very slowly. It creaked slightly, they both grimaced, and waited to see if the squeak drew Mr Taffet's attention. They looked at one another, and nodded, mutually deciding to peer in together after a few moments.

When both sets of eyes focused inside the small bathroom, they paled as did their rosy wrinkled skins. They saw the dried blood scum ring around the bath, the hunting knife in the bottom of the tub; a discarded plunged syringe, and a bottle of fluid in a vial on the bath rim. Then Mr Weinberg spotted a curious bloody curled line on the white lino floor. His eyes followed the curl to its conclusion, and saw a crushed brassy bullet there punctuating the curl like an exclamation mark.

Mrs Weinberg nudged her husband, and gestured with her head for them to go. They let the window down carefully, and trotted back around the motel, then stopped to pant, and talk. 'Flu, my foot. He was shot and removed the bullet by the look of it,' Mr Weinberg gave his assessment of the evidence.

'Now do you believe me? I told you it was fishy. Let's call Ed.'

'No, you go and see him, while I stay here and keep an eye out in case he runs.'

Mrs Weinberg grinned, then kissed her husband on the lips hard. 'You're so brave,' she complimented lovingly.

'Phuh! Not brave, shit scared more like. Here, go on, take the car.' He handed her the keys to their jalopy from his pocket. They kissed again, then began to walk casually to the front of the motel. They fanned out in different directions, trying to act normally but not winning an Oscar for their amateurish performances. One Weinberg went to the reception area, the other towards the car.

Jeffersonian. One hour later.

Hodgins came bounding in to Bones office to find his artist wife; the anthropologist; and boss sitting comfortably, drinking tea on the long couches. He idly thought they looked like a small witches coven as they gossiped furtively. Throwing that observation away, he waved his file at them, saying boldly, 'Oooo. This was a smorgasbord for me!' The ladies all looked in his direction. 'What do... two hundred year old iron fillings; steam powered exhaust soot, calcium and silica rich slag, cotton and flax fibres, plus nicotine heavy tobacco. And last, but not least, prunus serrulata, have in common?'

'No idea,' Cam said, sipping her tea, not wanting to tax her brain today or play his guessing game.

Ange shrugged her shoulders. 'They all end up on your shoe after a boozy night in Woodland?'

'Close,' Jack said, smiling pompously, then sat next to his wife, after handing his completed report to Bones. She flipped it open, and read the list of particulates Jack had identified from the foot well, tire treads and chassis of Broadsky's abandoned vehicle.

Bones thought out loud, 'Asian Cherry, a town making canvas textiles possibly, and or iron smelting.' She walked to her computer, reading the file, while she pulled up a map of the tri-state area. 'A steam railway...' Jack was grinning, and nodding as she made the connections. 'Nicotine heavy tobacco...' They all looked to her in silence, seeing the cogs spinning in her head. Checking the screen, and following the interstate with her index finger, she mumbled, 'He couldn't be too far away, say, no more than an hour's drive, and he headed north east according to the traffic cameras.'

'Yep, you're almost there, think kwanzan,' Jack said, giving her a little more time to process the clues.

'Hodgins! Just tell us,' Cam barked, while Ange nudged him in the ribs.

Jack open his mouth to tell them when Booth burst in the office. 'Glad rags on, Bones. We got him...' He clapped his hands together, and rubbed them smartly.

Bones stood up straight, and beamed at him, saying, 'Either the mill town of Savage or Laurel, Howard county, Maryland,' she offered, then made her choice and gave her reasons, 'I'm going for Savage. it's close to the NSA and Fort Meade base, he may have contacts there.' Booth dropped his jaw, then smacked her lips with his, humming.

'You're a goddamn genius!' Booth extolled, hugging her tight. Jack sank into the couch, missing out on the glory for being too smug. Cam tried to hide her snigger but couldn't, seeing him wilt.

Booth explained into Bones' excited eyes, 'Savage, Cherry Blossom Motel, room 4. We got a tip off. The owners got suspicious about the girlie car he came back with the other day. Mrs Weinberg was refused entry to his room to clean it for two days. He said he'd got the flu, so they snuck a look in his bathroom,' Booth explained desirably. 'They said there was blood everywhere plus a smashed bullet on the bathroom floor and drugs. With the stolen VW Golf outside with the number plate, SAV 1 PIG.'

Bones was putting on her coat as they left her office at pace, side by side. Jack watched them leave, then dropped his head, and began picking at his fingernails absently. Ange stroked his sad face, and peck his cheek to console tenderly.

Bones walked straight back in and over to him at pace. He looked up, seeing her shoes. Bones grinned affectionately, dropped to her knees, and embraced him hard, much to his surprise. 'Thank you, Jack. I know you haven't let up for two days. You've been outstanding. We truly appreciate everything you've done to keep us all safe.' She kissed his cheek sweetly, then left again.

Jack slowly grinned, seeing the remaining ladies wink or nod to agree with the doctor's heartfelt words.

Booth gave him a solid wave, and an admiring nod to acknowledge his input too as Bones re-joined him. As they walked briskly towards the doors to leave, he asked Bones, 'Guess who he checked in under?' She could feel Booth was hugely buoyed by the prospect of bringing in their target, as was she.

'I'm not clairvoyant, Booth.' They were almost trotting as the Jeffersonian doors slid aside to allow them out.

'Yeah, ya-are, you've read my mind often enough,' he cooed charmingly, opening the door for her of the brand new ebony SUV he'd been allocated. 'Mr Taffet.' Bones jumped in as he shut the door, and ran around to the driver's side. 'Got my results too,' he said, flicking a glance over his shoulder for traffic, as he turned the car on. Bones grinned as he sped off. 'Green lights all the way. We're good to go,' he confirmed, blushing a sweet shade of spring fresh cherry blossom.

'Now might be nice,' Bones said sexily, sneaking him a glance.

Booth wasn't sure if she was serious or not. 'But, umm, I, eer...' he mumbled.

Bones patted his thigh to placate. 'Drive, Booth. I was being humorous.' She saw him relax a little, and felt the powerful new car accelerate.

On their eighty mile an hour race to Savage along the I-92 with two FBI teams following in close convoy, Booth explained, 'We're gonna rendezvous at the local PD's office to co-ordinate the take down and work out which approach is best. The Weinberg's are keeping an eye out, making sure he doesn't leave his room.' Bones nodded, while getting up the street plan of Savage on his sat nav to familiarise herself with the lay out of the town.

'The Motel is across the street from the mill and river. It's about 400 metres away from the Main Street off a side road. That's good, he's only got two means of egress.' Booth flicked interested glances to the detailed screen as she went on. 'Back up Main Street or the road that crosses the river over a small iron bridge. We should set up road blocks on those two points. And there appears to be an orchard behind the motel, there's no road but a footpath through it which eventually comes out onto a farm track.' Booth nodded. 'This says the mill is a tourist attraction and craft shops inside, there will be people visiting it, Booth. Is there any way of evacuating them quietly without causing too much disturbance?'

'I doubt it, Bones. Hopefully he'll give himself up when he knows he's surrounded.' Bones looked at him with a, I'm not so convinced, quirk of her lips.

Rung 30

14.14 Cherry Blossom Motel, Room 4

Broadsky's paranoia had tripled over night with the medication he'd taken. Every rustle of the trees, bird tweet or car passing by, even footsteps had him on high alert and his index finger twitching on his Smith &Wesson. Consequently he hadn't slept much, if at all, in the last two days as he tried to recover. He was exhausted, hungry, chilled and dry mouthed. He'd lost too much blood and hadn't re-hydrated enough, he realised, so he set about changing that now.

Piercing his bicep with the last dose of his preferred drug, he began to prepare for his quiet departure into traceless obscurity. He pondered as he packed the last of his things away, that at least he'd succeeded in what he'd set out to do. Temperance Brennan was no more and once he was fully recovered, he'd resurface to finish the job with clinical precision next time.

With the room cleaned, himself smartly dressed and packed ready to go, he edged to the window overlooking the parking lot and the busy mill opposite. He peered tentatively out from behind the lacy curtain, whilst swigging water from a glass. Sightseers were strolling casually around the restored old mill, taking pictures or going in to visit the shops and take a late lunch. He saw nothing untoward though, which relaxed him a little, as he scanned the nearby buildings. Draining his glass of water, he watched a white sedan drive slowly up the road to his left. It rumbled across the red painted iron bridge over the Patuxen River, which once powered the mill's inner workings, and disappeared up the verdurous lane. Dropping the curtain back into place, he hitched up his rucksack over his shoulder, and picked up his car keys. Taking a deep breath, then crossing himself, he opened the room door.

The delicious warm sunlight hit his face instantly, and the delicate scent of cherry blossom hung in the air and made him smile, and inhale it. 'Beautiful day,' he wistfully told himself.

Mr and Mrs Weinberg gasped, seeing Mr Taffet step out onto the deck and close the door quietly behind him. They ducked down behind the small reception counter, but both edged up a little again, to peer over it to watch what he did. Isaac fingered for his wife's digits and they held on tight.

Bones felt her palm itch and pulse against Booth's handgun he'd given her for protection, seeing a cool Broadsky emerge from room 4. A cold trickle of sweat pooled in the indentation of her spine under the heavy Kevlar vest, and she twitched slightly to the uncomfortable sensation. The FBI agent and one sheriff either side of her half cocked their triggers, seeing him too. She whispered her caution, 'Don't shoot. I don't see a firearm.' All she could see was his small pack over his shoulder and keys in his hand.

Booth, Dowson and Philips stepped out from their covering positions, togged up in their full FBI protective gear and helmets, aiming at him. Dowson rolled out from behind the reception office on Broadsky's right, Philips from the side of the motel to his left, and Booth from behind a vehicle in the parking lot dead ahead.

Once they were positioned, Craven motioned to Savage's sheriff. Ed slid down the riverbank towards the fast flowing river from beside Bones, and ran along the towpath, hunched over, towards the mill. He ushered a few perplexed visitors inside, and closed the huge doors, securing everyone inside, including himself just as Booth shouted his warning.

'Jacob Broadsky! FBI. Don't move!' Booth edged towards him with anxious perspiration dripping down his temples from under his helmet. Broadsky didn't seem to notice or hear him as they cautiously closed in on his position on all sides. 'You've got nowhere to go, Jacob,' Booth explained a little more calmly. 'Let me take you in...' Broadsky finally looked over to him, as he hobbled towards the VW.

'I'm not coming in, Seeley. I have a mission to accomplish and complete,' he explained flatly, totally unconcerned by being surrounded by the high powered firearms.

'You're ill, Jacob. This mission of yours, you're not a modern day Robin Hood or some winged avenger of the people.' Broadsky huffed a laugh at that comment, opening the car door. 'You're a former sniper suffering post traumatic stress. You need help... I can get you that help.'

'You've got it all wrong, Seeley, as usual,' he sneered viciously, jumping from calm to manic in a split second, incensed that Booth thought he was ill. 'What I want is you dead now. So I can do what you haven't got the balls to do!' He threw his pack inside the car door, glaring at Booth. Booth could see his colleagues get twitchy fingers, and flapped his hand for them to calm down, which they reluctantly did.

Booth pleaded again for him to see sense, 'Listen to what you're saying, Jacob...' Broadsky took a bored breath. Booth lowered his tone, and asked carefully, understandingly, 'How much are you taking a day? How much do you need now to stop the tremors?' Broadsky twitched at his questions, flaring his nostrils, irritated. 'I can't let you go, Jacob.' Booth took a pace closer to him. 'You've taken lives without official sanction.'

That word, sanction, infuriated Broadsky further, and he railed bitterly, 'Then fucking shoot me!' Broadsky then charged at him with his rigid arms by his sides. Booth stepped back but kept his aim high on his heart. Broadsky slammed his heart against the barrel of Booth's weapon. 'Do it,' he commanded, 'You limp-dicked wimp, do it!' he yelled in his face, pushing his chest into the barrel harder. Booth saw his saliva splatter his visor, and his insult hit the mark, enraging him.

Bones gasped, seeing Booth's finger click back the trigger while he glared at Jacob, deciding whether to pull it. Their conversation was clearly transmitted on the open radios between the SWAT team. She could hear the turmoil in Booth's tone, and see his wavering restraint, so clicked open her radio. 'Booth, just bring him in,' she said calmly, with her heart in her mouth. Her voice instantly drew his attention, and Booth released his trigger finger a little. Broadsky laughed ironically hard, hearing a voice from the grave he thought he'd sent Bones too.

'The meddling bitch is still alive. See, you've no balls, Seeley, you never had. At least she pulled the trigger...' Broadsky sneered at him, looking at him like he was disgusted with his cowardice.

The two former colleagues stared deep into each other for a few climatic seconds. Their joint assignments in hostile foreign lands, hostage rescues and dubious targets passed between them in that instant. Painful regrets, war-forged comradeships and their personal moral struggles too, flowed between them. Booth understood the climax he craved and there was a sudden paralyzing understanding between them. Booth could see a miniscule fleck of a plea in Jacob's agitated pupils.

Booth realised Jacob was asking him to pull the trigger. He wanted him to show him the respect and let him die as he'd taken so many, too many others. It was clear he wanted his life extinguished by a worthy, nobler opponent and friend, rather than to rot in jail or a sanatorium. Jacob needed him to push him up the last rung into the brilliant glory as he perceived it; but Booth knew that was not his right, duty or his option. Unable to grant the last silent request of his friend, Booth blinked, and barely shook his head to refuse.

Almost immediately Broadsky turned back to his open car door, paced after by Booth and his two supporting Agents. Booth warned again, 'Jacob...' Suddenly Broadsky ducked down behind his open car door, and pushed the car key remote lock, aiming it at his room.

The blinding unexpected explosion triggered in room 4, blasted the door off its hinges, splintering it into a million matchsticks. The instantaneous fire rushed out from inside, as if it came yelling from hell and ignited them. It sent lacerating shards of glass, wood and rock wall out in all directions too, as razor sharp projectiles and blinding dust. The whistling scream of flying debris bounced off the mill's flank behind Bones, and sounded like the ear piercing wail of a phantom steam train along rusted tracks. The roof of room 4 lost cohesion and flew up into the air along with a singeing orange fireball. Vehicle car alarms in the parking lot sounded immediately as they were rocked on their tires. The powerful shockwave of the blast flung Booth and his men back eight feet and flat to the ground, with stunning thumps.

Mr & Mrs Weinberg collapsed over one another behind the counter, as the windows of the reception cracked, and blasted inwards to shower them in glass like summer hailstones. All the onlookers taking refuge from the stand off cowered or screamed inside the old mill. They watched in horror as the fire took hold of the motel's neighbouring rooms, and flaming debris fell like rain from the clear blue sky to land indiscriminately in the parking lot, and over the stunned SWAT team.

Lifting her head, Bones saw Booth thrown back and temporarily disabled, and Broadsky scuttle into his glassless VW. Bones ran from her prone position on the grassy riverbank across the street. She flicked off the safety catch on Booth's handgun. Broadsky reversed, then slammed the car forwards, and skidded out of the parking lot. He was already thundering over the red painted iron bridge when she started firing after his escaping vehicle.

The white sedan met him at pace coming from the lane, hearing the explosion. 'Shit!' he barked. Realising that escape route was blocked, Broadsky slammed on his brakes, and reversed back over the trembling old bridge. He hand braked turned to spin 180, and set off towards Bones, who was standing in the middle of the road. Seizing this opportunity, Jacob changed up gears, and pushed the gas pedal to the floor, clearly intending to take her out once and for all.

Bones stood her ground, held her breath, and aimed for the front two tires. Just like Broadsky had done the other day along the Rock Creek Parkway, she fired two ice cold shots. The tires exploded and jarred the front of the car down onto its rims. Jacob heard the rims scrape the tarmac, and saw sparks fly past his windows but he ignored all that, and kept going, staring into his destiny.

Broadsky was surprised she didn't shoot at him, thinking she too, was too noble, and sneered dismissively. But he lost that expression then he came to a grinding whining halt, as her third deliberately aimed shot pierced through the front grate and disabled the altarnator. As he lost power and crawled to a halt just shy of the Motel again, he rested his head back to the pink fluffy seat cover, and sighed.

The car came to a rolling halt at her shins, and she pointed her weapon at his skull through the nonexistent windshield. He slowly lifted his hands in surrender, and waited, knowing it was over.

The onlookers in the mill opposite started applauding but couldn't be heard out on the street. The Weinberg's looked at one another open mouthed. Then a flushed Kathy said sarcastically, 'Yes, Isaac, a lovely quiet man, how much cash did he give you?'

'Oh. Shut up, Woman. We're insured...'

Bones ran around to Broadsky's door, and pulled it open, aiming at his temple. Grabbing his suit jacket, she pulled him out, 'On your knees, on your knees!' she insisted, and kicked his leg wound to show him she was in no mood to be messed with. He groaned in agony, and swore, dropping to his knees. 'Hands clasped behind your head, do it!' He did as instructed without hesitation, winching in pain as his leg began to bleed again and ooze through the material of his dress pants.

Booth ran to her side as fast as he could, and whipped out his handcuffs, then snapped them around his wrists. 'Nii-ice shootin', Tex,' Booth said drolly, as he hauled Broadsky up to stand, flaring his eyes at Bones, clearly impressed, and a little turned on. Bones' livid filled eyes were trained on Broadsky gaunt face however, but she took a double take of Booth. Then she slipped him a smile when she realised he was being cute.

'I did do rather well, didn't I?' She grinned proudly as a wailing fire truck hauled around the corner from Main street and drove into the motel parking lot opposite. The firemen started to pull out their hoses to douse the flames that were eating the motel alive.

The partners walked either side of Broadsky, making their way to the white sedan, now parked outside the mill. Their elation was written all over their faces and their abyssal relief. Every witness began to calm and breathe again as Broadsky was frog-marched away.

Jacob said gently between them, 'Isn't it a beautiful day to die...?' Then he stood still, looked towards heaven, and closed his eyes. Booth and Bones both looked into his serene face, and spotted a shimmering red dot between his eyes. Bones had just one thought; medulla oblongata, and instinctually stepped back half a pace.

All Broadsky's memories, neuroses' and brains were obliterated in the blink of an eye, and his terminal body was thrown backwards out of their grasps. As they were sprayed with his liquefied memoirs, they fell to the ground on their buttocks. They could hear the muffled screams of horror from all inside the mill but all they could see was each other's stunned expressions.

Seeing the horrific execution, Kathy Weinberg grabbed her husband into a fervent clinch, and clung onto him. He held her back just as devotedly, shielding her from the gruesome scene. Albeit too late for her to miss Broadsky's head being blown off his shoulders like an exploding watermelon.

A deathly silence came from all the law enforcement officers that surrounded the scene of carnage and raging inferno. It was as loud as the kill shot that still echoed along the stunned streets of Savage.

The partners stared at one another through the bitter white smoke and singed cherry blossom confetti that filled the air. It swirled around akin to a warm snow flurry and shrouded Jacob, then finally rose on the next spring gust and blew away.

Bones slid her eyes to the mill, and looked to its small domed tower summit, Booth did the same, knowing, like she did, that was where the precision shot came from. They both pulled off their speckled visor helmets, and stood in silence for a few moments. Their elation was gone, theirs and other's justice snatched from them cruelly, and a sense of colossal defeat crashed through them. Then Bones saw the clouds of wrath and injustice swirl in Booth's eyes.

He began to stride off in the direction of the mill, Bones went after him instantly. She grabbed his arm, and held him fast under a flowering kwanzan Cherry. 'Not today, Booth.' Booth snapped his head around to her, confused by her reluctance to go after the sniper. 'Not today,' she repeated softly, shaking her head slightly, halting his attempt to go again. She stepped in front of him, and gently placed her hands on either cheek, then tenderly kissed his lips. She whispered against them, 'You believe in divine retribution, don't you?' Booth nodded slightly, with his eyes flicking between her welling pupils. She allowed herself the tiniest of smiles amid the devastation and pandemonium surrounding them, adding, 'Today... it's been served...'

The Last Rung

Saturday 18.04 All Saints Church

Familiar scents always evoke memories and the fragrance of incense was no different. As it hit his receptors it calmed him; and he felt a sense of peace wash over him. Walking down the nave of the empty church, Booth chose a pew three back from the high altar. He felt unworthy to sit so close to the altar. Genuflecting, and crossing himself, he slid along a few spaces on the oak pew, and knelt to pray.

Hearing soft footfalls ahead a few minutes later, he looked up to see Father Mike attending to some candles at either end of the altar. As he turned from his task, he saw Booth, and smiled at him welcomingly.

'Seeley, it's been a while, great to see you.' Father Mike walked to him, as Booth sat back on the pew, and offered his hand, which Father Mike shook firmly.

'Yeah, too long.' Father Mike sat next to him as Booth looked up to the crucifix pensively.

Father Mike gave him a moment before he asked, 'How's Parker?'

Booth grinned softly, then looked to him, nodding. 'He's great. Getting cockier everyday and tall - so tall,' he explained with deep parental affection and pride. Booth sighed, and looked to his clasped hands, clearly thinking about other things again.

Father Mike asked carefully, 'When you were last here, you were running. Did Afghanistan work for you?' Booth shook his head, but then looked to him, and smiled ironically.

'No, it didn't... I tried to move on, I loved another as much as I could. It wasn't enough but it doesn't matter now. One moment we were just partners and friends, then the next...' he stopped, and grinned, recalling the last week together. 'Bones and me - we're together now,' he explained a little shyly, but thrilled to give him the news.

Father Mike responded, delighted, 'Oh! That's wonderful, I'm so pleased for you both. Looks like you're off on a date, you look very smart, Seeley.'

Booth huffed a laugh, looking himself over briefly, and smiled. 'Yeah, it's our first official date tonight. My prayers are finally answered...' he said reflectively.

'Yes, clearly, but - you're concerned about something or you wouldn't be here, Seeley. Do you want to talk about it?' Booth blew out a long breath, and finally nodded, but still thought his hands very interesting. Father Mike sat back in the pew, and crossed his legs casually. 'I read the papers, Seeley,' he said compassionately, helping him forwards. 'This is about Jacob Broadsky, isn't it?' Booth nodded, feeling his throat tighten.

'I feel...' Booth paused, shaking his head, and looked up to the Christ above the altar, trying to drain his tears back into his ducts. 'I feel grief he's gone. Angry at the sniper for taking his life, and disloyal to Jacob, but, so much relief he's dead.' Booth looked into Father Mike's deep chestnut eyes, watching him nod slightly, plainly understanding his emotional dilemma. Booth went on, 'For years he'd been a friend and colleague but the job ruined him, twisted his mind. I wasn't there for him when he needed me. But he'd threatened to kill Parker, Bones, and all the people I love and I hated him for that. And he took all those lives...' Booth stopped rambling his confused emotions, and sank a little in the pew, tipping his head back, and sighed. 'When people asked or said he was a friend of mine, I denied it, I denied our friendship. I didn't want to be associated with him or show them that connection that we had. I feared they might think the same could happen to me.'

'Umm. That's a familiar story to a clergyman.' Booth nodded. Father Mike went on gently, 'Peter was forgiven, Seeley, and so can you be... Have you asked for forgiveness?' Booth shook his head, and wiped his tears quickly. 'Do you know the man that took Jacob's life?'

Booth nodded solemnly. 'Bones stopped me from going after him.'

'Do you know why she did?'

'Yes, she knew I would shoot him. She saw how angry I was. She saw my guilt too and knew how much it takes away from me to take a life, however you justify it. I looked into her eyes, confused by her stopping me from getting him, and all I saw was love in them. She asked me a question, a question of faith. It saved me, she saved me, and my soul...'

A long silence drew out between them as they both thought deeply. Then Father Mike shook his head slightly, with a wry smile. 'Are you aware of the story of Jacob's ladder in the Book Of Genesis?' Booth nodded, and looked towards him.

'Yes. Jacob fell asleep and dreamt of a ladder between heaven and earth. God spoke to him in the dream. He saw the angels move between heaven and here. Guiding souls.'

'That's right. The ladder represents the Way to ascend, metaphorically the steps needed to reach the Lord. The angels showed him the way. Jacob saw the bridge between the two kingdoms. Do you think it possible you have angel showing you the way, Seeley?'

'What, Bones?' Booth asked incredulously, knowing that was what he was implying.

'Why not? Many theologians believe that the ladder is a trial of life, of faith. We, as mortals climb and descend the steps according to our actions. Our souls ascend with each good, compassionate deed and descend steps when we fail. Maybe your Bones was protecting you from slipping down a rung. You were the one that said, she saved me and my soul. I think that's precisely what she did yesterday.'

'I think Broadsky believed in the ladder,' Booth began. 'He asked me to take his life during the stand off. He wanted me to end it, but I couldn't, not that way. And when he was shot, just before, he looked to heaven. He knew the shot was coming and didn't fear his death, I believed he welcomed it, Father.'

'Humm. Divine retribution, some might say,' Father Mike said thoughtfully, looking towards the altar. Booth snapped his head to him, stunned he should say that now. 'Jacob Broadsky had obviously made his peace and was prepared for whatever punishment or forgiveness the Lord saw fit to administer; whether it be in this life or the next.'

Booth shifted in his seat, and sighed. 'Will his fate be mine?' Booth asked.

Father Mike smiled, and patted his shoulder with his liver spotted hand. 'None of us should know our fate, Seeley. But I'll say this, with Dr Brennan looking out for you, it's unlikely.' Father Mike adjusted his cassock, as he stood, adding, 'Give thanks, Seeley, for her, your life and don't be ashamed to grieve for Jacob.' Booth dropped his head, nodding. 'Bring her to Mass one day,' he added brightly, 'I like a challenge.'

'She doesn't like the smell of incense much,' he said, grinning up at him now.

Sagely, he explained, 'People change their tastes, principles and attitudes all the time, Seeley, especially for the ones they love...' Booth watched him walk up the nave and away as his dark cassock flapped gently behind him.

Saturday 19.29

Booth hitched up his best dress pants, and adjusted his Cocky belt buckle, thinking it about time he put it back on. Checking his breath in his palm, he finally, nervously tapped her apartment door. He blew out a fast whistle from his lips to calm himself, and put on his best smile.

The door opened and she looked confusedly at him, 'Why are you knocking?' she asked, as she clipped away across her hard wood floor, adding, 'You've got a key.' Booth stepped over the threshold, and felt his eyes buzz with a rabid hunger. He knew she was a gorgeous woman, he'd seen all she possessed under her clothes several times now. But he was having difficulty deciding if she looked more edible naked or in what she was wearing now.

'Temperance,' he said softly, as she picked up her small bag and matching magenta pashmina off the kitchen island. She paused, and turned, surprised by the sound of his voice and him using her name so. When she saw his eyes almost salivating at her just below the knee dress and heels and the way he edged carefully closer to her, she understood. She smiled at the luscious tingling electricity that his stare sent along her neuron axons.

She said in her silky bedroom voice, hoping he was going to agree with her question, 'Shall we skip dinner at Langhams and just...' She didn't get to finish her sentence as his soft tongue sought out hers, and his warm lips melted to hers. She felt his fingers trace her spine down to her waist and his loins jump against her. When he broke the sensuous kiss, and rested his brow on hers a little breathless, she licked her lips slowly of the moisture he'd left on them. 'Umm. Bed it is then.' Booth shook his head against hers, she lent back to look into his misty eyes. 'No bed?'

'Not yet, I'm enjoying the sweet anticipation of being inside you.' Bones groaned, and grit her jaw in subtle frustration but again she understood totally. 'You look, va, va voom...' he complimented in his own bedroom voice. He held her hands out either side of her, and whistled softly, while looking over her. She pecked his lips for his compliment, touched by it, and laced her fingers through his, then tugged him out the door. He pulled it closed, as he trotted after her.

'You've been to church,' she said, pushing the elevator call button. Booth grinned, hearing only relief in her tone and understanding. The doors slid open, and they stepped inside hand in hand. 'I can smell incense.' She shot him a sweet smile, then pushed the button for them to descend. 'Smells good on you.' Booth squeezed her hand, searching her sparkling eyes. She smiled harder, and stroked his smooth jaw dotingly. 'I'm pleased you went back after so long. I was starting to get concerned you'd never go back,' she confessed softly.

'I'm ok now, ' he reassured, seeing how his faith was something she treasured in him. 'The Big Guy and me, we're fine. Sorted a few things. Got my mojo back.' He kissed her cheek then the back of her hand just as tenderly.

The doors slid open to the basement parking lot and they stepped out. 'I've noticed.' They walked to the SUV as she made more observations, 'And Cocky's back.' She ran her hand over his belt buckle as he opened the door for her to get in. Booth jumped slightly as she teased a tad lower. 'Oooh. How I've missed him,' she drooled sexily, flicking a naughty brow at him. Booth chuckled, slamming the door, then ran around to get in.

Langhams Restaurant

Langhams was intimate, candle lit and darkly cosy, the food impeccable and service unobtrusive. Their table was discreetly tucked away from the other patrons and they felt alone together for the first time in thirty hours. A baby grand piano was being caressed in the far corner and gave a seductive ambiance to the muted conversations and tinkling of cutlery.

Their dinner conversation had been easy and flowing effortlessly, at times amusing. Even their eye contact was almost constant and endlessly seductive. To the point they knew if they didn't change the current subject, they'd end up in the back alley with the trashcans as witnesses to a lewd act of public indecency.

Pulling her eyes from his, she warned, 'Booth, stop undressing me. It's distracting me from this excellent chocolate and ginger soufflé.'

'You stop too then or give me a taste, you piggy.' She grinned, scooping him a little on her spoon, and held it to his lips. She spooned it in as his lips curled around it, and pulled it off slowly. She started with, 'We haven't talked about yesterday much, except for in the official reports and the facts.' Booth swallowed his decadent mouthful, and took her free hand, entwining his fingers with hers across the table. He nodded for her to continue, because he knew she needed to ask some questions. 'Do you understand why I didn't want you to go after him?' Booth nodded, squeezing her hand. She took another tiny mouthful, savouring the sweetness on her tongue, while holding his rapier gaze. She took a sip of wine, still not letting go of each other's eyes. 'You know who took the shot, don't you?' Booth's expression didn't change but he squeezed her hand again to confirm. He wasn't going to give her his name, that much was clear to her.

'I've been thinking about that letter you received...' She spooned up some more, and held it to his lips. Again he mouthed off the light mousse that melted on his tongue, grateful for her sharing so generously. Especially when it was a tiny little portion in his estimation. 'I don't think it was from Broadsky, Baby Duck got that wrong.' Booth swallowed the confection slowly. She went on, 'I believe it was from a sniper though, but the man you know the name of, and the man that was officially sanctioned to take him out.'

Booth grinned slightly. 'You're reading my mind again.' He shuffled around the crescent leather booth, and sat close next to her. She sat back, and searched his eyes for his explanation. Booth told her what she needed to know, 'He wasn't officially sanctioned per se, Bones. His letter was a professional courtesy to me to find Jacob first. He knew the threat was real and imminent. It wasn't until I saw that photograph of Jacob's face that I knew who sent the warning letter. Or at least what my gut was telling me. It relaxed me a little knowing he was looking for Jacob too.' Bones nodded, picking up her glass, and drained the contents. He could see her brow furrow slightly, and he poured some more slowly, trickling the last of the bottle into her glass. 'You think I should've told you.'

'Yes, but I understand why you didn't. All those discreet calls you didn't want me to see you making, you were asking around.'

'Yeah, official channels and non-official channels,' he confessed, then explained, 'But the calls I made at the Jeffersonian really were to the guys to do your bathroom.' Bones smiled convinced, and looked back to him.

'Why wouldn't he leave it to us to capture Broadsky alone? Why did he get involved?' Booth took in a deep breath, and let it go slowly. Bones waited patiently for his answer.

Booth said simply, 'Pride...' Bones snagged her head back, and shook it slightly, clearly not understanding.

'Broadsky was a sublime perfectionist. The best sniper of his generation, possibly two. He taught me and many others his genius. He saved scores of servicemen's lives and the general public. His credentials, honour and skills are, were unimpeachable. But like all genius', he had a flaw. It started out after a particular episode in his career when we were in the Gulf.'

Bones clarified the event, 'He took a shot he wasn't allowed or sanctioned to take.'

'Yes. The pressure of the situation got to him. He was going to be reprimanded and disappeared. He wasn't going to wait around for the humiliating court marshal. You have to understand, Bones, before this incident he was our mentor, the patriarch of us all. Before we left for the Gulf, he'd been assigned to train the new young bucks, me included. However he confided in me one night over a few too many scotches, that he felt he was losing his still hand and nerves began to creep in. So he turned to drugs for help. Meth calms and relaxes the muscles, gives a sense of omnipotence.'

'Yes, in the short term and small doses, but he was found to be awash with it and he'd obviously been using it for sometime. That can cause paranoia, depression and aggressive mood swings. Manic behaviour...'

'Exactly. Something happened to him, more than likely a mixture of the drug, being sidelined from the big assignments and his mounting errors. After that incident he was out in the cold. The mighty had fallen... I believe he saw the injustices of the people who got away with hurting others, like Taffet. So he took it upon himself to step back into the fray, in a twisted sense of doing good and getting back his demi-God status. The people on the side lines he killed were collateral damage. That's where the pride comes in... State sanctioned murder or the professional goal of a sniper is to take out the target with no collateral damage. That, we're taught, is unacceptable and unprofessional, illegal. We walk away and try another day. The code was being broken by Jacob, the profession sullied and too many innocents taken in his crusade. It sounds crazy, Bones but he was insulting his colleagues and his exalted profession within the military. That's why he was taken by a sniper's bullet, by one of his own. He couldn't be allowed to continue.'

Bones softened her tone again, and caressed his hand tenderly, as she said, 'Jacob asked you, didn't he? He asked you yesterday in the parking lot...' Booth dropped his eyes, sighing, realising she must have read their silent exchange. Booth nodded, then lifted his eyes to hers. She could see his warm eyes cloud. She stroked his jaw compassionately, saying, 'That was cruel of him to do that to you. It's ok to feel sad, Booth, you lost a friend yesterday.' Booth squeezed her hand a little tighter, as he kissed the back of it softly, thanking her for understanding his mixed emotions.

Bones went on, 'He knew it was coming, did you see when he looked up, remember what he said?' Booth nodded solemnly.

'Yeah, he knew it was coming,' Booth confirmed. 'He wanted it to end that way. Arguably the best ever, taken out by the next best.'

'That was why you were so eager to go get the sniper in the mill, you were mad at him. We'd just captured Jacob and he was going to pay for his many crimes and get help too. Then he was snatched from us. Why would he kill Jacob after we caught him though? Where's the professional courtesy in that and why send you that letter if he every intension of shooting him anyway?'

Booth shook his head, looking into his wine thoughtfully. The waiter appeared, and asked, 'Coffee, brandy?' Bones grinned, and looked to Booth.

'Two Napoleon brandy's, please,' Booth ordered, with a soft smile.

Bones felt it was time to move on, and stop the shop talk. She swung her legs up over his, and wrapped her hands around his neck, pulling him over her, 'Kiss me.'

'What, here?'

'Any-where you like,' she drooled vampish-ly. Booth chuckled as she pointed to her lips, breasts, then waggled her brows, as she pointed vaguely to her Eden. Booth didn't hesitate, and kissed her tenderly, while running his hand up her leg to just over her knee covered in a soft sheen. She broke the kiss, and whispered, 'Go a little higher,' then resumed their wet deep kiss. Booth did hesitantly, thinking they were going to get funky in the posh restaurant and thrown out. But when he felt the suspender strap attached to her stocking, he couldn't breathe. She grinned against his mouth, feeling his cock nearly punch through his dress pants, and his hot hand squeeze her thigh. Bones broke the kiss again, and panted slightly, saying briskly, 'Drink up, pay the check, I'm going to the ladies room.' With that she picked up her discreetly delivered brandy, knocked it back, and got off him like a woman on her own mission. Booth blinked several times, bleary eyed, and snapped his hand over his erection to hide it, as he called for the check.

He knocked back his brandy, and chased it with a glass of water, then threw his card down without looking at the amount. The waiter smiled pleasantly, and plugged in his card to the reader.

'Did you have a pleasant evening, Sir?'

'Oh. Yes, great. The soufflé was wonderful. Everything was great, thank you.' He tapped in his PIN number adding a healthy tip, as the waiter looked away again discreetly.

The waiter ripped off his receipt, and handed him an envelope from inside his jacket with it. 'With our compliments, Sir. Please, come back soon,' he said politely, bowing slightly. Booth nodded, tucking the envelope and receipt into his pocket blindly, as he saw Bones already had her coat on, and was walking back towards their table. She had a look about her which drew him to her. He met her half way, and offered her his arm. Without a word exchanged, they almost ran out the doors of the restaurant towards their SUV.

'Where to?' Booth asked, turning on the engine, noting his voice sounded huskily strained. 'Yours or mine?'

Wistfully she said, 'Look at that moon, gorgeous.' Booth looked to where her eyes were trained, then quickly back to hers, not really giving a damn about the moon. She smiled at him serenely, and placed her hand on his thigh. 'I need space, Booth. Let's go to your homestead.'

'My homestead?'

'Please?' she asked, with those eyes he couldn't resist. He slammed the stick shift to drive, and put his foot down. Bones grinned surreptitiously out at the immense moon again, while caressing his upper thigh. 'Dinner was lovely, Booth, thank you. My treat next time,' she said, looking back to him. He was chewing on his bottom lip nervously. He shifted in his chair slightly as her hand went a little higher, then a delicate finger absently tickled his growing bulge. 'The Moon is as close as it's been to the Earth for several decades this month.'

'Really? Oh. How interesting,' he said, shifting again, trying to concentrate on the road ahead.

Bones dropped her tone from warm and smooth to hot and gravely, asking,'I've held a little fantasy for sometime now, Booth... Do you think you could oblige?' Booth snatched a glance at her just as he indicated to go on the slipway to join the interstate.

'What is it?'

She grinned at him. 'Can't you guess?' Bones lifted the arm rests between them, then reached to his Cocky buckle. Booth looked down to her hand, then to her wild eyes. He knew exactly what her fantasy was because he'd shared it for years. He just never imagined she would be so eager to fulfil it.

Bones didn't wait for his possible protest or agreement as she undid Cocky, and effortlessly unzipped his pants. She looked ahead along the almost empty road, saying quickly, eager to taste him and satisfy her long held desire, 'Steady hand, Booth.' They glanced at one another, knowing the dangers involved in a fast moving vehicle, which made this act all the more exciting. She saw his cheek twitch, as she carefully freed him, then unclipped her seatbelt. The molten smile she gave him before she pounced told him two things. One, she knew she was good at this and two, she was very good at this. Booth gulped for air, and braced. Bones dropped her head into his lap with all the elegance of a hunting feline, and purred shamelessly as she captured her prey.

'Fuck! Bones, Je-sus! Jesus...' He gripped the steering wheel like a vice, and couldn't help his foot from slamming to the floor at the sensation of her wet hot mouth engulfing him. They suddenly, violently accelerated. Bones slipped her hand down his tense leg, and tried to lift it. He realised what she wanted him to do. It took a few seconds for his head to clear, as he gently lifted his foot. Bones shot up, sucking off him, and pushed a button on the dash, then just as quickly, went back down.

Booth realised she'd put on the cruise control, then he didn't care as she suckled and hummed which reverberated through him like a C sharp. She hungrily curled her agile tongue around his ridges, over and over. His grip got tighter and tighter on the steering wheel, while his knuckles glowed brighter in the moonbeams bouncing off them. She worked him into a sweaty noisy frenzy above her. He gushed idolatrously, while adding an equal quantity of raunchy profanities as a serenade.

Bones shot up again, licking her lips, and tossed her tresses. 'How's it for you?' she said proudly, beaming him a smile to melt lead. He laughed, and pulled her to him around her shoulders, and kissed her solidly, trying to keep one eye on the road.

When they stopped kissing, she flared her eyes, and crooned gleefully, 'I'm just warming up. Don't crash us...' She was back in his lap, and throated him, slowly this time.

Booth's mouth opened just as slowly as he was encased in her soft throat, and his breathing stopped for an instant. She could feel his heartbeat in her mouth quicken, as she relaxed her throat, and pumped at him deep with her bobbing head. Booth finally took a breath of hot sex laden air. He fumbled for the window switch and the pane descended. The cool spring air filled the SUV, and blew around her hair like Medusa's on his lap. Suddenly Bones heard a long loud blare of a car horn, and felt the car swerve. She hummed her admonishment, but refused to stop her sensational onslaught.

'Sorry, sorry, close,' he muttered, blinking, seeing the white lines flash by the either side of the SUV. It felt like he was going faster and faster, like his blood. A ferocious fire tore through his groin causing him to clench to hold himself back. He placed a trembling hand on her head, and twitched uncontrollably as the explosion was about to go off between his legs. 'Enough, can't-hold-it,' he warned gallantly. Bones took no heed, in fact he noted, she quickened, and her tongue ran rings around his ridges, insisting he deliver for her.

Bones listened to his breathing shorten, his voice fail, and felt his muscles in his thighs turn to marble. Then her suckling mouth was full of his hot spring sap, she gulped rapaciously, sunk him deeper as more sweet silk hit her throat.

Booth snarled at the moon, and rattled the steering wheel in his cramping grip as she emptied him. The rush of his orgasm mixed with the howl of the air and flashing white lines, propelled him as if travelling at light speed lit by a massive stationary moon. His guttural cry of release was the catalyst for her too, she writhed her ass around stimulating herself as much as she could to prolong her climax.

Finally as the surges and terrifying heat subsided, he relaxed to just panting, and trying to relax his grip too. Bones began to amble too, and gently laved him fresh. Lastly she kissed his tip softly, and sat slowly back in her seat. Booth glanced to her as her breasts heaved, and she licked her lips. 'Years,' she began throatily, with her eyes closed. 'Years, and years I've masturbated to that fantasy. The reality is vastly superior and more satisfying.' She rolled her head on the head rest, and opened her leaden eyes to look at him.

'Glad to oblige,' he managed, trying to sound blasé. Bones huffed a chuckle, and ran her fingers through his hair at the back of his head. Continuing to caress his hair, she rolled her head back, and closed her eyes again.

Booth tucked himself back into his shorts one handed, and zipped up as quietly as he could. He turned off the interstate, and drove in silence past the Diner they ate at last Sunday. Booth glanced to her regularly as she dozed.

He wanted to say the most romantic things to her, he ached to tell her what she was to him. How she was his breath, how she made him feel when she just looked in his direction. How his pulse reacted when she kissed him and how he thought about her every waking moment. But he knew that wasn't her way nor what she wanted from him. She couldn't even say the word love to him, although she did love him, which he was convinced of. So he stayed silent.

'You're quiet, everything ok?' she asked softly. Her concerned question focused his mind again.

'Yeah, fine, Bones. Fantastic.' She opened her scrutinising eyes, and looked at him with them.

'What is it?' she asked again, knowing he was covering for something, twirling a strand of hair around her index finger at the back of his head. Booth tightened his lips together, and shook his head, staring straight ahead. He pulled up at the cow gate, and got out to open it. She sighed, but smiled slightly at his reluctance to tell her, as she watched him unlock the gate.

Booth jumped back in, and drove them up the track again. He drove a little further this time, knowing she had killer heels on and walking in them up a hill was going to be difficult at best. He started again with a smile, storing his romantic, sentimental thoughts away, and went with what worked for them, 'Come on then, you wanted to see this moon. And if you think I'm carrying you up that hill, you're very much mistaken.' He got out, and locked the door, as he heard her chuckle.

'This was a whim, possibly a lusty alcohol fuelled whim, I agree. But you agreed to it.'

'Yeah, well, what guy's gonna refuse a little woodland walk in return for an awesome blow job?' Bones smacked his arm playfully, before she looped hers through his, and they chuckled.

As they strolled through the wood, it creaked with the gentle wind, shot through with milky light, Bones looked into his smiling face from the side. 'I know why you went all quiet on the drive here,' she said softly. Booth looked into her now.

'You mind reading again?'

She watched her feet, as they walked on, and smiled. 'Yes. ESP is another of my many talents.' He threw his head back, and laughed hard. 'It's true,' she insisted. 'I'll prove I can read your mind.'

'Oh. Boy! I gotta hear this.' He felt her shiver, so whipped off his coat, and slipped it around her shoulders, challenging, 'Come on. Hit me with it.'

'Thank you.' He nodded, accepting her thanks for his coat. 'You were contemplating us, how we are together.' He lost his smile a little, and flicked his eyes sideways. She went on, 'You were sad about something and don't think or feel you should bring it up between us so soon.'

'You're clutching at straws, Bones. I was thinking how bloody cold it's gonna be up here.'

She ignored his nervous white lie with, 'I think you're thinking if you're romantic with me I might reprimand you for being too sentimental or tease you about it.'

'You would,' he said, sure of his facts.

'Oh. Really? You know me that well, do you?'

'I like to think so, yes.'

'Ok then, let me put this another way. I know you're a very romantic man and have certain ideals about love and relationships which don't necessarily match with mine. So I believe you're acting with me like you think you should, like what I want from this relationship.'

'Ok, maybe that's true, but I don't mind reining back the slushy stuff if it turns you off. Let me ask you a question.' She nodded, as they began the climb up the hill hand in hand. Bones soon realised this was a bad idea in heels as they kept sinking into the soft ground, and nearly toppling her backwards. If it wasn't for his warm strong grip on her hand, she would've been on her backside twice already. 'What would you say if I told you that after we got funky against that tree last Sunday, I wanted to carve our initials in it inside a big heart?' He added honestly under his breath, 'I had to stop myself on Monday from coming up here and doing it.'

'Well, that's just ridiculous!' she blurted, aghast at the notion. 'It's like marking a notch in a bed post and it's extremely dangerous for the tree. It could be infected by several malignant spores or fungi, even beetles, which could kill it eventually.'

She'd just proved him right, so irked, Booth riled, 'See? That's not the point, Bones. Screw the tree and its life expectancy! It's romantic, to mark our moment and beginning. A permanent reminder.'

'Marking a conquest, more like, a lusty one at that. Not that I'm complaining, I had very deep powerful orgasms that evening,' she cooed, remembering fondly. She stopped walking, sinking into the mulch in her heels, and smiled at him as she sunk slowly. He grinned back, and slipped his arms around her waist, kissing her lips softly.

Booth recalled too, 'Yeah, ya did.' Suddenly she rocked backwards, and gripped him tighter, losing her smile as she went over the apex. 'Whoop! Come here.' He laughed at her worried expression, and pulled her up again. Booth started to walk on again, still gripping her hand but she tried to lift her foot out, but just her foot came out of her shoe.

'Arh! Help!' She swaggered on one leg for her balance, grimacing, then started to laugh at the situation.

Booth vented though, 'Take 'em off! For God's sake, Bones. Heels up here was not one of your best ideas.'

'Haa! I know. Sorry, it sounded good at the time, romantic even.' Booth huffed at her comment, as he pulled out her shoe with a squelch, and slipped it back on her foot. 'I've got another idea...' she said carefully.

'I'm not carrying you, and that's final!' He barked, grabbing her hand again, and tugged her up the hill.

'Ha. No, I meant, what if I meet you half way?'

'What, up the hill? We're already half way up.' His pace was fast now and he was obviously annoyed, and wanted to get to the top fast, then back down it pretty darn quick too, she realised.

Exasperated, she urged, 'Listen, will you? We've had our moments, romantic in nature not just lusty ones. We have our way of saying how we feel about each other, that's romantic to me...'

He nodded, then waggled his head not really convinced. 'Yeah, I suppose, in a weird kinda way. You can't say it to me though, can you?' Bones stopped, and felt her heart pound as he let go of her hand.

She said softly, a little hurt by his tone, 'I can say it, if you need to hear it. I just thought...' They were almost at the top when Booth's attention was caught by something on the crest.

'What the...' Booth ran up the last bit to stand on the plateau he'd cleared. Bones looked up, and saw him standing with his hands on his hips in a piqued pose haloed by moonlight.

She said, 'I love you,' as he strode off not hearing her gentle declaration, and he flapped his hand to quieten her.

'Goddamn it! This is private property! Come out of there or I'll shoot!' he warned without his gun to hand, too pissed off to care. Bones staggered over the crest, to see a huge cream canvas tent staked out on his plateau. It had three peaks in its roof and on each corner, flickering oil flame torches pushed into the ground. The tent was illuminated from inside too and it glowed yellow warmth through the canvas. Its gentle welcoming vision overlooked the silver lined sleepy valleys below.

Bones sighed forlornly as he strode to the front of the tent, and ripped aside the front flap, then rushed inside. 'What, the, hell is going on? I'll kill 'em...' she heard him rant from inside, obviously mad at the trespassers' nerve.

Bones slowly walked to the front of the huge tent where there were two canvas chairs and a small table with a small lit oil lamp on it. She sat down in one of the chairs, and waited, looking up at the platinum moon, naming craters in her head.

She just got past five craters before he emerged with another indignant flap of canvas. 'There's, there's a bed in there,' he informed her, pointing back inside it. He went on, confused and rambling, staring at her sitting quietly looking at the moon, 'A huge fancybed, a nightstand, candles in posh brass stands and, and a floor,' he explained in amazement. 'The bed's all done up nice and there's champagne and flutes in a bucket.'

Bones looked from the moon to him, and said casually, 'I know...'

Booth jaw dropped even lower, then he grinned disbelievingly. 'What do you mean, you know?'

Bones slipped off her shoes, held them in her hand, then stood up. 'I did it, I arranged all this.' She waved her hand in the tent's direction, as Booth snapped his jaw shut. 'I was trying to make our first time romantic, knowing how much you enjoy romantic gestures.' She smiled tentatively, and twitched awkwardly on her small chilled feet. 'I thought with the full rare moon, the candles, the wine...' She took a deeper breath, continuing with, 'The bed is my cabin warming gift to you, on the spot where you want to build your dream.' Booth tried to breathe as his eyes bored into hers, moved beyond words. 'I thought that it might be romantic for us to make love up here, and build our lives around that love. Start from the ground up, so to speak.' Bones looked to her feet again, saying softly, 'You missed it the first time, so I'll say it again...' She lifted her eyes to his, that were dripping love now, 'I don't just like you, Booth... I love you.'

Booth stepped towards her, without taking his eyes out of hers, he picked her up, and carried her inside the glowing tent. 'I'm a fool, a blind fool.' Bones smiled softly, and shook her head to disagree. 'Forgive me...'

After gently placing her down on the sumptuous bed covers, he took her shoes from her, and placed them on the floor carefully. She sat up, slipping his jacket off her shoulders. He took it from her hand, and hooked it over one of the mahogany carved pine coned topped pillars at the end of the bed. When he turned, she was sitting on the edge, and held out her hand for him to take. He took it, kissing it tenderly, and knelt down at her feet. Running his free hand up her stocking-ed calf to her thigh under her dress, he kissed her mouth. He felt her hand release him while they kissed, and begin to undo his tie.

Feeling her trembling fingers brush his throat, he smiled sweetly which broke their kiss. 'I'm nervous,' she confessed. He heard the tremolo in her voice too, and shook his head a little for her not to be. 'If this goes badly, it won't be a good foundation to your dream.' Popping his shirt buttons open, and watching her envious task, she smiled anxiously.

He corrected, 'Our dream, Temperance, our dream...' She smiled a little wider, emboldened, and pecked his lips. She made easier work of his belt now. She slowly pulled it out of the belt loops; it swished against the material and hung lose in her hand. She kissed the buckle affectionately, while looking into his watery eyes. Then she leant to loop it over the nearest bed post to her. He was stripping his shirt off his shoulders as she turned back, and placed her hands on his bare shoulders, then ran her palms flat over his torso appreciatively of his tightening smooth muscles. He stopped her hand's progress to his pants, kissed them, then lifted them above her head. She held them there as he took the hem of her dress, and lifted it off her body slowly.

She felt an epidemic of goose bumps erupt over her exposed flesh like mini smouldering volcanoes. Consequently her nipples constricted violently too, and sensitized inside the lace of her purple bra. When his hands slid down over her shoulders in a V to the clip between her breasts, she visibly shivered again.

'Are you cold?' he asked thoughtfully. She shook her head, and breathed in to control her mounting desire and urgency to finally feel him inside her. She bit her lip, watching his mesmerised face as he unhooked the clip with such care, she wriggled with hope to hasten him. It was to no avail though as he pushed the material aside just enough to expose her globes of flesh just as slowly. His rough hands made their difficult choice, and delicately cupped a breast, lifting it slightly, then brushed his thumb over her rhubarb nipple before his smooth mouth suckled its peak preciously.

'Oh. Lovely, Seeley,' she complimented his leisurely pleasuring. Before this they'd been in a frenzy, and rarely took so much time to enjoy or pleasure so slowly. Her dichotomy was making her edgy though. On the one hand she wanted his passion to explode like solar flares, and rush to couple them. While on the opposite hand, she dared not attempt to speed him up as the sensations were so extravagant and delicious to bear. The amps increased and made her throat vibrate her vocal cords into a deep, 'Ummm...'

Trickling her hands over his hair to his shoulder blades, she traced the muscles she found there for her to delight in. Booth swapped sides, and attended to her right breast with as much admiration as her left. He kept up his soft suckle, as he pushed away her bra completely. He flicked it with his wrist, and it hung over his belt on the same post. Bones chuckled softly, seeing his adept flick and placement.

He looked up into her eyes, as he smiled. 'I love it when you laugh like that,' he said. 'It's like hearing the tinkle of toasting crystal or feeling a warm sunrise on my heart.' Bones felt her eyes gorge themselves on his loving expression, while her mind absorbed his wonderful compliment.

Kissing between her breasts, heading to her deep yearning south, Booth didn't linger over the nasty bruise which was a terrifying reminder of the tumultuous week they'd endured. He didn't want to spoil this time with such painful thoughts, even though they'd survived it intact. To his delight, she settled back to the bed, flattening herself out. Then raising one arm lazily above her head, she relaxed completely just to feel his love making. He rewarded her rare surrender with more wet kisses over her quivering abdomen, while hooking his fingers into her ebony French knickers. Humming again, she lifted her hips to allow him to remove them. Closer and closer, she thought, aching between her legs, almost naked.

Seeing her matching suspender belt and stockings, made Booth moan with male sensual adoration. 'Oooh, Temperance,' he purred softly.

Bones tilted her head to look down at him, and smiled, understanding his reaction. She was flattered by his awed whimper and devouring expression. Her choice of underwear this evening had been deliberate, intentionally provocative and she was delighted he approved. 'Leave them on, if you prefer, if they'll enhance your arousal and experience,' she said generously, caressing the top of his shoulder with her finger tips almost casually.

Booth laughed softly at the irony of her statement. How could she think he needed such embellishments to arouse him further? he mused. She was all he needed or would ever need.

'Maybe another time... Eve,' he said, with a cheeky smile. Bones rumbled a little chuckle at his reference to her being his naughty temptress. He began un-popping the small clips painfully slowly. 'I want to feel nothing between us, just your beautiful smooth skin burning against mine,' he explained tenderly, forging his stare with hers again. He ran his palms either side of her upper thigh, then rolled down the silky mesh, kissing the flesh as he uncovered it. Quivering, she clenched her fist above her, and bowed a little to the amps leaping to full watts now ricocheting up her spine to her overrun limbic region.

They were nearly there, almost but not quite, but so deliciously close to their goal, she judged. Suddenly she gasped as he laved her Eden, then flickered his tongue against her bud like a humming bird's wing. 'See-ley,' she begged, and panted, snapping her eyes wide open. He grinned, knowing she'd had enough foreplay and was tenderly reprimanding him for his procrastination. He ignored her chastisement, but released her other leg of its sheer stocking at the same time as treating her to his speciality.

She mumbled more reprimands incoherently, tossing her head from side to side, while grabbing a fistful of his soft hair. Then she was panting back her orgasm, grimacing to confine herself. Thankfully he stopped her just short of it expertly, and kissed her glistening bud once in parting, and stood up, saying, 'I love the sounds you make when I do that to you.'

Blushing, Bones felt the cool air rush across her belly and thighs, and looked to him, realising in her stupor he'd stripped her bare. He was undoing his zip over his bulge while his expression and eyes turned deep and heavy with emotion, as he told her, 'You taste like love, vital and warm. Your scent inflates my lungs, I only breathe for you...' Bones felt tears drip down her temples uninvited but she welcomed the feeling that powerful emotion evoked in her. Quickly he removed his pants, shorts and socks in one efficient manoeuvre, and she reached for him, overwhelmed by his romanticism and desperate now. His chestnut eyes never left hers, as he lifted the covers, and helped her under them. Then, as he prepared to lay over her, he told her soulfully, 'Your smile is like the sun coming up, my heart beats with it...'

Bones opened her legs to offer him his nesting place, as he flicked the covers back over them, then he guided himself towards her downy garden. Feeling their imminent blending approach, she muttered, weeping unashamedly with tears of joy, 'I love you-I-love-you.' Booth thumbed her pure emotions away, and smiled through his.

'My deeds have emptied out my soul, you've filled it back up with your love, Temperance...' She reached for his member too, and together, they connected themselves finally.

His gentle languid slide into her body was mirrored by her rising pelvis, till they met in the molten core of one another. The moans that escaped from them sounded like they were slowly suffering. Yet it was a divine acme they endured. He settled flush against her, pausing deliberately, needing to. Bones drew her knees up a little more to settle him cosily inside her pillow softness, and carefully pulled his buttocks to her in her hands to seal them together.

Neither party wanted to move although it was inevitable that they would. The sublime sensation of being one body for the first time surpassed all other sexual close encounters to date. It was as though they were starting again from scratch, right there. This moment was their organic conclusion and their absolute magnitude.

'Explain to me again why I don't believe in fate,' she urged softly, never understanding why she hadn't now, as she clearly saw their destiny written in his dedicated eyes. Booth smiled at her words, and rested his brow on hers delicately. He knew by that she'd finally accepted what he'd known since they first met; they were preordained to share their lives. They kissed and caressed as if they'd never touched before, and explored their physical uncharted cosmos like the first couple. Each kiss shared, breathed; I love you. Every tender caress spoke of how precious they were to one another.

Muted exclamations of awe and ecstasy escaped the gently rustling canvas as they finally began to move together, for the other. The glowing canvas walls trapped the erotic shadows of their slow balletic love being made within, and fascinated a tawny owl. The black whispering night gilded with silver revealed against it, tiny emerald pinpricks of intermittent luminescence. Those pinpricks pulsed in symbiosis to the lover's quickening heartbeats. Unbeknown to them, a silent throng of fireflies performed their grand jeté above the peaked canopy in their own pairing ritual.

Then, when the exquisite climax overwhelmed and bonded them together, they cried out into the night and the hushed forest. With their solid foundation laid down with care and their love expressed, they saw announced, in all its brilliant splendour, a durability, via their soldered gazes.

Silent minutes passed uncounted, only punctuated by their recovery breaths and humbled moans. Bones purred thoughtfully, 'From the ground up...' Booth smiled, and laid his head on her cushion chest, pulling the covers over them higher to keep in the warmth they'd generated. She caressed his back, asking, 'Do you like the bed?'

He nodded gently, then mumbled back, 'With you in it especially.' He felt her squeeze him and kiss the top of his head affectionately, which made him smile with his lips on her soul. Then he opened his eyes to the sound of rustling, and her moving under him. 'What ya doing?'

She explained, 'Champers...' He leant up, giving her room as she unwrapped the caged cork dextrously. He reached to get the glasses, and sat up too, holding one in each hand. She popped the cork and it hit the tent roof with a happy thud, and bounced on the rug covered ply-wood floor below. Bones poured the bubbles, then she toasted them, 'To us,' and tilted her glass at his.

He frowned, and said jocularly, 'Is that it? Usually your toasts go on for ages and aaaages.'

Bones grinned. 'Yes, I think it says it all.' Then she pecked his lips softly. He clinked her glass, and took a sip, humming as the cool bubbles trickled down his throat. 'Humm. Lovely.'

Bones rolled to kneel up, and slipped her leg over to straddle him, then held her weight on both her hands on the carved headboard behind, looking into his eyes. She said softly, 'I can still taste you in my mouth...' Booth eyes widened slightly with some surprise. 'I can still feel how deep you've been inside me.' He smiled with that, and caressed her back. 'You've filled me, Booth, filled me up, with your love and tenderness too. And with a considerable amount of ejaculate.'

Her seriousness didn't stop him from bursting out with laughter. 'Bahhaa!' Booth bellowed, 'God, you make me laugh sometimes! Haa.' Bones grinned sheepishly, as that, she realised, wasn't what she wanted him to do, laugh, not right now at least. She sipped her champagne, then placed the glass on the nightstand as his chuckles still rumbled out of him, and he sowed kisses over her upper torso and slim neck.

She went on regardless of his amusement and her blushes, 'I don't want you to stop doing that to me... for as long as I live.' He stopped laughing and kissing gradually, as he saw her eyes sparkle and the nervousness in her smile. Then he re-ran her words, and instantly got concerned, then he realised she was trembling.

'You're trembling...' he stated, and slipped his arms around her, pulling her closer to him to comfort and warm her.

She smiled softly, and nodded. 'Yes,' she confirmed his observation, then mumbled a little, 'This is more stressful than I imagined it would be.' She took the glass out of his hand, and placed it on the nightstand next to hers.

'Are you ok?' he asked as he watched her leaning back slowly to face him again.

She took a deep breath, and settled back on his lap delicately, saying, not too convincingly, 'I'm ok, yes. Fine.' She began again, 'When we were here last weekend and you said those lovely romantic things to me, do you remember?' He nodded, thinking how could she think he'd ever forget? 'I understood that to mean you were offering me all you possessed...' Again he nodded, his brows furrowed more deeply though, she noted. 'You wanted me to be a part of your life and dream and I'm humbled and grateful for what you offered me. But... it was all you were ever going to offer me.' Booth felt his heart sink, and his euphoria dissipate as his mind ran amok with concerns now.

'Yes. I want and need you, just you. Marriage is not what I need or want anymore,' he said, feeling his stomach twist in pain and his heart begin to slow as time ground to a halt at his transgression. He also knew she was backing away as gently as she could, and starting to fade from his grasp.

Bones got off him, and sat with her back to him on the edge of the bed. 'Oh. Booth, that's a lie,' she sighed. 'You say that now, for me, but in five or ten years, you'll begin to resent my principles and walk away.' She slipped her hand nervously under the mattress. 'You're making too big a sacrifice for me.'

Booth wriggled across the mattress, and looked into her face from behind her, palming her back. 'Bones, don't do this, we're fantastic together like we are. We just made love, better love, the greatest love. That won't happen.' Bones quickly got up, and knelt down beside the bed, and looked back into his tortured eyes.

'Please, listen to me,' she implored, stroking his flickering jaw. 'I can't be with you when you're giving up something you want it so badly. It will come between us and tear us apart.' Booth shook his head, and dropped his eyes, feeling them burn, knowing she was probably right as she always proved. 'So I have to take radical steps now to ensure you won't break my heart before we get to that stage, for my own protection...' He crushed his lips to hers, pulling at her, desperate for her not to walk away.

She felt his tears on her cheeks, and he whimpered his entreaty, 'What are you doing? Don't give up on us when we've just started, Bones. Don't leave me, you promised, together whatever, you promised. You couldn't survive alone, remember? I'm here, I love you...'

'Shhh, shhh,' she hushed him compassionately, kissing his tears off his face delicately. They rubbed brows, and breathed in trembling unison. 'Shhh. I won't leave you, Seeley, I promise, on one tiny condition...'

Booth sniffed, and squeezed her hand, asking, 'What is it? Anything, Bones, anything...' He attempted a smile, seeing hers flirt with her lips, almost.

Bones took a long deep breath, then unfurled her free palm slowly, and showed it to him, saying persuasively, 'You have to marry me...'

The deafening silence and his sudden stillness that followed her condition was agonising for her to live through. Had she been too cruel in the way she'd finally got to her question? Or had she asked him too soon in their relationship, or both? Was marriage an institution he truly never wanted to consider again after his previous rejections? she asked, torturing herself with them.

Bones couldn't see his eyes, so couldn't read him either; that made her so uncomfortable she felt nauseous. She counted over a minute of thunderous heartbeats under her sternum before he lifted his eyes to hers, and said softly, evenly, 'That's a pretty good looking wedding band, expensive too, by the look of it.'

Bones felt a little relief because at least he was talking now, and splitting the chronic silence. She began waffling, and fast, looking at the untouched ring in her trembling palm, 'Yes. I wasn't sure whether to go for the solid gold diamond cut or this one, with the three colour meshed gold with the platinum mottling, see?' She flicked her eyes up to his but he was just staring at the ring and nodding slightly. So she prattled on, 'The mottling effect is synonymous with the designer and unique. Peter Wester, he's the designer. The three bands of gold symbolise love, trust and fidelity, I thought that appropriate for us. While the square cut diamond represents the eternal bond of marriage, like the symbolism of giving a ring. I, I had it engraved inside too, take a look...'

'Bones? You're rambling...' he said, with a covert enamoured smile. Booth rolled onto his stomach, and rested his chin on his head-propping palms, deliberately not touching the ring yet. He took his time just admiring it and her tortured face secretly. A little payback wouldn't hurt, he thought smugly.

Booth had never felt such overwhelming love for her as he did right now though. His heart was near enough exploding out of his chest and hammering the sheet below. He admired her bravery too for doing this, and was so moved by her gentle sweetness and touched that she knew if he wasn't going to ask, she had too. It was as clear as the diamond that she was determined to keep them together no matter what it took. She was proving to him she loved him so completely; she was willing to forgo all others for him. He realised too, her evolution was now complete. There were no doubts in his mind to her sincerity or sureness of her decision to propose. And by the look of terror on her face Booth knew she was desperate for him to agree, as she needed this as much as him. There was nothing else to do now except have a little fun, he mused.

'Yes, I know, I'm nervous,' she confessed openly to her loquaciousness. 'I do that when I'm nervous or anxious. You haven't answered my question, that's why I'm being verbally expansive. So I'm going to keep talking till you do.' And so she went on again, 'The size is yours. I know the dimensions of your hands very well, so that wasn't a problem.' Booth seized the opportunity to have his fun, as he felt like a mischievous rapscallion.

'Really, you know my finger size?' he challenged, acting sublimely, then derided her certainty, 'I doubt it will fit; it looks way too small.'

Bones instantly jumped on his negative comment, and defended sharply, 'No it isn't, put it on, try it.' She picked it out of her palm, and pushed it towards him, staring into his eyes from inches away.

Booth sighed loudly, giving her a wonky twitch of his lips, conveying he wasn't convinced. He flapped his hand out at her vaguely, saying, 'You put it on me, which finger does it go on, I can't remember?'

He stopped himself from sniggering as she huffed, annoyed, and said indignantly, 'This one of course, tsk!' Booth watched her slip the ring over his finger carefully, and twisted it slowly around so the sunken diamond was facing up, then grinned arrogantly. 'See? It fits perfectly. I knew it would.' She admired it on his hand, and looked into his eyes which were trained on the ring on his finger.

Booth felt the wide cool exquisite band suddenly warm and fit snugly on his finger. It was a divine sensation for him to be shackled by its weight and its heavy symbolism. He wanted to leap off the bed and run around like a wild jubilant stallion as he was so excited. He wanted to run out into the starry moonlit night and yell to the world; he was a willing prisoner of her heart and love now. He wanted to boast proudly that he was a complete, loved and worthy man and his dream was finally realised. But he chose to temper all his riotous emotions for now, and went with a subtle, yet humorous line, 'So, it, does. Well, wadda-ya-know, you do know my finger size.' Then he twisted it slightly to check its comfort. 'Oh. Hang on, I can't get it off now.' He pretended not to be able to remove it, and looked into Bones' eyes, letting his rippling grin turn into a humongous smile. Then said casually through that smile, 'I best leave it on then, I suppose.'

Bones blushed, realising what he'd done. 'You're toying with me.'

Booth then answered affectionately, 'Yes, Bones, I am.' Then like the fuse had burnt out to the bomb, he exploded upwards. He grabbed her under her arms, and lifted her effortlessly off the ground. She cackled loudly, cavorting with him on the bed with jubilation; as her nerves and anxiety dissipated instantly and her joy brought tears again to her lids. 'We're getting hitched!' he sang, kissing her wildly, ravenously. 'I'll make you a fine husband, you'll see. I pledge it,' he swore his allegiance, wiping her moved tears from her puckered cheeks with the utmost tenderness.

'I never doubted you would...' Bones beamed, sat up on his thickening groin, and took his ring hand. She looked at the ring from all directions admiringly. He watched as her smile light up the canvas and him like a sunrise at midnight. She kissed the ring softly, then reaching between her legs, she slipped him into her welcoming tight depths. A ballade of their overawed sighs again broke free from the tent's confines and serenaded this, their auspicious night.

Stepping Off The Last Rung.

Bones sat still and quiet curled up on one of the canvas chairs outside the tent, watching the sky brighten to her left as the nearest star to planet Earth began to rise. The dawn chorus greeted the apricot disc tunefully and heralded its return from the other side of the world. She pulled the ivory towelling robe around her a little tighter; to ward off the slight chill as the breeze picked up, and ruffled her tousled hair. Her smile was set in basalt on her lips, and her body still sizzled to the lingering echoes of the love they'd made for most of the night. Free of any restraint, they'd filled each other over and over with their boundless love; in every which way their bodies and stamina authorized. Erotic flashbacks of them making love regularly leaked across her vision like heavenly apparitions mixing with the panorama. The lyrics of her song for him accompanied the dawn and images in her mind like a meditative chant.

Booth was still sleeping off the dopamine effects, snuggled down in the bed they'd begun to build their lives around, and she could hear his deep regular breathing. That made her smile a little wider too.

Reaching for her elegant crystal flute, she took two dainty sips, and held the golden liquid close to her chest as the view was revealed to her slowly. Shades of grey and black turned to greens and yellows while shadows retreated to give definition to the rolling hills and sweeping forest below. She sighed, utterly content in mind, body and spirit, and felt her heart slow its beat and her lungs expand to the fresh pine scented air. Emotionally and physically she felt at peace with herself, her decisions and her life as it began afresh with the new dawn. All of which gave her a magnificent sense of belonging and tranquillity. She felt vast, beautiful, high and safe, and most definitely not alone.

Not giving another thought to Broadsky or what might lay ahead for them professionally, she sighed again, wallowing self-indulgently in her rampant euphoria. They'd been born in a spring haze and now looked towards endless warm summers together; if a cold season approached she didn't fear for them. Bones understood now that with Seeley by her side; they could face anything and were strengthened by one another. She realised too, she'd changed her expected fate, and altered her destiny with honesty, expressing love and forgiveness openly. Taking her chances had given her options and paths to tread she never thought would open to her. He would call this transformation a leap of faith, she mused, and smiled. She, on other hand, chose to call it an evolution.

Emotional evolution, she pondered, was a miraculous thing and rejoiced in her final embracing of it. Charles Darwin and Franz Boas would be giving her a standing ovation now, she thought merrily. It was clear the empirical scientist had truly embraced her anthropological principles and understood her true purpose and nature.

Taking another sip of celebratory delicious wine, she heard from inside the tent a massive, resounding, unmistakeable release of flatulence from her fiancé. Bones started to chuckle at the irony of the situation, spitting out her champagne before choking on it. There she was enjoying the majesty of the gorgeous sunrise and view, and pondering her many personal joys as well as their exciting future together, and what does he do? he farts.

She heard a disgusted grumble from him, then a, 'Jesus, that's bad,' mumbled to himself, then he added a little louder, 'Sorry!' to her. Bones, by this time, was nearly wetting herself with her hilarity, and having serious second thoughts about marrying him. She rolled around on the creaking canvas chair, laughing till her sides ached.

Booth whipped aside the tent flap, and yelled suddenly to the rainbow painted dawn, 'I'm! Getting! Married!' He shouted his jubilation so loud and unexpectedly her heart almost stopped, and she leapt in her seat with shock. So much so, the rest of the champagne spilt out of the flute and over her, but it didn't stop her laughter. The birds shut up instantly, then flew off to a less noisy part of the forest to sing uninterrupted. She watched adoringly as he ran out to the very edge of the plateau ahead of her. He wailed again to the sky, butt naked and sinew taut, 'I'm getting married to my BONES, WORLD!' with his arms outstretched as if embracing the brave new world. Just as fast again, he ran over the rough ground to her, and kissed her lips hard with a feral grunt. Then on again he charged to his axe, left in the felled trunks.

'What are...' she began, then stopped when he began striding to their tree, and was poised to cut their initials in the bark. But he dropped his axe limp in his hand, and the tension in his muscles sapped away. Bones grinned shyly, looking over her shoulder at him as he turned to stare at her, with moved tears in his eyes. 'You're too late,' she said. 'I've already done it, sleepy head... That birch better not die from an infestation,' she warned sweetly, wagging a finger at him.

'I love you, I do, I love you but will you stop stealing my moves?' He dropped the axe, and walked back to her, adding, 'I'm the romantic in this partnership. You've left me nothing to be romantic about.' He knelt beside her, running his palms up her legs under her robe to her warm thighs.

'Arh. Well,' she said, caressing his bed hair, staring into his exhilarated expression. 'You'll just have to work this underused cerebral cortex and think up other romantic gestures and deeds now, won't you? I have every confidence in your abilities to surprise and woo me.'

'Woo? That's the sound owls make.'

'No, no,' she corrected seriously. 'They sound like, terwit-taawoOO,' she cooed pleasantly, imitating an owl's call adorably. 'To woo means...'

Booth interrupted, slipping his hands even higher, 'I'm joking.' He grinned charmingly, adoring the look of her messy wild hair, fresh glowing face and how right she felt in his tight embrace.

'I know, I was just annoying you,' she informed him affectionately. 'I know how much you enjoy having a repartee with me. So I indulge you when I can.' Her hands caressed his hair and face, while her eyes sparkled with the newborn sunlight in them. Booth sighed contentedly, if not a tad thoughtfully, and rested his chin on her chest as she cuddled him to her.

'Last night, while I watched you sleeping, I started to think about things,' he began again, softer and a little hesitantly. Bones smiled, and nodded for him to continue, whilst playing with his hair. 'Do you remember me punching that guy a few weeks ago, and you said he deserved it?'

'Yes, Samantha's kidnapper. You struck him when he hit his wife during the interrogation. He did deserve it.' Booth nodded, but quirked his lips.

'Yeah he did, but it was out of line of me. I lost it, Bones and I don't want to do that again. I could've gotten into real trouble... Lost my job even, what would Parker think of me then?' Booth took a deep breath, going on with his confession, 'I've been carrying around all this anger for so long now, I sick of it... So I went to Sweets to talk to him on Friday morning.' Bones tilted her head, and her brow wrinkled, confused to where this was leading. Booth sighed, and shuffled a little closer. 'He's been at me for ages to confront the issues I have with my dad and the sniper stuff too. I've not been ready to deal with any of that, until now. He's right, I have issues, and in that interview it was clear I have to work through this stuff or that anger might resurface again and I might not get so lucky.'

'You're going to have counselling?' she asked, slightly surprised.

'Yeah, in a way, sorta.' Booth clarified, 'Sweets suggested I try and speak to my dad first, then him after.Maybe I'll get some answers, tell him how I feel about what he did. You know the kinda thing,' he told her shyly.

Bones nodded, saying, 'I see. Sounds reasonable. Do you know where your dad is?'

'No, but as Sweets said, it shouldn't be hard for me to track him down. I'm gonna do it,' he said with determination. 'Take a little time off work, find him and try and talk to him. Ask him why he did what he did, confront him tell him what it did to me, how it makes me feel. That kind of thing. Then maybe I can come to terms with it, and get the monkey off my back. I know I might not get the answers I'm looking for. He may not even want to see me, but I have to try.' Bones grinned with admiration, and pecked his lips tenderly. Booth went on passionately, explaining, 'I wanna be the best father I can be for Parker, a great husband to you and respect myself again as a man and FBI agent. Does any of this make sense to you?'

'Complete sense. However I have to say, I think you're already a pretty perfect father to Parker.' As she spoke Booth inflated gradually, moved to know she felt that way. Hearing it was the affirmation he needed. She was generous again, and said lovingly, 'I know you'll make me a wonderful husband and you've always had my deepest respect, Booth.' She kissed his lips again, caressing his shoulders dutifully. 'But if you feel you need to do this, then I'm right beside you... till death do us part.' Booth's smile seeped across his stubbly jaw, mirroring her tranquil one. 'I'm assuming you want to resolve all this before we get married...' Booth sighed, and nodded imperceptibly, scared for her reaction at his stalling them, yet was astounded she understood what his intention was. Bones relaxed him further by, 'A long engagement is perfectly acceptable to me, Booth. It will give us the opportunity to adjust to our new dynamic as partners and lovers.' On the word lovers, Booth nuzzled into her throat, peppering her with grateful kisses. His humming affection tipped her head back, and batted her eyes closed, as she drew in an aroused breath.

'God, Bones, I love you. Let's go back to bed,' he whispered against her throat. 'I know we're exhausted but we can make slow, lazy love.' Then without missing a beat he added curiously, 'Where did you get the robe from?'

Opening her eyes, and chuckling, she explained,'Haa. Forward planning. I've got one for you too. As for making love again, we can't.'

Snagging his head back, looking appalled by her refusal, he asked, 'Why not?'

'Because...' Bones pointed over her shoulder blindly, grinning. Booth peered over her shoulder to see Ange and a fully encumbered Jack, bringing up the rear and staggering towards them. 'We have guests.' Booth stood up immediately, and beamed at them as they approached, panting over the crest of the hill.

'We're getting married!' Booth yelled at them excitedly, nearly jumping off the ground. Bones laughed again at his boy-ish excitement, charmed by it.

'We know!' they shouted back in unison.

'Cover the spitting cobra, Dude!' Jack warned, trying not to look.

Ange squealed, 'My eyes, my eyes!' sounding aghast, then smirked, saying sultrily. 'Ooo. My eyes, my luck-ey eyes.' She waggled her brows at Bones, clearly impressed, who was still chuckling, and getting up to greet them and assist. Jack shot Ange a slightly peeved look for her naughty comment, which she flapped away dismissively with her hand.

Not having a fig leaf handy, Booth snapped his palm over his dainty bits, and stuck out his hand to show them his ring like a blushing bride to be. 'Isn't it gorgeous?' he asked ebulliently. The couples exchanged warm hugs, and were given their heartfelt congratulations.

Bones went back into the tent after, and retrieved his robe from the carved drawer under the bed, and came out again. Jack was setting up the breakfast they'd picked up on route from the Diner down the road, as per Bones' instructions. 'This is awesome, awesome, guys. Thanks so much for being with us and sharing our great news.'

'Wouldn't have missed it. We're delighted you said yes,' Jack said. 'Or this would have been a huge anti-climax and a little awkward.'

'I'd never say no to Bones. And there were lots of great climaxes,' he said suggestively, flaring his eyes at Bones. She nudged him, tutting as their friends laughed at his naughty innuendo. Booth moved on with, 'I'm starving,' as he tied up his robe with I'm hers embroidered on the back, then pulled Bones on to his lap in a canvas chair. She curled up on his lap that's when Booth saw the, I'm his on her robe, and pecked her cheek, squeezing her tight.

The pancakes and French toast were dished out by Jack and Ange and they poured more champagne and orange juice for bucks fizz's.

'You had a huge meal last night plus most of my chocolate soufflé, how can you be starving?' Bones chastised, feeding him a mouthful of dripping maple syrup covered pancake anyway.

'Oh. That's good.' He dribbled, munching his mouthful. Bones sucked the drip off his chin like a kiss given. He squeezed a thank you to her for cleaning him up so tenderly. 'I got given some vouchers from Langhams last night, maybe we should go back soon.'

'Oh. How was it? We've been thinking about trying them out,' Ange asked, tucking into her sweet French toast. Booth looked to Bones on his lap with a cute pout. She smiled wider, knowing that he was gently asking her to retrieve the vouchers for their guests as a thank you. She got off his lap, and went in the tent.

Ange, Jack and Booth talked and laughed casually until Bones came out reading a letter. Her smile had vanished as had her sprightly pace they noted. They watched as she neared, still reading it, then she looked into Booth's concerned face.

'Where's the vouchers?' he enquired softly.

'This wasn't vouchers. It's a letter to you and... me.' She sat back on his lap, and held it for him to read, as she re-read it.

Booth read aloud, 'Dear Seeley and Temperance. I'm delighted all turned out well in the end and you're both safe again. I'm sure you can understand why I had to pull the trigger.' Everybody exchanged solemn glances with each other.Booth read on, 'Jacob, our fallen brother in arms, and teacher had gone too far. He was rogue, ill and I couldn't let him spoil what he'd begun. He blamed you for Paula's suicide and I tried to rein him in, reason with him for the innocent's sake, and yours. But he was too far gone to hear me. Now I shall take up the mantle of his visionary mission and succeed where the master failed.' The partners looked sombrely at one another, knowing what that meant. Booth carried on aloud, 'Have no fear, neither of you are in my sights, this I pledge. Nor will any other innocent be harmed when I pull the trigger, but pull the trigger I must. It's what we're designed to do, isn't it Seeley?' Hearing those words, Bones caressed the back of his neck to comfort him, knowing that was a deliberate cruel reminder to Booth of his previous deeds, which had scraped his soul empty once. Booth's voice softened further, obviously still haunted, 'Till our paths inevitably cross again, keep well and safe. Bill Preston...'

A few minutes of silence swirled between them, till, 'Isn't he the sniper you got in to question when the Gravedigger got hit? The young buck who'd been on assignment?' Jack asked. Booth looked up from the page, and nodded.

'Yes. I've served with Bill many times. Jacob was like a father to him, took him under his wing. Bill idolised him actually, a little too much. I'd suspected it was Bill who took out Jacob, this only confirmed my suspicions.' Booth looked back to Bill words reflectively. 'What worries me is this isn't over, he's going to carry on, the arrogant, twisted...' he trailed off as Bones tuned his face towards her gently.

'We'll find him, Booth, we always get our man,' Bones said reassuringly, taking the letter from him, and tucking it in her pocket out of sight. She reached for his glass, and handed it to him. Then taking her own, they clinked glasses as he beamed at her.

'Yeeeah,' he drooled, knowing today was not the day to dwell on what might lay ahead for them professionally. 'We do, we're the best,' he said, pecking her sweetened lips. Bones agreed with a hearty nod.

'The greatest crime fighting team, ever...' Bones echoed his sentiment just as proudly. They sipped their wine just as the canvas chair seat ripped, and collapsed under them with crack of overstressed wood. They yelped in unison, thumping down to the ground while their bucks fizz's baptised their shocked faces. They rolled around, legs asunder on the ground in an undignified heap of flailing limbs. Then they began to laugh.

'My eyes, my eyes!' Ange wailed again.

Jack reached into his jacket's inner pocket as his cell began to ring. Laughing at the engaged couple who were rolling around on the floor trying to disentangle themselves, he answered it, 'Yeah-ello!'

The blood and laughter drained away from his face as Cam said in his ear, clearly distressed, 'Clark's dead, Jack, he's been shot, executed - with a copper bullet...'

Authors Notes: Reviews always welcomed and a huge thanks to all those generous readers who have commented my other stories this year. Have a lovely summer folks. XX