A/N: My intent to post the final chapter of LP next week may be delayed a few days. Not sure I'll have internet where I'll be on Thursday. Thanks much to those who took the time to review the last chapter. And thanks to Eternal Destiny 304. You keep me writing.
The piece below is definitely completely OOC. Based on what Hart has done to the characters though, perhaps I can be forgiven for dreaming. Brennan is the take charge type, especially when she's made up her mind …
Floored wasn't a good way to describe how Angela felt at the minute. She did colors better than words and decided that purple was how she was feeling. Fuschia, maybe, or chartreuse, but some kind of dark, astonished pigment, at any rate.
Across the couch, Brennan waited patiently for her to respond, probably not aware of how thoroughly she'd shocked the artist.
Angela shook her head and leaned forward, her hands wrapping tightly around her mug of coffee in a bid to get some kind of traction in a very slippery situation. "Bren. Bren. Oh, Bren. This is so not a good idea, sweetie."
"Why not?" Brennan asked. Clearly, she'd thought the whole thing through and it made sense to her, so it should therefore also make sense to everybody.
Angela fumbled for some way to clearly communicate why this was a disaster waiting to happen. "Bren, you of all people know how old-fashioned Booth is. He's a stickler for tradition. He'll want to do this his way." She cringed at the visual that popped into her head of the FBI agent's shocked face if the evening went as Brennan was planning it.
"But he hasn't," Brennan pointed out reasonably, taking a bite of her sandwich. "Given that he has refused to take the initiative, I have begun to wonder whether perhaps he is testing me."
"Testing you?" Angela repeated, trying and failing to see where Brennan had drawn that conclusion.
"Testing my commitment to our relationship," the scientist clarified.
Sometimes her genius best friend took such strange leaps of logic that it was hard to know where the edge of the precipice was.
"No. No, Bren. Booth wouldn't give you that kind of test. That's just … twisted."
Brennan looked wholly unconvinced.
Angela sighed. "He's gun-shy, Brennan. You can't blame him. Give him a little more time."
"Booth is not shy around guns." Brennan put her cup down, looking ominously ready to leave her office. "Today is our anniversary. He appreciates symbolism, so this would seem an apt occasion. And I am tired of waiting."
Angela watched the scene play over and over in her head and felt queasy for reasons unrelated to her third pregnancy. To say Booth would be taken aback was the understatement of the century. Sure, it was something Angela knew he'd always wanted, but for it to come out of left field this way—and from Brennan—oh, God.
"Sweetie," she pleaded, watching Brennan get up and begin to pull her coat on. "Think about this for another week, at least." That would give Angela time to come up with some emergency stopgap to keep her friend from proceeding with her plan.
"I've thought about it a great deal already." Brennan smoothed the coat into place and grabbed her purse. "I'm going to do this, Angela."
Booth stuck his head in the door and grinned at his girlfriend. "Ready?"
Brennan glanced at Angela, then back to Booth again and smiled. "Yes."
Angela watched the two of them leave, then sat there, stunned, for the next 10 minutes or so before she finally called Hodgins to see if he could come up with a plan B for picking up the pieces.
The evening was crisp, fragrant with notes of wet grass from the rain earlier in the day. Booth and Brennan walked slowly across the mall, talking about everything and nothing. He ran his thumb over the back of her hand and squeezed her fingers lightly before pausing in the dim glow of a street light to smile down at Brennan.
She returned the smile, reaching up to pull him in for a long kiss. He took advantage of their embrace to wrap his coat around her, to block out the wind that kept tugging at her skirt.
"You look so hot tonight," he whispered, trailing his lips along the column of her neck and lingering at a spot that made her breath catch ever so slightly. "All those other guys at the restaurant are gonna be in the doghouse tonight for staring."
Brennan retaliated by grazing the underside of his jaw with her teeth. "I always look hot. I doubt any woman would relegate her boyfriend or spouse to the dog's house just because he was appreciative of a beautiful woman."
He chuckled at her lack of modesty and threaded his fingers through her hair, reveling in the softness. "Maybe not the dog's house, but the couch, at least."
"Were you jealous of their interest in me?"
Booth chose the safe answer, knowing how she felt about being 'owned,' but also aware that most women enjoyed a little possessiveness from their partners, work or otherwise.
She smiled, seeing through him. "You were jealous."
"If the guy at the table on the left had looked at your legs one more time, I would have decked him," Booth groused, losing himself in her gaze.
He was the luckiest guy on the planet, to be standing here with this woman, in this moment, in this place. Several years back, he'd lost sight of how lucky he was to have her in his life and, since fixing his mistake, he'd promised himself he would never take her for granted again. He smoothed her hair back from her face as the wind whipped it every which way. "I love you, Bones."
Even after two years of dating she still wasn't comfortable with the words, but her unusually soft kiss told Booth plenty.
"Being with you … I am happy in a different way than I've ever been." She rested her head on his shoulder.
He rested his chin on her head and held her close, just taking the moment in. By nature, he was an impatient guy. But he would stand here all night if it made her say things like that again.
"What is the equivalent of the dog's house for women?" she asked randomly, tracing circles on his chest.
"I don't know," he shrugged. "The cat house? Why?"
"Many women at the restaurant were eyeing you undressing."
"Huh?" It took him a second to realize what she'd meant. "Undressing me with their eyes, Bones." He rolled his own eyes at her hopeless attempts at idioms. "Many women at the restaurant were undressing me with their eyes."
"They were," she replied, as if he'd been agreeing with her instead of correcting her mistake. "Your new suit displays your musculoskeletal structure very appealingly."
"Were you jealous?" he teased.
"I get to go home with you," she said simply. "Why would I be?"
Not quite the answer he wanted, but not a bad one, at the end of the day.
"I have something for you," Booth said in her ear. "Then maybe we can go home so I can eye you undressing."
Brennan laughed into his chest, her laughter vibrating through him. "I also have a present for you."
Booth grinned in anticipation. She was surprisingly good at picking gifts for him. "Yeah? I'll go first, okay?"
She lifted her head and smiled. "Okay."
He suddenly felt a little shy. At the time, his idea had seemed over-the-top romantic. Now he wondered if it wasn't just dorky and a little cliché.
"It's over here." Booth maneuvered so she was still under his coat, his arm wrapped around her waist.
"It's outside? Won't the rain have ruined it?"
"Nah. This is pretty permanent." He guided her in the direction of their bench. Other people used it, but it was theirs, no question, and had been for the last decade. Theirs for coffee, theirs for hot chocolate or spiked eggnog every now and then, theirs for arguing and making up and just sitting and watching the world go by, side by side.
As they neared the bench, Booth frowned. Of course, when he came up with his idea, he hadn't been bargaining on rain. D.C. was going through a drought, but leave it to the fates to literally rain on his parade on the one day he needed dry concrete.
He hesitated. "We should wait for another day, Bones. You'll get wet."
"Why?" Brennan raised an eyebrow curiously.
"You have to bend down to see it … or not bend down … lie down." He scowled, irritated suddenly. This had been a really stupid idea. Whatever she'd gotten him, it would be a lot classier. "Never mind. You go first."
"No." Brennan shook her head. "I don't mind getting wet. I'm intrigued."
"But …" he motioned at her skirt. "Your clothes."
"They can be dry cleaned. Show me," she said firmly, stepping out from under the shelter of his overcoat.
Booth sighed. "Okay."
He turned his back and lay down awkwardly on the pavement in front of the bench and motioned for her to do the same, uncomfortably aware of what a great view any unexpected passerby would get of her incredible legs. Brennan copied him trustingly, as if he wasn't completely insane to be asking her to lie down on dirty, damp concrete at 2:00 a.m.
Booth scooted backwards, wriggling under the bench until it was eye-level above him. She followed, squirming into the space beside him. He removed an LED light from his pocket and shone it on the slats.
"It was a stupid idea. Just … it's our bench," he said lamely.
She was silent for an endless moment. "This could be considered vandalism," she finally said.
"Yeah. Okay." Booth flinched. "I'm a law enforcement guy, I shouldn't have … but nobody can see it under here," he said defensively, starting to scoot back out again.
Brennan grabbed his arm and stopped him. "Wait. Show me again."
He shone the small light on the miniature carving.
"How did you do this without being caught?" Brennan asked, tracing the B&B.
"Dumb luck, I guess. 3:00 a.m, nobody around. I could always have said I was looking for DNA or something," he said uncomfortably. "It was a bad idea. Sorry. Your turn."
"No." She turned her head and looked at him. "This was very unique, Booth. I like it."
He blinked. "Yeah?"
Brennan looked back at their initials, then at him again and smiled. "Yes."
Booth coughed, hiding his delight. It had been a really stupid idea. Breaking the law was never a good idea.
"It's our bench," she said, staring up at the slat.
The concrete was cold, but he felt nothing but warmth as she traced the letters over and over again and grinned like a sunbeam before pulling out her phone to take a picture.
Finally, they slid back out and stood up, all kinds of muck clinging to their clothing. Booth scowled at the damage to his new tux, but Brennan didn't seem concerned.
She shoved the hair back from her face. "Now it's my turn."
Before Booth knew what was happening, Brennan was back on the pavement again, this time down on one knee.
"Whoa, Bones. What—" He trailed off, his eyes widening.
Somewhere on her form-fitting skirt there was a pocket. There had to have been, because no way had Brennan been carrying around a ring in her hand the whole evening.
"I've changed my mind about marriage," she said quietly, looking him straight in the eye. "I was waiting for you to ask, but it seems you're shy of guns. Seeley Booth, will you marry me?"
Booth stared. More accurately, he gaped at his partner kneeling before him, holding out a simple gold band.
"Bones. Bones. Bones," he sputtered, feeling like he was suddenly in an alternate universe.
"This is the traditional way of doing things," she informed him. "I did considerable research."
"Traditional is me asking you!" Booth exclaimed, taking a step back. "Bones, what—why—"
"The traditional answer is 'I love you.'" Brennan smiled. "Fortunately, I do."
He couldn't get a word out. Nothing in his brain had prepared him for seeing this sight or hearing these words from any one, much less Temperance Brennan. When he'd gawked at her for long enough, Brennan apparently decided he needed a way out.
"If you choose to reject my proposal, I will not be angry," she said seriously. "I understand if you are shy of guns given your experiences."
"Guns?" he echoed stupidly. "Bones, I'm not rejecting you. I—you're—get up."
"Then you're accepting me?"
"If you're not rejecting me, you're accepting my proposal," Brennan said practically, not budging from her spot on the concrete.
"No. That's not what—" He couldn't stand there and stare at her on bended knee any longer, so he got down on his own knee in front of her. "Bones." He shook his head. "Bones, you didn't need to do this."
"I wanted to," she corrected. "But if you would prefer things remain as they are, I can accept that. While the concept of marriage no longer disturbs me as it used to, I am open to—"
"You didn't need to do this," Booth repeated, reaching into his coat pocket and extracting the small box. "Because I was going to propose to you this evening."
Brennan's surprised eyes mirrored his own as he opened the ring box and held it out to her. He'd had it all planned out, down to where it was going to happen in their apartment and the words he was going to say, but none of that seemed important anymore.
"Bones." He cleared his throat and reached for her hand, the one not holding a man's wedding band.
"I waited … I don't know why I waited."
"You were afraid," Brennan interjected. "That is why I decided to propose, thus removing the prospect of a third rejection."
Booth swallowed the knot in his throat, overwhelmed by how much he loved his bold, strange, sexy squint.
"Bones. Temperance." He looked at her and smiled just a little bit, terrified in spite of the ring she was still holding out to him. "Marry me?"
He'd never forget her smile at that moment—the hints of amusement and amazement and total certainty.
She nodded. "Yes."
Processing that answer would take him another full decade. He was an action man, she was the brains. Booth gave up on thinking and simply acted instead. His hands shaking, he slid the simple sapphire onto her finger. "It's not very big," he said apologetically. "I didn't think you wanted something snagging on your work gloves. If you want something bigger—"
"I don't." Brennan caught his free hand. "You haven't answered my own proposal yet. Did I make a mistake in how I delivered it?"
He kissed her before answering. "You did fine."
She held up the gold band again. "Then are you going to answer my question?"
He swallowed a laugh. There was a time and place for tradition and this obviously wasn't it. He and Brennan would do better creating their own traditions, it seemed.
"Yes." He grinned as she continued to wait. "That was my answer, Bones. Yes."
Brennan smiled in satisfaction and slid her ring onto his finger. He wiggled his fingers experimentally while she watched happily. It was all slightly surreal, except for his knee which was really starting to ache. Booth got stiffly to his feet, helping Brennan up along with him.
"You wanna go home now?"
"Yes," she replied, sliding into her spot under his shoulder. "To our apartment."
He squeezed her waist and led her back the way they'd come.
"Angela was wrong. She said you were shy of guns."
"Get it right, Bones: Gun and shy don't go together in the same sentence for Seeley Booth."
"What about eyes and undressing?"
They raced each other to the SUV, laughing.