This is sunsetdreamer fic of the semi-plausible, thinly veiled fluff variety. You know how I get.

Anyone who has seen me on Twitter knows that while I was at first very opposed to the idea, I am now a tweeting machine and I frequently find myself in the middle of all kinds of mischief and ridiculousness over there. This is the product of a few of the free-for-alls between eitoph, RositaLG, biba79 and myself. In simple terms, RositaLG, biba79 and I are each to write a piece tackling the issue of Brennan's pregnancy in regards to the world outside the team (I think? Haha, my interpretation of the prompt may be slightly off), and then eitoph is going to judge them and dole out fun awards in creative categories of her choosing. Soo, hopefully you enjoy the fic, and if petty bickering is at all your thing, feel free to swing by twitter afterwards to see all the fireworks that will probably go off in the wake of eitoph's decisions :) We're not always nice to each other, but I promise we're usually pretty nice to everyone else.

Cope to Make a Change

And I cannot guess what we'll discover
When we turn the dirt with our palms cupped like shovels
But I know our filthy hands can wash one another's
And not one speck will remain

Soul Meets Body, Death Cab For Cutie

Telling the team is the easy part. There's awkwardness of the we-didn't-even-know-you-were-together-and-now-you're-having-a-baby variety, but Booth and Brennan have never been traditional and something about this makes sense in a very abstract sort of way.

Angela and Hodgins make for another untraditional couple and after Hodgins recovers from the shock, he offers Booth an enthusiastic high five. Angela, being slightly more in the know about the whole situation than her husband, jumps straight to the part where she does her best to hug the life out of her best friend.

It's new, this thing between them. Everything is new and for the first few weeks they're tentative and a little clumsy, but they're happy. Once the initial shock fades away there are a lot of bad jokes and nervous laughter and deflecting – because they know how fragile they can be – but it's worth it. And in this, where it counts the most, they are on the same page.

It's exciting. But it's scary as well for these two people who have been living apart for so long. So they're a little afraid of allowing the other to leave their sight, and neither of them really sleeps, and they try to stay vigilant. They try to see all the signals. They try to keep from repeating mistakes and instead they manage to make new ones, but they try. And because he's a gambler and she's a scientist, they know all about increased odds. As long as they keep trying, they're bound to get somewhere. Eventually. They've already made a baby, and while that had arguably been the easy part, they both feel (kind of) confident that they'll (maybe) make it.

There are the facts (and it's interesting to note that Booth takes comfort in the facts as well. Their domains become less defined as they evolve); they want to be together. Their working relationship remains the same (for now). And they both appreciate that something continues to be familiar and comfortable amidst all the unknowns.

It is and it isn't a secret. The team and her father and his grandfather and their siblings and Parker and his superiors at the FBI... there are so many people in the know that it seems rather silly that Brennan continues to put off discussing the recent change with any of her many academic and literary associates. Booth occasionally forgets that she has nearly an entire life separate from the Jeffersonian – separate from him – but she's thirteen weeks into her pregnancy when she flies out to deliver a series of lectures in Denver that she had scheduled months ago, and as she's packing, it occurs to him that up until now, he has very rarely had any idea of what her schedule outside the Jeffersonian entails until she mentions the trip a week or two before leaving.

"Do you have a lot of these coming up?"

Brennan stops mid-fold and gazes at him suspiciously. "Why?"

"No reason," he says quickly. The last thing he wants is for her to think he's getting psychotically protective when he's really just curious. "Just asking."

She resumes folding her skirt and then places it neatly in her suitcase, but when she looks at him she's still studying him carefully for any sign that there's more to his question than he claims.

"Four," she answers slowly. "Seven, actually. However, the last three will have to be postponed indefinitely."

He doesn't ask why. He knows why. She absently smoothes her shirt over her relatively flat abdomen and reaches for another pair of dress pants, and Booth ignores the gut instinct telling him that this conversation will not end well.

"How'd they take it?"

"Take what?" she pauses again and frowns in confusion.

"You cancelling on them because of the baby."

"Oh." Brennan breaks eye contact suddenly, and coincidentally she's now very, very concentrated on the clothes spread out on the bed in front of her. "I haven't told them yet."

Let it go, that little voice in his head whispers. Let it go let it go let it go. But that's not in his nature any more than it is in hers, and he keeps talking.

"You're usually the Queen of Advanced Notice," he jokes. "I'm a little surprised you didn't tell them before you told me."

She still doesn't meet his eye. "I'm very professional, Booth. I will formally advise them of my withdrawal well within the appropriate timeframe."

Again, it's evident that they're in a rather tentative place. They don't want to offend one another so they're afraid to push, and that's never really been a concern before.

"You haven't told any of them, have you?" his tone is still curious rather than accusatory, but Brennan flinches just the same.

"It's none of their business," she mutters into the suitcase.

There's a lull in the conversation; the kind of lull that opens the gateway to misinterpretation and leaves them with far too much room to over-think and overanalyse, and someone is almost guaranteed to get hurt. Today, it's Booth.


Brennan sneaks a peek at him out of the corner of her eye and then places a pair of shoes at the top of the pile, all the while doing her best to pretend she hasn't noticed the way her words have wounded. He thinks that she's ashamed. Of their situation. Of him. It's not his words, but his tone; she's come to know it better than anyone's. She understands this and she's frustrated because he always claims he's forever trying to catch up to her when in reality, she is always racing to catch up to him. They've gone from partners to lovers to parents-to-be in the blink of an eye (she's not one for hyperbole but in this instance it is much too fast for her to find words that adequately express the suddenness of it all), and he has barely batted his lashes while she often feels as if she's floundering clumsily.

But she doesn't explain any of this. Instead she continues to pretend she's oblivious to the oppressive air settling in and she gazes critically at the blouse in her hand before tossing it back on the bed.

"I like that shirt," Booth says softly. "It matches your eyes."

My breasts have grown too large for it to be appropriate."

She isn't trying to be funny, but he chuckles and the discomfort dissipates.

They're not completely in sync but they both want the same things, and since she's getting on a plane in nine hours, this is more than enough.

Brennan is gone for a week and a half, and the days alone give them both far too much time to think about all the little things between them that remain not-quite-sorted. Far too much time to wonder if they are really as crazy as they appear to be for skipping so much. The nightly phone calls become a little more awkward. There's less texting throughout the day.

But then Sunday comes; he's full of agitation and waiting for her outside baggage claim, she's exhausted and can't think of anything besides taking a shower, and they find each other at roughly the same time. Nearly two weeks' worth of anxiety is forgotten because they remember that they can handle pretty much anything. They are strong apart and stronger together.

Their faces clear of tension and when Booth reaches her she lets go of her suitcase and folds her arms over his broad shoulders while his arms go tightly around her waist. And they both just smile and take in the familiar smell of the other, because you never quite miss someone as much as you do in the moment you get them back.

"Hi," he breathes.

"Hi," she laughs into his shoulder. "Hi."

She's wearing a long peasant skirt and it's not an article of clothing Booth recognises. He fingers the light material between calloused fingers when she pulls away.

"Did some shopping when you weren't awing the crap out of young grad students, huh Bones?"

"I had to," Brennan smiles ruefully. "None of the pants I brought with me fit comfortably anymore. It's my fault; they were tight when I left. I should have known."

Booth grins at this and Brennan's too happy to see him to draw attention to his alpha male tendencies. When his hand glides over her lower belly and encounters the smallest bit of resistance, his eyebrows lift. And then he turns her about in an effort to catalogue any other way she's different from when he left her here over week ago.

"What are you doing?"

"Sorry, it's just... whoa," he runs his fingers over the firm bump. "That's new."

"I know," she laughs again, somewhat self consciously this time. "I still don't look pregnant, just not... like me."

"You look beautiful," he says. And he means it. He always means it. Then he grabs the handle of her suitcase with his free hand and guides them forward. "Let's get out of here, mama."

Brennan shakes her head. "I'm not going to protest the title. It will only encourage you."

"Are you hungry?"

She looks at him, shrugs casually, and gives the answer she has a hundred times before.

"I could eat."

Two days later they're in a grocery store, and as is often the case, they're fluctuating between jokes and mild-to-medium annoyance. Grocery shopping falls under the list of things not-quite-sorted for them; Brennan prefers to travel the aisles in a very specific, systematic fashion, while Booth would rather run back and forth for the items on the list and then just get the hell out of there. But they survive one another – sometimes that's all they can do – and when they join a checkout queue they both visibly relax. Another potential disaster averted.

"Do you think that someday we will find this less stressful?" Brennan asks as she places a box of cereal on the conveyor belt.

"Yeah, sure." Booth doesn't sound as confident in his words as he usually does. However, he is confident that he'll feel more optimistic once they've put some distance between them and the store.

"Perhaps it would be wise if just one of us did the shopping," she suggests. "We could take turns."

"No way, Bones. I know how that'll go; everything will be fine and good for the first few weeks and then all of a sudden there'll be no bacon. And then no Lucky Charms. And then Bam! Health food store household. No."

Brennan raises an eyebrow, nonplussed. "You're very untrusting."

"I just know you, is all."

He pulls their last few items from the cart and tosses them haphazardly on top of the rest, and then he winces when he remembers that she hates it when he does that. But Brennan isn't looking at him or the conveyor belt. Her eyes have been drawn to the magazines stacked neat and bright in the stand to Booth's left. More specifically, to the slightly grittier covers of the tabloid magazines published on a weekly basis. Inwardly, he groans. She rarely takes interest in them, but when the occasional heading catches her eye it usually means one of two things;

1) She doesn't understand it. And the things Brennan doesn't understand in public inevitably turn out to be things he certainly has no desire to explain to her in public.

2) She understands it and she's offended by an inaccuracy, and he – and everyone else in line – is going to get a lecture.

"So I'm going to need you to let Wendell off early next Thursday," Booth says conversationally, as means of distraction. "We've got a game that night."

She doesn't respond. She doesn't even hear him. Instead, Brennan reaches up to yank out a copy of the magazine and Booth cranes his neck to catch a glimpse of the headline that has so captured her attention. And then he sees it. In small print in the bottom right corner, just under the teaser promoting a new smoothie diet, is a solitary line addressing celebrity pregnancies. And of the three tiny photos below the caption, the one on the far right looks strangely like him and his partner. Brennan silently flips to the article and there it is again; larger than it had been on the cover yet smaller than the other photos. She's an author, after all, not an actress.

The photo had been taken at the airport; the handle of her wheeled suitcase would have given it away even if he hadn't immediately recognised the skirt. In it, he's reaching for the extended handle while his other hand cups her stomach, and her eyes are focused somewhere past his shoulders. Ten seconds earlier and the photographer would have captured the awe in his face and the indulgent smile on hers, but the moment of intimacy has gone unrecorded and the photo is unexceptional save for the reverent placement of his hand.

She may be a bestselling author, but the general public is far more interested in her characters than the creator behind them; aside from the scheduled interviews and the book signings that usually surround an upcoming release, she is rarely a priority in cultural media. Booth suspects her presence in the article is one of convenience more than anything else. Celebrities frequent airports, and reporters follow celebrities, and Brennan has been caught in the crossfire.

"They can't possibly discern that from this photo," Brennan speaks finally. Although her voice shakes slightly and it undermines the otherwise confident tone. "I can hardly tell. And I'm an expert. I'm an expert, Booth."

"I know you are," Booth assures immediately.

"They can't just, just print things without confirming that they're true. No one asked for my permission."

"It's a gossip magazine, Bones. They don't really ask anyone for permission. It's just not something they do."

Brennan deliberates and then grabs the rest of the magazines from the rack.

"What are you doing?" Booth asks cautiously.

"We need to buy them," she says. Her voice is strangled and panick-ridden, and he isn't quite sure whether he should be indulging her or trying to bring her back from crazytown.

"Bones, we can't possibly buy every copy."

"Yes, yes we can. You stand here and wait and I'll-

"There are a hundred million grocery stores and drug stores and magazine stands and convenience stores etcetera in D.C; buying all of these isn't going to make a dent."

"Why are you being so difficult?"

Her voice rises and she looks and sounds like she's about to cry, and then he's not the only one watching her anymore. The small group of people close enough to hear them are taking in her flushed cheeks and over bright eyes and then looking back at him like he's the worst piece of shit ever for doing this to her, and he feels the situation spiralling out of control.

"Baby, I'm not trying to be difficult. I promise. But this isn't like you; just think about what you're saying..."

The cashier pointedly avoids eye contact as she begins to scan their items and pack them into the reusable bags. Booth tries to touch Brennan's arm and she shakes him free.

"What else should I do, Booth? Leave them here where anyone can purchase them?"

Booth's eyes flit helplessly above her head, as if he expects to find the right answer somewhere in the air around them, and then he tries to reason with her yet again.

"Bones, it's okay. Nobody reads those things."

"Obviously that isn't true, or else they wouldn't be in circulation."

Her volume continues to rise alongside her panic, and Booth rests his hand on her lower back. "No one's going to care."

"But they're going to know, and..." she allows her voice to trail off, and then her gaze narrows sharply in his direction. "Why aren't you angry?"

Booth shrugs in a manner he hopes to God doesn't offend her and crams his hands in his jean pockets. "I'm confused, Bones."

"That is not an acceptable answer."

"It doesn't matter," he finally says. "It doesn't matter what it says in some trashy magazine. You weren't going to be able to hide it much longer anyway. And almost everyone we know already knows, so..."

There's a charged silence between them until the cashier clears her throat. "Sixty two seventy three is your total."

Booth glances at her incredulously, and Brennan takes the opportunity to squeeze past him and storm toward the exit.

"Bones!" he calls at her back.

She doesn't turn around.

Booth releases a breath that's half growl half frustrated sigh, and he fumbles for his wallet in a hurry. By the time he's gathered his change and the bags and sped out of the store after his girlfriend, Brennan is more than halfway across the lot.

"Would you just hold on?" he snaps as he jogs to catch up with her. "Tell me why this is bothering you so much."

"Because I didn't make the decision!" she shouts. "It's my life, Booth. My work. And the decision wasn't mine!"

"What are we talking about now," Booth shifts the weight of the bags and steps into her person space.

"The article," she stutters slightly. "We're talking about the article."

"Really? Because it seems like you're talking about more than half a paragraph in a tabloid right now. Something you want to get off your chest, Bones?"

"I don't know what that means."

"No. Don't do that. Don't even try."

"There is supposed to be division between my personal life and the work I do, Booth. There is supposed to be order."

"The Jeffersonian is work for you; you didn't have a problem telling them."

"They're our friends. It's different."

"That's pretty clear," Booth scoffs. "You keep us so far hidden from everything else because we're obviously such an embarrassment to you. Or is it just me, Bones?"

She snaps. She tells him he's smothering her and he tells her she's being unreasonable, and in the middle of a parking lot, they have their worst fight since before they had broken apart. They forget that they've been trying to be careful. They invade one another's space and they yell things that don't quite make sense until they can't even remember the exact moment this stopped being about getting to the root of a problem and became outright warfare. In short, they slip into an old routine. Because it's so, so much easier for her to fight with him than it is to feel upset in a way that doesn't make the least bit of rational sense. And it's easier for him to fight with her than it is to dwell on the fact that there's still a part of her life she wants very badly to keep entirely separate from him.

At some point they move to the SUV, although neither of them have any memory of the walk and the screaming doesn't even slow down. The bags get thrown into the back and if they had paused they would have heard the eggs crack, but they don't. He tells her to get in the car, she refuses, and eventually she calls Angela because he's stubborn and don't be ridiculous; you're not taking a cab, Bones and she's equally stubborn and you can go to hell, Booth.

When Angela shows up, Brennan yanks the door open before the artist can come to a complete stop and slams it after her as hard as she can. And she stares defiantly at her best friend and silently dares her to ask a question. Just one. But Angela has had her fair share of free for alls with Hodgins and she's also been pregnant, and she knows better than to engage. So she doesn't give Brennan any fuel for her fire and Brennan resents this because she wants to fight everyone right now.

Angela asks her if she wants company as they pull up to her building, and Brennan comes this close to bursting into tears. But she's still angry so she mutters a negative response and gets out of the car and slams the door again, and when she gets up to her apartment she phones her publicist. Because someone is sure as hell going to pay for this.

When she makes the discovery that her publicist is already aware of the situation, however, everything becomes that much worse. Her rage intensifies and still lacks any place to go. She can barely see straight and her emotions are slowly, metaphorically, drowning her.

"It could be very good for sales."

"I don't care about the sales. I don't care about the money. And you don't even know that it's true."

"Dr. Brennan, even I have to admit it looks a little incriminating. His hand is-

"He's touching me. He's always touching me. It's what he does. It doesn't mean I'm pregnant."

"If you were, no one could fault you for wanting to keep it to yourself. I just need to know-

"Well I'm not," Brennan stresses vehemently. She isn't quite yelling, but her tone is forceful and cold and there's no mistaking how very badly she wants to rip the person on the other end of line clean in two. "So you can just do your job and fix this."

She mashes the end call button and throws the phone carelessly onto the coffee table, and she's out of the room before it can even clatter to a standstill.

She impulsively kicks over a chair as she storms out and it fucking hurts, and then she's a whole new kind of pissed off because she certainly had more common sense than to go around striking things that don't feel pain before Booth. Booth, with his idiotic penchant for slamming doors and punching walls and yelling at other drivers that can't even hear him. It may have gotten her arrested a time or two but at least assaulting people produced far more satisfying results.

The apartment is spotless and Brennan hasn't been there in days, so cleaning of any kind would be redundant. Redundancy is not in her nature. So once she stops pacing the hallway in efforts to walk off the self inflicted pain in her foot, she heads into her office – and she slams that door, too – and starts up her desktop computer.

She'd really rather have her laptop, but it's in Booth's apartment and she has no intention of going there.

Brennan digs through the top drawer for the USB key containing the rough sketches for her new novel, and when she closes the drawer – slams it, to be honest – she catches her fingers. And that's when she begins to cry.

Booth watches Angela's car leave the parking lot and disappear down the road, and then he spends five minutes sitting in the driver's seat with his head thumped against the headrest in utter defeat. His heart is racing. His muscles shake with adrenaline. A part of him doesn't believe that they can take a hit like this without also taking twenty steps backward (he still hasn't quite recovered his faith). No couple could possibly be better at sabotaging themselves than they are.

But he can't dwell on these things any more than she can.

He starts the car and he drives, and he doesn't consciously think about where he's going; somehow he ends up at the Hoover though and really, it's as good a place as any. There are few people around at this time of the evening and he heads straight to the gym, because he's far too wound to sit down and commit to paperwork right now and getting drunk just doesn't hold the same appeal anymore knowing there's zero chance of Brennan showing up to get drunk with him.

Not that he wants to see her right now. He's still furious.

The punching bag takes a beating; as do his hands. And sometime after the first hour he's still angry but he's stopped shaking, and his mind drifts to Bones and what she's doing and maybe he should call her. However, there are a lot of emotions that have yet to be compartmentalised and he isn't sure he can listen to her voice right now anymore than he can look at her. Avoidance isn't exactly the high road, but they're human and sometimes, they make terrible choices.

Another hour and no matter how much he punishes his body, he can't clear his head. He can't sit still. He feels every bit as frustrated as he had when he started, only now he's pouring sweat as well. So he takes the time to shower, and the unyielding heat begins to finally, finally relax his muscles. He dresses – thank God he's got clothes stashed away just about everywhere – and then flexes his restless fingers.

He goes to the firing range next; he just wants his hands to be still and shooting is the one thing, the one thing he can get right even when she's crowding his head. He can't block her out entirely, but if there's a gun in his grip, he has a chance.

Booth empties two clips, and the shots are perfect. His tension eases a fraction further than it had in the shower, and he reloads.

Empties. Reloads. Empties. Reloads.

And then she's there. It's the scent of her body wash that he catches first. The fact that she has apparently been lingering in the entranceway longer than a second is testament to his complete distraction. She could never sneak up on him otherwise.

He lowers the gun and his palms itch at the loss of contact – the way they always do for the first few seconds. He's learned to ignore this sensation in the same way he's learned to ignore a great many things.

They stare at each other from across the room, and eye contact is something even though they can't quite begin closing the physical gap between them. Yet. He studies her and she does the same as they attempt to determine how welcome their advances will be to the other. They're both a little hurt, they're not so much angry, and they're definitely, definitely ashamed of their behaviour.

Brennan's holding a small square box, and she takes the first step; literally and figuratively.

"It's my understanding that flowers are the socially accepted tokens of apology for males in a committed, heterosexual relationship. However, the standard apology practices for females are somewhat less clear. I improvised."

When she steps into the reach of the bright lights there's evidence of tears, though her voice remains strong and clear. Her face is makeup free, scrubbed pink, and her eyes are just puffy enough for him to notice. He hates that she's been crying, and he forces a smile even though he's not quite there yet.

"Your improvisations usually work out better than the original thing, Bones. Unless you're substituting meat in recipes."

Brennan gives him a crooked smile in return and crosses the floor without further hesitation. The box gets placed on the ledge connected to the Plexiglass divider, and she hops up to sit beside it. Her knees come to rest half an inch from Booth's upper thighs, and just like that they've conquered the distance barrier. Even if they're not quite ready for touching. Yet. Her legs begin to swing gently, and she looks so young and earnest, Booth feels himself melting. Damn her.

"It's possible I overreacted," Brennan admits finally.

"You think?" He doesn't intentionally set out to be snappish, but God, can she ever state the obvious.

She looks down briefly and then meets his eye; this time her gaze is hard and focused. "You were wrong," she says, and he's ready to start fighting again so it's a good thing that she continues on before he can get a word in. "I have never thought of you as an embarrassment. I find being associated with you very pleasing, Booth. Always."

There's no room for miscommunication here. She's honest and succinct, and he's relieved because the thought had bothered him more than she would ever know. But he downplays this.

"Then what happened?"

"I experienced... something. I can't explain."

"You're gonna have to try."

The tone is gentle, but it's forceful as well, and she shifts uncomfortably. "I suppose that if I were to analyse my reaction, I would have to conclude that I'm more... bothered, by the speed of these changes than I originally believed."


Booth begins to pull away and Brennan touches his arm, effectively forcing him to look at her once again. "It seems unfair that others, who will be far less directly affected by this than I, be given the opportunity to adapt to the change before I do."

It's one thing to cautiously eye the baby blankets and sleepers that now cover every square inch of Angela's home (Angela pretends not to notice the different sort of way Brennan smiles).

It's one thing to watch Booth watch her with an open admiration and desire he has kept mostly hidden from her in the past (and she revels in it; she really does).

It's quite another thing to contemplate colleagues attempting to ask her questions regarding her pregnancy instead of her work.

If Angela's pregnancy has taught her anything, it's that the general public does not respect personal boundaries when one is carrying a child. This baby and Booth are new to her and she has no desire to share either one of them with anyone who does not absolutely need to know. She feels that they are, quite simply, hers.

Brennan tilts her face toward Booth's and this time, she explains the thought process. She doesn't feign obliviousness. And maybe it's because there's no cross country flight looming above them – no deadlines or appointments or cases or simple lack of time in general – or maybe it's because she's in the exact right mind frame to be optimally affected by his warm eyes set on her so intensely. For whichever reason, the words make it past her lips and it's easier than it has been before.

When she finishes, Booth's hand traces arbitrary patterns over the tops of her knees and her hand winds itself into the bottom of his t-shirt.

"It's fast for me too," he admits. And it's her turn to feel relieved. The thought that she is overly self involved, the thought that he would never wrestle with these changes the way that she does, has bothered her more than she would ever have him know. "I always pictured us taking a few vacations first, you know?... rolling around on a beach all naked..."

They both smile. They each have a knack for accidentally saying stupid and thoughtless things, but when they stumble into a perfect moment, it's like all the best feelings in the world rushing between them at once.

"If it's any consolation, I wouldn't have had sex with you on a beach," Brennan states, matter-of-fact.

"What? Why?"

"Have you ever had sex on a beach, Booth? It's terribly uncomfortable. The sand is gritty, it gets in your body and it chafes very badly."

"Oh." The disappointment in his voice is unmistakable. "What about in the water? We could have had sex in the water."

She gives him the incredulous expression she reserves for when he says things she sees as exceptionally dimwitted. "Do you have any idea how many bacteria lie in natural bodies of water? Ask Angela. She developed a severe infection the last time she convinced Hodgins that intercourse in a lake was a good idea. It was very uncomfortable for her."

Booth makes a face. He really could have done without knowing that particular fact about Angela.

"In a hammock?" he tries.

"The traction would be less than desirable."

"Against a tree?"

His lips turn upward in that manner she's come to recognise as an indication of teasing, and she feels the corners of her own mouth twitch. "I feel that may ultimately be more painful than it's worth."

It's Booth's turn to take the next step. He hugs her close and she buries her face in his neck, spreading her knees so that he can stand comfortably between her legs. If they can touch each other without reservation, there's a light at the end of the tunnel.

"I'm sorry," she murmurs against his skin. Sorry for making him feel bad and for flying off the handle and for not dealing with this earlier when it would have at least been on her own terms.

He kisses her hair. "I'm sorry too." Sorry for yelling at her and for getting so angry and for not listening to what she had been trying to say.

These aren't new apologies, but any small step forward is better than the half dozen back that had become Booth and Brennan's norm, and so there is comfort in the fact that the two-word phrase isn't necessary quite as frequently between them as it had been not so long ago.

Booth pulls away from her and nods toward the box. "So, what'd you bring me?"

Brennan has quite honestly forgotten that she hadn't entered the room empty handed, so she's confused for a moment before recognition flickers in her eyes. She pulls the package into her lap and draws back the lid, and Booth peers curiously inside.

"Cupcakes?" he says in surprise.

She shrugs. "I went to the bakery with the intention of buying those doughnuts you enjoy so much, but these seemed far more palatable."

"You're craving cupcakes," he gloats gleefully after a short pause. "It's your first craving."

"No," Brennan corrects sternly, "No. It's not a craving. I simply thought they might be a nice change. I don't need them."

"But you want them. You want them really bad."

"If you keep pushing this, I'm going to throw them away. And I feel confident that you will be far more devastated by that than I will."

"Alright, let's not get crazy now. Give them here."

He snatches the box out of her hands and her brow wrinkles at the impoliteness of it all, but when he turns the box back in her direction, she selects a vanilla cupcake with pale pink frosting and absently nibbles on the sugar butterfly sitting on the top.

"I submitted my symposium withdrawals," she says between tiny bites. "And I spoke with my publicist. Twice, actually. Although the second conversation was admittedly more... civilised. There's going to be an interview on Thursday."

Booth feels a twinge of guilt, and he chews slowly and swallows before responding. "You don't have to if you don't want to."

"I know that," she assures him. "But it really is rather silly to wait."

"It's not silly if it makes you uncomfortable."

Brennan shrugs. "Now that the cat is out of the bag, as you say, and the initial shock has worn off, I find the idea not quite as daunting as I did before."

The idiom falls off her tongue correctly, but in such a deliberate, concentrated fashion, Booth can't help but chuckle. "Alright. As long as you're sure."

"Will you come with me?" she asks.

He's accompanied her to interviews before; however, there has always been a – thin – excuse for his presence fabricated by one of them or the other. They're in the middle of a case and wouldn't it be better if they were in the same place when those lab results come back? They're already planning to have breakfast together and it would be more economic to take one vehicle.

Today, there is a marked difference. She doesn't need him to be there but she wants him to be there, and there is no reasoning beyond this.

They both acknowledge the distinction. She's tentatively okay with it, and his heart is warmed by the thought.

"Yeah, Bones. Of course I'll come with you."

"Good," she says. "Okay."

Booth reaches for another cupcake and then freezes. "Shit."

"What's wrong?" Brennan eyes him curiously.

"The groceries. They've been sitting in the car all this time."

Brennan thinks of the various dairy products they had purchased; yoghurt, eggs, milk, cheese, ice cream, not to mention the meat and the various frozen fruits and vegetables. It's eighty degrees outside and that much warmer inside the car, and she doesn't want to imagine what the back of the SUV must look like. Then she thinks a little more and realises that what this ultimately means, is that she and Booth are going to have to return to the store and tackle the whole shopping issue all over again. The thought must cross Booth's mind at approximately the same time, because his eyes widen for just a second before he scrunches them closed.

"Can we just go home?" he pleads pathetically, putting his palm against his forehead and pressing firmly.

"Yes," Brennan readily agrees, hopping down from the ledge. "I would like that."

"Thank God."

The list of things that are not-quite-sorted between them remains lengthy, but they've scratched one grey area off the list and they're learning to slowly adjust. It's another small step forward, but a step forward nevertheless. Exercises in patience.

And really, Booth thinks, as they leave the range and turn the lights off behind them, grocery shopping is overrated anyway.

Things to note; I wrote the majority of this fic before the promos of sunshine and happiness came out, and while I love rainbows and I'm looking forward to a few episodes that maybe won't be an emotional rollercoaster for me, I have to believe that B&B worked through a lot in the time that we aren't going to see. It's the only way I'm going to find all the rainbows plausible. So this isn't me rioting against happiness, it's just one possible moment out of a million that flitted through my hyper brain from those early months of mega adjustment we're missing. Also, remember I'm spoiler free. So if there are any dramatic revelations I'm ignoring here, it's because I actually don't know about them. Thanks for reading!