Disclaimer: The very use of the word 'disclaimer' implies that I don't own Bones. In case mere intimation isn't enough, however, I'll state it outright: I don't own Bones. *sniff* There, are you happy now? Are you happy?

In a loosely-connected follow-up to 'Practice Makes Perfect', Booth and Brennan banter over pie at the diner. Only this time, something's different…

Rationally speaking, it is far too early for her to have pregnancy cravings. But the evidence of her own body is undeniable; Brennan wants that pie.

She is aware that the pie sitting in front of Booth contains the mushy, overly-sugared fruit that she has always disdained, but her nostrils flare anyway. The pie's sweet, slightly spicy scent makes her mouth water. Apples, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg…

"That smells incredible," she says, unable to control her traitor mouth.

Booth gapes at her.

Reaching across the table, she snags the plate and scoops a bite up with her fork. Its flaky crust melts in her mouth and its fruit filling tingles the taste buds on her papillae.

"Hmmm," she sighs, nearly humming with satisfaction.

When she looks up, she is interested to note that Booth's pupils have dilated and darkened. Arousal, she mentally catalogues for future reference. He seems to shake it off, however, and, recovering from his shock, grins fit to beat the proverbial band.

"Oh yeah, that's definitely my kid in there," he says, beaming at the sight of her enthusiastic consumption of the pie slice.

Horrified and hurt, she immediately puts her latest forkful of pastry delight down.

"Of course it is your child," she says. "I would never lie about something as important as this, Booth. Besides, I can assure you that you are the first person I have had intercourse with in over two years."

"God, Bones, no, I wasn't accusing you of anything," Booth says, equally horrified at the misunderstanding. "It's a figure of speech. Because I know you, see, and you hate pie. Ipso facto colombo oreo yadda yadda, it has to be my kid that's brought about this change of heart."

"Oh. Right," Brennan says, embarrassed to discover that she has tears in her eyes. "I overreacted. I don't know why I overreacted."

"Pregnancy hormones," Booth says, putting his arm around her shoulder comfortingly. "Rebecca was that way too. One minute she'd be laughing at Tom & Jerry's antics on Cartoon Network, the next she'd be crying because she was afraid that she was a horrible mother for exposing her child to violence so early in life."

"But a fetus would have no way of viewing or understanding or remembering what happened in utero," Brennan protests in confusion. "Her reaction was highly irrational."

"Yeah, well, welcome to parenthood, Bones," Booth says ruefully.

"I will admit that I feel highly protective of our progeny before even meeting it," Brennan confesses, one hand unconsciously resting against her stomach. "Although I am aware that humans are evolutionarily designed to feel this way towards their offspring, I cannot explain my protectiveness and affection away as mere chemical processes."

Booth smiles at her fondly.

"That's 'cause it is more than chemical processes," he tells her. "It's confusing and frightening and wonderful, and you just hafta accept it for what it is." He pauses, then asks curiously, "Two years? Really?"

Stiffly, Brennan says, "Yes, well…"

"Hey, no need to be embarrassed," he reassures her. "I've gone longer than that in the past."

Brennan shrugs, uncomfortable with where this conversation is headed. Thankfully, Booth seems to pick up on her discomfort and changes the subject.

"So, are we going to go see the fireworks on the Mall tonight?" he asks.

"I believe that I would find that enjoyable," she tells him, returning to the pie in front of her.

"You're gonna love it, Bones," Booth says eagerly. "I still can't believe that you've never been."

"I've always been otherwise engaged on that date," she says with a shrug. "Last year, for example, I attended a fascinating lecture on the folk medicinal practices of the Quechua tribe of the central Andes."

"Sounds very patriotic," Booth says, rolling his eyes. "But hey, at least you're doing it right this year. Fireworks and apple pie; nothing says the Fourth of July better than those."

"Actually, fireworks are Chinese in origin. The earliest known reference places them in the Han dynasty, where they were used to frighten away evil spirits. And apple pie –"

Booth quickly cuts her off, saying, "Uh-uh, Bones, I refuse to let you spoil apple pie for me. It's American, OK? There's even a saying, 'as American as apple pie'."

"But it –"

"Nope. Can't hear you," Booth says, putting his hands over his ears.

Huffing with amused exasperation, Brennan says, "Fine. I won't enlighten you any further."

Booth signals their waitress and requests another slice of pie.

"You know, for someone who prides himself on being patriotic, you make some interesting choices," Brennan comments idly as they wait for the arrival of more pie.

"What do you mean?" Booth asks guardedly.

"On our nation's independence day, we are at the Royal Diner," Brennan says, smirking. "I find it rather amusing. Surely the Founding Fathers would have been a more appropriate locale?"

"Yeah, but they don't have the pie, Bones," Booth explains, relieved that her accusation isn't anything serious.

Brennan ponders this briefly, then says, "That is a valid point."

Now it is Booth's turn to smirk.

"Although neither fireworks nor apple pie are American in origin," Brennan says carefully, "both have been arrogated by the US, and subsumed into its national mythology."

Booth cocks his head to the side in invitation for her to elaborate.

"For example, in 1777 – a year after the signing of the Declaration of Independence and six years before the end of the war – colonists celebrated the Fourth of July with fireworks," Brennan says eagerly. "Can you imagine the audacity that must have taken?"

Booth looks at her and he's got that look in his eyes,

("He sees the truth of you and he is dazzled by that truth")

the one that she never used to be able (was afraid) to identify.

Now she recognizes it: love.

The waitress returns with Booth's slice of pie.

"Can I get you anything else?" she asks.

"Nope, I'm good," Booth says. "You, Bones?"

"No thank you," Brennan agrees.

The waitress retreats and Booth digs into his pie with gusto. As he closes his eyes in delight over his first mouthful, Brennan reaches over and steals a bite with her fork.

"Hey, that's my pie!" Booth protests, opening his eyes abruptly, "You want some, get your own."

"Angela has informed me that it is a pregnant woman's right to demand food from the father of her unborn child," Brennan tells him, trying to contain her self-satisfied grin. "And, although it is illogical, I have come to believe that food tastes better when taken from your plate."

Booth groans. "There's a big difference between picking up your latest food craving at some ungodly hour and giving you my pie."

"But I'm craving your pie," Brennan points out.

A light of amusement flashes through Booth's eyes.

"What?" she asks.

"Nothing," he responds quickly. "Here, Bones, you can have the pie."

He pushes it towards her.

Brennan is disappointed to be left out of the joke, but takes the pie nonetheless.

"I was thinking," she says in between bites, "that if you have Parker next year, we should take him to the Jeffersonian Folklife Festival. It is quite educational about other cultures and I have a feeling that Parker would enjoy it."

Booth's face seems torn between a beam and a grimace.

"Maybe," he says. "But the Fourth is about America, y'know? When Parker was younger, we'd go by the White House Visitor Center and listen to Park Rangers talk about the Declaration of Independence and stuff. Now that he's older, we usually just go to the parade and grab hotdogs and slushies from street vendors."

"And see the fireworks at night," Brennan adds.

"And see the fireworks at night," Booth agrees.

Their eyes lock and Brennan almost forgets to breathe.

"Here," she says abruptly, pushing the plate back to Booth.

"You're giving me my pie back?" Booth asks, confused.

"I'm sharing it with you," Brennan corrects. "It wouldn't be fair for me to eat all of it."

"Aww, thanks, Bones," Booth says, smiling.

His face is blissful as he voraciously digs into the remaining half of the slice, and Brennan is suddenly re-overwhelmed with love for the man in front of her, for the family that they are creating together. The wave of affection is so strong that she feels that old fear of attachment creep back up on her, but she breathes through it. Booth is worth it. They are worth it.

On this day, she thinks firmly to herself, I claim my independence from my fears of being dependent on another human being; I free myself from my fears of another human being being dependent on me.

She knows that it won't be that simple, of course. The mindset and coping mechanisms of a lifetime won't just go away with these words, with this decision. She will still have doubts and anxieties, will still panic and compartmentalize. But with this mental declaration of independence, she promises herself that she will do her best not to let her insecurities get the best of her; she promises that she won't run away again.

"Hey, Bones, ready to go?" Booth asks, wiping his mouth.

"Yes," she replies. "I'm ready."

It is Independence Day, and Dr. Temperance Brennan is taking a stand. For love, trust, family… and pie.

A/N: In June of 1902, Current Literature: A Magazine of Contemporary Record quoted a New York Times piece, saying that "Pie is the symbol of American prosperity and its varying contents the calendar of the changing seasons. Pie is the food of the heroic. No pie-eating people can ever be permanently vanquished". The piece goes on to say that "the mailed knights whose deeds reflected honor on the British name […] were voracious eaters of pie". Naturally, I thought of Booth. So this fic is dedicated to all of the pie-eating peoples of the world.

Also, according to my research, pregnancy cravings can start as early as a few weeks into a pregnancy. Nonetheless, the muse insisted that this fic open with Brennan thinking that it was too early for her to have food cravings (even though it really wouldn't be and she would know that); let's just chalk it up to temporary hormone-induced irrationality on her part, OK? Clearly she needed the nonexistent nutrients in the pie before her brain could start functioning properly again. ;-)