Author's Note: Long time reader, first time poster! Extra-long hiatus plus not getting to see the events that led up to last season's surprise ending finally motivated me to try my hand at writing. Pretty much took me the whole hiatus to write it, too, so this might be the only story you ever get from me! Also my first attempt at writing anything remotely smutty ever (always been a very G-rated sort of writer), so please be kind. Thanks!

She had lain awake for hours now. Her eyes had been closed at some points, but she was pretty sure she had not managed to fall into even the shortest-lived of sleeps. She just could not stop her brain from going in every direction, and instead of winding down, it seemed to be continually escalating so that sleep seemed further and further away with each moment that passed.

She had never had this problem before. She had gone without sleep before, sure, but that was always the result of a conscious decision to prioritize work over sleep when she had a case that needed solving sooner rather than later. Never before had she lain in bed (or in this case, on sofa) actively trying to fall asleep without success. Her rational brain knew that sleep was necessary for optimum mental acuity and physical wellbeing, and up until recently, her rational brain was the only one she listened to.

All that had changed, suddenly and completely, after the Lauren Eames case. The universe had sent her a wake-up call and she had heeded it. She still struggled, though, in showing that change to others. She had never been ashamed of her reputation as a "cold fish". After all, this was a natural byproduct of the qualities she had prided herself on: her ability to adhere strictly to the rational, her ability to compartmentalize. If this meant people saw her as unfeeling, then so be it. But now that she had changed, changed so fully she felt it ought to be radiating from every pore, it stung her that most everyone still saw her as cold, pragmatic Dr. Brennan. Even Sweets, with all his training in psychology and reading non-verbal cues, had been sure mere weeks before that Brennan would condemn young Amy Winslow based on the evidence of her guilt without giving the little girl a chance to tell her side of the story. And hadn't Vincent, too, shown that he was unaware of her new, more emotional self? Hadn't he been afraid, in the last moments of his life, that logical, indifferent Dr. Brennan would force him to leave the Jeffersonian as a result of his injury?

And, unbidden, images of those last moments flooded Brennan's mind, for the hundredth time that day. Vincent, pale as death, eyes full of fear and shock, and the blood…so red, and so much of it, seeping through Booth's fingers, unstoppable. And her newly-penetrable heart—strong, but not impervious—couldn't help drawing parallels to another horrific scene from her memory. Booth, lying on the floor of the Checker Box Karaoke Bar, a hole in his chest not so very far from the hole that took Vincent's life, the blood, just as red, seeping through Brennan's fingers. Back then, she pretended, and even believed, that she had compartmentalized that moment, tucked it away in a corner of her mind where it couldn't hurt her, but now she could see that a part of her had broken that day, and a part of her had never recovered. She still couldn't hear "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" without tearing up.

A shudder ran through her at how easily it could have been Booth lying on the Jeffersonian's autopsy table right now. Broadsky's bullet had been meant for Booth, and it was only freak chance that put the phone in Vincent's hand, and consequently, the bullet in Vincent's heart. Booth was a strong man with great instincts and great reflexes, and these facts helped calm her nerves whenever he was in a dangerous situation, but even he could not have dodged that bullet from Broadsky had he been in the line of fire.

But yet, he was alive. He had survived yet another close call. What was that expression about cats? They have nine lives, that was it. In addition to having the reflexes of a "jungle cat" (his words, not hers), Booth seemed to have the survival skills of a feline as well, and even as she mourned Vincent, Brennan couldn't help feeling grateful that it wasn't Booth she was mourning.

She hoped Booth, at least, had seen the great change in her. She was pretty certain he had. Of all her friends, Booth had always been the best at reading her, better even than Angela. He had an uncanny ability to know what she was thinking and feeling before she did, and it seemed impossible that he hadn't noticed the difference in her in all the time they spent together. In fact, he was there to witness the shift occur, when, in another scene she didn't particularly care to relive, she confessed her regret at not taking the happiness he offered her when she had the chance. And she had told him herself, in this very room, about how her imperviousness was gradually giving way to strength.

He had to know, and yet, suddenly and irrationally, she was gripped by the fear that he didn't. Simultaneously, a voice crept into her head to remind her that although Booth had escaped Broadsky this time, the sniper was sure to try again once he learned, if he hadn't already, that his first attempt had failed. Brennan suddenly sat upright, staring at the closed door to Booth's bedroom—one of many doors, real and metaphorical, the two of them had shut over the years to keep the other at bay. She was gripped with a sudden need to see him with her own eyes, to assure herself that he was alive, that he was breathing, and that he alone knew the truth of her, he alone knew who she was and how she'd changed.

She crept to his door, intending just to press her ear against it to see if she could ascertain if he was awake. After all, he had had a difficult day, too. Perhaps he was lying awake like she had, mulling over the day's events, perhaps feeling guilty that Vincent had taken a bullet meant for him. It was this image, of Booth struggling with feelings of guilt Brennan knew he didn't deserve, that caused her to act in a way she hadn't planned, caused her hand to move, as though of its own volition, to turn the doorknob, although she had heard no noise from inside.

He was lying down, but she couldn't tell if he had been asleep, because the second the sound of the door opening echoed across the silent room, Booth swung around and seized his sidearm off the bedside table and pointed it at Brennan, who had an immediate desire to retreat back the way she had come. "I'm—I'm sorry," she stuttered, automatically raising her hands in a gesture of surrender.

"No, I'm sorry," Booth said, though he still pointed the gun in her direction. She understood he wasn't aiming the gun at her, precisely, but it still wasn't the warm welcome she'd hoped for. "Did you hear something?" he asked, swinging his legs off the bed, poised for action, poised to defend her.

"No, no," she reassured him. She glanced automatically back toward the sofa, her makeshift bedroom for the night. She felt foolish, now that she was here. She should have let him sleep, he needed his sleep. But now that she was here, she couldn't very well walk out without explanation.

"You want me to put the gun away?" he asked.

"Yes," she answered, barely above a whisper. Booth placed the gun on his other nightstand, and Brennan felt her shoulders relax, though not completely.

"Okay," Booth said. "What's wrong?"

"He kept saying, 'Don't make me go,'" Brennan said, moving to stand at Booth's bedside.


"Vincent. He was looking at me, and he was saying, 'Don't make me leave.' He said that he…that he loved being there." Brennan felt the tears she had fought back for hours well up in her eyes. "Why would he think that I'm the one making him leave? What kind of person am I?" she choked, giving voice to the insecurity that was plaguing her.

"Come here," Booth said, grabbing Brennan's hand and pulling her down to sit on the edge of the bed next to him. "Bones, you've got that all wrong, all right? You've got it all wrong."

"No, I heard him. You did too. 'Don't make me leave,' that's what he said."

Booth paused, unsure how to explain it to Brennan in a way she would understand. "He wasn't talking to you."

Brennan looked at him incredulously. "I was the only one there. And you. He wasn't—he wasn't talking to you."

"He was talking to God. He didn't want to die."

"No, Vincent was like me, Booth. He was an atheist."

"Okay. Then he was talking to the universe, then. He didn't want to go. He wasn't ready, Bones. He wanted to stay."

Grief welled up in Brennan's chest anew, and her tears flowed faster as she said, "Well, if there was a God, then he would have let Vincent stay here with us."

"That's not how it works," Booth said softly. His warm brown eyes stared deeply into Brennan's. She saw some of her own grief reflected back at her, along with that certain something Booth had that made her feel safe and protected like no one else could. She leaned in, just a fraction of an inch, to embrace him, but caught herself. They had hugged plenty of times before, at times when she had needed it far less, but so much had changed between them over the last year, and she wasn't sure what the boundaries were anymore. She was desperate for the comfort his arms offered, but she didn't want to push him. He had established quite clearly the rules of their new relationship the night Hannah had broken his heart, and she had been determined since then to follow his lead on when and how to relax those rules. He had needed space, and she had given it; ignoring the irony of the complete role reversal, she had hung back and let him dictate just how affectionate their friendship could be. And, unlike any of their previous hugs, this one would occur in his bed, in the middle of the night, unchaperoned by any of their friends. She was aware of the implications that could carry, but this embrace was truly not about seduction—it was simply about needing comfort in a time of grief.

"Can I just…?" she muttered, barely audible, seeking his permission even as she leaned automatically, unstoppably towards him.

"Yeah, that's why I'm here," he said, accepting her into his arms and guiding her back until they were lying flat on his bed, her face buried in his chest as she began to cry in earnest. As usual, he had known just the right thing to say. 'That's why I'm here' implied that not only was it okay for her to seek comfort from him, but that maybe he had expected it. Maybe he hadn't wanted her to be alone tonight, not just for her safety, but for her emotional wellbeing as well. After all, he had always been concerned for her emotional wellbeing before, had always been the person most concerned with protecting her from every physical and emotional harm he could. With everything that had changed between them, it comforted Brennan to know that they were still them. He was still the person she went to for comfort, and he was still the person most interested in comforting her. "I'm right here. I know, it's hard," he whispered, rubbing his hand lightly over her shoulder.

She sighed and nuzzled in closer, her sobs subsiding somewhat. "Thank you," she murmured into his chest. It seemed inadequate, somehow, but it was all she could think of to say.

"Of course," he said, smoothing her hair and kissing the top of her head, oh so lightly.

The touch of his lips, so innocent, was enough to cause a soft swoop in her belly as she became acutely aware, even through her grief, of just how close he was. The smell of him surrounding her, the feel of his strong arm wrapped possessively around her shoulders, the sound of his heartbeat right under her ear—under different circumstances it would have driven her crazy. But her overwhelming feeling now was one of safety. He had reassured her as no one else could, and in his arms, she was finally able to drift off to sleep.

It seemed mere seconds later that a shrill beeping sound rang through the bedroom, and both partners startled awake instantly. Booth groaned and hastily moved to stifle the noise. The alarm clock was on Brennan's side of the bed, and he had to roll practically on top of her in order to find the off button with his reaching fingers. As soon as the noise ceased, there was a moment, again, where each became aware of their proximity to the other. Booth lingered just a second longer than was necessary over Brennan's sleepy form, breathing in the scent of her hair and locking in to her clear azure eyes. It felt so familiar, waking up next to her, and it took him a moment to realize why: he had dreamed this—lived it, really—in the coma world he and Brennan had built together. Waking up with her in his arms felt so familiar, in fact, that for a moment his still-half-sleeping brain forgot that they were "just partners," and he almost leaned in to give her a nonchalant good morning kiss. He caught himself quickly and settled for a crooked grin and a "Good morning, Bones" as he rolled away from her.

"Morning, Booth," Brennan replied, with a small smile of her own.

"How you holding up?" he asked her, his face turning serious.

Brennan took a long, slow breath. "Better," she said. "I'm feeling better. Thanks again for … for everything. I'm sorry I interrupted your sleep."

"You kidding me? You've got nothing to be sorry about."

"You need your sleep, though. Remember? You have to kill Broadsky." She couldn't quite keep the panic out of her voice on the last few words, and she knew he heard it.

"Yeah, Bones. I remember."

Their eyes met again and held for a long moment. Each felt the gnawing of Things Unsaid in the back of their minds, but neither could seem to vocalize their thoughts. Finally, it was Booth who broke the silence. "Well, I'm gonna hit the shower. Long day ahead," he said, as he swung his legs off the bed and moved toward the bathroom door. "I'll only be a few minutes, and then I'll swing you back by your place to shower and change." He was all business, all practicality, and she nodded, glad to put her mind on anything that did not involve the inevitable confrontation between Booth and Broadsky.

They passed the SUV ride to Brennan's apartment and then to the Jeffersonian mostly in silence that was slightly on the awkward side of the spectrum. Brennan was too lost in her own thoughts to be too concerned with conversation. When she wasn't worrying about the impending Booth/Broadsky showdown, she couldn't keep her thoughts from returning to the way Booth had looked at her when he was hovering over her in the first waking moments of the morning. She had felt something in that look that she didn't think she had imagined, but then again, she had never been very good at non-verbal communication. Could it be that Booth had just been too polite to kick a grieving Brennan out of his bed last night, and his silence now was simply a result of his embarrassment at having woken up with his arms around a woman he had nothing but platonic feelings for?

She had expected him to drop her at the door of the Jeffersonian, but he instead pulled the SUV into the secure parking garage and accompanied her into the building and up to the Medico-Legal Lab, his hand resting at the small of her back, shooting furtive glances in every direction as they walked, not relaxing this protective posture until they passed through the doors of the lab. His nervousness made her uneasy too, and she carefully avoided looking at the forensic platform, the site of yesterday's horrors, as they passed.

Booth accompanied her to her office in silence. He stopped just on the threshold and she turned to face him, caught by the intensity in his chocolate brown eyes. "The lab's being heavily guarded," he told her. "Stay inside, stay away from the windows. I'll call you when I know anything."

"Booth…" she began, not sure what she meant to say.

He grabbed her hand in his. "Stay safe, Bones."

"You too, Booth." He gave her hand a small squeeze, then turned and walked away.

Brennan passed the rest of the day in restless anticipation and an uncharacteristic inability to focus on the task at hand. Her emotions were a confused mess of aching sadness, terror, and hope, and she found herself wishing she could regain some of her old ability to compartmentalize her feelings. When at last she got the call that Booth had caught Broadsky, that he had gotten through unscathed, relief so sudden and strong it was almost like pain coursed through her body. He was safe. He had survived, again.

Over the next few days, with her fear for Booth's safety assuaged—at least for now—sadness over Vincent's death once again floated to the forefront of Brennan's emotions. She hadn't forgotten the night she spent in Booth's arms, but she still had no idea what it meant for them. There did seem to have been a shift in their relationship; they were each more affectionate and demonstrative with the other, as though spending the night so physically close to one another had at least managed to break down the last year's unspoken avoidance of physical contact. Brennan thought of what Angela had said about them right after they returned from Maluku and Afghanistan—that they had always been a couple, they just weren't having sex. That seemed even truer now. It felt like something had changed between them that night, but objectively, they were in the same place now that they started: friends, partners, nothing more.

The night after they sent Vincent's body back to England, Brennan and Booth met for dinner at the Founding Fathers. The place was crowded, and as it was just the two of them, they opted to sit at the bar rather than wait for a table. The bartender, a young guy by the name of Danny, knew them well—Booth and his motley crew of scientists were regulars there. Danny prided himself on his ability to read people, and he thought he saw just a little something different about the two partners tonight. It was hard to define, but there was something about the way their bodies angled toward each other, the way their hands brushed together and held just a little longer than usual, that communicated some unspoken intimacy that wasn't there before. Danny had wondered in the past whether these two were more than the "just partners" they purported to be—there had always seemed to be something more than friendship there, at least until Booth started coming into the bar with a blond woman whose name Danny had never caught. But the blond hadn't been seen in months now, and Danny smiled to himself as he wondered if Brennan and Booth had finally stopped fighting their obvious attraction and just done it, already.

Toward the end of the meal, Brennan put her fork down and looked at Booth with a suddenly serious expression. "Booth, I'd like to ask you a favor."

"Oh, boy," Booth said, laying his fork down too. "What is it, Bones?"

"I'd like to pay for you to accompany me to Vincent's funeral."

"Whoa…pay for me? Sounds more like you'd be doing me a favor, Bones."

"No, Booth, hear me up!"

Booth grinned in spite of himself. "Out, Bones. Hear me out."

"Yes, that. You know I've never had much interest in funerals except from an anthropological standpoint."

Booth nodded once.

"Well, I've come to realize that funerals offer a valuable opportunity for the decedent's friends and family to gain closure in the aftermath of their loss. It also serves as an opportunity to pay one's respects to the decedent's—in this case, Vincent's—family." She knew she was sounding clinical, but she couldn't help defaulting to that whenever her emotions got overwhelming. She didn't think Booth would mind.

"You should go, Bones. If you feel like you want that closure, you should go get it."

"Yes. But the funeral is in London. Cam cannot attend as it is on the same day as Michelle's high school graduation. Angela can't fly in her third trimester, and Hodgins won't leave for fear that Angela will go into labor early and he'll miss the birth. Besides, they've said their goodbyes already, at the Jeffersonian. But they didn't know him as well as I did, Booth." Her eyes welled up with tears again, and before he was even aware of what he was doing, Booth had slid off his bar stool and wrapped his arms around Brennan, who fought the urge to cry into Booth's chest for the second time that week. "It's all right, Booth. I'm all right," she said, rather aware of the large audience they had in the crowded bar. He pulled back a bit, but remained standing, and his hands moved from her arms to grip both of her hands in his. Her eyes were bright, but her tears remained unshed. "I feel it would be beneficial for me to attend Mr. Nigel-Murray's funeral. In the past, I have always bottled up any feelings of grief or sadness, tried to forget and move on quickly. I don't want to do that this time. You have always believed in the value of funerals as part of the grieving process, and I trust you as an authority on matters of emotion."

"Thanks, Bones," Booth said with a small, sad smile.

"That said, I would rather not attend the funeral alone." She paused for a moment, searching his eyes with hers. Then she said, in barely more than a whisper, "I don't know if I can face it alone, Booth."

Booth recognized how difficult it must have been for her to admit weakness and need like that, and felt something unnameable flare inside him—it was two parts protectiveness and one part something that felt a lot like love, and it was all he could do to keep from embracing her again. "Of course, Bones. I'll be there, no questions asked. But I'm paying for my own ticket."

"No, Booth," she said, in a voice that sounded much more typical-Brennan. "A last-minute flight to London will be extremely expensive. And how are you going to lend emotional support if you're back in coach while I'm in first class?"

"You could just fly coach, you know."

Brennan gave him a look of disbelief. "Why would I fly coach when I can easily afford the comforts of first class? It's illogical."

"Fine," he conceded grumpily. "But we're splitting the hotel and I'm buying you every meal while we're there."

"Booth, that's not necess—" she began, but quelled under the fierce look he gave her. "Fine," she sighed. "We leave tomorrow, so you should tell your boss you won't be at work."

Booth suddenly became aware that he was still holding both of Brennan's hands, and pulled back with a slightly embarrassed smile, and returned to his barstool just as Danny came over with the check.

The next couple days were uniquely challenging ones for Brennan. Determined as she was to really feel every emotion that came her way, to really allow herself to grieve for the first time since she was fifteen, she let the experience of Vincent's funeral sink in as no prior funeral she'd attended had, and the experience hurt. There was no other word for it. She never got as tearful as she was that first night, but there was a constant pressure in her chest, a tightness in her throat, a heaviness in her step. She shook hands with Vincent's mother and told her truthfully that Vincent was her favorite, most promising graduate student, noting as she did so that Mrs. Nigel-Murray had her son's precise shade of hazelly-brown eyes. She listened raptly to the prayers and readings at the funeral mass, Booth murmuring along beside her with the more familiar prayers. She watched as Vincent's casket was lowered slowly into the ground at his family's cemetery plot, imagining the stone that would someday mark his final resting place and realizing with a start that she did even know what year Vincent was born. There were so many questions she never took the time to ask, details she never took the time to learn, and for the first time since the night of Vincent's death, she felt an almost unmanageable wave of grief threaten to engulf her again. She turned her face to Booth, who registered immediately the desperation in Brennan's eyes and wrapped her once again in a silent hug. Brennan felt herself shudder and then relax, but she made no move to back away, and the two stayed wrapped in each other's embrace for several minutes.

It occurred to Booth dimly that the other attendees of the funeral would assume that he was Brennan's boyfriend or husband, accompanying her to lend emotional support, and he found he did not have any problem with that assumption. The truth was he had never felt more strongly for Brennan than in the days since she had woken up in his bed. He tried to rationalize this as a partner's instinct to be extra-protective at times of emotional vulnerability, but the memory of waking up with his body completely entangled with hers was setting some vague but very un-partnerly thoughts circulating in his head. He couldn't help but be impressed, too, at the way she was handling the loss. As much as he hated to see her in pain, he knew how much worse it would have been if she had shoved the pain deep down inside per usual. For Brennan, there was more at stake than just mourning Vincent in a healthy way. She was determined, if only subconsciously, to prove to Booth once and for all that she had changed, that she was not the same Brennan who rejected him last year, who kept her heart locked away so tight she had almost ruined the best thing in her life. Even if things never worked out for them romantically, she needed him to know the truth of her.

They had dinner that night at a little restaurant walking distance from their hotel, though neither could muster up much of an appetite, and on the way back, they stopped at the local off-license and picked up a bottle of scotch. She knew it was impossible, but Brennan felt as though she had aged ten years in the last few days. She was drained, physically and emotionally, and she felt a drink or two with Booth might be just the right homeopathic remedy. Booth wasn't sure that adding alcohol to the mix of him and Bones plus no chaperones plus hotel room plus emotional vulnerability was a great idea, but his "Are you sure about that, Bones?" as she grabbed the bottle off the shelf was ignored completely.

They had opted for a two-bedroom suite, to save money (for Booth's sake), but Booth still wasn't sure it was their wisest decision. He sort of felt that a door with a deadbolt between their respective sleeping quarters might have been safer, especially once the alcohol started flowing. After all, his own closed bedroom door had done little to stand between them just a few nights before.

Their suite had a kitchenette stocked with basic dishware, so Brennan pulled down a few glasses and poured out generous helpings of scotch for each of them. Booth touched his glass to Brennan's, smiling. "Cheers, Bones," he said, moving to sit on the small couch.

"Cheers, Booth," Brennan replied. They hadn't left the air conditioning on when they'd left, and the room was warm. She shrugged out of her black cardigan, and it was all Booth could do not to stare at her. Her simple black dress was tasteful, but it hugged her curves just right, and Booth was convinced she had never looked more beautiful. Brennan felt his eyes on her as she moved to sit beside him on the couch.

She let out a long sigh as she sat, kicking off her shoes and tucking her feet up under her. "How you feeling, Bones?" he asked, looking into her tired eyes, removing his suit jacket, too.

Brennan paused for a moment before answering. "I'm sad," she said finally. "I'm sad, but I'm glad I came."

Booth nodded. "That sounds about right."

Brennan looked at him seriously. "Listen, Booth, I want to thank you. For coming with me today, for everything you've done for me since Vincent's death. For everything you've done for me ever, really. I just want you to know I'm grateful. I might not be the best at showing it, but I am."

"I know, Bones. And you show it just fine. And you've done plenty for me over the years, too. Saved my life more than once."

"Yeah…" she answered vaguely, but her mind seemed to be far away. They sat in silence for a few moments, Booth trying to figure out what she was thinking. Suddenly realizing that she had been off in her own world, Brennan smiled and fished around in her mind to come up with a light-hearted, easy conversation topic. "Perhaps we should drop in on your friends at Scotland Yard while we're here. Who knows when you'll get back to London again."

"Yeah, we should," Booth agreed, smiling easily. "Maybe there'd even be another bobble-head in it for me."

They passed the rest of the evening in light, friendly conversation. The bottle of scotch dwindled quickly, and they were only vaguely aware of the warm contentedness washing over them that meant the alcohol was taking hold. Around 11:00, Booth came to two realizations: he was drunk, and he was starving. Eating seemed to be the most logical solution to both problems. Their dinner had been hours ago, and he hadn't felt hungry enough at the time to eat more than half of it. "Hey Bones, what do you say I order us a pizza?"

"Pizza? It's 11:00 at night, Booth!"

"Come on, Bones, I've been with you for the past 48 hours, I know you haven't had much to eat. You aren't just a little bit hungry?" he asked, shooting her his patented charm smile.

Brennan smiled in spite of herself. "Well, I guess I am sort of hungry. But you'll have to get a vegetarian pizza."

Booth wrinkled his nose. "No pepperoni?"

"No, Booth! Pepperoni is not a vegetable!"

"Fine, vegetarian it is," Booth said as he walked, stumbling slightly, to the entertainment center where he remembered seeing an advertisement for a local pizza delivery service. The ad said the place was open 'til midnight, so Booth hastened to pick up the hotel room phone and dialed the number on the card.

Twenty minutes later, a weary-looking young man in a faded red uniform was standing at their hotel room door. Booth paid for the pizza, plus a generous tip, while Brennan took the box off the pizza boy's hands.

Booth followed Brennan into the kitchenette, where she put the pizza box down on one of the only areas of usable counter space. "Plates," Booth muttered, remembering from earlier that they were in the cabinet just over Brennan's head. As she opened the pizza box and sniffed appreciatively, Booth stepped behind her and placed his right hand on her right hip, the front of his body flush with the back of hers as he reached above her head to grab a couple of appropriately-sized plates out of the cabinet.

The touch of Booth's hand on her hip shot a jolt of electricity through Brennan, and she spun around instantly so that she was staring into the startled brown eyes of Booth, who was frozen with his left hand still on the cabinet door and his body basically pinning Brennan against the counter. "Hi," he said, his brain slightly foggy.

"Hi," she replied softly, never taking her eyes from his.

"I was just getting us some plates," he muttered, his eyes darting briefly to the cabinet before returning to her face.

"I know," she said, swallowing. He was inches away, so close, too close, and she wasn't sure she could bring herself to back away this time. She saw his eyes dart to her lips, and that was all the provocation she needed. She closed the gap between their lips in an instant and crushed his mouth with hers.

He pulled away almost immediately, and her heart broke a little. "Bones," he mumbled, his arms still wrapped around her, his eyes seeking out hers, but hers were averted. "Bones," he tried again, and this time she looked at him, eyes overbright and cheeks flushed pink. He didn't know why, but he had needed to see her, to reassure himself that this was real. That accomplished, he pressed his mouth against hers again, devouring her lips, and they melted into each other's embrace, pizza forgotten completely.

Without either one consciously deciding to, they moved toward Booth's bedroom, which was nearer. Needing to feel his skin under her fingers, Brennan tugged Booth's crisp white dress shirt out from the waistband of his pants and slid her hands up underneath. She felt his stomach muscles contract slightly as she ran her fingers over them. She unbuttoned a few of the lower buttons of his shirt, then reached up to loosen his tie. Their mouths finally separated as she pulled the tie up over his head.

The temporary loss of contact brought Booth back to his senses. "This is a bad idea," he murmured.

"I don't care," Brennan said, going back to work on his shirt buttons and kissing him again.

He returned the kiss—it was impossible not to—but when her hands reached his belt and began to pull it off, he grabbed her wrists to halt her progress. "Bones. You've got to stop."

"Why?" she exclaimed in frustration, pulling back as though burned. Her expression was hurt, so hurt, and there was a part of him that would have given her anything she wanted just to never have to see that expression again. "For God's sake, Booth. Why?"

"Because you're drunk."

"So are you."

"And sad."

"Ditto." There was a moment of silence, then she asked, backing up a step further so her back was against the bedroom wall: "Are you not attracted to me anymore?"

"What?" He almost yelped it. He let out a noise like a growl and took a long step forward until he was pinning her again, hands on the wall on either side of her head. "Bones, you know that's not the problem," he said, his face at her neck. She could feel his breath on her skin as he spoke, and the sensation gave her goosebumps. "Hell, you can feel that that's not the problem," he said, pulling back to look into her eyes. He rocked his pelvis forward slightly, and sure enough, she could feel how hard he was, already. This action backfired somewhat as the look of lust that flashed through Brennan's eyes very nearly broke his resolve on the spot. It ought to qualify him for sainthood, he thought, turning down Temperance Brennan when she was so willing and desperate in his arms, but he would be damned if he was going to throw away the vague and unformed but very happy visions he had of their future together for one drunken, lust-filled night.

"Then what is the problem?" she asked in his ear.

"The problem is I don't want to take advantage of you. I don't want you to do something tonight that you'll regret tomorrow. I don't want to ruin our friendship." He weakened his arguments slightly by punctuating each assertion with a kiss to her throat.

"What if I don't care about any of that?"

"You don't care about our friendship?" he growled, pulling back to look at her again.

"You know that's not what I meant!" she said, eyes filling up with angry tears. She shook her head. "I am sad, Booth. I'm sad. And I know I should be thinking about Vincent and just letting myself be sad, but I want to be happy right now. Just for a little while. I want to be happy." She paused for a moment, trying and failing to keep her tears from spilling over. "Does that make me a terrible person?" There was no sarcasm in her question, just honest worry, and Booth's heart broke for her all over again.

He shook his head. "No. God no, Bones. You're not terrible. You're amazing." He kissed her face where one of her tears had landed. "You're amazing." He kissed away another tear. "And beautiful." Kiss. "And intelligent." Kiss. "And the best friend I ever had." His last kiss landed on her mouth and took her breath away.

When she got it back again, she whispered in his ear: "Then why won't you make love to me?" And just like that, his resolve broke. It had really been a lost cause from the beginning, he mused, as he claimed her lips again and kissed her fiercely. Somewhere in his mind he could see a metaphorical dam breaking as his hands went around her back to pull down the zipper of her dress.

He eased the dress off her shoulders and it pooled around her bare feet. He took a moment to admire the sight of her in nothing but a black lace bra and matching panties, but Brennan wouldn't let their lips remain separated for long. She pushed his shirt off his shoulders too and went to work again on his belt. It slid off easily, and Brennan suddenly remembered another, much more innocent, occasion on which she had undressed him in the Bone Room of the Jeffersonian. She smiled against his lips as she realized that everything she had imagined doing to him on that occasion would actually be possible now.

Booth's pants had joined his shirt and Brennan's dress on the floor by the time they reached the bed. Brennan lay down first and Booth followed, hovering over her and staring worshipfully at her scantily clad body. "God, you're so beautiful, Bones," he said, scattering kisses along her jawline.

"You said that already, Booth," she chuckled.

"I'll probably say it twelve more times before the night is up," he said seriously. He moved his mouth down her neck to the lace-covered mounds of her breasts, kissing along the edge of the bra cup before reaching behind her to undo the clasp. She flung the bra carelessly onto the floor as he latched on to one of her perfect pink nipples with his mouth. Brennan couldn't help the guttural moan that escaped her throat at the feel of Booth's tongue on her breast. His right hand came up to palm her left breast, and he rolled the nipple softly between his fingers. "Booth," Brennan whispered breathlessly, her fingers tangling in his hair. As much as she was enjoying his ministrations, she was practically on fire with the need to have him inside of her. She had never thought of herself as an impatient lover, but six years of built-up sexual tension were causing her body to make demands as never before. "Booth…need you…now," she stammered.

"Patience, Bones." He grinned crookedly at her—God, how she loved that grin—and started kissing a path downward to her already soaking wet panties. He pressed a series of kisses along the waistband, then started in on the soft skin of her inner thighs. He looked up once into her eyes, unconsciously seeking—and receiving—permission to continue, then hooked his thumbs into the waistband of her panties and gently pulled them down over her legs and off.

He knew how desperate she was, and he was feeling pretty desperate himself, but he couldn't resist having a taste of her first. He slowly licked along the length of her slit and felt her shudder at the contact. He dipped his tongue inside her opening and couldn't believe how sweet she tasted. She was writhing underneath him, moaning loud and fast, and when he closed his lips around her clit, she came apart completely. Her orgasm surprised her; they had essentially just gotten started, and she had always needed much more time to "warm up" before achieving orgasm. She had realized as soon as they'd begun, though, that the usual rules were unlikely to apply where Booth was concerned.

Booth shimmied back up her body to kiss her mouth again, and she wrapped her legs around his waist, grinding herself slightly against the impressive erection she could feel through his boxers. "Booth," she said. "No more waiting. Need you inside me now."

"Right," he muttered, pulling his boxers down and off. His erection was even more impressive than she had imagined, and she couldn't resist reaching out and wrapping her hand around the shaft. "Bones," he murmured against her lips. "I thought you were tired of waiting."

"Mmmm," she agreed, but started moving her hand up and down his length all the same.

"Bones," he said again. "First time with someone I've fantasized about for years...stamina's going to be a bit of an issue. "


"And you're not helping," he said, grabbing her wrist for the second time that night to stop her hand's up-and-down motion on his shaft.

"Right," she sighed, letting go. "Stamina."

He was still holding her hand in his and entwined their fingers as he lined himself up and slowly entered her. She was tight, tighter than he'd expected, and her sharp intake of breath told him the experience wasn't entirely pain-free. "Bones…are you ok?"

"I'm fine Booth. It's just, it's been awhile. I haven't wanted to…with anyone."

"I get it, Bones. You don't have to explain."

"I'm fine, really. You can move."

He did, slowly and experimentally at first, then when she didn't show any signs of further discomfort, he began moving faster, finding a rhythm that felt right for both of them. She felt amazing around him; warm and soft and tight, her body hugged his in all the right places, and it was all he could do not to lose it within 30 seconds of entering her.

She was getting close again. She could feel her orgasm growing, slowly gaining strength as he stroked into her again and again. Booth was a very skilled lover, that was for sure, but for the first time in her life Brennan was acutely aware of not just the physical pleasure he was providing, but of that other, emotional pleasure of knowing it was him, that it was really happening. The emotional pleasure compounded the physical pleasure exponentially, and Brennan thought she understood, finally, the difference between having sex and making love. Having experienced the latter, she wasn't sure she could ever go back to the former again.

Booth was getting close, too. He started to increase his pace, but Brennan felt him holding back, afraid to hurt her. "It's okay, Booth," she whispered in his ear. "Let go. I won't break."

He caught her eyes and held eye contact for a moment before doing as she asked, pistoning his hips against hers, setting a frenzied pace. It was all the extra stimulation she needed. "Booth, Booth, Booth, Booth," she repeated over and over again. She had lost every other word in her considerable vocabulary.

"Bones," he replied on a moan, and at the sound of his voice, she came apart in his arms for the second time. The feeling of her inner walls clenching around him was more than he could take, and he followed her over the edge seconds later, filling her up with spurt after spurt of his seed.

He collapsed on top of her, panting heavily, then, afraid he might crush her, rolled them over as he pulled out, so that she was sprawled on top of him instead. "Wow, Bones," he said when he could speak again. "Just…wow."

She chuckled. "I told you we'd be compatible," she said, propping herself up on her elbows so she could look him in the eye.

"You never had to convince me of that," he assured her, pulling her face down so he could kiss her again.

When they broke apart, she rolled her body off him slightly so she was lying on the bed instead of him, but she rested her head on his chest and wrapped her arm around his waist, nuzzling in and closing her eyes. Booth was relieved to see she wasn't running back to her room, at least not yet.

"Good night, Booth," she mumbled sleepily.

"'Night, Bones," he answered, kissing her hair and tightening his arm around her body.

Booth awoke first. The first thing he became conscious of was a permeating feeling of contentedness that he assumed was the result of a pleasant dream. Eyes still closed, he tried to recall the details. He had dreamt about Brennan again, he realized, with the slight twinge of guilt the former Catholic schoolboy in him always felt about thinking about her that way without her knowledge. The dream must have been pretty vivid, too, as he was getting flashes of a very turned-on Brennan writhing underneath him as he dipped his tongue into her entrance. It was around this time that he became aware that his body was pressed up against something very soft and warm and his nostrils were filling at each breath with a scent that smelled an awful lot like Brennan's shampoo.

His eyes popped open and he took in Brennan's sleeping form lying next to him as his confused brain struggled to catch up. London…funeral…scotch…pizza…kissing…tears…sex. Sex with Brennan. Sex with Brennan, who was currently lying next to him in bed, naked. It felt like a violation, somehow, to be lying here with her, as though he had crept to her bed in the middle of the night (although technically speaking it was his bed they were lying in), stripped off his clothes and simply crawled in beside her without her knowledge. He instinctively tried to roll away, sure that things would go better if Brennan did not wake up with a naked Booth spooned against her back, but his movement awakened her before he had gotten more than a few inches away.

"Booth," she mumbled, rolling towards him and throwing an arm over his waist, effectively pinning him where he was. Her eyes still half closed, she nuzzled adorably into his chest.

"Morning, Bones," Booth answered weakly, holding his breath as he waited for Brennan's half-asleep mind to absorb the situation they were in. His body was stiff, and even through her sleepiness Brennan could feel the tension in his muscles. She forced her eyes fully open as she looked up to focus on his.

"Morning," she answered.

"How ya feeling?"

"Okay. A little bit of a headache. From the alcohol, I suspect...and the crying."

Booth's face fell and he sat up suddenly, causing Brennan's body to fall away from his. "I'm sorry, Bones," he said, burying his face in his hands and turning his body away from her.

Brennan sat up too, modestly covering herself with the sheet. "Sorry? For what?"

"You were drunk last night, and…and vulnerable. And I took advantage. I'm a bad friend. A bad partner. A bad person."

"Booth. Booth, look at me," she commanded. When he ignored her, she reached up and pulled his hands away from his face, and reluctantly he met her eyes with his. "You're not a bad anything," she said softly, repeating back words he had once said to her, what felt like a hundred years ago. His eyes softened at her words, and she could tell he got the reference.

"Bones," he said, reaching up to cup her face in his hand. "I can't lose you."

"You won't," she promised, and then she was kissing him again, and even his newly-sober brain became incapable of rational thought the moment her lips touched his. And suddenly, with no idea how he had gotten there, he found himself once again poised between her legs, lined up at her entrance. He hesitated for a second, seeking out eye contact. She granted it, and he marveled for the millionth time at just how perfectly blue her eyes were, the color shifting from ice blue to aqua green depending on the light, but never anything less than stunningly beautiful. "Please, Booth," she whispered, and as he slid inside her again, they moaned in unison.

The feeling of being inside her was, if possible, even more exquisitely amazing now that none of his senses were dulled by alcohol. He buried his face in her neck and inhaled the scent that was so familiar he had recognized it in his half-sleep. He pressed kisses to her neck, her collarbone, and the soft skin behind her ear as she whispered his name.

They took their time this time, last night's desperation replaced by a calm desire to learn everything they could about each other's bodies. Their hands and mouths explored everywhere they could reach. He learned the most sensitive spot on her neck, that caused her to hum with pleasure when he sucked on it lightly. She learned that rotating her hips in a certain manner caused him to grunt in a very alpha-male sort of way.

Eventually, when the delicious buildup of tension became almost too much to bear, she wrapped her legs around his waist and pulled his hips toward her, so that his thrusts went even deeper inside her. "Oh God, Bones," he groaned in appreciation, increasing the speed of his movements. He could feel the tingling in his balls that meant his orgasm was close, but he was determined to take her with him. Without warning, he flipped them over so that Brennan was on top. The new angle put him right where she needed him, and after just a few more thrusts, she shattered, all her senses afire with the most intense orgasm of her life. Booth followed soon after, unloading inside her as the aftershocks of her orgasm milked every drop from him.

She lay trembling on top of him, somehow both exhausted and exhilarated simultaneously. Booth stroked her hair, panting, feeling his heartbeat gradually return to somewhere near normal. "Bones," he sighed. "That…was not the way I meant for that conversation to go." He laughed softly and she echoed him.

Booth gently rolled them over so that they were lying side by side, facing each other. His fingers stroked lazily over her arm, causing goosebumps to rise up wherever he touched. He sighed again. "Bones, I …. We really do need to talk."

She nodded. "Okay." She stared at him, all wide-eyed anticipation, and he found he didn't quite know where to begin. He was still finding the proximity of her kiss-swollen lips to his pretty distracting.

"We need to talk about what's going to happen now. With us." She nodded again, silently. He got the sense that she was holding her breath. "These last few days have been…very emotional. For both of us. Losing Vincent, the showdown with Broadsky, the funeral. It's not that surprising that we would seek comfort from each other. I don't think I'm wrong in saying we've both been attracted to each other for a long time, and I guess it was probably inevitable that we would one day give in to that attraction. Especially when you add alcohol into the mix," he added, giving her a half-smile, but she just continued to gaze at him with rapt attention, desperate to know if his speech was leading to a rejection or an acceptance. "But if that's all it's gonna be, Bones, then it's gotta stop here. No more kissing, no more sex, no more anything. We pack up our things, fly back to America, and we'll just be two partners who hooked up once at a time of mutual sadness. I think our friendship can survive that."

She moved away from him, almost imperceptibly, but he noticed all the same. She finally moved her gaze away from his, looking instead at her own hands, where she was twirling her dolphin ring around and around on her finger. "If … if that's what you want," she said quietly. Suddenly she wanted to be anywhere but here.

"No, that's not what I want," he said, and her eyes shot back up to his again. "I want to make love to you every day for the rest of my life. Sometimes twice a day," he added in a low, sexy grumble that caused a rush of heat to her core. "But I can't do this halfway. I can't have a fling with you, I can't 'satisfy biological urges' with you. If we do this, I've got to go all in."

"All in? Is that a sports metaphor?"


"A gambling metaphor?" she asked, and they knew without talking about it that they were both replaying the same painful scene in their heads: I am not a gambler. I'm a scientist. I can't change. I don't know how.

"Bones," he said, taking her hand and moving closer, making up the small distance that she had put between them earlier. "I told you back then that I believed in giving us a shot because I was a gambler. It sounded right at the time, but the fact is that that makes it sound like taking a chance on us is something akin to gambling—self-destructive, unlikely to succeed. In reality, I think the opposite is true. It's this dance we're caught in that's self-destructive. But I'll keep doing it, Bones, and be grateful for it, if the alternative is not having you in my life at all."

Brennan's eyes filled with tears as she reached up and brushed his stubbly cheek with her hand. "I'm scared, Booth," she whispered. "I hurt you that night, and I don't think I'll ever forgive myself. I don't ever want to hurt you again."

"I know you better than anyone, Bones. I wouldn't have asked you if I didn't think you could do it."

They were silent for a long moment. Then Brennan asked, oh-so-quietly, "Booth? How do you know when you're in love?"

Booth smiled slightly. "I might not be the right person to ask, Bones. I've thought I was in love twice when really I just wanted to be. In truth, I've only ever been in love with one person."

"Oh." Another pause, then: "Booth?"

"Yeah, Bones?"

"Was that one person me?"

"Is, Bones. That one person is you."

"Booth?" He didn't answer her this time, just raised his eyebrows until she continued, an amused smile playing around the corners of his mouth. "I think I'm in love with you, too."

He smiled genuinely this time. "I'm glad to hear that, Bones."

"I think I'm ready to go all up with you."

"In, Bones. All in," he corrected.

"Yes, that. Booth—?" she began, but he cut her off with a kiss, and by the time they came up for air, she had forgotten her question.