They had five more days alone and although they began the next morning almost hyper-aware of each other, the awkwardness quickly disappeared because the simple truth was that although everything had changed, in reality, nothing had.
They were still the same people they had always been . . . the only people they could be . . . around the only person who didn't expect anything else.
They discovered that Jerrick had a friend who knew the reefs, so they rented a boat and finally went snorkeling. The day ended with Brennan lecturing the group of young Jamaicans on the preservation of the fragile coral and the marine life that called it home.
They spent an afternoon shopping for souvenirs for friends and family back home. Booth thought shell-covered kitsch was funny and Brennan's taste ran toward educational books on the island's history. After hours of arguing over whose idea was better, they each bought what they wanted.
When they went into Negril for dinner one evening, Brennan was recognized again, this time in a much more appropriate manner. Before long, she was surrounded by a friendly group of tourists who plied her with questions; to her annoyance, most of them were about Kathy and Andy despite her protests that the book was really about the forensics of the case. One brave soul ventured to ask Booth if he was the inspiration behind the fictional detective. Ignoring Brennan's immediate disavowal, Booth pushed his chair back on two legs and with a wide, self-satisfied smile replied that yes, yes indeed he was. Their audience was then treated to a tennis match of an argument as Brennan repeatedly denied having used him as the basis for any character and Booth, with a grin that grew ever larger, suggested that she try reading her own book.
In bed that night, he whispered in a voice full of laughter that it was okay if she wanted to call him Andy every once in a while.
She shoved him to the floor.
They spent long afternoons on the beach in the little cove.
Brennan insisted on sunbathing topless and Booth insisted she leave her top on. She called him a prude and he brought a blush to her cheeks when he listed several recent activities they'd indulged in as proof that he was anything but prudish. Then he gave in because, after all, she would do what she wanted, and besides, she did have beautiful breasts.
He got his way only once, when he rolled to his stomach and she offered to apply more sunscreen.
"You can't be topless and rub lotion all over me," he told her. "You might as well put on harem pants and feed me grapes, too."
Her eyes narrowed thoughtfully. "I could ask Magda if she knows where I could find a pair . . ."
God help him, he considered it for a minute, before he came to his senses and remembered where they were.
"Put your top on," he said instead, and dropped his head to his arms. "We can talk about the harem pants and grapes later."
She turned the application of sunscreen over his wide back into a massage, using her fingers and thumbs and her knowledge of the human body to tease out knots of stress he hadn't known were there. He groaned under her ministrations, so comfortable that he was soon at the edge of sleep.
He didn't know how long she'd been working on him when he realized she was sitting on his butt, leaning over as she dug into the heavy muscles of his shoulders.
"Are you comfortable sitting there?"
"mmm," she replied. "Your gluteus maximus isn't as developed as the rest of the muscles on your body. My seat is quite comfortable."
He resettled his head and had begun to plan ways to get more of these massages in the future when her words hit him.
His eyes popped open. He lifted his head and turned his face in her direction.
"Did you just tell me I have a flat ass?"
Oblivious to any insult she might have given, her hands traced his latissimus dorsi.
"No. I said it was underdeveloped."
He was outraged again. "I'll have you know I have never had any complaints about my ass."
Brennan shrugged nonchalantly. "Perhaps your former lovers weren't as familiar with human musculature as I am."
Growling low in his throat, Booth flipped over suddenly and sent her tumbling to the sand beside him.
"Did I say something wrong?"
He glared back, torn between frustration and unwilling laughter. Then he got to his feet, hoisted her up in a fireman's hold over his shoulder and, ignoring her squeals and protestations, waded out into the water. When it was waist high, he dropped her in. She came up sputtering and then jumped on him, forcing him off balance as the sand shifted beneath his feet and he fell, with her clinging to his chest, into the water.
Their playful antics soon drove them back to the shaded cool of their room, where they tumbled into bed. When her hand drifted low on his back, he grabbed her wrist and pinned it to the pillow high above her head.
"Uh uh," he mumbled, as his teeth scraped her neck. "My flat ass is still mad at you."
"Your flat ass doesn't have emotions." Her feet were locked together around his thighs and still she argued.
But he was Seeley Booth and he'd learned there was one fool-proof way to silence Temperance Brennan.
He kissed her.
Finally, it was their last night.
On the small balcony she stood in the circle of his arms one last time, watching the water and the moonlight. They were quiet, both thinking of the days just past and wondering about those to come. They were nervous and a little uncertain but ready nonetheless to find out if the tiny seed they'd nurtured in their island paradise would survive and flourish in the harsh reality of their daily lives.
Booth smiled into her hair. His arms tightened around her.
"Let's not go back."
And they laughed.
During the flight home, Brennan made several attempts to persuade him to go to the lab with her, earning a laugh when she responded to his questioning gaze with one word . . . "Angela."
"You don't have to worry about the lab," Booth said. "Angela will be camped out at your front door. Either that or she'll be waiting for us when we get off the plane."
Brennan shook her head. "I didn't share our flight schedule with her. She doesn't know when we're arriving."
He let out a sharp bark of laughter. "Ha! I guarantee you she's hacked into every airline with a flight from Jamaica today. She knows we're coming back."
Sure enough, no sooner had they cleared customs and entered the busy general public area of the terminal than they heard her voice calling out to them.
Caught behind a loud, chattering group of middle school children wearing Yellowstone National Park t-shirts, Angela struggled to get closer.
Booth spoke close to Brennan's ear. "Told you."
"Wait!" Angela's loud voice rang through the crowd.
"Don't make eye contact." He spoke out of the side of his mouth.
"I can see you holding hands!"
"Walk faster," Booth encouraged.
"Brennan!" Angela yelled, as she tried to push between between two large boys standing in her way.
Through the glass walls, Booth spied a long row of waiting taxis. He leaned over to Brennan. "Race you to a cab."
She cast one quick glance at Angela's frustrated progress, then nodded.
"Loser buys dinner." She took off toward the waiting cabs.
Angela was left frustrated in their wake.
Well, it's not really "The End" is it, because in this parallel universe they're only just beginning. And you know they will make each other angry and break each others heart and come back together again even stronger. Because they're Booth and Brennan, and they're the standard.
This was so much fun. I can't remember when I've rushed to open each and every review as quickly as I did your responses to this story. Thanks for letting me share this with you.