Seeing the Monuments

By: Lesera128 & dharmamonkey

Rated: M

Disclaimer: We still don't own anything...and it's still pretty obvious that we don't—at least to us. And, yes, our permanent mailing address has now been changed to the sandbox—you know which one.

Summary: Booth is honored for valor in Afghanistan at a formal banquet, Brennan attends, guilt rears its ugly head, and Booth has to resort to drastic measures in the limo on their ride home to get rid of Brennan's melancholy. Sequel to "When She Ran Away." Set during early season 6. Very AU, and very, very M.

A/N: This story is a sequel to "When She Ran Away." It's set approximately two weeks after the conclusion of that story. It was inspired, in part, by the opening ten minutes of the 1987 movie "No Way Out." Similarities between the opening scenes of that movie and this fic are most likely deliberate.~


Part V: Irrefutable Evidence


Brennan blinked at Booth once in response, not quite certain that what she thought she'd heard him say was actually what he said. The shock was clearly evident on her face as she considered his words. At last, in a slightly delayed response, Brennan asked him, "What?"

"Marry me," he said again, his breath catching in his throat. However, as he held her gaze he felt a warmth begin to grow in the pit of his stomach and quickly spread to the rest of his body. Nodding at her, he said firmly, "I want to marry you."

"What did you say?" she asked again, still looking at him as if he was speaking a foreign language that she'd never even heard before, let alone understood. "I-I...I'm sorry...but, what did you say?"

"I love you, Bones," he said, his voice thick with feeling. "I love you more than anything in the world. And, I want to wake up with you every morning and fall asleep with you in my arms every night. I want you to know I'll always be here for you, standing with you, standing next to you, standing up for you, from now and for the rest of our lives. I'm here, I'm not going anywhere, and I'll never leave you. I want you to be my wife, so—marry me, Bones. Marry me."

"Wait," she said, making a face contorted in painful confusion. Why would you ask me that, Booth? Out of all the possible things you could do or say, why would you ask me that question now? Why? I don't understandI just don't understand... "Wait, just please wait a minute."

"Bones," he said, almost too afraid to ask the next question because he wasn't sure how he'd handle the answer. "What is it?"

Shaking her head, she seemed to be struggling with a myriad of feelings and emotions as they randomly crossed her face. At last, she lifted her conflicted gaze to him and said, "I just—why would you bring that up now? What does that have to do with anything? Why would...I just don't understand, Booth. I don't understand."

Booth leaned forward and released her hand, then brought his hands up to cup her jaw, gently yet firmly pulling her face towards his. "You don't understand why I asked you to marry you, or you don't understand why I want to marry you in the first place?"

"Either," she gulped. "Or, both. I—"

" I love you, Bones, and if we've learned anything in the last year, having to be apart like we were, I like to think that it's that we know that we're better together than we are apart," he stopped and waited to make certain that he had her complete attention and understood the gravity of his words. When she stared at him, her lip trembling slightly, she nodded her silent agreement. "And I also think that if we've learned anything in the last month, it's that when we're together, really together, it's incredible the kind of happiness we can have, no matter what kind of craziness the world out there throws at us." He brought his lips to hers and kissed her in that moment to remind her of what was only a small fraction of the joy they'd shared in the past month. Closing his lips around her lower one, he teased it lightly with his tongue before reluctantly pulling away again. "I want to be your husband, Bones. I want to make you happy—tonight, tomorrow, and every day after that, for the rest of our lives, Bones." He kissed her again, this time letting his lips linger against hers as he felt them quiver beneath his touch. "Marry me."

"But—I don't understand," she said again, her mouth hanging slightly open as her breaths rose and fell jaggedly in response to his kiss and his sudden proposal. "Why?" she asked.

"Why?" Booth gasped with an awkward laugh. "Because—" He cocked his head to one side and looked at her with an unsuppressible grin. "Because you're my everything, Bones. Because you're the first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the last thing I think about before I fall asleep. Because I know that having you in my life makes me a better man than I would be without you. Because I know that, with you in my life, by my side, I'll be happy, no matter what happens around us. And because—well, not to sound too cocky or presumptuous about it, Bones, but—I have a pretty good feeling that the same is true for you." He brought his hand up and caressed the side of her face with the back of his hand. "I think I make you happy." He stopped and smiled at her. "Can you honestly tell me that I don't make you happy, Bones? Do you believe that your life is better with me in it, than it was before...or not?"

"Yes," she whispered. "Of course, you make me happy. You make me happier than I ever thought I could be, and I don't think I can possibly verbalize to you how much my life has improved because of knowing you, but—but, Booth, how can you be sure that, us staying together...being together...how can you be sure that I won't hurt you again?"

Booth stroked her cheekbone with his thumb and then gently brushed the underside of her chin with the flat of his fist. "I can't be sure about that, Bones," he shrugged, his eyebrows raised and an open-mouthed smile on his face. "People who love each other, who share their lives together as husband and wife—well, sometimes they hurt each other." He leaned in even closer so that his forehead touched hers. "In fact, hurting each other from time to time is almost inevitable."

He winced lightly when he heard Brennan's sharp intake of breath at his words.

"But—listen," he said, turning her face to his despite her attempt to move away from him. "The thing is, Bones, when you make a commitment to share your life with another person, you make a commitment that you'll work through difficulties, together, as a team. You...well, not to put too fine a point on it, but you just keep doing what we've already been doing for the past month—we stop running and confront whatever needs to be confronted and deal with it...together. And, Bones, if there's one thing that you and I are really good at, it's being a team. We can do anything together. I love you, Bones, and I believe in you, and I'd never give up on you, or on us—and I think you feel the same way about me. Right?"

"I-I..."

"Bones...it's an easy question," he said gently. "Don't make this more complicated than it needs to be. It's just a simple yes...or no. Do you feel the same way about me as I feel about you?"

"Yes, of course," she finally said. "But, Booth," she said, twisting a little against him but not pulling away. "I just don't understand. How can you know you want to marry me? We've only been in a relationship for a month, Booth."

He laughed softly, pulled away a little from her, and then lifted his head to kiss her on the forehead again. "Bones, we've been in a relationship for years. It's just that it took us five years to start having sex." He grinned. "Not that we haven't definitely made up for lost time in that department," he noted with a suggestive waggle of his eyebrows. "But, seriously, though—think about it. We've been close for years, right? We've always been good friends...probably best friends, if we were honest about it. Before that night at the Hoover, and all the crazy stuff that came after it—before that night, we spent almost all our time together. We ate most of our meals together, spent most of our days together, and even spent time together on our days off. We had keys to each other's apartments, I told Parker's school you were authorized to pick him up if for some reason if neither Rebecca nor I could, we have medical powers of attorney for each other. I know how you like your coffee, and you know which cereals I like best in the morning even if you hate their awesome sugary goodness. I buy that more expensive organic crap that you love at the more hoity toit store, and you've always kept a six-pack of Yuengling in your refrigerator for me before we were even dating. I know your favorite season is fall, and you know my favorite holiday is Christmas. We both know where all the skeletons are buried in our fucked-up family histories...and, mean, think about it. All that stuff? We may've just started, you know...sleeping together and calling ourselves an us, but we're not exactly like a couple who just started dating." He paused for a breath and then smiled at her. "We're more than that...so much more, Bones."

"Okay," she said with a slight nod at him. "That's true. But, you can't blame me for being suspicious of the timing of your proposal, Booth, coming when it did. I mean...how do I know you're not just proposing to assuage your own negative feelings that were raised by this evening's difficult discussion topics or to make me feel better since you know I've been upset because of said discussions?"

"What?" Booth shook his head incredulously. "Why would you even—?" He shook his head again and laughed. "Okay, Bones. God, you're a crazy woman sometimes...but, I'll play along. You want to know how you can know?"

She nodded her head at him in response.

"Okay, there here goes—you can know for certain because you know I'm smart enough to know that neither of those would even work."

Brennan looked at him blankly. "What?"

"First, I can't lie...in the past hour we've dealt with some pretty heavy shit, but...it's not like I don't feel about most of those things now the way I felt about those things this morning, you know. Those types of feelings don't just change on a dime like that...and, well... unless I'm missing something really important here, I don't get how me proposing to you would make me feel less any less guilty or what...feelings like those don't just go away. At best, me proposing to you would be a minor distraction in the grand scheme of things. So, that nixes that one right?" he asked her.

Brennan considered his words before she slowly nodded.

"Right," he said, cocking his head with a faint smile. "And, so...second, I think we both know that me asking you to marry me as a way of cheering you up would not, in fact, make you feel better—if anything, if you thought that's what I was actually doing, you'd give me one of your famous squint smackdowns, and we both know that I'd be toast." He grinned, then reached for her hands again. Looking up at her, his grin faded for a moment. "And third—well, this maybe the most important one of all...but, I think you know me well enough, Bones, to know I wouldn't just use the idea of marriage as some kind of pawn in a game of emotional chess. It means too much to me...you know that right?"

She thought about that for a minute before she nodded. "That's probably true," Brennan admitted. "But, still—"

"Bones?"

"Yes, Booth?" she replied softly.

"You know," he said quietly, a soft smile on his lips. "That underneath all this, whether I'm wearing all this get-up, or my standard-issue FBI suit, or sweats and an old T-shirt—I'm the same guy, right? The underlying architecture of who I am—it's all the same. The rest of this stuff," he gestured at the uniform as he continued, "it's just window dressing." He grinned at her, wondering if she remembered the conversation they had all those years before, sitting on the steps of the Jeffersonian with the squints eating lunch in the middle of the Cleo Eller case. "I'm still the same guy."

"Then why do you find it necessary to refer to yourself as a soldier?" Brennan suddenly asked him, her head snapping up to meet his gaze. Her eyes burned brightly as she asked the question, alerting Booth to some of the strong emotions that obviously prompted the question. "You've done it at least twice that I remember this evening, Booth—and not in a situation that required reference to your military background since you were just talking to me in both instances."

He thought about it for a moment and then nodded at her, knowing she needed him to be as honest as possible in that moment. "You'll probably think it foolish if I told you," he said.

"After all the things we've just covered in the past hour, I don't think there's much we can discuss that I would ever judge as foolish, Booth," Brennan replied simply.

"Okay," he nodded. "Well, here it is—I've really enjoyed the last month, you know, forgetting all about the stuff that happened to me back there," he explained. "But knowing I had to come here tonight, and swim in that pond one last time, I kinda had to psych myself up for it, so I could put myself in that soldier's mindset for just one more evening. Otherwise, I'd have gone nuts tonight, hearing all these guys talk all about PCS-ing here and redeploying FACs there. I guess I sorta got carried away with the role-play, and—" He let his voice trail off and smiled awkwardly. "I know it sounds dumb, but there it is—" He shrugged weakly.

"So, are you saying that the verbal syntax that you've used with me since the end of the ceremony is...what? Some type of remnant of this mindset that you needed to possess in order to function in tonight's social environment?" she asked, still not certain what he was trying to say to her.

Booth narrowed his eyes as he processed her words. "Yeah, basically," he admitted. "All the world's a stage, right, and all of us are merely players...and tonight, I had to play a soldier—just this one last time."

Sudden comprehension dawning on her face, Brennan winced as she clenched her fists and vehemently shook her head. "No—" she whispered. "No, Booth."

"What do you mean, 'no?'" he asked, confusion falling across his face. "Bones?"

"Don't you understand?" she said with a firm shake of her head "It doesn't work like that, Booth—it just doesn't, and that's what I've spent the entire conversation trying to tell you. You can't just pretend that your experiences in the Army aren't a part of you. They're with you all the time...they're with us all the time. Why can't you understand that?" She stopped and paused, still shaking her head. "If you can't understand that, then you'll never be able to understand...to see why I'm still scared? And, you'll never be able to see why I...why I can't give you the answer to the question that we both know you want?"

"Bones," he said, his voice low and soft. "I'm not saying those experiences aren't a part of me. But they aren't all of me. I'm more than just the sum of my Army experiences, alright? I'm still the same guy underneath all this dressy, jingle-jangle claptrap that I was before. I'm the same guy—" He again gestured to the uniform as he said, "This isn't who I am, and no matter how many times they try to pull me back in, they won't be able to. I'm me, and I'm here—the same I've always been."

"Why...why did you ask me to marry you right now, Booth?" she suddenly asked. "And, I don't mean...why do you want to marry me—but, why did you ask me that question right now?"

"Because I love you, Bones," he said, a plea tugging at the edges of his voice.

"I asked you for proof," she said, almost ignoring his response as she began to verbally reason out the answer to the question she'd asked him herself. "I told you that I needed irrefutable proof to combat the illogical and irrational fear I have that I'll do something to drive you back into the Army one day. Then...then you asked me to marry you." At that realization, at the connection she made in that moment, Brennan looked up to meet Booth's questioning gaze again. "Booth—you can't tell me that the timing of your question is pure coincidence. You can't tell me that the idea of marrying me didn't emerge because of something related to the fact that you were being confronted with the truths of your past as a soldier?"

"Why don't you believe me, Bones?" he asked. "Is it this?" He gestured towards the uniform jacket, with the dangling medals and sewn-on insignia of rank and term of service. "You've never doubted me before—I know you haven't. So, what's different now? Is it this—it it just this damn uniform that's making the disconnect for you? Because, if it is...that's stupid, Bones...it's ludicrous, really, because this is just a costume, Bones. It's not me. I'm still the same man underneath here as I was before tonight. I still the same guy who you've woke up next to every morning for the last month, who's loved you for years—I'm still me."

"I want to believe that," she told him, a bit of desperation creeping into her voice. "I do. Honestly and truly, I swear I do...but, after everything I've learned in the past few hours, can you blame me for feeling doubts, Booth? Can you blame me for doubting what I thought I knew this morning when I woke up next to you? I'm trying—I promise you, I'm trying as hard as I can to rectify everything I've learned, and what you've told me, with what I knew this morning, but...well— it's a lot to process. And, I just can't—I just can't help myself for wanting to question things...and, yes, that even means—as much as it pains me to admit this—why you would ask me that question now. I want to have faith in you, and us, and I'm trying, but I feel like I'm fighting a losing battle, Booth. I feel like I...I'm not certain I know what to believe anymore."

"You want proof?" he asked asked her. "Is that what you need, Bones? Is that it? Because, if it is...just say the word, and I'll give you proof you can believe in—proof I'm still that same guy I swear to God, Bones, I'm still the one they'll never take away from you—I'm still that man, that one you'll never be able to drive away I swear it."

Sighing in heavy exasperation a bit, completely drained as she was from their conversation, Brennan couldn't help it as a few silent tears welled up and escaped her eyes. "I-I... I don't know what I want anymore, Booth. I just—"

"That's not true," he whispered. "You know what you want...that's a given, Bones...a constant. You always know what you want, so just tell me—"

"I don't," she countered with a quiet sob escaping her mouth. "Every time...every time I've asked for something tonight, it's just turned out horribly wrong. I mean, I'm glad we've talked about what we've talked about because it needed to happen, but I just don't think I can handle anymore tonight. I just can't do it—"

Booth reached for her hand and, curling his fingers around hers, pulled them to his chest. He looked into her eyes and saw her pale gray eyes return his gaze, expectantly. Brushing aside the flap of his jacket and the rows of medals that dangled loosely from his lapel, he brought her fingers to rest against his chest, pressing them against his shirt so she could feel his heartbeat.

"I'm here, Bones," he said quietly, tucking his chin low and kissing the top of her hand as his heart beat against her fingertips. "I am not going anywhere. Nothing can drive me away from you—I'm right here, and I'm not going anywhere."

"I want to believe that," she said in between soft sobs. "I do, but—"

"I'm the same guy, Bones," he said again as he sat back against the seat and reached for the cuff of his jacket.

"I'm trying to believe that, Booth, really I am, but it's just so much to deal with...I don't know what to do anymore. I just—I'm just so...confused. I think I'm confused, Booth," she said, as she blinked away a few tears at the sudden realization. "I'm...confused? I...I-I'm not certain how it happened, but I...I-I...I think I'm confused, Booth."

"It's okay, baby," he whispered, his hand falling away from his cuff as he leaned in closer to her. "Shhhh..." His lips brushed against her shoulder once before he placed a feather-light kiss along the edge of her collarbone. "Don't be confused. I'm here, and you're here, and we're here together—and that's all that matters. That's all that will ever matter—us, just us." He placed another soft kiss on the top of her shoulder, then pulled away again. He sat back and looked at her, his face relaxing into a smile as he rolled his head to the side. "This—" Booth brought his hand up to her chin and rolled the flat of his fist under her chin. "This is all that matters, and all we need, you and me—and that's the proof." He pulled her chin towards his lips, very gently, holding her gaze for several long moments. Then he kissed her, softly and chastely. "This is it, Bones," he said as he sat back in his seat.

"What are you doing?" she murmured into his kiss, her voice still full of a soft and unspoken plea.

He smiled as he tugged at the cuffs of his uniform jacket and then, leaning forward slightly, shrugged out of it, one sleeve at a time. Relieved of his wool jacket, he carefully folded it in half and gently tossed it on the seat a few feet away. He arched his eyebrow as he watched a vague smile appear on Brennan's lips. He reached up and tugged gently on the loose ends of the black bow tie, letting the ends fall apart before sliding his finger between his collar and the tie to undo it completely.

"You said that you didn't want to ask for proof," he nodded at her. "So, I'm giving it to you so you don't have to ask for it."

"But—"

"No," he said with a shake of his head. "Trust me," he said softly.

She narrowed her eyes and watched him for a moment. He gave her a sheepish look as he reached for his shirt cuff but said nothing. Brennan narrowed her eyes and couldn't help herself as she smiled lightly. "You've done this before," she said, "but it's not going to work this time."

"What are you talking about?" he asked, dropping his hand away from his cuff as he looked at her.

"What do you think you're doing?" she asked him again.

"What does it look like?" he retorted in a husky voice.

"Nuh-uh," Brennan said through a small hiccup as she hastily wiped away some of her lingering tears from her wet cheeks, further smearing her mascara in the process. "I think you're trying to distract me," she said with a small smile.

"Maybe," he chuckled. "So what if I am? Is it working?" He waggled his eyebrows then reached one hand over the other to begin unfastening his cuff links. "You know, these things are sharp-looking as hell, but they're a real pain," he mumbled, looking up to briefly observe Brennan's glance before wiggling his left cuff link free from the cuff. He rolled the gold-toned cuff link between his fingers for a few seconds, then dropped it in his pocket before turning his attention to this other wrist. "Ahh," he sighed. "Better."

"Booth," she murmured, squirming a little in her seat as she watched him—and, as he'd hoped, she became slightly distracted from her earlier emotional distress.

"Something wrong there, Bones?" he asked with a crooked grin. He slid the other cuff link in his pocket and hastily rolled up his sleeves. "Better," he mumbled. "Much better." He reached up to unbutton the top two buttons of his shirt, then sat back languidly against the seat. Booth rolled his head to the side and looked at Brennan, his eyes coasting over her from her bare shoulders down to the gentle flare of her waist and—

"What are you doing, Booth?"

"Looking at you," he said lazily. "Because you look fantastic..."

"You seem awfully sure of yourself there, Booth," she said with an arch of her eyebrows. "So...I believe the appropriate question now is—what precisely is your goal in undressing in the back of this limo?"

"Well," he said, sliding a few inches closer to her. "I was just thinking that, since this damn limousine hasn't moved but ten feet in the last ten minutes, well, that I could show you that I'm still the same guy that you woke up with this morning. I haven't changed, Bones, and I'm not going anywhere...and if you need to see that, if you need to feel that, then that's okay—we can do that...that is, if you're okay with that?"

"I...I'm not certain," she said, her voice still a bit hesitant, but the hopeful look in her eyes soothed Booth's disquiet over that hesitation. "What did you have in mind?" she finally asked softly.

"Mmmm," he murmured. "I was thinking I could show you how I really feel, you know—" He bit back a grin and added, "about you."

"Here?" she barely breathed. "Now?"

"Yes," he growled.

"But, I thought you said earlier that you hated the fact that I insisted we take the limo," Brennan teased him a bit.

"I changed my mind," he grinned sheepishly. "A man's allowed to change his mind about such things, especially under extenuating circumstances like this."

"Like what?" she asked. "What are those extenuating circumstances, Booth?"

"Well, those would be the ones where I'm trying to seduce you, Bones," he said as he reached around to unhook his cummerbund. He arched his back away from the seat, and after unfastening the last hook, pulled the cummerbund off. Tossing it onto the adjacent seat, where it landed on top of his uniform jacket, he shrugged. "Yeah, anytime I'm trying to seduce you is most definitely a very important set of extenuating circumstances." He flashed his brows with a provocative glint in his eyes. "Don't you think so?"

"Yes," Brennan replied, noting how the pitch of her own voice had dropped a little since he began removing his jacket.

Booth smirked and resumed unbuttoning his shirt, frowning a little as he neared his waist and felt how damp his shirt was. The cummerbund was fairly smart-looking, he supposed, but it didn't breathe worth a damn. "So, are you just going to sit there and watch, or what, Bones?"

"I was thinking of sitting here and watching," Brennan said with a hint of teasing in her voice. "Is that a problem?"

"I never thought you were really into the voyeuristic thing, Bones," he said. The thought then occurred to him that someone else other than Brennan might be watching. "Hey, buddy," he said to the driver, whose eyes immediately darted away from the rear-view mirror and back at the road. "Ahhh, pal," Booth called to him again. The driver looked up with a fleeting smirk but said nothing. "So, uh...how does this privacy thingy work, or what?" A minute later, the privacy screen went up and Booth turned to Brennan with a grin. "Ahhh, much better. Yeah, that's much, much better," he told her.

"Booth?" Brennan asked as her eyes traced over the curve of Booth's shoulders.

"Yeah, Bones?"

"So, you were saying earlier that you had some idea about how to prove to me that you were the same man I woke up with this morning, didn't you?" she asked him, her voice already a bit rough with desire.

"Yeah," he said as he slid his suspenders off his shoulders, slowly, one at a time. He looked up at her with a faint smile on his lips then jerked his shirt out of his trousers. "Proof," Booth grunted as he shrugged out of his shirt, which he hastily folded—so hastily, it could hardly be considered folding, really—and once again tossed in the direction of the nearby seat where his jacket lay. "Yeah," he murmured again as he raised his arms and peeled off his white tank-style T-shirt.

Brennan felt a warm, wet pulse between her legs at the sight of his tanned, hard, well-toned chest. "I find that I'm not feeling quite as confused as I was before, Booth," she said in a husky voice. "Maybe I do know what I want, after all."

"Oh?" he asked. "And what would that be?"

"I need to touch you," she said with a faint nod. "I need...I think..." her voice trailed off as she looked at his trousers. "I think I need you to be out of that goddamn uniform, Booth...and then I need to touch you." She licked her bottom lip, and then chewed it for a minute, before she nodded. "Can you handle that?"

"God, yes," he groaned.

As soon as he'd said the words, she moved far more quickly that either one of them had probably anticipated given the way her body was encased in the evening gown. Hiking the bottom of the dress up around her hips, she moved so that she was straddling him in his seat. She pressed her chest against his torso before she reached down and closed the last couple of inches between them as she reached for the waistband of his blue trousers. "Is there anything that you need to tell me about these uniform pants, Booth?" she breathed.

"No," he whispered.

"Because I remember the last time I tried to do this, and I couldn't get your damn ACUs off, and you said it was all my fault," she told him.

"I think," he choked, "you won't have any problem with these."

"Good," Brennan said. "Because I consider it not only a pleasure but my solemn duty to get you out of this damn uniform as quickly as possible, once and for all, for what'll hopefully be the last goddamn time." Booth made a sound somewhere between a laugh and a grunt as she unhooked the front of his trousers. Brennan noted a certain tenting in the front of his trousers as she reached for his zipper. "God, I hate your uniforms—I just absolutely fucking hate them."

"Then do something about it," he hissed.

"I suppose you're going to complain if I ask you to promise to never make me take another one off of you, right?' Brennan asked as she let her hand hover on the outside of his slacks. "You will, won't you?"

"I promise," he whispered. "God, Bones," he groaned, squirming a little as her hand continued to linger near his groin without actually touching him. He could feel the heat of her touch through the fabric unpleasantly stretched tightly over his crotch. He leaned his head back against the seat and swallowed. "I'll promise you whatever you want—just...come on," he whispered. "Please."

"So impatient," Brennan said as she slowly pulled down his fly. Her own patience began to fray rapidly as soon as she unzipped him, and he thrust his hips against her hand. "So impatient," she whispered again, laughing softly as she felt a shiver roll up her spine.

"Patience is overrated," he grunted, no longer able to take her teasing. Placing both hands on her hips, he firmly reached down and moved Brennan away from his lap. He gently shifted her into the empty seat next to him before he reached down and pulled his trousers off his hips and, after toeing off his brightly-shined shoes, leaving them in a soft crumple on the floor of the limousine. "Do you want me to be patient, Bones?" he asked her as he reached down to peel off his socks. "Because I think patience sucks...and I'm pretty certain if you want that proof that you'd think that too."

Brennan gulped and stared for a few moments at him as he sat beside her, nearly naked and clearly aroused. "No," she admitted. "You're right. Patience is over—" Her words were cut off when Booth leaned in and covered her mouth with his, and this time, she did not hesitate to open her lips to his tongue. She moaned softly into his kiss as she felt the palm of his hand slide along the outside of her thigh, over the swell of her hip and, pausing briefly to catch the round of her breast, up to the zipper of her dress. He fumbled a little to find the zipper pull, tucked away as it was under a subtly-hidden flap along the top hem of her dress, just below her armpit. Their tongues tangled once more before he pulled away, his breaths coming hard after their kiss.

"Women have it easy," he said between pants. "Men's formal clothing has too damn many moving parts." He briefly stroked his thumb over the arc of flesh between the top of her breast and her armpit. "But this," he said, grasping the zipper and steadily pulling it down. "This is perfect," he said, slowly dragging the zipper down to where it stopped, just below her hip. He smiled and reached up, peeling the sapphire material of the dress away from her.

She grinned at hearing him gasp. As he pulled the fabric away from her chest, he found a dark blue strapless teddy. "You like that, Booth?" she asked, a teasing lilt in her voice.

"Yeah," he whispered as he glanced at what the removal of her evening gown revealed with a small frown creasing his forehead, "but I might take back what I said about fewer moving parts."

Brennan was wearing a single piece dark blue teddy that was akin to a one-piece body suit. The bodice was made of crushed velvet and embroidered with dark blue thread in a pattern that emulated the lace that edged the built-in bra cups. While the teddy was unlike many of its traditional siblings in the fact that it was strapless, a stiff built-in underwire bra helped thrust Brennan's breasts up in imitation of a corset. The piece was really quite pretty, and for a moment, Booth admired it before a tug in his groin realized he'd like it a lot better when it was on the floor of the limo with the various pieces of his dress uniform. Blinking at it several times, Booth was at a loss of what to do as he stared at her and contemplated the confusing piece of lingerie.

"Damn, Bones—how in the hell do I take this thing off?" he muttered, the agitated confusion clearly bleeding into his voice.

Shaking his head, he recalled how he'd seen the garment sit on top of her dresser in a neat pile with the tags still on it for an entire week. I never thought such a simple little thing could be so fucking irritating, Booth thought to himself. He remembered walking from the bed to Brennan's bathroom after a mind-suckingly incredible roll between the sheets and stumbling a little in the dark—his natural dexterity still a bit off after the way he'd exploded inside of her just minutes earlier—before reaching for the dresser to steady his balance. Instead of grabbing the cool, hard walnut of the dresser's top, his fingers came to rest on a soft pile of fuzzy, embroidered fabric. He'd paused briefly to run his finger along the garment's underwire before Brennan's voice had called out to him to hurry up and get back in bed. He had considered saying something to her about it, asking her to try it on and model it for him—which modeling exercise he knew would end with a practical demonstration of how rapidly he could get her out of the garment again and flat on her back—but the next several nights they spent at his place, and so it wasn't until that moment in the limo that he saw it again. Staring at the garment, he chastised himself for not finagling a lesson on how to operate it when he had the chance.

"Bones? Ummm..."

Her eyes heavy-lidded already, Brennan said, "That is going to be a rather difficult task to accomplish logistically. There are hooks in the back—"

Moving his hand, Booth ran his fingers down the gentle curve of her spine, and, sure enough, he felt a series of eyehooks hidden underneath a smooth line of blue satin. Quirking an eyebrow at her, he shook his head as he said, "Okay, next question. How in the hell did you even get this on without any help?"

"Carefully," she murmured. "Very carefully."

Shaking his head again at her, he said, "I-I...I never thought I'd say this, but I'm kinda lost here, Bones. I don't know what to do."

Grabbing his hands, Brennan redirected his efforts from her back to the front. She pressed them in a soft line down her stomach and past her navel. "Given our current location, it would be imprudent to actually remove the teddy, Booth."

"But—?" he stared at her as if he were a child and she'd just stolen his lollipop from him or told him that Santa was dead. "But, I thought that we were, errr—"

Guiding his fingers down past her navel and towards the curve of her pubic bone, she hissed a bit as his fingers caressed the smooth material that was already slick because of her arousal. "There," she moaned, her eyes glazing over—this time, in no way because of the alcohol she'd consumed during the evening—as Booth finally felt the pads of his fingers run over another set of hooks. "There—right there," she moaned, arching her back a bit as she felt his fingers brush against her. "If you can—that is...there. Right there. If you can concentrate your efforts there...that should facilitate our goals without me having to remove the garment completely."

"Hmmm," Booth murmured, brushing his thumb across her most sensitive place, covered though it was in the silky indigo material. He felt her thigh tense against his forearm and couldn't suppress a smile at evoking her impassioned response. "I suppose that will do," he smirked, "though I was kind of hoping to get you naked tonight." He felt a tingle in his fingertips and a fierce tugging sensation behind his navel as he unhooked the suspenders that connected the lacy tops of her stockings to the bottom hem of her teddy. "Ohhh," he moaned as the slender, satiny straps fell away, leaving an open expanse of her smooth ivory skin available for stroking.

"That—" She gasped as his fingers slid up the sensitive inside of her thigh to her mound and plucked open the first of the teddy's lower hooks. "That can wait until we get home," she whispered, her breath catching in her throat as he snapped open the second hook. "Ohhh," she moaned, arching her hips into his hands as she rolled her head back. "Ohhhh..."

"You said you knew what you wanted now, Bones—so tell me. What do you want?" he whispered back, rolling his head back as he awaited her response.

"You," she said, sliding her open hand lightly over his forearm where she could feel the bulging veins that ran over his wrist before they seemed to vanish again under his muscles. She could feel his skin prickle under her touch as his smooth arms became dotted with goosebumps. "I-I...I told you...I want to feel you."

"Do you trust me?" he said in a low, even voice before sucking in a breath as she traced her fingers along his wrist and forearm. "Do you?"

"Yes," she moaned into him.

"No more doubts?" he pressed her. "No more skepticism?"

"No—" she breathed as Booth bent his head down and nuzzling the warm space between her breasts, pressing his thumb against her still-covered clit as he stroked his middle and ring fingers over the damp fabric between her legs. "Oh, God...never again."

"You're certain?" Booth whispered. "You're positive, Bones?" he asked, his lips vibrating against the tender skin of her chest. He opened his mouth and licked the cleft between her breasts, sighing at the sweet taste of her sweat.

"Yeesss," she moaned. "I've never been more certain of anyone or anything in my life."

"Great answer," he said as he moved his head up to kiss her again. There tongues dueled for several minutes, his hands continuing to play with her through the partial opening created when he'd unhooked about half of the teddy's clasps. "God, Bones—" he moaned into her kiss. "It's a good thing I didn't know what kind of sexy presents you had hidden under that ridiculously friggin' gorgeous gown of yours," he noted, pulling away from her chest to observe the way her pale gray eyes had darkened at his touch. "I'm pretty certain I wouldn't have stayed for the medal presentation," he grunted. "Hell...we might not've even made it there in the first place."

"Please, Booth," she suddenly moaned, twisting her hips as he toyed with her clit. "No more talking—" she whispered. "Enough...please."

She'd pressed her hips into his hand just as the limousine lunged forward.

"What the—?" Booth hissed, moving his hand to palm her belly. "We move sixty feet in sixty minutes," he growled, "and now we're fuckin' moving? Shit." He sighed and looked back at Brennan, whose chest, shoulders and face were flush with want, her breaths coming hard and unevenly as she stared back at him.

"Intercom," she mumbled, reaching for his wrist and pulling his hand back down to her center.

"What?" he asked, his brow crinkled in confusion. He winced, squirming against the leather seat as he felt himself get harder in response to her determined touch.

"The intercom button," she breathed. "Above the bar. Press it, and tell the driver to—"

Booth didn't wait for her to finish. He hunched forward and pressed the square black button over the speaker.

"Hey, pal," Booth said, his Philadelphia accent burning bright on the edges of his voice the same way it did when he talked to cab drivers.

"Yes, sir?" the driver answered smoothly. "Where would you like to go?"

"Show us the monuments," Booth replied vaguely, then released his finger from the intercom button and sat back against the seat.

"Sure thing, sir," the driver answered.

"Mmmm, thanks," Brennan mumbled with a lopsided smile as she felt Booth's fingers once more troubling with the remaining hooks on the lower portion of the teddy.

"Heh," he laughed. "Don't thank me," he said with a twinkle in his eye. Then, reconsidering his words as he fumbled to undo the remaining tiny hooks with his big, stubby fingertips, he amended, "Well, not quite yet, maybe...because, before I'm done, I'm really going to give you something that you can really thank me for there, Bones."

Brennan arched her back as he continued to tease her with his fingers. "Ohhh...that shouldn't be a problem," she said huskily, writhing against his hand as Booth stroked his fingers over the next hook but made no attempt to unfasten it. "Booth—"

"What do you want, Bones?" he whispered, biting down on his lip as another electric pulse of want coursed from the base of his spine to the tips of his toes. God, Bones, he thought silently. "You said you wanted to touch me, huh?" he asked, wincing as his own desire grew more and more intense. "To feel me?"

"Yes," she said, wriggling her hips against the seat as she felt the palm of his hand brushing against her mons. "Oh, Booth," she admitted quietly, sighing at his touch. "I want—"

"What do you want?" he asked.

"You," she repeated. "Ohhh...just you."

Booth grinned. "Why?" he asked, coasting his open hand over her mound and across the delicate skin where the top of her thigh met her hip.

Electrified by his feathery touch, Brennan squirmed again, her body reacting immediately to his caresses while her mind stumbled, a lightheaded sensation coming over her for a few seconds. "Why?" she repeated his question uncomprehendingly.

"Why do you want me?" he asked.

"Because—" she started to mumble. "Just because, Booth."

"Nah uh, Bones," he grinned back at her. "Not good enough. Tell me."

"Oh, fuck—" she breathed. "What...what was the question again?"

"Why...do...you...want...me?" he asked, punctuating each word with a sharp tap of his index finger against the remaining hooks of the teddy. "Or...why do you let me touch you this way when no other man can?"

She opened her eyes and fixed her gaze on his face, her glance skating across his sharply-hewn features before meeting his dark, gleaming eyes. "Because," she admitted, her voice scarcely more than a whisper.

"Because why?" he pressed her.

"Because, I love you," she said. "I love you, and I trust you, and I want you."

"Yes," he whispered back, dragging his thumb firmly across her clit before pinching another hook and unfastening it. "That's right," he murmured. "And because you know that I love you and trust you and want you with everything that I am, Bones."

"Yes," she agreed. "But, I think it's—ohhhh!" She felt herself squirm once more against his hand as she felt a flash of desire pulse from the base of her spine down her legs. "Oh, God...Booth—"

"Yeah, Bones?" he smirked at her, quite pleased with his handiwork.

"It's time for you to stop talking, Booth," she said, a familiar look coming into her eyes. "Now...right now."

"Hmmmmph," he grunted, pinching the last hook between his thumb and forefinger as he unfastened it with a firm slide of his thumb.

Now unfettered, the crotch of her teddy fell open, revealing to Booth's—and, as far as he could tell, to Brennan's—delight, the milky white skin of her lower abdomen and the damp curls that overlay her pulsing core. Booth groaned at the sight and felt a twinge as he noted an ache in his balls. "God, Bones," he whispered as their eyes met briefly. She sat up and scooted sideways so that she lay reclined against the seat cushion on the side of the limo, her legs spread lazily as she watched her partner, wondering what his next move would be.

Booth licked his lips and, in a movement so quick it took Brennan rather by surprise, he moved on top of her, supporting himself on one arm as he leaned in and kissed her. She opened her mouth to him as soon as she felt his warm lips brush against hers, sliding her tongue into his mouth and twirling against his tongue. He moaned into the kiss, emphasizing his want with a firm thrust of his hips against her thigh.

"Oh, Booth," she groaned as he broke the kiss, panting as she reached her hands around his narrow, bony hips and grasped his firm, muscular ass, pulling him against her and sighing at the feel of his erection against her curls. "Oh, God," she whispered again.

Booth flashed a cocky smile flashed at hearing the name of the divine cross his utterly non-believing partner's lips. "Not yet, baby," he said, wiggling his hips to induce her to let go of his ass. "Not quite yet," he whispered.

"Booth," she pleaded with a soft whine.

"Not yet," he said again, unable to conceal a lopsided grin. "I want you, too, Bones." He slipped his hand once more between her legs, threading his fingers through her damp curls before parting her folds with his middle finger. "You're so wet," he told her. "So damn wet—but, not quite yet, huh?"

"Yes," she hissed as he drew his finger across her slippery opening, gathering some of her own lubricant and sliding his fingers up to her clit. "Oh, yes," she whispered, unable at that moment to form anything resembling a coherent thought. "Please, Booth—" She gasped as he began to press on her clit in a circular motion, alternating between strong and light pressure, occasionally using his middle finger to gather a bit more of her fluid, all the while without interrupting the maddening pleasure of his movements. "Ohh...ohhh...ohhhh..."

"Mmmm," Booth hummed as he pulled his hand away suddenly.

Brennan's eyes flashed open, and she scowled at the loss of contact. "Nooooo," she whined outright this time, her forehead crinkled in frustration. "Booth—"

"Easy, baby," he whispered. "I'm not gonna let you down. Have I ever really let you down? I mean, really?" He moved over her again, hovering over her heaving chest as he leaned in to kiss her again. Her mouth grasped at his as she chased his tongue into his mouth, and he groaned from deep in his chest at the taste of her. "Ever?" he gasped, breaking their kiss.

"No," she confessed reluctantly, reaching up and holding his clean-shaven jaw between her hands. She pulled him in again for another wet, clutching kiss, which he returned enthusiastically, working his lips and tongue against her with a soft grunt before he broke away, his breaths falling in hard pants as he reached for the waistband of his boxers.

"That's right," he sighed as he slid his underwear off his hips and tossed them carelessly to the side, pressing his hands into the seat on either side of her heaving chest and lowering his head so he could feel the hard, uneven puffs of her breath against his cheek as he hovered his mouth over her ear.

"Yes," she whispered.

"That's right," he said again, his voice a mere murmur as he slid his lips over her chin and pressing light kisses along her neck. She rolled her head to the side, giving him unfettered access to her neck and shoulder. Her back arched sharply as the feathery ghosting of his lips over her skin gave way to a firm, wet and desperate sucking as he made his way back across her collarbone to the sensitive notch at the base of her neck.

"Ohhhh!" she cried as Booth stroked his rigid arousal in a circular motion around the rim of her opening. "Unnnnnnggth," she groaned as he pressed his swollen tip inside of her. She heard him sucking in a breath between his teeth as he threw his head back and pulled out again. "Boooooth," she moaned, her jaw tightening in frustration. "Please—"

"Huh," he grunted as he drew his hips back and drilled into her as deeply as he could in a single stroke. "Oh, my God," he hissed, his eyes rolling back into his head as he pulled out and thrust into her again. As he moved into her, the whole world around seemed to fall away. All he could feel was her wet, warm, tight folds as they parted and then surrounded him completely, and all he could see was the way her ivory shoulders, chest and face flushed a deep rose as he pressed into her. Her head rolled to the side, leaning against her shoulder as her eyes fluttered beneath closed lids, and her mouth fell open.

"Ohhh, Booth," Brennan moaned as he drove into her, his hips rolling back and forth in a rhythm that, with every stroke pushed her closer and closer to the edge as each of his movements laid a satisfying pressure against her clit.

"Oh, fuck," Booth said hoarsely. "You feel so fucking amazing." With each thrust, he noticed—with whatever tiny sliver of his mind was left to think with amid the slippery, warm, sucking sensation of driving in and out of her incredible pussy—how delicious the crushed velvet material felt as it dragged back and forth across the smooth skin of his navel. He pulled out and paused, his chest heaving as he looked down at her, her chest flushed a deep pink that contrasted against the dark blue velvet cups of her teddy. Booth reached down with one hand, grunting as he supported himself on the other, and began rubbing tight circles over her clit.

"Oh!" she gasped as her eyes snapped open. "Ahhh..ahhhhhh...ahhhhhh..." With each tiny rotation of his thumb, she felt herself spiraling in an ever-tighter gyre, and she was sure she could feel the threads connecting her rational mind and her physical body unraveling with each of his thumb's strokes. "Ohhhh, yes," she moaned, closing her eyes as she arched her back and pressed her hips against Booth's.

"Open your eyes, baby," he whispered as he relished the sight of his partner, dangling on the precipice. "I want to see your eyes when you come," he said. "Come on, Bones, stay with me. We're almost there. But, stay with me—just a little bit longer. Open your eyes, beautiful. Open them—please...you know I love seeing your eyes when you come."

Brennan looked up and stared into Booth's dark, dilated eyes, unable to suppress a smile of her own as he gazed down at her with a toothy, lopsided grin. "Okay," she whispered as his thumb began its rolling circles once more. It took only another half-dozen or so of those tiny circles before she felt herself begin to free-fall. "Oh, fuck, Booth—"

"That's it, baby," Booth husked, pulling his hand away and drawing his hips back before plowing back into her with a force that took Brennan by surprise. The moment he felt himself reseated inside of her, her muscles clenched against him and she trembled, a long, low groan passing from her lips as he looked up and saw her pale eyes darken one last time as she shattered around him. He took his next few strokes easily, despite the temptation to chase after her release, and he smiled as he saw her cheeks, flushed yet relaxed.

"Ohhhhh," she sighed, her heart still racing, a dull roar only slightly receding in her ears, and her entire body still tingling in the aftermath of her orgasm.

"So how was that, huh?" he asked with a grin, not waiting to hear her response before he began moving inside of her again. "Ohhh...mmmm," he murmured as he gathered momentum, each stroke driving into her harder and faster than the one that preceded it.

He rolled his hips back and forth as he thrust into her, his mouth hanging open, and his breath coming in pants as he felt himself galloping toward release. Brennan reached her hands up, sliding her palms up his sides and over his sweat-damp chest, cupping the round muscles of his shoulders and finally bringing her hands to rest on his biceps. That touch, so simple, did him in, and Booth pressed into her one last time, holding himself deep inside of her as felt his balls hitch moments before he broke.

"Ohhhh, Booth," she whispered as she felt his warm release coat her walls. "God..."

Booth exhaled loudly. "Hoooh, wow," he said with a laugh, pressing once more inside of her as if for emphasis. "Oh, my God, Bones—that was... that was so fucking hard..."

For some reason, a look of confusion marred Brennan's lovely post-orgasmic face as she frowned at Booth and ignored all but one of the words that Booth had spoken. "'Hooah'?" Brennan said as she arched an eyebrow. "You just had sex with me, and you're using Army terminology to describe the way you feel afterwards?" She tilted her head, stared at him for a minute...and then shook her head. "If I didn't think it before, I certainly do now. We've definitely got to get you out of the Army before this starts to affect our sex life. Before I know it you'll be using acronyms."

"What?" Booth blurted. "What are you talking about?" He was certain he'd misheard her in his own post-orgasmic mental fog.

"Isn't 'hooah' that little shibboleth that you and Captain Robinson exchanged when we were talking to him earlier tonight?" she asked him.

"Wait," Booth said, taking a deep breath as he slipped out of her, hissing a little at the sensation as he fell against the seat back on the other side of the limo. He shivered a little at feeling the limo's air conditioning vent blast cold air against his sweaty skin. "I said 'hoooh' just now, not 'hooah.' It's completely different there, Bones."

"They sound quite similar to me," she said, scooting along the seat to bring herself into an upright sitting position.

Booth chuckled. "Wait a sec, alright? 'Hooah' is—well, it's kind of difficult to explain, really, but it's a battle cry—the kind of thing you yell as you're about to leave a position of cover and run into battle, right?" I can't believe I just had one of the best orgasms of my life, and I've barely caught my breath, and she's got me explaining Army lingo.

"Why?" she asked him.

"Well, I dunno, Bones—" he blinked at her once before he swallowed. "I mean, it actually started as an acronym I think...it can mean a lot of things...but one of the more common ones is 'heard, understood, and acknowledged'—but, it can mean more than that, too."

"So, you were actually using acronyms while you're in bed with me, proverbially that is," she grinned at him.

He resisted the urge to roll his eyes at her. "I said that's one of the things it can mean, Bones—but there are others... look, it's just kinda evolved into the sort of thing soldiers say to each other. Like I said, it's kinda hard to explain, but if you're talking about something that's really cool or well-executed or another soldier that's really squared away, you'd say, 'hooah.' You know what I mean?" He raised his eyebrows expectantly. "And, for the record, that's most definitely not what I said to you after I came."

"Okay," Brennan said as she shrugged her shoulders playfully. "If you say so."

"Stop teasing me," Booth said, reaching up and closing the A/C vent as he glanced over at Brennan. He wagged his finger at her and said, "Otherwise, I'll ask our good driver there to take us back across the bridge into Arlington so that I can remind you that turnabout is fairplay, Bones." Threading his fingers through the damp hair on the top of his head, he looked out the window and smiled at the sight of the Lincoln Memorial passing by. "Heh," he said, mostly to himself. "But, as it is, if that's not good timing, I don't know what is—so there you go."

"Yes," Brennan said quietly. She glanced out the window, saw to what he was referring, and then said, "Booth?"

"Yeah, Bones?"

"Can you move a little, please?" she asked.

Noticing the shift in her demeanor, Booth wondered if he'd been more stupid than smart to point out the Lincoln Memorial and the spot that wasn't that far away from the coffee cart where, in a way, so much between them had began.

"Okay," he nodded.

Rolling away from her a bit, he watched as Brennan scrambled and hit the intercom button above the bar.

"Paul?" she asked, somewhat surprising Booth when she used what was obviously the driver's first name.

"Yes, Dr. Brennan?"

"Can you find someplace to park the limo for a few minutes so we can see the Lincoln Memorial with as unobstructed a view as possible?" she asked.

"Of course, Dr. Brennan," the voice came over the intercom.

"Thank you, Paul," Brennan said as she flicked off the intercom with the press of a button.

A couple of minutes later, Brennan had shifted slightly in the back seat, adjusting the clasps on her teddy and shifting her breasts into a more comfortable position as she watch Booth struggle into his boxers. Gesturing at him with her finger, she smiled as she said, "Come here."

"Isn't that my line?" Booth asked.

"Whatever," Brennan said. "I have a question I want to ask you."

"What?" Booth chuckled as he slid closer to her. "You want to pop the question to me now or something, Bones?"

Brennan blinked at him several times and then slowly shook her head. "No, but I did want to talk about why you proposed to me earlier."

"Oh," Booth said, becoming a bit self-conscious as he murmured, "I, uhhh...yeah, about that, Bones—"

"Did you mean it?" she asked, her voice soft as she spoke.

"Yeah, Bones," he said, taking a short breath to collect himself. "I meant it. I think we should get married."

"Had you planned on asking me that question tonight when you did?" she asked, continuing her questioning of him.

Booth nibbled his lip for a moment. "No," he admitted. "But it's something I've been thinking about asking you. I mean, I love you, and I want to be with you."

"Since when?" Brennan asked. "How long have you been contemplating asking me that question?" She stopped and then clarified, "And, although I love you for it, I suppose I need to clarify—how long have you been contemplating the idea as a serious and realistic possibility as opposed to an optimistic desire or hope?"

"Well," he began tentatively. "I think I first really thought about it, like for real, not just some kind of a vague wish, you know—on the way home from work a couple of weeks ago. I was driving home, knowing you were going to be meeting me there, and I was really liking the idea of coming home to you, and how I wished I could have that every night."

"And, so you asking me that question tonight has more to do with that desire than offering me the solid evidence that I told you I would need to make me feel more secure about how things stand between us in as far as what's happened with your experiences with and commitment to the Army?" she continued.

A vague smile flashed across Booth's lips. "Now, wait a second," he said gently. "Evidence, you know, all those facts and probative details you like, they exist independently from the things you use them to prove, right? In fact, if they didn't—if the facts only arose once you needed them to prove something, then they're really not any good as probative evidence, are they? I want to marry you. I wanted to marry you, and had been thinking of how nice it'd be to be married to you, before you asked me to give you evidence that would make you feel more secure about the way things are between us. And the fact that I've been thinking about all that before you ever asked me about it—well, I think that should make you feel even better about that being good evidence, you know?"

Booth leaned forward and reached for his T-shirt and trousers, glancing up at her with a smile as he awaited her reply.

"I suppose...but, it won't be easy, Booth," Brennan said. "If we do this—it's going to be difficult on so many levels...and I don't just mean in the logistical sense of us figuring out how to blend personal and professional and keep things at work at work and keep things at home at home."

"Bones," he said with a smile. "Even if we didn't get married, we'd have to figure that out if we decided to be together. So, from that standpoint, it's not an added burden, right?"

"That's a valid point, but marriage raises other issues, Booth, and before I give you an answer, I need to know a few more answers from you. Is that okay?" she tilted her head at him in askance.

"Of course, Bones," he said with a smile, trying to contain his excitement that maybe, just maybe, she'd be willing to do what he had long hoped but never really expected her to do.

"I have no doubt that between the two of us, the issue of the FBI's fraternization policy is a rather small obstacle in the grand scheme of things. I'm not worried about that. But, what about my other work?" she responded. "Dealing with that as my partner is one thing, but you having to deal with that as my husband would be something else entirely."

Booth furrowed his brow. "What do you mean?"

"If we were to get married, I—you know how important my career is to me, right?" she replied.

"Yes, of course," he said quickly, a slight trepidation edging into his voice that he hoped Brennan didn't notice.

"What about my field work?" Brennan asked with a tilt of her head. "Are you really going to be comfortable for me being gone for spans of time? Now, I'm not saying that I would do something stupid like make a year-long commitment, but during field season in the summer...I wouldn't be maintaining my skill set if I didn't participate in some shorter term projects...and I need to know that I'd be able to do that and that you'd be okay with me doing that."

Booth looked down at his lap, nodded to himself and then looked up at her again. "Yeah," he said. "I'd be okay with that. Maybe once in a while I could come join you—maybe learn some squint-skills? Or just visit?"

"You'd be bored out of your proverbial skull," Brennan said as she eyed him curiously. "Even I know your opinion about...I believe you've described it before in the past as me 'playing in the dirt.'"

"Well," he said with a laugh, realizing that he'd been busted. "Maybe I'd benefit from expanding my horizons." He winked at her. "But, hey, we can figure all that out. So, the answer to your question is—yeah, whether I ever went with you or not, I'd be okay if you went on digs once in a while." He stopped as a thought occurred to him. "Not too long, though—right? No more year-long marathons to find the missing link, right?"

"Barring the occasional request from the UN or other such extra-governmental agencies that you can never tell when they may arise, the normal anthropological field season in countries north of the equator to timed to coincide with the late spring and summer months for a approximately a three-month period between mid-May and mid-August, Booth," Brennan explained. "Now, while it's true that not all sites adhere to such schedules, it is fairly common because of the demands of the academic calendar year."

"So, this is your way of telling me how you want to spend you summer vacations, huh?" Booth joked.

Brennan made a slight face at his joke, and Booth's smile grew wider.

"Well, maybe we can consider allowing a, heh, conjugal visit once a month or so—but, you know, whatever you want, Bones—I'll support you in it. I know we can handle it." He smiled and added, "I'd never want to keep you from your work, Bones. I'd never ask that of you. You know that, right?"

Brennan arched an eyebrow at him as she said, "I know, that, Booth." She stopped and then added with a sly look in her eyes, "But, what I don't understand is why is it that men must reduce every serious discussion to sex, Booth?"

"I was making a joke, Bones," he said, a little defensively. "I just meant, if you were gonna be gone all summer, it'd be nice to see you every month or so. To enjoy your company, you know? And, not just in the biblical sense."

Wagging her finger at him, she smiled a bit as she said, "You were only half-kidding... at best. I know you better than that, Booth, so come on—admit it."

"Fine," he chuckled, his defensiveness immediately disappearing. "You're right. I was only half-kidding. But, it's your fault, really. You drive me so crazy with your epically hot body, you can't blame me for dreading a whole summer without having a chance to go at it even one time."

"Booth?" she asked, her voice becoming serious again.

"Yeah, Bones?" he responded, lazily drawing a light line on her bare arm that was giving her goosebumps again.

"You know there would be times when I'm not as sexually appealing as you find me now?" she questioned him.

"Like when?" he asked, his eyes coming to meet hers in an honest stare. "I can't imagine a time when I'd ever find you less appealing than I find you now. Never."

"And...what about children?" Brennan asked suddenly. "When I'm pregnant, I wouldn't be as attractive as I am now. And...well, you know that...you know we've discussed the subject of procreating once before when I asked for you to make a sperm donation that I could use to be artificially inseminated. Now, if anything, my opinions on the matter haven't changed at all, Booth. I want to have children...preferably, your children And, since I'm even older now, time would be of the essence since pregnancies over the age of thirty-five are automatically regarded as high-risk pregnancies."

Booth felt his heart nearly jump out of his chest at her words. Really? Does she really mean what I think she means? "Bones," he said, his voice a little lower than before. "When you're pregnant, you're gonna be more beautiful than ever. I know you don't believe me, and you probably won't believe me when the time comes, but I can't think of anything that I'd think was more gorgeous than you when you were carrying our child." He shook his head and grinned. "That'd be the most beautiful thing ever."

"So that means that your opinion on the matter would be best verbalized as..." she prompted him, tilting her head at him as she awaited his response.

"How about... 'When can we start?'" he quipped.

She stared at him in that moment, still uncertain what to make of his response.

"Seriously, Bones?" he asked, suddenly uncertain how she couldn't possibly understand his response. "Us being married and having babies? My opinion on that matter is...it'd be a dream come true and everything I've ever wanted in life."

"These are all matters that need to be considered, Booth," Brennan said. "One event logically leads to another, so it must be contemplated in its entirety."

"I want all those things, Bones," he said. "I want to be your husband, to live my life with you, my amazing anthropologist wife, who goes away once in a while to play in the dirt for the summer but who lets me come and visit for a couple of weekends just so I don't lose my mind missing her. I want to make babies with you, and raise children with you—and, if we can convince the FBI that they'd be fucking nuts to break up their best homicide-solving team ever, keep catching bad guys with you. I want it all, Bones—and I want it with you."

"But...while most men can find the idea of procreating after the age of 40 to be a sign of virility, I know that some men also find the idea of having additional children as something that triggers the proverbial mid-life crisis, particularly since you already have a son that's approached adolescence. In effect, you'd be starting what psychologists sometimes refer to as the 'second family'. Are you certain you're okay with that? Having two additional children at your age would mean that they wouldn't be of legal age until when you were approaching the age of 60—" Brennan let her voice trail off.

Booth shook his head and laughed. "A man in his 40s and 50s can raise kids just fine," he said. "I was raised by my grandfather, who was older when he had me and Jared running around his house than I will be when our kids get to be teenagers. So, yeah—I'm okay with that."

"So you don't object to the idea of more than one child, because you know how I've always felt about procreating in multiples. It just makes more logical sense," Brennan told him. She stopped and then said, "See, Booth? It's a lot to consider."

If I'm dreaming, Booth thought, please don't wake me up.

"I want as many babies with you as you're willing to have," he said with a lopsided grin. "A whole house full of kids. Little baby Boneses, running around the house."

"Logistically, while that idea is quite picturesque, it would be quite difficult to achieve since I know that you're going to be difficult about the merging of our financial resources," Brennan said. "And what about that, Booth? You can't honestly tell me that you'll ever be comfortable with the fact that I'm in a higher income bracket than you are."

Well, that's a little bit of a buzzkill, Booth thought sourly.

"Comfortable?" he asked. "Look, it'd be a little awkward, you being the more highly-compensated person in the relationship, 'cause I never really thought I'd be in that kind of position. But I could get used to it—I'd try, Bones. I swear...as long as I get to contribute my fair share to the household."

"Somehow I find that very difficult to believe, Booth—are you honestly telling me you'd get to the point where you'd ever feel comfortable using a debit card that was drawn on a joint account, even if most of the money was it in because of my salary or honoraria, etc?" Brennan asked. "To say nothing of my writing—"

"Well," Booth began. "I'd like to think—"

"Then, that raises the completely other issue of how to handle the publicity that our marriage would raise in the press," Brennan said, almost completely ignoring Booth's answer. "And, are you prepared to deal with the questions we're going to get? Because, if you think the questions about you being Andy Lister were bad before—" Brennan shook her head as she considered the way the press would be after her once news of their marriage became widely known.

"I'll be honest, Bones—"

"Of course, I'd like to think that you're always honest with me," she said as she made a small face at him.

At this interruption, Booth did roll his eyes. "Anyway, as I was saying, I kinda like flying under radar a bit—but if it's between dealing with a little news coverage of our marriage or not ever getting to marry you, I'll take the former any day of the week and twice on Sunday. Besides, once it's news, it'll only be news for a little while. People will read it and move on, right?"

"One could hope, but such thoughts are usually too optimistic in my opinion," Brennan said wryly.

"So, any other questions you want to sling at me in the micromanaging of our potential future, there, Bones?" Booth grinned. "Preferences on china patterns, sheet thread-counts, or what?"

Brennan shot him a look as she said, "I'm just trying to understand, Booth."

"I know," he said with a grin. "And I love you for it. But—Bones, sometimes, you can't anticipate everything. You've got to sometimes just go with the flow."

"I know that," she said. "I just—" She stopped and then looked up at him as she said, "Booth?"

"Yeah, Bones?"

"Do you really think we can do this?" she asked. "Really?"

"I think we can do anything we want to," he said slowly. "Don't you?"

"I think that—yes," she said again, her voice firm and clear. "We can do it."

"Wait, are you sure?" he asked, certain that she was not, in fact, referring to what he thought she was.

"I think I'm agreeing to your earlier proposition, Booth," Brennan said.

For several long seconds, Booth was sure he had stopped breathing. "What?" he croaked. "Are you serious?"

"Yes," she said. "Completely. I think I'd like for us to be married."

"Do you mean it?" he breathed, his body tense as he stared at her. "Really?"

Nodding, Brennan turned her body towards Booth. "That is...if you still want me?"

"Always," he said, not waiting a moment longer to hear her response as he pulled her into his embrace. "God, I love you."

"I love you, too, Booth—" she stopped talking, long enough to smile at him. "So...are we doing this?"

A bright smile shining on his face, he nodded as he said, "Yeah, Bones—we are...and it's just the beginning. You know that right?"

"Yes," she said. "I know that...just the beginning."

And, for them—it was


~The End~


A/N2: So, there you have it—the scintillating conclusion. Now, I hesitate to say this...because, well, I have before and then this fic was born...but, this is (most likely) the end of this particular story arc. We think we've taken it just about as far as it can go. Many thanks to all our readers (both seen and unseen)...but, one last time—with feeling...how about you'll let us know what you thought of how we wrapped things up? We hoped you've enjoyed it..and see you in the funny pages!~