AN: Just a fluffy oneshot I couldn't get out of my mind. They aren't mine, though it would be great fun if they were.
They were lying in bed, wrapped in each others' arms. The sweat had barely cooled from their bodies when she popped the question.
"When did you know you were in love with me?" Brennan asked.
"I want to know when you came to the conclusion that you were in love with me. You told me that from the beginning you knew, though I'm still uncertain about what exactly it was that you knew, but based on what I've learned from you about the whole concept of being in love, it seems extremely unlikely to fall in love with someone immediately."
"Sure felt that way to me," he threw in.
She threw him a look but continued as if he had said nothing. "You need to become acquainted with the person's personality and values and other aspects of their core character, which takes some time. I was just wondering when it was that you came to the realization that you had actually fallen in love. With me, that is."
Booth looked distinctly uncomfortable. He fidgeted a bit as he thought of a way to answer her. "I did know from the beginning," he said. "My gut just told me that you were the one. The one I was going to spend the rest of my life with. I've always felt that way, even when you were annoying the hell out of me."
"Yes, I realize that to an extent, but you've always said that love requires trust and understanding. You've also said that there's a spark, and yes, that spark was felt by both of us when we first met, but the other aspects of love are different. I will admit that I've always trusted you, even though I didn't always understand why I innately trusted you. But understanding requires knowledge, something that can only be acquired through spending time getting to know the other person, usually taking months or years."
"Yes, Bones, that's true," he said slowly as he walked his fingers across the little bump in her belly. He was still floundering for an appropriate answer; she really caught him off guard with her question and he had no idea what to tell her.
"Booth, why are you avoiding answering my question?"
He hesitated a moment before telling her what was weighing on his mind. "Because I kept a secret from you," he mumbled.
"Really?" She was intrigued that he had kept something from her and that he seemed so worried about disclosing it. He pretty much told her everything, and she was curious to know what kind of things he purposely kept secret from her. Normally she might have been worried or angry that he kept something from her, but at the moment she found it utterly impossible to feel anything other than blissfully content. Booth had magnificent hands.
He sighed. "Yeah. There's something I did that I never told you about, something that made me realize that I was in love with you."
"And you're worried about my reaction?" She had to work hard to hide her amusement from him—she loved to see him squirm. She was very interested to know what kind of secret made him so uncomfortable, especially since they were talking about love—something that he no longer had any reservations talking to her about.
"Well yeah. I don't lie to you, ever. And I don't keep secrets from you unless absolutely necessary."
"I know that. It's one of the many reasons I trust you." After another minute or two she asked, "Are you going to tell me what you did?"
"Yeah, of course. I just…" He stopped. He really didn't know what to say. This shouldn't be so hard, he told himself. It happened years ago.
She nudged his shoulder lightly. "A very smart man I know frequently tells me that the truth will set you free," she said.
He smiled at that. "Really? Do I know this 'very smart man'?"
"Yes, you do," she said as she began running her fingers through his soft hair. "He's also compassionate, honorable, charming, extremely well structured, and very affectionate. And he's all mine," she finished with a kiss.
Booth groaned into their increasingly passionate kiss. "Sounds to me like you love him," he said a little breathlessly as he broke away.
"I do," she said with a smile. "I have for a while. And he loves me, though I'm still trying to discover how long he's been in love with me."
He leaned in and kissed her deeply. "I've always loved you," he said fervently. "I have. Even when I didn't know that I was in love with you, I loved you."
"I don't see how that's possible."
"Oh trust me, it is."
"But it doesn't make any sense."
"It doesn't have to. There was a time when you didn't believe in love. Yet here you are, in bed with me and having an in-depth conversation about it." He brought his lips next to her ear and whispered, "Just because you don't understand something doesn't mean it's any less real or true," and placed a soft kiss under her ear.
"I see your point," she breathed as a shiver ran through her body.
He smiled and gave her another long, passionate kiss on the lips. "The feelings were there, Bones. Always. They didn't have to be labeled 'love' for me to feel them. I didn't really understand that it was love I was feeling until-" He stopped again, unsure how to continue.
"Until… Come on, Booth. What's this big secret? I promise not to laugh, if that's what you're worried about."
"I'm more worried you'll yell at me," he said, mostly to himself. He found it very difficult to look her in the eye, and began drawing his fingers in patterns across her stomach. He huffed out a sigh. "Fine. I realized that I was in love with you the first time I…" He mumbled something unintelligible.
"What was that? I didn't understand you." She was getting increasingly frustrated with all the delay in getting an answer to what should be a fairly simple question. "Booooth," she whined, "just tell me, what's the big deal?"
"The first time I saved your life," he repeated. He inwardly cringed at the words he chose, wondering if she'd object to him speaking about her like some kind of damsel in distress. Booth had been extra careful lately not to do anything to send her into a hormonally-driven mood swing. He'd inadvertently caused quite a few of those in recent weeks, leading to a lot of tears and angry tirades. He was doing everything in his power to prevent any more.
"You mean from Kenton? Where's the secret in that?" she asked, though she was secretly amazed that he had been in love with her for so long.
"That wasn't the first time," he said softly.
"I said that wasn't the first time I saved your life," he said, watching his fingers as they moved across the skin of her abdomen. "There was a case we had a little while before that, with two immigrants who were buried in a vegetable garden, do you remember?"
"Yes, of course," she said. "I remember all of our cases."
"Do you remember taking down the head of Mara Muerte at the Hoover building?"
She smiled. "Yes, I do. It was quite satisfying."
Normally he would have chuckled at her happiness in kicking some ass, but he was still dwelling on the fear and anger that took over when he heard about the hit the gang leader put out on his partner. Even though it was so long ago, he still shuddered at the thought of anyone trying to kill her. He hated thinking about any of the frequent times her life was in danger.
"Yeah, well he didn't think so. A few days after that I was informed that he put a hit out on you. When they told me, I knew that I had to take care of it immediately. Mind you, there are a couple of ways something like that can be taken care of. Usually you go through the Bureau's gang unit to get the hit resolved—you make some kind of deal with the gang or put pressure on them to persuade them to call it off. If that doesn't work you might go through another agency, you could plant a mole, or do any number of accepted and legal actions to resolve the problem. Worst case scenario is witness protection. I didn't even consider any of those options; protocol was probably the last thing on my mind. Once it sunk in that that bastard wanted you dead, I was so… pissed. It was all I could think about. I absolutely had to take care of it myself. I needed to look in his eyes and be sure that the hit would be called off—I wasn't taking any chances with your life.
"The next morning I went to find him. I sat in my car for hours waiting for him to show himself. When he did, I got him alone in an alleyway and forced my gun into his mouth. I told in him no uncertain terms that if anything happened to you I would kill him without a second thought, and he got the message loud and clear. When I was sure he understood how serious I was, when I was completely certain he would call it off, only then could I leave. But as I was about to go, I turned back. I almost killed him right then and there just for threatening you, but I knew that I needed him alive to call off the hit, so I walked away. It wasn't until I was in my car and driving away that it really hit me what I had done, and what I could have done. I thought seriously about what led me to do something that would get me suspended or worse if anyone found out. I had to consider why absolutely nothing else would have been sufficient to convince me you'd be safe. I realized that it was because on some level I already knew that there was no way I could live without you. Once I understood that, I stopped to think about how I really felt about you. I had never sat down and thought about it before, except to tell myself to ignore the attraction I felt toward you because it was distracting. It didn't take a long time to put the pieces together. After a few minutes just thinking about you it wasn't hard to figure out that the reason I couldn't live without you was because I was in love with you.
"It had been kind of overwhelming to be hit with that realization; it was like something kicked me in the head. I had heard of being 'blindsided by my subconscious' before, but actually feeling it is really intense and confusing."
There was a long silence between them before she was able to respond. "So that's why you missed the funeral," she murmured.
"Yeah. It's also why I couldn't really bring myself to feel bad about missing it even though I knew you'd probably be mad at me for being so late. I was so relieved that you were safe and still reeling from my epiphany in the car that I could barely keep it together when I got there."
Neither said anything for a few moments, and Booth was getting increasingly anxious to know what she was thinking. "Are you mad?" he asked.
She pressed a kiss to the closest bit of him she could get to from her position. "No, of course not. I probably would have been if I found out back then. I was so certain that I could take care of myself and I really didn't appreciate or particularly care for your protective tendencies. But right now, I feel grateful that you did that. I was rather… abrasive at the beginning of our partnership. I think I'm a little surprised that I had inspired such loyalty and protectiveness so soon." She paused. "Or…"
"Yes," she admitted. "It's amazing to me that you loved me after only a few months of working with me. To be perfectly honest, sometimes it still amazes me that you love me even now. But—mmph"
He cut her off with a searing kiss. "I love you, Bones. Always. Never doubt that," he said against her lips and kissed her again with everything he felt for her. There was a part of him that understood how she felt. There were so many moments when he had to convince himself that the life he was living was real. Getting everything you ever wanted can have that effect on a person. But there was also a part of him that was angry. Angry with everyone and everything in her life that conspired to make her feel like no one could love her or that she was incapable of love. "Look at me, Bones. With every breath, every look, every touch, every move I make, I will show you I love you. Every day I'll give you more proof of how much you're loved, it's something you never have to question."
She took a moment to think about what he said, then timidly asked, "How can you be sure?" At the look in his eyes she hurried to reassure him. "I'm not questioning whether you love me, but judging by how my own feelings towards you have grown and evolved drastically in the time I've known you, I believe it's safe to assume your own feelings would have undergone some sort of change in the years since you decided you love me. How do you know if it was love then if those feelings have changed?"
"Well yeah, of course they have changed; they grew, they evolved, just like you said. But that doesn't mean I didn't love you then—how I feel about you now is the same feeling, only… more. Every day you give me new reasons to love you. Every day I fall in love with you a little more. I mean yeah, that sounds cheesy, but it's still true. Even though I know I love you right now with everything in me, I know that tomorrow I'll love you even more than I do today."
She snorted softly. Logically she knew that no one could know what the next day would bring, but there was just something inside her that could not doubt that Booth would still love her tomorrow, that he might even love her more in the future than he does already. "You can't possibly know how you'll feel tomorrow."
"Sure I can."
He gave her the smile reserved only for her. "Experience," he said before diving in for another kiss.
They continued kissing for a short while before he pulled back with a contented and mischievous grin on his face. "So let me ask you something, Bones. If you're so amazed that I've loved you from the very beginning, or— " he cut her off before she could object, "that I realized that I loved you only a few months into our partnership, then about when did you think I had fallen in love with you?" he asked, sucking lightly on her collarbone.
"I'm not sure really. I only started wondering about it recently, but I was thinking it would have been some time nearer to getting shot by Pam Nunan."
Booth snorted at that, but he couldn't really voice his thoughts because he was too busy kissing her neck and touching everywhere he could reach.
She moaned in appreciation of what he was doing. "Though I must admit, there are quite a few things that make more sense to me now," she added breathlessly.
That got his attention and he pulled back a bit. "Like what?" Despite his interest in what she had to say, he couldn't keep his mouth off her delicious body for long and continued pressing open-mouthed kisses all over her while she spoke.
"Well, you risked your career for me in New Orleans by stealing my mother's earring from the crime scene and giving it back to me. You delayed Russ' arrest to give him time with Haley at the hospital. You vouched for him after his arrest even though you knew it would get you into trouble with Caroline. You—" she moaned when he sucked on a particularly sensitive spot on her collarbone. "You interfered with all of my dates." He chuckled against her neck at that, and the vibrations against her skin made her moan again.
"But there are other things that don't make sense." She said.
"Oh yeah?" he said as he kissed his way down her chest.
"Yeah," she said breathlessly. "Like the line, and telling me to sail away with Sully, and mmmm," she moaned into his mouth as he cut off her questions with a hot, wet kiss.
"Bones, love makes people do crazy things. I wanted you safe and I wanted you happy. I did whatever I could to make that happen. I still do. It's just that for a long while I wasn't convinced I could be the one to give you the life I know you deserve."
"But you know better now, right?"
"Oh yeah," he said, and went back to kissing his beautiful partner, effectively ending all intelligent conversation for the next few hours.
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