Consider this a heartfelt thank you for all the support on my first fanfic foray! (Who doesn't love a little bit of aliteration?) Speaking of alerts and things, I will be updating some of the earlier chapters to get rid of some pesky typos. You may get emails when I do that; I suggest you ignore them.

Ladies and gentlemen, without further ado, I give you: the morning after. I hope you like it.


Brennan awoke to the smell of French roast and the feel of his weight on the edge of the pullout. It took her a moment to process everything that had happened in the past twenty-four hours, but it all came down to one simple and wonderful truth: I'm home. Her thoughts lingered briefly on the kisses and I-love-you's she'd shared with Booth before falling asleep, and she smiled to herself contentedly as she opened her eyes.

"Good Morning. Pleasant dreams?"

He knew that look; it usually made them late for work. God, I've missed that.

"That was quite the wake-up call you gave me there, Bones," he replied––as if his sensibilities had been offended––presenting her with a cup of freshly brewed coffee.

"Mmmm," she teased back, sitting up and taking his offering. "I believe we may have some unfinished busi––Booth!" Her eyes suddenly went wide. "What happened to your hands?"

His knuckles. He'd forgotten about his knuckles. To be honest, he'd pretty much blacked out everything that had happened up until the moment he'd woken up to find Bones in his arms. He'd been more than happy to simply bask in the glow of his family's return; he figured there would be time to deal with the rest later. It had been so easy to forget all the anger and heartbreak as he watched Bones and Christine sleep next to him or as he calmed his daughter when she started to fuss. He went about their morning routine in a domestic haze of satisfaction. Even changing Christine's diaper seemed like a pleasant task. He was back to doing all the things he was meant to do, from dealing with baby spit up to making Bones' coffee.

But it seemed the happy fog was about to lift. Leave it to Bones to latch on to this. Morning sex looked to be off the agenda.

"Oh, you know," he hedged. "It's not a big deal."

"Did you by any chance beat someone to death last night prior to my arrival?"

"Funny, Bones. Funny. I just got a little carried away with my late-night workout." He cast a sidelong glance at his punching bag in the corner. "Like I said. No big deal."

"Booth…" She put her mug on the side table and gently reached out to inspect his battered hands. "This is why you have protective gear, is it not?" It would have come off as a reproof, but her voice was as soft as her touch. Somehow she knew this was important, and the less he wanted to talk about it, the more she knew she was right.

"Yeah, but sometimes you just wanna hit something, Bones. You wanna feel what it's like to hit something. The gloves, they just get in the way." His fingers twitched slightly under the intensity of her gaze. She was examining him, trying to assess the damage, and he suddenly felt exceedingly vulnerable.

When she had satisfied herself that there was no structural damage or signs of infection, she turned her attention back to his face. It had a decidedly pained expression. He almost looked…ashamed.

"You were angry. Physical exertion can often serve as an outlet for strong emotions. I understand." She shrugged slightly, trying (and failing) to appear clinically detached.

"That sounds suspiciously like psychology, Bones." His attempt at lightening the mood fell flat, so he continued more matter-of-factly, "It doesn't mean I'm proud of it." He didn't like losing control like that, even if it was just beating the shit out of a punching bag.

"You did this because of me?" She was pretty sure she already knew the answer, but she still had to ask. Maybe it was the scientist in her.

He reclaimed one of his hands and dragged his fingers through his hair. "Look, Bones, I'm not gonna lie to you. The past few months haven't exactly been a walk in the park."

"I would imagine they were incredibly painful. Torture, even."

Way to be blunt, Bones.

"They weren't fun," he repeated, taking back his other hand and getting up to pace. "I didn't know where you were, if you were safe, when you were coming back, if you were coming back…I mean, Jesus Christ, Bones, you left me on the front steps of a fucking church minutes after our daughter's christening. How did you think I would feel?"

Shit. He hadn't meant to unload on her all at once; he had envisioned doing this with considerably more tact on his part. Tact was, after all, his area of expertise in their relationship. But once she got him going, it seemed he couldn't stop. What the hell, how much worse can I make this?

"I get it. I know why you did what you did. Hell, maybe you even did it for my benefit, but Bones, I swear to God, you almost broke me." He stopped pacing then, hands on his hips and a little out of breath from the torrent of words he had let loose.

She looked up at him silently from her seat on the bed, her blue eyes wet with tears. What could she say? The truth was she'd do it again, if she were faced with the same choices, and he knew it. All she could do was weather the storm. He said he loved her; that wasn't in doubt. He said he would get over it; she had to believe he would.

In the meantime, though, they still had Pelant to deal with, and that meant they needed to be at the top of their game. Now. She wasn't naïve enough to think they could get back to what they were in one conversation, but she had learned enough about being in a relationship to know ignoring what Booth had gone through, what she had done to him, would only make things worse.

She opened her mouth a few times to speak, only to close it again without uttering a word. They were stuck in some kind of silent standoff. Finally, she said the only thing she could think of to move the conversation forward. "What happened last night?"

She didn't argue with him or tell him her side of the story. She just asked him a question, and something about the simplicity of it sapped all the oomph out of his anger, like putting a pin to a balloon.

His body relaxed with a sigh and he reclaimed his seat on the edge of the pullout. This time it was his turn to take her hand. "I thought you'd come back once the charges were dropped, but then I got Max's message…"

"And it said we weren't," she finished for him. "I'm sorry. He should not have sent that without consulting me."

"What?" He was genuinely startled. "You mean he sent it without telling you?"

"He sent it before I even knew the charges had been dropped. Once he informed me of my change in status, I informed him that we were coming home. And here we are." She shrugged again. "Why? What did you think happened?"

"I-I don't know. I guess I thought you'd sent that message to throw Pelant off the scent."

"Well, that's why I didn't contact you again…" And then something clicked in her mind and she understood. "You thought I put you through that, through this," she said, bringing his wounded knuckles to her lips, "just to trick Pelant?"

"Sorta, yeah."

"Oh, Booth." She tucked her legs under her and kneeled beside him on the bed, cupping his face in her hands. "I know I've hurt you. I know you've been in terrible pain because of me, because of what I did, and I'm sorry you had to go through that. But I need you to know that I never wanted to hurt you, that I would never hurt you unless absolutely necessary, and that the moment I knew I could come home, I did. Okay?"

"Okay." He smiled through his tears, a real smile that made his brown eyes sparkle, and took her all in. "I am happy you're home, you know. Ecstatic, really. I just…I need time."

"Do you need time and space?" She gave him a sly grin, leaning in ever so slightly without waiting for an answer.

He chuckled ruefully. "No, Bones. I think I've had enough space to last me a lifetime."

When their lips met, they were transported to the wee hours of the morning, when they had reconnected, if only for a few minutes, before words and all-too-fresh pain had gotten in the way. They devoured each other feverishly, as though they could burn the months of anguish and loneliness from their memory with the strength of their passion.

When their respective T-shirts had been sent flying and Booth's mouth was making its way down to her breasts, her bra headed for the floor, Brennan had a flash. "Oh, no. No, no, no. What time is it?"

Seriously? Booth couldn't help groaning in frustration. He looked up at the clock. "Eight thirty. Why?"

"My father is supposed to come by to discuss your plans for my security."

Max was so not his favorite person right now. This is my goddamn security plan. "How much time do we have?"

"Maybe an hour."

"Okay then."

"Wait! Don't you need to go to work?"

"Sick day. And before you ask, Christine is fine. The baby monitor is right here. Now can I just…"

She breathed, "Proceed," even as her body arched into his expert touch.

And with that, morning sex was very much back on the agenda.


Fin

Happiness?