Echoes True and False

By: Lesera128 & dharmamonkey

Rated: M

Disclaimer: Here we posit our normal rigmarole. No, we don't own anything from Bones or Angel... or anything else. Yes, we're wreaking what havoc we can with these characters that we don't own to create an awesome story. But, since it's only for the purposes of creative enjoyment and amusing distraction, we think we're okay. Are there any other questions? No? ::blinks:: Good. Then moving on―

Summary: Brennan can't help herself and contravenes Booth's free will, breaking the spell that has kept him from remembering his life as Angel. He regains his memories and confronts Brennan about her role in what's happened to him. Bones/Angel crossover. Very, very AU. Sequel to "Toe to Toe," "Barging In," "Making Him Beg," "Comfort on the Edge of Reason," "The After Party" and "The Price to Be Paid."

Logistical Notes: Just as a reminder, for those who are familiar with Whedon-verse, this story assumes the events through the end of Angel's series finale ("Not Fade Away") and the comic-book "Angel: After the Fall" are canon. It ignores all other stories in the Angel chronology, including the BTVS Season 8 in comics, as well as the Twilight story arc. For those familiar with Bones, this story is during season three and picks up at the end of episode 3x05 - "The Mummy in the Maze." Readers should note that events follow canon only until that point. (A teeny-weeny "duh-moment," we know, but we had to say it lest someone says something, but they probably will anyway, so we'll just stop now...)

A/N: Welcome to this, the seventh (lucky #7, as Booth would say) story in Dharmasera's Angel/Bones crossover series.

We, the ladies of Dharmasera, Inc. have been absolutely thrilled with the response to this series. Like another of our recent collaborations, "The Inquisitor," we knew when we started this series that it might not appeal to everyone. Many of our regular readers have told us they don't really like crossovers, and so we knew we had a challenge ahead of us, especially taking the liberties we did with Brennan to fit her into the mystical Whedonverse so that we could pair her up with Angelus. Well, just as we converted a lot of you who didn't like historical AU when we gave you "Inquisitor," we seemed to win over a lot of skeptics with this crossover. The response this Angel(us)/Brennan series has received has truly surpassed our expectations, and we're glad that everyone is enjoying it. We are grateful for your support and continued interest in this crazy story. (After 250,000+ words, we can't really call it a "little story" anymore.)

Having taken you through the tumultuous 150 year-long story of an English witch and her sexy Irish vampire lover, we've now arrived at a place you Bones fans will recognize: early Season 3. So fasten your seatbelts, friends, because what we have for you in this seventh installment is going to take you on a hell of an emotional ride and blow your collective minds.

UNF Alert: What can we tell you? You know who we are, and the kinds of tales we tell. This story will contain some serious unfness as it moves along. That's what you wanted, right? Well, if not, then we ask that you take a raincheck and find something else to read. For the rest of you, stay tuned. Some extremely unf stuff is coming up. Just not in this chapter. First, we have to set the mood, you know? Light some candles, turn on some U2, plump the pillows, and turn down the sheets before we can get to business? It's all in the set-up, baby! But, as ever, we promise, the good stuff is coming, and it'll definitely prove worth the wait when it does, so just consider this another IOU on which we will eventually make good...again and again and...again.

Part I: A Canonical Precursor of Sorts

The feelings of odd familiarity were nothing new to Booth.

He lived each day guided by his gut and his intuition, the way he always had, and so when he'd be driving around town or sitting in a diner, and a wave of déjà vu washed over him, he thought nothing of it. He didn't really believe in coincidences. Everything happens for a reason, he believed, even if the reasons why things happen aren't immediately apparent. There were a lot of things about the world that Booth didn't understand, but he didn't let that lack of understanding wear him down. He'd always been aware of it, but in a way, it fascinated him, so he never felt too bothered or frustrated by his ongnoing struggle to make sense of it. It was enough for him to know that there was a cosmic interconnection between things, a resonance as it were.

For as long as he could remember, he'd always felt that something was there with him. Its presence in his heart and mind had always been, as far as he could tell, one of his earliest memories. As he'd gotten older, he'd realized that the unnamed ball of feelings that he'd always felt couldn't be named, but could be better described. He'd felt that resonance, humming away, deep inside of him, and even when odd or puzzling or senseless things happened around him, he'd felt that resonance murmuring in the back of his mind, and it had always given him a certain comfort.

He'd always imagined that faint hum he heard was the sound of his guardian angel's wings, beating in the background of his mind as he made his way through the world. It was a crazy world, and that quiet hum reminded him that the path he walked was illuminated by divine providence, even if he didn't know where he was going until his heel hit the ground. God works in mysterious ways, Booth would always would remind himself. It was the way of things, and it was with this a stubborn belief in such knowledge—that there was some kind of unseen hand at work behind the scenes—that he somehow managed to get through the toughest, most impossible Army missions and, later, the most hopelessly grim FBI cases. If it was all meaningless randomness, he reasoned, then the worst of his FBI cases—the pedophile serial killers, the domestic murder-suicides, the Salvadoran gang hits on a drug debtor's little sister—would have long since driven him to despair. But somehow, while the suffering of innocent people couldn't be neatly explained or justified, the notion that there was some sort of organizing intelligence in the cosmos gave Booth comfort in knowing that the fight he was fighting had some meaning in the bigger scheme of things.

Knowing there was a purpose behind the things that happened to him and around him gave Booth the inner strength he needed to endure the suffering the world threw down.

He remembered laying in his bed at nights when he was a boy, listening to his father bellow at his mother, Edwin Booth's voice loud and wavering under the influence of a half of a bottle of Jim Beam that came through the thin walls of his bedroom like waves of sound that served to hurt him by their very existence. The younger Booth would squeeze his eyes shut, as if in doing so he could squeeze his ears shut, too, but it never worked. So he'd lay there on his tiny twin bunk bed, his small hands clenched tightly over his ears, trying to imagine that the thunks, thuds, and muffled crashes he heard from the next room were something else other than the sound of his mother's head or back being slammed against the opposite side of the wall. He'd lay there, muttering to himself, praying to the Virgin Mary—as his mother had taught him to do, just as she always had—that it would just stop so that he could go to sleep and not have to worry that maybe his father would come in the bedroom looking for him if his mother couldn't take the main brunt of his father's drunken rages to shield him as she normally did.

As he tried to focus his attention less on what was happening between his parents in his other room, and more on the sound of the blood roaring in his ears, he heard a voice murmur in the darkness. The voice was so faint, he wasn't even sure if it was a man's or woman's voice. But it sounded nice and reassuring and didn't hurt his ears like the other sounds did.

It's okay, Seeley, the voice said to him from some indeterminate place in the mostly dark room he shared with his little brother, Jared. He'd once had a night-light, but his father had broken it one afternoon when he'd thrown Booth against the wall, and it had never been replaced. At first, it had bothered him terribly, as he was somewhat afraid of the dark and the terrors that hid there. But on that first night when he'd been forced to go to sleep without his Phillies Liberty Bell night-light plugged in and shining brightly from where he could see it on the wall opposite of his bed, he'd found a different type of light to show him comfort. You're a tough kid, the voice whispered softly. You're gonna be okay. Hang in there, Seeley. You'll get through this. Be strong, and you'll survive. It'll be okay. I promise. It's gonna be alright. It'll all be alright.

Years later, he remembered laying again in the darkness, trying to focus his mind on anything but the misery around him. For two days and three nights, he'd slept on the cold concrete floor of a tiny, dank cell in Baghdad, the smell of stale sweat and urine hanging heavy in the air, his feet shattered and swollen so badly that his toes felt like they would pop like tiny balloons if anyone had touched them. He'd lay in the darkness, drifting in and out of consciousness, his misery interrupted only by the scraggly-bearded guard who came in every few hours to slap him awake and pour a cup of warm water down his throat before leaving again. When the guard had closed the door again, cloaking Booth once more in a shroud of darkness, he swallowed the hard lump in his throat and curled back into a fetal position and tried to focus on the only thing that gave him any comfort: the tiny voice in the back of his mind that murmured to him.

Booth, you're going to be fine, the voice had chanted at him, its pleading tone sounding more stubborn and insistent than reassuring as it had been when he was a little boy. You're gonna be fine. You can make it, Booth. Come on!

And the quiet voice inside of him was right. He did make it. Again and again, he'd endured every time he'd been in a bad place. Each time, it reinforced his faith in the organizing intelligence that held the cosmos together, and so when Booth found himself struck with the feeling of déjà vu and hearing the hum in the back of his mind, he drew comfort from it and soldiered on, no matter the circumstances.

It was that same curious sensation of déjà vu that had struck him the moment he'd open the door and walked into the lecture hall at American University. He'd stood in the doorway for a moment, sure that his heart had stopped while his belly tensed and undulated as if he were zooming over a speedbump. The yellow-skirted woman at the front of the room had a striking figure, with her long legs, curvy hips and pert, round breasts, but it was only as he walked closer and saw her square jaw and her eyes. She had incredible, soul-swallowing eyes of the palest blue, which were at once cool as ice and yet not cold at all. He felt immediately drawn into those eyes, the way he felt being invited into a home he'd be in a hundred times before. He'd never seen her face before, of course, but he'd sworn he'd seen her, somewhere, before. It wasn't just her beautifully-sculpted face, or the striking look in her pale eyes, though.

That quiet little hum he heard in the back of his mind began to thrum loudly the moment he'd opened the door to the lecture hall and had seen her face, and it whirred even louder when he heard her voice ring out across the room. It was unlike anything he'd ever experienced. Odd though it was, it was unmistakable, as if the universe itself were somehow calling out to him, resonating deep inside his chest the moment he laid eyes on her. It can't be, he'd told himself at the time. Her name—Temperance Brennan—was so unique, he knew he'd have remembered it had he actually met her before. If this woman wasn't familiar to him as someone from his past, that left only one option: she was destined to be part of his future.

"Do you believe in fate?" he'd asked her, the words tumbling off his tongue as he tried to contain a wide-eyed, face-splitting grin. At that moment, his whole chest oozed with warmth as he felt an overwhelming excitement rousing something deep inside of him he couldn't touch or name or explain as he waited with baited breath to see what her response would be..

"Absolutely not," Brennan had replied, a faint smile curving the edges of her slender lips as she gave a minute shake of her head to signal her answer in the negative. "Ludicrous."

He'd shrugged off the strange, light-headed, belly-flipping sensation of déjà vu and the loudly humming murmur in his ears, then used his usual wink and charming grin to enlist Brennan's commitment to help him with a cold case he'd been struggling to solve. A few days later, after he'd worked with her on the case and the two of them had begun to make some real progress on the case, she'd hauled off and slugged the prime suspect, and the U.S. Attorney in charge of the case had ordered him to fire her. Booth, not usually one for taking advice, decided to take her out for drinks, and after four or five tequila shots apiece, he'd told her she was fired. A few minutes later, his mind awash in Cuervo Gold, he'd found himself standing on the back stoop of his old pool bar, staring into Brennan's cool, gray-flecked blue eyes. He'd felt a limb-tingling energy pass through him as he'd stood there, their faces close enough that he could smell her shampoo and her breath on his chin, and after few more moments, he'd leaned in to kiss her. The moment their mouths came together, and he'd tasted her as their tongues glanced against one another, he swore he'd tasted her before. The taste, the feel of her...somehow...he knew what that felt like. And once he realized that, he was greedy for more. There was none of the first-kiss tentativeness—the strange, awkward, mushy way that two set of lips usually came together for the first time—and it was if he'd been kissing her for decades even though the whole thing lasted only a few seconds before she pulled away and stepped out into the rain with a husky laugh and a teasing smile on her face, leaving him wanting more. Always with her, from that very first moment, it was never enough.

She always left him wanting more.

As he watched her ride away in that cab, its tires hissing on the pavement as it drove away, he shook his head and dismissed the weird feeling that he'd known her before, seen her before, felt like this before, been in the position before of wanting more and watching sadly as she left him and went away.

But no, he told himself, shoving his hands in the pockets of his suit jacket as he tried to fight the feelings of sadness and regret that pooled up in him as he realized she was gone and wasn't coming back. It can't be. For a split second, he'd been tempted to follow her to see what might happen between them, but ultimately something had held him back. Instead of hailing a taxi cab and following her, he'd turned around, glanced up at the flickering "POOL" sign that lit the back of the bar. He'd blinked at it for a moment, but the familiar tingle in his fingertips that came before he burned off that restless energy behind a smooth, polished maple pool cue seemed curiously absent. Instead, he'd felt a strange sensation, an energy of some kind that pricked at the skin on his arms and neck like he was walking too close to an uninsulated high voltage power line. He'd opened and closed his hands into fists inside his pockets but shouldn't shake the weird prickly feeling. Booth had taken one last look at the flickering neon sign and began to walk down the street in the driving rain.

As he'd walked the fifteen long blocks back to his apartment, Booth's ears had been filled with the sound of the hissing rain and the squish-squish of his water-logged shoes. He'd passed by an old two-story brick warehouse, built sometime around the turn of the century, with tall casement windows which had been blacked out by the building's current occupant—a nightclub—and the same feeling of déjà vu fluttered in the pit of his stomach as he made his way through the dark alley behind the club. Booth had drawn his hand along the side of the dumpster as he'd walked past it, and felt his gut clench as he'd passed a stack of broken wooden pallets and a pair of empty wooden liquor crates sitting in a widening puddle next to the dumpster. He'd felt a hard ache in his chest and a dark, grim feeling of foreboding wash over him as he'd stepped over a couple of sharp-edged fragments of a shattered pallet. What the fuck is going on? He'd narrowed his eyes and rolled his shoulders, as if by doing so he could jettison the weird feelings he was having in that moment.

Why do I feel like I've been here before? he'd asked himself, closing his eyes and shaking his head as he kicked the broken pallet fragments aside with the side of his foot and continued along. He'd glanced back over his shoulder at the broken pallets and empty wood crates as he'd reached the end of the alley. For a moment, Brennan's face had flashed before his eyes, her hair styled differently―longer, a little past her shoulders, and curled a little at the ends―than the simple ponytail he'd seen her wear it in the week or so since he'd been working with her on the Gemma Arrington case. Her blue eyes had flickered at him, as if reflecting a neon blue flash of light as she'd turned to face him, her black-gloved hand extended as she stood there in a thick red coat, beckoning him to follow her. He'd looked up as he'd rounded the corner and saw the blue, eye-shaped neon sign next to the name of the nightclub, "Gleam," and he grunted under his breath. I really fucked myself up this time, he'd mumbled. Fucking tequila. He blinked a couple of times and kept walking.

Fucking tequila, he'd spat as he brushed his wet hair off his forehead. If I hadn't been such a damn asshat and overdid it on the fucking tequila, she might not have balked at going home with me. He'd remembered the way her pale eyes glittered when she'd leaned over the bar and brought her face close to his, her pretty mouth hanging open in a sexy half-grin that had gotten him halfway hard just sitting there looking at her, and he'd clenched his teeth at the thought that he'd let her slip through his fingertips. Why do I care so much? he asked himself. Hell, she's just a friggin' squint. He'd looked up at the dark sky and noticed that the rain seemed to have let up somewhat. But I think, maybe, sometimes...she's more than that, he'd shrugged. Those eyes of hers―the way she looks at me. God, it's like she knows me. Like she knows something about me that I don't. As if she knows who I am, even though she doesn't know anything about me or where I come from. It's like she sees straight through all that I am...all of it. All the bullshit, and cuts right to the center, and somehow knows what's there. Booth had sighed as he swung open the door to his building and had bounded up the steps to his apartment. I really need to lay off the fucking tequila, he muttered as he'd stood in front of his apartment door fumbling for his keys.

I mean, shit.

Booth cracked open his beer and set it down on the mantle as he turned to open his apartment window to let in the crisp autumn breeze. The cold damp of Washington winter was just around the corner, but for now, the evenings were as pleasant as ever. He was hopeful that the good weather would hold so that, in a couple of weekends, when Parker would go out trick-or-treating, his little boy wouldn't have to cover up his Spider-Man costume with a bulky jacket like Booth had used to have to do some years when he was a kid back in Pennsylvania. The vinyl blinds crinkled against the breeze as he turned to retrieve his beer and made his way over to the sofa.

He tipped his beer back and took a long swig, smirking at the liquor store owner who'd tried to talk him into getting a six-pack of the Shipyard Pumpkinhead Ale. "Real beer shouldn't have vegetables in it," he'd told the guy as he wondered whether his partner would chastise him for improperly calling a fruit a vegetable. At the thought of vegetables, he suddenly realized he hadn't had anything to eat since the cheesesteak and curly fries he'd snarfed at lunch and his stomach rumbled loudly in response.

Remembering that he'd eaten his last slice of leftover pizza for breakfast that morning—and that his refrigerator was more or less empty except for beer and a half-gallon of milk of dubious freshness—he walked over to his kitchen counter and grabbed a handful of pumpkin marshmallows—the sweeter and more substantial cousin to candy corn—from the open bag next to the coffeemaker. Shoving a couple of them into his mouth, he glanced over at the fridge and stared at the Chinese take-out menu, then looked at the pile of candy pumpkins in his hand and popped them into his mouth. As he chewed them, he shook his head, unsure why he'd even bought them in the first place when he'd gone to the drugstore and seem them proudly displayed in the aisle of Halloween seasonal items he'd trotted down in order to buy stuff for trick or treaters that would knock on his door if he somehow managed to be home on Halloween. He'd consequently found himself standing in the candy aisle, reaching for the bag and feeling pretty sure he needed to buy them even as he tossed a couple of bags into his cart. It wasn't until he'd gotten home that he realized he wasn't quite certain why he'd gotten them in the first place since Parker liked Jolly Ranchers and Gummy Worms best while he preferred Snickers and Hershey bars above all.

But these things aren't too bad, though, he thought with a pleased grin on his face. Not too bad at all. I like the chewiness. It's kinda awesome in its own way. Like candy corn, but better.

He clicked on the TV and, after hesitating for a moment as he found himself accidentally tuned in to the last five minutes of an Animal Planet documentary on great white sharks, flipped to the live broadcast of the Flyers-Islanders game, which was halfway through the first period with his team up by one goal. The Islanders were showing no signs of being anything other than the epic disaster of perpetual loserdom that they always were, and the Flyers seemed like they were capable of competing with the perennial Eastern Conference powerhouses of the Montreal Canadiens, Pittsburgh Penguins, and the New York Rangers. No sooner had the Flyers begun charging down the ice on a power play when his BlackBerry chirped to signal a text message. He glanced at the screen and saw the name of the sender. Bones. He picked up the remote and muted the game as he opened the text message.

I emailed you my final report of findings on the Ed Milner case.

Booth blinked, wondering why the hell she was sending him a text on a Friday night when their report wasn't due into the Assistant Director until 10:00 Monday morning. He wondered if she was bored, and maybe just wanted an excuse to talk. He arched an eyebrow and shrugged away the thought as he considered an appropriate response, and then thumbed back a quick reply.

OK, thx. What RU up to 2nite?

He held the remote control in his left hand, watching the muted game out of the corner of his eye as he waited for his phone to chirp with her response. Booth knew it drove Brennan crazy when he used netspeak and abbreviations in text messages, and so he made a point to truncate his text messages as much as possible when communicating with his partner. A smirk flashed across his lips as he wondered how often she ran out of characters when composing texts. His train of thought was temporarily derailed when, after a few more seconds, the phone vibrated in his hand, and he impatiently pushed the appropriate button so that he could view the text.

Angela and I are going out dancing. Hodgins is at the lab, trying to fix one of his pieces of equipment.

After a moment, another message came across.

Angela says she's not going to squander an otherwise good Friday night sitting at home alone. What about you?

Booth blinked, then sighed as he narrowed his eyes and watched the penalized Islanders forward slide back onto the ice, ending the Flyers' power play. He wobbled the phone in his hand, then thumbed back a response.

Squandering an o/w good Fri nite at home alone. He pushed 'send' then, after another moment, punched another text. Have fun tonite w/Ange, he typed.

Because I'm gonna be sitting here tonight like a fucking loser, all by myself, he frowned. Would it have fucking killed one of you to extend me a courtesy invite? He rolled his eyes and sighed. I mean, for fuck's sake. I can dance. I'm a pretty damn good dancer, actually. He shook his head and raked his fingers through his hair. I'm not gonna act like an asshole, he grumbled silently. It's not like I'm some jealous Neanderthal who's gonna go around all puffed-up, intimidating all the guys you wanna dance long as you don't let anyone do any bodyshots off of you or anything. Then, well, heh, I'm not really sure what I'd do, but it probably wouldn't be good and would probably piss Bones off. He slumped back against the couch and sulked in silence.

A couple of minutes passed without a reply, and Booth set the phone down on his coffee table and un-muted the TV. It was nearing the end of the first period, and the Flyers were dominating the ice against the smaller-market, smaller-payroll, less talent-rich Islanders. The announcer's voice soared and peaked as the Flyers surged across the blue line into the Islanders' zone and quickly flung out a shot that sailed just an inch over the top frame of the goal.

"Fuck you, you stupid fucks," he cursed aloud, his gaze not really moving from the TV screen as he watched the game, even as his phone chirped and vibrated, rattling a slow path across the coffee table. Finally, breaking eye contact, his eyes flashed to the screen in his hand.

Thanks, Booth.

He scrolled down, looking for more to her message, but found nothing. He tossed his phone back on the coffee table with a loud clatter and reached for his Yuengling long-neck, leaning back against his couch, as the buzzer sounded to end the first period and gulping down the last half of his beer in a couple of swallows.

Why do I even care so much? he asked himself, arching his neck over the back of his sofa and sighing loudly. It's not likewell, I know. She doesn't think about...

Sighing again, Booth stood up gruffly and walked over to the side table in his living room where he kept a bottle of Jameson's Irish whiskey. He'd come to like Irish whiskey a couple of years prior, though he wasn't sure why. Before that, he'd been a devoted Scotch drinker, but a few years back, right before he met Brennan and things finally fell into place on the Gemma Arrington case, he'd found himself in a liquor store, and instead of snagging a bottle of his usual Johnny Walker, he stepped one shelf over and reached for the bottle of Jameson. He didn't even know why he'd done it. If he didn't know any better, he'd say it was almost like an instinct, a reflex.

Like her.

He poured himself a generous double in the heavy cut-crystal tumbler, one of a set of four he'd picked up at the Knights of Columbus thrift shop the next weekend—another impulse buy that didn't make any sense to him at the time but he which he found himself helpless to resist.

Like her.

The year after the Gemma Arrington case had been hell—it had sucked, really—and it didn't make sense in his mind as to why it had sucked so badly. There'd been no doubt that a part of him had caught fire when he'd kissed her on the back stoop behind his old pool bar, but after they'd argued and she slapped him, snarling at him that she'd never work with him again, he'd still felt like he'd lost something, and for a year, he'd felt a little knot in the pit of his stomach. And he couldn't even think of drinking tequila after seeing what a wreck he'd made of things with her just from one night of shots at the bar. The thought of drinking tequila—never mind the noxious smell of the stuff—reminded him of what an chickenshit asshat he'd been that night, letting her ride away from him in the rain rather than following her into that cab.

All he could think about after that was how amazing a woman she was, and how he'd let her slip between his clumsy fingers. He thought back, remembering the way she'd kissed him that night, and the way her lips felt on his—so soft yet demanding, silky and smooth even as they grasped at his mouth, her tongue breaching the space between them as she grabbed his lapels and pulled him close, crushing his lips against hers—and how his whole body had felt like it was on fire and she was the only thing that could put it out. He'd been dumbstruck as he watched her taxi pull away into the rain. They'd have been incredible together, he just knew somehow, had they gotten together that night.

It would've been so fucking epic. So hot. So good. She would've felt fucking amazing. We would've been so fucking good. But none of that happened because I fucked it up because I let her go. I let her walk away from me when I should've gone after her. I don't know why I didn't, he thought. But if I had it to do over again, I sure as hell know that I wouldn't make that same mistake twice. I'd have gone after her, I never would've let her go. I mean, fuckwhat a fucking idiot I was, he told himself. I deserved everything I gotor didn't getbecause I was a fucking idiot.

After she'd left his life, swearing him off as she swore at him that afternoon at the Hoover, he still couldn't get her out of his head no matter how hard he tried to get her out of his mind. After his anger towards her had cooled from their argument that day in his office—not just his anger at her for challenging his expertise and authority in front of the victim's mother, but even more so, his fury at himself for losing control of his temper and letting her slip out of his grasp, again—he'd immediately felt guilty about it and wanted to apologize. But she hadn't made apologizing easy. After she'd ignored several of his phone calls the next day, he'd tried to come see her on her turf at the Jeffersonian as a sign of how sorry he was, but he didn't have access to the Medico-Legal Lab, and the security guard wouldn't let him in without an escort which she refused to authorize. He'd left more messages, and sent more emails. He sent her apologetic text messages. He'd even left several voicemails with her friend Angela, the artist, but it had all amounted to nothing. He'd tried time and time again, but still she refused his numerous attempts to make contact, thwarting him at every step.

He smoldered for her, even while he dated Tessa, it felt weird, wrong almost, as if he was cheating on her, even though they never were anything. He'd felt that way for a long time. In fact, he'd never really stopped feeling like that. When he'd been with Tessa, whom he'd started casually seeing during the Gemma Arrington case—he felt like he was going through the motions, like the love he was making to her was an empty bit of sexual theater, and he didn't understand why. Tessa was pretty and sexy, but there was always something that had left him wanting more. She was, in a way, comfortable and familiar, with her blond hair and light eyes, and her small, firm tits with their tight little nipples, but after a while, he tired of her, and he hungered for something...more. For some reason, he'd wanted something...more substantial. Something he could wrap his hands around and get his lips around...just something...more than Tessa had ever been. He'd felt bad about it, because it had never been that way for him. He'd always thrown himself completely into whatever relationship he was in, devoting himself to the woman he was with, but after meeting the quirky blue-eyed scientist, suddenly all other women paled in comparison to her. Tessa, Rebecca, and Cam were all beautiful women, each one stunningly gorgeous in her own way, and they were each excellent lovers, but there was always something missing when he was with them after meeting Brennan.

After things fell apart with Tessa, he'd found himself trying to fill the void he'd felt with her by going back to his ex, Rebecca, the mother of his son, hoping that he'd find the heat and fulfillment he wanted by rekindling what they'd had before. What he'd had with her was the closest he'd ever gotten to a forever kind of love that he'd always longed for and dreamed about. Even after it had all fallen apart after she got pregnant with their son, and had rebuffed his marriage proposal, there was still something between them—a spark, a want, an unquenched curiosity about what might have been—and he'd gone went back to her, hoping that time had fixed what had broken between them to the point where he'd hoped that they'd be able to pick up where they'd left off before things had gone so bad. But it hadn't worked. Their tumultuous relationship had crashed and burned in a spectacular fiery ball of melodramatic mess in an even shorter amount of time than it had on the first go around. When he'd gone over why things had fallen apart between them before the Elmer's Glue had even been dry on their pseudo-relationship, Booth finally decided that ultimately it had failed because Rebecca didn't cut it, and what they had somehow seemed to be not as good as he'd remembered it was the second time around.

In the end, he'd been glad it hadn't worked out between them, both for Parker's sake—the one good thing they'd ever done together, as far as he was concerned—and because he'd had a stunning realization. At some point, Booth had realized, it had turned out that Rebecca wasn't what he'd wanted, after all. She'd never had been, really, but it wasn't until he'd gone back and tried to make it work with her last year that Booth finally knew the real reason why. She wasn't the one woman he wanted most. She wasn't...well...


So he'd tried again. And again, and again as far as Brennan was concerned. It hadn't been easy as she'd made him work for it from the very first moment he'd tried to come back into her life after their disastrous argument on what had been the tail end of the Gemma Arrington homicide investigation. He'd spent months trying to get to her. It was only after his dozens of phone calls, emails and messages left with her kooky assistant, Zack, went unanswered, and she'd ignored the bouquet of daffodils he'd sent her as an apology—though he'd no idea why he chose daffodils and not daisies or some other kind of flower to send her to say that he was sorry and really wanted to talk to her—that he'd finally gotten her to speak to him again. And that had only occurred because he'd bent the rules just a bit by tendering a hold-for-questioning request to Homeland Security to snag her after clearing customs at Dulles that he'd finally lured her back into his life.

It was only because he'd been persistent that he'd even known about the opportunity to finally shanghai her when she'd come back to D.C. from Guatemala. Her passport number had finally shown up on a weekly report he gotten emailed. The report gave him her travel information because he'd flagged her vital statistics in the Department of State's intranet via his access to the system via a connection at the Department of Justice. He'd walked into the detention room at Dulles and saw her sitting there with the agent from Homeland Security, giving the man a hard time as a brown, mostly decomposed human skull sat in the middle of the stainless steel table. As soon as the door closed behind him with a heavy clank, her head swiveled around and their eyes locked. Her first words to him were "What are you doing here?" but as soon as her slender lips parted, he felt himself falling into her deep blue eyes as his heart seemed to stop. It was a great feeling. And after a year without having seen her, he felt the hum inside of him begin to sing as his eyes quickly skimmed the lines of her beautiful, square-jawed face. And when he did, he felt the smoldering inside of him begin to flicker into something hotter and more difficult to extinguish. But still, she'd held her distance, keeping him at arm's length, and it was obvious to him that she didn't want him as they fell into an uneasy and tense partnership that had, nevertheless, done something extraordinary—made it so they interacted with each other on a regular and consistent day-to-day basis where they both played an increasingly important role in each other's lives. It still wasn't everything he wanted from her, but it had been a decent start.

Still, he craved more from her, and the more time he spent with her, the more desperate he felt to fill the void he felt gaping inside of him whenever he wasn't with her. He wanted to feel whole again, to no longer feel the twitchy lack that troubled him each morning as he woke alone and each night as he lay in his bed, staring at the ceiling in the half-light as a neon sign flickered outside his window. So he looked for that familiarity, comfort, and passion somewhere else, and when an opportunity finally presented itself, he jumped at it. He needed someone, something, to take the edge off, to fill the void he felt inside. For a while, thought he might have found it in his old friend Camille Saroyan even though their first attempt at a relationship many years, when they were both in their late teens, had been exciting and new but never went anywhere in the long run. But after fate threw them together again, they were older, each more secure in themselves and their place in the world, and he'd hoped that it would be different this time. The fire that flickered between them caught the kindling and briefly flamed again, and for a while he felt the heat and fulfillment he'd been seeking. Being with her was so easy, so comfortable, and when she'd made it clear that she still wanted him—and had made that fact very clear to him as she continued to pursue him in the relentlessly dedicated way that Cam did everything in life—he'd given in, surrendered, and taken what she'd offered without a second thought or a backward glance.

But again, in the end, no matter how hard he tried to throw himself and his whole heart into the woman who shared his bed at night, he still felt empty. He wasn't even sure when he'd first begun to realize it, but when the Gravedigger took Brennan, he felt his world begin to crumble around him so precipitously that it had taken him completely and totally by surprise. Sitting there at the diner, across the table from Cam as she tried to convince him to go away for the weekend to New York with her, he'd picked up his cell phone and heard a garbled voice warn of dire consequences if a tremendous ransom wasn't paid for Brennan's life. From that moment on, he'd known that nothing else had mattered. From that moment on, there was only one reason for him to existto find her, to protect her, to save her. That was all that mattered...only one thing. No matter what he had to do, no matter what price he had to pay, he'd find her because he had to do it. He couldn't imagine failing. Failure wasn't an option. He'd find a way to save her because he didn't know how he'd go on if he didn't. He hadn't ever felt that way about another person in his entire life beforenot even his son. No, there was only one person who made him feel that way.

Just her. Only her.

And so, with the help of the squints, and the grace of God, they'd saved her and Hodgins, but after that, after almost losing her, there had been a pricenamely, Booth's relationship with Cam, which had begun to falter around the time that he and Brennan went to Vegas for the mob-hit case. He'd been able to control himself around her, bide his time and want her in wistful silence, but the afternoon they went to Sloppy Joe Nolan's boxing gym—the afternoon he'd seen her transformed from his partner, Bones, into some other fascinating and sexy woman when she'd put on that snug, low-cut black dress that hugged every inch of her curvy hips and drew his hungry eyes to the round swell of her breasts, and it had everything he could do not to take her against the wall of their shared hotel room—he'd had trouble feeling what he got from Brennan in their partnership was enough to keep him happy. He'd started to want more and that want had taken its toll on his relationship with Cam, so much so that it had deteriorated badly by the time the Gravedigger reached out and struck that which Booth held closest to his heart:


The prospect of losing Brennan shook him to the core, and he realized that he'd been a fool to look anywhere else to fill the void inside of him, a void he knew could be filled only by her.

Just her. Only her.

It was as if—somehow, at some point in time that he didn't quite remember—she'd had become the standard, the benchmark against which he measured all other women. Though he sought love in the arms of other women, and gave everything he had to making it work with each of them, he'd felt drawn to her, again and again, even though his subtle hints and approaches seemed rebuffed at every turn. It occurred to him that Friday night, sitting on his couch alone with a double-Jameson's, that all of them, every woman he was with after he met her, fell breathtakingly short of the bar set by the one woman who'd ever taken his breath away.


Just her. Only her.

He knew that he could spend the rest of his life looking for the woman who would make him complete as a man, but as long as the woman he loved and made loved to was someone other than Brennan, he knew he would never be whole. He knew he never could be—even if he wasn't quite certain why he knew that truth. She was the only woman he really wanted, and the only woman he could make love to with his entire soul. She was the one, and the voice inside of him told Booth that she'd always been the one, from the very beginning.

His thoughts of Brennan again drifted to the last time he'd seen her. He thought back to the conversation he'd had with his partner at the Royal Diner the night before as they were celebrating their usual post-case dinner—although, had Booth been honest, he'd been sharing meals with her more often than not, and it no longer took a special occasion to justify spending time with her.

They'd been talking about the weird horse fetishist case they'd just finished, and he'd been trying to explain to her the difference between 'crappy sex' and 'the real thing'—that is, making love. The whole case had kind of wigged him out, and not because of the fetishist aspects of it, although that certainly kept him oscillating the whole time between a serious case of the heebie-jeebies and wetting his pants with laughter. No, it wasn't only the case's unusual, well, wackiness that had put Booth on edge. It had been he fact that the central issues in the case forced him to talk about sex with his partner, his partner who he'd been hungering for and smoldering over for the better part of three years, and the same partner that he was fairly certain didn't think of him that way. It was a subject he'd avoided discussing with her as much as possible. His view of sex and her stated views on the subject were oceans apart. For him, sex was the most intimate way for two people to open up to one another, but for her, it was two bodies answering the call of their biological imperatives. Humans were not naturally monogamous, she'd told him more than once, and she'd mocked his idea of finding a perfect, true love as too idealized and impossible to attain.

It pained him to hear her talk so casually about sex and so dismissively of love as he sat there, biting his tongue as the voice inside of him murmured that, despite what she was saying, Brennan knew better. For some reason, she'd just forgotten. It also hurt Booth to hear her say such things because she was the one he truly loved, that she was the one he was meant to be with, and she was the one who stoked the smoldering desire he felt for her to the point that he knew he could so the same for her—if he was just given the chance to do it. He knew what he wanted, but not knowing if she wanted him, he left his wants unspoken, suppressed and mute. This case threatened to erode the wall he'd carefully crafted to keep their partnership safe. Talking about sex and physical intimacy with the one woman whom he'd most wanted to know that way—intimately—but with no certain way to achieve such a goal, had nearly driven him out of his mind.

The final night of the case had been particularly grueling for him. He'd been sitting with her in their usual table in the corner of the diner, eating his usual hamburger, when he suddenly dropped his burger onto his plate with a soft splat as a wave of nausea washed through his gut.

"I didn't lose my appetite because you mentioned horse meat," he told her. "I lost my appetite because you made me think about all those people parading around, pretending to be something they aren't, just so they could have crappy sex."

"How do you know it's crappy?" she asked.

"Gotta be, Bones," he snorted, scrunching up his nose and furrowing brows as he stared back at her. "Come on, it's gotta be."

"Why?" she pressed him, questioning him with a narrow-eyed look and a faint smile as she leaned back in her chair. He heard something on the edge of her voice—something more than the usual teasing or skepticism he was used to hearing from her as she poked and challenged him in the way that had always both irritated and intrigued him. He felt a strange murmur inside of him as he began to explain, and he found himself looking deep into her eyes, transfixed as something behind her gaze flickered at his words, though she held her lips still.

"Every once in awhile," he told her, his voice low and velvety as a faint smile marked his lips. "Two people meet, and there's that spark." Booth felt his belly flip as he stared across the table at his partner and the woman he considered to be his best friend. He would've sworn he saw something in her eyes—a flash of blue—but he blinked away the thought and continued. "And yes, Bones, he's handsome. And she's beautiful. And maybe that's all they see at first..."

His mouth gaped open slightly as he felt a tingle deep in his gut, crackling outward from the base of his spine. He'd felt this feeling many times before, going back to the very first day he'd met her, back at American, fading again and rearing its head again early on in the first year of their partnership. He remembered feeling it when they went to Washington State for the man-eating bear case, and how it had peaked that night they'd gone to the town bar, and he'd rescued her from the grabby paws of the local bumpkins and danced with her, hip to hip, filling his nose with the smell of her vanilla and honey shampoo as he felt her breath on his skin. He'd felt it that first Christmas, when they were quarantined in the lab with the rest of the squints, and he'd seen her clad only in a tank top and casual pants, sitting by herself on the platform in the middle of the night, leaning over a microscope so he could see down her shirt and admire up close the smooth, silky skin of her round, full breasts that he'd itched to reach out and touch, and years later, still made him just hard thinking about. It was a miracle that, in the haze of antifungal medication he'd been in that night, he hadn't make a move on her. He'd felt it when he'd gotten her call from New Orleans after she'd woke up, bloodied and beaten, unable to remember what had happened to her, and how he hadn't given a second thought before dropping everything to fly out to be with her. As he thought about it, he realized this feeling, which aroused him in a way that was more than just a purely sexual, was something he'd only felt around her and only her. It was a curious feeling, an energy of some sort, that made the hair on his arms and legs stand on end as he watched her face and continued to explain himself.

"But making love," he told her with a confident and knowing nod. "Making love. That's when two people become one."

As soon as the words left his lips, Booth felt another strange sensation, a fleeting flash of déjà-vu that lasted only a second. He'd never talked about this with her before, and he didn't know why he'd be feeling this way. He heard the murmur in the back of his mind again, and he raised his eyebrows as Brennan opened her mouth to speak.

"It is scientifically impossible for two objects to occupy the same space," she said with a strange glint in her eye, and he suspected from the look in her eye and the tone of her voice that she was being intentionally dense.

But yet, there was something more.

There was always something more with her.

Even that first morning, in the first moments when he'd seen her face and heard her voice ring across that lecture hall, he'd known that she was more than she seemed. In a way, he thought, she was two people: Dr. Temperance Brennan, expert forensic anthropologist, on the one hand, and on the other hand, well—someone else, someone deeper, more mysterious, and more intriguing, someone who felt deeply and embraced ideas and theories about the universe that most people didn't even think about. That she was both women, all in one, fascinated him to the core.

As she sat there in front of him, blinking back at him with a straight, expressionless mouth and a bright flash in her eye, Booth somehow knew that the woman who sat in front of him that evening who blinked back in that moment in time wasn't just the staid, ever-rational scientist he'd come to know over the years, but rather the wide-minded woman of mystery—the woman he felt he knew but craved to know more deeply. The humming he felt inside of him grew stronger, seeming to whisper some type of reassurance that he was right, and the murmur in the dark thicket of his thoughts continued to warble louder with each second that passed between them.

That's when two people become one.

His own words echoed in his mind as he smiled at her. "Yeah," he'd told her. "But what's important is we try. And when we do it right, we get close."

"To what?" she said with a faint laugh at the edge of her husky voice. "Breaking the laws of physics?"

"Yeah, Bones," he'd replied with a lopsided grin. "A miracle..."

He'd felt his stomach flip in his belly again as the word miracle fell from his lips, and a warmth oozed through his chest as the murmur in the back of his mind took shape and formed words. When two people become one, it said to him. She's the one. The one for you. The one who's been a part of you for longer than you can remember. A lump formed in his throat as he thought how badly he wanted her, and for how long he'd wanted her, and how empty he'd felt in the interminably long year that he went without her.

He closed his eyes and shook his head, took a long sip of his Jameson's and felt the liquor burn its way down his throat as he leaned back against the couch. She doesn't want me that way, he told himself. She doesn't. I'd know it if she did. He paused for a beat as another thought occurred to him. Besides, it's not right for me to push her that way. If I tried to push her for more when she doesn't want it, or isn't ready for it, it would be wrong. I can't take advantage of her like that. I have to protect her...protect our partnership...protect what we have no matter the cost.

So he'd drawn the line, unilaterally, and reminded himself that he had to stay on the safe side of that line, both for his good as well as hers. That line, which cut him deeply to have to draw, was the price he'd had to pay to keep her safe. After the Gravedigger and Epps, Booth couldn't contemplate a life without her. To protect her, to save her, to keep her happy and safe, he would do anything—including deprive himself of her—if being with her the way he wanted to be with her meant she was exposed to danger. But the longer he held that line, the more it wore on him. He felt a battle raging inside of him between the inexplicable pull he felt towards her and the deep protectiveness he felt for her. The pull was so strong, he nearly gave in, more than once, but he reminded himself that he had to keep her safe, so he always held himself back. It wore on him, and he slowly felt himself eroding under the strain of it.

I can't do this, he sighed. Fucking madness. I want her more than anything, but I know she doesn't want me. I want to tell her how much she means to me, but if I do, I could lose her. And that's just one risk, one gamble I'm not willing to take. I just can't lose her. Not now, not ever. I just can't.

He thought of all the men who'd passed through her life in the years since he'd met her, and how none of them even approached being worthy of her. There was the weird guy she met online, David Simmons, who'd set Booth's highly-honed spidey-senses all aflutter. He thought about that bastard professor of hers, Michael Stires, who'd betrayed her early on in the first year of their partnership. Then he thought about Sully, his friend and FBI colleague, who'd loved her in his way, but had eventually shown how little he really knew her when he'd tried to get her to sail away with him to the West Indies. A frown crossed his face as he thought about how she seemed to favor the tall, handsome, dark-haired types who reminded him a lot of the guy he looked at in the mirror every morning when he brushed his teeth.

Why not me, Bones? he asked, glancing over at his BlackBerry, as if the little phone would suddenly light up with her response to his silent question. Why not me? Am I not good enough for you? He shook his head again and drained the last ounce of his whiskey in a single swallow. I could make you happy, Bones, if you just gave me a chance. After the whiskey burned its way down his throat, and its vapors wafted their way into his sinuses, the voice in the back of his head tsked at him. Of course, how could she give you the chance, you tool, since you never even really gave her a real chance? You never really made a move, so who cock-blocked who here, boyo?

He slammed the cut-crystal tumbler on the coffee table with a hard thunk and stood up from the sofa. He picked up the remote, clicked off the game, threw the remote back on the sofa and turned around to walk into his bedroom.

He thought of the look in her glimmering blue eyes the night before at the diner and the way his skin had flushed warm as he felt himself falling into those eyes, farther and deeper with each passing second. It wasn't just the way she felt so uncannily familiar to him. It was more. She was real, and the way she made him feel, for reasons he couldn't begin to articulate, made him feel that what existed between them, whatever it was, was also real. It was real, and it was profound, and as he looked into her bright blue eyes, he felt himself sinking deeper into it.

"Those people," he'd told her. "Role-playing and their fetishes and their little sex games. It's crappy sex. Well, at least compared to the real thing."

She'd blinked, her blue-gray eyes flickering for a moment as she considered his words.

"You're right," she'd said.

As he lay in his bed that night, his throat still aflame with the burn from the Jameson whiskey, he tried to shake away the raw energy coursing through his limbs as his whole body felt all a-twitter. The way she'd looked back at him the night before, her eyes alive with something, some kind of emotion that he couldn't quite put his finger on, and the way she'd actually agreed with him, conceding his point about making lovehe'd felt it, and in that moment, somehow...he'd just known. He'd known that she felt it, too. Whatever it was, this thing that crackled between them, it was real and special and just between them, and he was certain that she'd felt it, too.

"You're right," she'd said.

As the warm arms of sleep slowly embraced him that night, he felt a curious optimism begin to murmur inside of him, a new feeling he hadn't felt before, pulsing deep in his gut next to the caution and doubt that had resided there for so long. He knew what he wanted, and he knew who he wanted it with...


It had been a long night.

It had been a long night, and a lot had already happened to them both. After the EMTs and requested backup had arrived at Aloha Flowers Supply in the village of Friendship Heights near Chevy Chase, Maryland. They'd located Megan Shaw, alive and still traumatized over what had happened to her since she'd been kidnapped just a few days earlier. They'd discovered Brennan and Booth, bruised, battered, bleeding, and in Booth's case, suffering from a flesh wound in his left leg. And, they'd found Peter Geller's dead body—shot in the chest, through a metal door, by Booth with a single bullet from Brennan's gun. By the time that Booth had finished talking to members of his field detail that had scurried to answer the call of their supervisor's plea for backup, Brennan had stayed with Megan Shaw until her parents arrived to accompany her to a nearby hospital. More paperwork and discussions and the need to convey explanations would await them upon their return to work the next day. But, after a couple of hours—and, when it became clear that Booth was going to be stubborn and not let the EMTs take him to the hospital to have his leg treated beyond what they'd already done at the scene—the only thing that remained was for Booth and Brennan to leave. Neither one of them was quite ready to go home, not after everything that had happened. And, so that was how they ended up returning to the lab.

As the sliding glass doors opened, the first thing that both Booth and Brennan noticed was how quiet the lab was. Booth's lips pursed as he quickly surveyed the law and saw that, but for the pair of them, the whole area was essentially deserted.

"Where is everybody?" Brennan asked, her eyes surveying the empty lab as she frowned when confronted by the sight that greeted them.

Booth took a slow step forward, his leg a bit stiff from having held it in a rather uncomfortable position while the EMTs had applied a topical anesthetic and sutured the wound that he'd gotten from being grazed by a bullet from his partner's oversized gun. Glancing around, his battered (and borrowed) Jeffersonian blue lab coat in one hand, he shrugged his shoulders as he answered, "At the party, I guess."

Brennan looked back over at him and quickly responded, "We could still go."

Glancing down at his own haggard appearance, and then taking in the sight of Brennan's ruined costume, he slowly shook his head. "Ah, we look like hell," he grumbled with a sad shake of his head since he'd been particularly looking forward to seeing all the eggheads at the party see his squint costume.

Knowing how proud of himself that Booth had been when he'd come up with his costume, Brennan wanted to try to salvage the night for him. "It's a Halloween party," she began tentatively. "We could be Wonder Woman and—ummm," she lightly hit his forearm with her hand as she gestured at him. "What's Superman's secret identity?"

Reaching into his plaid shirt pocket, Booth pulled out the thick black-rimmed glasses and put them on his face. He then leveled a serious stare at her as he pointed with his index finger and answered, "Clark Kent."

Smiling at him, Brennan nodded, "Yes." She then chuckled as she added, "We could be Wonder Woman and Clark Kent after a really, really bad date."

She then realized that not only was she tired and sore and feeling strange because of what night it was—particularly when it was the first Halloween interlude in eighty-five years where, even though she was spending it with Booth, they wouldn't be any closer than they were in that moment...and definitely wouldn't be having sex—but her feet hurt. Taking a few more steps, Brennan sat down with a soft grunt on the platform's steps.

Booth narrowed his eyes at her as he replied, "Yeah, a bad date." Taking the lab coat that he'd been carrying, he tossed it on one of the railings as he pointed at her. His brow crinkled as he said, a bit of indignation coming into his voice, "Because you shot me."

Quick to defend herself, Brennan retorted, "It was only a flesh wound." She then pointed out, "And you dropped me on my head."

Gesturing with his hands, Booth refused to concede the point to his partner. "After you shot me," he said. He then reached up and pulled off his glasses before he moved to sit down next to her as he said, "Okay, I think I got you on this one. Okay, Wonder Woman?"

Brennan flashed him another look in response even as he sighed heavily. He wagged his eyebrows at her to emphasize the point. Her pale blue eyes, an even more noticeable shade of blue than their normal color because of the silver eyeshadow and dark smudges that circled her eyes, quickly gave him a once over. The pair sat there for a moment, enjoying the quiet, even as Booth looked away from her. She could feel that something was weighing heavily on his mind, and she believed she had a good idea as to what it might be. Her suspicions were confirmed even as she started to speak and watched his jaw tense in reaction to her words.

"I'm sorry you had to kill someone," she said, her voice low and quiet. She watched Booth stare at a random spot on the lab's floor even as his tongue darted between his lips, another tell that he was distracted and distressed by the point that she'd just verbalized even though he'd been the one to think of it first. "I know you hate that," she added, in what she hoped was a comforting voice.

After she'd spoken, Booth finally turned his head and looked over at her as he said, "Yeah, he had it coming."

Knowing that he was trying to dismiss the issue, and make it appear as if it wasn't a big deal that was causing him emotional turmoil, Brennan tried once more to comfort him. She inclined her head to let him know that his attempt to downplay the issue was an effort in futility as far as she was concerned. "You hate it," she told him, making a statement of fact and not asking a question as she did so. Her voice became a bit more tender as she apologized, "I'm sorry that happened to you."

Booth again answered simply, "We saved the girl." He nodded once before adding, "That's a pretty good date." He narrowed his eyes and considered what he'd said, then flashed his eyebrows once and shrugged with a lazy, open-mouthed grin and a flirtatious twinkle in his eye.

She stared at him for a moment, remembering the thousand times he'd given her that look and how quickly she'd go from smiling back to feeling his demanding lips on hers as he pressed his hard body into her, pinning her against the wood-paneled wall of her London home as his grasping lips worked their way down her neck. Brennan saw the flicker in his warm brown eyes and remembered him standing there in bare feet at the doorway to her bedroom, clad in trousers, suspenders and a tank T-shirt, and how those eyes had darkened as they surveyed her naked form as she lay in bed with her sheet draped casually over her hip and the cold wind howled, rattling her window as it blew off Lake Michigan. Her eyes followed the quirked line of his eyebrow and recalled the countless times he'd teased her with racy banter as his voice dropped into the lower registers and they circled each other with scarcely-restrained hunger, never sure which one would be the first to crack and give in to lust, but knowing that once one of them did, they would both be engulfed in desire as he would take her, however and wherever they broke, whether it was in the slate-floored walk-in shower of his penthouse apartment or on the buttery-soft leather couch in his Wolfram & Hart office.

No, she told herself as she blinked away the memory and tried to ignore the flood of feelings that she felt awash in at that moment. No, it's not...I can't, she told herself silently as she blurted out, "Except not really a date."

"I know," he nodded at her. "It was—"

"—work," Brennan completed his sentence. She then added, "Not a date." Even if I wish it had been...very, very much.

Booth, not seeming to pick up in her slight change in mood, quantified her point by saying, "A really, really hard one."

Even as he sat there looking at her, his dark brown eyes looking directly into hers, Brennan started to panic as she tried to reestablish in her mind that no matter how much she wanted tonight to be different from every night that had filled the last three years, it wasn't. Struggling to find a logical (and distinct) reminder, she said, "And, we're not really Wonder Woman and Clark Kent." As Booth continued to stare at her, she felt herself being sucked into the wide expanse of his warm brown eyes as if by falling into his gaze she could feel his strong arms wrapped around her and his big, thick-fingered hands curling around her hips.

Brennan felt his fingers on her hips and leaned her head back slightly, sure in that moment, for that short, fleeting moment, that she could feel his teeth scrape across the skin of her neck as he pressed her against the exposed brick wall of her apartment as the biting Midwestern wind hurled the rain in heavy sheets against the window. Her mouth fell open, and she almost whispered the name 'Angel,' but she caught herself and closed her eyes, shaking her head as she took a breath. She bit the inside of her lip to remind herself of the very important point lest she forget in this time and place who they each really were—not who they might've been or who she wished they could be.

"We're Brennan and Booth."

For his part, Booth seemed a bit uncertain as to why Brennan had started acting slightly strange. He noticed her tense body language and hoped he could put her at ease as he said, "Look, you're the one who brought up the date analogy—" He then smiled at her, feeling a strange flash of energy jump between them, almost like static electricity, which puzzled him.

Opening her eyes again, Brennan saw him raise his eyebrows expectantly, and she remembered how that brow had creased when she'd mentioned that she'd written a book. "Your everyman," he'd told her, his eyebrows waggling as he grinned. "It should be a guy." She glanced down at his hands and recalled the countless nights she'd fallen asleep as those hands had gently caressed her hair as she nuzzled into the crook where his arm and shoulder met, resting her cheek against the muscles of his chest.

She closed her eyes and saw a small vase of daffodils, white and yellow in her mind's eye, sitting in the warmly-lit entryway to her terraced house in Cheapside, and heard his brogued voice murmur in her ear as she felt his arm snake around her waist. "Ya like the wee blooms I brought for ya, lass?" he asked. "I got ya both the colors this time. The white ones remind me of your pretty skin, so pale and perfect."

She raised her chin and sighed, and she remembered him as he walked into her bedroom, his hands full with a tray of tea and scones. She remembered his warm brown eyes looking up from his tea. "I'm not leaving, Bren," he'd said. "I'm staying. As long as you'll have me, I'll be here, right by your side."

She felt her arms suddenly pebble with gooseflesh as she remembered waking up with him in a white, gauzy room off the Pacific Coast Highway in the quiet hours before morning twilight, the cool, salty summer breeze blowing in from the patio and making the mosquito netting around their bed sway as he made deep, gentle love to her, his groans met by her low sighs as he rocked his body against hers in the clear, angled moonlight as it reflected off Monterey Bay. "Ohh, Bren," he'd groaned, shuddering and holding himself inside of her as he flooded her with his release. She shook her head and opened her eyes, unable to resist smiling back at the toothy, brown-eyed grin that greeted her.

It was almost too much for her as the memories washed over her.

Almost, she thought. But, I can handle it. That was then...this is now. I can handle it. He's not Angel anymore. He hasn't been Angel for years. He's not Angel, and he doesn't feel that way about me. He's my partner. He's Booth. He's my partner and my friend. Nothing more.

But, even as Booth smiled at her and she mentally tried to remind herself that the man who sat next to her wasn't a man who loved her and had for over a century, and Brennan felt a familiar flip flop sensation in the pit of her stomach, for just the briefest of seconds—despite her earlier resolutions not to forget—Brennan didn't remember who or what they were in this time and place. All she saw were an intimately familiar pair of soulful brown eyes, a hauntingly charming smile, and a very kissable pair of lips that she longed to feel once more. Unable to help herself, she leaned forward and tilted her head slightly as she closed the space between them.

Her lips were just fractions of an inch from his and she felt his breath on her upper lip and could hear the ragged sound of his breath rattling in his throat. Her nostrils flared as she inhaled the scent of his sandalwood aftershave and the faint tingle of his menthol shaving cream, and she suddenly remembered the night she found him huddled in the cold on Halsted Street on a windblown Halloween night eighty-four years earlier. She recalled lathering up his face as he lay in her bathtub and shaving him with a straight-razor, and the incredible way they'd made love afterward, sharing a bed again for the first time in a quarter century. She remembered the way he'd cradled her in his arms that night as she dozed off in the wake of her release.

For a minute, smelling him and feeling his lips so close to hers, she felt as if they were back in her bed in Chicago or in his bed in L.A. or anywhere where it would've been okay for them to be together...anywhere but where they were in that moment. She'd wanted him for so long, and—but for that first case when she'd still be getting her bearings on knowing and remembering the difference between who he'd been as Angel and who he was as Booth—she'd been strong and done what she needed to do to protect the life he had now. She hadn't come close since that night in front of the pool hall to contravening his free will. She'd toed the line, as she was doing this night, but had never crossed it. She never went too far, but was sorely tempted on this night—this Halloween night when she was at both her strongest and weakest, her most vulnerable—to see how far she could go with him without going too far. She wanted him—she always wanted him—but she especially wanted him on this night that had always been so special for her, for them. For months, she'd been preparing herself for knowing that, even if she'd be with him for some part of that day or night, it wouldn't be the same. She'd have to face it herself. Brennan wasn't quite certain how things were going to proceed, but she knew she'd find someway to get through it all. Still, as she was trying to survive the process of 'getting through' things, the emotions and sensations of a hundred fifty years of being with him and loving him inundated her. She felt as if she was drowning in a waterfall of memories and—in fleeting moment of total weakness when she stopped thinking and only felt...remembering not who she was or who he was or where they were...only how they felt—she reached over and kissed him.

Booth's lips parted and he felt a wave of desire wash over him as Brennan's tongue slipped into his willing mouth and twirled briefly against his.

He moaned into her kiss as she pulled away slightly and then kissed him again, her glossy, bright-red lips grasping at his mouth hungrily as he suddenly began to feel lightheaded as the floor started to spin beneath his feet. As he closed his eyes, surrendering himself to the sensation of feeling her mouth on his, and her velvety tongue dance with his, the warm, shapeless black before his eyes suddenly exploded into a dizzying kaleidoscope of images, sounds, smells, tastes, and emotions that inundated him as he felt Brennan's lips pull away from his with a husky laugh.

His brow knit low and hard over his eyes as he took a couple of stumbling steps back and shook his head in frustration as if the violent movement of his head would still the cacophony of sounds and images that were flooding his mind.

He looked over at Brennan, with her bee-stung lips and her chest rising and falling in ragged, heaving breaths, and her face was bathed in warm, flickering firelight, the soft reddish curls of her hair falling free from her braid as she shook her head from side to side, causing her silky auburn hair to cascade over her shoulders and spread fanlike over the pillow as she fell back onto the bed.

Seeing the panic in Booth's wide eyes, Brennan reached her hand out to touch his arm, and he grunted, shrugging out of her grasp and batting her hand away.

He suddenly felt cold, a hard, damp, frigid wind biting at his cheeks as he saw her reach for him, her black-gloved hand extended as he stared at the alleyway's snow-dusted brick paving stones. He pushed himself off the ground with his knuckles, the cold making his skin painfully sensitive as the corners of the bricks scraped at his dried, calloused skin.

Booth grunted as he brought his hands up to his face and covered his eyes, rubbing them with the heels of his hands as he growled in frustration. He squeezed his eyes shut, but still the images flooded his vision. He gritted his teeth and covered his ears even as he heard his partner say his name in a firm yet gentle tone of voice.

"Angel," she whispered, walking over to him and placing her hand on his shoulder.

"No," he groaned, swiping his arm through the air as he tried to push her away. "No!" Booth held his hand out in front of his face as if to shield himself from her penetrating gaze. "Just leave me alone," he hissed. "Go away. I don't know why you're doing this to me. Leave me alone. I don't need you. Don't touch me."

"No way," Brennan told him quite simply. "That's not good enough, Angelus."

"Stop it!" he shouted, waving his hands in the air in front of him as he clenched his eyes tightly shut and shook his head with a growl. "Go away. I don't want...just leave me alone, will you?"

Booth's breaths came hard and shallow as he squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head repeatedly as if by doing so he could rattle the obtrusive images and sounds from his mind.


A/N2: Uh, oh...what did Brennan do? And, more important, what's going to happen to Booth now that she's done it?

We're off and running, ladies and gentlemen.

If you're ready for what we think is probably the most a-linear, but most enlightening piece of the entire Angel(us)-Booth/Brennan nine-story cycle, then buckle up and get ready. This is part one of what we think is a five-part story. So, please, let us know what you think by clicking that bright shiny blue button below, and we'll be back shortly with Part 2.

In the meantime, if you haven't already, don't forget to check out Twitter and look at where Brennan is dishing on her relationship with Angel(us)-Booth and these stories...among other things. Just Google Twitter and WitchyBren and you can read all about it in between chapter postings...or even ask her a question or leave a comment if you want. She's very snarky and fun and won't put a hex on you...unless you really, really deserve it.

Until then, we'll be back shortly. Promise!