Umm… guys? Bones returns in just a little more than 50 FREAKING HOURS! *fangirls everywhere hyperventilate*

Do the promos make it look like a great premiere, or the greatest? (Heh. Heh heh.) No. Seriously. I'm like off the walls excited. It's been awhile. :)

I don't know if I like this story or not anymore because I've read it too much. I'm posting it... You tell me if it was a bad idea, k? Thanks to Some1tookmyname for her careful eye!

It was one of those things he always thought of as "theirs". One of those cute coupley quirks they had developed. Something that happened so naturally, he never gave it much thought, except that he loved it.

Since they'd gotten together, his most strived-for goal at the end of every day was to be home with his family before his daughter went to sleep. And because she slept early in the evening and his job wasn't nine-to-five, he was usually unsuccessful a couple times a week.

However, on most nights, he made it home in time to go to bed with his partner.

Most nights.

But still, his job had odd hours and sometimes his caseload didn't require her expertise, so while the occasional box of dusty old bones could keep her at work late, creating ample opportunity for a Dad 'n Daughter night, sometimes his job kept him at the office late too. And sometimes, because of their life together, they had to split duties and times, even if they worked on they same case.

Like today.

He's not a genius and he'd readily admit so. But standing there, before their bed, where she appeared to be sleeping soundly, he wanted to kick himself for not realizing what she had been doing all this time.

In the past, whenever he had climbed into their bed after she had closed her eyes, she repeated a pattern. Booth thought it was adorable that she woke up to every noise in the house. The beeping of the security system. The patter of footsteps in the hallway. Their daughter's middle-of-the-night cough. And his footsteps any time of the night in their room. To him, it was all more proof in the "Bones makes a terrific" Mom column.

So, while he felt guilty for waking her, he adored the fact that when he got into bed after her, she woke up to greet him. Every time.

He'd run through a condensed version of his nightly routine before slipping his body under the sheets and his arms around her body. And she'd turn in his arms to face him, and he'd move to hover over her and she would kiss him hello. And sometimes they were sleepy hellos that led to quick goodnights and sometimes he could tell she was wide awake, having merely closed her eyes while waiting for him.

And during those kisses, however light they stayed or passionate they became, she'd run her hands down both of his arms. And up his torso. And over his shoulders. And down his back.

And then her legs would press into his legs and her hands gripped his thighs and her feet rubbed lightly against his ankles, nuzzling the back of his ever-worn feet in a tender caress.

And sometimes it led to more. But other times, it felt as if it was just a simple way to touch base with him. To convey that she had missed him and that she loved him without saying a word, before they both rolled together and fell asleep.

And either way it went, God, he loved it.

But tonight, days after his daughter's third birthday, he felt foolish, because he realized what it had been all along. For years.

He hadn't thought of this process they went through, this pattern she had, until now because this time, he had something to hide.

That was when he understood exactly what she had really been doing all these years.

And this realization didn't make the gesture any less loving, he knew. Although, he'd be lying if he said his ego wasn't a little bruised at the realization that it wasn't that his partner simply couldn't keep her hands off of him after they'd been apart too long.

And his temper flared when he realized that this pattern occurred because she didn't trust him to be forthright about his day. Of course, as he stood frozen at the edge of the bed, terrified to make a move or noise that would indeed wake her and trigger the pattern all over again, the valve on his temper quickly shut off, knowing she was entirely right. He wouldn't be… he was trying to hide this from her.

Cursing the floorboard below him that creaked at his shifting weight, he watched her turn over to look up at him, her eyes a visible shade of blue even in the darkness of their room. Realizing she was waiting for him while he continued to just stand at the edge of their bed, he finally walked over to the bed, kneeled down using his good leg to support him and brushed a kiss over her lips.

"Sorry to wake you…" he whispered, and she began to pull him on top of her to repeat an old and familiar pattern once again. But he resisted and pulled back. "I want to check the doors downstairs… I forgot on my way up."

She smiled softly at him, too used to his protective streak and too tired to argue that, of course, she locked all the doors before going to bed, so unless he forgot to lock the door he came in, they were secure.

He planted another kiss on her forehead and went off to buy himself more time.

Taking a solid 10 minutes of roaming around the house aimlessly, he snuck back upstairs to his room, one soft-placed-sliding-I-learned-how-to-do-this-to-sneak-in-and-out-of-the-house-in-high-school-footstep after another, he made it back to their room as noiselessly as possible.

Still moving stealthy, he slid ever so slowly into their bed, arms at his side, feet and head turned to the ceiling, and held his breath as he waited for her to make a sound. After a solid minute, he took a deep breath and relaxed into the bed.

And that's when she rolled over to meet him.

"Any luck with the case?" she asked in a murmur, feeling up his left arm, before she tucked it underneath her so she could lie against him.

"It went fine… we caught the guy a few hours ago. Is Chris feeling any better?"

She updated him on the status of her daughter's cold and he tried to focus. But really, as she ran her hand down his right arm, he was thinking of what she'd find tonight, and felt worse.

Because it wasn't that he didn't need her expertise on the case he caught this week. He had needed it and often. But she hadn't come with him to interrogate a witness-turned-suspect today because their daughter had been cranky and sick and not eligible for daycare while contagious.

That was going to make her discovery a thousand times worse.

So he listened to her talk while forming a plan, as she ran her hands down his back and began up his torso. He quickly moved her onto her back and balanced himself above her, push up style, her hands falling from his body in the process.

"It sounds like we've both had long days. Time for some shuteye."

She frowned quickly at the expression, softening to a smile as she determined its meaning and leaned up to kiss him.

"An excellent idea, Agent Booth," she said, and he almost sagged in relief.

Until her hands found the small of his back. And moved over his waist to the front. Then down his hips to his thighs.

And he held his breath and closed his eyes in a last second attempt to keep his secret from her today. So he extended his injured leg into the air, in the direction of the ceiling.

He realized later that he might have had a chance had he simply moved to spoon her, effectively ending where her hands could go. Or if he had just whimpered through any pain her touch may have caused, maybe she wouldn't have felt the bandage on the back of his leg through the pants he wore to bed, earned in a tussle with their witness-turned-suspect earlier today.

But adopting a flying-like-Superman-ultra-flexible-yoga-pose? That certainly woke her up.

"What are you doing?" she asked, her hands stopping only momentarily before reaching for his leg .

"Nothing!" he squeaked as she grabbed for his leg in a flawed attempt to keep it from her. But he saw her eyes flare at him in the dark and knew that lying had been his most fatal mistake.

So while one of her hands continued gripping him, the other grabbed for the lamp on her bedside table. And in the moment that light took to blind Booth, she used her thighs to grip his hips and flipped him on his back, so that she was over him.

"You're hurt," she stated, instead of asking, as she began her inspection.

"It's nothing, Bones… just a scratch."

"A scratch is not nothing," she spat, tugging his pajama pants vigorously down his body after visually confirming his upper body was healthy.

While nearly tearing his pants off, she reversed her body on his torso so her back was to him, spying the bandaged area, peeling the tape away from his leg gently as she began her exam.

"Booth…" she uttered breathlessly as she studied him. "It's still bleeding…"

"Only because I put a new bandage on before coming to bed… it effected the clotting."

"I can't see anything in this light," she grumbled, moving so that the lamp provided more light to visualize his injury.

"It's not even deep…" he reassured her.

"But it hit a minor vein, hence the bleeding."

"Yeah…" he admitted with a sigh. "But, Bones, I'm fine."

"You're not fine, Booth. You left here this morning without a scratch on you. And now…"

"Don't think of me as used. Think of me as a valuable antique with some nicks…" he tried joking.

"At what time were you injured?"

"Baby, it doesn't matter…"

" So much earlier in the day, then. Did you even have a doctor look at this?"

"Paramedics on the scene said to see my doc tomorrow if the bleeding hadn't stopped for stitches. They didn't think it was a big deal."

"Which is great justification for not calling me. I see," she said briskly, slapping the bandage back into place and pressing in on the tape to reapply it to his skin and hold it in place.

Booth yelped a little from the final tap of her hand, and missed grabbing her as she shot from the bed and out of the room. "Bones…" he called after her, barely hearing her "I'm checking on Christine" excuse.

And he wanted to kick himself again because he knew, he knew, that not telling her was going to make her angry. But it wasn't a big deal to him and she was with their kid and not with him, which he was oh-so-grateful for, because he was hurt instead of her and it could always be her instead. But he knew she'd feel guilty anyway, believing if she had been there, she could have somehow prevented it.

After minutes had passed and she still hadn't returned, he got up in search of her, not having to go far. She was rocking in Christine's room, watching their daughter sleep. He knew that since Christine had been born, this was a technique she often employed instead of yelling or becoming angry. He sent up a quick prayer of thanks for one of the many reasons he was so grateful his daughter existed, because sometimes he knew she was the reason their household stayed a little more peaceful than the first eight years of their childless-partnership, when their tempers roamed freely.

"I wasn't with you today," she whispered without looking at him.

"And you'll hate to hear it, but I'm glad you weren't," he whispered back, thankful their daughter could sleep through thunderstorms and boisterous boys watching games on the television and late night conversations in her room.

"You were hurt and you didn't call."

"I should have. I know… but I hate to make you worry."

"I'm always worried about you."

"I know that too," he said, leaning against the doorframe.

He moved closer, kneeling down on his good leg and rested his head against her shoulder. They both remained silent for a few minutes, until Booth broke the spell. "You know, as a law enforcement officer, I'm surprised I hadn't picked up on a pattern of yours until tonight."

"A pattern?"

"Yep. See, I always thought the mere presence of my body is what got you to feel me up every time I join you in bed after getting home late from work. But now I know that you haven't been feeling me up. For years, Bones, you've been patting me down."

"What?" she said as a question, but with a lilt to her voice that let him know she knew what he meant.

"If you don't see me at the end of the day, you pat me down. Check me to make sure I made it home in one piece. It occurred to me as I was about to climb into bed tonight because I knew you'd find the bandage quickly. Here, I thought all this time, you were just hot for me. Instead, you just like to study me. I feel so used, Bones," he said, with nothing but mirth in his voice.

And it worked. She cracked a smile that he could clearly see in the nightlight-lit room and shook her head. "You poor baby, having to live through such anguish when you get into bed."

"It's been agony, some nights! Sometimes, you feel me up, then go right back to sleep. What's a man in his sexual prime to do at a time like that?"

"There are aides, in the drawer of your nightstand for when you mmphee…" she stuttered, cut off when he placed his hand over her mouth.

"Not in front of our daughter. Or anywhere. Ever," he whispered sternly while she laughed.

"Will you tell me what happened in the morning?" she asked, after successfully removing his hand from her mouth.

"If you promise to come back to bed with me now."

She smiled and rocked to stand, immediately grabbing for him to help him stand on his injured leg and they walked back to their bedroom hand-in-hand, slipping back under their covers.

He pulled her body to him, wrapping his arms around her and she reciprocated, her arms on his, intertwining their fingers. They both closed their eyes, hoping that sleep would catch them soon.

Until Brennan opened one eye and caught the alarm clock lights in the dark of the room.


"Booth," she whispered, tapping his arm with one finger and he hummed in response. "Technically, it's morning…"

He sighed, but she felt him smile into her shoulder just before he started to speak.

"So you know the victim's brother, the one with who liked the horse track a little too much. Well, Sweets developed his profile and wanted to run it by him to see if the guy sounded familiar…"

May you be so lucky as to have your own Booth to pat down at bedtime. :D