For Ren, one of my most favorite big time graduates, ever. I'm so proud of you. You've worked hard. The least I could do was write you a story. Congrats, Friend. Well done.
The Map of Us
We discover as we go
All the things we couldn't know.
We may laugh and cry and fuss
But this is the map of us.
"The more things change, the more they stay the same."
Brennan has never understood that saying. It makes no sense. If things change, they cannot stay the same, as well. It's simple logic. And if things change more than ever before, then those things are LESS the same, not more.
She hates that phrase.
She is finding that in some ways there is a sense of accuracy to it.
Things are very different. She can kiss Booth, and does so, whenever she wants. He sleeps in her bed, she sleeps in his. He makes her breakfast, she makes sure there is coffee for him when he stumbles blindly into the kitchen. He has soap in her shower, she has a toothbrush at his apartment and she is getting used to the fact that sometimes the roll of toilet paper in her bathroom will be put on wrong.
They have sex.
Very good sex.
Her stomach is beginning to round. Of all the things that are different, the fact that they are going to have a baby together is the most different thing of all.
She is quite sure she has never been happier.
Being thoroughly happy is different, too.
Change is not something she's ever been especially fond of or adept at, so while she is happy about all these new differences, she is equally glad that some things have stayed the same.
They are still working together and solving cases better than anyone else in the FBI. They eat at the diner and drink at The Founding Fathers (she has water, mostly, but it's close enough.) He continues to teach her pop culture while she continues to teach him all things scientific. He still nags her about eating (although the reasons for the nagging are different, the nagging is the same) and she still doesn't believe in gut instincts.
And they still bicker.
They bicker about facts versus instinct, about guesses versus logic. They still don't agree on religion or the importance of remembering every cop, firefighter, crime scene tech they come across. They bicker about food, his eating habits in particular, and he still doesn't understand the point of the metric system. Sweets is still a point of contention at least once a week (usually after their mandatory therapy) and they will never, ever not bicker about whom is more right about any given topic.
She's grateful for that. It's the way things have been for seven years and she doesn't want it to change. She likes who they have always been and has found that integrating the new aspects of their relationship into their old relationship has been easier than she thought.
Work is work and home is home and they are Them in all the very best ways.
Booth is well aware that they are in what most would call "The Honeymoon Period."
He just can't bring himself to care.
Being with her, being together, is all he's wanted for so long, that he's completely blown away by his new reality.
It's been seamless, really, the transition from them into Them. He can kiss her whenever he wants, and does so, quite frequently. He has suits in her closet, she has skirts in his. He stocks granola in his pantry and she has oatmeal at her apartment. She has a razor at his place and he has one at hers and not only is he getting used to the fact that sometimes the toilet paper in his bathroom is hung the wrong way, it actually makes him smile when he sees it.
They make love.
Beautiful, perfect, amazing love.
Her pregnancy is beginning to show. Of all the things that have changed, having a baby is the biggest and the most awe-inspiring. He notes the changes in her body and can't believe how lucky he is, how far they've come and how wonderfully it all just works.
He chalks a lot of this up to the fact that work has not changed. At work, they are still exactly who they have always been and he likes that. They still grab lunch at the diner and celebratory drinks at the Founding Fathers (even if she only has water, most times.) He still tries to get her to speak English, and she keeps right on talking Squint. He plays hunches and if he's lucky, she will occasionally allow for an intuitive leap, but will always try for a logical conclusion. Their solve rate continues to be the best.
They still bicker.
They bicker about anthropological significance (because she can apply anthropology to everything and that still drives him crazy sometimes) and religion. They don't agree on her carrying a gun, and he still won't let her drive. They don't see eye to eye after their mandatory therapy and they still bicker about going with his gut. He still believes that everything happens eventually and she will never, ever believe in fate.
And he always will.
He is giddy about all of it. He likes who they've been for the past seven years (mostly) and he's happy that the fundamentals haven't changed.
They are who they are, even with the new stuff. He pushes aside the Honeymoon Phase idea and laughs when Cam says he is practically floating on a cloud of happy. New is great, Old is perfect and they are Them and it's all he could ever have hoped for.
But it's a Friday, just like any other Friday, that things take a turn in a new direction; a point where Old meets New and they find that perhaps the way they've been since they've been Together, isn't the way things are always going to be. That Before seeps into Now and The Same seeps into The Different and what they are, and how they are and who they are isn't entirely set in stone.
She comes to bring him a file and, to her confusion, his office is locked up tight.
She would never have considered that a blow to her happiness would come from Charlie, until it does.
"He had to question a witness. Took Dr. Sweets with him."
Booth has left her behind. He's gone to do their job and left her behind.
She's furious. Furious enough to slide the file under his door and go home.
To her place.
Even though they are supposed to be at his.
If he can make arbitrary decisions about their partnership at work, then she can make arbitrary decisions, too.
If he's honest with himself, he knows she is probably aware that he went to question a witness without her.
She has to be. She doesn't answer her phone, she's not at the lab, the file from their last case is on the floor in his office and when he gets to his apartment, she isn't there.
But she is at her place.
He lets himself in and doesn't say a word about equal time or where they are supposed to be on this particular night, mostly because he'd like to believe that everything is fine. Surely if it wasn't, she would say so.
So when she doesn't, he settles into the kitchen and makes dinner and pretends that the conversation isn't stilted and there isn't something weird in the air.
Everything is fine.
Perhaps if he believes that hard enough, it will be true.
It starts with underwear.
Of course, it doesn't really start with underwear, but that's what she starts with.
"You left your underwear on the floor," she says, emerging from the bedroom.
He raises one eyebrow. "You weren't complaining when I took them off." He grins in that way that she usually allows to charm her.
But not today. "It's irritating."
"Well, that's how gravity works. I take them off, they fall to the floor."
"Gravity is not responsible for you leaving them there for three days."
"We've been at my place since Tuesday," he defends.
"And yet, we're here now. You've changed out of your work clothes; you've been in the bedroom. However, the underwear remains on the floor."
"Don't be sorry, just be tidy," she snaps. "This isn't your apartment where you can do things your way. This is my apartment and I prefer it to be neat."
He decides she is not the only one who gets to be snappish.
"Why are we here, anyway?"
"Aren't we supposed to be at my place?"
"I wanted to be here." She lifts her chin stubbornly.
"I think…" he hesitates before continuing on. "I think this might be something we should talk about."
"Your lack of tidiness?"
"No. Our living situation."
"Our living situation is just fine."
"My apartment, your apartment. Seems kind of stupid." He shrugs. "What about one place?"
"That would be unwise."
"Because, Booth, everyone needs space of their own."
"I have my place, you have your place. It works perfectly. There is nothing to discuss."
"We can't live like this when the baby comes."
"Why not? Infants are small and quite portable," she says, logically
"It's not good for us or the baby."
"We agreed that things didn't have to change."
"Maybe we were wrong about that."
"So you have arbitrarily decided that things do need to change." She isn't asking, but he misses that.
"Not arbitrarily. I'm trying to discuss it with you, now."
"You went out with Sweets today. You went to question a witness without me. That's an arbitrary change."
He's been called on the carpet and there is nothing to do but confess. "Yeah. I did."
"So you get to decide, then, how this works? You get to choose when to change?"
"It was dangerous."
"That's never been an issue before. I've always gone with you."
"I know, Bones, but—"
"But what? You know best? You know what's good for me?"
"In this case, yes. I thought it was best that you didn't come. The guy has a hair trigger temper and an arsenal to go with it. It wasn't safe."
"That is not your decision."
"It's my job to protect you. Always has been. That hasn't changed."
"But it has. You used to want me with you for these kinds of things. You used to want me as your partner!"
"I still want you as my partner—"
"Then you should treat me as you always have."
He isn't sitting calmly anymore. He's up and pacing as she stands her ground, anger rooting her to the spot. "You are marginalizing me because of the pregnancy." Her voice is bitter, her brow furrowed in anger.
But he is bitter, too. "And you are marginalizing your pregnancy. He was dangerous, Bones, okay? It wasn't safe for you to be there and yes, that is my call. You are not an FBI agent, you're a civilian with an association with the FBI. A pregnant civilian."
"So you don't want me as your partner anymore." Her voice is so cold it feels as if the temperature in the room drops by ten degrees.
"That is not true."
"No? You deliberately left me behind today. There is nothing partner-like about that."
"Maybe it's you who doesn't want me as your partner. Because as soon as you got pissed you ran back here to avoid me, back to your hidey hole of tidiness. And then you got even more pissed when you found out you can't run away from me that easily. Maybe you only want to do this your way. And let me tell you, Bones, that's not how relationships work!"
"Because you're such an expert? Tell me Booth, which of your past girlfriends taught you how relationships work? Rebecca? Because that didn't seem to work so well. Maybe Tessa? Except no, because she wouldn't even go on vacation with you. Or maybe it was Hannah. After all, it clearly worked so well that she turned down your proposal. So explain to me again why you think you get to tell me how this works."
"And you've what? Read books on the subject? Because I'm pretty sure a few months with Sully and sleeping with your college professor don't add up to being a pro either."
The look that crosses her face for a split second causes him instant guilt and regret, because in a flash of pain and truth he can see that she has read a book, or knowing her, books and he decides he is an ass.
She has been charting unfamiliar territory and he's been acting like he has all the answers, when really, she is right. A successful, long term, forever relationship is not something he knows anything about. And he wants nothing less than forever with her.
"Maybe you should go," she whispers and it jolts him. Hard.
But he won't be another person who turns his back on her and walks away. Not even for a minute.
She opens her mouth to argue, then closes it with an audible click of her teeth. She turns on her heel to walk away from him, then, and though he wants to catch her arm and stop her, that's too much like what his father used to do right before he left finger-sized bruises on his mother's skin.
He won't be that guy, either. Won't even come close.
So he talks.
"I want you as my partner."
She stops halfway to her bedroom, the huffy stalk-off turning into a motionless stand-still.
He takes a deep breath. "What happened today was because of that. Because more than wanting you as my partner, I want you as my partner, and I was afraid of losing that to a crazy man with an arsenal."
She doesn't turn around, but she doesn't walk on, so he knows she is listening.
"Things have changed. There is so much for me to lose that just thinking about it makes me feel sick." He takes a deep breath. "It's 30 or 40 or 50 years, Bones. That's what this is. I know it. And the idea that our time together could have been over by dinner today?" He shook his head. "I couldn't risk it. And maybe I handled it wrong and yes, I could have done it better, but you know what? You're right. I don't always know what I'm doing here, either. And I'm going to make mistakes. We both are."
He steps closer, but she still doesn't turn. "This isn't about underwear on the floor. It isn't about not taking you with me today and it's not about moving in together."
He can see her bristle but he steps right behind her now, so close he's nearly touching her.
But he doesn't.
"This is about being more than the sum of our mistakes."
In wordless concession, she leans back into him slightly, drawing their bodies together, and he angles his face into her hair and whispers, "I'm sorry."
He can see her eyelashes flutter shut, feel her take a deep breath. "I did read a book," she confesses and he chuckles slightly.
"No," she sniffs. "Four. They were all quite contradictory."
"I'm not sure that what we are can be defined by a book."
She turns to him, now and automatically he finds his arms around her, her hands pinned between them, resting on his chest. "They did all say that we have to talk to one another. Communication is key."
"I should have called you," he admits.
"And I should have gone to your place."
He smiles. "I do still want one place."
"But I can wait."
"You have always been worth the wait, Bones."
She kisses him then, soft and sweet and far too short for his liking. "You still shouldn't leave your underwear on the floor."
"And you still shouldn't be in situations that can get you killed." He kisses her now.
"I'll work on accepting some new definitions of our work together."
"And I'll work on the underwear."
She grins. "Maybe you could start working on it now." She kisses him again, her hands traveling from his chest to his waistband.
"Sure." He laughs against her mouth, and starts walking her backwards towards the bedroom. "I'll do my best to get it in the general direction of the hamper."
"Booth!" She mock protests, but she laughs too.
Because the road is long with many turns, and there is no roadmap for them to follow.
But they are more than they have ever been before and they will make their own way, one step at a time. Side by side.
And they are happy.
This was part of a project put together by the lovely RositaLG for the equally lovely Sunsetdreamer. To read the other stories search for Bones Je'Taime in the search box, or check my favorites. Amazing stories by some amazing writers. :)