A/N: This one is for JenLovesBones because she is brave and lovely and supportive in every situation and I'd like to be even half as awesome to her as she has been to me when I needed it most. Also, because I wrote this while listening to Sara Bareilles' 'Brave' on repeat yesterday and that was mostly all her fault. Not that I'm complaining…
Brennan was in her living room when she heard the familiar sound of Booth's key sliding into her lock. She quickly put down her laptop and was halfway to the door when he opened it.
"Welcome back." She smiled as she greeted him.
"Hi." He grinned, surprised to see her waiting on the other side of the door. "Did you miss me?" He teased as he shut the door behind him.
"Very much. Did you miss me?" She asked as she wrapped her arms around him.
"You have no idea." He said as he picked her up. Brennan squealed as he carried her towards the bedroom.
"What are you doing? Put me down!" She cried through her laughter.
"Not a chance, Bones." He said as he twisted her into a fireman's carry and her arms immediately went around his neck for purchase. "It's been two weeks and I'm not letting you out of this bed until we are both too weak to move."
"That makes no sense." She said as Booth set her down on the bed and straddled her. She had missed the sight of him towering over her in bed.
"That's what happens to my brain when it's away from you for extended periods of time. It atrophies." He said seriously.
"Well, maybe next time you should decline the undercover assignment." Brennan suggested as Booth began unzipping her sweatshirt. She wasn't wearing anything underneath it and he groaned in appreciation before kissing the valley of her breasts once and moving on.
"Maybe if we lived together, we'd actually get to see each other sometimes when we're working separate cases." He suggested as he pulled her cotton pajama shorts to her ankles.
"Give me just enough time and space to make me desperate for you and then mention moving in? Smart negotiating tactic." She commented as she finally lost the last of her clothes and began working on his.
"It's been six months, Bones. I'm tired of sharing spaces. At least let me start looking for a place to keep all my suits in one location."
"Mm, like you haven't started looking already." She grinned before nibbling on his earlobe. He moaned again as he pushed her back down on the bed and climbed over top of her once more.
"You like to put up a fight." He said knowingly as he brushed her hair out of her eyes. "But you know that I'm right about this one. It's the logical thing to do." He hummed in her ear as he slipped her legs over his back.
"I know that I've missed you." She conceded.
"Mmm, hold on to that feeling." He requested as he entered her swiftly.
"Bones…." Booth murmured in her ear the next morning. She swatted him away and turned the blanket over her head, wanting to get away from him. "Time to wake up."
"No." She pouted groggily. "Saturday." She informed him.
"I made coffee." He added as he pointed to the end table. She peeked one eye over the hem of the comforter to prove what he was saying was true.
"What do you want?" She asked, instantly knowing he was up to something.
"I'm bored. Let's do something fun. It's nine already; time is wasting. Come on, chop, chop." He said as he poked her blanket.
"Booth!" She protested with a loud groan. "You are a grown man, fully capable of entertaining yourself. You should try it." She said.
"I have been, for the last two weeks. Now I want to spend time with you." He said adamantly. "I'm not giving up on this so you might as well give in." He assured her as he read her thoughts. She groaned her objection but the comforter fell from her face as she turned to face him.
"You are impossible." She informed him.
"You love me." He reminded her.
"If I'm getting out of bed, you had better at least have a plan." She said as she reached for her coffee.
"Wanna go for a run?" He asked. "I'll let you pick the route." He handed over control, enticing her with what she couldn't deny taking. She sighed. The truth was that she had missed running with him while he had been gone. It was their thing now, something they did together when they could find the time. They had discovered its appeal accidentally; back when they were still more than a little broken. It was an activity that required no talking, was a bit competitive, and yet, required some level of bonding none the less. They had run together until they were ready to be together, and continued on out of habit afterwards.
"Fine." She answered, not giving her own opinion one way or the other. "Let me get dressed." She requested as she headed for her closet. Booth was considerate enough to turn his delight inward and nod once, as if it made no difference to him at all.
God, he had missed her.
Booth watched as every muscle in Brennan's body moved gracefully, loose and fluid, as she took each stride. He was keeping up nicely, despite his recent lack of exercise, yet chose to remain behind to watch her. It was his favorite part of running with her.
They turned a corner, his mind quiet and peaceful, when Brennan noticed something. Out of the corner of her eye, she took in something and then slowed down. She jogged in place for a moment before stopping completely. Booth made it a stride past her before turning around.
"What's wrong?" He asked concerned. She never stopped mid-run. Ever.
"The house." She pointed to it and tilted her head, looking completely confused.
"What?" He asked again as he took in the 'For sale' sign in the front yard, wondering if he might finally be making progress on their little debate.
"It looks just like a dollhouse I had as a child." She said, completely in awe of the resemblance.
"You had a dollhouse?" Booth smiled, trying to reconcile the adorable image of a tiny Brennan playing with dolls with the rational scientist he knew. She was an author so he knew that her imagination was strong but he would bet anything that she also probably sliced open her dolls to examine their insides.
"Yes, and it looked….exactly like this." She said in wonder yet again.
"They're having an open house later today. We should go and check it out!" He said animatedly. "But if you recognize the furniture, we're out of there." He added seriously.
"It's not the same house, Booth." She rolled her eyes. "I just…I had forgotten about it until just now." Booth wondered if this was one of those moments where it was okay to ask questions about her past or if she wanted to hold on to the sacred memory for herself. He figured he'd start with a benign question and go from there.
"How old were you?" He asked as he started walking backwards slowly towards her apartment. She thought about it before starting to walk with him.
"Very small. Four or five?" She guessed as he turned to walk side by side with her. Apparently, they were talking about this.
"Aw. Little Bones." He grinned as he nudged her with his shoulder playfully. She chuckled at the moniker. "And let me guess: you performed mad scientist experiments on all of your dolls." She shook her head at his question. "Put them through weird African tribal rituals?" He asked with a teasing smirk.
"Mostly, I just played House." She replied. Booth was pleasantly surprised by her simple answer. "Although there was a time when Russ's G.I. Joes invaded and we had to go to war." She conceded. "But eventually, I outgrew it and it sat in the corner until my parents eventually gave it away or donated it, who knows." She shrugged.
It was rare that either of them talked about uncomplicated memories from their childhoods and Booth couldn't resist pulling her to a stop and kissing her sweetly for her willingness to share. The familiar taste of their tongues mingled with their salty sweat and Booth felt his abdomen contract sharply in reaction. He pulled away and stared at how beautiful she was, both inside and out, and he realized he had to have her immediately. Her gaze suggested she was reading his mind as her eyes twinkled briefly.
"I'll race you." She smirked as she took off. Booth was still standing dazed on the sidewalk as he realized she was already halfway down the block.
"Not fair." He shouted after her as he chased her down.
They returned to the open house a few hours later, freshly showered and both more than a little curious to find out what was on the other side of those doors, albeit for very different reasons.
"Hello, welcome." A far too cheery realtor grinned from the porch. "My name is Janine and I'm here to answer any questions you might have about the property. Please help yourself to refreshments in the lovely kitchen and while you're there, please take note of all of the natural light." She said as she thrust a listing flyer into Booth's hands.
"Is she on some sort of stimulant?" Brennan whispered to Booth, who simply smiled politely at the realtor while pushing Brennan towards the kitchen as fast as he could.
"So what do you think, Bones?" Booth asked as he changed the subject quickly. "Are we walking through your dollhouse?"
"Of course not." She said. "My dollhouse was cut in half, making it easier to access all the roo….wow, there really is a lot of natural light in here." She commented as she took in the kitchen.
Booth knew a great hand when he had it and this house was exactly what he needed. He immediately began to strategize on how to play it. He watched carefully as she ran her hand over the counter and looked out into the backyard from the sink's window.
"Fenced in backyard." Another realtor commented from the patio door. "Great for kids or dogs." Brennan took one more passing glance outside before turning around.
"Shall we check out the upstairs?" She asked her partner and Booth nodded. They passed another couple on the stairs debating the merits of turning the servants' room into a larger master bath and Booth glanced down at the flyer once more. It was an old house, but that was its charm. He hated the idea of people buying it just to gut it and start over.
"Two and a half bedrooms." Booth mentioned as they hit the first one. It was clearly a girl's bedroom, a little small, but totally adequate for a child with a twin sized bed.
"It's very… pink." Brennan said with a smile. The master bedroom was next door and Booth purposefully stuck his head into the master bath to gauge its size. It was perfectly adequate to his eyes. On the other side of the hall was the servants' room, which could be used as storage or a small office, and the guest bedroom. Brennan stayed completely silent as she took it all in and Booth knew that it was because she was analyzing. When they got to the bottom of the stairs again, Booth finally had to interrupt her thought process.
"Do you want to see the basement?" He asked her. She nodded and he led the way to the back staircase. There was a small pantry, a wall full of shelving units used to keep food and other essentials but otherwise it was mostly empty. It was in the quiet of the empty room that Brennan finally spoke.
"I would like to buy this house." She informed Booth quickly, as if she were afraid he might say no. Booth stared at her, unsure he had heard her correctly.
"I'm going to put in an offer." Booth took a step back and realized what she was saying.
"You are going to buy this house." He repeated.
"Yes. I'll call my accountant and tell her to make it happen." She said, less than humbly.
"Bones, you can't just decide to buy us a house."
"Why not? Do you not like it?" She asked. "Judging by the careful way you've been staring at me, I assumed you were interested."
"When I told you I wanted to move in with you, to have a place that was ours, I meant that my name would be included on the deed." He said gently, trying not to lose his cool in public.
"It will." She said, just as surprised by his statement as he was in having to make it. "I didn't mean to imply… it would be our house, Booth."
"One that I magically don't have to pay for?" He inquired, starting to lose his patience. The sound of footsteps coming down the stairs halted them both from speaking another word. Brennan stared at him for a moment before heading upstairs. Booth waited a beat before following her up and out of the house.
"Why are you the one who is mad here?" Booth asked as he caught up with her.
"Because I thought…" she paused as she reached into her purse for her keys, "I thought that we were passed this." She unlocked the car and she got in the driver's seat. Booth quickly tried the passenger side door handle, wondering if she was planning on leaving him on the street. To his relief, it was unlocked and he crammed himself into her tiny car.
"Passed what?" He asked, still not following. "Because I'm wracking my brain here and as far as I can tell, you have never tried to buy me a house before."
"You don't like that I have money." She accused. "You never have." She started the car and Booth stared at her, shocked.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa." He said as he reached over and turned off the car. "No. There is a big difference between you having money and suddenly using it to pay for my financial responsibilities." He defended. "You can have all the money you want, okay, I don't care, but you don't get to just buy us a house without so much as a conversation about it."
"You have been begging me for weeks to consider living together in a new place." She reminded him.
"Yes! And you have been refusing to talk about it for weeks!"
"Is there something wrong with the house?" She asked, changing the subject.
"I don't know! You know why? Because we've never talked about it." He burned. "Last night, you wouldn't even consider it, let alone make a decision. Apparently, taking me out of the equation was all that you needed to move forward." She gave him a withering glare that told him she was no longer having this conversation and started the car. It was a short trip back to her house and Booth didn't bother following her inside. He went straight to his car and drove to his own apartment.
It took all of ten minutes for Brennan's anger to wear off and for her to acknowledge that she had handled the situation incorrectly. In the back of her mind, she had known that Booth wouldn't be able to afford his half of the house immediately and part of her had hoped that he would just be so excited that she was finally giving in, that he would just let it slide.
He had chosen that very moment to stop being impulsive and actually want to discuss things. Brennan sighed. She had really loved that house. It was very hard for her to move from the home she had built herself, she had never hidden that from him, but the reason she had been so obstinate about it was because she knew what a house represented for him. It represented permanency. It required, at least on some level, a conversation about where this was going, what they wanted out of life, and she was terrified that they wanted different things. Did he want a marriage? Children? A dog? All of these things were pieces of a conversation they hadn't had since they'd been together, and he was right to call her out on it. She had hoped they could skip the hard part and just go straight to the moving in part and that it would all work itself out.
She had become the gambler.
The knock on Booth's door was simultaneous with the sound of it opening.
"Hello?" She called out, wanting to enter smoothly. "Booth?" He walked out of his bedroom and paused in the hallway. "Can we talk?" She asked, already looking apologetic. Booth motioned to the living room silently and she made her way down the hall and sat down on the couch.
"I understand now." She started off vaguely. "What you were trying to do that night at the Hoover. Skip the conversation for fear of an answer?" He looked at her surprised. "I had never understood why you would do that before; why you would deny a relationship for so many years and then out of the blue just ask me to jump." She shook her head. "And despite knowing better and having been on the other side, I just tried to do it to you and I'm sorry." Booth stayed silent, taken aback by her observation. "The reason I didn't want to discuss moving in together was because I didn't want to find out that we wanted different things. I didn't want to give you time to realize that I couldn't give you what you really wanted."
"Impossible." He shook his head as he sat down next to her on the couch.
"As I walked through that house, I saw it, you know? I saw where the furniture was going to go and where you would hang up your artifacts." She paused. "And I wanted it. I wanted that life before it could slip away."
"It's not going anywhere, Bones." Booth promised, but she looked doubtful.
"Do you want to have kids with me?" She asked him bluntly. He paused for a second only to process her question.
"Yeah. I do." He answered seriously.
"What about marriage?" She bit her lip and he noticed.
"Bones, I want to share a life with you." He said as he reached out for her hand. "This isn't some Norman Rockwell painting that I'm looking to recreate. I want to be with you, whatever that means for us. If one day, you wake up and decide you want to move to Bora Bora to dig up skeletons, there will at least be a discussion, but I'm open to anything so long as you are there with me."
"You would hate Bora Bora." She said decisively.
"See? I'm that dedicated." He promised and she smiled briefly. "Look, I don't know what it's like to have a normal life stolen from you, to have even the memories of that life tainted by factors outside your control. I have always had a "different" kind of family life, first as a kid and now as a dad. But because of that, I know love and family when I see it, Bones. We have that, both together and with the team, and I would never do anything to ruin that for either one of us. You have to trust me with that."
"I do trust you." She replied.
"Do you? I'm not talking about life and death partner type stuff here. I'm talking about heart and soul."
"I do." She promised. "Although sometimes I forget." She acknowledged. He smiled. "Do you trust me, heart and soul?" She asked as her face showed her obvious anxiety over the question.
"Of course I do." Booth nodded. "But sometimes I forget too." He added. "But when that happens, you always help me remember."
"I do? How?" She asked. Booth shrugged.
"Just by being you." He said simply. "You come over and say all the right things, or you snuggle up to me in bed, or you do something that is so quintessentially you and I fall in love with you all over again." He explained. "I'm constantly falling in love with you." He confessed. Brennan's insides did cartwheels at his confession but only a tiny smile appeared on her face.
"What?" He asked.
"Do you want to move in together?" She asked him softly but bravely, a grin breaking out on her face as she revealed her question. Booth nodded slowly before pulling her closer for a kiss. When they broke apart, he placed his cell phone in her hand.
"Call your accountant." He said, giving in.
"Really?" Her eyes lit up but she tried to hide her excitement. "What about paying your share?" She asked hesitantly, the phone twisting in her hands.
"If we're going to share a life together, I'm going to have to get used to being outbid by you." He said. "If this is what it takes to make you comfortable moving forward, then I will allow it." He conceded. "But use your chance wisely. You only get one." He cautioned. She nodded and pulled him in for a long kiss.
"You're the best thing that has ever happened to me." She whispered honestly and Booth briefly closed his eyes at the compliment.
"You better call fast before someone else snatches it up." He said with a nod to the phone.
"Okay." She said as she stood up and began dialing the number from heart. "Hey Booth?" She paused. He looked up at her. "In the interest of fairness, you get one big, life-changing request too." She informed him. She saw the surprised look grace his features before he glanced down at his hands, the wheels turning in his brain as he processed her words. She continued dialing and put the phone to her ear. "And when that day comes, I'm a size 6." She said as she held out her left hand bravely.