By: dharmamonkey
Story Rating: T
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones. I am, however, interested in renting Booth. A five-hour minimum would apply.

A/N: Spoiler for episode 9x1. I'm not a Bonesology regular but I saw a prompt posted there by SarahInPrint. The prompt was: "Booth proposes to Brennan. Rules: 1. Less than 2,000 words 2. No mention of Pelant 3. Christine is physically in the story (she can be mentioned, but she is not present*) 4. A unique ring is involved." (*Taken to mean she wasn't present during the proposal.) Never one to turn down a challenge, here's my take. (Thanks to threesquares for the short-notice beta.)

Entropy: noun \ˈen-trə-pē\ the degradation of the matter and energy in the universe to an ultimate state of inert uniformity or equilibrium.

Life, it seemed, had finally returned to normal for them, or, rather, what passed for normal in the Brennan/Booth house. For Brennan and Booth, their normal was always tinged with disorder such that the unexpected was the one thing they could rely on, so much so that when things seemed to move towards a state of relative calm, the two partners knew that it was simply a matter of time before something—because it was always something—would roll into their lives and upset the delicately-balanced applecart.

No sooner had Booth spit out a mouthful of toothpaste foam into the sink than he heard Christine begin to cry from her room down the hall from theirs. He looked over his shoulder and saw his partner flip the covers off and swing her legs over the edge of the bed. Rinsing the last bits of toothpaste away with a handful of water he'd scooped from underneath the running spigot, he set his toothbrush next to hers in the cup between the vanities and cut off the faucet.

Booth's eyes narrowed and grinned crookedly at the sight of her legs, long, lean and pale, dangling over her side of the bed as they emerged from beneath the little lilac spaghetti-strap cotton babydoll she wore. He always came to bed in boxers, and she in a short nightgown of sorts, because while they slept in the nude, he could never get enough of the singular moment after he crawled into bed on his hands and knees and settled himself between her legs as he peeled that last piece of fabric off her porcelain curves as he felt her warm and slender-fingered hands slip beneath the waistband of his boxers and slide them over his hips .

Christine's second cry was louder and more insistent than before.

"I'll get her," he said with a smile and a wave of his hand as he paused at the bedroom door. Brennan opened her mouth to object then stopped herself, and for a moment she just looked at him, long-torsoed, narrow-hipped and broad-shouldered as he stood there in nothing but a pair of jersey-knit boxer briefs. The moment hung between them as they held one another's gazes for another second or two before a third coughing cry bellowed from down the hall.

"There are grapes in the freezer," Brennan said helpfully as Booth disappeared around the corner and down the hall. "Her canine teeth are erupting."

As he sat in the kitchen with Christine and watched her eat frozen grapes out of a plastic bowl to numb, if only for a little while, her teething pain, Booth knew what he wanted to do. For four days he'd been planning to say something, to find that one perfect moment when everything was calm and wonderfully mellow so he could get down on one knee and ask her to make him the happiest man in the world, but he never found such a moment. Between his cell phone, her cell phone, the case they just closed and the new one that popped up before the ink was even dry on the firearms discharge report Booth had to submit to Cullen, plus Christine's teething and the parent/teacher conferences at the Jeffersonian daycare, the magical moment of mellow calm never came to be.

He remembered the phrase his Afghan National Army troops used to say to him all the time: mulam nes. He would ask one of the soldiers, "How far to the next village?" and the soldier would give an ambivalent shrug and reply, "Mulam nes." He would inquire, "Why are there so few people in the bazaar this morning?" and he would be told, "Mulam nes." When he asked the Afghan company commander if the runner he sent to the next district would return that night, the scraggly-bearded Pashtun would tell him, "Mulam nes" ("it is uncertain").

Booth realized, sitting there at the bar next to his daughter's high chair as she quietly polished off the last frozen grape, that the magic moment he had been waiting for was a mirage. If that moment existed at all (which he had begun to seriously doubt), the timing of its coming could best be described, in Afghan terms, as mulam nes. Their life wasn't mellow, predictable or calm, and if he wanted to wait for that one perfect moment to pop the question, he might well be waiting forever. They had waited long enough. There's no pefect moment, he told himself. Only now. His decision made, he fished the box out of the back of the junk drawer in the kitchen (which drawer was such an unholy mess of miscellany that Brennan refused to even open it) and, scooping his daughter up into his arms, headed back upstairs.

A few minutes later, Booth walked back into the bedroom, a faintly sheepish grin on his face as he ruffled his hair with a closed-fisted hand. The crisp wisps of hair held in place by the gel he religiously threaded through his hair each morning had long since dissolved into fluffy disarray. Brennan looked up from her book and smiled, then reached over for the arborist's business card she was using as a bookmark and quietly closed the book.

"She settled down more quickly than she did for me last night," she observed as she set the book on her nightstand. She allowed herself a long, lazy glance to survey his form as he made his way towards the bed, making no attempt to conceal her interest as he sat down on the bed and rolled over onto his right side to face her.

"Hmmm," he murmured noncommittally as he propped his head on one hand and brought the other up to gently brush an errant lock of hair off Brennan's forehead. He touched the tip of her nose and stroked his finger over her chin as she leaned into him and kissed him, her lips quietly and softly grasping at his as she plucked at his mouth a couple of times, then sighed a little and leaned back again. "Looks like she's starting to break through the gum now."

She smiled. Their blond-haired, blue-eyed daughter had Brennan's father's fair coloring, but the irrepressible waviness in her hair was all Booth, a fact which Brennan found amusing and curiously satisfying, especially on those too-rare occasions when Christine and her half-brother Parker were together. "I saw that this morning," she said. "This should be the last round of tooth eruptions we deal with for at least another ten months. The second molars are the last to come in, usually around twenty-six or twenty-seven months."

"Mmm-mmm," he murmured, unable to suppress a smile watching his partner's face as she talked about their daughter. "You're a great mom, you know that?" he said to her, his voice dropping a little as her pale gray-blue eyes suddenly snapped to meet his. He saw a flicker in those eyes and her lips part as she was about to speak, and from the fine lines creased across her forehead he knew she was ready to regale him with more facts about developmental periodontics. "And..." He licked his lips and brought his free hand up to caress the side of her head, drawing his thumb across the fine, smooth silky hair over her ear as his long, thick fingers gently cupped the back of her head. "And you're an incredible partner, Bones. You know that, too, right?"

Brennan blinked, her brow furrowing slightly as she watched his eyes. Those eyes—those deep, warm pools of chocolate brown she knew so well and had been gazing into for more than eight years—were the only eyes, other than her daughter's, she could reliably read, which had made the three months during which she'd been apart from him when manipulated evidence framing her for murder forced her to flee, and, more recently, the three months during which she and Booth shared a bed and a home but may as well have lived in separate houses, all the more painful to endure. She loved those eyes, and she loved him for the unfailing love those eyes had shown her over the years, even when it seemed the two of them would never find their way to each other.

"Booth," she whispered, the single syllable passing between her lips full of emotion though it could barely be heard beyond the confines of their bed.

"I know you'll be an incredible wife," he said to her, his warm brown eyes brimming with emotion as he sat up. "I want to be your husband," he said, opening his fisted right hand to reveal a white gold band with smooth, clean lines, inset with eight tiny sapphires.

"Will you marry me, Bones?" he asked her as he reached for her left hand. He rolled the ring between his forefingers as she slowly extended her fingers. He slid the ring on her finger. "Let me be your husband."

"Yes," she whispered, curling her slender fingers into a loose fist as she brought her hand up and looked at the tiny, unfaceted but brilliantly-hued blue stones bezel-set into the ring's smooth white gold shank. "Yes, I will marry you, Booth..."

He reached for her jaw and, though his fingertips barely touched her skin, pulled her in for a kiss. His grasping lips sought hers out and for a moment they kissed, tenderly and deeply but without heat, before she pulled away and extended her hand as she admired the ring.

"The stones are sapphires," he explained. "I bought a couple of raw sapphires in Afghanistan, when I was there, at the bazaar in Marjah. They're from the Jegdalek region—"

Brennan's eyes brightened with recognition. "The Sar-e Jegdalek region," she said. "It's—"

"In the northeast," Booth said with a smile. "Halfway between Kabul and Jalalabad. I saw them in the market and they reminded me of your eyes, so I bought them." He swallowed as he remembered the pain that followed in the months after they returned to Washington. "You should be able to wear gloves over it, because of the way they cut and set the stones, if you want."

"I love it," she said with a smile that broke into a wet, throaty, emotional laugh. "It's perfect."

He grinned. "I thought there was no such thing as perfect, Bones..."

Brennan pursed her lips, then winked. "I guess I changed my mind."

A/N: Okay, so it wasn't much. A drabble, really (by my standards, anyway). But I needed a pick-me up today, and this prompt spoke to me. Though it's a short little thing, I hope you liked it anyway. But don't leave me in the dark. Please. Share your thoughts as I've shared mine. Leave a review. And thanks for reading!