So here's a thing. A few months ago, when Booth gave his EPIC speech to Brennan in the Series finale (what a wonderful episode, what a way to end a series!) he mentioned a "pool house" kiss in the rain. It took a question on Twitter and responses from hpaich and Marjoriefoster (thank you both) to clarify to me that this was the 100th ep. pool hall!

Anyway, it set me thinking, what if there had been an actual [swimming] pool house, some rain and Booth and Brennan…? Hmmm, feels like some fluff brewing… Setting this in the latter part of S6, after The Blackout in the Blizzard. Just helping move Brennan and Booth along a little quicker, with no interference from Broadsky. Quite frankly I have no idea how they could have kept their hands off each other by this point! Not to put too fine a point on it, this is fluff (virtually) without plot.

My very first FF was written about the romantic effect of thunderstorms, it's a theme I enjoy.

My thanks, as ever, to my beta and dear friend Jenmacun, who keeps me on the straight and narrow.

EDIT: I have spotted, as some of you will have also, a few formatting errors (words/punctuation) that occurred when I imported the story in to . I am aware and trawling through these fixing them as I find them.

***Warning: contains many of my favourite hackneyed romantic B'n'B clichés, and for that I make no apology, although I may be a little "fic rusty" after some time away...***

"Nice of Hodgins to lend you his summer cabin. Woah! This is like something out of a Scott-Fitzgerald novel…"

Seeley Booth dumped his bags on the floor as he looked around at the opulent internal decoration of what had looked, at first glance, quite a modest place, as they had entered from the small country road. It turned out that on closer inspection, the 'summer cabin' was a fully decked-out, luxury beach house. There was an arrow-straight path, some of which was on stilts down to the white, sandy shore that hugged the Atlantic coast, punctuated only by sand dunes that weaved around and under the path; and a mooring, complete with a typically white, shiny speedboat. Set back away from the main building was a separate pool house and deck, well-appointed in its own right, with a sizeable swimming pool, loungers, umbrellas and similar accoutrements. He would definitely be checking out that pool later.

Noting the fact that they backed straight on to the beach, Brennan couldn't help but be equally impressed.

"Lend us his cabin, Booth. He knows you are also here. I concur though, this not so much a cabin as a significantly sized house. It is a remarkable place, very tastefully decorated, probably Angela's influence. It appears someone knew we were coming…" she noted, nodding at the fresh fruit in a bowl on the kitchen island, along with a handwritten note.

The arrangements for the partners' getaway had been straightforward once Angela had convinced Brennan to head down the coast. In a weak moment one night, over a bottle of a very acceptable Malbec, Brennan had confided to Angela about the partners' conversation in the elevator that snowy day some weeks before, their writing down of dates, and burning them into the ether. She also admitted that she'd stayed over in Parker's room that night due to the snow, and the next day, although neither was ready for any significant changes in their relationship just yet, the next morning had felt OK just to be together, not feeling weird at all.

They'd kept their physical interactions pretty chaste since that moment, but Booth's hand had returned to its favourite spot on her back pretty much permanently, and they'd shared a few gentle nudges and a couple of reassuring hands on shoulders alongside an increase in time spent together not seen since before they'd headed their separate ways for seven months. They'd even held hands once, digits locking together one night on a walk along The Mall after a long day to wrap up a case. There had been lunches and dinners, and excuses for late nights spent together for no explicable reason other than to enjoy each other's company.

"I have a suggestion,' said Angela. "The lab is quiet right now, you always have another book on the go. Why don't you and Booth go away for a few days? You could do some writing. You both have some leave."

"I'm not sure I follow? Go where?" Angela smiled. She had the perfect venue.

"Hodgins has a summer place on Kiawah Island on the South Carolina coast. He's had it for years, but I only found out about it a few months ago. Since then we've been back and forwards at weekends renovating it. He'd pretty much forgotten about it."

"You never mentioned it before."

"I did, but you were too busy either studying remains, or trying to pretend you were not gazing longingly at your partner, to take notice every time I mentioned it." Brennan blushed just a shade at Angela's comment, before promptly regaining her composure.

"Oh. I'm sorry Ange. I wasn't aware."

"Never mind. I clearly didn't pick the best times. Anyway..." she sighed deeply, "It's beautiful down there; you can have some quiet time on your book, and you can try your relationship out for size without all the distractions of work, or people. There's a ton of wildlife if you want to take your camera, and we back right onto the beach. Plus, it's ours, so it's a cheap break, and doesn't make Booth feel like he has to shell out half the cost of some expensive time away just to be with you. Besides, the weather is warming up, it'll be mid- to high seventies there during the day. You can go swimming, relax on the beach… hmmmm, if I wasn't waddling around like an oversized penguin, I'd come with you."

Brennan blushed a little as she considered the opportunity. It would be nice to get some down-time away from the office, and after the revelations of the last few months and weeks, she had to admit that some more time alone with Booth could be very pleasant. Their time together had grown significantly since that candle-lit night, and she couldn't help but wonder if that date he'd burnt was almost upon them. She hoped so. She'd just written 'When we're both ready'.

"OK. Although, if he even agrees to this, I'm going specifically to write my book, and Booth will be accompanying me as a friend, Ange; just a friend."

"Absolutely. There are plenty of bedrooms, so you can be together or apart as much as you like." Angela locked eyes with her friend and took her hand gently but quite firmly.

"Sweetie, I've seen glaciers move faster than you two. The point is… what you and Booth could have is wonderful, and beautiful. You both now hold that seed together." Brennan looked at Angela with her trademark stupefaction, but still holding her hand, Angela cut in again before she could say anything.

"Don't pretend to look dazed and confused, Brennan. You know exactly what I'm talking about. You've basically admitted to each other that you love each other. You should give that metaphorical seed some time to grow in a nurturing environment. You don't have to do anything other than talk, unless you want to, in which case I want all the details…" she chuckled. Noting Brennan's look of mock-disapproval, she continued, "OK, OK, no details! Maybe just one or two?" she asked, hopefully.

Angela was relieved that Booth didn't need much convincing. Knowing as she did that he would do just about anything to protect the woman he loved, the opportunity to be her unofficial bodyguard for a week, somewhere fairly remote, would entirely appeal to his romantic and protective nature. Being Booth, Angela also knew that he would be as aware as she was at the significance of having unqualified time with Brennan. She calculated that he'd jump at the chance using any lame excuse necessary.

He did, exactly as Angela predicted he would, making a vague excuse that if she was writing, she'd probably not eat properly unless someone was there to cook for her. Bingo.

Keen to avoid an eight-hour drive in each direction that would eat into Brennan's writing time and, indeed, their holiday, they flew down to Charleston on the generous offer of a Cantilever plane, where they picked up a hire car for the week. As they drove away from the city, the scenery became greener, the grass lusher. They rounded a final bend and there, buried in a small grove of trees, was the turning into the Hodgins' property. As they entered, the road initially looked like it led to a modest dwelling, until the trees opened out into a full carriage drive and an imposing building.

Booth and Brennan stood side by side as Brennan opened the note that had been left where they could easily find it. It read:

"Hello you two. We've had the fridge stocked (including your favorite beer, Booth), the place freshened up a little, and the pool readied for your arrival. There are bikes in the garage, too, if you want to take them on the trails. One thing we ask – take this time to enjoy yourselves, don't question things so much, revel in each other's company and just go with the flow. Love, J&A."

They'd also left the name of their regular housekeeper, who popped in from time to time to keep up the place, in case the partners needed anything, and a list of restaurants and local shops. Brennan wondered if Angela had had this planned for some time. Two pairs of slightly flushed cheeks later and they both steadied themselves for a week of undefined progress in their relationship. Picking up their bags, they headed upstairs.

"Right, so… bedrooms", stated Booth, trying to sound neutral.

"Bedrooms", repeated Brennan. "Maybe it's best if we are across the hall from each other."

"I agree." Whilst neither of them was under any illusion that things were likely to change in the near future, for the sake of their joint sanity, it felt like maintaining a sense of decorum was the right thing to do. Having dumped their luggage in their respective rooms, they met back downstairs in the hallway: high ceilinged and crowned with a bejewelled chandelier hanging pendulously overhead.

"Shall we take a look around, Bones? Maybe a walk before you start crafting your latest masterpiece? I could certainly do with a leg stretch after that journey."


It was a warm and pleasant afternoon. They strolled along together, enjoying the view. Booth decided they might as well tackle the elephant in the room.

"So… Are we going to talk about this week?"

"Yes. Establish some ground rules."

"Well, the way I see it, you are here to write some more of your book. I'm here as your companion, and your gun – just in case." She rolled her eyes and he laughed. "C'mon Bones, humour me!"

They walked a little further, Booth contemplating what to say next, before he eventually stopped her, placing his hand on her arm, turning to make eye contact. "Last time we spoke about this… at my apartment, we, well… we kinda know how we feel about each other now." He smiled sweetly at her.

"Indirectly." Brennan struggled to entirely allow herself to bathe in the pool of feelings currently swelling up around her. "I mean, we've insinuated, but we've not actually said the words. Yet."

"Yes, but I think we made ourselves pretty clear. Have we made ourselves pretty clear, Bones?"

"Yes." Brennan gave a small smile of her own. "So, what were you thinking?" She allowed her smile to turn into a smirk, expectant of an incoming innuendo, and in doing do, Booth realised that she was still clinging on to the last of her imperviousness. He looked at her far more seriously than she'd anticipated.

"We take it slow. You test your strength. I test my inner peace. Maybe something happens this week, maybe we're not ready yet." He took her hand and addressed her with the utmost honesty. "…And that's OK if we're not. I don't want to rush this, Temperance. I don't want to rush something this important. You understand, right?"

"Yes, I do." Whilst she was a little disappointed, noting his earnestness and what it, and she, meant to him, her brain cleared from its fog and understood the gravity of the situation. With their hands still joined, she rubbed his thumb with her own. "Whilst I am very curious as to the veracity of my hypothesis regarding our sexual compatibility, I equally respect the need for us not to rush into sexual relations here and now for the sake if it."

"Just for the record, I'm not suggesting we do nothing, just that we don't jump into bed together until we know, we really know." And with that, he leaned in and kissed her on the lips with the faintest of touches, but with just enough to give her a taste of what might be. Leaving her almost breathless in surprise, he squeezed her hand one last time before letting go, putting his hands in his pockets and continuing to walk, a small smile on his face.

Sometime later, back from their stroll, and Brennan now busily typing away on her laptop at a desk in what was a very classy-looking drawing room, Booth made her a Camomile tea. He'd now relaxed into holiday mode, and whistled merrily as he brought the hot drink into his partner.

"How's the writing going?"

'Thank you," Brennan acknowledged as she sipped her tea carefully, the heat of the brew still close to scalding."It's going as well as can be expected. It always takes a little time to settle into new surroundings. I must admit though, this is as good a place as any for some undisturbed writing time."

'See you at dinner?"

"Sure." As Booth turned to go, she looked at him kindly.

"Thanks again for my tea, Booth, and for being here. It's nice to have some company. I appreciate it." Booth gave a her a radiant grin.

After rustling up some dinner together, Brennan carried on writing, Booth joining her in the drawing room, quietly reading his own book without getting in her way. He didn't disturb her other than to bring her replacement cups of herbal tea every so often, and she was comforted by his presence. They said their goodnights amiably before both retiring to their rooms, both tired from the journey and the first day of decompression from work.

The next morning, Booth was up early, determined to get some exercise time in the pool. He was quiet as he slipped down to the pool house, so as not to wake Brennan. It was surprisingly warm, the early morning sun of the southern state already warming the paving under his feet as he walked, a towel slung over his shoulder, trunks low on his hips. He slid into the heated pool, the liquid refreshing his body. He allowed himself to immerse completely, enjoying the feeling of weightlessness as he bobbed back up and floated for a few moments. Deciding he was ready for a workout, he began to swim, gliding his body through the water almost effortlessly.

A hundred or so lengths later, he was done. Launching himself out of the pool, he wiped himself down before tying the towel around his waist to head back to the house for a shower.

Meantime, Brennan had also woken. After a moment of confusion as to where she was, she oriented and stretched before climbing out of bed and went to the window to check the weather. She was surprised to see Booth, oblivious to her gaze as he wandered back from the pool with his towel wrapped around him, a little water still dripping from his lean frame as he walked back to the house. She was mesmerised, unable to tear her eyes away. She'd fought their attraction for so long, and she'd historically been very surreptitious in appreciating his form when he was dressed (or not, in this case) in something that pleased her, so Brennan allowed herself what was a clear ogle at him by reminding herself that they were now on an almost unwavering path to a 'when' rather than an 'if'. Besides, he didn't appear to have noticed her in any case. With a knowing smile, she turned from the window and set about getting ready for the day.

By the time she'd showered and dressed, he had done the same, and they greeted each other warmly in the kitchen. Unsurprisingly, the kitchen had been well-stocked with items appropriate to their tastes; clearly the Hodgins' had briefed their housekeeper well, based on the food already to hand.

Their first full day together at the house was uneventful to start with. Brennan took the time to write. Booth had brought a stack of books to read, not to mention discovering a comprehensive library already in situ at the house, and otherwise they spent their time pottering around, for the most part, separately, as they each collected their thoughts.

However, their mutual solitude didn't last. He allowed her several hours of writing, but into the early evening, an overexcited Booth ran into the drawing room and virtually dragged Brennan up from her chair, just as she was hitting a particularly creative patch.

"Wha…what are you doing, Booth?" she spluttered. "I'm writing!"

"Come on, Bones!" He grabbed her hand and pulled her into the lounge. "Look what I found!"

Still holding Brennan's hand firmly as he grinned at her excitedly, Booth pressed a button on the wall. There was a quiet whirring sound as various mechanisms went into motion. Brennan watched with amused interest as blinds darkened the room, a hundred-inch screen appeared from behind a set of automated doors, and a projector descended from the ceiling. Brennan raised an eyebrow as Booth, with far more agitation than she felt appropriate for a grown man, pulled her onto the waiting sofa, where he plopped down next to her, and grabbed the remote control.

"They have Netflix! Let's watch something."

"But I'm writing!" she persisted in her resistance, all the time knowing it was going to be ultimately futile, deep down probably not really minding terribly much.

"Yeah, but this is so cool. It's like a proper cinema! C'mon, please?" He gave her his best puppy dog eyes, the same ones that had whittled down her resolve over the last few years.

"Can I just go and save my last few paragraphs?"

"OK, but come right back!"

With some reticence, Brennan picked herself up from the sofa, and a minute later, true to her word, returned to a grinning Booth, who took her hand again as she sat down.

They found something to watch, an indie flick with a vaguely romantic thread running through it. Without particularly realising it, he didn't let go of her hand for quite some time, until deciding that with the home cinema set up, Hodgins must surely have some popcorn somewhere. In all truth, Brennan rather enjoyed it, and made no attempt to release her hand, either. When he returned with a big bowl for them to share, along with a couple of beers, he slid the hand not holding the popcorn along the back of the sofa. Brennan smiled to herself as his hand dropped off the sofa and on to her shoulder. Smooth, Booth. That trick hadn't been used on her since college. Still, she found herself snuggling into him, and they sat, munching on the snack, drinking their beers, cuddled up together. Into a second film, a further accompanying beer having loosened them up a little further, Brennan found herself playing with his fingers whilst they curled up even closer together. Still ostensibly staring ahead at the screen, she mapped his free hand - the one not curled round her shoulders, with her own, massaging his palm gently before taking each digit in turn. She was almost absent minded in her task as she repeated the pattern over and over, knowing that she could, at any time, pick that same hand up and kiss each finger, letting the callouses she knew he owned from years of gun practice, car maintenance and similar pursuits, run over the softness of her lips. She refrained, but only because she was unsure of the protocol of this stage in their relationship. The touching she did allow herself, however, felt very nice. Cozied up to the man she knew she loved (even though she wasn't able to say it yet), she had to admit, was better than writing.

Booth said nothing. He glanced surreptitiously across at her just next to him, leaning on his shoulder, letting her fidget with his hand. He allowed himself to enjoy the sensation of her touching him so intimately like this without any exposition or clarification as the film continued.

The next morning, Booth woke early again and quietly made his way down to the pool. He was surprised to see his partner already in the water, making lithe strokes through the water without necessarily expending too much energy. He'd spent hours watching her swimming when he and Parker had gone over to her place on weekends to use the pool. She'd often joined them, and he knew when she was making the effort. Brennan wasn't the only one who knew body movement. He knew her body intimately after years of studying her. She wore a modest cut bikini, the same crystal blue as her eyes. Booth wondered if that was Angela's work. It wasn't modest enough that he couldn't fill in the blanks, however. He knew immediately that she must have seen him at some point the previous morning - she'd been expecting him! That pleased him no end. He waited for a few moments to enjoy the view, before gaining her attention.

"Hey Bones! What'ya doing down here so early?" Her attention caught, she pulled to halt and looked up to see him.

"Oh, hi Booth. I wanted to try out the pool,"she responded, trying to sound as nonchalant as possible. "I didn't know you'd be here."

"I see." Booth's mouth turned up, knowing she was a terrible liar, at least three tells giving her away in that moment alone. He slipped in beside her, probably closer than he needed to, but she didn't step back.

"You wanna race?" Knowing he was just as competitive as she, Brennan knew it would be a good way to get a decent cardio workout. He nodded enthusiastically.

"Sure, just give me a second to warm up a little."

Brennan watched him admiringly as he made a few stretches before gliding through the water.

They agreed a number of lengths and on the agreed signal, both went off at speed.

They raced as they did everything together – wholly and passionately. They touched the final wall within a split second of each other, impossible to tell who was the victor without a third party to ratify the result.

They wandered back to house still bickering over who might have won, but it was playful and affectionate, interspersed by laughter and nudges back to the house. After briefly parting again to shower and dress, they shared breakfast again, the teasing and chatting continuing over cream and fruit-covered pancakes, stealing glances at each other between mouthfuls. At the sinkafter they'd cleared up, without thinking, Brennan found herself in the right spot to kiss Booth on the cheek. So, she did, much to his (and her own) surprise. He smiled to himself as she backed off, a little embarrassed at her own boldness, her face unable to hide the flush.

"I was just…" he raised an eyebrow at her but his face was still warm toward her, as Angela's words came back to her: "...Trying our relationship out for size."

"Okay Bones." There was a twinkle in his eye and, like the rest of their intimacy that had been building since they'd arrived, he decided not to make anything else of it.

After a few more hours of writing through the day, Brennan decided that she'd reached a natural break. She stretched, feeling like she needed some exercise, despite that morning's swim. She wandered over to Booth, now reading a pulp sci-fi novel, with a pleasant but determined look upon her face.

"Do you feel like going for a ride?" Booth spluttered at her suggestion, his mind falling well into the gutter.

"Excuse me?" He was not expecting that, but so used to her plain talk on sexual matters, nothing would be a surprise to him.

"Really?! I meant a bicycle ride, Booth, would you like to come with me on a bike ride? The trails around here are a well known tourist attraction." She laughed and shook her head at him. Recovering quickly, he put up his hands in apology.

"Yeah, sure. Sorry." They met again at of the front of the house, Booth having collected a picnic blanket and a few snacks slung into a back-pack. They started their warm-ups, Booth in particular enjoying the view he was getting of his would-be girlfriend as she prepared herself with some long stretches and bends before swinging her leg over the saddle. Riding away from the island, they took a steady pace along one of the trails, winding along the road away from the island before heading on to the rougher terrain into the Carolinian coastal countryside.

They cycled for several miles, enjoying the gentle undulations of the landscape, inlets and small deltas breaking up the scrub and reeds around them, the trail carefully cut into the habitat so as not to damage it in any way. They found a dry clearing just off the trail, on which to lay down the blanket: Booth leant back to lie down, with Brennan on her stomach next to him propped up on her elbows. She pulled out a book that she'd grabbed from Hodgins' library. Through clear blue skies, the sun shone brightly, the crickets hidden in the greenery making themselves known amongst otherwise peaceful surroundings.

"Hmmmm, this is nice."

"Yes, it is. Very tranquil."

"You wanna eat yet?" Brennan smiled slightly and shook her head.

"In a while. Happy to just lie here." They didn't speak for a while, just enjoying the sunshine; their casual proximity a further bonus. Though mainly shutting his eyes and allowing the heat of the sun to warm him in a pleasant fashion, from time to time, Booth would glance over to watch Brennan read,the glances becoming more frequent until it became a constant gaze from which he would not, could not, remove his eyes. Engrossed in her book, she was relaxed, and in her carefree state, radiated a lavish beauty from head to toe. He followed the line of her body from top to bottom and back again appreciatively. Knowing he was watching her (and if she was honest to herself, rather enjoying it) she pretended to ignore him for a while until it became distracting enough that she'd read the same page three times and absolutely no more useful processing of the text was being done. She knew what she needed to do to remedy the situation. With her most serious expression, she turned to her partner.

"What is it, Booth?" she sighed. He was about to talk, but before he could say anything, Brennan leant over and gave him a slow and sensual kiss, allowing him to participate, but pulling away just before they might start to lose control. His lips curled up in a victorious grin.

"That's twice you've kissed me since this morning. I must be irresistible." She rolled her eyes at him.

"It's not like you haven't kissed me too. Stop being so cocky," she smirked, but she didn't move away immediately. He pulled himself up on his elbows so they were nose-to-nose. His eyes flicked from hers down to her lips and then back up again.

"You don't know the half of it." He paused. "But you will. Soon."

After a while they sat up and took a swig of water, ate their protein bars, and got back on their bikes.

Some miles later, they strolled arm-in-arm to a local seafood restaurant where Brennan had a decent selection of vegetarian food, then cycled home from the restaurant. The rest of the evening was spent once again in the home theatre, this time watching a police-based action movie complete with unlikely explosions and many, many gun fights. Usually it was Brennan pointing out the scientific flaws in films, but she found herself very entertained at Booth's animated frustrations at the inaccuracies of the law enforcement processes depicted. Several times he leapt up to yell at the screen, and several times she giggled as she had to pull him back to the couch. It was like watching him watch a big game. As an anthropologist, she was always fascinated at his responses to sporting events. Each time she pulled him back by the hand, each time he flopped down on the couch next to her, their hands still entwined until he became animated by yet another part of the hole-ridden plot line and distractedly pulled his hand away to gesticulate at the screen once more. That was, until one time when she pulled him back a little too hard and they ended up flat on the couch with him flush on top of her. He grinned at their new position and nuzzled her nose with his.

"Well this is so sudden, Bones. I'm not sure I'm that kind of boy." Booth was joking but actually, suddenly quite distracted from the film by their new situation. Brennan was rather enjoying the sensation of pinned snugly underneath her partner, but she was also damned if she was going to give him the satisfaction (just yet) of knowing just how turned on she was. Although, from what appeared to be his physical reaction, she had little to lose. Maybe she could have a little fun with him…

"Well, that seems a shame. I could be that kind of girl…" she teased him. "My parents aren't even due back for aaaages", she stretched out the word, then bought her lips to his ear and whispered, "but I guess if you're not interested…" and she ran her finger along his jaw before starting to pull it away. He stopped her hand with his. Woah. This was not his usual Brennan. Vacation was bringing out a whole new side to her...

"I'm interested." He brought his face to hers and after a brief instant where his eyes sought hers to confirm she really was up for this, he was kissing her with some intent and she was kissing him back with just as much vigour. It was clear that after the afternoon's kiss, they were both happy to ramp up the intensity of their fledgling romance and soon they were making out like teenagers. The film finished with no further interjections from Booth, who was too busy feeling up Brennan to be the slightest bit bothered by correct law enforcement process, past or present.

After what was probably enough time for her 'parents' to have returned several times over, Booth stilled her very wandering hands that were heading for somewhere they really shouldn't have been going. He was starting to think they might be on the right road, but, ever the gentleman, he had a clear code of self-disciplined behaviours to follow to ensure they did this right, and even for Brennan – especially for Brennan – he wanted to do this right, and if it took a little longer, the payoff would be worth it. At least, he hoped it was that and not some cowardly part of him that couldn't let go of his own baggage for both of their sakes.

"I think…" they breathed heavily as he reluctantly pulled back from her. "That's enough for tonight."

"Really? Are you still angry?" She looked a little confused. They were both adults. Fit, healthy, adults at their sexual peak.

"No. But I want to do this right, Bones."

"Is this about the not doing nothing scenario you posited?"

"Yes. It's exactly about that. I wanna get this so right. We're just taking it at a pace we can both keep up with." He wasn't sure if he was trying to reassure her, himself, or both of them. He pressed his forehead against hers and took her hand in his. He pressed it against his heart. "Temperance, trust me, what you do to me is..."

"Your heart rate is still elevated, she interrupted, beaming at the insinuation.

"Yes. You know what that means, right?" He kissed her temple as she nodded. She moved his hand to the same spot on her own body.

"Mine is too."

"Yeah. I feel it. I feel it all, Temperance. I really want to take you to bed. I mean really. It'll be soon, OK? And it'll be so worth it." He pecked her on the lips again as he finally moved off her and stood up, straightening his mostly unbuttoned shirt and jeans before heading out of the room. Brennan sat on the couch, her head swimming with emotions, processing the changes going on between them. She looked down at herself; her own clothes were equally dishevelled after their tryst. Maybe Booth was right, maybe this needed a gradual change.

The next day, neither of them bothered swimming first thing in the morning. The weather had turned much more humid and although the skies were still blue, there was a haziness out to sea and a thickening of the atmosphere that seemed to mirror the burgeoning change in their relationship. It didn't feel bad, just different. After their breakfast, Brennan spent the morning writing again, as had become the pattern of the day. Booth took himself off for what turned out to be a fairly sweaty run and a shower. Around lunchtime, he took it upon himself to liberate Brennan from her computer and take her off for lunch.

Over Brennan's tofu salad and Booth's surf and turf burger, they chatted about this and that, including some old vacation traditions from their childhoods. When they left the restaurant they helped their lunches go down by taking a stroll along the boardwalk, still chatting about their childhood holidays. They were nearly back at the house, still talking, when Booth stopped walking.

"…You mean to say you never rolled down a hill or a sand dune?"

"I just don't think we ever went anywhere with that specific landscape."

"You never went on a walking holiday, or to the coast?"

"We lived in Chicago, Booth, we went to Lake Michigan, where there were more nature trails than athletic pursuits."

"Oh, we're going to have to roll, Bones." He grinned at her slightly appalled expression as she realised there was no way she was going to get out of this. "Look, there's a slightly steeper section of dune just down there"; he pointed a few dozen feet beyond the path back to their house. He grabbed her hand and led her to the spot he had in mind. He sat them down and explained they should lay on their sides and on the count of three, roll down the dune, finishing up on the flat of the beach. The tide was mostly out so they would be unlikely to get wet.

"C'mon Bones! Let's roll!" He chuckled at his literal direction.

They rolled down the dune in parallel, like children, Brennan's trajectory changing so by the time they reached the bottom, they found themselves tangled up together in the sand. Brennan had ended up on top of her partner and their chests were pressed together. Booth glanced up at the eyeful of cleavage he was getting from the way her dress had pulled down as they landed. She noticed where his eyes were fixed and couldn't help but smirk. Rumbled, Booth looked up, and after a moment of realisation as they beamed at each other, the partners couldn't stop themselves this time, and before either could say another word, they were making out passionately in the sand.

As the kissing intensified, hands started to roam indiscriminately, much more so than the previous night. They were alone on the beach in any case, but thanks to the topography, hidden from view to the outside world by the last ridge of the slope. However, of course, like the clouds building around them, rumbling in from the Atlantic Ocean, Booth being Booth, couldn't let everything go smoothly. Not when his cowardly, self-sabotaging side could easily pop up from nowhere to ruin the moment.

'You're enjoying this aren't you. Her soft lips on yours, your hands running over her every curve. But we both know Seeley, you are not worthy of her and you will never be worthy of her', goaded the tiny but vocal corner of his brain that held every remaining piece of baggage, cooped up in one tiny sulcal fold that refused to let him be happy. He ignored it for a time, until the figurative buzzing became too much to bear. He pulled back suddenly like he'd been bitten by a swarm of angry wasps.

"What is it?" Brennan, feeling the sudden loss of contact, naturally reached out to touch her mate again, her expression filled with more than a hint of puzzlement. He moved away, embarrassed.

"I'm sorry Bones, it's not time yet. I don't want to rush it. I'm just… I'm sorry." And with that, he scrambled up and took a step back from her, looking, quite frankly, somewhat pathetic.

Brennan didn't get it. How could she? One moment they'd been making out like horny teenagers again and the next, out of nowhere, he'd changed his mind. She couldn't help the bubble of anger rising up from nowhere. Where the hell had that come from? She felt hugely rejected – after everything they'd talked about, everything that had happened in the last three days! She shoved him hard, glaring at him with a very furrowed brow.

"Seven years of stupid tension and flirting and touching, burning papers and 'love this and 'love that', 'someone for everyone', 'I'm that guy', and 'thirty... or forty... or fifty years'! You are full of B-S! Screw you, Seeley Booth!"

She turned on her heels, and as her emotions overwhelmed her, stormed back along the beach and up the wooden path towards the house, not caring about the rain now starting to fall in heavy bullets around them.

Booth spent a few painful moments staring out to sea like a lovesick teenager, the horizon line almost invisible as the dark grey of the clouds met their equally dark watery reflection in the distance. Only the crests of white foam broke up the gloom. But staring out at the water, those crests, those sparks of hope, triggered something in him, and somehow, his heart got the message that it was OK. The rest of his brain finally turned off that tiny fold of self-doubt once and for all. He realised he needed to stop being a dick to himself for once and take what was rightfully his. He needed to go after her before things got out of hand and she did something stupid:like leave. They were so close to the happiness they'd been seeking for so long. They couldn't fail. Not now. Not this close. His resolution complete, he moved.

He saw her sitting outside on the edge of a lounger on the pool house patio. She looked so small, so vulnerable. He knew he was an idiot, knew he needed to fix things. And he needed to do that now.

With her eyes filled with tears and head seemingly in another world, Brennan didn't immediately see him coming towards her in the unusually dark skies of the afternoon, until he was almost looming over her; his eyes haunted with concern and sadness. She stood up defiantly in front of him, not realising that he wasn't any other emotion than worried, and they found themselves standing nose to nose in the rain, rivulets of water pouring down their faces as the storm rattled around them. It reminded him of a moment between them some years ago. Booth reached out gently, tucking a strand of hair behind Brennan's ear, leaving his hand caressing her cheek, wiping the rain away with his thumb as his features softened.

"Bones, I'm sorry. I didn't want to push you away. It's the last thing I wanted to do." She looked quizzically at him, but unable to stop herself from leaning into that same hand. "It's just… Temperance… I'm crazy about you, Baby, but I just feel like I'm never going to be good enough, and that's not you, that's me." Those words turned her expression in a single moment as Brennan took in what her partner was saying and to Booth's relief, the threat of failure started to dissipate.

"I have to tell you Booth, you are confusing me so much right now." She couldn't help but chuckle as she spoke her next words. "You are the best man I know. The kindest…" she lifted her hand to stroke his hair, "the sweetest…" and the same hand began to brush her fingers softly through his short locks with the touch of a woman enthralled. She held a breath for a moment longer than usual, looking to pick suitable words. "How can you keep self-flagellating? How many times do I have to tell you that you are a good man?" And then, the next sentence just slipped out – "When are you just going to learn that I love you?"

Brennan only realised the gravity of the words as they came out, but now she'd finally uttered them plain and simply, it was a huge relief. It was out there now: more out there than that horrible night they'd had during the Eames case months before.

His lip curled up slightly. "I love you too." He finally felt emboldened. "A lot. I know I said that I didn't want us to rush this, but I realise now that I was wrong: wrong on the boardwalk on Sunday; wrong about what I wanted right now. Wrong about the future- our future… I feel like this is going somewhere."

Brennan smiled back at him, her eyes widening in recognition from that same time long past.

"Why do you think this is going somewhere?"

"I just…I feel like I'm going to kiss you."

Just like seven years before, before he could follow up on his wish, she was already closing the space between them.

Their lips brushed for the second time in the last few minutes, a fleeting moment of hesitation as they both processed what had just occurred, before the kiss intensified, Booth's hand still gently cradling her cheek, as she wrapped her arms around his neck to pull him closer. Their mouths opened to each other, and their tongues met in a flurry of contact. The rain continued to fall persistently, as if to tap them on the shoulder to get inside, but by now neither partner was bothered by how much water was falling from the sky, or the rush of noise about them.

Finally, a thunderclap, too close for comfort, temporarily bought them out of their daze, long enough for Booth pull back slightly, his face now beaming.

"We should get out of this storm." She nodded, and taking her hand, he led them the few steps into the pool house.

As soon as they were out of the rain, Booth turned to face her, running his arm across the wet fabric of the shoulder of her dress.

"Let's get you out of these wet clothes." He didn't mean to insinuate anything with what was meant to be a kind gesture, but the innuendo wasn't lost on either of them. Brennan giggled. He'd not heard her do that many times before.

She remembered Avalon's words:

"He knows the truth of you and is dazzled by that truth."

She knew this was not the time for wild and uninhibited. There would be another time for that. This was going to be entirely gentle and deliberate, and hell, life changing, in all expectation.

"I think I should help you with yours, too. I mean, it's important that you don't catch a chill." She couldn't help but smirk a little.

"Yes, I'm sure I would be in mortal danger if you didn't get these clothes off me," Booth spoke in ostensibly what was a flat voice, but one clearly tinged with some mirth.

They stripped one other, punctuated by kisses and caresses, until they were just in their damp underwear. Now Booth's mind was whirring, because they were not in the house, they were here in the pool house. He'd been thinking about what might happen when they reached this point, but he hadn't planned for this scenario. He searched around for a suitable place to consummate their relationship.

"Temperance." He looked quite serious. "I don't think I've ever wanted something as much as I want you right now, but I mean, are you OK with us, with this, right here? You don't want to go back to the house?"

"Booth…" her hand took his and held it firmly, bringing it up to her waist and allowing him to pull her a little closer, eying up the pool behind them. "We've waited long enough for this. I want you wherever I can have you. Besides, it's much easier to break the laws of physics when gravity is less of an issue…" and they grinned at each other in a way that suggested that this was not going to be a problem at all.

It's nice to be back. Constructive reviews are appreciated, thank you.