-1Author's Note: Hey guys! I'm sorry for the wait, yet again. Exams suck. Believe me, I'd much rather have been writing this for you guys! Anyway, last one. I feel at a little bit of a loss. What should I do in my spare time? And then it came to me. Sequel! Ideas are forming. Thanks for the wonderful reviews on the last chapter - I'm glad I didn't offend anyone with my inner Brennan! The song for this one is So Small by Carrie Underwood. Enjoy!
Sometimes that mountain you've been climbing
Is just a grain of sand
And what you've been out there searching for forever
Is in your hands
The bell dinged merrily overhead, a startling contrast to the emotion weighing down on his heart. It was always this way. He saw his family so infrequently that when he did, it took weeks for the ache to leave when he returned home again. It was different this time, though, he knew that much. He remained standing in the entrance way, simply watching her. Any other time, she would have immediately looked up when the door opened, anticipating his arrival. Instead, she was absentmindedly stirring her coffee, her other hand resting her chin. Her shoulders were hunched slightly and the corners of her mouth were turned downwards, clearly displaying her mood. But it was her eyes staring off at something no one else could see, the ones that showed him everything, that told him she was going to have a far harder time adjusting than he would. For, even though he could not see what it is she saw, he knew what it was she was looking for. He also knew that it hadn't been for the excuse she had given that made her forego the trip to drop Parker back off at his mother's. She hadn't been feeling sick. She could have handled a few more minutes in the car. It was the goodbye she couldn't handle. There had been too many of those today.
He reached into his pocket, fingers enclosing on a folded piece of paper. He didn't make to retrieve it from its spot, he was simply ensuring that it was there. He pulled his hand back out, signalling the waitress for a coffee as he made his way to where Bones sat.
She had felt his presence from the moment he'd entered the diner, but could not bring herself to look up at him. Truthfully, she felt sort of embarrassed. They were his family, not hers. And yet, here she was, unsure if she could stand being so far away from them. Logically, she knew that in time the feeling would fade, but right now it seemed impossible. It was only when he finally sat himself in the seat across from her that she felt a force she couldn't control lift her eyes to meet his.
He gave her a tentative smile, his eyes moving quickly across her face, taking in what he could before it was concealed from him again. To his surprise, she kept her gaze fixed on him, seemingly in no hurry to hide. The new Temperance Brennan, ladies and gentlemen. He muttered a quick thank you when the cup of steaming coffee was placed in front of him and didn't take his eyes from hers as he took a small sip.
"I don't have much experience with family." Bones stated quietly. He waited. "Does it always feel this way?"
"For me it does, yeah." He nodded, eyes still locked with hers. "But, then again. I know some people who can't wait to get away from their family. Dread having to spend time with them."
She gave him a soft smile. "You're very lucky."
Booth nodded again. "I thank God everyday." A small glint flickered in her eyes at his comment and he knew, had the circumstances been different, she would have teased him for saying it. Instead, she said nothing.
Pulling her eyes away from his, she brought her full mug of coffee to her lips. By the face she made, he guessed her daydreaming had caused it to go cold sitting there. She set it back down, pushing it away. He slid his own coffee across the table to her - a silent offering. Her eyes flickered back to his as she reached for the cup with a small smile. He watched her take a sip, only to make another face. With that same teasing glint in her eye, she added a cream to his coffee, fully aware that he preferred his black.
"Hey. We were supposed to share that." He pointed a stern finger at her.
"I know." She shrugged, taking another sip.
"I don't like cream in my coffee."
Bones simply shrugged again, but looked a bit guilty. She flagged the waitress down and asked for another coffee for him.
As the waitress set the new cup in front of him, Booth looked back at his partner. "I didn't really mind, all that much."
He watched her for a moment before speaking again. "When you share something with someone, Bones, you need to be accepting of the change they're going to bring to it. Accepting to the changes that you need to make so that they can be more comfortable."
Bones drew her eyebrows together in confusion. "But, you enjoy your coffee more when it's black." She gestured to his cup.
Booth sighed. She was so different, yet somehow, she managed to stay exactly the same. Only Bones. He shook his head, smiling. "That's not exactly what I meant. I wasn't really talking about the coffee."
"Sure, you were. We were going to share your coffee, but since I changed it, I got you a new one. Although, I'm not certain as to why you're upset about that. I was only trying to do something nice."
Yup, same old Bones. "Listen, Bones. I was talking more about - my family."
Her confusion left immediately and was replaced by that same lost little girl look she was wearing when he came in. "Oh."
"And about how they're your family, too, now."
He watched her nod slowly, and if it were possible, a different sort of sadness made its way across her features. When she spoke again she avoided his eyes. "I'm sorry. I didn't realize you felt that way. I -"
"Wait. Felt what way?" He asked confused. Were they having the same conversation?
"Well, that you liked your family better before you had to share it with me."
Huh? He raised his eyebrows and made to correct her. She interrupted before he could.
"Just like with the coffee," She gestured to her mug, as if trying to make him understand.
Booth shook his head fiercely. "No, Bones-"
"I put cream in the coffee, Booth. I put cream in your family." Bones was struggling to understand, and he knew it.
"What?! Bones. You're confusing me here. Just - stop with the coffee. It's not about coffee. Forget about the coffee." He sighed. "Obviously, that was a stupid way to start this conversation. Look, that's not what I meant. You didn't ruin my family, Bones." He reached across the table and covered her hand with his.
Immediately, her eyes sought out their connected hands. He watched her for a long moment. Her head tilted to one side, her gaze never wavering. It was her intense look. Like she was trying to find the secret behind what she was studying. Or maybe, in this case, trying to gauge if she liked the look of their joined hands. Though, that was probably wishful thinking.
"Bones…" He whispered. She didn't look up, so he brought his gaze to their hands as well. He gently stroked his thumb across hers, and quickly brought his eyes up to watch hers tracking the movement. After a moment he spoke again. "Listen. What I meant was that because you're a part of the family now and because you - well you haven't had much trust in the idea of family in the past, that we'd shift things around a bit. You know, make more of an effort to stay connected even when we're apart. Include you in things we already do to keep that connection."
Their hands had shifted slightly. Her hand twisted out from underneath and was holding his, too. "Bones," He whispered again, finally making her bring her gaze back to his. "The family is better with you in it."
Bones smiled lightly and after a moment, she chuckled. "I feel kind of stupid."
Booth found himself laughing with her. "I would too, Bones. I mean, putting cream on my family?"
"What? That's not what I -"
"Well, it's pretty close to what you said." He shrugged, glad she was laughing. Excited, even. Especially when he noticed she was blushing. Since when did the mighty Temperance Brennan blush? "It's kinda my fault, though. I should know not to do the comparison thing with you. You're too damn literal for your own good."
"I guess." She smiled at him, before looking back down at their hands, significantly happier. She was glad he hadn't made fun of her embarrassment. Something he normally would have done. If he had, she probably would have pulled her hand away - something she wasn't quite ready to do yet. There was something oddly - normal about holding hands with Booth. She hadn't quite figured out why. But she knew if she was to pull away, she would have to wait until the next time the action occurred to continue pondering it. And there was no telling when that would be.
"A couple times a month we do this conference call thing. Lame, I know. It was my mom's idea." He chuckled softly, but she could tell he didn't really think it was lame at all. "All of us get on the phone together. Sometimes we talk for an hour or more." He paused, looking at their hands, too, she noticed. "It's kind of nice."
Brennan nodded, choosing to smile softly at him, rather than saying something else. Quiet was good. Quiet allowed for more of the pondering. Booth seemed to sense what she wanted and said no more. Gently she turned his hand over so that it was lying palm face up. What was it about this hand that made her want to hold it? That's what she wanted to know. She was a scientist after all. Sure, his hand was strong. A good size, too. Soft, but calloused in some places. She strongly suspected that her fondness was due more to do with the man to which the hand belonged, rather than these simple details. Whatever it was, the answers lay somewhere, so she allowed her hands to continue their examination as she spoke. "What are we supposed to do in the mean time? Between family visits, I mean."
Booth didn't answer right away. He was too enthralled with the dance of her fingers upon his skin. Right now she was softly tracing the pattern of the tattoo on his inner wrist. Chancing a glance at her face, he saw that she had allowed her chin to lazily fall into the palm of her other hand. Of course she had no idea what she was doing to him. It was Bones. He wondered what she was looking for - the intense, secret-yielding look was still present. He also wasn't quite sure if he'd rather she stopped now, or continued until they were both wrinkled and shrivelled with age. That particular image startled him out of his thoughts. He cleared his throat. "Uh, you know. What we do best, Bones. Kick some ass." He shot her his best smile, and felt his heart flutter slightly when she returned it. Kill me now, he thought.
"That stuff doesn't really seem important, now." She said, moving to the rough patch of skin on the tip of his index finger. His trigger finger.
Booth's eyebrows shot up in surprise. "Not important?"
"Of course what we do is important, Booth. I just meant - " She sighed. "I meant that there are more important things to consider. Things that are necessary to living a full and happy life."
"Like family?" Booth asked, his fluttery feeling still present.
"Yes." She was smiling again. How he loved it when she smiled. "We should do more family things here, too." She continued. "When we have time. With the squints."
"Yeah, Bones," He nodded. "Yeah, we should." It was then he remembered that folded piece of paper deep in his pocket. With a smile in her direction, he retrieved the paper with the hand that wasn't currently under Bones' inspection and unfolded it. He smoothed it out and turned it around so his now curious partner could read it. "We should probably get working on this, too."
Brennan used her free hand to pull the paper closer. Tears immediately stung her eyes as she read the first line, but she blinked them back, hoping he wouldn't see. Written across the top of the page in block letters was: Bones and Booth's List of Dreams. She chuckled at the stick figures her partner had drawn under their names. He had drawn himself with his hands planted on his hips in a no-nonsense sort of way which was hindered slightly by the fact that he appeared to have attempted to draw himself winking. Moving over to the drawing of herself, she saw that she was wearing a triangular shaped skirt and her hair much curlier than she usually wore it. Squinting closer, she smiled when she noticed two tiny bone-shaped earrings peaking out from the curls. Brennan looked up to see her partner wearing his boyish smile. She laughed. "Very artistic, Booth."
"Thank you." If it were possible, his smile widened. Squeezing her hand, he said, "Keep reading."
Brennan directed her attention back to the paper. It read: 1. Climb to the top of Mount Everest. 2. Fly to the moon. Prove it's made of cheese. 3. Fly to Pluto. Make it back before we die. 4. Swim with dolphins. Her eyes snapped back up to meet his. "Swim with dolphins?" She asked.
He shrugged almost bashfully. "Yeah, I figured that was one we could make come true." When she didn't say anything he continued, "You haven't done that before have you?"
Slowly, Brennan shook her head. "I was supposed to do that with my mom."
Booth smiled at her. "I figured."
"How do you know these things?" She questioned quietly.
"Ah, Bones. You both loved dolphins. They're your favourite animal. It's a logical assumption, don't you think?" He winked at her, and she barely had time to register that it looked a whole lot better on the real man than on his stick figure persona before he began speaking again. "What else, Bones? Any more dreams we need to add to the list?"
He watched her look back at the list, biting her bottom lip softly as she thought. "Can you teach me to scuba dive, Bones?"
Her eyes popped back up to his and she smiled. "You'd have to actually wear the suit, Booth."
He laughed. "I'll live." She smiled again, and he took that to mean that she would indeed take him scuba diving one day. He watched as she folded the paper back up one-handed and slid it back across the table to him.
"You hold on to it."
Booth nodded and, instead of arguing, simply put the paper back into his pocket. When he looked back at her, he saw that her gaze was back to their hands. Squinting.
"You have very well-structured hands, Booth." She stated it like it was any other fact.
"Oh." Booth shifted slightly. It seemed that because she had said it out loud, it made the idea that they were holding hands in a public place all that more real. "Um, thank you."
Brennan's gaze did not lift to meet his when she spoke again. "But, I don't think that's why I like holding it."
"Oh." Booth had absolutely no words. None. Damn this woman and her bluntness. He nodded. "Okay." He let out an awkward giggle that made him feel like an idiot. He was usually so smooth. Luckily, Bones didn't seem to notice.
"It's love, too." She said after a while.
"Huh?" She loved his well-structured hands?
"Family. I said family was the most important thing. Love is, too. You can be a family and not love each other. Yours does, though. It's a very -" She paused. "loving place." She continued with a smile. "That's obviously how you got your well-developed feminine side."
Booth chose to ignore that last comment. "I thought you didn't believe in love, Bones."
"I felt it there." That was all she said. No elaboration. But Booth knew that it was more than he normally would have got out of her. Including the thing about holding his hand.
When Brennan looked up again, she saw the squints making their way across the street. "Squints are here."
After a quick glance over his shoulder to confirm, Booth turned his gaze on her, holding it for a long moment. He ceased the motion of her hand, turning it and clasping it tightly in his own. There was a flicker in his eyes. A message. One she wasn't quite sure if she could decode. The bell above the door sounded announcing that the squints had arrived. Booth's shoulders tensed as though he was anxious. Anxious for her to understand. She didn't though. She was confused. She noticed that the closer the squints got to them the harder he squeezed her hand. What was he trying to tell her? She squeezed his hand back in reassurance - for what she wasn't sure. And with that, in one fluid motion, his shoulders sagged with relief and the intensity softened in his eyes. With a small smile he withdrew his hand, just before their friends had a chance to see it.
For the next few moments, Brennan was unable to tear her gaze from Booth's face. Even as he stood to greet their squints as they welcomed him home and pulled up an extra chair for Zack. She felt slightly shaken when she realized that maybe she did understand. Or maybe she didn't. She wasn't really good with this kind of thing. Maybe it was because she had been away from logic and rationality for so long. Maybe she was just delirious with sadness at having to say goodbye to her family for a while. Or, maybe she was delirious with happiness at being home with her squint family again. Maybe, it was simply the writer in her getting carried away. But somehow she knew that one day, he wouldn't let go.
And when you figure out love
Is all that matters after all
It'll sure make everything else
Seems so small
A/N: Sigh. I know most of you wanted me to put them together, but what can I say? I'm a sucker for the teetering on the edge thing. Remember the sequel though, before you start throwing the rocks! We'll see how that goes. Thanks again for sticking with me through all of this. Apparently it's been seven whole months since I started this thing. My props go out to those of you who can accomplish this is under one. I'm jealous of you all. Hopefully you'll be seeing more of me soon! Review!