Hello again! Thanks to everyone who reviewed! I am so chuffed! I will be having a bit of a tidy-up of chapter 1 at some point. Nothing major, just a few little niggles I spotted that I want to sort out so the story flows better. (I need a beta...)
Just a quick point I should mention, I'm English, so some of the spelling may be slightly different to what you're used to. Just how we do it over here.
So, let's get these two kids together, with a bit of help from Booth senior...
"What are you waiting for, Son?"
Booth looked over at his grandfather, a little boy lost expression on his face.
"Pops, I just don't think I can do this. A few years ago I told Bones I could never have a relationship with someone I worked with. I drew a metaphorical line to stop us both from getting hurt; a stupid, regretted-it-from-the-moment-it-came-out-of-my-mouth line. Time passed, things changed – for me, anyway; I nearly lost her several times, I had to watch her almost sail into the Caribbean sunset with another guy from the department..."
"Yeah, but she stayed." Booth managed a small smile at the memory of walking Brennan back on the quay after Sully's departure. She looked so pretty that day.
"Now it's all so comfortable, she's become my best friend. I get to see her every day, we spend so much time together and Parker's crazy about her. I'm so freaked I'm going to scare her away that I can't bring myself to tell her how I really feel. You see - " He paused for a moment and rubbed the back of his neck in an attempt to ease the stress he'd built up, "- she doesn't believe in love. She says it's just chemical reactions in the brain. How ever many times we talk about love in this 'skirting round the subject' way, she always says the same thing. I'm never really going to get through to her, so I take what I can get. And this is all I can get."
Hank shook his head at the younger man.
"You know, I had you pegged as a smart guy, good at reading people, but you've read this one all wrong. "
Booth looked puzzled. "I don't get it Pops, what are you seeing that I'm not?"
Hank smiled again. "Sometimes, Seeley Joseph Booth, you just don't see what's right in front of your nose. You spend almost all your waking hours together, whether you're working or not. You cook for each other, confide in each other, hell - you'd die for each other. You almost have. "And," he chuckled, "in your own words, you're 'skirting round the subject'. Doesn't that tell you something?"
Booth looked shocked. He had frankly never thought things through. Not like this. It was so obvious. Hank continued...
"She has a little trouble expressing herself sometimes emotionally, right? Hadn't you realised that extends to you, too? I watched you two tonight and there is no doubt in my mind that you two are more in love than just about any couple I've ever seen, except maybe your Grandma and me."
Seeley put his hand on his grandfather's shoulder lovingly and gently squeezed it for a moment. Hank patted Booth hand reassuringly.
"It's OK, Son." they looked at each other for a moment until the feeling of loss passed again.
"She doesn't love me, Pops, not like that, anyway."
"Oh she loves you. You really have no idea how much. All this pretense about love not being real is because she knows that once she lets you in, that's it. All this is bravado is bullshit. All this 'trying to do the right thing for the sake of your partnership' is bullshit. And that applies to both of you. I can tell Seeley, I can tell. She knows it the way you know it."
Booth's mouth opened and closed like a goldfish but nothing came out. Hank swirled his scotch about in the tumbler again.
"Can I get a little more ice, Son? All this talking has melted my ice."
Brennan had been home for all of 15 minutes, just enough time to kick off her boots, change into the most comfortable of her t-shirts, this she favoured more than any other as Booth had bought it for her a year or so earlier. It was a Foreigner t-shirt, black and baggy, virtually down to her knees, but she loved it more than any other and it had already been washed enough times to have faded considerably. She had consoled herself with wearing it as the closest thing she was going to come to having Seeley Booth wrapped round her for the foreseeable future. His grandfather had been a lovely man, but his insights into Booth's feelings for her, or indeed, hers for him, hadn't made her feel any better. She'd waited this long and, quite frankly, if he hadn't made his move by now it was never going to happen. There was no empirical evidence to the contrary. She only dealt with empirical evidence.
Except... Brennan couldn't be absolutely sure but that one time a few weeks ago when she thought they might just kiss before the entire squint squad ruined the moment. There were other times too, when she thought that perhaps there was something there, but... she couldn't be certain enough to come to a definitive conclusion. Maybe the old man was right. Maybe there was some truth in what he said. Maybe a little, but not enough for her to get excited about. She didn't want to get 'best friends' confused with a fantasy. Or actually, fantasies. A mixture of the usual 'sex with Booth in a variety of places and positions' kind and, more alarmingly, the other kind. The kind with wedding rings and babies. She needed to put that out of her mind.
Brennan flopped in front of the television and switched it on. She tutted as a hockey game played out in front of her. "Booth..." she said out loud. Booth had persuaded her to buy the TV. Who also persuaded her to get cable so "they" could watch...
"C'mon Bones, there are the educational programmes for Parker when he visits, all that anthropological stuff you like, hey, I think there's even an anthropological channel, movies on demand so we can watch those old Clara Bow silents, and maybe just the occasional game of hockey or b-ball. Please?" Brennan broke into a smile remembering Booth charming her into buying the 50" plasma beast now hanging from her wall.
Her heart somersaulted again. Just pheromones right? Just pheromones she confirmed to herself. Oh, who was she trying to kid? The feelings from earlier in the evening when she'd been cooking had returned. Let's face it, those feelings have never gone away. She'd denied it to herself for so long.
Brennan eventually flicked channels until she came across some worthy documentary about Sigmund Freud.
"I hate Psychology...and Psychotherapy!" She pointed the remote at the TV and flicked the power switch off again and headed for the bathroom.
She'd just brushed her teeth when there was a sharp knock on the door. Brennan was a little alarmed considering the time and that she wasn't expecting anyone.
Seeley Booth was standing breathless at her front door.
"Booth? What have you been doing? Why are you so out of breath?"
"Can... I... come... in ... please...?"
Brennan ushered him in and rubbed her hand on his back in a vain attempt to help him catch his breath. He stood bent over, hands on his knees, breathing deeply.
"Car... ran... out... of... petrol." he took a couple of deeper breaths. "Didn't...notice...until...too...late...had...to... run.. the.. last. twenty. blocks." He looked up at her. He was still gasping for breath a little, but now less from the exertion of running twenty blocks and rather more from the fact that it was her taking his breath away. He ran because he knew what he had to tell her. He needed to do it before he lost his nerve. Hang on, is that the Foreigner t-shirt? It looked so faded. She must have worn it to death. Jesus, Pops had been right. This was just what he needed, a sign. He took a final deep breath to steady himself, stood up straight to his full height, then reached out to grip her shoulders firmly but gently.
"Bones-" He spoke softly but suddenly the use of her nickname didn't seem appropriate any more. He moved to correct himself. "Temperance." He searched her eyes for clues to her reaction but all he could see were two deep blue pools staring back at him in expectation. Was that wonderment, or fear, or something else? At least she wasn't backing away.
"Is that the Foreigner shirt I bought you last year?"
"Yes." Brennan looked bashfully back at him.
"You've worn it a lot."
"Yes. It's my favourite."
Booth braced himself. It was now or never. He mustered his extra best charm smile.
"I love you."
"I know, in a professional, atta-girl way." She went to pull away slightly in disappointment but he held her firm. He took a hand off her shoulder and touched her chin, pulling it up gently and stepping in closer still.
"No, I lied. I wanted to tell you how I really feel but I didn't have the guts, so I qualified it with that bullshit because telling you how I really feel scares me that you're going to run away. And I don't want you to run away, Temperance." He took another step in and was virtually pressed up against her, one arm still on her shoulder, the other bringing her lips in close to his.
"You don't want me to run away" was all she could mumble back as she gazed straight into his eyes. He had rendered her virtually speechless. All she could do was use every other sense to process all of this wonderful new information. Booth continued.
"No. I want you to stay. With me. Every night. For the next fifty years or so." Between each phrase he touched her lips with his, ever so gently that the touch barely registered but it was his warm breath against her mouth that now had left her dumbstruck.
"Every night" she quietly repeated, nodding. It was all she could manage.
"Because I love you" Booth smiled.
"Because I love you." Brennan smiled back.
Three hours later, back at Booth's apartment, Hank glanced up at his watch as he watched the baseball highlights and afforded himself a big grin. He wouldn't be expecting his grandson home tonight.
He went to fetch himself a final glass of Scotch before he turned in for the night. With Ice.