Booth tapped his fingers on the steering wheel impatiently as he waited for the light to turn green. Why was Bones so quiet this evening? It was really bothering him. Usually she would comment on his edginess, but tonight she was just as tense. She had been dismissive of Hodgins at the lab, and had brushed off Angela's concern before stalking out, leaving Booth to chase after her. He was her ride home, after all.
He had asked if she was all right – several times, in fact – but she had barely responded. He opened his mouth to ask once more, then thought better of it and flipped on the radio instead.
Booth glanced awkwardly at his partner; his 'guy hugs' were far from platonic, he knew. He often let himself go more than he should…let himself get caught up in feeling her close to him…but tonight, in her office, had been something else.
They had been talking about all the broken promises she had stored up over the years; her father, Russ, Sully – and he had felt the overwhelming urge to reaffirm his own promises. He had pulled her into his arms, intending to comfort her. I'll always be here, Bones, he had whispered, dropping a kiss on her hair.
And then, she had looked up at him with those huge blue eyes of hers…and he couldn't pretend anymore, couldn't act as though she wasn't his entire world. He'd reached up to brush her cheek with his knuckles – sensed, rather than heard, her breath catch in her throat – and all of a sudden, his lips were touching hers, ever so gently.
And then she had run.
"Are you all right, sweetie?" Angela had called as she stormed past, pulling her coat on as she went.
"Ange, I'm fine, I just need to get home." Brennan had tossed back over her shoulder. Hodgins had tried, too, to get her attention, but she had more or less ignored him. She had other things on her mind.
Why did Booth kiss me? And more importantly, what am I going to do about it?
"Bones – hey, Bones!" her partner's voice had interrupted her thoughts. "Wait up, I'll drive you home." She'd glanced over her shoulder, watching Booth jog toward her, and acquiesced. He had picked her up that morning; if Booth didn't drive her, she'd have to catch a cab.
The silence in the SUV was more awkward than it had ever been before. "Bones, listen," he tried to begin, but she was having none of it.
"It's fine, Booth, I understand. Emotions running high can lead to all kinds of…unpredictable reactions. The chemicals in the brain –"
Booth didn't wait to hear more. "Listen, Bones, can we just wait until I'm not driving to discuss this? I'd really rather not crash."
Brennan rolled her eyes. "Fine."
The shiny black government-issue vehicle pulled up to the curb in front of Brennan's apartment building. Booth glanced over at his partner hesitantly. "Is it alright if I come up?"
Brennan wasn't sure how to respond. "I guess," she shrugged. What on earth does he want to tell me? That speech again, about the line? He kissed me, not the other way around!
Booth was visibly agitated as the elevator rose several floors. Brennan watched him warily, bouncing on his heels and adjusting his ostentatious belt uncomfortably. Finally, the elevator doors opened on her floor and he stepped back to let her precede him.
She fumbled with her keys briefly before opening the door to her apartment. Booth followed closely behind her, his trained eyes taking in his surroundings more out of habit than watchfulness. Still, his tendency to paranoia was probably why they were both still alive at this point – he could notice something out of place without even trying. It had saved both their lives more than once.
Brennan dropped her keys and purse on a chair, pulling her coat off slowly. "So…" she began awkwardly.
Booth cleared his throat. "Bones, you know that next to Parker, you're the most important person in my life, right?" He rocked back on his heels, his hands hooked together in front of him.
Brennan smiled, flattered. "Thanks, Booth. Honestly, you're at the top of my list."
He inhaled deeply. "Yeah, so, you understand why I don't want to rock the boat. We've got a good relationship – a great partnership – already. And, I don't want to lose that."
Brennan understood. "The line." That damned line.
Booth nodded. "But –" He paused, as if to collect his thoughts, then gave a short laugh. "This is harder than I thought."
Now she was curious. "What is?"
Booth started walking toward her, closing the distance between them. Unconsciously, she took a step backwards, a little nervous. "Ah, Bones…" He put his hands on her shoulders.
Why am I nervous? It's just Booth. I see him every day, in close proximity, for prolonged periods of time. Why are my palms perspiring? She looked up at him, waiting for him to continue.
"You're a good partner, Bones, and a great friend, but – " Booth shook his head. "It's not enough."
Her breath caught. "Not…enough? As in, not…good enough?"
Booth threw his head back in frustration. "Ah, this is all coming out wrong." He broke the contact with Brennan and turned to pace the floor, rubbing his face with one hand.
She couldn't take any more of this. "Booth, if there's something I'm not doing that I should be doing, just tell me. I'll work on it – I've already gotten a lot better at all of this…"
"No!" he shouted. He turned and his eyes caught hers, his voice softening. "No, Bones, there's nothing you need to fix. You're perfect. Don't change." He came toward her again, this time capturing her hand in his.
She could feel her pulse increasing at the touch of his hand, the look in his eye. "Then…what?"
Instead of answering, he moved his free hand to brush her temple, burying it in her hair. Her head involuntarily leaned into his touch as her eyes flickered to his mouth, which held a slight quirk at one corner. She gave him a slight smile in return, and almost before she could react his lips were on hers for the second time that night.
Her hand found its way to his chest as his lips caressed hers. She marveled at how safe and comfortable she felt in his arms, like nothing she had experienced before – it was like coming home. His kiss was languorous and sensual, his fingers tangling in her hair, stroking her arm.
They pulled apart slowly, stealing one more brief kiss as they separated, arms still looped around each other's waists. Brennan could feel herself almost melting at the sparkle in Booth's dark brown eyes. "Have I made you understand now? How our partnership just isn't enough anymore?"
She couldn't understand why she suddenly felt shy. "It's not enough for me, either. Hasn't been for a long time."
His thumb still idly stroked her waist. "Do you know how long I've been wanting to kiss you?" She laughed lightly. "No, I'm serious. Do you know how hard it is to work with you when I can't stop thinking about how beautiful you are?"
Brennan rolled her eyes playfully. "Shameless flatterer. You only say things like that when you want something."
He grinned. "You. I want you." He backed her into a wall and hovered over her, turning serious. "I have for a long time, Bones." He touched his forehead to hers.
Brennan sighed. "Oh, Booth." She could hardly believe that after all this time, she was finally allowing herself to give in to her overwhelming attraction to this man. Finally finding herself in the arms of the man she trusted over anyone else, the man who believed in her no matter what. And, she suspected, the man she loved. She tilted her head up to kiss him again.
Several minutes later, they were on her couch, simply reveling in each other's embrace. "So…now what?" Booth asked.
Brennan shrugged, a soft smile on her face. "Thai food?"
Booth chuckled. "Ah, Bones, you read my mind. That's one of the things I love about you." He froze suddenly, afraid of the impact of his words. But she only snuggled closer to him.
"You know love is something I have no frame of reference for," she began warmly, "but I may be close to a confirmation of my hypothesis."
He raised an eyebrow. "And what is your hypothesis?"
Brennan looked up at him. "That I might love you."
A smile crept over Booth's features. "Well, when you've made your discovery, be sure to let me know."
Brennan laughed. "I'm feeling more relaxed than I have in a long time, Booth. Thank you."
"For what?" He looked genuinely puzzled.
"For being my friend – for always being there for me." She smiled up at him. "And for erasing that damned line."