A/N: If you enjoy music while you read, the music mentioned in this story is from John Cleary at the last of this year's Twilight Series at the Santa Monica pier - if you are interested in his music, you can check on YouTube at watch?v=aiU7ezjQS-U
The Restaurant on the Pier
As he leans back on the chaise, the latest Nikki Heat book open and face down on his chest, Booth is lulled by the sun on his face and the sound of the waves hitting the shore just steps from their lanai. This week in southern California has been wonderful. When Bones asked him to join her on a trip to the West Coast to meet with some studio people about the screenplay for her next book, he jumped at the chance to come along. Her agent added a couple of book readings and signings to the itinerary, but for the most part they've had time for just the two of them.
The studio put them up in a beautiful suite just a short walk from the Santa Monica pier. They've done some sightseeing this week, and had some time for just the two of them with no dead bodies, no Lab, no decomp, and no squints.
He feels the backs of her fingers on his cheek, and smiles as he reaches up to capture her hand in his. Lazily opening his eyes, he looks up into the face of the woman he loves. This wasn't how he imagined they would come together. There are still times when he is caught off guard by the knowledge that they are a couple. His heart skips a beat (metaphorically, of course) as he thinks about the fact that she loves him and they are having a baby. He turns his head and places a kiss on her bump and reminds himself yet again that this is not a dream, this is them. Booth and Bones.
There have been so many times in the past few years when he thought they were close to getting together. He thinks of the times he's kicked himself for not being able to step up and voice what was in his heart. So many times when he's swallowed what he wanted to say and came out with "just partners" or "guy hug" for an explanation.
Looking up at her now, he knows that even in his wildest dreams he would never have imagined that this is how being with her would feel. He smiles as he thinks about all of the times that he thought about being able to look at her this way, to kiss her without needing a reason or an excuse, to wake up with her in his arms, to fall asleep spooned against her. His grin widens as he thinks that his imagination is good, but reality! Oh! Reality with her is better than he ever could have imagined!
It has been a relaxing week, although a bit of a busman's holiday for Bones. Booth has accompanied her to the meetings with the studio people. Although he blushed when Bones introduced him as the inspiration for Andy, he was pleased with what her statement revealed about her long-time feelings for him. It's one more assurance that the feelings haven't been one-sided, tinged with a little regret that it has taken them so long to get to where they are now.
The book signings and readings were held at a couple of independent bookstores and had been well attended. At each of them he has taken the opportunity to grab a book and find a comfortable chair nearby to watch her interacting with her fans. He smiles as he recalls her graciousness with each person that approached her. He has watched and marveled at the changes since they first met. She has smiled at each person that approached the table, made eye contact and small talk, and personalized inscriptions when requested.
Yesterday evening they'd walked over to the pier to enjoy the last of the Twilight dance series. They listened to John Cleary, as he held her in his arms, her back to his chest, his hands on her bump and her hands on his. They watched the sun go down over the Pacific as they walked back to the hotel with the waves rolling over their feet.
"What should we do for dinner this evening, Booth, I'd like to make an early evening of it, if we could." They'd had dinner in their room the first night, and had visited some wonderful restaurants in and around Los Angeles over the week. But now there are just two more nights before they head home.
"Do you want to walk down to the pier? We could take our time walking over and then decide once we got there where we want to eat. Are you up for a walk this evening?"
She smiles as she replies in a teasing voice, "Since you wouldn't let me go down to the gym this morning, walking would be excellent exercise for me."
He smiles back and raises his eyebrows back at her. "I'm hoping that's not a complaint about the exercise we did get in this morning?" His grin grows wider as she beams back at him.
"We haven't made it all the way out to the very end of the pier yet. Do you want to try the restaurant that's out there?"
Looking over the information board for businesses on the pier, Brennan feels her breath catch as she spots the name of the restaurant at the end of the pier. "Booth?"
Looking to where she's pointing, Booth feels a momentary tightness in his throat as he reads aloud, "Surfside Sully's?"
"You don't . . . do you think -" she asks.
"It could be. It was on his list. Should we find out?" Booth's eyes seek hers as her fingers tighten on his.
"Let's," she replies with only a hint of hesitation.
They walk hand in hand down the pier, each lost in their own thoughts about a different time in their lives. It's been a few years and since then they've weathered other relationships for each of them, they've survived absences while each was on the other side of the world, hospitalizations, crazed serial killers, this isn't even a blip on their radar screen.
Lively music comes from the brightly lit restaurant. Brennan smiles as she catches the leggy redhead at the hostess podium giving Booth the once (or maybe twice) over as they approach.
"Two," Booth responds to her inquiry. Reading her nametag he asks, "By the way, Charlie, the name of the restaurant? Is there a Sully in 'Surfside Sully's'?"
"That would be Tim Sullivan," Charlie replies, "He's the owner. Everyone calls him Sully."
"He's about this tall," Brennan indicates a few inches above Booth's ahead, "dark hair -"
"Smart-ass attitude." Booth finishes her statement.
"That would be Sully!" Charlie replies with a laugh. "Sounds like you might know him. I can see if he's available once I seat you. I think he's in back."
"Definitely!" Brennan replies at the same time as Booth's "Absolutely."
For just the briefest of moments, Booth feels his stomach twist. In an instant, his mind takes him back to that moment sitting in his office when he denied how he felt about her and encouraged Sully to ask her out. Then, not that long after, pretending that he didn't care as he encouraged her to sail off with Sully. For just the briefest of seconds he can feel the fear that was in his gut as he drove down to the pier that morning, hoping she hadn't gotten on the sloop. The relief he felt when he saw her standing on the pier as the boat pulled out of the marina.
He feels her hand on his and he looks into her eyes. He knows that she knows where his thoughts have gone as he feels the squeeze. He smiles at her apologetically and leans across the table and she laughs as he kisses the tip of her nose.
He hears her laughter before he sees her. He knows that it's her. It couldn't be anyone else, not that laugh. Glancing through the crowd, he catches his breath as he sees her as she turns from her companion to the waitress. At first he can't see who she's with, but then as she leans forward to say something, he catches a glimpse and realizes. Booth. Of course it's Booth. Who else could it be but Booth. He remembers pulling out of the Washington Marina and looking back at the two of them on the pier. He should have never looked back.
"Tempe? Booth? What are you two doing here?"
"Sully!" Booth stands and extends his hand to greet his old friend and Bones' former lover. "We asked the waitress if there was a Sully behind the name. Looks like you finally did it, eh? You got your restaurant!" Shaking Sully's hand and looking around at the crowd, he continues, "It's great, Sully! Looking good!" As he's talking he realizes that Sully's eyes are on Bones.
"Sully? How are you?" She glances around the restaurant taking in the crowd and looks at him with a smile. "So this is it, eh? One more thing on your list!" Booth reaches over to help her as Bones pushes her chair back and stands to give Sully a hug. Sully's eyes haven't left her face. Watching them Booth spots the change in Sully's body language when it clicks. There's no gloating in the moment.
She's as beautiful as he remembers. As he steps forward to give her a hug, he wonders why he ever let her stay behind. Why didn't he push her harder to sail off with him? As she hugs him and he feels the bump of her belly, he knows. Brennan and Booth. No matter what words Booth had used, he had always known that she would never be his. She never had been.
It is a movie perfect evening as they walk back to the hotel. The surf laps at their feet, the moon reflects off the water, their arms around each other, and her head on his shoulder. Each is lost in their thoughts about the evening.
"That was a nice dinner. I'm glad that Sully was able to sit down and visit with us and it was very nice of him to comp dinner for us."
She feels Booth's hand squeeze her shoulder and pull her closer to him. "It was. It was good to see him. Although, I'm not sure he had quite wrapped his brain around the changes, even by the time we left," Booth replies with a chuckle. Then, a little more cautiously, "Bones, do you ever regret that you didn't go off with Tim?"
"Booth," glancing over at the handsome man walking beside her she knows that he is sure of her and of them, but she also knows that it had been a difficult time for Booth when she was dating Tim. Stopping and turning so that she faces him, Brennan takes both of his hands in hers. "Booth, there are some things that I do wish had happened differently in my life. There are some things that I'm not quite sure why I had to experience. However, I have never, never regretted not getting on that boat with Tim Sullivan."
"No. Please let me just say this," she continues, "the things that we experience in our lives are the things that make us who we are today. The same way that I can read the bones of our victims and know things about how they lived their lives, our experiences are what form us. It's what each of us brings to this relationship.
"Do I wish that there were some parts of our history that could be different? Of course, I do. But would I trade changing any of those experiences for the chance that we wouldn't be where we are this evening? To have missed this past week or these past few months? To have missed the chance to be expecting our child? Not for a minute. If one thing were different, we might not be where we are today. I have no regrets, Booth. No regrets."
Stepping forward, Booth pulls her into his arms. Her arms slip around him and she runs her hands up his back until her fingers tease the back of his neck. She raises her face to his as he searches for her lips. Standing in the moonlight lost in each other, they miss the man standing on the pier watching.
As he watches them, he feels a little tug at his heart, but knows without question that this is just as it should be. No matter what either of them ever told him, they were never 'just partners.' They belong together and even though he might have once wished things could have gone differently a few years ago, he knows that for her, for them, this is right and as it should be. With a last glance at the lovers on the beach, Tim Sullivan turns and heads back towards his restaurant on the pier, knowing that his life is just as it should be, too. No regrets.
A/N: Earlier this summer the opening scene of an NCIS:LA rerun took place at what appeared to be a southern California pier-side restaurant called "Surfside Sully's." I immediately emailed a couple of fan fic friends to tell them "I know what happened to Sully!" ;-) So, I've had this idea rattling around in my brain ever since. (I think it was NCIS:LA's S.2E.23, 'Imposters,').
One of my favorite "Sully leaving" stories is Some1tookmyname's "The People on the Pier" (story 7223524)