Story: What Hurts the Most Is Being Far Away for Far Too Long

Disclaimer: I own nothing, only the scotch tape holding posters to my wall. No claim to Nickelback lyrics, Rascal Flatts lyrics or Bones here, sadly… Now I'm going to go cry, so thanks for reminding me I don't own them, GOSH!

Spoilers: None that I can think of…

Pairing: Booth x Brennan

Chapters: This is a two-part deal. I have the second part planned out but I haven't written it yet; just seeing if I should continue with this story.

Summary: They were so close, but everything he couldn't say fell to pieces when she walked away.

Chapter 1: Only for a Little While

Note: Please review this story it makes me happy plus it'll inspire me to write the next part of it sooner! Let me know if I should continue with this story, delete it, or just leave it as a one-shot. But for now it's a WIP.


"What hurts the most

Is being so close

And having so much to say

And watching you walk away

And never knowing

What could have been

And not seeing that loving you

Is what I was trying to do."

-Rascal Flatts

"Yes, sir. Thank you very much." Brennan paused as the man on the other end spoke again. "Yes. I'll see you in a few days. Goodbye." The plastic phone clicked in its cradle as Dr. Brennan set it back onto the table. She stared at it for a second, taking in the enormity of what she had just done. This was her big break, everything she had ever dreamed off all coming together. Air flowed out of the couch cushions in a whoosh as she collapsed onto the furniture, one hand over her eyes with a throbbing headache approaching. So why was she so reluctant to do this? It was the ideal setting, the dream for any working citizen coming true. She sat up and stared at the blessed, or cursed, she couldn't decide which at the moment, electric appliance on her table. A year ago, maybe even a month ago, she would have jumped at the chance and have been on the next plane out within the day. But now, she wasn't so sure. Brennan ended her staring contest with the phone and sighed again. It was going to be a long night.

The large clock in her hallway announced the six o'clock hour, breaking Tempe from her thoughts. Stowing her current thought-tormenter under mental lock and key, she quickly walked back to her closet and hurriedly got ready for dinner.

Wong Foos was almost empty when he got there. It seemed Booth had caught the lull in the action between dinner and late-night happy hour crowds. He sat on his usual seat and waited patiently for the barstool next to him to become occupied with its usual resident. He didn't have long to wait, for no more than five minutes later, his partner walked into the room and gracefully sat at his side while ignoring the glances she received from the others in the building.

"Hey." She spoke quietly, almost shy. Booth ignored the uncharacteristic tone and cracked a perfect smile at her as Sid set drinks down in front of them.

"Hey, yourself." He grinned, studying her. Brennan seemed a little anxious, fiddling with the folds of her dark brown skirt as her hands twisted the fabric on her lap. Booth frowned slightly. This he could not ignore; this was not like his Bones. The normal fire was still in her smoldering blue eyes, but it was clouded by worry and apprehension.

"You okay?" He gently placed a hand over hers, the fidgeting stopping for the moment. She didn't jerk away immediately, but her hands instantly tensed and Booth slowly withdrew his gentle, caring touch.

She looked up into his concerned eyes, the warm brown calming her immensely. She could have laughed, despite herself. His brown was gently furrowed in a small frown, his full lips almost pouty as he studied her. Overall, he looked kind of cute… Brennan mentally slapped herself.

"I'm fine." She replied, offering a small smile at Booth. The automatic response was expected, and Booth decided not to dwell on it for the moment. He broke out into another smile, the warmth radiating from him calming Tempe even more.

"Hungry?"

The next hour or so was spent in amiable chatter, whether it be about work or not. Brennan managed to relax a bit, surprising herself at how easily the small talk came now after so long working with Booth. Eventually they lapsed into a comfortable silence, never awkward. Brennan finally remembered what she wanted to tell him and she began fidgeting again, her fingers twisting and turning under the countertop as she tried to conceal her discomfort. Booth's sharp eye picked up on it immediately.

"Bones, what is it? And don't tell me it's nothing, because it's not." His voice was serious and laced with concern. Tempe sighed; she was just putting off the inevitable by avoiding the subject. She would have to breach it sooner or later, though she preferred the latter of the two. Might as well tell him.

"I, I got another job offer." She blurted out. Blunt and concise, no skipping around the issue, no alternate route that might leave a man guessing as to the actual content of the conversation like other females might. That's what he loved about her; she wasn't like anyone else he had ever met… Booth quickly smothered his thoughts and turned his attention back to the nervous, albeit pretty scientist in front of him.

"That's great, Bones!" He spoke with enthusiasm, not quite grasping what it all meant. So that's what all the fuss was about? Brennan shook her head at his response, whether it was to him or her he wasn't sure.

"No, you don't understand." She started, hoping that was true. His enthusiasm had only promoted more fidgeting, though his response should have been good for her. But it only initiated another line of questioning for her brain: Did he want her gone? Did he even care she was leaving?

"I've been invited to work on temporary assignment at a lab out in California to work with the law forces there. If I like the work and they are satisfied with my work, then I have the option of staying out there and being my own boss at the institute there and leaving my work at the Jeffersonian to Zach since he's about ready to be certified." She told him. Booth just stared. There was a small shine of enthusiasm as she spoke, and he shifted in his seat to get a better look at her.

"Leave?" He stuttered out. Her words finally hit him like a ton of bricks and he still had trouble comprehending them. Bones, leave? He could not believe what he was hearing.

"You, you can't leave!" Booth almost shouted. He was desperate to keep her, but it came out angry. Brennan narrowed her sharp blue eyes in response. She was expecting a number of things, including disbelief, but anger? Never!

"You can't tell me what to do. I came here to let you know that I'm leaving because I thought you, of all people, could understand how huge this is and how important my work is to me. I could have simply walked out the door tomorrow morning and stepped onto a plane to California." She said calmly, though her eyes betrayed the angry fire that clawed at her insides.

"You were going to leave me to find out from the squint squad?" Booth automatically accused her, his desperation taking a defensive turn.

"No! That's why I'm here trying to tell you in a civil manner that I'm leaving!" Brennan's voice rose in volume. Booth wasn't backing down.

"You were going to leave me and just skip your merry little way across the country without telling me!" Brennan was now very flustered and trying very hard not to mutilate the finger that was now pointing at her.

"Stop putting words into my mouth, you incorrigible idiot. Besides, how is that even relevant? I'm leaving tomorrow, thought you should know, end of story." She growled. "Goodbye!" Brennan snatched her purse from the bar top and prepared to stalk out of the door. Booth caught her wrist as she stood to leave.

"But, I don't want you to go." His voice was soft now, hard desperation giving way to gentle pleading. Brennan spun around, ready to shout at him again. She faltered as their eyes locked, his deep brown eyes a swirl of confusion, desperation, and something else she couldn't quite put her finger on.

"And why not?" She meant to snap, but it came out soft enough to match his own voice. She felt her heart flutter in her throat as he looked down to the wrist he still held in his hand. Her nerve endings were on fire where he held contact with her, and it wasn't because of anger.

"Why, Seeley?" She asked again in his hesitation. Booth's eyes snapped up to hers when she said his first name. He knew why he had stopped her, and the though the tone of her voice and the spark of hope in her eyes made him want to tell her and gather her up in his arms right then, he couldn't. Fear of rejection still showed its ugly face every time the words tried to make it past his lips.

"You… You're…" He tried to start. Brennan still hadn't reclaimed her arm yet, making it hard to think for him as he tried to ignore her silky skin in his hand.

"Yes?" She prodded gently, not rushing him.

Time stood still as Booth's mind raced. He couldn't tell her what he really wanted to say. So he settled for the next best thing, which probably was the worst thing as he thought back to it.

"You're a good anthropologist, Bones. I like working with you and the squints on the cases, and besides, you're my partner. I don't want you leaving me." He said a bit more than he wanted, but Brennan didn't catch the slip. Her once hopeful blue eyes were now icy and hard as Fort Knox once again closed around her heart. She tried to gently tug her arm from his strong grasp, not missing the fact that all she wanted to do was melt into his touch. But she did miss the disappointment in his eyes as she took a step back.

"I'm sorry." Her voice was just as icy as her brilliant eyes. "But I want to do this, Booth. For once, something for me." Booth sighed, still clinging to the hand she had not yet managed to extract from his grip.

"I know." He relented. There was no stopping her, not now, not ever. But that was a risk he was willing to take, no, wanted to take, just to be with her. But the sacrifices of wanting her were huge and many and this was one of them, maybe even the last.

"Have fun, Bones." He hung his head and Tempe's face softened as Booth backed down, his grip on her hand relaxing. This time, though, she kept the contact, holding his hand gently in hers.

"Goodbye, Seeley." She spoke tenderly and gave his hand a gentle squeeze. She knew she was going to miss him; he was the reason she was so unsure of everything. But he was letting her go, and no matter how much it hurt to walk away from him, she had to do it. If he wasn't going to chase after her now, then maybe there was no prospect of them ever being together. Maybe Angela had been wrong…

"It's only for a little while." Her departing words stung him as the warmth of her hand left and she began to walk away. Booth's hand dropped limply to his lap as he watched her leave him, taking in the gentle sway of her hips, the length of her auburn hair, and her lingering scent as she left him. But most of all, he held onto the hope and gentleness he caught a glimpse of in her eyes. It seemed to be all he had left. Brennan paused at the door, allowing herself one more glance backwards to see a motionless Booth at the bar. Then she turned once more to leave, Booth and his inner demons suffering at the bar.

"Goodbye, Temperance."

"Who was I to make you wait?

Just once chance,

Just one breath

Just in case there's just one left.

'Cause you know,

You know, you know…

That I love you,

I have loved you all along."

-Nickelback


Weeeeeeeell? Should I continue? Or leave this as a depressing one-shot lol. I have another part planned out if anybody wants it. Just leave a review and you can have it within the week, maybe. -Ash