"I Can't Let Go"

Disclaimer: As usual they don't belong to me.

Summary: Booth doesn't understand why seeing Sully and Brennan together bothers him so much.

Author's notes: This story was inspired by the lyrics of Landon Pigg's "I Can't Let Go". I'm still working on my other fic, "A Pain That I'm Used To" but I just felt the need to write something else at the moment. I've had this idea in my head for awhile now and I thought that writing it would help with my other story. If any of you lovely BONES and DB fans would like to email pics of DB to me for inspiration please feel free Also feel free to read and review this meaningless one shot.

"I can't let go of you

You're holding me back without even trying to

I can't let go

I can't move on from the past

Without lifting a finger, you're holding me back."

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The Royal Diner came into his line of sight as he turned the corner, rubbing his hands together in anticipation of a greasy cheeseburger and salty fries topped with his usual case ending slice of pie. Brennan had agreed to meet him for their customary celebration of a job well done and finalizing paperwork.

Booth hurried across the street toward the wafting smell of coffee and desserts. He deftly avoided the traffic and the throngs of people making their way home at the end of a busy week.

As he approached the entrance to the diner, one of the doors swung open and Booth quickly grabbed the door frame to halt the cold metal's attempt to connect with his face. A woman with a young boy around Parker's age smiled apologetically at the agent as she tried to keep her hold on the precocious child.

"Sorry," she said as she grabbed the child's hand. "Henry, don't let go of my hand again."

"That's okay," Booth replied. "I recognize the signs of a revolt for freedom when I see them." He grinned and winked at the child. Henry's eyes grew wide with awe upon seeing Booth's FBI badge clipped to the belt that encircled his blue jean clad waist.

The woman laughed and kept her grip tight on Henry's small hand as he struggled to pull away. "I think this revolt is quickly becoming a standard temper tantrum."

"Come on Mom!" he pleaded insistently.

Booth watched as the little boy tugged his mother away from the diner and down the sidewalk. He adjusted his badge and his 'provocatively' large belt buckle as he chuckled at the boy's persistent nature. His grin turned into a full blown smile as he thought of someone else's persistent nature. While Brennan could sometimes annoy the hell out of him, Booth knew persistence was one of her best qualities—one of many.

Entering the diner Booth's dark eyes scanned the restaurant with the intensity and speed of a sniper looking for his mark. His smile slowly faded when he spotted his partner sitting at a table with Sully.

Brennan glanced up over Sully's shoulder and smiled, waving Booth over to the table. Booth felt his jaw involuntarily tighten as he made his way to her. Suddenly his appetite had diminished and was replaced by a queasy feeling that seemed to happening more and more frequently when he saw Sully and Brennan together.

"Booth, congratulations on another solved case." Sully smiled and lifted his coffee cup as Booth took the seat next to Brennan.

"Thanks," Booth mumbled in reply as he noticed a few uneaten bites of apple pie on Sully's plate. He frowned before turning his attention to finding a waitress.

"Of course when you've got Temperance on the case it would be difficult not to have a high solve rate." Sully winked at Brennan who simply shook her head and smiled.

"What can I get ya honey?" the waitress asked as she approached Booth.

"Cup of coffee please."

Brennan took a sip of water and placed her glass on the table as she cast a concerned glance at her partner. "Why aren't you having any pie?"

He shrugged as he looked around the restaurant. "I'm just not hungry."

Now it was Brennan's turn to frown. "Just two hours ago you said that you were starving…"

"I don't need a play by play on our conversation Bones. I was there, okay?"

Brennan and Sully looked at each other as the waitress approached and placed Booth's coffee on the table. Booth reached in front of Brennan to grab the container of sugar sitting on the table and accidentally brushed her hand. He quickly pulled his hand back and murmured an apology.

He sighed before taking a quick sip of the scorching liquid. "Have you got the papers I need to sign Bones?"

"Yes Booth but I thought…"

"I'll just sign them real quick and leave you two to your date. I don't want to intrude…"

"You're not intruding," Brennan interrupted. "I got here early to wait for you and Sully just happened to be here. It's not a date."

Sully grinned and nodded his head in agreement. "The pie's good but the diner is not really a date-worthy place."

"There's nothing wrong with this place," Booth commented as he set his coffee cup down. "Besides, I've got some things I've got to do tonight."

"Oh, okay." Brennan felt disappointed as she reached for her bag and pulled out the file for Booth to sign. "Are you sure you're okay?"

She watched intently as he glanced over the report and scribbled his signature at the bottom of the page. "Yeah Bones, I'm fine. I just forgot that I've got a few things to do this evening." He glanced over at Sully and felt the muscle in his jaw twitch again. "Besides I'm leaving you in good company."

He stood and pulled a few dollar bills from his pant pocket, placing them on the table. "See ya later Bones. Have a nice night."

He quickly exited the restaurant, grateful for the rush of cold air that whipped at his flushed face. He stuffed his hands in his pant pockets and took a deep breath as he closed his eyes. The moment he heard the door open behind him he instantly knew that she had followed him outside.

"Booth." Brennan placed her hand on his shoulder as she studied his face.

He stood for a long moment allowing her hand to rest on his shoulder and listening to her breathe. He could picture her forehead creased with worry and her azure eyes filled with concern.

"Are you sure you're okay?" she questioned softly.

"I'm fine," he answered as he opened his eyes and looked over at her. He'd been right about her creased forehead and concerned stare.

"Did I do something wrong? Something to upset you?" She knew it wouldn't be the first time she had unintentionally hurt someone she cared for but at the moment she couldn't deduce what her faux pas was this time. As she replayed the events of the last few days in her mind she realized that Booth's current behavior began sometime after their last contact two hours ago.

He shook his head and smiled. "No, it's not you. I'm just tired…got a lot of things to do...you know, the usual."

Her hand slid off his shoulder and down the length of his arm before she pulled away. Booth's explanation clearly did not satisfy her but she knew that pushing him would result in an argument. "Yeah, the usual…"

"Goodnight Bones." He turned and briskly walked away, still confused as to why he suddenly felt so depressed.

The confusion carried over to his partner as Brennan watched him. "Goodnight Booth," she whispered.

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He didn't understand why ended up there. He had walked away from Brennan, got into his SUV and started driving with no destination in mind—at least his conscious mind. He paced the sidewalk in front of the small house with his hands on his hips. He stopped pacing and eyed the grill that he'd built several weeks ago for Dr. Gordon Gordon Wyatt.

Of the millions of thoughts running through his brain the one stuck in his head at the moment was whether Wyatt had bothered keeping the grill clean. He pushed open the little white picket fence and walked over to the grill, lifting the lid to inspect it.

"I read somewhere that keeping one of those contraptions clean ensures its ability to operate properly," Wyatt advised from his position at the door.

"Good," Booth said as he lowered the lid. "I would hate to think all of my hard work went to waste."

Wyatt chuckled as he approached the agent and handed him a beer. "Can I entice you with a nice cold bottle of ale?"

"If by ale you mean beer then yeah…entice away."

The doctor motioned for Booth to have a seat at the table on the patio. The men sat in silence, drinking their beverages, for several minutes. Wyatt studied the younger man's face and body language as he took tentative sips of his beer.

"I must admit that I'm rather surprised by your presence this evening Agent Booth. Do you have another necktie emergency which requires my attention?"

Booth smiled and pointed his right index finger at the older man. "Funny." He dropped his hand to the table and began tracing the condensation from the bottle with his fingers.

"Oh now don't leave me in suspense…"

Booth glanced up and stared blankly at Wyatt.

"Why. Are. You. Here?"

"I don't know," Booth admitted. "Bones and I had a case, which we solved 'cause that's what we do, and I was really looking forward to our usual trip to the diner to kinda, you know, celebrate and unwind."

"But your partner didn't show up?"

"No, no, she was there. Bones is extremely reliable so I knew she would be there. I just didn't think Sully would be there."

Wyatt leaned forward and placed his elbows on the table interlacing his fingers. "Sully? Is that your fellow agent who took over your duties for you while…"

"I was getting my head shrunk by you? Yeah."

"Your cranium is the exact same proportion as it was several weeks ago Agent Booth," Wyatt commented with a chuckle. "It's your ego that appears to inflate and deflate. Case in point, this Sully replacing you for one case was quite the blow to your precious ego."

"I didn't come here for a therapy session."

"Then why are you here Agent Booth?"

"I told you I don't know."

"I disagree. You do know. Allow yourself to examine the events that led you here."

"The 'events that led me here'," he mocked. "Bones and I solved a case, we agreed to meet at the diner and when I showed up Sully's sitting there with…"

"Your Bones," Wyatt supplied. He leaned back in his chair and smiled at the agent.

"What?"

"Your Bones—the emphasis on your—indicating ownership of some sort. I recall that every time your cell phone rang it was your partner and every time, regardless of the progress we had made in our discussions, you always answered her calls."

Booth took a sip of beer and contemplated Wyatt's observation. "I don't own Bones."

"But you want to."

"No," Booth replied as he shook his head vigorously.

"There is obviously a part of your psyche Agent Booth that is extremely possessive. Possessiveness walks hand in hand with control and we both know how you feel about control."

"Nobody controls Bones." He laughed at the thought. "Sometimes I think the only way to get her to do things my way is to hit her over the head and toss her over my shoulder."

"That's a provocative image worthy of your large belt buckles," the doctor joked. "Why was this Sully character with her?"

"What?" It didn't matter how much time he spent with Wyatt, the doctor's sudden segues from one topic to another always managed to irritate him.

"Why does it bother you so much that Sully was with her? Are you afraid that your partner has found your replacement?"

"No! I just…I don't know. I was looking forward to spending time with her and then finding her boyfriend there just made me feel like a third wheel."

"Her boyfriend and Sully were both there?"

"No, Sully is her boyfriend…guy she's dating…sleeping with…"

"How do you know she's sleeping with him?"

"She told me."

Wyatt's eyebrows quirked in amusement. "Oh my."

"Yeah." Booth sighed before taking a long swig of beer.

"So, your Bones was partnered with this Sully during your brief absence and now she's dating him?"

"Why do you continue to say 'your Bones'? I have never laid claim to her."

"Au contraire my friend. You stood in front of me with your phone in your hand, tapping your finger on your little caller id screen and advised me that it was, and I quote, 'my Bones'." He smiled as he saw his words sinking in with Booth. "You laid claim to her the moment you bequeathed her with the nickname of Bones. I must admit I am surprised that someone of Dr. Brennan's status in the scientific community would allow anyone to use that cheeky nickname."

Booth sat in silence for several minutes recalling all of the times he had referred to Brennan as his forensic anthropologist or his Bones. At the beginning of their partnership she had continuously informed him not to call her Bones. The more she told him not to do it, the more inclined he was to continue. Until one day….she didn't tell him to stop. He honestly couldn't remember the last time she had uttered the phrase "don't call me Bones".

"Agent Booth?"

"Huh?"

"Are you still with me?"

"Yeah, yeah." He scratched his chin and continued to contemplate his newly discovered possessive streak.

"I must say that your relationship with Dr. Brennan is most impressive on paper. You work well with each other—opposites but very complimentary. And it's quite obvious Agent Booth that you two care a great deal about and have tremendous respect for each other. You've saved her life twice, assisted her with obtaining information about her parents and she has helped you numerous times in return."

"We're partners."

"And friends?"

"Absolutely." He smiled as he leaned back in his chair. "She dedicated her last book to me."

"So why are you so perturbed by Sully's mere presence?"

Booth hesitated since he was still uncertain as to why he had reacted the way he did at the diner. "I just don't want to see her hurt again."

"You expect Sully to hurt her in some way?"

"No, I mean…I hope he doesn't. Sully is a good guy but…"

"But what?"

"But…I don't know. Bones has been through some rough times in her life and I just don't like to see her in pain."

"Isn't there a possibility that their relationship will blossom and sustain any obstacles that come their way?"

Booth shrugged, not feeling entirely comfortable with the thought of Sully taking up permanent residence in Brennan's life. "If that's what she wants and he makes her happy…"

Wyatt smiled as he stood and picked up the beer bottles. "Spoken like a true man of honor and a true friend. Have a good evening Agent Booth."

"He accused me of having the 'hots' for her. That doesn't sound like a man of honor now does it doc?"

Wyatt's lips quirked into a smile at the turn of the conversation. "Do you have affections for her?"

"No I don't have the 'hots' for Bones."

"So you don't think she's attractive?"

"No…I mean, yeah she's attractive but she's…I don't know, she's just Bones."

"Hmmm."

"Oh no, don't sit there and 'hmmm' about that. Bones is my best friend; she's like family. That's all."

"If you say so."

"Yeah, I do say so." Booth's chair scraped the bricks on the patio as he moved his chair to stand. "Thanks for the beer," he said as he walked to the white picket fence, pulled the gate open and made his way to his SUV. He had no intention of letting Gordon Wyatt respond and suck him back into a seemingly never ending conversation.

Wyatt watched as Booth slid into the driver's seat and started the engine. He wondered how long it would be before the young man would be able to admit that his feelings for his partner went far beyond friendship. He surmised that Sully would be the precipice for the eventual realization that was already beginning to worm its way into Booth's consciousness.

"All you have to do is aim Agent Booth," he murmured as the agent drove away.

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Booth switched on a light as he entered his apartment and threw his keys on the kitchen counter. His conversation with Wyatt had left him feeling more confused than before. Yes he thought Bones was attractive and well structured; no he did not have the 'hots' for her. So what was it about seeing her with Sully that made his stomach turn?

Sully was a good man and a solid agent. He had suffered the loss of his partner and Booth knew his heart was not really with the FBI anymore. Sully's penchant for seeking the next big thing had even caught Bones' attention. She had initially been wary of Sully and his enthusiasm for different business ventures but now she seemed to find it endearing.

Booth grabbed a beer from his refrigerator and twisted the lid off. Maybe that was his problem with Sully—he was afraid that he was going to treat Bones like another business venture showing real interest at first and then quickly moving on to someone else. As he sipped his beer, Booth was convinced that he had solved the problem.

He felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders when he heard someone knocking on his door. He found Brennan standing outside holding a Styrofoam container as he opened the door.

"I'm not interrupting anything am I?" She glanced past him as though she expected someone else to be in the apartment.

"No, you're not. I just got home." He stepped to the side and ushered her inside. "Come on in."

"Thanks." Brennan walked into the living room and placed the container on the coffee table before removing her jacket. "I just came by to check on you…and bring you a piece of pie."

"Thanks."

"So are you ready to discuss what's bothering you?" She stared at him intently.

"Nothing's bothering me."

Brennan sighed and crossed her arms. "I didn't believe you at the diner and I don't believe you now."

He chuckled at her persistence—it was annoying and charming at the same time. "Okay, okay. I guess I just felt like I was intruding on your time with Sully."

Her expression softened a little as she uncrossed her arms. "Booth, I told you that Sully just happened to be there when I arrived." She paused for a moment. "He can't replace you, you know."

"What?" Booth briefly wondered if she knew about his conversation with Wyatt.

"Sully is not my partner Booth; you are. We have a system that works well for us—it can't be duplicated. In essence, what I'm saying is that if you're worried that Sully is a replacement for you in our partnership or our friendship, then don't…worry that is…because he's not. Unless of course you decide to shoot another clown."

Booth smiled and shook his head in amazement at how far she'd come since the inception of their partnership. "Okay, fair enough."

"This feels like one of those 'guy hug' moments."

"Or maybe it's a Hallmark moment."

"Okay, I do know what that one means…"

He laughed as he walked toward her and placed his beer on the coffee table next to the container. "Come 'ere," he said as he pulled her into his embrace.

Do you have affections for her? Wyatt's questions entered his mind as his grip on Brennan tightened. Silently Booth admitted to himself that he did indeed have great affection for the woman in his arms that he considered to be one of the best friends he'd ever had. He had 'friendly' affections.

"What kind of pie did you bring?" he asked as he loosened his grip slightly.

"Your favorite of course," she replied with a chuckle.

"Wanna stay and share it with me?" He let go of her and smiled.

"Yeah, I would like that."

He walked into the kitchen as Brennan sat down on the couch and opened the container. Booth moved toward her and presented her with a fork and a bottle of beer. He took a seat beside her and licked his lips at the sight of the large apples falling out of the shell of the pie before delving in with his own fork.

Brennan reached across him and sank her fork into the crisp crust. She took a bite and watched as Booth chewed his food. They both took a sip of their respective beers and smiled.

"Booth, next time let's have coffee with our pie."

He watched her take another bite of the pie and grinned. "Yeah, next time."