A/N: Crazy, the things that seem reasonable to post at 2 am. This time, a ficlet-y scene out of a life that could be.
She was working on a report when the phone rang. She glanced at the caller ID and stopped. Home. She hesitated another moment before answering. For better or worse, she should hear what he had to say.
"What is it?"
"Booth, if this is some kind of joke, I'm really not in the mood."
"Look, I'm just going to hang up. I don't have time for-"
"Temperance?" It was a whisper. Small and scared. She heard a creak in the background. How could she have possibly forgotten? It was Saturday.
"Parker? Are you okay? Is everything all right?"
"I'm okay. When are you coming home?"
She sighed and brushed hair out of her face. How do you explain something like this to an eight year old? How a case goes bad, how it carries on for months, and you both get frustrated, and somehow everything comes out in a screaming match that ends in broken furniture and you packing a bag.
"I don't know. Your dad and I... I don't know."
"I miss you."
She smiled a little. "I miss you, too. Maybe... Maybe I can talk to your mom, come and see you sometimes. We could go for ice cream." She winced at the thought of not being together again, the three of them.
"Dad misses you, too"
"I see him at work all the time, Parker, remember? I don't think he misses me that much." At least they'd proven they could work together after all that'd happened. Six weeks. She was sticking to the lab more often than not, but they were working. They'd already closed two cases. Just... not the one that mattered. She heard rustling in the background, and then:
"Parker? Who's on the phone?"
"I just wanted to talk to her," he said, too quickly.
There was more creaking, and she realised that he must have pulled a chair up to the kitchen phone, instead of using the one in the living room where he'd be noticed. There was the muffled sound of a receiver changing hands.
She paused. It'd been a long time since he'd called her that. It hurt. "Yes, it's me."
Then there was nothing. Just the sounds of breathing. They were at a stalemate. Neither one had made the call, so neither one had given in. Yet here they were, waiting. For an olive branch, or the killing blow. Several moments passed. It felt like years, though it couldn't have been more than thirty seconds.
Finally, she screwed up her eyes and took a deep breath. And when it came out, the words came with it. Softly, tinged with a longing she couldn't keep hidden despite her best efforts.
"I miss you."
She'd done it. She'd blinked. Now it was up to him. She listened to his breathing, wondering if this would be the last time.
And then, finally-
"Come home, Temperance."