Cullen's Bullpen Challenge for August – by Riviera41797

"Only for a week? Don't you usually go on vacation for like…months?" Seeley Booth wondered aloud as he trailed after his partner, who was briskly striding out of the area as she rummaged through her bag for a rogue set of keys. He flipped his poker chip around and around in his fingers, enjoying teasing her.

It was 7:00pm on Friday night. Very early for her to be leaving the lab, he thought to himself. Typically, regardless of what day it was, Brennan always worked late on one thing or another. This was a surprising change from the norm.

Most of the other employees had gone home, other than the security guards patrolling the perimeter. Booth had a feeling she'd still be here, he knew she was going on vacation as she advised him earlier in the week, however she wouldn't tell him where, which he didn't understand at all. Why all the cloak and dagger? He was not about to let her go until he knew exactly where she was going to.

Just in case, he reassured himself. It wasn't like her to not tell him everything.

Not that he couldn't find out for himself by pulling a few FBI strings, but he didn't want to do that unless he had to, he wanted her to tell him on her own.

Brennan didn't look up as she answered his question, still seeking those keys in her voluminous bag. "Yes. A week Booth. I am leaving for my vacation effective right now". She said in a distracted tone as she continued to walk and dig.

With relish she whisked out the keys she'd been digging for, and clutched them tightly in her fist, stopped to turn to face him and said "Is there a problem here Booth, case related that will prevent me from going on said vacation?"

Startled at her abrupt turn, Booth nearly ran right into her. He unconsciously adjusted his tie, cleared his throat, and replied "No, no problem Bones, I was just…you know…wondering what your plans were" he shrugged, sending a silent signal of nonchalance. Pulling out the big guns, he "Charm Smiled" her. Hoping it would do the trick.

She narrowed her eyes at him, and arched one eyebrow "None of your business Booth" and turned on her heel and resumed her brisk walk towards the parking area.

He stood there watching her walk away, totally frustrated, but unwilling to give up.

3 hours later

Temperance Brennan took her bag from the Taxi driver who dropped her off at the airport, gave the short Mexican man a generous tip, and proceeded through the glass automatic doors.

People bustled about, hurrying here or there, kids crying, spouses excited for their journey, others lugging heavy suitcases along. In a distance she could hear someone arguing with the ticket counter person about seating arrangements.

Realizing she'd stopped as she observed her surroundings, Temperance exhaled her pent up breath and head towards the concourse that would lead to her gate. Not even Angela knew where she was going, or why. This was something she felt she had to do, for own peace of mind. She needed to be reassured that the right decision was made months ago. . Usually she didn't second guess her decisions, but on a personal level, this was different. Not a familiar territory for her. Her track record with relationships wasn't something she was proud of.

Without warning, her bag was lifted from her grasp; she turned to confront whoever had the nerve to do this, and was met with her smiling partner. Booth fell in step beside her. Surprised, she stopped in the middle of the entrance to the concourse area, and gaped at him. He wasn't supposed to be here!

"Booth? What are you doing here?" she said shocked, a frown creasing her brow, then a thought dawned on her and she wondered aloud "Wait….we don't have a case do we?"

"No no no Bones, nothing like that. I thought I'd keep you company while you waited for your plane" he said, placing his hand in the small of her back, in an attempt to guide her down the concourse.

Temperance however refused to budge, and instead crossed her arms and addressed him. "Booth. I don't need company" she sidestepped his attempt at guiding her and stood, rooted to the spot. Several people walked around them, openly curious at the situation. A woman with a stroller with a crying infant nearly ran into Booth and shot him an angry glance as she passed him.

His smile faltered a bit. "Aw come on Bones, you know, I'm gonna miss you", he slid one hand into his pocket, as the other held her bag.

She said nothing and held his gaze. After a stare down, he sighed and said in a low voice, shifting his eyes away guiltily "Okay. I just want to know where you're going….just in case"

Exasperated, she leaned across and snatched up her bag from him and continued on, without a backward glance towards her gate.

Pausing a moment, he slowly followed her down the corridor; he tossed up his lucky poker chip and caught it. Not ready to give up, he tailed her at a distance, hoping she thought he'd left. After a few minutes, he saw her sit down in a crowded waiting area.

He sat down in the seat behind her and leaned back and whispered in her ear "Hi"

She turned and saw him. Rolling her eyes, she turned to him and glared.

Before either of them could say anything to each other, the announcement was made for her flight

"Flight 922 direct to Jamaica now boarding…Flight 922 direct to Jamaica now boarding"

They both rose simultaneously. Blue eyes met dark brown ones across the rows of seats.

Temperance glanced down at her bag, and then back up at him again. A knowing look on her face, as her eyes met his once again.

His heart felt like it had stopped. A sad expression flickered across her features.

"That's my flight" she said, her eyes skipping over to the flight attendant greeting people, then back to her partner, who seemed frozen in place. People were lining up to board.

He watched her turn to go and get in line, and silently came to her side. Neither of them spoke for several minutes as the line moved steadily forward.

Finally, as she was nearly ready to board, she turned to face him and tried to smile.

"So….." she began, turning slightly

"So…." He echoed, looking down at her bag and back up to her beautiful blue eyes

"I guess I'll see you uh….next week then, right Bones?" he asked, unconsciously looking for reassurance

"Yeah…next week" she repeated, and then with a few steps she was gone.

He stood there for a while, watching the plane taxi down the runway and take flight, wondering why he felt so unhappy, unwilling to admit to himself it was because of where his partner was headed.

1 week later

Struggling with her bag, Temperance made her way to the exit of the airport, tired and glad to be home. She was looking forward to getting back to her normal routine.

It had been a long week, but she was satisfied that she made the right decision. She went to the Caribbean to make sure she had made the right choice. Now she knew she did. Now she knew her heart belonged to someone else. Even if she never got to cross that line, and tell that person. At least she knew.

As Temperance neared the exit, she raised her eyes, and was surprised to see him standing there, hands in his pockets, obviously waiting for her. Her heart skipped a beat, and felt her face light up and smile spread across her face.

Booth returned her smile, looking just as happy as she felt.

"Hi Bones" he greeted, placing his hand in the small of her back, guiding her to his SUV.

"Need a ride?" He offered casually, as if they had met here accidentally. He took her bag.

"Sure….you hungry?" she asked, approaching the large dark vehicle

"Already got it covered Bones" he assured her, and went around the side and got in.

Temperance settled in beside him and they both sat there a moment, waiting for the other to say something. After a moment, she broke the silence. Glancing at her partner who had been watching her closely, she said lightly

"Booth…I missed you"

"Yeah….I knew you would" he said and pulled away, his face alight with happiness.

The end!