A/N: Aheeeeem. Haaaappy BIRRRRTHDAY dear BEEEELLLAAA...

Okay, fine. Enough singing. Will simply get to the last part of Bella's angstastic gift. Hope you liked, C.

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It was late. So late. The normally-bustling streets of D.C. were mostly quiet now, save the occasional early-morning traveler and a few homeless people who shuffled to wherever they were going next in this world. Rarely had this place seemed so eerie.

The sleepy voice that answered the phone quickly became more alert at his voice, but it took a moment to hear the buzz that signified the allowance of his entry into the building. He took the stairs and ascended slowly, finding the door unlocked and open for him once he got there.

"We have to stop meeting like this," she told him, tiredly, wrapping her robe tighter around her body as she curled her legs underneath her on the couch.

"Sorry," he told her softly. He took a seat on the opposite end of the couch, rubbing his eyes before meeting hers. "And I'm sorry for today, at the diner. That must have been pretty horrible for you."

She didn't deny it. "And for you," she replied simply.

"Yes," he agreed.

"Where's Jen?"

"Back at the hotel room."

"And why aren't you there with her?"

"Because I couldn't be."

Brennan let the moment hang in questioning silence, which he knew he had to respond to eventually.

"I told her everything, Bones."

He had maybe expected a reaction…of anger or outrage, or relief, or something, but she didn't show one on her face. "I see," she said quietly. "And…she kicked you out."

"No."

"Oh?"

"She asked me to stay."

Brennan's eyes widened slightly, then returned to normal…what passed for normal these days. "Wow." She looked as if she were struggling for words. "That's…amazing."

Booth nodded tiredly. "She is amazing. And also very afraid of losing me. Apparently, has been for awhile."

"Oh," she replied, looking lost.

He scrubbed his hand through his hair. "She said…if it were what you wanted…that she and I could take the baby. And raise it as ours."

That numb look was quickly falling back over his partner's beautiful face, and he knew he had to finish this story before she shut down completely.

"I told her I couldn't."

"You couldn't," she echoed.

"I couldn't. None of it. I couldn't raise the child I created with you with her. I couldn't let her take responsibility for saving our marriage when it's impossible. I couldn't set her up for failure like that. Or myself."

She was taking in his words, thoughtfully, but still, she offered him nothing.

"Temperance." He took her hand across the couch, and she looked down to where their bodies touched, surprised. "You know…to me, marriage has always been about love. Above all else, it's about love. And when I heard my wife begging for me to let her fix this…her, as if it were her fault …I knew. I knew that the loving thing was to let her go. Let her find someone who can give her everything, like she deserves. Not let her remain in a marriage in which her husband's heart is elsewhere."

"Booth…" But he was on a roll.

"And the loving thing to do for you is to be in your life…and our child's…in any way you'll allow me to be." He took her other hand, looked at her desperately.

"Booth…"

"I know this isn't a happily-ever-after situation, Bones. But…it's the right thing. I know that it's the right thing."

Her eyes were shining with unfallen tears. "How can you know that?"

He couldn't quite explain that himself. "I'm not sure. I just know."

She paused for a second, so many emotions running over her face at one time. "But. How can I know?"

Looking at her questioningly, his heart fell a little. He should have known this wouldn't be easy. He hadn't even realized he hoped this would change everything, until right now.

"How would I ever know that the reason you are with me is because you want to be? And not because of your guilt over all of this, and your sense of responsibility to this child."

He started to speak. Stopped. Opened his mouth again. Closed it. Sighed. "You would…you'd just have to trust me, I suppose. Even though I've been the most untrustworthy son of a bitch in the universe. To most everyone I care about."

No words were spoken for a long time. He should have known. Just because he had an epiphany didn't mean that she would share it.

"Let me ask you something, Booth," she said quietly. "What if I were to tell you that I couldn't be with you? That no matter how badly I wanted to, I just couldn't under these circumstances?"

He thought for a moment. "I would be by myself for awhile. Think. Try to understand how we got to this place. Hope that someday, we'd all recover from it."

"And what if I told you that even though I decided to give birth to this child, that I didn't intend to raise her? That I decided to let someone who has wanted to be a parent adopt her?"

Again, a pause. "I'd raise her. On my own."

"And what would you tell her about her mother?" she challenged. One of those repressed tears fell down her cheek.

This time, he didn't pause. "I'd tell her that her mother was an extraordinary person who wasn't ready for us yet."

Her eyes squeezed shut, more tears escaped, as she nodded.

"I feel like I don't know anything, Booth. I have three Ph.D.'s. And I know nothing."

Taking her gently into his arms, he pressed his own tear-streaked face against her forehead. "You know, Temperance…what I really realized tonight? That I don't really believe in taking the wrong path. The only wrong paths are ones where we don't learn from the journey."

Her eyes cast upwards at him. "I think…I've learned…how wonderful and painful love can really be." There was no judgment in her voice. Only simple understanding.

He nodded. "And I've learned…that somewhere along whatever way we go…we always get what we deserve."

Her face reflected her acceptance and agreement, as she leaned down onto his shoulder and rested there.

He still wasn't entirely sure what path they would end up taking. But at this moment, he closed his eyes and believed desperately that the conclusion they would both come to, is they would take it together.

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A/N: The End.

OR IS IT??

Exciting news...again! My super-awesome co-writer/bff KinseyJo is writing a continuation to this story! I KNOW! Just when you were about to breathe a big sigh of relief for it being OVER.

This ending, if you haven't noticed, is a sort of choose-your own adventure deal. You can choose to believe that from here on is happily-ever-after. If you read KJ's continuation, you are not allowed to hate her for whatever adventure she chooses. But you can also rest assured that she is an even bigger fluff-bunny than I, at heart:) She will make things right.

Her story shall be called Just a Cup of Coffee. You should prob. alert her so you know when it's coming. This story was my baby; I shall place it gently into her capable hands.

Thank you all for sticking this one out with me. Much love to you all. Esp. Bella, Kinsey, and Mia, who inspired me throughout this adventure.