A/N: This type of fic has probably been done hundreds of times, but thanks to the awesome CupcakeBean I was recently able to see The Wannabe in the Weeds and The Pain in the Heart for the first time. This has been in my head ever since and my options were to write it or be tormented by it. Since I don't really enjoy torture (unless it involves Seeley Booth slowly losing his clothing), I wrote it. Spoilers for 3x14 The Wannabe in the Weeds and 3x15 The Pain in the Heart.
Disclaimer: Nope, I still don't own Bones. Title taken from Lady Antebellum's One Day You Will.
He opened his eyes and gazed across the table at her, the past few weeks visibly etched on her face. She was still clutching Zack's letter, holding onto it as if it was a life preserver and, if she let it go, she'd lose everything Zack had come to mean to her. To them. Had someone told him when he started working with the Jeffersonian that not only would one lovely Squint worm her way into his heart, but a whole pack of them would...well, Seeley Booth would have told them they were certifiable. It had happened nonetheless.
Hands quavering, she raised her coffee cup and inhaled deeply. She set it back on the table without taking so much as a sip and, though he thought she could probably use some sustenance about now, he couldn't blame her. He'd been chasing the same crumb of pie around his plate for, at least, the last ten minutes. Thoughts were crashing in his head. What could he have done to help Zack? How did they miss all the signs? How could he help her understand that this wasn't her fault and not everyone was destined to leave her? Oh, yeah, and why hadn't he picked up the damn phone and called her? He shook his head; the thoughts continued to jangle. He'd let her down in so many ways; if it were possible he'd use himself as a punching bag.
Still, he soothed himself, this wasn't entirely his fault. His mind flashed to days before when he'd discovered the reason she hadn't been informed that his death was fake. Had it been only days? Maybe it was more; maybe it was less. His concept of time had been turned completely on its head. She'd almost immediately shifted the blame from Sweets and back to him, which was confusing. Usually, they stood united against the kid. He knew he wasn't faultless though so he'd let it slide, hurrying off to the vault when called. Even as he tried to keep up with Cam he could feel the tension rolling off Bones so he'd slowed his pace a bit, treading the distance between them. She didn't think he'd heard; she didn't want him to, but he had. Her voice as she accused Sweets had been laced with anger and Booth had a feeling it wasn't just because they'd been "experimented" on. His hands clenched at his sides and he took a deep breath; she'd dealt with Sweets. No reason for him to find the young doctor and threaten him within an inch of his life if he ever so much as thought of pulling a stunt like that again.
A deep sigh from her brought him crashing back to reality and, as she stared at a spot somewhere below his chin, he wondered what was racing through her head. Suddenly, it hit him: she'd been watching the rise and fall of his chest. The realization simultaneously saddened and uplifted him. She'd missed him, mourned him (in her own way) even.
He opened his mouth to speak, but found himself at a loss. Sometime during his daydreaming she'd set Zack's slightly crumpled letter down. It rested in front of her coffee cup and he watched as she smoothed the edge, her eyes still fixed on his chest. Slowly, she reached out and brushed her hand across his. The sensation sent a shiver down his spine. She began to pull away, but, apparently thinking better of it, stopped. Instead, allowing her hand to fall on top of his. She looked up and gave him a tentative smile, her fingers dancing across the back of his hand. The tension in his stomach dissipated, replaced by overwhelming relief and something he couldn't name. Oh hell, who was he kidding? He could name it all right. He just didn't think he should. Not yet. His mouth turned up in a muted charm smile knowing, in that moment, that they would be fine. The center would hold.
He took a bite of pie and tilted his head in the direction of her coffee. "Come on, Bones, you should..." And, before he could finish his thought, she raised her mug and took a heady sip, hand never leaving his.