Author's Note: I know it's been a while since the finale, and there are probably hundreds by now of post-ep fics floating around here at FFN and at other places BB related. However, I wanted something non-baby related to put in this thread of stories, and also...it refused to shut up. I mean it. It grabbed hold of me and refused to let go until it was written.
I'd like to thank the conversation I had with someone over at The ABY (props to one of the coolest and best groups of Bones fans around), and also a fanvid made to Beyonce's "Halo", which honestly ended up fitting Booth and Brennan pretty much perfectly. Both were big help in getting this written. Thanks a million!
The bell above the door jingled as a young couple entered the diner. Booth looked up a second before returning his gaze to the woman sitting across from him. "Can I ask you a question?" He asked as he slowly stirred a spoon around the inside of his coffee mug. It had been two weeks since he had been released from the hospital, but he was still advised to take things very easy.
Brennan shrugged and took a long sip from her cup. "I suppose it would depend on what it was, but yes."
Booth smiled and shook his head. While details as to what was real and what wasn't were still a certain shade of gray, he remembered the absolute sense of honesty she always had. He flicked a stray piece of straw wrapper over to the side of the table, and he thought of how best to ask the question. He'd been back to the lab, had gone to his office for a few things, but until the doctors and Sweets all gave him the go ahead he wasn't allowed to work. He still felt the need to see her though and to be around her, but he had to to figure out the exact reason why. "None of that stuff-you know, what I dreamed-all of that wasn't real?"
"No, your dream was not real." Brennan replied tersely. She was trying her best to be patient with him, and it wasn't exactly like he didn't have the right to ask. "I thought you were aware of that already?"
Booth sighed and shook his head. "That wasn't the question I was actually intending to ask." He pushed his coffee cup to the side and clasped his hands together. They were partners, friends even, but the thought that she wrote and he dreamt them as something far greater than what they were still remained with him. "I know you're an author. I know writing is the way you deal with things, the way you process and sometimes create entertainment. I'm just wondering why of all possible scenarios and situations to write, you chose to write what you did."
Brennan's back stiffened against her chair. She'd been expecting him to ask eventually. A man walked by and accidentally bumped into their table. He apologized just as she was telling him it was fine. As she watched him walk away, she could feel Booth's eyes staring directly at her. "That was not a question."
"Bones." Booth replied, studying her, urging her to say something. Anything. Well, if he was being honest with himself, he didn't want it to be just anything. What Booth wanted was an answer to the question that had plagued him since he'd woken up from the coma. "Talk to me, please."
There was a certain sense of vulnerability to his voice that scared her a little. She'd seen him angry, frustrated, scared, happy-just about every human emotion-and yet she couldn't define the look on his face. "I wrote what I did because...I wanted to. It was a stream of consciousness exercise. I'm sorry if in my practice of relieving stress, I offended you."
Booth reached out and covered her hand with his. He shook his head before darting his tongue out to moisten his lips. "Don't apologize, Bones. That's not how I meant it."
Brennan cocked her head to the side, trying hard to ignore the electricity that traveled up her arm as he ran his thumb across her wrist. She realized something while waiting there in the hospital for him to wake up, but she'd yet to completely process that information. It was something she simply resigned herself to believe in. After all, it wasn't like he felt the same, especially after waking up thinking what he had dreamed was real. "Then how did you mean it?"
Her voice trembled, and Booth nodded his head. He knew the conversation was starting to get uncomfortable for her, but it was something he needed to say. "You wrote us, Bones. You and me. That doesn't surprise me, but what does is how you chose to do it. Married. Pregnant. Two things that until recently, you didn't even express an interest in."
Brennan held up a finger, signaling him to wait just a second, before taking a healthy sip from her mug. She set it back down carefully before turning her face back to him. "Speaking of that, due to recent events, I've decided to reevaluate my position on becoming a mother."
"What?" Booth asked, his mouth hanging open. It wasn't what he was expecting her to say. "What made you change your mind?"
She shrugged carelessly, as if her sudden change of mind wasn't that big of a deal at all. "To put it simply, what you said before I took you to the hospital. I realize what my parents did to me when I was a child directly effected the person I am today. Because they weren't there, I didn't have some of the same opportunities the kids who had parents did. While I would cut back hours at the lab to ensure I would always be there for my child, he or she would still be growing up without a father."
"Not with me, Bones." Booth insisted. His voice came out a bit louder than he had intended, which caused nearby diners to turns their heads. Nodding and smiling weakly, Booth couldn't help but wish there was an easier way to say it. "You've said it yourself, that I'm a great father to Parker. Why would our kid be any different?"
"Because-" Brennan began, but she paused when she realized she didn't have a complete argument against what he was saying. She had seen him with Parker countless times and had witnessed the things he went through to make sure his son had a great life, even if it meant not staying with him as much as would be preferable. Her mug sat firmly between her hands, and her fingertips touched, but she refused to look at him. Making up an answer would be pointless because even if she did Booth would surely see through it, but telling him he was right wasn't an option either. Making a split second decision, Brennan downed the rest of her coffee before smiling at him. "Thanks for the coffee, Booth, but now I have to go."
"Bones, wait." Booth cried, but it was pointless because she was already halfway out the door. Without finishing his coffee, he placed the money for their order on the table and signaled for their waitress who simply nodded, and he quickly bolted out the door. She couldn't have gone far, he thought, even if she was stubborn enough to go home by herself. He caught sight of her half a block up, and he ran to catch her. "Will you please just talk to me here, Bones? Come on-" Booth reached for her arm, but she ripped herself from his grasp. When she whirled around the face him, the pain in her eyes was enough for him to take a step back.
"You want me to talk? You want me to just...to just tell you what it is you want to hear? I can't do that, Booth. We're partners, you're the one who drew the line, but I'm the one who crossed it by asking you to be the father of my child. I know I'm stepping back by telling you I don't want that anymore, but that's the way it has to be." Brennan spoke as tears threatened to fall from her eyes. She shook her head and tried hard to fight them back, but she knew it was of no use. "I'm sorry."
"Sorry?" Booth asked as he reached out to touch her. When he did, she pulled away, which made him feel even worse about the situation they were suddenly in. "You don't have anything to be sorry for. Look, I'm sorry if it seemed like I was pushing for something in there, because I wasn't."
Brennan shook her head in refusal. "No, maybe you weren't, but that was only because you couldn't bring yourself to admit the facts."
Booth frowned and scratched his head, and found himself wishing they could be having this conversation someplace much more private than a street corner. "Which are?"
"That you wanted the dream to be real." Brennan cried. She turned away from him and faced the street, because even if it was cowardly she didn't think she would want to see his face when she finished saying what she had to say next. "I can't be a wife. I can't fit into the standard role of the woman you're looking for, the one society has convinced you that you should have. Just because you dreamed it doesn't mean it could ever become possible, and I'm sorry if by my writing something remarkably similar I mislead you into thinking it was what I wanted."
He watched as the woman he cared so much for crumbled right before his eyes, but for once Booth wasn't sure what to do. A car passed by and shined its headlights in his eyes, and while he tried his best to shield them, there was still a moment afterward where all he could see was a bright white. Sighing, he again reached out to touch her, putting a hand on either shoulder and turning her in his direction. "Has it occurred to you that I haven't asked you to be my wife or anything other than the person you are? Bones, you're an incredible woman right now, and I wouldn't change anything if it meant making you different."
The feelings Brennan had come to identify came flooding to the surface, but she tried hard to harness them in. While she had yet to tell anyone, she was almost certain some of them knew, and letting the object of her affection in on the secret would not make the situation any easier. "Booth," Brennan whispered. "I-" She paused and cleared her throat, finding that the words were holing up within her and refusing to completely break free. "Do you have any idea what that moment was like for me? When you first woke up and asked me who I was? I know you were simply confused, but for that moment it was as if all the memories we had ever made suddenly became nothing. I know that sounds illogical, but we've spent the last four years building up a partnership that can't be replaced by anyone else, and I should know because the F.B.I. has tried." Brennan laughed a little, but she stopped as his thumb wiped a tear away from her cheek. "For that moment, I didn't know which was worse; believing that you were dead because you took a bullet for me, or having the man I'd come to count on right there in front of me and yet knowing all the while you had no clue who I was."
"But I do, Bones. I know who you are." Booth replied, a hand framing either side of her face, and for a second the thought crossed his mind of what it would feel like to kiss her.
"I know that, but for that moment, feeling like you didn't-" Brennan jerked herself free from his grasp and furiously wiped at her cheeks, trying desperately to hold onto the one secret she had left. If it were laid out in the open, there was no telling how he would react, and she couldn't bear the thought of him rejecting her in any manner. "I was scared."
It all began to fall into place, like pieces of a puzzle. Booth stared at the profile of the woman standing next to him, and a string of memories played through his head. Real ones, not ones from his dream. She might have hid behind her wall of logic and science as a guard for years, but it was all to keep from being hurt. "Love doesn't play by logic's rules, Bones."
"I never said anything about love." Brennan replied, a tinge of defiance in her voice. Sometimes, she hated that he knew her so well. When she saw the look in his eyes, the one that was simply pleading that she just tell the truth this time, Brennan could feel her defenses start to slip. "We're partners, Booth."
Booth nodded. "Yeah, we are." He replied. He reached out and wiped another tear away, letting his thumb trace it all the way down before resting against the smooth edge of her lip. Feeling her tense before relaxing underneath his touch made Booth feel something he wasn't entirely sure he was ready for.
"We're partners." Brennan repeated, more for herself than for him. "Professionals. Technically speaking, we shouldn't even be having this conversation."
Again with the logic. "You know, normally I'd be up for one of your speeches about how we need to maintain a professional level of attitude about everything, but not now. Not after everything that's happened, please don't go that route."
Brennan watched as Booth was pleading with her, and she found herself wanting so badly to believe him. But the professional side, the one that had yet to completely admit that she loved him, refused to simply lay down and wait. "It would ruin our partnership, and I can't...I won't risk that. We have the best closing rate in our entire division, and if we became personally involved, they would split us up. I've already told them I won't work with anyone else but you, so it would be detrimental to any possible future victims."
Booth tried to fight it back because he knew how she would take it, but he finally succumbed to the pressure and tilted is head back and laughed. "Bones-" Booth began before shaking his head. "Do you have any idea how amazing you are? You are the most insane, frustratingly stubborn person I have ever met."
Brennan furrowed her brow. She stared at Booth as if he had lost his mind."I'm uncertain as to why those qualities make me amazing."
"It's not those, it's the fact that even in the midst of a personal situation, you're still thinking of others. The fact that you've actually thought about this, maybe more than I have. But you've got it all wrong, Bones." Booth replied and shook his head. His breath was a whisper against her lips. "You think the thought of them splitting us up doesn't scare the hell out of me? You think I haven't thought about the way they could react upon finding us out? Bones, the truth is, that woman you were in the book or the dream or whatever it was? She's amazing, but she's nothing compared to the real you. The one standing right here."
She was trying hard to focus on his words and not his touch, but both were proving to be a fiery combination. Her bottom lip trembled as he spoke. "You've thought about us?"
There was a vulnerability in everything about her in that moment; her voice, her posture, and those eyes...those eyes that he would never get tired of staring into. Every day for the majority of the past four years. He thought that, but he was fully aware of the fact that if he actually told her that it probably wouldn't have the effect he wanted it to. "Yes, I have."
Three little words of confirmation. Words that used in any other sentence or any other situation would probably not hold as much weight as they did in that moment. Brennan chided herself, because of course words did not physically have weight, but to her it felt as if they might. "I can't do this."
"Can't or won't?" Booth asked, and as soon as he did he realized he'd caught her off guard.
Brennan opened her mouth to refuse. Any excuse in that moment would have been helpful, but she'd used them all before. "We're just partners, Booth. Friends, yes, but-"
"Do you honestly want to try that line on me? We might be able to put other people off with that excuse, but it's not gonna work with me." Booth shook his head and took a step closer to her, but he was careful enough to give her the space she still needed. "You wrote us that way for a reason, Temperance. Don't lie to me."
"Please, don't do this." Brennan pleaded. Her gaze was fixed on the tiny cracks in the sidewalk, and she watched as they slowly bled and merged into one gigantic crack; it was much like the one slowly forming in her line of defense. There was no use left in fighting. Rather than doing so, Brennan looked him square in the eye. Honesty always was the best policy. "I'm scared."
Booth nodded in the warmth of the street lamp, and he caught the ghost of a smile on her face. "Don't be. You trust me, don't you?"
"Of course." Brennan replied immediately, because there really was no need to think about it. There was a trust between them that refused to be broken. "But you don't want me, you want someone that is a least a fraction closer to the woman you dreamt about. Someone who lets you have your way some of the time, and who supports your views on children and marriage. What if what I have to offer you isn't enough? What if we do decide to pursue this particular path of our relationship, and you decide somewhere down the line that you got it all wrong?"
"Bones," Booth began slowly, not because he was losing his patience but because he wanted her to hear him word for word. "Let me decide what I want. I'm perfectly capable, believe me. As far as what happens in a couple of weeks or a couple of months, well I don't exactly know, but you as a scientist have to know that we'll never figure it out unless we try."
Even though she didn't voice her strongest fear, the fact that she was afraid of losing him as her closest friend, Brennan was pretty sure he knew, because seconds later she was wrapped tightly in his embrace. The smell of his cologne and the tattoo of his heartbeat were two small comforts she could do nothing but relish in. They stood like that for a long time wrapped in each others arms, with cars passing by and the occasional person walking past. "It should be considered physically impossible to miss someone when they were still with you."
He was a bit saddened by the breaking of silence as she spoke, but smiled against the crown of her head when Brennan didn't pull away. "You tryin' to say you've missed me, Bones?"
Brennan shrugged and found herself smiling into his shirt. "Possibly."
Booth ran a hand down her back and squeezed her tight, wanting so badly to freeze that moment and stay in it, but he also knew the chances of how much longer it could last. "Come on, let me take you home."
Rather than fighting him, Brennan nodded and pulled back. "Booth?"
"Yeah?" Booth replied. Try as he might, he couldn't decipher the look he saw reflecting back at him.
"Thank you." Brennan replied, the corner of her lips turned up, and for the first time in days she felt herself literally beaming. Well, smiling at least, but when they started walking back in the direction of the SUV, she felt lighter than she had in a long time.
Booth started to guide her back to their vehicle, and as a habit poised his hand at the small of her back, but at the last second changed his mind. On impulse, Booth grabbed her hand and threaded his fingers through hers. Brennan didn't pull back. "Anytime, Bones."