Title: Reason Enough
Word Count: About 1000
Spoilers: Little tag story for "Hero in the Hold."
Summary: "He stays at the gravesite with the blonde woman, grieving with her their mutual loss, and she stands back, observing him, grateful that she still has the opportunity to do so."
Disclaimer: BONES is owned by Hart Hanson and his people at Fox, not by me. I'm just borrowing.
Author's note: Something still feels off about this one, but I've mulled over it for an extended period of time and can't figure out what it is, so that leads me to believe that I'm being overly cautious and giving in to my tendency to over think things.
He stays at the gravesite with the blonde woman, grieving with her their mutual loss, and she stands back, observing him, grateful that she still has the opportunity to do so.
She tries not to think about what could have been, that it could have been him in the ground and her standing beside his grave because, even though she doesn't understand the point of talking to someone who is dead and can no longer hear you, she knows he would have wanted that of her.
She remembers the last time she was at this cemetery with him, only she wasn't really with him because he was dead and she was struggling to keep herself from falling apart. She still hates him a little bit for it, though she's not sure if "it" refers to not telling her he was alive, or for dying in the first place. She hates herself for letting him matter so much that her happiness is dependent upon him staying alive. (It's not too much to ask, she doesn't think, but he seems intent on getting blown up, shot, or otherwise injured and she really wishes he would stop that.)
Her mind has gone over the possibilities a thousand times in the twenty hours since they pulled away from the ship only to watch it blow up in front of their eyes, knowing that if the timing had been any different, if Jared had taken longer to get her Vega's body, if it had taken her an extra ten seconds to realize that Taffett had broken ribs, if Angela or Hodgins or Sweets had taken a little more time in any of their calculations, Booth would be dead and she would be on the bottom of the ocean somewhere, gathering his remains. It was so close, too close, and she doesn't quite know how to process it.
So she buys him a belt buckle when she realizes that his is missing, and she springs him from the hospital a day early because he asks her to, and she accompanies him here, the final resting place for someone he loved, and she doesn't give him too much trouble when he starts babbling about ghosts. She looks at him, walking back towards her now, and she wishes for a moment that she believed in ghosts so that she would have someone to thank.
He takes two more long strides and reaches her, a hand on her elbow turning her to walk back towards the car. The tangible reminder that he is here makes her smile and she suppresses the urge to take his hand like she had on the ice rink. She feels just as wobbly on her feet now a she had then and she wants to hold on to him, to steady herself, keep from tumbling to the ground in a quivering mass of could haves and might haves and what ifs.
But, she rationalizes, she does not have a reason to perform such an action beyond her own irrational need to confirm his presence, even though she can clearly see him beside her. While they were skating, it was practical for her to lean on him to keep her balance. She ignores the fact that she leaned on him long after she'd gotten used to the ice and no longer needed him to keep her from falling. Now, she is on solid ground and there is no logical reason why she should reach over and touch him.
They walk in comfortable silence and she can feel the warmth radiating from the hand that hovers over the small of her back. Maybe he needs to feel her presence as much as she needs to feel his.
"What did you tell her, Booth?" she asks, stopping for a moment to look at him. The conversation she had observed had been intimate, but he had looked at her and waved and she wonders why, wonders what kind of conversation could lead him to think of her.
"That Teddy loved her." He glances back and she follows his gaze. Claire still stands beside the grave marker, flowers clutched in her hand.
"But certainly that was unnecessary. If she is still here, years after his death, it is logical to presume that she must know that already." She turns her face back to him, surprised to find his eyes boring into hers.
"Maybe, but he never told her."
He shifts his weight, looks at the ground, and she notes his unease. "Telling someone you love them, Bones, is complicated." He pauses and looks right at her and she would swear that, at that moment, he steals her breath away, if she didn't know, empirically, that such a thing is scientifically impossible.
"It's hard and sometimes, no matter how much you feel it and want to tell them, you don't say anything." Another pause, and his voice is quiet now, fearful. "There's too much to lose."
She doesn't say anything for a moment, thinking. When she speaks, her words are weighted with a significance that they both understand.
After a beat, in which she knows she should kiss him but doesn't, they turn and walk back towards the car, and this time she doesn't suppress her urge to thread her fingers through his. He is alive and he knows and she knows and that is reason enough.