Sully had asked her to run away with him. To cruise the Caribbean with him. For a year. With him.

Cruise the Caribbean for a year? No work, no troubles, no woes? That idea…it was wild. It was irrational. It was wonderful. She couldn't do it.

But why? she wondered. It sounds like an amazing adventure. It wouldn't hurt to take a vacation that doesn't involve mass graves. But vacations didn't last a year, and perhaps that was the problem: she couldn't just pack up and go, and leave the world to chaos and murderers. Nor could she leave thousands of unidentified deceased to lay in limbo while she lived in paradise. That's it, then. I can't go, she decided firmly.

But something continued to prod the back of her mind. She blamed Booth entirely; all his "gut" talk must have finally begun to seep in to her subconscious. The next time she saw him, she was going to chastise him for teaching her bad habits.

It was time to examine the situation more – to think about it logically. (No more of that "gut" nonsense.) Okay, what exactly is bothering me? she thought. That was obvious: she was going to say "no" to Sully, and she was going to do it partly because of her work, and partly because of her unknown reason; it was the unknown reason that was bothering her. Pleased with her steady progress, Brennan continued, idly fiddling with a pen, There are two distinct parts to the proposition: one is the year-long sabbatical, and the other being with Sully, alone, for a year. Which one appeals to me, and which one is making me nervous? This was less obvious.

In these situations, Booth would tell her to "turn her brain off" and "think with her heart" or some such blarney. Brennan couldn't do this. She had to remain rational. The sabbatical part doesn't bother me as much as I thought it would. Even though I'd be leaving my work, my work would, after all, still be here when I returned. If she left specifically with Sully, though, would there be something missing? Brennan's mind flicked through the possibilities. Her apartment, the Jeffersonian, her friends, her colleagues, her belongings…no, nothing would be missing. Many things would be changed, sure, but change was inevitable. Change was necessary. She would have to adapt to change whether or not she was there to witness it firsthand.

Nothing made sense. It was clear that the first part was not the predominant reason for her refusal, and yet, she could find no reason to be opposed to living with Sully, isolated together for a year. Brennan was not one to condone perfection outside of its mathematical properties, but Sully was as close to perfect as any boyfriend she'd ever had. They got along and the sex was fantastic.

To avoid dismissing the possible problem, Brennan tried to remember everything she and Sully had done over the past two months. The conversations, the sex, the togetherness… Nothing seems wrong, she thought. We've had a great time…except…

The triple-murder case, where the murderers had mimicked her latest book. The memory still made her shiver with a mix of fury and disgust. But beyond that…her words to Sully haunted her, as well as his to her…

"You don't know me as well as you think. We're just having a fling, so don't get carried away."

Sully leaned in, closed his hand over hers. "When you can't stop thinking about someone when they're not around, that's not a fling. When you remember their touch like they were still right next to you, that's not a fling. If you need to be alone with this, fine. But we both know what we have."

"When you can't stop thinking about someone when they're not around, that's not a fling…" Brennan murmured aloud, staring at the blank monitor. The words felt wrong in her mouth.

"What's that, Bones?"

Brennan looked up. "Oh! I didn't see you there, Booth." Usually he just barged in. Why is he standing in the doorway? she thought, somewhat annoyed. Had he been spying on her? She immediately bit the inside of her mouth for the thought. Spying on me doing…what, exactly? Staring at my monitor? Not exactly a crime…

Booth crossed his arms over his chest, looking quizzical and concerned all at once. "Obviously," he said. "What's the matter? You've been staring into space for the last five minutes." Before she could respond, he straightened, and swallowed awkwardly. "Is it about…" He stepped into the room. "…Sully's…request?"

She gave Booth a level stare. "Yes…" she said.

"Y'know, Bones, if you decide to go, nobody's going to hold it against you." He approached her desk, and tapped the glass with his knuckles. Brennan briefly entertained the thought of getting some small object to display on her desk, for the sole purpose of giving him something to mess with when he came into her office. "I mean…" he continued, "you'll be missed – you'll definitely be missed – but…" His words made Brennan smile. She looked down; her hair bobbed forward around her cheeks, almost hiding the smile.

"There's that smile," Booth said teasingly, prodding the air with his index fingers in a would-be poking gesture. If they were in a different physical context, such as sitting side-by-side, Booth would be nudging her with his shoulder, flashing the same charming smile…

Sully's words echoed in her mind again. "When you remember their touch like they were still next to you…"

"Hey, have you had dinner yet? I realize you probably have plans with Sully – since I did kind of interrupt your vacation…" Booth's voice trailed off, and he looked rather shamefaced.

Suddenly, it was all too clear. Brennan blinked with the intensity of the simple truth. It was a strange realization – one not made with words, but with…her "gut"? (Preposterous, she thought.)

"Bones…?"

Brennan's thoughts were swarming. Sully implied that he can't stop thinking about me when I'm not present, but I don't reciprocate. I'm perfectly fine and content when he isn't present.

Booth waved his hand in her face. "Hel-loo? Bones?"

Sully implied that he remembers my touch as though I'm present, even if I'm not…But I don't remember his touch. I don't think about him all the time.

"Bones? Anybody home?" Booth snapped his fingers.

I don't care for Sully on the same level that he cares for me. To reinforce that belief for him would be dishonest and cruel. I can't go with Sully because I can't see myself with him for a year. It's just not the right thing. Booth's snapping fingers and worried, melodramatic pestering distracted Brennan from her thoughts. She frowned and leaned away from the madly-gesturing hand that invaded her personal space. "What?"

"Geez, Bones. You really freaked me out for a minute there," Booth complained. He quirked an eyebrow and tilted his head. "What were you thinking so intensely about? A balmy beach, coconut drinks with umbrella straws…gorgeous plasma screens of pure heaven?"

A small laugh slipped past her guarded tongue. "No. Those are your fantasies, Booth."

"Ahhh, I see. Then what does Doctor Temperance Brennan fantasize about?" he asked, leaning in to rest his elbows on her desk. His face was inches from hers. The intrusion was neither welcome nor unwelcome – Brennan tended to find that Booth's intrusions of her personal space simply were. A lazy smile was on his face.

Brennan exhaled deeply. She tilted her head. What did she fantasize about?

She fantasized about her world. The life she currently led. It wasn't perfect. Nothing was, outside of perfection's mathematical context. Bur it was good, and it was hers. And though it was mean to think or say, Sully wasn't worth giving it up for. Maybe no one was.

Maybe the right person wouldn't make her give it up.

Brennan smiled. She looked at Booth, met his quizzical eyes, and smiled.


Author's Note: I hope you enjoyed this. :) I apologize for any errors - I must be insane to be putting this up at a late hour. This thing's probably riddled with errors. Anyway, reviews welcomed, good and bad. Thanks for reading. Should there be a sequel or should this remain a one-shot? Let me know. :) -wolfbones