A/N I know that I am not alone with the sentiment that Dwarf in the Dirt has left me feeling...overflowing. Something had to come out, and this is it. Please note that I agree with the opinion that Booth fell in love with Brennan during his coma dream. I'm not saying that love didn't exist before, but he was certainly not aware of it. I've always held with the idea that it was Brennan that was struggling daily with her feelings - and now we know! For those that are all upset about the show inferring that Booth has just fallen in love with Brennan...I give you this. Enjoy!
SPOILER WARNING: End in the Beginning through Dwarf in the Dirt
He doesn't know that he's broken her heart.
And how could he? As far as he knows, it's never been his to break. The private oath that he had made to her – to be the one person that would never let her down – has already been breached. The silent promise he made, already broken. If he knew, it would devastate him.
But he doesn't know.
The things that she keeps secret are many, but she wrongly believes that he somehow sees them all anyway. Over the years they have been together, she has come to realize that he knows her like no one else has ever known her. She knows that when he looks at her, he is seeing more than what she carefully reveals.
Despite how closely she plays it to the vest, she thinks that he must know that falling in love with him has never been the hard part. It happened so much easier that she ever imagined that it could. Before she met Seeley Booth, she had been absolutely certain that her erected defenses were impenetrable, and that there would be obvious signs of attack should a serious emotional connection attempt to breach them. How could she know that he would sneak into her heart like a thief, stealing that which she was so terrified of ever giving away?
No…loving him was easy. Relinquishing to it was the hard part.
For years, she's listened to his patient lessons on the subject. He's taught her that love is infinite, that it is a real and tangible experience…that not all who love will leave. In her mind, he was trying to help her on her journey of acceptance, and she wanted to believe that he was waiting for her. She's always been so afraid…
It took a brain tumor, a coma, and four days by his side to finally come to a conclusion. There was no guarantee that loving him would never cause her pain – no amount of time that could pass that was going to make the sacrifice any easier. She had sat there by his bedside, writing about a life that she had never even dreamed of before. It was a life full of everything that he promised her it could be, if she would just let it.
And so, she carefully removed her hand from the heart that she had given him so long ago. She broke the connection and allowed him to have it fully unto himself. It hadn't stuttered and died, nor had it slowed and failed to perform its job. It had roared to life with a fierce intensity that had her wondering what she had ever been so afraid of.
If he would just wake up, she was going to tell him.
When he finally opened his eyes, his confusion delayed her momentarily. He wasn't certain where he was or who people were. She could recall in sharp detail the first time that he had looked at her and called her Bren and she had seen on his face something that she would never forget – a look that she had never seen before. It didn't take long for her to realize that it was love. She was seeing uninhibited love in his expression for the first time.
The unbearable thing was that it would crumble into a mask of bitter disappointment every time that he realized who she really was…and wasn't.
All of this time she had thought…
And so she left for Guatemala and the respite of work. How could she stay there and bear the fact that she was the constant reminder of what he didn't have? She was the master of her emotions and she came home with them tucked neatly away where they wouldn't have to be dealt with. It helped that Booth seemed much better when she got home, despite the random personality quirks that were missing. They were, if nothing else, great friends.
But then he had taken her for a walk, told her that he had something to say – that there was something in his heart. She had felt hope surge up from the ashes where it had been lying in wait as a smoldering ember. For one bright moment he had looked at her, seeing his partner and not Bren, despite the fact that the expression he reserved for his dream woman was all over his handsome face. He had uttered the words that she had given up on hearing from his mouth, and every emotion that had been carefully locked away exploded with a flash of joy unlike she had ever known…
…Only to be harshly extinguished in the very next moment.
He was making something clear for her, and she supposed she should appreciate it. He was sparing her from making a fool of herself by warning her right here and now that any love between them was strictly that of friends. And this was worse than she could have ever imagined from past experiences. The tragedy was that not only had her heart been broken…
…But hope had finally died.
He thinks that she doesn't love him…that he would know if she did.
After all, he relies on his ability to read people and she has never given him any clear indication that she feels anything other than friendship towards him. He has never even considered that she would be able to hide something of that magnitude from his clever observation, nor has he ever stopped to really think about the many ways that she might have been trying to say it.
He has always known that there was something special between them, but in the past, he had never afforded it much of a second glance. They were friends and partners and…something. But surely that something could never be lovers because they are so unsuited for one another. They aren't compatible. Nonetheless, their relationship is a rewarding one that he greatly enjoys.
It takes the thought of a baby, a brain tumor, and four days in a world that he had never dared to envision.
When he opened his eyes, she had been there. It hadn't taken long for the confusion to set in, and little more after that for the disappointment. What they had had together in his dream had been so real…he found himself yearning for it with a longing that he had never before known. Who was the woman that he had fallen so violently in love with? Was she only the figment of his traumatized brain? Or was she a representation of the partner he had grown so fond of over the years?
He doesn't know, but it doesn't stop him from wanting her.
Everywhere he looked, he could see her.
Or perhaps just the ghost of her…
Like a shadow that skitters across a wall just before vanishing in the sunlight, she was everywhere and often nowhere.
And he was tired. He was so damn tired…
He had become a man that was chasing after something that flitted between reality and dream, tangible and unreachable. If he could stop he would…
…but he just couldn't.
His head argued constantly that there were no ghosts in the shadows. There were only dreams and figments of imagination. It reminded him of the present…of the now.
But his heart…
…oh his heart…
It thought she was walking right beside him, and he felt like he was about to break apart from the stress of it all.
He knew the strain of battle. He was familiar with the wretched taste of war. But this time was different because the conflict was not an external one…it was within him and he could feel its bitter flavor on his tongue.
How do you even fight?
In the place where he now lived, she was there. A terrible and lovely combination of the things that he yearned for most in this life and those which he feared he could never have. If she was right there then why was he left with nothing but smoke in his hands? And how could he manage to possess for himself something that she was determined at every step to give to anyone but him?
He had always been a man with deep-seated confidence in his intuition. When he knew something…he knew it. But now he felt as though he couldn't trust himself. He was a kite blowing in the wind after its tether has been cut. He was floundering, falling, and then soaring once more.
He couldn't go on like this.
He unloads two clips with rapid succession, barely registering that he's holding his breath as the targets are recalled. When they come to a stop - and he can see the perfectly spaced cluster of holes - he is hit with a moment of such profound clarity that he's left reeling with the shock. He doesn't hear the administrator's compliment because he's already turning to find her.
And he knows.
He knows that he knows and it's in his gut and he can feel it.
The shadow has always been a mediocre representation of its caster.
He's done chasing dreams and wisps of imagining. He's through with ghosts and fleeting silhouettes.
Everything that he has ever wanted and more than he has ever dreamed is standing right here.
It's a battle of wills.
She with her determination to never trust her heart again – to never let him know the power he has over her. Despite her best efforts, she's found that a heart given away cannot be taken back. She'll seek the company of other men until she finds one that can numb the longing she has for him, not knowing that no such company exists. She will learn that love is a more powerful force than pain. That hope can spring from destruction. That the capacity of the human heart is far beyond her comprehension as nothing else in life has ever been.
He is determined to win her…single minded and focused on showing her that if she will just let him, he will love her until his dying breath. He knows now that no matter what life he might have glimpsed during those four days, they pale in comparison to the reality of what they can have together. He has a new motto now…hope and patience. He hopes that it's possible for her to love him, and he's patient in waiting for it. He will learn that persistence will heal even the most raw of wounds, and that faith is a two way street. And in the end, when love is victorious, he'll discover a joy that even he never knew existed.
They are inevitable now…
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