Okay, so that was the most epic episode ever. :) I really couldn't think of anything to add but then I got The Gambler by Kenny Rogers in my head and here you go.
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
You got to know when to hold 'em,
Know when to fold 'em,
Know when to walk away,
know when to run,
You never count your money,
When you're sittin' round the table,
There'll be time enough for countin',
When the dealin's done...
-Kenny Rogers 'The Gambler'
"I wish you could have known her back then." A black and white picture of the love of his life slid across the splintered wood of the bar as her father stole his whiskey and took a swig. He turned his stool around slowly, picking up the picture and looking at the free spirited child in the picture before glancing up at Max Brennan.
"Look," He swallowed hard and blinked back the sorrows he had been drowning, "Max, if you're here to bust my balls, I'm sorry but I'm just not in the mood right now."
"Nah," The corner of his lips turned up as he slid into the seat next to Booth, "Let me keep your drink and I'll give you a reason not to order another one."
Seeley Booth loosened the knot of his tie as his eyes drifted from the picture to the tumbler full of the amber liquid and back again. His calloused thumb traced over her smiling face and the chocolate hair that waved in the breeze frozen in time. Sitting the picture on the oak bar, he slid it between them with his pointer finger and tapped it twice, "Tell me."
"She was seven there," He picked up the picture and studied it in the dim light of the seedy pool hall, "Russ had just finished chasing her all around the block. They were the best of friends – Russ and his tag-a-long Tempe – and she had sprinted up to me in a fit of giggles and hid behind me like I could protect her from her big brother and everything else that was bad in the world. She was peaking out from behind my legs when Christine took that picture... I should have protected her, Booth."
"Max," Booth sighed as his dress shoe tapped against the baseboard, "I know about her-"
"-You don't know the her that knew how to love, Booth." Max explained as he took a swig from the tumbler and clinched his eyes shut for a moment before forcing them open, "She was always smart, always a brain who didn't quite fit in, but my girl, she knew how to love."
Booth's throat was dry and he licked his parched lips as he settled in for the wisdom only Max Brennan could impart on the enigma that was Dr. Temperance Brennan. Max placed the picture in between them again and he let his eyes drift over the smiling child that was so free from all the evils.
"Temperance had the biggest heart – she got that from my wife – she would find dead bugs on the sidewalk and after she had gained all the knowledge she could from the tiny corpse? She would give the bug a burial and we were all expected to attend." He let out a dry chuckle and shook her head, "She had this way of feeling that was so intense it was almost frightening. The only way to describe it was that she felt too much, Booth. Everything was amplified."
"Max," His voice was rough and he coughed a few times to hide the emotions, "I love her and as much as she wants to fight it, that's never going to change."
"I know that," Max sighed, "Booth, you love her more than she's capable of feeling though. You have to remember that she's not used to being loved and anyone who has ever loved her one bit has left her and tore her entire life out from under her. I screwed up my daughter, Seeley, I am the reason why she is this way. Christine and I … we did what we had to but we screwed our daughter up. You just have to keep loving her."
"I know," Booth sniffled and shifted in his chair, "I don't have a choice. I can't not love her but I need her to love me back."
"Booth," He clapped him on the shoulder, "are you really that blind? She already does. Temperance is so much in love with you that she doesn't know how to deal with it. She loves you more than she's ever loved anyone and that scares her. So, she's doing what she knows how to do. She's putting up the walls and she's running."
Max reach into his pocket before pulling out the keys, "She's running. I just came from her apartment. She asked me to house sit again."
"What?" The color drained from his face.
"She wants to protect you, Booth. Cause," He sighed and drained the tumbler, "she knows how much you love her and she knows that when it inevitably all falls apart, you're both going to be hurt so much by it. She wants to keep you from feeling that hurt she's always felt."
"Max," He pulled out his wallet and tossed down a couple of bills to cover the drink, "thank you. I've got to go."
"Just remember," He held out the picture and Booth took it, "you're the Gambler. So, you've got to be the one to know when to hold 'em and know when to fold 'em."
"Yeah," Booth slid on his jacket, "but I think it's time that I go all in."
"She should be at the airport by now."
And with that, Seeley Booth sprinted out into the pouring rain.
The flashing lights and the siren would probably get him yelled at come Monday morning but he couldn't let her get on that plane to whatever foreign city she was running to now. Whatever place filled with skulls and war couldn't need her as much as he needed her for the rest of his life.
Taking corners on two wheels, he made it to the airport in record time. He knew that his badge was only going to get him so far but as he skid to a park on the sidewalk, he saw her pulling her things from a taxi. Undoing his belt and jumping out, he sprinted through the blinding sheets of rain, "Bones!"
"Booth," She looked up at him and, even through the rain, he could tell that she was still crying, "what are you doing here?"
He held up the photo, "This girl? I love her. I love you, Bones, and I know that you love me too and I know that's why you're running. Look, I'm just as terrified as you are! This could ruin damn near everything but it's worth it! Bones, you have got to trust me. I won't hurt you and I trust you, I know that you won't hurt me either. You love me, Bones, you've just got to let yourself!"
"Booth, you're wrong." Her voice was broken and nearly inaudible in the whistling wind, "We can't do this. It's not worth it!"
"Could you..." He growled in frustration, "Dammit, Bones, stop using your head so much and just trust your heart. It's more than just a beating, life-sustaining muscle!"
"So," She stepped closer to him, their chests almost touching, "you come here and tell me that you love me and you just expect me to go all pudding in the knees and let that be it?"
"Jello, Bones, it's Jello!"
"That's not the point, Booth." Her eyes narrowed as the thunder boomed in the distance, "What is this supposed to change?"
"Everything." He whispered and brushed away the soaked hair that was matted to her face.
"How can you be so sure?"
"Cause, I'm the gambler," Booth explained, "and that means, just this once, I am smarter than you. When it comes to this, I'm the genius. So, do me a favor and just trust that I won't let you do anything that could ever hurt you."
"I," She sighed and pulled back slightly, "I will concede to the fact that you are better than me in situations like this and will defer to your judgment for the time being."
"Good enough for me." He mumbled as his lips sought out hers. The storm laid a better backtrack than any movie ever could have provided, fireworks never went off, and the flashing lights that had been left on were annoying but that kiss held more than any tequila fueled fusion ever could.
When their lips separated with a pop that got lost in the wind, she was laughing so hard she almost doubled over and he looked at her with a combination of love and confusion, "What?"
"Someone," She wheezed, "is going to have to tell Sweets that his book was right and we are in love."
He smirked and shook his head, "I think he's going to be okay with that conclusion despite the rewrite that's before him."
"I do love you, Booth."
"I know, Bones, I love you too."
"Don't call me Bones!"