As this takes place pretty much immediately after, spoiler warning for "the Parts of the Sum in the whole". D': D': D':

This one's for lizook. I promise it isn't as angsty as you think it is, peach. Cathmarchr told me so.

Also, if you know americnxidiot, elleCC, bethaboo, or einfach_mich, please go harass them to start/continue writing for the Bones fandom. They're all incredible Twilight writers, and they'd bring some amazing stories to the lab table. Thank you.

"The Blonde in the Bullpen"

She couldn't remember the last time she had felt so tired.

Dr. Brennan was not a fan of metaphors, but she felt like she was acutely aware of each bone in her body, of every pull of every striated muscle as she wearily walked the flight of steps to her apartment. The elevator was not broken; she simply felt the need to use the stairs, to prolong reaching her home; to keep comfort at bay for just a moment longer.

She hurt. It hurt to see pain in his eyes. To know that she could have easily prevented it, could have easily made his red eyes shine with that joyous delight he was usually so eager to share.

She feared she had broken his joy.

And that caused her pain.

She hated herself for hurting him, but she hated him a little bit, too. Why? Why had he felt it necessary to do that? She wanted to blame Sweets. Sweets, with his erroneous assumptions and youthful lack of discretion.

She sighed as she unlocked the door to her apartment, both grateful and resentful of the silent, cold welcome of her possessions.

She felt a sharp pang in her stomach but couldn't stand the thought of ingesting anything. Booth had half-heartedly brought up the suggestion of eating as they walked to his car, but she had softly turned him down (again), making an excuse about no longer being hungry. And as with other things… he had accepted it.

When he dropped her off, his liquid eyes and sad half-smile nearly made her crack. She wanted to comfort him, to offer an all-encompassing platitude that would remove the sorrow from his face, but she never was good with things like that. Instead, she waved and let herself out of the sport utility mobile.

It wasn't until she was settling herself in bed that she began to analyze the upsetting end to an otherwise amusing day. She hadn't wanted to, really. But the memories were crowding her attempts to structure the next morning and with a heavy sigh, she opened her eyes as if the dark familiarity of her room would hold an explanation.

Why, Booth? Why did you have to go there?

She had known. Of course she had. Angela (and many others, for that matter) had suggested that her partner had amorous feelings for her often enough. But she simply didn't reciprocate. She loved him as a person, yes; how could she not? But he was…. too much, almost. His love for life and his job and his son and their partnership was so overwhelming, so all-inclusive, and she had always felt inadequate by comparison. As exciting as the idea was that she might one day be able to have that same level of intensity for another person, she knew she was simply incapable of returning his devotion. And she thought he had known that.

But she was wrong, as so often was the case. So utterly, stupidly wrong.

Could they truly get past this? She fervently wished it to be so. She would be unable to withstand the heartbreak if she lost her friend because she was unable to love him the way that he wanted her to.

* * * * * *

Luckily for Dr. Brennan, the adage "time heals all wounds" was holding up as a truism. Yes, it was difficult at first. Awkward. But Booth was a strong man, the strongest she'd ever known, and he rallied. Continued to work, to perform his job admirably. She felt that he did it for her, and it was appreciated.

A case comes along, you get absorbed. Your guilt and inner turmoil takes second place to your resolve to make a wrong right. Crimes are solved, criminals are punished. Old hurts are forgotten. People move on.

Booth moved on.

"Sweetie," Angela said, coming into Brennan's office. She was hugging her large electronic remote, a pitying and sad look on her face. Weeks, months had passed since Booth's teary-eyed pleas had shaken her once solid compartments. Brennan looked up and smiled at her friend.

"Hey, Ange. Ready for lunch?" She closed out her word document and stood, removing her blue lab coat.

"Yeah, about that. Listen, let's go to this new place Cam told me about. They have this salad with an, and I quote, 'orgasm-inducing vinaigrette' that I'm dying to try." Angela's smile didn't dimple nor did it reach her eyes, and Brennan instantly knew something was off.

"What? No, I'm not in the mood to try new things." She picked up her bag and walked to the door, but Angela put a hand on her forearm and sighed.

"Look, I know we're not supposed to make a big deal about this stuff, but it's just… Booth is gonna be there, and he's-"

"Oh, good. I needed to call him, anyway. About the case," she added, still a bit defensive and feeling like she needed to explain all Booth-related urges she had, though she was unsure why. Plus… she missed him. The truly regretful result of this thing that had passed between them was that the easy comfort they had always had was now missing. She desperately wanted it back but didn't know how to get it. And she felt on some levels that she didn't deserve it.

"No," Ange sighed, and Brennan began to feel impatient.

"Ange, what is it?"

"Booth's got a girlfriend, Brennan." Angela said it carefully, like it was something awful. And it was. Why hadn't he told her? He could have told her. Why did Angela know and she didn't?

"Angela, we discussed this. It's what he wanted, remember? We're… I'm glad. Maybe things will be all right now." Angela gave her a withering look, but to her credit, she said nothing. "Let's go to the diner."

"O-kaaay," Angela said, shaking her head. Brennan felt a flare of anger. Why did everyone always insist on making mountains out of mole dens?

Angela drove, and she kept tapping the beat of the insistent rhythm blaring from the radio on the steering wheel. It made Brennan agitated, almost nervous. She felt like she ought to be preparing for this, for meeting Booth's girlfriend, and she was unable to focus. Surely, there would be an ease in tension now that he had moved on?

"You sure about this?" Angela asked for the fifth time. Brennan sighed.

"Yes. I told you, it's what he wanted."

"O-kaaay," Ange sang again, opening her door.

They approached the diner and before Brennan could let herself in, Angela blocked the entrance with her body.

"Last chance."


"Sweetie, look. I know you think this is what you want, but it's just not. Even if you've both 'moved on', as you insist- and you're both wrong about that, by the way- this is gonna suck. For you, for Booth, but mostly for me. I hate her, Bren. I don't know her, and I don't want to. I've had such hope that- well. It doesn't matter anymore. Maybe he has moved on. But I haven't. I'm not ready for this, and I don't think you are, either." Angela looked so angry, so hurt, and Brennan felt a moment of indecision. She was ready.

So why did she feel a sinking lump go down her esophagus?

She gulped and stepped around her well-meaning friend and into the comforting dark of the familiar diner.

Brennan wasn't exactly sure what to expect. Tall blonde, dressed like a lawyer shouldn't dress for court? Or perhaps someone who resembled her, dark hair and pale skin? She wasn't sure which scenario would be easier. Or if she needed an easy scenario to begin with.

It was all moot, however. Booth was nowhere in sight. She found herself scrutinizing the lone females; perhaps he was in the restroom?

"They're not here," Angela said with relief so obvious Brennan felt irritated by it.

"I would imagine he wouldn't bring a date here to…" She didn't finish the thought, but Angela did.

"To your place."

"No, that's not what I was going to say." But it was. And Brennan felt it, not for the first time. A flicker of uncertainty. She pushed it away as she had been doing for weeks- for years, really. Her choices were valid and right, dammit.

But she found it hard to swallow her food. Her throat was inexplicably dry as she wondered what Booth was eating for lunch, where he was eating it, and who he was eating it with.

Angela didn't say a word about the lunch incident after that. Meaningful glances, yes. Disappointed conversations, no. It wasn't until almost a week later that the subject came up again, only this time- Booth brought it up.

"Hey, Bones." He had come to the lab with some old files and she just knew- she was able to take a cue from him, could tell what was coming. In a way, she was relieved; perhaps he truly had moved on and they could return to their previous working dynamic.

With much stuttering and a quiet voice, he told her all about her. That they'd been seeing each other for a few weeks. That she was kind, smart, funny. He didn't meet Brennan's eyes until his rambling description ended, and she gave him what she hoped was an encouraging smile.

"I'm glad for you, Booth. You deserve… something good." Something better than me.

He smiled and seemed about to touch her shoulder but he stopped himself, and she was surprised at how much that almost-gesture hurt. Could he no longer offer friendly advances? Swallowing her misgivings, she returned to work and tried to keep from thinking about it.

That was a sound plan in theory, but in execution it didn't work well. Because she caught a glimpse of her, of the girlfriend.

And that's when Temperance Brennan began to consider the possibility that she had made a serious error.

It was quick, really. She had some case-related papers, something that could have waited but it had been days since she'd seen him and so she drove down to the FBI building with plans to offer to take him to lunch-

-and she found herself standing in the middle of the office, staring. There she was. A not-Brennan. Blonde, tall. Pretty but not beautiful, underlying Slavic structure. Laughing, the kind of laughter that is expressed bodily. Standing close to him but not touching. Brennan almost wondered whether she was another agent, but then-

He looked at the woman and smiled. And that's how she knew.

Don't look at her like that. Don't look at her the way you used to look at me.

And then she was propelled forward by that mysterious need she always had to see, to analyze, to scrutinize and to dissect what was going on using her eyes and her brain.

He introduced them, seeming embarrassed. The woman's cool appraisal indicated to Brennan that she knew all about her. Oh, you're the partner. Did she detect disdain in the word? Yes, we're partners. She hadn't mean to sound challenging, but she couldn't help how her voice sounded.

Yes, nice to meet you as well.

Goodbye, Booth.

* * * * * * *

She was running. Out of his office, into the elevator, out of the building. Don't stop. Her eyes were wet. It isn't raining.

Eyes wet. Wipe them away. Why is it like this. What had she done.

* * * * * * *

She awoke with her face buried in her elbow.

And she was sobbing.

Brennan didn't sob.

But it had seemed so real. All of it.

Never had her subconscious mind created such a distinct and detailed dream.

She hated psychology.

But even she could admit that the dream had meant something.

She glanced at the clock. Had it really only been hours ago that her careful world had been rocked by one man's confession?

This would not do.

Like that, her decision was made. Temperance Brennan did not live with many regrets. She refused to second-guess herself. Admittedly, Booth's gamble had caught her by surprise, but it had no means caught her unaware. She had gone with the rational option. Now she wasn't so sure about it. Normally, when she made a choice, she considered all angles, used her considerable life's experience so that once made, she was satisfied with the outcome.

Even if it meant the outcome was going to cause her pain? Cause him pain?


She threw on a sweater and walked with purpose to the door. Step by step, Bones. Into the car. Don't drive too fast. It's still early. No other cars. Focus. What will you say. She was doing her best to pay attention to her actions, to not overthink what she was doing. Before she knew it she was parked at the curb, her body on automatic, walking up the path to his place like it had done numerous times before.

"Bones?" Like that she was at his door, standing there silent and uncertain. "Hey, you okay?" Her chest ached at the concern in his eyes. She had hurt him, and he was still so kind to her.

"I didn't like her, Booth."

"What? Who? Come in, it's freezing out there." He ushered her through the door, his face a little swollen, his eyes still showing evidence of slceritis. He didn't appear to have been awakened, though. Perhaps he had been having disturbing dreams as well.

She rounded on him. "I had a dream, Booth. And I didn't like it. At all." Her voice was pleading, begging him to comprehend. Please don't make me say it. I don't know if I can.

"A dream, huh?" If he understood, he wasn't showing it. She sighed.

"I can't do this." She turned, a solitary tear seeping out of the distal corner of her eye. She let it fall, didn't wipe it away.

"Hey," he said, and when he wrapped his arms around her, she knew. Knew that she would not, could not regret this decision. Yes, he was comforting her, protecting her, and she would protect him back. Not protect from her. Just protect. It was a truly frightening thought.

"Bones, talk to me." She heard his voice waver and she turned, her face in his chest.

"I don't want to hurt you." Her voice was small, vulnerable. She hated that.

"Yeah, well. I'll live." His voice was soft, chuckling.

"No. Don't do that again. I just- you're so good, Booth, and I'm-"

"Better. The best." He hugged her tighter to his body.

"You deserve-"

"The best. And so do you."

"I'm not-"

"Hey." He pulled away and lifted her chin. "I'm the character judge here and you do the science stuff. When you find a way to quantify human character traits, you let me know. Until then, trust me on this one." His eyes burned, the redness amplifying the intensity of his dark gaze. "Tell me what happened."

"I – I'm not sure."

"Bullshit. What happened."

"I may have had a lapse in judgment." He laughed at that and she found herself mildly offended but elated at the same time. "I'm not always right, Booth."

"No, you're not." His eyes were sparkling now, and she correctly identified the hope she saw there. Now what? She still didn't know.

"I don't know what to do," she admitted quietly. "I just- don't want to see you with an attractive blonde woman." His answering grin made her want to smack him, but she was much too comforted by his strong arms to move.

"You know what? I'll take it, Dr. Brennan." He smiled and brushed his nose along the top of her head. "Something told me you wouldn't take too kindly to me moving on, anyway."

"No. I don't believe that I would." She paused before whispering, "What now?" Don't ask me how I feel, Booth. I can't right now. It's all too much.

And he didn't.

"One step at a time, Bones. One step at a time."

* * * * * *

Siiiiiiiiiiigh. I loved the 100th, I ain't even gonna front. I thought it was perfect. If you really wanna discuss why, hit me up. I've already had several conversations with some of you regarding my theories about it. Alternately, you can always check out my twitter since I can't seem to stop watching the ending and tweeting with the saddest song lyrics I can think of. :D :D :D / D': D': D':