You see two people, and you think, they belong together.
But it never happens.
Skimming the surface, dancing the dangerous dance of too close and yet too far, two figures meet in the distance, coming together for an instant just long enough to leave an impression.
And in the instant of that instant, the few seconds of what would become long, long lives, a memory imprints itself.
Brennan's mind isn't as fuzzy as Booth's, but she can just barely taste the flavour of the man beneath the tequila in both of their mouths. She can still taste it though. And a strange feeling overcomes her, and she gets the sense that she'll be remembering this taste for the rest of her life.
In a twist of fate, the man and woman meet again, and the memory repeats itself, six years later, without the wanton, alcohol-fueled passion of the first instant, but with the slow-built plethora of emotions they two figures had managed to associate with the other, feel about the other, feel with the other.
And in Booth's kiss, in the short instant that Brennan's control and outward nature were lost to the things he made her feel, she could sense the desperation in the kiss, she could tell, from the rapid progression from discussion to action, that he was trying to gamble for her, and she knew, her mind processing it in lightning speed, that he would lose. She pushed him away, not letting her emotions get the best of her. There was a decision, a sacrifice for her to make.
And between the two moments, a love develops, evolves, makes itself known, and nearly destroys both the man and the woman.
Tears find their way out of Brennan's eyes and onto her face, and she sees the same thing happen to him. She cannot stop it. She can only stop it from happening later, because they aren't able to be what he thought they would be.
Because this isn't the type of love that makes you feel warm and fuzzy after seeing, this isn't the type of love that could come to fruition at any moment, this isn't the type of love that is sweet and superficial and yet enough.
Temperance watches two teenagers dancing, their faces close together, lit red and blue and green by the rotating lights, and she thinks that maybe there is something between them. She thinks she can see the connection that has eluded her all of her life. She thinks she sees young love, and though she has never read any scientific literature that says such a thing ever lasts and means anything good for either party, for a little while, she thinks she may want something like it. But then reality catches up with her and she realizes that love has never been something for a person like her. Love is not for scientists.
This is the type of love that makes you ache with the knowledge that that one right moment could never come and the vast expanse of potential of it could never be realized.
This is the type of love that is half sadness, half infatuation.
Brennan watches his face, as he tries to tell her that they can try, that he knew that she was the one for him, all those years ago, and it makes her ache, and she wonders why she is hurting so badly when she is supposed to be helping him. She cannot help it. I love him, she thinks, and for once, the notion does not get dismissed. I think I love him, and I know that nothing good will come of it. If this is love, how long will it last? How does he know how long it will last? She doesn't even think to tell him that it will all work out, because that is just another thing she thinks she cannot know.
A love that leaves you cold at the end of the day when you realize that their beds are still empty but for one person, and maybe there won't be a good day in amongst all of the bad that they've convinced themselves that this love is worth.
Because the man and the woman cannot see beyond their own doubts.
"I am not a gambler. I am a scientist. I can't change. I don' know how."
"But I've got to move on. I've got to find someone who will love me in thirty or forty or fifty years."
And they are so hopelessly tied to what they have with each other that the prospect of losing that over something so selfish isn't even an option.
For tonight, when the man climbs into his bed, and sees nothing beside him but more sheets and mattress and pillows, he thinks of her, and back upon the huge gamble he had taken, and wishes that she wasn't so—
But he can't tell himself reasons why she didn't give them a chance, because he doesn't really know why she told him no.
"You… you thought you were protecting me but you're the one who needs protecting." Booth's world comes crashing down still further, and he thinks he knows what she's saying, but then the part of him that is buzzing, soaked in adrenalin from the risk, the gamble he had taken, it cannot listen to this. It cannot accept the refusal.
"From what?" he asks, and does he know why she pushed him away? Yes and no. He doesn't want to. He doesn't want to need to.
"From me." Brennan answers, and it sounds sad, so sad, but it seems sadder for him, because he's been practicing for this game, and now it seems he's lost it before it began.
He doesn't know that she believed, with everything that she was at that moment, that she didn't know how to love, didn't know how to learn to love, didn't know how to learn to be anything other than what she was.
But he can't live like this.
Booth parks his car and walks, after he dropped Brennan off at her apartment, their eyes both still red. The walk takes him down to a bar, and the bar takes him to a glass of whiskey, and the glass takes him into another one. But then he calls a cab. Because he knows what alcohol does to people with sorrow, and he doesn't want to turn out like his father. Like his brother could have been. But the pain… it's still raw. He doesn't want to think about what tomorrow will feel like. He can barely think about today.
Because he needs more of her.
Because this love isn't one that is sweet and fleeting.
It goes deeper than the surface, diving beneath the crust of what he knows as himself and into the parts that lay hidden.
It saturates everything that he is now, because love does that, when it is real, when it is penetrating and powerful, when the other person is so much of what you need that you can't breathe when you think about losing them.
A crushing, throbbing, painful feeling assaults Booth as he hears the words on the cellphone. Cam sits across from him, unaware of what a few simple sentences have done to him. He struggles for air, but lets the breath go, finally. They will find Hodgins. They will find his Bones. They have to. So rarely do they fail.
And unbeknownst to him, she lies awake on that same night, and thinks of him, despite the fact that she tells herself that dwelling on what you cannot change, on what she cannot change, does nothing good for her.
And her love for him, though she cannot say with conviction that that is what it is, goes just as far into her person.
Brennan's usual routine of falling into her silken sheets, the tug-of-war between her rational side and the side that was hopelessly tied to the man continuing until she gives up and lets the emotions flood over her, fueling her fantasies, her erotic dreams filled with a bittersweet vein of what she cannot have, her usual routine cannot happen, because her mind reels, taking in everything that has happened and everything that still never will, and sleep never comes. She wakes up in the morning, and phones in to work. She will not come in today. She will lie in bed, reading, and tomorrow she will spend eighteen hours in Limbo.
And that's what makes this story so full of what love doesn't want to be, and yet ultimately must be.
That's why this story is full of sadness, and pain, and doubts and lies and denials.
"Please don't look so sad." she says to him, and anyone who had been listening to their moment slipping past would have had their heartbroken. But her heart cannot break, because her heart pumps blood to the rest of her body, and it cannot shatter. It is not made of bone. But the weight of what she has done does make a pain appear in her chest. And she feels like she's being crushed from the inside out.
Because the thing that they have, the thing that they're both so afraid of, is more powerful than anything they've ever encountered.
It can kill for the other, it can die for the other, and it can destroy itself in the course of keeping all that is held precious safe.
"I can't think of anything I wouldn't do to help him." she tells the other man, and something tells her that these are among the truest non-factual words she has ever spoken.
Because on the surface, in the place that the man and the woman inhabit when they're thinking, desperate thoughts have to be pushed back down, because this love can destroy them, from the outside, from the inside, and they don't know just how deep this goes.
* * *
You see two people, and you think, they belong together.
But they won't let it happen.
Because the man, despite his mostly-reliable gastrointestinal tract, can never find the right moment to take what she is so desperate to be able to give.
He looks at her, for the hundredth, thousandth, millionth time, and he still feels like this isn't the right moment, even though she's looking at him the way he likes to think he looks at her, and the moment slips by, and their normal conversation resumes, as they both take a sip of beer. He stores the moment in his mind, as he has done many times before, so he can look back and remember happiness later. We'll find our moment, he thinks, and he holds onto that thought as well.
So he gambles.
And she loses.
It's unbearable, to see him looking this way. It's unbearable, to think that she caused this. He should have weighed the outcomes. He should have looked at this rationally. If he had looked at this rationally, then they wouldn't have this thing between them now. He shouldn't have listened to the young man. She hates psychology.
But late at night, she is still thinking.
Because once upon a time, when she was a very small girl, love had been the ultimate goal.
The ultimate truth, the ultimate judge, the ultimate motive for everything.
"And they both lived happily ever after." Her father closes the book, and hoists her further onto his lap.
"Did you like the story, Tempe? Do you want to hear another one?" She nods, and he picks up the pile of fairytales. She points at one, her favourite.
"'The Frog Prince', again? What about 'The Princess and the Pea'?" She shakes her head, and reaches for the book she wants.
"'The Princess and the Pea' doesn't make any sense, Daddy. How could she feel the pea through so many mattresses?" The man chuckles, and squeezes his daughter tight.
"Honey, 'The Frog Prince' doesn't make any sense either. How can people turn into frogs? Fairytales aren't supposed to make sense. There's magic in them."
"'The Frog Prince' makes sense when it doesn't make sense." the little girl answers, matter-of-fact. "And I like the ending better." she adds, as an afterthought.
"Sweetheart, all of the endings are the same. The princess falls in love with the prince and they live happily ever after. That's the way fairytales work."
"I don't care, Daddy, I like this one better."
Her father just grins, and takes the book from her, opening it. "Once upon a time, there lived a princess…"
And then love, of the most pure, innocent and unadulterated kind, the love that was supposed to be unconditional and everlasting, left her.
All these years later, she's still not sure she's ready to let love back into her life.
"I don't get it, Temperance! We've been together for more than a year!" Daniel's voice doesn't cut through her as he ntended it to. She regards him coldly, and he looks still more incredulous.
"How can you not understand that I love you and want to be with you for the rest of my life?" She sighs. Here ends what had been a long and satisfying relationship. At first, Daniel had been quite complacent with her views and rules on sexual relationships, but apparently he had grown too close to her. At least, that's what the ring she had found in the bottom of his drawer seemed to say.
"Daniel, you cannot know that you will want to be with me for the rest of your life! And I have told you, many times, my views on marriage, so what evidence could you have possibly had to suggest that I would want to be part of such an outdated practice?"
He doesn't say anything else to her, just walks out of the apartment. The next day, she wakes to find him and his things gone. She feels something, in the part of her mind that she found was best to ignore, and so she does so. Perhaps now that she and Daniel had ended their semi-casual relationship, she can ask the attractive barista at the university coffee shop if he would like to engage in sexual intercourse with her. She had been recognizing several signs of physical attraction to her from him for weeks now. She cleans up the mess in the kitchen from the night before, and gets dressed to go to work. He had loved her, apparently. She doesn't understand where that had come from.
But she wants to be.
And she needs to be.
Because at this point in time, with a love so powerful and omnipresent, these two people, tiny pinpricks in the fabric that is existence, these two people, who had met by chance or perhaps not chance, whether fate had anything to do with it (because he believes in it, and she doesn't), these two people are now linked, forever, in every way, because they had been able to see the truth of each other, and were dazzled by it.
Are still dazzled by it.
"The world scares you, so you wrap it up neatly in bonds of reason, education, and proof. All riddles are solvable to you except for one" Avalon's assertions are starting to scare her, as much as she doesn't want to admit it, in their frightening accuracy.
"Yes, the riddle of how you knew where your sister was buried." She tries to change the subject, because she has never liked personal conversations, and this one is no exception. There is something about this woman…
"No. The riddle you can't solve is how somebody could love you."
She laughs. It is plain to see why people are attracted to her.
"Well, I'm beautiful and very intelligent." But how someone could love her? That, she certainly cannot fathom. But is it so easy to tell, that she has so little confidence in her ability to be loved?
"The answer to the question that you're afraid to say out loud is…" Avalon draws a card "Yes," and she puts it down "He knows the truth of you, yet he is dazzled by that truth." Something stops in her mind, but she tries as hard as she can not to let it show on her face. It is impossible. This woman doesn't have any idea what she is talking about. These are just cards, guesswork, ideas based on nothing. And yet…
If they could see the truth of what they feel for each other, well.
Then this story wouldn't need to be told.
Because then, you would see these two people, and think, they belong together.
And in every movement that they make, in every look, in every thought, breath, touch, smile, word, in everything thing that they ever made happen in this world, you would see it happen.