A/N: Spoilers through the 100th episode and some spoilers for the finale. Hope you enjoy and I hope it's in character. Please review :)
"You're leaving?" Brennan asked, her eyes grew wide in shock.
"Ya." Booth replied, staring into his coffee and refusing to meet her eyes.
"For how long?" Brennan could feel the panic rise within her – he was leaving her.
Booth shrugged, trying to appear nonchalant "About a year." He cleared his throat quickly. Brennan didn't know what to say. A week ago she had accepted to go on a dig in Indonesia for a year but had since then decided not to go. Of course she hadn't gotten around to telling Booth she wasn't going yet but now it didn't seem to matter because he was leaving.
"I'm not going to Indonesia." She blurted out, Booth's head snapped up and for the first time since they had arrived at the diner he met her eyes.
"What? Why not?"
"I...I just can't. I don't want to anymore." Brennan knew her explanation was severely lacking and Booth's eyes had narrowed as they did when he became suspicious.
"What's the real reason?" He asked her quietly.
"I just don't want to go anymore. I have to get back to the lab." She jumped out of her seat and was out the door before Booth could process what had happened.
"Damn." He swore under his breath. Hurriedly he pulled some cash out of his pocket and left it on the table as he raced out the door after her.
Brennan made it back to the Jeffersonian surprisingly quickly. She stopped just outside the lab doors and took a moment to compose herself. Striding into the lab, she made a beeline for her office. Unfortunately she had temporarily forgotten about Booth's amazing athletic ability. He caught her arm and turned her to face him, both oblivious to their friends and co-workers standing just feet away and now watching with intense interest.
"Woah, there Bones. We aren't done talking." Booth said, catching his breath.
"I believe I ended the conversation when I left the diner Booth. There is nothing left for us to discuss. You have decided that you are going to leave, which simply proves to me that my decision two month ago was for the best." Brennan replied coldly. Something snapped inside Booth.
"You do not get to lump me in with everyone's who hurt you and abandoned you. That is not what I am doing!"
"And I'm coming back!" Booth raised his voice. Anger felt better than hurt, and at the moment both were overwhelming him.
"I am not like all those idiots who didn't realize how great you are Bones. I am not abandoning you like your family so don't you dare put me in the same box as them! You said no, you turned me down Bones. Not the other way around! I wanted to give you everything but you said no! God…don't you understand how hard it is for me to still be your partner?" His voice and face softened as he pleaded for understanding. "Everyday I come here and we do our thing and I put on a happy face, but Bones being so close to you all the time and knowing that I'm not enough, knowing that there isn't ever going to be something more between us, it kills me, everyday. I can't…" He sighed defeated. "I can't stop hurting because everyday of being so close to you and not being able to have you just makes the wound deeper. I'm going crazy Bones. I'm ready to go room with Zach up at the looney bin. If there really isn't ever going to be anything between us then I need to get away for a little while and try to put myself back together. And I won't let you lump me in with all those people who abandoned you because you know it's not true."
Having said what he needed to say Booth let go of her arm and began walking out of the lab. He didn't even register the shocked faces of the squints as he passed the platform and walked out the doors. Brennan stood frozen in place for a moment before exhaling a shaky breath. Without looking at her friends, who were making their way towards her, she turned and walked as calmly as she could into her office. Shaking slightly she lowered herself on her couch, taking deep breaths in order to attempt to calm down. Her mind was spinning. All she could see was the pain in Booth's eyes; all she could hear were his words, pleading with her that night and just a few minutes before.
Brennan nearly jumped out of her skin when Angela touched her arm.
"You have to tell me what happened." Angela insisted. Brennan had managed to evade Angela's questions about what had transpired between her and Booth for two months; suddenly everything just came tumbling out.
"Two months ago Booth told me that he wanted to give us a shot. He said he knew from the beginning, like those men from old couples who have been together for decades. He said he knew and I pushed him away. I told him we couldn't. And he kissed me and I pushed him away." She finished breathlessly, fighting the urge to bury her head in her hands and cry. She wanted to remain in control.
"And today?" Angela prompted.
"He told me he was leaving, for about a year. And I got up and left the diner and he followed me back here and you guys heard what he said." She looked down at her carpet, aware that Angela, Cam and Hodgins were looking at her.
"Oh Sweetie." Angela enveloped her friend in a hug. "You have to tell him you want him to stay."
"No. You heard what he said. He said he needed to leave."
"No he didn't." Cam intervened. Brennan looked up at her. "He said that if there was no chance of something happening between the two of you then he had to leave." There was a moment of silence. "Is there a chance?" Cam asked when Brennan didn't say anything.
"I…I don't know. I can't change. I don't know how to change. How can I enter into a relationship with Booth knowing that I'll just mess it up. I don't want to lose him." She got up and began pacing her office.
"Brennan don't you see that you could lose him this way. He is obviously hurting. A lot. A lot a lot. So much that he needs to leave in order to try to heal his heart." Angela was now pleading for her friend to understand.
"Dr. B if there is any part of you that wants to be with Booth, I think you should tell him. It's not fair to either of you and you're going to regret it if you let him leave." Hodgins spoke up. Brennan stared at him; Hodgins began to shift uncomfortably under her intense gaze.
"You're right. Normally I would say that it is useless and irrational to have regrets because we cannot change the past. Booth told me that love was worth it. I have to trust that he is right."
"I am very glad to hear that Dr. Brennan. Now how about you go tell Booth." Cam nodded her head towards the door.
Picking up her purse, Brennan turned and addressed her friends. "Thank you." She said before making her exit.
"God I hope he listens." Angela said.
"He will. He's been in love with her forever." Hodgins said, a smile making its way onto his face.
Brennan raced out of the Jeffersonian before realizing that she had no idea where Booth was. She didn't think he would go back to work after being shaken so emotionally from their conversation; even if it had been mostly one-sided. To her surprise she saw him sitting on a bench in the Jeffersonian gardens. They had made a promise on that bench: that the center would hold; it was time for her to renew that promise. He seemed to be staring out into space as she approached.
"Booth?" He didn't reply, he didn't trust that he could make a sound without crumpling in on himself.
"I…I want to apologize." Brennan said, sitting down next to him and wishing she had a coffee simply so that she would have something to do with her hands.
"For what?" He croaked.
"Everything." Brennan replied. "I didn't mean for things to be this way Booth. I said no because I didn't want you to get hurt."
"Obviously that worked." Booth said sarcastically. Brennan bowed her head.
"I didn't want to lose you. I've never been in a lasting relationship Booth and I didn't want ours to end and I just couldn't bear the thought of losing you. It's me who isn't enough for you Booth. Not the other way around. You have no idea how much I wanted to say yes that night Booth. I want to tell you that I can do this, that we can…but I still don't know how to change."
"Did it ever occur to you that I love you the way you are and don't want you to change?" Booth asked her.
"No it didn't. I was trying to be rational."
"Rational would have been to say yes Bones. Spare both of us pain. I know it hurt you to say no. I could see it in your face."
"I didn't see it that way Booth. I saw the rational course of action to be to not engage in a personal relationship with you because it would inevitably end and you would get hurt. And I didn't want to do that."
"I still got hurt."
"And so did you." Brennan didn't respond. She knew she had to be the one to say something. Booth had already put his heart out on the line, now it was her turn.
"You said you wouldn't leave if there was a chance between us…I want you to stay…Please."
"Are you telling me that you're willing to just a shot?" Booth asked, turning to face her for the first time since she arrived.
"Yes." She said determinedly. She held her breath waiting for him to respond; it as almost immediately stolen from her as he took her face in his hands and kissed her.
"Thank you." He whispered against her lips before kissing her again. Brennan smiled as they pulled apart; she could not remember a time when she was so happy. They were the center, they were going to hold.