AN: I, of course, don't own Bones in any way, shape, or form. Do you? If so, we should talk. :]

Booth gave the waitress a friendly smile as she set his plate of pie down in front of him before turning his attention back to the woman occupying the other side of the table. She smiled at him, finding his obvious joy in the plate of pie amusing. They chatted easily as they began to eat the food they had ordered for lunch.

That is, until something over her shoulder caught his eye. She watched as a new smile came over his face and he stood.

"Bones," he called in greeting across the diner.

Brennan turned at the sound of the familiar nickname and smiled, taking a few steps towards their regular table. Then she saw something that made her stop short. Catherine was seated in the seat opposite Booth, the seat normally reserved for her. She felt the smile fall from her face and an unpleasant feeling creeping into her. Without giving it much thought she quickly turned on her heel and left the diner as fast as she could.

Booth watched, surprised and confused as Brennan left before he could even blink. He wasn't sure if he should follow her or not. After a few seconds of internal debate he made to step towards the door, but a hand touched his arm. He looked down and Catherine was looking at him, obviously asking him to stay. Ignoring the rotten feeling in his gut he sat back down in his chair. They finished their lunch, Booth all the while throwing wanting glances at the door.

Booth stood moodily in the elevator at the Hoover building as he made his way back to his office. He passed a few agents in the hall and they greeted him casually but he ignored them all. His mind was running at least ten different directions, trying to figure out what was bothering his partner. He planned to grab a file from his desk and head over to the Jeffersonian to talked to her under the guise of work.

That plan quickly moved to the back of his mind when he finally reached his desk. Sitting atop the file he wanted was an egg. He slowly and curiously picked up the egg. When he turned it over in his hand, he noticed two words written on it with a permanent maker in very familiar hand writing.

Double Standard?

Suddenly it dawned on him. The diner was theirs. He cursed himself under his breath and grabbed the file. Then he quickly headed back the way he came, the egg carefully in his hand.

Panting slightly, Booth ran into the lab. Spotting a few lab coats on the platform, he jogged towards them.

"Bones!" he called, not yet able to see who was actually on the platform. As he reached the top of the steps he saw Angela, Hodgins, and Clark. "Any of you seen Bones?" he asked, slightly breathless.

Clark and Hodgins simply shook their heads before resuming their work on the remains that rested on the table.

"Ange?" he asked.

Angela watched him for a moment. "Why are you looking for her?" she asked.

Booth's eyes narrowed slightly as he noticed her unhappy tone. "I need to talk to her."

"Huh," Angela said guardedly. "Sorry. I can't help you."

"Angela," he said frustratedly.

She didn't seem at all phased by his annoyance and just turned away from him.

"What's with the laser eyes, Seeley?" Cam asked as she made her way up the stairs, snapping her rubber gloves into place.

Booth moved his attention from Angela and looked at his friend. "Have you seen Bones, Cam?"

Cam picked up the victim's hand to examine the fingers. "Yes, I have," she replied.

Booth sighed in relief. "Where is she?" he asked.

"I don't know," Cam replied.

"You just said you did."

"I spoke with Dr. Brennan in my office half an hour ago. Where she went after that, I don't know," Cam explained. "Do you have a case? Because Dr. Eddison will be filling in for Dr. Brennan during her leave of absence."

Booth had been in the process of storming out when he suddenly turned back around. "Her what?" he demanded.

Cam sighed in a disinterested manner. "She requested time off. I granted it."

"How much time?" he asked.

Cam gave him a hard look. "I really don't see how that is any of your concern, Agent Booth."

"Damn it, Cam! How long?" he yelled. They were all silent as Booth and Cam stared each other down for several minutes.

Fed up, Booth turned to leave. He would just go find Brennan himself.

As Booth retreated, Angela and Cam exchanged looks. Angela gave Cam a slight nod.

"Two months, Seeley!" she called after him.

She sighed and hunched her shoulders a bit. "Do you think we stalled long enough?" she asked them.

Angela glanced at her watched. "It takes Bren fifteen minutes to get home. She could be packed just as quickly. She just has to decide where to go. Even if Booth used his siren it would be cutting it pretty close. I don't think he'll make it," she said sadly.

Hodgins rested a comforting hand on her shoulder. "You guys did the right thing," he told the women.

"By helping her run away?" Angela asked.

"By being her friend. You did what she asked and trusted you to do. She needs to trust and rely on you," Clark told them.

They were all surprised that Clark had spoken up in such a personal situation, he'd always avoided that at all costs.

Cam and Angela smiled gratefully for his comforting words.

"Let's get back to work," Cam sighed.

Throwing his SUV into park, Booth withdrew his keys, silencing the siren. He sprinted into Brennan's apartment building.

When he finally reached her front door he stopped. For a few moments all he did was stare at it and listen, looking for any sign that she would still be inside. Taking a deep breath he reached for the doorknob. He was surprised to find it unlocked, she was home.

Booth pushed the door open silently and stepped into his partner's apartment. It was a place he'd been many times before. He knew it as well as his own. He'd often felt at home and comfortable here, until this day. He entered the living room and felt a wave of unwelcome wash over him. He surveyed the living room and saw no sign of her. Closing the door with a faint click, he locked it in place behind him. He thought about yelling out to her but thought better of it. He'd wait, she had to come his way eventually.

Sure enough a minute later she emerged from her bedroom, a suitcase rolling along behind her. She was looking at the ground as she walked, so she didn't notice him at first. It wasn't until he shook her hair from her face did she see the figure standing by her door. She stopped and could only stare at him with wide eyes.

"Going somewhere, Bones?" he asked casually, leaning easily against the door behind him. He was blocking her exit.

She looked away from him and rolled her suitcase to a stop next to the couch. "Yes," she stated, crossing her arms over her chest and leaning on the arm of the couch.

"Where?" he asked curiously.

"I don't think that's really any of your business," she replied coldly.

"Really?" he asked, keeping his tone light. "Because when this spur of the moment trip happens to come about just after I see you run out of the diner and away from me, I kind of think that makes it my business."

"Well, you're wrong," she informed him.

"Am I, Bones?" He pushed himself away from the door and took a few steps towards her.

She still wouldn't look at him but didn't move away.

"Then I found this on my desk," he said, holding up the egg. He rolled his between his fingertips. "I'm supposed to believe that this isn't any of my business? My partner runs away from me, I get a little mystery gift on my desk, my friends dodge my questions and you're ready to jet off on vacation without so much as a word to me."

She held her jaw firmly, annoyed. "You don't get a say in the things I do, Agent Booth. I make my own decisions. So, no, you don't get to have an opinion about when, where or how I choose to spend my time."

"I deserved some notice on this," he argued.

"No, you didn't! You don't have any sort of claim to me," she shot back.

"You're my partner!" his voice was rising as well.

"Not anymore," she said coldly.

Booth stared at her, dumbfounded. "What?" he managed to say.

Brennan finally turned to look at him, but was careful not to look him in the eyes. "I am no longer going to be working as a liaison to the FBI. Therefore, I am no longer your partner," she explained. "So, I repeat, you have no claim to me."

"Bones," he said, his voice almost sounding broken. "You don't want to work with me anymore? I messed up that bad?"

Brennan turned her gaze away from him again, settling for the carpet.

Booth took a small step backwards and held his body differently, obviously hurt. "I," he started. "I know I forgot the rule, Bones, but come on, give me another chance, I won't bring her anywhere near our things."

Brennan turned to look at him again, her face clearly incredulous. "This isn't just about today, Booth. I've had an open ended ticket ready for weeks, this isn't just some overly dramatic reaction to you forgetting some rule you yourself set forward," she said, clearly exasperated.

Booth looked even more confused than he did before. "You've been planning to leave for weeks? Why didn't you say anything?"

"I wanted you to give me a reason to stay!" she said loudly, her voice breaking minutely. She stood up straight and moved farther away from him.

Booth looked at her shocked. "Bones?" he asked, clearly having no idea what she was saying.

Brennan's back was to him, her arms still wrapped protectively around herself. She took a deep breath and turned back around, to see him staring at her. "For years I've listened to you go on and on about love," she started to explain, her voice quiet but carrying far in the silent room. "How there is someone out there for everyone, someone to complete them and make them happy. How when those two people are together, it's the best thing in the world, it isn't just about temporary companionship and sex without any sort of figurative strings attached. Those people in love, they break the laws of physics. The love those people have, it's worth everything. It's worth the fight to get it and the hard times that might come along the way."

Brennan ran a frustrated hand through her hair as her voice broke. "And for years, I've been adamant that you're wrong. There is no such thing as forever. The feelings we associate with love are just chemical reactions in the brain. No two people could possibly have any idea how they will feel about each other in the future. No relationships can last. People leave and people get hurt, all because we all want to believe the crazy impossibility that permanent relationships exist."

Booth couldn't think of anything to say. He had no words to defend all the things she was saying. All he could do was listen.

"Despite all the times I've argued and denied your ideas, I found myself not so sure. At first I just wanted to believe. Then I started to think that maybe there could be some sort of truth behind it all. But still I argued, not willing to admit it to anyone but myself. Just when I start to think, maybe I am able to love. Maybe there is a way that a man could love someone like me. All of my original ideas about love, they were proven right to me."

"What? Bones, who told you that?" he demanded angrily. Someone told her she was unlovable, that was insane.

Brennan gave a cold, mirthless laugh. "You did."

Booth felt like he'd been punched in the gut. He looked like it too, physically recoiling at her words. "Bones," he started to speak, his voice heavy with guilt and pain. "I never…"

"No?" she asked a little angrily. "Five weeks ago, you said you wanted to give this a chance. I told you that I'm not a gambler. I couldn't just throw away the friendship I thought we had on a gamble. I needed certainty. I'm a scientist. I like experiments and evidence, proof. I don't know how to change that. I've never taken a leap before, I don't know how." At this point Brennan was fighting back tears, reaching up to brush them away angrily. "I want to be loved," she insisted. "I don't want to be this horrible person anymore. I don't want to stay this way, a person that no one can bare to love. I want to change."

"Bones," Booth said again, taking a step forward, extending a hand to touch her.

She moved away from him quickly. "No! You tell me you're that guy," she cried. "You've always known. I took this to mean you loved me. Your definition of love. The law of physics breaking, old growing, and constantly supporting kind of love. I tell you that I'm a scientist. I can't change… and you agree with me. Then I see you with her… a scientist. You've told me that love is worth fighting for. But you backed down when I got scared and wanted to be able to change."