Disclaimer: I own nothing, naturally
Feedback: I'm interested, believe me
AN: My take on the aftermath of the events of "The Parts in the Sum of the Whole"; I warn you in advance that it's going to be a BIT harsh on both Booth and Brennan, but I just cannot shake the feeling that Booth at least should have a LOT more issues with Brennan's decision than we've seen so far (I can certainly think of how I'd feel if I'd been in his shoes).
When she looked back on it in the aftermath, Doctor Temperance Brennan always found herself wondering if there'd been some signs that it was going to happen that she might have missed. Booth cutting back on the time they spent together outside of cases could be attributed to his attempt to focus on his new relationship- although he rarely actually talked about how things were progressing with , Brennan assumed that he'd bring it up when he wanted to-, and his own apparent reluctance to discuss her own personal life outside of Sweets's continuing sessions could be explained as simply him staying out of personal matters; she might miss their old conversations in the diner, but she had no reason to suspect there was a problem.
Then came the moment when the sound of someone walking into the lab prompted Brennan to turn around to greet her partner, only to see that it wasn't him standing there at all.
"Agent Perotta?" Brennan said, looking at the female agent in confusion.
"Doctor Brennan, hi," Perotta replied, smiling slightly uncertainly at the anthropologist. "Sorry to just drop in like this, but it was all rather last-minute; a body was discovered in-"
"Where's Booth?" Brennan asked, walking away from the body she was currently studying to stand more directly in front of Perotta. "Is something wrong?"
"Booth?" Perotta repeated, looking at Brennan in confusion. "Doctor Brennan, Agent Booth's request for reassignment was completed last night; didn't he tell you?"
For a moment, Brennan thought she hadn't heard the other woman correctly.
Booth had been reassigned...
He wasn't working at the Jeffersonian any more...
He wasn't working with her any more...
And he'd asked for it?
"Hold on a minute; Booth never told anyone here about any request for reassignment," Cam said, walking over to join Brennan as the rest of the 'squint squad'- she'd never been sure when she started thinking of her team as that- gathered around behind her. "Why would he do that?"
"He just cited 'irreconcilable differences' and left it at that; it's not like anyone really needs to know why he wanted reassignment..." Perotta said, looking uncomfortably at the group of people gathered before her. "He asked for reassignment, there was no reason to find out why he wanted it, so the forms have all been filled out; we assumed that he'd discussed it-"
"Wendell?" Brennan said, looking back at her current intern.
"Uh... yeah?" Wendell Bray replied uncertainly.
"You're going with Agent Perotta," Brennan said simply, turning around to head for her office. "I have... other things I need to do."
"Doctor Brennan-" Agent Perotta began, moving to walk after the anthropologist only for Cam, Hodgins and Angela to move in just the right manner to block her progress as Wendell headed back up to the lab to collect the fieldwork kit.
"Strictly speaking, if Doctor Brennan doesn't wish to accompany you on this assignment at this time, you have no legal authority to make her do so," Cam said simply as she looked at Perotta. "Wendell Bray is fully capable of performing any on-site assessments you might wish to make, and Doctor Brennan will naturally be fully available when the body is brought back to the Jeffersonian if more detailed analysis is required; in the meantime, if she has... personal business... that she wishes to attend to, the only person with the right to object is me."
"And after all the overtime she's put in over the years, there's not that much chance of that happening, right?" Angela put in, looking over at Cam with a slight smile as Brennan hurried past them, barely registering the conversation beyond a brief, grateful nod at her colleagues before she was out of the lab and heading for her car.
As soon as she reached Booth's office, the turmoil that had dominated her thoughts almost since she first heard Perotta's news- it had taken more effort than she'd ever imagined she'd need to remain focused simply while driving to the FBI building; she just couldn't stop herself from picturing what she'd miss if Booth wasn't part of her life any more- faded as soon as she saw him, casually sitting behind his desk, going over various forms as though it was just another day at the office rather than the day when he'd completely thrown her life in upheaval by taking away the first constant thing she'd had ever since her parents died (Angela, for all that she loved the other woman like a sister, was too flighty for Brennan to feel like she'd made a serious commitment to her, and she'd only really begun to connect with the rest of the staff thanks to Booth)...
"Doctor Brennan?" Booth said, looking up from his paperwork as she walked into the room, slamming the door behind her and shooting him a brief glare as she lowered the blinds over the glass walls and door of the office before she turned to face him directly (Whatever was going to happen here, Brennan knew already that she didn't want anyone to witness it; the way in which he'd said her name alone told her this wasn't going to be an easy discussion). "What are-?"
"You requested reassignment?" Brennan hissed at him as she leaned over his desk to glare at him, trying to keep her voice down despite the rage she was currently feeling.
"You heard already?" Booth responded, the slight surprise in his voice the first emotion he's shown upon seeing her. "I didn't think you'd have a case this fast-"
"Oh, so you were just going to sneak away?" Brennan said, forcing the tears that threatened to cloud her eyes at the thought of Booth being gone away by focusing on her anger instead. "What the hell were you thinking; that I'd just-?"
"Compartmentalise and move on?" Booth interjected, his eyes narrowing slightly as he looked at her. "Why wouldn't you; I'm not dead, you'd only need to ask Hacker to learn where I was, I'd tell you when the transfer came through-"
"Transfer?" Brennan practically hissed, barely stopping herself from grabbing her suddenly-ex-partner by the shoulders and shaking him at that revelation. "You're leaving Washington?"
"Why not?" Booth said bluntly. "I got an offer a while back to teach a few pointers to some of the new guys in the Denver office; it seemed like as good a time as any to take it up when I'm still fit enough to demonstrate them."
"As good a time as any?" Brennan repeated incredulously. "What about Doctor Bryar-?"
"We ended things a fortnight ago- things weren't going anywhere- so I requested the reassignment," Booth said briefly. "If that's all, Doctor Brennan-"
"Booth..." Brennan whispered, shaking her head as she stared desperately at him, trying to figure out the best way to ask why he was doing this without making her real feelings obvious- he didn't deserve her, he deserved so much more than her-, "please... you... you can't leave... don't do this to me-"
At those words, something inside Booth seemed to snap.
"For God's sake, stop making this about yourself!" he yelled, standing up to glare at her from the opposite side of his desk, the two practically nose-to-nose as they glared at each other. "Not everything has to be defined by how it affects you! Your brother didn't cope with your parents vanishing any better than you did, your parents missed you even if they thought you were safer without them... God, you are not the only person in the world who's suffered! Sometimes people have to do what's best for them even if other people get hurt by it; I have to think about me for once, and this is the only way I can think of staying even slightly sane!"
"You said you wouldn't leave-!" Brennan began.
"I lied!" Booth yelled back, unconcerned about whoever might be listening in at this point; if Brennan wanted to talk about this in private, she should have come to him at his apartment rather than here. "I thought I could get through it, but we can't all 'disassociate' ourselves from our emotions, Doctor Brennan; you think I haven't tried that?! God, I tried to understand your reasoning, but there's no giant 'rewind' button for life; I can't..."
His voice trailed off as he looked at her, his anger seeming to dissipate slightly as he took in the gleaming trace of tears in the corner of her eyes. After a moment of silence, Booth sighed and stood back, taking a couple of deep breaths to calm himself down before he continued talking.
"I got why you said... what you said... at the time," he said, his voice slow as he spoke, his eyes somehow moving around the office without ever looking directly at her. "I thought that I could cope... I didn't want to pressure you... but I can't... God..."
He groaned as he sat back down behind his desk, staring up at the ceiling with a defeated slump to his posture that even Brennan's limited knowledge of body language had no trouble reading. "You broke my heart, and I can't even fucking hate you; the only person I hate is me..."
What? Brennan thought, confused at the sudden apparent shift in topic; what did she have to do with Booth suddenly feeling an apparently inexplicable self-loathing?
"And I..." Booth continued, ignorant of Brennan's confusion as he leant forward, Brennan quickly shifting her face to avoid reflecting her uncertainty. "I can't stay here, working with you... looking at you... loving you... when all it does is make me feel like crap..."
"What?" she said, looking at him in confusion. "I... I don't know what that-"
"Oh, come on; you cannot tell me you don't understand that!" Booth yelled, cutting her off as he stood back up, his previously-displayed pain seeming pushed aside in favour of his new anger, glaring at her with a stare so intense that Brennan actually felt something she'd never thought she would ever associate with Seeley Booth; she actually felt afraid. "You met that 'David' guy online and dated him for almost four months before he broke it off because you got 'too focused on your work' during your mom's case, you and Sully had one case together and you were thinking of leaving for a year with him a month later, you've been dating Hacker for the last few months after barely meeting him more than a few times before the first date..."
"Saying 'more than a few times'..." Brennan began, before she shook her head in self frustration as she stared back at Booth with renewed urgency. "That doesn't matter, Booth; they don't mean anything-"
"No, they don't," Booth said bluntly.
For a moment, Brennan's hopes soared, but then she took in the grim expression on Booth's face and couldn't shake the feeling that she'd just kicked a puppy or had denied Parker a treat (And why did Parker spring to mind before her own step-nieces?).
"They just mean," Booth finished, his voice actually sounding like he was trying to stop himself from crying a little at this point, "that, as far you're concerned, you'd rather give some guy you've only just met a shot... before you'd even look at me that way."
After another moment's silent staring at each other, Booth finally sat down in his chair, his head lowered as he waved at the door.
"Just... just go," he said simply, a defeated tone in his voice that made it clear that he'd said all he had to say on that topic. "I've... got some forms to finish."
Unable to think of anything else to say to that- and with Booth's body language making it clear that he had no interest in continuing the conversation-, Brennan turned around and walked out of Booth's office, closing the door behind her.
As she turned to stare silently at the new barrier between her and the man she'd come to depend on more than any other, she couldn't stop herself from thinking of the symbolism of this latest development.
She'd never attached any meaning to the idea of symbolism in her life before this moment, but right now, she felt as though the door being closed like that had permanently closed the door on the part of her life involving Seeley Booth...
And she still couldn't quite understand why; what had she done to make Booth hate himself so much whenever he looked at her?
If he'd hated her for rejecting him, she could understand that, but he'd made it clear that he only hated himself...
AN 2: Yes, I know I'm evil; if you want to see more, reviews are required...