Thanks for the continued support! I'm still working on review replies, but to those of you I can not thank directly, your reviews are appreciated as well!
As with all previous fics, anything aired (or in a fic) is suitable for referencing. The following takes place after 'The Boy With the Answer,' and does contain direct references to 'The Parts in the Sum of the Whole' and my fic, 'Time Will Tell.' Enjoy!
An overwhelming feeling of sadness swept over Booth as he watched the taxi drive away with his partner inside. He was reminded of the times--two angst-riddled ones especially--when she'd insisted on hailing a taxi.
She's still your partner. She's not going anywhere.
Nevertheless, he couldn't help feeling deflated. Eyes downcast, he turned and shuffled toward the Founding Fathers entrance. He gripped the door handle, the metal cool in his palm, but paused before going in. He desperately wanted another drink, yet the door remained closed. Booth sighed and glanced back over his shoulder, searching for any sign of the taxi. He'd watched too many taxis whisk away his partner. And all those times, he'd respected her wishes to be alone.
Not this time. This time he was going after her.
With a decisive nod, he set his jaw, and his hand slid from the handle. He was on a mission.
An audible gasp escaped her lips, and her eyes widened as she instantly recognized the figure sitting on the floor, back against the door, his crossed forearms resting on his knees.
"What are you doing here, Booth?" she asked quietly. "How'd you get here before I did?"
He glanced up as he heard her voice, a tiny smile on his face. "I know all the shortcuts to your place, Bones," he told her, his eyes never leaving hers as he stood.
"I'm tired…" she began.
"I know, but what I have to say can't wait."
"You couldn't have called?"
Booth shook his head.
Brennan sighed and motioned for Booth to move aside so she could unlock the door. He followed her inside and watched as she dropped her keys on the counter and kicked off her shoes.
"Promise you'll come back," he said quietly.
"I don't know what you're talking about, Booth," she replied just as quietly, her back still to him.
He stepped close enough to touch her, but didn't. "Yeah, you do, Bones." When she didn't respond, he sighed before continuing. "I know you better than you know yourself. I can see how much Taffet's affected you. I think you could use some time away, but I need to know that you're coming back. Promise, Bones?"
Her head bent forward, hair sliding over her face. "You know I can't promise that, Booth."
Finally, Booth reached forward and gently laid a hand on Brennan's shoulder. "Please…"
She didn't pull away, nor did she offer to speak.
"You're my partner, Bones."
She shook her head. "You can always find another partner, Booth."
His hand dropped from her shoulder, and for a split-second, she thought he was gone. Then, he reappeared in front of her.
"I don't want another partner. I only want you."
Brennan looked up at him, having lost a few inches in height when she'd kicked off her heels. She lost track of how long they stood there staring at each other, but she knew she was the one who broke the extended gaze.
Booth, to say the least, was surprised when she initiated the hug, but he held onto her tightly, drawing strength from her as much as she was from him.
"Get some sleep," Booth said softly, slowly stroking her back. "You'll feel much better in the morning. No rash decisions when you're tired, okay?" he repeated his plea from earlier. "Give things time to settle." He pulled back, his hands sliding from her back to her arms.
Her arms fell to her sides, and though she voiced nothing, her eyes spoke volumes.
Booth shuffled a half-step closer and intensely stared into Brennan's eyes. "We got Taffet, Bones. She's locked away and she won't hurt us again," he reassured her, giving her upper arms a gentle squeeze. "And, hey," he continued, trying to lighten the mood, "if the nightmares keep coming, you know you can always talk to me, right?"
She held his gaze. "How'd you know that's what I was thinking?"
"I know you better than you know yourself, remember?" Booth grinned.
"I'm too tired to argue with you."
"No, you're not arguing because you know I'm right."
She rolled her eyes and placed a hand on his chest, feeling his heartbeat beneath the thin cotton of his t-shirt. Familiar. Comforting. "Goodnight, Booth."
Booth chuckled and stumbled backward, the action breaking their contact. "No decisions until tomorrow," he tried once more. "I'll stay outside your door all night if that's what it takes to keep you from leaving tonight."
Head tilted to the side, she pinned him with as much of a glare as she could muster. "Your efforts would prove fruitless and unnecessary. I'm going to bed as soon as you leave."
"Then, I hope you sleep well, Bones," Booth replied, satisfied that she'd do as she said. He opened the door and stepped into the hallway. "See you tomorrow," he stated over his shoulder.
She watched as he walked away. He made it about halfway down the hall before she called his name.
He turned back.
Thanks for reading!