A/N: This is a season six story that begins with B/B returning and continues as they go back to work, get new cases, and try to figure out where they belong again. FAIR WARNING! This reunion scene is not one of the fluffy run-into-each-others-arms type scenes. As much as I love the idea of that, I very much doubt that it's what will actually happen on the show. Instead, I've tried to show what I feel the characters will be dealing with as they return. The insecurities, the confusion, the awkwardness that inevitably comes from prolonged separation and unresolved feelings. That being said, fear not. Our favorite crime fighting duo can't last long without allowing their inner desires to take over. I have a feeling (and I'm the author, so I should know) that they'll be together soon enough. But if you just can't wait for fluff, check out the other reunion mini-series that I wrote: "Home". It definitely counts as fluffy. And if that still doesn't work for you, I can't help you much, but there are tons of other excellent reunion stories that might can. =)
Anyways, I hope you'll get on the bandwagon with this story. I'm not going to be paying too much attention to spoilers for season six, so you won't have to worry about that if you don't want to know what they are. I do have an interesting new nemesis for our characters though, so that should be fun.
I hope you enjoy. Don't forget to leave me a comment and let me know you're reading and whether or not you're enjoying the story.
Disclaimer: Nope, still don't own 'em. But my people are talking to their people and we've got a deal in the works. Stay tuned.
The hum of so many voices was foreign to her ears. The cell phones, the bright lights, the announcements over the speaker. It was strange to her how one year had changed so much about what she was used to. The Indonesian jungle had been backwards, dark, murky and thoroughly fascinating, but it had also allowed her to separate herself from the reality of the world. Her world.
Standing in the middle of the airport, she gazed around her. She was home. Home to the Jeffersonian. Home to her father. Home to her friends. Home to coffee carts and reflecting pools and the man she had run away from.
"Got the luggage!" Daisy chirped, coming up behind Brennan. "The rest should be here in a couple of days. The guy said they would deliver it. Isn't that nice?"
Brennan glanced at Daisy. The year away together had been tiresome at times, and yet she had found herself grateful for the young, enthusiastic girl's company on more than one occasion. Daisy was a touch of home. Someone who knew Angela and Hodgins and Sweets and Cam and Booth. Someone who knew it was all real and would be waiting for them when they returned.
"That's his job." Brennan pointed out. She was still determined the ground this girl in reality even if she was slightly fonder of her now than she had been the last time they were in this airport. "It's not nice to do your job. It's professional."
"Lance should be here any minute." Daisy went on, ignoring Brennan's correction. "I can't wait to see my Lancelot."
"I suppose he waited for you then?" Brennan asked, taking her bag from Daisy.
The young student nodded eagerly. "Isn't that just the most romantic thing in the whole world? He said that he didn't mean to wait for me. He tried to move on, but he just couldn't." She sighed happily. "Isn't that wonderful?"
Brennan cast her a look. "No. No, that's a horrible feeling." She cleared her throat. "At least I imagine it would be."
Daisy's face grew more serious and she laid a compassionate hand on Brennan's arm. "Dr. B, I just know that you and Agent Booth are going to figure everything out. He has to see what an amazing, brilliant woman you are. He just has to."
Brennan moved away from Daisy's touch, frowning. "Miss Wick, anything that you and I might have discussed during our trip is strictly confidential and most likely tainted by emotional thinking brought on by seclusion. I wouldn't expect you to bring it up again."
Daisy gave her mentor a small smile. "Then you don't really love him?" She prodded.
All emotion left Brennan's face as she closed herself off. "What I do or do not feel is irrelevant." She said firmly. "The facts are simple. Booth and I have been apart for a year. We spoke only once and very briefly. Even if there was potential for something a year ago – and I don't mean to indicate that there was – that chance is most certainly gone now." She forced herself to look directly into Daisy's wide eyes. "While I have deep affection for Booth, a romantic relationship between us isn't feasible."
"And if he still loves you?" Daisy asked, pushing the limits with her usual lack of propriety.
Brennan looked away from the girl that was asking the same question out loud that she'd been asking herself for months. Could he? Did he? What would she do if he did? She didn't have solid answers for any of them, and that bothered her. It bothered her that she was more confused now than when she left. The distance that was supposed to soothe the ache she felt, clear the muddled mess that her head had become, had only served to demonstrate how strongly she felt about her partner.
"He doesn't." She responded shortly.
Daisy looked as though she would continue to press, but Sweets appeared, a wide smile on his boyish face. Daisy squealed and jumped in to his arms, allowing him to spin her around. When he set her down, he kissed her solidly on the mouth.
Hanging back, Brennan watched the flashy display of affection with mixed emotions. She would never conduct herself like that in public. Daisy's squeals had turned the heads of most of the people in the room. And yet… she couldn't help but feel a small sense of loss that there was no one eagerly waiting to greet her with hugs and kisses.
He was back. He'd traded in his fatigues for his suit and tie the moment that he'd arrived at his apartment. The one Jared had been keeping an eye for him while he was in Afghanistan. He was restless, pacing.
She'd be waiting for him at the coffee cart in an hour and it only took him twenty minutes to get there. Forty minutes was a long time to think after a year of trying to do everything but think of her.
He stopped in front of the mirror, catching a glimpse of his face. Even to his own eyes he looked older, more tired. Not that he was surprised. He felt older and more tired. He'd spent the last twelve months in a war zone, training men that often didn't come home. Feeling responsible for each life lost. Feeling lonely for anyone that meant something to him. Of course he looked worn down. He was.
But as terrible as the past year had been it had at least given him some perspective. Slowly, achingly he had realized what he should have seen from the beginning. Things with Bones weren't going to work out the way he wanted them to. He could love her all he wanted, and he could even believe that somewhere deep inside her she loved him back, but it didn't change the fact that they weren't ever going to want the same things. She'd run away to Indonesia just at the prospect of their relationship developing into more. There was no telling what she'd do if it ever actually did.
And there was no way he was going to risk finding out. A year without her had been miserable, but it had at least allowed him to come to the realization that he wanted her in his life regardless of her position there. If she could only give him friend and partner then he would take it. No more pushing, no more wishing, no more pressuring. He wouldn't risk scaring her off again.
He was home. She was home. They could get back to the way things used to be between them. All he had to do was be her friend. And he could do that. He was good at that.
And if every once in a while he looked at her with the desire he felt, well, she probably wouldn't have a clue.
The familiarity of her surroundings swept over her, engulfing her in the sweet sensation of home. A rush of serotonin, no doubt. That was a much more likely explanation than sentimental attachment to wood benches and vending carts.
Still, the sight of that coffee cart made her smile. She approached slowly, looking around, but not finding any familiar faces. He'd be here soon. She was a little early. Sleepless nights brought out the restlessness in her and she'd risen hours ago, taking her time showering and doing her hair. She'd even put on a touch of make-up, something she'd stopped doing almost entirely over the past twelve months.
"Decaf." She said, keeping it simple. "Hazelnut creamer."
It was a different vender than she remembered and he merely nodded at her politely before getting her drink. She busied herself with leafing through the various advertisements that were displayed on the cart. His voice startled her.
"Heya Bones." He said and she turned, her wide eyes growing wider as she saw that he was actually standing there right in front of her dressed in his standard black suit and red tie. Her eyes darted down to take in his belt buckle, noting with a ridiculous thrill of pleasure that it screamed "COCKY" at her.
"Booth." She said, smiling. "You're back."
"So are you." He said, smiling too. He made a move towards her, as though considering a hug, but hesitated. Both laughed awkwardly as she took the initiative and hugged him, wrapping her thin arms around his neck as he held her waist tightly. He smelled of sand and soap and Booth and she breathed him in deeply.
She pulled away, dropping her arms and he did the same. "I'm very glad to see you again." She confessed. "How are you?"
"Great. Good." He said, pointing behind her as the vendor handed her coffee to her. "Regular, black." He told the man. "You look great. Your hair… it's different."
She touched the ends of her hair self-consciously. Daisy had informed her while they were still at the dig that her hair had become long and unruly. This blunter look, Daisy had insisted, was exactly what Brennan needed. She was rather ambivalent about it, but Booth seemed to like it. He was staring at her.
"It was Miss Wick's idea." She explained.
"I like it." He gave her a small smile. "It looks really good on you."
"Thank you." She said, smiling in return. She wished she were him. If she were him, she would know what to say right now to break past this awkward moment and get back to the way things used to be. But she wasn't him. She was her and so she just said what she felt.
"The awkwardness that we're feeling right now is probably because it is no longer a habit for us to interact combined with the fact that we are both unsure of what the other expects." She told him as they walked to their bench.
He looked at her in surprise. "Oh." He said. "Ok." They sat down and he cast another glance over at her. "Look, Bones, this shouldn't be awkward. I want us to go back to normal. I've missed you like crazy. So what are the chances that that calculator brain of yours has come up with a way to just skip this stage?" He offered her a lopsided grin in encouragement.
The earlier rush of serotonin grew more intense at his confession that he had missed her. "We just have to behave in a normal fashion." She assured him. "For instance, I could attempt to recreate our bond by discussing people we have in common. Angela and Hodgins arrive home from Parris next week and they are both returning to work at the Jeffesonian. But," She stopped and smiled at him. "Angela will be leaving again in five months."
"Why, did she get an Indonesian dig to run off to too?" He tried to tease her.
"No, of course not. She would hate that, not to mention the fact that she's not qualified." Brennan said, frowning and shaking her head. "No, she'll be on maternity leave for three months. She's pregnant."
Booth grinned. "That's great." He said sincerely. "I bet she's thrilled."
"Yes, she appears to be extremely excited." Brennan agreed. Anxious to keep talking, she continued. "I am to throw her a shower, but I'm in a slight quandary about it. Usually if I had to perform a task like that I would ask for Angela's advice, but it seems inappropriate since Angela is the recipient." She sighed just thinking about the numerous points of confusion that had already come to her attention.
Booth chuckled though, and her attention snapped back to him. "You'll figure it out. And hey, if you need help, let me know. I still remember Rebecca's." He shook his head in disgust. "Not fun. Never again will I carry an egg dressed in baby clothes across the room in a spoon. If you care about Hodgins at all, don't make guys attend."
She laughed too, picturing big, strong Booth balancing an egg on a spoon. Her eyes met his as she chuckled, and she suddenly grew more serious under his gaze.
"I missed this." He said softly.
"What?" She asked even though she was sure that she knew what he meant.
"This." He said, shrugging. "What we do. I'm glad you came back, Bones."
"Me too." She said, still holding his gaze. "I'm grateful that you were safe. I worried for you frequently."
"I'm sorry. I didn't want you to worry." He told her, looking concerned.
She shook her head. "I know you too well not to." She said wryly. "Always the hero."
"Not always." He muttered, looking away from her.
"Booth…" She frowned, automatically reaching out to touch his arm. "Did something happen?"
He looked down at her hand on his arm and seemed torn as to whether or not he should reciprocate the touch. "Let's not talk about that stuff now." He said, deciding against covering her hand with his. Instead he shifted so that her hand fell from his arm. "I just want to enjoy being home. Seeing you again." He gave her a half smile. "It's a toss-up between you and Parker, you know. I can't decide which one of you I'm more glad to have back."
She smiled at his words, but disagreed. "It has to be Parker, Booth. He's your son. Your family. I'm sure you missed him a great deal."
"Yeah." He said quickly, shrugging. "Sure, of course, Parker…" He trailed off, looking away from her, then back. "You were family too, Bones."
She stared at him in surprise, but then her eyes softened and she cocked her head, still smiling. "Am I still?"
"In my book," He said honestly. "You'll always be family."
Impulsively, she leaned forward and hugged him again, holding him tightly but briefly. She pulled back before he could grab hold, looking at him self-consciously as she smiled. "I'm very glad." She said. "I was afraid that with the year apart…"
"Hey." He cut her off. "Everything changes, except one thing, Bones. It doesn't matter if it takes us a few days to get back to normal. You and me, we're still us, ok? Don't doubt it for a second."
"Ok." She agreed, taking her first easy breath since getting on the plane home. "I'm very glad that you'll be my partner again instead of Miss Wick." She laughed. "Though I've grown to better tolerate her presence, she still has many irritating habits that you do not. For instance, you do not subject me to romantic tales of Lancelot on a daily basis."
He laughed too. "Yeah, well trust me, you're tons better than any of the guys I've been stuck with for the past year. Just the fact that you smell good and look better puts you like twenty notches above them."
"And I thought you liked me for my brains." She said, falling easily back into their banter. It was the most at home she'd felt since her arrival.
"What can I say? You're the whole package." He teased her, but when her eyes lifted to his they both suddenly grew serious and awkward again. "So, uh, you didn't bring any nasty diseases back with you, did ya?" He changed the subject quickly.
"No, I was thoroughly examined and vaccinated." She assured him. "Actually, most of the diseases that afflicted us while we were there were a result of contaminated drinking water and infested food."
"That's… pleasant." He said, making a face. "And I thought that dehydrated meat was bad. No wonder you're so thin." He frowned, looking down at her. "I'm going to have to fatten you up."
"Hey!" She protested. "My weight is within the normal range for my height and age. And I am extraordinarily healthy."
"Yeah, well, that's nothing a few weeks of Chinese take-out at midnight won't fix." He decided, shifting and draping his arm around the back of the bench. "You get too frail there and you won't be able to attack innocent bystanders anymore, and then where would we be?"
"Well, they'd let us keep our jobs." She replied, frowning. "So probably still in D.C."
He stared at her and then laughed. "It's good to know you still do that."
"Do what?" She asked, confused.
"Nevermind, Bones." He said, shaking his head. "Nevermind."
"Ok." She said uncertainly, taking a sip of her coffee. Silence fell between them and she took the opportunity to steady herself. It was all happening so fast. The meeting, the talking, the easiness of being them. It was wonderful and terrifying at the same time.
Yet he hadn't given even the slightest indication that he still wanted more. He hadn't even been the one to hug her and he held his body carefully so that it didn't brush against hers the way it so often had before. It seemed clear that he had moved on completely. They were friends and partners. He didn't want anything beyond that from her anymore.
She couldn't blame him. Only herself. She'd had a chance and she hadn't been ready. Now that she thought she just might be ready, the chance had passed her by. It was no one's fault but her own and she would live with it. She would find a way to just be his friend again. Not the woman he loved.
"Hey, what are you thinking about?" He asked, studying her. "You disappeared on me. Can't have you doing that, you just came back to me."
She met his gaze and forced a smile. "I suppose I'm still a bit jetlagged." She said, shaking her head. "It's been a long few days. A long three hundred and sixty-five days really."
"Yeah." He nodded. "Can't argue with that." He patted her shoulder a little stiffly. "Well look, I was gonna see if you wanted to head to the diner, grab some breakfast, tell me all about your huge scientific find, but maybe you should go home and get some rest. You look tired."
"No." She said quickly. "No, breakfast sounds good."
He smiled. "Yeah, ok, great. If you're sure."
"Yes, I'm fine." She assured him. "I'm anxious to begin my old routine again. Going to the diner with you seems an effective way to start."
He stood, waiting for her as she followed him. "This feels sort of surreal." He confessed as they walked towards his car. "I can almost believe that the last year didn't happen. Like we're just as we've always been. Heading to the diner for lunch. If there was only a decomposed body, we'd be right back where we started." He chuckled.
She nodded, deep in thought. "Yes. Right back where we started."
He opened her door for her but stopped her before she got in. "Hey. I'm glad you stayed safe, Bones. I really am."
She smiled. "And I'm glad you're safe, Booth." Looking down she spoke softly. "You're my hero for coming back safely."
Had she been looking up she would have seen the pained look cross his face. But she wasn't looking up so she didn't see the look or the signals that he was about to hug her. She simply felt his arms wrap around her as he pulled her close for one long moment before releasing her. "Come on." He said, a forced lightness in his tone. "I'm buying."
"Booth you don't have to do that." She said as she lifted herself into his car, the sense of familiarity washing over her again.
He closed the door and walked over to his side, joining her. He cast a glance at her. "Don't argue." He ordered. "After all, the army pays the big bucks so I'm loaded."
She frowned. "I was under the impression that the pay was relatively modest."
He started up the car and rolled his eyes. "Sarcasm, Bones. Don't tell me I'm going to have to start over on all the progress you made."
"I suppose spending a year surrounded solely by scientists didn't do much for my ability to speak Booth." She mused, looking out the window.
He chuckled and glanced over at her. "Don't worry, we'll fix that soon enough. So come on, Bones. Tell me everything."
Ok, that's all for now folks. More to come soon! I hope you liked it and I hope you'll make me so excited by pressing that little review button and leaving me a note! =) Thanks for reading!