Disclaimer: I don't own Bones, et al.

Author's Note: So … this is my first shot at fandom writing for Bones, please be kind and let me know what you all think.

This is a small tribute piece for my dear talented friend, KT (wamzwrites) – knowing you KT, you may have expected Apes' style suss (I guess we'll see how this goes first and then get to that) – but in the end, this is what came out. I can't say how proud I am of you for kicking that test's ass (or maybe I can, it forced me to take a leap here and post this). xoi

The Traitor of the Heart

Seeley Booth closed his eyes – one more day in purgatory, his heart on fire – he could do this, he thought now as his heart beat in tandem with the all too-familiar sound of the machete-style blades of the sniper chopper – whip, whip, whipup, up, up and out of harm's way … there were no casualties this time – 'they said you could save people' – came Temperance's voice, whip, whip, whip … the chopper carried him and his brigade to safer ground.

He could do this, survive for twenty-four more hours – his stomach dry-heaved, his head heavy with headache – fragments of the enemy line and fire they had just flown out of rushed through his head now and much like the true soldier he was trained to be – he fact-checked, head-counted, eyes shut tight – he could do this, whip, whip, whip, live in this self-imposed purgatory for one more day, just twenty-four more hours.

His frayed heart lurched forward – twenty-four more hours, a lot could happen in twenty-four hours – he heaved a gulp of the arid dusty air that filled the temporary enclave of the chopper's cavernous belly. He swallowed hard – whip, whip, whip – he was stuck in the vacuum of time, time stood still and so did he.

For he was stuck … stuck in a limbo of his own creation … just stuck.

Stuck somewhere between trying to survive and living with the guilt – the pure unadulterated guilt that had wedged itself into his heart the moment he turned away from Bones at the airport twelve months ago – because in that moment it was true – whip, whip, whip – he turned on himself. He was a traitor, and not to the country for which he stood (both tall and proud) – but a traitor to himself and to his heart – and to his steadfast love for Temperance Brennan.

The chopper began its quick descent – they were back at the 'base' – back to business as usual, back for a final round of debriefing –back to the back-slapping – they were back and safe, but not yet sound. The engines died down, the soldiers opened their weary eyes – Booth looked at the men, surveying each of them – doing his best to silently check on them, for he was the curator of their minds and bodies and spirits … he did his best, it was all he had most days – 'they said you could save people' – his heart shimmied, he stood on his 'sea' legs, the last man to exit the cavern.

###

Booth awoke in the dead of night, his abandoned heart racing … this throat dry ... his neck stiff – for he'd been under attack – ducking down as wild sniper fire rang above his head. It was now or never – whip, whip, whip – there was an escape, there was always an escape, a way out, a way in – another way to forget everything he left behind – everything he let walk away from him without a fight.

Instinctively, he hunkered down, the army-issue bed linens clung to his skin, night sweats – they were the worst, commonplace – but the worst all the same. His mind wild with sleep and dream-laced nightmares still, still, stilldark rooms, cocktail drinks, her heart-shaped lips pressed against his – his stolen memories, his forgotten dreams, colliding with his 'real' life deep within his mind's eye now, where they would reside for all time, taunting the traitor who also lived there.

Temperance, Temperance, kiss, kiss, kiss, whip, whip, whip – he cradled her skull through her wild tresses, her nimble fingers moving down his back to his ass where she firmly held him inside the moment with her, his cock submersed within the familiar depths of her molten core, her dazzling eyes sparkling with love and mischief, her cheeks heated with passionate haze, her chest heaving in tandem with his – questions pinged his mind as he stared at his woman, his partner in life, she was safe, someone wanted to kill her, they could lose The Lab along with their lives – wake up, wake up!

But it was just a dream, there was a tumor, always a tumor – whip, whip, whip – went the heavy blades of the ceiling fan above to let the dreamscapes go, Booth rubbed his hands over his eyes and craned his neck back and then to the side, the fucking dream of the dream was always the same! He exhaled, releasing a breath of air he didn't know he was holding onto, his eyes falling on his belongings now – his bags packed, his year of service neatly folded and sealed within, purgatory in a bag, one he'd never have to open again – for everything had a place in the world, even his bag of purgatory (the back of his closet would suffice), even a man who betrayed his heart … had a place, didn't he?

He supposed he'd find out, for in less than six hours he would take off – leave the desert and the dust and the bloodshed and the glory and the purgatory behind – and find out if his abandoned heart would forgive him and find the capacity to trust him once again … he closed his eyes on those thoughts, for in the end, he could see now that he did what he had to do to survive (her avoidance) and so did she.

Right or wrong.

(He let her go.)

Fact or fiction.

(He let himself go.)

Science or religion.

(He wanted her faith.)

Book or street smart.

(He still had no answers.)

###

Because no, it turned out that there were no answers – because shit happened in life – someone or something is there one moment and then gone the next.

Like the fucking coffee cart for example – this symbol, this symbolic mating ground on which Seeley Booth had imagined his reunion with Temperance Brennan – oftentimes dreaming himself to sleep or coaxing himself awake with visions of this one whimsical chance of a moment in which he would seal off those acts of treason he so carelessly bestowed upon his heart and she would come to reason with science and logic and her ill-fated feelings for him – a unique moment in time where they would concede on equal ground – their forefather looming in the distance along with the waving American flag he loved so much.

But the vision was gone now, he sighed in defeat, home for less than forty-eight hours and already he was disenchanted … reminded of the shambles he left in his wake … once again reminded of the aftershocks he felt from her absence in his life.

Home … yes, he'd been home for less than two days and within those long hours, he had done a fair amount of sleeping, only to awake with this visionary moment on his mind – his own logic stumbling over the irony of the missing coffee cart now – suddenly terrified to even contemplate what kind of argument he would get from Bones on this tragic turn of events: would the missing coffee cart somehow derail their agreed-upon reunion?

Extreme fatigue washed over him like a tidal wave now – he would hash this out in his brain if he had the power to do so, but he didn't – so he sat down on a nearby bench and waited … waited for his fate … for his destiny to show up.

Booth closed his eyes – seismic energy seemingly unannounced and undetected by radar swarmed all around him, laden with fatigue, he was dizzy, his muscles and nerve-endings taut and angry still – while the world as he knew it spun on its side now, capsized … the missing coffee cart, the impetus. Fuck, was all he could think – he took a deep breath of the fresh air and coughed aloud, jarring his eyes open – his lungs and throat still expecting dust particulates, his brain fuzzy with fact over fiction: yes, something was there, always there, ever-present – like the coffee cart – until it wasn't.

The day was bright, his tee-shirt and jeans just enough, he had adorned his 'cocky' belt buckle like no time had passed – 'they say you could save people', and he did – it was that simple. He shivered, his skin over-sensitive to the crisper air now, for one year of covering up in stifling desert conditions did nothing but imprison his flesh and bone and heart. Day after day, shrouded in a sea of earth-toned protective gear, he was comfortable … his was camouflaged … he was surviving … and keeping his eyes on the prize – this most cherished day in the future – where he would finally make things right with his heart and ask Bones once again to take a chance on him … to believe in the evolution of love and of that principle that 'absence makes the heart grow fonder'.

He hated this, the waiting game, he glanced at his watch – five minutes, purgatory would live on for five more minutes, until it just wouldn't – it was finite now, defined by five minutes, for Bones was always on time. Always. And in her last communication via email there was no question as to her intentions to show up – and leave it up to fate – her words, not his. Stated simply and eloquently without the admission of defeat – she seemed to write to him from her heart – a small space within herself she too had abandoned.

Sliding his PDA open, he scrolled for the message now, half tempted to send her a text message alerting her to the karmic twist of fate – the anomaly of the missing coffee cart – but the idea was derailed when he landed on her message, five days old now, he read her words, despite knowing the message via memory.

###

Booth,

I will see you in five days. Five days that might feel like another lifetime away.

And while we have communicated as promised, I have intentionally omitted certain details from my messages to you. Five days, a lot could happen in five days, a lot can change in five days, don't you think? I mean, whole civilizations can be dismantled in five days, one major disaster … and life could be … over.

But … I know; now I know one thing that will not change in the next five days.

The logical part of me, the part of me you like to argue with thinks I should tell you now … just in case something does happen to me before then, for it would be the responsible thing to do. Another part of me – this small slice of my innate self, this part that has been amassed to you, for you – wants to leave it up to fate for once.

Did you read that Booth?

Fate, I'll leave it up to fate and I will see you in five days (at the coffee cart).

Bones

###

Booth let his eyes rest on his partner's words – his head spun with the implications set within – for he was stumped, street smart, able to read most people within minutes … but he was dumb-founded by this message – her prose both playful and serious – and it was the playful essence that had him so tipped to the side. And so now as he waited, he couldn't help but wonder just what happened to Temperance on Maluku and then he smiled – he closed the PDA, he'd find out soon enough – he sighed and stood then, scanning the area far and wide now, spotting a curious scene a ways down on the driveway as he did.

Without thinking he began to walk toward a police cruiser situated along the far corner of the square, one he would have surely dismissed if not for the wobbly coffee cart attached to its trailer hitch. Looking on with interest now, Booth noticed a man step from the car, the officer coming around to meet him. The men were beleaguered by something – acute anxiety and distress etched along their faces as they retreated to the back of the cruiser to unhitch the cart, stress evident in their necks as they pulled the hitch free – both men stepped back, admiring their handiwork.

Still entranced by this oddity and certainly wondering if this could cart could be a small miracle – a savior for him in an argument of fate and circumstances he might have with Temperance – he was shocked by the shrill of his cell phone as it rang out while he walked closer and closer to the scene bridging the gap with every step he took.

"Booth," he answered without looking at the caller ID.

"Booth," came Temperance's voice.

"Bones, are you okay?" he asked, true to form … she was right on time, if not physically, then technically, she was.

"I'm fine – the coffee cart – the man, the nice man from the coffee cart … he was robbed and he's not going to be there!" she blurted into the phone.

"But … well, I think, I think… see him now, I see a police cruiser," he smiled, keeping his eyes trained on the men – he didn't know what to make of it – how this man's tardiness, his being robbed changed their karmic fate – he had no idea what it meant, all he cared for was hearing Brennan's voice on the line.

"Then why don't I see you?" she asked – a small playful tone adorned her quiet voice – one he'd never heard before.

"Where are you?" he asked, searching the crowd now, his heart raced … where was she?

"I'm … I'm in the police cruiser – I wanted to be early Booth – I wasn't sure what to wear, what the weather would be like, I wanted to be here …but I saw the assailant and knew this was … our guy, our coffee cart and I … had to help him …," her voice trailed off.

He held his breath as the passenger door opened and she stepped from the car – his heart on fire – his mind overwhelmed with the wild and uncanny events of this reunion as a taut fishing line reeled him closer and closer to this woman he had tried his hardest to banish from his heart – but he was traitor after all – his heart pulling him harder and harder now as he started to jog toward her, noticing now that she too headed for him even faster, eyes locked on one another, he stared at her now, awestruck by her mere presence.

Her much longer hair moved freely in the wind, her whole physique more relaxed – her coat open, her more casual blouse billowed in the current – her eyes wide and happy, the apples of her alabaster cheeks perfectly blushed … his heart gave out and in that moment, Booth swore on his life that Temperance Brennan never looked more gorgeous or more like true self in all the years he'd known her (including this one they just spent apart from one another).

They were standing face to face in less than a minute – two minutes late, two minutes had never meant so much – Booth pressed his lips together and tried to quell his racing heart. He saw Temperance's breathing hitch as she reached for him – pulling him to her like it was the most natural thing in the world for her to do – where he allowed himself to breathe her in, the fresh air filling his lungs, the dust and desert all but gone now as he lost himself in the only woman he knew he couldn't live without.

"I missed you Booth," Temperance whispered into his ear, her voice, so soft, so delicate … her words meant for his ears only. "I missed you so much … it hurt sometimes and nothing I did changed that – not one day or minute or even a whole year – my heart missed you, I felt it Booth … I really did … you have to believe me," she cried softly as she held on tight.

"I do … believe you … and I missed you too, Bones," he said into the crook of her neck, his lips pressed against her sweet flesh, unable to suppress his instincts, he kissed her there, pulse, pulse. "I was a traitor to my heart – I let you go and I went too – but I didn't want to," he confessed softly, finally … forgiving himself.

The old friends pulled back from their embrace and smiled, Booth's arms still low around her back as they stared at each other, silently marveling over the subtle changes they immediately noticed in one another – changes that others might never ever see – changes that somehow would permeate their past, but propel them into the future … together.

For they were together …finally together, right where they were meant to be.

And so maybe it's true, they realized then … maybe … just maybe … absence does make the heart grow fonder – and maybe visual markers for the future don't always come to fruition like they do deep within the mind's eye – maybe fate and destiny get in the way sometimes … or change the path en-route to the rendezvous point – but really, who cares – as long the heart can follow the logic in the end… it'll all work out, even with ill-fated delay of a coffee cart.

-END-