DISCLAIMER: Bones isn't mine. If they were mine, it'd get pretty fricking fluffy, pretty fricking fast. XD

She'd never leave him.

He swore it. Over and over, to the other agents in the office who'd heard he'd be flying solo again shortly. To the squints, who kept looking at him with a kind of distant sympathy, except Angela, who wouldn't meet his gaze, wouldn't stop to chat. And he wouldn't think about what that meant.

He swore it to himself, when Brennan stopped calling to "check in" after she got home every night, and only met his jokes with a sad smile. When she stiffened, slightly, when he touched her, and wouldn't let the shields down around him, clinging to her privacy so pitifully he'd back off for fear of deepening the bruises he knew to be already on her heart.

She was hurting, bad, and he didn't know how it fix it, even less than he knew how the hell he was going to get by without her.

He already knew that the things his head told him weren't necessarily real. And even though he kept swearing she'd never leave, his heart told him he'd sure as hell better fix what was up with her, before he did something stupid.

Like telling her he loved her.

She was the one thing besides Parker he knew, anymore. And because he knew her, he knew that kissing her was a bad idea, though various parts of his libido tried to convince him otherwise regularly . Thinking about her triumphant, cocky smile when something in a case had clicked for her was a bad idea. Trying to get her to stay by declaring his love for her was a bad idea, because he knew she'd only run farther and faster from him.

If you love someone, let them go... Bullshit, in his official opinion, but unfortunately in this case his official opinion didn't make it any less true.

When finally she came to him, telling him in clipped tones, reasonably suggesting she rip the universe wide open and break this thing they had together, he nodded, calmly.

Yes, Bones, this is great for you. No Bones, I'll be fine. Sure, Bones, ripping my soul from my chest and packing it to take with you sounds like a great idea.

He would have yelled. Ranted and raved, and behaved as nuts as the loonies he kept locking away, if the emotion in her eyes had been as cool and distant as her tone. That would have snapped him, taken him right past Nutsville and straight to Psycho Town.

But her eyes pleaded with him to see her, to let her go, to understand.

Because she'd looked at him that way, without speaking had promised she would come back, he nodded, and smiled.

And let her leave him.

AUTHOR'S NOTE: Mkay, I know this doesn't follow the Bones story arc one hundred percent, but I had this in my head during the promos for the last episode of Season 5...and I miss them, here in NZ.