Consolation Prize

By LizD

Written 10/1/10 after first full viewing of Hannah

A/N: This may be too soon to think about, and she seems nice and all, but Pretty Reporter Chick needs to get back out on the journalistic road – and it has nothing to do with Booth & Brennan. Just saying …

"Do you understand, Seeley," she pleaded with tears streaming down her face. "Do you really?"

He nodded unable to form words. His eyes were red and wet too.

"Say the words," she pressed.

"I love you, Hannah," he said. "Of course I understand."

She wiped at her eye with the back of her hand. "I'm not made for the Washington Press Corps," she protested. "You knew that back in Afghanistan."

He shrugged a nod. He wanted to say that she knew it too but it was not time for recriminations.

"I had to give us a chance, you know."

"I do."

"And I am glad I did. I would have wondered for the rest of my life if I didn't. And these past weeks have been wonderful." She wiped at her other eye. "But I need to get back to the work – my work. I have too many stories yet to tell; too many injustices in the world that need to be brought into the light."

He nodded again.

"I love the passion you have for your work. I have it for mine too, do you understand?"

"I do." He stepped toward her hopefully to get her to stop justifying her decision. "When do you have to leave?"

"My plane leaves in an hour. If I don't leave right now, I won't make it."

"Can I give you a ride?" Booth's phone rang. He ignored it.

"You have to get that."

"No," he stated. "No, I don't."

"I can't do another good-bye with you, Seeley."

"Is it a good-bye?"

"Yes," she choked out. "Don't wait for me Seeley. I won't wait for you. You need to find someone who can love you, can share your work, can share your whole life, not just the little bits of the nights and weekends that aren't take up with cases. You have so much to give and I know that I am crazy for doing this, but I have to go."

"I know."

"I'll never find anyone like you."

He tried to smile and sound cavalier. "We will always have Afghanistan." He was anything but cavalier.

She broke into a sad smile. She hugged him hard, stroked the side of his face, grabbed her bag and ran out of the apartment.

"Bye," he said to no one. "Thanks for stopping by." He looked around. The only remnants that she was there were the dishes from breakfast, the crossword puzzle on the coffee table and that dumb little fig tree she got for him that first weekend at the Farmers' Market.

Booth was still standing in the same spot twenty minutes later when Brennan knocked on the open door frame. "Booth? I've been calling you." She stepped in tentatively. "Is your phone not working?" He slowly turned toward her. She knew something was wrong immediately. "What happened?"

"Hannah's gone."

"Gone? I don't understand."

"She took a job in South America … something about the rain forest … I don't really know. I'm sure we will see it on CNN."

"Oh," Brennan knew that there was more to Booth's upset than the fact that his lover left town. "When will she be back?"

"She's not coming back."

Brennan was at a loss for what to say. "I'm sorry."

Booth felt his muscles grow taut. He didn't want to accept Brennan's apology. He didn't want anyone's apology. He didn't deserve it. It was his fault. He had known from the day he met Hannah that they wouldn't be able to make a life together. She needed to be out in the world doing what she did. Living on the edge. Fighting the good fight. It was what he loved about her most. It was why he had not asked her to come to Washington in the first place. But she came anyway. She got his hopes up. But it wasn't her fault. The whole thing between them had been pretty much a whirlwind and like all weather had to change and they couldn't weather it.

It was a curse – his curse – to fall in love with strong, independent, career driven women who didn't need him or his white knight complex to save them. Truth be told, he didn't want the mini-van, the soccer practice and the Hamburger Helper Tuesdays. He liked his life. He was just lonely and serial monogamy wasn't going to cut it for him anymore.

"Booth?" Brennan called to him.

He let his eyes focus on his next-to-last love that had slipped through his fingers. He couldn't have her – not the way he wanted – but she was his partner. Theirs was a partnership, a friendship that had grown slowly over the course of years; one that wouldn't be destroyed by differing views, separation or other lovers. They could weather any storm. He told her that night – that fateful night when she rejected him – that he knew from the beginning. What did he know? That they would be together in the end? That they would grow old together? It was true. Brennan wouldn't leave him – not really and not forever. Even now, she was right there seeing him through this disaster as she would the next one and the next one and the next one, until he just stopped trying, which she probably wouldn't let him do either.

Hannah had been jealous of their closeness, of their partnership. It was true that there were parts of his life he would never share with another woman beside Brennan – even if they didn't work together. The relationship he had with Brennan was so much more than he had with another other woman. It was just missing that one part - that one little piece to make it whole. Was Booth wrong to want it all? Was he too greedy to think he could have it all?


"Why are you here?" he asked though not as curtly as the words were.

"We have a case," she explained. "Body found in the D.C. morgue."

"The morgue?"

"Someone apparently left it there, in a body bag, no tag, not a clerical error. Cam is already there, but apparently there is little or no soft tissue."

"Right." He moved to the door and waited for her to walk out in front of him. Anything even obvious mistaken case was enough to distract him.

She crossed and stopped when she was even with him. She looked up into his eyes and waited. When he looked at her she wrapped her arms around him, leaned in and held him very tightly in a full body embrace. "I'm sorry, Booth. I really am."

His arms slowly came around her and he hugged her back. It was the first time he had touched her in a long time, she felt good; thinner, stronger, more in control – if that made sense. In the past when he had hugged her it was typically because she was scared or sad or as a greeting after a long time apart. But this time it was her – in control – hugging him; comforting him. It was different. "Well, I guess I am not supposed to have that kind of love in my life, huh?"

"I don't believe that."

"You don't?" He let her go and stepped back.

"I believe you can have anything you want."

He almost laughed at her. "You believe that for me … or you believe that about everyone including yourself."

"I do … forever one." She stepped out into the hall and waited as he locked the door.

"Since when?"

"A while now," she hedged. "I love you."

He snapped his attention to her. "Excuse me?"

"I said, I love you."

"Right … in that professional, partner kind of way. Not the same thing, Bones."

"No," she said matter-of-factly. "In spite of our obvious differences, and our working partnership, I have come to realize that we have more commonalities than differences, and that we could successfully engage in a more than professional relationship."

"What are you suggesting?" He was at a loss as to how to respond.

"Nothing," she defended. "You commented that you were not meant to have that kind of love in your life, and I merely wanted you to know that you have that kind love in your life. My love." She turned to walk down the hall.

"Bones!" He called after her.

"I know you love me too and after a suitable mourning period for your relationship with Hannah - if you want to – we can discuss it further."


"Or not. I understand my rejection last April could be something unforgivable. But it won't change how I feel about you."

He was stunned. "Do we have a case?"

"Yes, we do." She dangled her keys out in front of him. "Shall I drive?"

She was like no one he had ever known or probably would ever know. He snatched the keys out of her hand. "I'm driving."

"It's a manual transmission," she reminded him. "Can you handle it?"

"Yeah, Bones. I can handle it."

"Are you OK to drive?"

"I'm fine to drive."

"I am an excellent driver."

"Ok Rainman." He tossed her the keys. "Show me what you got." He smiled broadly, it was returned. They climbed into the car and sped off to their next case – partnership and friendship intact, and maybe something else on the horizon.

A/N: SO … How long do you think the "suitable mourning period" will be?