Consolation Prize

By LizD

Chapter 7 – In Defense of Booth

A/N: I am still not pleased with the execution of season 6. To be fair to the TPTB I have only watched each ep once (a first for me) and am reserving judgment of the spoilers that come my way (I don't scour). I do understand (and appreciate) that the PLAN for this year was to give Brennan a makeover which somehow necessitated the Hannah/Brennan and Booth/Hannah relationships to facilitate Brennan shift her paradigm. HOWEVER I feel that Booth is getting short shrift. His paradigm shift has not been addressed (except in interviews) as to why it was IN CHATACTER for Booth to make such a drastic change (or maybe I missed it). I completely agree that if they left it "status quo," Season 6 would have been pretty yawn worthy and if they let Booth and Brennan fall in love and in to bed and live happily ever after it would out of character too and boring too. They were in a tough spot and I suppose I should give them my blind/silent support as they are the experts and I am just a viewer (one of 9+ million apparently). But I get to have an opinion, and I wish Season 6, Eps 1-6 were executed … better.

The purpose of this additional chapter to a story I had given up on is to give a bit of credence to Booth and his choice of Hannah (aka his "consolation prize") in my frustrated opinion. I will say that I am not happy with Booth this year either nor the WTF looks he has been shooting Brennan this year and the end of last year, but I will try to do him justice. Booth is not a talker. Booth doesn't like to EXPRESS his feelings, but he has them make no mistake. This maybe a bit to INTERNAL MONALOGUE, but I will try to stay in character yet get Booth's thought processes out.

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It had been weeks since they got back from Disneyworld. Booth was (dare he think it?) happy with the changes. They weren't drastic. Work and the partnership were great. Brennan was focused when working a case. She didn't easily flip from personal to professional. And that was fine with Booth. What he has missed most in their seven months apart was the work experience and Bones was integral to that. The work had been strained when Hannah was there and remained off after she left. They finally found their groove again during that serial killer case.

The timing hadn't been right as yet for them to actually cross the line into the bedroom, but he was Ok with that too. It would happen when it happened. There was no reason to rush it. He was actually enjoying the subtle changes: calls that had no work talk, dinners that were romantic, movies, walks, the light in her eyes when she smiled at him. She didn't try to hide her feelings any more, she hadn't completely embraced them, but she was no longer in denial. They had always been physical with each other (arm around the shoulder, hand to the forearm, hand to lower back), but now if felt more personal, intimate. There was no need to disguise a hug as a "guy hug". And then there was the kissing. Sometimes he would pick her up and he would get a kiss hello. Often she would initiate a kiss good night that left him longing for more. What Booth enjoyed most was THINKING about kissing her at odd times, and occasionally following through: in the bone room, in his office, in the SUV. He thought he would have worried about her more when out in the field, but that wasn't true. She didn't need to be told to 'stay back' or 'get down.' She knew. She reacted to him naturally. It was the same in the interrogation room. They seemed in sync.

This was not to say that the bickering stopped. Bones was still Bones and Booth too. They would never agree on certain subjects and spirited debates were going to be natural between them. She smiled more when she challenged him. He smiled more when he challenged her back. It was better.

They had planned a weekend away but the logistics was becoming difficult: his responsibilities, hers. Booth had switched weekends with Rebecca to take Parker so Bones and he could go the following weekend (he didn't tell Rebecca why). Parker had left his book bag at Booth's apartment. Rebecca came to pick it up. Booth was on the phone with Brennan when Rebecca arrived. He motioned for her to come in while he hung up with her.

"Yes … yes … no bring the file with you … I'll be there in twenty … What? … Have Hodgins put a move on, we are not going to let this guy slip through our fingers." He laughed and shot a quick look at Rebecca before turning away. "Yeah … yeah ... yeah OK. Look, I gotta go. Rebecca is here. … I will. Right … OK … yeah, me too. Bye." He turned to Rebecca and looked a little embarrassed. "Hey."

"You too what?"

"Huh?"

"You said 'me too' to your PARTNER … or is she more than a partner?"

"Rebecca," he scolded.

"Booth, I know you … know you better than you know yourself … So you and Dr. Brennan finally got it together?"

He smiled and nodded. "Yeah. Looks that way."

"It's about time."

He gave her a funny look.

"I'm not jealous Seeley. I'm happy for you." She pondered her next comment and thought she would say it anyway. "Hannah wasn't good for you. I don't know what you ever saw in her."

"I'm not going to defend Hannah to you, Rebecca."

"Hey … you don't need to defend yourself. Just admit you made a mistake if not to me, then to yourself."

"She left me, Rebecca. Why is it any of your concern?"

"For the same reason Tim is important to you. If you married her, she would have been spending time with Parker?"

"We weren't close to getting married."

"You let her move in. We never lived together even after I got pregnant."

"If she had had her own place she wouldn't have moved in." He shook his head. "I don't want to talk about Hannah."

"Just tell me what you saw in her."

He shrugged. "She was smart, funny, dedicated, happy and easy to be around."

"Did you make the first move?"

"I don't remember."

"Yes, you do … you know that you didn't. I know that you wouldn't."

"How do you think you know that?"

"I know you Seeley. You were in a war zone. I realize you weren't actually enlisted, but you were working for the Army. You wouldn't have fraternized with a civilian unless it was her idea. And I am assuming she pushed, pushed hard, and made it very easy for you."

Her argument had merit. He shrugged again. "Doesn't matter anymore, does it?"

"It might to Dr. Brennan. Didn't she feel betrayed when you brought this pretty blonde YOUNG ball of fire home to DC?"

"I didn't bring her home, she followed me," he corrected. "And Bones didn't want me."

"Did you ask?"

"Yes, I asked. She turned me down. What was I supposed to do? I had to move on."

"Of course you did."

"Besides, Bones didn't contact me the whole time she was in Maluku. How was I supposed to know that -"

"I bet that pissed you off."

"No," he stated. "But it was pretty rude."

"So Hannah was to get back at Dr. Brennan?"

"No," he protested. "I didn't say that."

"You didn't have to. I know you Seeley. You did the same thing to me."

"What?"

"Don't you remember Lydia?"

"No?"

"Yes you do. Lydia. The red head with sea green eyes. You dated her in my second trimester. She was a lawyer or a law clerk … something. After I turned your proposal down you went out and found the first woman you could find to fall in love with."

"That's not true."

"Think about it."

"Lydia was someone I had known for years." So he did remember her.

"Yet you didn't start dating her until I turned you down."

"I don't rebound, Rebecca."

"Sure you do. We all do. You have been in love with Brennan for years and when you fall Seeley you fall hard. I'll bet it hurt when she turned you down. I'll bet it felt good to have some pretty young thing fall in love with you; very validating for your poor bruised ego."

"I don't want to talk about this."

"Well you should talk about it with someone."

"Why?"

"Because it's not over."

"What?"

"Hannah will be back. You are too big a catch to let slip through her fingers. Now she may be young and wild and think that she has a whole world open to her and that you were tying her down, but the truth of the matter is, she will be back."

"She already came back and I said no."

"Well, good … good for you. Have you talked to Dr. Brennan about it?"

"I told Bones, yes."

"Look Seeley, I am not saying that you didn't love Hannah in some way. But you would not have made a life with her."

"Evidenced by the fact that she left."

"No, evidenced by the fact that as HURT as you were by Brennan's rejection, you still wanted to keep her in your life. And you still do. You never would have gone to Afghanistan is she were here. You would not have broken your partnership. Hell, you probably would have actually dated anyone seriously while she was in your daily life."

"There is no way to know that."

"Or if she wanted to move to the other side of the world. You wouldn't have gone."

"That is not because of Bones; that is because of Parker."

"Yet, you went to Afghanistan when Dr. Brennan left for Indonesia and Parker was still here."

He shook his head. She was twisting his works.

"What if Hannah made you make a choice – her or Dr. Brennan."

"She wouldn't have done that."

"As soon as she realized that you had some pretty strong feelings for your partner she would have. Maybe that is why she left."

"This is all water under the bridge."

"Until you and Dr. Brennan discuss it, and work through it, it will always be there between you."

"What is it you think we need to discuss?" He was more than a little frustrated.

"How you felt when she rejected you. How you felt when she chose to go to Maluku. Why you hooked up with Hannah so quickly. And how you can be in love with one woman one day and another the next and then back to the first without missing a beat."

"I never stopped loving Bones."

Rebecca smiled. "I know that, Seeley. Does Dr. Brennan?"

"This is not your concern."

"It concerns you, which concerns Parker, which concerns me."

"Fine."

"For the record. Parker likes Dr. Brennan. I do too. And Parker didn't like Hannah."

"I'm not going to discuss this anymore with you. Thanks for coming by." He led her to the door.

"Seeley, you know that I love you. I always will. Hannah was cotton candy and Dr. Brennan is a full meal. You're a good man and deserve some happiness."

"I was happy until you showed up."

"Go for the meal, Seeley."

"I am."

"All I am saying is that you really need to understand why you do what you do. It makes a difference. And Dr. Brennan is way too literal. She will need to be coached through the sticky stuff, but I think the extra effort will be worth it."

"Goodbye Rebecca."

"Bye Seeley."

Booth closed the door and sunk down on to the coach. Rebecca was exhausting at times but she might have had a point. Was Bones still holding back from him? Was she worried that he was fickle with his affections? Why was he with Hannah? Was it just because she was easy to love? Was it out of spite or to sooth a bruised ego? He forced himself not to feel guilty when he came back. Convinced himself that Bones wouldn't care, but there was a part of him that hoped she was jealous. When Bones didn't react, did he push the thing with Hannah harder than he would have if Bones wasn't picture? It was odd that he let her move in, but to be really honest, he never expected Hannah to stay. She was on assignment in Washington. She was a nomad. She hopped from place to place to place. Hell, she moved in with a couple of carry-on bags and a laptop. She was a guest. When he left Afghanistan, he had every intention of re-partnering with Bones. That wasn't even a question. What would he have done if Hannah had stayed? If Hannah had demanded that he find another partner?

He thought for a long moment. He would have chosen Bones. Did she know that? Maybe. Should she? Yes.

A knock on his door startled him. He checked his watched. Damn, he was late. He opened the door expecting Rebecca and found Brennan. Yes, he needed to tell her that she was his priority and always had been. Would he have to say it in words? Or could he just show her?

She started to question why he was still there and late for their meeting. He engulfed her in an embrace and kissed her right there in the hall. It wasn't just any kiss. It was an expression of truth, an apology, and explanation. Brennan felt it all and was startled by it.

"Wow."

Booth was pretty proud of that kiss himself.

"Something you want to talk about?" she asked.

"You know that I love you."

"I do. I love you also."

"Do we need to discuss Hannah?"

"Are you missing her?"

"No, but I guess I want to know if you have feelings about her. Concerns that we need to talk about."

"I understand that I turned you down. I assumed that you meant what you said when you said you had to move on. Hannah was an appropriate partner for you."

"Does that bother you?"

"It bothers me that I nearly lost an opportunity to be with you in an intimate relationship."

"I want you to know something else."

"OK."

"I never stopped loving you."

"I believe you told me that before."

"Ok, Hannah was not payback."

"You are not that cruel, Booth."

He smiled. "You are so unlike any other woman I have ever known. This … right here … could have been a debate for days and something that would fester for months, years, decades."

"Why?"

"You're asking me? It is your gender."

"Well I imagine it has to do with self-esteem and jealousy –"

He cut her off with another knee weakening kiss. "I don't want a lecture."

"It's a good topic."

"Yeah, sure it is."

"I have some books I could give you. There is one about men being Martians and women being Venusians, which of course it totally absurd because no human life could live on either Mars or Venus."

"Right, Bones. Come on … let's go."

"Booth," she stopped him. "We don't have to go."

"Sure we do."

"The appointment was changed … we don't have to be there for several hours. That's what I came here to tell you."

"Oh." He was at a loss. "So … now what?"

She pushed him back into the apartment. "Why don't we discuss the difference between men and woman and interpersonal relationships … non-verbally."

He smiled. "No lecture?"

"Lab work. Completely HANDS ON."

"Ooooh, I like that idea."

The door closed with Booth and Brennan on the inside with several hours to kill.