AN: Thanks as always to my beta CalleighAryn for her suggestions on this story, and for loaning me a computer to post it after mine decided to play dead.
Washington Dulles International Airport was as crowded and chaotic as Brennan had come to expect from years of traveling. Yet today she wasn't here to travel. She wasn't the one leaving family and friends behind to fly off to some exotic location. She wasn't the one responsible for breaking the heart of a good man. A very good man. Not this time.
"I really appreciate you taking the time to meet with me," Hannah had said the week before when Brennan sat across from her at a table in The Founding Fathers. "I know how busy you must be as a scientist and author. I have to tell you, I borrowed Seeley's copy of Bred in the Bone-a very well used copy, by the way- and spent all Saturday reading it. I thought it was brilliant."
"Thank you." Although the thought of Hannah reading a book Brennan had written with herself and Booth in mind was rather unsettling, she forced herself to smile.
"The science was really fascinating. And you captured Seeley's appearance and personality so perfectly."
Brennan's cheeks reddened. "Why does everyone assume that Andy is Booth? Andy is a completely fictional character."
"Of course he is," Hannah said with a knowing smile.
"Is that why you wanted to see me? To discuss my books?" Brennan was annoyed that she had left the lab early for such a trivial reason. "You said it was important."
"It is." Hannah took a sip of a pink drink. "I know how close you and Seeley are, so I wanted you to know that we're-"
Brennan's mind raced as she imagined possible ways Hannah could complete that sentence. We're getting married. We're having a baby. We're leaving D.C. Say goodbye to your partner and best friend. Say goodbye to the hope that someday you'd be more.
I've lost him, and I have no one to blame but myself. He offered me his heart (metaphorically speaking) on a golden platter (or is it silver?), but I let fear -
Breaking up? "Oh. I'm sorry. Why? He loves you, and you said that you loved him too."
"I do love him, Temperance. I thought I loved him enough to make it work. But I can't change who I am. I've always been a nomad and always will be. I need to go where the stories are, and he needs to stay here with his son…and with you. He has feelings for you, you know."
Brennan laughed even as her heart ached. "No. He's been very happy with you. He had feelings for me once, but he's clearly moved on."
"He's tried to move on," Hannah argued. "But I don't think he has. Not entirely. There's something in his voice when he talks about you."
"Something?" Brennan hated impreciseness in language. "Can you be more specific?"
Hannah's mind grasped for the right words but came up empty. "I can't really describe it, but my award winning journalist instincts tell me that he's not as over you as he thinks he is."
"I acknowledge your expertise in the field of journalism, but your evidence is lacking."
"Maybe. Maybe not. Either way, I'm starting a new assignment next Tuesday. My flight leaves from Dulles at seven in the morning. Seeley's coming to send me off. It'd be nice if he had a friend waiting for him after I left, don't you think?"
Brennan thought of Booth standing on the docks after she had said goodbye to Sully. She remembered how he had put his arm around her and talked of 'eventually'. He didn't touch her like that these days. No one did. "Yes. That would be nice."
It was just after seven now, and an overhead monitor confirmed that Hannah's flight had left on time. As Brennan walked towards the security checkpoint, she scanned the steady stream of people passing by: well groomed businessmen and women pulling a single suitcase on wheels; parents with small children who seemed to be carrying enough luggage for a month long journey; college students with backpacks as big as they were. Eventually she spotted a familiar silhouette. Booth's back was to her as he stared out a window at the departing planes, but she had no doubt it was him.
He turned at the sound of her voice. "Bones. What are you-how did you even know I was here?"
"I saw Hannah last week at The Founding Fathers and she gave me her flight information."
Booth was quiet for a few moments. "Oh. Right. She told me she ran into you."
Silence fell between them again as Brennan wondered what she should say. "Are you…okay?" She realized it was a stupid question the second she voiced it. While she didn't have her partner's skill in reading facial expressions, even she could see the pain in her partner's eyes.
But Booth, being Booth, didn't tell her it was a stupid question, or lash out at her in anger. Instead his broad shoulders rose and fell as he let out a deep sigh. "I really thought that Hannah and I had something special. That maybe we'd get married someday. Maybe we'd have a couple kids and a dog and a nice house in a good neighborhood. You know, the whole American dream. But I was just kidding myself. The things I've done…the lives I've taken…I don't deserve that dream."
"You do!" Her emphatic declaration caused passerby to turn and stare. Seeing Booth's embarrassment, she lowered her voice and continued. "You're a good man, Booth, and you very much deserve to have any dream fulfilled."
Booth lowered his eyes. "That's kind of you to say, Bones."
"Look at me, Booth. Please?" Slowly he did as she asked. "I didn't say it to be kind. I said it because it's true."
"So you honestly think that someday I'll find someone who could love me for 30 or 40 or 50 years?" His voice cracked slightly as he spoke.
Blinking back tears as she remembered the last time Booth said those words, Brennan decided to take a leap of faith. Metaphorically, of course. "I believe there is someone out there who could conceivably love you for that length of time."
Not quite believing her, he faked a smile. "Maybe."
"Not maybe. There is someone, and when I say someone… I mean me." She saw Booth's eyes widen in surprise and feared he was going to tell her that he didn't love her anymore. "But I understand if I'm too late. Rebecca once told me her belief that every couple has a moment where they can catch fire or not. She said that you and she missed your moment. Have we missed our moment too?" She tried to keep her face and voice neutral, but a few traitorous tears escaped her eyes and slid down her cheeks.
Booth reached out a hand to touch Brennan's cheek. It had been a long while since he'd touched her like that, yet it felt completely normal. Natural. Perfect. "No, Bones. We haven't missed our moment. It's still out there, waiting for us to grab it."
Brennan let out a sigh of relief. "It makes me very happy to hear you say that."
"You've made me happy too, Bones," he said, no longer needing to fake a smile. His hand began stroking her wet cheek. "I do want a relationship with you, but I'm going to need some time to deal with my feelings for Hannah."
"Of course. Take as much time as you need. You spent years waiting for me to be ready; I can wait for you now."
Booth wrapped Brennan up in one of his signature guy hugs, reminding her how much she had missed them. As she lost herself in his warmth, he whispered: "I promise I'll make it worth the wait."
Thanks for reading! All comments are greatly appreciated.