Author: AuditoryEden

Rating: K

Warnings: Angst mostly. Nothing major, no language or anything like that.

Notes: This is my personal hope for the canon. While I don't actually mind Hannah (but God is she pushy!), I don't really want them to get in too deep with each other. X_X I'm so doomed this season.

Ξ

Heart of the Matter

It's a Wednesday. Five o'clock, Wednesday afternoon. Daylight savings has just ended, so the sky is inky grey, shot with dull orange as the sun sinks beneath the DC skyline. The first thing he notices as he enters the apartment, was the conspicuous absence of her jacket.

Hannah always leaves her jacket by the door. There is a peg there, and unless she is out, there is always a sweater or wind breaker or something hung on that peg, like a small, nonchalant greeting between friends.

The next thing he notices is that her stacks of books have evaporated. She didn't have much to begin with, being one of those people who prides themselves on their ability to pack their life into a single carry-on suitcase, but in the months they've lived together, she's acquired things. Some he's given her, like the now-worn copy of Lies My Teachers Told Me, and some she's received from the girls of the Squint Squad. Some are her own purchases, the thrift-store cowboy boots she wears in the rain, and classier clothes she wears to Capitol Hill. But she has a library card, and she's forever checking out large piles of sappy romance, historical sources, classics. These are gone, and so are her notebooks, the hair elastics that fall out of her hair and end up on any available flat surface.

He reaches the kitchen, and it is there that he finds her sitting at the table, surrounded by three military-style duffles and a suitcase, with her head cradled in her hands.

"Hannah?" he asks tentatively. He knows what this looks like—she's leaving him, for whatever reason. There is barely a question in his voice.

"Seeley." She looks up at him, and then down again. "Sit, please?"

Booth takes a deep breath, sits down at the table, and asks, "Why?"

It's a long moment before she answers. When she finally does, the words snap against his skin like raw rubber bands, being plucked over and over by a ticked-off Hodgins.

Hannah rubs her eyes tiredly. "Because she loves you, Seeley." Her voice is tired; clearly she's thought about this, and debated it from every angle, and now she just wants to get it done. "Because Temperance loves you and you love her and frankly she needs you more than I ever could."

Booth tries not to look as though he's just been slapped in the face. "What are you talking about?" he asks her, his voice almost violent through the restrained tone. "What—"

"You know I'm friends with her, Seeley," she throws out, as though this is the answer to his question. When he doesn't reply, she continues, "I've heard her talk about you. She's just as much a girl as I am, and that girl—" here she inserted a quick, pointed glare "is in love with you."

"And what makes you think I love her," he asks, than quickly corrects himself: "What makes you think I'm in love with her?"

Hannah gives him the kind of condescending look he's used to getting from squints or Hacker, the one that makes him feel very much like the unpleasant bug that's just been flattened, and is now being dispassionately examined on the sole of a shoe. Other than this look, she makes no reply, and he steadily feels his face grow warmer. Is he thatobvious, he wants to ask, pleading like a small boy. Was it that easy to tell?

Booth changes tracks abruptly to keep from showing his discomfiture. "Do you think I don't love you?" he practically demands, his voice low and urgent.

"You love me," she responds instantly. The smile that breaks over her face is sad and almost a little petulant, and she's ready for this conversation to be over, but she knows she owes him the big explanation. "I know you love me. You've loved me since I gave you something to cling to in Afghanistan, after you'd left her. You've loved her since...I don't even know when. Somehow I doubt you do either. Relationships shouldn't be built in adversity, then see if they can whether normalcy." Her finger draws circles against the rings on the wood. "Love should be built in the lulls, then be tested against the storm. And I'm never gonna have that with you, Seeley."

They sit in silence for a moment more before she continues, "She told me about the System. Her foster dads, and how her parents left. She told me about how everyone she loves leaves her. Even you. I'm this independent woman, a free spirit, always poking my nose where it doesn't belong. I'll never need a man like she needs you, Seeley. No one needs you as much as that woman."

He's been looking down at the grain of the table for a while now, examining a burn from something Parker had done with matches and vinegar for science class. He looks up at the end of her sentence, and notices the tears on her face.

Hannah pulls herself up, wipes her face, and gathers her things. Booth just sits there, watching her breeze out of his life the same way she breezed into it, and he is sitting the same way when the door slams, not five minutes later.

After another hour or two sitting in his finely tailored suit at the ratty kitchen table, he picks up his phone and presses speed-dial two.

The call rings all the way through to voice-mail, but he starts talking after the beep.

"Hey, Bones? I was calling to see if maybe you wanted to get some Thai or something, finish up those reports..."

Ξ

Parting Comments: And thus Hannah leaves Booth...for Brennan's sake. My ideal situation, in which Hannah is both intelligent and kind, and Booth and Bones end up together anyway.

Really really hoping this is the way that canon goes. Also, ignore my early errors of tense coordination. I'll fix `em eventually.

Hugs and Kisses,

Eden