A/N - Many, many thanks to the lovely jsq for agreeing to play beta again for this one. She's incredibly talented and a joy to work with. I couldn't have done this or the original Mistletoe without her.
This will be another three-shot with Hannah, Booth and Brennan POVs. It'll be in that order. No changies or take-backs. I have a plan. I blame jsq for helping me to better focus my writing and actually put together a quasi-outline. Apparently, you can teach an old dog new tricks...*wink*
Disclaimer - I don't own it. It isn't mine. If it was, Gemlily5 would be getting her Christmas episode and the results of the last 10 minutes of it might look something like this...
I shut my computer down. Yet another mundane story put to bed. But it's worth it. He's worth it. The hallways of the paper are dimly lit. Slipping into my coat I make my way toward the elevator with a cheerful smile at the receptionist. She's likely the only other person left here at this hour.
As my gloved finger pushes the button for the ground floor an idea hits: I'll round up Temperance and invite her to have a holiday drink with us. I know Seeley's been worried about her lately. While I don't fully understand his relationship with his partner, I love the man. I love him and I want him to be happy.
At first, I was a little jealous. Okay, so maybe I was more than a little jealous. She gets to be with him when I can't. On a daily basis she gets to have adventures with him. Don't get me wrong, I don't miss getting shot at. What I miss is the thrill. The bloodlust and excitement of the kind of story you just don't get in DC.
Domesticity really isn't my thing. I'm not good at being tied down. I hadn't thought I would want to be until I met Seeley. He's warm and compassionate. When I'm with him I see the kind of person I want to be. I guess that's why I'm here now - reaching out to comfort his best friend.
I get out of the taxi in front of the museum. Paying the driver, I tell him to have a happy holiday before proceeding into the Jeffersonian. I've been around enough that they know me and the guard at the desk waves me in.
The lab is dark. All of the scientists - the squints as Seeley calls them - have gone home for the evening. I see that the light is on in her office. I smile. He's right. This is her home away from home. I make my way over to her door and I'm just about to call out to her when I see it. My boyfriend, the man that I love, standing under the mistletoe with his partner.
His hand rests on her upper arm and his head is cocked slightly to one side. I can't see his face, but from my vantage point I can see hers. It's tear-stained and her eyes flutter closed as he tenderly brushes new tears away.
I stay back and just watch them. Frozen there in the hallway. It's like watching a train wreck or a car accident. You know you should look away. Avoid watching the carnage with your own eyes. But you can't. I can't. Watching the death of a relationship is bad to begin with. As the scene unfolds before me, I see what I've been avoiding the last few months.
They lean into each other. From where I stand it's hard to tell who started it. It's a slow-motion kiss. The kind at the end of sappy movies. I've always been more of an action girl myself, but this is mesmerizing. It's soft. Pure.
I feel like an intruder to a private moment. It hits me that things between us have never been as intimate as that single chaste kiss between them. I should be angry. I have every right to be. But the emotion that washes over me isn't what you would expect.
I turn to go before I get caught. He's never going to love me the way he loves her. No matter how badly I want him to. Instead of weighing the facts, I let my heart make the decision. I stayed with him trying to resurrect what we had in the desert. If I hurry, I can probably be gone before he gets home.
I'm a reporter. I should have known better. Little things just didn't add up. The advice about the phone. Her warnings about being sure and staying safe. She was protecting him. The inflection in her voice should have told me everything I needed to know. Temperance Brennan was - is - very much in love with Seeley Booth. They're both just too stupid to realize it. Well, I won't be second string. Seeing what I saw tonight I know that second best could never be good enough.
"Did you find them?" the guard asks.
I smile fiercely as I try to keep the tears from falling. "Looked like they were busy, so I..." I look around trying to make my escape. "I'm just gonna go."
"Have a good night!" I hear him call after me as I walk away.
I hail a cab blinded by the now free-falling tears. I pull out my phone and start making calls. I dial my editor and explain that DC isn't working out. I request a transfer and am delighted to find my position in Afghanistan was never filled. The paper agrees to have a ticket waiting for me at the airport.
Getting to the apartment is a blur. In my head I've already mapped the quickest route to getting all of my things packed. That's the thing about nomadic living. Traveling light means you are able to quickly abandon relationship sinkholes. Move on. Go back to the things you are good at.
Zipping the last of my bags, I pull a sheet of paper from one of my notepads. I brush away a tear as I write him a note. With shaky fingers I take his key from my ring and drop it with a gentle plink onto the ancient formica of the countertop.
As I am walking out the door for the last time, I notice them. Pictures on the bookcase. Seeley with all the squints. Temperance with Parker. Seeley and Temperance in formal wear. Each more intimate than the last. Each with a glimpse of something I should have seen all along - my position here was transient. I was never meant to stay.
I flick off the light as I make my exit. I think fondly on the man I shared the last few months of my life with. I wish him only good things - but especially that he is able to discover that they find their way to each other. He deserves that much. And Temperance Brennan is a fool if she lets him get away.
Good bye, Seeley. Hello, world.