Chapter 1: From the Heart
A/N: The title is from the song of the same name by X-ray Dog. I urge you to check it out if you haven't heard it before. This is based on the promo for next week's episode, The Doctor in the Photo. Just a little something I had to get out for my own sake. I will most likely keep this as a one-shot, but I may add to it, depending on how this scene actually plays out in canon. That's my explanation for the relatively open ending. Please let me know what you think - good things, bad things, rants about Booth, rants about Brennan, rants about Hannah. I hope you enjoy, and thank you for reading!
That first tear is the metaphorical straw that breaks the camel's back, and once it falls, she can't stop.
She is sitting in the passenger's seat of the SUV, soaked through to her underwear with icy winter rain. Her teeth are chattering and her hair is plastered to her head, and she feels so miserable and confused and alone that she simply needs to cry. She doesn't care that Booth slows his speed infinitesimally and glances over at her, and for once, she doesn't want to hear his usual question (Are you okay, Bones?), because she isn't okay and she's afraid of what she'll say if he asks her. He must know this, because he simply turns back to the road and lets her cry, which only results in the tears falling faster and the beginning of gut-wrenching sobs that she is powerless to control.
The old Booth, before Afghanistan and Maluku and a new girlfriend, would have stopped the car immediately, pulled to the side of the road and done just the right thing to make everything okay again. The old Booth, well… the old Booth loved her, and in a moment of selfishness, she says the only thing that comes to mind, the only thing she can think of that can bring the old Booth back. She wants him for just a moment, and then she'll give him back to Hannah, and she knows it's dangerous, stupid, every synonym under the sun, but the words come out uncensored, "I made a mistake, I missed my chance," and this makes his eyes snap to hers and the SUV swerve dangerously left of center before coming to an abrupt stop.
Rain pings off the roof, and the engine roars steadily in the background, but the silence between them is stifling. She knows she should say something else, renege her confession with an awkwardly misplaced joke that will annoy him, but there are still tears rolling down her cheeks, and she is simply too tired to pretend right now. Booth clears his throat, and she can see the whiteness of his knuckles as he clenches his hands around the steering wheel. "Bones…" he murmurs to her, and her nickname still falls as sweetly as ever on her ears. "You can't stay stuff like that to me, it isn't fair." He won't look at her, is still tense, and she watches as her hand rises of its own accord and reaches across the console to rest lightly on his arm.
"Booth, I know. Okay? I know." There is something ironic about her choice of words, an echo of months ago and another confession without a happy ending. "I'm not asking for another one. I just…" She fumbles for an apology, but he shocks her speechless when he sighs and places his left hand over hers that still grasps his forearm.
"I… I still believe in fate, Temperance." The cadence of his voice washes over her like a physical caress, and she is suddenly so, so tired that all she can do is spread her fingers until they slide naturally between his. She squeezes him tenderly, brushes the lingering moisture from her face with the sleeve of her jacket, and closes her eyes as she lies back against her seat.
"Can you take me home? Please."
As he nods and pulls back into traffic, Booth lifts her hand to his mouth and brushes a gentle kiss over her knuckles. This small connection, this acknowledgment that he cares, it warms her and gives her hope, makes her take a deep breath and relax. There are things that need to be said, but the case is still unsolved, Booth is still with Hannah, and she is still so, so afraid of putting her heart into overdrive, even for him. Tonight, though, it is enough that they are honest and together and honestly together for the first time in months.