Chapter 13: Hope Always
A/N: This is the last chapter, folks. In celebration of Bones Day, I chose not to split this up, so enjoy the length. I doubt that I'll continue, but if so, subsequent parts will be independent of this story. I'd like to thank everyone for your support, I really appreciate every word of every review. Take a second to let me know what you think of my resolution!
The knock on her door draws her reluctantly from her bed, leaving a sleeping Otto to lie. There are only a handful of people who would dare to wake her up at this hour of the night, and tonight, she is unsure who she will find on the other side. Rather than opt for surprise, she looks through the peephole, squinting to make out the features of her midnight visitor.
It's Booth. It's always been him.
She sighs, rests her forehead against the wood of the door, her hand hovering over the knob with indecision. She isn't sure if she has the will to have this conversation with him now, but not once has she ever turned him away, so she steels herself and unbolts the lock, letting the door swing open.
The first thing she notices is that he looks… tired. He's wearing street clothes, the first couple of buttons undone on his shirt. His hair is disheveled, his eyes bloodshot, and she ushers him inside without a word, her hand on his arm to steer him to the couch. She knows why he's here, but she's fairly certain, given the look on his face, that he doesn't know that she knows.
"Hannah left," he says after a moment.
Her brain fails to censure her mouth, and she replies automatically, "Yes, I'm aware of that."
His eyebrows disappear into his hairline as he gapes at her, and she leans away from him, expecting some sort of surprised questioning as to how, exactly, she's come to posses that knowledge. She's still as he studies her face, eyes passing over her features again and again. He must see something that calms him, though, for he relaxes back into the couch and sighs.
"How?" he wonders, and she sits for a moment before responding.
"She came and saw me, asked me what she should do."
She can tell that he's upset with her revelation, and she visibly cringes when he spits, "I'm sure you told her to go, right? That she couldn't pass up the story? That work was more important than me?" His voice is more worn than angry, but his words make her pause as she reads, for once, the subtext beneath his blatant lashing out.
Her eyes fill with tears, and there is no hesitation when she says, "No, Booth. I told her to stay." His gaze softens immediately, searches her own, and she continues, "I told her that you love her and that she shouldn't… she shouldn't make the same mistake I did."
She's not sure what he will do now, what she wants him to do now, and so she falls silent as the first teardrop rolls down her cheek. These are not tears of sadness, no. These are tears of revelation, tears of relief that she finally knows how to fix this, how to fix them by revelations. Abruptly, she rises from the couch, leaving Booth staring after her as she disappears into her bedroom.
When she returns after a moment, a piece of folded paper clutched tightly in her fist, and sits next to him once again. "She left anyway, so you must not have been very convincing," Booth mumbles to her, brow furrowed as he tries to read the expression on her face.
Taking a deep breath, she dives in headfirst. "That's because she saw my words for what they really were." When he tilts his head in question, she appends, "A declaration of selfless love."
Though she hasn't said those three words, Booth gets her meaning immediately, and she watches as a range of emotions sweep over his features one after the other. He takes her hand, and she's so close that she can feel his exhales, see the pinpricks of gold in his warm brown eyes. His voice, his quiet, "You love me?" makes her shake with something, and she nods, voice lost for a moment.
"Of course I do, Booth. That's always been true." With that confession, she unfolds the paper still clasped in her free fist. Smoothing out the wrinkles, she hands it to her partner. "I was scared. Scared to let you in, because I was so sure that you would leave. I didn't think about you leaving anyway."
She isn't worried with her blatant admissions, not anymore. There's no worry of letting herself fall in love and then losing him, no dread of the future. There's no worry because it has all already happened. This vulnerability is nothing compared to the pain of regret. Another time, she may have held everything back, protected herself just in case, but just in case doesn't seem to matter much anymore.
"Bones, I –"
"Read it. Please." She gestures to the printed paper, the email that had shocked her to the core, opened up the door for them to be here right now.
He obliges, and she passes her eyes over the now familiar words:
I know you told me I should stay, but I just can't.
Thank you for being such a friend to me. I appreciated your kindness, more than you probably realize. Please, don't talk to Seeley until I've had the chance to break the news. I just booked my flight and I'll be telling him over dinner tonight. He's in meetings all day, and I'm guessing that means I'll see him first, so you shouldn't have to lie. It's up to you whether or not you want to tell him that you knew before he did.
You said that Seeley loves me, and I know he does, but it doesn't hold a candle to the way he feels about you. He's so in love with you, Temperance. It's funny, because you are two people who don't belong together except that you belong together. I can't be the one to stand in the way of that anymore. I hope you forgive me for that and for hurting him. I'm sorry. But don't forget to forgive him, too.
When he finishes reading, he refolds the letter and reaches to place it on the coffee table in front of them. There is a long silence, and then he murmurs, "I am, Bones." At her puzzled look, he clarifies, "So in love with you." His mouth turns up into a smile, and he presses a gentle kiss to the corner of hers.
"I forgive you. Forgive me?" she implores.
He shakes his head. No apologizes or forgiveness necessary.
Breaking the comfortable silence, he questions out of the blue, "Do you believe in fate?"
"Booth, this is the same story." She runs her fingertips over his knuckles.
"No, this is the rest of the story. Our story. Now answer the question, Bones."
She obliges. "Still ludicrous," she says, smiling.
Some things never change, but some things do.
Listening to her heart, that crushable muscle in her chest that feels whole for the first time in months, she takes a gamble that really isn't a gamble at all.
"But I believe in giving this a chance."
A/N: The last few lines of dialogue I've had in mind for a while. I'm sad to part with this story, but I enjoyed the ride, and I hope you did too!