Hi all! Sorry I haven't written/posted in so long, but as I said at the beginning of the season, I'd only write when inspired. Otherwise, it feels like an obligation. And while I'd have loved to have been inspired by every episode, that hasn't happened.

That being said, inspiration has struck, but if you're looking for fluff, you won't find it here! Spoilers for anything airing through, "The Doctor in the Photo." There is a scene between Booth and Hannah, but as my recently-adopted motto states, the end justifies the means, though not necessarily in this fic. I meant in the grand scheme of Booth and Brennan. Enjoy!

VVVVV

Do you want me to, uh, to call someone to be with you?

His words replayed in her head, each time louder, each time reminding her of the harsh truth that she was alone.

There was no one to call. Since the beginning of their partnership, he was the one who was always there, the one who'd eventually gained her trust, the one she thought would always be there, no matter what.

But then he revealed his feelings for her; he was ready for them to take the next step.

But she wasn't. She wasn't ready to feel. She wasn't sure she was even capable of feeling.

Until this case.

This case had knocked her on her ass-metaphorically speaking, of course-and had made her see life from a different perspective. For nearly two decades, she'd built up proverbial walls, relying only on herself for things she needed. Because she was the only one she could really trust. Because when one is alone, there is no one else to trust.

This case made her irrational, and though she didn't regret revealing her feelings to Booth, it was unbalancing, especially considering those feelings were currently unrequited. Being unbalanced was exhausting, and for the first time in as long as she could remember, she wanted nothing more than to sleep away the next three days. Then the world would be right-side up again, and balance would be restored.

Balance.

Alone.

VVVVV

Booth sighed as Hannah plopped down next to him.

"What's wrong? Have you lost interest in hockey?" Hannah asked, noting that his normal enthusiasm for the game was nowhere to be found. The facetious question garnered no response from him, and she resorted to the clichéd wave-a-hand-in-front-of-the-face-of-the-person-who's-a-million-miles-away action. "Hel-lo!" she said, drawing out the last syllable.

"What?" Booth finally replied, quickly shaking his head and blinking rapidly. "Oh, sorry."

"Where were you?" Hannah asked, genuinely concerned.

"I was just thinking about Bones."

"Oh."

"She really took this case personally. If I hadn't followed her…" He sighed and leaned his head against the top of the sofa, his eyes looking at, but not really focusing on, the ceiling. "She could have been killed."

"Oh, God, that's terrible! Where is she? Is she okay?"

Booth chuckled wryly. "I took her home. Physically, she's fine."

"But…"

Booth sighed again. He really didn't want to tell her. But he felt he had to. "She basically told me she loves me."

"Of course she does, Seeley. You're partners."

"No, that she loves me. Like she's in love with me. Her exact words were that she missed her chance."

"Oh," Hannah replied, clasping her hands and resting them in her lap.

"Yeah."

"And what did you say to her?"

Booth glanced at her, slightly puzzled. "What do you mean, 'what did I say to her?' I told her that I was with you!"

Both eyebrows shot skyward. "Then you just took her home?"

"Yeah."

"How could you do that?"

Booth scooted to the edge of the sofa, surprised by her tone of voice. "Wait, you sound upset."

"Damn right, I'm upset! Your best friend needs you, and you're sitting here with me."

"Well, what was I supposed to do?"

"What did you do-" she hesitated for only a moment, "-before me?"

"Thai food, beer. Sometimes ice cream."

Hannah nodded once and patted his leg. "Then you should do that now."

"Even though…"

"No backtalk," Hannah interrupted. "Your best friend needs you."

Booth shrugged. "It'll be weird."

She rolled her eyes. "What, you and Temperance have never experienced weird before?"

"Of course we have, it's just…"

"Get your ass off this sofa, and take her some Thai food and beer!"

VVVVV

Brennan tried to sleep, but eventually gave up, opting to sit in the main room in silence. She heard the knocking on her door, but she didn't bother to see who it was-she already knew. There was only one person it could be at this time of night. But she couldn't face him now-the biting sting of rejection was still too new.

Was this how he felt when I turned him down?

The knocking turned into pounding. "I know you're in there, Bones. Open up!"

She sighed at the bitter irony of his last two words. Why couldn't Booth and I open up at the same time?

She told him she understood why he couldn't-or wouldn't-leave Hannah. And she did understand. That didn't lessen the pain, though. But Booth was honorable and would never begin a sexual relationship with her if he was still with Hannah.

The landline rang twice before the answering machine picked up.

"Bones, it's me," Booth sighed. "I'm sorry for leaving you…alone." He paused, the answering machine recording his breathing. "Open up so we can talk."

Those words. Again.

"Bones, please." Another pause. "I brought Thai and beer," he tried, his tone lighter. He sighed one last time. "Okay, I know you're upset, and I'm probably the last person you want to see right now, but I hope you're okay. And that we'll be okay. I don't want to lose you, Bones. I mean that." Rustling. "I'll, uh, just leave the Thai and beer by the door. Don't wait too long to get it, okay?"

When the message finished and the answering machine clicked off, Brennan sat in silence. She didn't know how much time passed-ten, fifteen, maybe even twenty minutes-before she moved from the sofa. Slowly she made her way to the door and cracked it open, half-expecting to find Booth still waiting with the Thai and beer.

Instead, there was a single paper bag.

As she bent down and picked up the bag, a lone tear slid down her cheek.

She didn't want to eat.

Alone.

VVVVV

Thanks for reading!