A/N: Okay, I basically started this chapter to process last night's episode, but I decided to post it because I've got a few chapters in mind of Brennan's new life choices that I think will be a blast to write. And I need something fun to come from this. The whole episode was heart-crushing. PM me if you want to discuss. Also, one of the Google Quotes of the Day this morning was: "We don't see things as they are, we see things as we are." by Anais Nin and I thought that it was especially fitting after last night's episode.
Booth was staring off into space, mindlessly tossing his magic eight ball back and forth between his hands. Brennan's confession the night before wasn't unexpected, in fact, he had been wondering when she would realize what a mistake she had made in letting him get away. The fact that it had taken almost a year and only then happened during her own personal mental breakdown did little to boost his ego.
He had been seriously concerned about her. He knew that she had let this case get to her in a way that she never let happen before, including her own mother's case. The normally cool-headed woman was snapping at every one and bursting into tears for no reason. She used phrases like "I feel" and jumped to conclusions irrationally with absolutely no evidence. It made a little more sense when she said that she hadn't been sleeping.
Booth had checked in with this Micah guy first thing this morning. He had reported that he had finally sent her home last night after three straight days in the lab without sleeping. He had assured Booth that he had been keeping her fed and talking with her, just as he used to when he stopped by the lab. 'Don't worry. I'm taking good care of your girl.' Micah had said it sincerely, but it had made Booth's stomach turn. She wasn't his girl anymore and he certainly hadn't been taking care of her lately. It used to be his job to take her home, make sure she ate, and get her out of the lab at the end of the day. With Hannah in his life, he had stopped checking in with Bones. It never occurred to him that she might not leave without his demanding it. His lack of knowledge on what was going on in her head right now scared him and his previous conversation he had had with Sweets didn't help at all.
"Sweets." Booth said with a nod toward the young psychologist's office as he passed him in the hall. It wasn't a request, it was a command to follow. Sweets finished his conversation and followed Booth into his own office. "I'm worried about Bones." Booth said before Sweets could even ask.
"You're not alone in that assessment." Sweets said as he walked over to his desk.
"She hasn't slept in days, she's irrational, she's breaking down emotionally." He listed off all of the problems.
"I'm aware that she is over-empathizing with this particular case." Sweets said. "What do you want me to do about it?"
"I don't know, fix her. Isn't that your job?" Sweets paused and stared at Booth in a way that made him suddenly feel like he was naked.
"You only get this way when you think that you are responsible for the situation." Sweets told him. "Do you feel that what is going on with Dr. Brennan is your fault somehow?" He asked.
"I'm just trying to look out for my partner." Booth said defensively.
"I'll take that as a yes." Sweets said. "Look, Dr. Brennan is going through a lot right now and I'm trying to help her as much as I can, but as you know, with cases like this, sometimes you just have to sort it out on your own. In the past, I wouldn't have bothered telling you that at all because I know that it used to be when you messed with one partner, you got the other." Booth stared at Sweets, unsure of what he was saying. "But now with things being what they are, I'm hoping that you can just continue to give her space and let her comprehend what is going on in her own mind, please?"
"Sweets, the victim was suicidal."
"I'm aware of that." He said coolly. Booth wanted to punch the boy for not getting as worked up as he was. "She needs this case, Booth. She won't process without it. Just give her time to figure it out."
"Fine." He gave in. "But if something happens to her, I swear to God, I will hunt you down and kill you myself." Booth promised as he stormed out of the office.
It was this meeting and Booth's nagging sense of responsibility for her pain that led him to follow her to that section of town. As soon as he saw her get into the cab, he knew where she was headed. He thanked God at the time that he had been there to pull her out of the way of that car, but at the same time, it had led to one of the hardest conversations that he had ever had to have.
He had never wanted to be cruel, or hurt her in anyway, but at the same time, he had to let her know that he wasn't giving up what he currently had. He really loved Hannah, and he could see a long-term relationship working out with her, especially now that he knew she and Parker got along so well. He couldn't just give that up because Bones wanted a do-over. He wanted to be with someone who knew that they wanted to be with him the first time, who didn't need second chances. He wanted Hannah. He told her a long time ago what he needed to move on and he had done it. There was no need to feel guilty for doing what he always said that he had to do, right? He had moved on successfully and eventually, Bones would to.
Angela strode into Brennan's office, desperate to figure out just what was going on in the anthropologist's head. She locked the door to the office and turned around. She had been preparing for a fight all night and had her speech down flat.
"Do you have a second?" Angela asked.
"Sure, what do you need?" Brennan said as she glanced up from her desk.
"Look, I know that something has been up with you lately and I'm not leaving until you tell me what's going on, maybe even let me help you. I know that you are a private person and that you might not want to discuss it but we are all really worried about you so…"
"Angela," She paused her ramblings and looked at Brennan. "I'm feeling better, I promise." Okay, not quite the resistance she had been expecting.
"Really, or are you just saying that to get rid of me?" Angela asked skeptically.
"I know that I was…"
"I prefer the term confused, for a couple of days. Three to be exact. I'm much better now." She reassured her friend. Exact. She just used the term exact! Maybe she was actually feeling better.
"So what happened over the past three days that caused you so much confusion?"
"The case." She said. "You know how Booth thinks with his gut and gets signals from the universe?" Angela nodded. "I tried it." She said as if she were admitting to stealing or wearing naughty lingerie under her lab coat. "I saw this woman who was just like me in every way, even down to the jewelry, and I just, I over-identified with her."
"Please tell me that you mean aside from the fact that she was lonely, suicidal and dead."
"Of course." Brennan conceded. Angela exhaled sharply, unaware that she had been holding her breath. "And with Booth not around anymore and you guys starting your own little family, I guess I sort of panicked about my situation becoming like hers."
"Sweetie." Angela said, the concern in her voice making Brennan feel loved once more. "You could never be alone. We wouldn't let you, even if you tried. We would fight for you." Angela realized her choice of words were hurtful as soon as they left her mouth. "Sorry, but we would." She said, sticking with her previous thought. "You are loved and don't you ever forget it."
"I know that now, plus I realized something from Micah."
"The night watchman, we've become very close over the past few days. I realized that this case was here to teach me something, and trust me when I tell you that I heard the lesson loud and clear. So I decided to tell Booth."
"That you love him?" Angela asked wide-eyed.
"I told him that I was aware that I had made a mistake in turning him down and that it was, and will remain to be, my biggest regret in my life."
"Oh my God. What did he say?"
"He said that Hannah wasn't just some consolation prize and that he loved her instead of me." Angela sighed at his cruel but honest answer. If Booth had been in the lab at that moment, she would have smacked him over the back of the head.
"Sweetie, just because he says that doesn't mean it's true. He will always love you in some way, he's your partner."
"Associate." Brenna said with a sigh.
"When he introduces us at the crime scene now, he calls me his associate, or he doesn't bother introducing me at all. He hasn't called me his partner in weeks." Angela fell so silent that Brennan had to glance over to gage her reaction to her statement. The fact that she was able to say something so painful in such a detached way killed Angela inside. She had known that something was off between the two, but she had been so wrapped up in her own pregnancy issues that she hadn't noticed the full extent of the problem.
"I could kill him for that." She told her friend, meaning every word.
"He's pulling away, Ange. It hurt at first, but he's right, he has Hannah now and things have to change. I understand that. So now, I just need to focus on the things that I can control. I'm going to get over it, move on. If Booth could do it with his big heart and need for a 'once in a lifetime' sort of love, than I, who know better, most certainly can too." Angela wrapped her friend in a hug.
"The best revenge is living well, right?" She said with a smile. "This is going to work out." She promised. "I don't know how yet, but it will."
"I'm choosing to believe you." Brennan said, her first decision propelling her forward into a new world.
A/N 2.0: I nearly threw something at my TV last night when I heard the words "associate" fall out of Booth's mouth. I totally understand him not dumping Hannah, but have a little respect for your partner! She doesn't work for you, she works with you. Okay, that's all. Review… or not (but hopefully Review :P )