"I love you—and I—I can't imagine—"

Brennan rocks back, pale eyes wide and lost, unwilling to let Booth reach out to her. He watches her, itching to wrap his hands around her shoulders and drag her close, but she hasn't allowed anything more fleeting then a quick hug, devoid of the warmth they used to have, in months.

Hannah stays between them still, blonde strands of hair lingering on his pillow, her perfume still locked somewhere in his bathroom cabinet, even after she's left, hand warm on his shoulder telling him go get her Seeley.

It's just—Bones looks at him like she's so damn terrified, every step he takes towards her met with one step backwards.

She looks like a little girl, wanting to clasp her hand over her mouth and call take-backsies, but they're adults and Booth is suddenly so, so tired.

He wants to give up. Maybe—maybe five (six) years is too long to stay static, waiting for a woman. And, he'd tried, hadn't he? He's shown her, hasn't he? And Bones, Bones gives him those looks sometimes, like she gets it, and then she shows up at his apartment telling him she loves him, and.

Get out, he wants to tell her, get out before you break me in two.

Because the thing is, she would. How long before she tires of him? She's told him that he's the longest relationship she's ever had, and Bones spends two weeks with a man and leaves him. One day, she will leave him just like Rebecca, turn down his offered ring and there will be no Bones at the end of the tunnel, just the dark taste of whiskey on her tongue once and a the futile grip on a poker chip he won't be able to resist.

He's had Bones inscribed into his very self for so long he can't risk her leaving him.

Brennan breathes deep, and her eyes are so blue, so wet. She steps forward, presses a fleeting kiss to the corner of his mouth and ducks under his arm to escape his apartment. I love you she's telling him, I love you, and I can't lose you and if I can't risk waking up one day and not loving you now.

The door closes shut and Booth leans against the wall, wishing he was brave enough to go and tell her one day at a time was enough.