Title: Before We Come Undone (1/1)
Characters: Seeley Booth, Temperance Brennan
Rating: PG-13 or T for language
Spoilers: Through 6x09.
Summary: Witnessing the evolution of Temperance Brennan is what he's doing. A tag for 6x09.
Disclaimer: Bones and its characters belong to FOX, not me. This story is purely meant to entertain. No copyright infringement is intended.
A/N: This is a bit raw; make of it what you will.
To lurkers and commenters alike, thank you.
Before We Come Undone
Old habits die hard, if they die at all. Booth follows Brennan to Woodland, on a night teeming with rain and oppressive shadows, because this is what partners do. It's in the goddamn code, written or not. Partners are all they'll ever be now; all she'll ever let them be.
He's learning to live with that: slowly and painfully. You don't spend every second of every minute of every hour of every day for years, feeling your heart beat for one crazy, beautiful, infuriating woman, and just turn it off. His heart, oh his traitorous heart, it still beats for her, and if he had a fucking on/off switch for it, he'd have used it already.
But if it still hurts (it does), it hurts a tiny bit less with each passing moment. One day, he hopes, it won't hurt at all anymore; just be a memory tucked inside a box filled with dusty reminders of an old life - a life that never existed anywhere but in his dreams. Not the life he's building with Hannah.
Hannah, who loves him. Hannah, who's let him in.
Oh, Bones, why couldn't you just let me in?
Booth hides, blending into the inky night, but he doesn't need to try so hard: she's so utterly absorbed in her own thoughts that she doesn't notice anything - including the car speeding toward her from around the corner.
He doesn't hesitate, his feet hammering the pavement as he races toward her; her life is still more than worth any risk to his own.
"I got the signal, Booth. I don't want to have any regrets," she says, her eyes and voice full of the conviction and hope and desperation he'd felt so many months ago.
His head is spinning so hard it's a struggle to keep the car moving straight. "You know, I'm with someone, Bones. And Hannah, she's not a consolation prize; I love her." But I loved you first. Sometimes I'm scared I'll love you last.
Next to him, she's sobbing. The sounds are ugly, harsh. He can't look at her.
"You know, the last thing I want to do is hurt you, but those are the facts." The irony is so sharp he's bleeding from it, razor-fine cuts all over his body. Bones, utterly rational Bones, is talking about signals, finally, finally speaking his language - while he deals in facts. This is everything he has ever wanted. Everything he can never have.
Because his timing; her timing; their timing is so colossally fucked-up. Star-crossed doesn't begin to cover it. His rage, he wants to turn his head up to the sky and howl it until his voice breaks. The way he's breaking inside, where he won't let her see it. The way she's breaking outside, giving him no choice but to see it - to see her, the way she never has allowed him to before. She's beautiful; darkness and light coming together in a blinding combination that steals his breath and leaves him shuddering.
"I understand. I missed my chance," she says. "My whole word turned upside down. I can adjust."
Witnessing the evolution of Temperance Brennan is what he's doing. He wants to be more than a witness; he wants to participate. Wants it so badly his hands grip the steering wheel like it's the only thing anchoring him, keeping him from yanking the car to the shoulder and pulling her into his arms. But his guy hugs were never really guy hugs (he thinks even she knows that), and he isn't free to give them to her anymore. His commitments tighten around him, suddenly suffocating instead of comforting.
"I did," he replies, and there's a spark of vindication inside him. The spark, though, flares and quickly dies out, leaving only cold ashes of regret.
"Yes, you did," she says, with a laugh he can't call anything but bitter.
This was never what he wanted. He knows what he wants, even as he knows how impossible it is for him to have it.