Stepping out of the Hoover building into the bright DC sunshine Special Agent Seeley Booth took a deep breath and exhaled slowly. He and his partner of six years, Dr. Temperance "Bones" Brennan had just finished up a grisly murder case and had just presented their case to the prosecuting attorneys. True to form, Bones had just gone back to the lab and had started on another nameless set of remains from the bone storage area at the Jeffersonian Institution. For his part, Seeley wasn't able to just jump into something else altogether, he needed to take a step back and reflect on what they had accomplished and how it ultimately affected the grand scheme of things.
He tossed his poker chip a couple of times and decided to just head on back to his place and have a drink to unwind. He and Bones usually celebrated a successful case at the Founding Fathers bar and they had plans to do that very thing that evening. After getting into his large blue SUV he drove to his apartment and entered, the familiar space usually a haven, a respite was instead today claustrophobic and not what he needed after all. He quickly changed his clothes from the requisite suit and tie and into more casual wear and decided instead to spend the afternoon wandering around the mall district of DC.
Booth grabbed a soda and a pretzel from a vendor and walked along the promenade, stopping to look at a display or gazing at a gallery storefront occasionally, he crossed at the end of the walk and headed back down the other side of the street and stopped suddenly in front of a small, dusty window. Peering inside he saw a faded red velvet cloth with various antique looking odds and ends scattered about. Those weren't what caught his eye; instead it was the small open grey box. The satin lining was yellowed with age but that didn't diminish the brilliance of what it was showcasing. The small white cold Celtic band was entwined with sapphires and rubies and surrounded a brilliant pear shaped diamond. He didn't know what it was about that ring that called out to him, it looked so out of place among the other dusty bric a brac and yet, it looked like it belonged as well. Pushing open the door, the rusty hinges protesting loudly, he heard the distant chime in the rear of the store announcing his arrival and walked towards the counter in the middle of the store.
A small, elderly woman sat behind the counter on a stool, her cane propped firmly between her legs, she leaned towards him and the counter and said, "Welcome young man, is there something I can help you find?"
"Hello Ma'am," he responded as his eyes adjusted to the dimly lit interior. "I was wondering about the ring in the window?"
"Ah yes, that is a beautiful ring is it not? It gleams as brightly today as it did on the day I first saw it. Here, let me get it for you." He watched her struggle off the stool and was about to help her down when she managed to get down herself. Following her as she toddled towards the window he wondered what a woman her age was doing alone in this store, certainly there should be someone else to help her. Although, looking around at the merchandise he didn't think that there was a lot of business generated after all. It was all good quality stuff; it just had the unmistakable air of neglect. The entire store could use a good dusting and there were light bulbs that needed to be replaced here and there, cobwebs strewn about on some of the inside of display cases.
She carefully leaned into the window, almost tipping completely over and then righting herself as he jumped to help her, picking the box up she turned and handed it to him. He held the small token in his hand and pulled the ring out of the box, holding it up to the rapidly deteriorating sunshine streaming through the window. The diamond glowed, as though lit from the inside by a thousand suns. The jewels surrounding it seemed to take on the glow and almost pulsated. "It's breathtaking isn't it?" She asked, watching the expression on his face with great interest.
"Yes, it's a beautiful ring. How old is it?" He asked, turning his deep brown eyes to hers.
"Oh, that ring was made in 1900, in County Kilarney Ireland. It was given to me Mam by my father on the day they wed." Quickly doing the math in his head that would make her close to a hundred years old, "Why are you selling it, if you don't mind me asking?"
"I don't mind young man, I'm not selling it."
"I don't understand." He said, "It's not for sale?"
"Here, let me tell you about that ring, come sit down, these old bones don't do so well standing anymore, I've a nice chair over here in the corner," she directed him to a darker corner of the shop and sat down carefully on an ancient flowered armchair. Taking a seat in its twin he set the ring on a small dark table between them.
"My Da and Mam were married for a very long time and she never took that ring off, not when they were farming, or when she was raising her children or when my Da died. She loved that ring and after my Da died I asked why she still wore it, she told me that it was more than just a symbol of their marriage it was a reminder to be the best wife and mother that she could be, that that ring held the hopes and dreams of an unsure and young couple and continued to hold them through all the tough times that they faced. No matter how bad things got, even when they were down to no food and no shoes for us, she still had that ring and even though she tried many times to sell it to put food on the table, my Da told her that it would all get better, and it always did. The day she died, she took the ring off and gave it to me and told me that I could do with it what I wished, because it had done for her everything that she wished." She paused, seeming to gather her thoughts along with her memories. Mesmerized, Booth didn't say anything allowing her to take the time she needed. Coming back to the present, she began to speak again, "I knew that the ring was special and thought that I would like to wear it to, however when it was my turn to get married, I was presented with a ring of my own that I loved dearly. I wear it proudly every day. When my son was ready to wed, I offered him the ring, but he told me that his wife had her eye on something else, and so it was when my granddaughter wanted to wed, I offered it to her as well, but she chose her own. It saddened me to think that my own family would rather have something new and made without soul than the symbol of love the ring had come to mean to me, so I just held on to it. When I decided to open this store, I thought some young couple would snatch it up, but it's sat for years in that window, no one has even glanced at it."
"So, if it's not for sale, what are you going to do with it?" he asked with a bemused expression.
"I'm going to give it to someone, someone that knows love and who wants the ring to reflect that love." She replied with a semi-toothless grin.
Booth turned the ring over in his hand, something about it had caught his eye and although he knew that it was presumptuous he asked her, "Am I that someone?"
The woman looked at him, long and hard. So long in fact that he was starting to become embarrassed by her scrutiny and felt like the question shouldn't have been asked. After what felt like hours she spoke, quietly but with assurance, "I think that your heart knows love, but I don't think that the love that you want is what you are meant to have. I'm sorry young man, but I don't think that this ring is right for you." When she was done speaking, Booth felt like she'd punched him in the gut. He believed that he knew how he felt and he knew that Brennan just needed more time and eventually she would feel the same way. He knew that. Carefully handing the ring back to the woman, he smiled at her as he stood, "Thank you Ma'am for sharing your story with me, I understand what you are saying, but I think that I have a chance and…I'm going to take it."
The old woman smiled and put her hand on his arm, somewhat to steady herself and also to offer him a touch of companionship, "Young man, I see the love you have, and it's a powerful love, I hope that it is enough to help you get what you want." Saying that she turned back to the counter where her stool was resting and she sat back down. Booth watched to make sure that she was safe and then he turned and left the store. Heading back towards his car, he decided that he was going to gamble bigger than he'd ever gambled before. He didn't know if the old woman had the sight, or was just batty, he was going to tell Brennan how he felt and he was going to do it tonight.
That evening Booth waited patiently for Bones to arrive, he met her outside and escorted her in to where the tables in the back were partially filled and they sat down. The bar had been trying to soften their image so had put candles on the tables, the waitress lit the candles and its flame leapt sure and strong before mellowing to a small glowing point above the off white tapers standing so elegantly next to a chilled bottle of wine that he'd pre-ordered. Bones took in the semi-romantic scene and said, "This seems a little formal for a case celebration Booth, is there something that I am unaware of?"
Nervously clearing his throat, that diamond burning holes in his pocket, he was thinking, now's the perfect time.
"Bones," he took her hand in his, his thumb rasping over the soft skin of her hand, "There is something that I've wanted to talk to you about for some time now and you are right, this is so much more than the celebration of another successful case." He cleared his throat as her eyebrows furrowed in confusion while he continued, "Over the past few years I've watched you date other men and even have relationships, all with disastrous results and I always wondered what it was that was wrong with these men that you were dating. I couldn't understand why it wasn't working out with them, you're beautiful, you're incredibly intelligent, you're successful and resourceful and you're kind. You don't know how wonderful you really are and the problem with these relationships is that they weren't me. They didn't realize what they had in you and kept looking for more. Bones, I'm not like that, I'm happy with you the way you are right now; you're everything I want and everything I need. You're more than my partner Bones, you're my best friend, you're the one I tell my fears to and the one I share my successes with and I find that I can't go one day without hearing your voice and I know that all adds up to one thing, I love you Bones. Will you marry me?"
When he popped the question, he could see the teardrops fill her eyes she said, "I knew this was coming and I'm sorry but I hope you realize you can't make a heart love somebody you can tell it what to do but it won't listen at all. Booth, I'm so sorry, you can lead a heart to love, but you can't make it fall."
Then she reached for his other hand with hers and said, "I want you to know, I've done everything that I know of to make this feeling grow, I've begged and pleaded with my heart, but there's no getting through. My heart is the only part of me not in love with you." She could see the tears welling up in his eyes and it was pulling at her heart to take back what she'd said, but she knew that what she was telling him was the truth. Booth was all those things to her too and she knew that if they made this final step together that it was only a matter of time before the eventual change of life would make them regret a life together.
He looked at her face, the tears silently trailing her cheeks and said, "What is it that I don't have Bones? I'll do anything to make you love me the way I love you." He didn't want to beg her, but he couldn't understand why she didn't see what he saw. Shaking her head she stood and said, "I don't know Booth, I do love you, I love you as my friend, I love you as my partner and my day isn't complete without your voice either, and I know now what heart crushing truly feels like, because although it is a circulatory organ I know how important it is to give your heart to someone and I know that you want to give me yours and I wish that I could give you mine. I truly do Booth. I'm sorry Booth, you can lead a heart to love, but you can't make it fall. I'm sorry." She took her hand from his and left the table, striding to the front doors she hastily wiped the tears away from her cheeks and pushed open the door. Hailing a cab, she jumped in and gave the cabbie her address. Booth watched her leave, tears on his cheeks and spilling over his lashes as well, the ring still held in his hand.
Based on the lyrics "You Can't Make A Heart Love Somebody" by George Strait
I hated this one, but to be fair to the other stories I've written, decided to post it here too. Previously posted at the lab under the Harbinger alias…