A/N: I have had this story written for the past year, but I never had the courage to post it. It is complete, so hopefully I will post it frequently.
I just want to warn everyone that this is angst to the fullest, so if you don't like angst, I suggest you not to read it. Although, I can tell you that I do like happy endings, even though I might put Booth and Brennan through hell, there is always something good to look forward to.
I want to thank jsg, Thnx4theGum, Angiebc, and BrainySmurf6 for their wonderful help.
Also, this story goes to Laffers and LeeLee, because they begged me to post it.
Song "Stuck in a Moment You Can't Get Out Of" by U2.
Disclaimer: Characters are not mine, they belong to Hart Hanson.
You've got to get yourself together
You've got stuck in a moment
And now you can't get out of it
Don't say that later will be better
Now you're stuck in a moment
And you can't get out of it
Angela was explaining how their latest victim was killed with a demonstration on the brand new and more sophisticated Angelator. Everyone was watching carefully. They were almost done with the case, they had their suspect in custody already, and they were about to turn the evidence over to Caroline.
Booth shifted from side to side; he felt on edge. He had been feeling like this for the past four months, but today he felt apprehensive and uneasy in a way he couldn't explain.
They were reaching the end of the meeting. Everyone asked questions and added their expertise, except Brennan. She was quiet for the entire two hours they were there, didn't ask questions, and didn't answer them. She had put her findings in writing, so she didn't have to talk or communicate with anyone. The less she talked to anyone, the better she felt.
Lately, being with Brennan was like being with a bomb that was ticking down the seconds to an explosion. Booth could see that she wasn't really there; the emotions were flickering on and off her face, and it had absolutely nothing to do with the current case. He sighed deeply. He felt as though the woman he had known for twelve years was disappearing in front of his eyes just a little bit more with each passing day, and he couldn't help but wonder if the day would come when she was going to be completely gone. He used to think that it was just a part of the process, a phase that would pass, but not anymore. And he had once called himself an optimist.
Brennan had agreed to come back to work after a four-month leave of absence, but maybe it was too soon. He thought it would be good for her, that work would be as cathartic for her as it was for him, but it wasn't like he thought. She was serious all the time, there was never a smile, never a casual visit to the Hoover just to say hello. She never called his phone anymore in the middle of the day either. Never a stolen kiss or teasing banter. No more partners in stopping crime; they weren't partners at all if he was honest with himself. They weren't the center anymore, everything had fallen apart. She would only go out to crime scenes with Booth when she had to - when it was absolutely necessary. And she never went to interrogate suspects anymore; she insisted that he didn't need her there, so she stayed at the lab to do her job as a 'scientist'.
She worked as fast as she could on the platform, but she made sure her work was done correctly and perfectly; after all she was a perfectionist. Then she would return to her office and stay there alone. She never socialized with the team anymore, not even Angela. She would only talk to them if it pertained to work. She would share something related to the case they were working on, and then she would return to her office pronto.
She only agreed to come back to work after everyone begged her. Everyone but Booth told her how overworked they were. They needed and wanted her to come back, and they kept telling her how it just wasn't the same without her until she got so damn sick of hearing about it. In one of her typical explosions, she agreed to do it, just to shut them all up.
Of course, Booth had tried to persuade her to come back at first, but his attempts were only met with cold and stony silence. He knew if he persisted in asking her to come back to work she would never go back. He used to be the only one who could talk her into anything. All it used to take was a twinkle of his chocolate eyes, and she gave into him; not anymore. Everything had changed. Their relationship seemed to have disappeared too.
They barely spoke through the day, and in the evenings, somehow she always managed to make an excuse not to eat dinner with him and their seven-year old son Cooper. She would close herself in her office at home and not allow anyone else in, locking it when she left so Booth had no idea what she was doing in there. He hoped she was writing; it would do her good to express herself that way, and God knew she refused to talk to anyone. No counselors, no ministers, no priests; she couldn't bring herself to talk to them. He had practically begged her to join a group therapy or find a shrink - besides Sweets, because she refused to open up to the kid. That had resulted in one of the worst fights ever and had left Booth feeling as though maybe she was right, and it was he who needed the shrink.
Brennan would be amazed to know that after their last battle, he had gone to see Sweets alone, because he felt so lost. Funny what being at your wits end will do to you? Booth rarely ever went to Sweets alone, but he did it to help his soul and pick up the pieces of his heart. He knew he needed help. Of course, he talked about Brennan the entire time, not once touching on his own painfully haunted memories. It was better that he fooled himself into forgetting what happened - that way it could never slip out. He had to somehow bury it deep into his soul so it wouldn't ever reach the surface again.
They were living in the same house, husband and wife, but living wasn't exactly right, because they just existed among each other. It was as if they were on autopilot, going through their day to day motions as if the routine had been memorized. A couple of robots programmed to do their duties. Booth tried to talk to her, but she never seemed to care about anything anymore. For once, it was him that needed to talk; for the first time since he had known her, she wasn't there to listen. He missed her so much, and he needed her more than ever. He never in all their time together had felt so cut off and alone. He wondered if the loneliness would ever go away.
Booth kept telling himself that it would take time, and he needed to be patient. The feelings of foreboding would never dissipate, and that terrified him. This had rocked him as much as it had Brennan, and his life would never be the same. His heart would never heal completely, and he knew it. They had shared this loss together, and now he felt as though he had lost her too. So, in a way his loss was twofold, because without her he knew he could never get through this, but she didn't seem to care about anything anymore, not even him. His grief for the loss of Brennan was almost harder to bear, because she was here, right here in front of him, but he was not allowed the luxury of touching her. He wasn't able to brush away the tears that occasionally fell. It was like being tortured, having her so physically close and yet mentally and spiritually so far away.
Brennan felt his eyes on her for the millionth time during that meeting. She couldn't take it anymore. What did he think he would see? Did he think she would suddenly smile at him? Did he think that now that she was suddenly back at work, everything was normal? Nothing would ever be the same again. She felt the ache reach so deep inside her; it was like an endless hole being bored through her, leaving an open and bleeding wound. It would never go away. She couldn't shed the tears everyone insisted she should. Mostly she felt numb. When she wasn't numb, all she felt was rage. She knew she had to get the hell away from everyone, because it was killing her; it was torture to keep up the pretense of being normal.
It was time; she had waited long enough. She had to get this behind her once and for all. She had known since the first day back that being here was a mistake. She dreaded his reaction, she dreaded the looks she would get, but most of all, she dreaded the idea of pretending this place could fill the void in her life when nothing ever would.
Booth knew something was going to give. It was inevitable. The distance widening between them could not last. She hadn't spoken more than two words to him that morning. The only person she seemed to open to was Cooper, and then there was Parker when she saw him every other weekend. He would see just a small glimpse of the old Brennan when she looked at their son Cooper, a tiny sparkle of who she used to be. He wanted the fire back that was his wife, his Bones. He wanted the smiles, the rolling eyes, the fights about nothing, and the silly times. He wanted her to beg him to let her to drive his SUV to a crime scene, he wanted her to say 'I don't know what that means', and admonish him for his irrational beliefs. He wanted the warmth of her - her lips, her arms, her entire being. He wanted their lives back.
It was as though she had turned into a statue, a cold, unfeeling, inanimate object, and the only ones who could bring her to life anymore were Cooper and Parker.
Booth forced himself to concentrate on adjourning the meeting. He opened his mouth to do so, "Okay, if that's…"
"I have something to say." Brennan gathered the courage. She dreaded the reaction she knew she would receive. A part of her wanted to stop herself from inflicting any more pain; there was too much already in everyone's hearts. She saw the pain in their faces when they looked at her, especially his; she could not face that every day, she didn't want their pity. She just wanted to be left alone. Why couldn't they understand her? She wanted to crawl away like a wounded animal and deal with this in her own way. She still loved them all, but she was so lost in her own misery that she couldn't show them that love. She had to get away from the world she knew... except her son; he was all she had left now.
Booth's eyes focused on his wife. His shaking fingers nervously tapped the Angelator, and his throat went dry as he waited for her to speak. He felt as though all he was doing lately was waiting. Waiting to touch her. Waiting to hold her. Waiting to kiss her. Waiting for that smile again. Waiting for her to cry on his shoulder. Waiting for that guy hug that he desperately needed right now. Waiting to be her husband again. But he saw nothing in her eyes, no bond, no love, nothing at all. Everything they had was breaking and he felt it with each passing day. He felt totally helpless and there was nothing he could do to repair it. What could he do to bring life back into her eyes?
Booth knew this was up to her; he couldn't help her unless she wanted it, and she certainly didn't. She had made it abundantly clear to him that the last thing she wanted was him. He knew that as far as she was concerned, he was the last one she could ever turn to. He forced his attention to the present, even though every self-protective instinct he had was advising him to stop her from speaking. He stayed silent, waiting.
Brennan moistened her lips, as she delivered the crushing blow. "I want you to know that I…" She was having a hard time with her words, "this is very hard… I just… I tried to come back, but this isn't working for me. I know we are like a…" She couldn't say the word 'family'; because the family was broken, beyond repair now. "I'm sorry." She said shaking her head, and she clenched the fist that was resting on top of the Angelator. She held it together by pushing her fingernails into her palm so she could feel the pain, but the moment her nerves registered it, she opened her hand. The pain was unbearable.
Everyone's attention was focused expectantly on Brennan. Hodgins sneaked a quick glance at Booth to see if he knew where this was going, but Booth's expression told him that was not the case, that he was also clueless. He was as surprised as everyone else.
Angela's face was worried as her eyes darted from Booth to Brennan and back to him again. Cam gazed at Brennan, her eyes filled with sympathy. Cam had bad vibes all morning. She had a good reason for the feeling; the tension in the room was so thick a knife wouldn't cut it.
Brennan couldn't look at them, so she focused on her other hand which was holding a pencil. She hadn't heard a word of what was said in their meeting, nothing about the case or how the victim was killed. If someone asked her for details, she would be in trouble, and she was the one that had given cause of death. How good was she at her job lately? Not good at all. And that fact made her feel sick to her stomach.
"I've made a decision; I hope you understand. I just can't… I mean I tried… to come back…. I thought maybe it would be..., but I just can't do this anymore. My heart isn't in it." Her voice broke slightly as a lone tear rolled down her face. She wasn't really crying, this was just an automatic reaction. She knew she was letting them all down. Maybe part of her still cared about them, but not enough to stay, not enough to want to stay anyway.
"I need to quit," Brennan informed them. "I'm going to quit the Jeffersonian." she corrected herself. "As of today."
A/N: Thanks for reading. Please let me know what you think of this first chapter? Can you figure out what's going on?