A/N: Post-"Doctor in the Photo" with a twist: in the car Brennan blurts that she wishes she had gone with Sully as a way of distracting Booth when he is about to break her heart. Rated T for now, possibility of M much farther down the line. Daily updates while I'm on vacation, no promises once my vacation ends.
Disclaimer: All characters belong to Fox and whoever else. Goodness knows I'm not getting any money out of this. Just good karma.
"Maybe you just need a couple days off," I said.
"I'm alright now," she quavered. "Except I – I made a mistake."
"No," I said, "I told you my opinion – you got it all right."
"Not everything. She died with regrets."
I knew we weren't talking about Lauren anymore.
"Look, Bones, everybody has regrets."
I chanced a glance at her out of the corner of my eye. Her makeup was smudged and the world outside her window was blurry with rain.
"I heard her, you know?" Bones said, breathy. "Micah says all that we get are these dim, staticky messages from the universe."
That was not something the Bones I knew would say. I felt the wariness creep up again, the wariness that had shadowed me the past three days.
"Who's this Micah guy?"
"The night watchman. But he attends a lot of lectures. Anyway, the point is, she never gave him a chance."
I was trying to keep up. "Micah."
"No – no, the helicopter pilot. He offered himself to her, but she never gave him a chance. That was her regret."
My heart stuttered. My brain shut down, refusing to consider what she meant.
"I got the signal, Booth. I don't want to have any regrets."
My mouth was dry. My chest ached. She might not mean what you think she means, I reasoned.
Bullshit – you know Bones better than that.
But it wasn't up for consideration. I felt my mind shutdown, almost defensive.
"Um, I'm with someone, Bones," I murmured. "And, uh, Hannah – she's not a consolation prize. I love her."
"I should've gone with Sully on his boat," she interrupted.
A hit in the chest.
And then she started quietly sobbing.
I realized the car was slowing down – I had my foot on the brake. I pressed the accelerator and flicked the blinker, turning onto her street.
I should've gone with Sully on his boat.
It hurt to breathe. I looked over at her, her face all crumpled, and told myself I was feeling empathy. I didn't think I'd ever seen her sob like this – not even when we buried Ripley. For a second I felt a little bit like a buried puppy myself – but then again, Bones wasn't crying over me.
We were nearing her apartment and already she was catching her breath.
"Do you want me to, uh, call someone? To be with you?"
For all I knew she might decide to go for another walk in the middle of the road. I thought of calling Hannah, asking her to make up the couch, but I had a visceral reaction to waking up to Bones in my apartment.
"No, I'm fine. Alone," she rasped. "Thanks." Then, "I just need to get some sleep."
She was always a terrible liar – she still didn't make eye contact when she was lying, even though she'd heard me talk about that in the interrogation room. She wasn't stupid. Maybe she wanted me to know she was lying.
But right now it was easier to believe lie.
"Alright, just… promise me you really will sleep, yeah?" I said.
She nodded, still not making eye contact.
I pulled into a parking space. She was opening the door before I killed the engine.
"I'm sorry for my behavior, Booth."
And then she snagged me with her blue eyes.
"I promise I'll be back to normal tomorrow." She paused. "So there's no reason to tell our coworkers at the lab about this. Please."
She was asking me not to tell. Her mascara ringed her eyes, giving her a haunted, pathetic look.
"Sure, Bones," I sighed.
"Thank you, Booth."
And she slammed the door shut.
I watched her walk through the front door of her building. The rain pounded the windshield and she melted away.