In the Blink of An Eye
A/N: Before we begin this last chapter, I want to thank all the people who read, alerted, favorited (?) and commented. I tried to thank you all personally, but please know that if I didn't, it was still very much appreciated. The response to this little freight train of a story was phenomenal and very humbling. I started this after New Year's Day. First post was 1/5/11 and I had one chapter and a thin idea of where I was going. The murder of Rebecca surprised me as much as it surprised you. I love it when the characters take over the story. So here we are sixteen days, eighteen chapters and over fifty thousand words later and our story is done. Talk about break neck speed. Hey NaNoWriMo ... will see you next year, huh? I apologize again for the lack of Beta. I will find someone and have them fix all the errors and repost sometime in the future in case you want to come back and read this little B&B saga again. Here's to all of you FanFix readers and to the creators, writers, actors, crew and fans (rabid, passive or reluctant) of BONES. My faith has been shaken, but I'm still watching.
Without further ado ...
The weekend came and went so fast, if you blinked, you missed it. Rebecca's memorial service was Friday morning, the spreading of the ashes in the afternoon. Sherry left shortly thereafter with a promise to come back if anything couldn't be done via mail. Brent, Parker, Booth and Brennan had dinner together that night but it was pretty subdued. Parker looked like the events of the week were finally taking a toll. It was originally Booth's weekend with Parker. He and Hannah planned on taking him snowboarding on Saturday and Sunday. Parker would easily have skipped it, but Booth thought it might be a good bonding time for father and son. Brennan supported that.
There was a moment when Booth entered the room that Hannah booked for them that it really hit him that she was gone. He missed her. He missed her sunny disposition. Nothing ever got her down, she just kept plowing through. Even when they were breaking up, he didn't see any deep sadness or regret. Of course he had none either. They were supposed to be in love; building a life together. They cleared the first hurdle: location. Second hurdle and they didn't make it. She wasn't invested in the outcome or in Booth the whole man. She was focused on the now and assumed that tomorrow would take care of itself. He knew she would be fine. She was resilient. It was something that he admired about her and actually reminded him of Brennan for some odd reason. Brennan was resilient, but no one would ever say her disposition was sunny. Anyway, he missed her, but nothing like what he felt when Brennan left.
Booth and Parker got back from their trip around five on Sunday night. They were exhausted, every muscle in their bodies ached and they had the raccoon sunburn on their faces. It was a good trip. They talked a lot. They were close to start with, but it was important that they discuss their new situation in a safe environment.
Booth checked in with Brennan a couple of times over the weekend but she didn't pick up or return the calls. He called her again around nine on Sunday night; she was still unavailable. Booth was unconcerned. He felt good about the direction they were heading. They were talking, friendly, getting more comfortable with each other at every encounter. Booth was happy to give her a little space; to have a little space for himself. It was going to become part of the routine again; space with good open communication. Still he would have liked to speak with her once over the weekend. She was going to need to be instructed that physical time away did not mean that there should be no contact at all. He could do that.
Parker went go back to school on Monday; Booth took a little more time off. He had to close up his apartment and finalized Rebecca's affairs. Plus he wanted to be around in case Parker wanted to skip school or needed him for any reason.
Monday morning, Booth dropped Parker off at school. When he came back to the house he had a discussion with Maria about what her duties where with Rebecca. He wanted to keep her on with the addition of grocery shopping and covering for his strange work hours. He promised to keep it to a minimum, pay her overtime, and if it became too much they would find another solution. None of that was necessary. Maria was an artist and liked the flexible work hours, could use the extra money and of course she loved Parker. She had been with him since he was four or five.
Booth couldn't help himself; he stopped by the office around ten. He ran into Sweets and was able to get away without dissecting every minute of the weekend. Ran into Caroline and she gave her condolences in a strictly Caroline way. Rebecca was a hell of a woman and if she chose to bear Booth's child then she was a saint.
Booth finally made it to his desk. There were three files left in the center with a note from Brennan.
These are just copies,
originals with Agent Perotta.
My plane leaves tomorrow at 9:30AM.
I'll be at the lab all day.
She signed it 'Bones' that was a good sign. He was sorry that it wasn't 'love Bones' but one step at a time. He checked the files she left. The first two were the cases they pulled last week. The files were complete with the science mumbo jumbo, but Perotta needed to figure out who did it. The last file was for the Jane Doe 896. Brennan must have spent all weekend finding out everything she could about this unidentified woman who got caught up in the events of last week. It was no wonder she hadn't returned any of his calls. When Brennan worked, she was focused. And that was Brennan's work; identifying bodies when they were too badly decomposed for traditional methods. The file was quite thorough. He would start looking in the missing persons reports later, or turn it over to Charlie. Booth needed to learn to delegate.
He checked his watch. He would have enough time to go to the lab to have a cup of coffee with her before his appointment with the lawyer. He would ask her to dinner. This was good. He could take it slowly. Court her, woo her. It could be fun. It was nice to think that she was in his office when he wasn't there; it felt personal. It was nice to know that she knew him well enough to know that he would be in the office that morning even though he was on leave. He reread her note.
If Brennan was going somewhere he didn't remember; it couldn't have been very important probably just up to New York for the day. She was often flying up there to meet with her publisher.
Brennan's new book.
Research in Ireland.
Plane at 9:30AM?
He checked his watch; he was going to be late to the lawyers.
Brennan had indeed worked all weekend; that was her M.O. when she had a lot on her mind. She knew Booth would want to press forward into some kind of relationship. She could hold him off only so much and then a decision had to be made. She wasn't ready to push forward, but she didn't want to fall back. She still had nagging concerns. In the past she would ask Booth to clarify an issue of interpersonal relations but this time Booth was the subject. Maybe she should ask him this time too but for a different reason; Booth was the only one who had the answers.
The truth was that there was a big part of Brennan that just wanted to take Cam's advice: If you love him, really love him, then you owe it to him and to yourself to try to make it work. Don't worry about all the other stuff; it just gets in the way. It doesn't have to be for fifty years, just let it happen and see where it takes you. The timing may be a little too soon, but don't wait too long.
It was that last part that Brennan was stuck on; where was the line between too soon and too long? That day seemed like too soon. A week or two of time apart might still be too soon. It could give them some perspective and open better lines of communication which would lead to better conclusions, but it could be too long. She still didn't know exactly what she wanted clarified; the events were all mixed up and colored by her feelings. This was exactly why she didn't like the soft sciences - the answers were subjective, even her own answers changed over time.
Hannah's words of advice, though probably said sarcastically were also distracting her: Seeley loves you. You love him. Go make babies and have a life together. As simple as that sounded, Brennan didn't think that it would be that simple.
She checked her watch. She would need to call Booth. He would want to see her before she left and she was running out of time.
She called his cell. His voice-mail picked up. "Booth, I would like to see you before I depart. Please call me so we can coordinate our schedules."
"Good to know you still have my number."
Brennan looked up to see a very annoyed Booth standing in her doorway.
"You got my note," she stated.
"I did." He stepped in. His eyes were dark and angry. "But what if I didn't, would you have told me where you were going, what you were doing, when you would be back? Or would you have gotten on a plane and expected me to twiddle my thumbs until you deigned to return?"
"You just heard me leave you a message to find time to meet. All those questions that you had would have been answered at that time."
"You're running away again, Bones. Why?"
"I am not running away." She wanted to defend her decision to leave last time but she had accepted that she had run away. "I'm going to do research for my new book. This was in the works before last week."
"A lot has changed in a week."
"Yes it has ... I need time to process all that has happened. As do you."
"So you admit you're running away."
"I admit that I'm going to do research and if that time away allows me to gain some perspective then I am killing two fowl-."
"Two birds with one stone," he cut her off. "I think you should talk to me. I think time away, time to think, is time to set your mind to something without the benefit of all the facts."
"There are no facts, Booth. I'm not working from hard evidence. All talking to you will do will allow you to push your own agenda. It won't afford me clarity."
He stepped toward her. "Bones, talk to me."
She searched his face. She was drawn to him, there was no doubt. She took a leap of faith. "Explain to me how love works, because I don't understand it."
Booth smiled and stepped toward her. "Bones, philosophers, poets, artists, musicians, scientists and Joe Blow from Kokomo have been asking those same questions for thousands of years. It's the great mystery of life. It's why we are here: to find love, to give love, to make love."
She stepped back. She found that it was becoming increasingly more difficult to think clearly the closer he was to her physically. "How does it work that one day it is intense and all consuming and the next it is but a thin memory?"
Booth didn't have an answer at the ready for that.
"How does it get transferred from one person to the next? Is it possible to love two people at the same time? Or has western civilization labeled sexual desire as love to make it more palatable to society? Is the illusion of love necessary for the survival of the species? Or is love real?"
"Whoa! Slow down there, Bones. Those questions don't have answers or at least not answers that apply in all situations. Love is personal. Everyone experiences it in their own way."
"Then how do I get these answers?"
"You just have to ... well, you have to live and learn like the rest of us. Your super brain will not help you in matters of the heart. But you can't do it alone."
"I don't like it," she stated.
"You will, you just need to open yourself up to it." He moved closer to her. "Bones, trust me."
She started shaking her head. Hot tears were forming in her eyes.
"What? Talk to me?" he pleaded.
"How can I trust you? You were the only person in the world that I trusted. The only one I believed in. The only one who believed in me. I wanted nothing more than your honesty and constancy. I didn't want to hurt you, but I did and I'm sorry. But how can I believe in love, in your love, when seven days ago you were in love with someone else?"
Booth knew that he would have to explain how that worked but he had no idea how to start.
"A year ago we were partners and friends who trusted each other implicitly," Brennan went on. "One night you changed that. With no warning, you wanted to end our partnership to advance this other agenda claiming that you knew what our future held and I should trust you."
"No, No ... that's not how it happened ... It's not so simple, Bones."
"I wasn't prepared. I wasn't ready. I didn't believe that such a change in the dynamics of our partnership would end well. I refused you. Then you left and transferred that love to someone else. You returned with the new object of your affection and introduced that into our partnership, our friendship effectively ending it. Your honesty and constancy were gone. You stated on many occasions that you were in love; that you were happy in this new relationship. The loss of our bond seemed to have no affect on you. Then one day this new person was gone, and you transferred your love back to me. How am I not supposed to experience love as ephemeral, transitory, fleeting? How do I trust love? How do I trust you?"
Booth didn't have any of those answers. He sunk down onto the couch which brought Brennan out from behind her desk to join him. He mumbled something.
"I didn't hear you," she said gently.
"You don't transfer love." He looked over at her. "I didn't transfer my love for you to anyone else. That's not how love works. It might look like that, but that's not what happens."
"Explain it to me."
He searched her eyes hoping to find the words she needed to hear. "Love is not rational. Love can be mean and spiteful and angry. Love can make you do stupid things, say stupid things."
Brennan looked disappointed.
"Love can also lift you up higher then you have ever been. Love can bring you joy."
"I do believe that," Brennan said. She reached over to take his hand. "I want to believe that. I want to experience the love you tell me exists." She pressed his hand which sent a wave of desire through her body. She slipped her hand away. "But I don't know how I will survive if we enter into this new relationship and you again turn away from me."
Booth leaned back. He felt chastised. How could he defend his position? She was right. From her perspective Booth was not constant. He needed her to understand from his point of view.
"That night ... that night after Sweets ... I wasn't prepared to talk to you, but somehow it felt like I should try. I had kept quiet for so long just looking for a sign from you that said you felt the same way. The way we were going, you would never have changed a thing."
"I was content with our partnership and surrogate relationship."
"I wasn't. I wanted more from you, from us. I still do." He pushed his hand through his hair. "I said the wrong things. I gave you the wrong evidence. I didn't explain myself well. You know me, I do that. But your no was final. Your no was logical and rational. Your no told me that you had considered everything I was suggesting and had decided that you didn't want it. There was no argument to be made. I gambled and lost."
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"Was I right? Had you thought about a relationship with me that was beyond our partnership?"
"Yes," she owned. "Often, but I couldn't see it ending well for either of us. Mostly for you. As I said that night, I was protecting you."
He nodded. "I was hurt. But you know what hurt me far more than your rejection. You left me. You left me and for seven months you made no attempt to contact me."
"I know why you went to Maluku. I know how much the Gravedigger and the steady stream of death and misery that we trade in everyday had affected you. I understand that you had to step back from it. But I will never understand how you could walk away from me and give me nothing but dead silence. Why did you do that, Bones? Why did you go and not make any attempt to contact me? Were you trying to forget me?"
"No, Booth. No, I thought about you every day, many times a day. You were constantly in my head and in my dreams. I missed you terribly. There was a huge piece of me that was missing - the piece I gave to you."
He smiled weakly. "That piece is love, Bones. By any other name, it is love." He searched her eyes. He was going to ask again and he needed an answer. "How could you just cut me out of your life like that?"
"I assumed that was our agreement; that it was what you wanted. We agreed to meet at the coffee cart in a year. There was no discussion of how we would communicate in the intervening months. I didn't have an email address, phone number or a mailing address for you. You didn't ask for mine. I suppose I could have found all that somehow, but communication was limited in the jungle as it was. I'm not sure what I would have said to you during that time, but if you had contacted me, I would have responded."
He shook his head: miscommunication. He was waiting for her, she was waiting for him. "I believed that you were dismissing me from your life. You were concerned about your ability to continue working cases with me. You didn't want to be with me ... romantically. It felt like I was being erased."
"That hurt far more than your rejection. It nearly destroyed me. I had to take my feelings for you and stuff them away, pretend they didn't exist. Then I met Hannah. She was alive and happy and free - and she wanted me. She was easy to be with. She was fun. She made me feel desired. She made me feel like I mattered."
"You have always mattered to me, Booth."
He shook his head slowly. "I wasn't feeling it. I allowed myself to love Hannah. I told myself that I did. I convinced myself that our different goals would be worked out. It was new; you forgive new love a lot because it's so young. I would have stayed with it, with her, until we reached an impasse. And that's what happened. We reached a point where we had to decide if there would be compromise. There wasn't, so we separated. Does it mean that my love was not real? No. Does it mean that I have to morn that loss? No. It was what it was. I know that I was honest with her, as honest as I could be given the situation."
Brennan nodded. She was with him so far. But there was one more question to be answered.
"I never stopped loving you, but it was denied to me. You are a very decisive woman, Temperance Brennan. When you say no, you mean no. I admit I didn't react well particularly after we got back to work. Those feelings were still there and asking to be let out, but I had to suppress them back and I took that out on you. You understand?"
Brennan was still not good at metaphor, but she didn't ask him to explain. Maybe she would another day.
"But then one rainy night you changed all that. You reached in and opened the place where I had stuffed all those feelings."
"Booth, these metaphors are very confusing."
"You told me that you wanted me. You allowed me to love you."
"You said I was too late."
"You said you were too late. I said I was involved with someone else."
"And that she was not a consolation prize."
"She wasn't. Hannah was a choice I made after my first choice was denied to me. That's how love goes. I need love in my life Temperance. I have so much to give. I don't want to be alone anymore. There's no reason either of us has to be alone." He squeezed her hand.
"Yeah?" A smiled edged his lips.
"Yeah." She returned the smile.
He leaned closer to her. "Yeah?"
She leaned into him. "Yeah."
Booth closed the distance between them and sealed their new understanding with a kiss.
Booth felt that he had won a huge victory until Brennan pointed out that she still had every intention of going to Ireland the next day. She agreed with everything he said about what he wanted, about how they would move on together, what they could expect. Her only comments were that they take it slowly. It had been a very emotional time for all of them including Parker. Booth agreed. He finally accepted her choice to go to Ireland but made her promise to call, email, text and send a postcard every day while she was gone. Brennan felt that that was over kill, but agreed.
They had dinner that night - the three of them. Booth actually cooked - steak and baked potatoes, but at least it wasn't takeout food. It was a really nice comfortable evening. If Parker noticed he didn't let on, but Booth and Brennan were looking at each other differently. Their eyes held each other's gaze longer. They were on their way.
The good bye was done in the drive way. Several kisses, promises to be careful and to call were exchanged. Brennan refused the ride to the airport in the morning owing to Booth's new routine. In an effort to show Booth that she had heard his request to contact him during their separations, she called him when she got home. They talked for a while from bed. Not the silly stuff that normal pre-lovers discuss, but it was still very romantic.
Brennan woke early. She had to pack. More than twice she found herself lost in thought thinking about Booth. She enjoyed their new closeness. The timeframe no longer seemed too short. According to Booth time was relative. She didn't take up that argument. She got to the airport at least two hours early. She passed through security and was sitting in an airport restaurant/bar drinking coffee. Her mind was not on the trip or the research she would be doing. Ian O'Dwyer was the furthest thing from her mind. She began to question why she wanted to go. Yes, there was a new find and it would be very beneficial if she were there from the outset to do the investigation. In his last email O'Dwyer estimated the find to be from the Iron Age. It was incredible; too good to pass up. An experience she would probably never be afforded again. Once in a lifetime.
Brennan looked down at her ticket. Boarding was still over an hour away. It was a sixteen hour flight to Dublin, and another several hours out to the site. She had made longer treks for less important finds. She checked the time again. She made a decision. She picked up her carry-on bag and headed away from the gate. The further away from the gate she got, the more quickly she walked until she was practically running for the airport entrance. Just as she was passing security a TSA agent stopped her.
"Dr Brennan," he called to her as two other men blocked her way. "You are Dr. Brennan, aren't you?"
"Yes, but I'm in a terrible hurry."
"Yes, ma'am I can see that, but I am sorry you will have to come with me."
"Why? I'm leaving. I won't be getting on the plane."
"Yes, ma'am. But you have already checked your luggage. You are aware that it is a federal offence to leave the airport after you have checked your bag."
"You are not serious."
"I'm very serious, Dr. Brennan. Please come with me."
She reluctantly followed him to a sterile room. They sat in silence for at least five minutes.
"Are you going to question me?"
"No ma'am. We are waiting for your ... luggage to be retrieved."
"Do you think I put something in my luggage?"
"That's what we will find out."
"This is ridiculous. You do know that I work with the FBI."
"Really?" The guard was unimpressed.
"FBI ... Special Agent Seeley Booth, Major Crimes Investigation, D.C. Bones Identifies bodies for us."
Brennan turned to see Booth standing in the doorway looking every bit the White Knight she knew he was. Brennan's face broke into a grand smile. Without turning back to the TSA agent she asked, "You received a hold for questioning request from the FBI, didn't you?" She stood and walked toward Booth.
Booth flashed a charmed smile.
"She's all yours," the TSA agent said as he slipped from the room.
"Yes, she is." Booth said. They were standing very close.
"Yes, I am."
They hesitated before both speaking at once.
"You're not going," he said.
"I'm not going," she said.
They folded into an embraced and kissed.
"Can we get out of here?" she asked.
"Any where you want to go."
"My apartment." Her voice was low and breathy. A sly smile edged her lips and there was a twinkle in her eyes.
He kissed her again and led her from the room with his hand no longer at the small of her back; it was firmly on the waist holding her close.
Several hours later they were entwined in each other's arms in her bedroom. She had her head on his shoulder and her hand on his chest making lazy circles. His arm was around her and he was running his fingers over the soft skin of her arms. They were happy.
"So what will you do about your book?" he asked.
"I will put that one away."
"Yeah, I have an idea for another Kathy Reichs story."
"Yeah, I think she has a lot more story left to tell."
"Yes she does." He kissed the top of her head and pulled her close to him. "Will Agent Andy be in it?"
She tilted her face up to his. "Of course. Where would Kathy be without Andy?" She kissed his lips lightly.
"I'm hoping we never find out." He kissed her back but it wasn't lightly.
A/N: Long live Booth and Brennan - together at last - with a lot more story to tell.