Author's note: PLEASE READ THIS FIRST! Lovely fellow Bones lovers. I wrote this story in the week between the promo and the ep. I was so anxious, so emotional. I expected to be heart-crushed. But right now I just want to hug and cuddle every single one of you. Starting with Emily, of course. I loved it so much! Everything about it. If you follow me on twitter, you probably got my ramblings. "I can adjust." "I did." "Yes, you did." Full circle. She knows now, and he knows that she does. However, I decided to post this fic full of despair after all. It's a different take on the whole storyline.
All my love to dreamingahead who did an amazing beta job despite her snow shoveling and university duties. Love you, girl!
Shattered (Nowhere Left to Fall)
In a night full of darkness and fear – a long time ago – Temperance Brennan had allowed herself a glimpse into another world. A world where love wasn't a scary, unknown variable but the pillars of her being, strong enough to build a life upon. Sitting next to Booth's hospital bed, guarding his coma dream, she had written about the risks. The burdens whose weight we feel on our backs – but like wings they are burdens which allow us to fly.
Right now she could feel the weight again, but something was wrong with her wings. They seemed to have lost their ability to spread; they were resting on her back, pressing her down, broken and drenched like the rest of her...
When Booth parked the car in front of Brennan's building, the rain had stopped and his exhausted partner on the passenger seat had fallen asleep under the weight of her misery. He sighed, his heart aching at the sight of her so vulnerable.
She had spoken about regrets, the signal of the universe and the mistake she had made. And he had gotten the message – even the unspoken part. After all, he had been there. But right now it felt like a lifetime ago.
Since their return from the other ends of the world, Seeley Booth hadn't allowed himself to look at Temperance Brennan too long or too deep. He had told her he had to move on, and so he did. In the last months he had tried to build himself another life, one with laughter, warmth and easiness. One that did not center around her.
Looking at her pale face in the sharp moonlight, he could still see traces of tears on her beautiful cheeks. Her long lashes were damp and dark, a touching contrast to the ivory tone of her skin. Though asleep, she didn't seem to be at peace, and Booth could only guess what was going on in her mind.
A year ago he had known her by heart – he could tell by the change of the blue in her eyes when something bothered or delighted her. But moving on had demanded sacrifices; the biggest of them being the familiarity with the one person who used to mean everything to him.
Booth let his eyes wander over her sleeping form. She was thinner than he remembered, and there were new furrows on her forehead, but, still, even in her darkest moment – she was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen.
Closing his eyes in desperation, Booth rubbed his face with his hands. He was with another woman now, and he couldn't allow himself to get too close to Temperance Brennan again. When it came to her, he was just like a stupid moth, circling around a flame that would – eventually – burn it.
Making his decision, he nudged her gently with his arm.
"Hey, Bones, you have to wake up. You're home."
She stirred, but mewed in protest, and the little whimper hit him with unexpected force, tenderness exploding in his chest, consuming him.
He caressed her cheek with the back of his hand.
"Bones, open your eyes, only a few stairs and you can crash."
The moment he made contact with her skin, feeling the softness of it, her own hand searched for his, clasping around it, and Booth freeze.
He had to stop this. Now. As fast as he could get her safely inside wouldn't be fast enough.
Debating his options another time, he finally disentangled his hand from her cold fingers and left the car. Opening her door, unfastening the seat belt and scooping her up in his arms happened in the blink of an eye, and Booth's heart got heavy as he noticed her unusual light weight.
Immediately, her head fell into the crook of his neck, and her scent invaded his nostrils. Booth fought against the forbidden longing that flooded his cells at the smell of lavender, rain and Temperance Brennan.
Taking a deep breath, he set himself in motion, entering her building. He had a woman waiting for him at home, and he was already walking on a thin line here.
A few minutes later they had made it into the sanctuary of her apartment, and he carried her straight into the bathroom, aware that she could not possibly sleep as soaked as she was.
"Bones, wake up. You have to change."
Her eyelids fluttered open, and Booth lost himself in baby blue despair. For a moment, before she blinked, he could feel himself falling into her pain.
Then she nodded in acceptance, and he set her down carefully, ready to catch her if her legs would not support her. But she stood, and as soon as he was sure that she would be safe, he turned away, giving her some space.
While he rummaged around in her kitchen in an attempt to brew a hot tea for her, two voices were fighting inside of his head. One yelled at him to flee, to rescue himself from the danger of being too close to this woman. Again.
The second voice didn't not scream at all; it was barely a whisper that reminded him of five years of caring about her. Telling her about pop culture and emotions. Holding her in guy hugs that had never been meaningless. Crashing on her couch at night, over empty Chinese boxes and case files.
It was the one he listened to, and when she finally emerged from her bathroom, clad in a huge pale pink terrycloth robe, he could see evidence of fresh tears on her cheeks.
"Thanks, Booth. I'm fine now. You can go."
Not even awaiting his response, she turned in the direction of her bedroom, closing the door behind her, and Booth found himself alone in her kitchen with a mug of tea that seemed to mock him.
A sigh of defeat left his chest, and he almost made it out of her apartment, when he heard the sobs. They seemed to be muffled – maybe by a pillow – but without a doubt she was crying again, and the sound of it broke his heart.
The voices in his head groaned in unison as he set himself in motion, silencing completely when he turned the doorknob.
He could see her silhouette in the city's dim night light that shone in trough the windows. She was lying on her stomach, a pillow crushed to her chest.
"Booth," she tried to suppress her sobs, "please go home."
His voice was unusually high and broke on the last syllable.
Slipping out of his shoes, he lowered himself onto the mattress next to her, not even caring anymore about his own wet clothes or the mistake he was going to make. The only though left was comforting her, and in doing so, somehow rescuing himself.
Reaching out to her was inevitable, and she went rigid in his arms. He ignored it, simply ignored it and pulled her closer, embracing her with his warmth.
"Booth, what are you doing?"
"I don't know. All I know is that I cannot leave you like this, it's tearing me apart."
Her voice was tortured, but she managed a last word of protest before her body gave in, finally melting against his. Her arms came around his back on a will of their own, and she buried her nose in the spot where his head met his shoulder, inhaling deeply.
The moment he felt her response, Booth couldn't hold back his own sobs anymore, and he almost suffocated her with the power of his embrace.
It was wrong, so wrong, for a million different reasons, but nothing about holding her like this felt wrong, and in this very moment Booth didn't care about the consequences.
Searching her lips with his own, he met no resistance. She was soft, so soft, like rose petals and a hummingbird's wing. When her lips parted and he felt the tip of her warm tongue against his own, he fought against the tears, finally sliding home.
His hands roamed over her body, and cradling her sweet face in his palms, he explored the velvety depths of her mouth.
He swallowed her moans, unwilling to hear any word of regret right now.
Being kissed and held by her partner, Brennan felt as if the world was quaking, and she clung to his strong body for dear life. He was light and warmth, and with him gone, she would be numb again. He tasted like meals in the Diner, drinks at the Founding Father's and take-out at night. Everything was so new and familiar at the same time that Brennan had no strength to resist.
Her hands found their way to the buttons of his shirt on their own, and her body was vibrating with life, every ounce of desperation being washed away by the sensations he was creating.
Soon his naked chest was pressed to her clothed one, and she felt his heat warming her through the robe.
He discarded the rest of his clothes with impatient kicking, his hand loosening the tie of her robe at the same time until he could bury his face in the satiny skin between her breasts. Her breasts. Unable to stand the temptation, he showered the soft curves with sweet kisses, finally tugging one taut nipple into his mouth.
It elicited a whimper from her, and he sucked harder, addicted to the noises she made.
Since his return from Afghanistan, Seeley Booth had felt as if he was falling freely. As if he was leading someone else's life. What he hadn't known was that he was falling into her.
Landing directly on top of her.
When she parted her legs in silent invitation, he settled between her thighs and stilled, looking into her eyes a very last time before it was too late. Before he buried himself into her, finally joining them in the last connection they had never made, crossing a line that could never be uncrossed again.
He saw the moth and its flame in the blue orbs and an ocean that was so rough to sail that he had settled for the second best; a safe haven that could never make him forget how wide the ocean was, how thrilling its waves.
A year ago this boat had been broken, and Booth knew that more healing had to take place before it could be whole again, but – however battered it was – not boat could possibly withstand the call of the sea. After all, it was its nature. It was what it was made for.
The moment before he touched her so intimately for the first time, he saw paths in his mind; some he had chosen, others he could still choose, but for the first time he was able to take in the whole picture; the overwhelming clarity that there was no path that would not – eventually – lead him to her.
There was nothing in this world that would make Seeley Booth as whole as Temperance Brennan could.
Then he entered her.
Home. He was home.
A home he had never known before, but with certainty that is very hard to find in this world – maybe once or twice in a lifetime, and only if you're very lucky – he knew it to be true. There was nothing in this world that could ever feel as right as this woman.
She whimpered, as he stretched her fully, her legs widened in acceptance – knowing that although this was the wrong thing at the wrong time, there was no way not to do it. Not to love him. Not to welcome him.
His face pressed into her hair, his arm securely around her shoulder blades, Booth began to move, stroking in and out of her in a rhythm that mimicked the rolling of the ocean.
Her fingers digging into the small of his back, she pulled him in deeper, his movement being the only lifeline left.
She almost cried his name, and he forced himself to leave the silkiness of her thick, dark hair to search her gaze. He did not move his lips, but as he continued to slide in and out of her, his eyes were speaking; telling about everything and nothing until all that was left were naked emotions.
Tears were pooling again, and both of them blinked them aside, unwilling to lose any fiber of this connection; unaware that there are things in this world that cannot be lost.
Then she arched her back, throwing her head into the pillows, and the contractions started, drawing him in tighter and tighter.
His nails cutting into her hips, he thrust with full force, his unrestrained passion almost painful, as he hit her until there was nothing left to break.
Without closing her eyes she came apart, and the intensity in her gaze sent him over the edge as well. Trembling and pumping and trembling he filled her, his hot seed shooting into her body with desperate power.
Crossing her ankles behind his back, Brennan tried to hold him as close as possible. She knew that their time was borrowed, stolen even, and she dreaded the moment when he would pull away from her. So she kissed him another time, almost bruising his mouth, drinking from him as if she was drowning.
And truth be told: She was. For all her life, Temperance Brennan had been good at building walls, but tonight she was nude; the shattered pieces of her self-defense lying on the floor around her. Her three days of upside down not over yet.
His heartbeat returned to normal, but still he was buried in the sweetness that was his partner.
Lifting his head, he brushed her damp bangs out of her eyes, stealing another kiss from her swollen lips.
Then realization hit him.
Brennan knew the exact moment when fear and guilt overwhelmed him, and although he was still deep inside of her, she could sense his retreat.
Fully aware that she owed him and herself at least some dignity, she closed her eyes, loosening her grip on him.
The second he rolled down from her, she felt cold invading every pore of her body, and she wrapped the forgotten robe tightly around herself, determined to stay calm until he would be gone.
Watching him collecting his clothes was too much, though, and with eyes wide shut, Brennan recited every bone in the human body, trying not to feel.
Then he was fully dressed.
Breathe. 'Mandible. Maxilla. Palatine bone. Colombo. Oreo.᾽ Breathe.
"It's okay, Booth. You can leave," she finally managed to say.
"I... I'm sorry..."
She heard him fleeing, his footsteps heavy with anxiety and grief. Then her door closed, and Brennan took another deep breath.
"I'm sorry as well. For being too late."
She shifted onto her stomach again, a pillow in her arms, right there where his solid body had been only a few moments ago. She felt dampness at the insides of her thighs – his seed mingled with her own fluids, dripping out of her.
Proof of life.
More stars appeared on the firmament, their dust providing mankind with the romantic magic of a glistening starry sky. But tonight every star was a sob, every sparkle a falling tear. And heaven joined one lonely woman in mourning something great that had almost happened.
What had he done?
What had he done?
Seeley Booth had done many things in his life he wasn't proud of, but never before had he been unfaithful. He wasn't a cheater.
Riding the empty streets of Washington D.C., Booth could still smell the lingering scent of her and their lovemaking.
What had he done?
Tonight he had betrayed the trust of two women he valued so highly.
What had he done?
When he had met Hannah in Afghanistan, he had felt old and defeated. She had brought back the life, the laughter.
He respected and adored her, but now he realized that he had been living a lie. His own words were haunting him. Bones, you are the standard. How could he have been stupid enough to think that a revelation like that might change because of lightheaded fun underneath a fig tree?
He had wanted to be happy with Hannah, but it seemed that Gordon Gordon was right after all. As ludicrous as it might be sometimes, the heart chooses what it chooses. People have no say in that matter.
And his heart was beating for a brilliant forensic anthropologist with big pleading eyes, as blue and wide as the ocean.
For her and her alone.
Unlocking his front door an hour later, the words tumbled out of his mouth.
"I have slept with Bones."
PLEASE, listen to me one more time. If you're angry right now and want to yell... believe me, I've always been the first to protest, "He would never cheat." But sometimes people – even the honest and strong ones – have weak moments and do something they're not proud of. TPTB made him say, "no," with so much grace, and this time I take their story over mine. However, please read the next chapter, and if you're still angry then, abandon me.