AN- This story is my immediate reaction to "The Sin in the Sisterhood" and the preview for "The Daredevil in the Mold." I remain spoiler-free beyond the previews for each episode so if you've seen the preview, you won't get spoiled by this story. As always, please review. :-)
The Realization in the Ring
"I'm buying a ring tomorrow…."
Seeley Booth sat back at his desk on Monday morning, staring at the glistening object in his hands. Thinking back to the conversation with Sweets that led to his hasty purchase, he began to kick himself- metaphorically speaking, of course. How had he let the kid goad him into a life changing declaration again? What had he been thinking?
He looked at the ring… it was beautiful. Timeless platinum and tiny diamonds surrounding a traditional princess cut solitaire. Classic… and so not Hannah. She would hate it. This was just another sign leading him to the fact that when he thought of forever, he didn't think of Hannah Burley. At least not in his heart of hearts.
He loved Hannah.
But did he love her enough?
He thought back to another conversation.
"Bones, you can love a lot of people in this life, but there's only one that you love the most."
"But what if you let that person get away?"
"That person isn't going anywhere."
He hadn't realized what he'd said at the time, but it was becoming clearer to him every day. Bones was the one. Temperance Brennan was the one he loved the most.
He didn't know what he was going to do- but he knew that he couldn't marry Hannah. He slipped the ring in his pocket just as Charlie popped his head into his office.
"You've got a case," Charlie said. "Metro just fished a floater out of the Potomac and they're requesting Dr. Brennan's help."
"I'm on it," Booth replied. "Thanks, Charlie."
It was late when Booth finally made it home. The case was tougher than he'd expected, the body was in the late stages of decomp, so it was no wonder that the PD needed the squints' help. Several hours after moving the body to the Jeffersonian, they had discovered that the vic was a witness in a major RICO case, so the investigation was turned over from Metro to the FBI with Booth as lead.
The apartment was dark and he didn't want to wake Hannah. He slipped off his shoes and dropped his jacket over a chair at the dining table. He went to the kitchen and poured himself a glass of water and then made his way to Parker's room.
He wasn't sure how he was going to handle the situation with Hannah, but he knew that when he was this conflicted, sleeping with her would just be wrong.
He climbed in between the Spiderman sheets and fell into a fitful sleep.
Hannah woke to the sun shining into the window and illuminating the empty bed beside her. She vaguely remembered hearing Seeley come home the night before, but it was obvious that he never joined her in their bed.
She got up and pulled on one of his shirts that had been hung over the foot of the bed. She walked out to the kitchen to make coffee. Hannah smiled a warm smile when she saw her boyfriend's jacket slung over the chair. She picked it up and held it to her, basking in his essence. She dropped the jacket back on the chair and heard a quiet "thud" as she turned to go into the kitchen.
Turning back, she noticed the small, square velvet box on the dining room floor.
"Oh my god," she whispered, drawing her hands up to cover her mouth.
She bent down to pick up the box, and stood holding it in her shaking hands. She was tempted to open the box, but she stopped herself. Hannah Burley was a hardcore journalist who hated surprises, but this was one surprise she didn't want to spoil.
She was so lost in her thoughts that she didn't notice the man walking out of the bathroom straightening his tie.
Booth stopped dead in his tracks.
"Oh god," he gasped.
"Seeley," Hannah said, her surprise evident. She smiled up at him, biting her bottom lip as she showed him the box she held in her hand.
"Hannah," he said, feeling as if his guts were being ripped apart. "It's not what you think."
God,that sounded lame.
"It's not what I think?" she repeated. This wasn't exactly how she expected this conversation to go. "It's not what I think," she said softly. "Isn't it?"
Sadly, he shook his head.
She opened the box.
"This is an engagement ring," she said.
He didn't respond.
"That's exactly what I thought," she went on. "It's beautiful," she said. "Not exactly what I would have chosen…"
It was in that moment when she was slapped in the face with the reality of the situation.
"Oh god," she said. "It isn't for me."
Immediately, Booth jumped to her side.
"No," he said. "I did buy it for you. I did. But…"
"But you weren't going to give it to me."
He dropped his head and shook it slowly.
"What's going on, Seeley?" she asked, reaching out to take his hand. "You've been acting strangely for a while now."
"Hannah," he said, glancing down at their joined hands before looking up into her beautiful face. "I love you," he said.
"I know, babe," she replied. "I love you, too."
This was going to be so much harder than he imagined. He found himself wishing he'd had more time to figure out what he was going to say.
"I love you," he repeated. "But it's not enough."
To say she was shocked would have been an understatement. The look on her face was like a physical blow to him.
"What do you mean?" she asked. "How is it not enough?"
"You deserve more than I can give you, Hannah," he said, dejectedly.
"I don't know what that means, Seeley," she said, her voice thickening around the lump forming in her throat.
God, why did she have to use those words?
"Hannah," he said. "You are an amazing woman and you have brought so much to my life. Hell, you saved my life…"
"But I'm not enough?" she asked, sniffing back the tears that were threatening to fall.
"God no," he said. "That's not what I meant. Hannah, you're incredible. But it's me… I'm not enough. I can't give you everything you deserve. You deserve someone who can love you with his whole heart."
"And you can't?" she asked, a hint of bitterness creeping into her voice.
He shook his head.
"So what have we been doing all this time?" she asked angrily. "Have you been playing me? Just waiting for something better to come along?"
"No, no of course not. Hannah," he pleaded. "I do love you. I wanted this, I wanted us… I bought the ring… but then I realized it wouldn't be fair to you to ask you to give everything to someone who wasn't able to do the same."
"You keep saying that," she said as she began to pace the room. "What the hell does that mean, Seeley? Are you saying that there's someone else?"
He looked away, unable to meet her eyes.
"I can't give you my whole heart," he said, digging deep around his guilt to find his strength. "Because it isn't mine to give. I gave a big part of it away a long time ago."
Then it hit her.
"Temperance," she said softly. It was the only thing that made sense… how well she knew him, her protectiveness…
"Before I left for Afghanistan, I asked her for a relationship, and she turned me down. She wasn't ready, and she thought she may never be. I told her I had to move on and I wanted to… I thought it would happen when I got back. I didn't count on you."
"Did you ever love me?"
"Yes," he answered. "God, yes. I didn't plan to fall in love in a war zone… but I did. Hannah, I know you don't believe me right now, but I really hate this. I don't want to hurt you, but I know that unless I'm honest with myself and my feelings that I would end up hurting us all even more in the long run." He thought back to his conversation with Bones. "I love you, Hannah. I do. We can love a lot of people in this life, but there's only one that you love the most."
"Does she love you, too?"
"I think so," he answered. After everything else he was putting her through, he couldn't bring himself to remind Hannah about Bones' confession on that rainy night. And to be truthful, he wasn't sure she'd allow him into her life in that way now… but if their recent conversations were any indication…
She reached up to wipe at the tears she couldn't keep from slipping down her cheeks.
"Go to work, Seeley," she said softly, trying to retain what was left of her dignity. "I'll be gone when you get back."
"No, Seeley," she said firmly. "Don't. This is the only way. I want to be the bigger person and wish you and Temperance well, but I don't know if I can. I just need to go, I'm sure I can get reassigned back to the Middle East. You and I both know I wasn't cut out for stateside domestic life, anyway."
"For what it's worth," he said. "I'm sorry."
"I know," she said, watching as he picked up his keys, his gun, his badge and his phone from the table beside the door.
She waited until the door closed behind him before she dropped down to the floor and let her tears flow in earnest.
Booth climbed into the driver's seat of his SUV. Involuntarily, his eyes turned up toward the window of his apartment.
He hated the way that he had hurt Hannah, but he knew there had been no other way. And really, it was probably best that it happened sooner rather than later… he only wished that she hadn't found the ring. For a long time, he would be haunted by the light he saw in her eyes when she realized what she was holding in her hand.
What he wanted to do now was to go directly to Bones and tell her everything. He would beg her to give him, to give them another chance. But this time, there would be no talk of gambles or regrets. They would start over… a clean slate. The past was in the past and they would look forward to their future.
But he couldn't go to her now.
It was too soon…too much. And besides they had a murder to solve. Instead, he turned the vehicle in the direction that bakery she and Angela raved about. He'd pick up coffee and bagels for everyone.
As he stood in line at the bakery trying to remember everyone's favorites, he realized just how long it had been since he'd done something like this. He'd been making an effort in the last weeks to spend more time with Bones, to try to repair the damage that time and space had done to their partnership… but it wasn't only Bones he'd been ignoring. He could count on one hand the number of times he'd gone to the lab in the last few months just to hang out.
He had a lot of making up to do.
On Friday night, Booth was driving to Rebecca's to pick up Parker when a thought occurred to him. The case was solved. Hannah was gone, she'd already reported to her new post in Kabul. Seeley Booth wanted to put the stress of the week behind him and relax. He really wanted to spend some time with his two favorite people.
He sent Parker out to wait in the car while he spoke to his mother. He let Rebecca know that he'd broken up with Hannah and that he'd be talking to Parker about it over the weekend. Rebecca told him she was sorry and that she hoped he would be okay. He thanked her and reached out to accept the hug she was offering.
"Don't wait too long to go to Dr. Brennan," she whispered in his ear.
"Anytime, Seeley," she said, smiling as she watched him walk back to his car.
He climbed into the driver's seat and looked at his son in the rearview mirror. He was growing up so fast.
"Hey Parks, why don't you come up here?"
"I get to sit in the front? Cool. Where's Hannah?" the boy asked as he scrambled over the console and into the front passenger's seat.
Booth considered how to answer his son. He could try to sugar-coat things, but Parker was almost eleven, he could understand a break-up. He'd been through enough of Rebecca's.
"She's not coming tonight, Bub," he said. "In fact, she won't be coming with us anymore."
"You guys broke up?" Parker asked.
"Yeah," Booth answered with a nod. "We did."
"So that means she's not gonna live with us anymore either, right?"
"Right," Booth answered slowly. "Are you okay with that?"
"Yeah," Parker answered, taking it in stride. "I mean, Hannah's cool and I'm gonna miss her and all... But I think it's probably for the best."
Parker gave him a look that clearly said, 'Duh, Dad.'
"I think we all know that Hannah wasn't the best girl for you."
"You don't think so, huh?" Booth said with a smile. "Then who is?"
"You've got to figure that out for yourself, Dad," Parker said sagely. "I just hope it doesn't take forever."
Booth decided a change of subject was in order… sort of.
"Hey Parks," he said. "Let's do something we haven't done in a while."
"Minature golf?" the boy asked.
"We could," his father answered. "But I was thinking maybe we could grab a movie and a couple of pizzas and go over to Bones' place."
"All right!" Parker exclaimed with a fist pump worthy of a gathering of guidos.
Temperance Brennan sat alone in her apartment. Angela had invited her out to the manor for the weekend. She thought her friend could use some "girl time," but Brennan had refused. She used the excuse of working on her latest manuscript, but in truth she simply wasn't up to Angela's questioning.
Her best friend knew her almost as well as her partner did… or at least as well as he used to. Angela could see that something was different and she'd been asking about it, thus far Brennan had been able to avoid the questions but she knew she couldn't do it forever- and there was no way she'd be able to if Angela was holding her captive at the Hodgins estate. No, it was much better she spend the weekend at home, alone.
This being the direction of her thoughts, she was startled by the knock at her front door.
She opened it to find the Booth boys standing in her hallway, pizza in hand.
"Peep hole, Bones," Booth said. "How many times do I have to tell you to check before you answer the door?"
"Booth?" She was stunned as her partner and his son walked past her and into the apartment.
"Parker, what are you doing here?"
"Dad broke up with Hannah," the boy said, matter-of-fact. "And we wanted to hang out with you. We brought pizza. And a movie. Secretariat… I think it's probably pretty girly, but Dad said you would like it."
"I'm sure I will, Parker," she answered, still in somewhat of a daze.
"Go take it in by the TV, Parks," Booth instructed. "We'll go fix some drinks and be in in a minute."
He set the pizza down on the table and led his partner towards her kitchen.
:"What's going on, Booth?" she asked.
"Just what Parker said," he answered. He reached out to take her hand. "Hannah's gone, Bones. We broke up a few days ago and she's already back in Afghanistan."
"Why?" she asked, biting her bottom lip.
"I think you know why," he answered. "It wasn't right," he said.
"I don't understand," she said, her eyes glistening.
"Hannah wasn't the one I love the most, Bones."
"No," he said, gently pressing under her chin so she would look him in the eye. "It's always been you, Bones. Remember? I'm that guy. I knew. I still know. I got a little lost along the way, but this is where I'm supposed to be… I don't want either of us to have any regrets."
"No," she said, smiling through her tears. "No regrets."
He pulled her into his arms and leaned down to press his forehead against hers.
"This is it, Bones," he said. "Last chance for us to have all of those firsts… first date, first kiss…"
"First time making love?" she asked.
"Yeah, that too," he said with a grin. "I want us to take our time, do it right…"
"I think I would like that," she answered.
"Hey! Are you guys coming or what? I'm starving!"
They laughed, their foreheads still touching.
He reached up and gently cupped her cheek as he leaned in to place a sweet kiss against her lips.
"We'd better get those drinks," she said, smiling.
"Yeah," he replied. "Wouldn't want the kid to starve to death, his mother would kill me."
Recognizing his hyperbole for what it was, she smiled back at him.
"Come on, Booth," she said. "Let's go watch a movie."