AN - I've been debating all week about whether or not I wanted to do a "tag" story to follow "The Daredevil in the Mold." This finally hit me tonight, and decided it was time to come out. What started out as a one-shot became a multi-chapter in my mind… so here it is, chapter one.

I don't usually bother with disclaimers, because we all know I don't own anything related to "BONES," but since a big chunk of dialogue in this chapter came from the episode, I felt it was only right to remind you that part isn't mine. ;-)

Please read and review… I hope you'll be interested in my continuing and that your words will spur the muse to keep going.

The Propulsion in the Parting

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"Those are my only choices?"

"Yeah. Those are your only choices."

"Then I'll have a drink," she answered resolutely, bringing the shot glass to her lips.

And it was this way that they sat for the next two hours until the bartender called "Last Call."

They sat silently side-by-side; partners, friends, would-be lovers, soul-mates.

Brennan hoped that Booth hadn't noticed she wasn't keeping pace with him. She knew one of them had to be clearheaded enough to get him home, and that wasn't going to be Booth… not on this night.

She dropped some bills on the bar and turned to her partner.

"Come on, Booth," she said. "It's time to go home."

She knew that Hannah had already cleared out, and though going home would be painful for Booth, at least he wouldn't have to worry about running into his now ex-girlfriend. Brennan watched as Booth stood, or more rather leaned on the bar, to follow her. His anger seemed to have dissipated, at least for the time being. She was surprised and slightly concerned at how easily he acquiesced… but she didn't question it out loud. She would think and ponder and question when she was alone in her own apartment, but for now her only goal was to get Booth safely to his.

"Your cab's here, Dr. Brennan," the bartender said, nodding toward the door.

"Thanks, Ben," she replied.

"Need any help?" the man asked.

"No," she answered, "I think we'll be all right."

"Let's go," she said, turning her attention back to her partner.

Still, Booth said nothing as he let her lead him to the front door and out into the waiting cab.

She gave the driver his address and closed her eyes as she leaned her head back against the seat. Booth was staring out the window watching the scenery go by, and she was afraid to consider what thoughts might be going through his mind.

They were both pulled from their respective reveries when the cab pulled up in front of the liquor store. Brennan handed the driver a twenty and asked him to wait.

"Sure thing, lady," he said. "Meter's running."

She climbed out of the cab and went around to the other side to extricate her partner. The short ride seemed to have sobered him a little and his coordination was much better than when they'd left the bar. He still had to lean on her, but she had little trouble getting him in to the building.

"You're going to have to help me get you up the stairs, Booth," she said. "I can't do it on my own."

He nodded and took more of the burden of his own weight. He managed the stairs fairly well on his own, knowing she was there if he had to reach out to her. They arrived at his door with only a few stumbles between them.

"Booth," she said, "I need the key."

"Use yours," he mumbled.

The silence in the moment was deafening.

"You don't have it," he said.

"No," she answered. There was so much more to say about why she felt uncomfortable carrying the key to his apartment while he lived with another woman… but now was not the time to have such a conversation, so she let the words die on her lips.

"In my jacket pocket," he said. "Left side"

She reached around from behind, supporting his weight on her shoulders as she leaned in to unlock the door. Once inside, she led him to the sofa and made her way to the bedroom. She set about changing the sheets, and began to wonder if he'd be angry with her for it in the morning. Maybe he'd want to be close to Hannah somehow… but deep inside she knew that wasn't what he needed. She made the bed and turned down the covers and then stepped into the bathroom.

She went out to the kitchen and poured a glass of water. She grabbed a bottle of Gatorade from the refrigerator and took both back to the bedroom. She set them on his nightstand along with two aspirin. She helped him get undressed and into bed. He lay down and turned his back to her.

Quietly, she turned and made her way out of his room, down the hall and out of his apartment.

When he heard the door shut behind her, he finally allowed himself the tears he'd been holding back since he'd heard Hannah utter those words.

"I thought we'd have more time…"

Bitch.

She knew what he wanted, and she knew they would get to this place. Why had she let it get this far?

He knew he was being unkind, unfair… and he didn't care. She was right, she had told him in so many ways, but he'd refused to listen. He had wanted so badly to get over Bones that he tried to make Hannah, and their relationship into something that they weren't.

His heart was broken into a million pieces and all he wanted to do was cry… like a little baby. Seeley Booth, big bad Ranger… FBI guy… was gonna cry himself to sleep over a woman.

No, not over a woman… over the fact that he would never have the life he'd always dreamed of. No woman could ever love him enough to give him "forever." Maybe this was his penance for all the rotten things he'd done in his life.

He reached over and grabbed her pillow. It didn't smell like her… Bones had changed the sheets.

God, why did she have to think of everything? Why did she have to be so damned perfect?

He buried his face in the pillow and sobbed until he fell asleep.

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Brennan arrived at her apartment, locked the door and leaned against it, closing her eyes. She was so confused over what had taken place tonight.

At first she'd been angry with Hannah. She'd broken her promise. Brennan had told her that Booth was going to give her his whole heart, and she promised she wouldn't break it. She should have known that she couldn't trust anyone else with Booth's heart. No one knew him like she did, and she was beginning to realize that no one ever would.

She went to her room and stripped out of her clothes as she ran herself a bath. She ran the water as hot as she could stand it and poured in some of the foaming liquid that sat on the side of the tub.

She sank down into the tub and thought about what had transpired that evening.

She thought about the phone call from Hannah and how the woman had sounded so broken up when she told her that Booth needed her. Quite frankly, she couldn't remember much of the conversation… as soon as Hannah had told her what had happened between her and Booth, the only thing on Brennan's mind was her partner.

She vaguely remembered hearing the other woman when she told her that she was clearing out of Booth's apartment and would be gone within the hour…

She vaguely remembered the pang of disgust that rumbled in the pit of her stomach when Hannah laughed off her "vagabond life…"

She vaguely remembered getting in a cab and heading straight to the Founding Fathers, hoping against hope that she still knew her partner as well as she thought she did.

Her memory was vivid from this point.

She remembered the strong sense of relief from seeing him sitting at the end of the bar.

She remembered physically holding herself back from reaching out to him.

She remembered the pain that she felt but couldn't explain when they held their brief conversation.

She remembered the words that he'd said…

"So, what happens next?" she asked, hopeful.

"What happens next?" he repeated, his voice dripping with sarcasm. He scoffed. "What… I mean, you like evidence, right Bones? Well here's the evidence. The evidence is that there's something wrong here. I fell in love with a woman…. I had a kid. She doesn't want to marry me. Well… And then… the next woman, well she's…"

"Me…"

"Yeah. And now… I mean… what is it with women who just don't want what I'm offering here?"

"Booth…"

"No. No, just…you know what? Drink. Drink. I just… really… I'm just mad. I'm just really mad at all of you. All right… I'm just mad. Okay, so you wanna know how this is gonna work? Okay, this is how it's gonna work. Me and you are partners. That's what we do. We're partners. And I love that. I think that's great. And uh, we're good people who catch bad people, right? Yeah… and, and we argue… we're partners we go back and forth… and sometimes after we solve a case, we come here and we celebrate. That's what we do. We celebrate. So as far as I can see, that is what happens next. Are you okay with that?"

She wasn't okay with it. She wanted so much more. She wanted him to say that this was their chance. They had another chance to have their moment. But even she, with her lousy track record with relationships, and her social ineptitude, even she knew that now wasn't the time for that. So she didn't speak, her heart felt like it was being crushed inside her chest, but she'd sat there quietly and let him continue.

"'Cause if you are, I tell you what… you stay here and have a drink with me. All right, maybe we have a little small talk, chit-chat… If you're not, well… you can leave. There's the door. And tomorrow I'll find you a new FBI guy."

"Those are my only choices?"

"Yeah. Those are your only choices."

"Then I'll have a drink."

Now, laying here in her bathtub, up to her nose in the rose scented bubble bath that Angela brought her back from Paris, Temperance Brennan realized what she had to do. It was up to her to prove to Booth that he had always been right… that there was a reason for everything… that they were meant to be right where they were at this moment… and that he was most definitely worthy of love.