A/N: Let me tell you about a little invention called Jenny Points or JPs for short. I invented them in high school as a way of manipulating my competitive friends into willingly doing nice stuff for me. I dole out 10 at a time when things make me super happy. This system has gotten me far. In the FF world, 150 JPs get you a free OS of your choosing and Biba79 is the first person to cash in her pile o' points. Her command was: "A week after the 100th, Booth decides to take a vacation to clear his head, or maybe stay away from Bren for a while since she just broke his heart." I hope you enjoy, B! Love you! *hugs*
Disclaimer: This chapter is brought to you by Bones, Kenny Chesney and Grace Potter. I own some Bones DVDs and a few ticket stubs from Grace Potter shows, i.e. none of these things.
Booth sighed as he stared at the form on his desk. He knew that everything happened for a reason, but he was sure as Hell disagreeing with whatever reason God could give him for this. She had done it again, leaned in close and smiled that smile. It was unintentional, of course. Like everything she did, she had no idea the effect it had on him. He was her plaything. There was no other way to say it.
He desperately needed this vacation, desperately needed some time (and space) to clear his head. There was no way that he could ever get over her when she was around him all of the time. Every day he was confronted by the smell of her perfume or the cute expressions that she unknowingly made that had always made his heart clench in his chest. The past week had been torture, and he was actually qualified to speak on torture so he knew what he was talking about.
Why had he stupidly agreed to keep working together? Because the work that you do together is important, his inner voice replied. And it was important, to both him and her, that they kept doing it. They had something rare together and it was bigger than any personal issues they might have. However, this dedication to their work now made his life a living Hell. He picked up his pen, finding the strength to at least put his name on the form.
After all, she would understand.
Or maybe not.
He could play it off like he had always had this vacation time coming and he just hadn't told her.
April 19th, 2010
Or maybe not.
He threw his pen back down on the desk and sighed again. Why did this feel like he like he was betraying her?
Maybe because she valued truth over everything else and he was trying to find ways to lie to her.
Maybe because none of the other promises he had made in his life had ever meant this much.
Maybe because he actually was.
He closed his eyes and let the events of that night replay once again. He knew that he had been impulsive. He had wrecked every chance of them ever being together in a matter of seconds. Still, he honestly felt that if he couldn't have her, he would have to find love somewhere else. He still believed that there was someone out there for everyone. He had been through a lot of heartache in his life and while this bout was a little more complicated, he was certain it was just the current situation clouding his judgment. He would go away, take some time to clear his head, and come back ready to work. He inhaled sharply, rubbing his hands together in anticipation before picking up his pen and filling out the rest of the form.
Brennan was talking to one of her assistants when Booth walked into the lab.
"Hello." She said, surprised to see him. "Do we have a case?"
"No, I just needed to talk to you when you have a minute?" He said, fidgeting back and forth but not wanting to interrupt her when she was working. Brennan finished looking over the clipboard and nodded as she handed it back to its owner.
"What's up?" She asked as she headed back to her office. Booth waited until they both got inside and he shut the door behind him. She felt her stomach flip with nerves at the look of his serious face. "Is everything okay?" As soon as the words left her mouth, she realized that things were very far from okay and she immediately wished she hadn't asked the question out loud.
"I just wanted to give you a head's up that my yearly vacation is coming up next week and I'm going to be gone for a while." The fact that he didn't actually answer her original question did not go unnoticed.
"Oh, I wasn't aware you were going on vacation. Where are you going?" She asked, trying to look as unfazed as possible. He was just going on vacation. He went every year. It had nothing to do with her.
"I haven't decided yet." He said. "Somewhere with a beach." He said.
"Spontaneity. Sounds like you." She smiled, despite the sudden piercing of his eyes at her word choice. "I'm glad. You work hard, Booth. You deserve a break." Her phone began to ring and she glanced at it.
"Speaking of hard work, I'll leave you to it." He said before turning around and leaving. He kept his cool as he walked through the lab towards the exit but inside he was boiling.
Spontaneity? Had she really just used the word spontaneity? Of all the things to say to him right now, commenting on his impulsiveness was the wrong move. He made it all the way to the SUV before letting out his rage. He hit the steering wheel once for good measure and leaned back in his seat.
This was never going to work.
He let the traitorous thought pass through his brain for a second before pulling out his keys and starting the car.
Two Days Later:
Booth reached over and took another sip from his beer. Despite the fact that it was barely eleven, the Mexican sun was already giving him a slight pink tinge on his skin. It felt wonderful. He had been feeling numb for days so the warmth of the sun was more than welcome. With a heavy sigh, he turned over in his chaise lounge onto his back and looked out at the beach. The surfing he had done this morning had been excellent and had put him in a great mood. It was just about time to go back out.
The rest of the tourists were starting to make their way down to the beach and Booth watched the parade of women in bikinis and men in trunks traveling towards the water and back again. He finished his beer and was just about to head back down to the water when two of the women stopped next to him.
"Are these seats taken?" A young American blonde asked.
"No. And I was just leaving, so you can have this one too." He said as he picked up his surf board.
"Oh my God. You surf? That's awesome. I've always wanted to learn." She said, overtly flirting with him. Booth paused to consider her age. She had to be in college and he was pushing 40. He knew that he looked good for his age, but still, he could be her father.
"I'm still learning myself." He said, politely before starting to walk away.
"Hey, wait a second." The girl said. "My friend and I, we're having a party later. You should come." For just a moment, he considered it. A one night stand might make him feel better, at least momentarily. But then his better judgment kicked in and he realized it wasn't fair to use her, no matter how willingly, to get over someone else.
"Thanks but it's not that kind of vacation." He informed her before walking away.
After surfing, Booth took a shower and made his way to the hotel bar. He must have looked as good as he felt because the first thing the bartender did was pour him a shot of tequila.
"On the house." He said. "You look like you need it." Booth accepted it graciously and threw it back like a pro. One taste was all that it took and suddenly he was back there, standing in the rain, kissing her. He mulled the memory over in his brain as the aftertaste of the shot lingered on his tongue.
"You know what? Can I get the bottle?" He asked as he pulled some money out of his pocket. The bartender looked at him suspiciously but nodded and set the bottle on the counter. Booth poured himself another shot of tequila. He had tried forgetting and it had failed spectacularly; now he was going to try remembering. This would be his purging. He was going to wallow in the taste of her until he had nothing left to feel and he could move on in peace.
He went through every memory he could remember: the happy times and the sad times, the times they almost kissed and the times they actually had. Even he was in awe of what they had been through. Jesus, it had been six years, he realized. Six years of almosts and nevers. He took another shot and let the amber liquid course down his throat, burning away the pain that lived in his gut.
In the back of his mind, there had always been the thought that someday, it would be worth it. Someday, they would figure out a way to make it work. And now? Now he was left with the realization that it would never work. He had just spent six years of his life in love with a woman who refused to let herself love him. And she did love him. They both knew it. They had kept the walls of pretense around their relationship, but in their hearts, they both knew what they had. Now, those six years of memories were a blistering reminder of all that they might have given in to, had they been given a chance.
Would it be better to never see her again?
He considered that thought carefully. He took another shot of tequila, another taste of her. He thought about their first case, the thirteen months that they spent apart before he came crawling back on his knees, begging for her help. No, he wouldn't survive without her. He was all in a long time ago, even if he hadn't realized it until it was too late. Jesus, had he just used a gambling reference? He glanced at the quickly emptying bottle. What the Hell. He poured himself the last two shots from the bottle and downed them quickly. He grabbed his hotel key and headed back up to his room to sleep off his stupor. At least if he passed out, he wouldn't dream of her.
Booth woke up the next morning under extreme protest. The warm Mexican sun that he had cherished yesterday was now fucking with him by shining through the window and landing directly on his face. He pulled the comforter over his head in annoyance. The thought of getting out of bed was ludicrous. He tried to open his eyes, but they seemed to be glued shut. God, he was too old for this. He finally managed to peek one eye open to glance at the clock. It was 10:30 and his mouth was as dry as the deserts he had once roamed in his youth. He managed to stumble his way to the mini bar to grab some water before starting the shower. A good two hours under the hot spray and he should feel close to human again.
After his shower, Booth made his way down to the hotel restaurant for breakfast. Eggs, bacon, hash browns, maybe pancakes…his stomach growled from a dangerous mix of hunger and tequila vapors. He placed his order with his waiter and handed him the menu. Out of the corner of his eye, he could have sworn he saw a familiar face. God, now he was hallucinating. Suddenly, he realized that a hallucination of her would mean bigger issues than just going crazy. It had only been a year since his brain had been sliced open, it was possible that….
He shook his head of the thoughts. He kept his eye on his plate as he adjusted his silverware, willing himself to not look up and double check what he had seen. When he was absolutely certain that he couldn't resist any longer, he subtly glanced over.
Son of a bitch.
There she was, sitting on the patio of the hotel, a gorgeous blue sundress on and her hair blowing lightly in the breeze. She looked like something out of a fucking brochure.
What the Hell was she doing there?
Booth slid his chair back quickly and headed directly over to her table.
"Hi." He said as he unceremoniously dropped down in the chair across from her.
"Booth!" She said, clearly not expecting him.
"Fancy meeting you here." He said sarcastically. "Of all the hotels in the world, you end up across the lobby from me. What would you say the chances of that happening were exactly, in scientific terms?" He asked.
"Let me explain." She started.
"Oh, please do." He said shortly as he crossed his arms and gave her his full attention. She stared at him for a moment before taking a deep breath.
"Right. Okay. Well, you had only been gone a few hours when I remembered something you had once said about how when you go on vacations, you think about not coming back." She chewed on her lip nervously. "I don't know why I thought of it in the first place, but it stuck and I kept thinking about it. And the more I thought about it, the more concerned I became."
"That I wouldn't come back." He clarified.
"Yes." She said seriously.
"How did you even find me?" He asked.
"I called Rebecca. I told her that it was an emergency and I needed to contact you." Booth shook his head as he looked away. "I know that I shouldn't have done it, but I was desperate and couldn't think straight and I just…I had to see you."
"Bones, did it ever occur to you during all of that thinking that maybe I was on this vacation so that I didn't have to see you?" He asked. She looked down at her lap and Booth felt a momentarily wave of regret at his cruel words.
"Yes." She said quietly. "And I know that you deserve to be left alone, but the thought of losing you..." Booth paused, but didn't say anything. "I panicked." She confessed. "I became irrational and obsessive and the next thing I knew I was on a plane. I have no idea what came over me."
"Love." Booth sighed exasperatedly.
"I don't like it." She said.
"I'm not a big fan of it either right now." He agreed as he looked out over the ocean. He felt Brennan's careful stare on his face but when he turned back to look at her again, she was looking down at her lap.
"I just want to know the truth. Are you thinking about leaving our partnership?" She asked point blank. Booth sighed.
"The thought had crossed my mind." He confessed and he immediately regretted it. The look of utter grief that she tried to bravely hide nearly killed him. "Bones…" A small tear caught in the corner of her eyelashes and she swiped at it quickly.
"No." She said as she shook her head. "You have to make the decision that is best for you. I just, I want you to have all the facts before you decide anything." She said, mustering the strength to say the next part of her speech confidently. "What I did? It wasn't because I don't…" she paused, waiting for the right words to come. "I was trying to act in your best interest. You have a lion's heart." She told him. "When you love, it's with everything that you have and I, I'm logical. We see the world so differently…" She paused as she saw that her words were actually hurting him rather than explaining what she wanted to say.
"I know we're different, Bones. I don't really need to hear the speech again. You were very clear the first time." He stood up. "But thanks for stopping by."
"Booth, wait!" She blurted out before he could walk away. He sighed and stopped, giving her one more chance. "I need to know what changed." She stated. He tilted his head at her statement. "We used to agree that this was a bad idea. I need to know what changed."
"I did." He said as he sat back down.
"Because of the coma?" She asked. He weighed her question before answering.
"Maybe." He replied. Silence fell between them for a few seconds before she chose to speak.
"I'm afraid of losing you." She admitted.
"Losing me?" He repeated back. "To what?"
"To a stray bullet, to a tumor, to serial killers, to the love of someone else. But the biggest fear I have for you is me."
"Why?" He asked.
"There are times when you look at me, and I can see myself through your eyes. I usually try to ignore it but during your coma..." She paused. "I needed you to pull through. I thought that if I could give you the version that you see, you might have something to fight for, a reason to wake up." She looked out at the sea. "So I let myself wonder what would happen if we were those people and I could give you all of those things that you've always wanted. A marriage, a baby, a life shared. I wrote it your way. I guess I liked pretending it was possible for a moment too." She admitted. When she glanced back to gage his reaction to her statement, he was staring intensely at her. He could tell that it unnerved her, but he didn't care. He was done hiding it from her. "It wasn't real, Booth. It's just a story that I made up." He looked away, her words hurting him again. "I should have never let us pretend." She said as she looked down at her hands. "I encouraged this, all the while knowing that I could never live up to what you needed. I know how badly I hurt you. I know you have every right to walk away from this and never look back. I would just appreciate it if you would tell me before you go." Her voice cracked, but she pulled herself together. "That's all I really came here to say." She said as she stood up. He furrowed his eyebrows in confusion. What kind of man did she think he was? Did she really think he would just leave the country and never speak to her again?
"Hey," He said, wanting her attention as he reached out for her hand. "I would never leave without saying goodbye." He made the vow quietly. She squeezed her eyes shut at the warm contact as fresh tears appeared again. "You know that, right?" She wiped a tear away with her free hand. Her silence spoke volumes.
"Goodbye, Booth." She said as she took her hand back and went into the hotel.