A/N: This is different than the others. It appeared out of nowhere. Well, not exactly. Laffers and I were talking yesterday about guns, and forearms, and ties, and you know what that always does to my muse. But the tone of this one really appeared out of nowhere. I started typing and this fell out of my fingertips and I was shocked. But also, I kinda liked it. So read on and then tell me your thoughts because I have no idea what kind of reaction this one will bring.
All those glances that we stole,
Sometimes if you want them then you've got to
"Good man" by Josh Ritter
When Brennan found him, he was in the shooting range. His jacket was off, his sleeves were rolled up to just below his elbows, and his tie was loose. His clothes looked relaxed, but his entire body was vibrating with tension. His jaw and forearms were both clenched as he set off another round of ammo into the unsuspecting target.
"I think it's dead." She commented. He obviously hadn't exchanged the target sheet the entire time he'd been there. There was barely anything left of the ragged remains. She wondered briefly if that description applied to their relationship as well.
"What are you doing here?" He asked as he loaded the hand gun again, never bothering to look up or turn around.
Frankly, she didn't know what she was doing there. Her feet had just walked her over. Luckily, she didn't need a reason because he didn't wait for her response.
"With the way we left things Saturday morning, I expected to never see you again." He deftly emptied another round as she covered her ears from the blasts. He had squarely eliminated the last of the target. It was then that she realized that was his goal all along. With the paper gone, she could see that he had been shooting his way through the concentric circles, starting on the outside ring and moving inward to the next until there was nothing left to shoot. The same rings were located on the backdrop, this time etched by negative space.
And damn if Brennan didn't find the talent a little bit arousing. Leave it to Booth to be able to still show off, despite being too angry to speak.
Brennan knew that the required concentration in his task served a larger purpose: it made him forget the reason he was here in the first place. It was Monday night. She had finally returned from her long weekend away and Booth couldn't bring himself to go home and face her just yet, just like Brennan couldn't even mentally say her name.
"I don't want to never see you again." Brennan finally replied. "Is, is that what you want?" She asked hesitantly, all too aware that his answer might very well be yes.
"I clearly don't know what I want." The statement was raw, heart-wrenching, and it cut them both to the quick but at least it was honest. The sound of Booth reloading the gun echoed in the otherwise silent room. Still, the action was mostly for show. He had nothing left to shoot and they both knew it. Brennan let the silence linger for as long as she could bear before asking her next question.
"Do you have an estimated time on when you might know?" She asked. The question was brazen enough that Booth finally turned around to face her properly. He must have been able to read the underlying dread on her face because his angry look dissipated instantly and was replaced with a flash of guilt before he turned away again. She knew he felt guilty, and with good reason, but his guilt shouldn't have been directed towards her. There was only one reason Booth would give her that shamed look. An insecure flutter bit at her stomach as she realized she already had her answer.
Of course he had made his choice. Booth was a good man, the best man. He would do the honorable thing. So there was only one thing left for her to say. She put on a brave face and stood up a little straighter.
"I want you to know something." She paused, hoping that he would turn around to hear it.
The list of potential reasons why was long: he feared losing control over his traitorous body again, their fight might pick up exactly where it had left off, it was too painful to say goodbye. And yet, Brennan had a suspicion that above all, he feared that if he turned around and looked her in the eye, he might actually choose her over his own wife.
Knowing that, knowing him that distinctly, well, it actually made the words easier to say.
"You and I both know that Friday night should have never happened. At least, not like that. We were alone and vulnerable and, things, things got out of control." She stated simply. "Either one of us could have stopped it but we didn't; now, we share that burden equally." She acknowledged. "But I don't regret a single second that I've spent with you, Booth. Not professionally, not personally, not ever." She let that sink in. "I would do it all again, exactly the same way. Every case, every scar, every fight, every kiss." She watched as the back of his head ticked up at the last word and she held her breath. But he simply clenched the shelf in front of him a little tighter and stubbornly refused to give in, so she continued.
"No matter what happens between us, you will always be the one true and honest thing in my life." She informed him. "And nothing and no one could ever change that. So," she said definitively, "you are going to listen to your heart and I…" Her voice broke and she reeled a bit under the demand to stay strong when their demise was so very near. "I am going to walk away." The statement broke her resolve and hot tears flooded her vision. She fought to blink them away, knowing their time together was short. If this was her last chance to be honest with him, she was not going to let a little thing like tears get in her way. She could cry when she was alone.
She took a deep breath and wiped her eyes. When she finally looked up again, Booth was staring at her. There was a deep admiration for her reflected in his eyes and she knew that his turning around was an act of respect. He would not deny her a proper goodbye, even with a lethal dose of pain coursing through his system. She nearly broke down again at the selfless gesture but knew that if he could find the will to stand before her, she would do the same.
"The only thing I am taking with me is the knowledge that we were... perfectly us, right to the very end: a pair of talented, crime-solving, admittedly stubborn," she confessed as a half-choked chuckle escaped him, "well-intentioned, sometimes broken partners who were always inexplicably better together than apart." She watched as he swiped the back of his thumb under his nose and sniffed, trying to pull himself together. He nodded, and she knew he was thinking of that last night, the night where they finally lost control and learned that everything they did was better together. The air became thick with all of the words they wanted to say. She felt them, every syllable came rushing towards her and those unspoken words gave her strength. It reminded her of a time when the unspoken was all they had. She believed that with enough time, they could get back to that again. They could go back to being 'just' and no one would have to be any wiser.
But she knew they wouldn't.
Because Booth was a good man. He would confess his sins. He would make things right.
And she, she loved him enough to let him.