A/N: Hannah is incredibly OOC in this character, because really, it's way more fun to hate her when she's being horrid. So if you don't like it, don't read.
Disclaimer: they're not mine. *sigh*
He didn't move. He hardly breathed. It was almost vicious, the tension in the air, cutting through the door all the way out to her. He was so focused, all his pain and anger concentrated on her, that he didn't even notice the way the rest of the floor seemed to react: the agents gave a double take at the sight of the blonde who had suddenly disappeared from their lives, and Hacker poked his head out and gave a low whistle at the sight.
Hannah was the first to recover, and she strode towards the door. If she hadn't been a reporter, she would've made a damn good actress, because she easily disguised the tremor in her hands as she turned the doorknob and let herself in.
"Hello, Seeley," she said, voice wavering almost imperceptibly.
"Hannah," he said curtly, and the formality was another stab in his side. Once upon a time they had been in love...right? Okay, so maybe not love, but something damn near close.
His heart ached at a sudden, crushing thought: what if this was the way it was going to be between him and Bones when she got back?
Shaking the terrifying possibility away, he slowly lowered his feet to the floor. One at a time, he allowed them to make two separate thuds, before straightening himself and crossing his hands on the desk.
Hannah inched forward, dropping herself into the chair in front of his desk. There was an awkward pause as they sat, each taking on a different persona. Hannah was oddly quiet and shy, her eyes focused on the purse in her lap. Booth abandoned the kind personality he once had around her in favor of a bad cop act. He was rigid, muscles tense, back ramrod straight. Curling his fingers, he pressed his palms together and stared, steely, at Hannah.
"I..." she started, poking at her bag. She cleared her throat and shifted. "I, um, heard about Temperance."
His fingers curled into fists.
When he didn't say anything, Hannah continued. "I'm sorry. I know she didn't do anything, and this was...well, this was probably for the best."
Booth tensed at the 'probably', ignoring the urge to rip the words from her. You can't say that, he thought fiercely. You can't know what I'm feeling; you can't know what we're going through.
"I mean," Hannah said slowly, "I'm sure it'll be okay. I mean, you'll clear her name, and she'll come back and your partnership can continue as normal."
Something pushed in his brain, trying to click, and he shifted imperceptibly.
"It's not like you're her husband," Hannah continued, unknowingly digging herself into her own grave. "I mean, sure, you guys are great friends. But friendship changes, right? You can't do everything for her. Friendship is strong, but it's not everything." She struggled with her words, trying to find the right thing to say. "You can't...blame yourself. You guys are..."
She stuttered to a stop, her eyes lifting slowly to catch Booth's. His expression had become sharper than knives, digging into her skin. She raced over her words, trying to catch what part of what she'd said had made him so angry at her.
"What do you know?"
His voice was curt, pulled tight with tension, his eyes narrowed.
"Well," she said slowly. "I know this...Christopher Pelant was released from jail. I know that he framed Temperance for murder. I know she ran away." She paused. "Is there something I'm missing?"
His voice was empty, devoid of emotion as he talked, and she wondered if anger would've made her less intimidated by him."Did you know one of the interns at the lab died? Did you know she slept at my apartment that night? Did you know we're together, that we have a child? A baby girl. Her name is Christine. Did you know Bones took Christine with her?"
Hannah leaned back, letting out a long breath. She'd known, of course, but she'd hoped he'd changed after Brennan had left. She'd always known Temperance was more than just a friend to him. It was in the way he'd spent so much time talking about her in Afghanistan, bringing up her name in the most innocent, inane situations. It was in the way he looked at her, even when she was around. It was in the way he devoted his life to her without even realizing it. It was in the way, that night she'd almost been hit by a car, he'd jumped up from dinner and ran out without a word, unconsciously sensing that she was in trouble.
She had been a consolation prize, no matter what he told her. She had been a makeshift plug to fill the void in his life, a square trying to fit into a circle. Temperance had always been the one he truly loved. She'd always known, no matter how much she tried to lie to herself.
But Temperance had left. She hadn't only left; she'd taken his daughter with her. Temperance didn't deserve him. Temperance could go burn in hell, for all she cared.
She stood up suddenly, feeling as if her body was compressing with pressure. Pulling the article out of her purse, she threw it on his desk. "Here," she said. "I didn't have all the information but I wrote up a rough draft of an article about the case. I'll send you the finished one as soon as I can, okay?" She walked to the door, then turned back to look at him one last time. "If you want to talk after you read that," she said, "You call me."
Without another word, she turned around and left.
Booth paced his office, each and every muscle in his body tensed, pulled tight. Leaning against the corner of Booth's desk, Cam flipped through the article for the third time.
"She planned this," Booth said tightly. "Damn her, she planned this perfectly."
Cam couldn't deny it. The article Hannah had written was so perfectly worded, it was sick. She'd written about the case, all right, and she'd written in a way that was going to make everyone want to interview her. She had written down all the facts, but she'd also written her 'personal view'.
"I knew Temperance Brennan," Cam read under her breath. "She is an extremely rational and pragmatic person. I have no doubt in my mind that she is the murderer, and was covering up her terrible crime by taking a completely unrelated case with a completely unrelated suspect and saying it was him."
She hadn't just made Temperance look guilty as hell, she'd done her best to clear Pelant's name, too. She'd interviewed him and picked the best, most sane statements. Cam wasn't surprised that Booth was furious. She had done everything perfectly.
"You know what she's going to ask to do, right?" Booth muses furiously. "She's going to publish that article unless I speak with her. I can't stop it from being published because of free press. I can't go through any other venue or any other person." He slammed his fist down on his desk, and the shiver reverberated through Cam. "Damn her!"
"You know what I'm going to say, Seeley," Cam sighed. "You want to keep 's name clean? Go talk to Hannah. Try not to kill her, by the way."
Booth slammed his fist down once again before striding out of his office without another word.
Hannah sat demurely in the diner, hands folded in front of her. She'd taken the liberty to order two cups of coffee and two slices of apple pie, and they were sitting in front of her. Between them was a folder containing her article, and she had no doubt that Seeley would appear within, at the latest, another hour.
When she'd first heard the news, she'd been seething. She'd known things had ended difficultly between her and Seeley, but she'd been certain they'd get back together. She'd give him seven months, the same amount of time she knew Temperance and Seeley had been separated during war. Then she'd come back and they'd get together again. No way he would be over her that quickly.
But then she'd received a call, and a friend of hers from DC had told her the news: Seeley and Temperance weren't just together, they were having a kid. She'd been shocked, but she'd skipped over the pain and gone straight to anger. There hadn't been anything she could do to separate them, but she'd gone out back into the dating scene with a vengeance. Every single man was a potential partner to her. She thought that maybe if she got married, then went back to DC and 'ran into' Seeley, he'd be jealous. She hadn't been willing to settle down with him but she had found someone she loved with all her heart. And he'd feel the same pain she did.
She'd followed the news about Temperance, reading every single article she possibly could. She gathered all the information, then compiled her own article, picking every word carefully. She had been surprised that almost all articles were built on circumstantial evidence: everyone who knew her had refused to answer any questions. She had taken all she knew about Temperance and twisted it into lies, so that the end piece was an article that would, with no doubt, convince the world Temperance was guilty.
A small part of her felt bad about writing the article. Temperance had never purposely hurt her – well, except once, and even then she'd been devastated over it: when she'd asked Seeley for a chance, and he'd turned her down. Hannah felt her heart race at that memory, proud that she'd made Temperance hurt as much as she did. Less, actually – Hannah had never had a child with Seeley, although now she pressed her hand against her abdomen and wished she had, just to spite them.
The door opened and a tinny bell rung, and Seeley stepped into the diner. Hannah's stomach twisted at the sight of him. She hadn't seen him in person since that fateful night, but she had seen pictures of him since then. Pictures of him and Temperance, where she could pick up the differences: he stood taller, his shoulders were wider, his smiles bigger. Happiness had made him hotter than ever.
But now that happiness had been ripped from him, and he looked worse for the wear. His cheeks were scruffy from not shaving, and his body was better muscled but less healthy. He looked dangerous as he stalked in now, though, and as he caught her eyes she could feel the heat rolling off of him in waves.
He sat down heavily across from her, not even looking at the pie. He focused on her, and she felt her resolve wavering as she shifted.
"Hello, Seeley," she said, and when he didn't say anything she continued. "I know you're here because you want me to destroy the article, and I want to let you know about the stakes."
His eyes bored holes into her.
"You can destroy this one if you want," she said, waving her hand at the folder in front of her. "But there is another on my computer, five other hardcopies spread around the world, and one, in fact, in the hands of someone who could make it very noticeable the moment I say the word. So don't go thinking I haven't thought this entirely through."
He clenched his jaw.
"Oh, I have a decent amount of money, Seeley. Enough to live pretty damned well. But if I publish this article, the money I will make will probably go much, much beyond your salary."
"So it's money you want." His voice was bristling with anger, but he kept a tight hold on his rein.
"No, Seeley. I want you to know what I'm giving up. A lot of money." She raised her eyebrows. "What will you lose if you say the wrong word? I will make sure that article reaches every major news station in this world. I will blow this story way out of proportion. I will go on every talk show I can and make sure that every eye in this world is looking for Temperance, and that everyone thinks she is dangerous. Take what you're imagining and multiply it by a hundred. That's how bad things are going to be for you guys: not just here but around the whole world."
He tightened his fists.
"What do I want, Seeley? I want you to feel the pain I felt when I was told that you and Temperance were together, and with a child. I want you to feel as horrible as I felt when I realized that you, who claimed to love me, didn't even take the time to tell me that you were with the woman that I was constantly jealous of because she clearly had a bigger part in your heart than me. I want you to feel threatened and betrayed and very, very nervous."
She pulled the folder towards her and put it back in her briefcase. "Here's what I don't want you to do. I don't want you to let anyone know that this article exists. I don't want you to ask your FBI buddies or Angela to help you delete them or destroy them. I don't want you to let any of your friends threaten me or even look at me the wrong way. I want you to suffer, and I want you to suffer alone."
She dropped a couple of bills on the table. "One last thing, Seeley. If you go looking for your...whatever she is now, I'll let this article go, too. Solve the case if you want. Make it safe for her to come home if you want. But if you try to bring her home yourself, the article goes out."
She stood, smiling sweetly. "Have fun, Seeley. One wrong move and you're toast."
He didn't go back to the FBI. He didn't go to the lab. He didn't tell Cam what happened, other than making sure she knew not to tell anyone.
He went home, and he curled on his sofa and ached for her.
He had searched for her, even though he knew it was pointless. He'd driven from motel to motel, asking for names she might've used – Joy Keenan, Wanda, Roxie – but he knew that if he were to find her in a motel, it would be only if he saw her. He wondered if she'd go to him, given the chance. Or would she walk away, hide herself until he left?
He couldn't do that anymore, and he knew it. Hannah wasn't going to back down, and she'd made sure he knew it. He was stuck, but oh, he would have his revenge.
In the meantime, he allowed sleep to overcome him and prayed for strength.
She watched as Max played with Christine, spinning her around in the air. She laughed and squealed, and Brennan squelched the urge to take her away from him.
She was terrified that her daughter would forget about Booth. The worst thing in the world to her would be if Christine forgot, no matter how much she tried to remind her. The videos and the pictures and the recordings of his warm voice, like honey dripping on pancakes. The shirts that smelled like him, that she'd wrap them in when she missed his touch.
She walked away from the two of them, leaving them to their play, and walked into her bedroom. Sleep had evaded her, for a million reasons. She didn't sleep because she was terrified of getting caught. She didn't sleep because she was constantly doting on Christine. She didn't sleep because the lack of his weight and warmth beside her left such a hole in her bed that she was irrationally scared of rolling into it.
On the bed she had to herself, hidden behind a wall, was a folded FBI sweatshirt. She pulled off her own shirt and wrapped herself in it, the feel of the fabric scraping over her bare skin like sweet torture. His smell comforted him but also reminded her of the pure lack of him. She curled onto the bed, putting in her headphones and listening to his voice again, another meaningless recording that he'd taken some morning in bed, when they'd been betting how long it would take for Christine to begin crying. They'd stated their bets before falling quiet, whispering between themselves as they waited for the first wail from the bedroom. She'd won, of course, but when she'd stood up to go after her, Booth had pushed her back down and gone himself.
Her cheek pressed against the soft pillow underneath her head and sleep overtook her.