A/N: Here it is! New stuff and all original too! It's all written except for the final chapter so posting should happen relatively quickly depending on how fast I can make myself proofread and how much editing needs to happen.
The usual disclaimers apply: I don't own them. I'm only borrowing them, and that's a shame.
Dr. Temperance Brennan finished the last of the paperwork her partner Special Agent Seeley Booth needed to wrap up their most recent case. She put the paperwork back in the folder and put it in her bag to give to Booth when they met for dinner tonight. Brennan checked her email one last time and printed out her travel itinerary before setting her auto-reply and shutting down her computer.
Brennan looked over her itinerary once more and sighed. She didn't like the idea of being away from The Jeffersonian for so long for a book tour. Leaving for an extended period of time didn't usually bother her because she was busy on a dig or identifying remains. This time would be different, she'd have little to keep her busy for most of the day outside of the few hours she'd spend meeting fans.
With one last check around her office to make sure everything was in its place, Brennan switched off the light and locked her door. She made her way through the lab and out to the parking garage. Just as she was about to open her car door her phone buzzed. It was a text from Booth reminding her of their plans to eat dinner. She smiled as she keyed in her answer that she was just leaving The Jeffersonian.
The drive to the diner was a slow one. There was a lot of traffic at 5:00 PM. Brennan thought more about her impending absence. Perhaps it wasn't such a good idea for her to leave for three weeks. On the other hand, Booth would have access to the rest of her team as well as her interns and she was confident that they would not disappoint her.
As Brennan pulled up to the diner she could see Booth sitting at their usual table. He looked tired. More tired than usual. She watched for a moment as he picked at a piece of pie and skimmed over a newspaper. She was going to miss him. As much as they bickered she enjoyed the time they spent together. More and more she'd found herself looking for excuses to see him outside of work. Paperwork and late night Thai. A forgotten case file. Maybe this trip would give her some perspective on her feelings where Booth was concerned.
Finally Brennan got out of her car and headed into the diner. Booth looked up expectantly when the bell rang as the door opened. As soon as he saw her, his features softened and he smiled.
"Hey Bones, how's it going?" He asked.
"Good." She smiled. "Sorry I'm late. Have you eaten already?"
"No worries. Just the pie, I needed something to hold me over."
"I'll never understand your desire to eat cooked fruit, Booth."
The waitress showed up with their usual orders and Booth chuckled lightly as he nudged his plate toward his partner so she could have some of his fries. She passed him the ketchup as he studied his burger.
Something was off with Booth, but she couldn't quite put her finger on it. It was unlike him to push pie around a plate and stare at his burger rather than metaphorically inhaling it. She briefly wondered if he was upset that she was going away, but quickly pushed that thought out of her mind. There was no reason he should be upset that she was leaving. It's not like he had feelings for her. He'd made that devastatingly clear when he'd drawn his line.
"Bones?" Booth's voice brought her back to reality.
"Sorry, what Booth?"
"Nothing, you just seemed spaced out."
"I don't know what that means." She replied automatically.
Booth shook his head and smiled at his partner. "Of course you don't."
Brennan ignored his comment and pulled the case file out of her bag while she continued to eat. She set the file on the table and slid it across to Booth.
"I've finished the portion you need from me. I'm leaving tomorrow and I didn't want you to have to wait until I returned to finish the paperwork."
"Gee thanks, Bones."
She missed the frown and hint of sarcasm in his voice. Truth be told he enjoyed their late night paperwork and Thai marathons. It seemed like that was the one time he got some insight into what she was like outside of work. Even now when they were just having a meal she was all business. But at her apartment, or his, late at night after some Thai and a couple of beers he got a glimpse of what he considered the real Temperance Brennan. A little softer, not so guarded, and definitely more fun.
Booth didn't want to admit to himself that he was going to miss her these next three weeks. When he'd first realized he was dreading this upcoming book tour he'd chalked it up to being without a partner for three weeks. While he'd initially had to be blackmailed into letting Brennan into the field, he'd grown accustomed to working cases with her and hated being partnered with anyone else. As the weeks before her trip turned into days Booth realized the real reason for his dread. He was going to miss her. And not just miss having a partner; he was going to miss her.
The partners continued to eat in companionable silence as Booth looked over Brennan's meticulous notes. Rather than actually reading the case file, Booth found himself wondering what he would do for the next three weeks. Brennan had really become his social life outside of work and recreational hockey these last few years.
Booth finished his burger as Brennan polished off the last of his fries. The waitress brought their checks and the pair settled up before heading out to their vehicles.
"Are you sure you don't need a ride to the airport tomorrow?" He asked, hoping she'd changed her mind.
"No, my agent has arranged all of my transportation." She answered automatically. He'd asked several times in the last few weeks if she needed a ride. Part of her wanted to cancel the arrangements with her agent and just let Booth take her. She really was going to miss him and it would be nice to spend a little extra time with him before she left, but she knew she shouldn't do that to herself. He'd drawn his line and she didn't understand why she continued to torture herself with the hope that he'd change his mind.
"Well, let me know if you change your mind. I'm always available." He smiled even as his heart sank. "Have a safe trip and call if you need anything."
"Thank you, Booth." She smiled as she got into her car.
Booth drove home and tried not to think about what he was going to do for the next three weeks. Maybe he could get Rebecca to agree to some extra time with Parker. The only problem with that was that Brennan had turned his kid into a mini squint so they were guaranteed to spend at least one Saturday afternoon at The Jeffersonian.
Booth pulled into his usual parking space and took the stairs two at a time to get up to his apartment. Once inside he kicked off his shoes and pulled at his tie before making his way back to his bedroom to change into something more comfortable. He grabbed a beer from the refrigerator and sat down on the couch to catch up on sports news.
Brennan tried not to think about Booth. She really did. But she couldn't let go of the feeling that something was wrong with him. He'd acted strangely at dinner—pushing food around his plate and barely talking. She tried to push the thought out her mind in favor of figuring out what she needed to pack for her trip. Brennan wasn't typically one to procrastinate, but she just couldn't motivate herself to pack. And if she were being honest with herself, she just couldn't motivate herself to be away from her partner for three weeks.
Finally, after two hours of packing and unpacking and repacking, Brennan's suitcase was ready for departure. She set her bag next to the door and draped her dress bag over the couch. She grabbed a beer out of her refrigerator and sat on the couch with her laptop to work on another chapter for her next book. When she found she could no longer keep her eyes open she decided to pack it in for the night.
Brennan had changed into pajamas, brushed her teeth, and washed her face. She climbed into bed and set her alarm for 4:00 AM. It would be an early start tomorrow. She settled back into bed and was just about to shut off her bedside lamp when she heard a knock at her door.