A/N - This idea has been rolling around for a while now, but I wasn't sure where to go with it. Yesterday, while reading dgschneider's "Seven Days: An Experiment in Making Love," something finally clicked. This is the result. Thanks to dgschneider and dharmamonkey for the beta! Enjoy!


How many times would I have to watch her drive away?

It seemed like I had spent years putting her into cabs and sending her on her way, watching her ride off into the sunset or rain or snow. Each time that I put her in a cab, closed the door and slapped the trunk to let the driver know it was okay to drive off, I wanted to be with her. Even that first time, I was tormented as she drove away.

The first time? That was after I fired her from that first case we worked together. Fueled by tequila and lust, she reminded me that if we weren't working together, we could have sex. My body was five steps ahead of my brain and seemingly a few steps behind hers. I instantly agreed and we were off. Until that kiss in the rain. It rocked me to the core and must have done the same to her, because in the space of a breath, she ran away from me and hopped into the waiting cab. As I ran to catch up to her, my brain fought to catch up to both of us. She laughed, said we weren't having sex, but told me I would never regret it if we did. I stood there, in the pouring rain, as she drove away. I saw her look back, almost longingly, through the back window of the cab. For reasons I couldn't quite grasp, it felt as though I was missing out on something big that night. I realized later that she was right to leave then. One night never would have been enough for the two of us and at that point, neither of us were ready for more. I vowed then to make changes, to try to make myself worthy of her.

That case ended badly for us, very badly. Well, that's not entirely accurate. We solved the case, so that ended well. But, whatever was happening between us seemed to have just ended. The last time I saw her was as she stormed through the bullpen toward the elevator after slapping me. Not a good ending at all. I spent the next year trying to get back into her good graces and being blocked at every turn by that squinty assistant of hers. That's when I realized that I needed to make an end run, come in from her blindside. I placed a request with Homeland Security to hold her for questioning when she arrived from a dig in Guatemala.

She was furious when she realized what I had done, but I convinced her to work with me. In all honesty, I knew she was using me to get what she wanted, a chance to go into the field. I was willing to let her use me to get there if it meant spending time with her. Over time, we settled into a routine – catch a case, solve the case, go out for drinks. It was great because I loved spending time with her, no matter what we were doing. But, as often as not, I would end the night putting her in a cab and sending her home. And, as often as not, she would look back at me as she drove away. That's what I hated, watching her go and seeing her look back at me, like she wished she had stayed. But that look also gave me hope. I knew she felt it, too, whatever it was between us. I decided that if I was patient and persistent then one day, maybe, just maybe, she would stay.

We spent years doing that dance. No matter where we were or what we were doing, at the end of the night, we parted. It was never easy for me, but there were times when it was even more difficult to do so. Especially the times when the weight of what we saw and did on a daily basis began to wear on her, like after the Taffet trial. We went to Founding Fathers to celebrate Taffet's conviction as well as Hodgins and Angela's marriage. At the end of the night, it was just the two of us standing at the curb. I could see how tired she was and not just physically. She was tired of dealing with murder. She was tired of worrying about the people that she cared about. I tried to convince her that she just needed a break, a vacation. But I saw in her eyes that it was more than that. She seemed so fragile. I could feel her pulling away from me, trying to protect herself. I begged her not to make any rash decisions. But before I could get her back in the bar for another drink, she had hailed a cab. Once again, I was watching her drive away, waiting for her to look back at me. When she did, what I saw worried me. Things were changing. I just didn't know then how much.

Change that had been slowly building arrived with lightning speed. She was offered the opportunity to head a dig in Maluku. I was offered a promotion if I re-upped and went to Afghanistan. I think I knew she was going to accept before she did. I could see that she needed time and space to find a new balance between logic and emotion within herself. I decided I need some time and space, too. Away from her. Away from the things that reminded me of her. A chance to figure out how I was going to move on without her.

The night before I left for Fort Bragg, we had dinner at a quiet Italian restaurant. We shared a bottle or two of wine, talked and tried to not think about the fact that we wouldn't see each other for a year. We sat in that corner booth until closing, neither of us ready to say good-bye. I wanted to drive her home that night, but she refused. Maybe she thought it would be easier to go our separate ways standing on a sidewalk next to a waiting cab. Maybe she was afraid that I would want to stay or that she would want me to. The reason didn't matter. We were there again, standing curbside and saying good-bye. She started to get in the cab and I just couldn't let it go at that. I grabbed her arm, just enough to pull her into me. I wrapped her up in my arms as close as I possibly could. I think I was trying to memorize how every curve of her body felt against mine in case I never had the chance again. I wasn't thinking about how that moment would be fuel for my fantasies while I was in Afghanistan. I was only thinking about how I needed to hold onto her for as long as I could before she pulled away and got in the cab. Before I had my fill of her, that's exactly what she did. Her hands slid down my arms, her fingers entwining with mine and with a final squeeze she turned away and got in the cab. I closed the door and double tapped the trunk, like always. As the cab drove off, she turned to look at me and waved. I watched until I could no longer see the cab, wondering if it was for the last time.

This time was different.

I hadn't put her in a cab, and this time she wasn't alone. She had our daughter and together they had my heart. I chased the car, wanting only to be with them and damn the consequences. I never thought I would have to stand and watch as she drove away from me again. Those days were supposed to be over. Yet, here I was, standing in the middle of the street, running after her and shouting her name. And she drove on. There was no longing look back, just a car, or really, my life driving away from me.