Word Count: 407
Disclaimer: Not mine.
A/N: It's been a long time, but this came to mind and I had to post it. Tissue warning ahead.
He knows that he told her he loved her once, but he can't remember the exact date or time like he always thought he would.
Instead, he remembers the look in her eyes and the smile on her face and the fact that she was too afraid to say it back, even though they both knew she felt it, too.
"Bones, I don't want you to –"
She cuts him off, smoothing her hand through his salt-and-pepper hair, letting her palm cradle his cheek.
He is dying, the cancer ravaging his insides, and he's so tired of fighting, but he struggles through another painful breath, for her.
"I love you, Booth. I always have."
She doesn't beg him to stay.
She doesn't get angry (passionate, as Sweets had said) and punch him in the jaw like she had when he wasn't actually dead or close to it.
What she does do is lean over and kiss him gently, until he has to push her away to breathe, sucking air into his failing lungs.
He looks at her, studies her face even though he knows it better than his own. T
ime has been kind to her; her hair, though it has lightened, is still a rich mahogany, and the lines on her face are testament to a life well-lived.
She squeezes his hand and stands to go, uncurling her long body from the hard chair beside his hospital bed.
Before she reaches the door, he stops her.
"Bones." He waits until she turns back with a raised brow. "I know, Bones. I always have," he says, smiling at the similar words.
She softens, saying, "Sleep. I'll come back tomorrow," and then she is gone.
He watches her leave, and when the door clicks shut behind her, he closes his eyes for the last time.
"Take care of her," he whispers.
He knows she would ridicule him for asking an imaginary being to watch over her and keep her safe, but he asks anyways.
He figures he'll need all the help he can get to keep her in line from heaven, if he gets there.
At 12:03pm on June 17, 2044, Seeley Booth dies with her face burned onto the backs of his eyelids and her words of love echoing in his mind.
(When they tell her, she cries for everything they were and would never have the chance to be.)