A/N: Thoughts are in italics, and I tweaked the exact order of events to fit my purposes.
Disclaimer: I'm not smart enough to have come up with that brilliant plot twist. That honor belongs to Hart Hanson and Fox.
Hey, I liked that shirt.
He had forgotten how getting shot brought the most trivial thoughts to the fore. He had also forgotten how much it hurt. It had been a long time since he'd been hit without a vest. Getting soft, Seeley boy. He hadn't remembered the feeling of the tiny piece of metal pushing through layers of skin and blood and muscle, hadn't recalled how such a small thing had force enough to shove him back a step.
Hope it didn't hit anything important, he thought vaguely, I'll have to check with Bones...oh yeah, Bones. She was crouched next to him, her hand pushing on his chest. It flamed where she applied pressure and he tried to get her to stop, but he barely had the strength to pump air in and out of his lungs. She was crying. Why? Right, Pam shot at her. He squeezed her hand tightly, to comfort her- don't cry, Bones- but also because it seemed to be the only thing keeping him connected to life.
He remembered Sweets saying that Pam controlled him by seeming vulnerable. She doesn't look so vulnerable now, with that gun in her hand, shooting my Bones. As he looked, Pam's face twisted and her hand rose again- she's going to shoot- and he tried to get up, tried to shield Bones, but his body wouldn't respond. And then Brennan had his gun, and she was the one shooting. (God, Bones, I hope that was just self-defense. Because even if you think she deserved it, her face will haunt you for the rest of your life.) Pam fell, so hard, but Bones wasn't looking at her. She turned back to him, saying something, begging, but he couldn't hear because blood seemed to be rushing through his ears, even though he knew in reality it was all slipping through the hands pressed to his were growing dark- no pretty lights on the ceiling- and he forced his eyes to stay open, to memorize every shadow and detail of her face. I never told her that I'm in love with her.
The world was hazy, like the image through the heat of a barbeque grill, but her eyes stayed cerulean clear and glowing. God, she's beautiful. He needed to imprint them behind his eyelids, struggled to commit each fleck and shade and nuance to memory, but it was all slipping away so fast. From far away, it seemed, he heard a professional voice telling Bones to stand back, that she could see him at the hospital later, that she needed to let go of his hand. His last smug, irrational thought: Good luck with that.
"If I was going to pray, I would have done it before I set off the explosion." She had been wrong. If there was any time in her life to pray, it would be now, beside Booth's hospital bed, as the monitors measured the steady- thank God (no figure of speech this time)- beat of his heart. Such a strong, loving heart. You've got so much heart, Booth.
Over the three years they had worked together, everything had blurred: her views, the rules, and, of course, the goddamn line. In the beginning, they were friends, so they bantered and argued, because it came with the territory. And then it became okay to share secrets and midnight Thai food or mac and cheese. And then guy hugs, mistletoe kisses, lying to the FBI and playing mommy and daddy to a baby together were all normal, acceptable things to do. And sometime in between then and now, she had lost her heart to the man lying in front of her. He had brought her out of the shell she had built up to protect herself from all the pain in the world, and she had started smiling and laughing more and working less. She had opened up for him because he had both accepted her as she was, and changed her for the better.
But she could go back to the way it had been. It would be safer that way, to be clinical again, to hold everyone at a distance. If she did, no one could get hurt. She had known that she would be hurt if Booth- don't think it- died, but it now struck her that she could be hurt even if Booth lived. Booth would never hurt me. She was firm, although she lost her breath just thinking about it. And being professional isn't just for me, it's for him too. He was almost killed by the bullet meant for me. His voice, low and hoarse from the tube they had put down his throat during surgery,- imagine, Booth needing help just to breath-interrupted her logical reasoning for breaking both their hearts, and all her resolve, the castle with the thick walls, disappeared.
"Booth! Do you need water, anything? Maybe I should call the doctor."
"Nah, I'm okay. Listen, Bones, tonight made me realize something."
"Me too, Booth."
"I don't think we can be friends anymore."
She felt like she had been punched in the gut. It wasn't like being the high school girl who had been dumped by her boyfriend before she had a chance to dump him. It was more like...she didn't know. There was no adequate comparison for Booth leaving her life. She had thought it would be hard, but not like this, not this physical, wrenching pain. She had thought maybe they could still be friends, if that was possible anymore. A cup of coffee, Booth, please? I'll eat pie if it means seeing you.
"I understand." She was surprised that her voice was so steady. If only he knew what she was thinking, how inside she was begging him to stay. I get it, though. It's safer all around for us to be apart.
He looked at her eyes. They seemed so set, sure and knowledgeable, but they shimmered with tears. She thought he blamed her. "No, Bones, you don't understand. I thought about redrawing that line. Tonight proved that I'm dangerous to be around. But I realized I have too much to live for.
"I was slipping away, Temperance, and all that was keeping me here was your hand. And I realized that I had so many regrets. I wanted to tell you that I love you. I want to kiss you at the diner and in your lab and in my office and I want to wake up with you every morning. I want to throw out your dirty tissues when you have a cold and I want to go on your book tour with you. I want to get more time with Parker, and I want you to spend all of it with us. I want to marry you someday, when you're ready, if you'll have me."
"I do..." the last word was swallowed up by her sniff, and she realized how it sounded, "I do too, Booth. I love you too. You were dying, and I knew. That second, when you were so cold and I could feel your heart slowing, I got it. I can't imagine life without you anymore. And not in a 'how would I be effective at my job' way, in an 'I think I would die if you did' way. I know that's not logical, but…"
"I get it Bones." He smiled, and even though he was so tired and weak, he looked like Booth again.
She thought about kissing him, but he looked so frail underneath all the wires that she didn't dare. Instead she took his hand and squeezed with a gentle pressure. He squeezed back without his usual firm grip, and she recognized how much strength the conversation had taken him. His grasp relaxed and she realized that he was falling back to sleep, the drugs overcoming him.
"Bones," he whispered, his voice thready and sleepy, "Cindi should just go eat her heart out."
I'm going to have to save Booth from a volcano or something next time. He always seems to be rescuing me, it should be my turn already. But the thought was jocular. She and Booth didn't keep score like the other relationships she had been in. They were always at equilibrium, a constant balance, a steady give-and-take. In their debates, neither of them usually won or lost. I love that about him. I love everything about him, she thought dazedly, Except maybe how he gets jealous...and even that's starting to grow on me.
She smiled at him although he couldn't see, and kissed the knuckles of the bravest and best man she knew.
I love him. Who woulda thunk it?
A/N 2: I think I screamed for two full minutes after Wannabe in the Weeds was over, and I couldn't hold a pen for twenty minutes after that because my hand was shaking so hard. I could not believe that. Great twist by the writers, because who would have thought that something could happen in the last minute of the episode? I thought we were just going to watch Bones and Booth share meaningful glances as she sang and he danced goofily. Pam was crazy, and wicked scary. "Ma'am! I can't wait to tell my mom you said that." Anyway, I got this out during my Bible class, because, really, what kind of Bones writer would I be if I didn't write something about this fantastic episode? That ep is going down in B/B history.