Twenty four hours ago, going to open mike night at a club frequented by amateur singers would have seemed like the cruelest torture imaginable. But now, as I watch my super serious and logical partner jumping around on stage, singing her heart out, I have to admit that I haven't had this much fun in a long time. I can't take my eyes off of her. In the three years I've known her, I've been lucky enough to see her in some breathtaking dresses and that wonderfully form fitting Wonder Woman costume, but I don't think she's ever looked more beautiful than she does right now.

I so rarely get the chance to see her like this. There was that time a couple years ago when I got her to dance to "Hot Blooded", but then her stupid cult recruiter internet date called and ruined the moment. Maybe we could have danced again later that night if I hadn't had that little run-in with her refrigerator. At least now I'm safe from treacherous kitchen appliances.

She really does have a nice voice. Maybe her mom was right and she is better than Cyndi Lauper, but that doesn't really matter now. The only thing that matters is that she looks like she's having a great time, and after the stress of her dad's trial she deserves it. She deserves every good thing in this world, every possible happiness, and I'll do whatever I can to—

Did someone just say my name? Who would call me Seeley?

It's Pam. The crazy look in her eyes makes me think that Sweets may have been right about her being dangerous. She says that she's doing this for us. Doing what? Holy God, she's pointing a gun at the stage. At Bones. NO. No fucking way am I letting Bones get hurt. Get my gun, make her—

Not fast enough. Sharp, burning pain. Falling, falling. Bones rushing to my side. Picking up my gun. Whoa. Good shot, Bones.

She's telling me that I'll be fine, although I've never heard her sound so scared. One minute she's applying pressure to my wound, the next she stops to hold me. I want to hold her in return; I want to offer words of comfort. I could tell her that it's only a flesh wound, and say I've been injured much worse, but there's one small problem—I can't seem to talk right now. Instead I place my hand on top of hers, squeezing it to let her know I still can.

She's begging me to stay with her. Of course I want to, but the pain is becoming unbearable. A part of me thinks that if I die now, at least the last thing I'll feel is her hand beneath mine; at least the last thing I'll see is her face looking back at me. How many people are fortunate enough to look at something so beautiful as they die?

NO.

I can't die now. I've got too much to do. I have to teach Parker all the things my dad taught me. I have to kiss Bones in real life the way I kiss her in my dreams. I have to show her the difference between crappy sex and making love. I have to do more good to atone for all the lives I've taken.

I won't die like this. I won't leave you, Bones. Not now. Not ever. But…I have to close my eyes for now and rest. Just for a—

XXXXXXXXXX

Pain. So much pain. That's good—it means I'm not dead.

When I open my eyes I see Bones sitting in a chair by my hospital bed, frowning in her sleep. I reach out to touch her hair, the feel of the silky strands in my fingers reassuring me that I'm alive, and decide that I don't want to stop. After a couple more moments of stroking, her eyes pop open.

"I'm sorry." I try to take my hand back, but she traps it between her own hands.

Her eyes are wet as she looks at me. "I'm the one who should be sorry. You took a bullet meant for me. You almost died to protect me…again. You have to stop doing that."

"It's what partners do, Bones."

She's quiet for a few moments. "Is that really why you do all the things you do for me? Just because we're partners?"

I can't lie anymore. "No."

"Then why?"

Her piercing gaze hits me like a truth serum, and I hear the words I've wanted to say for so long tumbling out of my mouth. "Because you're my Bones, and I love you."

"I..I love you too."

I want to take her in my arms and kiss the daylights out of her, as I've done in so many of my fantasies, but I don't have the strength right now. I settle for giving her the best charm smile ever.

Her cheeks are turning red. "It's been a long night. We should both rest."

"You're right. But that chair looks very uncomfortable." I move to one side of my bed. "Do you want to join me?"

"I don't want to hurt you."

"You won't."

She hesitates for only a moment before carefully crawling into bed beside me.

"Goodnight, Bones."

She kisses my forehead. "Goodnight, Booth."

I stay awake watching her surrender to a peaceful sleep. I'm exhausted but I want to keep watching. I'm entranced by every breath, every cute little sound that escapes from her lips. Eventually sleep takes me, and when I wake up again I find my favorite squint snuggling against me.

Maybe getting shot wasn't such a bad thing after all.

XXXXXXXXXX

Thanks for reading! All comments are greatly appreciated.