Disclaimer: They are not mine. No infringement intended.

Summary: Booth has escaped. Please read, Digging the Grave then Internment prior to Absolution. Thank you to those who have stuck with me on this, your patients is admirable.

Rating: M+/NC17 strong language, blasphemous and adult themes.

Thanks: To Kam, my diligent beta. Who prods and nudges me in all the right directions. Hugs X.

Part Three:


Confessional, Saturday AM, St Teresa's On The Hill…

'I have something else to confess, Father. It happened after I left the shaft.' Booth bowed his head and clasped his weary, bloody hands together.

'Go on, Seeley…' Father Tony said gently, urging him to continue.

'I hadn't been out on the grass long before I saw a light…

Booth's brow furrowed as a brilliant white light, flickered, tossed around and shone through the line of trees to his left. It illuminated the silo, the battered grate and blade, then finally him. He looked over and heard the sound of engines nearing. The beams of light turned towards him around the tree line, blinding him suddenly. He turned his head slightly and narrowed his eyes, to shield them from their brilliance. He realised it was a truck that was bouncing over the wet grass towards him. It was large, black and had the letters FBI on the side. He saw two others following the first. Then the blue swirling lights of the paramedic teams. Followed closely by the whooping of sirens, the smell of crushed grass, and engine exhaust.

He dropped his head, and sat down heavily, exhausted on the grass. They had found them. Him. But it was too late, all too late.

He closed his eyes and fell backwards flat on the cold wet grass. The vehicles screeched to a halt in an arc around him, fifteen feet away.

Now he had to confess. Now he had to say out loud that his Bones, his brilliant, beautiful partner, was dead. Now he had to tell them she was broken and lifeless in the cold and dark. And it was his fault.

'Agent Booth?! Agent Booth?' He heard his name called but didn't want or couldn't answer at first. He opened his mouth to speak, the words wouldn't form. He thought if he lay there, just lay there still and quiet, he would wake and this nightmare would be over. Or he might sink into the earth, become a part of the planet's cycle of life, and just disappear.

He didn't pray. He knew now however much you wanted something, it wasn't delivered to men such as him. Bones had been right all along. There was no omnipotent merciful being watching over them. Booth knew he wasn't righteous enough, wasn't faithful or strong enough. His love was always right. Booth wished he could tell her that now, just so he could see her veiled expression of smugness, and hear her say, 'I did tell you, Booth.' But she would wouldn't speak to him ever again, to anyone again.

All hell was breaking loose around him. Men loaded to the teeth with firearms and crime scene teams scampered around him. People with climbing gear stood around waiting, watching. Paramedics rushed around him, starting to examine him. Latex gloved hands felt, poked and prodded his weeping wounds.

'Agent Booth, where's Dr Brennan?' one officer asked, in a rushed tone. On hearing her name and the question, what was left of his strength, forced his hand up. Booth aimed his hand in the direction of his point of egress.

'In there. You're too late. I wasn't strong enough…' Booth couldn't even open his eyes. He didn't want to see their condemning faces. Or for them to see his guilt ridden, hollow eyes. There was a silence and a stilling from the gathering at his statement. He squeezed his eyelids tighter hearing the silence cover him with a darkness.

He felt a sharp prick in his arm. He looked to it, to see a needle being withdrawn by a paramedic. 'It's morphine, Agent Booth. You'll feel more comfortable in a moment.'

Booth wanted to kick the man, lash out at him for easing his pain. He wanted to feel it, have it torture him, as his penance. He wanted to bear the cross of his grief and shame, lucid. He wanted the anger, not sweet oblivion.

No sooner had he had the thought, a warmth spread from his arm, a delicious comforting heat. It travelled his shoulder then into his torso. Numbing everything in a slow creep around all his wounds. He fought the wondrous relaxing sensation, shaking his head vainly to clear it, and opened his eyes.

'Booth?' Cam said, kneeling beside him. She looked wan and distraught. Her eyes sparkled with tears and when she placed her palm on his sweaty, soiled face, he wanted to weep. But he had nothing left, he was all cried out. Arid.

'I… wasn't strong enough. She fell. I'm sorry.' Cam nodded and swallowed her tears.

'It's ok, Booth.' Booth shook his head at her, he knew it wasn't ok, nothing would ever be ok again. Cam continued delicately, 'We'll get her out.' Booth nodded and closed his eyes again.

'Be gentle with her,' he managed to say, before he was lifted from the grass as if he was levitating. He didn't realise he was now on a stretcher and being taken to an ambulance. Cam took his hand and went with him. He felt her squeeze it, but the morphine had intoxicated his mind and body, and he was drifting, floating on a warm ocean.

He heard a familiar voice and cringed. It was Angela's voice. He knew the pain she was going to have now, the grief she would have to endure because of him. Bones' best friend wouldn't forgive him. Booth felt her hand in his free one.

'I'm so sorry, Ange.' Flickering his eyes open to look into her, facing his demon. But he didn't see anger or hate. He saw compassion and love, entwined with horror at his injuries.

Booth couldn't bear compassion from her, from anyone. It was all too much. He slammed his eyes shut, wrenching his hand from hers and tried to curl into a ball. But he couldn't, purposeful expert hands were cleaning and repairing his wounds.

'Leave me!' he shouted, lashing out, pushing the hands away and off him, fighting. He tried to sit up but was held firm by his shoulders.

'Agent Booth, please? Lay down. Stay still.' The paramedic was attending to the gash on his side. He vaguely heard words from them like, rib exposed. Stitches, fluids, blood loss, laceration. All meant nothing to him. All irrelevant.

'Get off! Leave me alone!' he yelled at the nameless unknown faces. They didn't heed his words but continued regardless.

'Booth? It's Ok, I don't blame you,' Angela said, standing back as he struggled against his restraints, now looping over his thrashing legs.

'Enough, Booth!' Ange shouted suddenly at him. Her harsh tone was a relief, he wanted to be shouted at, hit, punched and kicked, then maybe he would feel better. 'Calm down. It was our fault, not yours. We didn't get here in time,' she explained. Booth could hear her own guilt leak through her words of comfort.

Booth relaxed and looked to her, shaking his head vigorously, disagreeing savagely, 'Gravedigger bitch's fault,' he said easing her, before everything went blank, and he slipped from the horror into forced bliss.

Ange jumped down out of the ambulance. There was a commotion around the vent. Men were holding guide ropes that trailed off into the shaft. Flood lights were being erected, and an ambulance backed up towards the shaft.

Cam stood back watching as the second ambulance crew prepared a stretcher and body bag to carry Dr Brennan out, finally.

Ange went to her side, Cam flicked her a glance, her hands on her hips.

'They found her,' Cam said trying to hold herself together emotionally, obviously preparing herself. 'How's Booth?' Her voice cracked on her question.

'Angry. They put him out, while they patch him up.' Cam nodded, then looked back to the vent, eyes hollow and full. Angela in no better state. 'He'll never get over this,' Ange said, riddled with sorrow.

'No, he won't,' Cam said softly. 'Will any of us?' she asked rhetorically. Ange looped her arm through hers and gave it a squeeze. They leant in and rested their temples together. They watched on in painful silence, waiting for their friend to be brought out.

'They got the bitch.' Jack appeared at the ladies' side almost ghost-like. The women turned to him and gave him the slightest acknowledgement of his words. 'They picked her up hopping a flight to Europe, Amsterdam. How's Booth?'

'Not good, Jack. He blames himself,' Ange said, taking Jack's offered hand.

'I imagine he does. We would never have found them, if it wasn't for her list of planned cells. Shit, why didn't we look here first?!' His anguish painfully evident. Jack shook his head, dropping it to look at his feet. Ange squeezed his hand but he didn't look up to her, just the vent opening.

'That list contained eight cells, Jack? We had three teams looking at each location. This just happened to be the second to last. It was meant to be this way.'

'You don't honestly believe that do you?' Cam said, looking to Ange incredulously.

'Yes. I do. Fate is a path taken without knowledge of its destination. We're all at its mercy… Tempe's path has just ended here. She would accept that,' Ange said quietly, sadly.

The colleagues all straightened and braced themselves as a sweaty recovery man crawled out of the shaft, then looked over to them. His face chilled and dirty, unreadable. He had blood on his hands. They all saw it and took a deep breath as he neared. He got to them in four strides.

'We found a pulse,' Cam stared blankly, his words too cruel if untrue. 'It's faint, she's in a bad way.' Ange felt her knees buckle, Jack held her firm, supporting her.

Cam stepped forward and said confused, 'What??'

'She's alive. Barely.' Ange looked to Jack her eyes wide, feeling her cold heart start to pound. The recovery guy continued, 'She needs fluids, blood and emergency surgery for a ruptured spleen, which looks like she sustained when she was kidnapped. Her right wrist is in a mess and she has a fractured ankle. Christ knows how she survived this long. Or the drop. About fifteen feet I'd say. But luckily there was a ventilation fan blade at the bottom of the shaft and it buckled under her weight, and cushioned her fall. It's gonna be touch and go.' He didn't sound too convinced she would make it. 'They are bringing her out now.'

The man walked back to the shaft quickly and spoke to the second team of paramedics.

Cam, Ange and Jack all looked astonished, disbelievingly at each other for a few seconds. Then they clutched together and hugged hard. 'You tell Booth, Cam,' Ange said quickly, regaining her strength and emotions.

'No not yet. In case…' Cam grimaced trailing off, but her eyes now sparkled with hope rather than grief. 'It will be too much to give him hope, then if she doesn't make it. It will crush him.' Jack nodded agreeing just as the rescuers backed out, dragging Bones on a flexi back board. She was strapped down and wrapped up in a black blanket.

There was a hushed silencing from the crime scene crews, as they stopped what they were doing, to watch Bones' extraction. The paramedics fluttered around her professionally, putting in drips and straps to her wrist. An oxygen mask was placed over her mouth and more blankets.

Ange was first over, pushing bystanders out of her way, as she went to her friend.

'Sweetie? You hold on, ok? Hold on. Fight like hell!. And stay away from that fucking bright light! Do you hear me?!' She snarled in Bones ear. Cam almost laughed but couldn't. She was weeping, dragging Ange away so the paramedics could do their job unhindered. None of them saw Bones recognise or heed her words.

They watched on as Bones was quickly and efficiently placed, then secured, in the ambulance. It put its sirens on and bounced over the grass, as the three colleagues and friends watched on.

They walked over to the second ambulance where Booth was laying strapped down but conscious now. He had his arm over his eyes and a hand on his flank's laceration. All three of them hopped up into the ambulance and sat down in silence. The ambulance rocked, shaking Booth from his lonely all consuming grief.

'Did they bring her up?' Booth said slowly and softly.

'Yeah, Booth. They got her,' Jack said flaring his eyes at the ladies opposite, grimacing, not liking lying to him or holding back the truth. 'We got the Gravedigger too. She was getting on a plane to Europe. She's in custody.' Booth nodded under his arm.

Ange stroked his hand over his face, limp and cold. He entwined his fingers blindly with her and squeezed it. Grateful for the human kind contact. His anger subsiding with the drugs, and initial shock.

'The Gravedigger had left us a present,' he began slowly, bitterly, still unable to look at his friends yet. 'A gun and a bullet.' Cam looked to Ange and queried with her brow not understanding, as a part of the story was missing.

'Bones fired it and it pierced the steel wall panel.' Booth felt the lie stick in his throat. He swallowed it down, knowing that truth was hers to tell, not him. Booth took on her mortal sin and made it his own.

'I hammered the hole bigger and managed to squeeze though. I found a way out. Except there was another shaft, we had to jump it. She was so weak.' Booth could feel his heart splitting all over again. 'She had a ruptured spleen, she realised that early on. She was so tired, you know?' His arm came down and he uncovered his face and eyes. He didn't let go of Ange's hand, he held it tighter. Ange was nodding with a delicate pretty smile on her lips.

'I tried, I did… I prayed.' Ange nodded her tears now rolling down her cheeks. Booth continued, 'We fell down. I tried to hold on to her. I wasn't strong enough, not enough…' another lie. Again he couldn't bring himself to tell them of her sacrifice. Because it shamed and tormented him, turning him inside out.

'Booth? It's ok. It's gonna be ok.' Ange tried to ease his obvious grief and self loathing. She caressed his gaunt face, Cam placed her hand on his thigh. He looked over to her smiling at him, gently. Jack patted his shoulder and smiled warmly adding a little nod.

Booth laid still and silent as the ambulance siren went on and it hurtled along the interstate towards the emergency room.

Confessional. St Teresa's On The Hill, Saturday PM…

'Why did you lie to your friends, Seeley?' Father Tony asked sympathetically.

'Because if I told them the truth of what she had done, tried to kill herself, they would think badly of her. They would see that as a weakness. And I can't bear them to think that about her.'

'They wouldn't think that. I'm sure they would see her actions as heroic and altruistic. A selfless act.'

'These people, Father, don't believe as we do. Did. Do.' Booth was confused of his own stance and tried to find the words. 'They are scientists, an act like that, at that moment, would be irrational and pointless. It would be something Bones would never do. To take her own life with a bullet.'

'But she did attempt it. I think you're scared to admit the real reason to them. She did it out of love for you, Seeley.' Father Tony explaining what Booth already knew in his heart. He knew Booth needed to hear that out loud.

Booth was silent for a long while, staring into the void of the confessional. Father Tony continued, 'You lied about what happened when she finally let go your hand too. Again I believe you refused to tell them because you're ashamed she chose her death over yours. Again out of love for you…' Father Tony paused then said gently, 'Why are you so ashamed of that love, Seeley?'

'Because she's wrong to love me, misguided. I'm not worthy of her.' Booth voice was trembling with emotion.

'You may think that. But she doesn't, Seeley?' Father Tony let his words sink in and took a breath. 'She obviously thinks you are more than worthy of her. Or she would never have done what she did for you…' Booth took a deep breath and let it go, he nodded slowly accepting his priest wise words, finally.

'What are you doing here, Seeley? You should be by her side,' Father Tony said gently.

'I know. I came to find the strength and courage to accept her love. To thank the Lord for His grace and His miracle. For His mercy, beg forgiveness for my loss of faith. And for hearing my pleas for our deliverance.'

Father Tony smiled and nodded. 'Have you found the strength and courage, Seeley?'


'Have you renewed your faith in our Lord?'


Father Tony made the sign of the cross towards him, saying firmly, 'Our Lord in His mercy has forgiven you your sins. This is your penance, Seeley… Speak to her friends and tell them of her bravery if asked. Do not be ashamed of her reasons. Go from here to Dr Brennan. Return her love and commitment to you for as long as God grants you her presence. And never doubt our Lord again. Go in peace, Seeley.'

Booth crossed himself. The pent up six day old, stale air in his lungs, seeped out in a slow easy pressure. Lightning his chest and raising his shoulders. He drew in a clean fresh breath. His soul cleansed, washed clean and pure. His fragile heart, beat harder and purposefully. His mind at rest.

'Thank you, Father.'

'God Bless. Give Dr Brennan my regards, Seeley.' Booth could feel the gentle smile in his priest's words.

'Yes, I will.' Booth stood, opening the door, stepping over the threshold into the nave again. It was a different vision from when he'd entered. Not cold, dull and silent anymore.

The morning sun had risen high and had burnt off the heavy mist from the morning. The shafts of sunlight streamed through the stained glass on the eastern aspect. It coloured every surface with a myriad of fascinating shapes, refreshing the church with its vibrancy. It warmed it too. The golden 16th century chalice on the altar glistened and caught his eye. Booth walked towards the altar, faced the cross, genuflected and crossed himself. He lifted his bowed head towards the effigy of the Christ crucified, and smiled.

The practising choir in the Virgin Mary's chapel started singing, accompanied by the massive church organ. The air filled with the uplifting sound of a soprano solo voice, singing Ave Maria.

Booth stepped back respectfully, turned and walked down the nave towards the huge oak doors. He dipped his middle finger in the holy water receptacle in the vestibule. Then crossed himself with the four points of the cross; head, heart and shoulders. Booth opened the doors and stepped out into a crystal clear day.

Georgetown Washington DC. Hyamns Private medical facility. Saturday, PM…

'Booth? Where have you been?' Ange said relieved to see him, getting up from the couch in the waiting room. Booth stepped in and closed the door gently.

'Sorry, Ange. I've been having a hard time with things. I'm better now.'

'I guessed as much.' They hugged hard. Booth had changed and shaved, although his eyes still told of his ordeal and his torment of the last few days. His injuries still pained him, but the pain relief was taking the edge off it.

'Luckily for you she is still out of it.' She poked his chest and gave him a chastising pout for not coming sooner. 'We were worried sick about you, Booth?'

'I'm sorry. Truly. How is she?' he asked, eager to skip past his AWOL status.

'Humm. Poorly, she's not come round properly yet,' she said gently, sitting back down with a heavy flump. Booth joined her, then nodded looking into space. 'But improving,' she added reassuring him. Booth smiled and sunk back on the couch, relieved to hear that.

'How are your injuries?' Ange asked concerned, Booth looked into her warm eyes and smiled.

'Improving,' he said with humility and deflection.

'Ha. Ok. I get it hero.' Ange chuckled at him clearly obfuscating.

'Don't call me that, Ange. She's the hero. One day I'll tell you, but not today. I just need to see her.'

'Of course! Go in, they've just finished with her dressings and checking her meds.' Ange eased him with a pretty smile and a pat to his knee.

'Ok. I will.'

'Are you gonna be around for a while, Booth?' Ange enquired hopefully.

'Yeah, I'm not going anywhere.' Ange patted his knee again with a charming smile.

'Good. I'll take a break then.' Ange got up and pecked his cheek.

'Yeah, ok.' He looked distracted. Ange dropped her hip noting his unease, then she took his hand sweetly.

'Come on then, Booth. I'll walk with you,' she said, seeing he was a little apprehensive of what to expect. He was right to be apprehensive.

He got up and they left the waiting room behind. They walked slowly along the corridor until. Ange stopped as they reached Bones' room. She held his elbow and smiled gently. Booth looked to Ange as she said, 'She looks bad, Booth but she is improving.' He gave her a tiny nod of recognition, then braced himself.

Booth opened the door slowly, peering around it. On seeing her, his heart sank, hitting his shoes instantly. She lay asleep, her hands over the top of the covers, a heart clip on one of her fingers. A drip into the same hand, obviously administering fluids and pain relief. Her other wrist in a pressure cuff, to protect and immobilise her multi fractured wrist.

Her right leg was elevated and her ankle in another pressure cuff, covering her broken ankle. Her eyes looked sunken and had dark rings around them. The monitor beside her was showing heart, lungs and temperature. It bleeped, pacing her quietly, signalling she was alive, although she looked a long way from it.

Booth didn't notice the room was filled with flowers, huge vases filled with wonderful, bright cheerful blooms. Cards of every description and cute fluffy animals holding balloons, wishing her well soon. He didn't notice the beautiful wide window overlooking a sunlit garden. Or even the other conveniences of her room. All he saw was her.

He closed the door quietly and walked over to her, looking over her body and injuries slowly. Noting each one and knowing exactly how she got them, and the instant she had received them. Booth's torment returned, his heart aching for her pain. He forced his tears back, taking a shallow breath.

He sank quietly to the chair beside her bed and pulled himself closer to her. Booth clenched his fists, then towered them on the sheet beside her, resting his chin on the top one. Booth sat silent and calm, staring into her beautiful face, ignoring the crushing sensation in his chest.

Her chest rose and fell evenly, serenaded by the monitor. It was a long time before he spoke.

'I'm so desperately sorry, Bones. Please forgive me,' he said quietly, 'I should have come earlier. I've been a mess, you see.' He watched for any recognition she could hear him. He saw none. Unconcerned, he continued just as quietly, quite prepared to tell her again when she was conscious.

'Its been very difficult coming to terms with knowing, believing, I'm loved by you, and what you did for me… I was so angry with you, the Big Guy, myself. You'll be glad to hear, I'm not anymore.'

He laid his cheek down on the covers beside her relaxed hand. Booth stroked the undamaged fingers that protruded beyond the cuff with his index finger pad. Booth watched himself do it, barely making contact, but just enough to feel her warmth.

'I went to confession this morning.' He closed his eyes feeling very fatigued suddenly. The bleep of her heart and soft breathing lulling him closer to sleep. 'I feel better about things. My priest is a good man, Bones. He understood… Father Tony gave me my penance. It's an easy one to do…' He yawned slowly, sighing softly, relaxing now he was close to her. 'An eternal one which I'll have no problem with, you'll see.' Booth fell quietly to sleep, his warm finger over one of hers.

Bones opened her eyes, tilting her head to look at him. She smiled delicately, closed her eyes again and rested. She had heard all his words, apology and admissions. After a long while she drew her hand from his, as he slept. She then placed her hand delicately on his head, smoothing his soft brown hair, comforted by his warmth and nearness.

The sun set now, the garden outside in darkness. Two hours after she had laid her hand on his head, Booth stirred from his slumber.

He looked up to her. Bones smiled instinctually knowing he was looking at her. Then very slowly she opened her eyes, looking directly into his.

The last time either of them had looked into each other, she had smiled serenely, just as she was doing now. Then Booth had watched as she dropped to her death.

Her eyes merged with something deep inside him now, connecting with his thoughts, those memories and agonising emotions. They shared the silent painful recollections for a few brief moments. They then brushed aside the atrocities and the carnage of those few hours, with a blink of their eyes. They agreed silently to move onward, to their future and never look back.

Booth tilted his head slightly, his eyes filling with tears, not because of pain or horror but with sublime joy. His beloved Bones was most definitely alive. He was loved by her and it was proven. She was his miracle. Bones saw his joy, it was matched by hers. Her fingers delicately caressed the soft strands that swept into his nape. Booth knew what was elemental now, vital and essential. He pushed up from his thighs, to lean over her face. So close he could feel her soft exhales on his eyelashes. Booth moved closer to her mouth with his, flicked a glance to her lips then to her eyes, which were vibrant azure.

Booth made a delicate contact with his lips to hers. Holding still for a few seconds feeling her lips warm and healing his soul. Bones lifted her broken hand to the back of his head and eased him closer. She mouthed her lips over his, then tenderly slid her tongue into him, just. Her sensuous, intimate action sent a wave of pleasure through him. Bones' heart monitor bleeped slightly quicker, especially when his tongue met hers, and they gently slid around one another. Reuniting them, retying their bonds back together.

Bones sighed softly, tasting him fresh and fearless this time. The intoxication of his kiss, sent her monitor a little wild. He felt and tasted delicious, she mused, so soft and tender. It was a kiss overflowing with love and gentleness. Booth too refused to stop kissing her, he found her just as irresistible.

His hand came up and caressed her cheek. They changed angle and went deeper, more urgent and passionate, but still extremely careful with each other. However, Bones was insistent. They continued till the monitors fast pace disturbed them and she withdrew from their kiss. She still kissed his lips several times softly, opening her eyes and chuckling. Booth smiled wide, resting his brow on hers. They both knew it was a little funny listening to her heart beat like that, while they kissed.

'More,' she said softly, once her chuckles died down. He cocked his brow and grinned wider, charmed by her request.

'Sure?' he asked sweetly. Bones nodded and eased him back down, kissing him again. This time their eyes stayed open and fixed on each other. The monitor was off again but this time a nurse, closely followed by a concerned Ange, came through the door quickly. Her monitor was obviously linked to the nurse's station.

'Wahell, that makes perfect sense,' Ange said, walking in smiling cheekily. The nurse smiled at the pair then, turned away, leaving the room placated. Booth leant back a tad and sat down on the chair, still looking adoringly at her. The monitor settled.

'Hey, Sweetie. You're awake finally?' Ange pecked her cheek and sat the other side of her. Bones found Booth's hand and placed her fingers over the top of it. His heart palpitated knowing this was a fresh start. A new beginning for them.

'Hum. Yes. I feel much better now Booth's with me.'

He snapped his eyes back to hers, touched by her admission. She gave him a beautiful smile. 'You're not going away again are you?' she asked softly, he shook his head. Knowing there were more words and questions in that, than was obvious to Ange. The undertone evident to them both though.

'No. Are you?' Booth countered gently.

'No. I'm not going anywhere,' she said firmly, putting pressure on his hand under hers. Booth grinned wide, getting up again and kissing her. She reciprocated with a smile through the next wonderful caress of his lips and mouth on hers. Ange leant back on the seat as they separated. Still looking into each other, deliriously happy.

'Oh God! Are we gonna have to put up with you two gazing at each other, and kissing all the time?' Ange asked humorously, but obviously delighted they were being so affectionate openly. Bones chuckled, then winced at little. Booth's smile dropped instantly.

'I'm ok. It's ok, Booth,' she placated sweetly seeing his concern. He sat back down gingerly not wholly convinced of her comfort. 'More than likely, Ange. Booth is very affectionate I've discovered. But we will endeavour to be discrete at work, won't we?' She grinned enchantingly at him.

'Yeah, Bones. Whatever you want,' he said quickly, seriously.

'I've got some news,' Ange said leaning forward. Bones and Booth looked to her. 'Gravedigger took her life last night. She was found hung in her cell, by her own sheets,' Ange said without compassion or affect, obviously glad.

Booth looked to Bones. Neither one said anything; they didn't have to, but the relief in both was tangible.

Bones moved on quickly. 'How's your side, Booth? And back?' Asked with care and a concerned smile, her brow wrinkling a little. Booth knew he had no option but to be frank, or she would see right through him. So he was honest and clear.

'My back is a little sore still and my side…' He stood up and lifted his shirt to show her. Her hand and eyes went to the covered stitches. She caressed around the bandage softly. Then she kissed her finger tips and placed them back on it. Booth smiled and looked to her, both remembering how he got that injury. The flashback painful and still fresh.

'Good. It's healing well. Turn around,' she instructed tenderly, he flicked his eyes to Ange then back to her. She saw his hesitation, but he complied anyway. Bones slid her hand up his back under his t shirt. Booth sat on the bed so she could reach and feel. Her delicate finger tips felt for the scars she knew she must have left via her clawing nails. He blinked a few times forcing the tears away, glad he had his back to them. They both remembered that moment vividly. The tenderness of her touch was her own apology.

Ange was silent as Bones assessed him.

'I'm sorry, Booth,' she said softly, he swallowed and looked over his shoulder to her, shaking his head at her, tilting it. She slid her fingers away, her eyes brimming.

'Don't, Bones,' he said, leaning down and kissing her lips again.

'Hands?' She wanted to check him all out, all his injuries. This was her way. So he told her what she needed to know to ease her.

'They gave me Vidacane for my back. I haven't needed any today. My shin is much better. They stitched it good, Bones. Don't worry.' She looked into his eyes, concentrating on what he was saying. 'I'm on a broad spec antibiotic and had the dressings on my hands changed and re-stitched this afternoon.'

'Re-stitched? Why?' she enquired, confused, jumping in on that piece of information. Anges' brow wrinkling too.

'Oh, I. Umm. They split again, don't worry.' Booth realising his slip, tried to deflect her enquiry. She took his hands and eased them to her, looking into his eyes as she did.

She opened one palm, peeling his fingers back gently, to see inside. Her head tilted when she saw the nail marks where he had clenched his fist into himself so hard, he had torn open the flesh again. She understood.

'Oh, Booth,' she sighed and kissed the palms. Ange watched in silence all this going on, wanting to leave. This was obviously a very private moment between them. She felt awkward and confused but, if she went she would disturb them, and she was loath to do that.

'I was not in a good place this morning, Bones,' he explained honestly, she nodded understanding. He sat down gently beside her on the sheets as they caressed hands delicately.

'I heard what you said when you came in, Booth,' she said softly. His eyes grew wide not realising she had, 'You went for absolution.'

'Yes,' he said simply.

'You didn't need it, Booth. You did everything you could, more than was humanly possible to save me, us. And you did,' she said firmly. Booth dropped his eyes from her to look at their hands together. Bones continued, 'We had help though, didn't we?' She smiled tenderly, then kissed both his palms softly. Booth's eyes dilating a little at her admission, at her concession. Booth could only nod slowly in reply, mirroring her smile.

Bones sighed gently and said, 'Come here, lay beside me.' He looked reluctant and worried again.

'Bones… I don't think I…'

'You won't hurt me. Come on,' she insisted, Ange looked worried herself and fidgeted on her chair a little. Bones pushed the button on her bed to lift her up. The bed whirred and she rose slowly to a semi-seated position. The bed being plenty wide enough for two. He lifted his legs slowly onto the bed and rested back, shoulder to shoulder with her. He retook her hand as it lay on his thigh and caressed. Then they looked to each other and pecked lips softly.

'That's better,' Bones said gently. Ange sighed, relieved Bones didn't show any signs of discomfort. Bones said casually, 'I'm feeling a little hungry. Do you think they serve pudding here?' Ange shook her head, chuckling softly at her serious request.

'I'll go and find out, shall I?' She was already up and heading towards the door.

Bones said sweetly, 'Oh, Ange?'

'Yes, Bren?'

'If you see a bright light at the end of the corridor… Don't go into it, ok?' Anges' mouth dropped suddenly, along with her smile.

'You heard me?'

'Haa. Yes. Thank you, Ange. It was good advice.' Bones turned back to Booth and smiled softly. Ange left the room stunned and confused.

'You saw a bright light?' Booth asked incredulously, smoothing her hair out of her eyes delicately.

'Haa. Nooo. I was making a joke, Booth. I am trying to be more amusing?' She pecked his cheek, finishing it off with a sweet smile.

'Haa. That was quite good then.'

'Was it? Good.' She grinned wide, pleased, then asked casually, 'So, this priest of yours. Did he say I'm damned to hell for what I did?'

'Bones! No! Course not.' Booth snapped his face to hers, and pecked her lips. Bones glowed at his constant warmth and affection.

'But you did check?' Bones kissed his cheek warmly.

'Yes, I checked.' He grinned, staring into her face, which was pinking up nicely now. Her eyes coming back to life the longer they touched and spoke.

'And this penance,' she continued easily, 'What does it involve, precisely?'

'You really want to know?'

'Yeeesss.' Bones gave a slow nod.

'I have to return your love forever,' Booth said gently.

'Ar har.' Said calmly, although the monitor notched up a little, ratting her out. 'And that's easy for you is it?' Bones needing to know, to clarify.

'Water off a duck's back, Bones,' Booth said, charmingly dismissive of his life long penance.

'Oh, that's good. Because I wouldn't want that to be an ordeal for you.' She grinned wide, delighted.

Booth replied nonchalantly, kissing her lips yet again, 'Nah, Bones, not an ordeal, a heavenly reward…'

Authors Notes: If you read this far, thank you. The next part is called 'Repose'. It's a gentle ending to this, from Bones' POV. (M) (Erotic). JMerry Christmas to one and all! Till the next time… Lebxeb X.