Booth turned on the light to her office, well what used to be her office. Now it was used by whatever visiting professor they had at the time. Occasionally someone would use it to store files or records. It had become a catch all basically. The Jeffersonian was currently looking for a replacement for her but was having limited success.
He went to the large bookcase against the back wall and moved two large reference books to reveal a small box, no bigger than a paperback novel. He didn't know why he did this to himself. He never took the box, only opened it in here. Her office.
He sat down in the semi darkness-the lab was mostly empty this time of night, and opened the top of the box. Smiling sadly he pulled the top picture out and actually started to laugh. For the life of him he couldn't figure out why their eyes had all turned out so red, it looked as though the picture was taken by a demonic camera. Tracing their faces with his finger he laughed again at whatever the hell it was on Jack's head. That guy had more bad hats than he could fathom it seemed.
The next picture in the pile was one that she'd had framed for him at one time. After years of apartment living, he'd finally taken the plunge and bought a house. Not just any house though, this one at one time had belonged to his parents; they'd sold it a long time ago. The new owner had put a lot of time and money into fixing it up before being forced to sell due to illness. He remembered the way it had been though, small but clean, always enough to have food on the table and shoes on their feet. They'd sold it because as it turned out, they needed the money more than the house; he'd never known that until much later. He looked at the photo some more and remembered trying to sneak out one night to meet some girl; he'd almost broke an ankle coming out of the second story roof.
Booth sat that photo aside and looked at the next one. It was the outside of the Hoover building, the sun was bright in the sky and the building itself looked imposing as it should. The photo was taken the day of his appointment to Deputy Director. She'd wanted him to pose in front of it, but he declined. So she laughed and told him she'd photo shop him into it later. She never got the chance to do so he guessed. He'd gone to college; gotten his degree but never felt that he'd gotten an education until he'd entered that building. He'd never not wanted to walk through those doors, it was like coming home and he'd loved it there.
Seeley sat back against the couch cushion, holding the box in his lap and wondered what it would be like to go back there now. He knew that going back wouldn't take him to that place that he remembered though. Things were better now than they had been then, although it had taken a long time to get to now. He knew too that looking at these photographs wasn't helping anything but he had to do it. It was his way of saying goodbye. Each and every time, it was like he was walking in the front door but only seeing the back door at the same time. Never really living or leaving, but now he had to say goodbye.
The next photo was the carousel at City Park; he'd taken Parker there all the time when he was younger. Then when she had come along, he took her there too. They'd all had some really good times there. When it burned down a year ago, he'd often wondered if his memories were the only ones that burned down with it. Holding that photo he stared at it until he was seeing through it to another memory altogether, they'd been coming back from a case and had lapsed into an uncommon silence, each lost in their own thoughts. He'd turned the radio on for some background noise a mutually favorite song of theirs came on. They'd both started singing the Foreigner song, he played air drums on the dash and she acted the guitar hero. Laughing afterwards they both agreed that singing was never going to be their strongest suit and it was best their concerts stayed in the car.
He remembered the first time they did a lot of things together. The first kiss however was always in the forefront of his thoughts. She'd done it to secure Christmas for her dad and brother while they had been incarcerated; he'd done it to see her smile. Neither one of them knew that it would be the start of it all. That was the day he truly came alive and realized she was everything to him. He'd never asked if she felt the same-he just assumed she did.
Still flipping through the photo's he knew he'd only have a few more minutes before shift change and he'd have to go. Saying goodbye was so hard and this time would be the last time he'd do this. He couldn't keep looking through the past. He found the photo that was always the hardest for him to look at-it was also the hardest one to avoid. It was the three of them together, the two of them were arm in arm, and she was looking up at him, his hand on her belly swollen with his child. He'd been gone on a UC mission and Angela had brought her to the airport to pick him up and had snapped the picture of them as they walked out of the terminal.
Wiping away the tear that slowly rolled down his cheek, he looked hard at the only picture he had left of the three of them. He sighed deeply and put them back in the box. Closing the lid, he put the box back on the shelf and put the books back in front of it. Just thinking of everything that had lead up to this moment, he wouldn't change a thing. He missed them all so much, but working without the same old faces would just be too hard. He would try too hard to replace the old relationships with new faces and since the five of them had left, he knew it wouldn't be the same.
Standing up he wearily rubbed his face and ran his fingers through his hair. He left the office and waved to the security guard by the main entrance, "thanks Frank" he said softly before leaving the lab again. This time when he left he knew he'd never be back. He had the photo of the three of them in his pocket and was done looking at the past. 3 years wasn't long enough to forget, but it was long enough to try to say goodbye. Seeley strolled out of the Jeffersonian, never looking back and got into the fully packed truck parked outside and drove away.
"Who was that?" Karl asked Frank.
"That use to be the Deputy Director of the FBI, Seeley Booth." Frank replied quietly.
"What was he doing here?"
"Saying goodbye to some old ghosts-he comes back every year on the same date and looks at some old photographs."
"Pictures? Of what?"
"You remember that big fire in the apartment building about the liquor store on 7th a few years ago?" he asked the younger guard.
"Yeah, totally gutted it right? Few people died?" he said absently.
"Four employees from this lab, including his wife died in that fire, along with his young daughter. It was a birthday party, and he'd gone to get the ice cream, there was something wrong with a gas line in the liquor store and it blew up. There was no way anyone could know. You know those pictures on the wall in the break room? Dr. Saroyan, Dr. Hodgins, Angela Montenegro and Dr. Brennan, those were the people killed, Dr. Brennan was his wife."
"Oh man, that's terrible." Karl said.
"Yeah, that's why he looks at the photographs, just to say goodbye I guess. Well kid, I'm outta here, take care of the old girl; she's got a lot of history in here." Frank clapped the younger man on the shoulder with an open palm and left through the main doors.