Disclaimer: They're not mine. No infringement intended.

Summary: Season 5 ending? Maybe, maybe not. Possible spoilers.

Rating: K+/M Mild.

Thanks: To Kam, thanks for all your efforts. Appreciated always X

Seven Degrees Of Separation.

Le Cafe de Paris, Washington DC 21.32.

'So, Temperance, how long have we been dating?' Andrew asked softly, leaning over the table slightly, while he caressed Bones fingers at the base of her wine glass stem. She smiled just so the corner of her lips lifted, and her eyes followed his.

'Umm. A few months, I suppose. Why?' she asked, with a slight wrinkle to her brow, making her look confused by his question. Although she had some idea of where this conversation was leading. She nervously took a sip of her delicious ruby wine, and in doing so, brought her hand away from under his caressing fingers.

'A few months, riiight,' he confirmed, nodding, casting his eyes down. Andrew sighed, feeling her pull back from his touch yet again. He was getting too used to this, and it was confusing the hell out of him. His shirt felt incredibly tight all of a sudden. He loosened his tie, and popped his top button, saying, 'I'm going to be frank, Temperance.'

'Ok,' Bones said, feeling her toes curl in her Jimmy Choo's, and her stomach get uncomfortable under her little Dior number, all picked out by Ange last weekend for her.

'I've been extremely patient, I think you'll have to agree.' He looked into her eyes, trapping them. She shifted slightly in her chair awkwardly, and nodded. Bones opened her mouth to say something but Andrew smiled the tiniest amount, and shook his head for her not to continue, but to listen. She breathed out, her bare shoulders settled down a few centimetres.

Andrew continued even softer, 'I understand that you and Booth have had some issues to work through recently, with the Gravedigger trial, and what that brought up for you both. I gave you room to recover, and come to terms. And those issues have put a strain on your partnership.' Bones swallowed, and nodded almost imperceptibly.

She realised Andrew didn't even know the half of their problems but she wasn't going to elaborate or enlighten him. He wasn't going to be privy to that information. She couldn't tell him that Booth had proposed marriage to her. That she had refused him for professional reasons. Or that they had kissed, or even that she had told Booth to move on, after telling him she couldn't have children. Knowing he wanted to have more, she felt as if she would be stopping him from that, and eventually he would resent her for it. No, none of those things Andrew was entitled to know.

'But you both seem to have worked through them now. He's happily dating, you're dating, I think happily.' He looked at her for conformation, delighted to see her smile a tad, and nod to ease him. 'Good, well, is it that you don't find me physically attractive or that I'm repugnant in some way? Cos I've been throwing myself at you for weeks, and I don't seem to be having an impact. You've rebuffed my advances on countless occasions. Am I not turning you on, or am I rushing you? Tell me what I'm doing wrong. At this juncture I'm willing to do anything, Temperance...' he trailed off, as she lent forward, and took his hand gently, not looking into his eyes at first.

'Andrew,' she said softly, then looked up to him. What he saw in her eyes and felt in her touch made him hope. 'You're correct...' Bones said gently, quietly, 'I have been pushing you away. I apologise. I've been very confused about my feelings recently.' Andrew's hope started to fade.

'Oh. Boy, this doesn't sound good.' Andrew rolled back in his chair, and sank a little. Bones gave him a gentle appeasing smile, and clasped her glass stem, looking into the liquid. Andrew knew what was coming now, and his heart sank to the pit of his stomach.

'You are attractive, very amusing and have been exceedingly patient with me...'

'Buuuut,' Andrew drew out, already resigned to his fate now, anger pricking his nerve endings. He felt a sap at being jerked around by the doctor.

'But... I've come to realise that I have strong feelings for Booth. Clearly I've not divulged that to him, nor am I likely too. Especially as he is very happy with his romantic involvement with...' Bones nearly vomited on the pristine table cloth, thinking of the two together. She swallowed hard on a mouthful of wine, then took a deep breath. 'I thought by being with you...' she said carefully, 'These feelings may fade and dissipate with time.' Then she said strongly, 'They haven't.'

Andrew nodded, and sipped from his glass now, the wine tasting bitter, even rancid to him. 'I see now that I've been extremely selfish and unfair to you,' Bones said in apology, but it was too little, too late for Andrew. He didn't like the idea of being used as an experiment or distraction, not one iota. His bile rose now, pride hurt and he definitely felt resentful.

'Yes, it was, is,' he said bitterly, Bones snapped her eyes up to his, seeing his hurt and anger now beginning to rise to the surface. 'You're just playing with my feelings like you have Booth's,' he spat quietly, leaning across the table again. Bones reeled backwards at his rebuke, shocked by it.

She asked confused, 'What do you mean?'

'Booth told you didn't he? Told you he was in love with you?' he sneered, challenging her to lie. She didn't.

'Yes, but I wasn't sure of his feelings for me, nor of mine at the time. We decided to be just partners,' she explained, then added, 'Mutually decided.'

'Oh. Really?? Mutually?' Andrew said sarcastically. Bones nodded briefly. 'Or did you just tell him what you both should do? And he followed you like a love sick bloody puppy as per?'

Bones looked around the restaurant nervously to see if his rant was over heard. Andrew looked around too, then laughed ironically, adding with a slight sneer, 'Jesus, Temperance, you're more concerned about how you look to others, than the people that really matter. You screw around with his head and mine with little unspoken promises. Then when it suits, you back off. They have a word for women like you, you know.' Bones kept calm but felt her cheeks flush, and her palms felt damp.

'Andrew, I understand you're upset...'

'Upset? Phuh. You don't have a clue. You know what? I'm glad he's screwing doctor what's-her-name, and moved on. Poor bastard, you broke the guy. He's been everything to you, for you, and you just toss him away like a used napkin... Now you know what it feels like to have your heart broken.' Bones dropped her eyes from his, and looked to her empty plate, her heart withering in her chest cavity.

She knew Andrew was right. Her heart was breaking knowing Booth was happy with his other doctor. She also cringed internally knowing Andrew had read the situation between Booth and her, when he'd declared his affections for her. It was her that persuaded Booth to let them go on as normal, even suggest they date other people. Not realising the effect it would have on their partnership, or her feelings for him.

Andrew stood, pulling out his kid skin wallet, flicked out a few fifties, and threw them over his plate. Bones looked up at him, red faced, and eyes watery. He swilled the remnants in his glass, and smacked his lips together. Then with a sneer, leaning towards her, he said secretively, 'I better not say that he's off to work with recruits in Afghanistan for six months, and is leaving at the end of the week, had I?' Bones felt the colour drain from her cheeks, and her mind froze.

Andrew straightened, seeing her horrified reaction, and wallowed in his triumph at hurting her. 'Oh. Didn't he tell you?' he said viciously. 'Yeah well, you're just one of the women he works with. I suppose he's only told people he really cares about... Good bye, Doctor Brennan.' Andrew walked out of the restaurant with his head held high, and didn't give her another thought as he hailed a cab.

Bones sat in silence and stillness for many minutes. Her usually analytical mind stuck on one thought, and one thought only.

He's leaving. He's leaving...

'Shall I clear?' asked the waiter nervously. Bones lifted her head slowly, and nodded absently.

'Can I have the cheque please?' she asked, noting her voice was frail, and her cheeks felt wet. The waiter nodded, but didn't make eye contact with her, as he was sure she would be embarrassed by her emotional fragility.

Special Agent Seeley Booth's apartment, 23.40. Bedroom.

'Oh! Yes, Seeley! Sooo good-deeper-don't stop.' Booth sped up his thrusts, hearing her urgency, and impending climax arriving. He buried his head in the pillow beside her, crushing his eye lids closed till it hurt, praying for this to be over, needing it to be over. He felt soiled, impossibly guilty, and utterly wretched. He knew this was a disaster to have sex now, tonight, with her. It felt all so wrong to him.

'Kiss-me-kiss-me,' she begged. Booth dragged his mouth to hers complying with her entreaty, and kissed her gasping mouth. He felt his body reacting to hers inevitably, to its warmth, and tugging at his erection. Her beautiful face danced over his retinas, her mesmeric smile drawing him down, deeper into the illicit fantasy.

'Yes! Oh, God! You're good, Seeley,' she complimented generously, a hair's breadth away from ecstasy.

'Boones,' he whimpered.

Everything stilled, silence rose like an ominous cloud swirling around his fuddled mind. His eyes opened slowly, looking at his white dented pillow where his face had been.

She stilled under him. He froze, feeling his stomach wrench, and her long red talons dig into his buttocks.

Then he was thrown off her, and kicked away. 'You fucking bastard! You said her name. Bastard,' she spat viciously. His erection fading, and slipping from her now.

Booth rolled onto his back, and covered his eyes with his arm, and sobbed, 'I'm sorry.'

'You think of her, our first time??' she spat, jumping from the bed, and looking for her panties. 'You're pathetic. You said you were over her!'

Booth said not too convincingly, 'I am.'

'Ha! Clearly.' The room was windy somehow he noticed, the air within rushed too and fro, as she grabbed items, and dressed hurriedly. 'Well, I'm gone Mr. Good luck in Afghanistan. Don't bother to write.' She grabbed the rest of her clothes, and walked out to his lounge. The air stilled, and the front door slammed. Booth curled into a ball, dragging the covers over his body, and wept.

Dr Jack & Angela Hodgins residence, 23.46.

Bones rang the bell, then banged the door several times. She waited a few moments, looking through the glass panes to see if there was any movement behind the door. She banged again, even harder, more desperate.

'Hold ya horses! Coming!' Jack shouted, as he trotted down the staircase, tying up his robe.

Ange asked, as she followed him down, 'Who is it, Jack?'

'How do I know? I haven't opened the door yet,' Jack snapped back cheekily, then opened the door, stunned to see a red, wet faced doctor Brennan.

Bones walked straight past him, across the marble hall, and looked up at Ange, halfway down the winding opulent staircase. Ange's face fell, when she saw her best friend's distress.

'He's leaving,' Bones said, tears trickling down her cheeks. Ange came down the stairs fast, and held onto her friend tight.

'I know, Sweetie. I'm sorry,' she mumbled on her shoulder.

'I'll put the kettle on,' Jack said quietly, walking through to the kitchen. Ange leant back, releasing her gently, rubbing her upper arms. Then she stroked her tears off her cheeks.

'Come through to the kitchen,' Ange said softly. Bones sniffed, and followed in a daze. Ange took hold of her hand, and pulled her on.

'He didn't tell me. Andrew did, we broke up, he told me,' she rambled, confused and clearly torn. Ange pushed her to a stool next to the kitchen island. Jack made himself busy with making drinks, while Ange sat next to her, holding her hands.

'Andrew told you?' Ange asked softly, confused too now.

'Yes, Andrew was very upset. He wanted to hurt me.'

'I see. So, you're over then?'

'Yes...' she said, unaffected by her romance being finished. She continued quickly, 'Is it true? Is Booth going to Afghanistan?' Bones was never one to pray to something she didn't believe in, but she couldn't help herself now. She prayed it was a sadistic retreating blow from Andrew, and a vicious lie.

Ange pouted at her, then nodded very slowly. Bones eyes trickled again, as she dropped her head, covered her brow with her palm, rubbing the ache that was throbbing under her cranium. 'Why? Why is he... I don't understand. He said we would still be partners. I thought we'd agreed...' she ranted, weeping, shaking her head, furrowing her brow, totally twisted up inside. Ange shook her head, and placed her palm on her wet cheek. Ange looked into her eyes with deep sympathy.

'Booth couldn't wait forever, Bren. You pretty much told him you two had no future romantically. So you both started dating other people. And when he found out that you were jetting off for potentially a year to Mala-uh-ar, whatever. He wasn't gonna hang around, waiting for you to come back.'

'But why Afghanistan? And why didn't he tell me?'

'Did you tell him you were going away for a year?' Ange countered gently, trying to get Bones to see her error, and selfishness.

'No I, thought...' Bones checked, the truth slapping her in the face now. 'I, oh, God, Afghanistan?? He could get injured or worse, I don't...' she trailed off, as the tears leaked from her swollen eyes. She felt like vomiting again. Ange and Jack exchanged pitying glances.

'Yeah. Well, sweetie, he heard through the grapevine. And with Jack and me going away, he didn't see any point in staying. He was asked by the Rangers to go and train the rookies. They told him with his skills to pass on, less of our young men would die out there.'

'So they appealed to his patriotism and sense of duty,' Bones said, wiping her eyes, taking a calming breath, starting to rationalise his decision. 'I understand.' She nodded to herself, confirming she understood, then continued, 'He wouldn't say no under those circumstances...'

Then Bones rolled her head as if in agony, as more saltwater drained down her pretty cheeks. 'Why didn't he tell me?' she pined her question distraught, feeling the hopelessness of the situation.

Jack placed a hot mug of coffee beside the ladies in turn, along with a box of tissues thoughtfully. He kissed Ange's cheek, then went off to bed in silence. Ange nodded at him sweetly, seeing him go.

Ange asked, 'Would you ask Booth not to go?'

'Why would I do that?' Bones asked, confused by her question. Ange took a sip of coffee, and smiled. She knew it hadn't entered Bones' head to change his mind, as she wouldn't change hers if asked to reconsider her plans. The notion seemingly ridiculous to her.

'If he asked you to stay, would you?' Ange questioned.

'I... No, yes.' She shook her head bewildered, saying, 'Oh, I don't know. He wouldn't ask me to stay,' Bones explained, knowing Booth better than most.

'No exactly,' Ange confirmed. 'Because he knows there's nothing you want or need from him. Likewise, you know there is nothing he wants or needs from you. Not anymore. He has doctor what's-her-name.'

Bones felt Ange's words rip through her heart, and tear it to pieces, slashing her open at the solar plexes, cramping them. Bones covered her face with her palms, and sobbed, 'I love him.'

Ange smiled a fraction, but ached for her friend's agony, saying, 'I know, Sweetie but you're not prepared to risk it, are you?' Rubbing her arm tenderly.

Bones lifted her tortured face to her friend's, imploring her for advice, 'Tell me what to do, Ange. If I ask him to stay, he won't, can't. If I stay, he will still go. Even if I tell him I love him it will make no difference, he has a romantic partner now, and that was all down to me.'

'How so, sweetie?'

'Oh. Ange, I made a error of judgement, a huge one. He told me he loved me and wanted us. He proposed, I wasn't ready.' Ange snagged her head back in shock, not knowing about that.

Bones continued regardless of her friends shocked expression, 'But I said our partnership couldn't survive if we broke up, which would be inevitable. He wouldn't be able to keep work and us separate. I told him I cared for him but that we couldn't be romantically involved, that our work was paramount. I suggested we prove Sweets wrong, and date other people.'

Ange's brow furrowed, she realised there was so much more to this situation than she had envisaged or knew about. She stayed quiet though, and listened patiently, as Bones went on, 'It was only during that process when I saw him with her, how happy he became that I realised I was in love with him.' Bones stood, and walked aimlessly around the kitchen, fingering inert objects. 'I have always been in love with him, I understand that finally.' Ange watched her fumble around, having never seen her sweet friend so conflicted.

'You were right, Ange. I was scared, am scared, and now it's too late for us. And he could go and... die,' Bones whimpered, her shoulders trembled, and her hands gripped the counter top, as if to hold herself up. 'And I'd never have told him, oh, God, Ange, what have I done?' Bones spun, and leant her back against the counter, letting its solidness reassure her that she was supported.

'You've screwed up, let your head rule your heart, like you always do. You've lied to Andrew, all of your colleagues, worst of all Booth. You've pushed Booth away, time and again. You've taken from him, and refused for whatever reason, not to give back. Till finally he took the hints, and has made up his mind to go, and leave you to it. Lick his wounds elsewhere, with somebody else, and get over you.'

'Ange? That isn't advice?' she questioned, stunned by her friend's words. 'I thought you were my friend?' Bones stood in front of her now, her arms crossed over her stomach, as if to stop the bile from rising.

Ange tilted her head as if to placate, and reassure, giving her a little smile. 'I have been, and always will be your friend, Bren... But frankly, this rational, logical, holier than thou attitude, messing with people's deep feelings has got to stop. Or you're going to end up a sad, bitter twisted spinster, who has never known what it feels like to be truly loved. I can't help you, Bren. You can help yourself, if you're willing to put it all out there. It may work out... it might not... it might have been too long, or gone too far. But those are the risks. It's your call. What are you going to do?'

Bones snapped her mouth shut, and hung her head. 'I don't know. I need time.'

'Well, ok then. Go home, and think about it. You've got one day, that's all. He flies out from Fort Clement Air Force Base at six am, Thursday.'

Horrified, Bones clarified, 'Thursday?'

'Yes, Bren, Thursday. He's having tomorrow off to spend with Parker before he goes.' Bones visibly withered, and felt blindly for a chair for support. In her own pain, she had forgotten about how Parker must be feeling about his father leaving to go to war. Not to mention how Booth must be feeling about leaving him, and possibly never seeing him again. Her heart shrivelled instantly, forcing what liquid left within her, out of her tear ducts.

Ange was up instantly, seeing Bones almost collapse on the chair, the air in her lungs not enough to keep her limbs rigid. Scared she might fall, Ange gripped her friend around her waist, and aimed her to the chair. Bones whispered his name, 'Par-ker.'

'Bren, sweetie? You ok?' Ange asked, suddenly terrified her friend was going to pass out with her agony for her partner and son. Bones took a deep ragged breath, laid her head on the counter, on top of her folded arms.

'It's all my fault. If I'd told Booth, he wouldn't go and leave Parker, ever. Oooh, Ange.' Bones looked up to her friend, broken and clearly riddled with guilt and remorse. Ange felt her own tears trickle to her cheeks, and she nodded in agreement with her distraught friend. Bones turned her face away, hiding her eyes, unable to stand to see the truth and reality in Ange's eyes. Ange rubbed her back affectionately, kissing her head. Ange gave her a few moments to digest and think. Just as she was about to ask about this proposal, and what Sweets had to do with anything, Bones took a deep breath.

Then as if the wind had changed suddenly, from an easterly to a northerly blast, Bones sat up on the chair, then stood. She grabbed her purse, and started to leave. Ange looked at her, confused. Bones hugged her for a fraction on a second, whispering in her ear, 'Thanks.' She walked fast to the door, and left, leaving Ange stunned, and alone in the silent kitchen.

Special Agent Seeley Booth's apartment, 01.29 am. Wednesday.

Bones checked her Rolex, saw the time, and shook her head slightly, realising she did care how late it was, she had to speak to him. She rapped the door with the back of her knuckles. She took a deep breath, and let it go fast through pursed lips. Shaking her shoulders out in effort to relax her. There was no answer, so she rapped the door again.

This time she heard the chain being unhooked, and saw the handle turn. Her stomach flipped, and almost cramped with her anxiety. He pulled open the door, and held it wide. He looked stunned to see her, and not very happy either, she noted.


'Booth, can I come in? Or do you have company?' she said carefully. Booth shook his head briefly, dropping his eyes, and stepped aside to allow her in. Bones walked straight past him briskly into his lounge, and spun.

'Do you know what time it is, Bones?' he asked, standing in a hastily pulled on pair of stripy boxers.

Bones checked her Rolex again, 'Yes, it's one thirty one.' Booth grinned, and sat down on his couch, with a thump.

'I didn't want to know the time, I was being sarcastic.'

'Oh. Yes, sorry.' She felt stupid, but went on, 'May I?' She pointed to the couch, asking for permission to sit.

'Course, take a load off. Do you want a drink?' he said easily. Booth knew what this was about, and decided to play it cool and calm.

'No thank you, Booth.' Bones dropped her head, and fingered the zip on her purse. Booth took a look at her, as they sat in silence for a few moments. His brow furrowed curiously, seeing her lack of confidence, and he could see she had been crying previously.

'I'm having one,' he added quietly. 'I need one.' He walked to his drinks cabinet, and poured himself a scotch, looking over his shoulder to check she really didn't want one. She shook her head, confirming she didn't.

'You're going to Afghanistan,' she said softly. Booth stopped mid pour, and took a slow inhale.

'Yes. I ship out Thursday,' said flatly, without any emotion she could sense.

Bones asked again carefully, 'Why didn't you tell me?'

'No point.' He turned, with a shrug of his shoulder, and sat back down, taking a swig, and swallowed it. He grit his teeth as the amber liquid burned his throat on the way down. Bones watched him, with her heart pounding.

'It would have been a courtesy for you to tell me,' she said gently. Booth snapped his head to look at her incredulously.

'Really? Wow, I'm sorry...' he said sarcastically, then, 'Hey, Bones, guess what? I'm going to Afghanistan for six months, starts this Thursday. How's that?' He swigged the rest of his glass, and stood to pour himself another. Bones withered, and rubbed her brow, knowing she deserved that. He added, a little softer, 'Are you sure you don't want one?'

'Yes. No thank you,' said overly politely. Booth mused, it was if they were passing acquaintances now. That spark and wonderful banter they once fought to cherish was long gone, and a distant sweet memory.

He looked around to her, seeing her twitch on her bottom, then put her bag on the coffee table. He watched her, waiting. After a few moments, he said, 'Are you going anywhere anytime soon?'

Bones didn't even lift her head, but he saw her nod slowly. 'Some island in the pacific, isn't it?' Again he saw her nod, head down. He could sense her shame and guilt. He sighed heavily, and sat beside her, their knees almost touching. 'What have we done to each other?' he said so sadly. She felt her eyes burn, and leak again, although she didn't think she had anymore tears left to cry.

She knew they were close to the end of the line, hurtling towards a fork in the tracks. She tried to summon the courage to change the points, to put them back on the same rails at least.

Bones lifted her head up slowly, to look into him, as he was looking off across his subtly lit lounge, his eyes blank, staring at nothing. He swigged again, swallowed, and pushed the empty glass onto the coffee table.

'Why are you going?' she asked gently, sensing his mood was volatile.

'What, to Afghanistan?' She nodded, he saw her tears but didn't react to them. He buried the overwhelming compulsion to hold her, like he had done a million times before. If he did he would only be pushed away again, and his soul would never recover. He'd had enough of that agony and he was tired of it.

He gave his reasons casually, 'You're away for a year, Ange and Jack are off on their honeymoon extravaganza, the team is broken... up,' he added, after a brief moment, seeing her wither. Leaving out his main reason for going.

He still couldn't bear the thought of her hurting, and needed to make her feel better. Old habits die very hard, he mused. 'And they asked me to go, save a few lives hopefully.'

Bones had her head down, and nodded, mute again. He saw her tears drip onto her jeans, making darker spots on the blue material. It was then he noticed her sweater was on inside out. She had obviously changed in a damn hurry. His brow furrowed, suddenly realising this was no ordinary late night conversation of questions and answers. She was really in trouble emotionally.

Bones waited for him to add that she was the reason he was going. That she had pushed him away, but he didn't. She had a whole speech and declaration planned eloquently in her mind, with apologies and begging if required. She realised that ploy hadn't worked, so decided to try a different route into it.

Bones couldn't help herself, she asked knowing this was a dangerous path, 'What did Catherine say when you told her.' Booth bristled, leant forward for his glass, he got up quickly, and poured another healthy shot.

'She was...' he checked, and took a breath. 'That's between us, Bones,' he told her sternly. Bones felt her heart stop beating. She remembered when they used to have things between them, they didn't tell anyone else, not anymore obviously she thought painfully.

'Yes, of course, I apologise,' she managed to get out quickly from out of her tight throat. Booth thought to himself his reply must have stung because it twisted his heart, and he could barely breathe. He sipped some scotch for courage, and lubrication.

'No need. S'ok.' He knew he sounded too casual and unaffected but couldn't play this any other way. He'd built the walls to protect his heart, and wasn't going to let her breach them.

Bones tried again, hoping to find calmer waters.

'Andrew and I have decided to finish our relationship.'

He replied almost instantly, obviously the scotch was working, 'Shame, you seemed happy together.'

Booth knew his acting skills were hugely superior to hers, he had years of honing them. His stomach untied a few knots, and relief swarmed his body at her revelation. He had grown to hate Andrew for his smug smile around the office. His constant recounting around the water cooler where they had been on their dates. And how much fun they had, what fancy restaurants he took the famous beautiful doctor to. Andrew, Booth thought, had always thought of her as his finest conquest and trophy, and that embittered him.

He stood leaning on his chest of drawers, via his elbow, watching her.

Booth was dragged from that though by her soft tremulous voice. 'Do you want to know why?' she asked softly.

'No,' he said succinctly. Again Bones cringed, this wasn't going the way she had envisaged. She was hoping she didn't have to use her trump card, but she was left with no choice. He glanced in her direction, she was still crying silently. The patch of darker denim growing larger all the time on her thighs.

'Parker...' she said his name gently. Her final, last ditch gambit.

Booth snapped at her, 'Don't go there, Bones, ok? Just don't,' turning his back to her, glass clenched in his hand at shattering strength.

Bones knew she was out of options and her depth. She rolled her head in agony, then stood too. She picked up her purse, and walked to his side. She pecked his clenched cheek, holding her lips to his warm rough stubble for the briefest of moments. Booth gripped the glass tighter.

'Keep safe, Seeley,' she whispered, barely. Walking to his door, she left, clicking the door closed quietly. Booth swallowed the liquor down, forcing himself to swallow it, needing its numbing effects to take away his pain.

Fort Clement Air force Base, 05.45 am Thursday.

'Captain, Booth!?'


'You're wanted in my office. You got ten minutes.'


'Just go! Quick!' He ushered him away from the back of the transport plane, and pointed in the direction of his prefabricated office. Booth dumped his kit bag on one of his underlings, and ran back towards the temporary offices beside the aircraft hangers.

'Hey, Jimmy, somebody wants me?' he asked, as he trotted up the three steps towards the door.

'Yes, Captain, in here. Ten minutes.' He pointed over his shoulder, and past Booth going the other way, as he descended the steps. Booth grinned back at him intrigued. As he entered the room, there she was.

'Bones?' He stood stock still, his face fell seeing her. He didn't need this now, he had prepared for the separations, and said his goodbyes, of sorts. His shoulders sunk, and dropped his eyes from hers. Bones walked up to him, face to face, seeing his reluctance to speak but she had come prepared for that.

'Booth... Seeley, I couldn't let you leave without asking you something.'

'Look, I've gotta go, Bones. The plane is ready, they're waiting...' He gestured in its direction, but didn't take his eyes off her.

'I know, I've been granted ten minutes with you, before you leave.'

'Get on with it then,' he said too sharply, his heart tore open as the words left his lips, knowing he had just broken her heart too.

Bones took a painful breath in three gasps, finding it too difficult to get the air past her closing throat. She held it, hearing his harshness. She swallowed the pain, and ploughed on regardless, bearing it, 'Stay... stay, Booth... Don't go, don't leave me.'

Booth watched, as her eyes poured like a cracked pipe after the thaw. Then she rested her brow on his left shoulder, dripping profusely on his sand coloured battle fatigues, as she whimpered her watery plea. He rolled his head back, and closed his eyes, not daring to hold her, because he knew if he did, he would never be able to let go.

'Bones,' he said painfully, angrily, moved and touched by her implore.

'Stay. I'm not going to the island, I'm sending Daisy Wick instead.'

'I can't... I have to go,' he said firmly.

She nodded, knowing it was pointless to ask that of him, but she had to let him hear her say it. Then maybe he would understand.

'I know, I know, and it's killing me. I can't breathe-can't breathe-Hold me,' whimpering again like a terrified child. She nuzzled into his neck, holding him to her now, as he clenched his fists at his sides, fighting himself. He felt her tears trickle down his neck under his collar. She breathed him in, and down, down as deep as she could.

'No... I can't, Bones.'

'Pleeease hold me, do you want me to beg? Do you? I will.' He felt her start to drop down his body, to go onto her knees. His eyes poured too now, he grit his jaw, and hauled her back up, looking into her bleeding eyes. His hands on her forearms.

'There's no point, Bones. You don't need me, you're just scared I' won't be around to back you up.'

'Don't say that, I do need you, pleeease, Booth.' She gripped his arms too, shaking her head.

'What is this, Bones? What's going on?'

'I had to say goodbye, the other night didn't go how I planned. We parted badly.'

He agreed with, 'Yes.' Stepping back from her, needing the distance. He wiped his eyes quickly. 'Don't worry, Bones, you're gonna be ok,' he relented on his stance a little, but regrouped taking a calming breath. The walls going back up.

'No, I won't. I've screwed everything up, us up. I'm so sorry.'

'Oh. Ok, I see, I get it. This is about you and your feelings. Your conscience is finally pricking you, and you don't like the sensation, do you? I should have seen that.' He straightened his jacket, and wiped his neck of her tears. He added, like a priest would at confession, 'You're forgiven, Bones.'

Then his own conscience pricked him, he was being intolerably cruel now. He loathed himself for it, that last shot was unforgivable of him. Bones he noticed, never took her eyes off his, even when the knife slit her open all over again, she took it all.

Booth began to ease her the best way he knew how, but he couldn't help the pain in his voice though, 'Hey, look, Bones, I fell in love with the wrong person, that wasn't your fault. It was mine. You can walk away, conscience clear, and we have no hard feelings... I've got to go.' He turned, and reached for the door handle, his heart in tatters, scattered over the floor. He thought his feet wouldn't carry him the two hundred yards back to the plane, that he would have to crawl on his elbows, and bleed all the way to Helmand province.

'I love you,' she said bravely, lifting her chin as if waiting for the next stab to come from him. Not caring that his words were tearing her limb from limb, making her want to double up, and roll into a ball. His hurt clearly leeching through his voice, she realised, all put there by her.

Booth froze, then dropped his hand from the handle, and his eyes to his reflection in his glass polished boots. She had told him, had said the one thing she never could or believed in, to him. He knew it was real, true and honest, as Bones never did anything else but live by those virtues.

'I love you, I do, I have, I will always, completely,' she declared again, stepping towards his back. She continued, 'Andrew was my last ditch attempt of proving to myself I could live without you in my life. I can't.' Booth sagged his shoulders in relief.

His head lifted slightly, she noted. 'I know you can't stay, you have to go to do your duty. I wouldn't expect anything else from you, but I had to ask, so you knew I was willing to try.' She stepped closer cautiously, continuing with, 'I'm staying here. I'll be waiting for you to come back.' Booth took a deep breath, his heart's pieces slipping back together, like mercury pooling in a vial, mending slowly. While brick by brick his walls began to tumble.

'If... If you decide we have nothing worth fighting for anymore. Or if my inability to give you a child is an issue you cannot deal with...' She saw Booth shake his shaved head, and shuffle on his feet. She didn't know if the gesture meant that, that issue was a step too far or he didn't care about her infertility.

Booth never cared about that, he just wanted her, it was always her he'd wanted. In fact, he was devastated for her, not himself.

She went on, as time ticked by too quickly, 'Then, I'll accept your decision. If you don't love me, then we can go our separate ways.' Bones brow was resting between his scapulars now. Booth shifted on his feet again, feeling her touching him hesitantly, lightly. Hearing her voice trembling with emotion, her body too, nearly dissolved him. She didn't dare touch him with her hands, because she feared he would push them away.

He stood silent, facing away from her, looking at the plane readying to take him away. His eyes burned, and his throat closed over. He felt her brow lift from his back, and heard her feet shuffle backwards. It felt like she had taken away a part of him, the most vital part of him, ripped it from him, his soul. He knew he couldn't, shouldn't keep up the pretence anymore. The last ridiculous brick dropped, and he was laid bare, and open to her.

'Give me something to hold on to, Tempe,' he whispered gently, imploringly, sounding scared too.

Bones rolled her head in joy, relief, and terror. He was still leaving, yes, but he was giving her a life line of a future together, understanding he still loved her. He was also breaking her heart, hearing his frightened voice. She stepped forward, and turned him quickly. They locked eyes, her hands went to his cheeks, she looked at his lips, then back up to his deep brown watery eyes.

'Seeley, oh, Seeley, I love you, I love you.' She pecked his eyes, the end of his nose, then his lips. His arms surrounded her torso viciously, and gripped her as tight as he could muster. In the same instant they opened their lips, and touched tongues innocently at first, but loaded with passion.

Bones mouthed over his lips once, twice, then slipped her tongue past his lips proper, and swirled around his hungrily. Booth matched her pace and elegant rhythm, drowning in her sweet taste, infinite softness, and sensing her leaking her love for him, pouring it into him.

Their goodbye kiss was given and received with love, sending delicious shivers up their spines, luscious shock waves along sensitized flesh, and divine tremors through their long bones. Their bodies flush and yielding to the other, moulding them into one.

Bones felt his tears trickle over her cheeks, mixing with hers. Her hands clawing at his back, holding him to her like an essential organ she needed to survive the loss of him for so long. Booth wandered his hands over her, memorising her shape to his trembling fingertips and mind. Both of them knowing this could be their last ever kiss.

Years of irrelevant arguments, tender touches, warm hugs, sexy eye sambas, life saving heroism. Promises vowed and cemented. Lovers come and gone, emotional ups and downs, were relived, shared, remembered, in a few minutes of that powerful kiss.

Bones tried to convey everything she could in that kiss; not just her love for him, but to speak of her joy, her sorrow, her passion and pride for him. Apologies and pledges made, humility for his forgiveness, sharing his fears, calming him too. Living a lifetime with him in a few brief moments of connection.

The door behind Booth opened, the noise of the engines powering up, signalled his immanent departure. The acrid stench of aviation fuel flooded the bare lifeless room.

Bones whimpered, knowing it was time for him to go, but refused to leave from inside him. She didn't stop kissing him, in fact went deeper, harder, and started to sob in his mouth. Needing to finish their silent conversation and loving exchanges.

Booth gripped her upper arms, knowing it was time, he had to be the strong one now.

'Captain, Booth, you must come now,' the sergeant said sternly.

Booth pushed her away gently, she snapped back to him like on a bungee rope, and kissed him again, 'Noooo, not yet, not yet,' she mumbled into his mouth, pecking, and sucking at him. 'Love you, love you.'

Booth held her off him, looking into her terrified eyes. 'Listen to me, I love you too, I always have, never stopped loving you, don't you ever forget that, never, whatever happens, ok?' Bones gripped him close again, nodding on his neck, peppering him with sweet kisses, dripping tears copiously.

The thought they might never see one another again, left them stripped of the veneer of propriety. This was as raw and real as life gets between two souls. The agony and the ecstasy of separations and resolutions. Love holds many joys, aches and confusions, but they had found their truth, finally.

'Was that enough?' she asked, trembling in his arms, then clarified, 'For you to hold on to? Booth smiled hard, and wide, wiping her tears away gently.

'Tempe, my, Bones... A lifetime's worth,' he said sincerely. Bones understood he had read her mind, and their kiss. He'd given everything back tenfold. He planted a hard kiss on her lips, then snatched himself away, wrenching them apart suddenly. Bones gasped at his sudden action, and the sharp pain it caused. It felt like he was ripping off the band aid, fast and compassionately, so as not to prolong their agony anymore.

Booth trotted towards the plane. Bones walked to the steps, and slipped down, collapsing on them with a jolt, as she watched him run into the back of the plane, and disappear from sight.

She watched on, as the hydraulics lifted the tail up, and locked it in place. She scanned the windows for a last glimpse of her partner through bleary eyes, but it was not to be. The huge plane taxied along the runway, and took off under a deafening roar. It banked hard, and headed east into the crisp sunrise, taking her heart with it.

Author's Notes: Nope, not this time. Lebxeb.