Was It Goodbye?

Booth leaned back in his chair, the back squeaking in protest at the additional weight put upon the aging frame. He stretched his arms above his head and rotated his neck in a circle a couple of times. Leaning forward and bringing his hands up to his eyes he rubbed them gently trying to ease the dryness and eye strain. He sighed heavily and put the lid down on his laptop and turned on the small lamp on his desk. He glanced at the clock and saw the time. 12:00 A.M. in bright blue numbers. Great he thought, I get to get up and come back and do this all over again in about six hours. Deciding that it was time to call it a night, after all tomorrow, well today was another day. He wasn't getting anywhere on this case anyway. He reached into the pocket of his rumpled slacks and pulled out his key ring. Using a small silver key he opened the locked drawer at the bottom his desk, reaching in he pulled out a small black metal box. Taking an even smaller key he opened the box and pulled out the photo on top. Silently he gazed at her grey blue eyes staring back at him. Her auburn hair was mussed slightly by the breeze, but that didn't detract from anything. Her smile was wide and open and she seemed to emanate light.

"Ah Bones. There's my girl." He said quietly to the photo. "I've missed you. I'm sorry it's so late; this case is just really giving me fits. I've been trying to figure it out for weeks now, we have tons of evidence, a bunch of suspects and even a couple of confessions, but it's just not coming together." He leaned back in the chair again, putting his leg up on his knee as he held her photo out in front of him. "If you were here instead of the Boy Wonder the Jeffersonian has recently assigned as my liaison, we would have this thing sewed up by now. We'd be toasting each other on yet another successful case at the Founding Fathers by now." He smiled remembering all the times that they and the rest of the squints ended up at the bar, toasting each other and sharing time together. "I got to see Angela today, she's getting so big! You wouldn't recognize her I swear, I hope for her sake she's carrying a boy although I know she desperately wants a girl. Jack struts around like a peacock, he's nervous about being a father though, keeps asking me for tips." He chuckled, "I tell him, just wing it Man. That's all I knew about it too."

He stroked his finger down the side of her jaw, imagining how smooth her skin felt. He traced her lips, remembered how soft they were. How warm and gently she'd kissed him the few times that they'd actually gotten that far. "She told me that she was going crazy at the house, she tries to help out from there as much as she can, but her doctor was pretty adamant that she didn't do too much. I know that you'd tell her the same thing. Cam is doing well; the guy she's dating is pretty nice they're both so happy with each other it's a little nauseating really. Michelle and I have been making bets on when he pops the question. Oh, hey tell Pops I said hi and I love him." Booth put his leg down and turned the chair back to face the desk, he pulled out the St. Christopher medal that they'd returned to him when he had rejoined the department after her death. He held it tightly in his hand and said his nightly prayer. "We have our appointment with Sweets tomorrow Bones. They aren't getting any easier, even though he says they are supposed to. Gordon Gordon has even sat in on a few sessions here lately, I asked if it was official and he said he just wanted to get a feeling for where I'm at mentally." He snorted slightly with laughter, "My mental state? I'm talking to a picture, the same picture that I've talked to every night before I go home. I'd say my mental state is pretty shaky right now Bones. Sweets thinks that if I start dating again then I'll snap out of this. The thing is, I don't know what 'this' is. I'm not crazy Bones. I just miss you, I miss our partnership and I miss our talks and I miss how you smell and how you feel and I…I just miss you." He sighed again and then started to put the picture back in the box, he spoke softer now, "I have to go home now Bones, but I'll see you again tomorrow. Maybe you'll come see me tonight?" He put the photo in the box and curled the medal up on top of it. He closed the lid and locked it. Before he picked it up and put it into the bottom drawer, he caressed the top lightly, "I love you Bones." He locked the box up tight and turned off the light, grabbing his jacket from the coat rack, he closed and locked his door and headed home.

Booth pulled into the garage of the brand new home he'd just purchased and turned the engine off. Listening to it tick as it cooled he looked calmly around the large cavernous space. A year now that he'd lived here and there were still boxes everywhere. Most of them weren't his. Russ and Max had let him go through her apartment and take whatever he'd wanted to. It was very weird to think of all the things that made him think of her, and yet each time he'd tried to take them out to display them, they made his throat close up and his heart ached with her loss. He slid out of the FBI issued SUV and grabbing his brief case and suit jacket he entered the house. Walking into the laundry room he segued right into the kitchen and dropped his armload on the bar. Wonder what the refrigerator fairy has delivered for me? He thought. Opening the refrigerator door to a half rack of beer and a plethora of Thai food containers he said aloud, "Well, no fairy visit, but it looks like I may be able to stretch this last order of Thai out for another night." He pulled the containers out, dumping each of them onto a plate in one giant, messy pile. "Ahh…just the way I like it." He put it in the microwave, popped a beer open and unbuttoned his shirt and untied his tie. The microwave was dinging that it was finished while he toed off his shoes. He wiggled his toes and padded over to the microwave to get his dinner. Grabbing the hot plate and his beer he wandered over to the bar and opened up his briefcase, pulling out his laptop. Let's see if any of the facts have changed, he thought, pulling up the case file and starting at the beginning, trying to piece it together.

"Stop looking so hard Booth. The answer is right in front of you."

Booth looked up, the chopsticks halfway to his mouth, his mouth wide open in anticipation of the spicy noodles and looked around. He slowly put the chopsticks down and reached for his pistol, still nestled in his shoulder holster. "Who's there?" he asked, taking the safety off and slowly panning around the room. He saw no one. The dark blue corduroy curtains made the view from the outside looking in next to impossible; he slid off the stool and padded back to the laundry room. He opened the door and switched on the light to the garage, aside from the boxes and his car; there was nothing, and more importantly no one in there. Locking the garage door from the inside, he retreated back to the kitchen and finished checking out the lower level, before silently making his way upstairs. He checked every bedroom, closet and bathroom upstairs before putting the safety on and coming back downstairs to his rapidly cooling meal.

Shaking his head at the futility of his search, he picked up the chopsticks and woke the laptop up, setting his gun next to his plate, but in close proximity to his hand. He took another bite of his concoction and scrolled through a couple of case logs when he heard, "Well, I hope that you feel better now that you've menaced an empty house, perhaps now we can both get to work on this case of yours?"

"Okay that's it, no more left over Thai at one o'clock in the morning for me." Booth said aloud, all the while thinking, maybe I am crazy, I talk to photographs and I'm hearing voices. He dumped the rest of the plateful into the disposal and threw away the empty containers. He leaned back against the sink and upended his beer, "You're going to be up with heartburn drinking this late at night Booth, I've told you that at least a hundred times."

"Alright, that's it, who the hell is there?" He said putting the bottle down and grabbing his gun again.

His eyes grew wide and he stumbled back against the sink, "Bones?" he whispered as he saw her begin to take shape in the doorway. She looked the same way that she had the last time he'd seen her, tan shorts, a white tucked in blouse, white socks and dark brown hiking boots. Her hair pulled back into a loose pony tail, tiny tendrils drifting around her face. "Okay, there has to be a rational explanation for this…it's a dream, that's what it is, I'll be waking up soon and I'll be in my room and this is all happening because of this case! This damn case, as soon as I solve it then I'm taking a vacation. A real one, me and Parker…we'll go to Disneyland or something…I just need to wake up." He'd put the gun down on the corner, he may be dreaming and irrational but he knew a bullet would do nothing to an apparition. His hair was corkscrewed up because he'd been running his fingers through it while he spoke aloud and paced.

"Well, it's nice to know that you are still subject to delusion instead of being able to see what is right in front of you Booth, I guess I'll just wait until you 'wake up' before trying to speak rationally with you."

"Bones? If this isn't a dream, than I'm crazy or dead. Am I dead?"

"Did you die Booth? I remember when I died, so I would assume that you would have remembered dying at some point today as well. As for being crazy, I think that you are as sane as you have always been, maybe a little less prone to belief in the unknown than you used to be."

"Well, you look like Bones and you sound like Bones, and there is that whole duck thing."

"I don't know what that means."

"You know, if it looks like a duck and sounds like a duck, must be a duck."

"So, using your analogy, if I look like me and sound like me, I must be me?"

"Yes, exactly Bones."

She slowly made her way over to where he now stood pressed up against the stainless steel refrigerator; she put one hand on the side of his face and the other one on his chest and looked up at him, "I'm here Booth, for whatever reason, I'm here. Stop trying to give it an explanation and just accept it. I don't know how long of time we've been given, so let's make the best of it while it lasts okay?"

He leaned into her warm palm and his breath hitched at the feel of her hand on his chest, he reached out to pull her into his arms and his hands went right through her. It wasn't cold like people always said it was, instead, it was just…nothing. "Why can't I touch you?" he asked her.

"I don't know Booth, maybe it only works one way, I can touch you though." She said softly, stroking his slightly stubble covered jaw. She began to trace his lips with her finger and then pulled back to once again touch his face. She took his hand in hers and he could feel the skin contact, yet when he tried to squeeze her hand there was no resistance. He leaned down as she leaned up and they touched foreheads, he ached to kiss her and hold her, but he learned quickly and realized that she had to initiate the touch for her to be solid. He closed his eyes and just absorbed the nearness of her presence. "Oh Bones," he sighed, "What's happening to us?"

"I don't know Booth, but maybe it was what was supposed to happen all along." She replied softly, her words wrapping around him as her particular scent always did. Inhaling deeply, he pulled the sandalwood and vanilla combination deep into his lungs and said, "Okay, where do we start?"

PART II

She smiled back at him and although she wished she could erase the past two years from his memory and the sadness from his eyes, she knew such wishes were both fantasy and impractical to the situation. Whomever it was that was in charge was giving them this opportunity. Of all the people that would have been more suitable for this position, it certainly wasn't her. She hadn't believed in any of this otherworldly stuff until she'd died. How was it she was the best one to help? Taking his hand, she began to walk out of his kitchen, saying over her shoulder, "I think the best way to start is for you to get some sleep, you don't look well Booth. You go to sleep and we'll start in the morning. A few hours isn't going to change the outcome."

"Coming from you Bones that could almost be funny, you were always the one that was gung ho, forgoing sleep and food to finish the case. Angela and I both had to drag you away more than once." He giggled from sensory overload and sleep deprivation.

"I know that Booth, however when you have nothing but your memories and time you begin to see things from a different perspective. I've realized that it's better to work smarter not harder. I just learned a little slower." She tugged on his hand and they began to walk upstairs. Booth followed her like a child being led to bed. His eyelids drooped and each step was torture. He still wasn't convinced this wasn't a dream. I asked her to visit after all he thought, so I shouldn't be surprised that she actually did. However, the other side of his brain argued, you've asked her to visit you every night since you got back from Afghanistan and she never has before, so why now? Jumping into the mental fray he thought back at himself, because maybe I finally had to go completely to crazy town before I'd be able to have a hallucination?

"You aren't crazy Booth and you aren't dreaming either." She said softly as they reached the landing and she continued to lead him to his bedroom.

"You can hear my thoughts?" He asked her.

"Somewhat, I get more like…vibrations from them, I know this is difficult to fathom, believe me you aren't the only one having issues with it, but just know that I'm here for you for as long as I can be okay?"

"Okay Bones." He sighed heavily when they entered his bedroom. The large Mission style furniture dominated the room, but was softened by the comforter from Morocco that she'd had on her bed and the pillows that dotted the dressing chair. She recognized them from her India trip, in fact a lot of the things from her own bedroom were in here, interspersed with his bowling ball and hockey memorabilia, instead of looking out of place it looked like a compromise between lovers. She faltered slightly looking around; she'd been in his bedroom before, but not like this. She let go of his hand as he made his way to the bathroom, to change and get ready for bed. Glancing at the clock she saw that the alarm was set for 4:30 A.M, deciding to play devil's advocate as was apparently her prerogative as a guiding spirit, she manifested enough to turn it off. He needed the sleep. Hell, he needed at least two years of sleep in her opinion.

He shuffled out of the bathroom, more asleep than awake and fell onto the bed, too exhausted to pull the comforter out, so she did it for him, tucked him in as if he were Parker, or the baby that she would never have. She kissed his forehead softly and gently ran her fingers through the slight grey at his temple, which was new she thought. "Good night Booth." She whispered as she began to disappear to go wherever it was that she was when she wasn't supposed to be helping him.

His eyes opened immediately and he sat straight up in bed, "Don't go Bones, please. Stay with me tonight, I don't want this to end. I don't want to…lose you again, please baby stay." Seeing the fear in his eyes, the telltale sign of tears forming she felt her own grip on reality start to warp and said in her own whisper, "I'll stay Seeley, I'll stay." She climbed into the bed beside him, on top of the comforter and took him in her arms, solid to him now, he wrapped his arms around her and nestled his head on her chest, she felt the warmth of his exhalation on her and the tension draining from his broad shoulders. Tears leaked from his eyes as he cried silently, cursing the world that would make this happen to the two of them, she closed her own eyes and just held him. Held him the way she'd never held him before. Right before he succumbed completely to the sleep he mumbled, "How did you know where to find me Bones?"

She chuckled slightly, "I always know where you are Booth."

The sun was halfway up in the mid morning sky when he rolled over and stretched, feeling much more refreshed than four hours of sleep should warrant, he attributed it to the great dream he'd had. He blearily opened one eye and looked at the clock. It read a very strong 10:45 A.M. He opened his eyes wide and grabbed it, shaking it slightly he looked again, 10:45. "Shit!" He hollered as he jumped from the bed to the floor, looking around for his pants from the night before he had to find his phone. Normally he would have put it on to charge on his bureau, but the Thai dream had made that impossible. He ran to his bathroom and found the pants folded neatly and sitting on the counter by the sink. Pausing only briefly to consider that he scrambled for the phone and looked at the display, six missed calls and four voicemails. "Oh crap, I'm never going to hear the end of this." He said aloud as he began to listen to the voicemails that started out outraged and then edged to concern for his wellbeing from his director and from his good friend Dr. Saroyan. The last one said, "Call me back Seeley or I'm coming over there. I mean it." he looked and saw that the last call was made about 20 minutes ago. Dialing her back he hoped that he was making the call in enough time to prevent her from making the drive to his house.

"Seeley?" She answered on the first ring, "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Cam, I'm sorry, I overslept, my alarm didn't go off, I got home late…this damn case and then Bones was there and we talked and I fell asleep and just didn't get through the alarm, I'm on my way though, give me a half hour."

Cam listened to his voice, still thick with sleep and picked out the one thing that was completely out of the ordinary in his explanation, "Seeley, what did you mean Bones was there?" She was concerned for her friend, they all missed the antagonistic scientist with the golden heart, but the hurt was edging away, for him though it seemed like the hurt was just compounding. She had urged him to talk to someone, someone professional about his feelings, but he'd just smiled and hugged her and told her that he was going to be fine.

"I mean, I had a dream and she was in it and I guess…well, I don't know what I guess. I'll be there soon Cam, don't come and get me. I have to call Hacker and shower then I'm on my way."

Knowing that he was just as full of it as he always was when it came to the doctor she acquiesced anyway, "Okay Seeley, we'll see you soon, come and find me when you get here. I'll call Sweets for you too, apparently you missed your appointment with him, do you want me to reschedule it?"

Startled, he said more vehemently than was warranted, "NO! I mean, umm, no, I'll call him too, thanks Cam." He hung up the phone and leaned on the bathroom counter. He looked in the mirror at his reflection and thought about how he really needed to get a grip, things were falling apart and he wasn't the type to suffer fools. Or hallucinations, spirits, walking talking dreams. None of that was in his make up. Quickly dialing his boss, he apologized for not being in and told him he'd be there soon, Hacker gave him a break, Booth had dived right back into work after returning from the war and although they had all encouraged him to take some more time to come to grips with her death he'd passed the evaluation the FBI had required, so they couldn't make him take time. Hacker was just relieved that Booth was okay. The two men hung up and Booth turned the hot water on while he made his one other call, "Sweets? Yeah it's Booth, listen, I'm sorry I missed the appointment, I…well…I overslept, but…ahhh…I'll be in an hour or so, do you want to reschedule for today or just make it up next week?"

"Uh huh, well yeah…no, that's fine…okay, yeah five o'clock? Okay, yeah thanks. No, I'm fine…really…Sweets, don't push it. You're still twelve and I will snap you in half…okay. Yes." He hung up and set the phone back on the counter, pushing off his boxers he climbed into the shower. Stepping out a few minutes later, he hooked a towel off the rack and wrapped it around his waist, grabbing another one he quickly toweled his short hair off and then looked in the mirror. Wiping the steam off, he brushed his teeth and shaved as quick as he could without cutting himself in the process. Walking out of the shower to his room and his oversized closet, he dropped the towel and heard, "Whoah Booth, I was not prepared for that!"

Freezing and turning around, he looked towards his bed where she was sitting primly on the edge, her hand over her eyes. "Would you like me to wait for you downstairs? Yes, I think I should actually." She said as she stood up and phased out.

"Bones?" He asked quietly, reaching down to pick up the recently discarded towel.

She phased back in, "Yes?" Her hand still covered her eyes.

"It wasn't a dream, I'm awake, I know I'm awake I can still feel the razor nick on my cheek so I know I'm awake and I just talked to Cam, Hacker and Sweets so I'm at least pretty sure I'm awake, I mean I am awake right?" he paused, holding the towel up, his broad chest and pecs, long muscular legs all offsetting the small towel. "Either that or I'm crazy. Okay, so I'm crazy…I can handle that, I just need to…" he trailed off as he wondered how it was he was going to pretend to not be crazy while among his friends and colleagues.

She smiled at his confusion; he was so much like Parker at this moment, a little boy lost. "Okay Booth, we'll do this again, you aren't crazy. You are also not asleep. This is not a dream. This is not a Thai food flashback. I'm here. I'm here to help you." She walked towards him, her hands outstretched, "I'm really here Booth." She stopped just short of walking through him, where he'd backed up against the wall as she come closer, materializing enough to touch him she put her hand on his shoulder, warm still from the shower and said, "See, I'm here Booth. Right here."

Booth dropped the towel and reached out to touch her, once again his hands plunging through her shoulders, he looked down and it appeared the disrupting her shape caused the air to ripple and it looked like she was a see thru water color, she followed his eyes down and saw that the towel had dropped and he was responding to her nearness. She backed away and put her hand back over her eyes, "Uh Booth…the towel?"

He glanced down and groaned in embarrassment, before thinking, great now I'm sporting wood over a ghost. Could I please sink any lower?

She had her back to him, her shoulders shaking with laughter, "I've missed you Booth, you always make me laugh, I'm flattered really you don't need to be embarrassed, but you do need to get dressed, so I'll meet you downstairs." She began to phase out and then came back, "Oh, by the way, would you wear the grey suit with the purple vest? I always liked that."

When she was gone, Booth stood and stared at where she had been for a full minute before walking over to where she was and waving his hand in the air. He blinked a couple of times and shook his head, "This is not right. I'm definitely not having Thai food again." He turned and went into his closet, grabbing his dark navy Armani from the closet rod before pausing and hanging it back up for the grey Ralph Lauren. He chose the lilac colored shirt and a grey and purple paisley tie and then went into the bedroom to get dressed. Once he was dressed, his green and orange striped socks on, not everything had to match after all, he emptied the pants he was wearing yesterday and tucked his badge, poker chip and wallet into his pants, and headed downstairs, his phone in his hand.

He cautiously stepped off the bottom step and turned to the kitchen. He didn't see her in the main room and entering the kitchen he didn't see her perched on any stools or at the kitchen table. He poured a cup of coffee from the automatic dispenser and put it in the microwave to heat back up, it had long since been made and cooled down as he was about 4 hours past the normal wake up time. Looking into the refrigerator he thought about breakfast and decided that he was just as close to lunch, so coffee would do.

"You should eat something Booth, an apple or something. Breakfast is really the most important meal of the day, it not only stimulates the blood flow which increases mental acuity but makes you feel more enriched and ready to take on the day."

He spun around and she was standing in the doorway watching him. I'm getting nutrition tips from a ghost, he thought. Grabbing an apple just to make her happy, he pulled the coffee from the microwave and immediately took a sip, regretting it instantly as the hot liquid burned off the top layer of taste buds on his tongue.

"Crap that's howt," he thaid his tongue burned, "Dammit Bones why didn't you thtop me?"

"I'm here to help you with the case Booth, not hold your hand and babysit you; don't you know that liquid from a microwave is extremely hot? You see, a microwave heats from the inside out which is why you should always let something sit before eating or drinking it immediately."

He just stared at her his mind trying to wrap itself around the idea that he wasn't crazy, she really was standing in his kitchen and lecturing him on how a microwave worked. Shaking his head, he took a bite of the apple to soothe his burnt tongue. "So how is this going to work Bones? I mean, do you need to ride with me, or…can you like…just appear wherever I am or…"

She smiled at him and walked over to where he was standing blowing on the coffee and holding his apple out as a barricade between them. She reached for his tie and straightened it slightly, "I'm always with you, I don't need a 'ride' in the traditional sense, although I can sit beside you if it makes you feel better. I don't know how this works any better than you do Booth. I don't know if anyone else can see me, I've only appeared to you. Although, that first time a little girl saw me and her mom didn't so maybe I can appear to you and to children?"

Or the mentally disabled and children he thought.

She thought back at him, you aren't mentally disabled so knock it off. Listening to your thoughts takes a lot of energy from me so stop it. For the last time you aren't crazy!

His eyes widened as he stared into her eyes and heard her in his head without her mouth moving. "I'm sorry Bones," He said, "I won't do that again." She'd begun to fade as soon as he'd heard her voice in his head and by the time she was done talking, she was completely gone. She flickered slightly when she replied, "It's okay, you'll be able to see me again by the time we get to your office…I think."

He ate the rest of his apple in three bites and tossed the core into the compactor by the door of the laundry room as he made his way to the garage. Holding the door for an extra couple of seconds, he wasn't sure if she needed it open or not. He dutifully opened the passenger door to the SUV and gave her what he thought was sufficient time to get in. Going around to the driver side, he realized he'd left his holster and gun on the bar, "I'll be right back Bones, gotta get my gun." He trotted back into the house amid a cloud of increased sandalwood and vanilla. It soothed him to smell her, even if he couldn't see her.

PART III

Booth grabbed his gun and headed back to the garage, he couldn't see Bones sitting in the car, but when he got in and shut the door he could smell her perfume again. "Okay, I'm ready. I mean, I think I'm ready, let's go."

He pulled out of the drive way and headed to work, his commute had extended to another 35 minutes due to his recent move, he often used it to go over the audio tapes of whatever case he was currently working on. Today however he turned on the radio and allowed the classic rock station to fill the cab. Tapping his fingers aimlessly, he tried hard to avoid looking over at her empty seat and was wondering if she was there. "I know you can't talk to me right now while you…recharge? I have a lot of questions to ask…I mean, was there like…a light? Did it …hurt? How did you know you could come back?" He stopped and took a deep breath and then mumbled to himself, "Don't bring up anything painful Booth you idiot."

He heard a faint laugh followed by an even fainter sigh. Suddenly there was a slight pressure on his forearm and he felt the warmth of her hand. He smiled at her empty seat and put his other hand on top of hers, "I'll let you come back and then we can talk." The two of them continued to the Hoover in relative silence until just before the turn for the Hoover building came up and the opening chords to a familiar song began to play. Quickly reaching over, he snapped it off and lightly cleared his throat before the radio knob turned sharply and the song played again. While he parked they listened to the Foreigner song and for his part, he tried not to show how much it hurt to hear that song.

Exiting the car in the parking garage he walked around to the passenger side when she appeared suddenly outside the car, almost too quiet to hear in the large space she said, "You don't have to do that Booth, besides, I think people may not understand when you hold doors open for me." He smiled at her, she was right; it would appear like he was holding open doors for…no one. "Okay Bones, you just appear and I'll make sure I don't jump out of my shorts every time."

"Why would you jump out of your shorts? You know when I'm going to appear, I increase my pheromone production and it makes my scent appear more intense than it really is. Each time that I've done it, right before I 'appear', your eyes dilate slightly and you inhale deeper. So it's really no surprise to you when I appear, really."

"Wow, you've been dead two years and you still have some of the most insane arguments for rationality I've ever heard."

Smiling Bones followed along behind him while they walked to his office. She was reveling in the memories of this place, it wasn't the lab, but she'd spent a lot of time here. She recognized faces here and there, their names weren't coming to her even though they'd been introduced, she knew now that she should have made a better attempt to connect to some of the people in her day to day interaction, but hindsight being what it was, the lesson was too little too late.

All too soon they were ensconced in Booth's office. The door shut so that people wouldn't think that he was talking to himself. Well, anymore than usual. Bones looked around his office, there were some minor changes, a couple of her favorite artifacts were on display and in the corner of his office there was a large glass case, complete with mummy. "My mummy!" She exclaimed, wandering over to look at it.

"Yeah, it was weird; I missed seeing it for some reason, so I asked the Jeffersonian if I could borrow it shortly after I restarted. I…well…I…never mind."

"You what?" She asked, turning to look at him sitting behind his desk.

"I talk to it sometimes." He held up his hand to stop whatever protest she may mount, "I don't know why, it's just comforting."

"It's okay to see comfort Booth, anthropologically speaking most people find that seeking to soothe themselves and their environment, search for comfort wherever they can find it, with other people in the same social situations, such as a bar, or by over indulging in a particular food, in your case, you find comfort talking to a replica of an ancient Inca mummy." She turned to look at another of her favorite artifacts, "I get that."

"You 'get' that? You've learned slang now?"

"Well, I do talk to other people besides the living you know. There are new people arriving daily and I find that discourse is often varied and informative."

Booth watched her glide around the room, looking at the things that he'd brought over from her office to his, the things that made him think of her more than others. She stopped when she came behind him and found a picture of the two of them on his desk. He was wearing a tux and she a beautiful dress, they were looking at each other and smiling, he holding a champagne flute. She tapped it and sat on the edge of his desk, "When was this taken? I don't recall photos of the two of us being all that prevalent."

He picked up the 5x7 frame and held it gently in his hand. "Angela made this for me, this is two pictures merged together, it's from the Anok party. Do you remember that?" She watched his face and the emotion that drifted across it. "There were a couple of still shots of the two of us that were used in publicity pictures for the Jeffersonian magazine, I asked Angela to merge these two together so that it would appear that we were. Together I mean."

"Oh Booth," She sighed, "I'm so sorry about everything that happened, so very sorry. There are a lot of things that I didn't believe in, and regret serves no real purpose, decisions were made and consequences have been accepted, but I find now that I regret not telling you how I felt and I wish more than anything that I could take all those times back." She put her hand on his shoulder, growing solid now and he felt the warmth of her palm, looking at her, he put the picture down and placed his hand over hers, rasping his thumb lightly over her smooth skin. "I'm sorry too Bones."

They sat for a minute, just looking at each other when she smiled and removed her hand, "Okay, well since I don't know how much time I have, let's get to work shall we?"

"Do you want me to pull up a chair?" he asked, sliding out of his suit jacket and hanging it on the rear of his seat.

"I'll just hover, thanks." She grinned at him as he rolled his eyes.

Booth logged onto his laptop and pulled the case file up, he opened up the manila folder holding all of the other information regarding the case he was stumped on, and then the x-rays of the victim.

"So give me the basics, what happened, to whom, etc." She said, pushing her hair out of her face slightly.

Booth grabbed the case file from his desk, flipping through the multiple notes, "Bottom line, Alexander Daly was found dead in his office, blunt force trauma to the head, it was a stone lamp, he was killed on a Friday night, discovered Monday morning by his assistant."

"Who are your suspects?"

"We have three, the first and the one with the most motive and the one that everything points to is his wife, Anya. The second is the woman he was having an affair with, Willow Birkle, and the third was his assistant Dawn…uh…Dawn Summers."

"Why do you not think it is his wife Booth?" she asked, leaning over his shoulder to look at the information that he had scattered on his desk.

"Because it's too perfect, everything and I mean everything points to her. It's just too…neat too perfect."

Even after all of this time, she knew when he had more to say, so she just let him sit quietly for a moment while he bounced things around inside his own mind. She could 'read' everything he was thinking, but didn't want to risk losing any energy, so just let him work through it.

"It's just too perfect." He said again, looking back and forth between the suspects.

"You said you had a couple of confessions? Who were they from?"

"Ho Ho," He laughed, "Number one was from the janitor, he's confessed to three murders and a burglary and he is also the second gunman. We've dismissed him as harmless, however pursuant to regulations, he's been spending time in a tax payer all expense paid vacation home until we get this straightened out."

"I don't know what that means."

"He's in county lockup Bones; he's got three hots and a cot until we can disprove his confession. He's harmless. The other confession was for an entirely different crime that happened the same weekend and those two have been arrested on destruction of private property. Apparently Xerox machines are not conducive to sex."

She smiled and then laughed slightly, "I wouldn't imagine that they would be." She turned back to the papers on his desk, "So, speaking of sex, how have you been lately?"

"Are you asking me about my sex life Bones?" he sat straight up and looked over at where she was sitting, mostly translucent. "Why would you ask me that? What is it with you and my sex life?"

"I wasn't asking to be nosy Booth; I'm just concerned about you. I told you that I've been watching you, not every minute obviously, but I have watched you begin to decline both emotionally and socially. I just don't want you to keep punishing yourself, you should experience your life and not dwell on the past. I believe that animated monkey on that Disney film said it best, 'It doesn't matter. It's in the past.'"

"It still hurts Bones."

"Oh yes, the past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it, or... learn from it. You have to start taking the steps necessary to regain your footing in the world Booth, you are too important of a man to stay hidden in the shadows. You are a man who lives wide and you need to be that man again."

Booth listened to what she was saying but he didn't want to hear about how he had to move on, he'd already heard this for the past two years. From everyone, Jared, Cam, Sweets, even Angela had tried to set him up with an artist friend of hers. He just wasn't ready. When he was ready to stop loving her and let go, then he would.

PART IV

The two of them spent a couple of hours going over the case files, as much as they could with her obvious limitations and he was still somewhat reluctant to admit that he was getting help on this from a ghost. He was pacing and tossing his football in his hands when she heard his stomach rumble.

"Booth, you should really get something to eat, you're going to experience a decrease in your blood sugar which will make you more susceptible to irrational decisions and conjecture."

I didn't miss that, he thought and then quickly glanced up and caught her smile. "I'll be back Bones, I'm just going to get something out of the vending machine."

"Booth you need something more than a bag of Cheeto's and a soda. I'll look this stuff over while you get some proper nutrition and maybe I'll be able to see something that you missed okay?"

Booth started to protest and she held up her hand, "I don't want to hear your argument Booth, I'm here to help, if you get cranky because you're suffering from malnourishment and subpar sustenance than I'm not going to be much help because I will leave as I find you to be annoying when you are whiny like that."

He paused for a second while putting on his jacket, "You think I'm annoying?"

Realizing that he would take what she said completely out of context she materialized in front of him and said, "I don't find you annoying Seeley, I find your behavior annoying, I find that behavior annoying in anyone, myself included. It's nothing to take personally, I'm sure I have one or two things that you find annoying as well."

"Not the least of which that you are a ghost, you are haunting me and you are never coming back, aside from that the other things that annoy me about you are pretty trivial in the grand scheme of things." Booth stormed out of the office and down the hall to the elevator. He would go to the in-house cafeteria and get something with 'sustenance' to appease her majesty. Fuming because he allowed a ghost to push his buttons and thinking about the case itself he didn't notice that he was muttering to himself and people were staring. He looked up to see that he was in the cafeteria and he wasn't alone. Realizing too late that he'd been having his monologue outside his head he just waved his hand to acknowledge that they had seen what they had seen and stood in line to get a sandwich.

Once he got his food he was calmed down enough to go back upstairs and continue working this case. He entered his office, juggling the sandwich, chips and soda and felt…alone. "Bones? You still here?"

He put his stuff down on his desk and stood still, her scent intensified and this time, he closed his eyes and inhaled, allowing her to fill him completely he breathed, "There you are." He had a soft smile on his face when he opened his eyes and looked where he thought she would be, startled he stepped towards her and practically through her when he saw the tears on her cheeks. "Bones? What happened, why are you crying?"

"I'm sorry I annoyed you Booth. I'm sorry about all those times I corrected you and flaunted my obviously superior intellect. I shouldn't have done that. I'm also sorry that soon I won't be able to annoy you anymore. I find that I'm not happy with the turn of events. However irrational that may be."

She shook slightly with sorrow, Booth ached to hold her, he made another move towards here and she sniffled, "You know that doesn't work Booth."

"Well, then you touch me and I can hug you, a guy hug if you want." He smiled slightly.

Her mouth lifted at the corners as she looked up into his deep brown eyes, filled with love and remorse and concern, she stepped into his arms. From the outside of his office, it appeared as though he was hugging himself, from inside the office neither of them cared what it appeared like, they just felt the moment.

Brennan stepped out of the hug and wiped her eyes, "Eat your dinner; I have some questions for you." Booth recognized when she was protecting herself and did as she said, sitting behind his desk and propping his feet up on it, he dug into his sandwich. "So what's your questions?"

"What is the wife's' motives for murder?"

"You mean aside from the obvious?" he responded.

She raised her eyebrow and nodded at him, he sighed and grabbed the file, "From the top…okay here it is…she found out he was having an affair, she found out that he had an appointment with his lawyer; to change the will most likely and there was no pre-nup. So most likely she wouldn't have gotten anything from a divorce, but if she killed him before his meeting than she would get everything."

"What is her alibi?"

"She said she went home and went to sleep, said she had a headache, took an Advil PM and passed right out, didn't wake up until mid morning on Saturday and realized that he hadn't come home from work, so she called his assistant who told her that he had left the office as usual."

"Why didn't she report him missing?"

"Because he wasn't missing for 24 hours yet, and officially she couldn't file a missing person's complaint, also because she assumed that he was with his 'mistress' and she wasn't ready to face it yet."

Brennan absorbed what he was saying, "It does seem like everything points to her, doesn't it? What about the other two suspects? What are their alibis?"

"Well, here is where it gets tricky; apparently Willow and Dawn were also having affairs, with each other. They were both at a showing of Giselle at the Cheshire House for the Performing Arts. The ticket stubs are in here somewhere." He put his feet down and shuffled through the things in the file, and pointed to an evidence bag with two ticket stubs in it.

She pushed the tickets apart inside the bag and looked at each of them separately and then side by side. "How are these lock solid alibis?" she mused aloud.

"Well because given the time of death, the ballet would have been only half way over. They were both seen and recognized by over 50 other people attending the show, as well."

She sat on the edge of the desk and said, "I think you are right, someone is trying to hard to implicate the wife, she's upset, she goes to sleep, and her husband is murdered. She has motive and ability. However, what are the motives of the other two?"

He shuffled through some more paperwork, "Well, I'm not convinced it's a perfect motive, but if he was truly going to change his will then the girlfriend may have gotten everything and the wife nothing, so that the girlfriend and her girlfriend could have lived happily ever after."

"What would the assistant have gotten out of it?" She asked, still plucking at the edge of the bag holding the two tickets.

"Well, she would have been next in line to get his job most likely, I mean she would have been the most qualified, but not sure if that's motive enough, she said that she wasn't really interested in being the boss. Of course, who wouldn't want to advance if they could?"

"You don't appear to want to advance higher than a Special Agent. What is your excuse?"

Booth stood up quickly and said quietly, his fists balled on the edge of the desk as he leaned over her, "What?"

"Don't get upset with me Booth, I know that you were given the opportunity to take Andrew's job when he moved to the New York and you didn't go through with the interview. Why Seeley? It would have meant that you would have gotten more money, there would have been less chance of you being injured in the field, and you would have had more time with Parker with better hours. Why would you not want that?"

"All of those things are true Bones, however, I would have also not been in constant contact with Hodgins, Cam, Angela and the rest of the squints, and I would have been cooped up in an office all day and wouldn't be…"

"Needed?" She said softly.

"Yeah, needed, I wouldn't have been needed Bones. Right now that is what is keeping me going, being needed. I need to see our friends and I need to be an agent not the boss."

"I understand Booth, you feel that if you stay where you are comfortable than you won't have to be alone in an unfamiliar environment, plus it lets you hold on to the idea of…me."

"What?"

Patiently she began to explain, "If you stay where you are at right now, than you never have to let go of me and I think that is what scares you more than anything. You are afraid that you will lose me or start to forget me if you are constantly in the Jeffersonian or working an active case." She paused and put her hand on his fist, squeezing gently she said, "None of those things will happen Booth and deep down inside you know that. You are the one that taught me that the universe holds on to a little bit of everyone, that's why you encouraged me to 'talk' to my mom and to speak over Ripley's grave. That's why you always ask me to say hello to Pops and to tell him you love him, it's why you pray that I'm safe every night when you look at my picture." She stopped at the sheen of tears in his eyes, but plunged ahead, "I'm here to tell you something Booth, I know that, you know that, and I think I know what it is. Let me go Booth. You have my things, you are surrounded by material things that always made me smile, you sleep under my comforter and you have my pillows in your bedroom, you are surrounded by me and you need to let me go. You need to begin to forge a life without me in it. These things," she swept the room with her hand, "These things are just that, just things. You can't let me go, until you let me go. If you want to remember me, go to my grave and remember me, like you do with Hank or even my mom, I know you've been there too. You don't need to have all these things around you to remember me, you don't need to go to the Jeffersonian every day to remember me, or interact in a working relationship with Jack or Cam or Angela to remember me. All you have to do is close your eyes and there I am."

She knew that she was never the heart person in their relationship, but she had learned a lot in the time that she'd been gone. She knew that was what he was doing, he was holding himself back so that he didn't have to go forward and essentially leave her behind. "Don't allow me be the reason you choose not to succeed Booth. That's not fair to either of us."

Booth listened to her silently, his emotions breaking through his usual stoic façade. He knew that what she was saying was true; he could remember a million little memories of the two of them, at Arlington the few times they were there, at every crime scene, every time one of them got wounded. He also knew that he would be perfectly capable of doing the Deputy Director job every bit as well as he did his current job. She was once again, correct. However, he didn't want to hear it.

"Hey listen Bones, you may have had plenty of time to practice psychology on your cloud, but why not leave it to the professionals? Speaking of which, I have an appointment with Sweets in about 10 minutes so if you don't mind, I think I'll head to his office." Booth grabbed his jacket and shrugged it on, making his way to the door, throwing away his trash as he went, "We can work on this when I get back, and you just go…wherever it is you go when you aren't here."

He wiped his eyes and grabbed the door handle and then stopped briefly when he heard, "You mean we have an appointment with Sweets." He turned in time to see her dematerialize and he felt her move past him, towards Dr. Lance Sweets' zone of truth. He rolled his eyes and said quietly, "Why do I think this is a very big mistake?"

PART V

"You're not going in there."

"I am."

"You're not."

"Who is going to stop me?"

"I am." He reached for her and she faded away.

"Good luck." Her disembodied voice floated around the elevator.

Booth sighed and leaned against the inside of the elevator, Sweets office had been moved downstairs, "So you speak slang and you have developed a sick sense of humor since you crossed over Bones. Nice."

"Why do people say 'crossed over' or 'passed on'? I didn't 'go' anywhere, I died and then the next thing my conscious mind was aware of was that I was conscious. I saw you get the call from Hacker, I saw you get the letter from your superior, I saw you get off the plane at Dulles and I saw you waiting for me on the bench. I didn't go through a veil or across a bridge, I closed my eyes against the impact and when I opened them, I was watching you. I really don't understand why people assume there is a 'transition'."

"So no bright light, no flash, no harps or angels?" Booth asked standing up and straightening his tie as the elevator came to a stop.

"Not where I am at, perhaps I'm not in 'heaven', maybe instead I've gone to hell.?" She mused as the doors opened. Booth quickly pushed the button to close the doors and hold the floor. "What?" He asked somewhat angrily, "Why would you assume you were in hell?"

"Because I can see you, and my dad and Angela and all the people that I love, and all the places that I love at any time, I simply think of them and open my eyes, there they are…"

"How is that hell?" He interrupted.

"I can't touch you, I can't kiss you or smell you or hold you when you cry, I can't feel the baby in Angela's stomach kicking; I can't smell freshly mown grass or the smell of a library, so it must be hell."

"I'm sorry Bones. So very sorry." He said stepping towards her which in turn removed his finger from the button on the panel, causing the doors to slide open.

"Finally." The agent on the other side of the doors seethed as the doors opened and revealed Special Agent Seeley Booth alone in the elevator.

"It's okay Booth, let's go see Sweets'" She said inside his head as he turned sharply towards the agent getting in the cab. Raising his hands in aggravation he followed her scent out of the elevator and then to Sweets office.

"Sorry I'm late Sweets, I got held up in the elevator." Booth said clapping his hands and settling into the familiar couch across from where Sweets sat, his leg over his knee, clipboard resting, arms crossed.

"Quite alright Agent Booth." Sweets had grown up a lot in the past two years, the woman that he thought he was going to marry perished with another woman that he admired and looked up to. He missed Daisy and probably always would, but he had made the necessary steps to move on with his life. His concern, and the FBI's as well were whether Booth was able to do that. "I think we will pick up where we left off from our last meeting," He looked down at his clipboard, "I believe I challenged you to engage in a new social behavior. How did that go?" He looked up and saw that Booth was positively vibrating with nervous energy, he had crossed and uncrossed his legs and was currently drumming his fingers on his upper legs. "Something you want to tell me Agent Booth?"

Booth was watching Bones as she wandered about the room, when she passed in front of the large window she was mostly translucent, the late evening sun shone around her like a golden aura. The solidified slightly as she stopped to look at the published works of Dr. Lance Sweets, nestled against all of the novels that she herself had had published. She stroked the spine of the book he had finally published about her and him. "Booth!" Sweets voice drew Booth's attention to him.

"I'm sorry Sweets, what did you say?"

"You seem distracted Agent Booth."

"Distracted? I'm not distracted, why would you say I'm distracted?"

Aside from the fact that you just said distracted three times in the same sentence? Lance thought to himself. He didn't hear the snort of laughter from Bones, but Seeley did. He looked up sharply where she was standing behind Dr. Sweets, her arms crossed across her chest. She had a wide grin on her face and her eyes were alight with mischief.

"I'm sorry Agent Booth, it must be my imagination," He cleared his throat, "As I was saying, you were going to take on a social engagement, were you successful?"

"I went to a baseball game." He glanced at Sweets and then quickly away.

"Whom did you attend the game with Agent Booth? Was it a date? Or, did you attend with Jack?"

Jack and Booth had become quite close since the plane crash and Jack often pulled him into the world to experience it. "Uh no," He stopped, mesmerized by her profile as she looked out the window again, "Ahem…Agent Booth?"

"Uh no, I had a date." He smiled slightly and then blushed when Bones looked over at him quizzically, her eyebrow rose.

"A date? Really? That's great Agent Booth, what's her name? Will you see her again do you think?"

Squirming in his seat, he switched legs over his knee and put his arm across the back of the sofa, "Yeah, I'm sure I'll see her again."

"What's her name Agent Booth?" This was coming way too easy after Booth had been so reticent to delve back into dating, he smelled a rat.

"Hmmm? Oh, her name…uh…it was Rebeca…" He mumbled.

"I'm sorry, I didn't quite hear you, it sounded to me like you said Rebecca? Rebecca as in your ex girlfriend, mother of your son Parker, that Rebecca?"

"Yes, it was Rebecca."

"Was it Parker's baseball game Agent Booth?" Sweets sighed the question out, that didn't constitute a date and Booth knew it.

"Why? It was a social function, I was with a woman. How is that not a date?"

"A date is you and a partner, in a social situation where you are not watching either your children or hers, and you aren't already involved with her. I intended for you to meet a new person to spend some time with. You are a very social person Agent Booth and over the past two years you have been withdrawing into yourself more and more."

Booth drilled Sweets with his piercing gaze, "I had a partner Sweets, and she died. She died without leaving behind a child, mine or anyone else's. I'm not interested in finding a partner; to date or for any other reason." He resumed watching Bones wander around the room, wishing desperately that this meeting was over and he was back in his office, alone with her.

Sweets could see that he had pushed the button one time to many, and Booth was going to begin the shut down phase of these meetings if he didn't try another tactic. "I apologize Agent Booth, I didn't mean to infer that you should find a 'partner', I was merely trying to get you to realize that you need to have personal interaction in your life in order to live."

"I'm living Sweets, I'm right here, breathing and alive in your office. How much more alive can I be?"

"Stop it Booth, listen to him, you need to find someone."

"Don't do that Bones, you know it takes a lot out of you." Booth whispered out of the corner of his mouth. She flashed him a grin and sat down next to him. He followed her and instinctively sat closer to her. Sweets watched him with curiosity.

Booth had all of his attention focused on his partner, sitting next to him, he imagined that he was twirling her hair between his fingers and she closed her eyes slightly imagining what it would feel like if he really was. He could almost feel the silky strands sliding gently and smoothly between his fingers. Sweets watched him staring at the corner of the couch, twirling his fingers aimlessly on the back of the couch. He glanced over at Sweets when he shifted and then sat upright and pulled his hand back down to his lap.

"Who were you talking to Agent Booth?" Sweets asked with evident concern.

"I wasn't talking to anyone Dr. Sweets, besides you that is."

"Okay. It seemed as though you may have been talking to Dr. Brennan." He paused, "You aren't seeing things are Agent Booth? No headaches or anything?"

"My tumor isn't back Sweets," Booth said sarcastically, "I wasn't talking to Bones and I'm not seeing things." He glanced over at Brennan who was slowly unbuttoning her shirt after having pulled her hair out of her pony tail, she was down three buttons and Booth licked his bottom lip staring at her. She said out loud, "You are watching a ghost strip tease you Booth, I think you have problems, and you should really turn your eyes back to Dr. Sweets right now."

Booth slowly drew his eyes back to where Dr. Sweets was looking at him, eyebrow raised, "Agent Booth, I believe I'm going to recommend that you take a sabbatical from your job, I know that you feel like you are maintaining pretty well right now and for all intents and purposes you are doing your job well, however you didn't take any time off when you returned and recent setbacks aside, I'm concerned that you may have come back too soon. I'm going to recommend that when this case is solved, you take mandatory time off."

"Sweets, I appreciate what you are trying to do and say, I really do, but I'm not taking any time off and if you think you can force me to, I will take my gun out and shoot you." He sat back in the couch, "Now, if you don't mind, can we please get back to the point here?"

"Booth? We need to go look at the evidence, I think I noticed something." Brennan said suddenly, all buttoned back up; she had that quizzical look on her face that always meant she was working through something.

Sweets leaned back, "Okay Agent Booth, today I want to go back to earlier where we were discussing what you do in your off time to relax."

Booth stood up abruptly, "Sorry Sweets, we…I need to go look at the evidence, something came up…I'll call to reschedule." He began to edge around the couch and immediately after years of familiarity he started to put his hand at her waist to escort her out of the office, she made herself solid enough to slap his hand and he winced and said, "Ouch Bones." Before guiltily looking over at Sweets and then back at her as she rolled her eyes. "You are so going to get put on vacation." She said softly as they exited the room. Dr. Sweets watched Booth leave and began scribbling furiously on the notepad he held in his lap. He liked Agent Booth, considered him the brother he never had, but he was very worried about his state of mind and he wasn't going to let friendship or overly emotional feelings deter him from forcing him to take a break from his obviously stressful job.

PART VI

Booth went straight to his office, defying the laws of reality Bones beat him there as she simply appeared rather than wasting time on the pesky walking around the building. She stood behind his desk and was staring down at the evidence still littering the surface when he got there. He closed the door and made his way over to her, "What do you have Bones? What have you seen?"

"What is that mark?" She asked pointing to a semi circle on one of the tickets.

"I don't know, a 'C' maybe?"

"Its only on one of the tickets Booth. Did Angela scan these?"

He looked again, sure enough the partial black mark was only on one of the tickets, "No, these were scanned by the FBI forensics team, Angela was at home on the day these were brought in."

"These are the tickets that the girlfriend…well mistress and the assistant used to go to the ballet right?"

"Yes, they were. Why?"

"Booth, I think this is a re-admittance stamp on this ticket, which if it is, shows that one of the women left the ballet and could have been the one that killed your victim, I suggest that we have Angela scan these tickets and see if that's what it is."

"I don't know Bones, that's a pretty far reach. Aren't you the one that always cautions against conjecture?"

"I used to be Booth, but now I think that there might be something to that 'gut theory' of yours."

Booth studied her and the tickets and tried to get his mind in the same vein as hers, it was a slight possibility that she was right, deciding that they were at an impasse with everything else they had, the very least they could do was try it out. "Alright Bones, let's go to the lab."

The two of them entered the lab and Booth walked quickly to Angela's office, he'd called ahead and told her what he wanted her to do so she was prepared. He entered alone and looked quickly over his shoulder to see that Bones had stopped shortly after entering her old home. She looked around at everything, so familiar to her, but noticed the subtle changes. The guards had changed somewhat, the interns weren't all the same. Cam and Jack weren't there, but she could see lights on in the conference room, so assumed they were inside. She stepped lightly, walking along the outside of the platform, until she saw the skeleton lying on a steel table, a short, portly man in a lab coat leaning over it. She materialized beside him as he muttered his findings into a mini recorder. She took in his rumpled appearance, the stain on his too short tie; his hair was thinning and slightly greasy. He was surrounded by bits and pieces of paper with messy writing on them, his notes she could only surmise. She walked around him and looked over the body, agreeing with most of what he was saying; she assumed he was her replacement. Jack scanned his card and came up onto the platform, "Do we have another case?"

"More or less, this is a classic murder/suicide according to the local yokels, but they want to know cause of death anyway, so since Agent Booth has stalled on our current case I told them I'd take a look at the remains." The man turned and walked right through Dr. Brennan and then shivered slightly, he had felt a chill. "Speaking of which, where is Agent Booth? I tried his office and he wasn't there, he's also not answering his cell phone." Jack said, taking a sample of something from the bottom of the victim's foot.

"Can't help you there Dr. Hodgins, Agent Booth avoids me like the plague. I'm sure that he was forced to work with me and so he does so grudgingly. I know I'm not the great Dr. Brennan but he seems a little standoffish."

Jack smiled slightly he understood where he was coming from, Booth was pretty standoffish, he'd allowed himself to love once and it had ended very badly with Dr. Brennans death. He wasn't interested in making friends outside of the small circle that he had and unfortunately that was transmitting quite loudly to the new doctor of Anthropology at the Jeffersonian. "I understand man, give it time, he's a good man and he's going to need time, luckily he'll never love you."

The other doctor snorted and said, "Thank god for that, I'll just be his 'partner' at work only, and I'm okay with that."

Jack smiled and took his scrapings to his station, Bones had heard all of that conversation and felt bad for her replacement, he appeared competent to her, albeit somewhat messy and lacking in personal hygiene but that was irrelevant for what he was hired to do. She followed Jack to his station and watched him begin to prepare his samples for inspection. The phone on his desk buzzed, "Hodgie, can you come here please?" Angela's voice coming from the speakerphone made Brennan smile. She wanted to see her more than anything.

"Be right there babe." Jack set his sample down and hurried to his wife's office.

"Booth!" He greeted the agent, his hand out, and slapped him on the back, "Hey buddy, good to see you, what brings you over here? Got any more information on our case?"

"Hey Jack, yeah I do actually, I asked Angela to tell me what that mark is on that ticket."

The three of them looked at the ticket in question, where Angela had set up a digital matrix that completed the mark and it formed a capital 'C' in a circle. "I was just telling Booth that he should go to the Cheshire and have them show him their stamp for re-admittance, we might have our killer after all. Plus, I also told him that he was coming over on Saturday night for dinner whether he liked it or not."

Jack and Booth caught each other's eyes and smiled, neither one of them wanted to argue with a pregnant lady. Bones stood in the doorway, her heart swelling with love for each of the people in the room, especially the beautiful artist obviously uncomfortable with her pregnancy but still looking happy and at peace. She walked over and Booth's eyes widened slightly at the tears on her cheeks and the look of longing on her face. He so desperately wanted to tell his friends that she was there with them, but the selfish part of him didn't want to share her and he also didn't want to worry or alarm them with thoughts of his mental state. He was well aware that they all harbored concerns for him, and as much as he appreciated it, he also knew that he was fine. He watched Bones come behind Angela's chair and he alone saw her solidify enough to touch a lock of her hair, she also reached around and placed her hand on her swollen stomach. "Oh, thank god, the baby finally stopped kicking." Angela sighed, placing her hand unknowingly over the hand of her best friend. "I really think it's a boy and he's just dying to play some sort of sport." She smiled at her husband as he too put his hand on her stomach, "He's been kicking today huh?" he whispered.

"Yeah, almost nonstop in fact, until just now, weird huh?"

Booth knew it wasn't a coincidence that the baby had decided to calm down right then; he believed that the baby was being soothed by his Bones. She smiled and kissed Angela's temple lightly and turned towards the door, she caught Booth's eyes and said, "I need to leave Booth, please?" the hurt and angst in her voice almost made his heart break. She was struggling so much in this place. He nodded at her and said, "Thank you Angela, take care and I'll see you Saturday." He leaned over and placed his hand on her stomach as well and lightly kissed her cheek and then followed Bones out of the lab.

VII (I took a lot of liberties with this ending, but I saw a parallel and had to go with it.)

Booth drove quietly to the Cheshire Center for The Performing Arts; he glanced over occasionally at Bones, leaning her head against the passenger door window. "Are you okay Bones?"

She sniffed and looked over at him, "Yes, I'm fine. I'm just missing so much. I know now that I wasted so much time while I was alive. I should have told you I loved you, I should have said yes when you asked me and I should have had our child. I should have taken time to just be silly and to enjoy what was around me without trying so hard to explain it all. I should have told Angela how I felt about her and dammit I should be here when her little girl is born."

He reached over and attempted to take her hand, his passing harmlessly through hers and she smiled and took his, making the contact solid. "It's okay to be regretful Bones, that means you were alive, we all have regrets about what we've done. I regret that I let you go without telling you exactly what you meant to me, that I didn't make you see what was going on around you and…did you say her little girl?"

She smiled through her tears, "Yes, she's having a little girl. I hope she won't be disappointed, she mentioned that she expected a boy."

He grinned, "She won't be disappointed Bones, Angela wants a girl very badly. I can't wait to tell her."

She squeezed his hand, "Don't Booth, don't tell her, let her see the baby when she's born. Birth is the last great surprise and she needs that surprise." She smiled at him and ran her thumb over the back of his hand. Booth nodded and squeezed back, overjoyed at the physical contact, "Okay Bones, I won't tell her, but I will make sure the first thing she gets from her Uncle Booth is something pink and tough."

They lapsed into silence until the chrome and glass building came into view, they exited the SUV quickly and headed to the box office. Booth grabbed his badge from his belt and flashed it at the young girl behind the counter, "FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth and this is my partner Dr. Temperance Brennan of the Jeffersonian…" He stopped at her raised eyebrow and the look she gave over his shoulder, "I mean, well…she's parking the car, anyway, can you tell me what this mark is?" he handed her a blown up photograph of the ticket where the 'C' mark had been circled in red.

The young girl looked and said, "It looks like a re-admittance stamp to me." She handed the picture back to him and smiled. Booth said, "Do you have a stamp like that and can I see it?"

Nodding quickly, she pulled the stamp out and handed it to him. He pulled the cap off and saw the embossed 'C' design, "Would you mind stamping something, preferably a ticket of some sort so I can compare it to my evidence?"

"Sure." She pulled a roll of unprinted tickets out and peeled one off, stamping the ticket she handed it back to him, to his untrained eye, it appeared identical. "Thank you miss, you've been very helpful."

She snapped her gum and said, "No problem Agent Booth, good luck."

He turned and walked away, Bones in his wake. "I can't help telling you that it was incredibly funny to hear you introduce yourself and me like that Booth, that poor girl didn't know what to think. Good cover story with the 'parking the car'," she grinned at his irritated look.

"Its habit Bones, simply habit, I forgot that I was the only one that could see you."

She giggled, "I can understand habit Booth, in the past day or so that I've been here, you've relaxed considerably, I'm sure that if Jack and Angela hadn't of been distracted by me putting the baby to sleep, they would have commented on it, as it was Sweets noticed a change in your behavior as well."

"Yeah, he noticed me checking out a ghost that was attempting to seduce me. That's got to be worth a trip to the loony bin if nothing else is." They both entered the car and he began to drive back to the Hoover where he would shortly be calling in the assistant and the mistress once Angela confirmed that the sample he'd gotten and the ticket were a match.

She looked over and smiled at him, leaning back on the seat, she gazed out the window and said softly, almost too softly for him to hear, "I miss it here Booth."

He nodded, his throat choked with emotion, "It misses you too Bones."

She went to his office while he had Angela run the comparison, she wasn't able to see her best friend again, instead she felt like she needed to infuse his space and soak up as much as she could of her partner. Booth came back in with a wide smile on his face a short time later. "You are wonderful Bones, I could just kiss you!" He stopped when he realized what he had said and sighed, "Well, you know what I mean, it's a match a perfect match, I'm going to call the two ladies in and see which one wants to fess up to the murder."

"I'm glad Booth, I hope that one of them comes clear for you."

He smiled, "Comes clean Bones, comes clean."

She knew what she had said was wrong, and she also knew how much he enjoyed correcting her so she'd slipped on purpose. Seeing the grin on his face she was glad that she had, she moved out of his seat and allowed him to call Caroline for the warrant and then began to contact both Dawn and Willow. He was able to get the warrant but Caroline asked that he come and get it from her office, so he and Bones headed down to the courthouse to pick it up.

They walked up the long stairway, well Booth walked Bones just appeared at the top and danced around her hands in the air, reminiscent of Rocky Balboa and his stance in Philadelphia. Booth snorted, saying out of the side of his mouth in deference to the people milling about, "You have time to watch TV wherever you are there Bones?"

"No, I just remember seeing it when I was a kid and thought it would be humorous. Was I incorrect?"

His mouth lifted at the corners, "No, it was humorous." He turned around and was walking backwards so didn't see the young woman that was digging through her purse and coming up behind him. Bones called out, "Booth watch out!" Booth turned at the last minute so that he didn't hit her full on, but he did manage to knock the purse out of her hand and its contents rolled everywhere. He bent down to help her pick them up at the same time that she did and they bumped heads. Sitting back on his haunches, he rubbed his forehead and looked up to see the prettiest brown eyes he'd ever seen in his life. Raking his gaze over the woman's face he saw that not only were her eyes beautiful, but her face and smile were equally as radiant. She had short, dark curly hair and a deep tan. Her smile was wide and open. She was dressed smartly in a navy blue business suit with a white blouse, it was apparent to Booth that she took great care of herself. "I'm sorry Ma'am, I didn't see you, are you okay?"

"Yes, thank you," she took the things from his hands and put them in her purse, "It was my fault I wasn't watching where I was going, thank you." She closed her purse and stood there staring at him. He was incredibly good looking, tall, well built and dressed very stylishly in a grey suit. He must be a lawyer she thought to herself, "No problem, again, I'm sorry. My name is Seeley, Seeley Booth."

He stuck his hand out and she took it in her grip, "Cordelia, Cordelia Chase. It's nice to meet you Mr. Booth, thank you for your assistance with my things." She turned to walk down the stairs and he watched her go, for a moment completely forgetting that Bones was there. Something about her smile made him want to continue to talk to her. Suddenly he heard Bones say, "She's beautiful Booth. You should have continued to talk to her." He looked up and saw her watching the entire exchange with a sad smile on her face; he shook his head and said, "No way Bones, I'm with you. You're my girl. Let's go see Caroline." Bones shook her head and said, "Okay Booth. Let's go."

After Booth had the warrant he made the calls to the girls and had them in adjoining interrogation rooms. Bones watched him as he asked both girls which one was the one that left the ballet and killed the victim; they each both initially denied it until he showed them the proof. Then, like a dam bursting Dawn explained that they had been seeing each other and she knew that he was going to change his will to leave everything to Willow and that they would be set for life. They had set the whole thing up, including his romance with Willow. However, Dawn and Willow had been dating for a couple of years themselves. Bones silently applauded him and was standing in the hallway when he escorted them both out of the rooms in handcuffs, one would be arrested for murder, one for accessory. She felt both relieved and aggravated that the case was over. Relieved that he was able to finally put the case to bed and aggravated because she had felt the pull on her spirit almost immediately after the confession. Her time was short and she had to go, she had to leave him again. Bones dematerialized and reappeared at his house. She wandered around and touched all of her things; she held a picture of him and Parker and cried.

For his part, Booth finished up the booking of the two women and went back to his office. "Bones? Are you here?" She didn't answer and he smelled the air, her scent was there but not as strong. He headed back to the interrogation room to see if she was still there, and soon realized that she was gone. His heart clenched in pain, he had hoped she would say goodbye or at least be there when he was done. Dejected, he drove home and went inside his home. Taking his jacket off and laying it indifferently over the back of his sofa he said halfheartedly, "Bones? Are you here?" His nostrils flared slightly as her scent overcame him. He sighed and smiled, "There you are Bones. You had me worried." He was grinning as she reappeared and he reached out to her, "You did it Bones, you solved it. Great job! I'm almost hoping we have another case here soon, I mean I know it's a little unorthodox with you being dead and all, but I think we did pretty well. I mean, obviously I'm going to have to work on my stealth skills and forget that you are there observing me all silent and stuff, but I think this may work…" Stopping mid sentence he looked up at her and saw a solitary tear roll down her cheek, "What is it Bones? What's a matter?"

She smiled at him, and reached up to touch the hair at his temple, drawing her finger slowly down his jaw line and touching his lips ever so softly, "Booth, I have to go."

He grabbed roughly for her shoulders, she was solid to his touch, although a little less visible, "What do you mean you have to go? You have to stay Bones. I need you here; you can't just come back and then leave again. You can't leave me." He was holding her tightly; his eyes were full of tears, his throat closed with emotion.

"Booth," She said, as she reached up to take his hands. She led him to the couch and sat down, pulling him down beside her. She turned in her seat and took his face in her hands, looking deep into his eyes she said softly, "Booth, listen to me, I love you. I should have told you that a long time ago. I can't stay here Booth; it's not my choice or yours. Something bigger than both of us is pulling on me and telling me that I have to go back now. I've accomplished what I came here to do. I helped you when you needed it, although I think you would have figured it out eventually, you're pretty intelligent that way. I got to say goodbye to the people that I love and to the places that I miss. You'll be fine without me Booth. You needed me to be here to see that you can be on your own. I know that and you do too."

Booth leaned into her and leaned his head on her shoulder, tears sliding slowly down his cheeks, "Bones, I still need you here."

Bones held him tight and kissed the top of his head, already she was beginning to fade and remaining solid was becoming a challenge. "Booth," She whispered, and he raised his head. She leaned in enough to touch her lips to his, still warm and soft as the first time he kissed her, they kissed gently and she leaned back, "I love you Booth. Goodbye." And just like that, she was gone. Booth fell forward into the corner of the couch and sat up quickly. "Bones? NO! Don't leave, I need you!" Nothing but silence greeted his declaration and he realized that he could no longer smell her. Curling himself up as small as he could he closed his eyes and stayed prone on the couch. The couch where he'd last seen the woman he loved.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~TWO DAYS LATER~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Booth entered the diner, dressed down in jeans and a t-shirt. He hadn't left his house for the past two days and today decided that it was time for him to get back to the act of life. He'd realized what Bones had done for him and he was ready to make the first steps towards moving on. As much as it had hurt him when she left him again, he knew that he would only hurt himself and the people around him more if he continued to wallow in self pity. This evening he'd decided that he was hungry and nothing but a burger, shake and slice of pie from the diner was going to soothe not only the ache in his stomach but the empty spot in his soul where he had felt her presence the most. He entered the more crowded than usual diner and only saw one empty chair, and it was across the table, their table in fact from a woman with short, curly brown hair. He started to walk past on his way to the restroom, he'd check out the seating situation in the back room as well when she looked up, "Mr. Booth, hi!" he glanced back and saw that it was Cordelia, the woman he'd literally run into at the courthouse.

"Cordelia, hello." He smiled at her.

She indicated her purse, "I could push it closer to the edge of the table if you'd like to take another stab at it?" She smiled impishly.

He returned her smile, "I think I'll be okay," he looked around, "Do you mind if I join you, it's a little crowded in here."

Nodding acceptance, she indicated that he should take the seat, "I don't mind. Aside from the doorman to my building, you're the only person I know in DC, so please, sit down." She leaned in and whispered slightly, "I've never eaten here before, is it any good?"

He leaned in and whispered back, "I think it's probably the best diner in the area, you made a good choice. So, you're new here? What brings you to DC?"

She leaned back in her seat, "I'm the CEO of PTB Global's USA branch, and we recently relocated to DC, unfortunately, my staff stayed back in Los Angeles, therefore I'm here alone with all new employees." She took a sip of her vanilla shake.

"That must be nerve wracking, what do you do at PTB Global?"

"PTB Global is an international company that facilitates charitable donations to people in need, we help the helpless!" She smiled, and when she did her entire face lit up. He couldn't help but smile back at her, the two of them were soon engaged in conversation regarding what she did and he explained that he wasn't a lawyer as she had originally thought but an FBI agent. "So, you help the helpless too huh?"

"Yes, something like that." He said tucking into his burger. She excused herself to use the restroom and he looked out the window and almost choked, the streetlights had just come on with the darkening twilight, and standing outside the window, directly underneath the streetlight was Bones. Once she saw that he was looking at her she smiled and waved slightly. She blew him a kiss and then looked up as the light began to glow brighter and brighter. Much brighter than the light bulb was designed to glow in fact. It glowed so brightly that the entire intersection seemed to be bathed in daylight, Booth stared straight into her eyes as she looked back down at him, all of a sudden the light exploded, leaving behind instant darkness and shards of glass from the bulb and the casing at the top of the light. Booth realized in that instant that he'd never see her again, and she had indeed gone towards the light. "Goodbye Bones, I love you." He said under his breath as he raised his drink up and gently saluted her.

Cordelia came back to the table and looked out the window where he was looking, "What happened to that light?"She asked taking in the debris littering the sidewalk. "I don't know, too much positive energy maybe." He said smiling at her. The waitress came over and said, "Can I get you two anything else?"

Booth looked up at her and said, "Yes, I'd like a piece of pie and one for my friend here too please." He smiled and winked at her.

"What kind of pie is it?" Cordelia asked the waitress.

"Apple."

"No thank you, I don't like my fruit cooked."

"Okay hon, just one for you then." The waitress turned and left. Booth's shoulders shook with silent laughter, "What is it?" Cordelia asked, suddenly wary.

"It's nothing, really, I just had a very close friend that was the same way, she didn't like her fruit cooked either. I tried for years to get her to eat pie here with me." His smile faded as he looked back outside the diner window. Cordelia reached over and took his hand, "What happened to her?"

He looked back at her, the obvious concern on her face, "She died a couple of years ago."

"I'm sorry."

"I am too, but you know what, I think I'm going to be okay."

The two of them smiled at each other and he said, "After my pie, would you like to go get a drink? My friends are meeting at a bar near here, and I could introduce you? Then you could add to the people you know here in the area." His grin was lopsided and she smiled back, "I'd like that."

He finished up his pie and they lingered over a cup of coffee, he helped her put on her jacket, his hand resting on the small of her back as he escorted her out of the diner and towards his car. He reached out and touched the lamp as he passed and said to himself, "Thank you Bones, I can take it from here."

I hope you all liked it and that I ended it in a good way. Forgive the obvious Angel/Buffy references, I'm attempting a Booth/Angel crossover and this seemed a good way to see if it was possible.