Booth stepped out of the tent and fell in line with the rest of the troops. Sergeant or not, there wasn't anything he asked them to do that he wouldn't do himself. He felt that standing in front of them wasn't the same as leading them. He listened to the men murmur to themselves as they loaded into the waiting combat trucks. They'd been informed of a nest of insurgents and were the front line to go mark their location for the rest of his combat unit. Rangers lead the way alright he thought wearily to himself as he climbed into the last available seat. Leaning out the window, he gave the go ahead to the lead truck of the convoy.

He leaned his head back as far as he could with the flak jacket, helmet and various other items that he was loaded down with. He'd never longed for the simple feel of a shoulder holster more in his life. Trying desperately to focus on the mission, he kept circling back to the mental calendar he'd been picturing for the past 11 months. Not only was he desperate to see his son, his grandfather and brother, he was positively hurting to see her, his partner. They'd kept in touch via email, not as often as he would have liked, but she was busy he understood that. To be fair, lately he'd been more and more distant since he'd had a chance encounter with someone here.

Here, of all places. He never expected to meet anyone here that he could connect with. It was one hell of a connection too, he grinned slightly to himself, she was everything he'd always wanted in a woman and he was a fool to feel so damn conflicted every moment he was with her. It wasn't her fault, he had tried to move on, and she'd been more than willing to help him, it was just every time they talked he heard her voice, every time they touched, he felt her skin and every time they kissed, he tasted her. He had begged and pleaded with himself to let her go, she'd made her choice and it wasn't him. Booth knew all her arguments and as rational as they were to her, they were complete bullshit to him. Love was love, there was no scientific explanation, there was no rational, no compartmentalizing, you either loved someone or you didn't.

Love was the most irrational, sporadic and demanding emotion there was in his opinion, it twisted your gut, spun you around until you lost your bearings and then, just when you thought you had it all figured out, the bottom dropped out and you were plunged back into another roller coaster ride. He'd loved women before, but he'd never been in love before and that's why it took him so long to admit it to her, he didn't know that the urge to kill someone and kiss them at the same time was love. Bones brought that out in him, sometimes he couldn't believe how furious she made him, at the same time he just wanted to take her into his arms and never let her go. But he couldn't, she'd made it clear that although she recognized he was there, she wasn't going to admit that she was too. He could sense it in her when they'd stood together in the airport. He waited for her to just tell him, just say the words! He'd screamed at her in his head, but she hadn't. She'd told him not to be him, which maybe for her was her way of saying she loved him too, but he needed to hear her say it. He would have turned his back on the Army, his career everything to just hear her admit what they both knew was true.

The low rumble of the engines combined with the stifling heat made staying alert a challenge in itself, and he was tired to boot. So very tired, of the sand, the heat, the raw recruits and the senseless violence, as well as tired of trying to move on when he wasn't sure he could. Suddenly the trucks slowed and then stopped. He heard the radio clipped to his vest come alive, they had come to the coordinates of the supposed nest and it was up to his guys now to find them, mark them and hold them until the big boys in the sky showed up. He muttered instructions into the radio and each of the trucks slowly unloaded. Each unit of 10 men was to proceed in a different direction, fanning out to try to unearth their targets.

He and his group started to move out while the trucks moved out to various points, to make a less massive target themselves. The night was almost over, another couple of hours and the sun would begin to rise and they needed to get this done before that happened and they were caught out without anything larger than the guns mounted to the trucks. He could barely hear his men moving out, months out here had taught them all how to move silently, even on the baked sand and rocks. He was proud of this group of men no doubt, he knew that every one of them would gladly cover the back of any one of them and he would do the same. He quickly climbed over a couple of large boulders and settled into place, watching his men do the same around him. Eyes peeled, they would all be looking for the tell tale signs of enemy movement. If their calculations were correct, they would have surrounded them.

He attempted to put all of his energy into scanning the surrounding terrain, but almost without his consent, his mind jumped back to his previous train of thought. The sand was lightly shifting in a rare breeze, he could hear the barest rasp of the grains as they danced and swirled along the ground, he picked up the stifled sneeze of one of his guys, as well as a muffled fart, aside from that, the night was soundless. Looking up into the inky black sky, dotted with millions of stars he said quietly to himself, "Bones, you never said it would be this hard, love is meant to be forever. There's got to be a better way for me to say whats in my heart without leaving scars." That's what it felt like too, it felt like he was ripping off a scab that wasn't quite healed yet each and every time he thought of the reaction she'd had when he confessed to her that he wanted to try them out. Booth wondered what she really thought when she read his letters; they were brief and chatty but not overly personal. He mostly told her what he thought she'd want to hear. Reading her letters though, he thought he detected sorrow. He wondered if he was the reason. She seemed to be enjoying her trip back into her true passion; she was overly descriptive and using big words which he knew meant she was excited; it was just that her letters seemed almost perfunctory, too perfect. Reading them he wondered if her walls had gone down too low and she was trying to build them back up. He had hoped that her heart was broken being away from him, like his had been that night. Not that he wished her pain; complicated situations are the making of all that is wrong, and he knew that he'd been prolonging both of their pain.

There was a stir among the men and Booth looked around, he didn't see anything, but the general dissent of the men was enough to make him focus on the actual mission. This time it was almost successful too, and then once again, lulled into the false sense of security, he settled against the rock more securely as his mind fast forwarded through image after image. Sitting there he thought about he felt like he was standing on the bank of the river deliverance and wondered if she ever heard him when he called her name. Booth tried hard to reconcile his feelings for her against his feelings for her. He desperately wished he could erase the scars on his broken heart and not feel like he was the cause of any of her sorrow.

Without warning, a shot rang out and then a barrage of rapid fire followed, instantly back in the moment, Booth began barking orders into the radio on his vest, returning fire towards the direction it was coming for, he ducked low and slid down the rocks to get to where he had a better vantage point. Men were screaming, bullets were ricocheting off the rocks and hard packed earth and it was everything Booth could do to try and remain calm and fearless like he'd been so many times in the past when people were shooting at him. He knelt behind two of his men that were readying their rifles with long range scopes and asked them if they had had any warning, when they confirmed that they'd seen the glint of moonlight off the barrel of an gun and had started to notify him when they were shot at, he nodded and repeated the information into the radio. After a few minutes of intense gunshots and minor explosions from hand grenades and the guns from the convoy, he was never more glad to hear the steady whup whup whup of the Apache and Blackhawk helicopters flying in for air support. The early dawn lit up as they unleashed their weaponry on the intended targets and removed the threat.

Booth spoke again into the radio to find out about casualties, and being assured that there were just minor flesh wounds and only one serious injury, he removed his helmet long enough to wipe his sweaty brow. Replacing his helmet, he stood up and began to walk towards one of the other sergeants when a single shot whined through the smoke filled air and penetrated just above his vest. He felt the angry sting of the bullet as it assaulted his upper chest and then he felt himself falling. He could hear the soldiers around him yelling as he fell but it was almost as if they were in a tunnel, they were so far away. He felt the ground rush to meet him and looking at the sand so very close he briefly marveled at how the brand new day's sunlight had seemed to make each individual grain glow and so quietly the soldier holding his hand against the bloody wound in his back almost didn't hear he said, "Bones."

She stepped outside of her tent, the dusk having almost completely given way to night, the draft off the ocean was scented with salt and although it was a warm night, she was wrapped in a blanket. Staring at the stars as they began to peek through the black of the sky she heard one word on the gently wafting breeze, "Bones." She looked around startled, expecting to see him standing there, his voice was so clear, she turned in a full circle but she was alone. She wondered if hearing him call her name was a sign of the sorrow she felt when she thought of the night that she'd scarred his big and loving heart.

Inspired by the lyrics "Call Your Name" by Daughtry. Previously posted at the lab under Harbinger alias…