Whew, that promo - man, that promo. I had to watch it twice before I even believed it.

WHY will this episode air right before my final exams, and the next episode right in the middle of them, when I really can't use a distraction (which it will no doubt be)?

Life is unfair.

In the meantime, though, I hope you enjoy this little piece :) Not particularly eloquent or special, but this is what I like to call cathartic writing. :)

He's not even surprised when he hears the knock on the door – two times short, one time long, one time short – her signature.

Of course she'd be here.

It's not arrogance that makes him state that – it's rather that he knows her. He knows that despite her attitude and the rotating interns, she still cared for him. He knows that, despite being annoyed by his relentless trivial facts, she still appreciated his work. And he knows that his death hurts her, reminds her of Zack, maybe, and makes her wonder how she can let people close when she failed to protect even him.

In part, it's what he's feeling, too. And even though he's tired beyond his years tonight, he's glad that they can share.

He opens the door and she stands in front of it. Her eyes are red, but dry, and there's something in them he can't quite determine, something desperate and dull and painful.

She's still holding in.

"Come in." He steps aside for her and she enters his apartment. As she takes off her coat, he sees she hasn't changed since from her work clothes; he can still see the splash of blood on her shirt, a splash of blood that reached as she stood, frozen, a few yards away from where Vincent Nigel-Murray was shot.

He gives her a beer without asking her and she accepts without thanking him, and somewhere with the chaos of the day they'd just had he finds some reassurance in that. They're still there.

He doesn't quite know how to start the conversation, so instead he says nothing, maybe uncharacteristically so. They just sit and sip their beer and stare at the wall ahead, at the black TV-screen, and (in his case, at least) at the photo of him and his partner that's in the book case right next to it.

"Booth?" her voice is small in the silence and he wants to look at her so desperately, but he tells himself it's not a good idea and continues to stare at the photograph.

"Is it…" she hesitates and as he recognizes that, so unlike his Bones, he does turn and look at her. She's pulled her legs up to her chest and sits hugging her knees, looking years younger than he'd ever seen her. And scared.

"He was just gone," she whispers. She doesn't need to say much more; he knows exactly what she means. He wasn't there when it happened, but he'd seen the team afterwards, shocked and afraid, angry, upset, practical – they all deal with it in different ways, he thought. And Brennan, the practical one, the rational one, had been standing, stock still, unable to tear her eyes away from the spot where it had happened.

He'd known right then that she'd come to him.

He shuffles over to where she sits and reaches out, still a bit hesitant. But she turns to him without resistance and he can see the raw emotions on her face.

He doesn't know what to do. How can he comfort her, when he's unable to console even himself? How can he tell her it's going to be alright, how can he tell her anything useful when he doesn't know a damn thing himself?

"I've seen death so many times, I – I've seen mass graves and slaughter and brutal homicide and I didn't even blink, but – Booth…"

She looks at him, really looks at him, and he feels like something passes between them. He leans forward at the same time she does and they hug, slowly, comfortingly. There's nothing sexual about it, nothing like he'd dreamt of touching her; a hug between two friends who've lost their way.

"He was gone so fast, Booth." Her voice is muffled against his shirt. "He was-" she swallows, "-dead so fast. Only a moment…"

She's still pressed against him and he wonders if the reason for it is that she is reassuring herself that he's still alive. Is she having flashbacks to when she thought he was dead?

He still hasn't said a word besides inviting her in, but she doesn't seem to notice or mind.

"Life is so short, Booth." The whispered words are almost too soft to hear, but he catches them. His heart speeds up a little despite the circumstances. Does she mean…?

"Tomorrow it can be … Angela, or Hodgins, or – or you…" He holds her a little tighter.

"I'm not going anywhere, Bones," he whispers in her hair. "I'm right here."

He feels tears soak into his shirt but he doesn't actually hear her cry.

"You always say that," she says him, a hint of frustration mixed with the sadness. "But you can't – how can you – it's not – it's not certain. You… you can promise all those things but it'll never be certain." Are they still talking about death? He's not sure, but maybe it doesn't matter. Maybe, in a way, both are the same.

He holds her a while longer, his silence an unspoken agreement with her words. Once or twice, he feels a sob in her body, but he doesn't say anything about it and she doesn't let him know, either.

Finally, he pulls back. He grabs her hand and stands up, giving her a tug. "Come," he says, his voice a bit gruff.

She follows him, but stops when she sees the destination. "Booth…" he can see the uncertainty in her eyes and curses himself for not thinking of it before.

"No, I want to show you something," he explains and after that, she follows him.

He sits down on the edge of the bed and she sits down next to him, and despite the room and its implications, there's no awkwardness.

He reaches for the photograph on the nightstand and holds it in front of her.

"Remember this?"

It was a photograph of them. He doesn't think she knows it was taken, but in the way she reacts he knows she's recognized it nonetheless.
The photo had been taken after a case. It hadn't been a particularly grueling case or even a very long one; he can't even remember the specifics anymore. They'd gone out afterwards, the entire team. He remembers now that it had been a while after his surgery, when they had been afraid that he would be permanently affected, but at the particular moment, they hadn't cared much.
He'd said something (or she, he couldn't remember), and they'd looked at each other. The other squints were in the frame too, but only marginally, and it was mostly the two of them. Their heads were turned towards one another and there was such intimacy in their postures, their gaze, their smiles, that even a blind man could have seen the love.

Does Bones see it now? She's tracing the faces on the photo with a finger that is shaking slightly, and he gently takes the photo out of her hands.

"You're right, you know. I can't promise you forever and I can't say I'll always be there." He pulls her towards him and she leans against him, the trusting gesture constricting his heart.

"But this moment, Bones, the one in the photograph – we've had that moment. Here's proof that we've had that moment. And that's never going to go away." He doesn't quite have the words to tell her what he means, exactly, but as she wipes at her eyes with her free hand he thinks that maybe, she understands anyway.

"No matter what happens, we've shared the past together." He pauses. "We're sharing this moment. And we'll share the future for as long as we can." He can't be any more clear than that, but then again he doesn't need to be.

They sit like that for a long time, her elegant frame against his, on the edge of his bed. After a while, he realizes she's crying more heavily now, no doubt reliving the events of the past, and he strokes her hair and touches her head and before he knows it, they're lying on the bed together. She's on top of him and in any other situation, any other time, he'd be thrilled and no doubt turned on, but at this point, he just continues to stroke her hair. She's so small against him. She's crying against his shoulder, her hands balled up besides her, and he wishes more than anything he could take the pain away, that he could somehow turn this moment into one they'd want to remember.

He knows he can't. He knows pain is a necessary part of life. But he wishes that now, it wouldn't have to be.

Opinions, anyone? I'd love to hear what you think. Who do you think will be Broadsky's victim? I read somewhere that there's a spoiler floating around that it's Nigel-Murray, which is why I chose him; don't have any theories myself (and I was a bit too caught up in the Booth-Brennan part of it all ;-) to make up one).

And also, of course: what did you think of my one-shot? Don't be shy, please review!