Booth swallows hard and leans against the glass and stares inside. The tightness in his throat threatens to choke him.
He turns his head away for a moment. "There has to be something you can do," he rasps. Hate, fury, despair and grief can all be seen in his dark eyes at once.
The doctor almost flinches and Cam puts a calming hand on Booth's jacket the way she has seen Brennan do countless times.
Booth pushes her hand away with a sharp, angry motion and stares at her. "Cam - do something," he orders her. "Do it fast. All of you. Come on, eggheads - think harder... you know we can't give up."
Zach is in the corner on his own, head buried in his hands, hair tousled and his eyes are red. Hodgins is holding Angela and her weeping has become a silent sobbing against Hodgins' shirt front. Hodgins' eyes are damp but he says nothing and his hands are not quite steady as his hands tangle in Angela's black hair.
"Agent Booth – there is nothing we can do. The CDC can't help us – their database came up with nothing. The organ damage is already too advanced. All we can do is try to make her comfortable."
"No! This is not the way it ends," Booth says in a low voice. "Fuck the database - we don't give up. We never give up - she would never give up." His voice breaks as he glances back at the window. They've pushed Brennan's bed up against the glass so that she can be close to them.
"Booth, don't," she whispers, swallowing hard. Her skin is almost transparent and it is hard to breathe.
"I'm not giving up on you, Bones. I'll be damned if I let you give up," he tells her fiercely, his face close to the glass as he stares into her eyes as if he can will her back to health with sheer force of will.
"Agent Booth – she's going to die. There is absolutely nothing we can do about it. I am so sorry for your loss," the doctor says sorrowfully.
"Don't act like she's already dead!" Booth shouts. "She's here – this is Bones." His hand tightens into a fist.
"Booth – Bren's dying. You have to accept that. Don't let her last memory be one of you angry," Angela says in a hoarse voice, her eyes swollen and red. "She's frightened – be here for her - "
"Then let me in the damned room!" Booth says. He walks for the door but is forcibly restrained by the guards. "If she's dying, I'm not letting her die alone!" His eyes are shining with unshed tears. He stares into the room and swears at the doctor. He swears at Bones for her stubbornness. Why had she gone alone? Booth had gunned the man down as he'd held the syringe to Brennan's neck but it had been too late and she had been infected with whatever it was that had been in the syringe.
"No, we don't know what it is. It could be highly contagious. We can't risk it, Booth," Cam tells him firmly. "I'm sorry."
Booth's hand goes to his sidearm as if he can shoot his way inside, but before he can remove it from the holster, everyone's eyes go to the sudden movement behind the thick, reinforced glass.
"Booth, no," Brennan whispers. "Don't. Think of Parker. He needs you." Her eyes are clouded with pain and confusion but her words are clear.
"And I need you," Booth tells her fiercely.
"Acts of futile stupidity aren't going to help," she reminds him and he slams his fist against the glass.
"Damnit, Bones. How could you do this? I'm your partner. Going off alone - " He stares at the thickly suited hospital staff inside the room. "Get me a hazmat suit. Now!"
She's so light and frail she seems to weigh almost nothing. Skin and bones.
"My organs are shutting down," she tells him clinically. She closes her eyes. "I can feel it happening. My body is dying." His face is close to hers, separated by the PVC face shield but she smiles faintly as she looks up at him. "But I'm glad you're here."
"Where the hell else would I be?" he demands and his gloved hand smoothes the hair back from her pale face. Ignoring the protests of the staff, he moves up onto the bed and pulls her into his arms, leaning into the corner to give them a moment's privacy. He knows that Bones wants that.
"Say goodbye to Russ for me… and my dad. Although I guess you have to arrest him if you meet him," she tells him with a crooked smile. "Booth – please don't cry."
"I'm not crying," he lies, aware that he's making the face shield fog up. He's knows that his hands are unsteady.
"I went alone because he said if I didn't, he was going to hurt you," Brennan explains.
"Self-sacrificing bullshit. I don't need you to protect me – you should have told me."
"He had evidence, I couldn't risk it Booth. Couldn't risk you."
"So you risked yourself? Idiot," Booth says violently.
"Yeah," she tells him, nodding, and a tear slides down her skin. His gloved hand wipes it away. His fingertip touches her lip. He's never kissed her. His partner, his dear friend. They've held one another, argued and talked forever, shared endless confidences, but he's never told her how he's felt and he has never kissed her.
Now he never will.
"I was afraid I was going to die alone," she confesses to him in a sharp whisper and he knows how much it costs Brennan to reveal something like that about herself. Even dying, she cannot bear to be vulnerable and her eyes are agonised.
"I'm here," he promises her. "I'm not going anywhere."
"I know," she says and her colourless lips curve in a smile. "I'm not frightened anymore," she confides. "Should I call you Seeley?" she asks him.
He looks confused. "Why?"
"I've never called you that – maybe I should before I die," she says.
"Dr Temperance Brennan - you can call me whatever you want," he replies. "You always have, Bones," he says with a wry smile. "I love you, you know. Never know whether I'm coming or going, you piss me off royally a million and one ways – but I love you. Figure I should say it out loud."
"I know," she tells him and her hand reaches up but drops back down to her side weakly. He takes her hand in his and holds it gently. Any pressure causes mottled bruising to appear on the pale skin.
"I'm not sure when I realised," she muses, her brow creases in thought. "But after I realised, it seems like I've known for some time. Can that be right?" she asks him, puzzled.
"Yeah, it's right," he tells her. "I've probably always loved you, even when you annoyed the crap out of me." He holds her close and can hear her whisper.
"Love you, too, Booth ..."
"Should damn well hope so," he tells her and the tears are pouring silently down his cheek as he feels the lightness of her body in his arms. He knows she's gone even before he stares down into her light eyes that are staring sightlessly up into his. It's like a brilliant light has been extinguished forever and he pulls her closer, rocking her against himself. He's not sure what he's singing or humming, the words are incoherent and his grief cannot be contained.
He can feel hands try to take her body from his.
"Booth. Booth – you have to let her go."
"She's already gone," he says in a choked voice.
"Parker?" Parker is standing before the gravestone, lost in thought and he blinks as his wife Molly comes to stand beside him.
"Sorry, I was years away," he says with a wry smile.
"Didn't mean to interrupt you," she says and he presses a kiss to her forehead.
It's the first time since they've been married that he has let her come with him to visit his father's grave and she appreciates the gesture.
She takes the flowers from him and places them on the grave of Seeley Booth. She frowns slightly and glances over at the tombstone beside that of Parker's father.
"Who is that?" Molly asks and Parker smiles wryly, crouching down, taking three white flowers from his father's grave and placing them before Temperance's headstone.
"Not sure how to describe her. Love of my father's life?"
"They were never going out. They were work partners. Good friends." Parker looks sad. "He never loved anyone the way he loved her."
Parker knows that now. Booth changed from the moment he met Temperance Brennan and even though Parker had only been a child at the time, he had sensed the difference in his father.
Even as a child he had realised that the bond and affection between his father and Temperance was far closer and intimate than the relationship with his mother.
"What was she like?"
"Smart. Brave," Parker says, frowning as he tries to remember. "Kind of outspoken – she used to piss my dad off a lot. They'd argue a lot - but he liked that. She was kind of weird. I never really knew her that well and from what I can tell, no one ever really knew her well except maybe my dad."
"But they never went out?"
"No. She died before anything could ever really happen. My dad pretty much died with her," Parker says slowly.
Booth had never been the same after Brennan's death. For a brief period of time there had been alcohol, a lapse back to gambling and depression but he'd snapped out pretty quickly. Angela had had pretty severe words with him.
"Brennan would be ashamed of you. I'm ashamed of you."
"Bones isn't here," an unshaven, grief-stricken Booth had said as he lifted a glass in Angela's direction.
"Yeah, but your son is," Angela told him. "You know what a fighter Brennan was. After everything she went through - she kept fighting. If she thought you'd do anything less – she'd be kicking you in the ass. There are bad guys out there for you to catch – remember?"
Booth had pulled himself together again. Returned to work, returned to being the grim-eyed, conscientious and determined agent dispenser of justice he had always been. A devoted and loving father. Growing, Parker had wanted for nothing. His father had made sure that he went to the best college and enjoyed the best things that he could give him.
"Did he ever marry?" Molly asks and Parker shakes his head. "Well - " He gives a wry smile. "Dad was injured in the line of duty – to be expected really. When he was dying, Angela said she was going to arrange a ming hun for him."
"A post-death wedding," Parker tells his wife. "Yeah, bizarre I know, but Angela's quirky like that – as you should know by now."
Parker had been at his father's death bed and heard the whole strange, surreal exchange.
"I wouldn't have expected you to go all quiet into the good night, Booth," Angela had said a little reproachfully, a tear trickling down her cheek.
"It's my time," he had told her softly.
"I'm going to arrange the best ming hun for you, ever," Angela had told him with a brave smile.
"Oh? And who's the lucky woman?" Booth had joked.
Angela had rolled her eyes, her voice catching on a sob and Hodgins had pulled her closer. "You, Bren – it's going to be beautiful."
Despite the pain, Booth had laughed. "You do know what Bones would have thought of that idea."
"You don't want to marry her?" Angela had asked and Booth had closed his eyes for a moment and then opened them. There had been a measure of serenity in his dark eyes and a look that hadn't been there for a long time.
"I do," he had told her.
"So that's why they're buried side by side?" Molly asks curiously and Parker nods.
"Angela did a big old ceremony – music and talking. Jokes and dancing. It was a really big event. A lot of people thought she was crazy but - I knew dad would have liked it. Not sure what Dr Brennan would have thought."
He feels a gentle arm slide around his waist.
"Hey Park? Thanks for letting me come with you," Molly whispers softly and kisses his cheek. "I'll be waiting for you in the car," she tells him and then he's alone again.
Parker arranges the flowers, moves the glass dolphin and little toy pig on the soft grass and with a final glance over his shoulder, walks back to where his wife is waiting for him.
In his mind, he can still hear the sound of his father bickering endlessly with the woman he loved.