She wishes she could get that stupid song out of her head. It's been playing on a loop and she is most definitely not having fun right now. Her foot is unconsciously tapping out the rhythm of the song as she waits.
(They've been waiting forever.)
they just wanna, they just wanna, they just...
"Brennan, sweetie?" Angela's voice breaks the loop. "I got you a cup of coffee."
"Thanks, Ang," she replies, taking the cup and sipping it, scalding the inside of her mouth. She pulls the cup away, making a face.
Angela frowns. "Are you okay?"
"It's really hot."
(The pain is nothing compared to the pain Booth must have felt when he took that bullet. For her.)
She shakes her head. Those are dangerous thoughts. Thoughts she isn't ready to deal with. She stares down at the cup of coffee, as if it holds the answers to life, the universe and everything.
"I got in touch with Rebecca," Cam says, walking over to the corner of the waiting room they've staked out as their own private hell to wait for word on Booth's condition. "She doesn't want to say anything to Parker until we know more. I promised to call her back as soon as the doctors give us an update. She also said she would call Booth's brother so he could notify the rest of the family."
"Poor Parker," Angela says, her voice catching. Hodgins slips an arm around her shoulders as the tears begin to fall again.
"Why should we pity the child when we don't have a prognosis?" Zack asks. "There may be no reason to pity him, if Booth makes a full recovery."
"Dude," Hodgins says, staring incredulously at his co-worker. "How would you feel if your father got shot?"
Zack considers this for a long moment before answering. "I would be concerned for his health. However, I would not get upset without hearing the prognosis from the doctors. They are the experts."
"The fear of losing a loved one, especially a parent, is strong in most people," Sweets speaks up. He's been silent since they arrived, save for speaking to an FBI investigator who had questions about the shooting. "Seeing a young, healthy man like Booth struggling for his life can easily be a trigger for others to question their own mortality."
Angela stands up and glares at all of them. "Don't you people have feelings? Are you a bunch of robots programed to spout off scientific theory instead of facing your emotions? Booth might be dying and you're sitting here like we're waiting for a bus!" Angry tears streak down her face and she storms off.
There is an uncomfortable silence after she leaves. Hodgins sighs and goes after her. Brennan continues to stare at her coffee, afraid to meet anyone's eyes for fear of breaking down into tears herself.
(She's scared and Booth isn't here to hug her.)
"I feel silly sitting here talking to you when you're in a coma," she says. "But studies have shown that stimulation, especially familiar voices, can help coma patients wake up."
She watches him, hoping for some kind of reaction.
"I want to thank you for what you did. Stepping in front of me when you saw that Pam had a gun," she clarifies. "It was very brave."
Her voice falters. There is so much she wants to say. So much she should say.
(I love you.)
She carefully takes his hand in hers. "You have to wake up, Booth. Parker needs his daddy. And I... I need my partner."
There is still no reaction from the hospital bed. The humming of the machines that are keeping Booth alive is starting to grate on her nerves.
"I went to the chapel before, while Cam was sitting with you," she confesses. "I told God that I wasn't sure if I believed in him, but that you did and that since you weren't able to pray for yourself, I wanted to pray for you by proxy. I reminded Him that you thanked him for saving our team when the Gravedigger got me and Hodgins. I reminded Him how much we need you because we're stronger together than apart. I... I don't know if He listened, but I hope so. And if you wake up, I promise to go back and thank Him for saving you."
Still no indication that Booth can hear her. She sighs and considers what to talk about next.
"Dr. Brennan?" Hodgins interrupts. "I can sit with Booth for a while. Angie says you should meet her in the cafeteria and eat something."
She gently squeezes Booth's hand. "I'll be back, Booth," she promises, relinquishing the chair to Hodgins. He pats her shoulder as she walks past. She knows it's supposed to be a comforting gesture, but it's so Booth-like that it makes tears spring to her eyes and she hurries out of the room without saying anything else.
She has never felt so cold and numb before in her entire life.
(Not even when buried alive.)
"Are you sure?" she asks the doctor, her voice catching.
He nods. "I'm sorry. But there is no brain activity. Agent Booth's wishes were very clear. He did not want to be kept alive on machines."
A strangled sob comes from Angela's direction. Cam is clearly trying to swallow back her tears. Zack and Hodgins look lost. Sweets is biting his lip, staring at the floor.
"Can we... I mean... I'd like to say goodbye," she manages.
"Of course," the doctor says. "His family has requested to be there when we unplug the machines, but you can have a few minutes to say your goodbyes before they arrive."
There are tentative glances exchanged. None of them wants to go first. After several uncomfortable moments, Hodgins finally stands up, holding tight to Angela's hand. They disappear with the doctor, leaving the others in silence.
When they return, Cam stands up. Angela is a mess; her face buried in Hodgins shoulder as he whispers words of comfort in her ear. Cam is gone a little longer and her eyes are red and puffy when she returns. They all look to Zack.
"Booth isn't there anymore," he says. "There's no reason for me to say goodbye."
Hodgins reaches over and smacks the back of Zack's head. "What did you do that for?" he demands. "It's a scientific fact..."
"Zack, why don't you help me get coffee for everyone," Sweets interjects. Looking puzzled, Zack stands and follows the psychiatrist from the waiting room.
Brennan realizes that it's her turn to say goodbye. She stands. Her legs feel like jelly and she's having a hard time convincing her brain that this isn't some horrible nightmare.
(The worst nightmares are the ones you can't wake up from.)
The hum of the machines is too loud. Her head is throbbing as she stares at Booth's lifeless body. She sits next to him, taking his hand and gathering her thoughts. "I don't know what to say," she begins. "You've been a huge part of my life for the past three years. You're here because you saved me. I don't know what I'm going to do without you there beside me."
She can't speak past the lump in her throat anymore, so she sits there quietly, holding Booth's hand as her mind flashes through memories they've shared. Hot tears begin to burn her cheeks, but she can't be bothered to wipe them away. One lands on their entwined hands and she stares when Booth's hand flinches. She dismisses it as a reflex. It couldn't have been conscious; the doctors have done every test and determined that there is no brain function.
It's a long time before the doctor peaks in the door. "Dr. Brennan, I'm sorry, but I'm going to have to ask you to leave now."
"May I have one more minute?" she asks.
The doctor nods and closes the door. She stands up and finally lets go of Booth's hand. "I love you, Seeley Booth, and I'll never forget you," she whispers, leaning down to press a soft kiss against his lips before running out of the room.
She doesn't stop to talk to anyone in the waiting room, knowing that she needs to be as far away from the hospital as she can be as quickly as possible.
Everyone stares in shock when she walks into the lab the next day. Well, everyone except Zack, who is hunched over the lab table playing with chemicals.
"Dr. Brennan, we don't have any pressing cases," Cam says. "If you need to take a few days off..." she trails off, not wanting to speak the words out loud.
"I've got a back log of remains that I need to categorize and identify," she says. "Now's as good a time as any to work on them."
(She can't bear to be alone.)
"Sweetie," Angela says. "Are you sure?"
She squares her shoulders and looks her best friend in the eye. "I'm fine, Ang. You're all here. Why shouldn't I be?"
The question is a challenge that none of her co-workers are willing to accept and the silence looms heavily for a full minute.
"I'll be in my office," she announces, leaving them speechless in her wake.
She proceeds to bury herself in identifying centuries old skeletons for the next two days. Until Angela guilt trips her into attending Booth's funeral. They've all been giving her a wide berth and she fully expects them to leave her alone with her ancient bones while they mourned the loss of their friend and co-worker.
(Bones can't make you love them.)
She's still angry with him. Doesn't think she will ever stop being angry with him. But the shock of learning what Zack has done is enough to make her put that anger aside and draw comfort from his presence. It feels so right to rest her head on his shoulder and feel his arm around her.
(This is what love feels like.)
"Bones," Booth says, breaking into her reverie. "Why don't we get some Thai takeout and go back to your place?"
"Okay," she nods, knowing that eating will be damn near impossible, but it's familiar and she craves something normal right now.
They place their regular order and drive to her apartment in silence. Once inside, they both pick at their food, making no attempts at conversation. The silence finally makes her grab the remote control for her stereo and push play. She doesn't even remember what's in there.
I don't know just where I'm going
and tomorrow, it's a little overwhelming
and the air is cold and I'm not the same anymore
I've been running in your direction for too long now
I've lost my own reflection
and I can't look down if you're not there to catch me when I fall
She pushes stop, her hand shaking. Booth frowns and puts down his fork. "What's wrong, Bones?"
"I can't do this," she says. "I can't pretend that the last two weeks never happened."
He sighs. "I'm sorry that I didn't tell you myself," he apologizes again. "You're right, I should have told you. I shouldn't have trusted Sweets and the FBI to carry out such an important task."
"Were you conscious when we all came in to say goodbye?" she asks.
"Yes," he admits, shifting uncomfortably. "They were unplugging the machines because I didn't need them anymore."
"Didn't it occur to you from the things I said that I didn't know what was going on?"
"I figured that they hadn't told you yet. To keep it looking legit in front of everyone else."
She nods. His explanation does make sense, as much as she hates to admit it. "I guess what I said to you didn't mean anything then."
He looks startled. "Temperance, how could you think that?"
A chill runs down her spine at the sound of her given name falling from his lips. He rarely calls her anything except 'Bones' and those rare occasions are usually important. "You never mentioned it," she accuses, wondering when she slipped back in time to being an awkward teenager.
"I didn't want to put you on the spot," he says. "And... well... I didn't want to hold you to something you said when you thought I was dying."
It's her turn to look startled. "You think I would lie about something like that?"
"No, but..." he runs his hand through his hair. "Would you have said it if I hadn't been on my death bed?"
"I... I don't know," she says. "Maybe. Eventually. If the time was right."
He stands up and walks across the room to her. He takes her hand and pulls her up from the sofa. She looks up and sees something in his eyes that she's seen there a million times before but had never been able to decipher.
(Love is more than words.)
"Temperance, I'm sorry I hurt you," he says, his voice low and husky. His fingers brush her cheek and she lets her eyes drift closed, enjoying the feel of the heat radiating from his body.
"I know," she replies, leaning in to his touch.
He closes the distance between them and there's no more need for words.