She stayed. Even when every fiber of her being told her to run, she stayed. She remained with him during the testing. She held his hand as the doctor explained the results – a brain tumor. She observed his surgery, all the while wondering if he really understood what he was asking her to do. She sat by his side for four days as he lay in a coma, listening to the reassuring tones from the monitors. And still, there was the voice in the back of her head telling her to leave, that if she stayed she would get hurt. However, this was Booth lying in a coma. She couldn't abandon him no matter how much she wanted to protect herself.
So, she wrote to escape while remaining firmly in place. She wrote to keep her thoughts from drifting to that other time, the time when she thought she had lost him for two weeks. She didn't know where the story had come from, her secret desires perhaps. She wrote and she read aloud to him of another life, where they weren't just together, but married and expecting a child. It was unlike anything she had written before, which in itself was a little disconcerting. Even more disturbing to her was the spotlight it shone on her deepest feelings for Booth, feelings she had avoided acknowledging to this point. Those feeling, the ones that she had no reason to believe he shared, were so frightening that she had barely finished the book before deleting it. Another click of the mouse and her laptop's recycle bin was empty. She only wished she could dispose of her unwanted feelings so easily.
Staring at the now blank screen before her, she caught a slight movement out of the corner of her eye. The movement was followed by a groan. By the time she reached his bed, he was mumbling so softly she had to strain to hear what he said. She spoke, explaining that his surgery had been a success, but due to a reaction to the anesthesia, he had fallen into a coma. Reassured when he seemed to understand what she was saying, she began to relax. Until. Until he spoke again, words that pierced her.
Who are you?
She backed out of the room, rambling on about getting his doctor, making phone calls, anything that would keep her away from him. While the doctor examined him, she stood just outside his room, out of his sight. Listening to him answer the doctor's questions – what's your name, age, the year, occupation, etc. – the voice in the back of her head was screaming so loudly, she could barely hear his answers. All at once, the voice silenced as he asked to doctor where Bren, his wife, had gone. Just as quickly, the voice screamed again, "RUN!" Without a backward glance, she was sprinting toward the elevator, jabbing the call button repeatedly until the doors finally opened. Rushing into the elevator, she pressed the button to close the doors.
Not sure how it happened, she found herself standing next to her car in the parking garage. Patting her pockets, she felt her keys and her cell phone, the only two items she needed at the moment to get far, far away. Again on autopilot, she found herself driving toward her apartment, as fast as the traffic and speed limit would allow.
She had never been more thankful for investing in the optional Bluetooth in her vehicle than she was in that moment. Running through her contacts, she began making calls to find a dig as far away from DC as possible. She started with colleagues working in Africa, then Asia. With nothing available in those regions, she moved onto South America. Nothing. Parked outside her apartment building, she made one final call to a colleague working in Central America, in Guatemala. The project was in its final days, six weeks remaining, but had just lost an anthropologist to a death in the family. They would be grateful and honored to have Dr. Brennan participate.
Relieved that she now had a purpose, she grabbed her phone from its cradle, dialing Cam's number as she made her way to her apartment. Cam was at the hospital with Booth, so she called Cam's office phone, where she could leave a message and not have to talk to her boss.
"Cam, I'll be taking a leave of absence, effective immediately. I've been asked to join a dig in Central America. Booth's doctors assure me that he will make a full recovery, so I see no need for me to remain here. I will be in touch."
There was a slight distortion of the facts in her message to Cam, but, upon occasion, this type of thing was necessary.
As she began packing, she realized she had left her bag and her laptop in Booth's hospital room. A quick call to Angela was all that was required to retrieve them. She wouldn't need to get them herself. With years of experience behind her, she knew how to pack efficiently, using only one rolling suitcase and her weathered messenger bag. Another call, this one to her travel agent, to book her flight and her preparations were complete.
Angela was surprised to see her best friend, standing at the curb, suitcase in hand, when she delivered Brennan's belongings. She was even more shocked when Brennan requested a ride to the airport to catch a flight that departed in just under three hours. Stunned into silence by Brennan's rapid-fire speech about Booth's recovery and her presence needed at a dig, Angela nodded her agreement to Brennan's request and was soon driving her to the international terminal at Dulles. With a hug and a promise to email, Brennan was dashing into the terminal, leaving a speechless Angela staring at her as she disappeared into the throng of people just inside the doors.
The flight to Guatemala City was long, but she had been on longer. Normally, she would pass the time by reading or working on her current manuscript. Neither of those activities held her attention for long. Napping was impossible between the constant chatter coming from her seatmate and the constant chatter from her brain every time she closed her eyes.
She replayed the day's events (had he just awoken that morning?), analyzing his answers to the doctor's questions, her resulting actions. Not usually one to second guess herself, she wondered if she had been too hasty in her retreat. Perhaps she should have stayed, reminded him of who she was, who they were to each other. And therein, she discovered, lay the problem. She was no longer sure of what they were to each other. Until she could be sure about that, she decided, this was the best course of action. Her constant presence would only confuse him more. If she were honest with herself, it would continue to confuse her, as well.
The light snoring of her napping seatmate pulled her from her musing. Opening her laptop and then a new document, she decided to try one of her tried and true methods for analyzing a situation – a list of pros and cons. The list of cons grew by leaps and bounds, but ultimately it was all variations on a theme – damaging her current relationship, call it partnership or friendship, with Booth. The sole item on her pro list – she might be happy – couldn't cancel out the sum total of the cons.
There it was, in black and white, proof that she and Booth couldn't be together, even if he felt the same as she did. And so it was, that with her objective, compartmentalize her feelings for Booth, and a timeframe, six weeks, firmly in mind, she continued on her current course, certain that she was doing the best thing for everyone involved.
Her first week on site was not as distracting as she had hoped. Joining an established dig meant that all of the prep work and set up had been completed before her arrival. Her sole purpose was to examine the exhumed remains. Unfortunately for her, the timing of her arrival coincided with a lull in their recovery. She was sorely tempted to examine some of the earlier finds, but feared it would be viewed negatively by the other anthropologists present. In the past, she wouldn't have considered how her actions would be viewed by others. That she did now was further evidence of Booth's influence on her.
By Friday evening, Brennan questioned the value of her presence at the dig. She had examined one of set of unremarkable remains and contributed nothing new to the findings. The only value she seemed to be providing was her name. She was aware that her participation guaranteed a certain level of prestige and had come to realize that her colleague was willing to bring her in just for that. Faced with another five weeks spent as aimlessly as this one, she considered returning to DC, but decided to remain for at least another week.
The second week passed much as the first did. She was asked to verify findings on remains that were discovered before her arrival. Unfortunately, this did not fill her days as she had hoped. While her colleagues socialized in the evening, she began planning her next novel. By the end of the week, she had a solid outline and had begun writing the first chapter. She wrote and then deleted an email to Angela knowing that contact with Angela would lead to information about Booth. She was trying to put her feelings for him into perspective. She would be unable to do that if she was worried about his recovery, even from a distance. She needed to be thinking of him less, not more.
On her second Friday evening spent in Guatemala, her colleagues were gathered in the common area, talking, laughing, music blasting. In the past, she would have been with them, feeling more comfortable with like-minded scientist than she did anywhere else. Instead, she sat alone in her tent, staring at her blank laptop screen. Her thoughts still strayed to Booth more often than not and a distraction would be welcome. However, the thought of having to be 'on' for other people was more effort than she was willing to give.
So, she sat and stared at her laptop, willing herself not to email Angela or, even worse, Booth. She stared at the blank screen, fingers hovering above the keys. Instead of diving back into the world of Kathy and Andy, she began typing a letter to Booth. Pouring her feelings onto the digital page, knowing he would never see it, felt cathartic in a way that writing had when he was comatose. When she finished, she saved the document in a folder, planning to never look at it again, seemingly compartmentalizing her feelings in a literal fashion.
At the end of her fifth week in Guatemala, she came to a realization – time away from him hadn't lessened her feelings. She was still in love with Booth, who had confused her with a fictionalized version of herself. Worried that his feelings might have been influenced by her unintended confession, she vowed that she would remain silent. Opening herself up to him would be the same as inviting rejection, potentially damaging their partnership beyond repair.
She had gained the perspective that she had been seeking. She was sure that she loved Booth. She had also gained confidence during her time away. She was confident that she could keep her feelings hidden from him for as long as necessary, even if that meant indefinitely.
A week later, she was sitting on a plane, flying home to DC. Once the plane reached cruising altitude, she retrieved her laptop from her weathered messenger bag, intending to work on her final report for the dig. There had been some interesting discoveries, but no ground-breaking finds. For her, however, the trip had served its purpose as a distraction. At least it had for the first few weeks. Then, about mid-way through her time in Guatemala, she realized that she missed her work with Booth. Somewhere along the way, that work had become more fulfilling than her work with ancient remains. Rather than analyze the causes, she tucked that piece of information away to examine at a later time.
Hearing a soft beep, she realized that her laptop had finished booting up. Opening the documents file, she let the mouse hover over the letter she had written to Booth for a few seconds before moving it and opening the file containing her notes from the dig. She began to read over them, mentally planning her report.
At some point, her thoughts drifted from her notes to her time in Guatemala and her feelings for Booth. While she normally avoid being metaphoric, she had begun to view her trip as time in a bottle, isolated from her everyday life. She (metaphorically) put her thoughts and feelings about Booth in a (metaphorical) bottle and corked it. It would remain corked, unless there ever came a time that she was sure that he returned those feelings. In the meantime, with those feelings contained, she felt able to return to their partnership and pick up from where they had left off before her hurried departure (fevered escape). Tucking the (metaphorical) bottle away again, she returned to her notes and began her report.
She was startled into alertness by the voice of the flight attendant requesting that all passengers stow their electronic items in preparation for landing. She was pleased to see that her report was almost complete as she saved the document and shut down her laptop before returning it to her messenger bag.
As she deplaned, she realized she was excited to see Angela. She had forwarded her flight information to her best friend earlier in the week. Angela had immediately replied that she would be thrilled to pick Brennan up from the airport.
Brennan was still somewhat annoyed as she walked into the lab, pulling her suitcase behind her. Angela's side trip to meet with her psychic was a complete waste of her time. Avalon might have touched on a few sensitive spots, but it was guesswork and nothing more. Nothing the psychic said had any real meaning to her and would easily be forgotten.
After speaking with Cam and Hodgins, she walked into her office, finally feeling like she was home. She was tired and feeling a little grungy after traveling through the night and wanted nothing more than to collapse on her couch and relax before checking her email, after which, she planned to go home and shower.
It was an obvious sign of just how tired she was that she didn't sense his presence as soon as she entered her office. It wasn't until she went to sit on her couch and encountered something other than the cushion that she realized he was there. Jumping up and exclaiming his name at the same time, she found herself pulled into a hug at the same time she was pulling him towards her. She practically melted into him, letting herself enjoy the closeness that was so much more than a 'guy hug' but so much less than an 'I love you.' When she felt him begin to pull away, she gathered herself, once more in partner mode.
After another detour (distraction) by Angela, Brennan headed home to shower and then meet Booth at a supposed crime scene. Supposed because it was Avalon who alerted Angela to the bodies that were supposedly buried under the Taversham Fountain. She would have ignored Avalon, but Booth was anxious to return to field work and she couldn't tell him no, not when it meant so much to him to feel normal again.
This case had left Brennan with a strong feeling of dissatisfaction. She liked to present Caroline with a case that was solid, airtight, one that assured a conviction. However, this case was anything but that. Fargood would literally get away with murder. There wasn't any physical evidence to tie him to the murders, even though all of the circumstantial evidence pointed to his guilt. As she and Booth walked, discussing the case, she worried about him, about how he felt knowing that Fargood would escape prosecution.
With a hand on her arm, he stopped her forward progress, insisting that he had something to tell her. Interrupted by their clown encounter, he hesitated for a moment before continuing. For an instant, a flash of hope coursed through her as he said "I love you" only to be almost simultaneously beaten down when he followed with the words "in a professional, atta girl kind of way" and a tap to her shoulder with his fist. She knew then she had been right to conceal her feelings from him, feelings that he obviously didn't share. Jumping back into the moment, sensing the awkwardness at her lack of response, she returned the sentiment in an "atta boy" kind of way, also followed by a fist to the shoulder.
An interruption by Caroline, a ride to the Hoover, a conversation with Avalon, all served to distract her thoughts regarding Booth's 'confession.' Later, however, alone in her apartment, surrounded by artifacts from around the globe, as well as two figurines – Brainy Smurf and Jasper the pig – given to her by Booth, she relived the moment over and over again. Convinced that she had been right, that he didn't share her feelings, she (metaphorically) pushed that corked bottle further back on one of her (metaphorical) mental shelves. The last thing she needed was for that bottle to be knocked off its shelf and shattered, releasing her feelings that she had struggled so hard to contain. The last thing she needed to do was to tell Booth of her feelings and risk pushing him away. She'd rather have him in her life as a partner and friend than not at all. Confident that she had made the right decision, she went to bed, falling asleep almost instantly, dreamlessly, contentedly.