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Disclaimer: I borrow them to entertain myself and to get my muse to shut up. Once she does, I promise to return them unharmed.
Ch. 10 – Taking It Easy
Booth swallowed hard, a large lump in his throat that prevented him from speaking. His eyes held Brennan's gaze, her eyes still slightly glazed from the drugs. But even in her incapacitated state, her face still demanded something from him. Some words.
Opening his mouth, the only thing that came out was, "Hey."
Despite how ridiculous the word seemed to him after it left his mouth, it seemed to satisfy her, because she closed her eyes and a small smile graced her mouth. He finally managed to swallow the basketball that had suddenly appeared the moment she had opened her eyes and now words flowed freely.
"How are you feeling?"
"Yeah, that's the drugs talking. Do you remember what happened?"
"I was shot. And then you were here. You are really here, I'm not hallucinating?"
"No hallucinations, it's really me."
"Good, I thought maybe I was dreaming."
"You dream about me often, there Bones?" Booth asked, the teasing tone obvious in his voice. He was suddenly giddily happy, a side effect, he knew, of the sudden relief of the stress that had been overwhelming him.
"Yes, it's only the natural result of spending so much time with you, Booth."
"Really? I usually just blame it on the fact that I haven't been laid in a while."
Booth suddenly flushed, realizing what he had just said.
"Nothing. I should go get the nurse and let her know you're awake."
One eyebrow on her face managed to twitch upwards but she let his comment go. He was probably right in going to fetch the nurse and she had a feeling she didn't really want to know what "being laid" meant. She watched Booth extract his hand from hers and walk towards the door, her mind slightly detached from everything around her. Probably a result of the painkillers, she assumed.
He halted at her voice and did an immediate about-face.
"I'm glad you're here."
He smiled broadly, "So am I."
The next time she awoke, Temperance felt slightly less muddle-headed. She was also aware of a dull throbbing sensation in her shoulder and her leg. Evidently, the doctors had reduced her pain medication slightly. Shifting in an effort to be more comfortable, she was suddenly aware of the other presence in the room.
Booth sat in the only chair in her room, which was pulled impossibly close to her bed. He had folded his large physique into it, but his arms rested on her bed, pillowing his head. Flexing her fingers, she realized he was holding her hand. His breathing changed subtly and she realized he was waking up. She waited patiently until his large head turned up and his dark eyes, still heavy with sleep, swept their gaze over her face.
"Hey," he said his voice deeper with sleep.
"What day is it?"
"You're asking me?"
Booth rubbed his face with one hand tiredly and then glanced at his watch. He'd been in Kosovo for two days. Had it really been only two days? He felt like he'd spent years in the hospital, just waiting. He yawned and then turned back to his partner.
"How are you doing?"
There was a moment of silence.
"You're holding my hand."
Booth's eyes widened and he tried to gauge how much trouble he was in but Bones' face gave nothing away.
"Yeah, sorry about that."
"It's fine. It's... comforting."
Booth beamed and squeezed her hand lightly. She smiled back but rose a hand in warning.
"This ends the second I get out of here. You take enough liberties with my person as it is."
"Liberties with your person? What could you possibly mean?"
"Don't think I haven't noticed your hand on my back whenever we go anywhere. I've accepted it as a side effect of your being a tactile individual..."
"What do you mean textile? I don't work with fabrics."
"Tactile, as in you like to touch things to affirm their reality. And their continued presence."
Booth smiled inwardly at Brennan's very scientific dissection of his desire to make sure that she was always in arms' reach. It was easier to keep her safe that way. But if she wanted to make a rule out of it for everyone he came in contact with, he was content to let her do so. An oblivious Bones made his life easier.
"Ok, so no handholding after you get out of the hospital. Got it. Any other rules you want to lay down?"
"I don't think so. But could you get me something to drink?"
Booth poured a glass of water from the pitcher the nursing staff had left on a table nearby. Returning to the bed, he held the glass and the straw for Temperance while she drank deeply. Swallowing one last time, she leant back against the pillows of her narrow hospital bed. Her eyes drifted closed for a moment and then suddenly snapped open.
"They're ok," Booth reassured her. "I was wondering when you'd start thinking about them again. Glad to see some things never change no matter what happens. I had Captains Granger and Sommers bring them from the camp to the hospital. The coroner has been kind enough to set them in a corner of his morgue until you're ready to work with them."
"Thank you, Booth," she said sleepily.
"No problem, Bones."
Temperance spent another day drifting in out of sleep, Booth always there to reassure her and answer her questions. Most importantly he always held her hand. The next morning when she awoke her eyes were clear and Booth could practically see her mentally plotting the quickest way for her to get out of the hospital. He was unbelievably grateful when there were several sharp raps on the door and he looked up to see the familiar faces of the two young army captains he had dismissed three days ago.
"Jamie, Luke, it's wonderful to see you," Temperance said, her smile utterly genuine.
"It's good to see you as well, Dr. Brennan," Luke said, his smile just as wide.
"We're back to Dr. Brennan already?"
Brennan wrinkled her brow at being called ma'am, a gesture that made Booth chuckle internally.
"You look much better," Jamie said, his expression visibly relieved to find the anthropologist without all of the frightening medical extensions with which she had initially exited surgery. Turning to look his partner over, Booth had to agree with the younger man. Her blue-green eyes had regained the sparkle that was only a small indicator of the intelligence that lay behind them. Moreover, her complexion had recovered from its frighteningly white stage. In fact, she appeared to be almost flushed.
"I feel a great deal better, thanks, Jamie. I should be out of this bed in no time."
"I wouldn't get to hasty there, Bones," Booth cautioned, alarm bells ringing in his brain. "The doctor told me yesterday that he thought at least two weeks of bed rest would be best for you."
"Why was my doctor divulging information like that to you, Booth?"
The special agent exchanged discreet looks with the two army captains indicating that he had not yet informed his partner about his lie. Telling Temperance that she had gained an imaginary husband while she was in surgery was not something he wanted to do just yet.
Turning back to the woman in the bed, he replied quickly, "My charm smile works on others besides you, Bones."
"I'm sure," she said wryly.
The visit continued for another fifteen minutes until Temperance began to nod slightly. The two young men took that as their cue to exit but as they headed out, Luke indicated for the special agent to join them. Squeezing Brennan's hand lightly, Booth extricated his fingers gently from her grasp and joined the two men in the hallway.
"What's up?" he asked casually, ensuring that he could still see Temperance through the open doorway out of the corner of one eye.
"We brought Doctor Brennan's things with us," Jamie said, holding up a familiar bag she frequently used to house the basics of her forensic kit, as well as a rolling suitcase Booth had never seen before.
"Thanks, she'll appreciate having clothes that don't have an open back," Booth said with a smile.
"We also went back to... the mountain," Luke said, his mouth set in a grim line.
"Find anything?" Booth asked, eager to get the bastard who'd injured his partner.
"He didn't police his brass," Luke said, holding up a clear plastic bag with two empty rifle cartridges.
"Definitely not a sniper," Booth said, more to himself than anyone.
"Hmm, we also managed to find the other bullet."
Booth's eyes widened in respect. The two men must have spent at least a day searching for the single bullet that had passed through Bones' shoulder. Temperance obviously had a charm that rivalled his own.
"What kind of shape was it in?"
"See for yourself," Luke said, holding up a small specimen jar that contained the small metal projectile. Although the head was flattened, the rest of the bullet was in miraculously good shape.
"You guys are amazing."
"Thank you," Luke said. "You'll let us know if we can do any more to help her?"
"You'll be my first call."
"Good. See you around, Agent Booth."
Booth nodded and then watched the pair walk down the hall. They truly were amazing. He made a mental note that if they ever left the force he would do everything he could to make sure that they got a good job back home. Maybe something in the FBI.
He was distracted from his thoughts by a new and loud beeping coming from Temperance's room. Rushing back inside he expected to find the worst and instead only found her sitting up slightly and looking extremely peeved.
"Are you ok?"
"I was perfectly fine until that obnoxious beeping started."
Booth opened his mouth to reply but was interrupted by arrival of one of the nurses with a doctor close on her heels. The doctor strode quickly to the bedside, checked the machinery that was beeping, flipping a switch that turned the alarm off, and then took Brennan's pulse. The nurse stood close by, the forensic anthropologist's chart in her hand. Releasing his patient's wrist, the doctor accepted the chart from the nurse and scribbled a few things down. Finally, he turned to the two pairs of questioning eyes trained on him.
"Doctor, what was all that about?" Temperance asked, her tone polite but obviously annoyed.
"Your temperature has gone up a few degrees."
"Obviously, with everything that's gone on your husband hasn't informed you of some of the complications with which we are concerned. One of the foremost is infection and any change in your body temperature is a definite indicator that something may be going wrong. We're going to test your blood, attempt to determine if this is bacterial or viral and then move forward from there."
"I see. Thank you, Doctor."
The physician nodded and then exited while the nurse approached with a syringe and empty blood vial in hand. Temperance watched with interest as the needle was pushed into a vein while Booth averted his gaze. The vial filled quickly and after applying a cotton ball to the inside of Brennan's elbow, the nurse also exited.
Temperance waited until it was only the pair of them in the room again before she exploded.
"My husband! What were you thinking?"
"I can't believe... no wait, I can. But husband?!"
The auburn haired woman paused in her ranting and turned her blazing eyes on the man at her bedside.
"First of all, stop yelling. Someone will hear you and very quickly conclude that I am not your husband. And that would lead to me being summarily kicked out. Did you ever stop to think that it is only possible for me to sit here with you if they think I'm immediate family? That I can only find out what's going on with you medically if I pretend to be your husband? Did that brilliant mind of yours ever think about that?!"
"No," Temperance said, her anger subdued.
"Well, I did. So, I lied. Now, if you have a problem with that, that's just too damn bad because I'm not about to come clean. I need to be here. Not just for you. I need to be here for me. Do you understand?"
"I think so."
"Good, now how about you just lie there and do everything within your considerable power to get over this infection and bring your body temperature back to normal?"
"That's all I'm asking."
Booth's ears rung and he realized that the jeep had been propelled forward a few feet by the force of the blast. He quickly jumped over the passenger's side door, army instincts kicking in. He crouched low to the ground and withdrew his pistol from the holster at his waist. Assuring himself that he was under no immediate threat of attack, and that instead they had only been the victims of a land mine, he stood up and ran to Hank's side.
"Hank! Hank! Dammit, Hank!"
The man groaned but said nothing else.
Booth felt panic welling up within him but pushed it back down. He quickly evaluated his friend's injuries. Hank, amazingly had not stepped on the mine, as his legs were still intact. Booth guessed that perhaps he had kicked a weighty rock onto the explosive, which had caused it to detonate. Unfortunately, Hank's luck had ended there. There were large gashes and cuts all over his body from the shrapnel thrown out by the bomb. But even worse was the fact that he had landed on a large, pointed rock which had penetrated the area of his lower back. Booth swore profusely at the sight of his friend lying prone. He knew Hank's wife, his kids. He could not go home to tell them that he had watched their father die.
He was about to run to the jeep for the radio when he heard the roar of a jeep approaching. Looking up he saw that they were far closer to camp than he had initially thought. He could see the tents from where he was crouched next to Hank.
"Hang on, old man, help's coming," he said, more to reassure himself than the groaning man next to him.
He then hung his head and stared at his hands. They were covered in blood and now the music from the birthday party again played in his mind. Somehow he couldn't prevent the thought that Hank was being punished for the kill that Booth had taken that day. He began to rub his hands in an effort to clean them but the blood refused to come off. Rubbing with all of his strength it seemed only to cause the blood to seep into his pores, turning his hands a frightening shade of red. He was bloodstained. Permanently.
Booth woke with a start. He sat up attempting to figure out what had changed that had caused him to awake. He quickly realized it was because Brennan had let go of his hand in favour of a medical chart. Her own medical chart, he realized.
"How the hell did you get that? Please tell me you didn't get out of bed."
"I didn't get out of bed. Jamie gave it to me when I asked. You slept through his and Luke's visit. Also my phone call with Angela. You are definitely a heavy sleeper, Seeley Booth. Where are those lightning-quick sniper reflexes? I thought you slept with one eye open."
"Funny. So how are you doing?"
"Pretty well, considering. My temperature is almost back to normal, which I think means I should get to go to the morgue."
"But Booth, it's cold there. If anything, it'll help bring my fever down."
"Even I know that's not how it works. No."
"No. The bones will still be there even if you have to wait another week to see them."
"A week?" Brennan practically whined.
"That's what the doctor said would be the earliest he would allow you to leave your bed."
"Booth, as my 'husband', don't you think you could negotiate that down to say, two days?"
"I am not negotiating with your doctor."
"Alright, if you have a normal body temperature for four days consecutively I will see what I can do about a field trip to the morgue."
"I'll take it."
"Good. Now what are those?" Booth said, indicating a monstrous bouquet of flowers that had taken up residence next to the bunch that the Jeffersonian squint squad had sent.
"I think the mighty FBI investigator would recognize flowers when he saw them."
"You're just a riot, you know that, Bones? Who are they from?"
"I don't know. The nurse just put them on the table. She didn't give me the card."
"Well, let's see who your secret admirer is, huh?"
Brennan watched with a bemused smile as Booth sauntered over to the new flowers and plucked the card from amongst them. His wide grin slowly disappeared as he read it.
"Booth, what is it?" she asked, concern evident in your tone.
"Hope you've learned your lesson," Booth read. "Now take your dark-haired knight back home. Those bones aren't as precious as your life. Next time, you may not be so lucky."
I'm leaving it there for now. Sorry for the lack of things happening here but Temperance needed some time to start healing. I promise more action next chapter. And more characters than just Booth and Brennan. But for now, just press that review button and let me know what you think. You know you want to. All the cool kids are doing it.