Booth had caught her when he saw her trying to stand up in her own house. She was graceful even when falling, when trying to save herself with half-knitted bones that were still healing.
Then she was in his arms and he was trying to hold her somewhere that wouldn't give her pain. She was uncomfortable against his ribs but he welcomed the ache. It was a distraction from the healing scars up her side, the shiny red blemishes on otherwise flawless skin that had set this whole imperfect set of events in action.
He couldn't help but gasp when he saw them. The doctor had told him she had grazes and some cuts on her side but he always left the room when they were redressed to give her some dignity. He hadn't known the cuts would look that deep, the grazes that painful. It looked like bad carpet burn, something that, Booth knew, could hurt more than a gunshot.
Then it was as if a dam broke and he was crying, unable to stop, unable to let her go without having to face her, admit the guilt he had been keeping so firmly in check. To her credit she curled closer to him, moved his head to rest on his shoulder. He just wished he could burden her with all his weight, without worrying about rebreaking any of her healing fractures.
"Booth?" Her voice was soft, almost indignant, causing him to start stemming the anguish that had burst, of its own accord, free.
"Booth, what's wrong?" Her hand was on his neck, cool and calming.
"I'm..." He took a deep breath, felt the ache in his ribs intensify.
"Are your ribs hurting? Do you want me to look at them?" Her hand skimmed softly over the fabric of his shirt, delicate fingers searching for the pain in him, when the real pain he was feeling was somewhere untouchable. He grabbed her hand, stopped it.
"No, Bones, I'm fine." He knew she wouldn't understand, would never be able to decipher emphasis, no matter how over-the-top it was.
"Then...?" She stretched the word out and he left the silence to linger, simply enjoying being close to her.
"Bones, you." He would have to tell her. He'd tried hiding it but it hadn't worked. Ideally he'd wanted to stay away from her until she had healed completely so he didn't have to see her in pain, didn't have to feel the guilt that grew every time she winced or gasped in pain. But she was a magnet, drawing him towards her at all times.
"I'm fine, Booth." Her words were automatic, useless to him. It's what he had been hearing from her for weeks.
"No, you're not. You keep saying that but you think I don't notice how every little movement brings you pain? How you are so careful standing up and sitting down and why you let the squintern-of-the-week move the camera around whatever skeleton you're examining so you don't have to reach higher than your waist." His voice grew louder as he spoke and he stopped, breathing heavy, ribs pulling on each inhalation.
"I'm still healing, Booth. I will be fine. I just need time."
"Exactly. Time you shouldn't have to take if I didn't... If I had just kept my eyes..." Why was it so hard to tell her this? Why was it so hard to tell her anything? Seeley Booth had looked evil in the eye and invited it to take its best shot, but he couldn't look his partner in the eye and tell her what he was feeling. He was a gambler but there was too much for him to lose from her reaction.
"Wait, Booth, are you... Do you blame yourself for this?" Finally, the penny dropped. And she was the one to say it, to invite an answer rather than make him admit the whole thing. Somehow, that was easier.
"Of course I do!" Again, he was louder than he'd meant to be but it was such a relief to get the words out.
"Booth, it was a dog. A stupid dog that ran onto the road. If you could control the minds of dogs then you'd be doing a far better job than that guy on cable who whispers at them."
"The dog whisperer." His words were automatic, as if part of another conversation. He was actually surprised she'd ever seen the show. Chances were she'd read about it in one of the magazines Angela had brought.
"I know who he is." He was silently begging for her to say something, anything. Even if it was the wrong thing.
"Booth, it wasn't your fault. Not even a little bit. Even if you'd been looking at the road the whole time you still wouldn't have been able to stop in time. I can supply the math if you don't believe me." Here, she paused, but he still couldn't bring himself to speak.
"Booth." As always, she was persistent. He didn't want to look at her, was fearful of the emotion that always displayed so strongly in her clear eyes. Then her hand was at his cheek, forcing his eyes to her. She was so much smaller without her heels on so that he looked down into her eyes. He saw no blame, other than what he projected onto her.
"I don't blame you. And if it makes you feel better, I forgive you. I don't know what else to say. It was an accident! Accidents happen because things go wrong. With all the variables in the universe you can't assume something bad will never happen – actually you should assume it will. Statistically more people have car accidents than plane, train and tractor accidents combined."
"But Sully? He fought with you in the hospital, somewhere you wouldn't be if not for me."
"Don't be stupid, Booth." The disdain in her voice surprised him so much he looked back at her, stopped avoiding her eyes.
"Sully didn't leave me then. He came to see me when I came home, not long after we... fought. I wasn't going to give him what he wanted and now I can't ever so I decided it would be best if we didn't see each other anymore. It was something that was happening before the accident, it was just exacerbated by my hospitalisation." What was she talking about? Bones never talked in riddles or used metaphors to hide her meaning. But for once he didn't understand her – and all her words, even the ones with more than four syllables, he could find in his own vocabulary.
"What do you mean give him what he wanted?"
Her sigh was a prelude, but it wasn't a sad sigh, just a resigned one – he knew this was something she didn't want to have to tell him. But Bones was direct and truthful to the point of fallacy. And until she spoke he thought it was something he would want to know. "I was pregnant, Booth."
He couldn't process it all at once. When she'd spoken of family and laid a hand across her stomach; the last time he'd seen her whole and well before that goddamn dog. It was because she'd been carrying a life, a child. Her past tense and slim stomach told him she wasn't anymore and he wasn't surprised; she'd barely survived the crash, how could a still-developing baby have come through it unharmed?
He thought back over her last words, his repeated ones, still avoiding her eyes. She wasn't going to give Sully what he wanted?
"I was never going to keep the baby, Booth." It was as if she'd read his mind or, more likely, she'd calculated the speed of the neurons and synapses firing in his brain to be able to know exactly where his thoughts were.
"We'd been discussing it and I wasn't listening to him. I'd already made the decision, but he... He told me he wanted it, asked me to reconsider." Bones shook her head lightly. "I wouldn't. I was going to get an..." She trailed off and Booth knew it made her uncomfortable, her awareness of his faith and all it entailed. Then she cleared her throat, continued.
"At the accident scene they asked me if I was pregnant and I said nothing. I let them give me drugs that I knew would make me miscarriage. And that, Booth, is not your fault. It was going to happen anyway. It just happened sooner." Her tone was too matter of fact and again he looked into her eyes, as always marvelling at the colour; not quite grey, not quite green, not quite blue.
She didn't look like she was hiding anything, any great sadness. Only slight pain and he realised her captured left hand that he was holding so tightly was pulling on her shoulder blade and the right hand she'd rested against his face had to be hurting from its prolonged time in one position.
Gently he moved her arms back to her side and led her to the couch where she sat, moving until her pelvis was comfortable. She was the unbreakable Dr Temperance Brennan, but she had broken. He'd seen cracks appearing before. Watching her lover bring up old memories in front of a jury and judge simply to win a case. Rescuing her from his old partner who was ready to scar her with a pocket knife and feed her to Rottweilers. Arresting the man she was starting to trust, to form a relationship with, because he was a murderer. Standing with her while she'd watched her father and her brother leave, again.
But these were all emotional pains – her current situation was almost entirely physical. He'd just equated the physical to the emotional; to how he felt every time he saw her move, saw her hurt.
"Booth, say something." Always demanding, her finger was tapping his wrist, impatient.
"Uh..." He wasn't sure how to start, how to tell her this was a guilt he would carry to his grave for her, even if she didn't want him to. Then more of her words occurred to him - and now I can't ever. What the hell did that mean?
"What do you mean you can't ever?" Her eyes widened and again he could see it was something she didn't want to say, something he knew he wouldn't want to hear again. But he needed it all out, needed there to be no secrets between them.
"Because of the trauma, the doctor said it's very possible I won't ever be able to conceive." Again, she was too matter of fact and Booth unreasonably hated her for her rationality. But he did note the way her eyes slid away from his as she answered.
"The fact that I was even pregnant wasn't your fault – do you blame Sully for that? And a dog crossing the road wasn't your fault either – but do you blame the dog? What about the car or the truck that stopped? Do you blame the drivers?" She let the silence stretch again.
"If I was driving, Booth, the same thing would have happened." Booth knew this, at least, was one point she was very wrong about. If she was driving, he would have been the one trapped in the car, the one with multiple injuries, the one who had been listed critical when they got to the hospital. Why didn't he ever let her drive?
Booth stood and paced, still trying to let all the information she'd given him process. He could see she was itching to get up as well; she hated talking to him from a seated position when he was standing.
"There can't always be someone or something accountable, Booth. Sometimes things just happen." She sounded wiser than him now, older. He knew how much more death she had seen; the mass graves, the torture inflicted on war prisoners, the injustice she was forced to witness, years after the fact, to return loved ones to their families. If she held onto all that as he did... He wasn't sure what kind of person she would be.
"The only reason I told you all this is because there shouldn't be secrets between us. I didn't want to tell you. I didn't want it to change anything but it has. You're angry at me." Booth rounded on her, had to control his voice so he wasn't yelling.
"I'm not angry at you." Still, the words were snapped and he saw her recoil.
"Then..?" She spread her hands in a what the hell? gesture, awkward because of the way her wrist still couldn't bend.
"I've got to... I need to think about it." Booth needed to get out of her apartment, away from her eyes that he wished were censuring him, not absolving him. He needed to think it all through at his own pace, not at the lightning-quick rate she expected. She was making too much sense, making him want to believe it wasn't his fault. But he needed to decide that himself.
He didn't want to leave her but he had to, had to get some perspective on how much worse what had happened was. A life had been lost, and the ability to give life. Why didn't she care as much about it as him? Should he care enough for the both of them or follow her lead?
Booth sighed once, avoided her eyes again as he left. He closed the door quietly in her familiar hallway and started down the stairs. He was running away right now and he knew it but sometimes there were moments in your life when bravery was impossible.
xXx xXx xXx
Brennan still wasn't quite sure what had happened so she gave herself a moment on the couch before pushing herself awkwardly to her feet. Booth had been angry, that she knew. He always held his shoulders in the same way when he was angry and his neck tensed when he was trying to hide it.
But she wasn't sure why he was so angry. She'd told him it wasn't his fault. She'd forgiven him, too, trying to make sure she had all responses covered. Why couldn't he accept that? What else did he want from her? She certainly couldn't make time go backwards so she could make them take a different road on the day of the accident, as much as she might want to deny physics to get that outcome.
The Vietnamese was still in the kitchen, across an expanse of glass strewn floor. Brennan looked down at the glass then went to the hall cupboard. She returned with boots and pulled them on, unwilling to clean the glass up tonight. It would still be there tomorrow. Kicking through it she retrieved the food and got chopsticks out of her top drawer. She reopened the drawer and dug out a knife and fork for Booth. Just in case he came back, she'd leave him some food and have it ready for him to eat.
xXx xXx xXx
FIRSTLY: This fic is on a little hiatus while its creator is overseas. Around three weeks is the planned down time. Sorry, y'all, but this isn't an abandonment, just a break.
Yes, it's the same scene again. But I really wanted to show this from both Booth and Brennan's points of view since they do have incredibly different viewpoints. Sorry if it seemed like a repeat but the only things I kept the same were the words.
While I like Brennan more, I find Booth much easier to write. Probably because I'm not so science-y or rational. Hopefully it fit into what you think of him too.
This chapter was written to several tunes, including Gotye's new track 'Eyes Wide Open'. If you haven't checked him out, please do. His 'Like Drawing Blood' album is absolutely incredible, particularly the song 'Heart's A Mess.' It's pure muse for any fic writer. I've been planning to set a Bones fic around it but... Yep, I'm lazy. Here are some of the lyrics:
"Pick apart the pieces of your heart. Let me peer inside.
Let me in where only your thoughts have been. Let me occupy your mind... As you do mine."
"Your heart's a mess. You won't admit to it. It makes no sense but I'm desperate to connect. And you... you can't live like this."
Right? Is that not Booth to Bones? And it's all set to an incredibly chilled beat with some orchestral strings and other blips and beats thrown in for good measure. Absolutely amazing. Please, do yourself a favour and find it. And come back to check for the fic I'll eventually be writing for it... Or tackle your own.
And after you do come back and let me know what you think about the song (yes, there's the obvious leave-reviews-please plug) tweet/blog/FB your opinion to the world because he's an incredibly talented dude and needs more fans. And he's on twitter if you want to follow - gotye. Oh and, shameless plug, so am I - jambled.
Oh, and finally, I've hit a bit of a dead end here... How do I end this? This, right now, is where planning would come in handy. Damnit. Suggestions are more than welcome.