Title: Not His Time
Spoilers:References Two Bodies in the Lab/Aliens in a Spaceship, and a few other BB moments, but no major spoilers.
Disclaimer:I own nothing. If I did, things would be very different, lol. I also do not own the episode "Drowning on Dry Land" from Grey's Anatomy.
Summary:Booth goes missing, only to turn up on the brink of death, testing Brennan's faith in him. This is a one-shot, and it doesn't fit into any season, so put it where you want. It's a hurt/comfort/angst piece.
Author's Note:This was obviously inspired by the episode "Drowning on Dry Land" from Grey's Anatomy and yes, there are similarities, I won't deny that. This story is yet another dream that I had, which in turn produced a plot bunny that would not stop hoping around my mind until written down, hence the HUGE delay in posting another chapter of The Bones in Vegas. So enjoy this story, and I'll get back to my other one.
Five hours, twenty three minutes and fifteen seconds. That's how long Booth had been missing.
One hour, ten minutes and thirty seconds. That's how long it had been since Cullen had last called her with an update, which only consisted of him telling her the same thing he had told her before; next to nothing.
Six hours, five minutes and ten seconds. That's how long it had been since she had last spoken to Booth.
He had told her he would be fine, that he would call her later. He never did. His cell phone went dead, his car missing, gone, without a trace.
Despite her persistent effort, Cullen would not let her go to Booth's last known location. He sent out a search team, they found very little. Booth's superior insisted she stay in the lab to review the evidence, that it was just as important as looking for Booth. As the hours passed he would call to tell her of their progress, which was minimal.
With each passing hour her worry grew.
She looked down at her watch again. Five hours, twenty four minutes and five seconds. Dr. Temperance Brennan stopped pacing her office to look out the window, watching the snow fall as a tear ran down her cheek.
It had happened a few hours ago, or at least he thought. The last time he had seen a clock was between crushing blows to his skull, from a fist, during the torture they had decided he deserved.
He shivered in the cold dark room he was in, bound and gagged in a chair. He wondered if it was snowing again, if it was snowing in the city. The town he had been in was buried in snow. He wondered if he was still in the town.
Booth remembered following a suspect out to a popular starting point for snowmobile runs, and then it all went black. He had woken up here, wherever here was. Since then, they, whoever they were (though he was fairly sure it was his suspect and others connected to the case he had been working), had beaten and tortured him for his knowledge, and then again when he refused to talk. They got frustrated when he wouldn't break, not knowing of his previous experience with torture while in the army.
Booth wondered what would come next, when it would end, how it would end, if it was his end.
He wondered if she was looking for him, if she even knew he was gone. He prayed she wouldn't come after him, he couldn't bear to see her captured as well.
Special Agent Seely Booth heard the footsteps on the stairs behind him, and prepared himself for the pain to follow.
Her cell phone rang and it took her a nanosecond to answer it, "Brennan."
"Dr. Brennan, it's Director Cullen."
"Did you find anything?" she asked, the desperation audible in her voice.
"We're still following up on a few leads-"
"And that's all you can tell me right now," she finished for him, "I can't stand this anymore! I want, no need to be out there looking for him!"
Her resolve and nerves were breaking.
"Dr. Brennan, I've got every available agent out there. Just stay in the lab-"
"No! I've done everything I can here! I'm going crazy waiting, I need to be looking!"
"It's not safe."
"I don't care!"
"You need to care about your own safety."
"I care about finding Booth!" she yelled, slamming the phone shut and whipping it at her couch.
She clenched her fists at her sides, breathing shallowly while trying to choke back her sobs.
Brennan didn't hear Angela in the doorway, only felt the arms of her best friend wrap around her.
"They're going to find him Sweetie," Angela murmured into Brennan's hair.
The anthropologist gently pushed the artist away, "I have to look for him Ange, I can't stay here anymore."
"Do you want me to come with you? We can take Jack's car, it's good in the snow."
Blindfolded, bound and gagged, Booth lay alone. Instead of another round of torture, his kidnappers had roughly forced him out of the dark room and into the confinement of the trunk of a car. Where he was being taken he could only guess.
It was frigid now, and if it weren't for the gag in his mouth, his teeth would chatter. His dress shirt was no match for the sub-zero temperature. He could hear the snow crunching under the tires, and shifted as the car made another turn.
Why had they moved him? Were the FBI or Squint Squad closing in on his location? He could only hope. Or were they taking him somewhere even more secluded to torture or even dispose of him?
Booth tried in vain to roll over again to face the trunk's opening. He wanted to try and kick out a tail light, or even the lid itself, but the small space would not permit him to move very far, much less bring his wide shoulders around.
So the car rolled on, and Booth had no choice but to be an unwilling participant on it's journey.
She starred blankly out the window as the SUV sped on towards her partner's last known location. She felt helpless. The evidence her team had gathered was not enough to provide any more facts, any more leads. She had to rely on her own instincts now, rely on the FBI to find it's brother. She hated not being in control, not knowing what to do next. The snow swirled outside her window as the thoughts swirled in her mind.
He had always been there for her no matter what. He had saved her life on several occasions. Yet could she do it for him? Could she find him like he had found her?
What if she let him down? What if she didn't get to him in time?
She shook her head telling herself those were irrational thoughts. They would find him.
Time ticked away as she glanced at her watch: six hours, five minutes and two seconds. It felt like an eternity.
The trunk was wrenched open and the wind sent a chill up Booth's spine. They grabbed him roughly, forcing his feet down into the snow, forcing him to shuffle forward, his legs still bound together. He tried to feel out in front of him (they had tied his arms in front, he was grateful for that), but his arms were pushed back down.
They were on an incline, he could feel the ground receding, feel a man on either side of him, guiding him, but to where?
Wherever they were, it was quiet, only their footsteps and breath made any sounds.
They guided him further on and he slipped a little. Ice. He had hit ice, but was it just a patch? He tried to feel with his feet.
"This is where we leave you Agent Booth. I would wish you luck, but I don't think you'll be having any of it," a male voice said from behind him.
And suddenly the men at his sides pushed him forward and he was falling. Then he heard it. The sickening crack of the ice as his body hit it, the sudden descent and then the mind numbing cold, the suffocating cold.
The water rushed around him, and he flailed in his constraints, trying to find the surface.
His head broke it for a second and he gasped for air through the gag before he was plunged under again.
Up and down he went, the terrifying see-saw movement of the drowning victim.
He couldn't breathe, and every movement seemed to take twice the effort. But his mind screamed one thing: survival.
Booth forced his limbs to move, forced his body up, broke the surface again and shoved his arms out.
They hit solid ice and he dug his nails in. Luckily, the ice held and he awkwardly, slowly, clawed his way up, forcing his upper body onto the sheet, convulsing with cold.
He lay half in, half out of the water, gasping for air, clinging to the sheet of ice for his life.
From somewhere in his memories his mind offered him a fact: stay awake. If he succumbed to sleep he would die of hypothermia. He had to stay awake.
Seven hours. Exactly seven hours ago Booth had gone missing.
The town she was in, a small tourist spot outside of D.C., known for fishing and hunting had yielded no new information, nothing the FBI hadn't already known.
Angela joined her in the car, cranking up the heat.
"We'll find him Sweetie, we will," she offered her friend the same mantra as before.
Brennan's cell phone chirped and Cullen's number lit up the screen. She answered, expecting him to chew her out for leaving the lab. She was surprised at his greeting.
"We found a cabin one of the suspects had recently rented. One of the agent's found Booth's cell phone, gun and ID there."
"But not him."
"I'm sorry Dr. Brennan, but it helps. We've also got his face all over the news, everyone knows who to look for. We'll find the sons of bitches who took him, and we'll find Booth."
She hung up and told Angela the news. The artist's face showed optimism at the latest development.
Her own rational mind still offered doubt. She sensed Cullen wasn't telling her everything.
Two snowmobiles tore through the quiet forest, the riders unaware of the days events, the missing FBI agent or his fate.
Lily's snowmobile sped along behind her boyfriend Kent's. The trail was one of their favourites. It was off the beaten track, not used by many others. But having grown up in the area, they knew it well. She saw him slow ahead of her and then he signalled for her to stop. She pulled up beside him and he pointed to some tracks while lifting the visor on his helmet.
"Looks like someone went down that hill," he commented.
"Doesn't that lead to the lake?"
"Yeah, and there's thin ice in that area. We should go down and make sure no one's in trouble. Go slow okay?"
She nodded. They replaced their visors and followed the fresh tracks down the hill.
Kent stopped at the bottom, glancing around for anyone else in the area.
And then Lily gasped, "Kent! Someone's out on the ice, looks like he went through!"
He followed her line of vision and saw it.
A man was maybe ten feet out, clinging to a thin sheet of ice, his legs dangling over open water.
But something wasn't right. Even from the land both could see he wasn't in typical gear, and something was covering his eyes.
Kent raced to his snowmobile, pulling out the pack he had strapped to the back. For once he silently thanked his father for making him bring the emergency kit. He ripped the zipper open and pulled out a coiled rope.
"You can't go out there," Lily gasped.
"Hey! Can you hear me?!" Kent yelled to the man. There was no response, "He probably can't move, one of us has to bring him in."
"We should call for help first."
"Our cell phones won't work out here."
She took the rope from his hand, "I'll go, I'm lighter."
"Be careful," he kissed her and she stepped out onto the lake. It held and she went a little further before dropping to her belly, distributing her weight as evenly as possible. She shimmied out to the man.
As she got closer her mouth dropped open. This man was bound and gagged, and rapidly turning blue.
"Sir? Can you hear me?" she said, gently removing the gag from his mouth and lifting away the fabric covering his eyes. He looked like he had been beaten. She gently felt for a pulse and found a faint one.
Lily nudged him, "You've got to open your eyes, talk to me, I'm here to help," she urged him.
"Hurry Lily!" Kent called from the side.
She worked quickly, moving the man slightly to tie the rope around his middle. As she shifted him she saw his mouth move slightly. He was trying to speak.
"What is it?" she asked as she finished tying the rope.
"B-b-o…" he stuttered slowly, his eyes barely opening.
"Bo?" she repeated, then shook her head, "Kent, help me pull!" she called to her boyfriend.
She knew they had to get him help soon, or it would be too late.
Around her FBI agents and crime scene specialists combed the small cabin. In the centre she saw the chair he had probably been tied to. Evidence markers held the places of where his gun, badge, and cell phone had been found, as well as droplets of blood found on the ground. Brennan shuddered at the thought of what might have happened to her partner, now missing for over eight hours.
"Brenn, they said they're following some tracks they found now. But when the sun goes down they'll have to stop searching for the night," Angela told her, laying a hand on her friend's shoulder.
"But if they stop for tonight….no they can't," she replied, shaking her head.
"They said they'll keep a helicopter out, but it's going to be to cold for anyone to keep looking. You know if Booth's out there, he'll find a way to survive, he has his army training."
Brennan nodded slowly, "Booth will survive, he won't give up."
"No, he won't," Angela echoed.
The door to the cabin opened and an agent burst through, walking rapidly towards the anthropologist.
"Dr. Brennan! A broadcast just came over the radio. A man fitting Booth's description arrived at the hospital about ten minutes ago."
The drive to the hospital took forever, even with a police cruiser leading the way, with sirens and lights blaring.
Angela screeched to a halt in front of the ER entrance and Brennan jumped from the car, running inside.
At the triage desk she frantically looked around for someone to help her.
"Excuse me! Excuse me! I need some help over here!"
A nurse approached her, but not with the speed she wanted, "Can I help you?"
"I'm looking for a man that was brought here about twenty-five minutes ago. Someone gave his description to the police as fitting the missing FBI agent's profile."
A look of frustration covered Brennan's face, "Well is it Agent Booth?"
The nurse picked up a chart and read over it again, "He fit's the physical description, but he had no ID on him."
"Does he have a tattoo on his left wrist?"
"Actually, I think he does."
"That's him! Where is he? Is he alright?"
"He's with the doctors in the ER. He was brought in with severe hypothermia among other injuries. Some kids who were out on their snowmobiles found him and called it in."
"Where is he?" she persisted, not even hearing the other information.
"Down the hall to the left-" the nurse pointed but Brennan had already taken off, "Hey, you can't go down there!"
She ran down the hallway turning her head from left to right looking in windows, looking for Booth. She could see a trauma room ahead of her and as she got closer she saw many people inside, hovered around a patient.
She reached the window and looked in. The patient was blocked by the medical personal and she waited, willing someone to move.
When they finally did and she could see, Brennan gasped, the colour draining from her face as she pushed open the doors.
"Booth…no…" she whispered, "No!" louder, and the doctors turned to face her.
Booth lay on the table, but everything about him was wrong. He was pale, too pale, with a blue/white hue to his skin, which was offset by the dark grey patch that had formed on his nose, along with the bruising around his eyes, and fat lip. His features were slack, punctuated by the tube coming from his mouth, and the other tubes and wires protruding from his arms and chest. He was covered in blankets, and IV bags of warm saline hung around him.
But what scared her the most was the loud, high pitched wail being emitted from the machines around him, the flat line on the screen, and the sight of the doctor compressing her partner's chest, while another ordered a round of drugs, drugs which she knew were only used to try and bring someone back from the brink of death.
"Ma'am, you can't be in here," a nurse told her, trying to guide Brennan out of the room.
"That's my partner! I need to be here," she pushed away from the nurse, trying to get to Booth's side.
The doctor performing CPR compressions looked down at another nurse, "How long has he been down this time?"
"Nearly ten minutes," she answered, not sounding hopeful at all.
Brennan didn't miss a word of their exchange, didn't miss the undertone of what the nurse had said; Booth's heart had stopped, and it wasn't the first time. She knew they were thinking of calling a TOD.
Booth couldn't die. Not the tough FBI agent she knew, the man who was always strong for her. She didn't know what she would do without him, if she could go on without him.
"You have to try again! You can't stop now," she demanded, "He's strong, he'll make it…he always does…" she burst, and the tears streamed down her cheeks.
She thought of all the times he had saved her, never given up on her. She couldn't give up on him.
Despite all logic, all reason, her mind was telling her he wasn't gone yet, that it wasn't his time to go, not now.
Brennan had the full attention of the doctors, "Please, please. You have to keep trying…he's got to make it…Booth, you have to come back, please come back…"
The room was silent except for the wail of the heart monitor.
Continuing with the compressions, the doctor gave her a compassionate look, then glanced back at the nurse.
"Body temperature?" he asked her.
"Just under ninety."
"He has a chance, but he's got to fight. Push another round," he ordered, resuming compressions with a new found strength.
They injected his body with more drugs, forced his heart to pump, tried to warm his body, and she stood there, silently pleading with him not to go. She felt completely helpless.
But the heart monitor continued to screech, continued to show a flat line.
The statistics rolled through her head, taunting her. After three minutes without oxygen the brain begins to die. Booth had been down ten minutes, thirteen now, and more before she got there. He could be brain dead. If they did bring him back he might be in a vegetative state for the rest of his life.
The doctors began to look tired, hopeless. Was it even worth it anymore?
The tears rolled down her cheeks.
The compressions began to get slower, they were giving up. She hung her head. She was too late, she had failed him, failed to be there when he needed her the most.
And then the heart monitor stopped wailing.
But instead of the sickening sound of silence, of death, small beeps filled the room.
Through the tears in her eyes she saw the rise of the lines on the screen, heard the steady rhythm the beeps began to take on.
"I've…I've got a pulse," breathed a nurse.
"Heartbeat is rising," the doctor whispered.
The room was silent except for the beeping, as if talking would break the spell, send reality crashing back down.
The doctors and nurses began to work, taking vitals, replacing an empty bag of saline, and she stood there, starring at the screen, entranced by the lines it produced.
Finally she was able to form words, "Will he be alright?"
"Only time will tell. His body temperature is still low. We'll know more when he wakes up," the doctor replied, while signing off on a chart.
"Can I stay with him?"
He nodded, "He can still hear you."
She approached her partner's side slowly. The nurse moved a chair over for her to sit on and Brennan collapsed onto it, still in shock.
He still looked to pale, to weak, to unlike Booth for her. She reached down and took his hand, and then the entire weight of the situation hit her, and she broke down sobbing, laying her head on his chest.
"Booth…you've got to come back Booth, please…come back to me, don't leave me Booth…"
Two hours, twenty one minutes and five seconds. That's how long she had been sitting by his side.
Temperance Brennan refused to move, refused to let go of his hand, refused to do anything but sit there, watching and waiting for Booth to wake up.
Angela slipped quietly back into the room and to her friend's side.
"Sweetie, is there anything I can get you?" she asked gently.
The anthropologist shook her head, "I'm alright."
"What did the doctor say? I just saw him leave."
Brennan smiled a little, "His temperature is up again, ninety six degrees, that's good."
"Yeah, that is good."
"Angela," she looked up at her friend, "Am I being irrational to believe that he'll make it? Is it irrational and illogical of me to think that it's not his time? Especially since I don't even believe in his faith, in a time. It's just that I can't help but feel it. I can't explain it but I know that if he…you know…that if he…" she couldn't bring herself to say it, but Angela nodded, "That I'd feel it somehow. It's not rational Angela, but I believe it."
"Brenn, it's called faith, and it doesn't have to be rational. You have a connection with Booth, of course you'd know if something happened to him, that's a special thing. You don't have to explain it, just cherish it."
Angela had seen first hand that connection many times. But only two short hours ago had she witnessed it from Brennan at its full power. She had seen Brennan break down at Booth's side, pleading with him not to leave her as she sobbed. She knew there was something more between the partners, even if neither would admit it.
"Listen Sweetie. I'm going to go call Jack with another update. I'll be back in a few okay?"
Angela squeezed Brennan's shoulder and left the room again, leaving Brennan and Booth alone.
Three hours, forty five minutes and ten seconds had passed since Brennan had started her vigil at her partner's side.
She was sleeping, her head resting on his chest, listening and lulled by the steady rhythm of his heart when his eyelids began flutter.
Suddenly he emitted a soft groan, jolting her own eyes open.
"Booth?" she sat up, watching his face contort slightly, "Booth? Can you hear me?"
He made an unintelligible noise again, and she caressed his cheek, encouraging him.
"Booth, open your eyes," she whispered, "Say something, anything. Please…"
"B-oh-s…" he slurred.
She could feel new tears slipping down her cheeks as he said her nickname and she vowed to never tell him to stop calling her that again.
"I'm here Booth, right here," she held his hand.
Slowly, he opened his eyes and they immediately found hers.
"Bones…" he whispered, squeezing her hand back this time.
When he said her name she began to sob again, this time in joy, in thanks, as her head returned to his chest.
Propped up by pillows and still cocooned in blankets, Booth watched his partner return to his room, handing him a Styrofoam cup.
"Careful, it's really hot," she told him.
"I don't think anything will be to hot for me anymore," he replied, "I'm thinking about taking a vacation to Florida when I get out of here," he tried to joke.
"You look better," she told him, noticing how the pink had returned to his lips, how his cheeks had a rosy tinge to them, and the colours of his bruises were becoming more defined.
And she let her eyes fall away from his as a picture of him only hours before flashed through her mind.
The change in her demeanour had not gone unnoticed. He put the cup down on his table, and reached for her hand. This time it was her hand that was cold, and he rubbed it with the warmth that had returned to his own.
He knew that despite his laps into sleep, she had only left his room to get him something, otherwise she never left his side. He also knew that she had been crying, the tear stains on her cheeks telling him what she had tried to hide when he slept. In his drug and hypothermia hazed memory he faintly remembered waking up, muttering her name, and his Bones sobbing on his chest. In that moment he remembered almost being able to feel her vulnerability, her quick erratic heartbeat on top of his steady one.
He had passed out again after that, and had woken sporadically over the next few hours, but she had always been there.
"Bones?" he whispered, still clutching her cold hand. He saw the tear drops fall from her cheeks, but her head was down, her hair curtaining her face. He also realized she was shaking.
"Bones?" a third time, "Talk to me, what's wrong? I'm right here."
He reached out and crooked his finger under her chin, forcing her to look at him. When she did, he saw the sorrow, the fear, in her blue eyes.
"I-I just keep thinking about today, about almost losing you…"
"But you didn't, I'm here."
She shook her head, "I almost did Booth, and I couldn't help you, I couldn't save you, even after all the times you've saved me…I'm sorry Booth…"
"But you did save me."
She met his eyes again, looking a question into them.
"You didn't give up on me, you were there, I could feel you. I just kept telling myself I had to get back to you," his voice dropped to a whisper.
"I couldn't give up on you …I…I don't know how to explain it, but I knew it wasn't your time to go…"
Booth's eyes glazed with his own unshed tears. He pulled her towards the bed and she fell into his embrace, revelling in how warm and how alive he was. He held her and kissed the top of her head.
"I'll never leave you Bones, I promise."