A/N: This is my first attempt at a fanfiction. My perspective is of right after the shooting, with "Pain the Heart" not occurring due to time frame and plotting arcs. Your thoughts would be well appreciated. Even if only to say, "Never, ever write anything for public consumption again."
The waiting room was crowded. In some ways, it looked like a bomb had gone off. Except in this instance, when the people landed, they were arranged in these neat little rows. People sat or slouched in the uncomfortable, blue and chrome benches lining the walls. Six more lines of the hard, cold benches ran across the width of the room creating aisleways where the wounded, sick or drunk were sprawled. "Looks like some kind of macabre grocery store," Dr. Temperance Brennan mused. She watched as a man's gauze-covered hand dripped blood on the impossibly shiny tile floor. "Cleanup on aisle two," she thought ruefully. She closed her eyes and shook her head, "Gallows humor," she chided herself.
"When do you think we'll know something?"
"What?" she said startled, looking at Angela seated next to her.
Angela put her hand on Temperance's wrist and with a slight smile repeated, "Sorry sweetie. When do you think we may know something?"
Temperance took a deep breath and sighed, "I don't know. His injuries may not be life threatening. But I don't know…" She caught her breath and continued, "I kept pressure on the wound, so maybe his loss of blood will be minimal…" her voice dwindled. She looked at her bloodstained hands. "His blood" she thought. Her gaze captivated by the fingers on each hand as they caressed each other. As though the simple act of touching something that was once him could create that connection again.
"Here come the others," Angela said.
Temperance's eyes looked up to see the rest of her team coming towards them. She remembered Booth's voice, "The Squint Squad," he called them. A slight smile came to her face. There was Dr. Jack Hodgins, holding a cup of coffee in each hand. He was flanked on his right by Dr. Camille (Cam) Saroyan and on his left by Dr. Zack Addy. She was slightly surprised as Zack also carried a cup of coffee. "That's odd," she thought, "He normally doesn't drink coffee." Following behind was Dr. Lance Sweets, his boyish smile nowhere to be seen.
Jack leaned down and gave one of his cups to Angela. He gave her a quick smile and a kiss. "Any word yet?"
"Nothing since witchy-woman told us to be patient," Angela smirked, nodding at the admitting clerk.
Zach handed Temperance the cup he had been holding, "I thought you might need this, Dr. Brennan."
Temperance took the cup with one hand and squeezed Zack's hand with her other. "Thank you, Zack."
"Perhaps the fact that there is no news is good news," Sweets said. Everybody stopped and looked at him. Realizing his statement had focused the entire group's attention upon himself, Sweets continued, "I…I mean, there is still room for us to hope the news will be good."
A general murmur arose from the group. Temperance resumed her study of her hands. Jack sneaked a quick look at Brennan and then his eyes met Angela's. She took his hand and kissed it softly. Cam exhaled slowly, as she looked around the crowded waiting room. Zack took a seat next to his mentor. Each of them now understood fully the old cliché, 'Waiting is the hardest part.'
"It's been four hours," Temperance thought. "What is going on? Why don't' we know anything?" Temperance blinked away tears. "He's been in surgery for four hours now. Why can't they tell us anything?"
She looked around. The waiting room had cleared considerably. Only a few people remained. Those who were merely sick, without any visible wounds. Of her friends and colleagues, only Angela was still here, lightly dozing. Temperance had suggested they all go home and assured them she would let them know the moment she heard anything. She knew they wanted to stay here with her, for moral support. But also because they too considered Booth a friend. After some prodding and an absolute promise from her they had gone. All except Angela. "It would take five strong men to keep me away from you," she had said. The look in her eyes and, truth be told, Temperance's exhaustion didn't seem to make the fight worthwhile.
Angela started at Temperance's gasp. Wakefulness came to her quickly. She followed Temperance's gaze to the admitting desk. A group of people was standing by the desk, talking. A man wearing a tan trench coat and a couple of doctors and nurses Angela guessed; by their attire. Hospital scrubs. For no reason in particular, Angela's gaze zeroed in on one of the doctor's pants leg around the ankle. "Booth's blood" she thought absently. The man wearing the trench coat was tall…well-muscled…bald. Though she couldn't hear what they were saying, she could hear the man's voice; deep…authoritarian.
Brennan got up, "That's Cullen," she said. "Booth's boss at the Bureau."
Cullen and Temperance's eyes locked across the waiting room. She looked down at Angela, "I don't know how much he'll tell me. He doesn't like me." She moved towards the group, with Angela a few steps behind.
As they got closer, Temperance could see Cullen excuse himself from the medical staff. He held out his arm and hand, directing the two women to a place where they could talk privately. Or at least more privately than amidst a gaggle of doctors and nurses. Although, she could see the group made no move to disperse during this interruption.
"Dr. Brennan," Sam Cullen nodded.
"Director Cullen," Temperance acknowledged. Cullen looked at Angela. "Do you remember my colleague and best friend, Angela Montenegro?" Cullen nodded to Angela and turned back to Temperance. "He looks different." she thought. "Not mad…or condescending…or even intimidating." Temperance had seen him in all those states. And this was something else. "Concerned?"
"What happened?" he said softly; his deep voice striking a comforting chord within her.
Temperance started, hesitantly, "We were all out; celebrating the closing of a case at a kind of Karaoke / performance bar…"
Cullen interrupted, "Booth was at a performance bar with your squi…" He caught himself, "…your…team?"
"Yes…"Temperance answered, confusion beginning to etch its way into her. "I was up on stage, singing. And a woman who had been involved in the case came into the club and tried to shoot me. But Booth stood up and was hit accidentally by the shot." She had said the last quickly, in one breath. She stopped and took a breath.
Cullen looked at her appraisingly. "Why would this woman want to shoot you? She wasn't the perpetrator?" Cullen asked.
"No. During our questioning, she had become infatuated with Booth…kind of stalking him," Temperance said. She crossed her arms and looked to the floor. "But she somehow saw me as a potential rival for his affections…" she trailed off. Tying herself romantically with Booth, if only in conversation, she could feel the burn of a blush beginning.
Cullen looked at Angela. Angela saw the compassion in his eyes and slowly nodded. He turned his attention back to Temperance, "Dr. Brennan," he started, his hand on her wrist, his voice softer than she could ever have imagined. "This is not your fault. This may be difficult for you to hear right now…Booth wasn't hit accidentally. Agents are trained to present as small a target as possible to potential shooters. He stood up to try to shield you…make sure you were safe. At least as safe as he could."
It was too much for Temperance. Tears welled in her eyes. Her mouth opened in a choke. She shook her head from side to side. Angela went to her friend and placed her arm around her. Cullen held her wrist more firmly. "I'm telling you this not to place blame or guilt. But because it is something you should know…about Booth…and probably yourself. It wasn't your fault," he continued. "This was the result of a disturbed woman. Not you." Temperance's breath became steadier. "What happened to the woman?"
"I'm not entirely sure…it's kind of a blur," Temperance said.
Angela added, "When Booth fell, Temperance…I mean Dr. Brennan went to him and started doing first aid. It looked like the woman realized she missed Dr. Brennan and started aiming at her again. That's when Brennan picked up Booth's gun and fired."
Cullen looked back at Temperance, "You shot her?"
Fearfully, Temperance nodded her head and started, "I know you don't like me having a gun…"
Cullen responded, "No, no…it's not that. It's just that…well, it was a helluva shot. We all thought Booth had done it before he fell." Temperance shrugged uncomfortably. "Then what?"
"I kept pressure on his wound and kept talking to him, trying to keep him conscious until the paramedics arrived."
"You probably saved his life…making sure he didn't bleed out," Cullen said. Temperance's shoulders sagged a little and she tilted her head dubiously. "Okay," he exhaled, "I think that's all we need for the investigation."
"What about Booth's condition? They wouldn't let me ride in the ambulance…and nobody here will tell me what's going on!" Temperance said, louder than necessary for just the three of them. The admitting clerk looked up from her paperwork.
"Well, that's about to change," Cullen said as he gently guided Temperance, with his hand in the small of her back, over to the group of doctors. The familiar touch reminded her of the many times Booth had guided her steps.
"Ladies and gentlemen," Cullen said to the medical staff, "This is Dr. Temperance Brennan. From this moment on, she has complete authority regarding Agent Booth's care." Temperance and Angela's respective jaws dropped. Director Cullen withdrew some documents from his jacket pocket. "Agent Booth has listed Dr. Brennan as his 'Next of Kin'. As a designated agent of the FBI, I am turning those responsibilities over to her. He handed the documents to Temperance. "This is Agent Booth's Power of Attorney and Living Will stating that Dr. Brennan has the authority to make medical decisions in the event he is incapacitated."
Temperance couldn't find the words. She looked at the papers in her hand, and then at Cullen. He looked at her. She could see the trust in his eyes. Finally, she said, "Thank you."
Turning back to the doctors, Cullen said, "Now, I suggest you grab a conference room where you can fill Dr. Brennan in on Agent Booth's condition and treatment options, in private. Remember, Dr. Brennan is here with the full backing of the FBI. She knows what she's talking about, so don't try to snow her."
The medical staff began filing into a conference room just off the admitting desk. Cullen reached for a business card, "Here is my card, "he said as he was writing on the back, "This is my home number. If you need anything, don't hesitate to use this number. I'll tell my wife to be expecting a call." He gave the card to Temperance. As he did, he leaned in and whispered in Temperance's ear. She visibly gulped and, looking straight into Cullen's eyes, she nodded.
He turned to leave. "Wait…sir," she said, "You've always seemed so…" she searched for the correct words, "condescending towards Booth and my partnership," she finished. "Why are you being so nice?"
"Well, first and foremost, Booth would want me to." He continued, "I never had anything against you personally, Dr. Brennan." He turned his head towards the treatment rooms, although in his eyes he seemed to be looking elsewhere. "This isn't the time for anything but a unified front."
Cullen started to walk away when Temperance said, "Are there are other reasons?"
He said, "Remember a couple of years ago, when you and Booth were working a case with a woman burned up in a car?"
"Could you be more specific?"
"The woman's son had been kidnapped to prevent the husband from testifying to a Grand Jury investigation about bad body armor?"
She nodded her head slightly, "I remember…you called Booth a 'Paladin…Defender of the Faith…Protector."
"I heard what you said to him." Now it was Cullen's turn to nod slightly, "For reasons you don't know yet, you were right, in more ways than one." Cullen turned and walked out of the hospital.
"What did you say to Booth?" Angela asked.
"I said tough guys were very sentimental."
"Are you going to tell me what he just whispered to you?
"He said, 'Booth needs you. Take care of our boy'."
The two friends watched him leave.
"The patient presented at approximately 11:47 PM with an apparent GSW to his upper right chest…"
"The patient has a name," Temperance interrupted.
"Pardon me?" the nurse case manager asked.
"The patient has a name…He is Special Agent Seeley Booth. Please call him either Agent Booth or Mr. Booth," Temperance stated. Angela noted the unwavering coolness in Brennan's voice. She reached out and touched her forearm. Temperance's tone became less brittle. "Please call him by his name. He is not a statistic yet. He is a human life, hanging in the balance."
The doctors and nurses exchanged glances. The Department Head, Dr. Camarillo nodded.
The nurse began again, "Agent Booth was brought in by paramedic at approximately 11:47 PM with an apparent gunshot wound to the upper right quadrant of his chest. It was ascertained that he had suffered approximately 35 – 40 percent blood loss, Class III Hemorrhage. No exit wound was identified. Rapid infusers brought the patient's…" Temperance looked at her coldly, "I mean Agent Booth's blood volume was stabilized and he was then transported to the operating room."
The man in the hospital scrubs spoke up, "Once in the OR, we were able to better visualize the extent of Agent Booth's injuries." Temperance took a deep breath, and Angela squeezed her friend's arm tighter. "The good news is that the bullet did not pierce his lung. It appeared the bullet entered the clavicular head of the Pectoralis Major and Minor and embedded itself in the scapula. The bad news is that along the trajectory, it fractured the # 2 rib and fragments pierced the subclavian artery." Brennan closed her eyes. "We were able to repair the damage to the artery and remove what shell and bone debris we could find. Agent Booth is now in a drug-induced coma to minimize the chances of shock…"
Temperance opened her eyes. "What depressive agent was used?" she asked.
"A derivative of phenothiazine," noted the anesthesiologist. "We felt comfortable that the side effects in this case would be negligible. But he is on a respirator to help him breathe."
"What else?" Brennan asked, looking around the table.
The doctors exchanged glances. Dr. Camarillo began speaking, "We're not sure if there was any nerve damage either due to the wound or the surgery involved in repairing the damage caused by the gunshot." Temperance looked at Dr. Camarillo. He continued, "We'll begin weaning him off the phenothiazine. We'll know more in a couple of days. Until then, it's just a waiting game," he paused, and then continued, "I'll be honest with you, Dr Brennan, if Agent Booth survives, he's going to have a hard road back. I don't anticipate any loss of cognitive functions, but he may have some problems with his shoulder for quite awhile, if not for the rest of his life."
Temperance nodded her head. "Thank you." She looked around the table, "Thank you all for all of your efforts. And your honesty." Angela echoed Temperance's gratitude. "Can I see him?" Temperance asked.
"Of course," Dr. Camarillo said, "and we'll be in contact on an ongoing basis." With that, the meeting was over. The case manager offered to escort Temperance and Angela to the hospital's Intensive Care Unit. After a short walk through the hallways and an elevator ride, they arrived at the ICU.
For Temperance, the sight of Booth was almost overwhelming. She had seen people in ICUs before. She understood the necessity of the tubes, ventilators and monitors. But seeing Booth hooked up to them was painful. Her mind would always see Booth as the strong, vibrant, virile man that he was. The tube supplying air to his depressed lungs invaded and obscured that handsome face she had come to know so well. The strong arms that held her and made her feel safe were now hanging limp at his sides, tubes running out of them. He seemed so helpless. Temperance sat down by his bedside. She took his hand and held it between hers. She kissed his hand and held it to her cheek. "I'm here," she said softly. So softly, it was obscured by the ventilator. Tears rolled down her cheeks and fell on the bed. Her eyes closed as she held his hand and pressed it to her forehead.
Angela could see the agony in her friend's movements and quiet sobs. She felt an intruder; watching something private, intimate, and inviolate. But she couldn't bring herself to speak or move to comfort Temperance for fear of encroaching upon her friend's grief. She stood there in the doorway, tears coursing down her own cheeks, in silence.