This is for Alanna1231, who asked if I had some thoughts on "Aliens in a Spaceship." What was in the note? What was Brennan thinking even as she put on that brave face for Hodgins? She had that moment right at the start when she thought she was alone in the car-- complete, utter terror. But it passed as soon as she heard Hodgins moan. I thought of what Brennan told Angela, too, in "Woman in the Garden." That brief flash of terror she showed as she recounted her capture, before she steeled herself again and put on her brave face-- what prompted her bold and seemingly fearless encounter with Ortez at the Hoover? Brennan is the master of not showing what she is thinking, once she knows there's someone who needs her to be brave, or who she needs to have see her as brave. Here's what I think she was thinking. And Alanna? I'm sorry if the ending is angsty, but... well, I never was happy with the transition between "Aliens" and "Witch in the Woods."
No. No. No.
Not in the dark again.
Not alone again.
No, please, no. Oh, please, don't make them come back like last time.
I can't... can't. No.
What? No? No. A car? Dirt?
Oh no. No. No.
Keep it together, at least keep it together for Hodgins. Do not lose it, Temperance, not while he's conscious, not while there's still something more you can do to try to save him-- or at least make him feel like there's something he can do. He doesn't need to know what it feels like to give up hope. He doesn't need to know what it means to be alone, to think you're alone at the end. Don't let him feel alone at the end. If there's an end, let him feel like he fought. You can do that. Keep it together. For Hodgins.
Breathe. Ignore the burn at the base of your skull that hurts almost as much as the time your first foster father burnt you with that cigar while he held you down so you couldn't escape. Breathe. Just not too deeply. Breathe just enough. Just enough to keep it together.
Keep it together for Hodgins. You can't let this bastard win, can't let him hurt someone you're responsible for-- at least more than he's already hurt. You can't let that happen again. You can't hear his cries of pain like your dig mates in Serbia, the ones they whipped when you whipping you didn't make you tell them who you'd ID'd as the victims.
Do not let him see your hands shaking. Grip the steering wheel until the shakes pass. Do not let him see that you're more scared now than that time in El Salvador-- at least then, they had some idea where you were being held. Unless you can get it together, no one will know where you are this time. No one will know all the things you never say because you're a coward. No one will know how much they mean to you, you won't have the chance to at least be a better friend, more attentive, even if you can't say it out loud. Do not let the fear get the best of you until you're alone again, for better or worse.
Keep it together for Hodgins. You hired him, you hounded him for that data. If it hadn't been for you, he would never have come after you in that parking lot-- he would never be in this predicament with you. It's your fault. You can't give up until you have exhausted all avenues of inquiry.
Do not cry. Do not let him see you cry. He will give up if he thinks you think it's hopeless. Firm that chin, explain to him that you're going to carve him open as if you were describing how to cut vegetables for a salad. He is used to hearing you explain things, tell him how the data all fits together. He will listen to you, trust that you understand the larger picture, and that if he just cooperates, the pain will recede if you succeed.
Perhaps this time you can make the trust he showed in chasing after you actually mean something.
Please succeed-- please let the pain recede. Please, please, let it work.
Think think think think. He's still breathing, the bleeding's slowing. Think think think. Is he still breathing? Think. Is his bleeding still slowing? Think. Breathe. Think. He's been out almost ten minutes.
Please. Please. Please.
Think think think. You can't bounce ideas off of Hodgins, that's not what he does. He's not the other half of the equation, the thing that makes the sum from all the factors you put together for him. He's the one who knows if it's a multiplier, a divider, how it adds up. He's the forest and you're the trees, as he said once after too many beers.
You're trees. Camera. Water. Telephone. Leatherman's tool. Those are trees, too.
What do they mean? How do they add up? Think. Think. You have to at least figure out what bunch of trees you're in if you're going to help Booth locate the forest.
Think. Please. Think.
Oh. Oh. Oh. Thank you.
Thank God you didn't kill him. Thank Booth's God. Please, Booth's God. Please, Booth.
Forest, trees. You can do trees. Find all the trees, maybe you can get to the forest if you just find enough trees.
You're starting to get low on oxygen if you're thinking mostly in metaphors.
Look. Look around you. Camera. Water. Telephone. Laser pointer. Leatherman's tool. Pens. Book. Flashlight. What else?
At least you're not blindfolded this time, in the dark, not knowing how much time has passed, when they're coming back, if they're coming back, what they're going to do when they do come back. Stop thinking about that. Think about this. At least your hands are free-- you can see, you can talk, you can assess what's in front of you, do something, do anything. You can give Hodgins more time. Think.
Trees, Temperance, trees.
Keep it together, make Hodgins concentrate. He needs to get home. He needs to get to Angela. Angela needs someone who loves her the way she deserves. Zach needs someone to take him under his wing-- Hodgins is so good at drawing Zach out in ways you just can't do. Booth will do more than blame himself if you don't help him save Hodgins. He wants this bastard. You have to help him save Hodgins. You can't let him down, can't let him fail when it's not his fault. If you don't give him trees, he can't find the forest, but he'll blame himself anyway. You can't let him do that. He works so hard, tries so hard, is the only person who thinks, who cares, who needs to fix things as much as you do. You can't let him think he's failed, when it's because you can't keep it together.
Keep it together. Keep it together. For Hodgins. For Angela. For Zach. For Booth. Don't let Booth fail, don't let him down. They need him, he needs to keep going. If you can get Hodgins out of here, he'll know that he did what he could. Even if you can't get out of here, and face it, you'll probably have to use that pen knife to buy Hodgins the extra oxygen he needs if it comes down to it.
How to tell them where you are?
Car horn. Test it. It works.
Keep it together. Make Hodgins do what he does so well-- make him give you the data. You don't know what these particulates mean, but he does. Make him pay attention. Make him distract himself from the pain. You've always been able to drive the people working for you to get results they wouldn't find without your pushing them, asking them questions. Use that stare people call "scary and icy and piercing" to make him identify where you are. Keep it together.
"Tell me something I don't know." Your voice sounds so calm and even. You'd believe in yourself, if you couldn't hear yourself thinking.
Perfume. Keep him talking until he calms down enough to analyze.
Laser pointer from class.
He knows. He knows. He knows. You know. You got him to tell you.
Breathe. Just not too deeply. Again.
You know where you are.
Speed dial number 1.
Booth. When did you rate him number one? When he became the forest.
When was that? It doesn't matter. Damnit. Think. Focus focus focus, Hodgins is waiting for you to tell him what to do next.
Press, press, push on that horn like you're Booth in traffic when it's raining and he's honking the horn because you're yelling at him that your remains will be compromised. Push through the horn, if it will give the phone every bit of energy it needs to get that message to Booth.
Booth. Please have your phone. Please, Booth. Know it's the trees, that's all you can give him right now. You have more trees in here, we can last a bit longer if you can just think about how to get more oxygen, how to keep Hodgins thinking about how to get us more oxygen, but Booth, you're going to have to get Zach to tell you what it means. Please, Zach. You know the elements better than I do, you're better at materials than me, that's one of the many reasons I hired you. Please. Think, Zach, do that almost unspeaking communication you and Hodgins have. Think clearly. See what the message means and tell Booth. Please. Listen to Booth when he asks you what it means.
We have an hour? Maybe we can find more oxygen.
Trees. Think. More oxygen.
Knife in the Leathermen's tool, the same one you didn't kill Hodgins with.
Is that rear seat solid? This is an old car, like our old one. That fabric in the middle wore right through until the cold air from the trunk practically froze you and Russ that winter when Mom and Dad were saving up for a new car.
It's not solid.
Reach, reach, reach, your arms are longer and thinner than Hodgins' arms and he's weak from the blood loss.
Reach, stab, stab with everything in you, stab even harder than that guard who finally, foolishly left that stilleto within reach after he thought you were unconscious again.
Harder than that. Harder, for Hodgins.
It's in. It's in. It's in.
Air. Air. Air.
Breathe. You can breathe for a few minutes. Breathe.
Is it going to work? How many cubic inches of air are in that tire? What is the approximate tire size for a vehicle of these dimensions? Think, think, think. Maybe thirty minutes. How far are you from the lab if Booth drives full out with the lights and siren-- he doesn't usually like to do that, it's dangerous, but he won't want to let Hodgins suffocate, not if Zach can tell him what the message means. How long will it take Zach to figure out what the message means? How long will it take Booth to ask Zach the right questions? Cam can't do it. She sees some trees and a lot of bark. You see all the trees, even if they're all at eye level, not the overview like Booth has of the forest. But you're still the one who identifies all the trees, asks the rest of the team the questions that allows you to say this leaf, that branch, this bark... they all equal these trees. Booth takes it from there. He knows what kinds of trees make up a forest.
"What you've got is faith."
Faith. You gave up hope a long time ago, long before this ever happened. Maybe a week after Russ left? That was the last time you hoped. You don't do hope, or faith. You only do facts. You have facts.
You gave Booth facts, if the message got to him, he will find you. You just have to give him enough time to find you. You know he will. You just have to get air so Booth can find you, find Hodgins.
Stop wandering. Think. What next? We have to conserve air.
More oxygen. Find more oxygen. Find more time.
So tired. So tired. What else, what next, what then. Come on. Think.
Water. Water has oxygen in it. How do you get it out? Conserve air.
Talk to Hodgins. Push him. His practical chemistry is fresher than yours. You know your team's strengths. Push him. Distract him. Don't let him have time to be as afraid as you are. It's what Booth would do. Keep doing it.
Camera. Battery? Brilliant. Make Angela give him a chance. Give him a raise, even if he doesn't need it.
Breathe. More air. Breathe.
How much time? How many units of oxygen could be releasee from a reaction of that size? How long? Ten minutes? Twenty minutes.
Battery chargers in the trunk.
Stiffen that chin. Smile. Act excited. He would stop you from plunging that knife into your veins at this point anyway. It might work. It could work. It will get him out of here if it does work, if you didn't get Booth the facts in enough time for them to figure it out, for them to find the two of you.
"Anyone you want to say goodbye to?"
No. No. No. Oh, no. You were looking at trees all this time, and the forest was right in front of you. Now you make an intuitive leap. Oh. It doesn't matter now, you can't do anything right. And you can't do anything larger than what's right in front of you, you've got tunnel vision anyway. But oh, it would have been nice, even for a little bit. Though you would have messed everything up. You always do... Hodgins wouldn't be in this car with you if that wasn't the case.
You write the note anyway. Say goodbye anyway. Maybe Hodgins was right.
If you read this then I've failed to get you the information you needed to get Hodgins and I out of here in time. I'm sorry it took me so long to figure out where we were. Please know that it isn't your fault, and that we both knew you did everything you could, between you and the team, to find us.
I hope you catch him. I hope you keep catching them all.
I'm sorry I won't be able to keep helping you with your list. I'd have liked to help you see the end of it-- make the way out of your forest, to steal your metaphor from you.
Thank you for being my partner. Thank you for being my friend. Thank you for letting me help you on your cases in the small ways I've been able to. Thank you for helping me so much, and for making me let you.
You've talked about black magic, and God, and love at first sight, all sorts of things I'm too cynical to believe in. But you believe in them, and that's enough for me. It has been, for a while now. I'm sorry I couldn't get us enough air to tell you I'd have liked to try to believe in some of the things you do. Faith's not easy to have-- you're stronger than I am. But I have faith, though it's silly at this point to say so, that I would have been willing to try to believe in some of the things you do, if you wanted to-- especially the love part.
I would have liked to try. I'm sorry it took me until now to figure it out.
Fold it. Put it in the book. Do it before you lose your courage, you coward. Stiffen that lip, and move on to the next thing. Hold out. Hope you make it-- that you have time to decide if he would have liked to try, too.
Give them as much possible time to find you—until you can't wait any longer.
Stop crying, you need to see clearly, touch those wires sharply so the explosion is forceful enough to work.
Please. Please. Please.
Eyes closed, mouth shut.
A hand grabbing yours.
You knew it.
His arms around you.
He's back, he's smiling at you.
Yes, you have faith. In him, if nothing else.
You have time to decide. Does he want to try, too?
"I knew you wouldn't give up."
"I knew you wouldn't give up."
You have faith. In him. You have time.
And then as you watched that axe murderer video, trying to refute that ridiculous Maggie Cinders story, just that very next week, that hand, his hand, the hand grabbed you and pulled you out of that hole-- he took her hand instead. Her hand, not yours.
At least he still wanted to work with you. You had that fact-- that tree. A weak, scrawny sapling. But a tree, all the same.