Memories of things to be
She knew she wasn't supposed to be good with analogies, or at least that people didn't expect her to. But she also knew there was some of that ability in her—after all, she was a world famous writer, and her novels were not papers for journals... they were books for the average person.
So when she ran the natural sponge over her skin she didn't feel wrong for thinking she was cleaning not only her physical body, but a little bit of her mind as well.
She needed it. She was more tired than she'd admit to anyone. Not only because of what had happened these last weeks, but was also getting tired of her everyday routine. Suddenly, the lab wasn't enough to make her feel accomplished.
And it was all his fault.
She had changed since meeting him. She wasn't the same woman she was a month ago, a year ago, 5 years ago. She had changed, very slowly at first, then suddenly a lot—to then be so scared by those changes she'd had to hold back and avoid the turning pieces. She tried to stop, to deny, to hold on to what she thought she was happy being. But after several opportunities in which she faced the possibility of losing him, she had no choice but to accept what she felt for him was more than friendship, loyalty and trust: it was love. That elusive term suddenly made sense, like it was waiting for him to show her what it really meant.
And she wasn't sure she was happy about it.
Her skin felt thin now, a rose tinge to it after scrubbing it. As she poured water over herself to wash the lather, she avoided thinking how she could make another analogy in which he was the sponge and her defenses were her skin—him thinning them by the motion of being there, next to her.
Maybe it was too late to stop the analogy.
What she knew for sure was that since she'd met him something had happened to her. It had spiraled down since that day in which she'd answered the phone and his voice had reached her for the first time, so official and business-like, an amazing contrast to his affectionate and sometimes passionate voice of late. Somewhere in between, she'd gone through a metamorphosis of the way she understood herself and the world so stunning that she would have thought it impossible if not evident to her own experience.
Yes, Booth and what she'd lived with him had changed something in her. Now he was asking—proposing something else, something which would make that change definitive.
She unplugged the tub stopper and dried herself before applying a body lotion, a routine so part of her everyday she didn't even register she was doing it.
If only she could feel comfortable in her own skin. That would make the choosing easier.
Memories of things not lost
"We know it's not amnesia. We know he's not going through some kind of delirium, and the MRI came back negative for inflammation or internal bleeding." Her eyes locked with his through the window's glass, worry lines on his face, as she listened to the doctor's voice outside his room. "We don't think this is the consequence of the surgery, at least not in a physical aspect. We still need to do neurological, psychiatric and psychological tests, but... I think we can rest assured in the fact we've ruled out the most severe medical conditions fitting with the symptoms."
Rest was definitely something she needed, but didn't feel like she'd have any soon.
"What are his symptoms?"
The doctor seemed a bit shocked with her question, like he assumed she'd seen enough to classify them by herself. But replied nicely enough, anyway.
"Well... He's disoriented, confused... has some problems with his memory. We're hoping for the psychiatrist to come and do some more tests in the evening, so we can finally set on a diagnosis and decide the treatment. I've been told you're usually around; are you planning on staying here until the psychiatrist arrives, Dr. Brennan?"
She wanted to be by his side, she wanted to run and escape. She wanted to let Angela take care of him and wanted to never let him out of her sight.
"I suppose I will," she let out finally.
The doctor, a young man of around her age, looked at her with what she thought was understanding.
With a hand on her shoulder, he tried to lead her a bit further away from the room, so she wasn't looking at Booth while they spoke.
"Dr. Brennan... sometimes, when a loved one is ill, the situation for the caregiver is as hard, if not harder, than for the patient. I hope I'm not intruding here, or assuming wrongly, but—you have to know it's ok to need to have your own space, to rest, to put the weight of the situation in someone else's shoulders once in a while. If you need to go home for some time, you should really do so."
She allowed herself to close her eyes for a moment. He was giving her an escape valve, a way of not feeling guilty if she were to decide to leave the hospital. She must have given herself away, made it obvious to him that even as she knew she'd stay, she wished they weren't going through all of this and they still were going on with their lives.
Well, if she'd shown that part of her to him so clearly, then she'd have to show him the part of her that would never leave Booth's side when he needed her.
"Thank you, Dr. Stevens. But I'm staying."
The doctor looked at her for a few seconds, serious, as if trying to guess her reasons. Then he simply smiled at her and gave her a nod.
"Ok, then. Since you'll be around him today, I have to tell you to please avoid confronting him. Remember, he's confused and he won't understand some things or won't be able to remember some others. It's not unusual for these symptoms to go with sudden mood changes. Whatever you tell him, the trick is in saying it calmly. I'll be seeing you, Dr. Brennan. Anything at all, tell a nurse to let me know."
Patting her shoulder once in probably a too condescending gesture, he simply turned and went away.
Breathing deeply, as if she needed to gain strength—and maybe she did—, she turned and walked into his bedroom. He was still looking at her with the same expression he'd bore the last time she'd looked at him.
"What did he tell you, Bren?"
She started a little after hearing the way he'd called her. With an effort, she didn't remain frozen in the spot she'd been at when he'd spoken, but reached his bedside. He'd never called her like that before—that was Angela's way of calling her. From him, she'd learn to expect the familiar Bones she used to dislike so much in the past.
Trying to be calm in consideration of the doctor's advice, she ignored what she could so easily call a simple detail—if she compartmentalized it.
"He still needs some other tests to be sure of what the problem is, but if everything goes fine, we should have an answer this evening."
"That's good, isn't it?" he asked as he reached for her hand again. "Any idea of when I might be released?"
"Booth," she said, not noticing her eyebrows had been raised. "You just woke up from a coma after a brain surgery... I'm not sure it's wise to expect to be ready to go home so soon, especially considering how there's a condition still undiagnosed."
He closed his eyes and let out a small sigh. "I just want to go home with you, Bones."
This time her eyebrows furrowed in a mixture of longing and confusion.
"I would like to take you to your home, too," she squeezed the hand over hers.
His eyes snapped open and his head turned to her, a look of suspicion in them.
"What do you mean, my home?"
"Your apartment, Booth... corner building, second floor?"
His eyes cleared for a moment, only to then look troubled again. "Yes, that's my place but... what about ours? I..."
He was moving his head in a continuous slight negative motion, struggling to comprehend. She was holding her breath, almost as confused as he was. Their place?
"I don't understand... we..." he took his hand from between hers and massaged the bit of exposed skin under the bandages, the cables and catheters swinging with the motion. "We... are having a baby together, aren't we?"
His eyes had focused on her again, straight and hard, like he hoped for her to have all the answers.
But she didn't. She didn't understand how things seemed to be fine and so completely wrong at the same time, all the while the images of what she'd wrote on her laptop while waiting for him to wake up flitted before her eyes.
She'd written them together, happy, as she told him she was pregnant, his face radiant in the completion a child brought to their lives...
Shaking her head quickly in a small movement, she erased that memory. Her brain quickly provided her with an answer to this particular bit of confusing information: he still thought they were going to go with the plan of trying to have a child, as she had requested short before he'd been taken to the hospital.
"No, Booth, not anymore."
His face showed an alarm she didn't expect. "What do you mean, not any—"
He shut his mouth suddenly, forming a crisp line.
She breathed deeply again, trying to regain some kind of composure, her hands wriggling—the doctor had told her this, he'd explained he'd be confused and emotionally labile. She had to be strong, hold his gaze steadily, make him feel like he could trust her and lean on her if he needed to.
"Bones... you were never pregnant, were you?"
"No. I wasn't."
"But I saw you. You told me. We were at The Lab."
"The lab? When? We barely spent time there in the last case before we had to come to the hospital, and we hadn't been discussing the baby thing for longer than that," she hated to see she hadn't been able to completely disguise a pleading tone in her voice.
He didn't answer, still looking at her. She felt the weight of the situation almost physically over her shoulders, even if she knew that to be impossible. Yet, she felt it. Just like the irrational duality pulling her in such different directions: she wanted to be there for him no matter what, all at the same time as a small worm of shameful wish to retreat, that this would prove to be too much for her in any moment, crept to her stomach again.
But she fought it. And she stayed.
He seemed to have come to a resolution at the same time, for he closed his eyes yet again, letting his hands fall to his sides.
"I don't understand. I just don't. And I think I can't try to, at least for a while."
"It's ok, Booth. Don't force yourself. There'll be time to set everything in its place," she said with a conviction she wasn't sure she felt. "Would you like it if I called someone to come? Angela is in the building."
Still with his eyes closed, he finally smirked a little smile.
"Yeah, I'd love that."
And with that, she took her cell phone and called her friend, hoping that she'd bring some kind of stabilization to the situation, somehow... and that in sharing with her the burden, she'd find and gather all her strength again.
Thanks to the wonderful Hannah (Northwestern at ff net) for betaing this chap!