The Faces of the Dead
"The shock in his eyes was terrible," wrote Brennan. "The shock and the pain. He never expected her to shoot him."
It wasn't often Brennan wrote about her life. All her journals were willed with notes and observations about the dead, not the living, herself or otherwise. But as an author, she knew a story that needed to be told when she saw one, and this was one such story.
They were in a hospital waiting room. Brennan vaguely acknowledged the presence of her friends and colleagues - Angela, Hodgins, Zack, Dr. Saroyan and Sweets. Sweets was pacing back and forth, babbling about how it was irrational for him to blame himself. Brennan agreed. If unfair blame were to be placed on someone, it would be Booth.
"I would have gladly taken that bullet," Brennan continued. "If she's killed Booth, I don't know what I'll do... I've seen hundreds of dead people and I've seen people die; I've even killed. The first time was early last year. Epps' accomplice. I remember the shock I felt. I couldn't believe I'd killed him. But Pam Nunan? I feel a heartless rage when I remember her. I wasn't glad to do it, but I can think of few people who deserve to be in this world less than her.
"Why couldn't booth this once not be the hero?" He could have shouted for her to duck. He could have hollered, "GUN!" or, "Bones, move! Run!" Anything but get up and move in that bullet's path.
"Brennan. Sweetie. You should go home." It was Angela again, talking softly to her and taking her hand.
"I've been home, Angela," Brennan said sourily. She closed her journal and set it aside. It was true; Angela had dragged her under extreme protest back home, to shower and eat, and catch a couple of restless hours of sleep. That was when Brennan saw her latest journal, just begun and therefore mostly blank, laying out on the kitchen counter by the phone. She'd snatched it on her way out the door, impulsively.
"Yeah. That was two days ago, sweetie."
"All that means is that they're taking way too long in there!" Brennan said, her anger, fear and frustration weaving together in some sick love braid.
"I have to agree," Hodgins said, wiping his face with his large hands. "It's been three days and they can't tell us anything about Booth?! How long does it take to diagnose a gunshot wound?"
"I'll go talk to the nurse again," Dr. Saroyan said, sighing.
Brennan fingered the pen as Dr. Saroyan's heels clicked on the tiled floor. When she looked up, Dr. Saroyan's face was pale, stunned, and the nurse's anxious, apologetic.
Dr. Saroyan walked back stiffly; she looked at each person on her forensic's team, starting with Sweets and ending, most dreadfully, with Brennan. Brennan stood, her heart rate increasing. Dr. Saroyan took a shuddering breath. "I... I can't believe I'm saying this. Seeley's...he's dead. He's gone. We lost him."
Pam Nunan's crazed expression, followed by Booth's expression of pain and shock, haunted Brennan's dreams. They were there when she closed her eyes to sleep and they were there when she woke. The only way she seemed able to escape them was by starting into the eyeless sockets of a skull.
The only one that hadn't thus far pressured her to take a day off and rest was Dr. Saroyan. Though at first Brennan had seriously disliked Dr. Saroyan, she had come to like her - she still didn't have the respect for the skeletal system she ought to have, in Brennan's opinion, but Brennan liked her. And at this time, she appreciated not being hounded. Very much.
Angela had pestered her on and off for a week; Hodgins had brought it up half as much. Zack had mentioned it twice before she implied that a grad student would be much more careful about not pushing her temper. (She felt reasonably bad about threatening him, especially when she had no authority to replace him in the first place, but her tiny fib had gained her some measure of space in which to ward against worse opponents - namely her own bitter feelings.)
The remains she was currently examining were from eighteenth-century Wales. A man, sturdy and tall, mid-30s. Caucasian, brown hair, most likely. Brown eyes, too? Dark and warm, like Booth's?
Brennan closes her eyes and shakes her head. No. Wrong thing to think about. No speculations. Just facts. No wishes, no daydreams, no "what-if"s.
Only facts, only bones, only truth.
Brennan returns to her apartment. It's like returning to an empty nest, except this time, there's no full nest anywhere else. For the first time, Brennan's life was completely surrounded by desolation, and she didn't know what to do about it, Even as a lonely teenager in the foster system, school was a type of refuge where, if no one else would, knowledge and learning would accept her. (Books and articles and atoms and charts don't care if you're an outcast.) Brennan was...alone. For the first time in a few years, there was no possibility that Booth would come knocking at her door with a cup of coffee and a case.
Speaking of cases, she thought, dropping her keys and her mail on the counter. They'll be wanting to assign me a new partner. What was the phrase Booth would use? No, she thought. No thinking about him, no thinking about cases, no thinking about how things were or could have been. Just facts, bones and truth. That was how my life was before, that's how it'll be now.
If you looked at the equation of her life and subtracted Booth and their partnership, that was all she knew.
Brennan shrugs out of her clothes as if the world can't possibly convince her to care, and climbs into bed, letting the sheets surround her nude form. She realizes suddenly that she's become a metaphor - her naked body tangoing with the naked truth.
The naked truth? she wonders, closing her eyes. Her mind's eye sees Pam Nunan and Booth and she opens them. What is the naked truth? Her mind scrolled over the possibilities as her tired body sank further into the mattress. Abruptly, she gets up, crosses the room to the desk, and sits. Her journal is sitting by the pen holder. She opens it and starts to write, on the page opposite to the entry about Booth:
"The Naked Truth
(That's what Booth would call it.)"
A tear falls onto the lined pages, and Brennan sniffs.
"The truest things I can say are -
I miss Booth more than I want to admit to anyone - maybe even myself. Except, here I am, admitting it...
Booth's death hurts more than anything I've ever imagined or experienced. And that says something that scares me, because I've experienced some very emotionally and physically painful things..."
Brennan chokes back a sob as she starts to shake. Her handwriting becomes sloppy, and she takes a minute to calm herself before continuing.
"And...I don't want to live without him. But I know I will. I have to. And he would want me to, if he were alive and could tell me. Booth would want me to live."
Brennan puts down her pen, buries her face in her hands, and lets her sobs escape. And there were Pam Nunan and Booth's faces, staring at her, unshakable.