The cliché of the situation did nothing to ameliorate the atmosphere in the waiting room. Four people pacing, sitting with clasped, clenched hands or pretending to read the trivial magazines that lay scattered around the room.
Hodgins and Angela clasped hands, sitting beside each other, each providing the comfort that the other one sought.
Sweets had opted for pacing, frantically at first and then slowly but by no means calmly.
I was the boss but my mask of serenity and resolve had been discarded at the door. I stared down at Brangelina, seeing but at the same time, blind to the article in front of my eyes. The gossip which I so often revelled in was failing to capture my attention.
It was so strange to think that after so many years working at a hospital in New York, I would still fall prey to the fear that lined these walls. Even after all that I had seen in New York, I had never felt worse in a hospital than I did now. My stomach was churning, my palms were sweating and yet I was freezing cold, tiny pricks of terror erupting all over my body whenever I allowed my mind to stray into the harsh and terrifying outcomes that could soon become my reality. My living nightmare.
Even with all my experience, my expertise, I could do nothing. Underneath the fear, I was aware of a slight jealousy. Doctor Brennan was with him. I was sitting outside the operating theatre like an unwanted relative. I let my mind drift back to years ago, when Howard Epps put me in hospital and my family had all crowded into the room, occupied the plastic chairs for days, just like I was doing now. But it shouldn't be like that. When I had finally awoken, my throat burning, tubes blocking my nasal passages and the uncomfortable sensation of an IV needle in the back of my hand, I hadn't been alone. Seeley Booth was sitting beside my bed, holding my hand and although I couldn't remember exactly what had happened to me, as soon as I saw him, I knew that I'd be alright. As long as he was there, I'd be fine.
I couldn't return the favour though. Brennan had gone into the operating theatre with him and I was sitting outside, mindlessly leafing through a tatty magazine, trying to stop preparing myself for the worst. I didn't even want to think about the worst. The waiting was the hardest part for me and, I imagined, the others. Brennan was a genius and despite the fact that she didn't have much experience with flesh, she'd be able to tell whether the procedure was going well or...otherwise. My eyes burned with tears at the alternative. Even though I'd have be completely useless during the operation, I wished that I could be with Booth, to stand by him like he'd always done to me. I suppressed a very slight smile when I considered the irony of having an ex-coroner standing over a life-or-death operation.
But according to Brennan, it wasn't a life-or-death operation because Booth wasn't standing on a precipice ready to tumble into oblivion or remain with reality.
Statistically, he should be fine…
Statistically. For a group of people who based their lives on science, we weren't very trusting of the statistics. I guessed that was due to the fact that they had never really hit home like this before. Sure, we all knew that our victims were real people with friends and families but we could never understand the truth behind loss until it came to us. We'd all had our moments in which it hit us the hardest. I identified my ex-fiance's remains after they'd been placed in the lab, right in front of me. But that moment for me, was nothing compared to this. Even when I thought that Booth had died when he was shot in a bar a few years ago, my agony didn't compare to this. Had he died right there and then, he would have given his life to save Brennan's. It was noble, heroic and so Booth.
But this, this wasn't right. After all Booth had done in his life, what if he was finally defeated by biology, by an abnormality in the tissue of his brain? It seemed so trivial, so insignificant when he'd faced down so much more. Without him, the world would seem less fair and far less kind. What would the team do without him? Could Brennan return to her science fully, without investigating or interrogating, without her FBI partner; without Booth? Could any of us?
I glanced at the clock and wrung my hands together in panic. It should be over. I couldn't wait for much longer. I had to stop thinking about what-if and just concentrate on something else.
Hodgins had previously made the point that we couldn't take anything for granted. It was true, there was so much in my life that I didn't appreciate enough. Everyday I arrived at work and saw Doctor Brennan, Hodgins, Sweets...Booth. As the day's events had shown me, one of my friends could be lost so easily, so painfully. Zach had only been proof that the best people can be led astray. It wasn't that I expected any of my team to follow a similar path but anything could go wrong. It had taken so long for everyone to get back to normal after Zach that I suddenly feared the loss of anyone. Just imagining each day without Booth caused my heart to twinge painfully.
I didn't love Booth in that way anymore, not like I had in the past. All the same, I let my mind run through our memories, our relationships, our kisses and some of the best sex that I'd ever had. It had all been worth the fights, the secrecy at work, the serial killer hit lists that it put me on, namely Howard Epps's. Over the years, our various relationships had resulted in something that I had few of; a true friendship. I didn't spend half as much time with him as Brennan but even so, I knew that Booth and I could count on each other, trust each other and it wasn't our full team that I'd miss without him. It wasn't even the increased involvement in the cases, as opposed to the lab work. It was simply Booth, his presence, just having him around every day, having a friend at the Jeffersonian because although I got on well with the rest of my team, I wasn't close to any of them like they were to each other. Like I was with Booth.
The door swung open with a sharp creak. I dropped the magazine, Sweets stopped pacing and Hodgins let go of Angela's hand and stood up. Doctor Brennan was standing in the doorway, an unreadable expression upon her face. Booth was probably the only one who could have deciphered whether it was good news or not. Angela turned white but I didn't know whether that was because she had read Brennan's face or because she was anxious to hear. Hypocritically, I prayed that Booth was okay. I wasn't religious at all but at a time like this, it seemed to be most appropriate, especially considering who I was praying for. If Booth couldn't do it for himself then I'd do it for him. Brennan took a step towards us.
God, please don't take Booth from us….not Booth.
She opened her mouth to speak and I wished that I had a hand to grip.