Summary: When Booth doesn't answer his phone, Brennan goes alone to find a kidnapped girl and confront a murderer. My version of "fixing season six" combined with "partner in peril." Trauma, guilt, eventual B/B.
General spoilers for season 6. This story assumes knowledge of the first few episodes, and takes place not long after 6.03, when Hannah moves in with Booth.
Rated M for initial violence and sex. (I feel like a badass writing that. But it's nothing very graphic.) Later chapters rated T.
Disclaimer: Alas, I do not own Bones. No infringement intended.
Many thanks to: my fabulous medical beta Skole; other reader/commenters adangeli, Amilyn, bearlee_there, tempertemper, and real-life friend A.P. (mon compagnon de la plume!).
Booth's cell phone trilled from his bedside table. With a groan, he pulled his lips away from Hannah's naked throat.
As he started to fumble toward the phone, she said, "Leave it." "It could be work, and—"
"You've been working all day."
"We've got a bad case, remember? Kidnap, torture, murder..." But his mind was not focused on crime right now. It was focused on Hannah's fingers trailing down the side of his ribcage.
"It could be the boss…" Booth closed his eyes as she continued to paint very distracting patterns over his hip bone. He had better retaliate with some moves of his own. "Or it could be the squints…" He tangled one hand in the hair at the nape of her neck. "Calling with some unintelligible results... of some unintelligible test."
She laughed. "They won't have any results until tomorrow, you said so yourself."
"I know, but sometimes they—"
She leaned closer, her lips inches from his. "They can wait. I can't."
Hannah fell right asleep, but Booth lay there thinking.
I should be in the lab, he told himself. Or my office. Doing something. Even if all he could do right now was stand there worrying and getting in the squints' way.
But he'd already made plans with Hannah. He felt obligated to keep them; and besides, she was right: maybe it would be stress relieving. Maybe he'd have some mental breakthrough if he just got away for a while.
And, if he'd been spending far less time with Bones and her team lately… that was natural, right? Because this was the cocooning stage of the relationship. You went off with your new girlfriend and neglected everyone for a while. That was natural. It happened.
Booth had good sweaty fun with Hannah. At least, usually. She'd been just what he needed in Afghanistan. She'd been good for his ego, good for his sex drive, and good for his soul, after long days of teaching kids to be killers.
But now they'd been back in the States for a while…
He rolled over to face her. Hannah was on her side, turned away from him, so he saw the curvy outline of her body under the blankets. The smell of her hair… He could swear it was the same damn shampoo Rebecca used. And he still liked it.
Sleeping with Hannah, now… They were still vocal and passionate together. But it felt too… guilty. And, if he had to be honest, too intimate. He'd barely ever looked in her eyes while they had sex. But that was okay, because she didn't look into his, either.
Except tonight. She'd looked disappointed. And he couldn't blame her.
Booth turned onto his back again, covering his face with one arm. God, it was humiliating. And it had happened twice before, in recent weeks. That he hadn't… performed… as well as he should have.
Things had seemed fine at first, while they'd been messing around in bed. But then, once he'd rolled on top of her and they'd actually started… He hadn't been—well—as hard as usual. More like half staff. Not so pitiful that they'd had to stop. But Hannah had realized something was wrong, and might have asked a question, but he'd kissed her deeply, and kept his hands moving on her body. They'd been together long enough that he knew what she liked, so he could make sure she'd still enjoyed herself.
But he hadn't.
And that look on her face… It really nagged at him. It spoke of alarm and disappointment. It said, 'Again? What the fuck?'
He shuddered to think what would happen if Sweets ever got hold of this information. Aside from the slight to his manhood that Booth would feel if anyone got wind of this…
Intimacy issues? the kid might say. Post-traumatic stress from your time in a war zone? Or subconscious knowledge that the relationship isn't good for you?
But, Booth argued, I was fine at the start. It was only when we actually did the deed…
The other two times it had happened, he'd written it off as fatigue or stress. That could happen, right? You couldn't run around the city tracking down killers all week, with barely time to eat, then do a million push-ups at the gym, and still expect to have a perfect, rock hard dick at the end of the day.
Especially when you're pushing forty, and can't steam along the same way you did at twenty.
Shit, Booth thought. Maybe I just need more sleep.
He rolled onto his other side and stared at the glinting streetlight reflecting on his windowsill. A car alarm started blaring, but shut off after a few seconds. Booth took a slow, deep breath, released it, and closed his eyes.
When he woke a little while later, the bedside clock read 10:30. The first thing he did was reach for his phone. He saw it was Bones who had called, but she hadn't left a message. Probably decided to tell him in person, about whatever bone spurs and bug guts she and her team had found this time.
But, listed after her number—when he'd set the ringer to mute—he saw another agent's name, and felt a little pang of worry in his stomach. Why would Larson be calling him? Was he even on this case? No, it was probably nothing. Just another clue they'd found, credit card receipts or license plate numbers, among all the other useless clues so far.
Booth rolled out of bed, clicking on the lamp so he wouldn't trip over discarded clothing on his way to the bathroom. When he came back, his phone was ringing again. The sound woke Hannah, but she didn't try to stop him from answering this time.
It was Hacker.
"Booth, where the hell have you been? She said she called you before she left but there was no response, and Larson couldn't get you either."
"She—?" Booth began.
"Temperance," Hacker said, "your partner who decided to go get this kidnapping bastard all by herself, when you didn't pick up, and when she went in there he shot her, and she killed him—saving the girl, by the way—and then she almost bled to death on the floor of an old barn before our backup team could get there."
Booth could not breathe. He didn't know where to start. "Bones—what? How did—? He shot her?"
Hannah had propped herself on one elbow in the bed. She knew something was up even before he spoke, and she would have asked a question—damn journalistic curiosity—but he made an abrupt gesture for her to be quiet.
"All her Jeffersonian squints were working late," Hacker said, "doing whatever they do, when the bug guy found something that told them exactly where he's been taking his victims. Some old barn four miles off the interstate, and then they found out—don't ask me how—that the girl who disappeared was still alive. So Temperance goes racing off, called us for backup but didn't wait for us—which probably saved the girl's life, actually.
"And Dawes—that's who it was, by the way, we hadn't even figured out that much—he drew a gun on her, Booth, and hit her in the ribs. But a second later she shot and killed him—nailed him in the head. As good as any sniper, right between the eyes."
"She—" Booth stuttered. "Is she—"
"I don't know, Booth. I'm at the hospital right now. Emergency center in Germantown, Maryland. They said—something about surgery. Bleeding, organ damage—it didn't sound good. When I saw her there was blood fucking everywhere—"
"I'm coming. I'll be right there." Booth grabbed his clothes and shoved his limbs into them. "I've gotta go," he told Hannah. "My partner. It's—" He reached for his jacket, along with his phone and his gun. Now that it was too late to use it.
When he looked up, Hannah didn't ask questions. She said, "Go."
Booth sat with his head in his hands in one of the hospital waiting rooms. This corner consisted of couches and chairs, set around a coffee table spread with magazines. There was a window with a fake plant under it. And a desk down the hall, staffed by a maddeningly patient nurse.
He had made the drive from D.C. in record time, lights and sirens flashing. But now he had nothing to do but stare at the furnishings, and try not to strangle his boss.
Hacker was off getting coffee. He had called Cam, after Booth, and she would notify the squints. They, and Brennan's family, should get here within the hour.
Dear God. What would Max do to him when he found out?
But Booth had plenty of things to worry about in the meantime.
"Tell me exactly what happened," he had demanded when he saw his boss standing by this same couch twenty minutes ago.
Hacker looked more shaken up than Booth had ever seen him, but he managed to answer the question, and ask some of his own.
First, he said, the doctors had no news—presumably too busy saving Brennan's life. The last he'd heard they were taking her to surgery, but maybe they'd be more forthcoming when her father arrived.
"So where were you, Booth? Everyone assumed you'd be on the scene, so you can imagine our surprise—"
"My phone," Booth blurted. "My fucking phone died on me. I couldn't even get the message until you called."
Hacker studied him for a second, but continued with the story. "Apparently she called us right after you. It was my one night to work late—because I don't have to bust my ass anymore, as Assistant Director—and I heard the call come in, heard that it was Temperance. So I suited up and joined the swat team…"
Booth felt his glare harden, and Hacker winced, realizing he'd better say less about himself and more about Brennan.
"When we got there… We're running in with our helmets and guns, ready to apprehend or neutralize the kidnapper. Ready for a possible hostage scenario with the victim, ready to tell Temperance to grab the girl once we took down the suspect…"
At this point, Hacker didn't need to manufacture any emotion. He looked a little queasy.
"But when we got there… She'd already shot the man and gotten the girl free, from where she'd been tied to a post. Dawes is lying there dead, and Temperance… she's got the girl sobbing on her shoulder, 'cause they're sitting on the floor together, and her side, her whole jacket—was just wet with blood. She had one arm around the girl, and her other hand, here—" Hacker put his palm against the bottom right side of his ribcage.
"The girl," Booth said, sounding dazed. "Her name is Ingrid Keller."
Hacker nodded "We helped Ingrid off the floor to make sure she was okay, and when we did that, Temperance just keeled over onto her side. I got down there… I was kneeling by her, trying to hold her hand, and—fuck, I don't know, tell her it would be okay, or whatever you're supposed to say in a situation like that."
If Booth had been paying more attention, he would have noticed that Hacker was far from his usual glib self. His voice shook, and his face, under the hospital's fluorescent lights, looked older.
"I had Nunez from my team come over with a first aid kit from the truck, and… Temperance kept trying to curl up, but we had to get her flat so we could at least cover the gunshot wound. She was probably in shock, all white and shivering like hell. And then—well, she passed out before the EMTs got there. Probably because it hurt so damn much."
Booth's head came up, and he took a step toward Hacker. "You didn't put direct pressure on it, did you? You don't do that with abdominal injuries! They're extremely painful and you have to…" He searched his brain for what he'd learned in the Army's emergency training. "You have people on their back with a pillow or something under their knees, because with a wound like that, lying straight puts too much stress on the muscles." Booth put his own hand against the base of his ribs, feeling sick.
"Relax, Booth," Hacker said. "We knew what to do. We didn't have the pillow thing, but—"
"Don't tell me to relax! Or that you knew what to do? Because what the hell took you so long to get there? Why didn't you stop her, make her wait for backup? God, how could she have been so stupid? She just walked right in—and gave him a chance to fire on her?"
Hacker started to say something, but Booth kept going. "You know how she is! You have to threaten her with no more field work if you want her to cooperate. And I can't believe—"
But Booth had changed topics. "How close range was the shot?" he demanded. "What caliber gun?"
Hacker exhaled loudly, like he wanted to yell back, rather than answer. "The perp had a nine millimeter. And how close—however wide a barn is. Like from here to…" He gestured vaguely down the hall. "We've got our guys analyzing the scene."
Booth realized that his boss still wore a bulletproof vest and black FBI jacket. They looked incongruous with the shiny, expensive shoes he wore to the office.
"But what about…"
"If you would shut up and let me finish," Hacker said. "The ambulance wasn't far behind us, thank God, because the EMTs…" his voice dropped. "They said she was unresponsive and they had to… They put a breathing tube down her throat. I didn't see it; I had a ton of phone calls to make, but—holy shit. I probably would've pissed myself if I'd seen all that.
"And they didn't know the bullet's trajectory—lungs, liver, spleen… But they said if it had gone any differently, or if they'd gotten there any later, she could have… she could have bled out."
That was when Booth sat down, because his legs had lost their strength.
He remembered that, too, from his training. Liver, stomach, spleen—hit any of those, and you can bleed to death in minutes.
Hacker sat down next to him. The sleeve of his jacket pushed up a little, revealing his white dress shirt. And there on the cuff, Booth saw a crimson patch of blood.
Clenching his jaw, he stared fixedly at the white floor tiles under the coffee table. He let out a long, unsteady sigh.
The two men sat silently for a few moments, in almost identical poses: elbows on knees, hands tightly clasped.
"Wait…" Hacker lifted his head. "You never said what you were doing tonight. Where the hell were you, anyway?"
"I—" Booth spoke through gritted teeth. "I was out, I told you, and my fucking phone died. What do you care where I was?"
"Hey!" Hacker held up his hands, looking angry for the first time. "I care because I'm your boss, and because you're supposed to have at least a superficial respect for the chain of command."
"Okay," Booth said, "sir, but—"
"I might have to fire you for negligence. You're Temperance's partner, after all. You're the one who's supposed to be in the field with her and keep her inside FBI procedure. You know, keep a rein on her."
"What is she, my horse?"
He glared at Hacker, and Hacker glared back.
The boss looked away first.
"Fine," he said. "I'll stop blaming you if you stop blaming me." Hacker stood up and muttered about getting coffee. "Besides… It's not like she listens to either of us anyway."
A/N: I swore to myself that I would have more of this written before posting. But this winter hiatus is the perfect time, right? I have a couple chapters in reserve (Brennan's POV is next), but I have to keep working. Look for updates once a week.