There was a body on the table. Neither of them could have ever guessed that life would have turned out like this. Booth and Brennan went their separate ways at the end of "The Beginning of the End". Booth to Iraq and Brennan to the Maluku Islands. But what happens if one of them decides that the distance is too much? I don't own them. This is a work in progress. As always with my Bones fics I am not happy. Part 2 is being written in my head right now so will be up soon.Part One
"Captain Booth?" The lieutenant stood in the doorway. He waited for the man in the fatigues to acknowledge him.
"Yes?" Booth put down the gun he'd been cleaning and looked at the young man.
"They're ready for you in the briefing room."
"Thanks. I'm on my way."
The lieutenant nodded, saluted and left. Seeley Booth, current residence Iraq, stood, taking a steadying breath. The notice had been sent through that there was a retrieve about to go ahead. Booth had been waiting for the call.
He shut the door and walked to the briefing room. Even inside the building he was sweltering in his fatigues. The heat was oppressive. Shifting his shoulders under the thick material he entered.
"Sir," Booth greeted. "Colonel." He saluted the men.
"We've been informed of an urgent mission. Retrieval. Several civilians are being held hostage by a militant group."
Booth nodded. It sounded pretty standard. Since arriving in Iraq he had been involved in countless retrievals and hostage saves. Despite what he'd told Bones before leaving D.C, Booth had been in the line of fire more than once. He welcomed the distraction. Ever since leaving he'd been restless. He missed his son. He missed Bones. He worried about her over in the Maluku Islands.
"Do they have an ID on the captives?" He asked.
"Nothing definite as yet. Intel says three males, one female. Priority one. Government involvement."
"Government, sir? I thought this was a civilian grab."
"All you need to know is it's a high priority case. Get in, get the hostages and get out."
"Yes, sir." Booth nodded.
"Assemble your team. You leave 1900 hours. Dismissed."
Booth saluted again. He had a team to assemble.
Booth gave the signal to move forward. They had the building surrounded. He shifted his gun in his hands, balancing the weight. His thoughts were focused. Get in, make the grab, and get out. That was it. And do so with as little collateral damage as possible.
He watched his men get into position. On his order they would storm the building. Their job was to clear the way; Booth's was to make the grab. They'd done it enough times that Booth had every confidence in them. He trusted these men with his life.
Booth took in his surroundings. It was a dilapidated sand brick building. Pretty stock standard for the area. The sandy grit shifted beneath his desert boots. The smell of spices, dust and heat filled his nostrils. It was a potent cocktail of senses. The air was heavy. Hot. His body was tensed, alert. Like his men, it was waiting for his signal.
So he gave it.
There was a flurry of movement. Booth kicked open the rickety wooden door and dropped to his knee, covering the men as they entered. Initially, the room was empty. Then there were men with guns and there was shouting and bullets ricocheting off the walls.
Booth took out three armed men as he moved through the room. The squad quickly cleared their way to a back room where several men were bloodied and tied. Booth dropped down beside an aging, balding man.
"You're alright now, buddy," He comforted. He cut the man's restraints. "What's your name?"
"Michael," the man whimpered. He'd wet himself and was shaking badly.
"Well, Michael, we're gonna get you out of here." He helped Michael to stand. One of his men helped the other man. Booth looked around.
"Where are the others?" He asked, still supporting Michael.
"Others?" The man was slipping into shock.
"Another man. And a woman. Where are they?"
"Dead." Michael managed. He burst into tears. "They were taken away. First him. We heard him screaming and then nothing. He didn't come back." He was sobbing now. Booth tried to get him to hold it together long enough to get all of the information.
"And the woman?"
"The woman? Where is the woman?" Booth tried to hold his temper.
"I don't know. They took her away when she fought back against one of the guards. There's a back room." Booth didn't wait for Michael to say more. He passed the man off to one of the soldiers. Hoisting his gun he cautiously moved down the dark hall. There was a room at the end. At least he assumed it was a room. He kicked the door with his boot. It didn't give. Locked. Booth pulled back and let loose a full powered kick. The door shattered on its hinges and swung in.
A foul stench assaulted him and he momentarily struggled with his gag reflex.
As his eyes adjusted to the gloom he could make out a sparse room. There were several overturned chairs, some lengths of rubber hose and a long wooden table. It was on this table that he saw a pile of bloody sheets. He poked them with the butt of his rifle. There was a low moan. Booth, startled, realised that whoever was under those sheets was alive. He pulled them back as quickly and gently as possible.
Seeley Booth's heart stopped dead in his chest. The body on the table was beaten and bloody. It was apparent that someone had worked a number on this woman. Booth swallowed the vomit rising in his throat. He tried to suppress his rage even as tears threatened to spill from his eyes. All he could manage was one choked word.
Booth lost the contents of his stomach. He managed to twist to the side before vomiting. He heaved, dry retching until he managed to control himself. He heard someone approaching from behind and swivelled, raising his gun.
"It's me, Captain," one of his men said, raising his hands in surrender. Booth lowered his weapon. "This her?" He asked, nodding towards the body on the table. No. Not body. Bones. Booth's Bones.
Booth felt the bile rising in his throat again. He swallowed it down.
"Call a med team." Booth ordered, turning back to Bones.
"Captain?" Booth whirled on him.
Sensing his urgency, the soldier quickly went to get help. Booth turned back to the table.
"Bones?" He pulled the sheets off fully, gaining a view of the full extent of the damage.
"Temperance? C'mon. Wake up!" He traced his fingers across her bruised cheek. She shifted slightly, pulling away. Consciousness washed over her. She shied away from him instinctively.
"Hey, hey. Shh. Its alright." Booth tried to calm her.
"Booth?" He voice was raw, strained, as though she'd been screaming for days. Her lips were cracked, her eye swollen and black, a cut on her forehead still oozing. Booth couldn't bring himself to look at the rest of her body. He didn't want to think about it.
"Yeah, baby. It's me. You're alright. OK? You're gonna be alright." Booth didn't know what he was saying. All he knew was that he wanted to keep her talking.
"Booth?" She called again. Booth quickly took her hand, letting his gun hang from its strap.
"I'm here. It's alright. I'm right here." He tried to keep the rising panic from his voice.
The med team were filling the room now. Booth could feel them bustling around him.
"Booth?" Panic in her voice now.
"Right here, Bones. Right here." He was moved aside but clung to her hand tightly.
"I can't feel my legs."
Booth gently laid the body in his arms onto the mattress. He straightened out her legs and pulled the blankets up. Glancing up at her sleeping face, Booth tried to hide his sad eyes. He didn't want her to see how much seeing her pain hurt him.
He tucked the blankets around her before moving to get changed. He paused as Temperance Brennan's eyes popped open. Ah, so she'd been feigning slumber. They looked at each other for a long time, both searching for something in the other's gaze. Finally she spoke.
"Why are you doing this?" She asked, her voice cutting through the silence. Booth raised a quizzical eyebrow.
"Doing what Bones?"
"Caring for me. If I wanted help I would hire a nurse." Her voice was hollow, but it held traces of irritation.
"I hate to break it to you, Bones, but you do need help." Booth tried to keep his voice light, knowing that she hadn't dealt with her injury yet and pushing her would only make matters worse.
"Why, Booth?" She pressed. Booth sighed, sitting on the edge of her bed.
"You're my partner, Temperance. Its my job to look after you."
"If you are blaming yourself for my spinal injury, don't. The choice to follow you to Iraq was my own. It was my decision and I was aware of the dangers. You have no obligation to me." Her voice was calm, clinical. This was her typical approach when she was trying to push someone away. Booth rolled his eyes. He'd seen enough of it over the last few weeks as Brennan had healed from her surface wounds. He'd seen it when she'd been informed of her paralysis from the waist down. He wouldn't let it faze him.
"I want to," he said shortly, making sure the blankets were covering her.
"I can do that myself," Bones snapped, brushing his hands away and throwing the blanket off her. Booth sat back and watched her. He couldn't help the frustration he felt. "I'm a paraplegic not quadriplegic. I have full use of my arms."
"Ok, Bones." Booth stood. He wasn't going to argue with her. "I'm going to get changed and then I'll be back." He moved to the door, casting one last look over his shoulder. Brennan had turned her face away from him. Booth sighed and left for the bathroom.
When he returned he found Bones with her eyes closed. He slid under the sheets, resting his head on the cool pillow and taking in his partner.
Upon her partial release from hospital, Bones had been adamant that she would return to her home. She hadn't wanted any help; refusing the hospital's offer to organise home care. She'd ruthlessly pushed everyone away. Even Angela had had to pull back, she'd been so hurt by Brennan's coldness. It had pained her to see Brennan so helpless. Bones had effectively isolated herself from everyone – allowing herself to sink into her despair.
Everyone that is, excepting for Booth. He had boldly ignored her scathing wrath. He had blatantly pushed past her clinical tone, her standoffishness, and her detachment from everything. And it had killed him to see his partner, his friend, in such turmoil. The brilliant, vibrant, passionate woman he had known had disappeared. Replacing her was a sullen, withdrawn woman who was a shell of Temperance Brennan.
The weeks of lying in bed while she recuperated from her wounds had left her pale and hollow. She looked weak, and Booth knew (although he'd never say it to her) that she was weakened. Her hands had acquired a slight tremor that he'd never seen before. And her face was gaunt. Her already huge blue eyes seemed to take over her face. They were large and empty. It haunted Booth.
He lay there, watching her. He could feel his love for her burning in his chest. It had never eased, even after everything they'd been through. He wished that he could turn back the clock to when he told her he loved her. He would love to be able to do it over so that he didn't mess it up.
And while he was on the time travel train of thought he wished he could take back Bones getting hurt. He would make it so that he had called her more. Spoken to her. Known that she was planning to come over to Iraq. Ah, if wishes were horses…
Knowing he needed to sleep, Booth tried closing his eyes. Visions of Bones being beaten, stabbed, tortured, kept running on a movie reel. He tried to black them out. He shuffled, finding a comfortable position. He'd come to love Bones' bed. It was soft and comfortable. He remembered how it had come about, him sleeping in her bed with her. He let those thoughts wash over him, easing him into a fitful slumber. It was going to be a long day, as every day since Bones had been released from hospital was.
Apart from the fact that Bones couldn't walk and needed help with most everyday things, she didn't yet have a wheel chair and so she spent most of her day either in bed or seated on the couch. Booth knew she was bored stiff. He'd taken leave from the FBI to care for her. Seeing as he'd invited himself to practically live with her, he'd bought her a TV and set it up. Sometimes he found Bones watching the images on the screen blankly. He'd set up all the channels and encouraged her to check out the history channel, National Geographic, and the documentary channel. But Bones didn't seem interested in any of it. She showed the same pleasure for these shows as she did for the cartoons he watched. Even her books held no appeal for her anymore. She no longer lost herself in their pages, spouting off random facts to him as though he knew what she was talking about.
Booth sighed, his warm breath causing Brennan's golden brown hair to rustle against her cheek. She looked so relaxed, so peaceful in slumber. If only he could bring that expression to her face always.
Feeling the pull of slumber, Booth let himself relax into the bed. He did need his sleep. He had to look after his Bones. He needed his strength if he was going to be the strong one.
He wasn't yet used to being here. He still felt like an outsider, trespassing on something intimate. This was her domain. In all their years of working together he'd hardly ever stayed at her place overnight. Maybe once, twice. It was hard to remember. The one time he did remember was the time he got blown up. But this was far stranger than that.
Stretched out on Bones' super comfortable couch, Booth allowed himself to gaze around the moonlit room. It looked different at this time of night, from this vantage point. Things he'd seen hundreds of times seemed different. They held more of a story. Seemed to represent more of their owner. It was strange. He wondered if maybe his exhaustion was playing tricks on his mind. He'd hardly had sleep in days.
His mind drifted to the woman sleeping in the room next door. Coming home from the hospital had been an ordeal. Even pumped full of painkillers and meds, Bones was tenacious. She wanted to be alone. She thought she was able to take care of herself. Everyone had been chased off. All of her well meaning friends – Hodgins, Cam, even Angela. She'd gotten rid of them all. But not him. He'd stayed put. No amount of clinical rationale was going to get him to leave her alone. She couldn't walk for god's sake! How did she think she was going to look after herself?
Booth nearly growled in frustration. Instead he beat the pillow. When he felt that it had suffered enough he lay back. He was still angry at this happening to her. She wouldn't talk to him. He felt responsible, somehow. She'd been treated in a field hospital before being shipped back to the States. Booth had had to pull some strings to come back with her. He hadn't left her side. But there were a few people he had to answer to once this sorted out. He'd been meaning to start back with the FBI but that all looked like it was going to be put on hold. Bones needed someone to stay with her.
He squeezed his eyes shut tight, trying to will sleep upon himself. He'd never been good at sleeping post combat. Somehow his body always stayed on alert, even when he'd been back home for a while. It was like a sense memory that wouldn't let go of the idea that someone would burst through the door and try to kill him. It was a hard habit to break.
There was a cry from the other room and Booth sat bolt upright; listening. There was nothing. Not even the sounds of the night. Had he imagined it? Then there it was. A sobbing. There was another cry – this one of pain. Booth flung the blanket off himself and quickly moved to Bones' bedroom. He'd never been in here when she was sleeping before. It felt odd. Did he knock? Should he barge in? Opting for a bit of both, Booth knocked and opened the door at the same time.
"Bones?" He called into the darkened room. Nothing. "Temperance?" He moved into the room, his eyes trained on the figure in the bed.
Suddenly she sat up, startling Booth. She cried out, her hands pushing out in front of her as though fending off an attacker. Booth sat on the bed and pulled her to him.
"Hey, shh. Wake up Bones. It's a dream." He soothed, stroking her hair.
"Booth? What are you doing in here?" She asked, trying to pull back. Booth allowed her to, but kept a hold of her arms. She seemed unsteady, disoriented.
"You cried out. What happened? Are you ok?" He brushed back her hair tenderly. Bones recoiled. She didn't want him looking at her. She didn't want to appear vulnerable.
"Nothing. It was a dream. I acted illogically."
"Don't give me that, Bones. Tell me. Were you dreaming about what happened?" Booth wasn't about to drop this.
"I don't want to talk about it." Damn she was stubborn.
"I know you don't, Temperance. But I'm not going anywhere until you tell me." He gave her his own stubborn look. He watched as her expression melted and tears started to fall heavily down her cheeks. He was startled, not expecting this reaction.
"Do you mean that?" She asked in a tiny voice. Booth was taken aback.
"I don't want to be alone."
Booth found himself pulling her to him in a hug.
"Of course I'll stay." He pulled back enough to give her a comforting smile.
"Will you stay in here? Sleep with me?" She sounded so broken. Booth's heart ached. Whatever had been done to her had been so horrific that she was uneasy being alone. Bones was the most self-assured, independent person he knew. What could possibly have been enough to destroy that?
Without a word he slipped under the covers and joined her. He eased her back onto the mattress before laying back himself. His hands soothed her hair off her forehead. She felt slightly clammy. Booth frowned, concerned. He was willing to lay here in silence if that was what it took to make her feel better.
Eventually he heard her breathing even out and deepen. She'd slipped into slumber. Booth let out a sigh of relief. He was so worried about her. He didn't know much about spinal injuries, but he knew that any spinal injury was a bad thing. God he wished he'd been able to stop this from happening to her. He drifted into sleep with troubled thoughts.
Booth didn't know how long they'd slept when violent thrashing and a scream awaked him. He was awake in seconds and sitting up, trying to calm Bones. She was screaming, tears gathering on her cheeks. Her chest was heaving as she began to hyperventilate. For someone who had been through such an ordeal she was surprisingly strong, especially considering she couldn't use her legs.
"Temperance, calm down. You're safe now." He held her wrists gently to stop her from hurting herself, or him. He saw her blinking up at him. She was awake now, although she was still obviously terrified.
"They beat me," she sobbed, her arms weakening in his grasp. "They used ropes and hoses and they beat me. They cut me with broken glass. I believe they were trying to make me submit to them but I refused. I should have given in." Her eyes welled as she looked at him, begging for an answer, for relief to the pain she was in.
"You did what you had to do," Booth told her. It was true. No one knew how they were going to react in a situation like that. You didn't know if you would fight or do as they said. It was instinct.
"It didn't stop them from raping me." Her sobs were wracking her tiny frame and Booth held her, trying to keep her grounded. She was drowning. He felt repulsed by her admission and he hated himself for it. It wasn't her that repulsed him, it was what those men had done to her. How dare they do that to his Bones. How dare they do that to any woman. She must have felt so helpless. Not something Bones was used to. Booth had the overwhelming desire to go back over there and hunt them down to exact his revenge. The likelihood that he would find the exact men was slim, and the possibility they'd been some of the men killed in the mission was pretty high. But that knowledge didn't change Booth's reaction.
"You're safe now," was all he managed to say. It sounded trite even to his own ears.
"When I fought back they didn't like it. They would beat me over the head with a pipe until I lost consciousness. Then they would rape me." Her words were halting, her breath ragged with her sobs. But she seemed determined to get this out. Booth knew she needed to. He didn't want to hear this but he knew that she had to get this out of herself.
"Once I didn't fight back anymore they stopped hitting me. I managed to grab one of them by the testicles. I think I may have severed them. That was when they broke my back." Booth wanted to grin at that. That was his Bones. Ripping some guy's balls off. He wished he'd been there to hold him. He ran his hand over her arm in a soothing motion. He'd never felt so inadequate in his life. He didn't know what he was supposed to do, except be there for her.
He felt her sobbing against his chest. Booth's heart swelled. God he loved this woman.
"I see them." She was saying against him. Booth strained to hear as he voice muffled into his t-shirt. "Every time I close my eyes. It is like I am back in that room. And I feel like they are still raping me. I can't feel my legs but I can still feel the pieces of pipe they put inside me, and the glass. I don't know how to turn it off."
Booth felt ill. Physically ill. This was his Bones telling him she'd been raped with a pipe. He'd never felt so close to losing control of his anger in his life. He wanted to go and kill someone. He needed to seek revenge for this woman.
"I can't sleep Booth." She was looking up at him again. "I'm scared that if I do I'm going to wake up in that room again."
"You go to sleep, Temperance. I'll be right here. And I'm going to keep you safe." He promised.
It wasn't like the movies. After his brave declaration she didn't doze into a happy slumber and they lived happily ever after. Instead he had lain there for hours with her in his arms as she fretted and sobbed. Her body was shaking convulsively and she was ill several times. Booth managed to get a bucket by the second time. After changing her and the sheets and holding her hair back until she had nothing left to vomit up, Brennan had fallen into a fitful slumber.
And as he'd promised, Booth had lain awake, holding her, protecting her.
That was how he'd ended up spending every night in her bed since. They hadn't spoken of it. By the next day Brennan was back to her usual snippy self. She didn't thank him. She didn't bring up her confessions the night before. She didn't even look at him. It continued for weeks. But at night, when it was dark and still, her hands would seek him out as she twitched in her sleep, her eyes shifting over unseen horrors. And Booth would hold her and keep her safe.
Booth's eyes slowly fluttered open. He felt momentarily disoriented. The bed wasn't his own. Nor was the room. But it was familiar and day-by-day he was becoming more at home here. He stretched slightly, cracking his toes and arching his back. A shifting next to him prompted his eyes to open. They alighted upon his partner.
She was awake and staring at the ceiling with a frustrated expression. Booth frowned, watching her. She didn't seem aware that he was awake. He took her in. This was his secret guilty pleasure. He enjoyed being able to spend this time with her, being this close to her.
Her hair was slightly ruffled. If he didn't know better, he would have thought she hadn't slept. But Bones was as controlled in sleep as she was when waking. And compared to Booth, she slept like a corpse. Booth was the one who fidgeted and rolled around all over the place. Her presence was actually soothing for him. He had become a deeper, sounder, calmer sleeper since sharing her bed. He was more conscious that his movements might keep her awake. And he was aware of any unconscious touching during the night. The slightest touch of legs against one another, the brushing of hands. Just the feel of her breathing beside him was a comfort.
Booth sighed. He might as well get up. Bones was obviously already awake.
"Morning Bones," he mumbled, wiping the sleep from his eyes. He sat and swung his legs over the edge of the bed. Stretching, he glanced over his shoulder at his partner.
"Bones?" He gave her a gentle push. She turned and frowned at him. Her eyes were full of pain and frustration. "What's wrong?" Booth turned more fully to face her. "Your back?" He was tentative in asking, uncomfortable about bringing up her injury. When she didn't reply Booth gave a sigh.
"You have to tell me Bones. Otherwise I can't help you." He gave her a pleading look.
"I need to use the bathroom," she finally answered, her voice tight, bitter. Booth, despite being slightly awkward, was relieved that that was all it was. He nodded.
"Let me help you up." He stood, carefully rearranging his pants. He was a man after all and it was morning.
"I do not require help." She replied. Her eyes remained fixed to the ceiling. Booth rolled his eyes. She was just too damn proud for her own good.
"How were you expecting to get to the bathroom, then?" It was harsh, he knew, but she had to accept some realities.
"I don't want your help." She said firmly. Booth could see she was in pain.
"Well you have to accept help from someone." He bit out. He walked around the bed. Standing over her he tried to remember how full of life she'd been. He was determined to bring that spark back.
"No, Booth. I don't want you to. I can do it myself." She was having none of it. Well Booth was having none of it either. They'd faced this problem many times since Bones had come home. And he was tired of her arguing. Until she had a chair and was well enough to use it she couldn't go anywhere without help.
"Up, Bones," he commanded. Without waiting he slid his hands under her lithe form. Booth struggled against him. She was too weak to fend him off. Booth lifted her, frowning at how light she was getting. He was worried about her. He'd have to make more of an effort to get her to eat.
He carried her in his strong arms to the bathroom. He went over to the toilet and placed her down. He would usually help her remove her pants and then leave so she had some privacy. But as he reached to help her he noticed the silent tears forcing their way past her eyelids and down her cheeks. She was desperately trying to control them; to stop herself. Booth gave her a concerned look.
"Bones? Did I hurt you?" That was his biggest fear; causing her further injury. He ran his hands down her arms. "Temperance?" He ducked his head trying to catch her eyes. It was then that the acrid stench of urine assaulted his senses. Booth felt a wave of pity wash over him as he realised she'd wet herself. He took her hands in his and gave them a gentle squeeze. He knew how hard this was for her. She was an independent, strong woman. For her to be so helpless went against everything in her. It was the ultimate indignity.
Booth did the only thing he could. He tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. Standing, he reached for the shower and turned on the water. He picked Bones up and stepped under the stream of water, the both of them fully dressed. He slid Bones down until her feet were resting on the tiled floor. He supported her weight, holding her against him. He didn't say anything. Bones' silent tears mingled with the water until she managed to regain control. Booth let the water wash over them, cleaning them both. When they were both drenched he smiled down at her.
She nodded gently against his chest. Turning the taps off he lifted her again and stepped out of the shower. He sat her on the toilet once more and grabbed a couple of towels. Knowing that she'd suffered enough indignity for one day he passed her a towel.
"I'll get some fresh clothes." He said. He wanted to give her some privacy but also wanted to get dressed himself. "Give a yell if you need me, ok?"
Bones nodded. Booth left the bathroom, his hand rubbing the back of his head. He couldn't help the awkwardness he felt, having Bones in the shower with him. Not after everything that had happened between them. Not with how he felt about her. He rubbed his hair absently with the towel while digging through a draw with his free hand.
In the short time he'd been staying there he'd progressed from living out of a bag to filling several drawers in Bones' dresser. There were even a couple of his suits hanging in her closet.
"You alright in there Bones?" He called.
"Yes. Could you bring me some clothes?" Her voice was strong. She'd obviously gathered herself. Booth smiled. Back to the ice queen, then.
Booth shed his wet clothes, running the towel over his body. He pulled out some jeans and a tee, quickly getting dressed. He grabbed some sweats and a top for Bones. He braved her underwear draw; grabbing her fresh panties. He carried the lot into the bathroom.
Brennan had managed to pull off her pyjamas. She held the towel over herself for modesty. Booth averted his gaze. He handed over the clothes and turned his back. He wouldn't offer any more help until it came time to carry her out again. He was desperately trying to give her back some independence.
"I am decent now, Booth. You can turn around." Her voice startled him out of his thoughts and he turned back to her. She was indeed dressed.
"How about some breakfast then?" He asked with his charm smile. He was going to get her eating again.
"I am not very hungry."
"Nonsense, Bones. You haven't had my pancakes." He picked her up. Bones didn't fight him. Instead she rested her head against his chest in defeat. Booth put her down onto the couch and handed her the remote. Leaving her to channel surf he went into the kitchen and went about preparing breakfast. He whistled to himself, enjoying the normalcy of making breakfast. One day he'd do this for Bones when she was well and he wasn't here only to look after her.
He plated up the pancakes, topping Bones' with fruit, cinnamon and brown sugar. He carried them out and handed one to Bones. He sat at the end of the couch, lifting Bones' lifeless feet onto his lap. He knew she couldn't feel it but he gave her foot a gentle squeeze.
"Eat up," he said, eyeing her plate.
"Booth I am not hungry. The medication has affected my appetite." She poked at the food apologetically.
"Just give it a go. You have to eat something." Something in his voice must have struck a chord in her as she relented. She lifted her fork to her mouth and took a bite. Booth watched her over his own plate. While her progress was slow he could see that she was making a real effort. He was pleased that she was eating something. When he'd finished he raised his eyebrows at her.
"Want some more?" He asked. She'd barely made a dent in the serve on her plate but Booth didn't want to push it too much. She'd had some and that was better than nothing.
"I am sufficiently full now." She raised her eyes to his and gave him an apologetic look. Booth just smiled at her. He didn't want her to feel bad. His whole purpose in life had become about making her feel good.
If he were honest with himself he would admit that he was exhausted. It was barely 9AM and he was ready to collapse back into bed. Caring for Bones was more than a full time job. She was so resistant to help of any kind. And her depression was like a dark cloud hanging over them. It pained him to witness her like that.
So that was why any achievement was a big deal. He needed Bones to feel good about any progress she made. Anything to stop her from slipping further into herself. While the prognosis wasn't good, the doctors had said that there was the possibility of recovery. It would require surgery. But a big part of it was riding on Bones. She had to be strong enough to get better. She had to want to get better. This depression shrouding her was a major issue. Booth knew he had to reengage her with her life. Get her back to work. Get her to see her friends.
And getting her into a wheel chair would be a big step in the right direction to getting her independence back.
Temperance glared at the contraption. She was in no mood for this and Booth's over the top positivity was frustration her. He'd been like that for days. The build up had been phenomenal. As though she were a naughty child likely to have a tantrum if she wasn't eased into the situation. She loathed that he felt the need to treat her as such. She was a perfectly capable adult. She did not need babying. That did not, however, mean that she liked the situation.
Because the object in front of her, the one that was meant to give her back her independence, was the representation of her loss of independence.
Booth pushed the chair closer. He gave her a grin.
"What do you say, Bones? Take it for a spin?" he gave the chair a wiggle, giving her his charm smile. Bones raised her eyebrow.
"C'mon, Bones. What's it gonna hurt?" He gave the chair another wiggle. He knew this was hard for her. But he also knew that this was a step in the right direction. It would give her some freedom, maybe build back up her confidence. He just had to convince her.
He moved the chair closer to where Bones was seated in the patient's chair. The doctor was keeping a safe distance and rightly so. Bones had given him a run for his money over the months. He'd learnt the hard way not to try to push Dr Brennan into things. Booth however, had no such qualms. He'd always been able to talk her round. And since living with her, caring for her, he'd learnt a lot of things.
"Would you give us a minute?" Booth asked the doctor. The man gratefully nodded and left, giving Booth an encouraging smirk. Booth rolled his eyes and turned back to Bones. He was used to people feeling sorry for him having to deal with Bones. It made him angry, though. Maybe it was because he was used to her mannerisms, her awkwardness, but he didn't want someone's pity for looking out for his partner.
"Alright, Temperance. Let's have it." He said as jovially as he could manage.
"Have what Booth?" Bones crossed her arms.
Brennan opened her mouth to answer. Booth quickly placed his fingers over her lips.
"I don't want you to say you don't need it, because we both know that's a lie. I want you to be brave, Bones." He gave her a long look, willing her to have confidence.
Bones drew in a deep breath, allowing Booth to hold her gaze. She knew she was resisting needlessly, but it wasn't in her nature to reach out for help. She helped herself. But she could see how hard Booth was trying. She could see that and was fighting with herself to allow him to help her.
"I'm nervous." She managed softly. Booth nodded, taking her hands.
"I get that. But its me. I'm here with you Bones. We're going to get through this together."
"I trust you Booth."
Seeley Booth knew that this was a monumentous moment. Temperance Brennan was telling him that she trusted him. Even if the feelings had been there for some time having her finally say it made his heart swell with pride and maybe something else. He gave her a proud, encouraging grin.
"Great! Lets get this over and done with. Then I promise to take you out for lunch."
"You don't have to do that Booth," she said modestly but a smile was tugging at the corners of her lips. Booth felt a ripple of excitement. This was the first smile he'd seen on her in weeks. He gave her hands a squeeze before moving to bring the chair towards her.
Temperance assessed the wheel chair. She knew that it was illogical to loathe the object that would give her back some independence. She knew it was illogical to loathe an inanimate object at all. But she was having difficulty controlling those feelings. She very much wanted to run from this. Except that she couldn't run. Which was why she was here. It was a paradox indeed.
Taking a steadying breath she reached out for Booth, who was immediately at her side, lifting her. He eased her into the chair, settling her and placing her lifeless feet onto the footrests. For the first time Brennan felt what it was like to be in a wheel chair. The black fabric that consisted of the "chair" was not particularly comfortable. The metal armrests were pressing into her elbows and the whole thing felt off. It was hard to explain. Perhaps it was because, mentally, she was resisting and therefore finding reasons to hate the chair. She willed the thoughts away.
"A couple of stickers, maybe a flag and you'll have a fine vehicle here Bones." Booth joked, reading her expression and knowing she was unhappy.
"That wont be necessary, Booth." She said curtly, not knowing what else there was too say. How could she respond to this? Her entire being was screaming. This was the ultimate indignity. She had never considered the possibility of becoming paralysed. It had never been something she'd thought would happen in her life. And now she was ill prepared to deal with it.
Booth crouched down in front of her, his hands on her knees, looking her in the eyes. He gave her a look filled with such pity and emotion that Temperance recoiled.
"Don't pity me!" She all but yelled.
"I'm not. I'm pitying this chair, Bones."
"I don't know what you mean."
"This isn't going to be forever. This chair only gets the pleasure of your company for a short time. You are going to get better. You are going to get well and walk away from this chair."
"That isn't a guarantee. There is only a slim chance of recovery. The most likely scenario is that I will spend the rest of my life in this chair and I do not want to be pitied for it." She turned her face away from him, not wanting him to see the hot tears burning there.
"I promise you I will never pity you Temperance." Booth said with all sincerity. "Now lets take this thing for a drive." He stepped back and opened the door.
The doctor was standing there and looked in. Shock crossed his face as he took in Dr Brennan in the chair. He didn't know how Agent Booth had done it, but he was impressed. If only he could learn the secret of getting the anthropologist to do as she was told. It would come in handy during their physical therapy sessions.
"Excellent. I see you are all settled there, Dr Brennan. Would you like to practice moving around?" He walked into the consultation room briskly, covering his reaction. He could see that Dr Brennan was on a thin tether and not particularly happy about her position. He wanted her to remain calm so that she would be open to what he was going to suggest.
"I don't think so." She said slowly. Before she could continue, Agent Booth grabbed the handles on the chair and started propelling her out the door.
"No chance, Bones. We are going for a ride!" He gave the doctor a nod. "We'll be back shortly." And with that they were rolling down the hallway.
"Stop right now Booth!" Temperance ordered. It was enough that he had been carrying her around, picking her up against her will, telling her what to do, when to do it and so on. She was not about to let him do the same to her now that she had a chair. Reaching out, she grabbed the breaks on both wheels and stopped them. Booth lurched against the back of the chair, winding up with a face full of her hair. He pulled back.
"Not nice, Bones." He scolded, but there was mischief in his eyes. "You going to do it yourself?" He still held the handles, threatening to take off again.
"Yes." Anything to get him to let go. Booth let go of the chair and stepped away watching her keenly.
Tentatively Brennan placed her hands on the wheel rims. The smooth metal was cold under her fingers. It reminded her of the lab. The thought startled her. She hadn't thought of the lab since her injury. It was comforting, in a way. She liked the lab. She was at home there. And now she had found something about the chair that reminded her of it. Although the whole thing reeked of psychology, Brennan took some comfort in it.
Ever so slowly she moved the wheels, propelling herself forward. She made halting progress, allowing herself time to assess the movement and speed of the chair. It felt cumbersome and hard to steer. She experimented with several methods of breaking and holding one wheel to steer. Bit by bit she discovered a basic understanding of how to manoeuvre herself along the hall.
Booth stood back, watching. His arms were crossed across his chest and he leant against the wall. He took in Bones as she tackled the chair like an experiment. He loved the way her face set into such concentration. She fixated on steering the chair. Booth could see when and where she went wrong and longed to correct her. But he bit his tongue. He knew this was something she had to do herself. She would never feel at ease otherwise.
He was pleased to see the familiar look on her face. It was the old Bones shining through. This was a challenge that she could take on and succeed at. It was something she needed. All she had to do was ignore the fact that the chair was a representation of her disability. If she could push that aside she could do this.
"Looking good, Bones," he smiled as she came to a halt in front of him. She appeared to be far more comfortable now. He gave her a grin. "I think the doc might be wondering where we are. Time to head back?"
"Yes. I feel that I have sufficient control over this now." She was all business like. Just like the Bones he knew. Booth couldn't help the goofy grin that spread across his face. He felt a balloon of inexplicable happiness surging inside him.
Once back inside the consulting room Booth sat on one of the patient chairs while Brennan remained in the wheel chair. The doctor sat before them.
"I'm pleased to see that you have changed your mind, Dr Brennan." He said politely, referring to her resistance to the wheel chair. Booth cringed, hoping Temperance didn't bite.
"Yes. It is a necessary tool for my mobility." Bones stated. She was staring down the doctor. Booth tried not to laugh. He could practically read Bones' mind. He'd seen her assess the doctor's degrees as they'd entered the room. And now she was mentally dissecting him. Booth had seen it done many times. Bones was probably wondering if this man was qualified enough to do this job.
"I wish to discuss with you where we go from here. Perhaps you would like to speak in private?" He sent a look at Booth, who shrugged. He wasn't fazed. He was happy to stay or go. But he figured the doctor would have a harder time with Bones without him there.
"Anything you have to say can be said in front of Agent Booth." Curt, sharp. Bones cast a glance at Booth. She figured there were no secrets between them anymore. He'd seen her naked. He'd seen her at her worst. What news could a doctor possibly tell her now that would be something she wouldn't just tell him later?
"Ok then. Well, Dr Brennan. I have been studying your scans and x rays. While it is a slim chance, there is the possibility of operating. As you are aware, the damage is isolated to your Lumbar region, with L2 through 4 affected. Thankfully your Sacral region was unharmed during your ordeal. I want to make a two-inch incision above your S1 and separate the damaged nerves from the discs. From there I will repair the damaged vertebrae before reattaching the nerve fibres. If all goes to plan, you should regain feeling in your legs and feet. Over time and with extensive physiotherapy there is the possibility that you will walk again." He sat back, crossing his legs and awaiting her response.
Booth was processing the information. It sounded risky. There didn't seem to be that great a chance of success. He didn't understand all of what the doctor had said but even Booth knew that anything to do with detaching nerves from the spine was bad. He swallowed before casting a glance at Bones. She was nodding. She didn't seem to be particularly effected by the doctor's news.
"Do you have any questions?"
"No. That is sufficient."
"Hang on a second Bones. Don't you want to ask something? This is a big thing." Booth was shocked. It wasn't like her not to want to know everything about the situation. And this was something that was going to happen to her body. This wasn't her cutting into some corpse. This was her. If it were him he'd have a million questions.
"No. I accept what he has told me." She gave him a blank look. There went Bones. Booth sighed. This was her compartmentalising. Shutting down again.
"Well I have some questions." He turned back to the doctor. "What happens if she doesn't have the operation? No offence, but it sounds pretty dangerous."
"If the operation is not done, then Dr Brennan will remain paralysed indefinitely. Haste is key here. As soon as you are well enough, I would like to operate. The longer the injury is left, the more likely it is that there is permanent damage."
"And what happens if the surgery doesn't work?"
"Unfortunately, this is a one time deal, if I may. Because of the nature of the operation and by severing the nerves from the vertebrae, there is a high risk that it is unsuccessful. Due to the invasive nature of the operation, and the damage previously acquired, along with that of the surgery, it will be impossible to attempt it again."
"So what you are saying is that if she does nothing she'll be paralysed? But if she has the operation and you stuff it up she'll be paralysed?" Booth felt frustrated. He hated doctors and their double speak. It was all about covering themselves. None of it seemed to be about making sure the patient knew what was going on.
"In short; yes. You can do nothing, Dr Brennan, and you will remain in that chair. Or you can take a chance and undergo surgery. You may remain in the chair for life, or you may recover. The way I see it, you have nothing to lose. At least by having the surgery you give yourself a chance at recovery." He directed his comment to Bones, who was still sitting there blankly. Booth took her hand. The contact was more for him than her, as he was desperate to feel comfort. This was hard for him to take in, he couldn't imagine how it was for her.
"I cannot force you into this operation," the doctor continued. "But I do advise it. You still have some time to make your decision, but I will need to know your answer within two weeks. You will have to undergo some physical strengthening before the operation to ensure that you are at peak strength. The extra time will also allow for the remainder of your injuries to heal."
"I will let you know my decision by the end of the week." Brennan said calmly. She pulled her hand away from Booth's and placed it in her lap. Booth sighed. "Is that all? I would like to go home now."
"Alright, that's everything. But please, Dr Brennan, call if you have any more questions. I would like you to make an informed decision."
"That wont be necessary." Bones wheeled away from the two men and turned to face the door. Booth cocked an eyebrow at the doctor. Both men were amazed by how quick a study she was. It was like she'd been in the chair a lot longer than 20 minutes. Standing, Booth moved to open the door.
"I look forward to hearing from you, then." Were his final words before the doctor turned back to his desk and continued on with his work.
Booth walked alongside Bones as they made their way down the long hospital corridor. His mind was rolling over what he had just heard. But he was determined not to mention it. Bones had to make her own decisions and had to work this one out on her own.
"You still want to do lunch?" Booth asked nonchalantly as he walked beside Bones. She was wheeling the chair effortlessly now and had her eyes focussed determinedly ahead.
"Where were you thinking?" He tried to decipher her mood from her voice. It was hard. She sounded happy enough, but Booth was quickly learning that Bones had discovered how to lie to him. He did not like it.
"Do they have disabled access?"
It was a simple question, perfectly logical and fair enough. But Booth immediately realised what she was doing.
"I haven't noticed. But I can help you in."
"I am happy to eat at home. I don't want you to have to put yourself out."
"Not a problem." He stated casually. His voice told Bones he knew her game and welcomed no argument. "Its not far from here, lets go." And he turned and started in the direction of the bar. He didn't look back to see if she was following. He wasn't playing along with her, or indulging her obstinacy. She would either come along with him or she was perfectly capable of making her own way home. Booth had to start setting these boundaries. She had to realise that she could make her own choices, that he wasn't forcing her to do things. He didn't want her resenting him at the end of all this.
"You could have waited for me to turn this contraption around." Came a voice at his elbow. Glancing down he saw that she had chosen to come along. Good. He smiled at her.
"I think I'm going to have a burger. All that waiting around has made me hungry." He patted his stomach to emphasise his point.
"You are always hungry, Booth." Brennan informed him. Booth had to laugh. She had a point.
"Fair go there missy. I've seen you clean a table of Wong Fu's before so don't talk to me about being hungry." He cocked an eyebrow at her comically. Bones actually smiled. Booth felt his heart lift at that. He decided then and there that it would become his mission to make her smile as much as possible.
The walk to the Founding Fathers was a pleasant one. It wasn't all that far and the weather was good. Booth found himself tilting his face to the sun, enjoying the rays of warmth. He'd been cooped up in the apartment for too long. So had Bones. It felt nice to have some fresh air, some exercise, some heat.
"You look very peaceful, Booth." He turned to look at her.
"What do you mean?"
"You have been very tense lately. This is why I said I did not wish for you to care for me."
Booth stopped dead. Brennan, realising he was no longer beside her, stopped the chair and turned to face him.
"What is it?"
Booth gave her a long hard look.
"I'm not doing this again, Bones. I am going to be here with you right through this. The whole way. You and me. That's how we do these things. I know you'd do it for me. Now stop bringing it up!" He couldn't help the emotion in his voice and he wanted her to understand that this was important and he wasn't backing down.
"Ok," she said softly, looking down. Booth sighed and reached out to her, cupping her cheek.
"Bones, I'm not mad. Ok?" He tucked her hair back. "I just want you to believe me when I say that I am not leaving you. I am here for good. You can't get rid of me."
"I believe you. Nothing I've done to date has managed to get rid of you. I was starting to come to the conclusion that you were becoming a permanent fixture." She gave him a tentative smile. Booth smiled back. He could hear the question in her voice.
"That's right, Bones. For good." He appeased her. They shared a long look before she finally nodded, accepting his words.
Together they continued on their way, side by side.
Stay tuned for part 2.