Eighteen Minutes

By: Lesera128

Rated: M

Disclaimer:::stares:: ::blinks:: ::stares again:: Yeah. I still don't own anything…but, you knew that from the stares, right?

Summary: For 18 minutes, Dr. Temperance Brennan was clinically brain dead before resuscitation pulled her back to this life only for her to fall into a coma. When she finally wakes up, Brennan must cope with overwhelming losses and an ensuing crisis of faith. AU.

Author's Note: This story is set at the end of 4x25 'The Critic in the Cabernet." It veers into AU land just before the end of that episode. Just so that readers aren't confused - this story assumes that Booth never had a brain tumor, and thus, all of the events that ensued because of his tumor (i.e., brain surgery, coma dream, etc.) also never happened. This story also assumes that Brennan was inseminated as planned.

A note to first-time readers - welcome. In case you don't know, my writing starts slow, but it always finishes hard and fast. It's highly probable that readers will have many questions as the story progresses, but I promise, before everything is said and done, answers will always be provided. Promise. Also, despite how this prologue may make it seem, this is not in any way, shape, or form a story that contains supernatural, fantasy, or science fiction elements. You'll see what I mean shortly, so bear with me and keep that in mind as we go along. And, yes, for those still wondering I still have yet to write a story where Brennan and Booth have never ended up together eventually, somehow and in someway. Now, if you're still with me, it's time to get rolling...~

Prologue: It Started With a Fall

As he walked towards where he'd left his car, Special Agent Seeley Booth shook his head in vehement response to his partner's last statement. "No way, Bones, not gonna happen," Booth said as he went to the driver's side his black, standard government-issue Toyota Sequoia SUV. "This isn't a good idea. and therefore it's not happening."

"But, why not?" Dr. Temperance Brennan insisted, following him to the driver's side of the car, as she continued to press her advantage and try to sway him in favor of her point. "You said it yourself. Grant's just a carpenter. And, he's work for a church, Booth."

"That happens to be an active construction site," Booth countered with a shake of his head. "So, like I said—no way, Bones. It's just too dangerous."

"Aren't you always the one who's telling me that nothing bad can happen at church?" Brennan said as she arched an eyebrow at him. "Aren't you the one who's always said that the House of God is a place of peace?"

"No," Booth corrected her with a firm shake of his head. "I'm the one who keeps telling you that it's a good thing to go to church because bad things do happen… everywhere, Bones. Bad things happen all the time, everywhere, and sometimes they happen to good people, and going to church helps makes sense of senselessness."

Brennan considered making one of her standard cracks about the illogical claims of such acts stemming from a single omnipotent, omniscient deity. However, she also knew that making such statements tended to inflame Booth's ire, and that was the last thing that she wanted. So, keep your mouth shut for a minute, Brennan, she counseled herself. If you want him to take you with him, it's probably not a good idea to make snide comments on his belief system that'll just piss him off even more. But, maybe there's another tack I can take... Sticking her lip out just a bit, Brennan began to pout. "But, Booth—"

Sighing, Booth shook his head as he instantly realized what she was doing. "Oh, come on, Bones." He shot her a look that seemed to say 'are you kidding me?' Shaking his head, he said, "Really? You're going to fall back on the good ole standby of giving me the trembling lip that doesn't even work when Parker does it?"

Unable to help herself, Brennan smiled as she raised her face to meet his gaze. "Perhaps this is something that Parker's done on occasion—"

"It's manipulation, Bones," Booth said as he wagged his finger at him. "Pure and simple."

"Well," Brennan said, "I wouldn't have to resort to such tactics if you'd just give in and agree to let me come with you."

"See, Bones, the thing is, it doesn't work when Parker does it, so why should it work when you do it?" Booth asked her as he arched an eyebrow to emphasize his point.

Again, Brennan smiled a bit, a shy but slightly evil smile as she said, "But, Booth?"

"Yeah, Bones?" he sighed in response.

"You're forgetting one crucial difference between Parker and I," she said.

"And, what's that?" he asked.

"You said I've got a cuter smile than Parker so I'm probably more skilled at affecting a response from you than Parker is, and—"

When Booth sighed again, Brennan knew that she almost had him. I know that sigh. That sigh means he's close to giving in to either the logic of my argument or the persuasiveness of my physical cues...ha! "Booth—" she again said.

"Come on, Bones," Booth said one last time, hoping that perhaps one last attempt at reasoning with the forensic anthropologist might be more fruitful than just trying to be more stubborn than she was. Because, as stubborn as I am, I don't think that I can beat her on that one—as much as I'd really like to be able to... "You know it's not a good idea."

"Why?" Brennan asked as she blinked at him several times in expectation of hearing his argument.

"You know very well why," Booth said. "You haven't been in the field in almost a month. Not since—"

"It's pure coincidence that a lull in our casework has coincided with the day I was inseminated, Booth," Brennan observed logically. She waved her hand dismissively as she said, "I haven't been trying to avoid fieldwork. This is the first time we've actually had a legitimate reason for me to accompany you somewhere—"

"But," Booth began to protest.

"No," Brennan interrupted him, a subtle change coming over her as she realized why he was being stubborn about allowing her to accompany him. "I refuse to allow you to begin to brow beat me into submission, exercising tedious, albeit understandable, alpha male tendencies just because you think I'm carrying your progeny, Booth." She stopped for a moment, frowned, and then shook her head. "Besides, we don't even know if the procedure took. We still have another week before my OB/GYN said it would be appropriate to take a pregnancy test—"

"Why bother?" Booth muttered more to himself than to Brennan. However, ever one with an acute sense of hearing, Brennan heard his snide comment...and the one that followed it. "You're certainly being hormonal enough for me to think it took—"

At his final comment, Brennan narrowed a particularly nasty look at Booth.

He stared at her for several seconds, immediately realizing that she'd not only heard his backhanded comment, but that she was pissed off about it. Knowing that there was only one thing that he could do to appease her at that point, he shook his head. "Okay!" Booth said suddenly. "Fine, Bones. You can come."

Instantly, like a gloomy cloud disappearing before a bright ray of sunshine, Brennan's look of displeasure disappeared, and she smiled a knowing smile at Booth. He sighed as she walked around to the front passenger's side and climbed into the SUV, grinning in triumph.

Shaking his head, Booth muttered to himself, "God, help me, because if you are pregnant, I'm never going to be able to survive this pregnancy. I'm telling ya, I'm going to be—"

"Booth! Come on! We're going to be late!" Brennan yelled from inside the SUV.

"—in so much trouble," Booth finished as he opened up the driver's side door and climbed in with another exaggerated sigh.

However, as was often the case, as soon as they arrived at the church, Booth knew he should've trusted his instincts. From the moment they pulled into the parking lot at the construction site that was the once and future location of St. Gerald Majella Roman Catholic Church, things went wrong. Booth hadn't even had the chance to pull out his badge, and identify himself as a federal agent in search of one James Grant, before a thin and wiry young man with shaggy light brown hair and watery blue eyes bolted from where he'd been helping to cut a piece of plywood at a circular saw. Booth immediately drew his firearm and took off in pursuit of Grant, stopping only long enough to bark two ferocious words at Brennan who had yet to fully exit the SUV. "Stay there!"

For a couple of minutes, as Brennan watched Grant take refuge in the scaffolding of the building's incomplete skeleton, and watched Booth in hot pursuit of his suspect, she did as her partner had asked. However, watching Grant and Booth dodge in and out of her line of vision from where she stood on the ground next to the SUV, in compliance with Booth's command, Brennan felt a growing anxiety continue to increase. Several additional minutes passed as the FBI agent and the suspect went higher and higher into the scaffolding. At one point, Brennan saw a clear vision of Booth. He looked resentfully winded and viciously determined, but also frustratingly perplexed, as he seemed to have lost sight of Grant in he course of pursuit. However, from her vantage point, Brennan saw a flash of red that was the color of the t-shirt that Grant had been wearing.

Trying to get her partner's attention, Brennan gestured wildly with her arms. "Booth!" Brennan yelled. "He's there… just there. To your right. He's headed—"

And, that was when she saw it, and her face paled as her eyes widened in fear.

From where she stood on the ground, Brennan knew Booth couldn't hear her even if he had been looking at the ground to see the information she'd been trying to communicate to him. Biting her lip, her hands clasped defiantly on her hips, Brennan shook her head vehemently as she muttered, "I'm sorry, Booth. But, the potential of you getting yourself killed invalidates any promises for me to stay here where you think it's safe just because you think I'm hormonal."

Her decision made, Brennan rushed forward, leaving the safety of the SUV, and charged in the direction she knew Booth was headed because Grant had laid out a trap for him – perfectly.

Several minutes later, as Brennan had scaled the scaffolding with a type of dexterity that surprised both men, things went from bad to worse in Booth's mind's eye.

"Stay right there!" Grant yelled at Booth in warning. He jerked Brennan in one direction, digging the fingers of his left hand into her arm. "Stop messing around," he growled at her.

Brennan, hazarding a quick glance to see if Booth's gun was still aimed at them both, felt a wave of lightheadedness crest over her as she tried to figure out a way to get free of Grant's grasp. As she moved, Grant's arms tightened around her again as his fingers clawed their way into her soft flesh, making her wince. Quickly, she tried to figure out how this had happened. How had Grant even come to know I was there, let alone turned things around on me? Stupid, Brennan! This was just so stupid—and, more importantly, Booth's never going to let you live this one down, Brennan. Never. I mean, come on...you should've known better. Grant's may be just a kid, but he was smart enough to catch you in his hold, wasn't he? Now, stop wasting time and do what you always do best—think. Start thinking about a way to get out of this so that Booth doesn't try to keep you out of the field forever.

Brennan's thoughts were immediately interrupted as she heard the familiar growl of her partner.

"Let her go, Jamie!" Booth called. "Right now, you've only got a charge of resisting arrest added to that accusation of murdering your girlfriend."

"I didn't kill Clara! I loved her," Grant said, a bit of emotion cracking his voice.

"Fine, kid. Then, don't do anything stupid. Let the legal system do it's job. If you're innocent, the courts will prove it," Booth said.

"No way, man!" Grant retorted. "You've already decided I did it, and if I ever go to trial, there's no way in hell you'll ever let a jury find me innocent."

"I don't have that much control over things," Booth told Grant honestly, a bit of softness coming into his voice. However, he quickly narrowed his eyes again and the softness was immediately replaced with an edge as hard and cold as the touch of steel when Booth warned him, "But, if you don't let my partner go in about thirty seconds, we're going to have two really big problems. First, you're going to at least have a second count of assaulting a federal law enforcement officer tagged onto your slew of other charges, along with anything else I can think of from false imprisonment to littering. But, even more important, you're going to have really, really pissed me off, and when I get angry, I can't guarantee that my finger might not slip and—"

"He's a trained sniper," Brennan quietly breathed so that only Grant could hear her. "If he takes a shot at you, he won't miss. You'll be dead."

"I'm not dying today," Grant said in a voice that was loud enough that Brennan wasn't sure if he'd said it so she would hear it, Booth, or both of them. "I didn't do it."

"Then, let me go, and we'll talk—" Brennan said, trying to maintain her calm and steady voice as then an idea suddenly came to her. I just need a bit more time and a bit more room. "I can help you if you just let me go. I promise I will."

"No, you won't," Grant snickered at her. "All women are liars and whores. Clara said she loved me, and she said she'd help me, too. But, she never did. All she did was leave me, get herself into trouble with that asshole she was fucking, and then left me to take the blame for his fuck up. Well, no more. I'm not doing it again. I'm not paying the freight for someone else's mistakes—"

"Come on, Jamie!" Booth bellowed again. "Clock's ticking here."

"Please let me go," Brennan said, quite calmly. She hoped the projected demeanor of submissiveness would be enough to distract Grant. I just need an inch or two more, and I know I can get free myself.

"Let her go, Jamie!" Booth called. "If you don't want to believe her, than believe me. I'll help you if I can, but not if you do this. So, what's it gonna be because this is it. Last chance—"

"Will he do it?" Grant suddenly asked as he jerked Brennan towards him and his panicked blue eyes met hers. "Will he?"

"Booth's the most honorable man I know," Brennan said slowly. "He...if he said he'd help you, he will."

"Do you believe that?" Grant asked, some of his panicked bravado finally cracking. "Honestly and truly?"

"I'd trust Booth with my life," Brennan nodded. "I have faith in him...always."

"You're certain?" Grant pressed again. "Because...if you're wrong, then we're both dead."

"I'd stake my life on Booth any day," Brennan nodded. And, I think I just did. Don't make me a liar, Booth. Please. "I believe in him. And, if he gave you his word that he'll help you, he meant it."

Feeling Grant's fingers ease up as his grasp loosened when he nodded at her, Brennan didn't wait to waste the opportunity. Spinning away, Brennan struggled to get free. Quickly, she felt a moment of elation at her success when she no longer felt Grant's arms around her. However, the elation quickly turned to panic as she felt a hard shove respond to her movements, and very, very quickly, Brennan realized she had run out of room on the building's iron rafter. Her feet struggling for footing that just wasn't there to be found, the thought that she was actually falling didn't register in Brennan's conscious mind before she heard Booth scream her name and an explosion of searing whiteness overwhelmed her.

It was one of the worse things that Booth had ever seen, and he'd seen a lot of terrible things in his life.

The trite adage, was, in this case—true.

For a split second, as soon as he saw her begin to fall, time seemed to slow down to a simple crawl. Each and every single moment registered in Booth's mind. He saw Brennan spin away from Grant, he saw Grant lose his balance in surprise at her sudden movement, and stumble to remain upright. He watched as Grant knocked into Brennan, transferring some of his momentum to her, and he saw the surprised look on Brennan's face as she realized she had run out of room. Then, most sickening of all, he watched her fall off of the scaffolding, arms and legs flailing, her bright blue eyes widening in surprise and shock as she fell. And, then, because he couldn't help himself, Booth looked away as her body crashed into the ground below in a sickening thud of splintering wood and cracking bone.

Sometime later, Booth continued holding her hand as the ambulance jerked along its way, and the EMTs continued to work on Brennan.

"Caucasian, female, 33, sustained severe trauma from a fall of approximately forty-five feet. She was pushed off a fourth story floor—"

"Pupils are dilated and respiration shallow. Heart rate is at 55 and falling—"

"Her BP is falling way too fast. It's down to 75 over 42—"

"Shit! She's going into VTAC… we're going to need the paddles—"

Booth felt his hand pushed away from Brennan's as he struggled to watch what was happening. With each charge of the panels, he felt a cry choke in his throat as he watched her body convulse and felt the terror quickly transition to paralyzing panic as she remained unresponsive before the whole cycle started all over again.

The ambulance pulled to a stop in front of the nearest hospital with a quick jerking motion that would have made him want to throw up if he wasn't already nauseous. Sitting there next to Brennan's stretcher, covered in her blood, Booth stared wide-eyed and slack jawed as the doors to the ambulance opened and another person entered the back of the vehicle.

"So, do you want to call it?" an EMT asked the ER doc that had joined them as they continued to work on pushing oxygen into Brennan's lungs through a bag.

"Call what?" the doctor asked as he surveyed the familiar scene with a critical eye.

"Time of death," the second EMT tech said, a bit more softly as she looked at Booth with a sorrowful and apologetic nod at him. "She coded twice on the way here, and we managed to get a heartbeat, but this last time, well, we've kept working on her, but I just...I can't get a stable rhythm- so, should we call it?"

Glancing from one EMT to the other, the doctor then gazed at the heart monitor that continued to show no pulse, no sign of life, just the final and damning image of a flat line.


Author's Note - continued - So, there it is. I've been sitting on this piece for several months...not because I wasn't sure what I was going to do with it, but just because I wasn't sure when it was time to share. Now, I think it is...so I'd love to hear back from you all. And, to those who are wondering where in the hell my other story updates are...well, I promise—they're coming soon. I have about four chapters in four different stories in different stages of near completion. Now, I just need to buckle down and finish them. That should be happening in fairly short order. It'll be worth the wait, I promise. :)~