AN: This is my story for the 2012 Bones Secret Santa fanfic exchange organized by Biba79. My prompts came from Excellent Driver and the first of the three she listed was this: What if Booth hadn't been able to get to Brennan in time and she was hit by the car in "Doctor in the Photo?" That idea just jumped out at me immediately. My first, instinctive reaction was that I couldn't possibly go there, there was no way I could - or should - touch that moment. I mean, DitP is sort of a sacred cow for Bones. Should I dare to apply a fanfiction twist? Yikes. There would be wailing and gnashing of teeth and rending of garments - I'd probably be hung in effigy by the condescending self-proclaimed Deciders of What is Acceptable in Fanfiction crowd - there would be voodoo dolls named MJ, filled with pins and needles . . . Fuck it. I'm doing it. And, obviously, I did. Let the hand-wringing begin! :-)

E-Drive, thank you so much not only for this prompt but your other two options, as well. You can bet I will also be using both of them later on!

(The name and chapter titles for this fic come from a song called The Heart Won't Lie, sung by Reba McEntire and Vince Gill. It's an old '90s country song, lovely not only in lyrics but because Vince Gill has what I think is one of the most beautiful tenor voices ever. The song gives me goosebumps and the lyrics are made for this story. It's worth a YouTube look, if you don't hate country music.)

Thank you for reading.

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"What else did you learn in that lecture?"

"That there's no such thing as objectivity. That we're all just interpreting signals from the universe and trying to make sense of them."

Micah's simple answer to a question about a lecture series buzzed around Brennan's brain. She looked up at him quizzically. "Signals from the universe," she repeated thoughtfully.

He nodded. "Dim, shaky, weak, staticky little signals that only hint at the complexity of a universe we cannot begin to comprehend." Then he smiled, his warm brown eyes sparkling with humour, and shrugged with typical Micah-like self-deprecation. "That's what the lecture said, anyway." He looked around the room one last time, then casually walked away.

Brennan's eyes widened as a thought occurred to her. "Signals . . . from the universe." She fumbled with the scattering of papers on her desk until she found the small pouch with the disc she needed and inserted it into the CD player. She switched it on and pressed the headphones back into her ears. As her own voice filled her head, she paced restlessly around limbo.

"Charlie Whaling, nine years old, presented with a subarachnoid hemorrhage after automobile collision. Emergency HCT showed extensive damage around the aneurysm, which had thrombosed. He rapidly deteriorated to the point of complete expressive aphasia and right hemiplegia. Whaling family has yet to update organ donation status."

She hurried to a desk covered in files, picked them up individually and just as quickly tossed each one aside until she found what she wanted. "Charlie Whaling was brain-dead. You wanted his heart for Sam Dworsky," she realized. "Where did Charlie's parents live?" she asked as she pulled a Jeffersonian notepad close.

Once again, the information came out in her own voice. "1255B Franklin Street, in Woodland."

With a jerk of her hand, she removed the ear buds and, her strides long and purposeful, went immediately to her office where she slowed only long enough to grab her coat from the wooden tree on which it hung and confirm the pocket held her wallet. From the catwalk above the platform, Micah watched the sliding doors close behind her.

Rain was just beginning to fall when Brennan left the Jeffersonian. She had taken only a few steps in the direction of the closest metro stop before a passing cab caught her eye. "Taxi!" she yelled, as she flung out her arm. "Taxi!" When it rolled to a stop, she slid gratefully into the warm interior. "Woodland," she told the driver when he turned back to ask her destination. "Franklin Street."

Beneath a Washington Redskins baseball cap, the driver's face expressed his disdain for the location. "Woodland? At this time of night?" He shook his head. "What's somebody like you want in Woodland?"

"Please hurry," was Brennan's only response.

Disgruntled, he nonetheless gave in. "I'm gonna need half the fare up front, lady."

Without comment, Brennan withdrew her wallet and handed over $20. "Is this sufficient?"

"I guess." He tucked the bill above his sun visor and pulled out into traffic.

Staring out the rain-splattered window, a wild whirlwind of disconnected thoughts and snatches of old memories spinning through her brain, Brennan didn't notice him studying her from the rear-view mirror. She didn't see the road or the traffic outside, she saw Booth standing in front of her again, frantic and almost desperate. He morphed into a tall, young pilot with sad, regret-filled eyes . . . who became a macabre fleshless hand wearing her mother's dolphin ring.

" . . . she became logical to the extreme . . . she made herself not care . . ."

" . . . I don't have your kind of open heart . . ."

" . . . she made herself not care . . ."

" . . . I'm that guy, Bones . . ."

" . . . God, I'd have been so good for her. She should have given me a chance . . ."

" . . . in order for her to stop feeling nothing, she began behaving erratically . . ."

" . . . she made herself not care . . ."

" . . . just give it a chance, that's all I'm asking . . ."

" . . . I'm a scientist, I can't change . . ."

" . . . look at the way things turned out. What did she have to lose?"

" . . . she began behaving erratically . . ."

" . . . I believe in giving this a chance . . ."

" . . . I'd have been so good for her . . ."

" . . . what did she have to lose?"

" . . . it was her biggest regret . . ."

"Stop!"

Cursing beneath his breath, the driver slammed on his brakes at Brennan's shouted order and immediately struggled to control the car as it skidded forward on the wet pavement. "What the hell, lady!" he yelled angrily.

Brennan ignored him and opened her door. "I'll be right back," she said, just before she threw it closed behind her.

He lowered the passenger window and peered out into the darkness. "Hey," he shouted after her, "you think I'm gonna wait?" He glanced down at his meter. "You still owe me fifteen bucks!"

His words never registered as she walked out into the middle of the street. Her head turned toward a row of apartments, then she reached into her coat pocket and withdrew a scrap of paper.

"I ain't gonna wait long!" he yelled again. "I ain't getting jacked for no fifteen dollars!" Frustrated, he rolled up the window. "Crazy-ass white people," he grumbled. "I knew I shouldn't have-"

Something in the road itself caught her attention; Brennan knelt down to examine it more closely.

The interior of the cab was suddenly illuminated by the bright headlights of a car speeding around the corner.

Brennan stood up.

Brakes squealed and locked.

"Shit!" The cabbie's fist pounded against the horn in the steering wheel. "Get out of the way, you crazy bitch! Move!" he screamed.

Tires hissed against the wet surface of the road as the driver of the other car lost control.

Brennan's arm shot out in a futile gesture of protection.

"NO!"

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Booth allowed the door to fall shut behind him as he entered his apartment and dropped his gym bag to the floor with a thud. With a weary sigh, he sank down on the couch and, eyes closed, let his head fall back.

"Hey!" Hannah's upbeat tones came from his left. "I thought I heard you come in."

"Uh," he grunted. Without lifting his head he let it swivel toward the sound of her voice and opened his eyes. His brow furrowed as he took in the shoulder-baring dress she wore and the earrings she was just putting in. "I thought we were staying in tonight."

"Yea, about that," she began, switching her attention to her other ear. "The network is having a little thing and I need to be there." When he didn't respond immediately, she paused. "You don't have to go," she offered, somewhat grudgingly, "if you don't want to."

His hesitation was only barely perceptible before he shook his head and smiled. "No, of course I'll go with you. Just give me a few minutes to get moving again."

"mmmm." She sat down next to him and put a hand on his knee. "Rough day?" she asked sympathetically.

His eyes fell shut again. "Yea . . . it's this case - I can't -" He spread one hand across his forehead and rubbed his temples with his fingers and thumb. "And something is eating at Bones . . . she's . . . I don't know, there's something . . ."

"She didn't seem herself yesterday, when we were in your office," Hannah agreed. "It's not like her to snap like that."

Booth sat up. "I know." He loosened his shoulders by rotating them with a wide, circular movement. "I just can't get a handle on what it is, though. Or why."

Hannah gave his knee a squeeze. "Well, I wouldn't worry about it," she consoled him. "I'm sure Temperance will figure it out eventually. After all, she's brilliant, you know - just ask her!" she added with a laugh.

Booth's lips curved upward in a move that resembled a smile before he pushed himself to his feet. "Okay, shower," he announced and headed toward the bathroom. "Fifteen minutes," he promised over his shoulder, "and we're out the door."

With the water at the hottest temperature he could stand, Booth braced himself beneath the shower head and let the harsh spray beat down over his neck and shoulders. The heat offered some relief to muscles that ached from the night's overuse at the gym but did nothing to ease an exhaustion that felt as if it went bone-deep. Resigned, he shook his head and turned off the shower. He was just tired, he told himself, as the water drained away. Nothing more. He'd go to this party with Hannah, maybe talk her into leaving early. They'd come home, have sex, he'd get a good night's sleep and tomorrow, it would all be different.

Tomorrow, he'd figure everything out.

He'd just stepped out of the shower when he heard his phone ring from the living room. "Can you get that?" he yelled as he reached for a towel. "Hannah?"

"Okay!" Her voice carried clearly through the closed door.

After drying off, Booth used the towel to clear the steam from the mirror then wrapped it around his waist.

Outside the bathroom, Hannah knocked once then pushed the door open.

"Who was that on the phone?" he asked as he ran a comb through his hair.

She hesitated. "It was Dr. Hodgins." She still held his phone in her hand.

Booth picked up his toothbrush. "He got something for me?"

"Seeley . . ."

A note in her voice raised an alarm. His hand froze on the faucet as he met her eyes in the mirror. "What?"

Her face was pale. "There's . . . there's been an accident."

His gaze sharpened. "Is Angela okay? Baby okay?"

Hannah shook her head. "It's not - " She took a deep breath. "It's Temperance."

The toothbrush clattered to the sink as he turned to face her directly. "What?"

She looked at him with sorrow etched on her face. "Seeley - "

Booth took an almost threatening step forward. "What about Bones, Hannah?" he demanded. "What happened? Is she okay?"

For one moment in time, while he waited for her answer, it felt as if the earth ceased to rotate.

Finally, she shook her head again.

"Seeley," she whispered, as tears began to form, "they don't think she's going to make it."

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What? I just left it there? Just hanging like that?

I can't believe I did that! It's awful! I should be ashamed of myself! I'm the Worst. Person. Ever!

I mean, really . . . talk about a shameless ploy to get you to keep reading . . . geez. The nerve!

But you'll be back to find out what happens next . . . right?

:-D

(Thanks for reading!)