A/N - A one-shot I just couldn't resist based on the 8.15 sweeps week promo.
It had been such a stupid argument. One he should've never started given the fact they were in the middle of a murder investigation. But he had and now she was gone. She escaped to the lab, to find solace in her science, not where she should be, with him.
It was entirely that bastard, Pelant's fault. If he hadn't wiped out Hodgins' bank accounts, the Jeffersonian wouldn't have lost a chunk of their funding and in turn they wouldn't have cut the daycare program. But he did and they did, which left them floundering to find a place to put Christine when they were at work.
He thought he had found something perfect until Bones countered with a place she had in mind. The problem? Her place cost double what his place cost.
"I can't see spending two grand a month on daycare."
"If it's the cost, I can cover the extra. I don't expect you to take care of it"
"It's not the money,' he said through gritted teeth, even though that was part of the reason. He knew she was only trying to be helpful but he hated when she threw the fact that she made more money than he did in his face. It made him feel less of a man somehow, even if it wasn't logical. He wanted her to be able to rely on him, expect him to take care of things like that.
"Oh. Well, it's an excellent program. The curriculum is very progressive. Here, take a look."
She handed him a brochure with pictures that made his head swim; little children that looked like they were the next squint squad in training, emotionless faces in a high-tech class room.
"Curriculum?" He tossed the brochure to the floor. "She's not even two years old. Whatever happened to good-old fashioned playing? Building blocks, puzzles …dolls? Besides, I don't have the salary to throw down twenty four grand a year for what amounts to glorified babysitting. I found a perfectly good place that I can afford."
"I told you, Booth, that isn't an issue. I can-"
"No," he interrupted. "It's not just about money. Not anymore. If normal daycare was good enough for Parker, why isn't it good enough for Christine?"
Her mouth gaped open then closed immediately afterward. With a stubborn tilt to her jaw, she turned away from him and began gathering up her things and shoving them with purpose into her satchel.
"I want Christine to be academically stimulated and intellectually challenged. That's all."
"Why? So she can grow up to be an emotionally stunted genius with no faith?"
He didn't say the words "like you" at the end but he didn't have to. They both heard them. They hung heavily in the air between them. He caught the flash of pain in her features, the sheen of moisture in her eyes before she blinked it away. He saw the way her jaw go slack and her head cock slightly to one side as if she couldn't quite believe what he just said. No. Not said. Implied.
"I'm going to the lab," she said, her voice warbling just a little with the threat with unshed tears.
She closed the door quietly behind her and she was gone.
It was the door clicking shut behind her that propelled him into action. How did he not realize she was leaving? Flinging the door open, he ran barefoot down the front steps, ignoring the gravel biting at his feet.
But he was too late. Her car was already heading down the darkened street and he could only watch until her red taillights turned the corner and faded from view.
"Damnit!" he hissed out loud to the quiet street before turning around and going back inside. He wanted to go after her, apologize for being a prideful ass but he couldn't. Christine slept upstairs, oblivious and he could do nothing but wait. Lying down on the sofa, he was going to do just that.
Two hours later, he was still lying on the couch, tossing his old hacky sack up and down, his ears attune to every sound, every car that drove by, hoping one of them would pull into the driveway and she would be back home again.
The hell with this, he thought, when he heard Christine's first cries of awakening. If she wasn't coming home, he was taking them to her.
The lab was too dark and quiet and just plain creepy without the squint squad there to breathe life into it. He was only able to heart his own footsteps, the gentle roll of the stroller wheels and Christine's soft gurgling on her teething toy as he navigated through the abandoned halls.
"Bones," he called out in a hushed whisper. "Where are you?"
He didn't know why he was whispering but there was something eerie about this place at night. Maybe it was echoes of his foot falls, the gleaming sanitized floors under cavernous high-tech ceilings or - it could've been all the dead bodies lying around.
"Bones," he said again, this time a little louder.
Limbo had been the first place he looked and she wasn't on the forensics platform nor was she in her office. That left one place; her examining suite. Of course, he wanted to smack himself on the head. That's where the skeletal remains for the new case were. Of course, she'd be there; toiling over the evidence, puzzling the pieces together.
As he walked down the hall, he thought of what to say, how to apologize – for him, for his pride. He should've called Sweets. As much as he hated to admit it, the kid had a way with words and he could sure use some wisdom right now.
Something wasn't right. He felt it in his gut like a sucker punch to the soul as soon as he entered the room. The light was on over the examining table, showing the scattered skeleton of their current victim but there was no sign of Bones. Focusing his attention, he saw a metal cart turned over on its side and all her tools spilled on the floor.
That's when he noticed the blood; a large puddle of it, spreading out over the tile. And in that instant he knew.
He rushed as fast as his legs would take him and then he saw her. Bones, with her weird magnifying glasses on top of her head was lying unconscious in a viscous pool of her own blood, spreading out slowly around her.
His knees hit the floor with a bang next to her in the red liquid. He used one hand to remove those hideous glasses while the other checked the side of her neck for a pulse. His eyes scanned her body, trying to locate the origin of her injury.
He found it; a hole the size of a well-aimed bullet right under her breast bone. The amount of blood pouring out of her suggested there was an exit wound. This wasn't just bad, this was catastrophic.
"Somebody! Anybody! I need help here!" he screamed out, hoping that there was nighttime security around that would hear him.
"Please, please," he begged, moving his fingers frantically in search of any sign of life. She was so still, too still and it scared the hell out of him. Ah, there it was. Her pulse was faint, thready and fading but it was still there and it was only that and the fact that their daughter was there that kept him from crossing the line into insane territory.
Security wasn't coming but he had no time to ponder over why or more importantly how an intruder got in past the heavy security measures without tripping the alarms. Blowing out a breath, he ripped off his jacket and applied pressure to the wound while simultaneously reaching for his cell phone.
"This is Seeley Booth with the FBI." His voice shook as he spoke automatically into the phone. He could only see the wealth of blood soaking through his jacket, staining his fingers. "I need a crime scene team and ambulance at the Jefferson. We have a civilian down with a GSW to the upper abdominal cavity."
He didn't know how long he sat there, watching her bleed out and the color leech from her skin, praying she survived, hating the fact that the last words he spoke to her, the ones spoken in anger may the last words he would ever say to her.
No, he couldn't give up on her. That was not an option. As long as she had a breath in her body, he had hope.
The wails of the sirens coming closer pulled his attention towards the entrance. Christine had fallen back asleep, oblivious to what was going on around her. He was grateful for that at least. No child even one as young as she should ever have to see what he was forced to look at now. The sight of Bones lying lifeless in a pool of her own blood would be forever ingrained in his memories and no matter what way it turned out, it would be a product of nightmares for years to come.
"In here!" he shouted towards the doorway when he heard the sounds of rushing footsteps.
He whipped his head towards her. Her eyes were mere slits as she looked at him; the vibrant blue of them dulling as the seconds ticked by as if the life was slowly being extinguished from them.
"It's going to be okay, Bones. I promise. You have to fight. Okay? Stay with me."
"Booth." Her tongue darted over her bottom lip. "Sorry...love you."
Why did it sound like she was making a deathbed apology? "No, Bones, I'm sorry." He gripped her hand tighter. "Just stay with me."
There was no chance for him to say anything else. The paramedics came in and it was controlled chaos. The frantic pace of the EMT's as they worked on her, calling out numbers and terms he barely recognized before they put her on the gurney.
His head whipped around to see Cam running towards him, looking like she had just rolled out of bed. When she saw his tormented face, her eyes immediately darted to the figure on the gurney and let out a loud gasp. "Is that Dr. Brennan?"
"How did you know?" he asked her in a gravelly voice.
"I got a call saying there was a disturbance at the lab. What – how did-?"
Booth shook his head. There was no time for explanations especially when he didn't have any. "I need a favor."
He threw her his car keys with shaky hands. "Take Christine in my car to the hospital with you. I have – I need to go with Bones."
"Christine's here?" Cam looked for the infant and found her, asleep in the stroller. Her face softened. "Of course, I will."
If someone were to ask him anything about the ride to the hospital in the ambulance, he would only be able to recall the muffled voices of the EMT's, his own desperate pleas and her eyes; eyes that were fighting to stay open, eyes that when they closed, felt like his whole world was crumbling around him.
He ran with the gurney, through the ER doors, grasping her hand as tight as he dared, too afraid to let go.
"Stay with me. Fight. Don't give up," he chanted like a mantra, each syllable punctuated by an echoing running step until he was stopped and wasn't allowed any further.
The OR doors shut in his face, the view of his world reduced to a small window where he watched men and women wearing white and blue work over the woman covered in red; his Bones.
"Sir," a gentle voice spoke to him pulling him from his vigil. "Sir, you can't stand here."
"But that's my…" Booth fought to find the best phrase to describe what Bones was to him; partner, lover, world. "…girlfriend," he finished, the word sounding lame on his tongue.
The nurse's face softened in sympathy. "I understand but this is an active doorway. Nurses and doctors need to be able to move through it freely. There are chairs you can sit it just a few feet to your left."
He looked over at the waiting area, filled with its plastic, cushion-covered chairs and noted the people occupying the seats all in various stages of anxiety and grimaced. He forced one foot in front of the other until he collapsed in one of the chairs, bowing his head into his hands.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. She was supposed to be safe in the lab. What the fuck happened?
"Booth," His head shot up when he heard Cam's voice. She was approaching quickly with Christine in the stroller and he had the overwhelming urge to pick his daughter up and hold her tightly to his chest. "have you heard anything yet?"
He shook his head, not trusting his voice as he scooped his daughter up and held her to him, stroking her baby fine hair. She still had her teether grasped in her chubby hands, her face curious but content, completely unaware to the turmoil surrounding her.
"How could this have happened, Cam? How did someone manage to get into a lab with more security than Fort Knox? With a gun? How does that happen? Tell me." He fisted his hands in his hair in aggravation.
"I – I wish I could. The FBI is there investigating now."
"I want everyone questioned. Every surveillance tape viewed. No stone is to be left unturned."
"They're your people, Booth. I'm sure they will do everything right. Why was Dr. Brennan there so late?"
Booth averted his gaze, shame and guilt creeping into his eyes. "We had a fight."
He didn't want to hear the pity in her voice, not now, not when he didn't deserve it. "I don't want to talk about it."
"Okay." She sat down next to him. "We won't talk about it." Letting out a deep sigh, she continued. "Dr. Brennan is one of the most stubborn women I have ever had the privilege to meet. She would never allow a bullet to get the best of her."
"That's what I'm praying for Cam, that's what I'm praying for."
"Just so you know, I called Hodgins. They'll probably be here soon."
Which reminded him; "Damn it, I need to call Max. I just can't think, I can't-"
"I'll do it."
"No. This has to come from me," he said, determined and praying he didn't get his head lobbed off in the process. Forcing himself to a standing position, he excused himself to find a quieter place to make the call while still keeping the doorway where Bones had been wheeled through in his line of sight.
He found himself behind a large potted tree. With his hand holding his phone to his ear and his foot tapping on the floor, he waited. He was just about to hang up when Max answered the phone.
"Okay Booth, just spit it out. Do you need my amazing babysitting services again? Sweets not working out for –"
There was only a brief silence, marked by a sharp intake of breath.
"What's wrong with Tempe?"
"She-" Booth took a hard swallow, nearly choking on the words. "She was shot."
"Where are you?"
"I'll be there soon."
Max hadn't asked for any details and for that he was grateful. He knew there would be no shortage of questions later. He just didn't have the answers. He shoved his hand through his hair and turned around, his stomach dropping when he saw Cam by the OR doors, blinking furiously with her hand over her mouth. He barely registered Angela, Hodgins and Sweets standing with her.
"Cam?" He raced toward her, feeling panicked. There was something wrong. "What's going on?"
"What is it?"
Booth pushed through them until he got to the window of the door that separated him from Bones. Her body rose with a jerk as the defibrillator connected with her chest. A quick glance at the monitors and the long, steady beep, told Booth it failed. He pressed his palms against the glass, praying to the God she didn't believe in and hoped that he believed enough for the both of them.
Her body came off the operating table again but the steady beep carried on. They were losing her. He was losing her.
There was no pain. How odd. She could recall the sound of a gunshot right before the feeling of extreme burning ripping into her upper torso. She remembered thinking, so this is what being shot feels like and would've preferred to have remained ignorant. She saw Booth's terrified eyes and heard his frantic voice above her, telling her to stay, to fight but right now she felt nothing.
She took a chance at opening her eyes, just to see and found herself on a sofa in a room that she hadn't been in in years.
This can't be right, she thought as she slowly stood up, noting she was in her lab clothes; untainted and whole. She blinked a few times to clear her vision. She had to be seeing this wrong but no, nothing shifted, nothing changed. The room and all of its contents were exactly the same and it was the exact replica of the living room of the house she lived in before her parents left her and Russ to fend for themselves.
Brennan turned swiftly around at the sound of the familiar voice and her eyes widened in part horror, part disbelief at what she saw. How could this be?
"That's impossible." Brennan shook her head and backed away from the illusion because an illusion was all it could be. Her mother was dead. It's a dream or the anesthesia, she told herself. It's some sort of wish fulfillment brought on by extreme trauma and stress.
"Why do you think it's so impossible?"
"Because you're dead and if I can see you what does that make me?"
Her mother smiled wistfully and looked around the room, stopping her gaze at the photographs that adorned the china closet shelves. She walked over and picked one of the frames up, examining it.
"Do you remember when this was taken?" She held up the picture.
Brennan scrunched her face in thought wondering what it had to do with her question. "I was five. You took me to get my picture taken with the man you claimed was Santa Claus…which, of course, I found out later he was actually a man paid to dress up in a red fat suit to perpetuate a capitalistic lie."
"But you believed it then."
"That was an error in judgment on my part. I should've realized that there was no way that those myths were real. Santa Claus was always depicted as coming down a chimney. We didn't even have a fireplace. It was completely illogical."
"Maybe so but every year until you were seven, you believed and even when you didn't believe in the myth, you still believed in something bigger than yourself. When did you lose your faith, Temperance?" Christine asked, taking Brennan's hand in her own. "You used to have it once."
"I am a scientist," she stated indignantly. "My faith is what I can prove." Yet even now, in this weird place, the words didn't hold as much conviction as they used to.
"And talking to me, right now, even knowing I am dead, what does that prove?"
"I don't know yet. It's most likely a hallucination prompted by a reduced flow of oxygen to the brain or it may even be anesthesia given to me for surgery."
"Or it could be exactly what it seems like."
"Which is what exactly?"
"You're neither part of the earth nor part of the heavens right now. I've been sent to you as a guide to lead you home…wherever that may be."
"I live at 25-"
"Not where you live." She smiled with a sad shake of her head. "I forgot how literal you can be. Tell me, do you love your daughter?"
"Of course I do," she bristled. This conversation was so surreal, it couldn't be happening.
"But you can't see love. You can't touch it or smell it or even hear it. Tell me how do you know that love exists if you can't scientifically prove its existence? Or any emotion for that matter?"
"Because I can feel it." Brennan placed her hand over her heart, momentarily confused by her own gesture. "Because my body reacts physically to it."
"People feel faith," Her mother reminded her gently. "Take a look, there, out the window."
Brennan gave her mother a dubious glare; angry more at herself than anything else but she moved towards the window and peeked out through the paned glass. She saw Booth first; his tortured, tear-stained face with his palm pressed against the other side of the glass staring at her, his mouth moving, forming words she had to strain to hear.
"Please, God. Let her live. Please, I'm begging you."
"Booth, I'm right here," she shouted out to him but her words had no effect. He couldn't hear her. She turned back to her mother.
"What's happening to him? Why can't he hear me?"
"Look again, Tempe." Christine gestured once again toward the window. " Tell me what you see, what you feel."
Beyond him, she saw Angela, Cam and Hodgins, their lips moving, chanting, their hands clasped together forming a link between all of them. "What are they doing?"
"They're praying Temperance…for you. You see, faith is not something you prove, it is something you feel. Look again."
Another look at the window showed herself now on an operating table, surrounded by doctors and nurses trying to resuscitate her. The lines on the monitors were flat. She felt something then. It was more of a tug really at the region over her heart coaxing her forward.
"It's not anesthesia, Tempe, and it's not lack of oxygen. Your heart stopped."
"Why are you showing me this?"
"Because you've been given another chance. To believe. To make peace between who you were and who you are now. Faith and science can co-exist. You just need balance."
Brennan shook her head, feeling the very foundations of her own dogmatic belief systems begin to shake. She was beginning to question what had been so fundamental, and yes, even a source of security. If she didn't have that –
"No. I can't do this. This isn't real."
"You need to let go."
"I can't. I won't"
She ran for the door, grabbing the doorknob with both hands, trying to pry it open.
"I don't –" she pulled harder at the handle. "believe in God."
The door swung open and Brennan found herself face to face with the most intense and beautiful light she had ever seen. It should've blinded her but instead she was comforted by it. It surrounded her, beckoning her forward.
"Believe" she heard a whisper that was neither male nor female.
Stepping over the threshold, she found herself sucked forward into the luminescent vortex.