They all came, when they could, when the processing of evidence and piecing together of clues didn't require their particular expertise.
After those first long hours of not knowing, with Brennan in surgery fighting for her very life, there were periods of wakefulness, time where she was lucid and sweetly talkative, but tired easily. So easily that she would drift into sleep between one word and the next. There was always someone who wanted to see her, to sit with her.
Booth was there all the time, through the long night and that first day and next night. But his desire to watch her every breath gave grudging way to the other people who loved her too. Plus a man has to eat. And pee.
Over the several days it took to solve the crime and in the days after, they all came.
"Brennan? Sweetie?" Her eyes were closed again. This had happened several times when Angela was sitting with her. Brennan was still weak from her body's reaction to the antigens in the blood the hospital gave her. This time, though, Brennan answered readily enough, even though her eyes stayed closed.
"Yes. I'm awake, Angela. I just..." Her voice-sweet, thick, and a little lower than usual in its weakness-seemed to only just clear her mouth, only just making it into the room where Angela sat at her side, sketchbook on her lap. "My eyelids are just...so...heavy. But I don't really feel sleepy. I'm listening. Tell me something. Tell me what you decided about Michael Vincent and the pacifier."
Angela talked a little, picking up where they had left off at lunch a few days ago, how since they tried to wean him from it, he had started having temper tantrums. After just a few minutes though, Angela heard Brennan's breathing change, saw her hand uncurl, loosen, like a flower on the top of the the baby blue woven hospital blanket. Story forgotten, caught by the weak beam of sunlight on the long, lovely fingers, Angela started a new sketch.
"Hey...hey, Dr. B. You're awake."
"Yes." Brennan coughed, cleared her throat. "Where..."
"Booth just went to the bathroom, and to make a few calls, check on Christine." Her eyelids rose a little higher, her eyes looked a little brighter, so he continued, "I saw her today."
"When? How was she?" Her head rolled on the pillow toward him, and Hodgins seated himself on the stool he had brought over. He liked being able to talk to her face to face.
"I went to see Michael and he and a boy named Marshall were rolling balls to Christine. She would catch them-" He smiled at the look in her eyes. Always the truth. He chuckled and admitted, "Okay, she caught some of them. Anyway, she'd keep them and Marshall and Michael would run around the room getting new balls to roll to her. Every time she got a new one she would clap her hands and laugh. She had those boys wrapped around her beautiful little finger." He smiled and shrugged, rueful on behalf of all mankind at the mercy of all the women they loved. And Brennan laughed, weakly, but a real laugh nevertheless. She was pleased with the story, with their easy camaraderie and the quick understanding of like minds.
Booth's deep, confident voice could be heard in the corridor. As he came closer, they could hear him greet the duty nurse, even laugh a little. Brennan's eyes met Hodgins', and his mouth quirked up. He pressed her shoulder a little, said "Well, I've got to be getting back to the lab anyway. I left you a present for when you start getting bored."
Brennan blinked, and meant to say thank you. But her eyelids were still so...much...heavier than they usually were. When she opened them, they met warm brown ones. Her hand reflexively squeezed his, her lips twitched in the beginnings of a smile. And as if he read her mind, Booth's lips pressed softly but firmly against hers. It wasn't a long kiss-he wanted her to be able to breathe freely through her mouth, but he pulled away slowly, taking in all the signs of life. The long eyelashes fluttering, the pearly sheen of her eyelids, her pale pink lips-a little dry but still so soft and beautifully formed. God, he loved her.
Booth stayed with her that whole night and day, but he wasn't always able to be right next to her, couldn't always touch her. He did a lot of waiting, which was routine, as anyone who has visited a loved one in a hospital will tell you. He waited during those first terrifying hours and later during rounds of testing and checking. He waited during another terrifying interval in which doctors worked to keep her from slipping away yet again, this time because of the blood in her not because of blood out of her. He waited during more rounds of testing and checking.
While he waited, their friends waited with him. Angela didn't get to speak with Brennan until almost a full 24 hours after the shooting, but she spoke with Booth. Sometimes spoke for him, during a rare catnap in the waiting room. She was at the lab much of the time, but the rest of the time she spent at the hospital. Sketchbook in hand, she waited too.
In the days to follow, she left Brennan some of those pictures when her turn was over. Beautiful sketches of mysterious objects and shapes that intense scrutiny on Brennan's part could not penetrate. She would turn them upside down, right side up. She would hold them up to the light and squint as she looked at them. She even asked for a magnifying glass once. Finally, defeated, Brennan would lay back to rest, propping the picture up on the table beside her. After slipping in and then out of sleep again, her eyes would open, still slightly unfocused, and she would see the picture anew. And finally, gently, the truth of the shades of light and dark would resolve into actual images: the folds of her blanket, the proximal phalanx of her left ring finger, the curve of her water glass, the design one of Booth's disposable coffee cups. Angela knew her so well, she thought.
Brennan hoped that she knew Angela as well and thought that sometimes maybe she did. When Angela came next, Brennan told her about seeing her mother. A look of pained self-control flitted across Angela's face and Brennan had to laugh. "Go ahead, Angela. Ask your questions."
"Brennan, I know this is a ridiculous question, but what was it like there?"
A weak disappointed half cough, half laugh. "Not you too! You think I went to heaven."
"Oh!" Angela said in some surprise. "Oh no. I mean, maybe I guess, but really I just...I would like to hear about your home, your Mom. What was your house was like? What was your Mom wearing? I mean, was she all here-have-a-cookie-oh-my-hair-what-must-you-think-of-me 50's Mom with a fancy refrigerator, or was she a laid back, let your kids paint on the walls and express themselves ex-hippie Mom? Did you get to visit your old room? I mean you have never really wanted to talk about your childhood but now there is this glimpse of your mom, your memories of her. Wherever they came from. I'd like to know about it."
And Brennan didn't know how much she too had wanted to talk about this until she started. About the books on the shelves, the figures on the mantel, the formal dining room where they never really ate, the ugly couch that she used to think was pretty, the fluffy pink sweater that Angela said was so "out it would never come back in".
And that day, the last before she could most likely go home, Angela left her one last picture. This one of Booth. The picture was small, like the others, and a close study, also like them. But this one did not seek to obscure the subject. It was a picture of Booth in profile, drawn in strong bold strokes with a soft pencil. Jaw firm, lips set, eyes downcast, head bowed, waiting.
Booth had never realized how precious her hands were to him until they were the only part of her he felt safe touching continuously. And once they were together, once he was allowed in her room, he was sure as hell going to be touching her. He would like someone to try to stop him, just fucking try to keep him from holding her hand. No one did though, and while punching someone would have felt good, he was glad ultimately not to be thrown out of the hospital. He held her hand and felt its warmth and prayed to God it stayed that warm. When she woke up, he kissed her fingers. Long and elegant, sensitive and clever. Bones' beautiful fingers curled against his as he pressed his mouth to them. The tubes...the tubes in her nose and her head so weak and stiff on the pillow kept him from stroking her hair, from kissing her face. But he could kiss her hand, press his face into it.
And the next day, after waking from the second close call, when weakness overcame her, her hand released his so quickly that he clutched at it. "Bones? You okay?"
"...just want to sleep for a little while."
And although her hand lay limp in his while she slept, he took comfort in her earlier words. "I feel that it is you calling me back here." As she slept she would sometimes press and grip his hand and he would breathe a little easier, glad for the chance to be there with her when she needed to hold on to someone.
Later, Booth took her hand as Bones went into surgery again. She wanted to have the surgeon retrieve evidence for a conviction. He came to the hospital as soon as he heard she was going back into surgery; he hadn't had time to understand why she was doing it or to weigh the risks. She was asking him to trust her. He wasn't sure he could let go again. But her eyes were confident and knowledgeable, sure in what she wanted to do, in its lack of risk. He wasn't sure, didn't know, but he trusted her, knew he had to let go. He walked along with the gurney until finally, he released her hand.
They stood or sat outside her room, far enough away not to intrude, given the open door, the glass interior window, but close enough to peer in occasionally, to hear the low rumble of his voice, the alto response of hers. Sometimes while they waited, the angle afforded them a view in: Brennan's head settled on the pillow comfortably turned toward Booth, his body seated in a chair or on the bed but always bent toward her. And always the lively susurration of their voices, little bubbles of laughter mixed in with more serious sharing. The intimacy of these endless conversations was palpable even if the content remained a mystery. Maybe one or both of them apologized, or expressed regret. Maybe they talked about how they felt, how they wanted to feel. But maybe mostly, they just talked, comfortable pushing each other to laughter or tenderness, analysis or indignation. Seeing them together like this was a reminder and a revelation.