Staying away from Booth was pure, unadulterated torture. Every hour she had to resist the temptation to phone the hospital and plead for an update. She tried to reassure herself that if the very worst had occurred, if he'd succumbed to his injuries like she so dreaded, surely she would have heard something. But the self appeasement just wasn't good enough. She needed real, solid proof of his survival. She needed skin and bone; muscle and sinew. She was like a junkie, and he was the drug she so desperately craved.
Along those same lines, missing him was like going through a painful withdrawal. Sleeping was near impossible. Eating wasn't fathomable. All her attention was devoted to their daughter in hopes of being a distraction. But staring into her eyes which so strongly resembled Booth's was another knife to her heart. This isn't how it was supposed to be for us. This wasn't supposed to happen. Perhaps not. But life was no fairy tale. She just wished she hadn't been given such a harsh reminder.
For hours that night she lie awake thinking of all that had transposed. Any and every time she shut her eyes she watched as he collapsed in a heap to the ground, the blood already spilling from his body. Down she fell onto her knees besides him, begging him to fight as she worthlessly attempted to seal at least one of his wounds with no more than her palms. Nothing more could she do than observe as the life slowly faded from his eyes. Next she was transported back into the ambulance, watching him hold onto life by a sliver thin thread. In recalling these events it amazed her how he'd survived thus far. The real question was did he have the strength to continue to fight? He was stable, yes. But she knew how quickly that could change. For all she knew his condition could have deteriorated to the point of no return. This thought alone warded off any rest she might have finally received. At last she came to accept that there would be no adequate amount of rest until she witnessed his stability with her own eyes.
When morning arrived she was up just as soon as the sun rose. The home was quiet as she tip toed through it. Though her eyes felt as though they'd had gritty sand rubbed into them she forced herself to run through her typical morning routine. After a shower she dressed, and then descended downstairs. Her stomach soured at the thought of breakfast, but she knew she needed to at least attempt to eat. If it was all possible she'd give Booth every last ounce of her strength. But if she was running on fumes she'd be of no assistance to either one of them.
She was in the middle of making pancakes when Max arrived in the kitchen cradling Christine. He smiled warmly at her before securing the child into her high chair. "Were you able to get any shut eye last night?"
"No." She sighed in frustration. "I don't believe I will until I spend some time with Booth. I fully intend on arriving at the hospital just as soon as visiting hours begin."
Max nodded. "Just don't expect too much out of him, Tempe."
She whirled around away from the stove to glare ice into him. "I don't know what that means."
"It means if his injuries are really that severe, he may not be up for much. Hell, he might not even be conscious. I just don't want you to expect some miracle out of him."
She sniffed remissively. "I know what I saw when he was injured." For some reason admitting that he'd been shot multiple times was difficult for her to speak out loud. "I know the balance his life continues to remain in. I don't know what I am expecting. But it certainly isn't for him to be bright eyed and on his feet ready to go home. I'm not a fool."
"I know. I never said you were. But I know how much you love him. And I know how hard it is to see someone you love in so much pain, and suffering. I just don't want you to get your hopes up only to be crushed when he's worse than you thought."
"That won't happen," she assured him. But deep in her heart she was afraid he was right. Was she prepared for the emotional turmoil she was sure to experience? Well, it didn't matter. Neither heaven nor hell could keep her away from him.
During the drive her nerves were impossible to control. Each passing mile that brought her closer to the hospital tied her stomach into tight knots. By the time she pulled into a parking space she felt ready to vomit what small bit of breakfast she'd been able to consume. Before being able to exit her car she was forced into taking a few moments for herself. Finally with a deep breath she entered the hospital with a walk that suggested strength and poise. No one needed to know that inside, she was dying.
Unfortunately before she was permitted to see him she was told she'd have to meet with Dr. Wilson. For fifteen minutes she waited anxiously on pins and needles until the doctor had time to address her. Just outside Booth's room the two spoke intimately. "His condition hasn't improved much, but he's remained stabilized. While I am confident enough now to say he's likely going to pull through this, I don't believe he's ever going to be the same." He repeated precisely what the paramedic had told her. "The bullet to his thigh damaged his leg in way that he's always going to have a slight limp to his step. As for his stomach and his lungs..." He sighed and shook his head. "He has a long, hard battle in front of him. He's lucky to be alive. I've seen many gunshot victims with his type of injuries that haven't been able to survive."
Brennan nodded slightly. "He's strong," were the only words she could find in agreement. He was strong; certainly one of the strongest men she'd ever known. But when she again found herself reflecting on the events that occurred just after he'd been wounded, she knew how rapidly he'd weakened. That strength had been taken away. She had no idea what to expect in it's place. "Has he been conscious at all?"
"In and out. He has yet to speak to us, though."
She offered her most sincere gratitude. The two dispersed. Her heart was in her throat and she could feel her pulse beating in her temples as she at last stepped into Booth's room. His condition might have been constant, but he was still being kept in intensive care for close monitoring. The sight of him stole the breath right out of her lungs. Her feet froze to the floor. A ghostly figure was buried beneath an array of machines. The blankets that had been laid over him with care highlighted the sharp edges of his form; namely the thick bandages hidden underneath. Tubes snaked all around his body. A large, ribbed one had been inserted through his mouth down into his throat. At the opposite end of the tubing was a device that was compelling him to breathe. Methodically his chest rose and fell as the machine instructed him to do so. Although the damage to his lung had been repaired, there was still an unpleasant sound as he completed each respiration. He still can't breathe on his own, she realized with tears burning her eyes. Gradually she was able to coerce herself into moving closer to his side.
Upon closer inspection she noticed a darkened hue that the area around his eyes had taken on. His skin otherwise was the same color as recycled newspaper. There were lines on his sallow face that hadn't been present before the shooting. They were marks of weakness; of a man who hadn't given up fighting for his life.
She placed her hand inside of his. In the silence of the room her voice was like a sharp knife. "Booth."
His fingers tugged faintly on hers. She glanced up to his face to see his eyes flutter open. He wasn't able to open them all that wide, and the glaze that had formed over them informed her that he had a loose grip on reality. But that wasn't important, just so long as she had his attention. "Hi," she undertoned to him. "How are you feeling?"
He did no more than stare at her.
Through her sorrow she tried to smile. "I'm sorry I haven't been to see you sooner. Your doctor wasn't allowing you to have visitors. I didn't feel it was fair but I had no choice but to abide by his rules. But I am here now, and I have no intention of leaving until I am made to do so. This is where I belong. With you."
During her speech one of his eyes had narrowed into a skeptical squint. Despite the fact that he continued to gaze at her, she recognized the look of utter confusion. She solidified herself against a brand new onslaught of pain she hadn't been prepared for. "Booth… are you aware of what happened to you?"
Weakly he shook his head no.
"You were…" She drew in a great, steadying breath. The effort was worthless. Tears still streamed down her cheeks. "While pursuing a suspect bullets struck you twice in your chest and once in your thigh. You've been critically injured. Your heart stopped while you were in surgery. No one but me honestly thought you were going to survive. But you prevailed."
The expression of unease didn't lessen, prompting the next question which was by far the most difficult to ask. "Do you know who I am?"
Once again, with a slight back and forth motion of his head he indicated no. She struggled to prevent herself from crying out in anguish. This couldn't be real. "It's Bones, Booth. We're partners. We're married." We're madly in love. You mean everything to me.
Nothing was striking a chord with him. He held onto her stare until he could do so no longer. His exhaustion got the best of him. Briefly he stared off into space as his eyelids lowered. When they shut she observed muscles loosen. With instants he slipped deep into a sound slumber.
Brennan flew from his room. She sought out Dr. Wilson standing at the nurses' station. Frantically she addressed him in a jumbled mess. "Booth is suffering from the affects of amnesia! He doesn't remember what happened to him, and he can't identify me! You need to-"
Dr. Wilson was swift to silence her. "Dr. Brennan, it means nothing. It isn't even at all surprising to me. We've had to put him on multiple medications. He's been given transfusions, but he suffered a great deal of blood loss. It's just going to take some time for his system, and that's including his brain, to right itself again. I promise you, once he's well enough that he won't require so many drugs his memory will make a vast improvement."
She tried to take heart in his words. But truthfully she was still feeling dejected. Mournfully she returned to Booth's room. As he still slept she lowered herself into a chair next to his bed. "We'll take this however slow you need to," she whispered to him. "And if you can't I will find a way to make you remember me, and our lives together. I may not have all the answers. But we will get through this. We'll find a way."
She could only hope that her promises weren't in vain.