Apologies/Explanation: Okay. So I NEVER had the intention of taking a multiple month hiatus from Shattered (or from writing in general), but the time I put it off for finals, then for moving back home for the summer, then for job hunting, and since then, travelling and ACTUAL working. I feel really bad about it, but this has been an extremely busy few months.
That said, the next chapter of Shattered is being worked on. I promise. It shouldn't be long getting it up. But this idea took old of me one week when I was on vacation at the beach, and seized me the kind of intensity so that I was genuinely pissed whenever I had to be away from the computer. I have over ten chapters of it done, and it was all done right there together. Not very responsible of me, since I have an 'in the works' story still going, but this was the way the muse led.
Things you actually SHOULD know for this story:
My obsession with the whole "Booth's fake death" thing is probably becoming clear between Shattered, which merely addresses some leftover issues, and now this, which is actually centered around it. Sort of. Everything in Wannabe in the Weeds applies, and the very beginning of what we saw of Pain in the Heart does as well, but it picks up there and changes. In this story, the nature of Booth's mission (which will become clear) is a little different, and requires the facade to go on much longer. While this will also become apparent, Sweets was NOT the one in charge of informing, due to the changed scenerio, etc. I'm basically exploring what might have happened after two weeks of Brennan's faux-compartmentalizing, if life without Booth actually had to continue, and things really started to unravel.
Uh, yeah. I like angst. But I love Booth and Brennan, too, so don't worry. Enough of my ranting.
Disclaimer: Definitely don't own Bones, or the song the chapter title comes from, Just A Dream by Carrie Underwood (Not a big fan of country, but a friend played this in the car the other day, and part of the lyrics fit this chapter very well).
Just A Dream
Then they handed her a folded up flag
And she held on to all she had left of him
Oh, and what could have been
And then the guns rang one last shot
And it felt like a bullet in her heart
Baby why'd you leave me
Why'd you have to go?
I was counting on forever, now I'll never know
I can't even breathe
It's like I'm looking from a distance
Standing in the background
Everybody's saying, he's not coming home now
This can't be happening to me
This is just a dream
She thinks, later, that maybe it all would have been alright if she hadn't allowed herself to be coerced into attending the funeral. It's foolish, really, to boil everything that happened down to a single moment; and really, it had been coming since the moment she found out…but the funeral was, inarguably, the moment Temperance Brennan truly began to break.
When they arrived at the cemetery, she told herself she was there for Angela. But it didn't take long to realize that Angela was the one reaching for her hand sand squeezing it reassuringly when she stopped short at the closed coffin. And when they began talking about him, his priest and an old Army buddy and then Caroline Julian, they always mentioned the fact that he died for his partner, for her, and then it was Angela who kept sending her sidelong glances to makes sure she wasn't going to fall apart, again.
Because that was another thing. It was Angela, and only Angela, who knows exactly how this was affecting her. Not because Brennan decided to confide in her, but because Angela was there at her apartment, about to take her back to the hospital, when the phone call came. Angela had been the one to tell her.
And when Angela had looked her best friend in the eye and whispered that Booth hadn't made it, that the doctor's confident assurances the previous night (strong enough to allow Angela to drag Brennan away from the hospital room for a shower and change of clothes) had been wrong…there was absolutely nothing Temperance Brennan could do to stop herself from completely falling apart.
Now, Angela put a hand on Brennan's back, comfortingly rubbing circles with her palm.
And Brennan knew, without a doubt, that she had been played.
She tightened her jaw and stared straight ahead, trying to drown out Caroline's voice, trying to forget where she was. Funerals are public displays of grief, and Brennan wanted no part of that.
She had allowed herself that first day to go to pieces…not that she'd had much choice in the matter. But after that, she'd forced herself out of bed, out of her apartment and to the lab, ignoring the sympathetic, concerned gazes of the others. She had forced herself to cope. And if she had broken down and cried herself to sleep in her office a few nights, then woke up screaming from nightmares, no one had to know.
Brennan had survived abandonment by her entire family. Three years in the foster care system, peppered with neglect, loneliness and, in one case, abuse. She had survived death squads in remote countries. Kidnapping. Being buried alive.
She would survive this, too.
Except Angela had tricked her into coming to the funeral, something she had vowed she wouldn't do. And now, everyone was staring at her, pitying and worried. When they spoke to her, their voices were low and lilted, so that even the simplest question, like How are you?, seemed deep and sympathetic . They were treating Brennan as though she was his wife or girlfriend; but she was just his partner.
Her throat constricted painfully. That is what they told people, from their friends and colleagues to complete strangers, all of whom seemed intent on implying otherwise.
So why was Brennan beginning to think she doesn't feel the way just a partner would feel? Or even just a friend?
A few people she did not know came up to her before the funeral began. They were old friends of Booth's, people who had known him for years, yet they immediately told her how sorry they were.
One woman, who Brennan thought was the wife of Booth's friend from the Rangers who spoke earlier, had said something like, "At least you'll always know how much he cared about you. Saving your life like that…"
Brennan had merely nodded; but she had wanted to punch the strange woman in the face, to scream until her throat tore open, to break down and sob that she had never wanted that.
Caroline finished speaking. They began to fold the flag that was draped over the coffin, and Brennan had to close her eyes. It was almost over. And then she would be able to retreat back to the lab, and pretend to forget. And maybe, at some point, there would be a second, only a second, where she actually could.
But then Angela nudged her, and when Brennan opened her eyes, the captain was in front of her, extending the folded flag. A wave of dizziness seized her, and she stared stupidly at his outstretched hand, not moving the take it.
Why her? Where were his parents? Brennan hadn't seen them (or, for that matter, Parker and Rebecca) but, then, she wasn't positive she knew what they looked like.
She opened her mouth to protest, to tell them that she wasn't his wife, that, actually, she was the reason he was dead, but her voice caught suddenly, tears lining the column of her throat and pooling in her eyes. Quickly, determined to keep them hidden, Brennan clamped her lips tight together and took the offered flag, stilling the trembling of her hands by clenching them tight around the fabric.
Blinking furiously, Brennan told herself that is was almost over. She could do this.
But then she heard the captain call the Honor Guard to salute and, heart sinking, she realized what was about to happen.
She wanted to yell at them to stop, to explain that the last time she saw Booth really, truly alive, beaming up at her while she sang, it had all ended with a gunshot.
Except that, once, after a military funeral for one of 'their' victims, Booth had explained the origins of the 21 gun salute, telling her how it was a great honor for a soldier.
And although Brennan firmly believed that funeral rights and grieving rituals were wasted on the deceased person themselves, who was no longer anything but a body, she couldn't help thinking, Booth deserves this.
The first gunshot sent the air whooshing from her lungs, and Brennan's vision began narrowing, the people around her fading.
The next gunshot sounded. She was back at the Checkerbox, watching him leap up in front of her, jerk back from the impact of the bullet, and stumble…all before she even realized Pam was present.
Another one, echoing in her ears. He was lying on the floor, his hand in hers slowly going limp, and it was like she could feel the life leaving him by degrees. His blood was spilling through her fingers. The terror in his eyes began to drain, an even scarier emptiness replacing it.
"Sweetie?" Angela's voice was distorted and distant. "Brennan?"
Her entire body was shaking violently, her legs boneless beneath her, knuckles white on Booth's flag.
Angela threw Hodgins an alarmed look. She hadn't seen that expression on Brennan's face since the first day, several hours after the news came, when Brennan had finally stopped crying and transformed, instantly, into a hollow shell. She looked that way now: her eyes, wide and horrified, unseeing, her body quivering visibly, and painfully oblivious to the tears that had begun to roll down her cheeks.
She blinked. They were lowering the coffin into the ground.
Her lips parted, and one syllable escaped, desperate. "No."
Eyes filling with tears, Angela attempted to wrap her arms around Brennan. "I know, Sweetie…"
But Brennan shook her off, still staring, transfixed, on the disappearing casket. "No. No…" The protest changed, seamlessly, from a whisper to a whimper. "No. No, no…no no no…"
The coffin disappeared into the ground and, simultaneously, in front of her friends, colleagues and dozens of strangers, Temperance Brennan's legs gave out beneath her. The façade of control crumbling at last, she sunk to the ground, the cool, damp dirt soaking through the knees of her jeans. Bending over the flag clutched at her chest, Brennan was suddenly a small, keening ball on the ground.
Special Agent Seeley Booth eagerly whipped around, then stood. He was sitting on the porch of the FBI safehouse in Virginia, poring over old case files.
It had been over two weeks, and he was growing restless. The first few days hadn't been so bad, since he had been recovering from the gunshot wound. But after he'd been medically cleared, he'd started to feel like a caged animal.
Still. He was supposed to be dead, and no matter how slim the chances of him being recognized were, national security was not the sort of thing that allowed taking chances.
They'd assured him he'd be able to participate in bringing down Reynolds, and the investigation leading up to it. Still, so far, all they'd managed to do was confirm that the news of Booth's passing had reached Reynolds; now they had to wait until the news that the agent who had driven him underground was no longer a threat made him brave enough to rejoin his old crime team.
Needless to say, watching the other agents come and go as they pleased, even those that were staying at the safehouse as well, was starting to get on Booth's nerves.
He lived for the phone calls that came into him every few days, from one of the few people back in DC who knew he was alive. The phone didn't dial out, except for a direct line to the Deputy Director himself, and Booth hadn't been permitted to bring his cell phone, on the off chance that someone who thought he was dead dialed it and he accidentally answered.
"Hello?" Booth said excitedly.
"Hey, bro! How's death?"
Booth groaned. His brother was not his favorite caller. He'd been hoping for Parker or maybe Bones, the only person on the short list of the informed who hadn't called him yet. He didn't know if this meant she was angry at him for taking so much time off and not telling her directly (not that he'd had a choice) or if she'd just decided, with typical Bones logic, that there was no reason for her to call him while he was working on a case she wasn't involved in.
"Dull. I'm going out of my mind."
"Guy still hasn't made a move, huh?"
Booth rolled his eyes. "I can't discuss the case, Jared."
"You're absolutely right, Seeley. Wouldn't want to compromise national security." There was a pause, then Jared informed him, "Phillies won at home yesterday."
"Yeah, I know, Jared. I have a TV. I'm at a safehouse, not a tent in the wilderness."
Jared sighed loudly into the phone. "How should I know that, Seel? You won't say where you are. You know, national security and all that."
"It's a serious thing."
"It always is with you. I heard they had your funeral in DC yesterday."
Perking up at the hint of news from home, he said, "So I take it you didn't attend."
"You kidding me? I'm no actor. People would have been telling me how sorry they are for my loss…I'd have started laughing. People would have either thought I'm a callous bastard or they'd have had me committed."
"I guess so."
"The folks didn't go either. The story is that we're doing a small, private memorial of our own back home. Oh, and Rebecca didn't take Parker, obviously. Didn't want to traumatize the kid."
"Yeah, I know. We talked."
"Well, basically, your friends probably think you have one apathetic family."
Booth couldn't help but grin a little at that. "Shoot, I just wanted to hear a little about the funeral."
"Stroke the ego a little? Don't blame you. Most people don't get that chance. But that hot partner of yours can tell you all about it, right? I'm sure she was there."
Booth bristled instantly when Jared called Bones hot. They hadn't met, but he'd seen photos and had been goading Booth about why he hadn't 'jumped' his 'hot partner' since he and Bones had started working together.
He shook it off as Jared's words sunk it and Booth tried to picture Bones at his funeral. How bizarre that must have been for her. In fact, the whole thing must be extremely strange, what with the other squints not knowing the truth. She was probably having a pretty hard time going along with everything.
Maybe that's why she hasn't called. She's angry at me for putting her in such a tough position.
"Earth to Seeley?"
"Uh, yeah. I guess."
"What ? You don't think she'll be willing to share?"
"Nah, I'm sure she will." If she ever calls me. "Listen, Jared, thanks a lot for calling, but I gotta go. We've got an update meeting in five minutes," he lied.
"Uh-huh. You're a horrible liar, Seeley. Good thing you aren't the one back here pretending. I've got to go anyway, I've got a date with this super hot chick I've been trying to score for months. She wants to cheer me up…my brother just died."
Booth rolled his eyes for probably the tenth time in the short conversation. "Glad to know you're reaping the benefits of this government operation."
"Hey, when life gives you lemons. I'll let you know how it goes."
"Spare me. Bye Jared."
"See ya, Seeley. Good luck with your national security."
Booth put the phone down and sighed. His brother could be irritating, but he knew that in about ten minutes he'd regret cutting the call short.
He returned to the front porch, kicking at the front door before it closed. He was starting to really resent Cullen for springing this on him when he first woke up, so foggy from anesthesia that he wouldn't have been able to refuse even if it had been a real option.
He missed Parker. But at least he called him almost every day. Missing Parker was something he was, unfortunately, used to.
Bones, though…he had seen her almost daily for three years, with a couple vacation weeks here and there being an exception. This was the longest they'd been apart since the very beginning. He felt strangely off balance without her, and he hated thinking about her alone back in DC, having to go through the motions and pretend he was dead.
If she'd only call me, I'd feel at least a little better
Brennan's eyes fluttered open and met an unfamiliar ceiling. Her head was heavy with sleep, and it took a moment for her to sit up and scan her surroundings.
She was in a bedroom, completely unfamiliar. Alone, which was probably a good thing, but the strange setting provoked enough anxiety on its own as she racked her brain to recall the previous night.
Yesterdays events came screaming back all at once. Booth's funeral…because Booth was dead. It had been two weeks, and still upon waking there was always the crushing moment of recollection, the second the fogginess slips away and her new, cold reality returned.
Still. This was the first time since It Happened that she had woken up in the morning, naturally, rather than waking up, drenched in sweat, his name scratching at her throat, after only a few fitful hours of sleep.
The funeral. Brennan winced. She had lost it. In front of…everyone. She supposed she has no right to complain about them treating her like a grieving widow if she insisted on behaving like one.
They hadn't gone to the wake. She'd curled on the ground, sobbing in earnest, until everyone but Angela and Hodgins had left the cemetery. It took Angela a good half hour to coax Brennan to her feet and walk her to Hodgins' car.
The bedroom door cracked open, and Angela peered in. Seeing Brennan awake, she gave her a half smile and came inside. Adopting a voice appropriate for the sick bed of a dying relative, Angela intoned quietly, "Morning, Sweetie."
Brennan sat up, raking her fingers through her hair as she stared blearily at her friend. "Angela...what did you do to me?"
"I kidnapped you, took you to Hodgins' place and gave you a sedative," Angela said flatly. "You needed it. Consider it a loving intervention."
Brennan closed her eyes and moaned quietly, the previous day now completely clear. After an hour or so of curling on Hodgins' couch next to Angela, crying like a four year old, she'd begun to feebly insist that she needed to return to the lab. But it had taken Angela a shockingly short amount of time to convince Brennan that she wasn't allowed to go into work.
So instead, they had sat for hours and hours, Brennan talking and Angela just listening. She talked about Booth, rehashing dozens of tiny moments over the past three years, some Angela already knew and some Brennan had kept to herself. She had talked herself hoarse, hadn't bothered to invent any pretense; she simply wanted to remember.
They hadn't mentioned the funeral again. Angela had just held her hand and listened until, apparently, she'd dragged Brennan to one of the multiple guest rooms and given her a sedative, no arguments.
Now, Angela sat on the edge of Brennan's bed. "A decent night's sleep feels good, doesn't it?"
Brennan shrugged noncommittally, then, ducking her head, murmured, "Everyone must think I'm clinically insane."
Angela rolled her eyes, but her voice still had that 'hospital bedside' quality. "Sweetie, no one thinks that. You acted like any other person would."
"Minor correction, I didn't observe anyone else…collapse into a heap on the ground at the cemetery."
Angela's face softened. "Well, no one else was…no one else had what you had with him."
Brennan quelled the instinctual dismissal of Angela's implication. Instead, she drew her knees up under her chin and fell silent for a few moments. When she spoke again, her voice was uncharacteristically fragile, "I don't know how to do this, Ange." Angela's chest tightened, and before she could find words to reassure her best friend, Brennan amended, "I…I don't know if I can do this."
"I know," Angela told her softly, feeling horribly useless. "I know it feels that way now, but…but you can do this, Bren. You're a survivor."
Brennan shrugged listlessly. She didn't feel like she was surviving. She felt impossibly weak, in fact; she had lost any semblance of control over her own emotions, and that scared her.
A lot scared her, actually. Starting with how much this hurt.
Brennan didn't understand it; grief was supposed to be all psychological babble, but she couldn't deny a direct observation: there was actual, physical pain involved. She would be the first to say that a 'broken heart' was a ridiculous metaphor; and maybe they couldn't break, or crack, or shatter… but she knew now that her heart could feel like a heavy, painful weight, hanging leaden in her chest, crushing her lungs and making it difficult to take a breath.
Angela took Brennan's hand in her and squeezed it gently. "It's okay to feel like this, Bren. It really is. Take as long as you need. But just remember that…he'd want you to be okay. He saved your life…he'd want you to go on with it."
The tenderness in her best friend's voice cut as deep as any knife, and Brennan's eyes swam with tears for what felt like the hundredth time in two weeks. She pulled her hand from Angela's to cover her face and, after a beat, burst out in a broken tone, "But…he didn't ask me!"
This apparently inexplicable comment disconcerted Angela for a moment, but then Brennan continued, "I didn't have a choice, he just…he just decided. But I didn't want that." She removed her hands from her face, staring at Angela, her eyes the picture of raw anguish. "I didn't want him to save me."
Angela caught her bottom lip between her teeth, willing herself not to start crying. Brennan wasn't often the emotional, vulnerable one in their friendship; now, she could hold herself together for her best friend. "I know, Sweetie. But he wouldn't have had it any other way. And you would've done the same for him."
Brennan couldn't refute that statement, but instead protested, "But he has a son. He has a family. It would have been a logical choice if the situation had been reversed!"
Angela closed her eyes. Honestly, Brennan just broke her heart sometimes. "You have a family, too, Bren."
She shook her head vehemently, the tears spilling over now. Brennan wondered briefly when she had lost her lifelong ability to keep herself from crying. "Barely. They left me. A couple times, technically, and they could leave again, anytime, without warning." Her face crumpled. "Booth wasn't…he wasn't supposed to go anywhere."
Forget it. Tears spilled from Angela's eyes and she shifted on the bed so she was half lying, half sitting next to Brennan. She put an arm around her best friend and was surprised when Brennan lay her head on her shoulder. "He would've never left willingly, Sweetie. I think you know that."
"What he did was stupid. It was typical arrogant alpha male…reckless and irresponsible and, and it wasn't fair." If Brennan thought about it enough, she could almost summon a decent amount of anger among the overwhelming grief. It was just so like Booth, with his antiquated, sexist notions of chivalry. Who was he to make that kind of decision?
"It was instinct, Sweetie. You know how protective he is of you." Brennan shuddered slightly, and Angela winced instantly when she recognized her mistaken use of the present tense. She didn't correct herself, though, thinking that would probably just make it worse.
Brennan exhaled slowly, fighting for control. She wasn't acting like herself. After all, she understood, intellectually, that wallowing in sorrow wasn't going to help anything. Booth was gone; she had to accept that. Wishing it was different, mentally replaying it, even being angry at him over it…none of that was going to change anything. The only logical course of action was to move on with her life.
Filled with a renewed determination, Brennan hastily swiped a corner of the bed sheets over the last remnants of tears on her cheeks and sat up, startling Angela.
"Thanks for everything, Ange. You were great yesterday, and this morning…but I really need to go into work."
Somewhat thrown by the abrupt change in her friend's demeanor, Angela took a moment before countering, "Cam said to take as long as you need. She said that two weeks ago, actually, and you didn't listen."
"I did listen. She said take as long as I need…and I don't need more time. In fact, what I need is to be at work."
"A normal amount of time at work? Or are you planning on staying overnight in your office again?" When Brennan didn't answer, Angela groaned, "Bren, you can't…pretend this away, alright? You buried yourself in work, pretending the real world wasn't out there for the past two weeks and it clearly didn't work. Yesterday proved that." Brennan flushed, obviously still embarrassed about her breakdown at the funeral. Softening, Angela continued, "You're allowed to wallow for awhile, Sweetie."
Brennan's eyes hardened. "I don't wallow, Angela. That's not what I do, it isn't…it isn't logical." She stood up abruptly. "I just need to get back to the lab-"
"For work, that's fine. But what you've been doing…it isn't healthy. Working overtime to all hours and sleeping in your office-"
"It was working, Angela," she said curtly.
"Temporarily. But what're you gonna do, have a complete breakdown every few weeks?"
Brennan kept her back to her friend, her hands shaking as she gathered up her clothes.
A few moments of silence passed, and then Angela said suddenly, "Stay here for a few days, with me and Jack. Or just me and you could go back to my apartment to stay."
"Why? What would be the value in that?"
Angela sighed. "Because I don't think you should be alone right now. And, yeah, I would feel better if I knew for a fact you were sleeping. In a bed, in an actual home; not your office."
Finally turning around, Brennan gave Angela a pleading look. "I need to go back to a normal routine, Ange. I need to…take the necessary steps to move past this."
Angela studied Brennan. She could see the desperation written on her face. Privately, Angela was certain it would take a long time for Brennan to even begin to move past Booth's death. But she knew how frightening the onslaught of emotions must be to her friend. "Fine," she sighed. "But please promise me you won't stay at the lab all night."
"I'm serious, Brennan. Besides, you said a normal routine, and taking up residence at work isn't a normal routine, even for you." Brennan didn't reply, and, in a more pleading tone, Angela added, "Please, promise me?"
Finally, Brennan relented. "I promise."
"Good. If you can wait half an hour, I can grab a shower, and we'll all go to work together."
"I can do that."
Angela stood up from the bed, and on her way out of the room, she impulsively grabbed Brennan and pulled her into a hug.
"Just so you know, you were wrong before about your family. We're family, too, all of us. And we aren't going anywhere. Especially me." She paused, then added quietly, "Don't shut me out, Bren. I love you and I'm here for you, alright?"
Brennan's throat tightened, a fresh wave of tears springing to her eyes. "Thanks, Ange." She whispered quietly.
Angela drew back, honestly a little sorry for making her best friend cry; Brennan had been doing it a lot lately, and Angela knew how much she hated it. "Well you don't have to get weepy on me, Sweetie," she teased lightly, ignoring the tightness in her chest as she took in the ache that was painfully apparent in Brennan's eyes.
A/N: Reviews=Love. Also, as I said, I went into a wild frenzy of wirting for the first ten chapters of this one, so reviews also = faster updates