A/N: I'm literally tearing up a bit as I type this - I can't believe this is the last chapter. It seems only fitting that I'm posting it on Mother's Day. I dedicate this final section to my mother - I don't know whether it was instinct or just hard work, but she sure did a great job with us. Love you, Mommy. Enjoy. : ) -tc
Dr. Temperance Brennan arrived at the Jeffersonian Institute just in time to hear her second-favorite sound in the world. Parker's sneakers squeaked across the lab floor and he dove into her arms. "Dr. Bones, Dr. Bones, I missed you so much!"
Temperance laughed and scooped the five-year-old (five and a half, she reminded herself) into an affectionate embrace. "I missed you too, Dr. Parker. Are you all ready for our milkshake date?"
He nodded enthusiastically, then squirmed around so he could whisper an entreaty in her ear. She smiled, accustomed to the request, and released him before lifting up the bottom of her shirt. Parker examined the diamond stud in her navel, then gave her an exuberant grin. "It's just like the ring Daddy gave you!"
Brennan's eyes glowed and she bent to plant a kiss on his forehead, brushing back his sandy hair with a hand that wore an elegant princess-cut solitaire. Across Parker's head, she met her fiancé's eyes and grinned.
Agent Seeley Booth, coffee in hand, advanced from her office, where he had been leaning casually against the door frame, watching the two people he loved most in the world. "Hey, beautiful," he said with a grin, pressing a kiss to her temple. "How was the doctor's appointment?"
"Hey, yourself," she replied, turning to nuzzle against his chin. "Missed you this morning."
"I know, I had to pick up this guy from his mom's place." Booth captured his son under one arm and held him upside-down until he screamed for Brennan to rescue him - which she did, after only a few minutes of tickling.
When Parker was on his feet again, Brennan knelt at his side and whispered into his ear. Booth wondered whether he would ever tire of seeing them together as he watched his son's skeptical expression; clearly, the boy was torn between his unwavering belief in anything Dr. Bones said and the implausibility of whatever secret she had just shared. Seeley figured loyalty would win in the end; Parker would do anything for his favorite forensic anthropologist - a trait that seemed to run in the Booth family.
Parker whispered a request to Dr. Brennan, who smiled and lifted the edge of her top for further examination. Booth watched his son scrutinize the jewel adorning Tempe's smooth, flat stomach, then lift his face to Brennan's, clearly still unsure about whatever body-piercing factoid she had divulged. "Tell your daddy and see what he thinks," she suggested.
Parker looked up at his father. "Daddy," he said. "Dr. Bones says she has a baby in her tummy. Is that true?"
Angela, vainly attempting to eavesdrop from the cover of her office, heard the thud and splash of Booth's coffee cup hitting the ground. Peeking out, she saw the FBI agent staring into Brennan's eyes, his hands framing her face. Angela couldn't hear the words, but her best friend wore a shy smile, and there were tears running down both of their faces. Her suspicions were confirmed when she saw Booth lay a gentle hand over Temperance's abdomen, then attempt to sweep both fiancée and son into his arms and twirl them around the lab.
"A baby?" Booth staggered forward, coffee spill unnoticed, and slipped his hands around Brennan's face. Her eyes were wide and uncertain, but the hesitant smile threatening to break across her face told him everything he needed to know.
"I know it's earlier than we thought, but the wedding's only a month away, and the doctor said I probably won't even be showing by then, and I didn't know if I should tell you right away, or if it would be okay if I told Parker, but then I just-"
He silenced her words with a gentle finger on her lips, and she noticed for the first time that he was crying, and that her own cheeks were warm with tears. Booth slid a hand tenderly across her stomach, then used the other to bring her mouth to his in a deep, lingering kiss. When he pulled back, then were both grinning. "I love you, Temperance," he said. "Every day, every moment, more than I ever thought possible. And now I have one more person to love."
She jumped into his arms with an un-Brennan-like squeal, and he lifted up his son, and they were all spinning in a whirl of tears and laughter. The last thing Angela heard before she sprinted to Hodgins's office to spread the news was Parker's innocent voice asking, "But Daddy, how did the baby get in there?", to which Temperance replied, "Parker, I think it's time to go get those milkshakes."
Booth just laughed and kissed them both. "See, Bones," he said, "I knew you would make a great mother."
One last author's note... (warning: it's really long)
So not counting the oneshots I've published since I started and some vague Sailor Moon craziness back in the seventh grade, this is my first fanfic ever. I couldn't have imagined how much I would love this genre. Trying to explain it to outsiders is tough, but here's what I've said to my mom: I love the challenge of established characters and backstory. It can be frustrating at times, because Brennan and Booth don't always get to say what I would say in the situation, and sometimes even the cutest lines ever have to be deleted because they just don't ring true. But I think that the end result is more satisfying and brings a unity and clarity that I don't always achieve in my other work. Conversely, I love not having to take everything TOO seriously. I want to put in giraffes for no reason? Sure, why not. Zack is afraid of Chuck E. Cheese's? It could happen. It's funny, looking back, how much of the details of this story are autobiographical, even though the events have nothing to do with my life. So I suppose the real challenge is in finding the balance between absolute adherence to the Bones-verse and having a very, very silly time at my keyboard.
So why this particular story? I mean, besides the fact that I am a huge sap. Although I generally see myself as a Brennan – I tend to intellectualize everything, I don't like to be taken care of, I have a very limited social life – in this story, I'm really Booth. I love kids. I work with them every day and I know that I want to have some of my own someday. It's one of my few non-negotiables in a relationship. I felt that this was also a critical issue for B&B's relationship – as much chemistry as they have, there is also a deep friendship and mutual respect. Neither one could pursue a commitment knowing that this issue was unresolved – each cares about the other too much to settle for a one-night stand or to think that he or she can just get his/her way in the end just by being stubborn. They needed a catalyst, a way for Brennan to see that parenting might be okay after all, and for Booth to realize that her trepidation goes beyond simply "not being good with kids" and to understand how desperately he wants to find a way to make a shared life work.
Parker was the perfect solution, and also, SO much fun to write. Since I have three younger siblings, nineteen younger cousins, and have worked in child care for three years, I had ample inspiration. I wrote much of this story at work, in the break room or sitting against the wall while my kids napped. The rest was done in the middle of the night when I should have been sleeping, on the 163 NJ Transit bus in traffic, at Barnes & Noble in Hoboken, and at my best friend's house in PA. When I started, I figured it would be something like 5 chapters, a few thousand words, all published in 2 weeks perhaps. HAHAHA. Apparently not. Work, sleep, out-of-town weekends, and writer's block got in the way, plus, this thing seriously took on a life of its own.
I need to say thank you so, so, so much to everyone who sent me reviews and messages. I was truly touched by your words and loved learning more about those who've enjoyed my work. And to the lurkers who read and enjoyed in anonymity, that's cool, too. SERIOUSLY. You know I don't hold chapters hostage for reviews. I figure not everyone is comfortable with the immediacy of this publishing medium, and I respect that. If you happen to be so inclined, I would love to know what your favorite part (line? scene?) of this story has been. Alternatively, you can reciprocate by writing your own fic for me to enjoy.
Speaking of other fics, I think I need to take a break for a bit. Besides the missing zoo chapter and a sequel to one of my oneshots (yes, for once I am succumbing to review pressure), I don't have any specific plans to write another Bones story for a while. I need to do some work on my actual novel, in hopes of getting paid to do this one day. Of course, the muses have their own agendas, so who knows?
One more time... THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU for reading. I hope you enjoyed it even half as much as I did.