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Title: In a Name
Summary: Woman in Limbo oneshot – elaborating on that cruelly-chopped-off barn scene. When she struggles to assert her identity to a murderer who knows her by another name, she finds comfort from the man who knows her beyond words.
Disclaimer: I own no part of the series Bones, nor the characterization therein. I'm just dunking the characters in my imagination for a minute. I'll clean them off afterwards and put them back right where I found them.
You could argue that I said it to make her feel better, or even to make myself feel better, since it broke my heart to see her cry, to hear her try to justify herself—her very name—to that bastard who'd probably killed her parents. You may find the words too simple or too few, but that doesn't make them any less true: I do know who she is.
I know that the shade of her eyes darkens when she's angry or tired. I know she sometimes lets those eyes fall closed when listening to music, and I know she'd hate to think anyone had noticed. I know she always uses her left hand to sweep her hair out of her face when she's excited or rushed, even though she's right-handed. I know her handwriting, too, and her turn of phrase—and not just because I've read her book.
I know she's unsure of herself in social situations, that she thinks of her social life as an abandoned project she might have time to finish someday but won't fret over if she doesn't. I know that saying, "I don't know what that means," is her way of giving you the upper hand in a conversation she'd otherwise dominate with ease. I know her giving heart and her tenacity to keep it hidden.
I know her secret appreciation of silliness. I've seen the way she smiles when she sees a dog dragging his owner down the street, even as she's saying the words, "Dumb animal…and the dog's not very well-behaved, either." I've seen her look at Parker and lightly tip her head, and I know she's trying to pick out my features, to see me in him, and to imagine how he's changed me.
I know she values intelligence over beauty, and doesn't quite realize she's got both. I know she thinks she's a terrible singer but still sings at the top of her lungs if she thinks no one's listening. I know she secretly likes country music, though she tries to pass it off as intrigue toward the socio-economic structure it encompasses. Believe it or not, those are my words. Hers were, "Uh…sorry, I was just flipping through the stations." She can be surprisingly human when she drops her guard, and I know she's beginning to feel comfortable doing that around me.
I know the tone of her voice when she's unsure of her assertions—which isn't often—or when she's upset and trying to hide it, or when she's suppressing a laugh or forcing a confidence she doesn't feel. I know she can't whisper worth a damn, but she also doesn't like to raise her voice. I know she thinks all those things are irrelevant, that it's the word choice that matters, not the delivery, and about that she is so wrong, so naïve. She doesn't know that she can make Angela's day by sighing her consent to a drink after work, or that she can make Zach beam just by softly commending his progress. And she doesn't have a clue what happens when she smiles at me. In some respects, I'm grateful for her moments of oblivion.
I know her fervid need to be self-sufficient, and to prove herself capable in all ways. I know she will never stop asking me for that gun. I know she's more than qualified to carry one, and I know I'll fight tooth and nail to keep her from getting it, because, stereotypical though it may be, I want to be the protector once in a while. Even with her. Maybe especially with her.
I know her strength and her weakness, and I know that the one far outweighs the other. I know her demons as well as her demographics, her darkness and light, the striations of her soul—even if she doesn't truly believe there is such a thing.
And more superficially, I know the scent of her shampoo, and I breathe it in now as I hold her tighter. "Shh…I know. It's okay." I feel the heat of her cheek pressed against my neck, her tears slipping into my collar. I know she is loath to let herself cry, and I know the ache of feeling privileged she's allowed me to see this emotion even while I wish with all my heart she didn't have to feel it.
"Bones," I whisper into her the crown of her head. She pulls back, tries to step away, to collect herself. "Hey," I say, pulling her shoulder back to me, willing her to meet my eyes. I can see her regrouping, coming back to herself, urging that door to slam shut around her. "Bones," I say again, using the name I gave her because I know that calling her Temperance right now will sound like coddling to her.
"I'm finally glad you call me that," she answers, bringing her head up to look me in the face.
And now that I think about it—about names and what they mean—I know that it really doesn't matter what I call her, what anyone calls her. She is what the years have made her. She is what she's worked and studied and fought to be. I know that when her parents named her, they did so with all the hope parents have for a baby. In that first moment they saw her, they knew nothing but joy, and wished the same for her—for a childhood, for a lifetime. And when they renamed her three years later, they had an even more fervent wish: for her safety, for her very life.
I know that there is very little temperance in this woman. She is hot and cold. She is spit and vinegar—even though she wouldn't know what that means. I know that she will not be tempered by even the most aggressive circumstances, and despite that, her name fits her. She has claimed it as much as if she'd given it to herself, and I know that Joy, as lovely as it is, is too small a name for her. She deserves a name a paragraph long, a name that takes a lifetime to say, because she has defined every syllable. She has filled in every loop and curve of that name with the richness of her personality, with her passion and intelligence and spirit, and she deserves to know that.
Someday I'll tell her, but not now. Now she would see through anything I said about her. She would read sympathy in my words, and she would hate it.
"When Parker was born," I begin, and I see surprise on her face, and relief, and I know I've taken the right tack. "I didn't even know until the next day. And when I went to the hospital, Rebecca let me hold him, and she told me his name. You know, it barely even registered at first because I was just…hypnotized by his face, by the fact that he was really there. A person who was part of me. Rebecca and I had already been apart for months; I didn't have any say in how his room was painted, in the crib he would sleep in or the clothes he'd wear home from the hospital. I didn't get to help choose his name."
I look at Bones and she's not quite smiling but not shutting down, either. She tips her head slightly to let me know she's listening, that she wants me to keep talking.
"He isn't named after a relative or childhood friend or personal hero, and I won't try to tell you I wasn't disappointed that I didn't have a part in naming him. But the thing is, as I got to know him, his name became something I loved, because it was the only word that described the best part of my life. When you think about it, Bones, a name is nothing but a word. And a word is nothing without its definition. Parker's name doesn't define him; he defines his name. That name is a thousand things it never would have been without him wearing it."
She nods, and there are tears in her eyes again. I know that this time, they're good tears, because she knows me as well as I know her. She knows Parker is my heart, and I think she's beginning to see she's got a place in there, too.
"No matter what it says on your mailbox, Bones, I know who you are." I pull her back into my chest and hold her, and her arms slowly come around me.
I feel her voice vibrate against my chest as she says, "I don't really have a mailbox. It's more of a cubbyhole with a little slot in it."
I can't help laughing at her typical response. She pulls away from me, feigning indignation. "Come on, whatchamacallit," I say. "Let's get back to work."
She lightly smacks my arm and we walk out of the barn together, and back into the biggest case of her life. If I know her—and I do—she'll get to the bottom of this mystery. After all, she has a name to uphold.
I hope you enjoyed this vignette. I wanted to show a little more of the closeness between Booth and Brennan, and how he would've helped her through that moment of uncertainty about herself. While I love the idea of them being together romantically, I don't really do romance. Besides, the best things are worth waiting for. For now, friendship—and a possible romantic foreshadowing—are good enough for me.
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