Disclaimer: Must we go through this every time? I don't own them, never have and never will…unfortunately…
Author's notes: This is the last chapter for this story. I am in the process of outlining my next BONES fic so hopefully I will have time to write it soon. Thanks again for reading and again special thanks to those who have reviewed. Your comments and observations are always great! Enjoy.
Dark clouds had moved in at a furious pace and the threat of pouring rain was imminent. The wind had also picked up and Booth watched as Brennan's hair whipped around her face, her expression stoic. He barely focused his attention on the words that the priest before them was uttering.
Booth had found himself watching his partner closely since he had picked up her that morning. She had attempted to smile at him to indicate that she was okay but Booth saw through the façade, noticing that her eyes were full of sadness.
Now, seated in a folding chair next to her mother's final resting place, Brennan's eyes were clear, free of tears but still held a despair that Booth had become achingly familiar with. She sat rigidly next to him, ignoring the stinging coolness of the wind, her hands folded together in her lap. Russ sat morosely to her left, his arms crossed, trying to keep the wind from entering his jacket.
"Ashes to ashes…." the priest continued.
Booth remembered the last time that he and Brennan attended a funeral. He had shared a long kept secret that he didn't believe anyone could understand…or forgive him for. Hell, how could he expect anyone else to understand or forgive his actions, regardless of how many lives he had saved, when he couldn't do that himself?
But Bones had surprised him as usual. She let him talk; let him unload the burden that he had been carrying around for so long and she didn't judge him or begin some anthropological spiel explaining his actions. She had listened without prejudice and then she had comforted him with a simple gesture…a simple touch. He returned the favor at that moment, reaching into her lap and covering her hands with his.
Brennan didn't move. She allowed Booth to cover her hands, recalling Angela's words about a simple touch. Booth's simple touch provided the comfort that she greatly needed at that moment. She wasn't listening to the priest's words, which brought her no comfort at all. She stared straight ahead, allowing the wind to physically numb her, wishing it could numb the internal pain that she felt. Time apparently doesn't heal all wounds, she thought bitterly. This particular wound, created all those years ago, had scabbed over but never healed and then suddenly it had been punctured again.
The priest finished the service and walked over to Christine Brennan's children. "I am so sorry for your loss." Russ and Brennan both nodded at his hollow words.
With her mother's remains in the lab, Brennan knew that her death was final….a chapter closed. But as she watched her mother's casket slowly being lowered into the ground, Brennan realized the full finality of the situation. No hope. No happy ending. No peaceful resolution. No easy answers.
Booth removed his hand from hers, placed his hand at her right elbow and helped her stand. Readjusting his hand from her elbow to her back, Booth gently rubbed small circles on her back in a reassuring manner.
Angela, Hodgins, Zach and Dr. Goodman approached after the priest walked away. Angela hugged Brennan tightly; noting the close proximity that Booth kept as though he believed Brennan might suddenly falter and need him. She released Brennan and turned to Russ, hugging him also.
"Are you staying for a few more days?" she inquired, hoping that he wouldn't leave his sister quite yet.
"No, Tempe rented a car for me," he pointed to a small blue Honda parked near the grave site. "I'm leaving for North Carolina in just a few minutes." Noticing Angela's disapproving glare, he quickly explained. "I've got work…plus my girlfriend expects me back. But don't worry, I'll be back, around here annoying my sister and all of her friends."
Angela punched his arm lightly. "You better be." Turning back to Brennan, she smiled slightly. "Call me if you need to, okay?" She knew that Brennan would not call. Her best friend had still not discussed her feelings about the events of the last two weeks and Angela was concerned that a meltdown was inevitable.
"I'm fine Ange but I promise to call if I need to."
Dr. Goodman stepped forward and placed his hand on Brennan's shoulder. "Temperance, I want you to take some time off from the lab…"
Brennan opened her mouth to argue but was stopped by Goodman. "No arguments. You know how much I despise insubordination…"
"Yet you let Hodgins come to work everyday," Zach stated innocently.
Hodgins glared at the young protégé as Angela pulled him away to the car. Goodman chuckled slightly at the quip.
"That's an order Temperance," he continued softly. "Please take some time."
Realizing that arguing would be futile, Brennan agreed. "I'll take the rest of the week but that's it."
"Fair enough." He knew that a week was a compromise for her so he accepted it. He turned to Booth and extended his hand which the agent accepted. "Agent Booth, thank you for assisting in this matter and…" Goodman nodded his head toward Brennan slightly. Booth understood the gesture and nodded.
"That's what I'm here for." He released Goodman's hand and watched him escort Zach to the car.
"Come on Bones, let's get you to the car where it's warm." He took her by the hand and they walked with Russ to their respective vehicles.
"Well, I'm gonna hit the road," Russ announced.
Brennan turned toward her brother. "Try to make sure that all of the spare parts of the car make it to the rental place," she joked, referring to his previous criminal activity.
Behind her Booth smiled. Russ shook his head as he embraced her. "Yeah, well, don't you go shooting any more suspects that you and Booth catch." Two could play that game.
Brennan pushed out of his embrace slightly. "He was trying to set me on fire! Besides how did you…Angela!"
Russ laughed. "Yep, she told me a few interesting things about my grown up sister. Maybe I shouldn't have taken you to those John Wayne movies, huh?"
Brennan decided to drop the subject of what other interesting things Russ had been informed of about her since she was unsure of which events Angela had covered. She was convinced that her brother didn't need to know little things like the time she was charged with murder, or the time that she was kidnapped or the time that she was shot at.
Russ hugged her again, kissing her cheek. "I love you Tempe."
Wrapping her arms around him as tight as she could, Brennan whispered back, "I love you too."
He released her and glanced over at Booth, who was never too far from his sister. "You take care of her."
"I can take care of myself," she huffed causing both men to laugh.
Booth grinned at Russ. "You take care…and stay out of trouble."
Brennan watched as her brother turned and walked toward his car. She felt her heart constrict and panic overtook her. Booth sensed her distress and threw his arm around her shoulder, pulling her close. "You'll see him again Bones. He's not leaving you again."
She didn't respond. She just watched her brother slip behind the steering wheel and drive away, secretly hoping that Booth was right.
They made their way to Booth's SUV and climbed inside. Booth started the vehicle and immediately switched on the heat, noticing that Brennan was shivering. "It'll be warm in a sec."
Brennan looked over at him and then past him at her mother's grave site. The large grave stone that read "Christine Brennan, Beloved Wife and Mother" ripped at her heart again and she quickly turned away. It was over.
Booth looked over his shoulder in the direction that Brennan had turned away from and decided it was time to leave. He slowly pulled the SUV down the path until they reached the main road. Thirty minutes later he parked in front of Brennan's apartment building and reached to open his door.
"Don't." Brennan unbuckled her seatbelt and placed her hand on the door handle of the passenger door. "I just…need to be alone right now. Besides you've got work today."
"No I don't. I took the day off. Cullen understood." Concern set in Booth's eyes as he studied her. When he had arrived, she had been waiting outside for him. He had not been back to her apartment since he and Parker had had breakfast with her, Angela and Russ. He had left the siblings to themselves to catch up. He had also continued working on locating Max Keenan and collecting information on the man who had taken Bones out of foster care, both with negative results thus far.
Brennan simply stared back at her partner. "I just need to be alone Booth," she repeated. "That's all. It has nothing to do with you or your company…"
Relenting, he took his hand away from the door handle and allowed her to exit the SUV. He sat at the curb until she was safely inside the building. He didn't like the idea of her being alone and as he pulled away from the curb, he wondered how long he would acquiesce to her need.
Brennan closed the door behind her, sighing heavily. She looked around the apartment, realizing how much she missed having her brother around. Glancing at the new flat screen television and DVD player sitting in her living room, Brennan laughed.
Each time she saw those items she would be reminded of Russ. She recalled his tirade on the absence of a television after Booth and Parker had left. Brennan decided to cave and agreed to go with Russ to buy a television. She had laughed at her brother as he became frustrated attempting to figure out how to operate the electronic implement. The man could fix a large piece of machinery at a carnival or disassemble a car but he couldn't read the simple directions that were in the box.
Brennan walked to her bedroom and changed into a pair of old comfortable blue jeans and a shirt with a Jeffersonian emblem on it. She made her way into the kitchen and decided to boil water for tea. She walked over to her desk and switched on her laptop to check her email.
She groaned as she read the email from her agent requesting that she contact him so they could discuss the promotion of her second book which could entail a tour. She shook her head resolutely at the screen. "Nope, no tours," she muttered. The kettle on the stove whistled indicating that it was ready.
After making her tea, Brennan sat back down at her desk and opened a blank document on her word processor. Typing the word "untitled", Brennan began drafting a rough outline of ideas for her next book. She sat at the desk for hours, completely engrossed in her work when she heard a knock at her door.
Blinking a few times, Brennan realized that her apartment was dark with the exception of the light from her kitchen and her laptop. Night had closed in on her without her knowledge.
She stood and walked to the door, peering through the peephole, although she already knew who was on the other side. As she opened the door, Booth offered her his most charming smile. "I brought food."
Quirking an eyebrow, Brennan saw the pizza box in one hand and a plastic bag hanging off the fingers of his other hand. "I noticed."
He breezed past her and moved into the kitchen, placing the box and the bag on the counter. "Yep, a good old supreme pizza with the works….whoa Bones, sweet television!"
Brennan shook her head as she watched Booth move around the counter and into the living room so as to fully appreciate the television's "sweetness".
"Angela told me that you had bought one while Russ was here but she didn't tell me that you went top of the line." Booth whistled as he picked up the remote control and started flipping through the channels.
"I don't know what th…..By all means, help yourself. It's not as if I was busy doing anything." She stood by her desk appraising the new situation. Alone time was through, she thought.
Booth glanced up and noticed that her laptop was switched on. "Oh, were you busy with something? Can I read it?" He moved toward the desk, knowing that Brennan would switch it off.
"No, you can't," she replied as she did exactly what Booth had predicted. He smiled to himself, knowing that he had disrupted her alone time.
He turned and continued to play with all of the functions on the television. Brennan walked over to the pizza box and lifted the lid, inhaling the savory scent. She then turned her attention to the plastic bag and removed a Styrofoam box and several DVD movies.
Booth turned to find her in the kitchen, studying the back of one of the movies. "I got you a salad too and I brought some movies."
"Yeah, I figured that out."
He moved toward the kitchen and noticed her small smile. "I thought we could have a John Wayne marathon…I hear his movies are really kickass on flat screen televisions like yours." He winked playfully at her. "What do you say 'little lady'?"
"Now how can I say no to 'The Duke'?" She turned to gather plates for their meal.
"Yeah, can't say no to 'The Duke'….or to me, right?"
Brennan shrugged slightly, playing along. "It could go either way with you."
"Ouch Bones." Booth pressed his hands over his chest. "Ouch." He didn't miss the smile that graced her face as she turned toward the refrigerator.
"Beer?" she inquired.
They made their way to the couch and Booth started the first movie, Stagecoach. Each began devouring their slice of pizza as the opening credits started. Booth stole a glance at his partner and noticed her rapt attention to the movie.
Several slices of pizza and two beers later, Booth and Brennan were in the middle of the second movie that Booth had chosen. Both were relaxed, leaning back into the cushion of the couch, arms touching. He noticed that Brennan had been pretty quiet for most of the evening.
"Hey Bones," he said softly, "you're not mad that I interrupted your time alone, are you?"
Brennan turned her face toward him. "No, Booth, I'm not mad."
They stared at each other for a moment. "You know if you need to talk…" Booth began.
"I'm fine," came a soft reply that Booth didn't buy for a moment. He and Angela had discussed the fact that Brennan had not expressed her feelings over her mother's death or over finding out that her father was still alive. Booth knew that for the moment, Brennan would suppress as much of her emotions as she could. But he needed her to understand that when the floodgates opened—and they would open—he would be there.
"Okay….I'm just letting you know. I'm here." He reached over and grabbed her hand, squeezing it slightly.
"I know. I've never doubted that." She leaned her head down and placed it on his shoulder, squeezing his hand in kind.
Whatever the future held for her, she knew that Seeley Booth would be a part of it. It was just a simple known fact. It may not have been logical and she was unsure how she could be so utterly certain but she was.
They continued to watch her favorite cinematic hero on television but Brennan knew that 'The Duke' could never compare to the FBI hero that was sitting next to her, holding her hand, saving her from herself.
Author's notes: The next story I have in mind is titled "A Pain That I'm Used To"—yes taken from the Depech Mode song that was featured in Two Bodies in the Lab. It will be a continuation of this story, picking up approximately four months after Brennan's mom's funeral. Thank you again for reading and reviewing. Now I'll go get started on the next story.