"I would rather live my life as if there is a God,
and die to find out there isn't,
Than live my life as if there isn't,
and die to find out there is."
Sunday mornings were quiet in the house. Booth and Parker went to mass, leaving Tempe with the two little ones at home. It was her usual routine to put Lizzie and Ryan down for an early nap and use the time to work on her novel.
However, lately she felt a strange sense of guilt as her husband and stepson stepped out the front door each Sunday morning. Instead of using her precious quiet time productively, she found herself reading theology texts and books on Christian and Buddhist teachings. Temperance wanted to understand what her husband seemed to 'get' about religion that she was unable to.
When Tempe heard the door slam and Parker's feet run up the stairs, she hastily closed the Bible in her lap and shoved it back in the drawer of his nightstand. On her way out of the bedroom, she peeked in the eight-year-old's bedroom and smiled at the sight of him already changed into jeans and a sweatshirt.
"That was quick!" She began picking up the stray socks and dress pants from around the room.
"Dad and I are gonna play catch with my new football in the backyard!" Parker began searching under the bed and then in the closet. "Do you know where it is, Mom?"
"Try the back porch, Parker."
"Oh yeah! Thanks!" He scurried off excitedly in search of the ball. Booth was thankful that his son had taken an interest in football lately because it was something he could relate to. Tempe knew he felt slightly left out when Parker pursued scientific hobbies such as bug collecting and backyard archaeological digs.
On her way to the laundry room, she found Booth on the couch checking the Penn State college football scores. Before taking a seat next to him, Temperance added to her collection of hastily removed Sunday clothes, bringing his jacket and tie into the pile in her arms.
"He's waiting for you in the backyard. Seems pretty excited about tossing a ball back and forth."
"It's not about the ball." He kept his eyes on the TV screen as he spoke. "It's a guy thing. You wouldn't understand."
"Of course. I understand it's a male bonding ritual. And he's taken an interest in this sport in an obvious effort to model his behavior after yours. He's seeking your approval." She added the last part with a few pokes to his shoulder.
"Okay, okay,….I'm going! Why can't you just nag like a normal wife?" As he rose from the couch, he dropped a quick kiss on her forehead and smiled before bounding up the stairs to change.
Her scientific gaze followed his form out of the room and she mused at his relaxed state. Going to church calmed her husband and caused his eyes to linger on her and the children for precious extra moments. It could only be described as a spirit of gratitude that seemed to envelop his being each week. She liked the 'after-church' Booth.
The lavender-scented baby shampoo permeated the air as Seeley and Tempe kneeled next to the tub bathing their two little ones.
Elizabeth gracefully guided her Little Mermaid doll through the bubbles while Ryan experimented with splashing water all over his daddy.
"I think we should go with you to church next week." She casually stated as she rinsed her toddler daughter's auburn hair.
Booth squinted at her in surprise as he swiped at the clump of bubbles on his eyebrow. "You sure?"
"Yeah, is it a problem?" Her eyes still did not meet his as she continued rinsing.
"Hey." He waited for her to look at him. "I'm really happy that you wanna come."
She smiled coyly and averted her gaze once again to her children. "Good."
The last time she had been in the church was for Ryan's baptism four months previous. The only church services she'd attended with Booth had been for Easter and Christmas with his family in Philadelphia.
During the mass, he made very few attempts to explain things to her because he knew that she preferred to operate in the role of objective observer when it came to new experiences.
Booth held their baby boy in his lap while Temperance kept an eye on the sleeping two-year-old in the pew next to her. Parker sat between the two adults and was on his best behavior. Having completed the rite of passage of his first communion the previous summer, the boy now felt he could participate as fully in the rituals as his father. He therefore modeled his respectful behavior after the man at his side.
Following the service, Booth began socializing with the other regular churchgoers. He moved about the aisles balancing the cherubic 11-month-old on his hip as the elderly women fawned over the infant's sweet smiling demeanor.
As he busied himself talking to the priest at the exit, Tempe gathered a very drowsy Lizzie into her arms and moved in his direction. She was stopped by a nun's hand on her free shoulder.
"Excuse me, dear. I just want to tell you how happy we are to have you here with us this morning. I'm Sister Mary Brendan O'Donnell. I teach anthropology and biology at the university. I must say that your article on the molecular signature of selection underlying human adaptations was most impressive."
"Why, thank you. I must confess I'm a little…."
"Well, yes. I myself am a rational empiricist. Religion,….well, I guess I'm not sure how to believe in that which I cannot prove."
The elder woman nodded in understanding.
"Science and religion are not necessarily mutually exclusive. I've always felt that through explaining the world around us, we come to an understanding that there are some things that can never truly be explained."
She rested an aged hand on the toddler's pink cheek and continued. "Science gives me a greater appreciation of the miracle of life and magnificence of our world. It makes my faith stronger."
Tempe met the woman's enigmatic smile and returned. "I will see you next Sunday, Sister Brendan."
As Booth rocked his son to sleep after his feeding, he reflected on how nice the Sunday had been for his little family. His heart swelled with pride when his wife and children accompanied him to mass.
She had agreed soon after Elizabeth's birth that she would support him in raising their children in the Catholic tradition since she herself adhered to no religious practice. They had baptized both of the children, but up to the present day there had been no further effort on her part to involve herself in this aspect of their parenting.
When he returned to their bedroom, he chuckled at the sight of her bent over his worn copy of the Holy Bible.
"That's some dangerous reading material you got there, Bones. Not everything can be analyzed and explained away how you like it." He plopped down on the bed and reclined next to her.
Her crystal blue eyes remained transfixed on the pages of text for a few more moments before moving upward to meet his relaxed brown ones.
"You know, Albert Einstein said that religion is belief in things our mind cannot grasp directly. And that the most beautiful and deepest experience one can have is a sense of the mysterious."
His brows shot up in surprise. "What are you trying to say? That you're open to the concept of God now?"
She hesitated before responding. "Maybe."
"What changed your mind?"
"You." She closed the book and set it gently on the nightstand.
"Yeah, well, I wouldn't quite categorize my 'talents' as a religious experience. So, other than that, what did I do?"
Tempe rolled her eyes briefly before continuing in all seriousness. "It wasn't anything specific. I guess I just realized that because we love each other, we learn from each other. We grow and change. And I've become open and responsive to what you can bring to my life. I respect you enough to change for you."
He shook his head and brought her body close to his in a familiar embrace. "You don't have to change for me. I would rather this religious awakening, or whatever it is, come from you, not from me."
"But you're a part of me now. You're inside me, and I can no longer tell where you begin and I end." Her fingers linked with his.
"Partners." That's what he always considered them to be. That term described them first and foremost, before friend, lover, and spouse. They truly were partners in this life, relying on each other and sharing everything.
"Yeah." It came out as a whisper, as if everything suddenly made sense.
"Sounds like we're just meant to be together then, doesn't it?"
"Is that in reference to God's divine plan or just plain fate?"
"Call it what you want, Bones. It's meant to be."
Booth covered her lips with his own, their kiss filled with promise and hope for the future.
Temperance was like a gift he would be opening for the rest of his life. She was a deeply complex woman, more challenging than any other he had ever known. But she was his companion in this journey, and they would continue to evolve as individuals and as a couple.
One thing was for certain: their love would only grow stronger with time.
A/N: The last section was inspired by Emily Deschanel's commentary in the video interview on the Fox website. I thought she summed up Booth and Brennan's relationship very well.
I wrote this story as a reflection of what I thought these characters' "happily ever after" could realistically be like. I was not overly concerned with so-called "OOC" issues, but I tried to keep it as real as possible considering their ever-changing situations throughout the story. It was really fun to visualize all the details of their fantasy life. I enjoyed writing this as well as reading all the really kind reviews.
The two recurring themes I see in Brennan on the show are Children and Religion. I felt that those were two areas in which she was unsure of her feelings. And David Boreanaz said that Booth is able to open her up and create the possibility for her to change her mind. That was the inspiration here.
I hope everyone enjoyed reading this story. Thank you so much!