Things Never Change
Chapter 1 – Miss You
I miss you, beautiful
These three words have said it all
A/N: Here's the next chapter. Thanks for all the wonderful reviews! I took the writer's prerogative of skipping ahead in time to 11 days before the wedding. Enjoy!
Dulles International Airport, Washington, D.C., June 12, 2013
Angela pushed her way through the mingling people in the concourse.
"Hey Ange," Brennan slung her carry-on over her shoulder and enveloped her friend in a tight hug.
"How was the flight?" Angela questioned.
"Long," Brennan replied with a sigh.
Checking her watch, Angela tugged Brennan by the arm towards the baggage claim.
"Let's get your stuff," she urged. "Hodgins and I have a meeting with Mary in an hour."
"Jack's mother," Angela clarified. "She's acting as our wedding planner."
"I thought you always wanted to plan your own wedding," Brennan said.
"I did, but Mary insisted, and she doesn't take 'no' for an answer," Angela laughed. "You'll meet her soon, she's a character."
The two women chatted amicably as they gathered Brennan's bags and left the airport. Angela led the way to a black town car that waited by the curb. An older African-American man leaned against the rear of the car, idly turning a worn-looking gray felt hat over in his hands. He looked up at the sound of Angela and Brennan's footsteps and smiled.
"Miss Montenegro," he nodded at Angela.
"Tom," she acknowledged him. "Bren, this is Thomas Chapman, my driver. Tom, this is my friend Doctor Temperance Brennan."
"You have a driver?"
Brennan forgot her manners and looked at Angela, bewildered.
"Hodgins spoils me," Angela grinned. "What can I do?"
Shaking her head, Brennan stepped forward and offered her hand in greeting.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Mr. Chapman," she said.
"Aw now, I won't have you callin' me that," he scolded. "My name's Tom and that's what I'll answer to. Capiche, Doc?"
Brennan smirked, immediately liking this man.
"Got it… Tom," she replied.
"Don't be fooled by his charm, sweetie," Angela jumped in. "He just hides his bitterness well," she gave Tom a nudge as she moved past him to toss one of Brennan's bags into the trunk.
"Hey, it's chocolate on the outside, sweet on the inside," Tom grabbed Brennan's other bag and slammed the trunk shut. "Let's get you ladies home."
Hodgins' house, June 12, 2013
The drive to the house passed quickly. Brennan was surprised when Tom pulled the car into a winding driveway, gravel crunching beneath the tires as they slowed. She turned to look out the window. White-painted wooden fences flanked both sides of the drive, shaded by a considerable amount of mature oak trees. Brennan knew that Hodgins was rich, but this was rich rich.
"We're having the wedding here," Angela's voice tore Brennan from her thoughts.
"It's nice," she replied, watching the scenery pass. "Lots of space…" Brennan swept her eyes over the expanse of the property.
"Yeah," Angela agreed. "Space enough for horses."
"Horses? I don't see Hodgins as a horse kind of guy."
Angela laughed at that and patted her friend's hand where it rested on the seat beside her.
"No, he's not," she shook her head, "but I can be a horse kind of girl."
"He bought you a horse?"
"Five, actually," Angela said. "He said he didn't know what color I'd want, so he picked one of each," she smiled as she recalled. "Black, gray, chestnut, palomino, and bay."
"That's illogical," Brennan furrowed her brow.
"I know, but look at it this way – one for me, one for Hodgins, one for you, and one for Booth, with one to spare."
Brennan really didn't want to think about Booth right now.
"Don't you be forgettin' me, darlin'," Tom interrupted. "I'll take the spare."
"Tom, you couldn't get up on a horse if your life depended on it," Angela teased.
"Aw now, that's the biggest piece of chickeshit I've ever heard," he bickered.
Brennan turned back to the window and passed the remainder of the short trip up the driveway in silence. Tom pulled the car to a stop in front of the house and cut the engine. The women exited through their respective doors and assisted Tom with the luggage. Before they reached the house, the front door swung open to reveal a flustered Hodgins.
"Angela! Thank God you're back," he yelled down to them. "Hey Brennan," he added, almost as an afterthought.
"What's wrong?" Angela answered.
"Mom's here and she's reconsidering our food choice for the reception," Hodgins explained. "Help," he stated, ushering the three of them inside.
Angela flashed Brennan and apologetic smile.
"Sweetie, Tom will show you your room," Angela said. "Why don't you get settled, maybe head out to the barn, see the horses, you know?" she suggested.
"I think I'll do that," Brennan nodded and took one of her bags from Angela's shoulder.
"We shouldn't be long," Angela turned to follow Hodgins into the other room. "Remember, this afternoon we have to get your dress fitted. Booth will be here around three, then we'll leave."
Brennan stopped Angela with a hand on her arm.
"Yes, Bren. Booth," Angela sighed. "He's driving down from Quantico for his tux fitting. By the way, he'll be staying here with us until the wedding's over. His NATU class graduated last week and he's off until August. He told me he's looking forward to the vacation."
Brennan sucked in a breath and squeezed Angela's arm tighter.
"Wait, Ange," Brennan couldn't hide her confusion. "Tux fitting?"
"Oh, sweetie, he didn't tell you?" Angela asked, sympathetic. "What about when you called him to say you were coming to D.C.?"
"No… I didn't call him," Brennan answered. "And I haven't talked to him, not since I left…"
Angela ignored the last part of Brennan's statement.
"Booth's the best man. Zack is on sabbatical and won't make it back in time for the wedding, so Hodgins asked Booth and he said yes."
"Oh…" Brennan processed this information. "What's all this about Quantico?"
"Booth works for the FBI Academy now," Angela said, "as an instructor with NATU, at least I think that's what it's called."
"New Agents' Training Academy," Brennan expanded the acronym easily.
A silence fell over the pair. Brennan couldn't help but wonder what else Booth hadn't told her.
"Ange, seriously…" Hodgins poked his head around the corner, oblivious of the conversation he was interrupting, and gestured for her to come assist him with his mother. "I need you! She threw a plate… it's like the third World War in here!" he yelled before disappearing again.
Brennan saw Angela's face darken.
"Sorry, hon, duty calls," she apologized. "Sometimes I wish I could just strangle that man!" she growled before heading after him.
Brennan's voice was so soft that Angela almost didn't hear her hushed words.
"But you really love him, don't you?"
Glancing back over her shoulder, Angela looked at Brennan for a moment before answering.
"Yeah… yeah, I do."
Brennan watched as Angela vanished around the corner behind Hodgins. After a while, she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder and found Tom beside her. He must have been there the whole time, privy to their conversation. Brennan found that his presence didn't bother her; she was grateful for his kindness to her. She offered him a small smile and he squeezed her shoulder before letting go.
"Come on, Doc," he said. "I'll take you to your room."
Forty-five minutes later, Brennan found herself in the barn, for lack of something better to do. The sweet scent of horses washed over her and she immediately relaxed, at ease with the company of the animals. Walking down the aisle, her boots soundless on the dirt floor, Brennan peered into the first stall on her left. A big black horse stared back at her.
"Hey there, boy," she greeted the animal.
The horse shuffled to the front of the stall and pressed his nose against the grill of the stall. Brennan reached up and rubbed his forehead gently.
"His name is Dexter," a voice said from behind her, one she would recognize anywhere.
Brennan dropped her hand back down to her side, resisting the urge to spin and run into his arms.
She turned around and leaned her back against Dexter's stall. His hair was shorter, she noticed.
"The black's Dexter," Booth repeated. "Ranger, Twist, Rocket, and Sunny are the others," he gestured down the aisle with a flippant wave of his hand.
He wouldn't look at her.
"Booth…" Brennan said again.
He walked two steps away from her, aware of her eyes on him.
"I didn't figure you'd like horses," Booth said. "Too big, too messy, too stupid for you…"
"No, I do," Brennan replied, confused. "Booth?" she questioned, her voice laced with suppressed desperation. She hadn't expected such passiveness from him.
Booth finally met her eyes. Brennan reached out and placed her hand on his bare forearm. His skin was warm under her fingers and his defense finally crumbled beneath her touch. Before she could react, Booth had wrapped her in a tight embrace. His hands rested against her shoulder blades and he buried his face in her hair. Instinctively, she wanted to pull away, thinking of the fiancé that waited for her in California, but he was so warm and so familiar that she slipped her arms beneath his and hugged him tightly.
"God, Bones… I've missed you so damn much," Booth's whispered words skimmed over her ear like a caress.
It would be so easy to say the same to him. Not a day had gone by in the past six years that she didn't think about where he was, what he was doing, if he was happy. She tried to force the words from her mouth, but they wouldn't come. When she didn't say anything after a moment, Booth released her and stepped back. She was immediately cold.
"Sorry," he cleared his throat. "Ah… Angela sent me out here. It's time to go get fitted."
He moved to leave and as she watched him walk away, the anthropologist in her noticed that he favored his left leg ever so slightly. Brennan, desperate for something to say to keep him there, took a few steps after him and called out her question. She was surprised to find that her voice wavered when she spoke.
"What happened to your leg?"
Booth stopped, shoulders tense, but he didn't turn back to her.
"Shot in the war," he said.
"The war?" Brennan's eyes widened. "You went back overseas?"
Booth sighed and nodded. She approached him cautiously until she stood next to him.
"I left, you know, after you went to Stanford."
"The FBI," Booth clarified. "They gave me a new partner. I… I couldn't do it anymore," he looked at her from the corner of his eye.
"Oh…" Brennan wished she didn't understand him so well.
"They needed troops. I had experience, so I volunteered. They stationed me in Baghdad, put me in contr-"
"Why didn't you tell me you got shot?" Brennan cut him off. "A simple phone call would have been nice, Booth, that's all."
What if he had been killed? Would she have ever known?
"You know, Bones, sometimes I wonder if you would have come even if I had called…" Booth sounded tired.
Brennan's eyes blazed with fury, disguising the deep hurt that she felt at his words, and her hand latched onto his bicep, but Booth moved before she could yell. He encircled her wrist with his fingers and pulled, prying her hand from his arm with an unexpected strength that sent her reeling backwards. She stood, breathing hard and glaring at him, and Booth almost wanted to smile.
"Anger is a useless emotion, Bones," he chastised. "But if anybody gets to be angry here, it's me, right?"
Brennan crossed her arms over her chest, a retort forming on her tongue. Booth was quicker though, and he silenced her with a finger to her lips. When he spoke to her again, his voice was soft.
"We can't do this now, Bones. Not here, not now," he shook his head. "We have to pretend to be civilized, at least for a little while. We'll talk later."
Booth passed his thumb over the ridge of her cheekbone and she nodded in acquiescence.
A/N: Okay, interesting. I'm not sure what I think about that one. Fuzzy details will be cleared up in the next chapter or two. And the horses… where they came from, who knows. Oh well, at least we now get the option of romantic sunset rides and hayloft sex, lol! I hope you liked this. By the way, I wish Dexter was mine. Review!