Twelve Days of Christmas Bones
Spoilers up to Season 3: "The Santa in the Slush"
A/N: One last time, a huge thank you to all the people who have been reading the story, who have been putting it on alerts, and who have been leaving reviews. I can't tell you how much I appreciate the comments, the questions, and even the complaints! The dialogue between reader and writer is a large part of my creative process.
Disclaimer: The characters and the show Bones are the intellectual property of their creators and Fox TV.
The Feast of Epiphany: January 6
Online-Dictionary - epiphany: A sudden, intuitive perception of or insight into the reality or essential meaning of something, usually initiated by some simple, homely, or commonplace occurrence or experience.
He had left the Jeffersonian the day before full of hope. It would take time, he knew that. Zach had warned him that even just running the DNA profiles through the various databases they had access to could take weeks, maybe more, and the chances of hitting a match were small.
But it was something. Some way to keep his promise to those small bodies pulled from a forgotten field, a strange and bloody harvest.
He shuddered again at the memory of the room Angela had filled with her portraits: 44 small faces, eyes closed, most of them, in a slumber so profound it could never be mistaken for anything but what it was.
He thought back to the first moment he had seen Parker, held him in his hands. Rebecca had been reluctant at first to let him in the delivery room, but when it came time to deliver their son, she had grabbed his hand and refused to let him go. He had taken his tiny squirming son from the doctor's hands, loosely wrapped in a towel in the warm hospital room, and knew his life had changed in the instant his son took breath.
He had already been to morning Mass. After the service, he had lit candles and said prayers: one for each tiny body found. He had gone back to the office and started doing what he could to get Zach access to as many DNA databases as he could. He had sat with his head in his hands and resolutely not asked God how this could have happened. He knew how it had happened.
Now he hurt with inactivity and anger and the need to do something. Anything.
With a groan, he pushed himself away from the desk and grabbed his jacket, automatically checking his gun and holster, searching for his keys in his pocket. He knew that showing up at the Jeffersonian would do no good. He knew Cam would tell him off. He knew Zach would be jumpy with him hanging around. He knew that Bones would roll her eyes and complain that they couldn't give him any answers and that hanging around wasn't going to speed anything up.
But he had to go. He had to check. He had to see for himself that the machines were working, that the information was being found. He had to hear it from them: that they weren't giving up, that they were keeping his babies in mind.
He was halfway to the Jeffersonian before he admitted it to himself: he just needed to see her. Temperance. He needed to see her to know that he was okay.
He was at the Jeffersonian's doors before he admitted it to himself: he needed more from her. These cautious baby steps towards her were cramping his muscles. It was like the old children's game of "Go, Go, Stop" – every time he moved closer, she would freeze him into immobility. Until he wasn't sure if he would ever be able to move again.
He walked through the doors, bounced up the stairs, swiped his card, and looked around. He seemed to be in a squint-free zone; not a single member of the team could be seen. He checked his watch; it was 3 o'clock on a Sunday. Normally, someone would be there. Weekends didn't mean a lot to the squints.
He wandered through the Jeffersonian. It was quiet, peaceful. No Hodgins and Angela, unnaturally entwined, to trip over in dark corners, no Cam and Bones engaging in their pissy little wars of superiority, no Zach wandering through intellectual mazes even Brennan had trouble tracking him in. Machines whirred, lights flickered; in the distance, Booth could hear tour groups being escorted through the exhibits, exhorted not to touch anything.
He wandered into Brennan's office, still looking around for someone. Anyone. He'd even talk to Zach. Actually, he wanted to talk to Zach. Zach was King of the Lab right now.
With a sigh, he sat down in Brennan's chair, resisting the urge to snoop on her computer. He knew better than to pry into Brennan's personal space more than he had already. There were boundaries she would never let anyone cross.
He reached over and picked up Jasper. He couldn't really explain the impulse that had sent him scrabbling through a huge bin of farm animals one day when he was in the toy store with Parker. The thought of Brennan sitting at home with a pet pig had been so strangely sad and suitable, somehow. When he had broached the subject with Hodgins, the scientist had reacted with confused horror at the thought of Brennan being tied down by a pet.
Booth sighed. They did all conspire to keep her isolated in a way, didn't they?
He smiled at Brainy Smurf, recalling the cool way she had studied him when he explained why he had rejected Smurfette as a suitable symbol. Waiting for the sting in the tail, that one. Every hand reached out a potential threat.
He sat back and closed his eyes. He had slept poorly the night before: too many images rushing through his head. Waiting was not his strong suit; he was the one who cleared the scene for everyone else. First in, last out. Defender, Protector, Knight Templar.
When Brennan returned to her office, her Knight in standard issue body armour was lying back in her office chair, his feet on her desk, and Jasper clenched in his hand, profoundly asleep.
She looked down at him and actually felt her heart crack open a little. He looked younger and somehow vulnerable when he was sleeping. She pulled an amateurishly wrapped gift out of a drawer and placed it on the desk in front of him, then sat down on the couch and waited for him to wake up.
It didn't take long. His senses were keen, and he had begun to twitch nearly as soon as her scent hit the air. His eyes opened and he was awake and alert – no slow rise to consciousness for this warrior.
She smiled at him.
"Where were you all?"
"Meeting with the admin."
"Anything I need to worry about?"
She shook her head and he relaxed a little.
He looked down at the desk, sliding Jasper back into place as unobtrusively as possible, and reached out for the gift. "This for me?"
He smiled at the excessive amount of tape, the extra paper tucked into the corners, the bow haphazardly placed, and was touched that she hadn't had his gift wrapped professionally.
"I'm not very good at that," she admitted, a little chagrined.
He grinned up at her and ripped the paper off in one quick jerk. "Doesn't matter."
She laughed a little, her eyes wide and a little guarded as he looked at his present.
It was a proof-copy of her latest book, the one that had not yet been published.
He looked up at her and smiled, "Thank you, Bones. I'll enjoy reading that, finding out what Kathy and Andy get up to." He wiggled his eyebrows at her suggestively.
She shook her head. "That's not really the gift."
"Well, it is, but it's more the package for the gift." She fumbled with the explanation, standing up and moving restlessly.
He watched her a moment. "There's something in the book?"
"The dedication. Would you read the dedication? Please?" She was standing close to him, her arms crossed at her waist, looking more nervous than he had ever seen her.
He stood, and put one arm around her as he opened the book to the dedication page, and read the one line quickly, then blinking. He looked at her, at a loss for words.
She put one hand up to his cheek and sighed. She opened her mouth as if to say something, then simply moved closer and kissed him.
His arms went around her and he quickly deepened the kiss. The book fell onto the desk, still open at the dedication page
To my partner, who remains the inspiration,
not for how I write my fiction, but for how I live my life.