A/N: This is it, the last chapter! I know the case is officially done with but I wanted a nice little wrap-up for everything, because I felt like I needed the closure on this one. And of course, I had to appease the B/B beast in me, even just a little. :) Thank you so much to everyone who has consistently read and reviewed this story, and those who favorited it and put it on alert. You don't know how much it means to me to know that you enjoy my writing, that you actually want more. It's a great feeling. So thanks again, and like I said before, if you like this one... there are more Bones fics on the horizon! So now I will let you finish, and hope that you like what you read... because I know I like what I wrote. :)
"Are you ready Bones?" Booth asked as he rounded the corner the next evening, heading towards her office. He could see her in the hallway walking to Angela and was relieved to see that, while perhaps not ready, she was at least not elbow-deep in human remains.
"You ready?" he asked again as he came closer to the two. Brennan turned to him and nodded.
"Yes, I was just… yeah, I'm ready," she said. "How do I look?"
"Somber," Booth said.
"Is that bad?" she asked. He shook his head.
"No Bones, you're going to a Vigil, you're supposed to look somber," Booth explained, knowing full and well that she had probably never been to any sort of viewing or funeral in her life.
"I've just never been to one of these," she said, as if reading his thoughts. "I still have that dress you bought me in Vegas, but I thought it might be too…"
"Yeah, this one is better," Booth said, giving Angela a wave as they walked out of the building. It was simple and discreet, and she wore a sweater around her shoulders to cover her. "Very tasteful," he added. She smiled.
"I'm glad it meets your approval," she said, in a tone that Booth couldn't decipher the seriousness of.
The long summer sun hung low in the sky as they drove out of the parking garage, Brennan with her hands resting in her lap. She split her focus between the world outside of the car and the world in her hands, eyes flicking from one to the other. Eventually her eyes settled on her upturned palms, one laid gently over the other, consumed in thought. Booth took notice, but allowed her a decent fifteen minutes of silence before inquiring.
"Everything alright Bones?" he asked. She snapped to attention, looking up at him as if she had forgotten he was there.
"Yeah, I'm fine," she said, nodding her head unconvincingly. She looked out the window and saw that they were approaching the funeral home. At least twenty vehicles were parked in the parking lot in front of the building.
"Wow," she said as they parked near the back of the parking lot, Booth shutting off the engine and leaning back in his seat for a moment before removing his seatbelt.
"What, the people?" he asked, looking at her. She nodded.
"I didn't know there would be so many," she said, stepping out of the car. He fell in stride next to her as they crossed the paved lot, shadows lagging long behind.
"Catholics don't do anything small," Booth said, a wry smile on his face. "Ever been to Mass?" Brennan didn't answer, a silence which Booth assumed was a no.
They walked into the parlor, which was packed to the gills with flowers and cards expressing condolences. Two small boys in equally small suits brushed against Booth's leg as they ran by, soon to be caught and reprimanded by an elderly woman who reminded Booth very much of a school nun from his elementary years. She looked up and gave the pair a strained smile.
"I apologize," she said, accent betraying her country of origin. Her bright red hair was streaked with chunks of grey, mostly covered by the black scarf wrapped around her head in traditional observance. "Boys will be boys, you know."
"It's fine," Booth said. "We're so sorry for your loss." The woman's eyes grew wet, but she blinked it back with the self-control of a seasoned pro. She nodded, swallowing hard before speaking.
"She was my eldest grandchild," the woman said. "I remember the day I first held Sarah in m' arms. Cute as a button, then and now," she said softly, stolen by reverie. Booth nodded with pursed lips.
"Again, truly sorry for your loss," he said, patting the woman's arm as she was lost to her thoughts, leading Brennan through to the viewing room. The parlor was narrow and long and, when it seemed like Booth might lose Brennan in the crowd of mourners, he reached for her hand to guide her.
When they entered the room where the Vigil itself would take place, they found the victim's mother seated next to the casket, which was closed. A picture of Sarah was placed atop the closed casket surrounded by candles, flower petals, and a rosary. Booth approached the mother.
"Mrs. McLeod?" Booth asked. The woman looked up, tears streaming down her face, a handkerchief pressed to her eye. She nodded.
"Agent Seeley Booth, Dr. Brennan and I worked your daughter's case," he said, and the woman nodded.
"I remember you," she said. "Thank you for coming."
"We're so sorry for your loss," Brennan said, following Booth's previous lead. The woman sniffed loudly, nodding.
"Thank you," she said. "Really, thank you—for giving us closure." Brennan nodded, feeling an odd lump rise in her throat. She swallowed it back and cleared her throat loudly.
"I'm going to step outside," she whispered in Booth's ear as she walked past him, snaking a path back through the parlor and out the open front door. She wrapped her arms around herself, despite the muggy evening air, and walked the perimeter of the building. A few children chased one another in the grass outside of the funeral home in bare feet, socks and stiff patent-leather shoes abandoned in a pile at the corner of the parking lot.
Brennan recognized those shoes; they were like the ones her parents used to make her and Russ wear on special occasions. The shoes that were always stiff from lack of use, that they only wore a few times before outgrowing them. The like-new shoes they always took to the Good Will across town, Brennan feeling sympathetic for the next kid who had to wear them. They were wedding shoes, church shoes, recital shoes. Funeral shoes, though Brennan had never been to any funerals in her memory. Her parents had told them that they had no other family, and therefore, no funerals to attend.
She found her way to a wrought-iron bench around the back of the building and took a seat, arms still gripped around her body. The bench overlooked the vast cemetery beyond, hills dotted with tombstones of varying shapes, sizes, and ages. Some were adorned lovingly with flowers; others stood bare. She imagined the people buried there—men, women, children even. Husbands, workers, wives, mothers. Those who had lived extraordinary lives, and those who had never really lived at all. Some who were so old when they died that they already appeared to be halfway through the decomposition process. Others buried in tiny caskets, with tiny suits and tiny patent-leather shoes.
She wondered how many of them she had given back faces, lives, if any. Surely she could lay claim to restoring the humanity of at least one of those skeletons? There had to be hundreds. Hundreds of dead bodies. While the idea usually put her in the mood to examine remains, today she just felt hollow at the thought. As that feeling began to settle in her stomach, she realized someone was sitting next to her. Someone small.
"What's your name?" the little tow-headed boy asked, dark eyes staring expectantly up at Brennan. She was somewhat taken aback and did not answer immediately.
"I'm James," the little boy said, putting out a hand. She looked at it for a moment, then took the small hand in her larger one, shaking it.
"Hi James, I'm Dr. Brennan," she said. The boy immediately withdrew his hand.
"Doctor? You en't gonna give me a shot, are ya?" he asked, worry knitting his brows together. Brennan smiled and shook her head.
"No, James, I'm not that kind of doctor," she said. The boy relaxed, gripping the edge of the bench with his hands and kicking his bare feet in the air. He looked back up at her.
"I don't like these," he said.
"Funerals?" she asked. He shook his head.
"Vigils," he said. "En't a funeral, that comes later." Brennan nodded, mouth forming the small 'o' it often did when she learned something new. "I bet you been to a lot of 'em, haven't you?" he asked. Brennan shook her head.
"Never, actually," she admitted to the boy, whose eyes grew wide in disbelief.
"No way," he said, astonished. Brennan nodded.
"Yes way," she said.
"Boy, you sure are lucky," the little boy said. "This is my third."
"I'm sorry to hear that," Brennan said, not sure how lucky that made her. The boy kicked his legs harder.
"Yeah. First my great-gram, then my Poppa, now my cousin," he said, listing them on the small fingers of his right hand. Brennan felt sorrow for the boy; he couldn't be more than six or seven years old.
"I'm sorry," she said. He shrugged.
"They're in heaven now, with the angels and the Saints and Jesus and Mary and God," he said in one big breath.
"Oh," was all Brennan said.
"I hope," the little boy added, eyes filled with worry. Brennan touched his head with her hand.
"I hope so too," she said, and her words seemed to put the boy at ease. He stood and put his hand out again.
"Well I'm gonna go, it was nice meeting you Doctor," he said with all the poise and professionalism of an adult and with none of the size. She smiled and shook his hand, and nodded.
"You too, James," she said, and the boy was gone. No sooner had he left than she saw Booth's large form come around the corner of the building, nearly tripping over a gaggle of girls decked in lace and satin, all giggles and curls. He stepped back as they ran past, shaking his head as he took the seat previously occupied by the little boy.
"Kids," he said. "They're nuts."
"I just had a very interesting conversation with one," Brennan said. Booth snorted.
"I hope you didn't scare him," he said.
"Why would I scare him?" Brennan asked. Booth rolled his eyes.
"Oh I don't know, all of your talk about decomposing bodies and murder weapons might scare a kid off," he joked. She smiled, looking down at her hands.
"No," she said. "He did most of the talking. Sarah was his cousin." Booth frowned.
"Kids shouldn't have to deal with this kind of thing," he said, his previous light-heartedness giving way to a serious tone. "Death, murders, funerals… it's too much for them. Hell, it's too much for me half the time." Brennan nodded, looking out at the tombstones again.
"He's been to three," she said, recalling the boy's list. "He couldn't believe that I've never been to a funeral."
"Well it's not normal, Bones," Booth said. "Most people your age—"
"Watch it," she said.
"—have been to at least one funeral," he finished. "They've had at least one person they cared for pass away."
"I lost my mother," she said quietly. "We just never had a funeral." Booth, at a loss for words, put his hand on her forearm and squeezed reassuringly. She appreciated the gesture.
"Maybe you should have one," Booth suggested. Brennan shook her head.
"For what? And for who? The only people who would come would be me, my father, and Russ. Maybe Russ's girlfriend."
"And me," Booth said. Brennan looked up at him curiously. "I'd come."
"You didn't know my mother," she said warily. "Why would you come?"
"I know you," he said. "That's enough of a reason. I'd come, and Angela and Hodgins and Cam, they'd all come too. And Sweets, and Caroline, hell Stacy would probably even show up." Brennan looked at the ground.
"Why?" she finally asked, looking up at Booth. "Why would all those people come to the funeral of a woman they didn't even know, don't even care about?"
"Because of you, Bones. To support you. Believe it or not, a lot of people really care about you," he said. "And that's what you do when you care about someone; you're there for them. Just like I'm there for you, just like you're there for me. That's just what you do." His hand slid down her arm and found hers, and she allowed her head to fall on his shoulder.
"We used to go to church," she said, breaking the silence. She picked her head up and looked at Booth, who looked somewhat shocked.
"Really?" he asked. She nodded.
"Every Sunday," she said. "We went to the Methodist church down the street from our house, rain or shine. When it was nice we walked," she recalled.
"When did you stop going?" Booth asked, fearing he knew the answer before she gave it.
"When my parents disappeared," she said. "After that, Russ refused to go, and I just didn't have the heart to go alone. I didn't think anyone was listening anyway." She looked out into the cemetery, avoiding Booth's gaze. He sighed.
"I'm sorry Bones," he said. "I really am. That's a tough way to lose your faith."
"Why do you believe?" she asked. Not accusingly, not insultingly, just a question. Booth didn't answer for a moment, seeming to contemplate the question.
"Miracles," he said simply. Brennan raised her brows.
"Miracles?" she asked. He nodded.
"What kind of miracles?" she asked. Booth leaned back against the bench and smiled.
"Every day miracles, Bones," he said. "The kind you take for granted every day, the ones science doesn't have a reason for. When you look at your little boy and see him smile just like you. When you joke with your partner over coffee and she doesn't get it, which makes it even funnier. When you give a body, a pile of bones, a name and a face and a reason for being on this planet. When, despite everything standing in your way, you make them a person again. That, Bones, is a miracle."
"That's science," she argued. "The last one, that's science."
"No Bones, it's a miracle," he said. "Using DNA or dental records to identify a person, that's science. But giving them a name, a life? That's a miracle. You are a miracle, and I thank God every day for you, and not just because of what you do."
His grip on her hand tightened and she squeezed back, breath caught in her chest. She couldn't remember the last time someone had made her feel so important, so wanted, so thankful to be alive. His fingers laced between hers and she let them, feeling electricity crackle up her arm and down her spine. She shivered in the heat, unable to tear her eyes from his. As if something beyond their control held them together in that moment.
Booth gulped, and she mimicked the action. He leaned towards her. She bit her lip. He got closer. She tilted her head. He was so close now; she could feel the heat from his breath on her face.
It was soft, warm, and quick. Not more than a few seconds. When it was over they touched foreheads, eyes locked.
"I don't believe in miracles," Brennan whispered.
"So what do you believe in?" Booth asked. Brennan smiled.
"I believe in you."
A/N: It's done! Aaaah! And for those of you who guessed correctly... yes, the titles of my chapters are all snippets of lyrics from various songs that I like, and/or that I felt fit the mood of that chapter in particular. So now, in the interest of crediting the artists, I will list the songs by chapter.
1. Can't Be Saved - Senses Fail
2. Calling All Angels - Train
3. The District Sleeps Alone Tonight - The Postal Service
4. Dead Wrong - The Fray
5. I'm Not Dead - Pink
6. Bitch - Meredith Brooks
7. How to Save a Life - The Fray
8. Little House - The Fray
9. How to Save a Life - The Fray (again)
10. Long Way to Happy - Pink
11. I'm Not Dead - Pink
12. Calling All Cars - Senses Fail
Again, thank you so much for reading this fic. :) As you know, reviews are love, so humor me this one last time on this fic. For now, adios, and I hope to hear from you again in the future.