A/N: Well, this is it. The end of this part of their story. We all knew it had to end sometime. Although I do have ideas for sequels in mind. And I think I will also be participating in some oneshot themes challenges. Please feel free to continue to review, post comments, etc. Any comments will be welcome. I'll be looking back at the thread on a regular basis as well.
If anyone has any questions, or would like to discuss the story beyond what is available in the reviews, I have created a forum area on here for this story within the Forums section. Amazingly, it's titled, "The Long Road Home Discussion Page" Please feel free to use it. I will answer any and all posts. Navigating to it is somewhat clunky, go to Forums / TV / Bones. It should be somewhere in the listing. Or, if you like, please feel free to send a pm.
I can only hope that you have had as much fun reading it as I have had writing it. Thanks to all of you who have supported the story with your comments, constructive criticisms, etc.
Thank you one and all.
She hated the rain. It did nothing to slake the intolerably high humidity of the area. She turned back to her text, trying to figure out how to get him to leave her alone. That was the other bad thing about the rain. It meant there was nothing to do at the dig, and the old horn dog would be sniffing around. She heard a soft beep.
The young woman looked up from her reference text and turned to the computer screen. The flashing logo indicated a request for a video conference from the Jeffersonian Institute. "Probably Doctor Hodgins with results of the soil samples," she thought as she reached for the function key to accept the conference request. The screen flashed momentarily. She turned her eyes away from the screen to place her book out of the way and pick up some writing implements. She turned back, expecting the cute, curly-headed, bearded scientist, but instead she saw an impressively handsome, dark-haired man, dressed in a grey sweater covering a white shirt and tie, and a child of about six or possibly seven sitting on his lap. Both the man and the slightly curly-headed boy were smiling expectantly. She heard Angela Montenegro's voice over the speakers, "Hey Brennan! Look who I've got!" And then the man and boy said in unison, "Hi Bones!" and waved.
Stunned at the surprise of seeing the two, the woman could only stammer, "A...Angela?"
Upon seeing her, the man and boys' faces lost their joyful expressions, replaced by confusion. Angela's face came into view and hovered near the man's. "Susan? Is that you?" After a moment's silence, "I thought Doctor Brennan was on video watch this time of day?"
Susan, looking at Angela, said, "Normally she is," she paused, and then continued, shaking her head, "but she's not here."
After a moment, waiting for the time delay, Angela said, "Oh, that's too bad. We were hoping to surprise her. This is her fiancé Booth, and his son Parker."
Susan smiled, "Yes, I've heard a lot about you Mr. Booth." She recognized the two from Doctor Brennan's wallpaper, and their conversations about life back in the real world. She moved her eyes to Parker, she didn't know why. She knew the camera atop the screen was picking her up. She supposed it just seemed natural to look at the person on the screen. "And I've heard a lot about you too, Parker," She said with a smile.
Parker regained his joy, and Agent Booth returned her smile; "I hope she's been kind in what she's said." He continued, "Temperance has told me good things about you as well." Susan thought she would melt.
She blushed. All of a sudden, she was acutely aware of her tank top with spaghetti straps, hair pinned up carelessly and the feeling of grime and dried perspiration on her skin. Her hand unconsciously moved up to 'fix' some non-existent stray hairs near her neck. "Thank you," she stammered, "…and you too."
Angela asked, "Any ideas when she'll be back?"
A stunned expression cascaded over Susan's face. "She didn't tell anybody! She wanted it to be a surprise," she thought. She resigned herself to accepting responsibility for letting the cat out of the bag. Quickly composing herself, she said, "She left," she paused. "She's on her way back to the States."
Confusion spread on Booth's face, "When did she leave? I just talked to her last night."
Susan smiled. She nodded and said, "Right after she hung up from talking to you, she told Doctor Jacobs that she was leaving. Going back to the States."
"Really?" Booth said, a smile lighting his face. "Just like that?"
Susan was grateful she was sitting down. She could feel the raw magnetism of the man, even across the video feed. She thought, "Why would she ever leave this man for a day? Let alone weeks or months?" She said, "Well," she looked around and then back at the screen. "There was a pretty good screaming match between the two of them. Doctor Jacobs threatened to file a complaint with the Jeffersonian for breach of contract," she saw Booth's demeanor harden. She smiled, "And Doctor Brennan told him to go ahead. She asked him which would hit the courts first, his suit, or her sexual harassment suit." She paused. When she saw Booth and Angela start laughing, she continued, smiling "It wasn't much of an argument after that." She added, "Most of the camp heard it. But in the end, Doctor Brennan said she had gotten all she needed in the way of context of the find and that we should send all future samples and finds to the Jeffersonian."
"When did she leave?" Seeley asked.
"She left this morning at around 9:00," Susan said.
"Do you know when she should get here? Any flight information?" Angela asked.
Susan started searching around in her stack of papers. "I've got her flight info here…somewhere." She kept taking quick glances at the screen as she searched. She could see Parker getting antsy and starting to fidget. "Where is it?" her mind started to scream. Finally, she found it. Reading from the scrap of paper, "She's on American Flight 2196 to Dallas, changing planes in Dallas to Flight 1720 and arriving in Washington at 6:30 tonight." She could see Booth looking around, presumably for a clock. "It's 3:30 here now, so it's 4:30 for you."
Susan saw Booth's eyes move from side to side. She could almost see the plan he was formulating. He leaned close to Parker and whispered in his ear. Parker's response was immediate with an expression of happiness and a yelp of "Yeah!"
Seeley sat back and said, to both Angela and Susan, "We've got to get going. Got a lot of things to do in two hours. He looked directly into the camera; Susan could swear he was looking straight into her eyes, "Thanks, Susan! You've been a big help!" He stood up, carrying Parker on his hip like a sack of potatoes.
Angela sat down in the chair and said to Susan, "Thanks, sweetie!"
Susan said, "Don't mention it." And then she murmured, "So, are there any more like him floating around back there?"
Angela laughed. She shook her head and said, "No…Booth is an original."
A man's voice startled Susan, "Who's an original?" Susan looked up to see Doctor Jacobs standing inside the tent flap. Susan noticed he had a bottle of wine. Smiling, he said, "Sorry if I'm interrupting." He held up the bottle. "I was just wondering if you had any plans for tonight."
Rod Diaz, the helicopter pilot, Jim Packer, the equipment tech and Dennis Samms, the med tech were seated around a table in the mess tent playing cards. All three of them were older than the "Doctors" who thought they were in charge. All of them in their late 30s. The rain beat a steady rhythm on the canvas. Doctor Jennifer Caffey, Doctor Sarah Brandt and Doctor Deborah Lanz were seated around a separate table; sharing a bottle of Tequila and discussing pre-Columbian artifacts. The other Doctors and various grad students were scattered throughout the rest of the camp. The men would occasionally steal glances at the young intellectuals' legs and other parts of their scantily clad bodies. Two of the women would catch the sideways glances and laugh derisively amongst themselves. The third woman's body language said she would rather be anywhere but with the two spoiled children she now seemed to be stuck babysitting.
Suddenly, a woman's voice cut the rhythm of the falling rain, "GET OUT!" Conversation around the tables stopped. "I TOLD YOU TO LEAVE ME ALONE!"
"Who is that?" Jim asked.
"Sounds like Susan," Rod said.
"That's Doctor Graves to you," Jennifer huffed.
Rod rolled his eyes as Jim and Dennis smirked. Dennis subtly made a profane movement with his free hand, holding his cards in his other. "Yeah…" Rod said sarcastically. "I'll have to remember that."
"THIS IS IT! I'M TELLING YOU FOR THE LAST TIME…DON'T TALK TO ME…DON'T EVEN LOOK AT ME UNLESS IT HAS SOMETHING TO DO WITH THE DIG!" After a pause, "GO FIND SOMEONE ELSE!" And then, "I'M SURE JENNIFER OR SARAH WOULDN'T MIND HAVING THEIR LEGS IN THE AIR! I'M DONE! IT'S TIME I GET SOME SEMBLANCE OF MY SELF-RESPECT BACK! GET OUT!"
Quick laughter came from the men. Slight embarrassment from the two women. "Good for Susan," Dennis said simply.
"It's about time," Rod agreed. "She's too nice a kid to be treated the way he treats his women."
"I guess it's two down," Jim glanced at the other table, "Maybe 5 or 6 to go. There'll always be somebody who falls for his line of bull." The other two men nodded in agreement.
Sarah and Jane stood up angrily. As they moved towards the tent flap Jane huffed, "You guys wish you could be as smart as Doctor Jacobs." When they realized the other woman wasn't following them, they turned around to see Deborah moving towards the card players' table with the bottle and shot glasses. As she sat down, Sarah and Jane stormed out of the tent.
The three men looked at Deborah as she poured out some shots and said, "All those degrees and not a single brain in their heads." To the men she said, "Can I get in on this game?"
Rod said, "Sure, next hand."
Jim raised his shot glass, "That makes 3 down."
Deborah smiled. "To be accurate, Doctor Brennan never did fall prey to his 'charms'."
Jim nodded, "I liked her. I think she had a positive influence on the rest of the people here."
"What was it she said? When Jacobs gave some smart-ass opinion about something she had said?" Rod said amused. When he remembered the phrasing, "I don't give an obese rodent's posterior what you think," and then he laughed. Joined in by the rest of the table.
"She should have been more careful, though,' Deborah said. "Jacobs has a lot of pull in the scientific community. She could be marked for the rest of her professional life."
Dennis picked up a card from the pile and started rearranging his cards. "I wouldn't worry about it, Debs. That six-inch laceration on his right shoulder should keep him quiet for awhile." He moved a few of his cards around in his hand, and finally set his cards down face up, "Gin" he said. The other men groaned and, along with Deborah, drank their shots.
Temperance found herself becoming more and more anxious as the plane taxied towards the gate. She had tried sleeping on the two flights, but thoughts of Seeley and herself kept her awake. She realized the closer she got to Washington the more she smiled. "I don't need to sleep. Tonight," she thought, "I'll be sleeping in his arms. That will make up for everything."
Normally, she would sit back and quietly wait patiently for the plane to arrive at the gate. But now, she found herself glancing out the window; willing the plane to taxi quicker. Why, she couldn't tell. She hadn't told anyone she was coming. Her mind quickly sped through her upcoming race to baggage claim, getting a taxicab and finally arriving at their house. So engrossed in her thoughts, she missed most of the flight attendant's arrival spiel. When she finally tuned in, she heard, "…the current local time is now 6:35 and the temperature is 28 degrees…"
"28 degrees?" she thought in horror. "I just left this morning and it was 70 degrees." And then, "I didn't bring a coat!" She looked out the window and smiled, "That's okay…I know how I can warm up."
The plane rolled to a stop. She could see the Jetway sliding into place at the front of the aircraft. Turning back to the interior, she could hear the metal clicks of the seat belts as passengers disengaged themselves from their seats and began unloading the overhead compartments. She stood up and pulled her knapsack, her only carry-on, from the overhead bin, and moved towards the exit. She remembered a couple of weeks back, on the boat, when they were talking about how depressing it was to arrive at an airport alone. With no one to meet you. Now that she thought about it, she had to agree. But the thought of seeing Seeley and Parker again soon pushed the depressing thoughts from her mind.
She passed the flight attendants and, it was either the pilot or co-pilot, wishing everyone well at the exit. "Yes…thank you for the nice flight…have a good night," she said absently. She felt the cold seeping through the Jetway as she moved towards the terminal.
She moved out into the gate waiting area, and was astonished to see Parker standing about 50 feet away; smiling with bouquet of daffodils and daisies. Behind him, with his hands on Parker's shoulders, stood Seeley, a broad smile filling his face. In unison, they yelled, "Welcome Home, Bones!" If she was disappointed that her surprise had been ruined, it vanished in an instant. Temperance's joy at the sight of them skyrocketed.
Parker broke away from his father's grasp and ran towards her. Her long legs closed the gap even quicker. She dropped her knapsack, bent down, caught him beneath his arms and picked him up. Seeley's breath caught in his throat at the sight. As she raised him, she said, "Arrggh…Parker! What has your Dad been feeding you? Rocks?"
Parker giggled as Temperance hugged him tightly. Blinking back tears, Seeley swallowed hard. Trying to force his heart back down into his chest. He moved to this beautiful woman who held his son so tightly. Holding what appeared to be clothes in his left arm, he wrapped his free arm, and what he could of his other arm around Parker and Temperance. He pulled them to him. Temperance turned to him and kissed his lips. The three of them rocked together for a moment before they broke their kiss and standing in each other's arms, looked with joy at each other. "I missed you," Temperance said, tears welling in her eyes.
"I missed you," Seeley said hoarsely.
"Are you glad to see us?" Parker asked.
Temperance turned to him; "Yes" she said and kissed his cheek. "Yes," as she kissed his face. "Yes," as she kissed his forehead. "A thousand times, Yes!" as she kissed him again. Parker giggled all throughout this scene as Seeley, looking at the interactions realized he was wrong about his feelings for her. He found he loved her even more than he had thought.
Temperance found her vision of a mad dash through the airport had dissipated as smoke in a strong breeze. Time was no longer her enemy. She was quite content to stroll through the Washington airport, one arm encircling Seeley's, holding the flowers, with Parker, who insisted on carrying her knapsack on his back, holding her other hand. Instead of dodging the people hustling by, the three of them could have been on a Sunday walk through the park. She pulled Seeley's arm, bringing him down to her; then stretched up and kissed his cheek. Releasing the pressure, she allowed Seeley to stand up straight. "What was that for?" he asked.
Her smile grew. "Nothing,' she said. She continued, "Imagine what you would get if you did something." She angled the bouquet towards her and drank in the aroma of the flowers.
"If this is how you're going to be when coming home," Seeley started, "maybe you should go away more often." Temperance stopped and looked at him. Seeley looked at her a moment, then shook his head and smirked, "Naah!" She pulled his arm, and joined in his head shake as they continued on.
Temperance nodded towards the bundle of clothing in Seeley's left arm. "What's all that?"
He raised the clothing out in front of him, "Well, my overcoat, your overcoat, hat, scarf…"
He never ceased to amaze her with his thoughtfulness. "What made you think I would need them?"
"When I found out you had left, I did a weather search and found out it was 70 degrees when you left Guatemala this morning. It's about 28 out there now. Not to mention it's starting to snow again." He looked at her seriously, "Can't have you getting sick." He added, "Not when we have a lot of 'christening' to do."
Temperance's eyes and mouth opened in surprise. She closed her mouth in a smile and gently tugged on his arm. But the passion never left her eyes.
"Dad," Parker said, "I've already been christened a long time ago. I don't have to do it again, do I?"
"Erp…" Seeley choked as Temperance looked at him and laughed. "No, little man," Seeley said, giving Temperance a look that said, 'Just drop it.' He continued, "We can postpone it if you want to."
Relieved, Parker said, "Good." He started swinging Temperance's arm. She buried her face into Seeley's shoulder to stifle her giggles.
Seeley looked down at her. "I've never seen you like this…all…giggly."
She looked up at him, "I'm happy." She found when she said it, unlike all those other times in the past, she truly meant it. It was a refreshing feeling.
They had arrived at the baggage claim area. People were milling about, waiting for the transport to begin its display of the smorgasbord of checked bags. A cold breeze traveled through the area every time the exterior sliding glass doors opened and closed.
"Bones," Parker began, "can I get your bag?"
Temperance looked at Seeley, who nodded his approval. "Sure," she said to Parker. Kneeling down, she handed him her claim ticket. She said, "My bag is all black, except for some purple around the edges." Parker held the claim ticket. "If you see a bag like that, check the number on the tag with this number. If they match, it's my bag."
"Oohh," he said. "It's like a game."
Temperance laughed, remembering all the times her bags had been lost. She nodded at Parker, "Kind of." He smiled and ran off towards the waiting baggage carousel.
She stood up, watching Parker looking up and down the transport belt; willing the search for the bag to begin. "Here," Seeley said, holding open her overcoat. Temperance noted he had already donned his. Probably when she was talking to Parker. She smiled as he helped her on with it. Her indulgent smile became more joyful as he set her matching hat upon her head, taking care to pull the brim down to just the way he liked it; framing her face. Like a magician, he extended the purple cashmere scarf and laid it around her neck; the two ends falling within the folds of her unbuttoned overcoat. He started to tuck the ends underneath her coat when he caught the almost beatific look she wore. "What?" he said.
"You take such good care of me," she said. She almost had a teasing tone to her voice, but not quite. Her love-filled eyes pinned Seeley's gaze. "How long do you think you'll want to do that?"
Seeley began buttoning her overcoat. He smiled, "For as long as you let me."
Temperance slipped her hands inside the pockets of Seeley's overcoat. She pulled him slightly closer to him. Seeley was dimly aware of people, older, younger, couples, singles who wanted to be a couple, men and women watching them. He couldn't remember a time when Temperance looked more radiant, more beautiful. She said softly, "Marry me."
Seeley's smile turned to one of amusement. Still continuing to button her overcoat, he said, "In case you haven't been keeping up on current events, we've already decided that issue."
She edged her face closer to him, "Marry me…today. Tonight!" she breathed
Seeley was stunned. "Huh?" he said. "Tonight?"
Temperance chided him playfully, "What's the matter? Losing your nerve? Cold feet?"
"Of course not!" Seeley said, confused. "But there's the matter of a marriage license, and blood tests, and it's almost seven and all of the government offices are going to be closed…"
"Then let's fly to Las Vegas, or Reno," Seeley's head was genuinely starting to spin now. "I've heard that it's virtually nothing for someone to get married there."
"What about the big wedding? With bridesmaids and groomsmen, the big wedding cake, and Max walking you down the aisle…"
"We can have that later. I don't want to wait another minute…another second until I can tell everyone that I'm Mrs. Temperance Booth." Her eyebrows raised and her eyes grew wide at the sound of her new name. She bounced up and down with joy.
"Okay," Booth said. "I think I know where this is coming from. It's the endorphins created by seeing us again and being in close proximity overloading your brain." He saw the beginnings of frustration begin to seep into Temperance's expression. "How about if we wait until the weekend's over? And if you still feel the rush, we'll do it." He smiled.
"You don't seem very enthused…" she began.
Seeley interrupted her, "Temperance…I Love you. More than any man can ever Love anyone else in this world. I just want to make sure we're going this quickly for the right reasons." He looked at her. She saw the Love in eyes, and grudgingly acquiesced. "Besides," he continued, "This is the only wedding I'm going to have. I want the big wedding." He paused. "And Angela and Max will kill us if they aren't part of it." Temperance smiled and slowly nodded her head in agreement. Seeley continued, smiling at his own logic, "Plus, there's nothing saying you can't tell everyone that we're getting married. That's almost as good for now, isn't it?"
Temperance looked at him, the smile and radiance flowing back into her face. When growing excitement began filling her expression, Seeley wondered cautiously what was up. She turned and yelled to the crowd, "Ladies and Gentlemen! I'm Doctor Temperance Brennan! I'm a forensic anthropologist and an author of best-selling crime novels! For those who have never read my books, the heroine of my novels is Kathy Reichs, based on my life and experiences. Her partner in the novels is FBI Special Agent Andy Lister. He is based on this man, FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth. We're in Love, and we're going to be married!" She threw her left hand in the air, showing off her engagement ring.
Seeley was taken aback at the applause and cheers elicited from the crowd of total strangers. Temperance turned to him and threw her arms around his neck. He smiled and gave in to the moment. He leaned down and kissed her, to rising cheers and applause. "You're insane…you know that?"
She had to raise her voice to be heard over the cheers, "I'm just following Rebecca's orders." Seeley gave her a confused look. "Be Loud, Be Proud!"
Seeley laughed and looked over to the baggage carousel to see Parker steering Temperance's bag towards them on its wheels.
Seeley's gloved hands slowly moved the steering wheel aiming the SUV towards the passenger loading zone. The windshield wipers drew across the glass momentarily clearing his view of the road. He reached over and decreased the interval for the wipers. He found with the snow falling, he needed the wipers to clear the windshield more frequently. He shook his head and smiled. He had no idea Temperance could be as rambunctious and socially bold as to announce their engagement to a room full of strangers. That she was that she would be proud to tie herself to him was especially pleasing.
They had agreed that she and Parker would remain at Baggage Claim while Seeley went to drive the car around to pick them up. "No sense all three of us walking in the cold and snow," he thought. He removed his glove and placed his hand on the heating vent. Good…the engine had heated up nicely and warm air was filling the cabin. He angled the truck towards the curb and stopped by the automatic door. Seeley reached down and hit the button releasing the back latch. He got out of the car just in time to see Temperance and Parker come through the door. Parker, still wearing her knapsack and Temperance dragging her bag on its wheels. Parker still carried the bouquet of daisies and daffodils, as Temperance held onto his other hand. Seeley ran around the front of the SUV and opened both passenger doors. "Go ahead and get settled," he told Temperance and Parker. "I'll put the bags in the back." To Parker, "I'll be back in a minute to buckle you in." Seeley maneuvered the bag and knapsack to the back of the SUV and opened the back door.
Parker gave the bouquet to Temperance and began to climb into the booster seat in the back. Temperance laid the flowers in the front seat. As Parker situated himself in the seat, Temperance began the process of buckling him in. When she was unsure which buckle went where, Parker would point and show her how they should be adjusted. She smiled as the two of them got the job done.
"Are you glad to be home?" Parker asked.
Temperance's smile grew wider as she said, "You know it, little man." Parker laughed at her use of his father's pet name for him. She locked the door and closed it. Looking through the glass, Parker waved at her. She waved back, and then climbed into the shotgun seat. Carefully moving the bouquet, of course.
Seeley had seen parts of the interplay between the two and marveled at how well they seemed to interact as a family. He closed the back door and moved up alongside the passenger side. As he reached Parker's door, he looked in and saw he was already buckled in. Parker smiled and waved to him. Waving back, Seeley returned the smile and moved up to Temperance's door. She turned to him. Through the glass, he mouthed the words, "Thank you." She smiled and made "come on" motions. Seeley scooted in front of the SUV and finally opened his door and got in. He leaned over to Temperance, who leaned forward and kissed him. When he sat back up, he said, "Thanks, for taking care of Parker." He removed his gloves and put the car in gear.
"My pleasure," Temperance said. "I'll need the practice for when we have children."
Seeley turned to her, shocked. She only smiled at him sweetly.
"Cool," Parker said from the back seat. "I'm gonna have a brother or sister?"
Seeley looked at Temperance questioningly. Maybe he had read her motives on the speedy marriage incorrectly. Temperance batted her eyes slowly at him and shook her head slightly. Seeley noticeably relaxed.
Looking back towards Parker he said, "Not for awhile yet, buddy. Temperance and I need to get married first, remember?"
"Oh…yeah," Parker said and turned his attention back to the snow falling outside his window.
After driving in silence for a few moments, Temperance reached over and placed her hand on Seeley's forearm. "It wouldn't be so terrible, would it?" she asked.
"What?" Seeley asked.
"Having a child sooner, rather than later?"
He reached up and took her hand. Bringing it to his lips, he kissed it softly, "No, it wouldn't be bad at all."
Another few moments passed with only the sound of the windshield wipers keeping time. Temperance asked, "How's the unpacking going?"
"Almost all done," Seeley smiled. He added, "Of course, you'll have to give your final approval of where everything will go…"
Temperance moved her hand to his face, "I'm sure it's just fine. Has Parker seen his room yet?"
Seeley was about to answer when Parker spoke up from the back, "It's great! And I really like the puzzle table."
"Puzzle table?" Temperance asked.
Seeley smiled, "The work table you wanted set up just off the living room. You said it would be for your puzzles and other entertainment purposes."
"That's right. But," turning to Parker, "how do you know it's going to be used for puzzles?"
"Dad and me have been working on one."
"Really?" Temperance said, looking at Seeley.
He nodded, "We've been working on a puzzle for about a week now. It's 'The Vitruvian Man' by…"
"DaVinci," Temperance finished. "I know." She looked back at Parker to see him with his legs and arms spread eagle. She added, surprised, "Who picked that one out?"
"Parker did," Seeley said. "I suggested, 'The Anatomy Lesson' because I remember you had mentioned it before. But when Parker saw the box, he chose that one." Temperance sat back, amazed. Seeley added, shrugging his shoulders, "Maybe he'll grow up to be a scientist." He smiled at Temperance.
She smiled back, "And maybe he'll grow up to protect the President."
"Or maybe even be the President," Seeley said.
"There you go," Temperance agreed.
Seeley opened the door and turned on the lights. Holding the door open, he waited for Temperance and Parker to enter the condo. He softly reminded Parker, "Shoes off." Temperance turned to him with a questioning look. "So that our shoes don't scuff the hardwood floors." Temperance gave him a comprehending look and started removing her own shoes. Once Temperance and Parker had moved into the condo, Seeley carefully muscled the bags inside and began removing his own shoes.
As Temperance looked around, some would say with an expression of awe, she began unbuttoning her overcoat. There were still some individual boxes scattered here and there, but for the most part, everything had been unpacked. "Very nice," she breathed. She turned to Seeley, who had taken hold of her overcoat and was helping her off with it. "You and Parker have outdone yourselves." At Seeley's obviously false look of hurt, she said, "I half-expected to see it set up like some sort of cave."
Seeley protested as he hung her overcoat in the closet, "I'm hurt. You don't think I have a sense of style?"
Temperance handed her hat to Seeley and then slid her arms around his neck. Moving into his body, she murmured, "Papa Bear's done the cave real nice," and then kissed him.
Parker had already dropped his coat on the floor and began moving quickly towards the puzzle table. After Seeley and Temperance broke their kiss, and Seeley saw Parker's coat on the floor, he said, "Uh-uh, buddy. That's not where your coat belongs." Parker stopped in his tracks and moved lethargically back to where his coat lay. He picked it up and walked it over to where Seeley and Temperance stood at the closet.
"Sorry Dad,' Parker said as he handed his coat to his father. Seeley and Temperance exchanged amused looks.
Seeley said, "That's okay. Don't forget again."
"Can I go to the 'Puzzle Room' now?"
Seeley smiled, "Hit it." Parker turned and ran towards the 'Puzzle Room' at breakneck speed. Temperance was going to ask if maybe he shouldn't slow down when Parker stopped running and slid on his stocking feet; stopping just short of the table.
Horrified, Temperance turned to Seeley, "That's not going to work…" she started, only to see Seeley chuckling at his son's antics. She looked at him exasperatedly.
Seeley coughed and said, "I'll talk to him about it."
Shaking her head, Temperance moved off to inspect the rest of the first floor while Seeley moved up the stairs to the second floor.
She first moved into Parker's room, then on to her study, Seeley's workout room and finally the kitchen. On the counter, she saw a shoebox labeled "Temperance's Stuff." She opened the box. Inside, she saw Jasper, her pig figurine and Brainy Smurf. Both presents from Seeley. She moved a couple of the items around until she saw a folded piece of paper. She recognized it immediately. She held her breath. That is, until she felt Seeley's arms encircle her waist and his chest press against her back. "Where did you find this?" she said in a small voice.
"Angela found it between a couple of books." He kissed her temple.
"Do you know what it is?"
"Hodgins told us," Seeley said. "Although not at first, and not willingly."
"Did you read it?"
"No," Seeley shook his head, "Zack and Angela wanted to, but I convinced them not to."
She turned her head so she could look into his eyes, "How did you do that?"
He pursed his lips slightly, "I have my ways."
She turned and looked at the paper again, "Do you want to?"
She could feel him shake his head again, "Not unless it's something you want me to know."
She raised her hand and arced it over their heads, allowing it to rest on the back of Seeley's neck and the base of his head. "I Love you," she said, fighting back tears.
"I know," Seeley said and kissed the back of her head. She closed her eyes and allowed herself to be enveloped in his embrace.
After a few moments, Seeley said, "You haven't mentioned the picture over the fireplace."
She smiled, "In all honesty, I hadn't made it there yet." They began to slowly shuffle together towards the fireplace. Somehow, Seeley had started a fire, probably when she was in one of the other rooms. As she got closer, she could see in the dim light it wasn't any of her artwork. When she finally saw it clearly, she gasped in surprise.
An image of her was positioned on one side of the photograph. She was sitting on the swimming deck of the Calliope, her legs disappearing into the water, leaning down, looking towards something. Her gaze traveled to the other side, where a dolphin had poked its head out of the water. In the photo, it looked like the two were looking into each other's eyes. "Oh…it's wonderful!" she said. Turning in Seeley's arms, she kissed him deeply. Afterwards, she turned her body halfway, still nestled in Seeley's arms, her arm around his neck. "When did you…" she started. And then, "Well, when we were on the boat of course. I never knew you took this photograph!" She reached out and touched the glass covering the image of the dolphin.
"I was hoping it would come out, without being all blurry and stuff," Seeley said. "And it pretty much did. I had Angela work on it with her magic so that I could get it enlarged without losing too much quality."
"It's beautiful!" Temperance breathed happily. She turned back to Seeley and mashed her lips to his. Mindful of Parker's presence, before they became too excited, Seeley broke the kiss. They turned back to the photograph, lost in their own memories of that weekend.
After a moment, Temperance said, "You know what? I think I'm going to take a bath." Seeley nodded his head towards her in a 'You are?' gesture. "It's been awhile since I've taken a nice, luxurious, hot bath."
"Good for you," Seeley said.
"Have you tested the hot water capacity and water pressure yet?"
"Oh yes," Seeley said. "Plenty of each, and the bathroom and bathtub will hold the heat very well." Temperance gave him an incredulous look. He nodded, "Go ahead and check it out. While you were looking at the other rooms, I took the liberty of drawing you a bath." She gave him a shocked look. "It's waiting for you."
She kissed him, "You know, you're spoiling me."
"Hey" he said. "It's tough, but I knew the job was dangerous when I took it." He moved towards the kitchen, "However, before you go up there and get lost in that other world," he opened the refrigerator and pulled out a plastic gallon container. Getting a glass from the cabinet, he poured the liquid into the glass and handed it to Temperance, "Lemonade…you need to hydrate from the long flights you took today."
She took the glass with a smile. Taking a sip, the cold, tart sensations exploded into her mouth. She said, "Just how I like it, thank you." Temperance started to move towards the upstairs when she noticed the box on the counter. Reaching in, she pulled out the folded paper. She pressed the paper into the palm of his hand, and then pulled his hand up to her lips. She kissed the back of his hand, her eyes never wavering from his.
Seeley watched as she climbed the stairs and opened the door to the bathroom. He saw the golden glow of the light from the doorway; she stopped and involuntarily cooed at what she saw. She turned and smiled at him and then entered the bathroom.
Temperance entered the bathroom to the light of about a dozen candles. Their golden yellow flames seemed to enhance the colors of the hardwood floors and porcelain. She could smell the daffodil scented bath oil he had used in drawing the bath. She moved over to the tub and dipped her hand into the water. Seeley was right, the bathroom and tub held the heat very well. The water was still hot. She set the lemonade on the table next to the tub and removed her clothing. She eased herself down into the bath, feeling the hot water and bath oil ease her tired muscles. Temperance lay back, thinking of Seeley and smiling. She looked at the back of the door. There, on a hanger, was one of his dress shirts, a pair of his blue shorts, and a pair of his white athletic socks. She smiled at the last item she noted. Her white sports bra. Evidently, he didn't want her to give Parker an advanced education in human sexuality. At least not at the age of seven.
Seeley watched her enter the bathroom with satisfaction. And a certain amount of trepidation. He hoped he had met her expectations. He felt the fabric of the paper in his hand. He pulled an ottoman up close to the fire and sat down. Before unfolding the paper, he mentally traveled back to the time when she and Hodgins had been kidnapped by the Gravedigger. "What was going on in our lives at the time?" he thought. "Where were we in our relationship?" He tried to get himself in the proper mindset as he unfolded the paper:
"Angela – Thank you for being my friend. Even though at times, I know, it couldn't possibly have been easy. Thank you for pushing me to see a wider life. P.S. I hope Hodgins survives – he honestly loves you."
Seeley swam back into his memories of Hodgins and Angela going on the date, but then Angela pushing him away. Fearful of how bad it would be if it went wrong. "Sound like anybody you know, buddy?" he thought.
"Zack – You have been my most promising student. Continue working, and complete your doctorates. I see great promise in you as a forensics anthropologist.
Seeley thought, "Always teaching Zack. In some ways, I think she thinks of herself as a mother to him. She's taken such joy in seeing him mature into the young man he is today."
"Russ – I'm sorry we wasted so many years apart. I wish for you all of the best. If you can ever find Dad, tell him I've missed him. I hope things work out for you and Amy."
Seeley smiled, "What a change from back then! We hadn't even seen Max yet. The whole thing about Director Kirby, Max's trial, Amy and the girls. Wow! Who could have known how all that would play out?" Seeley saw the heading of the last paragraph. He took a deep breath.
"Booth – My rock. Please don't look at what happened as your failure. I'm sure you did as much as you could to find us. My only regret is not letting you into my life sooner. Always remember the fun we had as "Roxie and Tony"
Seeley smiled. "Typical," he thought. "Back then she could only relate us as a couple when we worked that undercover." He paused, "But then, I was still with Cam at the time. Even though I was feeling that irresistible tug towards Temperance. Even I still didn't think of ourselves as a couple then."
He re-read the paragraph. His attention seemed to stick on, "My only regret…" His smile returned. "Even back then, she had been thinking I was a good influence on her."
He refolded the paper, and set it back in the box. His mood lighter, he walked over to help his son with the puzzle.
Temperance heard the knock at the door. Shaking her head, as if to shake herself out of her reverie, she said, "Yes?"
"It's me," came Seeley's voice through the door. "Can I come in?"
"Of course," she replied. Seeley entered and then shut the door behind him. When he turned back to her, she teasingly raised her left leg straight out of the water, letting the water cascade down in rivulets. "Would you like to join me?" she smiled.
It was an invitation that was entirely doable, Seeley noted, as the tub could more than accommodate the two of them. "As much as I'd truly like to, perhaps some other time." He opened his mouth to speak more when Temperance interrupted him.
Tilting her head from side to side, she singsonged, "You don't know what you're missing."
Seeley nodded, "Oh yes I do. And believe me, we will be in that tub together sometime within the next few days." Temperance laughed seductively. "And that's not going to work, either." He handed her a fresh lemonade. "We've got company."
"Who?" Temperance said. "Who knows I'm back?"
"Well," Seeley said. "Angela and Hodgins, are two." Temperance realized Seeley hadn't told her how he knew she was coming home. He continued, "Angela was with us when we found out you were on your way back."
"Parker and me. We were going to surprise you with a video conference. That's when we found out you weren't there."
"Okay…" she said. "Anybody else?"
"That's all from the Jeffersonian." Temperance stared at him. "Everybody else had prior engagements."
"So who else is here?"
Seeley coughed, "Well, I mentioned it to Max that you were coming home, and then he mentioned it to Russ…"
"Who!" Temperance snapped.
Another cough, "Everybody…Max, Russ, Amy, the girls." Temperance brought her hands up to her eyes. "It won't be so bad," Seeley tried to make it better. "They love you…they want to see you. You're family."
Temperance sighed. "I just didn't want to get fully dressed again today. I wanted to lounge around, order pizza, curl up on the couch with you…"
Seeley pointed to what he had laid out for her, "That stuff's perfectly fine for these people." Temperance looked at him dubiously. "Believe me, they don't care what you're wearing. They just want to see their friend and family member."
Still unconvinced, she finally agreed. "All right Seeley," she sighed. I'll be out in a couple of minutes."
"Great!" Seeley said and turned to go. "I'll tell everybody you'll be down in a little bit."
Seeley got as far as the door when Temperance said, "Seeley!" in an astonished, hurt tone.
He whirled at the sound of her voice, "What?" he said, truly concerned.
"Aren't you forgetting something?" Temperance said in her schoolmarm voice. Seeley searched his memory, and came up blank. Seeing his vacant look, Temperance said testily, "Don't I even get a kiss?"
She saw the light go on in Seeley's mind as he rushed over to her, almost in a panic. As he bent down to kiss her, she threw her arms around his neck and pulled him even closer to her. Pressing herself into his chest, water cascaded from her noisily as she kissed him deeply. When they broke the kiss, Seeley staggered back, his shirt plastered to his chest. He seemed short of breath.
"Aren't you going to keep our company entertained?" Temperance said sweetly as she stood up, fully exposing herself to him.
Seeley closed his eyes, and shakily said, "Uhhh…yeah." Temperance looked at him with some amusement. He continued, as he turned away from the vision, "I…just need to wait a moment or two."
One look at Seeley's pants told Temperance what his problem was. "Yeah!" she thought. "I've still got it!" She said, "Don't forget to change your shirt," she said helpfully. "Yours is all wet!" Seeley brought his hand up to his chest as he staggered to the door.
Temperance padded out to the top of the stairs. Taking a drink of lemonade, she looked down at all the people on the first floor. She saw Seeley, Parker and Emma sitting around the puzzle table, searching through the pieces. She saw that Emma said something and then started to laugh. Both Parker and Seeley laughed with her. Not a mocking laugh, but one of genuine mirth.
She heard music playing on Seeley's sound system. She moved down a couple of steps and sat down on the top floor. Looking over by the fireplace, she saw the rest of them. Max, Amy, Russ, Hayley, Angela and Hodgins. They had split themselves up into teams and were playing Charades.
It looked like it was Max, Hodgins and Russ against Amy, Hayley and Angela. "Boys against the girls," Temperance thought. Max made the hand motion that the answer was a film title. He then made a motion that he was tying something and then he threw it up in the air. He then made as if he was putting something around his neck. He then motioned pulling something in a downward motion, cocked his head to the side and stuck his tongue out the side of his mouth.
Hodgins called out, "Dead! Dying! Night of the Living Dead!" Taken aback, Max shook his head. He raised his hands above his head like he was holding onto something above his head, his mouth open.
Russ shouted, "Fall! Falling! Fall of the House of Usher!" Max looked from Russ to Hodgins; he shook his head exasperatedly. Then he put both of his hands above his head and keeping his arms straight, he bent his knees and then raised first one and then the other leg.
Hodgins said, "Hanging!" Max's eyes lit up as he nodded his head vigorously, holding his thumb and index finger about an inch apart.
"Hang!" Russ yelled. Max touched his nose with his finger signifying they got it correct. Temperance smiled as he stumbled on. He held his index and middle fingers in the "V" configuration signifying the second word. He took a deep breath. With his fingers, he made the shape of an L, then a T, then and O, followed by a U.
Amy said, "That's cheating, trying to spell out the word!" Max pantomimed silently pleading to the heavens. He then made a C.
Hodgins said, "Sea? Hang Sea? Is it a foreign film?" Temperance saw her dad's eyes flash at Hodgins. Hodgins looked around, "Okay, it's not a foreign film." Max put up one finger on his left hand and three fingers on his right.
Both Hodgins and Russ looked confused. "There's 13 letters in the word?" Russ said. This time Max's eyes flashed at Russ. "Okay, that's not it," Russ said. Max thought for a moment and then flashed his hands back and forth in front of him signifying to forget about the previous clues. He pointed over to the puzzle table.
Hodgins said, "Puzzles?" Max shook his head. Russ said, "Booth?" Again, Max shook his head, more vigorously now. "Parker?" Hodgins said.
Temperance yelled down, "Emma, you fools!"
Surprised at hearing his daughter's voice, Max looked to the top of the stairs. His expression grew softer, happier. She could see the rest of the people's expressions also grew happier as they waved to her and yelled their "Hellos." Max vigorously nodded his head and again held his thumb and index finger about an inch apart. Russ shouted out, "Em!" Max nodded with a finger on his nose.
"Hey!" Angela said, "No fair cheating!"
Amy went "Boooo."
And Hayley said, "They had help!"
Max held up three fingers. Russ yelled, "Third word!" Max held his hand horizontal above his head.
Hodgins said, "Up! Above!" Max shook his head. He moved his hand to down by his ankles.
Russ said, "Down!" Max shook his head. Then Russ said, "Low!" Max, wide eyed nodded shortly and then raised his hand above his head. Russ said, "High!" Max nodded his head vigorously and touched his nose with his finger.
Hodgins yelled, "Hang 'Em High!"
"Yes!" Max shouted. He raised both his hands and did a celebratory dance. Russ and Hodgins did a high five as chants of "Cheat…cheat" came from the girls team.
Max smiled up at Temperance, "You're looking good, pumpkin." Temperance beamed down at him. "You coming down to give your old man a hug?"
"In a minute or two," she said, taking another sip of lemonade. "I just want to watch for a little bit more." Max looked from her to Seeley and back again. He made an "A-OK" sign with his hand and smiled broadly. Aping her father, she nodded vigorously with a smile.
The girls team began setting up who would give the clues as Max sat down, laughing, next to Russ and Hodgins. Temperance saw Seeley moving towards the staircase. She heard the strains of Michael Buble's "Home" on the stereo and found herself flashing on memories:
Her and Seeley in the shower after the group excursion on Calliope: Seeley asking her, "Feel good to be home?"
Herself arriving in Seeley's hospital room: "Honey, I'm home."
Parker and Seeley at the airport: "Welcome home, Bones!"
Parker in the car: "Are you glad to be home?"
Jon, on the boat: "Home is where you feel the most loved."
Looking from the charades players to the puzzle solvers, to Seeley climbing the stairs up to her, she was surprised at her rise in emotions as the realization hit her. Seeley sat next to her. "How ya doing?" he smiled.
She edged closer to him as she took one of his hands and held it to her chest. "I'm doing great!"
Seeley angled his head so he could see her eyes. They were filled with tears, but her face wore the expression of a traveler whose journey has finally ended. Contentment. "Yeah?" Seeley questioned.
She nodded her head. She smiled as a single tear fell from her joyful eyes "I'm home."