A/N: Hellooooo strangers! It's about time this story was completed, yes? Yes.
There have been changes going on in the NBI universe which have slooooowed things down a bit. For one...Jamie got married! Yay! Surprisingly, planning one's OWN wedding takes lots of time away from writing that of fictional characters.' Who knew?
Also, sadly, Kinsey has been experiencing a rather extended case of writer's block. It happens, and sometimes, it's impossible to push through. Despite this, Happy Holidays is tres important to both of us, and we have made the decision that until K's inspiration comes back, Jamie will do the writing, and Kins will stay involved by contributing ideas and reviewing/giving her stamp of approval to the final product. Happy Holidays is still very much both of our baby.
But from this chapter on, you can only blame Jamie for any extensive sappiness/errors/slow updating. She can take it. Married women can do anything;)
Booth grinned broadly as the black-suited 7-year-old took a flying leap into his arms. "Be careful, buddy. I bet your mom worked hard to get you looking this sharp."
A harried-looking Rebecca came hurrying up behind his son. "You don't know the half of it," she groused. "Have you ever tried to pin a boutonnière on something that squirms this much?"
He swung his son back to the floor. "Sorry, Beck. I told Angela a straight-jacket would be a better choice, but she insisted on the tux."
Rebecca gave a tired looking smile. "But he does look good, doesn't he?" She brushed a stray curl out of the cherubic face of the child. "So do you," she added with an approving glance at Booth's similar ensemble.
"Thanks," he grinned, straightening his lapels and catching sight of his watch in the process. "Wow, T-minus-10 minutes, huh? I better go round up the crew. Park, you know the routine, right?"
The little boy nodded emphatically. "Walk down the aisle after Bones and before Angela, and don't lose the rings."
"That last part? Very important." Inwardly he cringed at the thought of a child being responsible for the tiniest, symbolically most important parts of the wedding ceremony…then cringed a second time at the remembrance that Parker would be serving a similar function at his own wedding in a few weeks. At least he would be getting some practice. "Stay with your mom for a few minutes, 'kay? I'm going to round up the crew, then Bones will point you in the right direction. I'll see you at the end of the aisle."
He whistled as he made his way through the back of the church. Contrary to all Jack and Angela's worries, everything had been going smoothly today thus far. It was a beautiful day. The church looked just like the happy couple wanted it. Now if they could just make it down the aisle without a pesky lawyer with a long-lost marriage certificate making an appearance…
"Hey, hey. You just about ready to become a married man?" he asked, as he pushed the door open to the place Jack and his fellow groomsmen were waiting.
Hodgins' smile threatened to break his face off. "My man, I've been ready for a long, long time now." He reached into his pocket. "I have something just for you, Booth. As my best man."
Booth examined what Jack had put into his palm…a pin of some sort, elaborately decorated. He was about to thank him for the gift. Then it moved. He yelped and restrained himself from just throwing the thing on the floor. "What the hell IS that?"
"Living jewelry. That's a scarab beetle hooked on there…it can walk around on your lapel just like a dog on a little leash. Seemed appropriate, for an entomologist's wedding. Don't you think?"
Seeley's eyes threatened to bug out of his head. "Hodgins. No. For the love of God. This is a wedding. Not a bug convention."
For a moment, both Jack and Zack looked at him with identical disappointed, deadly serious expressions. Then…they both burst into laughter.
"Oh, you are hilarious," he griped, throwing the grotesque adornment back at the groom-to-be.
"You should have seen your face when you thought you had to wear that thing!" Jack gasped out.
"Yeah, yeah. Pull it together, bug man. You're about to get married, and your first priority is harassing me? Cripes. C'mon. Get into position. I'm gonna get the girls and get you hitched, alright?"
"I love you, man," Hodgins said, wiping a tear of laughter from his cheek. "Thanks."
"I'm not gonna forget this," Booth promised, but he was already pushing the suited men out the door and moving on to his next priority. God. How did he get involved with all these squints? A few years ago, they were the bane of his existence. Now, they made up a large majority of his friends, confidantes…and fiancées. And still. They were the bane of his existence. Shaking his head, he knocked on the door of the bride room, wondering what challenge awaited him there.
Temperance Brennan was sick of being the logical one. She never thought it would come to that point…she was used to other peoples' emotions getting the better of them, while she stayed calm and focused. Unfortunately, her words of wisdom…which had worked so well with Booth, mere nights before…seemed to mean little to the woman cowering before her.
"Ange, come on," she tried, putting a hand on her best friend's shoulder. "This is what you've been wanting. And now it can finally happen! You can be happy!"
All she got in return were sniffles.
"You've worked so hard to get to this day. And you look beautiful. You're ready for this."
Finally, Angela tilted her head up to face her. Sighing, Brennan pulled a tissue out of the nearby box and dabbed at the mascara that had started to run under her friend's eyes.
"I don't know what I want," the artist in the beautiful white dress sniffed. "I mean, I do, but how do I know what I'll want in a month? Or a year? I change my mind a lot, Bren! And this is marriage. What if I turn around one day and am like 'Oh my God. I have to have sex with this same person. For the rest of my life'? How can I be sure that right now, I'm making the right decision?"
Brennan looked at her watch nervously. Five minutes until the ceremony was scheduled to start. They didn't have time for this. "Well, Ange, if that happens…then you try to work it out. And if you can't…then you just get a divorce!" She tried to sound upbeat, but for some reason it just caused another wail from Angela.
"I don't want to get a divorce!" she cried miserably, requiring a fresh stash of tissues. Brennan obediently went to get them.
"You have to get married before you get a divorce," she mumbled under her breath before turning back to Angela. She was about to make another attempt at getting her friend to pull herself together, when there was a knock at the door. Great. She opened it a crack. Booth's face smiled back at her.
"Hey, beautiful. You ladies about ready?"
She glanced back. Cam was currently taking her turn trying to comfort the woman huddling in the corner. Motioning for her fiancé to step out of the room, she joined him, carefully cracking the door behind her. "Angela's having some sort of meltdown," she whispered. "I knew that all the stress of planning was going to get to her. I'm not sure she's going to be ready in five minutes." If at all, reverberated in her head, but she didn't speak it out loud.
Booth looked alarmed. "What's the problem?"
Smoothing back her already meticulously-placed hair, she sighed. "I don't know. Whatever the problem is when you people start to think too hard about weddings and marriage." She didn't mean to say "you people" with quite so much frustration, but it came out anyway.
A knowing look crossed his face. "Last-minute cold feet, huh?"
She crossed her arms. "This has nothing to do with her feet, Booth," she said exasperatedly.
Large, comforting hands landed on her shoulders. "You know what, Babe? You and Cam go wait at the entrance. I've got this one."
As soon as Booth looked through the cracked-open door and saw Angela there, he was struck with a sense of the familiar. And he felt immediately confident about what she needed to hear. Because it was what he had needed to hear.
He totally had this one.
"You've got some bad timing here, Ange," he said, sighing as he eased himself down on a bench beside her. Well, maybe that part wasn't what she needed to hear. She looked up at him resentfully.
"I had been thinking this whole time about everything I needed to do to prepare for the wedding. Then, today, after my hair was done and my dress was on and all the details were in place…there was nothing else to think about. Except being married. Then I realized…I hadn't really thought that part through very much."
"And you're wondering if you had more time to think it through…if that would change anything."
Her eyes darted around the room, panicked. "Maybe…I mean, what's another year, right? We've waited this long. Just one more year…just to be sure."
"You think your feelings for Jack will change in a year?"
She blinked hard. "I don't think so. But how do I know for sure?"
Booth shrugged, leaning back against the wall. "That's the chance we take. Is anybody ever one hundred percent ready to commit to another person? Ever? But…we do it. Because at some point…we just have to trust what's inside of us." It was true…he had taught Bones that very lesson, and she in turn had reminded him of it all those nights ago, when he had felt his own panic setting in. Faith and trust.
Angela was still looking at him suspiciously, but her tears had dried. "So it's a crapshoot?"
He shook his head. "Nope. The crapshoot would be waiting until you could read the future. Marrying the man you love, who loves and respects you and would give anything for you? That's just good sense."
A small smile took residence on her face. "You just don't want to be a part of another failed wedding, right?"
Returning her smile, he sat forward again. "Truth is, you and Hodgins…you're a big part of why Bones and I gave ourselves permission to be together. Even when things got hard between the two of you…you made it seem easy. It was…inspiring. Especially for those of us who haven't always been so open about our feelings." His face turned serious. "But you don't get married for anybody else. If you tell me right now that you don't think marrying Jack will make you happy…I'll sneak you out the back of the church. But if you think the best chance is that it will make you happy…" He held out his arm. "…Let's have a wedding."
There was only a moment of hesitation where she studied him closely, seeming to assess whether or not he was being honest with her, or just trying to hurry her along. And then…that trademark, 100-watt Angela Montenegro grin.
"I love him," she said, definitively. "And I am happy. That much I know for sure." She took the proffered arm. "Let's have a wedding."
Mentally, he heaved a sigh of relief. Partly, for the reason that he truly didn't want to be a part of another failed wedding. But more importantly, it was because, once again, love had won out over fear. As, in Seeley Booth's world, it always should.
Brennan reminded herself to ask Booth later what magic words he used to get Angela beaming radiantly and ready to be married again, but the thought was quickly forgotten at…oh, t minus 12 SECONDS. Angela joined her, Cam, and Parker, and her father at the head of the aisle. Her best friend gave her a kiss on the cheek and a squeeze of the hand.
"Everything alright?" Brennan asked cautiously.
"You betcha. That's quite a man you've got, Sweetie," she answered, before nudging her ahead with a grin as the music began, and Cam and Zack began their trip down the aisle. "You're next," she whispered.
Brennan couldn't help reading a double meaning behind her words. She didn't have time to contemplate this, however. In the time it took her to double-check Parker's hold on the rings, it was her turn to begin the long walk.
The last time she had done this (during the aborted Hodgins wedding), Booth had walked with her, and had chosen that moment to tell her the true reason her father chose to stay behind and be imprisoned, rather than leave her. She had experienced such a surge of mixed emotions that she had barely been able to concentrate on what was happening in the ceremony. Now, her eyes remained fixed firmly on those of her fiance's. Is this what it would be like?, she wondered as she began the slow journey down the aisle. Is this how it would feel, on the day they were married? The motions were the same. She came to the end of the aisle, where she hovered for just a second, until Booth gave her a small wink. She then veered to the other side of the minister. No, this was different…it was Ange and Jack's day. On her wedding day…she wasn't entirely what she would feel. But she knew it would be even more intense than this.
Despite his professed distaste for any suited affair, Parker grinned like a hyena as he walked down the aisle with his tiny pillow. The kid loved attention, and was relishing in the smiles of the congregation.
Then…Angela, led by the man so disguised by his beard, that one could not even began to search for a resemblance. Her best friend made one gorgeous bride…there was not even a trace of the tears that had been there minutes before the ceremony. She looked at her husband-to-be with love in her eyes. Brennan felt a tug at her heart. Her friend was happy.
The minister said a prayer, spoke of God's role in this ceremony, and she felt a little disconnected. It all seemed more meaningful now that she was more invested in the very concept of weddings and marriage…what she wanted to be a part of it, and what she didn't. Listening to this part of the service, there was a part of her that rebelled a little. Then…the vows. The minister had Angela and Jack join hands. Brennan wondered what her free-spirited friend would promise, and listened intently to the words.
"I take you to be my husband, my friend, my love, and my lifelong companion: to share my life with yours. To build our dreams together, while allowing you to grow with your dreams; to support you through times of trouble, and rejoice with you in times of happiness; to treat you with respect, love, and loyalty through all the trials and triumphs of our lives together; and to give you all the love I can give my whole life long. This commitment is made in love, kept in faith, lived in hope, and eternally made new."
She couldn't see Angela's face as she made her vows. But she saw each tear that welled up in Jack's eyes as he said the words, and was a little alarmed at her own emotional reaction. Reaching up and dabbing at her eyes, she shot another quick glance over to Booth to see if noticed.
Could she promise all those things to him, if someone asked her to?
He gave her a gentle smile, and her heart throbbed warmly.
Damn straight she could.
They sat at the wedding party table, watching a laughing Angela and Jack swing around the dance floor to Ingrid Michaelson's The Way I Am. Well, Bones was watching. He was watching Bones, who was sitting with Parker in her lap swaying back and forth. She caught his eye and gave a curious smile.
"What?" she asked.
"You are the world's most gorgeous bridesmaid," he told her.
"Hey," came the indignant retort from Cam, down the table.
"Sorry," he cleared his throat, throwing an apologetic look her way before leaning in to whisper in Bones' ear. "It's true though."
She laughed lightly. "Angela made a good choice in dresses this time," she said, shrugging back up the spaghetti strap of deep blue satin.
"That's not what I mean and you know it," he admonished, and she pacified him with a delicate, but lingering kiss.
"EW. Not right above my head guys! Yuck!" screeched Parker, as he wriggled out of Bones' arms, prompting amused chuckles from everyone remaining at the table.
"Won't he be happy when you are old married people who don't like to kiss anymore?" Cam teased.
"Romantic attraction can be maintained through marriage, as long as both members of a couple are willing to put adequate effort into…"
He shut her up with another, longer kiss, before she started entertaining the table (and his son) which discussions about how senior citizens could keep the spice in their marriage. Luckily, Parker was distracted. The first dance had ended, and Angela's father had taken the stage and began a first, few familiar riffs.
"I love this song!" squealed the little boy. He spun around excitedly. "Bones, will you dance with me?"
Booth laughed. "Smooth, son." Horning in on his fiancée in order to dance to Sharp-Dressed Man.
"I'd love to," she smiled, taking his small hand and allowing Parker to practically drag her to the floor. Booth watched contentedly as they wiggled and bounced together. God, he loved them.
Cam slid over to the seat next to his. "It was a good day, wasn't it?" she mused, also watching the spectacle on the dance floor, under the flashing disco ball.
"I love weddings," he agreed.
She smiled. "I suppose that this one brings us a step even closer to our team being officially a family."
"We always were," he insisted, chuckling a little as Bones picked up Parker and dipped him back in dramatic fashion. "It's just…becoming a little more obvious. Bit by bit."
"For some of us more than others." They were silent for a few moments, before Cam spoke again. "Guess what, Seeley?"
"Hmm?" Still admiring the view.
"That's your family, right over there. You should go join them."
For a second he looked over at her, surprised. Mostly because he had almost forgotten, in his reverie, that the bit of perfection in front of him was, indeed, within his reach. He had spent so long convincing himself of the impossibility of it. Bones and Parker. If he ever needed evidence that miracles existed, it was right there.
"You're right," he announced, laughing in amazement at it. He patted her on the shoulder before striding over like a man on a mission, to his family.
"I didn't want to be left out of the fun," he explained to his surprised dance partners, before he scooped up his son and sandwiched him between him and Bones, all of them laughing as they swayed to the music. Over their shoulders, he saw Angela and Jack holding one another. Angela caught his eye, and winked at him, lifting her ring finger of her left hand as if proving his words of wisdom worked. Faith and trust. "You're next," she mouthed to him.
He grinned, and held his family tighter.
If only he would be so lucky.
A/N: Fun fact...Ange and Jack's vows are the ones that Jamie used for her wedding! Awhs!
Next up: The very last in the Happy Holidays series (*sob*)...the Anniversary Edition!