DISCLAIMER: Don't own anything associated with the show… I just like playing with the characters in it from time to time. Dance Monkeys! Dance!
RATING: T for Teen
SPOILERS: Through US Aired Episodes
WORD COUNT: 2761
PROMPT: 1Hour2Write August Picture Challenge Picture #18
SUMMARY: Bones is faced with sorting out some things in her life, and she goes to the one place that has always felt like home. Angsty, to say the least.
A/N: Just a nice angsty fic for the 1Hour2Write Picture Challenge (links in my profile). But as always, if it wasn't for some incredibly talented ladies, this thing would never see the light of day. I am really lucky to have such wonderful betas, and blessed to also be able to call them friends.
REVIEWS: Reviews are the way I know if people are enjoying the work or not. So, if you leave one, THANKS! And if not, I hope you found at least a little something to brighten your day, and thanks for taking the time to read.
There were few constants in her life. Her work and her writing were the closest things she had to routine, but they both left little room for real normalcy. However, her grandfather's cabin was her touchstone, the place she could go where everything was the same, where everything made sense. With so much of her life in disarray, her work began to suffer and her writing had become non-existent. It was time to get her head on straight again, and that meant going to visit Grandpa's cabin up in the woods.
On the way out of town, she called two people. First was the caretaker, Mrs. Timmons, to have her open the place up and air it out. The second call she made was to Cam, informing her that she was taking a sabbatical, and to asking her to supervise the team until she had a better idea of how long she would be gone. Even Temperance had no real notion of how long it would take her to get back to herself. So, in the last little town before heading off into the woods, she stopped to pick up enough groceries to last her a couple of weeks.
Arriving at the cabin did a lot to make her feel more comfortable, especially when she opened the door to find a fresh baked loaf of banana bread sitting on the kitchen counter and a fire burning in the fireplace. Taking in a deep breath as she dropped the groceries on the table, Temperance thought it reminded her of what home was supposed to smell like.
She quickly sorted out the supplies and her bags, only to find that Mrs. Timmons also kept all of the linens fresh for her. Mrs. Timmons had always helped to take care of her grandfather before he passed away, but it wasn't until Max explained that she and Temperance's mother grew up together, did she understand why the woman had always been so attentive to her. She supposed that in many ways, Mrs. Timmons was like an aunt to her.
Temperance tried to get someone else to look after the cabin when Mrs. Timmons had a heart attack a few years ago, but the woman was very insistent about staying on as the caretaker. She rarely saw Mrs. Timmons anymore, but she always got a birthday and a Christmas card from her every year, without fail. When she came to the cabin, she liked her privacy, but she always knew Mrs. Timmons was nearby, and traces of her were everywhere. The banana bread was always waiting for her, the bed was always made, and the transistor radio on the mantle was always tuned to the emergency alert frequency. Little things that told her she was someplace safe.
Within a few days, she had settled into a comfortable pattern of walking through the woods all morning. She would find berries or roots on her walks to use in her tea or for her lunch out on the deck. Then she would go inside the cabin to finish out the day with work.
Temperance discovered yet another reason she needed a full time assistant; the paperwork. She had forgotten just how much paperwork there was during her professional association with Zach. He seemed to excel at dealing with so much of the tedium in their work, and she had simply gotten used to it being done for her. She really did need to settle on a new assistant.
Her watch chimed, letting her know that it was time to prepare something for dinner. Temperance learned to set up the chimes in order to keep track of time when she was in college. Too many times she would find herself winding down at midnight and hadn't eaten a thing since breakfast when she was caught up in solving a mystery. The headaches she fought with during that time vanished the moment she started scheduling herself with the chimes of her watch.
Flipping down the lid of her laptop and closing up her notes, Temperance got up and moved into the kitchen area. There was a little nip in the night air as she reached over and closed the window above the table. Some tomato soup and grilled cheese would be a good way to chase away the chill.
With the soup and the cast iron skillet heating on the stove, she crossed over to the fireplace and began setting up a fire for the night. She dutifully scooped out the ashes from the previous evening's fire into the ash bucket beside the hearth. Mrs. Timmons used them to keep the slugs from eating up her flowers and vegetables. In the morning, she would dump the contents of the bucket into the ash can out back by the tool shed. It was just another part of the routine she was developing up at the cabin.
There was a certain level of solace to be found in the ordinary routine of a day; a solace missing from her day to day life in D.C. She still loved her life, but the uncertainty and the urgency of everything she did sometimes made it difficult to concentrate on any one thing.
No, that wasn't true. She was very good at tuning out the rest of the world to concentrate on her work, on solving the scientific mysteries. But the mysteries of her humanity were far more complicated and fluid than she was comfortable pursuing. For those kinds of problems she needed a teacher, someone to guide her through the process, helping her to stay focused and not get lost along the way. The trouble with that theory was that there was really only one person capable of accomplishing that feat.
Angela was helpful in the beginning, when Temperance was still such a novice in the field of human idiosyncrasies. She still relied on Angela to help with the many interpersonal dealings at the lab, but when it came to the really difficult problems, Temperance had become dependent upon Booth for his insights.
It wasn't just his insights that proved invaluable; it was also his knowledge of her. She sometimes wondered if he actually knew her better than she knew herself. He most certainly knew her better than she did him. There were still so many things he did which surprised her.
No matter how sure she was of him, she still didn't really know him. The only thing she truly knew, without a trace of doubt, was that she trusted him. She trusted him when she had no reason to, when there was no logical basis for her trust in his abilities. Logic and reason could tell her he would fail, and yet she still trusted in him to get it done. And in every circumstance, he always proved her trust in him valid.
Losing Booth had always been a risk in their relationship. They maintained lives fraught with peril and she knew the odds would eventually work against them always coming away unscathed. Too many times they had narrowly escaped with their lives, both ending up in hospitals in various states of injury. Be it luck, or the complex set of variables which dictated the outcome of an event, eventually one, or both of them would not walk away.
She just never imagined it would happen so unexpectedly. Booth was not a man who deserved to go out with a whimper. Perhaps in a hail of gunfire, with the fanfare of trumpets, at the head of a charge, in the service of his country, or in the loving embrace of his family, but not quietly fading away into the darkness. Booth deserved better.
The crackle of the fresh wood starting to ignite reminded Temperance of what she was doing and she shook off the heavy blanket of her reverie.
Returning to the kitchen, she found that while the soup was on very low, it was already beginning to scorch. She was careful to stir it without razing the bottom skin before checking the skillet with a droplet of water. When it bounced around the cast iron, she knew it was ready.
Temperance shaved equal amounts of sharp cheddar and smoked Gouda onto a plate with her cheese knife. After carefully arranging them on the bread, insuring even distribution of flavor, she gently smeared a thin layer of mayonnaise over one slice of bread. She smiled a little as she began to do the same with the softened butter on the top layer of bread before dropping it into the skillet, butter side down.
Booth always laughed at the way she made grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup. Plain old Campbell's Condensed Soup, multigrain bread, top dollar cheese, mayo and butter on the bread, instead of in the skillet. He always said that it was the strangest contrast of white trash and chic he had ever seen in such an ordinary meal. She would explain that she never liked American cheese, but cheddar was too oily by itself, and the heartier bread worked better with the more expensive cheese, and the mayo and butter was the way her grandfather always made it, so it never tasted right without them. The one thing they agreed on, however, was the Campbell's Condensed Tomato Soup, because they both felt there was no need to improve upon the original when it was perfect just the way it is.
As she sunk down into her grandfather's old couch, she wrapped one of the Navajo blankets around her legs. Temperance brought the bowl of soup up to blow off the steam, with her sandwich beside her on the end table. The nights were the hardest up at the cabin. There was too much time to think about everything as the night fell.
She looked over at her grandfather's chair, still waiting with his tools for something to tinker with. Whether it was a clock, or a fishing reel, or pair of glasses, there was always something sitting on that little table with his tools, ready to be fixed. What he usually fixed was her, sitting in the same spot where she sat now, waiting for him to ask her the same thing he did every night; "What's got you thinking too hard, Tempe?"
Staring at the empty chair until her eyes drifted out of focus, Temperance searched her mind for the answer to her grandfather's question. There were just so many things she was thinking too hard about, it seemed almost impossible to pick only one. She worried about Zach, and if he would ever find his way back from his darkness. She worried about Angela off again on her never ending quest to never find an ending, not even a happy one. She worried about her work, and how she would adapt to losing her prominent role within the FBI without Booth. She worried about Hodgins, and how much longer he would stick around without Angela or the FBI work to keep him there. She worried about her brother, and how his little girls were doing. She worried about her father, and whether or not she was doing enough, or too much to heal their broken relationship. But most of all, she worried about being alone, about having an unremembered life. All of that and more was what had her thinking so hard that she was practically willing her grandfather back to life, just so she had someone to talk to again.
She forced herself to eat a little of the soup and a few bites of her sandwich before she discarded the rest. After cleaning up the mess and leaving everything to air dry, Temperance decided to check her email one last time before heading off to bed. She was tired and she wanted to close her eyes and leave all of her thinking for another day.
When she found only an email from Cam with a picture of Hodgins and Wendall preparing to ignite another experiment in the parking lot, Temperance smiled and knew there would be another damage report to fill out in the morning. She shut down the computer and went to the fireplace to douse the fire for the night.
Busy with the iron poker, separating the last of the wood until there was nothing but a few bands of embers still burning at the tops, she was able to forget about everything for a few peaceful moments. Watching the last of the embers extinguish with only a faint trail of smoke and charred wood to show where they once burned brightly.
A faint grin peaked at the corner of her mouth as she realized her words were slowly returning to her. She hadn't written anything other than reports since her arrival, but the words swirling through her mind as she watched the last embers pop and dance, going out one by one, filled her with solace.
Coming to the cabin had been a good idea after all. One week had turned into two, which turned into three, and now she was sitting in the middle of the fourth, but she felt better. It felt better to remember all of those things that were making her think too hard. And it felt better to give herself permission to grieve for that which she had lost, proving once again that Booth knew her better than she knew herself. He was always forcing her to embrace her humanity, instead of trying to transcend it, to rise above it.
Perhaps it was time to follow the advice he had given her, the path he tried to set out for her, even if he wasn't there to guide her down it anymore. Even if he wasn't there to drag her down it. She at least had his memory, even if she no longer had him. She would just have to settle with the voice he left inside her head.
"If you close that flue now, it'll take days to get the smoke stench out of here."
Temperance frowned with confusion for a moment. Surely the voice wasn't quite so clear, was it?
Slowly, she turned her head toward the door. "It's gonna be at least another twenty minutes before those logs stop smoldering. That's the trouble with using green wood."
She dropped the poker onto the slate bottom of the hearth as she rose to her feet, letting it bounce off and onto the floor. "Oh geez!" Booth was quick to lunge for it and she soon found him crouched beside her, tending the last of the fire. "You gotta watch out, or you're liable to set the whole place on fire, Bones."
"What…what did you call me?" She asked him, not caring if she did set the cabin on fire anymore. Hearing him use the nickname she had always hated until that moment made her heart skip a beat.
He looked up at her shyly, from his crouched position, "We aren't back to that again, are we?" Booth carefully set the poker into the rack and stood up, brushing his hands off on his jeans. "I mean, I know it's been a few weeks and all, but seriously…" The moment they were face to face, she saw the knowledge in his eyes as he continued to rattle on in jest, "Don't tell me we gotta start that whole thing all over aga-"
Not chancing anything else to that fallacy known as fate, Temperance never let him finish the words. She closed her arms around him and gave to him the one thing she had held back until now. With their lips pressed together, holding one another tightly, she finally trusted him with her heart.
As he returned her kiss with a promise of his own carried on his lips, she once again felt safe. Trusting Booth, even when all the empirical science in the world told her it was wrong always paid off in the end.
As they broke apart, he nestled his face into her neck and simply breathed her in. Through it all, the scientist won out, and she couldn't help herself. She just had to know. "How did you know where I'd be?"
He lifted her chin and stroked her cheek, careful to look directly into her eyes, something that always put her at ease. "Max would only say you were thinking too hard…" That devilish grin quickly formed on his face, and his eyes lit up with delight when he said, "Knowing you like I do…where else would you go?"