Hello! Second "Bones" fic here; this one takes place about two years into the future. After so many fics where Sully comes back and tries to win Temperance back, I decided to do a fluffy, happy, angst-free twist on the theme. I'm almost embarrassed by how fluffy this turns out. Seriously. For my writing, this requires a fluff-warning. While this is unrelated to my earlier fic, "The Idiot Magi," I write all of my stories in the same 'verse once I join a fandom, and stuff established here is in the multi-chap I'm working on. PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE read, review, and let me know what you think! I really appreciate all your feedback!
Somewhere in the back of her mind, Temperance always expected to run into Sully again, at some point. Nobody actually sailed off into the sunset. She wouldn't even write that into a book, it was such a clichéd ending.
However, she was not expecting to encounter him at 6:27 by the olive bar in the Georgetown Whole Foods.
And she especially didn't expect to see him with a small girl, probably a little over one, sitting placidly in the child seat. She had soft blonde hair and a pink jumper.
"Tempe?" he spoke first, a question in his voice, as he reached for the scoop in the feta-stuffed kalamatas.
She'd been measuring out French olives, but she set the plastic container down. "Sully," she said. "Good to see you. And — wow." She gestured toward the baby, currently gnawing on her own fist. "Congratulations?" Maybe she wasn't his baby. You could never know.
He grinned, smoothing over the uncomfortable shock in her voice. He shook the baby's forearm gently. "Hannah, meet Tempe. Temperance, meet Hannah Elizabeth McAllister Sullivan." The girl removed her fist from her mouth and waved shyly. Sully grinned. "Admit it, you're a little freaked."
"Of course not. Infants don't scare me, but yes — I remember you saying you didn't want children." They tied you down, he'd explained to her once, when they'd been in the middle of a park and inexplicably surrounded by small children.
"You know me — go with what feels right," he said.
"Are you back at the Bureau, now?" she asked, not really sure how to approach the questions of whether he was married, if he was happy. Booth would know how to. Where was he? Dammit.
"No, I've decided to facilitate other people's adventures," he said. "Kara — my wife — and I, we just bought a sporting-goods store. It's right on M here in Georgetown, actually. By the Barnes and Noble?" she nodded, to confirm that she knew the location. "She's around here, picking out wines. She's um, really fantastic. I think you'd like her, actually. She was a marine biologist."
"Did you two meet in the Caribbean?"
"Yeah, she and a girlfriend were taking my tour. Friend had actually been left at the altar and dragged Kara along on the would-be honeymoon." His smile shifted, became a little forced — most likely, she surmised, at residual awkwardness due to his assumed differences in their satisfaction levels and relationship status.
"That's — a lovely tale," she said, smiling genuinely to attempt to put him at ease. "Excellent for you. Males are shown to benefit significantly from the stability provided in a marriage."
"Yeah," he said, smiling again, though it showed traces of a grimace. "So — what are you up to these days? Still in the lab? Running around with Booth and rounding up criminals? God, how long has it been?"
"A little over four years, I think. Four and a half, yes," she said, trying to remember cases she'd worked on when she and Sully dated.
"Amazing," he grinned again, more easily this time. "You're … doing well?"
"Yes, I'm very well. And yes, I'm still at the museum. I'm not really investigating much anymore, though." She ran her fingers through the baby's hair absentmindedly. "She's what, 14 months old?"
"Yes," he said, only a little surprised that she picked up on that. "I can't believe you left the field. Really?"
"I'm still consulting on investigations, but I spend most of my time doing more academic work. Writing more, too. Booth calls me in every once in a while, though."
"Wow. I'm impressed. I … didn't think you had it in you to step back."
She wondered if her decision hurt him, despite the fact that he had clearly moved on and appeared quite happily married. After all, she'd refused to step back for him. She settled for an awkward shrug, and let a hand drift over her abdomen, which Sully didn't notice. He looked somewhat confused at her news.
"How's Booth? And Angela, the rest of the lab?"
"They're doing really well," she said, smiling. "Booth's still an agent, of course; I doubt he'll ever leave the Bureau. He's Assistant Director for Major Crimes now, though, which is quite a responsibility. Objectively, it's safer, though, which I do appreciate. Angela and Hodgins married; they had a baby boy back in September, Joe. Angela's got a stake in an art gallery in Dupont now and is focusing on that. Hodgins started a foundation focusing on science in lower-income schools, which is doing quite well and makes him quite happy. Cam's still at the lab; she's engaged to a doctor Angela set her up with. She also adopted a teenager about two years ago, so she's got Michelle as well. Michelle's entering Georgetown in the fall."
"Wow," he said. "It really has been a while. Are you —"
"Tim! I found the syrah I like, finally," a tan, blonde woman walked up to them. She was significantly shorter than either Temperance or Sully, and looked extremely athletic.
Sully turned, and his grin got even broader. "Perfect, honey. Kare, I'd like you to meet Dr. Temperance Brennan. Tempe, this is my wife, Kara. Tempe and I used to …"
"We were colleagues — and friends — when Sully was at the Bureau," she cut in.
Kara smiled widely. "Fantastic! So you're another agent?"
She shook her head. "Oh, no. I'm a forensic anthropologist and author. I consulted with the Bureau."
"Oh, yeah, the crime novels," she said, smiling. "Love them, actually. Ooh! When are you due?" Sully's eyes widened.
"Whoa, Tempe? Seriously? You?"
"Yeah, well," she said, rolling her eyes and trying to laugh a little. "Everything happens eventually," she shivered slightly, remembering the first time Booth had told her that. "And I'm almost at 21 weeks. Due early November," she smiled.
"That's fantastic!" Kara exclaimed. "Do you know the sex yet? Names? I loved being pregnant."
"We just found out the fetus is a girl," she said. "And I don't want to pick a name until she's born. The name carries such anthropological significance — in most cultures, the name is actually not given until the child is several months or years old. I wouldn't be comfortable selecting a name that then might not fit the child."
Kara accepted this, smiling, and was about to ask another question when Sully, still trying to process, said, "Are you — married —"
She started to shake her head, when a voice cut through the store, "Bones! There you are! Dad'n'me found the rice-milk strawberry ice cream you really like," Parker jogged up to her and dropped the container into the cart, right on top of the organic arugula.
Sliding the ice cream to an empty portion of the cart, she said, gently, "Dad and I, Park. And thank you. I really do love that."
"Even though it's gross," he said, grinning. He turned to the Sullivans. "Hey, I'm Parker." He was a really outgoing kid. Charming, too. Really, a miniature Booth.
"Parker, this is Sully and Kara. Sully used to work with your dad — Sully, do you remember Parker? I'm not even sure if he was in school when you left. He's going into fourth grade in the fall, now."
"I think I remember some T-ball photos of you in your dad's office, yeah," Sully said, extending a hand to Parker, who took it eagerly. "You've gotten really tall." Sully, finally, looked like he was beginning to understand things, though he still looked a little confused.
"I'm already five feet tall," he said proudly.
Booth appeared then, behind Sully, and she waved lightly. He came over, a curious expression on his face. She smiled and bit her lip, her fingers lightly stroking Parker's shoulders.
"Look who I ran into," she said, tilting her head slightly.
"Sully! Whoa. You're back in D.C.? I hadn't seen any paperwork about a return to the Bureau." He stepped closer to Temperance, rested his hands on the cart. She noticed that his fingers were pretty tightly clenched, though his posture was relaxed.
"Not planning on coming back to duty," he said. "Booth, this is my wife, Kara, and my daughter, Hannah. Kara, Seeley Booth, Tempe's —" he paused. "Are you two just partners, or partner partners or —"
Brennan didn't understand what he was implying, so she turned toward Booth. He laughed. "I think the term she's using these days is still just partners, but actually means partner partners."
"Hey! She is standing right here, and she is carrying your child, mister," she said, poking him. She was grateful that he was here to implicitly explain what, exactly, had happened since Sully's departure.
"They're boyfriend/girlfriend, but Bones thinks it's stupid to refer to her as a girl so she doesn't like it," Parker explained as Booth slapped at her hands playfully.
She nodded by way of explanation. "Really. There are no acceptable circumstances in which to refer to a thirty-three-year-old by a term indicating pre-pubescence."
Sully, eyes finally full of understanding, tossed back his head and laughed. "I should've figured, if anyone was going to get you to settle down, Tempe, it would have been Booth. How long have you guys been together?"
"A little under a year," Booth said. "It just kind of moved quickly."
"Okay, that is false. You're rewriting things to make it seem traditionally romantic," she laughed. "There was a concerted and prolonged wooing effort involved. Don't make it seem like you swept me off my feet with one of those … smiles."
"Once you got off your feet, though — that was what, August? And we bought the house in January. See? Whirlwind." He grinned triumphantly.
"Any plans to get married?" Kara asked, in a remarkably non-judgmental and genuine tone.
Booth grinned and laughed. "At some point. Bones really isn't into archaic and outmoded notions of legally subjugating women, so we're taking it a little slow."
"Again, that's absolute slander! I proposed to you!"
"Only because I promised I wouldn't propose to you," he retorted. Which was true.
She looked directly at Sully for a second, before turning her eyes to Kara. "While it's true that I don't need the piece of paper, nor do I particularly subscribe to the traditional notions of a nuclear family, I feel our relationship would be basically the same no matter what and it's important to Booth, so probably sometime after the baby. We just bought a house though, and we're both highly in demand in our fields, so finding time plan is quite problematic."
"You should just go away for a weekend, some place like the Caribbean," Kara advised. "It's so easy, just bring a few people down. And it's gorgeous."
Booth nodded. "That does sound nice. A couple pina coladas, some sand, a little surf'n'turf … Parker Booth, get your hand out of that box now."
Parker smiled guiltily, removing his hand from a box of cookies he'd surreptitiously opened. "Sorry. I was hungry."
Booth rolled his eyes. "We should definitely get going, then. Sully, good to see you again. And Kara — great to meet you. You two should give us a call, come on over for dinner sometime. We still, uh, actually use that dining set you made." He gave Sully a legitimate, back-clapping guy hug.
She stepped forward and kissed him chastely on the cheek. "Really, it was wonderful to see you again," she said, sincerely, she hoped. She was. It was an odd form of closure she had never realized she needed. "And Kara — pleasure to meet you. You're a very lucky woman."
Kara smiled. "Thank you. And yes, dinner sometime, for sure."
Parker raced off toward the checkout with the cart, and Booth slung his arm around her shoulders, chuckling lightly. She leaned into him, linking her fingers into his absentmindedly. "What?" she asked.
"Nothing — just kind of funny, you know," he said. He kissed her temple. "I love you. Spontaneously."
She rolled her eyes. She'd argued with him about turning the phrase into a routine, and they'd compromise that either could say it whenever they felt like it — it didn't need to be a compulsory reply or a conversation ender. It could just be. "Love you too," she said, tilting up to kiss him at the corner of his mouth.