Author's Note: This is my second Bones story and I never would have attempted it if it hadn't been for all the wonderful comments I received while writing Slip and Fall. I had trouble finishing that one until the plans for this one were in the works. It's completely different. Whereas that one took place over the course of a couple days this one, unsurprisingly, will take place over the course of forty weeks.
I have to start by giving pounds and pounds of thanks to tracgyrl without whom this story may not exist in its current incarnation. She's been amazingly patient and extraordinarily supportive as I went through the "what if" process. I'm extremely glad I've "met" her – she's one of those people you happen upon in ficdom that you were just evidently meant to know. She's been lovely about allowing me to flood her inbox with the most minor of changes to – of all things – outlines, not chapters (which are much more interesting reading than outlines). So, for what it's worth, thank you incredibly!
I hope you all enjoy this story. As I said before it's bound to be different than the first fare I presented, but hopefully the style that drew you all here in the first place will serve me well this time around. I'm very excited about this one.
She's not sure when it started again. Maybe it was that day in the diner, sitting across from a faded-face-paint wearing Parker and shoulder-to-shoulder with Booth. It makes sense it would have started again then.
Since Booth's coma she hadn't wanted to bring it up. Not that the desire ever went away, but if there was one thing Booth ever taught her it was that there was a time and a place for everything. And no matter how hard she tried she could never quite come up with the right time or place.
But in the diner, enjoying late afternoon treats with the Booth boys, it hit her again – with a force so sudden the only thing she could do was hand over the keys to her building's pool. She wanted a child. Sitting there with Booth and Parker it became clear, she wanted a small human who was part her and definitely part Booth.
A few days later she'd invited him over for dinner. They were just starting a new case. It wasn't particularly gruesome nor particularly harrowing but she was getting little shivers of "wrong time, wrong place". She couldn't help it. She couldn't put it off one more day. She couldn't focus on anything else until she talked to him.
It was scary – and "scared" wasn't an emotion Temperance Brennan had a lot of experience with. She knew of it. She knew she should heed its presence more often. But in the end, fear was an emotion she was wholly uncomfortable with. It made her feel weak and off-balance. No, it was not an emotion she was ever prepared to listen to.
Once he was sitting in her dining room exclaiming over the pot roast she'd prepared, she began to lose her nerve. She'd keep up her end of the conversation, always flitting from one superficial topic to another until he began to give her sidelong looks that gave her the impression he knew something wasn't right in her world. But he was nothing if not careful with her – as often as he could be.
An hour into the meal, that would normally have been comfortable but instead felt a little strained, he pushed his plate away from him slightly and leaned back in his chair. "That was great, Bones!"
She couldn't help but duck her head to cover the slight blush that colored her cheeks. "Thank you."
"I don't want to put you on the spot, but you seem to have something on your mind. Want to share?"
She regarded him with uncertainty in her eyes. "Yes. But also no."
He chuckled and took a drink from the glass of wine she'd poured him. "That's not like you. Usually you're plowing ahead and I'm running to catch up."
"Well, this is important."
He studied her as if he could figure out what was going on in her head if he stared at her long enough. Finally he said, "Very little of what you choose to say isn't important." He noticed her wine glass was empty and refilled it from the bottle that sat between them on the table. "Which means you're probably ready to talk babies again."
She snapped her head up, studying the linen napkin in her lap was no longer a good use of her eyes. She searched his face trying to decide whether or not he was receptive to the idea but she couldn't tell what he was thinking. "I thought, perhaps...Well, that is, I think I'd like to...It's just, I'm..." She began to flounder, twisting her hands back and forth and bunching her napkin into tight wrinkles.
He reached out to still her flailing hands by covering them with one of his own. "Bones." His voice was low and quiet. She'd heard him use it with Parker. "Stop now. We can talk about it. It's okay."
"It's only been a few months."
"Since the surgery? Or since the coma?"
He made the distinction, she was sure, because she so frequently did. The surgery she linked to the idea of him dying. The coma she linked to how their lives, and the baby arrangement, changed. "Either. Both. Does it matter?"
"Yes, it matters. I didn't give up on the idea of you having a baby. Why did you?"
"I didn't!" Her voice took on that hysterical quality she hated. "I didn't give up, it just didn't seem like something I should bring up."
"Because I could have died?"
She couldn't help the tears that filled her eyes even if she hated for him to see the way it still affected her to think of that time in their lives. "Maybe."
"I told you, before the surgery, that if anything happened to me I still wanted you to do it. I wanted you to have the baby."
She wondered why he kept saying "a" and "the" instead of "my" in reference to the baby. Was he really that detached from the whole thing? That didn't seem like him. Unless... "I thought you'd changed your mind. When people face their own mortality it changes the way they feel about even the simplest points of their lives. This is anything but simple."
"This from you? I thought the whole thing was simple. I made a donation, you got pregnant, nine months later you had the baby."
"Our baby." Her voice was barely even a whisper.
"What was that?"
"Our baby," she said louder and with some force. "Not "a" baby, not "the" baby, your baby, Booth. Our baby."
He looked taken aback by her outburst but finally said, "Yeah, Bones, our baby." He spun his wine glass on the table watching the tablecloth twist and straighten beneath the foot of the glass. "After everything, I think I was stalling about bringing it up because I realized I couldn't back down on something so important. I have to be part of this. I can't just give you a baby when that kid's a part of me."
Her shoulders slumped, she couldn't help it. "So you have changed your mind."
He leaned forward and reached across to her. With one finger he raised her chin until he could meet her eyes. "No. I want you to do it, if you want to do it. But I'm in it. The whole messy thing. If you have my baby, it's my baby too. I get to be a dad. At least the kind of dad I am to Parker, more if you'll allow it."
"You couldn't possibly be a better dad than you are to Parker."
"Thank you, but that's not what I meant. I'd give anything to spend more time with Parker than I do. And I want as much time with our baby as I could have."
"So we can do it?"
He smiled at her in that way he had of lighting up a room. "Yeah, we can do it."
But two and a half months later two attempts at intrauterine insemination had failed. Sitting in Dr. Ashbacher's office Brennan nodded solemnly when he delivered the news.
"Dr. Brennan, with this type of insemination, the chance of conception during a cycle is fifteen to twenty percent. Two thirds of women will have conceived after six cycles."
She knew all the statistics. She knew it wasn't all that strange to think she'd not conceived after two procedures. But still she felt discouraged. She still felt...what was that? Fear? She was afraid the longer it took to get pregnant the more time Booth would have to change his mind.
Though she's not sure why she felt that way. The previous month, when she'd told him the procedure hadn't worked, he'd looked as disappointed as she'd felt. And when he'd hugged her, he'd held her just a little differently than he normally did. As if she'd somehow turned partially to glass and he was the only material capable of protecting her.
She could already see the look on his face when she told him later that she still wasn't pregnant.
If she believed in psychic ability she'd think she had a gift because later that day, on their way from the diner to the Jeffersonian, she'd told him. The smile from the joke he'd just told melted right off his face. Her timing, when it came to delivering bad news, was never good.
"That's okay," he'd said reaching across the console to squeeze her slightly trembling hand, "we'll try again in a couple weeks, right?"
"Right," she'd said. And she knew she should give it more time. These things didn't happen overnight. And she was over thirty. And, and, and there were a lot of reasons why it didn't happen straight away.
A couple days later they were eating dinner at a Greek restaurant she'd wanted to try that had opened up on K Street. They'd been talking about the resolution of their last case when suddenly she'd announced, "One more time."
As if he were renting space in her head he'd said, "Are you sure? Dr. Ashbacher said it could take six months or more."
"I can't go through that over and over."
"Bones, it's just pregnant or not pregnant. It's not a painful procedure. It's the same thing you'd be doing if we'd been doing it the old-fashioned way."
"No, it's not the same. One more time because that'll be the last of the sample you provided."
"I can give another sample."
"No. I just...can't. I know it's not rational to get so excited and then feel such a let down when we find out it hasn't worked, but that's what's happening. I can't seem to control it."
"So, this is it, then? One more time?" He sounded dejected and she felt sorry for putting that resonance in his voice. He'd really become attached to the idea of being a father again and she was single handedly limiting that option for him. No, she thought, he could still be a father again – just because they didn't get pregnant didn't mean he wouldn't someday fall in love and start a family with someone else. Why did her stomach clench at the thought?
"I'm sorry, Booth, really I am. I know you've gotten your hopes up about this, too."
"It's okay." He smiled at her even if it was a little watery. "I just want you to do what's right for you. If you say one more time, one more time it is."
"It could happen, right?"
Later that night, when he'd taken her home, he put the car in park and let the engine idle while he stood on the sidewalk in front of her building with her in his arms. He didn't say anything about the completely irrational tears that moistened her cheeks and left tracks in her makeup. But he was that material again – the only one that could protect her special brand of glass from the world.
They'd try one more time. But that was it. She couldn't stand to be breakable.