Since this is the last chapter, I want to take a minute to thank everyone who took the time to post a review. I appreciate everyone's input and support. But I especially would like to give shout-outs to Nedra1212 (my very first reviewer!), boothandbones4ever, Nyre The Black Rose, bookwormlady, VENZwife, RandomWriterChick, stooger, CookiesandCream9196 and mustanggirlz07 for sticking with me and for the constant encouragement. You all made this so much easier than it would have been without you.
Oh, and in case I forgot to mention it, I don't own Bones. If I did, Booth would never wear a shirt on camera. Even in the winter.
Epilogue: Sunshine Days
Brennan sat on the wrap-around porch of her new home, relishing the warmth of the sun beating down after a long, hard winter and fully relaxing for the first time in a very long time.
In the aftermath of Sweets' reign of terror, Brennan spent the majority of her time helping Booth as he recovered at her apartment. She drove him to physical therapy three times a week for four months, made up her spare room so that Parker could spend every weekend with them, and hosted bi-weekly dinners with the squints, the intern of the week, Max, Hacker and Rebecca. Brennan had discovered that not only had her chosen family grown, but that she needed them close to her and Booth as he regained his former strength and they deepened their relationship together. They all had been a constant source of support and love and she didn't know what they would have done without them. More than one kind of family, indeed.
Not long after Booth was released from the hospital, Brennan had contacted Carol Grant about designing and building a new home on the banks of the river in Tucker County as a surprise for Booth. The home took just under nine months to complete, and Booth had been absolutely bowled over when she drove him out to see it for the first time. Brennan knew that he loved the whole house, but she suspected that the media room with the 100 inch television was his favorite part.
Now they were finally having their first barbeque at the new place, complete with loved ones and assorted interns in attendance. Russ and Amy were the only notable missing, as Amy was about to give birth to their first child and didn't want to chance the trip. But those who were there seemed to be having a great time as Booth commandeered the grill, announcing that no one else knew what they were doing, but graciously allowed Max to be his "right-hand man" and assist. Hot dogs, hamburgers, sausages and tofu dogs for Brennan were cooking away, sending a delicious-smelling smoke wafting into the warm summer air. Andrew and Wendell seemed to be beating Hodgins and Clark quite handily at a pickup football game and everyone else had congregated either on the deck, chatting or on the dock, fishing. Angela came walking up to the porch, fruity drink in hand and knowing grin on her face.
"So, sweetie. Having a good time?" She plopped down on the porch swing next to Brennan, sending it rocking back and forth.
Brennan grinned, never taking her eyes off Booth at the grill. "I really am, Ang. This turned out better than I ever thought it would. Everyone seems to be enjoying themselves."
"And how could they not? You're the hostess with the mostess, Bren!" Giggling, Angela tapped her drink against Brennan's and saluted her. "You've come a long way, baby."
Laughing, Brennan had to agree. "I do feel like I am much more open to forming solid relationships with live people, that's true. And I couldn't have picked a better group of people to call 'family'."
"Wow, Brennan. No matter how often I hear you say it, it still floors me. 'Family'. I never thought I'd live to see the day."
"Me either, Ang. Me either."
After everyone had gotten their fill of the excellent food, fun games and good company, most of the guests began piling into their cars and leaving. Rebecca and Parker, Hodgins, Angela, and Cam were the lone stragglers, but eventually even they decided to head back to civilization, thanking Booth and Brennan and passing out kisses and hugs before driving off in a hail of honking horns.
Booth stretched after putting the last of the leftovers in the refrigerator, still a little stiff in the shoulders even now, after a long day. Brennan snuck up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist, laying her head between his shoulder blades and sighing.
"It was a good day, huh Bones? Everyone had a great time." Booth turned his head slightly, trying to see her face.
"It really was. I'm just glad that everyone was able to make it. I noticed that Andrew's new girlfriend seemed to hit it off with Rebecca. They made plans to go shopping next week." Brennan chuckled at the tangled web of connections they continued to form.
"Yeah, Trish seems like a really nice woman. I'm glad Andrew found her. He deserves someone like that."
"Andrew, huh?" Brennan replied, turning Booth in her arms and giving him an eyebrow raise.
Booth ducked his head slightly and sighed. "He insisted. My calling him "Boss" or "Director" while we were fishing was driving him nuts, he said."
"Good. You know he's family now. First name basis and all that."
"I know. I'll never be able to repay him or the rest of them for taking care of us…taking care of you when all that went down last year." Booth wrapped his arms around Brennan, sitting his chin on top of her head. "We really are blessed."
"We are. Now, go upstairs and get ready for bed. I'll finish up down here.", she ordered, playfully slapping him on the behind to get him moving.
Booth laughed as he ducked out of her way. "Okay, okay Mom! Geez!"
Booth headed upstairs and walked down the hallway to the large master bedroom. The four poster bed, the centerpiece of the room, looked so inviting that he just had to lie down for a few minutes, barely noticing that his eyes were drifting shut within seconds.
The next thing he was aware of was Brennan, clearing her throat from the doorway. He slowly opened one eye, looking at her feet, which were encased in what looked like black saddle shoes. Opening the other eye, his gaze drifted up…to her white knee-high socks. 'Oh, Lord' he thought. He took in the rest of her outfit with unabashed lust. The short, plaid skirt, white button-down shirt tied at her trim waist, and her hair…in pigtails.
"Bones?" He questioned, sitting up with a wide grin. "What are you wearing?"
"What? Don't you like it, Booth? I believe you requested it some time ago. Catholic schoolgirl, at your service." Brennan pushed off the doorway, sidling up to the bed before stopping between his legs and grinning cheekily.
"Oh, Bones…you're the best!"
"And don't you forget it, Booth."