A/N: Hai. Remember me? Abandoner of fic. Disappointer of fangirls. All around horrible person.;-)
But as it happens I've been picking away at this chapter for awhile, so if you're still interested, plz to enjoy!
A synopsis of the last chapter to save you some time: Booth found Gabs' ring, but his good mood was challenged when he confronted Max about feeling entitled to Brennan's love. Brennan was "irrationally happy" that Booth cared enough to stand up for her and went to his office to thank him. Booth almost gave in to his urge to kiss her when Gabby called him back about her ring.
And now you're all caught up on AFM! Thanks to nicolemack for lookingks over, lizook for her poetry assistance, and mia101 for being my best friend and still caring about all of this.
They had spent a large portion of the therapy session talking (bickering) about Bones' interrogation skills (or lack thereof), with her insisting that if Booth just taught her the basics, her steep learning curve would take over quickly, and him insisting that both of their time was…better spent elsewhere. Like teaching her plumbing. Or hockey terminology. Or anything else. It was an inane argument; Bones didn't really have a burning desire to learn the art of interrogation, and he wasn't all that intent on keeping her out of the interrogation room. But the discussion was a good alternative to talking about what had been going on between her, and her father, and Booth—and he was willing to help her out with avoiding that one. Booth knew what Sweets was like when he got a whiff of family drama. A dog with a bone.
Unfortunately, the conversation petered out at about twenty 'til the hour. They could bicker with the best of them, but apparently their limit on one topic they didn't care much about was forty minutes.
"So…what else is going on?" Sweets looked at them expectantly, and Booth had to give the kid credit; he always knew when something different was going on. There was no obfuscating with him forever, 12 years old or not.
Bones nudged his shoulder. "Tell him, Booth."
Crap. He knew what she was talking about, and it wasn't their little run-in with Max. "It's really not a big deal."
"Then it's not a big deal to tell me," Sweets countered.
He sighed. Might as well get it over with, and it still was a better alternative than making poor Bones talk about Max right now. "Gabrielle's coming back to D.C to get her ring. This weekend."
"Ah." The young doctor's eyebrows rose while Bones nodded. Why did they have to make everything such a big production? "You couldn't have sent it to her?"
"I could have, and I would have, but she asked if she could come and visit and I said yes."
"Is she coming alone?"
"Yes. I think she needs a little breather from the wedding stuff. A little vacation, you know."
"How long is she staying with you?"
"Just through the weekend, I said." He shifted, getting irritated.
"How do you feel about all this?"
"I feel like my sister is coming to visit and I hope we have a nice time without people being weird about it." He gave a pointed look at Bones, whose eyes widened indignantly.
"I haven't gotten weird," she objected.
"And you better not," Booth nodded.
Truthfully, he wasn't terribly nervous about Gabby's visit; when she suggested it during their conversation last week (during her inconveniently- or perfectly-timed call, depending on how he looked at it moment-to-moment), he'd agreed automatically. In their time getting to know each other over the phone, the awkwardness of two people artificially shoved together had faded; he found himself wanting to see her again and spend time together that wasn't so damn heavy, like it was last time. He figured he'd show her the sights she'd missed during her last trip, maybe take her to one of the free military band concerts at the Capitol--and, of course, see her beam when he put her engagement band back in her hands. It sounded nice.
But he'd forgotten he'd have to deal with nosy people; first and foremost, the psychologist on the couch across from him.
"Okay, okay." Sweets held up his hands in a pacifying gesture. "It's just an interesting shift; it wasn't so long ago that you never wanted to see her again. Your openness is very nice, but…it came very fast."
"Jeesh, I just can't please you people," he groused. "When I didn't want to talk to her, everybody made me feel like a stubborn asshole. Now that I do…it's too fast." Glancing at the two sets of well-meaning eyes around him, he gave a relenting sigh. "People can change their minds, you know."
Bones spoke softly. "I, for one, admire your flexibility and openness to change."
Bless her heart--no matter how concerned she was about him, and he knew she was…she always would take his side against Sweets. Booth gave her a weak smile. "Thanks, Bones."
Sweets wasn't quite ready to let this go. "So are you going to introduce her to Parker?"
Oh, c'mon. "I hadn't thought about it."
"How about Jared? Your grandfather? How much are you going to integrate her into your life?"
After Bones' brief diffusion, he found himself getting irritated again. "Jesus, Sweets. Can't I just visit with my sister without it being a huge production? It's just one weekend. And she's coming to see me. I don't see why it has to be anyone else's business."
Sweets smiled sagely, in that way he sometimes did that belied his adolescent exterior. "Isn't that what family is, though? A bunch of people who are in your business, whether or not you want them to be?"
He silenced an internal groan.
The doctor tented his fingers and leaned forward. "The thing is, Booth—whether or not you think it's a 'huge production,' this is something important in your life. Gabby affects you; so she automatically affects the people who love you, too. You can certainly do this at your own pace, but the fact is that you can't keep your worlds separate forever. It might behoove you to think of how to introduce those two worlds in the way of your choosing, so they don't collide on their own."
This was…not how he wanted to spend his Thursday afternoon. "You know what, Sweets? I can do what I want. And I will," he snapped, glancing up at the clock. It was five minutes before their normal ending time, but he stood anyway. "I've got some work to do."
Bones stood too, not to be abandoned here alone with Sweets. "We've got some work to do," she half-echoed and half-amended.
Sweets knew when he was beat. "Okay, I guess we can wrap up a little earlier. If you need to talk again before your sister comes…"
"I won't," he responded curtly, placing his hand on Bones' back for unneeded guidance out the door. Sometimes he worried there would come a time when the kid would push the wrong buttons and he'd pop him one.
When they were safely out of the building, Bones glanced at him. "You okay?"
"Yeah." He gave her smile that aimed for reassuring but probably just looked stressed. "Therapy, ya know? Just not really my thing."
She looked up at him, squinting slightly in the sunlight. "Yes, I know." They were quiet on the short walk through the parking lot and seemed to come to an unspoken mutual decision to linger outside for a few seconds before getting back in the Sequoia. She leaned against the side of it and took a big breath of the warm air. "I'm going to try…not to be weird, okay?"
He had to hold back a chuckle. "I wasn't really talking about you, Bones. People can just be…collectively weird."
"Nonetheless." She fussed in her purse for her sunglasses before slipping them on. It disappointed him a little, to have the blue of her eyes obscured by the dark lenses. "I think it's nice that you are being a brother to Gabrielle. And I don't think anybody has the right to tell you how to do that."
It felt good, to have her on his side. He felt some of the tension from inside the therapy room drain away and he grinned at her, gratified at the lopsided smile she gave him back. "Thanks. That's what I keep you around for. Your lack of weirdness." He gave her a wink.
"I thought you kept me around because I'm the most intelligent and skilled forensic anthropologist in the country."
"Incidental," he teased, and she laughed graciously, understanding his humor with startling speed. She'd come a long way, and it delighted him every time he got evidence of that. As per usual, in those moments, he felt the familiar desire to pull her close, kiss her.
He didn't know whether or not Bones had known his intent, the few seconds before Gabby had called and interrupted them. At the moment it happened, he'd been so sure that he saw acknowledgement in her eyes…understanding, acceptance—desire. He'd been about to kiss her, but more importantly, she wanted him to. He had been so certain.
But then, later, after he talked to Gabby and the world stopped spinning and everything was…well, normal again…it didn't seem so clear. Bones didn't mention it again, and although he surreptitiously searched her face as often as he could, he couldn't find that permission there, like he'd thought he saw before. And hell, he hadn't waited this long to ruin it all with a push before she was ready. He was going to play it safe. Even when it practically killed him not to be able to touch her.
"Have you talked to Max yet?" he asked her carefully. They hadn't discussed their subterfuge in the therapy room before it happened, but he never doubted that it was well on her mind.
"Not yet." She glanced downward, scuffing her shoe on the pavement. "But I will. Still trying to figure out what I want to say to him."
"Got any ideas?"
"Not good ones. Maybe something like…sometimes the only thing stopping me from hating your guts is how much I love you." She looked embarrassed, even as she chuckled regretfully at her words. "How stupid is that, right?"
"You don't do stupid, Bones," he assured her, reaching out and brushing her hair from her shoulder. It felt warm from the sunlight. "Should we go?"
"We should." Pushing herself off the side of the car, she allowed him to open the door for her before she climbed inside. He circled back around, enjoying the last breath of fresh air before shutting himself in the too-hot car.
She fiddled with the air conditioner when he turned on the engine. "I was thinking…"
"Yes?" He glanced over at her pause. Bones didn't often hesitate.
"Maybe…we can all go out for dinner or something. When Gabby comes."
He wasn't expecting that proposition. "Who's 'we all'?" he questioned.
"Our colleagues. Angela and Hodgins and Cam…Sweets, if you want."
His first reaction was a defensive one; why would he want to share Gabrielle with the squints, of all people? "Have you been talking to them about Gabs?"
"What? No. You know I don't gossip, Booth." That was true, and he knew it. "They're just…our friends. And I think they'd make her feel welcome, and I think…even if you don't want to do all the other things Sweets talked about, sometimes it's nice to share important things with your friends." She was looking embarrassed again, vulnerable. "Right?"
Well, hell. Not so long ago, this was the kind of speech he'd be making to her. She'd been learning well…it would chagrin him if it wasn't so endearing. He smiled wearily at her. "Right. Let me get back to you on that one, Bones."
She was obviously pleased enough by that, leaning back against her seat with a satisfied expression.
He drove and wondered exactly what it would look and sound and feel like, when worlds collide.
Gabby squealed like a much younger girl when she saw Booth in the airport late Friday evening, making him roll his eyes and laugh in pleasure at her exuberance.
"Seeley!!" She threw herself at him in relief as if she'd been traveling all day, rather than for 40 minutes.
Her excitement was catching, and he lifted her a little bit when he hugged her. When he set her down, he reached in his pocket for the tiny plastic bag he'd been carrying around…the one with the tiny shining engagement band. He presented it to her with a flourish.
She turned solemn as she took it from him, looking at him with shining eyes. "You are my second-favorite human being on the planet."
"The first being the person who gave you the ring the first time, of course."
"No, the first being whoever invented the lemon-drop martini," she teased. She carefully pulled the ring from the bag and slipped it back on her finger—home again—and let out a satisfied sigh.
He grinned at her, and felt almost crazily proud of himself. "C'mon. Let's get out of here." He tossed an arm around her shoulder and they walked.
They chatted on the way back to the parking garage, where he tossed her small bag in the back seat and opened the door for her. He had Full Moon Fever loaded up on the music player, which made her grin. "Awh," she said. "We have a thing."
"Sure do," he agreed, cranking up "Yer So Bad" for a few bars as he made a show of pealing out of the garage. When they got on the road, he turned the volume back down. "So what's been shakin', Gabster?"
"Same old. School. The journal. Band. Wedding stuff. I've been writing a lot. It helps me deal with the stress."
"You know, I don't think I've ever written something that somebody didn't force me to." He glanced over at her and smiled. "Looks like you got all the creative genes."
"I even wrote a poem about you."
That made him raised an amused eyebrow. "A poem?"
"Yup. On the plane"
"I don't think anybody's ever written a poem about me."
"That you know of," she teased, then she paused. "I don't know if you'll like it."
"Well, try me."
She dug around awkwardly in her bag, which was in the seat behind her, but finally made a sound of triumph when she pulled out a small notebook. She flipped it open and produced a penlight which let her read in the dark of the car, running her thumb through the pages until she stopped on one. Glancing up, she gave him a small smile. "You sure?"
"Are you sure?"
"Oh, I'm sure."
She cleared her throat and began to read.
Eyes trained on the mark
There's no 'cocky' in the shadows
And no swagger in the dark.
A careful, ready grip
There's no aiming for the target
When you're shooting at the hip.
A slow and steady start
There's no rushing to the trigger
When you have to hit the heart."
Finishing, she stared at the page for a moment longer before switching her eyes up to meet his, to gauge his reaction.
He was a little dumbstruck…not even by the poem itself, he didn't know enough about poetry to even be able to judge its quality…but the thought that she would write it for him, and about him, that she could understand enough of him (and so fast) to communicate it in such an eloquent way.
"Oh my God, you hate it, don't you," she said at his silence, dropping her head back against the headrest.
"Stop. Drama queen." He shook his head. "It's great. You're great." He gave a reassuring half-smile.
She looked a little suspicious, but accepted the compliment, putting her notebook back into her backpack and pulling up in knees to sit in what did not look to be a comfortable position.
"Although I think you give me a little too much credit for patience. I told you about my clown-shooting incident, right?"
She tilted her head, patterns forming across her face as they passed streetlamps. "I think you're incredibly patient in all situations not involving circus folk."
Reaching over, he briefly ruffled her hair the way he often did with Parker, a way she was probably too old for. "I think you're very, very creative." He meant it. It struck him that she would probably love Angela.
Hell, she was affable enough that she would probably get along with just about anyone.
What Bones had said the other day, about their friends, ran through his head, but he pushed it aside for now. He had just one important hurdle he planned to get through this weekend, and then maybe he'd get to everything else.
"Listen, Gabs…I don't know what you hoped to do in the next few days, and we can talk about that later. But…if you want…" He was hedging, maybe not wanting to admit even to himself that he'd taken Sweets' advice. "I talked to Parker's mom, and she said we could stop by for a little while in the morning. So you could meet him. If, you know, that's still something you're interested in."
If Gabby was surprised, she disguised it well. But she didn't disguise her excitement. "Of course," she replied vehemently, and he could see her eyes gleaming even in the low light.
Family was important to Gabrielle. This would make her happy. He knew it would make her happy.
Family was important to him, too. So why did this part make him feel so trepidatious?
Maybe because he was worried about all the other questions. Even when he'd talked to Rebecca yesterday evening, uncertainty had permeated her voice. I don't know. How well do you even know this person? She had paused, and he could anticipate what was coming next before she said it. I don't want Parker involved with your father, Seeley. If that's what this is leading to… It had almost been enough to make him forget the whole thing, tell her he'd just see Parker next weekend, as planned.
But he just took a deep breath, and told her the truth. It was just Gabby. There's no way that could hurt Parker. And she'd agreed eventually. Success.
Gabrielle studied him for a moment, and whether it was out of sympathy for his struggle or simple impulsivity, she changed the topic. "Hey." A slow smile. "Maybe by the time I leave, you'll be writing poetry for me."
"Ha!" he snorted. "Sorry babe. I'm not a poet."
"You never know what you might turn out to be," she replied enigmatically, giving him a wink, and he wondered how she so easily transitioned between immature and wise.
He took her to breakfast in the diner in the morning, and they planned a few activities for their short time together. The rest of the meal was spent trading stories and jokes.
"So where's the illustrious Dr. Brennan this weekend?" Gabby asked at one point, scooping up the last of her pancakes.
Booth smirked. "Around. Probably has a couple dates with a few old, dead guys."
She wrinkled her nose and paused before her last bite. "Gross."
"Tell me about it." He sipped his coffee.
"So when's the wedding?" she asked, a smile curling at her lips before she hid them by wiping her mouth with the napkin.
"Hey," he scolded, shaking his fork at her. "You worry about your own wedding. Don't be planning mine."
Her big brown eyes grew round and innocent. "I meant between Dr. Brennan and her old, dead dates." Mischief crept into her voice. "So quick to self-insert."
How did she do that? He tried to force down the flush he felt threatening his face. "Don't get smart with me, Gabrielle Booth." It occurred to him that the use of her name didn't have quite the impact he wanted, and then realized why. "I don't know your middle name."
"Most people don't," she said easily, leaning back in her seat and putting a hand on her full stomach. "It's…old fashioned, sort of." She didn't look…troubled, exactly. But he recognized her moment of pause.
"You're not going to tell me?" he prodded, still thinking she was being bratty and teasing him.
Her eyes flicked up, smile ghosting on her lips. "Henrietta."
Oh. That was the pause. A strange, surreal sense came over him. "After your grandfather."
She nodded. "So I've been told." Her face turned wistful, and her eyes turned down, seeming to struggle for a second. This was the first awkward moment they'd had in their past several weeks of talking on the phone and now, in person.
His father had named Gabby after Pops?? The man who had told him he was a disgrace, kicked him out of his home and told him never to come back? A man who the woman across from him had never met. Jesus. Who was this person, who raised Gabby?
He was at a loss for words for a second, and when they came back he spoke slowly. "You should be proud of that name. You're named after a good man. The best man."
A man who had no clue of her existence.
For a poignant moment he was reminded that despite the easiness that he and Gabby had achieved, there was this strange abyss of ignored history there. Each of them had experiences the other was desperately curious about, but afraid to ask.
It…wasn't time for that. It might never be.
She knew it. She changed the subject gracefully and quickly. "Hey, we should get going, should we? You said Rebecca was expecting us around 10:30, right?"
He nodded slowly. "Right."
While they walked out, he tried to prepare himself for the challenge in front of him, and turn off the part of his brain that was trying to figure out just how Hank would respond, if he told him he had a granddaughter.
"Seeley." His ex greeted him with a cool smile, leaning against the doorjamb.
"Becca. You're looking well."
Typically, their interactions weren't this stilted, but both were now keenly aware of the oddness of this situation.
"Gabrielle, this is Rebecca Stinson, Parker's mother. Rebecca, this is Gabby Booth."
Rebecca looked her up and down, a smile coming to her lips. "Hmm. You look like a Booth, don't you."
Gabby was on her best behavior, and she beamed. "Thank you, ma'am. That's nice of you."
The older woman laughed. "Yup, you're a Booth alright." She shook her hand. "Come on in, have a seat. Park's in his room, I'll get him."
They entered the house and Gabrielle took a seat on the easy chair. Booth whispered to Rebecca briefly, out of Gabby's earshot . "Does Park know that Gabs…?"
"Nope," she whispered. "This one's aaall on you, Seeley."
That's what he was afraid of.
Rebecca disappeared down the hall.
Booth gave Gabby a nervous look, and found her looking completely calm.
"Relax," she said, winking. "Kids love me. They find me relatable."
At that very moment, Parker skidded across the hardwood floor of the hallway and into Booth's arms. "Daaaaddy!"
He lifted him and gave him a bear hug. "Hey there buddy." Anymore, he wanted to hold onto the kid until he squirmed to get away. He could feel Parker's impending grownup-ness with every visit, and he knew it wouldn't be so long from now until Daddy's were always Dads, and these exuberant hugs turned more reserved. But for now, Parker was still a bright, excitable kid, and he tried to enjoy every moment of it.
Upon being dropped back to the floor, the little boy swiveled to the stranger in the room. "Who's she?" Parker asked, staring at Gabby with the complete unabashedness of a child. For the first time, their matching eyes met. So much alike.
Gabby deferred to Booth. Rebecca, who had followed Parker back out to the living room, raised her eyebrows expectantly.
"She's…" Booth hedged. Dare he say it? "This is Gabrielle. She's related to us."
"Oh. Like Brittany and Keith?" Those were Rebecca's sister's kids—Parker's cousins-- and he realized that with Parker's curiosity and persistence, he might not be able to get out of this one.
"No. Gabs here is your aunt."
Parker blinked. "Did she get married to Uncle Jared?"
"NO." The thought was so surreal that it made him explode with the answer before he reeled his horror back in. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Rebecca holding back a laugh. "No, Bub, she's…" He wracked his brain of how to tell him without making his son curious about his grandfather. "She's…"
"Do you like frogs?' The little boy had lost all interest in anything Booth was saying and was leaning on chair beside his new friend Gabrielle. No hi, no how are you. Booth would have to remind him of his manners. Some other time.
Gabby laughed. "Sure, I like all amphibians. Frogs, toads, newts. I used to hunt salamanders in the creek out back of my house."
"You did?" Parker's eyes brightened. "Did you ever catch any?"
"Um, yeah. I was the best salamander-catcher in my whole neighborhood. Better than the boys."
And she was accepted. Just like that.
Booth shook his head in amazement, falling to the couch and watching for a bit as his sister and his son chattered animatedly about all things that could be found in a pond, then about a series of topics that he couldn't quite keep up with. He couldn't believe that he'd been worried about this. He'd forgotten how much simpler it was for kids…kids didn't over-think stuff.
Rebecca sidled in beside him. "Our son's the friendly sort, isn't he?"
"I guess so." He observed for another moment before Parker piped up to the other adults.
"Mom, Aunt Gabby says she knows how to get to the mirror levels on Mario Kart. Can we go to the playroom?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about. But sure." His mother pushed his hair from his face. "Go ahead, Daddy and I will be in to watch you in a minute."
"Cool!" the boy enthused, grabbing Gabby's hand and half-dragging her to the other room.
"Nice to see you too, son," Booth groused good-naturedly at being forgotten so easily, while Rebecca gave him an amused look. "Jeesh. So quickly replaced."
"Well you've already seen all his toys. What fun are you?" she said, smiling and circling the couch. "She seems nice."
He nodded, grabbing a pillow and flipping it in his hands a few times. "She is."
The blonde eased down on the couch beside him. "What are you doing with this girl?"
He sighed. "I don't know. Getting to know her. Trying to be a brother to her."
"Not trying to be a father to her?"
That bothered him, and he glared at her. "Becca."
"I'm sorry. But we both know that sometimes your nobleness gets you into trouble."
"As far as I can tell, she already has a father. A good one."
Her face turned sympathetic. "Damn."
"Yeah well." He tried for a nonchalant shrug that would never fool someone as sharp as Rebecca Stinson.
"This can't be easy on you."
"Nothing worth doing is ever easy."
"Don't minimize it, Seeley." She was quiet for a moment before speaking again. "You know, I want to be supportive of however you choose to handle this situation. But…I don't like bringing people into Parker's life who aren't going to stay there. If this is something that's going to blow up soon…"
Laughter emanated from the other room, along with the electronic sounds of whatever video game Gabby and Parker were playing. It provided a strange counterpoint to the seriousness in Rebecca's tone.
"Beck, I don't know what's going to happen."
She leaned on her elbow, regarding him carefully. "I really hope it's something that is good in your life. You deserve that. Just…be careful."
Another burst of childlike laughter; this had been so easy. In these moments, he wondered if he and Rebecca and Sweets and everybody were just overreacting. Just him and his sister, nothing complicated about that.
"You don't have to worry about me," he told her. And he said it with such conviction that he actually sort of believed it.
After they left Rebecca's place, they were tourists. He took Gabby to the National Gallery of Art and the Veterans Memorial and Dupont Circle. He impressed her with his knowledge of historical facts and was gratified to find someone who balked just as much as he did at the thought of visiting Ford's Theatre. The day was pleasant but tiring, and by the time the sky started to darken their feet were a little sore. She suggested ice cream from one of the stands in the park, and they both got cones and sauntered towards the nearest park bench for a rest.
"I love Parker. He's an awesome kid," she told him, licking the perimeter of the cone to prevent dripping in the warm night.
"Yeah, I sort of think so too," Booth agreed, performing a similar maneuver with his own ice cream. "And he seems to like you too. Maybe the next time you come down, we can plan a little better and go to the Aquarium together. Given your shared affinity for slimy things." He nudged her.
"I'd like that," she agreed, slowing her stride as they approached the bench. The hesitation in her step was telling.
"Something on your mind, Gabs?"
She sat down on the bench. He suddenly felt jittery, and he stayed standing for the moment.
"Sooo. I'm kind of selfish. And sneaky."
"You are, huh?"
"How so?" He asked the question not even really sure he wanted to know now; her tone was worrying him and he just hated for their lovely day to take a turn into tense.
"I didn't just want to come to get my ring and hang out. I wanted to talk to you about something important and wanted to do it while we were together—not on the phone."
The hint of tension in his gut ratcheted up another notch. "Uh oh. Why so serious?"
She jiggled, looking everywhere but him. "Look, I just…you know, I'm really glad you gave me a chance, Seel. I can't even tell you how much I've appreciated having you to talk to. You've just been so great, and…"
"Enough with the buttering. Out with it," he instructed. Drawing it out was not helping him feel better.
Taking a deep breath, she closed her eyes—and opened them. "I want you to come to my wedding."
He should have seen that one coming. He should have known.
"I know," she interrupted. "It's a lot to ask. I…don't presume to know everything you must be feeling and thinking about our father. I can't imagine what it would be like for you to be there and see the family I grew up with. I can't imagine it because we haven't talked about it."
This was too much for him right now. This was…
But she was on a roll, and didn't want to stop until it was all out. "If you can't, I'm not going to blame you. I don't want anything to ruin what we've got here, Seel. But it's going to be such a special day for me, and…I'd like my big brother to be there."
Her voice caught on the words big brother. She was obviously trying to be straightforward, practical. But her face had grown pink, her eyes shiny, and god he hated it when she looked like this…young and vulnerable and needing him.
He sighed, easing onto the bench. "Gabs. You're killing me."
"I know. I'm sorry."
"What you're asking…"
"…Isn't fair. I know. But I want it anyway. And I had to ask."
He wanted to be angry at her for putting him in this position. But now, looking at her, he couldn't bring himself to feel that way. She had been right, that asking him face-to-face was the best way to do this. He wasn't going to do anything in the moment to make that familiar, sweet face cry.
"You don't have to answer now. The wedding's not for two months. Just…think about it."
He didn't respond for a moment.
"Promise?" she begged, and he couldn't let her hanging.
He forced a smile, reached out and squeezed her shoulder. "Yeah. I promise. I'll think about it."
Like he could help it.
A/N: I know, this chap was a little B/B-lite, but it was necessary to get to the good stuff. And I KNOW you want good stuff;)