A/N: Okay, to make up for the fact that it took me so long to update, I've made the last chapter extra long and juicy. Hope you like.
Thanks to mustanggirlz07 for her much needed opinion on something. Thanks as well to all those who've read, reviewed, favorited and or alerted any or all of my stories. I'm addicted to your love.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bones or any of its characters. Maybe I do in an alternate universe, but not in this one.
Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas
Angela followed Bren out of the kitchen, pulling the sleeves of her shirt over her hands. Last thing she wanted was for everyone to focus on her supposed injury rather than the long awaited event about to take place. She took a seat next to Jack, who immediately began to pester her about what happened in the kitchen.
"False alarm," she smiled, wiggling her fingers inches away from his eyes before wrapping her arms around his neck for a quick kiss. "All ten digits are fine and fully functional, thanks for the concern."
"I know how important your fingers are to you, you know - being an artist and all," grinned Hodgins, snaking his arms around her. "Though, just to be sure, maybe we should give your fingers a thorough workout; be absolutely certain that you haven't lost any dexterity."
"As much as I'd love to explore that idea further, right now something is about to happen that you're not going to want to miss," Ange assured him. "And don't ask what it is, because even if I were inclined to spoil the surprise I doubt that you'd believe me."
Jack followed Angela's gaze over to the couch where Brennan and Booth were seated. Bren took a deep breath and handed him a black leather box.
"This is for you Booth." she said as he took the gift she handed him with a question in his eyes.
"Babe, traditionally when you give someone a present they're supposed to open it," he teased. "It adds to the excitement of the whole 'gift receiving' experience."
"It was nicely wrapped," argued Brennan. "But when Angela saw it, she was overcome by curiosity and was compelled to open it."
Booth aimed an interrogative gaze at her, one that made lesser criminals squirm until they were practically shouting out their confessions. Ange herself was starting to feel its effects when she managed to distract him by leading everyone into a "open the box!" chant.
"Alright! Alright, I'll open it," laughed Booth. "You're lucky that I really want to know what my gift is Ange, or else you'd be in trouble."
Booth pried open the box and seemed momentarily stunned at the prize it held inside.
"Wow," he whispered reverently as he stared at the watch. "Is this really mine?"
"Of course it is," replied Brennan. "Why would I give you a gift that isn't meant for you? Do you like it?"
"I love it Bones," said Booth sincerely as he pulled her in for a tender hug and a brief but affectionate kiss. When he finally released her, he let out a whoop of joy and showed off his gift to everyone.
"I got a Rolex!" Booth cried out as he held aloft his latest treasure. "I got a real Rolex! Not a Rolox, or a Polex but an actual Rolex! This is amazing. It's gorgeous babe. Wow, it looks like the guy version of the one you have Bones."
"It is the masculine version of the model that I was given by my publishers," she replied. When he started to pull the watch out of its housing, Bren stopped him by placing her hand over his. "Wait Booth...."
Angela felt a small tinge of fear as Bren prevented Booth from seeing the inscription on the back of the watch. She held her breath, hoping that Bren didn't change her mind.
"Before you try on your watch, there's something I need to say." said Brennan, uncharacteristically nervous.
"Okay...." replied Booth, concern and curiosity warring over the chiseled planes of his face.
Brennan briefly closed her eyes and took a deep breath. When she opened her eyes again, her gaze locked on to Booth's. He could sense her agitation and gave her a reassuring smile, put aside the watch and took her hands in his. She returned his smile and it gave her the fortitude to continue.
"Booth, you came into my life when I held the belief that certain ideas were absolute truths. I was once convinced that casual relationships were preferable to more intimate relationships. For me, my career took precedence over any relationship, even any friendships that I may have had. Close relationships require maintenance, which - given my demanding career, was something that I was neither able nor willing to give the necessary effort to. Since I was abandoned by my family at a young age, family was something didn't think I needed. And then you came along, and I began to recognize that the people I worked with, you and our "squint squad" had become my makeshift family. You helped me to see that you all supported, accepted and cared for me for who I am, just as I care for all of you. You even helped me to find the family I'd lost, and if not for you the relationship between my father, my brother and I most likely would never have been restored. And now, you and I have formed a family of our own together with Parker and our unborn child. Because of you I now know I'm not alone and I never have to feel alone again.
"Another idea you've helped to clarify for me was love. I believed that love was nothing more than the delusion created when our biological impulse to procreate intersected with becoming acquainted with a suitable mate. In the past I have stated that a truly rational mind would never succumb to such a delusion, and yet I envied those who believed that love was eternal and transcendent. You promised me that one day, I would believe in those ideas as well. As you have demonstrated time and time again you are a man of your word. I can now say that I have first hand experience in the transcendency of love, because the love I feel for you transcends description or explanation. It transcends the differences between us, and I feel closer to you than I have to any person that I have ever known. You've shown me love, patience, understanding, loyalty and constancy. You've changed my mind on so many ideals that I had held on to for so long, and there is one more belief that I no longer hold true to, one that I want to tell you about right now.
"I used to believe that marriage was an archaic institution that treats women as property passed on from father to husband in a blatantly patriarchal society. I believed that it hobbled personal rights and freedoms. I now believe that marriage should only be defined by the people in the relationship, and that it's something that shouldn't be entered into without reason. Booth, you've given me so much that words seem inadequate to convey how thankful I am to have you in my life. You've even given me a reason to want to get married."
With a loving smile, Brennan released her hands from his grasp and took the watch from the box. Booth seemed mesmerized by her actions as she turned the watch inside out and showed him the inscription on the back. As Booth stared at the words, Brennan left the couch and descended on one knee before him.
"Bones, what're you doing?" asked a stunned Booth.
"This is traditionally the position that one adopts when proposing," Brennan explained patiently. "And I'm proposing to you Booth - marry me. I want you to marry me, not because I'm pregnant with your child and the social mores that you were raised with tells you that it's the right thing to do, and not because it's a viable legal strategy in a custody case, but because you feel as prepared as I do to formalize our commitment to each other. I want us to get married not because we feel the need to, but because we want to. I want to make that promise with you, that we will be there for each other in sickness and in health, for richer and for poorer until death do us part. I'm still uneasy with the idea of vowing that we will love each other for the rest of our lives because no one can predict the future and promising to love a person twenty, thirty, forty years into the future seems unrealistic. But as I've said - I didn't believe in love until I met and fell in love with you. I've never trusted or loved anyone as much as I love you, and I've decided that I can no longer plan my future anticipating a negative outcome. If there is anyone that I could envision remaining in love with twenty, thirty and even forty years into the future - it's you Booth. I know that exchanging vows doesn't necessarily guarantee a lifetime of happiness, however, if we base our marriage on the principles of our partnership - then whatever compromises we need to make we'll make, we will continue to keep our lines of communication open, we continue to strive to support and understand each other and we - as you say - 'balance each other out', then we stand a very good chance of continuing our marriage into our geriatric years. So, Booth - will you marry me?"
It seemed as though everyone in the room were holding their collective breaths as they awaited Booth's answer.
Booth paused, seeming to consider Brennan's proposal when when he suddenly got up off the couch, reached into his pocket for something before easing himself down on one knee beside Brennan. He took a deep breath, opened the ring box he had in his pocket and presented Brennan with a ring. It was an art deco vintage white gold engagement ring with cast and die struck detailing with a filigree pattern, the shank tapered so that the one karat diamond in the center of the ring was set low and square with the ring rather than jutting out. The stone itself was round and cushion cut and appeared to be around half a karat.
"I'll marry you if you marry me." Booth half teased.
"Booth, you didn't need to - " Brennan protested, but Booth stopped her with a look.
"Temperance," Booth began, his voice already filled with emotion. "This ring belonged to my grandmother. This isn't the one Pops gave her when he proposed, that one was lost a long time ago. This one is the one he gave her on their fiftieth anniversary. This commemorated half a century of love. Pops said when he gave this ring to Nana, he didn't give her a flowery speech, he just said 'I told you so.' You see, Pops knew when he met Nana that they would be together for the rest of their lives. She didn't believe him. She said 'how do you know I'll be able to stand you that long?' He said 'I just know'. He was so brazen, saying this to her on their second date that they ran off to Atlantic City that night to get married before he had to leave for the war. They wrote each other every day, and when he got back, they immediately started their family. Times were tough, and when they had trouble making ends meet, Nana made pops sell her ring. He promised that he'd get her the ring of her dreams on their fiftieth anniversary. She said 'fifty years? that's a heck of a long time to wait for a ring. What makes you think that we'll still be together in fifty years?' He said 'I just know'. They had some good times, and some bad times in those fifty years, but everything that they went through, they went through it together. Nana passed away just after Parker was born. God I wish that he'd had a chance to get to know her, and if you met her, I have no doubt that you two would have loved each other.
"Before she passed away, Nana gave me this ring and told me the story about her and Pops. She told me that I should only give this ring to the woman who made me feel the way Pops made her feel. That this ring belonged only on the finger of the woman who I know I'd still be in love with twenty, thirty, forty and even fifty years into the future. I knew, from the minute that I first saw you, that someday I'd be giving you this ring. Someday I'd convince you of what I've known all along, that we were meant to be together. I know that the idea of love lasting a lifetime is something that you're still not sold on, but I will convince you, even if I have to do it one day at a time for the rest of our lives. So what do you say Temperance, will you marry me?"
"I asked you first." she laughingly reminded him.
"Yes Temperance, I'll marry you." he replied, playfully holding out his hand to her so that she could slip his watch over his wrist.
"And I accept your proposal Booth." Brennan smiled, her eyes brimming with happy tears while Booth slipped her ring on her finger. They leaned in toward each other, and their lips met in a gentle kiss filled with love and promise. Neither of them seemed to notice the the celebration erupting around them as their friends and family cheered for their engagement. There were hugs, kisses and high fives exchanged, not that Brennan and Booth seemed conscious of this. In their kiss, they were shielded in their own privacy bubble, giving them a little bit of time to brace themselves for the onslaught of well wishes. In that kiss, in that moment, it was just about them and the future of love and happiness they were about to share.
All too soon, their kiss ended, and they touched their foreheads together before separating to welcome everyones well wishes. Parker got to them first, giving his dad a hug before turning to Brennan and informing his unborn sibling of their parents engagement. Max followed, giving Booth a great big bear hug while Hank gave Brennan a gentle embrace and left a kiss on her cheek. They all lined up to give the happy couple a hug and their congratulations, while Ange stood back from the crowd, discreetly wiping away happy tears. She couldn't believe how happy she was for them, how relieved that after all they had been through, they had found their way to this point. When the crowd around Brennan and Booth dissipated, Angela made her way over to them, threw her arms around both of them and told them for the second time that morning how happy she was for them.
"You know I'm going to plan the wedding, right?" she declared, giving them a defiant look as if daring them to argue with her.
"Well Ange, I was hoping to have a small wedding, and I'd rather invite no more than just the people in this room as a matter of fact," replied Brennan, looking to Booth for support. "Unless you'd like a more elaborate wedding Booth."
"Nah," Booth agreed, giving Bren a reassuring smile. "Small is good. I like the idea of just inviting everyone that's here. Only the people that are important to us should be there."
"We could have the wedding at our house next week," suggested Brennan. "Or I'm sure that if we spoke to Sid, we could hold the wedding reception at -"
"Bite your tongue Brennan," Ange laughingly scolded. "You're not having your wedding at a chinese food restaurant, or at your house. Not after all we've done to get you two together-"
"What do you mean 'all you've done to get us together'?" questioned Booth, being far too observant for Angela's liking.
"I just meant....."Ange paused, cursing herself for speaking without a filter again. "You two deserve a wedding befitting your romance. Something with a little thought and care put into it. Don't worry your pretty little heads about a thing. I'll take care of it. Besides, you two have something more important to worry about. More to the point, a little someone to worry about."
She gently patted Brennan's presently flat belly before Wendell and Zack came by with tray of mugs filled with Hank's hot chocolate for a toast.
"Okay everyone," Angela called out, waiting until she got everyone's attention. "Raise your mugs! To Brennan and Booth - may the two of you receive all the happiness you deserve, to family - the ones you choose and the ones you're given, and to the best Christmas ever - may there be many more to come!"
"Cheers!" they all exclaimed in one voice, clinking their mugs together and reveling in the joy that they were all sharing at that moment. This Christmas may have started a little rocky, but ended just as it should have.
And now our little story has come to a close
What adventures lie ahead, not even the author knows
One thing's for sure with the JustUs league and Lady Fate got the job done
It was a little rough at first but in the end they won
They have some time to revel in their Victory
But what's next for BB and the JustUs league, you'll soon see.....