Okay, I know I said there would be at least two more chapters, but I decided to wrap it up with this one. I hope you won't be disappointed! There were a few other ideas I had for an ending, but when I wrote this, it just felt right to me. I hope you will agree! Thanks for reading, and I hope you will continue to read my stories!
"God, Gram! I can't believe that all of that happened, and I never knew about it. How do you go on after something like that?" Lauren asked.
Brennan shrugged, "You just do."
"Though it was difficult," she admitted.
"How long were you in the hospital?"
"Including the days that I was in a coma, two weeks. Every day, your grandfather asked the doctor if he could take me home. He promised to tend to me around the clock and hire a nurse if necessary. Of course, the doctor didn't give in. I guess that Booth just thought if I was home, he could make everything right."
"Yeah, that sounds like Pops," Lauren said with a smile.
"So, instead, he made sure that I had a steady parade of visitors."
October 18, 2016
"Hi, baby," Booth said, leaning down to kiss his wife.
"Hi, Booth. Where are the kids?"
"They are with your dad."
"But there is someone here to see you," Booth said with a broad smile.
"Who?" Brennan asked curiously.
"You can come in now!" Booth shouted.
A woman with shoulder length curly blond hair walked tentatively through the doorway. She was quite beautiful, really, but her pale aqua colored eyes were her most striking feature. It was her eyes that stirred something in Brennan's memory.
"Sarah?" she whispered.
The woman in front of her nodded.
"The FBI looked for her when we realized who had Natalie, in case he came after her next," Booth explained.
"They wouldn't tell me what happened, but then the story was on the news. The FBI finally told me everything, well almost everything. The day that you "surrendered", they called me to tell me he'd released your little girl, but he had you. I didn't find out until three days ago that he had you."
"Sarah called me to see how you were doing. When I told her you were in the hospital, she asked if she could visit," Booth interjected, desperately hoping that he'd made the right decision in telling Sarah to come.
A weighty silence hung between the two women.
Sarah broke the silence, "I shouldn't have come. I'm sorry, Temperance. I'll just -."
"No!" Bones said more loudly than she'd intended, "please, stay."
Sarah smiled slightly and took a seat near the foot of Brennan's bed, "I am so sorry, Tempe. You saved my life, and it almost cost you yours – and your daughter's."
Sarah let out a sob; one that Booth suspected had been building for many, many years.
"Please don't cry. I only did what should have been done – what needed to be done."
"No," Sarah said vehemently, rising abruptly for her chair, "you showed courage that I didn't have."
Now, it was Brennan's turn for tears, "I should have acted much sooner, but I was scared and selfish."
Sarah shook her head, "You were all I had. If you hadn't spoken up, I would have ended up like those other girls."
Bones reached for Sarah's hand and squeezed it. Together, they cried over their lost childhoods.
When the tears stopped, Booth said, "I will let you two be alone."
Booth placed a soft kiss on her forehead as she quietly whispered, "Thank you, baby."
When Booth left, Bones said, "I have always wondered what happened to you. I hoped that you were able to return to your mother."
Sarah shook her head, "Mom never got it together enough to get me back. She couldn't stay clean long enough."
"I'm sorry. What happened after we left the Rosses?"
Sarah proceeded to tell Bones the story of the last twenty years of her life. After being removed from the Ross's home, Sarah was turned out of home after home, some for "acting out sexually" and others for being "difficult". At sixteen, after being in seven homes in four years and deemed too difficult to place, she was moved to a group home for teenage girl. To escape the violent environment of the group, she started taking drugs. The next four years of her life were a downward spiral of addiction. On the eve of her twenty-first birthday, she was arrested for possession and sentenced to rehab.
"One of the women who worked there – Carly – took an interest in helping me. When I got out of rehab she made sure that I wasn't using, went to work, and kept seeing my therapist. It was a long road back, but I think I am better because of it."
Bones nodded, blinking back tears at the thought of what Sarah, who'd been like something of a little sister to her, had been through, "What are you doing now? Where are you living?"
"I am social worker, and I live outside Boston. I went back to school a year after I finished the rehab."
"That's great, Sarah."
"Yeah, not a best selling author, but I enjoy what I do."
"That's important, very important," Bones replied.
"Yeah. I always knew that you would do something great. You were so smart, always reading. I've read all of your books. And, of course, there is the work that you do with the FBI. Your husband told me a little bit about it."
"Your work is important too. I am sure that you are really making a difference in the lives of the people you help."
"I hope so," Sarah said, reaching for the picture on Brennan's bedside table.
Booth had brought the photo in right after Bones was admitted. It was an older photo of Parker and Natalie from two Christmases ago, but he knew that it was one of Bones' favorites. Something about the photo really seemed to capture that special bond between Parker and Natalie.
"Oh, I didn't know you had two children!" Sarah surprised.
"Yes, well, Parker is my stepson, but he lives with us. His mother died a few months before Natalie was born. I love him like he is my own child."
"He was lucky to have you and your husband," Sarah remarked.
"Yes, I suppose he was."
Sarah reached into her bag and pulled out a small satiny drawstring bag, "This is for your daughter. I am sorry that I don't have anything for Parker."
"That's okay, I am sure he won't mind," Bones said, "Thank you."
"I should getting going and let you get some rest."
"Oh, okay. Thank you for coming. Where are you staying while you are in D.C.?"
"I am staying at the Comfort Inn Downtown."
"You are welcome to stay at my home if you would like to spend some time in the city."
"Oh, thank you, but I leave tomorrow. My flight is at noon."
"Have a safe trip home then," Bones reached for Sarah's hand, "keep in touch, okay?"
"I will," Sarah said, embracing Brennan.
As Sarah walked out the door of her room, Bones contemplated how her life could have veered off the path as Sarah had. Bones reached for the photo of her children and smiled at the two pairs of nearly identical brown eyes looking back at her – the same brown eyes that shone with love when she woke up beside the man to whom they belonged each morning. Booth always said that things happened for a reason, fate and all that mumbo jumbo. Was it fate that cruelly tore a twelve year old girl away from her mother and put her in the hands of a monster? Was it fate that had separated her from everyone and everything she knew and loved at fifteen? As those two questions loomed in her mind, the door opened.
If there was fate, this was hers – to be loved by a wonderful man and to love him in return. Their love was a generous love, one that had enabled her to open her heart to so many others in her life. It was an eternal love that would never extinguish, even if either of them ceased to walk the earth.
****** THE END ******
Thanks to everyone who stuck with me for the entire journey!