Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, do not own Bones or any of its wonderful characters. The only things I can take credit for are this plot line, and of course the character of Olwyn :)
Chapter One: Reckless Mistake
It was seven o'clock when I awoke that morning. It was the first morning in two and a half years that I was still lying in bed when my alarm clock went off. I set it for seven a.m. every night, in the hopes that one of these mornings I'd need it. Since the move, my sleep pattern, or lack thereof, was less than manageable. Awakening too early, nodding off far too late – it was the result of a number of contributing factors. An exhausting result. Maybe things were finally settling down, but then again maybe they weren't and this was just a once-off. An extra hour of sleep would be a nice bonus, but if I never got it back again it wouldn't trouble me too much. It was a small price to pay for my new life.
The one downside of waking that bit later was that I didn't have as much time to ease myself out of my slumber before getting to my morning routine. It was made slightly easier by the fact that there was more sunlight trickling through the gaps in the curtains, lighting the room, than there would have been an hour earlier. At first it stung my eyelids, prickling at them, daring them to open, and then as soon as they relented, singed my retinas. While I didn't exactly appreciate this, it did prevent me from nodding off again, as sometimes happened on darker mornings.
So eventually I pulled away the warm duvet, climbing out of my remarkably empty queen-size bed. Rarely did anyone else ever occupy the space beside me, and when that happened there was usually plenty of room still to spare. Even when she spread out her arms and legs as wide as possible (this seemed to be the only position in which she slept comfortably), Olwyn never filled it fully. That wasn't surprising, though. She was, after all, less than three feet tall.
But last night wasn't one of those nights when my daughter decided she needed my company for the night. She was pretty independent, like myself, and enjoyed sleeping in her own bedroom. She'd recently made the transition from the crib that still stood a few feet away from my bed to her own, 'big girl' bed and was very proud of that fact. It was no wonder that she was less and less eager to share a bed, or even a bedroom, with me. Having her own room meant my bed was no longer a tempting alternative to her crib anymore. As much as I loved to see her becoming her own person, I did sort of miss the sound of her tiny and yet perfectly balanced and rhythmic breathing lulling me to sleep at night. I wasn't as accustomed to sleeping alone as I once was.
I decided to by-pass Olwyn's bedroom as I walked slightly dozily along the hallway, heading straight for the kitchen. It was a Saturday, a day away from work, an opportunity to spend quality time with the daughter I felt as if I was neglecting during the week. However, part of that neglect involved disturbing her sleep at seven each morning to dress her and feed her before her nanny arrived. Though she didn't know life any other way, I still felt she deserved a lie-in when I could give it to her. I set about making a pot of coffee, which would hopefully eradicate my fatigue. It was something I could have done with my eyes closed at this stage. Between raising a small child alone, moving to a foreign country and heading up Ireland's first and still only Forensic Anthropology Department, I'd needed a hell of a lot of coffee to keep me both awake and sane. It had been worth the numerous trips to University College Dublin's Insomnia Cafe and the two coffee pots I'd managed to break, though. I'd helped solve over 20 murders so far in my time in Dublin, written another book, and most importantly, started the greatest adventure of my life so far – raising a daughter. Maybe it was the coffee that had disrupted my sleep pattern. Maybe, but then maybe it was the stress of the events that had led to me becoming a single mother living thousands of miles from home. I preferred the idea of the coffee – there was a scientific basis for that keeping me up at night.
I put two slices of Brennan's bread (I was slightly amused to find that was the most popular brand of bread here, while Olwyn has since become convinced that it was named after us) into the toaster, then went to retrieve my laptop from the study. I let it boot up on the kitchen table while I prepared my breakfast. I stared out the large kitchen window of my fourth-floor apartment, looking out onto Dun Laoghaire harbour. There was a few people already out for a morning walk along the pier, while the HSS ferry was pulling in, nearing the end of the first journey from Holyhead, Wales, of the weekend. Within the hour, there would be an abundance of UK cars driving through the streets of Dun Laoghaire, Blackrock and Glasthule. No one from the area would be surprised to see so many unusual license plates around the place all of a sudden – it was a clockwork routine we were all familiar with.
I loved Dun Laoghaire; it was nothing like DC, but it felt like home to me. Olwyn had never known another home but this small town – I wouldn't have it any other way. Ireland was a very, very different place to the US, though not how you'd expect. While a large proportion of the small island was made up of sprawling green fields and farms, the majority of people lived in Dublin, the capital city, and its surrounding area, which was anything but farm-like. It was like America in many respects, but on a smaller scale. It was things like the fact that every small town was within a few hours' drive, not plane journey, of every other town, or the fact that there were national, not regional, news bulletins every night that lasted less than a half hour for the entire country's news, that just made it seem much more close-knit, less detached than the States, which was arguably more like a continent than a country.
My thoughts were interrupted by the sound of my toast popping behind me. I spread strawberry jam on it before pouring my coffee. I sat down at the table, opening up the online edition of the Irish Independent newspaper, as I did every Saturday. I read it for about a half hour, before a familiar voice drew me away from it.
"Morning Mommy." Olwyn said sleepily, rubbing her sleepy brown eyes as she toddled into the kitchen. I wasn't expecting her to wake of her own accord, but then again I wasn't exactly surprised. She was much more of a morning person than I ever was. She didn't need guilt or worry to rob her sleep early in the morning; it was just how she operated. I hoped that this habit would stay with her as she got older, as it would certainly make school-runs a lot easier for the two of us.
"Come here, sweetie." I said, lifting her up to sit on my lap. She rested her head against my chest, her deep black-brown curls tickling my chin. "Still tired, huh?"
"Nuh-uh, Mommy." She denied, sitting up, though as she said it she yawned widely. I smiled – it was as if being tired at half seven on a Saturday morning was a sign of weakness to her. She had no idea.
"Well that's good, because do you know where we're going today?" I asked, pushing a lock of hair out of her face. She looked up at me with those massive brown eyes.
"No, where we go today?" She asked, suddenly excited.
"We're going to go get our dresses for Aunt Angela and Uncle Hodgins' wedding." I said with a smile, which she reflected right back at me.
"Yay!" She exclaimed. She was the co-flower girl, along with Angela and Hodgins' one year old daughter Genevieve, who wouldn't really be able to do the job alone. They'd been engaged when they'd discovered that Angela was pregnant with their twins, Genevieve and Noah, and so had decided to wait until the two were old enough to play a part in the wedding to get married. Noah was the ring-bearer, with the help of Hodgins' 5 year old nephew. I d was honoured when they asked Olwyn and me to be a flower-girl and the Maid of Honour, respectively. It made sense, given that I had played that role at their last wedding, but it was still nice to be asked given that I was living so far away now. Rather than having all the bridesmaids wearing the same dresses, Angela had decided to let them all choose their own, as long they were all roughly the same shade of crimson red. The same applied to Olwyn and Genevieve's dresses. The wedding was in about a month, a few days before Christmas, but this was the first opportunity I'd had to get into Dublin to go dress-shopping. Olwyn was really looking forward to it – she couldn't wait for the wedding, either. She'd never been to the States before, and had only actually met the Hodgins family once in person, when they had visited in the Spring. I'd had my reasons for not visiting sooner.
Spurred on by the prospect of the trip into town and the chance to try on dresses, Olwyn hurriedly ate her Ready Brek, a form of children's oatmeal which she just adored, and rushed me along as I dressed her.
"C'mon, Mommy, we gotta get to the dresses!" She told me as I got dressed myself. She sat on the bed, playing with her doll as she bossed me about. She had a mind of her own, that was for sure.
It wasn't long, thanks to Olwyn's efforts, before we were walking along Marine Road, down to the bus stop from which the 46A bus would take us to Dublin city. I did have a car, but parking in, say Arnotts on Henry Street, meant that if we ended up buying our dresses on Grafton Street, we'd have to walk all the way back to the car. For those not familiar with the layout of Dublin, I can assure you that it's a long enough walk for a two-year old who refuses to sit in a stroller anymore. By contrast, there are bus stops all over the city, usually within a few minutes of you at any one time. Plus, Olwyn loved going on the bus, because it meant she could sit beside me and talk as much as she liked – something she loved to do – without me complaining that she was distracting me from driving. She had things figured out pretty well, all right.
And she did talk, for effectively the entire forty-five minute journey. Most of it was about the wedding, asking about how the whole event would happen. She'd never been to a wedding before, and so was extremely curious to see what it would be like. She was a very inquisitive little girl, and within reason I always answered all her questions. She retained information like a sponge would retain water, just lapping it all up. She could already read basic sentences, and pointed out the names of places on signs as we passed them whenever we were out and about. By 18 months, she could name practically every brand of car and in most cases the model names too. Right now she was most interested in the bilingual signage – everything was in both English and Irish. I felt bad, because I couldn't help her at all and she seemed somewhat frustrated with me. I promised her I'd ask some of my colleagues to teach me some Irish and she perked up. She didn't really understand that I hadn't lived in Dublin for my entire life, as she had.
"But Mommy, if you not from here, where you live before?" She asked me, when I explained why I didn't speak any Irish.
"In America, Olwyn. Where the wedding is going to be." I explained.
"But...you say that is lots of time from here." She seemed confused.
"Yes, it's a very long plane journey. Seven hours."
"Then how you see your Mommy?" That almost brought a tear to my eye. I hadn't exactly explained to her where my parents were; the question hadn't arisen before. The longer she didn't understand what a grandparent was, the better. Max hadn't a clue that I had a daughter, though I intended on telling him before the wedding. As for my Mom, well I felt the same about the concept of death as I did about grandparents with relation to her comprehension of it. She was too young for that.
"I don't see my Mommy, Olwyn. She's not around anymore."
"Why?" Her favourite word.
"She just...isn't, okay? I'll explain it to you another time." She didn't seem satisfied with my answer, but knew I wasn't going to elaborate.
"Mommy, do you have a...Daddy?" I nodded.
"Yes." Well, I wasn't going to lie to her.
"But he's a lot of time away, too?" I nodded again.
"He goes to the wedding?"
"I don't think so, Ol."
"He's not invited. He doesn't know Aunt Angela and Uncle Hodgins." Well, in fact, I wasn't certain of this. He did know them, working at the Jeffersonian, so maybe he would be invited.
"Okay...but do you go see him when we there? I can see him?" I sighed. I knew she'd ask me this.
"Maybe, honey, maybe."
"Okay." She nodded. "Mommy?"
"Yes, Olwyn?" I was hoping she'd take us off the current topic.
"I see my Daddy?" Dammit.
"No, I don't think so, honey."
"But I have one, a Daddy?" Gingerly, I nodded. "Why he not here?"
"That's...complicated, Olwyn." I could feel the stares of other passengers, inadvertently eavesdropping on my daughter's rather loud questions.
"Is he like your Mommy? Not around no more?"
"No, he's not like that."
"He loves me? Like you love me?"
"Yes, more than anything in the entire world, Olwyn." He would if he knew you existed, that is.
"Good, 'cos I love him." My heart broke for my little girl. This was my fault. "You love him?"
"...Yes. I love your Daddy." More than he ever knew, and ever would know.
"He love you?" I restrained myself from shaking my head, nodding it feebly, even though I knew I was lying. "That's good."
"It is, sweetheart." I hugged her close. This just wasn't fair on anyone, including myself. I hated having to lie to my child.
"I think bout him lots." She said quietly.
"Really?" I was surprised by this.
"Yeah, but I not know how he look, so it's hard." She looked down. "You know what he look like?"
"Yes, very much so." I bit my lip.
"You have picture?" I shook my head, lying. "That's okay. But you tell me?"
"Olwyn, I really don't want to talk about your Daddy, okay?"
"Why not?" My eyes started to well up. "He not a nice person?"
"He's the nicest man who ever lived."
"Then why you so sad?" Her big eyes looking into mine bore the answer. They were his eyes.
"Because it's a long time since I saw your Daddy. He was very sick the last time we talked."
"Sick? Like a cold?" She was so innocent.
"No, his head was hurt, Olwyn. He was just...very sick."
"Okay." She seemed to sense I really didn't want to talk about her Dad anymore. "I love you, Mommy." She hugged me and placed a kiss on my cheek. I smiled.
"I love you Olwyn. And I promise you, your Daddy does too. He just can't see you right now, okay?"
"I understand Mommy. Like I can't see the stars right now, but I will sometime, right?" I couldn't honestly promise her that, and she'd never forget my answer to this question.
"You'll see him." She seemed satisfied.
Yes, she would definitely see him, but whether or not she would know he was her father remained to be seen. Angela and Hodgins had used the same logic by which I'd been selected to be the Maid of Honour to choose the Best Man, so I knew for a fact that her Dad would be at that wedding.
I wasn't sure whether that was a good thing, or a bad thing. On the one hand, there was no way he could ever know about Olwyn – he'd never loved me, but one way I could ensure he never would be to tell him I'd hidden his daughter from him for two years. He'd treasure her too much – he'd never forgive me for it and any hope we ever had of restoring our relationship to anywhere near its former glory would go up in flames.
However, Olwyn was his daughter. She was clearly aware of the fact that her father was absent from her life, and it was having a much more profound effect on her than I'd ever anticipated. This had never been something she'd shown interest in before, so I was definitely taken aback to hear she thought about him. She had absolutely no idea what she was missing, not having him around. I knew what I told her was true – her Daddy would certainly love her more than anything else if he had any idea that she existed. He would be a fantastic father to her; I knew this because I'd seen him with his son.
The thought of him finally holding her in his arms both warmed and broke my heart at the same time. The reunion would definitely be positive for both of them, at first, but I also knew what separation from his own son had done to him. I wasn't in a position to uproot myself and Olwyn to move back to him, and neither was he. The distance would kill him and she would never be able to get her head around it. What if he fought for her, for custody? Olwyn was settled here; she was going to start pre-school this coming Autumn. This was her home, the only home she'd ever known. A transatlantic relationship with her father and a possible custody battle over her between the two of us wouldn't do her any good. She didn't need her world to be turned upside down by my reckless mistake.
But then again, it was my reckless mistake that made this world her reality. Who was to say it was the right one for her? I looked at her big brown eyes, and there I found my answer.
A/ N – Just a few notes I need to make on this one:
a) Brennan left DC shortly after Booth woke up from his coma, around the time she would have gone to South America. However, she got a job offer in Ireland instead... It was originally going to be set in London, but we have no forensic anthropologists here, plus I know my way around the country pretty well so it's really easy to write about it accurately and naturally!
b) Angela and Hodgins got back together shortly after the End in the Beginning (Season Four finale).
c) Booth's tumour was only detected a few weeks later than in the original canon - allowing more to happen before he told her he'd changed his mind...
So, do you think I should continue this? It'll get a lot more interesting as the plot thickens, I assure you...
Reviews are very welcome, as always – positive and negative of course!