Epilogue: The Woman in it for the Long Haul
It was one of those days in late August when you know that summer's coming to an end, but it's just too hot for it to really feel true. The days were subtly starting to get shorter, and everywhere you turned, you were being reminded of a back-to-school sale at some store or another. It was the time of year when summer lost its magic, when you were ready to trade in swimming pools, lightening bugs and sandals for the coziness of bulky sweaters, hot cider and pumpkin patches. It was not the time of year to be outside. It was the time of year to retreat back into your houses, to allow the miracle of central air conditioning to see you through until Fall. Everybody knew it.
Everybody, it seemed, except for the unlikely group of people huddled around a park picnic table piled high with gifts and melting ice cream cake. Nothing could have kept them inside on this day. No, this was the day that, against all odds, Angie "Shadow" Brennan turned seven-years-old. And there wasn't a single member of her cobbled-together family that was going to miss it.
She had never had a birthday party before. A few weeks ago, her mama had asked what kind of party she wanted, and she didn't even know how to answer. At first she was afraid that her mother would think she was a very strange girl, not knowing how to answer such an easy question, but then her mama said that she wouldn't know how to answer that question either. But that it was okay. Because they had Angela.
Angela said they should have a fairy party, and Angie thought that was a good idea. That was why she had her face painted with pretty sparkles...Angela said that fairies sparkled. Her mama said that fairies didn't exist, but that they wouldn't tell Angela. They didn't want to ruin it for her. Angie was glad they hadn't, because she decided that she liked sparkling. She also liked wearing her pretty pink wings, and she wondered if she might be able to wear them on the first day of school. Also, her hair was the best it had ever been, because Auntie Cam's Michelle had come over and added pink and silver ribbons to her braids. Mama said that she looked like a very authentic fairy. Angie didn't tell her that she didn't think you could look like an authentic version of something that didn't exist. Her mama was taking a lot of pictures, and Angie didn't want to ruin it for her.
After they had done all of the birthday party things that Angie hadn't known about at all- songs, presents, candles- she pulled on the shiny pink knee pads her Parker had given her and took off with him to play soccer. A few minutes later, she snuck back over to the table to grab the present from her Booth. It was a magic wand, just like the ones they had in Harry Potter. A soccer-playing fairy, she decided, needed a wand. She ran back toward Parker, but when she was half-way there, she turned and looked back at all of the people who came to her very first birthday party.
There were so many of them, and she hadn't even known them last year. She didn't like to think about last year. So instead she thought about Hodgins, who had told her that she didn't have to wear the bad man's necklace. And Angela, who laughed all the time and who made everything a party...who painted butterflies onto walls and sparkles onto seven-year-olds. She laughed at Sweets, who was making funny faces. He had told her about the Ewoks, and she thought she would like to have one as a pet. She thought about Auntie Cam, who was so pretty and so nice; and Michelle, who had spent five hours making her braids look pink and silver. She smiled at Miss Caroline, who was always watching, even though she pretended not to; and she waved at her grandpa, who told her how much he loved her, and who always called her 'princess.' She looked at her Booth, with his arm around her mama and his plan to stay forever. He spent the night at their house sometimes, and Angie was glad. Sometimes it was still scary to be in that house, and Angie was happy her mama wasn't always sleeping alone.
Her mama. When she was blowing out her candles, Angela said that she should make a wish. But she didn't. She'd always wished for a nice mama, who loved her and fed her and read her stories. Who would explain to her why you saw the sun in the morning and the moon at night and how to go the fastest way to the swings. A mama who didn't yell, or hit, or burn. Who always woke up in time to take her to school. Who always kissed her goodnight before bed. She had gotten that wish, so Angie decided that she wouldn't make any more. She didn't want to be greedy with her wishes.
"Shadow, come on!"
And she turned and ran to her Parker, who was always waiting. She wasn't going to talk today. She didn't know words that were good enough.
It was dark by the time they returned to Brennan's apartment. The kids were exhausted from too much sugar and too much soccer, and they had both fallen asleep in the car. Brennan carried Angie, fairy wings and all, to her room, as Booth zombie-walked Parker to the bed they had set up for him in Brennan's office.
They met back up in her bedroom, and Booth watched her slip on her little silk nightgown before backing her up against the armoire to kiss her. He found that he never got tired of kissing her, never stopped feeling the thrill that he actually could. She leaned her head back and sighed as he trailed his lips softly down her neck.
"You know," he whispered, "it's creepy that you still live here."
She moaned, and then asked in the breathy tone he'd come to love, "Why?"
He scoffed, but he didn't stop kissing her, never stopped touching her. "Because you were nearly murdered by a serial killer here. I had to clean up your blood."
"Mmmm...," she was distracted by his hands, "...was just a head wound."
He returned his kisses to her lips. "Don't you think it traumatizes Angie?"
"No," she said, taking her turn to place her lips gently on his neck, "Angie seems to be handling it quite well."
He groaned as her nails scraped across his back. "Well, it traumatizes me."
Brennan took his hand and walked backward toward the bed, pulling him down with her. "Now that you mention it," she said, taking his head in her hands, "it might be necessary to seek out alternate living arrangements."
"Oh yeah," he rolled his hips against hers, "and why is that?"
"Neither of our apartments has enough bedrooms for both Angie and Parker to have one. I would be willing to give up my office, but given your stated opinion that my home is now 'creepy,' I think we should probably look for another place to live once we're married."
And she still knew how to stop his heart. All of Booth's movements stilled, and pulled up on his elbows to look down at her. "Once we're married?"
She smiled up at him a bit shyly. "Why, don't you want to get married?"
Booth stood up and raked his hand through his hair before turning to glare at her. "Okay, who are you and what have you done with the love of my life?"
She sat up on the bed and pulled her knees to her chest, rolling her eyes at him.
He came to sit beside her, pulling her close. "Seriously, Bones, what's all this about? You've always been pretty clearly anti-marriage."
She rested her head on his shoulder. "Not true Booth. I just thought that you shouldn't get married without a reason."
"And now you've found a reason?"
"Marriage is simply a contract, a piece of paper...but so is a birth certificate, and I've seen how much that has mattered to Angie. And, well, there's Angie. I can't really forget what happened with Hacker, and you're her family, and if anything were to ever happen to me, I don't want there to be any question that she belongs with you. Marriage would certainly help make that true."
"So this is about Angie?" His tone was gentle.
And hers was honest. "Yes, for the most part that is true. I'm still me, Booth. I'm never going to turn into a romantic who believes that a white dress and a ceremony changes everything. I love you," she was firm, "and I'm committed to you...to us. A piece of paper doesn't make that any more or less true."
He placed a kiss on the top of her head. "But it makes it more legal."
"Exactly." She looked at him and bit her lip, worried that she was saying all the wrong things.
Then he'd grinned. He still knew who she was. "I don't know, Bones," he gave an exaggerated sigh, "it sounds to me like you're trying to rob me of my chance to buy a ring and plan a proposal."
She laughed and rolled on top of him, pinning him beneath her. "Far be it from me to deprive you of such an experience. Go ahead and do what you need to do."
"Oh, I will Bones," he pulled her down roughly to kiss him, "just when you least expect it." He didn't think it necessary to inform her that he'd bought a ring the weekend after they'd gone to feed the ducks.
Later, they lay on their sides, facing each other, holding hands.
"Bones," he whispered, "when we get married, I'd like to adopt Angie too."
She had never loved him more than she did right then, in that moment. "I would love that. I mean, we'll ask her, but I suspect she would love that too. You are her favorite."
"Well, Shadow knows a good man when she sees one."
"Booth," she whispered, "when we get married, where do you think we should live?"
"Somewhere in the city. We don't want to become one of those couples who suddenly chuck it all in for a minivan and life in the suburbs. Maybe we could find a townhouse."
She nodded. "No, I'm definitely not giving up my car...or my last name."
"I'd never expect you to." He ran his hand across her cheek. "I'll want to take the kids to Mass from time to time. At least on Easter."
"Fine," she agreed, "but you can't expect me to go with you. The Christian belief in the resurrection is ridiculous."
He chuckled. "No problem, Bones. Someone has to stay home to hide the eggs."
Final Author's Note: So, I'm sitting here laughing at myself, because I'm tempted to cry...over finishing a story. I've always been just the slightest bit pathetic. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to read this story, especially those of you who have reviewed. I have truly enjoyed the opportunity to connect with you...and I'll miss you. Actually, one of you coerced me into joining LiveJournal, and even though I still haven't figured out exactly what I'm supposed to be doing there, feel free to add me as a friend if you're a member and would like to stay in touch. I'm Jennasq there. Also, I'm going to go back through my reviewers and check out y'all's stories. Writing this one didn't leave me as much time this summer as I would have liked to be a reader. And...I'm going to get to work on another one. It may be a while before I post it, but I hope you'll check it out. Let's see, what else...oh, I've kinda fallen in love with Angie. I'm not one for sequels, but I left some possibilities open in this one, and it is very likely that I will revisit this story at some point in the future. I'll send an alert out if I do. It is now time to end the world's longest author's note. Thanks again, and enjoy premier night!