Pushing her on the swing he smiled when she said, "Higher! Push me higher!" She was such a daredevil sometimes so much like him when it came to matters of the heart, and so like her mom when it came to curiosity about the world around her. He continued to push her and thought back to the first time he held her, she captured his heart in that moment, and he knew then that he'd die for her. Holding her for the first time, he promised her that she would never be alone, he would be there for her always, to teach her the things that she would need to know.
True to his word, he taught her how to feed herself, how to run, how to jump and climb stairs, how to tie her shoes and even how to ride a bike. He showed her how to wash her hands, when to say please and thank you and what to do with the yucky vegetables they were invariably served. He also taught her to say her prayers. He picked her up when she fell and held her until she stopped crying and then they both exclaimed over the cool scab that she had under her SpongeBob Band-Aid. He read to her at night and was always up for a game of hide and seek.
Checking his watch, he told her it was time to get off the swings; it was time for him to take her to class. She was just starting kindergarten and although it was hard for him to let her go by herself; he knew that it was something she had to do. He wanted to stay with her during class and watch and protect her; already she was becoming a little less dependent on him than he was comfortable with. Luckily his schedule allowed him to walk her to school; he was available at lunch to walk her to daycare as well. The first day he took her to school he was distracted and oblivious to his surroundings and found he was constantly checking his watch to see what time it was. She chattered all the way back to where they lived about her teacher and the other students, she'd drawn him a picture showing the two of them holding hands. He had put the picture where he could see it every day and it always made him smile.
He walked her to her classroom and made sure that she got inside safely and then continued on himself. At lunch, he excused himself from his friends and walked back to pick her up. Next year would be a little easier as she would be at school all day and wouldn't have to go to a daycare program, he knew that she would much rather just go on home, preferably to his home and they were working on it, but it was going to take time. As outgoing as she was, she was still more comfortable around her personal things and him. She'd mentioned getting a dog, he smiled and told her that they just weren't able to do that yet, but someday when they had a house with a yard, he'd let her get a dog.
The two of them walked hand in hand and she showed him a seedling that she'd planted and was now responsible for. He assured her that he would help her to take care of it and make sure that it grew big and tall. She asked what they had planned for dinner and he thought that tonight was macaroni and cheese. She smiled up at him, her missing tooth prominent and told him that it was her favorite food in the whole world, although she liked the way that he made his the best. Ruffling her hair he bent down and gave her a hug, kissed her on the forehead, and then she reached her little fist up to his much larger one and they bumped. "I'll see you tonight, be good and I love you." He told her as he signed her into the daycare by her house. "I love you too," she said as she went inside to her classroom.
Turning to leave, he was stopped by the cranky receptionist, "Mr. Booth?"
"Yes?" he asked warily, he always felt like he was hiding something when they asked him questions about her, even though he knew her better than anyone.
"Miranda needs to have her field trip permission slip turned in by tomorrow in order to go to the zoo with us on Friday, I just wanted to remind you."
He mentally cringed and then answered, "I'll make sure she has it tomorrow, thank you for reminding me," he smiled his brown eyes and wide grin softening the older woman slightly. He turned to the door and continued on his way. Thinking hard he wondered how he was going to get that slip signed for her. She wasn't technically in his custody, not yet anyway, so he had to be somewhat elusive in order to get her schoolwork and correspondence signed and returned. Ever since the accident, things had been harder and harder for him to get accomplished. It wasn't enough that he had her to take care of, he also had himself. It was harder to be away from her night after night than he ever imagined.
He quickly walked back to where he spent the majority of his days and was able to slide into the back of the conference room unnoticed. He was determined that she wasn't going to want for anything, so he put all of his energy into being the best that he could be. He pulled out her permission slip, looked it over, and signed it quickly. It was funny; his signature could be anyone's.
The day dragged on, he didn't often socialize with the other people there, he used to, before the accident. He used to be quite outgoing, now though, he mostly kept to himself, did what he had to do and then left. Finally, the day ended and he was able to get to her. He walked quickly to her daycare, waiting patiently outside while she got her things, he was unhappy to see that the rain he was hoping would hold off was in fact going to let loose. The sky broke open and a torrent of rain poured forth. He pulled his coat off and dropped it over her shoulders as they headed to the bus stop, helping to hold the much larger coat over her head, they only waited a few minutes for the bus. They only used public transportation anymore. He just felt safer and with her in his care, even temporarily, he just didn't trust people anymore, or cars.
After filling him on the rest of her day, she lapsed into an uncommon silence. Looking over he said, "Why so quiet Miranda?"
"I don't like the rain-they died in the rain."
He reached over and took her little hand in his pulling her into his lap, he held her tight and tried to distract her with the water droplets on the window and made up stories about their fellow passengers until she was giggling again. Once the bus stopped outside her house, they got off and walked up the front steps. Turning the knob to go in, he held the door for her and followed her in. He nodded to the woman standing behind the kitchen counter; they didn't really have anything to say to each other. "Do you want to see my room?" she asked him, turning at the bottom of the stairs. He glanced again at the woman and she nodded that it was okay. Smiling down at her he said, "I would like that!"
He followed her up the stairs and into her room. She had stuffed dolphins everywhere; the only thing that was more prevalent than the dolphins was the hockey stuff. She loved hockey, it was a family thing. In fact, his favorite print hung above her bed. She showed him her newest dolphin and also her newest hockey cards. He patiently sat through each card as she told him a little something about each player. Looking at the clock by her bed he told her that he had to go, but he'd see her in the morning. He hugged and kissed her and reminded her to brush her teeth and say her prayers and then he hurried down the stairs and out the door. Catching the bus to his house, he tried to stay positive. It wasn't going to be long until he was allowed to see her whenever he wanted, he hoped.
Getting off the bus at the stop closest to his home, he walked a short distance and inside through the back door. "Hi honey, how was your day?" she said when he entered the kitchen. Looking over at her, he wondered again why he was so lucky to still have her, "It was good, I got most of my files organized. Miranda planted a teddy bear sunflower seed; she's pretty excited about it. I told her I'd help her to keep it alive." He came over and kissed her cheek on his way to the refrigerator, he poured himself a glass of milk as she told him about her day. "I've got to run some errands before it gets too late, do you want to go with me?" She asked as she gathered up her purse and coat. "No, I've got some work to do, but, ummm, do you think this weekend we could make macaroni and cheese?" he asked thinking Miranda would like to have some.
"Did she ask for some of the world famous Booth mac and cheese?"
"She mentioned she liked mine better than what she gets at her house, yeah." He said smiling.
"Then I'm sure we can work it in, I'll see you later, don't stay up too late working on that stuff, okay?"
He hugged her and kissed her cheek again, "Okay I won't, I think there's some hockey on tonight, I may try to catch some of it." She smiled at him and entered the garage from the kitchen door. He poured another glass of milk and went upstairs to their joint office. Setting down his bag, he turned on his computer and while it was booting up, went into his room to change. Sitting on his bed to take off his shoes, his gaze was captured by a collage of photos above his bureau. He stood up and walked over to get a closer look, his chest constricting as he began to tumble down that old familiar and painful path of memories.
He traced his finger over the picture of the three of them at the wedding; he was holding both of their hands and smiling so big. The next picture was of Miranda and the first day they all met her. She was so tiny and beautiful. Random pictures of all of them through the years, ending abruptly two years ago. There had been very few pictures since the accident. He looked over at the calendar, blinking back tears. He and Angela had spent the last two years trying to make arrangements for Miranda that made sense. Any day now, they were going to get an answer from the court. Once and for all, it would either go his way, or it wouldn't. The two of them had jumped through every hoop, attended every class and had done whatever they were asked to make this a smooth transition. Sighing, he went into the office and pulled up the files he had to get in order, but his mind wandered as it often did. This time, he couldn't stop the memory of the accident.
They'd spent the day up north of DC, picking out pumpkins and getting ready for the fall. The sky had been a dull, gunmetal gray most of the day, but the rain had held, until they were driving home. Then the sky exploded and the rain came down in sheets. She'd begged him to pull over to wait out the worst of it. He finally did at the rest station before they entered DC. Miranda had been sleeping most of the way back and when they stopped she asked to go to the bathroom. He volunteered to take her and the two of them ran hand in hand through the relentless rain to the family bathroom. Coming back he picked her up and put her on his shoulders, looking up at the wrong time he saw the semi truck slam into their SUV, completely obliterating it. The official report was that the big truck began to hydroplane coming off the exit ramp and the driver lost control. There was no way to confirm it though, because all three of them died in the crash. He'd fallen to his knees as his life and hers were changed forever.
The phone rang, and he wiped his eyes with the back of his hand, "Hello?" he said, his voice cracking.
"Yes honey, it's me, is your mom home?"
"No, she went to the store, is everything okay?" he was afraid to ask but had to know.
"Honey, I just heard from the judge. Jack and I can pick Miranda up on Friday, the adoption went through!" She was laughing and crying at the same time. Parker started to cry too, and looking outside he saw that the once gray and gloomy day was bathed in early evening sunshine. He smiled through his tears, knowing that his dad and Bones knew that it had happened to.
"Angela that's great, can I tell her? Tomorrow?" He wasn't sure how to feel, excited, and relieved all of it at once. They'd worked the last two years to adopt Miranda from the foster home where she'd been placed after the accident. His mom had tried, but they wouldn't do a single parent adoption. Angela and Jack were the next logical step. His dad and step-mom had made provisions for their care, but had never gotten the final draft signed, so Miranda was given to the state and Parker had gone to his mom.
"I thought maybe we'd pick you both up, go to the cemetery and tell everyone at once, how does that sound?" She said her voice still thick with emotion at finally being able to bring the little girl home that Booth and Brennan had waited so long for.
"I think Dad and Bones would like that Angela, thank you." He said, sounding much older than his 16 years.
They chatted for a moment and then hung up. Parker put his head in his hands and cried like he hadn't cried for the past two years. He cried for his dad and for Bones and for his sister, and he cried for himself. For the first time, he cried for himself.