A Bride For Booth

By LizD

Written May 2010 – July 2010

Posted in 13 Installments

AN: For the record, I don't like this premise. I wrote this as a preemptive strike for what MIGHT happen in the fall. If the show doesn't go this way (or any variation thereof), good for me (well us) and this little fanfix will be long forgotten. If they do, then I have been desensitized to the misery it will cause until they work it out (which I believe they will ... eventually).

Fair Warning: This story will be a little dark and angsty for a while, not quite BOOTHUS, but not happy-go-lucky Booth either. Bad things happened in twelve months and people didn't behave as well as they should have: there was too much time to think, mistakes were made, blame assigned, egos were bruised, and while out of sight did not equal out of mind, absence played with the heart in odd ways - some good, so not so good. But all of it was or will be a learning experience. And yes, the characters will be shadows of their former selves because of it - for a while. Not a work in progress, just a posting in progress (it is finished and it does end well for Booth and Brennan). Please stick with it, or come back when it is completely posted.

With trepidation in my heart for what is coming next season and much respect for the writers, creators, cast and crew of Bones. Here goes ...

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Chapter One

Mid May 2011

"Intercept! GO! GO! GO!" KA-BOOM!

Booth sat straight up in his bunk. He was sweating. His heart was racing. His hands were shaking. There was a pain in his lower back that was sharp and deep. It took him a moment to remember where he was, and what was happening. He wiped his hands over his face. Fear was replaced with guilt. He lay back down and allowed his breathing to come to normal.

"BOOTH!" called someone from outside the barrack's door. "HEY BOOTH! It's your wake up. You're a civilian, bud. Get the hell out of here."

"Yeah, Yeah. I heard you." He called back not moving. "Give me a minute."

Booth sat up again. With a bit of effort he dropped one leg over the side and then the other. He pushed himself off the bunk. The burn marks went down his left side from his waist to his upper thigh. There were several shrapnel wounds that were nearly healed on his upper back, chest and arms. There was a more severe shrapnel wound that was healing, but not quite on his lower back. His movements were labored and slow as he pulled on his fatigues for the last time. His duffel was all packed. It would be his last morning on base and it was back to civilian life.

He made it to the gate. Gave his last salute and walked off base. There was a car waiting for him. He slipped into the passenger seat. He turned to the woman driving, took her hand and gave her a weak smile. "Let's go, huh babe?" She returned the smile, dropped the car into gear and drove away. Booth didn't look back.

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Brennan stood outside the doors of the Medico-Legal Lab at the Jeffersonian. She took a deep cleansing breath. It had been nearly a year since leaving her life, friends, family and Booth. The months away had been professionally challenging but not as rewarding as originally hoped. Personally, however, Brennan had been on an intellectual journey that was a roller coaster ride emotionally, both wonderful and devastating. In the space of twelve months Brennan had her eyes opened, her fear realized, her heart crushed and her basic beliefs shaken to the core. Brennan was forced to reevaluate the tenets she held and their affect on her life - more importantly the affect they had on preventing the modicum of happiness that she finally accepted as possible. She had to reexamine the choices she had made that brought her to where she was in life. Very quickly after leaving she had realized that the murder, death and suffering that had become her stock and trade over the previous years and the toll it was taking on her heart was only part of the reason she needed to leave. The other reason ... well, the events of the year away had resolved that issue in a way that was no longer in her control. While she couldn't change the past, she did choose to make different choices for her future. Her resolve was about to be tested now that she was back home.

She took one more breath before walking through the doors of the lab. All heads turned toward her as she stood there taking in the sight. They all seemed to know her. They seemed happy to see her. They seem relieved that she was back. Many murmured her name but no one approached. She recognized no one; but that was to be expected. She knew only a few by name before she left, most were just bodies in a lab coat that stayed out of her way. Brennan was about to change that - Resolution #1.

Dr. Saroyan came up behind her. "Dr. Brennan ... you have returned," she announced with a warm, familiar tone. With little or no reaction from Brennan she changed her statement into a question. "You have returned, yes?"

Brennan turned her focus to Cam. Brennan had rarely returned to any position from which she had departed after that length of time. The sense of homecoming, of familiarity, of unconditional acceptance was overwhelming. She pulled Cam into an almost too tightly held embrace. "Cam, Dr. Saroyan ... yes, it is good to be back home."

"We certainly have missed you." Cam was floored by her reaction. "Saved your office ... and to be honest ... I need your help on a case - cases to be more accurate."

"Yes, Yes. I am anxious to get back to work," she stated. "But I don't think the Jeffersonian will allow me to keep my office. They have allowed me back part time only."

"Allowed you? Part time?" Cam was confused. "So ... not back." When asked by the suits if there was a place for Brennan a few weeks before, Cam unequivocally said 'yes' and was confused as to why they had to ask. Management knew that she had only hired temps over the past twelve months in order to keep Brennan's position open - hoping that she would want to come back.

"Yes, the Jeffersonian is very adamant that I finish writing up the discoveries that we found in Maluku for publication and then there will be the obligatory lectures." Brennan was speaking very quickly. She was nervous - a very odd look for her. "I don't expect to be in Washington much after the publication - at least not the first year."

"Right," Cam had forgotten how much cash the Jeffersonian sunk into that project to keep the findings within their purview. They paid for Brennan's and four of the other scientists salaries for the year and processed much of the lab work. So of course they would be more interested in her findings than putting her back to work in the Medico-Legal Lab. But Cam was more impressed that Brennan was already talking about years and alluding to staying for years. It seemed hopeful. Still there was a sadness that shrouded Brennan that was undeniable.

"I assume the team you have assembled is sufficient?"

"They get the job done ... or attempt to, but not quite with the same amount of zeal or completion rate that was the standard a year ago. Angela and Hodgins are back in the swing, so things are getting somewhat back to normal."

'Normal' Brennan liked that word. It was meaningless in light of everything else that had gone on; there was no hope for normal; that is if the definition of normal was how things were prior to the events of last year, prior to the Gravedigger case, prior to Sweets' book. "As long as the cases are solved," she said.

"We are running about 65 percent," Cam stated. There was something different about Brennan. Cam had noticed it in the correspondence they had about her return, but seeing her standing in front of her it was harder to ignore. The only word that Cam could come up with was humbled; humbled leaning toward melancholy. But maybe it was just jetlag.

"Maybe I can help to improve that record," Brennan said with a sincere tone of modesty. "Where will I be working?" Brennan asked.

"Part time or not Dr. Brennan; that is your space," she stated nodding to the office that had been dark since the day Brennan left. "Might be a bit dusty, we weren't expecting you until next week. That's why no balloons or cake." Cam smiled and turned abruptly and walked away. "I'll let you settle back in," she said over her shoulder.

"Dr. Saroyan," Brennan called after her. Cam turned on her heel arms folded waiting for one of Brennan's classically awkward comments. "I have missed you," she announced uncomfortably. "I would like to hear about your experiences this last year. About Michelle. Will you have lunch with me today?"

Cam was stunned. She was so stunned she almost didn't respond. "Certainly," was the only word she could muster.

Brennan smiled. "I just need to drop my bag; but I am ready to work. I don't need time to settle."

"Of course you don't," Cam said seeing that the Old Brennan was not gone.

Brennan went up to her old office and was nearly knocked over by the memories rushing over her. It was too much. She felt herself walling off and she had stop it. It was too early for either Jack or Angela to be there. She was truly on her own. "Keep moving," she told herself. Another deep breath. She dropped her bag, pulled on a lab coat and was back down in less than a minute. Brennan introduced herself to the guard and sincerely asked for his name. The guard knew her - had known her for years. It was the first time she had spoken to him. He let her up on the platform as she didn't have her own card yet. She walked around to each of the techs working introducing herself, asking their names and their specialties. Each was a brief interview but Brennan really appeared to be listening and storing the information. The techs were a little put off, they knew her as being unapproachable, but so brilliant that it was excused. They discussed what they were working on. She offered comments respectfully and tactfully – of course they were dead on target and the tech was typically embarrassed that he or she had missed what was so clear to Brennan.

Cam watched in amazement. She had known that things would change, that the fallout would surely affect them all. Clearly it affected Brennan, but Cam never guessed that it would have softened her. Cam hadn't heard from Booth in nine months, but she knew what happened – the official story. If it weren't for everything else, she would have said that the time away was good for Brennan. She knew better than to believe that.

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Booth entered the Hoover building in jeans and a t-shirt. He was no longer Army Issue and he didn't need to be FBI just yet. Hacker had contacted him almost a month prior. The offer was extended via email, but Booth suggested that they speak in person when he was back in Washington. A meeting was set and Booth was there to keep that appointment.

"Looking well, Booth."

"Director," Booth said extending his hand to his old boss.

"When did you get back?"

"I have been back in the states about a week, was finally discharged yesterday."

Hacker noticed right away that Booth was not the same cocky agent that left twelve months prior. "Recovering well -?"

"Yes," Booth cut him off. "All good. So, you called this meeting?"

"Do you want a job?" Hacker asked. "Or has the Army made you a better offer?"

"They did, but I declined. I am anxious to get back to work."

"Are you?" Hacker wasn't sure. "Is the team back at the Jeffersonian, 'cause I have to tell you we have a few unsolved cases back logged."

"No, sir," Booth snapped again. "I mean, I don't know about the Jeffersonian, but I would prefer not to work major crimes, was thinking counterintelligence or counterterrorism."

"Really?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well, that is a surprise." Both those divisions were mainly for analysts and were considered eighty percent desk jobs. "I am sure either one of those departments would be lucky to have you."

"Thank you, sir."

"I will make a few calls, set up a few meetings. I'll let you know."

"Thank you, sir." Booth still had some Army around the edges.

"May I ask way?"

"Saw some things over there that I don't ever want to see on American soil. Anything I can do to prevent that, I want to do."

"I see," Hacker didn't believe him. "Well the hours are better – should have your nights and weekends to yourself."

"Yes, sir." Booth thanked him again and left quickly. On his way out he ran into Ms. Julian.

"Well, look what the cat dragged in," she bellowed across the hallway scanning him up and down.

"Caroline." Booth was hoping to escape unseen.

"Nice to see that you are in one piece - more or less," she drawled. He wasn't about to correct her and she wasn't about to push. "So you and your lady scientist getting the band back together? I have a stack of files on my desk that I would just love to clear. They have your names written all over them. Agent Perotta is a nice kid, but she is no closer."

"No," he said. "I mean, I don't know about the people at the Jeffersonian. I am sure Cam can tell you better. I am not going back to major crimes."

She frowned. Booth was not back, and the man that stood before her was a shell of his former self. "Seen too much of death, eh chérie?"

"Enough for a lifetime," he said solemnly.

"But you will be back here in some capacity ... not gonna let your hair grow and go all hippy on us, are you?"

"Looking into counterterrorism, counterintelligence."

"Yeah, cause there is never any death or destruction there," she commented sarcastically.

"I think I can help."

"I'm sure you can, chérie. I am sure you can."

"I need to get going," he told her. "It was nice seeing you again, Caroline."

"We haven't seen the last of each other, Seeley Booth." Caroline strode off. Booth look relieved. Two down. That was enough for one day. He needed to get out of there before Sweets got wind that he was in the building.

"Just keep moving," he told himself.

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Booth interviewed with the directors of the Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence units. His first choice was Counterterrorism and he was made an offer. He knew there would be a lot of sifting through data, sitting on wire taps and drudgework, but he also knew that the threat of terrorist activity on U.S. soil was a very real. He knew that the FBI and other agencies were making headway and had already prevented many attacks. He wanted to be part of that.

He was expected to work with a young kid fresh from Quantico who he had been working Counterterrorism for the past eighteen months even through his training. Booth didn't have a feel for him yet. He seemed bright and dedicated – a bit like Zach Addy only cooler. Booth could see liking him. Could see taking him under his wing and teaching him a few things about patience, the big picture and seeing the meaning in patterns in the chaos. That might come in time. Until then Booth remained very quiet and spoke only when absolutely necessary and never about anything personal. This kid was not his partner; would never be his partner. Booth had a partner.

The upside to Counterterrorism was that the job requirements were for regular hours - unless of course something was going down, but that didn't happen as often as it did in major crimes. It was good to be back at work. It was good to feel proactive again. Not wearing a uniform made it easier to look in the mirror. To get up every day and not be surrounded by people who knew what he had done was easier. It helped that he was back in Washington. The area was familiar and felt safe – anonymously safe. He was home at night and on the weekends; trying to get into a routine – stable meal times, stable physical therapy times, stable bed times. If only he could sleep; sleep without dreaming. He made no attempt to contact anyone from before other than Parker. It would throw off the routine. Even with Rebecca he was distant and reserved; he didn't want to open an opportunity for her to ask him questions. He was going through the motions and doing what he felt was the right way to move on. The nights were the hardest.

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"Hey, Sweetie." Angela was standing in Brennan's doorway. "I have the facial reconstruction on Jane Doe 658."

It all seemed very familiar and safe to Brennan if a little odd. There was a hole without Booth that was accentuated whenever Perotta showed up. But they were working through it. Times change. "Thanks Ange." She took the drawing from her. "She is beautiful," Brennan said sadly. "I'll get this over to Agent Perotta."

"You doing OK?"

Brennan smiled slightly. "I am."

"Must be strange to be back." Angela and Hodgins got back from France six weeks before, and were back to work almost immediately. They missed the work. They knew it wouldn't be the same, but when it came right down to it - they missed the work. If Brennan and Booth were not in the center, they could still be a part of something. Cam could provide enough center to hold them. Cam was delighted to have them back.

"Oddly familiar," Brennan agreed. "But it has only been a week." The friends had been in constant contact the entire time they were away. Angela helped her through some very dark times. Brennan was intimately aware of what happened with Booth but didn't completely confide in Angela the details. She had given the broad strokes. Of course Angela knew everything else, everything that related to Brennan.

"And Booth?" Angela paused before she finished her question. "Is he back?"

"No." She looked away. "I mean I don't know, but I don't expect him back."

"Sweetie -"

"Angela, please don't push this agenda." This was a conversation that Brennan and Angela had had often. "Booth has made a very good decision for himself. I want him to be happy."

"And you honestly think he can be happy with Nurse Betty?"

"Her name is Elizabeth Darrow, and yes I believe she can help him to find some peace and joy in his life. She saw him through a very difficult time and they formed a very strong bond – obviously."

"That is Florence Nightingale syndrome, sweetie - not love."

"You don't know that, Angela."

"Look, Booth was sick. She was NyQuil. Not a cure, just something to get him through the night." Angela saw Brennan shutter and realized how that image bothered Brennan. "Sorry sweetie. But now that he is better, he doesn't need the NyQuil anymore."

Brennan shook her head. "I don't know what that means."

"I do. I know that he loved you and that you loved him and that love was built on trust, respect and a lot water under the bridge."

Brennan's face washed with sadness. "I wasn't ready for it, Angela."

"You are now." Brennan willed her strength to sustain her one more time through this discussion with Angela. "Does he know that?"

"Isn't your definition of love selflessly putting the other person before you? Putting the other person's health and happiness before your own?"

"Sure, if this was some tragic romance novel or a bad Italian Opera, but this is real life."

"Yes, it is. Booth has made a real life choice and I support that."

"Booth chose not to be alone, that is not the same as picking her over you. Did he even know you were an option?"

"Please, can we stop talking about this?"

Angela again knew she wasn't getting anywhere. "Sure, sweetie."

"We have work to do."

"Yeah ... yeah, sure." For the first time Angela lost her faith that Booth and Brennan would find their way to each other. Maybe they never were meant to be together. Maybe their story was fated to be a tragic romance novel. Ships destined to continually pass each other in the night. It made her sad. Sad for her friend. Sad for Booth - though with Booth's Choice she has very little sympathy for him at that time.

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Booth passed the little bookstore on the way to the restaurant. There was a display in the window of summer reading suggestions. In the center of the mystery section were Brennan's books. Her name across the cover caught his eye. He ducked into the store, found her books on a table. He picked one up and flipped to the dedication page.

This book is dedicated to my partner and friend,

Special Agent Seeley Booth

"It's an oldie but a goodie," said the geeky looking kid with a name tag that read 'Spike.' "Not her best, but still really good." Booth nodded to the kid. "We are trying to get her to come in for a book signing, but she is out of the country or something - who knows. Hope she is working on the next one." The kid kept chattering about Brennan's books. He was clearly a fan. "Love how she always puts the word Bone or Bones in the title. Heard that it was a nickname for her. She is beautiful." The kid admired her picture on the back. Booth turned the book over too. He had helped her pick that one out. It didn't do her justice - and didn't come close to the image that he had in his mind, the last thing he saw before he fell asleep on the rare occasions that he actually slept. The memory was too much for him. He replaced the book and quickly left.

He made his way through the busy dining room / bar. He didn't like crowded places anymore particularly not where there was a focus on drinking. Loud unruly people made him anxious. He had requested that they meet at some place quiet, but Elizabeth had chosen a pub near her work in Georgetown. They were still living in the hotel, so it was either eat out, order room service or go without food altogether (that would have been Booth's preference). He couldn't fault her, she didn't know the area. Neither did he for that matter. She stood up to move to the next seat when he got to the table – he liked his back to the wall. He leaned in and kissed her on the side of the mouth. "Hey, babe."

"Is this OK?" she asked sincerely. Elizabeth was a lovely looking woman – blonde with sparkling green eyes. She was as tall as Booth and perfectly toned. She was a physical therapist so she needed her strength.

"Fine," he lied.

"The girls at work say this place has the best hamburgers in town."

Booth hadn't eaten red meat in six months. "Great," he said scanning the menu. "Think I will just go with a salad. I had a big lunch."

"Was your day OK?"

"Fine," he lied again. "Did you go over and take a look at that apartment?"

"I did. It's great, great view."

"Good, I will put a deposit down on it tomorrow. We can move in this weekend." Someone tipped over a bar stool. There was a loud crash and many girls screeching in laughter. Booth stood immediately and reached for a weapon that was not there. It took him a moment to assess that the situation was not dangerous.

"We don't have to stay, Seeley," she said.

"No, No. It's fine; we can stay." He sat back down. "Old habit." He smiled weakly at her. "So tell me about your day." He turned his attention to her blocking out the rest – when he put his mind to it, it was easy to do. It was what he had to do.

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Brennan sat in front of a blank monitor. She had decided to write her last Kathy Reichs novel.

Dr. Kathy Reichs stood over the motionless body of her partner, her friend, her lover, Agent Andy Lister. He couldn't be dead. He couldn't be. If he were, it was her fault and that was unacceptable.