A/N: I want to thank all my betas and readers, you all know who you are, for this chapter I'd like to thank Angie in particular. You have collectively made it possible for me to write and continue writing this story. It's been a wonderful journey where I discovered that I could write a story that would collect interest.
My original characters have become quite dear to me and I will be continuing this story in the future. If you haven't put me on Author Alert you may want to.
For now, I'll be going back to what started it for me. I'll be concluding my serial for Castle/Bones. And I also will be posting a series of One-Shots, Feathers from Heaven, which will be a collection of random stories set mostly during Brennan's time in the witness protection program. It won't be "Booth-less", I promise... One-shots will include many private moments for John, Bones and Issie, as well as a few flashbacks for Bones/Booth. I will continue with these one-shots until I begin posting my sequel. I hope you enjoyed Tears from Heaven and that you plan to continue it with me.
Chapter 58 – Home
Out of habit, Booth awoke when the first rays of dawn began to streak morning light across the horizon, heralding the start of another day. Then relaxed immediately as he realized where he was; the length of his body was pressed to hers and his arm slung across her waist. It was irrational but he slept better when he felt her close, as though he still feared losing her in his sleep. Her familiar scent of vanilla and lavender surrounded him and he smiled. Only a few short weeks before that scent would have brought him heartache, while now it only brought joy. He silently wondered whether he would ever feel completely confident that fate wouldn't separate them again. Sighing softly, he said a silent prayer, hoping that he'd never lose them again.
He reflected over the prior week, hectic was the least of it. It had been incredibly exhilarating, heartbreaking and even rewarding at times. They had left Pennsylvania immediately after the incident, once they had all received the necessary medical treatment and clearance.
The drive home had been uneventful. Max, Issie and Bones had fallen asleep within the first few miles...John, Riley and Costa had stayed behind to insure the FBI techs recorded all the evidence properly. He and Bones had provided their after-action reports verbally, and John had handled the paperwork. They arrived in D.C. in the late afternoon with little incident; just the way he preferred it.
They had been gone a little over 30 hours as Booth recalled and he was amazed that so much had happened in such a short period of time. He pulled into the parking garage at Bones' apartment and rested his head against the steering wheel, letting out his first sigh of relief prior to waking them. He thanked God for bringing them home safe and sound. Jack-Jack could no longer hurt his family or anyone else's for that matter.
Booth had spoken briefly to Sweets on the drive back to D.C. Yes, he could be a pain in the ass, but the psychologist definitely knew his stuff. To ease the inevitable anxiety Issie would be experiencing, Sweets had suggested that they kept visitors to a minimum. Re-establishing a pattern would be the key to restore Issie's equilibrium. Booth remembered the conversation and appreciated the advice and candor... He and Bones recognized that Issie needed them and to him that was paramount.
Booth had officially been on Medical Leave for the past week due to his gunshot wound. Patty no longer existed, and it was time to bring back Temperance Brennan. Caroline had already made tremendous progress on the anthropologist's behalf. Other than a few mandatory meetings, they'd been able to establish their family life in a relatively short period. And though Booth was anxious to move them all to his home in Georgetown, he recognized that it could take a few weeks before they could attempt to move Issie again. Smiling quietly, he thought about the large empty house in a family-friendly neighborhood. He had recently realized that he'd only bought that particular house because it had been a dream of his since the minute that Bones had told him she was expecting. He hadn't rationalized the choice, simply had bought it on gut. Now he recognized that he'd bought it as a reminder of that wonderful day in the park more than three years earlier.
As his mind continued to catch up on all the events of the week, his hand drifted from where it had been nestled against her abdomen to the delicate skin of her hip. His thoughts flew back to those first few nights when Issie's nightmares had torn at them. He shuddered slightly remembering her screams. His knee jerk reaction had been to grab his weapon each time, though instead he had leapt from bed with Bones to comfort her; neither wanted to turn the task to the other. They comforted their child together.
Remembering the nightmares, he flinched again, his hand involuntarily tightening. A sleepy murmur of protested reminded him that it was finally over. He relaxed and continued to caress the taunt skin of her hip.
Booth's mind returned to those first restless nights, how Issie's tear-stained face had broken their hearts as her sobs tore at their souls when she talked about her nightmares. Sweets had recommended that they simply let her talk whenever she wanted to, letting her know no subject was taboo. He'd also recommended more aggressive therapy should the need arise. Nightmares were followed by cuddles and reassurances. Issie often choking back tears as she recalled it seemed every moment of her abduction. Their hearts broke each time she choked back a cry or a whimper, finally settling back to sleep with the softest of whispers, "Mama, Daddy don't leave me," breaking their hearts once again.
They continued to encourage her to express her fears, though Booth's protective tendencies simply wanted her to forget. But, he trusted Sweets and he could already see signs of improvement. The past few nights, Issie had slept peacefully; the nightmares seemed to have subsided. Issie was nearly back to her charming and impish ways.
Bones, Issie and Parker were now Booth's life, his everything. Issie had been back in his life less than a month and yet she'd wormed her way into his heart.
He sighed regretfully, all those years of grieving for something he thought he'd lost. His remembered those forgotten dreams, the few he had prior to their return. The farmhouse and the wild escape into the night, he hadn't talked to Bones about it but, he did wonder. Had it been a vision? Had it been a message to inspire him to hold on just a little longer? He smiled and knew that Bones would probably scoff at the idea of fate, visions or even faith. Though they'd never spoken of it, he wondered if her views on faith had changed or if she'd come to an understanding of his own.
His hand trailed along the soft skin of her waist and rested once again against her abdomen, he knew Bones had faith in him. But, faith in a higher being he knew better than to think she'd changed that much. He brushed the thought aside, maybe he'd discuss it with Sweets at some point but for now, he'd let it rest.
He decided to act on the signals that his hands had been sending for awhile. He pressed his lips along the soft column of her neck and breathed in her unique scent. He caressed her skin as though memorizing every beautiful inch of her, as though he couldn't get enough. Gently, he nudged her onto her back and smiled when her beautiful cerulean blue eyes drifted open, clouded with sleep and desire.
Laughing lightly, she pulled him closer and murmured against his lips, "Booth, I could get use to this."
He nibbled her full bottom lip and murmured, "You won't get any arguments from me."
Since her return, their lovemaking had taken on many facets; sometimes playful, others desperate, touching poignantly as though they couldn't count on tomorrow. This morning had definitely been playful. Pulling her into his arms, he teased, "Bones next time you decide to restrain me, and you might want to rethink that hold. Straddling me isn't exactly the best way to accomplish that." He laughed thinking back at how quickly he'd reversed the roles.
Her laughter blended with his. When she managed to control her amusement, she said, "Who said I didn't want you to do just that? All premeditated I assure you," She stated as Booth nipped strategically along the line of her neck.
He pulled her into a hug and pressed a kiss on her temple then asked, "Are you sure that's what you want?"
Bones knew that he wasn't talking about their lovemaking, he was asking about her announcement at the FBI-Jeffersonian Press Conference the day before, which was staged in the Jeffersonian's magnificent gardens.
They'd given Booth and Brennan nearly a week to recover, allowing for Brennan's bruises to fade and Booth to be able to walk with a cane. The gunshot wound had come within millimeters of his femoral artery but had managed to avoid that as well as bone speeding up his recovery. Also they both knew, until Issie was more settled they wouldn't be leaving her side. John had been nearly a constant presence in the past week. Brennan understood, John couldn't simply walk away from Issie, thankful that Booth was accepting John's role in Issie's life that it wasn't a conscious choice on John's part but a need. Just the thought of his understanding reinforced how right her decision had been so many years ago to let her guard down and allow herself to feel love. As it was the day of the press conference, Issie watched her parents safely ensconced in John's arms, her arms waving wildly each time they came into view.
Harris had awarded each of them the FBI Medal for Meritorious Achievement and thanked them. "Without their combined efforts, personal sacrifices of Dr. Brennan and Assistant Director Booth, the serial killers known as Jack-Jack would still be in the streets. Neither called attention to their individual acts of heroism, but those brave and courageous acts deserves our attention and our gratitude. Today we stand here and formally recognize them with the FBI's highest honors."
During the first part of the press conference, Director Harris had announced that Jack-Jack, the serial killer, had been identified as two men, and that both had been killed in a shoot-out in Pennsylvania. He refrained from providing more details. They would not be disclosing Scott's ties to Home Land Security or the exact cause of Dr. Brennan's placement in the WITSEC program. At the mention of her name, the press had become quite animated, not the typical dry and boring press conference that the reporters had been expecting. He had then brought Dr. Brennan on stage, shook her hand warmly and said, "Dr. Brennan, you made a large personal sacrifice, one that was necessary to protect your loved ones and friends. Your return to the case, admittedly against all advice, was pivotal in solving it." He had winked and added, "You are quite the formidable woman, and as your husband would attest to, a force to be dealt with." Murmurs again erupted from the crowd, this was news!
He then had provided Dr. Brennan with the microphone, though didn't quite agree that she should be singled out, how things had turned out was a direct result of all the people she loved.. As she waited for the applause to die down, she realized as a culture, people needed their heroes. Though it was a bit uncomfortable, she smiled at the crowd relieved that after 3 years, she'd be allowed to claim back her name. Glancing over at Booth, she smiled. Her eyes searched for Issie's in the crowd and saw her cuddling John. Lucky girl, her Issie, she had both a Daddy and a Pa; in her opinion, both exceptional men.
After the applause had quieted, she began, "Good Afternoon, I will only be taking a few questions. This press conference is not about me, but about the justice that has finally been brought to over 50 innocent victims. To continue as Director Harris outlined I was in the Witness Protection Program for nearly three years. During that time, I live simply on a ranch in Texas as Hope Patience McKeenan and gave birth to my daughter Isabelle."Her eyes sought out Booth's and taking a deep breath, she continued, "It was terrible time for me, separated from the man I loved and the work that had brought me great personal achievement and satisfaction. I regret the pain my death caused, but I was convinced that it was the only manner by which I could insure their safety. I sacrificed my family's happiness, and not a day passes in which I don't question that decision."
Her eyes then had sought out John's and added, "I was fortunate in the life that was built for me which included the help of a new friend... Without his help, I doubt that I would ever have been able to survive this separation.
Brennan had paused and he press remained unusually quiet, allowing her to set the pace of her remarks. "Three weeks ago, I returned to D. C. and to the Jeffersonian with the intentions of finding Jack-Jack. We were fortunate, as Director Harris outlined. Jack-Jack was actually a moniker shared by two killers, father and son. The son was not quite as meticulous as the father and it was this discrepancy which allowed us to locate them. That's all the information I can provide on the case..."
Her eyes had landed on her extended family, gathered together were Hodgins, Cam, Angela, Zack, Sweets and Wendell, her family of choice not blood. She smiled and continued, "I have several announcements, the first being my return to the Jeffersonian."Then she looked at Booth, who had retrieved Issie from John, and her eyes softened. She looked at them for a moment, all the love she had for them plain for anyone to see. Bones gestured for Booth to join her on the stage, which he did proudly. He wrapped an arm around her waist and pressed a kiss to her cheek. She turned to the reporters for the last time, "I'd like to introduce you to my husband Assistant Deputy Director Booth and our daughter Isabelle Booth." She added, "As of this moment, I will be known professionally and personally as Dr. Temperance Brennan-Booth."
After a resounding round of applause, Brennan had said, "Now, I'll answer a few questions."
At the sea of upraised hands she had picked out a woman in a bright red suit, "Yes, your question?"
"Dr. Brennan-Booth, I realize you wrote a book as your alias H.P. McKeenan which has been on the best sellers list for the last 6 months. Will you continue that series? Will you be writing a book on your experiences?" The reporter had dared to ask two questions not just the one Brennan allowed.
"To answer your first question, yes I will be publishing several books under the penname of H.P. McKeenan, I have several written and had only been recently been allowed to publish that one book. Rural Texas is lovely and I enjoyed my time there, but writing allowed me to feel part of the life I had been forced to abandon. As for writing on my experiences," Booth's hand tensed, but then relaxed with Brennan's answer, "No, I will not be writing a book on that period of my life, it's personal and not meant for public knowledge."
She had then turned away from the reporter to a handsome man with graying temples and piercing eyes, "Do you have a question?"
He had scanned the lab staff of the Jeffersonian who had proudly come to support her, her family standing nearby as well as several influential members of the FBI,"Dr. Brennan-Booth, will the medico legal lab continue to bear your name?" He asked.
Brennan had been stunned and had no response. She'd never considered what her being alive meant to all the things that had been done as a memorial to her. Wordlessly, she had turned to Cam, the thought had not occurred to her.
Cam had nodded and had come to stand next to her on podium. "I've already spoken to the Trustees and they have no intention of changing the name of the lab," She replied with a smile to the public and Brennan. She concluded, "The name has become synonymous with quality and excellence, which we plan to continue with the help of Dr. Brennan-Booth."
On that note, the press conference had ended and the noise level had risen exponentially. Reporters had raced to file their stories, tweet headlines, Face book updates as quickly as humanly possible. But on the stage, everyone gathered around Booth, Brennan and Issie. Each congratulated them on closing the book on possibly the darkest period of their lives.
Realizing that Booth was still waiting for her reply, Brennan let the memories fade and answered him, "Yes, Booth. I'm sure we're all Booths now, even if my name is hyphenated. But, I truly dislike being addressed as Mrs." she looked into his eyes and answered honestly, "I think I still have a few issues with marriage… but not to you." Leaning forward, she kissed him softly on the lips. The running of feet had them rolling apart and Booth quickly pulling up the sheet and covering them modestly before Issie ran full force into the room.
She brought the sunshine with her, "Daddy, Daddy! Are you still taking Mama, Parker and me to the zoo?"She'd run and jumped onto the bed. Booth snatched her up and pressed a kiss to her forehead before depositing her neatly between himself and Bones. "We sure are. Are you excited to see the Giant Panda?" He asked.
Issie nodded quickly then turned to her Brennan, "Mama, will there be monkeys?"She asked, eyes wide with excitement.
Bones laughed along with Issie hugging her close and pressing a kiss to her head, "Yes, do you remember the bright orange monkeys in the picture that I showed you back at the Ranch?"
At Issie's excited nod, Brennan continued, "Well those are called the Golden Lion Tamarin, definitely my favorite monkey. They were nearly extinct." Realizing Issie's confusion, she rephrased, "They were nearly gone when I was a little girl. Now there are over 1200 in the world and you get to see some today."
Issie and Parker had met during the past week. It had been emotional for all of them. Parker loved Bones and though he hadn't mourned her like his father, he had still missed her terribly. When it was explained that they were now married and he had a little sister, he'd been overjoyed. Booth definitely worried he'd be hurt having missed the wedding. But, Parker never gave it a second thought, which Booth was grateful for. Parker focused instead on Bones now being his new step mother and on his new half-sister. Booth had felt as well of pride when he had watched them together. Issie adored Parker instantly and Parker was equally enamored with his little sister and already was showing signs of Booth's protective instincts around her.
Issie turned her curious eyes to Booth and asked, "Does Parker like the monkeys, Daddy?"
"He sure does and I bet if you ask him, he'll act like a monkey around them. He's quite good at it too," Booth added with a soft smile.
Bones nodded and smiled softly. "I remember," She added.
Brennan looked at Issie, slightly concerned and asked, "Are you alright, Issie. You haven't asked me for breakfast yet?"
Issie's showed child like impatience with the question, "Mama, I 'cited about the zoo." Then she turned to Booth and smiled shyly, "Daddy, will you make Mama and me chocolate chip pancakes?"
Booth laughed, "You bet, now scoot. We'll be out in a minute and I'll make you pancakes," He told her.
Issie wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed a baby kiss on his cheek, then she rested it his and whispered, "Daddy, I love you."
Booth closed his eyes and hugged her close, "I love you more," he answered softly. "But, hurry now… or I won't make those pancakes."
Sitting back on her heels, Issie scolded, "Daddy, I have to kiss mama too. She'd be sad."
Reaching over, she wrapped her small arms around Brennan's neck and said, "Mama, I love you." Kissing her cheek quickly, she added, "I have the bestest family in the whole wide world."
"Issie, you know that isn't quantifiable," Brennan answered. Then, seeing Isabelle's puzzled look and Booth's raised brows, she added, "But, I accept from your experience that is absolutely correct." Pressing a kiss to her brow she added, "Love you too, Issie… now go pick out an outfit and I'll be there in a minute."
Issie scooted quickly off the bed, ran as fast as her little feet would take her slamming the door as she left.
Booth leaned into Bones and kissed her lips softly, "Bones, how did we get so lucky?"
She smiled and replied, "Booth, luck has nothing to do with it, and we earned this." Pushing her back down into the sheets, he kissed her lips softly as his hands began to wander. Bones laughed pushing his wandering hands away, "Booth, Issie won't wait for long."
Pressing a regretful kiss to her lips, he told her, "Yeah, let's get this show on the road Bones." Pressing another light kiss to her lips he admitted, "Sounds corny, but even making breakfast is a gift, I love you both so much."
Bones reached for Booth, her eyes soft with pain and joy blending together, the pain from the past would be slow to heal, but it would heal. Pressing her lips to his she whispered, "I love you too."
(See author's notes on upcoming plans for this story)
A/N: If you've read this story and haven't commented previously. Please take the time to drop me a note, believe me even if it's years after its conclusion you will definitely bring a smile to my face. Thank you all for the reviews and encouragement.