And here, the journey ends :) . I had zero intentions of saying anything before the chapter this time (I'm serious! Really!), but as I was editing something occurred to me, and I just want to throw a pre-emptive explanation out there: standard maternity leave here is a year, and I briefly referenced that year long time span without considering that things are probably (almost certainly) different in each state. I'm sure a few simple Google searches could have given me some solid answers, but honestly, that felt like a lot of work I didn't actually feel at all like doing. So I didn't. If a year of maternity leave sounds too long/too short to you, blame the province of Ontario.
You can't resist her.
She's in your bones.
She is your marrow,
and your ride home.
You can't avoid her,
She's in the air.
In between molecules of Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide
Only In Dreams, Weezer
March 23rd, 5:37pm
He knew better than to interrupt her while she was writing. Usually. But today he couldn't help himself. Brennan had started her maternity leave eight days ago, and a new case had come in before she had even made it out the door. The squints were handling things well, and Booth was fairly certain Hodgins was one all-nighter away from busting things wide open on the forensics end, but it was off-putting spending so much time in the lab without seeing her. On more than one occasion he had managed to get all the way into her office before the still darkness reminded him that it would be almost a year before he found her there on a regular basis again. The trips he was accustomed to making to the Jeffersonian (many of them admittedly less than necessary) added up; it was somewhat depressing going to work for full days at a time without seeing her.
Earlier that day, he had tackled an interview with a smartass chemist who had been one of those types of squint. As the guy had talked to him as if he was a slow child Booth had longed for his own smartass scientist; just one of his partner's signature, ball-busting corrections would have wiped the shit-eating grin off the prick's face. With her currently consuming his every thought throughout each quiet moment of the day (a previously familiar, utterly distracting feeling that he really didn't miss) the second he stepped through the front door, Booth beelined for her office without even taking the time to loosen his tie or remove his jacket.
He found Brennan sitting at her desk frowning at her laptop screen as if she suspected the machine was being deliberately defiant. Her hair was tied back in a messy ponytail and she was wearing an old stretched out pullover of his, and as her fingers flew furiously across the keyboard the large sleeves kept slipping down her forearms until she distractedly pushed them back. She paused for a moment to stretch, and as her arms rose above her head the sweater was pulled skin tight over her abdomen. He smiled to himself; he tried to keep overt, chauvinistic (her word, not his) indications of just how much he loved seeing her pregnant to a minimum, but sometimes he couldn't help it. Sometimes, she took his breath away. Sometimes, he watched her move around the new condo that wasn't hers or his but theirs, and he couldn't quite grasp that this was reality.
"Hey Bones," Booth greeted, walking behind her and kissing the back of her neck.
The greeting went unacknowledged and Brennan's fingers continued their dance across the keys. Booth rolled his eyes and pressed his lips against her skin once more, laying a distracting line of kisses along the top of her shoulders.
"Oh, hey Booth," he murmured against her skin, flicking his tongue out to taste her. "How was your day? It was good; thanks for asking, Bones. The squints are doing their thing and I didn't even have to threaten to shoot anyone. How did your day go? It was fine; I didn't work too hard on my novel and I got plenty of rest. I missed you. I missed you too."
There were a few more seconds of silence punctuated by the clicking of the keyboard keys.
"Hi." Brennan's voice was clear, but blatantly unfocused.
"Really? That's all I'm going to get out of you? Hi?"
"Booth, you know I don't like to be interrupted while I'm writing," Brennan responded without looking up from her screen. "Could you come back in an hour?... Please?" she tacked on politely.
He nuzzled the spot on her jaw line that never failed to elicit a reaction from her. "I missed you today."
Finally, she paused. "What are you doing?"
"Trying really hard to get laid," Booth answered uncouthly. "I gotta tell ya Bones, you're making it kind of difficult."
"Booth, stop," she squirmed. When his hands began to work their way under her sweater, she forcibly pushed away his face. "I'm serious. I am not interested in engaging in sexual intercourse with you at this time."
"Why?" he whined. "You love sex. You have a reputation to uphold."
"Because," Brennan spun around in the computer chair to face him and glared, "I weighed myself this morning and I'm experiencing a temporary lapse in my self confidence. While I'm certain that rational thought will override my apparent body image issues before the day ends, I would prefer – for now – not to be naked. Also, I'm very busy; I'm almost finished the first draft of my novel."
"You're beautiful," Booth said, suddenly serious. Brennan rolled her eyes and began to spin back toward her computer, but Booth placed his hands on the armrests of her chair and held it firmly in place. "You are. I love your body. I've been thinking about you nonstop all day."
Her mouth twisted upward in the way that told him that while she didn't quite understand his manner of thinking, she would accept it nonetheless. He took the opportunity to lean forward and kiss her mouth properly. She responded to the gentle kiss, but all too soon she pushed against his chest until he reluctantly pulled away.
"We're still not having sex," Brennan stated. But she was smiling now and Booth grinned at her in return.
"That's fine, baby. But you should know, I'm going to remember this the next time I work a sixteen hour day and come home to you rearing to go when all I want to do is sleep."
Brennan's smile grew, but she refrained from comment and turned back to her screen the moment Booth released his grip on her chair.
"You really almost finished?" Booth questioned, finally giving her some space and walking around to the opposite side of her desk. "You must have banged out a hundred pages in the last week."
"A hundred and seven," she corrected absently. "I don't have any work at the lab and I've developed a sort of gestational insomnia; I have a lot of free time."
"Are you sure you don't want to reward yourself with a little break?" Booth asked with a wink. "Maybe you'll get some new ideas for Andy."
Brennan tilted her head to peer up at him through lids narrowed in puzzled thought. "In the past, you've become quite offended when I think about work during sex."
Booth heaved a good-natured sigh. "Well yeah, Bones. When things are getting hot and heavy and you suddenly bolt upright and run out of the room stark naked yelling something about damaged metacarpals and bone density, I get a little upset."
"Once, Booth! That happened once, and I solved the case!" Brennan responded indignantly.
"You left me handcuffed to your bed, Bones. Not cool."
She emitted a short, borderline-sadistic laugh at the memory. "So there are degrees of acceptability when it comes to thinking about work during intercourse?"
"I will remember that in the future," Brennan smiled. Then she pulled her bottom lip between her teeth and watched his face hesitantly. "But, I really would like to finish writing this draft, Booth."
She could go from sexy to childlike in the blink of an eye. Booth immediately smiled to put her at ease and reassure her that she hadn't made a rude or offensive request that was going to hurt him. "Alright Bones I can take a hint. I'm going to get dinner started and watch the game I recorded the other day."
"Oh, I deleted that."
Booth halted abruptly halfway to the door. "What?"
Brennan shrugged. "It's been there for over a week, Booth. I was bored yesterday and I deleted all the old programs. I also deleted the movies that I know you've seen, such as Reservoir Dogs, Star Wars, and a number of James Bond films."
Booth groaned and pulled his tie from around his neck. "Please tell me you're kidding."
Her face lit up and she smiled wildly. For a moment he just stared in shock, and then Booth chuckled. "A joke. A cruel one at that. Nice work, Bones."
"Angela assures me that lying is okay when it's in the interest of hilarity," Brennan informed him proudly.
"I guess I should expect that from Angela by now. Call me if you need anything."
Brennan watched him retreat from her office, and as he disappeared around the corner the sudden emptiness of the room seemed far more pronounced than it had five minutes before. Perhaps it was possible that she had missed him (just a little bit) since he had left early that morning.
The sound of his feet in the hall changed direction, and soon he stuck his head back through her open door. "Yeah?"
"I could bring my work out there with you. If you want," she proposed almost shyly.
Booth beamed. "That'd be great, Bones. Let's get you relocated."
She wasn't comfortable. He knew her well enough to know that she wasn't prone to squirming while she worked. She could lock herself into the same position for six hours at a time when she was focused on any given task, and it was a habit even pregnancy hadn't been able to change, despite the frequent, numerous discomforts it caused her. He had already asked her three times if she wanted to sit with him on the couch instead of in the wicker chair at the high table behind him, but each time she refused and resumed typing. And each time less than ten minutes passed before he could hear her chair shifting once more.
Going against his sense of self preservation, Booth twisted around in his seat. "You sure you're feeling okay, Bones? There's plenty of space over here."
Brennan heaved a laboured sigh. "I'm sure, Booth. Stop asking."
The key tapping began anew; Booth shrugged and returned his attention to the television set.
Just when he was almost convinced that he was merely being over analytical (yes, he recognized the backward-ness of it all) the rapid-fire typing ceased abruptly. However, instead of the restless shifting he predicted, Brennan remained quieter than she had managed in all the time since he had come home. Booth turned his head just in time to catch her scramble out of the chair to her feet.
"What are you doing?"
She froze and then turned slowly to meet his eye, and Booth caught a glimpse of something that looked a lot like guilt before she fixed a more neutral expression to her face.
"I need to urinate." He raised his eyebrows and Brennan began to stutter slightly. "I drank more tea than I should have earlier."
There was a minor battle of wills between them as each tried to stare down the other, but when Brennan pursed her lips, indicating to Booth that tiny bladder or no tiny bladder she was willing to stand in that spot all day, he shrugged and sat back in his seat. When he heard her footsteps resume and was confident she no longer faced him, Booth turned to watch her make her way down the hall and frowned as he catalogued her awkward gait. While he knew it would be suicide to call attention to it, the stride he was witnessing seemed more pronounced than what had become her new normal once her centre of gravity shifted. He shook his head; she was probably fine. He was reading too deeply into nothing. He wouldn't be the idiot to say it to her face, but all traces of her usual walk had disappeared somewhere in month seven.
Resolutely, Booth rewound the goal he had missed and focused on the game. By the time he heard the door open again he had managed to successfully lose himself in an intense power play, and as Brennan's footsteps drew nearer the general inquiry he made was slightly distracted at best.
Whatever had been bothering her before had apparently resolved itself, because for the next fifteen minutes her steady typing filled the background in the focused, driven manner to which he was accustomed. Without consciously realizing just how uneasy her stilted work progress had made him, Booth finally relaxed completely. Until the next time she went stock-still. And the next.
Following the second period, Booth let the commercials run and stood up to grab a beer from the kitchen. It wasn't until he was on his way back, beer in hand, that his gaze somewhat absently fell on Brennan. He wasn't sure why she was catching his eye in a different sort of way, but once again he experienced that persistent, niggling sensation that something was up.
"Did you change your clothes?"
"Yes." Brennan answered without breaking speed.
"What brought that on?"
"I was no longer comfortable in what I was wearing."
"Your sweatshirt and yoga pants were uncomfortable?" Booth reiterated confusedly.
Brennan exhaled impatiently and whipped her head around to meet his eyes. Booth took a step back. He didn't have to be good at reading people to know what she was thinking right now. If he interrupted her again he wasn't going to get off with a killer glare.
He raised his hands in a gesture of surrender and left her in peace.
The timer on the oven sounded and Booth headed into the kitchen – more than ready for dinner – while Brennan continued to type at breakneck speed. After he pulled the pan from the oven and switched off all the dials, he stared hesitantly at the back of her head over the half-wall dividing the rooms. Something had certainly lit a creative fire under her, and the part of him that wanted to leave her to her work (since it was obviously of the utmost importance to her right now) warred against the part of him that really just wanted to eat. Asap.
Her body tensed and her hands abruptly left her keyboard and curled into fists at her sides. Booth frowned; he supposed it was a good thing that she had hit her stride, but these intermittent pauses of hers were really throwing him off. He was about to interrupt her when she began typing once again like a woman possessed, and then he settled for rolling his eyes and setting the table.
When there was nothing left for him to do in the kitchen, hunger overrode patience. Booth stood beside Brennan's chair and began to simply close her computer as she typed; subtlety be damned. Odds were, if she had been working like this all day she probably hadn't remembered to eat much anyway. A break was warranted.
"Booth!" she protested. "I'm not done."
A brief struggle over the position of her laptop screen ensued, with Booth ultimately coming out on top as the lid shut tight against the keys when her hands were just slightly slower than his. He ignored her glare. Hell, he was used to it. Her mouth parted in righteous indignation and Booth quickly pressed his lips against hers before she started yelling at him. Just because he could.
"What?" he laughed, shifting a hand down her sweater to caress her stomach. "Baby, it can wait. Just-
Brennan shifted uncomfortably, and Booth jerked his hand away from her as if he had been scalded.
"What was that?" he demanded.
"No no no, don't play dumb. That!" he gestured vaguely, waving a hand in the direction of her abdomen. "What just happened?"
"Nothing! She moved; that's all."
"She- Bones…" He scrutinised her face and when a guilty flush slowly crept over her he again pointed at her triumphantly. "Ha!"
"I don't know what you're talking about," Brennan denied quickly. "I'm very busy-
Her breath caught and her fingers reflexively tightened around the edge of her seat before she could help it. She gave herself a mental kick for such a stupid giveaway and she tentatively met Booth's eye, futilely hoping that the overt action had escaped him. Of course, it hadn't.
Booth took a clumsy step backward and tripped over her chair leg. The sight of the graceful agent falling to the floor and quickly bounding back to his feet would have been comical under other circumstances, and as it was, Brennan had to bite back a laugh at the combination of horror and surprise flooding his face despite the pain in her lower muscles that hadn't yet fully subsided.
"You are in labour," he accused. "You've been having contractions. You've been having contractions all day."
"No! No, not all day. Just- alright, perhaps, perhaps since this morning, but I didn't know that was what they were, then," her voice suddenly dropped to a low mutter, and he had to strain to hear her next words. "My amniotic sac only ruptured less than an hour ago."
If Brennan had thought he had been on the brink of a meltdown before, it was nothing compared to the way he looked now. Booth's jaw worked noiselessly up and down. "Are you kidding me?"
"Booth, childbirth takes hours! This is exactly why I didn't tell you earlier. You are overreacting as usual."
The fork-in-toaster look stayed firmly in place, and again, it took time before he could force speech. "Just how long were you planning on keeping this to yourself?"
"Only until I finished my novel." She blurted the honest answer before she had time to filter herself and then winced. "Oops."
Her blunder snapped Booth out of his daze and his face hardened. "We're leaving. Now."
"But nothing. Jesus Christ, Bones. You're unbelievable."
"But we still have time! This is my first delivery, Booth. Statistically, it is likely to take a while."
"I may not have a whole bunch of fancy letters following my last name, Bones, but I'm pretty sure "all day" constitutes as a while."
"Wait!" Brennan pleaded desperately. "Please? The contractions are still seven minutes apart and I'm almost done! I'm working on the final scene."
Booth frowned. "Bones, you're in pain. You're starting to get kind of sweaty looking. I'll bring your laptop with us, if that's what's going to get you in the car, but we're leaving."
"Half an hour." Brennan attempted to negotiate.
"Oh my God. You don't have a choice in this, okay? We're a little past the point of no return here. Let's go!"
"It's not necessary!" she protested, "Her timing is very selfish."
"Fifteen minutes, Booth. Give me fifteen minutes."
"Temperance, we don't have fifteen minutes!" When she failed to respond, Booth rubbed a hand through his hair. God help him she was impossible. "I will carry you out of here," he threatened.
"I'd like to see you try," Brennan snorted.
"Baby, I'm begging you. Do you hear me? I'm begging. You're stressing me out. Let's go; please let's go."
The mounting anxiety in his wild eyes was raw enough to make Brennan hesitate; it was moments like these in which she most regretted the emotional doors Booth had helped her open. She could all but feel his concern and it was very difficult to make self-centred decisions when just looking at him invoked such intense feelings of guilt.
"Fine." Booth exhaled loudly in relief and Brennan hurried to finish her sentence before he whisked her out their front door. "But I would like my computer. I wasn't exaggerating when I said I could potentially have quite a few hours to go before delivery."
"Done." Booth snatched up her laptop from the table and helped Brennan off her chair. "Alright; we're out of here."
The authenticity of the situation hadn't hit her following the arrival of the intense back pain or rippling muscle contractions; she had automatically compartmentalized the labour indicators without consciously setting out to do so. But when Booth closed her passenger door it finally jarred Brennan out from behind her shield of rational thought and thrust her into her impending reality. She braced her belly with both hands and let her thoughts run free as Booth tossed her overnight bag on the floor near the rear door and walked around to the driver's side of the SUV. She was in labour. She was having a baby. She was going to be a mother. She hated speculation but it was now proving impossible to keep from imagining the infinite possibilities her future held. She was having a baby.
Booth climbed into the vehicle and closed his door, and for a moment, they both sat frozen.
Finally Booth turned his head to stare at her. "Holy shit."
Brennan let out a deep laugh. "My sentiments exactly."
"…ow." She squirmed, frowning as her discomfort increased. "Ow! Ow, Booth! Son of a bitch!"
"I know. I know, honey."
"I've only recently come around to your insistence on utilising condescending monikers like 'babe,' and 'baby'; and even that thin tolerance is far from consistent. If you ever call me honey again, I will kick you in the testicles with as much force as I can muster. I swear to God, Booth, I'm not joking."
"Sorry. Try and relax."
"Relax? You try and relax while knowing you are only hours away from pushing a human head out of an orifice that's never been stretched to accommodate anything bigger than-
"You're panicking; you can't panic."
"Why not? I believe my panic to be reasonable at this juncture."
"Because… well, because in situations like these I'm the panicker and you're the voice of reason. Those are our roles."
"I propose a trade."
"Nope. No tradesies."
Brennan was wrong, for once. But Booth very graciously – very wisely – decided to refrain from pointing that out this time around. Her small laptop victory wasn't even worth noting because her daughter hadn't wanted to wait all night, and two and a half hours after Booth hussled Brennan out of their building she collapsed against the hospital bed; spent, gasping for breath and pushing sweat drenched locks of hair out of her eyes.
Was it over? It was over, right? Because she was done. She had been shot, stabbed and tasered before and she was pretty sure this topped all of those. From here on in she and Booth were using condoms in addition to her birth control; she'd like to see his super sperm get through that. On the other hand, maybe they should just cut out sex altogether. It would serve him right; it was a little convenient that the part of Booth's Catholic schooling he chose to ignore was the part that promoted abstinence… and speaking of Booth, why the fuck did he get to look so goddamn happy right now? As soon as she could move, she was going to knock him flat on his ass.
As her breathing slowed she heard the soft mewling of a newborn, her newborn, and it donned on her muddled brain that it really was over at about the same time Booth began to speak.
"Hey beautiful," he began thickly. "We've been waiting for you."
Brennan's exhaustion and discomfort took a backseat and she struggled to sit forward, reaching eagerly toward Booth as the cries grew stronger. Booth gently placed the infant in her waiting arms and Brennan cradled her with natural ease while grinning stupidly. It took a few tries, but she eventually found her voice.
"Hello," she murmured huskily. "I am very happy you are here."
Booth was pressing soft kisses all over her sticky temple and she tore her eyes away from the bundle in her arms to gaze at him with euphoric wonder. "Look what we made."
Booth chuckled. "She's perfect."
It didn't occur to Brennan to argue the impossibility of total perfection, because how could anyone find fault in someone so beautiful? Instead she shook her head because she was sure that no one could understand the magnitude of this phenomenon the way that she did. "But we made her. She's ours. We did this Booth; us."
He kissed her again and placed one large pinkie in the grip of his daughter. "With lungs like that, there's no doubt she's ours."
Brennan stared intently at their girl and committed each of her delicate features to memory. The perfect full lips, the fine lashes, the bright blue eyes and dark hair and impossibly tiny fingernails.
Her metaphoric heart was very close to exploding through its metaphoric seams.
"You are so small, and you are already loved by many people." She ran her fingers lightly over the baby's soft skin in amazement. "You are worthy of this love. I promise that I will do my best to ensure you never doubt it."
"Sweetie, she's gorgeous," Angela gushed.
Brennan beamed with pride. "I know."
Hodgins decided that Angela had been hogging the baby for far longer than her fair turn, and he deftly stole the child from his wife's arms.
"Hey there, cutie," he charmed with ease. "Welcome to the asylum. Good luck, kid; you don't have a chance."
Angela rolled her eyes and then stared expectantly at the new parents. "So are you going to spill a name anytime soon or are we supposed to just call her Baby Girl Booth indefinitely?"
Brennan smiled tiredly as Cam forced Hodgins to surrender the baby with a mere lift of one perfectly arched eyebrow, and then she looked questioningly to Booth. Off his encouraging nod, her face shone and her eyes once again strayed to the child now nestled in her boss' capable grip.
"Ellie," she tongued lovingly. "Her name will be officially recorded as Eloise on her birth certificate, but I have already grown quite accustomed to calling her Ellie."
"Ellie Booth." Angela smiled. "I love it."
Suddenly her eyes widened and she clapped her hands excitedly. "Merrin and Ellie… oh my God, it's perfect. In college I dated the yummiest drummer, and I can't for the life of me remember his first name, but his last name was Marinelli; it's destiny. Our girls are going to be knockouts. I mean, it seems like a given seeing as we're all so sinfully attractive, but this puts it beyond doubt."
Cam gave a resigned shake of her head as Hodgins immediately began pumping Angela for information regarding this gorgeous ex at the same time Booth demanded that she stop sexualizing his half-hour-old baby and Brennan vehemently denounced the existence of fate/destiny. All the while, Angela insisted that if any of them had seen this Marinelli guy they wouldn't have a choice but to agree with her. Because the man had been that beautiful.
"Hodgins is right, you know," Cam confided, staring deep into Ellie's alert eyes. "You really don't stand a chance."
March 25th, 11:25am
You're driving too fast, Booth! She's scared!"
"Would you stop yelling at me? I'm barely meeting the speed limit."
"She's making that face again." Brennan fussed with the straps on the car seat and made minute adjustments to the bundling on the infant. "She's going to start crying."
"Babies cry, Bones. She's going to do a lot of it."
Brennan glared at the back of Booth's head, but before she could formulate a snippy comeback of her own, Ellie scrunched up her nose and let out a short plaintive cry; as if she had yet to quite decide whether or not she was going to escalate to a full tantrum.
"I acknowledge your discomfort, but there is very little I can do to improve it right now. We will be home in approximately thirteen minutes," Brennan comforted, stroking the baby's cheek. "I promise, you will be given freedom to exercise your limbs the moment we find ourselves on the inside of the front door."
Booth smiled into the rear-view mirror. While Ellie didn't quiet completely, her cries didn't increase either. "Why don't you play your little phalanges game with her, Bones?"
Brennan rolled her eyes. "She's far too young for that Booth. Her vision has limitations." Booth moved his lips in silent mimicry, but Brennan was already too absorbed in the baby to take any notice. "Isn't she beautiful? While Merrin was a fairly attractive infant, I believe that Ellie is still much prettier than Merrin was at this age."
"Whoa, Bones," Booth started to scold her but he couldn't help chuckling, "that's your niece you're talking about."
"Also, I spent significantly less time in active labour than Angela did."
This time, Booth couldn't even begin to mask his laughter. "You did amazing, baby. It's not a competition though, okay? You go around saying things like that to Angela and you're going to get smacked."
Brennan shook her head. "It's far more likely that she would pull me aside for one of our 'talks,' but nevertheless, I can see the wisdom in your advice."
By the time they reached the condo Ellie had fallen asleep, but the change in motion as the vehicle slowed to a stop had her making her way to consciousness once again. Booth walked around to the trunk while Brennan released the seat buckles and pulled the carrier free, rocking it gently when Ellie began to fuss again.
"We are very close," she soothed. "However, given the outside temperature it would be incredibly negligent to unzip you at this time."
Brennan smiled adoringly at the infant and made sure Booth was otherwise occupied before removing Ellie's tiny arm from beneath the blankets and blowing soft raspberries into the palm of her hand.
A sharp rapping on her window startled her, and then Booth's smug tone hit her through the glass.
"I saw that, Bones."
She doubted that he could actually see her from the outside of the tinted pane, but Booth sometimes had very clever answers for his behaviour that made it very difficult to tell if he was bluffing. In the end, she simply rebundled the baby and exited the vehicle, standing patiently beside Booth as he removed the abundance of baby paraphernalia they had acquired over their two night stay.
After closing the trunk door – and nearly dropping everything he held in the process – Booth met her eyes with his charm smile firmly in place. "You ready for this, partner?"
Brennan returned his smile with a megawatt cocky grin that rivalled his best. "I was born ready, Booth."
"How long have you been waiting to say that?" he asked with a laugh.
"A while," Brennan answered vaguely, swinging the carrier gently as they fell into step.
"A while? What, is motherhood making you un-squinty already? 'A while' is not an answer, Bones."
"Well, it's the only answer you're going to get, Booth."
She held the building door open for him and stood on her tiptoes to place an impulsive kiss on his cheek as he passed. The kiss immediately brought out an overconfident smirk, and Brennan blushed furiously before giving Booth a light push forward to deflect his gaze.
"I find your teasing especially irritating today."
"I love you too, Bones. I love you too."