A/N: Yes, I am aware that I haven't updated Bodies in the Beach in a very long time. I have the first page or so of it written, but I'm stuck, and extremely busy with other things. The only things I have time to write anymore are the ones that jump into my head and won't leave me alone until I get them written. I promise that when things quiet down a little I am going to finish the next chapter of that fic! But until then, I give you this oneshot. :) It has been floating around in my head for over a year now, but I only just now got the inspiration to actually write it.
Actually, my own mom was the reason that I decided to finally write this. She makes me a lot of food, and I visit her at least once a week to pick up whatever she has made me, because I don't cook much and I guess she's afraid I'll starve. I'm definitely not complaining, she's a far better cook than I am! Anyway, it occurred to me how lost I would be without her (aww) and that birthed this.
Also, I would like to say that since the Bones timeline is a little weird in the show at the moment (is it September? is it December? the world may never know) I am going to assume that it is currently September at the beginning of Season 7. Allow that to shape the timeline for this fic. Oh, and this fic was inspired originally (back in 2009) by the song, "I Want a Mom" by Cyndi Lauper. It's really beautiful and touching if you want something sweet to listen to. Anyway, enjoy and let me know what you think! :)
Brennan leaned back into her desk chair, closing her eyes and letting a sigh escape her chest. For over a decade this holiday had passed without note. Yes, the first few years were very difficult—florist ads, an explosion of themed cards, an overflow of chocolates and teddy bears and roses in every store window. Dolphins, was what her mother had always wanted for Mother's Day. Find me something with dolphins, anything, I don't care. Dolphin cards and jewelry were not easy to come by, so they often settled for beach-themed instead, but of course her mother didn't care. All that mattered was that she got to spend Mother's Day with her family, her children, the reason she was honored on this day at all.
So yes, the first Mother's Day that passed without her mother, that was hard. She had a foster mom, and she did stop by the store on her walk home from school and use what little pocket money she had to buy the woman a card, but it didn't mean anything. It was a 49 cent card with a smiling bear on the front, and something painfully cheesy written on the inside, something like, I'm bear-y thankful for a mom like you! She penned her name on the inside and gave it to the woman, and the woman smiled, and then Temperance had holed herself up in her room for the rest of the day, and the woman did not bother her. Now Brennan couldn't even remember the woman's name. Sharon, perhaps. Or maybe Susan. Definitely not Mom.
Then the second came and went, and the third, and by the fourth or fifth year she had hardened herself to the entire concept of mothering, or celebrating motherhood. When her college roommate made a sheepish belated-Mother's Day phone call, Temperance pretended not to hear. When said roommate then asked what she had gotten her mom for the holiday, she replied with a flat, "Nothing." Said roommate (whose name Brennan did remember, it was Rachel) raised her eyebrows but did not say anything else about the subject.
So for many years, Brennan had felt nothing when that day in May rolled around. To her it was nothing to notice, certainly nothing to celebrate. But ever since the discovery of her mother's remains five years ago, that scar that had toughened up over that wound had been ripped open, just as raw now as it was when she was sixteen years old. Now it all got under her skin—the roses, the bears, the chocolates—in a way she had not felt in years. Now she shut the door to her office and buried herself in whatever manuscript she was currently working on whenever the day came, ignored her father's phone calls, and waited for it to be over. Her team had grown accustomed to the ritual, and they mostly let her keep to herself and weather the storm every year without much fuss. Mostly.
"Sweetie." The voice was slightly muffled through the thick glass wall that separated Brennan's office from the rest of the Medico-Legal lab. She didn't have to look up to know who it was, and she didn't look up. She kept her eyes shut pointedly, hoping that Angela would take her lack of response as a clear sign that she did not want to talk. Instead, Angela rapped on the glass with her knuckles, gently and then sharply until Brennan's eyes finally snapped open and she leaned forward in the seat, looking at her best friend on the other side.
"Sweetie, can we talk?" Angela asked. Brennan gave her a plain look, but she did not budge, so finally Brennan sighed and nodded her head. Angela let herself in and left the door cracked behind her, slowly easing herself down onto the couch cushions. At eight months pregnant she was an absolute whale compared to the wispy shape she'd had before her pregnancy. Her face and arms were as slight as ever, it was just that now she appeared to be smuggling a watermelon into the lab. She slipped her feet out of her shoes and put them up on the table.
"My ankles," she mourned.
"Yes, they're quite swollen," Brennan observed.
"I know," Angela said. "I can't even put real shoes on anymore, it's like trying to stuff a hock of ham into them." Brennan smiled despite herself.
"Is this what you came to talk to me about, your ham-hock ankles?" she asked. Angela shook her head.
"No, sweetie, I wanted to talk to you about moms." Brennan's face immediately darkened. Angela knew how she felt about the subject of mothers, particularly on this day of the year. "I know this isn't exactly your favorite holiday, but…"
"You're right, it's not," Brennan said crisply. "So I would really appreciate not having a conversation about the topic of motherhood on this day, if you don't mind."
"I need you, Bren," Angela said quietly. "Please, even if you won't talk, just hear me out, okay? Sometimes being someone's best friend means you talk about things you don't want to talk about when you don't want to talk about them, for someone else's sake. Please?" Brennan chewed the inside of her cheek briefly, then nodded.
"I suppose that's true, close social relationships do demand some level of personal sacrifice to maintain. I'm sorry," she said. "Go ahead." Angela smiled.
"Thanks," she said. "I just, you know, I'm about to pop with this baby and all, and Hodgins got me a card this morning, a Mother's Day card. Since I'm about to be a mom and all, he thought it was fitting."
"That was nice of him," Brennan said, not sure where Angela was going with this.
"Yeah, it was," she agreed with a sigh. "But it just made me think about my mom, and it made me worry about the kind of mom I'll be."
"What did happen to your mother?" Brennan asked curiously. In the many years they had been friends, they had never once discussed the fate of Angela's mother. She had met her father several times, but never so much as heard her speak of her mother but maybe once or twice in past-tense reference.
"She left," Angela said sadly. "When I was about six. She couldn't handle life on the road, touring everywhere. She wanted to be her own person, didn't want to be tied down to that domestic housewife routine."
"I'm not sure if I would call raising a child on a tour bus the domestic housewife routine," Brennan pointed out.
"Yeah, but to her it was," Angela said. "And I get that, you know? That's what scares me, is that I get it. Not wanting to be tied to anything or anyone, being able to just ride on the wind and be your own free spirit, I get it. The only reason Hodgins and I decided to stay here after we got back was so that we could raise the baby around family."
"I didn't think you had any family that lived near—"
"I meant you," she said. "You and everyone here, our family."
"Oh," Brennan said, finding herself oddly pleased by that.
"Yeah," Angela said. "But that's why we decided to stay, to settle down. For the baby. But what if I'm too much like my mom, and I get stir-crazy with being stuck here? What if I decide one day that I want to cut and run, you know?" At this point, Angela's eyes had grown damp, and Brennan could hear true distress in her voice. "What if I end up doing to my kid what my mom did to me, and just… just abandon them?" Brennan rolled her chair across the space between them and put her hand on Angela's knee, giving it a gentle squeeze. She had learned over time that this was an appropriate response to another woman's sorrow, that it was a sign of solidarity and care.
"You won't, Ange," she said. "I'm quite sure of it."
"How do you know, though?" Angela asked, pulling a tissue out of the box and dabbing the corners of her eyes. "Nobody thinks they're going to walk away from their family, not until it happens."
"Well, objectively I have seen you demonstrate a huge amount of loyalty within your relationships with other people," Brennan said. "You have always been an exceptional friend to me, you entered into a married relationship with Hodgins, and you flew all the way home on a moment's notice when you thought… when you thought your family needed you." Brennan couldn't help the way the corners of her lips picked up when she said that, and Angela beamed widely through her quiet tears. "You have never left any of us when we needed you, and I am nearly positive that you would never leave your child, no matter what you wanted. You just said to me that sometimes caring about people means doing what you don't want to do when you don't want to do it… I am sure you would not have any issue making those types of sacrifices for your own child. The bond between mother and child is exceptionally powerful, cross-culturally."
"Oh, sweetie," Angela said in a rush, leaning forward and pulling Brennan into a hug which she gladly accepted. As she held onto her best friend, she heard the door creak open.
"Hey, are you guys okay? I saw tissues flying…" Hodgins poked his head into the room with a worried expression. "That's not like, my-water's-breaking crying, is it?"
"No, worrywart," Angela said, sniffing loudly as she pulled back from Brennan. "It's not my-water's-breaking crying, it's motherhood anxiety crying." He took a seat on the couch next to her.
"Why anxious? You're gonna be a great mom," he reassured, and Brennan nodded.
"She is," she agreed.
"I hope so," Angela said in a worried tone, her anxiety still not fully absolved.
"I know so," Hodgins said, taking her hand in his. "Besides, it's not like I have some kind of über-mom prototype to compare you to, I never really had a mom. I was pretty much raised by au pairs, then my mom died. Never really knew her much. I think any mom would be better than an absentee mom. You'll be great, Ange."
"But what if something happens and I don't know what to do? What if the baby gets sick or I don't know how to do something right, who am I gonna call? Neither of us has a mom to tell us what to do."
"I guess we'll just have to wing it then, huh?" Hodgins said with a smile. "We've got the internet, we'll be fine."
"Hey, what's with the party in here?" Cam asked as she wandered into the room. "I thought we had a body that needed identifying?"
"Angela's having a crisis," Hodgins said.
"Uh oh, what kind?" Cam asked, leaning her shoulder easily against the wall.
"A mom crisis," she said. Cam's mouth made a small 'o' and she nodded.
"Yeah, this holiday kind of sucks, doesn't it?" she said, and the room at large agreed. "I never realized just how much my mom knew until Michelle came to live with me. Now I always wish I could call her and ask her questions about how to raise a teenager. She raised me, she knows how to get through these tough teen years… but now of course I can't ask her, so I've just kind of got to do it on my own."
"How do you manage?" Angela asked. "How do you not just throw your hands up and run out of the room screaming? I'm so afraid I won't be able to handle it."
"Because she's mine," Cam said simply. "She's mine now, she's my kid to raise, and I've got a responsibility to her to try and get it right. Because I love her, and I remember how much she needed me when she was a baby and I was dating her father. She still needs me, just in a different way. You won't run out screaming, Angela. You're better than that. You're going to make a great mom." There was a satiated quiet that fell over the room as each of them digested Cam's words, thinking about their own lives, until they heard heavy footsteps come down the hall towards the room.
"Hey, I… woah, what's wrong?" Booth asked as he stepped into the room and saw everyone's contemplative faces. "Is everything okay?"
"We're fine," Hodgins said. "We're just discussing what a sad, motherless brood we are." Booth's brows drew together as he looked over to Brennan.
"Oh," he said, sounding unsure of what to say.
"You don't have a mother either, do you Booth?" Brennan asked. He shuffled his feet a bit, shoulders slumping, looking uncomfortable.
"Not anymore," he said. "She died." Brennan was a bit surprised by the revelation—she had never heard him talk about his mother before, in any context, past or present. He had mentioned his father only a small handful of times, but not even broached the subject of his mother.
"Welcome to the club," Cam said, almost dryly. "Apparently it's a prerequisite to working at the Medico-Legal lab, to be dark and twisty with unresolved mommy issues." Angela snorted, Brennan tried to press her lips together but failed, and Hodgins began shaking with suppressed laughter. Nobody wanted to be the first one to laugh openly at the comment, but nobody could escape the bizarre, dark humor. It shattered the heavy atmosphere of the room, and it only took a few seconds for them all to begin cracking up.
"What's so funny?" a loud, irate voice asked. They all looked up to find Caroline Julian standing in the doorway to Brennan's office, looking cross.
"We, uh…" Cam began, searching for an explanation that could accurately describe the preceding conversation but coming up with nothing.
"Don't y'all have murderers to catch?" Caroline asked, crossing her arms in front of her. "I send you everything I got, I tell you the press is hot on us for an ID, and then I send you three faxes in a row and get nothing back. I come down here and what do I find? All y'all just sittin' around like it's a paid holiday. And you, Booth, I thought you had better sense," she admonished with the wave of a finger. "Y'all crack the whip on it now, come on! What do I look like, your momma?"
It was at that moment that Cam, who had been previously taken aback by the tongue lashing she and her group were receiving, began grinning stupidly. Hodgins wheezed with barely-restrained laughter, and Angela gave up altogether. Brennan snorted, and Booth simply shook his head, beginnings of a grin touching his high cheeks. Caroline gave them a look of utter confusion and shook her head, throwing her hands up in the air as she left the office.
"Insane, that's what y'all are," she muttered. "Totally lost it, I swear… never seen a group of people so damn nutty…" Soon she was out of earshot, and the laughter in the room died down to a quiet lull, punctuated by the occasional giggle.
"You think we should get back to work?" Angela finally asked.
"Probably," Cam said. "I don't think we should make Caroline any more angry than she already is. You know what they say… when momma ain't happy, ain't nobody happy."