A/N: This one is dedicated to Matt Nathanson for single-handedly providing the soundtrack for the writing of this chapter. "Faster" cannot be played enough. Fact. Go download it right now. You can thank me later.
"Hey, guess who's here to meet you." Booth whispered as he picked up the pink bundle of flesh and blankets. "It's the squint squad." He smiled as his daughter let out a small, unimpressed yawn. Yep, totally his daughter, he thought proudly. He turned around to show off his daughter. "Guys, meet Julia Christine Brennan Booth." Cam and Angela both had tear-filled eyes as they walked over to greet the newest member of their family.
"You named her after your mothers?" Cam said, unable to hide the emotion in her normally checked demeanor. Booth nodded and handed her off to Cam so she could hold her.
"I'm already calling her J.C." Booth said. Angela squeezed Hodgins' shoulder just a little more tightly in anticipation of holding the child herself. Jack smiled at his eager wife and shook Booth's hand.
"Congratulations, man. She's beautiful." Booth nodded and watched as Cam finally turned the child over to Angela.
"Hi gorgeous." Angela said as she took her in her arms. "Oh, she looks like Brennan." She said with a happy squeal.
"She looks like a baby." Hodgins said.
"Um, hello. Facial reconstructionist speaking." She said, offended by her husband's statement. "She's going to look just like her mommy. Aren't you? Don't pay any attention to Uncle Jack." Angela cooed, turning her attention back to the baby.
"Speaking of mommy, how is she holding up?" Cam asked Booth.
"She was, unbelievable. I don't know how she did it. She should be waking up any time now." Booth said as he glanced at the clock. It was eight AM and his daughter was already six hours old. "Let me go see if she's up for visitors." He said as he made his way across the hall and into their hospital room. Brennan was awake and he smiled at the sight of her.
"Good morning." He said with a kiss.
"Hi." She said before taking in his tired appearance. "Have you slept yet?" He shook his head.
"I will eventually." He said. "Cam, Hodgins, and Angela are here. Are you up to visitors?" She nodded and sat up. Booth darted back across the hall and took the baby from Hodgins. "She's awake." He said with a smile and nodded across the hall. The team made their way to the room and Booth placed Julia back into her bed in the nursery. He placed a kiss on her tiny hand before whispering "I'll be right back." He made his way back to the room to find Angela sitting on the edge of Brennan's bed. Both of them had started to cry at the mere sight of each other. Cam wrapped her arm around Booth's and rubbed his shoulder blade.
"Any chance of you sleeping?" She asked quietly. Booth shook his head with a smile. "I had to ask. I have been charged with trying to get you to rest."
"Adrenaline." He shrugged. "I'll sleep when I come down." He promised. She smiled.
"Happier than I have ever been." He said, sure of the fact and if the stupid grin on his face was any indicator, he was telling the truth.
"We're happy for you, big guy."
Parker peered over the edge of the cradle and reached out a finger to touch his new sister.
"She's really small." He said quietly. Booth smiled and nodded.
"You were that small once too." He told him as he pointed to his arm. "Your head fit in my palm and your toes hit my elbow."
"Really?" Parker said, unable to believe that he could have possibly been that tiny. "But that was a long time ago." He said.
"Yeah, but it seems like just yesterday for me." He said as he touched the top of his son's head. "So what do you think?" He asked, wanting to know what his son thought of all of this.
"About what?" He asked.
"About being a big brother. It's a big responsibility." He told him. "You've got someone else to keep an eye on now. You're the one who gets to teach her things and make sure that she's safe."
"I can do that." He said.
"I know you can." Booth said with a smile. "Come here, kid." He said as he pulled his son over to him for a hug. Parker hugged his father reluctantly, unsure of why he was squeezing him so tight.
"Can't breathe." He finally croaked.
"Sorry." He smiled. "I'm just very proud of you. All of this has reminded me how fast time goes by and that when I wake up tomorrow, you're going to be going off to college and getting married. I have to appreciate you while you're still around."
"Dad." Parker rolled his eyes at his father's sentimentality and walked away, exhibiting his first real signs of his impending teenage behavior. Booth watched him go before Brennan replaced him at the door.
"Do you realize our daughter is going to hit the terrible twos when Parker turns thirteen?" He asked his partner. "Our timing is impeccable." Brennan rolled her eyes and smiled.
"We deal with murderers on a daily basis. I think we can handle it." She said as she handed Booth the bottle in her hand so she could pick up the baby.
"But then again, how could anyone so adorable ever be considered terrible?" He smiled as his daughter sucked noisily on her bottle. "You're gorgeous. You look more and more like your mama every day." Booth informed her.
"That may be, but she definitely got your stomach." Brennan observed as the bottle in her hands went dry.
"That's my girl." He smiled proudly.
"Daddy!" Booth bolted out of bed at the cry and headed for the nearest bedroom.
"What's wrong?" The tears began as soon as she set her sight on her father. "Oh, baby." Booth said as he swept her tiny body up into his arms. "Everything's okay. I'm right here. Shh. Don't cry." He rocked her for a few minutes. "Was it a bad dream?" He asked. She nodded and curled up into his neck again. Booth knew the terror of nightmares and so he did what he always did for Brennan, Parker, and himself. He brought her into the kitchen and fixed her a glass of chocolate milk. A few sips and she was still hiccupping, but she was on the mend.
He carried her back to bed and laid down with her. Her petite frame still fit snugly in between his arm and his torso. When she finally closed her eyes, he slipped out from underneath her and sat in the nearest chair, wanting to watch her sleep for a while. He knew there would come a day where he wouldn't be able to solve her problems with a hug and a glass of milk. Until that day, he would be here, in the chair next to her bed.
"Dad!" J.C. cried as she came storming in the house. Brennan looked up at Booth in surprise.
"In the kitchen." He called, wondering what would have his daughter so upset.
"What did you say to Ethan?" She demanded to know, her blue eyes shining with fury just like her mother's did when she was angry.
"What?" Booth asked.
"He won't even hold my hand right now. I pressed him for an answer and he gave me the impression that you two had talked and you said something that had him freaking out." Booth rolled his eyes.
"I didn't say anything he didn't already know." He defended himself.
"Booth!" Brennan said in surprise at her husband. "What did you say?"
"He asked what I did in the army so I told him that I was a highly decorated sniper."
"And…" Brennan said, knowing there was more.
"And that, combined with the fact that you were raised by a team of scientists who could get rid of a body without a single piece of trace evidence left behind, made us a family with some pretty interesting skill sets."
"Oh Booth." Brennan shook her head, knowing the exact tone of voice he had used. He had used it on her dates once upon a time as well.
"Jace, I promise, it wasn't meant to scare him off. I just want to make sure that he knows we expect him to treat you with respect. It's a dad thing."
"I've been on the other side of that equation, I know exactly where your good intentions lead." Brennan sighed. "Why don't you invite him over for dinner? Your father will behave himself and show Ethan that he has absolutely nothing to fear."
"Are you kidding? He's not going to come over here now!" J.C stormed up the steps to her room. Brennan waited for the slamming of her bedroom door before turning to her husband.
"Are you happy now?" She asked.
"We're ready for you." The assistant said as he opened the door to the viewing room. Booth and Brennan made their way inside and Booth stopped dead in his tracks at the sight of his daughter's back. The veil, the train, it was all sinking in. His daughter was getting married. She turned around and smiled nervously before taking in his face.
"Dad, don't look at me like that." She said.
"Like what?" He said.
"Like I'm five years old and playing dress-up."
"You will be five forever." He swore. "In here at least." He added as he tapped his temple. He turned to look at his wife, who had fallen eerily silent. The tears in her eyes were an indicator of whatever emotions were rushing through her at the moment. She simply sighed and nodded. J.C nodded back. Booth watched on in awe of their silent communication.
"It's the one." Brennan finally spoke.
"Right?" J.C. said as she looked in the mirror one more time. "Dad, what do you think?"
"I think it's perfect." He said honestly. "You look…unbelievable." He assured her. "Danny is a lucky man." She blushed at the mere mention of her fiancée's name and Booth took a deep breath as he turned to the assistant.
"We'll take it." He said as his daughter smiled brilliantly. Booth pulled out his credit card and handed it to the assistant before they left the room again. As soon as they were alone, Brennan allowed herself the rare opportunity to collapse into Booth's chest and heave a heavy sigh.
"I'm finding that this is harder than it was with Parker." She admitted.
"Because she's the baby." Booth said.
"She's so young." She said again as she glanced back to the closed door.
"She may be 25 but she knows exactly what she wants. She gets that from you." Booth smiled into his wife's hair.
"Right, because I'm the stubborn one." Brennan teased. It hadn't been a surprise to learn that their daughter had inherited both of their stubborn streaks.
"I'm glad we were able to fly out to see the dress in person though." She said.
"California's a nice change from D.C winters." He agreed. "Maybe we should buy a house out here, you know, a place to stay when she starts having grandkids." Brennan groaned at the thought of her baby having babies.
"I like our house just fine." She said.
"It's empty now." Booth pointed out.
"But when the kids come home with their spouses and soon, their children? Then it will be full again and we will have people sleeping on the couch." She added. "Give it a few more years." She said as she patted his arm.
"Almost ready, I promise." J.C said as her brunette head peeked around the corner. "I just have to schedule my final fitting and then we're good to go." She said as she disappeared again. Brennan smiled.
"What?" Booth asked.
"I just see so much of you in her some times." She chuckled. They paid and were back at J.C's house within the hour. When Booth pulled up along the street, he couldn't help but smile as he saw the other car in the driveway. He glanced at Brennan.
"Is that…?" Brennan asked as she heard J.C jump out of the car. Sure enough, Parker was standing on the front step.
"Parks!" J.C. cried as she ran up and threw her arms around her older brother. "What are you doing here?"
"I heard there was a family gathering, so I thought I would crash." He smiled as he hugged his sister.
"Well, there's only one guest room so you've got the couch." She teased as she reached for her keys. Parker took the momentarily break to hug his parents hello.
"This is quite the surprise." Booth said. "Where's the Mrs.?"
"At home." He replied. "I was on business and did some maneuvering with my flights and got a layover in San Francisco. I'm just here for the night."
"Four Booths alone under one roof? When was the last time that happened?" Brennan asked.
"I don't know, but this is the last time that it's going to happen." Parker said as he smiled at his sister. "The next time we see each other, it's going to be three Booths and a Mitchell." He teased.
"Well then, we should celebrate." Booth decided as he rubbed his hands together.
"Ice cream sundaes!" J.C picked the dessert before her brother could respond. Parker closed his open mouth and lowered his finger in defeat. "Haha!" She chuckled victoriously. "You're getting slow in your old age, Parks."
"I let you win." He lied as he ruffled her hair. Booth rolled his eyes at Brennan as she sat down next to him on the couch.
"Some things will never change." He said. "Doesn't matter if they are four or forty."
"Two plus two will always equal four." Brennan replied.
"Life is still good." He finished with a grin.
"Life is very good." She agreed.