A/N: I know we all hate author notes but PLEASE READ.
I'm crazy for doing this when I already have another multi-chapter story in progress (especially one that I need to update) but this idea just keeps haunting me. It won't quit and it won't go away. I really don't enjoy angst but I figure I better get it out of my system before it eats me alive.
The backstory for how we got to this point will be explained along the way in the form of flashbacks. Hopefully it won't be too confusing. If there's something in particular you think is important that you want me to try and address please feel free to drop me a line.
Special thanks to jenlovesbones for helping me with the story title and the name of the restaurant...and for dragging me into the full swing of Twitter.
Finally - this is unbetaed. All mistakes are mine. Feel free to point them out...or mock them.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything that you recognize. I make no profit and intend no copyright infringement.
Chapter One: Trouble on the Line
Change is inevitable. People grow and adapt to the events and relationships that touch their lives. Through birth, life, love and even death we learn little details that push us forward. Things that make us want to change. Things that help us discover who we truly are.
Temperance Brennan looks down at the red heels sticking out from beneath her navy blue suit pants and smiles. In another lifetime, she'd have said that it was her best friend Angela Montenegro who had picked out the pumps telling her that every woman should accessorize with a bright splash of color. But these shoes were selected by someone else. Someone very special.
She runs her fingers over the chunky beads of the necklace hanging around her throat as she waits for the stagehand's direction. When instructed to do so, she takes her seat and the technician double checks the functionality of the microphone at her left lapel. She smiles kindly at him as they are joined by the show's host.
"Dr. Brennan," the blonde sticks out her hand. She has the appearance of an aging beauty queen - too much make-up and enough styling products to keep every hair in place in gale force winds. Her bright colored suit is ill-fitted for a woman of her age and weight. "It's so lovely to have you. I'm a huge fan."
"Ms. Winters," she acknowledges coolly as she accepts it. "I'd say the same, but I don't watch much television."
The woman's smile is forced now, something she only notices after years of watching her partner - no, husband - interact with people. They take their respective positions as the countdown for the interview begins.
"And we're back," Winters declares as the cameras start rolling again. "I'm here with world-renowned forensic anthropologist and best-selling author Dr. Temperance Brennan to discuss her latest novel - Skeletons in the Closet." She holds up the glossy hardback. "You're really turning them out these days, Dr. Brennan."
Brennan touches the buttons on her suit jacket. Her brow furrows slightly. "I don't know what that means," she replies.
The talk-show host has to work not to roll her eyes. "Early in your writing career, it was a year or more between your books," she states, "The last several years, you've been publishing more frequently - almost every six months."
Brennan can't stop the smile from touching her lips. She's avoided giving interviews in the past, even when her publisher pleaded with her. She realizes that this is the first one she's done since all of the changes in her life. "Yes," she says, her eyes sparkling, "That's correct..."
Five years ago...
"You're sure about this?" she asks, her eyes glittering up at him.
"About us?" he asks her. When she nods he cups the side of her face that isn't bruised. "More sure than I've ever been about anything," he tells her, "I'd rather have you than the FBI. I can find another job. I could never find another you."
She leans in and kisses him softly as her fingers curl into his. "Let's go," she says as the elevator doors slide open.
Everyone in the bullpen gets to their feet as the agent and his partner step into the room. There are whispers and stares but neither of the lovers notice.
Sweets hurries over and steps in front of the couple. "Just give me more time," he pleads. "I can get this worked out."
Brennan squeezes Booth's hand. Her eyes tell him it's his decision to make. He shakes his head. It isn't worth it. He's almost lost her one too many times. "Listen, Sweets," he says resting the hand that isn't holding Brennan's on the younger man's shoulder. "I know you mean well but I'm done. Life's too short. This was my - "
"Our," Brennan interrupts.
He gives her a soft smile. "Our last case," Booth finishes.
"I can make them reconsider dissolving your partnership. Your closure rate is exemplary. They..."
"Kid, I appreciate what you're getting at but we're done with crime fighting," his hand drops to his side and they sidestep the psychologist, leaving Sweets crestfallen at the departure of his favorite patients.
In another part of town there is a little pub. The owner chuckles as he polishes the last of the glasses that remain in Sunday night's rack behind the bar and puts it away with an admiring glance at it's logo. An acorn tips at a jaunty angle next to thick letters. The Nut House.
As he completes the task he grins as he thinks about how far his wife has come - how far they've come - as he watches her on the screen. He wipes down the bar with a sterile rag and takes his Monday morning inventory of the liquor and wine.
"...but I'm not here to discuss my personal life. I'm here to discuss my book," he hears her tell the host coolly.
"That's my girl," he laughs as he leans against the counter.
"How about a few questions then?"
Dragging his attention away from the flat screen, he calls out to partner in the kitchen. "Hey, Gordon?"
The former psychologist turned chef pops his head out and slings a towel over his shoulder. His white shirt is already stained with barbecue sauce from the ribs that have become Monday night's signature dish. Fuzzy eye brows lift on eye contact.
"Let me know when the truck gets here, will ya? I'm going to finish watching Bren's interview."
The Brit nods and heads back to the kitchen.
It's a different kind of partnership for the former FBI Agent, but it's one that he relishes in. Gone are the days of chasing down murderers. Now it's greeting customers and scheduling deliveries. It's waking up every morning next to the woman he loves. And orphaned crayons on the coffee table as tiny hands shuffled magnets to hang family portraits on the refrigerator door...
Four years, eleven months ago...
"I'm home!" he calls out to her as he enters their apartment. "Bones?"
"In here," her voice drifts down the hallway.
He finds her in the bathroom perched on the edge of the tub. It's a scene he's been in before. With another woman. In what, aside from having his son, feels like another life. He finds himself choking on emotion.
"Before you say anything," she says as she reaches for his hand, "I haven't looked yet. If it's positive, I can't do this without you. I don't want to."
Relief floods over him as he hits his knees in front of her. "Marry me."
"Booth, we don't even..." she responds startled by the words even though she expected them.
"It doesn't matter if it's positive today," he says tenderly. "I'm asking because I want to spend the rest of my life holding you whether we have children or not."
A single tear slips from the corner of her eye as she lowers herself to face him. Reaching out, she pulls his mouth down to hers in a soft kiss. Her tongue swipes over his lips and his arms wrap around her frame.
She gropes at the edge of the sink until her fingers close around the plastic stick resting on it's edge. She opens her eyes and looks at the result. Breaking the kiss, she looks into his eyes and smiles broadly. "Yes, Booth," she answers. "Yes, I'll marry you, Daddy."
His eyes light up and he reaches for the test. "No. Really?"
She nods and hands it over.
He looks at it and back at her. "We're gonna have a baby!" he whispers excitedly as he drags her close. Their lips fuse and he realizes that, in that moment, he's fallen in love with her all over again.
"We're going to take a few questions from our viewers at home now. Hi, you're on the air with Leslie!" Her voice is light and frothy. Exactly what you'd expect from a morning talk show.
The line crackles with static.
"Hello?" the host repeats. "Are you there caller?"
As the station is about to disconnect the call, a chilling augmented voice hits the airwaves. "I have your daughter. You'll receive an envelope. Bring eight million dollars to that address to receive the coordinates of her location. You have 18 hours. This will be my only communication."