I can't believe this is the end! I never imagined I'd ever write anything this long, or this involved – I had no idea it would turn into this.
I had no idea that I'd find such a warm and welcoming community of like-minded people. This fandom is awesome!
A final thank you to some1tookmyname – Tracy, you are just swell. Thank you for helping bring this story to life, and for your encouragement and expert editing skills – and for nudging me to keep going.
I am so grateful to all of you, my amazing readers, who have stuck this out with me for the past 2 ½ years. You kept me going! Thanks for being part of this journey with me. It's been a blast – I hope we can do it again soon!
Chapter 40 – Epilogue
All they'd been through as partners – all the team had been through – was finally behind them, and it was time to come together and mark the end of one of the hardest seasons of their lives.
The last several days alone had been a rollercoaster. In the space of seventy-two hours, Booth had taken out the world's most wanted terrorist, concluded his job at the CIA, filled out mountains of paperwork, had endless phone meetings – and was doing it on little to no sleep. He'd not left her apartment since he first arrived, and they'd expended much energy in the hours he was not on phone calls or filling out paperwork "making up for lost time," as he liked to put it.
Tonight, however, they sat together at the Founding Fathers with their friends, celebrating. Toasts were offered up to getting the bad guy, to the team, to temporary partners and new friends, to Booth and Brennan finally getting their damn acts together, and by the way, why the hell weren't they at home doing the "makeup tango" (this toast was given by Caroline, followed by a warning that they'd best be visiting her good friend, the Justice of the Peace, before long). Booth offered the last toast to Brennan. To healing. To love. To the future.
It was nearly midnight when the final round was poured, and one by one, their closest friends began to slip out – Angela, who had been having minor contractions and Hodgins, who was ready to call an ambulance, which was strongly opposed by Angela, were the first to go. Cam, Sweets, Caroline, Wendell, Vincent, and Daisy eventually followed suit, each offering hugs and well-wishes and support to Booth and Brennan in their own unique way.
As Brennan finally extricated herself from Ms. Wick's over-exuberant final embrace, she spotted Doggett. He approached the partners now, his blue eyes twinkling.
"Dr. Brennan, Agent Booth - I guess this is it. It's been a hell of a ride."
"Thank you, Agent Doggett, for everything," said Brennan. "I – will miss working with you - especially your fascinating stories about extraterrestrials."
Doggett smiled. "I'm gonna miss you, too, Dr. Brennan. Do you always put your partner through the shit I had to go through with you?"
"Always," Booth retorted. "But I think you got an extra dose."
Doggett laughed. "Well, I just wanted to say thanks to you both. I hope we'll be able to work together again sometime."
Booth knocked back the last of his beer and set his glass down on the bar with a sharp rap. He offered his hand to Doggett.
"John, I can't thank you enough for all you've done. You're a good man, and a great cop. We wouldn't be here without you."
Doggett shook his hand firmly. "It was truly an honor, Agent Booth." He released Booth's hand and hugged Brennan. "It's good to see you guys together again," he said, assessing the partners. "Take care of each other, ok? What the two of you have is rare. I'd venture to call it 'legendary.' You're Scully and Mulder."
"Hey! Scully and Mulder," grinned Booth. "See, Bones?"
She laughed, and they waved once more at Doggett as he made his way to the exit.
They turned back to the bar. He threw his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. "What do you say, Bones? Tequila?"
She flashed a conspiratorial grin and signaled to the bartender.
They reclaimed their usual place at the end of the bar, and drank until the bartender cut them off. Then, she paid the tab and turned to face her partner.
He was drunk. She couldn't blame him, actually, given all they'd been through. Months ago, they'd begun their journey in these very same chairs, fragmented, on separate paths, unaware of what lay ahead.
In spite of it all, and perhaps even because of it, she realized that the heartache, the fear, the separation, the brokenness – all of it was necessary. After years of bad timing and near misses, maybe this time they'd finally get it right.
And so, she gathered her things and stood.
"Let's get you home, Booth," she said, touching his shoulder. He smiled and stood, taking her hand in his, and she led him into the night, knowing that what was to come – what happened next – would be faced together, two parts of a whole that was finally complete.