A/N: This was originally written for the bitesize_bones cliche & crack comment fic meme, for TemperTemper's wonderful prompt Brennan spontaneously decides that if Angela is having a baby she wants one too. I'm cross-posting it on FFN for a couple of reasons - the first being that a little while ago, I told a lot of people on here (like, 70 of you, which still blows me away) that I was toying with some ideas on how to fix B&B post-Hannah and this fic was ultimately the culmination of those ideas, stolen for a separate purpose - and also because of Tadpole24, who I promised I'd post this somewhere she could read it. Em, hon, I never got my act together in time to write you a birthday fic, so consider this so-fluffy-it's-brain-candy fic a slightly belated offering ;)
"Tell me you did not buy that kid another one of those things."
Brennan's answering smile is both sly and endearing, a fact not lost on Booth by any means. As she excitedly pulls the creamy yellow onesie from the square-edged boutique bag, something twists in his stomach - winding in that familiar way that in the months before had never quite disappeared.
She waves the garment over the table, careful to avoid the many dishes of food she'd prepared for their evening and explains gleefully, "The depiction of Papilio machaon here is anatomically correct."
He has to smile. "It's a butterfly, Bones. A butterfly."
"I thought that Hodgins would appreciate the scientific accuracy."
Nodding along, "I'm sure he will."
But she doesn't seem miss the amusedly skeptical look on his face (quite possibly hand in hand with the fact that she doesn't seem miss much of the general set of feelings and reactions that have danced across his features lately) and asks, "Do you have some kind of problem with my purchase for the baby?"
The baby, not the fetus.
It should've been his first sign.
But it's not.
"Well, no, I don't. It's just that between you and Angela, you seem to have bought this kid a lot of stuff. And babies grow fast Bones – I just don't want Hodgins Jnr in there outgrowing all this stuff before he-or-she gets the chance to wear it."
"I am quite aware of the rate at which infants grow Booth, I'm just… very excited about the baby's impending arrival." A smile plays on her lips, before she concedes carefully, "Almost irrationally so."
The way she says it - the brightness behind her eyes that's so very obvious and infectious sees to it that he can't help but smile in return, leaning into the table as he replies with a gentle lilt, "I know. And that's… very okay. It's normal, even."
He'd meant the comment as a joke but when he lifts his head, a look of concern is playing across her face, her features betraying what would once have been an unusual amount of emotion for Temperance Brennan.
"Hey, whoah, Bones," he reaches to her, his hand wavering a number of inches in front of her face, "That definitely isn't a bad thing."
She pauses for a moment, almost measuring him in the quiet few seconds that pass between them. Less forcefully, she explains, "That is… not the source of my current anxiety."
Brennan's eyes follow him closely and the feeling of discomfort begins to prickle at the back of his neck. "Well ah, did you… want to talk about it?"
He's almost reluctant to push for more. He can see it happening - he knows that it isn't like him and that it maybe isn't fair, but there's still enough of the guy who gave Bones the choice between partners and broke in him to make him cautious.
And right now the air between them feels heavy.
Brennan presses on.
"It's just that seeing Angela pregnant like this, awaiting the birth of her child... it has caused me to revisit my own desire for children."
"Oh, whoah, Bones-"
But she cuts him off, her words stronger than before. "I understand your caveat from last time Booth, and I also recognize that in light of more recent circumstances it wouldn't be appropriate to ask you to be any part of this."
There's something so obviously calm about her assertion, right down to her even words, neutral tone and assured mannerisms.
As something begins to ring between Booth's ears, he tries not to pin all of these things as some kind of hard-fought acceptance. A firm belief that this is the way things have to be.
And then, "I've already located another donor."
He can feel his throat getting tight as the far-reaching reality of the conversation begins to settle in. All of a sudden, Bones wants a baby - another man's baby that will see her body grow round and ripe with life - that will see her tied to and responsible for this other person for the rest of her life.
It's the forever part that gets stuck in his mind.
Booth swallows. "No."
His objection is out before he even has time to think about it.
"What?" Brennan is more surprised than anything.
"You shouldn't use some donor."
Brennan is indignant, "Why not?"
This stops him, if only briefly, his mind skittering off to places that he's at least tried to avoid until recently. It's a far-off fantasy and at the same time, a long-held and almost unshakable belief about the things that he wants out of life.
Struggling through these errant thoughts, he goes with the safest response he can find. "Babies should be born out of love Bones..." He falters, his voice dipping, "Making love."
Her eyes are dark. "What if I don't have that option available to me?"
It seems as though there is only one answer he can give her.
"...What if you do?"
It hangs there for a moment, as their eyes catch and hold for that second too long - just long enough to share in the meaning of what Booth may very well be trying to say.
His voice is gravelly as he pleads with rushed words, falling abruptly "I just need more time. I just need more time to sort myself out and to sort this out. I still need to make things right."
Shock. Pure and blind shock. "What?"
He can't get the image of a pregnant Bones out of his head. Pregnant by some other man. Forever tied by another life to some anonymous person who hasn't earned the right to all the truly amazing things that make her Temperance Brennan.
The truth begins to escape, leaking through into his explanation much more freely and more urgently than before.
"Those few months Bones - Hannah, everything... I feel like I need to prove something now. Explain it - for you and for me." He doesn't quite look at her as the fractured sentences stumble into the air between them, continuing, "I feel like I need to earn back a lot of trust."
"No. No. I thought that you didn't..." Brennan trails off. "You said that it was partners or nothing. You don't..."
Booth sighs, and interrupts as she reaches to finish her sentence. "I meant that then - I... still need that now. And time, I need some more time."
Brennan seems distressed. "But you have nothing to apologize for. Y- You haven't done anything that could be considered unacceptable in the circumstances, so there should be no reason for you to seek any kind of forgiveness in this manner."
He can't help but fear the undercurrent of detachment in her reply - her near-stammering words and anxious tone as though she desperately might be trying to understate the nature of their relationship with her claims.
His response is dark, tentative. "...It feels like I did."
And then he's sent second guessing himself and his accusations of detachment all over again as a more gentle expression and a definite half-smile settles over her features as she carefully reassures him, "I mean it Booth, really... I still trust you. I understand what happened and I recognize the very significant role that I personally had to play. You shouldn't feel as though you owe me any kind of apology."
Just like that.
No problems and no recrimination.
It's a redemption of sorts - he might not completely agree with what she's saying (he might never agree with what she's saying) - but her quiet reassurance seems to chip away at his fear. Fear that she doesn't place the same value on their relationship (as him, or as before), fear that he has so much more to atone for now.
Fear that together they are unfixable. Each in turn is somehow diminished by what she has to say.
A future stretches out to eternity when he asks this time - for the first time, "Will you give me that chance, just to sort some things out?"
Her jaw works - she might actually be scared now as opposed to angry or anything else - now that he's finally made this a very real option for her to consider.
But then, he's more than a little scared himself.
"It's not as easy as that." And then, with an edge - her last stand at logic, "This isn't something that I have infinite amounts of time to achieve. The rate of conception in women over 35 is-"
"It... won't take me that long."
He pushes his seat in towards her own. His nervous hands come to settle on her abdomen, tracing random circles that burn through to her skin and his shoulder roll forward, towards her as the intimacy of the moment surrounds them both.
A mutter, again, "It won't take me that long."
"So, if I wait this... arbitrary amount of time, then..."
"Then we have a baby," he finishes her sentence with slow and careful words. His hand continues on their wayward path as he adds, "And... you get to be the mom and I get to be the dad, and we do it all together."
Brennan's eyes are wide, bright. "Together?"
"Every diaper change, every midnight feed, all those silly milestones we'll both get ridiculously excited about."
Her hands come to rest on top of his own.
"...I'll wait. For you."
They share a smile - bone-deep, quiet and so very familiar as the enormity of their decision begins to settle. Booth's hands make one last pass across her stomach, slow and light - storing the memory away for later - before pulling back, her own fingers reluctantly disentangling when the space between them is restored.
It's a few far-reaching seconds before she offers him more potatoes and dives back into conversation about Baby Hodgins - no further discussion necessary. There is no more mention of their arrangement, no details - this is her, giving him time. Yet, through talk of onesies, educational stimuli and the order of Lepidoptera, her eyes dance.
They're going to have a baby. A baby.
And he may have a new score to settle - a new balance sheet with a new column waiting to be filled with cosmic credits in the name of making it all right again but it doesn't seem like the same enormous task that it was before.
Bones is waiting for him. And they're going to have a baby.
Okaaay, so I know I said this was kind of meant to compensate for my lack of a Five Things follow up - but a few people have already asked me to expand on this one and there's some temptation (and a few ideas, of the baby!fic variety) beginning to entice me to do just that. So if you might be interested to read more, please let me know - I'm still trying to work out if it's a crazy idea or not ;) Replying to reviews is also more fun that working on my dissertation, so general feedback is both welcomed and squeed over.