A/N: This is just a short AU story that basically rewrites the second part of Season 5. Let's pretend that Booth wakes up from his coma, spends the next couple of months pining over Brennan a lá the real show, but then leaves for Iraq around episode 13 or 14 and never gets to make his move. That way, Brennan realizes that she needs him BEFORE the whole relationship is ruined. Deal? Thanks for your cooperation and your suspension of disbelief. Happy Reading!
Booth sighed as he jogged over to the hut that was set up for overseas communications. It was Parker's 9th birthday and he was missing it. He had never missed his son's birthday before and he was feeling like a terrible father. He hoped that Parker understood. It was Parker, after all, who wanted him to go to Iraq to save lives. His sense of duty and a generous promotion had been the final reasons that he had agreed to train Iraqi soldiers. The six month training session had also put a serious dent in his love life. He and Brennan were finally getting to the point where he thought there might be something more than a partnership awaiting in their future. After all of the drama of his brain tumor recovery, they were finally comfortable with each other again, and damn it if Booth hadn't found himself falling in love with the forensic anthropologist ever since he went to his dream world and realized exactly what he had been missing out on.
He opened the door to the small building and took his place at one of the computers. Fighting back the yawn from being up since five, he glanced at his watch. It was almost ten in the evening his time which meant that it would be the middle of the afternoon in DC. He was calling the Jeffersonian, as Angela had promised to let Parker use the big screen to talk to his father. When the Skype call was finally answered, he was slightly shocked by what he saw. The entire crew was behind Parker's chair, waving their hellos.
"Dad!" Parker waved at the camera.
"Hey Parker! Happy Birthday!" He smiled, genuinely ecstatic to see his son in real time. "How are you? Did you get my present?" He asked
"Yeah! It's at home, but you'll never guess what happened today!" He said excitedly. "Everyone at the lab threw me a surprise birthday party!"
"They did?" He smiled.
"Yeah, and I got all sorts of presents. See? I got this fun hat that Angela made that says "Prince of the Lab" on it." He said as he proudly pointed to the crown sitting on top of his head.
"Because apparently, in order to be King of the Lab, you have to have a doctorate." She explained with a roll of her eyes towards Hodgins who was nodding and smiling.
"And everyone gave me these really awesome science tools so I can practice at home. Hodgins says that he'll take me to the park to study bugs."
"Insects." Hodgins coughed.
"Oh right, sorry, insects. And Cam got me my own badge so I don't have to use the visitor one anymore. Plus, she says that if I'm good, I can get on the platform."
"If…there are no dead bodies." Cam added, after seeing Booth's worried face.
"Right." Parker said. "And Bones got me this huge book about anatomy so I can start learning all of my muscles and bones. She said that someday, if I study really hard, I could work in the lab here." Booth glanced at Brennan who was nodding.
"That sounds amazing, big guy." Booth said honestly. "How are you doing in school? Are you keeping up with your homework like you promised?" He said, having to be the dad for a few seconds.
"Yes. When I get stuck, Max helps me."
"He does?" Booth said, surprised.
"Yeah, and Brent helps me practice for baseball so when you get home, I'll be able to hit your slider." He said with a chuckle.
"We'll see." Booth said as he watched his son. "I miss you, Bub."
"I miss you too Dad. When are you coming home?"
"Two more months." He said. "I'll be home in time for Thanksgiving, I promise." Parker's attention was over at the door.
"Mom just got here with the cake. I'm going to go blow out the candles." Parker said as he stood up. "Bye Dad!" He waved.
"Bye Parker." He watched as everyone waved before slowly leaving the screen. Parker was replaced by Brennan, who sat down in her empty office chair. "Don't you want any cake?" He asked his partner with a small smile.
"They'll save a piece for me." She said seriously, not realizing he was just giving her a hard time. "How are you doing?" Brennan asked. "Are you staying out of trouble like you promised?"
"Always. You know that." He said.
"You look tired." She pointed out.
"Thanks for that, Bones." He said. "Speaking of being tired, how are you doing with that replacement partner of yours? Are you keeping him in line?"
"It's not the same." She said honestly. "Agent Thomas tries, but I find that his best is often not good enough. We need you."
"Aw, Bones. You're gonna make me blush."
"We all miss you Booth. Even more than we anticipated." She said.
"I miss you guys too. And thank you, by the way, for taking such good care of Parker while I'm gone."
"He's one of us, Booth. Agent Thomas calls him a mini-squint because he's always following one of us around, asking a thousand questions. Hodgins thinks he can win him over with insects and slime but I think he's got more of a talent for reading bones."
"Please tell me that you aren't letting him play with remains." Booth begged.
"Only the bones in Limbo." Brennan defended herself. "I wouldn't want him disturbing evidence on a murder victim. And he's actually very good at inspecting bones." Booth groaned. "Are you making that noise because I let him touch bones or because he wants to grow up and work in a lab instead of in the field?" Brennan wanted to know.
"He's barely nine years old. Let him be a normal kid for a while and then he can decide what he wants to be when he grows up." Brennan smiled and glanced down at her desk. "I miss that smile." Booth said, his exhaustion eliminating any sort of filter that he might have between his brain and his mouth.
"What smile?" Brennan asked.
"Your 'Be quiet and let Booth think he won' smile." He said, knowing she was simply humoring him. "Trust me when I say that two months seems like forever when you're on the other side of the world from everyone that you love." Brennan's heart jumped at his choice of words and in reaction to the surge of emotion, she balanced herself out by being clinical.
"Time is a set social construct and therefore can't actually slow down." Brennan reminded him. "But I agree with your sentiment." She said. "I want you to come home as soon as quickly and as safely as you can." She requested. They stared at each other for a moment before Booth spoke.
"Listen, Bones, when I get back we should…"
"Bones, I brought you some cake!" Her head swung towards the door as Parker carried in a slice of cake for her. Grateful for the distraction, she waved him over.
"Thank you. I was just wrapping up your father. Come say goodbye." She said as she got up out of the chair.
"She meant, 'wrapping up with me'. Right Bones?" Booth corrected from the other side of the world. She acquiesced to his knowledge with a smile. "Go have a piece of cake for me." He told her.
"Bye!" Parker waved again.
"Bye Parker. I love you. Be good." He added sternly. It was an image that he took a mental picture of, his two favorite people waving to him.
"Love you too." He replied.
"Stay safe." Brennan demanded and Booth nodded. And with that, she turned off the camera and they were gone.