Okay folks. This is the final chapter of the series of oneshots. It's a long chapter, so you may want to read it a couple of times to really let it sink in. I hope you've enjoyed the journey through the lives of our favorite characters, and their shock/surprise and changes in their lives. I hope you've enjoyed the series, and please don't focus on the fact that it's the end. I've enjoyed sharing my words with you, and look forward to hearing yours now. Please tell me what you liked... or didn't like (oh no!) ... let me hear your opinions and thoughts! I hope you enjoy!
The gravel crunched beneath the rolling tires of the car. The newly fallen snow blanketed the stones that surrounded them in a veil of pure white. The winter birds sang a somber song in the bare trees, their wings speckled with velvety drops of melted snow as they ruffled their feathers to keep warm. The car came to a slow stop at a small cleared pull off area, and the heat roared fiercely, keeping the occupants of the car warm as the winter wind blew lightly against the car outside. She stared ahead at the headstones that she faced, and silently reconsidered her trip for just a split second. Her eyes traveled to the rear view mirror, and she focused on the small mirror that had been situated on the back seat, so that she could see the reflection of the sleeping child in the rear facing car seat.
She watched the gentle rise and fall of her child's chest, her tiny head bowed slightly as she slept peacefully in her car seat. It had been a long month of many challenges since she had been born, and though Brennan loved her more than she could have ever imagined loving another human being, she still felt that there was something missing.
The child's nose wrinkled and she let out a sleepy squawk, raising her mother's keen awareness just another notch, before the child instantly quieted. She could see a lot of Booth in the child's facial expressions, even at this early age. And though he teased that the little one was lucky to have her mother's beauty, Brennan could see more and more of her partner in the child each and every day. After another moment, Brennan's eyes moved back to the windshield, her eyes once again raking over the gray stones that dotted the landscape. She wondered for a moment if it was too cold to do this now, if the winter wind would be far too frigid for the baby, for herself. She also wondered if this pause was just simply another excuse not to follow through with her plan. She let her eyes follow the row of stones, settling in the distance on her ultimate goal, and immediately thought herself foolish. She looked in the rear view mirror again, and noticed that the baby's eyes were now open, and though she was awake, she was silently surveying her surroundings.
"Your mother is being ridiculous." She said softly to the reflection of the child. It felt odd to her to speak to someone she knew would not respond, but continued anyway. "This is another obvious indication of the influence that your father has over me." She sighed and let her eyes settle on the stone in the distance. She watched the baby for several moments, knowing that at one month old, she would have absolutely no idea what she was saying, but for some reason it felt oddly comforting to speak aloud to her. "Your father says that it is important to connect with those of the past. He says that by talking to the memory of someone you once loved, that you can come to peace with who you've become, and find answers to questions that you are unable to ask." She looked back up to the mirror and watched the baby's eyes for a moment, listened to the slight chortle that she emitted. "Your father is not a fool." She sighed, letting the car fill with silence once again. "Your mother, however… she might just fall within those parameters. Perhaps we should just go home, we can try again another day." She whispered with a tone of disappointment and defeat.
Brennan closed her eyes for a moment, letting her hands rest on the steering wheel as she worked through her thoughts slowly. Often, it seemed impossible to catch the various nuances of her worries and concerns, but this one thing had been nagging at her for what seemed like forever. Suddenly, her thoughts were interrupted by the familiar squeaking cry of her baby girl, and she could still feel that 'new mother' flutter in her stomach each and every time she cried. She twisted in her seat slightly, pulling her seatbelt off, she could see the baby's face, red with anger as she screeched in discontent. "It appears that you have other plans, I see." She whispered, pulling on the latch of the door, she chastised herself as she held her fingers in the front door until the back door was completely open, allowing for no possibility to accidentally lock the baby inside without her. She closed the driver's side and slipped into the back seat, settling beside the car seat.
She looked down at the crying baby, her hands trembling a bit as she watched the little girl wail angrily. "Well, it appears that you're just as opinionated as your father. I imagine that he'll be quite happy to hear that." She said, a smile slipping onto her lips as she carefully unfastened the baby from the seat, lifting her and the fluffy pink blanket she was wrapped in, into her arms. The baby's crying ceased, tiny hiccups escaping her lips, her eyes imploring her mother for a moment. Brennan's pinky finger stretched toward the little hand that was extended toward her, and those tiny fingers immediately latched onto it, pulling it naturally and weakly toward her suckling mouth. "You can't possibly be hungry already." She said, her words slipping awkwardly into the silence of the car. "You certainly have the appetite of a Booth." She smiled, watching the baby continue to tug.
Her attention remained on her little girl for a moment, and her mind raced much more quickly than it had been when she was in the front seat. "Who would have thought that a six pound bundle of flesh and bones could reduce me into an illogical mess?" She whispered. "I had wanted to tell your father for a very long time what was on my mind, what was breaking my heart with each day that I carried you inside of me. I found, that it is physically painful to keep things from him, you know? If you love someone, really love them… you have to be willing to risk the pain that comes with the truth, even if admitting it to them is admitting it to yourself." She paused, watching the baby's eyes flutter closed. "It's alright, I think that you have a little more time to think about that, it's a lot to handle… perhaps sleeping on it is wise." She whispered, thinking for a moment that she was sounding insane having a conversation with someone who obviously had no idea what she was talking about, though she would admit it that it was quite cathartic.
"The day that I told your father why I was so depressed, was the day you were born." She whispered. "From the moment he learned about your existence, until… well, it will never end… he has been in love with you." She said softly. "To say that he has been supportive would be a gross understatement, and most assuredly not give him the credit that he deserves." The baby's eyes opened again, her tiny lips opening and closing slightly as she let out another small squeak. "He insists that you call him 'daddy', you know… which I have informed him on numerous occasions sounds a bit childish, but he of course informed me…that you are, in fact a child." She said awkwardly. "Which brings me to the conclusion that… sometimes your daddy is correct about some things." She said in a whisper, wiggling her finger in the baby's grasp. "Though, it's not always wise to let him know that fact, at least not initially. We can keep that between you and I, if you don't mind." She whispered, gently rocking the baby, watching her slip in and out of sleep as she held her. She was mesmerized by the beauty of the child, grateful for her health, and completely in love with her, and let her mind wander to what had brought her here.
Brennan's thoughts went to that morning of labor almost a month to the day. She thought of the pain of labor, and the panic that something was very wrong as the doctors examined her. She thought of Booth sitting beside the bed holding her hand, forcing her to focus on his eyes. She remembered him begging her to tell him what she needed to tell him, trying to clear the air of the fears that lined her face, promising her forever if she needed it, whispered declarations of love, trust and promise, as together they brought their child into the world. They were partners, forever partners, in everything life handed to them.
Her thoughts then focused on that moment.
That indescribable, moment when time seemed to stand still, the moment that their child was placed in her arms. For all of the pain, and panic, and hormonal ups and downs, the product of their love was placed in her arms for her to hold. She was finally holding to her chest, the tangible proof of their love for one another.
Booth had exclaimed proudly that she had ten tiny fingers, ten tiny toes, and then came that moment, that he spoke the words that cracked the remainder of the wall she had built around her heart.
Brennan had looked down at that tiny human being, just as she was doing at this moment, and no other word would come to mind but what Booth had said.
And the floodgates opened, and holding her newborn child in her arms, Brennan began to sob inconsolably. She could still feel the weight of the child in her arms when he wrapped his arms around her. He spoke no words, but simply held her against him, letting her ear fall against his chest as his heartbeat attempted to calm her. The nurse and doctor seemed concerned, her reaction having been almost typical of a new mother, with raging hormones and conflicting thoughts and feelings. But the intensity of the sobs was like none they had ever seen.
Booth had allowed them to take the child, to clean her and look her over, her hands holding tightly to the bundle for just another moment before he helped the nurse to take the baby from her. Brennan had pushed herself into his chest, letting the pain wash over her in wave after wave of emotion, but he held strong. He held strong, just as he always had, and he stayed with her until the last tear fell. He said nothing to her in the moments after, knowing that pushing her would reveal nothing… and when she had been cleaned and taken care of, when the baby was placed in her arms once again, she had found the strength to speak to him.
"I am not ready." She whispered, staring at the baby in her arms, her tiny pink knit cap covering the light covering of fine brown hair on her head. Her eyes were closed as she slept peacefully against her mother's chest. "I can't do this."
His reaction wasn't what she had expected, his typical rebuttal that she simply 'can' never came. Instead, he moved closer to her and pulled her against him carefully, and silently encouraged her to continue.
"I mean… I've read the parenting books. Angela is more than willing to offer advice… and the simple needs and wants of the child will be met." She whispered. "But I'm not ready." She whispered, letting a tear roll down her cheek. "I know nothing about being a child, let alone being a mother. She's perfect, Booth, you said so yourself. I'm just… I'm going to ruin that." She whispered.
He kissed her head and held her, as they looked down on their sleeping child, her tears dropping silently onto her blanket. He rocked them both gently, letting the sadness melt from her, his strong arms holding her firmly against the waves of emotions. His presence was reassuring, and not condemning, and his lack of conversation while for some would seem dismissive, to her it was welcoming. He was allowing her to work through her thoughts, and when she said the right thing, he would speak.
"I…" Her voice trembled, and she felt a light squeeze from his arms, his finger gently running across the soft, sensitive cheek of the baby she held. "I wish my mother was here." She whispered. Immediately, she felt as if the air had been knocked out of her. She felt breathless and broken with her admission, but also relieved. She had finally spoken her secret, her wish, her desire, her hope, her dream that would never, ever come true. "I wish my mother was here to tell me how to do this." She said, feeling her breaths coming in short gasps. "I wish my mother was here to tell me that this gets easier." She said, staring at the baby, her arms trembling. "Booth." She whimpered.
"I'll take her." He whispered, lifting the baby carefully from Brennan's arms, he cradled her against his chest, and watched as his partner rested her head in her hands. She sucked in a deep breath and let the air escape her lungs in short spurts into her lap, her sob silent, but heartbreaking. He sat on the bed, holding the baby on his arm, pushing lightly at the blanket so that it didn't block her face. His other hand began rubbing Brennan's back slowly, lightly, and rhythmically. "I understand." He spoke from his heart. "I understand, Bones." He whispered.
"She's just so… tiny… She's so defenseless, and all of these months." Brennan sniffled. "All of these months, I've had her inside of me, growing… listening, feeling… and then when I see her face. I see her face, and the first thing I think is that I don't deserve this." She said. "Who am I to think that I can do this, that I can nurture a child, Booth? Who am I to believe that this is something that I have earned? I can't make her love me. Why am I thinking these things? Why am I feeling these things? What if she cries and I don't know why? What if she gets diaper rash? What if she falls down and gets hurt? What if she gets sick? What if she…" Brennan paused, and watched a flash of something in his eyes. She stopped and sniffled, looking into his eyes. "What?" She whispered.
"You know the answer to all of those questions, Bones."
"What if I forget?" She whispered.
"Then I'll remind you." He said, very gently handing the baby over to her, she watched him as she took the child into her arms. "After all, we're partners, right?"
She looked down at the baby in her arms, Booth's hand still on her hand as she held the sleeping child to her. "Right." She whispered. "Partners."
In the days following the baby's birth, and subsequent homecoming, Brennan had found it difficult to move past that mountain of fear and doubt that seemed to climb higher and higher before her. Her family and friends were supportive, Booth was supportive, but she couldn't help but feel that lingering loss. Booth had noticed her distance, the way she overanalyzed everything and was losing hours of sleep to insomnia and worry. He noticed her lack of attention to the baby, the way that she seemed to distance herself from her, and allow him to tend to her when she wasn't feeding. It had been just two days earlier that he had broached the subject with her.
"Bones?" He whispered. She was staring at the decal on the window of the diner again, his finger was dancing over their daughter's hand as he cradled her in his arms. His plate of extra fries hadn't been touched, her salad had barely even been touched, either. "Hey?" He said softly.
"Huh?" She said, turning her head to face him. "I'm not hungry." She said automatically. She watched his brow furrow, and she gave him an odd look. "What?"
"I didn't ask if you were hungry. I'm just wondering what you're thinking about."
"Nothing." She said, pulling a fry from the plate, he reached across and took her hand, knowing that she was trying to give herself a mouth full of fries so that she wouldn't have to answer his questions. She gave him a glare of irritation and dropped the fry, sighing heavily.
"I go back to work tomorrow."
"I know." She replied, looking to the baby, and back to him. "I am thinking of coming back earlier than I had originally planned." She said, this time grabbing the French fry before he stopped her. She shoved it into her mouth and sat back in her chair.
"Bones, it has only been a month."
"And four weeks is just fine, don't you think? I think that once we get a nanny hired this week, I should start work immediately."
"A nanny? Seriously? Bones, you hardly even talk to her. You don't hold her unless you're breastfeeding or calming her when I can't. You've rarely even let yourself be alone with the baby since we brought her home." He whispered over the sleeping child. "Are you alright?"
"I'm fine." She said, though from the look on her face, it was clear that she wasn't. She was having that little fluttering feeling in her stomach again, that feeling that indicated that her emotions were forcing their way up. She put another fry in her mouth and watched her partner's eyebrows lower in irritation.
"Bones, you're not fine." He whispered. "I think you might have that… post… part… post… baby depression thing that I read about."
"I don't have post partum depression Booth. I have a career… and I love our child." She said, watching the concern in his eyes. "I love her." She said more forcefully. "I just… don't think we have very much in common." She shrugged, flicking her eyes from his stare, she stared at the plate in front of her.
He reached out and pulled it away from her, sending her eyes back to his again. "You don't have much in common." He said, in a disbelieving tone. "Bones… she's part of you."
"Believe me, I am aware of that."
"And how can you say you don't have anything in common? She has blue eyes, you have blue eyes." He shrugged.
"That's purely genetics, Booth… besides, most Caucasian children are born with blue eyes. They change over time based on…" She watched as he started to stand up, still holding the baby in his arms. "Where are you going?" She asked.
He took a step toward her, and very carefully placed the child into her waiting arms. She looked up at him with a panicked expression, that quickly dissipated. He crouched beside her, and looked into her eyes, as she gently held the sleeping child in her arms, looking into his eyes. The sincerity in his deep brown eyes was mesmerizing, and she was confused by his sudden movement. "Listen, Bones." He said, watching her swallow hard. "This is going to kill me to do this, okay?"
"What?" She asked, feeling panic rising in her belly as she watched him shake his head. "Booth, you can't leave her with…"
"Listen, okay? We've been camping out at my place since she was born, you're rarely with her when I'm not around. You need time to bond with her." He paused. "Alone."
"No." She shook her head, her voice was small and filled with worry. "No, Booth. I'm not ready for alone."
"You're ready for alone… and I'm just a phone call away, okay? You are a very, very good mother, Bones. I've seen it, you've seen it… but you have to bond with her. You have to talk to her. You have to trust that you can do this. Two days, okay? I'll pick you both up at your place on Tuesday after work. You can call me any time, day or night…"
"Don't do this, Booth. Don't abandon me like this." She shook her head again, watching him start to stand up.
"You can do this. It's only two days, two days, Bones. You have to find something that works. You have to come to terms with this. You're a very strong person." He said, leaning forward, he touched her cheek, letting his finger slide down and beneath her chin. She looked up into his eyes and he could see the tears forming in the depths of hers. He leaned down and pressed his forehead to hers, oblivious to anyone in the diner that might be looking in their direction. "I will never, ever abandon you." He whispered. "Either of you… I will always be here for you. I love you." He said, pressing his lips to hers, he could feel the desperation in her kiss. The way she tried to entice him to stay just a little longer, thinking that perhaps he'd change his mind. "I love you." He said again. He then leaned down, and kissed the forehead of his daughter, her nose wrinkling in her sleep, he allowed a smile onto his lips. "Take good care of your mama, little one." He whispered. "Daddy will see you soon."
"Booth." Brennan said, one more time as he stood up straight.
"Talk to her, Bones." He said, letting a charm smile grace his lips as he took a step backward. "She's a very, very good listener." He said, and with a flick of his wrist, he dropped the money for their lunch onto the table, and turned to walk out of the diner. He heard her call his name one more time before he disappeared out the door, but she thought that he didn't, and she didn't see the painful expression that he hid from her, as he turned the corner and walked out of sight.
It had been nearly forty eight hours since he had turned and walked out of the diner, away from her, away from their child. Forty eight hours, and the memory of him disappearing around that corner still hurt. It didn't hurt because of the feeling abandonment that followed his leaving, and the pain from the intense fear she felt at that moment was quickly fading. What hurt her the most, was knowing that it was because of her fears and worries, that the man that she loved was forced to take a step back from his family. He had sacrificed his own happiness, his own peace of mind, in a mindful attempt to bring the relationship between mother and daughter even closer, and for that she knew that she would never be able to repay him.
Brennan repositioned herself, leaning slightly back, she turned the baby around and positioned her so that she could hold her with both hands, and look down onto her tiny angelic face. "I hope that you're not offended when I say this." She said, tipping her head, the baby's eyes opening sleepily. "And, I wish that someone had told me this… but being someone's mother, is frightening. It's exhausting, messy, stressful…" She whispered. "I worry about you constantly… check to see if you're breathing, check to see if you're eating… that you're developing correctly… ensuring that you don't become sick. It has only been a month, and look how much you've grown." She said, allowing herself a smile, in spite of her words. "But if I may say… you're a beautiful child. A lucky child… and if it takes the rest of my life, the rest of your daddy's life… for us to prove it to you… you are a very loved child." Brennan whispered, allowing a tear to roll down her cheek. "I will never abandon you. I will never knowingly cause you pain that can be avoided. I will never, ever stop loving you… and I will make sure that you know that." She whispered.
The baby's eyes were now closed, and Brennan contemplated her courage for just a second more, before carefully bundling the child in her blanket. She made sure that the child was warm, swaddled in her blanket and secure, before she carefully climbed from the car still holding her. She closed the back seat door, and pulled open the driver's side, securing the child against her chest as she yanked the keys from the ignition, pocketing them securely before closing the car door lightly.
Brennan held the child closely, purposefully stepping toward the stone that she spied in the distance as her feet crunched beneath her in the snow. She noticed as she walked that the winter wind didn't feel as cold as it had earlier, the overcast sky was beginning to break. The bits of blue that were visible were vibrant, and the sun seemed to be attempting to break through. The chatter between the birds in the trees resembled more of a song than tuneless chaos, and Brennan listened with a keen ear to the various tunes.
She paused as she neared the stone, holding her child to her body protectively. Her eyes moved over the words engraved on the granite slab before her.
'Beloved Mother of Russ and Temperance'
She thought for a moment, the meaning behind those words, as she held her child so close to her body, feeling the warmth of the tiny soul in her arms against her. She could feel a flood of emotion beginning to breach the wall, and thought for a moment that she should protect her child from the pain that she was feeling right now. She could hear Booth's words from so long ago, tickling at the back of her mind, and as badly as she wished she could push them aside, he was the one she always went to when it came to matters of the heart.
'It doesn't matter where the words are aimed, what you're saying... is that you remember them.'
She stared at the stone, her mother's name bold and clear, and she crouched down slightly to get a better look. She held the baby securely in her arms, and looked at the stone as if she were trying to conjure the courage to face it, as if it were a nemesis of sorts, and she were attempting to defeat it. Death stood in the way of knowing her mother better, and the lies that surrounded her family had caused that death.
She held no lies from her child, and knew as she stood at the stone of the woman who had nearly broken her heart completely, that there was a time for fear, and a time for forgiveness. Three generations of strong Brennan women faced the winter wind together. One had chosen a path that had gotten her killed, the second had held herself hostage in her own mind for long enough, and the third would have the peace of mind of knowing that she'd never have to experience what her mother had experienced.
Brennan touched the stone and felt the cold beneath her hand, closing her eyes she silently forgave her mother, and then leaned back slightly as she knelt on the ground. She lifted her child just a little, uncovering her sleeping face to the cool breeze for a moment. "Mom." She whispered, her voice cracking slightly as she smiled demurely, with a flicker of pride in her eyes. "I'd like you to meet your granddaughter." She whispered, looking down at her child with a loving mother's gaze, she knew that she had made the right decision, and felt that both she and her daughter would be all the better for it.