A/N: Here we are, with yet another story! I couldn't not do something to reflect on the finale, and this is what I've come up with. No idea where it will lead me, but I've got an outline in the works and I like where it's heading. Title comes from the song What If by SafetySuit, my favorite song of all time. I've been dying to use it in a story, and it fit here.
I don't own them, unfortunately. Enjoy the story :D
This first chapter is just before the finale begins, the next chapter will be the finale events, and after that... it will take its own course. I'm just guessing at the dates, haha.
IMPORTANT: This story IS somewhat AU. For my own purposes, I am disregarding a lot of the things that pushed BxB forward following the departure of Hannah. The elevator scene plays in somewhat, but there was no burning of papers with dates on them, and both of them are still in the dark on how the other is feeling. Beyond that, though, everything is pretty much canon.
May 25th, 2011
The water dripped steadily, a soft plunking only feet away as the droplets sloshed down one at a time and spattered onto the cold porcelain of the sink below. Dr. Temperance Brennan, renowned forensic anthropologist, was clinging to the edge of reality, her palms flat on the counter as she stared at her reflection in the mirror and tried to recognize herself in it.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
The faucet wasn't fully turned off, but she made no move to twist the handle the final few millimeters that would stop the incessant noise.
It was almost grounding, the regular plunking. Like a metronome sitting on top of a piano, keeping her in the beat and allowing her to slowly close her eyes and stay right where she was. She could picture the apartment around her, but somehow it felt like she was still floating through it, rather than living there.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Her intern was dead.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
The bullet that had slammed through his delicate heart had been sent to kill her partner. She had crouched over him, Booth at her side, as he had begged her not to make him go.
Why would I make you go? Why would I do that?
She was glad, and she was sick with guilt for it.
Because Booth had been the target. And Booth was alive.
Because Booth was still here with her, to smile with, to love in silence, and she had not been forced to watch him die in front of her yet again while she desperately tried to stem the flow of blood rushing from his chest.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
She knew random facts, too. Some of them, Nigel had given to her. Some of them, she had known from her past experience. The difference was that she didn't announce them unless they were relevant to what was being discussed at that moment.
But Vincent Nigel-Murray had been so upfront with his knowledge. So unashamed, so eager to share, so excited for the job at hand. He was brilliant and promising, and he was going places. He should have gone places.
She thought back to the letters of recommendation she had in her desk, for each of her interns. They wouldn't be around much longer, and at Angela's suggestion she had written one for each a month ago. Only a week before the shooting.
Nigel-Murray is a brilliant student and an able scientist. He will do any institution proud, and I say with great certainty that he deserves any position he strives to attain.
She squeezed her eyes shut tighter.
Drip. Drip. Drip.
Please don't make me go...
She blinked, and met her own gaze in the mirror. It was cold, and dark, and filled with desperation. Her blue eyes flashed, and they were icy in contrast with her pale skin. A slight sheen of sweat gleamed on her brow.
Fingers trembling, she set down the test on the counter beside the other three.
All of them read positive.
She seized the faucet and forcibly spun it. Her wrist ached and her fingers grazed sharply across the surface. She winced and pulled back, but the dripping stopped.
Turning, she slid down the side of the cabinets until she thumped down onto the floor, her elbows landing on her knees and her face burying itself in her hands.
Oh god. Oh god.
What was she supposed to do?
"I'm not going to have any children."
Positive. They had all said positive.
She had wanted a child, later. A fleeting, powerful surge of emotion had taken over and made her desire parenthood. But that had faded into other, more important things, and she had never brought it up again.
Brennan could hardly get herself to think it, but the words came anyways, flitting across her mind. I'm pregnant. I'm actually pregnant.
How was she supposed to handle this? How was she supposed to tell Booth?
Because she had to tell him.
She didn't exactly sleep with many men. Not recently, at least. Booth was the only man she'd had sex with since breaking up with Hacker before leaving for Maluku. She handled celibacy better than Angela ever had, and more quietly as well. But it made this easier, because there was no doubt.
Booth was the father of the child that was beginning to grow inside of her.
Almost subconsciously, her hand strayed down to land on her abdomen. Her stomach was still flat; it had only been a few weeks. But she knew that wouldn't last forever. Her hard, powerful body was going to get softer, and heavier. In her head, she ran through all of the changes that she knew to expect, and tried desperately to keep them cold and rational. It was almost terrifying, just allowing herself to connect the facts with her own life.
Her clothing was not going to fit anymore. Her field work was going to go away, because it would be too difficult, not to mention too dangerous. She was going to feel nauseous and probably throw up at irregular hours of the day. She was going to become hyper-sensitive to scents, making her job with rotting skeletons nearly impossible. Her ankles were going to swell.
And everyone... they were going to treat her differently. Not because of any stigmatism—her friends would not care so much that she was having a child out of wedlock—but because they would be worried, the way they were worried about Angela.
Booth, Angela, Cam... they were the ones who would block her from her career. Booth would insist on protecting her, Angela would offer all sorts of advice, Cam would cut her off professionally—and not in a way she could get out of with one of her monopoly-passes.
She was in love with Booth.
That was one of the things she could not deny any longer.
She had stopped denying it to herself after the Lauren Eames case, after seeing Booth with Hannah. She had turned Booth down that night outside the Hoover building because she needed to protect him. She was not the sort of person he deserved to be with; he deserved someone that could be sure of the relationship, who wouldn't spend all of their time together terrified of it going wrong. Who wouldn't destroy it all with a few thoughtless words. Who wouldn't eventually make him hate her, and thereby crush both of their hearts.
So maybe it had been selfish. Maybe she had been protecting her own heart just as much as his. But the fact remained that now... now she wanted to throw all of that out and start fresh. She wanted him, no matter the consequences. She wanted the guy hugs and the long looks and feeling of waking up in his arms in the morning, without any of the fear attached.
That night, after Nigel-Murray was shot and killed right in front of her, when she had gone into Booth's bedroom and found herself confronted with a gun... everything had changed. She had told him her fears, and he had comforted her in a way that no one ever had before. Never after such a tragedy had she had a man to hold onto, who she could trust implicitly. She had always been alone, even when other people had been by her side. After he was shot by Pam, Angela had been with her, sure. But she had still felt empty and cold.
With Booth there, his dark eyes soft with reassurance and his strong arms wrapped around her, she had felt... loved. Like nothing could hurt her again, like she had someone to soldier through the next battle with, like... just for a little while, she could forget her fears and cling to her hopes.
With Booth, she had felt everything she had been trying to fight down over the years.
And somehow, it had felt right, when they had fallen into the sheets. Despite the trauma of the day, despite the horrifying loss, despite everything, she had managed to live for those minutes that they were surrounded solely by each other, and nothing else.
It had not been what she had always thought it would be—and she had thought of it often. Of course, she had never imagined such horrible circumstances leading them to that point. When she had thought of them together, she had always imagined that... something would change. Some case would get the better of them, would make them realize things.
Right now, she wasn't sure how she felt about her decision to press her lips to his and initiate the events that followed. Because she wasn't sure of how he had felt about it, or how he thought about it now, weeks later.
They had not talked about it, the day after.
Namely because she had been gone when he had woken up the next morning. She had opened her eyes to find herself in his bed, sans clothing, with his warm thick arms wrapped around her torso and his body melded perfectly to hers.
Heart thudding, brain rushing, she had done the only things possible. She had extricated herself from the embrace, gathered her clothing and the things she had brought with her for the night... and shut the door very quietly behind her on her way out of the apartment.
She wasn't proud of that decision. Wasn't proud that she had chosen to run rather than face the consequences.
But a part of her was still deathly afraid. Afraid that it hadn't meant to him... what it had meant to her. Nigel-Murray was dead, and they were having sex for the first time.
She closed her eyes again, running her hands through her hair.
He had felt her pain that night, and he had followed her lead. She was the one who had kissed him first. She was the one had begun undressing him, and who had helped him undress herself. He had been very there, and he had made it every bit what she had always thought it would be from the way he spoke... but it still felt like she had been the one whose fault it was.
And she did not want to know the truth, if it meant that Booth had slept with her out of pity, out of concern for her well-being.
He was the sort of man who wouldn't tell her the truth, were she to ask... because he was too kind, too good, to say it if that was how he really had felt about it... but she would know. The minute she asked, no matter what he had to say, she would know. Because she knew him. And she knew how he would react if he was being honest or if he was trying to spare her feelings.
And he was the sort of man who would do the right thing by her, once she told him she was pregnant.
He would want to be in the child's life, and he would want to be involved in every aspect of the pregnancy. He might even be glad, because he loved children and he loved being a father; it wasn't something he had ever been shy about. But the fact remained that none of that meant anything.
She loved him. Loved him so much that she couldn't think straight. Loved him more than she'd ever thought it was possible to love anyone. Because until him... she never truly had.
And it would kill her, if he could no longer feel that way about her. He had once, a year ago, and maybe before that as well, when she hadn't been looking for it. But you could fall out of love with someone, and you could fall into it with someone else. She had watched him do it, right in front of her, and the idea of it happening again... was crushing.
Then, almost worse than that, was the reality of what this knowledge would do to him, once she announced it. Yes, he would stand by her and be the father. But what would that do to him, if he really didn't love her anymore? She would be ruining all of his chances, and his entire future.
What if she did what Rebecca had done, then? What if she refused to be in a relationship with him, and kept the child? Would that give him the chance to escape? Would that leave him free to move on, the way it had when Rebecca had carried it out?
Or would he hate her, even if she allowed him to see their child whenever he pleased?
And what if he loved the child more than her? What if he wanted to be with the child, but not with her? How could she justify keeping the child to herself, when she knew she wasn't likely to make a good parent to begin with? He was a good parent. He would know what he was doing, while she would be at a loss.
A desperation grew in her, and she needed to talk to someone. She needed Angela to know, she needed to hear Angela's take on this. Because Angela could help her, could tell her that it was going to be alright, could make it just... better. Because that was what her best friend did.
Only Angela was pregnant herself. She was about to give birth to a beautiful child with her loving husband right by her side. Angela had no doubts about family. For her, it was a guarantee. No matter what happened with the child, if it was blind or not, it would be loved. And she and Hodgins would raise it together, knowing they could rely on one another through anything that came their way.
She did not have that luxury. She did not want to be Booth's obligation; she wanted to be his equal, the way Angela was with Hodgins, and vice versa.
Only she couldn't have that.
She tried to imagine what it would have been like, if only she had said yes when he had asked for a relationship. Would it have worked? Would they have been happy by now, and maybe even at the same stage as Angela and Hodgins? Would she be pregnant, in this parallel world, and maybe even married?
What would it be like, to go home every day with Booth, and spend late nights watching TV or doing the dishes after supper by his side? What would it be like to have that world in the palm of her hand?
She was not usually the type to indulge in such fantasies, but she couldn't help herself now. It might be pointless, to imagine something that hadn't happened, but she couldn't stop. She was a scientist, and a stubborn one. She had always said that she wouldn't have kids, that she would never get married, that she would never fall in love.
Her world was upside-down, now.
And she had a feeling it wasn't going to right itself in three days.
Not this time.
Dawn slowly flitted its way through her curtains, and she blinked in the slivers of light that fell long across her bed.
Some facts are all consuming. Her pregnancy was one of them; there was no moment of escape. It was the first thought on her mind that morning as she pushed herself up and leaned back against the headboard to breathe out a heavy sigh. Her arms fell across her abdomen, cradling from both sides, and she chewed on the edge of her lip, staring up at the ceiling and watching the patterns of shadows dance. The tree outside her apartment window was in bloom with full spring-vigor, and the leaves swayed in the early morning light, mingling with the light patches that reflected off the water from the pool down below.
She reached up and pulled her hair out of the messy bun she had put it in the night before, letting her tresses collapse down over her shoulders. Maybe she should get a haircut. Everything else was changing... and a short, shoulder-length style might be easier to manage.
Again, she tried to imagine what it was going to be like, only a few months from now.
Would she be doing this alone? Leaning over the toilet in a few weeks and retching because her perfume suddenly smelled nauseating? Or would Booth be there, by her side, offering to hold her hair even as she cursed him out under the hormones?
She shivered and pulled the covers up more tightly around herself, despite the already warm nature of the morning. They were more for security than for warmth, to begin with.
According to her alarm clock, she had only a short while before she would be ensuring a late arrival at the lab. As it was, she was going to be rushing already—in the overwhelming exhaustion of her realization the day before, she had managed to forget to turn on her alarm.
And yet, she was unfazed. Normally, she would be panicked and running around swearing under her breath while she fought with her socks and the malfunctioning shower that the building manager had been promising to fix for the past month. She might have asked Booth to fix it, but now that was definitely not going to happen. She didn't even know how she was going to face him, knowing what she knew.
It only aided her in procrastinating as she watched the clock tick yet another minute past. Absently, her fingers twisted the bedding back and forth in their grasp as she debated. She hadn't stalled like this in years. Even as a teenager, school had been a welcome escape. She had often been up extra early in preparation, desperate to get out of whatever house she happened to be living in at the time. Usually for a variety of different reasons, but namely fear.
This time, it was fear that held her in place.
Here, in her apartment, she was safe. She didn't have to face the world, didn't have to fully face the truth. She could hide here forever, if only no one would come searching for her.
Only, she knew they would. And she couldn't keep this to herself forever, as much as she wished she could. She was going to have to tell Booth eventually, because he deserved to know. And he deserved to have his say in this.
No matter how scared she was of what his response would be.
There was still a small, irrational part of her that was terrified he would turn away. She knew, knew, that he would never do that. But the fear was there. And fear, in her experience, was rarely rational.
He had said he didn't want anything, after he broke up with Hannah.
Hannah, who had turned him down when he proposed to her, leading him to end things.
Just like he had moved on from her after she had refused a relationship, he had moved on from Hannah.
She didn't want to do that again. But at the same time... what was she supposed to do if he proposed, as he had done with Rebecca?
Surely, though, he wouldn't try that. Not with her, not years after that first failure. He would know that it would not end well, no matter what answer she wanted to give. As she had told her distant cousin that year at Christmas... she had simply never found a reason to get married. Or a man, for that matter.
Now she had every reason, and she had the man she wanted to be with right in front of her. But if he proposed... she would turn him down. Not because she didn't want to marry him, and not because she didn't believe in marriage—that ship had sailed through storm after storm and finally capsized—but because it wouldn't be fair. She wanted to be with him. She didn't want him to feel like he had to do anything. Least of all marry her if he didn't feel anything.
She would rather lose him than force him to be with her if it would make him unhappy.
That thought weighed heavily on her chest, and she shut her eyes again.
Her phone, standing in for her alarm, went off loudly on the bedside table. She jumped, and then dropped the sheets from around herself and leaned over to snatch it up. Her heart rate only quickened when she read his name on the screen.
She swallowed harshly and let her hand, still clutching the phone, fall heavily down into her lap as it continued to ring. The sharp sound was ceaseless, and she struggled with herself as she tried to decide whether she was capable of answering, or if she should send him to voicemail. Maybe if she just let it keep ringing...
But when it finally stopped, the silence only lasted a few short, blissful moments. And then it started up again.
He would know something was up if she didn't answer, and even more so if she sent him to her voicemail. Then he would ask about it later, and she'd be no better equipped to answer than she was at this moment. It would be easier to do this now, when she didn't have to look him in the eyes.
Was it lying, if it was by omission? She remembered saying something about that herself, not to long ago. That he had lied to her by not telling her something.
She had never been a very good liar, and she had never been a very good actress.
Booth would see through her in an instant.
But the other options just looked worse, and she finally answered and pressed the phone to her ear.
"Hey," he answered immediately, sounding flustered. "Why weren't you picking up?"
"Sorry. I left my phone in the other room... I was getting some coffee."
"Well, we've got a body. Forget the coffee, I already got you some. I'll be by in a minute to pick you up."
"Oh," she said, her voice coming in a gasp as she again took in her current state. Sitting up in a tangled bed, wearing pajamas. Un-showered. She swallowed sharply. "That's okay. I'll drive myself. Where is it?"
"Bones," he said firmly, "I'm like... five minutes from your place. So don't give me something about saving gas, okay? I'll be there in a few."
He hung up without waiting for an answer, probably assuming she'd try arguing if he stayed on, and she groaned and leaned her head back again, thudding lightly into the headboard. Without much of a choice, she scrambled out of bed and tossed together an outfit before making a bee-line for the bathroom to fight it out with her hair. 'A few minutes' did not give her time to shower, unfortunately. And he'd know something was up if he caught her still blow-drying her hair when she had implied she was already finishing her morning routine.
On that train of thought, she quickly swept the collection of pregnancy tests into the trash can and tucked it back under the sink, where he would have no reason to look. She didn't need them anymore; she had accepted that it was true, and that they couldn't all be false-positive.
A knock on her door announced her partner's arrival, and she took a steadying breath, finishing with the ponytail she had been putting in, and leaned forward with her palms flat on the counter, much like she had yesterday. The eyes that stared back at her in the mirror were still icy and fearful, but now they sparked with a bit more resistance.
Just answer the door, she told herself. Just answer the door, and act normal... and solve another murder. Worry about everything else... later.
Nodding resolutely to her own reflection, she stepped out of the bathroom and flicked the lights off, heading up the hallway as he knocked again.
He was clutching two coffee cups and grinning cheerfully when she opened the door.
"Ready for the bowling alley, Bones?"
Well, drop me a line! Let me know what you think so far!