Brennan stood at the bench, chopping vegetables for the meal she had planned, smiling to herself at how quiet the apartment. Parker was sitting in her living room with some coloured pencils and some paper, doing some drawing quietly. Zach had gone off to his room, and Booth had followed him, coming back about ten minutes later with a grin on his face. The younger boy had fallen asleep, worn out by his playing in the park. Booth was helping her in the kitchen while the boys were quiet.
She smiled to herself as she remembered the walk home. Parker had held her hand, chattering way happily about his classes at school, thrilled to have a captive audience. Zach had been trotting along in between the two adults, until Booth had asked him if he liked heights. Zach had nodded, and Booth had scooped him up and sat him on his shoulders. Zach had let out a squeal of delight, beaming happily, while Parker had laughed at his father and younger brother.
"Wow, Zach, you're even taller than Daddy now, how far can you see?" he'd called up to Zach. Zach wound his hands in Booth's hair, using it to hold on. Brennan saw Booth flinch once when the boy accidently pulled, but otherwise grinned, keeping a secure hand on the young boy's ankles, just in case he fell. For a moment she wished she had a camera with her, just to record the moment.
"I can see a long way, almost all the way back to Dr. Brennan's apartment," Zach had loudly announced to Parker, who grinned and continued on chattering to Brennan about what they were doing in science class at his school. Booth, obviously content that Zach was settled in his perch, continued walking, and Zach rode on his father's shoulders the whole way home, only sliding down when they reached the doorway to Brennan's apartment building.
Brennan was drawn from her musing when Booth broke the silence that hung in their air.
"What are you smiling about, Bones?" he asked, wiping his hands on a cloth and then tossing it into the sink. Brennan shrugged.
"I was merely reflecting on how pleasant today was. It was a good idea of yours to go to the park. Both of the boys greatly enjoyed it."
Booth nodded, "I did too...having them both there...it was great. Zach is a great kid."
Brennan nodded, "The Addys did a very good job in raising him," she commented. Booth nodded in agreement, leaning casually against the bench Bones was working at.
"I hope your dad isn't too mad about me getting you pregnant," Booth said softly, mindful that Parker wasn't that far away. Brennan looked up at him, puzzlement written across his face.
"Why would he be angry?"
"It's a guy thing...a dad thing," Booth tried to explain, "Fathers are generally very protective of their daughters, and are often, er, hostile towards guys that er, sleep with them."
"Oh, I understand," Brennan nodded, "It's quite common among many cultures, including western society. I would not be too worried if I were you, though. When we slept together I had not seen my father for a long time, and I was a consenting adult. He sounded rather excited when I told him on the phone. Zach is, after all, his only biological grandchild."
"Yeah, I guess," Booth said, relaxing minutely. Maybe Max wouldn't be too mad about it.
Zach yawned and rubbed his eyes sleepily as he emerged from his bedroom, his hair ruffled from his afternoon sleep. He rarely slept in the afternoon, but he'd been thoroughly worn out after playing in the park for so long, and he had been quite grateful towards Special Agent Booth for giving him a ride on his shoulders, because Zach's legs had been tired before they'd even left the park. Zach chastised himself for not conserving enough energy to get home when he knew that they would be walking back home, but he had been having far too much fun at the time to stop.
"Good afternoon, Zach," Dr. Brennan greeted Zach, "Did you have a good sleep?"
Zach nodded, "Yes, I did thank you," he told her, glancing at the clock that hung from the wall in the kitchen. It was five o'clock, about the time that their guests were due to arrive.
"Has my sleep disrupted your plans, Dr. Brennan?" Zach asked. Brennan quickly shook her head.
"No, come on, let's get you ready."
Zach nodded, and followed Dr. Brennan back into his room. He changed into a pair of jeans and a checked shirt, a gift from Angela, which had a little skull and crossbones on it. Dr. Brennan wet a comb and combed Zach's hair into some semblance of tidiness, just like Zach's adoptive mother had used to do, although Zach's hair was just the sort that naturally looked messy. Zach sat quietly, thinking of his adoptive mother as Dr. Bones combed away at his hair until she was satisfied. Although he was very sad that his adopted parent were dead, and that he wouldn't be seeing the rest of the Addy family very often, he liked living with Dr. Brennan and Special agent Booth, and Parker. They were fun, and there was just the four of them. Sometimes, in his old home, Zach had often felt like he was forgotten. He got lost in the chaos that was being raised in a large family and it was very noisy, but here, with his real parents, where there was just the four of them, or even just the three when Parker was staying with him mom, which Zach liked far better. There weren't nearly so many people, and it was much quieter.
"There you are," Bones smiled, looking at Zach with a warm, loving look upon her face. Zach nodded, and smiled up at Dr. Brennan, beginning to move away from her, before he remembered a ritual from his life with the Addy family. When his foster mother had combed his hair she often expected him to kiss her cheek as a way of saying thank you. Zach had disliked kissing her on the cheek, and although he knew it was bad manners to refuse his adopted mothers something, he only rarely did it. After Zach had been diagnosed she had given up on asking him to kiss her on the cheek, but Zach's adopted mother still liked some form of acknowledgement. Zach reasoned it was because he was the youngest, and for the most part it was the only time of the day when it was just the two of them. He wondered if Dr. Brennan would appreciate a similar gesture. He looked at her, and cocked his head to the side thoughtfully, before making up his mind.
"What is it, Zach?" Dr. Brennan asked him. Zach smiled and walked back over to her, hugging her around her hips, which were about as high as he could reach.
"Thank-you for combing my hair for me, Dr. Brennan," He told her before letting go. Brennan blinked, and wiped away the tears in her eyes. Zach had just hugged her, and it had felt so right. She felt several pieces of the wall she had built around her heart crumble and fall out of place, and knew, at that moment, that she loved Zach. He was hers, and no one was ever going to take him away from her.
Booth was in the living room with Parker when he heard the doorbell ring. He got up and crossed over to the entry into Bones' apartment. He checked the peep hole, relived to see Max standing on the other side. Despite his early misgivings about Bones' father Booth had come to respect the man and his devotion to his children, trying to make up for the misdeeds of his past, and his abandonment of them.
"Hey, Max," Booth greeted as he opened the door.
"Seeley," Max smiled, "What's this Tempy has been telling me about you getting her pregnant?"
Booth gulped, and Max grinned, "I'm kidding, son. Don't worry."
"I wasn't worried," Booth replied defensively, stepping aside and letting Max into the apartment.
"Mr. Max Mr. Max" Parker cheerfully greeted, running over to the older man, "Guess what. The other day at school we did science and we got to blow up bags, but it wasn't nearly as fun as when you and Dr. Hodgins show me things at the lab and we get to blow things up."
Max laughed and ruffled Parker's hair, "I'm glad you had fun Parker."
"Just wait until you see Zach. I'm going to be the best big brother ever, like Daddy is to Uncle Jared."
"I'm sure you are, Parker. I think Zach is very lucky to have a big brother like you looking out for him." Max replied.
Brennan watched from the doorway as Booth, Parker and her father interacted, a smile spreading across her face as she observed how happy Parker was. Anthropologically speaking she knew that the arrival of a new sibling into a home often caused the behaviour of older siblings to shift, and Brennan had been concerned about how Parker would cope, especially given Zach's age and additional needs. The older boy had, however, accepted Zach with open arms, falling in love with the small boy in a way similar to how Brennan felt about Zach.
Brennan glanced down, smiling reassuringly at Zach, who stood half beside her, peering around Brennan's leg curiously, a small hand unconsciously curling around the material of Brennan's skirt.
"Its okay, Zach." She said reassuringly. Zach blinked and looked up at Brennan, before tightening his grip on her skirt.
"Will...will he like me?" Zach asked in a small, quavering voice. Brennan felt her heart clench at Zach's obvious insecurities. She crouched down beside him and loosely put her hand around his shoulder, unsure of how Zach would react to the close contact. He didn't respond to it, so she figured it was okay.
"I know he'll love you Zach. He'll love you like Booth and Parker and I love you. He's a very nice person, and he knows lots of science and things. He taught me quite a bit. I always used to come first in the science competitions because my dad would help me."
Zach brightened up, smiling brightly and looking at Bones, "Really?" he asked, a touch of excitement creeping into his voice, "Do you think he'll help me when I'm bigger and I get to do science projects at school?"
Brennan nodded, "We'll see," she told him, before standing back up. Zach loosened his grip on Brennan's skirt, although he didn't completely let go. Brennan walked into the living room, and Zach trotted along beside her. Max's eyes immediately softened as he saw Zach walking beside his mother, and the older man crouched down.
"Hi there," he told Zach softly. Zach glanced up at Brennan, who gave a little, encouraging nod.
"Hello," Zach said in reply to the greeting, still keeping close to Brennan's legs.
"You must be Zach...you can call me Max, if you like."
Zach nodded, remembering the manners that his foster mother had drummed into him, "How are you today, Mr. Max?" he asked. Max grinned.
"I'm good, thank-you Zach. How are you?"
"Very well thank you, I've had a very enjoyable day."
"Yeah? What did you do?"
"We went to the park and Parker and I played chasey with Special Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan, and on the way home Special Agent Booth let me ride on his shoulders."
"That sounds like fun," Max grinned, shooting a sideways glance at Booth, who was smiling at the interaction between his younger son, and the little boy's grandfather. Max was a natural with kids, and even despite being very guarded around strangers, Zach was naturally warming to him.
"It was very enjoyable, although I was tired afterwards. Dr. Brennan tells me that you know lots of science."
"I know a bit...but not as much as her," Max replied.
Zach giggled, "I don't think anyone knows more about science than Dr. Brennan does."
"Really?" Max asked, glancing up at Brennan. Booth was looking at her, a wide grin spread over his face at his son's innocent comment. Brennan felt her cheeks change colour at the compliment.
"Why do you say that, Zach?" she asked. Zach turned and looked up at her, a small smile on his face as he stood beside Max.
"Because...Parker told me that you have your own lab...and you help catch bad people...and you write books and all the people you worked with talked about how smart you are." He told her, the tone in his voice and the serious look on his face telling her that he was convinced the fact was true, "You're like the superhero of science...the best."
Brennan decided that, even though Zach's reasoning and logic was faulty, she wasn't going to correct him.
She kind of liked being her son's hero.