This is a little different, but stick with me :) The idea is simple and it's one we always face; the idea of life and all it entails. The biggest thank you to my dear friend eitoph, who is the most encouraging and wonderful person; your help on this one means a lot. Also, thank you to emzsidle for being such a sweetheart and always encouraging me to write :)
Any feedback on this one would be so lovely, this is so unlike the usual Booth/Brennan centric pieces I do and I'd like to know if I've pulled it off, or not so much. Thank you!
Disclaimer: If I owned Bones, Hank would have his own spin off :) I don't own it, folks. I just wish I did.
Life & Death
Love, Fate, Happiness and a Dance
When a phone rings at 3am, a sense of dread usually fills a person's stomach. The hand reaching towards the phone will always hesitate before it picks up, knowing that the news on the other end cannot be good. It's like walking down a flight of stairs and missing one, your stomach drops, your heart speeds up and you know the outcome is going to be bad, but you flail and grab hold of anything anyway hoping that it will be the thing to stop the pain.
Seeley Booth has never had this experience.
His whole life has revolved around late night phone calls. His father would call at the latest hours for someone to pick him up from whichever bar he'd wandered into that particular night. His days in the Rangers had been touted with service calls at any time, all the time. He had grown so desperately used to the calls that when he joined the FBI, the transition was seamless. Cases were called through no matter the time of day or night and Booth responded like time was not an issue to him.
So when the phone rings at 3am on a Thursday morning, he reacts the same way he always has and answers it without a second thought.
A voice he doesn't recognise.
"Sir, this is Jacqueline Price, I'm a senior carer at Willow River Retirement Community."
Only now does the feeling catch up to him. His stomach drops and his heart races as he reaches for the other side of the bed, for the hand of the woman who he knows will be able to take the pain away.
"Booth? What's wrong?"
He doesn't respond at first, still listening to the caller and she grips his hand, hoping to offer some comfort for what seems to be a troubling phone call.
He hangs up without saying good bye; he can't seem to find any words worthy of the moment. She senses that maybe he's not quite ready to talk and just pulls him closer, kissing his forehead. He looks up and kisses her lips, then reaches down and kisses her belly, where their unborn baby girl lies, "Can you take a day off?"
"I'm a week off a full term pregnancy, I think Cam's expecting it."
He nods, hugging her to him, "Pops is sick."
Hank Booth is a man who stands tall and proud, he is a man who has fought for his country and for his family, neither battle slighted by the other. He is a man who has lived big, who has travelled and been in love and danced all night to songs he cannot name.
And somehow, surrounded by the whitewash walls of the hospital, and the machines pumping oxygen and life nutrients into him he is a mere man. A sick man.
"He has severe viral pneumonia."
Booth steps forward and takes his grandfather's hand, "How did no one see it until now? You said it could have been contracted weeks ago."
The nurse looks at the old man and back to Booth, clear empathy shining in her eyes, "It's harder to see in the elderly than in children. A child will cough and run a fever, general cold and flu symptoms. As age increases it's harder to recognise, until the point where mental confusion and rapid respiration are the only symptoms." She draws breath, and picks up Hank's chart, "Your grandfather was brought to us early this morning having been found wandering around his retirement home with no apparent recollection of getting out of bed. He collapsed shortly after stepping through the doors and has been in and out of consciousness since then."
She looks around the room and Brennan can see she's looking for a way out without seeming rude, "Thank you," she supplies, and the young nurse nods and leaves them be.
Booth's eyes follow each tube from his grandfather to the surrounding environment, wondering what each machine was doing, but at the same time grateful that he wasn't quite sure how close to the end the older man was, "I'm not ready for this, Bones. Why isn't there a doctor here discussing options?"
Her hand joins his, over Hank's, "Viral pneumonia is hard to treat."
He lets the tears fill his eyes because he knows that what she's trying not to tell him is that there are no options.
Hank wakes up a couple of times through the day and that night and Booth has a hard time remembering how sick he is. He's still convinced that he's right about everything, including that a flight from India should only take a couple of hours and that Jared should be there by now, he's still a crazy flirt with all the nurses and he's still trying to get every detail out of his grandson about his relationship with Brennan. She leaves the room around 8 that night to get some sleep at home, kissing Hank on the forehead and Booth on the lips, "I'll see you both in the morning." And with that, she's gone.
"She's a keeper, Shrimp." Hank says with a cough.
Booth smiles, handing Hank a small cup of water, "I know, Pops."
He sips lightly from the cup, not able to take a deep enough breath to allow him to swallow a lot at a time, "You should marry her; I give you my blessing for this one."
"I wish it were that simple." He didn't want to go into the different belief systems that he and his partner held. He was already beyond amazed that she stayed with him every night, it may not have been the life he'd planned for himself years and years ago, but it was pretty damn perfect the way things were at the moment.
"How simple does it have to be? You get on one knee and you ask her to marry you." Hank shakes his head as though it's the most obvious thing in the world, "You young people these days, always making life complex. Is it so much that I want to see my grandson happily married to a beautiful woman?"
And just like that reality punches him in the gut; the harsh reminder that his grandfather isn't going to be with him forever, "No Pops, it's not too much."
At 3am, like a well oiled machine, his hand reaches for his phone without pausing to think about what could be waiting on the other end, "Booth."
"Booth! You have to get to the hospital!"
He jumps out of his seat, "I am in the hospital. Where's Bones? Is she okay?"
He takes notice of Angela's happy tone for the first time during the phone call and calms down a little, "She's great, Booth. She's doing so great. We're on our way to the hospital now, she's in labour."
"But she still has a week left."
He hears Angela scoff, "Turns out you can't plan for these things, G-man. Your little girl wants to meet her great-grandfather. We'll meet you out the front of the hospital in fifteen?"
He hangs up and looks over his shoulder at his grandfather's sleeping form, his breathing so shallow he has to watch the monitor for a moment just to prove he's alive, "I'm going to bring you a baby, Pops," and then he slips out of the room.
"I'm so..." a breath, "Sorry," another breath, "Booth!"
His hand is beginning to turn purple from her squeezing, but he knows it's a small price to pay when the pain his partner is going through is nothing short of a hundred times worse, "No apologies, everything's perfect, Bones."
She squeezes her eyes shut and clenches his hand as she rides out another contraction, "I meant for Hank. I know you want to be there with him."
Booth squeezes her hand back softly and kisses her forehead, "Angela will be taking great care of him. We'll go visit soon."
"He wanted me to tell you something, Booth." She breathes in and out a few times, preparing herself for the next contraction, "He said when the time is right, I would know."
He reaches a hand up to smooth some hair from her face, "We can talk about this later if you want?"
She smiles, "No, now is right." She squeezes his hand again and from the end of the bed Dr. Paul Lidner speaks, "I'm going get you to push on this one Temperance. Can you do that for me?"
She nods, bracing herself, "Hank is so worried that when you find out, you'll be mad at him."
Booth's attention, which had been solely on what Dr. Lidner was saying, was temporarily re-routed, "What? I could never be mad at Pops!"
"I know, I know." She puffs out a breath, "He wants you to know that he feels like if he were a better man he could have made things right between you and your dad." Another breath, "He told your dad to go and he never came back," another breath, "He feels so guilty, Booth."
"That's good, Temperance, now push." Paul's voice breaks through to the couple.
And she pushes.
It could have been seconds, minutes, hours later...it wouldn't matter, he would never tire of seeing his beautiful baby girl in the arms of his beautiful Bones, "I love you."
She looks up and sees the utter adoration all over his face, "I love you, too."
"Everyone's waiting to meet her," he nods his head at the door where he knows a small crowd of people are waiting beyond.
"Can they come in here? I'm not ready to let her go yet."
He smiles, "I'll go get them."
As their family and friends gather around them, meeting their baby girl, Booth can't help but notice that his grandfather is missing from this scene. His mind finally allows him to catch up to what Brennan had been saying during the birth and he feels sorry for the old man and all his guilt. Angela approaches him, Michael in her arms, "Hank is asleep again. I told him you'd be up to visit later."
He nods in appreciation, "Thank you, Angela; thank you for everything." He gestures towards his partner who is saying goodbye to Cam and Hodgins.
"Anytime, G-man," she looks over at her best friend, "She's never going to want to let go of her, so I say pounce while she's asleep."
Booth smiles, "Noted."
Angela smiles and returns to the bedside of her best friend to give her a kiss on the forehead and wish her well one last time for the morning, "I'll see you soon."
Brennan smiles as Booth walks towards her, "What should we name her?" he asks, sitting on the edge of her bed, peering down at their little bundle snuggled into her blankets.
Brennan looks up at him and chews her lip thoughtfully, "I've been thinking and I know it's not particularly common, but neither are either of our names..."
His eyes light up in excitement, "What is it, Bones?"
"Aurora. It means goddess of the dawn." She looks down at her sleeping baby, "She was conceived at dawn and born at dawn; I thought it seemed appropriate. What do you think?"
He leans down and kisses her softly, "I think we should take Aurora to meet her great-grandfather."
Hank is just stirring from slumber when they arrive, Booth pushing the wheelchair carrying the two most important girls in his life, "Hey Pops."
He looks weary, his breathing so shallow, the size of the machines around him swallowing his form in a white blur, but his eyes still hold their sparkle, "Shrimp!" He looks between Brennan and Booth for a moment, confusion evident in his features and then he speaks with conviction, "She told you."
Booth nods and wheels Brennan a little closer to the bed, leaning down and holding tight to his grandfather's hand, "I can't thank you enough for the childhood you gave me, Pops. Jared too."
Hank's eyes close against tears and a shaking hand pulls Booth down for a hug, "Thank you." As Booth straightens up, Hank peers past him to Brennan and the bundle of blankets in her arms, "Who do we have here?"
Booth pushes her wheelchair as close as he can and lifts his daughter from Brennan's arms, "This," he says, passing her to into Hank's shaking arms, "Is Aurora."
"Aurora," he whispers, holding her close to him.
Booth looks to Brennan and she nods as she lets him wheel her away a little, letting Hank have a moment with his great-granddaughter. He notices a tear roll down her cheek and looks back to his grandfather, nursing their baby girl, her tiny arm poking through the blankets to touch Hank's nose.
He breathes deep once more, smiling his final smile. The oldest and the youngest poised together in a perfect moment in time. And then, like falling asleep, his eyes close one last time. The steady beep from the machines cease and stillness and silence fills the void.
Booth hears, more than sees Brennan's quiet sob from beside him. He reaches forward and lifts his daughter from his grandfather's carefully poised arms, her small hands reaching for one last touch, as though she knows she has just been so close to death at the beginning of her life.
As Aurora starts to cry in Booth's arms, he pulls her close to his chest, reaching down to take Brennan's hand and letting his own tears fall, "I know, baby," he whispers, "I know."
"Okay, I'll admit, I'm a little glad she's having a sleepover at dad's."
Booth smiles as he closes the door behind them, pulling his partner into him, "See, it's okay to have a night of fun, even when you're a parent." He kisses her neck, making his way down her collar bone, winding his hands through her soft locks of hair.
She moans as he hits that spot and concedes, "You were right, Booth."
She leads the way to their bedroom, stopping abruptly in the doorway, "Wow, when did it get so late?" she asks, peering at their clock radio on the bedside table.
He snakes his arms around her, undoing the belt at the front of her dress, "Well, we did make that little pit stop behind the cinema."
She turns in his arms, kissing him softly, "We did, didn't we?"
He walks them to their bed, kissing and teasing her, "Repeat performance?"
She pulls his tie as she falls backwards onto the bed, "Definitely."
From beside them, the phone starts ringing and they stop immediately. Booth's hand hovers over the receiver, as glances at the clock again.
His stomach sinks and his heart races and his partner is there, holding his hand.
"Hey Booth. Pop and drop on the highway. I'm texting details. Bring Dr. Brennan." A pause, "And gumboots."
He hangs up and looks down, "We have a case."
And she smiles, and he smiles. Their family is all okay.
When a phone rings at 3am, a sense of dread will fill the person on the receiving end. For Seeley Booth a phone ringing in the middle of the night could mean anything, from a case, to a friend needing a lift home from the Founding Fathers. But before his hand touches the phone, he thinks of his grandfather; the man who raised him, the man who saved him. While he may not be thought of at every minute of every day, his life is not one forgotten, it is one shared amongst the living and he prays that wherever he is, he's watching down.