Brennan groaned as her body divested itself of another contraction, sinking into Booth as he rubbed soothing circles over her taut stomach. They were sitting together in a colorful blue tub, Brennan pasted to Booth's chest as she drew comfort from his presence.
At first, Booth had been reluctant to join her, but at Brennan and their kindly midwife's insistence- and perhaps his own timidly voiced desire to be as near to Brennan as possible- the studly FBI agent donned swim trunks and slipped into the warm, waist-high water. Within seconds, he had crawled up behind the laboring forensic anthropologist, seeming a little surprised when she welcomed the physical closeness of his action. But for Brennan, it was more than that. She enjoyed knowing he was right there, a lifeline; truly part of their daughter's birth. The thought that Serenity was going to greet the world with her parents tangled in loving, supportive embrace... suffice to say, no anthropology lesson could have explained this; this feeling so warm, Brennan was unsure how to describe it without doing the intense emotion disservice.
Waves of agony, stronger than the last, rushed over Brennan so potently that her internal musings were swept away in their wake. She arched in Booth's grasp, crying out, only barely registering the gentle command to push from Midwife Foster. Really, though... No one needed to tell her. The urge was becoming unbearable, and it was with wry delight that Brennan complied.
"Oh, it hurts," she panted, breathlessly. Booth ran a smooth palm up her trembling arm and down, just once. He seemed wary of touching the brunette overly much, and Brennan still had enough cogency to recall their recent conversation, and her concern that she might not react well to excessive stimuli, based on various accounts of women she had stumbled across online. Booth had chuckled nervously in response, assuring that although he was the type to unknowingly push boundaries, he would try to remember to be ginger. Brennan knew Booth would stop immediately if she became snappish or distressed, but so far she had managed to keep herself in check. As much as her body protested, she wanted Booth there, every step of the way.
"It's all worth it," Booth murmured. "You can do it, Bones. You're strong. You can do it..."
Brennan nodded through a haze. Yes. The pain was temporary. The pain didn't matter. Serenity was counting on her.
"Again, Temperance," Mrs. Foster encouraged, and Brennan bore down with all the force she could muster. The minutes and perhaps even hours melded into this dismal ritual of stress then release; tightening then relaxation, albeit this small mercy came in shorter and shorter bursts until all Brennan was aware of was the horrible sensation of being torn apart at the seams.
"Here she comes!"
Brennan sobbed out her final contraction, wondering when Booth's hand had latched itself onto hers, but squeezing it for dear life nonetheless. She registered dimly the midwife, warning them not to startle the baby as Serenity slowly left the safety of her body. There was a wonderful outpouring of relief that spread throughout the exhausted scientist's limbs as she felt her daughter tug free, out into the waiting arms of Mrs. Foster, who pulled the newborn upright with practiced ease.
Brennan stared, drowning in the small, wriggling, perfect human being that was her and Booth all rolled into one. Already she could see the similarities: the prominent zygomatic arch that was clearly of Booth descent; the button nose that belonged to the Brennans. Her partner's mouth on a delicately familiar square-jawed chin. Would Serenity share her father's charming, playful smirk? Or would she tend toward the serious, like her mother?
Mother. Mother. What a powerful word.
I am a mother. Thrilling and frightening, for the first time, it hit her. Really hit her, like a ton of bricks.
"Congratulations, Mom and Dad," Mrs. Foster crooned, passing the tiny girl to Brennan, who accepted her precious gift with a choked,
Serenity Joy Booth made adorable mewing sounds as the new mother cradled her infant close, and somewhere around her right ear, Booth was struggling with similar noises.
"God, Bones. It's her. It's really her. Serenity... She- she's beautiful."
Brennan glanced up and was shocked to see him crying, actually crying. And Seeley Booth, the steely FBI agent, did not cry. Then Brennan realized, with perhaps an even greater sense of amazement:
She was too.
In that moment, with Booth at her back and a baby- their baby- in her arms, Brennan knew:
She had found happiness.
And just like that, everything the brilliant forensic anthropologist had never dared to dream for herself came true. Through tears and hope and sighs of adulation, Brennan smiled. It was the smile of a woman whose life suddenly felt as if it had fallen into place, as the pieces chinked together inside what had long felt like an eternally damaged heart, wistful for love but always afraid to seek it. And now- now she had. Oh, she had.
In that instance's breath, the world was most certainly right side up. For in their search to regain all that they had lost along the way, Temperance Brennan and Seeley Booth found each other, found family... and thus, serenity.