She looked at the plastic strip in front of her. The one with the little window showing two lines. She had bought the kit with two just in case, because although there was little doubt in her mind as to the high accuracy rate of these types of commercial tests, she was a scientist and had wanted, needed, the reassurance of repetition. Hypothesis based on observation. Test hypothesis. Repeat test.
This was the second strip. The second one that revealed two unmistakable blue parallel lines. She'd been careful to read the instructions beforehand, in case she became too unsettled to make sense of them afterwards. Not that there had been a remote question about her ability to process the information under any circumstance, because Dr. Temperance Brennan was very smart and quite capable of remaining objective even under duress. At least most of the time. But she read the instructions prior nevertheless, just in case and because recent events had shown her that no one, not even she, was immune to the effects of deep emotion.
Detached and collected regardless of what the evidence revealed; those were her very words earlier this morning when she'd all but made up her mind to purchase the pregnancy test. At the time, there had existed a measure of conviction that she'd be able to retain some semblance of professionalism even in her personal life regardless of outcome. It just didn't seem appropriate for a world-renowned forensic anthropologist to be caught indulging in adolescent theatrics. Whatever the result, she was a full grown woman who could handle even the most unexpected.
Except that standing in the cramped bathroom stall of the hospital where one of her best friends was waiting to give birth, she wasn't feeling detached and collected at all. There was something peculiar and very visceral about this current experience-something that Booth would have qualified as a stemming from her "gut". And even though she had always dismissed that word as lacking any concrete, scientific definition, it certainly seemed to apply to her present situation.
Definitely pregnant, then. Of course these tests weren't foolproof. No one could so accurately provide the figures and probabilities involving scientific certainty better than she, except maybe for Zack or perhaps poor Mr. Nigel-Murray. One hundred percent accuracy in anything was improbable if not impossible. And hadn't Angela's test provided a false positive in the not so distant past? She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, her nose filling with the pungent smell of disinfectant, trying to regain some composure.
Yes, taken by itself there was a small probability that the test didn't mean she was gravid. But there had been other signs, other evidence that should have alerted her to the possibility earlier. In her defense, they were signs easily associated with an impending period: fullness in her breasts, slight abdominal tenderness, a vaguely upset stomach along with some amount of tiredness. She had never been exactly "regular" as other women would have used the term, and when she found a few traces of blood in her underwear some weeks ago the occurrence had been dismissed as a menstrual period most possibly suppressed by stress. And there had been plenty of stress lately, along with other more pleasurable things as well.
Except now she was sure, regardless of probabilities, that the blood hadn't been a period at all but most likely the after-effects of a fertilized egg implanting itself in her uterine lining. The exact moment, days after the actual event, that her and Booth's actions on the morning following Vincent's death had taken concrete form-the form of a baby.
Booth. Her mind went back to the fun they had shared today "pretending" to be girlfriend and boyfriend in the bowling alley, terms that were ludicrous on their face because she was a woman, not a girl, and Booth was most definitely not a boy. It was the first time they had been even remotely demonstrative to each other out in public and she was forced to admit that it felt good to openly claim him, ring firmly on her finger, as hers. And even though she suspected that Max might have noticed something being amiss, she considered herself to be a good actress and felt that they had pulled it off regardless of Booth's incautious-and overly possessive-kiss.
It had definitely been an enjoyable day even as she kept pushing pregnancy thoughts as far away from her mind as she could, at least until a stop at the drugstore could clarify matters once and for all. True, the sudden revulsion she felt at the smell in the bowling alley and that lively conversation about the shrewish child bowler and the likelihood of such a progeny for Wanda and Buck kept causing the pregnancy alarms to go off in her brain, but the case came first and she would cope. Except that now the case was done and the evidence had been collected. All that remained was finding the courage to tell him and the strength to wait for his reaction.
Of course, Booth was Booth. And a baby to Booth was a baby, regardless of its embryonic stage. There was no doubt that he would do the right thing, whatever that was, and might even lull himself into believing he was happy over the news. But while she was brilliant at many things, she had acknowledged long ago to herself that reading people was not one of her better skills and she feared that in this one instance she could not be trusted to read him and his reaction accurately.
Did she want him to be happy? Even more relevant to the situation, did she want to be happy?
The second kit was tucked back into the box along with the first one, and the whole thing shoved deep down into her purse. It seemed tawdry and sad to leave the strips behind in a public bathroom, as though they were evidence of something nefarious and shameful. How ironic that tomorrow's doctors' visit, the one she had scheduled weeks ago for the purpose of being prescribed contraceptive pills, would now only serve to confirm what it had been meant to prevent.
So what, exactly, was happiness anyway? It could be defined scientifically as a sudden release of endorphins triggered by a pleasurable experience which results in a temporary state of euphoria, but this didn't seem like a sufficiently descriptive definition as of late. Because for a few weeks now and up until this moment she had been happy, had understood its meaning in the most personal of ways, and now knew that no scientific term could possibly encompass the fullness of the word. Booth made her happy. Their relationship made her happy. And the baby? She wasn't sure. She had wanted a baby before-his specifically-but that had been a simpler time when nothing but a well-planned visit to a fertility clinic was required. But now? They had flirted furiously for years, they had paid their dues in spades, and they had just started dating, a word that was both quaint and yet amusingly appropriate. Had just started discovering what partnership meant on a whole, new intimate level and the baby…she just wasn't sure what a baby would bring to that equation.
Some part of her felt that the whole situation seemed unfair, if such an expansive concept really even existed. Her very use of the word was yet another reminder of just how thoroughly her partner's thoughts and expressions had infiltrated her lexicon, along with so many other areas of her life. Yet, unfair seemed like the correct word. Because they had fought, and teased, and hurt each other, and provided comfort for almost seven years, and yet only now were they taking a chance on something more, something unabashedly primal and deep that seemed to require more by way of exploration than the unencumbered few weeks they had been given.
And it had been good. More than good-it had been almost beyond description, which was high praise indeed considering that she had spent her whole life acquiring an arsenal of terms to describe and categorize all that she knew.
Her thoughts flew back to the morning before, when she had entered the lab a bit late and utterly oblivious to the fact that she looked slightly disheveled. Angela, with a large belly in precedence, had given her one of her "looks," alerting her to the fact that she would be duly providing some unintended amusement for her friend. After having unceremoniously sent Hodgins off somewhere else as usual, she proceeded, in the most innuendo filled way, to make her point. "Having some fun this morning, I see?" Angela was, quite irritatingly, making no effort to conceal her glee. "I don't know what you're referring to, Angela." Except that she sort of knew, but it was too late to do anything about it. Angela smiled knowingly and pointed a finger in her direction, making a little motion while looking at Brennan's midriff. Feeling herself blush in a way she couldn't recall ever doing, she touched her side to discover that the shirt that had been pretty thoroughly untucked from her pants earlier today had only partly been shoved back in.
"Wow, still going at it like bunnies, huh?"
She opened her mouth to object to the observation, since it was patently obvious that rabbits, belonging to an entirely different animal species than humans, had little in common with people when it came to their copulating habits, but certain recent events came to mind and all she could manage was a wide-eyed, open-mouthed expression.
"Oh Bren, sweetie, don't take it personally. I'm only teasing. I'm happy for you, for the two of you. God knows I've been waiting forever to say that line. Besides, I'm not getting any at this point so the least you can do is let me live vicariously through you. So that good, huh?"
A detailed explanation was definitely not in order, so she shrugged her shoulders and looked away with a suppressed smile. Definitely good; just about every horizontal and vertical surface in both of their apartments could provide ample evidence to support that conclusion.
"Yes; that good. But I'm not giving any details no matter what, so I urge you not to bother blackmailing me regarding my appearance."
The events that led to the untucked shirt were still fresh on her mind when she absently greeted Hodgins on her way to the lab's bathroom. She and Booth had been in his SUV, having a perfectly pleasant and completely inconsequential conversation when Booth pulled into a spot a suitable distance from the Jeffersonian's personnel entrance to drop her off for work. He was going on to his office, so he leaned into her to give her a small kiss, an action she had let him indulge in before and would continue to allow because they were still inside the car and it was unlikely that someone would see them. And besides, she liked it.
Why they still kept up the secrecy of their involvement was a topic of discussion between them, but it was an act that they both found unaccountably amusing. Maybe it was more of "what's between us is ours" or maybe it was because it felt vaguely illicit and naughty to keep up their little conspiracy, perhaps another instance of "you've got to be bad to be good." Whatever the reason, and Sweets and his nosiness had been used as a scapegoat often, the secrecy remained. Of late though, there were signs that despite their best efforts, it was becoming increasingly difficult to hide their displays of affection towards each other when they were out in the open (although she maintained she did a much better job at it than he did) and she "had a feeling" (there he was again) that the proverbial feline would be out of the cave soon.
The kiss started out light, but she had caught a little gleam in his eye that bode ill for her and which immediately made her think of Caroline and that prosecutor's celebrated puckishness. They seemed so unaccountably similar so often, Booth and Caroline, that it was sometimes difficult to think of them as anything but relatives, despite the fact that they looked nothing alike. It also helped that the older woman almost always took Booth's side on everything. So she prepared herself for some possible mischief on his part when his kiss suddenly turned deep and unbridled, leaving thoughts of Caroline and family resemblances far behind. It was unprofessional certainly, but it was also very good, so she allowed it to proceed with some help from her own lips and tongue when in one deft move she felt her shirt pulled out of her pants and a warm, large hand replace it against the skin of her back. The motion was quick and unexpected and it largely wiped out her ability to react, until the hand found its way to her abdomen and then underneath her bra to cup a full breast with rampant enthusiasm.
She pulled hard on his hand and gave him an indignant stare.
"We're in front of the Jeffersonian!" she went on with some heat.
"You of all people should know there are surveillance cameras everywhere, even outside."
Penitent silence followed, along with a clearly unpracticed apology.
"Gosh Bones, I'm sorry. I swear I don't know what came over me."
He looked truly contrite as he leaned back into his seat and she felt vaguely and unexpectedly sorry for him, but a line had to be drawn nevertheless, so the reprimand continued.
"We've discussed this before. If we're going to continue to work together and have a relationship we have to keep our personal life out of our jobs. Otherwise, it's just too difficult and messy. I have to become-and remain-a professional when I get into this car in the morning."
And that was a lie, she knew, because that same government-issued car had seen some pretty vigorous make-out sessions immediately after work, sessions that would have been a reminder of her adolescence except for the fact that this had been a quite sexually uneventful period in her life.
Thoughts of make-out sessions aside, she sternly jammed the shirt back into her pants as well as she could and without giving him much time to respond, opened the car door and got out.
"Bones, Bones, I'm sorry. I swear, I won't do that again. Ever. Please don't be mad."
He had jumped out of his side in flash, belying his FBI reflexes, and reached out to her with naked panic in his eyes. She relented almost immediately. Really, it hadn't been that big of an infraction. Certainly nothing that should leave him fearful and downcast all day. It was just too easy to hurt him, and she vowed to continue working on the delivery and tone of her responses to him in the future. Besides, she admitted that she was too easy to rile. Evidently, there was still a lot of room for improvement in their interactions with each other. Letting out a resigned breath, she looked into his worried eyes.
"It's okay, Booth. I overreacted. Just a little. Although you," "we" she amended quickly, "need to work on keeping our personal and work lives separate. It's going to get us into trouble otherwise-you more than me, given that you work for a bureaucratic agency that is quite unforgiving of individual actions and I pretty much dictate the terms of my employment."
Relaxing as her tone went from stern to beseeching, and despite the unintentional insult, he ended up giving her one of those butterfly-inducing, little boy smiles which she had finally allowed herself to fully succumb to after all these years.
"Alright Bones. I promise. I'm really going to work on it. Work here" he motioned to one side with his hands "and personal here." Another motion. "I totally get it. See, I'm smarter than I look. I've been telling you that forever, but you still don't see it."
He tapped his head and she had a sudden impulse to laugh with him and ruffle his perfectly styled hair, one of his few but endearing vanities. Instead, she decided on something entirely different.
"Yes you are" she said wickedly, and just as she leaned closer and made it appear that he was going to be the recipient of a kiss, much to his delight, she discretely stroked the front of his pants with her index finger several times, all the while looking straight into his scandalized eyes. She turned on her heels and briskly and professionally walked off, stopping only to look over her shoulder to state matter-of-factly "have a good day, Booth."
Washing her hands under the fluorescent lights of the bland but perfectly functional hospital bathroom, she considered her image in the mirror. It was the same person she had seen yesterday morning composing herself after the shirt incident, yet it was not. She had left her apartment as a sex kitten that day, Angela's own phrase for her of late, and would be returning to it as a maternal figure tonight. Because a determination had been reached that no matter what, she would keep and raise the child. She had wanted one before and was certainly in a position to take care of all of its needs, even without the help of a mate.
More than that though, she couldn't even contemplate terminating her pregnancy because of what it would have done to Booth. She had always defended the right of women to have options because she had witnessed firsthand what women went through all over the world when they could not. But although Booth never argued with her on that point and might have even been reluctantly sympathetic to her views, she knew deep down he thought it was wrong and would never be able to forgive her if she chose out of convenience not carry his child to full term. Whatever else happened, it was almost a certainty that this was the one thing their relationship would not be able to survive. She wouldn't allow herself to consider doing that to them-to him-or to their child for that matter, regardless of the impact the situation would have on her life or on the tentative nature of their current status.
She paused at the edge of the waiting room in an effort to find some semblance of equanimity. Several of their colleagues had arrived since she had left on her personal mission, so she took an exploratory look before deciding where to sit. Not feeling the least bit chatty, she avoided being anywhere near Sweets or Cam. Wendell had always been intimidated by her and even though that would put her dangerously close to Booth, it was the best available option.
"Where'd you go? I thought you were going to the bathroom. I was ready to send a search party out for you."
Although it was obvious he was joking, she also knew that he wasn't because for years he'd done nothing but worry over the people he cared about, even in the most innocuous of situations.
"I went looking for a card for Angela."
"Still? I told you, she's not going to care. Look Bones, let it go. It just isn't that important. So anyway, did you find one?"
At the shake of her head he lifted his eyebrows in mock exasperation. "I tell you, she's gonna love the bunny" he said grinning now and waving a giant stuffed rabbit in the air. "Besides, no one really reads those things." At this, he turned his attention to Sweets and a conversation that seemed to contain several references to the word "awesome", and once again she was left alone with her thoughts.
The mention of the card made her cringe a little. She had come to accept that lies, specifically as Booth called them, "little white lies" (although she still puzzled over the reference to color) were somewhat of a necessity when engaging in social discourse. Still, as a scientist whose main objective was always the pursuit of the truth, lying, even when it was perceived as white and small, made her uncomfortable. After they turned the pathetic manager of the bowling alley over for booking, Booth insisted on stopping at her apartment for a quick shower before heading over to the hospital. He emphasized quick, because he knew she was anxious to see her friend but really, she hadn't needed too much convincing about the detour. They both benefited from it; he'd feel better after the shower and it would give her the opportunity to go on her pharmacy excursion without him.
So the story of the card had been concocted when he asked her where she was going; she figured she had sounded impressively convincing.
"Anthropologically," a word that inevitably made his eyes glaze over a little, "a gift and a card are expected exchanges which denote interest and concern in these situations. I believe that Angela would be disappointed if she didn't receive both. I'm only doing my part to further our joint social contracts Booth, especially now that we are a couple."
He rolled his eyes and headed to the shower and she knew she had pulled it off, no matter how ridiculous her words had sounded even to her. What she had neglected to do on her errand was to actually buy the card, so that upon her return and as he was still dressing she found herself having no immediate answer to give as to where the card was. Shrugging her shoulders to gain time, she settled on saying something somewhat true: no card seemed to have an appropriate and tempered sentiment. No card she had ever seen actually had, she mused, finding some comfort in the veracity of the response. He wondered if she wanted to shower too, but now there was a mounting feeling of concern over Angela, so she opted for washing her face and combing her hair instead. The test would have to wait; the likelihood of Booth walking in on her was too high. Minutes later, with a pregnancy test well-concealed at the bottom of her purse and a floppy bunny firmly under Booth's arm, they headed down to meet the impending new arrival.
She kept stealing glances at him. He looked so happy and relaxed and it definitely did something to her to see him that way. Admiring his easy rapport with their coworkers, the way he could joke and laugh with them, it made her feel just a little too self-satisfied that he was her "boyfriend" regardless of the fact that almost no one knew yet. Definitely not a rational thought, but lately she seemed to be having fewer and fewer of these.
It didn't hurt of course that he was distractingly good to look at. Wearing the bowling clothes again because all he had at her place were sweats and old t-shirts, he had settled on new underwear and a shave by way of compromise. But no matter, bowling shirt or not, he was extremely attractive to her as she let her eyes linger on his broad shoulders and the ruggedly masculine lines of his face, almost always softened by twinkling eyes (not her words, but accurate nevertheless) and a very effective "charm smile." An unlikely and mesmerizing combination of equal parts boyish and virile-and she realized once again that she was developing a most inappropriate crush on her partner.
How was it possible, after all these years together, to feel this way? Sweets could surely have lectured hours on the subject, expositions involving suppression and repression and other ethereal and unscientific theories. It was conceivable that he'd be right. Whatever the case, it was ridiculous to be carried away by this giddiness every time she was near him, and she hoped that at least some of this unexpected impact of their relationship on her chemical processes would subside soon. Of course, sometimes he still exasperated her beyond belief. She clung to this as a good sign that she wasn't losing all of her mental faculties of late, despite all other evidence to the contrary.
The doors to the waiting room opened and Hodgins stepped out with a tiny wrapped bundle in his arms. Automatically putting away the phone she had been hiding behind for the last half hour, she stood up with the bunny in hand. Hodgins looked so relieved, overjoyed really, it had to be good news for the baby's eyesight.
Sweets, Cam, Wendell, Booth-they were all there, crowding around an impossibly small and fragile being. But she couldn't bear anything more than a glance. The whole scene had an unreal quality to it, leaving her feeling vaguely adrift. She had to know; was compelled by a fierce need to know; to know from her friend if things had changed already and in what way. She headed to the recovery room by herself only stopping once to look in Booth's direction. He had the most open of smiles on his face, the face of a man who had happily been in Hodgins' situation once himself. His eyes sparkled warmly as they met hers, and she went through the waiting room doors wondering whether she would ever see him sporting such an unclouded expression in reference to herself ever again.