Spoilers: The end of Season 6, specifically "The Change in the Game"
A/N: Wow, it has been FOREVER since I've fic'ed. I started this one after the finale, but it's taken me this long to overcome some major writer's block. Thank you, Alanna, for the beta work!
Let Me Love You
Booth paced the length of the platform impatiently. It had been a busy morning, a typical day really, but for some reason it seemed much, much longer than usual. He wanted nothing more than to devour a double cheeseburger and fries, heavy on the grease, but as usual Bones was taking her sweet time detaching herself from the lab. He didn't have the patience for her weirdo Squinterns, their scientific mumbo-jumbo, or their seemingly endless inspection of the evidence.
"C'mon Bones. What's the holdup? I gotta get back to the office here. Chop chop!" The only response was a slight shrug from Cam and he huffed out a tense breath. The rest of the Squints wisely avoided making direct eye contact.
Brennan snapped off her latex gloves and leveled her gaze at her partner. "I think I'm ready for a break now."
Finally, Booth thought, but wisely kept this to himself. "Hungry?" he asked instead, helping her gather her things.
Her eyes traced a slow, deliberate path up his physique until finally locking with his own. "Starving," she answered suggestively.
Booth's eyebrows climbed to his hairline, unsure if she was implying what he thought she was implying. He'd seen that look a lot in the short time they'd been together and he still couldn't believe it sometimes. Before he could react, Brennan stepped forward to whisper in his ear and his eyes widened in surprise.
"I want you."
With a mischievous smile and a nearly imperceptible laugh, she turned on her heels, leaving him in a stupor. The Squints eyed him suspiciously until he recovered just enough to make a mad dash after her.
Lying in her bed afterwards waiting for their breathing and heart rates to resume a normal pace, the partners smiled at each other knowingly. It had taken them so long to get here, to this place. She stroked his cheek, he kissed her palm, both wishing they could keep the world at bay forever.
"You know, you keep eyeing me like an all-you-can-eat buffet, the Squint Squad is gonna catch on."
Brennan stretched languidly, unconcerned. They'd never actually planned to keep their budding relationship from their friends, but somehow it seemed all the more special knowing it was their secret, just for a little while. And then there was that other secret.
Sitting up and propping himself on one elbow, Booth gently traced the flat plane of her stomach with his finger. Leaning in, he placed a kiss below her bellybutton. "Hi baby," he crooned against her skin. "Sorry for jostling you in there, but your mom can't keep her hands off me."
Brennan laughed, still a little breathless. "Booth, the baby is the size of a blueberry right now. It can't hear you yet."
Booth scoffed. "I'm his-"
"Or her," she interrupted, sternly.
"-Or her daddy. Of course she can hear me. Isn't that right, my little blueberry?" He peppered her belly with feather-light kisses.
Brennan laughed again, though she was secretly touched by his affection for their unborn child. She had been so afraid to tell him she was pregnant, so afraid of how it would affect the two of them. She couldn't bear the thought of losing what they'd struggled to have for so long. "You know," she began wryly. "We still have plenty of time…"
His hearty laugh boomed in the silent apartment. "See what I mean?" He directed the question at her tummy. With a contented sigh, he sat up and gave his partner a peck on the cheek. "As much as I would love to spend all day in bed with you, Bones, I really do need to get back to the office. And you need to feed Baby Booth before you go back to the lab. Got anything to eat around here?"
"I have cereal," she offered.
He groaned, searching the floor for his boxers. "Ugh, not that non-fat tofutti rice cardboard crap!"
"I bought you some Lucky Charms and regular milk," she responded with an eye roll. "Do you know how much sugar and preservatives are in that stuff?" She slipped his shirt on to cover herself before gliding toward the kitchen.
Padding after her, Booth gave her a playful slap on the rear. "That's what makes them 'magically delicious,' Bones."
Pouring himself a heaping bowl—after clawing through the box in search of the toy—Booth dug into his cereal eagerly as he made his way to the couch. The sound of keys rattling the doorknob stopped him in his tracks. Brennan, too, heard it and shot him an alarmed look. Booth instinctively reached for his holster, his mind flashing to the pile of discarded clothes on her bedroom floor. Shit.
As the door swung wide unceremoniously, Booth stepped protectively in front of his partner. They both gaped helplessly at the unexpected visitor.
Max appeared to be just as startled as his daughter. His keen eyes took in the scene: a disgruntled-looking FBI guy in nothing but his underwear and striped socks, standing possessively in front of one tousled, albeit relaxed, forensic anthropologist who appeared to be wearing a man's dress shirt and little else. Max went from stunned to smug in an instant.
"Hello, honey. Booth... Nice to see you, son." He chuckled at the blush slowly climbing the younger man's neck.
"Dad, what are you doing here?"
Max gave Booth a knowing smirk before turning to his daughter. "You asked me to drop off those legal papers today. The ones you wanted me to sign? I'm guessing you forgot…"
Booth cleared his throat and looked at his partner pointedly. It took her a second to catch his drift, but then she excused herself. "I'll just go get dressed…"
Max could no longer contain his glee. As awkward as the encounter was, he wanted the best for his daughter and in his expert opinion, that man was currently standing across the room in his BVDs.
"How 'bout them Flyers, Seeley?" he asked glibly.
"Shut up Max," Booth grumbled. "You're enjoying this a little too much."
Max held his hands up in mock surrender. "Hey, I'm on your side, remember? I've been wanting you kids to get together for years."
Booth looked at him in disbelief. "You're really ok with… this?" He gestured helplessly.
"Well I would rather not walk in on you shtupping my daughter, if that's what you mean." Max sobered. "Look, son. I love my daughter with everything I've got. I want the best for her." He smiled warmly. "Yeah, I'm ok with it. So, when are you going to make an honest woman out of my Tempe?"
Having resumed shoveling cereal into his mouth, Booth almost choked. "What?"
Max chuckled. "We both know you've thought about it."
Of course he'd thought about it. He'd thought about it more times than he could remember, even before they'd officially started dating. He'd thought about it enough to know that Bones would freak out if he so much as breathed the word "marriage" in her presence. She was still coming to terms with the pregnancy, though Max didn't know that yet.
"Bones—She doesn't believe in marriage."
Nodding knowingly, Max said, "I know what she says, but Tempe deserves some stability. God knows I couldn't give it to her when she was growing up. A child should have a secure, loving family. I want you two to get serious, stop playing around and settle down already. It's about time, don't you think?"
Suddenly, Booth wasn't hungry anymore.
"And I think that if I work really hard, I can finish my dissertation in…"
Brennan sighed, cracking her neck to relieve some of the tension beginning to form a knot. She'd been to Tibet, El Salvador, Iraq, Guatemala… More impoverished countries than she cared to remember and still Daisy was enough to elevate her blood pressure with little effort.
"And then, assuming my dissertation is accepted of course, and I get my doctorate-" The perky brunette let out a girlish squeal. "I'll be Dr. Daisy Wick, forensic anthropologist. Well, hopefully Dr. Daisy Sweets by then…" She crossed her fingers dramatically.
Spending seven months in close quarters on the Maluku Islands had made the young intern grow on Brennan, she'd been surprised to find. But that hadn't made Daisy's constant prattle any less annoying and Brennan had become quite adept at tuning it out. The continuous stream of words never seemed to detract from Daisy's skill as a scientist, so Brennan was willing to overlook her faults.
Leaning across the stainless steel exam table, Brennan reached for the femur, bringing it up for a closer look. "There is evidence of osteonecrosis along the femoral head."
"Our victim was in a lot of pain," Daisy stated, studying the bone.
Brennan nodded. "It was most likely debilitating. I'd like to see this under 50 times magnification, please."
The intern complied, taking careful notes on a clipboard before resuming her narrative. "So after I publish my first book, I figure Lance and I will move to the suburbs where I can get a job teaching part-time in a university…"
Now that her protégée had steered the monologue back to academics, Brennan leapt to attention. "Wait, why would you want to teach part-time in a university? With your credentials, you could work in any forensics lab in the country."
It was Daisy's turn to look perplexed. "Well thank you, Dr. Brennan, but I can't have my baby in the city."
Brennan straightened up to her full height, her heart beginning to hammer in her chest, though she wasn't quite sure why. "You're… You're pregnant?"
"Well not yet, Dr. B!" Daisy laughed. "We're not even married yet."
"I-I don't understand, Ms. Wick. I thought you and Sweets had broken off your engagement before we left for Maluku."
"Oh, we did," Daisy assured her. "And we're taking things slowly right now. But we've done a lot of talking and I think wedding bells are definitely in our future, once I'm finished with my doctorate, of course." She was practically glowing with enthusiasm.
"But I still don't understand why you're planning on seeking employment in a university rather than a forensics lab. You have a first-rate mind, Ms. Wick. That, coupled with my recommendation, would give you your choice in any number of institutions. Why limit yourself?"
"When Lance and I decide to have a child," Daisy explained, "we can't possibly raise it in the city!"
"Because a child shouldn't grow up in a city, Dr. Brennan. Lance and I want the best for our children, so our careers will have to take a backseat, at least until they're older." Oblivious to Brennan's furrowed brow, Daisy turned back to the exam table. "There appears to be similar wear to the victim's humerus…"
Following suit, Brennan tried to shake off the sudden feelings of doubt niggling at the back of her mind. Would she have to quit working at the Jeffersonian now that she was pregnant? Would Booth want to move out of the city? Where would they live? She loved her life, had never been happier in fact, but things were changing much too quickly.
What if she couldn't adapt?
Jogging through the park in the crisp morning air, Booth shot his partner a thoughtful look. Bones was abnormally quiet today. In fact, now that he thought about it, he realized there'd been a distinct lack of Squint-speak these past few days. As the partners fell into step, their footfalls beating out a syncopated rhythm on the asphalt, he playfully nudged her shoulder with his own.
"You okay, Bones? You're being kind of quiet."
"Yes. I'm fine," she responded absently.
Booth slowed his pace, reaching out to gently grab her by the arm. She spun around and they came to a standstill, facing off. "Hey," he said, running his hand lightly down her arm and taking her hand. "What's going on? I can tell when something's bothering you. Talk to me." Seeing her hesitate, he led her to the nearest park bench and they sat.
Before he could say another word, Brennan blurted, "I don't want to quit the Jeffersonian and move to the suburbs."
Booth was flabbergasted. "What?"
"I like my life, Booth. I love working at the Jeffersonian and living in D.C. I don't want to lose that." She looked away, unable to face the disappointment she was sure she'd see in his eyes.
"I… Wait, what?"
She sighed. "I'm sorry. This is all happening so fast and we didn't plan any of it and I just don't think I can be that person."
"What person?" Bones had always had a knack for twisting his brain into a pretzel, but this was probably the most confusing conversation he'd ever had with her. He felt like he was walking into the middle of a negotiation without knowing either side.
"A part-time scientist, a homemaker, a mother. I don't want to live in the suburbs and cook dinner every night and have a big family and drive a mini-van. That's just not who I am. I'm sorry." She looked so miserable he felt his heart break even though he had absolutely no idea what the hell she was talking about.
"Hey, hey, hey. Hold on a minute, babe. Where is this coming from?" He slipped his arm around her shoulders, pulling her closer. "Start at the beginning."
Brennan inhaled a shaky breath. "I was having a conversation with Ms. Wick and she said that children shouldn't be raised in the city. It's much better for them to live in the suburbs, where they can play outside and ride their bikes and…" She trailed off, at a loss for words.
"Ms. Wi- Daisy? You're taking life advice from Daisy?" He was incredulous.
"I want the best for our child, Booth. I really do," she told him adamantly. "But I don't know who I am if I can't be a scientist anymore."
He shifted on the bench to face her, using his forefinger to lift her chin to meet his eyes. "Listen to me. I don't want to move to the suburbs either! I love living in D.C. and as far as raising a kid here, I'm raising Parker here, aren't I?"
"That's true," she conceded. "And Parker is a very smart, well-adjusted boy."
Booth nodded. "Sure, we don't have a backyard for kids to play in, but they're parks and monuments and museums. There's plenty of great stuff to take our kids to, stuff they don't have in the boring old suburbs." He smiled fondly. "I know you want the best for our baby; I do too. We've got it. Right here."
"So I don't have to quit the Jeffersonian?" she asked uncertainly.
"Of course not! How else are we gonna get in there free whenever we want?" he teased, grin widening when she rewarded him with a relieved laugh. "Now why didn't you just talk to me about all this in the first place?"
"I didn't want to disappoint you. Our relationship is so new, I was afraid of ruining it."
"You could never ruin this, Bones. We're in this thing together now. You and me and Blueberry here." He patted her tummy with his large palm. "You need to talk to me when something's bothering you, just like we've always done."
"Will you tell me when something is bothering you?"
Booth scratched the back of his neck guiltily. When Brennan looked at him expectantly, he scrubbed a hand across his face. "Yeah, I will." He hesitated, debating before finally giving in. "Okay, there is something I should have talked to you about before. Well… That day your dad walked in on us at your apartment? We had a talk and it got me thinking."
Brennan raised an eyebrow. She had known something was bothering her partner, just as he'd seen through her façade, but the idea that it somehow involved her father was clearly not what she'd been expecting.
"Now don't freak out on me," Booth rushed to add. "But he was pretty insistent that we get married."
"You told him about the baby?" Brennan exclaimed. "I thought we were going to tell everyone together. That's what you said!"
"What- No! Of course I didn't tell him! We'll tell everyone our news together, when the time is right for both of us. Besides, I might need you to protect me when we tell Max that I impregnated his little girl."
Brennan was perplexed. "I don't understand. Then why would he expect us to get married?"
Sighing, Booth looked deeply into his partner's eyes. "Listen, Bones. It's no secret how I feel about you, how I've always felt about you. Your dad knows I would marry you the instant you gave me the green light." At her alarmed expression, he hurried on. "But I know you're not ready for that. We're not ready for that. But Max brought up some good points."
"Like what?" she asked, narrowing her eyes suspiciously.
With a steadying breath, Booth tried to organize his thoughts. "You and me, neither of us had a very stable childhood. We never knew where we'd be one day or if there was anybody looking out for us. Our kids? They will never know that feeling."
Maybe it was just the pregnancy hormones, but Brennan was flooded with affection for the man across from her. She struggled to understand his reasoning. "And you believe an antiquated institution will ensure that stability?"
Booth let the little jab go. "I believe kids need to know that their parents are united. That they will stand together, no matter what, and love each other. That they are a family. Forever."
"You once told me that there is more than one type of family. You were adamant that wherever there is love and connection and commitment to one another, there is family. I have come to understand your logic and accept it as my own. You are my family, Booth. Regardless of what others may believe, that is my truth."
A smile slowly spread across his face as Booth processed her words. "So what you're saying is, you're already committed to us and our baby and you don't need a legal arrangement to feel that?"
Relieved, Brennan smiled too. "Yes, I believe that is what I'm trying to say. Are you okay with that?"
Pulling her into his chest, he kissed her temple. "Yeah, Bones. I'm okay with that. And I'm sorry for not bringing this up sooner. When something is bothering one of us, we need to talk about it. Just like we did before we were a couple."
Brennan pulled back, nodding. "There is something else that is bothering me."
Bracing himself, Booth waved his hand in a "go on" gesture. "Alright, lay it on me."
Toying with the string on his sweatshirt, she murmured, "I find myself very sexually aroused by you right now."
In a bad and rather obnoxious British accent, Booth teased, "Do I make you horny, baby? Do I make you randy?"
Oblivious to the Austin Power reference, Brennan simply stated, "I believe those colloquialisms are accurate, yes." Standing, she looked coyly over her shoulder at her partner. "And if we forfeit the rest of our run, we should have enough time to satisfy our biological needs before work."
Jumping to his feet, Booth took his partner by the hand and flashed her a grin. "I'm always here to satisfy each and every one of your needs, babe."