Author's Note: Another challenge was extended. I was commanded by the chicken to write a Bones story with Killer Zombie Gnomes and, if I could manage it, glitter. (Again, if you don't know why I'm talking about chickens, Google The Bloggess and Big Metal Chicken and you will find out.)
Absurd. No way can I churn out anything worth, well, anything with a prompt like that. But I like to at least try rise to a challenge. The code name for this absurdity? Operation Red Hat (because gnomes wear red hats, of course.)
However, I cannot be so easily played and I struck a deal. In exchange for me writing a piece with these ridiculous parameters, Sunsetdreamer now owes me an EPIC birthday fic with the parameters of my choosing. And I chose well. December 30th, y'all. Look for it. It will be ten kinds of awesome and will make up for any flaws you might see here. Trust me. The exchange will be worth it.
And yes, my darling Sunsetdreamer, I just put the fic reading world on alert for your birthday fic to me. I love you dearly, but don't mess with twittermom. Give my regards to the chicken.
Special thanks to jaded_repartee for the help and assurances.
One Saturday night a month was date night.
Not for Booth and Brennan, but for Hadley with Booth and Brennan with Parker.
On this particular night Booth and the baby had been in for a rousing trip to the grocery store while Brennan and Parker opted to continue their tradition of an in home movie night.
The lights were all off and only the glow of the television, the giant one she hadn't wanted, flickered light into the house.
"He's going to have to run faster than that," said Parker.
"Yes. Those zombie gnomes are extremely fast. It's quite foolish to think he could outrun them. There's been no indication that they can climb. He should find the nearest tree."
"Oh! He's in a field now. No trees! The dad is totally gonna bite it!"
"He's got no chance of escape."
Booth had put the baby in bed and made his way silently to the middle of the stairs. Part of his Saturday tradition, after his time with Hadley was over, was to spend a few minutes watching his partner and his son together. They were quite a pair. Parker's love of schlock horror films he could understand, but her enthusiasm for the B-movies surprised him.
Perhaps he should have learned by now that she was anything but predictable.
"OH!" came both voices from the couch at once as the man on screen tripped and was promptly swarmed and eaten by murderous lawn ornaments.
"Now it's up to the mother to save them all. She should move while they are feasting on her husband. The gnomes will find them in that shed he told them to hide in." Brennan noted solemnly.
"Here they come, lady!" Parker yelled at the screen. "RUN!"
From his perch, Booth could see the action on the screen. Out the back of the door of the shack the characters ran, the woman clutching the baby, the boy trying to keep up.
"That kid is toast." said Parker matter-of factly.
"No, she won't let that happen."
"Sure she will. The baby is way more important than the kid."
Parker shrugged. "The baby can't save herself. Plus, he's not her kid."
"Remember, in the beginning, they said she was his stepmother."
"But, that doesn't mean she won't save him."
"Step moms love their own kids more. It's just a fact. She'll save the baby first."
Brennan wasn't watching the screen anymore, but had turned to face Parker on the couch next to her. Parker, however, was facing straight forward, eyes glued to the movie as if he could not meet her gaze.
"Do you think I love Hadley more than you?" Her eyes were wide with concern.
On the stairs, Booth held his breath, his heart pounding in his chest.
Another shrug. "Probably. I mean, I'm not your kid. It makes sense." He didn't sound as nonchalant as he was trying to be.
Booth could see her processing, see her mind working, see her trying to think of the exact right thing to say.
"While it is true that folklore and fairytales often depict stepmothers as cold or uncaring towards their spouse's child, I find that to be inaccurate in reality."
"You do?" Parker dared a quick sideways glance.
"Yes," nodded Brennan. "I might not legally be your step mother, but my affection for you is quite real."
"It is?" The movie had been momentarily forgotten by them all, even Parker.
"But it's not the same as how you feel about Hadley."
"Well, no, that's true."
Booth closed his eyes, knowing that was not the answer Parker had been hoping for. It also wasn't the answer he had hoped for.
"That's cool, though. I get it." Parker turned back to his movie.
"Do you love me like you love your mother?"
Parker thought for a minute. "Well, no. I mean, she's my mom."
"Yes. You are biologically programmed to love your mother. And Hadley is my daughter. I'm biologically wired to love her. But you? I love you by choice. Sometimes I think that means even more."
"Yes. I love Hadley. I'm her mother. Biology dictates that I have to love her and I'm glad about that. But you? I want to love you. I choose to. I may love you differently than Hadley, but I love you both equally. Does that make sense?"
Motionless, breathless and awed on the stairs, Booth waited to hear his son's reaction.
Parker faced his not-exactly-a-step-mother-but-close-enough and thought for a moment. "Yeah. I guess so. I mean, I love pizza and I love ice cream, but not in the same way. Like that?"
"That seems like an appropriate syllogism." She looked at the screen and then back at Parker. "I would save you from Killer Zombie Gnomes from Outer Space."
"I'd save you, too." He grinned and turned back to the screen.
"I'm glad." She smiled back at his profile, feeling like she'd just passed some kind of parenting test.
In the strairwell, Booth grinned, too.
"Oh look!" Parker pointed. "She figured out the climbing thing! She's in the loft of that barn!"
Brennan shifted on the couch to watch the movie again. "I hope she thinks to pull up the ladder and not kick it down for the gnomes to use."
"Oh, yeah! Good call, Bones!"
The Killer Zombie Gnomes flooded the barn, making an ominous trap for the mother and her children.
"I'm starting to wish Dad would get rid of that stupid gnome in the front yard," muttered Parker.
"Well, that's just a yard ornament. An inanimate object. It's never shown any sign of being a zombie or even of being evil." Suddenly the gnomes in the movie began to stack upon one another to reach the family in the loft, causing Brennan to shudder. "But I could stand to see it go."
"Me too," agreed Parker as they watched the movie mom fight off the gnomes with a rake. "Just in case."
Silently Booth crept from his observation point to the kitchen, only to be joined by Brennan a few moments later.
"Booth!" She jumped, startled by his form in the dim kitchen. "You're home!"
"Yeah, Hadley feel asleep halfway to the grocery store, so I just came home and put her in bed." He smiled at her. "C'mere." He swept her into his arms and kissed her soundly, so incredibly thankful for their life together; for the woman that she was.
She returned his kiss but when it was over she regarded him suspiciously, noting his slightly misty eyes and goofy expression. "You overheard us, didn't you?"
"You love my kid."
"Of course I do." She stepped out of his arms to put some popcorn in the microwave.
"Thank you for that." He leaned against the counter and watched her get out drinks and a popcorn bowl.
"Thanking me is unnecessary."
"Not to me."
"I lied to him." She fidgeted with imaginary crumbs on the counter.
"What?" Booth's blood froze. Was she about to take it back?
"I lied. I didn't choose to love him. It just…happened. But that sounded much more precarious than if I loved him by choice. So I lied. Is that…is that alright? It seemed an appropriate time to bend the truth a bit." She glanced up to look at him.
"What you said was perfect." He reassured her.
She nodded as the microwave beeped and she emptied the popcorn into the large bowl. "Good. I would never want him to think he is unequal to Hadley."
"I don't think he does. At least, not anymore."
"Would you care to join us?" She cocked her head in the direction of the family room.
"Nah. That's your thing. I've got something else I have to take care of anyway."
"BONES!" came Parker's voice from the other room. "She just knocked out like six zombie gnomes with a tractor!"
"Coming!" She hollered back. "We're watching Glittering Gory Geishas from the Planet Gulaph after this if you change your mind."
"Pass." He laughed.
"You don't know what you're missing" she tossed over her shoulder as she left the kitchen.
Booth shook his head, amused, then went out to the garage. He pulled on old pair of shoes, found his shovel and went out to the front yard.
"Sorry, buddy," he told the garden gnome. "It looks like you've overstayed your welcome."
And in the dark of night, Agent Booth saved his family from the gnome by relocating it to the garbage can.
Well? All things considered, how'd I do?