Where Tomorrow Shines
The city's an analogy
for things building inside of me,
There's chaos and there's discord,
and still we move along.
The chaos sings of symmetry,
and all her words are poetry
And that's the kind of city which I want to belong.
Courage and Control, Brandon Boyd
Booth is chattier than usual during the car ride to the post office. He can feel the weight of Brennan's gaze and he's afraid that she'll start talking the minute he stops. And he very much does not want to talk about his father. When he runs out of things to say, he asks her to phone his apartment under the guise of confirming his grandfather made it in, but mostly it's because the two of them get along so well he's confident they'll find things to talk about right up until he parks the SUV.
He thinks he's safe once Brennan becomes preoccupied by the remains, and he quickly realises what a mistake this is. She's concerned; he gets that. But they're at a crime scene, for crying out loud. It should be obvious that he doesn't want to talk here any more than she would want to talk here if the circumstances had been reversed. So he gets abrasive, but she just. keeps. going.
Brennan, for her part, knows she's crossed a line the moment the words tumble out. To be honest, she knows before, but she says them anyway.
"His dad died."
She knows she shouldn't have said anything, knows that she's antagonising him, but she tells herself that she wouldn't have done it if it had been Hodgins or Wendell or Sweets or Daisy. It's Cam, and Cam knows Booth in a way that is different from the way she knows Booth, but in a way that is undeniably intimate just the same. She tells herself that this makes it perhaps not so bad as it would have been had any other member of the team been standing there.
It's an attempt to instil a sense of normalcy amidst an abnormal and unnerving situation; sometimes when you're doing something for the person you love, you're doing it for you, too. You need them to be who they are because otherwise it makes it difficult for you to remember who you are. And that kind of uncertainty caries a powerful weight.
But she still knows it's wrong.
Booth avoids being around her as much as he can after that. He want to be angry; he's earned the right to be angry, but sometimes it's difficult because she's pregnant and every time he thinks about this he's struck by mixed feelings that are utterly distracting in their intensity.
On the walk back to the SUV the silence eats at both of them. She's lost in her thoughts, he's lost in his. They don't fall into step quite as fluidly as they used to; her stride is shorter now and she breathes a little heavier, and damn it, there it is again. She's pregnant with his child, and he can't quite stay mad, and he's incredibly, entirely, irritated.
He can tell she's about to start on the whole 'talking' thing again so he says the first thing that pops into his head.
"Call me the minute you guys find anything, okay?"
There's this brief moment in which he can actually see her lose her nerve, and once she nods wordlessly, they settle back into that same silence. And it lingers right up until he drops her off at the lab.
The next time Brennan tries to broach the subject, she starts with the scientific approach, not the heart one, because it's far more difficult for her to be deterred by him when she's speaking from within her comfort zone. And she's determined not to lose her nerve. Anthropology. Buddhism. She can make this work if he gives her the chance.
But he doesn't.
"I appreciate your concern, Bones, I really do, but I am at peace with this."
"You really want to help? I got a great idea; let's say we talk about something else."
So she does. Even though she knows that this isn't the right thing. The thing that Booth would do if this had been about her. And then her phone rings and the opportunity to discuss something outside the case slips away from her.
Later, when she goes to Angela's office, it's about the case. But when Angela asks about Booth, Brennan wants to confide in her. She's never been one for discussing her feelings but when it involves Booth's well being, she's willing to ask for help.
"Booth loves you, Brennan. Not me. It doesn't matter what anybody else would do."
It's not really an answer but the words make sense, and through them Brennan finds a sense of purpose and direction; if there exists something she can give Booth that nobody else can, she will find it.
The good memories have always been there alongside the bad ones. Generally speaking, Booth prefers not to dwell on either of them. Nevertheless, there are small fragments of his past that he has shared with Brennan over the years; sometimes things remind him of his childhood and he finds himself sharing a memory before he can think to stop himself. She has this way of looking at him, and she listens intently, and he's so entranced by her he often retains little to no memory of divulging these details in the first place.
But of course, Bones remembers. She remembers the frozen pond and the makeshift microphone, and for her, he is willing to open a box he has up until this point been rather dramatically fantasizing about throwing into a canyon.
She does exactly the right thing. And all the irritation he's been harbouring just evaporates into the cool air of his apartment.
"I want peace for you, Booth," she says softly. Her fingers play with his and stroke the fabric of his shirt. It's all of him she can easily reach from her perch.
"I know, Bones. I'll get there," he promises. One hand rubs at his eyes and the other grips her fiercely. "I'll get there."
Their relationship shifts almost constantly from one day to the next, especially during times riddled with emotional stress. The day of the funeral, something shifts again. Brennan has always been good at offering quiet support, even years ago at the first funeral they attended together – when Booth's knowledge of her had been limited enough for this to come as a surprise to him. His father's funeral is no different.
She holds his hand throughout a short, painful ceremony he attends solely for the benefit of his grandfather. Afterward, they choke down coffee. Padme, Hank and Brennan maintain stilted conversation while Jared and Booth gaze unfocused into a place no one else can reach them, and once they're all free to return to their own lives, Brennan leans into Booth and his arm automatically draws her closer, and there's another tiny shift as they walk to the SUV.
"I'm proud of you."
"Proud of me?" Booth repeats. "Proud of me for what?"
"For coming today. For supporting Hank. I know you didn't want to."
"Yeah, well, it's over now, right?" He gives her a smile that doesn't quite reach his eyes. "Let's move on."
He holds her just a little tighter and she pretends she doesn't notice.
In the late afternoon, Brennan leaves the apartment; she's evasive when he asks where she's going and Booth assumes that she's grown tired of his brooding and needs some time to herself. He doesn't blame her. He'll snap back to normal – because that's what he does and he has a good life now and all sadness is temporary if one sets out to make it so – but today he can't concentrate long enough to be good company for her.
But she's not gone for long. He's just settling in to the solitude when he hears the deadbolt turn, and Booth automatically looks over his shoulder in the general direction of the front door.
"Hey," he calls back. His attention returns to the half made sandwich on his plate until he hears soft sounds of struggle emanating from the hall, and he frowns as he walks out to intercept her.
She's carrying a box. A big box. A big, heavy looking box.
"Bones, what the hell are you doing?" Booth rushes forward and takes it out of her hands, and the loss of its weight momentarily throws her off balance.
"It's not heavy, Booth," she defends as she steadies herself. "Only awkwardly sized."
"It's heavy enough. One of these days you're gonna hurt yourself."
She rolls her eyes, but she's pretty much given up on arguing with him on this subject and she focuses on shrugging off her coat instead.
"What is this, anyway?" Booth turns the box and stares at the picture.
"It's a play yard," Brennan informs him. "It will be some months before our daughter gains the muscle control and spatial awareness necessary to fully appreciate it, but when the time comes, she'll find it entertaining."
"Bones, this thing has like a thousand pieces."
She accepts this exaggeration for what it is and chooses not to correct it. "Yes, putting it together will be time consuming."
Booth decides he's too tired to ask questions and merely shrugs. "Okay. I'll just put it in the closet with the other stuff-
"No!" Brennan cuts him off forcefully before he can get more than a step down the hall; Booth freezes and she's slightly flustered by her own outburst. "I want to assemble it now."
There's an almost petulant tone to her voice and Booth is a little concerned by this situation's potential to turn into one of those (frequent) instances of late where he accidentally makes her cry.
"Look, Bones, I'm not really in the mood for this tonight," he says as diplomatically as he can.
"I understand. I just thought- it's okay. We can wait for another day."
Booth sighs dramatically at her obvious disappointment; he's going to spend the rest of the night assembling this toy. A toy his unborn daughter won't even be able to use until she's about four months old. And she's got another two months of growing to do before she even enters the world.
"Okay, let's do this."
Brennan's face lights up immediately, and he's not even remotely surprised when she volunteers to retrieve the power tools.
The living room floor offers the most space, so they systematically arrange the pieces there even though they both know Brennan won't be comfortable sitting on the ground for long. But she's all about setting this monstrosity up in the most logical manner, and besides, the two of them have pretty much turned getting her up from low places into an art form.
"Angela threw a tantrum the last time she attempted to assemble a toy for Michael," Brennan shares casually. "I was genuinely concerned for her mental stability."
"That's... depressing," Booth finally settles on a suitable adjective. "Are you punishing me then? Is that what this is?"
"If it was meant to be a punishment, my assistance would be counterproductive."
"So why are we doing this?"
"That piece doesn't go there, Booth."
"Yes it does."
"It does not; the instructions are very clear..." Brennan's voice trails off as the pieces in question snap together with a satisfying click. Booth grins smugly and she glowers. "We are doing this because putting together a child's toy was frustrating enough to distract Angela from a murder investigation; it therefore stands to reason that it will be enough to sufficiently distract you. You're thinking too much."
Booth stops fiddling with the plastic bar in his hands and gives her his full attention. "You're always telling me that it's impossible to think too much."
"Not for you," she amends. "Not today."
He smiles. "Only you would think to distract me by frustrating the hell out of me on purpose."
Brennan smiles back. "Angela says that the key to providing comfort is to give you things no one else can. I don't think this is what she meant."
"But it's effective."
Booth tries to connect the section he's been working on to one of the three sections Brennan has possessively declared hers, and he manages to pinch his fingers in one of the impossibly tiny latches. There's a great deal of colourful swearing on his end, and he scowls as the mother of his child begins to laugh.
"Well, I'm officially frustrated. Congratulations, Bones."
"You're not doing so hot yourself, you know," he points out.
The self-satisfied smile quickly falls from her face. "I'm doing better than you are."
"No you're not."
"Yes I am. I've been counting."
"And I've been watching you use all the 'A' screws in the spots you should be using the 'C' ones."
"What?" Brennan stares in disbelief at the twenty minutes of progress she's going to have to undo, and it takes everything in her not to throw the thing across the room. "This is... this... I am not having fun."
Booth laughs as she reaches for the screwdriver and launches an aggressive attack on the offending screws, but she's incredibly smart and her memory is damn near perfect; she disassembles and correctly reassembles her parts quickly, leaving Booth scrambling to get ahead once he realises she could very well take the lead.
At some point in the next ten minutes, Brennan 'accidentally' misplaces the English instructions and smugly follows the sheets written in Italian, leaving Booth to make wild guesses based on the diagrams alone. Five minutes after that, Booth nudges the second screwdriver just beyond Brennan's reach, forcing her to waste precious time shifting and wiggling her very pregnant body awkwardly across the floor in order to reclaim it.
"That was mean."
"You started it."
"I didn't lose them on purpose, Booth!"
"Then get rid of yours, too. We'll be even."
"Well there's no sense in us both operating without directions."
Booth thinks that the most surprising thing is that they make it this far before Brennan's version of therapy turns into a competition. But he is most certainly not thinking about his father, and that's probably the important part.
When he notices her shifting uncomfortably and occasionally pushing a hand into her lower back, Booth drags the small kitchen table into the living room along with a comfortable chair. Only, it then proves impossible to convince Brennan that this is a genuine attempt to make her more comfortable rather than a ploy to give himself an advantage.
"You are in closer proximity to the pieces. It's not fair."
Her competitive streak concerns him. It really does.
Eventually, Booth throws his hands in the air and retrieves a second chair for himself – shuffling parts between the table and the floor for both of them – because they've reached the point when the circular bickering is likely to carry on for hours and it's the simplest solution he can think of. After they get all the teasing and trash talking out of their systems they both fall silent, and there's another subtle shift between them. They don't take active notice, but Booth relaxes and Brennan no longer feels it's her duty to analyse his every move.
The English instructions are magically recovered from in between the couch cushions (stop looking at me like that, Booth; I don't know how they got there), and they work quickly and efficiently together. They're almost finished when Booth breaks the comfortable quiet.
"My dad's dead," he says. He's not sure why. He thinks maybe he just needs to speak the words aloud in order to adjust to their reality. Or maybe he just wants to test his own reaction to them. Or maybe it's both.
Brennan rests the teething ring in her hands on the table. "Yes."
She doesn't know what she's expected to offer in the silence that follows, so she reciprocates in the first way that enters her head.
"My mom is dead." The words hurt, even now, but she manages to get them out. "I still miss her."
Booth nods. "Our parents are our parents, right? No matter how bad they screw up."
"We will learn from their mistakes. And Angela's."
He glances at the floor and realises that there are only a few spare screws and plastic covers remaining. He snaps the circular tray he's been putting together into place and then pushes the near-complete piece over to Brennan, who laughs triumphantly when the teething ring fits into its slot (and she only has to slam it around twice).
"Piece of cake, huh?" Booth says ruefully.
Brennan misses the sarcasm. "I'm much smarter than Angela. And Hodgins."
"Right, I'm sure that's it."
She doesn't answer him. She's pouring all of her focus into the contraption covering the table; turning wheels, sliding brightly coloured blocks... ensuring every part of it functions as it should and is worthy of their child. And Booth falls in love with her for the sixth or seventh time today.
There are a great number of things he wants to thank her for, but today he settles for moving his chair beside hers and patiently waiting for her to deem their work wholly satisfactory.
"We make a very good team," Brennan announces eventually.
"Yeah," he kisses her hair, and he stops thinking. "Yeah, we do."