A/N: This is my contribution to this year's Secret Santa fic exchange as organised by Biba79. My offering is for the lovely some1tookmyname.
T, dear, I hope you had a very merry Christmas and that this isn't completely left of centre given the prompts you provided. Somewhere in here there is protective Booth, there is a tiff and there is a resolution - even if they come in little pieces instead of as part of a cohesive story. This is just a little bit of Christmas whimsy - I hope you find it fun and not flat.
Thanks also be to sunsetdreamer who helped to make this a little better and to Tadpole24 for her usual support.
Let Your Heart Be Light.
He hadn't really wanted her to go. After all, it was three days before Christmas, the roads had long since iced over and all he'd really wanted to do was curl together on his couch (or her couch, he wasn't fussy) like they'd been able to the last few nights and just enjoy their very first Christmas together.
Except her eyes had rolled at his comment about the state of the roads, she'd shrugged off his remarks about the festive season and she's calmly reminded him that this was a professional commitment she'd made long ago and that perhaps he'd do well to learn how to spend some time in his own.
(He wasn't as good at that as he'd used to be.
It seemed as though Before, back when he had a girlfriend who was forever out of town, he'd been able to wear the nights of empty apartments and TV dinners a lot better than he did now.
Now he was all too familiar with coming home to the quiet hum of dinner in the oven, a warm body on his couch and the promise of familiar, easy companionship.
It would have been a problem if it weren't quite so lovely.)
He'd thrown the door a little too roughly against the wall when he finally got in that night. His apartment had been dark and he'd skulked glumly through to flick on the lights of their very carefully decorated tree before he'd gone for any of the lamps or light switches on his way. The delicate twinkle of the fairy lights – the ones Bones had insisted on checking each bulb to find the single broken link, explaining something about series and parallel circuits all the while – buoyed him a little, filled him with a flicker of that same Christmas feeling he'd had the night they'd decorated their tree.
("Booth, no! What are you doing?"
"I'm putting the lights on."
"Like what, Bones? This is how I always do it."
"But you'll get more even coverage if you start at the bottom and wind the lights around-"
"I know how to put lights on a Christmas tree, okay?"
"Not if you're trying to do it like that!"
Except, he'd learned pretty quickly that agreeing with Bones on these matters meant conciliatory Christmas Tree sex. And that conciliatory Christmas Tree sex was good sex.)
It doesn't take him long puttering around his quiet and twinkle-lit apartment to realize that there is somewhere he'd much rather be. Abandoning plans for some form of reheated dinner, Booth finds himself back in his truck and then hovering outside a cozy DC bookstore before he knows it.
The bookshop is one that Booth has generally found just slightly too pretentious for his own personal tastes, but he knows that Bones has always liked it. It's the reason, so many months pregnant, she'd determinedly kept her book signing commitment, leaving the lab bundled up in enough layers to make him smile and worry a little, all at the same time.
("Are you sure you don't want me to take you?"
"Booth!" A sigh, "I am perfectly capable of driving a few miles to a bookstore."
"The roads are icy."
"Well then maybe you shouldn't be driving either."
"I've got my truck; that thing means business okay? I just worry about you in that pregnant shoe of a thing-"
"My car is perfectly safe! And under no stretch of the imagination does it look like a gestating shoe."
"I'm just saying, if shoes could have babies.…"
"Well they can't Booth. The notion is ridiculous."
His voice softens. "Just be safe. Please."
"Good, 'cause you got half my family in there; at the moment you're a two for one deal and I don't want anything to happen to either of you."
She leaves pretty soon after that. It's a whole lot easier than letting him see that his charm is working, even just a little bit.)
Through the window he can see that the modest bookstore is packed out and he can't help but feel extremely proud that these people are all here to see Bones.
No one really notices when he shuffles in the door, other than the odd few at the back who toss him dirty looks for letting in the bitter cold, and he finds himself stuck behind so very many people that he can barely see his partner on a raised platform up the front of the store. It very soon becomes clear that he's already missed her reading and he's momentarily disappointed – there's something about her expressive, even tone that he always finds sort of entrancing – but he reminds himself how easily a more private reading can be arranged and chooses to enjoy the question and answer session that has already begun.
They ask a lot of obvious things: where do you find inspiration (her work, obviously), how much of what she writes could actually happen (all of it, and she seems a little offended in her response) and also, what might the next book hold for Kathy and Andy (you'll have to wait and see, but you might just be surprised). It's not until the very last question, asked by a slightly-too-pleased-looking journalist that Booth finds himself surprised.
"You've made it clear in interviews before that you had no desire to have children but it would seem now that's maybe not the case," the journalist peers over her heavy frames with a false irony and waves in the general area of Brennan's midsection. "What brought you to change your mind?"
Bones' publicist, a forceful and determined woman that Booth has crossed paths with on a few slightly frightening previous occasions, starts to make worried noises in her throat and waves a hand as she steps back towards Brennan on the raised platform.
"As has been discussed, questions should pertain only to Dr Brennan's writing and private matters should be left as such."
But like so many times before, Bones does the thing that he doesn't expect.
"No, it's okay." A little furrow forms between her eyebrows as she considers something quite seriously.
And then, be it a spontaneous moment of candid honesty, hormones or just plain Christmas magic, she explains, "I suppose, when I made those remarks, I didn't fully understand the notion of family. I have been very fortunate to spend the last number of years surrounded by some people that I care for very much and in that time my attitude has changed significantly. I'm very... happy in my current circumstances and my partner and I are very excited for the birth of our daughter in the New Year."
Something sticks in Booth's throat.
Because he's always kind of known what she's said to be true and still, to hear her say it and to hear her share it with so many people warms something inside him.
She's really happy.
Around him, people start to move and he realizes that those in charge have seen their opportunity to end the session on a high note and have sent the crowd to line up for their long-promised book signing. Booth's position right at the back of the crowd, along with the moment he spent a little lost in his own head mean that by the time he gets to grab a book and join the line, he's firmly near the end. He begins to feel frustrated with the slow crawl, antsy to make it all the way up to where Bones sits, as store employees ask each customer clutching a book to write their name on a post it so it can be personally dedicated by Temperance Brennan herself.
It occurs to him that he could probably cut in line. Bones' ever-reliable publicist would probably recognize him, especially if he took advantage of the badge he had the foresight to tuck into his pocket, but he doesn't really feel like causing a scene. The bubbling anticipation and the chance to surprise her keep him bouncing on the balls of his feet in the line right until a young shop girl, armed with green post its and a pen asks him for him name.
Overtaken by the spirit of playing the part, he spells out his first name letter by letter in low tones, trying not to attract any attention from the podium before him. The girl smiles at him fondly, likely mistaking the source of his excitement and carefully affixes the little note to the inside cover of his book.
As the guy who'd been in front of him in the line (and a little too enthusiastic about meeting Bones for his liking) practically leaps off the stage, another member of staff beckons him forward. His book is laid out on the table just as Brennan ducks her head to absently refill her water glass.
He wonders of it may be a little childish, but as she turns back to glance at the little identifying piece of paper he's fit to burst with the best and the silliest kind of excitement. The Christmas magic kind. When her eyes flicker over the name her head snaps upward and finally, finally, he gets to meet her eyes.
"Booth! What are you doing here?"
He nods to the table, feigning cool, "Getting my book signed."
She's surprised as she asks, "How long have you been waiting?"
"Long enough." A shrug, "I missed you at home. I got here in time for the questions."
He lets it hang there between them for a few quiet seconds, heavier with meaning than his otherwise innocuous comment should have.
The slow spread of a smile across her face tells him that she knows.
After a moment, "I'm glad you came."
It feels like Christmas magic is supposed to feel.
As if sensing the irritability growing among the last few in the line behind Booth, Brennan dips her head back to his book.
"You already have one of these signed home," she points out, with a gentle amusement to her words.
"Well maybe I want another one; something a little personal."
She laughs lightly and sends him another soft look that warms him through to his toes. After a moment's hesitation, she flicks to the dedications page she'd chosen to leave blank when the book went to print so many months ago and writes the dedication she had longed to write in a fit of whimsy, long before there was a baby, a bed or a life shared.
With all of my love,