There is a birthday in the hamlet and you know what that means! That's right! Birthday fic! The prompt? How does Booth feel (post baby) now that he pretty much as everything he ever wanted?
Happy, Happy birthday to the wonderful, incomparable Eitoph, whose big brain, warm heart, old soul and general magicky-ness are someday going to take over not just Australia, but the world. Count on it. E, I hope your birthday is as amazing as you are.
At night, when the house is dark and still, he listens.
If asked, he would say that it comes from years of training. He would say that when he does this, he is listening for anything out of the ordinary.
That's only partially true.
Every night, when his children are in bed asleep, and his partner is upstairs getting ready for bed, Seeley Booth closes the house down for the night and listens.
He listens to the quiet that surrounds him. No more liquor store customers, no more traffic at all hours. Instead he hears crickets and rustling leaves and soft wind chimes. Sometimes he can hear the rain tapping on the windows and the roof.
He listens to the hum of the refrigerator, the click of the heater coming on or switching off. He listens to that one dripping faucet he still needs to tighten. He listens to the dishwasher come on, the water wooshing softly as it begins to work. He listens as the faucet runs upstairs, he can even vaguely hear the buzzing of the spinning toothbrush.
He listens to the noisy stillness for a while and then makes his way upstairs.
He opens his son's door and steps into the dim bedroom. He listens to the little boy snores that emit from a twelve year old on the verge of becoming a young man. He listens to the quiet bubbling of the fish tank and the soft strains of music that come from headphones shoved under a pillow. He adjusts the blankets and listens as the sheets rustle a bit when Parker shifts in response. He steps out, closes the door and listens, making sure his oldest child sleeps comfortably on.
He then goes down the hall, past the nursery where he has been forbidden to go for fear he'll wake the baby, and into the room he shares with the woman he loves.
She is asleep. Her exhaustion from being back at work while having to be up several times a night with the baby is overwhelming and there are so many days she struggles to keep her eyes open. He knows this and appreciates her even more than he ever has before. He listens to the rhythmic sound of her breathing and the soft sounds of the baby momentarily stirring, fighting her swaddle, coming through the baby monitor on the bedside table.
He brushes his teeth and gets into bed and listens as his partner scoots across the bed toward him, even in her sleep. He listens to her breathing hitch and then restart peacefully as he settles against her, his chest to her back and he listens as she falls deep into sleep again.
Before he can follow her into slumber he finds, inevitably, that he is listening to an increase of activity on the monitor. He listens as the rustling begins; as his daughter's breathing changes, as she lets out a small baby groan of protest and then goes straight to crying.
He moves to get her, but listens as his partner gently tells him "No, it's okay. I'll go. She needs to eat." He listens to her as she pushes back the covers and climbs groggily out of bed.
He listens as the door to the nursery is opened. He listens as his partner coos at their daughter. "Hello, Tiny Girl. Are you hungry?" He listens as the rocking chair creaks when it begins to move and cries dissipate into quiet. He listens to the occasional greedy smack of a hungry, nursing baby and the short, gentle laugh of a tired, adoring mother.
He listens to the contented sighs of both his girls.
Yes, every night, in the quiet of the dark, Seeley Booth listens to the sounds that make up his life.
And as he listens, he thinks.
He thinks about how he has always believed that life is made up of two parts…what is and what should be. And how, for a long time, he spent his nights hoping that the should bes would become what is.
He listens as the creaking of the rocker stops. He listens to the quiet patting of his partner's sure hand on their tiny daughter's back. He listens to the burp that eventually comes and proud whisper of "good girl" that follows it.
He listens as a floorboard moans when the new mother walks across it. He listens to the heartbeat bear start up again and he listens as the woman he loves whispers sweetly "I would like very much to hit REM sleep, please. You don't have to go all night. I will take four hours." He listens to the thumping of the bear and hears nothing else and he knows that what he is really listening to is his partner staring in wonder at their child.
He listens to the nursery door close, he listens to the footsteps of an exhausted anthropologist coming back into their bedroom. He listens as she climbs back into bed and as she sighs into the night when her head hits the pillow.
He reaches around her and pulls her to him, and they fit, just right, like a puzzle. "Thank you," he whispers.
"For what?" She asks, drowsily.
"For making what should be come true."
"I don't know what that means," she murmurs.
"That's okay. I do."
"Mmmm," is all she can offer.
He listens as she slips easily back into sleep.
He listens to his own heart beat in his ears as he falls towards slumber and he realizes that in all the dreaming he may do, none of it will ever be better than the life he has spent his night listening to.
What should be and what is are the same.
And he is grateful.