The ever after in the happily

AN: Bones belongs to others such as Fox, Kathy Reichs and Hart Hanson. This story is mine.

From conception to birth, the fairy tale of one Temperance Brennan and Seeley Booth continues. . . aw, hell, this is a love story which follows the B's through the announcement, "I'm pregnant," to the actual birth. Yes, yes, I know, others have created their own cyber-explanations of all that happened in between. Here's mine.

Spoiler alert: There is some reference to the WHERE of Baby girl Booth's birth. (Say that fast 5 times.) And the name. Mustn't forget the name.

It's nowhere near happily ever after.

She's in his arms and he's torn between shouting out the good news to the darkened neighborhood and taking her right there on the sidewalk in celebration. But the apprehension in her posture and in her voice and on her face stall whatever celebration he might make and he simply holds her. He feels her arms around him, her left hand on his chest in a mirror image of that night.

That night.

When they crossed lines and answered questions and chased away the ghosts. It had been surreal and real and unreal as well as beautiful and tender and. . . full of more questions than answers.

It's led to more nights. Attempts to answer the questions. Now with a baby they will have even more questions. But before he can sort through the newest wave, he wants to savor the joy, the rush of pure, unadulterated joy. He feels her heartbeat with his, the soft whisper of her breaths and his own heart seems to pound through them both with an enthusiastic rhythm that certainly must reach the baby in her womb and tell her that she is welcome, that she is loved.

That she is more than he could have expected.

He releases the woman in his arms and kisses her forehead and takes her hand. He squeezes it and smiles at the connection and at her. "A baby is a very, very good thing."

Her smile is an answer, and her hand squeezes back, and they continue their trek back to his apartment, back to where it started. Where the questions start again.

oOo

She's re-opened the file she's kept in her head of all the plans she had made over two years ago when she decided to have a baby.

They were good plans then and she has no reason to believe they've somehow gone vinegary like wine.

There's something different certainly—Booth is the father and the donor and more. Booth is the father and the donor and. . . . It has been something they've been defining these days, maintaining a low profile on their relationship while trying to keep a professional demeanor. Waves of sadness still hit her. The other day Cam mentioned something about Mr. Nigel-Murray, a bit of trivia of which he was fond, and suddenly she could see the life draining out of the man as he begged to stay and she caught her own breath and tried to remember a time when she hadn't felt the pain of his passing.

Booth reminds her that time will heal their wounds, but she knows that time can never erase everything.

She has been trying to be strong. She tells herself that revisiting her plans for having a baby is part of being strong.

She wants the baby.

Given all that has happened this past year, she was uncertain how Booth would take the news.

His smile reassured her as they made their way to his elevator and after he'd closed the gate and the cage began its ascent, he pulled her into his arms and kissed her.

What is ours is ours, echoes in her mind. They've made this time theirs. Private moments to define what they are now to each other. The others have their grief for Mr. Nigel-Murray and their joy for Angela's baby. They, too, feel the loss and elation about the baby, but they feel something else.

She is grateful for the privacy. Between the comments from Dr. Edison and Cam and Angela and even her father earlier when Booth was with Hannah—she tells herself, that she does not want to be the focal point of the others' speculation. It gave her a sense of being in foster care again, shuffled between families where her story was replayed like a scratched vinyl record and her privacy had been stripped from her.

She dares not replay the months when he was with Hannah, dares not revisit that night when she told Booth she wanted no regrets. She accepted her decisions, accepted Booth's. He had moved on, had wanted Hannah, had wanted marriage. She accepted his anger, accepted his ultimatum. Life, she knows, is a series of causes and effects and the aftermath of their decisions have spread out like ripples on a pond.

She has a chance to still the water, to cast a new pebble on the water and create a new effect.

But there are still remnants of the ripples still reverberating around her and she wonders.

She wonders if the baby is her consolation prize.

oOo

He manages to keep a professional demeanor around her whenever they are at the Jeffersonian or the Hoover. He is professional around Sweets and Cam and Caroline when he's with her. Angela gives him a knowing look as does Hodgins, but neither of them say anything.

It is not their secret.

He knows that soon he will have to bell the cat and tell his boss that he not only crossed the line drawn between consultants and agents, but that he also has a child on the way.

Despite the fact he knows that it will put their partnership under new scrutiny, at the very least probably force them into therapy again, he is willing to go through all that again if only it means they will not be separated.

And he's dying to tell Hacker.

It's been a while since Hacker had tried to bed Brennan, but he still feels an ember of jealousy flare up whenever he's around the man. Even pregnant with his child, when Brennan is within 10 feet of the man in his presence, the flames burn. Hacker's presence creates an irrational sense of fear that somehow this is all a dream and that he will wake only to find that his brain is scrambled and the life he's living now is someone else's.

It's happened before.

But Brennan is only coolly professional around Hacker and Hacker is only his smarmy self and that should reassure him, but there are so many questions they've yet to address that he sometimes wonders if he should just man up and ask.

But it's hard to stop the ride when it's racing down the slope, gliding along, thrilling the senses. It takes his breath away.

It's why he does not ask the questions, does not force the answers. They split time between their apartments and he doesn't ask the question that might force them apart. He feels more comfortable in her place then he has a right to and somehow being there does not invite the questions. She seems to feel at home at his place and he hasn't the heart to spoil what is pure joy.

Only in the darkness, on the rare night when they are apart, does he think about the questions.

For three days and nights he begins to wonder if it was all a dream and they will both wake and realize the pure folly of it all.

Folly is not really his word. He's been reading the anthropology journals at his apartment, the ones she brings from work to read in bed while he watches sports. He barely understands what the egghead scientists are talking about, but a phrase hits him—pure folly—and it sticks in his mind like gum on the bottom of a shoe.

Pure folly.

He feels the empty spot in his bed. The last time he let his hand linger there in some sort of romantic angst was when Hannah had abandoned him for a Washington power trip accompanying the other news hounds.

No, the angst came later.

A ring and a proposal later.

Pushing out thoughts of another woman in his bed, the same bed that he now thinks of as his bed and Bones', he pulls the sheets from the mattress and deposits them into the laundry in a mad rush to dissolve any connection between the two.

Brennan will stay.

She struggles still with this new partnership and while he puts fresh linen on the bed, a bed that's been changed a hundred times since the ill-fated relationship with She-who-must-remain-nameless, he realizes that Brennan's honesty is one thing he values. Even when the truth is awkward and hard, or squinty and gooey, he appreciates it.

She tells him one night, after intercourse, that she wants their relationship to work. The terms are such that it makes their relationship sound like a big test she is studying for, that she wants to ace, and he almost calls her on it, but then he sees her look and he melts.

Brennan will stay.

It is how she thinks. It is how she does. He cannot fault her for that, nor for pointing out that not each round of lovemaking is about the long, slow descent into all-enveloping love, but sometimes it is a primal call, a playful act, an itch to be scratched. Sometimes intercourse is intercourse.

And sometimes it is the romantic ideal played out between two people madly in love.

He finishes tucking in the sheets and making the bed which he will only tear apart tonight in one more night without her. But he's erased the stain of comparing one woman with another.

There's no comparison.

Yet as he sits and debates calling her, he knows that Hannah was, in many ways, like Brennan. Her attitude about marriage and children and relationships seems somehow familiar in retrospect. He runs his hand against the blanket and knows he is not soiling the bed with the memory. Hannah was Brennan before Baby Andy and pregnancy dreams.

He dismisses these things from his mind and tries to let the questions fade away, but they haunt him like shadows in the corner of the room.

Then he sees Brennan again—at the airport when he picks her up after her being gone three days and nights in New York lecturing at some university there—tired and pulling that damned suitcase behind her and she lights up to see him and he knows that she feels what he feels and it is enough to know that when she falls into his arms and returns his kiss that she will be with him that night and that, that is enough.

Enough.

It's taken too damned long to get here and he refuses to tarnish the glow with questions that might only shatter this thing they've been nurturing between them.

No regrets.

No questions.

No regrets.

No answers.

And he wonders if that is enough.

oOo

They take their case to Caroline who practically skewers them with her look, then looks almost gleeful as she congratulates them.

Almost gleeful.

Almost.

Booth, as usual, is the first to pick up on the conditional approval.

"This is a delicate matter," she says.

"Why?" Bones sees no obstacles. They are professionals; they will be professionals. To her, that is all that is important.

"Well, you are in a delicate condition," she replies.

Brennan offers her own reply, anthropological proof that pregnancy is not as delicate a condition as some might think, that women have been having their babies in fields and huts for centuries, but the attorney waves off her explanation dismissively.

Booth squeezes Brennan's hand and she stills her nervousness.

"Half the bureau thought the two of you were together already given how you are," Caroline says.

"How we are?"

Brennan's question goes unanswered as Caroline purses her lips and gives her a look he knows she cannot decipher.

"Caroline, we're looking for a little help here."

"You two ignored policies put in place to protect the judicial process. Keeping consultants and FBI agents in their own little boxes keeps the process of putting away the bad men pure and untainted." She raises her eyebrows daring them to argue with her. "And now you need me to save you from yourselves."

Now it is Brennan's turn to purse her lips and give Caroline a look.

He knows that Caroline is playing with them, making them squirm before she agrees to help. He knows Cam will be easier. The next steps are more uncertain: Sweets may be an exclamation point, Hacker a question mark.

He can count on everyone except the Bureau.

But Caroline has a feel for the climate. She can argue their case, if need be, be their advocate when the chips are down. She knows they've worked well together through heartache and pain; they've never failed to work the case even when other factors were at work pulling them apart.

Their record is solid and the Justice Department will have some influence on the Bureau.

Caroline has been studying them a while and finally she cracks.

"I suppose that if I don't help you two keep your jobs that I'll have to break in another FBI agent and his scientist partner."

The delivery is pure Caroline—crisp and cutting like the first day of winter—but her whole look is so warm and spring-like he almost wants to hug her.

But it is Bones who returns her words with a kind of verbal hug even though all she says is "thank you."

oOo

Her body reminds her of the life it is incubating deep within. Her breasts ache; she deals with nausea; she feels more fatigued.

Each complaint is accompanied by Booth trying to make her more comfortable. When her back aches from the baby growing and her own body shifting to accommodate her child, Booth tries to ease the pain with a massage. His hands are sure if untrained and she appreciates the effort.

She adjusts. She buys larger bras, she tweaks her diet, she goes to bed earlier.

She orders a larger lab coat to accommodate the pregnancy, one that will button together around her expanding belly. It is another concession she gives to the pregnancy.

The baby grows heavier and she feels the extra weight pull her down with the certainty of gravity.

She envies Angela's figure these days, envies the nights when she slept alone with no child to kick her awake or no Booth to add more heat to an already stifling bed. She envies Daisy's lightness of foot, her ability to bend at will without her center of gravity being shifted and distorted with each movement.

She envies Cam's high heels that click against the tiled floor with an authority in each step. She envies the ease with which her boss seems to glide between the tables in the lab, something she once did with little thought.

But she will not give up this feeling that threatens to overwhelm her at times, threatens to rob her of her breath in one of the most irrational sensations she has come to know—when the baby seemingly somersaults in her belly, swimming in her liquid cavern, kicking off her own ribs or stomach or kidneys.

These are her secret moments of pure, unadulterated joy.

And paradoxically, discomfort. Pain. Aches.

And most paradoxical of all: tenderness.

Most people do not want to hear her recitation of these byproducts of carrying a child so most have given up asking.

Angela asks; Booth asks.

Her father asks, then answers with a list of complaints her mother had as she carried her. Somersaults. Kicking. Murmuring.

She tries to tell him that a fetus cannot murmur in the womb, but he ignores her and plunges on with his story. These flights of whimsy in her father are accompanied by a tear at the corner of his eye and she reaches out and touches him on the arm to show him that she understands.

oOo

He charts the pregnancy changes in her as she steps from the shower in the morning or falls into bed with him at night. He charts the sensitivity to smells that make the woman, who uses all her senses to assess a crime scene, even more sensitive. It is the first time he's known her to be nauseous from the smell of decomposition. He remembers the tenderness of her breasts as his hands begin to caress her. He knows just how wickedly wild her libido becomes in the second trimester.

They talk about the baby, of names and of possibilities. They split time between their apartments although it is a compromise that neither much likes.

What is important is that they are together.

He watches as her body changes knowing he is, in part, responsible. Parker, too, notes the changes, asking her in hushed tones when he is sure his father is not in earshot. At eleven, he understands too much about pregnancy and not enough and somehow Booth would like to keep it that way.

They are an odd family on his weekends. Bones takes her place with the Booth boys and participates as best she can with the growing pregnancy. Parker accepts her presence—or lack of presence when work calls or her pregnancy slows her down. He seems genuinely curious about the physical changes and between the two of them—his guarded explanations and Brennan's unguarded ones—Parker seems to accept the changes in her body just as he seems to be accepting the changes in their relationship.

They are an odd family.

One afternoon they are in the park and he and Parker are tossing a baseball around and Bones is sitting under a tree, her laptop perched on her lap, her arms stretched to reach the keyboard past her growing belly. Parker says they should be playing basketball because "Bones seems to have a basketball for a stomach."

It's an odd thing for his son to say and so true and so appropriate, that in his joy at being with two of his favorite people, he breaks out in a laugh that does not stop until tears come to his eyes and his son is rolling on the ground laughing, too.

Brennan looks on as if they have both gone mad.

He tells her later and with her hands positioned at the sides of her belly, she looks like she is holding the ball ready to pass it off and he smiles at the memory in the park.

Instead of explaining further, he dances around his living room, a very pregnant and a very surprised Brennan in his arms—he dances as best as he can given the size of her belly—and they both seem to dissolve into laughter and smiles as he tells her that she is growing their team in her womb]

]'.

They are a very odd family, indeed.

oOo

She knows from years of working with Booth, of interviewing suspects, of interacting with the people in the lab, that one truth about human communication is this: people do not always say what they mean. She knew that years ago when her parents said that they would be back and it took them 16 years to return—one in a plastic box from limbo, another in a priest's collar and handcuffs.

Booth has spent the last few weeks moving on, moving forward. With her. He has spent almost as much time with her as he had with Hannah. If she factors in the press trips, she knows they have been together more as a couple and for some irrational reason it gives her comfort.

She blames it on the hormones.

The hormones pull her in one direction while her rational self pulls in another and she finds that her words and her actions are strangely uncoordinated. While they've both agreed to leave the past in the past, she sometimes finds the odd moment drawing out waves of sadness that she can only associate with the past. With Hannah. With mistakes. With regrets.

Then the waves recede and she rights her emotions and wonders why, when she is carrying Booth's progeny, that the thought of the journalist invades her thoughts.

Booth isn't always around when the feelings wash over her, so there is no need to lie to him. There is no need to say anything, so she does not. The past cannot be changed, only used to inform the present and the future, so she does not dwell on the irrational feelings.

But they come in waves—sometimes gentle washings, sometimes giant tsunamis—and she rides them like she does everything that comes at her during this pregnancy.

During this relationship.

She knows that her words to describe something to Booth—some feeling about their relationship, some nuance of which she is uncertain, some subtlety of which she knows to be true—she knows that the language she uses sometimes makes him uncomfortable. Despite the hormones assaulting her, she reminds him that she is not going anywhere but to his place or hers and only if it is where he is going.

His smile reassures her as she plunges into the waves and tries to ride them out although sometimes she thinks she is only sinking into the sand below and the waters are merely laughing at her.

They are playing with her when she is sitting at his apartment crying, the tears coursing down her face in rivulets of sadness, and she tries to step outside of herself and understand just why she is so moved by an old photograph that Booth has picked up at an antique store. The image frozen in time—a family of four stiff and unsmiling in their Sunday finery—a woman holds a baby in arms while the man has one hand on the shoulder of a boy. Booth sees something in the four, something that made him empty his wallet the other day for the photograph. The woman has high cheekbones and light eyes while the man is broad-shouldered and solid. The baby is a blob, a blur captured in silver nitrate, while the boy, tall and willowy, stands just as still as his parents.

Tears replace understanding and several minutes pass before she can stop crying. She knows that Booth sees something of herself in the woman, something of Parker in the boy. Their baby, as yet unborn, is still something of a mystery. She knows the image of the baby is blurred because of the long exposure times; the baby moved while the shutter was open. Like the baby she carries, it, too, seemed to be contrary—moving when everyone around it wanted only stillness.

She wonders if she can do this, if she can be mother and lover and friend and romantic partner and life partner. . . .

The tsunami washes over her and threatens to drown her in doubt, but she holds firmly onto the photo as proof of something.

The image, dated by the clothing and the formal poses, contains something more than the reflected light of people long since dead.

They are Booth's possibilities wrapped in an eventuality and forever possessing hope.

The photo is Booth's dream.

Yet as her own tears dot the photo, she, too, sees something in the image staring back at her.

Only in this pregnancy can she say that tears seem to fall unbidden with each movement of the clock hand, with each passage from one day to the next. She remains prisoner to the irrationality of emotions fueled by hormones.

And to Booth's dream.

Because, in her heart of hearts, in the smallest corner of her great mind, she, too, finds something compelling in the dream and in the image.

The dream gives her firm ground and firm reality rather than what her rational mind insists to be shifting sands.

And calm slowly returns.

And finally, despite the harshness of their expressions, despite their poses forced on them by the limits of photography of the time, the family she holds in her hands makes her smile.

It may just be the hormones.

oOo

He knows the many facets of Temperance Brennan.

Of course, there is the anthropologist, the professor, the scientist. There is the forensic expert, the genius, the author. Daughter. Sister. Friend.

And woman.

This last facet he knows too well.

Each face is accompanied by more images like mirrors facing each other that generate multiplied images toward infinity.

Yet, he has met all of those facets.

Or, at least he thinks he has.

The screaming woman beside him is not the Temperance Brennan he's known. This Temperance Brennan is screaming at him, is in the throes of contractions, is about to reveal another facet of herself to him and all he can seem to do is drive like a banshee toward a hospital that seems to be getting further away.

Each contraction seems to be a stab wound to his own heart and he is desperate to find someplace, anyplace that will relieve both their pains.

Or should he say he needs a place for the three of them?

He can only go so fast in the SUV. What he needs is a time machine, one that will take him to a simpler time, one in which Bones is lying in his arms, exhausted and satisfied from a round of lovemaking and he is holding her as a prize. Or the Bones who engineered, somehow, room for him in her dresser and closet, who provided him space well before he asked for it as if she knew he would someday give up his anger for a chance at happiness. Or the Bones who uses logic and ivory tower wisdom to craft her decisions. Or the Bones who. . . .

The contraction draws her up into herself and she seems to rock in pain in the seat next to him and his thoughts, conditioned by years in the field, founded upon Ranger's training, honed by a sniper's eye. . . .

And the contractions and the screams pull him back to a reality that seems to be coming closer and closer even though the hospital seems just as far away as it was when they started and there is no time and there is no way he can get there in time and he is reminded of the time when he went AWOL just to see a glimpse. . . .

The scream of pain cuts through him and he listens.

This is it.

It is time.

Between contractions he pulls into this fancy schmancy place and begsordersyells for help. The whateverthehellheis gives them a place out back away from the pristineness (yes, it's a word, Bones) toward something more primitive. (A barn, Booth.) A stable.

The good Catholic boy in him who has seen 40 Christmases and knows the Christmas pageant of His birth cannot remember why this is so familiar (I wasn't there for Parker's birth, Bones) and so unfamiliar. (Tell me what to do, Bones.) He gets her comfortable (Us, Booth), them comfortable and kneels between her legs.

There is some adjusting, some underwear removed and some tablecloths and writhing and kicking (stop kicking me, Bones) and screams (when she stops, I'll stop, Booth) and he sees the head and he tries to tell the genius what to do (I've never done this before, Booth) and between them (it's working so far, Bones) and the good graces of nature (it's the birth process, Booth, not a miracle) and within minutes of their arrival at this way station in their lives, someone else has arrived.

One plus one equals three.

(It's not logical, Booth.)

(It's our logic, Bones.)

Two becomes three.

(Just go with it, Bones.)

They are family.

(We are a family, Booth.)

(That's what I said, Bones.)

Family.

oOo

Braxton-Hicks contractions have come and gone all month and she has grown used to the small assaults on her body from the fetus within. Hodgins says it is a dress rehearsal for the real thing as she leans into the solidness of the examination table and allows this wave of pain to wash over her.

His cell phone is out and his finger is poised over the call button, but she waves him off and straightens.

(I don't want my child born in the lab, Bones.)

(What does it matter where the child is born, Booth?)

(So why should it matter if I want my child born in a hospital, Bones?)

(Do you know how many germs are in a hospital, Booth?)

It is a familiar dance.

One minute she is examining the scapula on the table and the next, a calcaneus is jammed into her own kidneys and a contraction jolts through her.

Booth wants her close to him these days. He hovers (he's like a helicopter partner, Sweetie. Jack was the same way) and she wonders when she lost her ability to dress herself (here, let me get that for you, Bones) and when she lost the ability to feed herself (this is better for you, Bones.)

It doesn't matter. And yet it does.

Gravity and the baby and the demands of both pull at her and slow her down and she wonders when she'll be able to answer one of the emails from a colleague with an affirmative. She wants her old life and yet, she finds something almost joyous in waking up beside Booth and feeling the baby kicking at her (she just wants to remind you that she's there, Bones) and a hundred other things (I know it's just hyperbole, Booth) that holds her in place, this place.

This life.

She understands all-too-well the nature of compromise and yet, they don't seem to formally acknowledge each new step like a milestone, but simply ease into a new phase because the other has stepped to the side or another avenue opens.

They visit a hospital because Booth wants this, starched white linens and staph infections and bodily fluids still evident under her "magic wand" (Jeez, Bones, did you have to do that in front of all those people?) and she wants a different method, a more natural approach. But that question of the choice of where the baby will be born is moot as she and Booth barrel down the road moments after a prison riot, moments after her contractions are no longer dress rehearsals but the real thing, moments after her. . . arrrggghhhh. . . the contraction roars through her and she grips the door handle until her knuckles almost glow white. The question of where is no longer her decision or Booth's, but the baby's who seems determined to split her in two.

She is aware and unaware in the shocks and aftershocks of the contractions that come closer and closer together. Booth leads her, carries her to a barn where, on tablecloths and hay she reclines, the contractions migrate from her lower back to the front of her abdomen and she feels them rippling and exploding. Unlike the Braxton-Hicks contractions, times between the contractions grows shorter and their strength increases. She recites the various phases to Booth who is trying to calm her (Stop kicking me in the head, Bones) and trying to coach her and between them they are somehow doing this and the baby's head is crowning and she feels the pain ripple through her (She's coming, Bones, she's coming) and nothing seems to be how it should be and it is perfect at the same time and the child (She's ours, Bones) is coming in this rude place where horses are kept and she things of the Mighty Hut and how it, too, is everything they need and nothing like what they thought they needed and the baby is pushing out (I see her shoulders, Bones) and the pain tears at her (You're doing great, Bones, you're doing fine) and she realizes that this man between her knees is the only man she would want to do this with and the baby finally slips out (Whoa, Bones, she's here, she's here) and he lays her in her arms covered with mucus and blood and amniotic fluid and Booth can't let go of her and them.

Exhausted, grateful the pain has stopped, grateful the baby is well and in her arms, she looks down on her. Her eyelids, heavy and tight, flutter open and she looks down on this tiny bi-pedal primate, this tiny human, and she cannot help but smile.

"We did it, Bones. You did it."

Booth's words run together and she cannot think of anything but this child in her arms. Her child. Her child with Booth.

Eyes, bluish gray and watery will more than likely darken over the next few days if not weeks. She knows the genetic possibilities, she knows this child will have Booth's eye color. She sees bits of herself in this tiny child as well as little Christine circles her finger with one tiny fist. She knows the baby can barely see her, barely understands their connection. Right now waves of sensory details merge and muddle their way through her tiny hippocampus and the first neurons fire staticky images and sounds and sensations that are blurry and unformed. It will take several days and weeks for this sensory banquet to begin to make sense to this tiny, perfect being.

Right now the science doesn't matter.

The baby lies warm and heavy in her arms and tears form in her eyes as she stares down at the miniature person there and she looks up at Booth and there's only one emotion she feels, only one word that describes this all.

Love.