It wasn't that he had done something that was utterly wrong. It was actually what he hadn't done what had brought her most anguish. It had hurt. It had hurt seeing her father's eyes water as he acknowledged her that she didn't trust him. That even after working to gain back her trust, he had gotten none. It was just that she couldn't stop feeling like he would leave her.
And tonight, after many apologies, he was left standing there for a couple of minutes thinking that this had been his last chance and he had blown it; thinking that perhaps it was best to do what was after all expected of Max Keenan and go. Go and not come back. But he wouldn't do that. No, not anymore. He loved his daughter. He loved his granddaughter. Being with them was important and he'd accept any terms he was given. And at the end of that night, one thing had been clear: his daughter didn't hate him. She loved him. She loved him deeply. She wanted them to be a family. She just wanted her family to be safe. She wanted to feel safe within her family.
Brennan couldn't lie to herself or say that she didn't see the way her daughter enjoyed her grandfather's company, or the fact that Christine seemed to feel quite safe in Max's arms. What did pained her was the knowledge that she had once felt the same way but no longer could. He had once been her solace, her refuge. He had been the man she looked up to for anything, the one who picked her up and dust her off when she was feeling gloomy. He'd always known how to make her feel better.
She'd been a clumsy child, even in all her cleverness, and he had been most patient with her. She had loved to sit on his lap and read about anything. She'd always been full of questions, always nose deep in books about dinosaurs, and ancient cultures, mummies and encyclopaedias. She liked knowing the why and how of everything. She had even taken a linking for reading the newspaper. She had enjoyed working on its crossword puzzles.
Max had been her hero - he man who had shown her what the right amounts of water and sunlight were for a bean plant to grow best; he had been the one to unearth the mysteries behind rainbows and lighting for her. He'd hold her at night when she'd had bad dreams and sang to her until she fell back to sleep. There had been no one she had trusted more than her father.
She had been quiet, introverted. She had preferred keeping to herself. She had maintained her friendship with three girls all throughout school because she had known them since kindergarten. But they too had faded away once her world had shattered. She had been too shy to speak to anyone. She wasn't special in any way that seemed appealing to most children. But she was special to her dad. And he hadn't grown tired of repeating it until she believed it herself. Her father had been the one to show her that she had talent. He had nurtured her natural curiosity and challenged her to go beyond her own expectations. To shoot for the moon. To never settle for second best. He had trained her scientific mind. He had open her eyes, widened her horizon. And she couldn't just forget any of that.
It just added to the reasons why this hurt so much.
The afternoon before last had been her worse nightmare. The fear of losing the one person in her life that she loved more than anything and anyone. Her daughter. It wasn't that she feared her father not taking care of her daughter properly, she knew that he would. She was afraid of losing her daughter, of losing him again, of what she herself would feel if he crushed Christine's heart by leaving, the way he'd done once and would mostly likely do again with her own. Because after becoming a mother herself it didn't fit in her mind. There was no room to be okay with her parents leaving. She couldn't understand how he had been able to walk away from her. If he loved her the way he professed, if that love compared to the one she felt for her own daughter, it just didn't make sense. She wished she didn't feel this way. She wished that she could just let go of all she was feeling. But she couldn't. The consequences of his disappearance could not be obliterated. Foster homes, group homes, emptiness, detachment, they had happened but were nothing, nothing compared to what she had lost, to who she had lost.
The afternoon before last, she had remembered that day very clearly when she had called and called and her father had not picked up. She had felt anguish. The same anguish that she had felt that night when she had gone to bed and her parents had yet to come home. She might have been going on fifteen when it had happened but she was still a child. She had lived too deep in her family bubble because she'd felt most comfortable and safe that way. And that's why her world had crushed around her. After that day, there had not been more dad to guide her through anything, to explain her physics homework when Mrs Pinksy had gone on maternity leave and the sub had done a horrible job explaining her lessons. There had not been any more Sunday afternoons watching old films with him nor family picnics once spring arrived. There was also no mum to share secrets with, to talk about boys with or to listen to records with. There was no one to force her to eat more for breakfast, or to scold her for forgetting to close the garage door or not watering the daisies in her front yard.
She couldn't shake the feelings that remembering brought. How then she had had no one left to trust. Because the one other person who could have provided comfort, the only other person who she could trust had walked away in fear of not living up to her parents. And he too had left her behind. She had felt alone. Not worthy of love or affection. Because these foster parents who took her in, some nice and some not, they could never be her parents. How could she let someone else fill their place? How could these people love her if her own parents had left her? She had questioned herself plenty of times wondering what exactly could had driven them away. And she had come up empty-handed.
Anger and sadness had overflowed her entire being this afternoon once more because she'd remembered how much of a fool she had been. Her life, her family, had been threaded around a web of lies. Once she'd found the truth about it all 15 years later, she could not forgive herself for having made excuses for them. Her deepest fear had been confirmed. Her parents hadn't just disappeared. She'd been abandoned. Her heart had crushed all over.
Now hours later, she saw them together and smiled. He could see that Max loved her daughter. Max loved her. She wanted her father to know her daughter more; she wanted her father to be her father too. She wanted to trust him. She wanted to be able to look at him without insecurity bathing over her.
She sighed heavily deep in thought and Booth raised an eyebrow at her.
She shook her head and he purposely closed the space between them and kissed the top of her hair. Let's take a walk, he'd suggested. She'd shaken her head again.
It wasn't that easy. She was calmer now. But she wouldn't step away from her house again. Not tonight.
He prodded her some more and she'd reluctantly stepped into the backyard. Booth decided to let Max put the baby to bed.
"I'm sorry I pushed you into this," he told her.
She knew she didn't mean right now. She meant her father over all. "I just need …" she tried to muster the right words, but she was still unsure of what exactly it was she needed.
"Perhaps we can have him over more often. Have a weekly grandfather day, or something," Booth's voice was doubtful. While at first he'd believed this would be a good solution as he knew from his own experience that grandparents could be great for their grandchildren, he hadn't stopped to consider all how Max would affect Brennan.
Nevertheless, she had leaned into him on the hammock and replied perhaps.
He took her hand in his and smiled.
"I love my father, Booth. I want him to be part of our family. I really want him to," her voice was strong and honest.
"I know, and he knows too," he assured her.
Brennan rested her head against him for a second, enjoying this minute of peace and quiet.
"You want to go check on them?" Booth offered.
"Yes," trust would come, she hoped, in due time.