For Our Family

Episode tag for 7x13 "The Past in the Present"

Almost everything I've put into this was practically blown completely out of the realm of possibility when the EW and TVLine interviews with HH came out. This is what the muse demanded, whether it was likely or not. Just roll with it. Okay? Good.

I can't stomach to sit on the steps of the church—where we had just baptized our baby girl and from where I just watched the love of my life drive away from me with our daughter—any longer. I hail a cab to go home. I'll deal with getting my car—her gift to me for our one year anniversary—towed later.

I'm briefly occupied as I put Christine's empty baby carrier in the car, get in, and tell the cabbie my address.

As soon as we are on our way, my mind starts back up. Racing. Thoughts zinging a million miles an hour through my head. I briefly wonder if this is how Bones feels all the time. She's always thinking. Always on the go, with something on her mind.

My mind is whirling through my thoughts, and it's making me dizzy.

I just feel like I want to vomit.

I can't believe she left.

And Max.

I want so bad to hurt Max for doing this to me.

This wasn't the plan.

It's the way it had to go, I keep hearing repeatedly in my mind.

The cabbie looks up at me through the rearview mirror as if I'm crazy for talking to myself when he hears me saying, "I should be with them," more than once.

But I should.

That was the plan. I told her on the way to the church that we should just leave. I told her, I'd thought about it and already had a few bags packed in the back seat of the car. She agreed that it was probably a good idea.

We were supposed to do this together. If I'm not there, I cannot protect them.

"Damn it, Max," I mutter under my breath as a lean my head back into the hard headrest of the backseat, closing my eyes against the tears threatening to break through.

Not here. Just not now.

"You okay back there?" The worried cabbie asks me.

"No." The truth coming out of my mouth shocks me. "This isn't therapy. Just do your job and drive there, pal," and I know I was short and harsh with the poor guy, but I just can't bring myself to care.

I should be with my family.

I know how to be a fugitive; a lot better than you.

Leave it to Max… as if he needs this for himself, either. Max has walked the legal tightrope since coming back into Bones' life. What kills me is that I know it's true. He is the better one to go on the run with her and keep them hidden. Look how long he lived his life on the run. And now, here he is again. On the run with them. Helping them to live the life that had once kept him from her for eighteen years.

But there isn't anything I wouldn't do for them. I've tampered with evidence for her. I've threatened a gang leader for her. I've killed for her, and I would do it all again. Hell, I've taken a bullet for her; essentially died. For her.

I'd go on the run for them, too. I would. I don't care if it would make me an accomplice. I don't care about my job or anything that it might cost me to keep my family. At this moment, what do I have left to lose?

I was ready to go with them. I told her that when we left the church that we should hit the road. I still can't believe she agreed with me, though now… I realize she did it so that she didn't raise suspicion of their plans.

Can't Max see that I could have done this? I really cannot believe I let him walk away back there.

I need to be with them. Without them, I have nothing.

"We're here. Nine forty-one Cathedral Avenue Northwest," the driver cuts into my thoughts. "That'll be seventeen ninety-four."

I throw a twenty at him. "Keep the change." I grab my jacket and the baby seat and make my way to the front door.

Halfway up the sidewalk, I can't make my feet take another step towards our home. Our house. Ours. That we share. Home sweet home. I can't go in there. Not alone.

I'm mad at her, too, I realize. How can she do this to me? To us? To our family?

I love you, Booth. I don't want you to think that Christine is the only reason we're together.

Oh, God. I drop to my knees as they give out on me. I bring my hands up to fist my short hair. I tug at it to feel even a fraction of physical pain to counteract how much my soul is aching.

And that kiss. Those sweet lips, soft and tender against mine before her forehead met mine for a brief lingering moment.

She was telling me goodbye.

Goodbye. I love you, Booth, it said. Why didn't I listen? I should have seen this. If not from her, at least from Max. I knew better than to think that he'd drop it and leave it alone for us to handle. I really did.

"God damn it!"

My tears are falling now and there's nothing I can do to stop them as I continue to stare at our family's house that I am about to walk into, alone.

"You gonna be okay, Cher?" I hear after quite some time later.

I discreetly wipe my eyes before turning my head to look up at Caroline. I must not have heard her drive up in her tiny car.

"What are you doing here, Caroline?" I ask, staring at the baby carrier near my foot, as I keep my place, seated on the sidewalk.

"Max came to see me. Said you'd need somebody that had already been taken off the case. Said he'd considered calling Freud Junior, but he figured it'd need to be somebody that you wouldn't squash like a tiny old bug. I don't squash easily, Booth."

"Thanks, Caroline," I pinch the bridge of my nose, "but you really didn't need to dri—"

"Do you need help up or you planning to spend the night out here?" She completely brushes me off.

"I think I can manage. You've been taken off the case, too?" I ask, after I process everything she'd said. I stiffly stand up, and realize just how much energy has been expended by my grief.

"Yeah, apparently Doctor Brennan paid me off to foul up the address on the search warrant."

"More evidence against Bones? Will this ever stop? I—Jesus… Any idea when they'll show up here with the arrest warrant?"

"No clue. Soon would be my best guess. The evidence against her is piled way too high to put off issuing a warrant any longer than they already have out of respect for the good doctor."

"Great. I just—I can't believe all of this. When are we going to wake up from this fucking nightmare?" I sigh, reaching down to pick up the baby carrier when Caroline swats my hand away.

"You let me get that. You just go hurry up and unlock that door to this beautiful house of yours. You may be keen to stay out here and get eaten up by mosquitoes, Cher, but I've got sensitive skin, and I'm going inside."

I unlock the door and step inside. Into the home that we'd both been prepared to leave for however long it took to get everything straightened out. That had been the plan.

I head over to the security system that I installed myself to—it's already disarmed. Strange. I thought Bones set it when we left, but maybe she thought that I did. It's happened before.

I drop the keys on the old sewer grate table that is next to my old blue couch in our living room.

Caroline sits down on the chair. I have no idea where she put Christine's carrier, but it doesn't matter, because I'd rather not see it for a while anyway. It's bad enough just being here without them.

"I know you don't want to hear this, but I think they did the right thing," she's brave enough to tell me.

Normally, this is why I love Caroline. Aside from Bones, she's one of the only people I can't intimidate, but right now, it makes me hate her, too.

"You're right; I don't," I spit out at her before I could check myself.

And with that, comes the immediate guilt. It's like telling your mother that you hate her. It doesn't sit well. Caroline has been a motherly type figure to me since I've known her.

She's always had a soft spot for me, and Bones as well after she'd gotten to know her. She's supported us both through so much over the years. She was actually one of the first ones to see through our new relationship before we told anyone and she was one of the first to know that Bones was pregnant. Again, because she somehow just knew. She's been pulling for us to work out since that very first case. She just knew, just as I did.

And for all her grandiosity and witty retorts, she's a fantastic friend to have on your side.

I fall into a sitting positive on my blue couch, throw my head back against the cushion and run my hands over my face. I feel the seat next to me dip under her weight.

"We were supposed to run together." I finally speak in a voice that sounds nothing like mine. It's weak and hoarse, broken. "I told Bones on the way to the church that I had already packed our bags in the back of my car and that we should just leave straight from there. She agreed. I was going to go with them, protect them. We are supposed to face this together. I went to get the car and—"

"I know. Max told me." She paused for a second, "and he also gave me something to give to you… from her. You should read it. I'm sure that it explains everything she was thinking. My guess is that you're still in this together no matter how it looks now. Cher, that woman did the one thing that she's always been afraid of people doing to her. She left you. That hurts, and what's worse is that she did it for mostly the same reasons her parents used when they left her and her brother with no one to fend for them. She did it to protect her family. The cruel parallels must be eating her alive. I don't think that she would have done this if she saw any other logical way out of this situation. Read the letter."

She hands me the envelope.

I grip it hard between my two shaking hands. I glare daggers at it, wishing the paper to just tear or spontaneously burst into flames. I want to rip it up, tear it into shreds.

But I can't.

Not if it gives the slightest hint as to what she was thinking or what her intentions for our future might be.

Our future? Do we still have one? Will this ever end? Can I forgive her for this? Will they ever be safe enough to return? Even if it is safe, what about the fact that she is evading arrest? Even if we find evidence that she was framed, the fact is that she is running from the FBI. The legal consequences of that alone is unthinkable to me. And even if none of that was something to fear, what about the fact that her credibility is probably shot to hell? If we somehow make it through this, how will her evading arrest affect her career or her belief in the institution of truth and justice that she so strongly believes in? If all the facts are false and wrong, her whole foundation of truth and evidence has probably been shaken.

"You know that no matter what reasons her and Max came up with, the FBI is still going to think that I played a part in her getting away and if they use that reason to lock me up, then I'm about as good as a sitting duck as she would have been in the system."

"Maybe that's true. I'll do what I can to defend you if that happens. And that letter may come in handy in that defense. Find one of your girl's gloves before you open that thing and try not to contaminate it. Just read it before they get here with that arrest warrant. If they ask you where she is, willingly hand over the letter. As far as we're concerned, you have nothing to hide. You didn't help her. You don't know where she's at or where she's going. You don't know when she'll get back. All you know is that she is gone."

A few seconds of silence pass by before she asks, "Are you hungry? What do you have to cook around here? Please, tell me that it isn't all tofu and soy. I can't imagine her making you eat that froufrou crap. A man like you needs his protein." She slaps my knee and starts to head toward the kitchen.

I shake my head to clear it. I could eat. I may throw it right back up, but I need to eat. My energy is already drained, and I need to keep it up as best I can to fight whatever battle needs fought here.

"There's… food in there. Bones, she cooks… cooked? There's meat, too. Yeah…"

"You're a big help," she gives me a slight scowl. "Pull it together; read the letter. I'll go cook. I hope you at least have a decently stocked spice rack."

She disappears into the kitchen and I can hear her going through the refrigerator and cabinets taking stock to see what we have so that she can make a meal. Caroline always goes above and beyond. I don't know what we'd do without her.

I glace at my rarely used first name scrawled in her beautiful writing on the front of the envelope. Only in moments of our intimacy has she ever used my given name. I can already see this is her effort to give this letter an heir of intimacy.

I want to know what Bones was thinking. So badly, I want to know. All I have to do is open the letter and read. Caroline is right that this could help to keep me in the clear if Bones has written anything to help make my case that I didn't have any knowledge of her evasion of the arrest warrant.

I can tell just from the small envelope that she used the stationery that I'd bought and had personalized just for her most recent birthday—light blue paper with the barely visible dolphins watermarked into the paper, and matching envelopes with our home address printed in the return address lines.

Bones has gloves stashed just about everywhere around the house, and it doesn't take me long to find a pair, and as I put them on, I'm reminded just how much I hate these things.

I pick the letter back up and hesitate as I start to slide my letter opener through the paper flap.

Deep breath.

In one quick smooth motion, the envelope is sliced open. Carefully, I take out the sheet of paper, unfold it, and slide it into a clear plastic bag. I seal the bag, and then sit down in my chair to read.


I don't know what's worse. The thought that I'll probably never forgive myself for doing this to you or the thought that you'll never forgive me. But know this, just in case I didn't find the opportunity or courage to tell you before I left, that I love you, Booth. I love you so much and I love our daughter. I know that I don't say it very much and definitely not enough to accurately show the magnitude of my feelings for you. I'm not sure that I've ever made this clear to you, but I feel very inclined to tell you now, just in case there was ever any doubt, I'm not with you just because of Christine. You told me that you love the way I am, and hearing that means so much to me, especially after everything I've been through and been told about my state of emotions and how strange or cold I am, for a good portion of my life. I love you for who you are, too. When I think about every little Boothy thing that makes you the quirky human being you are, it makes it feel like there are moths flying around in my abdomen. For a long time, even before Christine, before Hannah, before Maluku and Afghanistan, and Sweet's book and comma dreams, I've loved you. I've loved you so much that it scared me that I'd invested so much of my happiness and wellbeing in another person. This past year has been so amazing for me. To love and be loved. It's everything to me. I would never jeopardize that if I didn't feel that I absolutely had to. I'm so sorry, Booth.

I'm sorry to have tainted what was supposed to be a happy day in our daughter's life, but I know how much religion means to you and how greatly important it is that Christine gets baptized. And even though it means nothing to me personally, the fact that it means so much to you makes it important to me, too. I wanted you to have that moment and that memory of our little family. And I'm glad that I can give that to you before I leave. My hope is that you use the memory of that event as your motivation to get us back. We will have more moments like that, Booth.

I'm sorry that there wasn't a better option. I did consider leaving Christine with you. I had a difficult time making the decision to take her. I know how much you missed of Parker's childhood and I really didn't want you to ever have to be subjected to that with our daughter as well. But at the same time, I could not leave her behind. Not after I've had the same thing happen to me. I know what that's like. I know what you are going through right now, Booth, and I never want our daughter to experience that either, whether she's old enough to realize the emotional ramifications of it or not. I could not leave her. I'm sorry, but I'm already compromising enough of my personal morals fleeing the warrant as it is. Rationally, this is the only way that I could see fit to protect our daughter, your career, and myself. My father will be helping me. Rest assured that he knows what he is doing and will keep us safe. You know exactly what he is capable of in the event that our lives are in any way threatened. Please trust that when this is over, we will be together again. Over the years, I've learned that I can believe in you and depend on you to get us through things. Hodgins once called this faith. I have full faith in you, that you will do what is needed to bring us home.

I know you've been thinking about running and going off the map, too. I know that even though you haven't mentioned it to me yet, that you've been thinking about it, too, and you might possibly bring it up before I do leave. I could never let you leave and jeopardize your career, Booth. Also, think about Parker. You need to stay to protect everything that is ours and catch this son of a bitch. If situations were reversed and you were the one being framed, I would hope that you'd take the same opportunity to protect yourself and our daughter. I would understand if it was you in my position, leaving with Christine, and I hope that you understand why I've done this. I'm doing this for our family.

I love you, Booth. Please take care of yourself and trust that this was the right decision. Please forgive me. I'll kiss Christine every night for you. I'll even sing her your silly teddy bear song. We'll miss you.

Love, Bones XOXO (Angela once told me that stood for hugs and kisses. I fail to see the representative resemblance.)

I lay the letter on my leg and run my hand through my hair.

Of course, I forgive you, Bones.

She's right that I'd do the same thing. There isn't anything I wouldn't do to protect my family and in a way, I think that the only circumstance that I would truly never be able to forgive her for is if she hadn't done everything in her power to protect what is ours.

Reading her letter, I've found a new respect for her decision to run with our daughter and also and thicker bond of trust in this woman than I've ever felt for anyone else in my entire life. Everything that makes her who she is, everything that I love about her, spurred her decision to run without telling me or taking me with her. My love for her continues to grow, even through this, and for the first time since this has started, I start to believe the words that I'd said to her earlier today.

It's going to be okay.

The doorbell rings.

"You done with that letter yet, Cher? That's probably Flynn with the arrest warrant," I hear from the kitchen.

"Yeah, I'm done." I take out my phone and snap a few pictures of the front and back of the paper so that I can see her writing and read it again later since I know that I have to give up the letter. "Give me a second, and I'll get the door."

I stand from my chair and walk to the door, taking my time.

"Flynn," I nod my head, welcoming him into the foyer.

"I have the arrest warrant, Agent Booth. I'm sorry," he says to me with too much sympathy. I've lost my appetite completely now and I might actually puke.

"Bones isn't here."

I hold the letter in the bag up and extend it out for Flynn to take from me.

"Here's the envelope, too. I'd already touched it. Caroline and Max, too."

He takes the letter and skims the content. It's killing me that in order to protect what's ours, that something so private and so personal has to be given up for others to read and analyze. "So, I take it that she won't be back? She's a fugitive."

"She won't be back as long as there's a warrant out for her arrest. By the way, she mentions her father in the letter as helping her. I'm sure you remember the name Max Keenan and the details surrounding the case of one of the most notorious men on the FBI's most wanted list from several years back. He'd still be on the run if he hadn't let me catch him so that he could be in his daughter's life. I doubt you'll find them." There's a hint of smugness in my tone. I can't help it.

"I remember, Agent Booth. But see, the difference now though, is that he's trying to hide a world-renowned forensic anthropologist who's had the fantastic luck of also being an accomplished and famous bestselling author who is due to have a movie out soon. She's a celebrity, Agent Booth. It will be difficult for them to hide anywhere."

"All due respect, you don't know Max Keenan," Caroline interrupted him. "The man lived under an assumed identity and kept the cover of his entire family for nearly fifteen years before completely falling off the grid for another eighteen years. Let's not forget when the head of the Brennan criminal element hoodwinked Booth and his own daughter under the guise of an old priest before taking his son on the run with him for another year of hiding. Then when Agent Booth managed to finally bring him in, his fingerprints and DNA didn't even give us his real identity because he'd found a way to have his records wiped from the system. The same system that is being manipulated right now by Pelant to frame Doctor Brennan, might I add."

"Remember what happened to Deputy Director Kirby?" I ask and then click my tongue against the roof of my mouth before continuing. "We all know that was the handy work of Max Keenan. Don't doubt what he's capable of. You get near his daughter; you'll have a similar fate."

"And yet," Flynn starts back, "at the trial, you and your team manipulated the evidence to instill a modicum of doubt in the jury. Doctor Brennan practically tried and succeeded to incriminate herself to save her father. How can that be overlooked here, Agent Booth? Unless of course, she actually did—"

"Shut up, Flynn. You know she didn't. Let's discuss that for a second, shall we? Because do you know what that experience tells me? It tells me that no matter how damning the evidence is, if this team had truly wanted to, they could have hidden evidence or heavily manipulated it all in Bones' favor. They chose not to do that because they believe in the system. But what happens when that system has been corrupted? Hmm? Where's the justice in that? You've held off on the arrest warrant this long because what? Your respect for her? Me? Our damn near perfect record with the FBI? Her credibility? You know this isn't right."

"Look… I know. I do, but I believe in the system, too. And if I know you, even being off the case and without the power of your badge, I know that you won't stop trying to find the truth. I'm actually counting on that. And unofficially, I hope Pelant gives you that reason to shoot him between the eyes," he gives a slight smile toward Caroline as he paraphrases her previous statement.

I nod with a new ounce of respect for Flynn. He's a good guy and a great agent. I know that he can't treat Bones, this case or me any differently than a normal case with normal scumbag suspects. And that puts him in a place I don't envy. I'm glad I'm off this case… officially.

"Is that all?" I ask, running my hand over the short hair on the back of my neck. I'm starting to think that at this rate, I may rub my head bald by the time Bones gets back.

"Of course, we'll have to take this," he holds the letter up.

I give him a nod and before I can speak, he's reaching for the door, making his way out, "I know… knock myself out, right?" He turns back to shake my hand. "We'll be in touch, Agent Booth."

Please take the time to let me know what you think. :D

Addendum: Many reviewers didn't check the status of this piece. It is COMPLETE. I left it open ended in case I do get finished with some of my others this summer. You can alert it if you want, but at the moment there is no plan to continue from where it leaves off. It was just meant to give Booth some peace of mind. I did consider taking it further, but that would give me four multi-chapter fics, five if you counted my "Smutty Side Dishes" series. I cannot, in good conscience, take on that challenge when I barely have time to devote to the pieces I already have on my plate that haven't been updated in several months. I'm sorry.