Smiling television reporters across the country delivered the breaking news: Beloved mystery author Temperance Brennan was no longer a suspect in the murder of Ethan Sawyer. The FBI now claimed that convicted computer hacker Christopher Pelant had killed him and two others. Within minutes, thousands of Brennanites were expressing their delight via Facebook and Twitter, on which "Justice for Brennan" quickly became a trending topic.
When Brennan herself heard the news, tears of relief ran down her face. She picked up Christine and held her tightly against her chest, kissing the top of her daughter's head again and again. "We're going home. We're going to see Daddy! You remember Daddy, don't you?" Brennan took a picture of Booth out of her wallet to show Christine.
Christine smiled at the picture and grabbed it out of her mother's hands. Then she stuffed it in her mouth.
"Don't eat Daddy!" Brennan laughed as she retrieved the picture, which was now covered with her daughter's saliva. She wiped it off and put it back in her wallet. "He's going to be very happy to see you."
"He'll be very happy to see you too," her father added.
"Yes. " Brennan felt more tears clouding her vision. "The feeling will be well reciprocated."
After thanking her father for everything he'd done, Brennan hastily packed up her belongings. As soon as the car was loaded and Christine was safely buckled into her car seat, Brennan began the long drive back to Washington D.C., back to the man she loved and the life she had reluctantly abandoned weeks before.
Several hours later, at a time when most people were sleeping peacefully in their beds, Brennan parked the car in her own driveway. In her eagerness to get home, she had exceeded the speed limit for almost the entire trip. Now that they had arrived, she wanted to unbuckle Christine and sprint to the front door, but a sudden jolt of fear kept her paralyzed in the driver's seat.
Booth had said in his television interview that he wasn't mad at her for choosing to go on the run. But what if he never trusted her again? What if they couldn't go back to the way things were? Would they have to live apart, sharing custody of their daughter? Would they need to give up their professional relationship as well? Moments after those questions started to torment her, she saw Booth running out of their house.
Booth had been keeping himself awake while using his sniper senses to listen for the sounds of an approaching car. He flung open her car door and immediately enveloped her in a hug. He wanted to say "I've missed you so much" and "I love you" and "Never leave again". Yet he couldn't say a word. He couldn't do anything but hold her. He felt her tears soaking his shirt and knew he was leaving a similar puddle on her coat.
Eventually a cry reminded them that they weren't alone. Booth's eyes turned to the back seat and a grin spread across his face.
"I'll get her," he said. Carefully unbuckling his daughter from her car seat, he picked her up and kissed her forehead. "Look at you! You've gotten so big! Daddy missed you so much. Let's go inside and you can see the new toys Daddy bought you."
Seeing Booth and Christine's reunion only added to Brennan's anguish. "How can you ever forgive me for taking her away from you?"
Booth's gaze returned to the woman he loved. "I've already forgiven you, Bones. You know I can never stay mad at you for long."
Hearing the sincerity in Booth's voice, Brennan finally got out of the car. She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him deeply, just as she'd been doing in her dreams every night they'd been apart.
Booth returned the kiss for several blissful seconds before remembering that they were standing in the middle of their driveway. He forced himself to pull back. "Let's go inside." The last thing they needed right now was one of their neighbors spotting them and alerting the media.
As they entered their house hand in hand, Brennan took a few moments to reacquaint herself with her surroundings. The souvenirs from years of anthropological expeditions, the seats from Booth's baseball game, the ridiculously large TV he had insisted they buy, the pictures of herself and Booth holding their daughter-everything was exactly as she remembered. After weeks of staying in strange places, the familiarity was both comforting and refreshing.
She followed Booth upstairs to Christine's room and watched as he placed her in her crib. "Daddy got you some new stuffed animals." He held up a lion, monkey, and giraffe that had been sitting in one corner of the crib. Yet Christine seemed more interested in her mobile. "You remember your mobile? Your big brother Parker made that for you. He's going to be so excited that you're home."
Booth turned to Brennan. "On Father's Day, Parker insisted we go to church so he could pray that you and Christine would come home soon. He's a good kid."
"He has a good father," Brennan said.
Booth kissed Brennan's cheek. "Thanks, Bones."
Booth and Brennan watched Christine watch her mobile until her eyelids closed. When they were sure that she had truly fallen asleep, they went downstairs and settled themselves on their living room couch.
"I got you something too," Booth said, handing her a jewelry box he'd hidden behind a couch pillow.
Opening the box, Brennan discovered a silver necklace with two silver charms, a human skull and a handgun, lying side by side.
"The skull represents you," Booth explained. "And the gun represents me. They'll always be together on the necklace, just as we'll always be together." Booth cringed at his explanation; it had sounded better in his head. "Is that too cheesy?"
Brennan erased his doubts with a kiss. "Will you put it on me?" He gladly did as she asked. "It's beautiful. Thank you, Booth. I have gifts for you as well. They're in the car; I'll go get them."
"I can get them for you. You're probably tired from driving half the night."
That was true, but Brennan wasn't so tired that she couldn't walk out to the car. Nevertheless, she recognized that Booth wanted to take care of her, and so she decided to let him. "Alright. They're in my black suitcase."
When Booth returned with the suitcase a minute later, Brennan took out the framed paper on which she'd stamped their daughter's handprints. "This is Christine's Father's Day present." She studied his face as he looked at it. "Do you like it?"
"I love it, Bones. Thank you."
"You're welcome. These are from me." She handed him the pile of letters she had written during their separation.
Booth's eyes widened in surprise as he realized what she had given him. "You wrote me letters…I wrote you letters too!"
"I know," Brennan said with a smile. "I heard you mention them in your television interview. I've been looking forward to reading them."
Booth grinned. "I'd hoped you would see my interview. Do you want to exchange and read letters now?"
"Soon. First, there's something important I'd like to discuss with you." She took a deep breath to prepare herself. "Choosing to go on the run without you was a difficult decision. I knew I was going to miss you, but the longing I felt during our separation was much more than I'd anticipated. I was content to be alone for many years before I met you; I told myself that I didn't need a man to make me happy. Yet I realize that I do need you, Booth. You're an essential part of my happiness. I love you, and I think that we should get married." She waited several seconds for a response. "You're not saying anything."
"Sorry, Bones; I'm a little in shock. Can you say that last part one more time so I know I'm not hallucinating?"
"I want to marry you. I hope you want to marry me too, because I've already planned our wedding."
"Of course you have." He gave her a long, tender kiss. "Yes, I want to marry you. I've wanted to marry you for years. So tell me your plans for the wedding."
"I imagined that we would have the ceremony in your church-"
"You're willing to get married in my church?" Although Brennan had let him get Christine christened, he had never dared to hope that she would agree to a church wedding.
"I know how much you value your religious beliefs. I can ask Angela to be my matron of honor, my nieces to be flower girls, and Parker to be the ring bearer. After the ceremony, we can have the reception outside the Jeffersonian, among the gardens. What do you think?"
"I think it sounds perfect." He kissed her again. "Absolutely perfect."
The newly engaged partners wrapped their arms around each other, and before long both fell asleep on the couch. It was the best night's sleep either had had in weeks.
Booth took the following day off from work so he could spend it at home with Brennan and Christine. That night, after putting Christine to bed, Booth and Brennan read each other's letters as they lay underneath the covers of their own bed. They cried, held each other, and made love until sheer exhaustion forced them to stop.
Two days after their reunion, Booth and Brennan hosted the "Welcome Home" party that Booth had promised Parker, who was the first to give Brennan and Christine enthusiastic hugs when he arrived. Also in attendance were Brennan's squints and squinterns, Sweets, her father, Caroline Julian, and Booth's grandfather. When their guests had finished eating, Booth thanked them all for coming and declared that he had an announcement.
"The last time you said you had an announcement, it was that you two were expecting," Angela thought aloud. Her eyes widened. "Bren, are you pregnant?"
"No," Brennan said with a laugh. "One infant is enough for the time being."
"Please tell me you're not leaving the country again," said Cam anxiously, recalling how Brennan's trip to Maluku had nearly destroyed their team.
"Relax; we're not going anywhere," Booth answered.
"Are you getting married?" Asked Parker.
The partners exchanged a smile. "Yes," Booth said. "And you're all invited to the wedding." The room erupted in cheers and applause.
"I'm glad you finally listened to me," Pops told Booth.
Max shook Booth's hand. "I wouldn't trust anyone else to take care of my daughter."
"I knew this day was coming the first time I saw you making eyes at your 'just partner'," Caroline said. "Congratulations."
"Thanks, Caroline," Booth said. "You know, it would mean a lot to Bones if Zack could come to the wedding."
"Say no more, cher. I'll see what I can do."
Angela embraced Brennan. "I'm so happy for you, sweetie."
"Thanks, Ange. Would you be willing to be my matron of honor?"
"I'd be insulted if you asked anyone else."
"So…that's a yes?"
Angela laughed. "Most definitely."
"Congratulations, guys," said Hodgins.
"Thanks," said Booth. "You want to be my best man?"
Hodgins stood tall. "I'd be honored."
Booth turned to Parker. "Bones and I want you to be a part of the wedding too. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, would be to walk down the aisle with our rings."
Parker smiled. "So I'd be the ring bearer. Just like Frodo in Lord of the Rings!"
"Exactly," Booth said. "Except instead of throwing the rings into a volcano, you'd be keeping them safe."
"Cool. Mission accepted, Dad."
Smiling at the exchange between father and son, Angela raised her glass. "To Booth and Brennan! No matter what the world throws at you two, you always manage to get through it together. I wish you both a lifetime of happiness; you've earned it a thousand times over."
The other guests raised their glasses. "To Booth and Brennan!"
"To us," Booth said, turning to face the woman he'd love for the rest of his life.
"To us," Brennan repeated.
As their lips found each other, the room exploded once more.
A final thank you to all who have read and reviewed! I hope this epilogue has lived up to your expectations.