A/N: This one is for the beloved Biba79. Many know her, all love her and it's her birthday so she gets lots of angst from me. Plus, for the cover art, she gets the saddest Bones thing I can think of: Cam tears. I mean, can anyone watch Cam cry and not cry themselves? Anyone? Not you sociopaths who just said yes, I mean, normal people. That's what I thought.
Credit: This fic would not exist without the help of Some1TookMyName. She is the only person who can explain Season 7 and make it make sense to me. So for that, I thank her. The title comes from Evanescence's song "Oceans" because the line "Find the Strength to say goodbye" kept circling in my head while I wrote it. :)
And finally, to B: While I cannot bring myself to write a season 7 fic, I can (apparently) rage against it via Season 8. So I hope that the tears make you happy, you crazy sociopath. ;) This one's for you!
Brennan stood outside the house. It felt strange to be on the outside looking in at a life that was supposed to be shared. Now the house in front of her felt foreign, as if she were a stranger in her own story. She picked up the car seat beside her, which had only grown heavier over the past three months, and she wondered if she should knock or just let herself in.
"Oh, relax." She scolded herself as she walked towards the front door and opened it. It was late and the lights were off so she assumed Booth was sleeping upstairs. She set down the car seat and closed the door quietly behind her. When she turned around again, she was face to face with an exhausted looking Booth, a gun firmly, but all too naturally, resting in his hand. He turned on the hall light and she took a moment to examine him, wanting to drink in this moment. He was thinner than she remembered; his face looked almost gaunt in the shadowed light. She could see the dark bags under his eyes, the toll of a stressful three months. The playful light that always emanated from him was completely gone. She wondered if she looked just as worse for wear standing in front of him.
"Hi." She finally spoke.
"Hi." He replied hoarsely, his throat thick with emotion or sleep, she wasn't sure which. His eyes glanced down at the car seat and Brennan turned her around so that he would be able to see his daughter for the first time since her christening. He immediately walked over, unbuckled the seatbelt and picked her up, not caring in the least if he woke her up. He held her against his cheek, cradling her like a precious jewel for a moment. Without a sound, he kissed her softly and carried her up the stairs to the nursery.
An onslaught of guilt for separating the pair hit Brennan like a tidal wave. It had always been there, but the magnitude of her actions truly hit home and it took everything in her to stay standing. She took off her coat, wanting nothing more than to climb the stairs and fall into her own bed. As she hung it up on the rack, she noticed that the living room couch was covered in sheets, converted into a makeshift bed.
She walked over to examine it further. Her fingers traced the top of the couch as her mind flitted back to the moment her relationship with Booth truly began. She recalled the night well, her hours of tossing and turning on Booth's couch before finally climbing into bed with him. They had overcome so many struggles since then. Brennan believed that they had become stronger for them, or at least, they had been until their world came crashing down around them.
Out of the corner of her eye, Brennan saw her iPad sitting on the end table, exactly where she always left it. She briefly wondered if the camera in the nursery was still turned on. She fired up the tablet, wanting to peek into the intimate reunion Booth was surely sharing with his daughter.
As soon as Brennan got the video feed up and running, Booth was kissing Christine's forehead and laying her down in her crib. He tucked her in and just watched her for a moment. Brennan watched on as he brought one hand to his face. Even from behind, she knew that he was pinching his nose to stop tears. She instinctively reached out to touch the screen, wanting to comfort him. Suddenly he leaned forward, his hands gripping the edges of the crib tightly, relying on it to hold him up. He hung his head as his wide shoulders shook violently, releasing all of his emotions. Almost instantly, Brennan's own tears started flowing and she had to turn it off. She wiped her tears away as quickly as she could and tried to compose herself. She didn't want them to give her away.
After a few minutes, she heard his footsteps coming down the stairs and she turned towards them, wondering what she could possibly say to him in this moment. Nothing would make her actions okay, and she knew that. But she also knew that she was right to have made them.
Booth paused at the foot of the stairs and just looked her up and down, as if he really couldn't believe that she was standing there.
Brennan took it upon herself to move towards him and she hugged him tight, wrapping her arms around him with the intention of never letting go. Booth held her just as tight in return and her tears began to flow freely in relief. She couldn't have stopped them if she tried.
"I'm sorry." She cried. "I'm so, so sorry." She hadn't cried once while she'd been away and it seemed like she was making up for lost time. She felt Booth's hands in her hair and he pulled her face up to meet his and he kissed her passionately, his tongue sweeping into her mouth and laying claim to her once again.
There was so much to talk about, so much to forgive. But at this moment, the only thing they needed was one another.
When Brennan woke up in her bed for the first time in three months, she was alone. She glanced around, looking for some sign of Booth, but he was nowhere to be found. She tiptoed down the hall and quietly opened the door to the nursery. Christine wasn't in her crib. Brennan headed downstairs, not used to being separated from her daughter and wanting to verify that she was okay. She found her in the kitchen, sitting happily in her daddy's lap.
"Good morning." She smiled at her daughter who was pounding her fist on the table.
"Morning." Booth replied as Brennan kissed him on the top of the head as she passed by. She headed directly for the coffee and poured herself a cup. From her position in front of the coffeemaker, she could see into the living room and she realized that the couch that had been so neatly made up last night was no longer so neatly arranged. She glanced at Booth.
He had slept downstairs last night.
The realization cut her to the core. He had made love to her, touched her, held her and then waited until she was asleep to come downstairs and sleep alone. She had known that her presence would require some adjusting but they had never had a problem sharing a bed, not even before they were lovers.
Was this really how far they had fallen?
Brennan took a deep breath and pushed the thought out of her mind, needing more time and energy to tackle that question.
"Has Christine had breakfast?" She asked, opening the new loaf of bread sitting on the counter, planning to make toast.
"No, we're out of formula and I didn't want to wake you." Booth replied. Brennan paused and closed her eyes, struck by the level of her mistake. It didn't take Booth long to recognize why she had frozen with her back turned to him. "She's old enough to be eating solid food." He realized. Brennan headed for the diaper bag that still sat in the entry way and pulled out the jars of strained food.
"Here." She said as she handed him a jar and a spoon. "She likes the bananas best." Booth stared at her, and she knew that this was going to be something that they talked about later. He took the jar from her and twisted the lid off with a pop. Without another word, he offered his daughter a spoonful of mashed bananas and she swallowed it greedily.
Of all the things that Brennan had done to him, taking Christine with her when she left would be the only one that Booth would never forgive. She knew that he had missed almost all of Parker's first four years between the army and Rebecca. To force him to miss out on these moments all over again was the cruelest thing she could think of.
Forgetting her toast, she headed upstairs to take a shower, not wanting to cry in front of Booth. It felt selfish to cry for things that she had done. If she wanted to cry for her actions, how much more did Booth hurt for being the one unwillingly acted upon? She turned on the water in the shower and let her threatening tears finally fall freely, masked by the sound of the running water. She sat down on the floor of the bathroom and let herself grieve for the time so brutally stolen from them.
When Brennan emerged from her shower, she felt slightly better about the world. As she got dressed, she could hear Booth hushing a fussy Christine in the nursery. This was usually around the time that Brennan started driving so it wasn't a surprise that the child was confused by the fact that they weren't on the road for her usual naptime.
Before long, the noises in the nursery turned only to Booth's soothing whispers and Brennan knew that he had successfully managed to get her to sleep. Brennan quietly snuck down the steps when the sight of the couch reminded her of how much distance still remained between the two of them. Deciding that the best way to move on was to actually move on, she grabbed the luggage from the road and carried it into the laundry room. She dumped the bags unceremoniously on the floor before heading back to pull the sheets off the couch. That's where Booth found her, standing in the living room, her arms full of sheets.
"What are you doing?" He asked.
"Laundry." She said. "Do you have anything else down here you'd like to throw in?" She asked. Knowing he'd been caught, Booth sighed. After all, there was no need to wash perfectly clean sheets.
"Bones…" He began.
"It's fine, Booth." She said, honestly trying to mean it despite the current knife in her chest. "I've gotten used to sleeping alone." Silence fell as Brennan went about her task at hand; although she could feel Booth's eyes watching her carefully.
"Can I just…" He began again, trying to explain.
"Don't. Please." She cut him off, unable to hear his excuses without losing it entirely all over again. She took a deep breath. "I guess I should have expected things to be a little…tense." She said.
"Tense?" Booth said, unable to believe her choice of words. "You left me." He reminded her. "No warning, no note, nothing. You just took off. Again." His quiet demeanor scared her more than his screaming ever could. "But unlike before, this time, you also took my kid." Brennan felt her heart crack in her chest at his pained words. Still, she stood strong, knowing that she didn't have the right to hurt while he was in so much pain. However, her lack of emotion only pushed Booth further and he turned around and slammed his hand against the door jam, causing her to flinch. "Damn it, Bones, you just, you took everything!" He finally cried, letting his emotions out. "I didn't know if you were alive or, or, dead..." He paused, unable to even relive it in his memory. "And what I can't understand is why you would do that to me when you know better than anyone what that uncertainty does to a person!"
"I do know better than anyone." She answered. "But I also knew that it was the only option left on the table. It was that or death, Booth. It's not fair, it's not right, but that was all that was left. I refused to leave my daughter the way that my mother left me. I was trying to protect us."
"You could have at least told me that you were leaving." He said. "You talked to Max. You could have talked to me."
"You couldn't know!" She exclaimed. "Your career depended on your ignorance. I needed you to fight for us! I was not about to let Pelant get to you too. Besides, what would have happened if we had been caught communicating? We would have both ended up in prison and Christine..."
"I can't. I can't do this." Booth turned away, not wanting to hear another logical word out of her mouth. There was nothing logical about this situation. He was irate and he wanted her to acknowledge that.
"Booth! Stop! Please?" She cried but it was too late, he was already out the front door. Brennan wanted to run after him but someone had to stay with the sleeping child upstairs. She waited until she heard his car start and then she crumpled to the floor amidst the dirty laundry.
She had waited months for this. Months where she was alone and scared and the only thing she wanted to do was curl up against Booth's chest and feel safe again. She had imagined thousands of the ways in which they would reunite and yes, while she had imagined that he would be angry, she had also assumed he would be relieved that the whole issue was behind them. She had assumed that he would understand that she hadn't made the choice willingly but had been forced to act.
He had said that she had taken everything with her when she left, but what he didn't know is that she had left her heart behind. She had left it here, with him, in this house. And now that she finally had it back, she felt more crushed than she had ever felt before.
It didn't take long after Booth stormed out for Brennan to realize that she needed her best friend's advice. She called Angela, surprising her and requesting that she come over immediately. And of course, Angela didn't disappoint. Within minutes, she was there.
"Bren?" Angela called out as she let herself in. Brennan nearly dropped the tea pot in her hand at the sound of the familiar voice. When she looked up towards the door, the mere sight of Angela standing there brought her to tears. Brennan wasn't sure who moved first but they met halfway, crashing into each other and holding on to one another as tightly as they could.
"Oh my God, I missed you." Angela muttered, her throat tight with emotion.
"I missed you more." Brennan said as she squeezed her best friend tighter.
"Not possible." She replied. "When I saw your number on my phone, I thought I was imagining things." Angela said, finally letting go. "And then I heard your voice and I just, got in my car before I even knew what I was doing."
"Thanks for coming over so quickly." Brennan headed back towards the kitchen counter.
"Are you kidding? I broke every single traffic law to get here."
"I…I made us tea." Brennan's hands were shaking as she reached for the pot and Angela stopped her.
"Hey, let me." She offered. Brennan clasped her hands together and headed for the couch. Realizing that something was not right, Angela carried the tray over to the coffee table and began to pour the tea. "What's wrong?" She asked. Brennan shrugged, not even knowing where to start.
"I don't know." She sat there for a moment contemplating her failures. "I've…I've ruined everything." She admitted as she hung her head and covered her face. Angela immediately forgot the tea and sat down next to her friend.
"No…" Angela comforted.
"I did. I ruined everything and now Booth can't even look at me. He hates me." She cried.
"Oh no, Sweetie. That's not possible." She assured her friend as she cradled her head against her shoulder. "Come on, tell me what happened." Angela asked. Brennan told the entire story from leaving Booth at the church to Booth walking out. "And now, I can't seem to stop crying." She added. "I just want things to be okay again." She said as she wiped her eyes with a tissue.
Angela had never seen her friend in such a condition, not even after Booth had been shot. In fact, up until 20 minutes ago, Angela had been certain that nothing could have ever shaken her friend more than that experience.
"Alright, you are clearly exhausted, emotionally and physically." Angela said as she reached for her purse. "Here, take one of these." She said as she pulled out a pill bottle. "It's a Xanax." She replied to Brennan's questioning look.
"Ange." Brennan frowned.
"Hey, don't judge. We've all been on edge since you've been gone. I don't think there's a single member of our team who hasn't had a prescription for these filled in the past few months, your partner included." She explained. "Go upstairs. Lie down. I'll stay here with Christine."
"No, I don't want one." She refused.
"You need to rest, Brennan. This is one of those moments when I'm right." She said, refusing to back down. Brennan looked at her, sighed in resignation, and held out her hand.
"Good girl." Angela said as she handed her the pill.
Booth sat in his office, the only home he had really lived in for the last few months. He was relatively alone on the Sunday afternoon, a few agents passing by his window here and there as they wrapped up cases or finished paperwork. He, however, was staring at the picture on his desk, the one that Max had taken only a few weeks before his entire world had vanished right before his eyes. The three of them in the backyard, smiling in the sun. He had thought that life couldn't get any better than in that moment. God, he was a fool for thinking that the past could stay behind them.
A knock disrupted him from his thoughts and he looked up to see Sweets, who gave a little wave of notice and then let himself in.
"No." Booth said immediately before a single word was uttered.
"Booth, I just wanted to check…"
"No." He said again, standing up, preparing to push the kid out of his office if need be.
"I'm fairly certain that you could use someone on your side right about now." Sweets said bluntly. Booth stopped and stared. "Dr. Brennan, who has been missing for three months, finally comes home and everyone is going to rejoice and think that everything will be fine again. But you and I both know that the real issues are just beginning." Sweets said knowingly. "I know that you like to pretend that everything's fine but…" Booth moved only inches away from the young doctor, staring him down with a glare that would melt glass. "Don't you want to talk about what's really going on?" Sweets asked, refusing to budge. They stayed in the tableau for a few moments before Booth realized the kid was never going to back down until he got his answer. Deciding it was better to talk fast and get him out of his office, Booth caved.
"Shut the door." He sighed, letting Sweets step by him and into the office.
"What happened?" Sweets asked as he sat down in a chair.
"I'm just…I'm angry." Booth summed up. "I've spent months being worried and now, when the whole saga is finally over and I'm supposed to be happy that she's home safe and sound, all I can feel is rage."
"For what?" Sweets asked.
"For what?! For stealing my kid, for taking off without saying goodbye, for disappearing like I meant absolutely nothing at all!" Sweets nodded.
"This feeling of anger is totally normal." He assured the agent. "You were in sort of an emotional limbo, right? Your mind couldn't decide how to feel so you just shut down, stopped feeling. Now, your brain recognizes that it's okay to feel emotions again so it's allowing you to experience what you should have been feeling all along, which is blame and indiscriminant anger." He explained. Booth stared at him for a moment.
"But I don't want to feel this way, Sweets. I mean, part of me just wants to handcuff her to my wrist and never let her out of my sight and the other part of me can't even be in the same room with her." He rubbed his face with his hands, tired of the emotional dichotomy that was tearing him in half.
"How is Dr. Brennan reacting to this anger?" Sweets asked quietly, knowing that he was treading on thin ice.
"She feels terrible." Booth said. "And I want her to feel terrible. God, I'm a horrible person." Booth acknowledged.
"No. You aren't." Sweets assured him. "Just give it time. It'll get better." Booth glanced up at Sweets. He was through with taking his time. He had given up three months to waiting, it was time to finally do something. Knowing that he had to be the one to fix this, he stood up.
"Yes. Yes it will." Booth said determinedly as he grabbed his coat.
It was time to go home.
When Booth arrived, he found Angela in the living room, walking Christine.
"Hey," He said, confused by the scene. "Where's Bones?"
"Upstairs. She needed to sleep." Booth furrowed his eyebrows.
"What happened?" He asked. The woman he knew never took naps, let alone after something as big as a fight. In fact, an unresolved fight usually led to both of them being tense and wound up for days.
"The phrase 'complete and utter meltdown' seems appropriate." Angela said, giving him a knowing look. "I gave her a Xanax and sent her to bed. No one can cry for 12 hours straight and expect to function, let alone with a baby in the house. It's just not possible."
"What are you talking about?" Booth asked, still confused.
"The emotional wreck that is your girlfriend?" Angela said. "The woman who…" she paused as she realized the problem, "is Temperance Brennan, who only cries when she's alone." She finished her own sentence. "Apparently, that has been nearly the entire time that she's been back?" Booth glanced up the stairs. Had she really been crying this entire time and he hadn't noticed?
"Booth, what are you doing?" Angela asked, knowing just how much he needed her back in his life.
"I don't know." He sighed. "I don't know." He replied again.
"Look, I'm not judging. But could you try and remember that the love of your life is a mess right now? She's been a brick wall of strength and power, all by herself, while running from the very people she worked for. She never complained, never cried, just kept going. Now who does that remind you of?" She asked pointedly. Booth sighed. "Who?" She asked, demanding an answer.
"Me." He grumbled. Angela nodded.
"You two need each other to get through this. Whatever you're going through will get better if you have each other to lean on. I promise. Start by being in the same room with each other. Then the same bed. Pretty soon, she'll stop crying and you'll stop being angry and all of this will seem like a bad dream."
"You promise, huh?" Booth sighed. Angela smiled and kissed him on the cheek.
"You can do this." She believed in him. "Now, is there any way I can take this little girl home with me to visit her Uncle Jack and her best friend Michael or is it too soon to let her out of your sight?" Angela asked seriously, not wanting to send him into a panic attack. Booth felt his heart clench in his chest for a moment but then realized he was being ridiculous.
"Sure." He said.
"Yeah?" Angela's face brightened as Booth nodded his consent. "Do you want to come play with Aunt Angela and Uncle Jack?" She asked Christine. "We will give Mommy and Daddy some much needed alone time." She cooed.
"You're going to need this." Booth said as he handed the diaper bag to Angela and she slung it over her shoulder.
"What time do you want her back?" Angela asked.
"Whenever you get tired of her." Booth replied. Angela stared at him like he was crazy.
"Look at this face." She said as she held Christine up for him. Christine giggled on cue and Booth sighed.
"Around seven." He answered, knowing that he was blessed and cursed with the most adorable child on the planet. "Be good." He commanded to his daughter, reaching out and letting her grab his finger with her tiny fist.
"Bye." Angela waved.
"Anytime. Really." Booth gave a wave and then shut the door behind them. He paused before deciding he should go up and check on Brennan.
He opened the door to their bedroom quietly and saw her lying on the bed. Something inside of him urged him forward and he sat down next to her, analyzing her sleeping form. She looked as white as a sheet in the dark room and for the first time, he felt his anger give way to concern. She had lost a lot of weight, her eyes were puffy from obvious crying and her hands were folded over her stomach like a corpse. Booth ran a finger lightly against her forearm, just wanting to touch her. He shifted further down the bed and pulled out a pillow, planning on resting himself but as soon as he got comfortable, Brennan turned over and opened her eyes.
"Booth?" She whispered.
"Sorry. I didn't mean to wake you." He said quietly.
"S'okay." She murmured. "Where's Christine?" She asked.
"With Angela. Go back to sleep." He brushed her hair back and she closed her eyes.
"Are you going to stay?" She asked.
"Yeah. I'll be right here." He promised. She nodded minutely and he kissed her temple, sending her back to sleep.
When Booth woke up, he felt more rested than he had in years. He glanced at the clock and realized he had only slept 45 minutes, but it made all the difference to be in his own bed, his partner next to him snoring softly in his ear. He opened his eyes and realized just how close she had encroached into his space and he inwardly chuckled. She would go down denying it, but his partner was a mattress stealer. Or a cuddler. Either way, she couldn't stay on her own side of the bed and Booth had nearly forgotten that little piece of information. It was the little things, the secret things, that would heal the hurt both of them had suffered this year.
Brennan's eyelids fluttered, signaling her impending consciousness. Booth watched in interest, wondering if she would wake up or turn over and go back to sleep.
"Why are you staring at me?" She asked, never opening her eyes.
"Just admiring the view." It was a line that he hadn't said in a long time, well since before Christine had been born, and a small smile graced her lips at the memory.
"I was just sedated to catch up on three months of sleep and you're checking me out?" She verified, her eyes still stubbornly closed as she snuggled deeper under the covers.
"Sleeping Beauty." Booth replied as he brushed her hair away from her face.
"Freak." She muttered under her breath. Booth just continued smiling and staring until he got what he wanted. Her eyes finally opened and he was met with the most perfect shade of blue he would ever know.
"God, I missed you." He brushed her cheek, unable to take his eyes off of her.
"You have no idea." She said. Booth let the silence reign as he contemplated how to apologize for his behavior.
"I'm sorry about this morning." He said honestly. "I don't know what happened. Sweets tried to explain it to me but you know how shrinky he can get." Brennan frowned and he knew that it was because he was playing dumb. It drove her nuts when he did it but she let it slide this time.
"You don't have to be sorry. You did nothing wrong."
"Neither did you." Booth said.
"Booth…" She started, not believing him for a second.
"No. You were right. You did what you had to do." He allowed. "That doesn't mean that I'm going to let you out of my sight ever again." She sighed, knowing that she had that coming. Booth got quiet. "I'm not over it yet, Bones. I don't know when I will be."
"Shh." She said, placing a finger over his lips. "How are you feeling? Right now." She asked. Booth closed his eyes.
"Comfortable." He answered as he opened his eyes again. "I haven't slept here since the morning you left." He admitted. Brennan closed her eyes and Booth felt something jolt inside him. "I spent the first few weeks at Cam's. She took such a huge risk, playing it straight with the FBI. Pelant wanted her dead and if I couldn't protect you, I wanted to protect her." Brennan nodded in understanding. "I came back here for a night and I didn't even make it up the stairs. So I went to Jared's for a while but he drove me nuts. I was on leave because I was under investigation and I couldn't stay in the same house with him for that many hours each day. So, I stayed on the couch. Angela and Hodgins took me in occasionally, they would invite me over for dinner or Hodgins would get me drunk and force me to stay over. They were worried."
"Were you interrogated after I left?" She asked, her voice breaking at the thought.
"Yeah, but not seriously. Everyone knew that if I did know something, I would die before telling them but it was pretty obvious that I was blindsided by this. I was a wreck."
"I wasn't." She said. "I didn't cry once. It was almost as if my mind shut down and my body moved on autopilot. It was survival instincts only. It was just like after you were shot." She recalled. Booth had heard the stories from her friends about that time and he didn't even want to know what it looked like in reality.
"I wish I could have been there with you." He said as he brushed away a stray tear. "When your dad stood there and said that only he could protect you now, it nearly killed me. You are my family. It is my job to protect you." Booth had felt so helpless and thrown by the moment and talking about it brought it all rushing back to the surface. "I like to act. Without action, I'm restless and lost."
"I know." She said, moving closer towards him, wanting to comfort him.
"I was forced to just sit by and watch as everything that was important to me was moved around like a chess piece in a game we had no control over. I've never felt so helpless in my life." Brennan just held him close. "On top of it all, I wasn't with you and when I'm not with you, I'm not myself." He frowned as he tried to explain. "It's like you take a piece of me when you go."
"I know what you mean." She said and he was grateful for her understanding. "Metaphorically speaking, I left my heart here with you. Now that I have it back, I'm realizing just how much damage I've done. "
"Bones, you didn't do any damage. Pelant did. And as soon as we bring him to justice, we'll be able to move on from this whole mess." Brennan sighed, wanting to believe him. "I promise you. Things are going to be better from now on." In that moment, Booth wished he had a piece of paper to burn. They needed those words to be true, now more than ever. Brennan chose to remain silent. She simply curled up against his chest and let Booth wrap his arms around her. He held her tight, inhaling the familiar scent of her hair and thanking God that she was back home again.
It was Brennan who greeted Angela and Christine that evening as they made their way back home. Angela was quick to give her an "I told you so" smile once she saw that Brennan was doing better than when she had gone upstairs earlier that afternoon. Brennan, refusing to admit that Angela may have been right on this one, simply took her daughter back and sent Angela home again.
As strange as it sounded, it was hard to be apart from Christine after being her sole provider for months on end. Brennan missed her and was happy to hold her again. At the sight of his daughter, Booth's eyes unconsciously got a little brighter.
"Did you have fun with Angela?" Booth asked with a smile. Despite the fact that it was near her bedtime, Christine was surprisingly alert and happy. She cooed and smiled at her mother as they sat down on the living room floor.
"It would appear so." Brennan replied. She pulled out some toys for Christine to play with as Booth watched on from the couch. Christine looked around at the living room and stuck a rubber ring in her mouth, gurgling happily. She held it out for her father to examine and Booth smiled.
"What did you find?" He asked her. She wiggled around until she was on her side and rolled over towards the couch. Brennan watched on in amazement as Christine found her way towards her father.
"She's rolling." She said, completely baffled at the new skill. Booth saw the puzzled but pleased look on Brennan's face.
"This is new?" He asked.
"Very. I've never seen her roll towards something before." Booth picked up his daughter and set her down on his lap.
"Look at you, Kid! You conquered mobility!" Booth cheered.
"She takes after me. She knows exactly what, or rather who, she wants." Brennan smiled. The grin on Booth's face was electric. Brennan had nearly forgotten just how bright it could be.
"Well, we can't let Mommy have all the firsts, can we? No." Booth shook his head. Christine just rubbed her eye with her fist, exhausted from her trek across the living room.
"She should be getting tired. I'll go get her a bottle." Brennan said, trying not to let Booth's comment affect her. She wondered how long the slight sting of a simple comment would last. Booth hadn't even thought twice about his words. She knew there would come a moment when she would let something slip and he would feel just as raw so she tried not to focus on it.
When she returned with the bottle, Christine was already lying on Booth's shoulder, trying to bury her face in his neck.
"I forgot that she's a snuggler." Booth commented as he shifted Christine around so he could take the bottle from his partner. "Her head always finds my shoulder. Just like yours." He added with a smile as he offered Christine the bottle. Brennan returned his smile as she sat down next to him.
"It's a good shoulder." She defended as she touched her daughter's little toes.
"You've made that quite clear." He grinned, his cocky exterior coming out to play. The sound of their daughter's hungry slurping stole their attention for a moment and Brennan took the chance to really look at Booth.
"What?" He asked, knowing he was being analyzed.
"You're happy." She stated.
"I am." He acknowledged. "I've got my girls back. All is right with the world." Brennan didn't respond and her silence spoke volumes about his cheery statement. "We're going to get him, Bones." He said, hearing her unspoken thoughts. "I promise." Brennan clearly wasn't as sure because he continued. "Look, I know that you want justice for what this bastard did to us. I can practically see you itching to get back to work to solve this case and we will," he promised, "but until then, we gotta hold on to the good moments when they come. I'm not going to let that evil son of a bitch have another second of my life. My daughter and my partner are back home where they belong and I need to focus on that right now or I'll go crazy."
"You're right." She nodded. Booth stared at her for a second before letting a slow smile creep onto his lips. Brennan rolled her eyes at his childlike victory. "Yes, I said it." She replied, aware of the rare acknowledgement.
"Can I get it again?" Booth asked.
"No." She replied dryly, not wanting to encourage him.
"It just happens so rarely." He grinned as Brennan got up off the couch. "Did you hear that?" He asked Christine. "Your ol' man was right! I want you to remember this moment because it probably won't happen again until you're in preschool."
"College." Brennan corrected him from the steps as she headed upstairs. Booth laughed and she felt her stomach flip within her. It signaled something that only a few hours ago, she wouldn't have believed was possible.
They were on their way.
The Beginning :)