A/N: This was originally written for my good friend Rynogeny for her 50th birthday, along with several other fabulous writers, for a project called 50 Shades of Booth and Brennan. The link is in my favorites, if you'd like to read the other amazing stories written for Cindee's day.
Prompt: In the Season 7 finale, what if, instead of driving away, Brennan turned the car around?
This doesn't exactly follow the prompt, but it is in the spirit of it, anyway.
The Almost in the Never Should
Booth led Brennan and Christine to the sidewalk, setting down the car seat in the process. "Tell you what, I'll go get the car, alright?"
"Okay." Brennan responded, watching him walk away. Suddenly, her expression changed and she called him back. "Booth?"
"Yeah?" He turned, giving her a questioning look before smiling softly as he came back. "What is it?"
Brennan looked almost pained. "I love you, Booth. I don't want you to think Christine is the only reason we're together." Her eyes were wide and earnest and he couldn't help but lean in and kiss her.
"It's gonna be okay, alright?" Booth assured her, before leaning down and kissing his daughter's lace-covered head. "Alright?" He nodded in encouragement as Brennan returned the gesture. "I'll be right back. I'll get the car. Alright? I'll be right back."
Booth turned to head for the church parking lot, completely missing Max's car pulling up to the curb to swallow his family up and take them away.
Generally, Booth was a social drinker. Being raised by an abusive alcoholic, he was careful about how much he consumed with Christine in the house, so their liquor stayed locked up unless they had guests. But that night, the night his family left him behind, Booth got rip-roaring drunk and passed out on the floor of the baby's room, staring at the glow-in-the-dark stars Brennan had meticulously affixed to the ceiling right before Christine was born. His phone was tossed deliberately far away, on the sofa in the living room, after Angela had tried to call him for a fourth time. Before that, Cam had called three times and even Caroline had tried to get a hold of him.
He was not in the mood to chat.
When his eyes opened on the bright sunlight streaming across his face from the slats in the window above Christine's crib, he groaned and automatically rolled over to kiss Brennan before the memory of the day before kicked in and he face-planted on the hardwood floor of his daughter's nursery. The sharp pain brought everything into focus and the insane urge to cry washed over him again. Determined not to give in to the aching hole in his gut, he hauled himself off the floor with a loud grunt and headed for the shower.
Once he had washed the stink of alcohol away, Booth dressed hurriedly and headed downstairs to start coffee and face his first day without his family. He opened the freezer to retrieve the beans for the grinder, and his eyes were drawn to the empty space in the front where Brennan stored her breast milk for Christine to use at day care. Anger welled up unheeded as he realized that while he was dressing his daughter for her christening; his partner was downstairs surreptitiously packing to leave him. The reasons for it all and the total sense it made faded for a moment as he considered that maybe his first, nausea-inducing suspicion was correct and she hadn't trusted him enough to warn him, to take him with them. Booth slammed the freezer door harder than necessary and prepared an entire pot of desperately-needed coffee, his motions jerky with anger as he pulled a large mug out of the cabinet and slammed it to the counter. The ringing of his cell phone pulled him out of his self-pitying reverie and he moved to the living room to retrieve it. When he saw Angela's name pop up, he hit ignore and started to throw the phone back onto the sofa when the phone rang again. He was just about to answer and give Angela an earful when his mind finally registered the name on the display.
He barely took a breath before he was hitting the Answer button. "Bones? Bones, babe…where are you?"
"Booth?" Her voice was a near-sob. "I-I tried…I was going to…I was…" And then, she was sobbing, great heaving cries filling his ear as his eyes watered in reaction to her turmoil. "But I can't, Booth…I can't!"
Booth sank to the floor, clutching the phone like a life line. "Bones. Calm down and tell me where you are."
Her breath was hitching and he could hear her literally fighting for composure. "We're at a rest stop just inside of Virginia. I don't know…" Booth heard shuffling and the car door open with a creak, and then Brennan asking someone a muffled question. "Mile marker 155, Booth. There is northbound and southbound access."
"I'm on my way, Bones." He barely remembered to shut off the coffee maker and grab his keys before he was throwing his front door open, where he almost ran face-first into the man standing on his doorstep, Special Agent Hayes Flynn.
"Shhhh….Christine, please calm yourself." Brennan soothed the baby as she fussed against her mother's shoulder. She glanced at her watch, realizing with a start that it had been almost two hours since she had called Booth in despair. "Your father is on his way and we will be back in our own home soon." She tilted forward and cradled her daughter's head between her hands, the tiny body resting on her forearms and furiously kicking legs bent against Brennan's chest. "Now, I know this is not what you are used to and you are fatigued from traveling. But I need you to remain calm for just a little while longer and I am certain your father's presence will ease your upset."
"I'll take her, Bones."
Brennan whipped her head around in shock. "Booth!" She turned into his body, letting his strong, comforting arms hold her and Christine while she cried into shoulder. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry…I thought I was doing the right thing, but…"
"Shhhh…" He unconsciously mimicked her earlier soothing of their daughter as he rubbed slow circles on her back and shoulders. "I know, Bones…I know. It's okay; I've got you, baby."
Brennan nodded into Booth's shoulder and sniffed while he held Christine closer to his shoulder, noting with a smile that the baby had stopped fussing and was nuzzling into his neck. Without raising her head, Brennan acknowledged the change. "She missed you as well."
"I guess so." Booth's voice held a bit of amusement as well as awe. "I missed her, too." He squeezed his partner tighter. "I missed both of you."
The reunited family stood together, swaying quietly, in the parking lot of the rest stop for another few minutes before Brennan finally pulled back and regarded Booth carefully. "I understand what this means for me, Booth. I know…I mean, I am going to be arrested. But I have faith that you can make sure I'm safe and I never should have doubted-"
"Bones." Booth stopped her from going any further with a smile. "I know you left for a good reason…I do. But that's over now."
"It won't be over until-"
"No, Bones…you don't get it. It's over." He pulled her hand, confusion making her follow him blindly, over to a bench next to the car. Once they were settled, Booth tried to explain what he had learned right before he came to get his family.
"Angela found the key." Brennan's gasp made him smile wider. "Yeah. She sat up half the night running library books through her gizmo until one started lighting up every computer screen she had."
"Uh huh." Booth shook his head. "I don't understand half of it, but what you need to know right now is that the code she found was the one that disabled Pelant's ankle monitor."
"Oh my God, Booth…did they…?" Her question hung in the air, palpable.
Booth finally gave in to the urge he'd been squelching since he'd walked up and saw her trying to comfort their daughter, and kissed her full on the mouth. It took her a moment to respond, but when she did they both released simultaneous sighs. When they broke apart, finally, Brennan used her thumb to wipe a bit of moisture from his bottom lip, lingering there for a moment before dropping her hand back to her lap.
Booth cleared his throat before speaking. "The long and the short of it is that they've got him dead to rights, Bones. Flynn came to the house right after you called me to let me know that they've turned the investigation towards Pelant and away from you. They had already brought the son of a bitch in for questioning, but he made a point of stopping by so we wouldn't worry anymore."
"That was kind of him."
"He's a good agent, Bones. We might not have liked where the investigation led him, but he was only doing his job."
"I realize that. I hold no ill will towards him. Or anyone else." Brennan nodded slightly.
Booth moved to stand, taking her hand again and leading her to the SUV. "Cam will be glad to hear that, I know she's devastated about this whole thing."
Brennan opened the back door and reached for Christine to settle her into her seat. "She should not feel anything but proud of the way she handled the case. She did the right thing. She did what I would have done had I been in her situation." Closing the door, Brennan turned to Booth again. "And what about you? Are you…" She swallowed thickly, trembling internally. "Are you glad to hear it?"
"Bones…" Booth pulled her back into his arms, holding her close. "This? Right here? This is all that matters to me. You were going to come home, no matter what." He pulled back again and looked directly into her eyes. "And I know why you had to do it and I supported it, even if it killed me. Even if the entire world seems like they're out to get you? Not me. Never me. I'm always on your side, Bones. Always."
Brennan exhaled and relaxed, body and soul, for the first time since Ethan's body had been found in the woods. "Thank you, Booth. Thank you for believing in me."