This is a birthday fic for the wonderful sunsetdreamer! I know what you're thinking; her birthday was weeks ago, this is late. But what you don't know is that I work on Tadpole time and in Tadpole time everything slows down…so today really is the 10th and therefore HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SWEETIE! :)
So, you asked for Booth and Brennan and that is what you have got here, my dear. Hope you like it and more than that, I hope it makes sense. Hehe.
Also, everyone, eitoph is a fantastic and patient beta and this fic would be lost without her. Thanks, hon!
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones (also, Tadpole time won't work for anyone else but me, just sayin'.)
A Million Combinations
If you wanna stay alive,
Then you've gotta play dead.
Don't listen to your heart,
Just listen to your head.
Her heart told her that they would come back, that they were simply out buying Christmas presents for her and Russ. What else could it be? What parents would leave their children alone over the holidays? Certainly not hers.
She remembers coming back to school from the Christmas breaks gone by and hearing all the stories of feuding families over the holidays. She would observe all their conversations, never really engaging, and be grateful for her brother and her mom and her dad.
Bad things didn't happen in her family. They were happy. They were secure.
She had the kind of family that they put in Christmas commercials. Their father would conjure up all kinds of little science experiments that she and Russ could do while their mother would cook a feast fit for royalty. It was the same, even when Temperance and Russ were well into their teens, they still loved it. Christmas worked for their little family. It was a perfect time of year.
So why would they run away from that? Her father must just need supplies for their annual home science fare. Her mother must just need some extra potatoes or maybe she forgot the apples for the dessert. They just needed a few supplies.
But in the back of her mind, after they drove off, she knew they wouldn't come back. Her stomach twisted in an unfamiliar way. She knew her family was broken. Russ tried to make it work for a while. He tried to make Christmas with an overcooked turkey and a sad looking volcano. And even after she shut him out, he tried to stick around.
Right up until he just couldn't anymore.
If she's being honest with herself, it was probably at that moment that she stopped listening to her heart.
Not when her parents drove away.
It was when her brother left her.
Because how could she trust her heart, when even her brother didn't?
It's the kind of worry that plagues him constantly. It's the slow burning kind. It's always there, always making his skin crawl, always resulting in him checking over his shoulder, just in case.
His partner and his daughter have been gone a week and all he can feel is numb, with a side of that itching worry.
The scene has played out in his mind countless times. All hours of the night and day. His mind knows no limits when it comes to this particular nightmare.
There must have been something he could have done, something he could have said. They had come so far together. He knows she isn't running from him, but a small part of him wonders if she realises that that's what it looks like. It looks like she doesn't trust him to find the answers they so desperately need, it looks like she has chosen her life over their life shared.
It looks that way and sometimes, when he is feeling most vulnerable, it feels that way too.
Booth was always the heart person. She trusted his heart as much as she trusted her own rigorously logic driven brain. But it was never going to be easy to completely surrender to that trust.
Although it happened so long ago, she still has nightmares of being trapped underground in her car. Sometimes Doctor Hodgins is with her, sometimes he's not. Most recently, it's been Christine in the car with her. She wakes up in a cold sweat, heart racing and takes comfort from the solid form sleeping next to her and the soft breaths coming from her daughter's crib and through the baby monitor.
Whether or not Hodgins is with her in her nightmare, she always hears his words to her.
"What you have is faith, baby."
She remembers thinking he was being ridiculously ludicrous. She remembers thinking that having faith in someone meant having trust in your metaphoric heart and that simply could not be the case for her. Her heart was guarded, still bruised and battered from her childhood. It was surrounded by a fortress, keeping her safe from hurt, allowing her to justify 'faith' as being simply an illusion. Faith wasn't real; her logic told her that Booth would perform under pressure, that he would save them.
All of them.
But Hodgins' blind belief in faith stirred something in her. And as she and Booth sat laughing on the hot ground, she found herself opening up to the idea of faith. Even if it was just an illusion, it was a part of the society she lived in, and as an anthropologist that was reason enough for her to keep her mind open.
However she framed it though, she couldn't anthropologically justify her heart beating a little faster for reasons that had nothing to do with just being rescued.
He just had to have faith in her decision. It wasn't a choice. He just had to believe that she knew what she was doing, that this was best for all of them.
It wasn't always easy being the heart person. Especially now. It came with a cost. It stung with a pain he'd never felt before. But he knew he couldn't let it get to him. He had work to do, a case to solve.
Bones running away couldn't be in vain. She had to come home. She had to come back to him.
He had to believe that.
It was years later that she finally saw the appeal in trusting one's heart.
Regret is a powerful thing and it became her whole world for a long, dark time.
There was no denying that it wasn't their time on the steps of the Hoover. Sweets' voice was still ringing loud in their minds; their feelings were still raw and untamed.
And Booth had just… taken a chance.
She'd looked back on that night again and again, dwelling on the unchangeable past and had come to the conclusion that if she had just trusted her heart for once, there could have been a whole different outcome. It was foolish to romanticise, but she found herself unable to control it. Thousands of miles away from him, in the sticky Indonesian heat, she had little to do but let her mind wander. There was a change happening within her. One that she hadn't been able to see back then, but one which, when complete, would allow her to see love as not just a rush of chemicals, but as a real, tangible emotion.
Something she would feel uncontrollably towards Booth. Her partner. Her friend. Her heart.
But it didn't happen immediately. Because how could she trust a heart that had been unchanged since its owner was just a teenager? She knew the science.
But her head told her it was crazy. And she always listened to her head.
When it came down to it, Booth made the choice for her.
Standing at the base of their staircase, in their house. Together. He had turned to Max and simply said that he'd been thinking about running too. Like it was the most logical thing in the world to say. Like running would solve all of their problems all at once.
And the idea sort of just stuck.
She knows that Booth would be letting his heart guide the decision; she knows that she should as well. She can see what it would do to them, how it would tear at their tiny family. Not even just Booth and Christine. It's her whole family that would suffer. Angela, Hodgins, Michael, Cam. These are people who they have all grown attached to. Opening her heart means that she feels this rush of emotion and it takes a while for her to contain, but she does it. She hides it behind that well used compartment in her mind. She's learned to be the heart in their relationship sometimes, but the facts are a part of her. They are the part that she's never going to be able to let go of, the part of her that is resiliently logical, that tells her about all the pros and cons. It's the part of her that maps everything out for her. It's the part of her that tells her that while it won't be easy for their family, it's the best thing to do.
It's the part of her that is all brain and no heart.
Born on that day, on the stairs in their house, is the plan that will take her away from him. Born is the plan made of logic and reason that she knows will break his heart.
In the end, a million different things happened to get them to this point. A combination of all the tiniest moments lead to where they first started; with her driving away and him watching on.
It was never going to be easy, Pelant had made certain of that. But Booth honestly believed that they could work through it together. He honestly believed that he would never see her drive away from him again.
And somehow, out of all the times that it had happened before, this was the one that stung the most. This was the blow that hurt.
The anger that had plagued him in previous years returned faster that he thought possible, overtaking his whole being within only two weeks. It was the anger that had fired up over woman wanting to run away from him in the past. It was a feeling of helplessness and confusion. Why didn't they want what he could give? He didn't realise he was angry with her at first. He understood why she had done what she had done. No, at first the anger was directed towards one man, and one man only. The man who had caused all this. Pelant.
But as the days passed, the pain only grew. And with the pain came the temptation to just track them down, to bring his family home, damn the consequences. It all just grew within him. There came a point where it hurt so much that he did start to get mad at her. At the person he loved more than anything in the world.
Within weeks he was angry with her.
It was too much to be surrounded by her things at home. It was too much to sleep in an empty bed. It was too much to not hear his daughter's cries in the night.
It was just too much.
So he packed up some supplies and moved into his office. It was isolated, it was all him and no her. It was his space and it finally allowed him to compartmentalise.
Pelant had made it difficult, yes. But he knew better. He knew if he could just keep his head down and focus, he could bring his family home.
She had been driving a while, her mind in overdrive telling her that there must have been some better way to do this. There must have been one detail she overlooked, there must have been something. Because the fact that there was nothing meant that this was damaging. This was going to hurt them.
But she knew that this was right. She had carefully planned it. It was meticulous. It was fool proof.
Booth was the system. She had to allow him to be the system. She had to allow him to do his work. She had to give him the power she had always had, the power to focus solely on the work that was most important. And to do that, she needed to take the heart out of the equation.
She needed to run.
Christine's soft cries from the back of the car prompted her to pull over. They had been driving a while and her daughter would be hungry. Brennan unfastened her seatbelt, got out of the car and came around to Christine's side, pulling her daughter from her seat.
Christine's cries became more agitated as Brennan tried to nurse her, her tiny arms flailing in all directions, her eyes alight with tears.
"I'm so sorry," she soothed, "I miss your daddy, too. But we have to do this, sweetheart."
As Christine quietened, Brennan felt her own tears break free and roll down her cheeks. She made no attempt to try and stop them.
On the side of an isolated road, the sun setting in the distance, her daughter nestled in her arms, Temperance Brennan felt two things.
She felt her mind let go as the feelings in her heart took over.
And she felt her heart break.
It wasn't her nightmare, she wasn't underground. Christine was safe and in her arms. She could breathe and they weren't running out of time. But clear as day, she remembered what it was like to be buried.
She had no choice but to have faith once again. Faith the Booth would save them.