Reality, once dulled by champagne and sheer relief, was back in sharp focus as they descended the Hoover side-by-side in the elevator. It felt like they were back at square one. While Brennan was free to resume her (their) life, Pelant still lurked in the shadows around them.

Brennan watched Booth clench and unclench his fists as he waiting for the lift to reach the garage. The twitch is his jaw was back, and if she had been standing closer she was sure she could have heard his back molars grinding together. Just an hour ago she had been able to kiss that twitch away, sooth the furrow between his brows with her fingertips. Now, she was afraid to even speak and leaned back against the elevator wall, away from him.

When the doors finally opened he burst out in the garage deck as if released from a cage and crossed to the driver's side of his truck in three large steps.

Sweets startled awake as Booth threw the door open.

"You're a lousy babysitter, Sweets."

"Hey, I haven't slept in three days! Besides, Christine is sound asleep, too. We were just, we're napping buddies." He rubbed his eyes blearily, gauging the agent's mood even though he was too exhausted to do anything about it. He had still been in his office when Caroline discovered Pelant's new identity and she demanded he stick around "just in case." No amount of talk therapy was going to fix this newest twist though, and for the first time Sweets considered prescribing Booth a shot of bourbon instead.

But Booth was already jamming the keying into the ignition, reclaiming the seat Sweets had stumbled from and showing strong signs of driving through the younger man if he didn't get out of the way quickly.

"Thank you for watching Christine, Sweets." Brennan honestly thanked him over the hood of the truck, reaching for her own door at a much slower, and he thought, more resigned pace.

He ducked his head a bit, "I'm sorry about, you know. We'll get him back, I'm not giving up. He can change his name, his identity, but he can't change his personality."

She spared a glance into the car at Booth who was impatiently tapping on the steering wheel, before nodding slowly in agreement but without any real conviction. Sweets finally turned away towards his own car, slumping into the seat as he heard Booth screech out into the night.

vvvvvvv

They rode back to the house in silence, partially out of deference to their sleeping daughter, but mostly because neither knew what to say.

There was, of course, plenty to say. Three months worth of unspoken words. Three months of heartache, and fear, loneliness and just… life. Because life had continued on even if their life had not. Booth eyed the evidence of this passage of time in the review mirror as he studied their ever-growing daughter clutching her stuffed rabbit closer in sleep. Maybe not everything had changed. Booth sighed in resignation and depressed the accelerator as he remembered that though he was angry and frustrated, his family's safety came first.

They reached the house quickly, there was no traffic at this time of night, and living in the suburbs now had some advantages. Turning into the driveway triggered the automatic floodlights Booth had installed after discovering Palent's little visits to their home, and Brennan blinked rapidly in surprise, the light breaking the stagnant mood of the car.

Before the garage door closed behind them they had jumped from the truck unable to sit in silence any longer. Both opened opposing back doors at the same time to release their daughter from her car seat: Booth, having fallen back into their nightly routine from before, Brennan out of routine from the last few months. She looked up in surprise as they both reached for the release across the backseat at the same time, before pulling her hand back as if burned.

She tried to stutter an explanation as she noticed the confusion on Booth's face but instead sighed and grabbed the diaper bag from the floor. She understood, she had always been a creature of routine herself, but now they're practicing different routines. She had been excited when Booth first found them in West Virginia, everything seemed to fall back into place so easily. But, she also understood now that Booth's few bitter comments and attempts to distract her from conversation with sex earlier tonight won't be the end of this matter. Especially not now that Pelant was free to threaten them again, albeit from afar, and keep the memory of these torturous last few months alive.

She moved slowly to close the car door and entered the house. Booth had moved quickly and already taken Christine upstairs to her crib, as task that she didn't expect to take very long since the baby was still dressed in pajamas from the first time they had put her down for the night.

Brennan sat in the kitchen for a bit, trying to make sense of Caroline's revelation. But she hadn't slept in days, months really so it all just floated around her head refusing to form any coherent thoughts. She eventually gave up hope that Booth would come back down to join her and moved through the house, turning off all the downstairs lights and double checking the locks before heading up.

A quick check in the nursery indicated that Christine was in fact still fast asleep and Booth was missing. If she was honest with herself, Brennan had half expected him to spend the night there. He had understandably been reluctant to separate from her all day, refusing Brennan's offer to call Max when they went to the Hoover and calling Sweets to meet them instead.

Brennan found him in the bathroom, clearly still agitated from their impromptu meeting and taking it out on his teeth with furious scrubbing. She imagined that if the gym was open at this hour he'd be attacking a boxing bag with the same ferocity. As she turned away to prepare herself for bed she noticed his gun on the nightstand. Ever a caution man, Brennan knew from their short time together that he always locked up his weapons in the safe for the night unless there was a serious threat. And even then he usually put it in the drawer out of a misguided attempt to make her feel less… something. He emerged from the bathroom to find her still staring at the gun.

"Sorry." He grabbed it quickly and shoved it into the drawer before turning to face her and awkwardly shoving his hands into the pockets of his sweatpants.

They stared at each other for a long moment, very aware that they were literally about to go to bed together for the first time in months. Brennan suddenly wished her robe wasn't still on the floor of the laundry room.

"I should lock up," Booth offered, stepping back towards the bedroom door.

"Oh, I did, before."

"Right." He turned back just a bit, clearly still too worked up to sleep. "There's still wet laundry that needs to be put in the dryer."

"We'll wash it again tomorrow." She knew he needed to do something, anything to feel in control of something, but it had been three months. All she wanted to do was crawl into the bed and pretend that it was just like any other night even though it sounded foolish. Besides, she planned on throwing all of those clothes, picked out of charity bins and consignment shops just like during her days in foster care, into the trash tomorrow. Maybe she would even send them down the Jeffersonian incinerator, just to make sure that part of her life, their life, was truly over.

She reached for the duvet cover and climbed in. "Please, Booth. It's been a very long day."

"It's two a.m., Bones. Day has barely just started." But he was already slipping in next to her, though he didn't expect to actually sleep.

She knew he would be unable to put the Pelant situation out of his mind, but there really was very little they could at this hour. Caroline and Flynn had both assured them of the fact. And at least he was surrounded by authorities for the night, American or not.

She turned on her side so she could lay her head on his chest, and twined her leg around his. She could feel the tension in his spine, his spirit.

"Marathon, not a sprint, right?" She knew offering comfort was his specialty, not hers. But, every night for three months she had made promises to gods she didn't believe in and to the universe and to him, that if she could just go home she wouldn't take their life for granted again. So tonight, she just wanted to lay here with him, and romanticize that things were normal. Whatever that meant.

"Marathon, not a sprint." He parroted the words back, but did not sound convinced.

Christine snuffled loudly and rolled over in her crib, drawing their attention to the video monitor. Booth watched her sleep for a few moments before finally letting out the breath he had been holding for months now, and tightened his arm around her.

He pressed a kiss into her hair, "Hey, Bones? Welcome home."