RositaLG is not a big fan of babies all up in her show/fic. Naturally, this meant that while she was here, my muse went, "Babies? GREAT idea." And this happened. So anyone else who is not-a-big-fan-of-babies, maybe opt out of this update.
demythologise, v.: Not every story needs to have a villain. Too often we create them, just to feel our lives have a plot.
She gets pregnant again. It's something they've actually discussed this time (high five, Bones! one for three!) but it still happens far more quickly than she had expected and she is forced to conclude that Booth's sperm is every bit as contrary as Booth himself.
He's happy. She's known him for so many years and he's possibly the only person she reads well enough to (mostly) trust her gut instinct. Trust that even when he tells her he's fine and she has no valid reason not to believe him, if it feels wrong, if he feels wrong, something probably is.
So while she knows he's happy, there's sadness as well. And every so often she catches this wistful look on his face and she feels as if she would trade anything in the world to just know why it's there.
They add to the nursery. Paint the walls a soft and comforting shade of green. Christine gets underfoot – they try to get things accomplished after her bedtime but it's like she senses how much they need her to sleep because she just won't – and when they fall into bed at 5am, laughing a tad hysterically due to their exhaustion, Booth runs a hand through her hair and begins to laugh all over again.
She laughs because she's tired. She laughs because he laughs. She laughs because in these moments he's with her, one hundred percent, and though she doesn't lose sight of the fact that there is something missing with him, she finds it difficult to focus on anything outside the good flowing between them. They survive, even when it's hard. She has nearly twelve years of data to support this. But it still feels good to laugh.
When she arrives at the lab, Angela makes an offhand comment about her new 'punk' style and Brennan realises that there are flecks of green paint in her ponytail.
And Booth's laughter from 5am suddenly makes sense.
("Why didn't you tell me I had paint in my hair?"
"It's adorable, Bones. Besides, we were in such a hurry this morning, I forgot.")
A month passes in this fashion. Being pregnant is a little more annoying this time around because she's as big as she had been the first time, only, she has a three year old and it turns out three year olds are damn fast.
But she makes it. They all make it. And through it all she feels Booth withdrawing slowly. Baby steps inching away from her, toward her, away from her. And the seesaw leaves her feeling more nauseous than the pregnancy.
Christine gets sick nine days before Brennan's due date, and the very same day, a body turns up at the Lincoln Memorial.
She stays with her daughter, and she contributes as much as she can from home while Booth divides his time between the field with Sweets and the lab with Cam/the interns. After some careful manoeuvring, Brennan settles on the couch with her daughter's head on her thigh and her laptop placed on her other side, and for the better part of an hour, this works; she can stroke Christine's hair as she sleeps, the close to constant ache in her lower back is somewhat lessened by the pillows arranged behind her, and there is plenty of productive data exchanged between her and the rest of the team.
When Christine stirs, Brennan is well prepared. She has medicine, water, dry cereal and diluted juice already laid out on the coffee table, and though she's aware of exactly how ill her daughter is, it still tugs at her heart a little bit when Christine can't even muster the strength to protest the bitter children's medication in the stubborn manner to which Brennan is accustomed.
"Mommy?" Christine mumbles.
There's no verbal reply. Brennan takes one look at Christine's face and knows what's coming next, and though she had possessed the foresight to bring over a small wastepaper basket, she can't move quickly enough to reach it. She closes her eyes and gives herself a mental kick as Christine throws up all over the living room floor and then immediately bursts into tears.
"It's okay," she soothes, rubbing her hand in calming circles over Christine's small back. "Would you like some water, or will that make you sick again?"
Christine shrugs helplessly and Brennan pulls her closer. "Try a little bit of water, okay?"
Christine sniffles, but she's forced to stop crying in order to take careful sips from the plastic cup Brennan holds for her. Once that's done, Brennan arranges Christine's arms around her neck.
"Let's get you into the bath."
"You're going to have to help me a little bit," she instructs softly, gently tapping Christine's leg.
Christine knows this drill by now and she wraps her legs around her mother compliantly. With her weight now a little more evenly distributed, Brennan is able to lift her with relative ease.
It's easy to maintain perspective as she bathes her daughter, redresses her, and settles her downstairs on the couch once more. But by the time she's on the floor and scrubbing the carpet, Brennan can't help wishing she could trade places with Booth.
The guilt is immediate and she banishes the thought from her mind, and soon the carpet is clean, Christine is awake again and in need of her attention, and her perspective slips (relatively) neatly into place.
By the time Booth comes home, her back is throbbing painfully from hours of awkward bending, but Christine has been put to bed and though she and Booth are in one of their more complicated phases right now, she knows that he will take care of anything else their daughter needs tonight. The only thing that will stop her from sleeping is the seven and a half pound fetus pressed against her pelvis, and she's glad that they can work so well together even when it feels as if they'd rather not work with one another at all.
Two days later, Booth is still working their case and Christine is still ill. It makes sense that Brennan is the one to stay home; they generally take turns but the lab has already begun making adjustments in preparation of her upcoming maternity leave, and as a rule their team does not play well with other agents. Rationally, it's an easy decision to make. Irrationally, there's still the (increasingly difficult to suppress) notion that Booth is getting the better end of this arrangement, even though she knows it can't be helped.
She's moving Christine up to the master bedroom in the hopes that she can join her in an evening nap, when the key turns in the front door and Booth comes in much earlier than she had expected him.
"Hi," she whispers.
"Hey." Booth is already frowning as he tosses his coat in the direction of the couch and immediately moves to take Christine out of her arms. "Bones, you shouldn't be carrying her."
"She's sick," Brennan responds tiredly. "She's uncomfortable, she can barely lift her head... I have a degree in kinesiology; I know how to lift her without injuring myself."
"I know. It just makes me nervous... you lose your balance sometimes-
"Booth, when I am the one staying home with her, I will take care of her my way. When you are staying home with her, you are welcome to carry her or not carry her as you see fit."
"You know that's not what I'm saying. It's not the same thing."
She's too tired to have a normal discussion – let alone an argument – with him right now. But she's not about to back down on this. So she leans against the banister and raises her chin, and hopes that if she stares at him long enough he'll give up on this and leave her the hell alone. She's irritated enough right now not to care one little bit whether or not she upsets him. Because she feels punch-drunk from lack of sleep and it's her turn to be moody and sullen beyond all reason.
The frown marring his features deepens. "You look awful."
His only reply is a shake of his head before he gestures her forward and follows her up the stairs. When they reach the second floor, Booth stops her with a hand to her hip.
"Do you want her with you, or in her room?"
Brennan stands quietly as she weighs the two options, and Booth automatically begins to oscillate when Christine shifts in his arms.
"Are you going back to work tonight?"
He shakes his head again. "No. Not unless the lab calls."
"Her room is fine."
She watches him disappear into the bedroom down the hall before she turns into their room and closes the door. She thinks about changing her clothes, or possibly removing them entirely, but both options seem time consuming. So she climbs into bed and closes her eyes, and though she doesn't sleep, she listens to Booth move throughout the house they built together and is soothed by how well she knows this space.
It becomes obvious to her the next time her eyes flutter open that she must have drifted off, but it's still light outside, and for a minute she stays buried under the covers and lets her eyes flit aimlessly around the room. Two socked feet are crossed at the ankle just below her belly, and she follows them off the bed, into a chair, and finally up to Booth's face watching her intently.
"What are you doing?" she laughs huskily.
Booth shrugs. "Working. Keeping you company. Are you hungry?"
She burrows deeper into the blankets. "I ate just before you came home. But thank you."
Booth tosses the file in his lap onto the nightstand and then slides into the bed beside her. Brennan shuffles over to make room, and once they've settled on the pillows, bodies tangled together as much as her pregnancy will allow, he gives her a sheepish grin.
"I sort of skipped saying hello and jumped right into lecturing, didn't I?"
"Greetings were exchanged," she counters. "To be honest, my mind feels very... average... right now. It's possible I wouldn't have retained a more in depth discourse."
"I don't know about that; you managed to put me in my place just fine."
The smile playing across his mouth grows and it's infectious, so she smiles as well and they're right where they should be with one another.
"She woke up a few minutes before you did, but she's out again."
"You sure you don't want us to switch tomorrow?"
It's tempting. It really is. But they've divided the work this way for a reason. So she tells him as much even though she'd like to agree.
"This is the arrangement that makes sense," she says simply.
Booth puts an arm around her and tugs her closer, and she inhales his familiar smell.
"I love you," he declares, pressing a kiss against her forehead.
"I know, Booth."
"Try to sleep."
"Then we'll just lie here a while."
The baby is born at home. Brennan still feels strongly about this and though there is a great deal of debate (just as there had been the last time), Booth is the one who gives. She can tell that the idea makes him uncomfortable right up until she goes into labour, but he has to agree that it's less stressful (for him) than delivering their child in a barn. So there's that.
Afterward, he admits to her that it hadn't been as messy as he had envisioned. Plastic sheeting is set up before she delivers and taken down quickly and efficiently afterward, and their home still looks like their home by the time the trained professionals are out the door and they're alone. And she's comfortable. Happy. He sits next to her on their bed and they memorise the features of the newest addition to their family, and it's them against the world until Hodgins and Angela bring Christine back to the house along with the rest of their team and her father.
And they're good for a time. So good for so long that memory fades and Brennan begins to question whether or not any of it had truly been as off as it had seemed. But that is the way these things tend to go with them; they can go from this to wrong and back again in the span of a few weeks, and the emotional whiplash is the one thing she hasn't quite managed to get used to even after all this time.
In the end, it's the mundane task of washing dishes that loops them back around to where they had been when it had first struck her that there was something not quite right. The dishwasher's broken, thanks to Christine and Michael-Vincent playing house under the not-so-careful-supervision of her father. They have plans to replace it over the weekend but they just don't have the time during the week, so Brennan washes and Booth rinses, and they chat amicably about their growing progeny's latest doctor's appointment until Brennan has a thought.
"Christine was approximately this age when you had her baptised... have you already made the arrangements?"
Booth doesn't flinch. He doesn't look at her either, though. And as he casually removes a plate from the hot water and places it in the draining bin to his right, something clicks into place.
Hot and cold. Moments of intimacy bracketed by moments of polite, platonic, sometimes cool distance.
If I get scared, I'll hug you.
There's a line.
I believe in giving this a chance.
I've gotta move on.
Brennan can understand the correlation between fear and distance. She can understand a pattern she recognises from a time long ago when he hadn't been able to strike a balance between wanting her and protecting himself. It hits her so hard she feels physically winded, and it's partially because it seems so simple now, it upsets her that she hadn't figured it out before. But it's also partially because he's let this fester for nearly half a year and if there had ever been anything he should have just discussed with her, this would be it.
"I figure I've had my turn, Bones. We're equal parents who believe in two different things... I got one kid, you get the other. Fair is fair and all that, right?"
Brennan hesitates with her arm half extended to drop the pot she's just washed into his sink. "You believe in an afterlife."
"Yeah. I do."
"I know, Bones," he chuckles. "I was there."
"I do not believe in God. The ceremony only means something to me because I know it means something to you."
Booth takes the pot out of his sink and balances it in the dish rack. "There you go then. We don't need to have one."
They work in silence as she organises her argument. And just when Booth thinks she's going to leave it alone (because though he should know better, he always has this moment where he thinks she might, this once, leave it alone), she starts the conversation again.
"You do believe in God. And heaven and hell and baptisms. I am finding it difficult to believe that you could be satisfied saving the soul of one child and not the other."
"I'm not mocking you! I'm serious. Your inconsistency is unsettling."
The dishes are abandoned and their eye contact becomes a battle of wills, because while their thoughts are in the same place, they're both equally convinced that the other should be the one to come out and say it.
It's been almost twelve years, but there are still days when on a maturity scale, it feels more like one.
Unfortunately, the baby takes the decision out of their hands by demanding to be fed, and they're forced to call a draw. By the time Brennan returns, Booth has finished the dishes and disappeared from the kitchen. Before she can find him she gets a call from Cam regarding their case and some markings Brennan had found earlier that day, and because Brennan and Booth's timing is as impeccable as it has always been, the issue goes unresolved.
She corners him in his office. Booth's guard is down because they're in professional territory, so he barely looks up when she closes the door behind her because the only thing he's expecting is a progress report on their case.
He waves a stack of papers in her direction. "Can you explain this to me? Cam brought these over but we didn't get a chance to review them. Most of it's pretty clear but-
"What happened with Christine was an anomaly. You can't behave as if you're expecting me to run off with our children. It's not fair."
As always, once Brennan decides on a course of action, she is all in.
Booth stares blankly for a moment, but once he's forced to conclude that this exchange is not, in fact, a terrible dream, he clears his throat and drops the documents on his desk.
"I don't think that, Bones."
There's a flash of confusion across her face. Followed by uncertainty and exasperation and finally anger. Then she falls roughly into the chair across from him. "Then what is your problem?"
He wants to assure her that that the thought has never crossed his mind. He also wants to tell her the truth. The problem with this is, these are opposing approaches and the truth is embarrassing.
Because it is not a matter of trust. It is a matter of living wide and accepting pain and being strong because of it, and a host of other ideals he has tried to impart on her over the years without ever fully learning how to embrace them himself.
So he deflects. Because he just needs a moment longer to think.
"Is this about the baptism?"
But Brennan cannot stand the thought of dancing around this issue any longer. And the transparency of his attempt causes frustration and anger to swell together inside of her.
"This is about not trusting your partner and punishing me for something that occurred more than three years ago. I can't change what happened, Booth. And you should have considered your feelings on this before we agreed to have another child."
She sits back in the chair, though her body language is still screaming confrontation. Her eyes are bright and he watches her chest rise and fall furiously with each breath, and though the odds are high she'll reject the contact, he rounds his desk, sits in the chair beside her, and pulls it close until his knee is brushing hers.
"I trust you," he says lowly. Sincerely. And a little bit of the fire in her eyes is replaced with relief. Though she's still very careful to ignore the physical connection he's trying to establish. "Bones, it happened, okay? Like you said, there's no changing it. And we have a good thing going."
"Then explain to me why you don't want a baptism. Explain to me why I keep catching you looking at me like-
"Like I'm expecting it to all fall apart? Come on, Bones. You don't need me to explain that to you. You know what that feels like."
His voice is so soft, and he's looking at her in that way which makes her feel as if he's seeing through to the very core of her being. And most of the fight goes out as quickly as it had come.
"It's you," she says tentatively. "Not me."
There is a great deal of room for this to be misinterpreted, but this is not going to be one of those days for them. She's taken her own experiences with fear and waiting, the emotions that have little to do with Booth and everything to do with how she processes, and she's applied these to him. And he understands.
"You can't choose to just… not talk about things that concern me as well as you." She's resigned now more than anything else and it makes Booth feel guilty, because there are few feelings worse than the thought that someone you love very much may be giving up. "It makes you angry when I have difficulty sharing my feelings. But I believe I feel more… sad… than angry. Though there is anger as well."
His hand begins to trace patterns over her knee and she wishes he'd stop. It makes it difficult for her to concentrate, but she doubts he would even realise he's doing it unless she pulls away. And then it would become a rejection.
Being in a relationship is, on occasion, much harder than living alone had ever been.
But Booth notices her discomfort and consciously relaxes his fingers. "I get being angry. And… sad."
In their ensuring silence, the chatter outside his closed door seems louder. The phones seem shriller. Booth is pretty sure he can hear the spider occupying the far corner spinning its web.
"Are we damaged, Booth?"
And he hears the real question. How damaged. How many more days, weeks, months, years before this is okay.
"A little." He shrugs. "It's a mark, Bones. Marks add character."
"We have a great deal of character."
"That we do."
Her knee moves half an inch in his direction. The motion is small, but he understands this, too.
"We should have a baptism," she says.
"We will. I shouldn't have said that, Bones. You caught me off guard... I wasn't quite ready to think about it."
Once the initial sting has had a chance to fade, the difficult part is no longer forgiving one another for stupid things said in the heat of the moment. Which is good, because they both have the tendency to say and do a lot of stupid things. So Brennan relaxes in her chair.
"I would like it if in the future, you would simply tell me you need space. It's less worrisome."
"I don't ever want space when it comes to you." Booth pauses and wavers slightly as he thinks this over. "I rarely want space when it comes to you," he amends. "Mostly, I just occasionally need a little time."
Brennan absorbs this and then nods. "Time is... acceptable. Sometimes I require time as well."
The tension in the room lessens by a degree, and Brennan picks up the sheaf of papers sitting on Booth's desk. Because, even now, there are days when baby steps are best.
Booth leans forward. "Thirteen. This little chart here..."
She begins a thorough explanation of the data, and when she stands to return to the lab, he stands as well and pulls her into a quick, impulsive hug. His face presses into her hair, and she smiles.
"I'll see you around, Booth," she says casually as she pulls away and opens his office door.
The confident smirk he gives her in return makes her stomach flutter. "See you around, Bones."