Merry Christmas, Amilyn. I hope this is something you would be glad to open under the tree. I haven't been writing long and I have never written to order! So nervous... Anyway, here it is, a story that tries to "address the problematic nature of Max watching Christine when Brennan clearly does not trust him and Booth acknowledging his understanding of how stressful and discomforting it is for Brennan to let her father, who left her, watch Christine and to try and trust him with that." I think I may interpret that a little differently than you intended, but I hope I avoided your specific pitfalls. Despite my nervousness, it was a pleasure to try to shape a story that I had to tell out of this. I do hope you like it. Best wishes, Michele (threesquares and of course, on twitter: at-threesquares)
"What did you call Max when you were a kid?" Booth asked from his place at the sink, washing dishes.
Brennan dropped back down onto her heels having managed to get the platter she had dried back on the top shelf of the cupboard, and responded with an abstracted, "What, Booth?"
"What did you call Max when you were a kid? I mean, did you call him 'Dad' or what'? I can see you calling him by his first name but I guess I just figured that came later..." Booth trailed off, but still turned his head her way to look at her as she answered, despite continuing to scrub the last stubborn pot.
"I don't remember, Booth. Probably 'Dad'. Yes, I am certain I called him Dad."
There was just a hint of...something, in Brennan's voice when she answered. Tiredness, maybe, or irritation, but he couldn't tell. This wasn't a topic she was interested in, that was for sure. Then again, talking about Max was never something she wanted to do. He stayed quiet, interested in her answer, although there was just enough time taken before she answered that Booth was pretty sure she hadn't told him everything. Sure enough, she had more to say, although not exactly on the topic of names.
"Speaking of my father, he wants to take Christine tomorrow." He watched her open the silverware drawer and slide a couple forks into place. She lingered, straightening flatware that didn't need to be straightened.
"What for?" Booth asked.
"Well, he says that she needs her Grandpa time and that he would like to give us a day off, to spend together." She looks up at him now, finally meeting his eyes with a small smile growing on her face. That smile. Irrepressible and grudgingly allowed, it curved one side up before the other, like it had to creep up on her unawares. And yet when she laughed, she laughed with her whole body, and all of a sudden. It was infectious, and even when he didn't feel like laughing with her, he couldn't help but feel lighter, happier, when she laughed. It had always been that way. She sounded so young when she laughed.
Right now, though, she wasn't laughing, she was smiling. At him. "I would like to have some time alone with you. Perhaps after they are gone, we could go back to bed." Her eyes are hopeful and shining from where she peered up at him. She never was very bashful about sex, but bring emotion into it, bring the idea of love-making into it, and her whole attitude changed.
Booth dried his hands on the balled up towel on the counter and moved right up against her, locking his hands behind her back and pulling her into him. "Oh, yeah? You want to go back to bed, Bones?" He leaned into her and started nuzzling her neck. She tipped her head obligingly to the side so he could reach better. "You think we'll be sleepy tomorrow?" Brennan made a sound between a laugh and a moan, as Booth slipped his hand up under her shirt to touch bare skin and moved his mouth to her throat, gently kissing and stroking her skin with his lips.
"Oh, baby, you smell so good, feel so good to me." He muttered.
"Booth, don't call me that." she complained, but her hands threaded their way through his hair, holding him to her.
In the next room, Christine's chatter, still mostly happy, started to rise in volume and...attitude. Both parents acquiesced to the inevitable but stole one last moment pressed close together: Brennan hugging Booth with her arms around his big, warm, strong, Boothy body "Mine." she smiled to herself smugly and Booth still stroking the skin of her lower back with his fingers, vaguely worried that he might be scratching her soft skin with hands still rough from last weekend's outdoor work. Moving slightly from where he rested his chin atop her head, he kissed her hair and whispered, "Baby."
Brennan smiled into his throat and pinched him. "Cut that out."
"Hey!" Booth moved away, rubbing his side where she had caught some bare skin. "Bones..." he complained. "That's not nice." Before she could head to the living room to start their evening routine, he asked, "so you're going to tell Max yes? About tomorrow?"
Brennan hesitated, clearly reluctant. "I would like to..."
Booth pushed a little more. "What is stopping you, Bones?"
"I don't know, Booth. He loves her, is very careful with her, and I know he is back in my life permanently. I know that, but it is very difficult for me to trust him completely."
Booth came closer to her again where she stood in the doorway. He reached out with one hand and rubbed her back and neck a little, letting her know he was listening, that he was on her side.
Her neck loosened and her head dropped back a little. "Oh, Booth, why do I always feel this way when you touch me? I forget what I'm thinking about. Nothing else seems very important. Everything seems better. Suddenly Max seems like the most trustworthy person in the world."
Booth smiled at the compliment, even though she sounded a little irritated about feeling this way. "Bones, he left you. That leaves its mark, but he didn't kidnap anyone. What do you think is going to happen if he has Christine?" Fingers still massaging lightly, he held her gaze, warm brown eyes intent on doubtful blue ones.
"I...I think I do not trust his judgment. I think that he should have taken us with him. I think, I know that I could have thrived in a home schooling situation and Russ could hardly have done any worse. I know that my father was worried that being in proximity to him and my mother would put us in danger but knowing what I know now, working as your partner, I find it hard to believe that he would really give up control that way. I think he would want to be there to protect us; I think he probably didwant to be there. He said my mother was the one who really thought we were safer without them. Why didn't he insist?
So now, when...when he wants...or when I see him...I feel..." Brennan trails off. Any other woman, Booth thinks, would run her hand through her hair, or fiddle with something. Bones was often unnaturally still when she was most agitated, so he swooped in and kissed her softly, sucking her bottom lip into his mouth a little and sweeping his tongue along the crease of her lips until she relaxed into him, sharing a few more stolen kisses without deepening them. Keeping his hands on her, thumb brushing her cheek gently, he pulled away finally and prompted. "What do you feel, Bones?"
"I don't know, Booth. I'm not rational when it comes to my father. I know, rationally, I need to accumulate a new history with him, as my father, as Christine's grandfather. I need to have a series of positive experiences, or at least not negative ones, so that it will stop being quite so hard to trust him with her-" Brennan trails off as Christine lets out an angry bleat for attention.
"I've got her, Bones. Here, sit down. I'll bring her to you." Booth scooped the little girl up from where she lay on her back, stuffed black, red, and white toys dangling above her on the soft play gym. Rubbing his face and pressing his nose into her stomach while making growling sounds, he made her laugh-breathy belly laughs from inside her tiny, precious body. Booth laughed too and looked over at Brennan, who smiled at them both and reached out for her daughter. Christine, one moment happy with her father, had only to see her mother reaching for her to voice her displeasure at the distance between them.
"Why, hello Christine. Hello, little girl." Brennan spoke softly, lifting her shirt and sliding Christine in smoothly to lay against her to nurse. Christine latched on easily and greedily, ready for dinner and bed. Booth squeezed into the corner of the couch Brennan had left him, drawing her against his side a little more firmly. Booth reached out one finger and stroked Christine's cheek, still amazed by, but by now familiar with, the tide of joy rising up in him.
"Hey, Baby!" Max grinned at Brennan, leading forward quickly to kiss her on the check. "Booth, how you doing there, Daddy?" Drawn like a magnet to where Booth is carrying Christine, he tweaked her little nose, making her blink, and gripped Booth's elbow in greeting, still smiling. "You ready, baby girl? You wanna go with Grandpa? We're going to have fun today!" He reached out and gathered Christine to him. Her little head in its tight purple cotton cap swiveled to look behind her where Booth was but then she looked back at Max when he waved his fingers at her.
"Dad, we'll be available on our cell phones all day, even if we go out, you know that, right?" Brennan laid out the details of her day like a shield. "Everything Christine might need is in the bag and Booth will put the stroller in the back of your car. Where...where are you taking her?" Booth could see the anxiety pulsing through her, most of it nerves over letting Christine go with someone else, anyoneelse, although some directed at Max.
If Max felt it, he ignored it. "Well," he said, talking to the baby, "first we are going to take a walk in the park. Aren't we, Christine? Would you like that?" He had to give it to Max, Booth thought, he didn't really do baby talk. He was more like Bones when talking to Christine, speaking as if to a very tiny adult. "Then," and now he looked up at Brennan, including her, asking for her input, "I am open to suggestions. I know she'll need naps and I have a portacrib all set up at my apartment. I thought I'd go to lunch at the diner. They all know her there and she'll have a bunch of people to look at and talk to." Max played with Christine's socked feet. "The other day, I was talking to your friend Angela and she was telling me about an outdoor concert. I thought Christine might like listening to the music."
Brennan looked reluctantly approving, and maybe a little bit put out Max had not mentioned a Monster Truck Rally or a rave. "That sounds nice, Dad. If you are out with her, in the park, when she falls asleep, that's ok. She can sleep in the stroller, just make sure the sun isn't on her, and she's covered up. It's warm out, but not that warm." Booth stepped in behind her, hand in the small of her back. Brennan looked up at him, noting automatically how handsome he looked, Saturday whiskers and all, and reveled in the warmth pouring off him at her back. He smelled like syrup and Booth, and she smiled with her eyes, and he smiled with his mouth, dimple winking into existence, and suddenly, she felt a little better.
A knowing smile on his face, Max took this opportunity to gather Christine's things and whisk her out the door. Booth followed, folding and stowing Christine's stroller in the back of Max's car. When Booth returned, Brennan was standing at the window, watching them leave. She expected him to try to talk to her about how she was feeling but instead, before she could read his intention, his mouth was on hers, hot and insistent, his body pressing her into the corner. Pride and passion roused, Brennan pushed back, met his open mouth with her own. And he groaned.
Three hours later, having gone back to bed and even slept a little, Booth was rewiring a lamp in front of a televised baseball game and Brennan was in the window nook nearby, doing a puzzle. The luxury of engaging in such relatively unproductive tasks, and doing them together was something they were both aware of. Booth sometimes would shout something at the TV and Brennan would smile. When Booth went to the kitchen to get himself a beer, he asked if she wanted some tea. He was just shutting the refrigerator door when he heard the front door open and saw Max enter, carrying Christine.
"Dad!" Brennan was up in an instant, hurrying toward him, arms outstretched for her daughter.
"Tempe, Tempe, slow down, everything's all right. Christine is fine, but..." Max carefully transferred the sleeping infant to his daughter's arms.
"But what, Dad?" Brennan insisted.
"Well, honey, I don't know. She just...wasn't herself. I don't know. She just didn't seem as lively as she usually is. She doesn't seem warm really but she has been asleep almost the whole time I've had her. I kept kind of talking myself out of worrying, but she just didn't seem like herself and I figured...well, I guess I figured you'd want to know."
Brennan felt Christine's forehead with the back of her hand, and then brought her lips down for a better read. She looked up at Booth, hovering nearby. "She seems a little warm, Booth, but not really feverish."
"Well, Bones, she's growing," he said, "and she's a baby, can't really tell us what's going on. Why don't you put her down for a while, let her sleep, and we can check on her in half an hour. C'mon. You go put her down, and your Dad and I'll have a beer and start lunch." He leaned forward and kissed his daughter on the head. "See you when you wake up, babycakes."
Brennan bundled Christine up the stairs, and Booth turned to Max. "Want a sandwich?"
Max turned away from the stairs, from watching his daughter. "Sure, sure. I'd love one. Thanks, Booth."
When Brennan returned, Max was chopping vegetables for the salad and Booth was pulling leftover chicken and a selection of salad dressings out of the refrigerator.
"How's she doing, Tempe?" Max shot her a sideways glance.
Brennan stopped at his side, put her hand on his arm. "Fine, I think. Thanks, Dad. For bringing her back. I...know how much you were looking forward to this, but she does seem a little warm to me. Maybe she's getting sick and if so, I would rather know as soon as possible." She smiled tentatively and pressed his arm a little with her fingers.
From where Booth was standing he could see Max's face light up with real emotion. He could also see Brennan back off when she realized it too. She pressed his arm one more time and then turned away briskly, tucking a strand of long hair behind her ear and reaching up for the big salad bowl.
Hours later, Max insisted on going grocery shopping for them, considering that he hadn't been able to give them a day to themselves. Booth hated grocery shopping and it was his turn, so he accepted gratefully. Christine did, indeed, have a little fever and a runny baby nose so Brennan added to the list a Bulb Syringe (Booth insisted that it was really called a "Nose Sucker"). So far, Christine's main symptoms had been a little fever and a lot of sleeping.
"Booth?" Brennan asked from where she was folding laundry.
"My father. He...was...very..." Booth waited patiently while Brennan searched for words, "...trustworthy, today." She looked down, smoothing the tiny folded onesie on the table, and then back up at him, her look asking something of him. "Do you know what I mean?"
"I know what you mean, Bones."
She looked relieved but then continued talking, words coming fast, tumbling over one another. "I feel very conflicted. Maybe I should have known she was ill. Maybe I shouldn't have let her go. Why do I feel bad that he did the right thing? I'm glad he brought her back but I feel...jealous that he was the one to notice, to be with Christine, and...I don't know what else to say."
"Hey, hey, Bones, it's okay." Booth moved to take her hands. "Feelings are just feelings. They are interesting, might tell you something, but they aren't always right. They are just one thing to consider. Think of it this way. You did a good thing. You brought someone into Christine's life who knows her, watches out for her. You did that, even though you didn't feel entirely comfortable with it. It's like you said, you are building a new history with your father. You did a good thing today." He repeated.
Brennan allowed herself a long, quiet look in Booth's eyes. He looked back, confident and calm. Finally, she nodded a little and leaned into him. He pressed his hand to the back of her neck and hugged her, lips buried in her hair, just enjoying the feeling of being needed by her, by his partner.
Some time later, Brennan stood at the window once again, giving her father a wave through the glass and rocking Christine gently. The baby was awake and relatively alert, and Brennan helped her wave a little fist at her grandfather as he got into his car. "Yes, Christine. That's your grandfather. Wave to Grandpa." Another little wave and Brennan watched the red of the taillights disappear around the corner. "Your grandfather is my father. You have your Daddy," Brennan's eyes were wistful and far away for a minute, before she finished, "and I have my Daddy."