The stubborn line that creased her forehead told him all he needed to know. She was not going to make this easy on the hospital staff when they entered the door with wheelchair in tow. It had been a long week of ups and downs, but finally her doctor had released her to return home. There were conditions that he was sure she had conveniently tuned out even when she nodded her head in agreement. He had listened to every word though and was determined that one way or another he was going to make her follow every last directive the doctor had given. The thought of her ending back up in this place for even a moment made his heart quench with fear.
"No," she shook her head. "The doctor said I have recovered enough to be released so that will not be necessary."
"It's hospital policy, Dr. Brennan," the nurse repeated, already reaching for her arm to help her into the chair. "I am afraid you do not have a choice. Now, if Mr. Booth will gather your belongings and pull the car around, I can wheel you to the door and you can go home."
She immediately turned to him for support and when he saw her open her mouth to protest again, he quickly leaned down to cover her lips with his own. When they parted, he gave her a gentle smile. "Max has Christine at the house waiting on us. She's ready to see her mom, so let me go get the car and we can get home, okay?"
With a slight nod of her head, she pushed herself off the bed with both the nurse and Booth holding her arms as she turned to slide into the offensive chair. He kept his eyes trained on her as the nurse got her settled, watching for any signs of distress. A deep sigh had her wincing slightly, but she quickly reached for his hand. Seeing the worry on his face, she gave his hand a reassuring squeeze. "I'm okay, I promise. I'm just ready to see Christine and to be home, so go get the car." When he hesitated, she pulled on his arm to bring him down to her eye level. She gave a smile as she reached up to kiss him gently. "Go get the car, Booth."
Pulling slowly into their driveway, he looked over to see her resting her head against the back of the seat with her eyes firmly closed. Shifting the truck into park, he turned off the ignition and reaching over to gently brush her hair back from her face. His touch was enough to draw her out of her slumber. "Sorry," he frowned.
"No, it's fine," her voice cracked. "I was not planning to sleep on the ride home. I guess I was more tired than I thought."
"Well, you've had a long week, Bones," he exhaled slowly. "And you heard the doctor. You are still recovering, so you are going to have to take it easy for a little while."
"I know, Booth. You told me all of this at the hospital. I understand my limitations and I will stay within those until I am fully recovered. Now, can we go inside? I find I am quite anxious to see Christine."
He knew there were going to be heated discussions on this topic in the days ahead, but for now they could at least agree on their desire to see their daughter. Max had snuck her into the hospital a few times, but between Brennan's energy level and unrelenting nurses, the visits had been shorter than any of them had wanted. The passenger side door was already open when Booth made his way around to her side. When her unsteady feet hit the ground, he quickly snaked his arm around her waist to give her the support she needed. She was not happy needing the assistance, but leaned into him as he shut the door behind them and led them down the path to their front door. Using his free hand, he turned the key in the lock and let the door swing open.
"Honey, we're home," he called out gleefully, receiving an elbow to the ribs from Brennan as he led her to the couch. "You sit and I'll go find where Max has our daughter. I'm sure they are around here somewhere."
"Welcome home, sweetheart."
Both turned to see Max enter the living room with a smile that was only exceeded by the one worn by the little girl in his arms who began reaching for her father the moment she saw him. Kicking her feet against her grandfather, Max set her down to the floor, her little feet carrying her as quickly as she could toward him. Booth knelt to the floor just as Christine ran into his open arms. Wrapping her up in a hug, he stood back to his feet and made his way back to Brennan knowing how anxious she was to have Christine in her own arms.
"Hey baby girl," he kissed her chubby cheek. "Daddy missed you so much."
Easing her down carefully into Brennan's awaiting arms, he stood back and watched the tears build in her eyes as Christine's arms went around her neck. Rubbing soft circles on her back, she inhaled her daughter's sweet scent and tightened her arms around her small body. Booth sat down beside her, careful of her injured side as he covered her hand with his own on their daughter's back.
"I think someone is happy to have her mom home."
Max smiled at the reunion and gave a quick kiss to the crown of Brennan's head. "It's good to have you home, sweetheart. And now that you are, I think I am going to take off. Unless of course there is anything you need."
"We're good, Dad. I cannot thank you enough for taking care of her this week."
"Are you kidding me? I loved every minute of it." Smiling, he leaned down to press a kiss to Christine's cheek. "Christine has already had her bath and there is dinner in the oven when you're ready to eat."
"Thanks, Max." Booth nodded at the older man. "We really do appreciate all you've done."
"I would do anything for my family, you know that. Take care of my girl, Booth, and I'll see you both tomorrow."
As they heard the door close behind him, Brennan leaned Christine back and kissed her forehead as she turned her around to face Booth. "I know it's not logical, but it is like she has grown an inch in the past week. I know I saw her when dad brought her up to the hospital, but it feels like I have been separated from her for months."
Immediately realizing the weight of her words, the apology was on her lips as she turned to him. Before she could mouth a word, he had his finger pressed against her lips, nodding his head.
"Don't go there," he whispered. "If this week has taught me anything, it is to enjoy every single moment with the people I love and right now, I just want to be grateful that I have my two girls, two of the people I love most in this world, right here in my arms. Nothing else matters, Bones. Nothing."
Nodding her head in understanding, she rested her head on his shoulder, letting herself relax against him. It wasn't long before he was prodding her about eating dinner and taking her medication, despite her protests that she did not need the pain medication. He was not up for discussing the issue with her though as he returned from the kitchen with a plate full of food and a dessert of three separate pills of various shapes and sizes. She told him she would concede since it was her first night home, but not to expect to win this argument again. Smiling in victory, he pulled Christine from her lap, keeping one eye on her to make sure she ate, while he grabbed a bite of his own. Within minutes, Christine was asleep contently on her father's shoulder. Once they were both finished with dinner, he moved their plates to the table and said he was taking Christine to bed. Though she wanted to follow, Brennan knew he would protest and tell her to stay put.
As she waited for him to return, she eyed the dirty dinner plates that set on the coffee table in front of her. She heard the countless reminders from her doctor and from Booth that she was still recovering and there was little to nothing she was allowed to do until her stitches were finally removed, but what would it hurt to just put a couple of dishes in the kitchen sink. It wasn't like it was manual labor and she could be back on the couch before he even knew otherwise. However, what she didn't count on was the difficulty she would encounter just trying to get off the couch. After multiple attempts to stand normally failed, she decided rolling off on her good side was her only option. That too proved to be more than she had bargained for when she felt the agonizing pull of her stitches. She bit her lip to keep from crying out, but she realized she had not been as quiet as she had hoped when she heard Booth's hurried footsteps down the stairs as he came flying into the room.
"What the hell are you doing, Bones?" With a hand forcefully on her elbow, he helped her sit back upright, the pain clearly etched on her face. "Did you not hear the doctor before we left the hospital? You were shot barely a week ago and you are still healing."
"How was it that I had forgotten how overprotective you could be?" she winced as he eased himself down next to her.
"Hey, cut me some slack. I had to sit outside of an operating room, not once, but twice in the past week waiting on you. I think I've earned the right to be overprotective this time."
"You have a point, I guess," she sighed, leaning into him as he wrapped his arm around her. "Of course, I could just say that it was payback for the times you've made me watch you go into an operating room. On second thought, why don't we just call it even and agree that neither one of us go back into an operating room again anytime soon."
"Or ever," he grunted, linking his fingers through her hand that rested on his chest. "I don't want to have another week like this again for as long as I live."
"I'm sorry, Booth. If I had just stayed home that night and not gone back to the lab, none of this would have happened."
"No Bones, it was my fault. I shouldn't have gotten angry about you not wanting to take a vacation. I should have listened to you because you were right. Christine is still too young and she would be happier at home. I'm sorry that you thought I said you were a bad mother because nothing could be further from the truth. You are a great mother and Christine is so lucky to have you. That's what I was coming to the lab to tell you. I came so close to letting my pride stop me and if I hadn't been there…if that had been the last thing you heard me say…"
Reaching her hand to the side of his face, she turned him toward her to look her in the eyes. "Booth, I'm right here. I'm okay. I may have overacted and let my own insecurities dictate my actions that night. I am still adjusting to this…to us…and sometimes I do not handle things the way I should. I know you only have mine and Christine's best interest at heart and time away together as a family is a perfectly acceptable thing to want for our family."
"But you were right and at her age, she is more comfortable at home. Maybe when you're up for it, we can take her to the park for the day and feed the ducks. She will like that."
"No, I want to take her to the ocean," she gave him a teasing smile. "Maybe just for a couple of days? That would be a good compromise, right? And we could make some good memories?"
"Yeah," he nodded with a grin. "That would be nice, Bones. We can start making some plans in a few weeks when it warms up a bit." Despite her best attempts, she couldn't stop the yawn that escaped signaling what her tired eyes were already saying. "For now though, I think it's time to get you to bed. I think we could both use some sleep." He stood first, holding out his hands to her to help ease her off the couch.
"I want to check on Christine first." She winced as she felt the stitches begin to pull again when he helped her to her feet. "I'm just sore, Booth. Don't look so worried. The doctor would not have released me to come home if he had been uncertain about my recovery."
"I know, I just don't like seeing you in pain."
Wrapping an arm around her waist, he led her up the stairs slowly, stopping occasionally when he saw her eyes pinch in discomfort. After slipping into Christine's room to see her still peacefully asleep, he helped her to their room and set her down on the edge of the bed. Raising her arms, he pulled her shirt up carefully over her head. His fingers traced the edge of the bandage that still covered the wound site where the bullet had penetrated her body. She saw the fear residing on his face so she reached for his hand to give his fingers a reassuring squeeze.
"It will heal," she whispered.
"That night," he searched her eyes. "When you said that Christine was too young to remember things, is that really true?"
"Booth, if this is about the vacation again, I agreed that some time away would be good for us. We can start making plans now if you want."
"No," he shook his head adamantly. "It's not about the vacation. It's about Christine. She won't remember things she sees or things she hears at her age, right?"
"Most likely not. Children her age usually would not retain conscience access to memories. What is this about?"
"She was there," he sighed, sitting down next to her. "She saw you lying on the floor. She saw all that blood and she heard me panicking, telling you to stay with me. I close my eyes at night and I still hear her cries, Bones, and it terrifies me to think that she is going to remember anything about that night."
"Christine is fine, Booth," she tried to reassure him. "If she was having any sort of reaction it would manifest itself in her behavior or her sleep pattern and my dad says she's been fine these last few days. You saw her tonight as well. She was happy and playful, showing no signs of any kind of distress. I promise you, she is too young to have been able to process what she saw and heard, so you do not have to worry."
"Okay," he sighed. "I just want to protect her, you know? I was young too, but I still remember my dad and my mom and…it just still haunts me sometimes and I don't want that for our daughter. I want her to have a better childhood than either one of us had. She deserves that."
Her fingers traced his jaw as she held his face in her hands. "Seeley Booth, you are the best man I have ever known and our daughter is so very fortunate to have you for a father."
"I love you," he whispered with a crooked smile, leaning his forehead against hers.
Pressing a soft kiss to his lips, she returned his smile. "I love you too. Now if it's not too much to ask, could you please help me dress so we can go to bed?"
Realizing he had left her half clothed, he couldn't help but laugh with her. "Sorry, I got distracted. You have a way of doing that to me."
"Always my fault, isn't it?" she teased as he made his way to the dresser to find her something to wear.
"Of course. You've been doing that since the day I met you, but I must confess, I am so very thankful that now I can do something about it."
"Oh really," she taunted as he slipped one of his t-shirts over her head. "And just what do you have in mind?"
"No way, Bones," he shook his head stubbornly. "Don't even think about it."
"Booth, I know I am not in any condition to have intercourse with you. I was just saying I wanted to know what you had in mind. You know, give me something to look forward to."
Pulling back the covers, he helped her slide up the bed to rest her head on her pillow. Leaning over her, his lips hovered just above hers. "Why don't we just sleep for now and table that discussion for another day."
Her eyes began to flutter with drowsiness as he kissed her gently, pulling the covers up over her. Moving to his side of the bed, he stripped off his shirt and jeans and climbed in beside her. He carefully slid his arms around her and she snuggled back into his warmth. Kissing the space just below her ear, he heard her sigh in contentment. With moments her slow breathing signaled she had fallen fast asleep in his arms. And he wouldn't have it any other way.