Wow, thank you guys so much for all the follows and reviews! The reception has really blown me away! I enjoyed hearing everyone's thoughts about the finale, as well as your ideas for this story. I hope I can incorporate them into later chapters. I will also try to reply to everybody who reviewed, though it may take me a little while, since it's finals time and life is busy. But, I will get around to it, I promise!
This chapter was inspired by a post I saw floating around Tumblr a few days ago, and it seems to be a pretty common idea. I thought it seemed like it would be difficult to pull off, but I'm not one to back away from a challenge, so here is my attempt to make it work. That's all I'll say about it until the end, s without further ado…
The Reason in the Rejection
Chapter 2: Theirs
The car trunk slammed just a little too hard, and Booth flinched, peeking sheepishly through the window at Brennan and a sleeping Christine, both settled comfortably in the backseat of the run-down Ford sedan. She glared at him a little for the noise, but he didn't worry too much. She knew he was just excited… he'd been raving about this trip for almost a month, and he'd spent twice as long planning it. A weekend away meant nothing if a psychopathic techno geek could see your every move. Some complicated improvising had been necessary, coming in the form of one only-trustworthy-when-it-comes-to-his-daughter's-s afety ex-convict.
Normally, Booth never would have thought of asking for Max's help. But desperate times called for desperate measures, and Booth was desperate. It had been two months since Pelant blackmailed him into breaking of his short-lived engagement with his partner. Two months of a strained relationship made even more so by his partner's new walls which had replaced her old, crumbled ones with surprising speed. He trusted her not to leave, but her faith (she would refute that word, of course) had been shaken. She didn't understand—could he blame her?—and neither did anyone else. Save for one man.
The ex-con had approached him late one night at the Hoover and had paid no attention to the many security cameras in Booth's office as he made it abundantly clear that he had figured out the problem on his own and "wanted to help."
Booth had expected something drastic, never knowing Max to be laid back when it came to his daughter's happiness. He'd been expecting, at best, a punch in the gut, but had instead received help in the form of an "off the grid" vacation—one which Brennan was not to know the specifics of until they were well on their way.
The details had been solidified over the course of several weeks of burner cell calls and untraceable letters received in no-risk locations. If Pelant were watching, he never would have paid much attention to a bike boy's "discarded" napkin or a call from his dentist—Max knew what he was doing, that's for sure.
The result was this weekend away, which would finally give him the chance to explain something he never should have had to do in the first place. He knew she was suspicious—he almost never kept secrets from her—and he had never been very good at planned surprises. And she had been even more shocked to find her father in the driver's seat of a faded blue Ford that morning, waving happily at her as if nothing were out of the ordinary.
Booth shook away his musings and climbed in beside Brennan, this time paying closer attention to how hard he closed the door behind him. He glanced at her, noticing the agitated look on her face, and he silently reached over to clasp her hand in his, only a little nervous that she might wrench it away from him. She sat perfectly still, but did not withdraw her hand.
The occupants of the car sat in awkward silence for several miles, before Brennan finally grew tired of being in the dark. "I thought this was supposed to be 'off the grid.'" It wasn't a question, but the pointed look at Booth demanded an answer nonetheless.
"It will be."
"I hardly think having my father pick us up in what is probably an illegally obtained vehicle in broad daylight in front of our house is going to deter Pelant from following us."
Booth was a little surprised that Max ignored her blunt comment about the car, but didn't question it. "Why is he with us, anyway?" She continued. "This is supposed to be just the three of us."
"We're not off the grid yet, Bones. But we will be. Give it a few more miles. Max is just here to drive for a bit."
"Don't you think it'll be suspicious that my father is driving us to a weekend getaway of some sort?"
"Just don't worry about it, okay?" He stifled the urge to roll his eyes. "Trust me. I've got it all figured out."
Her eyes turned stony for a brief moment before she jerked her head away from him, choosing to look out the window at passing trees instead. She didn't comment, but he heard her thoughts anyway, echoing in his mind, screaming that she didn't know if she could trust him anymore. His heart broke a little more, but he pushed the pain away, silently promising her—and himself—that this particular problem was nearing its end.
An hour later, Max quickly and unexpectedly jerked the car off into a near-deserted turn-around, setting the car to stall and popping the trunk almost simultaneously.
Brennan's eyes darted around the area, surrounded by trees on three sides, and her eyes immediately connected with the only other vehicle in the small lot. before she could question the situation, Booth opened his door and walked to the trunk, taking their small bags of luggage out of the car and moving them to the other.
Only when the trunks were closed again did the driver of the other vehicle step outside. He spoke quietly with Booth for a moment before handing over the keys. Determined to figure out the situation, she opened her own door, only half-stepping out.
"What are you doing?" She half-shouted across the clearing. He winced a bit at the noise before jogging closer to her.
"Don't ask questions. Just come on."
She huffed indignantly at being told what to do, but decided she at least trusted him enough to do as he said. She unbuckled Christine's car seat—the little girl, thankfully, still asleep—and carried her toward the second car. Booth met her half way, hurrying her along with his hand on her back.
Before long, Christine was safely bucked into the backseat again, and soon she was seated in the front seat of the new car as Booth pulled it out of the clearing and away from her father's car. She watched long enough to see this car's previous driver climb in next to her father before she sighed loudly and faced forward again.
"Now will you tell me what the hell's going on?"
He glanced at her briefly, not daring to take his eyes off the winding road for longer than a second. The eye contact was long enough for her to see the happiness in his gaze, though, and she huffed again at her lack of knowledge.
"We're off the grid, Bones." He said finally.
"What do you mean?" He imagined her brow furrowing in confused and almost laughed at the way his mind could conjure up her image.
"We're in the middle of the woods with no cameras and no cell reception, in a car that Pelant could not possibly have bugged, and we were not physically followed. When Max gets back to civilization, in the opposite direction, I might add, Pelant will be following a car that we're not in. It'll be hours before he even figures out we're gone, and there's no way for him to track us out here."
She smiled a little at that. "I guess you're right."
"'Course I'm right," he echoed, and her smile grew a little brighter.
"But why go to so much trouble? I mean, he's been watching us for over a year and we've been on vacation before since then…"
"This is different, Bones. I've got something to tell you and something to ask you and he can't know about it at all. But when we get home on Sunday, you have to act like nothing's changed. Can you do that?"
She scoffed at the implication. "I'm an excellent actress."
He grinned, choosing not to argue with her. "Great."
But when he didn't continue, Brennan grew agitated again. "Well?" Her brow quirked in expectation, but still he was silent. "Are you going to tell me what you're going to tell me or not?"
He squirmed a little, not quite sure how to broach the subject now that he finally could. But, he supposed an untraceable car in the middle of the woods from which she could not run even if she wanted to was as good a place as any to confess.
"A couple months ago, I lied to you." He began, pausing for a few moments—for an outburst, a sarcastic statement, an "I know," he wasn't sure—but nothing came. She just stared at him complacently, waiting for him to continue.
"We were at the park, with Christine in the sandbox. We were happy. Do you remember?"
Her eyed clouded as she recognized the day he was talking about. "You got a phone call from you mother," she prodded.
"I got a phone call from Pelant." He corrected. He watched her eyes widen, completely surprised—had she really had no idea?—but she didn't say anything, and waited for him to continue.
"He was watching us then. In the park. I don't know how, but he was. He pointed people out to me—people who were right next to us, going about their daily lives with no connection to us. And he said he'd kill them if… if I didn't…"
"Didn't what, Booth?" She thought she knew where he was going with his story, but she wanted to hear it from his own mouth. She tried to squash the hope that flared up in her at the thought, but it was no use. The feeling overwhelmed her, and she silently begged him to keep going.
"If I didn't break off our engagement that night." He flinched, his eyes dropping sway from hers again, focusing on the road and waiting for whatever way she would respond.
But she didn't respond, and his nerves got the better of him. "I'm sorry, Bones, I wanted to tell you, I really did. But he's everywhere and I couldn't risk it, you know? And I've spent months trying to get us out here where he can't listen in and he can't possibly know that I've told you. And when we go back we have to pretend like you still don't know, and you can't tell Angela or Sweets or anyone until we catch him, but… Bones I just…" His rant trailed off as he noticed that she was crying. "Bones…" he reached over but didn't actually touch her, wishing more than anything for a place to pull the car off the road so he could look at her properly. But when he heard her tears turn to muffled sobs, he threw logic out the window and pulled into the ditch anyway, throwing the car into park and turning to face her.
"Bones, don't cry, come on…" he brushed a tear off her cheek and her eyes fluttered closed for a moment.
"Just finish, Booth. Say what you're going to say."
"Please." She begged, her watery eyes latching on to his. "I need to hear it from you. Just say it."
He nodded, bringing his hand to her chin to keep her eyes locked on his. "I'm sorry I hurt you. I'm sorry I couldn't think of any other way to tell you sooner. But I still want to marry you. If you haven't changed your mind, that is. I mean, I get it if…" she let out a loud sob, interrupting his rambling, and he started to move his hand away, taking her tears as a bad sign. But she reached up and grabbed his wrist, drawing him back to her.
"I'm sorry," she choked through her tears. "I'm not sad…I'm not… just give me a…" but her tears didn't stop. "Damn it," she finally muttered, and he almost laughed at the frustrated look on her face as she tried to force her emotions back into their box. Awkwardly, he tried to pull her into his arms as best he could with the gear shift in between them.
"It's okay, Bones," he said, his hand running up and down her back in what he hoped was a soothing manner. "We're going to be okay. You know that, right? No matter what you say right now, we'll be okay." But she only sobbed louder. "Breathe, Bones. It's okay. I love you."
"You want to marry me?" she forced out through the tears.
"Yes, of course. I waited for you to ask for ages, Bones. I wanted it for so long… and I know you were happy and I'm so sorry I had to pull it out from under you like that… I just… didn't know what else to do, you know?"
She nodded into his chest, not trusting her voice to speak just yet. Instead, she clung to him harder. "I thought…" she tried to choke out. "I thought… you didn't…" she hiccupped, "believe me. That…" a gasp, "you thought I didn't want you. But I did, Booth. I still do."
"Of course." Her tears had stopped, so she pulled away and looked into his eyes again.
He smiled, then, and nodded. "Well then, I'm glad. I'm sorry, I don't have the ring with me because… well… "
"He can't know," she finished for him.
"Right. And as much as that sucks, I just wanted you to know that we will still get married. Just… we can't tell anybody until we catch him."
"I understand." She smiles then. "Thank you… for finding a way to tell me."
"I wanted to say something so much earlier but…"
"I know." She paused briefly as another question popped into her head. "But how in the world did my father get involved in all this?"
"He actually figured it out himself. Showed up in my office one night, claiming he knew how to help. Turns out he was right, I suppose."
Her eyes grew serious again. "Don't you ever tell him I said this, but…" she smiled briefly, giving away her intentions before she spoke, "…having an ex-con dad sure has come in handy recently."
He laughed outright, and heard Christine stir in response from the back seat. "I guess so. You know, I'm just glad he didn't run off and try to kill the bastard himself."
She laughed too for a moment. "Well, I'm sure it's coming."
He nodded soberly. "Yeah. I'm starting to think that'll be the only way to end this."
"Me too." The melancholy mood disrupted their peace for a moment before Booth diverted it.
"But we can worry about that later, huh? We've got a whole weekend to get back to being ourselves again." She grinned in response to that, and Christine, now fully awake, gurgled happily from behind them. Booth grinned and grabbed Brennan's hand in his once again before starting the car and pulling it back onto the still-deserted road, heading off toward the first weekend in a while they could call "just theirs."
A/N: Well, that's that. The idea was, of course, that Booth could somehow physically take Brennan out of Pelant's reach long enough to say what needs to be said. But that's easier said than done when you consider the fact that it seems that Pelant can see them constantly. Even with Max's help, do you guys think it would work?
I called this chapter "Theirs" because one of the things that bothers me most about Pelant is his ability to watch them continuously. And then I think that any private moments they have are being watched, and it's no longer "theirs." I think that's the worst thing they could have happen between them, because it keeps them from being honest with each other. Now that Booth knows Pelant is everywhere, he'll be much more reserved in their relationship, which is just going to hurt Brennan more, I think, unless he actually can find a way to tell her in complete privacy. It really bothers me knowing that Pelant can come between them like that without really having to do anything. And lack of privacy and trust has never really been an issue for them before, so I wonder how they'll handle it. Any thoughts?
Anyway, I've got one more one shot planned out after this one, and then this will just be an "as they come to me" kind of story, so if you have suggestions, let me know. My hope is to keep this story relatively spoiler free for next season (even though I shamelessly track down every tidbit I can possibly find). But I am curious to know what you all think about the things the producers have been saying in their interviews.
But anyway, I hope you enjoyed this chapter. Please let me know what you think, and hopefully I'll have the next chapter up within the next week.