Sorry about the delay...
As promised, here's some more fluff...
At nearly noon, after a quick stop at the store, Booth maneuvered the SUV into the last parking space available in the small lot. He switched gears, turned the key, and looked into the backseat at Parker, who had his face glued to the window, his right leg bouncing up and down. "C'mon, Bub, let's get the stuff out of the trunk."
Parker, having unbuckled his seatbelt the second the car stopped moving, threw open the door and jumped out. He adjusted his windbreaker and ran towards the back of the car. He thrust the hatch open and started pulling stuff out. He set the fishing rods on the ground, leaning them up against the back bumper, and grabbed the recently stocked tackle box. He poked his head around towards the passenger side and groaned. "Do you guys have to kiss everywhere? If we don't hurry up, there's gonna be no fish left!"
Booth broke the kiss and glanced at his son. "We're coming." He shook his head and stole another quick peck, smiling at the grunt Parker let out. He pushed the stroller towards Parker, keeping pace with Brennan.
"Are we gonna go out on the river? 'Cause if we are, we have to rent a boat." Parker pointed toward the boathouse. "We should do it now, just in case more people show up."
Booth nodded. "We're headed there now."
"Well, let's go then." Parker took off in the direction of the boathouse.
"Whoa, Bub." Booth reached out and grabbed hold of Parker's jacket. "Stay close." He let go and the four of them continued on.
25 minutes later, Parker stood near the edge of the water, his line casted out. Nothing was biting so far, but from the bits and pieces of conversations he was overhearing, he was hopeful he'd catch at least four or five before they took a break for lunch. He sank into the chair behind him and relaxed his hold on his pole.
Booth approached the boy, fishing rod in one hand, a wriggling Ryder in the other. "Anything yet, Bub?"
Parker shook his head, his shoulders slumping forward with a sigh. "Not yet." His eyes suddenly widened as he watched a kid struggling to reel in whatever was caught on her hook.
Booth glanced out towards the middle of the river and then back to his son, realizing that his son's focus had shifted from the good-sized Striper to the golden-haired, freckle-faced girl reeling it in. He shook his head and frowned. It was too soon for this. Sure, he had less than pure thoughts at that age, but this was his son, his little boy. Booth wasn't ready, not even close, so he decided to bring Parker's attention back to fishing. It seemed that God agreed with him because not even a second later, something was tugging on the pole, shaking Parker out of his daydream.
"Reel 'im in." Booth stuck his own pole in the ground and hoisted Ryder higher on his hip, readjusting his arm around the toddler's waist. "Look, RJ." He pointed at the water as Parker furiously spun the reel and tugged.
Ryder clapped his hands and leaned forward, his lifejacket riding up a little. He pushed it down himself and turned his head towards Parker, who was muttering and breathing heavily. He imitated his older brother's breathing pattern and scrunched face.
Booth looked between the boys and couldn't help but smile. "You need any help?"
Parker shook his head, though it was clear he was struggling. "I," he blew out a puff of air, "almost got it." He swallowed and pushed through the painful burn of his overworked muscles. He could see the fish as he brought it closer and closer to shore, which only made him spin faster and tug harder.
Staying close by in case Parker decided he needed help after all, Booth set Ryder on the ground and held his hand, walking the little boy towards the river.
The second he felt the water seeping into his shoes, Ryder squealed and marched in place, laughing at the squishy sound he was making. "Daddy!"
"You like that, huh, Buddy."
Ryder's focus shifted abruptly from the water to the fish Parker had finally managed to lift into the air. "Fishy! Fishy! Fishy!" He sucked in his cheeks, making his own "fishy" face and reached up towards the flopping fish. "Fishy. Daddy, yook, fishy!"
Booth smiled and stepped closer to Parker. He unhooked the fish and brought it over to Ryder. "This is a Crappie, RJ." He handed it to Parker, who put it in the cooler. "Nice first catch, Bub." He glanced a little ways behind them and motioned for Brennan to come join them. She had said she would watch from a small distance for a little while, but he couldn't wait.
Brennan understood his silent plea and made her way towards the boys. It was a little tough in the wheelchair and it took a little extra upper body strength due to the unevenness and softness of the terrain, but she got there.
Booth turned around, surprised to see Brennan there. "I would have helped you, Bones. I said wait a minute."
Brennan smirked. "I know what you said, Booth, but I obviously made it here just fine; therefore, I didn't need your help."
"One of your wheels could have gotten stuck. Your chair would have tipped over and you could have gotten really hurt."
"Would you relax? Neither of my wheels got stuck and my chair didn't flip over. I'm fine, the baby's fine." She grabbed his hand and yanked on it, placing it flat on her belly.
Booth sighed, feeling the baby press her foot against his palm.
"Bones, look what I caught!" Parker shifted the cooler so she could see inside.
Brennan glanced into the tipped up cooler and smiled. "That's a rather large Pomoxis nigromaculatus."
"Wanna try, Bones?"
Brennan nodded. "Sure. It's been quite some time since I've done any fishing; would you mind giving me a refresher course?"
"I'll teach ya, Bones," Booth suggested, leaning over and grabbing Ryder by the waist to keep him from running off into the water.
"Thanks for the offer, but I asked Parker," she said with a smile.
Booth shrugged. "Then, I guess I'll set up the little pole for RJ and give him his first fishing lesson."
"Shouldn't you not like fishing 'cause you're a vegetarian?" Parker asked, putting some new bait on the hook.
"I'm a vegetarian for health reasons, Parker, though the treatment of the animals we consume daily and animals in general is quite upsetting." She paused. "I wasn't always a vegetarian; in fact, I used to hunt and fish for food. I've traveled to a lot of different places for my work and my studies and part of being a great anthropologist is not only observing people in their native environments, but also studying and experiencing their culture. This includes sharing in their dietary practices, which are not always the same as yours or mine."
Parker nodded his head, trying to follow what she was saying. "Oh." Shrugging, he handed her the set up rod. "I wish you could go out on the water with us. It's not gonna be as fun without ya."
Brennan nodded. "We'll have to do this again after Christine is born."
"Yeah! We could finally go camping and hiking like we planned."
Brennan smiled, giving the reel an experimental spin.
Parker looked at Booth, who was adjusting Ryder's hands on the little baby rod they purchased at the store earlier. "I remember the first time Dad took me fishing. It was a long time ago, way before he had his tumor. It was just after you and he started working together. He talked about you a lot. He sounded annoyed, but I could tell he missed you. He never talked about anyone else as much as he talked about you, not even his sort of girlfriend." He paused, giving her some instruction before he continued on. "Yeah, I knew about her, even though I never met her. I don't think I was s'posed to know about her, but I did anyways."
Brennan looked over at Booth and then back at Parker. "I was annoyed at him, as well. I didn't think I would ever be able to work with him full time."
"I'm glad you weren't as annoyed as you thought."
"Me too, Parks, me too."
"Okay, now just bring it back and sling it forward, snapping your wrist, but careful not to catch the hook on anything. The first time I went fishing, I got the hook stuck in the back of Dad's calf. He was cool about it, though. He told Mom I caught a really big fish, but he was really talking about himself." Parker's face suddenly fell at the mention of his mother.
Brennan thought fast. "Maybe you should do this part. You seem to be very skilled at it."
"No, no, you have to do it yourself. That's the whole point. I'll show you again." Parker casted out an imaginary line and then watched Brennan copy him with the actual fishing pole. "That was good, Bones."
"Now what?" she asked, even though she already knew.
"Now we wait. This is the not so fun part, but hopefully something bites soon." Parker reached down and grabbed another fishing pole. It was all set up except for the bait. He decided to try out one of the lures he picked out from the tackle shop when Booth was getting a fishing license and renting a boat.
Brennan noticed him pause what he was doing and stare out at the river. Following his line of sight, she saw what, rather, who, caught his eye. "She's very beautiful, Parker."
Parker sputtered. "What?"
"That girl over there, she's pretty."
Parker shrugged. "Huh? Oh, yeah, I mean, she's okay."
Brennan nodded, smiling to herself. "You shouldn't feel embarrassed. You're getting older. There are certain urges that,"
Booth suddenly appeared at her side and whispered in her ear, rather loudly. "Don't you dare finish that sentence, Bones."
She jerked, letting out a yelp. "Booth!"
"He is too young for that."
"I wasn't talking about sexual urges."
Booth shuddered. "Bones!"
"I was merely pointing out that biologically, it is completely normal for him to be interested in the opposite sex in non-platonic ways. His hormones are—."
She shook her head and felt a tug on her hand. She turned towards the river. "Oh, I've caught something," she said, with childlike excitement.
"Reel it in! Reel it in!" Parker encouraged, still waiting for something to bite his hook.
Booth lifted Ryder up and sat him in Brennan's lap. He placed his little hands on the grip of the rod and nudged his shoulder. "Help Mom bring the fish in, okay, Bub? She'll help you."
It didn't take very much effort or time to reel in the small catfish. Ryder scrunched up his nose when he got a strong whiff of it and touched its slimy body.
Parker unhooked the fish and put it back in the water.
Brennan frowned. Her competitiveness was coming out and she was a bit jealous of the fish Parker caught earlier.
"Baby." Ryder shouted.
Misunderstanding, Brennan nodded. "Do you want to say hello to the baby?"
Ryder shook his head. "Baby fishy!" He made his "fishy" face again. "Glug, glug, glug," he jabbered.
"Don't worry, Bones. You'll catch a bigger one next time." Just as he said that, Parker saw the bobber sink and felt the familiar tug on his rod. This time it was a rather large Striper.
"Way to go, Buddy."
They continued fishing for the next forty-five minutes until Parker's stomach growled, reminding everyone that it was time for lunch. Between Booth, Brennan, and Parker, they caught four more fish worth keeping and a few more that were too small. Ryder even got in on the action; Booth helped him reel in a small shad and promptly put it in the cooler (to be used as extra bait) when the toddler almost put the whole head in his mouth.
After a quick lunch, Brennan sat in the same spot she was in earlier before she joined Booth at the water to fish, except this time she was lying on a nearby bench, her legs stretched out on the slats. She cradled Ryder in her arms, stroking his hair in an attempt to soothe him to sleep; he was cranky, but refused to nap. Leaning her head down, she pressed a gentle kiss to his temple. He had wanted to go out on the boat with his father and older brother, going as far as latching himself onto Booth's leg. Booth would have taken him, too, but Brennan knew the toddler needed a nap desperately or they were in for a long afternoon.
She turned her head and watched Booth and Parker, who were out on the river. The latter was currently reeling in something, something big by the looks of it. The twelve year-old let out a laugh, which carried on the wind, when the fish, another Striped Bass, finally surfaced and nearly hit Booth in the face. The sound of his laugh and the pure excitement on his face brought a smile to her face.
She glanced down at Ryder. "What is it?"
"Doggy." Ryder pointed to a large Golden Retriever.
An idea suddenly popped into her head, an unphysical way to hopefully tire him out. She remembered a game she and her brother used to play for hours when they were younger. "RJ, Sweetheart."
Ryder lifted his head and looked up at her with inquisitive brown eyes, biting his bottom lip, his brows furrowed.
"Do you want to play a game?"
Ryder's face lit up and he nodded. "Pway game."
"Okay. How it works is this, I look for an object and then give you a clue. All you have to do is guess the object. Does that sound like fun? I used to play it with your Uncle Russ and I believe your daddy and Parker have played it too."
"Pway game." Ryder shook his fist. "Now."
Brennan smiled. "I spy with my little eye, something that's," she glanced around, looking for something simple that Ryder would be able to guess, "blue." She shifted the toddler so he was sitting up a little more and nodded, giving him the go ahead.
Ryder clapped his hands and began looking around. He guessed several things, but none of them were correct. His eyes welled up and his lips curved downward into a frown.
Sensing a meltdown coming on, Brennan decided to give him a little hint. "It's okay, RJ. What movie did you watch with Daddy and Parker the other night?"
"Nemo," Ryder jabbered.
Ryder looked down at his shirt and pulled on it. "Bwue shawk."
Brennan smiled. "You got it." She paused. "Let's play again." She looked around before focusing on him again. "I spy with my little eye, something that starts with D." She sounded the D out and nudged him. "Go ahead."
It didn't take him long to guess this one. "Daddy!" He shouted, pointing towards the river where the boat was floating.
Brennan tickled him and kissed the top of his head. "That's right."
Ryder yawned and settled back against Brennan's chest, his hand wrapped around her right thumb.
Brennan smiled; her plan was working, so she continued. "I spy with my little eye, something that's green." When Ryder didn't say anything, she glanced down and found Ryder's eyes closed and his chest rising and falling evenly. She kissed his head again and leaned back against the arm of the bench. It wasn't the most comfortable position, but then again, she shouldn't be expecting to be comfortable anywhere, not at the moment.
She looked back out at the water, at Booth and Parker, specifically. The latter had a giant smile on his face and the two of them were goofing off, neither of which were happening very often these days. She knew the second they got home, reality would set in again, but for now, right now, they were all happy and having fun. It seemed like Booth was right; today was a good day, the best day they've had in a long time.
Not my best chapter, but I didn't want to leave you guys waiting any longer. Hope you liked the fluff because the next chapter will be the start of the trial ;)