Prologue - Present
Seeley Booth sat at her bedside, holding her hand as she painfully drew in shallow breaths of air. Their family were crowded into the room; their children, grandchildren, and all their closest friends, those who were their family.
They had been there since the beginning; the beginning of their partnership, the beginning of their relationship, the beginning of their family, the beginning of the end.
She had been suffering from cancer for over ten years, first her breasts, then her skin, then her liver. The first two times, she had beaten the diseased cells and gone into remission, but the liver cancer had hit her hard and fast. It spread through her vital organs and into her brain within six months of the diagnosis, and now she was struggling to breathe.
“Oh, Bones,” Booth sighed, rubbing the tears from his eyes. “Be strong, baby, just a little longer.”
“Booth,” she whispered, turning her head to face him. He could see the light starting to fade from her once-brilliant green eyes. “I love you.”
“No!” he protested, tears openly running down his cheeks. “Just hold on til Zack gets here, he won’t be long, just hold on…”
Their four kids put their hands on top of his, and the five of them lent her their life force to keep her there.
“I love you…”
When Parker was eight, Booth admitted to Bones that he loved her for the first time, and finally stepped over the line, abolishing it quickly. Surprisingly, her response was “It’s about time!” and kissed him back. They had not voluntarily spent a night apart since.
It hadn’t taken Booth long to convince Bones that there were legal reasons they should make their commitment permanent through marriage, and after letting Angela plan their wedding, Agent and Doctor Booth left DC for their two week honeymoon touring the world.
“Oh my God, I can’t believe they’re finally married!” Angela shrieked, walking into the lab on the first day of her best friend’s honeymoon.
Jack, Cam and Wendell just looked at her, watching her jumping up and down in excitement. Sweets shook his head at her actions.
“Now all we need is for you two to stop dancing around the fire and do the same,” Cam muttered, loud enough for only Hodgins, Sweets and Wendell to hear.
“I’m working on it,” Jack murmured in response, his eyes not leaving Angela’s dancing body.
When Parker was nine, he asked Rebecca if he could live with ‘Daddy and Bones’. Rebecca agreed, but only if she could have the same visitation rights she had once granted Seeley. The family moved into a comfortably spacious two storey house, Parker settling right in, glad to be away from Captain Fantastic.
Later that year, one weekend where Parker was with his mother, Temperance went into labour.
A high pitched wail erupted in the air, and his wife’s screams of pain ceased, at least for the moment, and the doctor announced the baby’s gender.
“It’s a girl!”
Booth quickly saw his firstborn daughter before returning to his wife. “Not long now, baby, then it’s all over.”
Bones smiled, the pain and exhaustion evident on her sweaty face, before another contraction ripped through her body. She gripped his hand and gritted her teeth, pulling his face close to hers. “Don’t call me baby,” she threatened, the last word morphing into an almost primal scream of pain as she pushed their second child out of her body.
“It’s another girl!”
Half an hour later, Booth was sitting next to Brennan's bed, staring at the two tiny girls in portable cribs in front of him. They had yet to decide on names, but as the twins were identical, Brennan had almost demanded they have mirror names.
“I like Jennifer and Margaret,” she whispered from the bed. Booth looked up and saw she had finally woken up. “My dad’s sister’s name was Margaret, and you said Jennifer was a family name…” she trailed off.
Booth smiled and kissed her gently, “I love it; Jenny and Maggie Booth.”
“Jenny and Maggie Booth…”
When Parker was eleven and the twins were two, Angela finally gave up on the rest of the world and agreed to marry Jack Hodgins. At their wedding, Parker decided to give the twins a bowl of chocolate ice cream each. Their dresses were never the same after the resulting food fight.
Angela, of course, thought they were gorgeous and gave them flowers to decorate the sticky mess before snapping a million photos for the family scrapbook.
Temperance, however, grounded Parker for a week and made him responsible for the twins for a month, cleaning up after them and being their personal entertainment. When he protested to his father, Booth raised his hands and told him if he wanted to live in their household he would have to abide by the rules.
Parker was lying on the floor of the lounge room, flicking through a magazine, relishing the peace and quiet while the twins were still napping. It was the last day of his punishment, and though he loved his sisters and they loved him, he was sick of having to entertain them as well as all of his own chores.
Being so engrossed in the magazine, he didn’t notice the troublesome two year olds had once again climbed out of their cots and were hiding behind the couch, ready to jump on him.
Jenny moved first, followed closely by Maggie, and they jumped on his back at the same time, squashing the air out of Parker’s lungs.
Maggie started bouncing on his bottom, and Jenny riding his back like a horse, both of them giggling contagiously; Parker couldn’t help but laugh along with them.
Ok, so maybe being their play toy was not all that bad after all.
When Parker was twelve and the twins were three, Angela gave birth to a son she named Zachary after their favourite intern. Zack Addy was released from the ‘loony bin’ that year and was immediately given another job at the Jeffersonian.
Zack stood at the nursery window, staring at the tiny babies in their individual cradles, a specific boy catching his eye.
“Which one’s yours?”
He turned around suddenly to see a doctor standing next to him, her arms crossed on her chest, her pink scrubs all rumpled.
“I am not a father,” Zack said, “However, my godson is the male infant fourth from the right in the third row.”
The doctor leaned forward slightly to read the sticker on the front. “Zachary Joshua Montenegro Hodgins; cute kid.”
Zack was no longer staring at the baby Angela had named after him, but was now staring at the beautiful doctor standing right there. “He was named after me,” he whispered, the significance only just hitting him. “Angela named him after me.”
“Are you okay?” the doctor asked. She took her pen light from her breast pocket and used her free hand to lift his chin slightly, allowing her to look into his eyes. “What’s your name?”
“Zack Addy,” he answered automatically. “Doctor Zack Addy, forensic anthropologist.” He offered his hand for her to shake.
“Well, Doctor Zack Addy, forensic anthropologist, I’m Doctor Jeanne Benson, emergency medicine specialist.”
The two held hands, and gazes, for far longer than was necessary, but neither seemed to care.
When Parker was thirteen and the twins were five, Temperance fell pregnant again after two miscarriages. When she gave birth to a premature baby boy in early June, a tear in her uterine wall forced her OBGYN to perform a radical hysterectomy to save her life.
Temperance was devastated she’d never be able to have another child, but glad their son, while premature and in the NICU, was alive and strong.
“Dad, is Bones gonna be okay?” Parker asked.
They had been camped out in the waiting room at Monroe University Hospital for almost six hours now, having contact with one of Bones’ doctors only once since they rushed her into the ER that morning.
Booth ran his hands through his hair, then ruffled his son’s hair. “She’ll be fine, bub,” he said, trying to stop his voice from shaking. “She’ll be fine.”
Jenny and Maggie had long since given up playing quietly in the toy corner supplied by the hospital and had instead snuck past the nurse’s station to explore the hospital. Everyone who was supposed to be watching them were preoccupied, either freaking out about Temperance or otherwise occupied with their own problems.
It wasn’t until Doctor Benson was walking towards the waiting room with Zack that either of them spotted the rebellious Booth twins and returned them to their father.
“Booth, are you missing something?” Zack asked. Booth looked up to see his wife’s favourite ex-grad student holding Jennifer, with his girlfriend holding Margaret in her arms. “I believe these are yours,” he added jokingly.
The girls simply had cheeky looks on their faces as they were sat at Booth’s feet. Maggie shrugged her shoulders at Jenny, the less rambunctious twin, in an ‘Oh well, we tried’ gesture.
“Family of Temperance Booth?”
When Parker was fourteen, the twins were six and Christopher was one, Maggie and Jenny started school. Being identical and trouble makers, they wreaked havoc on a daily basis. Booth and Bones were called into the school on a weekly basis almost all year; they eventually had to split the twins into two separate classes as a last resort. Principal Aaron Matthews threatened to have them removed from his school if their classroom disruptions did not stop.
Angela gave birth to triplets three days before Christmas, and the three girls with forever curse their artistic mother for naming her daughters Noelle, Estelle and Mirabelle.
Cam found it funny and annoying that their names rhymed while her husband, Doctor Tony Carlyle, the Chief of Surgery at Monroe University Hospital, simply mentioning in passing that Michelle and her husband Lucas had been considering procreating.
Unscheduled visits to Michelle’s townhouse were not safe for the next two years.
“I don’t like Chantelle or Rochelle, they sound like prostitute’s names,” Jack threw his arms up in protest. “And Isabelle is just as bad.”
“Well, we have Noelle and Estelle, we just need a third ‘Elle,” Angela muttered, flicking through a baby names book. “Here’s one; Mirabelle. What do you think of that, Hodge-Podge?”
Jack sighed. “It’s not the greatest, but I suppose it’s better than the other three…”
Zach toddled in a moment later, moving straight to his mother’s chair. “Momma, up!”
Angela smiled at her son and motioned for Jack to put him in her arms. Zach cuddled up to her around the swell of his unborn sisters, and started to talk to her stomach in his own baby language, Angela holding him in place.
Jack took a photo covertly, fully intending to print it in black and white and frame it for her, and returned his attention to the baby names book. His three daughters were due in less than a week, and they still had to pick middle names.
He looked up at his family, sitting in the next chair, and felt his heart swell with pride. It was a feeling her would never forget.
When Parker was sixteen, the twins were eight and Christopher was three, it was Temperance’s idea to give Parker a car for his birthday. The teenager, expecting a Porsche or a Ferrari, was instead presented with a black Mini Cooper S. At the party, the squint squad laughed at the look on his face, while his sisters began arguing over who rode shotgun. Jenny, who had inherited to some extent her mother’s brains and her father’s charm, tried to argue rationally whereas Maggie, the sporty twin who inherited Booth’s cheeky streak, just plain argued. They kept going until Seeley and Jack physically separated them and banished them to their bedrooms; both had inherited a combination of their parents’ stubbornness.
Ten minutes later they were back at the party, behaving like perfect angels but shooting daggers at each other.
Michelle surprised everyone at the party, announcing her having finally fallen pregnant after nearly two years of trying.
Zack further surprised everyone by proposing to his long-time girlfriend, trauma doctor Jeanne Benson, who had been accepted into the family when Christopher was born. When she all but squealed her positive answer, everyone cheered and toasted the new couple. Amongst the adults the alcohol flowed freely, with the exception of the newly pregnant Michelle and the once again heavily pregnant Angela.
“Have you chosen a name for the baby yet?” Jeanne asked Angela. The two had become friends quickly, and Angela had been the first to accept her.
Angela shrugged and gently ran her hands over her protruding belly. “Well, I love the name Charlotte, and it’s easy for the triplets to say, but Jack loves the name Antoinette, so we can’t agree.”
Jeanne laughed. “Bribe him; say you want to name her Charlotte, you’ll compromise as Antoinette as her middle name, and he can name the next child. After all, didn’t he name the triplets?”
Angela nodded thoughtfully and began munching on a bowl of fruit salad. “Yeah, he did. His main reason for their names was the alternatives sound like hookers’ names.” She turned her head to face Jeanne. “Doesn’t Antoinette sound more like a hooker’s name than Chantelle?”
Angela smiled evilly, as did Jeanne; they had just figured out how to win the name argument.
When Parker was nineteen, the twins eleven and Christopher six, the youngest of the Booth children started school. He was placed with the same teacher the twins had originally been taught by, and unlike his sisters, was the perfect student. He too had inherited his mother’s intellect, and completed the first three grades in that school year.
The twins were tackling middle school, and although they were still the best of friends, both were taking different classes and had separate circles of friends. To stir things up, they occasionally switched, pretending to be the other twin, but identical as they were on the outside, Jenny was the more serious twin, preferring to spend her time studying anything interesting she could obtain, where as Maggie was a cheerleader who spent most of her time either at the gym practising or playing a variety of sports.
Parker, having graduated high school, was heading off to college in Chicago, much to both sets of his parents’ chagrin. Rebecca, Brent and their daughters had moved to Vermont four years previously to be near Brent’s parents, so they would see him more than Seeley, Temperance, his brother and sisters would. He managed to pack most of his more important belongings into his Mini, threw his goodbyes out the window, and drove out of DC to begin his college life in Chicago.
“But what if they don’t like me?” Christopher asked his parents, standing on the balcony outside his first grade classroom. Booth and Bones weren’t the only parents there seeing their children off on the first day.
“They’ll love you, sprout,” Booth said, crouching down to his level. “Your sisters terrorised their classmates for years; you’re nothing like them in that sense. Just be yourself and you’ll make plenty of friends.”
“But what if they shorten my name?” Christopher was adamant his name was not to be shortened; his parents had always called him by his full given name, in honour of his mother’s deceased mother.
“If it makes you feel better, I will talk to your teacher,” Temperance offered. “But remember, you have superior intellect, not unlike my own. Just complete your schoolwork, help the other children where needed, and participate in class activities, no matter how mundane they seem.”
Christopher nodded and hugged his parents. “You’ll be here to pick me up this afternoon?” he asked meekly. “Both of you?”
Brennan nodded. “Of course we will, Christopher; nothing will stop us from being here for you this afternoon.”
“Even if you have a dead body?” the little boy asked.
“Especially if we have a dead body,” Booth ruffled his son’s floppy hair. “Now go to class.”
Christopher hefted his bag onto his shoulder and entered the room, pausing only to turn back and salute his parents before stepping over the threshold.
“Like father like son,” Temperance sighed, leaning into Booth’s embrace.
“He’s more like you than you know.”
When Parker was twenty-four, the twins sixteen and Christopher eleven, the family were split up for Maggie and Jenny’s sixteenth birthday. Parker was in the midst of his final exams before graduating, Christopher was on a tenth grade biology camp despite being in middle school, Jenny exploring the library of congress, and Maggie participating in the regional cheerleading competition.
For the twins’ sixteenth birthday, only their parents were home, and even then Booth and Bones spent most of their time in the lab, working on a case.
When everybody finally came home, Parker only for the weekend, Temperance and Seeley proudly presented their daughters with the newest model Mini Cooper S, yellow for Maggie and red for Jenny.
Temperance sat down by the side of their pool, just staring at the landscape, but not seeing anything. Her daughters had just turned sixteen; they were growing up. It seemed like only yesterday they were playing pranks on their teachers in grade school, only yesterday they had their first periods, only yesterday they had their first kisses.
Now, her twins were sixteen. They were still physically identical, still rambunctious trouble makers, but their personalities were completely different.
Now, on her twins’ sixteenth birthday, her children were all out of their house, and they were working on a case.
Suddenly, a pair of arms snaked around her waist, and Booth dropped his chin onto her shoulder, pressing a kiss to her cheek.
“Missing the kids?” he asked quietly.
She nodded, and Seeley sat down next to her, one arm still around her waist. “The house is so quiet now that Parker is in college and the kids are out of the house at any chance they can find.”
“Hmmm,” Seeley agreed. “Maybe you should go visit Angela and the kids, now with the baby due any day.”
Temperance sighed heavily and turned to look into her husband’s eyes. “Maybe you’re right.” Plus, she hardly ever saw her best friend any more, now that she and Hodgins had nine children, with a tenth due within the next two weeks. “Maybe I will visit her for a while.”
When Parker was twenty-seven, the twins were nineteen, and Christopher fourteen, Parker had a minor car accident on the way home for the summer holidays. The woman in the car he hit was furious with him; he only rear-ended her car, but the old thing was a write-off. Parker tried to make it up to her; she was only two years younger than him, by taking her to where she was going. Ironically, she was also heading to DC to visit her parents for the holidays.
Parker took his new friend, Alexandra Todd, to the NCIS headquarters at the Naval Yard, where his father and stepmother were currently working. He was berated and interrogated by them, Deputy Director Anthony DiNozzo and Special Agent in Charge Ziva David-DiNozzo, before releasing both of them to visit Parker’s own father and stepmother for dinner.
The two bickered like an old married couple the whole way from the Navy yard to the Jeffersonian, and as they were walking into the Medico-Legal lab, many of the staff who had been there for almost as long as Brennan had been had to look twice.
Less than four months later, Parker and Alexandra were married, the ceremony held in the Jeffersonian gardens on a beautiful mid-September afternoon. As a wedding present, Temperance and Seeley Booth, Angela and Jack Hodgins, and Cam and Tony Carlyle gave them a fully furnished house in the vicinity of the school where Alexandra taught third grade.
Doctor Jeanne Benson-Addy sat upright in the hospital bed, her hair plastered to her sweaty forehead, Zack snuggled up next to her. A nurse walked in holding a little blue bundle, and Jeanne, though thoroughly exhausted, held her arms out for her newborn son.
“Hello, little man,” she whispered, holding him to her chest. Zack reached out to embrace both of them together, rocking slowly back and forth.
“I love you, so much,” he whispered into his wife’s head, kissing her softly. “I am so proud of you.”
The door opened and Jack Hodgins poked his head in. “Can I let them in?”
Zack looked up and nodded. Moments later, the door opened again and two little girls ran in. “Emma, Imogen, you may come up on the bed and meet your new brother.”
Six year old Emma and three year old Imogen carefully climbed up onto their mother’s hospital bed and stared at the tiny bundle in her arms.
The family sat in silence, staring at the warm brown eyes of the baby boy in Jeanne’s arms.
Jack Hodgins stood outside the window, staring at the family. He himself had been in the position seven times previously, each time with more and more children on the bed. Now that he and Ange had ten kids, his oldest and youngest sons named after his two best friends, he finally had what he always wanted; a wife who loved him, and an army of children. He would never be alone again.
“They’re naming him Jackson, after you,” Booth appeared next to him. “Jackson Rene Addy.”
When Parker was thirty-three, the twins twenty-five and Christopher twenty, Temperance, aged 58, was showering when she discovered a lump in her right breast. Seeley, aged 65, had recently retired from the FBI to run his own private security firm, rushed his wife to the hospital for a check up.
Initial tests revealed three tumours in her left breast and four in her right. Not wanting to ‘tempt fate’ as Seeley would call it, Temperance underwent a double mastectomy, followed by an intense schedule of radiation and chemotherapy.
Parker Booth, a trauma surgeon for the United States Marine Corps, transferred to the National Naval Medical Centre at Bethesda to be closer to his parents and his family. Maggie Booth was on assignment for the CIA in Europe while Jenny Booth was an FBI agent undercover in Germany. Christopher Booth was working as an intern at the Jeffersonian Medico-Legal lab, a department normally run by his mother.
Alex was witting in her mother’s bullpen at NCIS when she heard the news. Her mother in law, a woman so strong, so intelligent, was in hospital having just been diagnosed with breast cancer. Tears ran down her cheeks, tears of sadness for a woman she hadn’t known personally a decade ago. She placed a hand on her swollen belly; after five years of IVF treatments, she was finally pregnant with twin girls; and thought of her husband.
Parker thought the world of his parents, and for something like this to hit them, everyone realised they were no longer as invincible as they seemed.
Ziva David-DiNozzo walked down the stairs, still treading lightly despite her age; she too was close to sixty years of age; and headed straight for her desk in the bull pen. Spotting her daughter sitting in her chair crying, she hurried slightly.
“Darling, what is wrong? Is it the twins?”
Alex looked up at the woman she called mom, the woman who raised her, and let the tears run down her cheeks. “Temperance has breast cancer; Parker says it’s bad enough for her to have a double mastectomy as well as radiation and chemo.”
Ziva simply hugged her daughter, letting the pregnant woman cry into her shoulder.
When Parker was thirty-five, the twins twenty-seven and Christopher twenty-two, Temperance was finally declared in remission, two years after the original diagnosis. Booth, though he hadn’t sold the business, let Zach Hodgins take care of clients while he and Temperance travelled the world leisurely.
Doctor Camille Carlyle finally stepped down from the Jeffersonian Medico-Legal lab management board to retire with her husband Tony on a beach island off the coast of California. Their grandchildren, sixteen year old Matthew and thirteen year old Olivia protested loudly but eventually agreed with their grandparents, Olivia agreeing to boarding school in Switzerland and Matthew moving to military school to begin his life in uniform.
Jack Hodgins bought his family their own Florida Key and built a beach house big enough to comfortably house the whole family, all ten children plus spouses. He and Angela had moved there over holidays when the basic wing had been completed, leaving the mansion in DC for whoever wanted to live there. It was currently occupied by them during the school term, as well as Zach, his wife Amelia, the house staff and the four youngest Hodgins kids; fifteen year old boy-girl twins Jeremy and Jasper, thirteen year old Sophia and eleven year old Terrance.
Seventeen year old Morgan Hodgins, a genius like his father, graduated college at age fourteen and was employed by the ‘United States government’s top secret think tank’ as Jack called it. Within his first year he had developed many improved vaccines and by his seventeenth birthday, he had synthesised a cure for most of the major influenza strains.
Charlotte Hodgins fell pregnant aged seventeen. She was now a mother to two year old Gemma and moved to Australia to work as an artist, taking after her mother. The triplets, now aged twenty-one, were still best friends, and ran a series of halfway houses for homeless teens across the country. Within their first six months of operation, the young entrepreneurs had won many awards and sponsorship endorsements.
“Sweetie, do you have to go?” Angela whined, standing on the tarmac outside the private plane Booth and Brennan owned. “You’re leaving everyone behind.”
Temperance smiled. “Ange, I’ve faced death directly now and beaten it, not to mention how many times both Seeley and I have risked out lives in the field. I’m going to live my life while I still can, we both are.”
Angela wept slightly, but knew her friend had to follow through with this. Temperance hugged her best friend tightly, letting a few tears drop onto her blouse. “I’ll miss you,” Angela whispered, finally letting her friend go.
“I’ll miss you too. Take care of the family for me.”
When Parker was thirty-seven, the twins twenty-nine and Christopher twenty-four, Temperance and Seeley reappeared in DC unexpectedly. Though they had kept in touch with their family during their travels, a lot had changed in two years, more so with them.
Temperance covertly checked into Johns Hopkins for cancer treatment, a routine check-up in Moscow revealing she had skin cancer. They caught it early enough that it hadn’t yet metastasised to her internal organs, but she had the cancer cells in her system now.
When Seeley visited Parker and Alex at their house, he met his granddaughters for the first time. Abigail Temperance and Agatha Caitlin Booth, nicknamed Abby and Aggie, were now eighteen months old and ran circles around their grandfather, ecstatic to finally meet the man they had only talked to on the phone.
Parker answered the door, shouting to Alex and the twins somewhere else in the house to calm down, and was surprised to see who was standing on his doorstep.
Seeley looked into his son’s face, and pulled him into his arms. “Hey, bub.”
“Park, who is it?” Alex called. “Just let them in quickly, the house is heating up.”
Parker led his father into the main family room where the girls were playing, stepping into the room before his father. The appearance of Seeley before his wife and children brought silence to the previously cheerful room.
“Seeley?” Alex stood up. “Is that you?” Seeley nodded, and Alex rushed to embrace him. “Welcome home,” she whispered.
“Thanks,” he replied, freeing himself from her embrace. “Is that them?”
They looked over to the two toddlers sitting on the floor, trying to kill each other with soft toys. Abby, dressed in pink, was hitting Aggie, who was dressed in yellow, over the head while her twin was going for her stomach.
“They’re gorgeous,” Seeley breathed, stepping forward towards them. “And they act so much like Jen and Mags did when they were little.”
Alex stepped into her husband’s embrace as they watched his father introduce himself to his granddaughters for the first time.
“Papa?” Aggie asked, abandoning her quest to brutally bash her sister for the moment. “Papa?”
“Yes,” he smiled, reaching out for her hand.
Abby stood up and stopped next to Aggie. “Papa?” Seeley nodded and offered his other hand to her. Abby tentatively touched his warm hand, before stepping forward and placing her palm on his cheek. “Papa!”
Aggie, following her sister, did the same to his other cheek. Seeley smiled at both of them, and they jumped into his arms, each trying to scream his name louder than the other.
“I think they like him,” Parker commented.
Alex looked up at him over her shoulder. “What ever gives you that idea?”
When Parker was thirty-nine, the twins thirty-one and Christopher twenty-six, Temperance had been in remission for another year when they met together again. After spending the better part of a year in and out of Johns Hopkins secretly, the pair had set off on their round-the-world trip again, this time spending six months touring Australia.
The get together this time was neither jolly nor anticipated. In a freak car accident, Cam’s adoptive daughter Michelle and her husband Lucas had been killed when an oil tanker totalled their car on the way to Matthew’s graduation ceremony on Norfolk Naval Base. The family had gathered to bury the couple before their time.
Though everybody tried to make their way to DC, a few were missing, including Jenny and Maggie, who were on separate assignments in Europe somewhere, most of the Hodgins offspring, who were scattered across the globe with legitimate reasons as to why they could not make it, and Jack and Angela Hodgins themselves, who were cruising on their yacht somewhere in the Pacific.
Also attending the funeral were Alex’s parents and extended family, most of whom knew Matthew, if not the rest of the family. They all expressed their sympathies to Cam, Tony and the rest of the family, offering their services and shoulders to those who needed them.
The funeral was long since over; most of the guests had left, leaving only the family at the Hodgins’ mansion. The massive fireplace at the side of the room was blazing; the snow outside covered most of the ground, the wind blowing snowflakes inside any open doorway.
Temperance sat in an armchair by the fire, sipping a glass of water. As per her doctor’s instructions, she was no longer allowed to consume alcohol, much to her chagrin. She sat staring out the window, her eyes unseeing, her mind elsewhere. Parker sat down in the chair next to her, grabbing her hand in a silent show of support. No one knew of the secret treatments she had undertaken to beat the skin cancer, she had simply blamed her absence, appearance and weakness on ‘growing old’.
Temperance was saddened; her body was betraying her. She was nowhere near as strong as she used to be, she tired way too easily and her eyesight was starting to waver. She looked at Parker sitting next to her; he was also staring out into space, remembering the good times they all had with Michelle and Lucas.
Cam clinked a fork against her champagne flute, pulling everyone from their respective thoughts to make a toast. “Michelle was like a daughter to me and Lucas like a son. Their deaths have created an unfillable hole in our family, especially in the lives of their children Matthew and Olivia. They are just starting their lives, and to do so without parents is something no one should have to go through.”
Brennan tuned out the rest of Cam’s speech, only tuning back in to remember Michelle and Lucas when they toasted their memories together. She couldn’t help but wonder what her wake would be like, how her large family would handle her death, how her children would handle her death, how her husband would handle her death.
It was that melancholy thought she did not let go of easily.
When Parker was forty-one, the twins thirty-three and Christopher twenty-eight, Seeley and Temperance finally returned home, for good this time. Unexpectedly, Jenny and Maggie surprised their parents and each other by returning home mid-January in the middle of a snow storm, barely minutes apart, both bringing surprises with them.
Maggie arrived at the Booth family home first, a house that had only recently been reopened, bringing with her Simon, her husband, and identical twins Kimberly Jessica and Jessica Kimberly. Her two year old twin daughters were as identical as she and her twin sister were, right down to the desperate need to kill each other.
While they were still standing in the entrance hall, Jenny knocked on the door. Temperance opened it to reveal her other daughter, heavily pregnant, standing in the falling snow. She quickly explained her husband of two years, Adrian Blake, had recently been promoted to Special Agent in Charge of European Affairs, and would only have two weeks off for the birth of their twins.
An hour later, Christopher appeared out of nowhere, dragging his FBI partner to the family dinner, Special Agent Amanda Hastings. Booth was actually surprised they actually got along well from the beginning.
“So, how did you two fools meet?” Maggie asked, falling sideways onto the couch with a beer. Kim and Jess were left to terrorise their father while the Booth family caught up.
Jenny, who was sitting in an armchair by the fire, sipped her tea and sighed at her twin. “How did you meet your fool, idiot?”
Temperance walked in, moved Maggie’s feet and sat down next to her. “Girls, settle down and tell your stories.”
“Yeah, how could you not tell us you both got married and had kids!” Booth exclaimed, settling himself on the floor so when his grandchildren jumped on him he would be prepared for it. Sure enough, less than a minute later, Abby and Aggie ran in, Kim and Jess not far behind.
The attention was drawn away from Maggie, Jenny and their respective families and was diverted to ‘Grandad’ being beaten up by the grandkids.
When Parker was forty-three, the twins thirty-five and Christopher thirty, the Booth family were celebrating the second birthday of Jenny’s twins, Andrew and Ryan, on the beach of the Hodgins’ island in Florida. All four children, plus their spouses and their children, with the exception of the unmarried Christopher, had taken the week off work to actually spend time together.
Temperance was enjoying spending time with her family, and took time out everyday to stand on the veranda and watch the sunset.
On the last day of their week together, Temperance was bringing out a tray of drinks to the beach when she suddenly collapsed. One of the glasses smashed on her head, and Booth hijacked the yacht to race her to the mainland and to the nearest hospital.
Cam and Tony met them at the hospital and had their contact rush Temperance to have an MRI.
“What happened?” Angela ran in, ambushing Cam in the waiting room. Booth was pacing behind her, almost wearing a hole in the floor.
“She collapsed on the beach,” Cam said softly. “One minute she was fine, next minute she’s completely out; no one knows why.”
“Oh my god,” Angela fell heavily into a chair. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!”
Cam nodded and sat down next to the artist, both watching Booth continue to pace.
All three looked up as Tony Carlyle walked in to see them, a grim look on his face.
“It’s back, isn’t it?” Booth said. “For real this time.”
Tony nodded slowly. “It’s in her liver, and has metastasized to her kidneys. It won’t take long to spread to her heart, lungs and brain.”
Five months later, the cancer had spread throughout her internal organs. Doctor Temperance Booth, world renowned forensic anthropologist and best selling author, was dying from cancer. She had been fighting the disease on and off for ten years, and now she was just holding on.
They had tried to move her into palliative care two months before, but she had refused it. Instead, they converted half the beach house in Florida to make her last months on Earth more comfortable.
“Baby, you need to hold on just a little bit longer. Zack and Jeanne will be here soon, you need to say goodbye to them too,” Booth was crying as he begged her not to leave them. “Bones, I love you so much.”
On the other side of the bed, Jenny, Maggie, Christopher and Parker held her other hand, all willing for her to hold on.
Epilogue – Two weeks later
Booth had barely said anything since Brennan had passed away before their eyes that sunny afternoon in Florida. Parker thought he had been fading since that morning, unable to survive without her.
“Dad, are you okay?” he asked quietly, standing shoulder to shoulder at the cemetery, among a mass of black clad mourners.
Seeley nodded, his eyes not leaving the casket that had just been lowered into the ground. Parker clapped him on the shoulder and turned to his wife and children. Maggie and Jenny flanked him, each wrapping an arm around his waist, showing their silent support.
Christopher waited until they had all returned home for the wake their mother had been contemplating not that long ago to comfort his father. Still, Booth did not shed any more tears, merely choosing to stand in one spot.
It was Angela that saw it first; the light had disappeared from his eyes. Seeley Joseph Booth, aged 75, had finally lost the will to live. She passed on the news first to Jack, then spread it to Zack, Cam and the kids, telling them all to say a quick goodbye before they missed their chance.
Sure enough, when everyone rose the next morning, Angela checked the master bedroom to discover that, not unexpectedly, Seeley Booth had passed away during the night.
From that day on, there was a huge hole in the family, the hole Temperance and Seeley had shared, the hole that could never be filled. From that day on, the family was never the same again.