He doesn’t remember. He doesn’t entirely forget either. The past, Angel’s past, are like tendrils of memory that are deep down and hiding most of the time. That isn’t his life anymore and in order to live his new life, he has to forget.
So he forgets. For twelve years, he is another person with a whole new life created by an ancient high priestess who owed him more than a few favors.
There are times when the tendrils try to dig their way out: a case where someone dies in an unusual way, an occasional dream or nightmare, or most prominently when he relapses back into his gambling addiction.
So he is Booth. Not Angel, just Booth. Even when a case gets weird and Hodgins makes a joke about it being a vampire killer or a werewolf, Booth just laughs and moves on, ignoring the churning in his stomach. Every time, without fail, Brennan and her squints find the rational explanation.
Until there’s a body. Just skin and bones, as if everything else in side had been suctioned out. Nothing else, no indication that there was ever anything else holding it all together. Brennan is determined to figure out what happened and Booth quietly follows every lead, but deep down he knows this one is different. He just doesn’t know why until he sees her.
He’s chasing a suspect through an abandoned warehouse and in the middle of wondering why it’s always an abandoned warehouse, he sees a flash of blonde hair come running in from the other direction. He knows her instantly, before he even gets a good look at her face. It’s like his heart knows her before his mind recognizes her.
Booth stands there in shock, watching as she whips a silver chain around the suspect, causing him to scream in pain as his human form turns into a bluish-grey bumpy-fleshed demon form. He struggles, but the girl gets him to the ground and neutralized with a few clever moves.
She turns to face Booth and her eyes go wide as he softly says, “Buffy.”
He doesn’t even know how he knows that’s her name and when he speaks, her expression softens. She quickly checks to make sure the suspect isn’t going anywhere and then dashes towards him, wrapping her arms around his middle.
The sound of her voice, the feel of her arms around him, even the faint whiff of her perfume - it all suddenly starts to come back to him. Booth is usually known for his steadiness, but it all makes him stumble backwards a little forcing Buffy to let go of him. It’s not like a flood of memories, it’s just as if everything snaps back into place where it always should have been.
Buffy’s face is a mixture of emotions that he can’t quite pin down, so Booth quietly says, “I remember.“
She looks like she’s holding back tears but also like she wants to hit him as she spits out, “We thought you were dead. After L.A., you just vanished - and - I was so worried. Even Gunn didn’t know where you went and how could you do this to us - to me?”
“Buffy, I think I can explain…”
Another voice, lower in pitch than Buffy’s suddenly interjected, “Booth? Who is this?”
He whips his head around to see Brennan standing in the nearest doorway. To a bystander, she might have looked non-plussed, but Booth could see just a hint of confusion at the presence of a woman who clearly knew her husband well.
Booth looks to Buffy, then back at Brennan, then towards their suspect and says, “Let’s take care of whatever this is and then we all have a lot to talk about.”
Putting the focus back on the case might just give him enough of a delay to figure out how to deal with this. He had no idea how he was going to explain all of this to his highly logical, science-minded wife. Perhaps, he would get lucky and a surprise Hellmouth would open up and swallow him before he had to try.
Booth looks at Hodgins and responds with a curt shake of his head. They had been locked in Brennan’s office for at least an hour, maybe longer, while Booth and Buffy explain everything from the history of Slayers to Angel’s own personal history. Hodgins, Angela and Brennan sat silent through most of it, but occasionally and unsurprisingly, Hodgins would chime in with a question.
“No, Shanshu. Like, ‘shawn-shoe’.”
Hodgins nods and continues, “So because you saved the world from beasties and demons, you - a nearly three-hundred year old vampire - got to become human?”
Booth nods while Angela interjects, “You doing a softshoe sounds more believable than that.”
“Listen, I only brought you two in on this because we need your help making this look like a normal crime with a normal suspect. You can’t tell anyone, not Aubrey, not the interns and definitely not Caroline.”
“What about Cam?”
“We’ll deal with Cam when she gets back from her trip with Arastoo.”
He can see Brennan shaking her head out of the corner of his eye so he turns towards her. “Bones -“
“If this is some kind of joke, you know I don’t appreciate that sort of humor and you’ve wasted a lot of time setting up this elaborate ruse and - I wish you’d just tell me the truth.”
She shakes her head again so Booth stands up from his chair and walks towards where she is standing by her desk. He grabs her hands and looks at her like he has looked at her so many times before. “Bones, you always know when I’m lying. Maybe not right away, but deep down, you always figure it out. I know this sounds insane, but it’s all real. You saw what happened back at the warehouse -“
“There has to be a rational, scientific explanation for that.”
“Maybe not your kind of science, but just because it’s not in a textbook somewhere doesn’t mean it isn’t real.”
Brennan tilts her head and frowns at him. “Magic? Magic is real? And Parker? What about Parker?”
Buffy says quietly, but loud enough for them to hear, “Who’s Parker?”
Booth turns to her and answers, “My son.”
“You have a son? A son besides Connor?”
“I actually have two sons. And a daughter. But Parker is… Parker is real. He’s just not biologically mine. His real father was never going to be in the picture and the priestess wanted Booth to have a full and thorough history, so she made Parker and Rebecca a part of that. Maybe to make up for not having Connor in my life anymore or who knows.”
Brennan’s back goes straighter, her jaw more defiant as she says, “So it’s all a lie.”
“Bones, no - it’s not like that -“
She shakes her head and puts a hand up to stop him, “I just - I need to go think.”
Brennan walks out of the room, no doubt to another area of lab to use work as a distraction. Booth sighs and turns back to the others. Angela still looks disbelieving, but Hodgins looks like he is mentally preparing for the eight thousand questions he plans to ask Booth.
“It’s a lot to process, even for her big brain. She’ll need time, a lot of time.” Angela pauses and gives him a tentative smile. “I need some time too. And - even aside from all the magic stuff, asking us to falsify evidence isn’t something we normally do around here.”
“I know, but we can’t exactly tell Caroline that our perp was a Srilnok demon. She’ll have us all put in a padded room.”
Hodgins opens his mouth to ask a question, then shuts it, then opens it again. Booth thinks he might go straight to the outlandish for his first question, but instead he finally asks, “So everything about your - about Booth’s life - in the years before we knew you? It’s all a lie?”
“It’s not a lie, not exactly - I didn’t even know I was lying. It’s a spell. A very elaborate one that inserted me into the memories of friends, family, colleagues, all of it. And until I saw Buffy, it was the only life I remembered.”
“You weren’t planted into my head though?”
“No, I didn’t meet Bones or any of you until after I became human. Everything since is real.”
Hodgins nods and mutters, “That’s one hell of a spell.”
Booth grins and says, “That’s why we don’t piss off ancient high priestesses.”
Buffy interjects, “Do I even want to know why she owed you a favor?”
“You really don’t.”
Angela suddenly stands up and clasps her hands together. “Listen, if I’m going to go make up some evidence before anyone else starts poking around and try to wrap my brain around this latest revelation, I better get started.”
Booth nods and watches her walk out while Hodgins goes to follow her, pausing when his chair reaches Booth. He lowers his head and in a completely serious tone asks, “Aliens?”
“Not that I know of. Buffy?”
She shakes her head and looks sympathetically towards Hodgins, “Over 20 years of slaying and haven’t seen one yet.”
Hodgins sighs dejectedly so Booth gives him a gentle slap on the shoulder. “Keep hope alive, buddy.”
Hodgins wheels out, leaving Booth and Buffy alone, awkwardly and silently alone. Booth goes to sit in the chair beside her, but Buffy jumps up and starts pacing the room. After an excruciatingly long silence, she finally turns to face him. “I’m glad you’re okay.”
“You’re not still mad?”
“I’m furious, but I’m glad you’re okay. You -“ Her voice cracks a little, like she is trying to hold back whatever she is really feeling. “ You made a life for yourself, a really great one. And I’m - glad.”
She shrugs and gives him a tiny bit of a smile. “I think I kept holding on to this teenage hope that someday we’d figure it all out. You. Me. All of it. That the cookies would be fully baked and you’d show up on my doorstep -“
“Buffy,” he starts to interject but Buffy puts her hand up to stop him.
“It’s okay. I haven’t been a teenager for a long time. I never really thought you were dead and I stopped holding out hope for you to show up a few years back, but -“
“You want to know why I didn’t?” She nods, so he continues, “I had to get away from that life. Demons, vampires, werewolves, all of that. I knew that - as much as I will always love you - that if I ran straight to you, I’d never be done with it. And I’d be human and a liability -“
“Xander, Giles and Dawn are human and they’re not -“
“I know, but it’s not just that. I was a waste of humanity when I still was one. Had I never met Darla, I probably would have continued to waste my life away. And I wanted - something normal, a real chance at a real life. And, Buffy, your life will never be normal.”
She smirks and responds, “Tell me about it.”
“So I got to be normal. Still in a weirdly dangerous job, but a normal job. I have kids, a wife, friends who aren’t demons or witches or slayers.”
She takes the seat next to him again and sighs, “Do you think it will ever be normal again? After this?”
“I don’t know. But even if it isn’t, at least I got the time I had. I got to be a real dad to my kids. A husband. A friend. I have an actual job that pays me in actual money. I got to be a real person for the first time in almost three hundred years.”
Buffy smiles at him and softly says, “I’m a little jealous.”
“It’s not all perfect. My knees hurt all the time.”
She laughs and shrugs her shoulders, “Well, you are very old.”
They catch up a bit more before Booth sends Buffy to work with Hodgins and Angela on the case, having her pose as a visiting associate from Oxford to other Jeffersonian employees. Buffy, for her part, gets Giles, a real associate from Oxford, on the line to help with tips on covering up the more demonic aspects of the case.
Booth looks for Brennan in the Bones room and is surprised that she isn’t there working on some cold case or something from the archive. He eventually finds her upstairs in the lounge with a stack of books she must have dug up from the Jeffersonian’s vast archives.
She looks up from a dusty old tome that is almost as old as he is. “There’s so much lore. It’s supposed to be fiction, rumors, tall tales, fairy tales, scary stories people tell their children to keep them in line but - how am I suddenly supposed to change my entire worldview to - to - this. I’m not there yet. I can’t believe in all of this.“
“You trust me, right?”
“Should I? Do I even know you?”
“You know me. Seeley Booth. That’s who I am now. Angel was my past, and I’m never going back to that. Seeley Booth is the only person I want to be.”
He takes a seat on the couch next to her and watches as she keeps shaking her head. “Everything’s different now.”
Brennan tilts her head and stares at him blankly, so he continues, “I love you. That’s the same. I think you still love me. That’s the same.”
“Of course I still love you.”
“Then that’s all that matters. As long as that never changes, and it never will, then we’ll get through all of this. We’ve gotten through worse.”
Brennan shuts her book and lays it on the stack in front of her. “Worse, maybe. But, we’ve never gotten through anything this strange.”
Booth didn’t want to tell her that he sure had, or at least he had when he was still Angel. “I’m sorry.”
“I’m not sure why you’re apologizing. You didn’t know you weren’t Seeley Booth this whole time.”
“But Angel knew what he was doing. And messing with people’s lives that way, maybe it was the wrong choice.”
Finally, Brennan smiles a little and says, “Maybe not. We’ve helped a lot of people and we’ve had a lot of fun. It’s just - I can’t really believe I’m married to a vampire.”
“Former vampire. I don’t know if I’ll ever believe vampires are real.”
“Buffy could probably introduce you to a few. In case you need extra proof.”
Most people would have said absolutely not to this, but his fearless wife - always the scientist looking for proof - seems to contemplate it for a moment. “Maybe someday. When and if I finally come to terms with all of this.”
Booth grins a little, having a sudden visual of Brennan wanting to run every sort of medical exam possible on a vampire so she could understand every single thing about their biology.
Her smile fades and she states matter-of-factly, “You loved her.”
“Angel did, very much, that’s all true. But it wasn’t meant to be. I could have been with her, but I chose this life instead. And I wouldn’t change it. I promise that you’re the only one I want to be with.”
Brennan subtly rolls her eyes and says, “I’m not jealous. I just wanted to know. Because if you loved her, then she must be a good person, a person we can probably trust.”
“You can trust Buffy with your life.”
Brennan nods and as if nothing weird had happened today, she leans in and gives him a quick kiss on the lips. She stands and waves one hand over her pile of books, “I’ll deal with this later. We have a case to wrap up.”
Booth stands and dutifully follows her out of the lounge. There was a long road of understanding ahead of them, but Brennan wasn’t going to let it get in the way of her work and that is just one of the million reasons he loves her.
Buffy stays in town for three days and even though they’re like night and day, her and Brennan get along like old friends. Buffy even sets up Facetime calls with Giles, so Brennan can get a more academic perspective on the whole supernatural world. Hodgins almost mercilessly pesters her with questions, but Angela is able to hold him back at least some of the time.
Booth and Brennan meet her for breakfast at the diner, and then wait outside with her until her cab arrives to take her to the airport.
When she hugs Brennan goodbye, Brennan asks, “Will we see you again?”
Buffy lets go of her and shrugs. “I don’t know. I usually only go where there’s a lot of activity and DC isn’t all that active right now. This Srilnok demon was a stray. But, stay in touch? I could use a team like yours sometimes.”
“Definitely. I’ve already sent some of my academic work on voodoo as a religious practice to Giles. He requested it.”
Buffy laughs and responds, “Of course he did.”
She turns to Booth and he hugs her tightly then lets her go. Buffy looks up at him with a smile and asks softly, “You’re good, right?”
“Better than good. How about you?”
“I’m great. Finally.”
Booth can see it in her expression, after so many years of struggling with her slayer identity, Buffy was truly content. It gves him a sense of peace knowing that even if he never sees her again, he knows she is okay.
“Say hello to Willow and Giles for me.”
Booth grins and shrugs his shoulders before he playfully answers, “If you insist.”
Buffy laughs at him and hoists her bag over one shoulder just as her cab pulls up. “You two take care. No more chasing Srilnok demons without a certified slayer, got it?”
They both nod and watch her get in the car, waving as the car drives away. Brennan uses her elbow to gently nudge Booth in the arm and he smiles at her. “We’re okay, right?”
“Of course. Just one question though. You got turned into a puppet?”
Booth rolls his eyes and lets out an exasperated sigh. “Did Buffy tell you that? Giles?”
“It’s not important who told me. I’m more interested in how that works biologically and anatomically speaking.”
“What? As a scientist, it’s a perfectly acceptable line of study -“
She grins at him and starts heading back into the diner as she excitedly chats more about the biology of puppet transformation. Booth can’t help but smile, though he mutters under his breath, “I never should have let those two become friends.”