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Bones and Soul

Chapter Text

"Hold still! I want to write on your cast!" Parker's tongue peeked out of the corner of his mouth as he concentrated.

"Gentle, Parker. The broken bones in your father's--"

"It's fine!" Booth grimaced.

Parker continued writing. "See? Nothing hurts dad."

Booth glared at Brennan, gesturing silence while the Sharpie squeaked.

"There!" Parker announced. "Now it's your turn, Dr. Bones!"

"I don't know--"

"Go ahead, Bones. My bones should have encouragement from my Bones. Get it? My bones, Bones," he wiggled his eyebrows, pointing to his arm, then his partner.

She just frowned while Parker giggled.

Next to Parker's "Best Dad Ever!!!" she wrote, "Heal well. Bones."

"Can you rotate your arm slightly toward me?"

Booth looked up, blinked, then moved his arm, ignoring the lance of pain through his wrist. Bones shifted her weight so that she was facing him and took hold of the cast. She moved the Sharpie with her careful precision, making fourteen lines before capping the marker.

Parker, who had stood, staring raptly as Bones wrote, squealed and said, "Daddy! It looks like your tattoo!"

"It does, bub. Just like it." He looked from her to the carefully drawn symbol on the inside wrist of his cast. "Bones--"

She smiled a bit shyly then shrugged. "I just thought you might miss it with it covered for six weeks."

His breath caught slightly. His Bones writing to heal his bones was one thing. With one finger, he lightly touched where she'd written "Soul."

***
***

Chapter Text

"I feel disgusting."

Brennan didn't look up from the table where she was carefully arranging pieces of pelvis. "What's wrong?" she asked, her voice sounding a little bit strained from having her neck bent.

Angela waved a hand dismissively, but her lip curled as she said, "I have my period."

"Ah."

"Usually it's fine, but it's really heavy this month."

"That's never fun," Brennan said, still staring at the bones on her table.

Angela shifted one shoulder and tilted her head, her opposite hand massaging her neck. "Yeah. I've already gone through two pair of underwear this morning and my emergency pair most emphatically does not go with these pants."

"Ms. Montenegro, do you really believe this conversation is suitable for a work environment?"

"Morning, Dr. Goodman. I didn't see you there," Angela said, a slightly awkward smile quirking her lips before she waved her hand again and muttered, "What the hell."

"How do certain underwear not 'go with' certain pants?" Zack asked, adding several bones to the growing skeleton.

"Well," Hodgins said, glancing from his computer screen to the group, "it could have to do with what she's planning to do later, though, if she's on the rag, that's less likely than..."

Dr. Goodman glared.

"Or it could just be color coordination. So, it looks like the clothing remnants were composed of linen, cotton, and wool fibers that were probably a shade of dark blue or purple."

"Thank you, Dr. Hodgins."

Brennan stood and interrupted her boss to say, "Sadly, that information is nearly useless. That combination of fibers and dye color doesn't even narrow us down to a century." She removed her safety glasses. "I'm fairly certain from the dental evidence that these remains are between one hundred thirty and one hundred eighty years old, but we'll have to wait for the carbon dating on the garment particles. Zack, let me know this afternoon what evidence you've found on the bones that gives information about person's life."

"Yes, Dr. Brennan."

Brennan removed her gloves. "Angela, have you thought of trying a menstrual cup? I started using one in college when doing extensive work far from modern conveniences and it's comfortable, convenient, and much better for the environment in terms of waste."

"Really? I've heard of things like a moon cup or a lady cup, but I never knew anyone who used one--"

"Ms. Montenegro? Is there any compelling reason you joined us that has to do with the work of this institution?"

"Not really. I got to work about an hour and a half ago, I'm uncomfortable, and I don't have much to work on, so I decided to take a walk."

"You went through two pair of underwear in an hour and a half? That sucks, man."

Angela turned to Hodgins' sympathetic tone. "Tell me about it, even if one was just on the way to work."

"I still don't understand how underwear 'go with' certain pants." Zack was walking around the table, surveying the skeleton.

"I've found that the fit of certain pants lends itself better to a certain cut of undergarments," Brennan offered. "Pants that are more tight-fitting seem more suited to underwear with less fabric. I find certain fabrics complement one another better as well, and tend to prefer to match the hand of the fabric of the two garments."

Zack looked up from the clavicle he was examining. "I see your point. I myself prefer briefs regardless of pants, but I can't imagine that tight-fitting pants would be comfortable with boxers."

"I'll be going now. Dr. Brennan, let me know if you learn anything further." Dr. Goodman straightened his tie as he walked away.

Hodgins and Angela exchanged glances, their eyes sparkling with humor. They contained themselves for only a little over a minute--until Dr. Goodman was out of earshot--and then cracked up.

"What?" Brennan asked.

"Did you see the look on his face?" Hodgins gasped.

Angela just held a hand to her mouth, giggling. "I know. I mean, I think he turned a whole shade paler when Brennan said the word 'menstrual.'"

Brennan looked back and forth between the two of them and her mouth fell slightly open. "Okay, that was just mean."

They both attempted to pull straight faces, but kept giggling.

Brennan rolled her eyes. "Angela, were you at least serious? Because I can recommend..."

"I was, honey. I am. It's just that Goodman's such an easy mark."

"Because I can show you sites where you can shop for a cup."

"Okay." Angela waved to Hodgins as she followed Brennan off the platform.

Zack looked at their departing forms, then at Hodgins. He stood silently, frowning, then, just as Hodgins stood to leave, said, "Clearly I missed something. What was mean?"

***
***

Chapter Text

***

Angela's hair, swept casually up, glowed with red highlights in the sun that shone through the window. Her face was lit by pure emotion as she stared down.

Tucked in the crook of her arm was a head, still cone-shaped, and coated in dark down that curled up. The rocker creaked softly as Angela hummed one of her father's songs.

Brennan stepped nearer and felt her tear ducts contract. Her throat felt tight and her chest was both constricted and fully expanded, though that was impossible. The purple and pink bees and ladybugs decorating the boppy pillow she had given her friend blurred and her mouth dropped open as she took a quick breath.

"Sweetie!" Angela turned. "I'm so glad you're here!"

"Do you need anything?"

"No," she said, looking back down. "I don't need anything else."

Brennan felt the muscles in her mouth and cheeks contract into a smile. "She's beautiful." She reached out to tiny toes and stroked the soft, new skin.

The moment was deep and lush and filled Brennan with reverence. She breathed the richness of the contentment that settled around her. The only sound was the baby's rhythmic suckling.

"Angela." She stopped, feeling suddenly awkward.

"What, sweetie?"

"How does it...how do you feel?"

Angela looked directly into her eyes. "I feel like I could work miracles."

"Some would say you did."

Angela laughed and shook her head. "It didn't seem so miraculous when Jack was going to drug me or drag me to a hospital. Don't tell him," she lowered her voice, "But for an hour or so, I almost let him. This is exactly where I want to be, though. A little sore, a little hoarse, but look what I got out of it!" She brushed a finger along the cheek moving against her breast. "An hour old and she's already a nursing pro, can you believe it?"

"I think you're both amazing. I'm...I'm overwhelmed." She could hear her voice waver. "I can't imagine how you must feel."

The tiny foot moved in her hand and Brennan let go. The baby's arm flailed and she moved her head back and forth.

"Aww," Angela cooed, propping the baby on her shoulder and patting the back of her grasshopper-decorated onesie until she burped slightly. Angela smiled broadly again. She reached out and settled the baby into Brennan's arms.

The girl's eyes were open and she stared into Brennan's face while the soft warmth of her body melted into and molded against Brennan. The ripple of energy that suffused her with calm was something Brennan could only call love.

Angela leaned toward them and stroked her daughter's hair. "Aunt Temperance," she said, "I'd like you to meet Lorelei Asha Joy Hodgins."

This time the tears that filled Brennan's eyes spilled over.

***
***

Chapter Text

***

"There!" Brennan set black plastic trains on the game board.

"No! I needed to get to Vegas!" Emma wailed.

"Wait till you're older, kiddo," Russ said.

Max settled on the couch and sampled his eggnog. "Mmm. Good stuff." He smiled at the dining room table and at the rocking chair where dark curls rested in the crook of Amy's arm while she nursed. "Grandchildren are...well, you two will see someday."

Booth took a drink of his beer. "You've never told them, have you?"

Max turned to Booth, frowned. "Told who what?"

"Russ and Bones."

"What the hell are you talking about, Booth?"

Booth watched Parker high-five Hayley, who grinned. Having everyone including Parker for the holidays made the place feel like home in a way it hadn't since he'd moved in. He took another pull on his beer and looked at Max out of the corner of his eye. "That Russ isn't your kid."

"Of course he's my kid."

"In all the ways that count, sure," Booth said easily. "But you and Bones have blue eyes, and Christine had blue eyes and Russ...his eyes are as brown as mine and Parker's. Now, I may not have Bones's advanced degrees, but high school science is enough to say that doesn't add up."

There was more laughter and teasing from the table. Both men sipped their drinks. The rocker creaked softly in time to Amy's humming.

"Tempe knows," Max said. "I don't know about Russ. If he does, he never said anything."

"But you decided to tell her? All this and--"

"What do you take me for?"

"Do you really want to go there, Max?" Booth grinned. "You may be my sort-of father-in-law, but I don't think we're close enough for that much honesty."

"Cops. I can't believe my daughter is having children with a cop." Max rolled his eyes. "No. It was homework. Tempe came to me in tears in fourth grade, told me that her homework said Russ wasn't her brother." Max's face softened with memory. "I told her that of course he was her brother, and she showed me her Punnett square." He glanced up. "It's a chart to show inheritance of traits--"

"I know what a Punnett square is. With the monk and colors of pea flowers. I'm not a complete idiot." It was his turn to roll his eyes.

"Very good, Booth! Anyway, we talked about all the ways Russ was her brother: how he looked out for her, teased her, understood her better than anyone, and had adored her since the day she was born." Max looked over at them squabbling over a game space and smiled. "I told her that even if he hadn't been biologically related, that he was still her brother."

Booth followed Max's gaze. "More than one kind of family. Yeah. I told her that for years before she started to believe me."

"Those little girls of Russ's? They're my granddaughters, just like they're Tempe's nieces--and yours for that matter--no less than that little fella Amy's holding, even though we share no DNA whatsoever. It's the same with Russ. Except that Russ is Tempe's brother."

"Christine had him before you got married?"

"After. But that wasn't important. Christine...Ruth was my family. My only family. She meant more to me than anything in my life except those two kids...and with them, it was because they were a part of her. Russ was my kid because he came from Christine, and that was all that ever mattered."

Another groan went up from the table, and this time Russ was celebrating.

***
***

Chapter Text

***

Sweets never can stay out of things. Stupid word association game.

"Hunger.

"Sex."

"Whoa." That is one topic he does not want to discuss with her, especially not with Sweets in the room. Fortunately, she's off on a different tangent.

"Horse."

"Cowboy."

"Child."

"Baby."

"Booth."

A child, a baby, and she thinks of him. So he shifts the focus, pretends offense. "What, what do you think I'm a baby?"

"You're a father."

Of course. She makes it logical...but the fact that she thinks of him as a father does nothing to reduce the turn-on of her thinking of him and a baby in nearly the same breath as sex. "Oh. Mother."

"Birth."

"Happy."

"Sperm."

She has no belief in Freudian slips, no matter that this entire conversation is one big Freudian, sexual mess, and all he can see is his sperm, making a baby, with her giving birth, them happy. "Sperm? Isn't this getting a little weird?"

Sweets, damn him, says, "No, keep going."

"Okay. Egg."

"Pregnancy."

He is struck speechless with the visual of a very pregnant, glowing Bones, a Bones holding, nursing their baby, and all he wants is a way out, out, out of this conversation now.

And his phone rings. Thank God. He answers, listens, smiles. "Sorry, Sweets. Great game, but we gotta go." He nudges Bones's elbow and she stands, not at all in the awkward, unbalanced way she would if she were full-term-- "Let's move. Dead, decaying body's waiting." He puts a hand at Bones's lower back and does not think about the increased curve pregnancy would bring.

***

Babies are haunting him. The whole damned case. First there's the woodworker widow, and Bones picking up the baby girl and swinging her around.

"You like spatial disorientation, don't you? Yes, you do," she croons. She has no idea how good she is with kids, despite her unconventional words.

"She likes you," the mother says.

Booth doesn't think about how he would spoil a little girl, how she would have Bones' eyes and cheekbones and his sense of humor, how he would scare the shit out of her prom date by cleaning his guns--plural--when the date arrived. Bones doesn't want him, doesn't want children, and he's not thinking about his partner this way.

No matter how beautiful and brilliant and caring she is.

No matter how sexy she was when they took care of little Andy last year. No matter that he knows there is a chance--a good chance--they could be awesome.

***

Another baby. He's in hell.

"Your little boy is adorable," Bones says, with that gorgeous smile that lights up her whole face.

"Oh, thank you."

Bones wiggles her fingers, those long, graceful, lithe, competent fingers at the baby. "Phalanges. Dancing phalanges!"

She has to stop doing things like this or he's not going to survive this case. Or ever get happy family images out of his head. He uses his stern voice. "Bones."

"Right, sorry," she says, and sits. But she doesn't sit silently (when does she ever?), and soon tells the woman the baby is not her husband's, then expounds on how, "Research shows that babies strongly resemble their fathers in the first year of life. The evolutionary theory being that they're less likely to be abandoned if the fathers recognize themselves in their offspring."

Great, now the baby in his mental pictures has face that matches his baby pictures, Parker's baby pictures.

"Bones!"

"Didn't Parker look like your baby pictures in his first year?"

"Yeah, Bones, he did."

They've got to finish this case and be done talking about babies for at least a month. He can't broach the idea of them, let alone them "producing offspring" as she would no doubt phrase it. He knows she would not be pleased to learn he's fantasized about anything of the sort, especially when it's exactly what she so vehemently doesn't want.

But her words echo in his head. "Sex. Booth. Sperm. Pregnancy. Birth. Child." He can't help but wonder about her sub-conscious, and if his visions have even the slightest chance of ever becoming reality.

***
***

Chapter Text

There is a host of reasons Max knows something is up.

Tempe called him. It wasn't the second or fourth Saturday morning of the month, when she usually makes her Responsible Daughter calls.

Tempe asked him to have lunch with her. She has sought him out to spend time so few times in the past five years that he could count it on one hand if he were missing a couple of fingers.

She slipped in, just before hanging up, that Booth would be joining them if that was okay with him. Tempe never tells him that in advance: Booth is just usually there. He's pretty sure it's equal parts happenstance and Booth's desire to protect Tempe, which Max appreciates, even though he'd never hurt his little girl. Tempe sounded nervous. She was clearly trying to be subtle, but she'd always been as subtle as a sledgehammer.

When he arrives, Booth and Tempe are already at their table. They are too preoccupied to notice him as they whisper together, their chairs closer than usual, their heads close together, the backs of their hands touching. Max observes for a minute and feels a grin split his face.

He composes himself, putting on his Concerned Father face, walks down the narrow aisle, and clears his throat.

Booth and Tempe scoot apart. Tempe sits up extra straight, her long neck held like they'd taught her in those four years of ballet she had (that had been Ruth's idea) back before her science club activities and supplementary academics had begun to consume her time and focus.

"Dad," she begins, "we have something to tell you."

She sounds rehearsed, stilted, and she glances at Booth for reassurance. He gestures for her to continue.

"First I want to remind you that we are adults and our choices are our own."

"Of course they are, honey. I would never interfere--"

They shot him with simultaneous killer glares.

"--unless I thought you were in danger." He looked at them and they relaxed slightly, but Booth continued to watch him like, well, like the law enforcement officer he was.

"Booth and I are..." Tempe paused, searching for a word. "We're together. Dating. As a couple."

"Well, it's about time! Congratulations!" He reached to shake Booth's hand, but Tempe interrupted.

"There's more, Dad, wait!"

He sat back.

"We're having a baby." She scrutinized his face. "Together. I'm pregnant."

He smiled. "Then I guess I'm going to be a grandfather!"

"You already are a grandfather, Dad."

"But this will be the first grandchild you or Russ has had, first one who started out in our family."

"Booth says there are different kinds of families."

"That's true enough." Max folded his hands on the table and leaned forward. Booth mimicked his posture, but was poised to be in front of Tempe. When would the man learn that he would never hurt his daughter? He looked back and forth at them, then said, "Tempe, are you happy?"

"I--have thought about having a child for a while now, and I'm pleased at the prospect. And Booth is an excellent partner and a fine biological match--"

"I didn't ask you for your scientific opinion, baby. I asked if you're happy. Are you happy to be having a baby? Are you looking forward to it?"

She only held his gaze a moment, then glanced away. He let the silence sit between them.

"Yes," she finally said. "I'm happy."

He looked at Booth. "I'm not even going to ask you if you love my daughter. Only thing I haven't been able to figure out is why you haven't done anything about it before now. I guess she's pretty good at pushing people away, though. You know, of course--"

"That if I hurt her or don't do right by her I'm dead? Yeah. Got that."

"Figured so." He smiled at Tempe. "Do you love him?"

She looked from him to Booth and back, her eyes flitting. Booth laid his hand over hers and squeezed and she breathed out.

"Yes. I love him."

"I already know he'll protect you with his own life. Does he make you happy?"

"Yes," she whispered.

"Well, good, then." He shook Booth's hand, and Booth bested him at the painfully firm grip. He smiled, satisfied. This man would take care of Tempe. "Congratulations, you two. You three! I love you, honey."

They stood and he hugged Tempe. "I'm happy for you, honey. Really happy."

Chapter Text

"Give her to me. Give her to me." It's all Brennan can say, arms held out. "Give her to me."

The cord that still connects them is slippery along her vagina and only reaches her belly, where her daughter lies against her bare skin. She cups one palm under a red cheek and places a hand against the little back.

She is barely aware of the midwives wiping off the little body she is cradling, of delivering the placenta, of Booth cutting the cord, of them cleaning her up. She is only distantly aware, even, of Booth's hand, warm on her back, of his kiss on her cheek, of his murmured, "I'm so proud of you" and "Thank you."

She keeps her baby close, her strong arms supporting the tiny form, ready to protect her from anything, and never let go. Irrationally, she cannot imagine letting even Booth hold this new life made from parts of both of them.

As her daughter--who hasn't cried--latches on for the first time--she's so strong--and stares into Brennan's eyes, Brennan feels her stomach clench along with the soft contractions of her uterus returning to its normal size. Her throat tightens and, to her horror, sobs well up from deep inside her.

Over and over, her mind plays her parents driving away, Russ driving away, then someone taking this child away, and her arms tighten convulsively around the little girl, and she rocks back and forth as her baby feeds, hoping she is not ruining her daughter's first moments in the world.

Booth rubs circles on her back, strokes her hair, and whispers meaningless reassurances for over half an hour until the storm within her calms.

She has no words to offer, though, only her breasts, her body, and her life.

Chapter Text

"What if this time--"

"Hey," Hodgins soothed, "we talked about this. We'll be fine either way."

"But if Michael wasn't our one in four...this one has a one in three chance...that's worse, right?" She could hear panic edging her voice.

He smoothed her hair back, pulled her eyes to meet his. "It doesn't work like that. Anyway, haven't you heard? I've got a voice like hot tea with honey."

She laughed, sniffled, and admitted, "Michael is going to love being a big brother."

"And if the odds are against us...we'll cry. And have your dad teach the baby guitar."

Chapter Text

She reaches up and light, patterned cotton ripples over her. She fits her arms through cap sleeves and reaches around to do up the zipper on the first new dress she's had in three years. Nothing from the thrift shops or local clothing stores in the mall would fit.

"For every girl, there should be a pretty dress at important occasions," Frau Becker had declared with that clipped finality that brooked no argument. Even though she didn't drive, Frau Becker had taken her into the city to Marshall Field's for a new dress to fit her lanky but ever curvier figure.

Temperance had felt like they had tried on every dress in the store. Frau Becker, who, over the last seven months, had touched her only to shake Temperance's hand upon her initial arrival or accidentally when passing food at dinner, had tugged and tucked at the dresses. "I was a seamstress, you know, when I have first arrived after the war," she had said.

Temperance had just wanted the background roar of the store and the fussing to stop, had been ready to beg Frau Becker to take her home and just let her wear an old skirt and blouse, when the older woman had brought in this dress. There were shell patterns on a background that swirled with blues that reminded her of where the sky met the ocean on the trip to the beach back when she'd had a family.

When she'd put it on, Frau Becker had tucked at the collar and nodded. "Yes. This one. It shows best the blue of your eyes."

Looking in the mirror, Temperance blinks back tears as she realizes that she looks, like she always wanted to, like her mother. For the first time, she sees that she is pretty.

She sets the mortar board parallel to the floor and pins her graduation cap on. It is not as secure as it could be, but that is because her hair is down, like Dad liked it. He would always twist a curl around his finger, saying, "Give your old dad a hug." No one has hugged her in over two years and her hair is too long to curl. It catches on Mom's earrings, the ones that had been out on the dresser when DCFS drove her away from home for the last time. If she'd had time to plan, she would have picked different ones. These weren't Mom's favorites.

She drapes the gown she ironed so meticulously last night over her arm and heads down the stairs of the ivy-covered cottage. It's just the kind of house she used to think she'd live in when she was a professor. Frau Becker--though she should be Dr. Becker--is a professor of economics and her house is as ordered and structured as her speech and her appearance. It is reassuring, always knowing where things go and how things will be done.

Temperance knows that, as arranged, she and Frau Becker will be picked up by Kendra, the salutatorian, and her father, who will drive them to graduation. They will leave at precisely six. She has 30 minutes until then and she rehearses the speech about the students' futures the school requires her, as valedictorian, to deliver.

***

Sitting in the hard chair on stage, she forces herself to hold her hands still in her lap, to keep her head up, her shoulders back, as Frau Becker demands. By next week she will begin classes at Northwestern University and she hopes the scholarship she accepted would make her parents proud. She scans the audience members with their patchwork of clothing and hair colors, facial shapes, movements, and postures. Frau Becker is watching and nods to her with almost a smile.

After the speeches and the calling of names, after the endless repetition of "Pomp and Circumstance," after the cascade of spinning hats rises and falls, the students and audience flow together. She stands apart, watching. There are cheers and hugs and tears and kisses, flashes from cameras, silly poses with groups of students, family groups. Mr. Buxley shakes her hand before excusing himself.

She's not crying, not really, as mothers hug their daughters, as fathers kiss their children on the cheeks, as older and younger siblings wrap themselves around waists and necks.

She looks away from the liquid movement of the crowd and, for a second, a Caucasian male with light hair and round, plain features, seems to be looking at her from near the back of the auditorium. She frowns, tips her head, blinks, and he's gone, swallowed up by people, distance, and inadequate light. If she were less rational, she might think it was Matt Brennan.

"We are ready, Temperance," Frau Becker's voice says next to her. "Your parents, they would be very proud. I believe you will be very successful."

With only one glance back at that aisle near a side door, Temperance follows the older woman out of the auditorium. She has a life to live, and there were no such things as ghosts.

Chapter Text

***

Russ hadn't moved in a long time, but the motions came back easily.

Clothes stuffed in a duffle, mementos left on a shelf.

Over her science book, Tempe glared at him.

He hadn't remembered for years, but in his gut, he knew.

It was Ruth and Max Keenan who'd left them. And he couldn't tell her that.

A faceless woman said foster care would be best for her. He had no job, no money, no clue.

Tossing his bag in the car, he didn't look in the mirror.

Tempe calling his name, voice wavering and desperate, haunted him for years.

***
***

Chapter Text

***

A pinch between his shoulders. Again. He'd learned to recognize it those eight months in prison.

Russ spun around. He froze in a defensive stance.

The man facing him spread his hands. Smiled.

"Dad?"

Russ's elbow hit the pavement hardest. He moaned through an aching jaw.

"What the hell were you thinking, leaving her alone like that?"

It was a voice Russ had long since given up hearing again, until that message on Tempe's machine a few months back.

Dad kicked him in the hip. Hard enough to notice, not hard enough to hurt much.

"First you leave her when she's fifteen," Dad's voice squeaked. "Then, after all this time knowing it's dangerous, you let her search?"

Russ scrambled to his feet. "Come on, Dad, no one tells Tempe what to do, or not to do. You told me that when she was five years old. You were proud of it."

"She does get that from me." Dad grinned.

This was surreal. He'd figured Mom and Dad were dead years before Tempe's FBI partner brought him to Washington DC to identify the family car. And here was Dad. Older, a little odd-looking, but still protective, still demanding. Still Dad.

Still alive.

All these years. Fifteen years he'd been without a family, and Dad was alive. And smiling.

Then Dad was on the pavement and Russ's hand throbbed like the son of a bitch Dad was. Heat burned through Russ's belly, hands, and face and flowed from his throat. "You left us. I was nineteen. I had no job, no money. Nothing. And everyone--everyone--told me the best thing I could do was to let someone else take care of Tempe. What did you expect me to do? How did you expect this to turn out?"

"You ungrateful little--" Dad lurched head-first into Russ's belly, tackling him to the ground. "We were protecting you both! I expected you both to stay alive!"

"Unlike Mom, huh?" The words tasted as bitter as they sounded.

"What happened to her--and worse--could have happened to you and Tempe." Dad's sounded ragged. "We couldn't be the cause of that, no matter what. And we knew that at least you had each other." Dad's eyes narrowed, and he looked more dangerous than Russ knew was possible. "Or so we thought."

"There were bills, Dad! Bills and a house we had no legal right to. You weren't dead, you weren't anywhere, and I knew. I knew, Dad, that it had something to do with the Keenans, with who we had been."

"Then you knew that leaving was us sending the same message I gave you when you were five years old," Dad roared. "Take care of your little sister! You knew it was dangerous and--"

Russ leaned in and roared right back. "What was I supposed to do, Dad? Tell her? Tell her she used to be called Joy? Tell her that her whole life was a lie, right down to our birth certificates? Shatter the memories that were the one stable thing she had left after you and Mom ran without a word?"

Dad sat back. He looked old. An old man with a vicious right hook.

"You were gone, I was useless, and the police couldn't help. But DCFS could."

"You called the police?"

Russ stared at his father's incredulity. "Yes, we called the police, Dad. You and Mom were missing."

"Well, that was your first mistake. Of many." Dad's lip actually curled when he said that.

Russ clenched a fist. Almost hit Dad again. "Look, there was nothing that could help me. I was nineteen, a legal adult. But all I could do was get a job that wouldn't even support me, let alone both of us. DCFS promised they could take care of Tempe. They promised, Dad." He looked away. "And then she wouldn't talk to me for fifteen years."

"I didn't talk to either of you for--"

He whirled on his father and growled, "That was your choice, Dad. I did the best I could for my sister, and I lost her anyway."

"It was the same with you two and your mom. I lost you all."

They sat in silence for several minutes. Dad climbed to his feet and held out a hand.

"Look, son, I didn't come to dredge up old grudges. I came because I need you to help me. We've got to convince Tempe to give up looking for me."

Russ looked up, squinting as the sun came over Dad's shoulder. He took Dad's hand and let the older man help him up. "Dad, remember what we just said? Tempe doesn't give up on anything once she's started."

"I know. I taught her that."

"You did. In more ways than one." He looked Dad in the eye.

The old man didn't look away, then clapped him on the shoulder. "We'd better get started then."

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Chapter Text

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"Congratulations, Sweetie."

Brennan clasps her and holds on tight, the way she does when she lets that huge heart take over. It's happened more often these past couple of years, and Angela smiles at Booth.

Booth is watching his wife, and his posture and face are more open and at ease than Angela has ever seen him.

Angela stands, taking Brennan's hands. "You look so happy."

"Thank you, Ange. For everything."

"I've got one more thing for you."

Booth steps forward, his hand finding the small of Brennan's back. It's belonged there for longer than the two of them have called each other friend.

"Angela, you've done so much," Brennan begins.

Angela's having none of that and shushes her with the wave of a hand. "It's being delivered to your house today. For your garden." She grins. "I've sent a photo to Booth's phone."

Booth's eyes narrow as he digs out the phone and turns it on. A few buttons and swipes later, Booth's face turns thoughtful. "I've seen something like this before..."

"Let me see." Brennan leans into his side and tips the phone toward her. "A dosojin!. Angela, this is beautiful."

"It's a reproduction, of course, since people keep stealing them from--"

"Japan! I saw these along some of the roads in Japan." Booth's face reddens slightly. "Some were much more..." He clears his throat.

"Erotic? Yes, the higher above sea level you go, the more erotic the dosojin tend to be. After all, they were the gods of marriage, fertility, and easy childbirth. Angela, this is beautiful."

Booth shakes his head. "Yeah. Thanks. ...For not getting the super-sexy kind."

Angela chuckled then leaned in close. "Just be sure to try out that second part on your honeymoon."

Brennan laughed, and Booth shook his head, as Angela quirked an eyebrow at them.

Brennan captured her husband's lips in a kiss and promised, "We will, Ange. We definitely will."

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