A/N - This is my first attempt at fan fiction. I have tried to keep B&B in character as much as possible. Constructive reviews are very much appreciated. Enjoy!
Thank you to my beta and very good friend, dgschneider. If you haven't read her story "Need," you really should. Thanks to hpaich for giving me a great prompt. And thanks to dharmamonkey for being a great cheerleader, pom poms and all.
Disclaimer - Bones and it's characters, sadly, do not belong to me. I'll let you know if that changes.
The Change in the Partnership
Booth walked in the front door and emptied his pockets into the bowl on the table. Trying to delay the coming conversation with Brennan, he paused, took a breath and looked around their home. It was a home, not just a house. They had built this home together. He loved the mix of her artifacts and his collectibles. It was an eclectic combination, one that he felt mirrored their personalities completely. In the twelve years they had been together professionally and nearly six years personally, everything they had accomplished had been because of the mix of their strengths.
"Bones, I'm home." Deciding that he couldn't delay any longer, he called out. "Where are you?"
He had no more finished the question when he heard the pounding of little feet across the hardwood floors. He braced himself as his five-year-old daughter threw herself up into his arms.
"Daddy! Daddy! Daddy! You're home! Did you miss me today?"
Booth smiled as he gave her a bear hug. "Of course, I missed you today! How could you even ask?" He set Christine back on her feet and squatted down to her level. "Hey, where's your mom? I want to tell her I'm home. I missed her today, too."
Christine pointed toward the back of the house. "She's sitting in the back yard. She doesn't look very happy. I tried talking to her. I wanted to tell her about Rachel C.'s new puppy, but she just kept nodding and saying 'uh huh,' but I could tell she wasn't' really listening. She told me I could watch TV!" Even Christine knew that things weren't quite right with Brennan. She would never suggest the Christine watch TV.
"Mom just has a lot to think about today. Everything will be fine. I promise. I always keep my promises, right? I'm going to go out and talk to her. Why don't you go read in your room for a while?"
Christine gave Booth a smile, another kiss and a hug and ran up the stairs to her room. Booth shook his head at his daughter's energy, wishing that she could share some with him. Days like this made him feel every one of his forty-five years.
Walking through the living room, Booth looked around at the evidence of Brennan's distraction. When she was able to work a "normal" day, Brennan usually tidied up when she got home. Today, there were books, magazines and toys strewn around the room. Booth took that as an indicator of Brennan's state of mind and decided that it wasn't good.
Adding to the clutter of the room, he shrugged out of his suit jacket and tossed it onto his favorite leather chair. His tie had come off as soon as he had left the Hoover that day.
Booth was making his way to the backyard, but decided that he needed to make a few stops along the way. His first stop was at the bar to pour himself two fingers of scotch. Next was a stop in the kitchen to get Brennan a glass of her favorite red wine. This was not going to be a beer conversation.
Booth juggled the glasses in one hand and opened the back door with the other. He stepped out onto the stone patio where is wife was sitting in a cedar Adirondack chair by the stone fire pit. He wasn't sure that she even knew he was there until he pulled another chair over and sat down directly in front of her.
"Earth to Bones!" Taking in her distracted look, he leaned in closer and brushed his hand across her cheek. "You okay, Bones? You look like you zoned out there."
Giving her head a shake, as if to clear the cobwebs, Brennan looked at Booth, surprised that he was home.
"Booth, I don't zone out. I just didn't hear you come home." She tried to change the subject away from her obvious distraction. "How was your day?"
He gave her a look of disbelief. "Bones, I meant that you looked like you were lost in thought. What were you thinking about?"
Now, it was her turn to give him the look. Sighing, whether in frustration or sadness Booth wasn't sure, Brennan's eyes met his, "You know what I'm thinking about. I find it's the only thing I can think about since our conversation."
He knew where her thoughts had been all day. He had known before he had called to give her the news that she was going to struggle with this. He knew when he walked through the door tonight that he had been right. He could see it in the disarray in the living room. Looking at her beautiful face, he could see it in her eyes.
"Listen, Bones, I know this would mean a lot of changes for us. I don't have to take this job. We can keep doing what we've been doing for all these years. We're good at it. We make a difference. But, if I were to take the job, I would be behind a desk full time. You're my partner. You don't work with other agents. I wouldn't trust another agent to protect you like I do, anyway. So, my becoming Deputy Director would probably put an end to your field work, too. That's why this isn't just my decision to make. We have to talk about this. We have to do this together. You have to tell me how you feel about it."
"Booth, you know I don't –"
Booth could almost feel the exasperation rolling off of Brennan in waves. This was going exactly as expected, if not exactly like he wanted. "Yes, Bones, I know you don't base your decisions on feelings. You don't have to say it. But I know you have feelings about the situation. What do you feel?"
Brennan leaned forward in her chair to get in Booth's face and to emphasize her point. "I feel that we need to discuss this rationally. I feel that emotions don't have anything to do with this decision. I feel like this discussion, so far, has been a waste of time."
Booth knew that he needed to make a preemptive strike now. Brennan's voice was getting louder with each sentence. People who didn't really know Brennan thought she was cold and unfeeling. Only those who looked beyond her rational exterior could see the passion within. Brennan's passionate side was making an appearance now, in a very vocal manner. If he wanted to avoid an argument, he needed to redirect her train of thought and he needed to do it now. "OK, what are your thoughts about the job? It is going to mean changes for both of us if I accept it. How would you feel about no longer working in the field?"
Booth leaned forward, taking Brennan's hands in his own. He rubbed his thumb across her wedding band to remind her that they were in this together. Looking at her again, he gave a single nod to encourage her to talk to him. He knew that if he could get her to talk, then they could work through any concerns she might have.
Brennan knew that Booth had probably given this as much thought as she had during the day. He obviously wanted to talk about it now. "Booth, I know that you are ready to discuss this. However, I am not, yet. I need more time to analyze the changes that would be required of us. I find that I am having a difficult time doing that right now. We will discuss this, I promise. Can you just give me more time?"
Relieved that she was willing to talk, even if it was to have to wait for a while, he gave her a smile. "Do you need space and time, Bones, or just time?"
"I only require time, Booth." She returned the smile, knowing that her answer had reassured him that she wasn't going to run. She suspected that even though her days of running away were long over that he still feared that something would drive her to it again.
"In that case, can you come sit with me? I just want to hold you for a while. Christine's in her room reading, so we have a few minutes for just us." Booth needed the comfort that holding her close would bring. Her presence brought a reassurance that everything would be fine. She did that for him in a way that others could not.
Brennan moved from her chair to Booth's lap. She wrapped her arms around him and buried her face in the crook of his neck. Breathing in his Boothy scent always seemed to comfort her. She relaxed against him and enjoyed the moments they had before they had to get back to real life.
All too soon, Booth heard Christine's footsteps as she ran through the house and opened the back door. Booth held his arms out to her. She ran over and climbed up onto Brennan's lap. Booth wrapped his arms around both of his girls. He knew Brennan wouldn't want to be referred to as a girl, but that was how he thought of them - his girls. Maybe because she sensed there was some tension between her parents, Christine snuggled into them as tightly as she could and enjoyed the moment. They remained in their family cocoon until Booth's rumbling stomach alerted them to the time.
After dinner, Christine had been bathed, read to and put to bed. So often, when working a case, one or both of them missed this routine. That made the nights when they were all at home that much more precious. He hoped that taking the job would mean more nights home together.
They each went about their nightly routine. Booth watched a Flyers game on TV while Brennan read the most recent issue of the Journal of Anthropological Research. They could both feel the weight of the huge elephant sitting in the room, yet neither of them broached the subject. Booth assumed that Brennan was still analyzing. Brennan assumed that Booth was giving her the time she had asked for. Even though they were trying to distract themselves, neither of them let their thoughts stray far from the topic.
Before they knew it, it was time to head up to bed. Booth checked the doors to make sure they were locked. Brennan went upstairs to get ready for bed. He followed her up, turning off the lights as he went. By the time he had checked on Christine and walked into their bedroom, Brennan was already in bed. Booth quickly got ready for bed and joined her.
Meeting her in the center of the bed, he wrapped his arms around her as she laid her head on his chest and her arm went around his waist. Booth placed a kiss on top of Brennan's head and hugged her as tight as he could. There was still a discussion to be had, and now was the time for it.
Rubbing small circles on her back with one hand, he decided to jump right in. "Bones, have you had enough time? Are you ready to talk about it? I do have a few days before I need to give the Director my answer. I don't want to rush the decision."
Brennan looked up at Booth with teary eyes. She was trying to determine the best way to explain her thoughts to Booth. Rarely had she felt so torn about a decision. Her usual rational approach was failing her in this instance. Her emotions were trying to take the lead and she did not like it. Maybe she could try to redirect him, like he was usually trying to do to her. "I would like to know what your thoughts are first. Are you interested in taking the job? Do you want to be behind a desk all the time?"
Without realizing it, Brennan was running her hand along Booth's muscular torso. She was counting his ribs, smoothing her hand along his sternum and clavicles. It was her way of staying present in the conversation. With so much to process, she would often get lost in her thoughts. By reminding herself with these little touches that Booth was with her, she was able to stay in the here and now.
Booth used a finger to tilt her chin up so that he could see her eyes. This was the opening he had been waiting for. "Bones, you know how much I love working in the field with you. But, I am getting older. Most agents my age aren't in the field anymore. Also, I don't know how many times I can turn down a promotion before the powers that be stop offering them. I'm proud of the work I do, and it feels good to be recognized for it."
Brennan could see his logic and agreed with much of what he said. Some of the same reasons had been part of her thought process. "Rationally, I know that you can't work in the field until you retire, Booth, as much as we both might wish for it. You are getting older. Your reflexes are slowing. Even though your experience is extremely valuable in the field, that same experience might be put to better use if you were in a position of authority and able to share it with younger agents. Lastly, you excel at your job and are deserving of recognition and acclaim. I want your talent, experience and achievements to be acknowledged."
"Wow, Bones, thank you. That means a lot to me." He couldn't keep the smile out of his voice. He knew she was proud of him, but it felt good to hear her talk about what he deserved. A compliment like that was usually followed by how she was smarter or better or more accomplished. Tonight, however, she wasn't trying to steal or even share the spotlight. She was letting him have it all, even if it was only between the two of them. "And, by the way, my reflexes are just fine, thank you very much. I have always protected you in the field. That would never change."
She gave him a smile that clearly said she was humoring him. Even though he wouldn't admit it, she knew he was sensitive about getting older. "Yes, Booth, your reflexes are fine now. However, you are aging and your reflexes will slow as that happens. Though that really isn't the point here, is it? Do you want to take the job? Do you think it is best for you and for us as a couple and as a family?"
"Right to the heart of it, huh, Bones? Yes, I want to take this job. I will hate not being in the field with you, but I think I can do a lot of good as Deputy Director. I also have to think about you, Christine and Parker. I don't think I can continue risking my life on a daily basis. I can't bear the thought of not being around to see Christine grow up or to see the kind of man that Parker is becoming, especially since I have already missed so much time with him. With Rebecca coming back from London, I'll finally have a chance to spend the kind of time that I've always wanted to spend with him. And the thought of leaving you alone, if something happened to me, is just too painful to consider. I do think it is the best thing for us as a family." He hugged her tighter when he thought about how far she had come in the time they had been together and what would happen to her if he were gone.
"And what about us as a couple, Booth? Is it also the best choice for us as a couple?" This was the sticking point for her. Could they continue to be a couple without the work to keep them together? Being work partners had always been part of their equation. If that partnership were removed, could the sides still be balanced?
"I'm not denying that there will be a lot of changes for us if I take this job, but I think we can handle it. We have been through so much already. Remember snakes, serial killers, and ghosts, I have no doubt that we can handle this, too. We wouldn't be professional partners anymore, but we always be partners. You are my wife. That is more important to me than anything we do at work. That also means that this is a choice for us to make together. This is ourlife. We are in this together. So, now it's time for you tell me how you feel about this, Temperance."
Booth's use of her name did not go unnoticed by Brennan. He usually only called her Temperance when he wanted to impress upon her the importance of what he was saying. He was letting her know that her feelings about the job offer were important to him. Now was the time for her to deal with her feelings, even if she wasn't comfortable with them. He had been honest with her and deserved her honesty in return. "I find that I don't want to admit to my feelings. They make me seem very selfish."
"C'mon, Bones, just tell me how you feel. It's okay to feel, even if you don't like it. I'm not gonna be mad. I just need to hear it. The only way we can deal with you feelings is if we talk about them."
Time for her to go all in, as Booth would say, even though she didn't think he should use gambling references. "I don't want our partnership to end. I'm afraid that it will change something between us. I like things the way they are now. I look forward to seeing you every day. I enjoy working with you. I feel like we are making a difference in the world. I'm afraid that if you leave field work, all of that will change. On an emotional level, I don't want you to accept the position."
Shocked that she had revealed so much, he wanted her to know the he realized how much it cost her. "C'mere, baby." He pulled her in even closer. "I promise that this, right here, us, will only change for the better. We have been through too much and fought too hard for what we have to let anything bad happen." She nodded, letting him know that she agreed, as he continued, "Yes, it might take some extra effort on our part, but we can handle anything that life throws at us."
Brennan was quiet while she considered what Booth had said. He was right, they had been through so much to get to this point. If they could overcome all of the obstacles that had been in their way, surely they could deal with not working together. "Booth, what you are saying is makes sense, even if we are discussing emotions. I agree, we should be able to adjust to the change in our partnership. We may not be pleased with all of the changes, but it is only logical that you accept the position of Deputy Director. I will inform the FBI that I am no longer available for field work. Cam can assign those duties to Dr. Bray. As much as I enjoy our work, I find that I miss working with ancient remains. I could return to academia full time. Or, I could devote more time to my writing. My publisher has been pushing me to step up my publishing schedule."
Booth pulled Brennan into a kiss full of his love and gratitude all at the same time. "Thank you, Temperance. I know that change is hard for you. I appreciate that you are willing to do this for me."
"Booth, this is for our family as much as it is for you. Christine will have more time with both of her parents. That will benefit all three of us."
"Hey, Bones, maybe it's time to think about having a little brother or sister for Christine."
"Why don't we discuss that later? I think we already have some big adjustments to make."
"Wow, did we really make a decision about this? You're okay with me taking the job?" He was shocked that they had reached a decision so easily. "I just want to make sure that you don't have any doubts about this. If you have any other concerns, we need to deal with them now, not later."
"I feel confident in our decision, Booth. I know it's the right thing for you. You deserve this. I am very proud of you."
"C'mere, Bones," he said, waggling his eyebrows. "I think it's time for a little private celebration." Dazzling her with his charm smile, he rolled them until his body was covering hers. He leaned in to nuzzle her neck, hinting at the "celebration" to come.
Two days later, they walked in to the Hoover Building hand in hand. Booth had scheduled a meeting for the two of them with the Director. Even though they knew they decision was the right one, they each needed the reassurance that came from their physical contact.
Stepping into the elevator, they were relieved to have it to themselves. Booth pulled Brennan into his arms, lightly kissing her on top of her head. "Are you ready to do this, Bones? Today is going to be an ending and a new beginning for us."
Looking in his eyes, she placed her hand on his stubble-covered jaw. "Booth, as long as we are together, I'm ready for anything. You've shown me that endings and beginnings can be whatever we want them to be."
He squeezed her a little tighter before they pulled apart as the elevator dinged. The doors opened on the Director's floor, directly across from his office. Placing his hand on his spot in the small of Brennan's back, he steered her toward the reception area.
The Director's assistant acknowledged them as they approached her. "Agent Booth, Dr. Brennan, the Director is expecting you. Please go right in."
Booth opened the door and followed Brennan in. The Director had risen from his desk to shake their hands and indicated that they should sit down directly across from him.
"Well, Agent Booth, I hope you have good news for me. Have you made a decision about taking the Deputy Director position?"
Booth looked at Brennan, who gave him a slight nod, before he answered. "Yes, sir, I – we have – decided that I will accept the job."
"That is good news indeed, Booth!" The Director rose to shake Booth's hand again. "Congratulations! You are just the person the FBI needs in that position. I have some plans that I would like to discuss with you, but that can wait for a later time. Now, Dr. Brennan, are you here to see Booth make it official, or was there something you needed to discuss with me as well?"
This time, Brennan looked to Booth for a nod of reassurance before beginning. "I do not wish to have another agent assigned as my partner. Therefore, I will no longer be available for field work. I will, however, be available for consultation with whomever the Jeffersonian assigns to fill the position."
The Director had been nodding while Brennan was speaking. "I was expecting this. You have always been clear that the only agent you wish to work with is Booth and I've respected that. I accept your decision and offer my thanks on behalf of the FBI for all of the work you have done for us over the years."
Brennan and Booth rose from their chairs, thinking the meeting was over. The Director raised his hands and motioned for them to sit back down. "I have one more thing I would like to discuss with you both. I have had a training program that I have wanted to implement for quite some time. I would like for you, Dr. Brennan, to build a program to train other forensic anthropologists to work with the FBI. And, Booth, I'd like you to build a program to train FBI agents to work with the anthropologists in Dr. Brennan's program. You would both have the authority and resources, within reason, to build these programs as you would like. My belief is that we can duplicate your results as a team with the other teams that you will be training. Please think it over and let me know you decision by this time next week."
They all rose as the partners prepared to leave. There were "congratulations" and "thank you" exchanged again. One last handshake between the Director and Booth, and they were out the door and back in the elevator.
Anyone seeing them exit the elevator and walk toward Booth's office would notice nothing unusual. It was only after the door had closed, that the partners let themselves relax. With huge smiles on their faces, they stepped toward each other and into an embrace. Their partnership was changing and they were ready to see where those changes would take them.