Seeley Booth always thought that he would be the more emotional, sentimental parent. Not that Brennan wasn't either of those things, she just managed to hide them better. Yet, here he was, watching as Temperance Brennan, anthropologist extraordinaire, buzzed around the house double-, triple- and quadruple-checking that Christine was fully prepared to start kindergarten the next day.
He fought to hide the smile that definitely would have irritated his wife as she dumped the contents of Christine's lavender My Little Pony backpack on the table for at least the sixth time. She looked serious as she checked each item against the supply list provided by the school. Verifying (again) that she had purchased all of the required and optional items, she filled the pack and placed in its appropriate spot next to the front door.
"What? Why are you laughing?"
Busted. The smile he had been fighting bloomed into a full-fledged laugh and he was helpless to keep it under control. Bent over, with his hands resting on his knees, laughing hysterically, he could feel his wife's approach and immediately regretted his loss of control.
"I'm sorry, babe, really, but you seem more than a little manic right now. Everything okay?"
He straightened up to find her within arm's reach. However, her body language made it abundantly clear that she was not inviting any contact from him at the moment. There she stood, glaring at him, arms crossed, and yes, that was the sound of her boot tapping against the hardwood floor of their kitchen.
"What is it that you find so funny? I am just making sure that Christine is properly prepared for her first day of school."
"I just never thought you would be the one to overreact like this. Isn't that my department? That's what you usually tell me."
"Do you really want to compare notes on who is overreacting more? What did you find when you did the security check on the school?"
"They have a few wea- Hey, how did you know about that?"
"Educated guess, Booth. I know you wouldn't allow our daughter to attend a school unless you had verified that she would be safe. Care to continue?"
"What about quizzing Christine at dinner tonight? She's been reading since she was three, but tonight you had her recite the ABC's like she was an average student, not the exceptional child that we know her to be. What about her address and phone number? And the Pledge of Allegiance? Shouldn't she know those, too?"
"Angela has informed me that it is common practice for teachers to require such recitations. I wanted Christine to be prepared. We reviewed those other items during her bath this evening, along with counting to one hundred and some simple addition and subtraction." She paused, considering her next move in this game of parental chicken. She would not be the one to flinch first. "And the teacher's background check? Did anything irregular appear on it?"
"You're just guessing now. Guessing correctly, but guessing all the same. And, to answer your question, there was nothing hinky in her history." He recognized the glint in her eyes. She wasn't going down without a fight. Lucky for him, he was just as well armed as she seemed to be. "So, have you planned where you will be taking her first day of school photo?"
"I thought that having her stand at of the front door would provide a constant against which to compare her growth from year to year." She was curious as to how he could continue to accurately guess what actions she had taken regarding their daughter's next milestone. "How many times have you timed the drive from home to the school or from the Hoover?"
"I need to know how long it will take me to get to her in case of emergency. How many times did you pick her clothes out for tomorrow and then change your mind and choose others?"
"I might have lost count after eight. I don't want her to be an object of ridicule for the other students. She needs to be appropriately dressed among her peers."
He sighed and held his hands up, not in defeat or surrender, but to pause the conversation.
"I don't think either one of us are going to win this competition. Can we agree that we both might be going a little overboard because we love our daughter so much?"
"Yes, I am willing to agree to that."
He suddenly realized that they were toe to toe. Her arms were still crossed and his hands had returned to his hips. The heavy breathing he heard from her matched his own. And then, as if scripted, they were both laughing as the ridiculousness of the situation became obvious. Just as quickly, their irritation with each other was gone.
He motioned for her to turn around and stepped in close behind. Gathering her hair, he draped it across her shoulder to gain better access to her tension-filled neck and shoulders.
"Mmmm, that feels good."
Her head tilted forward as his thumbs began to work out the knots in her neck.
"So, Bones, what is this really about? You know that Christine is more than ready for school."
She didn't answer immediately. His ministrations made speech difficult. When he paused a few minutes later to stretch his fingers, she turned to face him as she answered.
"I find I'm not ready for this next step. It's gone by too fast, which I know is impossible. Time neither speeds up nor slows down. It remains a constant."
He recognized a Bones squint-rant when he heard one and moved to head it off as quickly as possible. Startling her into silence with a kiss, he began to talk her down.
"I'm not ready either. She's still my baby girl. But, you know what? She is ready. Her little world is about to get blown wide open and we've done everything we can to equip her for that. She's smart, kind, healthy and, most importantly, loved. She's ready."
"You are making sense."
"Good. Now, come on, let's go to bed. How about I continue this massage upstairs with the full body version." With a waggle of his eyebrows, he led his wife upstairs, stopping to look in on Christine before slipping into their bedroom and closing the door on the rest of the world.
"Look at her, Bones, she's so excited, she can't sit still back there."
Booth pulled his eyes away from watching his daughter in the review mirror of his SUV. With a quick smile toward his wife, he returned his focus to the road.
"She does seem to be very enthusiastic about her first day of kindergarten. I find that I am very excited for her."
Brennan smiled at Christine who was singing along to her iPod, earbuds in her ears, head bopping to the beat. Christine shot a smile back at her that could only be attributed to her Booth genes.
Arriving at the school, Booth pulled the SUV into a parking space and threw it into park. With a huge sigh, he looked at his wife and braced himself.
"We're here. Are you ready, Christine?"
"Yes, Daddy! Can we go in now?"
"You got it. Let's go." He opened her door and held her hand to help her down. "Do you have your backpack?'
"Yep, right here!" She held it up proudly for him to see.
Holding her hand, they walked around to the back of the truck where Brennan took Christine's other hand. Swinging her parents' hands, Christine smiled as they walked into the school and straight to her classroom.
"Hi, Christine, I'm Mrs. Atkins. I'll be your teacher this year. Would you like to go find the cubby with your name on it and put your backpack up?"
Christine's blonde head bobbed up and down before she ran to do as her teacher asked. Halfway across the classroom, she turned and ran back to her parents.
"Bye, Mommy. Bye, Daddy."
After giving each of them a hug, she turned, seemingly in mid-air, and ran toward the cubbies. All thoughts of her parents were forgotten as she set out to meet as many of her classmates as possible.
"Look at her, Bones, just look at her." Bumping shoulders with his wife, he gave her a smile. "She looks like she is settling in. We have the whole day ahead of us to do whatever you want to do."
"Can we just sit in the parking lot for a while? I'm not quite ready to leave yet."
"Of course, we can. Let's go." He chuckled as he wrapped his arm around her shoulder and led her out of the school. He couldn't help but smile as he remembered so many years ago when she doubted her ability to be a mother. She certainly got that one wrong, didn't she?
A/N - Just my attempt at a little piece of fluff. I hope you enjoyed it. As always, reviews are appreciated and feed the muse - LMM. Thanks! ~ craftyjhawk