Chapter 17: More Tales of the City
Brennan: It's clearly irrational, but I feel I could never find a better man to spend my life with. And I'm...
Brennan: And I thought that should be recorded for the world.
From Season 8, Bones finale, The Secret in the Siege
The eleven friends around the table had years of shared experiences and one day soon, as they did every once in a while, they would sit around another table, at this or a different bar, and reminisce more. Some day. When the tide of fear and hope and anticipation, of dread and revulsion and recognition, had receded. When the deep, dark water didn't feel so high. When the pull of the moon was not so strong.
"Remember that time I asked you to marry me?"
Everyone was staring at Brennan again. Angela's mouth was open and she groped for Hodgins' hand behind and next to her. The only head that hadn't swiveled to focus on her was Booth's. He was as he had been for a while now, facing forward, relaxed in his chair, arm around Brennan so that he could touch her, a glass of water in his other hand. He had to drive home, after all. He was going to get to drive her home. He had heard what she said, felt the weight of her gaze on his face. He turned his head, finally, and met blue eyes with brown.
"Remember the time I asked you?"
Brennan's expression didn't change, but then again, she'd always been good at hiding how she felt. They were all sitting close enough that those who were watching her face saw her eyebrows pinch together slightly. Booth was uncharacteristically still, relaxed and smiling a little. Finally, he said, "Bones?"
When she still didn't answer, his mouth quirked uncertainly, but his eyes remained steady on hers. Whether she said yes or not, he was done pretending he didn't want her to be his wife. His wife, goddammit. And in the last two weeks, he'd put a hell of a lot more on the line than a proposal of marriage. If she said no, if she said yes, he wasn't going to let her go.
The others, arrayed around the table, hardly dared to breathe as they watched the drama playing out before them. Pelant would really have hated this; the events of this afternoon had been entirely upstaged by this scene.
"We're not enough the way we are?" She echoed his words from two weeks ago, searching his face for answers.
"We are. Of course we are. We always were." He waited for her to ask why, then, they should get married. But she didn't.
She leaned up and caught his mouth with hers. He was reminded of another recent kiss. You are not allowed to die. Do you understand? Their friends applauded but Booth was only distantly aware of that fact as his hand moved up to cup her cheek as his mouth moved gently on hers. She buried her head in his chest, as always a little clumsy, a little more forceful than strictly necessary but he just reeled her in and held on, wondering if she had answered or not.
"Ah Wonnnnn Kkkkkkkk UP. Buuuuuuu. Tttttt. Errrrrr."
Brennan looked at Booth incredulously, a giggle bubbling up from somewhere, despite the tiredness. "Wha...what?"
Booth turned his head to face her in the dark, his hands on the steering wheel and as often was the way, looking away from the road just a little too long for her comfort. But she wasn't up for that battle tonight. He checked the road quickly and then his focus was back on her. He said, seriously, holding her eyes:
"Ahh Wonnnnn annnnnd. wonnnnnnnn haaaaaaff. — won haffff — teeeespooon. vannnnn. illla." He finished with a nod of his head.
"Booth! What are you saying?!" He turned and grinned at her.
"You can't tell?"
"No, I can't tell! How could I make any sense of that? It is absolute gibberish."
The smile hadn't left his lips still, like he was thinking of something good, a good memory, and was too caught up in it to answer.
"What is it, Booth?" Brennan asked, her voice quieter.
His lips twisted a little, she could see in the dimness of the cab. They were on their way to Hodgins and Angela's apartment to pick up Christine who had weathered the flight back from New York City and would be arriving about the same time her parents did. Brennan couldn't think of a time when she was looking forward to going home more. Booth assured her that the clock had been removed from their bedroom and that the signals characteristic of Pelant's devices scanned for throughout the house. There were, in fact, three other devices that were recording either audio or video. It still made her shudder to think. She pushed the thought away but Booth must have sensed her disquiet.
"Hey, Bones...hey...it's okay, all right? It's going to be okay now." She didn't put much stock in such non specific assurances and yet...they made her feel better. No, he made her feel better. And he continued. "I have been thinking about my Aunt Nancy, ever since last week when I told you about the summer I spent with my cousins,. She loved to cook and she listened to this radio station that came in from northern Vermont. She turned it on every day at 1 o'clock to listen to Gus Saunder's Yankee Kitchen." He glanced over to see if she was listening. She was, rapt. She always was when he told her a story. How had he not realized that fact before now?
"One day, I had come inside to get a towel—we were swimming—and my Aunt Nancy handed me a note pad and pencil and ran out fast, toward the restroom. I had to listen to that old man read recipes on the air to even older women for fifteen minutes while she was gone." He mimicked Gus Saunders again, "Wwwwwwonnnnnnnn. KkkkkkkkkkkUP. Shuuuuuuuuuuuuu. Garrrrrrrrr." I didn't think it would ever end. But it must have been the end of the show because he was just finishing up when my Aunt Nancy came back. She kissed me on the head and took the pad, sending me back outside. She was always kissing me, all of us really. She'd hug and kiss us all every night when we went to bed even though half of us weren't hers."
Brennan could hear the wistfulness leaking into his voice. "She was great. That time she hugged me and said 'Thank you Seeley boy. Isn't he awful?' and I couldn't believe that she knew he was awful and my Aunt Nancy laughed and said, 'I don't know where he gets his recipes but they are always excellent...you know those biscuits you ate 7 of last night? Those were from that show, but it is torture to listen isn't it?' And she hugged me and laughed when I got her all wet. Every day after that, I found an excuse to come inside between 1 and 2 and listen to that guy read slower than any guy had EVER read in the history of reading. The words didn't even sound like words. And Aunt Nancy and I would laugh at him."
Brennan reached out and took his hand, slipping her smaller one into his big one. She didn't usually do this when he was driving, being the stickler for safety that she was, but he figured she must need it and squeezed back. When he glanced over, she was looking down, light flashing over her face arrhythmically as they made their way down the nighttime streets of D.C. He couldn't see her face until she turned it toward him, but even then he couldn't tell what she was thinking.
"Booth, did you really threaten to kill that man? Ortez?"
He turned back to the road but didn't hesitate to answer her. "Yes, Bones. I did."
"Tell me about it, please."
He let himself think back to those days, early days in their partnership. From the beginning, she was unlike anyone else and when Ortez had tried to intimidate her, pressure her, she laid him out in front of the entire floor. He shifted and then played for a little time.
"Bones, we're almost there," He flicked on his blinker and got ready to turn on the right block. "Can we do this at home, later?"
She didn't even fight him on it and that made him a little sad, sorry somehow. The quirk of her lips and the quick look down and sideways toward him showed resignation. "Yes of course, Booth." He almost took it back, but before he could, she added, sincerely, "If I didn't know better, I would say that this day seemed twice as long as any other day." She leaned her head back against the headrest. "I will be glad to get Christine and go home."
This time he took her hand. This time she squeezed back.
Not even an hour later, they were home. Christine had squealed happily and then shrieked for her mother when Brennan walked into Angela's. Brennan gathered the tiny girl up and talked to her while Booth checked in with Hodgins, sneaking looks at his girls over his shoulder. When Christine caught sight of him, she launched herself out of Brennan's arms toward him. Wise to this move, Brennan was ready to catch the baby and "fly" her over to Booth. He scooped her up, kissing her belly and then snuggling her on his hip. He wasn't surprised though, when less than a minute later, Christine's head swivelled to find Bones and then squawked her disapproval at not being in her mother's arms. She was asleep by the time they were halfway home and didn't wake as they shifted her to her crib.
In a rare concession to fatigue, Brennan leaned over, resting her chin on arms that rested on the top crib rail. She was still, just watching her baby sleep. Her baby. Her Booth. Her life, she thought. It's not something someone can take away, she thought, although she wasn't entirely sure what she meant.
Booth didn't seem any more eager to move away. He moved behind her so that her hip pressed into him and he curved his body around hers, warm and male and all Booth as he braced his right hand on the crib and reached forward with his left to stroke Christine's soft forehead, to shift the sweaty curls on her baby head, to rub her belly a little through the sleeper. Brennan breathed deeply, restfully, and was grateful to watch him comfort himself by reaching out to their daughter.
Finally, Booth straightened and reached for her, pulling her against him. She let herself rest against him in the dim light of the hall that leaked through to the baby's room.
"Bones, you know I love you, right?" Needing reassurance, trusting her despite having hurt her.
"I know that, Booth. I do, it's just—"
"No. Babe," His hand snuck beneath her hair to stroke but also to gently keep her pressed to him. "I am not trying to start a conversation really...unless you want to I guess, but I needed to say it. After today, after everything that has happened, I just needed to say it out loud here, in our home, to you, when I knew you were really listening." His mouth moved against her hairline, gently, but his arms had tightened, showing how distressed he really was.
She wriggled out of his grasp, took his hand and led him away, down the hall, to their bedroom. She flicked on the light in the bathroom and squinting a little turned back to look at him. They brushed their teeth together; she washed her face, put on face cream, Booth still nearby. When she was done, he followed her out, flicking off the light and plunging them into darkness. Not before she saw the empty nightstand though.
They undressed together, in the dark, and curled into each other in the middle of their bed. She fell asleep as his palm swept lazy circles on her back and when she jerked awake later, her face was hot and a little sweaty against his chest. Booth was asleep but restless. Probably just a little too hot; as much as she loved being close to him, he was a furnace at night. She slipped out of bed and he mumbled in vague protest but turned over to settle comfortably on his side. She flipped one of the two blankets off of him and crossed the room to crack the window. She sat a minute, in the dark, in a chair by the window, the cool night air blowing in. She could smell cherry blossoms and faintly, the salty wet smell of the marsh.
She sat a long time, longer than she had anticipated and was chilled by the time she rose, resolved.
The next morning was a study in normalcy. If Booth had plans for them to stay home today, given the events of Sunday, he abandoned them when he woke to the sounds of his weekday household. If he was a little disappointed, he also couldn't help but smile at the clink of spoons on bowls, the thunk of his daughter's heels drumming against her high chair, the sound of Bones reading to Christine from the Science section of the newspaper. The only strange thing was not waking to an alarm, or to Bones waking him up. The indistinguishable vowels and consonants of Bones' reading stopped and he heard her rise and come to the stairs.
"Booth?!" She called up. "Are you awake?"
"I'm awake, Bones."
"Okay, I just wanted to make sure. It's 7:15. Can we leave by 8 do you think?" He glanced at the clock and remembered that they didn't have one any more.
"Uh, yeah. Sure. I'd better get going then. I'm going to take a shower. Don't worry about breakfast; I'll get something later."
"Okay, Booth." The sound of her footsteps on the wood floor he laid himself made him smile. When he got out of the shower, he could hear them in Christine's room, and dressed while he listened. All but done, he went to Christine's room and took over care of the baby while Bones finished up her own preparations. Christine was wide awake and happy and probably he should have checked the diaper bag for everything that they wanted to send with her but he knew that Bones would just double check everything anyway. And add something. He sometimes suspected she added things even when there was nothing to add, just to maintain her diaper bag supremacy. Not even that irritated him today and he left Bones to do the rest of the morning routine while he took Christine out back to swing.
"Coming, Bones!" He jogged with Christine toward the front of the house. "Mommy's in a hurry, huh, baby? We can't keep her waiting..." Her little face was serious as he bumped her up and down. So like her mother.
Instead of a mini-lecture on making them late when he got to the car, though, Bones just exchanged Christine for a breakfast sandwich and turned to get the baby buckled into her seat. Booth picked up the diaper bag and waited for her to finish. When she turned, straightening, he reached out and cupped her cheek in one hand.
She blinked, surprised. "Why are you thanking me?"
He leaned over and kissed her, kissed her until she softened and put a hand on his chest. "For the sandwich, for letting me sleep. I'm just happy, I guess. And it's mostly because of you. So thanks."
Her eyes were shining and he could tell she was struggling to remain unemotional. But instead of denying anything he had said, she just said, matter of factly: "You're welcome, Booth." And moved around him to slide into her side of the truck. For the first time in a long time, Booth felt really hopeful, like all was right in the world.
That night, in bed, Booth reported "I got an email from Russ today. He wants to take Hayley and Emma to a Nationals Game on Saturday. He asked if Parker and I wanted to go."
"You should go, Booth. You should take Christine."
"Really. As we have discussed, she may not remember going to the game but being with her father, her uncle, and her cousins, being outside, taking part in cultural traditions...these are all good for her. Perhaps Amy and I will visit a museum or meet Angela for lunch."
"That sounds great, Bones. Are you sure you don't want to take Christine with you?"
'I'm sure, Booth. You take her with you. You will enjoy that." She curled into him, arm sneaking across his body to roll him toward her. He came willingly, shifting so that he could touch her the way he liked, the way she loved. In between kisses, he asked her, "did you ever go to baseball games with Russ?" And was surprised when he was suddenly kissing her smiling mouth.
He pulled back a little to see her eyes, "What?"
She smirked. "Once." He could feel tiny laughs shaking her belly against him. His own smile grew wider. "I was afraid of the Trash Monster. And the team mascot. It was some kind of bear-like animal. The other children seemed to find it stimulating, but apparently, I screamed every time I saw it."
Booth laughed. "How old were you?"
"I don't really remember. Perhaps 6?"
"Aw, Bones. Poor you." Booth pulled her into hug. "What happened?"
She pulled back, leaning on his chest. "Well, my Dad moved us to these seats really really far away from everyone. I didn't watch a second of the game. I just kept my eye on the audience—"
"—and every time the grotesque puppet came within 50 meters of me, I would scream. Finally, my mother took me to get food. We were carrying hot dogs and a beer for my father and other treats when we came around the curve of the stadium and there was the giant bear or whatever it was. I guess my fear must have been infectious because my mother jumped and we both took off running in the other direction."
She leaned over and kissed Booth, unable to resist his proximity.
"We waited until all the large puppets were elsewhere and then snuck up to tell my father and Russ that we would meet them outside after the game. We went to a park nearby and I had a milkshake."
Now Booth kissed her. "Good story, Bones. Haven't you been back to a baseball game since?"
"No, I haven't, Booth. But I would go with you sometime, if you like."
"I like. But what I would really like is to kiss you...right...here..." And Brennan laughed again, husky and breathless.
All week long, Brennan told him stories. Booth realized on Wednesday that he was looking forward to bedtime because of it. He didn't know if it was part of how she was dealing with the aftermath of Pelant, and he could feel that there was still a little tension between them at moments. Like when she went to read in her office one night after dinner. But he figured he should give them time, give her time, and her stories were keeping him from worrying too much. Every day, he knew that they'd be going to bed together at night, and that was enough.
She told him how she lived in a terrible neighborhood when she was poor and in graduate school. That's when she started taking self-defense classes and when a blind date got too physical, she was able to defend herself. And, at Booth's prompting, she told him about the time she went with Angela to one of Angela's father's concerts and the time she spent backstage and having dinner with the band. She even answered some questions he asked about her childhood and the time after her parents left.
Not everything that week was so easy but somehow, they saved most of the tough stuff for the daytime. Both of them had paperwork and meetings and debriefs almost every day to get the facts of Sunday, the work that went into it, and the aftermath down on paper for the F.B.I. They had lunch most days, and continued to uncover and share the more personal details of the events of the last month. Hands clasped across the formica table, coffee and the remains of a piece of pie in front of them, Booth told her more about Ortez, and the hit ordered on Brennan. They never did talk about Pelant's death; both of them feeling this was safer to leave in other hands than theirs, and while he didn't know how Max had pulled it off, the wily old goat, Booth was certain Bones' father was responsible for that little twist. Booth couldn't say he was sorry, though, so he let it be. Bones did share with him that Max was one of Bones' backup plans, and was hiding in the Jeffersonian in case he was needed. The diner, crowded and noisy, was private enough for most conversations and with no new cases, Booth and Brennan went home at the end of the day together, took care of their daughter together, crawled into bed together. Their room began to feel like a refuge again and with every new revelation, however mundane, they felt close and closer than ever before.
They had a great time at the baseball game. Bones had sprung for excellent seats and Emma had pushed Christine around in the stroller whenever the little girl got fussy. Parker and Hayley had bonded right away over baseball and were more excited about the game than Russ or Booth. Right around the sixth inning, Russ got a text from Emma saying that Christine had fallen asleep in her stroller. Booth went down and retrieved them both, settling Christine on his shoulder to snooze, smiling as Emma settled a hat over Christine's head to keep her from burning as they resumed their seats. They had eaten a huge lunch at a popular restaurant nearby and bought the girls Nationals hats, so everyone was in great spirits as they headed home in the late afternoon. Booth found himself wishing life was always like this as he turned down the street for home.
His heart stopped when he saw the number of FBI vehicles in front of his house. Russ must have seen his fear, because he said, quickly, "Booth, everything's alright. Nothing bad happened."
By then, though, Booth had recognized other cars—Hodgins and Angela's, Caroline's, and Max's. And they were all parked neatly, not haphazardly or clustered across the driveway. He saw balloons, and flowers, and although he couldn't see any people, he knew they must be out back. He pulled into the driveway and parked, turned to Russ. Russ couldn't help smiling at Booth's gobsmacked expression. He reached out and clasped the other man on the shoulder, let the emotion show on his face.
"Everything you need to get dressed is upstairs. Come on out back when you're ready, Booth."
Booth didn't know what to say, "Russ—"
"Hey. You keep on taking care of my little sister, okay?"
Booth swallowed and nodded, forced the words out. "Okay." And then again. "Okay." Booth swivelled to look in the back. The two girls and Parker, from the "way back", were all looking at him, wide eyed and grinning.
"You all knew about this?!" He demanded mock-fiercely.
"Go on, Dad! Go get dressed. C'mon, you guys, let's go out back. Temperance said there would be a cotton candy machine and rockets!" And then the kids were piling out and Russ was taking Christine from her seat, and all that was left for him to do was to go inside.
A new suit laid out on the bed. The surreal feeling of being alone in his room, getting ready, to the sound of laughter and talking and music from his backyard. Going on without him. For now.
Walking outside to his backyard, onto the porch, in a suit, the sun still bright and warm on these longer days of spring. Shaking hands and hugging people, looking around for Bones. Cullen, Charlie, Shaw, and Hacker. Others from the Hoover and law enforcement. Wendell and a few other guys from the team. His mother, standing with Caroline who was bouncing Christine on her hip. Angela and Hodgins and Michael Vincent and Angela's famous father were all standing with Rebecca, of all people. Suddenly at his side, clasping his arm with restraint but genuine feeling, was Nak. Booth hugged him, thrilled, and then Bones was there, beautiful in turquoise sundress, long sparkly earrings, her hair up, but loose with waves curling around her face.
"I called him so that he would know, but he wanted to come."
"I would not have missed it, my friend." And Nak clasped him on the arm again. Booth thanked him, said something, but would not be able to remember what he said. All his attention was on the woman at his side, taking his hand and leading him down the steps to the lawn. There was a tent, and tables, and a lot of people. All of those people, though, were standing up and gathering around Caroline who gestured for him to come forward. He let go of Bones to step forward, giving Caroline a puzzled look. She just grinned at him impishly until he stood before her, and then she clasped both of his cheeks between her hands, pulled him down, and kissed him full on the lips.
"C'mon, Chere. Let's get this done. I don't want nuthin' else to get in the way of this wedding. We wait long enough, some kind of freak weather event will roll through." She raised her voice. "Gather round, now! Can everyone hear me?" Cheers from the people assembled. Bones appeared next to him on one side, holding Christine, and Booth turned to put his arm around Parker, pull him close. Across Parker's head, he met Jared's eye. His brother quirked a brow and gave him a nod. Booth nodded briefly and turned back to Caroline.
"We are here today to witness the marriage of Temperance Joy Keenan Brennan to Seeley Joseph Booth. I have only two things to say. First: I knew it!—" Laughter. "Second, I will just say that I am here to witness their vows. This has been my role, and my privilege," Caroline's voice grew thick with tears for a minute and several slipped down her cheeks, "from the beginning. To be a witness to this partnership, to watch the love grow between them."
Booth, swept along by Brennan's plans, by this extraordinary surprise and most closely held wish, finally had a role to play as Bones froze. Her eyes were huge in her face and she looked nervously around—Bones was never nervous. If it weren't for Christine, he actually thought she might bolt.
"Hey. Hey, Bones. Look at me. Bones." He spoke quietly, no one heard what he said except perhaps Parker—who was making faces at Hayley—or Christine. Bones' blue eyes met his and he could see the deep seated conviction that she wasn't good at this, that she couldn't promise forever. "It's just us, Bones. You and me. Like always." He saw her inhale, focus and fix on the moment. She nodded and turned to Caroline.
"Well, Cherie, it is your show. I am just here to make it all legal-like."
Bones looked at Booth and spoke clearly. It was quiet enough that everyone could hear. Even the littlest children were conveniently not crying.
"Booth, I love you and I want the world to know that I intend to spend my life with you. I cannot promise much more beyond that; there are too many variables. I do not promise not to go to bed angry or to obey you or any of the other things that I found in wedding vows when I was researching them." She swallowed and her eyes flicked down to their clasped hands, before settling on his face again. He was struck by how beautiful she was in that moment, and he felt a knot of desire to protect and keep her swell in his chest.
She took another breath and then, "Rather than bring up romantic moments from our past, or quote romantic poetry, when I was thinking of what to say to you, I was reminded of some things that you said to me in the last few weeks, a time which wasn't the easiest time for us as partners, romantic or professional. You said to me that "when I am next to you, the world is right." You called me wise and witty like Scheherezhade.
I know what you mean about the world being right when you are there, but more than that, these last three weeks have showed me that what our life together is and will be, should be, is sharing each other's stories. That every day is a piece of the whole, a perfect miniature version of our life together. I would like that, to listen to your stories, Booth, and tell you mine. Every day."
He was finding it difficult to stay cool himself, and he could hear Angela and maybe a few others, crying around him. He sympathized, but then Parker spoke.
"Temperance." He hissed with a significant look at his friend and almost stepmother.
"Oh, right." Bones added quickly and then looked back at Booth, "And I love you."
Caroline, impatient but visibly affected, poked him. "Your turn!"
Booth gave her an exasperated look and turned back to Brennan. "Well, I haven't had a lot of time to prepare, Bones, but then again, nothing in my life ever prepared me for you, so I don't know why I thought this would be different." His smile was indulgent and rueful, and her head cocked to the side a little as she swallowed and pressed her lips together in a little pout.
"I told you once before that I knew that I was that guy. Your guy. And I think that is true, but the reality is so much bigger than that. I love you too. You know that. I think you also know that there isn't any such thing as guy hugs, or doing paperwork for fun. They were just excuses to be closer to you." She was smiling now, her eyes shimmering but not wet. And then, he took a little risk, because he hadn't been able to get the words out of his mind since he read them in her notebook. And as he said the words, her eyes widened as she recognized her own desperate confession from when she was buried with Hodgins.
"I have never trusted anyone like I trust you. No one's opinion of me has ever mattered, or mattered more. I will love you forever, and even if you say that I can't possibly know that, I do. I do know it. I will love you forever, Temperance Brennan. And don't you forget it." He leaned forward and kissed her. And she kissed him back. Christine, trapped between them, squawked and everyone laughed.
Brennan fumbled at her waist for the ring she had pinned there and she looked up at Booth as she held it up. "Booth, I know this was a surprise—"
He cut her off by holding up his ring for her and grinning.
"When did you—"
He just shook his head and took her hand. "Bones—Dr. Temperance Brennan—will you be my wife?" His eyes were soft but serious on hers.
She answered, equally serious, "I will."
When the ring was seated on her finger, she tore her gaze away to look at him. "Seeley Joseph Booth, will you be my husband?"
"By the power vested in my by the District of Columbia, I now pronounce you husband and wife." Caroline announced gleefully. "You may now kiss each other. Again."
Booth would remember that afternoon and evening in flashes, like a slideshow. Kneeling in the grass, having changed into jeans again, to help the kids with the rockets and the sparklers. Inviting the neighbors over. Drinking beers with Nak, Hodgins, Jared, Russ, and Sweets on the porch. The array of wedding pies for dessert. Angela hugging him and telling him that her wedding present was forgiving him for hurting Brennan but it had better not happen again and him admitting that it probably would and telling her that he was glad that Bones had a best friend like her and her hugging him again. In fact, he hadn't hugged so many people in his life. Jared and Padme, Max, his Mom, Charlie, Sweets. But most of all he would remember Bones, his wife. He knew it shouldn't matter, probably didn't matter to her still, but it mattered to him. He loved feeling that connection to her, knowing that she was his and he was hers even when she wasn't next to him. He would remember standing in the relative darkness of the backyard with friends, the kids in bed and the party winding down. He could see Bones in the brightly lit kitchen.
He stood in the dark a long time watching her move around, talking and laughing with Angela, Amy, and someone else he couldn't see just out of sight. He stood in the dark and looked at her in the light and was grateful, so grateful, for what he had. He stooped and set his half full beer bottle on the ground, and, taking the back steps two at a time, went in to join her.