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until the embers smoke

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Angela has talked to psychologists, and counselors, and scientists, and life coaches, and private investigators, and FBI agents, and psychics, and psychotics, and palmistry readers, and circus clowns, and geniuses.

in bed, she tells Jack this during the story about her spiritual journey that ended with the circus clowns. "And?" he asks.

Angela reaches up to turn off the light, because for one night selfishness wins and she can't take looking at his sad face. "and none of them know shit."


She says, "Brennan got drunk and told me what you did."

Sweets turns around, a guileless smile plastered to his skinny face. The innocent expression would work on her better if she hadn't seen it on the face of the guy that wouldn't stop calling her in the middle of the night in college. "Angela," he says, and keeps that smile on. "What did I do?"

Angela puts her hands on her hips, one hip cocked out. "She told me you kept Booth's life a secret on purpose."

Sweets raises an eyebrow, but points his chin down, stops smiling. There's something behind his twenty-three year old face that seems, suddenly, a hundred. "Why is it," he asks, "do you suppose, that you call your best friend by her last name?"


For some reason, they keep Sweets in the lab more, as if his presence could be a comfort. To scientists, Angela supposes, a credentialed presence might seem a comfort, but she prefers the quiet of the Jeffersonian after-hours, when no one's watching her work. Besides, Brennan and Booth come back from their weekly sessions changed. These days, it's all tears and tight smiles, things that start with 'T'. Tension. Trepidation. Angela has open. Tremours. Maybe that's just her hands at night.

"I feel sorry for all those parents in the courtroom," Brennan tells her.

It's a bad case, this time - a teenage boy left in a ditch that no one's missing, that no one ever missed. Brennan's voice is tremulous, unsure, surprised that she could feel sympathy for the relatives of killers, for people who failed to raise their babies right. There's probably some kind of anthropological theory regarding the failure of society to provide adequate education for offspring. Angela hears that in Brennan's voice in her head, and snorts. The fact that Brennan hasn't said it out loud - or something robotic like it - is a sign of either progress or madness. In her head, Angela hears Brennan say I never gave him anything, but she ignores it, because Angela can't worry about everyone right now.

"I mean," Brennan continues, voice thick, "I never really looked at them before."

Some of Brennan's self-control is slipping, has slipped, and she can't seem to get it back. Temperance. Angela closes her browser window, decides her break is over. "I know, sweetie," Angela chokes out, but it's tired, rote consolation, and lacking the usual affection.


no one has a nickname anymore, not even in her head.


"What would happen if I slept with someone else by accident?" Angela asks Jack.

Waiting for a response, Angela idly wonders what the Psychologist would say about her calling Jack 'Hodgins'; about her going back to the dynamic at work from years ago, before things got complicated, nevermind this gaspingly hard.

He was staring into a microscope intently; then he was pretending to stare into the microscope while thinking about his answer. Angela loves that she knows that. He finally looks up at her, frowns. Angela knows that she's scared him, and the knowledge rushes at her like harsh wind. "Like, drunk at a party accident?"

Like grieving for something that we can't even say out loud accident, but she doesn't say that. She stares off at the stupid faux-industrial decor, taps her foot, fidgets. Say to him, "No, just-- by accident. Not thinking." Not thinking is all she does, these days. Angela tries once more, and she winces as she tells Jack, "Living in the moment, but realizing it's bad."

"Realizing it's bad," he repeats. Out of the corner of her eye, Angela can see his mind working furiously to come to a point. The computer behind him beeps with its trace evidence report. Jack asks, "do you want to sleep with someone else?"

"that's what I mean," Angela repeats. She looks at her shoes, at the sharp point of her toes. "Really not wanting to, but doing it anyway. For no reason."

His face clears, and he closes his eyes. Breathes. Angela thinks he might have actually figured her out a little bit when he says, "we'd talk about it, but I don't think I'd be mad. Do you have someone in mind?"

Angela turns to stare across the lab to where Sweets is talking to Brennan. She gets the feeling that he's not actually helping anymore, is in fact making things worse; Brennan looks angry, and Sweets looks confused. Brennan looks apologetic, Sweets looks guilty. Angela wonders if Sweets has any idea the symbolism he's taken on, wonders if Brennan does. "I feel sorry for Sweets," Angela says by way of answer, but her voice doesn't sound sympathetic at all.

Jack glances over to where Sweets is too. The kid is staring at Brennan and Booth, face pathetically open in his desire for approval. Jack hangs his head, then, grits his teeth at the all-too-familiar sight. Angela knows he gets it: because his face radiates anger; because he ignores her, locked in his own private torture; because nothing about this isn't completely awful anymore, not even Sweets with his boyish face and brilliant degree -- and because the elephant in the room can't receive conjugal visits.


Later, Sweets comes into her office, a cup of coffee in his hand as an offering. He places it next to Angela's computer, and she knows he's trying, but it's got the wrong cream in it, and no honey. She sighs, but turns around.

He smiles at her, but it's the same old false face on the same old clinical mask. He says, "I didn't actually-- I didn't mean to. There were good reasons, too."

Angela knows there would have been good reasons. She wonders what a psychologist studying his desperate attempt to gain access to the inner circle here would make of self-sabotaging it in such an obvious way. He's trying, but he's trying all wrong. Suddenly, she's tired and heartsick and doesn't care, just wants him out of her office. Angela doesn't pick up the cup, says, "Doesn't inserting yourself into the study, or interacting with the participants of an experiment, or whatever, influence the outcome of the experiment?"

His shoulders sag immediately. "You're thinking anthropology," he says, dully, "I'm a psychologist."


She knows she should probably cut him some slack; he's a kid, for crying out loud, not even as old as-- and besides, he can hold his own in so many other ways. She almost feels bad for him, but a person's heart can only hold so much bad feeling, and hers is kind of full at the moment. Sweets tells her, "I don't know if it's that psych classes attract a certain type of person, or if analysing human behaviour for hours and hours twists you, but psychology majors are the most fucked up species. You know."

Angela shakes her head. A month ago her response would have been a joke. Now it's bitter but lukewarm, like the coffee that's all wrong. "Do you know how many musicians I've dated?"

Sweets laughs, but the smile doesn't reach his eyes.


The thing of it is, they're the poster-children for near-death symptoms of grief, only grief twisted inwards and jagged. Denial, in that Booth came back after the sucker punch of death tore them all apart. Anger and tension and fear all got wrapped up into one package so fast that not even Brennan and her intellect could properly digest it. They've got their own little psychological rat-maze here, complete with glass walls and security gates. Angela can't even begin to fathom how to process any of it, and clearly no one else is having any luck, either.

She considers calling up a psychologist - Jack would pay if she asked; hell, even Cam would pay - but sitting at her desk reading the definitions of the feelings she may or may not be having, Angela's smile twists. Hi, doctor, I'm having trouble coping. What's the problem? Well, it all started when someone didn't die. What then? Well. Let me tell you.

She stares at the handset. Even has her hand on the receiver. Stares out the glass wall of her office, where Sweets is sitting in their 'reception' area, head in hands. Turns the computer off. Doesn't pick up the phone.