For a year in Indonesia, she has vivid dreams. Dreams in jewel tones, dreams in bright fluorescent lights flickering on and off like disco balls. She can taste the scent of him on the tip of her tongue and feel his skin beneath her hands. Her hand curls, sometimes, around his absent one, and she thinks that part of her is missing, now.
She's still her, though. She still thinks quickly and has trouble understanding the things that are going on around her socially, and sometimes she says the wrong things, but... She can live without Booth. She's not weak. Somehow, she's been worried about that.
It's just that it'd be so much easier to breathe if he were here.
She doesn't write.
It's not like he expected her to. Hell, he's not writing, either. They do this. It's either all or nothing. It's either breakfast in the morning at the diner and Chinese food at night and staying until the very last possible moment at her apartment because if he stays long enough, his tie comes undone and her shoes get kicked off and they fade to the less polished version of themselves. Leaving after is like leaving home.
Or she's in Guatemala, or he's playing dead for the FBI. It's all-or-nothing.
He wants all of her. He's known that for a while, but while he lectures kids about keeping their heads down, for Christ's sake, Jesus could you think with your brain not your dick for one second, Private, he's also thinking that he can't wait to leave here. He used to be a warrior. This used to be him.
The real him, though? Still back in D.C., watching her blow cool air over bad coffee and smile at him with one corner of her mouth.
Paris lays heavy on her skin. It soaks through to the soul of her, drugs her like the haze of marijuana. Hodgins has all the money in the world but they play at being starving artists, living in a little dump of an apartment, walking down to the Seine and eating hot buns from the patiserrie on the next street over. She paints on the sidewalk, he half-heartedly writes a book.
At night, their bed creaks and groans under their combined weight, and he pushes inside of her and Angela can feel again. She can feel all of the parts of her that had gone numb start to wake back up. It's a little painful – her heart twinges and tingles with the new sensation, but Hodgins can feel it too. They slowly wake up together. Slowly sink into each other. Slowly meld until they're so tangled up in each other there's nothing else.
When they pack the boxes to move back home, Angela feels, for the first time, like she doesn't want to leave... like she could leave Brennan and Booth and the Jeffersonian behind and just soak up the life of the city.
Hodgins asks if she's ready to go. She lays her palm flat on her stomach and smiles. She's as ready as she's ever been.
Sweets thinks about what Caroline said a lot. His whole life, people have been amused by his... precociousness. He knows, more intimately than Dr. Brennan would think, what it's like to be the only genius in the room, the only one who knows what it's like to get to four without having to add two and two. Maybe, he thinks analytically, he's been clinging to the vestiges of childhood – a belief in the triumph of true love over everything, a belief in Booth as the hero of some real-life comic book – because letting go of childhood means letting go of the security of being right. Of being the only genius in the room.
So he takes baby steps. He rips up the book on Booth and Brennan and he starts at the beginning. These two people – that's what they are, people, after all, not just his friends, but... fully complex, nuanced people with thousands of thoughts every moment, and a relationship with its own language, shorthand and slang exists between them – these two people are extraordinary. Time to start at the beginning. What makes them so extraordinary together? What about their particular brand of yin and yang makes them so successful?
Where are those mysterious similarities Dr. Wyatt insisted he could find?
He starts at the beginning, with Booth's family, then Brennan and then...
The thing is, Cam thinks, that it's not supposed to be easy to replace someone like Temperance Brennan. It's not supposed to be easy, but it should be possible. However, everyone she sends in to interview for the position strikes her as wrong. She doesn't want someone she could get too attached to – they'll be gone soon, anyway, but she doesn't want someone that no one will be able to stand.
It's going to be a difficult year, she thinks, holding down the fort while everyone rediscovers themselves, but...
Michelle knocks on the door, asks her to go to supper. She closes the file on the newest applicant and puts it in a drawer. She's used to being the strong one. She can handle this.
Parker hadn't really understood.
That didn't matter so much, though, because Dad had always been honest with him. He'd always said that Parker was the most important thing in his life, but that he had been trained and felt like he had to help people, no matter what.
So it sucked that he was gone. It sucked that he had to miss a whole baseball season. It sucked that he could only talk every now and again, and the e-mails he got were sometimes short, and that Dad missed the school play and Mom's new boyfriend blowing up the toilet and all of the stuff that Dad liked, but Parker knew it was going to be okay, because he'd known something about his Dad since he was very, very young. Dad could and would move heaven and Earth: get blown up by a refrigerator, beat a tumor in his brain... heck, Dad could probably beat Lex Luthor with his bare-hands. Dad is a hero. Heroes always, always win.
Hodgins slams the trunk of the car, takes Angela's hand in his and walks up the steps to his house. A house he'd abandoned for a year, without much thought or care. A year's break from reality. Not many people could afford that, and he is truly blessed. He can see the joy of it on Angie's face: the way she seems to glow from the outside in, and not just for the reasons that affect her center of gravity, either. She needed this, just as much as Brennan had needed her break.
Hodgins, though, he is ready. Ready to tune his mind back up, pop in to overdrive, get back to science and work and doing things he's really, really passionate about.
Someday, he's going to look his kid in the eye. He won't talk about the money in the bank accounts, or the cars in the garage or the house. Hodgins will say with pride that he used his gifts to do what he could to make the world a fairer place.
And he still had time to love a good woman.
All of the pieces move back together, snapping back like rubber bands, but ones that have been stretched just a touch too thin. They're all waiting for the center.
Will it hold?
Or will it spin... spin until everything's mixed up again and everyone's off balance and someone flies off the ride in a tangential line?
All they know, all we know is this.
On the mall, by the coffee cart, there is a man. He is wearing Army fatigues and has a year's worth of pain and grief in his eyes. He has been waiting for an hour because the hotel room is too hot, and then too cold and he can't seem to settle into his skin.
On the other side of the mall, she checks her watch, prays she's not late, prays he hasn't left her here.
Then she sees him.
He sees her.
Opens arms and...
Well, that's the beginning that came from the end. That's the story that starts cause the last one left off. That's the story we're waiting to hear, you and I, dear reader.
But Parker would tell you, every child would tell you – Sweets would tell you. The hero always gets the girl, the artist gets Paris, the scientist gets posterity and the girl? The girl gets to overcome every fear she's ever had in her life to grab happiness with both hands and hold on tight.