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           In his office, Booth was singing softly with Foreigner on the radio behind him as he worked at his desk.  “Well, I'm hot blooded, check it and see…I got a fever of a hundred and three…Come on baby, do you do more than dance…I'm hot blooded, I'm hot blooded.”

            The song ended as he finished auditing one of Agent Perotta’s cases before putting it in his completed pile.  Normally he grumbled about the administrative crap that came with his job as Special Agent in Charge, but Foreigner always made things better. 

            Also, tonight was date night with Bones….and Hodgins and Angela.

            Over the last five years, he looked forward to their weekly date with the other couple.  Tonight it was their turns to host with the other couple coming over with Bones making her world famous ‘whore sauce’ and Angela made her killer apple pie for dessert.  Afterwards it was going to be a Trivial Pursuit ‘Battle of the Sexes’ as their two kids and Michael Vincent spent the night with Wendell at the Hodgins-Montenegro home.

            Looking at his half depleted To Do box, he was grateful to have Aubrey as his right hand man.  For the last few months, he had trained the junior agent in case file evaluations, monthly warrant audits, and other bureaucratic bullshit he hated.  There was stuff that could only be done by him, but by being able to share the load, he had been able to go home on time more often than not.  He hated that he couldn’t get the younger man the official title of Assistant Special Agent in Charge since he was only a Senior Special Agent.  However, he got him a deserved pay grade increase as well as put in papers to promote him to Supervisory Special Agent last month.

            He was thankful to have been slowly working on the next quarter budget for Homicide the last five days.  With that to complete as well as payroll and the remaining case audits, he had just enough time to make it back to the house for tonight.  He considered asking Aubrey to work on the payroll for him but he did it last week as a favor to him and Booth didn’t want to take advantage of the younger agent.

            His thoughts were interrupted by the ringing of his phone.  When he saw Hacker’s name on the caller ID, he groaned before picking it up.  “Booth…hello Sir, how many I help you?”  Booth answered with a pained smile.  “The Carter case?  I see…what questions can I help you with?”

            The agent rolled his eyes as he listened.  “Agent Aubrey needed to travel to North Carolina to question a suspect and did not get done until 9:30 PM.  There wasn’t a flight back until the next morning…it was two hours to the Raleigh field office, Sir and it didn’t seem fair to page someone to sign the paperwork for him to drive their vehicle back to DC.  For his safety, I approved and reimbursed him the cost of his hotel room.”

            Booth closed his eyes as he listened to his superior before looking at the clock.  It was almost 5:00 PM and the other couple would be over by 7:30.  “More questions?  Go ahead…a meeting?  Now?...Well, I had plans with my wife…she’s doing well…of course she’ll understand…be right there.”

            The agent hung up the phone.  “Motherfucker.” He muttered before grabbing his phone and sending a message.

            Hacker called mtg on exp reports b4 I could finish budget & payroll. DK when I’ll b home.  Will call ASAP.  Sorry Bones.

            Walking to his filing cabinet, he pulled the file labeled OCTOBER EXPENDITURE REPORTS out and shut the drawer.  Stopping in the break room, he took his time by starting a new pot of coffee.  If Hacker was screwing with his plans, he could wait, too.

             Brennan got her husband’s message and sighed.  She knew it wasn’t his fault, but it was still disappointing.  Putting her phone down, she put her focus back on examining a rib from the remains in front of her. 

            Across from her, Jessica Warren was deafened by the silence in the room.  Looking up she saw her mentor’s face and knew whatever the text message said was not good.  As she was about to ask Brennan, Angela came into the room.

            “Bren, Hodgins and I are going to grab the kids from daycare, go home, get changed before waiting for Wendell to arrive, and get the apple pie so we can meet you back at your place for dinner.  I figure it can bake while we eat.”

            “Actually Angela, was called to a meeting with Andrew Hacker on some expenditure reports tonight.   Before he can come home he still has to finish the projected budget for his division to send by midnight, set up payroll for Monday, and complete his examination of his agents’ case files.  He doesn’t know when he can come home.”

            “That asshat.”  Angela said.  “You know Hacker only did that so Booth couldn’t make date night tonight.”

            “Angela…” Brennan said.  “That’s ridiculous.”

            “Is it?  Sweetie, he has no sense of respect.”  Angela said before holding up her hand and ticking off items.  “First, he rudely joined us without asking when you, Jessica, and I were having lunch at the diner.  Second, he flirted with all three of us.  Really gross.  Then, he lit up like a Christmas tree when you mentioned our date night while asking me what I was bringing for dessert.” 

            Jessica snickered.  “Aubrey calls him ‘Doofus Douchebag’ or DD for short.”

            “Ms. Warren, I think ‘Doofus Douchebag’ is a bit mean spirited a term—“

            “No, it’s a polite term for him, Bren.”  Angela said.  “Me personally, I like Vindictive, Ignorant Prick, but that’s just me.”

            Jessica snickered again.  “He’s a VIP.”

            “Yeah, I guess he is, Jessica.”  Angela said as the two shared a laugh.

            The anthropologist inhaled as she remembered their lunch before interrupting the women’s moment.  “You think he would really use work to make Booth stay at the FBI tonight?  It seems a bit childish.”

            “Yes.”  Angela said.  “Because he wants himself a Brennan sundae with a little Jessica cherry on top.”

            “Ewwww.”  Jessica said.  “He’s way too old and creepy.”

            Angela turned to the intern and smiled.  “We know Honey.  Besides everyone knows Aubrey is your boyfriend.”

            The squintern turned red and looked away.  “No he’s not.  We’re just friends…”

            “Whatever Jessica.”  Angela said before turning back to her friend.  “Bren, he can’t get away with this.”

            “Well, what do you suggest?”  Brennan asked.

            “Well…first we need some assistance and I know just the person.” The artist said before getting out her phone and sending a text message.

             Aubrey walked into the break room with a wrapped sandwich and saw Booth’s face as he poured some coffee.  “So when are you meeting up with Doofus Douchebag?”

            “Keep it down, Aubrey.”  Booth admonished.

            “You call him that, too.”  The other agent said in a quieter voice.

            “Okay, you got me there.”  Booth said.  “Wait, how the hell did you know about the meeting, Aubrey?”

            The junior agent walked in and put his sandwich down.  “I can see you grinding your teeth.  Besides, he always calls you for these stupid meetings either early in the morning or at the end of day every time he covers for Stark.”

            Booth finishing pouring his coffee before putting the carafe back.  “This time it’s about your expenses during the Carter case and all of October.”

            “What the…I was in major BFE.  What was I supposed to do…drive to Raleigh, wake up someone at their field office to sign out my loaner vehicle to take back to DC or rent one and then drive home?  If I was lucky enough to stay awake, I wouldn’t have got home until like 5:00 in the morning.”

            Booth shook his head. “I know, Aubrey.  I’ll take care of it.  It’s why I make the big bucks.”

            Aubrey made a realization.  “Do you think you can keep your date night tonight?”

            The senior agent walked out the doorway and peeked around.  Satisfied, he popped back in.  “Probably not unless DD runs out of hot air.  When I get done with that, I still have to finish this stupid budget shit along with payroll and the last of the few case audits.”

            Before the other agent could say anything, Booth picked up his folder.  “At least you get to go home tonight.  Now, if you’ll excuse me, Aubrey I have to go lose at least an hour of my time in my life I’ll never get back.”

            The younger agent walked his supervisor storm out.  After waiting ten seconds, Aubrey got his phone out and sent a message.

            Booth PO’d.  Will grab what I can from desk 2 catch him up.

            Putting money in the chip machine, he made his selection.  When the item he chose came down the chute, he grabbed them and laid the entire bag on the inside of his sandwich for his before dinner snack.  After buying a Coke as well, he took his stuff and headed out.

            Booth would have his date night tonight.

             Ninety minutes later, Booth left the office and silently seethed.  The meeting was nothing more than a nip pick and a fishing expedition.  Because of Hacker, he had to miss date night.

            He took the stairs down to the fourth floor to try and burn off his annoyance, but it didn’t help.  Opening the doors, he walked past the break room, but stopped when he saw Aubrey and the redheaded squintern his junior agent crushed on eating together.  As he observed Jessica gesture as if telling a story, the lanky man laughed.  When she turned away to take a bite, Booth saw the besotted look his friend had.  Ten seconds later, he saw a similar look on the intern when Aubrey sampled his dinner.

            ‘They’ve both got it bad.  Just friends my ass.’

             Walking back into his office, he saw that most of the folders that were on his desk were now gone.  Looking around, he didn’t see them anywhere.  Taking a breath, he left his office for the break room.  When he got closer, he could hear the two conversing.

            “So you want to hit the gelato shop and take a walk?”

            “Sounds good.  What time do you have to be back here?”

            “About 9 or 9:30.”

            “If there’s time to kill, we can hang out at your apartment until you have to come back.  I’ll drive you here so you can leave your SUV.”

            Booth walked in as Aubrey was about to answer.  “Aubrey, did you take the payroll and case audits from my desk?”

            “I did and I’m going to finish them up in a bit after I have dinner and hang out with Jessica.”  The junior agent replied.

            “Hi Agent Booth.”  The intern said.

            “Hi Jessica.”  Booth said before he smelled what they were eating.  “Is that Bones’ whore sauce?”

            Aubrey snickered before Jessica smacked him on the arm.  “Is it really still that funny?”

            “Uh yeah.”

            “You’re just like a little kid.”  The anthropologist said as she sent a text message.

             “How did you get my wife’s pasta sauce?  Better yet, when did she cook for you?”

            All three then heard a buzz that Booth felt in his pocket.  “That should explain everything Agent Booth.”  Jessica said.

            The senior agent took out his phone and smiled.  “Cool…excuse me you two…I have company waiting.”

            Booth left the break room and walked quickly across the bullpen.  As he got closer, he saw his wife, Angela, and Hodgins in the conference room.  On the table was a bottle of Chianti along with two slow cookers and a stack of red Solo cups.  Opening the door, he was assailed by wonderful smells.

            “Bones what’s going on?  Wow, it smells good in here.”

            Brennan grabbed the remaining plate and proceeded to put pasta, sauce, and vegetables on it.  “It’s dinner, Booth.  Since you couldn’t make it home for date night, we decided to bring date night to you.”

            “You guys didn’t have to do that.”

            Brennan exhaled.  “Yes we did, Booth.  I think I may be partly to blame for why you’re working late night.”


            “When our wives and Jessica had lunch together today, they ran into Hacker.  Doctor B mentioned we were getting together tonight without thinking about it.  Lo and behold a few hours later, you get called to a meeting that keeps you away.”  Hodgins said.

            “I wasn’t going to let that worm mess up our plans, so I sent a message to Aubrey asking for his help.”  Angela said.  “He grabbed that other stuff and worked on it while you were in your meeting.  He also offered to come back tonight to help you get the budget stuff and payroll thing done by midnight so you could have dinner and fun with us.”

            “That little shit.”  Booth chuckled as he remembered Aubrey earlier in the break room.  “He usually has the worst poker face.”

            Brennan handed her husband a cup of Chianti.  “Since Aubrey was so nice to take some work off your hands, I asked Ms. Warren to cook the pasta and apple pie at her apartment and bring them here so she could dine with him.  I went home and got the Crock Pots with the sauce and vegetables and brought them here.  Angela brought the plates and silverware while Hodgins got the bottle of Chianti, paper cups—“

            “And this my friend.”  Hodgins said with glee as he held up Trivial Pursuit before looking up at the clock.  “We have about 2 hours of date night before Aubrey returns, Booth.  What do you say?”

            “I say hell yes.”  Booth said before sitting down and digging in.

             At 9:15 Hacker made a stop on the 4th floor before leaving for the evening.  He was proud of himself for his little plan to ruin date night for Agent Booth and Temperance.  He did feel bad for ruining the plans of Doctor Hodgins and his wife, but it had to be done.

            The elevator stopped and he walked off, strolling down the hall with confidence.  The Homicide Division’s budget for the next fiscal quarter was not in his email, so Agent Booth was still toiling away in his office.

            He couldn’t wait to see it.

            As he turned the corner and into the bullpen he saw the light on but no Agent Booth in his office.  Then he heard it.

            “Gotcha Bones!”

            “That’s not a fair question, Booth.”

            Irritated, he walked towards the conference room, hearing the conversation from the four people in the room.

             “Yes it is, Bones.  No pink pie for you.”

            Angela heard her husband crack up.  “Hodgins, what’s so funny?”

            The entomologist lifted his head up.  “Pink pie…while not the exact same, it makes me think of Booger from Revenge of the Nerds.”

            Brennan watched in confusion as her husband laid his head down and shook in laughter as Hodgins cracked up again.  “I don’t know what that means.”

            “It means our husbands are remembering a thirty year plus old film involving naked sorority girls.” Angela said before taking a drink of her wine.  “They need to grow up.”

            “Booth, what is so hilarious?”  Brennan asked.

            “Yes, I’m curious, too.”  Hacker said as he entered the room and looked around.  “Looks like there’s a…party going on.”

            “Well, Booth was detained here at work so we decided to have Date Night here so he could have dinner and unwind for a bit.”  Brennan said.

            “Well, that was a very nice to do Temperance.  However, the payroll needs to be completed tonight to transmit Monday morning and I still haven’t received Homicide’s budget for the next quarter to forward to Director Stark.”

            “We’ll take care of everything, Director.”

            Everyone looked to see Aubrey standing behind Hacker wearing jeans, t-shirt, and a Syracuse hoodie.   The senior FBI official gave a critical eye to the younger agent.  “Agent Aubrey, what brings you back here wearing such…casual clothing?”

            “Well, I’m here to finish some paperwork I had from earlier before I help Agent Booth with the payroll and upcoming budget.  I didn’t think he would care that I wore street clothes, but I will go change if wants.”  He replied before looking at Booth.

            “It’s all good, Aubrey.  Thanks for coming back.”

            “No problem.”  Aubrey said before turning to Brennan and Angela.  “Thank you for dinner by the way, Doctor B.  Jessica and I enjoyed it very much.  Angela, the pie was AWESOME.”

            “I’m glad you enjoyed it.”  The artist responded.

            “You’re very welcome, Aubrey.”  Brennan said with a smile.  “I have some leftovers for you as well.”

            “Cool!”  Aubrey said before turning to his boss.  “Booth, I’ll be in my office finishing up that stuff.  Let me know when you’re ready.”

            “I will Aubrey.  Thanks.”  Booth said.

            When the younger agent disappeared, Hacker walked closer and noted the remaining food.  “Temperance that smells wonderful.  What is that?”

            “Puttanesca sauce with whole wheat linguine and California blend vegetables as a side dish.”

            “It looks like there’s enough for three people.  May I have some?”

            Brennan stiffened her spine.  “No, as already stipulated ten seconds ago, the leftovers are already for someone else.”

            Hacker leaned back in surprise.  “Seriously?  I can’t have a little bit?  I don’t think Agent Aubrey will miss it.”

            “Oh yes he will.”  Hodgins said to himself.

            “The leftovers are for Aubrey as a thank you for coming back to help my husband work tonight, no thanks to you.”

            Hacker decided to charm the woman in front of him.  “Temperance—“

            “Actually, Mr. Hacker we would like to return to our date night if you don’t mind.”  Angela said to Hodgins’ snicker.  “Enjoy your evening.”

            Upset his plans were thwarted, Hacker stiffened his spine before turning to Booth.  “You have less than three hours to submit that fiscal quarter information, Agent Booth as well as the payroll.  It would behoove you to wrap things up.”

            “I will, Sir.  Aubrey has been adequately trained in payroll so all I will need to do is double check it and authorize it.  We alternate the case audits each week so he stays proficient at it with me double checking his work.  That won’t take long and the budget stuff should take us no longer than an hour to an hour and a half.  I’ll just send it to Director Stark’s email so he can go over it during the weekend.”

            “You need to send it to me, Agent Booth.  Remember, I'm acting head of this division until Monday.”

            “Actually Andrew, Director Stark sent an email to Booth asking him to do it that way an hour ago.  He’s leaving on a 6 AM flight tomorrow and he wants to read it while he’s traveling.  He said as long as it’s in his mailbox by then, its fine if it goes past midnight.”

            “I wasn’t informed of that change.”

            “Booth, can I borrow your phone?  Thank you.”  Brennan said before her husband could say anything.  Finding the item in question, she showed to Hacker.  “I think that’s nice that Director Stark wants to make efficient use of his travel time and take some stress off you and Booth.”

            “Well…it sounds like everything is taken care of.”  Hacker said with a slightly annoyed tone.  “Good night everyone.”

            “Good night.”  All four said at the same time as the man walked out of the room.

             Aubrey was just walking out of the break room with a can of Coke when the director stormed by, not seeing him.  Holding back a snicker at the other man’s annoyance, he grabbed his phone and sent a message before walking back to his office.

            Wow.  DD is pissed.

            Booth felt his phone buzz.  Reading the message, he laughed.  “Aubrey said Hacker stormed out of here and looked really pissed.”

            “Well, Andrew needs to find better uses of his time than interfere with our plans.”  Brennan said.

            “Booth, it’s your turn.” Hodgins said.

            “Oh yeah.”  The agent said before shaking and dropping his dice.  “Six…yes…Sports and Leisure.  Get this question right and we win, ladies.”

            “Booth, it’s not nice to brag.”  Brennan said haughtily.

            “Just like when you cheered, ‘Who’s the greatest forensic anthropologist in the world?  Me of course.’ when you got the green pie.”

            “Bren step back.  We’re not going to let him win this.  Just because it’s a sports question doesn’t mean he’ll know it.”  Angela said before picking a card.

            “Very true, Angela.”  Brennan said.

            Angela read the question and her face fell.  “Shit…”

            “What, Angela?”  Brennan said before looking at the question.  “Oh.”

            The guys perked up immediately.  “Angie…ask the question so we can get our Sports and Leisure Pie.”  Hodgins said.

            The artist grumbled before pressing forward.  “What hockey player retired from the Hartford Whalers in 1980 after playing for 32 seasons in the NHL, setting a record?”

            Booth sat and made a face.  “Gosh…I don’t know…hmmm…Gordie Howe, Baby!”

            “Son of a bitch.”  Angela said.

            “Twenty five seasons with the Red Wings and 7 with the Whalers.  Booyah!”

            “Give us our orange pie, Angie.”  Hodgins said.

            “Really?  The game is over now.  There’s no point.”  Brennan said.

            “It’s the principle, Bones.”  Booth said to his wife.

            “No, Booth.  You two just want to have your little pie ceremony.”  Brennan said as she pulled an orange piece out of the bag.

            Hodgins grabbed his phone and searched before pressing a button.  Suddenly, the beginning notes of Also sprach Zarathustra played.  “Dum…dum…dum…da dum!”  The men sang together with the music.

            Angela and Brennan watched as they made a production of putting the orange pie in the game piece before waving it around.  When done, Booth held it into the air.

            “You guys are dorks.”  The artist said while shaking her head.

            “Yeah, but we’re dorks that won.”  Hodgins said.

            With reluctance, Booth stood up.  “I’m having fun, but I need to get back to work so Aubrey can go home, too.”

            “Tonight was a lot of fun, guys.”  Angela said.

            “Yes it was.”  Brennan said.

            “Next week, it’s at our house.  Think about what you want for dinner.”  Hodgins said.

            “I’ll walk you back to your office Booth.”  Brennan said.

            The two walked out and down the hall towards a lighted office.  “Aubrey, give me five minutes and I’ll be ready.”

            “No problem.”  They heard come from an office.  “Doctor B, is there any more pie?”

            “No!”  Booth said.


            The couple walked to Booth’s doorway where they stood for a moment.  “I had a lot of fun tonight, Bones.  Not that I never enjoy Date Night, but it was really fun.”

            “You and Hodgins were enjoying yourselves.”  Brennan said.

            “Hey, if it was you two that won, you two would have sang something like ‘Sisters Are Doing It For Themselves’ when you got the last pie and you know it.”

            “Very true.”  Brennan said.  “I should go back and help them clean up the conference room before I give the rest of the food to Aubrey.”

            “How is he taking it home?”

            “I brought a large container for him.”  Brennan said.

            “He enjoyed his dinner Bones, especially with Jessica.”  Booth said.  “He’s crazy about her.”

            “Ms. Warren seems equally besotted.”  Brennan replied before giving her husband a kiss.  “Now, I’ll leave you to your work.  If you get done in the next hour or two…you may have a surprise waiting for you.”

            The agent’s ears perked up.  “Is it a naughty surprise?”  He whispered.

            “Very naughty.”  Brennan replied before giving her husband a passionate kiss.  “Bye, Booth.”

            “B-bye Bones.”  The agent said as he watched his wife walk away.  He headed back near his junior agent's office. “Aubrey!  Shake a leg!  Come on!  I want to get home at a decent time tonight.”       

Chapter Text

            Gordon G. Wyatt got off the plane at Dulles International Airport fatigued but alert thanks to the Earl Grey and English Breakfast teas he had on the seven hour flight.  After walking to the baggage carousel, he walked past the gate and encountered the person who requested his presence.  The person one of a select few that could get him away from his restaurant or his beloved England.

            “Agent Booth.”  The former psychologist said before shaking the man’s hand.  “It’s been too long.”

            “It has been Gordon Gordon Wyatt.”  Booth said.  “Thank you for coming.”

            “You made a very persuasive case for me to come.”  Gordon said as the two walked out towards the exit.  “I’m sure your current profiler could have provided much assistance in this matter.”

            “Uh, no.”  Booth said as he looked both ways before the two crossed the street towards the parking lot.  “She diagnosed him with Dissociative Identity Disorder and it wasn’t correct.  She’s good at her job, but for this, I need someone who’s the best.”

            “And who can also translate the late Doctor Sweets’ notes?”

            “Yes.”  Booth said.

            Gordon nodded.  “How is Doctor Brennan?”

            “Busy working on her new book as well as helping me work cases.  Currently, we, along with Aubrey and the squints are tracking the man who killed my friend Aldo and Max.  We want to get him in before he kills someone else.”

            “Perhaps I can assist you in this regard if necessary.”

            “Hey, you’re doing me a big favor by leaving your restaurant to come here to help with Zack’s case.  Don’t worry about it.”

            “It’s an open offer, Agent Booth.”

            “Thank you.”  Booth said while pushing the fob.  “I will keep that in mind, thank you.  However, you will have to work with our current profiler and she is…well she has a tendency to be annoying as all get out.”

            Gordon laughed as Booth opened his back door to put the luggage in.  “Agent Booth, I’ve dealt with many people in my lifetime who have tested my patience.”

            “Not like this one.”  Booth muttered as the two got into the vehicle.

            After getting settled, the two men left the airport.  Booth asked him about things in Cambridge and his restaurant in London.  Gordon in turn asked about Christine and Hank.

            “So your young son was named for your grandfather?”

            Booth inhaled for a moment.  “Yeah.  Pops died in August 2014, a month before I got out of prison.”

            “He had congestive heart failure, correct?”

            “He did.  It wasn’t a total surprise, but he was so active for so long, you know?”  Booth said before chucking.  “I know of at least two girlfriends in his home that he liked to ‘crochet’ with.”

            The older man laughed.  “I remember the one time I met him when you brought him to my restaurant here in DC.  Lovely man with a love of life that held no bounds.”

            “That he did.”

            “I’m sorry about your brother, Jared.”

            “Thank you.”  Booth said as he watched the road.  “I tried to help Jared but in the end he couldn’t help himself.”

            Gordon considered his next words carefully.  “The loss of your former priest must have devastated you.”

            Booth turned onto the George Washington Parkway.  “The last year or so when I fell off the wagon and had to get my sobriety back, we lost touch.”

            “From my understanding, he fell into a heroin addiction.”

            The agent nodded.  “He had headaches for years after a bombing we went through.  He had three surgeries to remove shrapnel that was still embedded into his leg and back along with his recurring headaches.  I knew he took OxyContin for the pain but it was only as needed, plus he was depressed.  After we started the case, I found out that his doctor started limiting his pain medication.  Without narcotics, Aldo found other ways to control his pain.”

            “Heroin is unfortunately a cheaper substitute for people living with pain, depression, or both, Agent Booth.”  Wyatt said. 

            “He had to sell the bar to pay for the medical bills that were piling up.  His girlfriend broke up with him over the drugs last year.  The last year or so I was so wrapped up in regaining and maintaining my gambling sobriety that I wasn’t there for Aldo or the other men in my unit.”

            “You’re only human.”  Gordon said as he turned to his former client.  “Life moves on and sometimes, people do get left behind.  He also didn’t have what you have.”

            “Bones.”  Booth said as he entered Washington DC.  “I had my kids…Bones...”

            Gordon saw an opportunity and took it.  “Tell me, how are you coping with the recent death of your father-in-law?”

            Booth felt his stomach churn up.  “Doing what I have to do to get the son of a bitch.  Max made mistakes but he loved Bones and Russ.  He loved his grandchildren.  No one deserves to die the way he did.”

            Gordon recognized his former patient’s gloss over of his real issues and tried another tactic.  “How is your wife coping with the loss of her father?”

            Relaxing, Booth thought of what to say for a minute before deciding to be honest.  “She’s…coping.  He made her the executor of his estate with most of his money going towards Hayley’s future medical expenses.  The rest he divvied up between the grandchildren into small trust funds.”

            “How did he have such a lucrative estate?”

            “Ironically, besides his part time job at the Jeffersonian, he did work on the side advising banks and other places on security consults.  His selling point was that he was a reformed criminal and if anyone could stop a theft, it would be an ex-thief.”

            “Losing her father must have devastated her, given their history.”

            Booth nodded.  “I had to talk her into attending the funeral and the first few weeks would walk out of the room if his name was mentioned.  Aubrey and I, along with the squints packed up his apartment a week after the funeral.  We have the boxes in our guest room, but she still can’t go through them.  That first week she couldn’t even walk past the room.  At least now she’s not avoiding it, but still won’t let anyone in there.”

            “Knowing Doctor Brennan, she has immersed herself in her work when not taking care of your family.”

            “Yeah.  I was a shitty husband those first few weeks.”

            Gordon turned to Booth.  “How is that?”

            The agent pinched his nose.  “We put our focus on Christine and Hank, but we worked a case where I had to go to Canada with Aubrey.  Usually I would take Bones but with Max gone, she needed to be with the kids.  We were off sync for a bit.”

            The psychologist/chef nodded.  “But of course, you two found your way back…”

            “Yeah.  Sully.”  Booth said.  “It took her ex-boyfriend to get our heads on straight.”

            “I’m glad you two have each other to lean on.” Gordon said.  “Now, you brought the case files for me to read?”

            “Yes.  I have the boxes in the back seat.”  Booth said as they stopped at a red light.    

            “Good, I can start my review this evening.”

            “I’m sorry that our guest room is being used at the moment or else we would put you up, Gordon.   Are you sure you don’t mind staying—“

            “Of course not.  All he asked for in return was one meal daily.”

            Booth’s eyes bulged.  “Only one?”

            “I do appreciate your hospitality, Agent.”  Wyatt said as he and Booth entered the apartment.

            “No problem.”  Aubrey said before shutting the door.  “Who else can say they will have a chef as their house guest?”

            “He’s not here just to feed you, Aubrey.”  Booth said. 

            “I know that, Booth.”  The younger agent said while his cheeks flushed.

            “Is he staying in your guest room?” 

            “Yeah.”  Aubrey said before his friend took the stuff into the room.  Turning back to Wyatt, the agent continued to speak.  “You’re welcome to anything in the fridge.  I’m going to stay the weekend at my girlfriend’s apartment, but I’ll be back Monday night.”

            Gordon looked over to the end table and saw a picture of Aubrey with a pretty redhead on his lap.  “Is this your girlfriend?”

            Aubrey walked over and couldn’t contain his smile. “Yeah, that’s Jessica.  She’s an intern under Doctor B at the lab.”

            “She’s very lovely, Agent Aubrey.  You’re a lucky man.”  Gordon said.

            Before the conversation could continue, Booth came into the room.  “Everything is in there.  I have to get back home but do you want to join us at the house later for dinner?”

            “That sounds splendid Agent Booth.  I made arrangements for a car to be delivered here so I can get around the city while I’m here.  What time?”

            “Six okay?”

            “Perfect.”  Gordon said.  “Now, I know you young men have plans, so I will have Agent Aubrey show me around the place before I use the afternoon to go over this case.”

            “I can do that.  I’ll see you later Gordon Gordon.”  Booth said before turning to his fellow agent.  “Don’t nag him about food, Aubrey.  Jessica can feed you until tomorrow.”

            “Geez, Booth.  I’m not a child.  Get out of here and I’ll see you Monday.”  Aubrey said with red cheeks.

            After Booth left, Gordon turned to the younger agent.  “So, I just need to know where things are.”

            “Sure, Doctor Wyatt.  This way.”  Aubrey said before leading the other man down the hall.  “In regards to the food deal, do you take requests?”

            Two hours later, Gordon finished his tea while going through Sweets’ notes.  “Oh my, Doctor Addy.  You’ve been through so much.”

            Putting a file down, he got up and made some tea as he contemplated the case.  Zack Addy confessed to a crime he didn’t commit.  Why did he do this?

            Yes, fear of being in prison was certainly the main cause, but after reading Sweets’ observation, he agreed with the late psychologist’s assessment.  What the young man experienced in Iraq most definitely opened the door to being manipulated into being a serial killer’s apprentice.

            Looking up at the clock, he saw it was 5:00.  Remembering he wanted to pick up a bottle of wine for dinner, he got himself around.  Getting his keys, Gordon walked out to the SUV waiting for him.  Programming in Booth and Brennan’s new address into the Garmin, he started the vehicle and left.

            He will need to talk to the young man at his institution.  That he would do, but for tonight, he would enjoy dinner with old friends.

            “My dad built you a barbecue?”

            Gordon smiled down at Christine.  She really was a perfect amalgamation of her parents.  Not wanting to embarrass her father, he gave an edited version.  “Yes, he needed my help for a case, so I helped him while he built my barbecue.  Then we enjoyed the most wonderful steaks.”

            “Cool.  Dad makes me meat on the grill sometimes.  He says steaks are like God’s perfect food.”

            Even Brennan had to chuckle at that.  “If your father says so.”

            Booth looked at the clock.  “Okay Monkey, it’s almost nine o’clock.  Time to say good night to our guest here.”

            Christine ran to Gordon and hugged him.  “Good night Gordon Gordon Wyatt.”

            The older man chuckled but returned the hug.  “Good night, dear Christine.”

            Booth got an idea and decided to roll with it.  “Bones, I’m going to put Christine to bed and read to her.”

            The anthropologist saw the look on Booth’s face and wondered if he was up to something.  “I think we—“

            “I want Daddy tonight.”

            “See, she wants Daddy tonight.”  Booth said.  “Now, you and Gordon catch up and I’ll be back in a bit.”

            “You do that, Booth.”  Brennan said as she realized what her husband was up to.  When the two left the room, she turned to Gordon.  “Doctor Wyatt—“

            “Tell me Doctor Brennan, how is the fascinating world of the Jeffersonian Medico-Legal Lab?”

            Taken off guard, Brennan took a breath.  “Very well, thank you.  I have four new interns that started rotations with me last week, plus mentoring Ms. Warren and Mr. Bray.”

            “Isn’t it such a joy, passing on knowledge to a new generation?”  The psychologist said before sipping his tea.  “I spent many a day talking to Doctor Sweets after I moved back overseas, either about a case he was working on, or his relationship with Daisy.  A good man who will be missed.”

            “Yes, he is.  As for your second point, you’re correct.  I am the best and it is best served passing on my knowledge to students who I know can handle the important study of forensic anthropology.”

            “So when will Mr. Bray and Ms. Warren graduate?”

            “They will in December after they complete their dissertations and their oral exams.”  Brennan said.  “Wendell has recently started a new part time position at the FBI’s anthropology division.  I know Cam is in talks with the directors of the state crime labs in Virginia and Maryland about contracting services.  If that happens, we will offer a position to Ms. Warren next year.”

            “Sounds marvelous, Doctor Brennan.”  Wyatt said before taking another sip of tea.  Putting the cup down, he looked at the woman across from him.  “Tell me, how is everyone there?  I hear Doctor Saroyan is getting married to one of your students next Saturday.”

            “Former student.  Doctor Vaziri is now a freelance consultant, doing work for the WHO and UN as his study is human rights atrocities.  He has also recently started teaching part time at UVA.”

            “Very nice.  How about Doctor Hodgins and Ms. Montenegro.  Life must be challenging with his disability.”

            “They…had a rough patch.”  Brennan said carefully.  “However, they worked past it.  While medical science is always making strides, as of now, his paralysis is permanent.  However, Hodgins always finds a way to work past his disability.  It’s very inspiring.”

            Wyatt decided the time was now.  “And how are you Doctor Brennan?”

            “Good…well I had some difficulties recently…”

            “I heard about your father, Doctor Brennan.  I’m so sorry.”

            “We’re going to find the person responsible Doctor Wyatt.”  Brennan said before she wiped a tear that started to form.  “My father’s death…will not be in vain.”

            Wyatt approached the next subject carefully.  “Agent Booth states that you haven’t gone through his belongings as of yet.”

            “I’ve been busy with our cases of late, plus with…my father gone…we’re trying to find another person who we can call for our children.  Jessica has helped us our last couple of cases as well as Daisy.”

            Gordon didn’t miss the vernacular used.  “Daisy and Jessica?  First name basis with your students?”

            Brennan stiffened her spine.  “No, Daisy is a part of our lives because of Lance.  Jessica is in a relationship with Aubrey and we do socialize with them from time to time.”

            “Doctor Brennan, I’m not shaming you.  I’m admiring you.  You’ve come so far from the scientist who hid behind formality and facts.”  The doctor said with warmth.

            The anthropologist visibly relaxed.  “Well…I’ve learned that a life that messy and complicated is more fulfilling than one where science is my life.”

            “Agent Booth?”  The chef asked.

            “Yes.”  Brennan said.  “Twelve years ago, I never pictured myself being married with three children.  I saw myself living a life of science but Booth makes life…better.   I forgot about that for a while after my father died…but an old friend made me realize Booth and I were stronger when together.  We will find Radik’s son and get Aldo, my father, and any else he hurt the justice they deserved.”

            Gordon saw her stiffening posture and decided there was enough prodding of the scientist for now.  “So how are the children holding up?”

            “Christine is doing…better.  She was quite upset last weekend because there was a show my father was supposed to take her to.  However, Booth told her to have faith in God and that my father…is always watching over us.”

            Gordon could see tears forming in Brennan’s eyes, so he wordlessly offered his handkerchief.  The anthropologist gave a silent thank you as she took it and wiped her eyes. 

            “I don’t agree that an omnificent form of him exists, but it brought comfort to my little girl.  That’s all that matters to me.”

            “If I may say, I think after spending time with your lovely daughter this evening, she is adjusting beautifully.  She’ll have you to help her when she gets sad.”

             “Thank you.”  Brennan said as she inhaled deeply to block more tears.  

            Behind the hall, Booth wiped tears from his eyes to compose himself.  When he did, he came out into the living room.  “So…what did I miss?”

            “Doctor Brennan and I were talking about her work at the lab as well as how Christine seems to be adjusting to the recent changes in your lives.”

            “He said our daughter is wonderful.  I’m just sorry Hank went to sleep.”

            “I’m not worried, Doctor Brennan.  I’ll see your youngest Booth before I go back.”

            “Booth…”  Brennan said after touching her husband’s arm.  “Maybe we should discuss Radik’s son with Doctor Wyatt?”

            “Bones, I’m sure he’s exhausted.  He didn’t fly five time zones to hear about my past, but to help with Zack.”

            “Agent Booth.”  Gordon said with a smile.  “I’ve already offered my assistance if needed.  Now, if your wife feels my former vocation could help you, I would take notice.”

            Booth exhaled.  “Okay, Gordon as long as you don’t mind.  I keep the items at the FBI because I…don’t want them in the house.  All I can do is give you a brief description.”

            “I will review the files at your FBI next week.  However, tell me about your history with this man.”

            Brennan listened along with the chef as her husband started with his assassination of General Radik in Kosovo.  She felt the tenseness in his hand as he described the birthday party where he ended the war criminal’s life.  Later in the narrative, she felt the tenseness again as he talked about Aldo’s death.

            She couldn’t imagine what Booth was feeling right now.  If the way he squeezed her hand indicated an ounce of the guilt he felt, it had to be eating him alive.  Brennan’s thoughts were then interrupted when Gordon started to give his observations.

            “I believe that this sociopath is trying to hurt you the way he was hurt.  By murdering your father on the battlefield and then your father-in-law, he’s playing a dangerous game.”

            Brennan was scared to ask, but had to.  “Is Booth his target, Doctor Wyatt?”

            The elder man thought about his words.  “Yes.  You must remain on your guard.  Your home is beautiful but unfortunately the open windows make it easy to ‘take someone out.’

            “Bulletproof glass.”  Brennan said.  “After what happened at our old house, I chose this location because it was set back so far from the road.  After I made the purchase, I had bulletproof glass installed in every window of the house.  Christine doesn’t know that.”

            “Actually, no one knows that but us.”  Booth chimed in.

            “And my father, who knew the installer.”

            Booth squeezed her hand, remembering the loss of their first Mighty Hut.  “Bones I won’t anyone destroy our home again.”

            “I know, Booth.”

            Gordon observed the couple as they looked at each other.  He then had a sense of déjà vu, remembering the days when the two would go into a world of their own.  “Well, I think I will take my leave, you two.  The jet lag is starting to kick in a bit.”

            The couple snapped out of their trance.  “I’m sorry, Gordon.”  Booth said.

            “Don’t worry about me, you two.  Now, I’m going to get a good night’s sleep so I can finish going through Doctor Addy’s files before visiting upon an old friend tomorrow.  As for our last topic of discussion, when is the best time to visit the FBI to go over the case files?”

            “Whenever you’re available.”  Booth said.  “I’ll make time.”

            “Excellent.”  Gordon said as he stood up.

            “Let us walk you to the door.”  Booth said.

            “That would be lovely, thank you.”

            The three walked to the door as Gordon put his coat on.  When dressed, Booth opened the door.  “So Gordon, do you think you will know how we proceed next on the other thing tomorrow?”

            “I will study and give my recommendations as soon as possible, Agent Booth.”  Wyatt said.

            “Sorry…sorry.”  Booth said while holding up his hand.  “I don’t mean to rush…”

            “You’re not and I understand where the anxiety is coming from.  You two have a great deal of strain going on right now, but remember to be there for each other.”

            Brennan remembered Sully’s words again before he left DC after his temporary visit.  “We will, Doctor Wyatt.  Thank you for coming to dinner.”

            “I should be thanking you.  It was splendid.  Good night.”  The chef said before walking out. 

            After entering his vehicle, he got in and drove off.  He thought to himself about his plans tomorrow.  It was a long time but he couldn’t wait to see his old friend.

            Brennan shut the door and turned to her husband.  “Are you ready for bed, Booth?”

            The agent looked at his wife.  “Yeah.”

            The anthropologist walked up to her husband and put her arms around him.   A second later, a few tears fell.  Booth held his wife as she cried for a few minutes.  When she was done, she wiped her eyes before looking up at her husband.

            “I’m sorry about that.”  Brennan said.  “Talking about my father, it…”

            Booth took his wife in his arms.  “I know, Bones.  It’s okay.  I stopped to get a couple of things for Arastoo’s bachelor party a couple of days ago and I saw some chocolate covered bacon and bought some for Max.  It wasn’t until I got outside that it hit me that he couldn’t…”

            “You’re grieving too, Booth.  I need to remember that.”

            “No, we’ll grieve together, all right?”  Booth replied.  “Now, I have to focus on getting this son of a bitch before he hurts anyone else.”

            “All right.”  Brennan said before releasing Booth.   Taking his hand, the couple shut the lights off before walking down the hall to their bedroom.           

Chapter Text

            On Sunday morning, a sleeping Aubrey felt warmth on his face.  Trying to remain asleep, he put the covers over his head.  However, it was no use as the rare February sun shone bright through the window above Jessica’s bed.  Resigning himself, he pushed the covers off his head and opened his eyes.  He was sad to see the space next to him empty but knew his girl wasn’t far.

            Getting out of bed, he grabbed his socks from the floor and put them on before stretching.  When limber, he got up and walked to the bathroom where he did his morning business.  Coming out, he heard small taps and realized where his girlfriend was.

            Peeking into the second bedroom, he saw Jessica standing while bent over her desk typing something into her laptop.  He crossed his arm as she watched her become fully erect again while analyzing photos from what she dubbed her ‘Dissertation Wall’ before making notes on her dry erase board.  When finished, she went back and typed into her laptop again.  He smiled as she repeated the process for five minutes, all the while talking to herself as she made calculations in her head.

            Aubrey loved how her brain was always going places and never stopped.  It was a constant sponge, absorbing new information and applying it to anything and everything.  Jessica was a beautiful girl, but her genius intellect only made the outside package better.  How many men can brag that their girlfriend joined Mensa at 17?

            Of course, when she applied her intellect towards him in intimate settings, it was the cherry on his sundae.

            Obviously, life with his forensic anthropologist wasn’t always sunshine and roses.    Sometimes she was like a dog with a bone when she sensed something was off, a trait grated on him when he didn’t want to talk.  She could be stubborn when she felt she was right and he was wrong.  To this day, she refused to cook pigeon or any other exotic dishes that she called ‘roadkill.’  On rare occasions, she had a temper that matched her hair color that could leave him quaking in his shoes when it was directed at him. 

            But she always had a smile for him after a trying case.  They could spend hours together just reading graphic novels or playing video games.  He could tell her anything and she never judged or made fun of him. 

            She was also attractive in anything, including the tank top and loose flannel pajama pants she currently had on.  Her hair was piled on top of her head and she was wearing her thick Michigan State socks he got her for Christmas.  Buying for one of Syracuse’s rivals almost killed him, but he would do it for Jessica.

            They also had an emotional connection that became stronger each time they made love.  It was only with her that he could truly let his guard down and show his love for her through his kisses and caresses.  She gave her love in return by instinctively knowing where to touch him and losing herself in him.

            The lithe redhead in front of him flitting between her laptop, a wall of bones, and a dry erase board had his heart lock and key.  Over the last few months, he thought about that final step.  However, each time he did, his stomach got tied into knots as he considered the reasons not to. 

            It was way too soon.  They have only been a couple since May.  She still had about ten months left of graduate school.  They both worked crazy hours.

            Most of all, Jessica didn’t deserve to have to deal with the shitstorm going on with his father’s arrest.  As recently as last week, he was still getting calls from all major networks for an interview about his father.  He had to get Booth’s help last week to stop them from waiting for him at the Hoover.

            No, he would not subject her to that.  It was his burden, not hers.

            To the outside world and most people at the lab, Jessica Warren was a happy go lucky genius with an IQ 168 who graduated from college the first time at age 19 with two bachelor degrees.  She could alternate between flaky and profound in her words.  At times, she could be outspoken.  In the end, she was one would could always be counted on for a smile and was a generous soul to the ones she cared out.

            However, few people besides him knew that her perfect family of five older brothers and two parents growing up was a smokescreen.  She told him enough about her parents that he concluded that it’s a wonder they stayed married before divorcing bitterly when Jessica was 16.  Only trusted friends and family knew her relationship with her mother was contentious and mercurial as well as how devastated she was when her father had a stroke about a year after she graduated the first time from Michigan State.

            He remembered the conversation they had after closing Aldo’s case. He saw the look on her face when he mentioned how serious he was about her.  Obviously, commitment and marriage scared the shit out of her.  He couldn’t blame her because sometimes marriage scared the shit out of him, too.

            However, it still crossed his mind more often than not.  He could totally see them thirty, forty, fifty years from now, building a life together.  He wouldn’t run away at the first sign of trouble nor do something to put his family in jeopardy.  He wasn’t his father and he always tried to reassure her of that.

            However, both were afraid of screwing things up.  Their relationship was different that any the either had in the past because unlike the others, it was special and real.  Hell, it took him six months just to get the guts to kiss her because it had to be perfect.  When he tried to rush it, she almost accidentally broke his nose.  If he surprised her with an engagement ring he might accidentally break her finger.

            No, what they had was special just the way it was.  He was a lucky man and he didn’t need marriage to know that.  Why rock the boat?

            Then he saw her drop her dry erase marker.  As she bent over to get it, Aubrey got a nice view of her cute ass. 

            Yep, things were good, but they were about to get better.

            Sneaking up behind her, Aubrey put his arms around her stomach, startling her.  “Good morning, Jessica.” 

            “Good morning, Superman.” Jessica couldn’t help her shudder as she felt his warm lips hit the spot on her neck that drove her crazy.  “Hmmm, someone is in a good mood.”

            The agent’s hands roamed under her tank top to feel her soft skin.  “You know how I get worked up when I see your brain in action.”

            Jessica turned herself around and put her arms around her boyfriend’s neck.  “So you like my brain, huh?”

            “Among other things.”  Aubrey said as one hand went down to her posterior.  He kissed his girlfriend while simultaneously pushing her backwards.

            “Don’t you want me…to start breakfast?”  The redhead replied breathless as her boyfriend’s hands roamed over her as they reached the futon in the room.

            “I’m already starting breakfast.”  Aubrey said while pulling her tank top off her, shuddering as always when he was greeted with Jessica’s beauty.

            Jessica removed his t-shirt before they fell onto the furniture.  Soon after that, their remaining sleep wear landed on the floor.  With no more barriers between them, they wrapped themselves in each other as thoughts of bones, dissertations, and breakfast were far from their minds.

            Ninety minutes later, Aubrey was back in his boxers while finishing a second breakfast of pancakes, eggs, sausage, toast, and fruit with Greek yogurt.  Next to him Jessica was sipping coffee wearing only Aubrey’s shirt from earlier.

            “So when are you heading over to your apartment to feed Skinner?”

            “In about an hour.  By the way, Doctor Wyatt is making Chicken Piccata tonight if you would like to join me.”

            The redhead smiled.  “Sounds good.  I should be done shopping with Andie and Daisy by about 4:30 so I can be there between 5:15 and 5:30.”

            Aubrey scooped more eggs onto his plate along with the last sausage before shoving some into his mouth.  “So do I get to see what you buy today?”

            “Not until Valentine’s Day.  However, I may have a small surprise planned for you next weekend.”

            “Cool.”  Aubrey said as he cut a piece of sausage and stabbed it with his fork. 

            Aubrey returned around 11:00 to an empty apartment.  He was surprised because he expected the chef to be here, but figured what Doctor Wyatt did on his own time was none of his business.  After checking on Skinner, he spent the time changing his box and finishing a final set of laundry.  When done, he relaxed for a couple of hours watching old episodes of The Adventures of Superman.

            Gordon returned around 5:00 PM with several grocery bags.  It didn’t escape the agent’s notice that he had a large grin on his face.  Even more, he picked up the tune the older man was humming.

            “Someone is in a good mood.  Have a nice afternoon?”

            Gordon looked up as he was putting vegetables in the refrigerator.  “A splendid one, Agent Aubrey.  How was your evening with Ms. Warren?”

            “As good as yours it seems.  Is that High by James Blunt you were humming when you came in?”

            The chef was embarrassed for a moment but covered.  “It was, Agent Aubrey.  Talented artist, isn’t he?  I imagine it’s a tune you’ve hummed after spending time with your anthropologist?”

            The agent became embarrassed.  “It…may have…uh…”

            Gordon laughed.  “I’m just teasing young man.  I spent most of today with an old friend who I plan to see again tomorrow night.  Now, shall we get started on dinner?”

            Recognizing the end of the probe, Aubrey nodded.  “Sounds great.  Jessica should be here any time now.”

            “Wonderful.”  Gordon said before taking a covered cookie sheet out the fridge to set out.  Seeing the excited look on the agent’s face, he gestured to him.  “You may come and watch, young man.”

            Almost tripping over the cat, Aubrey ran the short distance to his center island where he got to watch the chef in action.  He observed Gordon pull out ingredients before beginning to make dinner.  “Are you sure you don’t mind me sitting here watching you cook?”

            “Of course not, Agent Aubrey.”

            The younger agent put his hand up.  “Please, it’s either Aubrey, James, Jimmy…I answer to almost anything.  I hear Agent Aubrey enough at work.”

            Gordon pulled a towel off the cookie sheet and put it in the preheated oven before Aubrey could figure out what they were.  “My apologies…Aubrey.  As for your question, I don’t mind an audience.   I am appreciative of admirers of good food and have an appetite.”

            “I love food.”  Aubrey said as he watched the chef chop vegetables like a pro.  “Food, justice, and Jessica.”

            The older man saw the opening and went for it.  “Your girlfriend sounds like a lovely young woman.  Doctor Brennan spoke highly of her last night and feels she has a bright future in forensic anthropology.”

            “She’s the best, Doc.”  Aubrey said with a smile as he remembered earlier that morning.  “She makes everything better.”

            "If I’m not prying, may I ask how did she react when your father returned?”

            Aubrey gulped.  “I didn’t tell her right away because she was on the tail end of a four week class at the Sorbonne.  I knew she would come home right away and I didn’t want her to screw things up so I kept it to myself.  Of course, I should have known that my father’s arrest would make international news and she heard it while watching the BBC.  She made arrangements to take her final test early and surprised me at home.”

            “That sounds very wonderful that she cared so much.”

            The agent exhaled.  “Not at that moment.  She chewed me a new asshole six ways from Sunday for keeping things from her.  When I told her why, it only made her madder.  After I apologized profusely for almost an hour, she forgave me and made me promise not to shut her out like that again.  When the storm blew over, we sat on the couch and she…held me while I talked about my father.  I cried a couple of times, but she didn’t care, only giving me assurances while comforting me before we fell asleep on the couch.”

            Aubrey kept to himself the fact that he called in sick the following day and they spent the day in his bed alternating between talking, science fiction movies, and making love.  They had four weeks to make up for.

            “I see.”  Gordon smiled as he put the vegetable medley aside. He had a good idea of what the young agent was not telling him.  “If I’m not prying, how do you see your future with her?”

            The agent squirmed for a minute.  “Together obviously.  We love each other and we’re best friends.”

            As the former psychologist worked on dinner, he multitasked.  “Do you see yourselves getting married?”

            Aubrey pulled at his collar, suddenly very warm.  “Uh, well, you know…she’s still in school and is in the final stretch for her degree.  We’ve only been together since May 4th you know.  They say at least a year or two is optimal before you get married.”

            “Who says that?”

            “You know…people.”  Aubrey said, desperately wanting a change in subject without offending the chef making the wonderful smells assailing his senses.

            “Tell me, what does Ms. Warren have to say about this?”

            “Well—“  Aubrey started before hearing the lock on the door turn with relief.  “Yay she’s here.”

            Gordon opened the bottle of Chardonnay Aubrey picked up for dinner and poured some into two glasses.  He observed the young couple greet each other and could see the love they had.  So why the wait?  He had an idea about Aubrey, but needed to observe the young woman first.

            “OMG, it smells wonderful in here, Doctor Wyatt.”  Jessica said as she came into the open kitchen/dining room.

            “You two, please call me Gordon.”  He replied. 

            “Okay.”  Jessica said.  “Sorry.”

            “Apology accepted.”  Gordon said before handing each person a glass of wine.  “What you are smelling is the appetizers I’ve prepared for this evening.”

            Jessica reached into her bag.  “Oh Superman, I picked up that chocolate bacon you love—shit, I left them in my car.”

            Aubrey set his wine down, stood up, and grabbed her keys.  “I’ll get them Jess.”

            “No, it will just be—“  Jessica said but her boyfriend was already putting on his shoes.

            “Jess, I got this.  Now where in the car?”

            The redhead gave in.  “The front seat.  However, I had to park two blocks away in front of the drugstore because there was no parking.”

            “Oh well.  It’s a decent day out.  Be right back.”  Aubrey said before kissing his girlfriend, grabbing his jacket, and walking out the door.

            “Your young man is very smitten with you, Ms. Warren.”  Gordon observed.

            “If I’m calling you Gordon, you call me Jessica.”  The redhead said before the two chuckled.  “He cares for me a great deal.”

            “He’s in love with you, young lady.  Anyone can see that.”

            Jessica blushed.  “Yeah…he’s different than any other man I’ve been with.”

            Gordon checked on the appetizers in the oven before closing the door.  “He told me you’re also best friends.  That is a wonderful start to a relationship.”

            “Aubrey said that when we met that first time at the lab that I was the ‘cutest squint’ he ever saw.  Of course, I thought he was pretty cute.”  The anthropologist said.  “We noticed each other on and off, but we really worked together the first time in the Hodsell case.  He flirted with me over Superman and I shot him down.  However, I asked him to Founding Fathers after work one Friday.  That summer and fall, we became friends.”

            “Your connection is obvious.  So tell me, how was it you two finally made the leap?”

            Jessica took a drink of her wine.  “We worked a case together where he had to run a background check on me and he discovered a few things I hadn’t told him yet.  We talked about it, but he…had issues with those parts of my past.  Suddenly, I felt really ashamed because until then I thought all that stuff I did helped make me the person I was today, you know?”

            “It’s those experiences that guide someone towards their future, young lady.”

            “Anyway, I responded by asking him if he was the same person he was when he was 13 and his father was arrested.  He felt bad and apologized but I was really hurt so I asked him to leave.”

            “Not a very good way to start a courtship.”  Gordon said while chopping parsley.

            “A couple of hours later, I was still really upset.  However, after walking with Angela, she convinced me not to give up on him just yet.  I was still debating on what to do when I got a package containing a stuffed bird and a note from Aubrey.  The note said I can't eat crow but if you're interested in trying pigeon, I will eat a whole one for you.'"      

             Gordon laughed.  “Very clever of Agent Aubrey.  I take it young lady you accepted his apology and request?”

            “I did.”  Jessica said before taking a sip of her wine.  “Of course, he didn’t kiss me until almost six months later, but when he did…whew!  We’ve been together ever since.”

            “Dare I say you are besotted with the young man, Jessica?”

            “Yeah.  I hope I don’t mess things up and we’ll be together for a long time.”

            Gordon heard a warning bell in his head.  Seeing the opening, he went for it as he prepared the olive oil and butter.  “If I’m prying, let me know, but I want to ask.  Jessica, do you think you might want to marry Agent Aubrey?”

            The redhead turned paler.  “Ohhhh….we have too much going on…he has this case we’re helping Booth with…I’m still in school for almost another year…I’m only 28 and he’s 33…his father was arrested recently.  Not…something to consider now.”

            The chef could see the reticence in her final answer and decided to shift focus.  “Aubrey tells me that you matriculated in an educational cooperative for gifted students?”

            Jessica relaxed as the change in topic.  “Me and my five older brothers.  I was kind of a child prodigy so I graduated high school at fifteen and started at Michigan State that fall.”

            “That must have been hard on your parents for their youngest child to leave the nest so young.”

            The redhead gulped.  “My parents…had other things to occupy their time, like hating each other’s guts.  They ended up divorcing the next year.”

            Gordon felt the sadness in the young woman’s voice.  “I’m very sorry to hear that.”

            “Don’t be.”  Jessica said as she polished off her glass of wine.  “My mother is a bitch with Bipolar II Disorder and off her meds half the time.  My father until he had his stroke was devoted to his career as a professor when he wasn’t trying to be mother and father to all of us.  They should have never been married.”

            Gordon didn’t miss the bite in the young lady’s tone as the timer went off.  Pulling the sheet out, he put it on the stove to cool down.  ‘Very interesting that both had similar excuses and both had issues with their parents.’

             Just then, the door opened and shut.  “Jess, this chocolate bacon is the shit!”

             Jessica watched as her boyfriend came into the room shoving a piece of the treat into his mouth.  “Aubrey!  That was for later.” 

            “I was hungry.”  He said with a full mouth before pulling the last one out of the bag.  “I saved you some.”

            The redhead and chef smiled before she took a piece from Aubrey.  “Thank you.”

            “No, thank you for this,” Aubrey replied holding the bag up.  “And for this morning.”

            Jessica turned red at the way her boyfriend looked at her, like she was the most beautiful girl in the world.  On top of that, he appreciated her intelligence and never made her feel stupid for voicing her opinion or beliefs.  He didn’t always agree, but he respected her views.

            Who needed marriage?  Her parents hated each other.  His parents’ marriage wasn’t much better before his father ripped people off for millions of dollars and abandoned his wife and son to save his own ass.

            But IT popped in her mind more frequently lately.  They wouldn’t have some hoity toity ceremony, but a simple one at the courthouse, with a small group of friends, or elope.  Afterwards, they would come home from their days and share their nights together…share a life together.

            That night a few weeks ago when they talked about his father, she thought he was going to ask her to marry him.  It would have been very bad as he would only be asking her because was caught up in the emotion of the shit storm called Philip Aubrey.  He needed time to deal with things because if he didn’t, one day years in the future he would realize that he married her when he was vulnerable. 

            It would be like their parents all over again.  She didn’t want to hate Aubrey or worse, have him hate her.  No way was she going to let that happen because she couldn’t risk losing their friendship. 

            Their relationship was so good the way it was.  They spent most nights together enjoying each other’s company as they were also friends.  They had lots of phenomenal sex. They could still do the weird things they love and have a lifetime together.

            Nope, marriage was a complication they didn’t need. 

            Gordon saw the two look at each other and it was obvious both of their brains were on overdrive.  Deciding to break up the quiet, he put food on a tray.  “Now, relax for a few minutes and enjoy my appetizers of the evening.”

            “What are they?”  Aubrey asked before taking one and shoving it into his mouth.  “Oh wow…so good.”

            “Why thank you.  They are phyllo dough with brie cheese and mushrooms.  Here is a pepper raspberry sauce to dip them in.”

            Jessica took one and used the dip.  “Ohhh Superman, this is so good with these.”

            Aubrey took another one and thought he died and gone to heaven.  “Doc—Gordon, what’s for dessert?”

            The chef turned to the couple.  “Chocolate cake with raspberry filling.”

            “Oh fuck me…” the agent said with a full mouth.

            By 11:00, Aubrey was in bed as Jessica was in her bathroom brushing her teeth.  While looking at his phone, he thought about what the chef said.

            “If I’m not prying, how do you see your future with her?”

           “Together obviously.  We love each other and we’re best friends.”

            She didn’t seem all that crazy about marriage when it would come up in conversations with other people.  Things were good as they were, so why worry about it?

            “Tell me, what does Ms. Warren have to say about this?”

            “I don’t fucking know.”  Aubrey said to himself in frustration.

            “You don’t fucking know what?”

            Startled, the agent looked up to see his girlfriend in the doorway of her bedroom.  She was wearing another tank top pajama set, this one in red and black plaid.  But it was her face that got his attention.  She looked worried.

            “Uh…nothing.  Booth sent me a text asking about one of our agents.”

            Jessica noted that Aubrey looked nervous.  “Is that all?”

            “Yep.”  The agent said while he set his phone on the bedside table and plugged it in.

            Jessica sucked down her suspicion.  Aubrey didn’t lie to her about work.  “I’m going to read for a bit, Superman.  Is that okay?”

            “Yeah, of course.”  Aubrey said before opening the nightstand drawer and pulling out a comic book.  “I didn’t get a chance to read my new Rocket Raccoon and Groot comic last night.”

            “I’m reading that when you’re done.”  Jessica said with a smile.

            “Always.”  Aubrey replied.

            The two sat quietly reading but each were pondering their conversations with Gordon earlier that evening.

            “If I’m prying, let me know, but I want to ask.  Jessica, do you think you might want to marry Agent Aubrey?”

            “Do you see yourselves getting married?”



            The couple giggled at their simultaneous moment.  “Sorry, Aubrey.  You first.”

            “No, you.”  The agent said, wanting to consider his thoughts before asking his questions.

            “Well…”  The anthropologist said.  “Doctor Wyatt asked me a question earlier.”

            “Really?”  Aubrey asked, trying to be nonchalant.

            “Yeah.  He asked me if I saw us getting eventually getting married.”  Jessica said, trying to keep things light.

            “You don’t say.”  Aubrey said.  “He asked me the same thing.”

            The redhead combed back her hair.  “It was wild.  He said he could tell we loved each other before asking that.”

            “What did you tell him?”  Aubrey asked.

            “Wait,” Jessica said.  “He must have asked you first.  What did you tell him?”

            “I asked you first.”

            “Age before beauty.”  Jessica pushed back.

            “Shit.”  Aubrey said before coming up with the words to reassure her.  “Okay…well, I told him that it was too soon, of course.”

            Jessica nodded her head, ignoring the small stab in her gut.  “Yeah, that’s what I told him, too.”

            “I mean,” Aubrey said.  “You still have almost a year of graduate school to finish.”

            “We’ve only been a couple for nine months.”  Jessica added.

            “Our careers are insane right now.  Making time for each other can be a challenge sometimes.”  The agent replied.  “Plus, we didn’t have the best examples.”

            “Don’t forget with your father back that there’s a lot of baggage to work through.”

            “Yeah, don’t want to make an emotional decision.”  Aubrey was hit with a quick wave of sadness at Jessica’s logic.  Now wanting to upset her, he gave agreement.  “Plus, we’re pretty young, you know.  Slow and steady seems to always work for us.”

            “Exactly.  Why rock the boat?”  The redhead said.

            Aubrey held up his arm in a gesture.  “Right?  We’re good, right Jess?”

            “Definitely good.”  Jessica said while nodding her head.  “It’s not like we’re Doctor B and Booth.”

            “Hell, no, Jess.”  Aubrey said.  “Don’t…even go there.”

            “Sorry…so we agree about marriage?”

            “Not even going there.  Too many reasons to not worry about it.”

            “Good…glad we agree.”

            “Definitely.”  Aubrey replied before leaning over and kissing Jessica.  “Good night, Jess.”

            “Good night, Aubrey.”  Jessica replied.

            The agent and anthropologist turned off their bedside lamps at the same time.  When the lights were out, the two moved closer together until his arm was around her and her head on his chest.  Unbeknownst to the other, their minds were racing.

            ‘Maybe things would be different with Aubrey.  He’s been supportive of me in the last few months as I’ve started writing my dissertation.’

            ‘I know my father stirred up some old wounds, but perhaps not enough to drive me to made emotional decisions I’ll regret later.’

           ‘We are almost and over 30 respectively.  It’s not like we’re impulsive teenagers.’

           ‘Our schedules are insane but we’re pretty good at making time for each other.’

            ‘I love him and I want to spend the rest of my life with him.  I want little Aubreys someday running around eating me out of house and home.’

            ‘I love her and want to spend the rest of my life with her.  I want little Jessicas someday running around being smarter than everyone else.’

            Jessica buried her head into her lover’s chest.  ‘Aubrey doesn’t want to get married.’

            ‘Jessica doesn’t want to get married.’ Aubrey thought as he looked up at the ceiling.

            Those were the last thoughts of the couple before each fell into a troubled sleep, both too upset to notice the tension in each other. 

Chapter Text

            It was a rare weekday off as Brennan was in the kitchen prepping her tofu artichoke squares for her friend’s bridal shower later that day.  Cam was surprised that she asked for the day off on Monday but signed off on it.  The pathologist was pretty generous with her employees, rarely if ever turning down a day off request.

            Brennan stated the reason was to work on her novel as well as prep food for Cam’s party.  While in the past she shied away from taking time off unless forced, now she enjoyed having occasional time away from bones, cultures, and death.  The anthropologist was quite confident that Ms. Warren could handle the identifications of the Antietam soldiers that arrived the day before.  If there were any issues, Clark could assist her.

            Plus, they were in a standstill in the Mark Kovacs case.  Brennan knew that it would be prudent to concentrate on other things, like her chapters for her latest novel due next week.  Booth suggested that she ask for an extension.  She decided against that, knowing that with all that happened the last few weeks, work helped her to cope and clear her head. 

            When she finished with the vegan treat, she put them in the refrigerator.  Done, she washed her hands and walked to her home office in the back.  Sitting down, she powered up her laptop and when able, open the file for her latest novel.  She had the latest chapter in her head word for word and was ready to get it down on a Word document. 

            However, Brennan was finding it uncharacteristically difficult to focus her words onto the page.  Stopping, she looked across the hall and saw the closed door.  The guest room door…where her father’s things were.

            Shaking her head, she put her imagination back in the world of Kathy and Andy. 

            Kathy stayed behind Andy at his insistence.  She was still annoyed that he wouldn’t let her bring her gun to the suspect’s house.  As they skulked their way around the corner, she watched her partner clear the hallway before signaling her to continue.

            As they walked

            The anthropologist stopped as she drew a blank.  She took a breath and returned to the laptop screen, but it was no use.  After sitting for a moment, she decided she needed a change of scenery. 

           Grabbing her laptop, she walked it to the living room.  She debated for a moment before getting the curtain and opening the room to glorious sunlight.  It would be sad to waste the rare beautiful February day so she cracked open the window as well.  Deciding that tea sounded good, she went into the kitchen and found the Sun, Moon and Stars Tea she recently discovered from the Brighton Tea Company.  It was a nice relaxing tea when she felt stress.

            When the water boiled, she put two bags into the Brown Betty teapot and mixed the ingredients.  Getting her favorite cup, she put all items onto a tray and carried it out to the living room.  By the time she set everything down and got her laptop in the right position, she judged her tea steeped enough and poured.  When ready, she put her feet up and got ready to work again.

            But she couldn’t.  The words were in her head and she saw the action play out.  However, she couldn’t make the keys type what she saw.

            Deciding she needed a distraction, she put on her cardigan sweater and took a walk around her property.  Due to the above average temperatures, she could enjoy the crisp air as she walked around the maple trees in the back yard.  A short time later, she edged back around their stone patio and re-entered the house with her security code.

            Confident, she went back to her previous task.  To her frustration, she found herself once again having difficulty typing the action she could see and hear onto the screen.  Her attention was drawn again towards the hallway leading to the other side of the house.

            Exhaling in frustration, she decided to get a head start on laundry.  It was usually a task she did on Sunday mornings while her family was at church in between writing.  However, getting a head start wouldn’t hurt.

            In the laundry room, she went through the family’s dirty clothes.  She smiled when she found Booth’s Captain America boxer briefs.  After sorting the three loads, she started one and went back to the living room.  Sipping her tea, she found it too cool to her liking.  Walking into the kitchen, she put it in the microwave for 30 seconds.  When judging the beverage to be satisfactory, she went back to the living room to complete her task at hand.

            Once again, she found it difficult to write.  Brennan could feel the frustration mount so once again, she got up.  Finding the duster, she went to the shelves with her books and Booth’s jukebox and cleaned.  Done, she cleaned the duster and put it away.  With a steeled determination, she went back to work on the novel and was stymied once again.

            Looking down the hallway, she knew the reason why for her difficulties and it was several yards away at the end of the hall.  She exhaled in annoyance that the work she needed to complete was delayed once again.  Frustrated, she got up and stormed down the hallway.  If this is what she had to go to get her mind back in focus, so be it.

            Twenty seconds later, her determination drained when she got in front of the guest room door.  However, the anthropologist refused to let that stop her.

            “I’ve faced military junta who threatened to rape and kill me, computer savants that tried to destroy my life with Booth, and a government conspiracy that destroyed our house and attempted to murder us.  I can go into a bedroom and go through a few boxes.”

            Breathing through the nausea that engulfed her suddenly, she slowly put her hand on the door knob, reeling back in shock.  “It’s just static electricity because I’m wearing a knitted cardigan sweater.  I’m producing it when it sit and stand.”

            Brennan reached for the knob again.

            At 12:15 Booth walked into the house carrying takeout.  He told Aubrey he was just bringing Bones lunch, but even the younger agent knew he was checking in on her.  Bones did not take time off from the lab unless it was for a vacation or severe illness.  She usually worked on her manuscripts at the Jeffersonian during down time in between cases or when he took the kids to Mass on Sundays.

            He was worried about his wife.  Things were better since Max’s funeral, but Bones still refused to go through her father’s things.  When their daughter wanted to go into the room to find a picture of Grandpa Max, Bones just gave her one she had.  They were talking through their feelings and leaning on the other but things were still a bit off.

            He also knew that they hadn’t made love since before Max died.  At first, they were working on opposite ends with their grief.  Then after Sully got their heads out of their butts, they worked to console each other.   He wasn’t going to pressure her though.  Only dickheads pressured their spouses for sex when they were grieving.

            Looking up, he saw the kitchen window open a crack.  Angry, he walked over and closed it.  Just because Kovacs was in jail didn’t mean there weren’t others out there gunning for him and his family.  No way had the paramedic orchestrated all this alone.

            As he moved to find his wife to give a lecture on safety, he heard crying.  “Bones?”

            Hearing nothing but sobbing, Booth raced through the house and his heart broke when he saw his wife sitting in front of the guest room door.  Her head was in her hands and she was shaking.  

           “Oh my God Bones, what happened?”  He said while sliding down to the floor.  Taking her in his arms, he held her.  “Honey, what’s wrong?”

            “I-I tried to….go in…the room.”  Brennan sputtered into his shoulder.

            “Shit…” Booth muttered. 

            “I wanted to…Booth…but I…couldn’t do…it.”  Brennan cried.  “I-I’m sorry…”

            “Bones, don’t apologize.  You have nothing to be sorry for.”  Booth said as he consoled his wife.

            “Why can’t I…go…through my f-father’s…things…Booth?”  The anthropologist sobbed.  “It’s…irr-irrational to…have things…just sit…there locked…away.”

            The agent was at a loss on what to do.  He would take his wife’s pain away if he could, but he couldn’t.  “No Bones, it’s irrational to force yourself to do something before you’re ready.  That’s what Sweets would say if he were here, but it would be in that really clinical and annoying way that you would understand.”

            Brennan chuckled through her tears, making Booth smile.  “You’re right.  Psychology is a soft and subjective science.  However, there are the occasions that it has merit.”

            Booth continued to hold Brennan while moving his hand in a circle on her back.  “Bones, Max is…was an important part of your life…of this family.  It’s going to take time.”

            The anthropologist sniffled and nodded her head.  “I hate…being irrational, Booth.  It is logical to go through my father’s things and distribute them where it would do the most good.”

            “But you’re not ready, Bones.  Max’s things will always be there, all right?”  Booth said.  “Remember when I came home from prison and you had Pops’ things in that same room?  It took me weeks before I could go through his stuff.”

            “I would have done it, but I felt that was something you needed to do, Booth.”  Brennan said.

            “I know, and I’m glad you didn’t.  Not that I would have been mad at you…”

            “But with all that happened to you, you need something that you could have control over.  Something…that you could process in…your own time.”

            Booth pulled his wife closer and kissed her on the head.  “You were right and I was better for it.  Now, I’m going to help you do the same thing.”

            They sat on the floor together for a moment before Brennan realized something.  “Booth, why are you home?”

            “I thought I would have lunch with my wife today.”  Booth said.  “Aubrey went out with Jessica and Gordon is going over the Kovacs’ case before doing more research on Zack’s case.”

            “Just to have lunch, huh?”  Brennan asked.

            “I also wanted to check on you, Bones.”  Booth said.  “I know you don’t take a personal day unless desperate.  I wanted to take care of you.”

            “I appreciate that very much.” The anthropologist asked.  “Where did you go?”

            “The diner.”

            “Booth!  It’s 19 miles away.  The food will be cold.”  Brennan said.  When her husband merely held out his hand in response, she took it before he helped her up.  “Booth, did you hear what I said?  Our lunch is going to be cold.”

            “I did and in your answer to your second comment, not exactly.”

            “I don’t know what that means.”

            Booth led her to the table where two insulated bags sat on the table.  “This is what I mean, Bones.”

            “Is that—“

            The agent pulled out a round Styrofoam container along with two other ones out of the large bag.  “It is.  When I told Frankie I wanted to bring you lunch home, he loaned me his travel bags so it would keep warm.  I just have to return them later.”

            Brennan smiled as she felt her sadness going away.  “That was very nice of him.”

            “I know…and look what else Frankie is selling now.”  Booth said before pulling out a bottle of Faygo Lemon Lime Sparking Water from the smaller bag.

            “I’m very impressed.”

            “I know.”  Booth said as he got out his bottle of Faygo Rock N’ Rye pop.

            “Booth, Rock N’ Rye—“

            “Da da da, don’t spoil this for me, Bones.”  Booth said.  “I know it will rot my teeth and do things to my pancreas but I don’t give a shit.  It’s good stuff.  I’ve also got a fruit salad for me to eat later before Arastoo’s party.  Acceptable?”

            “Acceptable.”  Brennan said as she was sitting down.  “Although it wouldn’t hurt you to try the smoothies Ms. Warren gave to Aubrey—“

            “No, Bones.  I refuse to drink stuff that smells like it came out of a camel’s butt.”

            “All right.”  Brennan said as she opened her soup.  “Did I ever tell you the first time I ever had Faygo soda?”

            “No, you haven’t, Bones.”  Booth lied, wanting to keep his wife smiling.

            “Well it was my first semester at Northwestern.  At that time, it was still found mostly in Michigan since it’s bottled in Detroit.  However, due to Evanston’s proximity you could find it in select stores.”

            Booth ate his cheeseburger and listened as his wife describe the memory.  He heard the stories at least six times, but he wanted Bones happy for a while.  If that’s what it took, so be it.

            At the Hoover, Gordon was going over the Kovacs case files while enjoying the tuna melt sandwich, fries, and Coke that Aubrey and Jessica brought back for him.  On his other side was the apple pie the agent included as an apology for the chef getting scared by Skinner while taking a 3:00 AM constitutional earlier that morning.

            After he wiped his hands, the older man moved on to the next file and his stomach turned as he read the name on it. 

            CLEMENTS, ALDO

            Exhaling, Gordon opened the file and began to read.  As he read the details of the torture used before the man committed suicide, the man fought to keep the tuna melt down.  Things like this were a part of why he got out of psychology.

            He expected to be out of it permanently but when Agent Booth called him to help with Doctor Addy’s case, he couldn’t say no.  Of course he could have not volunteered to read the case file of the alleged victims of Mark Kovacs, but he couldn’t stop himself.  He always held a soft spot for the agent and the forensic anthropologist.  No way could he stand by and let these good people be wronged while he toiled away in his London restaurant.

            When he got to the next file, he got a heavy heart. 

            KEENAN, MAX

            The man was a rascal, a murderer, a bank robber…but also a devoted father and grandfather.  From his research, he knew that the man lived by a code to protect his family at all costs.  He killed a FBI Deputy Director when his son Russ was in danger and he killed two highly trained Serbian bodyguards who were after his grandchildren before taking three bullets to the chest.

            Unfortunately, one of the shots caused his pacemaker to malfunction, proving fatal to his heart.  The wounds would have killed most people almost immediately, but Max was a tough man.  Even as a former man of soft science, he knew that sheer will kept that man alive long enough to reconcile with his daughter before his death.

            He sensed that the good Doctor Brennan was still feeling residual guilt.  Guilt for her anger at him for his secret medical procedure.  Guilt for putting him in harm’s way at the safe house to guard over her children.

            But above all else, guilt for holding him at arm’s length for several years before forgiving him for his sins of the past.  It was the only thing that made sense in why Doctor Brennan refused to go through her father’s belongings. 

            Agent Booth held considerable guilt as well.  He was the one who approved Max going with the kids to the safe house.  Most of all, he performed the duty that led to people exacting revenge onto his family.  Now, that vengeance cost his father-in-law his life.

            Gordon sensed that Booth was pushing away his pain, making Doctor Brennan and their children’s emotional well being his top priority.  Instead, he channeled all his emotions into solving this case to rid his family of this monster once and for all. 

            For all of Agent Booth’s talk about how Tim Sullivan got them to get their act together, it wasn’t totally there yet.

            Of course, Booth and Doctor Brennan acting as each other’s emotional support while working the case.  However, there was an almost undetectable distance erected by the former sniper, not noticeable to most.  The former shrink guessed the reason behind it was an act of penance for the crime he deemed himself guilty for. 

            From what he could gather, the forensic anthropologist hasn’t noticed the wall yet.  However, he had no doubt that she would once the fog of sadness and grief began to lift.  In the end, it could only be Doctor Brennan who would bring it down. 

            Unfortunately, she could not until she could forgive herself.  When that day came, she could help her husband move past his blaming himself for the death of Max and Aldo…and of the events of almost 22 years earlier.

            Closing the file, he put it back in the box.  As he looked up across the hall at Agent Aubrey’s office, he saw the young man with his girlfriend in the doorway.  Each were smiling before she kissed him chastely and left.

            While their own entity, the young couple reminded him of Agent Booth and Doctor Brennan in an earlier time.  Both has emotional damage from their younger years.  He did his research on Philip Aubrey and was amazed at how well young James turned out after the trauma of his father’s crimes. 

            He wasn’t surprised when Booth told him that he turned his own father in, first at age 13 and then twenty years later.  From the first time he spoke to the younger agent, there was a sense of justice and morality to him.  There was also great pain that was hidden well, but scars that peeked through if you looked hard enough.

            He thought about the young redhead as well.  On the outside, Jessica Warren was a bright, intelligent woman who lived life to the fullest without looking back.  However, it was obvious from their conversation that her parents’ difficult marriage left scars as well.  He was also willing to bet that her mother’s mental illness and selfish tendencies inflicted more damage that she was willing to admit.

            He remembered their reactions when he innocently brought up marriage.  Both had almost the exact same excuses as well as fear so palpable that the chef had sensed it.  Their reactions confirmed his theory that they loved each other desperately, but that final step scared them both to death.  Each had fears to overcome before they could truly commit to each other.

            Perhaps he could help both couples.  Of course, it would make him a busybody of sorts as he was only here to give a psych profile on Doctor Addy in the hopes of securing his release.  He didn’t care though, but he had to do it carefully.

            There was also the matter of another person.  He hoped to talk them into coming back to England with him.  However, his old friend was a stubborn one.

            “Guess I have my work cut out for me while I’m here, don’t I?’’ Gordon said to himself as he continued to read the case files.

            By 1:00, Booth and Brennan were cleaning up from lunch.  When they were done, Booth put his jacket back on.  “Do you want to meet me at the lab or should I come back and pick you up?”

            “I can meet you there.  If you can get a ride from Aubrey, we can go home together.”

            “That works.  Aubrey said he took Jessica to work today so they could ride home together as well.”  Booth said before straightening his back.  “Now, I’m not going to have to bail you guys out of another jam, am I?  I only have a certain amount of favors to call in for Maryland and Virginia.”

            “Ha ha, Booth.”  Brennan said with a smile.  “Cam didn’t want to go to a bar, hence her and Doctor Vaziri’s decisions to have simultaneous parties in different meeting rooms at the Jeffersonian tonight.”

            “Just messing with you Bones.”  Booth said before giving her a kiss.  “I have to head back to work.  Aubrey and I have some leads on the Kovacs case we’re going to work on.”

            “Did Doctor Wyatt finish reviewing Zack’s case files yet?”  Brennan asked. 

            “He was almost done.  When I left, he was going over the Kovacs case, but said he was going to visit with Zack tomorrow.”

            “Oh.”  Brennan said.  “Do you think he could help with his appeal?”

            “I hope so, Bones.”  Booth said before giving her another kiss.  “So the kids are set tonight?”

            “Yes, we hired Cam’s niece Olivia as well as Jessica’s niece McKenzie to take Lance, Christine, Hank, Michael Vincent as well as Cam and Arastoo’s nieces and nephews to a nearby pizza place for a party from 5:30 to 8:30.  Angela made all the arrangements.  She and Daisy are providing their minivans to transport the children.  Two of the Jeffersonian Day Care workers are also going to help after 6:00 when it closes.”

            “That sounds good, Bones.”  Booth said before he looked at his wife.  “Are you going to be okay if I leave?”

            Brennan inhaled.  “Yes, Booth.  I’m sorry about…earlier.”

            “Bones, you’re grieving and you’re obviously not ready to go through his things yet.  It’s all right.  Max’s stuff isn’t going anywhere.  Take all the time you need.”

            “Thank you, Booth.”  Brennan said.  Suddenly, she smiled before rubbing her hand on her husband’s breast pocket.  “You know…we have the house to ourselves.  Ms. Warren is working for me today and you have Aubrey today.  How about we extend your lunch hour?”

            Booth felt an inexplicable wave of panic.  “W-what about your book’s deadline?”

            The anthropologist moved her hand onto her husband’s posterior.  “I’m ahead of schedule.  Besides, we haven’t made love in the kitchen in a while.”

            Booth shuddered before taking a step back.  “Oh, I would love to but I need to get back to work.”

            Surprised, the anthropologist took another step forward.  “Are you sure, Booth?”

            “Unfortunately Bones, yes.”  Booth said breathlessly as his wife ran her finger down the front of him.  He took her hand and squeezed it.  “Perhaps tomorrow night or something.”

            Shaking off her disappointment, Brennan composed herself.  “Sure, Booth.”

            “I’m sorry, Bones.”

            Brennan kissed her husband.  “It’s all right.  Go back to work.”

            “Okay.”  Booth said.  “Are you sure you’re okay if I leave?”

            “Yes, go Booth.  Work the case.”

            Booth squeezed his wife’s hand again before walking out the door.  After getting into his SUV, he began to drive back to DC while pondering his wife.

            He hadn’t seen her that despondent since the Lauren Eames case.  He was afraid she was going down a road he didn’t want her to see again, or the kids for that matter.  It broke his heart to see her crumpled up on the floor like a rag doll.

            He really wanted to stay with Bones for an extended lunch.  However, he would not be the type of husband who would take advantage of his wife before she was ready to be intimate.  It was obvious she was reacting from earlier, but he would be the better man.  He would be there for her in whatever she needed.  He was grieving, too but Bones was more important.

            He was the one who pulled the trigger twenty two years earlier.  He was the one who brought the SOB and possibly his family into their lives.  He was the one who led them to his father-in-law, who died to protect not just his children, but their entire family.  How could he saddle up to his wife for a slap and a tickle when he was the one who inadvertently got her father killed?  The doting grandfather to their children?  How did Bones not hate him?

            He didn’t know and he didn’t want to think about it anymore.  His emotions were better spent in pursuit of evidence against Mark Kovacs and the members of his family.  He would get Max, Aldo, Margaret Kwan, and anyone else hurt by these people the justice they deserve.

            But in the meantime, perhaps Gordon wouldn’t mind having dinner with the family again this week?  An old friend’s company would be a nice thing to have with all the craziness this week helping Cam and Arastoo get ready for their wedding.

Chapter Text

            By mid-afternoon, Jessica was working diligently in the Bone Room on one of the Antietam soldiers brought in the day before.  Slowly and carefully, the redhead went over the decedent’s T5 vertebrae.  Finding damage consistent with a bullet or other fast moving object, she measured before documenting it in the case binder.  As Doctor B always said, the final piece of the puzzle could be as simple as a flaw the size of a pinhead.

            It was her attention to detail from her summer work on MSU’s archeological digs at Fort Michilimackinac that got her the internship at the Jeffersonian Medico-Legal Lab.  Over the last three years, she worked to combine her love of creativity in science with her mentor’s steady guidance in appreciating the minutiae of their shared discipline.  The forensic anthropologist knew she had earned the respect of Doctor B and the other scientists and planned to continue earning that respect.

            Only to herself would she admit that right now though, her focus was not just for Doctor B.  Right now she felt like a tornado was tearing a path through her emotions.  Whenever this happened, she had two choices; either cry like a baby or cope with her emotional instability through work.

            She couldn’t understand what was going on inside her.  It has been three days since she and Aubrey agreed that marriage wasn’t on the radar.  Their reasons were sound and logical.

            Aubrey confided in her about his family growing up.  To outsiders and friends, Philip and Rachael Aubrey had the perfect life with their son James.  Behind the smiles hid a life where his father had multiple affairs and disrespect his wife’s efforts to make a home.  His charm that got people to give him their money to invest also extended to where life was wonderful when he got his way.  When his wife or son failed to deliver on his demands, they suffered through the elder Aubrey’s condescension and conditional love.

            What boggled her was when Aubrey told her of his mother’s never ending devotion to her husband, even after abandoning them with all their money.   Rachael Aubrey initially refused to file for divorce, stating that Philip would eventually come home to her and their son.  When confronted with the fact that being a single, divorced parent would get her only son more funds to cover his education at Syracuse, she did it with a heavy heart.

            Then there was her parents.  Growing up, their house was always on eggshells depending on her mother’s mood.  It wasn’t until she was eight that her mother was diagnosed with Bipolar II Disorder.  When her mother was on her meds, her narcissistic moments of resentment and annoyance at her life became less, taken over by moments she was almost like the other mothers at the cooperative.  

            Of course, those moments would become part of the past each time her mother became noncompliant from the side effects.  In turn, life would plunge into chaos as the woman would swing from hypomania to deep depression.  More than once, she recalled her mother going away for inpatient treatment to get her back on her meds.  Her and her brothers desperately tried to be good and helpful so she would stay on her regimen.  However, nothing they did was enough because as she overheard one night when she was twelve, she didn’t like ‘not being able to fuck or have fun.’ 

             More than once, her parents would play nice before retreating upstairs or into the den.  It was then she and/or her brothers would hear the recurrent argument about how Charles Warren was a liar who held her back from her dreams in life, starting when he proposed soon after her parents’ deaths.

            Eleanor Gordon Warren always wanted to be a high powered attorney, but Michael came less than a year after they got married.  In a ten year span came Stephan, Aaron, Jack, and then Jason.  Her father did what he could to support her as she started law school part time.  However, her mother had difficulties as she had passed three classes by the skin of her teeth and had to repeat two of them, delaying her completion. 

            She learned when she was 21 that her mother would have graduated a year earlier, but became pregnant with her.  That and her mother having to get off her meds due to her pregnancy led to her dropping out for the final time.  She returned the following fall when her only daughter could go to daycare and when her new drug regimen helped stabilize her moods enough for her to graduate. 

            After she finally graduated, her father and the family tried to be supportive as she worked at one law firm after another in Maryland.  Later, she took the Virginia Bar Exam but her reputation preceded her and she encountered difficulty in finding employment at one of the large law firms in the state.  Eventually, she was forced to freelance, making far less money than she anticipated.  Never was it due to mismanagement of her mental health or her selfish tendencies but always her husband and her family. 

            Jessica shuddered as she recalled what finally led to her parents' divorce.  By then, it was obvious that Eleanor hated her spouse and life with a passion. 

            She swore she would never fall in love and experience the pain she witnessed over the years.  However, fate snuck up on her in October 2014 when she met a very cute, dorky, and adorable FBI agent.  When they finally starting hanging out together after the Hodsell case, she was amazed to learn they had so much in common, including a love of graphic novels, cheesy science fiction, and retro television.

            But the greatest thing of all?  A mutual love of Star Wars, only the greatest movie series of all time. 

            One day, a nervous Aubrey showed her his life sized statue of Han Solo as he was frozen in carbonite.  He told the story of how he saved his money for a year and used some of his student loan money for the spring 2008 semester to pay for it, earning him the wrath of his mother.  It went with him to Detroit, New York City, and two girlfriends but he wouldn’t part with it.

            More than once, she wonders if that was when he started to have her heart.  As their friendship flourished, she also had thoughts about them being married with a large house and family.  Each time, common sense kicked in just in time to shut those fantasies down.

            But lately, it kept pushing to the surface more.  Unlike her mother, not once did she feel Aubrey wasn’t supportive of her career goals.  On the contrary, he sometimes let her work on her thesis in his office when she wanted a quiet place.  Besides an occasional offer to get her a coffee or snack, he usually quietly did his paperwork at his desk while she toiled away.

            Not once did he complain when she was mostly unavailable at the end of the spring and fall semesters to study for her final exams.  He even helped her study for a couple of the exams.  A couple of the tricks he used from law school actually helped her study better.

            When Jessica got into the anthropology class at the Sorbonne with Doctor B’s recommendation, she worried about Aubrey’s reaction to her being gone for four weeks.  However, he encouraged her to go, giving her reassurances that they could talk every day if she wanted.  When he said goodbye to her at the airport, he gave her a picture of Skinner and him in a Star Wars frame to put by her dorm bed at night.

            More than once, she slept with that picture of her two favorite guys, missing her Superman and his cat so much while she was in Paris.  She missed waking up in Aubrey’s arms or with the orange tabby sleeping by her head.  She even missed Skinner occasionally sneaking inside the shower curtain as she and Aubrey enjoyed one of their fun showers. 

            Jessica smiled as she remembered the night she took dirty photos of herself and loaded them onto a special Dropbox account.  After sending Aubrey the username and password, he called at their predetermined time with his numerous thanks.  When she uploaded a video she made while pleasuring herself pretending she was with him, he replied with a gif file of a person clutching their heart before keeling over and several hearts.

            On a couple of her free weekends she took the train out to Hodgins’ and Angela’s villa just outside Paris to decompress from the class workload.   Their rooftop had a beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower and of the city. 

            More than once, she imagined staying there with Aubrey.  During the day she could visit the Catacombs and he could find all the pastry shops.  Later they could explore the city together before coming back at night and making love on one of the luxurious beds.  Paris was a lovely place for a honeymoon or a tenth anniversary trip.

            Once again, her mind went back to the reasons they had to not get married.  They hadn’t officially been together a year yet.  He was working hard to move up in the FBI while she was in the home stretch in getting her doctorate.  Their schedules were just insane.  As of now, they had usually just the weekends together with one or two nights a week together.  She wasn’t even 30 yet while he was only a few years older.

            Those reasons were solid and valid ones, but why did they seem so hollow now?

            Feeling a single tear fall on her face, Jessica wiped it away.  After changing her gloves, she went back to her examination but had to stop as a wave of emotion came over her.  After about a minute, she took a deep breath and focused her energy back on the decedent on the table.

            A short distance away, Aubrey was working in his office when his office phone rang.  Without looking at the caller ID, he answered.  “Aubrey.”

            His face went from focused to fuming in a heartbeat.  “I don’t care if this for 60 Minutes, CNN, or…TMZ.  I will not do an interview…I have no comment…no comment…no fucking comment!”

            The agent hung up the phone in anger.  He thought when his father was arrested that his nightmare would be over but it wasn’t.  Now other people want a piece of him, too.

            His brooding was interrupted by a knock.  Looking up, he forced a smile on his face.  “Gordon.  Enjoy that tuna melt Jess and I brought you?”

            “I did, Aubrey.  One thing I do miss about Washington when I’m back in England is the Royal Diner.  Thank you for bringing me lunch.”

            Aubrey sat back in his chair.  “You’re welcome, but we did invite you to join us.”

            Gordon came in and sat down.  “Well, maybe I’m old fashioned but I believe a couple should have time alone together.”

            “Well, it’s the least we can do.  You did make us three kick ass dinners already.  Plus I did owe you after what happened this morning…”

            Gordon laughed.  “Skinner is a delightful cat.”

            “I can’t apologize enough for that, Gordon.  I shut my bedroom door last night to keep him in with me, but he can be a bit of a shit sometimes.”

            “He was just curious is all.  I imagine he is used to joining you in the loo when you go in the middle of the night?”

            Aubrey turned red.  “Well…”

            “Don’t worry about it.  All is forgiven.  Now, the reason I’m here is to talk to you but I’m afraid I had accidentally overheard you on the phone.  Is everything all right?”

            Embarrassed, Aubrey couldn’t look the man in the eye.  “I’m sorry you had to hear that.  Four weeks after my father’s arrest, reporters are still hounding me for a comment.  Apparently its great copy to have a son turn his father in twice for securities fraud and larceny.”

            “Yes, I’m afraid the media, while necessary to keep governments on the straight and narrow, can also be a bit intrusive.”

            Aubrey put his pen down.  “I actually had to stay with Booth and Doctor B the first week because those vultures were outside my brownstone.  When Jessica came home early, Doctor B threatened to cancel interviews for her new book on a couple of the network morning shows if they didn’t stay away from my apartment or bothered her.”

            “Ms. Warren must be a great help to you during this troubling time.”

            “Her support has been amazing.” Aubrey said before sipping from the straw of his large cup of Coke. 

            Gordon smiled and took the opportunity given.  “It’s obvious when you two are together that she loves you very much.  It’s nice when a relationship grows out of a solid friendship.  That usually means your life together has a solid foundation that will last through the ups and down of life…and marriage.”

            Aubrey almost spit out his beverage.  “Whoa…slow down the horse, Gordon.  Jessica and I are not…getting married is not….”

            ‘Ahhhh, still a sensitive issue.’  The former psychologist thought before continuing.  “My apologies if I seemed too intrusive, Aubrey.  I can only imagine that with your father’s appearance right now that old feelings have stirred up.”

            “Old feelings?”  The agent said.  “If you’re referring to anger and resentment, oh yeah…all the way.  He’s brought a shit storm into my life and because of it, Jessica’s being dragged into this mess also.  She doesn’t deserve that...”

            Karen Delfs was walking down the hallway leading to Aubrey’s office holding two travel cups of coffee and files in her arm.  When she arrived, she was about to announce herself when she heard him speak.

            “…I don’t want Jess affected by this, Gordon.  I want her away from the reporters and bullshit involving my dad so it doesn’t drive her away from me.”

            When Aubrey finished speaking, the profiler walked away quickly.

            Gordon sat up straight.  “Forgive me for saying this, but you’re not giving Ms. Warren enough credit.  She’s bright, kind, beautiful, and also seems to have a very smart head on her shoulders.”

            “Of course she’s brilliant, Gordon.  Hell, she joined Mensa when she was 17 years old.”  Aubrey said, forgetting the last topic.  “Her IQ is 168 and she can run circles around people twice her age.”

            “But you’re also quite intelligent.”

            “I’m smart enough.”  Aubrey said with embarrassment.  “I’m light years away from Jessica.”

             “I would disagree, young man.  You skipped the third grade and graduated in the top ten percent in your high school class in 2001.  From that, you were accepted to Syracuse University the following fall with dual majors in Criminology and Pre-Law with a minor in Religion.”

            “Yeah, but that education wasn’t fully funded with scholarships and grants.  Between the private loans I’m still paying on and the ones my mother took out…it wasn’t cheap.”  Aubrey responded.  “Luckily the FBI paid $10,000 of my loans every year until 2015, saving me a lot of money.”

            Gordon continued his thoughts.  “You graduated Magna Cum Laude in 2005 with a bachelor’s degree in Criminology.  That fall, you continued your education when you started attending Syracuse’s esteemed law school.”

            “I dreamed of being an FBI agent since I was 14 years old, Gordon.  Graduating with my JD, while not required, would put me on the fast track towards Quantico.”

            “Indeed considering while you toiled endlessly your final year of law school, you were also completing your Phase I and II interviews and testing for the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  It is impressive that you graduated Summa Cum Laude in 2008 and entered the FBI Academy four months later after passing the New York Bar Exam.”

            “Well, you did your homework.”  Aubrey said before clearing his throat, uncomfortable at the praise. 

            “Young man, you should be proud of your accomplishments.  I’m sure your mother was also.”

            Aubrey inhaled and exhaled.  “Y-yeah she was.”

            Gordon treaded carefully.  “I’m sure her loss a year after you started at the FBI was a devastating blow.”

            “It was.”  The agent said while looking away.  “My mother’s family disowned her when she married my father.  They came to the funeral, but all I heard about was how her life was a failure because of my father.  One even remarked that she had shamed their family.  Not much of a loss when they returned under the rocks they crawled out from.”

            “It was cancer, correct?”

            Aubrey nodded.  “Pancreatic.  Almost asymptomatic until it hit Stage 4.  Too far along to do a Whipple procedure.  I was at my first field office in Detroit and I used FMLA to go home and take care of things...including hospice care.”

            “That’s an admirable thing to do for one’s parent Aubrey.  You and your mother shared an incredible bond.  I can imagine she bragged about you as often as she could.”

            “She did unnecessarily.”  Aubrey said.  “Gordon, I do appreciate your admiration, but Jessica is the one you need to admire.  She could have any guy she wants…”

            “Well, if her intelligence is that great and she’s professed her love for you, I would imagine that she doesn’t plan on going anywhere any time soon.”

            The agent looked away.  “I hope not.  I will never love anyone the way I love her, Gordon.  Jess is it for me.”

            “Based on my observations, I think I can safely say that she feels the same for you.”  The chef said.  “You’re lucky to have each other.”

            “Thanks.”  Aubrey said shyly.

             “Now, for my original purpose in coming in here.  I’ve read through the two confirmed cases on Mister Kovacs.”

            “And?”  Aubrey asked before listening as the former profiler gave his opinion on the case.  What the special agent heard was not what he was expecting.  “Seriously?”

            “Yes…follow that and you will defeat this threat to Agent Booth.”  Gordon said before getting up.  “Now, I will take my leave so I can go over my notes for my visit with young Doctor Addy tomorrow.”

            Aubrey finished drinking from the straw of his pop.  “Do you think Zack has a chance of being released?”

            “There’s always a chance but I need to speak to the young man before making any conclusions.”  Gordon said.  “Now, are you sure you don’t need a meal tonight?”

            “Nah,” Aubrey said.  “Jessica’s and I are going to the Jeffersonian for Cam and Arastoo’s bridal shower and bachelor party.  I’m just going to crash with her tonight.”

            “Seems unusual to have them on a Wednesday.”

            “Well, they were originally scheduled the weekend of Max’s funeral and Arastoo’s brother had issues with his visa to enter the US.  Between those two things and Booth and I having to go to Canada for a case things were rescheduled.”

            “Well enjoy yourself but behave.”

            “It will be tame.  No strippers…only booze and fun.”  Aubrey said.  “Do you have any plans tonight, Gordon?”

             The older man smiled.  “I plan to visit an old friend tonight.”

            Aubrey smirked.  “Is this the same ‘old friend’ that had you singing James Blunt on Sunday?”

            Gordon smiled back before walking out of the office.  “Perhaps young man, but that’s for me to know.  Enjoy your evening.”

            “You too, Gordon.”  Aubrey said before the phone started to ring.  Picking it up, he answered.  “Aubrey…look, I told you guys no comm…H-he what?”

            The agent leaned back into his chair, the wind knocked out of him.   He rubbed his temples in an effort to control his temper.  “You guys really did that?  Are you so hard up for ratings that you would actually book a television interview with my father?”

            Aubrey scowled as he listened on the phone.  “Most definitely no comment…no I don’t want to be interviewed with him…if you people call me again, I will file for a restraining order…yeah you have the First Amendment but there’s also a little thing called harassment.”

            The agent listened before laughing sarcastically.  “There’s not a price you can offer that will make me change my mind.  No, no you don’t need me because my father will have enough bullshit to feed you and your viewers…I’m hanging up now.  Do not call again.”

            The agent slammed the phone down.  “Son of a bitch.”    

Chapter Text

                Four hours later, Cam was sitting on a couch in a large conference room while Michelle was next to her making a list.  Nearby Brennan and Angela sat with Jessica and Daisy.  On the other side sat Felicia, Azita Vaziri, Andie, Perotta, Shaw, and Karen.

                “Whose gift are we opening next?”  Michelle said.

                “Mine, please.”  Brennan said as she handed the bag to Cam.  “Don’t shake it.”

                Everyone giggled.  Cam reached inside and got the card first.  Opening it, she read it before being brought to tears.  She looked at the forensic anthropologist who gave a look of understanding.

                “Mom, what does it say?  Let me see.”  Michelle said as she tried to grab the card, but Cam was too fast for her.

                “No.  For me alone.”  The pathologist said before sitting on the card.

                “You can’t sit on the card forever, Mom.”  Michelle said.

                “You can’t go to graduate school, forever either, Michelle.”  Cam replied to everyone’s laughter before pulling out a lavender baby doll nightie and what looked like a bunch of beads strung together.  “Okay…”

                “The first is to entice Doctor Vaziri on your wedding night.”  Brennan said to everyone’s snickers.  “The second is a set of African Fertility River Stones as good luck for you two during the adoption process.”

                Cam inhaled for a moment and looked to the others.  “For those who don’t know, Arastoo and I have consulted with an agency that specializes in adoptions of refugee children.”

                “That’s so beautiful.”  Jessica said.  “You and Arastoo will kick ass Doctor Saroyan.”

                “Thank you, Jessica.”  Cam said. 

                “So no little Cams for you, huh Doctor Saroyan?”  Karen said as she drank her wine.

                The room was silent for a moment before the pathologist inhaled while taking Michelle’s hand.   “No, Doctor Delfs.  I don’t need little Cams because I have this beautiful person who I’m lucky enough to have as a daughter.”

                She then turned to the profiler.  “Also, biological or adopted, any children are ours.  Recently, the process has become more difficult, but Arastoo and I feel there are too many children in this world who needed a good home.  We can provide that with a wonderful older sister, two grandfathers,”

                Cam looked to her future mother-in-law, “and a wonderful grandmother.”

                Angela held in a snicker at the silenced profiler before whispering in Jessica’s ear.  “Cam has more class than I do.  I would have ripped all that fake red hair out of Karen’s head.”

                Before the redhead could respond, Brennan asked a question.  “Ms. Delfs, since you’re so interested in how fecund Cam is, when should we expect to hear news of children from you?”

                All the other women in the room were trying to keep themselves from bursting out into laughter as Karen’s face turned red.  "Well...I..."

                “And then we have Brennan.”  The artist muttered with a smile.  “No one can put an idiotic clod down quite like she can.”

                Jessica finally cracked up.  “Angela…”

                “She is, Jessica.  Karen is only here because she made mega hints to Cam since she’s worked what….four cases with us?  She’s going to be at the wedding, too so make sure to catch the bouquet.”

                The redhead froze at that comment as conflicting emotions started to bubble up in her.  She looked over to her mentor who looked unsure if she went too far before Angela held up her thumb quietly.  Her momentarily break from conflict returned when she heard everyone ooh and ahh over Daisy’s gift to the bride, a custom made photo album for their wedding photos. 

                She looked around the room at the multi colored streamers on the wall.  To her right was the food table with snacks and the cake.  On an easel was a board with pictures of Arastoo and Cam.  The table next to Michelle had the remnants of the games they played earlier next to several bottles of wine with a biohazard cooler with beer nearby.

                She needed air and she needed it now.

                “Excuse me.  Beer’s going through me.”  Jessica said before getting up.

                The redhead stepped out and headed into the bathroom.  Standing there in the quiet, she felt a tear fall as she came to a realization.

                She wanted to get married…to Aubrey, but she was terrified.

                Anger began to filter in.  'What kind of person was too scared to legalize their relationship with the only man she’s ever truly loved?'  She was 28 years old and it was ridiculous. 

                Putting her head in her hands, she breathed to control her emotions.


                Only Angela and Brennan saw the look of panic on Jessica’s face as she walked out quickly.  They looked at each other for a moment before the artist spoke up.  “You should check on her Brennan.”

                “I’m not sure about that, Angela.  You’re better with the emotions…”

                “How about we both go?”

                The anthropologist nodded.  “Yes.  I think that’s best.”

                Daisy saw the older women sit up.  “Is everything all right?”

                “It’s all good, Daisy.”

                “Angela is going with me to the bathroom.  Girls don’t go alone.”  Brennan said awkwardly.

                The younger anthropologist nodded.  “Of course, Doctor Brennan.  If Angela isn’t around and you need to use the bathroom, I can go with you.”

                “Thanks, Daisy.  We’ll keep that in mind.”  Angela said.

                The women walked out of the room and down the hall.  When they were out of listening distance, Angela chuckled.  “Bren…nice job on putting Karen Delfs in her place.”

                “I didn’t do much.  While I am still a bit rusty on polite conversation, even I know that what she said to Cam’s plans to adopt were insulting.  Michelle and any children Cam and Doctor Vaziri adopt are just as much their children as Michael Vincent is yours and Hodgins…or that Christine, Hank, and Parker are mine and Booth’s.”

                “Brennan, you do just fine.  People who know you know how you are.”  Angela said.

                Stopping at the restroom door, Angela pushed it open.  As they entered, they saw Jessica hold her head up with unmistakable red eyes.   “Ms. Warren, are you all right?” Brennan asked.

                “Yes, Doctor B.  Just really had to pee is all.”  Jessica said quickly before turning to the sink and washing her hands.

                Brennan saw the stiff body language.  “Are you sure?  You seemed to leave really fast.  We were concerned that you were upset.”

                The redhead smiled.  “No, but thanks anyway, Doctor B.”

                Angela let the change of subject go for a moment.  “So did Cam make out like a bandit or what?”

                “She did get some very nice gifts.”  Brennan said as she checked her hair.  “I knew his family was wealthy, but to gift them with a trip to Cape Cod as a wedding present was very generous.”

                “I know.  My in laws were dead by the time Hodgins and I eloped.  However, their money helped us live quite well in Paris for seven months.”

                “I would say so Angela.  You came back pregnant with Michael Vincent.”

                “Paris as an aphrodisiac and baby maker?  Have to remember that.”  Jessica said with a small chuckle.

                “Interesting, Jessica.”  Angela said as she got her lipstick out of her purse.  “Do you see little Aubreys in your future?”

                The redhead’s pale skin turned white.  “Uh….oh, you never know…”

                Brennan saw the young woman’s face.  “Have we said something wrong, Ms. Warren?”

                “Of course not.”

                “Did you think we would ever be attending Cam’s bridal shower, Bren?”  Angela said, trying to gauge Jessica.  “Remember how opposed she was to everyone finding out about her and Arastoo?  Then always shutting down when people asked her about getting married?”

                “I know she seemed reluctant to get married, but I figured that she wasn’t ready.”  The redhead asked.  “She helped me though when Aubrey and I got together.”

                “She wasn’t ready but,”  Brennan said.  “She was also once engaged and her fiancé, Michelle’s father, had numerous affairs.”

                “What a pig.”  Jessica replied.

                “Well, it wasn’t so simple.  I guess her fiancé was devastated with his wife, Michelle’s mother died and he was so afraid of that loss.  He loved Cam, but it crippled their relationship and she had to walk away to save herself.”  Angela said.

                “Cam had other relationships…including her sexual one with Booth.”  Brennan said.

                “What?  No way.”  The redhead said.  It was obvious that Agent Booth was devoted to her mentor.

                “Yes way.”  Brennan said.  “Oh and Michelle’s gynecologist.”

                “Paul…”  Angela said.  “Nice guy but…ewwwww.”

                “Yes.  Oh there was your ex-husband she slept with.”

                “You had an ex-husband?”  Jessica said, fascinated.

                “Well, it involved Fiji, fire, and jumping.  Long story.”  Angela replied.  Pushing forward, she hoped Brennan caught on to what she was doing.  “Remember Bren when Hodgins kept asking me out on a date?  I was so scared because he was…different than the other guys I went out with.”

                “Y-you were?”  Jessica said.  Angela never seemed afraid of anything.  She and Curly were always so affectionate.

                “I remember.  Then he asked you to marry him twice.  Wasn’t it the glowing shellfish that got you to say yes?”  Brennan said, realizing what Angela was doing.

                “It did.  The other proposals just didn’t feel right.”  Angela said before turning to her best friend.  “You scoffed when Booth said you would ask him to marry you.”

                “At the time, it was a foolish thought…”

                “Then you asked him over beef jerky.”

                Jessica looked surprised.  “You asked Booth to marry you?  He’s such a romantic that I thought he asked you.”

                Brennan turned to the young woman.  “He wanted to, but he knew I was opposed to marriage.  He was unable to attend confession in his church while we lived together and it hurt him.  However, he loved me enough to wait until I was ready.”

                The redhead hesitated until she got her courage up.  “What if you were never ready?”

                “He would have waited for her, Jessica.”  Angela said.  “Just as Hodgins would have waited for me.  We both should have married much sooner than we did.”

                “But we were scared.”  Brennan said.

                “Or just stupid.” Angela replied.

                “You were not stupid, Ang---“

                “I was Brennan.  Instead of listening to each other, really listening, Hodgins and I broke up over stupid shit because we were afraid to talk to each other.  We didn’t figure it out until over two years later while we were in a jail cell!”

                “I was the stupid one.  I was so afraid to make that commitment to Booth because of my fears of failure and abandonment.  It was so silly.”

                “You were afraid to marry Booth?  I thought you were opposed to marriage.”  Jessica asked, fascinated by what she learned about the two women in a span of five minutes.

                Brennan crossed her arms.  “I was opposed…because I was scared.  It wasn’t until I was confronted with possibly losing him from Christopher Pelant’s madness that I realized how much I loved him and wanted to be with him…to marry him Jessica.”

                “Wow.”  The redhead said, currently at a loss for words.  “That’s…wow.”

                Angela smiled at the young woman.  “Jessica, if we’re not snooping, we’re curious about something.”

                “Sure.”  Jessica said.

                “You went out with Sweets a few times.”  Angela said.  “Then unless you were keeping it secret, there was no other guy in your life…”

                “Until Aubrey.”  Brennan said.  “He’s very much in love with you, Ms. Warren.  Do you see yourself and Aubrey getting married someday?”

                Angela closed her eyes.  ‘Should’ve known Bren wouldn’t beat around the bush.’

                As for Jessica, she felt her heart race.  ‘Good grief…why is everyone up my ass about marriage all of a sudden?’ 

                “Have we made you uncomfortable Ms. Warren?”

                Snapping out of it, Jessica looked to her mentor.  “N-no, I’m sorry.  Um, wedding at this time.  Between the busy schedules, dad in prison, you know…too much shit going on.  We should probably get back.  I saw chocolate cake and I wanted to get Aubrey some.  He loves cake.”

                Even the anthropologist could see the young woman was avoiding the subject.  “Of course.”

                “Yeah, Karen will probably eat it all if she got her foot out of her mouth.”  Angela said.

                Jessica snickered, forgetting her discomfort.  “Angela, that’s so mean.  She’s his work colleague and friend.”

                “Jessica, she’s Aubrey’s work colleague and acquaintance.  She wants him as more than a friend.”

                “Well, I’m not worried.  I trust Superman.”

                Angela rubbed Jessica’s shoulder before opening the door.  “So do we.  You got the pick of the litter with Aubrey and you two are perfect for each other.”

                As the three women came out, they were bombarded by two men.  “Excuse me, are you Jessica Warren?”

                “Why?  Are you a process server?”  Angela asked.  “This is a restricted area you know…employees only.”

                “It’s okay, Angela.”  The redhead said before answering.  “Yes, can I help you?” 

                “I’m Chad Hill.  I’m a researcher for Investigation Discovery.  We are here to request a sit down with you as part of the interview we are doing with Philip Aubrey next week.”


                “Yes, his son has turned down our requests and our sources say you’re involved with him.  Is that correct?”

                The redhead took a deep breath as a ball of fire built up in her.  “What’s correct is if you don’t get your bottom feeding asses out of my face I’ll rip your balls off and shove them up your nose.  Also, if I find out you bother my boyfriend again my high heel will be up your asses, too.”

                “But—“  The person said before being interrupted by Brennan.

                “As Ms. Montenegro here said, this area is restricted to employees only and it’s a federal institution.”  Brennan said.  “I would do as the young woman says because if you don’t leave, you will be maimed and charged with trespassing on federal property.”

                The two men scurried away.  Jessica turned to her mentors and held up her fists.  Brennan met it with hers.  “I know this.”

                “Thanks Doctor B.  Thanks Angela.” Jessica said before the three did a fist bump.

                “You’re welcome, Ms. Warren.”  Brennan said before Angela did the same.  “Let’s go.”

                The guys were sitting around the conference room watching Super Troopers on the large screen.  In one corner were two scantily clad blow up dolls.  In another part was a makeshift bar with different liquors and three large coolers labeled BIOHAZARD that contained beer and non-alcoholic drinks for Arastoo, Hamid, and his father Hrmin.

                “So Arastoo…where are you and Doctor Saroyan going for your wedding night?”  Wendell asked before taking a drink of his beer.

                “A place I’m never telling you Dude.”  Arastoo replied to much laughter. 

                “Why not?”  Aubrey asked while shoving popcorn in his mouth.  “We’re your friends.”

                “Yeah, you’re friends who would either pelt me with condoms full of Reddi-Wip as we were leaving or have a blow up doll in the room.”

                Everyone laughed, including Hamid and Hrmin.  “You have some interesting friends, Son.” 

                “Sorry, Dad.”  Arastoo said.

                “No need.  You should have seen what your uncle Hamid did to your mother and I on our wedding night.”

                The guys laughed their heads off before Aubrey got up to get another beer.  “Anyone want a beer?”

                “I’ll take one.”  Booth said.

                “Me too, Dude.”  Hodgins said.

                Aubrey grabbed three and handed them out.  As he sat down, the scene of Farva trying to fill up his car with 10 gallons of gas for a free hot dog came on the large screen.

                “Hey, that could be Aubrey.”  Hodgins said to everyone’s laughs.

                The younger agent turned to the scientist.  “Ha ha.  No hot dog is worth the wrath of Jessica if she ever found out I did that at the pumps.  At least I don’t have to chug those nasty smoothies anymore.”

                “Yeah well they’re still banned from my SUV, Aubrey.  I don’t need the smell of toxic camel butt around me.”

                Aubrey turned to his partner.  “Did someone get up close and personal with the camels while in the military?”

                Booth turned to Aubrey.  “I know someone who will get up close and personal with my foot.”

                The younger agent knew Booth wasn’t going to do anything.  “Yeah, yeah.”

                “Shut up guys.  This is one of my favorite parts.”  Wendell said before taking another swig of his beer as the characters discovered the doll in Farva's trunk.

                Aubrey scrunched his face.  “Man…that is so wrong…” 

                “Is it me…or does Farva remind any of you of Oliver Wells?”  Clark said.

                The guys laughed their asses off as they watched.  Hrmin turned to his son.  “Which one is Oliver Wells again?”

                Arastoo turned to his father.  “He’s the dayoos (Asshole) you met at the diner yesterday.”

                “Ah yes.  The one that thought he could speak our language fluently.”  Hrmin said.  “Baad-e damaagh kos maghz (Arrogant idiot).

                 As the Vaziris shared a laugh, Wendell made a comment.  “Damn, Ursula look a lot like Agent Perotta.”

                “Yeah…she does.”  Hodgins said.

                “They could be twins.”  Booth said as he drank his beer.

                “So Arastoo, where do you get to sleep Thursday night?  I hear that it’s tradition.”  Aubrey said before shoving more popcorn in his mouth.

                “Hamid and I are staying at Wendell’s.  Fisher is out of town interviewing for another job.”

                “A PhD in forensic anthropology and his main item on the resume besides working for Bones is being POTUS 44’s tutor for his daughter.”  Booth said.  “He’ll go far.”

                “I want to be with my future wife.  It sucks.  I’ll miss her.”

                “AWWWWWW.”  The guys in the room moaned.

                “Shut up!”  Arastoo said jokingly. 

                “That…is so adorable, Arastoo.”  Aubrey said.

                “I know.  Isn’t it?”  Clark said.

                “Oh you single guys are so macho.”  Hodgins retorted before turning to Aubrey.  “Angela said that you and Jessica either Skype’d or called each other every day either at like 5 AM or one or two in the morning while she was in Paris.”

                “She was probably in shock to see food around.”  Booth said before dodging popcorn from Aubrey.  “Hey, I’m still your boss!”

                “Whatever, Booth.”  Aubrey said.  “Remember when we had to go to North Carolina for the Anderson case?  Every night, you were on the phone with your wife.  You either giggled or it was like, ‘I love you Bones.  I miss you Bones.’”

                “Okay, Aubrey shall we discuss when we were in Newfoundland while Jessica was still in Paris?  In particular the night when I came into the room and you slammed your laptop shut like I caught your hand in the cookie jar.” Booth said with a smile.  “Or when your phone would have a text and you giggled like a little girl?  Although there was one time your eyes almost bugged out of your head before you quickly put your phone in your pocket.”

                “Dude, did Jessica send you naked pictures?”  Clark asked.  When he saw Aubrey’s ears turned red his eyes got large.  “Holy shit!”

                Arastoo decided to give a bit of pity to the agent.  “Leave him alone, man.  I remember a little striptease someone had to do for his girlfriend one Valentine’s Day…”

                Clark took some popcorn and tossed it at his friend.  “Bite me!”  Suddenly he remembered Arastoo’s dad.  “Sorry, Mr. Vaziri.”

                “Quite all right.”  Hrmin said.  “I’m finding this party most fun.”

                “My brother has such good friends here.”  Hamid replied.

                 “Guys, we need to find out where Arastoo is taking Doctor Saroyan for their wedding night.”  Wendell said.

                “No way.  No f-ing way.”  Arastoo said as he drank his Coke.

                “If you two have a night like Booth and Doctor B had, it will be memorable.”  Hodgins laughed as he looked at the senior agent.  “Remember when we met up for breakfast at the diner the morning after?  She bragged that you two slept only three hours because ‘Booth was giving me multiple orgasms like a good husband does.’”

                “Hey Bug Boy…at least we had a wedding night somewhere nice.  You got married in a jail cell before hitting some hole in the wall.”

                “We waited almost three years to have a wedding night.”  Hodgins said.  “At least we got married before having Michael Vincent.  You and Doctor B were like friends, Christine, living together, marriage.”

                “Nobody does things like Booth and Doctor B.”  Aubrey said, fascinated by the history he was hearing of his partner and his other friends.

                 “Hank was conceived after we got married, so I got one for three.  Bones was worth the wait.” 

                “You married guys…” Wendell said with a smile.

                “Okay, smart ass.”  Hodgins said.  “You dated a few girls, including my wife until Andie.  When are you two going to make it official?  It’s been over two years.”

                “You dated Angela?”  Aubrey said.  “No shit!”

                “I-I…I had cancer man…”

                “No way.”  Booth said.  “None of that cancer boy shit.  She’s it for you because you were shitting bricks when you broke her family heirloom clock.”

                “I was a cancer boy, too Wendell and I married my nurse two months ago.”  Hamid said.

                “It’s not just that.  I’m in the final year of my doctorate and she’s just started her job as an NP in the oncology practice at St. Francis.  Then she’s starting work on her DNP next fall…”

                “Blah, blah, blah.”  Aubrey said.

                Wendell turned to the younger FBI agent.  “So Aubrey, after the wedding it will also be you and Jessica who are holdouts.” 

                The lanky man froze.  That was not something he needed to hear right now.  “H-holdout?”

                “Yeah.”  Clark said.  “When are you and Jessica going to make it official?”


                “Seriously, Aubrey.”  Wendell said before taking another drink.  “Jessica had a couple of dates with Sweets, but you’re the only guy I’ve ever seen her be serious with.  Must be love.”

                “We’ve got a lot going on right now, Wendell.  Besides, we’ve only been a couple since May—“

                “No, you two were a couple way earlier than that, Aubrey.  It was obvious to everyone but you two.”  Clark said.  

                Suddenly the topic of discussion was making Aubrey uncomfortable.  “Need to make room for more beer.  Be right back.”

                The lanky man walked out of the room and down the hall into the restroom.  Standing in the silent room, he leaned back against the wall and contemplated.  He and Jessica agreed that they didn’t need to get married.  So why was it now always on his mind?

                They loved each other and knew there would be no one else for them.  Obviously, Cam and Arastoo’s wedding has it on everyone else’s mind.  However, he and Jessica had too many reasons not to do it. 

                “Hey, you all right?”

                Aubrey was startled to see Booth.  “Y-yeah, I’m fine.”

                “You didn’t look fine.  What’s wrong?”

                “It’s nothing.” Aubrey rubbed his face.  “Just a lot of shit.”

                “Was it the marriage questions?  I can tell everyone to shut their pie holes.”

                The younger agent chuckled. “I’m good, Booth.”

                Booth leaned back against the sink.  “Just between us…what’s the hold up?  You’re crazy about her.”

                “Yeah, but she’s in the home stretch of her doctorate, there’s the shit with my dad…”

                “Cut the crap, Aubrey.”  Booth said.  “It’s me you’re talking to and I’m married to Bones.  I know all about excuses.  What’s the real reason?”

                Aubrey considered his thoughts for a minute.  “Jessica and I love each other Booth.  That’s enough for now.”

                Booth took a chance.  “Is your father holding you back?”


                Before Aubrey could answer, Clark and Wendell busted into the men’s room.  “Come on guys.  We’re going to crash the girls’ party.” 

                “Be there in a minute.”  Booth said.  When the guys left he turned back to Aubrey.  “It’s what Aubrey?”

                Wanting out of the conversation, the younger agent smiled.  “It’s nothing, Booth.  Come on, the guys are waiting for us.”

                The senior agent watched his friend walk out with a look of concern on his face.  He knew though that Aubrey would reveal what was on his mind when he was ready.  Putting on a smile of his own, he opened the door to join his friends.


Chapter Text

           As Booth walked down the wing of conference rooms with the guys, his thoughts went to Bones.

            Usually, it was insane to not make love to your beautiful wife when the two of you had the house to yourselves.  Being as loud as you want is a rare luxury in a household with two children.  He didn’t know how it was possible, he desired his wife more now than when they were younger.

            He thought about the mornings he would catch his wife on the scale in their en-suite bathroom as she looked down, sighed, and got off.  She didn’t think he knew about her disappointment with her body, but he did.  He knew that since Hank was born she was self-conscious of the sixteen pounds she claimed she had been unable to lose.    

            He knew her body was different than before she gave birth to their second child.  However he didn’t give a damn.  She was still beautiful with her ample breasts, generous curves, and innate knowledge of just where to touch him to make his blood sizzle.  He always wanted his hands on her and most men would take the opportunities given.

            However, most men are not responsible for killing their father-in-law.  To touch and lose himself in her would not be only disrespectful to the memory of Max, but also his wife. 

            As the guys turned the corner, they heard music, stomping, and the women singing.  When they made their way around, they found the other party.  To their amusement and enjoyment, Caroline, Angela, Brennan, and the other ladies were dancing like Jessica, Michelle, and Andie while singing along with Gwen Stefani’s Hollaback Girl.

            A few times I've been around that track
            So it's not just gonna happen like that
            'Cause I ain't no hollaback girl
            I ain't no hollaback girl 

            Booth couldn’t take her eyes off his wife.  She was awkward and a half step behind, but she was relaxed and having a good time.  It was so good to see her forgetting her lingering grief, even for a few minutes.  She was so adorable at that moment that he thought his heart was going to explode.

            His thoughts were broken when he heard Aubrey speak up in between the laughing.  “I know the perfect song to greet the girls with.”

            When the junior agent pulled up his Amazon Prime and showed his selection, he got the approval of everyone before turning to Arastoo’s father.  “Mr. Vaziri are you cool with this?”

            “Yes, Agent Aubrey.  My wife and I loved that movie when we saw it.   She sings it when she cooks our dinner.”

            “The song is almost over.  Ready to crash a bridal shower, guys?” Wendell asked.  When he got all affirmatives, the anthropologist smiled.  "Awesome."

            When Hollaback Girl ended, Aubrey queued the song and put his phone in his back pocket before they came in.  As the girls heard the music and turned, they booed their interruption.  “Booo…crashing our party!” Angela said.

            Hodgins wheeled his way up and started to sing with the music.  “I got this feeling…inside my bones…it goes electric, wavey when I turn it on.”

            “Oh Lord tell me they’re not doing what I think they’re doing…”  Caroline said.

            “Well, Ms. Julian, it seems they are going to—“

            “I know what they’re doing, Doctor Delfs.”  Caroline said before turning to the profiler with a pointed face.  “And a certain someone is not going to be doing that with you.  Someone else has his eye and you need to remember that.”

            Karen stiffened under the gaze of the US Attorney.  A couple of feet away, Jessica clamped her hand to her mouth to hold in her laughter as Cam hid her face from an approaching Arastoo.  Andie and the other women were in various states ranging from shock to hooting and hollering as the men serenaded the ladies. 

            And under the lights when everything goes
            Nowhere to hide when I'm getting you close
            When we move, well, you already know
            So just imagine, just imagine, just imagine

            As the chorus started, Hodgins wheeled towards a cackling Angela before she squealed as he pulled her into his lap.  Jessica and Andie laughed as Aubrey and Wendell did a jig before grabbing both of them and started singing to them while dancing.

            Nothing I can see but you when you dance, dance, dance
            A feeling good, good, creeping up on you
            So just dance, dance, dance, come on
            All those things I shouldn't do
            But you dance, dance, dance

            As the other guys moved up to their ladies, Booth grasped Brennan.  They started to move together before Brennan evolved to her weird dancing.  However, the agent just smiled as they sang along with everyone else, knowing the song from when they took Hank and Christine to see Trolls earlier that year.

            When the song was over, there was some clapping when Arastoo turned to Cam.  “So are we forgiven for crashing your party?”

            “I forgive you.  Never knew you could move like that, Arastoo.”  Michelle said.

            “Well, if my daughter says it’s all right, I guess so.”  Cam said before the two kissed, stopping when choruses of “Awwwww…” corralled the room.

            A couple of yards away, Brennan turned to her husband.  “Very impressive, Booth.  Your dancing has improved with me.  I must be a great partner.”

            Booth smiled before kissing his wife.  “The best Bones.”

            Behind them, Jessica turned to Aubrey with a grin.  “Smooth moves, Superman.”

            “Wait until I show you the moves I have planned for later.”  Aubrey retorted before getting smacked playfully by his girlfriend.  “Ow…”  Turning to the group, he asked an important question.  “Can we have cake now?  I’m hungry.”

            “It’s up to you, Cam, but I vote for sharing with them.”  Angela said while still sitting in Hodgins’ lap.  “They did dance for us and all.”

            “I don’t know….” The pathologist said.

            “Camille Saroyan, my boys put on a mean dance.”  Caroline said as she smiled at Booth and Aubrey.  “Let them have some cake.”

            The pathologist pondered before grinning.  “I guess we can share.”

            “Yes!”  Aubrey fist pumped.

            Everyone started heading towards the cake table.  As Booth went to take Brennan’s hand, he was surprised to feel her hand on his butt.  “Whoa, Bones.”

            “What?  I enjoy the shaping of your impressive gluteus maximus, Booth.  I plan to also enjoy it later tonight after the children are asleep.”

            A sliver of panic went through him.  “Sure Bones.”

            The anthropologist noted hesitation in Booth’s voice.  “Booth, are you all right?”

            “Of course, Bones.”  The agent said before touching his back.  “I just have some back pain.  Nothing major.  Come on, let’s get some cake before Aubrey eats it all.”

            Brennan let herself be pulled with her husband, but the feeling something was wrong remained. 

            Jessica and Aubrey sat with Angela and Hodgins with their cake and food.  As the guys were brainstorming the newest version of Aerial Attack, the girls observed and talked.

            “Guess Karen the party pooper didn't want to stick around.”  Angela said.  

            “Be nice, Angela.”  Jessica said as she stole a carrot from Aubrey’s plate.  “She may have an early morning tomorrow."

            “Yeah, but so do we.  Caroline got here late because of court and she’s still here although she has to go back in the morning.”  Angela said before drinking some wine.  "She was probably pissed Aubrey was ignoring her."

            Hodgins turned to his wife.  “Angie, really?”

            “Uh, yeah Hodgins.  She wants Aubrey…bad.  Although, I saw Caroline give her the stink eye before saying something to her.  Not sure what, but it was must have been good.”

            “Angela, I think Karen Delfs has more important things to do that to chase me.  Even if she is, I’m not available.”  Aubrey said as he stole food from his girlfriend’s plate.  “Damn Jess, this cheese is the shit.  We have to get some to take home.”

            “Don’t eat it all, Aubrey.”  Jessica said. 

            “Fine, I’ll eat your cake instead.”  Aubrey said.  Hearing snickers, the agent turned to his friend.  “Get your mind out of the gutter, Hodgins.”

            “What?”  The entomologist said with a large smile.

            “Whatever.”  Aubrey said as he stabbed some dessert with a fork.  “In response to Angela’s suggestion, even if I were single Karen’s not my type.  Too weird and pushy.”

            Angela looked up and saw people leaving.  “Honey I’m going to help clean up a bit because we should head out soon.  It’s almost 8:00 and we have to pick up our son soon.”

            Hodgins tapped his lap.  “All right…hop on.”

            “You are insane.”  Angela said.

            “Yeah but you’re going to jump on anyway, aren’t you?”  Hodgins said.  He smiled when she wordlessly sat down.  “See you guys later.”

            The couple smiled at the retreating couple before turning to each other.  “It’s so nice to see Curly and Angela happy again.”  Jessica said.

            “Yeah, it is.  They’ve overcome some major stuff, you know.”  Aubrey said.  He was quiet for a moment before speaking up.  “Jess, you know that you have nothing to worry about with Karen, right?  Or any other woman?”

            The redhead merely pulled her boyfriend closer and gave him a kiss.  “I know that Aubrey and I trust you.  Besides, I think we have other people to worry about though.”

            “What do you mean?”  Aubrey asked as he took a swig of his beer.

            “Them.”  Jessica said before pointing to Booth and Brennan.  “Is it me or do they just seem…off?”

            They looked at the couple who to the naked eye were affectionate as they ate their cake and laughed together.  However, Booth’s stiffness, although subtle, was apparent.

            “I see what you mean, Jess.”

            “So…I had an interesting conversation with Aubrey.”  Booth said while eating his cake.

            “What about?”  Brennan replied before taking a drink of her beer.

            The agent thought about his words.  “Earlier, the married and single guys were giving each other shit, you know.”

            “Giving each other feces…why would you…”  Brennan stopped as she realized what he was saying.  “Too literal?”

            “Yeah, but that’s okay Bones.  We were joking around with each other when Wendell pressed Aubrey about when he and Jessica were getting married.”

            Remembering her earlier conversation with her intern, Brennan listened.  “What happened, Booth?”

            “He froze for a second before stammering something about how there’s a lot in their lives right now and how they’ve only been together since May before he made an excuse to go to the bathroom.”

            “Maybe he had to urinate, Booth.”  Brennan said before looking at the couple across the room.  

            “If he had to take a leak, he did it at lightning speed because when I found him in there leaning against the wall in deep thought.  I asked if he was okay and he said yes.  When I pushed him on the marriage thing, he gave me more excuses like that she’s in her final year of her doctorate and all the crap with his dad.”

            Brennan thought for a moment.  “I had a similar conversation with Ms. Warren earlier.  Well, Angela and I did.”

            “Really?”  Booth asked while drinking his beer.

            “After Karen Delfs made a rather insensitive comment about Cam’s plans to adopt, Angela stated to my intern that she needed to catch the bouquet at her wedding.  Her face got very pale before she made an excuse to leave stating that her excess alcohol intake made her have to urinate.”

            “What happened next, Bones?”

            “Angela and I followed her into the restroom, where we found her and her eyes were red and it looked like she was crying.  When we inquired, she just said she had to use the bathroom.  She was obviously lying, Booth but what could we do?”

            Booth ate another bite of cake.  “So what happened?”

            “I followed Angela’s lead and we talked about our relationships with you and Hodgins…”

            “Did she seem okay after that?”

            Brennan took a drink of her beer.  “I may have gone too far.”

            Booth scraped the frosting off the plate and ate it, earning a disgusted face from Brennan.  “Yeah, yeah, yeah the sugar will kill my pancreas.  I know.  Now, what did you say?”

            The anthropologist relaxed her face.  “Well…I may have asked her if she saw herself and Aubrey getting married someday.”   

            Booth looked over at the redhead before turning back to his wife in time to catch her bending over slightly, giving him a nice view of her impressive cleavage.  Feeling stirred, he cleared his throat and pushed his lustful thoughts down.  “She looks okay to me, Bones.  You’re getting really good at all the emotional stuff, you know that?”

            “Thank you, Booth.”  Brennan said as she started to pat his leg, only for recoil back when he moved it.  “Booth, are you all right?” 

            The agent looked up at his wife’s quizzical face.  “Yeah Bones.  Why?”

            Brennan felt sick to her stomach.  “You…shifted your leg.”

            Booth inhaled, trying not to give himself away.  “Yeah, I was trying to get comfortable.”

            The anthropologist inhaled.  “But it was when I touched your leg.  I thought you liked it when I touched your leg.”

            The agent thought about what to say.  His body responded when he saw her breasts and could immediately imagine sucking on them.  If she continued to touch him, he would have dragged his wife into the nearest closet and had his way with her.  He thought quickly to avoid hurting her before deciding to suck it up.  “I do Bones.  I didn’t see your hand coming.  I’m sorry.  Here…go ahead.”

            “No, no it’s okay.”  The scientist said.

            “Go ahead, Bones.”  Booth said, feeling guilty that his wife felt rejection.

            “No, Booth.  Stop, all right.”  Brennan said forcefully but quietly to avoid a scene.  “It’s…not something I want to do now.”

            The couple had an awkward silence as they finished their food. 

            “That’s weird.”  Aubrey said.  “Usually Booth has his arm around Brennan when they sit together.”

            “Or her butt if he thinks no one is looking.”  Jessica noted before seeing something else.  “No way.”

            “What Jess?”

            “Doctor B just put her hand on his leg but he shifted away.  Every time I’ve been around them, Booth…never does that.  From what she describes to us sometimes, he always wants his hands on her.  Remember when he was recovering from being shot after his brother died?  Doctor B said he was horny the day they got home.”

            “Something I did not need to know.”  Aubrey said with a grimace.

            “I recall someone staring at my butt and my legs quite often while he was still recovering from a bombing.”  Jessica said.  “But that’s not the point.  With Doctor B and Booth, am I wrong?” 

            The younger agent had to concede.  “On the first point, you have a nice ass and great legs so I’m going to look and appreciate what I have.  As for your second point…to be honest, I’ve seen it too.  Since Max died, she's sometimes very…irritated and Booth has been more…grrrr of late.”

            Jessica’s eyes got large as she thought of something.  “Superman, you don’t think that…”

            Aubrey looked at her puzzled before figuring out where his girlfriend’s mind was.  “Them?  No way.”

            The two enjoyed their drinks for a minute before the redhead decided she had enough wedding stuff for today.  Looking to her right, she saw her boyfriend finishing off another round of munchies with a couple of veggies remaining.  When he moved to get more, she held him back with her hand.  “Superman, you may want to save some snacks for the others.”

            Aubrey dipped his last carrot in ranch sauce before taking a bite.  “Cam and Michelle said to eat whatever I wanted.”

            Jessica stole the last broccoli and ate it.  “Well, I think the party is breaking up.  Curly and Angela left a few minutes ago and it looks like Doctor B is cleaning up.  I’ll go help her quick.”

            “Okay.  I just want to get more cake and some of that awesome cheese before we leave.”

            “Go ahead.”  The redhead laughed.  “Just don’t take too long because they’re may be a surprise waiting for you later.”      

            Aubrey chewed the last of his carrot.  “Is it a naughty surprise?”

            “What do you think?”  The redhead said flirtatiously.

            The agent lifted one eyebrow for a moment before racing over the cake table to Jessica’s laughs.

            Unbeknownst to the younger couple, Doctor B overheard their plans for the evening as she walked by.  For a moment she felt envy at their flirtations.  She was finding the last few days she missed that about her and Booth.  After giving directions to Jessica and Daisy, she walked over to her husband, Cam, and Arastoo. 

            Booth turned to his wife when he saw her.  “All set, Bones.”

            “Yes.  I cleaned up the paper and remaining plates.  Ms. Warren and Wick are helping Michelle organize the presents before taking them to Cam’s vehicle.” 

            The couple grabbed their remaining beer from one of the coolers by the food table.  When Brennan turned to collect her food, to her consternation she saw three-quarters of her tofu artichoke squares remained. “Booth…my tofu squares…”

            “Bones, Aubrey can’t eat all of them.”

            The anthropologist looked at her husband with a face of annoyance.  “I don’t under why there are so many left.  They are a delicious alternative to the chips, guacamole, and queso dip.  The seven layer dip alone has a lot of cholesterol, although protein with the beans.”

            “Well Bones, there more for you when we get home.”  Booth said with a smile.

            “You’re trying to placate me now.”  Brennan said as she pointed her finger.

            “Never, Bones.”  Booth said as he put his arm around her.  “Let’s go home though.”

            The couple got everything together and said their good nights.  They got into Brennan’s Prius and took off to pick up their children.  Along the way, the subject changed to Aubrey and Jessica as they continued their conversation from earlier.

            “He’s crazy about her, Bones.  Ever since he met her during the Hayes Robertson case, Aubrey has been love-struck with your squintern.”

             “’Love-struck’ Booth?”  Brennan said as she made a left hand turn.  

             “Yeah, Bones.  Do you know how many times Aubrey always drove to the lab for ‘personal updates’ on a case when she was working?”

             “I will concede that.”  Brennan said before turning on her blinker for another left turn.  “I know Ms. Warren’s parents are divorced and it was very…acrimonious from my understanding.”

             Booth nodded as his wife turned into the pizza place parking lot.  “Aubrey’s dad did a number on him.”

             Brennan parked the car and turned to her husband.  “I don’t want them to be like we were, Booth…too scared of having a full life together.”

             “I don’t either Bones.”  Booth said before he thought of something.  “You know, I was thinking earlier that perhaps we can have dinner with Gordon again.  He owes Aubrey a few more meals, so perhaps we can ask him to do one at our house with us supplying the food.  We can ask him to help using his shrinky powers.”

             “He can help us cleverly bring up…parts of our past somehow…”

             “…and he can talk about how fear shouldn’t overrule our lives…”

             “Aubrey and Jessica can then see how we got past our fears to be together…very brilliant, Booth.”  The anthropologist said as she stopped at a light and held her fist up.  “See I know what I’m doing now.”

             Booth’s fist touched his wife’s.  “That you do, Bones.  That you do.”

                “It’s hot and cold lately, Jess.  Most times, they’re in sync but then…not.”  Aubrey said as he drove.  “Booth still blames himself for everything.  It was bad enough when Aldo and Mike Reiss died but now with Max gone, it’s worse.”

                “It’s like they are both feeling guilty.”  Jessica replied. 

                The lanky man watched the road as he drove.  “Booth says Brennan still hasn’t gone through her father’s things.”

                The redhead turned to her boyfriend.  “It’s been a month since—“

                “I know.”  Aubrey said as he braked his vehicle at a light.  “I’ve been there, Jess.  It took me a long time before I could start going through some of my mom’s stuff.” 

                “You said Booth blames himself for what he did as a Ranger over twenty years ago.”  Jessica said.  “Maybe Doctor B blames herself for asking her father to go with the kids?”

                “I don’t know, Jess, but I want to help them.”  Aubrey said before he smiled.  “Your brilliant Special Agent boyfriend has an idea.”

                “What’s that, Superman?”  Jessica asked.

                “Gordon is staying until Monday or Tuesday, right?”  Aubrey said.  “Maybe we can ask to help us help Booth and Brennan?  I know…we can ask him to make dinner for the three of us, Booth, and Brennan at their house this weekend.”

                “I see where you’re going.”  Jessica said.  “Gordon can somehow steer the conversation so he can give them advice on the sly?  I like it Superman.”

                “Me too, Jess.”  Aubrey pulled up in front of a brownstone and turned off the car.  “I’m just running in to get a different tie for work tomorrow.  Want to come with me?”

                Jessica removed her seat belt.  “Sure.  I can say hi to Skinner and Gordon.”

                The couple got out of Aubrey’s vehicle and he hit the fob to lock and arm the car.  Walking up to the brownstone entrance, he opened the door for Jessica.  As they got to his apartment door, they heard what sounded like rock music through the door.

                Aubrey turned to his girlfriend.  “Good.  Gordon is still up.”

                “Cool.  I like his taste in music.  Isn’t this Noddy Comet?”

                “Yeah.  Did you know he is Noddy Comet?”  Aubrey said.  “Booth told me.”

                “No way!  That is so cool.”  Jessica said as her boyfriend unlocked the apartment door.

                When the two entered the apartment, they were surprised to see no lights on.  Shutting the door quietly, they walked through looking for the chef.  Jessica felt Skinner hit her leg and picked him up.  “Hey there, Boy.”

                Aubrey looked back towards the hallway.  “The music is coming from his room.  He said he was going over Zack’s case tonight before visiting him tomorrow.  Maybe he hates the quiet?”

                “Yeah.”  Jessica stood for a second and heard something else.  “Superman, is that…”

                Aubrey heard what Jessica was talking about through the music.  “You don’t think…”

                “It sounds like me when…oh….”

                “Oh what?” 

                “Oh that.”  Jessica said with a snicker as she pointed to the center island.

                Aubrey looked and saw the object of attraction, a woman’s purse.  Next to it was a bottle of wine with two used glasses and used dinner plates.  Before the agent could respond, they heard it.

                “YES!  YES MY NODDY COMET!”

                The couple’s eyes widened in shock as they recognized the voice of the participant.  Jessica began snickering before quickly putting Skinner down so she wouldn’t drop him.  “Oh my God…”

                Aubrey was trying to hold back his laughter and was failing.  “W-we’ll come back early in the morning--”

                Suddenly the song ended and they heard Gordon’s voice.  “I’ll be right back with the wine.  You’ve made me quite thirsty, Love.”

                “Oh shit, time to go.”  Aubrey said as he grabbed Jessica’s hand.  “Night, Skinner.”

                The two scurried out of the apartment and closed the door as quickly and quietly as possible.  Rushing outside smiling, the two ran down the steps as Aubrey unlocked his SUV.  When they pulled back into traffic, the two finally broke down in hysterical laughter.

                “OMG…Superman…did you recognize…who was…with him?”  The anthropologist said in between belly laughter.

                “Yeah…all I can say is…go Gordon…”

                “No…go her.  Man I want to be that horny when I’m that age.”

                “Oh we most certainly will be, Jess.  I’m always going to want to get in your pants.”

                The agent and his anthropologist roared into louder laughter as they drove through Washington DC.

                By 10:00, Booth was in the bathroom in his Flyers t-shirt and sweat pants brushing his teeth.  It has been a long day and he was grateful that the kids went down easy.  He credited the assist of pizza, games, and soda from their party earlier.  Seeing his younger children happy was a long time coming. 

                As he continued his task, he thought about his day and Bones and knew he dodged a bullet earlier at the party.  He felt terrible for jerking his leg when she touched him.  However, Booth knew that if he didn’t, he would drag Bones to the nearest closet and hump her brains out.  

                He missed her more than his own breath.  However, whenever he relaxed,  he thought back to when he found his wife next to Max’s empty hospital room.

                He had to put Kovacs away…he had to break the cycle of revenge so his family could rest again.  He couldn’t lose Bones, his three children, or anyone else.  He would do whatever it took to get all the bastards.  Then and only then would he be able to lose himself in her warm, loving arms again.

                Rinsing his mouth out, he put the toothbrush away.  Leaning against the sink, he stretched his feet out before doing the same to his back.  When ready, he walked out of the bathroom and stopped dead in his tracks.

                On the bed was Brennan wearing his FBI t-shirt…and nothing else.

                “Took you long enough, Booth.”

                “Y-y-you are…whoa Bones…wow…”  Booth stuttered.

                The anthropologist lifted up the covers for her husband’s side of the bed.  “It’s pretty cold tonight, Booth.  I’m almost naked waiting for you.”

                Booth felt himself get harder than a rock.  God he wanted nothing more than to bury himself in his wife.  He was about to throw caution to the wind when he looked over at the nightstand and saw their wedding picture with them, Parker, Angela…and Max.

                Immediately, Booth stopped himself.  He could see the confusion on his wife’s face, but he couldn’t explain it to her.  He couldn’t let her touch him after what he did.

                “Booth…what’s wrong?”

                “Nothing, Bones…it’s just…my back…”

                Brennan saw her husband’s eyes and knew he was lying.  She saw the want in them and knew he was about to jump her.  “Booth…tell me…what’s wrong?”

                Before Booth could answer, his phone rang.  Grabbing it, he answered.  “Booth…okay…no no I’ve got this.”

                Brennan watched her husband hang up.  “Who was that?”

                “Bureau.  There was a body found in Rock Creek.”

                The anthropologist stiffened her spine.  “Can’t they call Aubrey?”

                “He’s off tonight and he’s with Jessica.” Booth felt sick to his stomach but started to change clothes.  “Listen I’m going to head to the scene.”

                Brennan grabbed her phone.  “I’ll call Daisy to see if I can drop the kids off.”

                “Bones, from what they told me, the body is pretty meaty so you can wait until they take the body to the Jeffersonian.  I don’t want you to have to go out into the cold.”

                Brennan felt something was off.  “Are you sure, Booth?”

                “Yeah, Bones.  Don’t worry.”  Fully dressed, the agent went to his wife and kissed her.  “Damn you’re beautiful in my shirt.”

                Sucking up her feelings of rejection, Brennan smiled.  “I’m keeping it, Booth.”

                “Good.”  Booth said before kissing her again.  “I’ll be home as soon as I can, Bones.  Love you.”

                “Love you, too Booth.” 

                She watched her husband through the crack of the curtain as he got his stuff around in the kitchen.  A minute later, she heard a door close and a car leave.  Laying down on the bed, she stared at the wall.  Usually, he took turns with Aubrey and Booth had the last late night scene.  She knew the younger agent would take the call in a heartbeat.

                Brennan laid there in the dark, staring at the wall as sleep eluded her.

Chapter Text

            The next morning Aubrey and Jessica were eating breakfast with Gordon in the agent’s apartment. 

            “So I’m thinking that you can somehow bring up family and loss and you can give some sort of blanket advice.”  The agent said as he finished off his bowl of Cap’n Crunch and put the remaining milk on the floor for an eager Skinner.

            “Anything else?”

            “That’s it in a nutshell.”  Jessica said before taking a bite of her raspberries with Greek yogurt and granola.  Suddenly, Aubrey came along and scooped a big bite from her bowl.  “James Aubrey, you just ate breakfast.”

            “Yeah, but yours looks good.  When you love someone, you share.”

            The redhead looked at her boyfriend with a smirk.  “Remember that the next time I steal some of your Milanos from your desk drawer.”

            “Always for you, Jessica.”  Aubrey replied.  They looked at each other for a minute before the agent remembered they were not alone.  “So ah…what do you think, Gordon?” 

            The former psychiatrist sipped his Earl Grey tea.  “l think it’s a splendid and ingenious idea.  If I can use my two vocations to help Agent Booth and Doctor Brennan with the recent tragedy in their lives, even better.”

            “Thank you, Gordon.  Booth and Brennan have done a lot for us so we want to do something for them.”  The agent said while tying his blue and brown striped tie.            

            “Well, I can certainly do my part.  However, to do this, it may require opening the discussion past your mentors.”

            “Like how?”  Jessica asked before taking a drink of her coffee.

            “You two have also suffered loss in the parental area, albeit in different ways.  To share the stories of how you coped could be helpful.”  The chef said before putting down his cup and looking to both people.  “Is that acceptable?”

            Aubrey got slightly nauseated.  “Of course, Gordon.  I’m past that stuff.”

            The chef turned to the redhead who seemed very focused on adding more cream and cinnamon to her coffee.  “Jessica?”

            Looking up, the anthropologist swallowed before putting on a smile.  “No sweat, Gordon.  I moved past all that stuff a long time ago.  We will do what we can to help Booth and Doctor B.”

            Gordon saw the subtle reactions and could tell they were lying.  However, he knew what had to be done.  “Good…good.  With the wedding tomorrow night, I would think perhaps Saturday night or Sunday but let me know what works for you two.”

            “I’m free both days, Aubrey.  Do you want to ask Booth?”  Jessica asked.

            “I’ll try but he’s out for at least the morning in meetings with Stark and the other division heads.  If not, we can ask Doctor B when I pick you up for lunch.”  Aubrey replied.

            “Sounds good.”  Jessica said while she finished her coffee.  “We appreciate your help, Gordon.” 

            “Anytime, young lady.”  Gordon said as he sipped more tea.

            Jessica remembered what her and her boyfriend stumbled upon last night and smiled.  “Would you like to bring a friend to dinner?”

            Aubrey’s eyes got large as he looked at his girlfriend behind Gordon’s back.  ‘What the hell is she thinking?’

            “No, I don’t think that will be necessary, Jessica but thank you.  This dinner is for assisting your mentors with their grief.”  Gordon replied with a smile.  Looking at the clock, he finished his tea.  “Now, I have to be on my way to visit Doctor Addy at his mental health facility today.”

            The redhead finished her breakfast.  “Good luck with that, Gordon.”

             “Thank you, Jessica.”

            “Are you going alone?”  Aubrey asked before holstering his pistol.

            “No, I’m bringing another expert with me.”

            “Who?”  Aubrey said before nodding in understanding.  “Oh.”

            “So are you going to talk to Gordon today?”  Brennan said while gathering travel mugs from the cupboard.

            Booth finished his cup of coffee before yawning.  “Yeah, I’ll catch him at the office and let you know.”

            Brennan saw how tired her husband was.  “Were all proper forensic techniques followed at the scene when gathering evidence?”

            “Yes.  Cam took care of it personally.  After doing an initial examination, she went home to sleep for a few hours and said she would be at the lab…”  Booth looked at his watch.  “…right about now.  I think she’s stressing about the wedding and needed a break.” 

            “I find work to be a very good distraction when I have a great deal of stress going on.”  Brennan said, ignoring the stab she felt in her gut.  “Was proper care taken with the remains?  When I can’t be at the scene, I am afraid of the scene being contaminated.”

            “Yes Bones.”  Booth before noticing the fleeting look of sadness on his wife’s face.  “Bones, I’m sorry I had to leave last night—“

            Not wanting to talk about it any longer, Brennan held her hand up.  “Booth, it’s part of your job.  Sometimes you get called out to a body discovery that I’m not needed for.  Understandable.”

            “Are you sure you’re okay, Bones?”  Booth asked, feeling guilty for leaving his wife the way he did.

            “Yes, Booth.  I’m 40 years old and I can handle if my husband is unable to make love due to being called into work.”

            “You did look really hot in my FBI t-shirt.”  Booth said, feeling shudders as he remembered what he wanted to do to her.

            “I’m glad you enjoyed the view and I’m keeping the shirt.”  Brennan said with a smile.

            Booth took his oatmeal bowl to the sink with his coffee cup.  “So, can you talk to Jessica later or Aubrey when he picks her up for lunch?  I have to go to some meetings with Stark.”

            “What kind?”  The anthropologist asked as she capped off her coffee and poured another travel mug for Booth.

            Booth took the coffee gratefully.  “Oh thank you, Bones.  Today, it’s just stupid shit for the heads of the divisions.  Aubrey will be in charge while I’m gone, hopefully only until this afternoon.”

            “Of course, Booth.”

             Booth took a step closer.  “Now Bones, when you talk to Aubrey and your squintern, nothing fancy.  Just…be subtle.”

            “Booth, I’m a world renowned forensic anthropologist who leads the anthropology division at the Jeffersonian.  I’m also a successful novelist, part time professor at American University, and a superior mother to our children.  I think I can handle something like commencing a plan where we have a dinner that will also get Aubrey and Jessica to decide on when to get married.”

            Booth knew to quit while he was ahead.  “Okay.  You’re right.”

            Brennan put her arms around her husband.  “Of course I am.”

            They began to share a kiss when they were interrupted by Christine running into the living room.  “I’m ready!”

            Brennan wiped the lipstick off her husband’s lips.  “I’ll take Christine while you finish getting Hank ready for day care.”


            “I do appreciate you clearing your busy schedule to come along with my on my visit with Doctor Addy.”  Gordon asked.

            Karen smiled before opening her purse.  “Oh, not a problem at all Doctor Wyatt.  I’ve admired your work for years and to pass up an opportunity to work with you would be insane…get it?”

            “Clever, Doctor Delfs, but remember that I’m not practicing anymore.  It’s just Gordon, Chef Gordon…”  He said before smiling.  ‘Or Naughty Noddy Comet to one person.’

            “Agreed…Gordon but only if you call me Karen.  Doctor Delfs is so…formal.”

            “Very well Karen.  So I’ve read your observations of Doctor Addy for your dissertation and I found your observations very through and fascinating.”

            “Thank you.”  Karen said as she continued to dig through her purse. 

            Taking his eyes off the road for a moment, the chef looked in fascination as he watched her pull out a can of Sprite, a large hairbrush, several empty file folders and a six port USB adapter.  When he accidently hit a small bump, Karen was barely able to keep her items from falling on the floor.

             “Karen, do you need me to pull over for a moment?”

            “No, just looking for my…”  Karen said as she pulled out a mouse trap out of her bag.

            Gordon’s look went from fascination to bewildered.  “Karen…why do you have a mouse trap?”

             “I honestly don’t remember.” The profiler said with a giggle.  “Yes!  Here it is.”

            Gordon watched her pull a tube of lotion out of her bag.  He refrained from making a comment as they arrived at the front gates of the mental hospital.  After letting the guard know who they were, the gate opened and he drove in.  After parking the car, the two exited the vehicle.

            “Ready?”  Gordon asked.

            Karen was digging into her purse and found a legal pad and three pens.  “Ready.”

            Brennan was in her office looking over a forensic journal but she wasn’t registering the words.  Exhaling, she grabbed her phone from her pocket.  After accessing her Verizon Cloud, she pushed on a video file.

            Max was on the floor on his hands and knees with Hank on his back.  He was growling while the toddler was giggling and holding his hair.  Nearby Christine was laughing.

           “Grandpa let me ride…let me ride.”

           “Christine, you’re too big to ride on Grandpa’s back.”

           “It’s fine Tempe.  Anything for my Christine.”


            The anthropologist felt a tear weld up before she heard a knock on the door.  Quickly pausing, she looked up and was surprised to see Aubrey at the door.  "Hello, Aubrey."

            The agent saw the melancholy look on Brennan’s face.  “Is this a good time?”

            Quickly, she wiped a tear away.  “Of course.  It's just that my eyes are a little watery today.  What can I do for you?”

            “Well, I’m picking up Jessica for lunch.  I know that Booth is stuck in a meeting with Stark for most of the day so I want to invite you to join us today at the diner.”

            Brennan looked up, instantly knowing where the invite came from.  “Booth asked you to, didn’t he?”

            “Damn it!”  Aubrey said.  “How do you do this?”

            “I know my husband.”  The scientist said with a chuckle.  “However, I am hungry and it is a nice day, so yes, I’ll join you.  I have a few things to go over regarding our newest case.”

            “Cool.  Jessica said she would meet me here if that’s okay.”

            Brennan began taking off her blue lab coat.  “That is acceptable.”

            “How are you, Doctor B?”  The younger man asked.

            The scientist was quiet for a moment.  “Better, Aubrey.  How about yourself?”

            “Fine I guess, but I’m not the one mourning the death of her father.”

            “No, but your father was a fugitive who was arrested after almost 20 years on the run as well as attempted to bilk funds out of you with false claims of a half-sibling.  It must have been a shock.”

            The agent sat for a moment trying to come up with an answer.  “I wasn’t surprised when he tried to take me for all I had because he’s never discriminated who he ripped off.  He hoped to have a son who followed in his footsteps, popular with his peers, and had a sliding scale when it came to morals.  Instead, he got an awkward kid who turned him in for ripping people off…twice.”

            Brennan saw the flash of sadness in his eyes.  “How are things with you and Ms. Warren?”

            “Good…awesome…wonderful.”  Aubrey said as he got up and walked around the room.  “Jess is my best friend and the best thing that ever happened to me.”

            Brennan smiled.  “She said those exact sentiments to be recently about you Aubrey.”

            “Really?”  The agent replied as his ears turned red.  “Cool.”

            “Ms. Warren told me that your father is doing a television interview on Tuesday night.”

            Even the anthropologist didn’t miss the stiffening of Aubrey’s body posture.  “Yeah, ironic isn’t it?  He’s going to be interviewed on Investigation Discovery live on Valentine’s Day.  Gotta love it.”

            “I’m sorry you’re going through this, Aubrey.”  Brennan said.  “At least Jessica put those people from the network in their place last night so they won’t bother her or you again.”

            The agent looked up.  “What?”

            “The gentlemen from last night…the ones who accosted us outside of the women’s room during Cam’s party?  I'm assuming Ms. Warren did tell you about that.”

            “Y-yeah, she told me.” Aubrey stammered, in shock.

            The anthropologist chuckled.  “I liked how she very succinctly threatened to castrate the two men with her bare hands and shove their genitals up their nostrils.  Although I did enjoy her following threat to shove the heel of her shoe up the buttocks of anyone who bothered you about your father.”

            Before Aubrey could inquire further, he saw the redhead coming towards Brennan’s office.  He flashed between being proud of her and irritated she kept it from him.  ‘Jess and I can talk later.’

           “Did I say something wrong, Aubrey?”  The anthropologist stated as she saw the agent’s pensive face.

            “Nope.  Just glad my girl takes shit from no one.”  Aubrey said before Jessica entered the office.  “Hey Jess.”

            “Hey yourself.”  Jessica said before giving her boyfriend a kiss.  Turning to her mentor, she began to speak.  “Doctor B, will you be joining us?”

            “Yes, I will.”

            Grabbing her purse, she joined the younger couple and the three walked out of the lab.  Two minutes later, the three exited the museum through the parking garage and they walked down the city blocks to the Royal Diner.

            Gordon got off the elevator to the Hoover’s fourth floor and headed straight for the break room.  After his morning with Karen Delfs, he needed his beloved tea and some quiet.  A lovely woman but she could be…trying to be around after a while. 

            When she invited him to lunch at Founding Fathers to compare notes, he told her that he had lunch already at the Bureau waiting for him.  He couldn’t get out of an early dinner with her tonight, though.  Their consult had to be done as soon as possible, but it meant he had to change his plans for the evening.  Luckily his companion didn’t mind.

            Walking in, he was annoyed to see no more tea bags in the tin on the counter.  Of course, he could get it from the machine in the room, but that stuff was rubbish.  Settling for a latte, he started the machine and removed his lunch from the refrigerator while pondering his visit to the mental hospital.

            Doctor Addy was a fascinating study.  He could be a productive member of society if released, however, he needed support to function in daily life as things had changed in ten years.  The anthropologist boasted of his experience by reading emails and the Internet.  However, there was a world of difference between virtual experience and having it in your daily life.

            Karen Delfs was an interesting study as well. She was very…unusual and flaky, but also possessed a sharp mind.  More than once, she inadvertently gave away her crush on Agent Aubrey.  He didn’t let on that he saw her outside the young man’s office the day before, tucking away that information away unless needed.

            Seeing his beverage was done, he took it off the rack and sampled.  To his surprise, it was quite enjoyable, almost like the ones back home.  Grabbing that along with his lunch, Gordon walked out and towards the conference room.  He just sat his lunch down he heard his name. 

            Turning around, he saw Booth in the entry way.  “Agent Booth, I thought you were out until later.”

            “I am.  I just needed a quick break from all those chiefs and came down here for my Steelers mug.”  Booth looked and saw Gordon’s latte.  “Ah, sampling the foamy crap, huh?  That thing in the break room was Aubrey’s doing.”

            “It is actually not bad.  Of course I have real milk and not that skim rubbish you have on this side of the Atlantic.”  Gordon said.  “Do you want a preliminary report?”

            “Can we walk and talk?”

            “Of course.”

            The two men walked through the bullpen while Gordon went over his tentative findings with the agent.   He had finished when they arrived at Booth’s office.  “I think with support from family and friends that he will be successful in time.”

            Booth looked away for a moment to get his mug.  “I don’t know about his family.  They’re all in Michigan and not everyone has contact with him after what happened.”

            “That’s too bad.”  Gordon said.  “However, he does have friends here who I think will make the transition better if he is released.”

            “I talked to Bug Boy and Angela already.  They have a small guest house on their property that Aubrey’s girlfriend lived in for a while.  It’s close but will also give him some freedom.  We would take him, but we can’t give him the privacy he should have.”

            “He seems eager to work in his field, also.  I know he can’t work in the lab because of his history.”

            “No, he can’t.  However, Cam found out that he can work in Clark’s department and he is amendable to that if Zack is interested.  If the lab has to be used for any forensic testing, Zack can be removed from the case.  Another option is to work in the Natural History department of the Jeffersonian.”

            “Yes, the young man’s options are limited.  He seemed accepting of that when we spoke about what he would do if he was released.”

            “You think he has a chance of release, Doc?”

            “It’s possible.  Doctor Sweets agreed in his notes, but he was unable to proceed due to doctor patient confidentiality.”

            “Yeah.”  Booth said before looking up.  “Hey, Bones and I have a favor to ask you.”

            “Of course.  Anything, Agent Booth.”

            Booth sat on his desk.  “We’re trying to help Aubrey and Jessica.  They’re happy and they’re together but they seemed scared of taking that final step.  We’re not trying to force them into it or rush them.  However, if they’re not ready for marriage it should be because of that, not because of their pasts.”

            “I agree.”

            “That held up Bones and I for years and we don’t want that to happen to them, too.”

            Gordon chuckled.  “It’s interesting that they’re about the same ages as you and Doctor Brennan were when I began working with you after shooting the clown off that ice cream truck.”

             “I still hate clowns.”

            “Understandable, Agent Booth.  How may I help you?”

            “Remember that dinner you wanted to make us before returning to England next week?  How about we do that with Aubrey and Jessica at our house say Saturday night?  We can provide the food for you and in turn you can use some shrinky magic to bring up like fears and stuff.  Don’t make it obvious though, you know?”

            “Shrinky magic, Agent Booth?”

            “You know…words of wisdom…like that about now letting your past drive your future and how they can get past their fears together.  Stuff like that.  You can even use our history if that will help.”

            The psychologist kept his suspicions to himself.  “That’s very generous of you, Agent Booth.  I hope Aubrey and Jessica appreciate how much you two care about them.”

            “Thank you.”  Booth said before grinning.  “How are things with your…friend?”

            Gordon smiled.  “My friend and I are doing well.” 

            “Any chance we will get to meet this ‘friend’ before you leave?”

            Gordon gave a sardonic grin.  “We’ll see, Agent Booth.  We’ll see.”

            “Great.”  Booth said before looking at his watch.  “Crap, sorry to run but I need to get back upstairs.  Thanks for all your help, Gordon.”

            “You’re welcome, Booth.  Let me know what is decided and I will plan a dinner menu for the evening.”

            “We’re having meat Gordon.  You can make Bones vegetarian stuff, but I want beef.”

            “As you wish.”

            After the two separated, Gordon walked back to the conference room.  After sitting down, he pulled out his items and smiled to himself.  His plan to help both couples was moving better than he had planned. 

            ‘Who would have thought Agent Booth and Doctor Brennan would come up with the same idea as Aubrey and Jessica?’

            As Booth waited for the elevator, he quickly sent a text message to his wife. 

            Ran into G on a break from mtgs.  Dinner is a go Sat nite.  If any 1 can help A + J it’s G.

             As he got into the car and picked his floor, he got a response.  Reading it, he laughed as only his wife made her text messages grammatically correct.

            I am looking very forward to our dinner.  Doctor Wyatt’s words of soft science should assist Aubrey & Ms. Warren towards letting go of their fears of their pasts & futures.  We have just received our lunch orders at the diner so I will ask them here & let you know as soon as possible.

            Getting off the elevator, he saw that the other people were returning.  He inhaled before going back.  The next presentation was by Hacker and he needed to make sure he didn’t fall asleep.         

            At the Royal Diner, Brennan ate her vegetable soup and salad and Jessica started to eat her club sandwich while the two discussed a topic from the redhead’s class at the Sorbonne.  Next to Jessica, Aubrey dug into his triple bacon cheeseburger along with his fries, fruit salad, onion rings, coleslaw, and a Coke.

            Deciding it was time, she moved in.  “Doctor Wyatt wanted to host another meal for Booth and me before he left for London.  How would you two like to join the three of us Saturday night?”

            Jessica finished chewing, surprised.  “Um, sounds nice, Doctor B.  Aubrey?”

            “Yeah.”  The agent said with a mouthful of onion rings.  “Would we be bogarting your dinner, though?”

            “Bogarting?  What does Humphrey Bogart have to do with my invitation to dinner?”

            Jessica stole one of Aubrey’s fries and dipped it in his ketchup.  “What he meant Doctor B is would we be intruding?”

            Understanding, the anthropologist turned to the agent.  “Of course not, Aubrey.  We wouldn’t extend the invitation if you were not welcome to attend.”

            Aubrey couldn’t believe their luck.  He was smiling until he saw Jessica’s warning look.  Toning down his excitement, he swallowed.  “Yeah, that would be great.  Thank you very much.  Is it a family meal with the Mini-Booths?”

            “Actually it will just be the four of us and Doctor Wyatt because the kids are spending the night with Michael Vincent and Lance at Angela and Hodgins' house.  Later today, I will talk to him to arrange a time and menu.  Of course…it will be with meat, but I’m confident he will have vegetarian options for myself and Ms. Warren if she feels inclined.”

            Jessica was taking a drink of her Coke with lemon at the last comment.  “Of course.  I’ll try anything with my meat.  Thanks Doctor B.”

            Hilda came to the table to refill drinks.  “Doctor Brennan, Agent Booth’s order will be ready in about ten minutes.”

            “I can take it to him when we leave here.”  Aubrey said.

            “Thank you, Aubrey.”  Brennan said before picking up her phone.  “Excuse me I need to make a phone call.  I’ll be back in a few minutes.”

            When Brennan left the table, Jessica leaned into her boyfriend.  “Superman, this couldn’t have turned out any better.”

            “I know, right?  I was going to introduce the idea quietly you know, but she beat me to it.”

            “It’s going to be perfect.  We’ll have a delicious meal and help our mentors.”

            “We make a great team, Jess.”  Aubrey said.

            “That we do, Superman.”

            Aubrey and Jessica grabbed their Cokes and they toasted to their success.

            Booth was trying to stay awake with the other department heads as Hacker explained the progress in Human Resources.  Looking to his left, he could see Stark nodding his head for a moment before perking back up.  Feeling a buzz, he pulled out his phone and saw it was his wife.

            “Director Hacker, please excuse me.  I need to take this phone call from my wife.  It might be in regards to one of our cases.”

            Andrew Hacker turned off his red laser pointer and dropped it to his side.  “Surely, Temperance can leave a message.”

            “Hacker, he said it might be about a case.”  Stark said before turning to his subordinate.  “Go ahead, Booth.  I’ll update you on what you miss.”

            “Thank you, sir.”  Booth said before rushing out of the room and pushing the answer button when out of earshot in the hallway.  “So are they coming to dinner?”

            Brennan giggled.  “Yes, Booth.  It’s all set.  I’ve sent a text message to Doctor Wyatt letting him know.”

            “They didn’t suspect a thing?”

            “Nope, my acting skills have improved, Booth.  They think we’re just having an innocent dinner.”

            Booth switched hands with the phone while leaning against the wall.  “I’m glad, Bones.  Now, we have to be careful about this.  They may not appreciate our meddling.”

            “Booth, we’re not meddling.  We’re merely facilitating a process of discovery where two people confront their fears to get to the place they want to be.  Sometimes, I wish someone would have done that for us.”

            “They tried, Bones.  Remember?  Eventually, we had to figure it out on our own, just like Aubrey and Jessica will.  However, if Gordon can help, even better.”

            “Aubrey will be bring you your lunch in a short while.”  Brennan said.  “Will you have a chance to eat it before it gets cold?”

            “I should.  It’s Hacker’s turn to speak and he’s being long winded.  Stark is as bored as I am.  He almost fell asleep a few minutes ago so it shouldn’t be long before the director pushes him to wrap things up.   Tell Aubrey to leave it on my desk and he better not touch my fries.”

            Brennan laughed.  “I will tell him Booth.  I love you.”

            Booth smiled.  “I love you too, Bones.  Let me know what Gordon says.”

            “I will.  Bye.”  Brennan said with a smile.  Looking up, she saw Aubrey and Jessica through the window toasting with their glasses.  Figuring it was something between them, she shrugged it off before re-entering the diner. 

Chapter Text

                Cam and Arastoo’s wedding reception was in full swing at the reception hall.  Couples were on the floor either dancing or canoodling in corners while old friends were toasting to the past and the future of the newlywed couple.  At a table near a corner, Booth, Brennan, Aubrey, and Jessica were talking among themselves.

                “So, Gordon said he was making Beef Wellington with a Vegetarian Wellington for Bones with red skinned potatoes and risotto.  The starter is something called a Michigan salad and Crème Brulee for dessert.  How does that sound, Aubrey?”  Booth said.

                “Oh yummy.  I haven’t had a Michigan salad in a long time.”  Jessica said.

                “Man I remember those from when I worked at the Detroit field office.  Oh so good.”  Aubrey said.  “So does the beef wellington and the crème brulee.”

                “What food doesn’t sound good to you, Aubrey?”  Booth snickered before taking a drink of his whiskey.

                “Soy cheese.”  Aubrey said before picking up his beer and taking a sip. 

                Brennan made a face of shock.  “Soy cheese is an excellent vegan substitute for regular cheese, Aubrey.”

                The agent looked to his boss’s wife.  “I’m sorry, Doctor B, but soy cheese is just…wrong.”

                “Amen on that.”  Booth said as he clinked his glass with Aubrey’s bottle. 

                Brennan turned to her intern.  “Ms. Warren, what’s a Michigan salad?” 

                Jessica took a drink of her beer.  “Oh, it’s the bomb, Doctor B.  It has spring mix, dried cherries, walnuts, blue cheese and with a vinaigrette dressing.  I had them sometimes while I was attending MSU.”

                Suddenly, Booth heard the next song and smiled.  “Bones—“

                “It’s our song, Booth!  Come on!”

                Aubrey and Jessica smiled as they watched Brennan drag Booth onto the dance floor.  As the redhead continued to watch their mentors dance with glee, the agent couldn’t help but look around the room.  The décor was elegant, but not too hoity toity and the guests were enjoying themselves.  Most of all, the bride and groom were in the opposite side of the room at a corner table looking at each other full of love.

                Suddenly, he flashed to another time and another wedding reception, this time at Founding Fathers. 

                All over the back banquet room, people were drinking and having a good time.  Wanting some alone time with his bride, Aubrey grabbed Jessica and dragged her to the main bar.  For a Friday night, it was busy but they were able to find an intimate corner table for a few moments alone. 

                She didn’t have a white dress on, but one the color of a light green that brought out her fair skin and beautiful eyes.  Her hair was pinned back in a simple side bun with tendrils framing her face.  On her left hand was his grandmother’s ruby engagement ring along with a simple ring made of titanium.  Caressing her right hand was his with a newly adorned plain titanium band.

                “I’m so happy, Superman.”

                “Me too, Jess.” Aubrey said before kissing his bride.  “You’re sure you don’t regret not having a large ceremony with a fancy venue and a reception with waiters in white penguin suits?”

                “Minded?  I hate all that shit, Aubrey.  I loved our wedding.  We had who was important there and we have who is important here now.”

                “James Aubrey!”

                Shook out of his reverie, he looked at his girlfriend.  “Sorry.”

                Jessica smiled.  “What had you so far away?”

                Aubrey admired Jessica, who wore a dress of dark green lace before answering her.  “Oh, you know…stuff.”

                “Care to share?”

                The agent was afraid to spook his girlfriend after what they talked about last weekend.  “I think a little mystery in our relationship is a good thing.” 

                Jessica narrowed her eyes.  “What will it take for you to tell me?”

                 “I’m very, very good at keeping secrets, young lady.”  He said in a fake German voice. “But you’re velcome to try to get it out of me.”

                “I am, huh?”  Jessica said.  “How about we start by me getting the next round?”

                “We’ll see.”  Aubrey said with a playful smile.

                “Be right back.”  The redhead said as she got up.

                Aubrey watched his girlfriend walk away, appreciating the view of her legs as she went.  It didn’t last long as a hint of sadness kicked in.  They agreed that marriage wasn’t in the cards for them, but it was times like this he wished it was.

                However, he loved her too much to put her through all the shit with his father.  Even more, he was scared to death of failing her because if that happened, she would be gone.  No, he would take what he could get.  Being together was enough.

                He kept that mantra going as he chugged the rest of his beer.

                Jessica weaved throughout the guests as she got closer to the bar.  She inwardly groaned when she saw the line, but wasn’t surprised.  Finding a spot, she waited patiently as she looked around.  Before she knew it, she had a different vision.

                It was another wedding reception, this time at Founding Fathers.  Their friends and family were scattered throughout the establishment, enjoying their food and drinks.  On the makeshift dance floor, Aubrey held her in his arms as they swayed to the music playing.

                “I’m glad we got married, Superman.”

                The groom kissed his bride.  “Me too, Jess.”

                “We had the best wedding ever.  The fact it was on a Friday is even better.”

                “I know, right?  Everyone gets married on Saturdays with all that frou frou shit.”

                “I glad we made it, James.”

                Aubrey kissed her and held her closer.  “Me, too.  Later on, we’ll have an even better wedding night.”

                The couple laughed together as they continued to dance.


                Jolted out of her reverie, the redhead walked up to the bar and ordered two Yuenglings.  Looking around, she felt wistful for a moment before putting her head on straight.  Aubrey already said he didn’t want to get married. 

                She was startled when two beer bottles were put in front of her.  “Thank you.”

                She really couldn’t blame him with all the crap going on with his father.  Plus with their parental histories, her relationship with Aubrey was too precious to risk with something that had a statistical risk of 50% failure.  Taking the beers, she resolved to get over herself as she headed back to their table and decided on another challenge.

                How to get her boyfriend to tell her what had his head far away earlier.

                Hot Blooded ended and All of Me started as Booth shifted gears by taking his wife in her arms.  “So Bones, do you think maybe our interns are getting ideas from being here?”

                “It’s just a wedding reception…oh I see…you’re thinking maybe Aubrey and Jessica being here will make them second guess their decision to not ever get married.”

                “Yeah Bones, I am.  Maybe Jessica will catch the bouquet tonight.  Remember when you caught it at my mom’s wedding?  After you swore up and down you would never ask me, you did soon after.  It took longer than I wanted, but we were the next to get married.”

                Brennan smiled.  “Booth, that’s merely superstition.  We had the case with Pelant a week after your mother’s wedding.  When I realized I could lose you, I decided to no longer be afraid.  Catching flowers tossed by Marianne didn’t start that.”

                Booth smiled.  “Whatever you say, Bones.  I think that superstition is correct.  Jessica is going to catch that bouquet tonight.  When she does, they will start to second guess their decision.  I think having Gordon over for dinner will also help because if they truly are okay with no marriage that’s one thing, but they shouldn’t make a decision like this out of fear.”

                “With the other single women in attendance Booth her chances will be small.”

                “Well see, Bones.  We’ll see…”

                Later on, Gordon was enjoying an Arastoo-ini as he watched the festivities.  He smiled at Doctors Saroyan and Vaziri as they snuggled at a corner table away from the others.  Watching them, he recalled the pathologist who enjoyed her single status.  He always suspected that she wanted more, but had to find the right one.  From the looks on the newlywed couple’s faces, she did.

                On the dance floor, he watched as his favorite couple danced together.  He could see the love between them as the Special Agent in Charge was relaxed, but the wall was still there.  He hoped that with the dinner tomorrow night he could help them both face what was dividing them and bring it down together.

                Looking to his right, he saw Aubrey and Jessica drinking from their beer bottles, smiling.  Another case of best friends finding more.  It was obviously that the two loved each other.  It was also obvious that each wanted more, but the fear from both of them was palpable.

                It was sheer luck that brought both couples together with the same idea to help the other.  Gordon had no doubt that while their intentions were good, both couples were also deep down trying to fix the issues in their own relationships.  They didn’t realize it, but he did.

                He saw Jessica whisper something in Aubrey’s ear before her hand reached under the table.  He chuckled at the surprised agent’s face before they got up and walked hand in hand out the door.

                Nearby, he caught a glimpse of Karen watching the two leave with a look of annoyance.  She could be an issue, but didn’t see her crush as a deal breaker between the younger couple.  He could find a way to step in if necessary, though.

                Jessica led Aubrey down a small hallway and opened a door, leading to a small storage closet with a table and shelves of stock.

                The agent smiled as he watched his girlfriend lock the door.  “Jess, how you know of this place?”

                 “My brother Stephan’s wedding reception was here when I was sixteen.  There was a cute waiter who sneaked me a few drinks after I made out with him in here.” 


                The redhead gave a saucy grin before putting her arms around her boyfriend, who continued to pout.  “Don’t worry Superman, I only let him cop a feel above the waist.”

                “Can I assume I get to do more than play with your boobs, Ms. Warren?”  A mollified Aubrey said as her lips nibbled on his neck.

                Jessica stopped her machinations.  “I don’t announce to just anyone that I’m not wearing panties at a wedding reception.”

                “Good because I’m going to do more than grope you, Jessica.”  The agent said in a husky voice.

                Quickly, he moved his hands under her ass and kneaded for a moment.  When she moaned softly, he picked her up and carried her over to a nearby table.  They kissed hungrily as Aubrey ripped his jacket off as his girlfriend began unbuckling his belt. 

                In quick time, Aubrey and Jessica had his shirt unbuttoned with his tie on the floor.  The redhead’s dress was pulled down to her waist as the bottom portion was pushed up by her boyfriend before he penetrated her.

                “God, you feel amazing…”  Aubrey panted in between thrusts.

                “Don’t stop, James.  Yes…” Jessica moaned while pulling him closer with her legs.

                The agent pulled down one of the cups to Jessica’s bra and suckled while her heels dug into his back.  It didn’t take long for them to reach their breaking point.

                “I love…you James…”

                “I love you…too Jessica…”

                Her boyfriend’s words were the final push the redhead needed to shatter.  When Aubrey felt her heat, he came right after her.  They stayed connected for a moment as they collected themselves.

                “Superman…”  Jessica panted.

                “Yeah.”  Aubrey groaned into his girlfriend’s shoulder.

                “We need to attend wedding receptions more often.”

                The couple broke into belly laughs before they separated.  Aubrey watched as his girlfriend opened her purse and pulled out a pair of black panties.

                “I thought you said you weren’t wearing any underwear.”

                Jessica lifted up her lingerie.  “I wasn’t.  I never said I didn’t bring them with me.”

                The couple shared a final kiss before checking themselves.  When they were dressed, Aubrey opened the door and looked out.  Satisfied the coast was clear, they walked out and held hands as they returned to the reception.

                As Brennan sat at the empty table, she caught the entrance of Aubrey and Jessica.  It didn’t miss her perceptive eye how the agent’s tie looked slightly askew or how they smiled widely as they returned to the table.  When they got closer, their eyes had a glow to them.

                Like one she always had after Booth and herself had a quick session of lovemaking at the Jeffersonian.  Once again, she thought about the last few weeks.  She needed space to grieve, but now she needed her husband.  It was then the nagging feeling came back.

                The one where he was avoiding her.

                First he had to go back to work.  Then he got called to a body scene that he could have easily asked Aubrey to go to instead.  This morning he had to do more research on the Kovacs case before coming home to get ready for the wedding.

                Before the last few weeks happened, she worried privately about her changed body after giving birth to Hank.  However, Booth’s reassurances and high sex drive kept those fears at bay.  Now, those fears kept coming back.

                Before she could ponder further, her husband was in view with two beers in his hand.

                A short time later, Michelle took to the microphone.  “All the single ladies to the floor.  It’s time for my mom to toss the bouquet.”

                Jessica, who was talking to Daisy and Andie, started to panic.  However, before she could stop them, her friends each took a hold of an arm.

                “Come on Jessica.  One of us needs to catch it so we can get married.”  Andie said.

                The redhead held firm.  “Oh no.”

                 “You can’t let Karen get that bouquet, Jessica.”  Daisy said.

                “You’re supposed to be my friends.”  The redhead protested to no avail.

                “We are your friends.”  Andie said as the three made it to the floor.  “We’re doing this because we love you.”

                “Aubrey and I agreed that—“

                “Bullshit.  That boy wants to marry you.”  Andie said.  “Now stand still.”

                The girls were joined by a few others, including Michelle.  Right after the maid of honor came Karen. 

                “Karen.”  Daisy said with a sneer.

                “Daisy.”  Karen replied. 

                Just then, Cam came onto the floor.  “Okay ladies, here we go.”

                The pathologist turned her back and took a couple of practice swings before swinging up and away.  Karen almost knocked over Daisy to get it, but it sailed by her, landing right in Jessica’s hands.  The profiler stared as her prize was cradled by the redhead, who looked to be in shock.

                “Oh shit…”  Jessica muttered to herself.

                “Congratulations, Jessica.”  Karen said, trying to keep from screaming.  “I guess the best woman won.  Hopefully it wasn’t wasted.”

                “Yeah…thanks…”  The redhead said as she continued to stare at the flowers in her hands.

                Andie saw her friend look like she was going to pass out.  “Come on Honey, let’s get you a drink while the guys catch the garter.”

                When the two walked away, Daisy turned to the profiler.  “Karen, get a life, will you?  Your obvious jealousy is making you very ugly.”

                The profiler’s mouth dropped as she watched the anthropologist follow her friends.  Only to herself did she admit she envied the ladies’ friendship.  Looking to her right, she saw Doctor Brennan and Angela Montenegro having a toast before drinking together. 

                While she didn’t have friends like that, she had her job and hopefully soon, Aubrey.

                Aubrey was talking to Wendell at the bar when he saw Jessica catch the bouquet.  He barely noticed when the squintern slapped him on the back. 

                “Yeah, better you than me, pal.”

                Aubrey took a final chug of his beer and inhaled before turning to his friend.  “Real funny, Wendell.”

                The anthropologist turned back to the floor.  “Dude, I think your girlfriend short-circuited.”

                Clark came over and saw the ladies.  “Jessica looks as white as a sheet.”

                Wendell began to chuckle.  “Check out Karen.  She looks pissed.”

                Clark also chuckled as he saw Daisy walk away from the profiler.  “I don’t know what Daisy said, but whatever it was, Karen is mad…”

                “Probably mad she didn’t get the bouquet so she could marry Aubrey.”  Wendell chuckled before high-fiving Clark.

                “Very funny guys.  We’re just work colleagues.”

                The cultural anthropologist put his drink down.  “Aubrey, you are work colleagues with her.  However, she’s got the hots for you.”

                “I don’t care.  Jessica is the only one for me.”  Aubrey said before the conversation was interrupted.

                “All right, now all the single men out here.  My brother is about to toss the garter.”  Hamid said on the stage.

                “Oh boy…” Aubrey said.

                Hamid gave the microphone to Arastoo, who looked at the three men.  “Clark, Wendell, Aubrey get your butts out here.”

                Caught, the three men headed towards the floor.  “Maybe Doctor Wyatt will catch it.”  Clark said.

                “Yeah…or Fisher.”  Aubrey said.

                “Could be Oliver.”  Wendell said. 

                The three men stopped in their tracks and looked at each other.  “Nahhhhh.”  All three said simultaneously before arriving at a group that included Gordon and Oliver.

                “Ready to try your luck, Aubrey?”  The chef said.

                “No luck necessary.”

                As The Stripper began to play, Arastoo moved his hands under Cam’s leg.  The bride was laughing while holding her face in her hands.  When he retrieved it, he helped his bride up and turned around.

                “Ready guys.  One…two…three.”

                The garter went up in the air and landed perfectly on the neck of Aubrey’s beer bottle.  He stood in shock, not hearing the hooting and hollering from everyone in the room.

                “Seems like you’re next, Aubrey.”  Clark said while slapping him on the back.

                “Drink…I need a drink.”  The agent said, walking the few steps to Hodgins’ cocktail table.  “Can I get a drink, Hodgins…make it two actually.”

                The entomologist kept the chuckle to himself.  “One Aras-tini and one Saroyan Swing coming up.”

                Aubrey took the drinks from his friend.  “Thanks.”  He chugged them and ordered another couple, ignoring Hodgins’ face.

                “Man I hope Jessica is driving tonight.” 

                Jessica licked the salt on her hand, tipped back the tequila flawlessly before biting the lemon.  Andie watched her friend and was satisfied to see color back in her face.  “Hey, you’re not corpse white anymore, girl.”

                “I’m fine.  I just had a shock, that’s all.”

                The girls heard the announcement of the garter toss.  They watched intently before their mouths dropped when it landed perfectly on Aubrey’s beer bottle.

                “Wow…that’s like a one in a million shot.”  Daisy said.

                They watched Aubrey as he walked up to Hodgins’ table and proceed to down two of the specialty cocktails.

                “Whoa!  Not something I expected to see.”  Andie said before turning to her friend.  "Jessica, are you all right?"

                The redhead got up.  “Of course.  It’s not every day that your boyfriend gets trashed after you catch the bouquet and he gets the garter.  Excuse me.”   

                Andie and Daisy watched their friend walk away.  “Oh shit.”  They said at the same time.

                Following their friend, they arrived as Jessica made it to her boyfriend.  “Come on Superman, you have to put that garter on me.”

                Feeling a little bit tipsy, Aubrey smiled.  “No problem.  I’ll do anything to touch your legs, Jessica Elizabeth.”

                Booth and Brennan saw their interns and knew it was not good.  “Booth, Ms. Warren has lost all color to her face.”

                “Yeah and Aubrey looks like he’s going to throw up from nerves.”  The agent replied.  When he saw where their subordinates were going, he groaned.  “Oh, that’s not good, Bones.  Not at all.”

                Booth and Brennan watched their interns.  “Booth, should we say something?”

                “Like what, Bones?”  Booth said.  “Hey Aubrey, quit drinking Bug Boy’s drinks?  He’s 33 years old and a legal adult.”

                “Do you think it’s because Ms. Warren caught the bouquet and he caught the garter?”

                “Yeah.”  The agent said honestly.  “He’s going to have a hard morning.”

                The couple watched as Aubrey put the garter on his girlfriend.  As he was barely standing, Jessica’s face showed restrained annoyance.  After they danced, the agent headed back to the bar with Hodgins as Jessica headed back to their table.

                “Maybe we should help Ms. Warren get him home.”  Brennan said before touching her husband’s knee.  “Then maybe we can redo our wedding night at home, Booth.  I’m wearing that lingerie you like…the set I wore to your mother’s wedding.”

                Booth felt his lower body get excited but it conflicted with his head telling him ‘NO’.  As much as it hurt him, he did what he had to do.  “I’m going to check on Aubrey, Bones.  I’ll be back soon, all right?”

                Brennan watched as her husband got up and walked across the room.  She watched him talk to Aubrey and Hodgins before he received two cocktails from the entomologist.  To her surprise, her husband proceeded to drink them in rapid succession.  After that, she saw the three men downing more drinks.

                Once again, the question she asked earlier came back.  Did he not find her sexually desirable anymore? 

                No, it wasn’t that.  Brennan could see the look in his eye Wednesday night when she greeted him in his t-shirt, but what changed things?  Usually he was always ready and willing.

                Faced with a conundrum, she needed more information.  The effect was her lack of sex life.  The cause?  Unknown.

                Starting tonight, she would get to the bottom of Booth’s distance.

                Thirty minutes later, Aubrey and Booth were drunkenly laughing together along with Hodgins, who had a few drinks of his own.

                “Bug…Boy…I don’t know what you p-p-p-p ut in those…drinks…”  Booth sputtered.

                “But they…are awesome!”  Aubrey laughed.

                The scientist tipped the last of his back.  “Damn…I kick ass at booze.”

                Booth looked up and saw his wife, Jessica, and Angela walking towards them.  “Hey, it’s our pretty ladies.  Let’s…greet them.”

                When the women got close, the three men raised their hands.  “Hi…pretty ladies…”

                Angela crossed her arms.  “So this is why Wendell is covering the cocktail stand?  You’re getting shit faced with these two?”

                Aubrey and Hodgins laughed.  “You said ‘cock.’”  The agent replied.

                The redhead walked up to her inebriated boyfriend.  “I can think of a better word for you that starts with a ‘p’ and ends with a ‘k’.”

                “Poopk.”  Booth said before he started laughing.  “Hey, there’s my lovely Bones.  Hi lovely Bones.”

                “I think you’ve had enough, Booth.”  Brennan said.

                “I agree.”  Angela said.

                “As do I.” Jessica said with her arms crossed.

                Angela walked behind Hodgins’ wheelchair.  “Thankfully I can wheel mine to the van.  Do you ladies need help?”

                Jessica effortlessly put her arm around Aubrey’s waist and walked in.  “I’m fine.  I’ve had practice with five older brothers.”

                Brennan put Booth’s arm around her shoulder.  “No, we’ll be fine, but thanks Angela.”

                Just then, Arastoo, Cam, and Hamid came over.  “Can we help you ladies get them to the cars?”

                Angela stopped for a minute.  “You know, I may need help getting this one into his seat.”

                Arastoo looked to his wife, who grinned in understanding.  “Lead the way.”

                Thirty minutes later, Jessica got Aubrey into her apartment with the assistance of Angela and Brennan, plopping him into her living room chair.

                “Do you need assistance getting him into bed?”  Brennan asked.

                “No, I’m set Doctor B.  Thanks.”

                Angela turned to the redhead.  “Good luck, Honey.”

                The redhead looked at her boyfriend, who was staring off into space.  “You too.  Doctor B, we’ll see you tomorrow night.”

                “Yes, good night, Ms. Warren.”

                After letting the others out, Jessica locked the door but as she turned around she heard stomping feet.  Getting closer, she heard retching sounds from the bathroom.  Walking in, she couldn’t help but smile at the sight of her boyfriend puking his brains out in her toilet.

                When he was done, he turned to his girlfriend.  “Jess…I feel like shit.”

                While tempted to leave him on the floor, she couldn’t do it.  Instead she helped him up and into her bedroom.  “You’re lucky I love you Superman or else your ass would be sleeping on the cold bathroom floor.”

                Aubrey could only groan as Jessica helped get his clothes off except for his boxer shorts.  Grabbing one of his t-shirts from a drawer, she put it on him before putting him under the covers.

                She went to the kitchen and got a bottle of Motrin and a glass of water.  Coming back into the room, she gave him the medication and liquid.  “Take these Superman and drink the water or you’ll feel like shit in the morning.”

                “No…” Aubrey whined.  “I just want to sleep.”

                Putting the items on the nightstand, Jessica got up and put the trash basket by his side of the bed.  “Suit yourself.”

                Opening a drawer, she grabbed pajamas and set them on the bed.  She stripped and tossed her clothes in the hamper.  As she was slipping into her clothing, she heard him mutter.

                “You’ll never know how much I love you, Jessica.  If I lost you, I couldn’t go on.”

                Exhaling, she turned and sat down on the bed next to her boyfriend, who was on his side.  “I’m pissed at you but you’re not going to lose me.”

                “You deserve better than someone like me.”  Aubrey slurred as he looked at her.

                Aubrey’s words were cutting her and she needed it to stop.  “Enough, Aubrey.  Go to sleep.”

                “All right, Jess.”  The agent muttered before closing his eyes.

                Making sure he was tucked in, Jessica walked to her side of the bed, got in, and shut the light off.  One tear came down as she thought about her boyfriend’s drunken claim.

                He was wrong…he deserved someone better than her.

                Brennan unlocked the door and led a drunken Booth into the house.  The babysitter, Jessica’s niece McKenzie, was smart enough to offer help but step aside when not needed.  After sitting him on the couch, she paid the young college student who took her leave.

                Exasperated, the forensic anthropologist pulled Motrin out of the kitchen cupboard and filled a glass of water.  Standing there for a moment, she looked out the window.  Suddenly a tear fell but she wiped it away quickly.

                He actually got himself drunk to avoid being with her.  Tonight was the perfect night.  She wore the lilac bra and panty set that always made him extra aroused and the children were asleep.  But instead of the two of them tearing up their Egyptian cotton bed set, she was here while her husband was sitting on the couch like a lump.

                He wasn’t staying away because he wasn’t attracted to her.  She saw the sparkle in his eyes when she mentioned her lingerie.  Instead of them making an excuse to leave, he almost immediately tied one on with his subordinate and then some.

                No, she wasn’t going to use her skills of studying cultures to find out the truth.  She wanted to know, right now.

                “Booth I want an explanation about tonight and the last few days.  Why have you avoided making love to me?”

                Hearing silence, she spoke as she turned to face.  “Booth, please my question.  Why—“

                Her planned words were stopped when she saw him with his head lying back and snoring softly.  Shaking her head, she walked over and put the pills and water on the coffee table.  Slowly, she laid him down on the couch, not wanting him to hurt his back any more than it would tomorrow.  Getting the afghan from the back, she covered her husband up.      

                “I love you, Bones.”  Booth muttered in his sleep.

                Brennan inhaled before bending down and giving him a kiss.  “I love you too, Booth.”

                Turning off the lamp, she walked quietly into the bedroom.               

Chapter Text

                Aubrey was asleep in bed when an incessant bumping noise came from outside.  He groaned before putting the pillow over his head, but it was too late.  Waking up, he blinked his eyes, but the marching band still beating his skull to the beat of the woodpecker by the window. 

                Getting his faculties together, he looked around and recognized Jessica’s bedroom.  Turning to his left, he saw the other side of the bed empty but slept in.  Suddenly, flashes of last night came back to him.  He smiled as he recalled their quickie in the storage room but then his stomach turned when he remembered the rest.

                Jessica catching the bouquet and her face turning pale with a look of dread.  He catching the garter unexpectedly and panicking.  Drinking shots and multiple cocktails with Booth and Hodgins.  His girlfriend, Brennan and Angela carrying him into her apartment before vomiting.

                “Oh shit.”  Aubrey groaned.  Sitting up quickly, he got hit with a dizzy spell.  “Holy hangover…”  He moaned.

                He debated pulling the covers over his head but knew he had to face the music sooner or later.  Turning, he saw the water and pills Jessica laid out for him.  Taking them greatly, he happened to look at Jessica’s closet which faced the bed and his thought processes stopped.

                Hanging up was a flyaway babydoll nightgown the color of bronze with a matching pair of thong panties.  He saw the outfit two weeks ago while reading Jessica’s final Victoria’s Secret catalog and made sure to tell her how good he thought it would look on her.  Apparently, his girlfriend caught the hint and bought it.

                Then he remembered what she told him last weekend.  I may have a small surprise planned for you next weekend.’

               That outfit was not there as they got ready for the wedding yesterday. Immediately, he understood why it was hanging where it was.   “I’m in trouble.” he groaned.

               He debated once again hiding under the covers, but instead slowly got out of bed and shuffled towards the open kitchen/living room area.  When he turned the corner, he saw his girlfriend sitting on her couch with her laptop.  He opened his mouth to say something, but Jessica beat him to the punch.

                “Coffee is in the kitchen.”

                Aubrey heard her tone of voice and gulped before moving sluggishly to the kitchen.  To his pleasant surprise, next to the coffee machine was his Star Wars mug out on the counter along with a small bottle of cinnamon.  Pouring a cup, he mixed in his favorite spice.  When the clinking of the spoon exacerbated his headache, he slowed the stirring to a crawl before tossing the silverware into the sink.

                He headed into the small, but homey living room.  He was attempting to block out the typing’s accompaniment to his headache to no avail.  Suddenly, his stomach churned with nausea and he figured it was Karma’s way of saying ‘Fuck You’ for last night.

                Carefully, he sat in the chair instead of his spot next to her on the couch.  “Thank you.”

                “You’re welcome.”

                The silence was deafening to Aubrey.  “What are you working on?”

                “My dissertation.”  Jessica said without looking up.  “Oh did you see the surprise I had planned for us last night?”

                He gulped before grasping his head again.  “Yes, I did.”

                “I know we had a very pleasant quickie in the stock room last night but I wanted to surprise you with some fun after getting home from the wedding reception.  Instead, you vomited up several mixed cocktails loaded with Curly’s homemade hooch and almost passed out on my bathroom floor before I put you to bed.”

                “There’s always Valentine’s Day…”  Aubrey said, desperate with guilt and longing.

                “We’ll see about Tuesday.  Cases come up when one least expects it.”  Jessica said without looking up at him.

                ‘Yep, she’s pissed.’ Aubrey thought before gingerly sipping his coffee.  Recognizing that a change of subject was the best course of action, he moved forward.   “So…what’s on the agenda today?”

                “My agenda is working on this dissertation today in between chores before we go to Booth and Doctor B’s house for dinner at 5:00 PM.  Your agenda I’m assuming is to get sobered up and functional enough to work with Gordon and I to help them tonight.”

                Aubrey wanted to crawl into a hole and die.  “I’m sorry, Jess—“

                “No worries.  I’m sure I’m not the first girl whose boyfriend got plastered after she caught the bouquet.”  Jessica sniped before saving her work.  “If you’ll excuse me, I need to take a shower and get my clothes around for laundry tomorrow.”

                Aubrey watched his girlfriend get up and walk away.  Yep, he was on her shit list all right…at the top and steaming hot.

                Booth was sound asleep in the living room when he suddenly felt a weight land on him.  He opened his eyes, but the light from the windows was too bright.  The former Ranger’s head was alternating between pounding and swimming when he felt himself being shook lightly.  Opening his eyes, he was greeted with a familiar pair of blue ones.

                “Daddy, wake up.”


                 Booth’s answer was for Christine to shake him slightly, making his insides churn.  “Mommy said you had to get up because we’re going to say goodbye to Bao Bao today.”

                He groaned for a second as he remembered their plans today.  National Zoo had a family event scheduled from 9:00 - 11:00 as part of the panda bear’s sendoff to China in less than 10 days.  Christine had been excited about it all week, counting down the days in her calendar. 

                “Daddy, why are you covering your face?”

                Booth didn’t feel telling his daughter the truth was very appropriate.  “The light’s just a little bright, Monkey.  I’m fine.  Where’s your Mommy?”

                “Putting clothes on Hank.  Hurry up Daddy.  Mommy said you have to make breakfast because we have to leave early.”

                Leave early.  Of course…Bones wanted to avoid the heavy traffic to the Zoo and get a close parking spot.  While she had issues with zoos, she knew how much the kids loved going.  Each visit she tried to make it as educational as possible.

                “Okay, Monkey.  Tell Mommy I’ll be up in a few minutes.”  Booth said before kissing his daughter, who recoiled.

                “Daddy, your breath smells funny.  Brush your teeth.”

                “Yes, Ma’am.  I’ll be right out.”

                His seven year old jumped off him and ran back towards the bedrooms.  Lifting himself up, he felt the pounding get worse and a wave of dizziness.  When he recovered his faculties, he got up and lumbered back.  As he made his way down the hall, he heard his wife assist their daughter in getting dressed as their oldest prattled on and on about pandas. 

                When he got into their en-suite bathroom, he immediately started the shower as hot as he could get it.  Jumping in, he immediately got dizzy before he vomited in there.  Standing against the wall, he collected himself to where he could function.  Grabbing the soap, he cleaned up but his thoughts began to race with visions of Max.

                The former career criminal was the only father figure he had left after Pops died.  He killed people and skirted the law more than once.  However, he gave up his freedom just to have his only daughter back in his life.  More than once, he would come running when they needed him for the kids, even at 3:00 AM or when he was with a date.  Worst of all, at their wedding Max told him he was the only man he trusted to take care of his daughter. 

                Trust…the man trusted him to look out for his family.  What did it get him?  Three bullets in the chest protecting his grandchildren from men acting for revenge.

                Booth wanted to get past this, but he didn’t know how.  But he couldn’t think about that now because he was needed elsewhere.

                Turning off the water, he got out and dried off.  After wrapping the towel around his waist, he opened the cabinet and grabbed the toothpaste as well as his toothbrush from the shell caddy he and Bones used.  For a moment, he stared at it, remembering the day he saw Brennan with Max as she listened to it.  He could recall the pain he felt as that was the moment he realized that while he loved Hannah, he was in love with Brennan.

                Shaking off his melancholy, he squeezed toothpaste with effort on the brush and brushed his teeth as memories of last night flooded back. 

                His wife brought up intimacy again by mentioning the lingerie she chose to wear under her dress.  Seeing Aubrey intoxicated was only meant to be a stop gap until he could come up with an excuse.  By the time he arrived, it seemed like the best and only away to avoid the subject last night.  He knew that once they were alone he wouldn’t be able to keep his hands off his wife.  He loved his wife so much it hurt, but it felt wrong to give into temptation after the havoc he caused. 

                Taking a deep breath, he put the toothbrush away.  After coming his hair and getting dressed, he made his way slowly out to the open area of the house.  Looking to the couch, he saw the blanket on the back was returned and the space was put to rights.  When he got to the center island, he saw his favorite pancake pan and ingredients set out already on the counter.

                “I thought it would make things easier for you.”

                Turning his head, he fought a wave of nausea as his eyes came to focus on Brennan, who was sipping her coffee by the sink.  “Thanks.”

                He was starting to measure out ingredients when he heard a small thump next to him.  Looking to his right, he saw a cup of coffee poured for him next to a bottle of water and two Tylenol.  Gratefully, he took the cup, purposely avoiding his wife’s eyes.

                “I will get Christine and Hank around.  After you make us breakfast we can head out.  I can drop you off here afterwards while I run errands and drop the kids off at Angela and Hodgins for their sleepover.”

                “What time does she want the kids there?”  Booth asked.

                “As soon as possible.  It seems Hodgins got sick in the van as they got home last night and he wasn’t feeling very well today when Michael Vincent woke him up.”  Brennan said before cracking a smile.  “She thought the three kids playing around the house while Hodgins suffered would teach him a lesson while she scrubbed out her vehicle.”

                “Wow…don’t piss off Angela.”  Booth muttered.

                “Not indeed.”  Brennan said before finishing her coffee and setting the cup in the sink.  “Gordon also gave me a shopping list for dinner tonight which I will pick up after I spend some time at the lab reading dissertation proposals from students.  Hopefully you will be sufficiently recovered by that time.”

                Booth could see the hurt in her eyes.  “I’m sorry, Bones.”

                “I’m sure you are.  You’re dehydrated from the copious amounts of alcohol you consumed in a short time last night with Aubrey and Doctor Hodgins, so I recommend you drink the water first with the acetaminophen.  The coffee will wake you up enough so we can take our children to see Bao Bao.  I would recommend drinking at least one liter of water today so you can be functional to commence our plan later tonight.”

                Booth shrunk a bit, shamed.  “I will be Bones.  I promise.”

                “Good.”  Brennan said before looking at her watch.  “It’s now 7:22.  Please get breakfast started.  The traffic near the Zoo will be unpleasant and I would like to find a decent parking spot.”

                Booth watched his wife walk away.  He would rather have her scream at him than her subtle disappointment and freezing out.  Of course, she knew that because she knew him better than anyone.

                Grabbing the water and pills, he swallowed the pills and chased them with water.  Tossing it in the recycling container, he took a drink of coffee before mixing everything together for pancakes.

                Aubrey left Jessica’s about 11:30 figuring making himself scarce for a while would be best.  He didn’t tell her that her typing was also causing him great misery.

                Getting back to the apartment, he was surprised Gordon wasn’t there.  Seeing a note on the table, he walked over.  Reading it, he grinned.


                                I have plans this afternoon with my old friend.  I will see you folks later

                                around 5:30 for dinner.  I have alternative sleeping arrangements this

                                evening, so you have the apartment to yourself.  I think your cat would

                                appreciate the company.


                                PS:  We will need 2 bottles of Mer Soleil Unoaked Chardonnay and 2 bottles

                                       of the Erath Pinot Noir for dinner.


                                Gordon Gordon        


                After checking Skinner’s food, Aubrey decided a nap was in order because if he wasn’t in peak shape for tonight, it would be very bad.  He headed to his bedroom.  Stripping down to his t-shirt and boxers, the lanky man got under the covers and crashed.

                Brennan arrived with the kids to Angela’s house.  As she pulled in, she caught Angela bent over inside of the van with a bucket of soapy water nearby.  Turning off her motor, she got out and let her kids out.

                “Aunt Angela, is Michael Vincent inside?”

                The woman turned around with a smile.  “Yes, he is.  Go on in.”

                The two women watched the Booth children run inside the front door.  Brennan turned and saw what Angela was doing.  “Angela, can I help you with anything?”

                The artist shook her head.  “No Sweetie, I’m just doing a final touch up.  I did most of the work after we got home last night.”

                “Booth regurgitated in the shower, but he thinks I don’t know.”

                “At least you got that mystery Sweetie.  I got to see mine up close.  Nothing I enjoy more than cleaning puke off a van’s upholstery at 12:30 AM.”  Angela replied before shuddering.

                “How is Hodgins?”

                “Okay I guess.  I left him on the couch last night in the den with a bucket in case he couldn’t get into his wheelchair and to the bathroom down the hall quick enough.” Angela said.

                Picking up the bucket, she tossed the contents into the yard.  “Hodgins hasn’t had much of an appetite today and he’s got a killer headache that having the kids here will aggravate.”

                “Perhaps next time he will learn to control his alcohol intake.  Maybe then Aubrey will do the same so Booth won’t feel compelled to avoid….I mean compete.”

                Angela scrunched her face.  “Compete?  No…you meant avoid.  Avoid what Honey?”

                Brennan felt stupid saying it out loud.  “Nothing, Angela.  I need to say goodbye to the kids.”

                “No, avoid what?”  The artist said as she got in front of her.  “Christine and Hank are fine for a few minutes.  Now answer me.  I’m going to nag you until you do.”

                The two women walked into the house and into the kitchen.  “Now, what’s going on?”

                Brennan finally spilled her guts as she talked about what happened Wednesday at lunch and all of her sexual overtures.  She mentioned Booth’s reactions each time as Angela listened patiently until her friend concluded.

                “I just don’t understand, Angela.  Booth has always had a very…impressive sex drive.  I know he wants to, I can see it when his pupils dilate and his respiratory rate increases.”

                Angela took her friend’s hand.  “Sweetie, the last time you and Booth had problems, I…I gave you wrong advice.”

                “You meant well.”

                “Well, I didn’t do well, but I’m not going to do that again.  You’re a brainy scientist, right?  Do what you do best.  Research and investigate.  Do it after Booth goes to bed or get up earlier than him.  When you think you have your answer, you need to confront him with it.  Booth’s not cheating on you and I doubt he’s lost interest in sex.”

                “You’re right, Angela.”  Brennan said.

                The artist gave her friend a hug.  “Come on Sweetie.  We need some girl time.”

                “Where are we going?  I have to get groceries for tonight and next week, I have to pick up the dry cleaning, I have dissertation proposals to go through—“

                “You can do it after we have lunch.”  Angela said.  “Come on, power lunch.”

                “Will the kids be all right with Hodgins being hungover?”

                Angela smiled.  “Oh, they’ll be fine, Brennan.”

                Brennan smiled as well.  “This is part of your revenge for the regurgitation in your van?”

                “Oh yes, Sweetie.”

                The two women walked into the den, where they saw Hodgins lying on the couch moaning.  Opening his eyes, he gave a wan smile.  “Doctor B.  What’s up?”

                “Nothing much.  I’ve dropped off Hank and Christine early for their sleepover tonight.”

                The entomologist gulped.  “I heard them.”

                Angela bent down and kissed her hubby’s forehead.  “And you’ll hear them all day.  Want anything before I go get lunch with Brennan?”

                “Y-you’re leaving me with the kids?”

                Angela smiled before bringing a can of Canada Dry and saltines to her husband that was nearby.  “Yes I am.  I should be back by 2:00.  If you want any food, send me a text message.”

                “Goodbye, Doctor Hodgins.” Brennan said.

                “Goodbye.”  He groaned.

                As the women walked out, Christine and Michael Vincent came in.  “Dad can we go look at your spiders and rats?”

                Hodgins took a deep breath and sat up slowly.  “Sure, kids.  Here, carry these things for me.”

                He handed the kids his crackers and ginger ale.  Putting himself in his wheelchair, he followed them out of the room.

                Aubrey paced the interrogation room as he watched his suspect.  Deciding on a different tactic, he grasped his chair and bent down to get in the suspect’s face.  “You know who you are, I know who you are.  Now be a man and own up to it.”

                “No son.”

                “Quit calling me your son.  I’m not your son.  I’m nothing like you.”

                Philip Aubrey smirked.  “Are you sure about that, James?  Jessica is a pretty girl but I can understand why you would want to play around.”

                “I’ve never played around and I never will.  Unlike your promises to Mom, I’ve kept my promise to be faithful to Jessica.”

                “Hey, I loved your mother, too but the same home cooking gets boring after a while.  Sure, your redhead is exciting now.  After a while, though, you will need someone else to excite you, just like I did.”

                “You’re a pig, you know that?  Contrary to what you think, I will never treat Jessica like you treated Mom. I love her and I always will.”

                “But you don’t have the balls to marry the girl, do you?  Don’t worry about it, Son.  Maybe it’s because you know it won’t be you who will need some excitement after a while?  Maybe your Jessica will get tired of your holier than thou attitude towards doing the right thing?  She does seem like one who knows her way around a bed, that’s for sure.”

                “YOU SON OF A BITCH!”  Aubrey yelled before grabbing his father’s head and slamming it into the table over and over…


                Aubrey woke up with a start, close to hyperventilating with his heart racing.  After take a few deep breaths, he breathed on a more even keel.  Grabbing his shirt, he wiped the sweat off his face and gulped as he remembered the details.

                Pulling the sheets back, he got up and stripped his bed of his sweat laden sheets.  Throwing them in the hamper, he saw that the time was 3:00 PM.  He still felt a little queasy but he was almost normal finally.

                After grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge, he checked Skinner’s dishes before jumping into the shower.  When he was cleaned up, he got out, combed his hair, and brushed his teeth.  Heading into his bedroom, he picked out a dark blue shirt that was a favorite of Jessica’s with a pair of his nicest jeans.  After checking the time, he sent a message to his girlfriend, hoping she wasn’t as angry as before.

                I’ll b ready soon.  Have 2 get wine 4 dinner.  When should I come get u?

                Aubrey had just put his phone down when it buzzed again.  Picking it up, he saw the message.

                Just putting on makeup.  Should b set when u arrive.

                After making sure Skinner didn’t mark him with any cat hair, he put his shoes on.  When done, he grabbed his wallet and phone.  Getting his keys from the bowl, Aubrey let the light above the stove on before heading out.

                At 4:45, Brennan pulled into her driveway.  She honked the horn before shutting the motor off.  Almost immediately, Booth came outside and trotted to the car as she opened her trunk.

                “What can I take Bones?”

                Brennan saw her husband was dressed in her favorite black button up shirt and black slacks.  He was clean-shaven and wearing her favorite aftershave.  Pulling out two bags, she shoved them into her husband’s hands.  “You can take these in.”

                Booth shifted the two bags.  “What wine are we drinking tonight?”

                “Aubrey and Ms. Warren are bringing the wine.”  Brennan grabbed the last bag and shut the trunk.  “Are you feeling better?”

                “For the most part yeah.”  Booth said.  “I’m sorry, Bones.”

                The anthropologist knew he was truly sorry.  While most of her anger was gone, the disappointment was still there.  However, she needed to push it aside as Gordon, Aubrey, and Jessica would be over soon.

                “I know, Booth.”

                Just then, a familiar car pulled up behind them.  The doors opened, followed by Aubrey and Jessica getting out.  It didn’t miss Booth and Brennan’s attention that while they walked together with smiles, there was distance between the couple.

                “Hi Doctor B.  Hi Booth.”  Jessica said.  “We got four bottles of wine.  Do you think Gordon would mind if we sampled some before dinner?”

                Brennan decided that wine sounded very appealing at that moment.  “I don’t see why not, Ms. Warren.  Come on in.  It’s cold.”

                “Can I help you with anything?”  Jessica asked.

                “No, Booth has it.  Do you need assistance with anything?”

                The forensic anthropologists looked back at their men.  “No.  Aubrey can carry in anything.  Do you have a wine preference, Doctor B?”

                “I’ll let you decide, Ms. Warren.”

                The redhead walked over to Aubrey and took a bottle of Mer Soleil out of the caddy he was holding.  Without turning back, the two women walked into the house.  The two FBI agents watched them and when the door closed, they looked at each other.

                “So, how are you feeling?” The senior agent asked.

                “Fine…great.”  The lanky man answered.  “You?”


                Aubrey gave his boss a knowing face.  “How bad were you this morning?”

                Booth combed his hair back.  “Felt like shit, even after I threw up in the shower.  You?”

                “I puked up most of my booze when we got back last night, but still felt crappy when I woke up.  Jessica I noticed typed louder and longer than usual, so I went home and crashed for a few hours.”  Aubrey said, still shook up about his dream.

                Booth looked at his subordinate.  “You got off easy, pal.  I had to take my family to the zoo this morning…the zoo…where other parents brought their children today.”

                “Well, looks like you won the shit sandwich award today.”  Aubrey said.

                Brennan poured two glasses of the Chardonnay.  “It seems Aubrey is steadier on his feet than last night.”

                Jessica took the glass of wine offered.  “Thank you.  As for my boyfriend being functional, I credit that to the fact he vomited after you two left last night.”

                “How are you?”

                “Fine.  Why do you ask?”

                Brennan sat down.  “You looked almost panic stricken when you caught the bouquet last night, Ms. Warren.”

                “Well, you know…people are going to start in on Aubrey and I getting married.  We don’t need that kind of pressure.  We’re happy the way we are.  How are you, Doctor B?”

                Brennan was taken aback by the question.  “Fine, Ms. Warren.  Why do you inquire?”

                Jessica took another drink of her wine.  “The way Booth was checking you out, I didn’t expect him to get shitfaced with my boyfriend and Curly last night.”

                Brennan took a large drink.  “I didn’t expect it either.”

                Suddenly, the door opened and Gordon led the way, followed by Aubrey and Booth.  “Greetings, ladies.  I hope all of you brought your appetites tonight.”

                Jessica and Brennan looked at Booth and Aubrey.  Gordon saw the looks the four gave each other.  ‘Looks like I’ve got my work cut out for me tonight.’               

Chapter Text

                As the Beef and Vegetarian Wellingtons cooked in the oven, Booth, Brennan, Aubrey, Jessica, and Gordon were enjoying the starter entrée of the Michigan salad.

                “I’m not big on leafy veggies and stuff but this is really good, Gordon.”  Booth said.

                The chef sipped from his wine.  “I’m glad you think so, Agent Booth.  It seems Doctor Brennan has also been a wonderful influence on you regarding your palate.”

                Booth wiped his mouth and looked at his wife.  “She still tries to hoist that Tofurkey crap on me during Thanksgiving, but I have found that some things she’s recommended are…pretty good.”

                “Thank you, Booth.”  Brennan said with a small smile before stabbing more salad.

                Gordon turned to the other couple and was amused to see Aubrey shoving the salad down like there was a famine coming.  “Aubrey, I take it you’re enjoying this course?”

                The agent finished chewing.  “Awesome salad.”

                Jessica wanted to still be annoyed with her boyfriend, but found it was hard when he looked so adorable appreciating food.  “Maybe I should make one for dinner soon with some meat loaf.”

                Aubrey looked up at his girlfriend.  If she’s mentioning making him dinner, he may be forgiven soon.  “Will you use that cherry barbecue sauce for the meat loaf?”

                The redhead drank her wine.  “We’ll see.”

                Aubrey didn’t want to push his luck.  “Thank you, Jessica.  I really, really like your meat loaf and mashed potatoes.”  He said before taking a sip of his water.

                Gordon was pleased to see the slow detente at the table.  “It’s time for me to start the risotto.  Excuse me.” 

                Walking into the kitchen, he gathered his Arborio rice, cheeses, mushrooms and other ingredients.  As he mixed them together, he looked back and saw Booth and Aubrey in a work conversation while Brennan and Jessica were discussing a recent discovery for her dissertation.  He was worried about the tension he walked into earlier, but it seemed to have lessened in the last eighty minutes.  He hoped both couples could rise past it to help him.

                Suddenly the oven timer went off as the risotto was almost complete.  After checking the items, he pulled the potatoes and Wellington dishes out of the oven.

                “Our main course and the red skinned potatoes are complete.  Finish your salads and I will serve it when it’s cooled enough.”

                Jessica touched off her glass of Erath as Aubrey finished his water.  “Ready for wine, Superman?”

                Aubrey grinned slightly.  “Yeah…thanks.”

                Jessica filled her boyfriend’s glass.  When she was done, he surprised her by squeezing her hand.  To his immediate relief, she squeezed back while giving him a wane smile.  He was still on her shit list, but they would work as the team they were to do what needed to be done.

                Across from them, Brennan watched Booth refill their glasses.  When he put the Chardonnay down, she interlocked her fingers with her husband’s.  Their eyes locked and understanding was given.  While the senior agent knew he was still up shit creek for last night, they were always partners.  Both knew that what needed to be done tonight required that the center hold.

                “Dinner is served.”

                Both couples looked up to see Gordon setting down bowls of mushroom risotto and red skin potatoes with fresh herbs.  On his second trip, he returned with two platters, each containing a pastry filled with either meat or vegetables.  He pointed to the right before looking to Brennan.

                “Doctor Brennan, this is your Vegetarian Wellington.  It contains asparagus, tomato, spinach and butternut squash.”

                “Doctor B, can I try some of that?”  Jessica asked.  “I like Beef Wellington, but yours sounds yummy as well.”

                “Of course Ms. Warren.”  Brennan said before turning to her intern’s companion.  “Aubrey?”

                “Always, Doctor B.  It will go nice with the Beef one.”

                The anthropologist turned to her husband who put his hand up.  “Bones, I liked that Michigan salad, but I want beef tonight.”

                “Suit yourself, Booth.”

                The five served themselves.  After Aubrey cut himself some of each pastry, he went for more of the beef before he felt a hand run up and down his arm.  Recognizing Jessica’s signal, he moved his interest to the mushroom risotto instead.   

                Booth offered his wife the potatoes after serving himself as she took the risotto from Aubrey.  Nodding, he gave her some of the starch as she reciprocated after he finished his part.  When done, each took some of their main course.

                When they were all situated, Gordon caught the subtle nod of Booth towards Aubrey and Jessica.

                “A toast.”  Gordon said before lifting his glass, followed by the others.  “First to love.  It’s a feeling of great hope and happiness with the occasional sadness.  It can be driven by great emotion, but also by hurts of yesterday and misunderstanding.  However, when we choose to persevere against all odds to commit to that one person your fidelity, respect, and your heart, whether it’s through friendship or even…marriage…it’s the greatest feeling of all.”

                “Here, here.”  Booth said with enthusiasm as he and his wife drank their wine.

                “To love.”  Aubrey and Jessica said with discomfort. 

                When she saw their mentors momentarily distracted, Jessica rolled her eyes from Gordon to them.  Taking the hint, the chef smiled before raising his glass again.

                “Also, to life.  It’s a complicated maze where events from the past can stay buried or being a building block for the future.  It’s a force that can bring a single event from the past into your present and bring complications that seem almost insurmountable.  It can also cause great pain when something, or someone you care for leaves your world.  However, with great courage and insight, you can confront that which causes you adversity and move forward to great moments in your lifetime.”

                “To life.”  Aubrey said.

                “To life.”  Jessica joined in.

                The last toast hit too close for comfort for Booth and Brennan.  “To life.”  The couple said together without much enthusiasm.

                “Now, let’s eat.”  Gordon said.

                All dug into their dinners.  Conversation was light, ranging from the deliciousness of the meal to the antics of the Mini-Booths at the Zoo or Skinner’s latest drama.  Gordon was chewing his latest bite when he saw Booth’s head nod towards Aubrey.

                “Being back here has been fascinating to say the least.  It’s becoming difficult to return to my kitchen in England.”

                “Really?”  Aubrey asked.  “Why?”

                “Well, between assisting with Doctor Addy, reading through the Kovacs case, and seeing everyone again, it’s reminded me of why I studied psychiatry in the first place.”

                “How?”  Booth asked.

                “Well, the feeling of satisfaction I always got when I confronted a new complexity of the human psyche.”  Gordon said before taking a bite of his meal.  “Take the Kovacs case.   A young man who had one event, seeing the death of his father, affect his whole life, including his future.”

                “Well, if I was a witness to losing my father, who knows what I would be like?”  Jessica said.

                Gordon turned to the redhead.  “On the contrary, Jessica, you and Aubrey have both experienced some loss of your paternal figures."

                “Our fathers…are still alive, Gordon.”  A confused Aubrey said before drinking a large amount of his Erath. 

                “Yes, but circumstances changed the dynamics of your relationships with your fathers at impressionable ages or times.  Aubrey, your father abandoned you and your mother when you were thirteen years old.  That had to be a hard blow to experience.”

                “Well, my father was the coward who took off instead of facing what he had done.  Like Kovacs I faced uncertainty when my father was gone and my mother had to rise above things to make a life for us.”  Aubrey said with difficulty.  “Kovacs, on the other hand, got a second chance when he came to the States, but he let his father’s death dictate his life.  I’m sorry he was traumatized but Josip Radik was a war criminal who got what he deserved thanks to Booth.”

                “I didn’t take the shot to give him what he deserved, Aubrey.”  Booth said forcefully.  “I took the shot because I was ordered to.  If I hadn’t, thousands, if not millions of people would have died and we may have had another Holocaust.”

                Aubrey immediately realized that he overstepped.  “Sorry, Booth.”

                Booth took a breath.  “It’s okay, Aubrey.”

                The moment of tension eased, Gordon moved on.  “Jessica, you’ve experienced loss with your father as well from your daily life.  Wasn’t it several months after you graduated with your bachelor degrees at Michigan State that he suffered his stroke?”

                The redhead took a deep breath.  “Yes, but like Aubrey said, he’s still alive, Gordon.  I see him usually every other Saturday at his nursing home unless I’m on the weekend on-call rotation at the lab.”

                “May I ask if your father’s stroke sudden or did he have a previous history of medical issues?”  Gordon asked. 

                Jessica grasped her napkin and twisted it.  ““He has high blood pressure, but the stroke itself was caused by an undiagnosed aneurysm that burst during a…fight with my mother.”

                “Ah yes, your mother.  She has Bipolar II Disorder, correct?”

                “Yes.”  The redhead said. 

                “Was she on a medicated regimen at the time?”  Gordon asked carefully.

                “We thought she was, but Gordon, she has a…unpleasant personality either way.  All the medication does is make her more functional and less unpleasant.”  Jessica said before taking a large drink of her wine.  “As for my father’s stroke, they were able to repair most of the damage, but the stroke affected his right side.  He has issues with his attention span and his short term memory when he’s under stress.  He also has mild language apraxia.”

                “Your dad seemed to overcome all that pretty well when I met him.”  Aubrey said.

                “Thanks.”  Jessica said, her heart melting as Aubrey’s kind blue eyes looked at her.  

                “I’m sorry your mother wasn’t able to give you the support you needed.”  Brennan said.  “I miss my mother’s presence every day.”

                “I appreciate that, Doctor B.  Thanks.”

                Gordon turned back to Aubrey.  “So Aubrey, you mentioned recently that your father’s return has brought up some unresolved feelings.”

                The junior agent took a deep breath, wondering what his recent admission had to do with Doctor B.  “Sure, I’m angry.  His presence has disrupted my life and Jessica’s.  She doesn’t deserve all that crap that I’m dealing with right now.”

                Gordon picked his wine glass.  “Like most children of abandonment or less than ideal relationships with their parental units, I would imagine that as you aged there was the occasional fear of being left behind.  Especially when someone got close to you, much like I’m sure Mr. Kovacs has.”

                “My father was a selfish douchebag, Gordon.  He honestly did my mom and me a favor.”  Aubrey said unconvincingly.  “So why would I think things like that?”

                “Much like why Mr. Kovacs probably didn’t tell his wife about his past.  He was afraid that if she knew that it would drive her away.”

                “Well, I’m not afraid of Jessica leaving me.”  Aubrey said with an edge to his voice.

                “So neither one of you is scared of marriage because of your pasts?”  Gordon said before taking a bite of his beef.  “Neither one of you is afraid to fail the other and/or get left behind?”

                “Of course not.”  Jessica and Aubrey said at the same time.

                “That’s good you two, because we would hate you two to let being afraid affect you like it did Bones and I.”  Booth said.

                Gordon turned to the other couple.  “Indeed.  You two are a shining example of persevering over their pasts.  Even in the shadow of grief, you two are a unit.”

                “Grief?”  Brennan asked.  “What are you talking about?”

                “Over your father of course, Doctor Brennan.  You had such a complicated history with your father that I’m sure his loss was a great shock to both of you.”

                Brennan was prepared to talk about her past with Booth, not her father.  “I-it was.  Of course it was.  He was in excellent health after getting his pacemaker.”

                Gordon moved in.  “I think it’s wonderful that after the years apart that you were able to forgive him for leaving you and your brother the way he did.”

                Brennan didn’t look up as she cut more of her vegetarian entree.  “Yes, he was a complicated but wonderful man.  I have many years of memories of him and of some to pass on to Christine and Hank when they get older.”

                Booth felt like their plans were getting away from them.  He consented for Gordon to talk about his history with Bones, not bring up Max or other uncomfortable topics.  Wanting to take the spotlight away from his wife, Booth pressed forward.

                “You know I think we’ve spent enough time talking about Kovacs and Max.  How about Zack?  How well do you think he will acclimate to the outside world?”

                Gordon knew he hit a nerve with Booth.  However, he had to finish what they started.  “I think that it will be a life changing adjustment.  We talked about his family and he is unfortunately not on good terms with them.”

                “He isn’t?”  Brennan said.  “They were so warm and loving to him the time we were stuck in the lab on Christmas.”

                “Zack mentioned that time when I talked to him as one of the best memories he ever had.”  The former shrink said.  “However, his father is now deceased due to a heart attack.”

                “That is no surprise.”  Brennan replied.  “Zack mentioned more than once how his father‘s diet was one of high fat and cholesterol and he was very sedentary.  He once told me that when he father would be offered vegetables not deep fried or something healthy, he was say ‘I don’t eat food’s food.’”

                “He was picky.  Food…is food.”  Aubrey said.

                Brennan looked up at the younger agent before continuing.  “Between that and the heavy beer drinking, I’m surprised he lived as long as he did.”

                “He also said that after his conviction, his mother comforted herself with alcohol to the point she is now a full-fledged alcoholic.  Both parents blamed themselves for him being Gormogon’s apprentice.  The strain and his mother’s proclivities led to them becoming separated about six years ago.  I guess his siblings blame Zack for all this and they’ve shunned him.”

                “That’s so sad.”  Jessica said.  “It wasn’t his fault all that happened to his family.”

                “No, Jessica, it’s not.”  Gordon said.  “Unfortunately, his family needed a scapegoat and Doctor Addy is it.  The young lad blames himself.  He always wonders now if he should have stayed in Michigan like his family wanted him to.  That way none of this would have happened.”

                “That’s ridiculous.”  Booth said.  “Yeah, Zack became an apprentice to a serial killer.  However, it’s not his fault his mother turned to the bottle.  Nor is it his fault that his father didn’t take care of himself physically and died from a heart attack.”     

                “Yes, it’s interesting, isn’t it, Agent Booth?”  Gordon said, going in for the kill.  “A person has an event from his past make its way to the present, affecting not just them, but something precious to you such as an award, pride…person or persons.  Instead of blaming the resulting actions on the cause, someone takes it to heart and unnecessarily puts all the blame on themselves.”

                Booth began to feel nauseated from the topic.  “Well, Zack just shouldn’t blame himself.  What he did was wrong but his parents and family made their own decisions.  I’m a gambling addict.  I have to work on my sobriety every day.”

                Booth took a drink of his wine.  “Yes, I had trauma from the military and my childhood, but in the end, I was the one who chose to place that first bet.  Just like it was his father’s choice to eat all that crap and drink like a fish.  It was his mother’s choice to take refuge in booze.  No one forced their hands.  In the end, it’s the addict who makes the initial choice and it’s the addict who has to want help.  His family is wrong and need to get their heads smacked for saying that shit to Zack.”

                Gordon smiled.  He knew Booth for all his bluster cared for the awkward young man.  “Yes, I explained that if he wants to successfully integrate back into society, he needed to confront the fear…head on.  He has to face it, accept it, and then forgive himself before he can move on.  I fear that this Kovacs character will have to do the same.”

                “Forgive himself?”  Booth said.  “Gordon, his father murdered people and now he’s going after people I care about for revenge.”

                “Perhaps.”  The chef said before finishing his final bite of food.  “But he’s trying to rectify the wrong he perceives.”

                “That’s messed up.”  Aubrey said while eating, disturbed about where the evening was going. 

                “It’s not, Aubrey.  Mark Kovacs and Zack Addy are each plagued with survivor’s guilt that is manifesting in different ways.  Mr. Kovacs witnessed his father’s murder, a man whom he loved even though he was a war criminal who participated in ethnic cleaning.  Instead of staying behind, he came to this country as a child and a made a life for himself that his father could never have.  He cannot forgive himself until he eliminates what he sees as the cause of his pain.”

                “Mark Kovacs can wrap it up any way he wants, but he’s a murderer.”

                “I never said he wasn’t, Booth.  I’m just telling what I think the motivation is.”  Gordon said.  He knew he was stretching with the comparisons, but it had to be done.  “As for Zack, he hides behind his vast intelligence.  However, he’s afraid of…for lack of a better term… being vulnerable.  To him, his vulnerability caused him to do what he did, which led to his mother’s alcoholism and his father’s death.  Yes, to most people that conclusion is riddled with inconsistency and ludicrous.  However, it makes sense to him.  He also will not be able to move on until he can forgive himself for his actions and prepare for a life without his family.”

                The four sat across from each other, all stunned at what they heard.  Gordon could see the wheels turning in their heads.  Deciding that it was enough for the evening, he took the leftover food to the kitchen.

                “How about some Crème Brulee?”

                Three hours later, Booth came out of the bathroom after brushing his teeth.  He saw his wife reading her latest journal, but could see that she was staring at the page without reading it.

                “Bones, are you all right?”

                Brennan turned to her husband, startled.  “Yes, I’m fine.  I’m just reading an article from Ms. Warren’s professor at the Sorbonne.  His theories and research was why I recommended Ms. Warren for his class.  She has a theory about how osteoporosis and other diseases of the bone could alter kerf marks and bullet wounds.”

                “Can that happen?”  Booth asked as he took his robe off and threw it on the end of the bed.

                “It hasn’t been researched much but when she presented it to me as what she wanted to do as her dissertation, I approved it.  It’s a fascinating theory that could shape forensic anthropology in the future.  Even if it’s disproved, it will still set her apart from her peers when she obtains her PhD.”

                Booth got into bed.  He hesitated for a moment, but he needed to know.  “What did you think about what Gordon said…you know…about forgiving yourself?”

                “I think it has merit.”  Brennan said while trying to keep the swirling of emotions down.  “The past is the past.  You can’t change it.  You can only move forward.”

                “I agree.  It’s hard though, you know.  A person’s past should not dictate their future, especially if it affects the people you care about.”

                “One shouldn’t be afraid to confront it, either.”

                “Yeah.”  Booth said for lack of another response before deciding on a change of topic.  “So do you think either Gordon or us got through to Aubrey and Jessica?”

                “I don’t know, Booth.  Ms. Warren seemed very upset when she talked about her father.”

                Booth turned onto his side to face his wife.  “Well, Aubrey told me once that she’s very close to him.  I would imagine having to talk about his stroke upsets her.”

                “Her coldness when her mother was mentioned surprised me, Booth.  Ms. Warren has accomplished so much for a young woman her age and any mother would be proud.”

                “I know Bones, but not every mother is Mother of the Year.”  Booth said.

                “Has Aubrey said much about Ms. Warren’s family?”

                Booth shook his head.  “Regarding her mother and her parents' divorce, all he told me was they didn’t get along and she didn’t like to talk about it.  Then he changed the subject.”

                “Do you think Aubrey knows everything?”

                “Yes, but she’s his girlfriend, Bones.  He loves and respects her too much to break a confidence she told him.”

                “At least her father is still alive and she can visit him when she can.”  Brennan said with a sigh.  “Aubrey was quite upset when his father came up as well.”

                “Well Bones, I think his father has a great deal to do with why he is reluctant to fully commit to Jessica, or anyone.  He’s got to confront what that SOB did to him.”

                “Much like what you did with your mother when she found you, Booth?”  Brennan said.

                “Yeah.  It hurt when I found out about Reggie’s kids, but once I did that…I could move forward.”  Booth said.  How about things with Max?  I know it still hurts you, Bones.”

                “It hurts you, too, Booth.”

                Refusing to put his pain in league with his wife’s he pushed it away.  “Not like yours, Bones.  That man loved you so much that he gave up his shady ways and protected our children.  I’m grateful that we had him in our lives when we did.”

                Feelings of guilt and anger washed over Brennan at that point.  She couldn’t speak them out loud but the tears fell.  “Booth, can you hold me?” 

                The agent didn’t answer, but instead just laid on his back and pulled his wife close to him as he tears fell.  He shut off the light and wiped one away of his own.  As minutes past, the two laid there, their thoughts tangled up in emotion and Gordon’s words earlier in the evening.  Their goal was to help Aubrey and Jessica, but other things were on their minds now.

                Jessica woke up in the dark, frustrated in her attempts to sleep once again.  Aubrey felt guilty for leaving Skinner to his own devices with Gordon, so she readily agreed to spend the night with him at his apartment.  According to Aubrey, Gordon was out of there until tomorrow morning.

                She turned to snuggle with Aubrey but was surprised that his side was empty.  Sitting up, she put on her Winnie the Pooh slippers and searched his spare bedroom and bathroom to no avail.  Heading out into the open area, she found him in the living room on his laptop. 

                “Superman, it’s 2:30 in the morning.  Why are you up?”

                She got no response as he was engrossed in what he was watching.  When she got closer and looked, she saw it was an old newscast on YouTube.

                “FBI has no new leads on the location of Phillip J. Aubrey, who disappeared Friday night while on bail.  Aubrey is accused of bilking clients of his stock firm of over 14.6 million dollars.  So far none of that money has been recovered.”

                “Aubrey, why are you watching old newscasts about your father?”

                Startled, Aubrey paused the footage.  “Jessica, why are you up?”

                “I just asked you the same thing but you were in the zone.  Why are you up at this hour and why are you watching these old stories about your father?”

                “I don’t know.”

                Jessica walked around and took the laptop from Aubrey’s lap before setting it on the table.  Sitting next to him, she put her arms around her boyfriend and he did the same with her.  The couple sat in the quiet for a few minutes, lost in their thoughts.

                “Tonight was kind of wild, huh?”  The agent said.

                “Yeah.  All that talk about our parents really…was more than I had anticipated.”

                Aubrey remembered the thing that had been nagging him since Wednesday.  He didn’t want to cause a fight, but he couldn’t let it rest.  Deciding it would be better to get it over with, he spoke up.

                “Jess, why didn’t you tell me about the guys from Investigation Discovery showing up at the Jeffersonian during Cam’s shower?”

                Jessica stiffened.  She didn’t want to burden Aubrey because once the subject came up he always went on an apology streak.  “I didn’t want to upset you.  I didn’t think it was important.”

                Aubrey sat up suddenly.  “Not important?  Jessica, if someone is harassing you, I need to know so I can take care of it.”

                “It’s not your job to take care of me, Aubrey.  I dealt with the situation, okay?  Doctor B and I let security know and I haven’t had any issues since.  We’re just racking our brains trying to find out how they got in.  Please don’t get upset about it.”

                Aubrey wanted to yell, but he knew it wouldn’t do a bit of good.  “Fine, but don’t lie to me about this stuff again, all right?  You know how I feel about that.”

                “I do, but you know how I feel about you ‘protecting’ me from this shit.”  Jessica retorted with quotation marks at ‘protecting’.  “I had to find out from the asshole that your father is doing an interview.  Why didn’t you didn’t see fit to tell me, Aubrey?”

                “Because it’s my problem, not yours.”

                “You’re wrong.  It’s my problem because it’s hurting you.  I love you and I want to help you, but you have to talk to me.”

                Aubrey wiped the single tear from his eye.  “Okay.  New topic.  Tonight with Booth and Brennan.  How do you think it went?”

                Jessica pushed down the frustration at his deflection.  “Honestly, I think it was as subtle as a Mack Truck, but I think he had to do that so Doctor B and Booth can help each other.”

                “I hope it does, Jess.”

                “Me, too.”  Jessica said.

                Jessica laid back down with Aubrey on the couch, both struggling with internal conflict.  They wanted to help Booth and Brennan but it seemed a can of worms of their own was opened.  Not wanting to burden the other, they eventually fell asleep together. 

Chapter Text

                Brennan and Booth were sound asleep at 5:30 AM when suddenly the anthropologist’s eyes opened in realization.  She knew why her husband was shying away from sexual intercourse with her.  It was the only logical explanation. 

                Getting up quietly, she tip toed out of their bedroom and out to her office.  Turning on her laptop, she Googled her search topic.  Like the scientist she was, she studied all credible sites and each seemed to back up her initial hypothesis.

                Her conclusion drawn, she printed off pertinent information.  Gathering each article, she stapled them before highlighting important passages with her green highlighter.  When done, she shut down her laptop and walked out into the kitchen, where she used her new knowledge while preparing breakfast.  When done, she sat down with her cup of coffee and tablet to wait for her husband to wake up.

                The solution to their intimacy issue was right in her head all along.  How she didn’t figure it out until ninety minutes ago was just beyond her.  Now that she had information, Booth had the right tools to succeed and she would support him all the way.

                Jessica woke up with a start before seeing her boyfriend soundly asleep next to her on the couch.  Seeing that it was still dark out, she laid back down with him to go to sleep.  However, slumber eluded her as she recalled dinner last night.

                She and Aubrey consented to talk about their parents only if needed, but the chef seemed to dwell on their relationships with their parents.  Even his initial toast struck a nerve, but she was sure it wasn’t intentional.  What stuck out like a sore thumb was her boyfriend’s bristled reaction when he was compared to Mark Kovacs.

                He said he wasn’t concerned about being abandoned, but now she wondered.  Is that why he always kept things about his father from her? 

                Of course he told her when he was spotted and his arrest.  However, more than once, he emphasized to her that he would never take off on her like his father did.  Each time he had done that lately, she did her best to reassure him that she knew that because he wasn’t his father.  Her Superman was ten times the man Philip Aubrey never was.

                Jessica closed her eyes for a moment to attempt sleep again, but something nibbled on her toes.  Waking up, she saw Skinner on the edge of the couch.  Knowing there was more to come, she quietly got up, went to the kitchen, and fed the cat.  

                When his water was changed, Jessica sat down at the small center island.  She felt at war inside herself.  On one hand, she was frustrated with Aubrey’s seemingly need to shut her out in regards to his father.  She found that it hurt her more than she would have thought.

                But the thought he was scared that she would dump him over something he had no control over upset her a great deal.  She racked her brain in trying to figure out how she gave the impression she would cut and run on him.  She had issues with commitment…that she wouldn’t deny.  Sometimes it terrified her to the core.  It didn’t help her flight tendencies to consider that he might be thinking she was shallow like that.

                But on the other hand, committing to her best friend seemed like the easiest, most natural thing in the world.  More than once, she pictured them together.  Some visions were of just them.  Others were of them raising a brood of genius, bottomless pit nerds with a healthy appreciation of Star Wars and Sci-Fi classics.

                Jessica knew her reputation with Sweets preceded her, but Aubrey was different because he didn’t listen to gossip.  Surely by now, he knew she was serious about their relationship. 

                Unsure of what to do, Jessica continued to sit at the table alone in a debate with herself.

                “I’m sorry, Max.  I didn’t know…”

                “You killed me, you son of a bitch.”

                “I was just following orders, Max.”

                “You were just following orders?  I trusted you with Tempe and this is the thanks I get?  Three holes in the chest and I get to watch my daughter and grandchildren get stalked by some kid pissed off you offed his dad?”

                “His father was committing genocide.”

                “Don’t give me that shit.  You didn’t have to join the damn Army.  You didn’t have to join the FBI.  You didn’t have to fall in love with my daughter.  Now thanks to you I can’t protect her since you failed her miserably.”

                “Max I love Bones.  I will protect her.”

                “Because of you, she and the kids are going to be killed.  Murderer!”

                “No Max—“

                “Murderer!  Murderer!  Murderer!”


                Booth woke up with a start.  Wiping his forehead with his shirt, he looked at the time and saw that it was 7:30 AM.  His eyes bugged out before he remembered that his kids spent the night with Hodgins and Angela.  Turning over, he saw the empty space where his wife usually slept.

                Looking down, he saw his hands were slightly shaking.  He took a deep breath to steady his nerves like he used to as a Ranger.  When he felt himself on an even keel, he sat up and stretched his back and feet.  When all the cracks were done, he stood up and made up the bed before walking out into the kitchen.

                On the center island, he saw his wife eating a bowl of oatmeal while reading her tablet.  Next to her he saw another bowl with silverware and a bowl.  Then it hit him. 

                Bones was up to something.

                “Good morning, Booth.”  Brennan said as she took the bowl.  “I’ll get you some oatmeal and coffee.”

                “Thanks.”  Booth said. 

                As he sat down, he saw brochures and printed web pages nearby.  Before he could look further, Brennan set down his breakfast and coffee.  “Here you go, Booth.”

                The agent looked at his oatmeal.  “Bones, where’s the maple syrup?”

                The anthropologist brought over a bowl of strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, and blackberries.  “Maple syrup is high in sugar, Booth.  You had pancakes three times last week, including yesterday.  Here’s have some berries.”

                Booth put a mix of berries in his oatmeal and tried it.  It wasn’t bad, but still bland compared to the maple syrup he liked to use.  “Bones, can I have a small amount of syrup please?”

                “No, because we need to talk about your reluctance to make love.”

                Booth felt nausea intermixed with confusion.  “Bones, what does lovemaking have to do with wanting maple syrup in my oatmeal?”

                The forensic anthropologist looked her husband in the eye while remaining behind the counter.  She needed the space not just for her presentation but also for courage.  Taking the pile of articles, she began her case.

                “I’ve tried to initiate sexual relations three days in a row, Booth, but each time there’s an excuse.  You move your hand away when I touch your leg.  You had to go to a scene that you could have easily called Aubrey for and in the past would have.  You got severely inebriated at Cam’s wedding Friday night when I mentioned us making love when we got home.”

                “Bones, what are you getting at?”

                “I saw the interest when you saw me half naked in only your FBI shirt a few nights ago.  When I mentioned wearing the lilac purple lingerie that I wore to your mother’s wedding, your pupils dilated and your respiration increased.  You want to make love to me, Booth but you avoid it.”

                Brennan took the stack of articles in her arms and spread them in front of her husband.  “The only thing I can conclude is you have erectile dysfunction and you’re ashamed to talk to me about it.”

                Booth didn’t know whether to be surprised, embarrassed, or both.  “Uh…”

                “Booth, this is nothing to be self-conscious about.”  Brennan said as she came around the counter.

                “Bones…”  The agent said while closing his eyes, hoping this was another nightmare.

                Grabbing one of the articles, she flipped pages until she found one of her highlighted passages.   “According to this study, ED can hit men in their mid-40s.  It’s more common in diabetics than non-diabetics, but possible.  Especially with your diet of red meat and French fries at lunch."

                The agent couldn’t believe what he was hearing.  “Bones, my sniper works just fine.”

                Brennan couldn’t understand his denial.  “Booth, it’s all right.  I’ll help you.  Now, the berries in this oatmeal are full of flavonoids, which help promote blood flow.  In turn, it lowers blood pressure which supports increased blood flow to the penis which assists with erections.”

                The agent’s head was spinning.  “Bones—“

                “I found more in my research, Booth.”  Brennan said before grabbing another packet.  “Here is research on Viagra and Cialis and both are covered by our health insurance.  I also found—“

                Between the rawness of his nightmare and humiliation from his wife lecturing him about this particular subject, Booth felt himself snap.  “Jesus Bones, I don’t have a problem with getting it up!” 

                Brennan watched her husband storm back towards the bedrooms.  Following him, she listened and searched until she found him changing into his jogging clothes.  “Booth, where are you going?”

                He hated leaving her during an argument but he had to get out of there.  “Bones, I’m going for a run and then to the office for a while.  I-I’ll be home later.”

                “But Booth—“

                The former Ranger finished packing before seeing his wife.  He hated the look in her eyes, but he needed to escape…now.  “Bones, I’ll call you later and I’ll pick up the kids from Hodgins and Angela’s.”

                Giving her a kiss, he grabbed his wallet and packed gym bag before heading out the door.  Booth couldn’t tell her the truth and risk hearing that she did blame him.  He just wasn’t ready to talk about her misdiagnosis of his erectile dysfunction either. 

                Aubrey opened his eyes to the brightness of the sun.  Blinking, he realized that he was in his living room.  Looking around, he saw a blanket on him, but no girlfriend.

                “Jessica?” He asked sleepily.


                Aubrey turned and saw his girlfriend dressed as she walked over to the dining room table and put her shoes on.  “Where are you going?”

                Jessica looked up for a moment.  “I was going to leave you a note before I kissed you goodbye.  I have to go home and work on my dissertation today.”

                The tone of his girlfriend’s voice set him on edge.  “I thought you worked on it yesterday.”

                Jessica realized that she sounded touchier than she meant to.  Not looking him in the eye, she finished putting her shoes on.  “I did but I want to do some work at the lab later today, too.”

                Aubrey knew her tells and they were screaming.  He got up and headed the few steps to his girlfriend.  “What’s wrong, Jessica?”

                “Nothing.”  Jessica said as she checked her phone.  “I-I just have a lot to do, Aubrey.”

                Aubrey stood and saw how she wasn’t looking him in the eye.  “Bullshit.  What’s wrong?”

                Jessica knew she was busted.  However, the last 24 hours had given her a lot to think about and she needed to do that.  Alone.  She wasn’t ready to talk about things.  

               “Nothing, all right.” Jessica said in a shaky tone.  “I’ve fed Skinner and I started coffee for you.  I-I’ll call you tonight, okay?”

                The agent heard the catch in her voice.  “Jess, your voice is shaky and you’re not looking me in the eye.  Now I’m not letting you leave here until I get an explanation of what’s going on.  Now.”

                Jessica was tired, out of sorts, and needed space.  At her breaking point, she snapped.  “What’s wrong is my boyfriend won’t get out of my face!  That’s what’s wrong.  Now get out of my way, James!”

                To the agent’s surprise, Jessica pushed him out of the way, grabbed her coat, and stormed out of his apartment.  He considered chasing after her, but the look in her eyes scared him.    

                Then the name.  She only called him James when they made love…or when she was very angry.  He preferred hearing it when they were close as opposed to anger.

                Then it hit him.  Was she still upset about their fight earlier?  He was still angry about her keeping from him what happened to her at the Jeffersonian.  Now, he knows he could’ve handled it better.  Even more, perhaps he should have talked to her about it later instead of the middle of the night after an emotionally charged evening.

                Of course, she hit a nerve when she brought up the fact he never told her about the interview.  Didn’t she understand that he wanted to keep that ugliness from her?  She was the best thing to happen to him and he didn’t want to risk losing her.

                But would he, though?  He remembered what she said to him several hours ago

                Why didn’t you didn’t see fit to tell me, Aubrey?”

                “Because it’s my problem, not yours.”

                “You’re wrong.  It’s my problem because it’s hurting you.  I love you and I want to help you, but you have to talk to me.”

            What did he say when she said this?  Of course, his brilliant self changed the subject.  What would he feel like if she did the same to him?  Like shit of course…because he would be shut out.

                Then he remembered Gordon’s words at dinner.  Being compared to Mark Kovacs really, really pissed him off.  However, the chef’s words about the man afraid of revealing his true self to his wife struck a nerve he didn’t want to admit to at dinner.

                Jessica was his best friend and she accepted him for who he was, warts and all.  However, is he afraid of being left behind?  Has he been testing her this entire time without realizing it?

                Aubrey had no answers, only a jumbled mess in his head.  Deciding maybe some coffee could help, he got up and headed to the kitchen.  He was in there when he heard his door unlock.  Hoping it was Jessica, he dropped the cup and sprinted for the door.

                “Jess, hey I—oh hi, Gordon.”

                “Aubrey…I see your morning was as good as mine.”

                “I don’t know…want to compare notes?”  The younger man sarcastically said.

                “If I can get some of that coffee.”  Gordon said as he took his coat off.

                “No tea?”

                “No, I’ve had enough this morning, Aubrey.  As you Americans say, fill it up.”

                Aubrey took another cup down and filled it along with his own.  Bringing it to the other man, they sat at the table and sipped quietly, lost in their own thoughts.

                Booth ran throughout the length of Rock Creek Park, alternating between frustration and embarrassment at Bones’ ambush this morning.

                His sniper always worked.  Never once did it let him down.  He would be turning 46 in May.  No way in hell was he old enough to need Cialis or that Viagra shit.  Sure, he was avoiding her, but to come to that conclusion?

                As he started down the detour part of the trail, he realized that of course she would.  Bones was in the end a scientist.  Their sex life has always been active, except during the time when he broke the engagement because of Pelant.  His wife would always go towards a rational conclusion first.

                She also drew this conclusion because he was too chicken shit to tell her the truth.  How did he tell her?  How could he ask her?

                ‘Bones please forgive me for murdering your father so we can make love again?’

                You don’t ask your grieving wife for something like that until you can bring her justice.  That was something he had planned.  When he could defeat Kovacs, he could move forward.

                Then his thoughts drifted towards dinner last night.  Gordon pushed his buttons more than once.  He was supposed to use his past with Bones to help the younger couple but instead Kovacs and his past came up.  The murderer was compared to Zack for crying out loud.

                Zack is guilty of being an accomplice to murder.  That was not in dispute.  However, his family’s implication that it was his action alone that caused the death of his father and his mother’s descent into alcoholism was bullshit.  His father made the choice to not take care of himself.  His mother made the choice to take comfort in booze.

                Mark Kovacs may have survivor’s guilt from surviving in Bosnia and moving on while his mother was left behind and his father died.  However, instead of using his second chance, he chose a path of destruction and evil, just like his father did.  Kovacs could blame him all he wanted, but in the end, the paramedic made his own choices.

                When he felt his feet start to ache, he knew his run was done for the day.  It was then he realized that he ran all of the hiking trails in his daze.  No wonder his body was rebelling.

                Walking to his truck, he got in and relaxed for a moment before grabbing his bottle of water.  When his fluids were replenished, Booth contemplated what he wanted to do.  He wasn’t ready to talk to his wife yet because his thoughts were all over the place.

                Then he figured out what to do.  It had always worked before and maybe it would now.  Starting up his vehicle, he headed out.

Chapter Text

               Jessica wiped away a tear as she drove with no route or destination in mind.  Her guilt for yelling at Aubrey ate at her and she owed him a huge apology later.  As she continued driving, her thoughts drifted towards her boyfriend.

                Aubrey confided in her about what life was like after his father left and some of the stories brought her to tears.  While he and his mother were free of his thoughtless and judgmental treatment, he closed out their bank accounts and took every penny the family had before taking off for Croatia.  He transferred schools but some students realized who he was and their reactions ranged from shunning to bullying him. 

                She was pissed when he told her about a college girlfriend who broke up with him once he told her about his father.  Her family was well to do and she didn’t want to be associated with a criminal’s son.  He had strong feelings for her and being dumped that way hurt, so he kept relationships casual after that while concentrating on his career.

                She knew what hurt Aubrey the most was how his mother was affected.  Things were strained with her family after she married Philip Aubrey and they didn’t offer up much support besides ‘I told you so’ when her husband’s crimes came out.  It saddened her when he told her of how his mother shied away from relationships because she was too afraid to risk being hurt again.

                Once again, she was confused.  He would tell her things he didn’t tell anyone else, but shut her out when it came to his dad.  Just because they weren’t getting married didn’t mean Philip Aubrey’s presence wouldn’t be part of her life as well.

                Then Jessica had a thought.  Was this part of the reason Aubrey didn’t want to get married?  Was he afraid of her leaving him someday?  Or was he afraid he was like his father deep down?

                But wasn’t she afraid, too?  Commitment was a big step she never took with anyone.  The FBI agent was the first man she even thought about planning a future with.

                Then she remembered Aubrey at the wedding.  Catching the bouquet spooked her, but she wasn’t the one who reacted by getting inebriated.  It hurt her deeply to have him react that way to marrying her.

                But she loved Aubrey enough to bring him to meet her father two months ago.  He was the first man she brought to meet her family and they became fast friends.  She had a quick chuckle as she remembered how they bonded over film noir, in particular Rita Hayworth movies.

                She last talked to her mother about six months ago when she moved to South Carolina.  Her contact with her children was sporadic, but it was for the best as she needed more help than the family could give her.  If she had her way, Aubrey would never meet her.  However, she knew the time would come and she dreaded it.

                She was afraid of doing to Aubrey what her mother always did to their family.  She didn’t want them to hate each other years down the road.  To lose her best friend would be devastating and there would never be another man for her.

                But if they were both holding back out of fear, weren’t they going to lose each other someday anyway?

                Her thoughts raced as she turned on New York Avenue, crossing the border into Maryland and eventually merging onto MD 250.  It wasn’t until she saw the sign welcoming her into Towson that she realized where she was going. 

                Less than ten minutes later, she arrived at her destination.  Walking past the beautiful front garden, she entered the front doors and was spotted by the front desk person.

                “Miss Jessica.  This is an unexpected surprise.”

                The redhead walked up to the older woman.  “Hello Janeen.  I know I usually come on Saturdays, but I felt like a visit today.  Do you think he’s up for company?”

                “For you, he’s always up for company.  Let me call the nurse.”

                Jessica looked around at the homey walls.  Nearby, one of the residents was walking a German Shepherd that she knew as one of the therapy dogs.  She smiled, grateful that her father could live his days in a wonderful home like this.


                The anthropologist turned, saw her favorite nurse, and walked over to her.  “Hi Gail.”

                The two women got through the initial set of doors and headed down a hallway.  As they walked through another set of doors, Jessica turned to the other woman. “So how has he been doing?  Is he still having the incontinence issue?”

                “There has been some improvement, but he’s still stubborn about drinking the water the doctor recommended.  However, his blood pressure is stable, he’s eating normally, and he’s his charming self.  Maybe you two can have a drink together.”

                “Can he have coffee if he drinks water afterwards?  We both know he’ll want coffee.”

                “I think we can handle that.  Just let me know.”  Gail responded. 

                “Thank you so much.”  Jessica responded.

                “So, an unscheduled visit.  Any special occasion?”  Gail asked.  “Anything to do with that young man you brought here to meet your dad?”

                Jessica felt nausea in her stomach at the mention of Aubrey, but pushed it down.  “No, just wanted to see him.  My studies have been crazy of late and I got some free time.”

                The two women entered the main room and Jessica immediately saw her father’s red hair as it was bent over playing cards with three other men.  Making sure to walk over to his left side, she came around and gave him a kiss. 

                “Hey, a…picky…”  Charles hesitated, thinking of the right word.  “…pretty girl…kissing…me.”

                “Hi Dad.”

                “Well…this…is…unexpla…unexpress…treat.”  Charles said before turning to his friends. “S…sorry…boys…got…better…plans.”

                Charles lifted his 6’3” body up and turned to his daughter.  “Want…to…walk…to gar…den…room?”

                “Yes, that sounds nice.”  The redhead said.

                Jessica stood on his right side to help him if needed due to his impaired vision.  However, she knew how proud he was so she stuck close as they walked slowly to a room with several plants and flowers about.  The large picture window had a gorgeous view of the grounds.

                “Do you want something to drink, Dad?  The doctor said you need to drink more.”

                The older man sighed.  He knew better than to fight his little girl.  “Yes…coffee.”

                “If you promise me to drink water afterwards.”  Jessica said.  “Don’t lie, Dad.  I know when you lie.  We redheads can’t hide it.”

                “I…promise…J-Jessie.”  Charles said with a slightly lopsided smile.

                Jessica turned and found Gail, who returned a minute later with two small Styrofoam cups of coffee.  The nurse gave the one with the lid and straw to Charles before giving Jessica the other with a small bottle of cinnamon.

                “I snuck you some of the good creamer we have for the staff.  I have to take the cinnamon with me though.  Your young man convinced everyone to try it in their coffee and it’s a hot commodity now.”

                “No problem.  I’ll just shake some in.”  Jessica said before giving it back.  “Thanks a lot.”

                “Did you…give…me…real…coffee…Sweetheart?”

                The African American woman turned to Charles.  “You got the decaf you’re supposed to have due to your high blood pressure.  However, I may or may not have mixed a small amount of regular in.”

                “I’m…told…you…get…gestated…”  The redheaded man pursed his lip thinking of the right word.  “Divorced…so…we…can…run…off.”

                “Sorry, Charlie.  However, you just keep trying you smooth talker.”  Gail said before leaving.

                Jessica chuckled. “You’re such a flirt.”

                “Just…a…fine…affection…for…littles…ladies.”  Charles said before they enjoyed their beverages for a moment.  “Now…why…did…you…come…see…me…early…Jessie?”

                ‘Damn.’  Jessica thought.  “Can’t a daughter come see her father?”

                “No…because…I…know…when…you…lie…too…young…lady.”  The redheaded man looked back at her with his green eyes.  “What’s…wrong?”

                Jessica took a deep breath and told her father about her and Aubrey’s plan to help Booth and Brennan, what happened with the researcher for Philip Aubrey’s interview, their decision to not get married, and about Aubrey getting drunk at the wedding.  She kept her terms as simple as she could, knowing her father’s attention span could be affected sometimes.  When she finished, she took a drink of her coffee.


                “Yeah.”  The redhead said.  She took a breath to get the courage to ask what she wanted next.  “Dad, do you regret marrying Mom?”


                Jessica snickered.  The stroke may have impaired his speech, but it didn’t take away his directness.  “One that I need answered.”

                Charles didn’t hesitate.  “No…I…don’t…Jessie.”

                Shocked, Jessica sat up straight.  “But…she was sick and…she was so…”

                “Discontin….Discontented…miserable…residen….resentful?”  Charles said in a tone with sadness.  “Yes…she…was…all…that.” 

                “But if you could turn back the clock, would you marry her again?  Have six children with her before divorcing her after 32 years of marriage?  Doesn’t it seem like…you could have done better things with your life?  You would have been happier, that’s for sure.”

                “Maybe…not…have…a…stroke…is…what…you…mean.”  Charles with a sound that resembled a laugh.  “She…wasn’t…always…like…that.  We…laved…loved…each…other…once.  She…was…also…sick.  Biped…bipolar…disorder…options…”

                 “She made you miserable.”  The anthropologist said.  “She always blamed you or us for things going bad for her when she wasn’t having one of her manic episodes or mega depressed.”

                Charles moved his left hand to his daughter’s.  “Not…blameless.  Put…self…first.  And…career.  Also…”

                Jessica waited for him to continue but realized she may have been taxing him out.  Feeling guilty, she grabbed her purse.  “Dad, I’m pushing you.  I’m sorry.  I can talk to you about this later—“

                “Simmer…down…Jessie.  Give…your…old…man…a…minute.”   The former professor replied.  “Things…were…different…back…then.  I…thought…my…love…alone…be…enough.  Your mom…needed…more….just…like…you…do.”

                Jessica was taken aback.  “I don’t have Bipolar II Disorder, Dad.”

                Charles sipped his coffee through the straw.  “No…but…you…want…career…and…family…”

                “No Dad, I don’t need a family—“

                “Bull…shit.  Audr…Au…James…loves…you.  Obliv…obvious.  Wants…to…” Charles struggled for a moment before finding the words.  “...m-marry…you…someday.”

                The redhead was unsure.  “Dad, he saw me catch the bouquet before getting completely shit faced with his friends two nights ago.”


                “I was in shock, so Andie and Daisy got me a shot of Tequila…”  Jessica trailed off as she realized something.  “Oh shit…Aubrey saw me freak…”

                “He…was…probably…afraid…of…your…reaction.  You…know…what…they…say…”

                “Catch the bouquet and you’re next to get married.  I know, but that’s just superstition.”


                Jessica set her cooling coffee down as she recalled Aubrey’s declaration to her several weeks earlier.  “But Dad, don’t you think her accepting was a knee jerk reaction?  She lost her parents a month before and you’ve said how sad she was.  Emotions can make you do crazy things.”

                “Maybe…if…I…asked…her…right…away.  We…loved…each…other…Jessie.”  Charles said while fiddling with his cane.  “But…have…to…neuter…nurture…love…respect…partner’s…needs.  We…didn’t…do…that.”

                The older man saw the conflict in his daughter’s eyes.  “You…will…with…James…”

                The damn finally burst as a tear came down Jessica’s face.  She wiped it away before her father handed her a kerchief.  “Thank you.”


                “Yes.”  The redhead said as she wiped her eyes.  “How do you know?”

               "Because…saw…how…he…looks…at…you.”  Charles said while leaning back in his chair.  “He…visited…me…and…we…talked…about…you…” 

               The redhead's eyes got large.  “He visited you without me?”

                “Yes.  He…wants…to…do…right…by…you.”  The older man replied before taking a drink.  “He…worries…that…you…deserve…better.”

                “Better that what?  Him?”  Jessica asked concerned.  “Why?”

                “Worries…about…his…father…hurting…you…or…career.”  Charles said before his good hand squeezed his daughter’s.  “He…doesn’t…want…to…let…you…down.”

                Jessica was confused.  “He’s irritated me sometimes, but I’ve done the same to him.  We always work it out.”

                “Jessie…he…doesn’t…want…to…spock…spook…you.”  Charles said before taking a breath.  “You’re…his…best…friend…and…first…girl…he’s…ever…truly…loved.  Can’t…lose…you.”

                The anthropologist sat in shock.  Aubrey had relationships in the past, but knowing he felt that way moved her because she knew she felt the same.  “I worry…”


                Jessica wiped away another stray tear.  “I worry that I could be a hindrance to him in the future because he wants to move up in the FBI.  I also worry…that we will fail and hate each other like you and Mom hate each other—“


                Shocked, the redhead thought for a minute.  “But she was always so bitter, even when she was on her meds.  The way you two argued...”

                “Mom…bitter…about…life...and…limitations.  One…of…Eleanor’s…wilted…weaknesses…”  Charles struggled before continuing.  “…was…not…accepting…fault…for…failures…she…did.”

                The older man sucked his coffee through the straw.  “She…felt…deserved…more.  Mom…never…accepted…she…couldn’t…always…get…what…she…wanted.  Some…of…due…to…illness.  Some…resentful…of…life…”

                He put the cup down before squeezing his daughter’s hand again.  “You…asked…question.  Would I…marry…Mom…again?  Yes…Jessie…I…would.  If…not…no…memories.  Of…good…times.  No…sons…or…my…special…girl.  Only…reg…reb…regret…not…leaving…with…you…sooner.  Can’t…a...say…sorry…too…”

                The redhead man thought for a moment as his daughter sat quietly.  “Too…much.  I…blame…myself…always…for…what…happened…”

                Jessica immediately knew what he was talking about.  “Dad…don’t—“

                “I…do.  I…loved…her…but…illness…out…of…control.  You…got…hurt.”

                Jessica squeezed back.  “I’m fine, Dad.  I lived.  I’ve moved on.”

                 “No…not…moved…on.  Move…on…when...”  Charles looked at his only daughter and smiled.  “Move…on…when…honest…with…James.  You…love…him.  Scared…like…he…is.  Be…scared…together.  Get…married…have…family…kick…ass…fighting…crime…”

                Jessica had the first genuine laugh of the morning.  Her father could make her laugh when no one else could.

                No, that wasn’t correct.  Aubrey could do the same.  She remembered the day she had a stressful day in school and she was cranky to everyone, including him.  How did he respond?

                As only a loving boyfriend could.  He took her attention away from her dissertation.  Annoyed, she looked up to see her boyfriend mooning her.  Next, he shook his ass while singing along to ‘I Touch Myself’ by the Divinyls playing on his phone.  She remembered almost peeing her pants from laughing so hard.  When he was done, she asked what had possessed him to do that.  His answer was simple.

                ‘I wanted to make you laugh, Jess.  I wanted you to be able to smile at least once today.  But whatever you do, never tell Booth or anyone about this.’

                She kept her promise to him.  As she considered things, her thoughts were interrupted.

                “Go…to…lab…and…work.  Work…on…dissertation.  Get…distressed…distracted.  Then…you…can…talk…to…James…when…you…have…thoughts…together.”

                “That’s a good idea.”  Jessica said.

                It was then she saw Gail coming into the room holding something.  When the object was placed in her hand, she smiled and thanked her.  Taking the straw out of the wrapper, she put it in the bottled water and set it in her father’s left hand.

                “I’ll do that when you drink your water that you promised to consume.”

                Charles knew he was beat.  “Stubborn…girl.  When…did…you…get…so…smart?”

                “Inherited it from the smartest man I know.”  Jessica said.

                An hour later, Jessica walked out of the nursing home with a smile.  Her father drank his water as promised.  After promising she would let him know during her regular visit next Saturday how things went, he went to take his nap as he was exhausted.

                As she got in her vehicle, she felt a buzz through her purse.  Closing the door, she opened it and took out her phone.  On it were six text messages, two from her brothers Stephan and Aaron.  She read them and felt guilt.

                Stephan’s was the following.  Bf called worried sick abt u hoping u were here.  Call him.              

                Aaron’s made her chuckle.  Aubrey sent msg asking if u wr here.  Said u had fight.  Do I need 2 send Nadia 2 set him str8?  If not call him.

                Then she saw the other messages, all from Aubrey. 

                Jess, sorry abt being dick earlier. 

                Jess, plz call me so I kno u r all rite.

                It’s 10A & haven’t heard from u in almost 3 hrs.  Worried.  R u ok?

                Then she saw the last message and he got her.

                Sent texts 2 yr bros, Andie, Daisy, Brennan.  Skinner & I scard.  Plz let us know u r ok.

                He knew how much she liked Skinner and it was her weakness.  Looking at the time, she realized that later than she had thought.  Tapping the reply box, she sent the following message.

                Tell Skinner I’m all rite.  Need 2 think 4 a while.  Going 2 work at lab.  TTYL.

                After plugging in her phone and starting her Amazon Music app, she left the assisted living home.  She stopped for gas and was in the middle of pumping when she felt her phone buzz again.  When she saw the message, it was a surprise.

                You may want to let Aubrey know that you are all right.  He was very worried about you, Ms. Warren.

                Embarrassed, she replied to her mentor.  Sorry Dr B.  Just let him know.  Going 2 lab 2 work on dissertation.

                She barely put her phone down when she got another message.  Picking it up, she read it.

                That is fine.  I’m there now as well.  If you have time to spare perhaps you can help me with reexamining the remains of Kovac’s victims and evidence.

                Honored that she was asked to help, Jessica responded with an enthusiastic yes and offered to bring lunch.  After Brennan responded with an affirmative and her order, the redhead drove back to Washington.  With the emotional distress she was under, work was the best thing for her right now.


                Several gunshot blasts filled the air as the target developed holes in the bullseye area.  On the other side, Booth hit the button to bring the target to him.  As expected there were all dead center.  After loading another target, he sent it back.  Loading his weapon, he shot again, getting similar results.

                His original plans an hour ago when he arrived at the Hoover was to tackle the punching bag in the gym.  Unfortunately, it was already in use, as was the other boxing equipment.  Not willing to wait, he took a shower in the locker room and decided to use the firing range instead.

                As he repeated the cycle, thoughts of last night’s dinner replayed in his head, starting with Gordon’s second toast, particularly the last three sentences.

              “It’s a force that can bring a single event from the past into your present and bring complications that seem almost insurmountable.  It can also cause great pain when something, or someone you care for leaves your world.  However, with great courage and insight, you can confront that which causes you adversity and move forward to great moments in your lifetime.”

                Each time he thought of it, he would picture Max all over again in that stretcher.  The man who cheated death by getting a pacemaker thought nothing of getting in front of two assassins trying to murder his grandchildren and shooting them dead before taking three bullets to the chest.  He felt a tear go down her face as he thought of the last conversation they had, when he left Max to be confronted by Bones about his health.  For all his crimes, the elderly man loved his family very much…even him.

                Max let himself be jailed for his crimes to be close to his daughter again.  He responded to her earned mistrust with patience and understanding.  He helped on a pivotal murder case right after he and Bones got together.  The man shaped his shit up to be their daycare provider so he could spend time with his granddaughter and later grandson.  

                Soon after he and Bones were re-engaged, the two men talked about true love and Booth asked his future father in law about romantic prospects.  Max’s words never left him.

                ‘Son, I have lady friends that nice to be with when you don’t want to be alone and everything still works.  However, there will never be another wife or steady girlfriend.  I had one once and she was the love of my life.  If we had made different choices we would be here together, dotting on our grandchildren and traveling, but we didn’t.  Instead I spent as much time as I can with Tempe and you guys or travel to see Russ and the girls because…it’s the closest I’ll be to her until I get to see their mother again.  When that happens, I promise you, Booth that I’ll never let her go again.’

                “Well Max, I hope you got your wish.”  Booth replied before aiming and taking the shots.  While they were in the center, none hit the bullseye.

                Calling the target up, he pulled it and put in a fresh target before sending it back.  He loaded his gun and shot again with similar results.  He repeated the process three more times as he thought of Zack.

                He felt for the kid who when he got out essentially had no family besides the people in DC.  What he did was wrong and he deserved to be punished, but to have your whole family turn their backs on you?  Zack didn’t force the drinks down his mother’s throat nor did he force the elder Addy to sit on his ass and do nothing but eat pork rinds and chug beer.  They were the ones who made the choice. 

                Just like he didn’t force Mark Kovacs to exact revenge for his father’s death 22 years earlier.  Yeah, he took the shot but it’s Kovacs who squandered his last chance at freedom.  It was Kovacs who murdered Aldo and his father-in-law.

                Then it hit him…what he needed to do. 

                Adding one more target, he loaded his weapon and shot again, this time all six hit the bullseye.  Removing the target, he looked again.  Deciding he made the right call, Booth picked up his weapon and bullets.  Returning the ear protection and glasses to the range master, he walked out.

                He drove his vehicle to a quiet residential neighborhood.  Turning left he reached the gates of his location.  Driving slowly, he followed the paved road down the winding path until he reached his destination.  He turned off the motor, but his stomach was doing cartwheels.  Pushing past them, he got out of the SUV and walked a short distance to an elm tree where two tombstones laid side by side with the names of Max Keenan and Christine Brennan.

                “I’m sorry I haven’t come sooner, Max.”  Booth said.  “I’ve been working hard on getting that son of a bitch Kovacs.”

                Booth brushed off some snow from their tombstones before sitting down on the bench next to them.  “The kids are doing better.  Christine cried almost every night for a couple of weeks, but she’s getting better.  I make them your grandpa shakes.  I think I have them mostly mastered now, but they're not as good as yours.”

                The agent inhaled for a moment.   “Bones is doing better, but she misses you so much.  She still can’t go through your stuff.  She tried a few days ago but she…got pretty upset.”

                Booth thought about what to say next.  “Hodgins and Angela are doing great.  Right now, they’re trying for another baby.  Those two are not letting a wheelchair slow them down.”

                Booth considered who was next.  “Aubrey and Jessica are…still nerds in love.  They’re having some issues with their future because they’re both scared.  However, they’re also best friends…the best kind of relationship to be in.  Bones and I recruited an old friend to help us help them in the right direction.  We don’t want Aubrey and his squintern to make the same mistakes we did.”

                Booth shifted on the bench.  “Oh, Cam and Arastoo got married Friday night.  A very nice, simple ceremony and a fun reception…until Aubrey, Hodgins, and I tied one on.  Bones, Jessica, and Angela made us pay dearly.  It would have made you proud.”

                Playing with his jeans, he fidgeted for a moment.  “We’ve got Kovacs in custody for you, Max.  We just trying to put together the final pieces.  Yes we have the forensic evidence from his rig, but a good lawyer can work around that.  The places he used are his wife’s commercial rental properties, but that’s circumstantial.  A shrink we’re working with thinks there another person out there who’s helping him, but for the life of us we can’t figure out who.”

                Booth knew what he had to do, but he was afraid of messing it up.  A stray tear flowed from the agent’s eye, but he wiped it away as he got his courage up.  “I’m here for more than just to give you updates on the case.”

                His breathing became ragged as he put his thoughts together.  “I wanted to saw how sorry I am for all this…for bringing this son of a bitch into our lives…for what he did to you.”

                Finally he couldn’t hold back the tears anymore.  “Because of something I did over two decades ago, you’re dead.  I took away my wife’s father…my children’s grandfather.  You and I had issues in the past…a lot of them…but you always loved Bones…the kids…me.  After Pops died, you were all I had left.”

                Booth got a handkerchief out of his pocket and wiped his eyes.  “You protected my children when I couldn’t.  If you weren’t there, they would be…gone.  You got that pacemaker to extend your life but the man used it to kill you and a federal agent…my fault.  It’s my fault you’re dead.”

                The former ranger finally dissolved in tears and pain he had been holding back for almost four weeks.  Time drifted as Booth let himself finally grieve for the man he respected more than most.  As he purged himself, his past with Max raced through him.

                He remembered arresting him at the Royal Diner.  Max asking if he was gay for not showing interest in Bones.  The time he accused him of killing The Gravedigger.  Their undercover case at the bowling alley.  When he took Brennan and Christine on the run.  Max giving his blessing and threat at their wedding.

                When he purged himself dry, Booth put his head up and wiped his tears.  Ignoring the headache he now had, he got up and stood in front of Max’s tombstone.

                “I’m sorry Max.  I’m not going to rest until we get him behind bars permanently.”  Booth said before taking a breath.  “I know Bones doesn’t believe in the afterlife but I do.  I just wish I knew if you heard me.”

                Suddenly he felt something wet hit his ear and shoulder.  Feeling his ear, when he looked it was white.  A very familiar, disgusting white.

                “Son of a…on my jacket too.  Fucking birds you…”  Booth stopped mid tantrum as he came to a realization.  Looking back at the tombstone, he laughed.

                “Leave it to you to say what you want to say with shit.”  Booth said as he used his hankie to wipe off his shoulder.  “Couldn’t use a rainbow, soft breeze, or something pleasant, could you?  Now I have to figure out if you forgive me and trust me with Bones and the kids.”

                Suddenly two more big globs of white landed on Booth’s other shoulder.  “For crying out loud!  All right!  All right, Max.  Message received…I’m forgiven.”

                After he wiped off the rest of the bird droppings, he shoved the kerchief in his pocket he gave the tombstones one last look.  “I’m going back to work now.  When I’m done with that I’m going to talk to your daughter.  She…surprised me today and it wasn’t a pleasant one.  I shouldn’t have ran out on her but I’m just not ready to go home yet.”

                Smiling, he bent down face to face with the tombstones.  “Bye, Max.”  Turning to his right, he touched it for a moment.  “Bye Christine.”

                Walking to the vehicle, he got in and took a breath.  Things would be okay once Kovacs was in prison.  They just had to find that final connection.


                Jessica walked into Brennan’s office holding two bags.  Not seeing her mentor, she set the bags down.  As she walked out of the office, she ran into Sammy Mills.


                The blonde girl held her chest as she stood behind her cart.  “You scared me Jessica.  I didn’t expect you here today.”

                Thinking about her boyfriend, she took a breath.  “I wasn’t planning on it either, but I had a change of plans and Doctor B asked for my help in the Kovacs case.”

                “The one who killed her father?”

                Jessica pulled a scrunchie off her wrist and tied her hair up.  “One and the same.  How are your classes this semester?” 

                “Tough but good.”  The blonde said with a smile.  “In case you were wondering, Doctor B is in the Bone Room.”

                “Good.  I’m keeping my fingers crossed that you can apply again for an internship next year.”  Jessica said.  “If you need any help, let me know, okay?”

                “Sure, Jessica.” The bespectacled young woman said.

                “Bye.”  The redhead said as she walked to the Bone Room, not seeing how intently the other woman was watching her. 


                When Booth returned to the empty 4th floor of the Hoover, he was greeted with an annoyed Karen getting into the elevator.   “Hey Karen.”  Booth said.  

                “Agent Booth.”  She said in a frosty voice before the doors closed.

                Booth let out a low whistle.  “Someone is not a happy camper.”

                Heading to his office, he looked in the conference room and saw his partner surrounded by boxes.  He changed direction and opened the door.  “Aubrey, what are you doing here?”

                The lanky man looked up.  “I thought I would do some work on the Kovacs case.”

                Booth sat down, noting the stiff shoulders and lack of food on the table.  “You and Jessica had a fight, didn’t you?”

                Aubrey took a deep breath.  “Yeah…but I also needed to…decompress for a while.”

                Booth took a folder out of one of the boxes.  “From what?  The fight that serious?”

                The younger man took a drink from his coffee.  “No, no…I…did something earlier that I should have done a long time ago.”

                Booth had an idea of what happened, but kept it to himself.  “How did that go?”

                Aubrey sat back in his chair and tossed his pen on the table.  “It was hard…painful, but it needed to be done.  However, I’m realizing I haven’t been the best boyfriend to Jessica, so I figured maybe working on the Kovacs case for a while give me something else to think about before I talk to her.”

                “Where is she?”  Booth asked. 

                “With your wife at the lab.”  Aubrey said. 

                “So what did Karen want?”  Booth asked while pulling a folder out.  “She looked pissed when I ran into her at the elevator.”

                “She said she was dropping off a profile for IO but then tried to ‘help’ with things in here.  I had to be a little rude to get her to leave.”

                “About time Aubrey.  She’s got the hots for you.”

                “I know.  I’ll talk to her this week because it’s getting to be too much.”  Aubrey said.  He looked at Booth and saw the man’s hunched shoulders and teeth grinding.   “You had a fight with Doctor B too, didn’t you?”

                Booth looked up annoyed.  “Yeah, we did.  I needed to clear my head for a while and I’m assuming she’s doing the same thing.  Work helps to do that.  So let’s do it.”

                The men worked for over two hours as they pulled apart the case and started from the beginning.  They brainstormed as they went over each incident before they went back to examining evidence quietly. 

                After another hour of silent work, Aubrey looked up and saw Booth looking at the wall.  “What are you thinking, Booth?” 

                Booth took a drink of his coffee but made a face when it was cooled.  Getting up he walked to the carafe and poured a new cup.  “I keep replaying that first visit we had with Kovacs in my head.  Remember his wife?  Something just seemed off to me.”

                Feeling his appetite come back, Aubrey took a Snickers bar from his pocket and started eating.  “I know.  I considered whether she was our accomplice.  However, there was no connection between her and the case until Kovacs whined to you how he was set up by some mysterious person using his wife’s commercial properties.  We followed her but nothing she did was suspicious.”

                Booth walked back to his spot and pointed his finger on the folders in front of him.  “I feel like the answer is in here, Aubrey.  Gordon said he thought the accomplice was someone Kovacs was close to.  Someone he had a bond with…something like that is usually family or military.  I fought beside men I would go through the fire with.  However, everyone who served with him overseas checked out.”

                Aubrey pulled out a chart.  “It can’t be his mother.  According to your friend Alex at the State Department, Mirsada Radik was found to be complicit in her husband’s crimes and sentenced to thirty years in prison in a war tribunal.  She was murdered there in 1999.  To no one’s surprise, the case remains unsolved.”

                “Kovacs came to the States in 1997…”  Booth said before the conference room phone rang.   Seeing who the caller was, he picked up immediately.  “Bones.  Hey listen, I’m sorry about this morning—“

                “That’s not important right now, Booth.  Please turn on the monitor.”

                “Okay.”  Booth said.

                Hitting the button, Brennan appeared on the screen.  The men noted the bones, X-rays, and pictures posted all over her office.  After a second, Jessica appeared behind her mentor.

                “We may have discovered something, or more Ms. Warren discovered something and I concurred with her ‘vibe’.”

                Aubrey felt pride for his girlfriend.  “Jess, what did you find?”

                The men listened as the two women explained, but Booth got frustrated and rubbed his face.  “What does all this have to do with this discovery you made, Bones?”

                “We’re getting to that, Booth.  Please don’t rush us.” 

                She was halfway through their discovery when an explosion appeared, turning the picture to snow.  The men quickly tried the ladies again as they raced towards the stairwell, but only got voicemails. 

                Aubrey made another call as they ran down the stairs.  “This is Agent James Aubrey.  We need paramedics and the fire department over to the Jeffersonian now!”

                “And the bomb squad.”  Booth said as he opened the door to the garage.

                “Bomb squad, too.  Agent Booth and I are heading over there right now.”  Aubrey said before hanging up.

                Yanking the doors open to Booth’s SUV, the men climbed inside.  After the senior agent turned on the siren, he sped out of there for the museum.  As the men sped down Pennsylvania Avenue, each tried calling Brennan and Jessica again to no avail.

                Hanging up, both men pushed down their nausea and fear.  Booth looked at his partner.  “Bones and Jessica will be fine.”

                “Yeah, they’re both smart.  Doctor B’s new large screen that Angela set up for her is on the far end of her office, so it was unlikely they were hit with much glass.”

                Booth took a deep breath to keep his nerves steady.  “Bones is going to be pissed if any evidence got destroyed.”


                The SUV continued down to their destination, praying that women the loved were safe.      

Chapter Text

                Aubrey and Gordon sat at the table finishing their coffees.  For fifteen minutes, the only sound in the room was when Skinner started purring while rubbing up against his owner’s leg.  Looking down, the agent saw the orange tabby looking at him with big eyes.  Not able to resist, the agent picked up the cat and put him on his lap.

                “Jessica gives me that look too, you know.  Both of you know I’m a sucker for green eyes.”

                The chef heard the sadness in the young man’s voice as he put his cup down.  “Where is the lovely Ms. Warren this morning?”

                After taking a drink with his free hand, Aubrey set his cup down as well.  “Out.”

                Gordon heard the tone in his voice again.  “I’m assuming not out to get breakfast.”

                The younger man sat and looked at the table while scratching his cat behind the ear.  “Nope.  She’s a little pissed at me so she left.”

                Gordon finished his coffee.  “How about I refill our cups and we can talk about it if you are comfortable?”

                Aubrey shrugged.  “Sure why not?  She probably hates me now anyway.”

                Gordon smiled.  “Aubrey…I don’t think your girlfriend hates you.  It’s obvious how much she loves you.”

                “She may love me, but you didn’t see her when she left.”

                Looking for a distraction from his morning, Gordon smiled.  “Let me bring the pot to the table…and perhaps some eggs and toast?”

                “Okay.”  Aubrey mumbled.  “Four eggs over easy would be nice.”

                Brennan stood where she was, filled with sadness and regret.  She wanted her husband to be comfortable discussing his medical problems with her.  However, in hindsight, she realized that maybe presenting her research when he first woke up may not have been the best option.

                Turning back to the center island, she put all of her research articles in one pile.  Next, she saw Booth’s bowl of oatmeal sitting there untouched.  Not wanting the food to go to waste, she put the rest of the oatmeal in a container.  Opening the refrigerator, she saw the leftover food from last night.  As she looked at it, she remembered when her father came up in conversation.

                “…Even in the shadow of grief, you two are a unit.”

                “Grief?  What are you talking about?”

                “Over your father of course, Doctor Brennan.  You had such a complicated history with your father that I’m sure his loss was a great shock to both of you.”

                “I-it was.  Of course it was.  He was in excellent health after getting his pacemaker.”

                “I think it’s wonderful that after the years apart that you were able to forgive him for leaving you and your brother the way he did.”

               “Yes, he was a complicated but wonderful man.  I have many years of memories of him and of some to pass on to Christine and Hank when they get older.”

                Brennan exhaled and realized there was no room on the bottom shelf.  Deciding the very top shelf was the only alternative, she looked up and saw the cream soda.  Time seemed to stand still as she remembered the last one she ever had.


                “Grandpa milkshakes for everyone!”

                “Yay!”  Christine squealed with her arms in the air before running to the center island.

                “I’m all over that, Max.”  Booth said holding Hank as he sat next to his child.

                Max got out the six pack of cream soda and the heavy whipping cream.  Turning around, he saw his youngest child in deep thought.

                “Tempe…you know you want one.”

                Brennan held her arm out as she prepared to make her point.  “Dad, cream soda is full of sugar from the vanilla—“

                “Yeah, things have to taste good, Tempe or else one doesn’t eat or drink.”

                Brennan crossed her arms.  “Cream soda has no nutritional benefit—“

                “No, but grandpa milkshakes have heavy cream in it, which has vitamin D, which will build strong bones for my grandchildren and this big guy here.”

                Booth snickered.  “Bones, he’s got you there.”

                Brennan pondered for a moment before walking up to her husband and taking their son.  “I’ll share one with Hank.”

                “Atta girl!”  Max said before he began mixing the treat.


                Brennan shoved the oatmeal quickly into the fridge and shut the door.  She tried to think of something more pleasant but Gordon’s words about Zack flashed inside her head.

                ‘He always wonders now if he should have stayed in Michigan like his family wanted him to.  That way none of this would have happened.’

                ‘…he needed to confront the fear…head on.  He has to face it, accept it, and then forgive himself before he can move on.’ 

                Before she knew it, tears fell down her face.  Sinking to the kitchen floor tears fell as she thought of her father and his sacrifice.

                ‘If I hadn’t insisted on him going to the safe house, he would be here.  But if he wasn’t there, my children would have probably been murdered.’

                Then another thought came to her.  ‘Why did I fight a relationship with my father for so long?  We could have had more years together…’

                Brennan cried further as her sadness over the loss of time with her father finally sunk in.  All her hurts, her pain, her grief all came out in a tumble.  She knew that there was no way she could have known, but to realize the time they lost out on before and after he came back tore her up.

                ‘Why didn’t I forgive him sooner?’

                When she was cried out, Brennan slowly got up.  Getting a glass, she filled it with water and drank to fight the dehydration she was feeling.  She finished her beverage and turned to face her hallway.  She stared for a moment before straightening her spine and walking back towards the bedrooms.

                When she got to the guest room, she stopped and took a shaking breath.  Turning around, she took two steps away before stopping again.  Spinning forward, she faced the door again and headed for it.  She hesitated to turn the knob on the door, remembering her meltdown from a few days ago.  However, she knew what had to be done.

                “My father deserved more than to have his life and memories shoved away in his daughter’s guest room.”

                Turning the knob, she opened the door.  She took another deep breath before stepping inside and turning on the room light as the windows were covered with curtains.  Standing there, she observed the boxes resting on the bed, besides the bed, and surrounding the nearby dresser and hope chest. 

                Walking over to the first box on the floor, her insides churned, but she knew she had to press on.  Bending down, she lifted the lid and saw a number of ringed scrap books.  Taking one out, she opened it and discovered an article on her and Booth.  Turning the page, she saw more articles on her in her work with Booth or for her books.  After reading through them all, she opened another box.

                Quickly, she saw it was full of nothing but pictures of their family before they were parted.  Pulling them out, she spent two hours remembering things like the trip they took to Six Flags Amusement Park where Russ threw up after eating six corn dogs and one ride.  Another picture was of them at her eighth grade graduation.  The next was Russ’s high school graduation with her parents flanking them as she hugged her older brother.  She cried in between laughter as she found the one of her and her father at the science fair where she won first place, their family Fourth of July barbecue when she was nine, and her father posing in front of the school he taught at.

                She was amazed at the collection of memories her father kept with him.  He always bragged about traveling light but he had to have a place where he kept these until he settled permanently in DC. 

                After looking through all those pictures, she found a small box at the bottom.  It was worn on the top as if someone had opened it many times in the past.  Gingerly, she removed it and set it in her lap.  When she opened it, she was greeted with a picture of her parents when they were young.  As she examined the clothing, hairstyles, and lack of rings, she realized this was from before they married.

                Pulling out the next one, it was a photo booth set of them.  Two were of them making funny faces, one was serious, but the last one was of them kissing.  Looking at the back, she saw writing.

                County fair 1968.

                Her father would have probably just turned 21.  Her mother was 19.  Brennan was amazed at how in love they looked.  Pulling out the next one, she saw them posing in front of the Ambassador Bridge in Detroit.  Turning it around, she read the back.

                Road trip to Canada.  1970

                After looking at a few more, she found one of her mother solo, reading while pregnant.  Turning it over on the back, she saw another inscription.

                Ruthie and the baby.  1972

                Going through the next several worn photographs, she noticed it was all of her mother or the two of them.  She always knew her mother was the love of her father’s life, but until now, she didn’t truly understand how deep it really was.

                Then it hit her.  Booth trying to comfort her after her father’s death…giving her space…his extra hours working on the Kovacs case…

                His reluctance to make love…just like when he broke up with Cam after he talked her into bypassing safety protocols in her autopsy of Caroline Epps.  Because of his insistence, she almost died from the Methyl bromide Howard Epps planted in his dead wife’s head.  Booth blamed himself for what happened.

                Sadness washed over her as she realized how much pain her husband was in.  He blamed himself for what happened to her father.  As his penitence, he would maintain his distance from her until he could bring her justice.  In this case, Mark Kovacs and any accomplices arrested, tried, and imprisoned for their crimes against their family, Aldo, Mike Reiss, and Margaret Kwan.

                “Oh Booth…”  Brennan said to herself.  After a moment of contemplation, her face turned to one of determination.  “I won’t let you do this alone.” 

                Getting up, she stripped off her pajamas and took a shower.  After getting dressed, she brushed her teeth and got three boxes of books she planned to take to the lab next week around.  Loading her car, she was about to get in when she shut the door and re-entered the house. 

                Walking into the kitchen, she stared at the fridge for a second before opening the door.  Taking out a cream soda, she also pulled the heavy cream and made a ‘grandpa milkshake’ of her own.  Putting it in her YETI cup, she put in a straw and sipped it as she walked out the door.

                “So that’s it.”  Aubrey said before chugging the last of his second cup of coffee.  “She pushed me out of the way and stormed out of here.”

                Gordon put the plate of over easy eggs and sourdough toast in front of the agent.  “It seems she needed some space and was frustrated when she couldn’t get it.”

                “Yeah…”  Aubrey said while taking a bite. 

                “It also seems that she is hurt about your discussion earlier.”  Gordon said before observing Aubrey text a message while shoving a piece of toast in his mouth.  “Aubrey, what are you doing?”

                “I haven’t heard from Jess, so I’m sending another message.”  The agent said with a full mouth.

                “You’ve already sent three to her, young man, along with a group one to her brothers, Doctor Brennan, and her friends.  She’ll contact you when she’s ready.”

                “Skinner is worried about her, too.”  Sending the message, Aubrey put the phone down before pushing the rest of the eggs in his mouth. 

                “Using your cat is shameless, Aubrey.”

                “I know…you’re right.”  Aubrey said with his mouth full of eggs. 

                “Young man, surely you know talking with your mouth full is not polite.  Finish your last piece of toast before talking to me, please.”

                Aubrey quickly finished before standing up and pacing around the small dining area, considering what the chef said.  “She was so upset when she left, Gordon.  I love her so much.”

                “But…you’re holding a part of yourself back from her.  Why?”

                Aubrey looked at the former shrink like he was crazy.  “Because I don’t want her involved in all that mess.  My father brought a shit storm to my life and she doesn’t deserve any of it.”

                Gordon hesitated for a moment, but he knew it had to be said.  “Perhaps it’s not that she doesn’t deserve it, but you’re afraid it will drive her away.”

                “No, I’m not like Kovacs!”  Aubrey said forcefully.  “I’m still not happy with that comparison by the way.  I’m not a murderer.”

                “But you’re afraid that Jessica will look at you differently, aren’t you?”

                “No…” Aubrey scoffed, not liking how accurate the shrink’s words were.

                “And that she’ll realize that she deserves better than you.  When that happens, she’ll leave you behind like your father left your mother behind.”

                “NO!” The lanky man yelled as he stood up and knocked his chair over.  “I’M NOT LIKE MY FATHER!”

                Taken aback by the young man’s response, Gordon sat down.  “No, Aubrey, you’re not.  In fact, you’re the antithesis of Philip Aubrey.  However, you’ve let that man dictate varying aspects of your life.  You’re so scared that Jessica will get tired of dealing with the less than ideal parts of you that she’ll go find something better.”

                Pouring each a final cup of coffee, he set the carafe down and looked Aubrey in the eye.  “Have you ever considered that perhaps she has the same fears as you have?”

                Aubrey slowly sat down.  “I know she’s gun shy about commitment…“

                “Probably stemming from a parental example of a bitter divorce after years of living with a mentally ill maternal figure.  She’s probably afraid something similar will happen to you two.   On top of that, the man she loves doesn’t trust her.”

                “What are you saying, Gordon?”  Aubrey said with a pit in his stomach.  “Of course I trust her.”

                “You trust her to be faithful and honest with you, but you’re not trusting her with your entire heart.”  The chef took a sip of his coffee.  “Aubrey, not only do you both have fears to confront, but your communication as a couple sucks.  You have to talk to each other…even the ugly, unpleasant things because honesty is key to a healthy relationship.  Until you do, there will be no future for you two because in time, your fears will drive you apart.”

                The agent felt sick to his stomach at the thought of no future with his best friend.  No future of growing careers and solving murders together.  No Star Wars conventions, no Imagicons, movie marathons.

                No more nights spent with the woman he loved talking about their days…sharing their pasts.  No more nights strengthening their bond with passionate lovemaking.  No future building a family…first days of school…family vacations…graduations…grandchildren.  No spending their twilight years holding hands on a swinging porch watching their future generations grow.

                Aubrey laid his head down in his arms, spent.  After a moment, he lifted his head to look at the older gentleman.  “Gordon, what do I do?”

                The older picked up their coffee cups and walked them to the sink.  Coming back to the table, he picked up the carafe of coffee.  “I think you know what you need to do, Aubrey.”

                The younger man looked perplexed but then realized what the former shrink was saying.  “Are you saying that I should…”

                Gordon put his hands on the back of his table chair.  “What I’m saying is, when you’re ready, take a shower and get cleaned up and do what you need to do.  When done, go to the FBI and work the Kovacs case for a while so you can clear your head and think.  Right now, I’m sure Jessica is doing the same thing.  Later tonight, you two can have a nice, long discussion.”

                Aubrey watched the older man head towards the bedrooms.  “What do you have going on today, Gordon?”

                The chef turned around.  “I’m going to look over Doctor Addy’s case some more before arranging a meeting with your profiler Karen Delfs.  Then…I have some thinking of my own to do.”

                “Is there anything I can do for you?”

                “Don’t worry about what I’m doing young man!  Get your head together so you can work things out with that lovely redhead.”  Gordon admonished before shutting the bedroom door.

                  Brennan parked her vehicle by a rarely used side entrance to carry in the boxes.  Punching in the code, she awkwardly moved the box under one arm so she could open the door.  She had just barely entered the hallway when she surprised Sammy Mills by a door.

                “Doctor Brennan, what are you doing here?”

                Taken aback, she looked at the young blonde.  “I’m loading these boxes into my office before moving my car.  Why are you here?  I thought Cam changed the schedule recently so that there would be no work study students on the weekends.”

                “Oh, um, I wanted to get some extra hours in because I took Thursday and Friday off, so Doctor Saroyan gave me a list of jobs I could work on.”

                Brennan noted the room she came out of.  “That’s very considerate of Doctor Saroyan, but you’re trying to enter the room leading to our evidence vault.”

                Sammy pointed to the door.  “She mentioned some doors were squeaking so I was just going to test it before getting some WD-40 for the door.  It’s pretty loud she said.”

                “That it is.  However, you have to have the code to enter the room.  As you remember from your brief time as an intern, this is the room that leads to our evidence vault.  While there are cameras to monitor the area, it’s very important to maintain chain of custody of all evidence obtained by the FBI.  Also, petroleum jelly is a better door hinge lubricant along with a finish nail.  That’s a job best left for maintenance, Ms. Mills.  I’ll put in a request on Monday.”

                “Of course, Doctor Brennan.”  Sammy said.  “Would you like some help with the boxes from your car?”

                “Yes…that would be nice, thank you.”

                After the young woman helped her bring her other boxes into her office, Brennan turned to her.  “Well, I’ll let you get back to what it is you need to do.  I know Cam is lenient with the budget but she still has to maintain it so you may get as many opportunities as possible along with our other students.”

                “Yes, Doctor Brennan.”

                Brennan watched the young woman leave.  Her gastrointestinal tract suddenly became unsettled, but it was probably from all the sugar from her grandpa milkshake.  Taking another sip, she put it aside before pulling some books out of a box.

                Aubrey arrived at his destination and felt a wave of nausea.  For several minutes, he sat in the vehicle paralyzed while he gathered the courage to do what he needed to do.  He wasn’t ashamed to say he was scared, but Gordon was right.  If he was going to move forward with his life, he had to confront this part of his past.

                Taking a deep breath, he got out and hit the fob.  When he was halfway to the door, his phone buzzed.  Pulling it out, he was relieved to see a message from Jessica.

                Tell Skinner I’m all rite.  Need 2 think 4 a while.  Going 2 work at lab.  TTYL.

                Breathing a sigh of relief, he stiffened his spine as he walked to the doors and entered.  At the window, he flashed his badge and was immediately granted entry.  He went through all the metal detectors until he got to the window where he signed in and was given a badge to wear.  Led into a room, he didn’t wait long.

                “Well, look what the cat dragged in.”

                Pushing down the last of his fear, Aubrey sat straight.  “Hi Dad.”

                The elderly man sat down and stared his only child down.  “What brings you here?  Guilt over turning in your old man?  Putting your career over family?”

                “No, I just have a few things to say.”

                Philip Aubrey’s blue eyes stared down similar ones.  “Well get on with it.  I have things to do, you know.”

                “You mean besides conning other prisoners like you tried conning your own son?”

                “Hey, you either shit or you get shit on.  I learned that lesson the hard way and I tried telling you that more than once but you were all into fairness like your mother.”  The elder Aubrey said before sitting back in his chair.  “What’s the matter?  Didn’t get the promotion you wanted for selling me out?”

                “No.  I didn’t need a promotion to turn you in.  I did that because you’re a criminal.”  Aubrey said.  He sat for a moment to gather his courage.  “Did you ever love us?”

                “Us?  You mean your mother and you?”

                “No, the National Zoo.  Yeah, Dad.  Us…your family.”

                Philip scratched his chin with his handcuffed hands.  “Of course I did.  I’ve always wanted children and Rachel wanted the same thing.  I was the happiest man in the world when she said she was pregnant with you.”

                “So why did you treat Mom and I like garbage?”

                “Jesus, are you still whining about that?”  Philip said.  “Your mother always babied you.  All I tried to do was make you tougher.”

                “Answer my question.”  Aubrey said, determined not to let his father steer him away.

                “Your mother knew I had certain expectations when we got married.  In the beginning it was great but after you were born, she got soft.  Hell, I've even heard that she helped pay for your useless education at that fancy pants Syracuse University.”

                “Because her husband, the man she trusted to spend her life with, stole every penny from their son’s college fund to run off to Eastern Europe while out on bail.”  Aubrey said with a sneer.  “She was the most selfless, wonderful person I’ve ever known, Dad.  Even when you screwed her over.”

                “Yeah, when she wasn’t up on her pedestal.  You think I was an asshole but she could be a pain in the ass as well, you know.  I was never home enough, I never spent enough time with you, she whined about the parties I needed to go to for networking…”

                “Networking?”  Aubrey said with a sarcastic tone.  “Don’t you mean scoping out more people to con out of their money?”

                “If people are stupid enough to trust their entire life savings to me to throw in the stock market, then they deserved it.”  Philip replied.  “Your mother always had a way of making anything that brought us wealth and prestige out to be bad.”

                “Is that why you always cheated on her?”  Aubrey said. 

                “When a man get nagged at home and is only offered the same shit time in and out, he needs someone to make his life more exciting.  Your mother got boring, just like that little redhead of yours will someday, too.”

                “Don’t bring Jessica into this.” Aubrey said, barely holding his temper in.

                “Why not?  Isn’t that why you’re here?  Obviously you don’t have the balls to close the deal with her.  It’s too bad because if I were forty years younger, I’d do her myself.  She’s pretty cute with that red hair and smoking ass.”

                Aubrey stood up, knocking his chair over as he grabbed his father’s prison jumpsuit and pulled him to his face.  “Not one more word about her…not one.  If you do, I’ll forget that I’m a federal agent and I’ll kick the living shit out of you in here.  The guards here don’t like you very much, Dad and I’m sure they’ll back me up when I say you came at me first.”

                The senior Aubrey lost color to his face as he contemplated his words.  “Fine…fine.  Just let me go, James.”

                Aubrey shoved his father into his chair.  When he was sitting down, he realized that his father was not the man he built him up to be.  It was time to put the past behind him.

                “I’ve had to put up with the stares and the comments that come when people realize you’re my father.  I had to develop a thick skin and push myself ten times harder than most to show I’m not like you.”

                The agent stood up.  “I’ve let you also shadow my life…my choices.  I’ve lived in fear that if I let myself get close to someone I’ll end up like Mom someday.  You destroyed her, Dad.  She loved you until the day she died.  She apologized for you, made excuses for you, worked herself to the bone so we could survive and I could get an education.  The only good thing about her being gone is that she doesn’t have to see you again.”

                Grabbing the back of the chair, he looked down for a minute before looking up.  “Now, I found someone who loves me just as I am.  Her family is fucked up in its own way, but I love her just as she is.  I want a future with her but I've let you ride side saddle on every decision I’ve made about our relationship for too long.”

                Aubrey straightened his spine as he stood up.  “But you know what?  I’m done apologizing for you.  When I walk out that door, my father no longer exists.  No more will I let you keep me from being happy.  I want to spend my life with Jessica.  She’s been trying to be there for me, but I haven’t let her completely.  Starting now, I’m going to let her help me and I’m going to help her conquer her own fears and demons.  We may get married…or we’ll just live together for the rest of our lives.  Whatever we choose, it will be because it’s right for us, not because we’re scared of what will happen.  We’ll build a life together…may be even have a family.”

                The agent sneered at his father.  “You could have been part of my life, but you were a selfish, greedy bastard then and you are now.  Instead, you get to spend I hope the rest of your life behind bars.  You deserve much more but it will come to you someday.”

          Aubrey walked to the door before turning around.  “Before I go, I will demonstrate what you decreed my ‘useless education’ with Ezekiel 18:19-20

            “Yet you say, ‘Why should not the son suffer for the iniquity of the father?’ When the son has done what is just and right, and has been careful to observe all my statutes, he shall surely live. The soul who sins shall die. The son shall not suffer for the iniquity of the father, nor the father suffer for the iniquity of the son. The righteousness of the righteous shall be upon himself, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon himself."

            Aubrey turned the knob on the door.  “Goodbye Dad.  I hope you rot in prison.”

            Walking out, the lanky man felt a big weight being lifted off his shoulders.  At the visitor’s window, he signed out and gave the visitor’s badge back before leaving.  Getting into his SUV, he decided to take Gordon’s advice.  Starting the engine, he put the vehicle into gear and headed for the Hoover.

                Brennan had Margaret Kwan’s remains on the table in the Bone room.  Usually, she could count on the bones speaking to her, but they were silent this time.  Lost in thought, she didn’t hear Jessica walk in until she spoke up.

                “Doctor B, I brought lunch if you’re ready for a break.”

                Startled, Brennan looked up.  “I am Ms. Warren.  Thank you.  I’m finding nothing new by looking Ms. Kwan’s remains.”

                “Can I do anything?”  Jessica asked.

                Brennan was about to say something, but she saw Sammy nearby and her gastrointestinal discomfort returned.  “Yes, help me put these remains away and we’ll eat in my office.”

                The two anthropologists carefully returned the remains to the container before closing it.  After Jessica returned the box to storage, she joined her advisor in her office where they ate their lunch from the diner.  Intermittently, the redhead saw Brennan look out towards the platform.

                “Doctor B, is something wrong?”

                Brennan finished the last of her soup.  “Well, maybe I’m overthinking things, but Ms. Mills seems to be around quite a bit today.”

                “But she’s a work study student, Doctor B…unless there’s something I don’t know.”

                Brennan took a drink of her coffee.  “Yes, but due to the increased security over Zack’s case as well as the Kovacs case, Cam rearranged the work hours of the students before the start of the new semester.  As part of this work study students are not scheduled on the weekends.  Sammy says Cam gave her a list of stuff to work on since she took part of the week off.”

                “Can you call Doctor Saroyan?”

                “I did, Ms. Warren.”  Brennan said before taking a bite of her salad.  “However, there was no answer.  I’m assuming she’s occupied with sexual intercourse with her new husband.”

                “Are you thinking she’s not supposed to be here?”  Jessica said before taking a bite of her club sandwich.

                “Cam was very clear on the work study schedule, but until I can confirm it, I’m not going to accuse Ms. Mills of anything.  Maybe I’m being sensitive, but we’re going to work on the case in my office.  We won’t leave anything unattended and we’ll lock it up in here at the end of the night.”

                “Sounds good.”  Jessica said before throwing away her container.  “Not to sound paranoid, but do you want the curtains drawn?”

                “Yes, please.”  Brennan said before gesturing to the evidence.   “Now, everything is over here.  I’ve obtained three dry erase boards and we can use the large monitor Angela installed for me to have conference calls to hang up items to examine.  These two boxes the FBI only obtained recently and was found to have nothing.  However, we will check them again.”

                “I still think it’s cool you have a big screen like Angela does.”  Jessica said as she pulled the curtain cord.

                “Well, I finally have a use for it.  Also, we have my portable light table.”

                The two women pinned up various photographs and documents on the boards, back wall, and LCD monitor.  Nearby, x-rays of the victims were on the portable light table.  When done, they looked over their stuff.

                “What are we looking for, Doctor B?”

                Brennan crossed her arms.  “Anything that stands out, Ms. Warren.  Examine everything carefully and take notes if needed.  I have a friend at the State Department that I can call if we need anything plus I know someone at the Bosnian Embassy.”

                “Got it.”

                Jessica examined the x-rays as Brennan took out a thick folder, sat down on her couch, and started reading.  The two scientists examined each item carefully, not noticing the young woman looking at them through the crack in the curtains.

                Aubrey placed an extra-large meat lovers pizza on the conference room table before going into a locked room nearby.  He had to make three trips, placing a total of six large boxes on the conference room table.  Pulling things out, he pinned things onto a board while eating a slice.

                When done, he walked to the break room to start a pot of coffee.  Just as he pushed the button to brew, he heard his name.  He inwardly groaned because he recognized the voice.  Wanting to be polite, he put a smile on his face before turning around.

                “Karen, what brings you here?”

                “I came to drop off a profile for IO but I saw you here.  Where’s your girlfriend?”

                Not wanting to hurt her feelings, Aubrey tried to give a hint.  “I’m working the Kovacs case.  Jessica is working on her dissertation and helping Doctor B right now at the lab.”

                “If I had a boyfriend, I would be spending my free Sundays with him, not working on my college paper.”

                Aubrey bit his tongue.  He wasn’t up for the profiler’s presence as he needed time to think.  “Jessica has a lot on her plate right now, as do I.  We make time for each other when we can and we’ll see each other later tonight.  However, you’re here on a Sunday so I don’t think you have the right to lecture me on working Sundays.” 

                “Oh, I didn’t mean anything by it.”

                “Of course you didn’t, Karen.”  Aubrey said before turning around to check the coffee.  Seeing it was done, he poured himself a cup and added some cinnamon.  “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.”

                “Maybe I can help.”  Karen asked as she kept in step with Aubrey.

                “I don’t need a profiler Karen, but thanks.”  He said as he walked faster towards the conference room.

                “Are you sure?  Maybe a profile can—“

                The woman had hit Aubrey’s last nerve.  “Karen!  I don’t need your opinions right now.   What I need is quiet while I work on the Kovacs case.  Please let me work.”

                Taken aback by Aubrey’s abruptness, Karen straightened her back.  “O-of course.”

                Aubrey watched her walk away and exhaled.  He didn’t want to be rude, but her presence could be annoying at times.  Especially since his father came back as she was always up in his shit as ‘a friend trying to help.’ 

                After Booth arrived a few minutes later, he wanted to let his girlfriend know where he was.  Pulling out his phone, he sent a quick text message.

                Wrkg at Hoover on Kovacs case w Booth.  Call CR if u need me.

                A minute later, he received a reply.

                Wrkg w Dr B at lab on Kovacs case. 

                Chuckling to himself, Aubrey put his attention back to the task at hand.

                Brennan was in the middle of reading Mark Kovac’s medical file one more time when Jessica spoke up.

                “Doctor B, can you look at this for me?”

                “Of course.”  Brennan said before getting up to where her intern was, a group of photographs on a board.  “What did you see?”

                The redhead pointed to a particular photograph.  “These two look very alike.  Also, check out her left thumb with this scar.  Isn’t this zig zag type a typical scar from a polydactyly reconstruction?”

                Brennan looked at the area in question.  Getting out a magnifying glass from her desk, she walked back over and examined further.  “You are correct, Ms. Warren.  Excuse me a moment.” 

                Brennan searched one of the boxes and pulled out a heavy chart.  Opening it, she glanced through it as she walked over to her intern.  “This is Mirsada Radik’s autopsy at the prison after her murder in 1999.  It seems she also has a history of radical polydactyly and Holt-Oram Syndrome.”

                “Radical polydactyly is fairly rare, isn’t it Doctor B?”

                “Yes it is.  While polydactyly is rare in itself, you see it more frequently on the ulnar side.”  Brennan said before heading to her computer.  “Come with me Ms. Warren.”

                The two women stood at her desk as Brennan did a computer search.  Finding what she needed, she searched through until she found what she was looking for. 

                “Wait, Doctor B, with the similar features and if both had this anomaly…”

                “Then they’re related.”  Brennan said.  “She’s the accomplice.  I need to call Booth.  Ms. Warren, please remove the photos so we can call my husband at the Hoover’s conference room.”

                “Aubrey’s there, too.”  Jessica said as she took the photos off the monitor.

                “Good.  Saves some time.”  Brennan said while dialing the number.  After two rings, she heard her husband’s voice.

                “Bones.  Hey listen, I’m sorry about this morning—“

                Brennan knew they didn’t have much time.  “That’s not important right now, Booth.  Please turn on the monitor.”

                A few seconds later, Booth and Aubrey were shown in the conference room.

                “We may have discovered something, or more Ms. Warren discovered something and I concurred with her ‘vibe’.”

                “Jess, what did you find?”

                “I was looking at pictures of Kovacs, Radik, and other evidence when I saw something.  So Doctor B read through Mrs. Radik’s autopsy and we found that under pregnancies she was noted as multiparous.”

                “What?”  Booth asked.

                “She had at least two live births, Booth.”  Brennan said before continuing.  “Also, according to the autopsy, it was noted that she had a history of polydactyly on her right hand.  When she was seven, she had surgery to correct it.”

                “That’s extra fingers, right?”  Aubrey asked.

                “Yeah, Superman.” Jessica said.

                “It was a radial polydactyly, an extreme rarity.”  Brennan said. 

                “Kovacs had the same thing?”  Booth said.

                “No, Booth.”

                The senior agent rubbed his face.  “What does this have to do with this discovery you made?”

                “We’re getting to that, Booth.  Please don’t rush us.”  Brennan said.  “As I was saying, Mark Kovacs didn’t have this, but her other child did.  According to records, this child, a girl named Zlata had the same procedure when she was four in a state hospital in Sarajevo.  She was also taken and sent to the US for adoption—“

                Suddenly, everything went black for the two women in Brennan’s office as an explosion ripped through the lab’s main area.  Jessica was thrown into a wall while the elder woman flew into the LCD monitor.  When the cloud dispersed, the lab was destroyed.  

                At the lab’s exit, a blonde woman was lying dead with a hole in her upper back.     

Chapter Text

               All was quiet in the lab except for small pieces of falling debris.  The platform was destroyed as was Cam’s autopsy room and everything on that side of the lab, including the Bone Room.  The windows of Brennan’s office were shattered with her curtains stained black but mostly intact save for a few rips. 

                Inside, the anthropologist’s new LCD monitor was damaged and dangling on the wall.  Her desk, computer, couch, and coffee table were all overturned.  Her skulls were scattered all over the room, miraculously only blackened.  All of her heavy bookcases and books were lying in various sorts of conditions.  The private bathroom suffered minimal damage as the door was shut.  Smokiness interspersed with darkness permeated the air as both women were lying unconscious. 

                Jessica was lying face up with the bottom third of her body underneath one of the large bookcases.  Just outside her hairline on the back of her neck was a cut, as was another on her hand.  Her face had a couple of scrapes and bruises and her lab coat was ripped.  Suddenly, the silence was broken by the redhead coughing from the smoky dust.  As she began to regain consciousness, Jessica groaned as her body was a big bag of sore.  However, she was alive and that was all that mattered at the moment.

                “That’s…the last time I will let myself be thrown into a wall of whatever the hell I hit.  No wonder Superman felt like shit after he and Curly got blown up.”  She muttered.

                She wiped dust from her face as she attempted to move, but didn’t get far as she felt searing pain in her leg.  “Ahhhhh….owwwww…”

                Opening her eyes, she saw that one of her mentor’s heavy book shelves landed on her right leg.  “Oh shit…”

                She knew that her chances of developing compartment syndrome increased exponentially the longer her leg was stuck under the heavy object.  She remembered Curly telling her about when he and Doctor B were trapped in a car underground by a psycho kidnapper and what happened to him.  Shuddering, she inhaled, exhaled, and tried pushing off the book shelf.  However, she shifted wrong and sharp, even hotter pain moved through her leg and brought tears to her eyes.

                “Doctor B?”  The redhead called out in a hoarse whisper as she looked around the darkened room, the only light being from the skylights blown out in the main area.  Nearby, she saw her boot lying on its side and realized she was knocked out of it by the blast.

                Looking around, she saw her mentor lying on the ground.  Brennan was on her stomach, surrounded by the glass of the LCD monitor from when her body slammed into it.  She had scrapes on her hand and one of her boots was off due to the impact of the explosion.  The left arm and side of her lab coat was shredded from the sharp glass while her left cheek and head had lacerations and scrapes.

                Knowing she needed to wake her up, she called out again.  “DOCTOR B!”

                Brennan was in a deep slumber when a voice pulled her away from the darkness.  She wanted to go back to the quiet, but the voice wouldn’t let her.  Reluctantly opening her eyes, Brennan lifted her head but was hit with a headache and nausea.  “Oh…”

                “Doctor B!  Wake up!”  Jessica yelled.  She moved to push up the heavy bookshelf again, but was unable to do so from her position.

                Opening her eyes again, Brennan pulled herself up slowly towards Jessica’s voice.  As she moved her left arm, hot pain coursed through her shoulder.  “Ms. Warren, are you all right?” 

                “Yes, Doctor B.  I’m just stuck under this bookshelf.”

                Brennan saw her intern trapped under her wood shelving unit.  Knowing the weight of it, she knew the young woman had to be in a great deal of pain.  Slowly, she crawled over to her.  “I’m coming, Ms. Warren.”

                Jessica saw the unnatural bump of her mentor’s shoulder.  “Doctor B, be careful.  You may have a concussion and it looks like your shoulder is separated.”

                Brennan gingerly touched her shoulder and winced.  “You are correct as I have dizziness and nausea as well as have experienced a Type III shoulder separation.  On top of that, my body made contact with that LCD screen at an accelerated rate of speed and I’m very sore.  However, that shelf is made of Caranda wood imported from the Gran Chaco region of South America and weighs about 80 lbs per cubic foot and could cause permanent damage if left on you for an extended period of time.” 

                Fighting a wave of dizziness, Brennan grabbed her boot and put it on before making her way further.  “I’ve already done one fasciotomy in my lifetime.  I prefer not to do two.  How are you?”

                Jessica took a breath to hold off the nausea that was starting.  “Ugh… sore AF.  However, my leg feels like both Death Stars dropped on it at once.”

                “AF?  I don’t know what that means or these Death Stars you are talking about but I will assume it’s bad.  What is your pain level Ms. Warren?”

                Jessica started to explain, but changed her mind.  “My whole body is sore, but my right arm and back are at about a seven.  However, I think my leg is broken and my pain level is about an 11.”

                Brennan slowly got up on her knees by the shelf.  “Ms. Warren, you and I are going to lift this shelf.  When it’s up, I will hold it up with my right shoulder so you can pull yourself out as quickly as possible.  When done, I will check you over and you will do the same to me.”

                “Can you do that, Doctor B?”  Jessica asked.

                 “I have to Ms. Warren.  If I don’t, you will develop compartment syndrome.  Your prognosis with this shelf on you much longer include possible amputation of your leg or death.”  Brennan said as she positioned her arm and shoulder and gripped the wood shelf.   “Ready?”

                Jessica got her arms ready while biting her lip to keep from screaming from the pain.  “Yes.”

                The anthropologist took a deep breath before the two women lifted the heavy furniture.  As quickly as she could, Jessica dragged herself out by her elbow while groaning from her leg pain.  As soon as she cleared the shelf, Brennan put it down as gingerly as she could to avoid causing a cave in. 

                Turning to her intern’s lower half, she could see Jessica’s leg was bent at an unnatural angle.  Even more alarming, Brennan saw that her tibia was sticking out of her bloodied appendage.  Carefully, she felt around the intern’s calf area.

                “You are correct in your assumption as I can see an open oblique fracture of your tibia but your fibula seems intact.   We will need to clean the opening to hopefully hold off any infection and find something to stabilize it because I have no idea how long we’ll be in here.”

                Jessica’s green eyes got large.  “But Doctor B, your shoulder—“

                “I still have movement from the elbow down.  When I finish your splint, we will cover you with the curtain to help prevent you going into shock.  When that’s done, you will help me with a sling to hold my upper arm in place.  Understand?”

                “Yes, Doctor B.”

                Brennan stood up and walked slowly to her closed bathroom door.  Relieved to see a hole where the knob is, she pulled it open with easy and found her first aid kit.  On her way back, she saw the intern’s half full bottle of water from earlier along with two long pieces of wood from another one of her bookshelves.  Grabbing all items, she came back.

                “I’m going to help you remove your lab coat so I can check you over.” 

                Gingerly, Brennan helped Jessica get her lab coat off.  To her relief, her intern only had two lacerations, various bruises, and a few scrapes.  Satisfied, she grabbed the water bottle.

                “Now, I’m going to rinse the blood and dirt off your leg.”  Brennan said.

                The anthropologist poured water on her leg, making the broken bone more prominent.  Looking up, she was grateful to see Ms. Warren was not very squeamish.  Opening her first aid kit, Brennan was relieved to see the alcohol was intact. 

                “Ms. Warren, I’m going to pour rubbing alcohol on your injury and it will be quite painful.  Are you ready?”

                Jessica took a deep breath.  “Go ahead, Doctor B.”

                Brennan poured enough over the opening while Jessica managed to keep still while crying out.  When done, she went to her overturned desk.  After struggling to open the drawer one handed, she got it open and grabbed a bottle of Tylenol before returning to her intern.  Searching her nearby damaged mini-fridge, she found three bottles of water.  

                Opening a bottle, she gave Jessica two pills and a bottle of water.  “Now, sip slowly because this is all the water we have until they find us.”

                After Jessica took the pills, Brennan grabbed the bottle of alcohol again.  “Now, I need to push your fracture back together and splint your leg.  I would wait until the acetaminophen had some time to digest, but this can’t wait.  You’re going to hang onto the open shelf while I do this.  Are you ready?”

                Jessica gulped as she reached back to grasp the open bookshelf.  “Okay.”

                Brennan rinsed her hands with the alcohol.  When ready, she ignored Jessica’s cries as she pushed the bones together as quickly as possible.  When done, she laid the area with gauze before wrapping the ACE bandage around the makeshift splints and clipping it. 

                 “I know you’re sore but I need you to move back so you can rest against my overturned desk.” 

                When Jessica moved herself up, Brennan grabbed one of the fireproof evidence boxes, moved it to the redhead’s leg, and propped it up.  Then, the anthropologist covered her intern with the loose curtain nearby.

                “I have no ice but keeping the leg elevated will lessen the chance of compartment syndrome.”

                “O-okay.”  A pale Jessica said.

                Looking up, Brennan saw the tears in the intern’s eyes from the pain.  “I’m sorry for your pain, Ms. Warren.”

                Jessica sniffled before wiping a tear away.  “I’m okay.  How bad is your headache and shoulder, Doctor B?” 

                “I would say my head is around a seven and my shoulder is an 11.”  The anthropologist said with a small smile.  “Now, please help me by removing my lab coat from my right side so you can check for any open wounds.  When done, I will need your assistance to tie it around my torso area so my shoulder remains stationary.”

                Jessica worked through her soreness to remove Brennan’s lab coat.  When off, she did as requested.  “There’s a gash on your upper arm, Doctor B.  We should clean it and wrap it along with the cut on your forehead.  The only things I see are bruises and some scrapes.”

                “Very good.”  Brennan said before handing her the alcohol.

                 It was the older woman’s turn to stiffen as the substance bubbled over her arm.  With a small piece of gauze, her intern cleaned the cut right above her eyebrow.  Next, the intern awkwardly but firmly looped the coat around Brennan’s chest area and tied it off by her back.

                “How’s that, Doctor B?”

                “Good job, Ms. Warren.  You seem to be a natural at splints and first aid.”

                “I have five older brothers.  You learn things.”   

                It was quiet for a moment as the women took in the sight before them.  Jessica saw the destroyed furniture and what she could see outside the one open area through the window.  Suddenly, she started laughing.

                Brennan had just chased two pills of her own down when she heard the intern.   Confused, she looked at the younger woman.  “Ms. Warren, what may I ask is so funny?”

                Jessica calmed herself to a snicker.  “I’m sorry, Doctor B.  I came here today to distract myself after fighting with Aubrey this morning.  However, being caught in an explosion is not exactly what I had in mind.  I’m just glad we put most of the evidence away before it happened.”

                Understanding the situation, Brennan chuckled.  “I see your point, Ms. Warren.  Ironically, I came here to gather my thoughts after I fought with Booth this morning…and after going through my father’s things.”

                Jessica’s laughter stopped and her look changed to sympathy.  “That…must have been hard, Doctor B.  I…I know how much you loved your father.”

                “Yes, it was.”  Brennan said as she took a breath to hold off tears that formed.  “You said you had a fight with Aubrey.  Was it serious?”


                She saw her intern’s hesitation.  “My apologies for intruding…Jessica.  We’re going to be here for a while and maybe talking about it could help you, but it’s really none of my business—“


                “He…”  Brennan asked.

                Jessica wiped a couple tears that fell with her hands.  “When I started here I didn’t want to be in a monogamous relationship, much less get married ever and have a family because my parents’ marriage was really bad, but then I met Aubrey and we became friends and then more than friends and now want to spend our lives together….for a while I didn’t want to get married then I didn’t mostly but kind of did, but Aubrey doesn’t but I told him I don’t ever want to because I didn’t want to pressure him and it really, really scared me still.  He also keep things from me because he thinks I’m shallow and I’m going to leave him…he doesn’t trust me when I tell him that he’s not like his father… I yelled at him this morning because I was so angry about his stupid ass ‘protecting’ me, but I talked to my dad today and now understand more why Aubrey does what he does and I’m not scared anymore of us getting married and being honest with him about it but what if I don’t see him again and he thinks I’m mad at him.”

                Brennan was stunned into silence as she took in all of her intern’s stream of consciousness speech.  “Well, Ms. Warren…sounds like you and Aubrey have a few issues.” 

                “I know…we’re more messed up than any other couple.”

                Brennan smiled when she saw her overturned YETI cup.  Looking inside, she was happy to see the grandpa milkshake from earlier.  Closing the lid, she took a sip before speaking.

                “Not necessarily.  For the last four days, my husband has found excuses for being unable to make love, ranging from concern about me, working on the case, and even getting severely inebriated to avoid me.  I knew he wasn’t having an affair and he still found me sexually attractive.  After doing research early this morning, I came to the erroneous conclusion that he had erectile dysfunction.  I made him a healthy breakfast low in sugar according to the research I found.  After waiting for him to wake up, I confronted my husband about our lack of sexual intercourse and presented him with my research.  Naturally, Booth was in shock and then perturbed by my conclusion.  After giving venomous denials, he left our house.  After finding cream soda in the refrigerator while I was putting the oatmeal away, I…finally gave into my grief about my father.”

                “Because of cream soda?  I don’t understand.”  Jessica said.

                “My father loved cream soda.  He drank it all the time and made milkshakes with it for Christine and Hank like the one I’m drinking now.  Now, after I finished crying, I made myself go through my father’s things today.  It wasn’t until I saw picture of my parents that I realized that my husband’s distance was because he feels guilty for my father’s death, not impotence.”

                “Wow, Doctor B.  I’m so sorry.”  Jessica said before sipping some water.

               “Thank you, Ms. Warren.  However, I’m worried too.  I want to get out of here so I can apologize for this morning and tell Booth that I understand now why he’s been so distant.”

                “He loves you, Doctor B.  Booth will understand.”

                “Aubrey loves you, too.  Love isn’t always easy and it takes work, Ms. Warren but I can attest that it’s the most rewarding thing in the world.  Now, to be successful, I can’t stress enough that you two need to communicate.  Less than ideal communication kept Booth and I from admitting how we felt for several years.  I would hate for you and Aubrey to deal with the same difficulties as we did.”

                “But…what if I say the wrong thing, Doctor B?”

                Brennan gave a wan smile.  “Then you say the wrong thing, but it’s honest.  Healthy relationships have to be more than happiness and sex, but also communication and friendship.  True friendship and honest communication helped Booth and I get past the worst of times in our lives.  It’s obvious that Aubrey is your best friend, Jessica and you’re his.  Any strong relationship can survive the worst of times if you make sure to talk to each other, no matter how difficult it is.”

                Jessica nodded before wiping a tear away from her eyes.  “You’re right.”  Jessica said.  “He must be terrified wondering if I’m okay in here.” 

                Brennan nodded.  “Booth must be doing the same thing.  But the magnitude of this explosion surely prompted the arrival of paramedics and the fire department.  Right now, I’m confident that rescue efforts are in effect to get us out of here.  I am grateful that we were in the farthest part of my office and the curtain held back some of the glass.”

                Jessica made a realization.  “What about Sammy?  She was in the lab.”

                “You’re right, Ms. Warren.  I wonder if she’s been injured.”  Brennan said.

                Getting up slowly, the anthropologist moved to what remained of the open window.  Looking out, she scanned the area for a glimpse of the young woman, hoping she wasn’t hurt by the blast.  Then she caught sight of her lying still by the doors.  Brennan saw the large black area on her back and had an idea of the state she was in.  Taking a breath, she turned back to her intern.

                “Ms. Warren, she’s out there by the entrance.  I didn’t see any movement and it appeared she had a massive injury in her back.”

                “Oh no…”  Jessica said.

                Booth and Aubrey arrived at the Jeffersonian and had to drive through a sea of rescue workers, firefighters, bomb squad personnel, news crews, and people they assumed were evacuated from the museum.  Finding a spot, the men ran out and headed to their bomb squad flashing their badges.  Almost immediately, Booth found the person he was looking for giving direction to others.

                “Adam, was it what I thought it was?”

                The chief of the bomb squad looked up.  “It was, Booth.  It seems like the blast was concentrated in the Medico-Legal Lab.”

                “Did you find Doctor Brennan or her intern Jessica Warren?”  Aubrey asked, trying to keep his panic to a minimum. 

                “Rescue workers are attempting to clear a path.  Hoping when Doctor Saroyan gets here she can give us the layout of the lab.”  Adam said.  “While we’re waiting for the go ahead, give me a feature that will make them stand out because from what’s I’ve seen it’s a damn mess in there.” 

                “Bones is tall…probably wearing her blue lab coat and black boots.”  Booth said.

                “Jessica has red hair.  Her lab coat is gray and she had brown boots on when she left this morning.” Aubrey said.

                Quickly, another SUV with a siren pulled up and stopped.  The back doors opened with Cam and Arastoo running out and heading for them.  When the scientists arrived they stopped in their tracks as they took in the destruction. 

                “Booth is it true that Doctor Brennan and Jessica are in there?”  Cam asked as she hugged him.

                “Yeah, they are, Cam.”  The agent said, keeping his emotions down as Adam came back.  “Hey Adam, here’s the head of the lab.”

                The bomb squad captain turned to the pathologist.  “You’re Camille Saroyan?”

                “Yes.”  Cam said while stepping forward.  “I’m Doctor Camille Saroyan.”

                “I need some assistance with your floor plan so my men know where to go.”

                Cam motioned for Arastoo.  “This is my husband who works at the lab.  He also may be of assistance.”

                “Fine.”  Adam said before motioning the two along before being stopped by Booth.

                “How much longer until people can start looking for them?”  The agent said.  “My wife and her intern could be seriously hurt.”

                “We’re trying, Booth, but that bomb blew the ceiling down outside the doors, so we’re blocked at that entrance and the side one.”

                “What can we do?”  Aubrey said, standing behind his partner.

                “Stay out here, Agents.  I don’t want to have to send rescue workers after you, too.”  Turning to Cam, he continued.  “Come with me, please.”

                As the three walked to a nearby table, the frustrated men stood there fidgeting as more workers headed to the entrance.  Aubrey and Booth looked at each other and nodded in agreement.  They only got four steps ahead when a voice stopped.

                “You boys better not be doing what I think you’re doing.”

                Caught, they turned around to see the perturbed face of Caroline Julian.  “Caroline, Bones and Jessica are in there.  They found something in the Kovacs case and were about to tell us.”  Booth replied.

                The older woman walked up to the men.  “Cher, let these people do their jobs.  You’re not going to be doing Doctor Brennan and your ginger haired squintern any good by trying to be heroes.  You hear me?”

                “But Caroline—“

                “Seeley Booth!  Not one more word, you hear me.”  Caroline said sharply before turning to Aubrey.  “That goes for your scrawny butt, too.”

                Booth was prevented from a response when he saw Gordon and Karen stopped by an officer.  Walking over, he waved them through.  “Gordon Gordon, I’m glad to see you.”

                “We were at the FBI going over Doctor Addy’s case when we saw it on the news.  They say people are trapped in there.”

               “Doctor B and Jessica.  They were briefing us on the Kovacs case when the bomb went off.”  Aubrey replied.

                Karen walked the few steps to the younger agent and put her hand on his shoulder.  “Aubrey, what can I do to help?”

                Aubrey was too concerned about his girlfriend to get annoyed with the profiler’s familiarity.  “Nothing unless you know of a way to get Jessica and Doctor B out of there in one piece.”

                “I can’t do that, but let's get some coffee--”   

                Aubrey looked at the profiler like she was insane.  “My girlfriend and my partner’s wife are trapped in a building that was bombed.  They may be seriously injured or worse and the only thing you are thinking about is us getting some fucking coffee?” 

                Karen knew that if she could get his mind off that redhead, she could get somewhere.  “Aubrey, you’re obviously distraught.  Let’s you and I find a quiet place to talk--“

                The agent had enough.  “God, you’re unreal.  The woman I love may be dying and all you can think about is…is…I don’t need coffee…I don’t need a quiet place to talk…I need you to get a fucking clue that I’m not interested.”

                Booth watched Aubrey storm off towards the rescue workers.  After giving Karen an annoyed look, he followed him.  Karen turned around and faced an annoyed Caroline.

                “Get a clue Bonne a rienne.  If you don’ vas te passe une calotte.”

                “What does that mean?”  Karen asked with a gulp.

               “It means if you bother my boy one more time, I’m going to smack you silly.”  Caroline said before walking away, shaking her head. 

               As Booth and Aubrey were going over the plan to get the women out with the first responders, the senior agent heard his name.  Turning around, he saw Cam and Arastoo running towards them.

                “Cam, what’s wrong?”

                “Listen to this.”  Cam said.

                She pushed the speaker button on her phone and then PLAY.  Immediately, Brennan’s voice came on.

                ‘Cam it’s Brennan.  Usually I would not interrupt your sexual coupling this weekend in celebration of your wedding, but this is important.  Sammy Mills is here and says you gave her extra things to work on today at the lab even though no work study students are scheduled Sundays.  When I got here, she was standing by the evidence vault like she was trying to get in.  I don’t want to cause—‘

                “There’s a second one where she continues her message.”  Cam said before queueing up the second message.

                ‘As I was saying, I don’t want to cause undue alarm, but I find her presence here disconcerting as she is all over the platform and constantly by my office or the Bone Room.  Ms. Warren should be here soon so I will examine evidence in my office before returning it to the vault.  If you could call me as soon as possible it would be appreciated.  Thank you.  Once again, sorry for interrupting your honeymoon sexual intercourse—‘

                “Now, you changed the student schedule because of the protocol Hodgins helped set up with Zack’s case, correct?”  Booth asked.

                “Yes along with the sensitivity of the Kovacs case.  We told the students it was due to budget issues to avoid raising suspicions.  I did not give Sammy permission to come in and work today.”

                “Does she have access to the room itself?”  Aubrey asked.

                “No work study student has access to that room.”  Cam said.  “I change that pass code every semester and summer.  However, we are…or we were getting a badge reader entry installed next week.  Access to the evidence vault itself is a combination of badge entry and an individual passcode of the employee’s number.”

                “Who knows the codes?”  Booth said.

                “Senior lab technicians, the interns, Doctor Brennan, Angela, Hodgins, and myself.” 

                “Wait, she was interning on the Scott Hill case until Doctor B fired her, right?”  Aubrey said.

                Cam nodded her head.  “Yes.  Her credentials from Georgetown were impeccable, which is why I hired her.  However, some interns do not hold up to the pressure.  I was sad to see her let go, but Doctor Brennan did what had to be done as her inexperience wasted valuable time.  I had an opening in the work study program this fall so I hired her back based on Jessica’s recommendation.”

                Finally, it dawned on her what her friend was getting at.  “Booth, are you thinking that—“

                “I don’t know, Cam.  I just know that we need to track her down now.”  Booth turned to Aubrey, but he was already hanging up.

                “Booth…I just sent two agents to her place.  Guess where she lives?”

                “Where?”  Booth asked.

                Aubrey took a breath.  “Three doors down from Mark and Jeannine Kovacs.”

                “Son of a bitch…”  Booth replied before everyone turned their heads back to the smoldering Jeffersonian.

Chapter Text

                As the group took in what they just learned about Sammy Mills, Caroline joined them.  “I have to say something to the press.”

                “Just the basics and we’re not releasing the names of who’s in the building if they ask.”  Booth said.  “I don’t want our family or Jessica’s to find out from the news.  Aubrey and I will update them when we have something.”

                “You got it, Cher.”

                Cam felt her phone vibrate.  Looking down she exhaled.  “It’s Michelle.  I need to talk to her.”

                “Go ahead, Cam.”

                The three men remaining watched the Jeffersonian smolder.  There was an awkward silence that Booth felt compelled to break.

                “Arastoo, I’m sorry you and Cam were taken away from your…weekend for this shit.”

                The scientist looked at the agents.  “It’s all right, Booth.  We can’t enjoy our new marriage if our friends are in trouble.”

                Suddenly, Booth’s phone rang.  Grabbing his phone, he groaned when he saw who was calling.  Keeping himself calm, he answered.  “I was just about to call you, Angela.”

                “Caroline is on the news talking about a bomb at the lab.  Is it true?”

                “Yes, it is.”

                “Was anyone hurt?”

                Booth took in a breath as he thought of what to say.  “Not as far as we know.  Listen, Angela—“

                “Can I talk to Brennan for a moment?  I keep getting her voice mail.”

                “She’s unavailable right now, Angela.”

                It was quiet and immediately the agent suspected what was coming.  He could hear her excuse herself from the room to Hodgins and her walking.  When she came back on, he wasn’t disappointed.

                “Is Brennan there, Booth?”

                Booth exhaled.  “Angela—“

                 I’ve tried calling Jessica too but she’s not answering and I can’t reach Aubrey.  Is she there, too?”

                Booth debated lying but knew the jig was up.  “Yes, Angela they are.  However, if you want to help us here, stay there with Hodgins and the kids.  I don’t want them to see this on TV.  Understand?”

                “But Booth—“

                “Angela!  Stay home!  If you want to help Bones, stay with our children…please.”

                “Okay.” The artist responded after a moment of silence.

                “Thank you.”  Booth said before cutting off the phone call.  “Dodged a bullet there.”

                Surprised at no response from his usually loquacious partner, Booth turned to his right.  Immediately, he saw the almost undetectable trembling from the lanky man as he watched the shouldering building.

                Arastoo saw the same thing and sensed his presence wasn’t necessary.  “I’m going to check on Cam.  She should be almost done talking to Michelle.”

                Booth watched the scientist walk away and waited until they had a modicum of privacy. “Aubrey, we’re going to get them out.  Between the two of them, their IQ is over 300.  They’ll figure out a way to stay safe until the workers can find them.”

                The junior agent was silent for a moment.  “You want to know why we fought this morning?”

                Booth could see that Aubrey’s nerves were shot as he tried to maintain his professionalism.  “Why, Aubrey?”

                The lanky man looked down for a moment as he pressed his lips together.  “I didn’t tell her about my father’s interview with Investigation Discovery. She found out from that researcher who ambushed them at Cam’s party.  Of course, Jess didn’t tell me about being ambushed either.  I found out that tidbit from Doctor B and I was upset about that.  We fought about all that a few hours after dinner with Gordon.  She said she was tired of me not confiding in her about my father.  When I told her I was trying to protect her, it really pissed her off.  She was still steaming about it this morning, so she left.  She said it was to work on her dissertation, but she needed space…from me.”

                “I’m sure she understands—“

                “No Booth, she didn’t…and she shouldn’t.”  Aubrey said.  “You know, I was spitting nails with Gordon comparing me to Mark Kovacs, but he was right.”

                Booth thought for a second and felt guilty.  He only wanted his partner to rethink his stance on marriage, not take the comparison to their killer to heart.  “No, Aubrey…”

                “It’s true.  While I think Kovacs fearing his wife would leave him is a stretch, I think a part of me has always been afraid Jessica…can find something better.  Once my dad came back, all these feelings that I thought I had dealt with came back with a vengeance.  I would alternate between being afraid of being left behind and afraid I would do something to hurt Jessica.  It always kept me from…being close to anyone…but her.”

                “What about Jessica, Aubrey?”  Booth said.  “I know this isn’t one-sided.”

                Aubrey took a breath.  “She’s afraid of us being like her parents.”  Aubrey said quietly.  “Their marriage…was bad.  Her mother…was and is a hot mess.  It was hard for her growing up not knowing what to expect, but her father loved her mother…until he couldn’t anymore.” 

                “Sounds like you two were trying to protect each other when you needed to do the opposite.  It was stuff like that that kept Bones and I apart for years, too scared to take the final step together.”  Booth said with a voice of experience.  “If you’re not breaking a confidence, what finally got her parents to divorce?”

                Aubrey gave his partner the quick version of what led up to the dissolution of the marriage.  “After what happened, her father filed for divorce the next day.  Jess and her brothers keep their contact with her to a minimum, especially when she’s off her meds.  They love her but it’s too much to always be riding that roller coaster, especially for Aaron, Mike, and Stephan now that they have kids.”

                “That must be hard for all of them.”  Booth said.  “My dad and I…I had Pops and now Bones.  You do move on but it’s difficult.  You need someone won’t be pushed away so easily and will be in the long haul to fight when the other can’t.”

                The younger agent nodded.  “Like Doctor B?”

                “Yes, like Bones.”  Booth said.  “Like Jessica.  You two…you’re not just lovers, but best friends, Aubrey.  Your friendship will get you two through this.”

                “Yeah.”  Aubrey said while shoving his hands in his pockets.  “I did something this morning that help me…a lot.”

                Booth looked at Aubrey.  “You saw your father, didn’t you?”

                Aubrey was silent for a moment before he nodded slowly.  “I did.”

                “That had to be a hard thing to do.”  Booth said.  “How did it go?”

                “Once I figured out that I made him to be scarier than he actually was, it was easy to get the answers I needed.  I said what I had to say and left without turning back.”  Aubrey said. 

                “I’m glad, Aubrey.”  Booth said.  “I…I visited Max today.”

                The younger man turned to his friend.  “How did that go?”

                Booth thought about his purge and being crapped on by the birds.  “Messy, but enlightening.  It was something that needed to be done.”

                “So…how do you feel?”

                “Ready to take my wife in my arms when they come out.  Then, I’m going to apologize for being a dick this morning.”

                “You never did tell me what you two fought about.”

                “Max’s death has been difficult for both of us and it came out in different ways.”  Booth replied vaguely.  “When she confronted me about my actions of late, I was embarrassed and took off without at least talking to her.  Being Bones…she came here to clear her head by working the case.” 

                Aubrey read between the lines and decided to keep his opinion to himself.  “When they come out, I’m going to hold onto Jessica as tight as I can, tell her how much I love her and that I’m sorry for being an asshat.  Aubrey said before he choked up.  “I just want to have that conversation, you know.”

                Booth put a hand on his arm.  “You will have that conversation with her…and when you do, you two will be stronger for it.”

                 Jessica took a drink out of the YETI cup Brennan offered.  “Okay, that’s a good shake.  I love cream soda.”

                “Yes, it…has its merits, plus the calcium is good for your injury.”  Brennan said.  There was a minute of silence before she spoke up again.  “Gordon’s words were quite effective Saturday night as they contributed to me going through my father’s things.  However, they struck a nerve with Booth.  Of course, my actions this morning made things worse.”

                Jessica made a face before making a decision.  “I have a confession to make, Doctor B.”

                “What’s that, Ms. Warren?” The older woman said as she sat down the large cup.

                “Aubrey and I…we kind of set you and Booth up.”

                “Set us up? How?”

                Jessica took a drink of her water.  “Aubrey and I saw how distant you and Booth seemed to be and how sad you were about your father.  He got the idea to ask Gordon to have a dinner with the four of us.  He was going to use our fathers only by example but he went a little further than planned because being compared to Kovacs really, really upset Aubrey.”

                Brennan contemplated for a moment.  “I also…have a confession, Ms. Warren.”

                “What’s that?”  Jessica said.

                “Booth and I…set you and Aubrey up with Doctor Wyatt as well.”  Brennan admitted.  When she saw the puzzled face of her intern, she continued.  “You and Aubrey both declared you did not want to ever get married but your body language and other behaviors clearly indicate otherwise, Ms. Warren.  If you two chose this path because you both feel this way, that’s one thing.  However, Booth and I think you’re both scared because of past experiences.  We…don’t want you to go through what we did.  We spent years wasting time because both of us were too scared…too afraid to lose what we had.”

                Jessica nodded.  “Besides Aubrey, I also talked to my dad about…him and my mom.  He…told me just because things between them turned bad doesn’t mean they will with Aubrey.  I was going to talk to Superman tonight about what my dad said and because I was mean to him this morning, but then…”

                The intern gestured around with her left arm.  “…all this happened.”

                Brennan thought about her words carefully.  “Do you want to marry Aubrey?”

                The redhead hesitated before answering.  “Yes…someday.  I’m not ready for that step but I like the pace we’re going to get there.  People make fun of us because we’re not mega lovey dovey, or because we do fun stuff like going to Star Wars conventions.  A few even commented that we’re dragging our feet in regards to the future, but we’re happy together and it feels right.  What’s wrong with how we’re doing things, Doctor B?”

                “Besides your less than stellar communication with each other, nothing Ms. Warren if you and Aubrey are happy.”  Brennan said.  “I was just afraid perhaps Booth and I went too far…”

                “No Doctor B.  You just gave us a nudge in the right direction.  However, if Aubrey and I stuck our nose where we shouldn’t have, I’m sorry…”

                “Ms. Warren, what you did was fine.  Obviously both of our relationships needed some guidance and we got it.  Gordon Wyatt is quite a smart man.”

                “Yeah, he is.”

                Brennan smiled.  “Now, you’ve just said to me that you are open to marriage.  If I’m not being too nosy, is this one of the things you will be talking to Aubrey about?”

                “Yeah…”  Jessica said as she felt a tear fall.  “I love him so much, Doctor B.  I don’t want my last words to my boyfriend to be in anger.”

                Brennan touched the young woman’s arm.  “Ms. Warren, we’re going to get out of here.  You’re going to probably have an open reduction and internal fixation of your right leg with an intermedullary rod inserted, followed by a cast and months of physical therapy.  I will have to get a proper sling for my shoulder.  Then you’re going to tell Aubrey what you told me and I suspect it will be something he will appreciate.  When able, I will talk to my husband and apologize for my erroneous assumption this morning as well as for not seeing the depth of his pain sooner.”

                Jessica wiped away a tear.  “It seems we both have some apologizing to do.”

                “It would appear so.”  Brennan said.

                Suddenly, there was banging coming from towards the platform.  As it got louder, they heard a crash before a voice called out.  “Anyone in here?”

                “In here!”  Jessica yelled.

                “We’re in my office and we’ll need a stretcher for my intern.”  Brennan chimed in.  Turning to her intern, she smiled.  “I told you they would find us, Ms. Warren.”

                Cam, Arastoo, Gordon, Caroline, and Karen joined Booth and Aubrey outside again.  The two agents continued to pace as they tried avoiding the sight of the bombed museum. 

                “Please let Bones be all right.  Please Max watch over Bones and Jessica in there.  The kids can’t lose their mom.  I can’t lose her, too…not like this.”

                Aubrey kicked an imaginary stone on the grass.  “Mom, watch out for Jessica and Doctor B please.  I love Jess more than my own life.  I want to be able to tell her that again.  I can’t lose her now that I’ve finally got my head out of my butt.”

                “Agent Booth!  Agent Aubrey!”

                The men turned around to the unfamiliar voice and saw a wobbly Brennan being accompanied by two rescue workers.  They tried pulling her towards the First Aid area, but she made them change course.  “No, not until I see my husband….whoa.”

                Booth took the three steps over before hugging his wife carefully, noting the makeshift sling.  “Bones, what’s going on with your arm?”

                “I have what I suspect to be an AC separation to my left shoulder.  I’ve also got a very mild concussion.”

                Aubrey was worried when he didn’t see Jessica.  Coming over to the couple, he tried quelling his panic.  “Doctor B, how is Jess—“

                He was interrupted by a hand on his shoulder.  Turning around, Aubrey saw that it was Karen.

                “Aubrey, I’m so sorry about Jessica.  If there’s anything—“

                 Brennan rolled her eyes and interrupted.  “Maybe you should find out for yourself, Aubrey.” 


                Turning around, Aubrey saw a familiar redhead being carried out on a stretcher looking for him.   Forgetting about the profiler, he ran over to the steps that the young woman was being carried down from by two firefighters.  Arriving, he kissed his girlfriend and she responded before wincing.

                “Ouch, Aubrey, my back hurts a bit.  I feel like I was hit by ten TIE fighters.”

                Aubrey laughed until he saw her splint and the bandage tinged with blood.  “Your leg!  What happened?”

                “Big heavy shelf landed me.  Doctor B says I fractured my tibia.”

                “Is that bad?”  Aubrey said.  “It looks painful.”

                “Pretty bad, but she splinted it for me after cleaning it up.”  Jessica said as she held his hand while they traveled.  “We may have to alter our Valentine’s Day plans slightly, Aubrey.  I don’t think your light saber will be getting much action.”

                Aubrey saw the medics put his anthropologist on the gurney and her wincing.  “I don’t care if you are in a full body cast, Jessica Elizabeth Warren.  Tuesday is a day to be with the one you love and it’s the company that is most important, not what they do.”

                “We have stuff to talk about, Superman.”  Jessica said as they held hands while moving.

                “We do, but I’m more concerned about you right now, Jess.”  Aubrey said before looking down again.  “Your leg looks really nasty.”

                “Thanks.”  Jessica said with a chuckle. 

                The medic turned to the FBI agent.  “You coming in the ambulance?”

                Aubrey gave the man a stern look.  “You couldn’t keep me away.”

                Jessica was loaded into the ambulance and Aubrey climbed in after them.  When all were inside, the other medic shut the door, climbed in, and it started to move.   As the vehicle turned onto the street, Jessica groaned. 

                “Uuuugggghhh.  I want to puke.  Doctor B’s Tylenol is wearing off big time.”

                “Relax, ma’am and keep still.  Your leg has a nasty break and it looks like you’re going to need surgery.”  The medic said.

                “No shit.  I was there when it happened and I saw the bone when it was sticking out of my leg.”  Jessica replied wearily. 

                ‘She saw the bone sticking out of her leg?’  Aubrey thought, feeling a little green around the gills at his girlfriend’s last comment.  The agent’s nausea was interrupted by Jessica continuing to argue with the EMT. 

                “I’m keeping still, Buddy, but I need to talk to my boyfriend.”

                “Jess, whatever it is, we can talk about it later.”  Aubrey said while holding her hand.

                “No…it’s about the…case, Superman.  I have to tell you what we…found.”

                Booth and Brennan were arguing as two medics were pushing her gurney towards another ambulance. 

                “Booth, I was perfectly capable of walking—“

                “No, because you got dizzy three times.”  Booth retorted.

                “I don’t need an ambulance—“ An exasperated Brennan shot back.

                “Yes you do, Bones.”  Booth stated.  “You have a head injury and your left shoulder looks really bad.  You said it felt like--”

                “You could have driven me to the hospital—“

                Booth watched as the paramedics started to put his wife in the ambulance.  “This is much quicker, Bones.”

                After the agent climbed in the back, their ambulance followed Jessica’s in leaving.  However, Brennan was not being a cooperative patient.

                “Bones, stay still.  You have a concussion plus your shoulder is messed up.”  Booth said in exasperation.

                “Booth, if you tell me to stay still one more time, your sniper will not have target practice for a long time.”  Brennan said in frustrated annoyance.  “Now listen to me.  Let me tell you what we found about the case because I’m certain Ms. Warren is telling Aubrey what we found as well…”

                “Damn it Bones, Jessica and Aubrey are more concerned about other things.  Kovacs can wait until you both are in the clear--“

                “Booth!”  Brennan said.  When she got her husband’s attention, she started to talk but the medic pushed her back down.

                “Ma’am you need to stay still.  We’re almost to the hospital.”

                “I have to talk to my husband first.  It’s important.”  Brennan said to the medic before turning to her husband.  “Now listen to me.”

                “ETA two minutes.”

                “Shit!”  Jessica said.  “Better make it quick.”

                Aubrey listened as his girlfriend spoke quickly as she gave him their findings on the Kovacs case, not concerned about how banged up she was or the seriousness of her leg injury.   As she delved further, his eyes bulged.  When the ambulance arrived at the hospital, she continued to speak as the doors opened, and they crossed the bay into the ER.  She finished when the medics stopped at the ER clerk’s desk to inquire about her room.

                “Are you sure, Jess?”

                 “Superman, an explosion tossed me like a rag doll into Doctor B’s wall and a very, very heavy bookshelf fell on my damn leg.  The Tylenol she gave me from the nauseating pain has now totally wore off, and I’m really pissed.  However, I did not hit my head and I am coherent.”  Jessica said exasperated.  “What do you think?”

                “Sir the orthopedic surgeon is on her way so we have to get her to X-Ray immediately and prep an OR to debride her leg and repair her two lacerations.”  The clerk said.  “You need to wait elsewhere.”

                “I’ll be in your room, Jess.”

                “Wait!”  Jessica said as she grabbed the medic’s sleeve and turned to her boyfriend.  “Doctor B and Booth will be here soon.  Don’t sit around and wait for us.  You guys need to get that crazy bitch.”

                “Are you sure, Bones?”

                The anthropologist look at her husband incredulously.  “I have slight impairment from my concussion, the pain from my shoulder is very high, and my entire body feels like it was hit by a car.  However, it has not affected my faculties to the point I can’t recall what I found with my intern today.”

                “I’m sorry.”  Booth said.  “I’m still shaking.  When I saw you two disappear on the monitor, I almost lost my shit because I didn’t know what happened.  When we did, I was terrified I would never see you again.”

                “I know, Booth.”  Brennan said, softened by her husband’s words.  “I was afraid I would never see you, Hank, Parker, and Christine ever again.”

                Brennan’s ambulance arrived next to Jessica’s.  As the medics were pulling her out, Booth followed as she finished telling Booth the rest of their discovery.  While the EMTs were waiting on which room to go into, they saw Aubrey at the nurses’ station watching Jessica be wheeled back.

                “Sir, you will need to wait in the lobby.”  A nurse said as she assisted the medic.

                 “FBI Agent Seeley Booth.”  Booth said before whipping out his badge.  “That man right there is Special Agent James Aubrey.  We want updates on my wife and Ms. Jessica Warren as soon as possible.”

                As they took Brennan away, Aubrey saw his boss and trotted over.  “Booth!  Did Doctor B tell you—“

                “Yeah she did.  I can’t believe we didn’t think of that.”

                “I’ve got Shaw working on locating her as we speak.”  Aubrey said.  “Our women are too smart for us, you know.”

                “Yeah, but I’m okay with that.”  Booth said.  “How’s Jessica?”

                “They’re taking her to X-Ray.  After the orthopedic surgeon checks her out, she has to be taken into the OR to clean up her leg to prevent infection.  Jess says because they saw the bone stick out the surgeon will want to operate on her leg.  How about Doctor B?”

                “May not need surgery, but she’s got a concussion.  It could have been so much worse, Aubrey.  We need to get her.  She’s made us chase our tails for too long.”

                The senior agent pulled out his phone and dialed a number.  After a couple of rings, the person on the other end answered.  “It’s Booth.  Listen, I need your help.  Bones and Jessica told us what they found.  I’ve got an idea, but I need your opinion before going any further.  Can you meet us at St. George’s?  Great.  Thanks.”

                “Who was that, Booth?”  Aubrey asked.

                “The one person who can help us right now.”  Booth replied. 

Chapter Text

                Twenty minutes later, Booth and Aubrey saw who they were waiting for but he wasn’t alone.  “Great.”  Aubrey said.  “Just what I need.”

                “Easy, Aubrey.”  Booth said as the two people approached.  “Hey Gordon, thanks for coming.”

                “Of course, Agent Booth—“

                “So you need our assistance?” Karen said eagerly.  “Totally awesome sauce.”

                Booth pushed his annoyance with the profiler aside.  “Well, I asked for Gordon Gordon’s but if you can help, too we’ll take it.”

                Gordon sighed.  Karen joined him before he could turn her down.  However, any annoyances he or the agents had with her needed to be put aside.  Time was of the essence to find the criminal before someone else got hurt…or worse, killed.

                “How can we help?”

                “Well, Jess and Doctor B figured out who Kovac’s accomplice was.”  Aubrey said, focusing his attention on Gordon.  “We have people looking for her but she’s smart.  Booth has an idea to smoke her out and we wanted your input.”

                “We’d be happy to help you, Aubrey.”  Karen said with a smile.

                The Englishman looked at the young woman one more time before refocusing.  “What’s your idea, Agent Booth?” 

                “Well…”  Booth said as he explained his idea.  When he finished, he looked hopeful.  “What do you think?”

                “That is genius Agent Booth.”  Karen said before turning to the younger agent and putting her hand on his arm.  “Aubrey how are you—“

                “Agent Aubrey, we’re prepping Ms. Warren to debride her leg.  She and Doctor Elias are asking for you.”

                “On my way.”  Aubrey said before turning to Booth.  “Are you good for a while?  I still have to call Jess’s brothers.”

                “Yeah, Bones is getting a CT scan now before Doctor Elias checks her out and they stitch her up.  I’ll update you when Jessica goes in the OR.”  Booth said.

                “Thanks.”  Aubrey said before following the nurse down, not noticing Karen’s pained expression.

                Gordon felt sorry for the young woman, but she was bringing it on herself.  Putting his attention back to Booth, he gave his thoughts.  “This is what you should do, Agent Booth…”

                At 8:30 PM, reporters were waiting in a hospital conference room.  A minute later, a doctor came out with a medical team following her.  She was a petite blonde who at first glance looked like a homecoming queen, but she stood firm.

                “I’m Doctor Lindsey Elias, a surgeon here at St. George’s Medical Center.  I’m here to give an update on the two victims of today’s bombing.”

                The surgeon waited before continuing.  “Doctor Temperance Brennan suffered a head injury along with a Class III separated shoulder and various superficial injuries.  Ms. Jessica Warren suffered contusions and lacerations to her right side of her body as well as an eight millimeter open oblique fracture of her tibia.  Both women are in stable but good condition and we are confident that both of them will make a full recovery.  Thank you.”

                The surgeon and her team stepped down as Caroline stepped up to the podium.  “According to preliminary findings by the ATF, the bomb that destroyed the Jeffersonian Medico - Legal lab had military grade C-4 and other explosives.  They credit the fact that the women were behind a curtain and on the far end of Doctor Brennan’s office with saving their lives.”

                The US Attorney took a breath.  “We have one confirmed casualty of today’s attack.  Her name is Samantha Mills, age 26.  She was a work study student at the lab who was working this weekend.”

                Caroline turned the page.  “Before the attack, Doctor Brennan and Ms. Warren were studying the Mark Kovacs case and found new evidence to suggest there was an accomplice.  Tomorrow afternoon when they are both stable, both women will be debriefed on their findings.  Follow that, the U.S. Attorney’s office along with the FBI’s Homicide Division are confident arrest warrants will be issued for the individual or individuals involved in today’s events or any other previous crimes of Mr. Kovacs.”

                Caroline flipped the final page.  “That is all until the press conference scheduled for tomorrow morning at 8:00 AM.  Good night.”

                The older woman walked off the stage, ignoring the loud questions of the press.  Walking through the exit, she turned a corner and greeted Booth and Aubrey as well as Karen and Gordon.

                “Okay Chef man, you better be right about this.”

                “Ms. Julian, I am confident that this will draw out the person who helped Mr. Kovacs in his previous crimes and is responsible for the attack on Doctor Brennan, Jessica, and the late Ms. Mills.”

                Booth heard a throat clear.  “Karen contributed, too.”

                Caroline turned to Aubrey.  “How’s your ginger-haired squintern?”

                “They’re still working on cleaning her leg and she’s getting IV antibiotics before fixing her leg in surgery tomorrow.”

                “What time is her surgery, Aubrey?”  Booth asked.

                “6:00 AM.” Aubrey said.  “Jess’s brothers are going to be here since I may be working the case, but I’m going to be there when she wakes up.”

                Caroline smiled her approval.  “And yours, Seeley?”

                “Resting.  Doctor Elias said we can try the non-surgical route for her shoulder.  She thinks we can avoid surgery if Bones follows directions and rests.”

                “Good luck with that, Cher.” Caroline said.  “Well, you boys better get back to work.  You have a long night ahead for both of you.”

                The attorney and two profilers watched as the two agents walked quickly to the elevators.  “I need a Beignet.”  Caroline said before taking her leave.               

                When they were alone, Gordon saw Karen watching the hallway still.  “Karen, can I ask you a question?”

                Startled, Karen turned to the older man.  “Yes?”

                “Forgive me for being forward, but it’s fairly obvious that you are attracted to Agent Aubrey and desire a more…personal relationship with him.”

                “Yes.  We’re friends now, but we have a connection that can’t be ignored.”

                Gordon crossed his arms.  “You do realize that Aubrey and Jessica are not just good friends who have recently started dating, but are in a committed relationship.”

                “Well…yes…, but she’s a graduate student almost five years younger than him.  I’m five years older, but much more mature.  Besides, from what I’ve heard, monogamous relationships are not her strong suit.  On the other hand, I’m ready to settle down.”

                “Karen.”  Gordon said.  “It’s obvious that Aubrey is in love with Jessica and she returns his affections.  Do you really want to be that person?  The annoying twit who can’t take a hint and instead of respecting the friendship offered, keeps pushing for more to the point the object of affection won’t even be friends with them anymore?”

                “Of course not, because I won’t be.”  Karen said with confidence.  “Once the novelty of having a steady boyfriend wears off, she’ll dump Aubrey and move on.  Look at her with Doctor Sweets.  She dumped him and he got back together with his ex-girlfriend.”

                “Who also happened to be his ex-fiancee and also pregnant with his child.”  Gordon said.  “Doctor Sweets and I discussed it in great length before his untimely death.  Contrary to your interpretation, the breakup was mutual and Jessica is now good friends with Daisy.”


                “Karen, you’re not someone Aubrey had an emotional connection with before he met Jessica.  You’re someone who worked on a case where he and Doctor Hodgins were almost murdered by two angry teenagers.”

                “But I’m the one who found out his father was back—“

                “Yes, after consulting on the case involving the private investigator his father hired to keep track of Aubrey.  A few days earlier, you asked him out on a date and he turned you down.  He has attempted to maintain a professional relationship with you, but he’s not as concerned about that as the lack of respect he sees you have for Jessica.”

                “I don’t—“

                “She has offered you friendship, as Aubrey has but you want what you want.  If you don’t stop pushing boundaries, Karen, you will leave both of them no choice but to end all contact with you.”          

                “T-that’s not going to happen.”  Karen said.

                “It will when Aubrey find out it was you who tipped off the people from Investigation Discovery so they would find Jessica the night of Doctors Saroyan and Vaziri’s gatherings.”

                Karen felt sick to her stomach.  “I didn’t—“

                “You did, young lady.”  Gordon said.  “I saw you outside Aubrey’s office that day when he was talking about his father’s interview.  You were the only one not only with something to gain, but also access to the Jeffersonian’s side door where you could let them in without detection.”

                “You can’t prove any of that.”  Karen said in desperation.

                “Here’s a thought for you.”  Gordon said.  “Instead of trying to force a relationship with someone who is already taken, why don’t you open your eyes and look around?  Someone is out there waiting for you, Karen if you would just pay attention.  Not only that, but you would also gain two good friends in the process.”


                “Yes.  Aubrey and Jessica.  I think you could use more friends, especially of the female persuasion.”  Gordon said before his phone rang.  “Think about what I’ve said.  Excuse me.”

                Gordon answered the phone while walking.  “Hello?  Yes love…I do think we need to talk…”

                Karen watched the older man walk away.  As she headed to the elevator, she pondered the other psychiatrist’s words.  Getting in, she pushed the button for the cafeteria.  She needed some coffee before later tonight.

                It was 11:00 when she arrived the hospital with the stolen badge.  The bomb was supposed to take care of Doctor Brennan and her intern but the twit messed up.  At least she died and that connection is severed.

                ‘Sometimes to do a job right, you just have to do it yourself.’ She thought.

                Finding the back entrance, she pressed the badge and was granted entry.  Remembering where the kiosks are from when she volunteered here, she went to the one by the outpatient laboratory.  Using the badge to the reader, she was granted entry to the system.  Remembering where to go, she found the bedboard and searched.  To her amazement, the two women were in the same room.

                Ducking into the nearby supply closet, she came out a few minutes later wearing scrubs.  Entering the stairwell, she walked to the 5th floor and opened the door.  Seeing no one, she went to the nearby medication room, gaining entry with the badge.  Finding the potassium chloride, she searched for syringes.  When she found them, she filled two of them, carefully put the medication back, and left the room.

                Finding the room in question, she walked in the darkened space.  She smiled as she saw the two women asleep.  She debated on who to do first, but decided to save Doctor Brennan for last.

                Walking over to Jessica’s IV, she found the port in her hand.  Grabbing the first syringe, she injected all the contents.  When done, she carefully did a one scoop recap.  Finding Brennan’s port, she repeated the process.  Knowing death would not take long, she turned her flashlight to Brennan’s bed to watch.  However, when she turned the light towards the forensic anthropologist, she was shocked. 

                Suddenly, the light came on.  Turning around, she was stunned to see Booth and Aubrey pointing their weapons at her. 

                “Told you she would be here before midnight, Aubrey.  You owe me twenty bucks.”  Booth said. 

                “Hi Mrs. Kovacs or should I say Ms. Zlada Radik?” Aubrey said before looking to her right hand.  “Would you look at that?  A zig-zag scar on your thumb just like the one my girlfriend described to me.”

                Jeannine Kovacs spun around to see Agent Olivia Sparling removing her red wig.  “How the hell are you two still alive?  I pumped you both with enough potassium chloride to induce a heart attack almost immediately.”

                Karen pulled her glasses from their hiding spot, put them on, and held up her IV catheter.  “Instead of the needle going into the skin, we put it back in the tube and taped it such that you couldn’t tell.  Agents Aubrey and Booth suspected when the FBI announced that Jessica and Doctor Brennan survived the blast, you would try to finish off them off because they could connect you to your brother and his crimes.  So…they set up a trap for you.”

                “Which you totally fell for.  You have a big mouth, Ms. Kovacs.”  Sparing said as she pulled off her hospital gown before pulling out a tape recorder.  “I believe that would be…four counts of attempted murder, two for Doctor Brennan and two for Jessica.  Don’t worry…we won’t to add that count of first degree murder for Samantha Mills, the girl you did kill today.”

                “I didn’t know any Sammy Mills.”  Jeannine said.

                Aubrey walked up.  “Sammy?  How do you know she went by ‘Sammy’?”

                “Take her to the Hoover, Sparling.”  Booth said.  “We’ll be down to interrogate her later.”

                “You got it, Agent Booth.”  The blonde said before handcuffing Kovacs.  “You have the right to be silent.  Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law.”

                While the agent was arresting the suspect, Karen removed her wig and took off her gown in a hurry.  Greeting the agents, she smiled.  “Wow, what a rush.  I’ve never been part of a sting before.”

                “Thank you for your help, Karen.  It’s appreciated.”  Aubrey said.

                “Oh Aubrey,” Agent Sparling said.  “Let Jessica know how sorry I am I had to cancel on her last Tuesday but I definitely want a raincheck for that girls night out.

                “Will do Olivia.”  Aubrey said before watching the agent escort their suspect out.

                Unfazed, Karen continued.  “So how about you and I Aubrey…and you Agent Booth head to the diner for some coffee?”  The profiler said.

                “I appreciate the offer Karen, but I want to check on my wife and update her on what happened before we interrogate Jeannine Kovacs.  If I don’t, I’ll be in trouble.”

                The profiler turned to Aubrey.  “What do you say, Aubrey?  My treat.”

                “Sorry, Karen.  I want to check on Jessica before Booth and I start the interrogation.  Thank you though.”

                “Of course.  Give your ladies my best wishes.”  Karen said flustered before hastily leaving.

                Booth and Aubrey walked out of the room.  Heading down the hallway, they made their way around the nurses’ station before stopping outside a room.

                “Give me about twenty minutes with Bones and I’ll meet you at the nurses’ station.  Is that long enough for you and Jessica?”

                “Yeah, Booth.”  Aubrey said heading to Jessica’s room.

                By 12:30, an exhausted Booth and Aubrey were in the interrogation room with Jeannine Kovacs.  Not to their surprise, she was cool, calculating, and full of hubris. 

                They couldn’t wait to break her.

                The younger agent put his hands on the back of a chair before leaning into their suspect.  “So the fact that you referred to Ms. Mills by her nickname is all coincidence, Jeannine?”

                “Yes.  A lot of people named Samantha go by Sammy or a derivative of that.”

                “How about the fact you lived three doors down from the victim?”  Booth said.  “Another coincidence, Zlata?”

                “Yes.” She said in a cold voice.  “I saw her around the building, but my brother and I had busy careers.  Why would we waste our valuable time on a frumpy graduate student?”

                “I don’t know…perhaps to get an in at the lab so you and your brother could keep tabs on everyone.”  Aubrey said.  “I think it’s fascinating that Sammy’s work ID for St. George’s just happened to be in your possession.”

                “I found it outside.  As I’ve said, I didn’t know her besides seeing her in the halls of our building.  Mark and I didn’t have much time for friendships.”

                Booth pulled out a file.  “You started volunteering there after your employment as a medical assistant in an urgent care was terminated, correct?”

                “I’m not denying that.”  Jeannine said.  “There were cutbacks, so I obtained my real estate license and went to work for my adoptive father’s firm.”

                “Of course not.”  Booth said before slamming the file on the table.  “It’s also interesting that you were removed from the volunteer program after it was discovered that you were fired for stealing medication at your former employer.”

                The woman’s spine stiffened.  “My co-worker was incompetent and I got the blame.” 

                Booth read further.  “I saw that one of Mark’s routes was St. George’s and he had friends there.  Three years ago, Sammy Mills, a part time college student and pharmacy technician, moved into that building.  I am going to venture a guess that you were recommended for volunteer work through Ms. Mills…perhaps your husband…I’m sorry…brother, gave you neighbor an extra incentive….”

                “For the last time, she was someone I passed in the halls.”  Jeannine said in a snarl.  “Doesn’t repeating the same old shit get boring to you?”

                Booth was about to speak when he heard Gordon through his earpiece.  ‘She seems very close to her brother with a sense of resentment if anyone tried to break that.  Use it to your advantage, gentlemen.’

                “Maybe she was just a passerby to you, but perhaps it was different for Mark.  Maybe they became closer after Sammy became their neighbor.”  Aubrey said.

                “Maybe…just maybe…”  Booth said, looking to provoke the woman.  “…Mark Kovacs wanted a little something on the side…”

                “Fuck you!”  Jeannette said as she lost her temper.  “No way did my brother go for sexual favors from that…girl.”

                “Really…are you sure about that?”  Booth asked.

                “Yes, because I was always the most important person in his life.  I tolerated the crush she had on him.  After she fucked up by getting fired last year, I wanted to ditch her, but Mark wouldn’t let me.  He said I had to keep my temper to myself and to keep our cover story.”

                “Cover story?”  Aubrey said.

                “We convinced her that the Bosnian government was working with Doctor Brennan on a genocide case that was setting Mark up.  Whenever the twit softened, we just reminded her of how it was your wife that fired her.  That way, she stayed focused on our end goal.”

                “What was your end goal, Jeannine?”  Booth asked, nothing the steel reserve was starting to crack.

                The real estate agent smiled.  “To get the bastard who killed our father…you, Agent Booth.  We bided our time…and when Sammy got herself re-hired, we knew the time was right.  Using Mark’s connections, we found out about Aldo Clements and Mike Reiss.  I will admit that it was harder than we anticipated because my brother was so sure that Aldo would fold easily for more heroin.  Didn’t think he would kill himself before we could get answers out of him.”

                “Why Margaret Kwan?”  Aubrey said.

                “I have properties that I sell nearby, including the building next door.  It wasn’t hard to observe when the same package came each week.  We didn’t torture her more than we had to.  We gave her a quick death so she wouldn’t suffer.”

                “That was very generous of you.”  Aubrey said with sarcasm.

                Booth started to grind his teeth.  “My father-in-law?”

                Jeannine laughed.  “He was a consolation prize because our bodyguards fucked up when we sent them after your children.  Mark used his connections at St. Francis and other hospitals to find out when Max Keenan’s surgery was.  After that it was just a matter of time of piggypacking the signal from his pacemaker.  I wanted your children so you could understand what my mother felt when she was ripped away from us and sent to prison.” 

                Booth knew she wanted to pontificate about her mother, but he wouldn’t take the bait.  “So why the bomb, Jeannine?”

                “Because while you only had the cords to the pads, it was only a matter of time until you discovered who we were.  Sammy told us last week of how the Jeffersonian got boxes of items from the Bosnian Embassy.  I couldn’t take that chance of our plans being ruined so I made a bomb and gave it to her to put in the evidence vault this weekend.  She said she had the combination from when she was an intern.  Of course, that Doctor Saroyan had to change the code.”

                “Did you always mean to kill Sammy?”  Aubrey said.

                Jeannine exhaled.  “What else could I do?  She was a liability.  When she called me and said that your wife and that redheaded twit showed up, she worried about people getting hurt.  So I made a production of putting a smoke bomb on the original and convinced her it was just to get them out of the building before the real one went off.”

                “But there wasn’t a smoke bomb on the incendiary device, was there?”  Booth asked quietly.

                “No.  She was ruining the plan my brother and I worked years to perfect, so she had to be eliminated now rather than later.  I told her to put it by the office so the smoke bomb would get to them.  Obviously she couldn’t follow directions because she put it in the middle of the damn lab.”

                “The evidence would then be destroyed along with your link to the Jeffersonian.”  Aubrey started.

                “…and my wife and his girlfriend would be murdered in the process, along with any discoveries they made destroyed.”  Booth said.

                Jeannine turned to Aubrey.  “Sorry about that, Agent.  What is her name…Jessica?  She would have been fine if she would have just stayed home.”

                “I have to ask…why pose as husband and wife?”  Aubrey said, his attempt to maintain his professionalism ebbing by the second.

                “Because,” Jeannette said with pride.  “It was the perfect cover.  A brother and sister living together would raise questions.  However, people who are married obviously live together.  Worst case scenario, if Mark was caught I would still be able to handle things.  Who would suspect a blindsided wife of a husband who never told her his father was a war criminal?”

                “I hope you enjoy prison, Ms. Kovacs because that’s where you’ll be spending the rest of your life.”  Aubrey said.

                “No matter.  My brother and I will find another way to deal with you people.  Our parents’ deaths will be avenged.”

                “Well, not in solitary confinement.”  Booth said with a smirk as he walked over to the woman.  “We can’t put you in gen pop because fellow prisoners don’t like attempted child killers.  Wouldn’t want you to end up like your mother.”

                “You son of a bitch!”  Jeannette said before jumping across the desk.  She almost clawed Booth, but he pushed her down on the desk with Aubrey’s help and handcuffed her. 

                “Assaulting a federal agent…that’s another felony, so here we go again.”  Booth said before reading her his rights.  “Jeannine Kovacs, you have the right to remain silent…anything you say can and will be used against you…”

             At around 3:00 AM, Booth and Aubrey came back to the hospital.  After flashing their badges, they headed up to their significant other’s rooms.

                Aubrey tip towed inside Jessica’s darkened room.  He watched her for a moment as she slept, wiping away a tear as he thought about how he almost lost her several hours ago.  Composing himself, he stripped down to his boxers to change into the shirt and pajama pants he brought there earlier.

                “This is definitely one of my favorite views of you, Special Agent Aubrey.”

                Startled, Aubrey turned around, purposely avoiding looking at his girlfriend’s leg up in traction.  “You’re supposed to be sleeping, Jessica.  You have surgery in a few hours.”

                “I’ll sleep when I get a kiss and you tell me what happened with that psycho.”  Jessica muttered.  “Oh…and cop a feel of your cute tushy.  I won’t be getting much action for a while.”

                Aubrey snickered before finishing what he was doing.  Taking the couple of steps, he snickered again when Jessica held her finger up and made a twirling motion.  After she groped him for a minute he turned around, bent down, and kissed her.

                “Thank you, Superman.  Now, what happened?”

                The agent sat down and held her hand as he told her what happened at the interrogation.  When Sammy came up, he wiped a tear that he saw from his girlfriend’s eye. 

                “So Sammy…helped them…”

                “Yeah, Jess, but they lied to her, too.  She gave Sammy a snow job about how a smoke bomb was attached so you two would get out of the building with time to spare before the bomb would go off.   She didn’t set out to kill you two.”

                “I tried to be her friend.  She seemed lonely.”

                Aubrey combed her hair back.  “I know Jess.  You try to be everyone’s friend, something that I love about you.”

                “I tried being friendly with Karen, too Superman because I don’t think she has a lot of friends.  Andie and Daisy tell me I’m crazy…”

                “No, you’re just a good person, Jess.”  Aubrey said, alternating between pity and anger at the profiler.  “If she can’t see that, then you need to move on.”

                “I love you, Superman.”  Jessica said in a sleepy voice. 

                “I love you, too.”  Aubrey said. “You scared the hell out of me today, Jessica.  Please don’t do that again.”

                “Okay…” Jessica said as she fell asleep.

                When the agent was satisfied she was in slumber, he kissed her on the lips softly before going back to the couch bed.  His legs dangled off the edge, but he didn’t want to be anywhere else.  They were coming to prep her in less than two hours and he needed all the sleep he could get.

                Booth had just sat down when Brennan woke up.  “Booth?”

                “Sorry, Bones…I didn’t mean to wake you.”

                The anthropologist wiped her eyes.  “S’kay.  How did the interrogation go?”

                “Her big mouth confessed.  We’ve got her on attempted murder and first degree murder.”

                “Was Ms. Mills…Sammy…involved?”  Brennan asked.

                Booth knew better than to lie to his wife.  “Yeah, Bones.  Sammy was there to plant a bomb but when she saw you and Jessica there, Jeannine Kovacs made a big show of putting a smoke bomb on the actual device so you two would be able to get out of the building before it went off.  She was supposed to put it outside your door, but for some reason, she put it under the platform instead.  It was meant to kill all three of you to eliminate any witnesses.”


                “They had her convinced that the Bosnian government was working through you and the Jeffersonian to railroad them.  She was mad about losing her internship and I think they channeled that to their advantage.”

                “I feel bad, Booth.  I know I did the right thing by firing her after she committed several errors during the case, but still…”

                “Bones, you did what you would have done with any other intern who did that.  She may have had the knowledge, but she just wasn’t up to the level needed.  It’s not your fault Mark and Jeannine Kovacs took advantage of her embarrassment.  However, she didn’t follow them blindly or else she would have put that bomb outside your office where it would have killed you and Jessica.”

                Brennan took her husband’s hand.  “Ms. Warren told me that she tried to help her with her studies so she could reapply for an internship after she and Wendell graduate next year.”

                “Bones, you helped her by pushing her to study harder so she could be a valuable intern.  If you want to help Sammy now, help me get Radik’s children.”

                “Of course, Booth.”  Brennan said before yawning.  “I’m sorry.  They gave me opioid drugs to help me with my shoulder pain.”

                “I’m just glad you won’t need surgery like Jessica will.”  Booth said.  “Aubrey is worried sick about her.”

                “He loves her, Booth.”  Brennan said.  “He’ll be very helpful in her recovery since she will probably be at the most partial weight bearing on her leg.  It’s going to be difficult as she lives in a third story apartment, though.”

                Booth thought about the idea that popped into his head as he was driving the two agents back to the hospital.  “I may have an idea for that, Bones.”

                “What’s that, Booth?”  Brennan asked.  When her husband explained his thoughts, she smiled.  “That is an excellent idea.  I’m finding it hard to part with it, even all that happened.”

                I’m glad, Bones.  I’ll talk to Aubrey tomorrow.”  Booth said.

                Brennan yawned again.  “Okay Booth.  I’m a little tired so I’m going to take a nap.”

                Booth kissed her on the head.  “You do that.  I’ll bring the kids by later.”

                “That won’t be necessary since I will be going home in the morning.”  The anthropologist said in a sleepy tone.

                “Bones, you have a concussion and your shoulder needs rest, just like you do.”

                “I have two legs and I can walk, Booth…and I’m not that tired.”  Brennan muttered.  “I can…walk…out…”

                Booth smiled as his wife fell asleep.  He sat down and took her hand.  “Bones, please try not to give me another heart attack like you and your intern did today.  I can’t lose you.  My world will…end.  I need my partner.”

                For the next several minutes, Booth combed his wife’s hair with his finger as she slept.  Before he knew it, his head went down and he fell asleep next to her with his head on the bed.

                The surgical nurse came in around 5:00 to prep Jessica.  She was slightly grumpy from not eating since the night before but that was cured by the mild sedative she was given. 

                “Why are you shaving my leg?  I always keep my legs smooth for Superman.  He likes to touch and kiss them when we make hot, passionate love.  He also does a really good job with my…breasts.”

                The nurse chuckled as she saw Aubrey’s face turn beat red.  “Sounds like you got a good boyfriend there, Jessica.”

                “I do…”  Jessica slurred.  “I have a good Superman.  Someday, I wanna marry my Superman when my leg isn’t…all…fucked up.”

                The nurse missed the look of surprise on the agent’s face as she continued to prep the redhead for her surgery.  “You really love him, don’t you?”

                “I…do.  I’m going to be a…super bone…doctor like Doctor B…then my Superman and I will…get hitched…no fancy…shit…no…white dress…our wedding night will be hot…Superman is great…in bed…he gives me the…best orgasms…then we’ll get…bad guys together…wow, these drugs…are good.”

                Aubrey was saved from a response when Doctor Elias walked in.  “How is our patient?”

                “Ready…to get my…leg cut open, Doc.” 

                “Good…you’re doing great, Jessica.”  Doctor Elias said before seeing Aubrey.  “James, the surgery should take two to three hours to put the rod in and close.  She’ll go to recovery for observation before returning her to her room.”

                “Do you have an idea of when she can go home?”

                “If all goes well, Jessica possibly can go home tomorrow.  Hopefully you can spend your Valentine’s Day somewhere nicer than here.”

                “Doctor Elias, I care more about the fact that she’s around for Valentine’s Day then where we go.”  Aubrey said.

                “Doctor Brennan’s on site first aid lessened the severity of the damage to Jessica’s tibia and helped her avoid her developing compartment syndrome.  I’ve seen people have their legs amputated or worse, die from infection of the open wound.”

                “Wow…that bad, huh?”

                “Don’t worry James.  With the latest in post op recovery, she won’t need a cast but rest, physical therapy, and some crutches for a while.  Now, if you want, visiting hours will start soon if you want to see Agent Booth and Doctor Brennan while you wait.”

                Aubrey considered.  “I may just do that.  I’ll be back in a while.”

                Doctor Elias turned to her nurses and techs.  “Okay, let’s fix this young lady’s leg, shall we?”

                “Wait.”  Aubrey said before coming over to Jessica and kissing her on the head.  “I love you, Jessica.”

                “Love…you…Super…man.”  She muttered.

                The agent watched as his girlfriend was wheeled off to surgery before making a quiet run towards the other end of the floor.  As he turned by the nurses’ station, he slowed his trot down to a walk.  When he cleared the other corner, he ran quietly again until he saw Booth coming out of Brennan’s room.

                “Booth!  Booth!  I need to talk to you!”  Aubrey said in a loud whisper.

                “Now?”  Booth said.  “I’m just heading to get Bones some breakfast from the diner before she wakes up.”

                “Can I go with you?  This can’t wait.”

                “Yeah, I guess so…wait, isn’t Jessica having surgery in a few minutes?”

                Aubrey took another breath.  “Yeah.”

                “Okay, come on.  I’m sure you’re missing your three egg, ham, and cheese omelet right now.”

                “Actually on Mondays, I started eating a vegetarian omelet from a recipe Jess gave me with spinach, tomato, cheese, and mushrooms.”

                Booth stopped, looked at his subordinate, and chucked to himself before walking again.  Aubrey was puzzled.

                “What’s so funny, Booth?  What?”  Aubrey said before running to catch up.  “Wait for me!”

                Twenty minutes later, the guys were waiting for their orders at the counter while sipping coffee. 

                “You’re sure she said that, Aubrey?”

                “Yeah, those were her words. ‘Someday, I wanna marry my Superman when my leg isn’t all fucked up.’”  Aubrey took a sip and poured a little cinnamon into his brew as Booth chuckled again.  "Quit laughing, will you?  Is it still really that funny?”

                “That she calls you Superman?  Yeah.”  The older man said before become serious.  “Sorry.  So, what do you think of that?”

                “Of what?”

                Booth looked at Aubrey.  “Cut the dumbass routine.  How do you feel about Jessica saying she wants to marry you?  Less than ten hours ago you said she was hesitant about marriage.”

                “Well…it’s a surprise, that’s for sure.”  The younger man said before chugging his coffee.  “Ten hours ago, I wasn’t ready for us to even think about moving in together, but now that she’s thinking about it…I have to admit, I like it a lot.”

                “I know people have given you two unsolicited advice on how you two should conduct your relationship.  However, what works for Bones and I doesn’t work for Hodgins and Angela.  What works for Cam and Arastoo won’t work for you and Jessica.  Just the fact you two are coming around to this is big, Aubrey.”

                “Really?”  Aubrey said.  “I just don’t want to spook her after what happened when I told her I was serious about her.”

                “Aubrey, from what you told me, she was probably thinking you wanted to live together or get married right then and there.”

                “Nuh uh.  No way.  I only meant that I was in love with her.  I just…couldn’t say it at the time because I was a chicken shit.  I mean, it took me six months just to kiss her.  It wasn’t even until July 4th that we….”  Aubrey trailed off, realizing he was getting way too personal.  “…did more stuff.  People act like there’s something wrong with us.”

                “Aubrey, there’s no set time table for milestones.  Two people who love each other should go at the pace that works for them, not what others think.  Bones and I…we just don’t want you two to not doing something out of fear like we did.  It cost us years we could have been together.”  Booth said before deciding a confession was in order.  “That’s why we asked Gordon to do that dinner Saturday night.  Bones and I figured that if we talked about our past, he could use some shrinky stuff to make you two not be so afraid.”

                “You two talked to Gordon about us?”  Aubrey said with a chuckle. 

                “What’s so funny, Aubrey?”  Booth asked.

                Aubrey controlled himself.  “Jess and I talked to Gordon about helping you two.”

                Booth made a face.  “How?”

                “We saw how you and Doctor B were so….distant.  We were scared that you were both feeling guilty about Max, so we asked Gordon to help us with a dinner where we could get your two to talk.  Guess great minds think alike, huh?”

                The men laughed for a moment before Joanne interrupted them with two bags.  “Here’s your orders, guys.”

                “How much do we owe you?”  Aubrey said as the two men started to pull their wallets out, but were interrupted by the waitress.

                “Frankie said it was on the house.  He said to tell Doctor B and Jessica to get better soon.”

                The guys knew better than to argue.  “Tell Frankie thanks, Joanne.”  Aubrey said before the two grabbed their bags and walked out.

                “So Aubrey, do you know what you want to say to Jessica when she’s coherent?”  Booth asked.

                Aubrey drank his coffee.  “Well, I’ll tell her about what she said.  I’ll be honest and say that I’m not ready to get married, but I will be eventually.  We’ll also talk about my dad and stuff.” 

                “What if she’s ready now?”  Booth asked.

               “We’ll work it out because we’ll talk to each other, not at each other. No matter what, Booth…we’ll still be together, because that’s what’s important, isn’t it?”

                “Yeah…yeah it is, Aubrey.”  Booth said as he clapped his hand on his partner’s back while walking back to Booth’s SUV.

Chapter Text

                Jessica slowly woke up in a daze.  After blinking her eyes, she looked around and saw she was in a hospital room.  She felt a half step behind as she looked down her body, then caught sight of her right lower leg wrapped in two ACE bandages with heavy gauze underneath.

                ‘Oh yeah, a bomb knocked my ass into Doctor Brennan’s wall before a heavy wood shelf got friendly with my leg.’

                Looking on her right, she saw the IV that was pumping antibiotics into her system.  As she tried recalling what she was on, she got frustrated.  She hated narcotics because they always made her fuzzy, although she wasn’t as out of it like the other times was on pain meds.  Perhaps the doctor listened to her when she said she didn’t want anything stronger than Tramadol.

                Searching the room, she brightened when she saw her boyfriend watching his phone from her couch bed.  He had different clothes, so he found time to run home and take a shower.  She knew he didn’t get more than a few hours’ sleep after the interrogation of Psycho Bitch. 

                Maybe she could convince him to go home for a while and come back with the Royal Diner’s awesome chicken noodle soup and one of their chocolate milkshakes.  Jessica knew that the vancomycin drip would mess with her stomach to the point she wouldn’t be able to tolerate more for a while.

                Then she heard the sounds coming from his phone and smiled.  It seemed Aubrey was expanding his horizons. 

                “The Empire Strikes Back.  Knew I would get you to see the light someday.” She slurred slightly, still in a daze.

                Aubrey looked up to see his groggy girlfriend smiling at him.  Immediately, he put his phone down and sat by the bed.  “Hey Jess…how are you feeling?”

                “Considering yesterday I was in pukey pain, I’m feeling all right, but I think it’s the meds.”  Jessica said before looking down.  “My leg’s not amputated, so that’s always good.”

                “I’m just glad you got out in one piece Jess, but I would have taken you in two.”  Aubrey said.

                The redhead patted her boyfriend’s arm.  “I want to talk to you about stuff, Superman.”

                “Me too but not until you’re more awake.” The agent said with a smile before kissing Jessica’s forehead.  “Get some sleep, Jess.”

                “I will when you will, Superman.”  The redhead said in a groggy tone as her eyes closed again.

                “I’ll sleep better now.”  Aubrey said while walking over to the couch.  Propping his feet up and over the side of the too short furniture, the agent immediately fell asleep in exhaustion with a smile on his face.

                “I’m ready to go home, Booth.”

                Booth smiled at his wife’s impatience.  “I know Bones, but the doctor said 24 hours and that’s not until tonight.”

                “I want to see my children, Booth.”

                The agent smiled.  “I know, Bones, but you’re not going home until the doctor says it’s okay.”  Booth said exasperated.  “If you have to stay another night, I’ll bring them after school.”

                Brennan gave him a look.  “Fine.”

                Booth looked at her suspiciously.  “Fine?  Just like that.”

                “Just like that, Booth.”  The anthropologist said, steeling herself.  “But I have some things to say and I want you to listen to me.”

                “Bones, the doctor told you to rest your brain.”  Booth said, suspecting what his wife wanted to talk about.  “No mental exertion for a few days, remember?”

                “I said I would take tomorrow and Wednesday off.  Now be quiet and let me speak.”

                Booth wanted to talk at home when his wife was less stressed and not recovering from injuries sustained in an explosion.  Standing up, he brushed the hair off his wife’s face.  “Bones, let’s wait until you aren’t taking any more pain medication for your shoulder.  They make you fuzzy.”

                “I’m only taking acetaminophen, Booth due to my concussion.  I will alternate it with Tramadol for my shoulder pain after I’ve cleared the 24 hour benchmark.  ” Brennan said in a determined voice.  “Now sit down.”

                Booth knew that tone…and its significance.  Sitting down, he took her hand.  “Okay, Bones.”

                Brennan squeezed his hand back.  “Booth, I owe you an apology…”

                “No you don’t, Bones.”  Booth said.  “If anyone owes an apology, it’s me for walking out on you like a dick because I was embarrassed about…you know.”

                “That I suspected you had erectile dysfunction?”  Brennan asked.  “Booth, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, although your sex drive until recently has been…quite potent.”

                “I know Bones, but I didn’t have to act like a baby.  You were just trying to help me.“

                “I know the real reason you’ve avoided me the last week, Booth.”  Brennan said quickly, feeling a slight twinge of sadness.

                “You…you do?”  Booth asked.  ‘Oh please don’t let it be another impotence thing.’

                “Yes, Booth…I do.  I’m so sorry…that I didn’t see it sooner.”  Brennan said.

                As his wife’s eyes bore into his own, Booth knew that she understood.  “Bones…you don’t have to apologize for anything.  You weren’t the one who started all this shit 22 years ago—“

                “No, it was Josip Radik who started it with his cruelty and ethnic cleansing.”  Brennan said.  “You served your country and saved thousands…possibly millions of people, Booth.  It was his children who kept the hate alive.  It was his children who took their pain and anger over you out on Aldo, Mike Reiss, Margaret Kwan…my father…”

                “And you and Jessica.”  Booth said.  “Sammy, too.  You three were more pawns in their sick game to get to me.  None of you deserve what happened.”

                “Neither do you, Booth.” 

                Booth combed the hair framing his wife’s face behind her ear trying to hold back tears.  “Bones, if you and Jessica were in the Bone Room, or on the platform instead of your office…”

                The anthropologist rubbed his hand.  “Then we would be dead.  Aubrey would be devastated…”

                “Yeah.”  Booth said as he thought about his partner.  “He’s lost too much in his life.”

                “So have you, Booth.”  Brennan said before looking up.  “I would like to talk about what I did yesterday if that’s okay.”

                Surprised, the agent nodded.  “Of course, Bones.”

                The forensic anthropologist took a deep breath and exhaled.  “After you left, I was putting the oatmeal away when I saw the leftovers from our dinner party Saturday.  That got me thinking about what Gordon said about my father.  When I saw there was no room on that shelf, I looked above and saw the cream soda he liked so much…the one he made his special milkshakes with.”

                Booth groaned, realizing he meant to move those to the garage while it was still cold out.  “I’m sorry, Bones—“

                “Booth!  Please quit apologizing and let me finish.”

                Properly chagrined, Booth rubbed her hand.  “I’m sorry, Bones.  Go ahead and finish.”

                “After I shoved the oatmeal in the fridge, I thought of Zack and of how Doctor Wyatt said he needed to face his fears…and how he couldn’t move on until he could.  All of it hit me at once, Booth.  Missing my dad, feeling guilty for holding him at arm’s length for years, how he died to protect Christine and Hank…I cried….a lot.  I sat on the floor of the kitchen and cried.”

                Brennan felt Booth squeeze her hand as she wiped a tear away.  “When I was done, I realize that I wouldn’t be able to move forward until I went through his things…so I did.  It wasn’t easy, Booth, but once I started I couldn’t stop.  Each photo helped me remember all those wonderful times growing up when the four of us were a family.”

                Brennan composed herself before continuing.  “I found this small box on the bottom of the family pictures.  It was very worn, like it had been opened numerous times.  Obviously it meant something to my father, so I opened it.”

                “What was inside, Bones?”  Booth asked.

                “They were…pictures of him and my mother, some almost fifty years old.  All of them were either the two of them or just her.”  Brennan said before she choked up.  “He loved her so much, Booth.  He still loved her when he…”

                “Yeah…he did.”  Booth said.  “By the way Max talked sometimes, I don’t think he ever really got over losing your mother.”

                “I concur.”  Brennan said before wiping a tear away.  “That’s when I knew.”

                “Knew what, Bones?”

                Brennan looked into her husband’s beautiful chocolate brown eyes.  “I knew why you were avoiding me, Booth.  It wasn’t because you couldn’t make love physically, but you felt guilty for what happened to my father.  You blamed yourself and felt you needed to be punished.”

                The agent sat stunned for a moment, unprepared.  He thought of the words he planned to say.  However, when he saw his wife’s look of concern, any speech he started went out the window.

                “I felt I had brought all this onto our family, Bones.”  Booth said while choked up.

                Brennan touched Booths face with her right hand.  “Do you still feel that way, now?”

                 “No…not after…I talked to Max.”  Booth exhaled. 

                The woman was confused.  “Booth, how did you talk to my father?  He’s been dead for several weeks now.”

                “I know you don’t believe, Bones—“

                “Booth, there’s no such thing as ‘the afterlife’—“

                “Says you.  I believe, Bones.  I talked to your father and he forgave me for everything.”

                Brennan rolled her eyes.  “How may I ask did he let you know he…forgave you?”

                “After I asked for a sign he heard me, I got crapped on by birds.”  Booth said with a smile.  “That has your father written all over it.”

                “Booth, birds need to defecate just like any animal—“

                Booth laughed.  “Believe what you want Bones, but it was Max saying that he’s all right with everything and he’s with your mom now.”

                “I don’t believe in an afterlife or life after death.  When you die your body is…nothing but a chemical reaction as it decomposes.”  Booth’s beliefs warred with her rational scientific knowledge.  Brennan considered for a moment before answering.  “However, if my parents have…reunited in your ‘heaven’, I’ll be forever grateful.”

                They shared a kiss before Booth kissed her forehead and they broke apart.  “Okay, Bones.  I’m going to get us some lunch.  Are you up for the diner?”

                “Yes.  I still think I’m going home tonight, though, Booth.”

                “We’ll see Bones.  Angela said she’s coming by to visit this afternoon and I’m going to work for a few hours this afternoon with Aubrey to close up the case.”

                “Can you tear him away from Ms. Warren?”  Brennan said with a smirk.

                Booth smiled in turn.  “Yeah…plus I may have told him I’m bringing a meat lovers pizza.”

                By 2:15 PM, the agents were finishing up loose ends in the case for Caroline’s prosecution as they sat in the younger agent’s office.  They kept to themselves except for Aubrey’s inquiry about Brennan and Booth’s about Jessica and their other conversation.

                “Are you serious, Booth?”

                “Yeah, I am Aubrey.  It will be an option for Jessica these next few weeks and I will do $1200 per month.”

                Aubrey pondered while chewing his pizza.  “It did have a lot of space the one time I went over there with you to check the pipes.”

                “It’s less than twenty minutes from the university, lab, and the FBI.”   Booth said.  “Bones and I…we just can’t sell it.”

                “I’ll need to think about it and talk it over with Jess.”

                “Hey, no problem.”

                After going over more folders and signing on more documents for the next hour, Booth closed up a folder and put it in the case box.  “Done.  Caroline will be a happy lady.”

                Aubrey signed off on the last thing he was working on before adding it to the box.  “Yes.  I am so ready for all this to be over.”

                Booth took a drink of his coffee.  “So…have you talked to Jessica yet?”

                Aubrey shook his head.  “She’s wasn’t coherent when she woke up from surgery.  They’ve got her on strong pain medication which didn’t help.  I talked to Doctor Elias and she said they would reduce her dose of Tramadol to one every four hours and alternate with Tylenol.  She really hates strong narcotics because they make her so spaced out.”

                “Doctor Elias talks to you about her medical stuff?”  Booth asked.  “As case agent, you’re allowed to have basics but it seems you’re pretty well informed on Jessica.”

                Aubrey took a sip through the straw of his pop.  “Well, I’m…listed as her emergency contact since I’m closer than her brothers.  Also, Jessica told her that I’m the one to talk to and signed a release for me before surgery.”

                Booth smiled.  “You over her brothers?  That’s pretty big, Aubrey.”

                The younger agent steadied himself.  “Yeah…yeah it is, isn’t it?”

                Outside the office, Karen came around the corner with a bag from Aubrey’s favorite bakery.  As the profiler on the case, she knew her input could be warranted with the case being closed.  As she got to the door, she heard Booth talking.

                “So, are you still sure that you want to talk to Jessica about all that stuff you told me about when she’s off the meds?  That’s a pretty big change, Aubrey.”

                “Yeah marriage was not on the horizon for Jess and me…”

                The profiler did an inner jig as she listened.  She knew it was only a matter of time.  Then what she heard next stopped her in her tracks.

                “…but I think everything that happened this weekend was the universe’s way of saying we need to get our shit together.  We’ll talk and figure things out.  Jessica is my future, married or not.  I’ll never love anyone like I love her.”

                Booth caught a faint movement out of the corner of his eye.  Suspecting what it was, he decided to run with it.  “What about Karen?”

                Aubrey was confused.  “What do you mean, ‘What about Karen?

                “I mean…she’s interested in you, Aubrey.  You’d have to be an idiot to not notice.  She’s waiting for you and Jessica to break up so she can have you to herself.”

                Aubrey tossed his pen on the desk.  “Well that’s too bad.  Karen Delfs needs to get a clue.  She’s way too pushy and I will never be interested in her in that way.  Did I ever tell you how Jessica has tried to be friends with her?”

                Booth felt guilty but kept pushing on.  “Jessica wants to be friends with her?”

                Aubrey wiped his face.  “Booth, she’s friendly to almost everyone because she doesn’t like to see anyone alone, but I think she’s wasting her time.  Karen doesn’t care about anyone but Karen.  If she did, she would realize I’m happy with Jessica and we’re committed.”

                Booth was still in amazement about what he heard.  “Isn’t your girlfriend the slightest bit concerned about Karen trying to break you two up?  Not the least bit insecure about her?”

                “No.  I brought it up last week after Cam and Arastoo’s parties after we got ready for bed.  Jessica said when it came to Karen, in no way did she feel that the woman was a threat in taking me away and she was secure in my feelings for her.”

                The older man flashed back to Brennan befriending Hannah several years back, almost another lifetime ago.  “Do you think Karen may someday want to be friends with her?” 

                “No way, Booth.  Karen doesn’t give a damn about her.  Jess nearly died yesterday and instead of at least faking a small amount of concern, she tried to get in my pants hours after she and Doctor B were almost blown to bits.  That’s not friendship…it’s disgusting and pathetic.”

                “Wow, Aubrey.  You’re really pissed about this.”

                “I am Booth.  Wouldn’t you be if it happened to you?”  Aubrey said.  “I’ve tried being Karen’s friend, but it’s never enough with her.  I can ignore her but what she’s doing is disrespectful to Jessica whose done nothing but try to be her friend.  I won’t tolerate it anymore.  No one treats my girlfriend like shit and gets away with it.”

                Karen felt a tear come down her face.  Even after Doctor Wyatt’s words struck a nerve in her, she had hope for her and Aubrey.  However, he was in love with Jessica Warren and wanted to spend the rest of his life with the graduate student.  On the other hand, he only saw her as an annoyance he barely tolerated. 

                However, she felt conflicted as she processed the rest of what she heard.  The flighty redhead wanted to be her friend?  They had a ten year age difference and many divergent interests from what she heard.  To say she was shocked was the understatement of the year. 

                Next, she segued to her behavior of late, particularly last night.  The more she considered it, the more she realized how appalling it was.  She was 38 years old and she was chasing after a man who tried to be her friend, too.  However, she slapped his attempts away because she decided she wanted more even though he was committed to someone else. 

                Was this something she wanted to do the rest of her life?

                A big fat N-O.

                Making a decision, she turned around and almost ran into SSA Charlie Burns.  “Oh, Agent Burns, I’m sorry.”

                “It’s all right, Karen.”  Charlie said, slightly tongue tied.  “Listen, I just wanted to thank you again for that profile on the Weeks case.  Between that and your help with the interrogation, we nailed the slime ball for planning that attack in Georgetown.”

                “Well, thank you, Agent Burns.”  Karen said with a genuine smile.  “When did you want to want to go over that new profile you requested?”

                “Whenever you’re free.  It looks like you’ve got plans.”  Charlie said pointing to her bakery bag. 

                Just as the man turned around, Karen had a thought.  “Agent Burns?”


                Karen took a couple steps up to the SSA of International Operations.  “I have an overabundance of donuts here, but I could use some fresh coffee.  Want to get some and we can discuss my findings?”

                The agent considered for a moment before making a decision.  “I could use a break.  I just need to drop these off to the Deputy Director.  Meet in my office say…fifteen minutes?”

                “Sounds good.” 

                When Charlie walked away, Karen smiled while walking to the other side of the 4th floor.  Maybe, just maybe, Gordon Wyatt had a point about opening her eyes to what was out there.

                 At 6:00 PM, Booth was getting Brennan’s things together as Doctor Beaudoing explained her home care. 

                “Remember Doctor Brennan.  Off this entire week.”

                “I’m needed at the lab.”  Brennan said.

                The doctor considered.  “Half days Thursday and Friday.  No more than four hours.”


                “This is considered a work injury Doctor Brennan.  I’m giving restrictions to your supervisor and she has to follow them for the insurance to cover all the expenses.”

                “I have my own insurance—“

                “Which will not cover work related injuries.  Pretty standard.”  The doctor said.  “Now, off tomorrow and Wed with full rest and half days the next 2 days, no more than four hours.  Your shoulder needs to be rechecked in one week with Doctor Elias.  However, if you do not have relief in the next day or two, call her office.”

                Booth chuckled at his wife’s frustration.  “I’ll make sure she follows the restrictions, Doctor.”

                “Good.”  The doctor said before signing the final discharge papers.  “I’ll send the nurse up with the wheelchair and you’re free to go, Doctor Brennan.

                “Thank you.”  The anthropologist said.  When he left she got her messenger bag and looked inside.  “Booth, I’m not a child you know.  I don’t need you to hover over me.”

                The agent crossed his arms.  “I know you’re not a child, but you’re stubborn, Bones.  Your left shoulder has a nasty separation.  You had a head injury that included loss of consciousness.  Your body needs to recoup.”


                “Remember after I was shot when I was with Jared’s friends?”  Booth said.  “You wouldn’t let me do a damn thing.  You followed those discharge instructions right down to the letter.”

                “But you were shot!”

                “And you got slammed into a large television monitor at like mega feet per second, Bones.”

                “Booth, there’s no such measurement as ‘mega feet per second.’”  Brennan said.  “Typically, the force of a bomb—“

                Booth bent down until he was eye level with his wife.  “I’ll be your shadow at work if I have to.”

                Brennan got an amused look on her face.  “You wouldn’t dare, Booth.”

                “I wouldn’t, Bones?”  Booth smirked.  “Try me.”

                The couple had a stare off for a moment before Brennan spoke up.  “Well, I can’t have you in my hair at the lab.  I will have to trust Doctor Wells to examine the new remains we got from France Thursday and Friday afternoon since Ms. Warren will be out the rest of the week as well.”

                Just then, the nurse arrived with a wheelchair.  “Ready to go home, folks?”

                “Most definitely.”  Brennan said as she carefully sat down, reaching for her messenger bag with her right arm.  “I want to see my children.”

                Aubrey scooted back in Jessica’s room around 7:30 and saw her brother Aaron and Stephan with her.  “Uh, I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean to interrupt your time with your family, Jess.  I can come back.”

                “It’s fine G-Man.”  Aaron said.  “My wife needs me to help her with our taxes.”

                “Yeah, I need to pick up Gail from work.”  Stephan said before kissing his sister on the head.  “Take care of yourself, Jessie.”

                “I promise, Steve.”  Jessica said holding a homemade Get Well card from Aaron’s kids.

                “Call me when you’re up for a visit from the rugrats.”  Aaron said.  “Your niece and nephews think that it’s cool their Aunt Jessie was in an explosion.  Annabelle wants to see your leg.”

                “The next Warren anthropologist.”  Jessica said with a chuckle.  “I’ll call in a few days.”

                The brothers walked away but stopped in front of Aubrey.  “Take care of her G-Man.  Don’t make me send Nadia after you.  You don’t want to get on her bad side.”  Aaron said before smacking the agent on the back. 

                “Be nice you guys!”  Jessica exclaimed as the brothers walked out laughing.  Turning back to her boyfriend, she grimaced.  “I’m sorry.”

                Aubrey walked over with his bags to her bed tray.  “It’s fine, Jess.  They’re your big brothers and they love you.”

                “Don’t worry, Superman.  I’ll protect you just like I did in Courtney Hodsell’s attic.”

                “My hero.”  Aubrey said before holding up the bag.  “I come bearing gifts.”

                “Ooooh, what did you bring?”

                Aubrey pulled out a DVD.  “Viewing material for later.”

                “Yes!  Star Wars!”  Jessica said.  “What else did you get me?”

                The agent pulled another bag out, this one from the Royal Diner.  “I bring you food.”

                “Yay, thank you.”  Jessica said as she clapped her hands.  “I’m still pretty nauseated but I’m sick of Jell-O.”

                “Yeah, got that impression when you posted a picture of it on Twitter with the tweet, ‘Is this lunch…or punishment?’”  Aubrey said before pulling a To-Go bowl out of the bag.  “Frankie’s homemade chicken noodle soup.”

                “Ah, just what I was craving…”

                Aubrey pulled out an extra-large Styrofoam cup out with a straw.  “And a chocolate shake.”

                “Yes!”  Jessica said as she stuck the straw in the cup.  “How did you know?”

                Aubrey pulled several containers out of the bag and set them on the bed tray.  “I’m your boyfriend, Jessica.  It’s my job.”

                Jessica smiled at her significant other.  “What all did you get, Superman?”

                The agent had to wait until he was done chewing.  “A tuna melt, fries, onion rings, side salad, garlic toast, chocolate pudding.  Had to get stuff on the quick because I wanted to get you fed.”

                “You’re too sweet.”  Jessica said before sipping her soup.

                Aubrey took a drink of his Coke.  “So, Doctor Elias said you can probably go home tomorrow if the physiotherapist says it’s all right, but she recommended a place without stairs for at least three weeks or until you can start physical therapy.”

                “I know.  When I told her I lived on the third floor she shook her head and said ‘that will not do.’  The redhead said with a cringe.  “Aaron and Nadia offered to put me up in the downstairs guest bedroom since my old room is upstairs.  Since I’m partial weight bearing, I won’t be stuck in bed but it will be hard to work on my dissertation with the kids around.  I mean, it could be worse.  I could be in a cast.”

                Aubrey thought about what he and Booth talked about earlier.  “There is another option.”

                “Tell me.”  Jessica said.  When Aubrey merely smiled, the redhead’s face turned mock menacing.  “Tell me or I won’t share my chocolate shake.”

                Aubrey went to snag the shake, but his girlfriend was too fast for him.  “Fine…”

                Jessica listened as her boyfriend told her what he talked about earlier with Booth.  At first she was skeptical, but then as he explained, she got more excited before a thought came to her.

                “But can you do that, Aubrey?”

                “Yeah I just have to get someone else in there, but is that something you want to do?”  Aubrey said.  “Even though it’s temporary, it’s a big step for us.”

                Jessica nodded.  “That it is.  Can I think about it tonight?”

                “Yeah, of course.”  Aubrey said.

                The anthropologist took another bite of soup.  “Superman, we should talk about yesterday…and some other things.”

                “I want to and we need to, but…can we not do it while you’re in the hospital?”  Aubrey took Jessica’s hand.  “I’m still processing the fact you survived being bombed and seeing you in this bed hooked up to an IV doesn’t help that.”

                “Do I need to be afraid of what you’re going to say?”

                “No.” Aubrey said as he squeezed her hand.  “Now, am I allowed to have some of your shake?”

                The redhead debated.  “If I can have some of your Coke.”

                “Deal.”  Aubrey said before he and his girlfriend switched drinks.

                Booth was in the bathroom brushing his teeth at 9:15.  Their evening was a quiet one except for Christine and Hank’s excitement to see their mom.  All were tired from the last few days, so it was an early night for the entire family.

                When he finished, Booth grabbed the bottle of Tramadol his wife was prescribed and walked out of the en-suite bathroom.  “Bones, I’ve got your pain medication so you can—“

                The agent was stopped by his wife wearing his old FBI t-shirt.  When she shifted on the bed, he noticed an item of clothing missing from her body.  He felt himself rise quickly.

                “Booth, it’s time for bed.”

                The agent recited the saints to get himself under control.  As much as he wanted to, his wife needed to rest more.  “Bones, you have no idea how horny I am right now…”

                “Then come to bed with me.  I’m home now, Booth and there’s nothing stopping us.  The children are asleep and I don’t have to be up early.”

                “I’m coming to bed with you, but we can’t make love tonight, Bones.”

                “Not again, Booth…”

                Booth got into bed and took her hand.  “Bones, you almost died a little over 24 hours ago and you need to rest.”


                “Bones,” Booth said.  “Can I just hold you tonight, please?  I-I need to hold you because I need to know you’ll be here in the morning.”

                The anthropologist had tears in her eyes.  “Of course, Booth.”

                Carefully, she shifted onto her right side to avoid weight onto her shoulder as her husband took her into his arms.  Both closed their eyes, grateful that they were together tonight and would be for many more.

Chapter Text

                Booth woke up first to the ray of sunshine just as his alarm went off.  Looking over, he saw Brennan soundly asleep, helped by the Tramadol she was prescribed for her shoulder.  Letting her sleep, he got up and jumped in the shower.

                A short time later, he was dressed and getting breakfast going for Christine, himself, and Hank when Brennan came out with her arm in the sling.

                “Mommy, we’re having pancakes for breakfast.”

                “I can see that, Sweetheart.”  Brennan said as she moved her right arm across to smooth her daughter’s head.

                “I was going to wake you up but you looked like you needed the rest.  Angela is coming over to take Christine to school and Hank to the daycare center.”

                Brennan sat on the center island and noted Booth’s attire.  “You’re not dressed for work.”

                Booth flipped the cakes on the griddle.  “Because I’m not going in until this afternoon.  Aubrey is covering for me this morning.  When I get there, he’s leaving because Jessica should be getting discharged this afternoon.”

                “Booth…I don’t need a babysitter…”

                The agent poured his wife a cup of coffee.  “I know you don’t, Bones, but I feel more comfortable being home with you this morning and tomorrow.  Aubrey is doing the same with Jessica if she lets him.”

                “All right.”  Brennan said. 

                “Good.”  Booth said before calling out.  “Okay, breakfast for monkeys!”

                Christine came running and sat on the other stool by Hank’s high chair, where Booth gave her a pancake that resembled what looked like a heart.  “Daddy made special pancakes for Valentine’s Day.”

                Brennan received a plate as well with fruit and another set of heart shaped pancakes.  “Yes he did, Christine.  Although not anatomically correct, it does match the heart that honors this day.”

                Booth put a mini one on a plate and cut it up for Hank.  “Okay, Buddy, here’s one for you.”

                “Did Aubrey make up his mind?”

                “Tentatively it’s a go.  He has to make the final arrangements today and he’ll let us know about Jessica.”

                “Good.  I just couldn’t let it go, Booth, but this solution works for me.”

                Booth took her hand.  “Me too, Bones.”

                The family ate together, enjoying the time until Booth told Christine to brush her teeth.  As she was doing that, the agent got his son cleaned up and around.  As soon as Christine finished, the doorbell rang.  Brennan walked over and saw Angela.

                “Hey hey, are the Booths ready to go?”

                “They are, Angela.”  Brennan said while holding the door open.  “Thank you for taking them to school today.”

                “No problem, Bren.  This way you two have your Valentine’s Day morning and Hodgins and I will have one tonight when Michael Vincent comes over here tonight.”  Angela said before turning to Booth.  “So you’re okay with getting our son to school tomorrow?”

                “All set, Angela.  Thanks again.”  Booth said as he walked Hank over.

                “No problem.”  The artist replied as she took Hank’s hand.  “See you guys later.”

                The couple watched as their daughter followed Angela and Hank out the door before Christine shut it.  Turning to each other, they smiled.

                “So we’re celebrating Valentine’s Day this morning?”  Brennan said.

                Booth came around and put his arm around Brennan’s waist on her right side.  “We are.”

                Brennan smirked.  “You know, I have a Valentine’s Day present for you.”

                Booth smiled.  “I have a Valentine’s Day present for you, too, Bones.”

                “I’ll get mine and you get yours and then we can observe the holiday before you go into work.”  Brennan said.  Seeing her husband ready to protest, she put her hand up.  “Doctor Elias told me yesterday that if I was careful and fully rested while at home, I could do anything I felt comfortable doing.”

                “All right, Bones.  Be right back.  I have mine out in the truck.”

                “I have yours in my office.”

                The couple separated and headed to their respective hiding places.  Brennan moved her anthropological journals in her office and pulled out a package.  Smiling, she walked back out to the living room.

                Outside, Booth unlocked his SUV and fished under his driver side seat until he pulled out a small wrapped box.  Whistling to himself, he walked back into the house before they open each other’s gifts.  While Brennan carefully opened the small package, Booth ripped his open with glee.  When the presents were revealed, both were pleased.

                “Booth, this is so beautiful.”  Brennan said before holding up a small silver necklace with a dolphin pendant.

                “Bones…you never cease to amaze me.”  Booth said as he pulled a pair of boxers out with toy soldiers on them.

                There’s more, Booth.”  Brennan said with a coy smile.

                “Really?”  Booth asked.

                “Yes, really.”  Brennan said. 

                Untying her robe tie with one hand, she awkwardly pulled the clothing off and dropped it to the floor.  Lifting Booth’s FBI t-shirt, she revealed a matching pair of panties.

                “Should our armies pool their resources, Booth?”  Brennan said.  “My army has to be on top, though, if you don’t mind.”

                “Anytime, Bones…anytime.”  Her husband replied before quickly pulling down his sweatpants and putting on the new boxers.

                Taking each other’s hand, they walked into the bedroom.  Booth sat down on the bed and walked his wife to him.  Knowing to take the shirt off he would have to move her sling, he compromised by putting his head under the shirt where he explored her with kisses.  When he felt her breathing hitch, he traded his lips for his tongue, tracing patterns into her abdominal area.

                Smiling to himself, Booth slowly pulled down Brennan’s underwear and trailed his lips down to her personal treasure.  When he felt her step out of her panties and spread her legs, he went for her.  He left not part untouched as he loved her to her moans of pleasure.  When he felt her orgasm, he kissed her softly before lifting his head up. 

                Pushing her back a couple of steps, Booth pulled down his boxers and laid down on the bed.  Brennan walked over and climbed on his gently, being careful not to aggravate her shoulder.  Setting the pace, the anthropologist moved slowly at first, enjoying the feel of her husband inside her along with his grip on her hips.  When Booth bent his knees, she leaned back, enabling her to move a little harder.  She saw stars as the pleasant friction was encompassing her.  Looking down, she saw her husband’s eyes become all black with passion.

                Booth wanted more than anything to push up into his wife, but he couldn’t because of her shoulder.  However, he could do what he wanted with his hands, so he cupped her very ample breasts.  She was beautiful before she had their children, but her post-pregnancy body was even more beautiful.  Her curves were riper and her breasts grew larger.

                It was her, though.  The woman who told him after the Cleo Eller case that she wanted to help him in his quest to balance his cosmic balance sheet.  The one he confided in about Josip Radik all those years ago.  The woman who was his best friend.  

                He felt her pumps onto him grow harder.  Looking up, her head was back and she groaned his name more than once.  Holding himself back, he watched her as she orgasmed and it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen.  When he saw she was satisfied, he let himself go. 

                When they recovered their faculties, Brennan gingerly laid down on her right side with her head on her husband’s chest.  Booth grabbed his phone and set an alarm.  When settled, the two slept peacefully.

                At 2:30 PM, Aubrey was whistling a tune as she arrived at the hospital to pick up Jessica, who was cleared by the physiotherapist to be discharged.  After meeting with his landlady, he grabbed the Itty Bitty Rey stuffed doll he got his squintern for Valentine’s Day.  The agent knew his girl well and while she would have appreciated flowers, she would love this better.

                He hoped she had reached a decision about what he talked to her about last night.  He would support her in whatever she decided to do because he knew she valued her independence.  However, she also needed help for a while.

                Getting off on her floor, he said hello to the nurses and headed to Jessica’s room.  Knocking, he came in and stood in shock as he saw who was visiting his girlfriend.

                “This is something I didn’t expect to see.”

                Karen turned to Aubrey.  “Hi Aubrey.  I’m just visiting with Jessica.”

                “Yes, Superman.  She was telling me about last night when she was out and about.”  The redhead said before turning back to the profiler.  “So…any other plans?”

                Karen nodded. “We are going to have dinner tonight.”

                “Maybe you’ll have more than dinner tonight.”

                “Whoa girl…it’s just dinner.  Nothing fancy because it’s a weekday and he likes to be home for his daughter at night during the week.”  The profiler said before getting up and taking her purse.  “Well, I think your boyfriend wants to spend time with you, so I’m heading out.  See you at work, Aubrey.”

                Aubrey watched Karen leave, trying to reconcile what he just heard from the woman he knew.  Turning to his girlfriend, he had to ask.  “Karen has a date?”

                “Yeah, with Agent Charlie Burns from International Operations.  They had coffee while going over a profile she did for one of his cases and it turned into drinks at Founding Fathers last night.”

                “His wife died a couple years ago.”  Aubrey said.  “Well, good for the both of them.  It will keep her out of our hair for a while.”

                Jessica thought about her words.  “She also apologized to me for being a nuisance with you.”

                Aubrey was dumbfounded for a second.  “Come on…she must have been shining you on—“

                “No, I don’t think so, Aubrey.  She seemed really genuine.  I’m not quite sure what changed her tune but whatever it was it was profound enough for her to quit chasing you.”

                “Works for me.”  The agent said.  “Now, I have something for you.”

                Seeing what her boyfriend was holding, Jessica shrieked.  “An Itty Bitty Rey doll!  Oh, you know me so well, Superman.”

                “I do.  So when do I get to take you home?”

                “Doctor Elias should be here shortly.”  Jessica said while admiring her gift.  “I have your Valentine's day gift at my apartment.”

                “Cool.”  Aubrey said before sitting carefully on the bed next to his girlfriend.  “I talked to Mrs. Hall.  She wasn’t happy that I was leaving, but she wished me good luck and thanked me for getting someone to sublet the place.  I won’t lie…it’s a bit scary but I think it will be good.”

                “I’m glad they trust you with it, Superman.”

                “It’s in a great location and with everything it will be same or even cheaper.”

                “That is really cool.”  Jessica said.

                Doctor Elias then walked into the room.  “So, is someone ready to go home and celebrate Valentine’s Day with her cutie boyfriend?”

                “Most definitely, Doctor Elias.”  Jessica said.

                Booth was getting dressed when he saw the black package on his side of the bureau.  Picking it up again, he pulled out a pair of boxers that were white with colored polka dots.  Next was a set Bones called ‘Modern Camo’ with bright red, blue, and other colors and the last pair were of pandas.

                Looking nearby, he saw pairs of women’s underwear with matching styles to his new boxers.  He laughed, thinking once again how well his wife knew him.

                “So…do you like your Valentine’s Day gift, Booth?”

                Turning around, he saw Brennan standing in the doorway.  “Yeah Bones…these are great.”

                The anthropologist walked into the bedroom.  “They’re called ‘Me Undies’.  They have matching sets for couples and we get a new pair in the mail each month.  Plus in June, $1.00 from every pair sold will go towards the Los Angeles LBGT Center.”

                “In the mail?”  Booth said.  “Bones, I don’t want the mailman knowing what my skivvies are.”

                “They won’t Booth.  It’s shipped in non-descript packaging.”

                The agent came to his wife and took her gingerly in his arms before placing a kiss on her head.  “Thank you for loving me, Bones.”

                Brennan took her left arm around her husband.  “I should be saying the same of you, Booth.”

                Jessica and Aubrey turned into a pleasant looking neighborhood.  After turning down a couple of side streets, they arrived at a large home with a gated driveway.  The front porch had two columns on the side surrounding the front door.

                “So, you’ve been here before, right Jess?”  Aubrey said.

                “A couple of times before things…happened.”  Jessica said.  “I’m glad you’re moving into Doctor B and Booth’s old house.”

                “Thanks.”  Aubrey said as he turned off the ignition.  “It means a lot that they trust me with this house.”

                Aubrey got out and rushed to the passenger side door.  After helping Jessica down, he got her stuff while she adjusted herself on her crutches.  Moving slowly, the couple headed to the front door, where Aubrey unlocked it.  When the door opened, the redhead led the way.

                “Wow…this place looks so nice.”

                Aubrey shut the door.  “Yeah, I lucked out, didn’t I?  The house has all new modern appliances, including the washer and dryer.  I still have to buy beds and other things for the upstairs bedrooms, but Booth is letting me keep the dining room table and living room furniture.  What I don’t keep of my stuff I’m selling to Oliver.”

                “Are you going to be able to be moved out in two weeks, Superman?”  Jessica asked as she sat down on the couch.  “I’m not going to be able to help you.”

                “It’s all good.”  Aubrey said as he joined her.  “Wendell is helping me bring my bed over tomorrow night so I don’t have to sleep on the couch.  Booth, Doctor B and the others will help me this weekend with whatever I don’t bring this week.”

                Jessica took his hand. “Superman, I want to talk now, all right?”

                “Yeah, I’d like that, Jess.”

                Jessica bit her lip as she considered her words.  “Aubrey…I want to get married….not now…but later down the road and have some little Aubreys with you.  I want to work with you someday like Doctor B work with Booth.  I’ve been so afraid of commitment because of my parents and I don’t want to be anymore.  I want to grow old with you, watch cool science fiction with you, eat weird food with you…but not roadkill.  I want to go to Star Wars conventions with you…make hot, passionate love with you as much as possible even when we’re like in our eighties.  I don’t want you to keep things from me anymore or protect me from stuff.  I’m not going to leave you, ever.  Nothing can happen that would scare me away from you.  I love you so much but I want to love all of you even though it scares the crap out of me, but in a good way.  Please let me do that.”

                Aubrey took a deep breath, overwhelmed by Jessica’s stream of consciousness.  As he pondered what he wanted to say, Jessica hedged.

                “Oh crap…you don’t want to get married…I’m pushing you…I’m sorry.  I just wanted you to—“

                “Jessica!”  Aubrey said as he squeezed her hand.  “I want all that too, someday.  I just said I didn’t want to get married because I thought you didn’t.  You looked panic stricken when I said I was serious about us and I didn’t want to scare you off.  I know you love me, but I guess a small part of me…was scared that maybe you would find something…or someone better one day and leave.  I’m no prize you know.”

                “Shut the fuck up, James Aubrey!”  Jessica yelled.  “Just because your father was a criminal doesn’t mean you’re not right for me.  I’m the one with the bipolar mother, remember?  There is like only a 5% chance I could develop it, but it still scares me sometimes.  That and the fact my parents loved each other but that love…turned bad.  I didn’t want that to happen to us and when you said you didn’t want to get married, I was sad, but at the time, I thought it was best.”

                “What changed your mind?”  Aubrey asked.

                Jessica didn’t want to embarrass Aubrey, so she gave an edited version.  “After I left you Sunday, I had no destination in mind, but I ended up at my dad’s nursing home in Maryland.  We talked about him and Mom for a while, about how much he liked you, and how much you love me.  He also lovingly and bluntly lectured me about how you and I weren’t them or your parents.  We were our own people and had our own lives to lead and that I needed to stop being afraid.”

                “Your dad is pretty cool.”  Aubrey said.

                Jessica wiped a tear from her eye.  “Then, I grabbed lunch for myself and Doctor B because she asked me to help her with the Kovacs case when I said I was heading over there.  We didn’t talk much outside of the case as we worked, but…after the bomb, we talked about her and Booth before you and me.  I…could have died, James and I would have never seen you again.  The last things I would have said to you were in anger.”

                “But you didn’t die in there, thank God.”  Aubrey said, not missing the use of his first name, something Jessica only called him when they were intimate or moments like this one. 

                “What did you do Sunday?”  Jessica asked.

                “I-I was pissed off...and sad after you left.  Gordon came home and listened to me whine.  When I was done, he spoke some truths I didn't like, but had to acknowledge.  When I asked him what to do, he told me that I knew what to do and to just do it.”  The agent caressed her injured leg softly.  “Jessica, I built my father up into this…force and it was holding me back from life…from you.  So…I went to my father's detention center and said things I should have said years ago, even when he was arrested.  I do think he loves me,but he loves himself and money more than me…than my mother…than anything else in this world.  Once I said my peace, things just looked so clear that I knew what I wanted.”

                “What’s that, Superman?”  Jessica asked.

                “That I wanted a commitment from you, a true one.”  Aubrey said.  “I’m not ready to get married, or even for us to live together permanently.  However…I would like to try what we discussed last night…if you are okay with it.  If not, I will stay with you as many nights as I can.  I just don’t want to spook you.”

                “I know Superman, but let’s do it.”

                “Really?”  Aubrey said. 

                “Yes.”  Jessica said.  “I do need a place where I don’t have to worry about stairs until I’ve progressed enough in my physical therapy.  You will be gone during the day so I can have some independence but you will be there at night if I need you.  I will have a quiet place to work on my dissertation but an awesome 60 inch TV to watch your DVDs on when I need a break.”

                “You mean that—“

                The redhead leaned forward.  “James Aubrey, let’s live together for the next several weeks.”

                “Only if I can be your love slave.”  Aubrey retorted.

                The redhead cracked up.  “Superman, with this bum leg, you’re not going to be my love slave for a while.”

                Aubrey cracked the side grin Jessica always found so sexy.  “Oh, I think we can think of ways of getting around that bum leg, Ms. Warren.”



                “YES…YES…Don’t stop!”

                The downstairs bedroom became a cacophony of moans and exclamations as Aubrey and Jessica were in the throes of making love in the guest bedroom downstairs.  The agent was pumping her from behind, making sure not to jostle her leg too much that was propped up on pillows.  He was careful not to squeeze her but his simultaneous manipulation between her legs finally caused his girlfriend to explode.


                Feeling his girlfriend shatter caused Aubrey to do the same.  They sat for about a minute, each trying to catch their breath.  When the agent began to recuperate, he kissed her gently on her neck as he began caressing her abdomen.  “Told you we…could get around…that bum leg.”  Aubrey said.

                Jessica’s right arm went around Aubrey's.  Finding his hand, she interlocked her fingers with his.  “I am always in awe of your talents, Special Agent Aubrey.”

                “What can I say?”  Aubrey said while continuing to nuzzle her neck.  “Google can be a man’s best friend sometimes.”

                The couple burst out laughing while they continued to hold each other close.  Aubrey pulled her closer to him before coming around to kiss his lover on the lips.  “Happy Valentine’s Day Jessica.”

                “Happy Valentine’s Day, Aubrey.”

                They laid together, arm and legs entwined in the quiet against each other’s warmth before falling asleep together.

                On Thursday afternoon, everyone including a recuperating Brennan and Jessica attended Sammy’s funeral.  When the anthropologist found out she had no family, she paid for all the funeral expenses. It was a simple ceremony attended by only the Jeffersonian group and a few others from St. George's that knew the young woman.

                As the group was leaving the cemetery, Booth linked his arm with his wife’s.  “It was a nice thing you did paying for all this.”

                “I didn’t realize she had no family of her own.”  Brennan said.  “I know how that feels…knowing that no one would be around to mourn when you were gone…”

                “But you did, Bones.  You just didn’t see it back then…and Sammy will have people to mourn her…you…myself…Aubrey, Jessica, Hodgins, Angela, Cam, Arastoo and the other squints.  She was misled and made some bad decisions, but in the end, she tried to do the right thing.  No one should be shunned for doing the right thing.”

                “Maybe if I had paid more attention to her…”

                “Bones.”  Booth said firmly.  “If it wasn’t her, Kovacs and his sister would have found someone else to manipulate.”

                “You’re right, Booth.  This train of thought is not logical.”

                “No, it’s not Bones.”  Booth said as he opened the door to his SUV for his wife.  “But it’s human.”


                Jessica led the way as she deftly maneuvered her crutches.  “I still can’t believe it, Superman.  Sammy was such a nice person.  Why would she…”

                Aubrey still had his issues with the young woman, but he wouldn’t kick a dead woman who couldn’t defend herself.  “I don’t know Jess, but she tried to do the right thing.  We have to remember that, all right?”

                The two arrived at Aubrey’s vehicle.  “Okay, Superman.”

                “Good.”  The agent said as he stood by to help Jessica if needed.  When she got in the car, he took her crutches and put them in his back seat.

                Jessica waited for Aubrey to get in the driver’s side, momentarily frustrated she couldn’t drive for several weeks.  However, she was just grateful to be alive at this point because she could have been like Sammy was right now.  When he sat down, he plugged his phone into his new Darth Vader car charger.

                “I’m glad you like my Valentine’s Day gift to you, Superman.”

                “It’s the best one I’ve ever got.”  Aubrey said before realizing his faux pas.  “I mean, besides…Tuesday afternoon.”

                Jessica caressed his face.  “I know.”

                Friday night came and Booth and Brennan arrived at Hodgins and Angela’s house for dinner.  As the couple were getting out of the car, Aubrey pulled up in his SUV and the driver’s side door opened.  “Hey, great timing.  Can’t wait for dinner.”

                Booth shook his head.  “Do you need help getting Jessica out of the SUV?”

                Aubrey walked around to the passenger side.  “Nope, all good.  Thanks, though.”

                Booth and Brennan watched the younger man assist Jessica out before giving her the crutches.  “She seems to be doing well, Bones.”

                “Yes.  I talked to her this morning.  If all goes well, she will hopefully be cleared to return to work for half shifts maybe in two weeks.”

                “Aubrey said she’s not one to sit around.”

                The older couple waited for the other one to join them.  “I concur.  I took her over some exams to grade and I’ve let her consult via Skype on a set of remains found in Quebec.”

                “That’s nice of you, Bones.”

                “Ms. Warren is one that needs to be mentally stimulated at all times.  I understand that frustration as I’ve been confined home and I hated it.”

                “I’m sure she appreciated it.”  Booth said.

                As the four walked up to the door, Aubrey speculated.  “I wonder what’s on the menu.”

                “Seriously, Aubrey?  That’s what on your mind?”

                “Aubrey needs to keep his strength up.”  Jessica said.  “He’s been taking very good care of me when he’s not at work…especially a couple of hours ago.”

                Aubrey turned beet red at his girlfriend’s hints of their earlier coupling.  “Thank you, Jess.”

                “I don’t want to know.”  Booth said as he hit the doorbell. 

                They didn’t wait long as Michael Vincent answered the door.  “Hi Uncle Booth, Aunt Bren.  Hi Aubrey.  Hi Jessica.”

                “Hi there Little Man.”  Jessica said. 

                “Mommy said to come into the den.”

                “All right.”  Booth said.

                The four walked slowly due to Jessica’s crutches.  When the eight year old opened the door, they were greeted with several people yelling SURPRISE!

                “What’s all this?”  Brennan asked Angela.

                “This is yours and Jessica’s welcome home party.”  Angela said before hugging Brennan.  “We’re just go glad you two are all right.”

                “Girl, you scare us like that again, I’m so kicking your ass.” Andie admonished as she and Daisy came up to the redhead.

                Jessica hugged her two friends.  “I promise to be more careful.”

                “You better.”  Daisy said.

                Gordon walked up to the two agents.  “Gentlemen, it seems your ladies are on the mend.”

                “Yeah, thank God.”  Booth said, watching as his wife and Aubrey’s girlfriend got flanked by people.

                “Aubrey, I hear congratulations are in order for your new dwelling.”

                “Thanks.  Tomorrow everyone is helping me move the last of my stuff out of my old apartment.”

                “Except Cam and Arastoo.”  Booth said.

                “Yes, Doctors Saroyan and Vaziri told me before they flew out to Mississippi today about their plans to adopt three foster children.  That is such a wonderful thing.”

                “Yeah.  They’re staying down there for a couple of weeks before bringing the boys home.”  Booth said.  “Michelle is stoked to get three new brothers.”

                Gordon smiled.  “She also told me that Doctor Hodgins is taking over in her absence.” 

                “Yep.”  Aubrey said.

                “Bug Boy gets to be King of the Lab for six months…for real this time.”  Booth said.

                “So, how are you doing at Jessica’s apartment?”  Aubrey said.  “You’re doing us a huge favor by staying there while you’re in town so she doesn’t have to pay rent.”

                “Very well in fact.  Nothing against your apartment but staying with you was cramping my style a bit.  A man does need a bit of privacy.”

                “So, what’s this surprise you mentioned yesterday, Gordon?”  Booth said before turning to his other friend.  “Okay, quit with that shit eating grin, Aubrey.  What do you know?”

                Aubrey looked for the important part of the night.  “Hey, check out the spread.  I should get a plate for Jessica.  Be right back.”

                “Chicken shit.”  Booth muttered good naturedly as they walked the lanky man walk away.  “Okay Gordon Gordon.  What gives?”

                The chef crossed his arms.  “I have a guest coming here shortly.”

                Booth smiled.  “Is it a lady guest?  Do I know her?”

                “Yes…and yes.”

                Booth slapped Gordon’s arm.  “You sly dog.  Who is it?”

                “All in due time, Booth.  Now, let’s enjoy the festivities, shall we?”


                Jessica was nursing a Coke due to her pain meds as she gossiped with Andie and Daisy on the den’s couch.

                “So…do you enjoy living in sin with Aubrey?”  Daisy asked.

                Jessica finished munching on her cheese.  “Let’s just say that no visiting nurse can care for me like my Superman can.”

                The women were laughing when someone unexpected came up to them.  Andie and Jessica looked surprised while Daisy merely ate a carrot.  

                “Jessica, I’m glad you’re okay.”

                “T-thanks, Oliver.”  Jessica said.  “I appreciate that.”

                “While we have our differences, mainly our intelligence levels and skill set--.”

                “Oliver, all you have to do is pay the $40.00 to take the Mensa test and if you pass you will be invited to join.”  Jessica said.

                “My previous test scores speak for themselves, Ms. Warren, so it’s their loss.  Nonetheless, looking forward to working with you again.”  The polymath said before walking away.

                “Okay…who was that and where’s the real Oliver Wells?”  Jessica said before sipping her pop.

                “I told him that it would behoove him to start being polite to his colleagues.”  Daisy said.  “I thought I would get a fight from him, but he just agreed with me.  I wonder why.”

                “Really?”  Andie said, incredulous at her friend’s ignorance.


                Angela came around and sat on her husband’s lap in his wheelchair.  “So, how’s my King of the Lab?”

                “King of the Lab is doing awesome.”  Hodgins said.  “Nothing…and I mean…nothing could top taking over the lab.”

                “Really?”  Angela said.  “Nothing at all?”

                “Nope.”  Hodgins said.

                Angela laughed before bending down to whisper in Hodgins’ ear.  His eyes got large and the smirk turned into an excited smile.

                “Seriously?”  Hodgins asked.  “Really?”

                “Yes.  There’s going to be another Prince or Princess of the Lab in about seven months.”

                “We’re having a baby!  Woo hoo!” Hodgins hollered before twirling his wife around in his wheelchair.



                Gordon felt a buzz on his phone.  Taking it out, he smiled.  “It seems my guest is here.  I will go get her and be right back.”

                When the profiler was out of earshot, Booth pointed his finger at Aubrey.  “You know who it is, don’t you?”

                Aubrey, who was on the couch with Jessica’s leg propped up on his lap, smiled.  “Perhaps.”

                “So Gordon’s got a girlfriend, huh?”  Hodgins said.  “I wonder who the lucky gal is.”

                Suddenly, the chef walked in with a petite older woman.  Everyone but Aubrey and Jessica had reactions from shock to amazement.

                “Doctor Mayer?”  Booth said.  “You’re Gordon’s girlfriend?”

                “Significant other…and lover.”  Beth Mayer said.  “Girlfriend reminds me of high school…and that train has run.”

                “Go Gordon!”  Angela hooted.

                “Where’s the bar, folks?”  Beth said.  “I could use a whiskey.”

                Hodgins wheeled himself to the bar.  “What kind, Beth?”

                “Jameson, please if you have it.”

                On the cough, Jessica smacked Aubrey’s arm.  “I told you she was a Jameson girl, Aubrey.  No one like that Old Fogelsong shit but you.”

                “Hey it’s smooth, Jess,”  The agent said before whispering,  “Just like the under your navel.”

                The couple smiled at each other.

                Aubrey and Jessica came home early when she became tired.  The agent suspected she was more tired than she let on, but knew his girl hated to leave a good party.

                After the redhead got settled in around 10:30, Aubrey brushed his teeth.  Coming out of the downstairs bathroom, Aubrey admired his new home for a minute.  There were a few boxes that still needed to be unpacked, not counting what was coming over tomorrow.  A couple of the bedrooms needed to be painted still.  The four bedrooms, bathroom, closet, and attic upstairs still needed door knobs but it was home.  He could easily picture having a family in this house…with Jessica.

                He still wasn’t ready to go there, but a guy could dream.

                Walking into the kitchen, he put a little food in Skinner’s dish so he wouldn’t be woke up at 6:00 in the morning.  When done, he turned to the fridge and grabbed a bottle of water.  Opening the cap, he took a drink as he mentally calculated his plans for the weekend.

                Tomorrow, the gang was meeting him at his apartment to move his stuff out so Oliver could move in Sunday while Jessica with Andie and Daisy’s assistance would pack up what she would need for the next eight plus weeks.  His girlfriend insisted on making vegetarian lasagna for everyone as a thank you for all the work.  He relented when she promised her that her two assistants would help her with the parts that involved moving around the kitchen.

                Sunday, he and Jessica had plans for staying in their PJs and watching old Science fiction movies.  After the crazy week they had, both felt they earned a lazy day together with Skinner.

                Capping his water, Aubrey headed back towards the downstairs bedroom, figuring he could read for a bit before bed.  Walking in, he saw his girlfriend sleeping soundly on the left side with her leg propped up with pillows.  She was wearing his fraternity t-shirt and panties underneath.  That combo usually turned him on, but she needed her rest.  Her pain medication assisted with that.  Next to her, Skinner was on his side stretched contently as he snugged up to his girlfriend.

                Realizing he didn’t want to read anymore, he climbed into bed.  Putting his water on the nightstand, Aubrey shut off the light.  Turning onto his side, he gingerly put his arm around Jessica’s waist and went to sleep.

                Maybe this living together thing would work out better than planned.

                Around 12 midnight, Booth and Brennan got home from the party.  Their kids were in Hodgins and Angela’s guest house with Billy, who was hosting a slumber party with Michael Vincent.  They got themselves situated and into bed.

                “Were you surprised, Bones?”  Booth asked when he came into the doorway.

                Brennan was attempting to put on a nightshirt.  “Yes, Booth I was.  I enjoyed my party very much and so did Ms. Warren.”

                Booth saw his wife struggling.  He knew how independent she was, so he waited until she stopped struggling.


                “Coming Bones.”

                He helped his wife get into her pajama shirt before assisting with the sling.  Booth knew Bones was frustrated but he preferred her in a shoulder sling to six feet under.  When she was situated, they got into bed.  Hearing his wife’s silence, Booth immediately knew why.

                “There’s nothing you could have done to prevent Sammy from doing all this, you know.” 

                Brennan exhaled in frustration.  “I still don’t understand why she didn’t place the bomb by the window like she was instructed to, Booth.  What if--”

                “I’m not going to play ‘what if’, Bones.  I’m going to just say my prayers that we’re all still standing…that you and Jessica survived because there’s a reason for all that happened that day.”

                Brennan knew what her husband was hinting at.  “Booth neither your God or any spiritual being was looking out—“

                “Think what you want Bones, but there was…at least to me.”  Booth said before wiping a tear.  “You and Jessica could have been in another part of the lab.  You could have been alone.  They could have manipulated another intern…one of those things taken away and we wouldn’t be talking.”

                “I love you, Booth.”  Brennan said.

                “I love you, too Bones.”  Booth said before giving his wife a small kiss.  “Now, let’s get some sleep.  You know how much sleeping in is a luxury around here.”

                “True.”  Brennan said.

                The couple got under the fluffy comforter of their bed.  Booth held her to ensure her shoulder had no weight on it and they closed their eyes to peaceful dreams for the first time in a long time.