I lay no claim to anything. No need to send Booth to my house to pull
out some painful Army Ranger moves on me. Though if you'd like to
send Booth to my house...
Notes: Last chapter. I hope you enjoy it! One very clever reviewer made a dead-on prediction. Good job, Ataralasse!
Temperance was confused when she opened her eyes. For one, she was lying on Booth's couch, and it took her a second to remember why. It was also broad daylight, and the anthropologist couldn't remember the last time she'd risen after the sun.
She sighed and pressed her face to the pillow. Her head throbbed faintly and her whole body was sore, but she was well-rested. The whole fiasco would have been easily forgettable, she reflected, if it hadn't been for the bastard killing her cat.
It wasn't that Tempe was an animal fanatic. She just liked having another living being in the house, for company. Birdie had been picked up at an animal shelter two years ago; a gift from Angela, in fact. She would go back to the same shelter to get a new kitten, she decided. Getting a new pet so quickly would seem disrespectful to some people, of course, but Tempe would feel strange being alone after having that comforting presence for so long. She knew that getting a new cat didn't mean that she had finished grieving for the old one.
Sighing, she kicked her legs over the edge of the couch and sat up. Her things were on the end table to her left, and there was a piece of paper taped to her cell phone. Ignoring the way her head rang when she stood, she rose and reached for the note.
I called Goodman and told him you weren't going to be in this morning. Help yourself to whatever in the kitchen. Call me when you get up.
She sat cross-legged back down on the couch and dialed. Booth picked up immediately.
"Finally up, Bones?"
"You should have woken me before you left." A quick glance at the clock told her it was nearly 11. "But thanks for letting me sleep."
"People who beat up murderers, get shoved into bookcases, and nearly avoid getting stabbed are entitled to miss a morning of work. Do you want me to come get you? We could grab some lunch."
"Yes, that'd be excellent, Booth, but I'm tired of eating out. Why don't I throw something together, and then when you get here we can eat and then leave?" She began pulling the things she'd packed out of her bag as she spoke.
"Sure, Bones. I'll be there in an hour. Just don't burn anything down."
"Very amusing. See you soon, Booth."
"Hope so, Bones."
Booth sat back and sighed after taking the last bite of the meal Brennan had whipped up. Some sort of stir-fry, from what he could gather, and delicious.
"I'll take that as a compliment," Brennan said wryly, watching him grin complacently.
"Go right ahead." The agent stood and started helping his partner clear the dishes.
"What's the news on the case?" Tempe asked, rinsing off a pan.
"It's a lot of what we already had guessed. Harryl stole the stories from his mother, and no one was the wiser until Debrue spotted one of the originals while digging through some old archives. It turns out the suicide was genuine; the brother died five minutes after talking with Debrue, and the coroner's report supports suicide." Booth glanced nervously out the window at his car for a second before looking back at Brennan.
"Why a cliff, though?" Tempe asked. "Why didn't he just get into Harryl's apartment, like he did with me?"
"Speaking of that, I've had your locks changed. Your old one was a cinch to pick. But it turns out Debrue called Harryl to meet him over at the Grand Falls park, and tried to blackmail him with the information. Harryl figured it'd be easier to knock the guy off and not bother paying. Now, he's paying with life in prison."
"Guess that means he won't be calling me for a second date." Tempe grinned.
Booth snorted. "Not unless you're a very good lawyer. Or a very good publicist, I have a feeling his book sales may drop considerably after this. Especially considering the fact that they're being called off the shelves."
"My publisher called me while I was making lunch," Tempe informed Booth.
"What'd she say?" Booth was grinning.
"She told me I had better get my book written soon, sounded very frazzled, and hung up when I asked her what was wrong."
"Wonder what could be eating her."
"Beats me," Tempe shrugged.
Booth glanced outside at his SUV again, closed the dishwasher, and turned to Tempe. "Stay here a second."
"Why? What are you doing?" She couldn't help feeling tense. She'd had one too many surprises recently.
"You'll see, Bones!" Booth called behind his shoulder in a sing-song voice. Tempe sighed and sank into a kitchen chair, then stared at her half-drunk iced tea until she heard footsteps in the kitchen. When she looked up, she saw Booth standing in the entrance to the room with something in his arms.
Something that mewed when he held it forwards, meeting her eyes as he prayed she'd react like he thought she would.
She stood up so quickly that she almost knocked the chair out from under her and took an apprehensive step towards man and kitten, then held out her hand and stroked the soft fur on top of the tiny head.
"Booth," she breathed, head tilted to once side, eyes transfixed on the perfect little scrap of a creature in front of her. Finally, she raised her chin and met her partner's gaze. "For me?"
She sounded almost surprised, Booth noted. "No, Bones, for Harryl," he teased gently.
"Booth, I…" she paused, swallowed, looked at the gift, and then back at the giver. "Thank you."
Then, she was in his arms again, somehow, and Booth decided he could get used to it. Her face was buried into his shoulder, and he rested his chin on the top of her head. He could tell by the way she was shaking that she was on the verge of tears, and he wondered if that was a good thing or a bad thing.
The kitten let out a high-pitched yowl, and Tempe stepped back, wiping her eyes, and then laughed as she took the kitten from Booth. "I don't know what to say."
"You could always name it Seeley," he said, flashing Brennan a mischievous grin.
She rolled her eyes, laughing. "What kind of a name is Seeley?"
"What kind of a name is Temperance?" he countered, raising his eyebrows.
She shot him a look and continued stroking the kitten. "I'm not naming him until I can make sure the name will fit. When I was growing up, our neighbors had a cat named Tiny, because he had been the runt of the litter."
"Let me guess; Tiny got a little too fond of table scraps?"
Brennan laughed and nodded. "When did you have time to pick him up, Booth?" she questioned, filling up a bowl with water and setting the kitten down beside it. He was still small, but definitely old enough to drink on his own. She wasn't an expert on animals, but Tempe guessed that the kitten was about three or four weeks old.
"This morning, from the shelter. If you'd like, we can swing by your apartment on our way to the lab, and you can drop him off with your stuff."
She nodded. "You can just drop me off at home, then. There's no reason for you to drive all the way to the lab. I'll just get my car."
He gave her a sly smile, and his eyes glinted deviously. "Actually, Bones, it's a funny story. While you were busy putting Harryl out cold with your Mongolian vase-"
"-it was Kenyan," Tempe interjected.
"While you were busy putting Harryl out cold with your Kenyan vase," Booth corrected, "an elderly couple taking a stroll found something unusual."
"Let me guess, that unusual something is currently sitting on a lab table waiting to be identified?" Brennan asked, slinging her bag over one shoulder and picking up the kitten with her free arm.
"You're the next Miss Cleo, Bones."
"I don't know what that means."
Temperance sat at her desk writing, a cat on her lap and words on her screen, just the way she liked it. She was almost finished with the chapter that had been giving her so much trouble. The scene she'd been avoiding was completely done.
She couldn't quite explain why she had been able to write after agonizing over it for so long. She didn't think about the fact that her parents' eyes didn't look down from the bookshelf at her as she wrote any more. The fact that she had stopped feeling as if her character didn't get along with her parents, it meant she wouldn't have gotten along with hers.
She typed in the last few lines, reread the paragraph again, saved the file, and then shut the computer down just as a knock sounded at the door.
A smile snaked its way onto her lips. Booth was picking her up to go speak with the elderly couple that had found the body in her lab; a few crucial bones were missing, so they wanted to make sure the couple hadn't seen anything else.
She opened the door to reveal her partner waiting impatiently. "Hey, Bones, ready to go?"
Nodding, Tempe slung her bag over her shoulder and picked her cat up from the floor, letting Booth stroke it once before she plopped a kiss on his head and set him down on the floor. "Be good, Ranger," she warned the cat as she closed the door, gave Booth a sly grin, and strode past him towards the stairs.
Booth didn't move for a second, just watched Brennan's retreating figure and stuck his hands in his pockets. A smile flickered onto his lips.
AN: Thanks so much to everyone who has read and review along the way! Your support and comments made this a great experience, you guys are lovely.
This was a hard chapter to write, because there were so many dangling plot lines to be concluded! I hope you all enjoyed it.
Shameless plug! My next story, The Skeleton's Truth, is going to be up very shortly. Check it out if you liked this!
So… let me know what you thought of the last chapter, or about the story as a whole. Did it meet your expectations? Did you like reading it? Want to give Ranger some catnip? Drop me a line, let me know!