Disclaimer: Not mine!

Notes: Oh, dear. Life has been very busy ever since the publishing of the last chapter, and I apologize (once more) for the lateness of this. I've been on a bit of a hiatus, and probably will be for a while. It's likely that no one remembers this… but I couldn't leave it unfinished!

There are some spoilers for the Girl with the Curl in this last one… but nothing more than could be gleaned from TV Guide, as I haven't seen it either! This story started out as speculation, and it'll end on the same note. I hope you enjoy it!


Brennan stared down at the ice cream wrapper. It was funny, how much information could come from something so insignificant. How many of these same brightly-colored wrappers had she seen the summer she had scooped ice cream? Too many. She could almost taste the flavor on her tongue. It wasn't as sweet as she thought she had remembered.

She straightened up and tried to hold in the sigh that threatened to escape her. Booth looked distinctly uncomfortable… the same way he had looked throughout the entire case.

In the car (they almost never drove separately- why was that?) they were silent until Booth couldn't contain his disgust any longer. Tempe had known that would happen. People liked to fill the silences… hadn't he been the one to tell her that?

"That kid… the world gives some kids hell, Bones." He was using that authoritative, world-weary voice. She didn't know why she found it so grating. "She wasn't even loved for who she was. She was… admired. For what she looked like, how she acted. That's just not right, to love a kid like that." He paused, and she almost resented the fact that he always talked to her about kids as if she didn't know the slightest detail about them. She almost did, but she couldn't.

There was a moment's pause. "No, you shouldn't." She didn't know what else to say. Of course you shouldn't live a kid like that. You should love them because of who they are, she concluded, not because of things like appearance, actions, obligations. Pity.

They didn't talk the rest of the way. She was glad he seem didn't think it was awkward.

Façades. All those little pageant girls had created identities as fake as her mother's… as fake as her own. She doubted they knew what they were doing. They just wanted to be beautiful. Her thoughts flashed back to the L.A. call girls. What did it matter, to be easy on the eyes? To be beautiful?

Was she beautiful?

She'd been told she was, by men, by a few people who wanted her to model for them. She couldn't see it, though, when she looked in the mirror. She saw a dizzying number of people calling to her, telling her she needed to help them, give them a name, give them a face. Daunting, yes, but surely more gratifying than beauty, wasn't it?

. It wasn't that she didn't care about her appearance; she always tried to make sure her makeup, hair, and clothing were neat, clean, and culturally suitable. If she changed that, would everything in her life really be any different?

No, you didn't need to alter your appearance to gain love. Love wasn't like that. It surprised you, jumped out at you, found you in places you didn't expect. You couldn't do anything to gain love- you would never be beautiful enough, smart enough, work hard enough, get good enough grades or know the right people. You could never be enough to make someone love you.

But you could certainly try.

She cast a scornful eye at the mascara in her hand. Going to Sid's with Booth did not require such time and effort. What did she expect to happen if her lashes looked a little longer, her lips a little fuller, her hips… what did she expect? Booth seemed to like her well enough. He appreciated her intelligence; he recognized all the things about her that she prided herself on. Mascara, she thought, wouldn't change a thing. It was just another layer to hide behind.

Life was easier if people thought they knew you, though. It was easier if they saw mascara, lipstick, dazzle. Life was easier if you thought you knew yourself.

That was why Joy Keenan would remain Temperance Brennan. Too much had gone into the charade. Going back to the truth would be impossible.

AN: And that's the end! Drop a line if you liked/didn't like/feel neutral towards this last chapter.