Author's Notes: A short chapter, but hopefully enjoyable. Thank you so much for all the support!
The Woman Who Never Came Back
by Kristen Elizabeth
"Are you sure you want to do this, Ang?"
It took Angela a second to reply to her husband's concerned question, but eventually she nodded. "I have to see her…to make it real. You know?"
Hodgins looked at Zack, giving his old friend a slight nod as an indication to go ahead. Zack lifted the thin sheet that covered the remains of their long lost friend and pulled it away.
"Oh, sweetie," Angela said after a long moment had passed. She gripped her husband's hand tightly. "I'm sorry…I'm so sorry."
"It wasn't your fault," Hodgins murmured, kissing her temple. "It wasn't."
"She would have left if I hadn't…" She closed her eyes, but not quickly enough to keep a tear from escaping. "All this time, she's been so close."
Zack looked down at the bones. "We recovered the remnants of the bullet. I have my best people analyzing it. But I doubt if we'll find much that decomposition and time haven't erased."
"The type of bullet could tell us something," Hodgins said. "If that can be determined. Would it be all right if I took a look?"
"Do I need to repeat the definition of 'retirement' to you for the seventy-third time?" Zack asked.
Before he could reply, Angela's eyes flew open. "Booth." The men looked at her. "He needs to know about…this." She looked away from the bones. "He doesn't deserve to hear about it second-hand."
"What makes you think he cares?"
She stared at her husband. "How can you say that?"
Sensing a fight over a very old issue re-emerging, Zack stepped in. "Of course I thought of him. But the NDI doesn't have any more of an idea where he is than we do. They lost track of him after the war ended, when the FBI and the CIA merged."
"He took himself out of the world when she disappeared from it," Hodgins said bitterly.
"Maybe we should find him," Angela quietly suggested. "Bring him back."
"What could he do that we can't?" Hodgins slipped his hand out of his wife's and folded his arms. "He had his chance to protect her. And look how that turned out."
The look Angela gave him could have melted steel. He would definitely be spending the night in the guest room. "He did what he could," she said. "We all let her down. Didn't we?"
"There's only one person to blame for this," Zack reminded them, rather firmly. "The person who put that bullet in Dr. Brennan's head. Now, we all remember everything that led up to the day she left. My team needs to know, too. They need to know everything." He looked back and forth between the couple. "Can you both do that?"
Apologies silently passed between Angela and Hodgins; they laced their fingers together, and he brought her hand up to his lips.
"Good." Zack nodded. "They should be back from lunch soon. We'll sit down with them and go over…"
Angela and Hodgins turned their heads just in time to see their son walk into Zack's office with a surprised, but slightly confused look on his face.
"What are you two doing here?" Seth asked his parents.
To Be Continued