Authors Notes: This is the slightly edited and extended version of the story I wrote for the angelahodgins ficathon over on Livejournal. For which I was given this prompt: "We, who sought many things, throw all away for this one thing, one only." - Judith Wright.
Spoilers: 1.17 - "The Skull in the Desert"
Disclaimer: I don't own Booth, Tempe, Zach or Cam but am currently in negotiations over the rights to Jack and Angela.
Summary: The Jeffersonians heart is broken. Hints at Hodgela. Spoilers for 1.17.
"We, who sought many things, throw all away for this one thing, one only." - Judith Wright.
I should be checking the remains that are lying a measly three feet away from me, for any particulates that might, give us some indication as to how and where the guy died.
I should be listening to the endless stream of questions that Zach has been persistently calling out to the back of my head, for the past ten minutes. If only to pretend as though I'm half interested in what the guy has to say.
Yet despite knowing all of this, after another half an hour of waiting. The penlight still hangs loosely between my fingertips, and Zach has finally left me alone on the platform. Although whether it's because he's finally gotten tired of talking to himself, or if it's because he's gone to tell Brennan that I'm ignoring him again. I can't be entirely certain.
Whatever the reason, I still haven't moved an inch in all that time. All my attention fixed on that chrome metal door. Whose single, silhouetted woman just keeps staring back at me. Taunting me.
She's been in there a lot longer than I've been waiting for her to come out, and although it's not the first time I've toyed with the adolescent fantasy, of wishing that the walls of the women's restroom were made of one-way glass. I think this is the first time I've truly meant it.
From behind me, I suddenly hear the sound of approaching footsteps. I know its Dr Brennan and wonder for an instant whether my prediction of Zach complaining to her about me has actually come true. It's this fleeting idea combined with the knowledge that it's best to know what mood she's in, before giving her the chance to flail you alive. That causes me to reluctantly pull my gaze away from the door.
I'm only slightly surprised to see that Zach isn't following in her wake, and she's carrying a skull decorated by a mass of rubber tissue markers. "Hodgins, do you know where Angela is? She's supposed to be working on this facial reconstruction for me, but she's not in her office, and nobody seems to know where she is"
My eyes widen slightly in panic as I try to think of a cover-up and, for once, I'm grateful of Brennan's short attention span where the living's concerned. Her gaze quickly returning to the skull in her hands as she checks the markers for what is probably the hundredth time since she finished putting them on. She doesn't notice the way I nervously cross my arms, before uncrossing them and bury my hands into the pockets of my lab coat. My mind racing, searching for an explanation that will prevent her from storming into the restroom, demanding that Angela tells her what's wrong.
When I finally feel as though I've come up with something that's plausible. Brennan's once again watching me expectantly. Yet as I move my mouth to speak, I'm rescued by the sound of her voice.
"I'm here Bren". Her voice is tight and the hint of amusement you can hear is obviously forced. She's putting on a brave face again and even before I snap my head around to look at her, I know that she'll be smiling. However, it will not be the bright, full-teethed smile that causes my heart to race and my breath to hitch in my throat. Instead, it'll be the one that barely pulls at the corner of her mouth. The one that says 'Look at me, I'm happy, I'm smiling. Leave me alone'.
I follow Brennan's gaze to where I was looking only moments ago, and she's standing in front of the chrome door. With that exact smile. Arms crossed, hair pulled back to the base of her neck, and the faintest hint of mascara tracks running the length of her pink tinged cheeks. It's a look, I'm regrettably growing used to, the same look she's been harbouring for the past two weeks. God has it really only been two weeks.
Working at the Jeffersonian, you learn early on that the speed in which dead body's breeze in and out of the lab, whether they're thousand year old warriors or Booths latest front page murder mystery, causes days and weeks to pass you by before you can stop for a breath.
It's no surprise that it feels like a lifetime has passed since I made the phone call to confirm that the skull, that had been sent for me and Zach to identify, was in fact that of Kirk Persinger.
She came back to work straight away, despite all of our protests. Arguing that it was better that she just got on with her life instead of mopping around at home for hours on end, and even if I did think it was a stupid idea at the time. The truth is, she was probably right, cause no matter how selfish it may appear to everybody else. Getting lost in the pain and suffering of complete strangers, helps us ignore our own problems, if only for a little while.
Nevertheless, that still hasn't stopped her acting differently. Her frequent trips to the bathroom and mascara smeared cheeks, just being the beginnings of it all. We've all noticed. The way she acts, when she knows that people are watching her. Pulling out that half smile and flirting aimlessly with anybody who gives her a second glance, which to my own aggravation, just happens to be any member of the Jeffersonian with a Y chromosome.
However, what they don't notice, is that her sparkles gone. From her eyes and her movements and without that the lab is reduced to a scientific shell. Void of any if all emotion, because its heart isn't beating anymore, isn't feeling.
It doesn't help of course that Kirk's murder was the last big case that we've had to work on.
I don't listen to what Brennan's telling her, just watch as she nods in the all right places. Keeping up the act that everything's fine and dandy, and I know that I've been doing that a lot just lately. Watching her. Admiring the things, she does, the way she moves.
I keep telling myself that it's just because I'm worried about her, but it started long before any of this happened. I can't quite determine if there was a specific event that triggered it all, because I've always thought that she was beautiful. With those dark eyes, long legs, and a smile that usually brightens up any room. What sane man wouldn't?
Yet before this playful flirting began between us, she'd always been the inaccessible co-worker who was leaving with a different guy every Friday night. Having fun, enjoying life to the fullest.
My thoughts are broken as the two of them finish talking and Brennan walks away. Simultaneously she begins to head towards her own office, but before descending the small flight of stairs she stops and glances over her shoulder towards me.
"Could you just stop doing that?" I'm so shocked by the sudden question that I have just enough time to acknowledge it before she continues, her voice pleading. "Could you just stop staring and analysing me like I'm some bug at the end of your microscope…please?" A sympathetic sigh escapes my lips.
"I'm just-" I begin, but when her brow rises questioningly, I feel myself panic and quickly backtrack. "-We're just worried about you, Angela"
"I'm fine Jack" I can't help but notice that her eyes dart briefly to Brennan and Zach who are both hunched over the remains, adamantly talking between themselves. Not seeming to notice either of us, standing there, and I hate them for it.
When I turn back to face her she's biting on her bottom lip nervously and my heart sinks a little bit more.
"Angela" I say in encouragement but it sounds more as if I don't believe her than I wanted it to. To both of us because she turns away embarrassed that I can see through her façade.
"I'll be alright Jack" her voice is barely above a whisper this time, and I can't tell whether it's her or me she's really trying to convince.
As she leaves, the flat shoes, she's taken to wearing recently, move silently across the lab and I miss that familiar echo of high-heeled shoes against the tiled floor, almost as much as I miss that ever-confident swagger of her hips.
I watch as she disappears into her office, and this time, there are glass walls that let me see into the room. Allow me to watch as she mills about automatically collecting the tools that she needs to work with. Before carefully setting the skull down on the pedestal in front of her and sitting down to draw.
I'm so entranced by the way; her brow furrows in thought and her eyes narrow as she tries to see the face that isn't there anymore. That I don't notice Zach heading towards me until he's blocking my view. My own eyes narrow in annoyance and his face pales slightly at my glare.
"I brought you a cup of coffee," he explains quickly and any other time I might have played on his discomfort. Today, I simply take the two cups from his hands and ignoring his protests, push passed him on my way to her office.
In the doorway, I pause and wonder what I'm going to say to her, without making myself look like anymore of an idiot. It's not until I take in a somewhat nervous breath that she turns to look at me, one brow raised expectantly.
She doesn't ask me what I'm doing there as I walk into her office, just turns her attention back to the page in front of her. She still doesn't say anything as I place the cup of coffee that doesn't smell like molasses, and is obviously mine, on the desk besides her.
For what seems like hours I stand and watch as the portrait develops and I'm all to aware of the uncomfortable silence that hangs between us. I long for something to say or do and casually take a sip from Zach's coffee that is still in my hand. Immediately, I can't fight the gag reflex caused by how sweet it tastes, and spit it back into the cup
"How the hell does Zach drink this crap?" I ask, screwing my face up in distaste, realising that I may have just discovered why the guy is so hyperactive all the time.
When I finally look back at her, she's watching me in confusion, and must be worried because she picks up the other cup and takes a cautious sip. However, I'm not concerned, because I know it'll be perfect.
Zach may like to put half a packet of sugar in his own coffee, but he makes mine exactly the way I like it, and there's only one other person in the entire Jeffersonian who takes there coffee exactly the same way she does, and she knows it as much as I do.
It's no surprise that she doesn't ask the question that I'm sure is playing across her mind. Simply wraps both hands around the cup and lifts it up to her lips, in an attempt to hide the smile that pulls at the corner of her mouth.
I think it's at that moment. As I recognise that faint sparkle in her eyes, that I realise I'd be willing to give up everything I am, everything I own just to see her happy again, just to see that smile. Even if it means overloading myself with the insane amount of sugar, that Zach puts into his coffee.
With a disbelieving shake of my head, I have another drink.
Comments and reviews greatly appreciated.