AN: I'm so excited to be posting this story. I've been working on it for several months and now it's finished. I will be posting two or three chapters a week. Thanks to redrider6612 who edited the story for me and made me rewrite when what I'd written was out of character. Hope you enjoy it. (For everyone following Wounded and Scarred, there will be an update soon.)
"So," Booth asked Brennan, "do you know anything about Angela's new show besides the title 'The Evolution of a Relationship'?"
"No," Brennan replied. "Usually she tells me about her shows and shows me a few of the paintings before they go on display. But she's been really secretive about this one. She refused to tell me anything about it. When I tried to get information from the gallery all they sent was a postcard with the title, gallery times, opening night information and a quote from some famous artist saying it's Angela best show yet."
"That's weird," Booth said as he climbed out of the SUV.
Booth's hand found its usual place at the small of Brennan's back as they walked toward the gallery entrance.
When they entered the building, Brennan was surprised to see the setup. Instead of the space being open to allow the visitors to free wander and appreciate the art, it was designed to force everyone to follow the same path through the exhibit.
She looked up at Booth. He shrugged, and then helped her out of her coat.
"Wow, Bones. You look nice tonight," he complimented her.
She smiled and said, "I always make an extra effort for Angela's shows. It wouldn't do for her best friend to embarrass her."
She lowered her voice to a whisper, "Actually, Angela picked this out herself and told me I had to wear it. For some reason she's more nervous about this show than I've seen her in a long time."
"Hey, sweetie, I'm so glad you two could make it," Angela's voice preceded the woman herself by about a foot.
"You know I wouldn't miss one of your shows," Brennan replied.
She hugged Brennan and then said, "You two stick together and I hope you enjoy it. I'll see you later, right now I see some people I need to talk to."
With that Angela flitted off to speak to an older couple who were just entering the gallery.
Booth and Brennan moved toward the first painting. It showed a man and a woman in a garden, standing in front of a fountain. Each figure had their fists planted firmly on their hips, obviously arguing.
"I've never been that good at interpreting art," Brennan began, "but the title of the show mentions relationships and the people in this picture are clearly fighting."
Booth nodded his agreement, and after studying the piece for a moment longer they moved on to the next one.
This one featured the same two people, the woman was looking out of a car's passenger window and the man was looking at her, annoyed.
Neither Booth nor Brennan felt the need to comment on the picture and they moved onto the next one.
It showed the same two people and a number of others at a funeral. The next showed the woman scolding the man about something.
"She's pretty hard on that guy," Booth commented.
"What makes you think he didn't deserve it?" Brennan retorted.
Each gave the other a hard look and then by mutual agreement they continued to the next painting.
This one featured the two people sitting next to each other, near a tree overlooking a park.
"At least in this picture they look friendly toward each other," Brennan said.
The two continued slowly, stopping to enjoy each picture. Neither of them seemed to notice the other people looking at Angela's art. They were so absorbed that they missed the occasional odd look that came their way.
A few pictures further down the path came one that neither of them could help but recognize. The woman, hands bound, had her arms around the neck of the man, a look of relief on her face. The background showed a large hook, some dogs, a guy on the floor with his hands in cuffs, and some police officers.
Brennan turned to Booth, but he was the first to speak.
"I knew something about these pictures was odd. I kept experiencing a kind of déjà vu, but I couldn't figure out why," he said.
"What was Angela thinking?" Brennan demanded. "I mean, the faces have different features, but I can't believe I didn't realize…" she stopped, not wanting to attract too much attention.
They continued to walk slowly through the exhibit. The settings and faces had been changed, but the events were clearly recognizable: the man offering the woman an earring while they sat among friends; the couple sitting in a graveyard, the woman comforting the grieving man. The painting entitled, "Who I Am," was particularly poignant as the man comforted the woman. The pictures went on, each one showing the two characters in various ways, but also showing the growing closeness between them: a late night dinner, the two of them sitting at a bar; the man kneeling over the woman lying on gravel, holding her to him; the two facing each other outside a large window, the man's hand under the woman's chin; the woman pointing a gun at a curly-haired heavy-set man, protecting the man while he struggled with his bonds; the formally-dressed couple hugging at the front of the church, with an impatient bride looking on.
When they reached the reception area, neither knew what to say. As they started to help themselves to the food, someone offered each of them an envelope.
Each looked at their envelopes and noticed the handwriting was Angela's.
Booth opened his and found a white piece of paper with a single sentence, "Don't you think you've already crossed the line?"
Brennan's had a different message, "Maybe now you'll believe me."
They both looked up from their notes at the same time and their glances caught. Their gaze held for a moment, and then Brennan looked away.
"Booth, can I read your note?" she asked.
"If you don't mind if I read yours," he replied.
She stretched her note toward him, and they traded.
"Wait, does she mean…?" Brennan started to ask, but Booth interrupted her.
"Maybe we shouldn't have this conversation here," he said, steering her back toward her coat and the exit.
"I can't believe Angela did this!" Brennan said a bit too loudly.
Booth hissed, "Keep it down. You can rip into her about it later, but don't ruin her show. It's too late for us to do anything about it."
As they reached the exit, they overheard a potential buyer asking a gallery assistant, "How much for 'Rescue Me,' the one with the dogs? I noticed there were no prices listed for any of them."
The assistant replied in a chagrined voice, "The artist, Angela Montenegro, insisted that none of them were for sale. The paintings were so good we decided to show them for a week anyway. She's here tonight, so maybe you can convince her to sell. She could make a fortune on these."
Booth and Brennan escaped into the night.