Author's Note: I have to be honest here. I'm not really sure why I wrote this. In fact, there were times during my writing process that I tried to stop. On my beta profile, it even says I really don't like writing these kinds of things. So, why is it here? Because it came to me, held on, and seriously would not let go. I have other fics to write. This just would not let me go though.
Anyway, in case someone wonders, it's set in the distant future. Well, distant as in ten years or so. I should tell you now that my favorite friendship on all of TV is the one between Brennan and Angela. Whether it's due in part to Emily and Michaela remains to be seen, but I simply adore them. I think that if, God forbid, something like this were to happen, a situation like this might be plausible.
Review if you can. It would be appreciated. Thanks!
The sky was bright, and despite the mood inside of the SUV, it somehow seemed fitting. For the first time since they arrived, she turned to look at him. "I have to do this."
Booth gave her a sympathetic look before covering her hand with his. "You don't have to, Bones. She'd understand."
Brennan seemed to consider his statement, tilting her head as if she were mulling it over. "I just-" She sighed. "I feel like I have to."
Booth offered a smile, hoping that somehow it would be enough to provide her strength. "Just holler if you need me."
She had barely opened the truck door when she felt tears sprouting in her eyes. "I won't be long."
He knew she was only trying to stall; to push off something that she still felt necessary. Waiting until the last possible moment, Booth's fingers slid from hers. "Are you sure you don't want me to go with you?"
Brennan laughed, though it didn't do anything to lighten her mood. "I'll be fine, Booth. Just...stay here."
Booth nodded and watched as Brennan made her way down the stone path. He felt a breath hitch in his chest as he rolled down the windows and turned off the engine. She needed this, that much he knew. Though he'd never tell her, he was sure Brennan knew that he'd been there. It was irrational, she tried so hard to explain. A simple stone that was supposed to represent the full, vibrant life her best friend had lived, she'd called it. The day after, he went to a floral shop and bought the brightest colored flowers he could find. It wouldn't do anything-it hadn't changed her mind-but it felt better knowing that he'd tried.
Brennan shifted her feet uncomfortably and focused her attention on the sky. Something didn't feel right about being there before; seeing the name etched across the stone, and the gifts everyone left behind. Though she still held reservations, Brennan knew that seeing everything would somehow cement it in her mind. Grieving over the past was never how she dealt with things, but Brennan felt that in some way she owed her.
A breeze tousled her hair, and she looked over to see their vehicle still parked there. Her throat felt like it had closed, and she considered running back to ask him for help. Shaking the thoughts from her head, Brennan turned back as her knees hit the grass.
"Ange," She whispered. The name was there. The dates were there. A quote that Angela herself had chosen long before it actually happened. But it wasn't enough. How were a few simple facts supposed to tell anyone walking by who she had been or what she had done? How did the flowers-orchids from Hodgins, lilies from Booth-hold any permanence in a life that had already run its course?
Brennan fought to swallow, already feeling the tears welling in her eyes. "Are you sure?"
Angela nodded, her brown curls shaking solemnly. "The doctor performed the test twice. Listen, I'm not telling you this because-"
"They have to perform it again, Ange." Brennan's stony denial wasn't doing any help, but thinking that her best friend was sick didn't make matters better. "I'm sure they could have missed something."
"Bren." Angela's voice, still calm and rational through the pain. "Like I was saying, I'm not telling you this because I'm trying to hurt you. But-" her tongue darted out to moisten her lips. She grabbed Brennan's hand and gave it a squeeze. "Sara needs her family, you know? I'm discussing different options regarding treatment but there's no telling what's going to happen to me. I'm going to fight this as best I can, and it's going to take a lot out of me. Jack is amazing, I love him...he's the greatest father to Sara. He's taking this the best he can, but I know that at some point it's going to hit him. I'm asking-well, I'm hoping-that when the time comes, you three will be there for them."
Brennan stared down at their hands and choked back a sob. She hoped in that moment that her voice was stronger than she felt. "You don't have to ask, Angela. You know we will be." The steady tone in her voice was a cover. Angela needed her to be strong, and falling apart with her wasn't going to solve anything. "Have you told her?"
Angela shook her head. "Jack and I want to tell her together. I'm not sure if she'll understand the concept of it, but we think she'll understand."
Their lives had changed so much over the years. Jack and Angela had finally gotten married, mere months later proudly announcing the fact that they were expecting their first child together. Brennan had been there, taking Angela to appointments whenever Jack was in the middle of things, though he was there as much as possible. Things between Booth and Brennan had progressed as well. It all began thanks to Angela, nearly pushing them together in the middle of a dance at the wedding. From there they quietly began a relationship, only announcing it officially after an office camera had caught a shot of Brennan tugging him by the tie into a storage closet. Months passed, a year had gone by. Brennan held onto her beliefs that marriage was unnecessary and Booth respected her for it. He respected her for it even when he found her in the bathroom a year and a half after their relationship began, staring at a positive pregnancy test. She caved eventually on the fact that she loved him, but still insisted that marriage was out of the question. Of course, when two stubborn people were in a relationship, things changed even when you didn't plan for them to.
A laugh had broken her from the reverie she'd been in, and Brennan turned to look at her friend. "Ange?"
Angela offered a smile for reassurance though Brennan didn't miss the sadness echoing in her eyes. "Just remembering, sweetie." She laughed again. "Anyway, I have to go. But if you could bring Bella by this weekend? Sara's going to need her friend. I mean, she'll always have me and Jack, you and Booth. But someone her own age."
Brennan nodded softly, blue eyes matching brown. "I understand."
The conversation hung in Brennan's mind, reminding her over and over how it all began. Two weeks afterward, Angela had started the treatment required to fight it.
As an anthropologist, Brennan saw things. She witnessed things far beyond what anyone else could have imagined. Corpses huddled together in mass graves and remains hanging haphazardly in awkward positions. She'd witnessed tragedies firsthand, and had grown used to pain and sadness. It was part of her job to block the emotional portion of her from coming out, because if it did she wouldn't be able to complete her job in a proper manner.
Despite that, the one word stung her ears every time she heard it. Cancer was something she associated with hospitals and tubes. Pale, sick people fighting for their lives. It wasn't something she wanted to associate with the greatest friend she had ever known.
She'd been there, though. On the days Angela was so weak she could hardly stand, Brennan had gladly allowed Sara to stay with them, or had sat with her whenever Hodgins took Sara out for a break from it all. She made dinner for them on nights that Hodgins wasn't working late at the lab, and marveled at how well their whole clan fit together. Hodgins, Angela, Sara-they were a family by each and every definition. While her own relationship with Booth didn't exactly conform to society's standards they worked in their own way. Parker came over more often and Isobella was one of the most strong-willed little girls she had ever known. It was when all of them gathered around the table that she began to understand the true sense of the word family.
A spoon clanged against the floor, a bowl of mashed potatoes promptly falling with it.
"Parker!" Isobella exclaimed. "You were s'posta help me, not spill them on the floor."
Hodgins laughed and quickly grabbed a wet dishtowel. "Don't worry, guys. There's a reason we have a tiled floor in the dining room."
"Well, if you would have held your plate still it wouldn't have gone onto the floor, Bella." Parker joked, gently nudging his sister's arm.
"Do you need any help?" Brennan offered, feeling guilty that after all the effort, it had been her children (though not married, Parker had accepted her as the woman his father loved) who had caused such a mess.
Hodgins shook his head as he cleaned the remnants of the mess up. "It's not a problem. All taken care of."
"But now there's no more 'tatoes." Sara piped up, holding her fork in the air for extra reference.
Angela laughed and brought in her little girl for a hug. She glanced in Brennan's direction which allowed her to see the exhaustion shining in her eyes. Though tired, Angela knew how important the nights had become to all of them and was trying her best to keep up the spirit.
Booth reacted before Brennan had a chance, reacting in the way he knew how. "Here." he said, leaning across the table to spoon some from his plate.
"I hardly see how that's sanitary," Brennan said, eying him. "but that was very nice of you."
Isobella squinted in their direction as she took a sip from her milk. Using the back of her hand to wipe her face, the question occurred to her. "What's san'tary?"
A smile found its way to her lips. That was the way things always were with all of them. They'd bicker or something would happen to cause a difficult situation, but everyone always found their way out the other side. The dinners became an important way to keep the team together despite work and school schedules. There were times when Angela was too tired to sit at the table with them and on those nights Hodgins arranged some other activity; a telescope to look at stars or racing toy boats on the lake. Sara might have been young but she still knew that something was happening to her mother and while having Isobella there might have helped there were times when she would grow upset.
"I'm really not sure what it is I should say to you."
Her voice being one of the only sounds through the cemetery, Brennan glanced around and once again spotted Booth patiently waiting inside the SUV. A breeze blew and the leaves of a tree nearby rustled, but she was otherwise alone.
"I saw Sara yesterday." She continued. Due to a reason she didn't completely understand, talking about everything somehow relieved the well of tension building from within. "She's beautiful, Ange. Booth, Bella and I stopped by after we picked her up from school...Hodgins was cleaning her up." Brennan laughed, thinking of the paint that was strewn across Sara's craft table. "She's an artist. I guess I shouldn't take that as a surprise though logically children don't always follow the paths of their parents. I suppose it's just something she managed to pick up, but she has talent."
A voice in her head told Brennan she was biased. Though it had been months since she had actually heard it, she recognized the voice as that of Angela.
It wasn't supposed to be hard. She'd come, say a few words and leave. Biting her bottom lip, Brennan realized it wasn't quite that easy. Unconsciously, her right hand had moved to her left and began to rotate the silver band that was there. Her attention having been refocused, it occurred to Brennan that it was something she would do whenever she was deep in thought. More out of habit than anything.
The door to Brennan's office flew open and Angela excitedly ran through. "Let me see."
"What?" Brennan replied innocently, though she was certain of what she meant.
"Sweetie, do you really think I don't know?" Angela shot her friend an accusatory glance.
Brennan opened her mouth in protest. "But-" She realized there was no way she could have possibly known. "We haven't told anyone."
Angela shrugged. "Have you seen that thing? You didn't have to. Let's just say I'm friends with Ed the security guy, and he couldn't help but notice that the Forensic Anthropologist had an extra piece of jewelry on this morning."
Straightening the stack of files that were on her desk, Brennan realized that she probably wasn't as discreet as she had planned. "Would I be making things better if I told you that I was planning on telling you formally later, but that I had no idea you were here yet?"
Angela laughed, knowing in her heart it didn't matter whether or not she'd been told first. And though she wouldn't admit it, she'd actually already seen the ring. She was, after all, the one who pointed it out to Booth in the first place. Angela was the closest thing to a sister Brennan had and as such Booth trusted her with preferences. "Nevermind, Bren. Now, let's sit." She grabbed Brennan's hand and pulled her to the couch. "You do realize you have to tell me how it happened, don't you?"
A warm feeling surrounded her as she remembered how excited Angela had been. Of course, that was before. Before the cancer and the treatment, and Angela's inevitable resignation from her position as forensic artist at the Jeffersonian.
He'd never asked anything of her. Marriage was the one thing that she'd drawn a line against, and they butted heads about it a few times. Eventually an engagement ring was added, and Brennan wondered if her walls were crumbling. She had never wanted children, though with her "Bella" in the picture she had changed her mind. Needing independence, she wanted her own place to live. That changed a month before the baby was born. Then, just when she figured she was back on firm footing, Booth proposed.
"You understood." Brennan said aloud, remembering the way she'd ranted on in Angela's office about how she was a woman of principle and those principles were being taken away. "You told me that I was still the same person, and I guess I'd known that. But you made me see it. Even after that, you still understood that I couldn't simply give in. Society shouldn't dictate the way a family is structured, and I think you were one of the few people who understood why I felt that way."
Booth told her once that everything happened eventually, and while she didn't at the time, Brennan gradually began to agree. He respected her on wanting a long engagement and never really pushed about moving forward with plans. There were things she needed time for.
"Brennan, you have to stop pacing. Trust me, those shoes will be killing you if you don't."
Brennan turned to face her, and Angela saw the look of panic flooding her features. "I don't think I can do this, Ange."
Somehow, Angela had known it would come. They hadn't actually started to plan until nearly nine months after he proposed and even then progress was slow. Still, Brennan came to the realization of how important it was to Booth. She did have a stipulation on the fact that she didn't want it to be in a church. It was something that they argued over, eventually agreeing on a ceremony at the Montenegro-Hodgins estate. If anything, it made the ceremony cheaper and they knew the owners, thus presenting no problems in the event that anything ran late. "Sweetie, it's okay to have jitters. Trust me, I had them. Just sit and relax for a few minutes and you'll be fine."
Brennan shook her head. "No, I mean it. Thank you, really, for all of the effort that you've put into today. But I just...can't."
Angela sighed, a pained expression crossing her face. The image of Booth standing alone under a tree near the lake. Waiting, wondering if Brennan would ever come. "Do you love him?"
"Of course I do, Angela. Love shouldn't be dictated about whether or not you're married to someone. Love should be about honesty and trust, not-" Brennan struggled for the right word as tears threatened to fall from her eyes. "Which musical arrangement will be playing or...what the dress looks like."
It was then that Angela spotted it; the small spot just above Brennan's waistline. A ribbon fastened around her waist was loose, and she watched as Brennan fidgeted with it. "Do you honestly think Booth will care what your dress looks like?"
"Thanks to you and Hodgins I have been unable to speak with him since yesterday, and given the fact that he hasn't actually seen it, his thoughts regarding what I wear are incredibly hard to imagine."
Angela shook her head. "I love you, you know that? But that's beside the point. We're talking about Seeley Booth here, sweetie. The man that just so happens to be head over heels in love with you, and who also happens to be the father of the second most beautiful girl I have ever seen."
"Why second?" Brennan asked, immediately feeling offended.
"Second only to Sara, honey." Angela replied as she watched the relief flood into her friend's face. "If you let one stupid little rip drive you into irrationality, leaving you to think that what you're wearing will somehow effect today's outcome...you truly are crazy."
Brennan studied the face staring back at her and thought for a moment how lucky she was to have Angela Montenegro as a best friend. "I guess you're right."
Angela winked. "Well, I know I am. Now come on, I have some thread and a needle upstairs. I just need to come up with a distraction to get you past Booth. "
The thought propelled itself forward in her mind, weaving together with other intermittent thoughts along the way until it was at the forefront of everything else.
All Brennan had left were the memories.
There were plenty, that much she knew. Years of them. Days when she wasn't sure there was a way to her through, but with one smile and a few reassuring words from one of her closest friends, and she did.
"I've asked myself before whether or not I would change anything if I could. While I realize it's completely irrational to think such a thing, and that doing so is a waste of time, it's something to think about." Brennan spoke carefully, all the while ignoring the tear that silently trickled down her cheek. "I don't think I would. Not only is it literally impossible, but I've come to realize that everything happens for a reason." She sniffed and withdrew a folded piece of paper from her coat pocket. "I cannot say with certainty why certain things occur, but I know now that I have the life that I should. And, the truth is, I don't know what I would have done had I not met you."
Brennan carefully unfolded the paper she was holding and smiled. "Bella doesn't-she doesn't completely grasp the concept of someone dying, but she says that you're in heaven." Her eyes flickered up to the bright blue sky. "She must have gotten the idea from Booth, though...if it does exist, I can be almost certain that you're there. Anyway-" She looked again at the paper she was holding. "She drew you something."
It was in crayon and wasn't professional by any means, but the love behind it was perfectly evident. The words 'I miss you Aunt Angela. Love, Bella' were scrawled in a bring purple across the top, the image of two people Brennan guessed to be her daughter and best friend amidst flowers and trees. They'd been close she knew, just as she was with Sara.
"I need to ask you something."
The statement pierced the silence they'd been sitting in. Brennan turned to face her and balanced the coffee cup she was drinking from on her knee. "What?"
It was a beautiful Saturday morning and Angela had woken up with a sense of strength that she hadn't been for the few days prior and while she didn't want to push it, there was something she felt needed to be done. "I've already spoken with Jack about it, and you can feel free to ask Booth before you actually agree, but I'm hoping that you will agree."
Brennan squinted in the light that reflected from the lake. With assistance from Hodgins, she'd brought chairs for them to sit in while talking. Booth was up at the main house as well, and she wondered if he was currently being spoken to as well. "What is it that you need?"
Angela shrugged, mentally scolding herself for not actually writing the words she wanted to say down. "The treatment isn't working, Bren. I've tried my best to pretend and I have good days every once in a while. This being one of them, I felt that I had to take the opportunity. The truth is, what I need isn't actually for me. It's for Sara."
Brennan's throat felt as if it would close. She wasn't in denial, but actually hearing the words made it hard to deal with. "For Sara?"
"I'd like you to be her godmother." Angela said before searching Brennan's face for any hint of what might be her answer. "You're her mother's best friend, and when she's old enough, you can tell her some of those stories from before she was born. Maybe not the completely out there ones-well, at least until she's eighteen." She grinned. It dawned on her that Brennan hadn't made a move to answer. "She loves you, Brennan. I know that this is hard. But like I said, you can think about it."
At that moment Brennan's arms wrapped around her neck, pulling her closer. She was trying to be strong, and she could succeed on most days. But there were times when it was just the two of them, and those were the times when they both let everything out. Pulling back, she dabbed at her eyes. "I don't have to think about it," Brennan replied. "I'd love to."
"You'd think that with so many people and personalities it would be inevitable for some of us to not get along." Brennan laughed. "It happens from time to time, but we have somehow managed to form a healthy relationship."
Nearly a year had passed since Angela's final days but the memory still lingered close. "Booth told me once that I shouldn't remember the bad days. I never completely understood why, but I came to see what he meant. That wasn't who you were. It wasn't as if you wanted to lay there, or be sitting at home when you could be helping with a case or going on vacation with Jack and Sara. He said that I should remember what happened, but-" Brennan paused, closing her eyes as she remembered what he told her. "I shouldn't dwell on it. I shouldn't make it the focal point of everything that happened, because for every bad thing there were at least a dozen other good ones."
She opened her eyes and searched for something to hold down the drawing. She lifted the vase Hodgins' flower was in and tucked the corner underneath. Taking a deep breath, Brennan realized that she had done all that she planned to do.
"I miss you, Angela. In some ways I always will." Brennan whispered before wiping her hands against her jeans. "But for now I have to go. The girls are in a play tonight and we have to get ready."
A shaky hand brushed away a few leaves that had fallen on top of the headstone. A fresh duo of tears fell from her eyes. There was no way she could have heard or known, but saying it alleviated some of the pain. "I love you, Ange. We all do."
With a final nod, Brennan stood. She walked a few steps before turning and looking back. The tree just a few feet away rustled and the gifts in front of the stone honoring her memory were now plus one. There had been a reason that she didn't want to come, but Brennan seemed to have forgotten. Angela wasn't there any longer, at least in the sense she remembered. She was in the songs she would hear on the radio; the painting she'd given her and Booth on their wedding day. Angela was there in the brown of her daughter's eyes. The pain was still there, but it had eased.
"You ready to go?" Booth asked her when she climbed back into the truck.
Brennan turned to face him and offered a silent nod. "I'll be fine."
Without a word, Booth pulled her hand into his. He thought her eyes were brighter than they were before, but wasn't sure if it was just his imagination. Leaning over the console he pressed a kiss against her temple. A simple gesture, but one that had gotten her through her times of need. Still, he new her well enough to know she wasn't one to dwell on the past. With one last look out the windshield he turned the key in the ignition.
"She's here." Brennan spoke, more from a need to say it than anything else. Her mind dealt with things she could see; anomalies in bones and scrapes on a child's knee. There was no rational explanation for why the feeling was there, but for once Brennan found she didn't mind. "I think part of the reason why I was so against coming here was because I was afraid I would lose it. The feeling that she's close, you know? There is no scientific reason for why I would possibly feel this way, but I realize now the things that made Ange who she was are still here. Simply thinking that once she died all of that would go away was...childish, I suppose. She's still here. Does that even make sense?"
Booth's eyes darted from the road back to the woman sitting beside him. "Yeah, Bones, I get it." He watched a warm smile cross her face. "And I'm sure Angela does, too."