"So your Cousin Petunia-"

Great Aunt Angie never once got a clue her entire life. Fortunately, she had money enough to support a certain level of stupidity.

Unfortunately, Jack was her favorite nephew and made a point in visiting him weekly come hell, high water, or Republican filibustering. Worse, it had almost gotten to the point where Jack had almost, not quite, for all intents and purposes, NOT developed feelings of affection for the old bat.

It was just that she had no tact at all.

"So, I heard the most awful rumor from Eustace the other day," she sipped into a teacup.

Jack had been hearing about this Eustace woman for almost a decade now and still had zero idea as to who she was. "Mm?"

"Yes," Great Aunt Angie began, picking up another cucumber sandwich. "She was talking about this Grendel character and claimed how our family had been protecting this monster for years. Centuries even. She even implied that we were Masons of all things! Bad enough that your maternal line had the odd Shriner in the wood pile."

Jack threw the bitch out on her ear. Barred the doors, shut down bank accounts, repossessed her Botox. Left her destitute, cold, and dying in a box.

It was a common fantasy that he replayed for every single one of his relations. Just the names changed. It wasn't that he didn't want to be president or a CEO or a diplomat or a general; it was just that he didn't want to be any of those things at all. He wanted to be nothing at all.

But he had finally reached a point where he could almost talk about the past. Eighteen months had dulled the deep emotions.

"Eustace is stupid," He replied.

"I know that you cared deeply for your little buddy," Angie's voice brought him back, "Is he well?"

Jack shrugged.

"He did you good despite everything," she smiled, her forehead crinkling just a little bit. "You were constantly complaining about him. A rather bad habit of yours, by the way, but it was the way you complained. I could tell."

And suddenly Jack had a relative who actually cared about him. And the anger from before iced over.



"My best friend," he conceded, slinking back into his leather chair.

"I'm sorry, Jack."

"For what?"

"My nephew was not the man he should have been."

"I really don't-"

"Let me finish," she waved him quiet. "Your grandfather only learned the patience of a father when he was much older in life. Your father was already an adult by that time, and there was never any closure between the two of them. This doesn't excuse your father's own actions, but… He had been under immense pressure growing up. You experienced quite a bit yourself, but it was worse for him."

Hodgins listened.

He couldn't do anything else. Not one of his relations ever discussed this with him. His grandfather was the type to not. And he had shunned, insulted, or yelled the other relatives away. His mother's side- well, they weren't Hodgins. And the Hodgins clan did not discuss such things.

"You, Jackie, took after your grandfather. And after your great- grandfather even more so. Now there was a sulky hardass."

Hodgins choked.

"I'm seventy-eight years old, Jackie. I don't care much about family politics or morays anymore. Your great-grandmother was a gold digger, and her brother was an anarcho-fascist writer who died in Dresden. But it was a different time. You're both old money and new money. And it's important for you to know the real history of the family." She let it sink in a bit, "Jackie, love, it's time to retire the tea for the day. Do be a dear and break out the Lagavulin. That's a good boy. This is going to be a long story."