Party of None

Disclaimer: Bones is not mine.

Hodgins wasn't happy. Granted, it was a general state of being for him. It's not that he was currently bitter or angry or depressed or the myriad of negative emotions drowning out everything else for the past six months. But untempered happiness? A truly foreign concept.

"Why am I here?" Brennan interrupted his reverie, his constant stirring of red fruit punch spiked with something fire retardant. "I've never even been to these office parties. There's really no point to them."

"Angela wanted to celebrate Chinese New Year." Hodgins replied, noting the hanging pinatas, mistletoe, and strings of Diwali cards. "I think she mentioned something about St. Patrick's Day and multi-culturalism."

"I don't recall Chinese New Year being celebrated with tequila shots and some drink Booth called 'Irish Car Bombs.'"

Hodgins shrugged, his shoulders releasing after months of pent up tenseness. "I think she just wanted to throw a party." He never liked being a pessimist.

Brennan was about to reply when Angela came over and whisked her away without acknowledging Hodgins. His left ventricle spasmed.

Angela was the heart of the party. She'd set it up with Cam just hours before to invite the nearby museums' staffs to the main conference room. The tables and chairs had been pushed to one side, partitions evaporated into the walls. The central audio system tapped (hacked) to play Jansen (Musicologist)'s World Music section from his I-pod. Some Peruvian flute music followed by Italian weaving songs followed by Norse electrothumps. The room was loud and obnoxious and made Hodgins agoraphobic.

The departments had formed along their cliques with very little co-mingling. The S/C anthros from the American Indian lab (mostly Germans and German Americans and a small, militant bloc of Native Americans) huddled around the largest table with a zero tolerance policy of others. Hodgins himself holed up against a corner, a potted Ficus barring his presence from the others.

He had to come. It wasn't because of Sweets's dreams and aspirations to get him to become a well-adjusted person, nor was it Cam's misplaced guilty pleading. Angela's flirtatious begging his attendance almost made him not. He was here for. He didn't know.

"I'm glad that you made it." Truthful, simple emotion.

Oh, Wendell, always with the right thing to say. Or not say. "I am the party animal."

"I can't really see that in you." Wendell replied.

"A party animal is... someone like Angela. Very extroverted, able to get along with others. Does a lot of socializing."

Wendell's brow furrowed. "I know what a party animal is."

"Yes..." Hodgins stopped. "You would. There's no reason for you not to know." He decided to get very drunk right then. "It's an old habit."

"I don't mind it." Wendall tried to smile. "Personally, I'm not big on parties. I just thought you could use some company."

God help him, Hodgins liked Wendell. He was easy to get along with, able to joke with, even Booth thought of him as 'mostly normal.' He finally grunted, allowing the man to join his anti-party.

"I see you two have formed your own posse." Sweets had been at the punch.

"Posse?" Hodgins nose curled.

"Dr. Hodgins was explaining what a party animal was to me," Wendell said.

"Does he do that often?" Sweets asked, turning to the other man, his anime eyes wide and wobbly. Drunken psychiatry was never a good idea.

Hodgins felt like putting his head through a wall.

"First time. It was a joke. That I had set up. Sort of." Wendell tried to smile, looking guilty.

Jack didn't know if Wendell knew about Zach. Chances were good, though. Lots of gossip. Lots of people with doctorates on linguistics and speech patterns and language-y stuff. Despite a zero tolerance policy on the subject, he knew what got told and retold around the purified water cooler. Wendell knew. They all knew.

The Asian gallery group were in the middle, dressed up in native clothes for the Chinese New Year (except for the anti-Chinese contingent), slightly perturbed at the schizophrenic decorations. They couldn't complain though. It was Angela's party.

Sweets mingled with Hodgins and Wendell. There was something….. off. For months, Hodgins had kept a small tab on the psychiatrist. Things would coalesce in therapy or in the lab, and then it wasn't, leaving Hodgins wondering when the other man would crack or break or go nuts or just completely shut down. To everyone else, he was still the goofy guy who got teased and ignored a lot. Brennan and Booth often laughed about how they get out of their sessions. Each setting up a phony page for the other, sometimes they'd just walk out, never finishing a full session. To Hodgins, it was another sign. Sweets was off. He'd the yips.

"Isn't that Daisy?" Wendell pointed, all but gently pushing the man to pursue her. Sweets took one look, then bolted toward her, then away from her. A new yip.

Hodgins shook his head, stirred his drink with a pink umbrella. The meteorologists, astrophysicists, and aeronautical scientists with their decades-long rivalry had all split into their respective factions. Many friendships had been broken by social pressure and lack of funding. Companionship was one thing, but grant money was grant money.

Holing up in the corner had been a bad idea. He was trapped without an escape route. Wendell provided a brief amount of silence, but it was small and not easy to maintain. Booth ambled over, breaking their peace. He was stone cold sober and it hurt.

"I'm still working on getting Parker in. Rebecca said she didn't want to snob up her own son. She... might come talk to you about it." A confession, full of Catholic guilt and desire to atone.

"What did you tell her?"

"That you knew someone who knew someone on the scholarship committee. That's all I said."

Hodgins looked furtively at Wendell, trying to remember what Booth was talking about.

"She might also have called you a Jewish Wookie. Not in a bad way. She just doesn't have the most tact in the world."

Hodgins suddenly realized that Booth liked that in women. Almost all of his past dates and girlfriends had almost no social grace whatsoever. Who would have guessed? A Masochistic Catholic."Whatever. It'll work out in the end." He answered, hoping he could figure out what they were talking about. Probably something during that three day bender.

The party would never end. Angela would see to that. It would go on and on and on. Sucking everyone in, never allowing them to leave the carnival, the florescent lights, the super happy alcoholism. He had to escape, to leave, to figure out what Booth was talking about. The metallurgical group were all rheumy and myopic. Someone in that group was invited by Cam and Angela and it leaked out from there. They didn't know where to stand or who to talk to. When one looks at shiny rocks all day, it does funny things. Then Hodgins realized that he worked and sometimes played with dead, smelly bodies regularly, and decided that rocks were fairly benign. Plus he got first dibs on all fossilized Culicidae. MacVicar, the entomology head hated him with a passion, but Hodgins had always smiled and nodded and turned into a total dick around him. Even before that edict about his new research project (that will never actually be published) taking precedence had come down from on high.

Wendell lingered close. He didn't look uncomfortable, but he definitely wasn't having a good time. Hodgins chose to ignore him as he pulled out his mini laptop and logged online. He had to figure out what happened between him and Booth and Parker but had no idea where to start. He shrugged, broke one of the many rules, and logged onto the Cantilever Group's webpage with the Jeffersonian's public wifi. Login was overly complicated, full of passwords, thumbprints, and redundant websites, but he finally got onto his own account. He was about to click something called "Acorn," when the computer got ripped out of his hands. "Hodgins," the whisper in his ear too late.

"Oh, no no no!" Angela. Smiling and laughing and incredibly drunk, dragging him out of his hole.

Hodgins realized that Wendell had tried to warn him of her approach, but too softly, too passively. He was thrown out into the throng, out into the dull lights, her in his arms, dancing, breathing heavy.

"Harlot! Tramp! Heart Killer! I hate you! Lesbian and in not the good way!" His mind yelled, his mouth broken, as they swept around the room. He wasn't designed for this, for dancing, for blatant happiness. He liked his loves to be private, slightly tarty in the privacy of his apartment along the Anacostia River with a great view of the Washington Memorial.

He looked over at Wendell cradling the laptop, hiding in their alcove, disappearing himself behind the plant. Then he realized that Roxy wasn't at the party, that Angela was alone, but with him, that she had all the Angelic signs of crying and depression from multiple hours ago. He was her rebound from her rebound from him. He hated her for that. Her butterfly ability to love and leave and return, and that he was powerless to do anything when they left together and headed to the Egyptian storage area.