Special Agent Seely Booth trudged into the Jeffersonian, sliding his access card to get up to the platform. All his squints were gathered there, working on their latest case. "Bones, you guys got anything for me yet?"
"I probably will in about 20 minutes," Brennan replied. She frowned at something on the skeleton in front of her. "Zack, look at these ribs on this side. Compare them to the ribs on the left."
"Yes, Dr. Brennan," Zack said, bending closer to the place his mentor pointed to.
Cam shot Booth a sympathetic look. "Everything go all right?" she asked.
Booth grimaced. "The ceremony was fine. Some nuts decided to stage an anti-war protest and try to outshout the speakers." He shook his head. "Some people have no sense of decency."
"Hey, it's free speech, man," Hodgins quipped. "Gotta love that First Amendment."
He looked up at the sudden silence around him. Cam, Angela, Dr. Brennan and Zack were staring at him as if he'd grown another head.
Booth was seething. "There's a time and a place for stuff like that," he said through clenched teeth.
"Hey, not everyone sees the military as knights in shining armor, Booth," Hodgins shrugged. "The guys in uniform aren't perfect."
He saw the agent clench his fists and tensed, wondering if Booth had gone nuts and was going to follow through with his frequent threat to shoot him. He glanced at his friends for backup, and to his surprise he saw them looking at Booth with sympathy.
Finally, Booth's shoulders sagged. "Whatever, Hodgins,": he said. Turning to Dr. Brennan he continued, "I'm gonna wait in your office. Come get me when you have something, okay?"
"Sure, Booth," Brennan said. She went over and touched his arm. "You look tired. Lay down on the couch – I'll wake you when I finish here."
"Thanks," Booth muttered. He walked to Brennan's office, head down and shoulders slumped.
Hodgins watched until the agent was out of sight. He jumped when Angela came to him and smacked him in the arm. "Ow! What was that for?"
Angela glared at him. "Could you possibly have been any more insensitive? Today's obviously tough for Booth, couldn't you see that?"
"See what?" Hodgins protested.
"Agent Booth's stride lacks its customary confidence," Zack said. "He shoulders appear to be carrying an invisible weight. His countenance is somber, rather than the good cheer he normally exhibits. He -"
"Okay, okay, I got it," Hodgins said. "The G-man got up on the wrong side of the bed. Does that mean I can't state my opinion?"
"It wouldn't have hurt to show a little sensitivity today, Dr. Hodgins," Cam said as she put down her scalpel and stretched her back.
Hodgins threw up his hands. "What does today got to do with any of it?"
"You're serious?" Dr. Brennan asked. "Even I know what today is!"
"Someone wanna clue me in?" Hodgins asked, annoyed.
"It's November 11th, Jack," Angela said quietly.
"So…?" Hodgins struggled to remember what the date meant. He couldn't quite bring it to mind…
Zack supplied the information. "Veteran's Day, Dr. Hodgins."
When his friend's words sunk in, Hodgin's eyes widened. "Oh. Oh blast."
When Brennan went to her office a half hour later, she found her partner stretched out on the dark couch, his jacket off and tossed over the back, an arm flung across his eyes.
She put down the two cups of coffee she'd brought and bent over him. "Booth," she called softly.
With a groan he raised his arm and looked at her. His eyes were bloodshot and there were uncharacteristic shadows under them. "Bones. You found something?"
She nodded and silently offered him one of the cups. He sat up and accepted it. "Thanks."
She sat in her office chair and sipped her own drink. "You didn't sleep well last night."
He shook his head. "No…I didn't want to take anything, and…" he sighed. "I had a couple of nightmares."
Brennan considered what she should say next. Booth experiencing nightmares didn't surprise her, given what he'd experienced.
"You could have called me," she said.
"No," he said with a wave of his hand. A ghost of his charm smile appeared. "Didn't want to interrupt your beauty sleep."
She raised an eyebrow. "I sleep because my body requires rest, not because it will enhance my physical attraction. And you've been willing to forgo sleep on my account, as your partner I am quite willing to return the favor."
Booth chuckled. He took a long drink of coffee. "Thanks, Bones." He looked into her eyes. "Thanks for being a good friend."
"You're welcome," she said. She decided it was time to get back to the case. "Zack and I have determined that the brunt of the injuries our victim suffered are on the right side of the body."
"Meaning her assailant was probably left-handed."
Booth nodded, his brain starting to process the information. "That bouncer at the nightclub…he was left-handed, wasn't he?"
"And witnesses did see him talking with the victim that night," Brennan nodded.
"Okay," Booth said, standing up and snagging his jacket from the back of the couch. "Let's go have a chat with the man."
They left Brennan's office and started for the exit.
Hodgins rushed up to stand in front of Booth. He leaned forward, panting to catch his breath.
Booth's eyes narrowed. "Hodgins, we have a suspect to question. I don't have time to listen to you spout off your beliefs."
"Just give me a minute," Hodgins said, holding a hand up.
Booth folded his arms and glared at the scientist. Hodgins got his breathing back to normal, and started to speak.
"I'm not gonna apologize for what I believe, okay? I know you don't agree, but I have a right to my opinion."
"Fine," Booth growled. He started to walk around Hodgins but the shorter man blocked his way again.
"I'm not finished!" Hodgins took a deep breath. "I don't know what you did in the military. But I know you. You love justice and you want to do the right thing, and whatever you did, it was to protect people like me in this country. So I just want to say…thanks, man."
Booth stared at Hodgins for a long moment. Jack kept eye contact, hoping if Booth did belt him he wouldn't be hurt too bad.
Then Booth relaxed, as if tension were bleeding out of him. Softly he said, "You're welcome."
Hodgins nodded, and stepped to the side.
Booth turned to Dr. Brennan. "Come on, Bones! We have stuff to do!"
As Booth guided Dr. Brennan out of the Jeffersonian, Hodgins noted the agent was walking more normally, his head up, his stride confident.
Angela walked over, having witnessed the entire exchange. She wrapped an arm around Hodgin's shoulders and kissed his cheek. "Way to go, bug-man."
He shook his head. "I didn't believe you. I didn't think doing something so small would be such a big deal to the guy."
"It was, Jack, it was," Angela said with a smile. "And I'm proud of you for doing it."
Hodgins nodded, thinking about the FBI agent who fought the good fight even though he no longer wore the uniform. "Maybe if there were more guys like him in the military guys like me wouldn't freak out so much."
"Maybe," Angela said as they walked back to work. "And maybe we should just be thankful we have him on our team."
"Yup," Hodgins said, squeezing Angela's hand before heading to his station. "I'll agree to that."