A/N: While most people are writing about the B/B finale spoilers, I am electing not to (for the time being) for various reasons. Instead, I decided to write a little something about some other spoilers floating around for upcoming episodes. Actually, I don't know how 'little' you could call this... at 5,500+ words it got kind of out of control for a oneshot. I thought about splitting it into two pieces, but I really hate doing that, so I guess you'll just have to shift into 'endurance mode', or else split it in half yourselves. This is my first fic from Angela's point of view, and I really enjoyed writing it. She has a distinct voice that is very different from Booth or Brennan, which was interesting. I hope you enjoy it too. :) Let me know what you think!
Wanted, single F
Must enjoy the sun
Must enjoy the sea
Sought by single M
Send photo to address
Is it you and me?
Reply to single M,
My name is Caroline
Cell phone number here
Call if you have the time
Twenty-eight and bored
Grieving over loss
Sorry to be heavy, but heavy is the cost
Heavy is the cost...
Angela wrapped a piece of dark hair around her finger, tugging it nervously before releasing it. Just do it, you idiot. She shut her eyes and hit the enter key, and when she opened them a new screen had popped up. 'Congratulations, your profile has been completed! Click here to start viewing singles in your area!'
She groaned audibly. What was she doing? She'd never had to resort to online dating in the past to get a guy—these kinds of sites were supposed to be for unattractive people who lived in their mom's basements and had an aversion to deodorant. She was neither unattractive, living at home, or stank, so why was she suddenly called watercolored, with one of her African Violet paintings as her profile image? Wasn't that what sad, lonely, unattractive people did? Was she really that lonely?
She shook her head—it was Sweets's fault. Him and his stupid call for celibacy. What was she, a nun? A nutty old hag with fifty cats? And yet, though there was no legally binding contract that forced her to listen to him and apply his suggestions, she did. She hadn't had sex in forty-seven days. She had been single for almost as long, forty-three days, but those last four days of the relationship were mostly sulking, averted looks, and semi-committed gestures. Definitely no sex. They both knew it was coming, really. They were just waiting for the other to take the burden of breaking it off on their own shoulders.
She listened to Sweets, she supposed, because deep down she knew he was a smart guy. Sure, he had a baby face and used truly distinguished phrases like totally wicked and super lame, but most of the time his observations were dead on. That's why, she decided, if he thought she could improve herself and her future relationships by taking a temporary vow of celibacy, she would do it. Or, not do it, really, depending on the context of doing it.
She smirked, spinning slowly in her chair with her chin resting on her chest. Maybe if she was smart she would take a leaf out of her best friend's book, and throw herself into her work when things got tough. That's how Bren had always been, from the moment they met. When her relationship with her professor took a bad turn in college, Brennan had barricaded herself in their dorm and read seventy-six different anthropological papers in the span of a week. When Angela's first real relationship in college turned sour… well, she didn't remember much of the following week, but that was really the entire point. She would either over-think the situation, or do everything in her power to not think about it. And it didn't take too many Long Island Iced Teas before she was happily not thinking.
Now that she had graduated from college and that kind of binge drinking was known as alcoholism, she turned to her art in times of crisis. In the forty-seven days she had been celibate, she had finished eight huge canvas paintings, a phenomenal number from a woman who generally spent weeks at a time on one piece. But painting was lonely—it was like having a one-sided conversation with yourself. After a while, you just get tired of hearing your own voice. The past few days she hadn't even felt inspired to paint, or draw, or do anything creative. She just felt lonely.
Oh God, I am one of those people, Angela thought, slightly mortified. Was she really turning into one of those girls who holed herself up in her apartment, lonely, trying desperately to meet men online because they were repulsed by her lack of spirit in person? Was she losing the spark? She had taken the loss of Roxy in stride, with the understanding that things come and things go. But when she had slept with Hodgins and realized that the moment had not been their moment, but her moment… when did she stop connecting? When did her affectionate, playful lovemaking with Hodgins become one-sided? They used to melt, really melt, and reciprocate, but now he was just as lonely as she and when they had sex, it was as if they were two different people in two different beds. Had she really hurt him that badly, or was it herself she had hurt?
Confused and realizing she was thinking entirely too much, Angela pushed the rolling chair away from the desk and rose to her feet, shaking her head. She'd find something to do in this lab—she'd find a face to reconstruct, even if she had to kill someone to do it.
Late that afternoon Angela returned to her desk, feeling better after having sketched two victim's faces and helping determine the weapon used to kill them. Nothing like solving a murder to get your mind off your romantic troubles. She shook the mouse, waking the computer up from its sleep. When the screen brightened it was still on the dating site, and there was a small pop-up in the bottom corner. One new message.
Feeling her stomach flop, she clicked the pop-up and was redirected to her site inbox. The title of the message was innocuous—"Hey"—and she hesitated before clicking it. The message itself was fairly unrevealing, and she read it thrice before responding.
Interesting screen name, I can't decide how to take it. Are you a painter, or a fan of The Color of Water? I'm guessing you did the violet if the former was right; it's beautiful. Your profile was really entertaining, had me laughing a little too loud at work. Hope you're having a good day.
Take care, kotl
She pulled his profile up in another tab, reading through it lazily for a few minutes before she hit the reply button and began typing, fingers scuttling across the keys.
What kind of name is kotl? Your first guess was right, though I love that book too. I did the violet, thanks for the compliment. I've been doing a lot of them lately, might put more pictures up if you're interested. I hope your boss didn't get mad at you—what can I say, I'm a funny gal. :) What kind of work do you do?
Satisfied, she sent the message, smiling inwardly despite herself. She knew she shouldn't get too excited—this guy was probably a fat forty-five year old obsessed with Star Trek and cheese doodles. But even if he was, he sounded intelligent and had an appreciation for her humor, which was something. If nothing else, maybe she'd have someone to chat with during her long, uneventful celibate nights. She shook her head—maybe she should take up knitting. She had heard that doing something involving manual dexterity helped with the horniness, though she might've just seen it on a TV show somewhere and thought it was true.
She gathered her belongings and decided that it had been a long enough day at the lab. Twisting her scarf around her neck, she paused slightly as she saw Hodgins at a distance, peering through a microscope at a tray of something undoubtedly disgusting. As if he could feel her gaze, like the sun's heat on the back of his neck, he looked up and scanned the room briefly before his eyes landed on her. He smiled and waved hesitantly.
"You going?" he asked, and she nodded, clearing her throat.
"Yeah," she said. "Long day, you know." He swallowed and half-nodded, looking down at the microscope briefly before looking back up at her.
"Right," he said. "Well I, uh, I'll see you tomorrow then?"
"Yeah," she said, sounding weaker than she had intended to. She repeated herself, in a stronger voice. "Yeah. I'll see you tomorrow." He waved her off and she left, the chill of the outside stinging her face as she trekked through the parking garage. Maybe she would stop at Jo-Ann's on her way home and pick up some yarn.
The next afternoon she sat on the couch in Brennan's office, huffing loudly in frustration as she tried to untangle the mess of yarn in her hands.
"No, like this," Brennan explained, showing Angela with her own set of knitting needles how to loop the yarn around and complete the stitch. She tried to mimic her friend's motions, but the needle slipped out of her hand and botched the action. She threw everything down into her lap and let out a loud, displeased sound.
"What kind of moron can't knit?" Angela asked exasperatedly. Brennan repressed a smile, setting her own neatly-stitched portion of a scarf into her lap.
"You'll get it," she reassured. "It just takes practice. My mom taught me when I was twelve or thirteen, but it wasn't until a few years ago when I was doing work at Ain Mellaha that I got really good at it. Out there after the sun set there wasn't really anything else to do, so I got a lot of practice."
"What about all those sexy Israeli locals wandering around? Couldn't you have seduced one of them back to your tent or something?" Angela asked, causing laughter to bubble up out of her friend's throat.
"What! I'm just saying, seriously…"
"If you're trying to maintain your celibacy, it would probably be better if you didn't talk about sex constantly." Angela sighed, leaning back into the couch and wrapping her arms around her knees.
"Sweetie, remember when I quit smoking in college?" Brennan smirked.
"I remember you waking me up in the middle of the night telling me you had a dream about a pack of Pall Malls trying to buy you a drink." Angela covered her face and laughed.
"See! That's what I mean. When I try to kick a habit, it like, takes over my brain. It's the same thing, only now I'm just having dreams about normal guys trying to seduce me instead of cigarettes."
"I suppose that's an improvement from a psychological standpoint," Brennan said, picking her knitting up again, needles clicking between words.
"Screw psychology," Angela snapped. "That's how I got here in the first place." Brennan smiled wryly, choosing to look down at her knitting rather than respond. "I'm going to go try to get some work done, thanks for trying to teach me this crap." Brennan nodded and gave her friend a hug before she left.
"Do you want to go get a drink later?" Brennan asked. It was out of character for her to offer to take her friend drinking, since usually Angela had to beg her to go out after work, but she felt that Angela could use the platonic company.
"Since your name's not Pall Mall and I feel confident that you won't try to have your way with me, yes," Angela replied, and they both laughed. "I'll see you later, sweetie. Thanks again."
Angela returned to her office and brought the computer back to life, trying to withhold her anticipatory excitement. Her smile finally cracked when she signed into the site and saw that she had a new message waiting for her. She clicked it open, speeding through it at first, then re-reading it with a slow relish.
I'd love to see more of your artwork. I've never been any good at it, but I can appreciate quality when I see it. Don't worry, you didn't get me in trouble—my boss is kind of used to crazy, so it's nothing out of the ordinary. I work for the government (dun dun dun) but I try to stay as far away from paperwork as possible. How about you? Or are you doing the whole 'starving artist' thing? ;) Talk to you soon, kotl.
Angela typed a thoughtful reply and sent it, leaning back in her chair afterwards and lacing her fingers over her stomach. She went back and re-read his profile, trying to read between the lines and discern the truth. He didn't sound like a serial killer, though you could never be sure. She generally got a good sense of people from talking to them, though, and she didn't feel like anyone would be identifying her remains if they ended up meeting for lunch.
"Sweets." Angela stood in the doorway of the shrink's office early the next week, holding a file in her hand. Sweets looked up from his desk, startled by her sudden appearance.
"Angela, what brings you here?" he asked. She shut the door behind her, taking a seat in the chair across from his and sliding the folder towards him.
"Tell me if this guy's a psycho." He opened the folder and found a print-out of conversations, each dated and time-stamped, and with a familiar header across the top. He looked up, smiling.
"You're internet dating?" he asked, brows raised. She scowled.
"No judging, it's your fault," she said. "Now, can you like, read what he says and tell me if you think he's nuts? I don't think he's crazy but with people online you never really know…"
"You want me to do a psychological profile on your online sweetheart based on your conversations?" Sweets asked. Angela nodded. He suppressed a grin, and pushed the file back towards her.
"Angela," he started, "I'm not going to do a profile on this guy you're talking to. You have to trust your own instincts and know what's right for you. By all means, meet him in a public place and be safe about it, but as far as the kind of person he is… you have to feel that out on your own. You know people; have faith in your own judgment." Angela pressed her lips together and looked up at the shrink sitting across from her, fingers steepled. She crossed her arms and stared him down for a minute, before finally standing with a huff and snatching up the folder.
"Fine, but if I get chopped up into a million pieces, it's your fault," she said, storming out of the office. Sweets flinched as the door slammed behind her, rattling two of the pictures on the wall.
Late that Friday night Angela sat stretched out on her couch, throw blanket sliding off of her lap. She held the two knitting needles in either hand, carefully twisting the yarn and looping it through. It was not one of Bren's neat, tight stitches, but it was a stitch, and Angela smiled in a self-satisfied way. Who needed sex, when you could sit up at one o'clock in the morning knitting? Because that's not pathetic at all. She frowned and painstakingly finished the row, setting the three inches of scarf aside for the time being and picking her laptop up off the coffee table.
She checked her e-mail first, slowly going through each item in the inbox and deciding whether it could be saved or discarded, as if she had nothing better to do with her time. She then logged onto her Facebook and snooped around in her update feed, to see if there was any new gossip. A lot of information could be garnered, she had found out, through reading people's status updates. There was nothing interesting there, so she pulled up the New York Times website. Her actions were as if someone were watching over her shoulder, and she was trying to behave as nonchalantly as possible about the whole thing. Like she had to rationalize to them, "Look, I don't run to the site to see if he messaged me back as soon as I get online, I check my e-mail and Facebook and read the news first… I'm not pathetic, I promise."
She skipped reading the news and logged onto the dating site, pleased to see that she had three new messages. She deleted the first two, inquiries from strange men she had never spoken to before, and went on to read the third one, from kotl. She didn't know why she was ruling out all of her other options—after all, wasn't that what internet dating was about? Options? Even if so, she felt peculiarly committed, as if now that she was seriously talking to one guy, she had to exclude the others from conversation. Angela wondered if he was doing the same, or if he had ten different girls lined up in case the first one didn't work out. She couldn't say she'd blame him if he did—that was probably the smart way to do it. She, on the other hand, was putting all of her eggs in one basket, and that almost never worked out. It hadn't worked out for her before, anyway. Obviously she didn't learn from her experiences.
She read the essay-length message from him, unaware that she was smiling the entire time. Their exchanges had gone from brief, hesitant paragraphs to lengthy letters over the past two weeks, exploring everything from their favorite TV shows to their political values, moral codes, and supernatural beliefs. They both liked Brit-coms, wine tasting, and spending time doing anything outside. Like any guy in the world, he had a thing for cars, and she told him from the get-go that she didn't know shit from shinola about cars. He had laughed—or LOL'd, really—and admitted that nobody he'd ever dated before had, so he wasn't too heartbroken about it.
They discovered that they had both gotten out of serious relationships within the past year, and both had tried dating in the time since with little success. She admitted that she was afraid—something she never was—that she just wasn't the type of person other people could spend their entire lives with. He told her that probably wasn't true at all, but he could understand the feeling very well.
As freely as they could express their core ideals and tender thoughts, though, they had both neglected to provide even the most basic of information. She was still watercolored, and he was still kotl. She told him she worked with computers, which was mostly true, and he neglected to expand on his work with the government, only to say that he avoided as much of the bureaucracy as possible but failed miserably at doing so. They both lived in the D.C. area, that much they knew, but that was about the extent of it. No phone numbers, no pictures, no names. Angela found that she was surprisingly comforted by the anonymity, as was he. It could only last for so long, though, as was evidenced by the PS on his most recent message.
PS: I was wondering, do you want to meet up sometime next week? If you don't I completely understand, but I'd really like to see you and talk to you in person. Time and place are your choice, I'll be there.
Angela read the lines over again, stomach twisting. She knew it would come to this eventually, and part of her really did want to meet him. She felt like she'd forged a true connection with him, on a level that went far deeper than the chance sexual encounters she'd had with men in the past. She swore under her breath, realizing that Sweets had a valid point after all, and typed her reply.
Sure, I'd love to. How about lunch at The White Elephant on Monday, one o'clock? I'll be wearing a red sweater and I'll wait by the front door.
Without giving herself time to chicken out, she sent the message and exhaled loudly. She hadn't felt these kind of nerves when dating… well, ever. As much as she wanted to meet this guy, part of her was afraid to leave the cloak of anonymity, the shield that protected her from the ravages of love. If she met him, she might love him, and she didn't have such a great track record with men she'd fallen in love with.
In fact, looking back on her life, Angela could only think of one person she had really, really fallen in love with. Everything else paled in comparison to that feeling—it couldn't be considered love, not compared to that. And she had ruined that; she had genuinely ruined it. By treating it as only a fleeting moment, as she had everything else in her life, she had inadvertently driven a wedge between them. By not treasuring what she had for the incredible blessing that it was, she had watched it walk away.
She was by nature an aloof person, and she thought she liked it that way—no strings attached. She'd lived her entire life without strings, and for a long time saw them only as a hindrance. Unfortunately, it had taken Hodgins to teach her the hard way that sometimes strings don't hold you down, but hold you together. Terrified to be bound, she cut the strings, and watched the one thing she really loved float on without her.
She snapped the laptop shut, rubbing her face vigorously with her hands and shaking her head. Too much thinking again. She pulled the chain on the lamp and cast the room into darkness, feeling her way into her bedroom and shutting the door behind her. Sleep, was what she needed. Everything would look better after a good night's sleep.
The weekend blew by and on Monday morning Angela found herself tossing red sweater after red sweater over her shoulder in her closet, dissatisfied with all of them.
"Why the hell did I have to pick a red sweater," she mumbled to herself as she held them up in comparison, trying to decide which was better. She wanted to look tasteful, but not prudish. Classy, too, not school-girlish. Normally school-girl would work for her, but she was still on her vow of celibacy, so no school-girl for either of them. She finally settled on one with a graceful scooped neckline, deciding that he wouldn't judge the sweater anyway. He would judge her—she was the one up on the block.
Each morning hour crept by with the agonizing slowness of Christ's second coming. They weren't working a case that day, so there was literally nothing for Angela to do. Bren was content to sort through bones in Limbo, but not to place flesh markers on any of them. She was just sorting, and talking to the bones under her breath like she did when she didn't realize anyone could hear her, and it was driving Angela up the wall.
"What am I, a babysitter?" Cam asked when Angela came to her, asserting that she was bored and needed something to do. "Entertain yourself." Sour, Angela wandered off to find Wendell or Daisy or whatever intern might be kissing ass in the lab today. Unfortunately it was Mr. Nigel-Murray, and it only took a few seconds of contemplation for Angela to accept that she wasn't that desperate.
"Ange, I'm really busy," Brennan said as Angela walked up behind her friend, resting her chin on her shoulder and looking down at the skull she held in her hands.
"Sweetie, you gotta help me out here," Angela pleaded. "I'm kind of freaking out about this lunch and I don't know why, I just need somebody to talk to."
"What about my intern? I'm sure he's not busy." Angela scoffed.
"Who, Beetlejuice? You really think he's going to make me feel better about this?" Brennan smiled and set down the skull, turning around and leaning against the backlit table on the heels of her hands.
"You really think I am?" Brennan asked.
"You're my best friend," Angela pointed out. "You've got to say something, anything." Brennan chewed on the inside of her cheek for a moment in consideration, then nodded.
"Okay," she said. "Well, why are you 'freaking out'?"
"I don't know," Angela said. "It's just that we've been talking for like two weeks now and I think I like him, like we have these great conversations and we just click on so many levels, and I do want to meet him, I do. It's just…"
"It's just what?" Brennan prompted when Angela trailed off.
"It's just… I just don't want to screw it up," Angela said lamely. "I screwed it up with Hodgins, and Roxy… what if he realizes I ruin relationships in the long haul and bails before I have the chance to ruin things between us too?"
"Ange, you don't ruin relationships in the long-haul," Brennan offered. "What happened between you and Hodgins wasn't your fault, it just happened. Blaming yourself wholly for a falling out between two mutual parties would be irrational."
"I guess it does take two to tango," Angela admitted.
"You know, Booth says that all the time, and I really don't understand it at all," Brennan said with furrowed brows, and Angela laughed despite herself.
"Thanks, sweetie," she said, pulling her friend into a hug. "That really helped."
"What did I do?" Brennan asked, puzzled. Angela waved her off.
"Don't worry about it," she said. "Just… it helped, that's all." Brennan shook her head and smiled, content to not have a clue what her friend was talking about.
"Well, I'm glad, then," she said, returning to her skull. "Call me later and let me know how it goes." Angela nodded and left Bren alone in Limbo, realizing that it had very suddenly passed noon, and she needed to hop to it if she was going to be there on time.
Angela's stomach churned as she navigated through the lunchtime traffic, though not as badly as before. Brennan had been right—it takes two people to bomb a relationship, usually. You had to be a real psycho to ruin a relationship completely on your own, and she knew she wasn't that messed up. They had both made mistakes, and as long as she didn't make the same mistakes, things would be okay. This would be okay.
She parked in a garage around the corner from the downtown restaurant, and chose to leave her heavy jacket in the car. That way he could see the red sweater, and know it was her. He hadn't said what he'd be wearing, so it was up to Angela to stand out so he could find her. It was a warmer day than they'd been having lately, the sun hung in the empty blue sky overhead, and she felt it soak into the red material as she walked out of the garage. She squinted in the brightness and rubbed her arms with her hands, encouraging the warmth.
The farther down the block she walked, the more aware she became of each individual person around her. What they looked like, how they were dressed, if they were looking around with the same nervous curiosity. She thought maybe he would have flowers, so she looked for a man with a bouquet. Violets, probably, because he knew how much she adored them. He was so interested in the things that interested her, so concerned with her concerns, so understanding of her reservations.
She felt lighter as she rounded the corner, the diner doors coming into sight. He really was a good guy, she could tell that much. He would be standing there with flowers, the kind she liked, because he knew she liked them and it would make her happy. Sweets had been right all along—she just had to trust her own judgment, her own knowledge of people. She just had to trust herself, and she had, and now…
She stopped suddenly, perhaps twenty yards from the diner's entrance. She saw a man standing in front of the door, bouncing on the heels of his feet excitedly, a bouquet of purple flowers hanging in hand by his side. He stroked his beard, something he had always done to soothe himself when he was anxious.
K o t L.
King of the Lab. How could she have missed that?
He looked more put-together than usual, in pressed slacks and a collared shirt—without his lab gear on, he almost looked like a different person. He scanned the sidewalk across the street, and even at a distance she could see the anticipation in his gaze. She could tell he wanted to spot her, to smile and wave, to offer her the flowers and see the grin bubble up on her lips.
Only he didn't want to spot her. Even if he did, he couldn't. Because even though he looked like a different person outside of his lab clothes, he wasn't, and neither was she. She balked, turning on her heel and half-jogging in the direction from which she came. She brushed past strangers, strangers who could have just as easily been him if she hadn't known already, barely excusing herself.
Once she rounded the corner of the block she leaned against the side of the building, arms crossed over her chest, taking in shaky breaths to steady herself. Of course they clicked, like that. Of course they liked Brit-coms and fine wine and being outdoors. Of course he was understanding of her hesitation, of her heaviness, of her hurt—she had hurt him in equal measure. He understood her hurt because he was hurt, because she hurt him.
She took off walking, back towards the garage, eyes blurred. Brennan was wrong—it doesn't take two to tango. You can dance all by yourself, while everyone else watches and wonders what the hell you're doing all alone. While your partner falters on the sidelines, wanting desperately to match your step if only you would let him. You can go on long after the music stops, long after the world has moved on, and only then stop and realize that it's dark, and quiet, and you weren't ever even dancing to begin with.
She would not hurt him again, not like that.
That night she logged on, and found exactly what she had expected: one new message. Without bothering to open it—she already knew what it would say, and didn't think she could handle his hurt confusion anyway—she hit 'select all' and then hovered over the 'delete' button. There must have been fifty or sixty messages, each re-read at some point after their initial reception over the past two weeks, each relished and smiled over. Each of them threads, winding together, creating a person, or people. Creating something.
She screwed her eyes shut and clicked. When she opened them, the page was blank.
I thought once that I saw you
I thought that you saw me
I guess we'll never meet now
It wasn't meant to be
(It wasn't meant to be)
I was sure you saw me,
but it wasn't meant to be...
Wanted, single F
Must enjoy the sun
Must enjoy the sea
Sought by single M
Nothing too heavy
Send photo to address
Is it you, or me?
- Personal, Stars