I did not plan to write an epilogue. It was a tiny little piece of nearly nothing that recently came up to me in the shower, and I kinda liked it. It might ruin everything like Godfather 3 or Spiderman 3 or the new Star Wars series, but hell, I wrote it and I'll bear the consequences. Please tell me if it sucks. I'll probably ignore you, to be honest, but you can still tell me. (You don't need to read 'Moving On' to understand the epilogue, but you might feel less inclined to bash this if you do read it first.)
I didn't even notice she had scars until I was standing right next to her table.
"So ma'am, are you ready to... woooow." I was totally surprised when she turned her face towards me. One side was normal, but the other side had horrible, terrifying burns on it.
"Yes, I would like to order" she answered calmly. I felt like an insensitive moron for reacting like I did, but the lady seemed to be accustomed to it, almost resigned. And I mean, those scars were huge, it's not my fault if I was caught off guard.
"Right. Yeah. Of course," I mumbled, staring at the table, then the floor, then at anything in my vicinity except for her head.
"I'd like... a piece of apple pie please. With a small coffee."
"Sure. That's great. I'll go get... I'll go." I walked away as fast as I dared.
After I awkwardly brought back her plate, the lady with the scars just sat there for the next five minutes without doing anything. She didn't even eat her pie, she just kind of looked at it wistfully, as though it was making her sad. Maybe my rude attitude made her depressed? I'd been pretty darn offending. Oh man, I felt so ashamed of myself.
Jesus, was she crying now? Did I make a customer cry?
I went and asked Charlene, who knows absolutely everything about everything in this dinner. She was old, has been working in this place since the turn of the century, and was relatively nice to young newcomers as long as they were decent looking males. It was her break, and she was reading one of those girl magazines females always read that are full of make-up tips and trendy hairdos.
"Hmm? Go back to work, Phil."
"I think I made a client cry," I told her nervously.
"Oh please. You're not that cute, darling." She rolled her eyes.
"Seriously. There's this woman who's got these... these creepy scars on her face, and she's been sitting there looking at pies without saying anything."
Charlene finally looked up from her magazine and stared at me like I'd turned fluorescent yellow.
"You're kidding me, right?" she whispered. It was the first time I'd ever heard her sounding so serious. "The pie lady came back?"
"The... the pie lady. Tell me, what did she look like?"
"Well, she had creepy scars on her face, first of all. And, erm, Brunette, deep voice, early-forties, cries when she sees pieces of pie... Is it normal for her to cry while looking at pastries?"
Charlene slammed the magazine onto the table, making me jump, and dashed out of the room. I confusedly followed. Charlene glanced at the booth carefully, as though she was afraid the woman would disappear into thin air if she turned her head and noticed us.
"Oh my God, Phil, it's really her." She turned to me feverishly. "We were all sure she would never come back. And she comes back now, after years, and years, and years. I wish I still had Sandra's number, she would totally freak out if she knew."
"Who is she?" I wondered. Charlene was ridiculously excited, as though she'd just seen Elvis.
"She's Temperance Brennan. A writer. She wrote books about murders and an FBI guy who was totally hot but then she killed him in the last book. I cried like a baby."
"You see, a long long time ago she used to eat here all the time with this absolutely gorgeous FBI agent until one day they suddenly both stopped coming. I swear to God, they were the most adorable couple you ever saw. Then one day she was back, sitting there all by herself in the same booth she's sitting in now with her face all disfigured and stuff, so of course we were curious about what happened to both of them. And then Sandra found out that the man had died in an explosion. That's why she stares at pie all the time, because it reminds her of her man. And that's why she never eats it herself."
She went on, and I felt as if she was entrusting me with a valued piece of Royal Dinner history that had long ago become legendary. "Sandra was a waitress here, and she became crazy obsessed with Dr. Brennan. Like really, really obsessed. She's the one who recognized her first. And when she talked to the pie lady, they both ended crying in front of everyone. I wasn't there, but Millie told me the lady shouted about... about how she thought she deserved to die instead of her FBI partner. And after that, Sandra quit. She started crying every single time she saw a single piece of pie. It was so sad... But I mean, she finally got married to her guy before he could get blown up too, so something good came out of it. God, if only I could find her phone number, she would have wanted to know."
I have absolutely never seen Charlene looking so serious.
"Why do you think she came back?" she whispered to me, still watching the lonely woman in her booth.
"How should I know?"
"I mean, it's been at least five years, maybe close to a decade, even. Why did she come back now? We were certain she wouldn't show herself again after she had a big breakdown like that. But there she is again. I don't understand why..."
"Why don't you go ask her?"
"Ask her? I don't know, it seems a little rude..." She was scared of talking to the 'pie lady', and I could see why. The woman was already crying and neither of us wanted to make things worse.
"Excuse me?" The pie lady said in my direction. "Could I have more coffee, please?"
"Of course," I replied, grabbing the coffee pot. I had to admit, I was a little scared of her myself.
She watched my hand refill her cup. "Thank you." She took a sip. "Did the employee in the corner inform you of every last detail about me?" she asked tiredly.
"Erm," I mumbled. I glanced at Charlene, who poked her head out from behind the wall. "She told me who you are. How you wrote a book and stuff." I might as well get the truth out of her while I'm here. "And she really wants to know why you're back, but she doesn't have the balls to ask you herself."
"So she still remembers me."
"Yeah. She's worked here for a long while."
We both turned to Charlene, who quickly backed out of sight.
The woman sighed. "If she wants to know, you may tell her that my father died recently. I thought... I might need Booth's help to get through it. Booth, my old partner, I mean. Obviously you don't know who he is."
She looked at the pie once again with a beautiful, heartbreaking smile that made my eyes start to itch. Allergies?
"Of course it's completely ridiculous," she went on. "He died a long time ago. But when I drove past the dinner today, I... I wanted to come in. I could feel... him." She caressed the edge of the plate. "It's a stupid reason, admittedly. However, I'm afraid this is all you have to tell your friend."
"Thank you ma'am. For, for telling me and stuff."
"Can you help me with something?" Her eyes bore straight through me, and I realized that she hadn't even met my eyes before this moment. "There was a waitress working here about eight years ago. She came to talk to me and I signed her book, if I recall. I'm afraid she never told me her name..."
"Sandra," I blubbered out.
"You know her?"
"No, I never met her. I... have heard of her?" She looked disappointed, and I felt bad for letting her down even though it technically wasn't my fault at all.
"Well, if you ever come in contact with this Sandra," she started scribbling something on a Post-It note, "could you please give her this? And thank her for listening to my incoherent sobbing with so much compassion."
"I will, Mrs. Brennan. And, and if it helps, they say she got married with her man after she met you."
"Did she? That's nice." She smirked a little to herself. "It's good to seize the day."
"I think she learned that from you." I commented, hoping I wasn't being too lame. But she was frowning to herself and probably wasn't listening to me.
"I wonder why I constantly treat the waiters as confidantes. I could go talk to Angela, but no, I always end up here..." she stared up at me like she'd suddenly remembered my existence. "Well, I should probably go now," she stood. She was a lot taller than I expected. "Thank you for your help."
"I'm glad you're glad. I mean, I'm happy I could help. And I'm glad you're not sobbing hysterically anymore." Argh. I am so gentle and subtle and not rude...
But she chuckled and didn't seem offended. "I'm glad I'm not sobbing anymore. When my partner died I felt like I had lost everything. But slowly, you move on whether you want to or not, and one day you realize that you're smiling again. And that maybe, the fact that Booth once loved me is enough to to live for." She was smiling then. And underneath the scars, her smile was very pretty.
She stared at the little piece of apple pie again with nostalgic eyes, but she wasn't crying this time. "I can still feel him here. In this dinner. This warm, irrational little gut feeling. If he's still here, maybe Max is still with me too. Maybe I should come more often in the future."
"It'd certainly be nice to see you again."
"Thank you. If you ever see Sandra, thank her for me."
"I'll do whatever I can to find her." I saw the lonely piece of pie sitting in the plate, untouched. "Hey wait, ma'am, do you still want to eat your pie?"
She seemed to ponder for an instant or two, as though she was making a very important choice. "I don't like my fruits cooked. You can have it if you want," she decided.
As I cleaned up her table I saw her standing outside on the pavement, looking at the diner with nostalgia. She closed her eyes, inhaled a deep long breath, and when she opened them she seemed to have found a new reserve of determination and strength. She resolutely climbed into her car and drove away.
I picked up the piece of pie. As I held it in my hands, I decided I couldn't eat it either.
It's a different narrator and the style is not the same, but hopefully it's a good kind of different. And like I said, it was just a tiny little idea that randomly popped up in my mind, it's not meant to be much.
Edit: I didn't exactly write this second chapter to soften the blow to be honest. It's not meant to be a happy cheerful ending. It's simply a snippet of Temperance Brennan years later, and I don't think Brennan is the type of person who would let anything bring her down completely. She fights desperately and she ultimately wins, no matter how rough the going or how battered she is by the end. Also, when people write Character Death fics, they always seem to write about the immediate pain of separation without ever showing the characters at the stage when they're just... coping. There's something awfully courageous and bittersweet about hope. And I wanted to write that, even if I'm the only one who cares about what she's like eight years later.
On a completely different note... I just realized that I had more than 100 reviews for this fic. It's my first fic to reach that milestone, and it's a completely ridiculous number for a story with only two chapters, but I'm grateful. No really, I am. I realize that almost nobody will read this, but I wanna thank everyone who read the story and reviewed, or read without reviewing, or favorited, or admitted that they cried (I'm sorry), or told me they never wanted this to happen on the show, ever. You officially proved that this is the most (and probably only) memorable thing I'll ever write. Chocolate Booths for y'all.