Brennan exited the elevator into the parking garage with straight, correct posture. Her purse was slung over her shoulder. Her keys jingled in her hand, the small, furry skull bobbing on the chain. She herself may have been tall and proud, but she was tired, both emotionally and physically.

Just a few days ago, she and Booth had buried Ripley. Brennan knew it wasn't Booth's fault. It hadn't even been his decision. There was nothing he could have done to stop it.

Brennan sighed. She really was tired, and more than ready to go home and get some rest.

But she had only taken a few mere steps away from the elevator when a noise caught her attention. It was a small, whiny noise – a young creature's plea for attention, for food, for the mother's warm presence. Brennan stopped, frowning. She remembered a case from the previous year, when Booth had found baby Andy. He had heard the baby crying, when no one else had.

She, on the other hand, had thought it was a cat.

Brennan shook the memory from her mind. There's a reason why I'm not having children, she thought. The noise sounded again, and now Brennan's attention was thoroughly captured. She turned around. There, by the elevators, was a large box, perhaps large enough to contain ten pounds' worth of contents. Brennan approached it slowly.

To her relief, it was not a baby this time. (That would have been interesting to explain to Booth.) No, this time, it was a puppy. A small, creamy-tan puppy with very fluffy fur, a curious and sniffling little black nose, and watery black eyes. It sat in the middle of the large box, alone, without even a pillow for comfort, or water and food.

An abandoned puppy in the parking garage of the Jeffersonian? Brennan examined the situation. The box didn't look very worn. The puppy didn't look particularly ill or malnourished, but that could be for a number of reasons. Brennan cautiously held out her hand. "Here…infant dog," she said in her best cooing voice.

The puppy whimpered again, but carefully stepped up to sniff Brennan's fingers. Satisfied, she gently prodded the puppy's sides, felt under its belly and between the hind legs. The puppy – a she – was thin, and a little dirty, but otherwise was fine, at least externally. "You haven't been abandoned long," Brennan concluded, murmuring softly. "You're not in terrible physical condition. And you're mostly trusting." The little puppy had had a family that recently abandoned her. The thought made Brennan angry and sad, all in one rushing river of emotion.

"What should I do with you?" Brennan asked, aloud to herself. There were options. She could take the puppy to a shelter. She could put up found-puppy signs. She could put an ad in the newspaper. She could send a bulk email to the Jeffersonian employees with a picture of the puppy. Or…

She could take the puppy home.

I'd been prepared to bring Ripley home on a decision made within two minutes, Brennan thought, stroking the puppy. Why not this puppy?

Brennan suddenly realized that, not only could she make sure the puppy had a good home and a good life, she could save this dog, whereas Ripley she'd been unable to.

She blinked, and stared at the puppy as though seeing her for the first time. The puppy woofed at her, and she grinned, a broad, beaming, trans-face grin.

"Well, girl, I already have the leash, the toys, the blankets and the food dish," Brennan told the puppy. She hoisted the box up into her arms. "You're coming home with me." Suddenly, the veterinarian's office, bookstore, and pet store were crucial stops on the way home.

Booth watched the interlude occur from behind a concrete pillar, near the elevators. It was close, and it would've been entirely possible for Bones to look over and possibly spot him – but, well, former sniper.

As Bones walked away, her arms full with a big ole box o' puppy, Booth crossed his arms. A smile lazily stretched across his face. That smile was one-part smugness, one-part amusement, and two-parts pure, heartfelt pride.

When he'd received the news about Ripley's death, he'd winced at the thought that another animal had been destroyed by the greed of men, but what had hurt more was hearing and seeing her obvious excitement as she rattled on about how she'd decided to adopt Ripley. God, that stunned, pained look on her face. He'd hated being the one to have to tell her, to be the one to cause her face to fall so frailly. And then, he'd witnessed first-hand her upset, flustered apology to the universe on behalf of the recently-dead dog – a formal, yet clumsy apology that was so Bones that it made his heart curl inward with both amusement and sadness.

He wasn't sure how he'd come to the decision to adopt a dog from the shelter for her. He'd been heading home for a hot shower, a hot dinner, and a good night's sleep. For some reason, he found himself driving to the shelter, instead of home. He walked in, not sure what he was looking for, and was greeted by a woman covered in fur. She'd approached him, smiling, and brushed her hands together to remove the dander and fur before shaking his hand.

When he saw Bones' puppy, he just knew. He looked into those black eyes and thought, There's Bones' new dog. The woman had proved most helpful. Within the hour, he had the squirming puppy in the box, and drove her home. It was on the way home that he had decided to plant the puppy for Bones to find. "You don't give psychology much credence, Bones, but you sure can't escape it," he said quietly to the large, impressive garage.

Booth watched her car disappear from view, and said, "That's my girl."

Author's Note:

"Don't breed or buy while shelter animals die." I don't condemn breeders or their customers, but it is my honest and truthful opinion that shelters are the best way to go when chosing to bring a new pet into your life. Help two lives with one stone - yours, and the dog or cat (or some other miscellaneous other creature xD) that will enrich your life for years. Please, all, consider your local shelter before buying a pet or chosing to breed one you already have. It really does enrich your life. I speak from experience - 4 dogs, and 5 cats, over a period of 20 years. No, I wasn't even born for a couple of the animals, but my parents tell stories. Maybe it's in the genes. ;)

And for the record, I hope like hell that animal abusers burn for all eternity. (So many bittersweet puns, so little time.)

This picture was my inspiration for this story's puppy: .eu/articles/vets%