A/N: Sorry for such a delay in posting – work is keeping me plenty busy. But I promise I won't neglect this story until it's completely done.
Oh, and I own nothing!
"Zooey! It is not polite to throw your cereal onto the ground! I understand that you are developing your large motor skills and the book I'm reading tells me you'll be testing limits and exercising your independence, but the social worker will be here soon and you still have yogurt all over your face," Brennan scolded as Zooey pelted the hardwood floor with Cheerios. At the stern tone, Zooey looked up and gave an impish smile.
"Yogurt," the little girl repeated, causing most of Brennan's exasperation to melt. In the week that the two had been together, the little girl's vocabulary had begun to emerge. There were some words she had known already, but 'yogurt' was a completely new one.
"Yes, yogurt, smart girl. Now let's get you cleaned up. I hate to admit this Zooey, but I'm feeling a little nervous about the impending visit. Booth has assured me there will be nothing to worry about, but I've only ever been evaluated in areas where I am positive I will succeed. Parental knowledge is much harder to quantify and attain," she explained while using a napkin to wipe the excess yogurt from Zooey's face and hands. She then lifted the child out of the high chair and hustled her down the hall, the sound of Cheerios crunching beneath her bare feet.
Twenty minutes later, Zooey had been dressed in a simple green summer dress – Angela had provided the girl with a large and varied wardrobe, and surprisingly almost all of it suited Brennan's taste as well. Her hair had been brushed, and her wispy toddler bangs had been placed in a clip that Angela had taught Brennan how to install. She was sitting quietly on the floor, playing with her doll as Brennan, dressed in a casual dress herself swept up the remainders of Zooey's breakfast from the kitchen floor. Just as Brennan had placed the broom and dustpan back into the cupboard, the doorbell rang and Zooey ran towards the door, Brennan following close behind.
"Hello, Ms. Carson," Brennan greeted the woman behind the door with a forced smile.
"Doctor Brennan," the woman replied as she walked into the large apartment. "Now, as you are aware, this is the first of a long string of visits I'll be making in the coming months in order to ensure that this is a safe, warm, and loving home for Zooey. I'll fill out reports at the end of each visit and if all is well, then you can begin the adoption process in about six months," Ms. Carson was all business, something Brennan appreciated but didn't exactly put her at ease. Nervously, Brennan scooped up Zooey who was grabbing at her legs, and began to show Ms. Carson around the apartment.
After a brief tour, the trio sat down on the couch and Ms. Carson began a series of questions. It had been nearly an hour, when Ms. Carson asked her final question.
"What sort of a support system do you have in place for Zooey? As a single mother, it's very important that she has several strong role models, both male and female, that Zooey can look up to," Ms. Carson looked expectantly at Brennan, who was startled by the question. She swallowed hard, willing her mind to come up with the correct answer – knowing, even as naïve as she could be, that telling the social worker she was a workaholic with poor social skills and her family constituted a father accused of murder and a brother on parole would be a poor choice. She looked at Zooey, playing contently on the floor, and steeled herself.
"I'm quite self-sufficient, Ms. Carson," she began, "and though I do not have a large support system, per se, I am confident in the knowledge that Zooey will always be well cared for. I have done extensive background checks into the workers at the Jeffersonian day care center, and they all have very good credentials." At the caseworker's quizzical look, Dr. Brennan looked crestfallen. "I take it that is not the answer for which you were searching?"
"Well, not exactly, Dr. Brennan. I took the liberty of talking to many of your friends and co-workers, and from their responses to our routine questions, I would say you have quite the support system in place should you ever need it," Ms. Carson explained, and it was Brennan's turn to look quizzical.
"In my file, I have a Doctor Camille Saroyan quoted as saying that in the years she's known you, you have made remarkable strides in your ability to connect to others, and that she would call you a good friend. A Doctor Jack Hodgins has assured me that he is confident in your ability to raise a smart and successful child, provided you allow him ample time to introduce Zooey to the fine matter of particulates – pun intended, I believe he said," Ms. Carson suppressed a laugh as she read from her folder. A doctor Lance Sweets assured me that the content of your ongoing psychological appointments will only be bettered by your adoption of Zooey, and that he hopes it can help to restore your faith in others. A Miss Angela Montenegro claimed title of your oldest and best friend, and was certain that you will provide Zooey with every thing she could ever need, emotionally and otherwise, and that in the areas in which you falter – she cited these as fashion, street smarts, and a strong belief in the power of love, she would succeed in teaching Zooey the finer points. And finally, Special Agent Seeley Booth was most emphatic about you and Zooey, telling me in no uncertain terms that you will be an exceptional mother and role model to Zooey, due to the fact that you have the biggest heart out of anyone he has ever known, and though your interpersonal skills might appear to be a work in progress, you are the most qualified candidate for motherhood he could think of," not knowing the impact her words were having on Brennan, Ms. Carson continued without skipping a beat, "and he has pledged years in advance to coach whichever sports team Zooey may find herself on."
"Booth said that?" Brennan asked, incredulous at the glowing recommendations she had received.
"Yes, he did, Doctor Brennan, although he did add on at the end there that the sport better be either soccer or basketball, and preferably soccer," Ms. Carson had missed the point of Brennan's question, but smiled at the child and the new mother, and rose towards the door. "We'll be in touch, Doctor Brennan, but this first visit went very well. Have a good afternoon."
"Thank you, Ms. Carson," Brennan answered, still in a bit of a daze as the caseworker let herself out. "Wow."
"Wow," Zooey mimicked, and her little voice caused Brennan to snap out of her bewilderment and smile at the child. "Wow," Zooey said again, as Brennan swooped her up and tickled her.
"Wow is correct, Zooey. Wow is correct."