Oh, hello, Bones world! How's the summer hiatus going for you all? It's killing me! I needed a break from Maluku/Afghanistan-land, so I decided to write a non-specific piece that takes place after the 100th but before the finale that does not (as far as I can tell) go AU. A Brennan/Angela conversational friendship piece from Brennan's POV - though inebriation has allowed for a little more self-reflection than usual. Or perhaps it is character growth. The point is, that's for Brennan to know and us to find out, amiright?

So the rating is for alcohol-use, but it's not girls-gone-wild. More like, I'm-freaking-out-let's-unwind. And talk Booth.

Thanks for stopping in; please let me know what you think!

I am not complimenting myself when I say that my mind works quickly. Coworkers, colleagues, friends all tell me they cannot "keep up," and I'd try to slow down for them but what they do not understand—what they would not even believe—is that most of the time, even I cannot keep up with it. Most of the time I do not even try, because logically what goes on in my mind is my own cognition, so therefore—logically—I should understand my thoughts. I should. But I do not. It's a paradox that in itself leads me in circles.

Well, it is not a quite an official paradox. It has one answer but it's not an answer of which I'm readily accepting. The answering statement, the paradox breaker, is far from scientifically possible. Could it be that there is a part of me that cannot keep up with my mind because there is a part of me that is not my mind? Perhaps there is a part of me driven by some other source that can look upon my mind as a separate entity.

My heart, my gut, something. Something that isn't my brain.

Because it's the only answer, does that make it true?

Better question: because it's what Booth would say, does that make it true?

I don't know. I swallow back another shot. Angela will be here soon but at the moment what I am doing constitutes as drinking alone and I feel momentarily pathetic drinking vodka in ratty Northwestern sweats and what is probably my oldest tank top. But I'm not sure I would hold to the task at hand without a little ethanol encouragement so I popped the bottle a few minutes early. I'd decided on a whim (something clearly done with that mysterious non-mind) that I needed to tell someone everything, everything that had happened, everything that is happening, everything that could happen—and that someone is Angela. I am quickly losing my courage, though, and when I hear her heels outside my door, I catalogue means of escape… then I realize I'm in my own apartment.

I left the door unlocked and she walks in looking disheveled, a covered canvas that she leaves near the door balanced under one arm and a six pack of Yuengling in the other. "Sweetie, I'm sorry I'm late but I had a few court sketches to finish up for the networks," she says, setting the beer on the counter.

"Ange, it's fine. I am glad you were able to come over on such short notice," I say. I feel awkward but force out the small talk. "Was it a big case?"

"Some office blackmail thing. Pretty lame. It was a short session, only a couple dozen sketches, but they were up my ass to have them by tonight—Bren! Did you start pre-gaming without me?" she asks, spotting the vodka bottle by the fridge that I'd meant to put away, knowing what she'd interpret by it.

"I doubt if one shot counts as pre-gaming."

"Uh, sweetie, I call foul. More than one shot was removed from this clearly newly opened bottle." She takes the bottle in one hand and with the other roots out a second shot glass from the drawer she knows familiarly. "Black raspberry, huh? How is it?"

"I wouldn't care if it tasted like homemade moonshine, to be perfectly sincere," I mutter, feeling as uncharacteristic as I probably sound, if Angela's expression is any indication. I backpedal. "But it's nice. It's smooth," I say, trying to lilt my voice just enough but I find I'm not aware of how I usually sound in typical circumstances so I cannot try to mimic normalcy.

"Bren…" It sounds almost like a warning. But she tosses back her own shot and nods approvingly and I feel like I'm off the hook until she flops next to me. "Cheap vodka. College sweats. Self-pitying expression of kicked puppy."

"I don't know what that means."

"If you had a puppy and I kicked it, its face would look like yours looks right now."

"Oh. Remind me not to let you near whatever domesticated animal with which I choose to cohabitate in the future," I say as I get up and walk toward the fridge to retrieve a beer. I have a feeling Angela might need the vodka if she's going to deal with me tonight. "Though the choice is more likely to be felines over canines so that I can more aptly fit the stereotype that I'm headed toward." The self-deprecation was nauseating even to myself but I could blame it on the Smirnoff.

"Oh, sweetie," Angela suddenly says, as if I'd suddenly spurred a revelation. "You think you're going to be a cat lady." It wasn't a question.

I sit back down and pop the cap from the lager, offering no response and pretending I hadn't been so momentarily pathetic. But it's out there now and I know Angela won't drop it. Besides the fact that I was being overly theatrical, it did accurately sum up my current discomfort.

"That's what this is about, isn't it?" she asks as I sip from the cold bottle, staring directly ahead of me. It occurs to me that not much time is passing between my drinks, and I'm mixing products, and all of that adds up to the fear that I'll be saying more than I want to tonight. But to hell with it—that's what tonight is about, right? That's why I called Angela in the first place. To tell her everything. So I start with the tamest thing I can think of.

"I wished death on Booth's lady friend Catherine the other day. A painful one, too, that involved no small amount of shark and carnivorous fish flesh feasting." The last three words slurred more than I expected they would and I let out a sound that could've passed as a chuckle or half of a sob. I allow Angela to come to her own conclusion; she chooses the latter because she's not laughing with me.

"What do you think that means?" she poses. She asks it in a way as if she knows I'm going to say I don't know. But I do know. I don't pay attention to my emotions much, but this topic has been managing to stay priority in my too-fast mind for quite some time now.

"I know that means I'm jealous."

Angela looks shocked at my analysis. I will admit that normally I appreciate her guidance as a people person and normally I desperately need her assistance. But my reactions have been very straightforward and very clear and very quantifiable and very negative when it comes to Booth's new lady friend. That clarity, that sureness? That's what scares me.

Because I wonder if it qualifies as proof.

"Proof of what?" Angela asks suddenly.

"I said that aloud? Okay, I said that aloud," I mutter, trying to rewind and feeling a little fuzzy. Oddly enough, I cannot determine if it is the alcohol or the fact that I am diving headfirst into the world of feeling. It's a very scary place. I push on. "It seems to me that the level of my jealousy signals something I wasn't entirely sure was real. However, I am not comfortable supporting claims with only one piece of potentially solid proof."

"Proof of what?" Angela repeats more slowly and there's a strange look in her eyes, kind of like Booth's when he's interrogating a suspect that is just about to—what's the phrase—put his toe in his mouth?

Foot. It's foot. I laugh at myself and I laugh at the absurdity of images such an idiom provides. I stall and avoid Angela's question for just a moment as I chug nearly a third of my bottle.

"Bren, tell me what you're looking for proof of," she says a third time as I pull the bottle away from my mouth with a glassy pop, "and please stop drinking so fast before I can get some answers out of you. If you say something important, I want you to remember you did in the morning."

"I am not drinking fast. It takes far more than a few shots and half a beer to get me anywhere near drunk enough to lose short-term memory, Angela. Booth tried with tequila when I first met him until he discovered I have a very high alcohol tolerance."

"Booth tried getting you drunk when…? You know what, never mind. Not important. I want to know…"

I predict her next words and say them with her: "Proof of what?"

"Jesus, sweetie," she says and for a second she looks frustrated so I give what I hope is a smirk and I can almost detect a laugh as she pulls the beer from me and finishes it to the last drop. She's barely taken the bottle from her lips before I speak, now decibels quieter.

"Proof that I love Booth."

The bottle lingers at her lips for a hyperbolic eternity until she puts it down on the coffee table with a loud clink. My eyes don't leave hers and hers have gone wide and I'm suddenly craving a verbal reaction; please, please, please instruct me where to go next with this because I know I'm drinking but I think I really meant that.

When Angela throws her arms around me, I realize I'd said my pathetic plea out loud. And not only were the words pathetic simply by content, but now a sound that is not even slightly a chuckle but entirely a sob rips out of me unbidden and unwelcome.

"Brennan," she says into my hair, rubbing circles on my back as I feel a tear run down my cheek. I move to swipe it away but my arms are locked beneath hers. "Bren, Bren, Bren."

"Even if it's true that my jealousy can be considered evidence," I say over her shoulder, for she's yet to relinquish me, "I don't think it's enough. In actuality, I may be trying to prove something that doesn't exist in the parameters of the universe in the first place, thus making all my efforts no more significant than claims of pseudoscience." It is proving difficult to keep up the pretense of scientific inquiry when alcohol is beginning to find its way to my nervous system and I add, "I think I started questioning too late."

"No," Angela says suddenly, holding me away from her at an arm's length. "No, Brennan, don't even try that. You finally pull onto the right road and you're already about to take the next exit?"

She speaks so quickly that my fuzzier perceptions have a difficult time keeping up with her sudden ire. "I'm not taking a road, I—I'm not going anywhere, wha…?" My mind finally deciphers the metaphor and I wave her off when she starts to explain it. "I got it, but Angela, he has Catherine now—"

"Bull. Shit. Bullshit. You know she means nothing to him and even if she does, it's a fraction of what you mean to him." She hops to her feet and seeks out the vodka bottle and mutters a curse under her breath.

"Even if he was not with Catherine, Ange, I am in no way comfortable suggesting my feelings are at the proper level of intensity that he wants—that he—that he deserves." And suddenly I feel exposed because I think I've slowed down my mind enough to realize that at the pinnacle, that's what all of this is about. She, ever attentive to all the minutiae of human behavior and especially that of my behavior, puts down the bottle and puts her hands on her hips.

"So what are we saying here—you need proof not that you love him, because you think you actually do, but proof that the love is the kind of love he wants? Sweetie, there is only one type of love he wants and that's your love, in what ever Temperance Brennan form it decides to take."

"So there's only one kind of love but it has different forms? You know what, I don't—know, or-or care. It's all invalid anyway, Angela, because I already told him all of this." Again, as my frustration increased, so did my unfortunate slur.

I hear the sound of the vodka bottle being slammed on the counter and jump. "Brennan. Brennan! That man takes everything you say as the word of God because, and Lord help the rest of us, it usually is. But you can't—"

"I don't know anything about the word of god—"

"—but you can't go spouting half-assed analyses of your emotional states to people that hang on your every word."

"It wasn't half-assed at the time," I say weakly, "and it still isn't. I meant it, Angela, and he knows it and he knows I want him to move on and be happy. He wants to move on. He says he has to."

"Wrong. Maybe you want him to be happy but you certainly don't want him to move on. And I don't even care what he said, because that's just man-saving-his-pride crap. He doesn't want to move on." Ange shakes her head rapidly. "Okay, okay, you're mixed up. This is hard for you to organize and rationalize, I get it. So what could you possibly have said?"

"That I don't know how to love like he does. That I don't have an open heart and that I can't change." I say it confidently because I still believe it, even though I know Angela is about to challenge it.

Angela makes a sound that reminds me of the buzzers for incorrect answers on those TV game shows I remember from my childhood. It startles me and I reach for my bottle to cover my awkwardness, only to remember it's empty. "Wrong again, Brennan. And no more glugging until we figure this out." I can tell by the careful way she approaches me that she's about to get very serious with me, because it reminds me of the way Sweets gets during our counseling sessions—and it also tells me that I will be responding by admitting things I never wanted to. I remind myself yet again that that was my plan for this evening to begin with.

"So why did you tell him that, Bren?" she poses softly. She sits on the coffee table directly in front of me and places her hands on my knees, as if I'm going to bolt. "Why did you reject him if you love him?"

"I didn't reject him, I—and the love thing isn't proven yet and—I really don't—" Tears spring to my eyes again and I try to pin it on the ethanol effects but the knot in my throat tells me otherwise.

"One at a time, sweetie. One at a time," Angela whispers.

I take a breath and close my eyes thinking it will steer away the tears, but it only forces one down my cheek. Angela wipes it away with a thumb.

"Okay," I say and while I know I wouldn't have opened up without it, I'm starting to regret the drinking for fogging up all sense of organization in my mind. "Okay," I repeat. "I… am not good for him. That's it, Angela. It would be selfish of me to get what I want, to take what he wants to give me, and have nothing for him in return."

"Okay," she says simply. Her response was nothing like I had anticipated.

"Okay? So you understand my decision and agree with it?"

She does not answer my question. She simply asks another of her own. "What does Booth want to give you, Brennan? What's he got to offer?" She is watching me very precisely, her eyes dancing about my face like she is trying to memorize every single aspect. Something makes her nod knowingly and I wonder if it's something on my face and I immediately try to neutralize my expression but now I'm thinking about Booth and… and nothing else.

"Everything. Anything. Booth, he—I never…"

And there he is, so vividly in my mind. Like a Labrador puppy, bouncing on the balls of his feet, or like a damn toddler, touching every little thing on my desk while I try to type up reports and he's trying to wait. The key term there is trying, because he cannot wait for anything and it's childish and used to be quite irritating, but now it is so familiar that it is endearing, and I know that if he's not bouncing around that something is very much wrong. So I wait for him to hunt me down and drag me out of that office. I wait for that hyperactive little bounce in my doorway and I think there is something a little less bright about my day when, by chance of cases, he doesn't show. But usually he'll call me anyway. We'll go to the diner or something. So I wait for that, too.

When Angela says, "uh huh" in a way that channels Dr. Sweets (minus the little smile continually growing on her face), I realize I just said all of that out loud and for a moment I care—but then I am glad.

"I have never desired to be in the presence of anybody, Angela, ever. I can't remember a day in my childhood when I didn't try to avoid interaction as much as possible."

"I know, sweetie. Marco Polo. You still keep to yourself."

"Then why can't you see exactly why Booth needs more? He needs someone who's not a—a socially inept recluse—"

"I'm not touching that one yet. I still want to know what he has to offer you, because so far," and suddenly Angela's voice becomes weighty, "you've only mentioned things that are just who he is." She's staring at me with a look I've seen often from her, a look I've always associated with don't-play-dumb, because usually she gives me that look when I'm pulling a façade of ignorance. And I am incredibly confused, because I'm not playing ignorant this time. I'm not playing dumb. So I start to form the beginnings of a statement of dismissal, but I've hardly formulated an excuse to end the discussion before Angela detects my need to flee and grabs my knees into place once more. "No, sweetie. No. You can do this."

"I don't know what you're trying to get out of me Ange, I—" I stop and shake my head, trying to clear the alcohol but I should know by now that the disorientation only makes things worse. I'm frustrated and I want to run but I can't—not physically and not emotionally, because even I know this has to be done. I stare at the ceiling and then away toward the window, staving off the tears, and release the admission slowly and carefully. "I have nothing to give." I drop my eyes to Angela's but my face is still turned away. "Nothing. He—holds me when I'm upset. He makes me laugh, somehow, when I've never been easily amused. There—there have been times when I am so involved in my work that I had no idea I'd ever resurface and yet he gets me back to reality." I feel Angela's hands land in mine and realize I'd let the tears have free roam.

"How does he do that?"

"I don't know. I feel like if I knew, perhaps I could replicate the instinct, however artificial that would be." I breathe a sigh. "It's just the way—when I—when I look at him. It's how I—feel. I feel better. He has this—gift or something. He doesn't have to give it any effort."

"No. He doesn't put any effort into being himself," Angela says pointedly, as if her eight little words are the answers to all of my questions. She must detect that I feel they are not. She rephrases. "That's what I'm getting from this, if you're interested in knowing. That's not giving you anything, sweetie, that's Booth being himself. What does that tell you?"

"It tells me that he is an inherently wonderful man who shouldn't choose me to love," I respond, confident that I am following her thought process. When she all but laughs at me—and it is not an amused laugh, as far as I can tell—I realize I have not.

"No, sweetie. What it tells you—what it should tell you—is that people fall in love with people because of who they are and what they do without trying. You love Booth for who he is."

"I don't know if I love—"

"You love Booth for who he is," she repeats as if I hadn't begun to speak. I don't respond but I find I am unexpectedly comfortable with Angela's declaration—though not bold or certain enough to declare it myself. Even with the alcohol. I suppose there is something to be seen in my involuntary body language because she takes my silence as confirmation.

"Then damn it, Bren, why is it so hard for you to believe he loves you for who you are?"

Then something breaks over Angela's face—her eyes widen and her lips part—and I realize shortly after that it is in response to whatever has broken on my face and suddenly she is up, retrieving the vodka and pouring me more. But then I don't think I had an expressive reaction, considering I do not exactly have an answer for her question. It's not something I've ever even considered—not really, anyway, because there is not much to me. Not much that would matter to another person, and I certainly have nothing that Booth has.

Angela is regarding me extraordinarily cautiously. She does not return to her seat on the coffee table after she hands me a nearly spilling-over shot. She drains hers, her eyes on mine. I follow suit, anticipating something poignant as the vodka burns its path. I think it would be accurate to say my raised pulse is actually fear related.

"You don't love yourself, do you, Brennan?" Angela poses carefully. It was a question unworthy of such a severe metaphorical drum roll. I sigh heavily, relieved. Her extended setup made me believe whatever she had to say was going to be risky, offensive—not something so easily answered.

"I recognize my positive aspects, yes. Intelligence, learning curve, organizational skills, logical processing abilities," I say without any particular energy.

"That's not what I mean, Brennan. You know that."

I do know that.

"I know. I am…" My tongue feels fuzzy and my vision is starting to get that tell-tale wobble. Now I know why Angela procured more alcohol: I suddenly feel no desire to censor myself. "I am indifferent."

"Sweetie," she says softly and suddenly I am once again ensconced in Angela's arms. It is not long, however, before she pulls away and tries to look me in the eye. Tries because I am not looking at her. I can't. I don't know why, but I can't. But in contradiction to my dread of making eye contact at this juncture, I find myself ready to speak.

"I guess I've never thought about it?" The words are a statement, but they come out like a question. "I think you are asking me this question as part of the general lesson of loving one's self as a means of loving another." She nods but doesn't speak, as if speaking would be an interruption to what is a fragile direction of conversation for me. But I am not going to close up. There is the Smirnoff, yes, there is the Yuengling, but there is also the science. There is something wonderfully empirical in this new train of thought Angela has opened and the comfort of that has my heart pounding in anticipation of a new discovery.

Because I have only one question when it comes down to it, and that question is how a man like Booth can love a woman like me.

I only need the answer to that question and then—

But as soon as my excitement brews, it is gone again. Because I realize that, if he sees the truth of me, then he cannot truly love me. In answer to Angela's enquiry, I quickly catalogue my personality traits, and even I know that they are distinctly unlovable.

That's what I have always been told.

"Angela," I say, but nothing else comes.

Quiet girl, Brainiac, Morticia. Creepy. Ice Queen. Emotionally distant. Dirty foster kid. Bitch.



Did she just actually speak? Oh my God, you guys, Temperance isn't a mute!

It is not a matter of compartmentalization. I do not care how people judge me. They say it and it is gone. I am strong. Somehow, though, I remember every—damn—moment. Every name. Every look. Didn't know what it meant, didn't know why they laughed. But ask me if I love myself, and suddenly they—the classmates, the foster parents, the coworkers, the agents, the bosses, the ex-lovers—become the yard stick of my worth.

"Talk to me, Bren. I thought I saw something in that face of yours and now it's gone. Talk to me," Angela says quickly, almost begging. Normally, I've got to be at least five shots deep before I get clingy, so when I bury my face in my best friend's shoulder I know for a fact that it is not the alcohol.

"Who am I, damn it?" It comes out quietly and pathetically and I'm not sure I was even thinking that thought before it slipped from my mouth, but now I realize it is a valid inquiry. Though with the alcohol and with the emotion I didn't even know I had, I sound so drastically unlike myself. "What the hell is there to me?"

"You're Dr. Temperance Brennan, sweetie," Angela says on autopilot because I suppose she knows that normally that would have pulled me together but I realize that I am drunk enough that my PhDs mean nothing and as my addled brain scrambles to define my existence, I growl, "No. I didn't come into existence with a doctorate and I'd be the same person without one."

"What?" Angela pulls my chin up. "Bren?" She looks so hopeful and I realize that she must know where I'm going with this, somehow. I don't even know where I'm going with it, but she does. "Brennan, this is exactly the kind of stuff I didn't want you to forget in the morning. Should've never gave you that shot." And she's laughing, but it sounds nervous. Or excited. Never could tell the difference, but I certainly don't know why she would be excited. This does not feel positive to me.

"Angela," I say, pulling some semblance of composure from my stupor, "in a rapid reflection of your question regarding how I feel about myself, which is really just a veiled method that got me to thinking what Booth could possibly love about me, I've come to the conclusion that he must be projecting some sort of fantasy, alternate reality version of his desires onto me. Maybe it's a result of his brain surgery, but the only logical explanation for how he may feel is if he is not seeing what is truly"—I gesture vaguely toward myself—"here. 'Cause this is all there is. Just… this."

I think of Angela's earlier "kicked puppy" idiom and realize it can now be applied to herself.

"Wow," she offers. She swallows with difficulty, I notice, and I also notice there are tears in her eyes. She puts her hand on my knee. "You're really not kidding and even if you were, even you'd know that this isn't funny." I just stare at her. She sighs. "I'm glad that you are a little drunk so that I can at least give some of what you said some benefit of doubt. Unbelievable."

"I don't see what is so unbelievable, Ange."

"Brennan, some people—in your professional world—think you're cocky."

"I'm aware," I say.

"But you're only cocky and confident about those things that totally don't matter in the end. Degrees—and-and articles and solve rates. Don't get mad, I know those things are important in their own right, but sweetie, we're in a different realm here. You really don't… see yourself, do you? I mean, you really have no idea, do you?"

I am silent. Then suddenly something hits me. "How are you my friend, Angela?" I ask it clinically; the question would otherwise be ultimately pitiable.

She gives me a lopsided attempt at what I guess is a smile, takes my hand, and pulls me off the couch. Mushy is the only term I could ascertain to describe my inebriated coordination, but thankfully Angela does not let go of me as she walks me to my front door, on which leans her covered canvas that she'd left unattended upon entering my apartment.

"Because I am an artist," she finally answers. She picks up the canvas and sets it on my bar counter but does not uncloak it. "So when we met, I didn't care about your big words or your degrees. I only cared about how you felt to me. What I felt in your color. What I saw in your face. In your eyes."

I am not exactly following her method of thought but I trust her to eventually make sense of it for me—she always does eventually—so I try to stick with her.

"But it doesn't take an artist. Maybe it takes one to see through your exterior as… instantly as I did, but anyone who gives you the benefit of time and patience will see it, too. You don't hide it because you can't. It's in your eyes. They're the only thing you'll ever let us read because you don't have a choice. You've chosen a life, a career of seeing, watching, and learning, and the trade off is that you gotta keep your eyes open."

She takes the dust cover off of the canvas and I am immediately disarmed to find I am staring at a painting of myself.

"I painted you the other day. I've painted you a few times. Want to know why?" Before I can even come up with a response, she says with a laugh, "It's not just because you're stunning, sweetie."

I shake my head, shrug, and act otherwise unaware of the reason.

"Because you are your own aura, Bren. And that doesn't take an artist to know. This was when you were piecing that femur together last Tuesday. To you, you were using your knowledge of structure and anatomy to reconstruct a human skeletal system and blah, blah, blah. To the rest of us… well, look at yourself. That focus and drive. You can see it all over yourself."

"After all the training, I am certain anyone would look as focused—"

"No. No, you're focused because you care. You're the only person in the world that I know who can love someone you've never met just from one shattered thigh bone, years after everyone else has forgotten his name."

And I remember that femur, and the boy to whom it belonged. A sixteen year old track star. Tall, strong boy, who got stuck in a river storm during a cross country meet…

"Is that love?" I say, swallowing over the knot I feel. I see a face on every skull, I remember telling the jury. It wasn't a lie.

"If you ask me, that's a superpower and it's something you can't hide. But even if you could hide it you wouldn't. When we met, as soon as I was open to you, you were open to me. Like that, sweetie." She snaps her fingers. "An open heart. Artists can feel things like that, you know?"

My breath catches. I don't have your kind of open heart.

"But Booth isn't an artist," I say to cover my stumble.

"Oh, yes he is. I don't mean a painter or a musician or a sculptor. I mean an artist of the human condition. Booth searches to find and maintain what makes humans human, and not for recognition. That's a kind of artist. The best kind." She rubs my arm. "And you do the same thing and he certainly sees that."

Angela watches me stare at the painting but I am silent.

"You may not see it, but this is how the world sees you." She smiles. Then, suddenly, "It is getting late though, Bren, and I still have court sketches to prep. You hold onto this, okay? And maybe one day, maybe when you're a little more sober, you'll see something in it. Not as a credit to my skills, but as a credit to your heart."

She wraps me in a final hug.

"Thank you, Angela. Thank you for everything," I say softly into her shoulder. She rocks me back and forth. "Even if we just spoke in semantic circles, I somehow feel… hopeful."

"You can do this, Brennan. The things you said tonight prove it. Just don't be afraid to follow those feelings into the proverbial rabbit hole—sorry, you don't know that that means, it's fine—and don't be afraid if you need some time to start to see yourself a little differently, okay?" she says as she starts to leave. "It's not going to happen overnight."

A brief jab of dread. "Will he wait?"

Angela squeezes my shoulder. "That's a question for Booth, Bren."

She walks away and out of the door and as I lock it in her absence I am left reeling. I am pretty sure that I have decided to explore new avenues of thought, I am pretty sure I have decided that what I feel for Booth could possibly be love, but I am not too sure I am capable of all this change under a time limit.

My head spins. I put the alcohol in the refrigerator and turn off the lights and carry the canvas to my bedroom, where I collapse instantly upon my bed.


I wake up to the sunrise the following morning. A headache splits my skull as a testament that last night happened—a hangover headache? No, this was definitely a different kind of headache that could only come from a night of very complicated thinking. However, I am comforted to find that the determination I felt last night was not a result of drinking. When this new day starts, I will face it a little differently. I glance at the alarm clock and am happy to find I still have twenty minutes before I have to get ready for work, but before I can close my eyes again for a few extra moments of rest, my eyes fall upon Angela's painting.

I think the ache in my cranium is wreaking havoc on my vision.

I practically leap from my bed and come to a crouch where the painting leans against the wall under the windowsill. Carefully, I lift it from the edges and tilt it so that the sunlight hits it more entirely.

My eyes are not fooling me.

Painted beyond my profile is a man in a suit and a colorful tie and a little red belt buckle. Watching. Smiling, hands in his pockets. This was when you were piecing that femur together last Tuesday…

And he had been watching me. I think back—Tuesday, Tuesday, lab platform—I don't even remember seeing him during the examination. He'd been waiting for me in my office after, yes, but I'd no inclination that'd he'd been there any earlier… perhaps this was fictional on Angela's part. But no—no. That was definitely the yellow tie Booth had on last Tuesday.

And he had been watching me.

This is how we see you, Angela's voice rings in my head. I had just been doing what I do all the time, playing with bones—and maybe Angela is right. Maybe, just maybe, that is enough. Enough for someone, even someone like Booth, to notice. Maybe… maybe even enough to love. Certainly enough for the admiration of two separate individuals at one time.

I do not deny that the feeling I feel is really quite warm and I am glad I am up early, because within moments, my cell phone chirps.

"Hey, Bones! Glad you're up—got a case and it's a bit of a drive so…"

"Good morning, Booth. See you in twenty."

"I'll get the coffee!"

He hangs up and I flip my cell and send Angela a quick text:

I see it now.