Nothing big; just a little somethin' somethin' that falls slightly beyond a drabble. Written in the hour following tonight's episode while I watched another show that shall not be named, lol. In other news; the roaring twenties have never been so hot :P. I adored tonight's closing scene.


All You Need to Say to Me is Call

Locked in the bathroom stall
your back against the wall.
Cold tiles beneath your knees
your body broke your fall.

Spitting into your own
reflection gazing back.
Inside your porcelain fists
your palms begin to crack.

Porcelain Fists, Ingrid Michaelson

"I'm not that much older than you, and I have someone."

Brennan rushes off the platform and stares fixedly at the x-ray in front of her, jaw locked shut. Cam hadn't deliberately intended to be hurtful. Her reaction does nothing but display a deplorable abundance of over-sensitivity. There are plenty of people in the world far worse off than she is.

The x-ray begins to blur in front of her; she feels the clenching in her throat that makes it increasingly painful to swallow and she's suddenly angry and frustrated on top of being incredibly, incredibly sad. What is wrong with her?

Instead of returning to her office, Brennan travels through the glass doors leading out of the lab and follows the maze of bright corridors to a seldom used staff washroom. As the swinging door slowly falls shut she slams the photo down on the counter and glares critically at her reflection.

"Get a hold of yourself, Temperance."

She takes deep breaths and she refuses to break eye contact with herself. She's as unable to do anything but yield to the penetrating and unsympathetic gaze as anyone else is and eventually her body begins to obey. Four breaths. Five breaths. Six. The muscles in her throat relax and her glassy eyes lose their sheen. She swallows and it doesn't hurt.

One final breath. Cheeks puff out as carbon dioxide is released slowly. Bangs flutter before settling across the forehead. Eyes sharpen.

Satisfied, Brennan picks up the x-ray and reverently smoothes the edges that have been bent under her iron grip. She pushes against the door and she's so close to being free but the hinged wood cracks against something solid and evokes a female cry of pain.

She cringes. "I'm so sorry-

Brennan cuts herself off when she recognizes the woman before her, even though the face is masked by long dark hair and a slender hand.

"Angela! Are you alright?"

Her hands automatically reach out to touch her friend. Fantastic; now she's knocking out pregnant coworkers, too. Booth would have a field day with this.

Angela stills Brennan's hands with her own and gives a pained laugh. "I'm okay, Bren. Don't worry about it."

Brennan doesn't take her word for it and Angela stands patiently as the anthropologist's hands flit over her face, pushing against cheek and nasal bones until she's satisfied that there won't be any lasting damage.

"I'm sorry." Brennan repeats the apology with a humble, crooked half smile.

"Sweetie, I told you I'm okay. It was more of a surprise than anything else."

Angela gives her a reassuring smile and Brennan's smile widens hesitantly in return. Confident that the exchange is over and mindful of Cam's looming deadline, Brennan steps around Angela and begins to head back to the lab. Her focus has already shifted back to the skeletal hand and so she's thrown off when Angela touches her arm, but when her best friend begins herding her back to the inside of the doorway Brennan begins to panic because she's been friends with Angela long enough to know exactly what's coming.

"I'm fine, Angela," she insists hurriedly. There's this desperate tinge to her voice that even she can hear, and it makes her wince because she knows there's no way Angela will miss it. But she really, really doesn't want to have this conversation. Not now. Not ever. She is so sick of talking. "I'm fine."

Angela doesn't move from the door and Brennan feels her throat beginning to tighten again. Damn it. Damn it damn it damn it.

"Cam dragged me out of my office to do some damage control." Her voice is soft and musical and Brennan once again finds herself comparing Angela and Booth, marvelling at their ability to calm almost anyone with a few lilting words. "You know how guilty she must be feeling if she's willing to risk her date with Dr. McSexy by letting us engage in a good old bathroom meltdown."

"I'm not having a meltdown." She understands that Angela is making a joke to put her at ease but she feels condescended.

As if knowing that Cam felt compelled to enlist Angela's help in "comforting" her isn't condescending enough. It's like they don't think she can do her job without someone holding her hand. She is a grown woman who is more than capable of getting her own emotions under control, thank you very much.

"I know, Sweetie. It's an allusion. High school? Bathrooms have been the place to go to cry since the dawn of time. It's encoded in female DNA."

"That is not even a little bit true," Brennan says slowly.

Angela moves away from the door but she pins Brennan with a stern look that warns her there will be hell to pay if she so much as takes a step toward it. Brennan stares longingly at the relatively thin divider standing between her and freedom and then she sighs and crosses her arms defensively over her chest.

"Cam didn't mean what she said in the way that you took it." Angela soothes, as if Brennan isn't already entirely aware of this fact.

"I know." Brennan waves dismissively. "I antagonized her, Angela. It's for the best; in the past, when I pushed Booth to the point where he would say something hurtful, it served to remind me how important it is to think about the things I'm saying prior to saying them. At least Cam isn't making a nuisance of herself apologizing the way Booth always did."

"You're not alone, you know. You have 'someones.' You have lots of them."

"Stop." Brennan grits her teeth and curls her fingers until her nails are cutting painfully into her palms.

"We're a family." Angela continues. "You take any of us out of the picture, and we're less because of it. That's the way it's been for years."

She wants to snap back something witty and sarcastic and remind Angela that they haven't been a "family" since, well, since… since Gormagon ruined their lives and shattered a piece of their family that they have never been able to get back. They come close to being who they used to be and then something else happens to shake them and nothing fits anymore the way that it should. The way that it used to. But she knows saying this wouldn't be fair because at the end of the day they're still fiercely protective of one another and that counts for something. So she says nothing and simply stares at Angela and tries her best to look compliant.

"You are correct. I temporarily lost sight of that fact."

Angela's soft smile drops from her face and her mouth sets in a deadly serious line. "I mean it, Brennan."

Brennan sighs exasperatedly and notices that she's once again bending the x-ray. She resolutely places it back on the clean countertop and pushes it far out of her immediate reach. "What do you want me to say, Angela? Your grasps on emotion and relationships are far superior to mine, and even I can see that certain dynamics have changed. We all came back for Cam; Booth says that you do things for family, and he is correct. But we've grown. We've evolved. Priorities have shifted and you can't tell me that everything is the same in that tone of voice and expect me to wholeheartedly agree with you."

"Bren-

Angela steps forward and Brennan steps back, automatically shying from the prospective contact. Shaking her head, she tries again to convey her thoughts in a way that will alleviate the worried lines etched across Angela's face. "You have Hodgins, Cam has Paul, and my interns… well, to be honest, I don't particularly care. My point is; I accept change. I accept Cam's vicarious apology. I accept that I am as susceptible to bouts of sadness as anyone else. And I need you to accept that I'm fine now, and let me do my job."

Angela observes her steadily and if not for Brennan's desire to relate sincerity through eye contact, she would look away. Because she hates it, she hates it when Angela looks at her and reads thoughts and emotions that are none of her business. She feels violated. When the artist steps forward and envelops her in a crushing hug she stiffens, but the only way out of it would be to push her and she's not that desperate. Yet. So she rides out the display of affection and hopes that it ends before she loses grip on her recently regained control.

"I love you, Brennan."

The whisper is firm and vehement and a little bit of Brennan's resolve crumbles. Damn it damn it.

"I know." She murmurs her reply into her friend's shoulder and she feels her stomach flip uncomfortably. She really does know. It's just that she forgets sometimes.

"I owe you everything; if it wasn't for you, I wouldn't even know Hodgins. You're a part of me. Being without you would be like being without a limb; I could get by, but it would be painful as hell."

Angela still hasn't released her and Brennan succumbs to the invasion of her personal space. Her arms wrap around Angela's back and she feels that tingling in her chest that's somehow painful in a good and bad way simultaneously. She chooses not to dwell on the illogicality of it all.

"Thank you." Brennan says thickly.

It's a simple response but Angela understands it the same way she understands most things, most of the time. She steps away from Brennan and grins broadly. "We're having a girls' day. Soon. As soon as this stupid holiday is over and done with."

"Angela."

Brennan's protest comes out as shy and slightly self depreciating, and it's one of those moments where there's this little glimpse of the Temperance Brennan who sat in school for days at a time without speaking.

Angela holds up a hand. "I'm not taking no for an answer. It's too bad I can't drink; I have a feeling Cam's going to get laid so many times tonight, any day of this next week we could probably show up for work still drunk from the night before and not get in trouble for it."

Brennan smirks. "I think my liver is glad that you're pregnant."

"Look at you go," Angela laughs. "That was funny."

"Right? Because my liver is an organ, and not at all sentient. It is absurd to imagine my liver having feelings, yet the liver is responsible for breaking down alcohol and therefore if it was capable of independent thought it would rejoice in the fact that with you pregnant, I do not drink as much."

Brennan beams as she explains the joke and even though Booth is hurting right now, Angela wants to kick him a little for making this side of Brennan – a side he himself had worked so hard to bring to the surface – now such a rarity. But then, she hasn't been the greatest friend that she can be as of late either, so Angela supposes she can fix her own behaviour first and then kick Booth's beautiful ass into gear second.

"Alright, Ellen. Let's go solve a murder before Cam has an aneurysm."

Brennan frowns as Angela pushes her toward the door and she just barely remembers to grab the x-ray off the counter. "I do not understand the sobriquet, but in any case, I prefer 'Bren.'"

"Aaand she's back."