A/N: I'll try to keep this brief, and leave a longer note at the end. I just want to say that this chapter is the end of what may well be my final Bones fanfiction on this site. For those of you who will not read the end note, I want you to know that this ending was my intention from the very beginning; this was always how I intended to close out this story.

Please enjoy, and if you have never left me your thoughts... please do so just this once. Because if you choose not to follow me over to the Castle fandom (badge-and-pen is my username), this may be your last chance. Thank you all so much for reading.

Chapter 23

October 31st, 2011

Neither Booth nor Brennan was present during the arrest. When they awoke together, tangled in each others' arms in their master bedroom upstairs, it was the morning of Halloween and a simple email they had both received informed them that their suspect was in custody, awaiting questioning.

There was no argument; they were both attending the interrogation.

After Brennan's revelation, Booth and the others had put together the rest of the puzzle. One by one, things began to fall into place. It all made sense, when looked at from afar, and he almost couldn't believe he had missed the connection.

Brennan would have, too, though. If not for that one photo.

They stood together in the observation room, arms crossed, legs slightly spread. He couldn't tell if she was copying his posture, or if they just both naturally fell into these positions. Probably the latter, with the number of interrogations they had both attended over the years. They were due for some sort of free prize, he thought after a pause. Attend one hundred interrogations, receive a toaster.

Something to that effect.

"Ready?" he asked calmly.

She nodded; stone-faced, eyes blazing with determination. They were finally closing this case.

"I'm more ready for this than for tonight," she said quietly, and the ghost of a humored smile flitted across his lips. He put his hand on her lower back, and guided the both of them out the door.

They stepped into the interrogation room.

~BxBxBxBxBxB~

"You're sure you invited everyone?" Angela demanded, poking a finger at her husband.

"Yes! Everyone will be here!" he promised, raising his hands in trepidation. "Relax, Angie."

"This party… is the start of a tradition. It needs to be perfect. This is our first out-of-the-office Halloween party. It sets the tone for Thanksgiving, and Christmas…"

"I thought Booth and Brennan were hosting Thanksgiving this year?"

Angela pursed her lips. "Well, yes. But we won't get another shot at Halloween until 2013."

"Right. It has to be perfect," Hodgins agreed. She sensed the sarcasm and narrowed her eyes.

"Go hang cobwebs," she told him, shoving his shoulder. He bent in for a kiss, and she smiled into it, accepting it as a reasonable apology.

Michael cooed in his highchair, and she smiled easily, bending down and kissing the top of his head. He babbled slightly, large eyes staring up and tiny smile tilting on his face.

"You are going to be the cutest pumpkin anyone has ever seen," she told him, and he giggled. He liked the word pumpkin; a recent discovery Jack had made.

She and Jack were attending as characters from one of her old favorite television shows from the '90s, and she was fully prepared to paint some veins on her face to go with the black contact lenses and wig. Hodgins had refused to wear one, and honestly looked more like a reverend than any specific character. Booth and Brennan had failed to prepare costumes, which was just typical at this point, and Angela had been forced to improvise them into other characters from the fandom. Themed costumes had been on her bucket list, and it wasn't as if she was going to miss the opportunity. Once she streaked some blue into Brennan's hair and got her into the body-armor-like-outfit she would stand out—that had been a fight to convince her into, but Angela always got what she wanted, in the end—but Booth was just a lost cause. She gave him some fangs, told him to wear a trench coat, and hoped for the best. Hodgins claimed he saw a resemblance, but she just wasn't seeing it. Maybe if he had died his hair blonde he could have pulled off one of the other characters, but he had been very strongly opposed to that idea.

No matter the costumes, though; what really mattered about tonight was that it was memorable. After the past four months of chaos and near-death, with this case haunting them every day, it was about time they relaxed and celebrated. They had done it, after all. They had succeeded at the seemingly impossible.

All that was left to be done was the closing measures which Booth and Brennan were working on right now. Booth had told them all that it was more likely they'd be cutting a deal than going to trial. Either way, their portion of the investigation was done. They had caught the killer, and Shaw was out from undercover for good. The rest of this case, and everything involving the drug trafficking organization, would be passed off to the proper department.

They were finally done, and she was determined to clean all their hands of this case.

"Jack, do you think we picked up enough wine?" she called to the other room.

~BxBxBxBxBxB~

There was a knock at the door, and Sweets sat upright, turning his head towards the sound in surprise. He had just gotten pizza; he wasn't expecting any other intrusions tonight. He set down his piece of pepperoni, dropping a few magazines on top of the box to disguise the fact he was eating an entire pizza by himself.

He hadn't left the apartment since returning from Booth and Brennan's the night before. The arrest had been made, and he was satisfied. He had taken a week off from the office, and felt rather positive about it, despite the rather lonely start—what with the pizza and the Saved By the Bell reruns and the pajama pants he had been sporting all morning.

Shaw was on the other side of his door, and he stepped back, doing a double-take. Before Booth had called him, the two of them had been sitting and having a very civil conversation about spending some time apart from each other, to recover from this case and figure out where they stood. He'd had very limited hopes about where they might end up eventually, and he hadn't planned on making any final judgments, as far as their non-existent relationship went, for at least another few months.

Yet, here she was.

"I changed my mind," she said in a rush, dropping a bag on the threshold and pressing forward to kiss him. He stepped back as they collided, arms automatically reaching up to wrap around her.

When she pulled back she smiled at him breathlessly. "Can we make this work?" she asked tentatively, her face only inches from his. Her nose brushed his. He nodded, still catching his breath.

"Yeah, we can make this work," he said definitively.

~BxBxBxBxBxB~

The lab seemed deserted, with the rest of the team out. Wendell Bray paced across the platform, listening to the clapping echo of his footfalls on the smooth tile. He stopped by his station, reaching out to touch fingertips to the file that sat neatly in the center of his workspace. The fat file folder with the name Kaminski written in smooth sharpie on the tab.

It was really over.

There was a post-it on his computer monitor that told him Naomi from Paleontology was expecting his call. They had been chatting back and forth on-and-off since he had 'borrowed' that machine from downstairs. She had thought it was amusing. They hadn't met outside of work, but he wondered if they might, sometime soon. Perhaps after a few more exchanges of post-its. Perhaps after this phone call.

From the back of his desk he pulled out a thick stack of papers and looked at the sticky note attached to the front of it, just over the rubber band that held it all together.

You will make a wonderful addition to the anthropologists in our community, Mr. Bray.

It was signed Doctor Brennan.

It was his dissertation.

Determination of Velocity and Impact Force of Bullets from Long Range.

He would be defending it one week from today, something that had been gnawing at him for a long time. This case had allowed him to keep his focus away from the upcoming date.

He snapped the rubber band free, and flipped through the pages, letting the familiar words wash over him. His jaw was set in a firm line, his upper lip stiff. He swallowed, Adam's apple bobbing just slightly. His gaze wandered from the smooth lines of text to the framed photograph on his workspace.

He stood in a line with three other interns. To his left were Fisher and Daisy.

To his right stood Vincent Nigel-Murray.

~BxBxBxBxBxB~

Dr. Camille Saroyan rarely appreciated her job as much as she did on days like this. The daily gruel all made a lot more sense when a case was closed. Four months of waiting, four months of working their asses off and finding no relief, four months of feeling utterly pointless… and finally it had amounted to something.

"I didn't see anything on the news," Michelle commented, poking her head into the kitchen. "But you clearly closed that case. What happened?"

Michelle knew her far too well. "It turned out that we were looking the wrong way the entire time," she explained. "There won't be anything on the news; we may have solved the murder, but there's a lot more to the investigation."

"And it's all confidential," Michelle guessed, raising an eyebrow.

Cam shrugged apologetically. "Will some take-out for lunch make your curiosity go away?"

"Probably not. But what might do the trick would be your permission to go to this Halloween party tonight. No alcohol or drugs, I promise."

"You'll call me if you need me to pick you up?" Cam said, pointing a finger firmly. Michelle bobbed her head immediately, eyes lighting up.

"Thank you!" the teenager said, giving her a hug and disappearing back into the other room. Cam sighed and turned her attention back to the dirty dishes in the sink. She had a party to go to tonight, as well. There was some sort of ridiculous vampire-inspired costume that Angela had dropped off for her.

~BxBxBxBxBxB~

"This is what gave you away," Brennan said, sliding a photograph across the interrogation table. It was the one from her screen the night before, the one of Cara Madison's smiling face.

Taylor glanced at it, her lips set in a hard line.

"Do you want to know why?" Brennan continued. Taylor still said nothing. Brennan tapped the corner of the image. "This image is cropped. There was another person in the picture… someone who was cut out so this picture could be used as a reference in Cara's case file."

Booth placed the other image beside it.

It was a full picture, taken from the frame in Kaminski's apartment. He was the other person in the image, with his arm looped around Cara's shoulders.

Taylor looked away, glaring at the wall to her right.

"Your sister was involved with Nathan Kaminski, about two years ago," Booth explained, although they all knew that Taylor was already aware of that. "We talked to the neighbors. Showed them this picture. They remembered her. And they remembered what happened."

"He broke her heart!" Taylor snapped viciously, biting back tears. Whether they were from anger or pain, Brennan couldn't tell. "They were together for a whole year, and the entire time…" she sniffed, looking away and crossing her arms tightly over her chest.

"We know," Booth said calmly. "Your sister got you that job at Blue Fish, and you stayed even after she took her own life. And then you saw Kaminski, coming to that club night after night. Taking home girls, just like he did when your sister was alive. You couldn't handle that."

Taylor said nothing, but her posture and her expression were familiar to Brennan; they conveyed defeat.

"But you knew that Kaminski was looking into the illegal operation running behind the scenes in your club," Booth continued. "And you saw a way to take out two birds with one stone. When Kaminski approached you, to see if you were in on the operation or willing to talk, you went home with him."

"You stabbed him three times, and he bled to death," Brennan filled in. "You went home and disposed of the evidence, leaving the laptop behind because you knew it would incriminate your bosses. Shadwick was merely sent to steal the laptop, knowing that Kaminski was on to them. He must have been shocked when he found the dead body as well.

"The FBI searched your former residence this morning; they found the knife under your floorboards, and the bloody clothing. You involved yourself in our investigation, both for protection and to keep track of our progress. You had a safe house and patrol cars visiting periodically, but you had plenty of leeway to slip out as you pleased. You couldn't risk us making a connection to you, so when Dr. Sweets and I went back to the apartment you realized you didn't know what we would find. So you came to stop us, but you didn't plan well enough. I had already seen that photograph, and Sweets was blocking the door. You took what you could and fled."

The other woman pursed her lips, cutting her eyes towards Booth. Right on cue. He leaned forward and put his elbows on the table, folding his hands together.

"If you cooperate with Agent Culver's investigation and help take down the drug traffickers, we can offer you protection. The DA is willing to take prison time off the table."

"What does that mean?" Taylor asked, her voice strained and off-pitch. She swiped at her eyes.

"It means that if you give us a written confession for the murder of Nathan Kaminski and then become a witness against your former bosses, you will be placed in Witness Protection in a form of house arrest, indefinitely."

Taylor glanced between the two of them for a moment, and then gave the smallest of nods.

~BxBxBxBxBxB~

"So it really had nothing to do with the drug trafficking," Angela said with a shake of her head. Booth blinked, still getting used to her costume. He had no idea where she had found the black contacts, but they were disconcerting. As were the dark veins she'd drawn on her face and the short, dark hair. The leather outfit was… interesting.

He was wearing a dark coat and fangs. Angela had tried to drag him off to put make-up on his face, insisting he looked 'wrong,' but he had been very adamant that that was never happening. He didn't even know what he was dressed up as. Or why Angela seemed to be enjoying it so much. Brennan, oddly enough, had no complaints about her outfit. For the most part.

"The markings on this armor are incorrect," she pointed out to Angela. "And technically, I should have contacts similar to yours, to create a more cold, reptilian look."

"Did everyone watch this show but me?" he muttered, taking another large gulp from his wine glass. A plastic eyeball bobbed in it.

Brennan shook her head. "I watched it in recognition of a sub-culture of science fiction cult-television. It's a fascinating phenomenon bases around certain actors and creators. There's a very interesting culmination of factors that create the 'cult' effect around an otherwise mundane—"

Angela punched her in the arm. "It's not mundane, sweetie. We've been over this."

Brennan scowled, and then turned back to Booth. "It was an anthropological study."

"…Right. I still don't get it."

"You don't get what?" Sweets asked, joining them. Booth almost choked on his drink as he laughed.

"When did you get here?" he asked, looking the psychologist up and down. He was wearing round spectacles and a suit. "And what are you supposed to be?"

"What, seriously?" Sweets demanded. "Season three?" Booth gave him a bored look, and the shrink sighed. "Never mind. And Angela provided this, anyways. And Genny's, too." The young FBI Agent was wearing a sparkling sequence dress and spike heels, her hair in waves.

"And this is all from the same… theme thing that Angela picked out?"

"I already explained—" Brennan started, but Booth raised a hand to cut her off. He had to admit, the blue streaks in her hair were fascinating him, no matter how odd the costumes were. She would look stunning in anything, but these accented her already brilliant eyes. And the outfit hugged every curve.

Wendell passed by, blonde hair slicked back and a long black trench coat trailing behind him. Booth snorted. Angela had way too much power over these people.

"So I heard Taylor took the deal," Sweets said, and Booth was grateful for the subject change. For once, he didn't mind talking about the case outside of work. It was over, now. They were discussing success rather than frustration.

"Yes, she did. It wouldn't have made sense for her to refuse," Brennan put in.

"You think we'll get the head of the drug operation."

"I know we won't," Booth said with a shrug. "But Culver might. Not my job anymore."

Sweets sighed. "It's still mine; they want me to continue consulting on the investigation."

Booth clapped him on the shoulder. "Well, keep us in the loop."

The psychologist looked less than thrilled.

"So… her sister killed herself over Kaminski?" Angela asked, dragging them back on focus.

"Right," Booth answered. "She already had some relationship issues and a rather unhappy backstory. Kaminski's betrayal put her into a deep depression."

Angela shook her head. "Not to speak ill of the dead… but that guy was a jackass."

"He was," Booth agreed, not arguing the point, "But he did try to single-handedly take down a drug ring. That might make him stupid, but at least there was some good in him."

Angela shrugged her agreement. "It feels like she got away with it, though, doesn't it?"

Brennan's expression had darkened.

"Not entirely," Booth said, looking more at her as he said it than at Angela. "She'll be living under constant supervision, and risking her life to testify against the traffickers that she used to work with. In a lot of ways… she's being forced to finish what Kaminski started."

"Kind of poetic," Hodgins said, having just joined their group.

The others nodded solemnly.

"Enough of this talk!" Angela burst out. "It's Halloween; we're going to party properly! Cam! Wendell! Come on, let's go do something cheesy and completely non-work-related… like charades."

"Or shots," Cam suggested pointedly. "Not all of us are old and married, you know," she teased. She was wearing an afro wig and a coat similar to Wendell's and looking highly uncomfortable. Booth decided he wasn't going to ask Angela where she had gotten all of these things.

Angela sighed. "Fine, you can include shots. I'll stick to the sober train with Brennan. Somebody has to keep an eye on Michael tonight." She turned to Brennan and added conspiratorially, "Sometime after your little junior arrives, you and me are going to take a night for ourselves and leave our men with the kids."

Brennan laughed. "You know, I think I can agree to that plan."

Booth leaned in to kiss her. Michael clapped his hands in his pumpkin outfit a few feet away, bubbling with laughter, and Booth imagined their daughter, one year from today, clapping her perfect little hands and wearing something equally as adorable—maybe a ladybug costume like had caught Brennan looking at in the store.

He kissed her again, and she laughed against his lips as he pulled her to him.

They had survived. Their family was whole, and he had Bones, now. Forever.

~BxBxBxBxBxB~

June 15th, 2012

His name was Anthony Ridley. He wore a faded green jumpsuit and an orange hardhat and carried a black bag slung over his shoulder. He showed his badge to the doorman and was directed towards the elevator and handed a set of keys.

The building had a problem with the water tank on the roof. Apparently. The elevator let him off on the top floor, and he let himself through the door that he found directly ahead with the key he had been given.

Fake stones moved slightly underfoot as he crossed the distance to the edge of the roof. He set down his black bag, and raised a hand to shield his eyes. He took off his spectacles and shoved them in the front pocket of the jumpsuit. There it was: fifteen degrees southwest.

Unzipping the black bag, he extracted the binoculars that sat on top and adjusted them, dropping to one knee and focusing on his target. It was a quiet little house in a quiet little neighborhood. A fence surrounded the back yard, and it was still in the process of being painted. He could see a tree house in progress, and a new pool. The house was not new, but it was a recent purchase. He remembered that from his research.

Yesterday's newspaper headline had read 'Key Witness in Delgado Drug Trafficking Trial Killed.' He already knew what tomorrow's headline would read. Or, at least… he had a couple of very good guesses.

He enjoyed his job. It was a new experience every day. A new challenge.

Anthony Ridley had a large snake tattoo coming up the side of his neck and onto his face, by his ear. He had thick bushy eyebrows and a mustache. He was a menial worker who tipped his hat when people said hello but wasn't easy about giving away a smile. He had a small family and a plump wife who liked to bake in the early morning hours. His parents had divorced when he was three, and his mother had raised him.

Anthony Ridley was a normal man.

He extracted his tools from the black bag, assembling his sniper rifle with calm ease. He took his time, feeling the cool weight of the metal in his hands.

He was not Anthony Ridley.

It would have been easy for him to set up in a rush and get this done with, but he knew that he had some time to burn. The job was demanding; sometimes he could spend hours simply waiting, watching through the scope for the right moment.

If there was one thing he hated, it was being rushed. That was the problem with America… everyone was so caught up with what time it was. Rushing to appointments, counting the minutes and the seconds. No, he savored every heartbeat and allowed it to take its own time.

All things in due course.

He dumped out the remaining contents of his bag, and stuffed the orange hat away in it, spreading himself out on the roof and beginning the artful process of disguise. The leaf blanket he draped over himself was a particular favorite of his. It blended in well in any location, and disguised his shape so as to not be recognized as a human being with a gun. He had created it himself.

It was one of his most prized possessions.

When the scope was lined up he hummed lightly to himself, noting the wind and the location of the sun in the sky. Just past noon. His timing should be pretty close… he had taken careful note when doing his observations this morning.

He was never wrong.

First came the small red car, with the blonde woman and the little boy with his curly hair. When they stepped out of the vehicle, the front door opened and the owner's stepped out. The brunette was the renowned doctor of anthropology, the man with her was her FBI Agent fiancé. The engagement had landed in the same neighborhood as one of his appointments a few weeks prior.

How sweet.

She carried the small bundle in her arms. He had seen that announcement as well, a little over a month ago. A little girl, wrapped in a pastel green blanket. The anthropologist had issues with the oppression of gender conventions.

This was his favorite part. Watching the everyday. 'Playing God,' one might call it. The decisions rested in his hands. His finger stroked the trigger.

He had always enjoyed his job.

The blonde was leaving, and the family, now with the addition of the little boy, disappeared inside.

Next would be the rich entomologist and his artist wife. When they arrived, the group moved outside and sat in lawn chairs. The baby stayed in the anthropologist's arms, but the older child, the one that belonged to the new arrivals, toddled around in the grass, pushing a little red fire truck as his parents looked on.

They all stood when the psychologist and his pregnant FBI girlfriend made their arrival. He hovered on the shrink's face, watching the changes in expression.

There was a reason he was here today.

His employer was not much with details beyond a name and an address, but he always enjoyed filling in the backstory before completing a job. And because he always completed his jobs, none of his clients were ever dissatisfied with his methods and quirks.

There was a trial going on, and there were some people testifying. The shrink was on that list, along with the young FBI agent and the one engaged to the anthropologist. There was another of note, and as he watched the SUV pulled up to the curb. Yet another, albeit older, FBI Agent. He didn't seem interested in staying, and he frowned in disappointment. He needed them all together. That was what he had envisioned for this job. It simply wasn't satisfying if they didn't come in a pack.

Of course, he did only need the one of them for payment.

He focused back on the scene.

The agent was telling them the details of the Taylor Madison murder. He didn't need to be able to read lips to know that. The homeowner was setting up a grill… and the older agent accepted the chair that the entomologist brought over for him.

He nodded to himself. Excellent.

A few more arrivals… the coroner, who was also a key player in the trial, and the new anthropologist who had accepted a full time position with the others at the lab.

He wasn't quite sure of the holiday they were entertaining this evening. He had known that it was scheduled; it was the reason he was here, now; but he had not learned the purpose. Just a get-together, he supposed. It was summer… people felt the need to cook things outdoors and sit in their lawns.

He would never understand them.

As much as he preferred to keep time out of his equation, he was aware that he didn't have forever on this rooftop. It could only take so long to fix the imaginary problem with the water tank. Taking a calming breath, he smiled and gave himself a few moments to drink in the scene. The setting for his latest piece. It would be splashed across the papers by morning.

He hovered over his target, watching the smiles, the conversation. He waited, letting his heartbeat slow to a muted thrum. His finger ran along the trigger, curling smoothly around it and finding the familiar groove. As natural as holding a pencil. Maybe more so.

His target stood, to get themselves their own burger, perhaps. It didn't matter.

His heart gave a slow, easy beat, and he pulled the trigger.

Fin.

And here comes the long note that I promised at the start. First off, a huge thank you to all the wonderful people who have read this story. That means you! I am just so grateful to have people out there who are actually interested in my writing, who don't turn away after the first chapter and stick with me all the way until the conclusion.

As I said at the beginning, that ending was in my plans from the very beginning. It wasn't something I thought up on the spot; it was in the drafting process from May of 2010.

Secondly, I want to say that it has been absolutely wonderful being a part of the Bones fandom on this site for the past three and a half years. I have never come across such wonderful, enthusiastic, kind people on the internet as I have found in this place. I wish I were not leaving, but the show holds no joy for me anymore.

If you are a Castle fan (and you should be-it is a brilliant, witty creation that plays through character chemistry while maintaining fascinating cases. If you have loved Bones as I have, then you should check it out. When I first found Castle, I was a vehement fan of both series, and found them both wonderfully unique and yet connected in their character chemistry. And for goodness sake, I am not comparing the two in a negative way. I'm saying that you should check out Castle if you love Bones in the same way that you should check out Buffy the Vampire Slayer if you love Firefly! Which you should also do, by the way. Great shows, both of them.) then I hope you will take a moment to give my new Castle story a look. I am going by the name badge-and-pen.

Why am I no longer writing Bones fanfiction? Excellent question. If you don't want to hear my opinions (and I don't blame you, as I myself read a long essay on another reader's reasons for leaving the fandom a few years ago and immediately regretted it) then please, just don't read the note. Only read if you actually care about why I am leaving. You can find it on my profile, as it is better suited there than here.

Thanks again to all of you.

Farewell!