I have a wonderful friend named Sarah. Sarah is the one of the nicest people in the world and I'm quite convinced out of any of the people I've ever known, if I could only pick one person to never have a bad day, Sarah should be the one.
But today is Tuesday and while it's not going to be a bad day (because it's not going to be a bad day if for no other reason, than because I freaking said so, universe), it's not going to be the best day Sarah's ever had either. So while I curse at the universe for upsetting Sarah in anyway and stretch my metaphorical octopus arms the approximately 270 miles in between us for all the hugs she can handle, I also offer up a story about one of Sarah's favorite things: stickers. More than once, she's improved my day or week with simple stickers or even talk of stickers… because nobody can really be mad or sad when someone stickers something for them. #truestory
Big, freaking huge octopus hugs and an army of chocolate soldiers and a house made of stickers, Sarah. Your whole 2D family loves and adores you bunches, all of us, and we've got your back. Or your front, in this case. That IS what she said. :)
"What's everyone standing around for? This meeting begins at 9:00 am sharp, not 9:01 or 9:05. Sit!" Booth growled and his team of FBI agents each quickly found a seat.
He hated meetings like this. He hated the formality. He hated the paperwork and the preparation that came with them since taking on a more senior role at the FBI. He hated his briefcase. It's not to say that he didn't appreciate the gesture or the time his wife took to pick one that she felt suited his needs. He did. But FBI agents should carry their badge and their gun. Accountants should carry a briefcase. And he was pretty sure someone at the FBI missed the memo on what his job what his job was supposed to entail.
He popped open the briefcase and nearly cringed at the sound, before taking out mass copies of documents he had prepared at home this morning. "You know the drill… take one, pass it," he ordered, as he brought his own notebook out to review the notes he wanted to hit regarding their latest case. Slowly, he noticed a growing snickering in the room and looked up from his notes.
A brave agent in the back of the room spoke up, turning the paperwork he had been passed toward Booth.
"Did I do anything specific to earn a rainbow on this report?" he asked, before the whole room started laughing, flashing their own copies toward him.
Booth looked around the table and saw rainbows and unicorns, stars and smiling suns spread throughout the various reports and not for the first ...and certainly not for the last... time, cursed his one-time friend, Angela Montenegro.
The night before…
Booth had just arrived back in town from the newest case he was overseeing, picking up his daughters from Angela's house along the way. Brennan stayed behind this case for the girls' sake, but he sent her the remains hours before his own departure back to D.C., so she was staying late at the lab to do her analysis.
"Hey babe," Booth said, greeting his wife as she finally made it home.
"Welcome home," Brennan responded in return, greeting him with an oh-so-domestic kiss in return, letting him hold her a moment. "Are they in bed yet?"
"Not yet," he said, both standing still so they could both tune into their youngest daughter running around down the hall. "They wanted you to read to them tonight and I got your text, so I told them they could wait up. Cause it's not like they missed me while I was… wait, why do you smell like fish?" he asked, getting a good whiff of her and making a face.
"Hodgins," she stated simply. It really did answer his question entirely. "I'm going to take a quick shower and then I'll tuck them in. I brought my initial findings home so we could go over them once I'm done," she stated, handing him the folders as she scurried to scrub the latest lab experiment out of her skin.
"Oh… Booth! There are X-rays in that folder. Don't let Lucy near them, please!" she shouted before she closed the bathroom door to begin her quick shower.
"They're X-rays, Bones," he whispered to himself, confused as to why, out of all the grotesque things they have to protect their daughters' impressionable eyes from, X-rays suddenly made her list. In fact, Brennan had been showing Lucy X-rays since she was an infant. Booth rarely hid his resentment that 'Mama' and 'rays' were her first two words, followed a week later by 'Dada.' Then Brennan would remind him that Hadley said his name first, so they were even. But Booth would then remind her that Hadley's 'Dada' sounded more like "Dodo" for the first month.
Booth's train of thought was interrupted when he heard a crash elsewhere in the house. Quickly locating the noise, Booth rushed into Hadley's room, only to find his daughter sprawled on top of a pile of books.
"Do I want to know what you were doing with those books?" Booth asked sternly, once he ascertained that Hadley was more frustrated than injured.
She paused for a moment to consider it, before answering, "Probably not."
Booth shook his head as he knelt to the floor and helped her pickup the books. "I'll make you a deal. This weekend, we'll go get a step ladder for you to use to reach your top shelf, if you promise me that from now on, all of your books, save for the one you're reading, stay on the shelves. No more makeshift ladders."
Hadley crossed her arms as she considered his offer. The weekend was three whole days away. Then again, falling off of her stack of books did hurt a little bit. After considering her options, she nodded in part-agreement, part-concession and held out her hand to shake on it.
He made to grab her hand, but instead surprised her by picking her up into a fireman's carry over his shoulders as he moved from the room to locate the rest of the women in the house.
Hadley giggled while being carried around the house, despite her lecture to him about Neanderthals habits of carrying women over their shoulders and how women have progressed since then and possess the ability to walk on their own two feet without a man's assistance.
The alpha-father and indignant daughter made it to the living room in time to find the youngest Booth happily decorating her mother's X-rays.
"Lucy!" Booth shouted in surprise, startling the little girl.
"Uh-oh…" Hadley sing-sang, grunting as her Dad put her to the floor.
"Whaaa… Lucy, you know better than to touch Mom's things."
"But they're pretty, Daddy. Angela says stickers make everything prettier."
"Of course she did," he muttered. Lucy took everything her aunt said literally, thinking back to the two rooms he had to repaint in the house after Angela's Lessons in Fingerpainting for a two-year-old. "You still aren't allowed to touch Mom's work, Lucy, no matter how pretty your stickers are," he reprimanded. But mostly, he was worried about the trouble he would be in, since Brennan had warned him about the X-rays to begin with.
Hadley, already wise in her years, patted her Dad's hand when she noticed his distress. "It's unlikely you would have been able to stop her for long, Dad. She's been stickering things all day," she said to comfort him.
Earlier that day…
"Mommy, Mommy, look!" Lucy said, running into her office and climbing into her mother's lap straightaway. "Angela got me a big book of stickers!"
Brennan managed to smile at her daughter while simultaneously scowling at Angela, who followed Lucy in to her office.
"Relax, Bren. Stickers aren't permanent like paint. And we discussed where she is and is not allowed to sticker."
"I'm not allowed to sticker any equipment in the lab. I am allowed to sticker any part of this canvas that I want to," she said, holding up the poster board she had dragged into the room with her.
Brennan continued to scowl at Angela, knowing Lucy was quite good at developing her own loopholes in any rule presented to her.
"You shouldn't sticker anything that doesn't belong to…" but Brennan's sentence got cut off as sirens began to go off in the lab. "Lucy, stay with Angela," she commanded, before running off to see what had caused the problem, closing her office door tightly behind her.
Though the lab was quickly declared safe, she was away from her office nearly 30 minutes, dealing with the clean-up and reprimanding of Hodgins for yet another experiment gone wrong. Upon entering again, she realized Hadley and Michael had joined Lucy and Angela, already sitting at her coffee table, doing their homework.
"Mom!" Hadley said upon spotting her, abandoning her work to greet her mother and update her on every class she had that day. She was up to recess when they heard Angela cry out.
"Lucy, no…" she moaned, too little too late.
Angela had taken to working on Brennan's couch, as she often on the days the kids all came to the lab after school and Michael had been consumed with his math homework. No one had noticed Lucy decorating the x-rays that had been within her reach.
"Look Mommy, they're the right stickers!" Lucy exclaimed proudly.
Brennan went and picked up the X-rays and gently attempted to remove one of them from the film. Immediately realizing this task would be impossible, she turned to Angela. "Relax, Bren. Stickers aren't permanent, like paint…"
It was such a dead-on impression of Angela's own words thrown back at her that she fell back to the couch laughing. Brennan bit back her own smirk before turning to scold Lucy. But Lucy was prepared for her defense.
"See, Mommy. Here's a smiley sticker for the head. And my heart sticker is where the heart would be. And there are diamond stickers for her ears. And a sunglasses sticker to protect her eyes. And…" Lucy's voice trailed off at the look her mother was giving her and she smiled wider, and shrugged her shoulders.
Brennan's eyes narrowed as she looked at her daughter's image of anything-but-pure-innocence… something she had learned to mimic from her father with precision. "Lucy, you know better than to touch what's not yours."
"Including my homework," Hadley said sadly, holding up a piece of notebook paper she had neatly handwritten, that now had a large rainbow sticker splayed across it.
"You did a good job and good papers get stickers!" Lucy exclaimed, pointing to the paper her sister held up.
"Oh, Hadley…" her mother started apologetically, but her daughter just sighed with a shrug of her shoulders.
"It's okay. I was considering rewriting it tonight, since I wasn't sure that I liked the third paragraph anyway. This will force me to restructure my argument."
"What argument could you possibly be restructuring in the second grade?" Angela asked exasperatedly, though she was never entirely surprised when Brennan's eight-year-old sounded like a graduate student.
"It's a proposal for our principal as to why we should extend recess for an extra 10 minutes each day."
"At least there's still an eight-year-old in that head of yours somewhere," Angela chuckled, more so after Hadley narrowed her eyes at Angela's crazy assertion that there was more than one person inside of her.
Brennan started to speak, but her phone buzzed and as she checked it, Angela spoke up instead. "Since I'm sure that was Booth and about the case, how about I take the crew home and feed them so you can work?" she asked, while signaling to the kids it was time to pack up.
"And Lucy and I will talk again about the importance of proper stickering etiquette."
Brennan knew her friend was attempting an apology and accepted that she would be able to accomplish more if she could work for the next two hours, rather than worry about the girls' dinner. Since Booth had been gone for the past two nights investigating their case, she had been on her own with the girls and was behind in nearly every way.
"Alright," she conceded, albeit gratefully. "I'll call you when one of us is ready to come pick them up."
Later that night…
"Sorry again about the X-rays," Booth said sheepishly, joining Brennan on the couch as she pulled out her notes and findings from the few hours she spent with the latest victim.
"Apparently, Angela's second 'talk' with Lucy about what should be stickered went just as well as the first."
"Well, I took the book and locked it away in my briefcase so if she considers sneaking out of her room to find them tonight, they're safe."
"You're using your briefcase as a sticker jail?"
"If that's what it takes…" he chuckled, interrupted by the ringing of Brennan's phone.
"Hey Angela," she answered. After a few moments, she laughed. "Oh… So your talk with Lucy went well, I see… yes, but you're the one who gave her the stickers… and you know she's at the stage in her development when she rebels against absolutely everything we say… Is Hodgins upset?... Good... I suppose since I still smell like fish, we can call it even, though I am sorry… okay, I'll see you tomorrow. Goodnight."
Booth had covered his eyes sometime during the conversation, only peeking through them once she had hung up.
"Do I want to know?" he asked.
"She must not have been able to get out of Angela's sight for too long, because she only managed to get five stickers arranged on one of Hodgins' cars in their garage."
Booth sighed before he chuckled. "You know what? I think I should feel bad, but it seems fair, seeing as how you still smell like a fish and I have to sleep next to you tonight," he said, laughing as he dodged her swatting hands before they turned their attention to the paperwork in front of them.
The next morning…
"But Angela said I should only sticker stuff that's mine. So I stickered the car because I really like it and when I asked Uncle Jack, he said I could have one like it someday."
"You said it yourself. A car like it, someday. That car is not your car right now, therefore, you are not allowed to put stickers on it," her mother reprimanded, as she helped her dress for school.
"But I want that car. And I put my stickers on it. So now it's mine…"
"That is not how it works. Which is why you aren't getting your book of stickers back. You can only have stickers when you know how to use them properly," Brennan continued. "And you have to apologize to your Uncle Jack and you can't watch any cartoons for the rest of the week."
Lucy pouted heartily, refusing to look at her mother anymore as she sat down at the table for breakfast. She only looked up when her Dad came walking into the room wearing a white shirt and his boxers, dropping his briefcase on to the table before dropping a kiss on her head.
"Booth, you're not dressed…" Brennan stated, pointing to the clock.
"How do you know I'm not just trying to make a fashion statement?" he asked cheekily.
"Showing up pantless to work isn't a fashion statement. It is, however, something that will get you six sessions with Sweets."
"Ooh, fair point," he said, pouring coffee quickly into a cup. "There's no chance you picked up any of my suits from the dry cleaner, is there?" he asked her sweetly.
She snapped her fingers in remembrance and grabbed her car keys to obtain them. "Eat your cereal, Luce," her Dad said before leaving the room to continue getting ready for the day.
Lucy looked at her cereal and she looked at her Dad's briefcase and she remembered watching him lock her stickers away in that briefcase. And when she leaned over and tapped on the case, she realized it locked at the moment. And inside, under a whole bunch of boring papers, was her sticker book.
"You can only have stickers when you know how to use them properly…" Lucy said, repeating her mother's words. Then she looked at the boring papers and back at her stickers and thought about it. Ms. Kaplan, her kindergarten teacher, always put stickers in the top left corner of her papers when she did a good job on something.
"I get it now," Lucy exclaimed to herself, and began put position stickers in the top left hand corner of each of the pages. "They could have just told me I was putting them in the wrong place…" she murmured as she finished beautifying her Daddy's paperwork.
Think lots of good thoughts for my friend Sarah this week, okay? :)