Today is eitoph's birthday. We've got a lot of names for our girl; eitoph, E, Resident Genius, Mob Genius, Fic Genius (sensing a theme here?)... but the most fitting is probably Magic E. Because she truly is magical. She has a gift for words and ideas and everything she creates carries such beauty, magic is, quite obviously, just in her nature. But I guess you guys know that already. My point is, it's hard to create anything for the magic genius who is entirely capable of creating it herself, but this piece is all about the try. Happy birthday, most lovely E. May it be fantastic.


Tell Me Something That'll Change Me

Oh I've been wandering 'round,
But I still come back to you.

You're My Best Friend, Queen

Angela has never had a friend like Temperance Brennan, but Brennan has never had a friend like Angela either. So due to a perfect combination of curiosity and natural chemistry, their relationship sparks quickly and flourishes. They're opposite in many ways, but they each possess candid natures that make it difficult to offend one another in traditional senses. Angela finds the honesty between them refreshing; Brennan doesn't quite understand half the things Angela says (in the beginning), but she understands that, for whatever reason, this woman is determined to be her friend. And (most of the time) she enjoys the different sort of way Angela's mind functions from her own.

Things change as their team becomes a Team. Angela has always tried to distance herself from the work that they do; tried to consider herself a separate breed, a freer breed than the scientists who have become her coworkers. Than her best friend. But one comment stimulates change.

"You're actually one of them."

"One of who?"

"A squint. I mean, you look normal and you act normal, but you're actually one of them."

She realises that she has become one of them. She tells herself that she's still a painter. A struggling artist. But she's found a place here the way they all have, and her old identity and her new one have moulded together and created someone different without her expressed permission or knowledge.

Change strikes again (it's a slip, really) and it happens because she's unhappy.

"How are we friends? How is it possible? We have nothing in common."

She's always been self aware and she can scrutinise her own behaviour as easily as she does the behaviour of others when she so desires. She gets that she had been a little mad at Hodgins and a little mad at herself and a little mad at Brennan for not just going along with this one thing she had latched onto in a roundabout attempt to pull herself out of her funk.

The words wound, yet she never says sorry and it becomes one of those little things that sort of eat away at her every once in a while. Even though the event is long in the past.

Then there's yet another change. It's slow and it's gradual, and within the span of a year – by no one person's fault – the Team is coasting as a vague team and they're hardly recognisable.

It's sometime around Valentine's Day and Angela notices, really notices, how different things are between herself and the woman she has long since come to consider her best friend. They don't connect in quite the same way that she remembers. And it takes this commercial holiday, when Brennan fields phone call after phone call from desperate men who all have names she doesn't recognise (though there had been a time not so long ago when she had known the dirt on every cute date and random fuck in Brennan's book), for her to realise that there are these new, awful, uncomfortable gaps in what she now knows about her closest friend.

"So, who's the lucky guy taking you out tomorrow night?"

She winks conspiratorially because there's still this part of her that wants to believe they can be normal as long as she can just start them off as if they are normal. As if this isn't the first time they've had this kind of girl talk since before Brennan went to Maluku and she went to Paris and everything, everything, became this special kind of fucked up.

She doesn't miss the slightly guarded, almost imperceptible narrowing of Brennan's eyes. She can practically see the wheels turning in Brennan's genius brain as she tries to figure out whether or not there's an angle to this line of questioning she's just not seeing, and the thought pulls at Angela more than she would ever let on.

"I do not have any plans for tomorrow night."

"Are you kidding? Brennan, your phone has been ringing nonstop. One of them has got to be cute."

Brennan shakes her head and focuses once more on her computer screen. "I find all of them to be... less than stimulating. I'm not interested."

Angela thinks back to nights squandered in Brennan's apartment under the guise of novel research, when copious amounts of wine had inevitably brought them to the point they became uncharacteristically silly and prone to fits of laughter more befitting girls half their age.

"You slept with Scott, didn't you?"

"Of course I did! He's very attractive. Also, he has this unique method of twisting his fingers when he-

"Oh, don't brag. Not unless you're planning to share him."

She's pregnant now and wine hasn't been in the cards for her in months, but when she tries to remember the last time they have had a night in, even without the influence of wine, she finds that she can't.

There has never been any one fight between them; no dramatised moment. But it's clear that two friends have drifted apart into separate lives and temporarily lost what it is that had made them so compatible in the first place.

"What about Booth?" Angela refocuses on the conversation at hand. "He can't have any plans."

Brennan makes that hyper cautious face again. Angela knows the two partners have been in an awkward place since returning to D.C. (maybe even before then) but Brennan's reluctance to discuss him at all is telling.

"Booth doesn't believe that Valentine's Day qualifies as a legitimate holiday worthy of celebration," Brennan answers carefully.

"Yeah, bad breakup and all that. I get it. It doesn't mean you guys can't just hang out... maybe get some dinner?"

The wariness in Brennan's face is replaced with irritation. "Leave it alone, Angela."

It's not a good natured protest, it's genuine annoyance and it's been a while since Angela has seen it directed at her.

So she leaves it alone. But when she thinks about this exchange, another exchange from weeks ago begins to take on new meaning as well.

"I hate Hannah. I wish she'd go away."

"I don't have the power to make that happen."

"Well, you probably do, honey, but you just don't know how to use it."

At the time, Angela had been rather focused on passively expressing her Hannah jealousy; though she and Brennan hadn't been spending much time together outside of work, there had been no questioning that Brennan was her friend, and seeing her person hanging around another person – a person she didn't like – hadn't left her feeling especially charitable. But today she sees the scene the way she should have been able to see it the first time around. There had been that same careful tone, the same careful expression then that she sees now. She realises that there is so much more to all of this than what she knows. And whatever it is, it's big.

Brennan hasn't talked to her about it and Angela wonders if she has talked to anyone else. Somewhere deep inside herself, Angela knows that she hasn't. That Brennan has struggled with the weight of this huge thing alone. And while she seems strong, stronger than she had been during the case with the surgeon, it kills Angela a little bit to realise that Brennan had been forced to keep treading water until the tides finally changed and mercifully pushed her toward the shore.

And Angela vows to be better.

They go shopping. Brennan keeps her calm and makes her feel less like hitting people while standing in the ridiculous lines at the baby boutiques. They go out for dinner. They have coffee dates on weekends. They reconnect easily and it's an almost overwhelming lesson in how far a little bit of effort can actually go.

It's on one of these dates a few weeks later that Angela broaches the subject of Booth again.

"How are you and our wayward FBI guy doing?"

Brennan sets down her mug and tilts her head pensively.

"We are... okay," she decides. "Booth made me burn a piece of paper. It wasn't at all scientific, but the moment was nice."

One corner of Brennan's mouth lifts into that little half smile she has when she tries to moderate the visible extent of her happiness, and though the pyrotechnical aspect has Angela puzzled, she doesn't push for more details. In Brennan's face there is hope, and that's all the artist really needs to see.

Weeks pass and then Vincent Nigel-Murray is murdered, and in the aftermath of a great tragedy, something amazing begins.

"I got into bed with Booth last night."

Angela is rendered speechless. She's always firmly believed that she would know, with one brief first glance, the moment Booth and Brennan took that next step. She's noticed that Booth has been gradually increasing his presence in the lab and lunch has become an almost daily thing between the partners again, but when he had dropped Brennan off in the morning, there had been other things on Angela's mind and she hadn't been watching them particularly closely.

The truth is, none of them watch Booth and Brennan particularly closely anymore. The covert glances, the kind words and protective actions and feigned oblivious laughter through moments charged with sexual tension... at some point these almost-moments have stopped being heart-warming and become grounds for something more akin to pity. The members of the team, after holding their breaths for more than half a decade, have all given up on the will-they-or-won't-they couple and now try to avoid staring at what remains of this thing they had all believed could have been so great.

And maybe Angela hadn't seen this right away like she had anticipated, but she knows, she knows, that Brennan and Booth won't fall apart again. Not after everything they've endured to reach this point. Her two friends have crossed a line and she feels good; like catching Broadsky and putting her heart back together post-Vincent and world peace and Utopia are all not only possible, but this close to being reality.

She really does want to yell 'Hallelujah.'


The first night, they're together because of what Broadsky has taken. The second night, they're together because of what Broadsky could have taken. The nights that follow are a blur and it takes nearly a week for the paperwork to be filed and the media to move on and Booth and Brennan to be together not because of (insert crisis here), but simply, because.

It is on one of these just because nights, while they're lying in her bed, chests heaving, that Brennan finally remembers something important.

"I told Angela."

They've never explicitly expressed any desire to keep their move forward a secret, but it seems to be working out that way and there's a part of her that is concerned this counts as some sort of betrayal.

He chuckles. "I kind of assumed you would, Bones. You tell her everything."

Brennan stills the hand that has been unconsciously tracing patterns on his chest, and pushes up on her elbows to look him in the eye as best as she can in the dark.

"Not everything."

"It's okay, you know," he assures her casually. "She's your best friend."

"Yes." She's quiet a moment. "She's being very nice to me."

Booth laughs again and entangles his fingers in her hair. "Why do you sound so suspicious? I'm nice to you."

"You're not always nice to me."

"Sure I am."

"No, you're not."

"Well, you're not always nice to me either."

Brennan considers this and then nods. "That's true." She comes back to her original thought, quickly warming to her topic as she realises that Booth is genuinely okay with her slip. "She's very excited. She keeps staring at me."

"She's happy for you."

"I think she's trying to imagine us having intercourse. She no longer finds sex comfortable; I'm sure she misses it."

Booth groans. "Okay, new rule; no talking about Angela while we're in bed."

"This is my apartment; why are you trying to make rules?"

"To preserve my sanity, Bones," Booth responds dryly. "I don't want to think about Angela thinking about... that. Especially when we're like this."

"Naked?"

He can't help sighing but he can hear the smile in her voice, and that stubbornness they share rises to the silent challenge. "Yes. Naked."

She releases that low laugh he loves so much and nips playfully at his chest.

"We're going to be okay, Booth."

"You and me?" He hasn't really allowed himself to dwell on the possible impermanence of having exactly what he's wanted for so long, but her unexpectedly confident tone strikes a chord deep within him.

"You and I, the team; we are all of us going to be okay."

She has Booth, she has Angela, and her institution of logic and reason is still standing. They've lost a member of their team, but this has happened before and she knows that scar tissue smothers all wounds with the passing of enough time. Metaphorically. The pain will dull and she can bear it.

Booth similarly feels as if he is finally remembering hope; regaining his faith day by day, small steps at a time. There have been bright spots in this year, even bright spots in his relationship with Hannah, but nothing has fit and everything had fallen apart, and now things are on their way to being... right. He has tunnelled his way out of a dark hole, and at last, there is sunlight.

But he can't quite bring himself to admit these things aloud. Not yet. Baby steps.

"Of course we will, Bones," he agrees easily.


The next day is Saturday, and because Brennan is feeling energetic and can't sleep while Angela is nearing the end of her pregnancy and simply doesn't sleep, a series of texts leads to a meeting in Brennan's kitchen and the promise of breakfast.

"I drove past a new cafe on 23rd Street the other day; feel like checking it out?"

Brennan shrugs indifferently as she flips the switch to start her coffee machine. "Sure."

"Sweetie, we're leaving in like five minutes," Angela frowns. "Why are you making coffee?"

"Because Booth will be awake soon," she responds absently.

Angela straightens in her chair. She can feel the slack jawed expression that she seems to be wearing a lot lately where Brennan and Booth are concerned making yet another appearance on her face.

"Booth is here? Now?"

She automatically turns her head toward the hall and Brennan freezes in place.

"Angela-

"Does he spend the night often?"

"I wouldn't say often-

"How many nights a week?"

Brennan smirks cockily in response and Angela vaguely considers making a break for the bedroom in pursuit of visual confirmation. Then she ultimately decides that even naked Booth isn't worth the effort it would take to get out of her chair. But the Gods are smiling on her; not three minutes later, Booth shuffles through the doorway in all his dishevelled morning glory.

Brennan's face softens. "Hi."

"Morning," he returns gravelly. "Hey, Angela."

"Hey," Angela answers with obvious appreciation.

"Angela and I are going to get breakfast. Would you like to come?"

Booth yawns and shakes his head. "Nah, you guys go ahead."

She nods and then wanders off to retrieve her wallet, leaving Booth to eye the artist warily. Brennan's offhand comments from the night before are still very much on his mind, though he wishes they weren't.

Angela isn't feeling up to giving him the third degree, but she finds it satisfying nonetheless to see how easily she can make him squirm.

He reaches for the coffee pot and tries to be casual. "How's the kid treating you?"

She gives him a tired smile. "You know how some women seem to just love being pregnant? Turns out, I'm not one of them. I'm over it. This baby cannot come soon enough."

Booth is smart enough not to do anything but nod in response, and Angela absently wishes Hodgins could do the same.

He seems at home here in Brennan's kitchen. She thinks back to a Christmas dinner years ago - when Booth had moved about the apartment as if he lived in it without any conscious awareness - and then her thoughts turn to Brennan's last dinner party. When, for the first time she can remember, she had actually arrived before Booth. And when he had arrived – with Hannah – he had been a guest. A polite guest who had come bearing wine and would have undoubtedly left at a reasonable hour had the body not called them all away first.

She had been a polite guest that night as well.

She really wonders how it had taken her so long to notice.

"This has been a weird year," she muses aloud.

Booth pauses with his mug halfway to his mouth and then takes a careful sip. 'Weird' isn't the word that immediately comes to mind for him, but he's willing to accept it.

"Yeah. It's been... something."

"But we're going to be okay. All of us."

His eyebrows go up and then he laughs, although Angela isn't sure why. Before she can ask, however, Brennan returns with her coat in hand.

"Ready?"

Angela nods and rises from her chair. "Yeah; let's get out of here before I have to pee again."

Booth and Brennan glance at one another, and then at Angela, and then their eyes meet again. There's awkward uncertainty to be seen in both of them at first, but with one final glance in Angela's direction, Brennan huffs, rolls her eyes, closes the step between them and rocks onto her toes to kiss Booth quickly on the mouth.

"Bye."

She turns on her heel and shrugs on her coat as she leaves the room without a backward glance, so she misses Booth's stunned-but-pleased expression and the way his tongue peeks out to taste her on his lower lip.

Angela hides a smile as she follows her friend.

Inside, she's doing cartwheels.


The day that Brennan's doctor confirms her pregnancy suspicions, the breeze is cool and gentle, the sun is bright, and the air smells fresh and clean. Spring is giving way to summer, and Brennan takes a moment to look up at the sky and blink until she no longer feels the telltale burning behind her eyes that precedes tears. When she hears the door open behind her she locks her jaw and briskly descends the steps, and she can't remember exactly where she parked her car but the important thing right now is to just keep walking.

She's pregnant. Four months ago she and Booth had barely even been speaking to one another outside of work and now she's pregnant. I can't change and Maluku and Afghanistan and Hannah and I'm with someone and Broadsky and Vincent and she's pregnant.

She's been spending too much time around Booth as of late, because all she can think is that they just can't seem to catch a break. And she is tired of the universe kicking her when she's already down.

But contrary to what she would like to believe, Temperance Brennan can handle change. She adapts, even when the process is painful. Even when she'd rather not. So she finds her car and she steps gracefully inside, and she breathes and allows herself one more brief moment of self pity before putting her vehicle in gear and heading back to work.

Except it's not as easy as that. Not anymore. She can compartmentalise a lot of things but she can't not think about the life developing inside of her. She's as pregnant now as she had been yesterday and the day before, but now she knows and everything is different. There's no going back to when she could have been just stressed or sick or tired.

Angela becomes a source of new fascination for her. Brennan studies her friend's movements and limitations and tries to apply the data to her own physique. She's in tune with her body and she can already tell it's changing, but the degree to which it will change is difficult to process in personal terms as opposed to scientific ones. She comes close to telling Booth a handful of times – during dinner, in the car, while he's watching television, late at night in the dark of his bedroom – but she chokes on the words. Every time.

It's only a few days later that she finds herself undercover with Booth, and she's elated. She's always loved undercover work but now the chance to be someone besides herself – even for just a little while – feels wonderful. Wanda is fun and brave and talented, and she's not pregnant. Buck and Wanda are happy together and comfortable and engaged to be engaged, and she doesn't have to think about this baby that is too soon too soon too soon for Booth and Brennan to handle.

Then Wanda meets Amber.

Game over.

While Brennan isn't always comfortable around children, most children seem to be remarkably comfortable around her. She's never thought about it particularly hard before but now it's occurring to her that it wouldn't be beyond possible for her to have a child exactly like this one.

And the thought is horrifying.

The world is fraught with opposites; for every Parker, there is probably an Amber. Anyone who would willingly and intentionally take that risk had to be insane.

When Angela calls her from the lab, Brennan knows she's supposed to keep the conversation brief and case related, but she can't help drifting once the important pieces have been covered.

"Do you worry that you may not like your progeny?" she blurts.

"What?" Angela laughs. "No. No, Brennan. Of course not. I already love this baby... once it finally gets here I'll love it even more."

"There's a girl here... her name is Amber. She's a very... disagreeable child."

"Well, I'm sure that her parents are to blame for a lot of that," Angela retorts.

"Why?"

"There are some bad seeds out there, I can acknowledge that. But the truth is, a lot of people are lazy or negligent or a combination of the two and just can't be bothered to teach their kids manners."

"Do you really believe that?"

"Sure."

Angela begins to elaborate, but Brennan can see Booth looking around the alley – most likely for her – and she ends the conversation abruptly.

"I have to go, Ange. Booth is waiting."

The words stay with her though. She latches on to this small ray of comfort and repeats the theory to herself at every opportunity. She may not have much in terms of parenting experience, but Booth does, and she is capable of learning anything she believes to be worth learning. The odds are in their favour.

"If Buck and I ever have a child, she will not turn out like Amber."

"If we ever had a child like that, Buck..."

By the time they make an arrest, Brennan has repeated this so many times she almost believes it completely. But then they go to the hospital and there isn't anything for her to do in the waiting room except think.

She thinks about family and relationships and the sins of parents and the way things go right and the way things go wrong.

She thinks about how illogical it is to know she's going to have this baby even though the timing is awful and it could cost her the tentative peace she's found with Booth.

She comes this close to absently touching her abdomen before she catches herself and fists her hands in the material of her pants instead, and when Booth automatically moves to sit beside her, it's too much.

"You should find some coffee."

He freezes halfway between standing and sitting. "What? No, I'm okay."

"Are you sure?"

A beat passes.

"Do you want coffee?" he asks, obviously puzzled.

"No," she admits.

"You're really quiet... Angela's gonna be fine, Bones. Stop worrying."

"I'm not worried."

He gives her a half smile and then he goes to get that coffee. And when he comes back, he sits close to her but not beside her. Because sometimes she doesn't need to ask for space; he just knows that she needs it.

She's never been more certain she loves him.

Michael Staccato Vincent Hodgins is a gorgeous baby, and with the entire team present, Brennan contently watches him from a distance as he's passed from person to person. She lingers with Booth just a few minutes longer after everyone goes home, and it's then that she allows herself to take possession of the newest member of their family. She's vaguely aware of Booth, Hodgins and Angela carrying out a conversation around her, but it's finally, finally her turn to hold him and she's enraptured by the weighty warmth of the bundle in her arms.

It's only a matter of months before she will bear this kind of responsibility as her own and yet even as she looks into his deep blue eyes, it's difficult to picture that reality.

Eventually, the sound of her partner's low laughter registers with her and she raises her head. Judging by the way all three of them are staring, she can ascertain that they've probably been trying to capture her attention for a while.

"Bones, you're gonna have to hand that kid back at some point," Booth jokes.

Brennan feels the flush creeping into her face and immediately steps toward the bed. "Sorry. I just- I'm sorry."

"It's okay." Angela smiles at the newborn Brennan carefully places back in her arms. "No one could blame you for wanting to hold on to such a handsome little guy."

When Brennan looks at her, there's no denying that Angela is happy. And it suddenly occurs to her that Angela and Hodgins have travelled their own difficult, awkward road in order to reach this point. They married on a whim, and they have turned out fine. Her best friend has more than she's ever wanted, and now (soon), Brennan will too.

For the first time, Brennan thinks of the obstacles she and Booth will face in the upcoming months and while the nervous fluttering in her belly remains, she's not stricken by terror. They can handle this. She looks at her best friend and she can believe that sometimes, things just work out.


Angela can't pinpoint exactly what it is that changes in Brennan after Michael's born, and to be honest, as the weeks pass, it begins to drive her just a little bit crazy.

Like so many months ago, there's no singular event between them to account for this shift, but she understands now just as she had then that something is different. Being a new mother, however, means that she's consumed by feedings and diaper changes and tears (both Michael's and her own) and she doesn't have the time to meddle the way the Angela of old would have loved to do.

It takes a few weeks, but she begins to establish a new routine with Michael and she's fairly excited the first time she brings him to visit the lab. Hodgins shows the baby every species of plant and insect he has, explaining their significance in agonising detail, but once she gets her son back, Angela heads toward Brennan's office and very nearly crashes into her as the scientist speeds through the doorway.

"Hi, Angela," Brennan says distractedly without changing pace. "Hello, Michael."

"Sweetie, wait; hold on. We were just coming to see you. Where are you going?"

Brennan turns around, but continues walking backward. "We have a case. I'll call you later."

Angela smiles to herself and shakes her head, but she doesn't think about her friend again until hours later when Hodgins calls to say he'll be home late. Michael is taking an uncharacteristic nap, and Angela feels the initial stirrings of boredom. She picks up her phone, but before she can press a button, it begins to ring.

"Hello?"

"Angela; it's Brennan."

She knows it's you, Bones.

Angela hears Booth's irritated voice in the background and smothers a laugh. "Hey, Bren."

"I was wondering if you could review some of the data from our case when you have a free moment; Cam is reluctant to allow anyone access to your equipment, for some reason. You don't have to come to the lab; I can send you all the necessary figures by e-mail."

It's not the social call Angela had been expecting, but she can compromise. To be honest, Angela finds the fact that she has managed to go four weeks entirely uninterrupted a bit of a surprise.

"Sure, Sweetie, that'd be fine."

"Thank you." Brennan's tone seems smug. "I will stop by after I leave the lab to discuss your findings."

Angela again hears the deep rumbling of Booth's voice, but this time she can't make out the exact words.

"Okay. Michael's asleep right now... I'll get as much as I can done before he wakes up."

"Booth said that it wasn't fair for me to ask you to work while you're on maternity leave, but I told him that this would only require a few hours of your attention and that you wouldn't mind."

Suddenly, Brennan's smugness and Booth's irritation make sense.

"You know me best," Angela smirks, knowing full well the declaration will be repeated once the call ends and spark further nitpicking between the partners. "I'll see you around seven."

She opens her laptop and finds Brennan's e-mail already waiting for her. And maybe the air of permanence she feels so strongly is influenced by the new baby and his plethora of needs which trump her own, but she finds herself truly accepting that this is her life. For now, and for the foreseeable future. A good husband and good friends and a beautiful baby and a gross job and a city on American soil. She won't be moving to Paris again. She probably won't even be visiting Paris any time soon. And this is okay. She's getting too old to be perpetually restless.

She finishes her simulations just before Michael begins to cry, and by the time Brennan knocks on her door, the baby is fed, alert, and happy.

"Hey." Angela opens the door and then leaves Brennan to close it back. "Just give me a second to grab my computer."

It's a rhetorical comment and Brennan doesn't reply, but as she moves to the bedroom, Angela can hear the gurgling of the baby and she knows exactly where Brennan's attention is currently focused.

"Hodgins restocked all the wine," she calls over her shoulder. "You may as well drink it since I can't have any."

"No, thank you," the polite reply drifts back.

Angela shrugs her shoulders and returns to the living room, laptop in tow. Brennan's taken Michael out of his carrier, and Angela smiles as her son tightly grips her best friend's pinkie and waves his tiny fist with vigour.

"He loves you," she states surely.

The relaxed smile on Brennan's face fades and she shifts uncomfortably. Angela finds it both amusing and endearing how instantly self conscious observations such as these make her friend.

"Were you able to find anything useful?" Brennan enquires casually.

Angela takes the hint and opens a file on her computer. For the next few minutes they discuss the details of her findings, and every once in a while Angela almost thinks Brennan isn't even paying attention – given the baby in her lap, Angela can't blame her – but Brennan always chooses that moment to ask a pertinent question and remind Angela that no one is capable of multitasking the way that she does.

Brennan doesn't linger once they finish; she's anxious to get back to the lab despite the hour and Angela is sorry – not for the first time – that having a baby has meant she misses getting to shamelessly observe work-Booth and work-Brennan during this new stage in their relationship.

"I'm glad you two are doing well."

That look of vague discomfort returns and Brennan pauses with her coat half on. "We are adjusting."

Angela nods and places Michael back in his carrier, rocking it gently as he begins to fuss. "I still haven't got used to seeing you guys together and knowing you're together, you know?"

Brennan watches the absent jiggling of the carrier and her mouth twists in a sardonic half smile. "I'm pregnant."

Angela freezes. She feels her jaw drop. Again. She can't remember the last time she has been hit with so many surprising turns of events within such an incredibly short timeframe. As Brennan begins to fidget awkwardly, Angela realises they've been stuck in this silence long enough for even the generally unflappable scientist to feel its effects.

And still, she feels her mouth opening and closing without discernable sound.

"How... when?"

"I found out a few weeks ago," Brennan answers slowly.

Angela narrows her eyes. "Before I had Michael?"

"Yes. Shortly before Michael was born."

She should be able to articulate a more cohesive response by now. But her mind is whirling.

"What was it like?"

"It was wonderful. And beautiful. It was a dream."

Context gives new meaning to Brennan's odd collection of questions and comments and careful study that Angela has so mistakenly been chalking up to anthropological curiosity.

"Have you told Booth?"

Brennan stops fidgeting and becomes decidedly annoyed instead. "Yes, Angela. I told Booth. Weeks ago."

Angela regains control of her jaw and closes her mouth. Because it really shouldn't surprise her that Brennan's pregnant (though regardless of this, it does. It really does); Booth tells her he wants her and Brennan rejects him for his own good and they flee to opposite ends of the earth and he comes back with a girlfriend just as she's ready to give them a try and everything, everything about their journey has been like something straight out of the imagination of a Bronte sister. An unplanned pregnancy just as they begin to find their footing sounds about right.

Except, Booth knows. Booth knows, and Brennan is as calm as any woman could be in this situation, and they're both still in the country. They're spending their days together and their nights together and they're juggling a case at the same time, and it's not easy but they're adjusting.

She thinks about this strength. About her own marriage to Hodgins and the baby resting on the coffee table in front of her. She concludes that they are all collectively on their way to rebuilding a family that's been fractured for so long, they've all but forgotten what it is to be whole in their own untraditional, slightly dysfunctional way.

"Are you going to cry?" Brennan steps back nervously.

Angela gives a watery laugh and stands up, drawing Brennan into a tight hug. "Oh, Brennan."

"Is this happy or unhappy? I can't tell."

Angela pushes away from her to facilitate eye contact. "Forget me; does this make you happy?"

Brennan considers this seriously. "I am feeling a lot of things. I'm not sure I'm 'happy,' in a strict sense yet, but I think that I can be. I will be. I just need... time."

"To adjust," Angela adds knowingly.

"To adjust," Brennan confirms.

They share a companionable silence and soft smiles, and then they're interrupted by a knock at the door. Angela's still a little dazed and her reaction to the noise is slower than it ought to be, but when the knocking begins anew, she exchanges a look with Brennan. Because they only know one person with that kind of impatience.

When she opens the door, Booth already has his hand raised to knock a third time and he gives her a sheepish smile. "Hey Angela. Is Bones still- oh, hey Bones."

Brennan clears her throat. "Hi."

"Hodgins called and said he had something to show us; I figured you wouldn't mind going back to the lab..."

His voice trails off slowly as he takes in Angela's over bright eyes and the furtive glances the two friends keeps sending one another.

"... You told her." The accusation is thrown alongside an exasperated eye roll in Brennan's direction.

"It just came out," Brennan defends.

"Bones-

"We shouldn't keep Hodgins waiting."

Brennan cuts Booth off and moves past him into the hall, and Angela makes a decision.

"Wait for us; we're coming."

Booth and Brennan both stare at her as if she's grown a second head, but it's Booth who speaks first. "It's past eight, Angela. I know Bones talked you into doing a bit of work for us, but maternity leave means you don't have to stick the case out to the end. That's kind of the point."

But Angela's made up her mind; she's already bundling up Michael and yanking her own coat out of the closet. "Michael's going to be up for hours anyway. And I've barely seen my husband all day; if you guys are all going to be at the lab, I might as well be there too."

Booth looks to Brennan, but when she only shrugs, he embraces this latest development and simply picks up the diaper bag resting beside the couch. In a matter of minutes, Angela is locking the door behind the four of them while balancing a car seat in one hand and her computer in the other.

Family, friends, lovers, babies, family, and dead bodies. This is what they are.

And she accepts it.

-End-