This is the moment that Angela knows that she could fall in love with Hodgins. Not the moment she fell, that wouldn't come until later. No, this is before first dates where she felt like she could fly, before the hyperawareness of her own breath as Booth played the Gravedigger's message for the first time, before the amazement of Hodgins's dirt-smeared face hitting clean air.
This is a moment probably forgotten by everyone but her, as so many things are. It is early August, her birthday. She stands by the door to the lab as her father strides out, away from her. He is going to Dresden to play a show. He is leaving before cake, and she is supposed to understand because she always has. She hugs him goodbye, and saying she lets him go would be inaccurate. It's not about her permission as much as it is about his desire to leave.
She sighs and turns and takes herself to her office. She does a couple of sketches, some old skulls from Limbo. The charcoal is soothing in her exhausted hand, and so she startles when a set of large fingers slides onto her shoulder.
"You okay?" Hodgins's voice comes, calming as the charcoal.
She nods, leaning further over her pad. "Sure, of course. Why wouldn't I be?"
"Right," he says, enunciating the last letter before he makes himself comfortable in the chair beside her, propping his feet on her desk, even though he knows that she hates that. But, she notices, he has placed his clunky boots on the opposite side from her, so nothing flakes off onto her clean page. They sit for a minute, then two, before he speaks. "I don't remember my father smiling. Not at a joke over dinner, or if I got good grades, or when he looked at my mom. Not that I blame him for that, she was one cold fish."
He picks up a pen, fiddling with it. "A lot of the guys at school were angry or sad to be there, but not me." He flips the pen over between his fingers. "Boarding school was the best thing that ever happened to me. It meant being away from my father and his total lack of caring. If I had lived in that house, I would probably be a dead guy in a suit, sitting scared in a board room under my old man's scowling portrait."
Angela turns, lays a hand on his arm. Her fingers leave faint, dark charcoal marks on his sleeve. "You in a suit? Not a realistic image."
"In my mind," Hodgins tells her seriously, "it's made of duct tape." He leans back in his chair, gesturing with the pen. "I'm not saying this because I want you to think you have a great thing going with your rock star dad. Or because telling you about my joyless childhood might get me laid. I just want you to know that sometimes dads mess up- you're in really good company there. But sometimes it can turn out okay anyway." Their eyes meet and hold for a long moment before he checks his watch and holds out a hand. "Come on. Zack should have been able to get all those candles lit by now."
She laughs and lets him pull her up. "Yeah, that is not so comforting for a girl on her birthday."
Later that night, she talks to Brennan in North Carolina as they both get ready for bed. When her best friend asks how her birthday was, Angela tells her about cake and Zack's surprisingly nice voice and even (hesitantly, considering recent events) about the short time that her dad was there. But she doesn't mention talking to Hodgins. She considers it, but then decides to keep it inside, where the special moments of her days live.