Written for the Bite-Sized Bones Comment Ficathon Challenge at Bones Gamblers Anonymous. TinyLegacies prompted: Teenage!Christine and Teenage!Michael Vincent going on their first date.

I feel fairly confident in asserting that this fic is not what she had in mind but in my Bones-world, Michael and Christine are promised to others. Her prompt, though, gave me the chance to tell a story I've been thinking about for a long time. So . . . here you go. I hope you like it.

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Carrying a casserole-size bowl of cereal, Zach altered his course when he heard the doorbell ring. He shoved a heaping spoonful in his mouth then let the implement dangle there while he pulled the door open. Still chewing, he grunted a greeting to Michael Hodgins and stepped aside.

Michael laughed at the size of the bowl.

"Having a little snack?"

Zach swallowed and grinned back.

"I'm a growing boy." Without warning, he tilted his head and yelled, "CHRISTEEEEEEN! Michael Vincent's here!"

Booth popped out of the family room while Michael winced and stuck his finger in one ear as if to clear it.

"Zach," his father grumbled, "was it necessary to be that loud?"

His son shrugged.

"Her door's closed. I wanted to make sure she heard me." He stepped around Booth and settled into a seat facing the TV.

At the top of the stairs, a door opened and a blonde head emerged. Madison's eyes widened when she saw Michael standing below, his faintly exotic good looks enhanced by an elegant black suit and snowy white shirt.

"She'll be right down!" she chirped, then giggled and disappeared back into the room. The loud squealing that immediately followed was clearly audible downstairs.

Michael looked at Booth. "How many girls are up there?"

Booth grimaced. "I don't know. I think they multiply behind closed doors." He patted the young man on the shoulder. "That right down could be anywhere from five minutes to five hours. You want some water or juice or something?"

Before Michael could answer the door upstairs opened again and Brennan stepped out. Her smile was wide and happy as she came downstairs.

"You look very nice, Michael," she said when she reached him. She brushed at the front of his jacket. "Very handsome indeed."

"Thanks, Tempe." His cheeks warmed under her appreciative regard.

"You know," she continued, stepping back to study him further, "Christine is the first of her friends to be invited to attend such an important event as your school's winter formal. It's a significant moment of social prestige in her peer group."

Michael's eyes widened as his mouth fell open. He glanced helplessly at Booth.

"Uhh . . ."

From the family room, Zach piped up. "She means Christine's friends are jealous."

"Oh!" Michael's confusion cleared. "Oh, right. Well, I appreciate her being willing to go with me at the last minute."

The door at the top of the stairs opened once more and a laughing, tittering mass of girls spilled into the hallway. The last one pulled Christine out and pushed her forward.

Brennan sighed and leaned into Booth's shoulder.

"Isn't she lovely?"

Booth studied his daughter carefully. She looked entirely too beautiful for his peace of mind, and much older than her just-turned-fifteen years. The black dress she wore skimmed over her slim figure to swing above the knee, while the halter neckline left her shoulders bare as it formed a circle of twinkling rhinestones that rested just below her collarbone. His eyes rose to find her looking anxiously at him, nervously awaiting his verdict. His throat suddenly too tight, it took him a moment longer to speak.

"You look beautiful, honey," he managed finally.

She beamed at him. "Thanks, Daddy."

Every head turned to Michael.

"You do!" he exclaimed, when he realized why he was the focus of everyone's attention. "Very nice." When Christine stopped in front of him, he grinned and tapped one of her feet with his. "New shoes?"

"New everything!" She twirled in place, hands outstretched playfully.

Michael considered the height of the heels then winked at her.

"Ten bucks says you're barefoot within the hour."

"What? No way! I'll take that bet!"

Without conscious thought, their actions stemming from a lifetime spent as companions and partners in crime, the teenagers spit into their palms and shook hands.

"Ewwww!"
"That's disgusting!"
"Gross!"

The chorus of feminine disapproval from Christine's friends was unanimous and so loud, even Zach turned around. Seeing his daughter and her date flush with embarrassment, Booth held back his own laughter and took pity on them.

"Well, your curfew is 11:00 so -"

"Dad!" Christine's plea held more than a hint of whining.

He succumbed instantly. "Okay, midnight, but just for tonight." The warning look he gave Michael was gone in an instant as he slapped the young man on the back and reached around him to open the door. "Do you have enough money? Need some cash?"

Michael shook his head and gratefully accepted the invitation to escape."Thanks, Seeley, I'm good." He watched Brennan and then Booth kiss Christine's cheek before she followed him out into the cool night air. "I'll have her home by midnight, I promise."

Christine's friends hurried outside after them, calling out goodbyes mixed with good-natured teasing and catcalls. When they were both inside the car with the doors safely shut, Booth herded everyone back inside and watched in surprise as the group spread out in the family room, scattered among every available seating option. Brennan, he noticed, had disappeared.

"So," he asked slowly, "you girls need me to run you home?"

"No thanks, Mr. B.!" Emma wrestled the remote from Zach and began flipping through channels. "We're staying the night so we can hear all the deets when Chris gets home."

"You are?" Booth silently counted heads.

"Yep!" She stopped on a show that caused an immediate furor of raised voices. Booth winced and made the snap decision to spend the evening in the garage.

Petra squeezed herself into the chair with Zach, plucked a soggy piece of cereal from his bowl and popped it into her mouth.

"Have you finished Mr. Walker's astronomy assignment yet?"

"Uhh . . ." Zach tilted away from her and cast a pleading glance over his shoulder at his father.

Booth grinned and patted him on the head before he walked away.

"You're on your own, kid."

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Christine sighed with relief when Michael's door closed and shut out the sound of her friends' raucous goodbye.

"Sorry. They overruled me when I tried to get them to leave earlier." She murmured appreciatively when the car started with a roar of power. "I can't believe your dad let you take the Mustang."

Michael backed smoothly out of the driveway. "I have to send him a picture every time I park it so he can approve the space." They spent a few minutes complaining about both sets of parents before Michael changed the subject. "You hungry?"

"Starving," Christine acknowledged at once. "Madison wouldn't let me eat after noon."

Michael decided the reasoning of 15-year old divas was beyond him and skipped the follow-up question."Where do you want to go?" he asked instead.

"Barnaby's. Let's have steak and cheese!"

He glanced uncertainly at his suit and her dress.

"You sure? We're pretty fancy . . ." When Christine insisted that was what she wanted, he checked his mirror, activated the turn signal and switched lanes. "Barnaby's it is."

Tucked into a strip mall in Silver Spring, MD, the small pub presented an unassuming exterior that matched an interior decorated in muted tones and furnished with heavy, scarred wooden booths. The line at the door, however, told its own story about the quality of the food inside. Christine and Michael patiently waited their turn for a table and when seated, ignored the menus in favor of their favorite steak and cheese subs. Their chatter was easy and comfortable, full of familiar subjects and shared experiences, and the time passed quickly while they waited for their food to arrive.

When it did, Christine reached for the ketchup first.

"I have a question," she said casually, while she dribbled a red ribbon across her fries.

"When do you not have a question?" Michael grinned and snatched one of the fries she'd just decorated.

She ignored his thievery and picked up a fry herself. "Why didn't you ask Jeremy to the dance?"

Even in the darkened room, she saw the blood drain from Michael's face. He froze, hand in mid-air, the French fry halfway to his already open mouth, and stared at her. A tiny glob of ketchup dripped unnoticed on the table.

Christine watched his reaction with sympathy. When several minutes passed without a response, she shrugged and picked up her silverware to cut the thick sandwich on her plate in half.

"Everybody knows, Michael."

His hand, and the uneaten fry in it, hit the table with a thump that caused silverware and glasses to rattle. "What?" he croaked.

She paused just before taking a bite. "We know, Mikey. Even Zach, and he barely looks up from his books."

A vague hint of panic filled Michael's eyes. "I . . . you . . . What?"

Christine looked thoughtful as she chewed.

"And if Zach knows, so does William." The casual mention of his younger brother brought Michael's panic into full visibility. "What else are they going to talk about but us?" she asked, as if the answer were obvious.

Michael began to look slightly nauseous.

"Do you . . . do your . . . do you think your parents know?" He grimaced as if he'd swallowed something bitter.

Christine munched on another fry and considered.

"Well, let's see . . . Did Dad threaten to cut off your man parts with a rusty knife if you brought me home late?"

Michael's head swung slowly from side to side, the move jerky and hesitant.

"Then yea, he knows." Christine used her fork to pick out a mushroom from the gooey heap of cheese, beef and onions in front of her. "Which means Mom does, too."

"Oh, God." Michael slumped into his seat and then immediately straightened. "My parents - they haven't told - I don't want my parents to know yet!" His face was filled with terror.

Christine stopped chewing and looked at him in surprise. "You don't think your parents know?"

"No." He shook his head, rapidly and repeatedly. "No. How could they? I haven't told . . . I haven't said . . . I can't . . ."

She put down her fork, laid her arms on the table and leaned in toward him.

"Remember when we all went to the mountains for Christmas, and our dads said they were going to cut down a tree?" When he nodded, she gave him a knowing smile. "Who was it who guessed that they spent all day in a sports bar watching football and bought that tree at a lot on the way home?"

Michael dropped his head into his hands. "Mom."

"And last month, when we were going to sneak out of your house to go to that party at the Rock? Who told us just before we went to bed that she'd changed the code on the alarm and if a window or a door opened it would . . ." Christine paused and tried to remember Angela's exact words. "Scream with the wail of a thousand banshees."

Michael couldn't look up. "Mom."

She picked up her sandwich again. "I heard Dad say once that Angela was a human bloodhound, that she could sniff out a secret better than J. Edgar Hoover." She chewed some more and watched her best friend. "My mom didn't even argue cross-species reproduction or anything, she just agreed with him."

Michael ignored the untouched food in front of him.

"Then why haven't they said something?" he asked, almost pleading. "Wouldn't they tell me if they knew or . . . or . . ." He spread his hands helplessly. "Or something?"

"Maybe they're leaving it to you to decide when you're ready to talk about it." Christine peeped up at him slyly. "You know, since they're going to have to kick you out of the house and everything . . ."

"What?" Michael gaped at her in shock and then threw a French fry at her when she laughed at his reaction. "Not funny, Chris! Not funny!"

She threw a fry back at him then picked up her fork again.

"I don't know what the big deal is," she shrugged. "I mean, I like boys, too, and no one cares."

After a moment of shock, Michael laughed with her.

"Yea," he smirked, "that's totally the same thing."

The tense moment over, Michael attacked the lukewarm food in front of him as if he were starving. Every few minutes, he and Christine would catch each other's eye and grin.

"So . . ." The tone in her voice warned him another question was coming, even before she nonchalantly stole a slice of green pepper from his plate. "Have you kissed him yet?" Her eyes twinkled mischievously when he shook his head at her.

Only half-teasing, Michael grabbed the bottle of ketchup and pointed it in her direction.

"Don't make me use this, Booth. You know I'll do it."

Christine laughed and gave her attention to her plate.

"Eh, it was worth a shot."

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At 11:45pm, Michael returned Christine to her front door. Her friends were waiting for her, and he suffered patiently through several minutes of their pointed, teasing pleading for details about the dance before he made his excuses and headed home himself.

His parents were waiting up, too.

Angela's head lifted from the sketchbook in her lap. She sat up, eager to hear the details.

"Hey! How was the dance? Did you have a good time? Was Christine beautiful? What did she wear?"

From a separate chair, Hodgins chuckled at Angela's inquisitive rush of questions.

"I just want to know that the car's okay," he teased.

Michael looked at each of his parents and in that moment, made his decision.

"Mom, Dad . . ." He hesitated only briefly. "I have something to tell you."

He didn't miss the knowledge in the fleeting glance his parents exchanged, or the love and acceptance in the eyes that turned back to him, and suddenly a weight he didn't know he'd been carrying was lifted from his shoulders. He relaxed and breathed deeply and felt . . . at peace, for the first time in years.

Hodgins moved to the sofa where Angela sat, careful to leave enough space in between for Michael. He patted the cushion invitingly.

"Sit down, son," he said to this boy he loved, the child he shared with the woman he adored. "Talk to us."

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Thanks for reading!