(FYI, when I decide to stop writing (this story and fanfiction in general) I promise that I won't just disappear. I'll be very melodramatic and make a speech worthy of Sally Fields at the Oscars and you'll probably want to vomit by the time I'm done saying goodbye, but I definitely will say goodbye. I don't have a regular posting schedule (because, life) and delays between chapters are sometimes a bit longer than I'd like, but unless I've said THE END, it's not. A couple of people thought that the last chapter was the 'last' chapter, and I wanted to clear up the misunderstanding.)
The sudden boom of thunder was so loud, it shook the house and disturbed the slumber of the occupants.
In the bedroom at the top of the stairs, a young boy's head rose from his pillow. Blinking in confusion, Zach glanced once around the dark corners of his room then fell back, instantly asleep again.
Next door, four teenage girls lay jumbled together like a pile of napping puppies. The intrusive rumble caused a restless shuffling in the tangle of arms and legs but it quickly passed and they settled down without fully waking.
Across the hall, Booth was immediately alert. His eyes popped open as he quickly scanned for the cause of his interrupted rest. The steady drumming of rain on the roof above his head, coupled with a flash of lightning and a second, somewhat quieter thunderclap, served as an explanation.
Beside him, Brennan mumbled and rolled toward his warmth.
"It's just thunder," he whispered, drawing her close with an arm looped over her waist.
Her head burrowed beneath his chin.
They drifted off again, serenaded by the rhythm of the storm.
It was still raining when Brennan made her way downstairs the next morning. When Booth joined her a few minutes later, she passed him a hot cup of coffee.
"It appears that your plan to grill today will have to be amended."
Ever hopeful, Booth's shoulders lifted beneath the moisture-spotted t-shirt he wore as he carefully peeled back the wet pages of the newspaper he'd just retrieved. "It might clear out."
And it did, but only briefly and by the time the kitchen began to fill with children, the storm raged louder than ever.
A particularly violent burst of thunder caused Emma to wince as she held out a plate for the hot pancakes Brennan offered.
"I don't like storms."
"I do." Zach set his own full plate on the table and walked to the window to look up into the roiling sky above the back yard. "I think they're cool."
"I like storms, too." Petra smiled her thanks as she was served by Brennan and pulled out a stool at the center island beside Emma. "As long as I'm not outside!"
Irritated, Madison stood next to Zach and glared at the puddles forming in the grass. "I guess this means no fireworks tonight."
"Maybe." Booth repeated his earlier hopeful assurances without looking up from the crossword puzzle. "It might clear out in time."
Hours later, the downpour continued, lashing the windows and doors with powerful, wind-driven rain and filling the house with flashes of brilliant light followed by thunderous crashes of noise. When it became clear that there would be no outdoor amusement that day, Madison came up with another idea. Seated on the sofa with the other girls, she twisted around and looked toward the kitchen where the adults sat talking quietly.
"Can we go to the mall?"
Booth was shaking his head before she finished asking the question.
"Oh!" Christine, however, was fully on board. "We could go to the movies! The World in the Rose comes out today!"
Emma and Petra squealed loud enough to cause those in the house who weren't 14-year old girls to wince. "Caleb McKenzie!"
Zach had a different suggestion. "Fist of Fury opens today, too," he said, glancing up hopefully from his laptop. "I want to see that."
Brennan caught Booth's eyes and shrugged noncommittally. "The documentary about the deforestation of the Amazon rainforests is still playing. That might be interesting -"
Their words fell on deaf ears.
"No." Booth was adamant. "We are not going to the mall and wasting the whole day in different theaters. It's a holiday and I want to stay at home and spend it with my family."
"We aren't family." Emma propped her elbows on the back of the couch and looked at him.
"Really?" he answered sarcastically. "You three are here so much, I was about to start giving you allowances."
"How much?" Madison's smile was cheeky as she grinned brightly. "I might let you adopt me."
Christine smacked the other girl's arm.
"Well, he offered." Madison slid back into a normal seat.
To forestall future discussion, Booth joined them.
"If you want to watch a movie, we can do that here. Pick one from pay-per-view and -"
They all grabbed for the remote at the same time and immediately began to argue over favorites.
"For crying out . . . STOP."
The loud, deep voice brought an instant halt to the clamor.
"Everybody write the name of the movie you want to see on a piece of paper and we'll draw one."
"Who gets to choose?" Christine demanded.
"I'll do it." Madison volunteered.
Christine gave her a shove that sent the blonde girl leaning into Petra. "You cheat."
"I do not!"
"Yes, you do!"
"No, I -"
An explosion of lightning illuminated the entire house, followed immediately by a thunderous rumbling that rattled the objects on the glass shelves lining the wall.
With a faint pop!, everything went dark.
There was a moment of stunned silence then Madison looked over her shoulder at Booth, standing in shadow with the windows of the kitchen behind him.
"Can we go to the mall now?"
"No," he shot back. "Zach, come hold the flashlight while I check the fuses." Taking the boy's obedience for granted, he pivoted on one foot and headed for the garage.
Brennan quickly put the girls to work gathering candles. When Booth and Zach returned, the house was rich with golden light.
"Nothing burned out as far as I can tell," he said. "The Dudleys across the street lost power, too. Looks like we'll have to wait it out."
"We're just going to sit in the dark?" Petra's unease was obvious.
"We've got plenty of light."
"Can we order pizza?"
Laughing, Booth hooked an elbow around Zach's skinny neck and pulled him close in a mock choke-hold.
"One of these days, son, you're going to turn into a pizza. The stove is gas, we can make some popcorn and play a game or something."
"We could play Trivial Pursuit." Brennan offered a familiar option.
Zach was quick. "I'm on Mom's team."
Christine's reaction was equally fast. "Dad!" she wailed. "They can't be on the same team!"
"Oh, we're never doing that again," Booth agreed, while behind him Brennan and Zach exchanged a smug grin. "We can play something else."
"Or we could go to the mall."
Madison was ignored.
"Oh!" Brennan suddenly became animated. "Since we're celebrating our nation's independence, we could play a game common to the 18th century! It would be very appropriate, especially given our lack of electricity at the moment."
While everyone else looked at each other uncertainly, she warmed to the topic.
"There are several games that have survived to varying degrees. Marbles, obviously, is one of the best examples but I'm sure we could find materials to create a version of ninepins or -"
"We have Uno," Zach broke in.
There was immediate agreement.
"Works for me."
"I like Uno."
Obviously disappointed, Brennan still gave in with good grace and while the five youngsters settled around the dining room table, she and Booth gathered drinks and the promised popcorn. When they finally took the empty chairs left for them, she cast a stern eye on her husband.
"Do not force me to skip my turn," she warned him. "Or," she continued, when he only chuckled, "draw extra cards. You do those things deliberately."
She looked so irritated, he had to kiss her.
"That's how you play the game, Bones."
"Well, you enjoy it too much," she sniffed.
Surrounded by the flicker of candlelight and accompanied by the soundtrack of rain hitting the windows like hundreds of tiny pellets, the friendly game quickly turned viciously competitive. Brennan's reaction was so amusing, she became the target of both Zach, on her right, and Booth, on her left, and rarely had a turn when she wasn't skipped or forced to draw extra cards. Across the table, Christine and Madison engaged in a similar battle against each other until finally, quiet and overlooked in the chaos, Petra laid down her last card and won the hand.
Madison was outraged.
"You didn't call Uno!"
"But you didn't catch me," Petra answered triumphantly.
A rematch was insisted on and the cards were dealt again.
In the middle of the third game, pizza arrived.
As the fourth hand began, power was restored and everything electric hummed to life.
The television stayed silent.
The game continued.
It was an excellent holiday.
For those of you not in the United States, "Uno" is a card game played with a special deck specific to the game. The object is to play all of your cards before anyone else, at which time you collect the cumulative points of everyone else's cards. If you've never played with family members, you don't know what cut-throat competition is. It's brutal!
I'm the oldest of four kids and some of my favorite childhood memories are of the hours spent around the table playing games with my brothers and sister and I carried on the tradition with my own kids. Based on a few scenes from Bones, I think it's safe to say Booth and Brennan would play games with their children, too. (And it makes me laugh to think of Brennan and Zach smoking Booth and Christine in Trivial Pursuit, although they might have to get lucky with the "sports" category.)
If you're celebrating July 4th/Independence Day tonight, be safe with the fireworks.
Thanks for reading!