Hey! Long time, no speak.
Life has been a whirlwind of many things. Just trust me when I say that it afforded me little inspiration and little free time (and what time I did have went into another fandom). I have a hard time writing when a story is done on the screen and haven't had time for a rewatch to put myself back in that zone.
BUT I have finally pulled together one of the last chapters of this story. This one's a fluffier one, a flash-forward told through a different perspective than the rest.
As for the other chapters, I will be working on them. I'm going to try and finish this story in 2019 because yeesh, it's taken time. At least these all stand alone as moments - songs on the radio to sing along with.
Consider me disclaimed.
Walls (Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers)
October 21, 2033
"I hate everything! I hate this tray. I hate finger sandwiches. I definitely hate that my stupid brother is thirty-seven minutes late and—" The athletic brunette paused in her tirade to survey the bustling scene around her. "I most definitely hate myself for thinking this was a piece of cake!"
"Did someone say cake?" a broad-shouldered man in a letterman jacket called out from the front foyer. "Because I have got that on lock!"
The seething brunette stomped towards him, still holding the tangled string of twinkle lights she'd been fussing over for what felt like hours. "Goddamn it, Hank! You were supposed to be here almost an hour ago!"
"That's a complete exaggeration, Chrissy!"
"Do not call me Chrissy! I hate that nickname!" As her brother's large hand reached for her, she scurried back several steps. "And do NOT mess up my hair! I have no idea how Aunt Angela got it to curl, but I'm not ruining it."
"Alright, alright! Just because you're legally adults does not mean I can't throw you in time out!" Poking her head out of the kitchen, Angela shook a flour-dusted finger at each of them in turn. "Hank, please bring the cake in here and get to work on those lights, you six foot six behemoth. Christine, leave the food trays to me and worry about rolling the napkins and arranging the flowers and tea lights. You always have a good eye for décor."
The siblings parted, blowing raspberries at each other, but handily defused. Their Aunt Angela had always known just how to cool her anxiety-fueled tantrums, Christine reflected with a half-smile. Abandoning the lights in a heap on a nearby chair, she turned her attention to the neat pile of emerald-green napkins and the silver rings adorned with teapots.
Her parents would only have one twentieth anniversary, and she was adamant that it be perfect.
"Mind if I put on some music?" Christine called out.
"Need I remind you who my father is?" Angela quipped.
"That's a yes." Digging in her purse, she withdrew the Sharpie-labelled CD and hummed triumphantly. "Let's see… oh thank god, they do still have a CD player."
While she'd come prepared with a flash drive copy, there was something authentic about popping in an actual CD. Players were increasingly hard to come by, what with the micro disc taking over in 2024, but parents tended to hang onto the things. With a few presses of a button, the familiar opening riff of Foreigner's "Hot Blooded" filled the room.
The doorbell chimed as Angela hooted with approval, and a mess of unruly curls hustled past Christine to answer the door. Fingers flying over the silky napkins, Christine nodded to her arriving volun-told helpers: her best friend, Emmaline, and her sorta-boyfriend (for now), Cole. Emm was dressed in a strapless black cocktail dress that made her perfect legs even longer, her hair swept into an elegant up-do. Cole, as agreed, had abandoned his usual t-shirt and jeans for a black suit, although he'd clearly forgotten to choose a dark purple shirt to coordinate with her own dress.
"Just in time! I'm in a panic, guys. Help?" Don't get mad at him, don't get mad…
Emm immediately rushed forward, seizing half of the napkins. "You really went all out, Chris!"
Cole glanced around, admiring the framed artwork on the walls. "These are really cool."
"My mother painted them," Michael chimed in, stepping around him to admire a Parisian scene. "She also took the photos on that wall over there."
"What he won't tell you, Cole, is he took the award-winning photo on this wall," Christine called out, jerking her thumb behind her.
"Chrissy," Michael warned.
"Tell me that isn't the most powerful image in this room," she pressed on, adding another napkin to the waiting basket.
Cole stepped forward, studying the black and white image. The ruins of a house, still smoldering from a wildfire that killed 200 people and destroyed over 400 homes, were settled just off-centre in the distance. In the foreground, a small child stood, gazing at the wreckage with a half-charred teddy bear in hand. The first time Christine had seen it, she'd burst into tears.
"It's incredible. You took this?"
Michael nodded shyly. "We went out there with Aunt Tempe to help with relief efforts while she identified remains. I took a walk during a lunch break with my camera and… Anyway, I see Hank has finally graced us with his presence!"
Michael hurriedly moved forward, handing over a box of lights. Hank nodded, long used to being the Hanger-Upper of their extended family. He gestured to Cole, handing him the first clump of wire and bulbs.
"Any specific place?"
Christine rolled her eyes, huffing. "Make the room twinkle, Hank! I shouldn't have to spell this out!"
"What's this music?" Emm asked, making quick work of her napkin stack. "Sounds like something my granddad would listen to."
"This mix is beyond reproach," Michael rebuked her with a smirk as he disappeared into the kitchen.
"Mix?" Cole's eyebrow raised.
"Yes, a mix tape. Well, a CD, really. My dad made it for my mom when I was barely able to talk." Christine grinned as Angela cheered for the opening notes of her father's contribution to the collection. "Speaking of granddads, Michael's Pops wrote this riff. It's his band playing."
Emm's hips swayed as she worked. "Classic blues, I love it! So your dad made her a mix CD? Like those things people do in the old movies? Did he put it in a boom box and stand under her window?"
Christine laughed, nudging a curl from her eye. "No, no. They were already living together by then. There was a case they were working where the murder victim was this young guy, a teenager like Hank. He'd made one for this girl he liked, and my dad put his big ol' foot in his damn mouth and mentioned he'd made mixes before for other women."
Emm and Cole reacted loudly to this, Cole's "Oh, shit!" earning a teasing rebuke from Angela.
Pushing aside her stack of napkins, she gestured to Emm, who nodded assent. "Anyway, so after the case, my dad reveals he has made a mix for my mother. Now, this isn't just a mix of songs to bang to, or sappy love songs. They're all significant to my dad and their relationship. Apparently, he'd been putting it together for years."
"Dad's a total softie, despite his Army and FBI chops," Hank teased, nudging Cole in the arm. "A mix CD?"
"Just you wait, brother of mine. When you get tired of one-date wonders, you'll be happy to wow a woman with a collection of songs that sum up how much she means to you."
They worked in relative silence, save the music drifting from the speakers. Christine had moved on to the flowers, carefully arranging the daisies and lilies in colourful splashes all over the room in the smaller vases, leaving the largest as a centrepiece. Pleased with her handiwork, she hummed happily as the song changed to an old tune by Tom Petty.
"This one's a favourite of mine!" she mused aloud.
"So, how did your parents meet?" Cole asked.
Michael laughed as he entered with a tray of cheeses nestled alongside toasted baguettes. "The story of Seeley Booth and Temperance Brennan is hardly that simple."
The doorbell rang as Cole paused, his half of the twinkle lights drooping. "But that's what people do. They meet. They like each other. A date happens."
Michael rushed forward, welcoming a waiting Seeley Wick-Sweets and his mother Daisy to the Hodgins-Montenegro home. "Just in time. Seeley, did Dr. Brennan and Booth just meet?"
The lanky teen laughed heartily, as did his mother. "You've got to be kidding me. They didn't 'just' anything. I mean, she proposed with a bag of jerky in hand."
Some days are diamonds
Some days are rocks
Some doors are open
Some roads are blocked…
Sensing her novice beau was used to love stories of the mundane variety, she quickly filled him in on how her mother—someone who had never believed in marriage at all—had decided that the way to demonstrate her unconditional love for her father was to tell him he could eat all the jerky he wanted, because it made him happy. To an outsider like Cole, it was odd, but to anyone who knew her mother…. Well, it was perfectly her.
"That's not even the weirdest gift she gave him," Angela interjects, arriving with a tray of sandwiches. "My favourite was the time she bought Booth a lap dance to watch him squirm."
"Wait, what?!" Christine nearly dropped the box of tea lights. "When was this?"
"Oh, long before they were dating." Tossing her hair over her shoulder, Angela chuckled softly. "They were working a case where this car salesman died. They followed the leads to a strip club and Brennan being Brennan, she bought a lap dance from the witness so they could grill her. Now, of course they could have just paid her for her time, but as your mom told me, it was fun to mess with Booth's 'Catholic morals' a bit."
"And a year later, she was stripping him!" Daisy giggled at Christine and Hank's horrified faces. "For evidence, guys. The body blew up and bits of it were stuck to Booth's suit. And you know your mother's position on reconstructing remains."
Cole was looking a little green, to Christine's dismay. This guy actually thought he could be a cop one day? Might be another pretty face doomed for the reject pile, she lamented silently.
"Remember Booth's face when she took his pants off? She was completely focused on evidence and he was turning as red as that Santa suit," Daisy recalled.
Angela popped a cube of cheese in her mouth, grinning. "That was the sexiest evidence collection ever known to the Jeffersonian and believe me, I saw plenty. Hey Daisy, can you help me with the rest of the snacks? I need to get the tarts baking."
Daisy and Angela excused themselves to the kitchen, leaving the Jeffersonian's future generation swapping stories of the near-legendary love of Booth and Brennan. Like the time he'd shot his way into the lab because the Secret Service had taken the team hostage to investigate a highly-classified cold case.
"Mom and dad never admit who it was," Hank interjected with a sigh.
"Mine did. It was supposedly JFK," Michael chimed in. "And your mom worked so hard to prove it wasn't him and therefore, not a government conspiracy. She loved your dad that much."
Emm's brow furrowed. "How was solving a famous assassination love?"
"Because my dad has faith in the government and justice, or did back then, anyway. A conspiracy would have rocked his foundation. Mom wanted to make it okay. And with a little help from Dad in distracting the agents, she completed her work and reassured him." Christine nudged Cole, leaning in to whisper. "You okay?"
"Yeah, sure. I didn't expect shop talk, you know? I just ate before we got here."
"I'm sorry. I'll fix that." Raising her voice, she began setting out a line of candle holders. "My favourite story my dad ever told me was about the conch shell. Did he tell you that one, Hank?"
Sundowns are golden
Then fade away
But if I never do nothing
I'll get you back some day…
"Huh. I don't think so." Swiping a tiny meatball slider from the closest tray, he nodded approvingly at the twinkle lights he'd finished with. "Do tell."
"Grandpa Max brought mom a conch shell. You know, the ones that sound like the ocean? Now, keep in mind this was during the Barbie years—"
"Temperance Brennan likes Barbies?" Emm interrupted. "But you told me—"
"Not the doll, Dad's terrible idea to date a blonde idiot who never understood him," Christine clarified. "We all call her Baghdad Barbie—"
"My brilliant idea!" Angela chimed in.
Christine laughed. "Well, everyone but Dad does. They met while Dad was over in Afghanistan. She was a journalist. Mom had just shot him down for a relationship, and he was rebounding."
"The conch shell?" Seeley prodded.
Arranging tea lights around the room, she recounted the short, but meaningful tale: her father, sensing he'd made a terrible mistake by dating Hannah, had sat inside the diner, watching as her mother pressed the shell to her ear. She listened to that ocean sound within as her father looked on, unaware of how mesmerized he was by her reaction.
"The way Dad puts it, she was filled with wonder. My mom, the super-genius, was like a small kid walking the shore for the first time. Dad says her smile lit up the entire street."
A soft knock broke up the chatter, with Michael rushing to answer the door. "It's about time!" he exclaimed from the foyer.
A melodic voice carried to the living room. "Hey, you got to stay here and set up. I had to go to the gelato place, and you know how hard it is to go unseen!"
"Like you don't love the paparazzi," Michael snorted.
Christine scurried to greet her older brother, throwing her arms around his neck. "About time you showed up, Parks!"
Parker squeezed tightly, lifting her in the air for a quick spin. "Missed you, Teeny. How have you been?"
"Losing my mind over this damn party, which Hank has been no help with!"
Hank swung a string of twinkle lights in a lazy loop. "No help, she says. I brought a cake. I'm hanging lights. Seems to me I'm responsible for the best parts of this celebration."
"You may be taller, but I'm faster," Parker teased, snatching the lights from his younger brother's grasp. "Be good to your sister, or I won't let you meet any models when you come to London."
Christine smirked, knowing that he had Hank's number. Parker's success playing for Arsenal had its perks, and while she knew Parker had his sights on an intern at his mother's law firm, Hank was younger and easily distracted by shiny baubles and celebrity skin.
Hank grunted, tugging back the lights and gesturing to the far wall. "Fine. But you better invite that gorgeous one who does Gucci now."
"Deal. So, what have I missed?"
"Story time," Michael replied. "The great odyssey of Temperance Brennan and Seeley Booth."
"With the original mix tape to set the mood, no less!" Parker enthused, gesturing to the Hodgins' stereo system. "The best story that everyone forgets is that Jersey Shore case. You know that one, Chris?"
Frustrated with decorating, Christine settled into a chair beside her brother. "I do not! I thought I'd heard of every case by now."
"That's probably because mom doesn't like admitting she's wrong," Parker quipped, grabbing a handful of cashews from a nearby dish. "She thought The Jersey Shore was a documentary."
"It's a reality show," Christine reminded him.
"Yeah, but she thought it was a documentary. Think more like The Thin Blue Line or Blackfish."
Her palm flew to her mouth as she understood Parker's statement. "Oh my god, no!"
Parker nodded, his messy curls flopping forward as he smirked. "Dad had to tell me because she started talking about the 'Guido Tribe' over dinner once. She was fascinated by them. Dad even said she picked up their slang and used it like it was a foreign language."
Seeley leaned in, eyes widening. "I knew she was a little behind on pop culture, but damn!"
"Here's the wild part: it actually helped them solve the murder. The witnesses embraced mom. She was cool to them. Anthropology, once again, made dad a better cop."
Emmaline sighed, leaning on her hands with a dreamy look. "They're such soul mates. I can't take it!"
'Cause you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can't hold out forever
Even walls fall down…
"And yet, it took them years to start dating," Seeley mused. "Even though their entire partnership was fraught with sexual tension sublimated as sarcasm and debate."
Christine groaned. "Has anyone ever told you that you're just like your father?"
"Well, he did write the book on ol' B&B."
Cole's eyebrows raised. "There's a book about your parents? Oh, he means your mom's murder mysteries, right?"
Hank chuckled. "Nah, he means the psychological profile the late Dr. Sweets wrote about their partnership that he chucked in the trash, because it was all BS."
Seeley's cheeks flushed crimson. "It was not! It was, unfortunately, based on a faulty premise."
"The premise being they'd never made out prior to becoming partners," Michael clarified for Cole. "He didn't know about the first case and the tequila."
"I love the tequila story!" Emm gushed, setting a vase of flowers on a small table near Michael's photo. "Even if it ended sadly, it gives their story such an epic beginning."
Cole was clearly caught off-guard by the deep history shared by her extended family. While Emm had grown up with Christine, learning the stories alongside her, Cole was so new to their inner circle. She supposed it could be overwhelming for anyone outside the Jeffersonian clique. Planting a kiss on his cheek, she checked his shoulder with her own.
"I'm sorry. This is like a gigantic family reunion."
His hand shoved his hair out of his face. "No, no, it's fine. It's an anniversary party. It's just your parents, they're like a movie or something."
"They kinda are. They made a movie of one of mom's books."
Christine giggled, turning back to her tea lights. Yeah, Cole wasn't going to last. He was too… simple.
All around your island
There's a barricade
That keeps out the danger
That holds in the pain…
"All kidding aside guys, I always wondered why Dad bothered to propose to Hannah," Parker piped up. "It never made sense to me, and I mean, I was a kid when that happened."
From the kitchen, Angela's voice boomed: "Because he was an idiot!"
The room filled with laughter as a silent agreement was made to take a break from party preparations to tackle the greatest misstep in the honoured relationship.
"Idiocy aside," Seeley began, "the real answer is subconscious self-sabotage. The two of them were experts in it. My father understood that—"
"And here comes the psychology!" Hank groaned.
"You can dismiss it all you like, but I'm right here. Dr. Brennan has always hidden behind science and its cold facts to avoid confronting the risks and pain of emotional bonds. And my namesake long struggled with a fear of being unlovable, so much so that he compensated by overcommitting to relationships."
"And you got all that from your father's book, which even he admitted was crap?" Parker teased.
"The conclusions were wrong, but the case studies of their individual personalities remained spot-on. Hannah was a rebound, and to prove he wasn't unworthy of love altogether, he needed to commit fast. Move in, share a home, propose… Just like with your mother, Parker."
"You know what else was in that book? My mother telling you that psychology is a pseudo-science that ruins romance," Christine retorted.
Sometimes you're happy
Sometimes you cry
Half of me is ocean
Half of me is sky…
"Romance, huh? Was it romantic that Brennan shot Booth?"
Cole, who until now had been scrolling through his social media feed, dropped his phone. "Your mom shot your dad?"
"It only grazed him, and it was an accident," Christine muttered.
Seeley leaned back with a smug expression, much like the proverbial cat with the canary crumpled within its jaw. Exasperated, Christine looked to Michael for an assist. She had hors d'oeuvres to arrange.
"She was startled by snakes, Seeley, and she's not a cop. That's a stretch."
"But she was a licensed gun owner in multiple states before she even met Booth!" the psychology major countered triumphantly. "And afraid of snakes? I doubt it. My mother can tell you herself about the time she picked up an enormous snake without batting an eye. No, that was some tension and perhaps sublimated anger over watching her partner date other women."
Mercifully, Michael moved quickly to shut Seeley down. "Or maybe that previous experience made Dr. Brennan braver in the face of a future encounter with snakes? Maybe not being surrounded by them in an impractical Halloween costume helped? Occam's razor. Shave your theories down."
Thank you, she mouthed to him.
Michael shrugged. He just wants to feel close to his dad. But he's annoying me now.
Christine stifled a laugh. Seeley Wicks-Sweets certainly could use a little shrinking himself.
But you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can't hold out forever
Even walls fall down…
"Those two sure loved a costume," Angela mused, entering the room with the last of the food trays.
Daisy murmured her agreement as she balanced a bowl of what was surely a punch that carried a punch. "I swear, they made excuses to work undercover so they could flirt and blame the characters."
"Of course they did!" Angela's eyes twinkled with mischief as she sat down beside Parker. "Granted, the first case was a needed cover story. Not sure the slinky black dress was necessary for Bren, but they needed to infiltrate a shady fight club deal."
"Wasn't it usually mom who wanted to go undercover?" Hank asked.
"Yes!" Angela giggled softly, twisting her hair over her shoulder. "I kept telling her she wasn't fooling anyone, but she'd insist it was fun, like a game. A game of lust, maybe! Remember the knife throwing, Daisy?"
"The circus, right? Oh my god, that was scary and sexy all at once."
"You want a little psychology about Bren and Booth? I got one for you," Angela continued, turning her gaze upon Daisy's son. "They could have called off that knife throwing act, but they didn't. And Bren was the one who started adding in increasingly difficult objects for Booth to penetrate with that knife."
"Aunt Angela, ew!" Christine shrieked, covering her hands with her ears in disgust.
"I'm just saying, your mom has a serious love of role play. Lord knows those two kept it up after they conceived you, dear goddaughter of mine."
Some things are over
Some things go on
Part of me you carry
Part of me is gone…
Christine and Michael exchanged a knowing look. Anytime Christine's conception came up, Angela would be reminded of how she found out on the day Michael was born. And sure enough, Angela gushed about the three in the morning call her mother had made from her father's bathroom, sleepless and terrified her father was lying about being happy about the whole damn thing.
"She even thought that somehow, being pregnant would make Booth's brain tumor come back. I told her, 'Sweetie, welcome to pregnancy hormones. Get ready to cry at infomercials and live on Saltines for three months.' Of course your father was happy. It was out of order—the Catholic in him must have been losing it—but he had everything he'd ever dreamed of."
"Without a test tube," Daisy amended.
"Yeah, I don't know what she was thinking with that whole insemination thing."
Seeley shrugged, leaning back in his chair. "She was trying to have a relationship through science until she could manage one emotionally, perhaps. It's kinda romantic."
"Seeley, admitting something is romantic? Alert social media!" Parker quipped, popping a mini-quiche in his mouth.
A piercing chime sounded from the stereo, reigniting Christine's panic. "Shit, red alert! Kate's presentation is officially done, meaning—"
"Meaning Jack and your parents will be heading home with her any minute," Angela interrupted, suddenly flustered. "Enough gossip! Daisy, I need help cutting up the lemon squares. Hank, Parker, that wall over there needs more lights. Seeley, Michael, I need you two on watch outside. Michael, make sure Kate texts us when they reach the high school so we have a five-minute warning."
"And me?" Christine squeaked.
Angela rolled her eyes with a half-smirk. "Stop panicking! Light the candles and take a breather. You've earned it."
Christine slumped down in the arm chair. "Then why don't I feel like I have?"
Crouching down beside her, Michael's hand rested on her arm in that comforting way he'd always done. "Because you are a perfectionist overachiever like your mother, with the heart of your father. Which means planning something like this is your worst nightmare and happiest dream all at once. Relax, Chrissy. You've done an amazing job, and they're going to love it."
As he headed outside, playfully jostling Seeley, Christine noticed Emmaline's head tilted askance. "What?"
"Nothing." Smoothing her fingers over her hair in a check for strays, Emmaline smiled. "I can't wait to see your parents' faces."
But you got a heart so big
It could crush this town
And I can't hold out forever
Even walls fall down…
"Our children are exceedingly clever," Brennan mused, sipping a glass of wine.
"Well, they did have an assist from Angela and Jack. I guarantee you that using Kate's presentation at the Jeffersonian was their idea," Booth countered, wrapping an arm around her.
They'd fallen for the entire plot: the presentation, to be followed by a celebratory dinner party. Angela and Michael's absence explained through an urgent dental appointment for the latter. They'd entered the Hodgins-Montenegro house expecting a small group of friends, and come face to face with a somewhat larger gathering of their closest friends—chosen family, really.
With, of course, one exception: the rather awkward, out of place man at their daughter's side.
"How long do you think this one will last?" Booth mused, jerking his head towards Cole.
"She'll break up with him next week," Brennan replied confidently.
"That soon? He's headed into law enforcement, which at least aligns with her forensics program. Better than that moron who was taking English as a major," Booth scoffed.
"All the more reason for her to find faults faster. She'll hold him to a higher standard and he'll fail sooner, rather than later."
Angela approached, a glass of Cabernet in hand. "Happy anniversary! Christine did a great job, didn't she?"
"With your help, Ange." Brennan embraced her friendly warmly, holding tight to her dearest friend.
"She planned everything. I just helped with the execution." Sipping her wine, she followed Booth's gaze. "Ah yes, the chump of the week. Remind you of anyone, Booth?"
Booth laughed, raising his scotch. "Oh no, I'm not stepping on that landmine!"
"I wouldn't laugh so hard, Studly. In the far corner, we have Baby Booth Redux."
The trio glanced across the room, noticing Michael Hodgins, whose gaze was fixed upon a grinning brunette engrossed in a conversation with Colin Fisher. Brennan smirked, connecting the dots.
"I must admit, there is a familiarity in the friendship of our respective offspring, Angela."
"They've been doing this dance for years," Booth murmured.
Angela shrugged. "I've tried calling him out on it, but he usually tells me to shut up. Aha, wait for it…"
They each took a drink, pretending not to notice how Michael joined Christine's conversation with Fisher, positioning himself to Christine's right. To her left was Cole, ignored now as Christine laughed and slapped Michael's arm playfully.
"I wish they'd hurry up and figure it out already," Angela grumbled, downing her wine.
With a knowing look at her husband, Brennan's lips curved into a smile. "They'll figure it out, Angela. Everything happens eventually…"
Everything. Even me finishing this collection.
I believe my math holds out, but for your reference, I assumed the following ages of the Jr Jeffersonian
Christine - 21
Hank - 18
Michael - 22
Kate - 16
Seeley - 17
Parker - 31
Review if you please, let me know if you're still out there. The rest of the outline is a bit angstier, so hopefully this little calm will ease you through future storms.