AN: So, hi!

For those who don't chat me up on Twitter, my honeymoon was fantastic... and then the day after we got home, a major ice storm took out my hydro/water/heat for several days, displaced me to my dad's house out of town, the holidays happened, our internet failed and many other things that just did not leave me in the right headspace for this fun fic.

But finally, with the encouragement of three_squares (one of the very first people to welcome me to Bones land), this chapter is ready. We are finally putting this baby to bed!

Previously, on my version of Bones: Brennan broke her hand and is a hungry, wacky, lusty gal on Oxycontin; Hurricane Dolly trapped our duo in Miami, where they encountered Tim Sullivan and Hannah Burley in grand fashion; and then, because Brennan insisted, our couple snuck away into a closet to release some... tension. You ready for the finale? A little less comedic, a little more fluff, but still great fun.

Bonus prizes: a sly reference to one of my first one-shots; and another special reference I know my recipient will get. Hee hee.

Monkey, my awesome writer friend who will do amazing things this year: enjoy!

Disclaimer: The only thing that's mine is my whacked-out sense of humour and enjoyment of chemically-impaired characters.

"I can't find my thing," Brennan whined quietly.

"What thing?" Booth asked, zipping the fly of his jeans hurriedly.

"The thing.. under my shirt thing," Brennan replied. "My vocabulary is suddenly stunted."

"Your bra?" Booth suggested.

"Yes! That. I need more light." The display of her phone glowed blue-white in the darkness of the supply closet as she scanned the ground between them. "Why did you remove it?"

Booth felt his cheeks flush, grateful for the near-dark. "It was in my way," he murmured huskily. "Here, I'll help you," he offered, shining his phone around the cramped space. "Oh, over there. On the mop handle."

Brennan did a little happy dance, Booth's breath hitching as her ample breasts bounced in the shadows. "Thank you, Booth!" With a little shimmy, she managed to pull the strap over her good arm and promptly recalled why removing it had been a complex affair. "Um... my bad arm."

"I got it, Bones." With gentle touches, he maneuvered the bra through the sling and back up her arm, fastening it deftly behind her. "You know, I enjoy helping you with this."

"You also delay my getting ready when you help me," Brennan demurred.

"Can you blame me?" His mouth found the nape of her neck and sucked gently at her soft skin, earning a quiet gasp. "You're irresistible and you're mine."

"I'm... not property..." Her words stumbled over each other as her palm reached behind her, sliding along the length of him.

His hands were wandering too, wrapping around her and cupping her breasts lightly. "But you're mine," he growled.

"Booth... This... is not conducive to... Things."

"You're right," he admitted reluctantly, his jeans uncomfortably tight once more. "I'll stop."

Her hand flew to cover his, pressing it firmly against her breast. "I never said stop."

Dangerous words to utter to a man who'd surrendered all control to lust. It was how they were nearly caught thirty minutes later in a somewhat awkward yet incredibly satisfying position Brennan giddily would refer to for the remainder of the day as Closet Sutra.

Eight hours, thirty-three minutes.

That was how long they'd been trapped in the airport, waiting for a flight that seemed destined to never depart. The current prediction was another hour before departure, which meant that in the next twenty minutes or so, they'd adjust the time further into the future or cancel it outright.

"Parker should be landing soon," Booth mused aloud.

Brennan nodded, rolling her shoulders in clear discomfort. "He'll arrive when we depart."

"If we depart," Booth grumbled.

"I did offer to secure accommodations for the night - "

"I know, Bones. I just want to get home." His frustration was consuming him and he recognized the harsh tone he'd taken almost immediately. "How's your hand?" he asked, willing himself to relax.

"Sore," she admitted reluctantly. "I believe the medication has worn off."

Booth did a few quick mental calculations, complicated by her sort-of double dosing. "Hmm... Yeah, you're about due for another pill. Take one."

Loopy Drugged Brennan might be an insatiable lust machine with a curious hunger for Mexican food and a tendency of fumbling her sentences, but Pained Brennan broke his heart and stomped on the pieces. Booth studied her visibly blanched skin as she slid her good hand into her purse and twisted the bottle open. She's in agony. It took one to know one, and Booth had brushed off enough injuries to recognize the false face of I'm fine.

"You shouldn't have waited so long," he gently chided her.

"I missed clarity of thought."

Booth shook his head. "You're still more clear than most people when drugged, Bones."

"Perhaps, but I'm not most people," she countered.

His arm wrapped around her, pulling her gently against him. "You're one of a kind," he assured her, kissing the top of her head.

The minutes passed in strange solitude, the eye of a storm. Travelers and their bags passed in a flurry of annoyance and exhaustion. Airlines paged standby passengers and announced further delays. Recorded security warnings reminded them to not leave bags unattended. The scent of her - vanilla and honey - filled his senses as he rested his head lightly on hers. Breathing in tandem. Overhead, Booth watched their flight shift another twenty minutes into the future. It was the smallest jump it had taken all day. Hope?


"Yeah, Bones?"

"I think the Oxycontin is starting to work again."

"That's good..."

Booth's voice trailed away as he caught sight of someone through the crowded rows of gate seating. No... No, this can't be happening. His eyes scanned wildly, seeking confirmation, hoping to be wrong.

"Our flight is delayed again," she added, catching sight of the board to her left.

"Then I guess I better find you a snack for your Oxy Munchies," Booth joked weakly.

Dark hair. But no face. I need to see his face, he thought angrily, craning his neck. Come on... come on... The physique was right, but it had been so long ago...

"My what?" Brennan asked.

"Munchies," Booth repeated. "You're always hungry these days."

As Booth finally got visual confirmation of his fears, Brennan playfully replied, "Maybe I'm pregnant."

He would never be able to tell whether it was her words or the realization that Michael Stires was at their gate that made his jaw drop open. In the end, it hung gaping, Booth unsure of which shock to respond to first.


His wife giggled as she turned to glance at him, her hand gently pressing his mouth closed. "Booth, I'm joking!"

"Jesus, Bones! You scared me!"

Her eyebrow raised. "Having more children with me is scary?"

"No! I just... Okay scared is a bad term," Booth backtracked.

"I thought you were happy to be a father..."

Definitely Stires, fifty feet away. Booth found himself torn between the landmine he'd stepped in and the one they were doomed to step in soon. "I am! I just... okay, I meant surprised. Not scared." He leaned forward to kiss her. "I love our family, and if you ever wanted another, I'd be open to that."

Her smile reassured him that one fire had been put out, at least for the moment. If she caught sight of her former professor slash lover, however... Think, Booth. What to do? As satisfying as it would be to punch the guy for what he'd done to her years ago, it wasn't worth antagonizing the already irritated security team. It was also a really long time ago, he rebuked himself. She loves me. He's nobody to us.

"I'm hungry," he announced. "Which means I'm going for food anyway. You want anything?"

She mulled this over for a few moments, then nodded. "I want something light. But delicious. Maybe warm. Yes, warm food."

"Alright, I'll go find you the perfect snack. Stay right here," he told her.

Her brow furrowed. "Where would I go?"

"Exactly!" he replied, grinning.

Rushing away from the gate, Booth pulled out his cell phone and immediately dialed the one person he could trust to help him out with this disaster in the making. As expected, his first call went to voice mail; his second one was answered with an exhausted sigh.


"Charlie, it's Booth. I need a favour..."

Brennan mulled reading the book she'd brought in her carry-on while waiting for Booth to return, but quickly decided against it. First of all, there was no way to know how much longer they'd be stranded, and with no confidence in the potential in-flight films available, she didn't care to risk being without something to do on board. Second of all, she found that narcotics lent a strange hazy aura to text on the airport monitors, which boded poorly for successful comprehension.

Sitting quietly, then. Fine.

Her eyes drifted over the other frustrated passengers seated at their gate, studying their mannerisms, clothing and other markers. The anthropologist within was never at rest. People were fascinating and endlessly varied, yet ultimately remained easy to categorize by core similarities. She noted one woman's unusual gait and quickly hypothesized an injury most commonly occurring in ballerinas. Another male's orbital socket showed evidence of severe eye injury in preadolescence. The precise injury eluded her, what with the colours occasionally streaking and her decreased processing capabilities. But it was injured.

And then, just when she'd decided that she was bored of waiting for Booth and too hungry to resist the snacks at a nearby newsstand, she spotted a face she could never forget, even if she weren't a gifted scientist. Michael. His hair was silvered slightly, his posture slightly slouched, but his was a face burned into her memory. Instinctively, she searched the gate for Booth, hoping he'd found himself distracted by some sort of burger or pie. If he'd lost his cool enough to physically grab Sully, Michael Stires... well, he'd be wishing he was Hannah.

It shouldn't hurt after so many years and yet, the ache in her chest was immediate. The betrayal... and not just of her, of their past emotional bond, but of academia - of the truth itself - was what still stung, even now. Her consolation: justice for Maggie Schilling in spite of Stires' cruelty, and Booth.

November, 2005

The Washington Memorial case was somewhat fascinating, but ultimately solved readily by trace particulates located by Hodgins and an unusual weapon that tracked back to the victim's estranged brother-in-law. A momentary distraction, really. As soon as she sat down to file her paperwork, it all came rushing back to the forefront of her mind: the Schilling trial; Michael's lies; the way she'd been exposed on the stand. And while she'd accepted Booth's initial apology, she still felt emotionally raw and angry.

It made Booth's "come do paperwork with me" call, fast becoming routine, very unwelcome.

She refused his first invitation, and his second. The third became an order delivered in person, which immediately infuriated her and suddenly, it was that second case all over again: she was walking away as fast as she could and he caught up because he ran and his damn legs were longer.

"You may have done the right thing, Booth, but it was still a betrayal. I've had enough of men and their manipulation to last me many years." She glared at him, inwardly cursing the softness in his deep brown eyes. "I just want to go home. Alone."

"Bones, I'm sorry. You know I am. You know I did it for Maggie, for you - because seeing her get justice meant everything to you..." Booth sighed deeply, his shoulders slumping. "Let me buy you dinner, alright? As a friend."

She hesitated. "I don't want to go to a restaurant."

"Fine, take-out." He must have felt her wavering because he quickly added, "I need to make it up to you, Bones. You're my partner."

"I reserve the right to still feel upset, even if I forgive you by logical reasoning," she replied in caveat.

His visible relief soothed her rage. "Fair enough. Chinese or Thai?"

Two hours later, she absently picked at a second helping of green curry, scarcely tasting the spices as the fire blossomed in her belly. She'd spoken very little and neither had Booth, but somehow, it was comfortable. Natural. She liked that about him - that as much as she enjoyed their conversations, she could also be silent and he would accept it readily. She liked it and at times found it disarming. Booth knew her well - too well.

"He flinched," she murmured suddenly, recalling her conversation with Michael outside of the courtroom. "I never thought him capable."

"Flinched?" Booth gently prodded.

Abandoning the carton on the table, Brennan folded her legs up on the couch beside her. "One of the things he taught me was to speak the truth at all costs. To never flinch out of fear, or bribes, or... anything. What he did here... He flinched."

Booth nodded thoughtfully, leaning forward in his chair. "You're right, he did. A lot of people do, Bones. I see it all the time: cops pushing the limits of the law to squeak out convictions that they didn't have the patience to work for. Lawyers that withhold proof of their clients' guilt and don't seem bothered when the guys re-offend. Hell, even I've felt that desperate to nail someone to the wall that I just wanted whatever would work..."


Booth nodded. "Thing is, Stires knows you and not even that could steer him right. And if someone with your passion and conviction can't keep him from selling out, nothing can. Which makes him worth less than nothing, in my books."

Brennan mulled his words for a long minute, contemplating the gravity with which her partner spoke. 'First the truth and then the catching.' she'd told him on their first case - and as cocky and self-absorbed as he could be, Booth had listened to her. He'd trusted in her abilities, allowed her time to find what he needed.

"You-you think I'm passionate?" she asked quietly.

"About what you do - what we do, together? Of course!" Booth's hand reached across the space between them, taking hold of hers. "Stires has no idea of who you really are. He is not worth a minute more of your time."

She glanced down at their hands, squeezing in reciprocating before reluctantly allowing him to slip from her grasp. "Thank you, Booth."

"Anytime, Bones."

It was a promise, she'd later come to understand. One he honoured for years to come.

Brennan felt the urge to get up, to confront Michael, call him out on all of his flaws (although it would be childish and irrational, given the lapsed years). She wanted him gone before Booth saw him and... and did something worse than slug a journalist in a crowded terminal. That concern was far more immediate and practical.

In the end, she did nothing. She didn't have to.

Two security officers - one of them, she realized, had attended her scuffle with Hannah - approached Michael suddenly and made it very clear that he was to leave with them. She watched as Michael protested, ultimately falling on deaf ears. As the discussion escalated into a very noisy argument, she managed to catch three critical words from her vantage point: "Hold for information."


Speaking of her husband, who was perhaps more observant than she'd given him credit for, he was approaching from her right, carrying two paper bags and smirking. She tilted her head askance, gesturing to her irate ex-boyfriend being manhandled away from their gate.

"Hey, Bones! I got you a tasty soft pretzel!" Booth declared, handing her a paper bag.

"Booth, what did you do?"

"I got us food. Hey, was that Stires? Wonder what happened."

Brennan shook her head. "Probably the same thing that happened to me back in 2005."

"C'mon Bones, look at this face." He grinned at her, widening his eyes for goofy effect. "Would this face be capable of bad things?"


Booth feigned indignation. "Hey, am I glad to not be sharing a plane with that asshole? Absolutely! But I did not make any calls to security."


Booth nodded firmly, pulling a pretzel from his second bag. "I do."

Perhaps it was the Oxycontin, but it took her four bites into her pretzel to finally put it all together. "Booth, did you contact someone and have them place a hold?"

Booth whistled in harmony with the announcement chimes overhead: "Your attention please. Boarding will begin shortly for United Airlines flight 3527 to Washington Dulles. We appreciate your patience today and thank you for flying with United."

"Hey! We're going home!" Booth cheered.

Brennan couldn't help herself: she chuckled, leaning into her husband with a sigh. At least he didn't strike him...

July 19, 2014

"It's ringing again," Booth mumbled angrily.

"You get it," Brennan muttered, burrowing under the blankets.

"You're closer!" Booth whined.

"My hand's broken," Brennan countered.

"Damn it!"

As he crossed their bedroom to silence the phone, Booth swore he heard her tease him with a "Nah, nah!"

"Aww come on, it's Angela! It's clearly for you!" he protested, checking the display.

"Don't care," Brennan replied wearily. "We didn't get to bed until two."

"Because you were medicated and insatiable," Booth mumbled, finally hitting the Answer button. "Why hello, Angela! How lovely to hear from you at eight in the morning after spending a day in airport limbo!"

"Oh, I know all about it!" Angela replied. "Have you seen the news?"

Booth felt the blood drain from his face, "News?"

"You think I'd call anyone this early without good reason?" Angela asked.

Booth knew the answer, but had to ask anyway. "What's on the news, Angela?"

Brennan's head peeked out from beneath the covers. "News?"

"Dr. B. kicking ass!" Hodgins called out in the background. "Hannah. Enough said," Angela added. "What happened to Bren's arm?"

"Hiking accident. Exactly how much of Hannah made it onto the news?" Booth asked.

"Hannah?" Brennan was now wide awake, throwing the blankets aside. "The cell phones?"

"Enough that they're calling it a smackdown and running it alongside Bieber's drug indictment and the latest Kardashian drama," Angela replied. "It's all over TMZ and E!"

"Crap," Booth muttered as Brennan's cell phone began to ring. "Thanks, Ange. I better start damage control."

"Sure thing. Oh and Studly? Tell Bren she totally won that fight, with one arm tied to her chest. Seriously bad ass."

Booth rolled his eyes and hung up, passing his wife's phone over. She immediately grimaced at the name on the screen.

"It's my agent!" she hissed.

"So answer it!"

She shook her head furiously. "No, I can't! Not until I've seen the news."

Booth winced as he opened a text from Parker that was far too celebratory for his liking. "Are you sure, Bones? I mean, it'll be grainy video of an argument you were part of."

"An argument I was highly medicated during," she moaned, pulling on her robe. "This is humiliating!"

"I don't know," Booth replied, following her downstairs. "I mean, Angela says you were a bad ass and Hodgins agreed!"

"Oh no!" Brennan wailed. "That means it's very, very embarrassing,"

Another text from Cam: Hey Booth, how's the slugger? Can't say I'm sorry about Barbie's face.

Booth watched as his wife Googled herself and immediately gasped at the number of current news articles relating to the airport incident. She clicked the first one from TMZ, muttering the 'exclusive video' part of the headline.

A new text, from Sweets: As if I didn't already learn, never piss off Dr. Brennan. And the journalism jab? Snap!

"Maybe I should watch it first," Booth suggested.


Brennan scrolled past the usual sensationalized junk in the article, playing the video immediately. It was surprisingly high quality for cell phone footage - clearly a newer smartphone - and it picked up the action from shortly after she'd pulled Hannah off of him.

"M-married? I didn't notice."

"Isn't it your job to be detail-oriented? I wonder how you've managed to win a single journalism award, let alone several, given your extreme failure to perceive basic facts or even body language. Booth clearly had no interest in a physical interaction with you."

"My speech is slurred," Brennan complained.

"Not yet," Booth replied.

"What does that mean?" she snapped.

The video continued to play, capturing every barb, every angry look - and every staggered step Brennan took. The more she watched with a clear head, the more horrified Brennan looked.

"Booth, I am perfectly capable of defending myself, even with one hand and a double dose of medication."

"I said that?" Brennan groaned. "And now, people will think I have a substance abuse issue."

"Bones, you clearly have a fractured hand. They'd be more concerned if you were refusing painkillers."

Beside her, her cell phone rang again. "My agent. Again. She won't stop."

"Look, you've seen enough to get the gist. People watched my ex be rude to you and you... put her in her place."

"Booth, I am a scientist. I operate with reason, not emotionality! I clearly overreacted to her provocation and am now the laughingstock of the professional world." She winced as she threw her first jab at Hannah's face in clear focus, burying her face in her hands. "This is terrible. My agent is likely dropping my next book now."


"And Tess Brown is gloating, no doubt," she continued, stopping the video as the fight hit the ground. "I can't read the article. How bad is it?"

Booth leaned over and took control of the mouse, scrolling upwards to scan the text. "Best-selling novelist... yadda yadda Andy and Kathy... 'smacked down Hannah Burley, the apparent real-life inspiration for the character of Candy Miller, the TV anchorwoman who captured Andy's affections in Brennan's fifth book, Bones Are Forever... Hey, wait a minute: that really was based on Hannah? You told me she was completely fictional."

Brennan grimaced. "Perhaps..."

"You had her disappear without a trace during a story in Egypt!"

She shrugged in reply. "You are not Andy Lister, Booth!"

"Yeah, sure. Anyway, the general consensus is that Hannah deserved what she got," Booth concluded. "And your phone is ringing. Again."

With a grimace, Brennan finally gave in and took her agent's call. "Hello, Andrea... Um, yes... Well yes, I have sustained injuries to my phalanges but my revisions are already done... Oh? Oh, I see... Really?"

"What?" Booth whispered, shutting the browser quickly once he spotted a comment clearly from Daisy Wick - gushing about her mentor's expertise in multiple martial arts and her intellectual prowess - that bordered on psychotic.

Brennan waved him away, listening intently to her agent. "Yes... Undo the change to chapter thirty-three? But Gregory agreed... Okay, fine... I'm not going to confirm that Candy is based on Hannah Burley... Okay, thank you for your call."

"What?!" Booth demanded impatiently.

"Andrea has obviously seen the video," Brennan began, setting the phone down beside her. "They're moving up the release of Bone Voyage. Apparently, pre-orders are up 700% in the last twenty-four hours."

"Wow! See? No bad publicity here."

"But they want me to change the plot," Brennan continued. "Originally, Candy was going to die in the book, but my editor and I changed our minds on it and left her fate unknown. Andrea wants me to change it back."

Booth mulled this over, frowning. "That's, uh..."

"Morbid?" Brennan prompted.

"Yeah." Booth pulled her closer, mindful of her injury. "Are you going to kill Candy then?"

"No," she replied firmly, kissing him gently.

"Good. I say you stick by your creative vision."

"Besides, I think the death I have planned for her in my next book is a superior plot," Brennan added, pulling away and wandering towards the kitchen. "Breakfast?"

"Wait, Bones? What death?"

"Booth, you know the rules - "

"I am your husband!" he argued.

"And that's why I let you read the uncorrected proof now, instead of waiting for the official release date," she replied, wincing as she opened the cupboard overhead.

Ever vigilant, Booth reached for her purse, retrieving her medication. "Take one."

"Oh, no," Brennan protested. "I've seen what happens when I am medicated. I will make do with Tylenol."

"Bones, c'mon... Take it."

Brennan glared at him, gesturing to the computer. "And have more of that? No way."

"What, having your name above Justin Bieber's in the tabloids? That's great publicity for Kathy and Andy," Booth reassured her. "I bet you're even more popular on Twatter or whatever it's called. Read It, Dig It, those sites that do those things..."

"How very eloquent," Brennan teased.

"Yeah, well take your damn pill and come down to my level," Booth insisted with a wink. "It's fun here. Very fun, if I remember a certain utility closet correctly..."

"Or the limo home from Dulles," she demurred. "You do make a good point. Hand it over."

Pouring her a glass of water, Booth shook his head, thinking back on the previous day's events. "You know I love you. I will happily care for you when medicated. I will find you all of the nachos you can possibly eat. I will flagrantly abuse my position to keep you out of jail. But promise me one thing."

Brennan swallowed her Oxycontin, setting her water down. "Name your terms."

"That we never, ever fly through Miami International Airport again? That place is the real-life Hellmouth!" Booth exclaimed.

"Hellmouth? I don't know what that means."

"Oh come on Bones! Buffy The Vampire Slayer? Blonde cheerleader girl fights demons and vampires? Famous TV show?" At her continued confusion, he groaned. "It was huge! Didn't every woman watch that show? It was filled with pining vampires with souls who walked around shirtless despite needing to put in more time at the gym first, if you ask me."

"I have no idea what show you're talking about, although you seem to know a great deal about the male cast members," Brennan replied mischievously.

"Apparently, I look exactly like one of them. One of the agents in the bullpen wouldn't shut up about it back when I joined the Bureau," Booth grumbled.

"Do you?" At his puzzled look, she clarified, "Look like the vampire guy?"

Booth pulled her close, trailing kisses along her neck. "About the... only thing... in common... is a desire... to taste your neck..."

"Mmm... I enjoy this similarity..." Brennan purred.

"When is Max bringing Christine home?" Booth murmured.

"Three hours," she whispered as she glanced at her watch, pressing herself closer.

Quickly lifting her over his shoulder in a fireman carry, Booth patted her ass. "That'll have to do."

"Booth! Put me down!" Brennan squealed, flailing her legs.

"Oh, I will," he assured her. "On the washer."

A silence, then understanding.

"Well, we do have a lot of laundry to wash after our trip," she replied coyly.

"It'll take hours," Booth agreed huskily.

"Hours," she echoed happily as he placed her on top of the machine and began undressing her.

And they did have three hours... if Brennan's watch was still set to Brazil's time zone, as she believed it to be. She'd forgotten all about switching it to local time on the flight from Miami.

Which was how Max - a napping Christine in tow, placed gently on the couch - came to experience a trauma no father should ever experience: catching his daughter in an incredibly compromising position atop a noisy washing machine.

"Goddamn it, couldn't you two save the follow-up sex tape for another day?" he blustered, slamming the laundry room door.

The two of them exchanged frantic looks in silence, each glancing at the door in horror. After a long minute of silence, save Max's ranting from the hallway, Booth spoke at last.

"There is no good response, is there?" he whispered.

"Oh, there is," Brennan countered, fumbling for her shirt.


Without missing a beat, Brennan kissed him on the cheek and whispered in his ear: "Install a lock on that door."

"Are you two decent yet?" Max demanded.

"You first," Booth insisted, tugging on his pants.

"You have two working arms," Brennan snapped, pulling fruitlessly at her own pants.

"Not for long," Booth hissed.

Max was becoming very impatient. "Booth? Tempe?"

"Mommy! Daddy!" a younger, feminine voice chimed in.

"He won't murder us in front of our daughter, right?" Booth asked.

"I don't believe so..."

"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Bones."

Sensing that it was up to her - limited faculties and all - to save her husband from her father, Brennan drew a deep breath and considered her options quickly. With a toss of her tousled hair, Brennan stepped out into the hall and played the only card she had:

"I'm medicated."

"Yes, sweetheart. The entire world knows," Max replied with a disapproving glare. "We'll talk another time about your trip. Right now, I'm going to drink myself into a state of amnesia."

"Dad, we're married!"

"When Christine gets married, ask Booth if it makes a difference for him," he replied. With a kiss to her cheek, he whispered, "By the way, nice handling of Barbie."

"Violence is not a solution!" she protested as he walked out the door.

Max turned back with a wink. "Do you really want to have this discussion with me?"

No, she really didn't. As the door shut behind him, another opened behind her. From behind it, her husband peered out anxiously.

"Is he gone?"

"Yes, Booth. Come out of there!"

"MOMMY! DADDY!" Christine called happily from the living room.

"Well, what now?" Booth asked.

What, indeed. Her mind was hazy; her name was on every gossip blog after a day filled with encounters between them and their respective exes; and her father had just seen her bent over a household appliance. Really, there was only one thing she could think of.

"Nachos?" she replied cheerily.

Whew! Well, this Secret Santa business was far more complex than I first pictured it, but I had an absolute blast.

Thank you, so much, to every single person who reviewed, tweeted links, tweeted encouragement, any of it... You are all so amazing. I've spotted some of your new faces wandering into my other stories and enjoying them, which is just awesome.

Special thanks to three_squares and Covalent Bond, both of whom talked me off writer's ledges of worry as needed. You ladies awe me with your words - fictional and otherwise.

Thanks also to our lovely SS organizer, Biba79! It's been great reading and writing this year. You're a star!

Last, but not least: without dharmamonkey's seemingly simple prompt, this story would have never happened. This genius sprung from her planted seeds of awkward encounters. I'm so glad you've enjoyed this story as I always enjoy yours.