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 'Bed of Lies: A Post Season 8 Finale Story'

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PostSubject: 'Bed of Lies: A Post Season 8 Finale Story'   Sun May 05, 2013 12:07 pm

Bed of Lies

No I would not sleep in this bed of lies
So toss me out and turn in
And there'll be no rest for these tired eyes

Don't wanna be the one who turns the whole thing over
Don't wanna be somewhere where I just don't belong
Where it's not enough just be sorry
~Bed of Lies, Rob Thomas

Booth crept into their bedroom at 2 o'clock in the morning. Brennan had left the living room visibly upset after he'd ended their engagement. She'd actually been looking through a 200 page bridal magazine ... Temperance Brennan, for Christ's sake, and a bridal magazine!

Perhaps to an outsider she may not have looked that upset, but he knew her like he knew himself—better than he knew himself. She was upset. She was more than upset. Sweets had warned him once ... Cam had echoed Sweets' words: If he wasn't sure about his love for her ... and he let her put her heart out there only to have him change his mind ... she would close her heart and never open it to a single soul for the rest of her life. He'd sat in the living room wishing he could die. After all this time; all these years. The one thing he thought he'd never have. The one thing he'd wanted since the moment he saw her—though it hadn't appeared to him in the form of a proposal … he'd simply known that she was meant to be his future. That's how Seeley Booth looked at things. Call it kismet. Call it a miracle. He knew there would be miracles as long as he had her in his life. Marrying her-making her his wife-nothing would have made him happier. Nothing.

And she was so … happy. In all the years he'd known this woman. Never … not even when it had to do with their beautiful daughter … never had he seen her so utterly … joyous. And relaxed about being joyous! She'd finally surrendered to her feelings for him. She actually said she wanted it, wanted marriage, now ... and he had to take that away.

He saw the moment she put her feelings in a box, folded the flaps over the opening, and taped that box closed ... then painfully, quietly, slid that box onto the last shelf inside her heart. She -compartmentalized. "I'm impressed you've finally seen my point of view," she'd said, though he saw straight through it all. She was dying. And he was the one killing her. That's what was killing him.

As he made his way up the creaking stairs of their old home, the home he'd found for her, the home they'd spent months decorating together then filling with their love … he heard her click off the lamp on the table beside her side of the bed. He stood outside their bedroom door and listened to her sniff several times and quickly clear her throat, then pull the starchy sheets up over her limp exhausted body.

Booth pushed the door open with his fingertips and stood looking at her form under the sheets, her face turned away from him. He closed the door quietly and walked to the foot of the bed.

"Bones?" His voice cracked even though he was whispering. She didn't move. "Bones," he said again, sinking a tentative knee into the mattress, then sitting down beside her covered feet. He hesitated, then placed a hand gently on the duvet covering the fullest part of her right calve. He heard her eyelashes scratch against her pillow, but still she said nothing and gave no indication that she heard him.

"This probably doesn't make sense to you—" he started, then stopped. He couldn't do it. The speech he'd carefully thought out—word for word—and practiced down stairs—the speech meant to soothe Brennan without alerting Pelant that he was about to break one of his rules—it abandoned him. He couldn't remember a single word. It was as if the words of that speech had been erased backwards, one at a time, with each step he had taken since he began ascending the stairs. All that was left was his first sentence.

Holy Spirit, he prayed, put the right words into my mouth and help me say the right thing. Keep us safe. Then he opened his mouth to deliver the only thing he could remember from his speech.

"Bones, this may not make sense to you right now, but this doesn't mean I don't love you or I love you any less than I loved you this morning or earlier today or a week ago. I know it's not logical," he said, then swallowed loudly. He squeezed her calve and felt her pull her legs up and away from his touch. She sniffed. He closed his eyes and sighed. Then he crawled up and sat behind her.

"Bones—If nothing else, I love you more," he shrugged, though she couldn't see it. "You want me to be happy—" he continued, but then stopped when his throat tightened and he could barely breathe. That was when he realized her shoulders were shaking.

He listened closely for a moment and realized she was crying. He lay down behind her and put an arm around her, pulling her back against him. Her body was stiff, unyielding, and shaking.

"Bones," he whispered into the hair covering her ear. Then he had an idea. In a voice so low he could barely hear it himself, he breathed against her cheek, "cry as loud as you can, but listen to me. I have something to tell you. If you have any more love for me left in your heart, please, Bones!"

Brennan, still tense against him, turned her face two inches toward him for the first time and succumbed to the grief flooding her heart. It came out it a single silent sob that gripped her body like a dry heave and a quiet high-pitched moan that came out in one long string of intense grief.

At first he thought she was doing as he'd asked, making noise, but then he was struck with the realization that this was not an act; she had not understood what he'd said.

Pain struck through his chest like a bolt of electricity. Oh, God! This isn't going to work! He thought. I am going to stinking kill you, PELANT! A split second later he found himself scrambling over her so they were face to face. He pulled her forcefully into his arms and held her so tightly he feared he might hurt her. He had to make her feel his love … just as he could feel the life draining out of her crushed heart.

I can't do this, he thought to himself. We've made it through everything else; we will make it through this. We will figure out a way. Together. I can't put her through this!

The moment he opened his mouth to speak, he realized she wasn't the only one with tears in her eyes. "Bones," he whispered, enunciating every syllable so there was no mistaking what he had to say, "I have something to tell you—"

*** *** *** *** ***

Feel free to share your thoughts/feelings/ impressions of tonight's episode or/and this one shot. Bashing is not welcome ... but everything else is.

~As always, MoxieGirl
~ Talk BONES with me on Twitter at MoxieGirl44

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PostSubject: Chapter 2 'Girl Friday'    Sun May 05, 2013 12:12 pm

I'll Be Your Girl Friday

***** Girl Friday.noun. A 'go to girl' who will help you get things taken care of
***** and upon whom you can rely when you are in need of extra assistance;
***** a female who acts as a 'jack of all trades' and is capable of doing almost
***** anything. Example: 'When you need extra help...I'm your Girl Friday'
***** ~ The Urban Dictionary

Brennan lay limp and motionless in Booth's arms, her head bowed in defeat. She hadn't even opened her eyes. As she lay on her side facing him with him wrapped around her, silent tears dripped over the bridge of her nose from the right eye socket to the left where they pooled until they spilled down the left side of her face and raced into her hair.

"Bones, I—nothing has changed," he whispered against her ear, praying she'd believe this untruth. "I just think—we need to take some time—and think this through—rationally," he said plaintively.

Brennan snorted derisively.

"Just a little time—" he repeated, ignoring her reaction.

"Time for what, Booth?" She whispered wearily, then slowly opened her eyes to search his. "'I'm that guy', you said. 'I'm that guy who always knew. Right from the beginning!' That's what you told me," she said, her voice caught in her throat. "You said that—and I, I don't even know what to say to you now. I, I asked you to marry me, but I didn't tell you the whole truth—"

"What whole truth?"

"I said I wanted to marry you because it would make you happy—"

He nodded, his own expression pained.

"But I find there is a symbiosis between us where the whole is greater than the sum of our parts. There is no boundary to delineate which is my happiness and which is yours. It is one in the same and it's bigger than us. It belongs to us and—it's ours, together, and we both feel it, right?"

"Bones, what are you saying?" His brow furrowed as he tried to follow her train of thought. He instinctively kissed her on the forehead, urging her to continue. He knew this was difficult for her. Immeasurably.

"I'm not explaining this well." She looked deep into his eyes with a tenderness that made his heart beat a fierce syncopated rhythm against his rib cage. "Since we met in the park and...agreed to have our union legally documented in the eyes of our progeny and our progenies' progeny, I have experienced surprising joy and a pervasive peace peace," she said, her brow creasing and her voice cracking in anguish, "such," she shrugged, "—intense well being that it is possible that my happiness could now, perhaps, depend upon this form of commitment." Her chin quivered and her lips wiggled from a straight line to a frown and back several times. "Marriage, I mean. With you."

She closed her eyes as her cheeks and forehead slowly blushed crimson. This was a substantial revelation in view of all that had transpired between for for nearly a decade and, more poignantly, in the previous five hours.

"I know this is contrary to everything I've said, but I've come to appreciate the—value in and the beauty of making that declaration and documenting it for the world to know." She bit the inside of her lip and shrugged with her eyebrows. A deep upside down V creased her delicate skin over the bridge of her nose.

Booth searched her eyes from one to the other and back. The devastation he saw there threatened to still the blood coursing through his veins. Never could he have predicted that the very words he'd longed for, prayed to hear from her lips could simultaneously fill him with euphoria and heartbreak. His own eyes welled up with tears, threatening to make him do something stupid—like baring his soul, even if it put lives in danger.

"Our happiness is paramount to Christine's development as well, Booth," Brennan continued, pleading her case with the fervor of one pleading a high profile case before the Supreme Court. "Recent studies have shown that the most content and well-adjusted children have parents who are warm, responsive—happy. Recent research by pediatric neuropsychiatrists posits that children from happy home environments score 18% higher than the norm on the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children. They tend to have a 25% greater earning potential and are 39% less likely to engage in physically or emotionally abusive relationships as adults—" Her tone had become panicked, almost hysterical.

"Shh, shhh, shh," he murmured, pulling her head to his chest and squeezing her gently. "Alright, alright—" He soothed. Brennan finally allowed herself to unwind and lay her hand on his breast. Her labored breaths slowly began to even out.

"Bones, this isn't about Christine."

"Part of it is," she said in a voice that sounded like her mouth was full of marbles.

"This—is about you."

She squeezed her eyes shut and shook as more tears fell.

"And now you probably think I don't love you enough to want to make that commitment," he breathed against her hair, his own bottom lip quivering before he could stop it by clenching his jaw several times. "That's what I have to tell you—that nothing is further from the truth—"

"I don't understand, Booth," she moaned against his tee shirt as she beat his chest with her fist. "What could I have missed?"

"You didn't miss anything—!"

"Then why this sudden change of heart? Why?" She grabbed his tee shirt in her fist and pushed against him with it.

Booth closed his eyes and shook his head. What could he possibly say to her?

"Is it residual resentment from when Christine and I left?" She queried guiltily. "Dr. Sweets said it was always possible that could happen," she said after clearing her throat. "Booth, I had to do that, you know I had to."

"I understand, Bones," he assured her calmly. "I understood it then and I understand it now, alright? Trust me."

She looked up abruptly almost knocking him in the chin. Her eyes were glossy, her gaze penetrating and disbelieving. "Trust you?" She gasped incredulously through pinched lips.

Her pain frightened Booth, sending a shock of adrenaline shooting through his chest. "In our line of work, Bones," he said, pronouncing every word with great deliberation, "Sometimes we end up hurting the people we love in order to keep them safe." His eyes entreated her to understand.

"Safe? Wha—do you not think I am safe? Are you unsafe? That is an absurd excuse not to do something you have wanted for so long to do, Booth, and I do not accept it. Not from you!" She sat up abruptly and scooted over to the other side of the bed where she punched the pillow, then lay down rather roughly, gathering the sheets around her.

Booth hesitated and took several deep breaths to quell the anger making his blood boil. Closing his eyes, he massaged his forehead and puckered his lips as he made a silent vow. I am going to kill you, Christopher Stinking Pelant! I'm gonna rip you to pieces, choke you with my bare hands, spit in your face, and kick you in the testicles. Then, I will shoot you!

Once he regained his composure, he sidled up behind her. His fingers skating over her cheek, he gathered some loose hairs and tucked them behind her ear, then put his hand over her ear and whispered into it. "Bones, just promise me you'll think about the things we've just said here," he whispered into her ear. "Like about when you and Christine left—every word. Bones?" He hoped and prayed she understood he was referring to what he said about having to do things you don't want to do in order to keep your loved ones safe. He shook her gently by the hip and waited for a response. Nothing. He curled himself around her leaving a sliver of distance between them except for his the warm hand on her hip he'd shaken her with. "And, that we are in this together. No matter what," he whispered.

Acutely aware of the heat of his fingers and palm penetrating her hip, Brennan was flooded with memories of how he's used that hand to communicate with her. This is the hand that has comforted me, made love to me; she mused, the first to touch Christine fresh from my womb, and to steady a firearm to save my life. This is the hand of the man, this gentle lion of a man I will always love and belong to.

After several long moments, Brennan reached up and touched the hand on her hip, gently following the length of each of his fingers then covering them all with her own. She squeezed his hand and brought it to her breast where she held it close, pulling the rest of his body up against hers in a sigh that eventually released her from consciousness. Booth, however, couldn't sleep; he had a killer to catch—or kill. He really didn't care which.

He racked his brain for some way to tell Brennan that Pelant was behind the rejection of her proposal.

How did Pelant know she'd asked me to marry her? He wondered. We didn't discuss it on the phone. I didn't say anything to anyone else on the phone or through email or texting. How did he do it? Is the Jeffersonian bugged? Is the whole stinking park bugged? Is he watching us now? Booth felt nauseous.

'If you tell her, I'll know', that bastard had said. That meant he was going to be watching them. Always. Bastard!

If Booth whispered to Brennan, Pelant would read their lips. If he stole into her shower and spoke it quietly against the skin of her belly, he would figure it out—especially if Brennan appeared relieved afterward. Booth could write it on something, but Pelant would catch them on tape. He had eyes everywhere—he manipulated every piece of surveillance in D.C., and elsewhere. He shivered and threw up a little bit in his mouth. He knew he couldn't call, text, email, or speak to her or anyone else about it. The park is obviously bugged. He could write a note in one of their books and leave it for her, yet again, Pelant would figure that out … could he risk it? No matter what he decided to do, it would be risky. But what would be the least risky? He was going to need help from Angela …

How had Brennan and Max evaded Pelant? They left town in a stolen car, moved around frequently, changed their appearance, used only cash, and left no trace. They went off the grid. Booth couldn't do that. He wouldn't do that. If he did, five innocent people would lose their lives. That brought up the other item nagging at Booth's brain: who was the fifth innocent victim? Pelant pointed out a teenager with a green shirt and headphones, a couple on a bench, and the old man playing chess by himself. That was four. Who was the fifth?

Booth had assured Brennan that he himself hadn't been Pelant's target. 'Pelant sees this as a game—if I'm gone and you're gone then the game is over.' If that is the case, then Brennan must be safe as well. But what about Christine? Booth was really nauseous now—and pissed. Would Brennan agree to let Max take Christine on a trip off the grid? They could afford it, but what excuse could Booth possibly concoct that Brennan would accept without question?

Pelant lived on the fringe of society. No family. No friends. No emotional ties, except to his victims—and perhaps not even to all of them. No deep interpersonal relationships that sustained him. He was a sociopath who lacked the capacity to comprehend the strength of the love of a father or husband. He could read about these feelings and experiences; he could memorize the words and try to intellectualize it all. But he could not feel that infinite—inexhaustible—love for another human being. Therefore, he was destined to severely underestimate that kind of love's omnipotence, that force that would drive a rational man to take irrational, unpredictable measures to protect his family. This was Pelant's weakness, and booth had every intention of exploiting it.

By the time Brennan awoke the next morning, Booth had formulated a plan and had already left the house but had taken a risk and left something behind for her to find.

'I may be home late' was written on a note he left in her cosmetics bag.

'Don't wait up for me' was written inside a balled-up gum wrapper and stuffed into the toe of her boot.

'I love you with both of my hearts—the one that beats as well as the metaphorical one' was on the back of an old grocery list she found in her coat pocket.

'Please don't give up on me' was taped, face down, on the gas pedal in her car.

None of the notes said, 'I still want to marry you', but for one blissful moment that didn't matter.

At the Hoover building, Booth went straight to the break room and gathered several items, each of them brand new and still in their original packaging. It was the only way he knew for certain they hadn't been tampered with. In total he'd collected three newly sharpened number two pencils, ten sheets of photocopier paper straight from a new ream of paper, two burner phones still in their packaging, and a thick black thirty gallon Hefty garbage bag he collected from the janitor who assured him it came straight out of a brand new box.

On his way across the open bullpen filed with desks and file cabinets of sophomore FBI agents, Booth spied Sweets who appeared to have been looking for him.

"Uh, hi, Sweets. Gotta go. No time to chat!" Booth veered left to circle around two desks so as not to be detained or slowed by the psychologist.

"I need you to stay away from Dr. Brennan today, Sweets," he nodded as he continued walking, taking long brisk strides. His demeanor communicated his reluctance to stop for a chat. "I don't want you to go to the Jeffersonian. I don't want you to talk to her on the phone, understand? If she comes to you, you gotta shut her down." He stopped momentarily and face Sweets, poking him in the chest. "Gently, shut her down gently."

"Why do you think Dr. Brennan might be trying to contact me today?"

"No reason."

"There's always a reason, Agent Booth. A reason she'd contact me; a reason you feel the need to bring it up."

"Today," said Booth noncommittally, "there's no reason that you have to know." He continued walking.

"Uh huh. Uh huh. So what is this about?" Sweets was quick on his heels.

"Not at liberty to say, Sweets. Top secret business. Just trust me on this. Do you understand?" Booth stopped, propped his hands low on his hips and gave Sweets a steely glare.

"No, I do not understand. Yesterday you were on top of the world about marrying the love of your life. Today your words are terse, your demeanor is evasive and circumspect, and you've asked me to cut off communications with someone who is not only a colleague, but a trusted friend." Sweets shook his head and stopped, hands on his own hips in a stalemate.

"Haaaaaaaaaa!" Hissed Booth, throwing his hands in the air and turning to walk away. He needed Sweets not to analyse this situation, not to figure out what was going on, and certainly not to put ideas in Brennan's head. "Sweets. This one time," he said, rounding on his colleague and shoving a flat palm toward him in the air. "Just this one time I gotta ask you to just—go with me on this and don't ask questions!"

"It's my job to be observant and concerned. Are you two having an argument? You know, if you want to talk—"

"We had a little—quarrel—okay? And—she's probably a little confused—uh, but she'll get over it. I just don't want you messin' around in our private business with your shrinky cereal box spy kit. Understand?"

Booth had considered letting Sweets in on his plan to take Pelant down, then decided he couldn't risk it. Sweets is smart. If he figures it out, that's his own business. But I can't be seen or heard being his source. That is all!

"Sweets," Booth sighed, his expression softening. "I would—if I could. Just trust me on this. Listen, I'm begging you."

"Alright. But—" There was something in Booth's eyes that told Sweets to drop it.

"Thanks buddy," replied Booth, patting Sweets on the shoulder and walking swiftly toward the elevator where he poked the button several times in quick succession.

"You will tell me eventually—Agent Booth? Full disclosure?"

Booth looked sideways at Sweets and stepped into the elevator. He turned to face Sweets. "In top secret matters no one gets full disclosure. Many people get many parts of the operation. The only one who gets full disclosure is the old guy who signs the paychecks. Last time I checked, that wasn't you."

"No, I'm just the sidekick. Batman's Robin, Lone Ranger's Tonto, Green Lantern's Green Arrow—" He was starting to get sulky. "And you know what that makes you?"

"Of course, I know exactly what that makes me, Sweets." Booth said with a smarmy grin for the first time today. "I'm the guy who gets the girl," he said, "We're done here," he finished as the elevators mechanical door chugged closed.

Booth took one of the two brand new burner cell phones out of it's package and called Camille.

"Cam!"

"Oh, Booth. Hello—"

"Listen, I need to borrow Angela."

"And good morning to you as well," she said surprised at his abruptness. "What's this in regard to?"

"We're having some issues over here at the Hoover and I've been given permission to bring in an outside consultant—and since we're between cases right now—I thought of Angela."

Cam hesitated. She could smell a fabrication a mile away. "Okay, Seeley, I'll give you two points for creativity—but I'll play along. I need her back as soon as we catch a case."

"She can probably do most of it from her own office – technology being what it is. Oh, and another thing. Brennan is going to be a little—well, I'm not really sure how she's gonna be—but can you keep—just keep an eye on her for me? She might be a little—off—today." His voice was filled with supplication.

"What's going on? Christine's okay isn't she?"

"Yeah, yeah, she's fine, Cam. Me and Bones, we just had a little—you know—disagreement—" He closed his eyes and grimaced. He rarely lied to Camille—she could see straight through him.

"Oh," said Camille, her smile traveling across the line and into Booth's ear. "The first lovers' spat between fiancés. That's completely normal, Booth. You guys didn't waste any time though, did you?"

"Cam – Yeah, I guess you could call it that. It's just that she's not real happy with me right now," he said, grimacing. "Cam, I really gotta go. But, Bones—she—"

"No details! I really don't wanna know—you just keep that stuff between you—"

"You are the best, Camille. I'll never forget this. And Cam—?"

"What else?" She said in an indulgent tone.

"Uh—I, uh, really need this to stay between us, alright?"

"Wha—the Angela thing or the Dr. Brennan thing?"

"Mmm – Both actually. Yeah, that's probably a good idea."

"I'll do my best—"

"That's all I ask. I owe you one."

"More like a hundred and one, Seeley."

"Yeah, but who's counting anymore. Heh! Right?"

Hanging up from Camille, Booth used the same phone to dial Angela.

"Angela, we need you at the Hoover for some consulting. Think you can handle it?"

"Well, hello, Booth! Hi Angela! How are you this morning? I'm fine, thank you for asking Booth."

"Sorry, Angela. I'm a little preoccupied today. How are you?"

"I am well, thank you very much for asking. And let me say congratulations on your upcoming nuptials, future Mr. Temperance Brennan, er, Booth. What are you two gonna do about last names? I thought I'd never see the day. Did you slip Bren a roofie or something? Was blackmail involved?" Angela chuckled then realized she was doing it alone.

"No, no, no. She did it all on her own—but listen, I don't have much time. We've got some technical difficulties over here at the Hoover and we're working on some old cases that have material to be deciphered and cataloged in our files. I thought maybe you could have a look—?"

"That sounds like something for a secretary, Booth—"

"Believe me, this is far from secretarial work," said Booth sardonically. "It's actually a crucial part of a significant covert op that ended in the cold files years ago." He paused, unable to read her response so far. "I could really use your expertise, Angela."

"Ooookay," she relented with a smirking grin. "I've been wanting to get out of this office anyway."

"Well, now's your chance—"

"Did you talk to Cam?"

"Yep. You're mine until she needs you back. And listen, Cam knows even less than I've told you. I mean, this is strictly on a need-to-know. And for reasons I can't tell you, it needs to stay that way. I don't want you even discussing it with Cam."

"Okay," she said, "I'll be your Girl Friday."

"Rock 'n' roll in fifteen, then. Meet the diner?"

"Gotcha, Special Agent Seeley Booth!" She said in an adroit tone that suggested she may have been saluting as she said it. Before she could say goodbye, she had a dial tone sounding in her ear.

On the way to the diner Booth stopped at an Exxon gas station he'd never been to before. He bought a large expensive black umbrella, took the receipt, and headed into the men's room. There, he pulled out the supplies he'd purloined from the office break room. Putting down the toilet seat, he sat and began to furiously scribble on the first sheet of paper. Seven minutes later he'd covered both sides of three sheets of paper with his chicken scratch, numbered them each in succession, balled them up loosely, and put them in the black Hefty garbage bag he'd brought along. He then tossed the pencils and the leftover paper into the garbage can beside the sink, pulled a stack of beige paper hand towels out of the dispenser and returned to his car. He held up his receipt on the way out the door and received a nod from the sales attendant.

Booth parked in the yellow zone right in front of the diner and waited on the sidewalk for Angela.

On the way out the door at the Jeffersonian, Angela poked her head into Brennan's office.

"Mornin,' Sweetie! How's the bride today?" Her chipper voice turned cold when she saw Brennan's zombie-like expression. "Sweetie, what's wrong? What's going on, Bren—"

"I'm fine. I'll be fine," Brennan responded slowly, roused from her cogitated state by the gleeful tinkling of her best friend's voice. She plastered a shallow smile on her face that went no further than her mouth. "And—I'm not a bride." She sighed heavily and straightened in her chair, then began shifting piles of case folders back and forth on her desk.

"Sure you are, Bren. I know you don't like conventional epithets, and I promise you don't have to wear the big poofy dress with a god-awful meringue on your head. And, there's no way Booth will make you say you will obey all of his commands—not if he knows what's good for him—but everyone gets to be a bride for a whole year when you're planning a wedding. Oh, and you don't even have to ask me, I will be delighted to be your maid of honor! I've already got some ideas for a bachelorette party!"

"No, you don't understand, Angela. You can't be my maid of honor—"

"What? Oh, right, matron of honor then," she chuckled to herself. For the second time today she realized she was the only one in the conversation who had any appreciation whatsoever for humor.

"Booth and I are not getting married, Ange," Brennan said blankly. She stood abruptly and headed toward the door with a pile of folders in her arms.

Angela's jaw dropped to the floor. "What? You changed your mind?!" Angela ran after her and grabbed her arm. "Oh Bren—!"

"No," she replied in a tired voice. "Booth did." She glanced down at Angela's fingers curled around her bicep.

"Bull shit," gasped Angela aghast as she released Brennan's arm. "Oh, you're joking, right?" She stared at Brennan, waiting anxiously for confirmation.

"No," Brennan tossed back to her as she disappeared into the bone room. Angela followed her in a shocked stupor.

"Bren—tell me this is—No, way! That boy's been ready to spawn since he first saw you at American University nine years ago!"

"It is not whatever you think it might be. It is nothing other than my mate coming to his senses and seeing the logic in my previous reluctance to kowtow to an archaic construct that hobbles a woman's personal and legal freedoms under the guise of blending familial obligations and consolidating assets."

"Again, I say, bull shit. This is utter bull shit. You must have misunderstood—uh, er, that is so not Booth!"

"No, he was quite clear. Weren't you heading out the door? I'd prefer not to talk about it any longer. please hand me that box of gloves."

Angela thought she must be dreaming. She pinched the tender underside of her wrist. Yep, it hurt. This was no dream. She turned her wrist over and glanced at her watch. She had to leave or she'd be late for Booth. Hm, Booth. Well, he was going to get the interrogation of a lifetime!

"Sweetie, I'll be back later—don't you make any big decisions while I'm gone. we'll talk later!"

"Wha—? Decisions? I have no intention—" But Angela was already gone.

Brennan took her cell phone and hesitated. She tapped the cell against her chin several times, then pressed speed dial #5. When she was sent straight to voicemail, she decided to make a personal visit.

"Dr. Brennan, what are you doing here?" Yelped Sweets jumping up from his chair when he spied Brennan in his doorway twenty minutes later. He walked toward and past her out of the confines of his office thereby eliminating any possibility of privacy. He began the first of several nervously evasive laps around the bullpen outside his office.

Brennan followed behind him waiting for him to slow down. He didn't.

"Dr. Sweets!" She finally stopped and shouted. "Kindly refrain from gadding about like a debutante at her freshman cotillion ball! I can outrun you with a blindfold and one foot tied behind my back. Dr. SWEETS!"

Though she'd stopped moving, Sweets had already made it halfway around the bullpen. He stopped when she shouted his name and stared at her. He quickly did a calculation to determine who he was more afraid of upsetting: Agent Booth or Dr. Brennan. He walked around in a tight circle in one spot, dragging a worried hand across his forehead, and headed down a hallway opposite where Brennan stood.

Brennan stepped up onto the nearest chair, then mounted a desk covered in files, framed photos, paperclips and cups of pencils and pens. She walked from desktop to desktop until she'd crossed the room, then hopped down then sprinted down the hall into which Sweets had disappeared.

Halfway down the hall, Sweets realized his attempts at evasion were futile against his importunate colleague. A moment later, Brennan caught up with him. Within the space of 45 seconds she gave him a summary of the previous evening's devastating conversation and Booth's revocation of his earlier acceptance of her proposal. she then asked him if he had noticed any odd behavior in her mate since then.

Dr. Sweets was taken aback by this news and figured there was no harm in calming her fears. Surely this had nothing to do with the top secret case Agent Booth was so cagey about this morning.

"Dr. Brennan, I'm sure it is nothing more than cold feet which I submit is perfectly normal, though Agent Booth is the last person I would expect to have cold feet—especially when it comes to his relationship with you."

"Dr. Sweets, Booth does not have poor circulation in his extremities, I assure you. In fact, he has excellent circulation!" Brennan fixed him with a pained gaze and shifted her weight from foot to foot as she waited for him to say more.

"Oh, I apologize, I meant that perhaps he's suffering from exposure to a phobic stimulus which could invariably provoke an immediate anxiety response it sounds like may have taken the form of a situationally bound or situationally predisposed discrete period of intense fear or discomfort."

"A panic attack?"

"Precisely. But, Dr. Brennan, there's no way Agent Booth wouldn't want to get married to you, that's simply not possible. That would be contradictory to the tenets of his self-proclaimed value system and outside the realm of natural order of what we have experienced as the construct for his character." Sweets gulped a mouthful of air and continued. "When he told me you'd asked him he was practically delirious," said Sweets with a broad smile. "As a matter of fact, he commented that he'd been waiting for this moment for a long, long time and now that it was finally here, there was no way—uh, there was no way—" Sweets stopped cold as black sparkles scampered up and down his spine. He felt like a small woodland creature struck with innate awareness that a predator he could neither see, smell or hear it was lurking in the brush just beyond the copse.

Sweets' hair stood on end as the audio memory of the full conversation came tumbling back accompanied by an imagined 'Whir, click,' of a revolver's mostly empty cylinder as it spun and was latched into place with a hollow metallic, 'Thwap!'. Sweets leaned against the wall, dizzy with the weight of what he knew must be true. And it had to do with Pelant!

'Something you should know,' Sweets had cautioned Booth, 'With Pelant active, he needs to feel he's the most important. Psychologically speaking, he can't accept being replaced. Your engagement could cause him to escalate'.

Pelant! Thought Sweets. That's why Agent Booth was so secretive this morning! Sweets thoughts continued to whirr as he slapped a palm to his forehead, put the other hand on his hip and walked several tight circles in one spot for the second time in ten minutes. That's why he called off the wedding! Pelant went ballistic over their pre nuptial bliss and must have threatened Booth. And Booth can't tell Brennan-that's probably one of Pelant's conditions. This is wicked insane! Now he's gotta make sure it looks like they are splitting up! Completely insane!

Brennan tugged on Sweets' sleeve, yanking him out of his revere.

"Dr. Sweets, finish your sentence! You were saying that Booth said there was no way—what?!"

"Oh," Sweets stared blankly into her eyes. Make something up. Think of something fast! Sweets commanded himself. "Uh, there was no way he'd ever let you go. That's what Booth said." Whew!

"This does not make sense at all!"

"I know. I know," Sweets nodded compassionately. "People behave in unpredictable ways under stress—even positive stress, good stress, happy stress. I've known you guys for what? Almost six years. Whatever crazy thoughts going around in Agent Booth's head—he'll get over them. You'll see." Sweets had confidence in what he told her, he just didn't know how long it would take for Booth to capture Pelant.

"Dr. Brennan, I need to stop right here. I've got a client who should be waiting in my office by now." Sweets began walking back toward the bullpen and his office. "Let me know if I can help you guys in any way. For now, I'd just say give Booth some space, you know. Don't pressure him. He'll work it out!" He prayed he wouldn't be proven wrong.

Brennan stood in the hall and puzzled over what she knew and what Dr, Sweets had said. He was right—this was out of character for Booth. I need to think rationally, she told herself. Consider the facts objectively. Look at all the possibilities and eliminate them one by one. She pulled her cell out of her pocket, scrolled through her address book to a number she hadn't called in two and a half years.

"Neurology, how may I help you," said a loud confident voice on the other end of the line. Brennan swallowed hard and asked to speak to the neurologist who handled Booth's care both before and after his brain surgery...

Angela parked and crossed the street in the direction of the diner. She was preoccupied with the events of the day. First, Booth's cryptic call, then Brennan's announcement that he'd called off their engagement. She was so caught up in her thoughts that she jumped when Booth, waiting on the sidewalk outside the diner, touched her arm.

"We're not going in there," he said, in a low voice as he put his hand at the small of her back and directed her toward his car. "Get in," he commanded.

Angela gave him a quizzical glare and an eyebrow raise with attitude, didn't move.

"Please?"

She rolled her eyes and acquiesced.

He drove to a busy part of town he was sure neither of them frequented with any regularly. Booth neither spoke nor looked at Angela until they arrived at their destination. He parallel parked next to a grassy area with picnic tables and a bike path and got out of the car. Circling the car, he approached the passenger side of the vehicle, and opened Angela's door for her.

"Give me your phone, your purse, and—what else do you have on you?" His mood was solemn.

Maybe he really did break off the engagement, thought Angela with alarm. Holy hot crap on a popsicle stick. This is freaky. Surreal, and freaky.

"You got an iPod; anything with Bluetooth?"

Angela shook her head. Am I being punked, she wondered. She glanced around the street and park area for a camera crew.

"Okay, bring your coat and your keys. No! Leave the coat and keys here," he said, helping her off with her jacket. She handed him her keys. He dropped them into her jacket pocket before tossing the jacket onto the passenger seat.

"You're lucky I trust you," Angela chuffed. "Or I'd be pretty freaked out right now." She chuckled nervously.

Booth cocked an eyebrow and sent her a furtive glance and a half smile while reaching behind the console to grab the heavy umbrella and the black garbage bag, now full of wadded paper towels from the Exxon bathroom as well as the three pieces of paper he'd covered with instructions for her. Shoving the door closed with a satisfying 'thwack,' he took her gently by the arm and finally looked in her eyes as they headed toward the bike path.

"What's going on, Booth. Why are you being all 'cloak and daggery'? Actually, you are kinda scaring me now," she chuckled uneasily.

Booth made like he was going to scratch his nose, but lay a crooked finger very briefly across his lips. It was a message. Don't say anything.

Angela's expression didn't change, though she flicked a glance around them with only her eyes.

"I'll tell ya' in a minute, Angela. I promise," he said as he gave her a wan smile that never made it past his mouth. They walked along the bike path for three minutes before Booth opened the umbrella. He'd chosen this particular umbrella because it was deep enough to cover them all the way down to their shoulders.

"That's not an umbrella, it's a two-person tent!" Angela snarked. "And what's with the garbage bag?"

Booth made big eyes at her and clenched his jaw. Shhhhhhhhhh!

"Oh, yeah," she stage whispered. "What's with the garbage bag? What's in there, a Dora The Explorer piñata?"

"Come in close," Booth whispered back, jerking his head in a come hither fashion and pulling her under the umbrella. "Really close, Angela."

"This is cozy—and very strange. Is this some kind of sex game? I'm married, and you're almost married," she said, hoping to elicit a reaction. "Or aren't you—?" She scrutinized with a probing glare.

"Bones won't care, believe me—we're doing this for her." He glanced at her sheepishly and hung an arm around her shoulders. "Trust me, Angela."

"Never trust a single guy who says, "Trust me," snarked Angela. "Believe me, I should know." She rolled her eyes and almost smiled. "This is so weird, Booth. Are you off your medication?" She was about ready to back out of this whole thing if she didn't get some answers soon.

"What? I'm not on any medication—! Just listen—and make sure your lips are above the edge of our safety tent here," he said.

"So this is what being a spy is like?" She giggled conspiratorially and wiggled her eyebrows.

"The good ones."

"This is all very Mission Impossible! Do I get a ball point pen that turns into a flying Humvee or something like that?"

"Angela—this is serious."

"Fine."

"Did you see Brennan this morning?"

"Only for a moment – Why?" She squinted and cocked her head to the side.

"She can't know about this."

"What? Why?" Angela frowned and regarded him suspiciously.

"Things are not what they seem," sighed Booth whistfully.

"Are they ever?"

"Good point," he smirked and nodded several times. "Well, this time they really, really aren't what they seem." Booth pursed his lips and exhaled forcefully through his nose.

"What's wrong, Booth?" Angela said gently. "You look like you are about to cry—"

"I'm not gonna cry! Jesus!" He shrugged and pressed his lips between his teeth to keep his secrets from jumping out. He so desperately wanted to unburden himself to someone. But—it wouldn't be fair to lay it all on Angela. She was going to be up to her elbows in this as it was.

"Then—what is it?" Her lips curled up to the left. Her perfectly shaped eyebrows reached for each other across her perfect brow. "Brennan was—not really herself this morning," she offered as an opening.

"Yeah, well—" he started evasively. "Here's what I need you to do: Take this bag—"

"The piñata—?"

"Heh, it's not a piñata, Angela."

"But I got you to smile, didn't I? And that was the goal." She dipped her chin to her chest and glanced up at him sweetly.

"Thank you, " Booth said, blinking appreciatively into her eyes. "You are such a good friend to us. Always," he said, giving her a sideways squeeze. "Now, take this garbage bag of materials to a public restroom you've never been to before. Maybe a department store—just, somewhere outside your usual circuit."

Angela snorted. "Seriously, Booth? There's not a single department store in the District of Columbia or the states of Virginia and Maryland that I'm not on a first name basis with!"

"Okay, then a library, a restaurant, or maybe a church?"

"Ouch," She chortled. "That's low, even for you." She smiled. "A church it is. Or a synagog. Then what?"

"Inside here are materials that need to be, uh, recorded. But don't bring anything with you."

"What?"

"It will be easier than you think. Just take my word for it." He gave her a meaningful look for several moments.

"Okay," Angela relented in a high voice. "What is this all about?"

"You'll understand more when you decode these old documents. So—commit everything to memory and see where it takes you," he said lightly, glancing all around them. He grinned at her as if he expected her to understand something, though she clearly did not.

"See where it takes me?" She squinted, shook her head and raised her shoulders as if to say—I don't get it.

"Trust me, Angela. You will get it when you need to."

"Mmmmm. Okaaaay," she said, her voice going up and octave then back down. "I'll play your little 'sexy spy game'—"

"Angela, I'll be the sexy spy—you be the sexy spy's Sexy Girl Friday. I would never put you in danger." He hoped he wasn't lying.

"Well, alright, but only because you are a key component to my best friend's happiness," she cajoled him. "You are going to make her happy, aren't you, Booth?"

Booth swallowed hard and wouldn't meet her gaze. "I don't know," he admitted with a shrug. Then he shook off his malaise and continued in a flat voice. "When you've studied all the pertinent materials, find somewhere outdoors to burn them. The non pertinent materials can be disposed of in the bathroom garbage can, do you understand?" He cocked a quizzical eyebrow at her.

"Completely. To ash, completely," she said with a quick nod. "Gotcha. Is this what all the other Girl Friday's do?"

"Only the very best are chosen for secret ops of this magnitude, Ms. Montenegro," he chortled and chucked her on the chin.

"Well, alright then," she said, satisfied that she could very well be part of something important.

Angela began humming the theme song to Mission Impossible as they walked back to the car.

"Remember, this is top secret," he reminded her as he pulled to a stop in front of the diner. "Don't even mention it to me anywhere that you may be recorded or witnessed doing it. If you absolutely must, call me on this burner cell." He took the second new cell from his pocket and handed it to her.

They sat in silence, staring across the console at each other. Suddenly, Angela dropped her eyes to her hands.

"The wedding? Is it really off?" She glanced up toward Booth, but he was looking out his side window.

"I'm afraid so," he said flatly, then cleared his throat and turned to stare through the front windshield.

Angela stared at Booth's profile waiting for him to say more. I can wait here all day till you take to me, big guy, she thought. When he finally turned to look at her, he wore a forced smile.

"It's really only a piece of paper, Angela," he said, then looked away again.

"No, it's not. and you know it," she countered, reaching out to touch him on the forearm. Booth finally looked straight at her. They sat for a moment, each knowing he wanted to say something, but wasn't going to.

"We're done here," Booth said without blinking or looking away. Angela nodded solemnly and opened the car door. "I almost forgot," Booth murmured, pulling out his wallet. He rifled through the contents until he found what he wanted: a small piece of paper folded into a one inch square. "Could you help this find a way into Bones' office without anyone seeing you—especially Bones?" His eyes pleaded with her; gone was the bravado of the past hour they'd spent together.

Angela paused. Her eyes fell to the square inch of folded paper. Without saying a word, she took it from his hand and got out of the car.

An hour later Angela Pearly-Gates Montenegro ensconced herself in the last stall of a pristine and tastefully decorated bathroom deep inside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. She opened the garbage bag and separated the beige blank paper towels from the three pieces of copier paper. Once she put the pages in order, she read each of them, her eyes growing wider and wider with each paragraph.

"Wow," she mouthed, though no sound came out. Her jaw dropped and her eyebrows reached for her hairline. She re-ordered the pages, covered her gaping mouth with one hand and started reading from the beginning once again. "Sweet Baby Jesus—!" She chewed on the inside of her bottom lip for a full three minutes as her thoughts began to percolate.

She'd stepped out of her stall only once during the half hour she was there. That was when she deposited the black Hefty bag and the mess of crumpled beige paper towels into the bathroom garbage can. She'd then returned to her stall and reread the six pages, both sides of three pages, of the 'Top Secret' materials for the eighth time. Satisfied that all was committed to memory, she folded the pages into a tiny rectangle and stuffed them in her armpit, then left the bathroom. Outside, at the far end of the reflection pond, she took out a disposable bic lighter. She wedged the papers between two large rocks and carefully lit them on fire, watching as the flames transformed them into ash. When the pile no longer resembled anything recognizable, she kicked the whole mess into the pond.

*** *** *** *** *** ***

If you REALLY enjoyed this, tell your Bones-Loving friends about it -
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bed of Lies: A Post Season 8 Finale Story'   Tue May 21, 2013 6:27 pm

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Chapter 3 of my Post season 8 Finale Fiction, 'Bed of Lies' This chapter is aptly entitled, 'Angela's Ashes'. I hope it makes sense.
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"I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee—!"
~ Ezekiel 28:18

Angela's Ashes

Brennan paced her office, one hand on her hip, the other alternately tapping on her lips, then shoving a thumbnail between her two front teeth. She flounced down onto the couch in abject frustration. She'd spent the morning running away from her fears by immersing herself in the cataloging and identification of remains long forgotten in limbo.

She then brooded all through a solitary lunch at her desk as she stared, bleary-eyed and unseeing across the wide expanse of her empty office. Slumping dejectedly in her chair, she allowed herself to indulge in the self-piteous, 'I told you so-ness' of her cynical inner voice.

What did I do wrong? I've pulled down my walls for him—trusted him enough to surrender my stranglehold on my own search for happiness in exchange for a shared happiness. I've let him know me, love me, more than I've ever allowed anyone in my life to. Was it worth it, Temperance? She asked herself disdainfully, unkindly. Look what it's gotten you—anxiety, imbalance, even 'heartache', as they say—though a heart can onle ache when it is overtaxed are in tachycardia or cardiac arrest. She brooded in silence for several moments as the clock ticked toward the close of the noon hour. Something is just not right here. After all this time—Seeley Joseph Booth—FLINCHED. She had called his bluff—and he, the most reliable person she'd ever known, choked, albeit, belatedly. 'Yes, of course. Yes!' He'd said. A day later—a mere twenty-eight hours later, he backed out. No plausible explanation. What changed—and when? She searched her memory banks desperately, running backward through the scenes leading up to the surreal, heart-crushing discussion the previous evening.

"But, it's what you wanted," she'd said in an injured voice she barely recognized.

"But you didn't," he'd answered back meekly, almost apologetically. He'd watched her carefully, his form held awkwardly turned into itself as if he were almost cowering from an unseen tormentor. Why was he behaving this way?

"But I do now," she could still hear her own sorrowful voice offer up as a final sacrifice of her own pride and vulnerability.

Was he trying to protect himself from something? Was he trying to protect her? Why did he make himself do it if it gave him such obvious discomfort. It was almost as if he, himself, couldn't believe he was saying those words that ripped out her soul and trampled it into dust. She was beginning to recall more of his demeanor as he'd delivered those words now as flashes of that conversation came back to her like a nightmare she just could not kick free of. Thankfully, though, the tempestuous yellow and gray of her emotional upheaval was beginning to waver so she could see beyond it.

She must have asked herself the same question in half a dozen different variations during that conversation: Is this really happening? Am I misinterpreting what he's saying to me? What is going on here? I'm confused. I don't—I don't understand what this means. What does this mean?

For the rest of that evening and most of the following day, that final question pelted her like seeds falling from a cedar tree onto her head: What does this mean? What does this mean?

Brennan didn't accept the whole, 'you've been through a lot of stress, that's all this is—' Sure, she'd done many irrational things out of her love for Booth, perhaps even some semi-spontaneous things, but this wasn't one of them. She had done this for herself as well as for him … and she had put hours of thought into it. Hours. So—his explanation for her proposal, as Angela had said, was bullshit. Complete and utter bovine feces. Even if she had behaved irrationally, that wasn't a legitimate excuse for not going forward with their plans. Booth was the one who had convinced Brennan that, 'Love is not rational' and that there are value and beauty in the social and legal statements made only by a marriage contract.

"That statement is a public proclamation. It tells the world that I am for you, and that you are for me – forever – and to the exclusion of all others," he'd explained to her one afternoon over Indian food they'd taken to a park bench to consume out of Styrofoam take-out containers. "It's the conferring of extraordinary grace from one unto the other; the helping of a partner to be the absolute best they could ever be." She'd stared at him indulgently and wondered why he put such stock in antiquated formalities. Besides, marriage is really meant for medical and financial protection, right? So that one spouse will receive the benefits of services procured for the family under their spouse's name?

Marriage, however, to Booth, meant the spiritual binding together of two souls in the eyes of the Lord. Brennan, he knew, might never commit their relationship to God's care, but Booth certainly intended to and frequently did. Sometimes that was all that got him through the trying times—that and a couple trips to the firing range to let off some steam.

In time, and more through his actions than his words, Booth had convinced her of the power of making this statement to the world, and now she was not only willing but eager to make it. She now understood that, rather than simply a piece of paper, marriage was about the willingness to say, 'I do and I will' without foreknowledge of personal and interpersonal strife. It's the declaration that spouses 'firmly intend to spend their life proving that there is nothing they cannot love each other through, and no place or time when being apart makes more sense than being together'. Brennan had finally taken this into her metaphorical heart—which Booth insisted was actually her 'soul' despite her repeated objections—as if she'd created the concept herself. Besides, it felt right and good, and, to her great surprise—liberating.

So, what now? She asked herself, thoroughly stumped.

She was also disappointed in Sweets' behavior this morning. She'd come to depend upon his insight, even though it was more guesswork than actual science. It was undeniable that no one knew her and Booth more intimately than the Baby Duck. He was family, as far as they were concerned. They hadn't said so much to him, but she suspected he knew it based upon his observations of their willingness to share so much with him—even their home. Reluctantly, they both admitted they missed his company—that is, for at least 24 hours after Sweets moved out. Then, in the 25th hour, they stared across the living room at each other and realized they were truly alone for the first time in months.

That was when Booth shoved the coffee table out of the way nearly knocking it over and sending two magazines and a text book crashing to the ground. He knelt on the carpet, grabbed her hands pulled her down into his lap, then hooted as he pulled her blouse over her head. He attacked her neck and chest, dragging his lips, teeth and stubbly face all over her jawline, breasts, and belly. Then, of course, they made love on the floor like victims of long-unrequited lust finally putting their bodies together for the very first time. It had started out frantic and perhaps a little too aggressive on both their parts, then turned playful, intense, and finally—heavenly—and then uncomfortable—but they giggled and spoke in furtive tones filled with awe and thanksgiving through the whole encounter.

Afterwards Booth had said, "Not to put a damper on things, Bones. And thank God we can do this again whenever we want to—wherever we want to—but—we may be too old for this floor crap!"

In a husky voice drunk with oxytocin, Brennan responded, "I told you the couch was, ergonomically speaking, a more prudent choice, but you insisted, and I quote, 'This is my house, and my floor, and if I wanna ravage you on the floor, by God, I'm taking you on the floor!'"

She'd laughed lazily and rolled off of him, then pulled her hair away from her neck so it fanned out on the floor above her head, then pulled on his arm until he rolled his heavy, intoxicated body on top of her just the way she liked it. He lay with his head against her breast so she could run her fingers through his damp hair and languorously drag her fingernails up and down his back. Now this, they both agreed, was Nirvana.

As their pulses jumped at their throats in diminishing intensity and the thrum and rush of blood in their ears began its decrescendo, they lay quietly—thinking bubbly pastel thoughts—and simply enjoying the tingly relaxation that only post-coital bliss can provide.

Brennan then continued after several long satisfied sighs. "I learned long ago not to quibble with you when you have that he-man fire in your eyes. Besides, I find that I quite enjoy your vigorous bouts of righteous possessiveness when it comes to mutual sexual gratification." She lifted her heavy head and sunk her nose into his hair, giving him several quick kisses across his crown.

"Wanna go again?" Booth had mumbled weakly against her breast, trying not to drool on her warm skin.

"Well," she sighed wistfully, "I certainly could, but –" She chuckled at his dopamine-induced bravado. He snorted back, feigning indignation. He wasn't seventeen anymore. Neither of them cared, but they joked about it regularly. "If you'd just try some of those exercises I told you in the book about tantric sex, you'd be able to—"

"—Hey! I don't need to read a stupid book to find out how to make love to my wife—"

"—I'm not your wife, Booth," she quickly corrected him in a level, though amused voice.

"Oops—" he chortled back. "Well, I hope she doesn't find out about us."

Then Brennan grabbed fistfuls of his hair and squeezed until his scalp began to burn. "Hey, don't bruise the merchandise!" He moaned. No one spoke for a beat. "Shower?" He offered, though he had no intention of moving anytime soon—it was just too wonderful lying on top of the warm, soft, delicious body of the most beautiful, most sensual, most generous and loving woman he'd ever met.

But, that was then. That was before she'd proposed to him and he'd accepted, then changed his mind. What went wrong? What did I miss? She kept pummeling herself. This is a puzzle. I am good at puzzles—

With a full meal in her stomach now, Brennan was jolted partway back to her usual level of rationality. "This is absurd," she blurted, chastising herself and angrily tossing the debris from her lunch into the garbage. Brennan stood abruptly and left her office. She began the first of several vigorous laps around the lab to think. "Gather the evidence and follow it without bias—" she murmured. "Gather the evidence—without bias—!"

"Dr. Brennan—" Cam stepped out of her office.

"Tsch!" Was the only response she got from Brennan. That and a palm held up to blot the image of her face from view. Brennan continued walking as if in a trance.

"Dr. B, I've been thinking about—" Hodgins called from the Ookey room.

"Not now, Dr. Hodgins! I'm cogitating," she tossed off in a bland tone not even looking at him. At exactly the same time, Angela rushed distractedly into the lab, blew by Brennan, and crossed the threshold of her husband's domain.

"If you know what's good for you, you'll leave her alone until she stops pacing, babe. Can we move that smoking antique communicator thingy over to my office? You know, your grandfather's secret decoder machine?"

"The Enigma? What do you want with the Enigma machine, Ange?"

"I'm—listen, Jack. Booth wants to try an experiment—it's complicated. Just, listen, can we move it right now and can you show me how to use it ...?"

While Hodgins prepared to push the cart containing the WWII encryption equipment over to his wife's office, Brennan continued to walk circles around the lab, then strode directly into her office and stood there for a moment.

"Establish the constants," she announced to the empty room. "Of which I am the first constant. Have I have consistently behaved in alignment with my known value system and character?" She walked a tight circle around the center of the room, then stopped. "Yes, I have. Okay. I am not likely the cause of Booth's about-face. According to first order logic, that which is not the source of the discord is not likely to be the solution for it either. So—no amount of changing on my part—to accommodate his preferences, for example—could alter his anti-matrimonial position. Hm. Besides, he is thoroughly adjusted to all of my beliefs—theoretical, philosophical, and scientific. Ergo, I am neither the cause nor the solution."

She recommenced wearing an oval path in her office carpet.

"Occam's razor suggests that the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one. What is the simplest explanation?" She sat down on the edge of one of the chairs across from her sofa and pressed her lips together. After a moment, she jumped up and began digging around in her desk for a yellow-lined pad of paper and several pens.

She glanced at the phone. She was still awaiting a return call from Booth's neurosurgeon. "First, rule out the possibility of a physiological cause for his highly uncharacteristic behavior." She'd already made an appointment for a complete physical, urinalysis, and blood work including a complete blood count plus chemistry and lipid panels for the next afternoon. She'd also requested a CT scan from the neck down. If there was a tumor anywhere, they would find it. Booth's brain, however, was Dr. Quadrado-Pollito's department. She would trust Booth's brain to no one else but him.

While she waited for the neurosurgeon's call, she returned to her examination of the evidence. "Okay," she mumbled, flipping open her laptop and setting it on the coffee table. "We've got the physical, the psychological or emotional, the social, the situational, and the spiritual aspects of Booth's person to examine." She turned her yellow pad horizontally and split the paper into five columns and stared at it. She abruptly tore the paper off the pad, crunched it up and threw it across the room. On the next sheet, this time she made only four columns. "Spiritually, there is nothing new. Booth is fully aware of our religious differences and always has been. It has never stopped him from pursuing our relationship. There is no logical reason to believe that it suddenly would." That left physical—which she'd already made appointments to check out—, psychological, social, and situational.

Socially, Booth had always been keen on the idea of marriage. She crossed that column off. Situational—that area would require more investigation. For now, however, she could conduct a little research on male-centric wedding-induced emotional stress. Flipping open her laptop she did a quick search and found an article providing five reasons why some men were reluctant to enter into a life-long commitment with their mates.

Reason #5 Men are flooded with anti-marriage messages. While this is an accurate assessment of the media's misguided attempts to influence consumers, she thought, Booth believes himself to be a unique and self-reliant individual. He isn't easily swayed by exterior messages. Brennan shrugged and moved down the screen to number four.

Reason #4 Weddings are ridiculously expensive. This, she felt, was an unfortunate commentary on the greediness of the wedding industry which thrives on the myth that the perfect marriage must begin with the outrageous fulfillment of every fairytale wish a girl ever entertained—regardless of the cost.

"Now, that is simply asinine," she spoke toward the screen, recalling a comment she'd once made to Booth on this particular issue. 'If people put as much money into the care and protection of their relationships there would be far fewer divorces.' He'd agreed wholeheartedly, but insisted that people had every right to spend their money however they wanted—that was their God-given choice. This, of course, sent them down the path of one of their frequent discussions about finances. 'You can figure out a person's priorities by where they spend their money,' Booth never failed to point out. 'And their time,' was always Brennan's contribution.

That being said, she knew that Booth relished the idea of having a special day set aside for a celebration of their union. 'All you really need is to spend the whole day doing whatever allows you to just be stupid on love, not stupid with your checkbook every day for a year before then,' he once pointed out while covering her neck and face with juicy raspberry kisses, 'being stupid on love is completely free. Look , I'm doing it right now!' In response, Brennan rewarded him with a throaty laugh and sighed as she said, 'I love you.' To which he replied, 'You have no choice—you can't resist me.' She had many responses at the ready for his frequent assertions about her affinity for him. Once she even said, 'I'm powerlessly, mysteriously, and irrationally addicted to your particular physicality, your scent, the sound of your voice, the taste of your kisses, and sensation of your skin against mine—"

This had caught him off guard and shot a piercing swath of adrenaline straight through his chest. He had learned early in their intimate relationship that though she may not be particularly romantic she came up with an occasional comment that made his mouth drop open and his stomach fall straight into his shoes at the most unexpected times. This particular time, once he'd regained a slice of his composure, he'd tossed a mixing bowl full of eggy batter and a bamboo spatula into the sink and declared, 'Screw the soufflé!' Then he'd grabbed her roughly around the waist, pulled her into a full-body embrace that curled her toes, and attacked her neck with passionate kisses. Her calm response was, quite naturally, 'Forget the soufflé, screw the anthropologist.' Later, they ordered out for Suchi. Much later.

Brennan picked her laptop up off the coffee table and slid back on the couch.

Reason #3 The sex will go away and things will get boring. Again, Brennan snorted. That would never happen! We may slow down as we age, but in eight years, things have never been boring. As a matter of fact, life had only gotten more interesting. Different, perhaps, but certainly more interesting. In regard to the diminishing frequency of the sex act, Brennan had written a paper on the evolution of the mating habits throughout the lifetime of connubial relationships in the middle Americas. Age, offspring, stress, and illness can, and often did, take their toll. However, it was the couples that were committed to an environment of unabashedly candid discourse whose reported frequency, duration, and level of satisfaction suffered the least from those elements. Brennan was nothing if not candid about discussing things of a sexual nature. Booth, to his own surprise, had begun to see—and enjoy—the benefits of open communication on such an intimate topic—as long as it remained private and exclusive. Non-issue, she decided.

Reason Number two was loaded with legitimate concerns. Brennan and Booth had seen these unfortunate consequences of bad marriages first hand in their work.

Reason #2 The fall-out from divorce can be terrifying. Brennan couldn't refute the historical facts. Fifty per cent of marriages end in divorce. Mothers end up with the children 84% of the time. Ninety-seven per cent of alimony is paid by men, halving their standard of living. In the case of murder, the first suspect is always the spouse.

Alimony was another non-issue in their case. However, Booth frequently groused over the fact that he couldn't see more of Parker. Brennan could not imagine a scenario in which she would separate Christine from Booth—ever. Longstanding research supported the theory that one of the greatest indicators of a young female's emotional development and self-confidence was tied directly to her relationship with her father. Not to say that father-less girls lack self-confidence or emotional stability—but positive and nurturing paternal attention proved to have an overwhelmingly positive impact in a young girl's life. Non-issue.

Reason #1 Men fear a loss of power when they get married. Well, Brennan couldn't speak for Booth's feelings, but he certainly had never exhibited signs of being limited by their relationship. A relationship should lift a person up … most of the time. In Seeley Booth's case, Brennan was confident that loss of power was also a non-issue.

Earlier that morning, ten miles north of the United Stated Capitol, on the sprawling fifty-two acre wooded grounds of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Angela Pearly-Gates Montenegro watched the ashes from the charred remains of her Girl Friday mission fan out over the surface of the reflecting pond. She hoped and prayed that the contents of the charred and dispersed pages would stay with her long enough for her to get back to the office and regurgitate them into her old laptop.

Ashes. Angela's ashes. That's how she thought of them. Angela's Mission of Ashes. 'Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,' she mouthed silently, transfixed by the dispersing cloud of grey and ink that mottled her reflection as she crouched to lean over the pool and stare into her own dark distorted face. How appropriate, she thought, her jaw clenching in disgust. You are a worm, Pelant; a worm who drugged us, touched Michael, and left a human-sized lump of blood and guts hanging in our canopy!

"I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee—!" she spat between clenched teeth. It was a line from the Book of Ezekiel, which she imagined herself delivering with all the guile and revulsion of Lady Macbeth in the eponymous Shakespearean tragedy.

Straightening, Angela found a branch nearby and thrust it into the settling sediment, swirling and swishing it around. She couldn't imagine a way that Pelant could reassemble those notes from particles of ash, but she wasn't going to leave anything to chance. Satisfied, she turned and stepped away from the pool.

Before her now on the screen of her consciousness were the disconcerting contents of those six sides of paper which were now at the bottom of the reflecting pool. What to do first? She asked herself as she began walking from the reflecting pool at a clipped pace before breaking into a jog to complete the remaining distance between herself and her car.

She felt like she was being watched. I'm paranoid, she told herself. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the boogey man isn't out to get you, she chagrined with a smirk. She knew full well that Pelant's beady eyes were just as likely as not to be peering down at her from the surveillance cameras perched atop the roof of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I wonder if all Girl Fridays feel like their brain could be scanned if they stood in one place for too long? Snap out of it, Angela, no one can make you wear a tin foil hat unless you allow him or her to put it on your head. And you, my dear, are too damn hot to be wearing a conspiracy theory helmet! Rolling her eyes at the downward spiral of her own traitorous thoughts, Angela confirmed what she'd suspected ever since she'd joined the team at the Jeffersonian Institute: I am NOT cut out for this crap!

As she'd read of the mission and what Booth wanted her to do, the tiny hairs on her neck and arms had stood on end. Sure, she was more than capable of doing everything he asked, but what was this all about? It felt creepy. She wasn't sure what was at stake—he hadn't told her and now she wasn't sure if she wanted to know—but it was too late. She was already involved. Booth had chosen her specifically, he'd written in his notes, because of her technical expertise and her understanding of the human heart. He'd also reminded her of how grateful he had been, though he hadn't seemed so at the time, that she had managed to keep quiet about Brennan's whereabouts for three full months when she had been on the run with Christine and Max.

"Okay," she said to the empty car as she slid into reverse, and then slapped her hand across her mouth. "No talking out loud to myself," she admonished, then took a deep breath and pressed her lips tightly together.

Her highly organized brain went to work as her body instinctively drove her back toward the Jeffersonian. Where is my old laptop? She wondered. It's at home! She made a right instead of a left turn on Indigo Street and sped toward the Hodgins' homestead. Ten minutes later, with the wireless card removed from a four year old Dell laptop, Angela was heading back to the Jeffersonian only five miles over the speed limit.

Booth's notes had opened with a pleading paragraph:

Angela – You are truly my Girl Friday! I'm counting on you. Next to the squintspertise at the Jeffersonian, you and me may not look like it, but we've got the goods too. I've got some things here that I don't know how you will accomplish – but I have every faith you will find a way. Once again, I'm trusting that Brennan's future, our family's future, is safe in your capable hands. First off, we both gotta start some buzz about being proactive about catching Pelant before he kills again. I will be doing all I can to generate some serious concern over here—and that includes Caroline. My goal is to get an order to put the EFT shield back up. That's the military grade counter-surveillance covering over the Jeffersonian lab—the one we put up after he broke into your house. But I'm getting ahead of myself—

Conducting her research without being detected was her first concern. There were some things she couldn't avoid using the Internet for. Booth had told her he trusted her—and that means he trusts my judgment, she thought to herself. So, if I use every countermeasure at my disposal plus a parameterized complexity to cover my tracks, I should be able to get what I need even before calling Booth's Swedish hacker-friend—what was her name—Atlanta? No, Arizona! Who names a person after a state? Angela rolled her eyes. It would take time for her to get the extra burner phones she needed to make that untraceable call to Sweden—so that would have to wait. But now she was getting ahead of herself. She recalled the first items on the list; things she could do right away.

** Buy about twelve burner cell phones but never use one more than two or three times and keep all calls less than 70 secs.

** Get the enigma machine from Hodgins moved into your office. We'll communicate only through that or the cells. If you have a lot of info to send me, use a courier.

** Reach out to Arizona Flemming through her brother in Sweden. (He supplied the thirteen digit number) He owes me a favor. Tell him I sent you. Arizona is a hacker 'ad infinitum'. You are brilliant, Angela, but this woman is scary. Trust me!

** Start making noises with the team about being proactive about finding Pelant as long as we don't have a case, okay? I may bring Sweets in on this, but it's too risky right now. Assume you are my only person I'm telling—because you are.

** Could you check into older commercial security cameras—ones that use tiny video tapes? Nothing digital, in other words. Do you know if they make those old ones with motion sensors? If you can just research this for me, I will go get them myself. I just don't have the foggiest where to start.

** Just a note: Never, ever use the name Pelant or Alfayat or any of his other aliases in anything that can be hacked! We'll refer to him as… Booth had crossed out several options, then finally: 'Hawsonborn'. It's a sloppy acronym for 'He Who Shall Not Be Named' if you take out the vowels and the letter R.)


Angela had to chuckle at that. "So Cloak-and-Daggery," she snorted.

** Get a progress report on Anna Samuels, the girl who tried to shoot Sweets. She's in intensive care. Sweets can't get in to see her until she's lucid enough to have a conversation. I wonder if he had intended for us to kill her … making her his eighth victim? Just a thought.

** Look through the Jeffersonian's case files on Pelant. We've got, in order by case number; Inger Johannsen, Ezra Krane, Ethan Sawyer, Carole Morrisey, Xavior Freeman, Alan Friedlander, Jeffery Stone. Focus on what you squints uncovered about we about the victims lives', causes of death, torture methods, weapons used, trace found, shacking things he was able to do with technology—stuff like that. Plus anything else that brilliant brain of yours thinks may be relevant or create a pattern of some kind. We're trying to put some rhyme and reason to the big picture of how this guy operates. This time we are going to be proactive, dammit.

** RESEARCH: Look into the bastard's past. I wanna know where he buys his newspaper, what soda he drinks, how often he takes a crap. Every and anything we can get our hands on. (Could Ethan's spit triangle help with this? Maybe decode his credit card bills or something? Or maybe his bank account?) Here are some ideas:

*) Names of his cell mates when he was in the clink for wire and computer fraud
*) Where he went to grade school, or any other schools
*) Medical records—there have to be some. Find them.
*) Newspaper clippings from his kindergarten Christmas pageant.
*) His parents—who are they? Where are they? If dead, how and when? Max has talked to Pelant's grandfather-check that out.
*) Any suspicious unsolved murders in Silicon valley while he was at Stanford?

This is a good start, Angela, and I know it will take time. If there is anything you need, let me know—but use the Enigma to do it. Next, I have possibly the most important task for you to accomplish. Please get this information to me today if at all possible. Courier it to our house this evening if you have to:

** Review the security footage from Kalorama Park off Columbia Road between 6:00 and 7:15 last night. Focus on the area immediately surrounding the sandbox swing set. Brennan and me will be sitting in the sand with Christine. Right after I answer the phone and step away from my family, look around at the other people in the park. I need you to find four people who we need to keep an eye on. We need their names and addresses and any connection they may have to Pelant or, to us, for that matter. Here are their descriptions:

1) An African American teen in his early twenties wearing a green shirt and light tan pants. He's listening to an iPod with white ear buds. He leaves the park about ten minutes after I sit back down with Brennan.
2) A young couple, Asian in appearance and older than the guy with the iPod. They are sitting close on a green park bench and laughing. The girl has long straight black hair and a light tan jacket. The guy—short spiked hair and a light greenish canvas jacket.
3) The fourth is an old man in a tan fisherman's hat, a sage knit sweater, gold-rimmed glasses, white mustache. He's sitting at a chess table opposite an empty chair and a big tree. During the twenty minutes I watched him no one joined him. That's four people altogether.

Following the list was a paragraph of details she was supposed to find out about the four anonymous people. Then, the following:

If Pelant— he'd written, then crossed out the name they all had come to despise almost tearing a hole through the paper—If Hawsonborn can see these people, we should be able to as well. The bastard can't really be everywhere at once, right?

When Booth had written that last sentence, he'd paused and frowned, his forehead rippling like the waves on the ocean. It sure feels like he's everywhere at once! Booth literally had to shake his head and pound on his thigh to chase away the defeatist attitude that clawed at him. Sitting perfectly still before continuing with his next instruction, he had a revelation that turned his blood cold. "Pelant is going to have to kill someone to get himself back in the center of our lives, that greedy little bastard. Grrrrr!" He growled.

At the very bottom of the sixth side of the note, Booth had written:

Angela, all of this has to stay between you and me. I am deadly serious. None of our lives are in danger as far as I know—thank God we got to Sweets in time—but other lives are most definitely on the line. This means more to me than you will ever know.

~ Booth

By the time Angela ran through the memorized contents of his note, she'd arrived at the Jeffersonian and rushed in, bypassing Brennan, and heading straight into Hodgin's office.

As Hodgins gave Angela a primer on the seventy-three year old technology used to send and decipher encrypted messages with the Enigma machine, Brennan was perusing the list of reasons men were afraid of marriage.

Brennan cell phone rang, rousing her from a pensive trance.

"Hi, Honey. Are we still on for our weekly dinner? I can bring the desert this time." It was Max.

"Uh—" What to do? Brennan wasn't in the mood for company—but she also wasn't looking forward to an awkward evening with Booth during which they would both be polite until someone finally said something about getting married. Until she figured out what was going on with him, she couldn't face the possibility that his feelings for her had somehow legitimately changed. She just—couldn't. "Sure—dad. We are looking forward to seeing you," she said, adopting a chipper tone.

"Baby, what's wrong?" He asked, alarmed.

"I—what do you mean?"

"You sound funny—chipper, actually. That is not like you. Is Booth okay? Christine?"

"Yes, Dad. Everyone is fine," she said, unable to mask the malaise she was feeling. "I'm just tired—and perhaps experiencing withdrawal from the excess adrenaline that's been coursing through my system over the past couple of days. You know, we—well, we had a big case, but we still haven't caught Pelant—"

"Yeah, I heard. And I heard you asked Booth to marry you! I can't tell you how happy I am to hear you're finally going to make an honest man out of him, Tempe!"

"Dad," Brennan started to object.

"I know, I know, baby. I'm just yanking your chain! How about I come over at the usual time?"

"That would be fine, Dad. See you then."

Just as they hung up, her cell phone rang.

"Brennan," she spoke into the phone when she saw the caller I.D. indicating the call originated from the neurology department where Booth's surgeon had his offices.

"Please hold for Dr. Quadrado-Pollito," said a curt female voice.

"Dr. Temperance Brennan! How wonderful to hear from you. I trust everything is going well with your Agent Booth? I reviewed his case notes and saw that he missed his check-up appointment this past spring. Can we assume everything is going well?"

Brennan jumped right in. "I am sure it is good to hear from me, Dr. Quadrado-Pollito, but I have called with a concern about Agent Booth. Would you have an opening in your schedule to see us tomorrow?"

"For you, Dr. Brennan, I would cancel all my other appointments! What seems to be the problem? Tell me everything; leave nothing out."

"In the past twelve hours I have observed an abrupt and uncharacteristic departure from conventions that are an integral part of Agent Booth's value system. This departure is— well, I am attempting to ascertain the origin of this change. The logical first step, in my experience, is to rule out the possibility of a physiological dysfunction. As all other signs indicate that he is neither septic, nor dyspeptic, nor rabid, I suspect that any unobservable physiological dysfunction might involve a neurological component." She briefly described her observations of Booth's previous and changed behaviors including average number of occurrences, a scale with witch she judged the strength of his convictions over time, and the dramatic change in those numbers recently displayed. Dr. Dr. Quadrado-Pollito listened attentively, inserting the occasional 'Hm," or "I see," were appropriate.

"How has his appetite been?"

"He didn't touch his food last night and there was no evidence that he had had even coffee this morning. I don't know about lunch—"

"Has there been any disorientation, loss of consciousness that you are aware of?"

"No."

"Garbled or slurred speech, migraine, vision loss, numbness in the extremities?"

"Not that I am aware of—"

He asked two or three other perfunctory questions about Booth's general health and habits, then called his nurse to review the next morning's schedule.

"Temperance. If this were anyone other than you with these concerns I would say, I don't know that this is a serious problem. If it were anyone other than your Agent Booth, I would say this is nothing more than cold feet at the prospect of getting married. However, I trust your assessment and am equally curious to examine the patient. I'd like to see you tomorrow morning at 8:30 sharp?"

"Perfect. See you then. And thank you for accommodating us, Dr. Dr. Quadrado-Pollito."

"The pleasure is entirely mine, I assure you, Temperance."

They hung up. Brennan felt a minute sense of peace that at least she had begun to solve this difficult puzzle, probably the most important one of her life.

Around the same time Brennan was making an appointment for him at his neurologist's office, Booth was skipping lunch and running back to the Mighty Hut. The only thing he had an appetite for today was blood, anyway. Stinkin' Pelant-Alfayat blood.

He needed to get some things done at the Mighty Hut before Brennan and Christine got home that evening.

Going straight to his Man Cave, he yanked open the gray metal box attached to the wall to the right of the circuit breaker box. This box, instead of having a bunch of switches, had twenty coaxial cables running out of the bottom of it. He unscrewed the first cable. It took forever to get it loose and free. Taking three steps at a time, Booth ascended the stairs and bolted out to the garage where he collected a pair of pruning sheers.

Back in his Man Cave in the basement, Booth began cutting the coaxial cables away from their connections. The network of surveillance cameras that made up the eyes and ears of his security system had cost him a small fortune—but there was no way in hell he was going to continue with a system Pelant could hack into and use against them. No way. He would replace these cameras with analog systems that used little micro videotapes that Angela would locate for him. Until then, he planned to Flip The Bird at the bastard the only way he knew how.

Returning to FBI headquarters, Booth sat at his desk next to a stack of case files and took out a fresh folder. He wrote the name, 'Hawsonborn, Richard H.', across the cover and chuckled manically. He'd almost given Pelant the first name 'Dick', but thought it might be too obvious. The 'H' stood for 'Head'. That, he just couldn't resist. If he knew a formal was to give him the name 'Douche Bag,' he would have. For now, he was stuck with 'Dick Head Hawsonborn'. He could live with that.

He spent two hours reviewing his own notes about each and every one of the Pelant cases. At five o'clock he left the office, swung by Capitol Hill Flowers & Fruit and bought twenty of the most fragrant roses he could find. Ten were red—which Brennan had explained to him meant sincere love, respect, courage and passion. The other ten were a deep, velvety orange. Brennan had informed him that orange roses stood for passionate desire, pure enthusiasm, and insatiable fascination for the object of one's affections. Booth knew no number or color of roses could make up for what he'd said to Brennan the previous night. But, he was determined to do everything he could to convince her that his feelings for her, his commitment to her, had not changed in the least.
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PostSubject: Awesome!!   Wed May 22, 2013 12:04 pm

Awesome story. I hope you plan more installments!!
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bed of Lies: A Post Season 8 Finale Story'   Wed May 22, 2013 4:12 pm

OMG! I thought no one was reading this! You are the first person to ever say anything about any of my stories on this site! I could kiss you! I was wondering if I should stop putting it up. Seriously!

More chapters to come!

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PostSubject: Re: 'Bed of Lies: A Post Season 8 Finale Story'   Thu May 23, 2013 6:37 am

Great story so far! You really captured the characters perfectly!
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PostSubject: Re: 'Bed of Lies: A Post Season 8 Finale Story'   Sat May 25, 2013 3:48 pm

MoxieGirl wrote:
OMG! I thought no one was reading this! You are the first person to ever say anything about any of my stories on this site! I could kiss you! I was wondering if I should stop putting it up. Seriously!

More chapters to come!

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Sorry! I should seriously start howling at the moon, since clearly I was raised by wolves...I am very guilty of reading and enjoying fan fiction while failing to leave comments allowing authors to know that their product is being consumed and appreciated! Mostly, l know that I lack the training to offer valid and competent critiques in the area of literary exposition. I would only be able to ineptly say that l liked/didn't like this or that, without being able to convey anything much more coherant than that. And so, l've gotten out of the habit of posting reviews. My apologies.
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