THIS IS THE ORIGINAL CONTENT OF THE CHAPTER FROM “THE MEANING IN THE EPISODE” THAT I REMOVED FORM FanFiction.net TO AVOID BEING CENSORED AGAIN! FanFiction.net DOESN’T ALLOW NON-FICTION CHARACTERS IN THE FICTIONS. THIS PARTICULAR FICTION INVOLVES A VISIT WITH MR. DAVID BOREANAZ IN MY VERY OWN BACKYARD … IT INCLUDES A BRIEF DISCUSSION OF OUR PERSONAL LIVES AND OUR (FICTITIOUS) LONG-TIME RELATIONSHIP AS CLOSE FRIENDS.
A/N This chapter is a huge departure from my norm. I promise you, it addresses the issues of Parker’s behavior in The Warrior in the Wuss but it gives you more Moxie than you are used to first and touches on some issues that perhaps we all face at one time or another. This came to me as I was mowing the lawn and pulling weeds yesterday afternoon. Thank you for the advance readings of Diko (as always!) DWBBFAN, and BostonLegalGirl, my girls who talk me off ledges when necessary. Bless you all, yes, I mean you, too, gentle reader, for reading
a MoxieGirl fiction!
~MoxieGirl44 on Twitter
P.S. In case there is any question, this and every chapter, is complete fiction. The Bones characters don’t belong to me and neither does Mr. David Boreanaz. Those fine properties belong to Hart Hansen and Jamie Bergman, respectively. Lucky ducks.
Parker’s Crime and Punishment
Set to immediately follow Season 7, Episode 10, The Warrior in the Wuss
I was in the southwest corner of my backyard weeding out the quarter circle surrounding our old fir tree, a tree so tall that Moses doesn’t even know what the top of it looks like. The Spaniard and I want to cover the area with about four inches of wood chips. Eventually, we want to plant a lovely two person glider bench under the safety of the boughs. We need somewhere to sit and watch the grass grow once we get too old to actually mow it.
I was pulling yards and yards of weeds out of the mixture of the loose top soil and pine needles. I was mindlessly singing my heart out to D. Wilcox’s New World album which was on a drip directly into my ears through a cheap headset. I was oblivious to everything else in the world and that’s just how I wanted it. It was blissful serenity; it truly was. The only thing that even dared interrupt my thoughts was—you guessed it—my next TWATH:AB2P chapter. That’s pretty much the only thing I ever think about any more.
If I hadn’t been on my hands and knees under our enormous pine tree, perhaps a looming shadow would have warned me that I was about to be scared half out of my skin. But, alas, no warning arrived and I did, quite literally, almost soil my long underwear as I screamed bloody murder and lunged backward when I felt a firm tap on my shoulder. My next move was going to be to beat the crap out of the six foot one, brown haired, brown-eyed trespasser who’d surprised me from behind and intruded upon my child-and-husband-free afternoon tranquility.
“Jesus, David! What the hell?” I screamed when I whipped around and scrambling backward while my adrenal medulla poured insane amounts of epinephrine into my system. Falling flat on my butt, I clutched my chest and hoped I wouldn’t die right then and there, such was the heat in my cheeks, the thundering in my chest, and the pounding in my ears.
My visitor was immediately apologetic and near apoplectic in a fit of laughter. The last time we’d seen each other our children were two years old. It’s been seven or eight years since then, but it seemed he was as happy to see me as I was surprised to see him.
“What the hell? Can’t you just call like normal people?” I screamed at him, laughing and more than a little delighted to see my old friend. “Don’t just stand there, help me up, Asshat!” I screeched, holding my garden glove-covered hand out to him. You would think he would know better than to fall for this trick, but time must have softened his brain. When he stepped forward and grabbed my hand, I put my entire 150 pounds into a yank that toppled him toward me. I rolled out of the way Jackie Chan-style landing him with a yelp and a thud right next to me. Now I was laughing my butt off and trying not to inhale the handfuls of detritus he began to lob at me.
“You!” He screamed. “When will you ever grow up?” He hit me in the face with about a pound of soft soil and pine.
“You first!” I cried and sat up on my knees, leaning over to topple him back once again with a bear hug that threw us both into a fit of screeches and gleeful giggles.
“That will never happen!” He promised per usual, stealing a line from his on-camera partner. He grinned at me and tossed some dirt into the air.
“So how the hell are you and … why are you here?” I asked, in a voice drenched in curiosity and a pinch of suspicion, my brow curling into an impressive furrow.
“Catherine—” he began. I could already see it in his eyes and the sheepish way he shrugged and picked the needles off his shirt. One thing was clear: he must have felt he needed something he thought only I could provide.
“Hooooo, no!” I said. “Why do I get the feeling I’m going to regret asking that question? You know I’m not movin’ back to L.A.—”
He looked at me and bit his bottom lip. “Man, it’s good to see you,” he said, shooting me a twinkly grin.
“Don’t you wink at me!” I objected. Oh, for the love of all that’s holy, I thought, rolling my eyes. He couldn’t help it; he winked again.
“Shut up!” I whined, looking away and jamming my eyes shut, disgusted with my own susceptibility to the chocolate browns of my male companion. “You’re looking old,” I said snarkily. “Getting’ a little soft—” I threw in a couple of discerning eyebrow raises to sweeten the accusation.
“Me? Look at you! What are those lines on your face … ?” He challenged me with an exaggerated chortle.
“Hey, that’s called maturity—” I parried defensively, poking him. He, of course, snorted, just as I knew he would. “Shut up!” I replied. We sat in silence for a moment transported back to a time when I was a consultant and he was a client of mine … well, not a client really, he was a client’s friend … who asked my advice in a client-like manner. We ended up helping each other get through some tough stuff we were both going through at the time. As a result, we’d formed the kind of bond that doesn’t require constant contact, but could be called upon at a moment’s notice and asked for anything – from a couch for the night or a pint of blood – and could pretty much guarantee it would be handed over, no questions asked.
“Let’s get out of this pile of poo and go chat for a while, huh?” I said with resignation after a moment. He knew full well I could never begrudge him anything, not after what we’d been through together back in the day. I stood up and offered him my hand. He cocked his head and slit his eyes suspiciously at me. I wiggled my fingers at him. “Suit yourself,” I said, turning away, but not before he grabbed my hand, then let me help him upright.
We were both covered in dirt and pine needles. After batting as much off of ourselves as we could, he reached over and a landed a loud smack on the seat of my pants as we walked toward the patio door. I smirked and shook my head. I feigned disapproval, then hip checked him. “Keep you hands to yourself. This ass is spoken for,” I chortled. “Some people never change,” I laughed, laying my own little wink on him.
“Whoa hooh,” he laughed back. “Change is highly over rated anyway,” he said, which I knew he would; it was an old joke of ours.
“Are Jamie and the kids here? I haven’t met Bella but she’s adorable in the photos. How are they?”
“Yep, they’re here; she’s even more adorable in person and a hell of a woman even at her age; and they are all doing great. That’s not why I’m here, in case you’re wondering.”
“I’m not,” I said in a higher octave than usual, shrugging my shoulders. “Did the Spaniard introduce you to our dynamic duo?”
“I thought you and the Spaniard were the dynamic duo?”
“Pfft. Well, we were, but we’ve been replaced. Cee and Zee are the new and improved version—”
“Hm,” he grunted, chuckling. “Man, we were never that beautiful when we were their age, were we? As beautiful as our kids?”
“Love makes them beautiful,” I assured him with a nod and a knowing grin.
“Agreed,” he said with a return nod and a smile as he pulled me into a sideways hug. “I wonder all the time if our parents thought the same thing about us kids,” he mused thoughtfully in my direction. Man, he smelled good. I sighed heavily and tried to focus on thoughts of lots and lots of fuzzy bunnies. Gah!
I simply shrugged. “Where is my family anyway?” I wondered out loud, looking around the house as I led him into the living room.
“The Spaniard and Jamie took them all out to Dairy Queen. Said they’d give us about an hour to get a head start.”
“Hm,” I grunted. “Can I get you anything?” I asked. “I mean, from the fridge?” I chuckled nervously. Of course I could get him something, that’s why he’s here, right? It must be pretty big, since he’s actually standing in my living room. I fought back a tremor of fear as I thought about what this might mean. “You know what? Let’s sit in the kitchen,” I said, turning to lead him in that direction.
Having set out two glasses and filled them with ice and diet Coke, I sat across from him and gave in to the butterflies in my stomach. “Okay, David. Let’s have it. What’s up? Is Jamie okay?” I asked apprehensively.
“Jamie is awesome. Beautiful as ever. She’s … the best,” he said shrugging and cocking his head to the side and smiling sheepishly. I’d told him once he was a lucky bastard to have found such a gem in her and he better not ever screw that up.
“That girl never ages,” I replied, relieved. “Okay, Jaden? Bella?” I searched his eyes, hoping he couldn’t see the twitch in my eyelid. We’ve always been direct with each other. In eight years there have only been a handful of calls and the occasional post card, but we’ve always been straight with each other. No bull shit. Ever. That’s one of our rules. I sighed, then took a deep breath, pinching my lips together. “Okay, partner. What is it?”
“Relax, Jesus!” He said, leaning back in his chair. “Why does there always have to be a reason?”
“David. This is me you’re talking to. What’s with all the coy—what the hell is going on?”
“It’s not really that big a deal,” he said shrugging, then curling up the left side of his mouth before breaking into a grin and then taking a leisurely sip of his diet Coke.
“Listen, I’m starting to get pissed—and a little scared,” I said, quietly, leveling a scrutinizing glance at him.
He looked at me in silence for a moment, pursed his lips, then emptied his lungs in a deep sigh, and cleared his throat.
“No one at the studio can know I was here,” he started, examining the condensation on his glass. He glanced up at me and caught my eye, squinted.
I snorted and shrugged, rolling my eyes. How is that any different than usual?
He half chuckled. “It’s about this last episode.”
“Oh, for the love of all that’s holy,” I erupted, relieved, but also frustrated. “Is that it?” I implored. “Frickin’ television?” I tossed my hands in the air and slumped back in my seat.
“Of course! That, and I just hadn’t seen you and the fam in a while.”
“Right. Uhng huh. Okay,” I said, narrowing my eyes disconcertingly. “Okay. I’ve been writing about your show for almost a year—and you say nothing—then you drop in?”
“Is there a problem? Have I done anything illegal?” I began to wonder if perhaps I was the one in trouble here. A shard of adrenaline pierced through my breast. “Is Hart pissed at me? Is Nathan?” I whispered this last part from behind my hand as my eyes grew as large as coasters and a trickle of sweat beaded southward between my scapulae and down my spine. Oh shit, I thought. Have I screwed the pooch somehow? What have I gotten myself into? “Jesus, David, you know I would never—”
“It’s okay! It’s okay! Simmer down, Cat. It’s nothing like that,” he said. “Those guys never look at the fictions written about the show. They can’t. They could be sued,” he assured me, batting the air in front of him. “Nothing like that,” he chuckled, though his laugh was laced with a tinge of nervous energy.
“Right,” I said, cocking my head to the side and looking at him through slit lids. “So, how do you know I’ve been writing? Huh? Tell me that,” I challenged. I’d like to say I know for a fact that he reads everything I write, but I don’t. I’d suspected – that would be just like him – but I had no proof.
“I know people who know people who read you stuff,” he said evasively as he looked around my kitchen, following his comment with a broad grin when he finally looked back at me.
“Whatever,” I said, rolling my eyes. “So, what’s up then?”
“Okay. Here’s the deal,” he said sitting up and interlacing his hands on top of the table. “The last episode, the one about Parker meeting Christine?” He looked at me to gauge if I was following.
“Yeah? I watch them all, David. The minute they air. I’ve seen them all. Copious times.”
“Right,” he said. “Then you—what did you think?”
“About which part?”
“About Parker cutting up that stuff … lying? As a parent myself, I think there could have been more done with that—we ran out of time on the show. I understand you’ve been writing some—additions to the episodes?”
“And I understand they’ve been receiving decent reviews—”
“Uh, yeah, but right now I’m back on—”
“So, I was wondering—as a parent—as a friend—”
“Whoa, that’s right. Play the friend card—”
“I’d rather pull on your sense of discernment and your commitment to good parenting—”
“Dang it, Booth! Sorry, I mean, David,” I corrected myself, then giggled like a schoolgirl. I have to admit I laughed more heartily than the situation merited. Truth be told, I was relieved that this was all that was the matter. I looked at him with a stupid grin. He had me, and he knew it.
“So, will you do it?”
“What?” I wanted him to say it. “Will I what?”
“Will you write one of those chapters about what happened after the cameras stopped rolling on that last episode?”
“Your timing sucks, my friend,” I huffed, crossing my arms and showing him my cheek. “I’ve got people on the edge of their seats waiting for something else from me-“
“Wha …? You haven’t stopped—you haven’t given up on us?” For the first time since he arrived, he sounded nervous.
I let him sweat for a moment. Then a moment more.
“Would I ever do that?” I asked, feigning offense and doing a fairly convincing job of it, or so I thought. “Come on, Mr. B., how long have you known me?” I tried not to crack a smile.
“So, will you do it?” He wiggled his eyebrows at me.
“I’d a done it without the eyebrow wiggle,” I said, cracking a sheepish grin. “Sure. Tell me what really happened between Booth, Brennan, and Parker after the camera stopped rolling,” I said, grinning sweetly at my old friend, then reaching across the table to squeeze his hand briefly.
“What’s it gonna cost me?” He said, not really caring much because he knew his money was no good as far as I was concerned and I have no interest in being on television or getting famous for anything other than my writing.
“I get to tell my readers,” I said, after a moment of introspection.
“Hm,” he said. “Let me think about it.” He chewed on his lips and thrummed his fingers on the tabletop.
“You already said that none of your people at Fox are allowed to read this stuff—so they won’t know about what I write—or that we talked. FanFiction is actually free marketing for you guys anyway—so they really can’t complain,” I said, laying out my case.
“Yeah—but we have legal guys looking through stuff. What if—”
“Come on, David! I’m not even that good! Have you seen the trash I write? It’s super long and super boring. It’s PG-13, for goodness sake! I your bloodhounds are paid any kind of money at all, there’s no way they’d make it past the first four chapters of either of my fics without going into a coma—”
“You are so full of hot excrement, Catherine.”
“Hello, pot?” I asked, pretending to pick up a phone and put it to my ear. “This is kettle. You’re black,” I said, chuckling and hanging up the invisible phone. “Right, you don’t read my stuff, I forgot,” I chuffed, rolling my eyes. I stared at him, crossing my arms, holding my breath, and trying to look nonchalant.
He grinned. “Okay,” he said. “But there’s one caveat—”
“Oh, God. Here it comes,” I smirked, bracing myself for his demand.
“I reserve the right to deny that I had anything to do with it,” he said, doing the umpire ‘he’s…safe’ wave of both arms, looking like he’s about to take flight.
“Bastard,” I said, smirking, though I knew it had to be this way. Everything in the real world is about ass-coverage. After a moment, I added, “I am no transcriptionist, no secretary, David. I don’t take direction from anyone. You tell me what you think should happen and I write it my own way—”
“I get to approve it—”
“Oh, hell no—” I objected. My tone let him know this was non negotiable.
“Because it will be a MoxieGirl original. My readers expect the MoxieGirl aesthetic, MoxieGirl’s way of doing things—”
“Hey. I’ve always let you write whatever you want. You’ve never consulted me, not once, before writing about my character.”
“You let me write what I want? You LET me? Oh hoh—”
“Okay, okay okay. That was stupid. Forget I said that!” He back-peddled.
I cocked an eyebrow at him and shook my head in mock disgust. I smacked my lips together and sucked the air through my front teeth.
It never even occurred to me he’d maybe want to have a say in anything I wrote.
“Then there’s one more thing—” he said, self-consciously.
“What?” I said. This was starting to sound a lot more like work than play, and that’s where I draw the line. “You sure have a lot of caveats, my friend,” I warned.
“This needs to get out before tonight’s episode. We need to put this thing to bed—”
“No can do, Cowboy. I’m in the middle of writing chapter 201 of The When and the How: A Bone to Pick. My readers would kill me!”
“They can wait—”
“You tell them that, cuz they are really, I mean really chomping after me and the pressure is—wow,” I said, simulating an explosion with my mouth and hands.
“Cut the dramatics, Catherine—”
“I’ve probably already lost half of them because it’s been so damn long since I published a chapter for The When and the How! God!” I gasped, running my fingers through my hair, then leaning my elbows on the table and dropping my face into my hands.
“Look, just—make them wait! Think about what we’ve had to do this season, and have we lost viewers?”
I didn’t really know the answer to that one, but I assumed he at least thought it was a no.
“They’re gonna kill me—” I chagrined, smirking and shaking my head. “Grrrrrrrrr!”
“Trust me,” he said. “If any of them are serious about anything they write in their reviews of your work … they’ll be back. The ones who don’t come back were fickle to begin with and there’s nothing you can do about that. Take it from me, Cat,” he said, sagely.
He had a point. I folded. I already told you I was defenseless against this man’s requests. Well, except for that one thing that involved broccoli. I don’t do broccoli. For anyone.
“Okay … let’s get started,” I said, after a long moment of staring into his eyes, eyes which I’ve always thought were the exact color of a licked-smooth wet root beer flavored Tootsie pop. “And don’t tell me what your writers think should have happened, David. Tell me what you think, as a dad yourself—what you think should have happened.”
“God, I’ve missed you,” he said. “It’s sometimes hard to find genuine people out in—”
“Whatever! Stop trying to blow sunshine up my skirt,” I murmured. “You’ve already closed the deal. Let’s just get busy,” I said, sighing. My tone was one of I already regret agreeing to this.
He grinned, blinking appreciatively then reached over and squeezed both of my hands, holding them for longer than necessary, but it was nice. “Okay, how do we do this?”
“Let me get my iPod,” I said. And that’s how this came to be.
The Meaning in the Episode: Parker’s Crime and Punishment
Booth and Parker sit around a corner of the kitchen table eating ice cream while Brennan nurses Christine and puts her down for her first night time nap.
“Dad, why aren’t you eating? Don’t tell me you don’t like chocolate ice cream any more?”
“No, it’s not that, Parker. Somethin’s buggin’ me.”
Booth shrugs with one shoulder and a sideways tip of his head as he lazily makes gullies across a scoop of ice cream melting in his bowl. Sucking the chocolate off his spoon, he shoves it into the larger of two scoops as if planting a flagpole. He slowly pushes the bowl away and sits back, crossing his arms.
Parker continues to suck spoonfuls of ice cream off his own spoon and studies his father’s demeanor. Uh oh. This is the look Dad gets before he’s about to make a speech, he thinks. “Come on, Dad. I’ve never seen you push away a bowl of ice cream. Chocolate chocolate chip, no less. Do you have your period?” Once it’s out of his mouth, Parker’s face goes blank. It’s almost as if he’d just said a four-letter fence word for the first time in front of an adult. Dangit, dangit, dangit, he curses himself. I’muna get it now! He tells himself.
“What?” Booth starts at the period comment, his eyes flying open wide. He stares at Parker as if he were looking at an alien that just flew out of the sky and sat down next to him.
“Come on, Dad. I’m not a kid anymore,” Parker chuckles half-heartedly, trying to make light of it, still assessing the degree of damage he may have inflicted on his dad’s respect for him. “We got the movie in health class this year. I know all about periods and ovalries, and bleeding and stuff,” he begins his explanation. He feels like he’s in a canoe trying to paddle away from a waterfall. “Since we had the movie, Mom’s been really talking about stuff a lot. When she’s ministrating, she can’t stand cold things. She wants them, but can’t stand them. There’s been a lot of really good wasted ice cream at our house this week,” he chuffs, looking down at the ice cream beginning to pool around his own abandoned spoon.
“Parker, boys don’t have those things. Men, especially, don’t have those things!”
“I know that! I was teasing you, geez!” He rolls his eyes and giggles.
Booth looks at his son, one eyebrow shadowing his eye, the other trying to join his hairline, and several serious vertical lines creasing the skin between his eyes. “Parker –”
“At school? Ever since we saw that movie about maturity? ‘Welcome to the New You’, it was called and it shows a hairy armpit when it starts. it’s kinda gross,” he says wrinkling his nose. “Well, the girls? They saw a different movie than the boys did. Apparently theirs was more interesting. Cody Digger? He has a twin sister and she saw the other movie, so we all paid him a quarter to ask his sister what it was about. He totally hit pay dirt. Though it still doesn’t make much sense to me, honestly, Dad,” he says, bewildered.
Booth can only imagine where this might be headed and suppresses a nervous smirk. He recalls Rebecca mentioning the letter all the parents were sent in advance about the health education section covering sexual maturity. Covering his mouth with his hand and leaning his elbows on the table, he nods at Parker. “And-?”
“Well, now whenever a guy’s being a jerk, or even if he’s not, he’s totally in danger of another guy sayin’, ‘Hey idiot, you got your period, or what?'” Parker pauses for a moment. “It’s a total slam, Dad. Everyone else laughs. It’s like the worst slam you can imagine. Even worse than being called ‘cool’,” he says, semi-seriously, unsure if he should let his dad know that he’s been on both side of this particular brand of teasing.
Booth stares blankly at his son, the corners of his eyes curving up just a bit. Before he can say anything, Parker jumps in again.
“And there’s really no good comeback. You can’t even accuse the guy who’s teasing you if he’s got his training bra yet! Cuz then, the other guys will say you’re havin’ a bromance with that guy and looking at him in the locker room at gym class.” Parker shudders.
“What’s wrong with being called cool?” Booth asks.
“Dad,” says Parker, leveling a narrow stare at Booth. “C-o-o-l stands for Constipated Over-weighted Old Lady! Would you want to be called that?”
Booth chuckles. “Nope. But I would never be called that.”
“You’re not one of my classmates. Most of them are idiots, at least the guys are.”
“Oh …. to be young again,” muses Booth in exaggerated wistfulness. He sighs and lifts the spoon from his melting mound of chocolate chocolate chip ice cream. He scrapes off the top layer of soup to get to some of the still slightly congealed dessert underneath. “Parker?”
“Yeah?” Parker has gone back to polishing off his bowl before he’ll have to use a straw to get at it all.
“What’s buggin’ me here, is that there’s something not right about what happened today.”
Parker looks up at his dad, a sloppy spoon halfway to his mouth. He lowers the spoon and begins to slowly stir his ice cream, scraping the spoon along the bottom of the stoneware bowl. He waits, looking down.
“Parker,” starts Booth, pressing his lips together in thought. He presses his hands together, overlapping only his thumbs as if in prayer. He’s looking at his thumbnails. “You know I am proud of you, right?” He looks sideways at Parker.
Parker nods, already feeling guilty, though he’s not sure what for.
“You’re one of the best kids I know. You’ve earned my trust, buddy.”
“I know, dad,” he says, recognizing this as the build-up to God knows what.
“Now, it takes a lot to earn someone’s trust, right?”
“Is it safe to assume that my trust is important to you?”
“Yeah, Dad! Totally! Some of my friends—their parents don’t trust them at all because of something stupid—at least that’s what they say—but their dad’s don’t have guns—though I’ve told them—”
“Parker!” Booth gives him the ‘what the hell?’ stare, then shakes his head. “What does my gun have to do with it?” He looks at his son with a disturbed, queer expression on his face. “Never mind. What you did today, for your sister?” Booth chuffs. “Well, that was very creative—”
“I knew you’d like it, Dad, but I’m hearing a ‘but’ coming at me.”
Booth pressed his lips together again and mused at how much Parker is like he himself was at his age.
“Okay. Listen. I want you to think about how you went about it—”
“You mean how I put it together?”
“No, not exactly,” Booth said, dropping his chin to his chest, then looking over at his son. “About how the way you did it looked to Bones and me.” He let that drop, and watched his son. “And what we may have thought because we didn’t know what you were doing.”
“Oh,” said Parker, feeling a twinge of oncoming panic at the back of his neck.
“There are a couple of things wrong with this picture, Parker. First of all, we do trust you, but there’s been a whole lot of shake-up around here lately, okay? The move to this house, your … ha … really long stay over seas, Christine being born, right?”
“Yeah?” Parker’s ice cream has been forgotten as he listens to Booth with rapt attention.
“No matter how close a family can be, drastic changes can affect its members in unpredictable ways. We gotta look out for each other—”
“I know that, Dad,” says Parker, his shoulders slumping.
“Here’s the thing, though. When one of the family members starts to act funny, to do things they normally wouldn’t do, sometimes it’s a clue that there’s something wrong, that maybe they aren’t adjusting to changes very well. Sometimes it means they are angry or hurt or just plain feeling crazy.”
“I’m not feeling crazy, Dad.”
“I know. I know, Parker. But you haven’t been telling us much. You’ve been keeping to yourself, going out without telling the sitter—and then you lied to me, son. We have promised never to lie to each other, right?”
“I didn’t really go out, Dad, I was just down the hall. I didn’t want you to suspect anything—”
“Do you think it matters whether or not you actually did what you told me in a lie that you had done?”
“No,” says Parker, hanging his head.
“A lie is a lie—”
“I know. I’m really sorry, Dad—”
“Well, when we see all these things, it leads us to suspect something else is going on.”
“Uh, like what?” He feels a bit nervous now. Nervous and confused.
“Well, these parenting books tell us that sometimes a kid can get jealous when a baby comes into the family,” says Booth, shrugging.
“I told you, I’m not jealous,” insists Parker.
“I understand that, Parker, but look at this from our point of view. Bones finds family photos cut to bits and hidden in the floor in your closet. Along with the cut up photos, she finds her own clothing, ripped apart as well—”
“I didn’t mean to rip it—”
“Parker, you took off her Jeffersonian patch! What do you think that made Bones feel like? And when did you start calling her Temperance, anyway? You can still call her Bones.”
“But she’s not my mom—”
“What does that have to do with anything, Parker? I never said you have to call her ‘Mom’, Parker. And I guess Temperance is fine … it just surprised me. Then there’s my gym bag. You didn’t ask me if you could take that apart either. That was not your property. It wasn’t yours to deface.”
Parker’s eyes grow large with guilty realization of how this must have looked to Bones and to his father. He hissed in a lungful of air as worry creased his brow.
“In legal terms, Parker, that’s vandalism,” says Booth, matter-of-factly, cocking his head to the side and tossing his hands up in the air.
“But I knew it was one of her old work coats, and you don’t even use that bag anymore, Dad.”
Booth shakes his head, grimacing. “No go, buddy. That wouldn’t hold a teaspoon of Kool-Aid in court.” Booth lets that sink in for a moment while little beads of perspiration bead on Parker’s young brow.
“The photo—that was one of my favorites, but I’d given it to you. You can do anything you want with it. But if I found a family photo cut up at a crime scene, I would assume that someone was very angry at the people on the photo, and I’d be right.”
“Yeah. And the RC truck? It looked like you’d destroyed it, Parker. You and I have had lots of fun with that thing. We put it together the day you got it, remember. I was so excited to show you I got it working again … and here Bones finds it in pieces…” Booth smirks at his son, not without compassion.
Parker pales and looks like he might barf.
“Now. How do you think that looked to Bones and me? Oh, and pile on top of that the fact that she’s a brand new mom and that’s making her unpredictably emotional—and she thought maybe her baby was in danger. Which frightened her and confused her, because the Parker she’s always known and loved would never, ever do anything like that. Ever.”
“And I never would, Dad! You’ve gotta believe me!”
“I do believe you, son. I do. But even I was shocked and worried. And concerned, little man. I was really, really worried about you. I’ve missed you so much and I thought maybe I should have gone out to see you, or called more, or maybe I’d screwed up somehow—”
“Dad, it had nothing to do with that. I just wanted to surprise you.”
“I know that now, but I didn’t two hours ago. You could have still surprised us, but asked to use our things.”
“But you would have figured it out, Dad!”
“No. Not in a million years would I have figured out what you were doing, I swear,” insists Booth. “You could have come to me and said, ‘Dad, can I have this patch off your old gym bag, or, Bones, do you mind if I use this old coat of yours and do you mind if I take the patch off for a project I’m doing?'”
“Right, and you wouldn’t have figured it out?” He says dubiously.
“Nope—and if you didn’t want me and Bones comparing notes, you could have asked each of us not to mention it to the other. We would have agreed, as long as we knew you weren’t making a voodoo doll or something. You could have just said it was a surprise. We’d have left it at that.”
“Yeah. Oh. Now, the sitter? You could have let her in on this. You are never, NEVER, to disappear without letting her know where you are. You got that? You scared her half to death, Parker. She is responsible for your life while she is here. Imagine how awful she must have felt, thinking she’d lost you. Especially after what we’ve been through with the gravedigger. Remember that?”
“I really screwed up, didn’t I, Dad?” Chagrins Parker.
“Your heart was in the right place, little man, but your method left a lot to be desired.”
“I’m really sorry,” he says, scooting back his chair and coming over to hug his father.
“Thanks, Buddy. You know what you have to do now?”
“Take the mobile apart and fix all the stuff I destroyed?”
“No—not at all! You need to apologize to Bones. She’s trying really hard to be a good mom, and step mom, and I think she might feel bad for thinking you had done something mean. But she had every right to feel that way. Do you understand?”
“I do now, Dad,” says Parker, sitting back down. “Do you have a straw? I’d like to drink my ice cream now,” he says, dejectedly.
“Don’t get down on yourself for this, okay? You’re learning. We’re all learning. That’s what families do, right? They help each other learn. That’s out job.” Booth tousles Parker’s hair as he gets up to find two straws.
“Is there going to be a punishment?”
“I don’t know. Let’s talk to Bones about it. See what she says.”
“When will she be done with Christine?”
“Here she comes now,” says Booth, standing up and smiling at Brennan. “Ice cream?”
“Oh, yes, please,” she says, winking down at Parker who’s noisily slurping up the last of his ice cream through a twisty straw.
As he gets out the ice cream and starts to scoop it over at the kitchen island, Booth nods at Brennan, letting her know he and Parker have had their talk. Brennan nods back almost imperceptibly at Booth, then sits down across from Booth’s bowl, diagonally from Parker. She rests her forearms on the table.
“Can I have a glass of water as well, Booth?”
“Certainly,” he says, giving her an expectant nod and tilting his head toward Parker who isn’t paying any attention to his father at all.
“So, how’s it going, Parker?”
Parker looks down at his messy bowl and wipes his chin with a napkin Brennan hands him from the center of the table. He swallows, and pinches his lips together. Brennan can’t help thinking that he looks a lot like Booth when he does that.
“Bones, I’m really—really—sorry,” he says, looking repentant.
“Parker,” she begins. “I was very worried about you,” she says, looking over at Booth who is making himself busier than is required for getting out just two scoops of ice cream. “We both were worried about you. And, I have to admit, I was frightened by what I saw.”
“I promise I would never do anything to hurt Christine. I already love her, Temperance, I mean, Bones,” he says pleadingly. “Can you forgive me? I promise I will never do that again, and never take your stuff—or, or destroy it—without asking first. I just didn’t think.”
“It’s okay, Parker,” says Booth from across the kitchen.
“It most certainly is not okay,” says Bones adroitly. “But it’s not an insurmountable challenge we have before us. Your father has detailed every one of our concerns? The accused is always read the charges brought against him in a court of law, Parker. You know what you did that was wrong?”
Parker sighed. “I took things that didn’t belong to me. I vandalized the things I took. I cut up several photos and left a mess in my closet. I disassembled a toy without asking Dad. I didn’t tell the sitter where I was one time; it was only one time, I swear,” he says, looking between Booth and Brennan. “And—I lied to Dad.”
“Wow. Is there evidence supporting these crimes? Are there witnesses?” Brennan stares at Parker expectantly.
“There’s lots of evidence,” he mumbles back, his head lolling to the side, his lips bunching up on one side of his mouth so his dimple is pronounced and looking very apologetic. “And three witnesses, excluding me.”
“So, what do you plead, sir?” Asks Brennan, accepting her bowl of ice cream from Booth.
“Guilty,” admits Parker.
“Guilty as charged!” Announces Brennan, knocking her spoon against her bowl. “What shall the sentence be?” Brennan looks across the table at Booth.
“Well, why don’t we let the accused—”
“The accused who readily admits his guilt—”
“What do you think should be your punishment, little man?”
Parker looks from Brennan to his dad, and back to Brennan.
“Diaper duty?” He says, anxiously as his face crinkles into a frown.
Brennan and Booth smile across the table at each other. “Diaper duty!” The shout in unison.
“Not—changing diapers—just emptying the diaper pail every day.”
“For as long as you are here—” adds Booth.
“For as long as I am here,” mumbles Parker, then smiles sheepishly at both adults. “Can I have more ice cream, Dad?”
“Get the prisoner more ice cream, Booth!” Brennan laughs with a mouthful of chocolate cream.
“See, I told you this would all work out, Bones!”
“I was the one who said it would work out!” She insists.
“You did not, you thought I was being too harsh on this first time offense!”
“Ugh! You never remember things right!”
“I never remember—? Me? You’re the one—”
“Just, get me my ice cream, please!”
After forty-five minutes of listening to my old friend talk about what he would have done if Jordan had pulled a stunt like Parker did, we moved on to other topics. By the time I looked at the clock I realized we’d been talking and laughing for over two and a half hours.
“Where is my family?” I asked, starting to wonder if I should be concerned.
“The Spaniard said they might do a little geocaching if the sun held out. Jaden’s never been and he was pumped about it. So that’s my guess.
“Hm,” I grunted. “Well. Let’s go wait out on the front porch, unless you want a tour of the house—” I said, leading him to the front door.
“I didn’t come to see the house, Catherine—”
Sheesh. I could feel my cheeks warming up. Why does he—”Why do you always say the right thing, David? How do you do that?”
“I have, uh, great writers,” he said, smiling at me with a quick rise and fall of his eyebrows as he followed me out onto the porch with his hand wrapped around the back of my neck. My dad used to do that. It was his shy way of hugging me. For some reason, this made my throat tighten a bit.
“Hey,” he said as we squatted down to sit on the concrete steps. “I heard about your dad.” He flicked a glance sideways at me, knowing this was a touchy subject.
I sighed, puffing out my cheeks and sounding like a deflating balloon.
“There’s been some growth in two of the tumors,” I said, looking really hard at my fingernails. “But at least we know the chemo is working. We didn’t think he’d make it to his seventieth, to be honest,” I said in a course whisper, unable to stop a little moisture from leaking out of my eyes. I sniffed a couple of times and blew on my fingernails.
David hung his arm loosely around me and squeezed me sideways a couple of times.
“He’s not the only one who believes in you, you know, your dad,” he said when I leaned my ear into his shoulder, unable to look up at him.
I grunted and shrugged. “I get lonely sometimes.” I chuckled sarcastically, sticking my index fingers into the corners of my eyes as if that would stop the emotion from overwhelming me. I sniffed again and sat back up straight, wiping my eyes with the back of my wrists and staring off toward the next-door neighbor’s. “I’m afraid part of me will disappear with him when he goes,” I whispered.
“It will, I can promise you that, Cat. But it will be okay. I can promise you that as well. Just go easy on yourself. It’s gonna be rough for a while, though.”
I laughed nervously again, sniffed. Sighed heavily.
“Don’t tell me, the Spaniard still hasn’t read any of your work?” He guessed, hitting the nail on the head. David sighed long and hard, shook his head. “Idiot,” he mumbled, disgusted.
“Says he doesn’t want to read something that doesn’t have any of me in it. He says what I write is all about someone else’s characters and has no original Catherine in it.”
David choked in surprise. “What? Are you kidding me? You’ve got to be kidding me! How can a man that smart be so … blind?” He smirked, then softened when he saw the truth on my face. “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about—”
“Nope,” I shrugged.
“You want me to have a word with him—”
“That would not be a good idea. Trust me,” I snorted confidently, hanging my arms over my knees and peering back at him through my lashes. “Hey, the house next door is for sale. You should go get Jamie and the kids and move in right here. This is Minnesota – we have hockey almost all year round. We could see each other all the time, talk like this all the time!”
“Catherine,” he said gently. “A relationship like ours wouldn’t survive in the real world. It’s too intense. We’d end up fighting, or pissing off our spouses. It wouldn’t work.”
“I know,” I said in a voice choked with unwelcome tightness. “It’s just that no one here knows me from my old life—when I used to be a highly sought-after consultant. Before I had the kids. No one here knows about the work I do now—my writing. I feel kinda lost—sometimes,” I mumbled as my mascara pooled under my eyes again. “Dammit, you … you copulating money turd! Why do you always do this to me?” I mewled, exhaling hard several times, rubbing my eyes and shoving my hands into my armpits. “Gahhhhhhhhh!”
“Hey—I know. Sometimes you wonder if you make a difference, right? Hey,” he said, bending down so I’d look up at him. “You make a difference. I promise you, you do. Look at those beautiful kids. You did that. Look at the stories you’ve shared with the world. You think that doesn’t make a difference for people?”
I shrugged, rocking back and forth and wanting to believe him. I used to be somebody, I thought, but didn’t say. It was just too pathetic.
“Life is about sacrifices, remember when you said that to me? Marriage is not for the weak.”
I shrugged and nodded noncommittally.
“And given the same life, the same options, would you have chosen differently?” he squeezed my shoulder and looked out over the yard that I mowed yesterday.
I leaned against him, wishing we could sit there for hours in that space of possibilities, choices not chosen, the knowing that someone knows you for all you are. Sometimes I asked myself that same question, but I could never give up Cee and Zee. I knew he was right.
“Just because it’s difficult doesn’t mean it’s the wrong choice,” he said, pressing his lips to my temple and leaning his head against mine, squeezing me tightly one last time. “Jamie and the kids are waiting for me,” he said, as he stood and started to walk down the sidewalk leading away from my front steps.
“David!” I barked as I jumped up and stared at him for a long silent moment. He walked back toward me and hugged me loosely around my waist. Being taller than he as I stood on the porch step, I hugged him back, then kissed him on the forehead. “Thank you,” I whispered.
“No. No, thank you, Catherine.” He winked, and turned away from me, and slowly, ever so slowly, pixel by pixel, disappeared.
“Hey, Big Guy?”
“Yeah—” He said, reappearing as a colorful translucent man-shaped cloud.
“Go easy on the chocolate cake, Boreanaz,” I said, chuckling as I grabbed my own waistline.
“Bite me, Cabanela!” He countered, snarkily.
“Don’t tempt me,” I parried. Between the two of us, he always lets me have the last word.
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Folks, I wrote this one for me, really. Hopefully, I won’t get any more visits and I can continue focusing on TWATH.
Do you hear that, Mr. B? Just keep your twinkly smiles and your, well, just, you stay where you’re supposed to be ~
I got work to do! Huge S.W.A.K.
When you put more of yourself overtly into a chapter, you’re more nervous then ever what kind of response you’ll get. That’s all I’ll say, folks. Hope everyone enjoys tonight’s Bones episode: The Family in the Feud.