|Follow the Yellow Brick Road
Author: Lexxicon PM
Oh, Aunti Em, there's no place like home!Rated: Fiction K - English - Mystery - Chapters: 11 - Words: 16,292 - Reviews: 185 - Favs: 33 - Follows: 17 - Updated: 05-17-06 - Published: 03-27-06 - Status: Complete - id: 2863414
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's note: Dancing through life, mindless and careless...
Disclaimer: Do I really have to keep repeating it?
He knelt down and watched her breathe softly for a few seconds, then leaned towards her so that his lips almost touched her ear and whispered, "There's no place like home."
She woke with a start and blinked slowly as she tried to focus.
"Hey," Booth said.
She took a deep breath and stretched, then paused and said, "Mm, what time is it?"
Booth looked at his watch. "Almost noon."
She let out a tired groan, then got up from the couch.
"So I'm assuming we've got a lead, otherwise you'd have let me sleep longer," Brennan called from the bathroom, where she was splashing water on her face.
"Yeah, they traced the bomb components to a parts shop called 'The Tin Man.' By the way, there's an extra unused toothbrush in the cabinet if you need it."
Booth could hear the sound of the cabinet opening and shutting, and Brennan called out, "Thanks."
Five minutes later, they were ready to go. Booth opened the door and ushered Brennan through, but she stopped. He peered around the door to see what had brought her to a halt, and he saw the vase full of poppies sitting innocuously on the floor in front of his apartment.
She shot him a significant look. "Secret admirer?"
"Har, har," Booth said. "Do you have gloves? This vase may still have fingerprints on it."
She was already digging in her pocket, and pulled out a pair of latex gloves. She snapped them on and squatted down to pick up the flowers. She grasped the vase gingerly and walked back inside. Booth cleared a space on the kitchen bar and Brennan set it down carefully.
Booth turned on the lights and walked back to stand next to Brennan. They peered closely at the green glass of the vase, trying to find any distinguishing marks. Tempe rotated the vase slowly with her gloved fingertips.
After they had checked the entire vase and found nothing, Booth took out his phone to call for someone to perform a sweep of his apartment building. Brennan was sitting on a chair still peering at the vase, then she got a strange look on her face.
"A vase of flowers," Booth said into the phone.
Brennan's brow was knit in consternation as she looked at her fingers, still sporting the latex gloves.
She brought the gloves up to her nose and took a small whif, then pulled them back again to visually examine.
"In a vase. Right in front of my apartment door," he continued the phone conversation.
"Booth," Tempe said anxiously, holding her hands up.
"Yes, I understand the signif—" he stopped mid-sentence as he noticed that the latex fingertips of her gloves had become transparent, and that there was smoke emanating from them.
He tossed the phone onto the counter and immediately grabbed her by the wrists and pulled her towards the kitchen sink.
"No water!" she shouted before he could turn on the faucet. He jumped back as though he'd gotten an electric shock. "Vinegar," she gasped. She was shaking and breathing heavily, obviously in pain.
He opened up cupboards in search of vinegar. It took him twenty seconds to locate a bottle, and he unscrewed the cap and grasped her wrists firmly in one hand while his other carefully poured the vinegar onto her fingertips.
Her breathing slowed and some of the shaking subsided. Her brow relaxed a bit as Booth's thumb made small circles on the pulse point of her wrist.
"Can you help me take these gloves off now?" Brennan asked softly. Booth immediately began to gently remove the gloves.
"No water," Booth said to himself. "Huh. Well, there's no doubt as to who left the flowers."
"Yeah, the Wicked Witch of the West," Tempe said bitterly. Her eyes were shimmering with the tears she was holding back. Booth noticed, but said nothing.
"Okay, so what can I do besides call a doctor?"
"Don't call a doctor," Tempe said. "First, you can let the guy on your cell know that you're okay. You kinda threw him to the side."
"Yeah, well your fingers were burning," he said defensively as he reached for his cell. "Hello? Yeah, I'm still here."
While Booth listened to the agent on the other end of the phone, Temperance pulled out her flashlight and focused the beam on the vase. She looked closely and discovered that what they thought was part of the design of the container was in fact a very fine layer of white dust covering the glass.
"Quicklime," she said to herself, moving within inches of the vase, holding her breath so as not to disturb any more of the corrosive substance.
Booth was only half listening to the agent on the phone. He pulled Brennan away from the vase like a distracted parent would their overly curious toddler. Tempe gave him an insulted look before walking away and flopping down on the couch.
Booth followed absentmindedly. He perched on the armrest closest to Brennan, who looked as though she were ready to drop back off to sleep.
Which she did. Brennan's head fell softly to the side, resting on Booth's thigh. He idly ran his fingers through her hair as he dialed a different number.
"Yeah, hi, I just need a medical consult," he said quietly into the phone. "Quicklime on skin. Should I bring this person in to an emergency room or a walk-in clinic or something?"
He paused to listen to the response by the nurse. "On her fingertips." He was quiet again.
"Uh, hang on, lemme check," he answered the person on the other end, while reaching down and grasping the closest of Tempe's hands. He brought her fingertips close so that he could examine them, then spoke back into the phone. "There doesn't appear to be significant damage. Just some redness, and a bit of abrasion, like she scraped them on a sandblock or something."
He brushed his thumb softly across her fingertips as he listened to the instructions from the nurse on the phone. "Okay, thanks. Bye." He hung up and set his phone carefully on the sofa back. Not wanting to disturb Brennan, he didn't get up, even though sitting on the armrest was not the most comfortable position to be in.
It didn't matter, though, as a few minutes later a loud knock sounded at his door, jerking Brennan out of sleep for the second time in an hour. Booth stood up once she'd picked her head up off his leg, and he answered the door.
Twenty minutes later, they had left the agents, and were in Booth's sedan headed towards "The Tin Man." Brennan had put aloe lotion on her fingers to ease the sting, as recommended by the nurse Booth had talked to over the phone.
"So the actual components were stamped with the parts shop's logo?" Brennan asked as she read over the report.
"Yep. And backup is meeting us there this time," Booth answered grimly.
Sure enough, there were government plated vehicles and crime scene tape around the hole-in-the-wall shop, with the hand painted sign fixed above the door bearing the shop's name and an oil can.
"We're all clear inside, sir," an agent told Booth, gesturing that he go on in. Brennan was a step behind him, eyes already studying the exterior of the building for bones or any other clue.
They stepped inside. Shelves lined the walls, all of them filled with various parts. It was…
"A junk shop," Booth stated. "There's crap all over the place. How are we supposed to know what we're looking for?"
"Oh, I think I have an idea," Tempe called over her shoulder. She stood in front of a display of bike chains. Among them hung a pristine vertebral column.
"This backbone has been cleanly severed from the base of the cranium and the top of the sacrum," Brennan said, pointing to the respective separation points. "Whoever did this is a very skilled professional," she murmered in slight admiration, more to herself than for the benefit of anyone in the room.
"Yeah, well, read him your fan letter when we catch him," Booth said irritably. "What do you got that can help us catch him?"
Brennan looked closely at the bones, then reached into her pocket for her camera. She took several pictures before taking out her forensic kit and using the tweezers to remove one of the invertebral discs that appeared to have been tampered with. Inside it, she discovered another note. She held it up so that Booth could read it with her.
WORK UP YOUR COURAGE, DR. BRENNAN
MEN RULE IN THE JUNGLE
Booth read the note several times, trying to decipher its meaning. Temperance was whispering to herself.
"The Jungle," she said out loud.
"Yeah," Booth said, prompting her to finish.
"There's a men's club called The Jungle. I've been there," she said. At a glance from Booth, she quickly revised her statement. "I mean, I've not actually been there, but I've been to a club near there. I know where it is."
"Well," Booth said, looking at his watch, "It's about half past one. I think most places like that open at three. We can grab lunch."
Brennan nodded. "I could eat."
To be continued…
Anyone read JAG fics? 'Cause I just finished a multi-chapter one that I'd let go for like three years. It's called What Harm Wants, posted under "Lexxi," if anyone's interested. Okay, shameless plug over. On with reviewing this one.