Rating: T for language and violence
Disclaimer: The only Bones I lay claim to are the 206 I was born with. Great Falls National Park doesn't belong to me, either, it belongs to the government. Sounds like a cool place, though. Adventure Schools Rock Climbing exists in actuality as well. Cliff Notes, the book-summary and study-aid company (and friend to many a student), isn't mine either. I think I owe them my life a few times over, though.
Summary: When a journalist is discovered at the bottom of a cliff, it's up to Brennan and Booth to catch the murderer and uncover the news that someone killed to protect.
Notes: After a long slew of one-shots, I finally got around to something longer! Please let me know what you think!
The sky was a thin, light, powdery blue, just beginning to streak with orange. Cicadas droned on incessantly. The air wasn't even humid- it was dry, bone dry, and hotter than anyone could remember.
The red pickup truck rattled and wheezed as it made its way over the rocky terrain. The car turned off with a shudder, and the driver stepped out and waited.
A thin man, with eyes that seemed too big to fit with the rest of his face, rose and strode over to the owner of the red truck, who was chewing disinterestedly on a toothpick. The man didn't remove it when he spoke.
"You called me here." There was a pause. The toothpick moved to the other side of the driver's mouth before he spoke again. "I want to know why."
The big eyes blinked twice. "You know why. And if you want to shut me up, you'll have to pay." The buzz in the air climaxed, filling the tense silence.
"You know, I'm not thinking that that will be necessary. In fact," the man removed the toothpick from his mouth and tossed it onto the ground, "I don't intend to cut any kind of deal with you. So if you're looking for money, you're going to go home disappointed."
The statement was met with a laugh. "I'll ruin you. You know it." He turned and took several steps away from the car and its driver, and looked down from where the ground abruptly plummeted to form a sheer cliff face. Trees and rock stretched as far as he could see. The corner of his mouth twitched, and he pivoted on the heel of his dusty boot to throw back one last sarcastic remark.
He was dead before it left his lips.
Dr. Temperance Brennan stared at the computer screen in front of her. It was absolutely blank.
Like her mind.
Normally, she didn't work on her novels at the lab. Too many distractions, and besides, she liked to focus completely on her job while at work. She inwardly cursed her editor, who had been breathing down her neck to make more progress. The editor who had driven her to try to write during lunch.
She tentatively put her hands to the keyboard, paused, and then ferociously pounded out a paragraph. When she got to the end of it, her brain abruptly stopped. Apparently, getting a running start was not going to solve this problem for her. She held down the backspace key and watched the bungled paragraph get swallowed up into nothingness.
A voice pulled her out of her reverie.
"What's this? Acclaimed novelist Dr. Temperance Brennan deleting her own creative genius?" Agent Seeley Booth leaned against doorframe, smirking.
"It's more like, acclaimed novelist Dr. Temperance Brennan sending a load of crap back into the oblivion where it belongs." She sighed and leaned back in her chair, too frazzled to bother chiding Booth for walking in to her office without knocking.
"So what has the good author in her present condition of writer's block?"
She swiveled to face Booth. "Writer's block implies that I don't know what to write. I know exactly what I'm supposed to write, but I just can't write it. What do you need?"
He gave her a charming grin. "Crime scene. We need help recovering some remains. Decomposing flesh, and all that jazz you love so much."
She chose to ignore his second comment. "Where were they discovered?"
"Great Falls National Park. Apparently, the guy took a dive off a cliff. We're thinking he wasn't just trying to help the park live up to its name."
Brennan switched off the computer, not bothering to shut it down properly, and strode past Booth into the lab.
"Hodgins, Agent Booth has requested assistance at a crime scene. I'm going to need you to collect the samples you'll need." She paused, considered something, and then turned to face the youth cleaning instruments in the other corner of the room. "Zack, I'd like you to come as well."
Hodgins and Zack grinned at each other from across the room, clearly eager to be out of the lab. Truth be told, Brennan wouldn't mind getting out either. She couldn't feel guilty about not making progress on her book if she was at a crime scene.
The cliff overlooked Great Falls National Park, with all of its trees and paths, and the students of Adventure Schools Rock Climbing swarming over different rock formations. Nice place for a picnic, Brennan decided. She was guessing the guy at her feet hadn't been there for that reason. The remains still had a fair bit of putrefying flesh holding them together, and various types of insects were enjoying their own lunch in the park.
"What do you know so far?" Booth's voice was tense. It was hard not to be, in this heat, though it was cooler than it had been for a few weeks.
Brennan looked up from the body, which Zack was helping her transfer to the body bag strapped onto the stretcher. She wiped beads of sweat from her forehead. "Male, around five foot ten, cranio-facial features suggest Caucasian, cranial structure and the state of bone fusion suggest-" she paused, fingering the end of a rib- "mid thirties, maybe 36 or 37. But it's hard to tell until I've stripped the flesh. I'll be able to give you a more accurate estimate then."
Booth nodded. FBI workers whirled around them, taking pictures, looking for evidence, and blocking off areas with yellow tape. "What killed him?"
Brennan snorted, and pointed to a hole in the man's head. "Bullet to the brain looks like it could have done the trick."
"Especially since we found this near his feet." Booth held up a plastic evidence bag with a gun inside.
Zack stood up and stretched his legs, which were stiff from squatting next to the body for so long. "So it's a suicide? A man shoots himself at the edge of the cliff, figuring if one method fails, the other one will work?"
Hodgins was grinning. "Guess the guy figured if he messed one method up, he'd be out of his misery soon enough anyway."
"That's a definite possibility," Booth replied, looking at Hodgins, and only Hodgins.
But Brennan was shaking her head. "No, it's not." She rose and took the plastic bag with the gun, checked to make sure it wasn't cocked, and then pointed to a spot on her head with her free hand.
"That's where the entrance wound is." She moved her finger to another spot. "And this is where the exit wound is." She held the gun to her head where she had pointed the first time. Her arm was bent awkwardly. "It'd be a stretch for him to be able to pull the trigger. And even if he did, the bullet wouldn't have exited anywhere near where it did."
Booth snatched the gun from her hands. "How can you be sure that you don't have the entrance and exit wounds confused? A hole's a hole, in my book."
"Simple. The way the edges of the opening are beveled. If it bevels in, that's where the bullet entered. If it bevels out, that's where it left."
The FBI agent shifted his weight uncomfortably. "So you're saying…"
"This wasn't a suicide. This man was murdered."
AN: Loved it? Hated it? Got something to say? Can't wait to read more, or not going to bother? Leave a review and let me know!