Disclaimer: I, unfortunately, don't own anything related to the concept or characters from BONES. This story is not intended for any use other than my own amusement…and hopefully the entertainment of my fellow fans.

Author's Note: I greatly appreciate reviews of any kind. Seriously, if you don't like something just tell me. Think it's fantastic? Great! Review and tell me why. I'm still new to writing, so your feedback is unbelievably helpful!

Author's Note 2: The places mentioned in Central PA do actually exist. It's been quite awhile since I've been back home, so I apologize if some of the details have changed. However, just as a quick note - the non-Bones characters in this story? I made them up. :-)

Note: Thoughts are in italics.

Edited to correct a minor numbers mix-up. Sorry about that!


Julian, Pennsylvania

Saturday, August 19th – 3:43pm

It was a peaceful afternoon in the small, central Pennsylvania community of Julian. The weather was perfect…a warm 72 degrees with unusually low humidity for a day in mid-August. A slight breeze stirred the leaves of the oak trees that traced along the unlined, paved streets. The sky was the gorgeous, wispy clouded blue that it seems one can only find in the lovely "hill and valley" region of PA that Julian calls its own. The central part of town, which consists of only 3 small blocks, has a total population of less than two hundred people. And, on this day, it seemed as if at least half of those people had gathered at the center of town to cheer on the home team. Children's laughter and adult shouts of encouragement rang out from around the ball field where the local Little League team was playing in the County Finals. Some of the kids that were too young to be playing were climbing the chain link fence to sit on the metal roofs of the small cinderblock dugouts. Other boys and girls were riding their bikes in the field beside the baseball diamond, kicking up dust from the slightly parched land, or playing kickball on the old cement tennis court that was nearby. The small concession stand that sits behind home plate was doing a steady business in bottled soda, hotdogs and homemade baked goods. Rumor had it that Mrs. Fleischer's brownies were the best buy of the day. Off in the distance, a young couple walked hand-in-hand down the slightly overgrown path that leads towards the creek. All in all, it was the perfect day.

Until the jovial atmosphere was shattered by a piercing, frightened scream…

A few men and women instantly raced off in the direction of the creek. Scrambling down the narrow path and bursting through the overgrown vegetation, they were shocked to find young Julie Woodring bent over a bank of bushes, obviously physically ill. Her boyfriend, Benjamin Johnson, stood behind her holding her hair out of the way and absently rubbing her back. His face, normally tanned and smiling, was taut with fright and a pasty white in color. When he recognized that his father was one of the would-be rescuers, he pointed a visibly trembling hand towards the small glade that was just off of the trail and partially hidden by dense underbrush and small pines. "D-Dad! It's over there!"

Russell Johnson followed the direction of his son's pointing finger. Raising a hand in silent instruction for the rest of the group to stay put, he carefully stepped towards the clearing. What he saw there wouldn't even register in his mind at first. It took a long moment, before he realized that what he was seeing was a human body in pieces. Many, many pieces. With an unsteady hand, he pulled out his cell phone and dialed 9-1-1. He was oddly surprised at the calmness of his own voice as he answered the dispatcher's question. "Yes, this is an emergency. Is this Mary? Mary this is Russell Johnson. I need to report the finding of a dead…body between the Julian baseball field and Bald Eagle Creek. Mary, I'm sorry, but I don't know how else to say this. The body - it's in….pieces. You're going to need extra people here."

Medico-Legal Lab at the Jeffersonian

Friday, September 1st – 8:17pm

Special Agent Seeley Booth had had a very long day. It had all started with the late night capture of a suspect in an ongoing homicide investigation. He hadn't gotten home until the wee hours of the morning and had been looking forward to a hot shower and a solid eight hours of sleep. That dream had gone out the window with a pre-sunrise phone call from Deputy Director Cullen instructing him to be get back to headquarters ASAP – murderer number two of the day needed his attention. It turns out that a body had been discovered in Pennsylvania, less than ten miles from a major university campus. That had been approximately two weeks ago. However, the FBI hadn't been called in until that very morning. That fact notwithstanding, the Deputy Director was under pressure to close the case in as short a time span as possible. Of course, Booth's first two questions had been, "Why does a murder in Pennsylvania fall under FBI jurisdiction? And, even if it does, why isn't it being handled by one of the local field offices?" Cullen's answer, that "…apparently the brass didn't like to see mislabeled and obviously unsolved serial killings be investigated by the very agents that didn't recognize them for what they are…," sent his already less than stellar day into an unbreakable tailspin. So, he had studied the case files, such as they were. And, now, he was waiting for his partner to return to her office so that he could work his magic and cajole her into accompanying him, once again, out of state.

He had been there for about 15 minutes, and was running through a mental review of the facts of the case, when he heard familiar footsteps echo throughout the cavernous room as his partner, Forensic Anthropologist Dr. Temperance Brennan, entered the lab. She saw him leaning against the doorframe of her office, raised a surprised brow and simultaneously frowned. Uh oh. That's not a good sign. Knowing that he was in for a fight from the feisty scientist, he resigned himself to the fact that his daymight yetget a little bit worse.

"Booth. It's a Friday night. What are you doing here?" Her tone was slightly surprised, but also obviously implied that he should be anywhere but in front of her office door. How does she do that? She always seems to know when I'm going to ask for something that she won't like.

Placing his right hand loosely over his heart, he gave her his best "Charm Smile" as she called it. "What, Bones? I'm not allowed to visit my favorite partner on a Friday evening?"

She smirked. Does he really think that smile is still going to work on me? Oh hell, who do I think I'm kidding? As Angela would say, damn the man and that smile. Rolling her eyes, she replied, "I'm your only partner, Booth." Continuing into her office, she took a seat behind her desk and spun around to face him. "Seriously, what happened to get you all pumped up?"

Even after all that he had been through that day; he caught the slightly hopeful/nervous look that she always got in her eye when she was using a "new" slang term. He couldn't help the soft smile that broke across his features and asked, "Angela teach you that one? Excellent usage, by the way." He sat down in the chair across from her desk and leaned back, trying to relax at least a little bit. Yeah, the calm before Storm Termperance rolls in. He pulled a poker chip out of his pocket and started to roll it over his knuckles.

"Thank you, Booth, but that doesn't answer my question."

He opened his mouth to reply when she interrupted.

"And please don't tell me that your answer involves something other than me going home for a long, hot, bubble bath followed by several hours in my own bed."

He knew that it certainly hadn't been her intention, but the visual that statement caused instantly drove every other thought from his mind. He was surprised to find that he couldn't form a coherent sentence other than, I wonder if she needs help with that bath. Of course, that thought really didn't help with the first mental image that he was already trying to banish. Not to mention, he didn't think she'd appreciate him asking that particular question. She'd probably break my arm!

Apparently, being caught up in his own musings, he had waited too long before answering, because she suddenly stood up and walked around to the front of her desk. She perched herself directly in front of him and attempted to get his wandering attention.

"Booth! I'm still waiting."

"Oh, right." He paused, once again distracted. Wow. She's actually wearing a skirt today. Has she always had such amazing legs? He then shook his head. What the hell is wrong with me today?

She waved a delicate hand in small circles saying, "And….the reason that you're here is…."

"Oh, yeah." Forcing himself to focus on the task at hand, he sighed as he said, "We were assigned a new case this morning."

He watched as her brows creased and she tilted her head slightly to one side. "So, why didn't you come by earlier? It's almost 8:45. If you waited this long, it can't be a fresh crime scene?"

Clearing his throat, he shifted in his chair. "No, it's not a fresh scene. But, there actually is something we can do." He paused before continuing with the part she wouldn't like. "We can get out of here, run by your place so that you can pack a bag, and then we can get on the road. We'll be there before you know it." Maybe I should try the smile again¸ he thought.

"Pack to go where? I've told you before, Booth, that you can't just waltz in here and demand that I leave on a moment's notice. I have work and responsibilities. I do have to answer to people other than just you, you know!" Honestly! Doesn't the man ever listen to me?

"Bones, I'm not here to demand your company. I'm here to ask very nicely that you please accompanyme. There's no one in the local area that can do what I think needs to be done with the remains in order to get this case moving forward. This is important. Everyone is pushing Deputy Director Cullen, who is pushing me, to get this solved ASAP."

"What's wrong with the remains? I man, what couldbeso unusual that the local ME can't handle it? And, where exactly is 'local', anyway?"

"Local is Central Pennsylvania."

She interrupted with, "Well that should make life simple then. I'm sure there is someone at Penn State could help out. They do have some intelligent experts in various fields of study there, in case you didn't know. If not, there are excellent teaching facilities and hospitals in both Pittsburgh and Philadelphia." She paused in thought, "How'd you get assigned a murder case in Pennsylvania, anyway?"

"Well, that's the thing. This isn't just one case in Pennsylvania. Apparently, it's a string of cases stretching clear across the US. The one and only common factor seems to be that the murders take place near, but not at, a major university or college campus. Bones, I'll tell you this. I've seen some truly horrifying things in my life. But, these bodies that are being found…each is atrociously mutilated and/or dismembered. And, it's never in the same manner twice. Bones, the most recent victim was in so many pieces that it took over 5 hours to find and collect all of the remains." He rubbed his hand across his eyes as though that might erase the images from the crime scene photos. "The discrepancies in the MO…that's why it took so long before the FBI was called in. No one had made the connection, until now, that the cases were even related to one another. I only just received the case files this morning, and they're anything but complete for this type of investigation. From what I can tell so far, we are looking at a minimum of eight deaths in seven different states. Pennsylvania is the most recent. And, that occurred two weeks ago tomorrow." He scrubbed a hand through his normally perfect hair. "I realize this is short notice, but I could really use your help on this one, Bones."

She took a long hard look at him and recognized his exhausted appearance for what it was. She didn't know why someone locally wouldn't be able to help Booth with this case. But, she was his partner. Realizing that, she quickly came to her answer. "Ok, then. Let's go. You can give me the details on the way."


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