"What do you have for me?"
Temperance Brennan didn't even glance in her partner, Seeley Booth's, direction. Her attention, as usual when she got new remains in, was on the skeletons that found in the Atlanta, Georgia area. The tomb the remains were in supposedly belonged to the Butler family. The landowner claimed the remains were that of the fictional character Rhett Butler and his family. According to where the book left off, though, there was no family for him to be interred with. And the remains found were numerous, belonging to several people.
Bones had agreed to look at the remains, in truth, wanting to be sure the theory going around by those who'd found the remains was debunked by her. In something like this, she was the only one she trusted to get to the truth.
"Nothing of interest for you," she murmured. She wasn't worried that he'd be insulted by her lack of attention to him. Booth knew how she was.
"I hear you got some new remains in."
"What have you got?"
"A family mausoleum found outside of the Atlanta area. The property was handed down from generation to generation. The current owner are on the verge of defaulting on their loan. So, they decided to try for some publicity, saying they were a descendant of Rhett and Scarlett Butler. As proof, the remains in the mausoleum were offered for our examination."
"Well, this was a private mausoleum, Booth, on private property."
She looked up at him, the face guard she wore distorting him somewhat. "Well, yeah, it'd be like burying your loved ones in your backyard. I mean, not quite, because the land is still pretty vast from what I've been told and they were laid to rest properly."
She caught his smirk, her reference to the religious ceremony of burial was unusual for her. More along the lines of something he would notice. Just because she didn't believe in religion like he did.
"Okay. So, some family decided they wanted their loved ones close by. What does this have to do with you?"
"Were you not listening? They claim to be the descendant of Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara. And that these are their remains. Among others."
"You mean these remains are supposedly characters from a book? A book written eighty years ago. At least."
Tempe smiled, lifting the mask, prepared to take a break.
"Yes. You've read it?"
"Well, no," he scoffed. "I know of it. She married two men before him. He wasn't the marrying kind until her, and very possibly married her only because he knew if he didn't someone else would and he'd never have a chance with her."
"I'm not illiterate."
"I never claimed you were."
"So, what does this mean? What have you found?"
"Well, there were some documents the landowner offered as part of her proof. Zack is going through those."
"I'll bet he's having fun with that."
"He does what I tell him to do. I need him to go through papers, that's what he does. We're talking close to one hundred fifty years of documents, Booth."
"So, how'd you get brought into this?"
"Well, I'm trying to determine who is who. There appears to be a few generations here. The descendant, Zack has the name and information with the documents he's reviewing, has indicated she'd submit to a DNA test."
"Is there enough there you can do that?"
"That's what I'm trying to find out."
"Huh. So, this person, a woman?"
"She's hard up for cash. Why is that? If the property has been in the family for over a century, wouldn't it be paid off by now?"
"You would think. Zack's looking into that, too. But apparently she was living beyond her means, took out a mortgage she couldn't pay back."
"And rather than lose her family estate she's decided to try for a bit of cheap publicity."
"You're catching on."
"Yeah, it takes me a while sometimes. Do you think it's them?"
"Booth, they're characters from a book."
"What if they weren't? What if it was a biographical account but not credited that way for whatever reason."
"Why wouldn't it have been?"
"Maybe the Butler's, or the, I forget her name."
"Right, O'Hara's. Maybe neither family alive at the time the book was written would give permission, but the author wrote it anyway. Sold it as a work of fiction. Who, but the Butler's and O'Hara's would know any different. They didn't have television or the Internet so it's not like people would rush out and research the families."
She quirked a brow, but had to admit he had a valid point. It was possible, slightly. Very slightly.
"They're fiction, Booth. Works of fiction don't show up dead in a mausoleum a hundred plus years later."
His cell phone rang, which he answered promptly. He held his hand up, silencing her so she resumed her work. There were so many bones. The ones that were most difficult for her to see where the remains of children, infants. She had found similar parts for three, indicating three children, boys, had been lost at a very young age.
"I've got to run. Keep me posted. If you need me to do something."
"Yeah, research Gone With the Wind."
"Uh no, get Zack to do that, too."
Bones rolled her eyes, waving him off as she returned to work.
Bones glanced around her. There were so many of them. Generations upon generations. She'd spent her free time reading the book. When she was busy, she'd hand the book off to someone else who wasn't busy and ask them to take diligent notes on the people and places referenced in the pages they read.
She was able to come up with remains belonging to several individuals. It was easy to see which ones were the more recently deceased. According to the documents the supposed descendent provided, she was able to identify eleven of the people surrounding the heated debate about "were they or weren't they".
Gerald O'Hara and Ellen Robillard O'Hara, husband and wife, parents to six children, three of which preceded them in death. Both initially were buried on the property, but had been exhumed and moved to the family mausoleum later. The dates of this process were not known.
Susan Elinor "Suellen" O'Hara Benteen and spouse, Will Benteen. Middle daughter to Gerald and Ellen. Their children were not with them, Temperance presumed they were with their spouses.
Caroline Irene "Carreen" O'Hara. Third daughter to Gerald and Ellen. She had never married and had apparently become a nun. According to the book, Will Benteen was smitten with her before marrying Suellen.
Three male infants, all named Gerald O'Hara, Jr. All three male children were born after the three girls.
Katie Scarlett and Rhett Butler, husband and wife, and the whole reason Bones was so intrigued by this case.
Eugenie Victoria "Bonnie" Butler, daughter of Scarlett and Rhett, dying as a child and part of the reason their marriage suffered. Like her grandparents, she was exhumed and moved to the mausoleum. This was done upon the death of her mother, or so records stated.
There were others. Benteen's and Butler's. The O'Hara lined stopped, however, with Carreen, as there were no O'Hara's left. Not by surname anyway. Obviously, the bloodline continued.
Temperance had done what she could. She was able to identify the fact that the three women - Katie, Susan, and Caroline - were related not just to one another but to Gerald and Ellen as well as the three infant boys bearing the same name. Bones tried not to think of those little boys. She couldn't imagine having to go through the loss of one child let alone three, though she knew it happened quite often during the time she was looking at.
The other child, older than the three boys, but not by much, was Rhett and Katie Scarlett Butler's daughter.
She perused her notes. The book was long, too long as far as she was concerned. She'd read it once before, so to plod through the over one thousand pages a second time out of necessity was tiring. Speed-reading that amount of text had given her massive headaches.
If Juanita Claymore was lying, she was doing a good job of covering her tracks. As much as she hated to do it, there was no way that she could positively say that the people buried in the mausoleum were not the Butler's and O'Hara's written about in Gone With the Wind.
She looked up at the sound of the knock on her office door. She smiled widely at Booth, happier to see the takeout Chinese than him.
"I hear you're working pretty hard on this."
"No pressing cases have come in, and I admit I'm a little curious."
"What's the verdict, Dr. Brennan?"
She removed the lid from the container of soup, dipping the plastic spoon in so she could have a taste. She was in heaven. He knew exactly what she liked.
"You know, I went into this telling myself I was the only one to do it, because I could prove without a doubt these remains aren't who this Ms. Claymore says they are."
"I can't prove it. The documents she's provided."
"I looked them over. They look legit to me, too."
"How can that be?"
"Truth is stranger than fiction? For every fictional story there's some basis for truth behind it."
"But, Booth, this is an entire family, generations of them, written about. Documented. A woman like Scarlett."
"I haven't read the book, but I admit I snuck in a viewing of the movie."
"You did not!"
"Mm, I tried. I nodded off now and then, but I got the gist."
"And?" She'd forced a guy in high school or college to watch it with her, but she'd never met a man until now who had willingly sat through the four hours that made up the movie version of the best-selling novel. And by himself? Whether he knew it or not, he'd just earned a spot in the heart of hers that was already softening to him.
"She would have been hot. I can see why a worldly guy like Rhett fell for her. And fell hard. She was a woman living in a man's world and did what she needed to do to survive. The other women didn't like her because they were too proud to do what she did. Meanwhile, they starved and she didn't. They went broke and lost everything. She didn't. She was a survivor. Marrying her sister's boyfriend was a little low, but she was feeding like a dozen people at that plantation at that time. I don't know what the book says about her, but from the movie the sister didn't strike me as the type to offer to help the others once she'd gotten away."
"Hmm. You think so?"
"That's just one guy's perspective." He shrugged then, appearing uncertain about expressing his viewpoints on the subject. "I mean, I'd have gone for her. You can't blame anyone, man or woman, for doing what they need to survive."
"So, what are you going to do?"
"I guess I mark it as not being refuted. Let Juanita have her fifteen minutes of fame. It'll die down eventually. Like you said, the book was over eighty years ago, movie not quite that long ago. Interest will pique and then die down."
"So, how'd they end up buried together?"
"At the end of the movie, he leaves her."
"Oh, well, I don't know. The documents merely state they were buried together. And in fact, Juanita Claymore is a descendant of their second child."
"No," Tempe stopped eating her soup for a minute, letting the spoon rest in the bowl so she could look through her paperwork. "One Gerald Kincaide Butler."
"So, they had a boy?"
"So it would seem."
"So there are really Butler's out there?"
"Could be. It stands to reason, if Gerald had more boys."
"Yeah, I'm sure some genealogy fan will go crazy working the puzzle, putting the pieces together. All I know is I can't tell them it'll be all for nothing."
"Does that disappoint you?"
She rested her hand over the cover of the paperback copy of the book she'd bought for this assignment. She stroked it fondly.
"No, no it doesn't. If they ended up back together, working things out. Then, no, I'm not disappointed at all."
"You're a fan!"
"I am. I loved them growing up. I found my first copy in an attic of one of the houses I was at. I thought I'd found a treasure. The book was worn, some of the pages tattered from being read and re-read. I was afraid if they caught me with it they'd take it away, so I snuck up there to read it every chance I could. I have no idea how long it took me to read it that first time. I dreamt of them. I cried when Gerald O'Hara and Bonnie died. When Scarlett got to Tara after Beau was born only to find her mother dead and everything she'd known and come to count on gone. I took the book with me when I left, lost it somewhere along the way. I never re-read it until now, but just having it close by helped me at times. She's a survivor, like you said, and it reminded me that I would survive, too."
She shrugged to avoid getting too personal and handed the book to Booth. "Here."
"You don't expect me to read it."
"There's going to be publicity, your name will be mentioned in conjunction with mine and the Jeffersonian. Might as well bone up on the facts."
Booth took the book and let out a low whistle as he thumbed through the pages. "I'll do my best. You can't just rubber stamp it?" She quirked a brow at him as way of an answer. "No, I didn't think so. Do they have an audio version?"
"Okay, okay, I'll put it by my nightstand."
She was sorely tempted to ask what else he kept by his nightstand, but instead, chose to bite into a wonton. Some things were better left to the imagination.