Hi guys! Well, I thought I was out of stories to post, but then I found this little tale hidden on my jump drive. So, there's not much to say about this one except that it's set after 2.17 "The Priest in the Churchyard." The timing will be important later on.
As always, I don't own Bones, and please review after you've finished reading!
Temperance Brennan stood near the wall of the Jeffersonian Institute's ballroom, silently sipping a glass of champagne, while Jack Hodgins stood besides her, ranting about their boss, Cam Saroyan. This evening marked another of the banquets occasionally held for the Institute's donors. Cam, much like Dr. Goodman, had insisted that everyone on her team attend with absolutely no exceptions. Not even Booth had been able to escape this one. Since he acted as the FBI liaison to her team and was featured in the article about the partnership between the Jeffersonian and the FBI, Cam had insisted that he attend as well.
Brennan hated these parties with every cell in her being. She hated dressing up, she hated talking to donors who thought her job was 'disgusting' and her books were 'disturbing,' and she hated having to leave the lab while she was in the middle of an important case to attend a silly, frivolous party. She had tried to mingle and talk with some of the guests when she arrived, but after she grew tried of answering the same old questions about her books and her work, she found Jack hiding in a corner of the ballroom and decided to join him.
It was only recently that she had learned who Jack really was. He was hiding in the corner of the ballroom, leaning against a wall, champagne in hand, in hopes of keeping his true identity under wraps. He had begged Cam to let him stay behind at the lab, figuring that she would understand because she, too, knew about his family's ties to the Cantilever Group and the Jeffersonian, but Cam had ended up threatening his job, so in the end, Jack had no choice but to attend.
Brennan looked around the room as Jack continued to rant about how such events were just bureaucratic nonsense and had to be a part of some bigger government conspiracy. She spotted her boss first. Cam stood calm and composed while chatting with some of the donors, and Brennan instantly thought about how fantastic Cam is with people. Brennan often wished she possessed Cam's people skills. Cam could talk to anyone about anything, while all Brennan knew how to discuss was anthropology, skeletons, and murder. Cam's long, dark hair was fashioned in a simple ponytail that hung down her back, while thin, straight bangs graced her face. She wore a simple, strapless, black dress.
Brennan's eyes left Cam and looked for her other friends. Angela was awkwardly trying to dance with Zack because Hodgins had refused to leave the corner and dance with her several times. Angela had been forced to go with the next best thing. Brennan could see that it was not going well as Angela was clearly becoming frustrated with Zack's lack of coordination.
Booth, however, was nowhere to be found. Brennan definitely enjoyed Jack's company, but a part of her had been hoping to spend her time at the event with Booth. She wanted to continue discussing their case so the evening wouldn't be completely wasted, and she knew, though she'd never admit it, that she simply liked spending time with him. She watched all of the happy couples, plus Angela and Zack, out on the dance floor, and she felt her heart sink a bit. Sully had promised to come to this event with her after she had first found about it a month ago. It had been two and a half weeks since he had set off for the Caribbean without her. Her mind knew that she had made the correct decision, but that fact didn't make coping with his leaving any easier. She titled her head towards Jack as her mind refocused on what he was saying.
"So you and I can just stand here all night and fight the system," Jack finished, taking a long drink of his champagne as a means of toasting his declaration.
Brennan pondered his words for a moment. "Can it really be considered fighting the system if we're at the party?" she asked.
"Ah, that's the beauty of it, baby. I may be at the party, but I am not participating in the party," he said with pride in his voice.
"Good enough for me," Brennan shrugged, ignoring the 'baby' remark.
At that moment, Zack joined them in the corner. His hair was gelled into a stylish clean-cut look and he wore a black suit, yellow shirt, and navy blue tie. Brennan briefly thought about how much more adult he had looked since he received his doctorate and felt a sense of pride. Zack glanced over his shoulder to see if Angela had followed him. Angela was slowly making her way over to them, briefly stopping for some refreshments along the way.
"Hodgins, dance with her. Please," Zack pleaded with him, his face stern.
"No way, man," Hodgins said, shaking his head. Zack's desperation amused him, so he smiled as he answered Zack's question.
"How about you?" Zack asked, turning to Brennan.
"Sorry, Zack. I'm, uh, fighting the system," she said, repeating Jack's words.
"Yeah!" Hodgins exclaimed gleefully. He clinked his champagne glass with Brennan's and finished off the drink.
"What system, Dr. Brennan?" Zack asked, thoroughly confused.
"Oh, don't answer that," Angela said, joining them.
Angela wore a floor-length, spaghetti-strapped, purple ball gown that was covered in glitter and sparkles. Her makeup was just as dramatic, and her hair hung loose around her shoulders with the ends curled into little ringlets. She looked at her friends with a disapproving expression on her face.
"She found us," Hodgins muttered.
"People," Angela said. "There is a party going on."
Hodgins, who was dressed in a black suit, white shirt, and a purple tie to match Angela's dress, wrapped his arm around Angela's waist and tugged her to him, kissing her cheek gently. Brennan and Zack stayed silent. Angela looked among her friends' faces, waiting for a response. She sighed, realizing she wasn't going to get one, and looked at Zack.
"You, this is your first banquet as a full-fledged forensic anthropologist. You finally got your doctorate! You should be out there bragging to anyone who will listen," she said.
"But bragging is a sign of arrogance and conceit. I don't believe I want to come off like that," Zack protested.
"Honey, you're smarter than every single person in this room, except maybe Brennan, so I think you've earned it," Angela said. She turned to Brennan. "You look gorgeous tonight, and every guy in this place would agree."
"But…" Brennan began.
"No. Now I know part of you is still upset over Sully, but that's all the more reason to go meet someone new," Angela said.
Brennan was dressed in a cobalt blue halter dress that fell just below her knees and accentuated her light blue eyes. Angela had picked it out for her, and despite Brennan's protests that it was way too low-cut, she had decided to wear it anyway. The dress didn't have any over-the-top or flashy decorations to it, which was just the way Brennan liked it. Angela had styled her hair into a fashionable, but incredibly uncomfortable, up do, and she was currently standing on tall, silver, stiletto heels. Her lips were a soft pink color, and the rest of her makeup had earthy tones and gave her pale skin a natural-looking glow.
Angela waited a moment for Brennan to respond before turning to her boyfriend. "And you," she sighed. "Technically, you're one of the ones this party is being thrown for, so you really should try to enjoy it."
"I like my life as it is, Angie. I don't want my status or my reputation at the lab to change," Hodgins said firmly, with a hint of sadness in his voice.
Angela knew all of this and felt her heart soften a bit at the sad look in his eyes. "Okay, so you have an excuse, but you two don't," she said, bringing her focus back to Brennan and Zack.
Brennan and Zack exchanged glances. Both were perfectly content with staying up against that wall for the duration of the party, but both knew that logically, Angela was right. Brennan took a deep breath and pushed herself off the wall.
"I suppose Cam won't be too pleased when she inevitably finds all four of us over here," Brennan muttered.
"Dr. Brennan's right," Zack agreed. "I guess I could try conversing with some of the donors."
"How long have we been here?" Hodgins groaned. He was currently about to finish his fourth glass of champagne for the evening, and by the looks of it, the alcohol was finally beginning to take effect.
"A little less than an hour," Angela answered, looking at her watch. "Sorry guys, but there's probably at least a couple hours left." All three scientists sighed.
"Where's Booth? Isn't he supposed to be enduring this infinite torture with us?" Hodgins asked.
"I saw him earlier, but I don't know where he disappeared to," Angela said. "Now, go mingle!"
"Fine, but if I have to sign one more book or explain to someone how I could 'possibly write such horrific murder sequences,' I'm going home," Brennan declared, walking away.
"And if I encounter one more person who doesn't know what a phalange is, I'm taking a cab home," Zack asserted, leaving the group as well.
Angela watched them walk away and shook her head slightly. She turned to Hodgins and opened her mouth as if to say something. He cut her off before she could get a word out.
"And if you try to get me to dance one more time, I'm going home, and you're not coming with me," Hodgins said.
"Well…okay, then," Angela said. She sighed and took a sip of her wine.
"Zack!" Cam exclaimed, grabbing his arm.
"Dr. Saroyan, where are we going?" Zack asked as Cam led him to the side of the ballroom.
"There are some people who would like to meet you," Cam said. They approached a couple in their mid-50s. "Mr. and Mrs. Burton, I'd like to introduce you to the newest member of our team, Dr. Zack Addy."
"Technically, I've been with the Jeffersonian longer than you have," Zack said to Cam. She used her eyes to focus his gaze onto the couple. Zack got the message. He turned to the couple. "Nice to meet you."
"Dr. Addy has been the assistant to Dr. Temperance Brennan for several years, and he just completed his doctorate in forensic anthropology," Cam continued.
"Congratulations, young man," Mr. Burton said.
"Thank you," Zack muttered.
"Oh, that must be such an awful job, though. Dealing with death all day must be dreadful," Mrs. Burton said.
An uncomfortable silence fell over the group as Zack realized everyone was waiting for him to respond. Cam gently nudged him, encouraging him to say something.
"Did you know that coccidiomycosis, otherwise known as Valley Fever or San Joaquin Valley Fever, is a fungus that can lead to pneumonia, meningitis, spontaneous abortion in women, or even death?" Zack said with confidence and speed.
The couple exchanged a glace, not knowing what to make of Zack's random fact. Cam sighed and looked down at the ballroom's floor. Zack may finally look like a professional, but his people skills still had a long way to go.
Brennan stood near the bartender, silently searching the room for her partner. Booth had joined them in the limo ride over. Where was he?
"Parties like this aren't really your thing, huh?" a man asked her. She glanced over. He looked nice enough.
"Is it that obvious?" she asked.
"Edward Perry," he said, holding out his right hand for her to shake. She instantly noticed that he hadn't answered her question.
"Dr. Temperance Brennan," she said, shaking his hand. "Why didn't you answer my question?"
"Temperance Brennan…the novelist?" he asked impressed.
"The forensic anthropologist," she replied immediately. She hated it when people assumed being a novelist was her only, or her most important, career.
"Two career woman. Very cool," Edward said.
"Uh, thanks," she replied awkwardly.
"You know a lot of guys get nervous or intimidated by smart, successful women, but not me," he said with a cocky tone of voice.
"Okay," she said, not sure of what to make of his statement.
"So you work for the Jeffersonian?" he asked.
"Yes, I do. I work in the Anthropology Unit of the Institute's Medico-Legal Lab," she replied with confidence. "What do you do?"
"I'm a lawyer," he replied. "I'm here because my grandpa worked for the Jeffersonian, and my family has remained big contributors to the Institution ever since." Brennan nodded. He decided to switch topics. "So are the murders in your books based on real cases or do you just make up all that horrible, gruesome stuff?"
"Excuse me a minute," she said not-so-politely and stepped outside of the ballroom.
Once outside of the ornate wood doors, Brennan glanced back inside and saw Angela seemingly berating Edward. Brennan rolled her eyes as she realized Angela had sent that idiot to talk to her in an attempt to set her up. Hodgins was still in the corner looking slightly drunk and amused as he watched Angela yell at the lawyer. Zack's face looked panicked as he endeavored to chat with the older couple, and Cam was gliding smoothly along the dance floor with a young man from the Jeffersonian. She briefly thought about her obligation to attend the party but quickly decided that no one inside would miss her if she disappeared for a while.
The ballroom was located on the top floor of the Jeffersonian Natural History Museum. A few couples spilled out into the hallway, but Brennan guessed that few knew the museum as well as she did. She quietly slipped down a few more hallways and made her way through a few of the deserted smaller exhibits before arriving at the Jeffersonian Planetarium.
Please let the door be unlocked, she thought.
Her long, thin fingers curled around the door handle, and she tugged gently. To her surprise, the door opened right away. She quickly glanced around to make sure no one was watching before she entered the room.
Chapter Two should be up soon! Don't forget to review!