Angela fishes around in her shoulder bag for the keys to her apartment and resolves for the eightieth time to buy a bag that has interior pockets or a built-in key ring or helpful elves living at the bottom to locate things. Or she could just stop carrying around quite so much, and use a smaller bag, but she thinks she has a better chance of actually finding that elf bag than getting used to a smaller bag and getting along with less stuff.
She locates them, finally, unlocks the three locks on her front door (the previous tenant was apparently a security nut). She turns off the alarm, relocks all three behind her and slides the chain lock in place (if all the security is there, may as well use it, right?). Finally, she drops her keys in the bowl by the door, and feels herself start to relax. It's been a long, a miserably long, day.
She dumps her bag on the couch, turns on a lamp, and goes to look at her CDs. It's a good night for music, either something mellow and soothing or upbeat and cheering, she's not sure which yet. And lunch feels like it was a million years ago, but there's leftover—
It's fast, so fast that Angela can't quite remember how it happened, but one second she's planning dinner and the next someone has grabbed her from behind, one arm tight across both of hers and pinning them, one hand over her mouth. "It's okay. No one's gonna hurt you," he says. "Promise."
Somehow, he lacks credulity, in Angela's opinion, because people do not break into your apartment so they can not hurt you. She stomps hard on his right foot, hard enough to break the heel off her shoe (and dammit, she likes these shoes and they were not exactly cheap), and bites his hand.
"Jesus Christ, lady, are you insane?" he asks, and Angela thinks that's a bit rich, given that he broke into her apartment. But he doesn't relax his grip with either hand, which would probably make Angela raise her estimation of him, if she hadn't already decided she hated him. "She bit me," he says, and Angela realizes for the first time that there are two of them.
And that she's seen them before.
This whole case has been a series of things not going according to plan. For example, Dean had not planned on having some chick's teeth digging into his palm. And in the event that such a thing did happen, he expected slightly more sympathy from Sam than a what did you expect, dude? glance when he complained about the fact that he had some chick's teeth digging into this palm.
"Look, Angela," Sam says, hands held up in a calm down gesture. "It's Angela, right?"
The woman doesn't answer. Well, in fairness, it's not like she can. Not verbally, anyway. "Let's skip introductions for the moment, Sammy," Dean suggests. Save it for a time there are not teeth clamped on his hand.
Sam takes a step closer, though he's still well out of Angela's reach, which is smart, because Dean suspects she's a kicker.
Probably a hair-puller, too.
"Angela, we're really not going hurt you, but we need to talk to you, okay? Just talk."
Angela shakes her head.
"I know," Sam continues. "This is . . . we know what this looks like. But something is going on in that lab and we need your help. We need your help to stop it. Before someone gets hurt."
"Yeah, see, your coworkers are annoying freaks, but they don't deserve to die," Dean adds, tersely. His hand is starting to seriously hurt.
Sam shoots him a please don't try to help look, and turns his attention back to Angela. "Just think about it, okay? Weird things happened today, right? Stuff you couldn't explain?"
Angela doesn't attempt to move or say anything. She's still completely tense, but she stops biting Dean's hand, and he'll call that a win for the moment. He nods, very slightly, so she won't feel it, to Sam. This is working. I think.
"It was cold, wasn't it? And stuff moved around?" Sam asks. "Those are signs, and if we're right, it's only going to get worse. We can fix it, but we're gonna need your help. We're gonna need you to trust us. Which I know we haven't given you any reason to do, but, Angela . . ."
"Look, lady, if we were here to do anything to you, we'd be doing it by now," Dean says.
Sam doesn't look impressed with that argument, but Angela nods slowly once, and tries to say something against his hand. Dean moves his hand, no more than an inch, in case this is a trick. "Okay," she says. "I'm probably being an idiot here, but okay."
"Thank you," Sam says.
Dean lets her go and she steps immediately out of arms' reach. She moves towards the door, Dean notes, and she steps out of her broken shoes as does so. So she's smart and she doesn't trust them yet, and she hasn't given up on getting out of here. Dean moves to be between her and the door and hopes that'll discourage any attempts in that direction. It's not like she could get all those locks undone before they caught her, but he'd really rather not have to physically stop her. It's bad for trust-building.
And leads to getting bit.
"All right," Angela says, arms folded, still visibly on the defensive. "Who the hell are you two?" There's a pause. "And I want your real names this time."
They'd decided, while they waited for her, that real names were a bad idea. On the other hand, there's no way she hasn't figured out that the names they already gave her were aliases. Which, Sam told Dean, means no band names this time.
"I'm Edward, this is my partner, Mike, and we're—" Sam says, in that same calm, soothing voice.
Angela holds a hand up. "Your real names," she repeats.
"What makes you think those aren't our real names?" Dean asks.
"Because 'Sammy' is not a nickname for 'Edward,'" she says.
Dean thinks back. Damn. In his defense, he'd kind of been in pain at the time, and Sam had needed to pick up the pace on the whole The Truth Is Out There thing, but damn.
"'Sammy' also isn't a nickname most grown men who aren't baseball players use," she continues. She looks from one of them to the other. "So my guess you've known each other a long time, long enough to still be using a childhood nickname. You're pretty impressive with the nonverbal communication, too. I'm going to guess brothers. Or at least cousins. Shared physical characteristics being what they are. I work with faces for a living, guys, and they do not lie to me. So one last time, who are hell are you?"
Dean looks at Sam. The jig, as they say, appears to be up. Sam nods.
"I'm Dean Winchester, this is my brother, Sam. We think your lab is haunted."
Angela's heard a lot of lines from a lot of guys for a lot of reasons in a lot of circumstances.
This is a new one.
"We think your lab is haunted," Agent Hill—Dean repeats.
"And when you say 'haunted' you mean . . ."
"By a ghost."
"Angela," Agent Beard—Sammy—Sam says, "you noticed stuff today, right? Weird stuff? Like I mentioned before. The cold, objects moving, stuff like that. Those are signs. They're classic signs of a ghost."
"A ghost," Angela says. "Like . . . Jacob Marley in chains stuff?"
"Close enough," Sam says, as Dean says, "Who?" Sam shakes his head at his brother and continues. "Ghosts are real, and we think there's one in your lab."
"Ghosts are real?" Angela repeats, and she feels like an echo, but . . . it's been a weird day and it's getting weirder, and she's been accosted in her own living room by a couple of guys who are either delusional or (and this is probably the scarier thought) not delusional.
Or they're serial killers with a flair for the dramatic, but since there's not a lot she can do if they are, she pushes that thought from her mind.
"Yeah, ghosts are real," Dean says. "So are a lot of other damn things, but let's focus on ghosts, okay? Specifically, let's focus on the ghost who has moved into your lab, because she's already killed five people and we don't think she's going to stop any time soon. Unless we stop her. And we're gonna need your help with that."
"She's killing people? What? How? Why?"
"Because she's pissed. She's not happy about being dead, and she's pissed. Believe me, you have no idea how angry and vengeful a dead seventeen-year old girl can be."
"Well, I have a pretty good idea how angry and vengeful a live one can be, so I can probably guess," Angela says. Dean is getting on her nerves.
He – very unexpectedly – grins at her. "Maybe you do, then. Point is, we need to stop her."
"And how do you do that?" she asks.
"We need to salt her bones and burn them. That lays the spirit to rest."
"Salt and burn her bones?"
"So, jumping ahead a few steps here, you're asking me to help you illegally enter a federal building so that you can destroy human remains that are now evidence in a federal case?" Angela asks.
Dean grins at her again. "Yeah, looks like."
Sam isn't really willing to say this is going well. On the other hand, he wouldn't say it's going badly, either. And Dean's slightly abrasive here's how it is approach seems to be working better than anything Sam has tried, so Sam drops back to observer, and lets Dean explain what they've worked out, the information they got from Linzi, and that the murderers here are never going to go to trial, anyway. At least, not on this plane of existence.
It's not until Angela sighs and drops onto her couch that Sam is willing to say he thinks they've convinced her – maybe not to help them, but at least that they're not either crazy or trying to kill her.
"So this weird stuff you're talking about," she says. "Would that include an explosion that physically and chemically couldn't have happened?"
"Something blew up?" Dean asks.
"Yeah. No one really got hurt, but, it was close."
"Yeah, it would include that," Sam says. "And it's only going to get worse."
"All right," says Angela. "All right. I mean, this definitely means I'm crazy, but what do you need?"
"Access to the building, anything you can tell us about the layout, and whatever you know about security."
"Right," Angela says. She gets up, grabs her bag, collects a pad of paper from a desk, and starts to leave the room.
"Where—?" Dean asks.
"Kitchen," she says, without stopping. "Light's better in there this time of day, I haven't had dinner, and we're all gonna need coffee."
Sam starts to follow her, but Dean reaches out and stops him. "What'd I tell you, Sammy? That is a kind of crazy I can handle."
Sam shakes his head and follows his brother in Angela's kitchen.
Dean, if questioned closely and possibly under extreme duress, would admit that he's pretty impressed.
Because in the last 25 minutes, Angela has made coffee, reheated pizza, drawn a layout of the medico-legal lab, and detailed exactly how many seconds it takes the camera to pan the lobby, how long it takes security to respond, and highlighted any places the cameras don't pick up.
Dean looks across the table at her. "Why the hell do you know that?"
"I'm a woman of unexpected talents, Dean," she says. "Also, we had a corrupt security guard steal a skeleton not too long ago, and had to work all this out to figure out how he did it. I doubt very much my boss expected me to reuse the information to facilitate another bone theft."
"Anyone likely to be there?" Sam asks.
Angela shrugs. "Depends. Hodgins has gone home, Brennan had karate, Booth wouldn't be there alone, but Zach . . . if he's working on something and he's on a roll . . . I've known him to spend the night."
"Great," says Dean. "He's the skinny kid with the hair?"
Nothing they can't handle then, but telling Angela that is probably a bad idea.
"And you're going to need this," Angela says. She pulls the ID badge from her purse. "It'll get you though pretty much any of the doors, and onto the platform. You'll need it here, here, and here," she says, indicating the appropriate places on her map. "Forget, and alarms go off."
Sam nods and starts to take the plan. "That stays with me," Angela says. "This is how this is gonna go down. In five minutes, I'm leaving. I'll go to the Barnes and Noble six blocks from here. On my way, I'll drop my bag, and stuff will go everywhere. You will be among the people who stop to help me, and I'll lose my ID. With me so far?"
Dean nods. And, yeah, at this point, even without duress, he'd admit he's impressed.
"Good," she continues. She checks her watch. "I'll stay till they close, which should give you enough time to get to the Jeffersonian, get in, steal what you need, and get out. Move fast, and don't try to set fire to anything in the lab – the fire suppression system is sensitive and all kinds of people you don't want to deal with get notified. Trust me, I have coworkers who inadvertently set it off often enough to know."
"Right," Sam says.
"Best bet, you need to burn something? Incinerator chute is here, if that'll work. Otherwise, take 'em with you, burn 'em elsewhere."
"That should work," Dean says.
"You don't come back here, you don't call me. I will obliterate every trace of you having been in this apartment, I know how. Clear?"
"Yeah," Dean says. "But, um, we probably ought to check in with you when it's done. Just in case, you know, there's anything we need to tell you."
Angela raises an eyebrow. "Really?"
"Yeah," Dean says. "Purely professional." Well, all right, mostly professional.
She's hot, okay?
"Fine," Angela says. She gets a map, studies places outside the beltway, and picks one she's stopped at before. She taps the map, gives them the name. "I'll meet you there at 2AM, and I won't wait long."
"Deal," Dean says.
"Any questions?" Angela asks.
"How do we know you won't call the police the moment we're out of your sight?" Sam asks.
"You don't. But I can't be the only person in this equation taking things on faith, okay?"
Sam nods, and pulls the map over to review it.
"You have any questions for us?" Dean asks.
"How'd you know where I live?"
"Unexpected talents," Dean says. He reaches into his pocket and produces the phone bill he stole from her in the lab that afternoon. "I would have mailed it, but I didn't have a stamp."
Zach Addy looks at the six sets of remains lined up neatly on the platform and frowns.
It's obvious that 06-001456 – now identified as Tabitha Loman – died of blunt force trauma to the skull. But the other five . . . there's nothing to indicate what killed them. Not a mark on the bones, nothing in trace and particulates, nothing in preliminary tox screens.
If it were not for the fact that they were, irrevocably and undeniably, dead, they'd all seem to be in perfect health.
It does not work that way. Death leaves marks. He finds them. Things make sense. That's how it works.
So the fact that it's not working that way today means that he just hasn't found the thing that he needs to find to make it work. And that means that he's still here, long after everyone else has left, looking again.
Zach's studying marks on one of Tabitha Loman's ribs. They might mean something, and they might not. He's about to increase magnification when his stomach grumbles its annoyance.
Maybe it is time for a break. Coffee and, assuming Hodgins has not eaten all of them, Poptarts.
There are two janitors with a rolling trashcan and a broom near the bottom of the platform, and Zach starts to go past them and then stops. He looks at his watch.
It's approximately two hours and seventeen minutes later than he has ever seen maintenance workers here before.
"You are not janitors," he says.
"Excuse me?" one of them says.
"You are not janitors," he repeats. And then he recognizes them. "And you are not FBI agents. You are not supposed to be here."
"I'm really sorry about this," the taller of them says.
And then everything goes dark.
"Dude, did you just apologize to him?" Dean demands.
Sam, supporting the awkward dead weight that is the now unconscious Zach Addy, frowns. "A little help here?"
Dean shoulders his half of the weight, and together they manage to haul the man over to what turns out to be a supply closet. Sam rings the interior with salt, and they shove Zach in, shut the door, and wedge a chair under the doorknob. It won't be a terribly comfortable way to spend the night, but there won't be any permanent damage, and he'll be safe if Tabitha decides to throw a tantrum, and the chair will at least slow him down enough that they can get out if he wakes up before they're done.
"Let's get this over with," Dean says, pulling the bag from the trashcan they brought. Sam swipes Angela's ID badge and they climb the steps to the platform.
There are alarms that go off, then, but they're not the ones the Jeffersonian installed. They're silent, and they trigger instincts developed in a lifetime of dealing with this sort of thing. The temperature drops suddenly and precipitously; Sam's watch stops. "Dean," he says, and it's a warning, rarely needed but always given.
Dean has already noticed them. "This is not good," he says.
The lights on the platform begin to flicker.
"Not good at all."
"She's here," Sam says, reading the cards that identify the bodies on the platform. He begins sweeping the bones into the salt-filled trash bag.
A tray of test tubes shatters to his right.
"Hurry up, Sammy," Dean orders, eyes sweeping the lab, watching for Tabitha.
"Hurrying," Sam snaps.
"Hurry faster," Dean says. "We've got company."
The ghost of Tabitha Loman materializes near Dean. She's dressed as she must have been for the party she thought she was attending the night she died, and the over all effect is sad, one of trying too hard. Were it not for the fact that she'd killed five people, Sam would feel sorry for her.
Or at least, he might have until she put her hand through Dean's chest.
The usual response here would be a shotgun loaded with rock salt. In this case, gunshots are pretty much guaranteed to bring security running, and that gets them arrested and doesn't stop Tabitha.
But they can improvise. Sam grabs a handful of salt from the bag of bones and flings it over the spirit and his brother.
Tabitha disappears, and Dean falls into one of the autopsy tables, catching his breath.
"You okay?" he asks Dean.
"Just go," Dean says.
Sam doesn't even bother with the steps, just jumps over the railing and heads for the incinerator chute. He can feel the heat when he opens the door, which is good, because there was no backup plan if it wasn't fired up tonight. "Rest in peace, Tabitha," he says, and drops the bag into the furnace below.
And then turns, surprised, when there's another crash of glass behind him.
Dean's not wild about ghosts. He likes ones who try to kill him (which, okay, is most of them) even less.
But he really dislikes the ones who try to kill him more than once. Especially if they're supposed to be neutralized already.
If Tabitha was angry and vengeful before, it's nothing compared to what she is now. Things on the platform seem to be exploding, a wind blows up and whips through the lab, the lights flicker and spark like fireworks.
"Sammy!" he says, and that's all he can manage before she's put her hand through his chest again.
What the hell is going on?
* * *
What the hell is going on? No more remains, no more ghost, that's how it works.
Unless . . .
The lights on the platform flicker wildly, and Sam notices that only one of the workstations is illuminated and in use. Presumably Zach Addy's and from what he knows about what Zach works on . . .
Sam sprints for the platform, slows down long enough to swipe the badge. He resents the time it takes, but alarms and security would be very bad right about now. It's counterintuitive to not stop and help his brother, but that's an instinct he's learned to ignore, or at least to redirect. Because the best way to help Dean right now is to stop Tabitha, and the only way to do that is to figure out why she's still around.
Sam finds, as he expected – or at least as he hoped – he would, a single rib under the microscope. He sends up a silent prayer that this really is the last of Tabitha's earthly remains, and that there's enough salt in the incinerator already, and then he drops it down the chute to join the rest of her.
There's an impossibly long second, and then the lights stop flickering.
"Peachy," Dean says.
Sam lets himself onto the platform for the third time that night and helps his brother up.
"Yeah. Thanks." Dean looks around at the mess on the platform – broken glass and spilled chemicals and scattered papers and rock salt – and grins. "I bet you the ice queen is gonna be pissed."
Sam shakes his head. "Let's get outta here, okay?"
Dean nods. "Yeah. Hey, Sammy? You gotta give Tabitha some credit."
"Yeah? For what?"
"Well, she might be a maladjusted, deranged, vengeful spirit, but she knew which one of us was the good-looking, popular one."
It's just a truck stop, but it's open 24 hours and the coffee is good, they do breakfast anytime, and Angela likes to stop in when she's driving north.
She's not exactly surprised to find that Dean and Sam have beaten her here, sitting opposite each other in a booth, with coffee and mostly empty plates.
"How'd it go?" she asks, sitting in the space Dean slides over to make for her.
"It went," he says.
"It's taken care of," Sam says, at the same time.
"So everything's okay?"
"Yeah. Well, things are kind of mess, which wasn't our fault," Dean says. "She kind threw a tantrum."
"Great. Brennan will be so thrilled. Anything else I should know?"
"Yeah. We kind of had to . . . um, render your colleague, Zach, unconscious and lock him in a supply closet."
"You knocked out Zach?" Angela says, and it's a real effort to keep her voice down.
"That was Sam," Dean says, immediately, and the glare he gets from across the table would be funny if Angela weren't worried about Zach.
"Is he okay?"
"He'll be fine," Sam says. "I'm sorry, Angela, but he was there and he tried to question us, and then he could have gotten hurt when she showed up and he really was safer unconscious in a supply closet ringed with salt."
"This will teach me to think my life cannot get any stranger," she says.
"Yeah, kind of never a good idea to think that." Dean pulls the ID badge from his pocket. "You want this back?"
Angela looks at him. "Are you nuts? Do I want the supposedly stolen ID badge that was used to commit a federal crime back? No, thanks."
"We'll get rid of it, then," Dean says.
"You should get out of here," she says. "Because you are not going to want to be anywhere near the shit that is going to hit the fan when someone finds a ransacked lab and a missing skeleton and Zach in a closet. And if he saw you, and he recognized you . . ." she waits until Sam nods, ". . . then I am going to have to hand you to them, because they're never going to believe I couldn't do a good sketch of guys I saw."
"You're that good?" Dean asks.
"I am. And I'll do what I can, but . . . honestly, your best bet is not stop driving till you hit Canada or something. Because Brennan is going to be livid, and Booth is not gonna be much happier."
"We appreciate anything you can do," Sam says, "but we're pretty used to getting out of town in a hurry."
"Yeah, I'll bet," Angela says. "I should get home, anyway. Tomorrow's gonna be a long day."
"We'll walk you to your car," Dean says, dropping a five on the table for the waitress.
She had parked next to the Impala, and when Dean looks from his car to hers, she laughs and says, "I kind of figured that one was yours."
"Your unexpected talents extend to car psychology?" he asks.
"Something like that."
"Wouldn't have figured you for a beige Nissan Altima," he says.
"Neither would I, before I bought it," she says. "Just tell me you kept the very distinctive car with the Midwest plates away from security cameras near the Jeffersonian."
Sam nods. "We did."
"Not exactly our first time out," Dean tells.
"No, I wouldn't guess it was." The headlights on her car blink as she unlocks the door with the remote in her hand. "Hey, Sam, Dean, thank you. I'm pretty sure you saved the life of at least one person I care about tonight."
"You're welcome," Sam says, and Dean nods, never sure how he's supposed to respond to this sort of thing.
It's nice to be thanked, sure, but it's also a little awkward.
It's less awkward a second later, when she steps forward and kisses him, only once, but slowly and very thoroughly. Because the way he's supposed to respond to this is pretty obvious.
He kisses her back.
"For luck," she says, finally, before she steps back. She waves once to Sam, then gets in her car and drives off.
"Another unexpected talent, huh?" Sam asks.
Dean shakes his head. "Nah. That one I figured she had."
Sam laughs and heads for the passenger side door. "Wake me up if you need me to drive."
"Like that'll happen," Dean says.
It does, though, just outside of Scranton, Pennsylvania.
Dean doesn't wake up until Sam pulls the Impala into the parking lot of a motel in New York and kills the engine.
Angela doesn't sleep much at all that night. She drives home, slips back into her apartment, makes coffee, and starts cleaning. Washes the dishes piled in the sink and then puts them in the dishwasher for good measure, dusts the living room, first shreds and then burns the plan she drew for Sam and Dean (and then shreds and burns the ten blank sheets below it on the sketch pad, just to be on the safe side).
She should vacuum, but her neighbors won't like it, not at 4:00 AM, so that will have to wait till tomorrow.
(She also cleans the bathroom. Because she might as well, as long as she's in cleaning mode.)
She catches about thirty minutes of sleep, somewhere between 5:00 and 6:00, then showers, eats breakfast, and sets out for the Jeffersonian. She stops on the way for the biggest cup of coffee Starbucks can sell her.
She gets to work a little earlier than she usually does, which is potentially suspicious, but she's worried about Zach, shut in a supply closet, and she figures her early arrival can be attributed to the kind of hours the team tends to keep when they have cases like this.
Well, all right, when they have cases that look like this one, because ghosts and mysterious hunters of ghosts are not exactly every day fare at the Jeffersonian.
She takes a deep breath, reminds herself one last time to react like she doesn't know what she's going to find when she gets inside, and heads for the security desk.
She dumps her bag out on the table there, all smiles and apologies and can't-imagine-where-my-ID-went as she rummages through everything in it. (And oh, she should have that out, she's not sure why she's carrying it around in the first place. Then again, it's a hell of a distraction from any wrong notes she might hit, so maybe it's just as well that she didn't).
She accepts the temporary badge they give her and heads for the lab.
Goodman and Brennan are not going to be well-pleased. There's definitely a skeleton missing, and while Angela wouldn't say it looks like a hurricane blew through she wouldn't rule out gale force winds. Seriously, what the hell does security do all night? Especially given that a skeleton was stolen from the lab not that long ago. So are they operating under the lightning never strikes twice approach?
Angela's pretty sure heads are going to roll over this. And probably should. Because while she's glad the lab was break-into-able last night, she doesn't want happening just whenever.
She should go get security now, immediately, and report this, start the process of emergency phone calls up the chain of command and investigations and questions, but she's more concerned with Zach. And when she hears the doorknob on the supply closet rattle, well, that seems like a good excuse to "investigate" before she reports anything, and let him out.
Then she'll worry about security and all the rest of it.
(The longer a head start she can give Sam and Dean, the better, after all.)
Zach Addy has not had a good night.
First there were puzzling skeletons. Then there was an invasion of the lab by fake FBI Agents pretending to be fake janitors. And then there was a dark cramped closet and a sore head and what seemed to be a lot of salt. And now there is a very bright light.
Well, no, there was a light that was, really, slightly less than the average lumens for the Jeffersonian medico-legal lab which meant that either all the lights are not yet on or there is little light coming through the skylights either because it was still late or early or overcast.
But after the night in the dark closet and the head injury, the light seems very bright by comparison. And there is a voice.
"Angela," he says, partly in greeting but mostly just identifying the source of the voice.
"Zach, sweetie, what happened? Are you all right?"
Angela reaches into the closet to help him up, and into a chair she pulls out from a nearby work station.
"I was working late," he says, "and Agent Hill and Agent Beard, who are not really FBI agents but since I don't know any other names for them I use these merely for clarification, not as an accurate reference to the identity of the men in—"
"Right, the guys from yesterday," says Angela.
Zach nods and wishes he hadn't. "They arrived, dressed as janitors, which I also do not believe is an accurate description of them, and I confronted them—"
"And Agent Beard apologized to me and then hit me in the face which I suspect was intended to render me unconscious and therefore unable to alert anyone to their presence in the lab. If that is the case, the effort was successful. I then surmise that they locked me in the supply closet, though I can only surmise, as I was unconscious at that point."
He pauses. This last detail bothers him because the rest of it he can put together logically, but there's no rational reason for . . . "They also seem to have filled the closet with salt."
Angela pats his hand. "Well, you're okay, Zach. That's the most important thing. I should go get security; will you be all right on your own for a minute? And do you want ice for your head?"
"I do not believe your leaving me alone will have any negative impact on my current condition," Zach says. "But . . . could I have the ice before you go?"
Angela smiles and nods. "Yeah. I'll be right back with that."
"Thank you." He hesitates, then adds, "Could I have a ginger ale, too?"
Temperance Brennan had been annoyed yesterday. It is safe to say that today she is (metaphorically speaking) borderline apoplectic.
And attempts, by Angela and Booth and Dr. Goodman and even Deputy Director Cullen, to calm her down, have been less than successful. If anything, they've made her less calm.
They've spent an hour meeting, she and Booth and their respective bosses. Goodman and Cullen have both been quick to assure her that, yes, everything is being done and that, no, there's no reason to expect a skeleton to get stolen every week, and that, really, they're sure Stanford has its own set of problems. It's a waste of time, in her opinion, and she's glad when they wrap up and she can get back to doing actual work.
"Seriously, Bones, you're going to rupture something," Booth says, following her out of the meeting and down the halls of the Jeffersonian. "You need to calm down."
"I will not calm down," says Brennan. She won't slow down, either, and people between her and her office had better just get out of the way. "It is highly improbable that mental agitation is going to lead to physically 'rupture' in any way, and this is not a situation that requires calm. Last night imposters, who everyone here and at the FBI knew about, walked into the lab, unchallenged and using a stolen ID badge which they apparently obtained by stalking my best friend. They then burned a skeleton in the incinerator, compromised evidence related to the deaths of five other people, engaged in acts of destruction of lab equipment, threw salt all over the place, and assaulted my assistant and locked him in a closet."
"I know, Bones."
Brennan pauses for a moment when she gets back to the lab.
The platform is crawling with FBI agents, again, and Jeffersonian security, photographing things and making notes and interviewing the members of Brennan's team. And while this is necessary, she knows, it feels like no less of a violation than what happened last night. This is her place, and she doesn't like having strangers in it, making demands and asking questions.
Brennan shakes her head and heads for her office, noticing that Booth waves one of the other agents away in a not now gesture when he tries to approach her.
There are reports starting to pile up on her desk, her message light is flashing on her phone, and a quick glance reveals that she has forty-seven new e-mails.
"We're going to get these guys, Bones," Booth says, quiet and certain, from the doorway.
"I have nothing to give that girl's parents," Brennan says.
They're supposed to find answers for people like Tabitha Loman's parents, not give them more questions.
"That's not really true, Bones. You can tell them what happened to their daughter, give them . . . not spending the next forty years wondering."
"That's not enough."
"No," Booth agrees. "But it's better than nothing."
Brennan picks up the report on the top of the pile. "I have work to do."
"Yeah, me, too."
Booth moves through the hallways of the Hoover Building the same way Bones moves through the Jeffersonian – quickly and with purpose, and like he has earned the right to belong there, and getting in his way is a bad idea.
The folder in his hand contains all the information from the Jeffersonian – crime scene photos and the clearest shots they could isolate from surveillance footage, Angela's sketches of the men, interviews with witnesses, statements, notes.
He doesn't like handing this case off – these bastards broke into the Jeffersonian and upset his partner and Booth takes both those things damn personally. "Which," Cullen told him, "is exactly why I'm not assigning you to this case. You're too close to it, Booth. Besides, I want you focused on the murders here; we still don't know who killed those people or how long we have till it happens again."
Which are fair arguments, Booth concedes, but they don't make him any happier with his boss's decision.
Under ordinary circumstances, he wouldn't enter another agent's office without at least knocking, and usually waiting for permission. But these aren't ordinary circumstances, and Booth doesn't even slow down as he turns from the hall into the office and crosses the four feet between the door and the desk.
He drops the folder onto the desk, disrupting the work his colleague is doing, who placidly picks it up, opens it, and flips through the first few pages before he looks at Booth.
"You better nail these sons of bitches, Hendrickson."
"Don't worry, Booth, I will."