So this a different kind of story. Hope you like!
Limbo – by GoldenNinde
She picked that annoying Daisy Wick girl. Annoying, yes, but really, really smart. Wendell was going to be next, of course, and the kid who wouldn't stop talking to me about annoying, useless facts. British Nigel something. And I'd never get a chance to work with Dr Temperance Brennan because I was too stupid.
I was working silently on a project assigned by Dr Brennan herself. It was a complete body from LIMBO, and I'd been ecstatic the first time she told us we'd divide in pairs and examine and catalogue every single anomaly in a human skeleton. Not just one of those plastic models for class, but a real, as of yet unidentified person.
And now to learn she'd rotate a few interns to pick the most efficient… and I was too young to be picked. Just one year too young, but close enough to know I'd never make the cut.
I was good. I worked so hard and I was smart, dammit. But these guys… no, I wasn't smart enough. I had to work harder. Study more. I blew a stray lock of red hair away from my eyes. Note to self: Why doth self haveth a fringe when self wanteth to be an anthropologist? PS. Leaning over an exam table means self should buy a hair band pretty soon.
"Stop looking so angry at the poor dead corpse, Su." Ian said without taking his eyes off of the tibia. How did he know I was scowling, then?
Ian was one of my best friends, along with Wendell and Lena, who were both a year ahead of us. People tell me I'm very shy, quiet. I guess the bird-thin build and long locks that frame my face just add to that. But around Ian I can lose some reserve, and even tell him what I'm really thinking. He likes to joke, and I like making him laugh. He has this really nice laugh, so contagious.
"But Ian… the Wick girl?" I couldn't help slip out, my tone insecure and annoyed at the same time. I wasn't thinking about Ian's laugh right now. I was thinking about how unfair life was.
"She's the smart annoying one, right? Su, no matter how hard you try, you'll never be as annoying as she is." A grin crept up the corners of his mouth. I momentarily forgot my scathing reply. It had been a good one, too. Damn Ian and his charm-grin.
I sighed and looked away from my annoyingly attractive lab-partner, who nevertheless kept talking. Ian was tall and tan, more muscled than most of the other interns, which made looking away hard, but I managed it.
We had a very bright fluorescent light for our exam table, of course, but it felt like a spotlight amidst the low, mysterious glow the shelves all around us emitted.
"…just small green-stick fracture to the… you're not even listening to me, are you?"
The endless, dark corridors of LIMBO seemed to stretch on forever, high as sky, long as… um… something very long. A cave, almost, because you really couldn't see the end properly, a scary feeling for some of the twitchies (a clever nickname of Ian's device for interns who were more squeamish, and so 'twitched'), just a disquieting one to me.
"I think I'm in love with you. Wendell says I should tell you but I never seem to find the courage…"
The air in LIMBO was different, too. Not just because of the sterile environment, but because a kind of eerie feeling of unanswered questions, of sadness, of death…
"You're pretty and smart, even though you don't believe either."
It was almost sacred, all those lost souls, unknown identities waiting to be given their names…
"Your eyes become black when you look at the remains, and you look serious and calm, in your element. You should never doubt yourself, Su, because to me you are the best."
I snapped out of my reverie on the word 'best'. "What?"
"I've been talking to you for the past five minutes and you haven't heard a single word I've said, have you?" He was laughing, but it didn't quite reach his eyes. Ian's eyes are a light grey colour, not really blue but not green either. His hair is jet black and short.
call me that just not annoy me, right?"
"Of course. No one's used the word 'buddy' for real since the sixties, Ian." We exchanged a smile and bent back down to the remains.
We weren't alone in LIMBO, though, Ian and I (even though sometimes it felt that way). Every few metres, spaced evenly and around a basic exam table, more interns in pairs peered down at their own set of human remains. Not their own… I mean… I guess you get it. Our supervising professor kept walking up and down to check on our progress.
As I let my eyes sweep over the cranium once again, all thoughts, jokes, and humour vanished. The bones of the man we were examining were fifty to sixty years old, and he'd been in his late thirties at the time of death. Born around the twenties was our guess.
"See? Like now." He whispered, and I looked up, annoyed.
"Nothing, Su. Forget it."
I rolled my eyes and concentrated again.
If there was one thing I prided myself on, it was my ability to sort of… fade away when I was looking at a body. It's hard to explain: I wasn't me anymore, I wasn't Susan Greene looking at bones, I… didn't exist. I didn't matter. Only the person mattered, only their life, their story. I became a respectful observer, letting the secrets hidden after time resurface, because you can't change who you've been, it's always there.
This man had been shot, twice. One bullet had actually embedded in his femur, the other had grazed a rib. Neither had been fatal, although that was a miracle. Cause of death was a tough one, and we hadn't been able to find it yet. His youth but frail build suggested disease (one not harmful to the bone structure) and yet…
"Su. Su, look."
I looked up. Ian and I had been given the examination table closest to the exit. Which meant we saw them coming before anyone else.
Dr Temperance Brennan and her partner, FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth. I had no idea why they'd come down in the middle of a practical, or why they'd need to consult something in LIMBO, but that didn't matter. They were… royalty. No, better than that: smart royalty. Like… rational, tough, driven, intelligent, cool, scientific, superstars. Their crime solving rate was unmatched. Their team was the most efficient. Their relationship sprouted more gossip around the Jeffersonian than the rumours about a serial killer working in the Palaeontology department (although I admit they're pretty improbable).
She looked like a model, he looked like a Greek god. It was difficult not to have a crush on Agent Booth, and I was doing my best. The only feelings someone but Dr Brennan could have for him were, sadly, totally platonic.
"Dr Brennan." Dr Jones, our supervising professor walked up to her and shook her hand. "Agent Booth, what can I do for you? We're in the middle of a practical…"
"Yes, I recall asking for this very class myself. Unfortunately I couldn't attend, I'm working on a case right now."
Ian turned to exchange a glance with me, raised eyebrows asking "What could it be?"
I tried to hide the fact that I was listening to their conversation, but didn't quite succeed.
"We need to look through the…" Agent Booth turned to her for confirmation. "… Pending Confirmed ID, stack?"
The PCID, Pending Confirmed ID, was the stack of shelves where the remains only awaited a DNA test, or some other final process to confirm the identity of the person they'd once been. It was called Shelf 99 by most of the interns, because it was the place where the doctor kept the sets he was ninety-nine percent sure were who he thought they were.
"Exactly." She gave him a small smile and turned back to Dr Jones. "I recall a particular set of remains I examined myself, which might be connected to the current investigation Agent Booth and I are conducting."
"Well, you know where it is." Jones said with a tentative laugh.
"I hope we don't disturb your students." Agent Booth said, his eyes roaming over us. For one moment they connected with mine and, despite the nervous fear which wanted me to look away, I didn't (he gave you the feeling that, whenever he wanted, he could know everything about you).
"They are used to interruptions, Booth." Dr Brennan said softly, but I heard her. "I'm not the only person in the Jeffersonian who comes to LIMBO, this place is a very important part of our work." He just nodded, gave me a small smile (I blushed crimson and looked down this time), and followed her to the stack they needed.
Ian turned back to look at me and motioned me close. I leaned toward him until our faces were inches apart, to hear his low whispers.
"…you believe how lucky we are? In the middle of a case, Su!"
"I know." I mouthed back.
We could hear every whisper from our position, because Shelf 99 was right on the next isle.
"Bones, I trust you, but are you positive about this one? I mean, stabbing is so common and the other victims are more recent…"
"This is a very unusual pattern of cuts, Booth. Most of them to non-lethal areas. It sounds like that 'signature' you like to speak of, doesn't it?"
"Okay, okay. Do your thing."
There was silence for a minute with shuffling and noises I could associate to moving crates around. And then a small, startled squeak.
"Booth, what are you doing?"
Ian immediately turned to me and tried to catch my eye, but I ignored him, feeling like a horrible, terrible person, who had no right to… Wait, he was talking.
Bones, your hair tangled with your earring."
"Oh. Thank you."
I couldn't believe it. We were witnessing a moment.
"Do you want me to move over? This space is cramped…"
"The number of unidentified human remains is too high, Booth, storage space is difficult to find, especially in good conditions…"
"Okay, just let me- crap."
There was a bang, and… could it possibly be…? Dr Brennan giggled.
"Relax, Booth. I realise it makes men uncomfortable to share confined spaces with-"
"Don't go there." But there was humour in his tone. "And you're uncomfortable too."
"I am most certainly not, your body is as familiar to me as my own."
A strained, long silence followed her words. I realised my mouth was gaping open and shut it quickly.
"Eh, Bones, I…" wow, give Agent Booth a prize for trying to lighten the situation with what he said next. "Does the fact that you saw me naked once mean you have photographic memory?" His voice caught at the word 'naked', and sounded about a couple of octaves higher on 'memory'. I raised an eyebrow at Ian.
"I meant that we've worked together for so long, Booth… I know you. I know how you are."
know how I am?"
"Yes. If I closed my eyes, I could describe every inch of you."
I flushed crimson, trying not to imagine the look on Dr Brennan's face when she said that, or what poor Agent Booth had to be feeling. Trying doesn't always mean achieving, apparently.
"Ask me anything."
"Open your eyes, Bones. We should get out of here."
But he didn't sound uncomfortable. Wow, don't open your eyes, Dr B. How will you stop yourself from babbling like an incomprehensible-
"I haven't found the set of remains I want, yet."
Apparently not every woman shares my crippling shyness when it comes to attractive men (with the exception of Ian, of course).
There was companionable silence as they kept searching.
"Remember, a young male in his mid to late twenties." She whispered.
"Yeah, I know."
A couple of minutes later, Agent Booth asked. "Could this guy be him?"
"Let me see."
More shuffling sounds and a sigh. "No, Booth. Cause of death was blunt trauma to the head."
"I can't believe I forgot his name." She blurted out suddenly, as though she'd been dying to share the information with him. "It's very unlike me to not retain important information like that. It would be easier if I knew who he was. I don't… I don't understand how I forgot who he was." There as an edge to her voice, a sort of insecure hesitance I'd never thought I'd hear in a woman as strong as her.
"Bones, we'll find him okay? Relax. It's normal that you forgot."
"No it's not. Not for me. I'm… I feel so… frustrated."
I felt very uncomfortable listening to this. It was personal. Dr Brennan had a right to her privacy, and I had none to violate it.
"Bones you work too much, okay? I've told you a million times to live a little, to slow down."
"You know I can't do that. Not more than I've already done." There was a warning in her tone which he ignored.
"Then this isn't slow enough."
"Not slow enough." She laughed without humour. "Right."
"Even for you, to forget one name in thousands is normal, just calm down…"
"It's your fault." She cut him suddenly, with razor-sharp steel in her voice.
"What do you mean, Temperance?"
"It's your fault I forgot. You make me… you distract me sometimes."
"Distract?" she'd hurt him. "Look, I'm sorry Bones but I thought you wanted to work cases with me. We talked about this before…"
do. It's your presence… The way you talk. Sometimes, even the
things you say."
"I don't understand." And it was killing him.
"Booth, you make my thoughts veer in your direction even when you're not there!"
I looked at the skeleton of the John Doe and wished terribly that I couldn't hear what they were saying.
Ian seemed to be doing the same.
"You want more space?"
More space? This was one of the top Special Agents the FBI had?
"More space?" She snorted.
"Then what, Bones? What do you want? I can't figure out what you want! You're so difficult sometimes I swear…"
"I'm difficult! You…! Yes, of course, under your mask of openness and friendliness that's what it seems, isn't it? That I'm the one who's more reserved. You are the difficult one, you're the one who… you're the one…" But she lost steam and sighed. "Oh forget it. Let's find the John Doe before it's too late." Her tone was dismissive now, annoyed, and the shuffling of crates started again.
And then stopped.
"Let go of me."
Her voice was ice. I froze in place.
"No. I'm not going anywhere."
"I didn't ask you to leave."
"But I could make you if I wanted to." She was actually threatening a taller, stronger man. Well, not just a man, she was threatening Agent Booth. Somehow, though, I knew the threat wasn't empty. She really could do it.
"We can talk later. The case is more important now than anything…"
"No. Come on, Bones, explain to me what just happened."
"No, not later. Now. I want to know now."
"I'm not letting go of you until you tell me."
that a threat?"
"It might be."
I held my breath, feeling the crackling, fizzing tension in the air.
"You're the one who's good with hearts, Booth, figure it out yourself."
Now she sounded a little more like the teacher I knew and respected. But the tone felt wrong, used on Agent Booth like that. I'd always seen them as a unit, a team, partners for ever, that sort of thing.
"But I don't understand, why does this have to do with your heart?"
"Because it's no longer mine, you metaphorically stole it!"
She only whispered it, but it was intense enough for me to hear.
And so that was how it happened. She'd said it. After so long she'd said it! And in one of the best declarations of love I'd ever heard, too: "…you metaphorically stole it!". Wow. Just wow.
It was so Dr B.
Ian's giant eyes were wide with shock, but also alight with happiness. Please, Agent Booth, I prayed, please don't ruin this, come on, you can do it, Dr Brennan deserves the very best and you are the only one I'd trust with her, the woman who makes this place work like it does, even though I'm almost sure she doesn't know my name.
And suddenly, unmistakeably, he kissed her. Like, three steps away from us, he kissed her. I was practically shaking with laughter. It had happened! And I'd been there! Here! Yes!
"Yes!" I mouthed, punching my fist in the air.
Ian smiled at me and his eyes did that thing where they were happy and light but also dark and kind of solemn, when he looked at me and I sort of forgot everything else. But I'd have time to count every colour in his eyes, later. Now wasn't my moment.
It was theirs.
Two minutes later they emerged with the correct set of remains and identical smiles. It wasn't a make-out session, it was just a short, sweet kiss. But it meant everything, you could see that easily. I felt giddy, not an adjective I could usually boast, even though I hadn't really known I cared so much about them until now. Dr Brennan was on top of a pedestal for me, so high I could only squint against the sunlight up at her.
Before leaving, though, she walked to me and Ian, her eyes glowing beautiful blue, Agent Booth trailing behind her.
Words died in my throat. Eloquence vanished. I was glued in my spot for about two seconds. She knew my name. She knew my name and I wasn't even on my last year. She knew my name!
And then I found my voice.
"Yes, Dr Brennan?"
"It might interest you to know that I was the one who found this man, three years ago."
"Really? And you remember?" The breathless admiration was plain in my voice. Ian, who'd walked to stand next to me, just gaped.
"I always do." She gave me a kind smile, and the blue in her eyes matched the one from her lab coat then. "He wore a necklace." And she walked over to thank Dr Jones, Agent Booth waited for her by the door.
A necklace? Yes, we'd known he wore a golden chain, unusual for a soldier in his time, but not unheard of. Why was she reminding me? Ian whispered in my ear, so closer his hot breath tickled my neck. "What do you see?"
I looked at our John Doe's neck more closely, and lost myself again in concentration.
A necklace, she'd said. And then I saw it: the slightest, almost indiscernible hairline fracture in the hyoid. Strangulation usually meant the hyoid bone cracked, but not always. Especially… especially if it was the lack of oxygen… if it was asphyxia which killed him, and not the actual choke!
"I got it!" I shouted out. Every person in the chamber turned to look at me; look at shy, quiet Su who never asked questions.
But I didn't care: he was suffocated, our brave soldier.
"Dr Brennan." I hurried over to her. "Dr Brennan, he died of asphyxia."
She nodded, smiling. "Very good, Miss Greene."
"Thank you. But without your…"
"It was difficult to find. A student of your year would never have seen the fracture unless someone pointed it out, and I didn't even indicate where it was. Just an unspecific area."
I smiled again, feeling happy, feeling floating. Giddy, again.
I walked back to Ian, who held out his hand for a high-five. I did.
So Dr Brennan had chosen Daisy Wick. So what? I still had a lot to learn. A year's worth until I could be chosen. And I would be. I'd work as hard as I could and I'd make it. I could do this. She'd shown me as much, right?
She was leaving now, all grace and fluidity. When she reached Agent Booth, who'd been leaning against the doorframe, she didn't stop, just slowed enough to take his hand and swept him along with her. The smile they exchanged then was of ease, of confidence, and totally private. I looked away, grinning.
I turned to Ian feeling hope. Pride. Determination. A combination of the three. I was ready to begin. Ready to be a forensic anthropologist. Ready to kick. Some. Ass.
"Okay, who else am I identifying?"
"Su, we don't even know who this guy is yet. All we know is cause of death."
Yes, well, it was a start.
So what did you think? I actually have an idea about this character and a possible story, but I'm not sure about pursuing it. For one thing, people who read "Unintended" would kindly like me to finish that first, and also, I don't know if people want to read Bones-verse fanfiction where Booth and Bones aren't the main characters.
Mainly reviews, though?