"This place is incredible!" Abby gushed as they walked into the Jeffersonian's lab.

"Very big," Ziva agreed.

"Best lab in the States," Ducky stated.

"Very…techy," Tony agreed.

McGee just looked around with big eyes. He looked nervous.

"Probie!" Tony said. "Something bothering you?"

"N-no, just…" McGee didn't know what to say in front of Abby.

"He's just psyched to see his favorite sexy-scientist-author," Tony waggled his eyebrows at Abby who smacked McGee on the back of the head.

"Keep the fire in the fireplace and your eyes in your head!" Abby said.

Gibbs walked past them. "Well come on." The four followed him up to the forensics platform where the other team was crowding around the decaying body.

As they walked up the steps, alarms started blaring. Hodgins came up from behind them and swiped a card through the railing and the alarms stopped.

"Whoa," Tony said, "they have security for dead people."

"We can't let just anyone have access to the remains," Brennan said. She was now wearing a blue Medi-Co lab coat and rubber gloves. "Dr. Mallard and Ms. Sciuto, you can join us here."

She looked at Gibbs slyly. "You hear that, Gibbs? She called me Ms. Sciuto," Abby said gleefully.

Gibbs's lips twitched and Abby grinned and walked towards the body. "So what'cha want me to do?" Abby asked.

"For now, you can observe," Cam said. "Dr. Saroyan," she introduced herself.

"I'm Abby. Although, I'm kind of liking this 'Miss Sciuto' thing" Abby replied.

Cam opened her mouth, but seemed to not know how to reply for a moment. "Well…nice to meet you," Cam smiled, a little unsure what to make of the forensic scientist's odd getup.

Just then, Booth and Brennan walked up towards the platform, arguing about something.

"…I'm just saying, you have all that money and your apartment isn't that big…" Booth was saying.

"No, Booth! I don't need a new place to live. My current residence is fine, thank you," Brennan countered.

Their arguing halted when thy saw the NCIS agents in the room. "What are they doing up here? This is not an open examination!" Brennan exclaimed.

"Bones, we have to cooperate with them, until we ID the victim. I told you this yesterday," Booth said, somewhat resentfully.

"But I thought you said no one took them seriously. Would you actually give the case to them if it turns out it is their jurisdiction?" Brennan said bluntly, not particularly caring that NCIS was in hearing distance.

"Bones! Do you have to —" Booth said, exasperated. He looked at Gibbs, illogically hoping that he hadn't heard.

Gibbs was looking at him with eyebrows raised. "You got a problem with us?" he asked in an eerily cool voice.

Booth wasn't deterred by the agent's attempts to intimidate him. "I don't know you. Just heard talk," he said with equal dominance.

Just like dogs fighting for dominance, Brennan thought. Typical alpha-male behavior. However, she was confident that Booth could win, anyway.

She methodically pulled on gloves and began to study the body on the illuminated table. There were sill scraps of clothing that hadn't decomposed yet. She worked slowly, taking notes in her mind. She bore all the signs of a hardworking woman.

When Brennan came across the ribs and sternum, she moved the magnifier and brought it up to the monitor. "See these grooves?" she asked her current grad student of the week, Mr. Nigel-Murray.

He moved closer to look for himself. "They look like repeated stabs to the chest. Some of the marks are smooth, and others serrated. So…two different weapons were used?" Vincent said, seeking approval from his teacher.

"The marks seem to be equidistant in width and shape is similar, indicating one weapon that's blade was both smooth and serrated," Brennan said.

"That sounds like a military knife," Ziva jumped in.

Brennan shot a look at her, then continued on. "The wounds were severe enough that she could have bled to death. I can't say conclusively until the bones are cleaned," Brennan concluded and pulled off her gloves with a snap.

"Mr. Nigel-Murray will get on that as soon as Hodgins and I get at the clothing and tissue," Cam said, her voice implying compromise. She peeled a shredded shirt sleeve off and placed it on a tray that Hodgins was holding.

Just then, Angela walked onto the platform, swiping her card as she did so. She did a quick one-over of the visitors. "These the Navy people?" she asked, sounding unimpressed. She and Ziva seemed to be sizing each other up.

"Yes," Brennan said, oblivious to the tension. "Can you take the skull for a sketch?" she asked.

"Sure thing sweetie," Angela said. "Hey, are you gonna buy that condo in the building uptown? I saw pictures. The place is fantastic."

"Not you too!" Brennan groaned. "I do not need a new place to live!" she stressed.

"Alright, Bren. Whatever you say," Angela grinned and accepted the skull Brennan handed to her.

"What's this?" Cam said, peeling off a discolored square of some textile-looking material. She held it up with a pair of tweezers and examined it against the light.

Hodgins took it from her and turned it over. "Judging by the location and faded pink-ish color, I'd say it's a contraceptive patch," Hodgins said as he placed it in a sample dish.

"Did you know that the first known contraceptive was crocodile dung, used by Egyptians in 2000 B.C.?" Nigel-Murray cut in. Cam gave him the usual annoyed look. "Totally relevant," he defended himself.

"Relevant, yes, but helpful, no. There is no way that this woman is two thousand years old, so it is of no use in this lab," Brennan said plainly and unsympathetic.

Mr. Nigel-Murray closed his mouth and returned to examining the skeleton, feeling rebuked.

"I can run the patch though mass-spec to identify the brand," Abby offered.

Hodgins scoffed. "We are more than capable of running those tests here. We aren't just going to give you vital evidence and hope you bring it back or deliver honest results." His voice was accusing and resentful. The NCIS agents looked shocked by his outburst.

"That was a bit rude," Ziva said.

"Yea," Abby said. "I was trying to help," she was not feeling very welcomed at this lab.

"Well we neither need nor want your help," Hodgins retorted, with the same resentful tone.

"Wow. This is worse than dealing with Agent Sacks," Abby said.

Tony looked up from his phone, on which he was idly playing games on. "The agent who tried to put me away for a murder I was framed for? I hate that guy," Tony said, his voice faraway, like he was recalling some memory.

Dr. Brennan cut in from where she was bent over the skeleton, not even looking at them. "This conversation is not only irrelevant, but it is distracting. You are of no use at this time, so I would appreciate it if you could all leave this area." Her voice was cold and candid, as always.

Tony chuckled. "Same old Temperance," he said with the cocky smirk of the high school jock he once was, the only Tony that Brennan could remember. At the thoughts of those dreadful months, she stood up straight swiftly.

Her eyes were icy and intense, just like her tone. "You know nothing about me." She pulled her gloves off with a snap and stormed off of the platform.

Angela looked after her concernedly. "Brennan!" she called out. When she didn't turn around, Angela turned towards Tony. "You bastard," she said forcefully. She turned on her heel and jogged off of the platform, skull in hand. "Brennan, wait!" she called as she followed Tempe into her office.

Tony wasn't quite prepared for those reactions. "Wow," he mused, "Touchy."

Booth was on the offensive immediately. "Listen, she is the best at what she does, and she has been through more crap in her life than you can even imagine." Booth knew that Brennan had a rough high school experience, and this guy had 'jock-ass' written all over his smug smile. "It starts with holding a skull in her hands and five minutes later finding out it belonged to her missing mother, and it is an ongoing hell even now. So don't think for one second that you have some power or superiority over her." He turned and walked away, heading towards Brennan's office.

Cam was not as direct or harsh as Booth, but just as adamant. "It would be better if you leave, and you will be notified as soon as we have the ID. Security will escort you out."

Three big men approached them solemnly, and herded them out of the lab.

"Well done, Tony," Ziva muttered.


Booth rapped his knuckle on the door of Brennan's office. He saw her and Angela sitting side by side on her couch. They paused in conversation and looked up when they heard Booth. "You ok?" he asked.

"I'm fine," Brennan replied quietly. She didn't look ok.

Angela glanced between Brennan's lonesome expression and Booth's concerned one. "I'll start on the facial reconstruction," she said, then left the room, giving the two time to talk. Booth nodded at her as she left.

Brennan shuffled some papers in her lap, but it was just a pretense. Booth sat down next to her and said gently, "You wanna talk about it?" Brennan knew he wouldn't push. He never did.

"I don't know what to say," she told him honestly. Letting someone see her not in complete control was a privilege she gave only him. "He was one of those rich kids with a loving family who was selfish and full of himself. He was a player and a popular guy, and when I got stuck with him and his family…I guess he felt threatened. I usually just kept to myself; at school and in the room they gave me. But he would throw parties when his parents were gone, and there were people banging on my door, just for the sake of tormenting me. Other than that it was just another foster home. Well, one of the better ones, anyway. School was always hell— I didn't have Russ to look out for me— but at the house it was kind of nice. He always assumed that I was just some quiet girl who didn't care about anything other than school, and therefore I needed to be 'shown the way' or something. He didn't know anything about me. He never tried to talk to me unless he was teasing me. His jock friends were even worse." Brennan shut her mouth and swallowed. No, she told herself, if I can trust anyone, it's Booth.

Booth just sat and listened, which was a comfort in itself. "I know who you are. And it's a loss that he doesn't, because you are a good person, and he's one of those guys who think they don't need any real information to know a person. He was wrong. Besides, as soon as we ID the body, one of us will get the case and then we'll be done with them."

Brennan nodded. "You're right. In the meantime, we have work to do." She stood up and walked out, pausing in the doorway. "And Booth?" she turned around and looked at him. "Thanks."

He gave her a million watt smile in return, and nodded. They were definitely partners, through and through.

A/N: Soooooooo it's been what? 7 months? My bad. So I have another chapter and such. Enjoy it. Review it. Stuff. Who knows when I'll put up another chapter. But whatever. Keep it on alert. Tell me how I'm doing.

There shall be more stuff about the case in the next chapter, plus you shall see where the jurisdiction lies…

Until next time (which will hopefully be sooner than in 7 months)

Your's truly,