She's been contemplating the dig for about a week. She knows she can't (won't) go, but the idea is painfully tempting, nonetheless. She won't go to sleep – she knows this, too. It's storming outside; she's always been irrationally anxious about them. It's strange. She's never had a reason to be afraid.

But the distant thunder echoes in her chest, her being, and makes her shudder. The rain caresses the windows of her apartment, unable to reach her and lamenting the fact. The wind cries of it. The panes are slick and pebbled with precipitation. Another night surrounded by loneliness seems to mark her destiny.

She doesn't know, yet. Doesn't know how his night has been crashed, while hers has been dwindling into lethargy. How he's been bombarded by metaphorical lightning bolts to conquer even the steady storm gathering outside her walls. How tonight will mark their history and future.

It had been a photograph. An odd catalyst, since he'd been going through book after book, page after page, of them for weeks with little success. It had been of her, of course. In her office, arms akimbo – probably berating him for sneaking in a snapshot during working hours. In the background of the photo, however, had been a small pink blur accompanying another assortment of baubles on her desk.

He'd recognized it. Almost immediately.

Jasper the Pig. A gift he'd given her, she'd told him. He knew that, and when she'd informed him of the sweet porker, he'd felt nothing at the time. But now... an almost nagging ache burrows deeply into his stomach. Invisible claws penetrating his heart.

"How do you slaughter a pig?"

The voice, her voice, arrives unbidden in his thoughts. He's on fire all at once, but he's trembling.

Just like a domino effect, it arrives, unfolds. Suddenly, he can't breathe.

"Vince McVicker, the pig farmer."

His own voice, now. Sarcastic, tense.

"Our plan, once we set up… most likely in Florida… was to bring you down." Another voice. He can't place it. But it deepens, almost to a growl. "Your father is a hard man, Joy."

Immediately, he sees her image. It floods his mind, but suddenly… it's not the visage of a stranger he's befriended. She's in tears, falling apart. In his arms. She's breaking as he fights to hold her together.

"My name is Brennan. I'm Dr. Temperance Brennan. I work at the Jeffersonian Institute. I'm a forensic anthropologist. I specialize in identif… in identifying… in identifying people when nobody knows who they are. My father was a science teacher, my mother was a bookkeeper. My brother… I have a brother. I'm Dr. Temperance Brennan."

He gasps, and it's a sob. Tears fill his eyes, but he can breathe.

The knock, desperate, on her door startles her. It's almost a full minute before she pulls out of her daze and looks away from the slab of wood to learn the time. It's well after midnight. She knows who it is well before she answers the door, but it never registers until she's pulling it back to find him standing there.

Her throat catches and her eyes widen a fraction at the sight of him. He's soaked to the bone, lips a dim shade of blue. He's shivering, teeth chattering. Dark hair sticking in damp spikes. She wants to beg him why he hadn't thought to drive, for goodness sake! But she recalls hazily that he's not supposed to be driving just yet. But that doesn't matter. There's something in his eyes.

Something burning, something alive, that keeps her rooted to the spot with her voice locked somewhere far away. Suddenly, she's aware of the reason for his visit. Her heart plummets, somersaults, flips. Her jaw falls slack. Her slender fingers dig into the wood of the door, leaving tiny crescents in the surface. She'll never have to fear the storm again.

He hadn't had time for a phone call. He'd needed her to hear in person. This thing he needs her to know.

He remembers his pounding footsteps, vaguely. The downpour beating against his face, the wind chilling him to the core as he'd raced for her doorstep. He remembers everything.

The way his lungs burned, his legs protested. Every muscle aching and on fire.

He can't say anything except what he's come here to say.


"I know who you are."