When Brennan arrived at the Jeffersonian, she found the body already stripped of its skin and its bones cleaned. She blinked, unaware that she gave any such direction. Booth had just told her that the body was ready to be de-fleshed. Who else could have--

"Ah, Dr. Brennan. I've stripped the body for you, after Dr. Saroyan declared her work finished." Brennan turned her head to see Vincent Nigel-Murray, who had just approached, his hands clasped behind his back. "I gave no such instruction, Mr. Nigel-Murray," stated Brennan, her eyes already roaming the bones displayed on the table before her. "However, thank you for taking the initiative," she added, not looking up. The lab assistant's lip twitched in a small smile, but he said nothing. Instead, he waited for Dr. Brennan to begin her analysis of the skeleton.

"There are burn marks to the metacarpal bone, sternum, femur, and upper right humerus, as I had noticed when the body was found. There are some markings on the tibia," she added, pulling around the magnifying glass to the specified area. Brennan stepped away from the body and pointed towards the screen so that Vincent could see. "Try and see if you can find a weapon - start with knives. Possibly a stab wound." Vincent nodded, and moved around to the base of the skeleton, pointing to the feet. "There's an entry wound on the underside of the lateral cuneiform, quite a small one at that." Brennan gestured for him to move the magnifying glass around to the foot, and he did so quickly. Temperance tilted her head, her bright blue eyes staring curiously at the screen. "Did you know," began Vincent, looking up at the screen as well, "that in Ancient Rome, they interrogated people by dipping their feet in a salty solution and then allowing a goat to lick the solution off, and that by the end of the interrogation, it would create a painful sensation?" Brennan turned her head to look at the man, her mouth slightly agape. "No, Mr. Nigel-Murray. Please focus on the bones and not on irrelevant facts."

Vincent closed his mouth, nodding, and looked back down at the bones. Though, he was temporarily saved when Angela approached the two of them. "Okay, so Cam found a piece of paper in the victim's clothing, but it was too damaged to really see anything. I just ran it through reconstruction, and I've got a name and a number. 'Michael' is the name - I was only able to get a first name; the last name was too smeared - and the number is '308'. I'm not sure what it means, but that's all I have right now." She paused, looking at Brennan and then at the skeleton. "I'm glad all that flesh is gone… gave me the creeps."

Brennan's eyes darted towards her best friend. "Thank you, Angela. Did Cam say if the tox-screen was done yet?" Her friend shrugged, shaking her head. "No, I haven't talked to her. Hodgins may know, though, if he's done with his bugs and dirt." Brennan sighed, moving back to the skeleton. She tilted her head, her eyes scanning over the bones once more. They narrowed as they fell on the skull. Brennan moved around to get a better look, maneuvering the magnifying glass above the bone. "There's a hairline fracture across the temporal bone," she observed, squinting her eyes. Vincent moved around to look at the wound, his mind buzzing as to what could have caused it. Angela peered over at Brennan, but said nothing. She dealt with faces, not bones. Vincent spoke up, tilting his head slightly. "I also noticed scraping along the metacarpals and metatarsals," he said, pointing to the finger and toe bones of the skeleton. "The pattern is irregular, no uniform spacing between the edges." Brennan's eyes darted to the bones, her head tilting once more. "Try and find what could have caused those markings," she replied to him, her bright blue eyes narrowing at the scrapings.

She picked up the skull and turned it in her hands, peering at the bone carefully. "There is a small indention on the occipital bone," she observed, "as well as chipping along the mandible. Angela, I need a facial reconstruction please." Angela stepped forward and held out her hands, her chocolate brown eyes already searching the face of the skull as Brennan handed it over to her. She nodded and turned to leave, then stopped. "Oh, sweetie? Someone called for you before you got here."

Brennan looked up, her eyebrows furrowing. "Who?"

"He didn't leave a name, strangely, but he said it was urgent. Sounded really weird, too. But I just wanted to let you know, in case he calls again." Angela made a face, shrugged, and left.

Brennan frowned, wondering why someone would call for her and then not leave a name or number for her. Very weird, indeed.

"Bones!" Brennan looked to the right of where Angela had just been to see Booth bounding towards the small room, clad in his usual FBI uniform. "I just sent Angela to do a facial reconstruction--"

"Yeah, never mind that now, Bones. Right now we have a crisis." He looked past Bones, toward Vincent, and shooed him away. He nodded and left quickly.

"What is it?" asked Brennan, her brows furrowing.

"Just come with me, I'll explain on the way."

Brennan frowned, but followed Booth out of the Jeffersonian and to his car. He slid into the driver's seat while she slid into the passenger side, her right hand automatically reaching up to grab the seatbelt. "What is it, Booth?" she asked again, her annoyance starting to show. Brennan did not like being kept in the dark. Booth didn't answer, though, until they had left the parking lot and were on the main road. "We found the guy that called your office, the guy that Angela talked to but didn't get a name from."

The frown deepened, but this time due to irritation. "You call this a crisis?" she replied, shaking her head. "Booth, I should be working on the case, not going with you to find some man that I don't even know!" She looked over at him, her face clearly showing her annoyance. Booth shook his head. "You don't understand, Bones, this is serious. He's at your house now."

Temperance blinked, but her frown stayed in place. This was just perfect. "So what," she said, flicking her hand upward, "is that where we're going? To arrest him or something?" Booth nodded. "Yeah, at least for breaking-and-entering. You did lock your doors and windows, right?" She nodded, resting her forehead on the palm of her hand. "Right," continued Booth, turning left at the light, "so now we can arrest him and find out what the hell he wants."

A little while later, the two arrived at Brennan's house to find the door ajar and the lights off. Booth immediately pulled out his gun, signaling to Temperance to remain at the door and to stay quiet. He nudged the door open more with his foot, keeping the gun close to him. If Brennan hadn't been full of adrenaline, she probably would have been wondering how Booth had found out who the man was when he didn't leave his name or number, and probably didn't stay on the phone long enough to even begin a trace. She might have been wondering how Booth knew the man was at her house. But the scientist knew that she could trust Booth and his methods of obtaining information. Past experience granted her that, at the very least.

Booth disappeared from Brennan's vision as he ventured into the dark house, leaving her to wait at the door. She clenched her jaw, wondering what could be taking so long, before finally ignoring Booth's instructions and entering her house. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the darkness, and she briefly debated with herself about turning the lights on when suddenly they turned themselves on. Not a split second later, she found herself surrounded by people, all of them shouting, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY!"

Brennan jumped, her hand darting up to her chest. What the hell? Booth approached her, grinning ear to ear. "Hey, happy birthday, Bones!" She frowned, not understanding. "But… what about the man?" Booth shook his head, laughing. "That was me, calling Angela and telling her to tell you what she did. You should thank her for telling everyone that it was your birthday." Brennan blinked, then understood. It was a surprise party. Of course. The story of the man was all a ruse, done in order to get her to leave the victim and go to her house. She allowed herself a small smile as she looked at all who had shown up. Angela, Hodgins, Booth, Cam, Mr. Nigel-Murray, and several other Jeffersonian employees and fellow scientists - all of them smiling and laughing. Booth wrapped his left hand around Brennan's waist and led her to the kitchen, where it was much quieter. He pointed to the kitchen table, which was covered in presents.

Temperance smiled more, her hand covering her mouth. "Really," she said quietly to Booth, looking up at him, "you didn't have to do this. I didn't want any presents or a party."

Booth shook his head. "Bones, you didn't tell anyone it was your birthday. If you did, and if Angela hadn't told us earlier, we would be doing something very differently. But, since you were being you and only thinking of the case, here we are." He winked, reaching out to grab a small box atop the huge pile of presents. He handed it to her, his eyes sparkling. "So I say again, happy birthday Temperance." He held her gaze for a moment longer before gesturing for her to open the small box. Brennan sighed, smiling, and pulled off the wrapping paper. She opened the box and gasped. It was a beautiful necklace, the chain sterling silver and the ornament a small silver rose with a single garnet in the center. She was silent as Booth took the necklace in his hands and fastened it around her neck. Tears formed at the corner of Brennan's eyes as she spoke quietly, a simple "Thank you" escaping her lips.

Booth grinned, his eyes still sparkling as he looked at her. The two stood there, smiling as they looked into each other's eyes. They leaned in closer, caught in the moment, only to be interrupted by Cam, Angela, and Hodgins walking into the kitchen. Booth and Brennan backed away, looking at the trio. They stopped, each of their faces wide with surprise. "Uuuuhhh… we'll just, um, we'll just--" began Hodgins, but Angela rolled her eyes and pushed him out of the kitchen. She smiled at Booth and Brennan, and pulled Cam out with her. They were alone once more, but the moment was gone. Booth smiled again as he took Brennan's hand and pulled her out of the kitchen and back to the crowd, where everyone joined in wishing her another happy birthday.

Outside, a hooded figure peered in the window, watching everyone interact. The figure focused in on Brennan as she blew out the candles on the cake. They stayed there for a moment before disappearing into the darkness, unseen by the happy and carefree people inside.

Author's note: I don't know when Brennan's birthday is, so I just picked January because garnet is my favorite gemstone. And sorry for the wait... my muse went on vacation. R&R!