IT'S A TREAT TO BEAT YOUR FEET IN THE MISSISSIPPI MUD
A/N: Well, here goes, my first foray into fan fic. I'm nervously testing the waters … have you heard of that 80's Australian band "Not Drowning, Waving"? That's me – I hope! A nasty new case for Team Jeffersonian, mostly looking at B/B's relationship, sometimes from the perspective of the other team members, more often from their own, not much fluff for now, a soupcon of angst, a heavy handed dash of UST and hoping it all comes together. A warning for those factophiles out there: I may have been a tad cavalier with some actual real world facts. Sorry.
Disclaimer: The only thing I own is my soul, and I even lend that out on occasion, but only if you ask nice. Anything that even looks familiar in this story probably belongs to someone else (except the actual story - that's all mine, Mine, MINE [insert maniacal laughter here]!)
Chapter One: Feet/Beat
Booth and Brennan. Brennan and Booth. Brennan. Booth. Brennan and Booth.
Cam Saroyan stepped back from the downdraft table where she had been meticulously debriding burnt epidermis to expose crimson subcutaneous tissue. She narrowed her eyes and peered at what the blade had revealed; a small area of clotting, and a tiny skerrick of what appeared at first glance to be a metal shaving. She carefully lifted the shaving away and placed it in a petri dish, ready for Hodgins, and put it with the other particulate matter she had gathered. In the background the music she'd had playing low on the portable stereo kept up its syncopated beat, a necessary distraction for her while she performed the autopsy of a nine year old girl in the stony quiet of the Jeffersonian mortuary suite. She hunched her shoulders a little, trying to shift some of the tension coursing across her back. Her head ached. She looked back at the small body on the table and sighed – there was a way to go yet. The soft music registered again somewhere in her anguished brain and she let the beat take over and soothe her.
Booth and Brennan. Brennan and Booth. Brennan. Booth. Brennan and Booth.
With sudden awareness she registered what she'd unconsciously been substituting as lyrics to the sensuous beat, and her hands stilled. She closed her eyes for a moment in frustration, but managed a wry smile at herself. Damn the man, she could still remember the taste of him, but that train had left the station a long time ago. Damn it all to hell, when would those two shake the scales off their eyes and get real, get together and let her be able to move on?
"Shit." The single word echoed around the almost empty suite. The music had lost its comfort value and instead become a source of irritation. She placed the scalpel on the tray and moved across the room the punch the power off with her elbow. Silence ruled until she picked up her scalpel again and began to murmur into the overhead mike, recording her findings. Apart from the occasional shriek of the Stryker saw and the clatter of the instrument tray, her smooth voice was the overriding sound.
A couple of hours later she heard the distant footsteps of someone entering the lab. Within seconds two feet became four, then six and Cam recognised the sardonic tones of her resident artist and the answering teasing tenor of Jack Hodgins. She couldn't hear the words, but she didn't really have to. It was almost certainly about sex. She paused in her work for a moment, and could have scripted the next voice she heard: Zack's questioning accents. Apparently he didn't understand what they were talking about. No surprises there.
Her three colleagues entered the mortuary suite as Cam was covering the small form, all of them now silent as they came face to face with the subject of her minstrations. Cam peeled off her gloves and managed a small smile in their general direction, but she couldn't manage direct eye contact and resisted their sympathetic gazes.
"Finished. Jack, I've put some particulate for you to get started on over there. There's an odd metal artefact that I'd like you to look at first – it's got me stumped. Have you unpacked the samples you collected from the site?" Jack held up his case, and turned towards his office, gathering up the dishes from the side bench as he went. He caught her eye on the way past and gave her a tiny wink. She felt his warmth and was comforted. Angela followed Jack's exit with her eyes, her face screwed up in concern which she now directed at Cam. Wordlessly, she touched Cam's shoulder. She wanted to give her a hug, but knew she couldn't go there. Cam spoke again,
"Where are Dr Brennan and Agent Booth?" Cam didn't let her voice be anything other than calm and measured. Zack answered, "They're still at the scene. Dr Brennan said they'd still be there for a few more hours, but she wanted me to examine the photos that I've taken to see if I could posit any likely weapons."
"Well, you'd better do that then." It was said without rancour; she was used to Dr Brennan directing the action remotely. When it came to assessing the evidential priorities, Cam had learned to let Temperance Brennan call the shots. She trusted the talented forensic anthropologist's judgment in that area. What a shame her judgment was so abysmal when it came to more personal topics. 'That girl is a fool if she doesn't – ' Cam stopped her mental remonstrations, it wouldn't get her anywhere.
"Angela, would you come with me. I need some help with the clothing. There seems to be a pattern to the singeing and you've got a talent for recognising patterns, you might be able to see something there." She turned away from the table and headed towards the exit.
"Sure thing Cam". With that they left the mortuary suite and the diminutive figure on the downdraft table. Silence filled the air, along with the faint stench of burned flesh.
"Booth. Booth. Where are you?" Temperance Brennan's voice was rough with anxiety, her foot tap-tapping her impatience on the ground. She squinted into the sunlight, trying to make out the broad shoulders and tapered hips of her partner from the line of mostly uniformed police standing in a straggly queue about twenty metres in front of her where an older woman was dispensing coffee and doughnuts. When he didn't respond, she started forward towards them, until a hand reached out and halted her progress. With a grunt of frustration, she let the reactive force of Booth's grip spin her around to face him almost challengingly.
"Settle down, Bones, I'm right here." Booth smiled indulgently at her, but didn't break contact. "You know I'm never very far away. Now, what do you need?" Booth kept his tone as light as his touch, but he could see that his partner was wound up as tight as a drum. He could almost feel the excess adrenaline humming through her veins. He let his thumb gently stroke the inside of her arm and she relaxed imperceptibly. Neither of them was consciously aware of the action or reaction.
They'd been called out last night around 11:00pm to the scene of one of the worst murders he'd come across for a long time. The sight of a murdered child stays with you forever, but the sight that confronted them when they got to the old barn was heinous. There was the apparatus of torture, and the child's partially charred remains attested to the fact that an effort had been made to burn the evidence. Brennan's team from the Jeffersonian had been and gone hours ago, taking with them as much trace evidence as they could gather. The child's body had been sent directly to Cam to autopsy once Brennan had made the initial examination. Now Brennan was taking the last measurements of the scene and bagging a tiny sliver of metal that had caught her eye.
"I need to get back to the Jeffersonian right away." Temperance couldn't drag her eyes away from a drop of sweat that was trickling down Booth's temple. It was hot, and the sun promised more heat as the day progressed. She'd done all she could for the victim here at the scene. Now she needed to do what she did best. The autopsy should have concluded by now and she wanted to examine the injuries in the lab before she had Zack macerate the bones for the intensive examination which would take place later.
Booth watched as Bones gathered up the last of her equipment, taking the heavy scene examination case from her and seeing her to the SUV. He left her by the truck while she stripped off her coveralls and boots and as he went to speak with the local Sheriff he watched her every movement for signs of strain, one ear listening for the snap of latex that signalled she was finished and had taken off the haz gloves. He knew she'd work around the clock until she got some answers, but already he recognised the signs of her exhaustion. He longed to reassure her by wrapping his arms around her and making the world go away, but knew she'd reject that comfort. His foot broke a twig as he walked back across the grass towards her, and she lifted her head at the sound. Her blue eyes speared him to the spot – what had she seen in his face that made her frown like that? He fought to keep his expression neutral, and then her features softened and his heart skipped a beat.
"Hey, Bones, ready to hit the road?"
He handed her into the passenger seat, and walked around the back checking that all the equipment was stowed safely before getting in the driver's side. Bones had laid her head back against the headrest, her eyes shut. The SUV roared to life and Booth pulled onto the gravel driveway that led away from the old barn. It would take about an hour to drive back to the lab, so he figured if Bones felt like it she could grab a bit of sleep on the way and he wouldn't disturb her. He stayed silent, glancing at her sideways after a few minutes, but he did a double take when he saw that her eyes were open and fixed on his face.
"Wha-at?" He asked her. She screwed up her nose a bit and shrugged her shoulders, still watching him. Her steady gaze began to unnerve him a little. What was coming? After a few more miles, she finally spoke,
"Booth, would you pull off the road up ahead in that clearing?" Booth looked at her sharply, trying to gauge her mood and guess what might be on her minefield of a mind. She wasn't giving anything away, but her eyes beseeched him to do as she asked. He checked the traffic in the rear view mirror, before beginning to slow.
"Sure Bones, but I thought you wanted to get back to the Jeffersonian ASAP?"
"I do, but I want you to pull over for a minute, if that's okay?" Without another word, he did as she asked, turning the engine off and twisting in the seat to look at her expectantly. To his shock, she placed her hand over his and squeezed gently, saying -
"Booth, I know this case is going to be hard for you as you are a parent and your son Parker will be on your mind all the time, and I wanted you to know that – " here she struggled for words, seeming unable to articulate her intentions. That little crease appeared between her brows, and she pulled a wry face before continuing, "Booth, you know I have difficulty with this sort of thing, but I just wanted you to know that I – " she stumbled on the words again, and fell back to repeating something he'd said to her several times "I'm here for you Booth, any time, any way I can help if you need it. That's all I wanted to say." She looked out of the side window and the silence between them was filled with crickets chirruping and distant traffic noise. He couldn't help the swell of emotion he felt when she said those words, and the warmth he felt spread over his face. She kept her face turned away from him and he wordlessly restarted the SUV, checked for traffic and pulled back out onto the road. When he found his voice again, he said
"I know Bones, I know you've got my back. Thanks for telling me though, it means a lot." He paused, giving her a sidelong look, grasping for something to relieve her obvious discomfort at the personal nature of her statement.
"Bo-ones ..." He asked with a spreading grin, " Are we having a moment?" Brennan looked at him gravely and responded,
"I don't know what that means." But a smile played on her lips as she put her head back on the headrest, closing her eyes. In a few moments she had relaxed and was dozing.
All input gratefully received ....