I'm finally all better from the flu so you guys won't have to wait so long for updates now. I will try to update at least every few days. This sequel picks up where I Have to Know leaves off and I hope you all enjoy it. Thanks for reading and please review.
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Brennan and Booth returned to DC two days after their wedding. They had been all set to leave at noon the day following their wedding, but the local FBI office had decided to take advantage of their presence in Vegas and asked for her assessment of remains on a couple of cold cases. In fact, they would have kept the pair there indefinitely if Booth hadn't finally put his foot down, telling the local office to get their own forensic anthropologist, Brennan was his and they had plenty of their own cases to work in DC. They didn't currently have an open case in DC, but they did need to get back to make sure the FBI tech training program was going as well as Angela had reported. Even though they still had several weeks left in the three month trial the board had approved, it was a big job and they didn't have any time to waste on non-urgent cases.
They had decided not to tell their friends about the wedding until they saw them face to face so they would be there to soothe hurt feelings and ruffled feathers and show them the photos and video of the ceremony Mr. Holden had thoughtfully provided. Booth and Brennan had both been stunned when they were presented with the items, neither having any idea a photographer had been present. Mr. Holden had explained they had used their very sophisticated security system which had cameras on the bridge for the express purpose of making wedding videos. Booth and Brennan hoped that would be enough to placate Angela for missing the ceremony as neither looked forward to her throwing a hissy fit.
They entered the lab just before noon on Friday to a scene of utter chaos, people running around like the place was on fire and smoke hanging over the room, making them both look around for the fire. Angela saw them come in and rushed over almost in tears.
"Oh, thank God you two are back," she grabbed Brennan, hugging her tightly. Booth and Brennan looked around the room in stunned amazement then back at each other. Brennan pulled back and peered closely at Angela, who looked very tired as if she hadn't slept well in days.
"Ange, what is going on here?" Brennan demanded.
"One of the FBI's finest almost blew up the lab," she gave Booth a disgruntled look, as if it was his fault.
"What? How?" Brennan and Booth demanded simultaneously.
"He wouldn't listen to Wendell. He thought he had a better way of doing a certain test and the chemicals he mixed together apparently made an explosive. Thank goodness the moron only mixed a little batch because Jack said the explosive power increases exponentially to the amount of chemicals." Booth and Brennan shared a look of horror. This was so not good. They were already under enough scrutiny from the Jeffersonian board, they didn't need screw up's like this.
"Was anyone hurt?" Booth asked before Brennan could. Angela shook her head.
"Just the moron and he wasn't hurt badly, a few minor burns and bruises from being thrown backward from the explosion. They were using one of the back rooms instead of the platform and everyone else was out of the room with Jack. The FBI guy sneaked away to set up his experiment while no one was looking." At that moment, Wendell and Hodgins came rushing up with looks of relief on their faces.
"Thank God!" Wendell was obviously excited they were back. Hodgins looked like he was about to cry.
"Man, it's good to see you two."
"What the hell has been going on here while we were gone?" Booth gestured with a hand to the utter chaos in the lab at the moment. Booth and Brennan shared a baffled look when Wendell, Angela and Hodgins looked at each other uncomfortably then avoided meeting their eyes. Without looking directly at either of them, Angela finally answered the question.
"I might have exaggerated how well things were going here." She informed them guiltily. A quick glance at the other two told Booth they knew about Angela's little fabrications and were most likely involved.
"Why would you do that, Ange?" demanded Brennan more confused than angry. Angela shrugged, then looked at her friend pleadingly.
"We just didn't see the sense in worrying you and we thought we had it under control," she glared at Wendell and Hodgins who nodded, tacitly admitting their guilt. "Everything was fine until yesterday and we knew you would be home as soon as possible. It's not like you two were out there just goofing off, you were on an important case." Luckily, Angela was momentarily distracted by a noise behind her and missed the guilty look Booth and Brennan shared. True, they had been officially requested to look at the cases they had spent the extra two days in Vegas on, but they hadn't fought it very hard, glad of the extra time to themselves.
"What happened yesterday?" Brennan rubbed her forehead, working on the headache she could feel coming on. Before Angela could answer her, Cam trotted up, the look of relief on her face almost comical.
"Welcome home, people. Just in time for the party, I see." Booth had to grin at the look Brennan shot Cam, obviously wondering if she had inhaled too many chemical fumes. Without responding to the greeting, Brennan got down to business.
"Cam, do we need to evacuate the lab?" Hands on hips, Cam looked at the people rushing past her, apparently going nowhere but in circles. Not a single person other than the injured tech had left the department.
"Yes and no."
"I don't know what that means." No one even cracked a smile.
"The chemical fumes aren't at a dangerous level but we do need to clear the lab until we can figure out exactly what happened, but I've already tried yelling and can't get their attention." Cam sighed in disgust, her voice a little husky from the attempts.
"I can help with that," Brennan strode to the platform and climbed the steps, letting out the loudest, shrillest whistle any of them had ever heard. All movement ceased, with every eye in the place turning toward her. "I need everyone to stay calm and do what Dr. Saroyan tells you to." Brennan motioned to where Cam was standing and everyone's attention shifted. With a mouthed thank you to Brennan, Cam instructed everyone to go home for the rest of the day and report back as scheduled in the morning, grabbing Wendell's arm as he turned to go.
"Not you," Cam's voice was firm but not harsh but Wendell flinched as if she was shouting at him. With a pat on Wendell's arm, Cam turned to herd everyone out of the lab.
"Wendell, what's wrong?" asked Booth in genuine concern, dropping a hand on his shoulder. Shuffling his feet, Wendell refused to meet Booth's eyes.
"This is all my fault," he whispered, dropping his head. Angela and Hodgins shrugged, assuring Booth they didn't know what he was talking about.
"How is this your fault?" Booth asked gently. Wendell finally met his eyes, expecting to see condemnation at his failure, but only saw concern.
"The students were my responsibility. This would never have happened if Dr. Brennan had been here."
"Following that logic, Wendell, it would be my fault this happened, not yours." Everyone swung around to see Brennan standing behind them, having arrived in time to hear Wendell claim responsibility for the calamity in front of them.
"Of course, it's not your fault, Dr. B. You weren't even here, but it was my fault." He insisted stubbornly. Walking closer, Brennan placed a hand on his forearm, squeezing lightly.
"Wendell, I trusted you enough to put you in charge of instructing the FBI techs while I was gone. I'm sure you didn't do anything wrong. It was an accident, Wendell. We need to figure out what happened so we can make sure it doesn't happen again instead of trying to place blame." Shoulders sagging in relief, Wendell nodded in agreement. A yell from Cam drew their attention to where she was standing in the door of Brennan's office, waving them all over.
"I told you they wouldn't get married in Vegas," Hodgins' comment to Wendell stopped Booth and Brenna in their tracks, a few steps behind the other three. Wendell shrugged. Angela snorted.
"And I told you both they would never get married without their family there and since we never left DC," she circled her finger at the three of them and Cam, "they couldn't get married."
"Ange, we don't have to be there for them to get married." Hodgins argued.
"Yes, we do, Jack. We're family. They would never do that to us, just totally leave us out of the whole thing. Bren is my best friend, you know," Angela insisted.
Booth and Brennan looked at each other with wide eyes. Well, that little conversation told them how Angela was going to take their happy news. Not well. Grabbing Booth's hand and squeezing hard, Brennan pulled him to the other side of the platform where they couldn't be overheard.
"Booth, what are we going to do?" she hissed.
"We're going to figure out what happened here." She smacked his arm for the flip remark.
"That's not what I meant, Booth. How are we supposed to tell them we did get married in Vegas and weren't working a real case when the lab got blown up?" Running a hand through his hair, Booth honestly didn't know. The plan had been to take the squints out to dinner tonight and break the news then. At this precise moment, neither was sure that was a good idea, but the fact is they were married and Angela would get over it. Eventually. Maybe. But, damn, could she make them suffer first, especially Brennan and she had enough to deal with right now without adding a pouting Angela. Luckily, they had agreed to not wear their wedding rings to work until they had a chance to talk to everyone or they would already have been busted.
Dropping his forehead to rest against hers, Booth suggested, "Maybe we should wait a few days and let things settle down a little before we tell them." Brennan bit her lip in indecision, wanting to share their news with their family, but cringing inwardly at the reaction she was now expecting from her best friend. Reluctantly, she nodded. "It doesn't matter if they know or not, Baby. We're still married and that's the important thing." Tipping her face upward with a finger under her chin, Booth kissed her deeply, only pulling away at Cam's voice directly behind them.
"Oh, for God's sakes, you two. We could really use your help if you can drag yourselves away from each other for a minute." Cam's voice was teasing but there was very real stress easily detectable on her face. Laughing, Booth grabbed Brennan's hand and pulled her toward her office.
Fifteen minutes later, they all emerged from Brennan's office with assignments designed to get to the bottom of the explosion as quickly as possible. After Cam informed Cullen of the accident and that Booth and Brennan were back, Cullen ordered Booth to stay and oversee the investigation, calling him with the results. He had looked over the scene of the explosion and concluded that it could have been much, much worse.
True, there was quite a bit of blast damage in the makeshift lab, but the fire suppression system had kicked in immediately and confined the flames to a very small portion of the room. The glass walls would have to be replaced but it being safety glass had probably saved lives. Booth frowned as he tried to resign the injuries Angela had attributed to the tech with the blast area. No way was the guy standing at his work station if he only had minor injuries. He just didn't see how that was possible and they were just lucky no one else had been in the room at the time or someone would most likely have died.
Since there were no bodies involved, Cam and Brennan were a little out of their element, but Hodgins was very much in his as the explosives expert. Cam, Wendell and Brennan collected evidence for him to analyze until Hodgins yelled for Brennan and asked her to run some samples separately to confirm his results. He refused to share those results yet, but Booth could tell by the way his jaw was clenching and unclenching that something was not right. He knew that something was very wrong when Brennan looked at the results from her tests and her jaw tightened in fury. She and Hodgins shared a long look and then turned to Booth.
"This was no accident, Booth," stated Brennan firmly. Booth had been very afraid she was going to say something along those lines. His gut had been telling him something was wrong since they walked through the lab doors and it was hardly ever wrong. But, crap, was it too much to ask not to be hit in the face with very bad things the second they walked through the door? Apparently it was, he thought with an inward sigh.
"Why do you think it wasn't an accident, Bones?" Handing him the lab report, she motioned for Hodgins to explain it. She was so angry she could barely speak. Someone had tried to blow up her freaking lab with her freaking family in it. That was just unacceptable. Keeping a wary eye on Brennan, Hodgins partially turned to Booth.
"We found potassium nitrate and that isn't a chemical that is included in the field collection kits." Not exactly concrete evidence that the explosion was deliberate thought Booth.
"Do you people keep that particular chemical in the lab?" Hodgins nodded. Brennan crossed her arms over her chest, narrowing her eyes at him. She knew where he was going with this and she didn't like it. Not one little bit.
"My people did not mess up, Booth," she gritted out between clenched teeth.
"How can you be so sure, Bones?" His voice was soft and soothing, but nothing could make that question anything less than offensive and her glare told him so.
"Because they don't make mistakes like that, Booth. They're much too diligent to leave an explosive compound out in the open where anyone could have access to it." Booth knew the squints were very careful when it came to their work, but still, what would an FBI tech have to gain by deliberately blowing up their lab. It just didn't make sense.
"Maybe it wasn't one of your people. Maybe it was someone else." Now, Hodgins crossed his arms and glared at Booth right along with Brennan.
"Not possible, Booth. No one in this lab would do that. Ever." Hodgins nodded his agreement. With a sigh, Booth rubbed the nape of his neck.
"Ok, Baby, tell me about this potassium stuff." Hodgins' eyes widened at the endearment. Although the partners were in a relationship, he had never heard either address the other by anything other than their names at work. Booth and Brennan didn't even notice the slip.
"It's an explosive compound found in fireworks and fertilizer," she saw his eyes widen at the mention of fertilizer and nodded. "Yes, it is why terrorists use fertilizer for explosives. Luckily, this guy didn't use very much or it would have been a lot worse." Booth took several moments to get his thoughts in order, only to find himself face to face with a very angry, inpatient Brennan when he tuned back in. "Well, what are you waiting for?" she demanded, tapping her foot on the floor. Booth eyed her cautiously.
"What is it, exactly, that you want me to do, Bones?" Brennan and Hodgins shared an incredulous look.
"This guy tried to blow up my lab and my family, Booth. I want you to go federal on his $$." Her tone suggested he should have known without asking and Hodgins nodded his vehement agreement.
"Yeah, Booth, go arrest the guy." Shooting a lethal glare at a now smiling Hodgins, Booth returned his attention to Brennan with a deep sigh and a quick prayer for patience.
"Bones, I can't just go arrest him for an accident." With a gasp of outrage, she stepped closer to him, poking him in the chest. He looked down in disbelief and caught the swirling emotions in her eyes. She was royally pissed. Hopefully, not at him.
"It. Was. Not. An. Accident." She followed each word with a poke. In different circumstances, Booth would have been getting in her face by now, both of them yelling. But, he could clearly see the fear behind the anger and he knew that she was reacting to her belief that her house of reason and her family had been deliberately targeted for harm. He could also see her guilt that she hadn't been here to protect them and felt a few of those pangs himself, but none of this had been her fault or his for that matter and they would get to the bottom of it. Pulling her into his arms, he felt her whole body trembling with the strength of her emotions as she wrapped her arms around his waist and clung tightly.
"Hey, it's ok. No one was hurt, Baby. Your family is fine." Cupping her face in his hands, he tilted her head back to look directly into her eyes. "We're all fine." He reiterated softly. Just being in his arms calmed her, she finally nodded and gave him a soft smile. "Now, if you want me to arrest this guy, find me some concrete evidence that the explosion was deliberate and I'll see what I can do." She nodded but before she could step back, Angela cleared her throat, grinning at Booth and Brennan's intimacy with a raised brow.
"I found something you all need to see on the security tapes," she told them with her jaw set firmly, all humor gone.
Following Angela into her office, they found Cam and Wendell already there. Angela walked to her computer and started the video footage from where it had been paused. The squints and Booth watched the video intently as the tech in question sneaked away from Hodgins' lecture and returned to the room they were using as a lab alone. Booth studied the tech's movements closely and felt a shiver of unease work down his spine; the man's movements were too stealthy, too sneaky, as if being stealthy was natural to him. Lab techs did not move like that. His eyes narrowed further when the man stood with his back to the camera while doing something at the table, blocking the view of his movements. Obviously he was aware of camera placement and knew how to circumvent surveillance without raising suspicion.
"How does this help us, Ange? We can't even see what he's doing." Brennan asked with frustration apparent in her voice. Angela's smile told her to be patient, but that was not one of her better qualities and they all knew it, so Angela hurriedly went on with her explanation. Cam's phone rang and she paled looking at the caller ID, but quickly left the room to take the call.
"I was able to isolate a reflection and clean it up," Angela pulled the footage up and they all watched tensely as the man pulled something out of his pocket and started mixing it together with something he picked up from the table. Ok, that did look deliberate, thought Booth, but the real tell was when the man turned and hurriedly made his way toward the door.
"He knew there was going to be an explosion. He must have miscalculated and just didn't make it out in time." Brennan turned to Booth, feeling vindicated. Booth nodded and ran a hand along the nape of his neck. Brennan was right, the explosion had been deliberate, but why? Might as well make use of the brain trust, he decided, he certainly didn't have a clue. Before he could ask them anything, Wendell took the words right out of his mouth.
"This doesn't make any sense. Why would one of the techs try to blow up our lab?" Everyone looked baffled, so no help on that front.
"Maybe he was trying to get even," suggested Brennan uncomfortably, "most of them really don't like me." Booth slid an arm around her shoulders and pulled her close. No one really knew how to respond to that remark. It was true and they all knew it, but Hodgins tried with his logical reasoning.
"They don't really like me either, Dr. B." He assured her with a shrug, "But you never even met the guy, so it doesn't make sense that he has a personal grudge against you." Brennan shot him a smile for trying to make her feel better, just as Cam stalked back into the room, her anger evident to the people that knew her so well.
"We have a big problem, people," she threw out between clenched teeth.
"Bigger than someone trying to blow up the lab?" Brennan questioned incredulously. Cam nodded jerkily, taking several deep breaths. She so did not want to tell these people about her phone call, but they deserved to know. It was going to take all of them to find a way out of this.
"I have just been notified by the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Jeffersonian that a special session has been called for tomorrow afternoon to address the "situation"." She used air quotes and sarcasm with the word. "He also implied that the training program would be stopped immediately," rubbing her forehead and pacing so she wouldn't have to meet anyone's eyes, she gave them the worst part. "He also implied that the meeting was just a formality, the decision has already been made to sever our relationship with the FBI. Permanently." She flinched at the gasps coming from the group behind her and finally turned to face her family ready to face their anger and censure for allowing this to happen.
She was their leader. She was the one ultimately responsible for the explosion and for this awful mess. She was awed to see that not a one of them was looking at her with anything other than sympathy, compassion and affection.
"Cam, this is not your fault, either." Booth's words brought tears of gratitude to Cam's eyes, especially when the others murmured their agreement. Suddenly, Brennan gasped, turning to Booth.
"What if severing the connection between the Jeffersonian and the FBI was the whole point of this mess?" Eyes narrowed, they all looked at Brennan and considered the question. Booth nodded first.
"This would certainly do the job." He agreed.
"But why would one of the FBI techs want to do that?" questioned Angela. Running a hand through his hair, Booth decided to share his doubts about the guy's identity with the others, but before he could utter a word, a voice from the doorway cut him off.
"He's not FBI." All eyes turned to see a furious Deputy Director Cullen standing in the doorway. Instantly, they all knew this was huge, as none of them had ever seen Cullen in the Jeffersonian before. Walking into the room, he looked around, extremely relieved to see that none of Booth and Brennan's friends had been hurt. He also noted that Booth didn't seem surprised by his announcement while the squints appeared to be in various stages of shock.
"What? How could he have gotten into the training program if he wasn't an FBI employee?" demanded Brennan and Cullen had to smile at the speed she pushed the shock aside and got down to the tough questions.
"He had all the right paperwork. I checked it myself," Wendell insisted, jumping from his seat in agitation, once again, sure this was his fault.
"Wendell, this is not your fault. He would have had to show ID to even get in the lab. If the ID was fake, the guards should have spotted it." Booth assured the distraught young man, his eyes meeting Cullen's with a silent question. Cullen answered Booth's question aloud, these people deserved all the facts.
"Yes, Booth, I'm sure. I sent an agent to the hospital to check on the tech as soon as Dr. Saroyan notified me of the accident, but he wasn't there. In fact, he wasn't at any hospital. Thinking that was a little strange, I had the guy checked out and he doesn't exist." He gave Booth a level look. "I've also looked over his credentials, Booth, and you don't get that kind of quality work off the streets."
"A professional?" Booth's jaw clenched, knowing exactly what Cullen was implying. Cullen nodded and the other's looked at the two men with trepidation, not sure what was going on but sure it wasn't good.
"I don't know what that means," said Brennan softly, slipping her hand into Booths, the tension in the room raising her own. Booth squeezed her hand, but Cullen answered before he could.
"It means, Dr. Brennan, that this lab or someone in it is a target for a professional bad guy. The kind of professional that makes very bad things happen for anyone with the right amount of money." Cullen looked at the squints closely, expecting them to fall apart at his words. They did not and he felt his respect for all of them ratchet up a few notches.
"What are we going to do?" whispered Angela.
"We're going to figure out who did this and why and put a stop to it before this jerk tries something else." Cam stated firmly, glad to have a lead for them to pursue. Cullen almost smiled at the looks of resolve and determination spreading across the faces of the squints. This guy had so picked the wrong group of people to mess with. If anyone could figure this out, they could and it was now personal to them, they wouldn't stop until they got the bad guy. Cullen almost felt sorry for the guy until he remembered the second reason he was there.
"Dr. Saroyan, could I speak to you privately, please?" Cullen requested politely. Cam looked at him assessingly.
"Sir, anything you have to say about this mess can be said in front of my people."
"Fine. I got a call from one of the Jeffersonian board members with basically the same message you did, but my source made it clear that only a select few of the board want to end the ties between them and the FBI, but they are powerful people and the others may not be able to stop them. I'm looking for suggestions to stop it before it gets to the point that they vote." Cam chewed her lower lip and turned to Hodgins almost desperately.
"Jack, I hate to put you in this position, but can you do anything?" Hodgins sadly shook his head. He would have gladly put a stop to the Boards shenanigans months ago but he just didn't have the juice to do it.
"I'm sorry, Cam. Even though my family donates a lot of money to the Jeffersonian, all that is done through my own Board of Directors. I don't have any direct control, so I can't threaten to withdraw financial support and I've never been involved in politics. In fact, my views make me rather unwelcome in those circles. I'm really sorry I can't help, guys, but surely we can think of something." The brooding silence of the room was broken by Brennan turning to Cullen.
"Do you have names?" Cullen blinked at the question. "Do you have the names of the board members who want to vote against out partnership?" she raised her and Booth's joined hands and Cullen smiled, nodding.
"Not all of them, but I do have several," Brennan held out her hand in a give me gesture.
"What are you going to do, Bren?" Angela asked with just a hint of fear in her voice picturing Brennan personally confronting the board members.
"I'm going to get the board to back off, so we can do our jobs, Ange." The determination in her voice did not allay Angela's fears and she looked at Booth helplessly as did the other three squints. They had no idea that Brennan had any political power or connections and with her manner with people they didn't want her to make things worse. Booth ignored the others, focusing solely on Brennan. He did know what kind of pull she had, but was very surprised that she was so willing to use it for personal gain.
"Are you sure about this, Bones?" he asked softly, not trying to talk her out of this. In fact, he had been ready to pull her out of the room and make the suggestion himself, but this just wasn't like her and he wanted to make sure she wouldn't regret it later. She turned to him with determination, nodding but she was having some pangs of guilt over what she was about to do and Booth easily saw that.
"Booth, whoever is behind this needs to be stopped. We can't do that if we're no longer partners. We were following the rules, Booth, but they cheated." She paused and rubbed her forehead at his puzzled look. "We were told that we would have three months to train the FBI techs, but someone obviously thought that was too long to wait for whatever it is they want so they did this to cause enough friction to reach their goal." Booth nodded, easily following her logic. Her jaw clenched and her voice turned to steel. "And they tried to hurt my family. As far as I'm concerned, that means I will do whatever I have to do to make them pay." Cullen felt a shiver work down his spine at her words and tone. She was definitely Max Keenan's daughter in that moment. Her eyes begged Booth not to judge her as wanting because of what she needed to do to protect her family. But, she needn't have worried, her husband would never find her wanting in any way and his smile told her so. Returning the smile, she squeezed his hand then turned back to Cullen who handed her the list of names he had just written out. Nodding, she strode confidently from the room.
"Can she do it, Booth?" asked Cam softly. Booth turned from watching his wife walk toward her office, his pride in her apparent.
"Yeah, Cam, she can do it." He offered nothing else and the others needed nothing else. They all knew if any of them could accomplish miracles, it was Brennan and right now a miracle was the only thing that would save the situation. Knowing they all needed a distraction, Booth rubbed his hands together.
"Ok, squints, let's get to work and figure out who the bad guy is." With looks of relief, they all jumped up and hurried out the door to continue their earlier work, each silently praying that Brennan could accomplish her task. Oddly enough, Booth was the only one not sending up prayers, his faith in Brennan so absolute he didn't even think of it. She would stop the board and they would find whoever was behind this, then maybe they could settle down to a nice, quiet married life, Booth thought, then silently snorted at his own thoughts. Life with Brennan would never be quiet but he wouldn't have it any other way. With a smile, he and Cullen went to join the squints and offer what assistance they could.