The Test in the Texts: Chapter One
There were things in this world that Temperance Brennan failed to understand. She understood how the human body worked, but she didn't understand why. She was aware that the organs in the body all worked together in sync with the skeletal system to keep us all alive, but the meaning behind it was a mystery to her. She knew that eventually everyone died, but again the reason escaped her. And nothing made her angrier than when she didn't understand something.
Angry would probably be the proper emotional descriptor for her current state. From her 'assigned' seat close to the casket, she could see everyone in the room and all she wanted to do was run. The one reason she defied her innate need to get the hell away from any overly-emotional situation was standing resolutely next to her, gripping her hand like a tiny vice. Parker.
In the days following what Hacker had called "one of the biggest messes in FBI history", Brennan had found her only comfort came when she was close to Booth's son. Even as his sad eyes, so much like his father's, looked to her for an explanation as to why his daddy was gone, she felt Booth's presence so palpably it was like a balm on her soul. They grieved together, she and Parker, and Rebecca seemed almost overly grateful to have Brennan there. Again, the why seemed just out of reach.
"Temperance?" She and Rebecca had been on a first-name basis since the moment Brennan stood on her porch to deliver the news of Booth's death in person. She had insisted that an unfamiliar agent showing up would make the nightmare all the more difficult, and swallowed her own despair to comfort her partner's son and his mother. Glancing at Rebecca, Brennan shook herself out of her reverie.
Nodding towards the woman sitting a few feet away, Rebecca continued. "Do you think we should…you know, try to include Mary in some of the arrangements? I mean, I know that she and Seeley had only been dating for three months, but she seems really upset."
Brennan turned towards the pretty redhead, who seemed to be praying to herself, head bowed. Despite her own feelings, Brennan genuinely liked Mary. She was kind, intelligent and seemed to really adore Booth in the way that he deserved to be adored. And she wasn't threatened by Booth's relationship with his partner like some other women had been. That fact alone served to endear her to Brennan, in her own way.
"Maybe. I'll speak to her, Rebecca. Has she met Parker?" Brennan's question seemed wildly out of context, but Rebecca understood.
"Yesterday at the funeral home was the first time. You know how Seeley was about introducing Park to women in his life. I guess he…" At a loss, Rebecca shook her head. "I don't know how he felt about her. We never talked about any woman except you."
"Technically, we were only work partners, I wouldn't fall into the category of 'other women' as Booth defined it in regards to Parker, so I should be exempt from the equation."
"Temperance." The word was spoken quietly, but with reproach that was unmistakable. "Even now, you can't admit that there was more to your relationship than work?"
Sighing, Brennan stood. "I'll go speak to Mary."
Mary O'Reilly always believed that there was someone special out there for her. A man who was good, and honest and strong and wanted the same things from life that she did. So when she met Seeley Booth at a school function he was attending for his son Parker, she was able to suspend disbelief about the fact that a man with seemingly no flaws was not only single, but completely unattached. Well, almost completely unattached. Only a truly stupid woman would miss the connection Seeley had with his partner, Dr. Brennan. But he had assured Mary time and again that they were only partners and friends, and she had no choice but to believe him. His honesty was one of the things she loved most about him. And yes, she had loved him. It was impossible not to. And loving him included getting along with Dr. Brennan and the rest of the team, something Mary found easier than she had anticipated. They made an effort to include her in their gatherings, went out of their way to be incredibly nice to her, and even Dr. Brennan had invited her to lunch on a few occasions. The woman was a little odd, but sincere in her desire to see Seeley happy and always kind to Mary when they spoke. Deep down Mary knew that Seeley wasn't in love with her, but he spoke lovingly to her when they were alone and treated her with a kind of adoration she hadn't ever experienced before.
So when Dr. Brennan appeared at her apartment door a few nights ago, a haunted look in her eyes, tears on her cheeks and apologies on her lips, Mary literally felt her heart breaking. The FBI said that the tac team Seeley led into the seemingly abandoned warehouse had no idea that aside from the evidence they needed to bring down a corrupt senator, the building also contained four thousand pounds of TNT, set to explode with trip wires all over the building. The warehouse was completely destroyed and three FBI agents were killed, including Seeley. Because Mary was simply a girlfriend, and a rather new one at that, she had no legal way to get information on what happened exactly, but Dr. Brennan and Rebecca had made sure she was kept in the loop, a fact for which she was eternally grateful. Mary had finally met Seeley's son, Parker, the night before and had wished with everything she had that the meeting had never taken place. The poor child was devastated, and seemed to want to do nothing but cling to either his mother or his uncle, Seeley's brother. Mary doubted that the meeting even registered with Parker. And now sitting here at the funeral home, surrounded by friends and family she didn't know, she'd never felt so alone.
Looking up into Dr. Brennan's watery eyes, every thought of feeling sorry for herself flew out of her head. Yes, she may have loved Seeley, but he had only occupied her world for three short months. The woman in front of her had lost her best friend, someone who was a major piece of her existence for almost seven years.
"Dr. Brennan. How are you doing?" Mary sniffed and gestured to the chair next to her. Brennan took the seat with a sigh.
"To be honest, I cannot quantify how I feel right now. I suppose the only word I can come up with is numb. But, in any case, I came over to see if there was anything you would like to contribute to the services on Wednesday. Rebecca and I thought you might want to have some input."
Shock crossed Mary's face as she absorbed the other woman's words. "Me? But…I only knew Seeley for a short time. Surely his brother or his grandfather would be better suited to-"
Shaking her head, Brennan placed her hand on Mary's knee. "Maybe. But Booth cared for you and I know that you loved him as much as anyone. I think he would appreciate it if you were offered some say in what happens in the next few days."
"Thank you, Dr. Brennan. But no. I wouldn't be comfortable and to be honest, I didn't know him as well as you all did. I think he would appreciate it more if you and Rebecca handled everything. Besides…" Mary stopped for a moment, contemplating whether she should share her decision.
"What is it?" Brennan leaned towards her slightly, picking up the feeling that this was private information.
"I'm leaving DC, Dr. Brennan." She pulled another tissue out of her handbag and wiped her eyes. "A few weeks ago I was offered another teaching position at an exclusive prep school outside of Flint, Michigan. Before…before all this happened I was going to turn it down. But now…" Mary looked behind her at the gleaming black casket. "Now, I just want to leave. I can't be around here, thinking about what might have been and wallowing. I hope you can understand that."
"Actually, I understand very well." Brennan looked off somewhere towards the back of the room, eyes unfocused. "I truly do. It sounds like a wonderful opportunity. But, you should know…you will be missed here."
"Thank you. I will miss all of you as well, Dr. Brennan."
"Please, call me Temperance." Brennan took Mary's hand and held it. "Is there anything you need right now? Water or coffee?"
"No, thank you Temperance. In fact…" She stood and picked up her handbag. "I think I want to go home."
Standing with Mary, Brennan leaned in to hug her slightly. "Alright then. Please call me if you need anything. Anything at all."
"I will. Goodbye." Mary nodded towards Rebecca, who was watching the exchange from a few feet away, and walked out of the room.
Brennan walked back over to Rebecca and gestured towards the rest of the mourners. "How much longer do you think everyone will stay?"
"Not much longer, I don't think. We only offered visiting hours until six and it's nearly that now." She ran her fingers through Parker's hair as he lay sleeping on the sofa next to her. "I really need to get Park home. I'm hoping he'll sleep through the night tonight."
"Is he still having nightmares?"
"Yes. Almost constantly now." Rebecca sighed shakily and wiped her eyes. "I want to be mad at Seeley for this, but I miss him so damn much I just can't. I know he would have moved Heaven and Earth to avoid leaving, but since that was impossible…I just, I am so heartbroken, Temperance."
Brennan sat next to Rebecca and wrapped her arms around her, breath hitching in her chest. "I know, Rebecca. I know. Me, too." They sat on the sofa, both mourning a man loved to different degrees by both of them, when suddenly Brennan felt a vibration in her pocket. Pulling back, she reached for her cell and glanced at the screen. 'Who would be sending me a text message now?'
Standing and excusing herself from the room, Brennan stepped into the side room set up for family only, and opened the message.
Thinking of taking some classes at the Musica in Akron but not really sure the curriculum's for me.
Assuming that someone sent the message to the wrong person; Brennan checked the number and realized that it wasn't one she recognized and the caller ID simply said, 'Caller Unknown'. Confused but not concerned, Brennan put her phone back in her pocket and exited the room to rejoin the gathering next door.