Finally, my first Bones fic up! I love the show (I'm a relative newbie, but I'm proud to say I'm all caught up) and I have been writing the characters for months but being the slow writer I am (and there are way too many plot bunnies...), I have mostly fic fragments. I wanted this story up before this season's Grave Digger episode though so here it is, deadline met, although just barely. I started this awhile ago, back in January, so it's not based on any spoilers and I haven't read any so none are incorporated. Stylistically, this is pretty different from my other fics, so I hope I haven't bungled up too much but I'm pretty happy with it, so enjoy!
Spoilers: Set in 2x09, "Aliens in a Spaceship," after Brennan and Hodgins have been rescued and before Brennan and Booth are sitting in Church. None for the upcoming episode, "The Boy with the Answer" (5x21), as far as I know since I have been staying away from spoilers.
Disclaimers: Bones owned by Hart Hanson and FOX
"I knew you wouldn't give up."
"I knew you wouldn't give up."
~ Temperance Brennan, Seeley Booth, "Aliens in a Spaceship"
The Faith in the Partners
You have found the remains of Drs. Temperance Brennan and Jack Hodgins. We are the Grave Digger's seventh victims and I feel comfortable saying that he has remained very consistent. Injuries sustained to Dr. Hodgins' leg are human vs. car and almost certainly indicate a scenario similar to the Kent boys' kidnapping. The blood will turn out to Dr. Hodgins', most from the long incision I had to make in his fascia to relieve pressure. The bit of bumper sticker we found in his leg is clipped between the pages of my book. Cause of death will turn out to be trauma sustained from the explosion we will be setting off or suffocation.
Dr. Camille Saroyan of the Jeffersonian Institution should be contacted immediately; her people, which included Dr. Hodgins and myself, are already working on the Grave Digger case and will know how to best make use of any new information our remains and any accompanying evidence might contain. It would also be best if my partner, Special Agent Seeley Booth, were permitted to continue in his role as lead agent in this investigation. Even though he allows himself to be influenced by emotions and other irrational factors, I have seen, working with him, that he is very good at his job, and he has the added advantage of already being familiar with my people at the Jeffersonian and how they do things.
Booth—I know you're going to blame yourself and say it's your fault we didn't make it, but you didn't do this to us. The Grave Digger did. He buried us alive and he thought that was enough to win, but I believe that he hasn't won yet and that you're not going to let him. In Hodgins' remains, there will be a note to Angela; this is not my area of expertise and I defer judgment to you, but it seems like it would be important to both of them that she got it. You're good at that, saying and doing the right thing. I don't know if I'm saying the kind thing or if I'm making this less emotional for you and Ange and Cam, but I know you'll make this better for them and you won't let your emotions get the better of you. I know you'll catch him.
Her eyes are closed and the water hitting the shower's floor sounds like gravel clattering into her car. The water traces scalding rivers of warmth on her skin and slides off rapidly, but the memories do not. Gravel continues pouring in and the sensation of dust and closed spaces clings to her like spiderwebs, unmoved by reason. She knew she shouldn't have let Booth and those doctors talk her into having those drugs pumped into her system. She knows she was underground for more than twelve hours, that there are risks of this and that, that her body chemistry is bound to be off, but she doesn't need those drugs. Not the way Hodgins does. She is not the one who got run down by a car, who lost a lot of blood, who was operated on without anesthesia.
She sees him on her eyelids, eyes hyper alert, face slick with sweat, and leg overflowing with blood. She is not squeamish, but the car seat is soaked, blood is still spilling too readily from his leg, and his screams are uncontrolled and not muffled enough, and she's momentarily sick by the reality of where they are and what she's doing to him. Her fingers comb through her wet hair easily and logic tells her that the warm gush pelting her from above is water but she has to open her eyes to be sure.
Steam is everywhere and the shower's walls seem suddenly too close. As she draws a sharp breath, she squeezes her eyes shut again against the glittering drops of water, but there is no reprieve. This time, the darkness whisks her away to that too still silence. Hodgins is out and her own breathing sounds loud and ragged. She is not panicking yet, but her brain is working very, very fast, figuring out possibilities and probabilities. She is distracted by Hodgins' too-slow, too-quiet breathing, and she can't stop looking back at him and wondering uneasily what she will tell Angela if he doesn't make it. He'll make it, whispers Booth's voice in some distant recess of her mind. She knows he would say that but she doesn't know if she can believe it. There are too many ifs and not enough solid facts to validate a conclusion either way.
She hates this. The clinging memories. The perfect uselessness of them. The feeling of irrationality that she can't put into words because there is no reason to it. Rationally, she knows it's over and she's safe now, but the hot shower and her apartment do not feel completely real to her. She feels that a part of her is still down there, gasping on ever thinning air. She keeps floating above it all, seeing decomposed remains and an unsolved case.
She needs to be at the lab. It's supposed to be over now, but it's not. It's not until she reads the evidence, until they find him and make him answer for his crimes. Because suddenly, here is a case in which she understands the victims better than Booth, but it is not a victory and it does not give her clarity. It feels too much like psychology and what she needs is real science.
In a sudden flurry of motions, she snaps the water off, steps out, and grabs a towel. She'll do it, she decides. Booth is out, and even though he insisted before that he was taking her home, she knows he'll understand. She knows he'll help.
She tries to remember where she put her car keys, but she is stumped. She searches the tables and countertops, then circles back to the bathroom, hypothesizing that maybe they're among her dirty clothes. But as she shakes out the rumpled fabrics, she remembers that she doesn't have a car anymore and that she doesn't even know if it's being kept as evidence or if it's intact enough to be kept as anything. How unexpected it is, this hitch in her plan. How disorienting it is to grapple with the realization that she forgot so obvious a fact.
Her grip slackens and her clothes fall from her hands. In her peripheral vision, she sees something tumbling free of them and fluttering independently to the floor and she freezes. Her carefully reasoned calm buckles violently and the memories crash full force into her again, damn drugs.
Booth breezes through the door with takeout and a cheerful, "Got the food!" Bones is sitting at the table, glassy eyed and hands curled around a mug. Oh Bones, Bones, Bones. He morphs into concerned partner slash friend immediately and makes his way to her noisily, setting down the food. "Bones, hey, you okay?"
One blink and the focus is back in her eyes. "You're back." He notes the out-of-it tone. So… not fine then.
Booth sighs. "You should eat." The open bag wafts pleasant aromas into the air, making his stomach contract appreciatively, but he pushes the cartons to her. "I got Thai."
"I'm not hungry."
"Sure you are, Bones. Your brain says you're not, but your gut," he taps his stomach, "your gut's gotta eat."
"Technically, the gut doesn't eat. Its function is to digest."
"Come on, Bones." He has everything spread out at record speed and is eating with deliberate gusto now. "It's Thai…" he singsongs, waggling a carton under her nose. He grins charmingly at her.
When she smiles back, just the slightest, he knows he's won. "It is true that the sympathetic nervous system triggers a decrease in digestive function under stress."
"Right. Mmhm. Your body's tricking you."
"No, that's not an accurate description."
He nods along, taking the opportunity to nudge chopsticks into her hands and coax them into the takeout cartons as she explains. It turns out to be a smaller victory than he has hoped; he ends up watching her poke at her food and push hills into its landscape. His own chopsticks still. He recognizes this pattern from when they found her mother among the Jane Does of the Jeffersonian, he realizes.
He takes a gulp of beer. "You want to talk about what happened down there?"
She pushes something across the table to him. Reflexively, he glances down, reading the writing on the sheet of paper folded over twice. Special Agent Seeley Booth. "What's this?"
"Evidence. Of what happened to Hodgins and me."
He trails his finger along the edge of a wrinkled indentation, thinking that it looks a lot like a tearstain.
She misunderstands his silence. "I'm almost certain that's from the shower."
Their eyes meet for a moment, and then another. The silence is electric. Then he slides the paper gently back to her. "I don't have to read this."
"I would like it if you did."
In silent agreement, their eyes slip downwards and apart, his, roaming and reading and hers, fixed and watching him.
You have found the remains of Drs. Temperance Brennan and Jack Hodgins. We are the Grave Digger's seventh victims…
He has a sudden crystal clear image of her in that car, running out of air. Coldness webs across his skin and as he reads more, the memory of helplessness pushes the air out of him and clogs his lungs. They were close, so very close, to losing her and Hodgins. He will never forget how small her car looked after they pulled it out, how inadequate a space it seemed for two people to share for so long a time. He has to remind himself that they didn't fail and that it didn't come down to this, to him finding her corpse and this note.
…you didn't do this to us…. …I defer judgment to you…. …you'll make this better…. I know you'll catch him…
He brings his warm eyes up to her intense ones, moving from one breathless moment to another. Everything he wants to tell her, should tell her, crowds his mouth, tangles on his tongue. He's proud of her. He knew she could make it. He's glad she did. Thank you.
She ends up speaking first, babbling at a measured pace. "There isn't anything new that we don't already know, and as evidence, this provides only guidance at best, and I know it isn't enough, but—"
"Hey," he holds her eyes, "what you went through down there… the things you did…. No one, no one, could have done more. You did great. With keeping a cool head. With this. But you have to realize that this isn't just about catching the murderer. This one is personal for you too."
But she is shaking her head before he even finishes. "It doesn't feel right, being home; I should be at the lab. He's out there, Booth, maybe picking his next victims already. What if next time, no one pays the ransom either? We can't put everything on hold just because he picked me and Hodgins. We should be looking for him."
"And we will. Of course we will. But you have to slow down. Eat. Rest. Because tired people? They make mistakes, and I know that is not what you want."
"Nuh-uh. No. Not me. I find the process of analyzing evidence and piecing together the truth to be a refreshing challenge. It is also an excellent way of putting restless energy into efficient and relevant use."
"Just… humor me, will you, Bones? The Grave Digger buried you alive and tried to kill you and he almost had you too. You're allowed to feel upset or sorry for yourself or whatever else you want to feel."
"What? No, I don't feel sorry for myself. I feel sorry for his other victims. I keep seeing myself in their shoes and hypothesizing what the experience must have been like for them, and I think… I think that it must have been terrible for them having inferior reasoning skills and irrational beliefs. They had twice as much air and twice as much time as Hodgins and me, but they didn't know how to save themselves. They had nothing to do but suffocate and hope for rescue. They were waiting to die."
"Like falling asleep, right?"
"I'd feel like I was losing control."
"Like you're feeling right now?"
She looks at him seriously. "There's no real official investigation but us. We're the only ones that can do this and I feel like we're letting him slip away by doing nothing."
"I get that, wanting to put him away. I want to put him away. But the weight of the world is not on your shoulders."
"I still don't know what that means."
"It means, you're right. None of us," he says fiercely, "are responsible for the Grave Digger's actions. Not me and not you."
"I know. I'm the victim."
"Right. But see, Bones, you feel responsible for the people he hasn't taken yet, and that's not on you. We're doing the best we can and that's the only thing we owe those people."
"What if our best is not enough or too late because we didn't start soon enough?"
"We're going to catch him. You just have to believe that."
A moment's pause and then, "Hodgins says believing stuff like that is faith."
"You mean like believing from my gut that we'll catch him?"
She nods. "But I disagree. Faith is based on the illogical and has no rational basis. Given our record and the evidence that we've been able to compile so far, I believe that your conclusion is a sound one even if your premise is not."
"You believe in your squinty stuff even when there are no apparent answers. Isn't that faith?"
"I believe in science because science is reason and reason is the basis for discovering valid explanations and answers."
He leans back, letting her have this one. Silence settles between them but his mind is not quiet. Distantly, he sees Bones shifting her food again as he mulls and resumes eating. Very minimally. But still, he eats. Finally, he asks quietly, "Why me?"
"Why you what?"
He fiddles with a corner of her letter. "Why Special Agent Seeley Booth? Why not one of the squints?"
"Because…" her chopsticks twirl, "you'd do the same for me."
"But how did you know I would find you?"
"If not you, then someone else. And at some point, it's probable that you would have found out or someone would have told you. Cam and Angela and Zack would most certainly be questioned and at least one of them would bring it up to you."
"Alright, okay, I get it."
"And you were looking," she adds softly.
"I believe we'll catch him, but if we don't… if we try and we try and we don't, then yeah, I'll be frustrated but I believe he'll answer for what he did whether he's in jail or not. I don't believe he can hurt all those people and walk away. It'll catch up to him."
"I can understand that. But I just can't believe there's some sort of cosmic justice that happens all by itself. If bad things happen to him because he killed someone, then there's some sort of reason or explanation for why it happened. God is not going to smite him down."
"Strike him down, Bones. And I didn't say God."
"You implied divine intervention which would be the equivalent of God for you."
"Don't say it like that."
"Like He's someone to be dissected."
"There is no tangible proof that He exists to be dissected. And I'm not dissecting Him. I'm trying to understand."
He takes a breath… and decides to take the leap. Faith, right? He stands. "All right, come on, let's go."
She stares. "You told me I should rest."
"Eh, but you're not going to, so come on, let's go." He has come around to her chair and now he pulls it out for her. She complies and stands.
"Are we going to the lab?"
"We are going to Church."
"I don't believe in God."
"But I do. Now, come on."
"Are you bringing me to Church because you feel sorry for me?"
He gives her a reproachful look. "Don't put it like that. I'm taking you to Church because you've been through a lot. It's a quiet place to think and be calm. You know the concept, right? Less worrying, taking things one step at a time?"
She shrugs into the jacket he is holding open for her. "Oh! Is this because I said God is like the Gravedigger?"
He urges her out the door. "I'm throwing you a bone. Just take it, okay?"
"I don't like that phrase."
"I think it suits you."
"But I would never throw a bone, nor would I encourage such behavior. That would compromise the evidence."
"Figurative, Bones, figurative."
She argues with him all the way down the hall: "It's more suited to describe a dog than a human."
"That's exactly why nobody uses it for a dog."
"Also, it promotes a disrespect for osteology and…"
The cool evening air hits them, and he is turning to tell her that it's just a phrase and that he is not spending the ride arguing this with her when he catches the spark in her eyes. She is animated and so caught up in making her point that it seems that finally, she is not thinking of needing to be at the lab to save the world. And for the first time today, he is not seeing her being pulled out of that car, praying that she is still alive.
Feedback, positive or negative (constructive of course), would be lovely. On style, pacing, rhythm, characterization, anything. This whole piece was essentially one giant experiment. Phew. Definitely aiming less ambitiously next time. Thank you for reading to the end! Hopefully that signifies enjoyment or at least intrigue. =)