Brennan couldn't remember the last time she'd felt so impatient.
She stabbed repeatedly at the elevator call button. People who passed her in the busy hallway seemed to view her as though she were crazy. And maybe in a way she was. Still, nothing could move fast enough for her. Not her car. Not people. And certainly not this blasted elevator.
Between the two closed metal doors before her she could hear the hum of the elevator car returning to her from whatever floor it had been on. Again she pressed a rigid finger against the plastic lit button. "Come on," she whispered to herself.
To distract herself she glanced around to see how much had changed. It'd been six months since she'd been to her lab in the Jeffersonian Institute. Before then she'd spent numerous years there investigating murders with her partner, FBI Agent Seeley Booth. But a year ago, that had all changed.
It'd started off as a typical evening. It was customary tradition for Booth, Brennan, and their associates who worked at the lab to go out for a drink after the conclusion of a case. They'd just wrapped up a particularly gruesome murder of a college girl. There was much celebration in though they obviously hadn't been able to help the one young woman, they had been able to save her friend who had been abducted with her.
By the end of the night Booth and Brennan had been the only ones left in the bar. They'd called it a night around two. He'd walked her out onto the street while she waited for a cab. "Are you all right?" She'd asked Booth. All night he'd seemed distracted. Unlike himself.
"Yeah," he answered absent mindedly. "I just keep thinking about that girl."
"The one you saved?"
"No. Her friend." He exhaled. "I wish I could have done something."
"Booth, we wouldn't have even had this case if she hadn't of been murdered."
He shook his head in disagreement. "I still think this murder is connected to those ones I told you about in Charlotte. I should have seen it sooner." His gaze dropped down onto the sidewalk.
Brennan was growing increasingly worried. "Booth?"
"I'm okay, Bones," he looked back up at her with a sheepish smile. "I'm just tired."
A cab pulled up to the curb for her. She opened the door. Before getting in she turned back to him. "Go home and get some sleep."
That had been the last time she'd ever seen him.
In the early morning hours she'd received a phone call from the FBI. Booth's neighbors had called the police to report a disturbance. Once the police arrived on the scene and learned who he was, they promptly called the feds for back up. Brennan, his partner, was contacted next. When she hurried to his apartment, she understood the phone chain.
Booth had been attacked. Violently. Furniture had been tipped over or smashed. Papers and knick knacks were scattered on the floor. Blood was spilled everywhere. Splatter patterns decorated the walls. In the air was a faint smell of burned flesh.
A thorough investigation was done. But there was little for them to go on. Whomever had abducted Booth had thought out their crime carefully. There were no signs of forced entry, suggesting Booth had known his attacker. Any and all blood or DNA in the apartment was his own. There was no sign of fingerprints. His neighbors had all been questioned since they'd been the ones to phone for help. But all any of them had heard was the sound of loud tussling. No one had seen anything.
The case went cold quickly. But that didn't stop Brennan and the rest of the "Squints" from conducting their own investigation. Unfortunately they didn't turn up more than anyone else did. Booth had just disappeared into the night.
Brennan kept working at the Jeffersonian for six months beyond that. She refused to work any murder cases without Booth. All of her time was spent searching for him. But as it became painstakingly obvious that her efforts were futile, she left the Jeffersonian all together. The passing time left a hurtful gaping hole in her chest. Whenever she thought of what happened to him she felt as though she couldn't breathe.
She returned to her life as an anthropologist. Across the globe she traveled digging up the remains and identifying those who had died centuries before. But it didn't matter where she went. In every country, every city, she still looked for him.
At last the elevator arrived. Brennan stepped inside. The doors closed before anyone else joined her. Down the car traveled to the basement. Slumping, she leaned back against the cool metal wall. Tears blurred her vision. Just being in the building without him was almost too much. Memories were every where. It didn't help matters knowing she was back because of him.
A badly rotting carcass had been fished out from the Potomac River. Initial reports placed the rate of decomposition at around the time Booth had disappeared. There were enough other similarities for the body to be brought to the lab to be gone over. Cam, Brennan's old boss, had called her to inform her of the developments. They both knew despite the personal relations Brennan would want to be the one to do the work herself.
The doors sprang open once again. She marched herself through the familiar hallways until she reached the spacious area she had called home for so many years. The once happy facility had a dark cloud over it. With the exception of noises from various machines it was nearly pin drop silent. Her peers were up on the lab's platform, gathered around a steel metal table.
Brennan made a point of dropping her bag of gear onto the floor. Three sets of eyes turned to look at her. Angela, her best friend, was red faced and had been crying. Hodgins, a fellow scientist, looked to be completely blown away, if his large blue eyes were any indication. Cam just looked over whelmed. She was the only one who attempted a smile. "Dr. Brennan."
Brennan slid her card through the security check point to let herself up onto the platform. "Did you request his x-rays?" She shot back at her. She didn't have time for pleasantries, nor did she feel like making any.
"Yes. I've uploaded them up onto the monitors."
"On the other monitor."
Angela and Hodgins both moved aside as she drew near. The sight of the body before her nearly knocked her down onto her knees. With a breath she steeled herself. She was excellent at disassociating. That wouldn't change now, no matter what the circumstances.
"Sweetie?" Angela asked meekly. "You sure you want to do this?"
"I'm fine," she snapped. "Just let me work." She roughly pulled a gown on over her clothes. Then she seized the table.
Her expert eyes swept over what had been left for her. Several bones were missing. Divers had excavated what they could from the rough waters. Just by glancing she could tell the height of the remains were close to Booth's, if not exactly. She picked up the skull to find a severe fracture just above the forehead. Other bones, she noticed, were still together, but had been snapped like twigs. Upon closer inspection she saw there was a history of breakage and mending.
In her back she could feel eyes boring into her. Whirling around, she told her colleagues in a clipped tone, "this would be a speedier process if you weren't watching me."
The three adults scattered off of the platform.
Before doing any closer inspection she decided to start with the dentals. It didn't take her long before she had an answer. The remains before her were not Booth. "It's not him," she murmured to herself, feeling both ecstatic and disappointed at the same time. She was thrilled he wasn't laying there before her. There was still a chance he was alive. But that meant he was still missing. She was no closer to any answers.
Brennan peeled her gloves off. "It's not him," she called. She left the platform promptly. No one said a word as she excused herself by them. All together she left the lab. Her rapid gait didn't stop until she was outside in the garden in the back of the institute. There she collapsed down onto a bench. Deep in her lungs she inhaled fresh air.
"Hey, are you okay?"
She should have known she wouldn't be alone for long. Onto one side of the bench Brennan scooted to make room for Angela. The woman took it as an invitation. She placed herself next to her.
"I don't know how I feel, Ange," she admitted softly.
Angela nodded. "It's good to see you. It's been so long."
She shook her head. "I just couldn't stay."
For those six months she'd been on the go Brennan hadn't had anyone to confide in. Her walls lowered now, and she found herself revealing everything. "I see him everywhere I go, in everyone. I see him in my dreams. He's hurt. He'd bleeding. He's reaching out to me and no matter how far I stretch myself I can't reach him." A tear fell down her cheek as she looked down at her clenched hands in her lap. "I wake up just as he dies."
The nightmares had started two nights after he'd been kidnapped. Ever since they plagued her sleep on a daily basis.
"Do you think he's dead?" Brennan burst out.
Angela turned sheet white at the thought. "Do you?"
"I don't know," she spoke in a strained voice. Logically she knew there was little chance he could have survived his ordeal, especially considering it had been a year since anyone had seen him. However she just couldn't help but to allow herself to hope. "No matter what the outcome, I just want to find him."