Hi everyone! I know it's been a ridiculously, ridiculously long time since I've posted anything here but that's because I've been working on this for a long time now. This is my first venture into a case story, but rest assured, it's very, very character-driven. I've tried to create a good case/character balance, but since these characters are what I'm good at, there's a lot of them in this story. So hopefully those of you readers out there who aren't really into case fiction will give this a chance.
And I'd like to say up front that I realize this may not be the most realistic premise in the world. I live near Disney World, I go all the time, so I know that there's always something going on and there's plenty of security. I kept all of this in mind while writing this, of course, but realistically, I have no idea if this would ever really happen. But it's fun to imagine, and this is fiction, and I really wanted to get Booth and Brennan to one of my favorite places, so please keep that in mind! Also, I am a Writing major, so any science in this story comes mostly from Google searches.
As for setting, this one's set in between "The Witch in the Wardrobe" but before "The Boy with the Answer." So…after the 100th, after Angela & Hodgins get married, but before Brennan starts to think about leaving.
One last note - today is my friend Michelle's birthday, so I'll dedicate this chapter to her! As always, Bones (and Disney, in this case) isn't mine and please review! I hope you enjoy!
The squeals died down and laughter took over as the large boat with six rows of seats splashed down at the bottom of the fourteen foot waterfall early Monday morning. Each of the six rows was filled with people of all ages, many wearing Mickey Mouse ear hats in a variety of styles and colors. The boat turned a corner, steadily moving along its tracks to the dark room designed to make riders feel as if they were right in the middle of a fight between two warring pirate ships.
The room was mostly dark, with a large rocking pirate ship off to the left. A few animatronic pirates were stationed on the rocking ship, their sound boxes calling out to their enemies. The sounds of cannon shots filled the air as a burst of water shot up near the boat, indicating that the fake cannonball had just narrowly missed the small boat full of passengers. A young girl in the second row squealed as she was splashed with water.
The families' looks of awe and amazement continued even when the ride became a bit bumpy; everyone assumed that it was part of the experience. A few screams could be heard behind them as another boat fell down the dark waterfall. After the passengers grew quiet, something bubbled out of the water as the first boat slowed down.
"Daddy, what's that?" the young girl asked, pointing.
The man sitting next to her pulled out a flashlight and shone it onto the object. "It's just a bone, honey. I guess one of the skeleton pirates is broken," he said. "We'll tell someone on our way out."
"Oh, cool," a teenager boy behind them mumbled. He leaned over the side of the boat, eagerly grabbing at his new souvenir.
"Don't take that!" his mother hissed.
"But they don't sell these in the gift shop!" the young man protested.
He pulled the leg out of the water and held it over the side of boat as it dripped. When the boat finally made it into the next room, this one well-lit, he turned the treasure around to examine his prize. Everyone in the boat began screaming when they saw the leg still had a considerable amount of decaying flesh on it and reached the same conclusion: the bone was definitely not a piece of the pirates ride.
About an hour later, in Washington DC, Special Agent Seeley Booth swiped his card through the scanner and hopped up onto the forensic platform in the Jeffersonian Institute. All of his squints, including the assistant-intern-of-the-week, were already there, working on a case from limbo.
"Hey, Booth," Cam Saroyan said. "What's up?"
"We got a case," he said, a huge grin on his face.
"Why do you look so excited?" Temperance Brennan asked, looking at her victim's skull.
"Because of where it's at," he grinned.
Brennan set down the skull and sighed. "Uh oh…I'm not going to like this, am I?"
"A body was found in the Pirates of the Caribbean ride at Walt Disney World!" he revealed. Angela's mouth dropped open, Cam and Hodgins stopped walking across the platform, and Brennan seemed entirely unaffected.
"What?" Hodgins asked, finally breaking the silence.
"Well, that's a new one," Cam muttered.
"And we've gotta go check it out," Booth grinned. "In Disney World!"
"Somebody killed someone in the Happiest Place on Earth?" Angela asked, turning her look of shock to one of utter disgust. "I hate people."
"Actually, the Walt Disney World resort in Florida is referred to as the Most Magical Place on Earth," Vincent Nigel-Murray interjected. "The Happiest Place on Earth is Disneyland in California."
"Like that makes it any better?" Angela asked.
"I am not going to Florida," Brennan protested.
"Yeah, you are," Booth nodded.
"Why is this a federal case? Surely there's a fairly large police force capable of handling one murder around a place like Disney World," Brennan said.
"The Magic Kingdom, which is home to the Pirates of the Caribbean ride, is the number one most-visited theme park in the world," Nigel-Murray said. "People from all over the globe could be there on any given day."
"The kid pretty much nailed it," Booth said.
"So why did you get it?" Brennan asked. Booth groaned.
"You're really going to make him say it?" Cam laughed.
When Brennan didn't respond, Booth sighed and put on his best charm smile. "You, Bones. They need you…specifically asked for you and the Jeffersonian, in fact."
"Oh," Brennan smiled, suddenly pleased with that answer.
"So go pack your bags because the plane leaves in a little over ninety minutes."
"Lucky," Hodgins muttered.
"You're coming, too, Hodgins," Booth smiled.
"Wh…out-of-state field trip?" Hodgins said with excitement. "Really?"
"It's a boat ride, so unless you trust FBI Forensics to properly gather your particulates…" Booth started.
"No way!" Hodgins said, standing and pulling his latex gloves off.
"I'm going, too," Angela declared.
"Why?" Cam asked.
"My best friend and my husband are going to Disney World without me? I don't think so," Angela said, crossing her arms.
"Ange, we're going to work," Brennan said. "Not to play around in the theme parks."
"Yeah, Ange, I had to convince the Jeffersonian that Hodgins going to Florida was essential to the case. They're only going to cover him and Bones," Booth said.
"I'll cover her," Hodgins said immediately. Angela planted a kiss to her husband's cheek and raised her eyebrows at Booth.
"Fine," Booth said.
"Yes!" Angela exclaimed.
"Do you want to go, too, Cam?" Booth asked. Cam snickered.
"Hour-long lines, unbearable temperatures, crying kids, and short-tempered parents? I'll pass," Cam said.
"Don't ruin this for us," Angela said.
"Yeah, Cam," Booth said. "Such a Debbie Downer."
"I don't know what that means," Brennan said.
"People, please try to remember that someone has died, and you're not just going on a government-funded vacation," Cam said.
"We totally know that," Hodgins said.
"Okay…Squints…go pack and get back here in thirty minutes!" Booth said. "Oh, and nobody tell Sweets where we're going until after we get there."
"Why?" Brennan asked.
"He's twelve. He'll want to come and make us buy him Goofy ears and cotton candy," Booth said. Angela, Hodgins, and Cam giggled, while even Brennan broke a smile. "Now go!"
Angela and Hodgins quickly sprinted out of the Jeffersonian, while Brennan slowly walked down the stairs.
"Just to be clear, I am only going to Florida to work. I have no interest in any rides," Brennan said.
"Of course you don't," Booth said, pushing her towards the door.
Two hours later, the four were in the sitting in first class on a non-stop flight to Orlando. Much to Booth's delight, due to the short notice on booking the flight, the airline had only first class seats available. Hodgins was asleep on an aisle seat, with Angela next to him, while Booth and Brennan were seated in the row behind them. They had gotten into an argument over who would sit near the window almost immediately after boarding the plane. Booth was currently pouting in the aisle seat because Brennan had won. Angela broke the tension when she popped up behind the back of her seat, a handful of printed online Disney information in her hands.
"Hey, Booth, we're staying on-site, right?" Angela asked.
"Yeah, Disney's putting us up," Booth said.
"Do you know which hotel?"
"No idea," he said.
"I hope it's the Contemporary. The monorail to Magic Kingdom literally goes right through it!" she said.
"Ange…" Brennan said; she was about to start another 'work first, play later' lecture.
"You will embrace the Disney magic when we get there…just you wait."
It was just beginning to get dark when the shuttle bus from the airport dropped them off at the Grand Floridian Resort and Spa. They carried their luggage into the lobby and headed to the front desk to check in.
"We're with the Jeffersonian," Booth said before the girl at the desk could greet them.
She entered some information onto her computer and looked up at them with a smile. "Yes, Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan, we were able to get you two adjacent rooms, standard, with a theme park view. If you go onto your balconies at ten tonight…" she began.
"Whoa, hold on," Booth said. "Someone was supposed to call and tell you we would need three rooms because Dr. Jack Hodgins and Ms. Angela Montenegro would be joining us."
The girl looked at her computer again. "We…appear to have not received such a call."
"Fine, just add another room," Booth said.
"Unfortunately, we are all booked. It's our peak season, and you have the last rooms."
"Peak season?" he asked. "It's mid-March."
"Spring Break…big tourist time around here," she said.
"How many beds are in the standard room?" Brennan asked, cutting in before Booth could begin yelling.
"Two queens," the girl said.
"We'll share, Booth. It's no big deal," Brennan said. "Put Agent Booth and I in the same room, and add Dr. Hodgins and Ms. Montenegro to the second."
"Okay," the girl said, typing. "Here are your keys. Enjoy your stay at the Grand Floridian!"
After leaving their luggage in their spacious rooms, they took a boat to the Magic Kingdom. Booth flashed his badge and the Disney employee let them all through the entrance gates. Booth picked up a map of the park as they stepped onto Main Street and lead them to the Pirates ride, located in the Adventureland section of the park. When they got there, a man was yelling at a young Disney worker.
"What do you mean it's closed?" he yelled. "It was open this morning!"
"Maybe you should've ridden it this morning," the worker said in a small voice.
"There was a forty-five minute line! We were told there was a shorter line at night. This ride is the whole reason I let my kids talk me into bringing them to this god-forsaken park!"
"Why is he so edgy?" Brennan asked Booth.
"This is one of the most popular rides in the park, Bones," Booth said. "Especially since the movies came out."
"What movies?" Brennan asked.
Before Booth could either answer her or make fun of her, a middle-aged man and woman walked up to them.
"Are you from the Jeffersonian?" the woman asked.
"Yeah," Booth said, pulling out his badge. "Special Agent Seeley Booth. This here's my partner, Dr. Temperance Brennan and her associates, Dr. Jack Hodgins and Ms. Angela Montenegro."
"Great," she said. "I'm Janet Patel, the head of PR for Walt Disney World, and this is Ronald Leto, the President of Theme Park Attractions."
"To thank you for coming on such short notice, I'd like to give each of you one of these," Ron said, handing them each a theme park ticket. "Those are good for seven days, no expiration, valid at any of our theme or water parks."
"Wow, thanks," Angela said, looking it over. Hodgins echoed her gratitude.
"Where's the body?" Brennan asked.
Janet and Ron began leading them through the exit of the ride. Brennan was in the lead, her friends following her.
"The body was found towards the beginning of the attraction," Ron began.
"Then why are we going through the exit?" Brennan asked.
"The body was found at the bottom of a fourteen-foot waterfall," he said.
"So?" Brennan asked.
"Do you want to go down the waterfall, Bones?" Booth asked.
"No," Brennan said.
"There we go," Booth said. "Do we have a recovery team in place yet?"
"FBI Forensics got here half an hour ago," Janet said.
"You let them start recovery without us?" Brennan asked Booth.
"It's Johnny Depp!" Angela exclaimed before Booth could answer.
"What?" Brennan asked startled.
"The animatronic…from the movie," Booth said, pointing at the figure, the last thing riders see before they exit the ride. "You must have at least seen a poster or something."
The group paused as Angela ran up to the stationary figure and smiled as Hodgins snapped her picture. They continued moving backwards throughout the ride until they came to the recovery site. The lights had been turned on, and a few FBI guys were sifting through the water for bone fragments.
"What'cha got for me, guys?" Booth asked.
"Most of the body has been recovered. It's mostly intact," someone called.
"We were told not to drain the water until you were able to collect samples," Ron said.
"That's right," Hodgins said. He put on his gumboots and hopped into the shallow water.
An FBI tech waded over to the new arrivals and lifted a fleshy, decomposing foot onto the floor next to Brennan. Angela looked away.
"Okay, ew," she said, turning towards the exit.
"Where are you going?" Brennan asked.
"Fantasyland," she said, walking away. "You can find me on the carousel."
"Alright, Bones, do your thing," Booth said as he pulled out his notepad.
Brennan knelt down to examine the body. The torso, arms, pelvis, and left leg were all intact and laying next to the newly recovered right extremities. The skull and the leg the Disney visitor had found earlier that day lay above the larger pieces of the body. She looked at the remains for about a minute before turning to Booth.
"The victim is…" Brennan began.
"Whoa! She can't do that here," Janet said.
"Examine the body? Why not?" Booth asked. "Isn't that why we're here?"
"Nobody dies at Disney World," Janet said.
"This person did," Brennan said, standing.
"Nobody can be officially declared dead in Disney World," Janet clarified. "That must be done off of our property."
"I don't have to declare her dead. It's obvious that she is no longer alive," Brennan said.
"She?" Booth asked.
"Yes," Brennan said. "Can they do this?"
"They kind of set up their own mini-government down here, so…pretty much," Booth answered, bracing himself for the fury that was about to come.
Rather than loudly protesting, Brennan angrily glanced between Booth and the Disney employees before dramatically snapping off her gloves.
"I'm going to go find Angela," she muttered to Booth. "Since these morons won't let me do my job."
"Oh, but I thought you weren't interested in rides!" Booth taunted as she walked at the speed of light towards the exit. He watched her go, then turned to Janet and Ron. "We're going to need a lab set up for Dr. Brennan."
Brennan caught up with Angela as she was about to enter Fantasyland. Angela gasped when Brennan said hello.
"God, sweetie, you scared me to death!" she exclaimed. "What's going on?"
"Oh, I'm useless back there, so I thought I'd join you," Brennan said.
Angela linked arms with Brennan as they entered Fantasyland and began pulling her towards the short carousel line.
"They asked for you by name. How are you useless?" Angela asked.
"Apparently nobody dies in Disney World, so I can't examine anything until I'm off Disney property. It's ridiculous," Brennan said.
"It's to preserve the magic, sweetie," Angela said.
"I understand that, but regardless of where I draw my conclusions, that girl, more likely than not, still di…" Brennan was cut off as Angela clamped her hand over her mouth.
"Children," Angela said. She removed her hand as they walked towards their chosen horses. "Discretion."
"Right," Brennan said, climbing onto the horse next to Angela.
The boys arrived in Fantasyland forty minutes later. Hodgins walked one way around the carousel, while Booth took the other. They met on the other side, between the carousel and the Dumbo ride.
"Do you see them?" Hodgins asked, watching the carousel go round. "Angie said this is where she'd be, right?"
"Yeah," Booth said. "Is there more than one carousel in this place?"
"Hey, Hodgins!" Angela called.
Booth and Hodgins turned to find Angela and Brennan flying low in an orange-clothed, giant plastic Dumbo. They grinned as they watched the girls pilot their Dumbo back to the top of the ride. Angela leaned towards Brennan and held out her camera, snapping a photo of the two of them on the elephant ride.
"She's smiling…" Hodgins said, referring to Brennan.
"She won't be when she gets off that elephant," Booth said.
They left the Magic Kingdom after the girls got off their ride and headed back to the Grand Floridian. They decided to pick up sub sandwiches from one of the hotel's quick-service restaurants and eat in their rooms. At ten, they gathered on their respective balconies to watch Magic Kingdom's nightly fireworks show. Angela and Hodgins snuggled up together in a chair on their balcony, while Brennan leaned against the railing on hers. Booth walked over and leaned next to her.
"What can you tell me about the victim?" he asked.
"I looked at the remains for three seconds," she laughed. Booth shot her a look that said he knew better than to accept that answer. She smiled slightly. "Female. Caucasian. Early-to-mid twenties. There were no obvious wounds, so I really can't speculate on cause of death at this point. I'd estimate that the death was recent, though. No more than…five days ago, however, that's not a one-hundred-percent certainty. Hodgins or Cam will be able to be more accurate on that."
Booth jotted everything she said down in his notepad and smiled. "That's my girl."
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