Disclaimer: All original characters and such belong to Fox. I own the characters I created as well as the new plot.
Summary: Booth and Bones seem to have a solid start to a case when they examine a skeleton that comes with a college ID. But any hope of a straightforward case evaporates when they attempt to make notifications…
Chronology: Probably current season
Pairings: None right now.
Rating: T for situations and probably some mild cursing.
Author's Note: A few of my stories are getting close to finished, so I'm allowing myself another new one. Honestly, I thought I could put off a Bones story for months (really like the show but it's not my favorite), but this idea has been nagging at me lately and the other night I sat down and just started typing. I wrote almost this entire chapter in under two hours. Craziness! I apologize for my lack of subway knowledge, and I'm not sure how well I've created Brennan's reaction to the last part of the chapter. I haven't seen every Bones episode and I'm still trying to get inside the characters' heads. I also had to take some liberties with timing and evidence and such to get the story moving along.
All this said, I hope you enjoy the first chapter! Reviews are appreciated.
The Student in the Subway
The skeleton had been found in a dirty alcove just around the corner from a major subway stop. Booth had had a terrible time trying to coordinate with the local cops to reroute the civilian traffic attempting to use the area and ended up making dozens of round trips to escort some person who had somehow missed all the signs and crime scene tape back to a main terminal. Then he'd had to work crowd control almost single-handedly when a load of passengers was let off at the stop without warning. On top of this, he hadn't gotten a good night's sleep and hadn't had a chance to grab any coffee.
Needless to say, he wasn't terribly patient and paced violently back and forth in the lab as Brennan and Hodgins separated the rest of the remaining flesh from the skeleton inside the garbage bag they'd found it in. Angela already had the cleaned skull and was working on a reconstruction to verify that the remains matched the photograph and description on the Georgetown University ID that had been found inside the bag.
"How much longer is this gonna take?" he asked for the hundredth time.
"Geez Booth," Hodgins muttered. "Do you want this done right or fast?"
The agent scowled at the entomologist, who rolled his eyes and shook his head at Dr. Brennan.
"The lack of sleep and stimulants from the caffeine he normally consumes are affecting his behavior," she said quietly in an attempt to relieve the seemingly harsh words from their normally amenable FBI counterpart.
"I heard that!" he called back at them from where he stood by the steps leading up to area where they had the skeleton and the trash bag on one of their tables.
Hodgins chose not to make a second reply and continued separating biological material from bits of cloth and plastic.
"The skeleton is that of a Caucasian female approximately eighteen to twenty years of age," Brennan reported, finally having the time to double check her first impressions. "That is consistent with the information found on the ID card with the body."
"It's definitely her," came a fourth voice, and they all looked up to see Angela striding in, holding a manila folder and a large cardboard cup. She stopped to swipe her card to gain access to the area where her colleagues stood working on the remains, pausing to shove the cup into Booth's hands. "Coffee. Do us all a favor. Please."
The agent's stressed face softened slightly. "Angela, you're a saint."
"Yeah, I know."
She swiped her card and got an affirmative beep and she hurried up the stairs to join Hodgins and Brennan. She pulled a slick 8 ½ by 10 sheet of paper from the folder with a sheet of regular matter paper. The slick sheet bore the image of a young woman with a thin oval face, medium length dark brown hair, high cheekbones, light skin, and light brown eyes. The plain paper bore a reproduction of the ID card they'd found. "Meet Tiffany Collins," she said a little sadly. "Freshman at Georgetown University, nineteen years old."
"You've confirmed a match between the skull and the ID?" Brennan asked excitedly.
"Yup. Went to the top of my priority list."
"She's not listed in missing persons," Booth added from ground level. "I think we need to head over to Georgetown and see why, since it had to have taken more than overnight to turn her into a mushy skeleton."
"I approximate the remains are at least a week old," Brennan said, peeling off the pair of light blue latex gloves she wore. "The garbage bag accelerated the decomposition, but it is highly unlikely she has been dead for any less than seven days."
"Right. Let's go Bones!" Booth turned to head out the automatic doors of the Jeffersonian, and Bones hurried after him, peeling off her lab coat and draping it over a chair as she went.
"Please continue separating the biological material, Dr. Hodgins," she called over her shoulder.
They spent several minutes tied up in the busy main office before Booth got irritated and flashed his FBI badge. They suddenly moved up to the head of the line and got copies of Tiffany Collins' course schedule as well as the name of her advisor, one Professor Martin Daniels.
They approached an elderly man in a brown jacket with elbow patches loaded down with books in a hallway in the history building where they'd been told they could find him.
"Professor Martin Daniels?" Booth asked.
The old man turned, looking confused. "Yes?"
"Agent Seeley Booth." He displayed his credentials. "Dr. Temperance Brennan." He nodded towards his partner.
Now the professor looked surprised. "What can I do for you?"
"We're investigating the death of a Georgetown student, found as a skeleton in a subway station."
"That's awful," he said, looking truly shocked and dismayed. "How do you know they're from Georgetown?"
"We found a college ID with the remains," Brennan told the man, not certain how he might emotionally react. "The main office tells us that she is one of your students."
"Oh my," the old man replied, pushing his thick square glasses back up on his nose. He brushed at his bushy gray mustache, either scratching an itch or a nervous gesture. His eyes betrayed his concern, and she could tell that he was one of the professors she'd never understood in her own college days: the kind that treated their students like family and became overly involved in their lives. She hadn't seen the point and felt it was an inefficient way of communicating information to the student body. The light glinted off his bald head as he tried to peer at the paper she held. "That's awful. Who is it?"
"Tiffany Collins," she said, watching for his reaction like Booth had taught her.
His reaction was far from either one of them expected. He laughed.
"Is her death funny to you, Professor Daniels?" Booth gave him a harsh look.
"What?" He looked up. "Oh, no. No, god no! It's just…I'm sorry. Is this some sort of practical joke? I didn't think pledging was going on this late in the school year."
Booth frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Well, if she's dead, she's a very busy dead person." He pointed to the classroom door behind him with his thumb. "She's in class right now."
The FBI agent stared for a second. "Right now? She's in class, right now, right in there?"
"Sure, yeah." The professor adjusted the stack of books under his arm and reached for the door handle. "Probably the best student I've got in all of 'European History to 1645'. Come on in and see for yourself."
Booth exchanged a look with Brennan. "I think we will."
The professor laughed a little again, and shouldered open the door. They followed him inside and looked around what resembled an ancient Greek amphitheater, rows of desks rising in even levels in a semi-circle configuration. Students were bent over notebooks or cellphones, some of them still in sweatpants or pajamas with unbrushed hair. Brennan had forgotten that a majority of college students considered anything before noon as "early" and the sight of half-sleeping young adults at 8:30 in the morning was a little startling.
Professor Daniels dumped his books and papers on the desk in the front and center of the room and glanced upwards at his students before he turned to a chalkboard behind the desk and began writing an outline on it with a stubby piece of chalk. He made fat bulletpoints but the writing itself was thin and a little shaky. "She's here at 8:15 on the nose everyday," he added, scribbling the words 'Battle Bannockburn – Scotland – 1314' underneath what Brennan could barely make out as 'Avignonese Papacy – France – 1309'. "I'm lucky if some of these guys show up by quarter to nine."
"And which one is she again?" Booth asked pointedly.
"Oh, sorry." Professor Daniels turned to face the wall of students and adjusted his glasses again. "There, that's her," he said, pointing. "Fourth row on the end to the left. Tiffany!"
A girl with shoulder length dark brown hair wearing a white Georgetown hoodie glanced up, pencil poised over a notebook page. She had high cheekbones, a light complexion, and a thin face, and while it was hard to tell from a distance, she seemed to have light brown eyes. In other words, she was the very image they'd found on the college ID with the skeleton and was an exact match to the reconstruction Angela had created from the skull.
"Professor?" she asked, her voice soft and clear, with no trace of sleep clinging to it. Brennan was impressed to see that she seemed to be a diligent and productive student with none of the bad habits of her half-awake peers, though the matter of the skeletal identification and her apparent status among the living were very much at odds and would need to be reconciled before she could form an accurate opinion of the girl. "Is something wrong?"
"No, no," he said with a wave and a smile, further proving his fondness for the student. "In fact, your last essay blew me away. Your presentation of the factors leading up to the Great European Famine was practically revolutionary and your prose was flawless and compelling. I really think you should submit it to that journal I was telling you about, the one that—"
At a look and obnoxious throat-clearing from Booth, the professor regained his thought process once again. "Oh, ah, yes. These people would like to have a word with you."
Tiffany was paying attention, but she didn't move from her seat. "About what?"
"Oh, some silly little mix-up. It's probably something to do with pledging, or maybe the seniors have started pranking early this year." He waved his hand in indication of how ridiculous he thought the whole matter was.
The girl looked at them with a questioning tilt of her head, seemingly unwilling to make the trip down the stairs without further explanation.
Booth pulled his black leather ID holder from inside his suit jacket and flipped it open to display the gold shield and photo identification card. "Agent Seeley Booth with the FBI. This here's Dr. Temperance Brennan from the Jeffersonian," he added with a nod of his head toward Bones. She supplied a nod of her own to indicate to the student that the information her partner was providing was correct.
With the word "FBI", Tiffany's sleepy classmates all seemed to magically perk up and they either stared at her or stared at the agent. Tiffany herself seemed suddenly wary and extra alert, sitting up even straighter than she had been before.
"We just need to ask you some questions," Booth added, trying to seem calm and unthreatening. Tiffany finally made a slow move to get up from her chair, but froze when Booth added, in an attempt to move things along, "Do you have your student ID card?"
For a moment, she stared at him, her lips parted slightly as though to speak. Then, without warning, she bolted from the room like she'd been stung, sprinting up the stairs to an exit in the back of the room.
"Oh come on!" Booth shouted to no one in particular, clearly not relishing a foot chase after all the back and forth and stairs in the subway terminal where they'd uncovered the skeleton. He took off after her anyway, yelling behind him to Bones, "See if you can cut her off!"
She headed back out the way they'd come, leaving a stunned a professor and a suddenly very attentive class behind her. She knew there was no use telling Booth she didn't exactly have the floor plan of the university memorized, so she improvised, using what knowledge she had, simple building construction logic, and glimpses of the campus map she caught on the walls as she ran. She guessed the girl would likely head for the road, either to catch a ride or retrieve her own vehicle from a nearby parking lot. The building she had class in didn't provide many opportune hiding places or easy getaways, and the dorms were at least a bus ride or very long walk away. She hurried out to the sidewalk, where her suspicions were confirmed when a blur of white hoodie and light blue jeans with a banner of dark hair came busting violently out of an emergency exit nearby, and alarm began to sound inside the building. Unfortunately, she hadn't managed to get ahead of the girl and had to join Booth in pursuing her as he burst out of the door several steps behind her.
Booth's steps pounded heavily on the cement, and Brennan realized with a twinge just how poorly four-inch heels, even on boots, were for chases, especially when the object of the pursuit wore white and gray athletic sneakers. "Stop! Federal agent!" her partner yelled out, but it only seemed to spur the girl to run faster. She turned a corner, and Booth groaned, fearing they'd lose her.
"Campus is slow at this hour," Brennan panted. "And she is clothed in white. That may assist us in tracking her."
Booth nodded and seemed about to call out more instructions, when they heard a loud, echoing crack that could only be gunfire. She jumped slightly and stumbled a little, but Booth's face was the only thing that betrayed any surprise. His pace was unhindered and he naturally and easily slipped into caution mode from years of practical experience, pulling his gun and flattening himself against the side of the building to their right that made the corner Tiffany had turned. Brennan nearly ran into him as she tried to stop suddenly. With a quick movement perfected by years of pursuits and training, he tipped his head around the corner momentarily to check for an assailant. When he saw no one and no weapons, he took a second, slightly longer look.
This time he spotted the girl laying flat on her back on the sidewalk, hands clutched to her chest and a red stain rapidly spreading across her white sweatshirt.
"Dammit," he hissed. He twisted around the corner, keeping his gun drawn and checking carefully for any shooters who might still be in the area, ducked into alcoves or hidden around other corners of the tan brick buildings filling the area, as he approached the prone figure. When he didn't find anyone, he holstered his weapon and knelt next to her, trying to find the wound. "Bones, watch yourself," he warned as she followed him to the spot where he knelt. "I think they're gone, they got their target, but I can't be sure." He pulled at the girl's hands and the sweatshirt, desperately trying to find and plug the wound, while also fumbling for his phone.
Tiffany stared up at them, her eyes filled with a new fear and blood bubbling out of the corner of her mouth as she coughed for air.
"Booth, I believe she's been shot through a lung," Brennan said with concern as she knelt. "The shot looks to be high on the chest…he may have also clipped her heart." She moved his hands away, hers more experienced, and located the entrance wound and pressed two fingers to it tightly. "She could bleed out," she added, glancing up at her partner as he stood and pressed his phone to one ear.
He nodded, his face strained as he paced, seemingly trying to will someone to pick up his call on the other end. "Yeah, this is Agent Seeley Booth," he suddenly barked into the phone. "I need an ambulance immediately at Georgetown University outside Finley Hall for an eighteen to nineteen year old female with a gunshot wound to the chest, possible pulmonary and cardiac damage! I want a trauma team standing by!"
Brennan stared into the fearful eyes of the girl they'd been pursuing just moments before. "Tiffany?" she said, trying to keep her conscious. "Tiffany, you need to stay with us. My partner has called for an ambulance and for a trauma team at the hospital. You'll be fine, all right? Tiffany, look at me." She didn't actually know what the results would be, but she knew that giving the teenager odds of survival minus complications was not an effective way to make her remain calm. "Come on, stay with me," Brennan begged the girl as her eyes started to roll in her head. She used her free hand to stroke the loose dark hair fanned on the sidewalk, desperately trying to coax the girl away from the brink of unconsciousness and unsure why this girl fighting for her life frightened her more than it usually did.
"Hang on Tiffany," Booth added, kneeling back down. "Help's coming."
Brennan exchanged a look with him. This was much, much more than a misplaced or stolen card.
Author's Note: Hope you liked it! Constructive feedback and reviews are greatly appreciated. Thanks for reading!