The Bonesology Writers Collective presents:
The Satisfaction in the Summer: Bones Season 6.5
A group of us have gotten together to reboot Season Six. We have an entire, 15 episode season planned with different twists and turns and cases, but with some elements of the original season included.
Our plan is to post a new episode every Thursday throughout the summer at Bonesology (link in our profile) and every Friday here at Fan Fiction.
TheValiumsofa helping us to make sure we keep everything straight.
Season 6.5 Episode One: The Method in the Madness ~ Written by NatesMama
Temperance Brennan sat in quiet contemplation on the bench near the coffee cart. She tried to catalogue all of the emotions that she was feeling at that moment and was struggling mightily. She was anxious, that much she knew for sure. A little worried, as the possibility that he wouldn't show up was always in the back of her mind. Undeniably pleased to be home. That last one had truly surprised her. She had never been so relieved to be done with a dig as she was on the day they packed up their gear and prepared to leave Indonesia. But now, sitting here waiting for Booth, another more definable emotion took precedence over all the others. Joy.
One year from today…at the coffee cart…one revolution of the Earth around the Sun…eye contact and evolution. The last days she had spent here in DC had been swirling around in her head for the last hour. For the last 8,760 hours, really. She hadn't been in Maluku more than a week before she began feeling as if she had made a mistake. Between the long, hot days and cooler, lonely nights, she thought constantly of Booth and his safety. She knew that he wouldn't go against his nature and listen to her insistence that he try not to be the hero, and that knowledge gave her more than her fair share of sleepless nights, tossing and turning on her mosquito net-draped bed. Her decision to refrain from contacting anyone in the hopes that she could regain her equilibrium and her legendary compartmentalization weighed heavily on her conscience. At first, she thought the isolation was necessary in order to find her balance. Then, after several months had passed and she continued to feel as unmoored as she had on day one, she assumed that it was too late to try and reconnect with everyone. And after that, there was Richard to occupy what little free time she had, and what spare emotion she could part with.
With a resigned sigh, Brennan sat back and prepared herself for the possibility that at the end of the day, she was going to find herself sitting on this bench all alone.
As Booth exited the airplane, one destination in mind, the man who had been sitting next to him on the flight from Atlanta grabbed his elbow.
"Sergeant Major?" Booth turned and smiled at his fellow traveler, trying to be as polite as possible to the man who had introduced himself as Jim Taylor.
"Mr. Taylor." He shook his hand cursorily, hoping to get to baggage claim as fast as possible.
Taylor smiled, knowing that the soldier in front of him had a very important meeting to get to. "I apologize for keeping you; I just wanted to thank you again for the conversation and the company. And to tell you that I hope everything works out for you." He patted Booth on the shoulder. "And thank you for your service. We are in your debt."
Booth nodded. "It was nice to meet you too. Thank you." And with that, he turned and practically ran for the lower level of the airport, leaving a chuckling Taylor in his wake.
While Booth stood outside at the taxi stand, his thoughts inevitably wandered to Brennan. In the preceding twelve months, Booth had kept in touch with and had received calls or letters from everyone else in his life…Parker, Cam, Hodgins and Angela, Sweets…but not one word from Bones. To be fair, he hadn't exactly made the effort to contact her, either. She said she wanted perspective, and he was damned well going to give it to her. But after a year of ducking bullets and insurgents and jackass CO's and several sweaty, mindless nights spent with one very willing and very blonde embedded reporter, Booth was convinced more than ever that wherever Temperance Brennan was, he wanted to be. And that meant that right then, he had an appointment to keep.
Checking her watch for the umpteenth time, Brennan began to accept the fact that Booth wasn't coming. With a resigned sigh, she stood and headed for the coffee cart. It had been a year since she'd had a really good latte, and she decided that at the very least she could try and salvage some of her homecoming with the comforting drink.
The vendor smiled at her as she pulled her wallet out of her coat pocket. "What can I get you, ma'am?"
Brennan looked over the lengthy menu for a moment. "A soy latte, no foam, with almond milk, please."
"Aren't you going to order me anything, Bones?"
For a moment, Brennan's ears were disconnected from her brain and she was convinced that the voice she had heard was simply a figment of her imagination. But almost simultaneously, the hairs on the back of her neck stood on end, and she knew…
"Booth!" She whipped around and threw herself into his arms, ignoring the soft 'oof' he made as he dropped his duffle and wrapped his arms around her tightly, exhaling deeply for the first time in months.
"Hey, Bones. Did ya miss me?" He pulled back to look her in the eye and grinned.
Brennan couldn't help but smile back. "Not at all."
"Good, cause I didn't miss you, either." Still smiling, Booth lowered his partner back to the ground and nodded over her shoulder at the barista. "I'll have a coffee, black, please."
The man nodded and poured another cup to go with Brennan's, then handed them over, waving off Brennan's offer of money. "No charge. Welcome home, son."
Taking the cups, Booth smiled. "Thanks. It's good to be home." He turned to a still-grinning Brennan and gestured to the bench. "Do you want to sit for a bit, Bones? Catch up a little?"
"Sure." She picked up Booth's duffle and carried it to their seats while he juggled the hot cups. Once they were settled, Booth handed her the latte and took a sip of his own brew.
"Ahhh. Real coffee. Thank God." He sighed and gave Brennan a sideways glance. "You look good, Bones."
"You too, Booth. You look…very fit." An uncharacteristic blush colored her cheeks, surprising Booth.
"Yeah…not much else to do out in the desert but work out, you know." He took another sip of coffee, giving Brennan a chance to get her composure back. It also gave him a few moments to think about what he wanted to tell her about his time in Afghanistan. When he'd first hit the airport, he thought about explaining his relationship with Hannah, but the closer he got to the reflecting pool, the more out-of-place that information seemed. Today was supposed to be all about them, not about his temporary fling in the desert.
Brennan nodded. "I am very happy to see that you are, obviously, uninjured." She paused, unsure. "I mean…you are, correct? Uninjured?"
Booth nodded into his cup. "Oh, yeah…yeah. Not a scratch, Bones. I promise. My job was mostly administrative, anyway."
"Good." Brennan felt the knot in her chest loosen just a little bit, the guilt that had been eating at her since they parted at the airport a year ago starting to release its hold on her. She studied Booth closely, trying to see if there was anything else different about him, but she could find nothing significant. It crossed her mind to talk about her brief relationship with Richard, but this didn't seem the time or the place. Perhaps later, when they were back to their routine. She only hoped that Booth would understand.
Sensing Brennan's reluctance, Booth asked about her dig, curious as to what they'd found. As he suspected, her face lit up and she excitedly described the discoveries her team had unearthed. They had not been able to prove a true link in the evolutionary chain, but the venture had been classified as a success nonetheless.
"What about you, Booth? I know you said your job was managerial, but did you meet anyone interesting?" Brennan sipped the last of her latte and turned to dispose of the cup, missing the shadow that passed over Booth's face at her question.
"Uh, you know…the usual. Lots of huge spiders, young kids who have no business being in a war zone, interesting locals…you know."
Brennan nodded. "I imagine that the days could be very tedious. That happened in Indonesia as well, as beautiful as the area is. And especially if you spend your days with Daisy Wick."
Booth laughed, shaking his head. "I still can't believe you voluntarily spent an entire year with that girl, Bones. She's just…wow."
"I shouldn't make fun of Daisy; she was very helpful on the dig. I could have survived quite well without hearing her lament the loss of her relationship with Sweets, but…she was tolerable."
"Yeah, I heard from Sweets about that. Apparently, he's dating an agent with the Bureau."
"Daisy told me. He wrote her a letter, which was kind of him, but…she was very distraught." Brennan looked down at her hands, twisting them together. "She realized very early on that she had made a mistake in leaving."
"Yeah?" Booth asked softly, the double inference not lost on him.
"Yes." Brennan was quiet for a moment. "I am sorry I didn't contact you, Booth. I was…confused. And lost. And I just…"
"Needed some perspective, I know." He gave up fighting the urge and reached up to brush her new bangs off her forehead. "I understand, Bones. I didn't like it, but I get it."
Her earnest, hopeful look told him that he'd said the right thing. "Really? You're not…mad?"
"Maybe a little hurt, if I'm being honest." Booth smiled to deflect the sadness that crossed Brennan's face. "But I'm already past that, Bones…okay? I mean, you kept in touch with everyone but me, sure…but-"
"Oh, no…I didn't. I didn't contact anyone. It wasn't just you, Booth."
"Oh." Booth rubbed the side of his nose with a knuckle and frowned a bit. "So you didn't even talk to Angela? Cam?"
Shaking her head, Brennan suddenly wished she still had her cup to focus on. "I…realize that it was selfish of me not to keep in touch, but I just…Angela sometimes bulldozes over me and-"
"Steamrolls, Bones. She steamrolls over you." Booth realized, at that familiar, once-again-correcting-Temperance-Brennan moment, just how damn much he had missed his partner.
"Right. The point is, I needed to work things out on my own, with no outside influence. And Angela tends to insert her opinion whether I ask for it or not. As much as I love her, I needed to do this on my own." She looked Booth in the eye and hoped he would understand her total isolation, even if deep down even she didn't, not really.
He nodded, absently, still trying to wrap his head around the idea of not talking to your loved ones for an entire year. "No, I get it Bones. It's fine." He decided a little white lie was the way to go at the moment. "But…that means that you don't know about Cam, then?"
"Is she okay?" Brennan looked panicked for a moment.
"Oh, hey…yeah. Yes, she's fine. Just…about four months pregnant." Booth grinned, loving the look of utter shock on Brennan's face.
"Cam is having a baby? Really?" Of all the things Booth could have told her that was definitely at the bottom of the list. "With that doctor she was seeing before we left?"
"Paul. Yeah. Apparently, they're pretty happy." He shook his head in amazement. "I never thought I'd see the day when Camille Saroyan was excited to be pregnant."
"Well." Brennan was at a loss. "That's…good. For them, I mean. I'm happy for her. Them."
"Yeah, it's good." Looking around, Booth realized that it was getting darker, and he still had one more reunion to attend. "Listen, Bones…did you drive over here?"
"No, I took a cab. My car is still in storage, I just got back this morning so I haven't had a chance to get it." She wrinkled her forehead in confusion. "Why, did you have somewhere you needed to be?"
Booth grinned. "Yeah, I want to go see Parker."
"Oh!" She covered her mouth in embarrassment. "I can't believe I didn't think of Parker! Yes, you should go! We can talk later, tomorrow, or…"
"How about we meet at the diner for breakfast?" Booth suddenly realized how much he missed sharing a meal with her.
Smiling in relief, Brennan agreed, then moved to stand. "So, I guess this is goodbye."
"Til tomorrow, anyway." Booth threw caution to the wind and reached for her again, wrapping grateful arms around her and breathing her in one more time. "I really, really missed you, Bones."
With her face buried in Booth's chest, Brennan felt comfortable enough to allow the lone tear that escaped to slide down her cheek. "I really missed you, too." She pulled back and smiled up at him. "Welcome home, Booth."
He matched her smile. "Welcome home, Bones."
Brennan paid the cab driver and waved him on with barely a glance as she stood and took in the brick façade of the Jeffersonian for the first time in a year. Despite her outward declarations that field work and overseas digs were why she became an anthropologist, the building before her had slowly and surely become one of the main ways she identified her career as a scientist…and she loved that fact. She acknowledged that her work with Booth had intensified that feeling, but the sterile setting, the cool glass and steel interior, the small, classic mahogany touches that remained untouched from when the lab was first constructed were why the Medico-Legal Lab had come to really, truly feel like her home.
Stepping across the threshold, Brennan breathed deeply and literally felt her disposition change from world traveling anthropologist to rational, empirical scientist. She could see her darkened office, the shadowed platform, and the soft light from Cam's office suite from where she stood, taking everything in. She found herself propelled to her erstwhile boss's domain, suddenly excited to see her after such a long separation.
When she reached the doorway, she paused to watch her friend as she filled out whatever paperwork was decorating her desk. Aside from a new, sleeker haircut Cam looked largely unchanged. Until, that is, she stood to reach for a book on the shelf behind her, and Brennan could clearly see the baby bump protruding from Cam's normally-flat abdomen. The sight brought out a range of emotions Brennan had a hard time cataloguing, but the one that seemed to stick out the most was…envy. Pushing that aside, she cleared her throat and entered the room.
"Hello, Dr. Saroyan." She gave Cam a tentative smile.
Wheeling around, Cam smiled brightly. "Dr. Brennan!" She crossed the room quickly, and Brennan was shocked to find herself enveloped in a sweet-smelling and surprisingly comforting embrace. "Welcome home!" She leaned back and took in her co-worker closely. "You look good! New haircut?"
Stepping back, Brennan nodded. "Yes, it seemed…more prudent in the hotter climes to have something easy to care for. Your hair is different, too." She tipped her head to the side, considering. "I rather like it."
Unconsciously, Cam reached up and touched the ends of her newly-bobbed look. "Thank you. My thoughts were the same; this is so much easier than before."
Brennan tilted her head to the side. "Pregnancy suits you as well. I am very happy for you, Cam. I wasn't aware that your relationship with Dr. Lidner had become so serious."
"Thank you, Dr. Brennan. And to be honest, Paul and I didn't exactly plan any of this." She waved a hand in front of her abdomen. "But it's good. Sometimes, you have to find what makes you happy and just grab onto it with both hands, and that is what we decided to do."
"That's…it's really wonderful, Cam." Brennan's face held nothing but open and honest happiness at her friend's joy.
To say that Cam was intrigued by Brennan's more relaxed demeanor was an understatement. It was subtle, but if you knew what to look for it was there. "And how was the dig? Did you find what you were looking for?"
Giving her friend an enigmatic smile, Brennan nodded. "Yes, and some things I never expected."
Cam returned the smile, deciding to let the vague answer go for the moment. "I'm glad you're back, in any case. Clark is good but he's not you. And I am especially glad to have Dr. Hodgins home; I am looking forward to having one doctor for bugs, rocks and slime."
Brennan fought the urge to roll her eyes. "I would advise you not to inform Dr. Hodgins that it took three people to replace him. We will never hear the end of it."
"Believe me, I hadn't planned on it." Cam agreed. "And we need Angela as well. We had someone from Egyptology here doing sketches, but Angela password-protected the Angelatron and wouldn't give me the code. She said she was afraid someone would mess up her equipment if they didn't know how to use it."
"Of course she did. Remember when Wendell tried to use it a few months before we left?"
Cam laughed. "Oh, yes. He's still trying to wipe the security camera images of Angela and Hodgins out of his mind."
Shaking her head, Brennan stood and prepared to head for her office. "Well, as satisfying as the Maluku dig was, I am glad to be home and to have the team back together."
"Well…" Cam looked pained. "Almost everyone."
"Who are we missing?"
"Sweets." Cam sighed. "He likes teaching at Quantico. He claims he isn't coming back. And believe me; I tried to talk him into it."
"Hmm." Brennan got that look in her eye, the one Cam knew as the look she got right before she made a big decision. "Maybe he can be persuaded."
"Well, I wish you luck, Dr. Brennan. And don't come back in until Monday. Enjoy your weekend."
"There's no such thing as luck." Brennan moved to leave the office, stopping suddenly at the doorway. "But thank you anyway, Cam." Then she was gone.
Cam shook her head in amusement. Apparently, some things never changed.
The next morning, Brennan entered the Royal Diner for the first time in a year. She let the familiarity wash over her, surprised by how comforting she found it. Of course, seeing Booth sitting at their usual table, two cups of coffee in front of him, helped that feeling along.
"Mornin' Bones!" Booth stood as Brennan sat down, waving to the waitress to come and take their order. "How's the lab? Still intact?"
Missing the joke, Brennan nodded as she stirred sweetener into her cup. "Of course. Cam is an exceptional administrator. Everything looked to be the same as…" She stopped when she saw the goofy grin on Booth's face. "You were kidding. I'm sorry." She shook her head ruefully.
Booth's grin softened and he reached for her hand across the table. "I really missed you, Bones."
Brennan barely had time to process the idea of holding hands with Booth when a call from behind her drew their attention.
"Sweetie!" Angela immediately had Brennan wrapped up in an embrace of slim arms, expensive French perfume and love. "Oh, I missed you! I love your hair!"
Brennan pulled back and grinned at her best friend. "I missed you too, Ang. You look great." She stood and moved to embrace the man smiling behind Angela. "Dr. Hodgins."
"Hey Dr. B." Returning the hug, Jack looked over Brennan's shoulder. "Hey, Booth!" He released Brennan and reached over to slap Booth on the back. "Welcome home, man!"
"Thanks, Hodgins." Booth couldn't wipe the smile off his face although he was a little surprised at his own intense reaction to seeing their friends after so long. "It's really good to see you."
"Oh, you too, Booth" Angela purred. "I, however, am not settling for just a slap on the shoulder. Come here." She motioned Booth onto his feet and gave him a tight embrace. "You look fantastic, Booth. Really."
"Thanks, Ang. You look beautiful as always." He moved to the other side of the table and pulled out the chair next to Brennan. "Why don't you guys join us for breakfast? We can catch up."
"Great idea." Hodgins agreed, sitting across from Booth next to the window. "I'm dying for something to eat that doesn't involve heavy cream, butter or snails."
Booth laughed. "I thought you loved snails, man."
"Studying them, sure. Eating them? Not so much." Hodgins and Booth displayed twin shudders as the women next to them rolled their eyes.
The waitress chose that moment to come over and take everyone's breakfast orders, and she was gone for less than a second before Angela began peppering her friends with questions about their sabbaticals. "So, Bren…did you find what you were looking for? Was Daisy a complete pain in the butt the whole time? Did you meet any interesting men? Did you guys miss me?"
Brennan shook her head, laughing at the artist's enthusiasm. "The dig was successful, although we did not meet our original goal. And no, Miss Wick was not as irritating as I had anticipated. She…it was nice to have a little bit of home there, as overwhelming as she can be at times." She smiled warmly. "And yes, I missed you very much, Angela."
Booth agreed, noticing that the sincerity in Brennan's declaration caused Angela to miss the fact that her friend had avoided answering all of her rapid-fire queries, something Booth did not. He watched closely as Angela cooed over his partner's comment, but decided that he didn't want to know the answer to the question standing up and begging for attention in the back of his mind.
The foursome enjoyed a nice, leisurely breakfast, getting reacquainted with enthusiasm. When it came time to pay the bill, Hodgins and Booth fought good-naturedly for it before Booth finally let the scientist win. They all stepped out into the early morning sunlight, saying their goodbyes as Hodgins and Angela headed out to check in at the Jeffersonian while Booth planned to go to the Hoover to get his paperwork in and re-certify as a marksman before he could resume work.
"What do you have planned, Bones? You want to meet for lunch later?" Booth was hopeful to get more than just a few minutes alone with Brennan, if for nothing else but to get a feel for how things really were between them and how their interrupted partnership was going to proceed.
Brennan shook her head. "I have something important to do this morning, Booth. I don't know how long it will take, but maybe we could meet for dinner?"
Booth smiled in relief. "Sure, Bones. If you don't mind pizza and a ten year-old chaperone? Parker and I were going to Mama's tonight."
"Oh…" She hesitated. "I don't want to intrude. You haven't seen your son in a year, Booth. You two should spend some time together."
Booth took a chance and ran a hand down her arm. "And we will, but he told me last night that he missed you, too. He wants to see you." He grinned, using every weapon at his disposal to convince her. "C'mon, Bones…you don't want to disappoint him, do you? Hmm?"
Quirking her lips, Brennan relented. "Alright, alright. No more. I'll go."
"Excellent!" Booth clapped his hands together. "Pick you up around six?"
"Sure." She reached out and squeezed his forearm before heading off to find her car. Booth watched her walk away, wondering at the seeming ease in which they slipped back into their previous relationship, and hoping that, despite everything that had happened before they both ran off, there might be some forward motion there as well.
Dr. Lance Sweets stood in front of the lecture hall full of FBI and DEA recruits with a relaxed, confident demeanor. He had been teaching this combined class for almost nine months and was surprised to find that not only was he very good at it, he really enjoyed the challenge as well. At first, he had encountered more than a few recruits that reminded him of Booth in the way they treated him like a child, but most were around his age and that added to his level of comfort in the classroom. At the moment, however, his students watched, disgruntled, as Sweets held up a sheath of paper to get their attention.
"This brings us to the part of class you're all looking most forward to - the take home midterm." Sweets smiled at the moans and groans from the disgruntled recruits. "Take one and pass it back. If you have any questions regarding the format of the sample profile you're supposed to be writing, don't hesitate to email your TA's. Remember, each of you have a different profile, so no helping each other. Any midterms submitted after midnight on Monday will have a 10% score deduction for each day it's late."
One of the students near the front raised his hand. "Dr. Sweets, do we have to include birth order and potential trauma at the time of the patient's birth?"
"If it seems relevant, include it. You have all the information you need in the client sample description that's being passed out." He noticed, with a delighted grin, that Brennan was standing quietly in the back of the classroom. Waving at the class, he dismissed them quickly. "Alright, see you on Monday. Have a good weekend."
Brennan waited until the last few stragglers exited the lecture hall before descending the stairs to where Sweets waited by the podium. She hesitated a beat before she moved forward and embraced the younger man lightly. "Dr. Sweets, it's good to see you again."
"Dr. Brennan! It's wicked awesome to see you! I can't believe you're home!" He couldn't contain his excitement at seeing one of his favorite patients again. "How was Indonesia?"
"Very fruitful. We found several examples of early cutting tools that were most likely used by Homo floresiensis as well as rudimentary stone tools used by australopithecines." Brennan ignored the slightly confused look on Sweets' face as she continued. "However, I find that I am glad to be home."
Sweets was genuinely shocked by Brennan's admission, but chose to let it slide. "That's good. And did Agent Booth make it home okay?"
"Yes. We had breakfast this morning with Hodgins and Angela." She gestured to a table near the front of the room, offering Sweets a seat. "In fact, Booth is the reason I am here."
"Oh, so it wasn't just because you missed me, huh?"
"No." Brennan sighed, shaking her head. "I am worried that Booth is going to have trouble adjusting to life as a civilian."
Sweets sat up, concern etched across his face. "Really? What makes you think that might be the case?"
"You're going to think I'm being irrational." She crossed her arms across her chest in a classic defensive posture.
Sweets bit back a smile. "I assure you, Dr. Brennan, I will consider your observations and opinions as like, totally valid. You are closer to Booth than anyone, you would know if something was wrong."
Brennan seemed to consider his words carefully before continuing. "Very well. He seems…jumpy."
"Hmm." The young doctor stroked his goatee in an unintentional parody of Freud, an impersonation that almost brought an uncharacteristic giggle from Brennan. She squelched it tightly as she waited for Sweets to weigh in. "He's not his normally comfortable, relaxed, gregarious self? Is that what you mean?"
"In a manner of speaking." She sighed. "I understand that it could simply be a reaction to the change in time zone, change in environment, or change in daily routine…but something just seems unbalanced to me." She shook her head again. "I know, I'm being silly."
"No…no, Dr. Brennan. Like I said, you would know Booth more than anyone."
"Well…I used to. Now that I find that I am tasked with relearning the dynamics of our relationship, it is in that endeavor I am realizing the changes in him. And they seem to be unrelated to a simple internal body clock issue." Brennan bit her lip, trying to convey the appropriate amount of concern.
"So, what is it that you would like for me to do? Speak with him about his experience in Afghanistan? You know as well as I do that Booth doesn't respond well to confrontation about his personal life."
Brennan took a deep breath and shook her head. "I think that you need to come back to the FBI."
Sweets stood and walked decisively to his desk at the front of the room. "I'm sorry, Dr. Brennan, but I find that I am very happy here at Quantico. I feel as if I am really making a difference, you know?" He shuffled some papers on his desk. "I am training a whole new generation of profilers, and I can't think of anything I want to do more."
Brennan decided that the subtle approach wasn't working. "Not even to help out a friend who might need to very badly?"
"Dr. Brennan, you've given me no evidence to back up your claim that Booth is in any distress. It's like you said, he's only been home a day. He's still adjusting. It's probable that he needs a week or two to get back into the swing of things, and then he'll be the same old Special Agent Seeley Booth you know and lo-I mean, you know…he'll be back to normal." His gaze softened at Brennan's obvious worry. "Look, give it a couple of weeks. Once you get a case or two under your belts, if you still see the same symptoms, give me a call. I'll talk to him. Alright?"
Nodding, Brennan stood, smoothing the front of her coat absently, an unfamiliar look on her face. "Fine. But please, just…if you would think about coming back, I would appreciate that. You know that Booth doesn't trust any other profiler like he trusts you. It could affect our close rate in the end."
Internally, Sweets cursed the woman standing in front of him. He knew that there was more to her plea, and although he had a suspicion, he had a hard time believing it and was tempted to dismiss it out of hand. "I can't promise anything, Dr. Brennan."
"I understand." Brennan stepped forward and rested her hand on Sweets' shoulder. "Just think about it." The door at the top of the room banged open, making them both jump. Dropping her hand unceremoniously, Brennan's eyes flicked to the incoming recruits and then back to the younger man. "Thank you for your time, Dr. Sweets. It was good to see you." And with that, she was gone.
Sweets looked around at the students taking their seats for a moment, before walking calmly out the side door and softly slamming his forehead to the wall. "Dammit."
Brennan was unsatisfied with her talk with Sweets, finding that her interpersonal skills had not improved as much as she had hoped in the span of a year. Richard had helped her a bit with picking up verbal clues and body language, but there was so much more she still needed to learn. Yet even with her limited abilities, she knew she had most certainly failed in convincing Sweets to come back to their team. Resolute in finding another way, she headed for her car, only stopping long enough to answer her ringing cell.
"Bones! We're back, baby!"
"Booth? What are you talking about?" She unlocked her car door and slid into the driver's seat.
"We have a case! Where are you, anyway?"
Brennan could hear scattered noises in the background and ignored Booth's question for one of her own. "Where are you?" She started her car and switched her phone to Bluetooth before pulling out of the parking lot. "I need directions to the crime scene, but I can be there soon."
"Nope, no crime scene, Bones. The bodies are already here at the lab."
"What? Someone moved the remains? How am I supposed to properly analyze the scene if I haven't; actually seen it, Booth?" She merged smoothly onto I-95 despite her ire. "I can't believe you've forgotten how I like to work!"
"Bones, calm down. The reason you can't go to the scene is that it is too dangerous. There was a bombing, and they haven't cleared it for inspection. But they took hundreds of photos and thousands of samples. They did it as close to your specifications as possible." Booth sighed into the phone. "There's nothing I can do about it now, Bones."
Brennan sniffed, still irritated, but no longer with Booth. "Fine. I am on my way to the lab now; I will be there within the hour."
"Wait…where are you, Bones? Bones?" Booth pulled the phone back, staring at the now-blank display screen.
Booth stood in front of the sliding glass doors of the lab proper, staring at the platform in front of him. Brennan, Hodgins and Cam stood examining the two bodies in front of them while Vincent Nigel-Murray hovered over to the side, inspecting the preliminary x-rays on the monitors. Unable to restrain himself any longer, Booth crossed the room and swiped his card, thrilled that it worked flawlessly, before bounding up the steps to the main platform.
"Hey, hey, squints! Looks like the gang's all here!" He rubbed his hands together in excitement.
Brennan, never looking away from her inspection of the body in front of her, replied. "Not everyone, Angela is not present."
Sighing, Booth shook his head. "But she is in the building, which is what I meant, Bones." He looked to Brennan's current intern. "Hey, uh…yeah. How're you doing?"
Vincent shook off Booth's obvious inability to remember his name. "Vincent Nigel-Murray, Agent Booth. And I am doing quite well. How was your sabbatical?"
Booth nodded, attention already shifting away from the young student. "Fine, fine…"
"Did you know that the sabbatical was popularized by Harvard professors as early as 1880 as a way to give not only the educators, but the students a period of rest every seven years? In fact-"
"Relevance, Mr. Nigel-Murray." Cam chided.
Smiling slightly, Vincent moved back to the monitors he had been studying earlier. "Yes, of course." He cleared his throat. "Dr. Brennan, it is clear from the x-rays that victim number one sustained multiple bone traumas as a result of the explosion. I will have to inspect the actual remains in order to properly catalogue all of the injuries and when and how they occurred."
Brennan nodded. "That is correct, Mr. Nigel-Murray. However, I would like you to concentrate your examination of victim number two." At Cam's questioning glance, she continued. "The second victim is much less desiccated and I require adequate time to go over the injuries to victim number one before I allow you to examine her."
"Very well, Dr. Brennan." Vincent moved to the second table. "Dr. Saroyan, will you be conducting the autopsy?"
Moving to join the intern next to the table, Cam nodded. "Of course. Help me take him to the autopsy suite, and as soon as I am done you can clean the bones." She addressed Hodgins. "As long as all particulates and evidence have been removed from the clothing and body?"
Hodgins nodded. "Yep. I have everything I need. These are the only victims in the Cromwell Building bombing, correct?"
"Yeah." Booth shook his head. "Fire and rescue went over every inch of that place; no one else was working late on a Thursday night."
"I find it interesting that Cromwell was named for Oliver Cromwell, the British general, considering the fact that they are known for supplying the US military with support and equipment. Very apropos." Vincent ignored Cam's glare and kicked the brake on the table, moving to wheel it off the platform.
Laughing, Hodgins slapped Booth's shoulder as he passed. "Some things never change, eh G-man?"
"Tell me about it." Booth groused, his attention on Brennan as she bent forward to inspect a metatarsal. "Same 'ol, same 'ol."
Brennan turned her head slightly, watching Booth watching her. "You should go do your cop thing, Booth. This is going to take me awhile. It could be hours before Angela has a face."
"My 'cop thing', Bones?" He gave her the grin she had been missing for the last twelve months, whether she acknowledged that fact or not. "Alright, fine. I'll go do my 'cop thing' and you do your 'bone thing' and we'll catch us a mad bomber. The CEO of Cromwell is already on his way to the Hoover so I can speak with him, how about after that we catch some lunch? Sound like a plan?"
Distracted again by the bones in front of her, Brennan nodded absently. "If my initial assessment is completed, then yes. That sounds satisfactory."
"Satisfactory. Yeah. Good." Booth fought the urge to roll his eyes good-naturedly and stepped off the platform, heading for the doors. "See ya later, Bones!" In his rush to leave, he missed Brennan's almost infinitesimal look his way, filled with something that, if he had caught it, would have improved his day even more.
Hodgins, however, did not miss the look, and made a note to share his newfound knowledge with his wife as soon as possible.
Booth sat behind his desk, carefully observing the well-dressed man sitting in the chair opposite. Cromwell CEO Alex Nasir seemed genuinely distressed about the death of two of his employees, and his willingness to help with the investigation without ground rules or caveats only served to impress Booth even more.
"I just…" Nasir ran a hand through his hair over and over. Normally a very fastidious man, his dishevelment was almost jarring in contrast to his neat and tidy clothing. "I can't believe that anyone would be so opposed to our helping the US military that they would put innocent lives at risk." He blanched. "Alright, maybe I can believe it. I just wish I couldn't."
Booth leaned forward, elbows resting on the desk, hands clasped in front of him. "I'm sorry about all of this, Mr. Nasir. But I need to know if all of your employees have been accounted for. We have two bodies in the lab and no identities as of yet."
Nasir nodded sadly. "Yes. Unfortunately our night janitor, Xavier Jordan, was reported missing by his family." The man looked off, unseeing, over Booth's shoulder. "Xavier has been with us since the beginning, a good man with nine children and almost forty grandchildren. And, I am proud to say, my friend. I-" He broke off, closing his eyes to the grief. After a moment, he shook his head and continued. "And Megan Christian, one of my best analysts. She's only been with us for a little over four years, but she's…she was amazing. A damn fine employee and such a kind heart. I was hoping she had gone home early for a change, but she always worked late on Thursdays because her reports were due every Friday and she wanted them perfect."
Booth nodded in sympathy. "I am sorry for your loss, sir." He cleared his throat, strangely touched by the caring the other man had shown for his employees. "If you have contact information for their families, I would like to speak with them."
"Oh, uh…Xavier's wife passed away several years ago, but I have his son's phone number. And Megan…she didn't have any family that I knew of. Her hard copy records were lost in the…explosion, but we accessed the contact information remotely and she didn't list anyone as an emergency contact. And none of my other employees knew of her having anyone to speak of." He pulled out some papers and handed them to Booth. "This is everything we have on them."
"Thank you." Booth took a quick look and inserted them in the case file. "Now, as far as finding the people who did this, I need a list of any threats your company has gotten in the last twelve months. We can start there."
Nasir sniffed. "Who haven't we gotten threats from? Not in Our Name, TrueMajority, Code Pink, although they're essentially harmless…hell, even the Westboro Baptist Church crazies sent us a letter or two. It's the nature of our business, Agent Booth. We attract the anti-war factions, pure and simple." He closed his eyes for a moment. "Or maybe, not so simple."
"Don't worry, Mr. Nasir. My team is very good. We will find out how this happened." Booth stood, indicating the interview was over.
Reaching to shake Booth's hand, Nasir stopped suddenly. "Oh! I almost forgot the Twilight of Idols nuts!"
"Who?" Booth asked.
"The Method of the Twilight of Idols. A virulent anti-war group. They've been around since the early Seventies, mostly old school hippies. Their threats have been mostly of the corporate and legal kind, but they are the most persistent."
Grabbing his pen, Booth started to write. "That's one hell of a long name. Do they have an acronym?"
Nasir collected his coat, shaking his head. "Not as far as I know. We just refer to them as our biggest pains in the ass."
Thanking the man again, Booth escorted him out, only to find himself face-to-face with a decidedly nervous-looking Sweets.
"Sweets!" Booth gave the kid a quick pat on the back and took in his new goatee. "Good to see you, man! What in the hell is that dead animal doing on your chin?"
Sweets accepted the teasing with ease. "It's good to see you too, Booth. And leave the beard alone. I like it. Claudia likes it. It's staying."
"Whoa…nice attitude, Sweets!" Booth mimed wiping away a tear. "My little boy is growing up."
"Shut up, Booth." Sweets replied, complete with eye roll.
"Oh, you love it." Booth slapped him in the chest with the case file he was holding. "And speaking of things you love, how's about giving me a profile on the group who bombed the Cromwell building, hmm?"
"Well…I hadn't decided yet if…"
"Great! Here's the info. Gimme a call when you have something!"
Unable to lodge a protest, Sweets watched with dismay as Booth grabbed his jacket and headed for the elevators, whistling. "Dammit."
Inside the SUV en route to interview the members of the Method of the Twilight of Idols, Brennan gave Booth a rundown of the group. "They were formed in 1971 as a direct result of the Vietnam War protests, formed under the works of Randolph Bourne, an early-19th century essayist."
"What were his essays about?" Booth signaled a turn, keeping his eyes on the road.
Brennan flipped the folder she was reading closed. "His most famous work, a 1918 essay entitled, of course, "Twilight of Idols", examined the how America justified war by claiming it was spreading democracy, while never actually examining democracy itself. I've read it, and it's quite pedantic. How anyone could draw the conclusions Bourne did is preposterous."
"So these guys read the essay, decided Bourne was right, and decided to 'fight the man'?"
"Essentially. According to Angela's research, they are mostly concerned with using frivolous lawsuits and corporate sabotage to get their point across. Thus far, there is no evidence that they have ever resorted to any kind of violence." Brennan pulled a photo of the destroyed Cromwell building out of the folder. "Especially this level of violence."
Brennan's phone beeped. "That's Angela." Scrolling through the text, she tapped a quick reply. "Dentals confirm the victims were Xavier Jordan and Megan Christian."
Booth tapped the steering wheel nervously. "Alright. Okay. Let's just talk to these Twilight people and then we'll notify Mr. Jordan's family."
"Alright, Booth." Brennan pointed. "That's it, there. 2613."
They pulled into a long driveway that curved towards a large, three-story Victorian home. Getting out of the car, Booth took in the massive structure with a frown. "This doesn't look like the headquarters of an anti-war group to me. It looks like someone's family lives here."
Brennan rounded the SUV and joined Booth on the walk up the stairs. "Well, this group has been together for a very long time and were, at one time, immersed in the San Francisco anti-war culture, which lends itself to a very communal existence. It's possible that they consider themselves like a family."
Booth's fist halted, poised to knock, as he gave Brennan a curious look. "Good call, Bones."
Brennan just shrugged in response as Booth knocked on the large oak door. It was answered quickly by a young woman with auburn hair and kind eyes.
"Yes, can I help you?" She asked, looking from Booth to Brennan curiously.
"I hope so." Booth replied, flashing his badge. "I'm FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth; this here's my partner, Dr. Temperance Brennan of the Jeffersonian. We're looking for someone to speak with about the Method of the Twilight of Idols?"
The woman sighed and opened the door further. "Of course, come on in." She ushered them into the entryway, closing the door firmly behind her. "I'm Virginia Woolf, I'm not a member, but my parents are the leaders of the group." Acknowledging Booth and Brennan's reactions to her name, she smiled slightly. "Hippie parents." She explained. "Please, this way."
Virginia led the partners into a massive great room, where several late middle-aged people were gathered, obviously discussing something that had spurred a heated debate. The man standing in the middle of the room stopped mid-sentence and stared at the newcomers.
"Virginia? Who do we have here?" He asked.
"FBI, Dad. This is Special Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan. They're here about the group."
"Ah." The man stepped forward, shaking first Booth and then Brennan's hands. "I am Bartholomew Woolf, leader and founder of Method of the Twilight of Idols." He gestured to a sedate, honey-haired woman on the settee near the fireplace. "This is my wife and co-founder, Madia. What can we help the FBI with today, Agent Booth?" Woolf settled comfortably into a large, wing-backed chair next to his wife, an air of superiority surrounding him.
Not letting the man's obvious attitude bother him, Booth started right in. "We're here investigating the bombing of Cromwell last Thursday night. You wouldn't happen to know anything about that, would you, Mr. Woolf?"
A small smile crossed the man's face, making even Brennan wish to throttle him. "Of course not, Agent Booth. We are, by nature, pacifists. We abhor violence in any form, and we certainly do not endorse the bombing of a building that may put innocents in harm's way." He took in Booth's unchanged expression. "Certainly you don't suspect that we would have anything to do with it?"
Booth put one hand on his hip, unintentionally exposing his sidearm. "We have to follow up every lead, Mr. Woolf. And you have made threats directed at Cromwell in the past."
The group looked at each other, obviously uncomfortable. Woolf, however, never wavered from his calm demeanor. "I can assure you; we had nothing to do with the bombing. We would never endorse it."
Brennan stepped forward. "Mr. Woolf, you say that you and your wife founded the group?"
Another look passed between those sitting around the partners. Woolf cleared his throat, suddenly looking a little uncomfortable. "Yes, well…the two of us and another member. But she is no longer involved with our activities."
"She?" Booth caught a scent and ran with it. "Who is she? We might need to speak with her as well."
Bartholomew looked pained. "Megan. Megan Christian."
Booth and Brennan exchanged a look. "And why did she leave the group?" Booth managed to ask.
"Her beliefs no longer matched our goals." Madia Woolf spoke up. "She decided that she simply didn't feel the way she used to, and that our methods were in contradiction to her new beliefs. So we let her go."
Booth felt the energy in the room change from semi-relaxed to tense almost immediately. "And so you kicked her out? Was that the only reason?"
Madia looked to her husband, who shook his head and sighed. "I made the incredibly selfish and stupid mistake of conducting an affair with Megan. Once it came out, and in light of Megan's changing views, it was thought best that we part ways."
"And how long ago was this?"
"Almost four years ago." Woolf replied.
"And the last time you saw Megan?"
"Almost four years ago."
Booth made a note and looked up to see Madia exchange a look with her daughter. "Mrs. Woolf? Do you have something to add?"
She looked to her husband briefly before responding. "A few weeks ago, Virginia and I saw Megan on the street." Woolf's eyebrows rose in surprise, but he allowed his wife to continue. "We didn't speak, she passed by where we were eating lunch, I don't think she even saw us."
"Alright." Booth slid his pen back into his pocket and turned to Brennan. "Ready, Bones?"
Brennan looked at him, confused. "Aren't we going to speak to everyone?"
"Nah, no need." Booth reached out and shook Woolf's hand. "Thank you all for your time. Please stay in the area, we may be in touch." Booth turned and allowed Virginia to lead them out of the room.
Once back in the car, Brennan turned to Booth. "What was that about? We learned next to nothing about the group or where they all were. Usually, we at least speak with everyone."
Booth shook his head as he guided the car back onto the highway. "It doesn't track, Bones. These people have never, in the forty years they've been around, resorted to violence. They're respected, as much as groups like this ever are, in their circles. Killing Megan Christian four years after the fact, when everything was said and done, seems out of place."
"That…that is logical." Brennan agreed. "But what about the wife? Couldn't she have killed Megan in a jealous rage?"
Booth smiled. "This is the part you hate, Bones. Psychology." Ignoring Brennan's eye roll, he continued. "First of all, no woman scorned is going to wait four years to exact her revenge. No offense, but you women act on the emotion of the moment in a situation like this. You know, like running us over with your Mercedes or shooting us in our sleep."
"I would be much more systematic, but I understand what you are saying. However, Madia said that she had seen Megan a few weeks ago. Couldn't that have triggered her ire?"
Booth chose to ignore the first part of Brennan's comment. "Nah, she seemed more sad about the situation than anything else. I didn't see any fire behind it. Besides, that bombing took planning and forethought. Not something Mrs. Woolf could have pulled off in a week and a half right under her husband's nose." He signaled to merge onto the highway. "I think that whatever anger Madia Woolf had for Megan Christian has faded over time into something a lot less dangerous."
Brennan was hopelessly lost. "What, Booth?"
"Heartbreak at the loss of their friendship." Booth glanced at her, seeing the expected head shake. "I'm serious, Bones. They were close a long time, they founded this group which, as you said, was like a pseudo family…she was family to Madia. And yes, her betrayal was painful, but over time I think she just realized that she missed her friend."
"I don't understand that at all." Brennan sighed.
Booth stared straight ahead, eyes determinedly on the road. "Sometimes, a little distance is what you need to give you perspective into what is really important in life."
Angela strolled into Cam's office, prepared to hand in her paperwork and catalogued evidence for the current case, when she stopped in her tracks. Cam was reclining in her desk chair, a well-worn copy of What To Expect When You're Expecting open in front of her as she shoveled Chili Cheese Fritos into her mouth by the handful.
Chuckling, Angela set the paperwork on the desk, causing Cam to jump slightly. "Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you. I have the completed paperwork here; and the Angelatron is rendering the facial recognition evidence onto disc to catalogue with everything else." She crossed her arms as her boss attempted to hide her reading material. "And what are you, a medical doctor, doing reading that particular book? Don't you already know all that stuff? Doesn't Paul?"
"Of course we both know, but it's a lot different in theory than it is in practice." Cam waved a hand across her midsection. "Weird things are happening with my body and I need to know why."
"I can't even imagine." Sighing, Angela sat across from the desk with a pensive look.
Cam could tell that clearly something was bothering her forensic artist. "Something else on your mind, Angela?"
"Do you ever feel trapped in your relationship with Paul? Like, this wasn't exactly planned, but now you really can't get out of it gracefully?" The quickly blurted question took Cam by surprise.
"Never." She answered definitively. "Do I wish we had planned things better? Sure. Do I regret how fast we've moved? Sometimes." Cam rested her hand on her belly. "But when it's right? When you feel comfortable enough to share your fears and regrets and ask for some space? The path you took to get there, no matter how unconventional…is always worth it. Paul and I are committed to making it work. Not just for the baby, but for ourselves."
Nodding, Angela stood. "That's wonderful, Cam. I…" She smiled softly. "I am really happy that you're happy."
"Thanks, Angela. Are you sure there isn't anything else?"
Angela affected an air of artificial casualness. "No, thanks. I'm going to head to lunch. Do you want me to bring something back?"
Cam sat up straight, smiling. "Yes! A cheeseburger! Extra onions…and have them put coleslaw on it!"
"Ew." Angela laughed. "You got it, mama."
After leaving Cam, Angela crossed the lab platform to Brennan's office. Obviously catching her friend in a quiet, reflective moment, she stood silently and watched as more than one emotion crossed Brennan's face as she sat at her desk staring off into space. Not wanting to startle her, Angela cleared her throat to get Brennan's attention, smiling when she looked almost guilty at being caught doing absolutely nothing.
"Bren, you want to go get lunch? I'm starving. Plus we have to pick up some disgusting food combination for our preggo boss." She leaned against the desk, hopeful grin on her face.
Brennan sighed, not really in the mood to have what Angela would inevitably classify as "girl talk" but unable to think of a good reason not to accept her friend's invitation. "That sounds good, Ang. Just let me get my bag and I'll meet you outside. Is Hodgins coming with us?"
Angela bristled slightly. "No, just because I'm married doesn't mean I have to eat every single meal with him. Let's just go!"
Brennan cocked an eyebrow at Angela's sudden outburst but chose to ignore it. "Okay, let's go." She followed Angela out of the lab, knowing that something was wrong but not knowing what questions to ask to find out.
Unable to find his wife or her best friend, Hodgins heads to Cam's office to find her still munching on Fritos, but now surfing the internet for couture maternity clothes.
"Hey Cam, I have the composition of the bomb figured out. Pretty basic stuff, really." Hodgins looked up from his notes. "You want to call Booth and let him know?"
Cam looked up from her research and shook her head. "No, you call him. You understand what you're talking about, I don't."
"Since when do we call Booth? I thought everything went through you."
"New year, new rules. Call Booth." Cam nodded in dismissal and turned back to her monitor.
Heading out to grab his phone, Hodgins shook his head and muttered to himself. "This place makes women crazy."
Sweets followed Booth down the hallway as he talked to Hodgins. "Yeah, thanks man. I'll be there as soon as I can." He flipped the phone shut and pointed to the bullpen. "There's your way-too-hot-for-you girlfriend, Agent Turner. Go say hi, Hooch. I have to get to the lab." He walked away, laughing to himself.
"Hooch?" Sweets asked, confused. Shaking his head, he headed over to where his girlfriend stood chatting with her fellow agents.
Booth, Hodgins and Vincent stood around the monitors in the ookey room while Hodgins explained the make-up of the bomb that killed their victims. "Ammonium nitrate, nitromethane, Tovex, which is ammonium nitrate and methylammonium nitrate combined, ammonium nitrate-infused fuel oil and a detonator composed of cannon fuse and shock tube."
"Okay…what does all that mean? Is it unusual?" Booth asked.
"Not really." Hodgins admitted. "In fact, it's the same type of bomb used to blow up the Murrah Building in Oklahoma City."
Vincent jumped in. "Oh! Did you know, that when Timothy McVeigh was arrested after the bombing, he was wearing a t-shirt that read Sic semper tyrannis, which means "Thus always to tyrants" and was the phrase yelled by John Wilkes Booth after shooting Lincoln."
Booth glared at the intern, holding himself back from punching the kid by a thread. Hodgins recognized the look and put two and two together, and hurriedly moved the conversation along. "All the materials are easily acquired through different means and they're going to be next to impossible to trace."
"Yeah, that's great, Hodgins." Booth shook his head, frustrated that they were no closer to figuring out the bomber than they were when the bodies were first brought in. While he was planning his next course of action, Angela and Brennan returned from lunch and joined them.
"Hey." Booth nodded to both women. "Hodgins figured out the bomb, it's just too common to help us out much."
Brennan moved to read the computer monitor, while Angela stood closer to Booth, moving away from Hodgins. Booth noticed, and looked to the bug man, who pretended not to.
"If everyone wants to come to my office, I have a simulation ready for the pattern of the bomb." Angela waved at the door, and led everyone out and down to her Angelator room. Booth waited until Vincent and the women had exited before grabbing Hodgins by the arm to slow him down.
"Hey…" He looked around, not entirely enjoying the conversation but as he considered Jack a friend he knew he had to ask. "Is everything okay with you and Ang? I just ask because…she seemed, I don't know…uncomfortable."
Hodgins, for his part, didn't look any more pleased with the discussion than Booth did. "Oh…no, yeah. Yeah." He nodded, more to himself than to the agent in front of him. "She's just…adjusting. You know? We spent a year in one of the most beautiful cities in the world only to come back to more murder and mayhem. She needs some time, I guess."
Booth didn't really buy Hodgins' explanation but was content to let it go for the time being. "Alright. Just, you know…" He palmed the back of his neck nervously. "Making sure the team is working at optimum capacity, right?"
"Yeah. Thanks, Booth." Jack half-smiled and led the way out towards Angela's office.
By the time the two men rejoin the rest of the team, Angela has the simulation cued up and ready to play. "Thanks for joining us, gentlemen." Cam drawled, choosing to ignore the look passing between the latecomers.
"What do you have, Ang?" Booth demanded, staring at the Angelatron and not making eye contact with anyone.
The artist tapped her computer tablet and began the animation. "As you can see here.." She pointed at where the flashpoint was circled against the building. "the bomb was situated right under Megan's office, which was close enough to the center of the building to cause the entire front to collapse inward, onto where she was sitting." Everyone gasped as Angela showed them how her program had been able to recreate the bombing with disturbing accuracy.
"Jesus." Booth breathed. "She didn't have a chance."
Cam closed her eyes for a moment. "That is terrifying."
The rest of the group nodded in agreement as Angela continued the presentation. "In any case, the bomb was much bigger than necessary, and the force of the blast caused the inner walls, furthest away from the flashpoint, to collapse in on themselves. This spot here…" She pointed to another circled area. "is where Mr. Jordan was working. According to Cam, even though he sustained several injuries to his torso, legs and arms, he died from smoke inhalation."
"He was knocked unconscious by the blast and the fire got him." Hodgins explained sadly.
"Right." Angela barely glanced at her husband as she continued. "The bomb was placed directly under Megan's window; she was known to be the only person who worked late on Thursdays…you do the math." She looked at Booth pointedly. "Megan Christian was definitely the target. Xavier Jordan was collateral damage, just in the wrong place at the wrong time."
Brennan glanced at Booth. "Do you still believe that the Twilight of Idols group is innocent?"
"Not anymore, Bones." He turned and headed into the main lab, pulling out his phone to call in a warrant for the Twilight groups' financial records, Brennan following behind him closely as the rest of the team scattered throughout the lab. "I need to call this in and find out if any of them have purchased bomb components in the last sixty days."
"Alright. " Brennan buttoned her lab coat and turned to head up the platform. "I will continue to catalogue Megan's injuries for the reports." Booth nodded and waved distractedly as he walked away.
Booth and Sweets sat in a conference room watching the bombing simulation while the psychologist flipped through the financials of the entire membership of The Method of the Twilight of Idols.
"So nothing in their records that even sounded like it could make a bomb?" He asked.
Booth shook his head and responded around a bite of donut. "Nope, unless someone could make a weapon out of Longaberger baskets and toilet paper from Costco."
"Yeah, probably not." Sweets scratched his beard thoughtfully. "I believe that, given the evidence the bomb was definitely personal and absolutely aimed at Megan, but after four years…I just don't see this group as being responsible."
"I kind of figured that out already, thanks." Booth clicked the remote to stop the video. He stopped as something occurred to him, sugary treat held mid-bite. "Personal." He said, almost to himself. "I need to bring someone in." He stood and clapped Sweets on the back, ignoring the younger man's wince, and walked out with barely a glance. "Thanks, Sweets! See ya!"
With a sigh, Sweets closed the case file. "Why am I back here again? Oh yeah, the sense of accomplishment." He said sarcastically as he watched Booth saunter down the hall alone.
Booth tapped his pen, affecting a bored look as he intently examined the suspect on the other side of the table. "Mrs. Woolf, maybe you can explain exactly the kind of relationship you had with Megan Christian before she left the group."
Madia Woolf sniffed delicately and closed her eyes briefly as if summoning strength from her depths. "I usually just say, 'It was the Seventies, you had to be there.', but that really doesn't tell you anything." She sighed and looked off to a point over Booth's shoulder. "Megan was the sister I never had. She was fun and open and dedicated to the cause. And I loved her, deeply."
Believing her, Booth softened his tone. "So when she betrayed you…"
"I fell apart. Literally." Madia opened the pocketbook on the table and began pulling out medication bottles. All of these are for depression." At Booth's raised eyebrows, she continued. "Well, at first I had a complete breakdown. I tried to take my own life twice, so Bartholemew and Virginia had me committed."
"And you were angry with Megan?"
She smiled sadly and shook her head. "For some unknown reason, I could never bring myself to hate her. Of course, I couldn't be her friend anymore, it was too painful. And I wanted to save my marriage. So having her continue as a part of my life was…non-negotiable."
Booth nodded. "Do you think that your husband was angry with Megan for changing her views?"
Madia let loose a strangled laugh. "Hardly. Batholomew would actually have to care to be angry. And believe me, Agent Booth; my husband only cares for himself and the group. Nothing else would engender such emotion."
"Booth." Sweets sounded in his earpiece. "She's telling the truth."
He gave the kid behind the glass a glare. Thanking the woman for her time, Booth escorted her to the door, wondering to himself if they were ever going to solve their first case back.
Lunch at the diner with Brennan was the only thing Booth could think of to clear his head. He chuckled inwardly at the irony of Bones giving him clarity, considering how turned around she used to get him just by giving him one of those confused, but incredibly cute, looks of hers. But there it was.
"Booth, I've been over this list a dozen times, literally. I'm not seeing a connection anywhere." Brennan speared a strawberry from her bowl and chewed thoughtfully.
Looking over his own list, Booth shook his head. "I don't even know what most of this stuff is, Bones. Shock tubing? What is that?"
"It is an explosive detonator that uses a percussive charge instead of electrical. It's much safer and easily controlled, so it's mainly used by construction workers, the military, airbag deployment, professional fireworks and the entertainment business, for special effects."
Booth picked up the list of the members of Twilight of Idols and flipped through them again, obviously looking for something specific.
"What is it, Booth?" Brennan leaned forward to see what he was doing.
"Hang on…hang on…here!" He waved a sheet of his own notes in her face. "Bones! That's where we went wrong!"
Booth jumped to his feet and threw a wad of bills on the table. "Come on, Bones!" He grabbed her hand and pulled her towards the door of the diner.
"Booth!" Brennan yanked on his hand, trying to stop their forward motion before she crashed into his retreating back. "What has gotten into you?"
Booth wheeled around, eyes bright and excited. "We've been looking into the members of the group, right?"
"Right." She drew the word out as if he were slow.
"That's where we made our mistake!" He dropped her hand and ran from the diner.
"I don't know what that means." Brennan watched him run out, shaking her head and following at a more sedate pace.
"How long have you worked at the Dayplayer Theater, Ms. Woolf?" Booth leaned back in his chair, staring the woman in front of him down intently.
For her part, Virginia knew that she was finished. She knew it as soon as Agent Booth and Dr. Brennan had showed up at the door of her parent's home. And it simply wasn't in her nature to fight it. "I started working there about ten years ago. That's where I acquired the shock tubing. We used it for small explosions during our last performance of Macbeth."
Booth studied the woman in front of him, understanding that she had given up but feeling no joy in the victory. "You decided to build the bomb after your mother saw Megan on the street."
"No. No…I, it was something I had considered for a long time." At Booth's look, she blanched. "I'm not proud of it, Agent Booth. But if you had seen what my mother was reduced to…" A tear tracked down her cheek. "This woman, who had marched on Washington, who had been arrested numerous times and still stood for her convictions, she was reduced to a shell of herself, wearing restraints in a psych ward. And Megan Christian was responsible for that. I wanted her to suffer like my mother had suffered."
"And your boyfriend, uh…Daniel McClellan? He was the one who obtained the rest of the bomb components?"
Virginia nodded sadly. "I was stupid, I realize that now. Danny was involved in another anti-war group, one with no compunction against violence. And at first, I thought it was…I don't know, exciting, I guess. So different from how I'd been raised. And he was willing to help me get back at Megan."
"How did it happen?"
"I watched her routine for months. I knew when she worked late on Thursday nights. I only had to wait for the right situation. But then we saw Megan on the street, and Mom had another small breakdown, and…I just didn't want to wait anymore."
"But she wasn't the only one in the building, was she?" Booth's voice was tinged with anger.
"No." Tears were flowing freely as Virginia described her horror at finding out that an innocent man had been caught in the explosion. "It was only supposed to be her! I never…Oh, God, it was a mistake…"
Booth never changed his expression in the face of her tears. "Did you ever think of blaming your father?"
"My mother didn't, why would I?"
"Yeah." Booth waved at the observation window and almost instantly, another agent appeared to escort Virginia out, still sobbing to herself.
The team had gathered at Founding Fathers to celebrate the closing of a case for the first time in a year, and it seemed as though no time had passed, with the notable exceptions of Cam's lack of alcoholic beverage and the presence of Special Agent Claudia Turner, Sweets' girlfriend of six months. The drinks and the conversation flowed, and Booth was surprised to notice that Brennan seemed to really get along with Claudia, even laughing at a few of the more corny jokes the young woman made. Booth and Brennan spoke a little of their respective trips, and Angela and Hodgins regaled the group with their adventures in Europe, including an embarrassing retelling of their near-arrest under the Arc de Triomphe after being caught making out by a Parisian police captain.
After almost two hours of catching up, Paul and Cam said their goodbyes, insisting that Cam needed her sleep more than ever now. Soon after, Sweets and Claudia left, followed almost immediately by Vincent. Hodgins and Angela stayed a little longer, and Booth was pleased to see that Angela seemed more receptive to the affection Jack was offering her. The couple finally made their way out, leaving with promises of getting together sometime soon for dinner, and Booth and Brennan were finally alone for the first time since they reunited at the coffee cart.
"So Bones, how's it feel to get that first case solved under your belt? You still want to do this partners thing with me?" He gave her a charming smile that didn't quite reach his eyes, a little tentative about her answer.
Brennan set her wine glass down and gave him a measured look. "Of course I do, Booth. I just needed…a little perspective, as I said." She started to say something else, and then stopped herself. Booth caught it immediately.
"Was there another reason?" He raised his hand to signal the bartender for another drink.
"I just…it was something Angela said to me, at the airport before I left. She said she hoped that I would discover what it means to be human. And I've been wondering if she only meant that in reference to the australopithecine find." She ran a finger absently along the rim of her glass.
Booth cleared his throat. "Knowing Angela, probably not." He took a breath. "I think you know what she meant, Bones."
Brennan nodded immediately. "Maybe. Yes. I don't know…Booth, it's…just something I'm thinking about, that's all. I promised myself I would consider her words very carefully."
"Well, that's…that's good, Bones." Booth smiled, breaking the tension. "And thinking is what you do best, genius."
"I am very intelligent." She replied with a small smile of her own.
"You most certainly are." He reached out and tapped her glass with his. "So, speaking of thinking…what do you think of Claudia?"
"She's very beautiful. And very nice, I liked her very much." Brennan took another sip of wine. "I think she will be very good for Sweets."
"I think I agree with that." Booth drained his glass and watched as Brennan finished her drink as well. "I'm just glad that Sweets decided to come back to the Hoover."
"As am I. I thought it would take more persuading on my part, but I am glad that it did not." Brennan reached for her coat, not noticing that Booth had stopped in his tracks to stare at her. Turning around, her brows furrowed in confusion. "Booth? Are you alright?"
He shook himself out of his shock and smiled. "Yeah. Yeah, Bones. I'm great. Are you ready?" He took her coat and pulled it over her shoulders, helping her into the warm wool.
Brennan turned to smile at him. "Yes, Booth. I'm ready when you are."
As the team gets back into their routine Booth and Brennan continue to explore how their yearlong separation has affected their partnership. And a new investigation will test their patience and Hodgins' expertise. Join us next week for Episode 6.5 x 02: The Panic at the Disco, written by Squinttoyou.