The alarm clock's incessant blaring roused Brennan from her deep sleep. Her hand slammed against the snooze button. Before her pregnancy, she never hit the snooze button in the morning, but things had changed. Besides, Booth would wake her up if she overslept.
'Booth.' The thought spread a contented smile across her lips. She exhaled lightly, and her eyelids cracked just so far that light trickled through her lashes. She slowly turned her head to its side, expecting to see the silhouette of a blanket-wrapped Booth in his early stages of waking.
The bed was empty, but Brennan felt no worry. She rationalized that was probably already up, roaming about her apartment. Maybe he was making breakfast. He did that on occasion. She stretched an arm over the soft, cool sheets. Cool. How long had Booth been up? She heard a crinkling sound as her fingers landed on paper. Why was there paper in the bed? Her eyes snapped open as she grabbed the paper. She jerked into a sitting position to read it, not terribly quickly, as her eighteen-week belly was in the way of that particular movement, but quickly enough that she became lightheaded. The sudden rush of blood brought spots to her vision, which she waited a few moments to clear before reading. The note was written on a sheet of computer paper, black ink, in Booth's scrawled handwriting.
Got a call, dead body, case, you know the drill. Apparently it's a 'fleshy' one, so I called Cam and didn't wake you. Let me know when you get to the lab, if I'm not there already.
P.S. Say good morning to the baby for me!
Brennan set the paper on her lap. "Booth," she muttered. She wasn't angry with him – on the contrary, she was relieved she hadn't been dragged out in the wee morning hours to observe a body whose specifications fell under Cam's expertise. Still, as she turned to set her feet on the floor and pushed herself up, more slowly this time so as not to repeat her lightheadedness, she could not help but wish Booth had at least woken her.
He was so considerate. That consideration was one of the personality traits that had struck Brennan strongly from the beginning. It was a trait she longed for, to have someone show such care and attention toward her, and one she had not known for many years. Brennan had felt his attention and attraction to her from early on in their joint career, but these past few months had been a new level of awareness entirely. She found she loved it. She reveled in it. And yet, at times it was smothering, knowing he thought she required coddling.
Temperance Brennan could have handled being woken up early to prevent that split second of worry in about the fact Booth was gone. She could have handled it, but she knew Booth was only trying to protect her, and despite her wandering trains of thought, she appreciated that.
Booth hopped out of the SUV. Bright lights from first responders lit the dark sky, framing the solitary, small, blue, wooden house. It was barely six a.m., and, despite the numerous police officers milling about, Booth was alone in his trek to the front door. A familiar face greeted him there, flashing a quick toothy grin before speaking.
"Beat you. Body's this way." Cam took stride alongside Booth, leading him down the hallway and off to the left.
Booth mumbled, "Good morning to you, too. I didn't know we were racing."
She smirked slightly, but changed the subject. "So how did you slip away from Dr. Brennan?"
"Very carefully." Cam raised an eyebrow, to which Booth responded quickly, "I left her a note."
"A note?" Cam scoffed. "Good luck with that."
They approached the blue bag on the floor, zipped up tight. The carpeting was stained crimson, but no other gore was present. Booth dug a couple notecards and a pen out of his jacket. "So what've we got here?"
Cam approached the bag, but did not kneel down in Brennan's customary fashion. "Female, which is about all I can tell from the body. Like I told you on the phone, she's pretty mutilated." Cam unzipped the top of the bag in one swift motion, unveiling a grotesquely slashed face and neck as well as a butchered haircut.
Booth took a step back at her sudden reveal. "Whoa, didn't need to – that's enough, put that back, I get the picture."
"The pattern is similar to that unsolved case we had a few weeks ago," Cam informed as she zipped the bag back up.
"Yeah, I got that much from the detective's description over the phone, Cam." He scribbled something, taking a quick glance around the room before continuing. "Get the body back to the lab. I'm going to check up with these other guys, see what they know about who owns the house. See if there are any possible connections to the last murder fitting this M.O." He turned and was at once gone from the room.
"Sure thing, Booth, I'll just…" Cam sighed. He was gone. She raised her voice to call out to the nearby tech, "Can I get some help over here?"
Meanwhile, Booth approached the detective who had called him earlier that morning. "What do we know?"
"House belongs to a Ms. Elizabeth Greene, single, mid-thirties. The victim's mother came by early this morning, to drop off Ms. Greene's eight-month-old daughter. She's a nurse; she has to be at the hospital at five-thirty. She'd kept the baby for the night. She's right over there, the victim's mother, I mean." He rifled through his papers, "A… Robin Greene. I've got the witness statement right here. Anyway, she called local PD at four forty-nine after discovering the victim."
"Thanks. Let me know if anything comes up." Booth shot off in Regina Greene's direction.
Brennan arrived at the Jeffersonian without any further information as to what was going on. She had opted not to call Cam or Booth on the basis that they would likely be waiting for her at the lab. She rounded a corner and had just stepped through the sliding glass doors when she was accosted.
"Dr. Brennan!" A high-pitched female voice yelled, immediately followed by a squeal. The next thing Brennan knew, two arms tightly encircled her and Daisy's face was unpleasantly close to her own.
Brennan stiffened in the young woman's grasp. She made no physical motion to free herself, but stated firmly, "Ms. Wick, unhand me immediately."
Daisy retracted her arms and took a step back, eyes lighting up as if she just realized she had invaded Brennan's personal space. "I'm so sorry, Dr. Brennan, but Lance told me that you're having a baby, and I am so excited for you! You are going to have the cutest little baby! I can't wait to see him – or her! Do you know the gender—"
Daisy's eyes lit up and a smile spread across her face. "I can't wait to see you all cute and big! You're gonna be the cutest pregnant woman ever!"
Brennan raised her voice. "Ms. Wick! Enough!"
"Oh, yes, Dr. Brennan. I apologize for my outburst. You know I don't mean any harm; I'm just so excited for you!"
"Yes, I can see that." Brennan looked at Daisy's still bouncing form up and down skeptically. "Has a body been brought in this morning?"
Daisy nodded vigorously. "Dr. Saroyan is in the autopsy suite with it right now." Brennan immediately began in the direction of her office, brushing past Daisy unintentionally. There was a pause before Daisy called after her, "Should I go with you?"
"Meet me in the autopsy room." She set her things down in her office and donned the signature blue lab coat before heading to the autopsy suite.
A heavily mutilated body lay on the table. Cam and Daisy hovered over the table, Daisy watching as Cam worked. Booth was at least fifteen feet away, facing away from the action, speaking earnestly into his cell phone. He turned at the sound of her entrance, eyes widening at the sight of her. He met her halfway, indicating at his phone and then the door as he said something about dental records.
Brennan smiled, whispering, "Wait for me in my office." Booth smiled in response and left the room.
Their exchange went largely unnoticed by Cam and Daisy. When Brennan reached the table, Cam glanced up, eyes widening in recognition. "Oh, good morning, Dr. Brennan."
"Anything I should know?" Brennan asked, pulling on a nearby pair of latex gloves.
"About the case? The victim's mother found the body early this morning when she came to drop off the victim's daughter. Time of death appears to have been approximately six yesterday evening. As far as other details go, well, look for yourself. We've seen this before."
Brennan squinted at the remains. What was left of the clothing was in shreds – she could make out what had once been a blouse and slacks among the carnage. The majority of the torso had been gashed open, fingernails cut off, and hair clipped unevenly. "The pattern of mutilation bears a marked semblance to the unsolved Turner case, although I would qualitatively conjecture that these wounds are more severe than the previous case."
"As far as I can tell, you're right. Identical methods, deeper slashes, larger contusions."
"I assume my examination will be required?"
"Yes. I should be finished here soon. Two hours and the bones are all yours."
Brennan turned to leave, but Daisy interrupted. "Dr. Brennan?"
"Assist Dr. Saroyan, Ms. Wick." Brennan stated without turning.
"Yes, Dr. Brennan."
"Bones!" Booth jerked from his seat on Brennan's couch as Brennan entered her office.
"No, Booth, sit down." Brennan set a hand on his shoulder and nudged him downward. His knees buckled without resistance. Brennan eased herself down onto the opposite side of the couch, leaving room between them.
"You should have woken me up."
Booth spoke, gesturing apologetically. "Bones, I wanted you to get your sleep. It was 5 a.m., and I didn't think you would go back to sleep that late."
"Booth," Brennan looked him square in the eyes, "do you know what it is like for me to go to sleep with you beside me, but then wake up without you?"
Booth inhaled sharply, swallowed, and mouthed something inaudible before softly murmuring, "Bones…"
Brennan's eyes pierced Booth's as she frankly admitted, "I felt like I had been abandoned." Booth's eyes widened, and his mouth opened to say something, but Brennan spoke continued before he could. "When my parents left, Russ started sleeping in my room with me, on the floor. One morning I woke up and he wasn't there. He wasn't anywhere in the house. He came back, but… that was the day the social worker came." She looked down, gulping, composing herself before ending her tangent. "While I appreciated the note, which quickly calmed my fears, I worried all morning until I saw you here."
"Bones, I'm so sorry. I just wanted the best for you."
In general Brennan form, her words were simple, truthful, and the message behind them obvious. "I know that, Booth. I know you. I am not angry. I just ask that you do not do it again."
"Never. I'll wake you up next time." Booth grinned. "It'll be practice for the baby."
Brennan's brow creased. "How will waking me up before a case be practice for the baby?"
"C'mon, Bones," Booth jibed. He elbowed her playfully. "Surely you know babies don't sleep through the night."
Her eyes lit up in recognition and her tone took on an excited quality. "Oh! Yes, I am familiar with that fact." She nodded enthusiastically, "I see the analog now. It will be practice for when I must wake up to breastfeed."
Booth glanced about nervously at where this conversation was turning. "Uh, yeah, that." Booth slid his hand to hers, squeezing it tightly. There were a few seconds of silence between the two of them as they each contemplated the conversation they had just had. Booth broke the silence, slipping his hand from hers as he asked, "So, the case?"
"Oh, yes." Her voice changed to a professional quality, "The body bears marked similarities to the Turner case. Were there any connections at the crime scene?"
"Other than both murders occurring in the victims' homes when they were alone and no sign of forced entry, no."
Brennan frowned. "Do you suspect a correlation?"
"Sweets thinks it's a serial killer? Is that why you didn't bring me along?"
"Uh," Booth shifted uncomfortably, fearing the truth might upset her. He finally conceded, "Yeah, actually."
Brennan's eyes shifted between Booth's rapidly, but she said nothing.
Booth's explanation was halting. "Bones, I didn't… I didn't tell you everything about that last case. Sweets – his profile – he said… he said if it was part of a string of serial murders, the killer would be targeting women she sees as motherly, and Bones, when the detective told me what the body looked like, I made that connection. I just," he gulped and glanced downward before returning his gaze hers. "I didn't want to put you at risk. Whoever this is, she could have still been hanging around, and if she'd seen you, Bones." His eyes softened, fixating momentarily upon her belly. His voice strengthened to his final resolve, "I won't put you at risk."
Brennan smiled slightly, but her voice was firm, "I can take care of myself, Booth."
His voice raised in pitch. "Did you see that body? She probably thought she could take care of herself, too."
"Booth, I am trained in –"
"I don't care what you're trained in! You're pregnant! Let me do the protecting!"
"Just because I'm pregnant doesn't mean I can't protect myself!"
"Yes, it—" He leaned back in the couch, away from her, and took a deep breath. "You know what? I'm not arguing." He pushed his hands down on his knees. "Next time, I'll wake you up, I'll ask you. Are you okay with that?"
Brennan nodded and said, "Yes."
"Okay." He pushed himself from her couch, turning around to say, "Let me know when you guys find something."
Brennan tilted her head. "If we find something."
"Bones, you'll find something. You always do." He extended an arm to her, which she gratefully accepted, and helped her to her feet.
"No problem, Bones." He grinned widely, dropped her hand, and took two steps toward the door before Brennan called after him.
"Booth, why were you watching Cam do the autopsy this morning?"
He turned, shaking his head as he spoke, "I wasn't."
Brennan raised an eyebrow and asked skeptically, "Then why were you in there?"
Booth smirked and said, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world, "Well, I was talking on the phone, getting feedback from Cam. But mostly, I was waiting for you."
Brennan indicated to the couch. "You could have waited in here."
"That would have been too obvious."
"Booth, everyone here knows." She smirked and crossed the distance between them. In an instant, her hands grabbed his collar, pulling him down to her level and kissing him. "No mistletoe necessary," she whispered against his ear. She pushed away, leaving a still bewildered Booth who had obviously been caught off guard. "Have a good day, Booth."
"You too, Bones." He left, eyes still wide, smiling magnificently.