A/N: This is the fifth episode in a collaborative effort between myself and other writers from our Bones fansite Bonesology. (Link available at my profile) To make sure we let as many readers as possible know that we're doing this, I'm posting the this chapter here under my profile.
NO OTHER CHAPTERS WILL BE POSTED HERE! If you'd like to read the entire season, including the four episodes before this one, please head over to our group profile, Bonesology Writers Collective (id: 2803426) and subscribe! The link to our profile is on my profile as well.
6.5 x 05 The Hazard in the Safe Haven~ Written by TravelingSue
As the mid-day sun beat down on the shade-free expanse of road in front of the old cemetery, Sam, a large, brawny man in blue coveralls called out to his underling,"Murphy, get the hell over here." He leaned on his shovel and retrieved his handkerchief, automatically wiping away the sweat and road dust already clinging to his face. After a moment, he pushed his handkerchief back into his pocket.
Shifting slowly, his gray eyes lifted as he watched Murphy, his best laborer, grab a shovel and make his way towards him. Watching the young man as he loped easily across the uneven ground, Sam had to bite back a laugh. A grin curled his lips when he thought of the number of propositions Murphy seemed to have to fend off on a daily basis. Never a dull day with Murphy around, he thought to himself as he shook his head. The kid looked like a mess at the end of each work day but it never seemed to have a negative impact on the female attention he received. He'd watch, fascinated day after day, as Murphy ignored each and every shameless advance. But Sam knew Murphy was totally consumed by the love of his life, and a man couldn't fake a love like that. The kid wasn't jaded enough to know how to hide it, and it was more than obvious that every word, every action was for her. "Good kid", he thought, then amended quickly, "Good Man".
As he scanned the road, Sam's thoughts redirected themselves to the job at hand. His company was charged with the delicate task of widening the road that led past St. Mary's Cemetery. As he glanced at the sign, he flushed with embarrassment, realizing he'd just cursed and thought, "Helen's gonna give me hell tonight."
As Murphy joined him, he motioned toward the pile of rubble mounded near the side of road they were widening. The contract required they install sidewalks as well as repave the road, so even soil close to the cemetery needed to be excavated.
Sam pushed his spade into the soil and said, "Damn good thing this contract came up." Then he added more to himself, "At least we'll have work for a couple more weeks."
Murphy looked up sharply then asked concerned,"Sam, business that bad?"
Sam shook his head and replied, "Not that bad, we're still in the black for now, but jobs are harder to come by lately."
Murphy looked concerned, his thoughts moved quickly to his wife and new baby. As he dug into the rocky soil with his shovel he said quietly, "Hope you won't have to layoff anyone."
Sam pushed his shovel into the earth not saying a word, knowing he couldn't provide any guarantees. But he did know Murphy would be the last to go. The kid was that good, that dependable. Focusing back on the rubble, he pushed the shovel deep into the soil near the base of a large angel statue near the cemetery's entrance. It struck something hard, most probably a rock or even part of the statue's anchor, he thought. He moved to leverage the shovel under it as he reassured the kid, "No, it's not that bad yet. Don't worry about it, we'll be fine."
He pried the shovel tip under what he now knew was an errant rock and heard a slight grinding. He lifted the shovel eye-level, and the sudden realization of what he was staring at made him drop everything and jump back in shock.
"What the hell?" Sam shouted as he pointed at the skull. He watched it rock drunkenly until it stopped, facing him, making the hair rise on the back of his neck as the empty eye sockets seem to meet his.
Murphy saw what Sam had uncovered and quickly echoed, "Oh shit!"
"Booth, could you come over here please?" Brennan barely looked up from where she was leaning over the remains, her body encased in her standard Jeffersonian jump suit.
Booth, only a few steps away interviewing the construction crew, glanced up and caught her eye as he nodded, silently letting her know he'd join her in a minute. He gestured to the work crew's foreman."Crime scene is off limits."
Sam, thinking of the income lost, turned worried eyes to the agent. "Sir, is there any way we can continue working the job?"
Booth looked at the man, knowing from the initial interview that this was the only job his crew had and it would hurt them financially. He waved to a passing agent and instructed him to begin roping off sections of the recovery area. "Yeah, just keep a perimeter of 30 meters clear. I'll have the FBI techs rope off the scene and as long as you stay outside the markers and out from underfoot, you can continue working."
Sam put out his hand and shook Booth's firmly, "Thanks, we really appreciate it. Times are a little tough right now," he said quietly.
Booth nodded."I've got everything I need, but you may want to give the crew a break for half an hour or so and we'll be gone completely in a few hours."
Sam nodded his agreement and turned back to his men.
Booth turned away and walked towards Brennan, glancing at the excavated site. The bones nearly glowed, lit from the mid-day sun. He looked at the remains and quickly noted how small they were.
He focused, note cards in hand at the ready to take Brennan's initial assessment. "Okay, Bones. What have we got?"
Brennan glanced up; her sunglasses perched on her nose as she squinted up to meet his eyes. Seeing her furrowed brow, he squatted down next to her as she nodded her thanks and began.
"Female, early thirties based on basic bone markers, pelvic bone indicates she's never given birth, approximately 152 centimeters." She gestured with her hand extended pointing towards a portion of the exposed ribcage, "It appears that she's been shot, but I'll need the body and soil samples transported to the lab to confirm when and where."
Booth looked up from his notes and asked, "Anything else?"
"Based on the level of decomposition, I'd say the victim was buried at least a year ago," she added, "possibly longer."
She stretched her back as she stood, then inclining her head towards the cemetery she asked, "Can you ascertain any specific meaning from the burial site?"
Booth looked towards the quiet cemetery, taking in the headstones just visible over the rise of the hill as well as the simple but oddly beautiful divine visage under which the remains had been discovered. "I thought you didn't like conjecture, Bones."He fought his amusement at her scowl with raised hands in defense. "I'm just saying…it's too early to take anything from the scenario. And far be it from me to guess."
"Because we don't guess." Brennan nodded solemnly. "You're learning."
Giving up all pretenses, Booth let the smile cross his face. "Gee, thanks, Bones." He turned and waved at the agents and techs behind him. "You heard the lady, get all of this to the Jeffersonian!"
Brennan swiped her card through the secure access card reader and quickly joined Cam, Wendell and Hodgins as they converged over the remains which had been arranged on one of the stainless steel examination tables. The body was completely stripped of flesh, resting starkly white on the polished surface. She grabbed a set of latex gloves, snapping them on as she turned to Wendell and asked, "Mr. Bray, what are your findings?"
"It appears,"using the webcam microscope, he focused over the sternum and pointed to the screen nearby and completed his thought, "The victim was shot once at point blank range".
Brennan nodded and asked, "Have you determined the caliber of the weapon, Mr. Bray?"
"It appears to be a .38, Dr. Brennan," Wendell replied confidently. Brennan glanced down and saw the reason for Wendell's confidence; the damage to the posterior sixth rib confirmed his claim.
Cam added as she pointed to the abrasions on several ribs, "Considering none of the soil samples provided turned up a bullet, and the fact that the damage doesn't indicate and through and through, I'd say the bullet was removed from the body."
Brennan automatically reached to feel the damaged rib with her gloved hand. Her sensitive fingers felt the rough kerf marks most likely left behind by a knife and nodded, "Cam, I agree the killer was aware enough to remove the evidence."
Brennan was, as always, so focused on the task at hand she never noticed that Angela had joined them on the platform. The artist greeted the group then turned to Cam with concern. "At least you won't need to autopsy this one, Cam. You looked a little green last time."
Cam remembered with a shudder and replied, "No mentholated ointment needed for this one, thankfully." With a sigh, she shifted her weight to ease the discomfort in her back and added, "Paul is seriously upset with me. He doesn't like my working around the remains if they make my stomach jumpy. He's taking this whole fatherhood thing to a new extreme. He's already started baby-proofing." Despite her tone, Cam affected a wistful look, absently rubbing her rounded belly.
Hodgins noticed his sensible boss's distraction and glanced at Angela, wondering what she was thinking, and turned in time to see his wife's eyes soften in response. It was another of those times where their closeness was almost palpable, despite his persistent feeling that she was drifting away from him.
With an effort, Hodgins pushed the melancholy from his mind, shaking his head. "Cam, leave the poor man alone. He's in love with you, and you know how crazy that makes us all."
With an exasperated sigh, Cam retorted sharply, "Well considering I'm a medical doctor as well, he should trust me to do right by our baby."
Brennan still focused on the remains, asked with a slightly concerned expression crinkling her brow, "Does he not trust your judgment?"
Cam glanced over at Brennan, taken aback slightly, "No, no, he does. He's just being an overprotective father. He drops the rational medical professional at the door when we're alone."
Brennan met Cam's eyes in confusion. "How does he do that? Separate himself from his profession, I mean."
Cam glanced at Angela looking for guidance and Angela sighed in resignation. "Bren, Cam just means that his priority is Cam and the baby." Their eyes met and she added, "Rational thinking kind of leaves the room when you're considering what is best for the people you love."
Brennan nodded, mentally deciding to discuss this finer point with Booth. She refocused on the remains briefly, then pointed to the bones of the wrist and asked, "Mr. Bray, I see micro-fractures of the hamate, scaphoid and trapezium, all defensive in nature."
Cam glad to have the conversation move back to the victim also pointed to the base on the victims on femur and added, "Mr. Bray could you extract this titanium screw at the base on the femur as well." She glanced up and added, "The screw should have a serial number, and we should have the victim's identity today."
Brennan smiled at Cam, "Excellent, Booth will be pleased." Her eyes continued their examination of the bones, her brow crinkled with concentration as she catalogued.
"It appears she's had several breaks that have healed over an extended period along her rib cage and sternum as well as the scapula." She glanced up sharply, her mouth tightened as she added in a voice tinged with restrained anger, "This victim had been abused over a period of several years."
Angela sighed sadly. "Poor thing, she lived and died so violently."
Brennan shook her head. "Mr. Bray, let's get these bones into the bone room. We need to map all the injuries so that Angela can provide us a scenario of how of each took place." She added, though it was unnecessary, "Please extract the titanium screw first, that would be the priority." Seeing Wendell's nod of assent, she quickly removed her gloves and walked off in the direction of her office.
Angela took one more sad look before turning to head towards her own office. As an afterthought, she stopped next to Wendell, placing a hand on his arm. "Just let me know when you're ready with the injuries. I'll be waiting for you in my office." She then walked off without a word to anyone else.
Hodgins stared at her retreating form for a moment, turning over in his head the reasons why his wife would pointedly ignore him, barely able to look him in the eye, while making a point of reaching out to Wendell physically. He knew nothing was going on between Angela and Wendell, and he trusted them implicitly, but he still couldn't shake this feeling that Angela was unhappy with him and their marriage and he was at a total loss as to why.
A knock on her door brought Cam out of her work, and she smiled as Paul entered the office and bent close to brush her cheek with a kiss. "Hi there, you ready for lunch?" She asked.
Paul laughed as an eager expression crossed Cam's face, the thought of the impending meal obviously making her practically giddy. "Absolutely. Let's get the two of you fed." He watched as Cam shut down her computer and collected her light jacket before turning to him eagerly. "So, how are you feeling today?"
Cam's eyes sparkled as she answered him, "Well, weare in the mood for a chef salad. With extra ranch dressing and hard-boiled eggs. You?"
Paul's eyes caressed her face then leaned into kiss her lips lingeringly. "Is it strange that I find your baby-induced food excitement completely adorable?"
Fighting an eye-roll, Cam looped her arm through Paul's as he led her out of the office and through the lab. "I have never been a huge fan of being called 'adorable'." She ignored her boyfriend's amused snort as she continued. "However…this baby is making me into a big softy lately, so I am prepared to let it slide." At Paul's grin, she raised a finger to his face. "Just this once."
"Fine…fine." Paul chuckled as they reached the sliding glass doors, waiting as several lab employees crossed in front of them. "Sexy, gorgeous, smoking hot…but never adorable. Got it."
"Don't patronize me; I'm so hormonal I could snap at any moment." She reached up and lightly pinched his ear lobe affectionately, allowing him to lead her into the Jeffersonian parking structure. Giving him a solemn look, she touched his face softly. "But thank you."
"You're welcome, Camille." Paul gave her a dazzling smile as he bent to unlock her door and usher her into the car. "Now, let's go get you two some grub."
Brennan walked into Angela's office having already been informed by Wendell that he had removed the surgical screw from the victim and had delivered it to Angela. Confident that Angela had had adequate time with the evidence to provide an identity; she failed to knock as she entered. As Brennan turned the slight corner into the room where the Angelatron was used, she noticed Angela staring at a framed photograph of her and Hodgins in front of the Eiffel tower, her expression wistful with longing. She interrupted her friend's daydream as she asked, "Missing Paris, Ange?"
Angela turned startled and said with a rueful smile, "Probably more than you know." She stared back at Brennan, knowing that her friend cared but didn't have the words to express her concern. It was one of those times that Angela appreciated Brennan's awkwardness; it came in handy when you wanted to avoid painful conversations. Then, as though she just realized she had relevant information to the case, Angela quickly hit a few keys on her computer pad. A beautiful woman appeared on the virtual screen, her face surrounded by a Missing Person's logo complete with contact information.
Letting Angela's obvious and abrupt subject change slide for the time being, Brennan's eyes focused on the image before her of a slight blonde woman with an impish smile.
"Is this the victim?"
"Yes, I ran a scan to see if there was any information on her once I got her name from the screw." She paused then added, "She was reported missing 18 months ago by her husband. It states here the last time he saw her was at their place of business, a Duffy's Irish Pub."
"Does Booth know?"
"Not yet, do you want me to send this over?" Angela asked.
"Yes, but make sure to notify Cam at the same time, "she turned to leave and said, "I'll call Booth, I'm sure he'll want to notify the next of kin as soon as possible."
Brennan glanced at the screen and read, "Rick Henley." Her mouth tightened slightly as she asked, almost to herself, the question Angela had avoided, "I wonder if he abused her?"
Turning abruptly without waiting for a response from Angela, she left the room and quickly made a call to Booth. She provided him with Angela's information, and then asked, "Will you be picking me up before you speak with the husband?"
"Of course. You're my partner, aren't you?" Booth asked, surprised at her question.
Brennan smiled, pleased by how they had been getting back to their old routines with almost no trouble. She had wondered if their recent revelations about the lives they wanted would make things awkward, but to her surprise it had only made them more comfortable with each other. It was almost as if they had removed an invisible barrier that had been looming over them since that night in front of the Hoover building almost two years ago, and the relief Brennan felt at that fact was immeasurable. She turned her attention back to the man waiting for her on the phone. "Give me a call when you get to the lab. I'll meet you out by the front entrance."
"Will do, Bones. See ya in twenty." Booth agreed before disconnecting.
Brennan went to her office and quickly picked up her bag, then decided she could use a few minutes of fresh air. Instead of heading for the front doors, she walked out the lab's side entrance and into the majestic gardens of the Jeffersonian.
As she took notice of the new rose buds struggling to bloom, she thought of her time in Maluku. The project may have not impacted the scientific world as she had hoped, but it had impacted her. While away, she realized that clinging to the more rational, scientific aspects of the world in an effort to shield herself from pain and confusion was no longer the right course of action. Science, for the first time in her life, had failed her all those months ago, something that she desperately sought to change.
She was changing, slowly in small increments but it was happening and she surprisingly didn't fear those changes. Smiling to herself, Brennan checked her watch and walked hurriedly through the meticulously-tended flower beds, heading for the steps at the front of the museum where Booth was waiting for her.
Booth opened the door to Duffy's Irish Pub, standing to the side to allow Brennan to enter first. She nodded, accepting the gesture, knowing it was just Booth's ingrained need to be the gentleman. He'd have done it with anyone, and it actually had nothing to do with her ability to open a door for herself.
Behind the counter, the bartender said sociably, "Sorry folks, we're not open for another few hours."
Booth withdrew his badge and flashed it, "FBI, we'd like to speak to a Mr. Rick Henley?"
The man's eyes widened, and then visibly swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat,"You found her?"
"Are you Rick Henley?" Booth asked making sure he knew who he was speaking to.
"Yeah sure, I'm Rick. Did you find Amanda?" he asked, his voice tight with strain.
"Mr. Henley, I'm sorry to inform you that your wife's body was found just outside St. Mary's Cemetery."
Booth watched as the man stiffened. His shoulders squared and his face locked down into what could only be described as 'standing at attention'. At that moment, Booth was positive he was speaking to a former soldier. The stoic look, the command of his body, was a dead giveaway. Rick sagged against the counter, pain and disappointment etched in his features. Booth looked closely at the man's face as a flicker of guilt passed through his eyes, serving to add to his suspicions. Remembering Brennan's assessment that Amanda had been abused, he knew that in these situations, the culprit was nearly always the husband.
Brennan stood next to Booth calmly as she watched Rick's reaction as well. She saw emotions flicker in his eyes, but they were so brief she couldn't describe them. She had noted upon announcing their official roles how Rick had become agitated, and she also surmised he had a military background, his body language clear even to her on that account. Brennan glanced at Booth, knowing he'd have picked up on that as he was prone to do.
Glancing around the bar while Booth brought Rick up to speed on the investigation, Brennan noticed that the bar itself had a comfortable feel to it. Noting the pub specials and the many beers on tap, she moved quietly around the bar and looked with interest at the various pictures hung on the walls. She spotted several of a younger Rick Henley in a Green Beret uniform, smiling widely towards the camera and hugging Amanda to his side. These were hung in a place of honor surrounded by several photographs obviously taken while Rick had been deployed. Upon closer inspection she thought it might have been in Iraq, but she wouldn't swear to it. Booth would know for sure.
She then returned to Booth's side as he added for Rick's benefit, "I'll expect to see you at 9 AM sharp tomorrow, at this point it's an interview. We need your cooperation if we're going to find out who did this to your wife."
Rick looked hesitant at first, but then straightened his shoulders and added with surety he obviously didn't feel, "Sure, sure I'll be there." Then he stared at Booth intently his voice colored by a barely suppressed anger, "Amanda was my life, though I may not have always shown it." He nodded sharply, his eyes never leaving Booth's face as he added, "I'll help anyway I can."
Booth nearly turned to leave but decided to test the man before him, wanting to gauge his reaction, "It appears that Amanda was the victim of long-term abuse. Can you tell us about that?"
Rick winced, as he stared at the far wall, his voice devoid of emotion, "I can…"
Booth nodded tightly, "In that case, I think it's best that you come in to my office so we can have a chat."
"Do I have time to call one of my managers in? The bar is due to open shortly."
Booth glanced down at his watch and handed Rick a business card with the Hoover's address,"You've got an hour."
Rick nodded solemnly, "I'll be there."
Booth turned to Brennan and asked, "You ready?"
She nodded, and as Booth opened the door to the pub he glanced back and watched as Rick slumped against the bar, hand covering a face filled with agony and guilt. Booth filed the information away as he followed Brennan out of the bar and into the afternoon sunlight.
Once they were back in the car and on the way to the lab, Booth decided to test Brennan's seemingly newfound insight into human behavior. "So, Bones…what did you make of Rick?" He gave her a quick smile of encouragement. Brennan bit down softly on her bottom lip as she assembled her thoughts. Booth had to hold back a groan at the picture she made, though anyone watching him carefully would have noted the tightening of his jaw.
Completely unaware of his reaction to her innocent mulling, she answered him after a moment, "He appeared shocked. But I have no way of knowing if it was because Amanda was found after such a long time or because she'd been murdered."
Booth nodded in agreement. Having his own thoughts on it, he encouraged her to continue and asked, "What else?"
Toying with her phone she looked up at Booth's profile and replied, "He had a military background and Amanda had been with him a long time."
"You picked that up in the interview?"
Brennan shook her head, "No, I was looking at the photographs around the bar. There was several of him in uniform," she paused then added, "Rick in his army uniform with Amanda. There were several photographs displayed quite proudly." She added as though cataloging, "They looked to be at least 10 years younger and quite happy."
Booth smiled then nodded. "Yeah, it looks like they had a long history." He glanced over at her and asked, "Anything else get your attention?"
"I noticed you picked up on his military training nearly immediately."
Booth laughed a bit in surprise and asked, "Really, you saw that?"
"I noticed your demeanor changed as well. You carry yourself differently when you encounter a fellow soldier." She asked curiously, "Was it his stance that tipped you off?"
"Yeah, definitely. Former military always come off the same way."
"I imagine it's innate when an authority figure is presented," Brennan surmised.
Booth laughed,"You're getting better at this, Bones. A couple more months and I'll have you making assumptions and jumping to conclusions."
She rolled her eyes, "That's highly doubtful."
"Nah, you just wait and see…" He placed his thumb in his teeth and thought about the man they had just spoken with. "I think they had problems, major ones. Were there pictures from the time period after he left the service?"
Brennan nodded slowly as she answered, "Yes, there appeared to be several. My impression is that their marital troubles started after he was discharged."
"Why do you think that?"
"Her expression…"She glanced over at him with uncertainty.
Booth reached out and nudged her arm, "Tell me what you're thinking."
"Well, her features were quite tight even though she was smiling in the photographs. The smile was so different from the earlier photographs, no longer carefree but more careful," Brennan explained.
Booth nodded and quietly considered his partner's thoughts on the case as he kept his eyes focused on the road.
When he failed to respond to her last statement, Brennan shrugged and sighed, "This part of the case, what you refer to as your 'stuff' is not my strong suit; you know that."
"Hey, come on Bones. You're using your judgment, which is always good with me. I know you wouldn't have put it out there at all unless you thought it was true," Booth added quietly.
Brennan smiled slightly as her face flushed, pleased in Booth's trust. Trying to deflect, she asked, "What did you think? What is your gut telling you?"
Booth shrugged,"My all too unscientific gut tells me he didn't kill her, but I don't think he is completely innocent either."
Brennan looked surprised that Booth had already come to that conclusion and said quickly,"Booth, you know statistically he's the most likely suspect. I'm working on an assumption based on the evidence already presented, I believe he abused her. And if that is true, he is the most likely suspect." She sighed, and then continued, "What did you see?"
Booth frowned,"Like I said, I think he's guilty of abuse. I got all kinds of vibes of guilt off of him. But when I told him his wife was dead, there was real pain there. I don't think he could have faked it, it was too unguarded. And believe it or not, I saw real love there as well."
"Regardless of how many times we encounter a situation like this it always perplexes me. How can someone claim to love another that much and still try to hurt them?" She asked, clearly frustrated.
Booth's thoughts slid sidewise, his thoughts flashing back to his own father for a brief moment. Pushing that aside, he glanced at Brennan. "We all do things that hurt the ones we love, it's human nature. To the extent Rick may have hurt Amanda? No, not usually. And almost never physically. But the possibility is always there. We can control it, for the most part…most of us, anyway." He ran his hand across his jaw, "Outside circumstances, while never an excuse, can push us to do things that we know are wrong. And maybe, whatever happened to Rick while he was over there broke something in him. I've seen it happen plenty of times, a good man can lose that tightly held control that otherwise would have prevented him from laying a hand on his wife." His fists clenched on the steering wheel as he finished, a sudden tiredness crossing his features.
Brennan reached over and touched Booth's arm, lightly rubbing the tightness away. She was better at reading his emotions than anyone, and he marveled, not for the first time, at how much she underestimated herself in that area. And it made him wonder if she could always see the feelings and emotions that he tried so hard to hide from the rest of the world.
Booth smiled in response, the tightness in his chest lifted by her simple touch. He nodded at her un-verbalized question, as he pulled into the Jeffersonian's main entrance.
Agent Turner walked into Booth's office shortly after he returned, carrying a thick manila folder. Booth nodded in recognition and leaned back in his chair. "What have you got for me, Turner?"
She took the seat across from her boss's desk, and then casually flipped her blonde hair back before concentrating on the file in front of her. "There is a history of abuse, as Dr. Brennan suspected."
Booth grinned,"Turner, the sooner you figure out that Dr. Brennan suspects nothing without proof the easier your life will be."
Turner met his eyes briefly, she knew she was damn lucky to be part of Booth's team, but her training was so ingrained that it couldn't be ignored. "Well, I prefer to have the proof in front of me before I take anyone else's word for it, sir."
"Well then, tell me this, Turner," he paused, his eyes serious as they met hers, "How you can take stock in Sweets' profile without a second thought?"
He smirked as he watched the tell tale blush work up her neck, slowly covering her cheeks.
"Ah…well…" she stammered and then cleared her throat and added clearly, "Dr. Sweets is a scientist as well and he has a proven track record as a profiler, as you already know." Straightening her shoulders she asked, "So, why shouldn't I take the word of one of the FBI's most successful profiler's as gospel?"
"So, you believe Sweets but you don't believe Dr. Brennan. That's pretty hypocritical of you, don't you think?" Booth asked quirking a brow, amused, as he wondered if she'd take the bait.
Turner knew she was caught, as just like Sweets', Dr. Brennan's record was unassailable. She shrugged self-deprecatingly and fixed a tight smile across her lips. "You are correct, my personal relationship with Dr. Sweets makes me a tad biased about his abilities and I'm sure that it's the same for you and Dr. Brennan. I apologize." When she saw his jaw tighten, she added with a laugh, "Do you want my report or would you like Dr. Brennan to tell you?"
Booth grinned, Turner was a good agent but her smart mouth was going to get her into trouble if he didn't put a lid on it soon. "I'll take the report from you, and maybe I won't write you up for insubordination."
The flush in her cheeks was back, Booth noted with satisfaction. Looking down at her notes for a moment, Turner shook her head. "My apologies, sir. Won't happen again." Booth waved his hand, urging her to get to the file. With a deferential nod, she began. "Rick Henley was brought up on spousal abuse charges five times in a period of four years prior to the victim's death." Running down her list, she added, "But the incidents stopped a year before her death."
Booth sighed, already having known that would be the case. "Why do you think the calls stopped?"
Turner looked back to her notes and answered, "It appears she took out a restraining order on him a year prior. At the time of last incident, she had a different residence from her husband."
"That makes sense, she would have moved out by then," He looked up for a moment, thinking."Well, right now Rick is definitely looking more and more guilty." He stood and looked out the window and added,"Do you have anything on his service record?"
"Uh yeah," she glanced down to the file in her lap, "he was discharged honorably, but most of his records are classified – I was told it was a 'need-to-know' type situation."
Booth turned back to her, "That's code for he was into some serious shit." He added, "I'll see what I can dig up, I've got a few friends at the Pentagon. I'll make some calls." He sat back down at his desk and picked up his office phone.
Turner knew that last sentence was dismissal but hesitated. He put down the receiver he'd just picked up and asked, "Turner you got something you want to share?"
"Yeah, I found a commonality in her complaints that I think is important," Turner added seriously.
"And that is?""The officer called to the scene that filled out nearly all the arrest paper work was the same guy," glancing back down at her notes, she added, "a Detective Matt Williams."
"Great, call him in. He might be able to give us more than what the official reports have provided."He dismissed her with a look she'd come to recognize and she rose to leave, hesitating again in the door way. "Is there anything else?"
"Keep looking over the reports for commonalities and pull any hospital reports too," Booth added, his eyes already scanning his directory of contacts. "And get that interview with Detective Williams set up as soon as possible. Also, give Sweets a call. I may need a profile on this."
"You got it," she left and as she closed the door she heard Booth speak to the caller, "Hey Mack, I need a favor."
While Brennan had been out with Booth, Wendell had been going over the bones with meticulous detail, carefully mapping the age and extent of the injuries inflicted on Amanda Henley. He stepped back for a moment and looked at the small frame and shook his head. He wondered what this woman could possibly have done to deserve this sort of abuse. Lifting a femur he saw it had been broken in two places and had healed approximated three years earlier. Picking up his clip board, he added it to the many injuries he had already catalogued.
He heard the sound of footsteps and recognized them without turning. He knew the sound of Dr. Brennan's approach nearly as well as his own mother's. At times, he was still amazed she'd selected him as her intern. He'd always be grateful that she'd selected him as part of her rotation; -no one was more respected in their field.
Brennan stepped into the room and asked, briskly and businesslike, "Mr. Bray, what have you found?"
Wendell looked up and smiled at his mentor then began his report. "Based on the evidence and corroborated with the information Agent Turner provided, it appears the victim was abused for a period of about three years. She suffered twelve complete breaks over that time period, though it appears there were four separate incidents where multiple breaks were received." Wendell paused as he watched Dr. Brennan reviewing his conclusions.
He asked curious,"Do you think her husband abused her and then killed her?"
Brennan's eyes met his and shook her head adding, "Our job is not to hypothesize, Mr. Bray. Ours is to give Booth the facts and, if possible, the scenarios that fit those facts." Her gazed sharpened as she added tartly, "I would think after all this time you'd have stopped with any conjecture on cases you are presented."
Ruefully, Wendell scratched his neck, embarrassed by the lapse as he stammered, "Yes, of course. Sorry Dr. B. I must have been hanging out with Sweets and Turner too much lately."
Confused, Brennan asked, "You're spending time with Dr. Sweets and Agent Turner?"
"Yeah, a bit. We usually end up getting a beer after a case. Just, you know unwinding?" Wendell replied, somewhat defensively.
Brennan nodded decisively. "That's good; I've found that having relationships outside of my work enriches my life greatly." Her demeanor softened slightly. "Though I hope that Sweets and Turner's tendency to jump to conclusions doesn't rub off on you. Remember, here at the Jeffersonian, we work with hard science and facts and we leave the soft sciences and conjecture to the FBI." She added firmly, "Is that clear, Mr. Bray?"
Wendell nodded and agreed, "You're absolutely correct. Our biggest contribution is to present the facts," he added, "I won't forget again."
"Excellent, shall we proceed?" Brennan asked.
"Yes, of course, Dr. Brennan." Wendell agreed, presenting each injury in order of occurrence, including timeframe and possible weapon used, until he reached the injury that was fatal. His explanation was stalled by the arrival of Angela, who had been working in tandem with the intern to enter each injury into the Angelator as it was noted.
"As I was saying, Dr. Brennan, the angle of how the bullet entered and the degree of bone damage suggests that the attacker was close. Also, the only other damage that occurred at the same time was the wrist injuries." He looked up, hoping he wasn't overstepping his bounds by adding, "I believe they were defensive, as though he had his hands on both of her wrists." Pointing to the right wrist he added, "This was her dominant hand. Her attacker grabbed it with enough force to create several stress fractures within moments of her death."
Angela spoke up, her eyes alight with righteous anger, "So, she wrestled with her attacker. Can you tell if she was facing him or was it from behind?"
"The attacker was facing her," Brennan answered before Wendell could. Then pointing to the wrist she added, "It appears that they are defensive wounds, it's possible she was wrestling the gun away from her attacker. By the angle of the bullet's entry, the defensive wounds she sustained also point to that as well."
Angela asked, "Do you want me to run a few scenarios?"
"Yes, please. I believe Booth would be interested," she took off her gloves and deposited them in the appropriate bin adding, "I'm meeting Booth shortly for an interview, I'll let him know what we've found so far."
Angela nodded and watched Brennan walk out of the room before turning to Wendell, "Okay, get me everything you can and send it to my mainframe. I'd like the number crunching to be done by tomorrow morning so I have something to present."
Wendell nodded,"You got it." He bent back over the table to complete his notes, instantly oblivious to everything but the work in front of him.
"Do you have a minute?" Sweets stepped into Booth's office.
The agent watched as Sweets closed the door behind him. Curious he asked, "What's up Sweets?"
"Agent Turner told me you requested my services on your case?" Sweets began.
Booth watched as he fingered the collar of his shirt pulling at it as though it was suddenly too tight. He smirked reading Sweets discomfort quickly, "Something tells me the case isn't why you're here." Deciding to give himself a break he motioned to the chair across from his desk. For once it was nice to be on the other side of those embarrassing questions Sweets liked to throw at him.
Sweets laughed a blush of embarrassment spreading rapidly across his cheeks, "Yeah, you caught me."
"So why are you here?"
Sweets wanted to ask, he needed to ask. He needed advice and of all the people he could ask it felt like Booth was the only one who could really tell him what he needed to know. But as he stared into the amused eyes of the Special Agent he couldn't say the words. Asking would be a risk; the man did not take well to certain suggestions. He had made a mistake once and it cost them all a year and great heartache. His panic got the better of him. "How are things with you and Dr. Brennan?" he blurted out.
Booth's amusement vanished and his smile turned to a scowl. "Why are you asking me that?" he demanded irritably. "We are fine Sweets! Why are you always trying to shrink us?"
Sweets shrugged then replied, "I know, I know," his hands had automatically moved to the back of his neck, he rubbed at the tension that gathered there. He wasn't sure why he had blurted out that question; it was almost as volatile as his true question. He sighed and forced himself to face the answer. He asked because deliberately provoking Booth's ire was better than facing the question that wouldn't let him be. "I'm fine, forget I said anything."
The dark eyes watching him turned skeptical but Booth nodded. If Sweets didn't want to discuss it, whatever it was, he wasn't going to insist. The kid looked all twisted up and his natural instinct kicked in. He changed the subject to something Sweets would find more comforting. "So, Hooch, my new assistant is turning out to be a pretty good agent."
"Yeah?" Sweets asked with a proud smile. "She's top notch, huh?"
"Yep, still trying to figure out why she gives you the time of day," Booth joked.
Sweets tried not to let the teasing get to him; he knew Booth was playing even if it did sting a little. Reminding himself that humor and gruff affection were Booth's preferred avenues for male bonding he moved on to something more pertinent. He cleared his throat, "You wanted a profile?"
Booth nodded and returned to his desk and asked, "Did you receive everything from the Jeffersonian and Turner?"
"Yeah I have a preliminary if you want to hear it?"
Both felt the tension leave the air quickly and asked, "So, what have you got?"
The young profiler leaned forward and began in earnest, "Well based on the information I requested Henley's psych evaluations. I also reviewed the arrest reports and the information you were able to turn up from your Pentagon contacts and it appears that he suffered PTSD. And until his wife left him, it had gone untreated."
He flipped a few pages in his notebook and added, "He'd been in therapy for over a year when Amanda died, his physician felt he had it under control at that point."
"He said that?" Booth asked making sure he was clear on Sweets point.
He nodded and added, "Yeah, Dr. Peterson definitely thought he had made tremendous progress. He could only share basic diagnostics with me. I'll need Henley's permission to get more or a warrant to get his medical records." He looked up and asked, "He's coming in today?"
"Yeah, I've had him stewing in a room for a little bit now." Booth answered and then asked,"You up to an interrogation?"
Sweets smiled as he met Booth's eyes. "Definitely."
"Anything to report, Wendell?" Cam asked as she stepped through the door.
He turned away from the remains and quirked an eyebrow. "Nothing new, but I can review it with you if you want." Having just been through everything with Dr. Brennan he was a little surprised that she was asking. They had an ID and cause of death, his work now was to catalog the prior injuries so that the case was presented to the FBI in Brennan's definition of complete. But, if there was one thing he had learned around here it was to never assume anything and so he rolled with it.
"No, that's ok, I was just asking," she answered.
Wendell watched as she circled the table absently rubbing her hand on her belly as she reviewed the remains. "Dr. Saroyan, is everything ok?"
"Of course, why wouldn't it be?"
"I don't know, you just seem…" he hesitated knowing the wrong word to a pregnant woman was a dangerous thing. "You seem pensive."
Cam stared at him so long he began to worry. When she spoke her question caught him completely off guard. "Your mom works, right?"
"Huh? Uh…yeah, of course; too much really, but you do what you gotta do. She's a cook for the school system and she pulls a couple of night shifts waiting tables."
"She did that while you were growing up?"
Wendell nodded and elaborated. "The waiting tables came after my dad died, but yeah, she's always worked." Cam seemed lost in a new thought and he had a pretty good idea what this was all about. "I've never understood that thing about women should stay home," he offered turning his eyes back to the body so he didn't make her uncomfortable. "I think I've got the best mom in the world and her working didn't hurt me one bit."
"Your mother did an excellent job, Mr. Bray," Cam said giving his arm a squeeze on her way out of the room.
Wendell turned enough to watch her leave and he smiled. Things were a little different around here these days, but it was all good.
"Mr. Henley, I know your time in Iraq created a lot of emotional stress for you. I've been advised you were seeking assistance from Dr. Peterson." Sweets stated to Rick Henley after he and Booth had been talking with the man for nearly twenty minutes.
Rick met Sweets eyes calmly but then his eyes flickered towards Booth in a much more anxious manner, "Yeah, I tried to deal with it on my own and all that did was alienate my wife from me."
"So what made you change your mind?" Sweets asked, already knowing the answer but often it was how a suspect would disclose this type of information that gave him the real answers he needed. Rick never wavered but before he answered his eyes lowered to the table and his voice became colored with disgust as he answered, "I beat my wife and when she got tired of it and she left me that did it."
"Don't you think after the first arrest that would be enough to get you to seek help?" Booth asked his anger became more evident.
"I know, my friend Matt tried to talk me into therapy more than once, but I just blew him off thinking I could get through it on my own," Rick said quietly.
"So, others knew of your actions?" Booth pressed.
"Just Matt, he was there from the beginning I guess," Rick shrugged.
"How do you mean? He witnessed it?" Booth pressed again not caring if he made Rick uncomfortable.
Rick sighed,"Yeah you could say that. He was there in Iraq with me. We served together and were in the same unit."
Booth pressed on,"What happened over there?"
Rick's eyes shot up surprised, "That's classified."
"Let's just assume I know what happened when that kid got caught in the line of fire,"Booth said his eyes meeting Rick's.
The ex-soldier stared at Booth shocked by the disclosure, "How did you find out?"
"I have my sources. Why don't you tell me what happened?" Booth asked again but not unkindly. He knew it was every serviceman's nightmare to kill a civilian, but a kid was exponentially worse.
Rick's eyes looked unfocused as he replied, his voice devoid of emotion and his eyes staring blankly into space, "Well it seems you're well informed Agent Booth, why don't you tell me?"
"Nope, not gonna be that easy buddy, you tell me," Booth leaned in rapping the table with his knuckles to get his attention. It worked as the noise startled him, he watched as Rick brought himself back to the moment. Shifting forward Booth tried to help him understand. "You gotta be straight with me, soldier. I will find out what happened to her. Don't make it hard for me. Don't dishonor her that way. Don't dishonor that kid."
Rick ran a hand through his hair then began, "It was dark, we had a standard mission. Intelligence gave us a safe house where some insurgents where staying. My unit surrounded the house… I remember it was a moonless night. Night vision goggles help some but you know,"he looked at Booth his eyes nearly desperate, "moonlight would have helped."
Booth nodded, remembering how often he had thought that himself. "Go on," he added quietly trying not to break Rick's remembrances.
"Well, we surrounded the house then all hell broke loose. Someone spotted us somehow. My guy jumped out with an AK47 blazing. I didn't think, I just reacted and took him out."
He shuddered then added, "What I didn't see was that he had a seven-year old kid in his arms using him as a damn fucking human shield." He added his voice dead, "I put two rounds in the kid's head and three in the insurgent's."
Booth empathized. This was definitely a Hell he was fortunate to never have encountered himself but he understood how it happened. The adrenalin, his need to protect his men, nothing was stronger than a bond forged in fire but it made you brittle too. He nodded slowly and said firmly, "You know it wasn't your fault right? You had orders to engage, it was dark and sometimes nothing but bad goes down."
"Yeah," Rick said as his hand scrapped his face raw, "Yeah that's what they told me. Hell, that's what my shrink tells me all the time. I try to believe it." He looked at Booth square in the face and said, "Tell me that wouldn't have tormented you? I dare you."
Booth looked him for a moment one soldier to another and replied quietly, "Yeah, it would have."
Brennan arrived a few minutes after Henley had gone. Booth had asked her to help interrogate Detective Williams, who was due to arrive any minute. She walked into his office and joined Sweets wanting a review of the Henley interrogation.
"Thoughts, Sweets?" Booth asked quickly as he took a seat behind his desk. He knew where he stood but wanted the psychologist's opinion. Sweets sat down and looked at Booth, his mind still processing the image of war that had been invoked in that room, it was raw and it was potent. He sighed quietly and said, "Agent Booth, though it's well documented that he abused his wife he didn't act like he killed her. It was obvious he loved her, but he felt smothered by his torment and took it out on the one person he thought would never leave him."
He looked at Brennan and added, "He hurt the person he loved the most."
Brennan asked, "Dr. Sweets, how does that dissuade you from thinking he didn't kill Amanda?"
Sweets turned towards her to respond noting Booth had said nothing, "The fact that I didn't see that, nothing in his tone indicated guilt or remorse about killing her. Though he was obviously tormented in how unwittingly he may have contributed to her death by abusing her."
He shrugged knowing she'd want more in way of evidence so he added what she needed to hear,"His body language was consistent with telling the truth. He admitted freely that the trauma that had been inflicted on him through no fault of his own, his dependence on Amanda, his torment and finally his resolve to seek counseling all point to a man telling the truth. He hid behind nothing he left his soul bare in that room. If he had killed her, he would have been more agitated. He would have quickly moved to focus our attention on another killer."
Booth added quietly as his eyes met Brennan's, "He blames himself."
"He does?" she asked confused.
"He blames himself because ultimately his actions drove her away and led to her death. If she had been safe with him, like she should have been, whoever did this to her would never have got the chance."
"You found guilt by association but not actual guilt?" she asked confused. "We're back at square one, no closer to the killer," Brennan said rhetorically.
"Yeah," Booth stood and gestured towards the door, "Which means we need answers. Ok, Bones, we're up!" They were quiet as they walked down the corridor both reflecting on what they had learned. Booth paused at the door, "You good, Bones?"
She nodded. "It is quite sad," she said voicing her most troubling thought.
A gloomy smile touched his lips. It was sad. "Only way to help make it a little better is to find the truth."
Her lips lifted in a small show of pride. "And we excel at finding the truth."
"Right you are, partner," he agreed as he opened the door.
They took their seats and the waiting officer looked back expectantly. "Detective Williams, I see you were the investigating officer on multiple abuse arrests of Rick Henley. Can you tell me about those?"Booth started out slow, he knew the facts but he didn't have Williams'impressions and wanted them.
Williams leaned forward slightly and began. "The arrests were over a three-year period. Each time my partner and I were dispatched by a 911 call made by Mrs. Amanda Henley. Each time we were required to take her husband down to the city jail and he was charged with domestic abuse," he paused then added, "She'd drop the charges each time."
Brennan frowned,"Didn't you try to get Amanda out of that situation? She was obviously being abused and had multiple hospital stays as a result."
Matt said his voice hesitated at first, "Yeah, we tried. Each time we tried to get her out of that situation permanently but she'd just go back to him. The last time, he nearly killed her and she finally left."
Booth stated,"But she still didn't press charges."
"Yeah, the final time it was only because he agreed to counseling," he sighed with remembrance.
Booth felt a cautious sense of something but he unsure just what was triggering his radar."Detective, you personally aquatinted with the Henleys, correct?"
Brennan looked at Booth surprised, not knowing where his question came from.
Matt looked surprised at the question but answered honestly, "Yeah Rick and I were in the same unit. Amanda and he married before he shipped out."
Brennan shocked asked, "And yet, you were a party to the abuse?"
Matt nearly jumped out of his seat but somehow managed to answer, "Seriously, did you just ask me that?" He glared at Dr. Brennan and then shot a murderous glance at Booth.
Booth reacted jumping to his feet in response to the implied threat to Brennan. The officer seemed to immediately realize he was out of line and he offered a quick apology as he calmly reclaimed his seat. Booth sat back down and waited. He watched the agitation build on Williams'face. Silence was often a great tool in interrogation.
When he thought the other man was off balance he changed course, "Were you in on that raid? The one that has Henley messed up?"
Matt looked just as surprised as Rick had and nodded once with a jerk.
"How do you deal with it?" Booth asked, to a casual observer he simply looked curious. But Brennan knew that pose as though it was one of her own - he was digging.
Matt looked away then after a moment he took a settling breath, "Horticulture."
Brennan looked a bit surprised and asked, "I don't understand how that is therapeutic."
Matt's eyes met hers as he explained, "Working with hybrids, orchids in particular, I found I had a talent to bring them to life. The shrink I've been seeing thinks it's what has allowed me to let go."
Booth asked, "You voluntarily sought out a mental health professional once you were discharged?"
Matt looked at Booth, his eyes guarded but his voice level when he finally answered, "Yes."
"And Henley refused to do the same?"
He nodded before he looked away and added in a voice filled with grief, "I knew what was happening to her. Hell, I had all the evidence in front of me." He continued, his emotions pouring through unchecked,"Amanda's face bruised and bloody was all I needed," he paused and looked at his hands, "I tried to help them."
Brennan asked,"Are you the one that helped her leave him?"
"Yeah, she was staying with a friend of mine," he looked up and added, "She was starting to build a life for herself."
Booth leaned in,"What happen?"
"I don't know,"Matt stared unseeing at the table.
"Rick told us that Amanda had planned to return to him," Booth added, "Did you know?"
Matt looked up quickly and replied, "Yeah, she might have mentioned that."
Booth asked quietly not trying to break the spell. Conflict, guilt and remorse rolled off the other man in waves. "How did that make you feel?"
Matt tried to shrug, Booth could see it but the tension was too thick, "Like hell."Then he'd looked at Booth, his eyes never wavered as he replied, "I let her down, I let him down by not protecting her."
He said quietly as though to himself, "I should have done something to protect her from him. He wasn't ready. I knew he wasn't, but she was oh so willing to forgive him again. And again and again…" He asked, "Agent Booth, what would you have done?" Not expecting a reply, he added quietly, "I'll regret for the rest of my life Amanda's death and Rick's pain. I don't know for sure he killed her, but his actions in my mind lead to her death." His eyes filled with pain as he added, "I failed them both."
"Hey Babe, have you identified the particulates?" Angela asked as she entered Hodgins' domain.
Jack glanced up at his wife, seeing the now familiar tension he wondered briefly if he should talk to her. It took only an instant to decide it was better to keep their discussion to the case. "Yeah, decomposed silk," Hodgins replied with a bit of pride. He absolutely loved his job and the joy from it was only second to the joy he had felt the day he'd made Angela his own.
Angela saw the pride and silently admitted this would never get old. But she dearly loved to tease him and asked, "Clothing? Or can you determine?"
"Of course I can determine what kind, its charmeuse silk usually bedding is made from that,"Hodgins explained.
"Do you think the body was wrapped in a silk sheet?" Angela asked quickly.
Hodgins met her eyes and smiled. He loved it when she understood him so easily. "Exactly."
"You know what that means, don't you?" Angela asked with a raised brow.
Looking at his wife he laughed, "Oh yeah, I'd say her assailant was her lover."
"The husband?"Angela asked.
"Maybe," he added vaguely his eyes already back on his microscope, "But, there's pollen that I can't identify here. I think its key."
Angela smiled as she turned to leave knowing he'd be immersed in his research as soon as she left, "Well, Babe I know you'll figure it out." She then paused and added,"Jack? If it's unknown you may want to try the patent office. It's probably a new hybrid."
Hodgins looked up quickly a breathtaking smile catching her in its intensity. Excitement rolled off in waves as he wrapped a quick arm around her waist and buzzed her cheek with a quick kiss. His eyes shined as he exclaimed, "Babe, you are a genius."
Angela laughed,"And Bren is forever telling me I'm not. And in this case she's right. I bet in another 10 minutes you would have thought to do the same."
Hodgins froze and he stopped to look at her seriously as he said, "You know Dr. B refers to the scientific measurement. You do know that right? She values you as much as anyone else on this team."
Angela nodded pleased he seemed to want to defend her this way. It had been years since she had been insecure being surrounded by brainiacs. She had long ago realized her real value was balance. She added a shrug and laughed, "Are you kidding? If I didn't take intuitive leaps with the Angelatron, you guys would be toast!." With that she winked and turned to leave.
Brennan stole a fry from Booth's plate as she asked, "What did you make of Detective Williams?"
Booth shook his head and playfully swatted Brennan's hand away from his fries as she tried to sneak another. He answered quickly, "Conflicted."
"I registered that as well but I can't seem to determine the underlying cause," she said then added thoughtfully, "It seemed to be more than friendship."
Booth nodded,"That's the problem it was definitely more than friendship."
"Perhaps he feels he shirked his duties somehow?" Brennan asked.
"Yeah, I got a distinct feeling that he really loved them, both of them. But he's definitely conflicted about that,"Booth agreed.
"Conflicted how?" she asked.
"Not sure yet, but something tells me he was closer to Amanda then he's lead on," Booth answered slowly as though his words had caught up with his thoughts not the other way around.
"Do you think she took him as a lover?"
"Possibly," Booth nodded slowly.
"You think he would have crossed the boundaries of brotherhood, of friendship, like that?"
"Sometimes who you love isn't a conscious decision, Bones."
Brennan looked back at him her blue eyes bright but her face impassive. After a moment they shared a nod. Brennan reached for another fry and Booth swatted her hand. She returned the favor before he could pick up his own and she snagged two from the plate dragging them through the ketchup before lifting them to her lips.
Upon returning to the lab, Brennan went directly to her office. Not moments after putting her purse down Hodgins rushed in, Cam followed behind slightly breathless as she tried to match his pace.
Once she saw Dr. Hodgins bright smile Brennan knew he'd had what he referred to as a 'King of the Lab' moment. She could appreciate his desire to prove his brilliance and she couldn't argue that the spirit of the competition still seemed to be alive in the lab.
"Dr. Brennan, I figured it out," Hodgins exclaimed.
"Figured out what, Dr. Hodgins?"
"He determined the origin and source of the pollen," Cam answered restating the parameters of his investigation for the clarity Brennan needed.
"Yeah, Angie suggested I look into patents on orchid hybrid and I hit pay dirt. Found the patent registered to a group called"Gardeners of America". It's an organization that fosters and supports hybrid breeders, providing assistance and methods to create reproducible hybrids." He then added with a note of admiration, "They actually are some of the most creative breeders of hybrids in the world."
"And your point?"Brennan asked quickly. Hodgins often could get off track when he thought about the details and cellular structure that supported each specimen. At times she, like Cam, had to cut through the manure to get the conclusion.
Hodgins grinned but allowed her to corral him, "Well, it happens our pollen is from a hybrid that had recently been registered. It's already been broken down at the molecular level, so I was able to easily compare it to the patent office database and…. I've got a match and a breeder."
Cam had watched the exchange and asked, "Any thoughts on that Dr. Brennan?"
"The only logical match would be Matt Williams, he's an amateur horticulturist," Brennan concluded. As she replied she and Cam watched as Hodgins deflated before them.
Cam couldn't help the smirk that quirked her lips then asked with a teasing note to her voice,"Dr. Hodgins has Dr. Brennan identified the amateur breeder?"
Hodgins straightened his shoulders then replied, "Yeah, yeah. But how did you figure it out? Did he say something?"
"Yes, Booth suspected he was more involved in the domestic abuse case then a typical arresting officer would. During the interrogation Williams mentioned he'd become an amateur gardener as a form of therapy to deal with his PTSD," Brennan clarified.
Cam summarized,"The silk and the flowers…. He loved her."
Brennan nodded then asked, "It would seem so, but how could he kill her? How could you kill anyone you loved like that?"
"Well from what I've read, Amanda had left Rick for nearly a year. It's probably goes without saying that Detective Williams had forged a bond with her. Perhaps it slowly became more than friendship.".
Angela had joined them and interrupted upon heard Cam's theory, "Yeah and don't forget that Rick had said that Amanda had agreed to return to him shortly before she disappeared." She sighed and shook her head at what seemed the most likely conclusion. "Do you think Williams killed her in a fit of rage?"
Brennan nodded but clarified, "The struggle and the defensive wounds indicate a great deal of force. Such a situation is a likely explanation."
Cam interjected."Cops see that kind of thing all the time. Amanda decided to return to Rick. When Williams found out something snapped and in the course of the argument he shot her."
"Supposition,"Brenan warned, "But, we have enough for a warrant and perhaps Booth can get a full confession from him once he is confronted with the evidence."
There was silence as they all considered their findings. Collectively, they knew their work was nearly done; it was now up to Booth to validate the motive.
Booth was seated in his usual spot at the bar, their usual spot, he corrected mentally. This was their usual spot to celebrate the closure of a case. He glanced around Founding Fathers seeing several familiar faces but he stayed seated as he waited for Brennan to join him.
He'd just gotten back from arresting Williams, followed by a quick phone call to Henley letting him know he'd arrested Williams for the murder of his wife. Nursing his beer his thoughts skittered over the busy afternoon. After the judge had issued the search warrant allowing the FBI Techs to gather the orchid samples, it had all gone by the numbers. He could still hear Hodgins' excitement over the hybrids, kind of annoying but in a good way. It wasn't often he made Hodgins'day and closed a case all at the same time. The confirmation of the pollen match was all it took. His thoughts drifted to his interrogation of Matt Williams. The evidence was overwhelming he had to admit and it seemed Matt had agreed. Not two minutes after he'd cited the key evidence Matt went from defiant to blubbering like a baby. The cop had poured out his tale and Booth recalled the emotion of his confession. He heard the pain in Matt's voice as he gasped between the tears, "Oh, God… I loved her. I'd have loved her forever. I still love her."
The tears had come even faster after that as did the full confession. It never bothered Booth if a suspect was their own worst enemy. It was as though they knew nothing could change the verdict and hoped by confessing he'd somehow absolved them of their sins. But the pain he saw on Matt's face and heard in his voice, that was as real as it got. He knew love could destroy a person if not returned. Booth had some idea of the demons Matt had fought, but to cross the line like that was something he couldn't understand.
Matt had explained that prior to Rick and Amanda's reconciliation he and Amanda had started a torrid affair. Initially they'd only sought comfort from each other, each holding a piece of a tattered love, his of his friend, she of her husband. Rick's betrayal had bound them together, it was twisted Booth knew but he'd seen it before. Matt had explained that as time passed, his feeling changed from protective to possessive. Amanda had hidden her conversations of reconciliation from him until the day she broke the news. A day he'd regret for the rest of his life Booth knew.
The outcome was predictable when you knew all the details. He'd thought he lost his mind in that moment and took out his service revolver intending to kill Rick. Amanda and he had fought and the gun had gone off. He'd wrapped her in the sheet from her bed, where'd they made love. He'd buried her as near to the cemetery as he dared along with a sprig of his orchids.
Booth's thoughts were interrupted as his partner quickly claimed the stool next to him. He flashed his trademark smile then nodded to the bartender who came to get his partner's order. Once she had her drink he clinked his glass against hers, "We did it again, hey Bones?"
"That we did."Brennan than turned to face Booth then asked curiously, "But why? Why did he do it?"
Booth bit the inside of his cheek to hold back a grin. He remembered a time when "why" or "motive," wasn't important to his partner. Taking a sip of his beer he explained. "He was in love with her. When she told him she planned to reconcile with Rick, he simply lost it." He paused, "In the struggle for the gun, it went off and it killed her."
Brennan nodded solemnly, "Three lives ruined…"
Booth took a swig of his beer and sighed, "Turner called and gave me an update. I'm sure they'll put him on suicide watch since he was inconsolable. Bonds of friendship and love destroyed with a single bullet," he concluded.
Brennan looked at Booth his shoulders were now slightly hunched over. She asked, "Do you ever think that could have happened to you?"
Booth answered carefully, "Maybe… at one time I did. Lord knows I was pretty messed up after returning from my last tour with the Rangers, before joining the FBI. But," he smiled softly his eyes held hers as he continued, "I found a way past it…You see, awhile back I found this person who offered to help me balance my scales. Gave me a chance to redeem myself and that made all the difference."
She smiled wide,"That person sounds quite exceptional."
He matched her grin with his own, "Oh yeah, she really is."