On a sleepy Philadelphia street, a single streetlamp illuminates a foggy night. An occasional car rumbles by, headlights flashing past blinded windows. One taxi pulls up to a brick office building, and a woman exits. She is wearing a tan trenchcoat, a black hat at an angle, and sensible black pumps. She might pass for any other sensible office clerk or secretary, except for the diamond studs in her ears.
She is what Seeley Booth calls a classy dame, as he watches her from his dirty window. He watches her check the business card in her hand, follows her eyes up to the second floor, where he is leaning against the pane, and his breath catches in his chest. Classy and beautiful. That combination's lethal to a guy off the streets of Philly.
He lets the blinds close and waits until he hears footsteps outside his door. The door creaks open, and she steps inside. It's been four days since the cleaning lady's been here, so the office smells a bit stale - like whisky hooch and cigar smoke and sweat.
"I'm looking for Detective Booth," she says, and her voice is just like the whisky he's promising himself he'll give up any day now, along with the pool and the bars that go along with them.
He flashes the grin he was known for around the old neighborhood. "You've found him."
She cocks her head to the side and narrows her eyes. She's not going to fall for his usual bullshit routine, which might have been disappointing, but some sick part of him thrills at that thought. "You were a police detective at one time. Is that true, Mr. Booth?"
"Are you here to hire me, or are you here to ask me questions? Cause I don't talk to reporters, and I don't talk to cops without a lawyer." He closes the file on his desk decisively and opens a bottom drawer, removing a sturdy glass and a bottle of booze.
"Are you a degenerate drunk in addition to your gambling problem?"
That startles him, but he tries not to let it show. "No. You seem to know a lot about me, and I don't know anything about you, except you've tried to dress down and failed miserably - working broads don't wear their diamonds with their business pumps, and they don't tip the taxi twenty percent."
She nods in acknowledgement of his observations, as if they are nothing more than what she expected. "I am Temperance Brennan."
"Brennan." That name sounds familiar so Booth turns it over and over in his mind. "Wait. Brennan? As in Max Brennan?"
"Yes, that is accurate."
"Oh boy." He downs the alcohol, hissing through his teeth at the cheap burn, and slams the glass back down on the desk. "Whatever you want, lady, save it, okay? I'm not interested."
"You arrested my father for murder."
"He got off," Booth says flatly. "Got the son of a bitch on racketeering and theft, though."
The swearing (or the sentiment behind it), doesn't make her blink. She sits down in a chair and crosses one leg over the other, the slide of expensive silk sliding sending his thoughts down illicit roads. "I have no doubt that my father's escape from conviction was through no fault of yours."
Booth raises an ironic brow and fights the urge to pour another drink. "That's kind of you to say."
"Thank you, but I have no interest in stroking your male ego through meaningless platitudes. I have reviewed my father's case myself and I found the police work to be satisfactory."
He snorts. "And you, being an expert in criminal proceedings, would know."
For the first time, there's a flash of fire in ice blue eyes, and he finds some satisfaction in that. "I am extremely intelligent, Mr. Booth. A murder investigation requires that an individual follow a train of logic. You seem to be adequately adept at that."
Booth scoffs at that observation and puts his feet up on the desk, which is surprisingly neat. He wiggles his penny loafers at her. "Did you come here for a reason, Ms. Brennan? Or did you just want to pat me on the back."
"It's Doctor," she says primly. "And yes, I would very much like to hire you."
"Hire me?" He chuckles. "Well, that's an interesting proposition, but no thanks."
"I would pay you extremely well," she says, and she leans forward, her elbows on the desk.
"Thanks for the offer, lady, but..."
"Hear me out, Mr. Booth," Temperance says. "I was younger when you arrested my father, but I remember you. I remember you treated my mother well, that you were never unkind to my brother or myself. Please, Mr. Booth. My brother's in trouble, and the police will not take me seriously. My area of expertise is not one they deem relevant, and they are unwilling to listen to me, given my connection to my brother and the unavoidable fact of my gender."
Booth is still trying to reconcile the big-eyed imp on the verge of womanhood he suddenly remembers with this slightly brittle woman. "Well, of course they don't want your help." Booth rolls his eyes. "Listen, lady, whoever arrested your brother probably has all of their i's dotted and their t's crossed. Whatever the comic books lead you to believe, the police aren't usually as incompetent as you might think."
Temperance simply raises an eyebrow at him. "That is an interesting opinion for you to hold, considering the circumstances of your release from the force."
"I didn't get released, I quit." Booth is adamant about this, even as he wonders where in the hell she got her (very thorough) information.
"They wouldn't allow you to complete your investigation into the FBI," Temperance says, "that suggests to me a level of corruption and incompetence, Mr. Booth."
"You don't need a P.I., Dr. Brennan. You need a lawyer."
Temperance rises to her feet, and he notices that never once did she unbutton her collar. She has remained cool and calm until now, when there's a spark of something else in her eyes. "You know, I asked you once why you wanted to be a cop. You probably don't remember."
Booth fingers the poker chip in his pocket like a talisman. "That would be a good wager." He can remember chasing Max Brennan down a dark alleyway. He can remember the look in her father's eye when he slapped the cuffs on - not a lick of guilt: a man firmly convinced he'd been in the right. He can remember a damaged little girl who didn't see the world the way everyone else did. He can remember her voice, as it was then. A little higher, but still with that quality that rubbed him the right way. He can remember being younger, being stronger, being more convinced of everything he'd once believed.
"You said you got in this because every body has a point in their life when they need help." She adjusts her hat so it's at the perfect angle, pulls down the veil so it covers her eyes once more. "You said you wanted to help them then, Mr. Booth. I need help. My brother needs help. You should think about that."
She is halfway out the door before his better instincts kick in and he leaps over his desk and grabs her arm. "Jesus. Okay, you got me. You should be a writer, lady."
"I am." Temperance looks up at him and - there it is. Christ. There's that look in a woman he can never resist - it's a mix of self-satisfaction and surprise that her wiles had worked. She's a class act, all right, but a slightly awkward one, and Seeley can tell already he's going to be in trouble. "Am I correct in thinking that you have decided to reverse your decision to take on my brother's case?"
He's so terribly amused by her he knows he's going to be in trouble. "Yeah. You'd be correct... Dr. Brennan."
She wrinkles a nose at that. "Keenan, now. My friends call me Tempe."
"Oh. You're married?" He doesn't see a ring.
"I was." She doesn't say anymore. He doesn't ask, because he was married once upon a time, too, and the only thing good that came out of that mess is a mop of curly hair and a sweet, high laugh, who sometimes asks where Mommy is. Booth knows about sharing the bare minimum because that's what's easiest and he lets it slide.
"So. What did your brother supposedly do that got him into all this trouble?"
"They think he killed my late husband." Flat, no emotion. Husband dead, Seeley thinks, and not very long ago if the police are just now investigating the murder, especially since Temperance is such a high-class dame. Already her wedding ring's off. Either the husband was a bastard, or she's some kind of ice queen. Could be either, but Seeley would bet money it was the first.
"No." Tempe shakes her head. "It is highly unlikely. Russell has always been... moderately dishonest, but he has never killed anyone before. I do not believe that he is capable of it."
"So that's what you're asking me to investigate on. You've got a feeling your brother wouldn't kill somebody. I know a lot of sisters of convicted felons who have that feeling... Tempe." He trips over the name, almost like it's not right for her. He'll figure out something better for her, he decides.
"Not me." Temperance shakes her head. "I do not believe in allowing blind emotion to guide your actions, Mr. Booth, and after examining the evidence, including his so-called motive, I have to rationally believe that he did not commit the crime."
"All right," Booth says, walking back to his desk and sitting down. "Tell me everything. Start right from the beginning and tell it all. No white-washing, no fibbing, no smudging of the facts to make yourself look better. I've got to know everything if I'm going to help."
That doesn't phase her at all. She returns to her seat, undoes her trench, and slides it over the back of the chair. She crosses her legs, right over left, and starts to tell the tale.
An hour and a half later, she's leaving his office, a hint of sandalwood and vanilla seeming to float in the air after her, and he's still trying to work his way through the facts.
She'd told him without embarrassment of her marriage to Michael Keenan, a professor of hers from college. She'd explained the reasons for it: that she'd been marginally attracted to him, that he had persuaded her that a marriage to him would help advance her career and his.
Then she'd told him of their efforts to try and have a child, and the daughter they had lost, and the deterioration of their marriage after that. A flush on her cheeks, she'd showed him the bruises on her upper arms. Booth knows that's probably not the worst of it, though. The good ones, the smart ones, know where to hit so there's never any question. That kind of evil sets his teeth on edge.
It hadn't taken her more than a moment, after that, to get herself together. Then she'd told him, with stars in her eyes, of her brother Russ. How he'd stepped in, reminded her of the strong woman she had been before. He'd helped her move away, helped her disappear as much as she could. It was difficult to hide an intellect like hers, and that ended up being the catalyst to an explosion that had rocked her life.
He'd found her.
Booth knows from experience that men who hit women think of them more like animals than humans, and he knows what Keenan must have been like.
So he can't blame Russell at all for what Blue Eyes had told him had happened. Fists flying, words exchanged, threats.
Keenan had walked away alive, she insisted, bruised and bloodied, determined to come back, even. Alive. But he hadn't come back, and she had taken that to mean that perhaps he had come to his senses.
Until a police officer arrived on her doorstep and informed her of her loss.
Booth taps a pen against his desk. Tap. Tap. Tap.
A look out the window tells him the sun is rising and Padme will be leaving for her home soon. It's time to walk home to his son, get him through his morning routine and off to school so Booth can sleep.
Tomorrow he's going to tear apart the life of Michael Keenan.