Killing Two Birds
Disclaimer: Hart Hanson owns Bones. But people like me who play in his sandbox give you all those delicious little moments that Hart and friends leave out. In this case, AU do-overs for that gap between Seasons 5 and 6 that wrought so much havoc for our heroes. That's why you read fanfic.
Chapter 1: The Phone Call
"Day 197," Daisy grumbled as if dictating her dig journal to a non-existent secretary. "Found nothing." She adjusted her bag on her shoulder as she trudged back to their vehicle, watching for vines and exposed tree roots as she made her way along the path.
"Well," Brennan replied with a shrug, trying to sound optimistic for her protégé's benefit. "Three months ago we found an onyx bead."
"No offense, Dr. Brennan," the younger woman replied, "but what we're looking for is evidence of early man, not jewelry that's barely two hundred years old."
Brennan sighed, knowing full well her graduate intern was absolutely right. In a way, she felt bad for Daisy, who came to Indonesia's Maluku Islands six months earlier bursting with excitement that she would be part of a team that would finally find concrete evidence of interspecies mating among Homo floriensis and early Homo sapiens. Brennan, on the other hand, knew now what she really knew all along—that she came to Maluku, not to find a H. floriensis/H. sapiens hybrid skeleton, but rather to get away from the awkward mess she had made of her life back home—and that the whole effort was a mistake. A shockingly huge, incomprehensively foolish mistake.
Brennan jumped at hearing Daisy's scream, then looked over and saw a large albino python in the back of the thirty year-old Toyota Land Cruiser. She took a deep breath and reached into the truck, carefully lifting the snake out and carrying it a few feet into the jungle canopy before releasing it.
"I find it interesting," she observed, "that I'm only afraid of snakes when Booth is around to be jumped upon."
Daisy cocked an eyebrow at the remark and tried to conceal her smirk as Brennan walked back to the truck, but said nothing. Her mentor casually tossed her well-worn waxed canvas messenger bag in the cargo bed behind the seats and stood next to the tailgate, speaking not a word though Daisy could tell her mind was busy with thought. After a few long moments, an electronic ring pierced the silence between them.
"Brennan," she said as she answered the satellite phone. Daisy stood by the passenger side door and listened to her mentor's side of the conversation, unable to decipher the faint squeaks on the other end of the line.
"Where?" Brennan's eyes narrowed and she looked up and away into the distance as if trying to visualize a map in the glittering green forest canopy above them.
"Are you sure?" Daisy frowned as she saw Brennan's face pale at hearing whatever the speaker had just said. She pursed her lips and felt her heart break a little for her mentor, who she felt closer to after all the long months they had spent together—as close, in any case, as it was possible to get to Brennan, though Daisy wondered if there was a part of the anthropologist that was accessible only to her FBI partner, Special Agent (now Sergeant Major) Booth.
"Yes, of course..." Brennan nodded at the speaker's words and glanced up, her eyes briefly meeting Daisy's before quickly looking away again.
"Can you tell me if a Sergeant Major Seeley Booth was involved?" she asked, her voice audibly affected as her breath caught in her throat.
"What do you mean you can't tell me?" she snapped, her fingers curling tighter around the scuffed plastic body of the phone as she spoke.
Daisy continued to listen but turned away, leaning over the side of the Land Cruiser's cargo bed to fuss with a bag of surveying tools, trying her best to look as if she were not listening, knowing full well that Brennan knew she was.
"But I have the highest-possible security clearance..."
Brennan indeed had a very high security clearance—perhaps not the highest possible, but certainly very high, almost improbably high for a civilian not involved in defense contracting work—but it was clear from her side of the conversation that the person on the other end of the line was neither impressed nor persuaded by that fact.
"So you're not denying he was there, but—"
Daisy could not help but smile at hearing Brennan turn the tables on the caller, the same way she had done countless times with her students, catching them in a logical trap during one of her Socratic-style oral quizzes. She had been on the receiving end of that technique enough times to recognize when Brennan was about to spring her trap.
"Is he alright?"
For several moments Brennan fell silent, during which the squeaky voice on the other end of the phone seemed to fall silent, too.
"I don't understand why you can't tell me—" she said, her jaw tensing as her voice tightened, climbing a half-octave in pitch.
Another long moment of silence passed.
"Yes, I understand…"
Brennan finally looked up at her graduate student and their eyes locked as the caller continued to speak. Daisy smiled and shrugged, not knowing in that moment how to communicate concern or sympathy to a woman who would have rebuffed the typical physical gestures of support.
"It could take me a couple of days," Brennan said, her tone of voice suddenly more subdued as she fussed mindlessly with the pocket of her cargo shorts. The caller squeaked on, and her brows furrowed more and more deeply as the seconds passed.
"Yes, I understand," she whispered, lifting her gaze to once more meet Daisy's.
"Yes, I'll leave right away," she promised, then hung up the phone, staring at the device for a minute or two before shaking her head vaguely.
"Something happened to Agent Booth, didn't it?" Daisy asked, her voice soft and even.
"I don't know," Brennan admitted. "But I have to leave Maluku right away." She looked away and sighed deeply, then walked over to the driver's side door of the Land Cruiser. "The U.S. Army has asked me to come to Afghanistan. There's been some kind of incident involving two U.S. military helicopters in Helmand Province and they need a forensic anthropologist to assist them in identifying the remains of American servicemen."
Brennan opened the driver's side door and climbed into the seat but hesitated before turning the key in the ignition. She felt her heart pounding in her chest and she knew that most of the color had drained from her face.
"Oh God," Daisy whispered, wishing immediately that she could have swallowed the words the moment they left her lips. She closed her eyes for a moment, then opened them again and said, "Go to Agent Booth, Dr. Brennan. It's okay. I'll stay here. I can handle things here. Go take care of Booth."
Brennan stared at her young graduate student for a minute then nodded.
Yes, I know... ::smirk:: Evil cliffhanger.
My erstwhile collaborator Lesera128 has taught me well. Perhaps too well.
So that's how it begins. But, if you know anything about me by now, it's that I love Booth (right?), and the only thing I love more than Booth is bringing him and Brennan together. So worry not, my friends.
You want to know what happens next? I'd love to tell you, and in fact I really want to tell you, but in order to cross the dharmamonkey's River Styx, you do have to pay the boatman. In this case, pieces of silver are not required (and you don't have to be dead—extra bonus!).
So, want more? You simply have to tell me what you think of this chapter and the concept so far.
Press that little review button and do your thing.
Yes, that one—right down there. That's the one.