One week earlier
Children's laughter fills the afternoon air, creating a little bubble of happiness where only those like them are allowed. Oh, how he hates that bubble. Hates it because he desires it so, craves what was stolen from him. That glorious golden bubble was replaced by a box the color of tar, sticking to his every pore until he was poisoned. The only way to purify himself of the poison is to spread it. He still shudders with the relief he had felt after infecting little Susan, his first. But it hadn't lasted and he had to move on, had to infect Leslie, David, still lisping Jerry and Carrie. Each had only made his need stronger.
A laughing shriek breaks him from his thoughts and he refocuses, raising his camera once again. He curses himself for losing sight of the first half of his most recent collection. The boy is almost too old but his youthful enthusiasm for life more than makes up for it. But then there is the bonus of the boy's younger sister, the perfect age for the infectious poison. He has never tried to infect two at once; it should prove interesting.
Finally he finds his prey and snaps a picture, his heart beating wildly in anticipation. He looks around, knowing how risky it is for him to do this now, so near the school. In movements subtle enough not to draw attention, he replaces his equipment. He slings the bag over his shoulder and walks away with a pleasant expression. And under his sunglasses his eyes gleam with psychotic glee.
"Who can do this?" Angela speaks with disgust, the sound of tears in her throat. "Who can live with themselves after doing this to an innocent child? I don't understand."
"There's nothing to understand," Booth growls, leaning against the railing of the platform with his arms crossed, his face set in hard lines. "Whoever it is, is insane, twisted. There's no understanding that."
The team stands on the platform, watching Brennan examine the remains on the table they're surrounding. Booth knows that she's having trouble compartmentalizing their latest case, not that he blames her. He knows he'll have nightmares for years of the five small bodies, five children who should be alive and laying in their beds rather than the cold metal tables of the Jeffersonian lab, mutilated and burnt beyond recognition by a demented serial killer.
It is not the first child case they have had since their daughter but it is by far the most gruesome and disturbing. The victims range in age from three to thirteen; none connected to the other in anyway other than the tragic circumstances of their deaths. Each was stalked before their kidnap, as evidenced by the photo's left behind to taunt and torture the parents. Each was kept for three days before being found in the ash of a burned down house, their locations within the house and their poses identical. And the very next day after the story hit the papers the poor heartbroken parents received a package of photos and videos, showcasing the events during the last hours of their children lives. Horrible, unspeakable events, especially for the three girls that were taken.
It is a horrible case that has affected every member of the team. Making it even worse is the fact that they are no closer to catching the twisted son of bitch. This last body was found earlier in the morning meaning that if the killer follows their pattern, within the next six days another child will go missing.
"A girl. I'd place her age at about eight to ten years old," Brennan speaks, her clinical tone hiding the revulsion she feels in her chest. "Multiple fractures to the femurs and ribs. Dislocation to the lumbar vertebrae."
"Blunt force trauma to the skull," adds Arastoo Viziri, his grim face bent close to the small body in front of him. "Centering in the temporal bone with cracks spreading to the parietal and occipital bones. This looks to be the cause of death."
"The face is covered with her hands, just like the others," Cam says, carefully trying to pry them apart. "Why does he keep doing that?"
"Maybe he didn't want to look into their eyes," Hodgins suggests, standing next to his wife to discreetly rub her back.
"Perhaps we should leave the psychological motive to Sweets," Brennan tilts her head up to look at the group, her eyes locking onto her partner's for a second longer than the others. "And we don't know for certain the killer is a male."
"They're sick. Male or female," Angela says decisively. No one raises any argument.
After a few more minutes of examination Brennan stands upright, pulling off her gloves. "Mr. Viziri, once doctors Saroyan and Hodgins are done please clean the bone and assemble the bones."
"Yes, Dr. Brennan."
"I'll cross reference my particulate analysis with the others," Hodgins says, slapping on his own pair of gloves. "Try to find a common factor."
Brennan simply nods and walks away, aware of Booth following her off the platform. She slows her stride, writing notes on the clipboard in her hands, not looking up at him.
"Once the bones are clean I'll compare the injuries to those of the previous victims."
Booth places his hands in his pockets and nods, not letting her crisp tone bother him. He knows her well enough to know she is more deeply effected by the case than she is showing. "So you'll have the full examination done tomorrow?"
"No. More likely this evening," she shakes her head, leading the way into her office.
"Whoa, Bones you cant stay late tonight," Booth protests, walking over to take the clipboard from her, gaining her full attention. "You have to leave by five, remember?"
"My father is taking us out to dinner," Brennan says, realization rolling across her face. "I forgot."
"Yeah. And you know Alina's been excited about it all week," Booth adds, still mystified at the instant bond between the ex-convict and his baby girl.
"If you want to back out, you're going to be the one to tell her," Booth says with a shrug and a soft smirk on his still tense face. He sees her instantly relent and he leans forward to peck her lips. "I'll see you at home."
"Where will you be until then?" Brennan questions, pulling him back to her lips, taking comfort she won't ask for from his kiss.
He senses her need and indulges her, wrapping his arms loosely around her waist and finding comfort as well. "The Hoover building. You know, against popular belief I do work there. We're interviewing everyone the kids had contact with. There's got to be a connection somewhere."
There's a beat of silence, Brennan looking down at his chest before she starts to speak softly. "Leslie Jones was three years old."
"Jesus, Temperance, don't go there," Booth says fiercely, pulling her back to stare into her eyes. "Just don't."
Brennan takes a quick breath, nodding. "I'm going to call my father, invite him over instead. I don't feel like going out."
"Alright," Booth kisses her forehead in understanding, sharing the feeling to have their own three-year-old daughter safe at home. "I'm gonna go."
She sits at her desk as he starts to walk out, lifting her head when he calls her from the entryway. "Bones. We're going to get this guy."
"I know," she says though in her heart lives doubt.
Okay, if at any point anyone thinks I should up the rating, let me know. The title is a random suggestion from my mom cause I couldnt think of anything (I suck at it anyway) lol.