Woods Hall….AH! Woods Hall! Seeley Booth silently rejoiced at the fact that he found the correct building. Now he only had to run up to the third floor, find the right lecture hall, and hope that he wouldn't cause too much of a disturbance walking into the class. As he sprinted up the stairs, he glanced at his watch, noting the time. 9:37 AM. Only seven minutes late. Taking a deep breath, he pushed open the door to room 3128.
As he burst into the room, he immediately noticed that it wasn't a lecture with hundreds of students, but instead saw twelve students at desks and a professor standing behind a lectern.
"Glad you could join us Mr. Booth. It is Mr. Booth, isn't it? I'm Dr. Warren, please, please take a seat."
Booth sheepishly grinned, and shrugged off his backpack and slid into the open seat next to the auburn-haired young woman. He quickly surveyed the room, seeing six slouched boys in hoodies, two others paying rapt attention with backs as straight as rods. There were also four women in the class room besides the one sitting next to him.
Dr. Warren continued, "As it was, you had excellent timing. We were simply introducing ourselves. I'm sure you'll manage to learn names during the semester. Please continue. Temperance, would you tell us about yourself?"
The girl next to him pushed her hair behind her ear and began, "My name is Temperance Brennan. I'm eighteen years old, and I'm an anthropology and biology major. I'm from Skokie, Illinois."
Dr. Warren motioned for Booth to introduce himself. Booth began, "I'm Seeley Booth. I'm 23, and this is my first year back from the Army." This garnered a few slouched students to sit up, and regard him with an interested glance. "I'm a criminal justice major and I'm from Pittsburgh."
"Not a Steelers fan?" A blond boy from the opposite corner of the room piped up.
Booth grinned and nodded.
"And that is all of you. Welcome to Forensic Medicine," announced Dr. Warner. "As you know, I'm Dr. Adrian Warner and I've been teaching this course since 1990. I was expecting this class to be nearly twice as large, but I'm afraid my strict grading policy has scared off many students. This is an interdisciplinary approach to both crime-fighting and biology. I have yet to think of a clever name for biology. Those of you still here tell me what you want to do and why. If your reason is worthwhile, you will get an A in this class. I hope that all of you have a background in biology, anatomy and physiology, and chemistry, both general and organic. If not, you will undoubtedly struggle in this class."
He picked up a stack of papers and handed them to the student closest to him, a young man wearing a black hoodie. He picked one up and passed the rest. Warner continued, "This is the syllabus. There are four exams, including the final. Each exam is worth 20% of your final grade. There are four papers due throughout the semester. These are each worth 5% of your grade. I expect you to do the assigned readings, take notes on the reading, so on and so forth."
Booth picked up a copy of the syllabus before passing it on to his taciturn neighbor. She plucked it out of his hands without even glancing at him.
Warner continued speaking. He explained the class structure, and his expectations for the course. "I don't want you to get As in the class, I want you to learn. If you learn, you will get an A. That I can guarantee you. There is a reason I am the most popular professor for some students. "
Dr. Warner continued describing the syllabus, much of which Booth ignored, knowing that much of it was not relevant to him. He was not a student with special needs, and he did not have any particular religious tendencies which would force an absence. It wasn't as though it was close to spring semester where he might take a day off for Ash Wednesday or Good Friday. He seems nice enough, Booth thought. He imagined him to be a kindly, professor, whose eccentricities were many. His wandering thoughts and dreamy voice gave away his nature, but Booth thought wryly, Appearances can be deceiving.
"As you can see, it is only the beginning of the class. This class will always last until 10:45, and in the event that it does not, I will assign you learning activities which you will perform with a partner. This may seem awfully juvenile to you, but I assure you, it is for your benefit. These activities are mostly of a scientific, practical nature. This class is designed mostly for the theoretical discussion of the topic, but I think looking at a cadaver every now and then may be interesting for you. There have to be some people interested in pathology, no? Consider it an application of your skill. I hope to partner one non-scientific major with one science major, but we shall see if this is possible. After all, we wouldn't want future police officers to be mucking around in a body now do we?" His eyes twinkled merrily at this thought and he chuckled to himself.
"Forensic medicine is the analysis of how we see the effects on the body as a result of crime. There's quite a bit of pathology, anatomy, history, and law to be learnt here."
"What is forensic medicine? Quite simply, it is a strict application of biology, chemistry, anatomy, physiology, even more –ogies than we can count to solve crimes. It is the use of science in legal terms. It is the means by which we impose logic and order to the disorder of crimes. You may think that there can be orderly, logical crimes, but there is no such thing. There is no logical reason for committing crimes beyond the bounds of the law, and thus there is no logical crime. No matter how organized the killer, his mind is so disorganized that he cannot see reason."
"This course examines the medical applications to see how the human body is impacted due to violence. Forensic accountants look through number and ledgers to see where corporations flub their numbers and falsify information, and we do the same. Only, the victims of our crimes are not merely stockholders. This is the only way by which we can bring our victims a semblance of justice."
He glanced at the clock, and noted that the time was quickly slipping away. He announced, "I'm afraid our time is nearly up, and we must get a move on. Please do the reading for next class. Oh…. And bring some notes with you. I'd like to hope that you actually take notes on the material."
Booth slipped the syllabus into a folder and pushed it into his backpack. He rose from his seat, glancing that he had fifteen minutes to walk to his next class. He turned to the nearest remaining student, the same brunette he had sat next to. "Hey, uh, I'm Booth. Can you tell me how to get to … LeFrak?"
She glanced up at him with wide, wide blue eyes. "Yes. Go out the front, and go straight up until you see a staircase. Go up and go straight back until you see the building."
"Thanks. Your name's Temperance, right?"
Booth held out his hand, waiting for her to shake it. "It's nice to meet you, Temperance."
Instead of shaking his hand, she looked at him quizzically and tilted her head. After a few seconds, just as Booth began retracting his hand, she grasped his hand and gave it an abrupt, shake. She quickened her pace, and walked out of the building, heading across the mall towards her destination.
Booth shook his head, and walked up the mall, relishing in the temperate, late August day. The unusually cool summer had resulted in a day perfectly suited to Booth's return from war. Though Kosovo hadn't been as unbearable as Iraq or Somalia, it had been more stressful.
He quickly made his way to the stairways she had mentioned, and climbed the stairs, heading to his next criminal justice class.
After enduring a class surrounded by nearly two hundred other students, Booth was able to escape again into the sunlight. Listening to a professor drone on and on about student responsibilities and the syllabus in a dim room had very nearly put him to sleep. For over an hour, he had sat there waiting for the wrinkled, feeble-voiced professor to conclude his class. As he felt the bright sun and the cool breeze, he was much more awake. Without much regard for his surroundings, he walked into another student, causing her to stumble backwards. "OH! I'm so sorry!" he exclaimed, catching the girl by her shoulders before she could stumble back into the grass.
To his surprise, it was his classmate from the morning. Temperance, he thought. "Hey, it's you! I'm really sorry about bumping into you like that…"
She brushed off his greeting, "It's all right." She moved to walk by him when his words stopped her.
"Hey Temperance, you busy?"
She paused in her way, turning slightly. "I'm…" She peered at his face, seeing how he was naturally tanned, noting how his eyes sparked attractively.
"Hey, listen, it's a beautiful day, I've met a beautiful girl, it's fate right?"
She turned fully, replying, "I don't believe in fate. It's ludicrous." There was a small smile on her face, and she regarded him carefully, waiting for his response.
He smiled, twinkling his eyes charmingly. "Come on. Join me for lunch. It's my treat. It'll be a good time to figure out where it's worth eating here." He held out his hand, palms up, in an invitation.
"I should study. I have…"
"Nothing that can't wait until the second day of classes," he interrupted. "Come on. It's my first day here on this extremely large campus, and I could use a friend…" he trailed off, hoping that this girl would take pity on him and join him for lunch.
She relaxed her posture, visibly relenting to his persuasion. "All right. Uh, what would you like to do?"
He grinned down at her, admiring the way her clear blue eyes. "Lead the way."
They sat in the grass on the mall feeling the slightly damp, soft blades against their legs. Her long legs, creamy pale and dotted with cinnamon freckles, were revealed by a pair of denim cut-offs. She was only wearing a tank top, which showed of swaths of delicate, freckled skin and an alluring hint of cleavage. Booth took a moment (or seven) to ogle, admiring the way they stretched out in front of her as she sat cross-legged, telling him about the history of the campus. Her voice was soft, smooth, like a taste of really expensive Scotch he'd bought himself after winning big at the poker tables in Atlantic City. It was slightly smoky, mature and Booth would have wagered that he could have spent the rest of the day just listening to her talk.
Unlike all the other girls, she was wearing regular clothes, not dressed like that TV show Jared's girlfriend constantly watched. She wasn't wearing grungy overalls, over-sized plaid shirts, or any of the remnants of the earlier decade. She didn't look particularly wealthy. Her clothes were simple, without any brand names or flashy logos. Her shoes and backpack were well-used, but neatly maintained. Her hair was long and slightly wavy, falling to mid-back. Her thick bangs obscured her forehead and fell nearly into her eyes.
She had abandoned her sandals on the grass next to her, and she spoke to Booth as he reclined against his backpack. Brennan admired the way his broad shoulders were flexed, as his elbows were bent to support his torso. His muscled arms peeked out from beneath the rolled up sleeves of his striped blue and white button-down shirt. His chest narrowed to slim hips and a flat stomach, and his jeans-encased legs stretched out in front of him.
Temperance had notice how attractive he was. How could I not, she thought. He was one of the first people to seek her out and make friends with her. Most people only talked to her when they needed help on homework, and even then, they rarely acknowledged her after she had helped them. The man before her was an absolute stranger, and she couldn't help but to hope that he too would not be one of those academic leeches.
She was half through describing Millard Tydings' contributions to the university when he interrupted her, asking, "Tell me about yourself. I'll have another two years to learn why this Tydings guy is such a big deal, but maybe only another afternoon to get to know about you." Booth leaned back lazily, before tilting his head at her questioningly.
She tensed perceptibly, her eyes clouding, before she tersely responded, "My name is Temperance Brennan. I'm an anthropology and biology major. I'm…"
"I heard that stuff already. What's your favorite food?"
"Um…Chinese," she replied haltingly.
"Huh. I should introduce you to Thai food. I swear, one bite, and Chinese take-out will be a thing of the past. Okay, next question. What's your favorite color?"
"That's completely arbitrary. That doesn't describe anything about myself."
"My favorite color is red. Like cherry red. See, psychologists would say something about red and all that, how it's related to needing to stand out and all that. I just like the color red because it's the color of my favorite fruit. So, tell me yours."
She shrugged, "Violet, I suppose. I don't really care what psychologists have to say. It's a soft science with little bearing on actual neurological processes."
"And anthropology isn't? Isn't it all about examining cultures, and roles of people in societies?"
"That's cultural anthropology. It's more subjective, true, but people are more likely to fit into social tropes than they are to think a certain way. Besides, that's not what I want to study."
"So what do you want to do?"
Brennan looked at him, trying to determine his intents. If his only goal was to get into bed with her, then he wouldn't really care would he? Still, she thought, I ought to be at least a little wary. He's so much older than me.
"I want to study forensic anthropology. It's using physical anthropology of bones to solve crimes."
"Hey, we're a perfect match then Temperance. I want to join the FBI and become an agent, and you want to solve murders!"
She hesitantly smiled, unable to give herself into the joy he clearly displayed. She asked, "Why do you want to be an FBI agent?"
"You know, I'm a couple years older than you. About four or five, probably. I was in Penn State playing hockey when I busted my shoulder, and I lost my scholarship. After that, well I signed up for the Army. I was a part of the Rangers, and I served a couple of years there."
He paused, unsure of how much he wanted to tell her. "And, now I figured Uncle Sam can pay for college, so I might as well go. I kind of need a college degree to do anything, so I figured I might as well. I'm not an Army lifer."
"I don't know what that means."
"The army lifer part."
"Oh, that just means I'm not about to spend my whole career working for the Army. There are other things I want to do."
"Oh. Like what?"
"Well, finish college for one. Then, you know, get a job, meet the woman of my dreams, get married, buy a house with a huge yard and trees big enough for a giant tree house, have three kids, a couple of dogs, you know the shtick."
"Well, that's a very post-World War II life view you have. It's very prototypically American."
"That's me. Seeley Booth. All-American. When I was in high school, I was an All-American football player you know. Quarterback of Bishop McDevitt High School."
"What does that mean?"
"It's…. you know. Never mind. It's been nearly six years since then."
"Are you very close with you Uncle Sam?"
"Wha-?" Booth gave a startled glance at her, seeing true curiosity, not sarcasm or teasing, on her face, before continuing his response. "No, Temperance, Uncle Sam is an expression. It's kind of like a figurehead representing America."
"That makes no sense. If it's supposed to inspire patriotic duty, wouldn't it be better to be a father figure?"
A shadow passed quickly over Booth's face, before it erupted in a chuckle. "See, everyone has fathers. Lots of people have fathers they love and respect. Uncle Sam is kind of like a relative you think of fondly, but who's not a parent. I don't think the guy who created him wanted him to replace father figures. And here I thought you were an All-American kind of girl," Booth teased.
"I am. American, that is, but I don't know much about popular culture or contemporary slang."
"Oh, Temperance. You and me, we have to spend a lot of time to catch you up to this century."
She peered at him, trying to gauge the sincerity of his words. Though she was no expert at reading people, Brennan only saw open honesty on his face. After all, she consoled herself, the worst thing that can happen is losing a potential friend.
Booth turned his head, feeling her stare at him. Her bangs fell into her eyes, but he could still see the turquoise staring at him, perhaps the first person to look at him innocently, without judgment, in a long, long time. The wind, which had merely teased the leaves for much of the afternoon they had spent under the sun, gusted suddenly, and a tendril of hair blew into her face.
Booth reached one palm up to her cheek, brushing away the loose strand. Under his fingers was the softest skin, covering her cheekbone and extending to the soft shell of her ear. She stared at him for a second, her expression guarded, before looking down and turning her head.
Booth pulled his hand away awkwardly, letting it hand at his side, before clearing his throat. He began, "I'm so-" just as she did.
They both stopped, and Brennan was blushing furiously. She continued, without making eye contact, "Go ahead."
"Listen, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to do that."
"No, it's okay. I'm… I was just surprised. It's unexpected…" she trailed off, awkwardly, wishing that her face would be more cooperative and stop turning beet red.
He gave her a questioning look. "No one's ever done that before? I'm sorry, I just… I wasn't thinking."
She looked up, her cheeks still rosy pink, "No, it's fine. I'm just… not used to it."
Her eyes snapped back to his face, "What?"
He smiled, hoping to make her more comfortable. "Pretty girl like you, I'm sure all the boys hit on you in high school."
"I'm…" she exhaled and continued, "No, it's just surprising. I'm just not used to boys… well, a man, like you being interested in me."
"Is it creepy for you? I'm twenty-three, Temperance. I mean, I don't think I'm that old, but if you do…" Her short sigh stopped his rambling.
"No, it's not that big of a deal. Are you interested in me?"
Booth was slightly surprised at her bluntness. "Yes, but if you aren't I'm not going to force you to be my friend or anything."
"No. I… I like you. You seem like a genuine person. And you're more interesting that most of the people my age. You've probably experienced the alcohol-induced bacchanalia at some point. I'm frankly not interested in that."
"Temperance, you sure know the way to a guy's heart."
"Of course I do. It's between the second and sixth intercostal spaces, anterior to the vertebral column and posterior to the sternum."
He smiled, chuckling, "You sure are literal, aren't you?"
She smirked, "I am. It's much clearer this way."
"Well, here's some clarity for you, Temperance. I really like you. Can we hang out sometime?"
"By hang out, you mean make appropriate conversation to eventually lead to sexual intercourse? Yes, I would be agreeable to that."
"Wow, ok. Thinking a little ahead of the curve there."
"I assumed that what you'd like to know."
"Temperance, there are a lot of things I'd like to know before… that. Like when are you free?"
She paused. "I'm not sure. This weekend is mostly free, but…"
"It's a little far away don't you think?"
"It's six days. Or one hundred and forty-four hours. It's the approximate amount of time the Earth takes to rotate six times."
He just glanced at her.
He scrunched his nose a little and nodded in assent.
Temperance smiled a little. "How about Wednesday night? I'm teaching an introduction to anatomy discussion until 6 pm, but I could meet you somewhere."
"Uh-uh. No way. I'm the guy. I can pick you up."
"That's blatant alpha-male behavior."
"My Pops raised me to be a gentleman, Temperance. I'd never fail him," he said with a smile.
"All right. You can pick me up from LaPlata Hall at 630. It's on North Campus, behind the rec center."
"Deal." Booth smiled, his eyes twinkling in merriment. His easy happiness led her to smile back, hopeful that this friendship would be successful.
Booth unzipped his backpack, rifling through until he found a notebook. He tore off a small scrap of paper and scrawled his name and phone number down on the piece of paper. "That's my apartment phone. Most mornings, I'll be in class, but after nine at night, I should be home."
Temperance took the piece of paper, and stowed it away in her pocket. "I would give you my phone number, but I have to share that with my roommate. And she's constantly using it. I can barely remember the number as it is. I can give it to you when I see you next."
"Deal. I'm going to hold you to that." Booth glanced at his watch, noting that it was nearly time for him to return to his car and get to work.
Booth rose and dusted off imaginary grass stains from his pants. "Temperance, I have to get to work. But I'm really glad I met you." He reached a hand down to help her up. She accepted it, and he pulled her to her feet.
"Me too," she nearly whispered.
"I'm looking forward to seeing you soon."
She watched him walk up the mall, walking towards the large student parking lots, where, she presumed, his car was parked. Before disappearing from her sight, he turned, and waved, a lopsided grin still on his face.
Seeing him, she raised her hand to wave back, and couldn't help the grin from spreading across her face. Maybe joy is infectious. Figuratively, she thought.