B & B: A terrible thing to waste

A/N: Thank you to the reviewers who are really lovely people whose words are very much appreciated.

It struck me that many people are guessing one thing, but I think it might be far worse for B&B if this goes down another way. They've got to keep both of them in the picture somehow—the show isn't the same when it's Brennan or Booth lite.

I have no illusions of being right; in fact, it's just fun to speculate. Just don't know how many of these I've got in me.

oOo

How does a lie become the truth?

When he was a kid, he played that telephone game: lean in and whisper the secret you heard into the ear of the kid next to you and wait as the words make their way around the room. He always remembered the game as being mostly fun; "Charlie owns a goldfish" turned into the nonsensical "Bars need to fold kiss" by the time it reached the last ears in the room.

Only later did he understand that the game was a cautionary tale about how messages could become hopelessly garbled. But when he was a kid, it was sometimes fun to see how misshapen a whispered secret could get.

But this?

"It calls into question her ability to do her job, Cherie," Caroline Julian was saying. "It taints her credibility and the credibility of that multimillion dollar lab of hers."

Someone had printed out the lies in the police files and no matter how many times he opened and closed his eyes as if to blink away the twisted words, they always seemed to come out the same.

"You know her, Caroline. This isn't Bones."

Her whole body seemed to sigh. "Booth, you and I both know that had Deputy Director Kirby of your beloved FBI not been a lying, murdering son of a bitch, I would have had to prosecute your partner for his murder even though we both know that it was her father who stabbed the man to death." She took a deep breath. "Consider this penance for outsmarting the justice system."

He read the words again, but they hadn't changed. "This isn't her. You know that. She didn't do this."

That sigh again. "Cher, I know what I know. But even your brainiac partner would agree that the evidence paints a different picture." She grimaced. "And someone's using the biggest, widest possible paint rollers to create that picture."

"And we're going to need more than a can of whitewash to make this go away."

Now it was his turn to sigh. Caroline wasn't one to mangle the truth. But someone else had, Pelant had.

"The Jeffersonian is going to place her on an indefinite leave of absence at the request of the Department of Justice pending the investigation into that young woman's death." Her eyes were two unchanging marbles. "More than likely she will be arrested and charged and that's when the real fun begins."

oOo

Nothing about this is right. After years of polishing the reputation of the Jeffersonian with her research and her partnership with the FBI, she's banned from their hallowed halls. After years of cooperating with law enforcement and providing hundreds of IDs and hundreds of hours of testimony in the name of justice, her own name is tainted and her reputation ruined when she's arrested for murder.

Just nothing is right about any of it.

The headlines she used to garner for helping solve crimes for the FBI, or for her books, or for her charitable works are now forgotten as more lurid headlines paint her a murderer. Her lawyer, at a cool $165 an hour, only offers a solemn, "hold your head up" as her defense against the reporters who camp outside the courtroom looking for more irony in the twisted tale of the forensic-anthropologist-turned-author-turned murderer.

Nothing is right about any of it.

It's Pops who offers some small comfort, insisting that "right makes might" and that only a fool would think she would kill someone in cold blood.

Right makes might. He vaguely remembers reading that line in the tales of King Arthur and his knights, vaguely recalls reading it to Parker one night as Sir Galahad used his sword to exact justice in the kingdom of Camelot. He might have read it before his mother left and his father had perverted the saying to "might makes right" and then beat that message into his body. It might have been Pops who first introduced him to the idea. The message just feels right, just seems to be how they've lived their professional lives, how they've conducted their business these last seven years. It's the core of who they are—being in the right, doing the right thing, having the right intentions—all of those things added up. Right?

Right makes might—except when it doesn't.

It's the first time in court for the reading of the charges and he's sitting on the left side of the courtroom on the side of the accused, a side he's unaccustomed to sitting on. He'd brought her dark blue dress to the jail that morning and he'd been hoping it was delivered to her in time for the hearing when she sees her, pale and drawn, as she's escorted into the courtroom. The dress, one she's bought since the pregnancy, hangs loosely around her and he realizes that it's because the belt is missing.

He's sitting on the left side of the courtroom watching as his partner, a woman who has testified hundreds of times over the years to give the murdered dead a voice beyond the grave, is handcuffed and escorted into the courtroom to a noisier reception than she deserves and he realizes just how wrong this is.

He has never known Dr. Temperance Brennan to not do the right thing.

She stands up in court next to her lawyer, handcuffed and stoic, and accepts a scolding glance from the judge before she pronounces herself not guilty.

And it should be enough—her word should be enough for a courtroom in which her word had been enough to convict hundreds of murderers—but it is not.

Right makes might. Right?

There's something wrong in all this, something terribly, terribly wrong. The woman has been shot and stabbed and buried alive because she chose to work with him bringing murderers to justice and he's already calculating the cost of the expensive lawyer and the theft of time and reputation and pride when the judge gavels his ruling on bail and leaves the number to linger with the crowd and secure its own headline in the evening papers.

Her notoriety and her profession work against her and even Angela, who is married to the richest man he knows, gasps when the bail is set for $5 million.

Right makes might except when it doesn't.

oOo

One morning he watches as she moves ghostlike about the kitchen in a white terry cloth robe and he thinks, a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

He remembers the slogan from that war on drugs campaign: someone opened an egg above a hot frying pan and the egg sizzled against the hot metal. He couldn't remember if that symbolic salvo had any effect on the drug war except to leave many of his generation with that slogan forever seared into memory.

Looking at his partner, he can only concur: a mind is a terrible thing to waste.

She has stayed to fight the charges against her rather than run and it is costing her. Early on in their romantic relationship, he had gotten a very clear idea of just how far Temperance Brennan stretched. Beyond the lab and the work she did for the FBI, he always knew she did her research and wrote her novels. But in the early months of this more intimate partnership, he'd come to learn of the other demands on her time that he had not paid much attention to before. There had always been the occasional request for her services from Homeland Security or the State Department, but he hadn't really known just how many universities relied on her or how many research grants she had a voice in. She was on this board and that board and rather than be bored by the details, he had simply accepted that Temperance Brennan who now shared his bed had a great mind that was shared with a world broader than his.

But now that has all gone away; a murder charge has that effect.

She is guilty without a benefit of a trial in the eyes of her profession. She could no longer work at the Jeffersonian in any capacity. Forensic anthropology has turned its back on her. She gets the rare call, usually from a colleague overseas, but it isn't enough to sustain her.

That great mind isn't getting enough exercise, of that he is sure.

And even though he knows it is Pelant who is to blame, he feels like he's done this to her somehow. He's argued that she didn't have to reenact her parent's flight from justice—she has a baby and him and friends who will work to reveal the truth. But as days turns into weeks it is all too clear that truth could be as snail-slow as justice.

She might have earned three doctorates and been the brightest star in her profession, but right now, under the cloud of a murder charge, her title means nothing and her star has gone dark.

oOo

He runs a gauntlet every morning at work as a dwindling number of agents or techs ask after his partner.

"How's Dr. Brennan these days?"

Try as he might, he sometimes can't walk fast enough or far enough away from the question. In her defense—and his—he offers a "fine" or sometimes a "good" but never a "great."

"So how is she?"

Sweets always finds a way to corner him or get him alone in a room or the elevator before he asks the question.

Fine.

Good.

But never great.

There is nothing great about the situation.

"She okay?"

Yes.

Sure.

Never absolutely. Never.

She mostly spends her days at home, taking care of Christine, reading, writing and studying every damned piece of evidence in her case.

Her bank accounts have been frozen to prevent her from fleeing the country. Her passport had been surrendered. Her notoriety has earned her a get-out-of-jail card, but it's not free.

She is free to move about as she awaits trial, but notoriety and book sales hem her in. Her older books find themselves riding alongside the latest novel on the best seller list. But each book sold seems to create more curiosity and there's not enough money to erase all the times Temperance Brennan, author, or forensic anthropologist, or formerly of the Jeffersonian, is coupled with accused in the murder of. . . .

How is she?

How is she?

oOo

He comes home to a clean house and dinner on the table and a woman who is gorgeous and a baby who is adorable and he should be happy.

She's got a man who loves her and a beautiful home and a baby who is pure delight and she should be happy.

They both have friends, very loyal friends, and they should be happy.

But the despair deepens and he finds her drinking more wine at dinner.

She's good about the baby—she's still breast feeding and she'll use the breast pump before she takes a drink. She'll make sure the baby is down for her nap in the afternoon before she'll take a drink.

The grocery list always includes a trip down the liquor aisle these days and he obliges because these are extraordinary circumstances.

She's stayed to face justice—not that she did anything wrong—refusing to play out her parent's flight, refusing to allow anyone in her family to feel the wounds of abandonment because she knows they don't heal easily.

She's stayed and she's accepted the losses because someday when they can figure out how to catch Pelant: when he makes a mistake, when a witness comes forward, when they figure out how he did it—and then prove it—she'll be free to pick up with her life.

Her name still graces anthropology journals and forensic papers and she's still a best-selling author and she should be happy.

She's got a good man who loves her deeply and a child who depends on her and her life has only taken a detour and someday she'll have the other parts of her life back again because right makes might.

So the growing number of bottles in the recycling bin don't bother him. The baby is fed and clean and happy. Food's on the table and the house is clean. The appointments with the doctor and the lawyers are all kept.

He's not concerned when she finishes the bottle after dinner then falls asleep.

These are extraordinary circumstances.

Extraordinary.

But how does a lie become the truth?

She has a right to numb the pain. But does this right make might?

The only professional calls come from her publisher and he wants to take advantage of the trial publicity—does she have a new novel in her?

How is it that he doesn't see her merging with the wine? How is it that he doesn't see that by not repeating the mistakes of her parents, she is now channeling his father's drinking?

This is where the lie becomes the truth: He comes home to a clean house and dinner on the table and a woman who is gorgeous and a baby who is adorable and he should be happy. She's got a man who loves her and a beautiful home and a baby who is pure delight and she should be happy. They both have friends, very loyal friends, and they should be happy.

Right makes might and they will win this one because they know the truth.

But a mind is a terrible thing to waste. And lies can easily become the truth.

And when she says something one evening between sips of wine that the bang stick is an efficient means of dying—not killing someone, but dying—he begins to count the bottles. He begins to count the days to the trial.

And he begins to count the ways in which they've allowed the lies to become the truth in their lives.

A/N: In the Kathy Reich novels, Temperance Brennan is a recovering alcoholic. Would the show ever go down that road? I know they've never wanted to address Brennan or Zach and the possibility that one or both of them have Asperger's, and they've never really gone down the dark, dark corridor of Booth's gambling problem, always opting for lighter fare. Who knows what evil lurks in the Harts of men? (Couldn't resist.)