Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Chapter 3 of my Post season 8 Finale Fiction, 'Bed of Lies' This chapter is aptly entitled, 'Angela's Ashes'. I hope it makes sense.
"I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee—!"
~ Ezekiel 28:18
Brennan paced her office, one hand on her hip, the other alternately tapping on her lips, then shoving a thumbnail between her two front teeth. She flounced down onto the couch in abject frustration. She'd spent the morning running away from her fears by immersing herself in the cataloging and identification of remains long forgotten in limbo.
She then brooded all through a solitary lunch at her desk as she stared, bleary-eyed and unseeing across the wide expanse of her empty office. Slumping dejectedly in her chair, she allowed herself to indulge in the self-piteous, 'I told you so-ness' of her cynical inner voice.
What did I do wrong? I've pulled down my walls for him—trusted him enough to surrender my stranglehold on my own search for happiness in exchange for a shared happiness. I've let him know me, love me, more than I've ever allowed anyone in my life to. Was it worth it, Temperance? She asked herself disdainfully, unkindly. Look what it's gotten you—anxiety, imbalance, even 'heartache', as they say—though a heart can onle ache when it is overtaxed are in tachycardia or cardiac arrest. She brooded in silence for several moments as the clock ticked toward the close of the noon hour. Something is just not right here. After all this time—Seeley Joseph Booth—FLINCHED. She had called his bluff—and he, the most reliable person she'd ever known, choked, albeit, belatedly. 'Yes, of course. Yes!' He'd said. A day later—a mere twenty-eight hours later, he backed out. No plausible explanation. What changed—and when?" She searched her memory banks desperately, running backward through the scenes leading up to the surreal, heart-crushing discussion the previous evening.
"But, it's what you wanted," she'd said in an injured voice she barely recognized.
"But you didn't," he'd answered back meekly, almost apologetically. He'd watched her carefully, his form held awkwardly turned into itself as if he were almost cowering from an unseen tormentor. Why was he behaving this way?
"But I do now," she could still hear her own sorrowful voice offer up as a final sacrifice of her own pride and vulnerability.
Was he trying to protect himself from something? Was he trying to protect her? Why did he make himself do it if it gave him such obvious discomfort. It was almost as if he, himself, couldn't believe he was saying those words that ripped out her soul and trampled it into dust. She was beginning to recall more of his demeanor as he'd delivered those words now as flashes of that conversation came back to her like a nightmare she just could not kick free of. Thankfully, though, the tempestuous yellow and gray of her emotional upheaval was beginning to waver so she could see beyond it.
She must have asked herself the same question in half a dozen different variations during that conversation: Is this really happening? Am I misinterpreting what he's saying to me? What is going on here? I'm confused. I don't—I don't understand what this means. What does this mean?
For the rest of that evening and most of the following day, that final question pelted her like seeds falling from a cedar tree onto her head: What does this mean? What does this mean?
Brennan didn't accept the whole, 'you've been through a lot of stress, that's all this is—' Sure, she'd done many irrational things out of her love for Booth, perhaps even some semi-spontaneous things, but this wasn't one of them. She had done this for herself as well as for him … and she had put hours of thought into it. Hours. So—his explanation for her proposal, as Angela had said, was bullshit. Complete and utter bovine feces. Even if she had behaved irrationally, that wasn't a legitimate excuse for not going forward with their plans. Booth was the one who had convinced Brennan that, 'Love is not rational' and that there are value and beauty in the social and legal statements made only by a marriage contract.
"That statement is a public proclamation. It tells the world that I am for you, and that you are for me – forever – and to the exclusion of all others," he'd explained to her one afternoon over Indian food they'd taken to a park bench to consume out of Styrofoam take-out containers. "It's the conferring of extraordinary grace from one unto the other; the helping of a partner to be the absolute best they could ever be." She'd stared at him indulgently and wondered why he put such stock in antiquated formalities. Besides, marriage is really meant for medical and financial protection, right? So that one spouse will receive the benefits of services procured for the family under their spouse's name?
Marriage, however, to Booth, meant the spiritual binding together of two souls in the eyes of the Lord. Brennan, he knew, might never commit their relationship to God's care, but Booth certainly intended to and frequently did. Sometimes that was all that got him through the trying times—that and a couple trips to the firing range to let off some steam.
In time, and more through his actions than his words, Booth had convinced her of the power of making this statement to the world, and now she was not only willing but eager to make it. She now understood that, rather than simply a piece of paper, marriage was about the willingness to say, 'I do and I will' without foreknowledge of personal and interpersonal strife. It's the declaration that spouses 'firmly intend to spend their life proving that there is nothing they cannot love each other through, and no place or time when being apart makes more sense than being together'. Brennan had finally taken this into her metaphorical heart—which Booth insisted was actually her 'soul' despite her repeated objections—as if she'd created the concept herself. Besides, it felt right and good, and, to her great surprise—liberating.
So, what now? She asked herself, thoroughly stumped.
She was also disappointed in Sweets' behavior this morning. She'd come to depend upon his insight, even though it was more guesswork than actual science. It was undeniable that no one knew her and Booth more intimately than the Baby Duck. He was family, as far as they were concerned. They hadn't said so much to him, but she suspected he knew it based upon his observations of their willingness to share so much with him—even their home. Reluctantly, they both admitted they missed his company—that is, for at least 24 hours after Sweets moved out. Then, in the 25th hour, they stared across the living room at each other and realized they were truly alone for the first time in months.
That was when Booth shoved the coffee table out of the way nearly knocking it over and sending two magazines and a text book crashing to the ground. He knelt on the carpet, grabbed her hands pulled her down into his lap, then hooted as he pulled her blouse over her head. He attacked her neck and chest, dragging his lips, teeth and stubbly face all over her jawline, breasts, and belly. Then, of course, they made love on the floor like victims of long-unrequited lust finally putting their bodies together for the very first time. It had started out frantic and perhaps a little too aggressive on both their parts, then turned playful, intense, and finally—heavenly—and then uncomfortable—but they giggled and spoke in furtive tones filled with awe and thanksgiving through the whole encounter.
Afterwards Booth had said, "Not to put a damper on things, Bones. And thank God we can do this again whenever we want to—wherever we want to—but—we may be too old for this floor crap!"
In a husky voice drunk with oxytocin, Brennan responded, "I told you the couch was, ergonomically speaking, a more prudent choice, but you insisted, and I quote, 'This is my house, and my floor, and if I wanna ravage you on the floor, by God, I'm taking you on the floor!'"
She'd laughed lazily and rolled off of him, then pulled her hair away from her neck so it fanned out on the floor above her head, then pulled on his arm until he rolled his heavy, intoxicated body on top of her just the way she liked it. He lay with his head against her breast so she could run her fingers through his damp hair and languorously drag her fingernails up and down his back. Now this, they both agreed, was Nirvana.
As their pulses jumped at their throats in diminishing intensity and the thrum and rush of blood in their ears began its decrescendo, they lay quietly—thinking bubbly pastel thoughts—and simply enjoying the tingly relaxation that only post-coital bliss can provide.
Brennan then continued after several long satisfied sighs. "I learned long ago not to quibble with you when you have that he-man fire in your eyes. Besides, I find that I quite enjoy your vigorous bouts of righteous possessiveness when it comes to mutual sexual gratification." She lifted her heavy head and sunk her nose into his hair, giving him several quick kisses across his crown.
"Wanna go again?" Booth had mumbled weakly against her breast, trying not to drool on her warm skin.
"Well," she sighed wistfully, "I certainly could, but –" She chuckled at his dopamine-induced bravado. He snorted back, feigning indignation. He wasn't seventeen anymore. Neither of them cared, but they joked about it regularly. "If you'd just try some of those exercises I told you in the book about tantric sex, you'd be able to—"
"—Hey! I don't need to read a stupid book to find out how to make love to my wife—"
"—I'm not your wife, Booth," she quickly corrected him in a level, though amused voice.
"Oops—" he chortled back. "Well, I hope she doesn't find out about us."
Then Brennan grabbed fistfuls of his hair and squeezed until his scalp began to burn. "Hey, don't bruise the merchandise!" He moaned. No one spoke for a beat. "Shower?" He offered, though he had no intention of moving anytime soon—it was just too wonderful lying on top of the warm, soft, delicious body of the most beautiful, most sensual, most generous and loving woman he'd ever met.
But, that was then. That was before she'd proposed to him and he'd accepted, then changed his mind. What went wrong? What did I miss? She kept pummeling herself. This is a puzzle. I am good at puzzles—
With a full meal in her stomach, Brennan was jolted partway back to her usual level of rationality. "This is absurd," she blurted, chastising herself and angrily tossing the debris from her lunch into the garbage. Brennan stood abruptly and left her office. She began the first of several vigorous laps around the lab to think. "Gather the evidence and follow it without bias—" she murmured. "Gather the evidence—without bias—!"
"Dr. Brennan—" Cam stepped out of her office.
"Tsch!" Was the only response she got from Brennan. That and a palm held up to blot the image of her face from view. Brennan continued walking as if in a trance.
"Dr. B, I've been thinking about—" Hodgins called from the Ookey room.
"Not now, Dr. Hodgins! I'm cogitating," she tossed off in a bland tone not even looking at him. At exactly the same time, Angela rushed distractedly into the lab, blew by Brennan, and crossed the threshold of her husband's domain.
"If you know what's good for you, you'll leave her alone until she stops pacing, babe. Can we move that smoking antique communicator thingy over to my office? You know, your grandfather's secret decoder machine?"
"The Enigma? What do you want with the Enigma machine, Ange?"
"I'm—listen, Jack. Booth wants to try an experiment—it's complicated. Just, listen, can we move it right now and can you show me how to use it ...?"
While Hodgins prepared to push the cart containing the WWII encryption equipment over to his wife's office, Brennan continued to walk circles around the lab, then strode directly into her office and stood there for a moment.
"Establish the constants," she announced to the empty room. "Of which I am the first constant. Have I have consistently behaved in alignment with my known value system and character?" She walked a tight circle around the center of the room, then stopped. "Yes, I have. Okay. I am not likely the cause of Booth's about-face. According to first order logic, that which is not the source of the discord is not likely to be the solution for it either. So—no amount of changing on my part—to accommodate his preferences, for example—could alter his anti-matrimonial position. Hm. Besides, he is thoroughly adjusted to all of my behaviors and beliefs—
theoretical, philosophical, and scientific. Ergo, I am neither the cause nor the solution."
She recommenced wearing an oval path in her office carpet.
"Occam's razor suggests that the simplest explanation is most likely the correct one. What is the simplest explanation?" She sat down on the edge of one of the chairs across from her sofa and pressed her lips together. After a moment, she jumped up and began digging around in her desk for a yellow-lined pad of paper and several pens.
She glanced at the phone. She was still awaiting a return call from Booth's neurosurgeon. "First, rule out the possibility of a physiological cause for his highly uncharacteristic behavior." She'd already made an appointment for a complete physical, urinalysis, and blood work including a complete blood count plus chemistry and lipid panels for the next afternoon. She'd also requested a CT scan from the neck down. If there was a tumor anywhere, they would find it. Booth's brain, however, was Dr. Quadrado-Pollito's department. She would trust Booth's brain to no one else but him.
While she waited for the neurosurgeon's call, she returned to her examination of the evidence. "Okay," she mumbled, flipping open her laptop and setting it on the coffee table. "We've got the physical, the psychological or emotional, the social, the situational, and the spiritual aspects of Booth's person to examine." She turned her yellow pad horizontally and split the paper into five columns and stared at it. She abruptly tore the paper off the pad, crunched it up and threw it across the room. On the next sheet, this time she made only four columns. "Spiritually, there is nothing new. Booth is fully aware of our religious differences and always has been. It has never stopped him from pursuing our relationship. There is no logical reason to believe that it suddenly would." That left physical—which she'd already made appointments to check out—, psychological, social, and situational.
Socially, Booth had always been keen on the idea of marriage. She crossed that column off. Situational—that area would require more investigation. For now, however, she could conduct a little research on male-centric wedding-induced emotional stress. Flipping open her laptop she did a quick search and found an article providing five reasons why some men were reluctant to enter into a life-long commitment with their mates.
Reason #5 Men are flooded with anti-marriage messages. While this is an accurate assessment of the media's misguided attempts to influence consumers, she thought, Booth believes himself to be a unique and self-reliant individual. He isn't easily swayed by exterior messages. Brennan shrugged and moved down the screen to number four.
Reason #4 Weddings are ridiculously expensive. This, she felt, was an unfortunate commentary on the greediness of the wedding industry which thrives on the myth that the perfect marriage must begin with the outrageous fulfillment of every fairytale wish a girl ever entertained—regardless of the cost.
"Now, that is simply asinine," she spoke toward the screen, recalling a comment she'd once made to Booth on this particular issue. 'If people put as much money into the care and protection of their relationships there would be far fewer divorces.' He'd agreed wholeheartedly, but insisted that people had every right to spend their money however they wanted—that was their God-given choice. This, of course, sent them down the path of one of their frequent discussions about finances. 'You can figure out a person's priorities by where they spend their money,' Booth never failed to point out. 'And their time,' was always Brennan's contribution.
That being said, she knew that Booth relished the idea of having a special day set aside for a celebration of their union. 'All you really need is to spend the whole day doing whatever allows you to just be stupid on love, not stupid with your checkbook every day for a year before then,' he once pointed out while covering her neck and face with juicy raspberry kisses, 'being stupid on love is completely free. Look , I'm doing it right now!' In response, Brennan rewarded him with a throaty laugh and sighed as she said, 'I love you.' To which he replied, 'You have no choice—you can't resist me.' She had many responses at the ready for his frequent assertions about her affinity for him. Once she even said, 'I'm powerlessly, mysteriously, and irrationally addicted to your particular physicality, your scent, the sound of your voice, the taste of your kisses, and sensation of your skin against mine—"
This had caught him off guard and shot a piercing swath of adrenaline straight through his chest. He had learned early in their intimate relationship that though she may not be particularly romantic she came up with an occasional comment that made his mouth drop open and his stomach fall straight into his shoes at the most unexpected times. This particular time, once he'd regained a slice of his composure, he'd tossed a mixing bowl full of eggy batter and a bamboo spatula into the sink and declared, 'Screw the soufflé!' Then he'd grabbed her roughly around the waist, pulled her into a full-body embrace that curled her toes, and attacked her neck with passionate kisses. Her calm response was, quite naturally, 'Forget the soufflé, screw the anthropologist.' Later, they ordered out for Suchi. Much later.
Brennan picked her laptop up off the coffee table and slid back on the couch.
Reason #3 The sex will go away and things will get boring. Again, Brennan snorted. That would never happen! We may slow down as we age, but in eight years, things have never been boring. As a matter of fact, life had only gotten more interesting. Different, perhaps, but certainly more interesting. In regard to the diminishing frequency of the sex act, Brennan had written a paper on the evolution of the mating habits throughout the lifetime of connubial relationships in the middle Americas. Age, offspring, stress, and illness can, and often did, take their toll. However, it was the couples that were committed to an environment of unabashedly candid discourse whose reported frequency, duration, and level of satisfaction suffered the least from those elements. Brennan was nothing if not candid about discussing things of a sexual nature. Booth, to his own surprise, had begun to see—and enjoy—the benefits of open communication on such an intimate topic—as long as it remained private and exclusive. Non-issue, she decided.
Reason Number two was loaded with legitimate concerns. Brennan and Booth had seen these unfortunate consequences of bad marriages first hand in their work.
Reason #2 The fall-out from divorce can be terrifying. Brennan couldn't refute the historical facts. Fifty per cent of marriages end in divorce. Mothers end up with the children 84% of the time. Ninety-seven per cent of alimony is paid by men, halving their standard of living. In the case of murder, the first suspect is always the spouse.
Alimony was another non-issue in their case. However, Booth frequently groused over the fact that he couldn't see more of Parker. Brennan could not imagine a scenario in which she would separate Christine from Booth—ever. Longstanding research supported the theory that one of the greatest indicators of a young female's emotional development and self-confidence was tied directly to her relationship with her father. Not to say that father-less girls lack self-confidence or emotional stability—but positive and nurturing paternal attention proved to have an overwhelmingly positive impact in a young girl's life. Non-issue.
Reason #1 Men fear a loss of power when they get married. Well, Brennan couldn't speak for Booth's feelings, but he certainly had never exhibited signs of being limited by their relationship. A relationship should lift a person up … most of the time. In Seeley Booth's case, Brennan was confident that loss of power was also a non-issue.
Earlier that morning, ten miles north of the United Stated Capitol, on the sprawling fifty-two acre wooded grounds of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, Angela Pearly-Gates Montenegro watched the ashes from the charred remains of her Girl Friday mission fan out over the surface of the reflecting pond. She hoped and prayed that the contents of the charred and dispersed pages would stay with her long enough for her to get back to the office and regurgitate them into her old laptop.
Ashes. Angela's ashes. That's how she thought of them. Angela's Mission of Ashes. 'Ashes to ashes, and dust to dust,' she mouthed silently, transfixed by the dispersing cloud of grey and ink that mottled her reflection as she crouched to lean over the pool and stare into her own dark distorted face. How appropriate, she thought, her jaw clenching in disgust. You are a worm, Pelant; a worm who drugged us, touched Michael, and left a human-sized lump of blood and guts hanging in our canopy!
"I will bring thee to ashes upon the earth in the sight of all them that behold thee—!" she spat between clenched teeth. It was a line from the Book of Ezekiel, which she imagined herself delivering with all the guile and revulsion of Lady Macbeth in the eponymous Shakespearean tragedy.
Straightening, Angela found a branch nearby and thrust it into the settling sediment, swirling and swishing it around. She couldn't imagine a way that Pelant could reassemble those notes from particles of ash, but she wasn't going to leave anything to chance. Satisfied, she turned and stepped away from the pool.
Before her now on the screen of her consciousness were the disconcerting contents of those six sides of paper which were now at the bottom of the reflecting pool. What to do first? She asked herself as she began walking from the reflecting pool at a clipped pace before breaking into a jog to complete the remaining distance between herself and her car.
She felt like she was being watched. I'm paranoid, she told herself. Just because you're paranoid doesn't mean the boogey man isn't out to get you," she chagrined with a smirk. She knew full well that Pelant's beady eyes were just as likely as not to be peering down at her from the surveillance cameras perched atop the roof of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I wonder if all Girl Fridays feel like their brain could be scanned if they stood in one place for too long? Snap out of it, Angela, no one can make you wear a tin foil hat unless you allow him or her to put it on your head. And you, my dear, are too damn hot to be wearing a conspiracy theory helmet! Rolling her eyes at the downward spiral of her own traitorous thoughts, Angela confirmed what she'd suspected ever since she'd joined the team at the Jeffersonian Institute: I am NOT cut out for this crap!
As she'd read of the mission and what Booth wanted her to do, the tiny hairs on her neck and arms had stood on end. Sure, she was more than capable of doing everything he asked, but what was this all about? It felt creepy. She wasn't sure what was at stake—he hadn't told her and now she wasn't sure if she wanted to know—but it was too late. She was already involved. Booth had chosen her specifically, he'd written in his notes, because of her technical expertise and her understanding of the human heart. He'd also reminded her of how grateful he had been, though he hadn't seemed so at the time, that she had managed to keep quiet about Brennan's whereabouts for three full months when she had been on the run with Christine and Max.
"Okay," she said to the empty car as she slid into reverse, and then slapped her hand across her mouth. "No talking out loud to myself," she admonished, then took a deep breath and pressed her lips tightly together.
Her highly organized brain went to work as her body instinctively drove her back toward the Jeffersonian. Where is my old laptop? She wondered. It's at home! She made a right instead of a left turn on Indigo Street and sped toward the Hodgins' homestead. Ten minutes later, with the wireless card removed from a four year old Dell laptop, Angela was heading back to the Jeffersonian only five miles over the speed limit.
Booth's notes had opened with a pleading paragraph:
Angela – You are truly my Girl Friday! I'm counting on you. Next to the squintspertise at the Jeffersonian, you and me may not look like it, but we've got the goods too. I've got some things here that I don't know how you will accomplish – but I have every faith you will find a way. Once again, I'm trusting that Brennan's future, our family's future, is safe in your capable hands. First off, we both gotta start some buzz about being proactive about catching Pelant before he kills again. I will be doing all I can to generate some serious concern over here—and that includes Caroline. My goal is to get an order to put the EFT shield back up. That's the military grade counter-surveillance covering over the Jeffersonian lab—the one we put up after he broke into your house. But I'm getting ahead of myself—
Conducting her research without being detected was her first concern. There were some things she couldn't avoid using the Internet for. Booth had told her he trusted her—and that means he trusts my judgment, she thought to herself. So, if I use every countermeasure at my disposal plus a parameterized complexity to cover my tracks, I should be able to get what I need even before calling Booth's Swedish hacker-friend—what was her name—Atlanta? No, Arizona! Who names a person after a state? Angela rolled her eyes. It would take time for her to get the extra burner phones she needed to make that untraceable call to Sweden—so that would have to wait. But now she was getting ahead of herself. She recalled the first items on the list; things she could do right away.
** Buy about twelve burner cell phones but never use one more than two or three times and keep all calls less than 70 secs.
** Get the enigma machine from Hodgins moved into your office. We'll communicate only through that or the cells. If you have a lot of info to send me, use a courier.
** Reach out to Arizona Flemming through her brother in Sweden. (He supplied the thirteen digit number) He owes me a favor. Tell him I sent you. Arizona is a hacker 'ad infinitum'. You are brilliant, Angela, but this woman is scary. Trust me!
** Start making noises with the team about being proactive about finding Pelant as long as we don't have a case, okay? I may bring Sweets in on this, but it's too risky right now. Assume you are my only person I'm telling—because you are.
** Could you check into older commercial security cameras—ones that use tiny video tapes? Nothing digital, in other words. Do you know if they make those old ones with motion sensors? If you can just research this for me, I will go get them myself. I just don't have the foggiest where to start.
** Just a note: Never, ever use the name Pelant or Alfayat or any of his other aliases in anything that can be hacked! We'll refer to him as… Booth had crossed out several options, then finally: 'Hawsonborn'. It's a sloppy acronym for 'He Who Shall Not Be Named' if you take out the vowels and the letter R.)
Angela had to chuckle at that. "So Cloak-and-Daggery," she snorted.
** Get a progress report on Anna Samuels, the girl who tried to shoot Sweets. She's in intensive care. Sweets can't get in to see her until she's lucid enough to have a conversation. I wonder if he had intended for us to kill her … making her his eighth victim? Just a thought.
** Look through the Jeffersonian's case files on Pelant. We've got, in order by case number; Inger Johannsen, Ezra Krane, Ethan Sawyer, Carole Morrisey, Xavior Freeman, Alan Friedlander, Jeffery Stone. Focus on what you squints uncovered about we about the victims lives', causes of death, torture methods, weapons used, trace found, shacking things he was able to do with technology—stuff like that. Plus anything else that brilliant brain of yours thinks may be relevant or create a pattern of some kind. We're trying to put some rhyme and reason to the big picture of how this guy operates. This time we are going to be proactive, dammit.
** RESEARCH: Look into the bastard's past. I wanna know where he buys his newspaper, what soda he drinks, how often he takes a crap. Every and anything we can get our hands on. (Could Ethan's spit triangle help with this? Maybe decode his credit card bills or something? Or maybe his bank account?) Here are some ideas:
*) Names of his cell mates when he was in the clink for wire and computer fraud
*) Where he went to grade school, or any other schools
*) Medical records—there have to be some. Find them.
*) Newspaper clippings from his kindergarten Christmas pageant.
*) His parents—who are they? Where are they? If dead, how and when? Max has talked to Pelant's grandfather-check that out.
*) Any suspicious unsolved murders in Silicon valley while he was at Stanford?
This is a good start, Angela, and I know it will take time. If there is anything you need, let me know—but use the Enigma to do it. Next, I have possibly the most important task for you to accomplish. Please get this information to me today if at all possible. Courier it to our house this evening if you have to:
** Review the security footage from Kalorama Park off Columbia Road between 6:00 and 7:15 last night. Focus on the area immediately surrounding the sandbox swing set. Brennan and me will be sitting in the sand with Christine. Right after I answer the phone and step away from my family, look around at the other people in the park. I need you to find four people who we need to keep an eye on. We need their names and addresses and any connection they may have to Pelant or, to us, for that matter. Here are their descriptions:
1) An African American teen in his early twenties wearing a green shirt and light tan pants. He's listening to an iPod with white ear buds. He leaves the park about ten minutes after I sit back down with Brennan.
2) A young couple, Asian in appearance and older than the guy with the iPod. They are sitting close on a green park bench and laughing. The girl has long straight black hair and a light tan jacket. The guy—short spiked hair and a light greenish canvas jacket.
3) The fourth is an old man in a tan fisherman's hat, a sage knit sweater, gold-rimmed glasses, white mustache. He's sitting at a chess table opposite an empty chair and a big tree. During the twenty minutes I watched him no one joined him. That's four people altogether.
Following the list was a paragraph of details she was supposed to find out about the four anonymous people. Then, the following:
If Pelant— he'd written, then crossed out the name they all had come to despise almost tearing a hole through the paper—If Hawsonborn can see these people, we should be able to as well. The bastard can't really be everywhere at once, right?
When Booth had written that last sentence, he'd paused and frowned, his forehead rippling like the waves on the ocean. It sure feels like he's everywhere at once! Booth literally had to shake his head and pound on his thigh to chase away the defeatist attitude that clawed at him. Sitting perfectly still before continuing with his next instruction, he had a revelation that turned his blood cold. Pelant is going to have to kill someone to get himself back in the center of our lives, that greedy little bastard. Grrrrr!" He growled.
At the very bottom of the sixth side of the note, Booth had written:
Angela, all of this has to stay between you and me. I am deadly serious. None of our lives are in danger as far as I know—thank God we got to Sweets in time—but other lives are most definitely on the line. This means more to me than you will ever know.
By the time Angela ran through the memorized contents of his note, she'd arrived at the Jeffersonian and rushed in, bypassing Brennan, and heading straight into Hodgin's office.
As Hodgins gave Angela a primer on the seventy-three year old technology used to send and decipher encrypted messages with the Enigma machine, Brennan was perusing the list of reasons men were afraid of marriage.
Brennan cell phone rang, rousing her from a pensive trance. Quadrado-Pollito's
"Hi, Honey. Are we still on for our weekly dinner? I can bring the desert this time." It was Max.
"Uh—" What to do? Brennan wasn't in the mood for company—but she also wasn't looking forward to an awkward evening with Booth during which they would both be polite until someone finally said something about getting married. Until she figured out what was going on with him, she couldn't face the possibility that his feelings for her had somehow legitimately changed. She just—couldn't. "Sure—dad. We are looking forward to seeing you," she said, adopting a chipper tone.
"Baby, what's wrong?" He asked, alarmed.
"I—what do you mean?"
"You sound funny—chipper, actually. That is not like you. Is Booth okay? Christine?"
"Yes, Dad. Everyone is fine," she said, unable to mask the malaise she was feeling. "I'm just tired—and perhaps experiencing withdrawal from the excess adrenaline that's been coursing through my system over the past couple of days. You know, we—well, we had a big case, but we still haven't caught Pelant—"
"Yeah, I heard. And I heard you asked Booth to marry you! I can't tell you how happy I am to hear you're finally going to make an honest man out of him, Tempe!"
"Dad," Brennan started to object.
"I know, I know, baby. I'm just yanking your chain! How about I come over at the usual time?"
"That would be fine, Dad. See you then."
Just as they hung up, her cell phone rang.
"Brennan," she spoke into the phone when she saw the caller I.D. indicating the call originated from the neurology department where Booth's surgeon had his offices.
"Please hold for Dr. Quadrado-Pollito," said a curt female voice.
"Dr. Temperance Brennan! How wonderful to hear from you. I trust everything is going well with your Agent Booth? I reviewed his case notes and saw that he missed his check-up appointment this past spring. Can we assume everything is going well?"
Brennan jumped right in. "I am sure it is good to hear from me, Dr. Quadrado-Pollito, but I have called with a concern about Agent Booth. Would you have an opening in your schedule to see us tomorrow?"
"For you, Dr. Brennan, I would cancel all my other appointments! What seems to be the problem? Tell me everything; leave nothing out."
"In the past twelve hours I have observed an abrupt and uncharacteristic departure from conventions that are an integral part of Agent Booth's value system. This departure is— well, I am attempting to ascertain the origin of this change. The logical first step, in my experience, is to rule out the possibility of a physiological dysfunction. As all other signs indicate that he is neither septic, nor dyspeptic, nor rabid, I suspect that any unobservable physiological dysfunction might involve a neurological component." She briefly described her observations of Booth's previous and changed behaviors including average number of occurrences, a scale with witch she judged the strength of his convictions over time, and the dramatic change in those numbers recently displayed. Dr. Dr. Quadrado-Pollito listened attentively, inserting the occasional 'Hm," or "I see," were appropriate.
"How has his appetite been?"
"He didn't touch his food last night and there was no evidence that he had had even coffee this morning. I don't know about lunch—"
"Has there been any disorientation, loss of consciousness that you are aware of?"
"Garbled or slurred speech, migraine, vision loss, numbness in the extremities?"
"Not that I am aware of—"
He asked two or three other perfunctory questions about Booth's general health and habits, then called his nurse to review the next morning's schedule.
"Temperance. If this were anyone other than you with these concerns I would say, I don't know that this is a serious problem. If it were anyone other than your Agent Booth, I would say this is nothing more than cold feet at the prospect of getting married. However, I trust your assessment and am equally curious to examine the patient. I'd like to see you tomorrow morning at 8:30 sharp?"
"Perfect. See you then. And thank you for accommodating us, Dr. Dr. Quadrado-Pollito."
"The pleasure is entirely mine, I assure you, Temperance."
They hung up. Brennan felt a minute sense of peace that at least she had begun to solve this difficult puzzle, probably the most important one of her life.
Around the same time Brennan was making an appointment for him at his neurologist's office, Booth was skipping lunch and running back to the Mighty Hut. The only thing he had an appetite for today was blood, anyway. Stinkin' Pelant-Alfayat blood.
He needed to get some things done at the Mighty Hut before Brennan and Christine got home that evening.
Going straight to his Man Cave, he yanked open the gray metal box attached to the wall to the right of the circuit breaker box. This box, instead of having a bunch of switches, had twenty coaxial cables running out of the bottom of it. He unscrewed the first cable. It took forever to get it loose and free. Taking three steps at a time, Booth ascended the stairs and bolted out to the garage where he collected a pair of pruning sheers.
Back in his Man Cave in the basement, Booth began cutting the coaxial cables away from their connections. The network of surveillance cameras that made up the eyes and ears of his security system had cost him a fortune—but there was no way in hell he was going to continue with a system Pelant could hack into and use against them. No way. He would replace these cameras with analog systems that used little micro videotapes that Angela would locate for him. Until then, he planned to Flip The Bird at the bastard the only way he knew how.
Returning to FBI headquarters, Booth sat at his desk next to a stack of case files and took out a fresh folder. He wrote the name, 'Hawsonborn, Richard H.', across the cover and chuckled manically. He'd almost given Pelant the first name 'Dick', but thought it might be too obvious. The 'H' stood for 'Head'. That, he just couldn't resist. If he knew a formal was to give him the name 'Douche Bag,' he would have. For now, he was stuck with 'Dick Head Hawsonborn'. He could live with that.
He spent two hours reviewing his own notes about each and every one of the Pelant cases. At five o'clock he left the office, swung by Capitol Hill Flowers and Fruit and bought twenty of the most fragrant roses he could find. Ten were red—which Brennan had explained to him meant sincere love, respect, courage and passion. The other ten were a deep, velvety orange. Brennan had informed him that orange roses stood for passionate desire, pure enthusiasm, and insatiable fascination for the object of one's affections. Booth knew no number or color of roses could make up for what he'd said to Brennan the previous night. But, he was determined to do everything he could to convince her that his feelings for her, his commitment to her, had not changed in the least.
I hope this wasn't too too heavy on the minutia and too light on the fluff and intrigue ... you will have to let me know!
For you faithful 'The When and the How: A Bone to Pick' readers, that is next on the docket... thanks for Your Patience!
THANK YOU FOR CONTINUING TO READ AND LETTING ME KNOW WHAT YOU THINK -
YOU MAKE IT ALL WORTH WHILE!
threesquares, SharonM745, bogie31757, LARACROFT0143, bblover228, Kimberrn, daniellejoy07, hannahmegan14, Taylor Alicea, Grace, eire76, daisesndaffidols, julianne, Alicia9876, roomwithamoose311, Lbrs, FaithinBones, sandyholl, Paige, soxgirl69, idkwhatthatmeans, pasha54, elmasuz, Guest, yoshimi0701, redgirlang, Silver maker, Martreiya, Di3, ciaomichaella, MMP, sarahspencer125, brensfan, Emilee, gotyournose, DWBBFan, Guest, chosenname, latetobones, luckywynner86, Paladin's Joy, Grandmabones, Angie, bostonlegalgirl, readinglady5, Shuah101, katyrosek, Maunzeli, xxletgoxx, suki, JBCFlyers19, Becksbones, Chelsea, coterie2, myrnama, Guest, jsboneslover, Diko, SammieAtHome