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 The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!

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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Sun Nov 13, 2011 2:34 pm

Readers - I apologize for not updating in a while ... I've been consumed with writing a couple of long chapters! I've also become a Twitter addict! Man, it can make time fly! If you haven't got a twitter account, I highly recommend it. Many of the members on this and other Bones fan sites communicate regularly via Twitter. Once you have an account, Twitter will send you recommendations of other Bones Fans to begin following. My Twitter handle is MoxieGirl44. Feel free to give me a holler if you wander over there!

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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:25 pm

Chapter 58 Fairy Godmother Has A Word With Cinderella

Carmen serves dinner and it is delicious. The four friends eat, talk, and laugh for almost two hours. By this time, Brennan, though completely relaxed and truly enjoying herself, is waning.

The group moves to the living room, despite Carmen's insistence that Booth take Brennan to the hotel and let the poor girl get some sleep.

"I'm having too much fun," says Brennan. "Give me one more hour before I turn into a pumpkin."

"If you're sure, Cinderella," says Carmen, heading back into the kitchen to get desert ready.

"I'm sure," says Brennan, nodding her head and smiling warmly. She then follows Carmen into the kitchen to see if she can help.

"About your relationship with Seal," says Carmen, now that they have a minute alone. She had witnessed Booth's welcoming embrace from the kitchen earlier. Then after watching the two interact over dinner, she can't help having one more go at this. "You said it was complicated?"

"Yes," Brennan answers, her hands on the counter top in front of her.

"You are wrong," says Carmen, looking her straight in the eyes. Brennan is a little surprised. "When you truly love, you can't help but overlook the obstacles. Tackling them together is much easier than doing it alone." She pauses, watching the emotion fleeting across Brennan's face. She reaches out and covers one of Brennan's hands with her own. Brennan looks away, a tear trembles down her cheek. After a moment, Carmen says, "Forget about Hannah. This man adores you. There's no one else. Men aren't that complicated."

"But …"

"Ch-ch-ch-shhh…" says Carmen, slowly shaking her head and putting a finger to Brennan's lips to silence her. Brennan is overwhelmed by the compassion she sees in this woman's eyes. She nods, silently, unable to look up, and covers Carmen's hand with her free one.

"Now go. I'll be out in a minute…"
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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:25 pm

Chapter 59 Cinderella Vs. Sleeping Beauty

"Who's ready for some Crème Brûlée? Maybe some coffee?" announces Carmen as she emerges from the kitchen.

Booth and Brennan sit on the couch, but not touching. Larrinaga is sitting on the edge of his favorite chair. All three are laughing at something Carmen was too late to hear.

Dessert is phenomenal. Booth asks for seconds.

"Now that's a compliment, if I ever heard one," says Carmen, happily heading back to the kitchen.

When she returns, she has two Crème Brûlées - the second for her husband who would eventually ask for it anyway.

After downing the second dessert, Booth excuses himself to use the facilities. Carmen takes the dishes and silverware back to the kitchen. When Booth returns, he sees that Brennan has fallen asleep, her head laying back on the edge of the couch.

"I think I bored her to death," whispers Larrinaga.

"I doubt that," says Booth. "She probably won't tell you, but she was looking forward to meeting you - she prepared the dossier on you so I wouldn't sound like an idiot." The two men share a grin. Booth slides onto the couch beside Brennan and lifts her head from the back of the couch, putting his arm around her. She stirs, and lays her head against his shoulder. She stirs again, yawns, and reaches up to grab a hand full of Booth's tee shirt which she holds in a fist like a child's favorite blanket. Booth's voice, vibrating through his chest and into her dream, lulls her right back to sleep.

The men exchange a glance. "Is she awake?" asks Larrinaga.

"Doubt it," says Booth. "We've had an unbelievable week." He briefly explains the Broadsky case, Vincent's tragic death, and the 24 hours Brennan spent with Parker. He looks down at Brennan's face. Her face is expressionless and perfect, a gentle smile on her lips. Booth takes a deep breath and watches her head rise and fall with his chest.

His arm still around her, Booth's hand rests on Bones' hip. Occasionally, he moves his hand over her waist and back up onto her hip, giving her an gentle affectionate squeeze. He can't help notice that her top has risen about two inches above her jeans in the middle of her back. Seeing her bare skin, he sighs, wanting really badly to run his fingers across her skin, but that might wake her up - and he's enjoying holding her too much.

Returning from a little clean-up in the kitchen, Carmen stops behind her husband, smiles, and sweetly says, as if speaking about a child, "Ah, Cinderella finally gets to sleep …"

Booth and Larrinaga talk for another hour or so. Eventually, Carmen gets up, leaves for a while, and returns to report that she's made up the guest bedroom with fresh sheets and put a set of clean towels in the bathroom.

"There's no way she's gonna make it to the hotel, Seal. Did you check her in before coming here?"

"No - her flight got in at 7:45. We wanted to get here as soon as possible."

"Can you wake her?" asks Enrique.

Booth looks at her face and pinches her cheek a couple times. She just wiggles her nose, swallows, closes her mouth, and squeezes his tee shirt even more tightly.

"Now I have to use the restroom," says Larrinaga leaving the room.

"Me too," says Carmen, leaving Bones and Booth alone in the living room.

As Booth watches her sleeping face, trying to decide what to do, Bones murmurs, "Booth is mine, Hannah."

"Yes, he is," Booth whispers back, his throat tight. He closes his eyes and presses his lips to her forehead.
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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:26 pm

Chapter 60 Take Me to the Hotel, Booth

"She's dead to the world, she's not going anywhere," says Carmen returning to the living room. "Will it upset her to wake up in a strange place?"

"Bones has been in many places much stranger than this. She'll be fine."

"Okay. I won't take that as an insult"

"Sorry - you know what I mean!"

Booth sits up, Bones still attached to his side and chest. He tries to get her standing up - she's just incapacitated. Seeing no other option, Booth leans down, puts his free arm under her knees and lifts her like a parent lifting a child who fell asleep on a long car ride.

"So where's this guest bedroom?" he asks.

"I'll take you." She leads the way down a hallway in the opposite direction of the family bedrooms. A guest bathroom is off to the left, and the bedroom is at the end of the hall. She opens a door to a quiet little room with dusty-purple colored walls and a mauve tapestry duvet cover on top of a queen size bed. A small lamp sits on the dresser, illuminating the room just enough to show the way, but not enough to wake anyone up.

Carmen pulls the duvet cover down to the bottom of the bed, then pulls the sheets down far enough for someone to climb in. Booth is waiting, leaning his back against the door frame, still holding Bones.

"Can you pick it up a bit Carmen? She weighs a ton!"

"Sorry, sorry, sorry," she says, plumping up a pillow. "I'll get out of our way." Carmen leaves the room.

Booth hefts Bones onto the bed. Brennan rouses and mumbles, "Take me to the hotel, I'm so tired. Take me to the hotel, Booth."

Booth says, "I thought you'd never ask - but not tonight. You are incapacitated, partner." He realizes he's just talking to himself because she's already gone again. "I never had you pegged as someone who talks in her sleep," he says, once again to no one conscious."

Relieved of his cargo, Booth stands beside the bed, one hand on his hip, the other rubbing his sore trapezius.

"What should I do about her clothes?" He asks the empty room. "She'll have to sleep in them," he says and turns to leave the room. As he's about to go, Carmen arrives with Brennan's suitcase and toiletries bag.

Carmen unzips the suitcase and flips the cover over. Right on top is what appears to be a long, white, tailored, button down shirt. Buttons go from the collar down about 12 inches. The material looks much softer than a regular shirt. These are obviously pajamas.

"If I were her, I'd be much more comfortable in this," Carmen says, plopping the nightgown onto Booth's chest.

"Wha?" manages Booth. He gives Carmen a look that says, "will you do it?"

Carmen looks at him, smirks, and says, "She's YOUR partner, Seal," and walks out of the room.
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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:30 pm

Chapter 61 See You In My Dreams

He knows he should do this. No one sleeps comfortably in jeans. But he argues with himself anyway.

Will she be upset that he undressed her while she was sleeping? Of course not, he assures himself. She's logical. She'll be grateful. There was no other way to provide her with a comfortable night's sleep - and she needs that sleep - they have a lot of work ahead of them tomorrow. Right. Good. That makes sense to him.

Then he remembers something else risky he's recently done. Changing her into her pajamas would be much easier to explain than the cell phone photo of her sleeping in his bed. In the end, this doesn't make him feel any better. He actually feels worse, remembering that there may be hell to pay when she finds out about that. He starts to feel like a stalker. This is ridiculous, he tells himself.

"Here goes nothing," he says, shaking his head and taking a deep breath, hoping he gets through this without going crazy ... this is the woman he loves, after all. Asleep. And about to be mostly naked. In a bed. In a dimly lit room. This is almost as dangerous as the night Mr. Vincent Nigel-Murray was killed and she came into his room needing comforting. Actually, it's more so, he tells himself, knowing what he now knows, and wanting her even more than he did then, if that is at all possible. Except that he knows this absurd story in the retelling will be hilarious. Not that there's anyone to share it with except Bones herself. He does look forward to that one day, he decides. He considers what he will say if she wakes up to find him disrobing her. What could he possibly say? Would she scream?

Booth decides a little prayer might help him remain … focused … on the task at hand: getting her into the pajamas without his mind, hands or any other body parts, wandering where they shouldn't be.

He makes the sign of the cross, the prelude to all of his prayers and closes his eyes.

"In the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen." He can't think of a single prayer that would be appropriate in this situation, his brain is a little fuzzy right now. Flooded with pot-o-mean, fen-fen-amean, en-dolphins and oxy-genic whatever, Bones would tell him.

Okay. Now. Where to start? Jeans? Jeans, it is. He takes a deep breath and tells himself, "Just think of her as a really big Parker - too tired to dress himself. With breasts." He pauses. "Focus, Booth, focus!"

He unzips her jeans and gingerly peals them down past her hips, making sure her panties stay right where they belong. He squeezes his eyes shut and says another prayer. This one to a patron saint of chastity and impure thoughts, which a good Catholic boys know by heart, as a result of saying it a million times by the time they reach 18:

"Merciful Lord, please accept the suffering of my weak human mind

with all itsunwanted thoughts as a small relief of the pain which You felt,

when You were crowned with thorns."

Not that the thoughts were particularly unwanted, if he was honest with himself, but they were ill-timed, considering the situation.

He rolls her onto her side to pull her jeans off her rear end, noticing with a smile that he recognizes this style of panties. He seemed to recall they were made by a company called 'Cotton Candy.' Rebecca had gone crazy trying to find a pair of them back before they'd gotten pregnant with Parker.

Made of a solid, silky, baby blue material, the panties are loose-fitting, except for the waist band and leg holes, and left a lot to the imagination - which was a relief to Booth. The waistband and leg holes were fringed in a one inch ruffle made of the same fabric. They look more like bikini or pajama bottoms and made him feel a little less … guilty? Apparently Rebecca had seen them on a Frankie music video for a song called "Big Girls Don't Cry."

As he's working her jeans down toward her knees, Booth notices a flash of contrasting color on the back of the panties. Curious, he rolls her to her side just far enough to make out the image. Screen printed in an elegant deep blue cursive is a phrase. "Surely Bones doesn't have Days of the Week panties" he says to himself, "that would be way too cliché." He has to look closely to see what it says, something in Latin, he guesses

"If this whole "Anthropologist" thing doesn't work out, I can always fall back on my modeling career."

He reads it out loud. Realizing what he's just read, he lets out a loud laugh and slaps his hand over his mouth. He then quietly and carefully returns Bones to her back and looks at her face to see if she wakes up. "This is too damn hilarious to keep to myself," he thinks. "Where's Hodgens when I need him?"

From this point, with the jeans around her knees, Booth walks to the bottom of the bed and does what he'd do if it were Parker. He grabs the pant legs at her ankles and pulls the whole pair off and out from under her.

Now for her shirt. This is going to be tricky. The top half includes the … the face … and … other personal items that are hard to ignore. He hesitates, trying to think through a strategy, talking himself through it.

"First, get the pajamas ready," he tells himself. He unbuttons her pajama shirt and lays it out on the bed.

Then he takes hold of one of the sleeves, picks up the forearm attached to the arm inside that sleeve, and gently moves the sleeve up, and the arm inside the shirt. "Whew!" he thinks, wiping his forehead with the back of his hand. He quickly performs the same maneuver on the other arm. Now he's gotta get it over her head without pulling on her face enough to awaken her. Since the possibility of her waking and the potential for getting caught is greatest at this point, he decides he's going to have to be quick about this. Holding his breath, he lifts the shirt from around her neck, pulls it up to her hairline and lifts her head, pulling the top out from underneath.

He'd already decided removing her bra was going too far. In his book, no matter how close they were, that would cross a line that he shouldn't ever cross without being invited. It's a matter of trust and respect to him.

Looking down at her, he can't help but notice how exquisite she looks in only her bra and panties. "Holy Mother of God!" he says before he can stop himself. Her skin is the kind that's been written about in books for centuries, creamy and porcelain and healthy. Her curves are … she got great curves. Her face, in sleep, is peaceful, beautiful.

Being a breast man, he can't help noticing that those curves are rather nice as well. Usually when a woman lies on her back, her breasts slide into her arm pits. It's basic physics. But put a bra on her, everything stays in front, and she turns into Pamela Anderson. "Wow," he says, his mind going completely blank. Where are those prayers when you need them? It's as if he was a hard drive and she was a gigantic magnet that just erased his entire memory. "Holy Mother of God," is all he can say. Although, Holy Mother of God doesn't feel like enough to get him through this. Surely there's a patron saint for people whose brains stop working when there's a near-naked woman in front of them? If there is a prayer, there's no way his feeble mind can recall it right now. "Holy Mother of God," is just gonna have to do!

Throwing the top backward, he grabs the pajamas from the bed, scrunches them into a big ring of fabric so he can get the whole garment over her head at once, and places it over her head. Since he'd already unbuttoned all the buttons, it wasn't difficult to get her arms through the generous arm holes. He pulls the pajamas down to her thighs with a little tugging here and there. Relieved to have that over with without waking her, he pulls the sheets and the duvet up to her chin.

As if she knew he had completed his task, she rolls toward him and half way onto her stomach, bringing her outside knee up and her fist up to under her chin. He watches her for a moment, thinking nothing at all, just enjoying seeing her like this. He can't wait to tell her everything he learned Monday morning with Hannah, so they can get on with their lives and he can see her like this every night and every morning.

Feeling brave, he sits down on the bed beside her, careful not to make noise or touch her. Placing his hand on the other side of her for leverage, he leans down without touching her, closes his eyes, and breathes in the scent of her. A goofy, intoxicated smile flitters across his face. He leans in an inch or two more and kisses her on the nose. As he's about to do it again, she shifts, kissing him on the lips like long-time lovers greeting, and rolls over onto her other side.

Booth feels like he's been dropped three flights down an elevator shaft. He's not sure he'll be able to walk to the SUV.

He smiles, kisses her on the cheek now closest to him, and says, "Good night, Bones. See you in my dreams" into her ear. As he's getting up, he notices a faint smile cross her lips. He reaches up to turn off the dresser light, and quietly leaves the room, closing the door.

All the lights are off in the house except the living room lamp. Enri is waiting on the couch to say good night to him. He stands up as Booth enters the room.

"Would you like a beer, or perhaps a bag of frozen peas?" Larrinaga asks.

Booth looks at him, confused, maybe he misunderstood Enri?

"I better just pack it in, buddy," he says. "We've got a big day ahead of us tomorrow."

"It's not to drink, Seal. I don't think you're going to get anywhere with that extra gear shift in the way."

Booth looks down and laughs at Mother Nature.

"I guess I'll take that beer," he says. "Maybe we can sit here for a couple minutes?"

"Just partners, huh?" he says with a lopsided grin as he heads to the kitchen for both the beer and the bag of frozen peas.

__________________


Chapter 62 MYOB

Carmen waits in their bedroom reading as Enrique sees Booth to the door. As the front door lock tumbles into place, he makes a B-line for the bedroom.

"Enrique - do you realize what time it is?" Carmen asks as he crosses the threshold.

"I'm well aware of what time it is, Carm," he says, yawning, unbuckling his belt and pulling it out of its loops.

"Then why did you keep Seal here when you knew I was waiting for you? That man needs his sleep," she says, closing her book and putting it on the bedside table. She's actually delighted that he's made a new friend - but she's also feeling a little … frisky … and impatient.

"Sorry for making you wait, Your Royal Highness, but there was a little unfinished business that needed to be dealt with before Seal took off."

"What was so important it couldn't have waiting until morning?"

"Well, lets just say, after helping Temp into her pajamas he needed to cool down a bit," he says to her, standing at the foot of the bed, a look of amusement on his face, a sly smile playing at his lips. "And friends don't let friends drive impaired."

"Did you two have another beer? He didn't seem inebriated an hour ago."

"No," he says, "Quite the contrary." He whips off his shirt and jeans, dropping them in the hamper. Over his shoulder he tosses out to her, "it was more of a circulation problem." He turns and looks at her, hand on his hips, and grabs his own junk until she understands.

Carmen gives him a quizzical look, then her eyes open wide and she lets out a howl of a laugh. Immediately she covers her mouth with her hand, not wanting to wake the kids who are across the hallway in their beds.

"Man - those two better get it together before he breaks something," she says with a wicked grin.

"Yoww - don't even say that," Enrique replies, a pained look on his face. He heads into the bathroom and disappears behind the door.

Carmen climbs out from under the covers and sits criss-cross-applesauce at the end of the bed. "So what do you think of them," she says loudly toward the bathroom. "As a couple, I mean?"

Enrique flushes the toilet, washes his hands, and reaches for his toothbrush and paste. "I think they're fine."

"Yeah, but did you see the way he looked at her when she came down the stairs? If you looked at me like that we'd have six more kids by now!"

"I still look at you that way …" Enrique insists.

"Eh …" she says, half-heartedly shrugging her shoulders and looking away, a mischievous expression on her face. She peeks back at him to see if he caught the rub.

Enrique chuckles a tiny bit, raising his eyebrows at her.

"It's young love, Carm."

"Young? They are almost as old as we are!"

Enrique, now brushing vigorously with a mouth full of toothpaste, shrugs his shoulders noncommittally. His back to her, they exchange glances in the bathroom mirror. They've been through this before. She used to need to dissect everything that went on after an evening of mixing with Muggles - which was her name for the unmarrieds. Since hitting forty, she only wants to hash it out over particularly interesting cases. Neither of them knows if this change in her is a case of losing steam, or losing interest, over the years, but no one's complaining.

Enrique just wants to get his bathroom routine completed and hit the sack.

He turns off the bathroom light and emerges from the bathroom, coming to sit on his side of the bed. Carmen crawls back to her side and tosses the pillows she'd lain against while reading, onto the floor. Climbing under the covers, she lays on her side, facing him, her head propped up by her hand. "Can you believe they've been working together for six years, and just now they're getting all - hot and heavy?"

"Maybe they've always had this … chemistry. What do we know?" says Enrique, lifting his legs and swiveling to get into bed.

"Man, who could take that much … electricity? I could't take it," she says, incredulous and shaking her head. "Man, six years …"

"Well," he says, getting under the covers and closing his eyes for a moment. "Some nuts are harder to crack than others. But if the prize is worth the effort …" he says, opening the eye closest to her, and noticing she's wearing the red nightie he loves. Actually, he'd noticed it the moment he walked into the bedroom, but he had business to tend to before he could do anything about it. He knows that she knows that wearing this nightie is like waving a red flag in front of a bull in a bullring.

"Yeah, but six years?" Noticing that he's noticed the nightie, she gives him a come hither look, lying back so he can take a good look.

"Hey, it took me three years to crack you," he says, scooting closer to her, turing on his side to face her, and putting his hand on the silky fabric covering her hip. He gives it a squeeze that is more like a whole-handed pinch. She leans forward again so they are face to face.

"What are you talking about? We dated 18 months before we got engaged. Married six months after that," she says, closing her eyes slowly, letting him nuzzle her neck. He runs his hand from her hip down to her thigh, then to the hem of the matador's cape, and back up that same thigh, under the nightie this time. When he gets to her waist, he emits an involuntary noise from his throat. Her waist and hips have always been like Viagra to him.

"Yeah, but that never would have happened," he says between kisses, and teasing nibbles, "if I hadn't laid three years of groundwork before that," he says with a chuckle into the hair behind her ear, as he gently runs his hand up and down her side, then back to rest on her ass. His warm breath on her skin makes her shiver involuntarily. She's been ready for this for quite a while.

"What?" she says, sounding sleepy. "Oh, now I get it … all those 'I was just at Ikea and thought I'd stop by' visits ..." she pauses, closing her eyes and laying back as he lifts the nightie up to her neck and covers her erect nipple with his mouth. "Ummm," she says, having lost her concentration for a moment "Mmmm," she sighs from somewhere below her throat, lifting herself up toward him while also scooting further down toward the foot of the bed. Finally, she's able to finish the sentence, and this is new information - so she's highly motivated to continue. "Okay, so all those 'drop-in' visits were a ruse to get in my pants?"

"Carmen, there was an Ikea three blocks from my old house," he says, lifting the red nightie over her head and tossing it in the direction of the floor. All obstacles overcome, he rubs his cheek across her other breast and takes a bite.

"That wasn't built until after we got married," she says, correcting him.

"Uh, actually, it was there. You just never saw it because I always drove you in the opposite direction ... so you wouldn't find out …" He leans back and smiles at her like the cat that ate the canary. When he leans back, she's fully exposed. He loves looking at her naked body. THis is the body that he's made love to for so many years. The body that bore him two healthy children. The body that, even now in her mid 40s, still gives him an erection that can pound nails.

"Well, you see?" she concludes, "That's why you're the scientist. You can work and work for long periods of time getting next to nothing. I, on the other hand, need results - like NOW!" She laughs.

He grins at her, not really hearing what she's saying. He's more interested in finding out about the results of his caresses on her circulatory system, the answer to which lies further down her gorgeous anatomy. But he knows he better listen and get this conversation over with, or there won't be any relief tonight.

"What you do takes commitment and stamina," she concludes, looking in his eyes.

"Come over here - I'll show you some stamina," he says, sliding his arm around her waist and pulling her to him as he starts to chew on her neck again, then works his way to her lips which he parts with is tongue and kisses her passionately.

She's quiet for a minute or two, eyes closed, enjoying the tingly feeling at the back of her neck, traveling down toward the base of her spine to meet an even more tingly sensation traveling from between her thighs northward. She puts her arms around his neck, and runs her fingers through his hair, breathing in the aroma of his shampoo and sweat.

"Did you see them on the couch - and her, clutching his tee shirt like that?" she says, exhaling a sigh. "I wish she could have seen that. I wish she could have been awake for that."

"Why …? If she'd been awake - it probably wouldn't have happened," he says stopping and looking at her, amazed that her brain still functions at this temperature.

"Because I really don't … " she pauses for a split second to throw her leg over his hip, pulling him even closer while trying to find the best way to describe this sentiment lodged in her chest. "I don't think she really has a grasp … on how much she means to him." She looks at her husband, and wants everyone to have what she has - a wonderful man to wrap their legs around. "Um, I think she feels that she … or that he's a lot more important to her than she is to him - and that's a new thing for her - as scary smart and as beautiful as she is." She pauses again, "Oh, what do I know?" she finishes, not wanting to betray any confidences.

"You think so, huh?" asks Enrique.

"Yeah, I do."

"Well you know what? That's their business, its not our business, and things will work out the way they'll work out. We don't need to be messin' around in their business … besides, I've got a transaction of my own I'd like to complete here."

"Enrique, I'm not messing - I'm just curious …"

He gives her the "Give me a break" look and a snort-like laugh. She gets the point and relents. He works his hand over a breast, down her ribcage, over her belly, and hits pay dirt below the magic triangle. Ever since he was a teen, and, because he worked at a RapidLube shop the summer between high school and college, he hasn't been able to get to past this point of foreplay without thinking about how much it's like using a dip stick to check the oil in a car. From there, his brain goes to thoughts of viscosity, or the degree to which her fluids facilitate that friction that makes him crazy. Luckily, that's where the science stops and raw desire wrapped around instinct takes over. As he's exploring, and enjoying the slipperiness of her arousal, he notices she's stopped talking. She's begun to move against his fingers in long slow strokes. God, I love doing this, he thinks, rolling over on top of her, moving her opposite leg over, giving him full access.

"Are the kids asleep?" she asks, breathless.

"Yeah," he rasps, docking, and putting his full weight on top of her.

"Did you lock the door?"

"Yep," he says against her lips, pushing his hips into hers.

She kisses him back, wrapping her legs around his, enjoying the feeling of fullness that comes with the first full penetration.

"I think he might even want to marry her someday," he says.

"Hmm. I'm not sure she's a big fan of marriage …"

"You didn't give her the bra-burning sexual inequality talk, did you?" He says, stopping all forward motion completely.

"Well," she says, "I shared some of my thoughts about our own experience, and she agreed with me, on principle. But I also told her a bunch of good stuff. About it all being worth while. Stuff we've learned together that make everything worthwhile."

"Oh," he says, forehead resting on her chest in resignation. He rolls off of her and onto his back. "This conversation is where boners go to die," he groans.

Seeing he's waning, she says, "Did you feel all that sexual energy zinging around the room all through dinner?"

"You'd have to be dead to miss it!"

"I wanted to grab you by your shirt and drag you back here to have my way with you," she coos lasciviously, leaning over him, burying her face in his neck, and biting him on the ear lobe.

"It's not like we haven't done that before …" he reminds her, with a happy grin and a raise of the eyebrow.

"Not with only two other people at the party …"

"I like small parties."

"You like VERY small parties …"

"I'm trying to have one right now," he says rolling her over onto of himself like a crocodile performing a death roll, except that now she's the crocodile.

"Well, I guess we better get rid of all this pent-up energy so we don't burst into flames in front of the kids tomorrow," she relents. "You sure you locked the door?"

"Yes."

Three minutes later, they are finally back to where they had left off a moment earlier, and they get interrupted by the pitter patter of little feet and the sound of the bedroom door being opened.

"You said you locked the door!"

"I lied."

"THIS is why we only have two children," she says.

Fortunately, all Anna sees is Mommy and Daddy in an affectionate embrace, the covers up to their arm pits.

"Anna, Sweetie," says Enrique, "I'll give you a hundred dollars if you'll turn around and go straight back to bed …"

Anna gives him an uncomprehending stare, rubs her eyes, and goes back through the bedroom door, closing it behind her. They aren't sure if she was awake or asleep. Carmen, biting on her lips during this entire exchange to keep from bursting out laughing, says, "I'm so glad I married you," as the crocodile rolls her to the bottom of the river, and has his way with her.
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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:42 pm

Chapter 63 And She's Buying a Stairway to Heaven

Booth stops in the hotel lobby on the way out the next morning and purchases two tall café mochas with shot of vanilla topped with a dollop of low fat cream on the way to the Larrinaga's house. In the SUV on the way to their house, he can't help but admire the beautiful dashboard display and the 8 speaker Bose sound system in his rented Steel Green Metal Chevy Suburban SUV 2WD 1500 LTZ with 326 horses under the hood. He cranks the tunes and catches Stairway to Heaven only 1/3 into the ballad.

"There's a feeling I get when I look to the west,

And my spirit is crying for leaving."

The song brings him back to 1983. It's the summer Pops takes him and Jared to live at his house on Mimosa Street. This song reminds him of a time of great confusion in his life. Pop's rescue, which is how Booth has come to call it, is an end to the tumultuous days and nights of never knowing what was going to happen next, never knowing when and what they will eat. It isn't that they can't afford food. Dad Just sometimes forgets to buy it. When he does buy it, sometimes he comes home with strange combinations of food. Doughnuts, shampoo, ketchup, Cheerios, Butter, canned beets, beef jerky, Doritoes, a gallon of OJ. Cigarettes. A case of Old Mil. A bottle of Johnny Walker Red. Dad walks into the house carrying the case of beer and smaller, brown paper-wrapped bottle. He tosses the car keys to Booth.

"We're having a guest for dinner, son, go on out to the car and bring in the groceries.." The guest, Both is well aware, is always Johnnie Walker. If it is Friday, payday Friday, Dad usually brings along Johnnie's best friend, "Beam, James Beam," Dad says, as if he's introducing "007" from Live and Let Die, his favorite Bond film. "That's the only one of the whole cotton-pickin' bunch that's got balls, son," he'd slurs after every single one of their monthly late night film viewings.

This is life before Pop's rescue later in July of that summer. July forward is filled with blue-sky days, base ball games, bingo down at St. Catherine's - Jared and Booth placing little red circles on Pop's cards even though they are too young to officially play. For dinner they have what Booth thought of before as old people food: Beanie Weenie casserole, tatertot hotdish, french toast and scrapple, lasagna, baked chicken and smashed potatoes, salad, VEGETABLES. They start drinking milk. Booth never knew how good milk tasted until he drank it out of a tall clean glass at Pop's house. He never knew a stomach could feel so good from drinking one thing. "A milk mustache is a sign of a healthy growing boy," pops tells him, ruffling his hair.

There is an afternoon that Booth thinks about now as he goes through an intersection three blocks away from the Larrinaga's house. It is a September afternoon in 1971. The first week of school. Booth and Jared are waiting on the steps at the front of the school - the one that reminds Booth of the school in D.C. Parker now attends. They wait for Pops to come pick them the other kids have left on the bus are been picked up by their folks.

Today, instead of Pops, it's Dad that comes around the corner. He drives up in his beat up old 1969 Aztec Aqua Torino with the velvet seats and the cigarette burns all over the carpet in the front.

Upon seeing that Torino, Booth recalls putting his arm around Jared and pulling him closer. Dad parks the car at the curb and walks toward the boys.

"Daddy!" screams Jared excitedly, running into his father's arms. Booth himself doesn't move from his spot on the steps. His eyes are steady, the eyes of a boy who has had many more birthdays than Seeley Booth.

"Dad," he says calmly, acknowledging him with a nod.

"Son, I've come to take you home."

"Pops will be here any moment. He'll be expecting to pick us up."

"Pops ain't commin' son. You're stuck with me."

Booth can't believe his ears. Can't believe Pops would abandon them like that. Then he's worried that something has happened to Pops. Maybe he had a "mass attack" like the old guy down the street last year who dies afterward in the hospital.

"What's wrong with Pops?" asks Booth.

"Nothin's wrong with your Pops. He just knows when it's time for a man to take up his 'sponsibilities and rear his own kids. A boy's place is with his father. And you belong with me," he explains. Pops said I could pick y'all up and take you back home with me."

Booth hanse't taken a step forward since Dad stopped at the curb. Jared had gone back to tossing pebbles into the grass beside the school steps.

"We like it at Pops' place, Dad," says Booth.

"Looks to me like your bother has a different opinion."

At this, Jared stops playing, the pebbles falling from his hands. He stands completely still.

"I gotta be with Seeley," little Jared says, as he watches, barely breathing, to see what will happen next. This scene and the tension in the air remind Jared of a gun fight scene in Pops' favorite spaghetti show, The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly. He swears he can hear the the whistling theme song float by on the breeze. He looks closely to see if Booth's and dad's fingers are poised, itching to grab their guns and be the first to fire a shot.

Booth, maintaining eye contact with his father, takes one step forward, putting himself ahead of Jared. Jared can no longer see his brother's face, but he knows this means business.

"We live with Pops now, Dad. We're staying with Pops."

Now a foot closer to his father, Booth can smell that Dad had a visit from Johnnie and Jim this afternoon. This gives him the courage to say what he has to say next.

"Dad. Dad, we love you …"

"I am your father. You belong to me."

"Dad, we love you. But we live with Pops now. And we need to stay with him."

"Little man, you do not have the right to talk to your father like that. I will tell you where you live. And I will tell you who you are."

Pops had made it clear to Booth that summer that he, Booth, is the only one to decide, all on his own, who he will be, no matter what his father says or does. Booth knows his father is wrong. He gains confidence from this and takes one step closer to his father.

"I decide who I am. And I live with Pops. Jared goes with me." He braces himself for his father's reaction.

Never to disappoint, Dad smacks Booth up the side of his head with his fist. Booth maintains his stance without flinching. A ringing hotness hangs off his head like a gallon of hot pancake batter. The pain travels down his neck; in front of his eyes appear tiny little sparks of light overlaying his vision.

His father stands in front of him, watching for a reaction, perhaps surprised that he has hit his son, once again … and in public. Luckily, no one is there to see it, his dad tells himself.

"I decide who I am. And I live with Pops. Jared goes with me," Booth says again, louder and more defiantly than the first time. He never touches his throbbing ear or blinks away the sparkles floating in the air in front of his eyes. He stares straight at his father, praying that there won't be another blow, but ready to stand his ground if there is.

His father walks backward three steps and sways a bit. An observer might think that the father was tho one who had been hit, not the son.

Once again, this time as a statement, a declaration, Booth shouts, "I DECIDE WHO I AM. I LIVE WITH POPS. JARED STAYS WITH ME."

His father doesn't move for a couple of long minutes. Then he nods at Booth, nods at Jared, and gets in his car. He squeals the tires as he speeds away. Booth drops to the cement steps and exhales the fear, the anger, and the disrespect that have lived inside his chest like a ton of volcanic ash for as long as he can remember. Jared sits next to him. Neither says a word.

Not two minutes later, Pops pulls up. Without saying a word, the boys climb into the car and Pops, never looking at either one, drives away.

Back at Pops' house, Jared climbs out of the car, just like ny other afternoon. Booth sits, unmoving, the full impact of what he has just done finally hitting him, a thunderous head and ear ache making themselves known and heard.

Pops, still sitting in the driver's seat, slowly turns the key in the ignition, and leaves it hanging in the steering column. Staring out the front windshield, Pops says to Booth, "Today, son, you became a man."

Pops sneaks a sideways glance at his grandson, disengages the car keys, and gets out of the car.

Booth sits alone for a moment. He allows several hot tears to drop onto his lap. Ten minutes later he joins Jared on the front porch for a game of marbles. Jared wins this time. But Booth knows that today they have both won.

"And she's buying a stairway… to heaven..."

◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊ CHAPTER BREAK ◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊


Chapter 64 I Taught I Taw a Putty Tat, I Did I Did Tee a Putty Tat


So enraptured by the music and his memories, Booth is startled when his cell phone vibrates in his pocket. He punches the volume knob on the Boze, not sure he's in the mood for Fat Bottom Girls anyway. If it had been We Are the Champions, he might have let the call roll over to voice mail. Queen can pull him out of a funk better than most of his favorite English rock bands.

Hearing Cyndi Lauper's lyrics and knowing it is Bones on the other end, Booth grabs the phone, twirls it with one hand, flips it open, and punches the TALK button gladly. Now, THIS is really what he needs to pull him back into the world of the living, he thinks, smiling at the irony.

"Booth," he answers, his smile traveling along the line with his voice.

"It's Bones."

"I know, the girl who just wants to have fun ..."

"Fun today would be examining some remains and catching a murder," she says. "I'm up and ready to go as soon as you get here. Have you eaten?"

"Nope – I was hoping Carmen would have some waffles waiting for me … yesterday's were dy-no-mite! You eaten yet?"

"Just coffee. I'm waiting for you. I thought we could pick something up on the way to the remains on campus, but … " she pauses, trying to read Carmen's lips while deciphering her pantomimed message. "It looks to me … like Carmen would be … very happy if … you were to come here and … have some waffles."

"Sounds good to me. I'm already on my way - "

"You okay, Booth? You sound a little … off."

"I'm fine. Happy for the interruption."

"What interruption?"

"The interruption of your phone call on my maudlin morning thoughts."

"Hmm. That's interesting. Any new developments I should know about?"

"Nope. Being at home tends to bring back memories for me."

"Some good, some not so good?"

"Yip."

"Kay. Tell me later?" she says, making a mental note to ask him what the funk was all about. Sometimes a mood can hang over a whole day, confusing her and sometimes causing friction between them. She has learned to address whatever seems to be going on in Booth's head when this happens. Simply acknowledging the cause and letting him tell her about it had an ameliorating affect on their interactions for the remainder of the day.

"Yip. I'm almost there."

"Booth," she says anxiously, "could you pick me up …"

" … A tall café mocha with a shot of vanilla and low fat cream?"

"Yes," she says gratefully, with a sigh.

"Nothing like AstroBrew's in the morning," he says, knowing she misses the chain's special blend if she doesn't get at least one hot cup of it before noon. "Already got it. See you in five."

Booth pulls into the Larrinaga driveway two minutes later, already in a better mood.

Tossing a defrosted bag of frozen peas on the kitchen counter, Booth hands Brennan her cup of AstroBrew, and pulls a bar stool away from the breakfast counter saying, "Thanks for the loan, Carmen."

Carmen looks at him like he must be certifiable. "Uh, we don't want those back, Seal" she says. "could you drop them in the garbage can for me? It under the sink …"

"Sure. Sorry. I owe you some frozen vegetables." He notices Brennan's quizzical look as this exchange takes place.

"Don't ask," he says, looking at her and then back to Carmen. "Where's my kitten this morning?" he says.

Anna peeks around the corner of the stairwell leading to her upstairs bedroom and gives him a sheepish grin. He gives her a wink and reaches out his arms. Anna crawls over to him on her hands and knees. Booth crouches down and picks her up, sitting her on his hip, her little dimpled legs straddling his waist.

"Prrrrrrrrrrrrrrr," she says. Booth scratches her under her chin and tousles her hair with his free hand. "What a sweet little kitten," he says. After a moment, he puts her back down and she goes running off to the living room where Dora the Explorer's theme song is playing.

Turning to Bones, who has been watching the whole cat interchange, he asks, "How'd you sleep?"

"I slept fantastically, though I had some abnormal dreams. I am usually a fairly formulaic dreamer, but last night … I don't know. Maybe it was the Crème Brûlée. I'm not used to having sweets that late in the evening."

"Hm. Interesting," says carmen. "I still have some left over if you;d like to have some for breakfast …"

"No, thanks Carmen - I'd rather get going to the college to examine the remains."

"But what about my waffles?" asks Booth, disappointed.

"I've got them heated, buttered, and covered in syrup, here in this Tupperware container for you. I had a feeling Temp was a slave driver," she says. "Here, you'll need a fork," she says handing one to him as he heads out the door behind Brennan."

"Thanks, Carmen. Where's Enri, by the way?"

"He leaves for the office around seven every morning," she says as Bones reaches back and pulls Booth's arm to get him out the door.

"Just cant wait to get me alone, huh?" he teases Bones once they are out of the house, approaching the SUV.

"Just can't wait to see what the remains have to say …" she answers, rolling her eyes.

Booth opens the Tupperware and demolishes the waffles in three stabs of his fork. "Nom, nom," he says, running back into the house and returning the empty container to Carmen.

"Right after you called," began Booth as he backed out of the driveway and put the SUV in reverse, "I received a call from Officer Ronald Benton. He's pulled together all the cases of missing twenty to twenty-five-year-old females within the past ten years. He'll go back further than that, though he says anything prior to 2000 would be unlikely because that land was cleared of trees in 1999. That was when they last expanded the science wing and laid sod over the surrounding acre to be used as a social and event venue."

"Okay. What time does Wendell get in?" she asks.

"His flight arrives at 10 AM. Officer Bendel will be picking him up and bringing him to the site."

"I thought you said his name was Benton," says Brennan, confused.

"Whatever. Any news from Hodgens?"

"There was a text saying he has uploaded several potential scenarios under which the bones could have been cleaned, if indeed that is what has happened."

"What are the options?" asks Booth, looking back and forth from the road to Brennan, back to the road. It is good to be working a case, he thinks to himself.

"I'd prefer not to review his findings until I've examined the remains myself. I don't like my first view of the skeleton to be influenced by conjecture. Even if the conjecture is based upon sound reasoning."

"I should have known," Booth says. "Anything else?"

"He also requested that the Philadelphia Science Center not remove the core soil samples from the crime scene until Wendell has looked them over. He doesn't trust anyone else's work."

"He thinks Wendell's that good already?"

"No. I didn't say that. I said he doesn't trust anyone else's work. Even Wendell's, if he can help it. But at least Wendell, he can hold accountable."

"Right. Hm."

"What about you, anything else from the locals?" Brennan asks.

"I've had Bernstein .."

"Benton …"

"Benton, right," says Booth, not really caring what the pleeb's name is. "I've had Benton call all facilities in Pennsylvania and within 100 miles of its borders. He's checked about fifteen so far including Drexel University College of Medicine, Jefferson Medical College of Thomas Jefferson University, Raymond & Ruth Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Penn State Hershey Medical Center and Penn State College of Medicine … the list goes on. He's also got his people calling all hospitals and mortuaries. So far no one is missing a skeleton, clean or otherwise."

Listening intently to Booth's report, Brennan catalogues it all in her brain. "Hmm," is the only sound she makes. "What about cemeteries? Back in the 1800's there was a shortage of cadavers. Well, actually there was a boom in medical schools and no increase in the death rate, so medical schools actually paid people to dig up graves and purloin remains. Maybe someone dug this woman up, used her for study, cleaned the bones, and dumped here here."

"Bones, you have to see these remains," Booth says, looking at her while stopped at a light. "Those remains were laid out perfectly. This was no dump. Either she was laid there and her … soft materials just … disappeared, or … someone placed them there very carefully. I don't know much about bones and how they hang together - but these looked like everything was exactly where it was supposed to be."

"Interesting. I find that I am very much looking forward to seeing this for myself."

Booth shrugs his shoulders and nods his head, putting his foot on the gas as the light turns green. Bones' attention has already turned to something else inside her head. "How close are we?" she asks.

"It's just around the next corner," he says.

"So, are you going to tell me or do I have to ask?" she finally says.

"What? There's nothing else to tell at this point. Until we hear back from Benton." Booth flips open his phone and gets Benton on the line.

"Any updates since we talked fifteen minutes ago?"

Brennan hears a scratchy little voice on the other end of the line.

"Good work, Berstein. Another job for you and your men. See if there have been any reports of grave robbing in the last ten years."

Buzz, buzz, buzz.

"Yep. It is a possibility, gruesome as that may sound," says Booth, snapping his phone closed.

"So?"

"So. He's going to have his guys check into it."

"Is this another one of those guy things? You know his name, but insist on saying it wrong to assert your rank or power over him?"

"Maybe," he says, a sly grin on his face - but she can only see half of it because he's not looking at her.

"So ….?"

"What? You keep saying SO …"

"So," she begins and then pauses for dramatic effect. "Are you going to tell me how I got into my pajamas last night or are you going to make me ask?"

"Wow, look at that. Here we are!" he says, pulling up to the building and jumping out of the car.

◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊ CHAPTER BREAK ◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊


Chapter 65 May I Please Continue?


Brennan had researched the College before lunch the previous day and can now see that the website's description of Haverford was quite accurate. Haverford College is situated on over two hundred acres of lush vegetation, mature trees, and a beautiful nature trail that provides a tour of the entire compound, including the award-winning architecture and landscaping. According to the on-line brochure, "the campus itself is a nationally recognized arboretum, with more than 400 species of trees and shrubs, a 3.5-acre duck pond, multiple gardens, and wooded areas." One hundred and seventy-eight years old, it was started by the Quakers in 1833.

Larrinaga's office is located in Sharpless Hall, though much of his work is conducted out of the Strawbridge Memorial Observatory. The new Stevens Morris Nguyen Center, which will eventually house the School of Physics and Astronomy, is being built near the observatory, tucked into a generous semi circle of coniferous trees. On the interior perimeter of the semicircle of conifers is where the ground breaking ceremony took place the previous day. This is where Brennan and Booth are headed this morning.

Into the compound, they'd taken College Lane which is lined on the right by the duck pond and on the left by medium-sized cottages inhabited mostly by professors and their families.

College Lane turns left into Coursey Road which then turns right, passing a parking lot on the left, then turns right again, into Walton Road. At almost the end of Walton sits the observatory on the left, behind which is the site for the new building.

As Brennan sits in the car, she watches the back of Booth as he heads across the lawn toward Strawbridge Memorial Observatory. She is perplexed about his abrupt behavior. Something fairly powerful is in charge of his mood this morning, she surmises, because clearly Booth is not. "Before this goes any further," she announces to the dashboard and any other inanimate objects inside the vehicle, "I think we better get to the bottom of this."

Brennan opens the SUV door and has only one foot on the ground when she notices Booth has stopped in his tracks. She watches as he waits a moment, drops his head, turns on his heal, and returns to the car. When he reaches it, he goes to the cargo area in the back and opens the hatch.

"Glad you came back, Booth," says Brennan quietly. "I need some help getting my equipment to the site of the remains." She says this without rancor, without sarcasm. If something is bothering him this much, she knows from experience, now is not the time to play games.

"Be open. Be compassionate. Be nonjudgmental. Be attentive. Give him room to figure out how to say what he wants to say." That's what Sweets has been advising her when it comes to Booth's moods.

"Okay …"

"If at all possible, rather than looking in or at his face, stand next to him or near him looking elsewhere, perhaps doing something that gives the impression you are not prying, not focusing too much on him. This will give him the privacy to gather his thoughts without having to worry about what his face might reveal. Males don't like getting caught displaying intense emotion. Allow him that and he'll open up more readily."

"I forget we're animals just like all other primates. This is fascinating, and predictable once you put it in that context."

"Men have just as many emotions as women - they just rarely talk about them because they, emotions, have been categorized as feminine. It's a pervasive belief entrenched in our society. And it's totally bogus. The deck of emotions is stacked against men from the moment they spring from the womb. It's unfortunate, but true."

"It's ridiculous. Life would be much easier if neither of the sexes were influenced by their emotions," she recalls having said to Sweets.

"Yes," he conceded. "Easier, and a whole lot less enjoyable, powerful, satisfying, purposeful. I think you can agree it is a worthwhile trade-off, Dr. Brennan."

"But a lot more complicated," she had said.

"You do realize, Dr. Brennan, that without emotion there could be no love?"

"Dr. Sweets," she had countered, "I am not saying that I would prefer a life without emotion. Quite the contrary. It is just that I find emotions in others difficult to interpret. In all honesty - I frequently find my own emotions difficult to name."

"Admitting you have a problem is the first step to recovery..."

"I didn't say I have a problem."

"As your therapist," he'd said to her gently though directly, "your trusted confidante who is committed to your personal growth and success, I declare that your inability to decipher both your own emotions and those of others … has made relationships … challenging."

"Agreed. Lets move on..."

"Is this the closest we can get to the site of the remains?" she asks Booth, just making conversation as she reaches into the SUV and grabs her gum shoes.

"Well, it's just on the other side of this domed building," he says, pointing directly ahead. She can see the large area cordoned off by the yellow crime scene tape beyond and partially obscured by the observatory. But again, she had just been making conversation.

"So … " she begins.

"Let's just focus on getting our gear over there …" Booth interrupts, clearly avoiding something.

"Booth," she starts again, sitting down on the edge of the SUV to put on her boots. "It's going to take me a couple of minutes to be ready. Can we talk for a minute? You seem … agitated."

Booth takes a big breath in, his diaphragm rising and then falling on the exhale, which is accompanied by a sound indicating something akin to agitation and resignation at the same time. He has not been looking forward to discussing the whole pajama … topic. After leaving the Larrinaga's last night he mulled over his decision to do what he had done. He wasn't so sure he had made the right one. The fact is, he had been trying to prolong just being with her. Holding her as she slept in his arms on the couch had been so comfortable. It had been more than comfortable. It had felt … RIGHT. There had to be a better word for that feeling - but he couldn't come up with one.

With her in his arms, as he sat chatting with a friend, after a wonderful evening of laughter, camaraderie and relaxation together - how do you put that into words? This is how he always imagined his life would be … shared this way … with someone he couldn't imagine ever saying goodbye to.

Her body, the way she clutched at his tee shirt, leaned into his shoulder and chest, allowed him to rest his hand on her hip, seemed to be saying, "I belong here. And no where else. I am happy, content, and safe. I can sleep, knowing you are taking care of me. All is right in the world, as long as I am in your arms." It had been a heady feeling for Booth. Made even more intense by his knowledge that Bones submits her care and protection to no one. She is the most courageous and self-sufficient woman he's ever seen. Yet, hasn't she been allowing him to protect her for years? Funny - he has put his life in her hands many times, and not just in the field. His life and his heart. Last night, he just hadn't wanted it to be over. As long as she was asleep he could pretend he lived in that dream. But it wasn't a dream, and he would have to account for his actions eventually. Until he does, he wants to savor the experience. Talking about it will take all the romance out of it for him, he's absolutely certain.

"When we talked on the phone this morning you said there was soothing that had put you in a maudlin mood. That's the word you used, "maudlin," she reminds him. "As in self-pityingly or tearfully sentimental. I find I am concerned. You can tell me now … if you want to."

Booth purses his lips and looks at her as she makes that face she always makes when she's leaning back and pulling on her long gum boots. She isn't looking at him, she's concentrating on the task at hand. "I find it so cool that you remembered that. Thank you for asking," he says as he sends her a gentle, almost sheepish smile.

Brennan looks up and smiles, knowing that this is truly a compliment. She's been working on increasing her awareness of the … sensitivities … of others.

"I've told you a little about my childhood here in Philadelphia," he begins.

Bones nods, leans back to pull on the other boot, then sits up, leans forward and settles back against the interior wall of the SUV. She looks at him. It's the right time to do that, because he's ready to talk, and he likes eye contact when he's at this point.

"On my way here I was cranking the tunes, listening to my favorite old R&R station …"

"I will assume you mean 'Rock and Roll,' not 'Rest and Relaxation," she says.

Booth nods, continuing, "Being on these streets, smelling the Philly air. It's a mixture of heat and grit, sweat and humanity. The taste of wet metal and history in your mouth. Residue from years of street vending activity, food wrappings long ago washed into the drainage system. You know - the smells of home."

"I've never heard you being so nostalgic, Booth. This was an important place for you?"

"Very important. This is where I … became a lot of who I am , I guess you could say," says Booth, sitting down across from her, one foot still on the ground. He gets up abruptly and disappears around the side of the SUV. She hears him open and close the driver's side car door. When he comes back, he sits down again, just like before, and hands her what's left of her tall café mocha with a shot of vanilla and low fat cream.

"On the way to pick you up this morning, Stairway to Heaven came on the radio."

"Led Zeppelin."

"Yeah, how'd you know?"

"There's a singer named Robert Plant

"Bones, ROBERT PLANT isn't just any singer!"

"So I gathered by the expression on your face when I said his name," says Brennan. "Anyway, his father was a prolific anthropologist back in the '60s and '70s. I saw him lecture once. Dynamic speaker. A bit unfocused, but fascinating. I asked him about the substantiating proof for his theory regarding the liminal period in religious marriage ceremonies during the eleventh and twelfth centuries."

"Interesting."

"Yes. He said Stairway to Heaven was the inspiration for his research in that area. He played the song five times during his presentation. It was … interesting."

"Wow. There was actually a point to that story."

"A relevant one. The point is, I am familiar with the song, Stairway to Heaven. Too familiar," she finishes, noticing the look of incredulity on his face.

Booth pauses, just looking at her for a minute. "May I continue?" he asks.

◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊ CHAPTER BREAK ◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊


Chapter 66 I Like You Just The Way You Are


"I had no idea you were so young when Pops took you in." This is the first thing she's spoken in over twenty minutes as he had recounted his memories from this morning. She had sat quietly, moving only to raise the coffee cup from it's resting spot on her lap to her lips and back.

"Yeah, so from then on we stayed with Pops," said Booth with a heavy sigh. "We never went back. Pops didn't want to see a reenactment of what he'd witnessed at the front of the school that day. He and Dad had exchanged words that morning, apparently. As a result, Pops agreed to let Dad go to the school and let us decide what we wanted to do. Pops made Dad promise he'd respect whatever we said."

Bones puts down her empty coffee cup and reaches out her hand, placing it on his shoulder like a cheerleader in a dance line.

"So Pops saw it all?"

"Yep. I didn't know until years later. Said he allowed my Dad to come to the school because it was important for me to take that stand. Said if he'd made the decision for us, it would have be like cutting open a cocoon to help a butterfly get born. The wings would never get strong enough to fly."

"You Booth men are a poetic bunch," she says, squeezing his shoulder, and smiling sideways at her partner.

"Somehow he knew I could do it. I don't know how he could have know that," Booth says, shaking his head and looking at the ground. "I was only eight! Younger than Parker. Would he be able to do what I did at his age?"

"Parker doesn't have to."

"Of course not, but would he be strong enough to do it if he had to?"

"Parker doesn't have to because he has you as his father. You are a completely different kind of man."

"Sometimes my anger scares me - you've seen it. It's not right," he says, looking at her as if he's just asked a question.

"Booth, all men are built with the capacity to do great harm. Anthropologically speaking, that capacity is necessary for the survival of the species. Since before the first Upper Paleolithic Cro-Magnon man , or even the first Neanderthal of the Middle Paleolithic, picked up a stone and used it as a tool," she said, attempting to be as accurate as possible without Booth's eyes glazing over.

"For a very, very long time," she says, "the male of the species has had to defend, hunt, and compete - or become extinct,"she explains. "Could the females of the species do it? Certainly, if they had to. But it would severely limit the population's growth, and therefore it's survival," she continues. "What's important, Booth, is what a man chooses to do with it." She pauses, slides her arm the rest of the way around his shoulders and squeezes, the side of her rib cage a half inch away from pressing into his arm, her breast pressed against his shoulder. "I learned that from you," she says, an empathetic expression on her face. "And Parker has too. Believe me, he has the fortitude to make good choices in tough situations."

"You think so?"

"I know so. Like I said, he learned it from you."

"Anyway, that's what all came flooding back to me when I listened to that song," says Booth. "It just kinda hit me. Boom. There it was."

"I'm glad I called at that exact moment," Bones says, releasing him from her squeeze and picking her coffee cup back up, but not moving any further away from him.

"Me too," he smiles, putting the arm that's stuck between them behind her and leaning back a little. "Its okay. Its over. Part of my past. Made me who I am," he smiles, now ready to get on with their day, but in no hurry to move away from her.

"We've got a big case ahead of us," he finally says. "Shall we go look at some bones?"

Bones drinks what's left at the bottom of her coffee cup and looks for somewhere to put it. She spies his cup in his hand and he hands it to her. She puts one cup inside the other, folding the caps in half and shoving them into the top cup.

"Well, I am glad it happened the way it did," she says after a moment, looking back at him now, not yet ready to be done with this conversation - even if there are bones waiting for her.

"How can you be glad an 8-year-old kid got his Dad's fist across his face?" Booth leans away from her the beginnings of a scowl on his face.

"For exactly the reason you just stated," she says, still looking back, though their faces are only about eight inches apart. "Because it made you who you are. Seeley. Joseph. Booth. My friend. And much more. And I wouldn't change a thing."

"You wouldn't?" he says a little surprised by her absolute statement.

"I wouldn't."

"Even … "

"Even that … " she says, cutting him off. "whatever you can come up with. I wouldn't change it. Even the things you do that make me want to throw …"

"I got the picture. Better stop while you're ahead."

"Thanks for saving me," she chuckles. "I wasn't sure how I was going to end that sentence … "

"Your welcome," says Booth, smiling back at her.

" … in fewer than a hundred words," she says, smirking just a little, and winks at him when he starts to protest.

"You ARE getting good at the winking," Booth compliments her, his voice a little softer than he'd expected. "The timing was perfect. The smile was good," He continues, reaching over and tucking a loose hair behind the ear furthest from him.

"The curl your toes kind of good?" she asks, though she wants to say, "please, please, please kiss me or I just might pass out.

"And then some," he says, looking into her eyes and feeling … impulsive, but not stupid enough to make his move until he hears some kind of declaration, showing she's ready to go forward. DANG YOU, GORDON!

"We better get over there," he says, breaking eye contact and regaining his voice, masking the fact that a moment longer sitting like that, and he'd have taken her by the back of her neck, pulled her closer, and showed her what her winking finness really did for him.

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Chapter 67 A Note to Myself

Taking an inventory of everything she'll need at the site, Bones hands Booth her bag of tools and a folding table, and sends him toward the crime scene.

"Don't you want me to show you where it is?"

"I'm fairly certain it will be somewhere inside the police tape and most likely next to a pile of freshly dug-up dirt. If there are several of those, I will assume the hole you are standing next to is our target," she says to him, not looking at him

This is ridiculous, she thinks to herself. This tension is distracting. How am I going to get any work done? I have GOT to find out what the deal is with Hannah so I don't make a fool of myself and screw up our partnership. If they are reuniting and I jump Booth … which I am about to do any minute … what then? WHAT THEN?

Based on the look in his eyes and the change in his voice, I am certain he is struggling not to get sucked into this vortex of sexually charged magnetic attraction - just as I am. I am stronger than he is in this area. I am an expert at compartmentalizing. The subject of Booth and Bones and our romantic future is now in a box - and hidden on a back shelf, until I can take it out and look at all the information. Make an informed choice about what I want to do next.

"Okay," he says, looking at her for a moment and realizing she's in the zone and can't be reasoned with. He takes off on the same path he had walked thirty-five minutes ago when he shot out of the SUV to avoid having to talk about the pajama ordeal. Put all of this out of your mind and focus. We are now working a case. This is no time to be in a fog. And stop thinking about her lips, her foot note, her panties printed with "If this whole "Anthropologist" thing doesn't work out, I can always fall back on my modeling career."

Brennan gathers her remaining equipment and follows the path Booth had walked moments before. The site was exactly as he'd described it to her yesterday on the phone. The dimensions, the gigantic yellow equipment, the half-dug trench. Approaching the polices car that someone had driven onto the lawn and up to the site, she places her equipment on the folding table Booth had set up for her. She opens what looks like a hard-sided suit case and surveys her supplies.

"Bones, I'd like you to meet Officer Ronald Benton," he says, over-pronouncing every syllable to show Bones that he DOES know the guy's name. "Officer Benton, this here's Dr. Temperance Brennan of the Jeffersonian Institution in Washington, D.C. Dr. Brennan is the top forensic anthropologist in the nation …"

"Actually, in the world," corrects Brennan.

" … and she's been brought here to assist in this case."

"To solve this case, probably nearly single-handedly." she says, looking at Booth. "Why are you saying it that way, Booth?"

"Can I have a word with you privately, Bones?" he takes her arm and moves her toward the hole containing the remains.

"Booth, this IS our case, isn't it? Tell me you didn't fly me out here for nothing," she says, with a warning expression. "THis isn't just because you like Enri Larrinaga and you want to protect him in some way?"

"Bones, it's not exactly our case yet. Remember I told you I got pulled of my flight?" He asks as she begins pulling off-white latex gloves onto her hands. "The Men in Black are the whales at the top of this food chain and they really call all the shots."

"Booth," she says, clearly irritated, pulling off her gloves and slapping them onto the folding table. "I do not work this way. I will not conduct an investigation into the cause of death for this poor girl only to have it swept under the rug because some millionaire alumnus paid off the Philadelphia police force to keep it quiet!"

"I agree, Bones. Just hear me out. Right now all they want is an identification on these remains. They want to control the story that gets out. Damage to this school's reputation could have severe repercussions for the future of the school."

"Since when are you the defender of private schools who provide advanced babysitting services for a bunch of rich people's kids?"

"Hey, now that's not fair. Enri is not a babysitter … he's an astrophysicist and a professor who, I am sure, does great work. I just don;t want to see him take a hit for something that could have nothing to do with Haverford College - or Enri's work."

"If I work this case - I will do whatever I need to do to get to the truth. Even if that means pointing the finger at your friend, Enri. And I will not hide any information - or 'sweep it under a rug' as you so eloquently put it. And here's another thing, Booth, I am not some cheap facial recognition software. I do not just IDENTIFY who the remains belong to, I uncover how they got to be remains in the first place. There is a killer out there. And he, or she, needs to be stopped and brought to justice before he, or she, kills anyone else."

"Great - now just find me a reason to declare this case under FBI jurisdiction - then you can figure out whatever you want about the cause of death, the color of her hair, what kind of sports she was good at, and what her favorite childhood pet was named."

"I can't just MAKE bones provide the information I want. I have to go through a process - with the proper channels. And I need full cooperation from the Philadelphia PD to get that accomplished. And the evidence has to support a jurisdictional change."

"Just work with me here, Bones. Find me something that can get us this case. Our way. Then we can prove whatever … we can prove … and we can put away whoever committed this crime."

"Fine, Booth. I will do what I can. But since we're kind of negotiating here, there's something else I want to know from you."

"Shoot - give it your best shot. What do you need?"

"I want to talk about a couple things having to do with us personally. There's something funky going on … between us … and I want to know what is going on with you. With us. It seems like you are on the verge of kissing me one minute, and the next you are taking off down the path and I have no idea what to think."

"Wow, Bones," Booth says, taken aback that she'd just laid it out there like that. "Um, okay - but can it wait until we at least get an ID on this case? Does it have to be right now?" He's sweating a bit, keeping the panic from his voice as best he can. Why does she have to knock me off kilter like this? And is this it? Are we going to have THE conversation right here, right now? Are we ready? Am I ready? This isn't how I wanted this to go … and what if it goes badly?

"It can wait - but not forever, Booth. I need to concentrate and I cannot do that with you getting a mushy on me overtime I say something nice …"

"Bones, what is UP? Why are you talking this way? We have been having a good time, and all of a sudden, I feel like I don't know what's going on. Are you angry with me?"

"No, I'm not angry with you. Well, maybe I am, a little. I don't know! But this … tension … between us is screwing with my concentration. And I can't have that while I'm working on a case. SO I need to deal with it. With you."

"Do you want to have a fist fight? A screaming match? Do you want to go screw behind the bleachers? I don't know what you want. Help me out here," finishes Booth, clearly agitated at this point.

Bones lets out a huge sigh and drops her forehead into her hand. Without looking up, she says, "Booth, I just need to set our … stuff … aside and focus on the work in front of us. And I want to know that we are going to talk about our relationship for once and for all."

Booth isn't sure where to go from here. He paces a bit, hands on his hips. Confused. Nervous. Clearly he's done something wrong, but he can't figure out what. Maybe she doesn't know either. That is the disadvantage of being in a relationship with a woman who con't figure out her own behavior and feelings, let alone anyone else's.

"Bones, you're kind of scaring me here. Have I done something wrong? Do you not want to work this case with me? Is there something I need to know about that you are not telling me?"

Yes, she thinks, actually there is. I want to know what the $*! is going on between you and Hannah I want to know how whatever that is might affect our relationship. And I want to stop feeling out of control around you. And I want you to either kiss me so hard I can feel it in my toes, or to STOP looking at me with those I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off eyes. And I want to stop WANTING you to look at me with those I-want-to-rip-your-clothes-off eyes.

"Booth," she says, finally resigned, after the shouting in her head stops, "Right now, I just want us to do our job …"
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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:49 pm

Chapter 68 I Need A Drink!

"I need a drink," says Booth, under his breath, and to no one in particular, as he walks past Officer Benton.

"I don't know about in D.C., sir, but we usually wait until about noon to start drinking here in Philly," Officer Benton says.

"Nobody asked you!" says Booth, without even stopping. When he reaches the observatory he goes inside and finds himself alone in a three story room. In the center of this room is an enormous cylindrical piece of equipment reaching almost all the way to the domed ceiling The room is actually round, with several doors leading who knows where. Except for where the doors are, the walls, - actually, its only one wall because it's round - are covered in shelves. Most shelves hold books and papers. Some groups of books have identical covers, with gold engraving on the spines. Some shelves hold dusty metal equipment - some whose use is apparent, others that are either missing parts or are just not identifiable, for Booth anyway.

Booth smirks, thinking Bones probably has no idea what most of this junk is either.

Bones. Bones. What is he going to do with Bones? Why does she have to be so - blech - Infuriating? Impatient? She is clearly, clearly, not ready for this, but she wants to bring it on.

What had Gordon Gordon said? "Wait for the declaration - make sure she's ready to fully commit. If you want her for the distance, my dear boy, she has to relate to you as a man, as a person, as a partner … as a lover, Agent Booth. You are not a toy, or a collection of bones, or a novel. You cannot be compartmentalized and put on a shelf. You are a human being. A living, breathing, caring, giving, feeling man … who wants to share his life with her."

"The most important things in life do not fit into a box," he'd continued. "If your Dr. Brennan is to be able to fully commit … FULLY COMMIT," he had said, making an upturned fist and thrusting it toward Booth's chest as if he were stabbing him in the heart with a dagger. "If you want this woman, this brilliant, frightened woman, to fully commit, she has to CHOOSE to live out here where there are no boxes. She has to discover, for herself, that what is possible, what is extraordinary … is out here." He emphasized this last point by putting his hand on Booth's shoulder and maintaining full-on eye contact for longer than most people are comfortable with. Booth had let out a deep sigh and nodded.

"Okay," he said. "Okay."

"If YOU want that for HER, I'm afraid you're going to have to allow her to punch her own way out of that box. You cannot do it for her, old boy." Gordon had given booth an encouraging and confident smile.

"It will be difficult," he said, "But …. I do believe you could be the man for the job." He'd paused then. "If you really want it," he said as if to insinuate that there are others out there who could do the job, it didn't have to be him. Gordon had a way of helping a person commit by making sure they new they didn't have to. It always appealed to Booth's sense of responsibility, pride. Booth WANTED to be the man for this job. Gordon knew that. He wanted to make sure Booth did too.

"I never said it would be easy, Agent Booth," Gordon Gordon had said as he'd shown Booth to the door.

"The best things never are," answered Booth, with a small grimace, then a smile. "Thanks." He left Gordon's house and went home and listened to "You're My Best Friend" off Queen's Live Killers album. It had become his unofficial song for him and Bones, though he hadn't told her that. After that he'd rocked out on his air guitar to the entire "Dazed and Confused" album by Led Zeppelin.

"AAGHHHHHHHHH!" Booth gives out a little scream of frustration, wishing he could punch something, but everything in here is metal. And from the looks of it, possibly really expensive.

Hearing a knock at one of the doors, Booth quickly makes a fist and puts it up to his mouth, faking a couple coughs. It's Officer Benton.

"Sir, Dr. Brennan is asking for you. She wants you to bring your car around and onto the lawn," he relays, leaning into the room and looking around with awe. "Hey, I used to want to be an astronomer - would you look at the size of that …."

"Thank you, Benton," interrupts Booth. "Tell her I'll be right out."

"Agent Booth, if you're comfortable giving me the keys, I can move the car for you. Dr. Brennan seems a little excited. I think she wants to see you right away."

"Fine," says Booth, tossing the keys to Benton.

Benton doesn't move, as if he wants to escort Booth back to Brennan. "She must have intimidated him," thinks Booth. "I'll bet he's afraid of returning without having delivered the car AND the FBI agent!"

"Go!," he shouts at Benton, who ducks out the door. letting it slam behind him.

Booth thinks to himself for a while, then heads toward the same door Benton disappeared through a moment ago. "I gotta make this work," he says to himself.

As he approaches the hole in the ground, he doesn't see anything at first. He knows this is because Bones is suited up in her blue Jeffersonian Institution jumpsuit and is crouching down, intently examining the bones.

"Benton's getting the SUV. What have we got?" He peers down into the hole and finds Bones just as he'd imagined she would be. At the far end, the same end where he himself had entered the hole just yesterday, he sees a metal painter's ladder extending down to the bottom of the hole and placed, it appears, exactly where Booth's footprints had once been. Bones was very serious about not disturbing any potential evidence. Surrounding the hole at ground level are four tarps, one covering each side of the hole and extending about five feet out from the hole. This is where she will place anything she bags to send back to the lab. It also protects the ground from being compromised. Nothing gets added to the surrounding soil, nothing gets unwittingly carried away by curious shoes.

"Well, I concur with Wendell's assessment that the victim is a Caucasian woman between the ages of twenty to … I'd say … thirty years of age. Never given birth. Approximate height: 165.1 centimeters."

"In American?" says Booth.

"Five feet, five inches tall. Some remodeling, though not within the five years prior to her death."

"Okay, okay," says Booth, jotting notes down in his little notebook.

"But here's where it gets interesting," Bones says, pointing toward the upper body. "See here? The clavicle, humerus, radius and ulna," she says, pointing a gloved finger at the shoulder, the upper arm, and the two forearm bones. "These bones, on both the left and the right, show indicators that this woman was an athlete. See the color and size?"

"Color and size mean nothing to me, Bones."

"She was a … very healthy woman. However," she says, raising her eyebrows, "Look at this," she says, swiveling her body so she is now facing the lower half of the skeleton. She points to the thigh bone, then the larger of the two shin bones, saying, "The femur and the tibia, in both legs, tell a different story altogether." Bones looks up at Booth who is now crouching on the tarp lining the opening of the hole.

Booth looks down at Bones, shakes his head, shrugs his shoulders and waves his hands to each side, palms up. Bones knows this means, "I have absolutely no idea what the significance of what you just told me is."

"These four bones show evidence of osteoarthritis. Somewhat advanced, I'd say. She may have even been in a wheel chair."

"So what does that mean to us … we're looking for an ex-athlete who was in a wheel chair before she died? Or maybe she wasn't an athlete. Maybe she was overweight. Lifting herself into and out of a wheelchair, then rolling herself around all day every day - could that give her healthy upper body bones, Bones? Did you catch that - I said, 'bones, Bones! Heh."

"Now that," says Bones, ignoring Booth's little joke. "is a reasonable theory. And now, how hard can it be to identify a woman who died five years ago - by the way, the bones appear to have been placed in this grave within days of her death. In other words, and we will have to confirm this back at the lab, but it appears that she was interred soon after having died. It is unlikely that she was a corpse stolen from a graveyard. This was a fresh kill followed by almost immediate interment."

"You were saying, 'how hard can it be to find a woman who dies five years ago …' and what?"

" … Had great upper body strength, and osteoarthritis in her legs, possibly rendering her wheelchair-bound?"

"And," added Booth, "who may have been quite overweight."

"Correct," says Bones, smiling up at Booth. "Now we have something to go on."

"Great - I'll get right on that," says Booth, standing up and dusting off his jeans, though there was no need because of the tarp. Must be a habit from being at way too many crime scenes.

"Just a minute," she says. "There are a couple things I need."

"Per usual, Bones. What do you need?" he says, opening his notebook up and flipping to a blank page.

"I need three 28-inch Samsonite Winfield Hardside Spinner suit cases with their interiors cleared of all belts, buckles, pouches, and zippers. Have Benton get someone to go get those," she said, a master delegator. "I also need 45 pounds of medium weight modeling clay. Get the pink kind …"

"Why, because it's prettier? Bones, the dead girl won't know the difference …"

"No, because the pink kind is the most malleable. It also sets the quickest. I will also need three to four rolls of heavy duty plastic - the wider the sheets the better. Like saran wrap. As a matter of fact - saran wrap would be perfect! Best place to find that will be at the college cafeteria. See if you can get one of those huge rolls of it."

"Got it. Anything else?"

"Yes, I will need a lettuce leaf salad with some kind of fruit, preferably raspberries or strawberries, tomatoes, sliced mushrooms, shredded asiago cheese - in a light vinaigrette … and a diet Coke. Lots of ice."

"Right. Anything else?"

"Yes, get something for yourself as well. It is going to be a very long day," Bones says happily. "Oh! And Wendell should be here by lunchtime. Maybe pick something up for him as well …"

"Wha?" says Booth, feeling like a waitress all of a sudden, but actually more relieved than anything. This is what he and Bones do incredibly well as a team - connect pieces of unsolvable puzzles and catch the bad guys. Booth starts to walk away.

"Booth, wait!" shouts Bones. "Can you help me get up out of here?" She stands up and carefully walks back toward the ladder, careful to use her previous footprints as a guide. Once she reaches the top, he takes her hand so she can step off the ladder without knocking it over or falling back into the hole.

"Thanks," she says, giving him a big smile. Not quite warm enough to make Bones relax after this morning's discussion, but he'll take it.

"Do we have the dental records of the women Benton identified as having gone missing from five to fifteen years ago?"

"We have from five to ten years right now."

"That's a start," she says, choosing four vials, a small bowl, and a knife from her case. Carefully shaking the silicone-polymer base component from the first vial into the bowl, she then adds a vinyl polymethylsiloxane cross linking agent, water, and finally, an elemental metal catalyst. These three materials, when mixed together, create a dental cement that will reproduce almost perfect impressions of bones, teeth, footprints. Bones likes to use Polyvinylsiloxane because it cures quickly, captures detail, releases quickly, and doesn't produce an offensive odor.

"After I mix this - it should only take a couple minutes - I'm going back down into the hole and I'll need you to hand this to me."

"Is it toxic? Do I need gloves?"

"Not toxic. Don't need gloves, but it does set rather quickly, so once it's mixed we have to get me into the hole and up to the skull to make casts of the teeth."

"Whatever you say, boss," he says, calling Benton over.

"This is a list of our demands ..." he begins, joking.

Benton, used to Booth's stern interactions with him so far, looks alarmed.

"Relax kid," says Booth, clapping him on the back. "I'm just screwing with you. These are some things the good doctor needs. I need YOU to stay here. Do you have a man you trust here?"

Relieved to see Booth lighten up, Benton says, "My dad's not here. Will my partner do?"

"Is he old enough to drive?"

"Yes, sir," says Benton, not sure if this is a joke.

"Old enough to drink?"

"Uh, yes, sir," thinking more that it might be a joke rather than not.

"But not at the same time, right?" says Booth, enjoying intimidating this pipsqueek. It feels good to be on the giving side again instead of the receiving side - like he had been earlier this morning with Bones.

"Never, sir!"

"Okay - he will have to do. Tell him to be back here in one hour."

"Yes, sir."

"I need you, Booth!" shouts Bones to get his attention. She's starting backward down the ladder.

"Gimme, gimme, gimme that bowl," she urges him, impatiently.

"Make that two drinks I'm going to need when this day is through," he says to himself, walking over to the SUV to open the back hatch and start setting up the telecommunication equipment and the laptop.

"A MINIMUM of two," he says out loud, shaking his head.

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Chapter 69 Mr. Wendell Bray Comes to Philadelphia

An hour later, as Wendell approaches the scene, he takes note of the numerous carefully arranged castings Dr. Brennan has lined up on the tarp on the North side of the hole. It would have taken any other anthropologist a full day to acquire that number of castings, but Dr. Brennan was doggedly proficient and meticulous, barely stopping to eat or take a restroom break.

"Dr. Brennan," he shouts toward the blue form crouched over the lower half of the remains. Intently examining the lateral condyle and epicondyle, the medial condyle and epicondyle, the patella surface, and the adductor tubercle parts of the right femur - more commonly known as the knee joint portion of the thigh bone, she shouts her greeting without looking up.

"Mr. Bray, welcome to Philadelphia. Why aren't you suited up yet?"

"I got off the plane and was brought here directly."

"You did bring your Jeffersonian Institution-issued coveralls?"

"Yes, Dr. Brennan. And plenty of gloves. Even a shower cap."

"What you wear in the privacy of your own shower is of no consequence to me, Mr. Bray. Just get suited up and join me down here. Don't forget to don the appropriate foot coverings - there's a box of them by my valise behind the tool box.

"Yes, Dr. Brennan," he says, setting his bag down, unzipping his parka, and digging around in his backpack.

"And Mr. Bray...," called Brennan.

"Yes, Dr. Brennan," answered Wendell, familiar with her direct approach and happy to have the opportunity to respond to it. After all, not everyone has the opportunity to work in the most respected forensics lab … in the world.

"Your assessment of the remains was as accurate as I would expect from mere photographs. I have confirmed the presence of osteoarthritis on the both the left and right femora and tibias, surrounding the patellae. Also, your assessment of age and height appear to be correct, though I added five years to the range, taking the arthritis into consideration. Hodgens can confirm as soon as he runs his tests with the bones back at the Lab."

"Thank you, Dr. Brennan!" Wendell is pleased to receive affirmation from his mentor.

"Well done. Do you know why I chose you to come out here, Mr. Bray?"

"Because Mr. Nigel-Murray … is no longer available," he says, knowing that she appreciates acknowledgement of the truth and is not shy to hear or speak it.

"That is correct, Mr. Bray," She says, still not looking up. Replacing the left thigh bone in it's original spot, she carefully picks up the left tibia and scrutinizes the end that mirrors the femur where it meets the knee joint. Slowly rotating the knee joint two inches from her face, she scrutinizes the medial condyle, the lateral condyle, and the tubercles.

"The position as my top intern, though not an "official" position, is open. Mr. Nigel-Murray's brilliance fell short of Dr. Addy, but he was also diligent and extraordinarily informed in matters across an impressive range of topics.

"Vincent was the best," says Wendell, in reverence for his colleague who was slain not a week ago.

"No, Dr. Zach Addy was the best. You would do well to remember that, Mr. Bray." Now she looks up.

"I defer to your judgement, Dr. Brennan," he says, respectfully.

"It is not MY judgement that determines brilliance, Mr. Bray." She's back to her inspection of the left tibia. "If I wanted the best, I would have no choice but to clone myself and hire myself as my assistant. But what do we know about cloning, Mr. Bray?"

"Cloning is not yet a viable option for reproduction. It has not yet proven to be as exact as the engineering scientists had at first theorized it would be." She's now replaced the left tibia in it's spot and has carefully picked up the right tibia.

"That is correct," she says, looking up briefly and removing her latex gloves.

"After the options of my clone, Dr. Zach Addy, and Mr. Vincent Nigel-Murray have been exhausted, do you know who is my next choice for top intern?" she asks him, climbing gingerly up the ladder. "Can you give me a hand getting out of this hole, please?"

"Sure, here," he says, walking over to her and offering his hand. "Do I know who your next choice is for top intern?" he repeats her question.

"Correct," she replies.

"No, I don't, Dr. Brennan," he says, looking at her askance.

"You can get in the hole now," she tells him, motioning toward the ladder.

"I don't know either, Mr. Bray," she says, "Who my next choice is for top intern. So this is a very important opportunity for you."

"I'm honored, and thrilled to be here," Wendell says, smiling broadly, showing all his teeth.

"You should be," she says, looking at him briefly, then continuing. "I have closely examined the bones with the most visibly identifiable anomalies. I would like you to catalog all of the bones, all 216 of them."

"Excuse me, Dr. Brennan, don't you mean all 206 of them?"

"Good catch - you will have to pay close attention while here, Mr. Bray. I will be testing your attention to detail, your identification of falsehoods I may present to you, and your ability to make quantum leaps involving verifiable facts as to the causality of these, and any other anomalies while working on this case."

"You can count on me, Dr. Brennan," says Wendell.

"I should hope so - or I would not have invited you out here," she says, matter-of-factly, noticing that Booth has returned from making phone calls and overseeing Officer Benton's collection of her requested items.

"May I speak openly, Dr. Brennan?"

"Mr. Bray, I expect open communication to be the rule between myself and my squ- ah, interns, not the exception."

"I understand, um, Dr. Brennan. For the record, I have never spoken any way but openly to you," he says, just to confirm that she understands."

Brennan stands, looking at him. An uncomfortable silence ensues.

"So anyway," Wendell begins, "as I was about to say, openly, is that testing me on the number of bones in an adult human is a bit of an insult. That's Anthropology 101. I hope the 'challenges' get more 'challenging' as we go along."

"Mr. Bray," begins Brennan, "You are correct," she says, conceding the point. I am a little off my game today. Gotta have that talk with Booth. Grrrr! "That first question was just to jump-start your brain. The real challenges, I assure you, will be at a level commensurate with your … ability and experience." She looks at him, daring him to say anything else. She's getting antsy to get over to Booth.

"Now, here is the inventory …" she hands him a translucent blue clipboard containing about twenty spreadsheets held in place by the metallic pinching device at the top of the board. The clipboard has a cover and can be latched closed to contain any appropriately sized items held within.

"The numbered stickers are in the envelope which you will find under the spreadsheets, but please use the adhesive gum in my case to further adhere the numbers to each bone."

"I will note all anomalies on the sheet next to the number assigned to each bone. Anything else, Dr. Brennan?"

"I trust you will be meticulous. When I return this afternoon we will review your findings."

"Thank you - uh, how long will you be gone?" asks Wendell, not yet in the hole.

"Until I get back, Mr. Bray."

Wendell nods, he could have predicted that response … but what he really wanted to know is how long he would have to capture the requested information. And if he would have time to go to the bathroom first.

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Chapter 70 We have an ID!

Unzipping her Jeffersonian Institute jumpsuit, Brennan steps out of it and places it in a white cloth bag she always brings along for this purpose. Her jumpsuit will be bagged as evidence in case she inadvertently picked up any particulates.

Booth is in an animated conversion with Benton. He's waving his arms and pointing toward the hole with the remains. She walks in the opposite direction toward the building with the facilities she was directed to this morning. When she comes back out of the building, Booth is waiting for her. He flashes her a smile. Flip-flip-flop, goes her stomach - or something in her chest - she's not sure which. Suffice it to say, Booth's smile does something to her insides. He looks like he's in a good mood. Brennan hopes she doesn't say something to ruin it.

"What do we know?" she asks.

"We have an ID!"

"Okay. What do we know about the victim?"

"Aleesha Grimes. Twenty-one years old. Daughter of Barbara and Bob Grimes of … ," he consults a sheet inside an official looking folder, "Laurel, Maryland. And get this: past student of Haverford College."

"Interesting. Have you talked to them?"

"They are expecting us at four this afternoon. And, by the way, this makes it an official FBI case. Missing from Maryland, found in Pennsylvania." Booth puts up his hand for a high-five while still reading from the file. Bones gives his hand a good smack.

"Way to go, partner!" she says, with a big grin, as they walk toward the SUV. "You beat me to it. What time is it now?"

"About 12:30. Hungry?"

"What happened to my salad?" she asked looking back toward the hole in the ground with Wendell's head just barely visible poking out of it.

"I gave it to Wendell's new girlfriend."

"What? Wendell brought a girlfriend on a business trip. I will have to talk to him. I expect more professionalism from my interns ..."

"Steady now, Bones. Wendell did not BRING a girlfriend with him, alright? I'm referring to Little Officer Kenney, the officer sent by Benton to pick up Wendell at the airport." Booth nods toward the Crown Victoria parked beside Benton's. A female officer sits sideways in the driver's seat, chomping away at a leafy green salad in a clear plastic take-out box. "She seemed more than happy to take it."

"But …"

"Why eat a boxed salad sitting on a tarp, dangling your legs into a hole filled with bones, when you can sit down in a restaurant and not worry about dropping vinaigrette all over the evidence?" asks Booth, putting on the charm. During a case, sometimes its difficult to pull Bones away long enough to eat. More than once he'd been successful getting her to the diner, but then been abandoned as she ran back to the lab, having had a revelation about something that had been gnawing at her for hours. Booth makes sure she eats at least one meal a day sitting at a table from start to finish. Especially in the middle of a case.

"You know what I'd rather do?" she asks, giving him a look of supplication.

"I know exactly what you'd like to do, and I'm on it," Booth says. He knows her well. She wants to check into her hotel room, take a quick shower, put on fresh clothes, then get on the road to meet with their victim's parents, debriefing with Booth along the way. "While Officer Benton was dispatching his minions to acquire all the goodies you requested, I went to the hotel and checked you in. I also put your suitcase in your room," he explains, feeling competent and useful.

Sometimes when she's in the thick of the science part of a case, he feels like there's nothing for him to do - which there isn't, until her team finds something. This morning, he got an ID and made an appointment with the victim's parents, delegated the acquisition of the materials she requested to his newest whipping boy, checked her into her hotel, and returned just as she was finishing with Wendell. A very successful morning, in his opinion.

"You didn't have to do that, Booth. That's really going above and beyond," she says. "But I appreciate it. Do I have time for a quick shower?"

"Lets see - 12:30 …. we have to leave at 1:45, 2 o'clock at the latest to get to Laurel …"

"You know I am a very efficient showerer," she says. "I'd really rather not meet … what was her name?"

"Aleesha."

" … Aleesha's parents smelling like mud and looking like death warmed-over."

"Hm," he says, pretending to think about it. "I suppose we could squeeze it all in," he relents. "But you will really have to be fast. I've got an Ambrosia Burger on the mind and I won't be able to think straight until I've got one in my stomach as well."

"Deal," she says, "And did you notice my pun? Death warmed-over. It's a pun because we deal with death all the time … not really warmed up … Angela used to say she felt like death warmed-over after something else she called the walk of shame … which is when you return home in the morning after a hot date on a cool night with a warm dude - wearing the same clothes you went out in the night before. Or possibly less …"

"Nice pun, Bones. And I know what the walk of shame is, though I haven't heard it used in a LONG time. Angela's probably worn a hole in that path in her day."

"I don't know what that means ..."

"It means she has probably walked the walk of shame so many times that she could have partially eroded away the sidewalk creating a pathway."

"Except that she rarely walked the same path more than three or four times, Booth. Not nearly enough to erode concrete," she says, sounding very confident.

"Well ... there's something I did NOT need to hear ..."says Booth. Clearly, it's time to change the subject. "Okay - back to the case … or, where were we?"

"Shower. Laurel, Maryland. Victim's parents."

"Ah. No, it's shower. EAT. Laurel. Parents. Got it?"

"Got it."

"Lets go .." They hop in the car and Booth steers the SUV off the lawn and takes a right onto Walton Road, reversing their course from earlier that morning. As they drive past the duck pond, the mother duck is leading her six teenage ducklings across the water toward a toddler and his mother who have brought a bread bag full of crumbs.

"On a day like today - clear sky, bright yellow sun, gentle breeze rustling through the green leaves in the trees," she begins, looking past Booth to the scene at the pond, "It's hard to believe that a young woman's remains lie in a hole in the ground on this very campus. And that students may have picnicked on that very spot many times. Knowing nothing about what lie just five feet below their potato salad," Brennan says, forlorn.

"Yes it is," says Booth, pursing his lips and looking at her face briefly as he drives slowly down College Lane.

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Chapter 71 Men are Stupid and Careless

While Bones takes her shower and gets into fresh clothing, Booth goes to his room and makes a couple phone calls. The last one to Rebecca.

"How's he doing?" he asks.

"He's fine, Seeley. Why what's up?"

"Remains were found on the campus over here in Philadelphia. I'm a little concerned that I might not make it back for the weekend if this thing drags out," he explains. "We've already got an ID, but I've learned to never assume anything is as simple as it may seem at first."

"Hey, he'll get over it. You've already been fishing twice this Spring. That's more than a lot of kids get with their dads," Rebecca says, assuredly. "Want me to prepare him, just in case?"

"Ahhhhhhhh," Booth thinks about it for a moment. "What is this, Wednesday?"

"Yep."

"Tell you what - I'll call him tonight …"

"Tonight's soccer practice," she reminds him. "Let me just pave the way, soften the blow."

"Ouch - is it really a blow? You know I try not to cancel on him …"

"Seeley, he'll be FINE! Get back to work, solve this thing, and get your butt back to D.C."

"You're right. How are things with your boyfriend?" he asks, genuinely interested.

"He'll be okay. It was a stupid move. If I had a quarter for every time I warned him …"

"Rebecca - men are stupid and careless. How many times I gotta remind you of that?" he says, chuckling.

"Yeah, yeah, yeah," she says, "and I'm a sucker for the stupidest and least careful of the whole lot of you!"

"Hey! I never fell off a roof …"

"No comment, Seeley," she says, teasing him. "By the way, Parker cannot shut up about the project Tempe and her team had prepared for him when they picked him up yesterday afternoon. He can;t wait to go back and work on it some more."

"I haven't heard about this project. What is it?"

Rebecca explains the life size drawing of Parker, in three layers - the bottom being his entire skeleton, which Bones drew herself for him.

"Wow. That is really cool. Did you get to see it?"

"He doesn't want me to see it until it's finished. He's calling it "Flat Parker."

"Like Flat Stanley, the chapter book I've been reading to him," says Booth.

"Yep. He says he wants to hang it on the wall in his room at your place. I hope it doesn't scare him in the middle of the night …"

"We'll see what it looks like first," he says, intrigued and pleased that Parker had a good time while both of his parents were elsewhere. "Tell the kid I love him, and I'll talk to him tomorrow."

"Will do. Be safe," says Rebecca before hanging up.

Before leaving his hotel room, Booth takes out his wallet and fingers through the receipts, and plastic until he finds Bones' footie note. Unfolding it, he brings it up to his face, closes his eyes, and breathes in the scent. "We'll, what do you know?" he says out loud. "Hm. I get it." He smiles as if he's got a secret he's keeping, refolds the note, smelling it once again, then replaces it in his wallet.

"Sixteen minutes. I think that's a new record," says Booth, a little too energetically, smiling the world at her as she steps off the elevator.

"You have no idea how good you have it," she says. "If I had known this is all it takes to put a smile like that on your face, well ..." Bones says, then stops, squinting at him, then smirking, resigned. "I guess I hadn't thought that comment through completely before I opened my mouth ... "

"I love it when you act like a person," says Booth, draping his arm over her shoulders and laughing at her.

Bones smiles brightly at him, play punches him in his exposed rib cage, and gives him a mock-warning look.

"Whoa!" he says, feigning injury and backing off.

"As I was saying - before you derailed me with your silliness," she says, shooting him a 'what is UP with you?' look. "What I was saying ... is that you don't know how good you have it. The average adult female takes 45.3 minutes to get ready to leave the house."

"Oh, yes I do," he answers, confidently. "I've spent enough time waiting on women to appreciate a speedy one when I see her. How do you do it anyway? Rebecca takes - or at least she used to - no less than seventy-five minutes to shower, dress, and whatever else it is you people do to get ready to go somewhere, anywhere."

"You don't want to know," she says, smiling at him sideways. "Lets just say I've got it down to a science. Another pun …"

"Ha ha," he says, sarcastically. "Seriously though, you could give lessons. I know a lot of men would pay big bucks for their wives to learn how to get showered and dressed in sixteen minutes."

"Eh, I don't need the money. Besides, if I teach all the other women of the world, I would no longer be extraordinary," she says with mock concern.

"Right, especially since getting ready in record time is your one redeeming quality," he says, rolling his eyes.

Bones shoves him in response as they head out the door where the SUV is waiting at the curb.

"Where to for lunch?" she asks.

"A little place called The Grog. Wait till you taste their crab cakes!"

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Chapter 72 The Napping Chapter

Their stomachs full, Booth and Bones' brains are relatively empty … of blood, at least. Booth sits in the driver's seat in the parking lot behind The Grog. He stares straight out the windshield. Neither one has said anything since slamming the doors shut and Bones buckled her seat belt.

"Booth," says Bones. It may have roused him, if she'd said anything else. But she forgot to, so full was her own belly and empty was her brain.

"Lets go take a nap," he finally says. "Or what if I climb in the back seat? You drive …"

"What? I had TWO crab cake sandwiches - I'm in just as bad a shape as you! Plus a big pile of French fries."

"Uh, plus most of MY fries …"

"I need a nap just as badly as you do … and I want one more … after being in the sun all morning in a pit of morbidity." She slowly turns to look at him. A look that says, "What the HECK are we going to do?"

"I never pegged you for the napping-kind, Bones."

"Oh, I LOVE napping. I'd nap every day if work and people didn't get in the way. I miss it when we're in the thick of a case."

"Really?" he asks, flabbergasted, dragging out the word. "Reeeeaaalllly? Well, I guess there's no way I coulda known that …" He turns to look at her, considering her face - a little bloated and soft-looking from so much diet Coke.

"Well," she says, considering him back. "We gotta get over this, 'cuz we've got a very important meeting in about …" she looks at her left wrist. Realizing she forgot her watch, she reaches across him and takes his left hand from the steering wheel, where it had been resting since he used it to pull himself into the SUV. "… in about - oh! - two and a half hours."

"How long does it take to get to there?"

"Where?"

"Laurel, Maryland!"

"Right. Two days."

"Noooo. Two hours, right?"

"That sounds more like it. But if it were two days, we could take a REALLY great nap. Great coupla naps…"

"Booth!" she shouts, smacking his thigh.

"Ouch!" he says. "Why'd you do that?"

"We gotta snap out of this … " she says, shaking her head. "I suppose we could go out behind the dumpster and puke up lunch. Then maybe our blood will return to our brains …"

"I guess you could call this a 'refractory' period?"

"Ohhhhhh, yes," Bones confirms, "But not MY favorite kind …"

"Right … you know I never understood the appeal of eating and then puking. That just seems crazy to me," he says, his face contorting into a question mark.

"Me neither. That has to be the stupidest strategy for weight loss ever conceived," she says, nodding her head and looking at him like they were discussing something truly fascinating. "I have an idea," she says still staring at him across the front seat. Bones unbuckles her seatbelt, opens the car door, and hesitates, gathering her thoughts and committing to her plan. To her crab cake-addled brain, it sounds like the only viable plan.

Slamming her door shut, she takes three deep, quick, breaths, and rounds the SUV to Booth's door, yanking it open.

"Come on, big guy," she says. "I have a plan. The perfect strategy for getting our blood pumping through the rest of our bodies."

"Am I gonna like this plan?" he says, giving her a sly grin.

"Nope. But we have to do it," she says, grabbling his left arm and pulling him into an upright position. "Okay - close the door and come with me." She pulls him by the hand toward the trees at the back of the tiny parking lot.

"Hm. I think I might enjoy this …" he says.

"Shut up," she says. "and focus." She slaps herself a couple times on each cheek, then slaps him a couple times on each of his cheeks. "Okay - we'll start with five jumping jacks …"

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Chapter 73 On the Road Again

"Well, that was invigorating …" says Booth, putting the key in the ignition. "I usually don't like to exercise on a full stomach."

"We didn't really have a choice, Booth, unless you want to postpone our meeting with Mr. and Mrs. Grimes who have been looking for answers to their daughter's disappearance for five long years. Then you'll most likely also miss your fishing trip with Parker this weekend."

"I know, you're right," he says, burping. "Whoa - excuse me. See, that's what happens when you mix up your meal AFTER eating it."

"You are excused, but I don't understand why people are embarrassed about normal bodily sounds. Eructation is simply the release of air from the stomach or esophagus, usually because you've swallowed too much air. Most people burp three or four times after every meal," she explains. "In come cultures, if you DON'T burp after a meal, it's an insult to the cook."

"Are those cultures of mostly men?"

"Of course not," she says, looking at strangely. "Did you know that if you swallow air and don't burp, it'll go through your digestive tract and be expelled through your anus as flatus?"

"Whoa, don't say anus right after we've eaten!"

"Braaaap," Bones burps in response. "Oops, sorry!" she giggles, peeking at him over the hand covering her mouth. "Buup, burp, hick!"

"BONES!" he says, letting out a good laugh. "I am so attracted to you at this moment …" He says sarcastically, continuing to laugh, and pinching her cheek.

"Hey," she says," slapping his hand away. "Eructation, is not a sex specific phenomenon. Men have the advantage of bigger organs - that's why you are able to expel a greater volume than the female of the species."

"What ever you have to tell yourself …" he says, pinching her cheek again, still laughing at her.

"Would you just keep your hands to yourself and drive, neanderthal?" She burps one more time.

He just shakes his head, trying to control his laughter - but not that much. "Is that the best you can do?" he says. "Grraaaaauuuup!"

"Booth, if you seriously want to have a competition - let's go. Lets stop at a bar on the way home and get a couple cold ones - we'll see 'who da man' …"

"Nice," he says, sarcastically, looking to the left and pulling onto Lancaster from the parking lot. "But not tonight, I'm planning on having Ambrosia-Burger-jumping-jack heart burn …"

"Whatever," she says.

"Parker would LOVE this conversation … do you have a lecture on farting as well?"

"As a matter of fact, I do," she says, smiling and nodding at him.


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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Thu Aug 09, 2012 10:52 pm

Chapter 74 A Tale of Two Inconsistencies

"So what's the story on Aleesha Grimes?"

"It's all there in the file - she was in her third year at Haverford, home over Summer break."

"Some Summer break …"

"Right. One night in June she met some high school friends at a local ice cream shop and was never seen again. Haverford is sending us her school records. Benton is forwarding the original missing person's report from the PPD."

"Says here," reads Bones, scanning the first page of Booth's report from his phone conversation this afternoon with Barbara Grimes, "the date was June 15th, 2006. She walked from her parents' home at 1834 Gorman Avenue in Laurel, MD, to meet her friends, three high school girlfriends, at … Rita's Water Ice - in the Laurel Corridor Marketplace, address: 3353 Fort Meade Road."

"Sounds about right."

"Okay - Any witnesses to an abduction?"

Booth's phone rings.

"Booth," he says. "Okay, Benton. Hold on. I'm putting you on speaker phone so Dr. Brennan can hear you too. Give me a minute here."

Booth hands the phone to Bones who connects the phone to a gadget attached to the stereo system. She punches the ON button on the console and adjusts the volume.

"Good afternoon, Officer Benton," she says.

"Good afternoon, Dr. Brennan. Did you enjoy The Grog? It's one of me and my wife's favorite places to eat …"

"Benton," interrupts Booth, "the Grimes file?"

"Yes, sir, I have it in my hands. I've sent a digital copy to Dr. Brennan at the address you gave me. You should have it within minutes."

"Thank you, Benton. Did you also get the canopies erected over and around the site so Dr. Brennan doesn't have to work in the hot sunshine for the rest of today and tomorrow?"

"I did sir," he answers smartly, as if he's standing at attention on the other end of the line. "I supervised it myself. It was up by 1:15 this afternoon. Your Mr. Bray from the Jeffersonian is still working in the hole, sir. A fine young man, that Mr. Bray. Angel, I mean, Officer Kenney, seems to have taken a liking to him…"

"Officer Benton," interrupts Bones, "just a couple of quick questions while we wait for the digital copy of the file."

"Sure. Go ahead," he says, eager to be of assistance on what is now an official FBI case.

Again Bones scans the first page of Booth's notes and asks several questions in quick succession.

"Were there any witnesses to an abduction?"

"No, Ma'am."

"How did she get from her parent's home to Rita's Water Ice to meet her friends?"

"Says here she walked."

"How many miles is it from the Grimes' house to Rita's?"

"About two miles, Ma'am," he says.

"Is there a record of what time she left her parents' house?"

"Yes. Says here … according to the mother, Babs Grimes, Aleesha left 1834 Gorman Avenue at or around six in the evening."

"Okay. What about what time she arrived to meet her friends?"

"Her friends … Bonita, Chicka, and Corrine … reported she arrived at Rita's Water Ice at or around 6:20 PM. She left at exactly 8:30 PM. They all remembered that specific time because she said she wanted to be home in time to watch a rerun of San Francisco Crime Investigators which starts at nine o'clock."

"Hmm. Interesting," says Bones, thinking, but saying nothing. "Thank you, Officer Benton."

"My pleasure, Dr. Brennan. Is there anything else you want me to read to you off the report?"

"No - thank you. We'll call you if we have any further questions," she says.

"You have my number," he says.

"Wait - Officer Benton?"

"Yes, Agent Booth?" Benton returns to a more formal tone of voice.

"Who was the primary on the Grimes case?" asks Booth.

"Um," they hear him flipping through the pages of the file. "Well, it looks like the primary was changed half way through the investigation."

"What do you mean?" asks Booth.

"Officer Jezzi Bonzai is written down, but then crossed out. Officer Angel Kenney is written above Bonzai's name."

"Benton," starts Booth, pausing to think for a moment. "Is that normal protocol for the PPD - crossing out a name and writing another above it?"

"Not at all, Agent Booth. According to the PPDHOP," says Benton, pronouncing the acronym for Philadelphia Police Department Handbook of Protocol as 'pee-dee-hop,' "When a change in primary occurs, the original statement doc is not to be altered in any way. A new statement doc is created, dated and the change of primary is noted. The original state doc is stapled underneath the new primary's sheet."

"So, Officer Benton," asks Booth, suspiciously," what do you think happened here? Why the cross-out? Why the failure to follow protocol?"

"I will find out for you right away, Agent Booth."

"Let me know what you learn. I'll be waiting for your call."

"You can count on me, Agent Booth. Dr. Brennan."

Booth presses the END button, hanging up the phone.

"Interesting," says Booth, his face scrunched in thought.

"What do you think it means?" asks Bones.

"I don't know. Whoever it was didn't care that Bonzai's name was still visible on the report … or they would have covered it up somehow," suggests Booth, still working on the possibilities. "Or gotten rid of the original sheet and started with a fresh one. But that doesn't make sense. No one ACCIDENTALLY writes someone else's name on their own report. Someone higher up must have made the change. But why not go through the proper paperwork?"

"Know what I think is more interesting?" asks Bones after a moment, raising her eyebrows and staring straight through the passenger-side front windshield.

"What?"

"How does a twenty-one year old woman with semi-advanced osteoarthritis walk two miles in twenty, even twenty-five minutes?"

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Chapter 75 The Patellae Don't ... What?

"Officer Benton, at your service," he says, answering his cell.

"Officer Benton, this is Dr. Brennan. I need the phone numbers of the three girls Aleesha Grimes met at Rita's Water Ice. I'm still waiting for that digital copy to download," says Bones. "Also, is the victim's medical file included in what you already sent me?"

"Um," says Benton, breathing hard, his voice bumpy.

"Officer Benton, are you jogging or are you suffering cardiopulmonary distress?"

"No worries, Dr. Brennan," he answers. "There's just been a lot of commotion here. Had to leave the file in the squad to go handle it. Here we are."

"Benton, this is Agent Booth," says Booth, unnecessarily leaning toward the speaker console as he speaks. "Are you at Haverford?"

"Yes, sir"

"Why is there a commotion going on there?"

"News got out about the skeleton being found. It's been a slow week here in the borough. I guess it made top news in the paper this afternoon."

Silence on Bones and both's end of the line. They exchange a glance. Both thinking about who has seen the bones.

"Benton, how do you think that news got out?" Booth looks at Bones, raises a vertical finger to his lips, signaling 'don't say anything,' He looks through the windshield, pursing his lips. He knows you learn more by asking questions rather than always relying on your own conjecture.

"Thanks, Angel," Officer Benton says to someone on his side of the line. "Agent Booth, we've just learned that one of the hole diggers has loose lips. Apparently, he took a picture with his cell phone and now that's above the fold in the afternoon addition of the Haverford Herald," he says, panic in his voice. "I am really sorry, Agent Booth. I thought we had a lid on this thing … college security had the over night shift … "

"Great," says Booth rolling his eyes. He looks to Bones, who is watching him carefully. He nods at her, indicating 'go ahead.'

"Officer Benton, this is Dr. Brennan of the Jeffersonian …"

"Bones, he knows who you are …" Bones sends Booth a warning glance.

"Officer Benton, we are not concerned about the news leaking. We are …"

"Wait - I'M concerned about the news leaking …!"

"What's MOST important to us," continues Bones, letting Booth AND Benton know that THIS really is the most important issue. "Is that the site is not compromised in any way. Nothing has been taken away, nothing has been added. THAT is what is most important."

"Understood, sir. Um, ma'am, I mean. Officer Angel Kenney says the college security report of the incident - I have it here - it says Security Officer James White, he's a friend of mine and a trustworthy guy, by the way, on the force for ten years before going private … "

"Focus, Benton. What does the incident report say?" Booth asks. "Feel free to paraphrase."

"Sorry, sorry, sorry. Okay - the hole digger climbed up one of the cherry pickers and used the zoom function. Point being that no one came near the hole, Dr. Brennan."

"Okay, Benton. I want you to snap walls onto those canopies," directs Booth. "If they don't have snaps - get new canopies that have walls. We're not running a circus here."

"Officer Benton?" interrupts Bones, "Is Mr Bray still at the site?"

"Never left it, ma'am. Well, except to shake the dew of the lilly, if'l you'll pardon my poetry, ma'am. Do you want to talk to him? "

"She has a phone, Benton. We'll call him ourselves."

"Right, sir. Anything else?"

"Phone numbers of Aleesha's girlfriends."

"Right. Got 'em right here if you're ready to take them."

"Go ahead and shoot, Benton."

Bone's cell phone rings. "It's Mr. Bray," she says, distractedly, looking at the caller ID. "Mr Bray, Dr. Brennan." She turns toward the passenger side window and speaks into the phone, one finger stuffed in her left ear. "Hold on a minute, just one minute," she says, pressing the phone into her chest so Wendell doesn't get confused by the other call.

"No problem," says Wendell, though Brennan never hears it.

"We've got another call, Benton," says Booth toward the radio console. "Lets get those numbers ASAP."

Bones copies down the numbers onto the front page of Booth's notes as Benton reads them off.

"Thanks, High Ho Silver, now get those walls up!" Booth clicks off the phone before hearing a response from Benton.

°°°°°°°°°

"Mr. Bray?" says Brennan, putting her cell to her ear once again.

"I'm here," he answers.

"What do you have for me?"

I noticed something strange about the patellae. Neither of them appear to have corresponding osteoarthritis. If the femora and tibias show signs of osteoarthritis, it stands to reason that the patellae should as well."

"Are you sure?" she asks, perplexed, but calm.

"Yes. Unless they are microscopic, which I can't confirm without a microscope. It's almost as if she had her patellas replaced."

"Do the patellae have the same amount and color of debris on them? Dirt from being buried?"

"Well, they appear to, but I captured seven samples of dirt from around the knee joint for comparison.""You still have your gloves on?"

"Yes, always, Dr. Brennan."

"What other questions might you ask in this situation?"

"How do the color and density of the patellae compare to each other and to the femora and tibias? Then I'd take a much closer look at the remaining bones to see if there are any other anomalies similar to this."

"Very good, Mr. Bray. What else?"

"I'd order millimeter drill samples to be taken of all six bones - three from each joint."

"Which means what?"

"We have to get the bones back to the coroner's lab as soon as possible. So I need to pack them up, take samples from all the soil and copious notes."

"This has become an FBI case. The victim was living in Maryland when she went missing."

"I guess I'll be sending the remains to the Jeffersonian, then."

"Very good job, Mr Bray," she says. "now, how are you going to do that?"

"I'm going to fill the bottom half of each suitcase with pink modeling clay. I will press the clay into the hard shell of the suitcase, making it four inches deep for the first two - deeper for the third, as space allows. Then I will carefully remove each bone, wrapping them, one at a time, loosely in saran wrap, and then pressing them at least 50% deep into the modeling clay."

"We may or may not be back before eight o'clock or so. We might get to talk to the last people who saw the victim alive here in Laurel," she says. "Very well done. Make it so, Number One!," she says and hangs up. Turning to Booth, "Did you hear my Star Wars reference?"

"Bones, that wasn't from Star Wars," says Booth, looking at her and registering her disappointment.

"It wasn't? Well, what's it from?"

"I don't know, but it wasn't Star Wars."

"It must be from one of those outer space shows," she says, disappointed. "Did you watch any of the other ones?"

"Nope - I was a jock, remember. Too studly to watch anything more far out than Star Wars and E.T. Chicks weren't interested in those other shows. Except the smart ones, but I ..."

"What's E.T.?" she says, interrupting him.

"You haven't seen E.T.? You need an intervention, Bones. Where are you getting these pop culture references from anyway?

"I bought a book on them. One of those Dummy Guides. I'm trying to fill out, Booth."

Booth gives her a blank look. Then a scrutinizing look. Then recognition dawns and he flashes her an affectionate smile. "It's 'fit in, Bones," he says. "Believe me, you've already filled out."

"I don't know what you mean. Or … oh … Are you referring to the development of secondary sex characteristics?" she says.

Booth looks at her and raises both eye brows. "Bingo Baby. That's what filling out means," he says with a wink and a … beautiful grin.

"That reminds me, Booth …" she says, her eyes narrowing, looking at him suspiciously.

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Chapter 76 What Time Is It, Baby?

"Hold that thought, Bones. Lets see if we can visit the high school girlfriends while in Laurel."

"Okay," she says, still looking at him suspiciously. "Give me your watch."

"What do you need my watch for?"

"I want to know what time it is."

"It's 2:37."

"Just give me your watch, Booth."

"What are you going to do with it?"

"I'm gonna wear it."

"What? Why?" Glancing at her quickly then back at the road, twice.

"I just want to keep track of the time and I don't want to have to ask you every five minutes."

"Why will you need to know the time every five minutes?" Booth is clearly confused, on the border of being really annoyed.

"Because …" she says, sounding like 'not that it's any of your business,' "I want to budget my time."

"For what?" he says. Then, "Oh," he says, realizing he's pretty much trapped. And he's not ready. And he's distracted by this case. It's nice to be distracted by a case.

"We have to call those girlfriends, Bones. We are going to be in Laurel for a short amount of time - and I'd like not to have to go back," he says.

"Alright. Girls, then talk," she says, pretty pleased with herself.

"Woah - I'm being blackmailed by my own partner," he says, acting put out. "I said we could talk about us after we get an ID on this girl."

"We have an ID," she says.

"Yeah, but what about the bones thing? Doesn't that make things questionable? How … Are we 100% sure this is the right girl?" he says, laying out some weak arguments, and knowing they are weak.

"We have the dentals. Dentals don't lie," she says, matter-of-factly.

"But don't you always say bones don't lie? What about the perfect patellae? What about that?"

"Bones DON'T lie, but you can identify someone quickly and irrefutably by their dental records. And we have those."

"Okay - you win."

"Why is this a win or lose thing with you? Angela says men almost always do anything to get out of talking about a relationship. In the past I have not found this to be true with you. Well, not most of the time, anyway," she says, "Why are you sounding frustrated? What is the big deal?"

Booth isn't sure what to say. He doesn't want to admit that the idea of having the relationship conversation with her makes him uncomfortable. On several levels.

"I'm struggling here, Booth. And you are the only one who can help me with this."

Booth's shoulders relax. What am I so uptight about? Once we have the conversation, Booth tells himself, everything could change. That's what I'm uptight about. What if it doesn't go how I want it to go? What if it does go how I want it to go and we just can't make it work? What then? He's always imagined having this conversation at his own house … or hers - somewhere comforting, relaxing, private. Maybe after a shared meal. Bones' homemade macaroni and cheese? In the car, in the middle of a case, is awkward - it takes a lot of energy to be in the middle of two tornadoes at once. A person could blow an emotional fuse, and then where would they be? On the other hand, being in the thick of a case made him feel sexy, exciting, intelligent, useful, strong. That's a good way to feel when you have to have a talk like this, right? But what happens to the case if we fight and she takes off? Or she's upset and doesn't want to finish the case with me?

She's a logical person, he assures himself. She'll understand what I have to tell her. And why we shouldn't get involved romantically right now - she has to be able to commit, emotionally. He's just isn't sure she is ready - or even wants to be. She's balked before. Will she get it that I need more than just a physical connection and camaraderie? What if she still just doesn't think she's capable of giving herself over - and being given to as well? Maybe I should call Gordon Gordon. Why am I acting like a little girl? This is ridiculous. This is Bones, we're talking about, here, he tells himself. This is me. Haven't we survived lots of stuff together? What is my problem?

Booth becomes aware that Bones has been talking to him, but he's been lost in his own thoughts.

"Booth! Yoo Hoo! Dr. Brennan to Agent Booth. Hellooooo?" Bones is calling his name and has begun to wave her hands near his face. He finally turns his head and looks toward her.

"Is it safe for you to drive while you're daydreaming like that, Booth?" she asks, concerned. "Maybe I should drive …" Booth is finally completely snapped out of his mental argument.

"Where were you? You leaned your head to the left, then the right, then the left - the whole time making faces - like you were playing both sides of a tennis court - and you were taking turns playing two completely different people."

"Don't get mixed up with me, Bones," Booth says, sighing. "I'm a nut job," he says, shaking his head.

"Too late," she says. "Besides, I love nuts." She takes out her phone and starts dialing the number of the first girl on the list of three, Bonita Lucas. Her last comment hanging in the air.

"Oh, Bones," he says, laughing, a pained expression on his face, "That's a wasted comment when there's no one else here to enjoy it with me."

"What? What'd I say? What's so funny?" She's clueless, of course.

"Never mind. Just, never mind," he says, making a fake, pained face.

"What?"



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Chapter 77 When You're Happy and You Know It ...

"Okay," says Bones. "Bonita Lucas will meet us at Rita's Water Ice at 4:45. We can get a look at the last place Aleesha was seen alive and grill her about that meeting," she says, noticing there is only an hour left of this ride to Laurel.

"What was the deal with the chicken-a-la-king girl?" asks Booth.

"Her name is Chicka Vegas. Wonder what that is short for?" Bones squeezes her eyebrows together in contemplative thought. "I mean, "Bones" makes sense. Booth - well that's just your name."

"Maybe she grew up on a farm?"

"Maybe she has one of those made-up names, like, I don't know, Chicanita?"

"It could be a nick name that has nothing to do with her real name," suggests Booth.

"True enough," says Bones, grimacing. "Her mom said she is babysitting, but should be back within the hour. Mom'll have her meet us with Bonita, if she can."

"Great. You know, I knew a hooker once whose name was Female - pronounced Fah-maw-ley. She said she was the last of twelve girls and her mom just ran out of names. She said she was too tired to come up with another one. Can you believe that?"

"Stranger things have been known to happen … I'm afraid to ask, but why were you friends with a hooker?" She looks at Booth not sure if she's joking or not. Forty-five minutes left.

"She witnessed another hooker being beaten to death but a John."

"Oh. Tragic."

"The world can be tragic," he says. "What about the third girl?"

"Corrine Anderson. She's out of the country. Took a nanny job and went to Majorca with the family. Won't be back for three weeks. That's a bust. Hopefully we'll have this thing cleared up by them."

"From your mouth to God's ears," says Booth, shaking his hand toward the ceiling.

"So now what are you, Jewish?" Forty minutes left.

"Heh," and a sideways look are the only response he gives.

A comfortable silence of about five minutes ensues while Booth entertains his own thoughts and Bones opens her laptop and reads through the file sent over by Benton. "Did I remember to ask for Aleesha's medical file from her pediatrician - or GP?"

"I think you were going to, but we got interrupted. Informatus Interruptus," he says, wiggling his lips around, playing with his made-up word. "Bummer," he says.

"Mmm," she says, still reading silently from the screen. She sneaks a peak at Booth's watch hanging on her wrist. Thirty-five minutes left.

"Hey, how do you get a word into the dictionary? Is there a form you can fill out or something? I bet I could discover some words …"

"Words aren't discovered so much as created, Booth. Someone creates a word. It kinda goes viral. Becomes part of the vernacular. Then it MAY get into the dictionary …" she says distractedly. I have a fascinating book on the creation of the first dictionary, if you're interested."

"No offense, but it doesn't sound like my kind of book."

"Actually, it might be right in your road. It's called Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of The Oxford English Dictionary, by Simon Winchester.

"Oh, yeah … Now THAT sounds like my kind of book. Are there heroes in it?"

"Yeah, I guess you could say that," says Bones looking up from her laptop and staring out the window. "I'll lend you my copy. It's signed by the author, so you'll have to give it back."

"Or else … ?"

"Or else, what?"

"I have to give it back, or else … there should be a penalty if I don't give it back."

"I'll think on that, Booth," she says squinting back through the front windshield, a crooked smile forming on her lips.

"Good. You'll have to let me know what it is so I can decide whether or not I want to return the book," he says, pursing his lips, and starting to hum the theme song of the hit tv series based on the novels of Kathy Reich.

"Being with you is like being with a child sometimes," she says.

Booth raises his eyebrows at her a couple of times, smiling, and starts to whistle, his right wrist leaning on the top of the steering wheel, left hand resting on his thigh. The tune has changed to "If you're happy and you now it … clap your hands."

Bones roles her eyes and shakes her head. She goes back to reading her report. Twenty-five minutes left.

Her phone rings. They make a 6:30 appointment with Chicka Vegas, who can't meet them at Rita's, but will be home by 6 o'clock. Fifteen minutes left. Not nearly enough.

"You won this round, Booth," says Bones with a sigh.

"What? I did? What'd I win is it something good?,"he asks. "Wait, what'd I win for?"

Bones leans her elbow on the bump on the car door window, her face on her fist. She just stares at him, a stern expression on her face - kinda like "You've gotta be joking". She shakes her head. "Maybe not a child - maybe more like a puppy."

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Chapter 78 Babs and Bob Grimes - It Takes All Kinds

Eighteen thirty-four Gorman Avenue in Laurel, MD, is a single family rambler with yellow siding and a detached, one car garage in the back. Before even going into the house, Bones knows there will be three bedrooms, placed closely together, the first two on one side of a short hallway. The opposite hall wall gives entry to the third bedroom and a small bathroom with a green, yellow, or pink pastel tub. The shower curtain still smells like plastic and some kind of soap that was all the rage forty years ago.

At the very end of the hall will be a narrow linen closet, most likely overflowing with threadbare towels and faded queen and twin sheet sets. A second half bath will be in the cement floored basement, most likely situated not too far from the washer and dryer. Both the washing machine and the narrow shower will drain into a round grate in the middle of the slightly tilted cement floor. Neighbors will know when Babs is doing laundry because the heat and the fresh scent of Downy will billow into the back yard.

The front of the house is lined with shrubs that have been shaped and cut back as many times as the house is old. A small flower garden spills out of an overturned half barrel in the middle of the lawn, directly in front of a single-pane living room window.

Bones predicts the living room furniture will be gold or orange, and consist of a couch and two chairs, at least one of which stills rocks back and forth.

"I lived in so many houses like this when I was in the system," Bones says to Booth as they walk through the front yard to the white screen door that still has it's original glass louvers.

Booth nods, mounts the two cement steps leading into the house, and rings the bell.

"My favorite foster family lived in a house just like this. They raised eight kids in that house. Not all at the same time. When I was there, it was just me and the two youngest. At Christmas it was a regular puppy pile of bodies. People sleeping on every horizontal surface. They treated me like one of them. Birthday and Christmas presents - the works.

"How long were you with them?" Booth asks, looking at her, enjoying hearing about a happy childhood memory.

"Eleven months," she answered, a small shadow passing over her face before she puts on an impervious smile.

"What happened?"

"The dad, Ed was his name, was killed in a car accident. Brenda fell apart. Social Services said she was "temporarily unable to provide adequate care and guidance" for additional minors in the household."

"I'm sorry to hear that, Bones," he says.

"I was almost legal by that time. I only had one more foster family before I was let loose on the world under my own recognizance."

The interior door opens and a short woman with very low hanging breasts, wearing a pale paisley house coat, reaches for the handle of the screen door. As she swings it open, Booth and Bones see that she isn't so much short as wheelchair-bound.

"You must be the Feds," says Barbara Grimes.

"Yes ma'am. I'm Special Agent Seeley Booth and this here's my partner Dr. Temperance Brennan of the Jeffersonian Institution," says Booth.

"Won't you come in?" she says, rolling backwards and making a 45 degree turn so she's facing the living room. "You can call me Babs. My husband, Bob, is waiting for us in the living room." She rolls three feet forward into the living room. "And there he is!" she says loud enough for all to hear. Then whispering toward Bones and Booth, "Whatever you do, do not call him Robert or he'll think you're here to take him to the looney bin. You know how doctors always use your christian name. It scares the bajeezuz out of him. You understand."

"Certainly, Babs," says Bones, shooting a 'this is interesting' look at Booth. Booth just shrugs his shoulders and holds out his arm to indicate she should follow Babs.

Booth holds open the screen door, letting Bones enter the house, then follows her in, closing and latching the screen door, then closing the interior door behind him. They find themselves in a tiny vestibule which is really just a patch of linoleum leading into the living room.

"Can I get you anything?" I just made some chocolate chip cookies and I put a pot of coffee on the burner.

"No," says Bones.

"Sure," says Booth, at exactly the same time. "Real homemade chocolate chips. From scratch?"

"Yessir," says Babs, clearly delighted to have someone to feed. "That's the only kind worth eating!"

"Any takers on coffee?"

"I'm kinda caffeine out already this afternoon, Babs. But some milk with the cookies would be great."

"Booth," Bones shoots Booth a warning look."

"You're just like my boys, Agent Boost, is it?"

"It's Agent Booth, Mrs. Grimes," Bones says. "And this must be Bob," she says loudly, holding her hand out to the lumpy man on the couch who doesn't get up, but takes her hand. "Hello, Mr. Grimes. I'm Dr. Temperance Brennan and this is Special Agent Booth of the FBI."

Booth moves up next to Bones and offers his hand.

"Have a seat, if you have a seat," Bob says. "See, the first seat means a chair, the second seat means your keester. A joke of my own making. If you use it, you have to give me credit. Say it's from Bob. Just Bob." Booth and Bones are still standing, not sure what to make of Bob.

"Well, what you waiting for? Sit down!" Bob tells them.

Bones sits in a chair. Booth sits on the couch. Both pieces of furniture are orange and sag when they sit down.

"I guess you're wondering why I called y'all here today," begins Bob, his mouth hanging open. A questioning expression on his face, he looks from Bones to Booth and back. "Who's in charge here? The filly or the cowboy?"

"Um, Mr. Grimes, Bob," she says, leaning forward and looking back at Booth momentarily. Booth nods a 'go ahead' at her.

"Bob, we are here about your daughter Aleesha."

"Don't have a daughter Aleesha. Not no more. Not since she run oft with a doctor," he says, forlornly. "She was my one girl. My one chance for greatness. My one love. Cept'n you, Babs," he says, smiling and reaching over to hold Babs' hand. They exchange a tender glance. Babs puts her free hand over Bob's.

"Bob, Aleesha has been missing since June of 2006, correct?"

"Yes'um,"

"We understand that she met with three girlfriends early that evening. She left home at six o'clock, arriving at Rita's Water Ice, two miles away, at or around 6:20. She left Rita's water Ice at 8:30 in order to catch the rerun of San Francisco Crime Investigators. That starts at nine o'clock." Bones pauses, expecting some kind of confirmation or correction of the details.

"We have found her remains, Bob. She was buried in Haverford, PA, on the college campus where she was a student," explains Bones.

Bob just looks at her. He says nothing to Bones. "Where are those cookies, Babs. I think I'll have me some. And I'll have what the cowboy's drinkin' too." Babs had rolled herself back to the kitchen when Bones began providing the facts.

"Bones," Booth touches her on the arm. She leans back to listen to him. "Why don't you go help Babs with the cookies and milk?" He gives her his 'just go along with me on this' look.

"Okay," says Bones, too loudly, "I'll just go back in the kitchen to help Babs while you men have a chat …" As she leaves the living room, she turns and gives Booth a little thumbs up sign and a grin.

"She's a little on the dry side, the filly, she is," says Bob. "Doesn't know good humor when she hears it, poor thing. Now, lets you and me get down to business," he pronounces business as "Bid-Niss."

"I thought you'd never ask," says Booth, getting up and switching to the chair Bones vacated.



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Chapter 79 A Man and a Cowboy Share Milk and Cookies

"You like chocolate chip cookies, Cowboy?" asks Bob.

"I do, sir. Very much," he answers him. "It's a man's cookie - if there is such a thing."

"Couldn't agree more, son, couldn't agree more," says Bob, cookie crumbs collecting on the shelf that is his seven month gestational gut. Booth knew better than to ask when the baby was due - though a guy like Bob would probably get a kick out of that.

"You like girls, too, Cowboy?" asks Bob, obviously trying to get a rise out of Booth.

"I do, sir. More than I'd like to," he says, a companionable grin on his face.

"Heh heh. Ain't that the truth, son?" he says. Can't live with 'em, can't shoot 'em. Though I supposed a joke like that isn't too wise to share, present company considering…"

"Sir, I know a good joke when I hear one. And I promise not to handcuff you unless you lose your sense of humor."

"I appreciate the consideration, Cowboy."

"Mr. Grimes, Bob," says Booth. "You understand why we're here, sir." Booth takes another cookie from the plate Babs had placed on the coffee table between them. He looks covertly, yet closely, at Bob to ascertain how sane this man is - and if he does understand. "Through dental records we've identified five-year-old remains buried on a college campus in Haverford, PA. The deceased appears to fit the description you provided to the authorities five years ago June."

"I understand," says Bob, who has gone quiet and appears to be focusing on a patch of grease on his thick cotton, green trousers. "My life ended that month, Cowboy. A person just don't come back from a hit like 'at. My baby girl."

Booth purses his lips and sits back in his chair. "No, sir. you don't." They sit in silence for a moment until Bob starts back up.

"Here are the facts as I know them to be - you might want to take some notes," he says, looking up at Booth expectantly.

Booth takes out his little pad of paper, opens it, and clicks his pen so the inked end appears.

"Now that's a nice pen," says Bob, noticing how every time you click the pen, the lady stretched across the barrel looses her clothes, then gets them back, then looses them, then gets them back. "Can I have a look see?" He reaches out toward Booth.

"Well, I'll be damned," he says, handing it back to Booth. "What's the filly think of that there pen?"

"She hasn't seen it, Bob. Don't think she'd appreciate the humor, if you know what I mean."

"I do, Cowboy. I do," he says, grinning conspiratorially. Let's get this over with, shall we?"

Bob fills Booth in on the details as he recalls them. Aleesha had been in love with a professor at Haverford. They'd gone on several trips together, but hadn't in the year before she disappeared. Bob and Babs had never met this professor, but had seen him twice when he'd come to pick her up to leave for the trips.

"Do you know where they went on these trips, Bob?" asks Booth.

"Germany the first time, seems to me. Then Arizona. Or, no, it was Puerto Rico. Actually, I think she did go away with him three times. TO all those places. She said it was for research - but she said it in a way that suggested it wasn't the kind of research that got published in no scientific journal, if you know what I mean."

"She suggested they were lovers and that they used the trips as "honeymoons," shall we say?" asks Booth.

"That is correct, sir."

"What you gotta understand about Leesha, is that she was always falling for older guys. Unavailable guys. Guys with kids. I guess she was loin' to replace me, somehow. I wasn't the best of fathers, Cowboy. But, Jiminy Crickets, she was a beautiful girl. And a fine dancer, too. Ballerina," as he made the final comment he looked up at the wall above the television set. There hung about fifteen photos of a young woman in ballet shoes serenely pliéing, or balancing on point. In two of the photos she was being held high in the air by a ballet dancer in tight blue or black ballet tights.

"Who's she dancing with here?" Booth asks, pointing to the closest of the two couple photos.

"Some ballerina named Rick or Chip or Steve ..."

"I believe male ballerina's are called ballet dancers, sir."

"I been around long enough to know a ballerina when I see one, Cowboy. And that boy," he says flinging his hand toward the photo wall, "he is a ballerina, if you catch my ... whatever."

"Which is the most recent photo of Aleesha?" asks Booth, nodding toward the wall. He gets up, hands on hips and looks closely at the crookedly hung photos in fake wood frames.

"Here it is," Bob says, reaching into his back pocket and pulling out his wallet. Bob extracts a curved portrait of Aleesha, her back leg up in the air behind her as she bows toward the camera, her face up lifted and lighted perfectly to show a fine face with prominent cheek bones and small, thin, impish lips.

Booth flips the photo over. Written on the back is "Baby Girl. 2005. December. Swan Lake.

"Bob, did Aleesha take any prescription drugs? Any pain killers?"

"Not a one. She was always on some purity kick or another. Too bad that purity didn't extend to her dating habits. Why do you ask?"

"The remains we found at the college show signs of osteoarthritis. Somewhat advanced, actually. A woman with the bones we found would not be able to hold this pose, much less do one of these other moves over here," says Booth, pointing to one of the photos where Aleesha is being carried as she bends both legs at the knees - in a 45 degree angle. "As a matter of fact, we were expecting Aleesha to have possibly been wheel chair bound, like your wife."

Bob looks at Booth with a blank expression on his face. "What are you trying to say, sir?" he says, suspicious of where this conversation is going.

"I'm not trying to say anything, sir. I'm just trying to clear up some inconsistencies." Booth pauses, letting that sink in - willing to wait until Bob says whatever he's going to say next.

"Babs!" Bob yells toward the kitchen, not taking his eyes off of Booth. "We need some more cookies and some female comp'ny out here."

"I'm comin', I'm comin'," they hear Babs yell from somewhere beyond the kitchen. As Babs rolls into the living room, Bones behind her carrying a tray of warm, fresh cookies, she says, "I made another batch so y'all can take some with you."

"Babs, don't be giving them no cookies to take with them! Why you gotta make friends with every Tom, Dick and Harry comes through that door?" He's clearly agitated. "Babs, the Feebs think Aleesha was a cripple … or they got the wrong girl. Maybe it ain't her after all," he says, looking like all the wind had been sucked out of him. His eyes slowly glaze over as Booth and Babs start to chat.

"How long have you been in the wheel chair, Babs?"

"Oh, Lord. Pretty much since Leesha was in diapers. Scoliosis. Bad. Pregnancy that late in life really made it bad. I used to be a dancer in my day.

"Just like Aleesha," states Bones.

"Why yes! But she was far better than I ever was. Straight back, long legs, beautiful face," she says, a dreamy look on her face. Slowly she returns her gaze to Booth. "What's he mean, you think she was a cripple?"

"Mrs. Grimes. Babs," says Bones, sitting down on the couch and speaking calmly and slowly. "The remains we have uncovered are of a young woman who suffered from osteoarthritis in her femora and tibias. A woman with this stage of disease wool don thane been able to walk comfortably, much less dance." Bones waits as Babs takes a moment to understand what she's just been told.

"Something that is confusing about this case is that Aleesha is reported to have walked, quite quickly, two miles from your home here to Rita's Water Ice two miles away. And the records show that she did this in under twenty-five minutes," she pauses. "The average adult female walks at a rate of fifteen minutes per mile." She pauses again. "It would have taken the average woman at least thirty minutes to get to Rita's from here. Much longer for one with osteoarthritis to the degree exhibited by the bones in Haverford."

"Well," Babs starts, then stops. "Well, whatever does this mean? I don't understand? Do you have my daughter or don't you?"

"Oh, I'm confident that we do have your daughter," Bones says. "Is it at all possible that she was using prescription drugs - pain killers - to keep this condition hidden from you?"

"What? That's ridiculous!" Babs is agitated now - not at all sure what this all might mean - but certain that it cannot be good.

I can prove she didn't have this disease you are talking about … I have a video of her dance performance the month before she went missing. Summers she teaches - she taught - ballet to grade-schoolers at the Laurel Commnity theater. They had an exposition to drum up kids for the classes that Spring. I'll show it to you …" Babs gets down on her knees and begins rooting through a stack of video tapes hidden in the brown cabinet that holds up the television set. "Here it is," she says waving it above her head triumphantly.

For the next ten minutes, the four watch Aleesha glide and prance across the stage.

"This has been very informative, Mr. and Mrs. Grimes. Can we call you if we have any further questions?" Bones rises in preparation to leave.

"So what does this all mean?" asks Babs.

"I do not know, Babs, but I promise you I will find out," answers Bones, turning toward the door. "One last thing, actually two."

"What?"

"Does Aleesha have siblings?"

"Yes, two older brothers. Bob Jr has been in South America for two years on a cultural diversity grant. He's a professor. The other is Charles, or Chaz, Leesha called him. He lives in King of Prussia, PA. Not far from Haverford. They were quite close, those two."

Bones collects contact information for both brothers, then asks, "Do you happen to have a copy of Aleesha's medical records?"

"Oh. Yes - somewhere. DO you need them right now?"

"Yes, I do, Babs. We can wait for you to find them."

"Well, how much time you got?" she says, a bit disgruntled, but rolling down the hall toward the bedrooms anyway. Ten minutes later she returns with a thick file on her lap. "It's yours if you want it. Not like WE need it anymore," she says.

"We really appreciate your time, Mr. and Mrs. Grimes," says Booth. Leaning toward Bob, Booth extends his hand, makes eye contact and says, "It was a pleasure meeting you, sir," as he slips something into Bob's shirt pocket.

"Likewise, I'm sure," says Bob, absently though looking in Booth's eyes and reaching for his shirt pocket.

After Booth and Bones leave the house, Babs says to Bob, "Whatcha got there, Bob?"

Bob smiles, looking at the girlie pen Booth put in his pocket. "Nothin' for you to worry your pretty little head about, Babs. Private joke between a man and a cowboy."

"WHAT do you make of that?" says Booth as they get in the car and he heads out into traffic. They've got five minutes to make it to their 4:45 appointment with Bonita Lucas.

"Booth, I am not sure what to think. That girl in the video - there is no way THAT girl had any kind of arthritis. Not possible. Not the way she was moving. With ease. Without pain. Even if she were doped up beyond caring - she would NOT have had that range of motion."

"So … the remains we found are not Aleesha Grimes?"

"Or the dental records are wrong. Maybe these aren't Aleesha Grimes' dental records. We should call the dentist or pay them a visit. These must be the records of some other missing girl," she says, thinking out loud and looking down at the laptop that booting up on the console beside her. "One with arthritic femora and tibias."

"How old are the dental records we received?" Booth asks, looking back and forth between Bones and the road.

"The last X-rays were taken right before Aleesha went off to college, according to Officer Kenney's report," she says, reading off the screen. "Maybe she saw a dentist in Haverford as well. If we can get a copy of those records, confirm that we have the correct teeth, that will settle it."

"So … if the dental records are correct … and these are Aleesha's remains … and there's no way Aleesha had osteoarthritis in her … leg bones …"

"Then we have two murders. Two victims. And another set of remains to find."

They share a long glance, both surprised by this sudden turn of events.

"Whoa," says Booth. "I better call Parker."

"And I better call Mr. Bray …"



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Chapter 80 And One More For Good Measure

"Dr. Brennan," Bones answers her cell, which rang just as she was about to call Wendell.

"It's Wendell," says the voice on the other end. "Hello, Dr. Brennan. I have some interesting information for you. I apologize for not calling sooner, but I wanted to be certain that I hadn't just made a mistake."

"I was just about to call you, Mr. Bray. It appears we have two victims." she says, getting straight to the point.

"That would explain the discrepancy with the patelae not matching the femora and the tibias. They do match each other, how ever. But … "

"Wendell, I want you to compare the patelae to the other bones. The first comparison I want you to do is to the cranium and the mandible. There is a possibility that the patelae and the skull belong to someone else."

"There's something else I found. The femora and the tibias seem to match each other in color and density. However, the fibulae match more closely with the patelae than with the femora and the tibias."

"That IS interesting, Mr Bray."

"One final thing, I started with the inferior aspect of the remains and worked proximally toward the superior aspect. Before careful examination of each bone individually, I counted the number of bones. This skeleton has 207," Wendell pauses.

"Two hundred and seven bones?"

"That is correct. I counted sixteen times. I had Officers Benton and Kenney observe me and count along with me."

"This is not completely outside the realm of possibility. Many people have 205 or 207 bones. But it is extremely uncommon. Babies have around 270 bones before fusing during maturation. This girl is past the age where a bone would not have fused. Count them again. This time get my red roll of tape from the tool box, cut a slice of red tape and place it on each bone to ensure you are not counting one twice."

"Certainly, Dr. Brennan. But I think you should know that I may have identified the extra bone. This bone would have been very noticeable. There appears to be an extra intermediate phalanx for the right digitus secondus. It was hard to see at first because there are 27 bones in the hand, 14 of which are phalanges. The right hand has 15 phalanges."

"And you checked, counted the phalanges of the left hand - it has the requisite number of phalanges?"

"Did you count and recount the phalanges of the feet?"

"Each foot has 14 phalanges as well."

"So we have an extra intermediate phalanx for the right digitus secundus. Fascinating," she says, thinking for a moment. "What will you do next, Mr. Bray?"

"I will compare the color and density of the rogue phalanx to our two other sets of bones."

"Correct. How far have you gotten in preparing the bones for transport?"

"Well, the discovery of the additional phalanx devoured part of my morning. I have inventoried and documented all 207 bones. The three cases are prepared with clay. I have secured the 26 bones of the feet - all bones present and accounted for. The fibulae, tibias, femora, radii, ulnae, coccyges, sacra, humeri, and the innominates. I skipped the hands - figured you would want to see them yourself."

"Go on …" she prompts him, staring out the windshield as he provides his report.

"That is as far as I have gotten, Dr. Brennan. I apologize for not having more completed …"

Bones does not detect Wendell's need for affirmation, and moves on.

"What about the soil samples?" she asks.

"Spent an hour on the phone with Hodgens."

"Did you video conference?"

"Um, no. Do we have that equipment here?" he asks, looking around what is now a big white tent surrounding the hole.

"Bones, WE have the only video conferencing equipment here with us," says Booth. He's been listening intently to this side of the conversation as he drove to Rita's Water Ice and is now parked in the lot outside the small window-fronted store. He sees who he assumes must be Bonita Lucas sitting at a small table, nervously chewing on the ends of her dish water blond hair.

"Right …" says Bones, looking at Booth and nodding. "Mr. Bray, we do have the equipment but it is here with me and Booth.

"I took 365 digital photos of the bones. I'll send them to you as soon as we get off the phone. Do you want me to finish packaging the bones and send them?"

"Yes. No. Yes! Send all but the right hand, one each of the tibias and femora, and the cranium and the mandible. The rest can go. Cam will arrange the delivery for you and provide confirmation and tracking numbers to us."

"You got it. I should have the remaining bones packed and ready to go in about two hours," says Wendell.

"Mr. Bray?" says Bones.

"Yes, Dr. Brennan?"

"Have you eaten anything today?"

"I had a small lunch on the way out to the the college … earlier this morning."

"Mr. Bray, have Officer Kenney take you to The Grog. On me. But don't have the Ambrosia Burger - or more than one crab cake sandwich."

"Awesome! Thanks. You know, I think she kinda likes me."

"Of course she does, mathematically you are a fine specimen and most likely a good breeder. Besides, if you're good enough for Angela, you're prime real estate, Mr Bray. Be back in one hour."

They hang up.

"That was very sweet of you, Bones. Making sure he eats," he smiles and nods his head, impressed with her generosity.

"Don't give me too much credit, Booth. His brain is no good to me if it's starved of nutrients."

"You're one to talk … " he says.

"I eat!" she asserts as they both get out of the SUV.

"Uh huh. And what is the color of the sky in your world, Bones?



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Chapter 81 In English This Time, Please

"Bones," says Booth, sidling up beside her at the front of the car. "I believe that's Bonita over there with the yellow thingy in her hair." He describes what she's wearing as he inconspicuously looks around the parking lot.

She cranes her neck to see past him.

"Could you be a little less obvious? I can't take you anywhere."

"And yet you continue to. Why are we standing out here like this? Let's go talk to her. Get this over with so we can get home."

"No - then we have to see that other chick - at 6:30 or something," he says, looking to his wrist and rubbing around the space where his watch is supposed to be.

"When do I get my watch back?"

"When I give it back. Why are we waiting? This is some kind of test, isn't it? See if she'll come to us? But what would that tell us, Booth?" She looks perplexed but ready to learn at the feet of the master.

"We're here," he says, hands on hips, looking straight at her, some urgency to his voice, "So you can tell me what all that mumbo jumbo was on the phone with Wendell."

"Oh, okay. Wendell found that the intermediary ..."

Booth holds up his hand in front of her face, closes his eyes, and says slowly and quietly, "In ENGLISH, please. Right? Remember? Good looking jock here." He looks at her expectantly.

"Right," she smiles and nods, "Okay. The knee caps don't match the thigh and shin bones - we know that already. Well, the thin outer bone right next to the shin bone - the fibula - doesn't match the other leg bones. But it DOES match the patellae, um, I mean the knee caps. More interestingly - perhaps - depending how all this turns out., ...

"Rap it up bones," he says, making the universal fumble sign. "Twenty words or less ..."

Bones stands there, looking up into the sky, silently counting on her fingers.

"It was a figure of speech, Bones - you can USE more than twenty words - just make it short and sweet ..."

"Wendell found an extra hand bone with the skeleton. It doesn't belong to the other hand or the two feet. How much you wanna bet it matches either the patellae ... or the thigh and shin bones?"

"Thank you, Jesus! We have lift off. Okay ... next contestant is right over there ..."

"So that really wasn't a test ...?"



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Chapter 82 The Serial Monogamist

"Bonita Lucas?" Booth approaches the dishwater blond with one yellow scrunchie holding three braids together at the back of her head. Her face is clean, clear of makeup. Her limbs are long and thin. She's been working on devouring a Sundae like she hasn't eaten in three days.

"Yes, that's me," Bonita says, standing up, a dribble of vanilla ice cream on her chin. As she carefully wipes it away with her second finger, then licks that same finger, she leans forward across her table and offers her hand.

"I'm Special Agent Seeley Booth and this here's Dr. Brennan." He manages to avoid shaking her hand by flashing his badge. Bones, however, is not so lucky. She shakes the girl's hand and can't figure out what to do with the moist stickiness she's just acquired. She takes out her bag and roots for a handi-wipe.

"My friends call me Bonnie," she says, quietly, and sits down.

"Thank you for meeting with us," says Booth, as he and Bones pull out chairs opposite Bonnie and sit down. The chairs make a fingernails-on-chalkboard screech as the slide across the floor. "As you know, we are interested in the disappearance of Aleesha Grimes back in 2006."

"Yes?"

"Bonnie," begins Bones, noticing Bonnie's body language and concluding that she is either shy or frightened. Or Both. "Bonnie, the reason we are here is that we've found remains of a female who seems to match the size, age, and description of Aleesha Grimes," she begins, watching for any reaction. "She was found on the campus of Haverford College just outside of Philadelphia."

"Oh my God! That was Aleesha? Oh my God!," Bonnie's hand is over her mouth and her eyes have grown to the size of silver dollars. "I heard about that. Oh my God! So this means she really is dead? She didn't run off with that "boyfriend" of hers," she says, making air quotation marks when she says the word, "boyfriend."

"What? Was he a bunny rabbit? What is this for," asks Bones, mimicking the air quotation marks.

"It means," explains Booth, "That Bonnie, here, thought there was something suspicious about Aleesha's relationship with whoever this guy was. Am I right, Bonnie?"

"Suspicious isn't the half of it. I never saw the guy, but she said he had a lot of nice things. Aleesha changed men like some girls change purses. You know, not as frequently as you change shoes, but a couple times a year - seasonally, I guess you could say."

"Did any of you meet this guy? What did he look like?" asks Booth.

"Um, I think Chicka saw him pick her up once. Said he looked kinda creepy. I thought maybe he took off with her, but then Chicka said she saw him at Wal-Mart three weeks after Aleesha went missing."

"Hm. We're meeting with Chicka next. We'll ask her about him then. Did Aleesha have any jealous ex-boyfriends? Anyone who would want to harm her? Any threats she may have received?" asks Booth.

"Everyone Leesha left was devastated. She could have had any guy she wanted. She was cute, skinny, perfect lips, fairly stacked for a dancer, excellent posture, big smile, and not too shy to share the goods."

"You mean she helped other people out by sharing her groceries?" asks Bones, wondering what that had to do with anything.

"No - she was promiscuous, loose, easy, generous with the benefits, et cetera, et cetera," says Bonnie as if she's ratting out a competitor. She stabs the only remaining hunk of vanilla ice cream and lets the plastic red spoon stand like a flag pole on a hill top as she continues. "Well, not exactly promiscuous, really, if you compare her to most the girls we graduated with … but she had a lot of boyfriends. She was SERIALLY promiscuous. Yeah, that's what she was. She'd stick with one guy for a while - always faithful to him - but before you changed out your wool sweaters for the spring catalog, she was on to the next," she says, proud of her own metaphor - or something else neither Bones nor Booth were privy to. After a moment she continued. "Actually, she never moved right on to the next man-feast. She had time off between guys. Like she took time picking out her next prey."

"Are you suggesting she targeted guys, had a process, chose particular men who fit her specifications?" asks Bones.

"You know what? That is a good way to describe it. She wasn't the brainy type, but she knew what she wanted. Older, accomplished, established, financially set … the works. It didn't even matter if he was hot. If he met her criteria, he was fair game. Sometimes she even dated married men."

"Did she ever mention anything about being pregnant or wanting to encourage a guy to make a commitment?"

"You make it sound so devious!" Bonnie says. "No - she was a real straight shooter, as my dad used to say."

"Wha - I'm a straight shooter. And I'm rarely devious …" comments Bones, looking at Booth, then back to Bonnie.

Booth looks back at Bones and continues to ask questions of Bonnie.

"Do you recall her ever mentioning a professor at the college?"

"Yeah - that was about a year before she disappeared. She had this thing for her Astronomy prof. He was totally not her type. She said she was cleansing her palate."

"Now THAT I understand," says Bones, with a small chuckle. "She must have had a disappointing experience with her usual type and decided to try something completely different before returning to the pattern. Do you recall if she had specific reasons for going for this palate-cleansing guy?"

"George Norland," Bonnie says, nodding. "He was really - wow. He was hot, hot, hot. And a total douche. He had the looks, the gear, the technology - every new toy on the market. But he liked to spread the joy around."

"Another person sharing their possessions - this is not at all what college was like when I was getting ANY of my degrees," Bones says, dropping both of her hands onto the table, perplexed.

"Bones, once again, I think she means he was a little Free with the Willy. You know, dipping his stick in more than one tank."

"Booth, your attempt at metaphor is disappointing. Good thing you like your day job - and that is NOT a metaphor," Bones looks at Booth. He looks back at her, mouth hanging open a lit. "And close your mouth, you're catching flies. How's that for a metaphor? It means you look stupid."

No one says anything for a moment.

"Now lets get this over with, Bonnie. This George Norland. He was a disappointment to Aleesha - the reason she tried something different. Do you know where we can find him?"

"No idea. He was an older than average student. He'd been in the army or something like that."

"Okay - what about the professor? How long was she with him? And did it end badly? Who followed him? And do you know how we can reach any of these people?" Bones asks, peaking at her watch, Booth's watch, for the tenth time in as many minutes.

"Am I keeping you from something?" Bonnie asks.

"Not at all …" Booth says.

"Yes, actually," Bones says at almost exactly the same time Booth responds. "We do have somewhere we need to be … and soon. So … what can you tell us?"

"Bones, a word …" says Booth, getting up from the table, indicating with a nod that she should follow him.

"Give her a chance to answer a question before you shoot the next one at her! What is with you? If you've got a small bladder - the restroom's over there. And relax, for Christ's sake. We don't meet Chick-Fil-A until 6:30. We have plenty of time!"

"Not as far as I'm concerned!" she says. "Now Bonnie …" she directs at her, walking back to the table and sitting down. "You've had a chance to think - got any information that might be helpful to us?"

"Uh, what were the questions?"

Bones looks at her (Booth's) watch once again and catapults a couple of you-have-got-to-be-kidding darts from her eyes.

"Uh, well, okay." Bonnie swallows, feeling the pressure. "Uh, She was with the Astronomy teacher about four months, but they were still cordial afterwards. There wasn't, like, a fight or anything. His name was Spanish or Italian. One of those romance languages. But he looked totally American. I signed up for one of his physics classes, but dropped the first week. Too much thinking can make you ugly, you know."

"Well, that's just utter bull crap," says Booth, in defense of beautiful forensic anthropologists the world over.

"Let it go, Booth," says Bones, waving a hand toward him, but maintaining eye contact with Bonnie. "Now - I think we know who the professor is. What about the guy after him? Name? Rank? Serial number? Let's go, Blondie!"

You'll have to excuse my partner, she's had a little too much … forget it - just excuse her." Booth kicks Bones sideways under the table, and shoots her a look that says, basically, WTF - but not in so many words as to render the comment more adult than PG-13.

Bonnie is confused, concerned, nervous, at this point. "The guy after the professor was … I think that was the last guy she dated before disappearing. Like I said, I thought she might have taken off for good with that one."

"Hm … " grunt both Bones and Booth at the same time.

"Did we miss anything Booth? Can we go now?" asks Bones, standing up and stepping backwards.

"Thank you for your time, Bonnie. MAy we call you if we have any further questions?"

"Sure," she says, looking from one then to the other of her interviewers. "Is that it?"

"It is for now," he says, "Here's my contact information in case you think of anything else that might be important." He hands her a business card with the official FBI seal on it.

"What the hell is your problem, Bones?" Booth says once they are back in the SUV. He looks at her like she's a child who just painted a green elephant on an antique Persian rug.

"I think we both know who the professor was . . . "
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PostSubject: Re: The When and the How: A Bone to Pick ... read it here!   Thu Aug 09, 2012 11:06 pm

Chapter 83 Life is a Puzzle

"Lets go get something to eat," says Booth, as he turns left onto Laurel Fort Meade Road, then right onto Russett Gren West.

"Where are you taking us?" asks Bones.

"No where," he answers. "Just driving around while we make a decision!"

"You're cranky."

"I'm not cranky!"

"See, only a cranky person would say "I'm not cranky" in that tone of voice."

Booth continues driving. Bones watches him, his jaw tightening, loosening, tightening again. He's quiet. There's a war going on inside his head, she knows. He always tilts his head slightly to the right and purses his lips. And doesn't say anything for a while.

"Booth …"

He turns his head and looks at her. "Hm?"

"Penny for your thoughts," she says giving him an open smile. She continues to watch him as he drives.

"Do you ever feel like quitting a case?" Booth asks. "Have you ever felt that way?" He looks at her sideways. She knows that he's not really looking for an answer, he's working something out. This is how he processes. He usually then makes some statements - usually about life, in general, or the injustices of whatever it is they are working with at the time. She watches him. Waiting.

"Sometimes, when things start getting complicated, and there are too many people involved in the case … I don;t mean the squints. I don't mean us. I mean the witnesses. The witnesses who didn't see anything. The loved ones who didn't file a missing person's report. The employer who is obviously hiding something, but you just can't get it out of him. The douche ex-boyfriend who couldn't care less."

He looks at her. She's tilted her body toward him to make it easier to look at him for an extended amount of time. She purses her lips. Nods her head. This is her compassionate look. He's seen it many times. It is genuine. And he feels safe.

"There's a time when … it's like the case is this enormous 5,000 piece puzzle, like the kind Pops always had set up on the dining room table. When all the pieces are put together, you know the puzzle will reveal the killer and the story behind what happened." He pauses for a moment, staring out the front window shield. "Don;t get me wrong. I LOVE what we do. I LIVE for what we do. The messiness energizes. The mystery intrigues me, 99.9% of the time."

"But there's this point, toward the beginning, when all you've been able to connect are the edges, you know, because they have a straight edge, and maybe part of the sky, right? - because the blue always goes on top. But there are pieces everywhere," he continues, gesturing with his right palm to the sky, moving through the air from the left to the right, finally resting on the console between them. "Sometimes, when there are so many people involved - when you can't even imagine how it will all hang together in the end … when you meet someone you actually, you genuinely, like who is involved in the case. And you really don't know what part they play - because people do unpredictable things. And you just never know."

There it is, thinks Bones. That's what is bothering him. The potential loss of a new friend. One of the inevitabilities of their job.

He looks at Bones. She smiles compassion in his direction once again.

"There's a sadness," says Bones quietly.

"Yes, there's a sadness," he answers in surprise. She nailed it right on the head. "Do you ever feel that way?"

Bones takes a slow, deep breath in, exhaling the same way, her shoulders rising and falling with each subsequent breath.

"Yes, Booth," she says, now looking out the front window shield, then back at him. "I do. And maybe a little anxiety."

"You get good at shrugging it off. But sometimes, for maybe a split second," he says, pinching his fingers together like you would if you were adding a pinch of seasoning to a recipe in progress, "I think about quitting the case. Giving it to someone else. Moving on to the next one."

They sit companionably as he continues to drive.

"Did Pops ever finish any of those puzzles?" says Bones, watching him.

"Are you kidding? He had a room in the basement that was a shrine to all the puzzles he'd completed," Booth says, smiling at the memory. "He'd get the things shellacked and put in frames sometimes. It was crazy. I mean, who has that kind of patience?" as he's describing this to Bones, he looks from her to the road and back.

"You do, Booth," she says, putting her hand on his shoulder. "I've seen it approximately 100 times. You are a very patient man." She smiles a slow sweet smile at him again, removing her hand from his shoulder and looking out her door window. "That's what makes you so good at what you do."She lets that hang in the air for a while. "You and Pops are a lot alike, Booth. You both always finish your puzzles. You just don't have a trophy room like he does."

Booth is touched. And validated. Staring straight ahead, he says, "Thanks, Bones," then looks at her and smiles.

"Now, can we turn around and get out of this neighborhood you've driven us into? I saw a Thai restaurant down Baltimore-Washington Parkway."

"Thai, it is, partner," he says. Then, looking at her once again, he says, "It amazes me sometimes how you get me … you understand me, on occasion." He grins at her, the mood changing to one of joviality.

"I understand you a lot of the time, Booth!" she says, giving him and indignant little sideways shove.

"Do not!"

"Do too!"

"Do not, I win."

"Booth, just because I don't say out loud every little thought that comes into my head, doesn't mean I don't get you. I'm just a little more private about my thought than you are," she says, smugly.

"Oh yeah? What am I thinking right now, with this expression on my face," he says, pinching his lips together and furrowing his brow.

"What? You're constipated? I don't know. But I'll bet you're gonna tell me any minute," she says looking out the window."

"I won."

"No, you didn't!"

"Yes, I did. You didn't know what I was feeling just then, with that face. I won."

"If it will make you happy - you won, but that doesn't make it true."

"What did I win? Huh, what do I win.?"

"You're gonna get Russ' famous knuckle sandwich if you don't shut up …!"



◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊ CHAPTER BREAK ◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊°◊◊



Chapter 84 Sometimes I Feel Like a Foreign Translator

"Here it is, 9650 Justin Lane. Looks like Chickedy-Do-Da is home," says Booth, coming to a stop at the curb in front of a three bedroom, two bath, grey, wrap-around wood porch, colonial home.

"How can you tell?"

"A house like this? No way the owner drives a 1984 Toyota All-Track. The man that pays the bills is more the 2010 Audi A4 Sedan," he says, leaning across the console and looking past her at the house and neighborhood. "Nope. The All-Track is for the twenty year old daughter. Bet you five bucks."

"Oh, I learned long ago not to bet against you, Seeley Booth. Not if I want to keep my money," she says, chuckling as she unlocks her seatbelt and opens her car door. "Ready?" she says to him, because he's still not moving.

"Yep, let's get 'er done," he says, straightening up and taking the keys out of the ignition. He beeps the SUV locked and heads for the driveway. "Man I could get used to that sound," he says, with a grin. He beeps the SUV unlocked, then locked again, then locked, finally. he tosses the keys up in the air and catches them, all while taking long strides toward Bones who is ahead of him almost to the front door.

"Do you mind if we sit outside n the porch?" asks the diminutive red head after introductions are made. "My dad works nights at Harmon Glass and he's sleeping in the bedroom right above the living room.

"That would actually be nice after a day inside the car and various other places. Thank you," says Booth, stepping back to follow her. "Lead the way," he says.

Booth and Bones make a b-line for the wicker davenport that slides back and forth when you sit down or push against the floor with your foot.

"Whoa! Now that's what I'm talkin' about!" exclaims Booth, sitting and gliding, poking the cushions to see how comfortable they are. "Check this out, Bones! Do you think these things come any longer than this?" he says looking at Chicka. "I would sleep on the porch in the cool summer air every night if I had one of these babies, he says to Bones in awe."

"Really? I always thought they were kind of old fashioned," says Chicka, sitting across from them on the matching rocker, tucking one foot under herself.

Booth can't help gliding them back and forth. Eventually, Bones says, "Booth, I'm gonna be sick if you don't cut that out." He stops. "Thank you," she says, and looks toward Chicka who is enjoying the show.

"You two are cute," she says, with a smile that says she's got them pegged. "How long have you been together?"

Booth and Bones answer at the same time, talking over each other.

"Six years."

"Forever."

"It's been six years, Booth."

"Feels like forever … sometimes."

"And they let you work together?" Chicka shoots them a questioning look.

"What's that supposed to mean?" asks Bones, not sure if she should be offended or not. "Isn't that what you just asked?"

"I think that she means …. you know," Booth says, turning to Bones, "sometimes I feel like a foreign language interpreter, Bones …"

"Focus, Booth," she reminds him curtly, then gives Chicka a little pretend smile.

"You'll have to forgive my partner," she says. "He's been shopping for six months and just can't decide on anything he likes." She gives Booth one of those, "Pull yourself together, man" looks.

"But if you were asking how long we've been having sexual intercourse, the answer is that we're not. Having sexual intercourse. Not that we haven't thought about it, but …"

"Geez! What is there to think about? Man! Just get a room. Before you're too old," she says, enjoying keeping them on the edge. "Before you're grandparents!"

"Surely you know that would be impossible, Chicka. Didn't they teach you anything at that high school of yours? In order be grandparents we would have had to engage in sexual intercourse multiples times - though conception is technically plausible after as few as one incidence of coitus, but not commonly resulting in conception. We would have had to produce and rear offspring to the age of sexual maturity. Those off spring would then have to get married, though marriage is not technically necessary to create the state of parenthood, though it is preferable and creates a greater likelihood that the offspring will survive, even thrive … I digress, where was I?" she says, then continues, while both Booth and Chicka stare at her as if she were growing a second head right out of the side of her face. "… Anyway, our sexually mature offspring would have to engage in sexual intercourse many times - if they want multiple children, that is. And then, once our off spring produce off spring, we would become grandparents."

Chicka looks at Booth. "Is she for real?"

"Oh yeah, she's quite serious," he says, pulling his little notepad and a pen out of his pocket.

"I'm not always serious. I can be quite entertaining," argues Bones.

"No body said you weren't entertaining, Bones," he says, then directs his attention on Chicka.

Chicka, however, is not finished. "Seriously, dude, get the job done before she explodes. I know

Getting serious, Booth explains to Chicka why they asked to meet her and provides some of the details about the remains.

"Can you tell us about the last boyfriend Aleesha had?"

"His name was, is, Slade, if you can imagine that. Who names their kid Slade?" Booth and Bones give each other a look that says "this from a woman named "Chicka?"

"She met Slade at Haverford. He was older though. No idea what he was studying. I think he was just there to meet girls. How's that for a switch on an old tune?"

"Do you mean the antiquated belief that women from upper, middle and lower class families attend college for the sole purpose of finding a mate?" says Bones.

"Yeeeees," says Chicka.

"Okaaaaaaay," says Bones.

"Chicka," Booth steps in. "Do you anything else about Slade? His last name, where he lives or works?

"I believe he works in Upper Darby, you know, outside the city. He sells some kind of electronics in a little place in a strip mall. Aleesha said he had access to a lot of laptops, stereo equipment, computers, televisions, even cell phones. He took stuff home all the time."

Agent Booth, I always got the impression he was just a tool. I think he talked a big talk, and that's how he got into Aleesha's pants, but when it came down to it, he wasn't for real."

"Do you know of any fights they had?"

"When she found out that a lot of the stuff at his house wasn't really his, she freaked. I heard her on the phone shrieking at him. I couldn't even understand what she was saying. I'd never seen her like that before. It was strange."

"When was that," asks Booth.

"Two days before she disappeared," she answered. "OhmyGod! Holy Bovine Feces! Holy copulating bovine feces!" Chicka looks around as if she thinks he's going to jump out of the bushes and bite her. She thrusts her hands underneath her thighs, her shoulders shoot up to her ears. "Am I in danger now that I've told you this? What if he finds out? I saw him once, you know …" she says, shivering involuntarily. "He was at the mall, over there, not far from Rita's where we all used to hang out after school. That was before Aleesha went to Haverford, of course. He was alone. Ooooow. Creepy! She says scrunching up her face, then looking around again."

"Have you seen him since then?" asks Booth, doodling a bit on his notepad to make it look official somehow.

"No. Never. Thank God!"

"Chicka, did you ever meet any of her other boyfriends?"

"There was a professor at Haverford. She was ga-ga for him. Totally whipped. But I always got the impression they never slept together. He was married. Not that that would stop Aleesha."

"What about these trips she went on with him. Germany, two other places," Bones asks.

"Huh! Those were research related. Dr. What-ever-his-name-was - I think his first name is Enrique - that's what she called him. Enrique. You'd think he was Enrique Iglesias, the way she lusted after him…" she pauses for a moment, remembering something else. "Okay, the research trips, they were always to cool places - and Chicka loved traveling - thought it made her exotic. Any who, she was pretty upset when Dr. Enrique didn't ask her to go with him on the trip to Chilé. She said she begged him to do her this one last solid, but he wouldn't budge. I don't think she ever talked about him again after that. Most likely, he went on his trip and by the time he returned she's moved on to the next guy."

"One more question. How did she seem, that night at Rita's? Was she depressed? Excited?" Booth asks.

"No, she was just the same old Aleesha. Always plotting. Always planning…"

"Did she say anything about where she might have been going that evening?"

"She was heading home to watch San Francisco Crime Investigators. It was coming on at 9. She left at 8:30."

"And she walked?"

"Actually, not may people know this, but she had been training for the Laurel half marathon. She thought her boobs made her look fat. She was trying to drop a couple of pounds."

"Interesting," says Booth.

"Yes. Very interesting," says Bones.

"Chicka, do you have any photos of you three together, you Bonny and Corrine?" asks Bones, standing up, putting her bag over her shoulder, preparing to leave.

"Sure, wait right here," she says, jumping up and running into the house, up the stairs.

Booth remains seated. he leans back and lays his arms across the top of the davenport and sighs, pushing himself back and forth with his foot.

"Booth?"

"Hmm?" he grunts, biting his lower lip and turning his face up to her.

"Do you need to be alone with the glider for a couple minutes?"

"Ha, ha," Booth fake laughs. "You gotta admit this is great, right. Can you imagine this? We could have one in the living room, one on the wrap around porch …"

"Booth, you don't HAVE a wrap around porch."

"But I could one day," he replies.

"Booth, I can't take you anywhere!"

"And yet you continue to. Oh, there's Chicka Flicka," he points behind Bones, through the screen door.

"Shhhhhh, Booth. That is really rude," she reprimands him.

"She didn't hear me."

"SHH!

"Hey, by the way, good lie. Scary good. For a minute I believed you. HAd a senior moment and thought I really had been looking for furniture - and had forgotten about it."

"Thanks. Let that be a warning to you. I can actually lie … though I hate doing it. If you weren't such a child I wouldn't have had to."

"Thanks for the photos, and your time this evening, Chicka. Can we call you if we have any more questions?" says Booth, handing her his card.

"Sure …"

"Call us if you think of something, anything, that might be useful for our investigation."

"I do have something to tell you," she says, taking Booth by the arm and holding him back as Bones walks off the porch. "Dude, she really does need to get laid."

"And that's really none of your business, Chicka."

"Well, soooory for being alive!"

"We do appreciate your help though. Have a good evening," he says as he steps off the porch and follows Bones to the SUV.

"What was that all about?" asks Bones as they hop up into the car and Booth pulls out onto Justin Lane.
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