The Boy in the Shroud
AN: A unique little original scene at the conclusion of this chapter- as opposed to me just 're-interpreting' a scene from the perspective of Booth-as-Angel-, but I felt that it was appropriate
"I assume you're familiar with the Shroud of Turin?" Angela asked, walking around the lab as Booth, Bones and Cam took up position about the laboratory table where Angela had draped the 'burial shroud' of their latest victim, an elaborate camera positioned above the shroud.
"Image of Christ's face on the inside of a burial cloth," Booth replied, briefly remembering the Shroud of Rahmon that had nearly driven him and Gunn to attack each other, to say nothing of what he'd almost done to Kate while under its influence; like every holy artefact, even the Shroud of Turin had to have its counterpart on the other side of the cosmic board, he supposed, even if he was still unclear on whether the Shroud of Turin was meant to have any kind of holy properties about it...
"Right, Booth's a good Catholic boy," Cam said, smiling slightly as she looked at him.
"It was revealed to be a hoax," Bones said in her usual blunt manner.
"It wasn't a hoax," Booth interjected, more out of habit than genuine belief; he believed more in the messages of Christianity rather than the specific details, but the denial helped his image of Seeley Booth as a Catholic attempting to atone for past sins.
"OK, whatever you want to believe..." Bones said, a slight smile in her voice.
"This is no hoax," Angela replied, pulling up a scan of the shroud and demonstrating a photo-negative of the features of their victim on the computer positioned at the side of the lab. "On the fabric covering John Doe's skull, there are tissue stains around the eye sockets, the nose and the mouth. This is essentially a photo negative of his features."
"Are you saying you have enough to assemble a face?" Cam asked, looking at Angela briefly before focusing her attention on the display in front of them.
"I call it the Shroud of Montenegro," Angela explained, a face slowly starting to appear on the projection behind her as she continued to talk, starting with the cheeks and chin before going on to display more detailed impressions of the eyes, mouth and hair of their victim. "I used computer tomography to create x- ray slices of the underlying facial architecture. Selective laser centering allowed me to map unimprinted areas. Skin tone and hair colour were extrapolated based on Doctor. Saroyan's data."
"I'm no expert," Bones said, studying the image that had emerged on the projection, which now showed a young man in his mid- to late teens with dark hair and a strong nose and chin, "but he sure doesn't look like a street kid."
Booth was just grateful that this particular shroud looked like it would inspire more peace than the last one he'd dealt with; if they could just find a way to avoid bringing up Cam's preconceptions about street kids without making Bones's past a topic of discussion, this whole thing could go forward without too many inter-departmental confrontations...
"Were you lying to the boy?" Bones asked, as they walked into her office after their talk with Kelly Morris's foster mother; somehow, both of them had silently agreed that this kind of conversation was best saved for the more professional atmosphere of her office rather than the car ride between the Jeffersonian and the FBI. "Do you really think Kelly Morris is still alive?"
"Ah, I don't know," Booth said with a slight shrug.
"You don't know if she's alive?" Bones asked, looking at him as she turned on the lights in her office.
"I don't know if I was lying," Booth corrected, Bones heading for her desk as he continued to speak. "Ya see, I just... I really don't have a read on the sister yet. I mean was she a bad guy? Was she a victim?"
"Well, do you have a read on Dylan Crane?" Bones asked, as she sat down behind her desk.
"Oh yeah," Booth said, shrugging nonchalantly at the question as he settled down on Bones's couch. "He had that whole adolescent saviour complex thing going on big time."
"Saviour complex?" Bones repeated as she opened a file on her desk, glancing over it even as she took in his words.
"Yeah, teenage boys love nothing more than the idea of saving the damsel in distress," Booth said, smiling briefly at the memory of some of Xander and Oz's actions; even when they'd been dealing with women who were more than capable of defending themselves- Buffy had her Slayer strength from the beginning, and Willow and Cordelia weren't exactly weak even if they'd initially been shaken at the discovery of the truth about the world they lived in-, those two couldn't resist the urge to protect their partners, the girls' safety always their priority...
"How do you know?" Bones asked, looking at him with a slightly quizzical smile.
"Well," Booth said, deciding to go with the most obvious 'real' explanation for that knowledge- even if he hadn't been that type of teenage boy when he'd actually been one-, "cause I was, ya know, I was a teenage boy."
"Hey," Cam said, entering the office and placing a file on Bones's desk. "DNA from the tissue under the victim's fingernail. Female. And there's nail polish in the gouges on his arm."
"Well, it wasn't necessarily from the murder," Bones pointed out, putting the paper back on her desk. "They were sexually active. She might've scratched him."
"Nope," Cam said with a firm shake of her head. "Hodgins also found oxidized iron in the scratches."
"Oxidized iron," Booth repeated, looking at his former (He remembered
dating her, even if it technically hadn't 'really' happened) girlfriend as he walked over to lean on Bones's desk. "What's that?"
"Rust," Bones and Cam said simultaneously, looking at him as though they were surprised he didn't know that already.
"Why didn't you just say rust?" Booth asked; why these women liked to go for the more complicated answers he'd never understand...
"Well, she said it," Bones pointed out defensively.
"The same oxidized iron found on the victim's upper back and shoulder," Cam clarified.
"Probably left behind by the weapon that stuck him," Bones suggested.
"So," Booth asked, standing up from the desk to look thoughtfully at Cam, "he was hit with... what? A rusty pipe?"
"That's a reasonable assumption," Cam confirmed.
"Oh, so Dylan tells the girlfriend they're breaking up-" Booth began, the most immediate possibility springing to his mind as he turned over the facts in his head.
"She whacks him across the carotid with a pipe-" Cam continued.
"And pushes him out the window," Booth finished.
"Exactly," Cam said.
"What?" Booth asked, noticing Bones's slightly stunned-and-annoyed glare as she stared at him and Cam. "What's with the stink eyes? It's just a theory."
"There was cheap nail polish in the box of Kelly's belongings," Bones said, apparently so incensed at his assessment that she didn't even want to respond to his question. "You should see if there's a match."
"Find some hair," Cam said, turning back to look at him. "Match the DNA on that then get started on the, uh, murder weapon."
"Yeah," Booth said.
Without saying a word to them, Bones got up from her chair, picked up her jacket and headed for the door to her office.
"Where are you going?" Booth asked, looking at his partner in concern as she paused in the door to grab her lab coat.
"I thought that before we arrest Kelly Morris for murder, based solely
on the fact that she's a foster kid, we might want to find the place where Dylan Crane actually died," Bones replied, shrugging on her coat as she looked at the two of them. "Point of fact, the pipe, if that's even what it was, was not the murder weapon. The evidence, if anybody cares, shows that Dylan Crane died from a fall."
As the forensic anthropologist walked out of the office, Booth could only look quietly at Cam.
He'd always known that Bones cared about the victims, but he'd never seen her that vocally passionate about anything that didn't involve protecting evidence.
Even after working with her on a constant basis for the better part of a year, there were times when Bones could still manage to surprise him...
As he watched Cam carry out the autopsy of Kevin Duncan in the side lab that had become Cam's 'territory' ever since she'd started working in the Jeffersonian, he was only slightly surprised to learn that she'd requested Zack's assistance in the case; the young man might be Bones's assistant, but Cam seemed to be making a surprisingly effective effort to bond with him despite his weird social skills, as well as encouraging him to operate slightly outside of his usual 'comfort zone' of focusing on purely skeletal remains.
"Feeling queasy, Zack?" Cam asked, as she felt her way through Duncan's cut-open chest.
"I'm not used to bodies looking so much like actual human beings," Zack clarified. Smiling slightly at him in response, Cam started to cut into the bone with the saw, leaving Booth to look away for a few moments as she worked; even after what he remembered Angelus doing, there were times when he just wasn't in the mood to see more post-death 'mutilation', no matter how much he understood the necessity.
"Since this man was just killed and there's plenty of flesh, how is my presence beneficial?" Zack asked, only for Cam to respond as she finished her work with the saw and pulled a bone out of the rib cage, a bullet obviously lodged in it, and placed it in a tray in Zack's hands.
"The number six rib," Zack said, looking at the new object in understanding.
"The bullet passed through his vital organs and lodged in the rear curvature," Cam explained. "Get it out."
Nodding in response, Zack turned to walk away from the body and out of the lab, leaving Booth and Cam alone in the lab once again.
"So," Booth said, taking advantage of the silence as Zack left, "you're thinking the perv kills Romeo, and Juliet kills the pervert?"
"Street smart kid like Kelly Morris would have no trouble getting her hands on a gun," Cam said, prompting a thoughtful murmur from Booth; he acknowledged the theoretical point that she was making, but he didn't exactly think it was fair to assume that foster children would have no trouble getting their hands on weapons; Gunn had been fairly street smart and he probably wouldn't know where to begin
to look for a gun (Even if that was mainly because he'd never bothered as it would have been relatively useless against his usual enemies).
"Booth," Cam said, drawing his thoughts away from alternative possible explanations for the current crime, "if Dr. Brennan were to quit..."
"What?" Bones said, looking up at her after a moment's silence had passed since her last statement, wanting to be sure he'd heard her correctly before he responded to her query.
"If she were to leave the Jeffersonian-" Cam elaborated.
"Well, the squints would flee this institution like the French Army," Booth finished for her.
"And you?" Cam asked.
"Well, I do as I'm ordered..." Booth said, smiling awkwardly at her.
"No, you don't, Seeley," Cam said, which at least answered one question Booth had about her knowledge of him; even if he was part of a chain of command these days, he still didn't like taking orders when he didn't agree with them...
"OK, here we go," he said, ignoring the implications of the train of thought inspired by her last statement as he stood up and walked over to stand more directly in front of the smaller woman. "What's going on, Camille?"
"What if I fired her?" Cam asked, looking down at the floor for a moment before focusing her attention back on him. "What would you do?"
Booth wondered what it was about his life that meant that he always had to choose between one romantic partner or another whenever he was in a situation where his ex met his current relationship. He'd been lucky enough to avoid getting into that kind of situation after he developed feelings for Cordelia- he and Buffy had met during that whole thing with the dragon and Jhiera's return, but considering Cordelia's absence from the hotel at the time it wasn't that big an issue as the two of them weren't in the same place at the same time even if Cordelia hadn't been possessed at that point-, but when Buffy and Darla had come face-to-face he'd made the choice to save Buffy by staking Darla...
"I'm with Bones, Cam," he said, giving the pathologist the truthful response she was looking for. "All the way. Don't doubt it for a second."
"Meet the English Alba Rose," Hodgins said, walking into the lab before Cam could respond to his last statement- which at least spared Booth the complication of being potentially asked to define the reason for his chosen 'allegiance'-, a long-stemmed white rose in his hand. "Climbing varietal, nonexistent in the United States. Some say, it was the rose by any other name Shakespeare wrote about."
"And we give a rat's ass because...?" Booth asked, looking critically at the entomologist; if he was going to be interrupted during a difficult conversation, he'd like it to be for a good reason.
"It's what Dylan Crane was clutching in his cold, dead hand," Hodgins clarified.
"So... what?" Cam asked. "He was killed by Hamlet?"
"Wrong play," Hodgins corrected with a smile. "It's more likely he paid a visit to the rose wing of the United States Botanic Garden."
"When it comes to bugs, slime, crud and compost," Cam said, smiling in approval at his discovery, "you're the man."
Bowing briefly at the Jeffersonian's new head, Hodgins laughed slightly before he turned around and left the lab, leaving them to continue their earlier conversation.
"Look, Cam," Booth said, deciding to take a chance to tackle the previously-discussed issue as Hodgins left the lab, "maybe you just got off on the wrong foot with this case with Brennan because, uh... she was a foster kid."
"Oh," Cam said, looking upwards awkwardly and sighing in understanding as she processed this new information. "Why didn't she tell me?"
"She doesn't do that," Booth said, getting up from where he'd been leaning against a counter and walking towards the lab door, pausing as he reached a point beside Cam to lean over and address her in a lower voice "Oh, by the way, I didn't just tell you that."
Cam merely nodded in response as he continued to walk out of the lab, leaving him to wonder if what he'd done would make any difference to the relationship between his partner and her boss in the longer run...
Sitting in his apartment that night, Booth wondered how he should feel about the conclusion of the case.
He might have solved the murder, but the fact that that the whole mess had just been the result of a kid brother trying to protect his sister based on a misinterpretation of the facts...
It was almost more tragic that the 'Romeo and Juliet' analogies the team had been making throughout this whole case; at least they'd known about the dangers they were facing in trying to be together from the beginning, but Dylan and Kelly had just wanted to be together and give Alex a chance, and everything went wrong because he didn't realise what they were trying to do...
Still, at least Dylan and Kelly had tried to take the chances offered to them; they might not be together now, but they had been in a position where they'd had the chance, and they'd tried to take it.
People might call him a sap, but after everything he'd been through in his relationships with Buffy and Cordelia, both of which had fallen apart before he could really start something with Cordelia or due to horrific outside circumstances for Buffy, he liked to know that there were some people out there who still wanted to at least try
for that ever-elusive 'happy ever after'.
Love might not be all you needed, but if you had it, it made everything else seem possible... but sometimes, as Harmony had tried to point out to Wesley during the dark day of Illyria's resurrection and Fred's death, all you could do was enjoy the fact that you'd had the love of the love of your life for a time.
Booth just hoped that Kelly would find someone else to help her in that manner again eventually...