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Strange Happenings, Solo Stories!
Posted: Jan 27 2017, 11:11 PM
I'm going to be posting the solo stories between my characters here. There will probably be chapter'd installments because that's just how I do.
1: Title Page
2: The Watcher of Bones :: Chapter 1
3: The Watcher of Bones :: Chapter 2
4: The Watcher of Bones :: Chapter 3
5: The Watcher of Bones :: Chapter 4
6: The Watcher of Bones :: Chapter 5 - Final
Posted: Jan 27 2017, 11:15 PM
Rupert Giles was content to have quiet dinners alone. He was a simple man, with very simple needs, and they rarely included going out of company. Maybe he had just taught himself that being alone was better, and certainly easier, as the Council had always tried to teach. Once upon a time, he had not been fit to listen to them. Not ready, not old enough to understand why they could be so cruel. How could they expect a man to live a life entirely alone?
Even now, he was cheating. He had friends. Colleagues. Loved ones. People that might have passed for his children in another life. He lived well, and could not complain about it, even if he did end all of his days the same way. Alone in his flat. Coming to this new world had not, as it turned out, changed that. There had been a glimmer for a moment, a bright spark of green, but it faded and vanished, and now he endured as though it had never existed in the first place. It burned, sometimes, deep in his chest, but the scarred tissue there protected him from too much pain.
So, imagine his surprise when his table for one at a small restaurant, away from Granny’s diner and the usual crowds that gathered there, doubled its seating capacity without his consent.
She sat down quickly, thumping the chair and possibly her knee against the underside of the table as she settled. He looked up from his book with a start, staring wide eyed at her as she leaned toward him from across the table one elbow resting on the edge, the other arm down by her side. He half expected her to inform him she had a gun under the table, and this was a robbery. A very oddly timed and wholly inconvenient robbery. Instead, she stared at him for a long, uncomfortable moment before she abruptly stood up again.
“I’m sorry,” she said tensely, and he got the sense that it was not a word she was very familiar with saying, “I was mistaken. I recognized you as someone else…”
He could tell she was lying.
She moved away from the table then, hand lingering on the edge of the chair she had invaded so ineptly, still staring at him. Her eyes were round and a piercing blue, peering out at him almost daringly from beneath dark eyelashes. Her expression was stern, as serious as the grave. Though, in Giles’ experience, graves could often give way to utterly silly things, and he was not sure why that turn of phrase popped into his mind. He’d once seen a clown rise from a grave, digging his way out with oversized gloves, squeaking all the while.
Where had she gone?
Startled that he’d managed to distract himself, he looked around and saw the woman moving to the door. He stood to follow, taking out his wallet and realizing she’d left money on the table. Paid for his tab, to encourage him to follow her? Why?
The Watcher had seen, and set, many traps in his life. He knew the warning signs, knew when to pause and weigh the dangers between each options as far as his response was concerned. He knew when to walk away, when to attack, and when to simply do nothing at all. In this moment, he had several choices he could make, but only two screamed loudly enough in his mind to draw his focus. The first was to sit back down and finish his meal. To let her go, into the night, and forget she had ever been there. She was drawing him into something, and he could decide in that moment that it was not something he wanted to be a part of. The second choice was the exact opposite.
He left an extra tip on the table and hurried to the door, pulling his coat off its resting place on the back of his chair as he went. He tugged it over one shoulder by the time he reached the door way, stepping out into the chill night air and glancing around. The restaurant was located squarely between two other businesses on either side. At the end of each side the roads turned and splintered off, creating a small, but perfectly symmetrical, block. There was not much pavement for him to scan, as it turned out, and he did not know if she had made it to one of those turns, or if he had missed his chance.
Heaving a sigh, his heart still thundering in his chest, Giles tugged the other arm of his coat on, settling the well worn coat over his shoulders and shoving his hands into his pockets. A very natural habit for him, particularly when he was in a bad mood or when he was confused about something. At this moment, he found he was in both frames of mind at once.
“Over here. Hurry!”
The voice came from his left, and he turned sharply to see a blue coat vanishing around the corner. He recognized it from the blur of her arrival at his table, his mind working backwards to pick up details his surprise may have otherwise allowed him to miss. He was called a Watcher for a reason, and his brain never failed to forget that, even when he was being an idiot, or falling for the normal trappings of life. She had been wearing a tight, even professional looking jacket over her clothes, drawn in and buttoned over the flat of her mid section. He remembered a logo on one side, just below the shoulder, but the lexicon of his studies did not immediately bring up a match for it. There had been writing, too. A name.
He was dissecting his memories as he ran after her, hurrying to catch up. He found her sprinting down the road by the time he reached the corner, and he had to work hard to keep himself from losing track of her. All that working out with his Slayer, though pitiful compared to what she could do, had done him a world of good. He found her slowing as they crossed a few more streets, heading out of the general area of town and into a less densely populated area where his warning signals probably should have started to go off.
They failed to do so.
At last she stopped, at the tree line of the forest. She was panting for breath, leaning on a tree and holding her hands on her sides. He caught up in only slightly better shape, huffing but working valiantly to seem like he was only slightly strained. His lungs, meanwhile, called him terrible names and kicked all of his other organs in a fit of pure rage.
“Who are you?” He asked, now that they were within ear shot. She looked at him, standing up straight and adjusting her coat. He read her name as she was saying it.
“Temperance Brennan. Doctor. I am a forensic anthropologist for the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington DC.”
“Forensic… DC? You’re a long way from home, then.”
“Your accent indicates that you are, as well. But I surmised you were of British descent, though the accent is still very strong. I need your help moving something.”
Giles was at a loss. He stared at her blankly, mouth hanging slightly open as a response failed to make itself known from his now thoroughly jumbled brain.
Dr. Temperance Brennan watched the curious Englishman with keen interest. She had been following him for longer than she wanted to admit, but in the pursuit of finding out more about this place, she had to do what was necessary. She needed help doing something more people would find thoroughly unpleasant, and needed someone who did not seem easily put off. She saw him carrying a book earlier in the day, leaving the library. It was a massive, old volume with strange markings on its cover. Some of them she had recognized from a few experiences with the occult, and random lessons from her paranoia favoring entomologist at the Institute.
Dark attracted dark: if he was like Hodgins, or even Fischer, then he would not be afraid of a dead body.
She followed him to the restaurant at a great distance, hoping not to draw his attention. He started reading the book when he sat down to eat, not even ordering anything for almost half an hour. An avid researcher, or just a really slow reader, he had seemed absolutely absorbed in his book. To get a look at what was really in the book, she staged mistaking him for someone. It was not her best performance, but sometimes staging things was a lot harder than when she went undercover with Booth and could really get into a character. Suddenly needing to fake something was a whole different kind of art, and not one she could claim to have mastered. Or even apprenticed in. Really, she wasn’t even a casual participant.
Really terrible, that was how people often described her lying, when she was too focused on it.
But she saw the gruesome pictures on the page, and decided he was the right kind of guy for the job. She took comfort in the things she recognized in his face, the markers of natural age and the story his bone structure told of his past, and his ancestry. Some of the faces in this place did not match the bones she could all but see underneath, their walks did not match their apparent point of origin. Their hair, their eyes, their build, their walks: nothing matched the way her anthropologically trained mind told her they absolutely should.
Which was just not possible.
At least he had followed her, though. She was hoping being mysterious, and her beauty, might work in her favor. Booth often tried to break down how simple a man’s mind really was, and she always listened. Even when he did not think she was, and he was just venting a frustration about how she had somehow managed to injure his very frail pride. She learned a lot about the heart of people from Booth, that metaphorical fantasy that he so desperately believed in. The heart. The gut. The instincts. Those were his fields. She had bones.
It was a shame he wasn’t here.
“Forgive me,” Giles said, clearing his throat and straightening his back, appearing taller and trying to display a kind of composure he did not actually feel, “but you need me to… lift… something for you? It wouldn’t happen to be a tree, would it?”
He motioned to the forest ahead of them.
“I hardly think you have the physical build to allow you to lift a tree,” Brennan replied, without the bland, vocal eye roll Giles had been anticipated, “and I have no use for one. Plus, your age would make that kind of activity inadvisable. I need you to lift a body. This way.”
She walked off, expecting him to follow her without giving him any of the information he needed after that statement. Every step she took was confident, her words hanging in the air behind her as he finally settled into an accepting stupor. His feet moved without his brain’s consent, and he found himself hurrying to fall into step beside her rather than following behind. He watched her, looking her over curiously.
One of the many talents a Watcher had to be trained in was the ability to read people. He could not feel any magic around her, which was the first and, usually, most important thing to note. He did not sense any darkness or evil intention. Her words had not been cynical, her voice lacking any sort of malice or mocking. Before, when she lied to his face about why she sat down, he had been able to see it immediately. Now, all he got from her was a strange kind of oblivious innocence and, however odd it was, the truth.
She really did need him to move a body.
Posted: Jan 28 2017, 01:10 AM
There was something oddly soothing in walking through a forest after sun set. At least for Giles, who took comfort in things that reminded him of the life he’d known for so long. Everything here in Storybrooke was upside down, this current encounter included, and he found himself almost missing the very unique terror of his own world. Sunnydale was a very dark place, where vampires prowled by night and random magic, demons, and world ending events happened regularly. It meant he, and his party of intrepid heroes, spent a lot of time in unsavory locations in the dead of night.
There was a warm familiarity to it now. He sighed at the idea that he would feel at home and comfortable in the graveyard during a rainstorm at midnight, but that was just how it would be.
It surprised him that the woman beside him also seemed to be comfortable, despite the fog rolling over the thick, crunching underbrush, the random snapping of twigs in the distance, and the darkness clinging to every shadow cast by the tall, sometimes gnarled and reaching trees. She walked with a very sturdy step, as sure of herself here as she likely was… where ever she came from. Washington DC, he supposed, though perhaps not the one he knew. To his knowledge, there was no such place as the Jeffersonian in his reality.
Not that he’d ever been there to check.
Brennan found the body largely on accident. Since she did not believe in fate or magic, she had no thoughts to spare to explanations that included them. She just happened to be in the right place at the right time for the body to become unearthed as a chunk of mud slide away from the rest of the hill, exposing enough of the arm, bent at the elbow and protruding like a small pyramid from the wet earth, for Brennan to spot it. Why had she been in the woods at all? A rush of curiosity and a poor decision to chase after it, and nothing else. It was a whim that had led to a much greater fortune, if anyone could call finding a dead body a stroke of good luck.
“Here it is,” she called, walking toward the slump of the hill, looking up at the small bit of elbow sticking out. It was discolored and dirty, looking very much like the roots and sticks around it, but she recognized it for what it was almost immediately. Giles, for his part, was not so well versed in the various stages of decay of bones, and did not recognize an elbow without its usual muscles and skin attached. He stared at the mud, looking ready to slide again at a moment’s notice, and then at the woman picking her way up the slope. Her legs were sinking into the muck, something Giles was not particularly looking forward to happening to him. He bent to remove his shoes and noticed hers, dainty and fairly clean considering their path, already sitting there.
When had she taken those off?
“Miss Brennan,” Giles called, tugging one of his shoes off and wobbling precariously. Nothing around them was particularly dry, so he was doing his best to avoid falling.
“Doctor,” she corrected absently.
“Dr. Brennan,” the Watcher amended with a stifled grunt, “are you quite certain there is a body here?”
Brennan turned her face toward him, stopping in her ascent, and he realized his error without fully understanding it. Clearly his question had the most obvious answer to it that there could possibly be, and he was a fool for asking it without seeing that answer right in front of him. Unfortunately, even knowing that he was an idiot for needing confirmation, he still could not see the proof as clearly as she could. Tenting his eyebrows and looking expectant, Brennan shook her head and pointed to the bone protruding from the muck. A small chunk of mud had fallen away from it, revealing a bit more of the arm.
Giles looked down at his feet and opted not to say anything more. Talking was just going to get him into trouble here, that he knew. He pulled off his other shoe and put the pair next to Brennan’s, noting that his own looked much more worn and damaged. He could not remember the last time he purchased a new pair, which was probably a bad thing. It also meant he would have been just find leaving them on, as there was no point trying to save them anymore, but he rather liked his old, reliable, beaten up shoes.
As if readying to dive into a pool, Giles took a breath and moved to join her on the hill. He climbed up slowly, making small noises of protest as the cold mud and the murky wetness it was steeping in flooded his pants and socks. He came to stand next to Brennan, who was already giving him another disapproving look.
“I need you on the other side, I can dig from this one,” she informed him sharply.
“Why am I doing this?” he asked aloud, his thoughts and a sudden flare of anger getting the better of his polite sensibilities. He trudged back down the hill and around a more insecure looking part of the softened area, then dragged himself back up the increasingly difficult hill. The more he walked and strained against the pressure of the clinging mud, the harder it was to move his feet. All his strength was being drained away, and it was starting to feel like he was trying to walk through concrete.
That was already solid.
“We need to slowly remove the remains from the mud as cleanly and carefully as we can. If we can keep the body intact, the process might be more difficult but the chance of losing pieces will be sufficiently lowered. There is some lingering flesh here, which is favorable in this instance, though I’ll remove it when I get back to the lab… or… well. Once we get it free. Since I don’t have my usual crews and equipment to help, you’re going to have to do. How are you at digging with your hands? Are your arms stronger than they look?”
She was already working, following her own orders and shifting mud and grime away from the body to hopefully reveal more of it before working to remove it. She went slowly, not wanting to upset the whole hill with the movements, but it was hard to contain her excitement. A body meant she might finally get some real knowledge about this place, and a better understanding of where she was. Who these people really were. There were so many questions in her head, but she had no one she really could trust to tell the truth if she asked them out loud. The only way she could really know for sure was to seek the answers from something that never lied: a bone.
Or, hopefully in this case, 206 of them.
Giles reluctantly followed her lead, though he opted not to answer her question about his physical ability. His arms looked weak, did they? He would have to show her that looks were not always the best way to judge someone, and that he had more skill and knowledge, and arm strength, than she could guess just by looking him over.
“What sort of lab do you have?” He asked, his brain catching the way she stumbled over the words earlier, and reminding him of the point.
“I don’t. Not here. At the Jeffersonian we have some of the best equipment and people, myself included, in the world. Here… well, I will have to find some place to work, or I’ll do what I can right here.”
“In the woods? In the mud? You seem quite capable of extraordinary feats, if this dogged attitude of yours is anything to go by, but I feel even you will be quite hampered by the elements here. And this body…”
It was in that moment that Giles noticed just how much progress they had made. Through the course of the grunted conversation, words mostly slipping out through gritted teeth for both of them, and spaced between long gaps of exertion, they had managed to unearth a large portion of the body. It would have been a chest, an arm, and half a face if there was enough skin and flesh attached to it to call it human any more. As it was, it was a gross mutilation of long dead tissue, twisted and degraded by the mud, plants and bugs of the forest. The smell hit him like a punch in the face, just as his eyes settled on the ragged jawline of what used to be a face. The clinging, grey muscles were punctured and coiled back around where the maggots had eaten away all the skin on that side. They remained wiggling between gaps in the skull’s teeth, upset to have their meal and resting place disturbed.
The Watcher had seen many things over the course of his career in the Occult, and some of them had been far worse than this, but it was not enough to save him from retching, pulling backwards suddenly and taking one massive step backwards. The jerking motion he made with his leg was violent enough to make the entire slope shudder, and the mud under Brennan gave way and caused her to slide down, desperately trying not to take the body with her, the hill a few inches. She stopped, though, and looked up at him in shock. He’d slipped down with her, grimacing.
“You said body, Miss Brennan. That, is a corpse.”
“Doctor. And those two words are interchangeable, if you’re going to argue semantics with me. If you are uncomfortable with both of those words, then we will refer to it as remains. That is a body of a human being, who has been dead long enough for most of its flesh to have been removed. Not all, like I said, but if you make a move like that again you’re going to send the whole thing rolling down the hill and probably into pieces! If that happens, you will be the one collecting them.”
“No, no I will not. Who do you think you are, ordering me around like I somehow work for you now? I came here to offer you my assistance, as you sought me out to do, but I see now that this was a mistake. I do not even care what you want to do with those ‘remains’, you bloody , insufferable-“
The hill grew tired of their arguing, and opted to wash them both, and the body, away in a flood of dirty, tepid water and an avalanche of thick, sticky mud. Brennan cried out in surprise and what might have been fear as they were quickly caught up in the mudslide, while Giles dove to try and catch her. He grabbed her arm before they were both completely engulfed in the muck, tugging her to him and wrapping his arms around her frame as they rolled. She clung to him after a moment, her nails digging into his shoulders and her muffled cries lost against his chest. Something hard thumped him with enough force to make him lose track of himself, rocks joining the violent slide. It forced him to let go of her and she disappeared as if a wave took her, the tide turning and taking them both out to sea.
This particular sea was littered with tall, solid trees.
Giles slammed into one and remained lodged there, mud pushing him against it roughly, rocks rolling by. It seemed like ages but was in reality only a few moments, no more than a minute, before everything settled into stillness. The entire face of the area had changed, the hill no longer as tall and steep as it had been, and the whole floor drenched in mud and large chunks of rocks and earth. The Watcher was laying on his side, half buried in mud, and struggling to regain his motor functions and his ability to process things like logic and thoughts. His body thought it a better idea to remain still in a haze, and allowed him only the ability to open his eyes. He did so, though he saw very little beyond blurs of brown and black. There was one clear, lighter blur nearby, and he focused on that in an effort to clear his vision. It came into focus slowly, leering at him with its maggoty grin.
The skull wobbled and tipped sideways, a small, flash colored and whole, hand rising up from under it and knocking it off balance. It was seeing the hand clearly that kicked Giles’ brain back into gear.
Posted: Jan 29 2017, 11:48 PM
Temperance Brennan did not make idle threats. She was sitting on the only dryish spot in the entire forest, a log elevated just enough to avoid most of the mud slide, struggling to wipe off enough mud from her hands to be able to clean it off her face. That, in turn, made her hands messy again, and she had to keep alternating her efforts. Ultimately she ended up with mud smears on both and came to a standoff that could not be won for either side, the mud or the clean, without intervention of more mud or water.
She looked up from her efforts every now and then to watch Giles as he dug, pulling pieces of the body out of the mud when he was able to find them, grumbling angrily to himself all the while. Neither had been badly hurt in the slide, both bruised and battered but sporting nothing more than bruises and a dire need for new clothes and a bath. Probably not in that order.
Stopping with a heavy sigh, Giles looked over at her, standing up straight and tossing a clump of mud, and perhaps a foot, to the ground.
“That’s all I can find, Temperance,” he said, not sticking to his usual, polite method of addressing people. He was too angry, too tired, and too muddy to care about niceties at the moment. He did not even want to call her by her appropriate title, which was clearly something she demanded of people and would probably annoy her to find him not doing.
Though, at this point, he had gotten the idea that things normal people felt were vastly different to the things this forensic anthropologist felt.
Brennan watched him, shaking her head.
“I think even you can see that you’re missing crucial parts of the body, and as it is your fault my remains are now reburied in this mess, it is reasonable to expect you make up for your mistake by at least collecting the pieces! I’m not asking you to put them back together again: it is incredibly unlikely that you will be able to, in the state they’re in and with your limited knowledge of physiology, you would likely make a mess of any attempt at reconstruction. Or do even more damage, if that’s even possible.”
“That is quite enough!” Giles said, stepping toward her. She jerked back, looking up at him as he towered over her, though she lacked any kind of fear. It was more surprise than anything else, as she had taken him for a very soft spoken and kind man, who would be willing to help her and who understood that, as a teacher and a professional, she had to be good on her word. If she said there was a punishment to be had, she would follow through with it. “You have been nothing but rude and demanding since we’ve met. I don’t know who I was thinking, following you into this wood, after hearing you meant to pick up a body! No, no, I will not help you any more, you wretched girl! Dig your bones for yourself. It’s getting dark now, and colder, and I would really rather just go home! Good evening, Miss Brennan!”
He moved to storm off and Brennan watched him go, standing up from the log and making a small sound of protest before stopping herself. He did not stop, anyway, dragging his feet through the raise mud before finding sturdier ground away from the hill. He huffed off toward the path, drawing his messy jacket around his shoulders.
Brennan watched him go, then turned to start the work back up. She was not leaving here without her body, that was for certain, even if she had to work all night, in the cold, in the muck, to find it all. She figured out what was missing, which was thankfully not too much though some were smaller pieces that would require really digging into the mud to find. Tugging off her lab coat and tossing it to the side, she almost literally dove into her work. Soon enough she was sunken into the mud on her knees, arms up to her elbows, digging methodically and with an unwavering determination that made her fail to notice the time slipping by. It was only when the sun went down and the clouds overhead started rumbling unhappily that she stopped, shuddering and looking up to find the area around her completely black.
Night had settled, and there was no way she would be able to find anything else. Breathing heavily, exhausted from the sheer exertion digging through the heavy, dense muck had required, she stumbled to her feet on shaking legs and gathered up what remains she had found onto her lab coat. She was not sure she would be able to carry it all, though it being in large chunks was actually more helpful than she previously thought. She stacked them as neatly as she could on the coat, hoping to make it possible for her to drag the whole thing.
“You’re still here?”
Brennan was too tired to be startled, shivering instead of jumping and glancing over her shoulder to see Giles had returned. He was cleaned up now, wearing what appeared to be wellington boots and new, warmer clothes. He had a jacket draped over his arm, as well, though she could see he was already wearing one. She moved away from the remains and toward him, hugging herself against the cold. Her eyes were on the coat they both knew was for her, so Giles moved to help her into it, indicating it was okay for her to get it muddy and wrapping it around her shoulders once she had her arms in the sleeves. It was heavy, made of a very warm and comforting material, and she nuzzled into it despite it being very oversized for her slight frame. Relief washed over her, and she nodded a thank you.
“I found most of the remains,” she explained after a tense beat, motioning with one arm toward the pile of body parts, “but I was expecting an unfair amount of you to say you needed to find them all. I tried without pause for hours, and was still unable to find them all, even knowing what I was looking for. I apologize for my inaccurate assessment of the situation earlier, and I concede that you had a right to leave when you did. I don’t hold it against you, if you’ve come back to apologize.”
“Oh,” Giles stared at her, once again baffled by her direct nature and the way she chose to say things. He opened his mouth to try to add to that thought, but nothing else came out beyond a slightly exasperated sigh.
“Isn’t this an apology coat?” Brennan pressed, shrugging her shoulders in case he forgot the giant extra coat he’d brought her while worrying about her health and safety out in the forest at night.
He smiled despite himself, nodding.
“Yes, I suppose it is. And this,” he pulled a flash light out of his own coat’s pocket, turning it on and sweeping the beam toward Brennan’s feet, where the remains were resting, “Is an apology flashlight. Now, let’s see if we can’t get these pieces out of here, hm?”
Brennan smiled at him for what must have been the first time, and Giles returned the gesture dumbly, standing there, the flashlight beam slowly drooping as his attention wavered, as she went to collect one edge of the lab coat. Bent over, Brennan looked over her shoulder at her companion, his expression curious to her. She understood males and their libido, but she had not anticipated someone like him showing interest in her. Generally, she would be at least tolerant of the attention, but at the moment she was too busy working to want to address it.
Well. Maybe she’d address it a little.
“If you would keep the light on the body, and not my backside,” she prompted, and grinned despite herself as the light beam jumped in horror. It hurried back to the corpse and grew in size as Giles hurried over, the darkness not masking the beet red color of his face. He was silent, beyond some very English muttering that she did not quite catch, as he went to the other side of the coat and helped her to lift it. He trained the beam of light ahead of them, so they could at least pick their path carefully in the darkness without getting lost.
Brennan let that matter drop, leading the way while holding her end of the lab coat behind her. They carried the remains like they were on a very flimsy stretcher, though it was a bit late for any medical aid to help this particular person. Giles told her he’d brought his car this time, and guided her with the flash light to where it was parked. The trunk, or the boot as he referred to it, was covered in a sheet of plastic, a cut open black garbage bag from the looks of it, and they loaded the remains into it. Brennan left her lab coat with the remains, wondering if it was worth it to try and clean that poor thing up after all this.
Sighing, Giles shut the door to the trunk and looked at Brennan, noticing that she was standing barefoot on the gravel of this badly worn road. She was a strange wonder to him, as he had never seen someone so dedicated to gathering bones as she was.
“Your feet must be freezing. Perhaps we should get you some shoes…?”
“No, I need to get those remains to a lab. I know where one is, and I’ve been there before. Can you drive me to the hospital? We’ll have to park around the back, there’s an alley with a back entrance that is very close to the entrance to the morgue. I assume it is a loading zone for remains to pass in and out of the building, so it would make sense that would be our entry point, don’t you think?”
She was already walking to the passenger side door, waiting at it for him to unlock it and let her in. She looked back at him expectantly, and he realized he was going to be her partner in these shenanigans for as long as she deemed fit. He had no will to fight her on it, so he walked to her, nodding politely as he moved in front of her, brushing her body lightly, and unlocked the door for her.
“The locks aren’t automatic?” Brennan asked, not knowing much about cars but understanding that most nowadays had basic amenities like power windows and automatic locks. He shook his head, walking around the front of the car to get to the driver’s seat and climbing in. Brennan sat down beside him, looking down at the chair before reaching for her seatbelt. “You put a cover on the chair. You expected to give me a ride somewhere. Thank you.”
Giles shrugged his shoulders dismissively, though she caught the little smirk on his face before he turned the engine and the angry sounding car puttered to life. It rumbled lowly for a moment as he adjusted his mirror and shifted the car into reverse, guiding them back onto the road and out of the forest. His better sense told him to ask her again if she wanted to go home, to get clothes and shoes, but somehow he already knew he would lose that argument and directed the car toward their inevitable goal.
If she wanted to go to the morgue, he would take her there and skip another fight in the process.
Brennan sighed and leaned back in the chair, realizing just how worn she was already. It was her intention to examine the bones that night, and get as much work done as she possibly could, but her strength was drained much more than she’d anticipated. The mud had not helped, and expending energy yelling and being mad at Giles had been a waste. She found her eyelids drooping as low music, some sort of guitar, reached her ears from the radio. It was as close to a lullaby as she needed, ultimately, and she fell to sleep leaning against the window and leaving a smudge of mud against the pane.
Posted: Jan 30 2017, 11:32 PM
It was quiet in the alley, with only the low hum of the now settled engine and the buzz of a nearby, barely functioning street lamp to pierce the heavy silence of the night. He did not see any signs of life, which was oddly fitting considering this was the loading bay of the morgue. No one was at work tonight, or there just were no deaths that needed attending to. In Storybrooke, that was both expected and a mystery at once, and not one Giles really wanted to think too hard about.
People that died here sometimes just failed to leave bodies behind. Other times, they did not stay dead. And he was sure there were bigger problems than vampires to worry about, lurking in the shadows. It made Sunnydale seem positively wonderful by comparison, despite this place looking serene and like a perfect, small English village. The kind that would have driven Giles mad in his youth, but he longed for in his age.
He had been sitting there for close to an hour now, hands still on the wheel, engine idling. He knew it would jump when it turned it off. The old thing liked to act like it was dying every time he turned the engine off, much like it liked to act up when he turned it on. It reminded him of his car back home, which was why he kept it instead of trading it back in as he had been assured he would be allowed to by the dealership. Glancing over his shoulder, he saw that Brennan was still sound asleep. Her head was resting against the window, her arm tucked under it to keep her comfortable. She’d settled into the much needed rest when they set out, and it had only taken him ten minutes to get to the hospital.
It just seemed so mean to wake her up, knowing as he did how hard she had been working before, and how tired she must be. So he set there for the rest of that hour in silence, keeping an eye on her and keeping the car running. If he waited too long, though, she would be furious at him for wasting her time, and he knew he could not hold out against another fight. She was a very stubborn, determined woman.
He shut the engine off and it let out a loud, strangled cough that jolted the car. Brennan bumped her head against the glass of the window, jerking awake and wincing at her new bump. She glared at him, then sighed and felt her neck aching from the sleep.
“How long was I asleep?”
“Only a few minutes. Come on, then, let’s get this… these remains of yours inside.” Giles cleared his throat and opened the door, hurrying around the front of the car to open the passenger side door for her politely. She had just struggled free of her seatbelt, and watched him curiously as he stood waiting for her. It was a little archaic, but she liked the sense of duty and honor this man had about him.
She knew he was lying about the time, but, for once, decided to let the subject slide. For now. If it became relevant later, and the loss of time took away from her being able to accomplish her goals, then she would remember the little white lie and make sure to bring it up with him.
Brennan climbed out of the car slowly, stiff and aching all over. Her neck was just the start of it, from where she had been sleeping, but the rest of her body was burning after digging through the mud for so long. It was not something she was going to let get in her way though, and she pushed on without making a comment. Her bare feet were sore against the rough, worn alleyway, and she tried to be quick as she circled the car and let Giles open the trunk for her. The body was still there, not too jostled from the ride, resting on the lab coat and the garbage bag Giles had lined the car with. He bent in and gathered up the makeshift tarp, heaving the heavy bundle out and motioning that he could carry it alone once he had it slung over one his shoulders.
Brennan was skeptical of his strength, having not had that particular worry put to rest over with the mud slide. He did seem set on proving he could manage, though, and she had more pressing matters to attend to. The door was locked, but she knew from Booth how to break into places now. He liked to kick in doors most of the time, just to be impressive, but had showed her the finer arts of lock picking. She managed to get the door open without much of a fuss. It took longer than she wanted, and she glanced over her shoulder to see Giles looking a little red faced and strained. The remains of a body were still pretty heavy, and there was enough flesh and mud left on the pieces to add to that weight.
“Come on, it’s just a little down the hall then to the right. Down the stairs. Can you manage with that bag? If you fall, you could damage the remains, and that would really destroy any chance I still have, after that accident before, of identifying the victim or the cause of death.” She realized while chastising him that neither of those were her primary goal in this instance, which was rare and rather strange. She did not care how or why they died, but rather how and when they lived.
“Yes, Dr. Brennan, I can manage, but please do hurry. No need to make a fuss over me and slow the process down, hm?”
She took from the sharp rise in octave of his voice that he was really just telling her to hurry up. That was fair enough, but her warning would stand whether she got to finish it or not.
Leading the way, Brennan opened and held the door into the basement for him before hurrying ahead and doing the same for the door at the bottom of the stairs. She motioned to one of the tables, the slabs that were so notorious for being occupied by dead bodies, and Giles all but sprinted over to it to put the body down. Instinct told him to drop it, but his better sense made him go slowly, so any damage the bones did manage to get could not be further blamed on him. He sighed heavily, rolling his shoulders and letting Brennan come over to the table. She adjusted an overhead light to illuminate just the immediate area, instead of turning on lights through the whole morgue.
Brennan noticed that Giles was not tense or uncomfortable in the morgue, as most people would be. She always expected the obvious questions in these situations, like how she could be in a place like this and not be creeped out. How she could deal with the dead and still be normal. Why she did not feel any fear in an obvious setting for some horror movie she’d never heard of.
Giles did not ask them, and she paid him the same respect by not asking him anything about it in return. Maybe they would exchange experience stories some other time.
At the moment, there was a dead body calling her attention.
“I am going to remove the flesh from the bones before I try to reassemble the bones in order. I am not solving a crime here, this is not evidence. It stands to reason that it is, of course, and that this might be an unsolved murder from this town that I am running the risk of destroying and keeping as a cold case… but…” Once she said it out loud, she was not sure she had it in her to further compromise a potential murder case. Grimacing, she knew she had to gather every piece of evidence she could, no matter how badly compromised it had all been in the mud slide and transport, and at the very least make an effort to record what she could. It would add hours, if not days, to her work, and add to her risk of getting caught.
But it was what Booth would want her to do, wasn’t it?
Giles watched her, seeing her inner turmoil and realizing that this was not a woman that was very good at taking care of herself once she got set on a goal. He could relate, often losing himself in his research for long enough to worry his companions and force them into feeling like they needed to take care of him or help him out. It was his nature, though, to naturally fill that role. He was the father of his group, so to speak, back in Sunnydale, and if anyone ever needed help, he was the one to provide it.
Brennan needed food. Water. Something warm to wear. Shoes. At least according to his assessment.
Brennan, for her part, had a different list forming in her head.
“Mister…” she turned to him and her eyes widened. He smiled at her, nodding his head patiently.
“Giles. Rupert Giles.”
“Mister Giles,” she said, breathing the name with an apology in the air that she never quite got to, “would you be able to get me some of the supplies I am going to need for these remains? I will make you a very thorough list, with where the chemicals and instruments can be commonly found. If you had to purchase anything, please make a running total and I will pay you back. I have never left a debt unpaid, and once I have access to my accounts, I will be able to pay you in full for your kindness and time as well.”
Giles nodded his head, though he knew better. It was a big part of his training, to be able to adjust to the reality of those around him. He could see that she was not used to this world yet, and did not know how it worked. Maybe she did not even know about magic, as she had not mentioned its use even once in her efforts. In his world, that was a common fact, and it was safer for everyone to keep the reality of magic a secret. It was often just too hard to believe, and Brennan did not exactly seem like someone with an open mind toward the fantastical.
She was already looking for a piece of paper and a pen to write with, asking him for his flashlight so she could search without turning on the overhead lights. She found a clipboard that looked like it had not been touched in years and began to write as extensive and specific a list as she had promised. Giles could remember the other amenities he would bring her without help of writing them down. She was in work mode, and was not thinking about her feet, or how cold it was going to get once her adrenaline died down, or how hungry she was. Coffee, too, would probably be a good idea.
He had work in the library the next morning, though, and it was already getting late. Late nights were not uncommon in his life, but he was rather getting used to having full nights of sleep these days. There was no real need for him to stay up all night hunting for vampires that, as far as he knew so far, did not exist here. It seemed, instead, he was going to have to go shopping because there was no way she was going to leave the remains unattended, and leaving them with him was basically the same thing.
She offered him the list, which he took dutifully. She surprised him by catching his hand before he pulled away, looking up at him intently. Her blue and green eyes were crystal clear, almost as though she were looking right through him and not at him. He felt a little unnerved by them, understanding how she managed to get so much confidence about her. She saw the world in a way few others did, with a clarity and an understanding that was unique and based entirely in pure logic. When she knew something, she absolutely knew it, and nothing would shake her resolve. She approached this job, this set of remains, with that dedication and pure conviction.
This list was vital to her. His help, the same.
“Thank you, Mister Giles.”
Posted: Jan 31 2017, 12:42 AM
The morgue was very still, very quiet, and very dark once Giles left. She argued with herself that it had been that way before he left, save for the quiet, and not to lose sight of the details. She doubted he would be back any time soon, so she set to work. Lacking the ability to record her thoughts, there was little she could do without him coming back first. She set about prepping, gathering everything she could from the morgue itself. Guided by the flashlight, she collected her tools on a tray and set it up near her set of remains, pushing her whole set up into a corner away from the door.
She set up the pieces of the body, not upsetting the mud too much just yet, in a general form of a body on the slab, picking up the head to examine it carefully. She found and tugged on a pair of gloves beforehand, opting to treat the remains as she would any other set of evidence. It had been complicated before, but even then she tried not to touch anything that could be used as evidence with her bare hands.
It had been one of the first lessons she ever learned, working with booth. Bringing that skull around with her in her bag had not, in fact, been her best idea ever. But she had gotten Angela on the team that way, so even that mistake had accomplished something important. That distant stab of pain, emotional though it was, pierced through her again and she winced. Would she see Angela and the others again? Booth, Hodgins, Cam, even Sweets. They were her team, her family, and she had been taken away from them.
Would they look for her?
Yes, she knew they would. Even as she turned the skull over in her hands, learning everything she could about it, she also thought about what Booth would be doing right now. It had been long enough for him to know she was not at home, not at the lab. Maybe there was evidence left behind of her being kidnapped and dragged away, maybe not. If there was, Hodgins and Cam would find it. One of the interns would help, and they were all far more gifted and talented than she let them know. Cam always said she needed to be more supportive of them, nurture their remarkable talents, but she had never seen it that way. They knew who and what they were, how talented and skilled they could be. It was the mistakes that would ruin them, and it was the mistakes she focused on teaching to them, so they knew how to not make them when it was their time to lead a case.
Would they treat her disappearance like they would a case? She trusted them to. Hoped they would. Booth would be shouting at them, telling them what his gut said. Using his remarkable ability to read and understand situations on a personal, deeper level than Brennan could to see through motive. Cam would call in all her favors, even blur a few lines in the chase for whoever it was that could be responsible. Hodgins and Angela would focus their attention on finding her. She knew they would. Brennan could not even send them any word, any hints, any help. Even she did not know who brought her here, where here really was, or why.
This morgue. This was where she had woken up, nauseous and dizzy. There had been no chance to run a blood test, to check for whatever drugs had knocked her out long enough for her to change location and not even wake once while in transit. It felt like she had come to a place that did not exist or that she somehow did not exist in. The thought unsettled her, and she gently put the skull down.
Why was she looking at bones, trying to learn about a place that she should be trying to leave?
When she was scared and did not know what to do, Brennan turned her emotions off. She switched into pure fact mode, and escaped any uncertainty she might have been feeling by replacing it with something she could absolutely be certain about. Bones were that certainty, more often than not. They asked her question, but rarely could she not answer them. The test came in the process to do just that, and she escaped her emotions by focusing on the literal. Pure, empirical facts, unhindered by emotionality and any fears that made things all too complicated. The very last thing she ever wanted to be is afraid for herself.
She would not allow it.
The remains belonged to a male. It was easy enough to recognize, even with the mud and mess. She could not begin to guess at an identity, and likely would not be able to get one without having access to missing person records, or hospital records. She did not have her usual ties through the FBI and police, as she did in DC with Booth and Cam. Again, she reminded herself that who he was and how he died were not the primary concerns. Interesting questions to be answered, particularly in an effort to be thorough, but her examination was actually meant to be more focused on her actual title than her job usually asked for. Anthropology was the study of human remains that allowed her to understand more about a culture and the people that lived in a certain area. The Forensic part, using those abilities to solve crimes, often distracted her from the study of culture itself.
Here, now, she was focused on the anthropological. She could learn everything she needed to know about this place through the bones in front of her, if they were native to this area. She really needed to have Giles return in a hurry, but without a way to contact him, she was left with her anxiety and anticipation at what she could find. What she wanted to find versus what was waiting for her.
Booth would come for her.
He always did, and he always would. Just as she always went to him when he needed her. There was nothing she would not do for him, and she knew that stood true for him as well. It was scary, knowing that his chivalrous attitude could eventually get him killed for her sake, but he was also very skilled at defending himself. Whoever brought her here had underestimated him, but Brennan would not. She did not consider it blind faith, believing in something that had no basis in reality, not facts to back it up. She had her evidence, her proof: she knew him better than she knew herself, most days. He would come to find her, and he would succeed.
She just had to wait.
Giles returned a few hours later, with dawn just starting to lighten the sky outside. He had a backpack with him, and another small bag in his hand. He snuck into the morgue as they had done before, hurrying down to her and finding her hunched over the remains, examining something with a magnifying lens.
“Dr. Brennan?” He asked, almost timid about interrupting her. She looked at him, though, without surprise and even offered him a tired, thin smile. She looked more worn than when he’d left her, her face pale in the light of the overhead lamp. He moved to her, concerned, putting the back on the floor and sliding the back pack down next to it before putting his hand on her shoulder. A questioning gesture of reassurance, unsure as he was about what was upsetting her. “I brought you what I could from your list. I admit, even with your directions, I could not find close enough approximations of some of the things you requested. They’re in this bag. Ah. The backpack.” He picked it up again, “ Well, there are uhm. S-some amenities for you. A sweater, some boots, socks. There’s a meal from Granny’s, though I was not sure what you would like to eat…”
“I’m a vegetarian,” she replied wearily, but she took the backpack as he offered it to her, though, hugging it to her and sighing. He was treating her very much like Angela would, taking care of her when she forgot to do so for herself.
“Well, that’s alright. The diner was just opening up. I got you some oatmeal and some fresh fruit, and a thermos of coffee. Some eggs, but of course you don’t have to eat those, considering. You. Ah. Don’t.”
“Thank you,” she said quietly, and he could have sworn he saw her shudder. She turned away from him, though, after a moment and gently set the back pack at her feet. She motioned to the slab, and he drew closer to look over the remains. They had been assembled in a way that made them look almost human again, which he was not sure he really appreciated or needed that early in the morning. She explained to him what she knew so far. Their perspective on that information was wildly different: she only had details about his build and relative age, his approximate time of death and hints of his injuries from his death or before. To her, it was precious little to work with, while Giles was fascinated that a pile of mud and human bits had been able to reveal that much.
He kept her company as long as he could, and she enjoyed working out loud for him. He brought her a pen and notebook, one she could actually write copious notes in, and she used that to record her thoughts after venting them out loud to him. He had to get going to work, though, and she reluctantly let him go. She promised him she would not leave the morgue unless she had to, and would go to the library if she was caught or if she got into any trouble at all.
Giles promised to return when he was done with his shift, to check on her.
Brennan let him go, already digging through the bag of supplies he brought and gathering all the evidence. She took samples into bags, collecting plant and bug life that were still clinging to the remains, as she would for Hodgins. She took pictures with a camera she was borrowing from Giles as she would for Angela and her reconstructions. She also took detailed pictures of all the flesh and any lingering organ matter she could find, along with samples of everything, as she would for Cam. She recorded her every thought into the notebook, and worked for hours without break or distraction to do as complete a job as she knew how, borrowing from the all of her friends and family to do so.
They were with her, even if she was working alone.
She hardly noticed how much time had passed in the effort, nearly jumping out of her skin when she heard the inner door to the morgue, leading in from the stairs, opening slowly. She ducked behind the table, which offered no cover to her whatsoever and was illuminated by her overhead lamp, until she saw Giles approach, a plastic bag in one hand and the other lifted in a semi defensive posture. She looked baffled, standing up slowly and stumbling, a rush of dizziness and nausea hitting her as hard as a fist to the stomach might. Giles caught her, clicking his tongue behind his teeth and guiding her to an empty slab. He hoisted her up off her feet to help her sit on it, and she sighed heavily.
“If I look in that bag, will I find cold oatmeal and untouched coffee, Miss Brennan?” Giles asked sternly, and the forensic anthropologist nodded her head slowly.
“I forgot,” she said honestly.
“Well, I brought you dinner, and this time I am not leaving until I have watched you eat some of it, so I know you won’t simply starve to death the moment I turn my back. You must take a break now. Sleep tonight. You are more than welcome to stay at my place tonight, if you have nowhere to go. The sofa makes up into a nice bed, which I am rather accustomed to sleeping on. It will not put me out in the slightest to accommodate you, I assure you.”
“I appreciate your concern, and your kindness. I… I really do. But I have a place to stay, and I can’t ask you to do any more than you already have.” She looked up at him, finding him staring down at her with more concern than she thought a relative stranger like her warranted. He really was worried she would not take good enough care of herself, and do herself harm because of it. He really was very kind hearted, and she relented a small bit. “I’ll go to sleep tonight, I promise. I’ll just finish my notes and put the bones in to remove the flesh. That will take a long while, anyway, so I will have more than enough time to rest. I promise.”
She did not need to let him know that she had no place other than the morgue to sleep. She would likely set up a bed here, with sheets from the cupboards, usually used to cover dead bodies, and the clothes he had provided her. He handed her cylindrical container of soup, which was warm in her cold hands and made her stomach grumble violently in anticipation.
“I promise, Mister Giles,” she said tiredly, those pesky emotions she had worked all day to bury bubbling up to the surface and making her eyes sting with tears, which Giles could see glistening threateningly as she struggled to keep her composure. “I will repay you for your care.”
“Think nothing of it, Temperance,” he said, with a smile. After all, it came with the job of being a Watcher.
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