It was the end of their first day back at the Jeffersonian’s old forensics unit. Temperance glanced around her office and sighed as she settled further into her chair. They had successfully solved both the mystery of the dead boy, and that of the missing Logan Bartlett, thereby saving Cam’s job.
Temperance rubbed absently at her chest, remembering the odd sensation earlier that week. Several times since then, Angela had attempted to engage in conversation about her belief that Temperance was a Guide, but each time she had brushed her friend off. She denied having had any reaction, but could – reluctantly – admit to herself that she could still feel an echo of that odd sense of separation and loss. She disliked it immensely as there was no logical reason for her to feel thusly and so she made every effort to ignore it.
Shaking her head at her own foolishness, she got to her feet. Perhaps a walk to her favorite exhibit would be enough to clear her mind before she went home. Putting deed to thought, she made her way through the Jeffersonian until she reached the exhibit she was after. She smiled softly in anticipation of seeing the Fennec foxes, but it turned into a frown when there was a marked difference to it.
“That’s odd,” she muttered to herself, leaning in to peer more closely. The little Fennec fox that had seemed too lifelike to her the other day was gone. Straightening, she looked through the rest of the exhibit, but it was nowhere in sight. “Perhaps the curator removed it?” She couldn’t fathom why, but that seemed to be the only logical conclusion to draw.
There was no one around to ask. She would have to remember to find out who the curator for the exhibit was and contact them about it tomorrow. The peace she had always found here was missing, and though it seemed quite ridiculous to attribute it to the missing Fennec fox, she couldn’t quite discount it either. With a heavy sigh, she went back to her office to gather her things. She absently noted that Angela and Hodgins were still in Angela’s office as she made her way across the lab. Everyone else had already gone for the day. Grabbing her things, she stopped by Angela’s office to tell her friends good night and headed home.
The following morning, Temperance was awakened by Booth knocking insistently on her door. The sun was barely even up yet, which was somewhat vexing. “Booth, it’s only just seven o’clock,” she protested, trying to wake up completely.
Booth grinned. “I know. Sorry, Bones, but a runner found a body in Rock Creek Park. Brought you coffee, though.” He held the cup just out of her reach for a moment before handing it to her.
Holding the proffered cup to her lips, she inhaled, closing her eyes in appreciation of the caramel flavored beverage. She didn’t indulge in such things very often, but as far as treats went – or in Booth’s case, bribes – they were quite adequate. “Thank you,” she murmured, glancing over the rim of her cup after she took a sip.
Booth looked rather pleased with himself. “Now come on, we have a body to recover.”
It took her less than ten minutes to change into some clothes and be ready to go. As usual, Booth drove them to the scene. What was not usual was the way Booth kept shooting glances at her, though he remained silent until she had finished her coffee. Carefully placing the empty cup in the trash receptacle behind their seats, Temperance wondered why Booth was acting so strangely.
Before she could ask what was wrong, he cleared his throat and said, “Everything okay, Bones?”
Surprised, she nodded. “Of course, Booth, why wouldn’t it be?”
Rolling his shoulders a little, he hedged, “It’s just that… well, for the past couple of days you’ve seemed a little… I don’t know, off? Did something happen with the squinterns or something? Do you regret not going back to Maluku?”
“No, I don’t. I’m actually rather glad to be back at the Jeffersonian. And nothing’s happened with my interns that I’m aware of. Mr. Vaziri will be back soon, and Mr. Bray and Miss Wick are both excellent. I’m told Mr. Fisher has expressed a desire to return once he is released from the clinic.”
Booth was silent for a minute, seemingly ruminating on something. Casting another questioning glance her way, he pursed his lips in dismay. “Did you and Ang have a fight?”
“What? No! What would make you say that?”
“Because I’ve noticed Angela’s been watching you rather closely, and I’ve seen you brush her off twice, which is unlike you. Well, sort of. It wasn’t like you sometimes do,” he amended. “She’s your best friend, Bones, and she’s looking at you like you’re… I don’t know…”
“Like what?” she challenged, brow furrowed. She was exceedingly uncomfortable with this conversation.
“Like there’s something wrong. Broken, or lost. I don’t know,” he admitted with a heavy sigh. “I’m just… I’m worried, okay? Because it isn’t just me picking up on Angela’s whatever. I can sense something is off, but I have no idea what and it’s driving me a little crazy.”
Temperance was a little taken aback by Booth’s admission. She couldn’t recall a time when he had expressed himself so emotionally to her. Not like this. Without either of them having been in a life-or-death situation, or when it didn’t involve either Parker or her own family. Shifting slightly in her seat, she glanced down at her hands, which were folded in her lap. “I… apologize if I’ve made you uncomfortable, even if I don’t know what it is I’ve done.” There. That was the right thing to do, when one had upset someone you cared about, wasn’t it?
Booth shook his head, huffing a laugh. “Temperance, there’s no need to apologize, okay. Just… please tell me if there’s anything going on. Maybe I can help?”
The use of her first name startled her a little. Booth almost never addressed her as anything but ‘Bones’ and she had grown accustomed to the nickname coming from him. He was the only person she had allowed the use of it eventually, though admittedly he had ignored her many protests at first. It had been easier to capitulate, especially when it didn’t truly upset her when he said it. She found she liked hearing her name from his lips very much.
A quick glance her way reminded her she had yet to respond. “Of course.” What else could she say to that?
Their arrival at the scene prohibited any further discussion, which was just as well as far as Temperance was concerned. She needed time to process, but for right now she had a body to recover. She was somewhat dismayed to discover that the victim was a small child whose body was found tangled in the root system of a fallen tree. After doing everything she could to ensure the body wasn’t compromised, she called in her team to be ready in the labs before telling Booth she would need everything – the tree stump included, roots and all. She got a perverse pleasure from ordering everything to be taken to the Jeffersonian. She always did, though she would never admit to such to anyone – not even Booth or Angela.
Once back at the labs, Temperance was able to push everything but the victim aside. She always had excelled at compartmentalizing, and she utilized that skill to the fullest now. Bending over the remains, she said, “Mr. Bray, your thoughts?”
Wendell cleared his throat. “The femur and the sacral index suggest the victim is a caucasian female. She has her permanent lateral incisors as well as her canines, so I would estimate her to have been around nine years old at time of death. There appears to be no immediate damage to indicate cause of death…”
She listened as Wendell went through the findings, nodding her head in approval. So far, he hadn’t missed anything she herself had seen. There was evidence of antemortem fractures both in her arms and legs, but they all showed remodeling had happened long before time of death.
“Hey,” Angela said as she ascended to the podium.
Glancing up, Temperance nodded in greeting before resuming her examination of the bones. “Mr. Bray, if you could hand the skull to Angela so she can begin the facial reconstruction.”
Angela’s sharp intake of breath as she accepted the skull made Temperance straighten up. One look at her friend told Temperance all she needed to know. The victim was either a Sentinel or a Guide. Angela only ever reacted this way when either were involved. She wasn’t quite sure how Angela always seemed to know, but she trusted her to be sure. Addressing Wendell, she added, “Mr. Bray, please perform a DNA test to determine the status of the victim.” She didn’t need to explain what ‘status’ she was referring to.
Angela, who had been staring intently at the skull, suddenly blinked and murmured, “I’ll bring this back as soon as I’m finished scanning it into the system.”
Temperance gazed after her friend as she made her way to her office. She knew that Angela would have a difficult time with this case, considering the age and status of the victim. In truth, she felt rather more uneasy than usual herself, though she could not determine why.
A couple of hours later, Temperance was ready for a late lunch, so she decided to ask Angela if she wanted to go to the diner. Not because she was prepared to revisit the discussion of Angela’s belief that Temperance was a Guide, but because she knew that Angela was having a very difficult time and hoped that the reprieve that was lunch might do her some good. “Hey Ang, would you-” She came to a dead stop at the sight of a distraught Angela hugging a polar bear cub. “Ang? What’s wrong? Where did that cub come from? You shouldn’t be so close to it. Polar bears are quite dangerous.”
Angela lifted her face, sniffling. Wiping the tears away, she gave a shaky laugh. “She won’t hurt me, Temperance.”
Sitting down next to her friend on the small sofa in Angela’s office, Temperance placed an awkward arm around her shoulders. “Why are you crying?”
Taking a wavering breath, Angela gazed sadly at the cub on her lap, gently stroking its fur. “She’s that little girl’s spirit guide,” she whispered.
Temperance frowned, tilting her head she watched the cub as it nuzzled against Angela’s hand. It was making a rather odd noise and Temperance thought it almost sounded as if it were crying, too, which seemed quite strange to her. She wasn’t aware that polar bears ever did any such thing, yet this one was. “Okay. But why are you crying? We’ve dealt with murdered Sentinels and Guides before, even young ones. Why is this one different?” She was quite confused, but try as she might she could not adequately put the evidence before her together.
Angela leaned down to rub her cheek against the top of the cub’s head. “Wendell told me that the DNA tests came back as her being a latent Guide.”
Temperance nodded. “Yes, I know.”
“Sweetie, the only time I’ve ever dealt with spirit guides has been when the Sentinel or Guide was online at the time of their death.” Angela waited expectantly.
“I don’t understand,” Temperance admitted with a frown.
Smiling sadly, Angela explained. “I didn’t, either, so I called Blair. Blair Sandburg? The shaman for North America?” she added at the increased confusion on Temperance’s face. “Anyway, I called him to ask why I would see this cub at all, let alone when her Guide had been latent. We talked it over for a while, since I’m one of the few Guides in this line of work, there hasn’t been much to compare to. He said that it was likely that because I’m a Guide, I feel the spirit guides of other Sentinels or Guides if they’ve died of unnatural causes. He speculates that, while spirit guides usually move on upon the death of their Sentinel or Guide, they linger until there has been closure. They mourn them.”
“That still doesn’t explain-” Temperance started.
Angela waved her off. “I’m getting to that. Word’s gotten out in the community that our spirit guides are always with us. That they will be as real as we want or need them to be.” She jerked her chin to indicate a spot by her feet. “See?”
Temperance blinked and shifted away when Angela’s pheasant suddenly appeared. “But I’m not-” she automatically began to protest.
“Oh sweetie, Grace is visible to everyone right now. Even Hodgins would be able to see her because I’ve asked her to show herself.”
Temperance settled back a little, nodding slightly.
“Actually, it’s because of Grace that I can see this little one. I’ve always felt the spirit guides before, but this is the first time I’ve actually seen them. She came when I asked Grace’s help.”
“Okay. So explain why, if the victim was a latent, she had a spirit guide. I thought you said only online Guides have them.”
“True. Except… except when they are a shaman. Blair told me that for that little girl to have had a spirit guide even when latent, she had to have been a shaman. Their spirit guides are with them from the moment they are born, and they grow with them, which is why this little one is still a cub.”
Temperance still felt a little confused, though she also felt the first stirrings of deep sorrow which she couldn’t explain. “I still don’t understand what the significance of that is, Angela.”
Temperance had the distinct feeling she was being humored by her friend as she explained that shamans were very rare in the community. “Up until a couple of weeks ago, America only had Blair. There was a recent emerging, and now we count two among us. There are others the world over, but not very many. This little girl would have been the third if she had lived.”
“And that’s why you’re crying?” Temperance asked to clarify, looking a little doubtful.
“Yes, sweetie. I’m crying because I mourn the loss of someone so precious to us.” Petting the little cub, she added softly, “And because she’s been alone all these years.”
She took a moment to collect her thoughts, gazing at the cub as it snuggled against her friend. “I find that… I am saddened as well. We’ll find out what happened to the victim, Angela.” Temperance was a little startled when the cub lifted her face and made a hopeful, if sorrowful sound in her direction. “I promise,” she said softly to the bear, though she was baffled as to why. Deciding to push that aside for now, she said instead, “I assume you will want to remain here to mourn. I was going to ask if you wanted to have lunch, but I can bring some back with me instead?”
Angela nodded, smiling gratefully. “That’d be great, sweetie. Thanks.”
Getting to her feet, she patted her friend awkwardly on the shoulder. “I am… sorry, for your loss.” For once, she wished she were better at this sort of thing, but she hoped that Angela understood. She usually did.
As she left the room, she thought she heard Angela say softly, “It’s your loss, too,” but Temperance shrugged it off. If she had heard correctly, surely Angela had meant those words for the little polar bear and not for her.
“The victim’s name is Elizabeth Lynn Sandstrom,” Angela said as she walked into the room waving the piece of paper with all the information she had found. “She was reported missing/possible runaway in nineteen seventy-nine, and she was a nine year old latent shaman.”
“Dr. Brennan?” Wendell said quietly. “I think I figured out cause of death.”
Temperance, Angela, and Cam all turned to focus on Wendell. “Please continue, Mr. Bray,” Temperance encouraged.
Picking up the skull, he turned it so they could see the stain inside it. His eyes on Angela, he cleared his throat. “Well, she was latent. If I remember correctly, back in the seventies there was a Guide suppression drug that was semi-successful, but also quite lethal – GS-155, I think it was called.”
Temperance nodded. “That’s correct. I see what you’re saying,” she said, taking the skull from Wendell and peering inside. “It would explain the evidence of cerebral hemorrhaging, which is quite unusual for a child her age. Mr. Bray, please run the test to confirm the presence of GS-155 in the victim. There should still be trace elements of it.”
Wendell nodded and went to fetch the necessary chemicals to conduct the test. Temperance looked up to find both Angela and Cam looking equally horrified and angry. “Someone dosed a child with GS-155? What kind of person does that?” Cam whispered.
Hodgins, who had overheard Cam’s comment as he walked into the room immediately went to his wife, wrapping his arms around her. Angela turned into him, allowing his soft words of comfort to console her.
Jaw clenching, Temperance was quite dismayed herself. How could anyone put a child at risk like that? Taking a steadying breath, she pushed everything aside. “Does she have any family left alive?” she asked Angela quietly.
Angela nodded, pulling away just enough to speak. “Yes. Her father still lives in the same house, but her mother passed away a little over a decade ago. No siblings.” She held out the sheaf of paper to Temperance.
“Very well. I’ll go tell Booth so we can at least notify the father that we have located his daughter. Have Mr. Bray call me as soon as he has the results. It shouldn’t take too long, but I know Booth will want to know sooner rather than later,” she said as she accepted the paper.
They were driving to Virginia to deliver the news to Elizabeth’s father. Temperance had relayed all the details she and her team had found, including the likely cause of death. Booth was quiet for a while, his jaw twitching and his brow furrowed, which Temperance took to mean he was angry but trying to rein it in.
After a few minutes, he sighed heavily. “You know if it is GS-155, it was likely one or both of her parents that dosed her.”
She remained silent as she shifted uneasily in her seat. Intellectually, she knew that to be the case in most instances of GS-155 administered to children, but she could not comprehend why anyone would risk a child – their child – like that. The drug worked as promised, but was so lethal, there were harsh prison sentences imposed when the drug saw a surge in use in the late seventies and early eighties.
When they arrived, Booth took a moment to survey the area, noting that there was no outward sign of the house ever having been home to a small child. Tilting his head, he put his hands in his pockets. “If your child were missing, would you be likely to remove their toys?” he asked, pointing to the tree next to the house. When Temperance didn’t immediately respond, he added, “There’s signs of damage to the tree, indicative of a tree house and a swing, yet there is nothing there now.”
“That does seem strange,” she acquiesced.
“Agreed. Most parents will hold on to such things in the hope their child is alive and will be back. Even if it’s years later and the kid couldn’t possibly still be into those toys, they hold onto it like a lifeline. Here, there’s nothing. I can’t even smell anything reminiscent of children coming from that place.”
Temperance scowled at the house as if it had wronged her. Booth gently touched her arm, giving her a hard little smile. “Let’s go. I think Mr. Sandstrom’s getting a little agitated with us just standing here.”
Temperance hadn’t even noticed the man behind the curtain of the front window. She nodded tersely and followed her partner to the door, which opened almost as soon as Booth’s hand connected with the wood.
“Yeah, what do you want?” a man in his mid-sixties said, glowering at them.
Booth showed him his badge. “Mr. Sandstrom? I’m Agent Booth with the FBI, this is my partner, Dr. Brennan. May we come in?”
The man eyed them warily before opening the door enough to let them in. They followed him to the living room. Booth nudged her, jerking his head to the walls and paraphernalia around the room. She nodded slightly to let him know she saw. The same lack of evidence there had ever been a child present in the house. No pictures at all, not even of Mr. and Mrs. Sandstrom themselves. Just a couple of paintings and photographs of sceneries along the coast. Nothing else.
They took a seat on the proffered couch and Booth leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees as he held Mr. Sandstrom’s gaze. “Mr. Sandstrom, I’m sorry to inform you that we have found the remains of your daughter.”
Temperance was watching the objectionable man closely for a reaction, but he showed none. At least, none that she could determine. She wondered what Booth was getting off him, knowing that the Sentinel would be able to pick up on any bodily responses like an elevated heart rate. It was one of the reasons it was generally considered nearly impossible to lie to a Sentinel.
Her phone rang so she excused herself to answer it while Booth continued to converse with Mr. Sandstrom. “Mr. Bray?”
“Dr. Brennan, the test confirms the presence of GS-155.”
Temperance closed her eyes, feeling sudden tremendous anger coursing through her. “Thank you, Mr. Bray. Excellent job,” she said with as much calm as she could muster and hung up. Mr. Sandstrom was on his feet in indignation at whatever question Booth had asked him. She didn’t care. She stalked across the room and before she could reconsider her actions, she pulled back her arm and decked the man with all her strength.
Booth grabbed her from behind, pinning her arms to her side. “Bones, what the hell?”
Struggling against her partner’s hold, she was beside herself. “How could you? How could you do that to your own child?! You murdered her!”
“Bones, calm down,” Booth whispered in her ear.
She shook her head. “No, Booth. He killed a shaman! He hated Guides so much, he rather his child die than become one. Except she already was one, latent or not.” Her breathing was heavy and she was just so angry. She couldn’t recall ever having had such strength of emotion.
“I know, Temperance,” Booth murmured. “I know. You calm enough now that I can let you go? I’d like to get that bastard in cuffs before he recovers enough to try to do more than sputter at you.”
That settled her enough so she nodded. Her eyes on Booth as he arrested Mr. Sandstrom, she cradled her hand, rubbing her thumb across her knuckles as she remembered the feeling of impact against the man’s jaw. She couldn’t deny that it had been quite satisfying, though she knew she would likely face some repercussions for her actions. She found she didn’t much care.