Disclaimers: I have intended no copyright infringement in the writing of this fan fiction story that contains characters found in the television shows Law and Order: SVU and Bones. This story cannot be sold or used for profit, and I have not financially profited from it in any way. Copies of this story may be made for private use, and copies must include all disclaimers and copyright notices.
The following story is fictional and does not contain any actual person or event.
Content Warning: This story contains non-graphic references to sexual assault and violence.
Summary: A gruesome case leads Dr. Temperance Brennan and Special Agent Seeley Booth to New York City, where they must work with the Special Victims Unit. Personal tensions threaten relationships and the FBI/SVU collaboration.
by Annazon Fox (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I didn't understand what she had been talking about up to this
point and I didn't care. What mattered was that this case had a
potential "inter-state aspect" to it, which brought Dr. Temperance
Brennan here. To our city.
"These patterns," she pointed to the partial skeleton on the exam table, "on the femur suggest removal by an oscillating blade."
I nodded, but by her lack of eye contact to the rest of us, Brennan made it clear she was addressing Dr. Warner, her closest peer in the room.
"From everything I've seen today, these remains are consistent with the remains we have found in Virginia, Pennsylvania, and DC," Brennan continued.
As she and Warner conferred, Elliot turned to Brennan's partner in crime-fighting, the handsome, sturdy FBI agent, Seeley Booth. The three of us were standing a few feet from the exam table in the small room trying not to take up too much space.
"You plan on cutting us out of this case?" Elliot asked Booth quietly.
I stood next to Elliot, arms crossed, my eyes fixed on Brennan.
"Well, we have a full lab at the Jeffersonian," Booth said. "If Bones- Dr. Brennan that is, wants the remains transferred..."
"Then you have to do what she says?" Elliot said.
"No," Booth said. "Look, at this point I don't see why NYPD can't help us out here."
"We're hardly the FBI's little assistants-" Elliot said.
"That's not what I-"
"SVU is an elite squad of detectives-" Elliot continued, his voice rising
"Alright," I said, uncrossing my arms and making eye contact with Booth. Using my best de-escalation voice, I continued, "Agent Booth, a woman was sexually assaulted and brutally murdered here. What my partner means is that if someone is butchering women, taking their body parts, and making some sort of Frankenstein monster out of them, we really want to catch this guy too."
"Oh, Detective Benson, that's not correct, actually," inserted Brennan, covering up the body and turning to wash her hands at the sink.
"Excuse me?" I said, sharply turning toward her.
"Frankenstein was the doctor. Not the monster he created," Brennan continued, over her shoulder. "It's a common misconception."
"Right," I said, before turning back to Elliot and Booth.
"She… takes some getting used to," Booth whispered to us, behind his hand.
"I've heard," I said.
Smiling, I touched Booth's elbow.
"Agent Booth, if you don't have plans, some of the guys in the squad are going to grab a beer…"
Elliot shot me a I-can't-believe-you-just-did-that look.
"Sure, Detective. That would be great," Booth said, smiling.
As Warner and Brennan packed up their supplies and closed their briefcases, we turned to leave.
"You coming, Bones?" Booth asked Brennan.
As we walked out the door, I turned to see her response, hoping she would say she had some sort of special guest lecture to give tonight. But alas.
"Yeah," she said. "Sure."
Smiling, she hitched her exam bag over her shoulder. Her eyes traveled from my face, down my arm, and to my hand, which was still lightly touching Booth's elbow
Before I turned back around to leave, I thought I saw her eyebrows tighten into a frown.
"You had to invite Booth?" Elliot said, once the two of us were alone in our squad car.
"Elliot, it was testosterone party of two in there," I said. "If we alienate him, the FBI really will shut us out of this case. Is that what you want?"
Elliot sighed loudly as I drove to the bar. It was a Monday night, but such was the irregular life of a detective, especially on particularly tough or gruesome cases.
"Fine," he said. "I just don't like him."
"You know that already?" I said.
"Well," I said. "He kind of reminds me of you."
"I don't know if that's good or bad," Elliot said, beginning to smile again.
"Brennan's a piece of work..." I said.
"They say she's the best in her field," he said. "So, if she helps us get the job done..."
I parked the car.
"Yeah," I said. "I'm trying to keep that in mind. Considering the circumstances."
Elliot nodded, as we made our way to the bar.
"And so it turns out, the bio-tech company had harvested the bone graft from someone with cancer," Booth was saying. "Meaning...
"That everyone who had received bone grafts from that particular donor ended up getting cancer as well," Brennan finished, putting her hand on Booth's arm.
Elliot, Munch, Fin, Warner, and I nodded. As the night progressed, it had turned into a war storytelling session, SVU versus FBI. We were casually gathered around a tall table. Some of us were sitting in tall chairs, others were standing.
Booth nodded, and took a swig from his beer bottle before jumping back into storyteller mode. "The transplant doctor's assistant had set up a front company and was selling body parts-"
"Bone grafts, Booth-" Brennan cut in.
"And," Booth continued. "Because this assistant had been harvesting these... bone grafts herself, without the right equipment, she inhaled some of the bone dust. So she ended up with cancer too."
"Unbelievable," I said, shaking my head.
"Instant karma, right there," Warner said.
"Material for your next best-seller, Dr. Brennan?" Munch asked.
"Well," Brennan said. "I do draw inspiration from actual cases when I write. So, it's possible."
I downed the last of my beer. Setting my bottle down, I noticed Booth and Brennan's eyes travel over my shoulder, resting on someone who just walked into the bar.
I felt a hand lightly touch my back. Turning, I smiled.
"Hey," she said. Coming straight from work, she was still wearing her suit.
"Alex," I said.
"Counselor," Elliot said, nodding to her.
"Detectives," she said, looking around the nook of the bar we had taken over. Her eyes stopped when they landed on Booth and Brennan.
From across the table, Booth eagerly extended his hand.
"Seeley Booth, FBI," Alex finished, shaking his hand. Apparently, she was still in full-on hard-ass demeanor. "I heard you two were here. ADA Alexandra Cabot. You trying to take this case from my detectives?"
"Not at this point," Booth said, the smile leaving his face.
"Good," Alex said, dismissing him and turning her eyes to Brennan.
Fin came back with a bucket of beers and handed one to Alex, along with a glass.
"Thanks," she said, taking the beer, without breaking eye contact with Brennan.
Everyone else around the table waited, eyes shifting from Alex to Brennan and back again.
"Oh, and this is my partner-" Booth started.
"Dr. Temperance Brennan," Alex finished. She smiled warmly and extended her hand.
"Alex," Brennan said, her face lighting up with a smile.
"It's been a while, Tempe," Alex said.
"Since....Chicago?" Brennan asked.
Alex nodded and the two women continued looking at each other, silently feeling each other out.
Chicago, Alex had told me. Northwestern University, specifically. Where Alex had gone to law school and Brennan had gotten her PhD in anthropology.
All eyes at the table remained fixed on Alex and Brennan.
"Oh, so you already know each other then...?" Booth said.
Slowly, Alex became aware of everyone's gaze.
"Well," she said, pouring her beer into her glass. "Don't let me interrupt cops' night out."
No one said anything.
"Why is everyone staring at us?" Brennan finally asked Alex.
I grabbed a beer from Fin's bucket, twisted the cap off, and took a drink, waiting for somebody to say something.
Finally, Alex spoke, in a stage whisper.
"I think they know we used to sleep together."
"No, it doesn't bother me, Bones," Booth said. "I just didn't know you were.... a lesbian. Um, no offense," he added, looking to Alex and me.
"None taken," I said.
The others had scattered around the bar after Alex busted their awkward behavior. They seemed to have quickly lost interest in what wasn't going to be an Olivia or Alex smackdown.
Sitting at our table were Booth, Brennan, Alex, and me.
"I'm not a lesbian, Booth," Brennan said.
"So, you're what, like.... bisexual?" Booth asked.
"This is a conversation we're seriously having?" Alex said. "How predictable. A heterosexual man intrigued by the thought of two women together."
"Well....yeah." Booth said, leaning in.
"Maybe we should let the woman answer the question," I said, surprised to hear my interrogation voice. "What is it, Brennan. Lesbian, hasbian, or bisexual?"
Clearly, I was a few beers into this night already.
Alex stifled a laugh, but she and Booth looked at Brennan expectantly, at least indicating that we all seemed to be in the same tipsy place.
"You know, combined with the fluidity of human sexuality, the decrease in stigma of non-normative sexual behaviors means that many people in Western cultures display at least some homosexual behavior during their lifetimes," Brennan said. "However, sexual identity and labeling is a highly-cultured and historically-specific phenomenon, so-"
So Dr. Temperance Brennan's tipsy place was in a whole different dimension than mine.
"So... is that a bisexual?" Booth asked.
"I think that means bisexual," I whispered to Booth, who grinned.
"'A display of homosexual behavior?'" Alex said. "That's an interesting way to put it."
"Humans, like all animals, have biological urges," Brennan said. "It's natural, and observed in many other species, for those urges to be channeled into sexual partners of the same sex."
"How romantic," I said.
"So," Alex said. "Sex is primarily about satisfying 'biological urges?'"
I settled back into my chair, somewhat satisfied, resting an elbow on the back of Alex's chair.
"For some people it is. Including myself. Although, I've found that some partners in my life have met multiple needs," Brennan continued. "Alex, for instance, you were someone I could relate to intellectually as well as sexually. So, what we had was much more than sex. Which was always exemplary by the way."
I sat up, my mouth dropping open.
"Bones," Booth whispered loudly to her behind his hand. "Inappropriate."
"What, Booth?" Brennan said. She looked at me, "I was just communicating a qualitative assessment."
"You know, I'm going to go to play some songs on the jukebox," I said, rising from the table.
"Liv," Alex said, looking at me apologetically. She half stood, but I stopped her, putting a hand on her arm hoping she would get that I needed some space.
"Um, let me help you pick out some songs," Booth said, standing.
"Sure," I said, leaving the table without another word.
Sliding some dollar bills into the machine, I heard Booth approach behind me.
"What is wrong with her?" I said.
"Brennan?" Booth said. "We're working on her social skills. That's sort of how the squints are. The scientists, I mean."
"I can't imagine having a partner like her," I said. "Professionally or romatically. I don't know how you do it."
"Oh... we're just. We're not... together," Booth said.
"I wondered," I said. "So I take it she didn't tell you that she used to satisfy her 'biological urges' with the New York ADA you two would be working with on this case?"
"No. But it's not my business."
"It seemed like you thought it was your business."
"Look," Booth said. "Brennan is really good at... compartmentalizing. Separating her emotions from her work is one of the things she does best."
"Well, I can see a benefit to that," I said. "Given our line of work."
"But, there's something there.... right? With you two?" I asked him.
Booth silently flipped through the song selections, his brown eyes narrowing.
"So, how long have you and Alex been.... lovers?" he said. "I'm sorry, I don't know the right word."
"Girlfriend is fine," I said. "This is pretty new for us."
"But you've..." he raised his eyebrows suggestively.
"I'm not spilling our sex secrets for your entertainment, Booth," I said, smiling.
"Damn," he said.
"But yes," I said. "We have.
Booth nodded, "Thanks for the visual, anyway."
"We're drunk so I'll let you run with that image," I said, taking a drink of my beer. "Alex and I have had something for years. But it's only been within the past couple of months that we've taken our friendship to the next level."
"So you're still figuring each other out?"
"Yeah," I said. "Relating to each other in this way is new. It's amazing, but scary."
"Are you ever.... worried about your work relationship... you know, if things don't work out?"
"Of course," I said. "But that's a risk we were both willing to take."
We turned and looked at Alex and Brennan, who now seemed to be engaged in a lively conversation.
"Well.... she is... attractive," Booth said. "Eh?"
I tilted my head and considered Brennan. Like Alex, she was wearing a well-fitting suit. She had medium-length brown hair and blue eyes that were animated as she talked. She smiled in response to something Alex said, revealing straight, white teeth and then laughed in a voice that carried across the room.
"Yeah. She is," I said. "I'll give her that."
Booth smiled, and clapped me on the back.
"So, if she's not with you, does that mean she's single?" I said, as we turned back to the jukebox.
"Yeah," Booth said. "She doesn't let herself do relationships that well. More of a friends-with-benefits kind of gal."
I looked over my shoulder and noticed that Alex's hand was on Brennan's arm and they were both laughing.
"Great," I said.
Walking into the office carrying a large coffee, I reluctantly peeled off my sunglasses. We had to meet with Cragen at 8 a.m. to get going on the case. For now, we would work in cooperation with Booth and Brennan, who would operate out of the SVU office until we knew where our investigation led.
"Mornin' Sunshine," Fin said, as I passed him.
"Do I look that bad?" I said.
"Rough night," I said. I had eventually left the bar alone last night, insecure, drunk, and missing some details.
On the way to Cragen's office, I stopped by Elliot's desk. He had just arrived and was trying to stomach an egg sandwich.
"How you feeling?" I said.
"Like I got hit by a tank," he said, throwing the remaining half of the sandwich into the trash can. "Come on."
Outside of Cragen's door, Elliot and I knocked before entering. When we walked in, I saw Booth and Brennan already there.
Brennan looked freshly showered and was sipping what looked like an herbal tea.
"Detectives," Cragen said, gesturing for us to sit down.
I saw that someone had set up a small laptop on a small table near Cragen's desk. Through the screen, they were communicating with a young-looking man in a white lab coat.
"Guess we'll just catch up," Elliot mumbled to me.
Cragen shot him a look.
"You were correct, Dr. Brennan. The femur was definitely removed by an oscillating blade," the man on the screen was saying. "Dr. Hodgins is currently examining the particulate matter, but the level of precision indicates a high level of expertise in... amputation."
"Thank you, Zack," Brennan said, closing the computer.
"So, we're looking for a pro here?" Booth said. "Someone who knows how to work a blade."
"Yes," Brennan said.
"The body has been moved to DC, I take it?" Elliot said.
"That's correct. The remains have been shipped to the Jeffersonian," Cragen said. "Dr. Brennan's colleagues are examining them."
Elliot crossed his arms.
"So, we're looking for a doctor here? A surgeon?" I said, before Elliot could get himself into trouble.
"A carpenter, maybe" Brennan said.
"A butcher," Booth supplied.
"A baker," Elliot said. "A candlestick maker."
I stifled a laugh and covered my face with my coffee cup.
Cragen glared at Elliot.
"Working on this case going to be a problem for you Stabler?" he said.
"This just isn't the usual way we do things here," Elliot said.
Cragen turned to me.
"Detective Benson, you and Agent Booth interview the guy who found the body. Brennan... do whatever it is you do," he said. "Get going."
We rose to leave.
"Stabler," Cragen said. "Hold back a minute."
As Booth, Brennan, and I left Cragen's office, I saw Booth wink at Elliot, who stiffened.
Warning Elliot with my eyebrows, I patted him on the shoulder before walking out the door.
"Is he being disciplined?" Brennan asked, as we congregated near my desk.
I turned to Booth.
"We should probably head over to interrogate the witnesses," I said.
I bent down to strap a small gun to my ankle, covering it with my pant leg. As I rose, I saw Brennan watching me.
"Yes?" I said.
"Nothing," she said, looking quickly away.
"She's jealous of your gun," Booth said.
"Booth!" Brennan said.
I heard a door slam and, turning, I saw Elliot emerging from Cragen's office, red-faced.
"Elliot...?" I said.
"I'm off the case," he said, stomping past us.
"Wait here," I told Booth and Brennan as I followed him to his desk.
"What happened?" I whispered.
"Cragen asked if I wanted to remove myself from this case."
"And?" I said.
"I said I thought it was for the best."
"Elliot," I said. "What the hell are you thinking? We're a team."
Elliot shook his head.
"I don't know. This guy just gets to me."
"Booth? Because he's from the FBI?"
"So you sabotaged being able to work on this case?"
"I can't explain it, Liv," he said. "Look, I have to get out of here."
He locked his desk, picked up his jacket, and walked out of the office.
Shaking my head, I walked back to Brennan and Booth.
"There a problem?" Booth asked.
"It's fine," I said. "He's taking a few days."
"Okay, well, the victim was found at a party in Manhattan..." Booth said. "We should start there."
"Come on, I'll drive. I'm guessing I know my way around New York City better than you," I said.
"Let's go," he said, nodding.
As we left Brennan behind, I heard her murmur.
"He never lets me drive."
In Manhattan, we walked up to the apartment gate and pressed the buzzer.
"Hello?" a man's voice said, after a moment.
I announced the presence of the NYPD while Booth simultaneously announced the presence of the FBI.
"Excuse me?" the voice said.
Smiling, I gestured for Booth to speak.
"FBI," he said. "Special Agent Seeley Booth. I'm here with Detective Olivia Benson from NYPD Special Victims Unit. We're here to ask you a few questions."
The gate door buzzed and we walked through it and entered the building.
Rapping on the witness's door, Booth and I held out our badges, for the man to see through the peephole.
"Hi, Scott Reynolds," he said, opening the door. "Thanks for coming. I haven't been able to sleep since... since it happened."
"Can we come in Mr. Reynolds?" I asked.
"Sure," he said. "Of course." He looked pale, and his hands shook.
We walked into his apartment and stood in the living room. Crime scene tape visibly marked off one of the rooms in the apartment.
"Why don't you start at the beginning Mr. Reynolds," I said, moving in closer to him. "Just tell us what you remember. You were having a party two nights ago..."
"It was a casual thing. A get-together for singles," Reynolds began. "I volunteered to host, since I have a pretty big place. You know. For the city."
"The party went off without a hitch," he continued. "But at the end of the night, as people were leaving, I... discovered the woman... her body. In my spare bedroom."
"And nobody seemed to miss her, during the party?" Booth asked.
"Well, no," Reynolds said. "But they wouldn't have."
"Why's that?" I asked, somewhat confused.
"It was a blind date party," he said. "People came alone. It was a meet and greet. Come for a couple hours, maybe meet someone, maybe take someone home. Whatever."
"Okay, we're going to need a list of people who attended, okay?" I said. "And preferably their occupations."
"Ummm..." Reynolds said.
"Umm, what?" Booth said.
"That's going to be just about impossible...At least for me to do..."
Booth and I stared at Reynolds, waiting for him to continue.
"This party. It was a murder mystery party," he said. "You know, Halloween and all. People came in costume, anonymously."
"Did they sign a guestbook… anything?" Booth asked.
"Yes," Reynolds said.
My eyes lit up.
"But they signed in using their murder mystery personas," Reynolds continued.
My shoulders hunched.
"Happy Halloween," Booth said.
"Of all the yuppified ideas-"
"Fin," Cragen said. "Not helping."
"Sorry, sir," Fin said.
"Apparently, this Reynolds guy just hosted the party. The blind date service generated the murder mystery theme, and randomly selected participants..." I said.
"Just how randomly?" Cragen asked.
"We don't know that yet," I said.
"Fin," Cragen said. "You and Munch track this company down and get the guest list."
"I can get a warrant for this today," Alex said. She stood next to Munch and Fin, arms crossed.
I noticed that she was wearing a small silver pendant around her neck. Squinting, I saw that it had some sort of phrase on it in what appeared to be Latin. Mens mentis. I had never seen her wear it before. Mens, something to do with the mind
"If the company doesn't talk, we execute the warrant," he said. "In the meantime, check in with Brennan to see if the folks from the Jeffersonian have any more information. Liv and Booth, find out what the deal is with this Reynolds character."
I nodded, and the group turned to leave Cragen's office. I felt Alex trying to make eye contact with me. Instead, I caught Booth's eye.
"I'm guessing you're going to have your people run a full background on Reynolds?" I said.
"Of course," he said, as we walked out the door. "He seemed pretty keyed up and right now he's our only lead."
"We'll do the same," I said. "Pool our results. We need as much info as we can get on this guy. If he went to med school, we want to know. Same with carpentry background, butchering, anything relevant to... cutting. We're going to have to do this for all the party guests."
"Right," he said. "I'm going to talk to Brennan now and see if the squint squad has any more info for us."
I nodded and walked away, toward my desk. Once there, I began putting my case notes into the file.
I looked up.
It was Alex. She was walking toward me.
"Yeah, what's up?" I said.
"Can I see you in my office?" she asked. Her tone was ice cold, serious.
She passed by my desk without stopping and continued on down the hall. I took my cue and followed her.
As I walked by Munch's desk, I heard him sing, "Uh-oh."
I glared at him before following Alex her into her office. She shut the door and then moved to her desk without saying a word.
I stood with my hands in my pockets with my back to the closed door.
"I'm glad to see you made it home okay last night, Detective," she said, leaning back against her desk and crossing her arms. "I was a little worried."
"You seemed to be having a good time," I said. "I didn't want to intrude."
"So you just left, then?" Alex asked.
"Look," I said, raising my voice, and taking a couple steps toward her. "We had all been drinking, so maybe that explains her behavior. But after about the third time of 'Tempe' alluding to how amazing you are in bed and you not telling her that was inappropriate, I took the hint."
"What hint, Olivia?" Alex said. "Because I sure as hell didn't pick up on it."
"You sure didn't stop it-"
"Temperance doesn't 'allude,' She's very literal. If she had wanted to have sex with me last night, there would be no beating around the bush about it. I would have known."
"Thanks for that special glimpse into her personality," I said, stepping forward.
"I'm just explaining to you that that's just how she is. She wasn't flirting with me," Alex said, standing up straight. "She's too rational for flirtation."
"Rational," I said, stepping forward until I was a few feet in front of Alex. "So that's what mens mentis means, then?"
I had a momentary vision of myself ripping the pendant from her neck. Appalled, I put my hands back in my pockets.
Alex's hand went to the pendant around her neck.
"Intellect, actually," she said. "It was a gift."
"Intellect," I laughed angrily and turned to leave. "Of course."
"You and Agent Booth seem to be getting along nicely," Alex said.
"Don't even-" I turned back around.
"You two barely spoke to anyone else all night."
"What? He and I work well together, Alex," I said, stepping toward Alex again.
"Tall, dark, and brooding," Alex said, taking a step closer to me. "Just your type of guy, right?"
"God, you expect me to respond to that?"
Instead of answering, Alex cupped each side of my face and pulled me to her. As our lips met, my hands moved to her waist, pushing her back against her office door, my hand traveled to the door handle and locked the door. Removing her hands from my face, I then took hold of her wrists, spun her around and pinned her to the door. I used my tongue to open her mouth and when she tried to slide her tongue in, I pulled out, teasing her.
She pushed me forward and, kissing, we moved backwards until we hit the back wall of her office. There, I tugged her suit jacket off of her and let it drop to the floor.
Moaning, she drew me closer, guiding my hands under her shirt, under her bra. Hard nipples strained against my fingers.
"Liv," she said, alternately biting my neck and nipping at my ear. "We can't do this here."
"I know," I said, moving my mouth down to lick and then bite her nipple, which was hard through her shirt. I moved to the other nipple, as my hands caressed the skin of her stomach and back.
"Liv," she whispered, hands at my head. "Don't stop."
"I know," I said.
Moving up to kiss her again, I lifted one of her legs and put it around my waist. Sliding a thigh between her legs I began rocking into her.
Her hands fumbled at my back, under my shirt, trying to undo the clasp of my bra.
"We really... really can't do this here," Alex said, giving up on my bra and encircling my neck with her arms. "We're…" she continued, between kisses.
"Professionals," I said.
I kept rocking against her, and her hips met my rhythm.
"More," she said, into my mouth.
I used one of my hands to reach for the buttons at the front of her pants. Undoing the buttons I slid my hand down her lower stomach, pausing.
"Yes," she said. "Good idea."
I moved my hand lower. She was already wet, so I slid a finger into her, quickly drawing it out to tease her.
She moaned into my ear and drew her hips forward, straining to make contact with me.
As I poised two fingers to enter her, I heard the unmistakable sound of three sharp knocks at the door.
"Oh son of a bitch," she whispered..
"Not the best timing," I said, throwing my head in the direction of the door.
"You're telling me," she said.
We reluctantly separated and quickly began making ourselves presentable. I handed Alex her jacket which she quickly buttoned, hiding evidence of her arousal. I ran a hand through my hair, while Alex adjusted her glasses and walked to the door.
"I'm sorry," she said, opening the door. "I didn't realize the door was locked."
Temperance Brennan stood there.
"Alex," she said. "Are we still on for lunch later?"
She then looked at me, and then back at Alex, whose face was still flushed.
"I'm sorry. I interrupted..." Brennan said.
"I was just leaving," I said under my breath, huffing my way past an open-mouthed Brennan.
"Blind Date Murder Club," the voice on the intercom said.
"FBI," Booth said. "Special Agent Seeley Booth and Detective Olivia Benson, NYPD. We need to ask you a few questions."
We were standing in front of a small storefront. After a few seconds, we heard the click of locks as the front door opened. A middle-aged woman with a cigarette hanging from her mouth opened the door.
"Peggy Ross," she said dully, taking the cigarette from her mouth and exhaling. "Come in." She turned around, leaving the door open and us in a cloud of smoke.
Booth and I followed her into the building. It was a small storefront office filled with packing boxes.
"Going somewhere?" Booth asked.
"Are you serious?" she asked, angrily. "They said I can't move anything yet, but this murder has ruined my business."
"Ms. Ross-" Booth said.
"I know you're blaming me," Ross continued, looking for a place to stamp out her cigarette. "I can see it in your eyes. You think my business was stupid, unsafe. But we background-tested clients."
"We're not blaming you," I said, moving closer to her. I handed her an empty soda can, which she dropped her cigarette into.
"Yet," Booth said.
"Ms. Ross," I said. "We're going to need a list of all attendees at the party Mr. Reynolds hosted."
"Of course," she said. "It's in my database."
"You said 'we,'" Booth said. "How many employees do you have?"
"Just me," she said. "But I occasionally hire independent contractors to work on specific projects or parties."
"For?" Booth said.
"I do most of the script-writing, but I've hired consultants, IT professionals, a marketing pro or two," Ross said.
"We're going to need those names as well," I said.
"Well, Ms. Ross's DNA is not associated with the crime scene or the victim," I said, shutting my phone.
"Not a huge surprise," Booth said. "But we had to rule her out."
Booth's cell phone rang. While he answered it, Dr. Brennan and I sat in silence in the small office, picking at the remains of our take-out.
"No doctors, no butchers," Booth said, hanging up his phone. "We do have a carpenter on the guest list."
"We'll start with him," I said, finishing the last of my egg roll.
"Her," he said. "Actually. We also have a veterinarian. Male."
Among our scattered dinner boxes was Brennan's laptop, which was dialed into the Jeffersonian. During our conference, she had been periodically consulting with members of her team in DC.
"That would be highly unusual," said the latest voice from the screen. This one was attached to a young-looking man in a suit.
"Dr. Sweets," Brennan said. "It is not 'highly unusual' for women to be carpenters."
"No," Sweets said. "That's not what I meant."
"He's a psychologist," Brennan explained to me.
"Female-on-female sexual assault is very rare," Dr. Sweets continued. "Furthermore, almost 90% of serial killers are male."
"We could be looking at a male perp and a female accomplice," I said.
Booth and Brennan nodded.
"Oftentimes, serial killers are men who mask their motives under a facade of normalcy," Sweets continue. "Lacking the capacity to relate to other human beings, their interactions with other people are performances. Which would fit right in with the premise of a role-playing murder mystery party. We're likely looking for a highly organized, intelligent-"
"Thanks Sweets," Brennan said. "But we can take it from here."
She abruptly turned the computer off.
"Dr. Brennan...?" I said.
"We need to utilize actual evidence to solve this case," she said. "Not the speculations of a pseudo-scientist-"
"Okay," Booth said, cutting in. "That's enough."
"What, Booth?" Brennan said. "I hate psychology,."
"We need to get these two suspects in here for questioning," Booth said. "Is Cabot still here?"
"I wouldn't know," I said, looking at Brennan. "Is she?"
"Our lunch this afternoon ran longer than we had intended," Brennan said. "So you might find her still in her office."
Booth nodded and stood, waiting for me to leave with him.
"Go ahead," I said. "I'm going to check in with Munch and Fin."
Booth left the room, leaving Brennan and I alone.
"You know," I said, throwing empty boxes away. "Here in SVU, we often find psychology to be helpful in our cases."
"It's human nature to attribute meaning to what in reality is likely only random luck. Because so little of psychology meets the criteria for science, the field is actually more akin to a belief system than it is to, say, biology or chemistry," Brennan said.
"You talk about it like it's religion."
"Well," Brennan said. "It is like religion."
"Sometimes speculation helps fill in the gaps."
"You sound like Booth," Brennan said, under her breath.
"Human beings aren't robots," I said. "Do you really think we can know all there is to know just by observation?"
"What I can observe about remains is often sufficient to solve FBI cases. Examination of the pelvis tells me a victim's sex. Examination of the teeth, jaw, and endocranial sutures tells me a victim's age. I can determine race by taking cranial measurements-"
"Okay," I said. "So some humans aren't robots."
Brennan furrowed her brow at me.
"Sarcasm?" she asked.
"Yeah," I whispered, turning toward the door.
"Olivia?" she asked, as I brushed by her shoulder.
I turned, meeting her eyes.
"You are obviously carrying unresolved tension in your body from when I interrupted the consummation of your sexual encounter with Alex," she said, touching my arm.
"What are you talking ab-"
"Both you and Alex had demonstrated physiological changes associated with sexual arousal- vasocongestion of the skin, increased respiration, pupil dilation-"
"Okay," I stopped her. "Unless that's your own special way of propositioning me, psychological speculation is not your forte, Dr. Brennan," I said, hating that she was right.
"Oh, it's not psychological speculation. It's observable-" she started, touching my arm.
"That I need to get laid? Don't go there, Brennan," I said, shaking myself out of her grip and leaving the room.
"Look, I didn't even want to go to the stupid thing in the first place," said Rose Gomez, the carpenter, in the interrogation room the next morning.
"Then why did you go? Nothing better to do?" I said.
When she un-crossed her arms, I noticed she was wearing a ring on her left ring finger.
"Somebody there inconveniently find out you're married?" I asked.
"Hello, I'm gay, Detective. So no, not married. Legally anyway," Gomez said. She then exhaled loudly. "I went as a favor to my sister. She didn't want to go alone. And now I can see why."
"Can anyone account for your whereabouts during the party?" I asked.
"Yeah," Rose said. "I spent most of my time talking to the dude dressed as a chemist and then flirting with the hot woman dressed as the sexy sailor."
I raised my eyebrows, looking at her ring.
"What? I had to entertain myself somehow," she said.
"I don't think she's involved," I said, finding Alex, Cragen, Dr. Brennan, and Dr. Huang outside of the interrogation room. They had been observing through the two-way mirror.
"Dr. Huang?" Cragen asked.
"I would agree," said Huang. "She wasn't defensive. She displayed few non-verbal cues associated with guilt or lying. The crime scene suggests that we are dealing with an organized killer. The murder was carefully planned and executed to work within the script of the murder mystery. This particular woman, Rose, appears to have attended the party reluctantly, to please her sister."
"If she was telling the truth," Brennan said.
"Of course," Huang said. "In addition, the MO strongly suggests a male trophy collector- someone who takes souvenirs from his victims, in this case their body parts, to remind himself of his achievements. Given what he has taken thus far from his victims, all of whom have been attractive women, he seems to be creating the ultimate memoir of his crimes:the perfect woman. A Frankenstein monster-"
"Actually-" Brennan started.
"Frankenstein was the scientist," Alex said. "Not the monster."
I rolled my eyes.
"In any event," Huang continued, "Given the level of planning and organization required for this sort of pattern, we are likely looking at a man with a high level of intelligence. He considers himself to be very rational, a perfectionist likely, but he finds sexual pleasure in the power he exerts over beautiful women. He hides his detachment from suffering under a performance of normalcy."
"Interesting," said Brennan.
"I thought you hated psychology," I said.
"It is true that I think Dr. Huang's considerable intellect is under-utilized in the fields of criminal profiling and pathopsychology. Nonetheless as a physician he is a real doctor and his opinions should be given somewhat more weight than the musings of a mere psychologist."
"But," I said. "He said something similar to what Dr. Sweets said..."
"'In this world, the lucky person passes for a genius,'" Brennan said.
"Euripedes," Alex said, giving Brennan a knowing nod.
"We'll get a sample of Gomez's DNA anyway," Cragen said. "Just to be certain."
"That's a good idea," Brennan said.
"Moving on," I said. "How's Booth doing with the veterinarian?"
"Let's watch," said Huang.
To our left was another two-way mirror, behind which contained the room where Booth was interrogating the other suspect, Jack Terry.
"Can anyone else verify your whereabouts during the party?" Booth was asking him.
"Yeah," Terry said. "I talked to some women- the sexy ship captain, the sexy deckhand, the sexy cocktail waitress-"
"I'm picking up on a trend here," I said, outside of the interrogation room.
"That for Halloween costume purposes, the female version of all occupations have to be erotically stimulating?" Brennan said.
"That," I said. "And something else. Judging by the costumes, the murder mystery theme was ship-related."
"And?" Alex asked.
"Rose said she spent the evening chatting with a male chemist..." I said.
"And what was a chemist doing at a ship-themed murder mystery party?" Alex said.
"Exactly," I said. "And..."
"Frankenstein was the scientist," Alex said.
"Who created the monster," Brennan said.
"Let's get that script," I said, pulling out my phone. "It looks like the murder mystery party had an uninvited guest."
"I have a sketch artist at the Jeffersonian," Brennan said. "She will want to talk to Rose. We can set up a teleconference."
"Well done, Liv," Huang said softly in my ear, as we turned to leave.
xxxx End of Part I xxxx
To be continued in part 2
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