Love Me When I'm Gone
By Maquis Leader
always be there
So love me when I'm gone
~ 3 Doors Down, When I’m Gone
Author’s note: Set after the series finale of Angel and the season 3 finale of Bones
“The body’s right over here, right in that last brush pile.”
“Body?” Brennan stopped. “I thought you said it was skeletal remains.”
“Bones – “ Booth nearly collided with her.
“Yeah, that’s right, bones.” The sheriff agreed.
“So is it bones or a body?” She asked, frowning as Booth gave her a push.
“It’s a body. You know, a skeleton.”
Booth couldn’t hold back a grin. “I think what Dr. Brennan is asking is does the skeleton have any meat on its bones?”
“No, no.” Sheriff Samuels continued to lead them up the roped off path. “Hell, no, he’s been nothin’ but skin and bone for years.”
“There’s skin?” Hearing Booth laugh, she shot a glare over her shoulder. “It’s important to properly classify remains. If there’s skin, then the remains are unlikely to be old enough to be Mr. Cooper.”
“Oh, it’s D.B., all right.” The sheriff stepped up onto the trunk of a felled tree and pointed down with his flashlight. A skeleton lay in the hollow formed by the trunks of several trees. “See for yourself.”
“I intend to.”
Brennan shined her flashlight over the skeleton and around it. There were the tattered remains of what could have been a parachute as well as remnants of what could be clothing. “The straps crossing the body are a good indication that whoever this was, he was wearing a parachute at the time of death.”
“It’s D.B. Cooper.” The Sheriff insisted.
“That remains to be seen.” Booth chuckled. “Get it, Bones? Remains?”
“I won’t know who it is until I get the remains back to the lab.” She eased herself into the hollow next to the remains.
“It’s – “
“And please don’t say that it’s Mr. Cooper again.” She interrupted.
The sheriff frowned. “I don’t think you understand how important this is.”
“Trust me, Bones knows how important it is to identify a body.” Booth assured him. “As soon as she’s sure – she’ll say so.”
“I’m already sure.” The sheriff said.
“Without proper examination, there’s no way to be certain who this is.” Carefully examining the skeleton, Brennan frowned. “The remains aren’t in good condition. It appears that some of the bones were fractured post-mortem.”
“That’d be from the bulldozers, most likely.” Samuels told her. “The construction crew cut down the trees and then pushed them out of the way with bulldozers so they could start building.” The sheriff waved at the raw, scraped stretch of ground that was filled with police and emergency vehicles.
“So whatdya think, Bones?” Booth leaned down to peer into the hollow. “This the famous D.B. Cooper?”
“All I can tell at this point is that it’s a male, approximate age thirty to thirty-five years. Cause of death is inconclusive.” She held up a broken femur and frowned. “There’s evidence of trauma as well as animal gnawing.”
“Animal – “ Booth shuddered. “Hope he was dead by then.”
“Maybe…” She frowned at the marks on the bone. “In this light, it’s impossible to tell. I won’t be certain until I can examine the remains at the lab.”
“I thought this lady was an expert.” Samuels frowned at Booth. “She can’t tell this is D.B. Cooper just by looking at him?”
“It’s a little more involved than that.” Booth told him. “There’s this whole complicated lab thing the squints have to do.”
“Why is it so important that this is Mr. Cooper?” Brennan laid the femur down exactly where she’d found it.
“Are you serious, lady? Finding D.B. Cooper would put this town on the map!”
“It’s Doctor, and the town is already on the map. How do you think we found it?”
“What he means, Bones, is that it would make the town famous.” Booth clarified.
“I’m confused.” She looked up at him. “How will finding these remains make the town famous?”
“Because it’s – “
“I know – Mr. Cooper.” The sheriff was as annoying as a cracked record.
“Bones, come on.” Booth was used to her being ignorant of a lot of pop culture references – most pop culture references – but everyone had heard of the man who’d hijacked a plane, jumped, and disappeared with two hundred thousand dollars over the Washington wilderness. “D.B. Cooper? Famous hijacker? Never found? Never caught?”
“Never heard of him,” Brennan said as she went back to examining the remains.
“Is she serious?” The sheriff asked Booth.
“Ma’am it’s like this – you see, Amboy gets all the attention and tourists – and the tourist's money because of that parachute that was found there a few years ago. It turned out not to be Cooper’s, but the tourists keep comin’.” Samuels told her. “But finding his body here will bring the tourists here.”
Booth nodded. “T-shirts, hats, tours – lotta money there.”
“That’s ridiculous!” Brennan was offended at the idea. “You can’t profit from someone’s death!”
“Hey, nobody told him to jump out of a perfectly good airplane.” The sheriff shot back.
“Exactly – hey – “ Booth turned to the sheriff. “You Army?”
“Hell, yeah. Two tours in ‘Nam.”
“Hooah! Rangers. First Gulf War.”
She watched them shake hands like old friends. “Men. You may dress like you’re civilized, but you’re still Neanderthals underneath.”
“You know how I’m sure it’s D.B.?” Without waiting for them to answer, Samuels continued. “Because the ‘chute is nylon.”
Booth’s eyebrows went up. Cooper’s ‘chute had been nylon, not silk, a fact that wasn’t commonly known.
“It’s – “ Frowning, Brennan examined a piece of the parachute like material. “How do you know that?”
“I felt it.” Samuels told her.
Oh my God! Booth grabbed the man’s arm. “Sheriff, what say you and me go get started on my report? Bones, I’ll send the team up to help you pack Cooper up.”
“You touched my crime scene?” She started to stand up, stopping as her head brushed the tree trunks above her.
“I just felt a piece of the chute.” The sheriff protested as Booth pulled him away from where the remains were. “I know proper procedure around a crime scene! I had gloves on, and I never touched the body.”
“I hope not, or your body will be next to it.” Booth muttered.
“Nothing – ah – so it was kids that found the remains?” Quickly, Booth hustled the sheriff off the pile of trees and toward the command post that had been set up in one of the partially completed houses.
“Kids? Oh, yeah, damn kids like to climb all over these brush piles.” He stepped off the bottom tree trunk and onto the raw, scraped earth. “Hell, I did it when I was a kid. It’s like a fort or something, you know?”
“Fun, but dangerous.”
“That was half the fun.” He laughed.
Booth grinned in response. “And hoping Mom didn’t find out.”
At the command post, Booth took a seat at one of the desks that had been set up, waving the Sheriff Samuels toward the other chair. “Let’s start at the beginning. What time did they find the body?”
“I finished my reports while I was waiting on you Feds to get here.” He pulled a sheaf of papers out of his jacket pocket and handed them to Booth.
Leafing through the pages, Booth found that Sherriff Samuels had already collected statements from the boys who’d found the remains, as well from as the first responders. Normally reports and witness statements were long and boring, and local LEOs had a tendency to interject their own thoughts and conclusions. But not this time, Sheriff Samuels was direct and accurate.
Booth whistled in appreciation as he looked over the comprehensive report. “You haven’t been a county sheriff all your life.”
“Nope. I was an MP in the Army and then served fifteen years in the Seattle PD before I moved out here to Cougar.” He smiled. “At a certain age, a man wants to have children and raise them someplace safe.”
“I hear you.” He thought about Parker for a moment. He’d love to move out of D.C., but it was where his career had taken him.
“Well, you’ve got my report. If that’s all, I better get back to the office. Cougar’s a quiet town, but things do happen. Might be a dog in somebody’s trash.” The sheriff grinned as he stood up and shook Booth’s hand. “You need anything else, just holler. I’ll be getting my speech ready.”
“You’re awfully confident that pile of bones is really D.B. Cooper.”
Samuels grin widened as he walked outside. Partway to his car, he paused and looked over his shoulder. “Did I forget to mention the money in his bag?”
“Money?” Booth’s eyebrows went up. “There’s money?”
“Just a few bills – I didn’t touch ‘em.” He held a finger up. “But I did jot down the serial numbers, and I’m pretty sure you’re going to find they match up to the ones the FBI has on file.”
Booth laughed as the sheriff got into his car. This trip to the Washington backwoods was turning out to be more fun than he’d thought it’d be. He turned to go back inside the command post and almost collided with an older man who’d walked up behind him. “Whoa! Sorry!”
“Angel?” The old man reached out to him.
“Are you okay?” He seemed unsteady and Booth grasped his forearm. “Do you need to sit down?”
“It’s good to see you. I’ve wondered many times where you’d gone.”
“Uh…” Booth wasn’t sure how to answer that. He took a good look at the man. He was in his mid to late sixties, American Indian, but he didn’t look familiar. There were too many locals wandering around just outside the taped-off area, and he never really committed their names and faces to memory unless they were a suspect, acted like a suspect, or were someone important – and possibly a suspect.
“It’s Yiska, you remember me, don’t you?”
“I’m sorry, sir. I don’t think we’ve met.” Booth let go of the man’s arm and took a step back. “You really need to be on the other side of the tape. This area is a crime scene.”
“In ’79, you were here.” He leaned in and lowered his voice. “The others are all gone now, Angel. You’re safe.”
“No offense, but I’m not who you think I am.” He certainly wasn’t anybody’s angel. He hated it when Rebecca or any of his girlfriends called him angel. “My name’s Booth. Special Agent Seeley Booth with the FBI.”
“I don’t understand.” Yiska looked confused.
Booth didn’t want to hurt the old man’s feelings – and it was never a good idea to piss off the locals – but he suspected the old man was a few sandwiches short of a picnic. “You know, I really hate to rush off, but I have work to do.”
“Yiska!” Sheriff Samuels had gotten out of his car. “Yiska, you leave Agent Booth alone. He doesn’t have time for your stories.”
“You probably don’t recognize me. Thirty years is nothing to you, and I’m old and wrinkled now.” The Indian grinned. “But not toothless. You’re exactly the same, though. Like not a day has passed.”
Samuels took a hold of Yiska’s arm. “Let me take you home. It’s too cold for you to be out here this late.”
“I’m just talking with an old friend.” The old man protested.
“I’m sorry, but I was only like six in 1979.” Booth shook his head. “You must have me confused with someone else.”
“Kevin, take Yiska on home.” The sheriff motioned to one of his deputies standing nearby.
“But – “ Yiska looked from Booth to Samuels. It occurred to him that Angel believed he couldn’t talk in front of the sheriff. “You’re right, maybe I’ve mistaken you for someone else.”
“No problem.” Booth assured him.
As the deputy led the old man away, Sheriff Samuels apologized. “Sorry ‘bout that. Yiska’s crazy as hell. Harmless, mind you, but crazy. He’s got this tall tale about a woman guarding the volcano.” He laughed. “I always say she didn’t do a very good job – the damn thing blew up.”
Booth laughed with him. “Don’t worry. Every place has their share, and I’ve met most of them.”
The sheriff gave him a friendly slap on the back and walked back to his car.
Booth looked up as Bones walked into the command post. “All done?” He was finished with his paperwork and he’d nearly run his phone’s battery down playing games. “Cooper all bagged up and ready to go?”
She arched an eyebrow. “Don’t tell me you believe Sheriff Samuels?”
“Hey, there’s a good chance it’s him.” He put his phone away. “Especially if those serial numbers check out.”
“On the money.”
Brennan’s eyes narrowed. “How did you know about the money?”
“Samuels told me. He didn’t touch it – “ He added quickly. “He just wrote down the numbers he could see.”
“Why aren’t you upset? You always get upset when the local authorities interfere with our crime scene. How is this time different?”
Our crime scene? Booth grinned. Bones was softening toward him again. Things were nearly back to normal after the rift his “death” had caused. “He didn’t interfere, and he’s been very helpful.”
“Helpful? By constantly trying to convince everyone that the remains are Mr. Cooper’s? If you consider that helpful, then, yes, he’s been extremely helpful.”
“It’d do a lot for this town if it was, you know?” He shrugged. “What’s it hurt?”
“Speculation based on a desire with no proof is pointless.”
“Yeah… kinda like trying to stay awake to catch Santa.” At her look, he held up a hand. “Never mind. Let’s go. I promised Parker I’d take him to the ballgame tomorrow afternoon.”
Brennan followed him to their rented SUV. Her team had already left. They’d meet up again at the Portland airport so that she could oversee the loading of the remains onto the plane for the flight back to the Jeffersonian.
“You’re seeing Parker? It’s the middle of the week.”
“So you only have Parker on alternating weekends. Never during the week until after school is out, which it’s not, and then you have him for two weeks, which is when you take your vacation.”
“Rebecca let me trade this coming weekend for tomorrow.” Interesting that Bones had his visitation schedule down.
“You traded two days for one day? That’s hardly fair.”
“It’s fair.” He tried not to let it show how much it had cost him to get Rebecca to agree to the swap. “This coming weekend is the marksman competition in LA, remember?”
“Why not just trade weekends? Or just take Parker with you?” She frowned as Booth jerked the truck door open with a little more force than was technically necessary, causing it to rebound and close again. “I’m sure he’d love to watch you compete. It would be a perfect father and son bonding experience. It goes back to man’s primitive beginnings. Skill at the hunt was how a man provided for his family, and passing that skill on to his sons was important.”
“Rebecca doesn’t want him to be around guns or shooting.” His good mood was rapidly vanishing. “She doesn’t want him to be exposed to violence.”
“That’s completely unrealistic. Even putting aside the fact that you’re an FBI agent who’s required to carry a gun – children are exposed to a constant barrage of violence from cartoons, commercials, video games, music – “
“Bones, please.” He’d pled his case with Rebecca using a lot of the same logic – but with smaller words and more volume – to no effect. Swapping weekends had also been shot down because she had plans to take Parker to visit her parents that weekend.
Over the roof of the truck, Brennan met his gaze. “Booth, you really need to formalize your custody agreement with Rebecca. You’re Parker’s father. You have rights.”
“Damn it, Bones! Let it go!” He slapped his hand down on the roof of the truck, startling her.
Suddenly aware she’d stepped into an area that she shouldn’t, Brennan flushed. “I’m sorry, Booth. I just – “
“It’s okay.” He assured her. “I just don’t want to talk about it, okay?” If he wasn’t afraid that Rebecca would deny him any visitation with Parker, Booth would have insisted on a legal agreement years ago.
Booth opened the truck door again, ready to head back to civilization, when he heard running footsteps behind him. Booth turned, his hand moving to the butt of his gun.
Booth sighed and hung his head. The crazy old Indian was back, running toward him and waving something.
“Angel, look – look – at – “ The old man came to a gasping stop. “Look what – I found – “
Brennan had walked around to Booth’s side, alarmed by the older man’s wheezing and his reddened face. “You should sit down.”
“No, no, he’s not sitting down. He’s going home.” Booth told her. “You get back in the car.”
“Booth! This man needs to rest.” She guided Yiska around Booth and the open door so that he could sit down in the driver’s seat.
“Here, Angel.” The Indian thrust the picture at Booth. “Look.”
Booth reluctantly took the picture. Who knew what it was of, and it was never a good idea to indulge delusions. “Number one, my name isn’t Angel. And number two, this isn’t – “ He blinked.
The photo was of a smiling, much younger Yiska standing next to an unsmiling man with a long shaggy haircut that had been popular in the 1970’s. The man in the picture looked exactly like him.
“It is. Why don’t you remember?” Yiska shook his head in frustration.
“Wow!” Brennan took the picture from Booth. “What an amazing resemblance.”
“So it’s some guy who looks a little like me. Who cares?” Booth motioned for Yiska to get out of the SUV. “Come on, let’s go. Out.”
“It’s not a resemblance, it’s you!” Yiska insisted. “Look closely – you must remember! We may need your help again! The mountain still boils!”
“Listen, buddy, I don’t want to hurt your feelings or anything.” He said gently. “But I’ve only been to Washington once, and that was just a year or so ago.”
“Booth, I think this is you.” Brennan had her nose practically on the old photo.
“Bones, you’re not helping.” He snatched the picture from her. “Look how old this thing is. It’s all yellowed and cracked; it’s probably older than I am.”
“Logically, I know that, but – “ She switched her flashlight on and shined the light on the photograph. “I don’t know how, but this is you in this photograph.”
Yiska nodded. “It is him! I don’t know why he doesn’t remember.”
“Amnesia possibly?” Brennan offered.
“Oh, great. Sure, help him out.” Booth let her take the photo once again. “It’s just a coincidence, Bones. They say everyone has an identical twin out there – “ He made an ‘out there’ motion with his hands. “ – somewhere.”
“Who’s they? They’re wrong.” Brennan shook her head at the ignorance of they. “It’s impossible to haven an identical twin unless it’s a biological identical twin. And even then there can be scars or blemishes that one twin has but the other twin doesn’t.” She looked up at him. “Do you have an identical twin?”
“No.” His lips quirked up in a grin. “My mother said one of me was enough.”
“Maybe she gave him away.”
“What? My mother wouldn’t do that!” He said indignantly.
“Then this is you.” Brennan went back to the photo. “Look at the skeletal structure – the ears, jaw line, the spacing between the eyes. Everyone’s face is different – unique. This is you – when you’re moody.”
“I not moody, and this isn’t me!”
Yiska nodded. “Angel didn’t talk this much before. He was very quiet – he brooded a lot.”
“I don’t – didn’t – brood – this isn’t me!” Booth tapped the man in the photo. “Look at the clothes and the things in the background! Look at that phone, it’s an antique – and that hair! That went out with disco! That’s not me!”
“He was angry like this.” The old man told her. “Very angry at the world.”
Brennan nodded in agreement. “Booth does have an extremely volatile temper. It’s an element of the alpha male makeup; it’s part of what makes him so good at his job.”
Mouth gaping, Booth spun around and clenched his hands together. He couldn’t kill Bones – there were too many witnesses. “It’s not me!”
“Can I have this?” She held up the photo.
“Yes. I don’t need it anymore.” Yiska got up and looked at Booth sadly. “Goodbye, Angel.” He walked away, his shoulders slumped.
“What do you want that for?” Booth tried to take the photograph from her, but Brennan stepped away.
“I’m going to show it to Angela.” She walked around the SUV and got in.
“Why?” He slid into his seat.
“Because she’s the expert in facial reconstruction. She can examine the photograph and prove to you that this is you.”
The urge to bang his head against the steering wheel was nearly overwhelming.