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Submitted By tmcnab
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Chapter One

Brennan had been having an average day at the lab. She had no open FBI cases and finished up with the paperwork from her last few modular skeletal storage, or Limbo as most in the lab referred to them, remains. Glancing at the clock she saw that it was only seven P.M. and she decided rather than starting on a new set of remains, that would end up keeping her in the lab well past midnight, she would settle for writing on her book. She was idly opening the file on her computer when it happened.

The ringing of her office phone. Of course she didn’t think anything of it at the moment, why would she? She often received calls to her direct line at the lab. She never even thought twice answering it. This phone call however turned her world upside down in mere seconds. “Brennan,” She spoke in her usual dismissive manner into the phone.

Her demeanor didn’t change when the voice first spoke; she simply held the phone to her ear slightly irritated at the interruption. As the voice continued to speak however her spine stiffened and her heart raced as her eyes grew wide in disbelief. She felt as though she was going to actually have a heart attack as panic began to set in. This can’t be happening.

Trying to calm herself enough to speak she began taking deep breaths as the voice continued relaying information. “Where did you say?” Her voice was shaking as she spoke and she mentally chided herself. Her hand was also shaking as she reached out for a pen to write the information down. What she managed to scribble down on the paper was barely legible, but as she was unable to control the tremor running through her body at the moment she figured it would have to do. She could at least understand what she wrote, having heard it.

After abruptly hanging up her desk phone she shut off her computer, still trembling violently, as she tried to calm herself, mentally she went over all the things she would have to do. Once she had regained most of her decorum she stood gingerly, almost afraid that the tremors she had experienced would once again course through her limbs. Luckily they did not, and she was able to go about her office rounding up her things. As she finally had her jacket on and her laptop bag dangling from her shoulder she set out to see Dr. Saroyan, hoping that she would still be in the office at this late hour, as she noted her watch stated it was now 8:30 P.M.

As she walked she pondered how long she must have sat trying to regain control of her body. She was appalled that she lacked the self control in this situation that she usually prided herself on. Still she could feel the unbridled panic beginning to edge its way towards the surface again as she reached Cam’s office. She reached out to knock however noting how dark it was inside the office she let out a long sigh. Cam had left and Brennan needed to speak with her immediately to let her know she wouldn’t be available for the next few days at least.

As she continued walking towards the exit she managed to pull out her cell phone and surreptitiously dialed Cam’s cell number. Once she heard the click indicating that Cam had picked up her phone Brennan didn’t even give her a chance to speak, “Cam, I apologize for the short notice but I have an important issue that I have to deal with right away and will be unable to report to the lab for the next few days at least.”

Brennan had thought she was being blunt, that there would be no questions, however Cam’s response told her otherwise, concern evident in her voice, “Dr. Brennan, is everything okay? Is this a work related issue or one of a more personal nature?”

“Dr. Saroyan it is of a personal nature which I would prefer not to discuss. Although if you are looking for specific reasoning for my prolonged absence from the lab I suppose you could state that it is a family emergency of sorts.” Brennan rattled off before giving herself time to adequately think through her answer. She was now in her car turning the engine over as more important thoughts flew through her brain, thoughts of packing and booking flights.

“Dr. Brennan,” Cam sounded even more concerned now and Brennan was getting frustrated as she pulled out of her parking spot and drove toward the exit after putting her phone through the car so that she didn’t need to hold it and could concentrate on driving. “Is it Russ? Or your father?”

“No Cam really it’s nothing for you to be concerned with. I’m sure I’ll be back in a few days and everything will be fine.” Brennan stated firmly.

“Alright Dr. Brennan,” Cam sounded exasperated now, “I suppose I’ll be waiting to hear from you when you are able to determine for how many days you’ll be out of the lab.”

“Thank you Dr. Saroyan.” Brennan’s voice had calmed slightly now that she no longer had to make explanations for things she wasn’t really certain she understood herself. “Please do me the courtesy of keeping the fact that I am away on a family emergency to yourself as the last thing I need in the midst of this mess is Angela or Booth giving me grief over this.”

“Dr. Brennan,” Cam sounded shocked now, “You mean, Booth and Angela don’t know you are…”

“No Dr. Saroyan,” Brennan hastily interrupted her, agitation now evident in her voice, “This is a personal matter to which they have no business being privy.” To anyone who didn’t know Dr. Brennan she would have come off as cold at this point, but Cam knew better. Brennan didn’t realize that had either of those two people heard that comment it would have stung them. She simply believed she was capable of handling things for herself, and generally, Cam had to acknowledge, she was right.

“Alright Dr. Brennan,” Cam let out through a sigh as she tried to figure out how she would explain the doctor’s sudden absence to her overprotective FBI partner, not to mention her prone to freak outs best friend without spilling the proverbial beans, “I won’t tell them that you are out on family business, however they will surely realize something is wrong if you haven’t contacted them.”

“That’s fine Cam, I’m…” Brennan’s voice was now shaky, Cam realized for the first time it had had a slight tremble throughout more of the conversation, “I’ll deal with it when I get back. Thank you.”

“Let me know if you need anything Dr. Brennan.” Cam stated, though Brennan barely heard as she was already disconnecting her phone as she pulled into her parking spot at her apartment. Rushing out of the car and up to the apartment she placed a call to the airport and secured a first class ticket, one way as she wasn’t certain how long she would be staying, to Portland, Oregon.

While she had been securing her flight she had made it into the apartment and into her bedroom. After ending the call she tossed the phone haphazardly onto her bed, and proceeded to pull out her suitcase and lay it atop her bed as well. Splaying it open, she grabbed articles of clothing out of her drawers and tossed them into the suitcase. Brennan was normally a meticulous person, organizing her articles and laying them neatly into her suitcase, this time however she felt her heart rate speed rapidly as she packed and all she could force herself to think was that she would need clothes. She couldn’t bring herself to take the time to lay them neatly in her suitcase as her anxiety rose once again. How could this happen. I never…never even considered something like this might…

Her thoughts trailed as she went to her bathroom to pack her toiletries into a smaller bag. Shoving everything she would need into the small bag she then stuffed it into her overflowing suitcase as well before slamming it shut and zipping it. She then reached across her bed for her phone and pocketed it, glancing at the clock she saw she had two hours until her flight, which immediately flooded her with an irrevocable sensation to regurgitate. She fought the urge as she acknowledged that she had to get to the airport soon or they wouldn’t allow her to board.

She locked up as she left her apartment, her mind was centered around one thing alone, what was she going to do when she got there? All her fears came rushing in on her as she drove to the airport. When she arrived and acquired her ticket to the outside observer she would have appeared calm and collected, as most usually would describe her. However on the inside her mind couldn’t stop racing with ‘what ifs’. What if I hadn’t ever? No that was wrong to think. What if I get there only to be rebuffed? What if I’m truly hated? What if this is all a misunderstanding and I get there only to have to turn around before I even get to see… Disappointment flooded her as she thought of that possibility, while her fear seemed to heighten at the rest of her quandaries.

After finally boarding she attempted to calm herself, but to no avail. She just couldn’t believe this was happening now. Her life had finally been in a comfortable place, she loved what she did, and she had complete confidence in her abilities. That is, until that phone call. Although amidst all the panic lay another sensation she was having trouble identifying. A feeling she could only describe as pleasant, that is until a plethora of other emotions began to take hold, she was flooded with feelings of guilt and remorse, anticipation and joy, which sadly led her right back to panic as she tried to compartmentalize all of these feelings and found that she could not.

Chapter 2

The droning sound of a cell phone woke a restless Seeley Booth up in the wee hours of the morning. His eyes still closed he let his hand roam over to his nightstand to grope for the offending object as he let out a frustrated groan. His groan ended as he brought the object to his ear and hit the answer key, “Booth” He grumbled out harshly. As he listened intently to the voice on the other end of the phone he used his opposite hand to reach up and rub the sleep that had accumulated in his eyes away before finally opening them and turning on his bedside light, grunting an affirmation every once in awhile before hanging up the phone.

He growled slightly, perturbed at being woken at, he looked at the clock as he rose from his bed, 4:30 in the morning. He decided he would take a quick shower before calling his partner and waking her up as well. He would just stop by with coffee as he had the last time they had an early morning case, however the images that flew into his mind causing him to remember finding that she had company made that an unwelcoming thought. He wasn’t sure he could bare seeing a half naked man coming from her bedroom again, his feelings for her becoming more pronounced by the day and not at all fading as Sweets had stated they would. He was sure seeing that she had another man in her bed would crush him, so he decided on the phone call instead.

He raced through his shower and tried to call her home phone, receiving no answer he quickly dialed her cell, but when all he received was her voicemail he decided to leave her a quick message, hoping that she was waking up and hadn’t made it to the phone in time. He was sure if that was the case she would check her messages instantly, if not call him right back upon seeing his number displayed on her caller ID. “Bones, it’s me.” He said his voice still hadn’t shaken it’s early morning gruffness, but at the same time he kept his tone low and tender, not wanting her to believe he was irritated with her, “I just got a call, we’ve got a body. I’m on my way over to pick you up, so if you get this before I get there, please start getting ready. Thanks Bones.”

Upon hanging up he worked through the rest of his morning routine, laying his towel across the bed as he slid on his boxers, and set about picking a suit for the day. He picked out a pair of Green and purple stripped socks and the blue and white shiny tie that Parker had gotten him as a gift. Once he was properly dressed and had shoes on his feet he strapped his gun in his holster before sliding on his jacket, grabbing his keys and heading out the door.

On his way he thought it wise to stop and pick up some coffee and pastries, just in case he did in fact find her still asleep when he arrived. After purchasing her favorite breakfast pastry as well as one for himself he doctored the coffees the way they each liked them and set off towards her house. Upon his first sip of the enticingly hot amber liquid a smile graced his face. Something told him this was going to be a good day.

He always enjoyed it when he got to work with the squints, and he had realized that it had been almost a week since their last case together. Not that it had stopped him from going to the lab and dragging her away from limbo to have lunch with him, but a mere hour a day with her was almost as torturous as not seeing her at all. So this case, though it made him sad due to the loss of someone’s life, also made him happy in the fact that he would get to spend more time with his favorite squint.

He found out exactly how mistaken he was about this being a good day shortly after arriving at her apartment. He had tried knocking, not once but three times, each time getting louder. He knew she may find it wrong of him to do so, but the worry was getting to him as he bit his lower lip and shifted on his feet, so he reached into his coat pocket to fish out his keys.

Hastily separating her spare key that she had given him for emergencies only: as she had put. He battled with himself as to whether he should just try knocking one more time slightly louder than the last time. Perhaps she was just exhausted from working at the lab so late, as she often did, and was sleeping too deeply. He couldn’t bring himself to think about the other reasons she would have to be sleeping so deeply, though as much as he tried not the think about it the thoughts of her with another man still crept into his head.

Aggravated he deemed that this was most definitely an emergency; he slipped the key into the lock quickly and swept it to the side, effectively releasing the lock. He quietly opened the door and was about to call her name out when he caught the fact that her living room light was on. Cautiously he crept in through the door, pulling out his gun just in case.

He tried to rationalize as he was sure she would, perhaps she had turned the light on in case he arrived while she had gone to take a shower and she didn’t hear his knocking. As he made his way further into the apartment he saw that her bedroom light was also on, and her bathroom door was wide open. “Bones?” He finally managed to call out.

Receiving no reply he made his way further into the hall towards her bedroom. When he reached the door he froze momentarily. Clothes were strewn about the room, and her bed looked as if it hadn’t been slept in. It looked at though a struggle had ensued in here, and he continued to look around. No one was there, fear began to course through his body as his heart sped.

He holstered his gun and began reaching for his cell phone, which at that exact moment began to ring, “Booth.” He nearly shouted into the phone as he answered, his eyes never leaving the mess strewn about her room.

“Booth, its Cam…” She began, but as soon as she had stated who she was Booth interrupted, speaking so quickly she could hardly understand him.

“Cam, I’m at Brennan’s. The place is a mess, I was about to call…”

“Booth!” Cam finally shouted to get his attention, “That’s what I was calling you about, Dr. Brennan. I just got a call that you two had been called to investigate a body and since they couldn’t get a hold of her they called me. I just got off the phone with them.” She could tell even over the phone how agitated he was due to his rapid breathing.

“That’s…”

“No Seeley,” Cam cut him off again, “I’m calling because she took leave. She said…” Cam stopped herself, as she almost revealed too much, “She said she needed some time off, so she wouldn’t be there.”

“Her place though Cam…It’s a mess.” Her grunted out, his voice still agitated though a hint of hurt at the news of her absence. Why wouldn’t she tell me personally? “It looks like…like…” He trailed off as he finally spotted her open closet door and saw that her favorite suitcase was missing. A sad sigh that was tempered with relief could be heard through the phone as he put the pieces together, “It looks like she left in an awful rush. Any clue why Cam?”

“She didn’t give me specifics Booth, why don’t you meet me at the scene; I’m already on my way there.” Cam said sharply before snapping her phone shut and ending the call. She hadn’t actually lied to him, she had no idea of the specifics of this supposed ‘family emergency’, just that Dr. Brennan had been in a near state of panic, no matter how much she had tried to hide it, and that she wanted it to be kept private. Cam didn’t even think she would have told her if not for the fact that she was technically Brennan’s boss.

Cam let out a heavy sigh, hearing Booth’s voice over the phone would be nothing to what he would be like in person, and she certainly wasn’t looking forward to dealing with that. She had no idea how she would keep what she did know from him, as he was incredibly insightful, and had known her a long time. He’d probably be able to smell the lie on her. She did know more, she just wasn’t allowed to let any of it out. Cam sighed again as she pulled into the crime scene, argh…it’s going to be a long couple of days while she’s gone.

Turning off the engine she went to the rear of her car and leaned against, dawn fast approaching and the lightening clouds affording her a little more visibility as she waited patiently for the irate FBI agent she would be forced to deal with. A long few days indeed, she thought again as she saw his SUV peel around the corner and head in her direction. His driving style definitely reflecting his current mood; angry, upset, and probably downright hurt since the good doctor hadn’t informed him of her absence herself.

Chapter 3

As she exited the plane she glanced down at her watch, 4:30 am in DC. Resetting her watch to the appropriate time zone it now gleamed 1:30 am at her and she sighed with relief. She wasn’t supposed to meet up with the lawyer that had called until 8:00 AM, so she had some time to find a hotel and get a few hours sleep. The plane ride had been a horrendous five and a half hours long, and she couldn’t get any sleep on it at all.

She spent her time sorting through all the information she had and worrying about what was to come before coming to the rational conclusion that she couldn’t deal with what was to come now. She could only deal with it as it presented itself, and she had steeled herself away to do just that. So she had decided she would collect her luggage and find a hotel to try and get some sleep. Much needed sleep if she was going to get through the next day, she was going to need to be strong and in control of her emotions. She didn’t think she’d be able if she had gotten no sleep.

She had checked for hotels between the hospital, where she would surely be spending a lot of time, and the lawyer’s office. She found one that was slightly closer to the hospital but close enough to both and arranged to stay there. She sighed heavily upon entering her room, dropping her bags just inside the entrance and searching throughout one of the larger bags for her toiletry bag and something to sleep in.

She knew she needed sleep, and she felt exhausted, so after getting her toiletry bag and heading into the bathroom to brush her teeth and get changed she collapsed onto the bed after setting the bedside alarm clock. She had hoped to drift right to sleep but her mind still plagued her with all the ‘what ifs’. She tossed and turned while trying desperately to quiet her mind. After what felt like hours she finally managed to fall into a fitful sleep.

What seemed like mere moments since her eyes had closed a blaring sound emanated from beside the bed and she groaned at the knowledge of what that meant. She was plenty used to going on little sleep, however that was usually work related, and she enjoyed her job immensely. This though, meeting with lawyers and visiting hospitals and such, she was dreading, but knew it was something she had to do. It wasn’t something she could back out of. It was just as important to her as it was for everyone else involved.

After shutting off the alarm clock she searched through her bags for appropriate attire, and finally settled on a nice fitted black pant with an indigo blue pull-over top. Carrying her chosen articles she made her way into the bathroom to shower. As she stood, water cascading down her body, everything from the last twelve hours seemed to catch up to her. She had yet to shed a single tear. Had yet to fully process what this all meant, and it hit her with a force she had never imagined as her eyes began to swell with the unshed tears. She put her head directly under the shower nozzle to wet her hair as she reached for her shampoo, choosing to ignore the tears threatening to fall from her eyes. She figured if she had to cry eventually from the stress and anxiety this situation was causing, she may as well do it here where she was alone and the hot water from the shower could simply wash the tears away as they fell.

She allowed the water to cascade over her face carrying the tears that were now streaming from her eyes away before stepping back slightly and opening her shampoo bottle. She managed to finish her shower with only a few more tears after the first wave. Feeling far more refreshed she finished getting ready and made her way out the door, her cell phone in hand ready to call a cab to get to the lawyers office.

She hadn’t even noticed that her phone was still off from her plane ride until she had tried to call for a cab. She sighed knowing that by now it would be around noon in DC and both her partner and best friend both probably knew by now that she had left. Them knowing meant that as soon as she turned her phone on…Yep six missed calls, the first actually came in close to the time her plane had landed here in Oregon from her partner, the rest were a mixture of Booth and Angela at various times. She chose to ignore them for now; they could be dealt with later. Right now she had to call a cab and get to her meeting with the lawyer.

She arrived as the lawyer’s office with time to spare and couldn’t bring herself to go in just yet. She paced nervously in front of the building wondering what exactly she was to be told. She knew how the beginning of the conversation would likely go, however she had no idea what the outcome would be. It all seemed so surreal to her now, thinking back over the past and some of her extremely regrettable actions. Because she did regret what had happened, not all of what had happened, but certainly the fact that she had been kept away for so long. The fact that she had been forced to do things she may have been able to get over at the time, ten years had changed her quite a bit and she was certain that she would be unable to do those things again.

She ran a hand through her hair in agitation and finally made to approach the door, straightening her posture and setting her shoulders back. She refused to go into this situation looking as defeated as she was sure to come out of it. She walked directly towards the receptionist’s desk and opened her mouth to speak before being cut off by said receptionist.

“Dr. Brennan, I presume?” She said in a cheery tone that made Brennan’s insides twist together even tighter as she plastered as much of a smile as she could muster and nodded, “He’s been awaiting your arrival, told me to send you right in.” She then directed Brennan to a door a little ways past the reception area. Brennan took a deep calming breath and let it out before opening said door and walking in.

“Ah…Dr. Brennan.” The man behind the desk rose from his seat and made his way over, extending his hand out to her. “I’m Kevin Lee, Mr. Douglas’ attorney, we spoke on the phone.”

Brennan reached out and gently shook his hand while looking him over. Mr. Lee appeared to be around forty, his brown hair ever so slightly thinning, his hazel eyes seemed open, honest, which she assumed was a good quality for a lawyer to have. His build suggested that he took very good care of himself, and he was around her height. “Yes, can you please update me on his condition and the reason for my being here? As we were only together for a brief period of time I fail to understand why I had to come and sign papers for him. Not to mention that I haven’t seen or heard from him in the last ten years, aside from a few change of address cards I received in the mail.”

“Yes, right to it then,” He said softly and motioned towards a chair near his desk, “Well, why don’t we sit down and I’ll run through everything with you.”

Brennan sat as she was asked, making sure to sit as tall as she could as she sank in to the soft office chair. She noted in the way he carried himself he was confident in his job, immaculate in appearance. She focused all her nervous energy on concentrating on deciphering him, so as she didn’t have to think about what would next come out of his mouth; Words that she had been dreading since his initial call. She wasn’t entirely sure what they would be, but knew it probably wouldn’t be good.

“Well, Dr. Brennan, as I informed you Mr. Douglas was in an accident. He sustained severe trauma, a brain contusion among other less severe injuries, in an automobile accident and is currently on life support.” Mr. Lee paused then, giving her a chance to come to grips with this information. Before she could interject though, he began to speak again, “In accordance with his living will, which I had prepared for him some time ago, you were contacted.”

“Was she in the accident with him?” Brennan blurted out, no longer able to keep this question to herself. Her eyes were wide with fear that she was unable to contain as she searched his face for some kind of answer. She couldn’t read his expression, other than his mild surprise at her bluntness. She was beginning to fear the worst as she blinked rapidly in the momentary silence that laid between them, trying to keep her eyes from filling. She wasn’t sure she would be able to keep the tears from spilling over if he told her she had in fact been in the accident with him.

Finally after mere seconds that felt like an eternity to Brennan he spoke after clearing his throat. “No,” he began, his voice full of a compassion she was certain she didn’t deserve. “However Ana is understandably upset. Did Mr. Douglas ever discuss with you what his Will deemed?” He was obviously trying to feel her out, check to see what information she already had, yes she just gazed at him confusedly for a moment, relief filling her at his answer to her question.

“No, I haven’t spoken to Steven in almost ten years. He didn’t feel it pertinent to discuss much of anything with me, least of all his will.” Brennan’s voice was cool, not resentful, but calm, as if she was unfazed by what was being discussed, a huge difference from the panic he had noted in her voice just moments before.

“Well, then it may come as a shock to you that he named you as sole benefactor to his daughter, Anastasia Nicole Douglas.” He said lightly, “Which if I’m reading this correctly, is also your daughter.”

Chapter 4

Booth pulled into the crime scene parking next to Cam’s car. The level of frustration over Brennan’s speedy departure, not to mention the hurt of her not calling to let him know what was wrong, almost overwhelming him as he glanced out of the windshield towards
Cam. He couldn’t understand why she wouldn’t have called him, even if it had been in the middle of the night, she knew she could have. He could have helped her, wanted to help her. Unfortunately Brennan had decided she didn’t trust him enough with whatever was going on, so he sat for a moment longer, his hand still poised on the keys dangling from the ignition he had just shut off, trying to calm down so as not to blow up at Cam.

He was sure that he would have an opportunity to interrogate her over what exactly Brennan had told her, but here at a fresh crime scene was not the place where that discussion should be had. Letting out one final frustrated growl he jerked the keys out of the ignition, pocketing them as he stepped out of the vehicle. He could tell just from one glance at Cam that she knew more than she was letting on. The way her eyes wouldn’t quite meet his, her fingers fidgeting gently at her sides, the way her mouth quirked ever so slightly. To the casual observer these things might have gone unnoticed, however Booth was far from the casual observer, he could read most people fairly well, and had the added insight of knowing Camille Saroyan for a very long time. She knew something more, and he was determined to get it out of her.

It would however have to wait for a bit, once they got back to the lab he would pull her aside. For now he gave her a slight nod, not trusting his voice enough to speak for fear he would start in on her right there. He didn’t bother walking directly to her, as he had thought, his nod was enough so that when he began walking past her and toward the taped off area she silently followed. She didn’t speak until they reached the body.

“Well, I can’t tell much of anything from these remains, there is so little flesh…” She trailed off, trying very hard not to mention Dr. Brennan.

“Well,” Booth grunted out angrily, “I guess we’ll have to trust the intern of the week then. Which one is it anyway?”

Cam cringed a little at his tone but was quick to respond, “We’ve got both Wendell and Clark this week. I called in Clark to lend an extra hand since Dr. Brennan may be out for a few days.”

Booth’s jaw clenched at her casual mention of Brennan but he then forced himself to control the crime scene and get the remains shipped off to the Jeffersonian. Cam quickly left with little more than a ‘see ya later’. When he had completed the scene he headed over to the Jeffersonian.

Upon entering he could hear Angela Montenegro’s fear filled voice and knew now would probably be the best time to get the answers from Cam, as she had obviously been discussing Brennan with Angela, and may be a bit warn down at the moment. “What do you mean she didn’t say?”

Cam sighed heavily, “Angela, I’ve already told you three times, she called and told me she was going to be out a few days, she didn’t tell me why or where she was going; she just said she would be unavailable.”

“Well,” Angela huffed, I’ve been trying to call her all day, and she’s not answered once. So if you know more than you’re telling…” As Booth rounded the corner and could finally see the two women he noted that Angela’s voice wasn’t the only thing heated, she was in Cam’s face, obviously not caring that she was speaking to her boss. She wanted answers as badly as Booth it seemed.

“Woah!! What’s all this about?” Booth spoke softly as he approached, wanting to soften Cam as much as he could he got between the two women slightly forcing Angela to back down momentarily before coming at him instead.

“Do you know anything Booth?” Her tone was significantly less angered, but she still sounded desperate for information, “You know its not like her not to tell me what’s going on, she always calls, and this was so sudden.”

“I wish I had something to tell you Ange.” Booth’s tone was sincere and he gazed directly into her eyes as he said it. After holding Angela’s gaze for a moment his chocolate orbs shifted to look at Cam’s. “So, she really didn’t give you a reason?” His voice was pleading now, “I mean you are her boss, she would have had to tell you something.”

“Seeley,” Cam spoke gently but in a way that Booth would know she couldn’t budge on the issue, “Even if she did give me a reason, because I’m her boss I wouldn’t be able to divulge it to you. It’s kind of like a confidentiality thing.”

“Oh please Camille!” Booth exclaimed hotly, the gentleness to his voice long forgotten, “You know Bones wouldn’t care if you told Angela or I, she was probably counting on you doing it since she’s not answering her phone.”

“Seeley,” Cam shot out, quickly losing her own temper at the way these two were treating her, like an enemy of sorts, “I’ve told you all I can, and now we all need to get to work.” She gritted her teeth and nodded towards the platform where Hodgins, Wendell, and Clark were all focused on them.

Booth and Angela sighed almost in unison before heading off towards the platform. Booth strode up as if the scene that had been witnessed by the three hadn’t happened, “So what can you tell me?”

Cam was slowly approaching behind him when her cell phone rang and she stopped in her tracks, “Dr. Saroyan”

Booth had overheard enough to know that it was Brennan and was making his way back towards Cam, not paying any attention to what the squints were saying behind him, “Let me talk to her Cam.”

“Dr. Brennan, Booth is here and…”

“No Cam, just tell him I’ll call him…”

“Bones”

“Booth.” She spoke so simply it was as if nothing had happened, which made his blood begin to boil, though he tried to keep his voice level.

“Temperance, what’s going on? Where are you?”

“Booth it’s none of your concern. It’s personal and I’ll be back next week so please, don’t.”

“Damn it Bones, just tell me what’s going on.” Booth gritted out.

“Booth Please don’t do this now, I am fine, there is nothing wrong, I’ll tell you all about it when I get back.”

“Bones just tell me, maybe I can help out with whatever is going on.” He was now pleading.

“No Booth, I didn’t say I needed any help, point of fact I stated that I was fine and nothing was wrong. Now I have to get to the….I have to be somewhere, but I’ll try to call you later this evening. I have to go Booth.”

Brennan then hung up on him and he had to fight the urge to throw Cam’s phone across the lab. “Here” He growled as he forcefully handed the phone back and started to make his way out of the lab calling over his shoulder, “You guys find anything useful email it to me.”

“So,” Angela said nonchalantly, “When’s Bren coming back?”

Cam’s face took on a tortured look as she replied, “A week.” Both women looked after Booth’s retreating form, sighing.

Chapter 5

“Well, then it may come as a shock to you that he named you as sole benefactor to his daughter, Anastasia Nicole Douglas.” He said lightly, “Which if I’m reading this correctly, is also your daughter.”

As he spoke Brennan felt all the air leaving her lungs and she had to fight to take in another breathe. Across from her the lawyer looked stricken with guilt for being so blunt, however as he had gotten a feel for her in the last few minutes he had been of the understanding that she would likely prefer blunt, but looking at her as she obviously struggled to breathe he regretted his manor of delivery immediately, “Dr. Brennan, I’m so sorry for putting it so bluntly, I…”

Brennan finally regained her composed and looked at him almost stoically, “No Mr. Lee I’m fine.” Brennan cleared her throat, “So what do I do now? How exactly does this work? I mean to say, he’s on life support he could…umm…wake up right? Then what she automatically goes back to him?” Upon voicing some of her fears her eyes began to tear up.

As she blinked back the tears she tried not to think of the worst of her fears. That she would meet and spend enough time with her daughter for the attachment to become impossible to live without, and then her father would awaken and rip her away again. The first time was difficult enough, but for it to happen once she knew the child, that she wasn’t certain she could bare.

The lawyer’s voice drove her out of her thoughts, “Well to be honest him ever waking up is quite slim, and should he happen to I’m not sure what would happen with her. I’m afraid it would likely be a custody hearing, unless of course the two of you could come to some amicable agreement between yourselves.” He paused as he let this information sink in, “Should you decline to honor his wishes Ana will be placed into the system, as we are unable to locate any other relative.”

“What,” Brennan asked hastily, “What about his mother, he stayed in this area to be close to her?”

“Forgive me Dr. Brennan, I assumed you knew that his mother past away six months ago. Cancer.” He told her tenderly, again pausing for a moment.

“Okay,” Brennan spoke almost breathlessly now, “Well what do I need to do? There’s no way I’ll allow her to be put into the system.”

A smile then spread across Mr. Lee’s face, one that seemed equal part pity and happiness, “That’s good to hear, I wouldn’t want her to end up in the foster system either.” Drawing in a breath he spread out some papers in front of Brennan, “Well then, I just need you to sign these and she will be remanded into your custody.” Noticing Brennan’s curious look, just as she opened her mouth to speak he interjected, “She’s at the hospital with her father right now. I worked it out so that a social worker would stay there with her instead of taking her into custody, since you were on your way.”

“Good, umm…when should I?” Brennan tried to ask, though she couldn’t find the right way to phrase the question.

Mr. Lee nodded, “Why don’t you go get yourself some lunch, give me about an hour or so to talk to her and let her know what is going on…”

“She doesn’t know?” Brennan cut in, astonished.

“No, Dr. Brennan, we haven’t broached this subject with her yet, as we weren’t certain you would accept, and we didn’t want her to get confused after all, she is only ten.” At Brennan’s congenial nod of acceptance he went on as if never having been interrupted, “Once she knows we’ll meet you at the hospital and you can take it from there.”

Brennan looked over at him in a near state of panic, “When can I take her back to DC? I don’t mean to rush, but I don’t know how long I can take off work and I’d like to have a few days further off once we get back, to hopefully get her settled…”

Mr. Lee noticed she was rambling and cut her off, “Dr. Brennan if you thought it was best you could take her back today once you’ve signed these papers,” He gestured again to the papers in front of her and handed her a pen. “As once they are signed you are officially her legal guardian. However,” He said softly, “I would imagine it to be best for her to spend some time getting to know you before being taken away from her father and everything she knows here.”

“I understand, I’ll call my supervisor and see if I can at least take the rest of the week so that we can spend a few extra days here.” Brennan said as she continued flipping through and signing all the papers. Once she was done she excused herself and went to find something to occupy her time for the next hour or two while waiting to go and meet her daughter for the first time since she was barely a week old. As she walked down the street with no real destination in mind she wiped at the silent tears that were streaming down her face as she tried to compose herself enough to call Cam.

She finally stumbled along a bench and sat controlling her breathing. Once she decided she was calm enough she pulled out her cell phone and dialed Cam’s extension at the Jeffersonian, hoping she would be in her office. It rang straight through to her voicemail so Brennan hung up, sighing as she dialed Cam’s cell number.

“Cam it’s Brennan.” She spoke softly, “I just wanted to check in and see if it would be alright if I went ahead and took the whole week off.”

“Of course that would be fine Dr. Brennan. How is everything?”

“”Fine, everything’s fine, and thank you Cam.” She could here a murmur in the background that sounded very much like Booth and panic began to rise within her. She wasn’t ready to discuss any of what had been happening with anyone, let alone the person who could force her to her emotional breaking point.

“Dr. Brennan, Booth is here and…”

“No Cam, just tell him I’ll call him…”

“Bones”

Once she was sufficiently calm after speaking with Booth she arranged for a cab to pick her up. It felt like she had just blinked upon entering the cab and was at the hospital. Her hand was trembling as she reached for the car door’s handle and paid the cabbie. She had been terrified of the upcoming moment for as long as she could remember. She knew that eventually she would come face to face with the daughter she had abandoned. Though it had not been her choice to do so, that wouldn’t change the child’s views on the matter, and Brennan knew it, as she had sent cards and money since the child was born she never received anything back from her. Brennan knew in the early years it was likely because she couldn’t write yet, but she was now ten years old and Brennan had yet to receive a single correspondence from her.

She was in a heightened state of anxiety as she entered the hospital doors and followed the arrowed directions towards the elevator that led up to the ICU floor she had been told to meet Mr. Lee on. She took a deep calming breath as she reached forward to press the button for the fourth floor where the ICU was located. In her head one simple phrase was repeating itself over and over to keep her from simply running in the other direction, I can do this, I can do this, I can do this.

She wasn’t normally one to run from her problems, at least not in the physical sense. Sure she’d taken a few trips out of the country to help her compartmentalize her emotions on occasion, but usually she stayed and was able to do the same; compartmentalize. This though was too large for her to compartmentalize. This was a ten year old girl; her ten year old girl. Whom she hadn’t even seen since she left for the Jeffersonian almost ten years ago, the child had been no more than six months; in fact she was only a few days shy of it when she had left. This little girl would depend on her; require her for comfort she wasn’t certain she had the ability to give.

Brennan continued to concentrate on her breathing as the elevator doors open up to the floor and she saw Mr. Lee standing in the ICU lobby looking anxiously around as if he doubted she would show up for this particular meeting. She couldn’t blame him really, she had been acting almost in a state of panic earlier and a lot of people who say things in that state don’t intend to keep their word, they simply say it to appease the other party so that they can leave. Had the man known her better he would have been assured she would be there, panicked or not, Temperance Brennan rarely if ever said something she didn’t mean.

When she stepped off the elevator and started towards him his eyes caught her own and it appeared as though a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. At least he cares about her. Brennan stopped a few feet away from him as he began to speak, “Ahh..Dr. Brennan,” He reached out his hand to once again shake hers, and she took it without thinking, “Glad you could make it.”

His smile seemed to reach his eyes and she was almost certain he was sincere in his words, however a nagging doubt hit her and she blurted out the thought without taking time to process the words she spoke, “How’d she take it…I mean me?”

Mr. Lee shook his head lightly, almost humorously and chuckled a bit, “Well, she’s shaken up about the whole thing. She was apparently told that her mother had passed away.” At this Brennan almost looked physically stricken as she had sent cards at least twice a year to her daughter, it had never occurred to her that the reason she had never heard back had been that she had never received the cards. “So yes she was shocked, but Ana in a sweet girl, a very open, emotional girl, and she was as pleased to here that she had been misled as a girl her age would be in these circumstances.” He said hastily, noting Brennan hadn’t taken that news much better.

“I see.” Brennan spoke softly, almost as though she wasn’t speaking to him at all, but to herself. “So, did you ask her if she was willing to come to stay with me in DC? Or is she not yet comfortable with the arrangement of her staying with her deceased mother.”

Mr. Lee heard the bitterness in her tone and tried to comfort her with his own gentle tone, “Dr. Brennan, she has no issues about seeing you, or even staying with you. Her main concern right now is her father. She a ten year old girl, and mostly she’s confused and feels like she’s losing the only parent she’s ever known.” He looked deeply into her eyes as if to drive home the point, “Just be sensitive to her, let her grieve for the loss she’s feeling right now. Try spending a couple of days here with her and letting her say her goodbyes. She understands that though he may awaken from his comatose state, it’s highly unlikely. She’s also, as his next of kin, made the decision to keep him on life support for now, she needs the hope you see.” He paused, trying to determine if Brennan was hearing his implication. Deciding he had to be blunt again at her almost lost expression he continued, “Meaning that as her legal guardian, it’s really up to you if that happens. A ten year old legally can’t make those kinds of medical decisions.”

Brennan hastily broke eye contact and looked down at her hands for a moment in thought before looking back up at him, “I do understand, and if she wants to keep false hope then who am I to crush it. I will agree to sign whatever is necessary to agree with her wishes regarding her father.” Brennan stepped slightly closer and then looked him firmly in the eyes with a new determination, as she was tired of delaying the inevitable. “Now, when can I see her?”

Mr. Lee was once again taken aback by the briskness of this woman before him, but kindly held his hand in the direction they were meant to go, “Right this way.”

Upon entering the small room Brennan felt something inside her go numb, though she knew it was impossible for it to have actually happened just from the sight in front of her. A small girl with long blonde hair sat with her back to them. She was leaning slightly on the bed of a man Brennan could only assume to be Stephen, as the girl was blocking his face from view. The girl didn’t turn to greet them, as she hadn’t heard them over the whirring of the ventilator supplying oxygen to the man’s body as his own lungs she assumed were no longer functioning properly, and the loud beeping of the heart monitor showing a slow yet steady beat.

Brennan focused on the girl for a moment knowing it was her only chance to look at her without being critiqued herself. Her hair went midway down her back and was a sharp contrast to Brennan’s own dark locks. Her hair reminded her of Stephen’s thin blonde strands. Brennan had remembered her having the same golden locks as an infant, but assumed it would change into something more akin to her own before she turned so much as six; obviously genetics had a different plan for her.

Before she could analyze the girl any further than that Mr. Lee broke the moment and spoke, “Anastasia,” His voice was soft and full of utter kindness, much like Booth’s tone when he was comforting herself. “This is Dr. Temperance Brennan,” He continued as the girl stood and turned towards them, “The woman I was telling you about.”

Brennan watched as Anastasia’s eyes locked on her own like two oceans meeting each other, both sets of eyes seeming to tear up of their own volition, “My Mother.” She spoke softly, yet in a stern tone Brennan almost recognized as one she might use in a similarly disbelieving situation. Seeing her child’s face she was amazed by the resemblance, other than the hair of course, the girl was almost a miniature of Brennan herself, the same facial bone structure, the same shade of turquoise eyes, the skin tone almost the exact same shade.

Blinking back the tears Brennan cleared her throat as if to speak, yet before she could find the words Mr. Lee spoke for her, “Yes, your mother Ana.” He glanced briefly between the two, whose eyes remained locked on the other, scrutinizing every aspect of the other’s appearance. “She’s here to take custody of you so that you don’t have to go with the social worker tonight.”

Briefly Ana’s eyes flicked between the two adults, and Brennan could sense the fear coming off her in waves, “I do have to get back to DC soon due to work,” Brennan spoke softly, much like she had witnessed the lawyer doing, “However I was hoping, if its alright with you to stay here for a few more days first, so that you could be with your father.”

The relief Ana felt could be seen as she nodded and turned back towards her father, “Why would he tell me you were dead?” She asked, her tone showing exactly how betrayed and confused she was by that act.

“I don’t know.” Brennan stated “I assumed when I never heard back from you that you simply didn’t want anything to do with me, I never would have guessed Stephen would mislead you.” Brennan glanced at the lawyer who nodded encouragingly as Ana turned back to face her, “Though I am sure your father felt he was protecting you in some way. My partner, Booth, he has a child and says that you lie to protect your child. Though I’ve never found lies to be a means of protection myself, most parents seem to feel it important if they think the truth will hurt more.”

“Why have I never met you before?” Anastasia said with trepidation, as if she feared whatever answers that would come.

“I thought since I never heard from you or Stephen, even though I wrote, that you may not want to see me. That you might think I…” Brennan trailed off not sure how to explain why she had never simply hopped on a plane before and come to see her daughter.

“I see.” Anastasia said, defeated, as she sat back beside the bed, “And my dad, did you decide if you were going to keep him on machines or pull the plug?” She said the last phrase with an extreme disgust that told Brennan this was probably her first chance to prove herself to her daughter.

“Yes,” Brennan stated and Ana’s head jerked around to look at her, “It is my understanding that you wish to keep him on life support and…” She hesitated, thinking it would be a better idea to phrase it differently than she had for the lawyer, “hope that he may regain function. I plan on honoring your wishes for as long as you deem fit on the matter.”

Ana simply nodded gratefully and motioned towards one of the opposite chairs for Brennan to sit. They discussed a few more things with the lawyer and Brennan had to sign a mountain of papers to be granted custody, set up the life support arrangements, and gain access to everything she would need to transfer Ana’s school’s. She also asked the lawyer to help her by looking into someone to keep up with Stephen’s house while they were across the country in DC. If by chance he did awaken she wanted everything to be ready for him, and if he didn’t she wanted Ana to have the right to decide what to do with it as soon as she was old enough. Ana seemed to agree on this matter as well, and she felt as though she almost looked at her with a hint of pride at the arrangement.

Ana had maintained fairly quiet the entire time the lawyer had been present, as soon as he left them alone she stared at Brennan for a long time. Brennan wondered if this was the child’s way of figuring her out and determining if she was acceptable to her. Booth would have a simpler colloquialism for it, but Brennan was too busy trying to figure out if she was in fact an acceptable individual to care for this young girl who had been thrust into her life without warning. Ana finally looked away for a moment then looked wearily back at Brennan, “So what do I call you?” She asked bluntly.

Slightly taken back by her question, and in all honesty unsure what the proper answer would be to it she took a moment to think before looking at her daughter and giving her the only answer she could come up with at the time, “I’m not sure. You can call me mom if you would like, however as technically we have just met you may not yet be comfortable calling me by a familial title. If that’s the case you may call me Brennan, or Temperance. I’ll leave the ultimate decision up to you.”

“Ok,” The girl stated simply before returning to her bedside vigil beside her father. Brennan sat in a chair beside her, yet slightly pushed back and just watched. She watched her daughter for awhile, seeing the tears occasionally well up in her eyes as she let the fact that in mere days she would be leaving her father behind. When her chest began to tighten at the sight she had to look away before her own eyes filled with tears, and her eyes landed on the man for whom the tears fell.

He looked very much as she remembered him, fine blonde hair, a strong mandible; he was still as attractive as she remembered. He had aged slightly however and she could see the subtle wrinkles that lined his once smooth face, they seemed to stand out even more due to his ghostly complexion; his once rosy complexion now just a pale mask. Hours passed with Brennan repeating this ritual of looking at her daughter until she couldn’t stand the sadness any longer then looking at the man she once had a relationship with. At some point she had placed her hand on her daughter’s arm for support, or comfort, hoping that it might ease her pain a little. Though no words were spoken between them the entire time her daughter had grabbed hold of her hand and held tight.

It was getting late by the time they decided to leave and Brennan contemplated if she should even call Booth back tonight after they reached the hotel while Ana said her goodbyes to her comatose father. She was sure that they wouldn’t make it there until at least 9pm, which would be around midnight in DC, though she also knew Booth was likely up and awaiting her call. So she decided she might as well and if he didn’t answer quickly she would just hang up and call him in the morning, though she still wasn’t ready to discuss current events with him she had to try as not to upset him.

After leaving the hospital they went to Ana’s house, it took a lot of convincing on Ana’s part, but she had convinced her on the drive to just stay there, just for tonight. ‘Kind of a last night in my old house, you know?’ Ana had asked sheepishly. Though Brennan knew little of the girl, and they had yet to really talk of anything other than her father’s arrangements and the possibility of going back to DC in two days, she was won over quite quickly by the comment. Brennan had wished at one point in her youth that she had known it was going to be her last night in her family home, she knew it was illogical, as nothing would have really changed the outcome, but she gave in any way and agreed to stay in the house’s guest room.

Ana unlocked the front door heavily, obviously exhausted from the two days prior she had spent at the hospital, “Well here we are, home sweet home.” She said as she pushed her way into the modest two story house, hanging her father’s key ring on the rack of keys beside the door. “I’m tired so I’m just going to make a sandwich and go to bed, okay?” Brennan just nodded as she entered, closing the door behind her. “Oh, and the guest room is the second door on the left upstairs.”

Brennan was impressed by how grown up Ana seemed, yet she probably shouldn’t be surprised, single parent children, especially when the one parent they had was often working long hours, usually had the mentality of an older child. “Thanks,” Brennan replied as she watched Ana take off in the direction she assumed the kitchen must be in.

She pulled her cell out of her pocket and turned it back on, having turned it off before going to the hospital. The digital clock on her phone showed that it was in fact 9pm here and she anxiously hit the first speed dial ignoring the memo stating she had both voicemails and text messages awaiting her.

Chapter 6

Booth lay in his bed unable to sleep, she said she would call, his mind screamed at him as he stared at the phone on his nightstand while lightly drumming his fingers on the mattress, no she said she would try, meaning she probably won’t. He battled with himself whether to wait up any longer for her call. It was almost midnight and his day had been long and tiring, and had started at 4am. By 4:30 that morning he had been frantic with worry for her, which hadn’t actually eased much after being told that her departure wasn’t something to be worried about. He could tell from her tone earlier on the phone that something was wrong, and that coupled with the evidence of her speedy getaway had him extremely worried.

Sighing as the clock struck midnight he rolled onto his back finally giving in and deciding he needed sleep, especially if he was going to be forced to solve this case without her. Sure he would have the squints help, but it wasn’t the same. Just as he managed to shut his eyes his phone went off and he jerked violently towards it, snatching it up and hitting the answer button, “Bones?”

“Booth, you’re still up.” She sounded tired as well, and slightly disappointed to find that he was in fact still awake.

“Yep, so what’s going on Bones? Why won’t you tell me?” He immediately began questioning.

“Booth, please, just let me process what is going on before dragging you into it okay?” She paused for a moment, biting her bottom lip, “It’s really nothing for you to be concerned…”

She was cut off by a growl of disapproval before his voice boomed loudly in her ear, “Nothing for me…Nothing for me to be concerned about?” He questioned angrily, disbelievingly, “My partner hops on a plane to Oregon without so much as a word to me, her apartment looks like its been ransacked and you say I shouldn’t be concerned?!”

“You were in my apart…wait I never said anything about Oregon.” She stated accusingly.

“No Bones, you didn’t. I had to dig up that piece of information on my own, as well as the fact that your dad is fine and well still in DC and your brother is in California with Amy and the girls, so why did you run off to Oregon? What’s there that needed your immediate attention, so much that you couldn’t even tell me?? I’m your partner, your friend, or at least I thought I was.”

“Booth, some things, even between friends, are private. This situation,” She snapped back, “Is private, as in ‘not open to the public’. I didn’t tell you because of that, same as I didn’t tell Ange. I didn’t have time to have a discussion about it I had to get on a plane, so I called my supervisor to advise her, because she is my boss. I asked her to inform you and Angela because I would not be able to.”

The words she used stung him, as he had once used the same phrase on her, but the anger that was bubbling up as she still refused to tell him what was going on overpowered it, “Look Brennan, if you don’t want to tell me fine, then why did you call?” There was a pause and Booth heard movement in the background before hearing a child’s voice saying “Goodnight.”

“Night Ana,” He heard Brennan say, though it was muffled as if she was covering the phone. After another brief pause she calmly stated directly into the phone, “I called because I told you I would. I just need a little time with this Booth. I promise to explain everything, but I need a few days. I’m going to be extremely busy over the next two days making arrangements so I probably won’t be able to call again until I am back in DC.”

“Wait, I thought you said you were going to be gone a week or so?” Booth shot back.

“I’m going to be in Oregon for another two days, and then I’ll be back in DC. However I won’t be returning to work for a week. As I stated there are arrangements that I have to make. I know it’s late there so I won’t keep you. I just didn’t want you to think I had forgotten about you.”

“Bones please,” Booth’s voice had lost all anger and was now pleading, “Even if you won’t tell me what’s going on, please at least stay in touch so I know you’re alright okay?”

He heard her sigh through the line, betraying exactly how tired she was, “Fine Booth, if I have the chance to call you I will. Though if you continue taking the opportunity to question me and yell at me I may reconsider.”

“Thank you Bones,” He said lightly, “Well goodnight, I hope you get a chance to call tomorrow.”

After hearing from Brennan he tried desperately to go to sleep, trying to quell his overprotective tendencies toward her with the knowledge that she was in fact alright. Her voice sounded tired and agitated, but she didn’t sound distressed enough to actually have been in any danger. For that he was thankful, but as he fought with his mind that he needed to sleep it still nagged at him that she hadn’t told him what was going on. That she obviously felt he couldn’t be trusted with whatever it was, and that thought hurt him deeply. Eventually however he was able to finally drift off to sleep.

When morning came he groaned loudly, hating that a new day had dawned after such a restless nights sleep. His first thought had been of Bones, wishing that the two days she’d still be in Oregon had passed and she was back in DC where he could confront her in person. Perhaps his techniques of getting information out of her weren’t as good over the phone as he knew they were in person. He had no doubt the first time they met face to face he could get to the bottom of this mysterious getaway of hers.

When he finally strode into the Jeffersonian that day to get the particulate results from Hodgins everyone seemed tense. Angela had barely greeted him with a small smile and a wave and Cam simply nodded solemnly at him. Hodgins was up on the platform with Wendell and Clark and upon seeing Booth immediately left there conversation and headed towards the agent. He was the only one who actually spoke to greet Booth, and seemed to be the one actually holding everything together. As Hodgin’s approached him Booth noticed Angela’s eyes flick from him to Cam with an angry glare. Apparently Cam hasn’t told Angela anything more about Brennan’s leave. He thought before directing his eyes back to the entomologist that now stood before him.

“Hey Booth,” He said with a half smile, “I’ve got the results from all the particulates collected at the scene and the remains…”

Booth interrupted Hodgins, running one hand through his hair in mild annoyance, “Hodgins, just tell it to me straight, in plain English. Bones isn’t here to translate you technical mumbo jumbo and I’m just…”

Hodgins nodded to let Booth know he understood, “Ok Well, From what we can tell from the insect activity the body was exposed to the elements, in the woods where he was found for approximately two years, which I can narrow down further for you as soon as the mass spec is done analyzing, but,” He continued as he saw that Booth’s posture and facial expression showed he was going to leave under the impression that that was all he had. “It is also indicated by some of the blow flies not indigenous to the area the remains were found in that they were first stored in a hot humid area, near the water where the blow flies are indigenous, for at least a year prior. Judging from the level of decomp Clark and Wendell tell me that it also looks like the victim has been dead approximately three years total.”

Booth nodded his head slightly, “Yeah ok, so how close are we to an ID? Anything specific I can relay to our boys in research to narrow down the parameters?”

Hodgins then looked down and read from the report, “According to Clark and Wendell the vic was female, about 5’5” age 25-30. Bone structure indicates Caucasian and her occupation stress markers show she was likely an ice skater, or spent a great deal of time either in ice skates or roller blades.” Hodgins then looked up at Booth, “That help narrow it down for ya?” He said with a grin, really hoping to lighten the mood a bit.

Booth just nodded so Hodgins decided to drive the conversation, “Ok so, I gotta ask… Did you hear anything more from Dr. B? I mean I don’t need details or anything, I just wanna know she’s ok.” He glanced over towards Angela who was still looking quite sulky, “I mean, we’re all pretty worried about her.”

Booth followed Hodgins gaze and saw Angela absently sketching on her sketch pad, though her usual smile was completely absent and she looked like she hadn’t slept at all since Brennan’s big disappearance, “Yeah Hodgins, I heard from her last night,” he sighed, once again running a frustrated hand through his hair, which Hodgins took as a bad sign as a look of alarm crossed his face before Booth continued, “I don’t know what’s going on, but she’s fine. Says she’s safe and she’ll tell me all about it in about 2 days, when she gets back.”

Hodgins released a breathe he hadn’t realized he’d been holding and the first real smile Booth had seem from anyone all day crossed his face, “2 days? Oh that’s great, Ange will be so happy to hear she’ll be back so soon. She was getting really antsy about Brennan being gone a whole week and her not even knowing where she went or why. Thanks Booth.”

“Yeah no problem, look Hodgins, I’m going to get back to the office and see how many missing persons I dig up that match the general description,” At Hodgins’ nod Booth turned and was almost out the door before he turned back towards Hodgins, who looked up at his abrupt turn, “Oh and if she wants to know Bones is in Oregon.” With that Booth was gone.

At the mention of Brennan loud enough for her to hear Angela had looked up and made eye contact with Booth then Hodgins for just a split second before standing. By the time she stood Booth had been gone so she walked straight towards Hodgins, “Jack,” Looking pointedly at him, “What do you know about Bren?”

“Angie, I just asked if he’d heard from her. He said he had and that he still didn’t know what was going on, but that she was safe. She told him she’d be back in two days. Plus, well you heard him say she’s in Oregon. Any clue why?”
“Wow,” Angela’s face lit up in a small smile, “Oregon, I can only think of a few reasons she’d go to Oregon, and none of them are bad reasons.” Her grin fell suddenly however at another realization, “Though if she was just taking off to get with one of her old flames in the area I don’t see why she wouldn’t tell me about it.” She huffed slightly, “I mean I get not telling Booth I get, but me? There’s got to be more of it than that.”

Hodgins watched as Angela turned, her head bowed slightly and made her way towards her office, pulling out her cell and putting it to her ear.

Chapter 7

Brennan woke early the next morning, as her internal clock was still on DC time. She managed to convince herself to go back to sleep when she first woke at three in the morning, but by five O’clock she couldn’t lay in the bed any longer. She quietly crept out into the hallway and made her way down the hall towards the room she had seem Anna go into the night before.

The door was cracked so she looked in through the crack to check on her. As she gazed upon the child her heart felt as though a great weight was crushing it. She wasn’t certain why she had such an extreme reaction to this peaceful looking little girl. She knew the child was her own blood, her child, but as she hadn’t seen her since she was not yet two months old, she had no idea why the sight before her caused such emotional upheaval.

Blinking back a few tears she backed away from the door to the room silently and set about taking a shower and getting herself dressed. An hour later she stepped out of the guest room again feeling refreshed, cell phone in hand, poised to listen to any voicemails she had gotten since she had once again shut off her phone. She dialed her password and wandered into the kitchen.

“Brennan, it’s Angela, I need you to call me today and explain to me exactly why you are in Oregon and why you couldn’t tell me about it. If you think I’m going to make a big deal about you going out to see an old flame you’re wrong, so if that’s it just tell me okay?” Angela’s voice sounded aggravated and Brennan sighed hating that she seemed to be upsetting everyone in her life just by not telling them what was going on in her personal life.

The next message was from Booth, ‘just checking in’, he’d said. Obviously hoping she would relent and tell him about Anna before she was ready. She pressed end on her phone and went about making a pot of coffee. While that brewed she looked around the kitchen trying to find something to serve a ten year old girl. Part of her wished that she could call Booth and simply ask him what he would suggest, as Booth has a son close in age to Anna. She quickly decided against that course of action however, as then he would ask why she was caring for a child, and the explanations would have to start before she was ready. If she was honest with herself she wasn’t sure she’d ever be ready to talk about this part of her past, well present now, with anyone she had come to know in DC.
How many years had she droned on about not understanding the draw of producing offspring? How many times had she told them all she didn’t want kids? Although there had been once when she thought she was ready to try again, and she had asked her partner for help. Unfortunately, that hadn’t come about. In hindsight it was probably a good thing though, as she would have had an infant right now on top of this girl, and she wasn’t even certain of how she was going to manage the one she did have custody of now, let alone an infant as well. Still though, what would they think of her now?

She was brought out of her thoughts as Anna padded into the kitchen rubbing her eyes and letting out a light yawn. “Morning Anna.” Brennan said as she poured herself a cup of coffee.

“Good morning,” Anna ground out grumpily before flopping down on one of the barstools that surrounded the breakfast nook in the center of the kitchen. Anna sighed heavily then, as if he own reality was just catching up to her.

A frown crossed Brennan’s face momentarily before she sipped her coffee, “So, what would you like for breakfast?”

The young girl grimaced at her and shook her head lightly, “I’m sure I can manage that on my own. I’ll probably just grab a bowl of cereal or something.” The girl paused, a thoughtful look crossing her face, “I know you were wanting to leave for DC tomorrow so you can get back to whatever it is you do and all, but…” She paused again, capturing her lower lip between her teeth as she contemplated, “But I’d really like to see my dad before we have to leave, and say bye to my friends too. Do you have an address and phone number for where I’ll be? That way I can leave it with them.”

Brennan thought for a moment before writing down her home address and telephone number and handing it over to the girl. “Of course, this is my current address where we’ll be staying as well as the home telephone number there. However I should warn you that as you’ll be staying with me now we may be looking for a larger apartment soon. I only have a three bedroom currently and one of those consists of and office while the other is a guest room. I’d like for you to feel like it is your home as well while you are with me, so I thought perhaps you would like to help decide upon a new residence with me.” Brennan trailed off as she realized she was rambling, instantly regretting how much she had said when she looked up and caught the girl’s eye. Tears were glistening and she was blinking rapidly to keep them from escaping,

Looking away Anna nodded, “Yeah whatever.”

The rest of the morning passed in silence between the two, whenever Brennan did try to speak to her it seemed to only agitate the child, or worse cause her to tear up again, so Brennan decided to stop trying and just take her cues from the girl. After awhile Anna went about calling her friends, and at Brennan’s suggestion inviting them to have dinner with them at the restaurant of her choosing. Brennan had of course told her that she would be picking up the tab for all of them after Anna had made mention that a few of her friends wouldn’t be able to afford going out. The day passed by quickly as Brennan helped Anna pack what she wanted to take with her, also promising that if she left anything behind she found she would later need or want they would come back to get it.

Before the dinner that night Brennan took Anna to see her father and waited outside while she spoke her goodbyes. As she waited she began to feel guilty about not calling any of her friends back in DC, but knew if she called Booth now he would easily be able to get the information about Anna out of her and she really wasn’t ready to discuss it, especially over the phone. She was certain that it was a conversation meant to be had in person. So instead of calling Booth she dialed Angela’s cell while she was waiting for Anna.

“Hello,” Angela’s voice rang through the line cheerfully.

Hesitating a moment before responding Brennan drew in a deep breath and spoke softly, almost in fear of Angela being able to do the same as she feared Booth would, “Hey Ange. I apologize for not informing you of my departure; however it was late and urgent for me to go at the moment.” Brennan rambled off knowing that her friend would let nothing else go before talking about her lack of communication.

“Bren!” Angela cried out, obviously not having looked to see who was calling when she answered, “I was so worried about you. Don’t you dare do this to me again! I don’t care how late it is you call and wake me up if you have to, got it?”

“Yes Ange.” Brennan’s voice was a mere whisper as Angela continued speaking.

“Anyway, what was the big emergency? I mean you left so suddenly haven’t called me before now to let me know anything and all Booth told us was that you were in Oregon. I mean I know there are a couple of guys up there that you may still have a… well could have a good time with anyway, but nothing I know of to cause you to run off there without a word.”

Brennan sighed before responding, “Ange can we talk about that when I get back? I’m supposed to be back around noon tomorrow if the flights not delayed, maybe you could come over to my place for a late lunch and we could discuss it?”

“Sure sweetie, I guess I could wait that long, but, you are okay right?”

“I’m fine Ange, really. Something came up that I had to take care of, that’s all. Everything’s gonna work out fine.” Brennan replied swiftly, sounding far more confident that she felt.

“Okay, well Bren you give me a call to confirm when your flight is getting in and I’ll pick you up at the airport.”

“Ange you don’t…”

“Yes Bren, I do, and I will even if I have to stake out the airport until you arrive, okay?” Angela’s voice left no room for reproach and she heard Brennan sigh across the line.

“Ange, just don’t freak out okay? And promise me you won’t tell anyone else this but… I won’t be alone, and it’s not what you think.” Brennan spotted Anna coming towards her swiping at her eyes, “I gotta go but I’ll text you the flight info later okay? Bye.”

After Brennan hung up on Angela she began walking towards Anna, “Hey,” she said softly raising her arm to envelope the girl in a slight embrace before reconsidering and placing her hand gently on Anna’s arm, “You ready to go have dinner with your friends?”

Both Anna and Brennan tried to smile, but neither one’s reached their eyes. After tearful goodbyes and promises of phone calls and letters from all her friends they were ready to go back to the house and get some sleep before their flight the next day. Brennan was as nervous about bringing Anna home to DC with her as she was about going. Neither slept well that night.

Chapter 8

Angela had been anxious all morning, though she had sent quite a few text messages to Brennan trying to coax the information about her mystery guest out of her the only reply she had received was about the flight information. It wasn’t like Brennan to be so secretive with her anymore. Sure when they first met she was full of secrets but between her and Booth they had gotten Brennan to open up and talk to them. Unfortunately this was like trying to pry personal information out of the old Brennan, the one who was only focused on work and never spoke of her private life; Except of course for the inappropriate bits of her sex life.

She hadn’t told anyone, per Brennan’s request, about her bringing someone back with her, nor had she informed anyone of why she was taking a long lunch. When the time came she quietly let Cam know she was leaving and headed off to the airport. It felt like an eternity as she waited for the plane to disembark, but finally she spotted Brennan. She glanced all around her but the only person she saw close enough to her to be traveling with her was a little girl, which Angela knew couldn’t be the traveling companion Brennan had spoken of. Brennan didn’t really do children, aside from a few interactions with Parker and Russ’ girls Angela had rarely even seen Brennan speak to a child, let alone bring one home with her from across the country.

“Bren!” Angela called out, and sure enough Brennan accompanied by the little girl made their way over to her. Angela’s eyes widened as it was confirmed that Brennan was in fact with the girl. “And who is this?” Angela asked Brennan with raised brows.

“Can we discuss this back at my apartment?” Brennan said warily as the little girl shot her a look mixed with annoyance and hurt before reaching out her own hand towards Angela defiantly.

“I’m Anastasia,” She said politely before spitting out towards Brennan, “it appears you already know my mother.”

Angela’s grip went limp on the girl’s hand before dropping as her knees almost went out beneath her. She was too shocked in that moment to speak as her mouth dropped open and she looked to Brennan for confirmation, the look of guilt on her best friend’s face was all it took for her to know that Anna was telling the truth. Angela drew in a breath sharply, “Well, wow talk about a bombshell.” Angela tried to smile at the girl, “I’m Angela Montenegro, a friend of your mom’s” or so I thought, she thought to herself. “Let’s get your luggage and get to lunch shall we?” She then looked back towards Brennan with a glare that spoke volumes, “We’ll talk later.”

The ride back to Brennan’s apartment was spent in a tense silence. Angela asked none of the usual questions about her trip, nor did she even hassle much more than a glance in Brennan’s direction. She did however glance into the rearview mirror repeatedly studying the little girl riding in the back seat. She did look a lot like Brennan…...

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