A/N: I would have had this up sooner, but my dad was researching buckwheat of all things... /shakes head/

Also, a big thank you to all who reviewed! And don't worry, as long as someone is enjoying this story, I would never leave you hanging. : )

To Goldy: Thank you for your encouragement. : ) In my opinion, you're one of the best writers here, so just the fact that you read this story is enough reason to keep writing. /huggles/


Chapter 13

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After Booth had left the night before, Brennan had collapsed into bed. Surprisingly, her dreams were not plagued by thoughts of her parents, their disappearance, or their possible discovery. After she woke up however, it was an entirely different story.

She had woken at 7 (late for her), and taken a shower. At first, her thoughts turned to Booth and the 'moment', was it a moment? - that they had shared at Wong Foo's. She knew what Angela would say, and the problem was, she had a feeling that her heart was beginning to agree with her. Unfortunately, her mind remained as stubborn as ever, and by the time the water began to get cold she was immersed in troubling thoughts about the case and the identity of the two additional bodies.

When she had finished getting dressed it was almost 8 'o-clock, and she found herself facing the prospect of two hours alone with her thoughts before Booth would arrive to pick her up. Feeling restless, she began neatening up her already nearly spotless apartment in an attempt to keep the questions running through her mind at bay. At 8:30 she took a step back and reluctantly came to the conclusion that there really wasn't anything left to do, and that she was starting to feel claustrophobic in her own apartment. In the next instant she was purposefully striding across the apartment towards her phone. Fifteen minutes later a honk signaled the arrival of the taxi, and Brennan was on her way to the lab.

Looking out the window at the passing scenery, she wondered if going to the lab was really the best idea. It was usually her cure for everything; get lost in work and everything would be fine. She wasn't sure it would be that easy this time, especially considering that the source of most of her anxiety was probably sitting on a couple of examination tables on the platform at that very moment.

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Brennan paid the cabby and headed in, waving to Tom, the morning security guard, on her way past. She walked quickly down the long corridor leading to the Medico-Legal Lab, her steps echoing loudly off the high ceiling. She tried to concentrate on the sound, pushing images of what she would find on the exam tables out of her mind. She kept telling herself that this was her job; she couldn't just sit around in her apartment and hide from the facts, however painful they may be. Her resolve deepened with every resounding step as the image of a scared 15 year-old girl who's parents had just gone missing solidified in her mind. She would do this for Serena.

She reached the sliding doors that lead to the Medico-Legal Lab and stepped through. As she approached the platform, voices drifted out of Angela's office and she stopped to listen.

"...supposed to pick up Bones at 10."

"What are you going to tell her?" Angela.

"I don't know..." An exhale of air followed. "I spoke to her brother; he's coming in to DC later on today."

"Booth, how is she? I haven't really been able to talk to her much since this whole thing started..." At this point Brennan stopped listening and slid her ID through the scanner, running up the steps to the platform two at a time. She vaguely noted that neither her assistant nor Hodgins were present before heading straight for the examination tables at the far end, snapping on a pair of gloves as she walked. If Booth had Russ coming here, that could only mean one thing - they had identified her parents. She stood before the remains, hesitant to touch, but unable to stop her mind from supplying what obvious visual information there was. Caucasian. Male and female. Between the ages of 40 and 45. Healed fracture on the female's right ulna, surgical pins adding a metal glint to the bone.

"...how'd you get that one?" Temperance put a still slightly pudgy 6 year-old finger on her mother's wrist and traced the barely visible scar. "Oh, that one." Christine leaned closer conspiratorially. "That one I got because of a boy I liked." Temperance wrinkled her nose in response, causing her mother to laugh before continuing her story, leaning back now with a nostalgic expression lighting her face. "We argued all the time, but we were really the best of friends. We were both extremely competitive, and one day he dared me to climb the biggest tree on our street. He said I couldn't do it, so naturally I had to prove him wrong. Needless to say, I fell out of the tree and had to get surgery."

"Did you stay friends?"

Christine smiled. "Yes, we did. And do you know who that boy was?"

"Who?"

"Your dad."

Brennan was pulled out of her reverie as Angela's voice called out from the direction of her office. "Booth! You'll look after her right?" She couldn't see her best friend's face, but could guess that she was smiling. Booth turned and continued, walking backwards as he replied. "You know it." He smiled and turned back around, but stopped abruptly as he passed the platform, the smile fading into a look of concern.

"Bones...What are you doing here?" He swiped his card and jogged up the steps, coming to a halt at Brennan's side. She didn't acknowledge his presence right away, and when she did it was only to list her observations. "Caucasian, approximately 40 to 45 years of age." She held her mother's skull in her hand, pointing to a spot on the back. "Severe trauma to the back of the skull and upper vertebrae, C-1 to C-3 - "

"Bones..."

"...indicating an execution style shot from behind."

Angela had come to a stop at the bottom of the stairs, watching the scene, her eyes tearing slightly in sympathy for her friend.

"Temperance..." Booth wrapped a hand gently around Brennan's upper arm, trying to draw her away from the table. She continued on as though she didn't notice, but it was becoming increasingly clear that her emotions were overwhelming her usually calm exterior. Her eyes were drawn to a bone on the right-hand table and she picked it up slowly. "This fracture here indicates a high impact fall, consistent with skiing or another high speed sport...My father broke his arm during our vacation in the Poconos when I was 12."

Booth tried again to turn her away, this time grasping her shoulder with his other hand and turning her toward him. "Let's go Temperance, come on." Brennan snapped out of it and met his eyes, shaking her head. "No Booth. I have to do this - for myself and for Serena."

"Bones, you don't need to do this part - no one should have to do this. It was thanks to you that they were finally found; let the rest of your team take it from here. You don't have to be the strong one all the time." At that, Brennan practically recoiled, pulling herself from his grasp, her eyes filling with fire and her face hardening.

"I don't? My parents left! My brother left! I was put in the foster system and I couldn't afford to be weak."

Booth's heart ached in response to the almost tangible pain radiating from her, but he could do nothing but look on as she continued.

"Since I was 15 I've had to take care of myself! My grandfather didn't even find me until I was almost 17, and eventually even he left." A stubborn tear traced its way down her cheek, but she brushed it away angrily. "I've worked hard to get where I am now, and I've seen and experienced some horrible things. And one thing I've learned is that eventually everyone leaves whether they want to or not." More tears followed the course the first one had made, but she made no move to brush them away this time. "I do have to be the strong one, because eventually everyone leaves. Who's going to be strong if I'm not?" It seemed her emotions had finally reached the breaking point. Tears were coursing down her cheeks and she allowed Booth to pull her to him. He rubbed her back lightly with one hand and stroked her hair with the other.

Angela looked on a moment longer, a tear of her own escaping as well. She felt like she was intruding, and slipped away to her office, but she couldn't help the small smile that graced her lips at the knowledge that her friend did indeed have someone to look after her.

Booth continued to rub circles on her back. In that moment he wanted to tell her that he would always be there, that he wouldn't leave her, but he knew that he couldn't promise her that, so he remained silent; hoping that in this case actions would speak louder than words. Soon her tears had slowed, and though her breath was still hitching occasionally, Booth was able to lead her away from the platform to her office.

Once standing in front of the couch, Booth held her in front of him as if inspecting her. She seemed calmer, though her eyes still glistened with tears. One of them made it's way down her cheek and Booth cupped face with his hand, wiping it away with his thumb in a mirror of his gesture the night before. As he had done then, he let his hand linger there for a moment. Both of them felt what seemed to be a shift in the air between them. "You wanna tell me why you couldn't wait for me to pick you up?" he asked gently, his eyes smiling softly at her.

Brennan sighed and puffed out her cheeks, blowing the air out as she plopped down on the couch. Booth sat down next to her as he awaited her reply.

"I don't know...I guess I just wanted to do something. I figured if I came here I could just work and take my mind off of things." She laughed darkly at the irony, and Booth shifted beside her. "What do you wanna do?"

Brennan took a moment to consider. "Let's talk about the case." Booth looked at her doubtfully. "You sure?" Brennan nodded more confidently than she felt. "Yeah." Booth looked down, mentally shifting to the topic of the case. "Well, Furlong's been brought in for questioning; they're holding him down at the Bureau. I was going to go down and talk to him after I picked you up."

"I want to go with you," Brennan said resolutely.

"Bones, I really don't think-"

"I want to Booth. If this man is responsible for the death of my parents and Serena's parents, not to mention everyone else he's responsible for killing - I want to look him in the eye." Booth regarded her silently for a moment before nodding. A moment passed before either of them spoke.

"Where did you find Russ?" Brennan asked quietly.

"You heard that huh? I found him working at an amusement park in North Carolina and convinced him to come to DC. He's supposed to give me a call when he gets into town." Brennan nodded, but her expression grew troubled again. Booth sat forward. "What are you thinking?"

Brennan sighed and shifted to face him better. "What if Russ doesn't want to see me? I made him think he wasn't enough family for me, and I've never made an effort to contact him..."

Booth shook his head. "Temperance, he's your brother, he loves you. Nothing you could do is gonna change that. When you see him today, just...talk to him. You know what? It's-" he glanced at his watch, "9:30. Why don't we get some coffee and then we'll head over to the Bureau?"

Brennan smiled gratefully. "That sounds good."


Comments? Questions? Ideas?

Next up: The interrogation of Furlong, the arrival of Russ, and possibly some smoochies(which I know a lot of you have been waiting for). ; )

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