A/N: Well, this is the last chapter. Hope you all enjoy it. It's full of fluff.
The hospital hall was quiet as Temperance made her way to Melina's room. It had been less than three hours since the child had been hospitalized but Ryan had insisted on interviewing her. Temperance had refused to accompany him, saying that Melina would be too tired to answer questions and that, out of respect for her, he should wait. Of course, Ryan hadn't listened and had gone anyway. After much debating, Temperance had decided to go too. To stop him.
She reached the door to find it closed. She knocked softly, waited a few seconds before opening it. The room was quiet and she saw two heads turned towards her when she stepped in the room.
"You remember Temperance, Melina?" Ryan asked.
The child nodded and Temperance swore she had seen a smile tugging at her lips. She smiled at her.
"How are you feeling?" she asked.
But Melina didn't answer. Temperance turned questioningly at Ryan who stood up. He told Melina he'd be back in a few minutes before he walked out of the room, grabbing his partner by the elbow on his way out.
"She won't talk." Ryan told her.
"She's traumatized. What do you expect?" Temperance replied, thinking about her own experience.
She, herself, had stopped talking for a while after her parents disappeared. What Melina had gone through for the last months was even more horrible than what she had gone through. It was too be expected that the child would be traumatized by all of it.
"It'll take a while before she starts talking again. She probably doesn't even trust the nurses who take care of her. I..."
But Temperance stopped.
"You were going to say I told you so, weren't you?"
Temperance nodded. Ryan chuckled.
"Did you talk to Collins yet?"
"Nope. I have another agent doing just that right now."
"How did you find out that Collins was the abductor?"
Temperance was confused. What was Mr. Bradford doing in all of this? There was obviously something Ryan had "forgotten" to tell her about.
"I went down to North Carolina yesterday to interview him and he ended up telling me the whole truth."
Ryan sat down on a chair in front of Melina's door. Temperance did the same, figuring this might take a while.
"Bradford was actually involved in all of this. He said that Collins came to him one day and told him that he had reasons to believe that Melina was his biological daughter."
"You mean Collins thought that Melina was his daughter?" Temperance asked, not sure what Ryan had just meant.
"Yes. Apparently, Collins proposed to Bradford to get a paternity test done on her to see who was the real father. Paul, Mr. Bradford, thought it was a bit out of nowhere since he hadn't known his wife knew a James Collins so he asked him for a couple of days to think about it. It took about three days before Bradford gave Collins an answer. He told me that he was going crazy, that every time he looked at his daughter after that, he saw Collins. That's what made him decide to do it."
Ryan paused for a split second.
"Bradford knew his wife wouldn't be for the paternity test and he told Collins about it. The teacher thought it would be a good idea to kidnap Melina and have a secret paternity test done on her. Bradford wasn't for the idea at first but Collins had great persuasive powers and Bradford finally agreed."
The fire wasn't accidental."
"What do you mean it wasn't accidental?"
Ryan smiled at Temperance's incredulity.
"Bradford's an ex-electrician. He knows his stuff. He set it up to make it look like an accidental fire when, in fact, it was totally criminal."
"How did he do that?"
"Do you really care about that?"
"That's what I thought."
"Collins stole the fire fighter suit, with Bradford's help who knew how to turn off the security alarm from the outside. The night of the fire, Collins kidnap Melina but he hadn't planned on finding Carl in the room as well. He thought that maybe he wouldn't get suspected right away if he took Carl too. When he saw Allison, he realized that she had recognized him that's why he threatned her not to say anything."
Temperance nodded. This story was incredible.
"But how did Carl end up being killed?"
"He tried to run away. Carl had a little more guts than his sister and one day, he decided that he had had enough of the dark and the starving and he tried to get away. Collins caught him and beat the crap out of him. He left him for dead in the basement but Carl ended up surviving the night. Bradford stopped by the house the following morning, Collins told him about his son and what he had done to punish him. Bradford got mad at Collins but the man used his anger against him and made Bradford hit his child instead of him. Bradford said that the child was barely conscient when Collins strangled him to death.
It was after that episode that Bradford realized how crazy Collins really was. He chickened out, backed out of the plan and left his daughter with the man. He said that it would be too suspicious if he brought her home with him. He figured the authorities would find her. Besides, he knew he was in deep trouble after all of that."
"What did you charge him with?"
"I had no choice but to charge him with first-degree murder. He practically killed his son by beating and he let Collins strangle him to death. Abduction charges will probably be laid as well."
"Does his wife know about it?"
"Not yet. I was going to go tell her after my visit to Melina."
Temperance stood up.
"Go now. I'll stay with Melina until you come back with her mother."
Temperance thought Melina was asleep when she saw the child had her eyes closed. But the eyes fluttered open the second she closed the door behind her. She smiled reassuringly at the child. Melina didn't move.
Temperance pulled a chair up to the bed, Melina's eyes following her every move. She sat down. Melina's eyes never left her face.
"How are you feeling?" she asked once again.
Melina blinked but stayed silent.
"It's okay if you don't want to talk right now. I understand. My parents disappeared when I was 15 and for a couple of months, I didn't talk to anybody. Nobody forced me to do it and I was very thankful for it."
Melina nodded and Temperance smiled. There was a least a bit of trust between them.
"When you're ready to talk, Ryan will be there to listen to your story, okay?"
The little girl nodded again.
Temperance noticed the child looked so skinny under all the tubes and bandages. She could see a cast on the child's right arm, several healed and not-so-healed cuts on her face and her body. Temperance even thought she could see a burn on the child's arm. Temperance shuddered.
"Ryan is gone to get your mother, Melina."
Tears immediately shot up the child's eyes and a few of them escaped. The salted water trailed down the girl's face. Temperance fought the urge to wipe them away. Melina had the right to cry of happiness.
Melina yawned and Temperance took that as her cue to leave. She stood up, smiled once more at the child before walking back to the door.
"I'll talk to you." She heard a small voice say behind her.
Temperance turned around. Melina was smiling weakly at her. Temperance smiled back.
"Okay." She replied, nodding.
On that, she left the room.
"Unbelievable." Booth said as he watched Temperance drop on the bed, exhausted.
"Tell me about it. I'm surprised. I mean, Collins seemed so normal, besides the fact that he had seemed attracted to little girls."
"Well now we know that it was Melina all along that he had in mind."
Booth took place beside her on their bed. He turned on his side to face her, his head resting in his left hand. The other arm reached for her hand. Fingers linked and Temperance sighed.
"You should have seen the mother-daughter reunion. Ryan teared. I teared. It was just so moving."
"You big softy." He said, teasingly.
"Melina said that she would talk to me and not to Ryan."
Booth didn't look surprised.
"I don't doubt it. You have a way with kids that make them trust you. Children, they have this sensor and they know, most of the time, when they can trust a certain person. They only see the good in people and sometimes that plays tricks on them. It happened to Melina and it's sad to say that it's going to happen to more children as well."
Temperance nodded, sadly. She just wish this wasn't going to happen to her own children.
"Promise me, Booth, that if a man you barely even know comes up to you and says that our twins aren't yours that you're not going to believe him."
Booth kissed her forehead.
"I promise. But I doubt that's ever going to happen."
"Why do you say that?"
Booth scooted over to be even closer to her. His hand left hers to go rest on her hips and Booth pulled her closer to him.
"Our kids are ours, there's no denying that. Everything about them reminds me of you or me. Lukas looks exactly like me when I was his age and he has your intelligence and your strength. Riley looks exactly like you, except with my brown eyes, and she has my personality. She's more outgoing, trusting and less smart."
"You're smart, Booth."
"Not as smart as you. That's what I mean."
Temperance nodded. Booth's expression turned serious which made Temperance frown.
"What's the matter?" she asked him.
"Last week, you told me you wanted another child and I told you to wait until this case was over before we talk about it. Now that the case is over, I want to know where you stand on this new baby thing."
Temperance looked away. She hadn't really thought about it since that night and now that Booth had reminded her, she realized that she was in fact ready to have a new baby. She knew that it would mean less time spent at work and more sacrifices but seeing Melina had brought out something in her. She had realized that if she could care that much for a child she didn't even know, there was no telling how much she could care about her own children.
She turned back to Booth.
"I still want another one. I think I'm ready."
"Are you sure? Because once you're pregnant, there's no turning back. The twins were an accident. I don't want the same thing to happen to our next child."
"It's not going to happen to our next child."
Booth smiled and kissed her once again, this time, on the lips.
"So we're trying to have a baby?" Booth asked.
"We're trying to have a baby." She replied.
Booth grinned before passionately claiming Temperance's lips with his.
This trying-to-have-a-baby stuff is fun. Temperance thought as Booth pulled her shirt off and kissed the newly exposed skin.
Thank you once again to every reader who read this story and especially to those who reviewed. It's been a bumpy ride, at least for me since I did a whole lot of reconsidering for this story based on your reviews. I appreciated every single one of them and I hope you enjoyed reading the story as much as I enjoyed writing it. I have a lot of ideas for new stories so make sure to check out the Bones page in the next few days for a new story. Until then, take care!