Title: The Skeleton's Truth
Rating: T
Disclaimer: There's a lot of people who own Bones, when you think about it. Fox, Far Field Productions, Kathy Reichs... unfortunately, I didn't make the cut for that list. C'est la vie. Also, all the chapter titles are book names, and if I'd written any of those I wouldn't be posting here.
Notes: Alright. For those of you who read The Tempest, this is in the same vein. A little angsty. This is going to focus on Tempe dealing with the loss of her parents. Reviewers are loved. A lot.

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Routine. It was a routine case, a routine day. Booth brought in a body, and she studied it, stripped the decay away, read the story in the bones. She wrote everything down on her clipboard, just like normal, took detailed notes and snapped pictures when necessary. She determined cause of death, age, height, had Hodgins help her out with time of death. Ange was starting on the facial reconstruction when Tempe slid the file to Booth.

Routine. It was a normal day of school, one of the last days before Christmas break. She stepped off the bus with her backpack, the kind that slung over one shoulder, that she had begged so hard for even though her mother had said it would give her backaches. The front door was locked when she tried it, so she rummaged for her spare key.

She went into her office to eat her lunch. A sandwich, yogurt, and a Diet Coke stood waiting on the corner of her desk for her. She didn't have anything to do until Ange or Booth got back to her with a drawing or with some possible names, so she took her time and expected to be interrupted eventually. Forty five minutes later, she realized she hadn't been.

She went into the kitchen to eat a snack, feeling a tad annoyed at her mother for not letting her know she would be working later. Grabbing a few pretzel rods from the pantry, she settled down with her math book to finish off the few problems she hadn't gotten to in class. She kept one ear open for the sound of the garage opening. She finished her math and the other bits of homework she had. Forty five minutes later, she realized her mother still wasn't home.

Tempe worked on some paperwork she'd been ignoring, but after an hour she began to wonder what was going on. She tossed her trash into the garbage can on the way out of her office, and then started towards Ange's office. At least if Booth wasn't there, she'd be able to ask about the facial reconstruction.

Tempe settled down with a book and a blanket. An hour later, she started wondering what was up with her mom. She dialed the office where her mother worked, but the receptionist told her that no, Mrs. Brennan hadn't been in, she'd taken the day off to attend some sort of seminar with Mr. Brennan. Confused, Tempe went up to Russ's room to see if he knew what was up. When she asked, he shook his head and went back to reading his magazine.

Peering into her best friend's office, she saw with a start that Booth was there with Angela. They were looking intently at some papers spread out over Ange's desk, backs to the door. Booth turned slightly, and Tempe saw that his face was somber, even worried. He ran his hand through his hair in a stressed-out, bewildered sort of movement. She opened the door, and they both started guiltily.

Peering out the front windows, she realized that it was going to be dark soon. Where on earth were her parents? Her father was usually home by now; he went into work early in the morning and came home around dinner time. She didn't know what to do, or who to call. Deciding that she was probably overreacting, Tempe made herself dinner and then stayed up late reading. There was a sick feeling in the pit of her stomach that she couldn't banish or logic away.

"Why are you two so jumpy?" she asked, laughing nervously despite herself. Angela and Booth didn't smile back, but looked at each other uneasily and shifted subconsciously in front of the desk.

"Brenn, hon…" Angela trailed off. She had a note of pity in her voice, something that Tempe had gotten very good at detecting. The anthropologist was suddenly tired of whatever game they were trying to play, and there was something cold in the pit of her stomach.

"What are you guys looking at?" she demanded, pushing Booth aside. Ange snatched up her drawing before Tempe could see it, but Booth made no movement to grab the list of potential matches for the body.

She woke up with her head on the book and the lights still on. A quick glance at the clock told her that it was four in the morning. Groaning, she sat up and swung her legs over the side of the couch, wondering why no one had woken her up. Her parents would definitely be home from wherever they had been, she was certain, but she'd peek into their room just to be sure.

"Tempe." Russell's voice startled her in the dark hallway.

"You scared me," she accused, "Are Mom and Dad home?" It came out sounding more like 'momndad', some kind of slang worn in from overuse of the two words together.

He didn't answer, just looked at her with a strange expression on her face.

"What is it?" she questioned, a feeling of apprehension tightening her muscles.

The list wasn't too long; Tempe had found a fracture in the victim's right wrist that had helped narrow it down. She read to herself.

Lisa Arnold. Carrie Nelson. Elizabeth McKinney. Lydia Patterson. Faith Anderson.

Christine Brennan.

A feeling of cold dread swept through Tempe, and she fought the dizziness that coursed through her. She looked up.

"Let me see the sketch." Her voice was cold. Firm. Rational. Logical. All of those things she'd become. Angela wordlessly handed it over.

A week. It didn't make any sense. Where? Why? When? Questions buzzed through Tempe's head constantly, giving her a headache and blurring her vision. If they were gone much longer, Russell told her in a hollow voice, Tempe would be sent into foster care. Russ was nineteen, too old to be a ward of the state. Too young to claim Temperance.

Tempe didn't want to belong to the state. She wanted to belong to her parents. She wanted them back. She didn't want to listen to the voice in her head that said if they were alive somewhere they would have been back by now.

Temperance stared at herself. There were certain things wrong in the drawing, things that Ange couldn't have known, and a difference of years, but Tempe looked a good bit like her mother and it was obvious. She hadn't even realized how much.

Bile crept up her throat, and she put her hand to her mouth. Angela and Booth stared at her, with that damn sympathy on their face, that damn sympathy and that damn concern. She hated that expression, wanted to peel it off their faces. The office spun around her, and she gasped involuntarily and put her hand to the wall to steady herself. Booth stepped forwards, looking unsure of what to do.

No one ever knew what to do.

"I need some air," she said shakily, then turned and left the office, forcing herself to walk. Every time her heel hit the floor, she heard that little word vibrate in her ears. Dead. Dead. Dead. She started walking faster, and the chant sped up in her head. What did this mean about her father, then? She shouldn't be so surprised, she told herself. She had known this was highly probable.

But that was different.

Then, she realized she was walking feet away from the lab table, and the decomposing body that rested on top of it. She broke out into a run, fighting the tears that wanted to escape her eyes. She heard footsteps behind her, knew that Angela or Booth was walking behind her. Tempe couldn't bring herself to care. She pushed the front doors open and was immersed in the afternoon light; days were always bright and normal whenever you wished they wouldn't be, she knew. Leaning against the brick, she stared at nothing.

They never came back.

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AN: Loved it? Despised it? Too much angst? Not enough? Just right? Got a favorite line? Want to see this go somewhere in particular? Have something you'd like to point out? Want to send chocolate to my muse, who wishes to add that it prefers dark chocolate and no almonds? Tired of the questions?

Well, then drop me a line and let me know!