Special Agent Parker

The two of them sit in the center of the carpet, legs crossed and facing each other. Neither says a word. The room is quiet enough that she imagines that she can hear the faint ticking of a clock. Counting down each second of the silence. Finally, she decides to try again.

"So, no more flashcards?"

The little boy across from her shakes his head slowly from side to side, blond curls falling into his eyes.

She's quiet for a moment. Then, she leans forward, excitement in her voice.

"I know! We can practice the names of all the bones." She holds out her hands, wiggling her fingers. "See, these are the phalanges…"

Her words die out as he tilts his head slightly, brown eyes staring back at her warily.

"Not fun? Okay, so no bones…." She bites her lip, stumped.

"Let's see, what else? No TV means no Power Rangers—sorry, Ranger Powers, right?"

The boy puts his hands over his face, shaking his head in what she thinks is dismay. She can't see the smile that he is trying to hide, doesn't know that his daddy told him not to laugh if she did that, because she tried really, really hard to get the names right.

All she can't think is how much he looks like his father when he gets frustrated with her. That she was messing this up. How could babysitting be this hard?

She lets out a deep breath, looking around the room for inspiration. At this point, she would take anything at all.

Come on, think, Brennan. You were a kid once.

As she takes in her surroundings, the seeds of an idea begin to form. It feels a little desperate, but what did she have to lose?

"Hey, Parker. Did your dad ever tell you about the time that he found the pirate treasure?"

"Real pirates?" There is a little flicker of interest in his eyes, so she continues on.

"Yes, real pirates. Real gold, too. Your dad was very brave. He saved my friend Jack from the big pirate captain…."

"My daddy is the braverest man in the world, right Dr. Bones?" He scoots closer, ready to hear the rest of the story. Now that she has his attention, she sets the rest of her plan into motion. Reaching into her pocket, she pulls out her cell phone, pretending to look at the caller ID window.

"Sorry, Parker. This looks important. I'd better take it."

She stands and pretends to answer the phone, watching as he tries to be polite, to hide his impatience.

Brennan waits a moment before speaking in a very business-like tone. "What can I do for you, Mr. Cullen?" She tries to hide a smile as she notices that Parker's interest has returned once he recognized the name of his father's boss.

His eyes grow wide as she continues, "What's that….more pirates? Oh, no…they're after our treasure again?"

As she hears Parker moving closer, she starts to think that maybe, just maybe, she can pull this off.

"No, sir. I'm afraid I can't help today. See, Parker and I are having a very important conversation. What…I can take Parker with me? I don't know, this is a very good discussion we're having. Let me ask him…"

She feels a tug on her sleeve, and looks down into a face brimming with excitement. "I can catch pirates good, Dr. Bones."

"Are you sure, Parker? We can always get out those flashcards…."

"No. Pirates. Pirates. Pleeeeease….."

"Okay, Mr. Cullen, sir. We'll be ready." She smiles as she kneels down, brushing a wayward curl from his forehead. Staring into shining brown eyes, she speaks into the silent phone. "It looks like I've found myself a partner."

As she fastens the safety-pin closed, Parker pats the lopsided circle that she has pinned to his t-shirt.

"That is a fine badge you have there, partner."

He squares his little shoulders and puffs out his chest. "And it's just like my daddy's. See, F. B. I."

Brennan smiles to herself as she watches little fingers trace the blue crayon letters. "Yes, exactly like your dad. Now, Special Agent Parker, where did we put the special pirate-catcher?"

"Here it is!" He waves the feather duster they had carefully selected earlier. As a single grey feather falls to the floor, a concerned look crosses his face. "Uh-oh. Dr. Bones, I don't think this is gonna work on pirates."

She retrieves the feather from the floor. "Remember, what I told you? I found that in the pirate room at the museum. These are the very same feathers left behind the parrot that belonged to the great Captain Barnabus the Smelly himself."

He laughs as she tickles his nose with the tip of the feather. "Now, partner, ready to go catch some smelly pirates?"

Parker pushes open the door to the pirate hang-out, waving his pirate-catcher in front of him. A serious expression on his face, he turns and pats her arm. "Wait here, Dr. Bones. Gotta make sure it's safe, 'kay?."

"Okay, Parker. Just be careful….Barnabus may still be here." She waits outside until he returns, a dejected look on his face.

"Aww, all of 'em are gone."

"It's not over yet, partner. Let's see if they left behind some clues. Maybe the treasure's still in there."

Brennan motions Parker over to her, pointing down at the sand. "Look, Parker. Pirate tracks!"

Parker bends down, looking intently at the ground. "Oh, man. Lots of 'em."

She looks around for more signs. "Right again. A whole gang of them—we must be getting close!"

Pointing ahead of her, down the beach. "There he is, Parker. Old Captain Smelly—and it looks like he has the treasure too!"

"Let's get 'em!"

"Ready when you are, Agent Parker."

"Good job, Parker! Way to use that pirate-catcher. He never had a chance with you on his trail."

Parker leans into the pirate's face, "Yeah, and now you're gonna go to jail!"

"Right, partner. Let's go lock him up where he belongs. Now, where did that bag of gold coins get to?"

"Here it is! We saved it, Dr. Bones!" He reaches down to pick up a brown canvas bag bulging with coins.

Booth feels a little guilty as he knocks against the door. He hadn't meant to be gone as long as he had. The meeting with the deputy director had dragged on forever. He could only hope that things had gone better here.

Brennan opens the door quickly, finger to her lips. "Quiet, Booth! He just fell asleep a few minutes ago."

He starts to apologize for being so late, but stops mid-sentence as he looks over her shoulder.

"Bones, what exactly happened here…." He moves past her into the apartment, turning to take in the scene around him with a stunned look in his eyes.

A white sheet hangs across a group of chairs, creating a makeshift tent in the center of the room. Grey feathers litter the carpet. A teddy-bear with a folded paper hat, rests on its side under an up-turned laundry basket on top of the coffee table. Parker sleeping on the couch, his arm wrapped around a bag of chocolate chip cookies.

Brennan smiles at the expression on his face, his questions about the mess. What mess? All she saw was a pirate hang-out, along with the results of a brave battle and Captain Barnabus sitting in his jail cell.

Her musings are interrupted as she notices Booth moving towards the couch. "Cookies? You didn't let him eat those…"

"Those aren't cookies, Booth. It's pirate treasure."

Leaning over Parker, he tries to remove the bag of cookies without waking him. "What are you talking…." His words trail off as he notices the paper circle pinned to Parker's shirt. Reaching out, he lightly traces each letter.

"Treasure… I see what you mean." He looks back at her over his shoulder. "Thank you, Temperance."