Disclaimer- The only things in this story that are mine are the bad guys and the dead people... darn

Author's Note- This takes place after The Season Two finale, with the idea that Brennan and Booth just took Angela and Hodgins place as the bride and groom (cheesy I know, but I thought it was sweet) The begining part was te catalyst which started me thinking about the case, and I just couldn't find a good place to seperate it, so you et the whole thing. I promise that future chapters will be shorter.

Enjoy!


-1Dr. Temperance Brennan rubbed the back of her neck nervously.

"Come on, Bones, relax," her partner and husband Seeley Booth whispered in her ear. She threw him an annoyed look. How he could be so calm in this she had no idea.

"I'm trying to relax, but it's not every day we get invited to lunch at the White House," She heard him chuckle. "What?"

"It's you, Bones; I still haven't figured you out yet. Most people aren't this freaked out when they get invited to lunch with the President. Most people feel honored."

"And most people don't suddenly decide to up and get married to someone they haven't even dated either," she quipped back, leaning in for Booth's kiss, "I should check with Zach about the lab." Brennan reached for her cell phone, but Booth got there first.

"You did that five minutes ago. And since I'm with you, chances are the Jeffersonian is pretty quiet. Now come on, we don't want to be late." He placed a hand on her lower back and escorted her to the car.


"I told you this would be awkward," Brennan whispered to Booth as they stood, socializing. The luncheon had been held to honor influential authors, Brennan among them. But unlike the vast majority of those in attendance, Dr. Brennan only wrote on the side. A talented forensic anthropologist, she worked in conjunction with the FBI to solve murder cases. She had no idea about most of the issues facing the other authors; her publishers handled everything that had to do with the book. Booth decided not to fight with her and

"Dr. Brennan, I presume," the voice startled her. She turned to find the President of the United States standing behind her, hand extended. She took it in her own.

"You presume correctly, Mr. President," she said, waving Booth over, "My partner, Special Agent Seeley Booth, with the FBI" The gentlemen shook hands.

"Do you mind if we sit down and have a word, Dr. Brennan?" the President asked.

"Not at all," the group moved to a small corner table where Booth could have his back to the wall and the noise was quieter.

"I have been informed through various channels that you were the one who originally opened the investigation which freed Marvin Beckett from prison." Brennan was taken aback.

"It was my team, yes, when we investigated the murder of Gareth…" she struggled for the name.

"Keenan, Gareth Keenan," Booth provided, his hand taking Brennan's, "Why do you ask?"

"Simply to commend you for your fantastic work. By the way Dr. Brennan, I found your book fascinating." The President rose and walked off. Booth and Brennan exchanged a look.

"Was it just me or was that out of the ordinary?" she asked, stunned.

"That was weird," Booth answered.


The luncheon went surprisingly well. They were seated at a table with other writers who wrote in the same genre and they happened to be books Brennan had not read. Therefore, the conversation did not revolve around the inconsistencies of fact and fiction, which was a tendency of Brennan's. Things got a little dicey toward the end of the lunch, as the others at their table had been drinking wine as fast as their glasses were filled. Without warning, Brennan felt a hand on her left thigh. She brushed it off as discreetly as she could, but it returned. Her right hand grabbed Booth's left as a reflex to prevent herself from smacking the guy across the table.

"What's up, Bones?" Booth asked. Brennan pulled the tablecloth back to reveal the hand insistently rubbing her thigh. Booth saw red. He leaned across Brennan to talk to the guy.

"Hey Buddy," he said, irritated, "Would you mind keeping your hands off my wife?" the man appeared not to notice him. Booth asked again to no avail. He turned to Brennan.

"Aright, sweetheart, he's asking for a scene." Booth released Brennan's hand and almost in the same second she was kneeling behind the other man, his arm painfully twisted behind his back. The man gave an involuntary scream of pain.

"Next time, remember to keep your hands to yourself," she whispered sharply before releasing his hand. Brennan took hold of the hand Booth offered to help her up. Suddenly, the room was plunged in darkness. Screams erupted from all around. Brennan felt Booth pull her close, protecting her.

"You alright, Bones?" he asked.

"Yeah, what's going on?"

"I wish I knew," Booth muttered grimly. The lights flickered, and then came back on. When everyone looked around the room more screams were heard. Brennan looked in the direction everyone was pointing.

"Oh, my word," she said, finding herself unable to breathe, "Booth" He seemed fixated on it as well. There, sitting where, only moments before, the President had been seated, was a rotting skeleton.

"Great, more bones" Booth muttered. He followed Brennan as she wove her way through the crowd.

"Don't touch it!" she called to the curious onlookers who were gathered around the chair. When they ignored her, she looked back to Booth, who already had his badge out.

"FBI, step back please."


Thirty minutes later, Booth sat next to a fuming Brennan in an interrogation room.

"You know who they're going to bring in to collect evidence don't you?" she asked, venting, "They are going to call Cam, who isn't here because they sent her to Iraq. So they are going to call Zach. Zach is going to be allowed to examine those bones while I'm stuck here answering stupid questions." Her ranting continued.

"Bones," Booth stopped her, "Bones, Bones, Bones. Breathe. Everything is going to be fine. Who was it that trained Zach?" he paused, "So see, you don't need to worry about anything. We'll be questioned a little and I can assure you that you will be studying those bones before breakfast." She gave him a small kiss on the cheek.

"Thanks for that, but you know that it's not true," she said. Booth rolled his eyes.

"We need to set you up for a session with Gordon Gordon Wyatt. And he says I'm a control freak." Brennan swatted him playfully.

"Dr. Temperance Brennan?" a young looking investigator popped his head in the door. Brennan looked up.

"Yes?"

"Dr. Addy requests your assistance with the investigation." Brennan rose.

"Agent Booth is coming with me," it was a statement not a question, and one that the rookie accepted without hesitation.


"What have we got, Zach?" Brennan asked, pulling on latex gloves as she approached the skeleton.

"Male, 25-30 years old. Been dead for a while. Hodgins would really have fun with this one, there's huge amounts of insect and fungus damage. And look," he said, indicating something lodged in the victim's trachea. Brennan looked closer, it was a medallion of some sort, she couldn't tell what.

"Anything that could help us make a quick ID?" Booth asked, This guy gives me the creeps."

"They all give you the creeps, Booth, I thought you'd be used to it by now" Brennan shot back. Booth just shook his head.

"Take this back to the lab and get started." Brennan instructed Zach.

"Aren't you coming, Dr. Brennan?" he asked.

"Not unless they take me off the lockdown list," she answered, "I'll be in touch." Zach handed over a large blue bag marked with her initials and the symbol of the Jeffersonian Institution.

"I brought the only bag I found in your office, I hope it has everything you need." Brennan took a quick look inside.

"Looks like it. Don't hesitate to call if you need help. I feel bad that you have to do this by yourself, but I am also confident in your ability to handle this."

"You'll do great Z-man," Booth encouraged, laying an open palm on Zach's shoulder.


Brennan slipped into the ladies' room to change her clothes. When she came out she was wearing the slacks and blouse that she kept in her equipment bag in place of the red dress she had worn to the luncheon. Booth wrapped an arm around her waist.

"I got you a room where you can plug in and work with Zach," he said, handing her a key card, "This is your security pass, guard it with your life." She looked over at him.

"You're coming too, right?" she asked. He gave he a weak smile.

"I tried, but I'm technically a suspect and therefore not allowed to be part of the investigation. They've refused to let me work this case." It was Brennan's turn to be annoyed.

"But they can't do that!" she exclaimed, "They can't expect me to work this without you! We're partners for goodness sake!"

"I know that," Booth said, "but they don't." Just then Brennan's phone rang.

"What is it?" she snapped.

"I thought you'd want to know that the object in the guy's throat was a medallion. It features Meriwether Lewis. It's small and silver, but not the cause of death. That was a blow to the head with a blunt object. I can beam you the images if you want."

"Thanks, Zach, give me a second to set up," she handed the phone to Booth, freeing up her hands to remove the laptop computer from her equipment bag.

"You're going to set up here in the hall?" Booth asked. Brennan fixed him with a look.

"Sure," she said, "that way you can work with me. Zach and I are doing this alone so we need all the help we can get."

"So instead of working in a secure environment we're going to work in the hallway?" He asked.

"Only until they clear you to work with me, which should be soon," she said, indicating the FBI agent headed down the hall toward them.

"What's going on?" Zach asked, "Can I beam you this stuff?"

"Yes, Zach, please do."

"Dr. Brennan?" the FBI agent approached them, "Special Agent Gregory Hanson, Does this communication pertain to the current investigation?"

"It does," Brennan responded distractedly.

"May I request that you move to a more secure location?" Agent Hanson asked.

"You may and I will move as soon as my partner receives clearance to work with me on this investigation. My team is already extremely short-handed and needs every member it can get," Brennan smiled sweetly at the agent, then turned her attention to the images on her computer, "Zach, I'm going to find that list of task force code names Booth got us during the Keenan investigation. I need to see who Lewis was. Meanwhile you collect any insect and soil samples you can and save them. I'll see if Booth can find Hodgins and Angela. Keep me informed."

"Dr. Brennan, please, this is an extremely sensitive case, as you well know." Agent Hanson tried to persuade her to move. He gently took her elbow and tried to propel her down the hall. Brennan calmly handed the computer to Booth.

"Please let go of me," she asked the agent. When he didn't she attacked, spinning around and knocking the surprised agent to the ground. She held him there with a foot in his back.

"I have stated the terms on which I will move my investigation. Until my partner has security clearance we will be conducting this investigation where we can, right here." She lifted her foot then helped the agent to his feet.

"No hard feelings, Agent Hanson, you just happened to be unlucky." Booth said.

"I'll see what I can do about the clearance." Agent Hanson said as he hurried off.


"Hodgins and Angela are really hiding," Booth reported.

"You're saying that the FBI can't track a scientist and an artist, both of whom are federal employees?" Brennan asked, looking up from her computer. Booth got defensive.

"Come on, Bones the guy's a conspiracy theorist, he's probably printed up the list of '101 ways to hide from the FBI'. Give me a break, okay?"

"Alright, I'm sorry," Brennan said, "Maybe you can look up this man instead. Michael Detringer. Apparently, he was a bank robber at the same time my parents were. He got the handle Lewis." Tones sounded from her computer and she accepted the call from Zach.

' The blow was most likely a fire hydrant, and we're working on a designer's name for the medallion, but we've got another issue now," Zach moved the camera down toward the lab table. On it rested a human hand.

"The FBI brought this by, apparently they found it along the banks of the Potomac. They're dredging the river for more."

"I doubt they'll find it," Brennan said, "Look closer at the scoring on the wrist. The person who cut this off wanted the victim to live. The hand was most likely bound twice, about an inch apart, to cut off circulation, then it was cut carefully so as not to slit a major artery, this person knew what he was doing." Booth turned away.

"So there is someone out there missing a hand?" he asked.

"A left hand to be exact," Brennan said, suddenly she noticed something.

"Zach, get me a closer view of his ring finger." The image showed a wedding band.

"So he's married," Booth said, "So are half the men in D.C. so am I for that matter."

"Not the ring, the scar above it," she said, "that perfect 'x' shape, I saw it recently, wondered if the bone had been affected. But where did I see it?" She stood and paced the room, thinking.

"Bones, you use instant messenger?" Booth called from his seat beside her computer.

"Yes, occasionally I find it useful. Why?" she asked.

"Because someone is trying to talk to you," he answered, "Bugman Slady."

"What?" Brennan sat down at the computer and clicked the icon, "Hey sweetie," she read.

"Sweetie?" Booth asked, "Ask who it is."

But Brennan was one step ahead.

"It has to be Angela. She's the only one who calls me that. Besides, her name is Bugman's lady, who else but Hodgins would call himself Bugman?" Brennan began typing.

BONES: Hey Ange, How are you?

BUGMANSLADY: We're doing great!!! And you?

BONES: Muddling through, Listen, is Hodgins there?

BUGMANSLADY: Of course

BONES:I need to talk to him

BUGMANSLADY: Brennan, if this is about work I will kill you myself.

BONES: Haven't you guys seen the news?

BUGMANSLADY: Not since we high-tailed it out of the country

BONES: You still owe me an explanation on that by the way.

BUGMANSLADY: I'll explain everything later

"Bones, let's stick to the case and admit it was a good thing that they disappeared, 'kay?" Booth sounded irritated.

"Is Agent Booth scared that I might be having second thoughts?" Bones asked, "I'm getting to the case, but first I need to act like a friend." She patted his hand, "Their running away was a very good thing."

BUGMANSLADY: Sweetie, are you there?

BONES: Yeah, sorry, Booth was distracting me. I really need to talk to Hodgins.

BUGMANSLADY: Okay

BONES: Thank you, Angela.

BUGMANSLADY: So, Dr. B, what's going on?

BONES: I've got a fantastic case I could really use your insight on.

BUGMANSLADY: Work??

BONES: An abnormal amount of insect and fungal decay on a dead body which happened to appear in the White House today. Plus a left hand without a body which was found beside the Potomac fifteen minutes ago.

BUGMANSLADY: Did you say a body at the White House??

BONES: Yes, it was a really creepy thing. One minute everything was normal, the next everything goes black and the next there's a skeleton in the President's chair.

BUGMANSLADY: Weird.

BONES: and now they've got us all under lockdown. I had to force them to let Booth work with me.

BUGMANSLADY: They have the Jeffersonian under lockdown???

BONES: No, the White House.

BUGMANSLADY: You were there?

BONES: Yeah, an author's luncheon. I actually talked to the president.

BUGMANSLADY: Wicked!!

BONES: So, can you two fly up to help us, please, Zach is alone at the lab, Can you see why I'd be nervous?

BUGMANSLADY: Cam?

BONES: She got stuck with the Iraq assignment Zach turned down.

BUGMANSLADY: I think we can make it.

BONES: Thank you

"So, what's the deal, Bones?" Booth asked. "Do we have a team?"

"We have a team!" She said, sighing contentedly, "I was really nervous there for a second." They pair worked hard for almost an hour. Booth printed up several pages of information and passed them across the table.

"Michael Detringer?" Brennan asked.

"He has a criminal record as long as your father's," Booth said, "And he knows your father, apparently they posed as brothers for a while after your mother's death." Booth slid over the photograph he'd printed off." Brennan studied it.

"Uncle Mike?" she asked, incredulous.

"You know him?" Booth asked.

"Yeah, He used to come stay with us for long periods of time while my parents were gone. I always thought he was above that. Guess I was wrong again." She threw down the picture.

"So, could this be another guy saying, 'Don't mess with Temperance Brennan?'" Booth asked.

"Maybe, He did leave the same calling card." Brennan sighed, "Great, I'm being protected by a gang of career criminals."

"They're not the only ones," Booth protested, "You've also got me." He kissed her soundly and sweetly. Zach cleared his throat.

"Um, Dr. Brennan," the couple parted but both glared at Zach, "I got a partial print from the hand and I found a tattoo on the other guy's neck." He beamed the image.

"That's a Maramuerte tattoo," Booth exclaimed, "I thought we had straightened that issue out."

"The El Salvadorian gang?" Brennan asked, "why would they want to kill me?"

"You beat up their leader, you made him angry." Booth said.

"How long have you known that he had a hit out on me?" she asked, frightened.

"I thought I straightened things out in the ally after we solved that case. It's why I missed that funeral." Brennan's face paled.

"So, its almost a good thing they're watching out for me?" she asked.

"In this case, I'd say it is a very good thing."


Hodgins and Angela arrived after a long flight and drove directly to the Jeffersonian. When they walked through the front door, Zach practically did a jig.

"Lead me to the bugs, Z-man," Hodgins said, irritated. Angela headed to the computer to check in with Brennan.

"They took Dr. Brennan and Agent Booth in for questioning about 20 minutes ago," Zach said, "I don't know if they're back yet."

"I'll just check," Angela said, pushing buttons. After five rings Brennan finally picked up. Her hair was a bit out of place and she had a giddy smile on her face.

"Hey sweetie," Angela said, "Just thought I'd let you know we made it back."

"Already?" Brennan asked, "You make great time. Are you going to let me know where you went?"

"Maybe someday," Angela mused, a smile on her face, "Do you want a face for this dead guy?"

"Please," Brennan said, "We think he's Latino, possibly a hit man for the gang Maramuerte."

"Bad guys killing bad guys? Do we have any suspects yet?" Angela saw the pain in Brennan's face as her smile disappeared.

"Yeah, one." Brennan lifted the photo of Michael Detringer for Angela to see.

"I'll get to work on that skull. When are they letting you out?"

"I have no idea, but no time soon."

"This is worse than that time we had to work Christmas. At least you were with us then and you could help us out." Brennan smiled in remembrance.

"Good thing for me, Booth is sane. I don't think I could handle the case and Booth being high on anti-fungal medication." The two girls laughed.

"Sorry to interrupt a good girl talk," Hodgins butted in, "But this insect and fungus combination is found only one place in the area. It's a section of the Potomac near Arlington. They say it's where the gangs bury their dead. This guy was there about a month before he was dug up and made the guest of honor at your luncheon."

"Great work, Hodgins!" Brennan enthused.

"Do we still need a face if this isn't a true murder case?" Angela asked.

"It will give you something to do while Hodgins gives us his take on the hand." Brennan said, not willing to let her team go so soon. A knock sounded at the door.

"Dr. Brennan, Agent Booth, It's Agent Hanson. I have a few questions for you."

"Brennan, Zach said you had already gone for questioning, what's going on?" Brennan just smiled mysteriously.

"Don't worry about it Angel, Bye"


Booth sat next to Brennan in the small interrogation room. Usually he was the one asking the questions and he found he did not enjoy the role reversal.

"Dr. Brennan, witnesses reported that you had a bit of a scuffle just before the lights went out. What was that about?"

"The man seated on my left was touching me inappropriately. We asked him to stop and when he didn't I felt the need to use force."

"What kind of force exactly?" the agent seemed too smug.

"I twisted his arm behind his back."

"And in order to do this you had to leave your seat?"

"Only the distance of two feet to kneel behind his chair."

"And at the moment the lights went out you were still holding his arm?"

"No, I had released him and was holding Agent Booth's hand."

"Agent Booth, what were you doing at the luncheon? You haven't written any published works have you?" Agent Hanson's smile seemed more like a sneer.

"I was present as Dr. Brennan's guest." Booth answered.

"Were you aware of the actions of the man to the left of Dr. Brennan?"

"She made them known to me, yes."

"And what was your response?"

"I asked him to take his hand off of her."

"Did you ask him more than once?"

"Yes, twice that I remember."

"Very well."

"May I be so bold as to ask what that was all about?" Brennan asked.

"I was merely establishing your position immediately prior to the crime. Now, Dr. Brennan, During the moment in which the room was dark where were you?"

"With Agent Booth. During the past few months there have been several attempts on my life so I stick close to him when I feel I may be in danger."

"Agent Booth, same question,"

"I was holding on to Dr. Brennan,"

"May I ask the nature of this partnership between yourself and Dr. Brennan, Agent Booth?"

"Dr. Brennan is an anthropologist with the Jeffersonian museum. She solves cases where the remains recovered are in terrible condition. We work together to discover the identities of both the victims and their assassins."

"You've been working together for how long?"

"Two years, almost three."

"Has a personal relationship grown from your working relationship?"

"I fail to see the relevance of that question!" Brennan exclaimed. Booth agreed that the question had nothing to do with the case at hand.

"Just answer the question, please," Agent Hanson insisted.

"I refuse to answer that question because it in no way pertains to the case at hand, which is one man's murder and the kidnapping of the President of the United States of America!" Brennan was irritated.

"Whoa, Bones, don't have to yell," Booth said. Brennan glared at him.

"Well?" The Agent asked.

"Unless you can show me how the two pertain to each other, I politely refuse to answer that question."

"Very well. Dr Brennan, upon seeing the skeleton you immediately started towards it, correct?"

"Yes, I figured that I would be the one called in to examine the body and the sooner I began, the better."

"Why did you believe you would be called?"

"The White House falls under federal jurisdiction and when a case such as that one presents in an area under federal jurisdiction I am the anthropologist most often called. In this case especially, with my lab at the Jeffersonian being closest to the crime scene it was certain I would be called."

"That will be all, thank you for your time Agent Booth, Dr. Brennan. I am truly interested in your work. Maybe we could meet sometime for coffee?"

"I don't think so." Brennan said.


"Ange, he makes me so mad! What kind of creep uses an interrogation session at a time like this to try and get a date? It's downright despicable!"

"Calm down, Brennan, happy thoughts," Angela insisted, "Like thoughts of the weekend, which I think we should all spend somewhere warm and cozy." Brennan glared.

"Here, this ought to make you happy," Angela said, pressing buttons on the computer. What appeared was a facial reconstruction of the gang member.

"I know him!" Brennan said, "I met him when we conducted that gang investigation!" Booth looked over her shoulder.

"It's Jorge Valdez, the leader of the D.C. chapter of Maramuerte," he stated, "that's the guy you beat up in front of the elevator in the Hoover building, Bones"

"So," Brennan said connecting dots, "I fight with Jorge, who then puts a hit out on me. My father gets wind of it, sends Michael to do his dirty work. The gang then finds the body and buries it. Why did it resurface now? Why this body?" The last questions were asked in desperation.

"It could be coincidence, Bones," Booth said, placing a hand on her shoulder.

"But what if it's not? Does their urge to keep me safe extend so far that they will remove the President?"

"Wait a minute," Angela interrupted, "Who's protecting whom?"

"Bones' dad feels like I'm not enough protection for his little girl so he and at least one of his criminal guy friends are keeping an eye on her."

"Not to mention Russ, who I haven't heard from in over a year." Brennan sulked.

"Actually I'd think it would be reassuring to know your dad loves you so much," Angela commented offhand.

"If he wasn't killing people I'd be a bit happier." There was another knock at the door.

"Agent Booth, Dr. Brennan," it was Agent Hanson, "They've lifted the lockdown. Your free to go." He held out his hands for their security cards, which they willingly handed over.

"Ange, we'll be there in 15 minutes. Until then, you're in control. Call me if you need to." Brennan shut off her computer and stored it in her bag. Booth stuffed all the papers in as well. Absentmindedly, he picked up her micro tape recorder and placed it in his pocket. He wrapped an arm around her waist and led her to the door.


The exit was packed with people, all trying either to get out, or to record those coming out. Booth tightened his grip on Brennan. They had reached the absolute center of the crowd when someone tried to push between them. Booth first tried ignoring the guy, but when he wouldn't go away, Booth turned to face him. In the split second that his hand loosened his grip on Brennan, she was pulled away from him. Booth reached, and their fingers touched, but he could not grasp her hand. He saw her struggle, but then a man whispered something in her ear and she stopped. Booth followed their path with his eyes as he pushed through the crowd. He saw Brennan get into a white sedan and heard the tires squealed as they pulled away. He found the nearest occupied car and commandeered it. His heart began beating harder and harder. His cell phone rang.

"Booth, what's going on?" It was Angela.

"Someone just kidnapped Bones," he panted.

"She called here," Angela said, "We can hear the conversation going on around her. Zach is triangulating the position of the signal now."

"I'm hot on their tails, but I think these guys have experience, They pulled her from my side. They're good."

The chase continued until the white car pulled into a residential area. Booth followed at a slightly too large distance and lost sight.

"I lost them, Angela, I lost them,"

"Where are you?" she asked.

"Corner of Sycamore and Hayes," Booth read.

"Hodgins says to go straight until you reach Bobcat and then take a left." Booth followed the instructions, and caught sight of the car again.

"Can you guys track me too?" Booth asked.

"Are you in your own car?" Hodgins asked.

"No, I'm in a red Honda Accord,"

"Sorry, no can do. Unless you have some sort of federal property, I can't guarantee an accurate GPS location." Booth thought for a moment.

"What about my cell phone? You're tracking Bones through her cell phone, so track me through mine."

"We're tracking Dr. Brennan through the GPS locator implanted in her phone. Yours doesn't have that." Booth felt in his pocket.

"This is going to sound strange, but what about Bones' tape recorder?"

"As property of the Jeffersonian the micro tape recorder would have a locator implanted, why?"

"Because I picked it up off the table and have it here with me," Booth said.

"Great, I'll start tracking you now."


Brennan sat in the back seat of the white sedan hoping that the others had gotten the message. An occasional glance in the rearview mirror gave the assurance that at least Booth knew where she was.

"Hey, kid," the driver called back to the man next to Brennan, "I think we're being followed."

"What do you mean?" Kid called back up, "I thought you said no one could follow you!"

"I may have been mistaken, kiddo. I'll shake him, don't worry." The car turned suddenly turned sharply to the left. The red Honda continued on its original path. Brennan's heart sank. Her left ear began to itch. She reached up to scratch it and her hand felt the earpiece from the communication system they had set up through the computers. Her pinkie finger flicked the volume dial.

"Sweetie, cough if you hear me." Brennan gave a small, throat clearing cough.

"Good," Angela's voice was so soothing, "I won't stay on long, because we don't want them to get suspicious. Don't worry, we got your phone call and it is all being recorded. Booth is still with you guys, he's just one block over. Hodgins and Zach are tracking the locator in your phone. We're going to get you out of this. " Brennan just barely suppressed her sigh of relief. She heard a click and knew that Angela had turned off the communication link.
The car finally stopped in front of a small, two-story brick house. The Kid took her elbow and pulled her from the car. The minute her feet touched solid ground she attacked. But her aggressors were expecting it, and quickly deflected her blows.

"Don't fight me Tempe," came the whisper at her ear, "We don't want anyone getting hurt."

"Then let me go!" she cried, fighting with every syllable. She was pulled into the house and then forced to sit in a chair in the dark living room. A figure appeared in the corner.

"Don't be afraid Temperance, I wouldn't hurt you, baby," Brennan recognized the voice of her father, "but there are bad guys out there who would."

"Dad, my partner is an sniper-trained FBI Agent," she answered, rising, "Thanks for the thought, but I'm safe," She moved to the door, but didn't get two steps before one of her captors forced her back into the chair.

"Booth had his chance, and if we hadn't stepped in, he would have failed miserably." There was something in the tone of his voice.

"Dad, Booth deserves more than just one chance. He's human, we're all human, and because we're human, we make mistakes."

"This mistake would have cost you your life, Temperance," he insisted.

"So now you've brought me here to tell me to be careful. I promise I will, so I am leaving now." Brennan rose, kissed her father on the cheek and headed for the door. The younger of the two captors caught her with a foot to the lower back. She fell to the ground, but rolled over, kicking him in the stomach when he came close. He stumbled, and Brennan felt his foot on her ankle. Pain radiated sharply. The elder of the captors stepped forward with duct tape.

"We're going beyond warning, Tab, we're not going to let you out of our sight."


"That sounds bad," Booth heard Zach's voice over his cell phone.

"What's bad?" he asked franticly.

"We've identified two of the three captors, but this third one seems like the wild card," Angela said.

"Who are the two we know?" Booth asked.

"Brennan called one of them, Dad. That means Max Keenan. The other one called her Tempe, and I've only ever heard Russ call her that."

"So Bones got kidnapped by her own family?"

"Apparently they are just keeping her safe, but yeah, looks like it."

"Why did he call her Tab?" Zach asked. Booth felt his head spin.

"Who called Bones what?"

"It's nothing to get excited over. We heard a scuffle and then the unknown captor said something and called Brennan Tab. I wonder what it means."

"It's from her initials," Booth said, "Temperance Allison Brennan."

"We're running the tape through a computer analysis of sounds, so far we've heard a few blows, but nothing serious- uh-oh,"

"I don't like uh-oh's Zach, not when we're talking about Bones."

"It's got to be the computer software picking up static, that could sound like this right?"

"I don't know, what do you think Ange?" Booth could almost picture Hodgins leaning over Zach's shoulder.

"Do you squints want to know what I think?" Booth nearly yelled, "I think you had better keep me in the loop!"

"Booth, the sound recognition program still has a few glitches, but it sounds like someone may have broken bone." Angela's voice was soothing, but also revealed that she was scared.

"That's not the whole story, is it?" Booth asked.

"The computer picked up a female gasping immediately after the bone broke."

"So, you think that they broke one of her bones?"

"It's highly unlikely that it was torture, the sound happened as part of a fight." Zach spoke up, "There were rapid footsteps followed by sounds of swift blows."

Booth hardly noticed the other car pull up next to him. The driver flashed a badge and Booth flashed his back. The driver of the other car motioned for Booth to follow him. Reluctantly, Booth turned the engine back on and followed.


Hodgins had called the FBI. Booth wasn't sure whether to kiss the man or smack him the next time they met. The taskforce team had set up three blocks from the house where Brennan was being held. They were getting the phone signal from the Jeffersonian and were in contact with Brennan's team. Booth walked into the control van.

"Director Coeburn," Booth said, taken aback at the sight of his far superior.

"You are?" the very voice grated on Booth's nerves.

"Special Agent Seeley Booth," Booth left off his connection to the case purposefully.

"Director," a young techie called frantically, "we've lost the signal from Dr. Brennan!" Both Booth and Director Coeburn rushed to the terminal.

"Command to Jeffers, what happened?" Booth recognized Hodgins' patronizing tone as he explained that they had no idea.

"How long do the batteries last on your phones?" Booth asked.

"Longer than it's been."

"That wasn't my question, Dr. Hodgins," Booth said, letting irritation seep into his voice.

"It's impossible to know for sure," Hodgins answered, "Is that you, Booth?"

Booth didn't answer. His phone began to ring. Taking it from his pocket he realized the number calling his belonged to Brennan. He wasn't sure what to do.

"I'm going to step outside to take this one," he said. He answered the call and was surprised to hear Brennan's voice.

"Seeley," she whispered, "I know you probably have figured out by now who has me, but I couldn't bear to let them hear what Russ told me. That's why I cut communication. I had to talk to you." Booth wasn't sure whether or not his wife could hear him, but he decided to speak anyway.

"It's alright, Temperance, no matter what they say, you need to have faith that God is with you and that I'll save you. This is not like what happened with The Gravedigger. I know where you are this time and I'm coming to get you."

"I know you are," she whispered back.

"I know which house you're in, but which room are you in right now?" Booth asked.

"They took me upstairs," she said.


In the trailer and at the Jeffersonian teams worked furiously to re-establish contact with Dr. Brennan.

"Zach, play back the last section of the tape," Angela asked. Zach did as he was asked.

"Booth will find me," Brennan's voice held confidence.

"I know you think that, but Dad has other plans," the man had been identified as Russ, "Tempe, why do you trust Booth so much?"

"Because he's proved over time in various situations that he is competent and he has my team working with him. If they can find me when I've been buried alive in Virginia they can find me here. "

"Tempe, this time we got you from right beside you, his arm was around your waist and we still managed. Aren't you even a little concerned he's not good enough?"

"It's not a question of good enough or strong enough, I trust him, and-" there was a bit of a rustling sound and then the transmission stopped.

"I trust him," Angela repeated, "Zach, what does the SRP say that last bit is?"

"Plastic crinkling combined with cloth rustling and finger tapping on something hard."

"Plastic, cloth and fingers," Angela mused, "What could that be?"

It was an FBI techie who finally said, "Maybe someone reaching into their pocket?"

Zach liked the idea. Angela considered it more.

"The volume of the sounds means it has to be the pocket holding the phone."

"Someone turned off the phone?" the techie suggested.

"That has to be it!" Angela exclaimed, "but the lack of resistance indicates that it was Dr. Brennan herself, and that doesn't make sense."

"It does if you know what I know," Zach muttered under his breath. Angela turned to him.

"What exactly do you know, Zach?" she asked. Zach immediately took on a deer-in-the-headlights look.

"I don't believe I have the right to disclose the information," he stuttered. Angela fixed him with a stare and then went back to pacing the floor. The computer began blinking and bleeping. Angela crossed over and answered the video phone. Dr. Camille Saroyan's face filled the screen.

"Cam!" Angela exclaimed, startled, "Why did you call?"

"News travels slow on the warfront, I hear we have a body from the White House."

"Yeah, Jorge Valdez, known leader of the Salvadorian gang Maramuerte. Murdered a month ago by Michael Detringer with a fire hydrant. Motive was most likely the hit he put out on Dr. Brennan," Zach rattled off the facts.

"Well," Cam said, "seems like you guys are doing just fine without me." She moved to sign off, but Angela stopped her.

"Not entirely," she said, "Brennan was kidnapped this afternoon. She had speed dialed us and we were recording the conversation around her, but she hung up the phone."

"Why would she do that?" Cam asked, concerned.

"Zach thinks he knows. She was talking with her brother about Booth when she hung up."

"Her brother?"

"Yes," Zach said. He proceeded to replay the conversation for Cam and explain what had happened so far.

"Where is Booth now?" Cam asked. Hodgins walked into the room at that point.

"I think he's with the Feds at the moment, trying to keep the fact that he's Brennan's partner a secret. I think I heard him say something about taking something outside. The techies said his phone was ringing.

"So Brennan called Booth," Angela said.

"Why are we jumping to conclusions?" Zach asked.

"Because it makes sense. The conversation was getting personal, Russ and Brennan were talking about Booth, so who does she call? Booth of course."

"Someone go find Booth." Cam ordered.


Hodgins drove through the sleepy neighborhood in his Italian sports car. He found the FBI base of operations fairly easily, but did not see Booth. An agent approached him.

"Sir, I have to ask you to move on," the agent said in a commanding voice.

"Look, I just need to find a friend of mine," Hodgins said, showing his identification from the Jeffersonian "Can you tell Agent Booth that Jack Hodgins is here to talk to him?"

"I'll see if I can find him," the agent said. As the man walked away, Hodgins thought he saw Booth casually walking around the corner. However, Hodgins stayed put. It took almost twenty minutes for the agent to return and say that no one knew where Booth was. Hodgins drove off in a huff.

Not willing to return to the Jeffersonian a defeated man, Hodgins turned the same corner he had seen Booth turn earlier and cruised down that street for a time, thinking. He replayed the last words of the tape over and over in his head. Suddenly an idea dawned. Hodgins picked up his cell phone and called Angela.

"She loves him," he blurted out without a hello.

"Say what?" Angela asked.

"Brennan is in love with Booth. The last thing she said was 'I trust him, and-' Now if I were a woman, trust and love would go hand in hand. Had she said simply 'I trust him' I wouldn't be saying this, but she said 'and'"

"You know that your idea is ridiculous, right?" Angela asked.

"Well, it was worth a shot."

"He might not be far wrong," Cam said.

"Brennan and Booth are completely bllind to the fact they love eachother, especially Bren." Angela protested.

"Why else would Booth have his arm around her waist?" Hodgins asked, replaying the conversation in his head, "Partners, the arm goes around the shoulder. An arm around the waist means a little something more."

"You are reading way into this, Hodgepodge," Angela insisted. But Hodgins noticed that both Cam and Zach had gone silent. He was on the right track and he knew it.

"So, play through the scenario if they are in love. She gets kidnapped and knows that he's right behind her. She speed dials us because she knows we've got the equipment to record the call. Stuff starts getting personal, she doesn't want us to hear the conversation so she speed dials Booth instead, or doesn't speed dial anyone."

"Plausible, but still pretty ridiculous," Angela said.

"And irrelevant if we don't have Booth," Cam interrupted.

"I can't find him," Hodgins admitted, "I thought I saw him walk off earlier, but I don't see him anywhere." Hodgins saw more and more people pass his car and realized that the FBI was going in.


Booth sat on the back patio of a retired widow's home, sipping lemonade and waiting for his phone to ring. Brennan had hung up the phone when Russ re-entered the room, promising to call again. Booth had then gotten in contact with the FBI task force leader and had been told to await the signal. Booth felt his phone vibrate.

"Excuse me, Mrs. Weller, do you mind if I use your back gate here?" he asked, "I have to go visit a friend and I don't really feel like walking around the block.

"Certainly, you know, we put that gate in back there when Jack and Janie were little. They had friends who lived over there, what were their names?" Booth didn't stick around to find out. He dashed across the yard and through the gate. The house was stout construction, but the wooden back door was old and in need of replacing. Booth slammed it open and dashed inside, gun at the ready. Three other agents followed him. The narrow hallway led to a set of stairs, exactly as Brennan had told him they did. Booth bounded up the stairs and caught Russ unaware. The older man jumped to his feet.

"Step aside, Russ," Booth ordered, pointing his gun at the man.

"I'm not going to let you take her!" Russ yelled, "You'll just get her killed!" Booth gave a halfhearted chuckle.

"More often than not I'm getting her out of trouble," he said, attempting humor, "She gets into it pretty well on her own."

Russ was not prepared to deal with humor. Booth took advantage of the moment he was distracted to hit him, hard. Russ crumpled to the floor. Booth left him for the other agents to deal with and barged into the bedroom Russ had been guarding.

Brennan sat, her hands and feet bound, on the large bed. Her blue eyes pooled with tears of relief when she saw Booth. She called his name and he ran to her side. Booth wrapped Brennan in his arms and she melted into tears. They sat there, clinging to each other, until the other agents entered the room. Then Booth freed Brennan, lifted her from the bed and carried her down the stairs. For once she didn't protest his chivalry, probably because of her ankle, which was already swollen to three times its normal size. He carried her down the stairs where the rest of the task force waited for the paramedics. The agents had formed a circle around a second hostage. This one was unconscious, bound and gagged. He was also missing his left hand. Booth tried to see the man's face but he couldn't make it out.

"The victim of the mutilation?" Brennan asked, turning to look.

"I think so," Booth said. Director Coeburn stepped in through the doorway.

"Agent Booth!" he called. Booth turned to face the man as he approached.

"Is this Dr. Brennan?" Coeburn asked.

"Yes," Brennan answered for him, "Nice to meet you."

"It is I who am honored to meet you," Coeburn said, "Thank you for all your help. Your country thanks you."

"My country?" Brennan asked, "Director Coeburn, what are you saying?"

Coeburn motioned to the second hostage.

"I believe you've already met the President." He shoved some of the agents aside, giving Booth and Brennan a view of the unconscious man's face. Both felt their breath catch. The man had been beaten, his eyes were swollen shut and the hair on the top of his head was matted with blood. Brennan couldn't stand the thought that her family had done this, but she refused to allow herself to cry. Instead her eyes became stoically cold, and her body rigid. Booth sensed the change in her and gave her a gentle hug.

"Can we just go?" she whispered.

"Sure thing, Bones," he whispered back.

"If you don't mind, Dr. Brennan, we have a few questions for you." The director stepped back into their field of vision.

"She needs immediate medical attention," Booth countered, "I'll debrief her while she gets that ankle looked at." The director seemed reluctant to allow that, but relented.

Booth walked out the front door with Brennan in his arms and was immediately set upon by the media. Brennan turned and buried her face in his shoulder. Booth lowered his head and walked through the crowd, whispering sweet nothings in Brennan's ear to make her smile. They made it to the car and drove away.


"You have all the fancy machines and stuff to have that fixed at the lab, right?" Booth asked of his wife's ankle.

"Theoretically yes," she answered.

"I think we should skip the hospital, it's going to be crawling with media." Brennan agreed it would be a good idea, and she called ahead to alert the team she was coming.

They arrived in good time and Booth parked the car. He walked around, opened Brennan's door, and moved to lift her in his arms again. She flatly refused to be carried, insisting she could hobble along using him as a crutch. She had barely made it 100 feet before Booth scooped her into his arms.

"You'll have plenty of time on crutches," he insisted, "Please allow me this little moment to hold you,"

Immediately upon entering the Smithsonian, they were set upon. First the security guards, then some of the other scientists, then finally they were rescued by Angela. She walked with them to the lab, where Zach had the x-ray machine set up. Fifteen minutes later the team had identified the break and found an MD to set the ankle. Brennan held tight to Booth's hand as the doctor appreciated the break.

"I would recommend painkillers for this part," he said. Booth fixed Brennan with a look, but she stared back at him and won out. The doctor shrugged his shoulders and twisted the foot. It was all Brennan could do to keep from screaming, the pain was so intense. Booth was very gentle, rubbing his hand across her forehead. The doctor then proceeded to wrap Brennan's foot in a cast.

"That should stay on for at least a month, probably longer," he said as he left, "And let me be the one to decide when it comes off this time, Dr. Brennan," he added as a parting comment.

"We can postpone that barbecue we're planning," Booth offered. The housewarming party was set for that night.

"No, we can't do that, Parker's looking forward to it," Brennan said, "And so are you." Booth couldn't deny that this was the highlight of his month.

"See? Don't worry, I'll be just fine." Brennan curled her fingers around Booth's. He lowered his head until his forehead rested on hers. He stared her in the eyes.

"You cannot tell me that this didn't scare you," he whispered gently. Brennan blinked.

"I was terrified," she finally admitted, reaching her arms around him.

"So was I, Bones, so was I," he whispered.

Movement in the doorway caught Booth's attention. He looked up to see the whole team gathered just outside of the room. He pulled back a little bit, and Brennan turned to look into his eyes. He glanced back at the team and she turned.

"Can we come in?" Angela asked. Brennan nodded and tried to wipe the tears from her eyes. Angela sat down in the chair across from Booth and grabbed Brennan's other hand.

"Sweetie, let yourself cry. This was a hard day for all of us, especially you." Tears were streaming down Angela's face which she didn't try to hide. Hodgins stood behind her and placed a hand on her shoulder. Zach kind of hovered, not at all comfortable with the level of emotion in the room.

"Let Booth take you home," Angela continued, "get some sleep, and we might come over for that barbecue you e-mailed us about." Zach handed over the crutches he had brought and Booth helped Brennan to her feet.


Parker arrived at the little house in the suburbs about twenty minutes after Booth and Brennan did. He came bounding into the house, but his mother Rebecca just stood on the porch.

"Where will you be?" Booth asked, "Not that its any of my business, but I mean, if something happens," Rebecca just smiled.

"Guy and I are headed out to dinner. We should be back around ten. Bye, Parker!" she called and left.

"Alright! Who wants to play some catch?" Booth asked. Parker ran out to the backyard. Sometime later, Booth glanced up at the master bedroom window and saw Brennan watching them. He smiled up at her and waved, which caused him to miss the ball. The projectile hit him on the shoulder. He saw Brennan laugh, and then turn away from the window. A few minutes later she walked out the back door.

"Hi, Temperance!" Parker called, "Do you want to play?"

"Maybe another time," she called back.

"Daddy, I'm going to go sit with Temperance now, okay? I don't want her to feel left out," the five year-old declared sweetly.

"Okay, bud," Booth said, "I think I'll fire up the grill."

Brennan and Parker went inside to make salad. Brennan was still very awkward talking to the boy, but Parker took it in stride, talking for the two of them. It was about seven o'clock when the doorbell rang. Brennan started to stand, but Parker sprang up and ran to the door first. He stood on tiptoe to see the electronic peephole Booth had installed, then pulled open the door.

"Well, hello there, Agent Booth. I think you've shrunk just a bit." Parker laughed at Dr. Wyatt's joke.

"I'm not Agent Booth, I'm Parker."

"Parker?" Dr. Wyatt, "I seem to have forgotten… Ah, yes, you must be Agent Booth's brother." This sent Parker reeling.

"No, I'm his son!" the boy laughed.

"Really? You look far too grown up to be his son. You must be fifteen at least!"

"No, I'm five," Parker answered. By this time Booth had joined the group.

"Glad you could make it, Doc," he said, extending his hand, "I've got some hot dogs and hamburgers for you to practice on." The men headed out to the back porch, with Parker following like a puppy.

Brennan sat back down at the kitchen table and picked up the knife to cut into the peppers. Halfway through the first pepper her eyes became too heavy to keep them open, so she set the knife down for a moment, laid her head down and fell soundly asleep.

A half hour later the doorbell rang again. Parker's young ears heard it first and he dashed to the door. Booth started to go in, but stopped to wake Brennan. She lifted her head and stared up at him with such a dazed expression that he had to smile. He would have kissed her, but Hodgins, Angela, Cam and Zach walked in at just that moment.

"Hey," Brennan said, grabbing the crutches to stand. Angela stepped forward and hugged Brennan, then Cam did the same thing.

"You are just in time for dinner," Booth said, "Come outside and we'll eat on the back porch."

"It must be nice to have Booth take over all of this," Angela whispered to Brennan. Her only response was a smile.

Introductions were made and everyone sat down to eat. The meal was lively, the conversation upbeat. No one talked about the day, everyone just enjoyed being together. When darkness fell, the group moved inside to watch a movie. Parker was in charge of selection, so they ended up with the newest Disney flick. Dr. Wyatt settled onto an dining room chair, Zach and Cam chose the two armchairs. Hodgins and Angela snuggled on the floor and Booth sat on the couch, Parker on his lap and Brennan stretched out, resting her head on his shoulder. Within minutes of the movie starting, all the adults, except Dr. Wyatt crashed. No one woke when the movie finished, until Parker shook his father awake.

"Look, Daddy, it's you and Temperance on TV!" Booth jolted himself awake and his sudden movement woke Brennan. Sure enough, a news channel was playing video of the afternoon's rescue, complete with footage of Booth carrying Brennan from the house. His head obscured her face, leading to speculation by the media as to her identity, but no official confirmation. Booth reached for the volume control.

"Once again, what you are seeing is video of the kidnappers second victim, who has yet to be identified. The FBI has issued a statement which confirms earlier speculation that it was the taking of this second victim which led police to the suspects and to the President. The FBI refused however to comment on the victim's identity and condition, only saying she was conscious and made her own medical decisions. Our experts say that this suggests that she was not badly injured, if at all."

Booth picked up the remote and began flipping through channels all of them showed the same footage of the rescue. Brennan scooted closer to Booth, fear flashing in her bright blue eyes. Cam was the next to wake, followed by Zach and then eventually Hodgins stirred. He took one look at the time and jumped, waking Angela.

"What's up Hodgie?" Angela asked.

"It's already ten-thirty!" Booth checked his watch to make sure Hodgins wasn't crazy. Sure enough the hands declared that Rebecca was half an hour late.

"We need to go," Angela said, "My dad is flying in at 11 this evening! Bye, Thanks Bren for the dinner!" Zach and Cam left not long after Angela and Jack flew out the door. Dr. Wyatt made his dignified exit at about 10:45.

"Well," Booth said, "I have some calls I should make, the guest bedroom isn't put together yet, and Parker looks like he's about to crash."

"I am not," insisted the five year-old, his eyes telling a different story.

"I'm going to bed," Brennan declared, struggling to her feet. "Why doesn't Parker come keep me company?" Everyone agreed on the plan and soon Brennan and Parker were sleeping soundly.


Booth paced in his home office, trying to get a hold of Coeburn and Rebecca. The director of the FBI was out of his office and Rebecca wouldn't pick up her phone. It was midnight when Booth gave up trying to reach either of them and just headed up to bed.

When he reached the bedroom doorway Booth stopped and took in the sight before him. Brennan lay on her back with her foot propped up on a large pillow. Parker was curled into a small ball and resting his head on Brennan's shoulder. Booth changed into his pajamas and crawled in next to Parker. The movement woke Brennan who looked over and smiled at him.

"What time is it?" she asked.

"After midnight," Booth whispered back. He gently moved Parker over and settled in next to Brennan.

"I'm worried about Becca, Bones," Booth admitted, "She's always been responsible in things like this. Parker has been her number one priority from the moment he was born. She wouldn't put some guy before him. My gut says something happened to her tonight." Brennan just listened and stroked his hair.

"Your gut, huh?" she asked after a moment, "You don't think that your reaction could have anything to do with everything that has happened today?" Booth managed a weak smile and an admission that she could be right.

"Try to get some sleep," Brennan whispered, kissing his forehead. Booth closed his eyes, wrapped his arms around Brennan and drifted off to sleep.


Booth was awakened by the insistent ringing of the doorbell. He groaned and rolled over, almost crushing Parker before he caught himself. Brennan woke as well, but somehow Parker managed to sleep through it all.

"What time is it?" Brennan grumbled.

"It's four in the morning," Booth replied, "This had better be important."

"Do you want me to come?" Brennan asked.

"No, Bones, you just try to sleep," Booth kissed her, rose, grabbed his robe and descended the stairs.

"Alright, alright, I'm coming," he called to whatever irresponsible person was still ringing the doorbell. He flung the door open.

"What do you want?" Booth yelled.

The man on the porch didn't hardly seem phased by him.

"I'm Guy Freeman, Rebecca's boyfriend. I'm here, that is, we're here to pick up Parker."

"Where's Becca?" Booth asked, very suspicious.

"She passed out at the bar; she's in the car."

"You know what?" Booth asked, getting cynical, "I'll bring Parker by in the morning. I want to talk to Becca about a couple things." Booth shut the door, but Guy just rang the doorbell again.

"Cut it out!" Booth yelled, pulling the door open again.

"Becca wants Parker to come home tonight."
"Gee," Booth snapped, grabbing Guy around the neck and slamming him against the wall. "She probably should have thought of that before she stayed out to all hours of the night without calling me." He threw Guy off of the porch. "I will be bringing Parker back tomorrow morning." Booth waited until Guy had staggered to his car and driven away before shutting the door and leaning against the doorframe.

"Who was it?" Brennan's voice behind him caused Booth to jump.

"Becca's boyfriend," he spat out, the look on her face made him regret his tone immediately.

"He came for Parker at this hour?" she asked, hobbling over to him.

"Yeah, and he wasn't planning to leave without him." Booth thought for a moment. "That felt really weird, Bones." She gave him a look.

"We'll talk more about it in the morning," she said, "For tonight, come get some sleep. We had a really long day." Booth kissed Brennan on the fore head.

"You're so right, Bones," he agreed, sweeping her into his arms.


Booth woke up the next morning with Brennan's head on his shoulder and Parker nearly on top of him. Sunlight streamed in through the window and the clock read 9:30. Booth reached his arm up and stroked his wife's auburn hair. She opened her beautiful blue eyes and smiled sleepily up at him.

"Morning sleepyhead," Booth whispered, "How is America's hidden heroine feeling this morning?"

"Sore," Brennan groaned, "And lazy" she rested her head back against his shoulder.

Booth laughed and kissed the top of her head. Their quiet conversation woke Parker, who jumped out of bed in an instant. Both adults laughed at his antics. Brennan yawned and Booth rolled out of bed.

"Come on, Bub," he said to Parker, "Let's go make some breakfast and let Temperance sleep a little longer." Booth leaned over and kissed Brennan soundly on the lips.

Breakfast was chocolate chip pancakes and scrambled eggs. Parker cracked the eggs, and despite Booth's best efforts there were some crunchy bits left.


It was nearly eleven by the time Booth pulled up in front of Rebecca's house with Parker in the back seat. Booth grabbed hold of Parker's hand and led him up to the door.

Guy was the one who answered the door. He reached a hand out to Parker, who shrank back uncharacteristically against Booth's leg.

"I want to talk to Rebecca." Booth insisted.

"She's at work right now," Guy said.

"Well then, I'll just drop Parker off at day care and talk to her at her office."

"Fine with me," Guy said. Parker tugged at Booth's sleeve.

"I need my backpack for daycare, Daddy," he said.

"Let's go get it then, Bub," Booth said, stepping into the house.

"It's in my bedroom," Parker said, leading Booth to the back of the house. When they opened the door Booth's breath caught. The room was stripped of all the boy's things, and a large suitcase sat in the middle of the room.

"Were you leaving?" Booth asked. But Parker shook his head and tears were pooling in his eyes.

"Where's my binkie?" he cried, "Where's Teddy and NuNu?" Parker began to sob. Booth knelt down to comfort the boy.

"I'm sure there here somewhere, Bub." he whispered, all the time fuming at Rebecca for doing this to him and to Parker. As Booth knelt there cradling Parker he made a decision. He stood, grabbed the suitcase and lifted Parker into his free arm. Booth strode purposefully out the front door, ignoring Guy's protesting, and drove away.

"Where are we going?" Parker asked.

"I thought you'd like to come and see where Daddy works with Temperance."

"I want Teddy!" Parker cried.

"We'll find him, Bub. Just hang in there for a little bit, until we get to the office." Parker stuck his thumb into his mouth and sucked on it for the rest of the journey. As soon as they arrived Booth threw open the suitcase and dug around. Luckily he was found Parker's ratty blue teddy bear, his baby blanket and the elephant Brennan had bought Parker after their wedding.

"Here you go, Bubba," Booth said, handing Parker the bear. He showed him that his other friends were alright as well, then took Parker in his arms. The little boy was sleepy and upset, and therefore acting much too young for his age.

"Daddy?" the boy asked, his voice small and scared, "Is Mommy ok?" Booth cringed at the thought of trying to answer that.

"Mommy's strong, I'm sure she's fine," he said.


The doors opening and closing didn't usually distract Brennan, but today she couldn't seem to concentrate on anything. As a result she saw the moment Booth entered with Parker on his shoulder. The sight was so unexpected that Brennan felt her breath catch in her throat. She stood a little too quickly and bumped her knee on the table. She grabbed the crutches and hurried down the stairs.

"Booth, what happened?" she asked. Booth's only response was that they should take it into her office. She led the way, and held the door for him.

"They were going to take him away," Booth began. He then related the rest of the story and finished by saying, "It just doesn't feel right, Bones." Brennan wrapped an arm around his broad shoulders, somehow instinctively knowing that what he needed was just for her to be there for him, just as so often she needed just to know he was there.

"Do you want me to keep an eye on Parker so you can find Becca?" she asked softly. Booth nodded and shifted Parker to her lap.

"How would you like to be my assistant for the day?" she asked him after his father left the room. Parker looked up at her, confused.

"It takes me a longtime to do anything now that I have to use my hands on these crutches," she continued, "You could be a big help if you would help me out." Parker put his thumb back into his mouth as he considered.

"So," Brennan finished, holding out her hand, "What do you say? Partners?" Parker removed the finger from his mouth and placed his wet hand in hers.

"Good. Now, lets get you all the stuff you'll need." She lifted Parker to the floor then gathered her crutches. She took him down the hall to the security office.

"Mr. Keith, I would like you to meet my assistant for today, Parker Booth. Parker will need an access key and an ID card as he will be helping me out today." The heavyset man looked down at Parker and smiled.

"Certainly, Dr. Brennan. Come with me young man, we need a picture and a signature." Parker reluctantly followed the man, glancing back every two seconds to make sure Brennan was still there.


Thirty minutes later, ID and access key in hand, Parker strode onto the platform, proud as could be. Brennan smiled at the small lab coat hanging on one of the chairs. She thought she remembered Dr. Goodman having them made for his daughters a few years ago. Parker was over the moon. He fetched papers for her and gave orders. The rest of the team took to calling him Dr. Booth, which really tickled him. Brennan sat for a moment and noticed the tattered blue teddy bear had been set on top of a computer and left there. The whimsical animal gave the lab a distinctly human touch.

"Bones! We have a case!" Booth made his entrance at that moment, striding up the stairs onto the platform. He looked around.

"Where's Parker?" he asked. As soon as he did they heard the sound of another card being swiped.

"Here you go, Temperance," Parker chimed, "Dr. Hodgins let me make the copies myself!" Booth looked down at his son in amazement.

"Bones, you've turned my son into a squint!" Booth exclaimed.

"Booth, you said something about a case?" Brennan said, changing the subject.

"Yeah, down on the forest preserve, it looks like bears got it." Booth was still staring down at Parker. "Where did you find a lab coat that small?" he asked.

"Dr. Goodman had a few of them made a year or so ago. Let's go!" she was the one pulling Booth out this time, calling over her shoulder to Angela, asking him to find something for Parker to do while they were gone.

The drive over was frustrating, as all Booth wanted to talk about was Parker. He was joking for the most part, trying to keep his mind off of things like Rebecca.

They reached the crime scene and Brennan began her preliminary investigation.

"Female, early to mid twenties, about 5' 4" No immediately apparent cause of death."

"So, let's ship this thing back to the Jeffersonian," Booth said, pulling out his cell phone. He glanced at it, then slipped it back into his pocket.

"Still no word from Becca?" Brennan asked. Booth shook his head.

"Judging by the discoloration of these bones I'd say they've been buried somewhere for quite some time. I doubt there would be enough meat left to attract any kind of creature."

"So what got it?" Booth asked, a little on edge.

"We'll have to do a bunch more tests to find out." Brennan saw Booth take the phone from his pocket again and she sighed. Removing her latex gloves, she reached up a hand asking him to help her from her position seated on a low stool next to the body. Booth acquiesced and was in the process of handing Brennan her crutches when she kissed him. The sudden shift from work mode almost knocked Booth off his feet.

"You need to stop worrying," Brennan whispered as she pulled back. I'm sure Becca is fine and there is a logical explanation for all of this. Now, can we do our jobs?" Booth nodded distractedly, his charm smile firmly in place.

"Sure, Bones, we can do that,"


The team worked for hours trying to match Angela's facial reconstruction to people from the missing person's database but came up with squat.

"Try DMV photos," Booth suggested. Angela glared at him.

"We would," Brennan spoke up, "but we don't know what area too start looking from."

"Then start looking now. She was killed somewhere where the soil contains high levels of sulfer, carbon and…" Parker's voice trailed off and he looked back to Hodgins for help.

"Nitrogen," Hodgins whispered. Parker nodded.

"Translation?" Angela said, impatient.

"Try Virginia."

Sure enough, Hannah Moore of Coal Ridge, Virginia was a perfect match for their Jane Doe.

"Age 23, a single mother with one daughter, River, age 3," Booth read off the printout they had obtained from the FBI.

"How does someone like that go missing for a year and no one reports it?" Angela asked, "I mean, she had to have had friends, family."

"Only child of only children, her parents are both dead. So no family. River's father however, we should probably go see him. Come on, Bones," Booth ordered, helping her to her feet.

"Can I come too, Daddy?" Parker asked. Booth looked down at his son, dressed like a squint and thought for a split second.

"Sure, Bub," he said, "but you need to listen to what I say and sit very still, 'kay." Parker nodded earnestly. Booth helped him out of his lab coat and the family walked to the car.


Eliot Jacobs lived in a nice two bedroom house on Coal Ridge's Main Street. Booth, Brennan and Parker sat on a large sofa in the front living room.

"What is this all about, Agent Booth?" Eliot asked, a little nervous, but not exceedingly so. Booth slid the photo of Hannah across the table.

"Do you recognize this woman?" Booth asked. Eliot took the picture, looked down at it, then back up at Booth.

"That's my ex, Hannah. She's my little girl's mom. Why?"

"She's dead, Mr. Jacobs," Booth said. Tears sprang to Eliot's eyes.

"And River? What about my little girl?" he asked.

"We have no way of knowing." Booth said, "Mr. Jacobs, Miss Moore has been dead over a year, yet no one reported her missing. Why didn't you?"

"I thought she had run of with her boyfriend. I thought they had moved. I didn't even dream-" At this point the grief became too much and Eliot buried his head in his hands.

"Can you tell us the last time you saw Hannah alive?" Brennan asked gently.

"Yeah, she came to pick up River after a date with her boyfriend, Beau. I tried to call her the next morning because River had left her favorite stuffed animal, but got the answering machine. I never saw either of them again."

"Would you be able to provide us with a description of the boyfriend?" Eliot considered for a moment then shook his head.

"I only saw him once. And he was one of many boyfriends that she had. Sorry."

"Did she have any friends, co-workers who might be able to help?" Booth asked.

"Ask Susan Harper and Jennifer Grey, they worked with her at the flower shop."


Neither of the others remembered much about that particular boyfriend. Apparently Eliot hadn't been lying when he said Hannah had seen a lot of men. Susan and Jennifer provided them a list of about thirty from the two years between River's birth and the pair's disappearance. Previous to that though, her friends said she had maybe had three boyfriends, all major commitment relationships, the last of which was Eliot.

Despite her apparent lack of commitment to her romantic relationships, all three witnesses claimed that River was the most important thing in Hannah's life. She had rearranged her life for the girl, including working overtime to have Christmas and birthdays free. Hannah and Eliot were apparently on good terms; he had River every other weekends and was allowed to be present at all her major events.


"I don't like Eliot's theory," Booth said, striding into the lab the next morning, Parker close at his heels. Brennan looked up from the table where she was examining the victim.

"So, you have a better one?" she asked. Booth shrugged.

"Do I need one?" he asked.

"Well, logically, to dismiss a theory means that another, more credible theory has be formulated to replace it." Booth smiled at her.

"I was thinking we could head to your office and formulate a few theories," he said, "You know, bounce ideas off each other." She smiled up at him.

"Sure," Brennan shrugged her shoulders and scribbled a note to Angela. "Hey Parker," she said, calling him over, "Can you take this to Angela for me?" Parker nodded solemnly, but with a sparkle in his eye. He skipped off happily toward Angela's office. Booth helped Brennan stand and then walked with her to the office.

"So, if Hannah and River didn't run away with Beau then what happened?" Brennan asked.

"I don't know, but I feel like something is wrong," Booth insisted. "I feel it in my gut that there is more to this." Booth's phone rang. Brennan mulled over what he had just said.

"Bones, come on," Booth said, "We've got another victim."


This one had shown up not far from the first victim in the park.

"Why were they digging?" Brennan asked. Booth hesitated.

"They were looking for River," he admitted. Brennan nodded silently and continued her investigation.

"Female, early twenties, damage to the ribs, could indicate being stabbed. She is also a mother, signs that the birth was up to five years before her death."

"So we may have a serial killer on our hands," Booth said.

"It could be coincidence," Brennan insisted, but not very convincingly. She and Booth locked eyes for a moment and he began to lean over for a kiss, but they were interrupted by a voice calling out.

"We've got another one!"

"Still think this is just coincidence, Bones?"