The Three of Us

This story has also been called, The Prodigal Son.

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Chapter 1
(This story is set six years into the future.)

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Seeley Booth woke up in a cold sweat. He reached over to find that the right side of his bed was empty. He rose to his feet and found Bones in the nursery. Booth never felt so weak and helpless in his entire life. There was simply nothing he could do, but watch from the door frame at a distance. He knew that all of his usual ways of comforting Temperance would be useless. Wrapping a warm arm around her shoulder would be purposeless. No kiss could replace Samuel. No hug could give her comfort. No words would reassure her that their son would return alive. He never felt so powerless as in those moments. He watched in silence, his heart torn from his chest, tears running from his eyes and slipping down his face to the floor, as Temperance quietly sobbed in the moonlight.

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Flashback.

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Dr. Temperance Brennan slid her card through the scanner and walked slowly onto the podium of the Jeffersonian's Medical Legal Lab. Her eyes quickly lay on the decomposing body of a toddler, not much older than her own son.

Angela looked up and saw Brennan's face. It was that same face she had seen on several cases since Samuel was born. It was much harder for Temperance to separate herself from her cases since she became a mother. Things change. Her ideals changed, her ideas of what heaven and earth were all about morphed, her models of love and faith were molded. Her life had changed. It wasn't the same life she possessed six years ago.

"Are you OK, Sweetie?" Angela broke Temperance from her reverie. Dr. Brennan gasped and took a deep breath in.

"Angela, I didn't see you sitting there."

Angela's face reflected a quiet sadness. "It's another body. I'm no expert, but I think it's part of the kidnapping cases."

"Let's not jump to conclusions, Angela."

"What do we have here?" Cam asked.

"Good morning, Dr. Saroyan. This is the body of a toddler, less than two years of age. I can't tell for sure without examining the sutures on the cranium, but I'd say eighteen to twenty-one months of age. Male."

Cam laid a gentle hand on Brennan's shoulder. "You can sit this case out, Dr. Brennan. I can have Jorge take over for you."

"No offense to Dr. Santiago, but I have at least fifteen years on him in Forensic Anthropology experience. If you're insinuating that I cannot compartmentalize, then you're wrong," she replied coldly.

"Dr. Brennan, I have full faith in your abilities. If you think you can compartmentalize, then I believe you."

"Thank you." Temperance cleared her throat and continued to examine the body. "These bones will need to be cleaned before I can continue." Brennan pulled her blue gloves from her hands. She shoved them into her pockets as she escaped to the haven of her office.

Behind closed doors, shades drawn, where nobody could see her weakness, she let her feelings envelop her. She cried softly. That could have been her son. Somewhere out there a mother and a father did not have their son that night. Somewhere out there they were anguishing over the loss of their son, praying for his safe return, hoping that they would be free of that pain.

A soft knock at the door forced Dr. Brennan to wipe her tears on her face and compose herself. She lifted her face to see the face of someone she had grown to love and call her best friend. "Bones?" He asked. "Ange called this morning. I thought you might need a shoulder to lean on."

Brennan stood and ran into the arms of her partner and boyfriend. She nuzzled her head against his chest, letting him wrap his strong arms around her. Booth let her be weak. That's why she loved him so much. Booth let her be human. That's why she knew her old theory on love was painfully incorrect and debunked.

She let him hold her, rubbing her shoulder and back as he held her in silence. After the first several bodies of kidnapped toddlers came to the Jeffersonian, Booth could see that it was bothering Bones. He noticed how she became more agitated during their investigations, how she called Samuel's daycare every hour to check on their son, how she often needed times like this where he just held her in silence... But he noticed more and more how she held their son at night, cuddling him until he fell asleep, holding him as long as she possibly could before returning to their bedroom and falling beside him.