I feel the need to put an apology at the start of this story. When I first wrote it, I used a row of Xs to seperate sections. One day out of the blue FF took exception to that method and some of the seperators disappeared overnight.

I will go through and reseperate using a different method as soon as I have time but until then it remains as it is. I apologise for the delay but it is a big job and will take a while.

Hope it doesn't ruin your enjoyment.



''It's a child. Male aged between ten and twelve.'' Bones climbed from the hole using Booth's offered hand.

''Cause of death?'' Booth asked with a defeated sigh. There goes his weekend with Parker plus he hated dead kids. Always hated finding dead kids, there was never anything you could say to make any sense of it. It went one of two ways, either it was a child no-one wanted or one that had been snatched from a family that would now be mourning, their happy ending extinguished with one brief sentence spoken by an FBI agent, him.

''Well he has several fractures and Cam will confirm it from the remaining flesh but he appears to have been beaten, quite severely.'' Bone used her clinical voice and Booth took her lead. It was never great dealing with children but a healthy amount of detachment helped. Booth had already spoken to the dog walker who found the body and it was no help as always.

''We need an ID.'' Booth looked around the deserted farm land.

''Well there's enough clothing present to help with that.'' Bones commented, she shivered involuntarily. It was a bleak, cold scene and not a place for anyone to end their lives, let alone an innocent child.

''We should get out of here, let the guys clear the site. Same as always, everything to the Jeffersonian.'' Booth spoke to the agent nearby who nodded, there were no protests these days, they knew the score.

They walked to the car, Bones wrapped her arms around herself for some warmth.

''Bones, why aren't you wearing a coat?'' Booth asked irritably. Bones rankled, she wasn't a child.

''I can't move freely. I'm fine, it's just a little cold.'' Bones snapped back and Booth rolled his eyes.

''Its not a little cold, its freezing out here. Next time, wear a goddamn coat.'' Booth shook his head, she was so argumentative about even the most simple things sometimes.

''Booth, I am not a child. I will wear a coat when I want to okay?'' Bones buckled up and glanced at her partner who set his jaw the way he always did when a case got to him.

''I was just saying Bones, you don't want to get sick do you?'' Booth pulled away along the muddy track.

''Actually getting cold does not make you ill, viruses do that and I will only get sick if I have been in contact with one of those. I will get sick then whether I wear a coat or not. Although there is some evidence but it is mainly anecdotal that the cold can suppress the immune system but it's far from proven.'' Bones rattled on and Booth gave her his best irritated glare.

''What? It's true, you seem to believe there's a connection and I am just telling you the facts.'' Bones sniffed haughtily.

''Bones, are you talking to make a sound or is there a point to this?'' Booth turned the car onto the road.

''Yes, of course there is. I don't need to wear a coat if I don't want to is the point.'' Bones sniffed and Booth rolled his eyes.

''Bones, just wear a coat when it's cold.'' Booth sounded defeated and stated the obvious, hoping to end the conversation. Bones shrugged and stared moodily out the car window.

''Are you sulking?'' Booth laughed.

''No, of course not. That would be childish.'' Bones replied without looking at him.

''That's right Bones, it would.'' Booth stared out of the window moodily, he'd been going to the hockey as well. His weekend was going to suck now.


''So what do we have?'' Bones gloved up as she walked over to the gurney.

''Fractures on…'' Zach began to relay them and it was a long list.

''Plus some healed fractures here and here. This child has had many injuries in the past.'' Zach said in his own detached way.

''So he either fell a lot or we're looking at abuse.'' Booth commented wearily, this just got better and better.

''There's a name in this hoodie and you're not gonna like it.'' Hodgins appeared holding the item in his hand. They were still waiting for an ID so this was a break. Angela was working on her sketch in the office.

''Elliot Mack.'' Hodgins said clearly and Booth groaned.

''No! Goddamn it, No!'' Booth smacked the wall in frustration.

''It can't be.'' Cam was obviously clued up as well.

''What?'' Bones didn't understand.

''You knew him didn't you?'' Cam looked at Booth who was blew out a sigh.

''His dad is an old army buddy of mine. Shit and I thought this case couldn't get worse.'' Booth was obviously quite distraught.

''You knew this boy? Was he abused?'' Bones asked matter of factly.

''Now there by hangs a question doesn't it?'' Hodgins whistled and Booth glared at him.

''Don't blame me. The facts are the facts.'' Hodgins protested but walked around the other side of the gurney just in case.

''We need to get the press officer down here as soon as.'' Cam called to an assistant who nodded.

''What? Will someone please tell me what's going on?'' Bones looked at Booth who tutted in frustration.

''Do you ever read a newspaper or watch the TV news Bones?'' He snapped.

''No, I read medical journals. What? I need to keep abreast of new developments. I don't watch TV news because its all politically motivated. You can't believe what you see.'' Bones was clueless.

''Ain't that the truth?'' Booth said caustically.

''So you're saying it wasn't the father. Look at the evidence dude, kid's had more broken bones than a hockey player.'' Hodgins reacted to Booth's comment and the two men locked eyes.

'' Don't call me dude, I am not your dude. Elliot Mack was not abused, I would stake my career on it.'' Booth stated between gritted teeth.

''The dad admitted it on national TV dude.'' Hodgins laughed.

''No, he didn't. He said he swatted the kid's butt a couple of times. That is not abuse.'' Booth defended his friend.

''If he admitted hitting the child Booth,'' Bones argued reasonably.

''See?'' Hodgins gestured towards Bones.

'' I would lay my professional integrity on it. I have known Andy Mack for nearly twenty years, I served with him and trusted him with my life. There is no way, no goddamn way he would abuse his son let alone kill him,'' Booth was adamant and the room fell into silence.

''Well if that's what Booth believes then I'm going with him. I trust his opinion,'' Bones said stiffly. Booth nodded and smiled.

''Thank you Bones,'' Booth looked around daring anyone to object.

'' Uuum I have work to do. I..'' Hodgins pointed to the other side of the lab and scuttled away.

''Yeah me too. These tox screens won't do themselves,'' Cam followed suit leaving only Zack.

''I..I..'' Zack looked at Booth's set face and walked away quickly not even giving an explanation.

''My professional integrity Bones,'' Booth pointed his pen at her as she opened her mouth.

''I said I trusted you,'' Bones replied.

''But? I can hear a but,'' Booth read her like he always did.

''Booth, I'm sorry but this boy has been abused. I will support you because we're partners but this evidence speaks for itself,'' Bones was honest now they were alone.

''Andy would never do this, I know he wouldn't and I'm going to prove it,'' Booth said gruffly and Bones nodded.

''Okay, so we work the case but what will be will be. You may have to accept you are wrong about this man Booth, you really might,'' Bones was blunt as always.

''I am not wrong, I read people remember? I could never be that wrong about someone I know so well. This isn't like not being able to tell if someone is lying about what time they left somewhere or if they are a theatrical agent. This is about a person's total value system. I am not wrong, I can't be,'' Booth tried to be convincing but there was the trace of doubt in his voice.

For the first time in his life, could Seeley Booth have read another person and been totally off the page?