Title: The New Assistant in the Lab

By: Sophie McCrory

Rating: T

Disclaimer: I don't own Bones. I wish I did, because then I could do with it what I want… but alas, I do not.

Summary: Brennan and Booth have not been partners for roughly fifteen years, and the reasons why are a little bit shady to everyone but them. When Cam selects a new intern to study under her prized forensic anthropologist behind her back, will he have what it takes to bring the team back together?

Notes: So it's been about a zillion years since I wrote anything that even remotely resembles a fanfic, so I'm not sure how this is going to go. But I got this idea, and of course, the show had to slowly chip away at my premise so I had to hurry and get it to you… or it would have been longer. I hope you enjoy, my lovelies, and I will see you soon. :)

The New Assistant in the Lab

Camille Nelson, formerly Saroyan, had a problem on her hands. A problem, that normally, she would take the time to be calm and diplomatic about. There was an opening in the lab. The position, held by Zach when she first started here at the Jeffersonian, had been held by… she didn't know how many people since he was locked away, and frankly, she didn't want to open the file to check. But since Brennan's last favorite graduated and took a position in California as an anthropology professor, Cam needed a replacement.

This time, though, she had a plan. After the tireless hours of Brennan trying students and professionals out time after time, she'd elected that she had had enough. But she was lucky in that her star employee often flocked in her down time to the sight of any major disaster. To her great fortune, disaster never failed to occur, and Brennan was gone identifying victims of a tsunami on the other side of the globe.

Now, all she had to do, was sift through the candidates. Then she would select three. Afterward she would call them, and see if they would be willing to come in for an interview. And then she would interview them. For fun, when that was over, she would hire one of them, and get them to start by the time Brennan came back. That should be easy enough. She looked at the files piled before her. When had everyone decided they wanted to be a forensic anthropologist?

Lucky for her, her employees of eternal loyalty were in for the day, and without an intern or an anthropologist, there were few active crimes that couldn't wait more than the four hundred years they'd already waited. Angela and Hodgins sauntered into her office together, both of them eyeing up the files on their boss' desk instantly.

"What have we got here, Cam?" Angela asked, taking a seat across the desk and picking up a file to flip through, completely without permission or invitation.

Hodgins did the same, and it took him less than five seconds to figure her out, "You're going to hire an intern while Dr. Brennan is away, aren't you?" He bore an eager look at the idea of an inter-office conspiracy. Finally, something that would make things interesting around here again.

It never failed to amaze anyone that the employees of the Jeffersonian Mediolegal lab had not changed in the last twenty years, but they'd become a sort of family in their time together, and in the end, none of them really had to leave. Brennan had always loved the thrill of the crime, the investigation, and the finale of putting a criminal away. Hodgins, obviously, didn't need the money, and the museum was one of the few places he could dig in sludge all day, and nobody cared who he was. Angela had married him about ten years ago, with her divorce and wild child days behind her. And Cam… well, Cam still loved her equipment. The coworkers didn't hurt much, either.

"Maybe," Cam mumbled, picking up another file.

"Can we help?" Angela asked, her face lighting up with excitement as she took a further look at the file in her hand.

Cam sighed, "I can't see why not," she said, giving the pile closer to them a less than subtle nudge, "You guys know Brennan, we just need three people she won't eat for breakfast on their first day." She picked up another file, complete with a blonde-haired woman dressed in all pink, with a pink resume and pink business card; sighed, and put it back down. Well, that criteria had sounded good in theory.

"I think if she doesn't pick them herself, she'll hate them either way," Angela pointed out, closing a file and holding it up for the other two to see, "This one is going to be a no."

"Let's see what kinds of winners we have here," Hodgins said, picking up a small stack and flipping through, "Phillip Wayne Johnson the Third? Please tell me you're kidding."

"Brenda Wilson is also a no," Angela said, flopping another file onto the discard stack.

"How about a guy who named Rex?" Cam inquired aloud.

"What's his last name?" Angela asked without looking up from the pile she held in her hands.

"He doesn't have one… it's just Rex."

Angela looked up at this admission, and she and Hodgins stared at her together, "No," they said in unison, and went back to their digging.

"Oo," Hodgins whistled as he held up a file he thought might be a winner, "How about one related to a famous Presidential assassin?"

"Who?" Angela asked, snatching the file away, "Let me see!" She opened the file quickly, flipping past the cover letter and right to the photo and resume. A blonde-haired young man looked up at her, and she smiled before she looked at the name. It was the name, without a doubt, that caught her breath, "Oh. My. God."

"What?" Cam asked.

"Hogdins, did you READ the whole name?" she asked, looking at her lover incredulously.

"What about the name?" Cam questioned, leaning forward in her seat.

"Oh Cam," Angela said, laughing to herself as she closed the file again and handed it to her boss, "If you don't hire that one, I may never speak to you again."

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Seeley Booth was a man of consistency. He liked to do things in a sort of routine, if it was possible. He woke up every day, at the same time, and took a shower, and then he went to work. At work, he sat at a desk and ordered the peons below him around, then sat back and felt good about it. He ate at Wong Fu's every now and then, but he never went to the old diner. Sometimes he would troll down to the mall over lunch, but that was about as far outside his comfort zone he went.

If anyone had told him twenty years ago that he was going to be in the position he was in today, he would have laughed. Never, in a million years, did he think that he would become a deputy director of the FBI, having taken over Cullen's job at his retirement and due to circumstances that had been entirely outside of Seeley Booth's control. At first, he didn't know if he would like it—he thought he would miss the time out on the field… but within days things changed, and he had no desire to be outside in the field anyway. It wasn't going to be the same.

If someone told him twenty years ago that he would be sitting here, at the diner, waiting for his only son, Parker, to meet with him on his first day back in the D.C. area after his graduation, well… first he might have asked why it would take twenty years, as Parker would have been like seven at the time. But when they told him it would be because said son was getting his PhD, well, then he would have been proud.

Never would he forget the day his son met him up for lunch, his sophomore year at American University, to tell him he had finally settled on a major. Part of Booth had silently hoped he would say criminal justice. His boy would be following in his footsteps as a crime fighter on the streets of the American capitol. And, he supposed, he was likely at least partially right about his assertion.

See, when Parker came in and sat down across from his father, bearing the same charming smile that Booth himself sometimes wore, Booth couldn't help but get excited, too. Parker wasn't there to declare his love for crime, or the legal system or even in the history of the government. It was in physical anthropology. As in, studying and experiencing and living the lives of people in other cultures. He had taken several moments to explain to his father—as he had mistakenly read his expression as that of confusion—that it had been a long decision for him, as his long-standing love of science had previously had him leaning toward biology.

Therefore, it nearly lessened the shock two years later when Parker called him at his office to tell him that he was planning to pursue a further degree, this time in forensic anthropology, at the one University he wished his son would stay away from. Northwestern. Upon his acceptance, he had sent his father a sweatshirt with the school insignia on the front, which Booth had stashed away in the darkest corner of his closet… only to be seen when his son was home on holiday.

When Parker called him a week ago and told him he wanted to catch up, Booth had figured it was during a temporary stay before his child would be going to… Peru or China or something. Wherever the Forensic Anthropologists of the world gathered to search for openings at museums or whatever. He was excited to see his son, and no matter what kind of sinking feeling the study of Anthropology left in his stomach, he was proud of all that he had accomplished.

Parker came into the diner about ten minutes after his father, dressed like business man in a suit and tie. Booth smiled at his son, who he'd known most of his young life wearing sneakers and blue jeans. He rose from his seat in the booth by the window, and pulled his only child in for a hug, "Hey Parker, how you been?"

"I'm good, Dad," Parker said, parting from his father, and then sliding into his seat.

"That's good, that's good to hear…" the older Booth said, taking a seat as well. There was a pause as Booth, his chest swelling with excitement and pride, "So what have you been up to? How does it feel to be a big PhD?"

Parker laughed as a waitress came by, setting water glasses, mugs, and a coffee pot down before them. Booth started setting up their mutual coffee break as he replied to the questions placed before him, "I've been searching for jobs and internships… etc. And I like it. There aren't many certified Forensic Anthropologists in the United States, so I think I have the upper hand."

"Really? Where have you all applied to work?"

Later in life, Booth would be glad his son had the kindness in his heart to at least take a pause to look unsure before he answered him, "Well, I've applied everywhere they have an opening currently, and I've only heard back from one place… they want me to come in for an interview, and I'm a bit nervous."

Booth smiled at his son's nervousness, "Where at? Someplace close by?" he smiled as he leaned in to take a sip of his coffee.

"It's with the Medicolegal Laboratory with the Jeffersonian Institute," Parker said proudly, not expecting his dad to instantly choke on his coffee, spewing and sputtering everywhere as he went. "Are you okay?" he asked, lunging across the table with a napkin in his hand.

"Oh God, I'm fine!" Booth said, turning red in the face as everyone in the diner turned to look at them, "Who do you have an interview with?"

"Camille Nelson," Parker said, sitting back down as Booth took the napkin and proceeded to wipe down his chin, "Aunt Cam. That's why I wanted to talk to you about it… you don't think they accepted me out of preferential treatment, do you?"

Booth laughed to himself, "I very highly doubt that."

"Why not?"

"Well," Booth said, smiling for the waitress who had taken that moment as an opportunity to bring about a new pot of coffee for him to spew over, "My theory rests not so much with Cam as the woman you'd be working under."

"But you and Cam have been friends forever, dad," Parker said, taking a bite out of his pie, "I've known her my whole life. You can't honestly expect me to believe I'm going to be going in without any sort of bias… Plus, when you were a Special Agent, didn't you work with the forensics department at the Jeffersonian?"

"Yeah, uh…" Booth thought for a moment, "That's why I don't think they called you for an interview just because you're my son."

Parker looked confused.

"Their head Forensic Anthropologist doesn't function that way," Booth specified, "She doesn't do anything based on liking or disliking, if she has any hand in the position, she'll pick you because you're the best and for no other reason."

"So you know… Dr. Brennan, I believe her name is?" Parker asked.

Booth said a silent prayer thanking God for giving him the blind foresight to rarely have ever mentioned Temperance Brennan as anything other than Bones to his son when he was younger, "Yeah… she and I used to work together from time to time."

"So she's agreeable, then?"

Booth grinned, "Let's just say you'll learn a lot from her."

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Cam was getting sick of interviewing people. Or she was sick of hearing about it from her co-workers, she couldn't really decide. If she had to listen to the whispers from Hodgins or look up and see Angela peeking into the interview room through the window one more time, she would be very, very unhappy.

"So, Cam," Angela asked, sitting down across from her friend, "Who are you interviewing this afternoon?"

"Are you asking because you care about all of the candidates, or are you asking because you want to know when Parker Booth will be coming in for his interview?"

"I'm deadly curious," Angela said, leaning forward, "Do you still talk to Booth? Have you seen Parker, lately?"

"I hear from Seeley Booth from time to time, yes. Sometimes we meet for lunch," Cam said, swirling her cold pasta around her plastic fork and taking a bite, "I haven't seen Parker since he left for college… and his father had delightfully kept secret the fact that his son was studying anything even closely related to anthropology. Don't worry, I left him an angry voicemail he has elected not to respond to."

"It must be hard for him," Angela sympathized, leading back in her seat, "Does he ever talk about Brennan?"

Cam looked up from her meal, a little surprised that Angela had come right out with it, though on further review she supposed she shouldn't be, and chose instead to offer her the same courtesy, "Not at all. If I mention her, he changes the subject."

"She does the same," Angela said, leaning ahead, "Don't you ever wonder what happened?"

"No," Cam responded, "Because it's none of our business."

"Yeah but I thought you might at least know something," Angela offered, "You're friends with Booth, and he's way more open than Brennan is."

"Ironically, the fact that Booth shares everything but extremely personal information does make him more open than Brennan, but it doesn't change the fact that Booth doesn't share anything extremely personal," Cam said, flipping open a magazine, and going back to her noodles, "All I know is that you can't say anything to him about Dr. Brennan or the nickname Bones, because he'll either ignore you or walk away."

"Do you think Parker knows anything?" Angela asked, getting bright eyed about their new prospect.

"No," Cam said, while chewing a mouthful of her lunch.

"And why not?" Angela asked, smiling as though she already knew the answer. And maybe she did.

"Because if you remember, Parker has never known Brennan as anything other than Bones," Cam pointed out, "Booth stopped working with us before Parker was ten years old, ergo, Parker doesn't know anything."

"Interesting insight," Angela murmured, "But I think you're going to take him no matter what."

Cam looked alarmed, "Why do you say that?"

Angela reached across the table, picking up the bottom file in the stack and placing it at the top before flipping it open, "Because the position of Bren's assistant has traditionally gone to a grad student, with the except of Zack. And while you have considered others, like Clark, you've never taken anyone who already had their Ph.D." She ran her finger carefully down the page until they were both looking at the 'Education,' section of his application, "Parker already has his. This is a one-shot deal for you. That means you're willing to make an exception."

Cam sighed.

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The day in total at the Jeffersonian had been a little odd. Grad students of all shapes and forms had been in and out of the Medico-Legal lab, and while Hodgins would have to admit it was a nice change to see them leaving at peace and with confidence instead of in tears was a nice touch Cam seemed to have added to her system. He'd begun to suspect that half the reason Zack had gotten the job at the assistant in the first place was that he'd had substantial evidence that Zack didn't have all the physiological components it took to cry.

The first person he'd taken the time to notice was the lovely Lisa Bennet. She was a lovely blond girl, who practically skipped into the office of the Head of Forensics, and there was little doubt to everyone she passed by that she would not be what Brennan would consider a good assistant. Obviously the girl didn't know that.

Ange had been playing spy since the first contestant, peeking in through the windows and finding ridiculous reasons to burst in whenever she saw fit. Apparently, Lisa Bennet was never going to be anyone Brennan would consider. She was a complete ditz. Apparently, when Cam got to the last question, everyone's favorite, 'Why do you want to work under Dr. Brennan?' The girl got a chirpy look on her face and said, "I was secretly hoping to meet the REAL Andy Lister."

Nope, wrong answer.

He and Angela had been together in observing the second candidate, a Mr. Greg Mason. Walking into the interview in his jeans, Pink Floyd t-shirt and moccasins, they'd already known the answer to every question. They'd been patient and waited for Cam to come out of the room with her hair a mess as though she'd spent the last ten minutes pulling it, before they knew the answer was a stern negative.

They'd made a plan for the final interview, however. His job had been to locate some popcorn and Angela's had been to linger inconspicuously outside the door for an opening. He'd purchased two bags from a vendor in the mall, and Angela had waited until Cam had left to use the restroom, before they barged in and took a seat in the back corner.

Cam returned, of course, with none other than Parker Booth. Hodgin's was impressed, to say the least, with how the rugrat spawn of Booth had turned out. He was tall and built like his dad, but he was a blond who appeared to appreciate the potential floppiness of hair in the same way that Zack had. Cam had been kind enough to ignore their presence in her office, and though Parker frequently paused to look at them oddly, he didn't directly mention it, either.

And he was smart. Even though, sometimes Cam would ask him a question, and he would get that look on his face that Booth always had, and Hodgins would almost expect him to say, "Now, Bones, what the hell are you talking about?" he wouldn't. He would laugh, and put on the charm smile and answer the question properly, big words and all. For a moment, Hodgins wondered what dinner at their house was like.

Of course they were all waiting for that last question, when the giant question that had been lingering about the lab for days would be asked. He saw Angela's grip tighten on her bag of popcorn, watching intently as Cam asked the question, "Why do you want to work under Dr. Brennan?"

Parker smiled, "Well, I loved science as a kid… I think my dad said that sometimes he would bring me here and I would play science games. And forensic anthropology is… well, something I'm very passionate about. I know that you do cases with the Bureau, and I know that my dad did a few with this department," Parker paused, "He said Dr. Brennan's the best. I want to learn from the best."

Angela sniffled a little was Cam smiled, "That's very touching Parker," she said, "When can you start?"

There was a brief pause before everyone was forced to look in Angela's direction as she hollered an unlady-like, "Oh HELL Yeah!"

Hodgins knew he loved her for a reason.

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Back in the day, Seeley Booth had loved being a Special Agent. Truly, if he could be one, he would still be. But back in the day, shortly after Cullen's retirement, he'd been injured badly. Since he had one of the best track records in the men below Cullen at that point (thanks in no small part to one Temperance Brennan), he'd been set on the path to quite the promotion. He'd been grateful, too, because at that point he would've been okay if he never saw a dead body in the Jeffersonian again.

As he stood on the floor that housed Caroline Julian's office, he stuffed his hands in his pockets. But he needed to talk to someone from the deep, dark corners of his past, and the only other option was… Sweets. Sweets, whom he tried to avoid on a near-regular basis. No thank you, he didn't want anyone digging into his old-age psyche. Caroline was more… a person who just told you like it is.

So he walked down the hallway, pushed the door open and sat in the nearest chair without giving her any sort of chance to object. Over the years, Caroline had retired herself from being a US Attorney, but her passion would always be in law, and she set up her own private office elsewhere in DC. The charismatic woman, now a little bit physically slowed and grey in the hair, stared at her former FBI Agent.

"Special Agent Seeley Booth," she said, in that matter-of-fact tone she bore.

"I'm a Deputy Director now," Booth mumbled, slouching in his seat.

"Cherie, what are you doing here?" she asked, standing and putting her hands on her hips, "I don't work with the damn FBI anymore."

"Isn't it obvious?" Booth asked.

"Booth. I am old. My powers of mind reading have left me," she said, waving her hands around intricately, "What do you want?"

"I have a little bit of a teeny tiny problem," he said, still not confident that he'd picked the right person to come to with this.

"And it would be?" she demanded.

"My son is currently in an interview at the Jeffersonian," he said, weaving his hands together, and tapping his foot on the floor.

"And?"

"The position involves being the assistant to Dr. Temperance Brennan," Booth responded, lifting his eyebrow as though this should be all he had to say. It was.

"Oo, well, isn't that an interesting little nugget of information?" Caroline said, sitting back down, a gleeful smile on her face, "Why would THAT bother you, Booth?"

"You don't think… Bones will do anything bad to him, do you?" Booth asked, unsure.

"Are you admitting a romantic past with this woman, Seeley?"

Booth ignored her, "I mean it. You don't think Bones is a mean, vengeful person, do you?"

"I think she has vengeance, yes," Caroline said, leaning in, "But I don't think your former lover is going to harm one hair on your precious little boy's head. Yours, on the other hand…"

Booth took that moment to answer the vibrating in his pocket, sliding his phone open quickly, "Hello?" he asked, "Hey Parker, how'd it go?" he smiled, in an expression that eventually looked more like he was grinding his teeth than anything else. "That's great… when do you start? Oh, Monday, that's pretty quick there…" he paused, "Of course. Good luck, son!" he said, and he closed his phone promptly.

There was a pause as Caroline stared at him. "He got it," he eventually mumbled, and then sank lower in his seat.

"Would you like a drink, Cherie?"

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Dr. Temperance Brennan hated airports. She wasn't entirely sure what it was about them, the interactions between the people, the staff, or perhaps it was just the constant waiting when she thought she had better things to do. Either way, if there were a way for her to travel the world without having to go with fighting couples and crying babies, she would take it.

The one relief, she often found, was having someone waiting for her when she got to the end of the terminal. These days, it was almost always Angela, her living, breathing, perky mascot who was always more than happy to brighten her day. Sometimes, she wasn't sure how she'd made it so far into her life before having someone like her best friend. More often, she was thankful she still was.

"Sweetie!" Angela called, bouncing up and down and clapping her hands, "You made it! I'm so excited you're back!"

"Ange, you always say that," Brennan said, meeting up with her friend as they both started walking toward the exit, "I've never gone on a trip and somehow not made it back."

"But that doesn't imply that there haven't been times when we didn't know for sure if you would," the artist pointed out, "Besides, you're my best friend. I hate it when you're gone and I'm always excited to see you come home."

"How is everything?" Brennan asked, "Your marriage to Hodgins is still going well?"

"Hun, you haven't been gone that long," Angela laughed, "But yes, we're wonderful. He's waiting for us in the car," she pulled out her cell phone and typed up a quick text message, "And now he's heading to the front to meet us there."

Brennan laughed lightly, "I'm glad to be back."

"Then I'm glad that you're glad."

"How are things at the lab?" Brennan asked, dragging her bag behind her, "Have there been many cases in my absence?"

"Sweetie, in that area, we have something to talk about," Angela said, carefully. Brennan looked at her, a confused expression coming to her face as they progressed to the front door, "but you have to promise not to hurt me, because I am largely the messanger."

"Ange," Brennan said as they walked around a large family congregating in the middle of their walkway, "When have I ever hurt you?"

"It's just that…" Angela stopped as they reached the front door, Hodgins easily viewable waiting in their car, "Cam hired you a new assistant."

"Another series of them?" Brennan asked, looking drained, "I really don't have time to—"

"No, hun, she hired one," Angela tried again.

Brennan stared at her for a moment, her face going quickly to annoyance, "Why? Does she suddenly think I'm incapable of doing my job?" She turned and started their walk once more, going through the doors of the airport and heading toward their escape vehicle.

"That's not all," Angela said, "And what's left of it… you're going to like even less."

"What about Cam going behind my back and hiring a new assistant could I like less than not being able to choose them myself?" Brennan demanded, opening the back hatch of the car.

"It's well… it's the assistant. He's very good, and he's very smart but…" Angela paused as Hodgins exited the vehicle, and came around to help them. He wordlessly picked up Brennan's bags and started putting them in the trunk.

"What is it, Ange?" Brennan asked, "He's what?"

"He's Parker Booth," Hodgins answered for her.

The color instantly drained from her face, as Angela grabbed her arm and started pulling her forward. "N…" she stuttered, "Not…"

"Yes, honey," Angela said, opening the backseat door and pushing her inside, "Seeley Booth's son, Parker."

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Brennan hadn't said anything for the rest of trip home. She just sat in her seat, staring straight ahead. Angela checked every once and a while to make sure she was blinking, but beyond that, neither of them said anything to provoke her.

The short version of the story is that no one, absolutely no one, knew what exactly it had been that had severed the seemingly impenetrable partnership of Doctor Temperance Brennan and Special Agent Seeley Booth, except, of course, the two people involved. Brennan never spoke of it. Neither did Booth. The squints of the Jeffersonian only watched it happen in phases.

One day, their friends were just and flirty and jovial as ever, then there was a period where Brennan would come to work, and barely said more than two words all day… not even to Booth. Then one day, Brennan left on one of her anthropological expeditions, and even upon her return, Booth was never the Special Agent who came around on cases ever again. Of course, they'd heard various things through the grape vine. Booth had been promoted, several times. Brennan had written a number of other books, taking a few interesting turns with the relationship of Kathy Reichs and Andrew Lister. Rumor was that at one point she wanted them to part, and him to die… but her publisher told her that it would ruin sales.

And every once in a while, when they would have a new agent to work with… he would utter the same thing through their first several cases: "Deputy Director Booth requested to see you," to Brennan, until she would finally snap and tell that agent there was no way she was going to do that, ever, and if they wanted her as their forensic anthropologist, they would stop asking. And they would.

There had always been speculation, of course. That they'd been romantically involved, and it had ended badly. But, the squints would often argue, there had never been any sign of it. Brennan and Booth were too… Brennan and Booth to ever break up. Their arguments would be ignored, of course, because obviously, even that infamous friendship was over.

Hodgins parked the car outside of Brennan's building, helping with her things. Angela offered to come up with her, but Brennan brushed her off, walking into her building without so much as a, 'thank you,' in her wake. Maybe, had it been anybody else, Angela would have been offended. But it was Brennan, and if you want to have Brennan, you have to have all those messy layers, too.

Brennan walked to her elevator without so much as a glance at her surroundings. She just stared straight ahead, not smiling, not exhilarated as she so often was after one of these expeditions. She made her journey to her floor, into her apartment, and onto her foyer. She dropped her bags there, and took a deep breath. She was thinking about it. She was thinking about Booth, and she didn't want to think about it anymore. She promised herself years ago she would stop, and so long as nobody mentioned that insufferable man to her, she normally could.

She walked into her kitchen, and got herself a glass of water. She walked back to her office, and sat down behind her computer, leaning back in her chair. She stared at the blank screen for a few moments, not doing anything.

Eventually, she opened a little drawer at the desk, close to the floor. There before her she laid out the little trinkets and treasures that she had collected in memory of Seeley Booth over the years. Her brainy smurf. Jasper the pig. Various other little items that hadn't seen the light of day in several years.

She ran her fingers over them for a little while, thinking about the events that landed them in her possession. Thinking about Booth. It had been years, he'd been gone from her life for years… she was all put back together now. So why did he have to indirectly show up?

She sighed again and put the items back in their places. Closing the drawer and standing up. She had had a long day, she decided, so she wouldn't think about it again until tomorrow. With that, she headed to bed, without so much as a glance back to her desk.

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Parker Booth was not a stupid person, far from it, in fact. He sat in his new apartment, beer in hand, sitting back and contemplating a few things. A few job-related, family related things. Actually, he was thinking about his first few days at work, and the people he was intended to be working with. He was confused about some things, and the solution was going to get complicated.

Tomorrow, it would be his first time working with Doctor Temperance Brennan. He was excited about this on one hand, it was rare to go into his field and not know who she was. She'd made forensic anthropology popular with her novels, and though he'd never picked one up to read, he went with the understanding that they were very good.

He recalled parts of the Jeffersonian from his childhood, in a blurry sort of way that he can recall visiting the playground as a child or the occasional trip to the J. Edgar Hoover Building. It was sort of funny to him that upon entering the Medico-Legal lab for the first time as an employee a few days ago, his memory flashed back to a third-grade field trip to the Museum in which he bragged to Brittany Peters that he'd been to parts of the museum before that the public wasn't allowed to visit.

And of course, he'd known Cam for a good portion of his life. Not very well, and mostly when he was older. He'd been consciously aware that she and his father had been friends for… forever, sometimes going out for lunch or visiting when a member of the family died. But she had never been the sort of fixture that existed as… say, a babysitter or something. She'd been a helpful guide upon the announcement that he was planning on taking his degree in forensics, though.

None of that was what confused him. It was the… odd way everyone acted around him. Well, everyone who had been at the Jeffersonian for an extended period of time, anyway. He tapped the side of his beer with one finger. It was like they all knew something about him, that they didn't.

He'd inquired about it, of course, his second day there. Angela, he'd noted, seemed the more trustworthy and open of anyone. She had, in a sense, taken a protective wing over him since his arrival, and part of him had been curious as to why.

"Angela, can I ask you a question?" Parker had asked, upon entering her office.

It had been a slow day, so she put the sketch pad down that she'd been doodling on, "Of course you can, Parker. What do you need?"

"I was just…" he paused, shifting a little uncomfortably, "Do you think people are treating me weird? Because I think it's more than just them noticing me here for the first time. It's like… Like I'm being studied."

"You're in a museum," Angela said, smiling, "All anyone here does is study."

Parker's brows furrowed, "I'm serious."

Angela sighed, "Alright. Sweetie, you're not paranoid. They are staring at you. Most of them are very socially awkward, don't take it personally."

Parker was annoyed, "Do you happen to know WHY they would be staring?"

"Your dad," Angela mumbled.

"My dad?" Parker reeled for a moment, this had not been the answer he'd been expecting, "What do they care about the Deputy Director of the FBI?"

Angela stared at him for a few beats, several expressions crossing her features as she did so. She opened her mouth and closed it a few times, before she finally said, "You mean you don't know?"

Parker blinked, "Know what?"

"Oh sweetie, take a seat," Angela said, as Parker sat down in a chair by her desk, "Oh," she paused, "Where to start…?"

"The beginning would be nice," Parker said, getting mad over the feeling he had in the pit of his stomach that a certain tall-statured man he'd admired his whole life had been keeping some pretty big secrets from him.

"Well, most of us knew your dad as Special Agent Seeley Booth back then. Most of us just called him Booth, and I haven't seen your dad lately, kid, but your father was a very attractive man back in the day," she said, giving him a charming grin. "The shorter version of the story is that at a certain point, Goodman, who ran the museum here… he decided that Brennan should have to work with the FBI per their request. She didn't favor this idea, once you meet her I'm sure you'll understand… and the man the FBI put in charge of her was your dad.

"They fought a lot in the beginning, they both have very strong personalities," Angela said, rolling her eyes, "And eventually most of the cases your dad got were because he worked with Brennan, and they formed a bit of a partnership-"

"Wait, wait…" Parker said, holding up his hand, "My dad just said he occasionally worked cases with Dr. Brennan."

"Well by occasionally he meant almost every fricken day," Angela said, crossing her arms, "I'm a little bit surprised you don't remember her, Parker."

"I don't," he said, "So what happened? Did their partnership end when my dad got promoted?"

"On that note, no one's really sure. One day they were joined at the hip, the next we never saw your dad again. She doesn't talk about it. According to Cam, neither does he," Angela said, standing up to show him the door, "I'm sure if you asked your dad he would tell you more than he has anyone else."

Parker too, got to his feet, "I can't believe my dad was partners with Dr. Brennan," he said, as he exited the office.

"If you need proof," Angela had called after him, "Check out the dedication in Bren's second book!"

So here he sat, in his apartment, nursing his beer. To his right on the couch, a Barnes and Noble bag sat, a book seated on top. It had taken him some time to figure out which of the books that Temperance Brennan had penned was the second, but he did.

He reached over and pulled the book open, flipping through the first few pages until he saw it. The evidence that his source had told him he would find: "This Book is Dedicated to My Partner and Friend, Special Agent Seeley Booth."

Parker stared at it for a few moments, chewing on his lower lip. He had thoughts about this. More than thoughts, he had a particular reaction.

He picked his cell phone up off the coffee table, and without pause dialed it, "Hey Dad…" he said, "I was wondering… Could we have lunch tomorrow?"

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It was rare that Brennan dreaded going to work. Usually the vindication and satisfaction of discovering something, a history, a lifestyle of a person, a fact in a case, she was all for it. But today she was facing a buffet of challenges she was not all that interested in facing. Booth, well, A Booth, anyway.

Part of her ached a little bit, remembering the Parker Booth of her past. She sat in her car in the parking garage, staring straight ahead. She imagined what that little boy may have grown into. He probably had a lot in common with Booth, he'd idolized his father as a child. He'd had small personality traits that were no doubt things he'd picked up… his desire to stand up for himself, his non-disturbia over gross things, the humorous way he reacted to things.

All she really knew was that one wise-crack out of that grown-up Parker's mouth and just the knowledge that he may have learned it from his father was going to hurt.

She grabbed her bag and took in a deep breath, opening the door and exiting the car. She patted down her clothes and fixed her hair, pulling herself together. It was going to be a long day.

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Parker took his seat in the diner, awaiting his father's arrival. He placed the book out on the table where he knew it would be seen, and started to play with his straw.

It didn't take Booth long to arrive, a pep in his step as he spotted his only child. "Hey there, Parker!" he said jovially, as he came to sit in his usual place, across from his son in the booth by the window, "To what do I owe this…?"

Then he saw it. The book. The shiny hardcover taking a galling glare from the sun outside, as if that god forsaken book, its prequel or any of the subsequent followers, had any light within them. He looked at his son, and in an instant he knew. Or, more appropriately, knew that he knew there was more to the story than he'd been given, and he was going to have to answer for it.

The waitress came to the table and asked what they would like, and while Parker answered with a tense sort of ease, Booth's mouth was too dry to talk. He faintly thought he heard his son order him some coffee and pie, though he was spending quite a bit of attention on the book and could have been mistaken.

The waitress disappeared without another word.

"Are you going to tell me, dad?" Parker asked, "People speculate about it, you know. What happened between you and Dr. Brennan. They want to know… I want to know. I can't believe you would just let me wander in BLIND-"

"Love," Booth mumbled.

"What?" Parker asked, a little bit surprised.

"Love," the older man repeated, "I was in love with her. She was in love with me, though I'm sure she would deny that now. We were in love with each other."

"I don't understand…" Parker said, "How could you have been in love and nobody knew about it?"

"I wouldn't say no one knew about it," Booth said, blowing air out of his teeth, "A lot of people knew, or at least speculated. Nobody really had proof. We were together though, in every sense two people can be.

"We kept it a secret," he continued, "surprisingly well. I suppose it was because it was vital at the time, if anyone else found out and blew our cover to the FBI our partnership would be totally over—and even though to this day I'm sure no two people were supposed to be together more than me and Bones—"

"Oh my God!" Parker shouted, earning him odd glances from several of the patrons in the restaurant, "Dr. Brennan is BONES?"

"Uh, yeah…" Booth said, "Did you not know they were one and the same?"

"For the love of… NO, Dad, I didn't," Parker said, "I remember BONES, it was Dr. Brennan I'd never known of before." They sat in silence for a moment, "You were in love with Bones? Nevermind," he said quickly, "Why else would you buy a woman a Christmas tree and set it up in a parking lot?"

For some reason he couldn't explain, Booth laughed, "Yeah that would be why."

"Dad," Parker said, serious and calm, "What happened?"

Booth inhaled, "That's…" he looked away from him, "I've never told anyone before."

"Tell me, dad," Parker urged.

Booth sighed, "Okay… Bones and I… we were together, and like I said, it was a secret. Man, was I in love with that woman. But some things in life just don't turn out the way we want them to."

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Across the city in the Medico-Legal lab at the Jeffersonian, the door to the office of Angela Montenegro was being closed by Doctor Temperance Brennan. Angela looked up from her computer and frowned at her morose best friend, standing before her with her shoulders slumped, "Sweetie, what's wrong?"

"Angela, I…" Brennan took a deep breath, "I want to talk about it."

Angela couldn't believe it, "You want to talk about…"

"What happened between me and Booth," Brennan clarified, moving to sit on Angela's couch. Angela, without provocation, stood as well, and joined her friend. "We were together, Ange."

"Together together?" Angela asked, "Or something else?"

"Together together," Brennan said, rubbing her palms on her pants, "Sleeping together, in a relationship together, basically living together… Booth used to joke that it was the smartest thing he ever did, because I was always there with him, so he wouldn't have to waste the gas to go pick me up," she laughed quietly to herself.

"What happened, Bren?" Angela asked, putting a hand on the other woman's shoulder, "Obviously you guys broke up… what went wrong? I always figured that when you two got together nothing would break you up."

Brennan laughed quietly again, this time with a hint of bitterness, "I think we all did," she blew air through her teeth, "And we did break up… kind of. With Parker here," she looked down to her hands, "With Parker here I'm starting to think it was all my fault."

"Hun, it couldn't have all been your fault."

"No, not entirely," Brennan mumbled, "but the end was my fault, the fact that the end STAYED the end was my fault."

"Brennan," Angela said, "I can't comfort you unless you tell me. What happened?"

"Booth and I were happy together," Brennan started, "we couldn't be open about it because we wanted to keep our partnership, but we were happy. For the first time ever, I was happy. I had a person, you know? Somebody had risen every morning since the day we'd met thinking of me, and Booth really cared. He cared more than I appreciated most of the time.

"I got… pregnant. I was horrified. Not just because I didn't know if I really wanted a child, and that Booth would be against any sort of… terminate actions, but because I didn't know if I could keep it a secret. At first, I didn't know if I should tell Booth. But I did, and he was everything I needed him to be. In time, I started to warm up to it. You should have seen Booth's face sometimes when we talked about it, Ange… I can't even describe it.

"But, some things aren't meant to be, and I lost the baby," Brennan placed a hand upon the portion of her body that her child previously lived. "Booth and I cried together for… I don't even know how long. He wanted me to take extra time off of work but I refused. For a long time, after the original grief passed… I was angry. Angry with my body, with myself for getting so excited, with my doctors for not doing something, at Booth just… because."

"Oh my God," Angela whispered, wrapping an arm around her friend, "How could you go through that without telling me?"

Brennan shrugged, "Booth tried… he tried so hard to bring me back, piece me back together. But he's a human being, he was hurting too, and as much as he tried, he couldn't work miracles.

"I got an offer to go on an anthropological expedition for six months. Part of me wanted to run away. Booth and I fought about it, he thought it was a horrible time to go… that we needed to heal. I didn't want to heal anything, sometimes I would look at him… and all I could see was the life I'd lost," she bit her lip, "But never once did he say I couldn't go. He didn't tell me to stay, just that he didn't know if it was a good idea. So I left.

"Six months, Ange. Six months and not a single call, not a letter. He didn't come for me. He didn't try to get me to come home. When I came back he wasn't even my partner anymore," she had that bitter laugh again, "and all of a sudden the part were we'd kept it all a secret was totally pointless, because everything we never wanted to happen did."

"Did you ever try to find out what happened?" Angela asked, "Why he wasn't your partner? Why he didn't come after you?"

"No," Brennan admitted, "I guess part of me didn't want to know."

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Parker watched his father talk, letting the information sink in, "Bones was gone about a month before I decided I couldn't take it anymore. I wanted to be understanding, take in that this was her way of coping… It was Bones, if I got controlling or pushed too hard, then we would have really been over.

"Two days before I was supposed to board a plane and go after her, I got hit on the job," Booth said, motioning to his body, implying the areas that he'd been shot at, a memory he knew his son hadn't lost over time.

"I remember," Parker said, sitting back in his seat. "You were in the hospital forever. You were never in the field again."

Booth nodded, "I was in the hospital for weeks, in therapy for what seemed like an eternity. When I was able to speak again and Sweets came to visit, I told him I needed him to find Bones. I didn't care how, but he needed to find her and tell her I'd been hurt and I needed her to come home. I didn't see Sweets again for a long time, and Brennan never showed.

"I got bitter, mostly because Bones had left me alone. Don't get me wrong… I had you and your mom, Jared and my family, an endless list of friends who were more than willing to be there…"

"But you wanted Bones," Parker said, understanding his father's implications.

"Yeah," Booth admitted, "Eventually, Sweets told me he hadn't been able to get a hold of her. Of anyone who could, and as I was being put in charge of agents… specifically the ones that would be taking over my old position in partnership with the Jeffersonian… I tried to get to Bones. Every time I sent her someone new I would tell them to get her to come meet with me," Booth shrugged, "To this day she won't."

"You don't know why?" Parker asked.

"No, no I really don't," Booth said, "But I think, in a way, we failed each other. We both hurt."

Parker nodded, "She was the love of your life, dad?"

Booth smiled at his son, "She still is."

-------------------------------------------------------

It took Parker a whole ten seconds to decide what he had to do. Even though countless people advised him not to, even though she had the reputation of chewing people up and spitting them out, he had to do it. No sooner was lunch bought and paid for, than he'd bid his dad farewell and dashed out the door.

He rushed into the Medico-Legal lab, passing by strangers and co-workers and the platform with a stack of bones he needed to assess. He didn't care. He walked quickly by the group of people his dad used to call the Squints, and directly into Dr. Brennan's office.

He was in and had shut the door before she'd even had the chance to look up from her computer. Brennan looked up at the younger Booth with a questioning expression, her mouth open to ask something, but Parker blurted out his question before she even had the chance, "Why won't you see him?"

In contradiction to everything anyone had advised him, she was calm, "Parker, I don't know that you can appropriately assess—"

"He was going to come for you, did you know that?" He asked, and judging by the shocked expression that fell across her face, she didn't, "He got shot, like a million times. I remember it, he was in the hospital forever, my mom waited to tell me why I couldn't go to my dad's house for WEEKS because they weren't sure he was going to live." He took in a deep breath, "Two days… if he would have gone two days before getting shot, he would have been on a plane to drag you home."

He watched her eyes drop to her desk, "That's why he wasn't my partner when I came home… why I never heard from him…"

"But he's tried, he's tried for years to get you to see him, so he could tell you himself," Parker insisted, "You wouldn't go."

"I thought the worst," she mumbled. "I was irrational."

"He loves you," Parker said, quiet.

Brennan stood up, pulling her jacket from the chair behind her, "Did he go back to work, Parker?"

The only child of Seeley Booth smiled a little to himself, "Yeah, he did."

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There had been several reasons over the years that Brennan had run through the FBI building. She had information, she wanted to get on the road to a case, she wanted to get back to her lab… never had it been to find Booth. Maybe it was because in the past, he'd always been right where she needed him to be, she didn't know. But today, today Temperance Brennan was running to something, and she didn't know what it was.

She rushed passed several people, old agents she'd worked with in the past, some of Booth's old friends, she even felt a lump in her throat when she brushed past her former partner's old office. Most people stared at her, she didn't care.

She took a moment when she got close to his new office to pull herself together. To stop, brush herself off, steady her breathing a little to curb the obviousness of her sprint through the building. She took no care to acknowledge the administrative assistant who rose to stop her from simply barging into his office, but in a sense, was there any other way Temperance Brennan would make her presence known to Seeley Booth?

Booth looked up at the sound of commotion outside his office, and his heart stopped when he saw his Bones standing in his doorway. He pressed his intercom immediately, sending his voice to the secretary desk, "It's okay Lucy, Dr. Brennan has a standing appointment I forgot to tell you about… if anyone comes by, I'm not here."

There was a brief silence as Booth pulled his finger from the intercom, his eyes never leaving her face, "Temprence," he said, quietly.

It had suddenly occurred to her that in her rush to be here, she'd not once thought of anything to say. She didn't say anything at first, just stared at him. He stared back, as if to respect the fact that she needed a moment. Finally she took a deep breath, and just let it out, "You got shot."

This had apparently not been what he'd expected her to say. He blew air out between his teeth and sank down in his chair, "Parker has a big mouth."

It was all the confirmation she needed. For a moment she wanted to ask to see him, to see where some soulless individual had nailed him in the hopes of ending his life. She didn't have that right anymore. She watched him run his hand down his face, "You…" she paused, "You were going to come for me?"

He rocked his head back and forth, "That had been the plan, yes."

She sank down in the chair across from his desk, "But you didn't because… you got shot."

"I do believe we established that, yes."

Now she ran a hand down her face, "I never knew." It was more of a self-directed groan than a statement.

"I tried to send Sweets to find you, but he couldn't find you. Then I sent my agents, and well," he shrugged.

She nodded, "I turned them away. I thought the worst." She smiled a little to herself, "You know I probably wouldn't have listened to you had you come."

Booth smiled, memories of their former life flooding back to him from a hidden place he'd secretly stored them ages ago, "I was fully aware of the fact that I would likely have been shot either way," he leaned forward, "But I could have had a lovely vacation in… whatever remote, amenity-free village you were staying in."

"With me screaming at you continually," Brennan pointed out.

"If I didn't love that part of you as much as everything else, I wouldn't have been with you," he chuckled, "It came with the territory."

Brennan's face fell at his words, "Shit," she murmured, a word Booth wasn't entirely sure he'd ever heard her say, "I really ruined us, didn't I?"

Booth stood up from his seat, moving around her and placing his hands on either side of her chair, bringing his face down to her level, "Only if we're really, really over."

"It's been years Booth, it's possible we've changed to the point that we're no longer compatible," she pointed out, as he inched closer.

He smiled, "Or we could be better than before, Brennan."

"Bones," she said, her eyes on his lips as he inched closer to her. "Just… call me Bones."

Booth laughed at the irony of her statement, "You got it, Bones."

And his mouth met hers.

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Awwww… isn't that cute? R&R! :)