"Brennan." She said simply, answering her phone without looking at the caller id. She and Booth were on their way to Maryland to interview the husband of the woman she'd just identified as a murder victim and her mind was totally focused on the case. Why had someone killed this seemingly innocuous woman? An elementary school teacher who was seemingly well-respected and loved within her community, Laura Briggs was a woman with seemingly no enemies. So how did she end up in the landfill, the victim of a deep stab wound to the chest?
"Bren? Sweetie, you need to come back to the lab." Angela's voice reached out over the phone and Brennan felt her stomach clench in response to her friend's tone.
"Ange, what's wrong?"
"I don't know exactly. There's a woman from Child Services here who's demanding to see you but she won't give us any real information, not even Cam."
"Child Services? What would they want with me?" She asked. Just the name of the agency was enough to make her heart beat faster in fear and she couldn't keep that fear from showing in her voice. Booth being Booth immediately picked up on it and immediately pulled the SUV over to the side of the road and took her hand in support once they had stopped.
"Sweetie, I'm not sure but this woman is giving me the creeps. Something just isn't right and I really think you need to get back here."
"We're on our way to an interview Angela, we can't just…"
"Ange, we're heading back now," Booth interrupted loudly, calling out to the artist over the phone. Brennan gave him a look that was somehow equal parts exasperation and gratitude and he smiled at her in return. "We'll be back at the lab in an hour."
"Okay sweetie, I'll let Attilla-the-social-worker know. Tell Booth I said hello and thanks. Try not to worry too much until then, okay? We won't know what's going on until you get here and whatever it is Bren, we'll take care of it together. I promise."
"Thanks Ange. See you soon." She disconnected the call and tried to fill Booth in on what was going on with the limited information that she had.
The partners made it back to the Jeffersonian in record time and mostly in total silence. Brennan's mind had been frantically searching for some reason outside of her own past as a foster kid for child services to be looking for her. Her first thought had been that something had happened to Russ and Amy, but a quick call to her brother had allayed that fear. So what on earth was going on?
They walked into the lab hurriedly, with Booth's hand safely occupying its correct place on her lower back, and headed straight for Angela's office.
"Sweetie!" the woman exclaimed upon seeing them. "Thank goodness you're here, I don't know how much longer Cam could take playing nice-nice with Madame Sourpuss. Come on, let's find out what all this is about." The words were rushing out of her mouth as she grabbed them and practically dragged them into yet another office.
"Dr. Brennan, thank goodness you're back. This nice lady has been waiting to speak with you." Cam said when she saw them in the doorway. Brennan glanced at the rather nondescript middle aged woman currently residing on Cam's couch and had to internally smirk that this was the person that had upset everyone with her presence today. This was not a woman whose visage automatically signaled danger. No instead, everything about her practically screamed oatmeal cookies and cups of tea, she looked every inch the kindly grandmother.
"Dr. Brennan hello, I'm Maxine Ellis with the Department of Children's Services. Is there somewhere we can talk privately?"
"Ms. Ellis, trust me, whatever it is you have to say will be shared with all the people in this room before you've even left the building. We'refamily around here. You'd be saving me a lot of grief if you'd just say it to all of us." Brennan said wryly.
"Ah," the older woman laughed, "I see. I have an office like that myself. If you're sure?" She paused until Brennan nodded her assent. "Very well. Dr. Brennan, I'm so sorry to have to tell you this but there was an accident outside Huntsville, West Virginia last night and…"
"Oh my god, Andy?" Brennan gasped as she recognized the location of the accident.
"Andy 's fine, Dr. Brennan, he wasn't in the car at the time of the accident. Mr. and Mrs. Grant however were killed instantly."
"Oh no," Brennan said, tears coming to her eyes. She'd liked the couple and had done everything she could to help them out once they'd adopted Andy. They were so young, so in love, so happy to finally have the family they'd always dreamed of and the hope of their town returning to its former glory, to have them die now just seemed especially cruel. "That's awful."
While Brennan was lost in her thoughts about the unfortunate couple, Booth's mind was busy putting two and two together. "Ms. Ellis, what's going to happen to Andy?" He asked finally and Brennan's head immediately shot up.
"Dr. Brennan, that's actually why I'm here. Jim and Carol Grant named you as the guardian of Andy in the event anything happened to him. I need to know whether or not you're willing to take on that responsibility. If so, since you're already a registered foster parent who has taken care of him before, I can have him here by the end of the day. If not, I'll have to find some other placement for now—"
"I'll take him, of course." Brennan interrupted before the woman even had a chance to finish her sentence. "Andy's already lost two families, he doesn't need to be with strangers right now."
"Thank you Dr. Brennan, I'm glad to hear you say that. I agree, that little boy has seen too much tragedy in his short life, I think it would comfort him to be around someone familiar. There is only one thing that I need you to think about—do you want temporary or permanent custody of Andy? You don't have to have an answer right now of course, but I'd appreciate it if you could let me know once you decide so that I know what I have to do next."
"Of course." Brennan's heart was screaming at her to volunteer to take him permanently, but she knew this wasn't a decision she could be impulsive about—she needed to seriously consider what she was doing before she made that commitment.
"Well then Dr. Brennan, I'll go back to my office to get everything started and I'll bring Andy by this afternoon. Does 5 o'clock work for you?"
"That would be fine." And with that, the older woman nodded kindly at the members of the team and let herself out of the office. For what seemed like hours but was actually less than a minute, everyone stood rooted to their place with an obvious look of shock on each face.
"Bren, oh my god," Angela said, breaking the silence first and rushing to her friend. "Sweetie, you're going to be a mommy."