"Paternal Instincts"

Summary: Bones' young new assistant has a secret…he is Booth's son.

Author's Note(s): Takes place after the whole "Widow's Son" storyline, so Zack is gone.

Warning: This story will contain spanking of a teenager.

Disclaimer: The only character I own is Seth. Booth, Bones, and the Squints I don't own.

Chapter One: The New Assistant

FBI Special Agent Seeley Booth walked into the Jeffersonian Institute whistling to himself.

He was on his way to visit his partner, forensic scientist Dr. Temperance Brennan—a.k.a. 'Bones'.

"Booth," a voice behind him spoke, "what brings you here?"

Glancing back over his shoulder he saw that it was Lance Sweets—the twenty-two year old psychiatrist that helped him and Bones sometimes.

"Do I need a reason to come here?" he asked the kid, once he'd caught up with him.

"No, I guess not," Sweets said, "but you usually do."

"Well, Bones called and told me to get my butt over here," Booth explained, "so I came."

"Interesting," Sweets, who enjoyed trying to solve the mystery that was Booth and 'Bones', commented. "Dr. Brennan actually said 'get your butt over here'?"

He found that a little hard to believe, knowing the forensic scientist's personality—or lack thereof—as he did.

"Well, no," Booth said, "of course not. It was more like 'Booth, could you please come down to the lab sometime today'. But I could tell by her tone of voice she wanted me to get my butt down here right away."

"Interesting," Sweets said again. "Actually, she asked me to come down here, too."

"She did?" Booth blinked. "I wonder why?"

"I guess we'll find out," Sweets said, smirking. "Let's go, dude."

Booth rolled his eyes, and followed after him.

The young man might be a brilliant shrink, but in a lot ways he was still just a kid—who liked to play with people minds.

They entered the lab to find Brennan examining the skeletal remains of a body.

This wasn't so unusual, given that was her job after all…what was usual was the person helping her.

He was quite obviously a teenager with dark hair and eyes, dressed in all in black—black t-shirt, black jeans, black boots—except for the white lab coat he wore.

His dark hair was spiked and he wore a spiked dog collar around his neck.

He had a silver earring pierced through the top of each ear, plus a nose ring.

"Whoa," Sweets said, smiling. "He is, like, totally, cool."

"Uh, Bones," Booth said, raising an eyebrow his partner, "who's the kid?"

Dr. Brennan looked up at them and so did the boy beside her.

"Oh, you're both here," she said, still holding a femur bone from the skeleton. "Booth, Sweets, this is my new assistant—Seth Carter."

She looked at the boy beside her.

"Seth, this is Dr. Lance Sweets and my partner, FBI Special Agent Booth."

"Nice to meet you, dude," Sweets said, shaking his hand. "You must be totally stoked to be working with Dr. Brennan, huh?"

"It's an honor," Seth told him, grinning at Brennan. "I was very excited to get her call."

Booth snorted. The kid was practically drooling…

"And I thought Zack was young," he commented. "How old are you, Seth?"

"What does that have to do with anything?" Brennan asked, frowning.

Seth, however, just smiled and pushed his black-framed glasses back into place on his nose.

"Its okay, Dr. Brennan, I get asked that a lot," he told her. "I'm sixteen, Agent Booth."

"Just call him Booth," Sweets told him. "We all do."

Booth glared at him.

"At least there's one kid here who has respect for his elders," he muttered out of the side of his mouth.

Sweets just grinned at him, making him either want to pop him a good one or give him a wedgie.

He wasn't sure which, yet.

Booth looked back at Brennan, curiously.

"How exactly can you have a sixteen year old as your assistant?" he wanted to know.

"He's a doctoral candidate, Booth," Brennan explained. "He has a Bachelor's Degree and Master's Degree in Forensic pathology."

"You're kidding," Booth said, blinking at the kid. "When I was sixteen the only thing I thought about were girls and football."

"Oh, I think about girls," Seth said, smirking. "They actually dig a super smart guy—which I am, by the way."

"He's a genius," Brennan stated the obvious, as she was prone to do.

"So are you," Booth reminded her, grinning, "but you didn't have your degree at sixteen."

"Only because no one recognized my potential sooner," Brennan explained. "Seth's was discovered at the age of ten."

"You see," Seth explained, "I graduated from high school when I was thirteen. I had my Bachelor's at fourteen and my Master's at fifteen."

"And now, you're earning your doctorate," Booth nodded, understanding. "You're folks must be real proud, I guess."

"I suppose they would if I had any," Seth told him, quietly. "I was abandoned as a baby."

"Oh, man," Sweets said, "I'm sorry."

Booth nodded in agreement with him.

Seth shrugged. "It's okay," he said. "I don't need parents, anyway."

Booth frowned at that. Every body needed somebody, after all.

"Where do you live?" he asked, curiously.

Genius or not, the boy was underage so he had to have a guardian or something.

"At the moment, here," Seth said, quietly.

"Cool," Sweets said, smiling. "I'd so totally love living here."

"You would," Booth muttered. "Bones, can we talk?"

"Of course," Brennan told him. "Let's go to my office. Seth, why don't you continue the initial exam while I speak with Agent Booth?"

"Of course, Dr. Brennan," the boy said, smiling, "I'd be happy to."

"Uh, Dr. Brennan," Sweets held up his hand like he was in a classroom. "Just out of curiosity why did you ask me down here?"

Brennan blinked at him.

"To meet Seth, of course," she told him. "I thought—given the closeness of your ages—you two would have a lot in common."

Booth snorted. "You set up a play date for the kids," he said, chuckling. "Well, wasn't that sweet."

"I'm may be underage, Agent Booth," Seth told him, "but I am not a kid."

"Ditto," Sweets said, "at least about the not being a kid thing—I am twenty-two, you know."

"Right," Booth said, clearly letting them know what he thought of that. "Bones."

With that, he headed for her office.

She followed, closing the door behind them.

"Where on earth did he come from?" Booth asked, pointing out her office window at Seth.

"He applied for the position, Booth," Brennan told him. "I liked him, so I chose him."

"Bones," Booth said, sighing, "that kid should be out chasing girls, worrying about acne, and roller-blading—not getting a doctorate in forensic pathology."

"Why not?" Brennan asked, puzzled.

"Because he's a kid, Bones," Booth said, exasperated.

Explaining real world concepts to a genius scientist could sometimes be like pulling teeth.

"He's not a 'normal' kid, Booth," Brennan reminded him.

"Neither was Zack and look what happened to him," Booth told her, pointedly.

A sad look clouded Brennan's eyes and he knew he'd gone too far.

That particular wound was still very much open for all of them…

He sighed. "All I'm saying," He told her, "is that if he stays here and works for you—he's never going to be ready to face the real world."

"Why not?" Brennan asked, puzzled. "The rest of us do just fine."

"Uh huh," Booth said, giving her a pointed look.

"Bones, the only ones here who actually try to function in the real world are Cam and Angela—and she's slowly getting Hodgins there. You and Sweets, however, I'm still working on."

"The real world is overrated," Brennan told him, rolling her eyes.

"No, it's reality," Booth told her, "and that kid out there isn't ready for it yet. I mean, look at him."

"That's simply how he expresses himself," Brennan said, referring to the boy's taste in clothes. "Teenagers commonly rail against society's norms."

"It's called rebelling, Bones," Booth said, "and most kids rebel against their parents—not society."

"Not all kids have parents," Brennan reminded him. Another still open wound…

"So, why exactly is he living here?" he asked, curiously. "Is he emancipated or something?"

"Not exactly," Brennan said. "He was in the foster care system, but when he started college—the university accepted responsibility for him."

"He had an entire university as his legal guardian?" Booth asked, frowning.

"The administration, Booth," she explained. "And now that he is working here…"

"Don't tell me," Booth guessed, "the Jeffersonian is now his legal guardian."

"Actually," Brennan said, "I am—since I'm the one hiring him."

"You!?" Booth exclaimed. "You don't know the first thing about teenagers, Bones."

"I know that," Brennan told him, "which is why I asked you to come down here."

"Huh?" Booth said, puzzled.

"He obviously can't actually stay here," Brennan said, "and he can't live with me—my place is too small. You, however, have a third bedroom and I thought, maybe…?"

"You want me to ask the kid to come live with me!" Booth exclaimed, heatedly.

"Just temporarily," Brennan said. "More than likely, he'll want to get a place of his own."

"He's not ready to get a place of his own," Booth growled. "That's what I've been trying to tell you!"

Brennan sighed. Booth's habit of clinging to the illogical gave her a headache at times.

"Please, Booth," she pleaded with him. "He's good—really good. I've been working with him all morning. He's still has a lot to learn, of course, but that's why he's here. Zack wasn't even as knowledgeable when he first started here."

"Is that what this is about?" Booth asked her, gently. "You're still blaming yourself for what happened to Zack, so you're trying to make up for it with this kid?"

"No," Brennan told him, firmly. "He applied and I liked what I saw in his application—his age wasn't even a factor for me."

"That's just it. It is a factor, Bones," Booth told her. "He's a child."

"He's an adolescent," Brennan stated, firmly. "There's a difference."

"No, there isn't," Booth argued, stubbornly.

"Please," Brennan asked again, hoping he'd see reason.

"Look at it this way, you have experience with children—you could teach him about the real world so that he will be ready to face it."

Booth sighed. She'd definitely been hanging around Sweets too long. The kid was starting to rub off on her.

"I guess somebody should," he said, shaking his head. "You owe me for this, Bones."

"I'll buy our next round of drinks after our next case," she promised him, smiling.

Just then, Booth's cell phone rang and he answered it.

"We'll be right there," he said, after listening for a minute.

He glanced at Brennan. "Speaking of our next case…"

She nodded, understanding. "I'll get the equipment," she said.

"And I'll get the kid," Booth said, sighing. "I'll think about it, okay? We'll see how he does out in the field first."

"Don't worry," she told him, "he really is good."

Booth knew she rarely handed out compliments so this kid must be really special indeed.

"He'd better be," he told her, and then strolled out to inform Seth they had to get to a crime scene.

"Hey, what's up?" Angela, Brennan's best friend, asked her curiously as she entered her office.

"Case," Brennan said, gathering the gear she would need. "Booth's agreed to house Seth—at least he's considering it."

"That's great," Angela said, glancing to where Booth and the boy stood. "Oh, wow."

Brennan glanced up. "What is it?" she asked, curiously.

"With them standing side by side like that," Angela said, "Booth and Seth look a lot alike, don't you think?"

Brennan studied the two males and shrugged. "Coincidence," she said, simply.

"Or maybe not…" Angela whispered, watching as she headed over to the two of them and they headed out to the crime scene.

Her instincts were tingling.

And her instincts were rarely wrong.