This one's a little different than the Bones fandom is probably used to. I've been kind of blocked lately, so I figured I might as well through Booth and Bones into a life I'm pretty caught up in myself--college. I think a younger, less jaded Brennan and a less assured Booth might make a startlingly appropriate pair. This is definitely an AU story. Please let me know what you think... it's been awhile since I've posted anything at all. I'm getting all jittery!

The phone buzzed in his pocket, rattling him from his somewhat doze in front of his schoolbooks. Checking the name, Booth flipped open the phone and checked the name—Ryan Finley—one of his hockey teammates.

"Hey," Booth answered, mindful of his sleeping little brother in the room with him. "What's up, man?"

Drunken laughs drifted through the speakers, and Booth perked up somewhat, a frown crossing his face. If he had to play designated driver one more time… damn, he told them he was taking the night off. He liked to drink as much as the rest of – actually, no that was a lie. No one liked to drink as much as some of his teammates. Regardless, it was a Thursday and his Abnormal Psych test tomorrow was going to be hell.

"Look Booth, that chick… you know, your lab tutor? The hot one?"

His jaw clenched, which took him by surprise. It wasn't like he wasn't used to his teammates speaking about women like that. The gentlemen of the Juniper Valley hockey team weren't always gentlemen. And neither was he.

"What about her, Finley?" He must have spat out the words a bit more vehemently than normal, because Finley let out a bark of laughter.

"Cool it, Booth. But I think you might need to get over here to Colton's house, pronto."

"Why's that?"

"Science chick is only like… what, 20? Freaking youngest grad student ever?"

"Temperance Brennan. Her name is Brennan. But yes, she's a graduate student. Smartest damn twenty-year-old ever, though. A hell of a lot smarter than me, and I've got two years on her. Why… is something wrong?"

Finley's voiced sobered somewhat, and he lowered his voice to mutter into the cell. "Just get over here, Booth."

Booth curled the girl up against his chest, his heart breaking as took in her kiss-bruised lips and ripped blouse.

"Honey," he called softly, gently. "Honey, did he… hurt you?" The question tasted bitter on his tongue. Brennan gave him an alcohol clouded gaze and rested her head against his chest, her dark lashes fanning her cheeks in an exhausted slump.

"Tired, Booth," she mumbled, her fingers clutching weakly at the T-shirt covering his chest.

"I know, sweetheart," he murmured, carefully checking her body for telltale signs or bruises that would prove he had been too late. He checked the snap of her jeans, relieved to find them buttoned and zipped, her pale stomach free of the telling bruises. He put her in the front seat of his car, reaching across her body to buckle her seatbelt securely before slumping behind the wheel of his ancient Toyota and booking it out of fraternity row.

He brought her back to his apartment, kicking open the grimy door with his foot when it stuck, and carrying her in his arms. Jared was asleep in one of Booth's old T-shirts, his arm hanging off the side of the twin bed. The apartment was no more than one shabby room, partially sectioned off by the artfully placed furniture.

Booth slept in the double bed on the other side of the cramped room and he laid Brennan down on the hunter green sheets, slipping her high heels off her petite feet. Pulling his comforter to her chin, Booth adjusted her head so she wouldn't get a crick in her neck and then stood, watching her for a few precious seconds.

Temperance "I-don't-know-what-that-means" Brennan. At a fraternity party. Drinking heavily and being mauled by some punk ass frat boys. Booth scowled violently at the thought, forever thankful for the phone call that had alerted him to her plight.

After going to the kitchen and draining a glass of lukewarm tap water, he moved over to where Jared slept, stroking his hair for a second. "Hey bud," he said softly, "move over." Jared just snorted slightly in his sleep, and Booth picked him up, insinuating his larger body behind his younger brother and curling Jared up in front of him. He was so small he barely took up any room, while Booth's feet hung off the edge. Booth laid his head on his bicep, letting Jared curl up with the pillow as he watched Brennan from across the room.

He wasn't sure what he was going to say to her in the morning, but he'd be damned if he regretted pulling her out of that party. She had been twenty seconds away from drunken sexual assault.

His freaking forensics tutor. His eyes burned as he stared across the room, unable to keep the image of the oversized jock's hands pawing at her nearly unconscious body.

She was just a kid, Booth swore softly, his hands clenching in the sheet. About four years ahead of him in school, and two years younger than he was.


Too damn young.

She was already in graduate school, fulfilling some of the final requirements for her degree plan by keeping a tutor's position in her chosen field, forensic anthropology. His hockey coach had threatened him with expulsion from the team if he didn't start making Cs in his forensics and biology classes, some of the degree requirements for his degree in criminology.

Wide-awake after the adrenaline from the party, a wry grin shifted the grimace off his face as he thought about the dysfunctional relationship he and the girl a bed away shared. When he had shown up for tutoring, cocky and ready to charm the pants off her, she had merely looked down that patrician nose at him and called him Mr. Booth, firmly ignoring all attempts at levity.

She called him Mr. Booth, which he hated, and he called her Temperance, which she disliked, until they had finally agreed to call each other by their surnames only.

Yeah, their relationship was quirky and dysfunctional, but his grades were improving and she had begun to actually grasp the concept of fun.

Obviously, a little too well, he thought, his thoughts turning troubling again at the thought of her torn blouse and bruised breasts. The thought sent him tensing again, his head starting to pound. Jesus Christ. She was the epitome of a science geek, and yet so beautiful it made his heart hurt. Their tutoring sessions had been brutal at first, full of an oddly freeing bickering as she picked apart his papers and he ruffled her carefully arranged feathers.

Booth's eyes slitted shut, just as Jared shifted against his side and nestled his head against Booth's shoulder. Booth glanced down at his little brother, his throat closing up slightly when he saw the silvery tear tracks down his brother's face.

"Wake up, bud," Booth whispered, giving him a gentle shake. "Jared, wake up."

The nine-year-old came awake with a start, sniffling and then wiping his nose and eyes on Booth's shirt. "Is Dad home yet?" Jared whispered in a hoarse voice.

"No, bud," Booth replied solemnly, using a hand to rub soothing circles on his little brother's back.

"Good," Jared said softly, relaxing his head back on the pillow, brown hair spiky and matted. The moonlight coming in from the small window glanced off pale skin and a sweaty, freckled face. "Who's that?" He jerked one small shoulder backward, motioning toward Brennan's sleeping figure in his big brother's bed.

Booth paused for a minute, unsure of how to proceed. "My… friend."

"What's she doing here?"

"I think she got a little tired, so I went to go pick her up."

"Is she nice?"

"Yeah, bud, she's really nice," Booth said, the sound of a smile creeping into his voice. "She likes to study bones."

Jared let out a gasp and broke out into a wide-toothed grin. "Bones? Really? Wow. People bones? Like the skeletons from Skeletor Meets Dracula, Part II?"

Booth cuffed him gently on the shoulder. "I thought you were asleep when I was watching that!"

"Duh. No."

Jared was silent for a minute before swallowing hard.

"Tell me the story again, Seeley."

The humorous glimmer left Booth's eyes as he settled down deeper into the bed, resting his head on his forearm. "Okay, bud, but then go to sleep."

"Right, okay, just start."

Booth took a breath, wondering for the umpteenth time if repeating this story was healthy for his baby brother. God, he was at such a loss here. Regardless, sometimes it was the only thing that put Jared back to sleep on nights when he woke with tears in his eyes, and so Booth continued to tell it.

"Once upon a time there was a beautiful Queen who lived in the coolest castle ever. There was a Nintendo in every room, and pizza on the menu every night." Booth watched as a smile grew on Jared's face, even as he shut his eyes.

"The Queen had two sons, and the whole castle loved the little princes. There was a big prince and a little prince, and they were the best of friends," Booth said softly. "The older prince attended school in town, but still came home to visit his younger brother. They loved to play games in the castle and everyone loved them both. But not all was well in the castle. One night there was a collision between the Queen's carriage and a neighboring carriage. The Queen was hurt very badly and the King and his two sons were very, very sad. Time was running out for the Queen, but she made sure that the two princes knew what good boys they were and how much she loved them."

Jared's raspy voice piped in, quivering a little. "But the princes weren't scared, right?"

Booth nodded, ruffling his little brother's hair. "No, they weren't scared because they knew that their mom was just going to take a trip to see Jesus, and that she'd always watch over them. She even said the princes could talk to her if they were ever feeling scared or alone."

Jared nodded, even as he sniffled into Booth's shirt. "Tell me about the princes."

"The older one loved his little brother, and they were always having fun adventures," Booth continued, his voice low. "Even when the King left them, they stuck together. The littler prince knew that his big brother would never leave him."

"Why did the King leave?" Jared asked, even though he had heard Booth tell the story a hundred times before.

"When the Queen passed away, the King grew very angry and couldn't look at his sons without being reminded of the her. This made him very sad."

"So he left," Jared finished, slightly forlorn.

"Yeah, but the little prince knew that he would never be alone," Booth soothed, smoothing down Jared's ruffled hair. "His mom promised him she'd watch over him, and his big brother won't ever leave him."

"They'll keep having fun adventures," Jared murmured sleepily, curling against Booth.

"Yeah, we will, bud," Booth whispered, listening as Jared's breathing evened out in sleep. "Promise."

Temperance Brennan woke groggily to the jackhammering pain in her head, disorientation and the feeling that someone was watching her.

Ouch. First hangover. Unpleasant. She filed that away for future notice, half-heartedly making a note to study the exact chemical process in the brain. She barely remembered last night. Cracking an eye open, sunlight flooded her vision and she groaned, slamming it shut again.

"Hello?" an unfamiliar voice spoke near her ear. A very young voice. What the hell?

Her eyes flew open and she pushed past the rocketing pain in her skull to stare at the little boy in front of her.

She blinked at the little boy like she'd never seen one before. Reaching a hand under her body, she pushed herself up to a halfway sitting position, noticing with widening eyes and a sense of dread that she most certainly was not in her own bed.

"Who are you?" She rasped out, taking in the little boy and then more broadly, the room behind him. The kid had the skinny, lean look of a scrappy puppy, with big eyes, a cute face and a shock of messy brown hair. The room, on the other hand, was anything but cute, though at first glance it was at least clean. Where the heck was she?

What had she done last night?

The kid just stared at her, lifting one side of his mouth in a crooked grin that revealed a dimple in his cheek. "I'm Jared," he finally said, jumping up on the bed next to her. "Seeley's gonna be back soon. He left for early morning practice, but he comes back to take me to school at 9. It's only 8. Want to watch cartoons?"

Seeley? As in Seeley Booth? The conceited, bullheaded jock? She didn't know any other Seeley. How the hell had she gotten into his bed? Had she had sexual relations with that insufferable… man?

An unfamiliar sense of panic flooded her system, and she fell back on the bed, curling up within herself. She'd be able to feel it if she wasn't a virgin anymore, right? She'd feel different. The hunter green sheets were cool and soft on her flushed skin, and they smelled like him. Oh God.

Okay, okay. She was an empiricist. She didn't make rash conclusions with a study of all the facts available.

Fact # 1: She was in yesterday's clothes. She drew a sigh of relief. Why would Booth have sex with her and then dress her back up in her clothes? That would not be rational.

She scowled. Rational wasn't a word she'd use to describe that infuriating man. It was the worst sort of insult.

Fact # 2: She was in Seeley Booth's bed.

She pushed that one to the end of the list.

Fact # 3: Her breasts felt oddly tender, and a spot on her ribcage felt like it might be bruised.

A glimpse of herself tossing back shots flashed through her mind. Hot fire down her throat, blue eyes boring into her. Then, a hand with golden-tinged arm hair at the buttons of her blouse. White teeth and a bruising mouth.

She jerked herself from that train of thought, a tear leaking from the corner of her eyes to the pillow.

Chase Duranceau.

Chase had invited her to that party. Chase Duranceau, the best-looking boy in her organic chemistry class, so witty and popular. With those intense blue eyes and even white teeth…

"What's wrong?" The little boy interrupted her musings, and Brennan couldn't believe she had almost forgotten his quiet presence next to her on the bed. The kid saw the tears in her eyes, and his own brown eyes widened.

"Don't cry, Bones, don't cry!"


"I'm sorry, Jared?" She whispered, trying to keep her facts straight above the pounding in her head. "What did you call me?"

"Bones. All Seeley told me was that you worked with bones. So, Bones. Don't cry, Bones. Please. Seeley will be back soon and he'll fix what's wrong," Jared was looking at her earnestly, as only a nine-year-old could. "Or tell me. I'll help you."

"Boo—Seeley will be home soon?" She finally grasped the gist of what the little boy was saying to her. Brennan sat up, shaking her head to clear the cobwebs. "I need to go. Thank you, Jared."

She was looking around for her heels when Jared let out a cry of dismay at her words. "You're leaving? But Bones, don't you want to see Seeley? He brought you here last night. You were pretty tired."

"No… no, I need to leave," Brennan said, finally spotting her heels neatly lined up at the foot of the bed. A sense of urgency propelled her to them, and she jammed them on her feet before heading to the door.

She made the mistake of glancing back at the boy, who looked about ready to cry himself. Damn.

"Is it because I woke you up?" the little boy murmured softly, digging his toe into the carpet. "'Cause I'm sorry. I just wanted to talk to you. Seeley never brings home any girls."

Heaving a sigh, Brennan turned away from the door. "Jared, no, of course not. I'm not mad at you. I just need to leave."

A thought occurred to her that maybe Jared had more insight into what happened last night than she did. She thought about putting the issue delicately, but unfortunately, bluntly was all that came out.

"Jared," she hesitated and then blundered on. "When did I get here?"

Pleased with a question to answer and her apparent acquiescence to stay, Jared beamed at her, and patted the seat next to him on the bed. As she moved back toward that terrifying bed, her quick mind took in the ancient looking kitchen in one corner, and the two beds shoved up against opposite walls. A battered chest of drawers separated the two, and part of the floor was taken up by a spray of little green army men and a peeling checkerboard.

"Well, I was supposed to be asleep but Seeley's phone woke me up really late last night," Jared began. "He was still awake doing his homework, but he was pretty mad. He left the apartment and I went back to sleep. But he woke me up when he came to sleep in my bed with me. He let you have his, even though he's way too big for my bed and you're awfully little," Jared said, a little surprised at this apparent lack of foresight on his older brother's behalf. "You really should have just shared his bed. It's big enough."

Brennan digested this information, an unpleasant picture forming in her mind. She vaguely remembered Booth now, and the terrible fury on his face as he pulled Chase—Chase!—off of her.

How stupid could she be? How naïve to think that Chase Duranceau was really interested in getting to know her better. A hot flush of embarrassment covered her cheeks, along with a healthy tinge of anger.

Just then, a key sounded in the lock, and Brennan's stomach dropped to her feet.

Booth was back.