A/N: I searched high and low, but could find no information on Booth's mother, so the following is pure conjecture. It's a clichéd picture, I'll admit, and I sincerely apologize for the lower quality of writing. But it fits with my notion of why Booth needs to protect people so much. (I'm not sure how much older Booth is than Jared, so I estimated, just as I estimated Booth's childhood to be in the mid-70s.) I'm concerned enough about the clichéd writing that I'm actually afraid to ask for reviews on this one! If you do review, feel free to be constructive. I take feedback very well. Just be kind while you're at it. :0)

Brennan watched his large frame sink against the wall.

"I was all into Stretch Armstrong at the time, and my mom was making mini-Stretch and Fetch cupcakes for my birthday."

She had no idea who or what Stretch Armstrong was and filed the question away for a later conversation.

"I was supposed to be watching Jared, but there was a Batman marathon on TV and that was more interesting than babysitting my kid brother."

"Russ and I used to argue over television," she offered in an attempt to commiserate. "I wanted to watch scientific documentaries, whereas he was more inclined toward animated renditions of mono-dimensional characters with frequently puerile intentions …" she trailed off at the amused look on Booth's face.

"Cartoons, Bones. They're called cartoons. I thought you said you liked the Smurfs."

"They were interesting from an anthropological standpoint," she huffed. "And I apologize for interrupting when you specifically asked me to listen."

He closed his eyes and continued as though she had never spoken. "Next thing you know, I hear Mom yelling for us to come help set the table for lunch, Dad's coming home early. I start looking for Jared so I won't get in trouble, but he's nowhere in the house, so I go outside."

Booth's voice took on an unfamiliar, hoarse quality.

"I wander around the yard for a few minutes before I finally see my three-year old brother, about to cross the street on his own. Usually the streets are pretty safe, but right now there's this unfamiliar car coming towards him at top speed."

He paused for a long moment, fists tightly clenched at the memory.

"I think I scream—I don't remember—and start running towards him. Suddenly I'm in the street, Jared's crying underneath me, and Mom's on top of both of us, bleeding like crazy."

He turned and stared at her, unfocused, as though he was seeing something beside her silhouette. "I woke up in the hospital three days later, wrapped in bandages. Jared was fine, with a neighbor. A nurse said Mom was dead. And Dad was stone drunk, passed out beside me."

Pain glittered deep in his eyes and Hank's words came flooding back to Brennan.

He's big and strong. But he's gonna need someone. Everyone needs someone. Don't be scared.