A/N: I know this has been done before, but this wouldn't leave me alone so I hope you'll put up with me while I write this. This is also my first case fic so I'd love getting your feedback on this as well. I like to think I know what I'm talking about. I did take a forensic anthropology class last semester but it was just an introductory class so I may need some help. Please let me know what you think!
"So where was the body found exactly?"
"The body was found in the storage shed hidden behind the rakes and lawn mower. Not quite fully decomposed apparently."
"Who found it?"
"Neighbor who needed to borrow a hose, apparently."
"Who is it?"
"Jeez, Bones, what's with the third degree? Calm down, I'm getting there. Neighbor ID'd the body as Thomas Kerr. Lived with his daughter…"
"Where is she?"
"Bones, she's missing. FBI techs searched the house and they can't find her."
The partners were sitting in Booth's SUV, driving to the scene on the outskirts of suburban D.C. Brennan sighed. Placing her elbow on the armrest, she pinched the bridge of her nose in frustration with one hand while taking the preliminary case file from Booth with the other.
"Thomas Kerr," she repeated out loud, "forty-seven, widower. Wife died in a single-car accident twelve years ago. Their daughter was three when the accident occurred."
"Hadley Kerr, fifteen. There's an Amber alert out for her, but we don't know much so it may not be much use. Caucasian female, about five and a half feet tall, long brown hair, and blue eyes. That's what we got from the neighbor," Booth finished for her.
They pulled up to the small, modest house, now bustling with crime scene techs and junior agents all helping out with the case. Booth led her to the body, which Cam was already hovering over the remains.
"This is definitely your area of expertise, Dr. Saroyan," Dr. Brennan used as a greeting. She was right. The body had too much flesh for her.
"Well, I'm pretty much done with my examination here. After I'm done with the autopsy at the lab, give it forty-eight hours…more or less…and you can have the bones after the beetles are done with it," Cam bargained.
Brennan simply nodded and started to walk away.
"Hold up! You find anything interesting, Cam?" Booth asked.
"It looks like our victim was beaten over the head with something and then stomped on. These are definite footprints," she said, pointing to the impressions on his chest, "I'll have Angela try to match the exact shoe brand and size. There are some particulates in the prints I'm going to have Hodgins pull."
"Got it," Booth said, taking notes on his small notepad, "Thanks, Camille."
"No problem, Seeley."
"Ooh-kay, Bones, you ready to go question the neighbor?" Booth cried out, not realizing his partner was no longer by his side. Cam chuckled a bit to herself.
"Bones, where'd ya go?" Booth ran around the small property, finally catching up to her as she stood over a small door in the ground.
She didn't say anything but only gave him a smug look.
"What's that?" he asked.
"It's a storm shelter."
"Did the FBI techs look for the girl in here?"
Booth gave her a knowing look and pulled open the storm shelter door. Hadley looked up at them and wiggled back farther back into her spot in the corner of the small shelter.
"Dad's dead, isn't he?"
The partners looked at each other, neither knowing what to say to the girl. She didn't seem scared, but she wasn't about to willing leave the safety of the storm shelter either.
Booth yelled to one of the junior agents to have the Amber alert canceled and have an ambulance called. The girl was safe, for the most part.
"It seems that way. We're going to confirm with dental records but it does seem that your father is dead. I'm so sorry, Hadley," Brennan said.
"Well, can you just say that you never found me or something? I don't have any family. And I'm not going to an orphanage or whatever they do with kids like me."
To Booth's surprise, she didn't seem too affected by the admission that it was her father in the storage shed.
"You'll go to foster care," Booth told her, and Brennan flinched at the mention of the system. She was the same age as the girl when she went in. Booth knew it was going to be a difficult case for them. He was going to struggle with this one to the end.
Hadley didn't answer and she didn't move from her spot.
"Hadley, I need you to come with us. I need you to answer some questions with us about your dad so we can catch his murderer."
There was some more silence for a while between the three, Hadley staring between Booth and Brennan and Booth and Brennan staring between each other.
Booth pulled her off to the side, out of Hadley's sight.
"I need you to go down into that shelter and talk to her."
"'Cause you're a chick. And…you were in the system and you turned out just fine."
Brennan gave him a warning look and Booth knew he had to tread lightly.
"Bones," he tried again after she didn't answer, "Hadley might know something. We need to talk to her."
Brennan sighed. She knew he was right. She would have to be the one to get Hadley out of the storm shelter. Tentatively, she walked to the shelter and slowly made her way down the narrow stairs. It was an industrial storm shelter, one seen mainly on Army bases. It was solid and made of study metal. One wall behind the stairs had a small shelving unit full of canned food, blankets and a few rechargeable flashlights.
"I could've survived down here until everyone left, you know," Hadley told her, when she saw Brennan looking at the shelves. "I was just going to hide out and wait 'til people left. I was used to being on my own."
Brennan sat down on one of the lowest steps to talk to Hadley. Booth was getting impatient. He was pacing around the opening of the shelter door, listening to their conversation without looking like he was eavesdropping.
"Why were used to being alone?"
"It was always just me and my dad. Dad worked a lot," Hadley told her, "He was a construction worker. He worked a lot of late nights too. Sometimes, I'd already be in bed when he got home. He'd leave me money for groceries and I'd have to stop on my way home from school. I don't mind being alone, but I'd rather stay here. Can't I stay here?"
That's when the tears finally came that Booth had been waiting for. Hadley started crying and he expected Brennan to run for the hills. But instead, she stood from the step she had planted herself on and plopped down on the blankets next to Hadley, pulling the girl as close as possible. As Hadley cried on her shoulder, Brennan looked up at Booth. They exchanged glances for a short moment until he walked away, leaving the two abandoned women alone.
It was a while before the two finally came out of the storm shelter. Brennan walked with Hadley, who was furiously wiping away tears from her face, to the ambulance to be checked out.
"I'm fine," Hadley insisted as the medics checked her over, "I knew the cops wouldn't let me stay here so I hid. I didn't hide from anyone. I'm not hurt."
"I'll be right back, Hadley," Brennan promised. She walked the short distance to Booth's car to where he was standing.
"She okay?" he asked.
"Physically or mentally?" Brennan pushed.
"Physically, nothing's wrong with her but she has to be checked out. Mentally…I don't blame her for wanting to stay here. I didn't want to leave my house either."
"She is kinda like you, Bones. She does seem kinda stubborn," Booth joked. Brennan only half smiled at him.
"You okay, Bones?"
She didn't answer, but kept fidgeting with her hands.
"I need your help, Booth. I think I made another promise I can't keep."
Booth raised his eyebrows at her and opened his mouth to say something but nothing came out. Brennan looked at him.
"I told her she could stay with me."