Author's Note: This was originally intended to be a novel-length story, but I've already got two sequels planned to The Senator in the Scarecrow. This had to either get shortened or put on the back-burner and risk never getting written. So I shortened it. I hope you all enjoy this!

Burdens Which Allow Us To Fly

Temperance sat by herself in the house, one light burning against the darkness. Her mother and father had left twelve hours ago to go Christmas shopping, and they had not returned. She was terrified, but completely still, her arms wrapped around her legs. When was it time to call the police? Was she supposed to do that already? Surely if they had died, someone would have come to tell her already. Or maybe they were waiting for Russ, just like she was.

On the radio, someone sang softly about the joys of Christmases past, and Temperance watched one star ornament on their tree twist lazily back and forth, in perpetual motion. Some force was acting on it. Some force outside of its control pushed it this way and that. Temperance could relate.

One tear escaped from her eyes and she brushed it away impatiently. It was irrational to be upset before she knew precisely what she was upset about. All she knew was that it was nearly midnight, it was nearly Christmas, and she was completely alone with the thoughts in her head.

She could light a fire in the fireplace. That might be nice, she thought, something else to focus her attention on. Something else to occupy her thoughts.

Suddenly there was a knock on her door. She jumped up, her heart racing, and walked in stockinged feet to the door, standing on tip-toe to see who it was. Uniforms. Blue hats, badges. The erratic beat of her heart was painful, now, like someone was trying to force that organ out of her body. She opened the door.

"Are you Ms. Temperance Brennan?" A kind-looking older officer asked her, his grey eyes full of sympathy. She nodded silently. "Can we come in?"

The next few minutes would never be quite clear in Temperance's memory. She remembered "murdered". She remembered "parties unknown". And she remembered the look in their eyes when they told her they had to take her to emergency foster care until her brother could get to Illinois from Fort Bragg.

She climbed the stairs to her room and packed a bag, too numb to feel anything just yet. She selected the teddy bear her father had given her when she'd had her tonsils removed, pajamas, a set of clothes and a tooth brush. Then, for several minutes, she sat on her bed, trying to think of what else she might need.

Without conscious thought, she got to her feet, closed her door and entered her parents' room. The inner sanctum – she and Russ hadn't been allowed in here without permission. She wondered, idly, what it would be like to really feel the grief that was expected of her. For the moment, however, she anticipated her parents walking in the door at any moment, the gentle look in her mother's eye, the warmth of her father's hand. They couldn't be really gone. They were too solidly permanent.

Collapsing on the bed her parents had shared, the bed she could distinctly remember being granted permission to climb into on nights with big thunderstorms and monsters under the bed, she could smell her mother's shampoo and her father's aftershave. Her mother's book had a place marked in it on the nightstand and her father had forgotten to put on his watch. The sheets were cool but the pillows were deep and soft.

"Temperance?" The voice came from the door, and she lifted her head. An African American woman dressed in bold geometric shapes and gold earrings stood there. "I'm Mrs. Barrows, honey, I'm going to be your caseworker until your brother gets here and we make permanent arrangements."

"When did Russ say he would get here?" She almost did not recognize her own voice. It sounded distant, way too far away from wherever she actually was.

"He's coming as fast as he can. His commanding officer has already given him emergency leave. He could be here as soon as tomorrow morning." Mrs. Barrows looked around the room. "Is this your parents' room?"

"Yes. I'm not allowed in here." Temperance lifted herself from the mattress. "I shouldn't be in here. I'm going to get in trouble. Personal space is important."

"Temperance, sweetie, I think your parents would understand."

Temperance shook her head. "I don't want to get in trouble. We should go. It's irrational to stay here. They aren't coming back." Despite herself, there was a questioning tone to her voice, a need to hear someone else acknowledge the truth she was trying to process.

Mrs. Barrows seemed to know what she needed. "No, they aren't."

"Okay." Temperance pushed herself off of the bed and walked back to her room, grabbing the bag she'd set just inside the doorway and heading down the stairs, locking the door behind her with her key as she and Mrs. Barrows left.

Mrs. Barrows tried to engage her in conversation at the start of the car ride, but Temperance was already retreating back into herself. Back where it was quiet and undemanding and she could process what was happening to her.

It was a short ride, and Mrs. Barrows took Temperance's back for her and knocked on the door. "Mrs. Caruthers has two children with her now, but she has an extra bed. The other two are fairly young so they probably won't be awake when we get there."

Temperance nodded. It was all immaterial. A bed was a bed. She had no need to attach to people who wouldn't understand. They hadn't known Christine and Matthew Brennan – they couldn't understand what her loss felt like. No one would understand until Russ arrived.

Mrs. Caruthers was a kindly woman – slightly large, but goodhearted and kind. Her eyes were filled with tears of sympathy at Temperance's situation ("Good heavens! Murdered! You poor thing! I don't suppose they know... no, of course not. This ridiculous city we live in..."), and she was effusive and warm as she helped Temperance get settled in a starkly clean room. There was a quilt on the bed, the kind you ordered from Sears. The sheets were scratchy and cool, and the pillows were filled with down, which made Temperance want to sneeze, but when the door closed, she knew no one would disturb her. She was finally allowed to be alone.

She turned the light off, though she had no intention of sleeping. Light streamed in from a streetlamp just outside her window and she studied her hands in front of her eyes. Turning them this way and that. For the last year or so, she'd privately thought they were far too large for the arms they were attached to – disproportionate like the rest of her. Awkward and gangly. Clumsy.

Her mother had scoffed at such thoughts. Temperance hadn't thought yet that there wouldn't be anyone around anymore to tell her she was beautiful, to go shopping for the prom dress she wasn't sure she wanted to buy, to talk her into going to dances, to help her figure out the people around her who always seemed so complicated and irrational. Russ had been good at that stuff before, but then he'd enlisted in the Army when they'd come to her high school. She'd done considerable research on the Army and the methods they used to train soldiers. Maybe they had completely reprogrammed her brother.

They wrote back and forth, of course, and he still sounded the same, but aside from a short leave after he completed his basic training, she hadn't seen him in months. What would he want to do with her? Her heart raced at the thought of being left in places like this, with people she didn't know. She wasn't good with people. Wasn't good at making friends. Wasn't good at all of the little things other people seemed to grasp instinctively. She constantly had to be explained, constantly had to be translated for. In foster care, with no one who knew her...


That was the first thing she really felt. How profoundly and absolutely she was alone. A rare feeling swept over her, because she did not normally crave human contact, but she was losing the feeling of reality – Descartes principle of thinking being equal to being was no comfort. She felt disembodied, detached – her consciousness separate from her body. Unreal.

She threw off the covers and opened the door, walking to the top of the stairs, where she could hear voices. Mr. Caruthers, she would guess, had come home, and they were speaking about her, these people who didn't know her who were giving her sanctuary for the night.

"...all alone in the world, poor thing. They say she's got a brother..."

"How old is he?"

"Nineteen, if you can believe it. Insists he can take care of her, of course there's not a blessed thing Mrs. Barrows can do about that..."

"...Could barely take care of myself at nineteen. Can't imagine having to add a burden like a fifteen-year-old girl at that age..."

"She's an odd thing, hardly talks."

"Don't know how much I would talk if I'd just lost both of my parents, Jeanine."

"You're right, of course. Letting my mouth get away without consulting my brain again..."

Temperance laid her head against her knees, and bit her lip in thought. She didn't want to be a burden to Russ, but then she didn't want to be left here, either. The two Caruthers talked for a few minutes more, and then the light in the kitchen went out, and Temperance surmised that they were going to bed. With heavy feet and a heavy heart, she climbed back in her bed, her eyes heavy. She felt a little like someone had taken an ice cream scoop to her emotional center and removed everything there.

Almost as soon as her eyes closed, she was asleep, lost in the slumber of the exhausted.

The next morning, her eyes sprung open, and she had no idea where she was. For a few blissful moments, she was Tempe Brennan, ordinary teenager, with two very alive parents. Then the smell of the down in her pillow, the harshness of the sheets, the bright, unfiltered light of morning through the small window reminded her of the truth.

She was slowly sitting up when she heard it.


Her heart raced. "Polo!" she called, her voice weak with sleep.

Somehow, though, he heard, and her door flew open. His hair was shorter and he had bulked up some, but he was still her brother; he was still her Russ. And he was ithere/i and his eyes were the same and she launched herself out of bed and clung to him, burying her head in the crook of Russ's neck and inhaling the scent of him.

"Are you ready to get out of here, Tempe?" He asked her, his voice lower than she'd remembered it. She nodded. "Okay, then, grab your stuff. We can have breakfast at the house. Let's just... get out of here, all right?"

"Okay." Temperance nodded and slipped her feet into her sneakers without socks, and twisted her hair up in a bun. She tossed her clothes from the night before into the bag and didn't bother changing out of her pajamas. Taking her brother's hand like a child, she let him lead her from the room. They walked down the stairs to the foyer, where Mrs. Caruthers and Mr. Caruthers stood waiting.

"You don't have to rush off," Mrs. Caruthers said gently. "You could stay for breakfast."

Russ looked out of the corner of his eye at Temperance's set mouth. "No, thank you. The offer is very kind, but Tempe and I have a lot to do at home to get ready for whatever comes next."

"I understand you're an Army man?"

"Yessir," Russ said, inclining his head at Mr. Caruther's question. "I'm a mechanic."

"Must have driven all night to get here from Fort Bragg."

Russ shrugged. "I didn't want Tempe in care any longer than she had to be."

Temperance grinned at him, ducking her head. "Thanks, Russ," she said softly.

"Well, we're going to take off," Russ said, dropping Tempe's hand and reaching out to shake Mr. Caruthers' hand. "Thank you so much for opening your home up to her, Mr and Mrs. Caruthers. We appreciate it more than we can say."

"Thank you," Temperance agreed politely.

"You know, the system's not all that bad," Mrs. Caruthers said, as the door opened. "It's very difficult, taking care of a teenager when you're just trying to figure your own life out."

Russ shook his head firmly. "We'll make that decision later. Right now, we've got other things to worry about."

Temperance felt something sink in her stomach. He hadn't told the Caruthers that she wasn't going into care... maybe that's what he thought was best. Still, he was pressing lightly on her back, so she would know to go outside, and so she did, walking out to his beat-up old Goat and throwing her bag in the back, sliding into the passenger seat.

Russ started the car and backed out, but didn't turn the radio on. That was odd, for him. Russ always had music going.

"Listen, Tempe, I've been thinking," he said over the roar of the engine, "I'm willing to do whatever you want to do. You're old enough to know what you want."

"Whatever I want?"

"If you want to go into foster care, then – then that would be okay. You could stay in Illinois, go to your same school. I'd come see you whenever I could. You don't have to uproot yourself."


"Or you can come with me. I've got a friend who lives off-base, he'd give us a place to stay until I get us an apartment. You'd have to go to school down there, and I don't make a lot of money, so... I mean, I'd do the best I could, Tempe, but it wouldn't be what you're used to."

"But we could stay together?"

"Yeah. We could stay together. Unless I got deployed – but we'd have to cross that bridge when we came to it."

Temperance nodded and looked out the window. "I find making new friends extremely difficult."

Russ looked at her levelly, balancing his attention between her and the road. "Yeah, you do, sometimes."

"But I really don't want to be alone." Tempe cleared her throat. "I don't want to be the only one around who remembers them."

"You don't have to decide right now, if you don't -"

"I'm coming with you." Temperance's voice was even, firm. No hesitation. "I want to come with you."

"Okay. I'm warning you, Tempe, lots of things are going to change really fast. I've only got 10 days. We're going to have to get the house ready to sell, box up the things we want to keep, and bury Mom and Dad, when they release the bodies to us."


Russ pulled in the driveway of the house and put the car in park, killing the engine. They both sat there for a long moment.

"It does not change the fact that our parents are gone if we sit here," Tempe began, in that awkward way she had, "yet I feel like if we don't go in then..."

"Then they won't really be gone, huh?"

"Did you see them?"

"Mom and Dad?" Russ shook his head. "They said it was pretty bad. I have to go in later today and confirm the identities."

Tempe reached over and took his hand. "I will go with you."

"Tempe, you really don't have..."

"They were my mom and dad too, Russ."

He drew in a shaky breath. "Yeah, but you shouldn't have to do that. You're a kid. You shouldn't have to see Mom and Dad..." He drew off, apparently seeing the unshakable resolve in her eye. "Well, we'll talk about it when we get there, okay?"


The next few days passed in a blur. They packed the house, marked things "keep" and "discard" – arranged to store some of their favorite pieces that were too big to drive back in the car with friends until Russ could borrow a truck and return to get them. Russ insisted they take the wrapped Christmas presents and the ornaments from the tree.

Temperance saved the most painful part for last. While Russ was checking to make sure everything was safe to go, Tempe went through her mother's jewelry. It was all big and bold – the kinds of things she thought she might be able to wear someday. She traced her fingers over brushed brass and bronze, fingered beads and woven chains.

"You should take all of that," Russ said from the doorway. He was dressed for the funeral in a suit of Army dress greens. He looked so – well, so old. And so serious. Temperance's eyes filled with tears. Everything around her was changing.

"Some of it isn't very valuable." Temperance shrugged. "But maybe we should sell some of the stuff that is?"

"We're going to be fine without having to pawn Mom's jewelry, Tempe, I promise. There was a little money left over from the life insurance. We'll make it." Russ sat on the floor next to her. "Besides, Dad gave Mom most of this stuff. Maybe someday we'll want to – you know. Pass it on."

Tempe's long fingers cradled a pair of leaping dolphin earrings. "Maybe I can wear these?"

"Yeah, sure. You want to wear them to the funeral?" Russ bent his head to catch her eyes with his own.

"Maybe. I... I can't get over..."

"You're allowed, okay? Mom would want you to remember her, and she would want you to wear the dolphins, so... put them on. And pack the rest of this stuff up. You should take all of it. We're going to have to cling to all this stuff, Tempe, cause it's all we're going to have to remember them by."

Temperance nodded, slipped the earrings in her ears, and stood. They left the house behind – an empty shell. Nothing that remained here was home to her. Home was in boxes. Home was in a uniformed-nineteen-year-old next to her.

Home was in the ground, under a stone.

Temperance decided that she didn't believe in a God.

The drive to North Carolina was exhausting. Temperance found herself wishing she could help her brother, but she wasn't quite old enough to have her license just yet. So she wrote in a notebook, read some books, stared out the window. The country passed her by but she didn't really see it. She and Russ talked a little, but mostly they gave each other as much space as they could to process things.

It was late in the evening when they pulled up to an apartment complex. Russ sighed, looking over his shoulder. "You know what, Temp? Let's just go up, say hi to Booth and then we'll unload. I could use a glass of water and a break before we start dealing with all this stuff."

"Is Booth your friend?"

"Yeah, he is. Sergeant Booth. He's a Ranger, but he's a good guy. He heard what happened and told me we could crash here until I get things straightened out." Russ opened the door and stepped out. "He's always doing stuff like that."

Tempe followed her brother up a flight of stairs to an apartment marked 24B. Russ knocked and shortly, a man, probably not much older than Russ, opened the door. He had broad shoulders that angled down over the course of his torso to a narrow waist; strong features and deep brown eyes. Tempe steeled herself against acting like a stupid teenager in the face of his good looks, which he emphasized with jeans and a deep red sweater.

"Hey," Booth said. "This your kid sister?"

"Yeah, this is Temperance. Tempe." Russ shrugged his shoulders. "Listen, thanks man. We're going to be out of your hair as soon as possible."

"It's okay. I owed you one, anyway. Come on inside." He stepped aside, and Temperance and Russ walked in what must be what a typical bachelor pad looked like, Temperance thought. It was fairly clean, but also cluttered. There were sports posters on the wall, trophies and certificates on shelves. A large TV sat in one corner and battered sofas framed it. Beyond the living room, there was a hallway with three doors. "My room's right there... Russ, I figured you and I would switch out nights sleeping on a real bed. Temperance, the guest room's the next door down. You can have that one until you move out. The couch here in the living room folds out. It'll be a little bit cramped, but we can make it work."

Temperance left her brother and Booth to chat some more while she went to the bathroom, relieved when she closed the door to finally have a place to escape the noise of the road that was somehow still buzzing in her ears. Long after she was done with her personal business, she sat, appreciating the quiet. Then she rose to her feet, splashed water on her face, and left.

When she walked back to the living room, for a moment, she thought she'd been abandoned, but then she heard the noise of Booth and Russ bringing up suitcases. She opened the door for them and stepped aside. "Is there anything left in the car?"

"This is our second run, so no," Russ said. "We put all your stuff in the guest bedroom. I think I got everything you'd need for the night."


"Well. It's Christmas Eve," Booth said, rubbing his hands. "You two want to go grab some Chinese takeout in celebration? Sorry I don't have a tree or anything..."

"I don't think we're feeling very festive." Russ shrugged his shoulders. "But I could eat. What about you, Tempe?"

She nodded cautiously. "I could eat."

Later that evening, stuffed full of Chinese food, they all retired to bed. But, an hour of tossing and turning later, Temperance was still unable to sleep and so she got up and headed for the kitchen for a glass of water.

Booth was up, padding around the kitchen shirtless, rinsing off dishes and setting them in neat stacks while he drank a beer.

"I could help you with that task," she said softly, so quietly she thought maybe he wouldn't hear her. But he raised his eyebrows.

"It's okay. You're my guest. You don't have to do dishes."

"I feel like – it would help. To know I'm being helpful."

Booth shrugged. "I can respect that. I'll wash, you dry?"

"That would be acceptable. It will help me learn the arrangement of your cabinetry." She watched as he plugged the sink's drain and started to run the water to do dishes. "Russ has said thank you, but I have not."

"Don't worry about it."

Temperance tilted her head. "It's social convention to thank people when they offer you their home."

Booth chuckled, as though he found her genuinely amusing. Temperance found she liked it. "Yeah, but sometimes, among friends, you can ignore social convention."

"I am not your friend."

"Not yet." Booth dumped a very random amount of dish soap into the sink and waited while the water begin to suds up. "But I have a feeling we're going to be."

"Feelings are imprecise. You may not like me, once you get to know me."

"Possible, but not all that likely."

Temperance crossed her arms over her chest. "Oh?"

"I've got a thing for smart girls with brassy mouths." Booth grinned. "Haven't met one yet I didn't like."

"So you're saying, based on your previous experience with girls like me, you will like me." Temperance sounded dubious.

"Yes." Booth wiped a rag across a plate very efficiently, setting it in the next sink for her to set in his drainer.

"You probably haven't ever met someone like me. Russ says I'm very unique."

"And Russ would know, huh?"

Temperance shrugged. "He knows me better than everyone else."

"What does Russ call you?"

"Excuse me?"

Booth chuckled. "No way Russ calls you Temperance all the time. That's got way too many syllables."

"I like my name."

"So do I. But it's a mouthful."

Temperance shrugged. "Sometimes he calls me Tempe."

"You like that?"

"It's a city in Arizona."

Booth laughed again. A warm, pleasant feeling spread in her stomach. Some of her nerves settled. "So, not really, huh?"

She wrinkled her nose. "No. Is... is your name really Booth?"

"That's my last name. My first name is Seeley." Booth raised a finger. "But. No one calls me that, except my family."

"I am told it is normal to make exceptions for family."

"Yeah, it is."

"Sometimes I find it comforting, knowing that my behavior is within normal parameters."

"You know, I think Russ is right."


"I don't think you're like anyone I've ever met." Booth bumped her shoulder with his own. "But I was right, too. Pretty sure I'm going to like getting to know you, Temperance with the bright blue eyes."

Temperance flushed and ducked her head.

Christmas was quiet. Temperance refused to leave her room until noon, and she and Russ both stared at the Christmas presents their parents had purchased before that fateful day they had been murdered, unsure of what to do.

Russ cleared his throat. "We don't have to open them."

"No," Temperance agreed, calmly.

"Do you want to open them?" He tilted her chin up so he could see her eyes. She shook her head. Russ put them away, and that was the end of that.

A few days after the New Year, Temperance was startled out of a sound sleep by the sound of someone moving around the apartment in the middle of the night. Cautiously, she left her bed, but she only caught the sight of Booth leaving briefly. Russ was sitting up on the couch and so she went over and sat next to him.

"Is everything okay?"

"What?" Russ looked startled, but then shook his head. "Yeah, everything's fine. Or it should be. He just got called in. He won't be back for a few weeks."

"Doesn't the Army give more notice than that, usually?"

"Not to guys like Booth. When they send him someplace, they don't want anyone knowing about it, most of the time."

"Why? What does Booth do?"

"Mostly? He takes care of business."

"You are being deliberately cryptic."

"No, not really, I'm not. It's classified, most of it, anyway. And what isn't classified isn't mine to tell. If you want to know, ask Booth." Russ got to his feet and stretched. "I will say that it's not pretty. So, you might hold off on that."

Temperance sat on the couch, contemplating her slippers for a long time after that.

A few days later, Temperance and Russ enrolled her in the local high school. He dropped her off in the early morning, and then went to work his shift. He wasn't quite done by the time the three o'clock bell rang, and so she walked the short distance to the public library, sat and read for an hour until Russ came to get her, then they went back to the apartment, or to look at apartments within Russ's price range.

Her classes were all in different places – so some classes she was ahead of and others she fell behind in, and she appreciated having something academic to wrap her head around, although nothing really required her full attention.

Two full weeks after Booth had been called away, she saw him standing outside of her school, leaning against the door of his black truck. A few of her new classmates – Lauren, Hayley and Ashley – noticed him waving at her.

"Oh my gosh, Temperance! Is that your brother?" Hayley gushed. "He's just drop dead gorgeous. How old did you say he was?"

Temperance narrowed her eyes and shook her head. "No, that's Booth. That's my brother's friend that we're living with. He's twenty-one."

"Oh, drinking age," Ashley said, excitedly. "Is he cool?"

"Objectively, I would say so, though I do not think he would purchase alcohol if you asked him to," Temperance said flatly. "He is extremely ethical."

"I'll bet I could talk him out of that," Lauren said, wiggling her hips. "Or at least I'd have fun trying."

"I find this conversation uncomfortable," Temperance said, walking a little faster to escape them. "I am certain I will see you in class later."

"What's going on, Blue Eyes?" Booth asked as she approached.

"Several of my classmates find you sexually attractive. We should leave before you find yourself assaulted by a sophomore."

Booth laughed. "Not even a 'welcome home'?"

She flashed him a rare smile – the kind that just snuck up on her and lit up her whole face like the Fourth of July. "Welcome home, Booth. It is good to see you."

"It's good to see you, too."

"Where were you?" Temperance asked, buckling herself into the passenger seat. "May I drive next time we're in your vehicle, please? I'm studying to get my license."

"Can't tell you, and no."

"Why not?"

"Because it's classified."

"Not that."

"Oh." Booth grinned at her. "Because this is my car, and, well... you need more practice before I let you drive my car."

"Okay, that is rational. I will ask again once I am more experienced."

"You do that."

Temperance glanced over at him. "Is Russ okay?"

"What? Oh. Because I came to get you?"

Temperance nodded.

"He's fine, they've just got a project to wrap up and I've got a few days leave now that they've debriefed me, so I said I'd come spring you early."

"Spring me?"

"You know – like from jail. We need to get you to watch more movies, Blue Eyes."

"Is that what you've decided you're going to call me?"

"Yep." Booth popped the "p" and beamed at her.

Temperance felt something like warmth settle over her. Something that felt... right.

They moved out, but they didn't move far, and it wasn't unusual for Booth to come get Temperance from school, or for her to walk over when she knew he was home. He taught her about sports and pop culture, and she helped him study for the college class he was taking long-distance through Penn State. Slowly, he became a friend, the five-year age gap between them rarely an issue.

One day, Temperance walked over to his apartment in the rain, her galoshes splashing satisfactorily in the puddles that were inches thick. She liked the sensation of the displaced water bursting around her feet, the drops that fell from the sky falling on her umbrella and the palm she held outside it as she walked.

She knocked on the door of his apartment, and an old man answered the door. "You looking for someone, sweetheart?"

"Did Booth move out?" She was certain she hadn't gotten the wrong door.

"No, this is where he lives, but you're a little young for his taste, I'd hope."

"Pops! Let her in, that's Temperance." Booth emerged from his room, looking damp and freshly-showered, buttoning up a black shirt.

"Temperance?" Pops (apparently that was his name) looked a bit confused.

"You know, my friend Russ's little sister. They stayed with me for a while after their folks passed."

"Oh." Pops stepped aside and let Temperance inside. "I was so sorry to hear about your loss."

Temperance had learned over the last several months not to express her curiosity about how people could be sorry for a loss that was in no way directly related to them. "Thank you."

"What's up, Blue Eyes?"

"You were going to educate me about hockey, but I see you have company. I will walk back."

"How about you stick around and play a little dominoes with us instead, eh?" Pops asked. "Unless you got something better to do, that is. I plan to beat the tar out of Shrimp here."

They passed the afternoon, Pops and Booth showing her how to play and marveling at how quickly she picked up on the subtleties of the game. The phone rang shrilly just before dinner, and expecting it to be Russ wondering if she was planning on coming home, Temperance answered it.

"Hello," she said brightly.

"Hi... I'm um... looking for Seeley Booth?" It was a female's voice. Soft and kind of sultry, Temperance decided.

"Oh yeah. Let me get him for you." She held out the phone and watched as Booth's face turned an interesting color.

"Hello?" He said into the phone. "Oh, Cam. Hey. What? No. That's my former roommate's sister. She's almost sixteen, over here playing dominoes with me and Pops."

Pops made a face when Booth went in the other room to take the call. "That boy..."

"Do you not like this Cam?" Temperance asked, raising her eyebrows.

"She's a nice girl. She's not the one who will stick, though. They've got too many of the same issues, they do." Pops huffed a little. "You gotta find someone with complementary baggage. Remember that."

Temperance smiled.

Booth got transferred away from Fort Bragg before Russ did, but they kept in touch. She got little notes in the mail.

Hey Blue Eyes,

Was in {censored} just the other day. We had a chance to visit {censored}, and I thought of you. I hope you like your new school. Sounds like you're kind of bummed. Keep smiling for me. You're pretty when you smile.


And she wrote little notes back:


Stop trying to deliberately aggravate the mail censors. One of these days they're going to catch on and.. I don't know what the consequence is but I imagine it's not pleasant. School is fine. School is always fine. Prom is in two months.


Senior prom was fast approaching and she hadn't seen Booth in two years, but he still kept in touch with her and Russ. She'd gone dress shopping on her own – Russ had offered but he hadn't really wanted to go, and they'd only been at this post a few months so she hadn't had time to make new friends.

She picked a simple dress that accented her chest and brought out her eyes, and she hung it on the front of her closet so that she could see it every day. She waited, but none of the boys asked her to go. In her old school, she had enjoyed a few offers – none which she accepted, but they had been there.

The night of the dance she carefully arranged her appearance, reading from a magazine how to style her hair in an artful updo, how to manicure her own nails. Russ had done a little better than he thought he might, by taking work on the side on top of his Army salary but there still wasn't enough for her to afford the works. Even her dress had been slightly imperfect – an uneven hem which she had repaired by hand.

She walked down the stairs at 8:45 pm and Russ stood at the bottom. He whistled lowly. "Wow, Tempe. You look beautiful."

"Thank you. My hair did not turn out just as the picture did." She worried at her bottom lip. "Hopefully I will not be an object of ridicule."

"Nah. You're going to knock 'em dead." Russ jangled keys in front of her. "I know we said I'd drop you off, but... you want to drive?"

Temperance nodded, and took the keys from him, surprised when he stopped her. "You know, Tempe, Mom would have been so proud of you. Dad, too."

Her eyes filled with sudden grief. "I wish she had been here to help me. I'm no good at all of this..."

"No one would ever know. You're way too hard on yourself, Tempe." He kissed her cheek. "Have a good time."

The dance was horrible.

She hadn't anticipated it going well, really. She wasn't the best in social situations to begin with, but she had to admit she had some lingering girlhood fantasies about seeing a boy across the room, being swept into his arms, slow dancing the night away.

Instead, she was ignored. She sat at a table by herself, drinking watery punch. She must have gotten something wrong, she decided. The magazine had promised "showstopper" glances, but no one had even acknowledged her presence.

Then came the ladies choice dance.

Gathering her courage, she approached her lab partner, David. "I was wondering if you want to dance," she asked softly.

He didn't answer her. She tapped him lightly on the shoulder. "Excuse me. I was wondering if you want to dance."

He didn't answer, but she could tell he had heard her. He was ignoring her. Her eyes filled with tears. It was extremely frustrating, she decided, working so hard to become passable at social interaction, only to realize that she had fallen short, once again.

She left the gym and made it to Russ's car before she completely broke down. She calmed down enough to drive and pulled back in the driveway of the little 2-bedroom house she shared with Russ after only an hour had passed. There was a strange car in the driveway, and Temperance fought the guilt, knowing she was probably interrupting her brother's date. She could sneak in, she decided, but before she could attempt that, the porch lights came on, and a figure dressed in dark green stepped out.

"Blue Eyes?"

"Booth?" She ran from her car to his arms, wrapping him tightly in a hug. "I didn't know you were coming!"

"I didn't either. I just... got some leave and took off. Hey... what's all this?"

"Prom was... not worth the trouble. Extremely over-hyped, as I had suspected."

Booth wiped the running mascara out from underneath of her eyes. "Do I need to go beat somebody up?"

"What? No. I just... everybody ignored me." Brennan shrugged. "I didn't have anyone to talk to. Or dance with. I tried David, but..."


"He's my lab partner." Brennan took a step back from Booth. "He wouldn't talk with me. Or dance."

"Well, you know what? I'm all dressed up. I've got no place to go. You want to go make some teenage boys jealous?"


"Teenage boys, they've got real simple minds, Blue Eyes. You've just got to show them that someone else has something, and then all of a sudden, they want it too."

They were entering the gym when Temperance stopped him. "You don't have to do this, you know. We could go back to the house..."

"Nah. C'mon. Don't you like this song?"

There's so much a man can tell you, so much he can say...

She smiled faintly. "I love this song."

Booth took her hand. "So let's do it."

They walked past the bleachers to the middle of the dance floor, and Booth drew her close (but not too close) and they swayed gently to the music blasting over the loudspeaker, as metal stars descended from the ceiling.

Temperance hadn't had a dream in 3 years. Not since she lost her parents – but... if she had dared to allow herself to dream, then... one of them might have come true that night.

Booth got out of the Army right about the time she graduated from high school. She went to Northwestern, he finished up his college courses at Penn State and started working for the FBI.

She got a call, her first year of graduate school. She picked up the phone, not knowing how her world was about to tilt on its axis.

"Temperance Brennan."

"Blue Eyes. It's Booth."

She smiled. "You're the only who calls me that. I know it's you. How are you?"

"Fucked up."

She dropped the file she'd been reading. Michael Stires's case could wait. Booth rarely swore, and whe he did, it was usually serious trouble. "Are you gambling again?"

"What? No. I made a promise, didn't I?"

"And you keep your promises," Temperance said, reminding herself that Booth was a law unto his own – sort of like her brother, who defied the odds and everyone's preconceived notions – they were men that stood straight and said what they meant.

"Yes, I do. Which is why... shit. I don't even know why I'm calling you."

"Who else would always tell you the truth?"

"Rebecca's pregnant."

Her knees went weak. Uncertain of why this was hitting her so hard, she reached for her office chair. "What has she decided to do?"

"She wants to keep the baby." Booth drew in a breath. "But she doesn't want to keep me."

"What do you mean?"

"I asked her to marry me. She said no."

"Oh, Booth." Her heart broke for him. "I'm so sorry. I know she meant a lot to you..."

"She says she'll think about letting me have partial custody... I mean. Shit. I just never thought I'd get to a point in my life where I'd be saying 'partial custody', you know?"

"You deserve more."

Booth laughed harshly. "I don't deserve anything. I tell myself I do..."

"Stop it. You are a good man, Booth. A very, very good man. And you deserve the world, and Rebecca should give it to you."

"I just – I just want to be able to see my kid."

"Stand up for yourself, Booth. Do the right thing. Every child deserves their parents, for as long as they can have them."

There was silence on the other end of the line. "Yeah, you're right. And you would know, wouldn't you?"

"Yes. Listen, Booth. I'm going to be out of the country for the next few months -"

"-wait. Whoa. Where are you going? Does Russ know?"

"I haven't told him yet. Michael's offered me a position on the Guatemala dig."

She could practically see Booth's eyebrows fly up. "Guatemala?"


"Blue Eyes..."

"I will be fine. My Spanish is quite good."

"It's not your Spanish that worries me. It's your tendency to get into trouble that worries me."

"I will take care of myself."

"And what's with this calling your thesis advisor by his first name thing? Are things a lot more casual than when I went to school or..."

"Or what?"

Booth sighed into the phone. "Should I be worried about that, too?"

"It's none of your business."



"You shouldn't sleep with your thesis advisor."

"Why not? We're consenting adults. It's generally frowned upon by the academic community, but both Michael and myself are perfectly capable of separating ourselves personally and professionally."

"You know why not? It's not fair, but, you're a woman, Blue Eyes. And people find out, they're going to talk. It's going to make it hard for you to find a job. It won't make a damn bit a difference to his career, but it could ruin yours. Just... be careful, okay?"

"I know what I'm doing, Booth."

But she felt like cold water had been thrown over her.

"Okay. One more thing, Blue Eyes."


"Be safe, okay?" She could hear the sounds of something banging in the background. "Guatemala's not stable at all. Not since the last time I was there, and I doubt things have changed much."

"Why were you in Guatemala?"

Booth's voice went cold. "Why else? I went down to shoot someone at 1500 feet."


"I'm at the shooting range. Call me before you leave, okay?"

She sighed. "Okay."

She signed her name with a flourish. Dr. Temperance Brennan. She'd worked long and hard for that Doctorate. It was good – extremely good, to sign her name, officially, that way.

"Did you hear Booth's been reassigned to D.C.?" Russ asked, carrying her a glass of ice tea and sitting down next to her at the kitchen table. "Makes me feel better about you accepting that job at the Jeffersonian."

"No, I wasn't aware – and that's what I just finished doing." She sealed up the letter, stuck it in the envelope, and sealed it.

"Yeah." Russ took a swallow. "I thought maybe I'd try to find a place in Maryland. It was good to be around while you finished up your doctorate, but Chicago's just... too close."

Temperance nodded. Sometimes she felt that way. "I think it would be good for both of us to... start fresh."

Russ grinned and raised his glass, clinking it on hers. "To fresh starts?"

"To fresh starts."

He entered her lecture hall, bold as brass. He looked tired, she noticed. Tired and drawn thin. But still, somehow so fundamentally attractive to some base part of her – that part of her that was still fifteen, still enamored of him.

He waited until she finished her lecture, and then bounded the few steps up to her, opening his arms. "Blue Eyes!"

"Booth!" She laughed, hugging him warmly. "What are you doing here?"

"You remember a few years back, when you helped me with my first murder case, blew it wide open for us?"

"Yes, I remember."

"I'd like your help again. See if you can... I don't know. Dig something up the cops haven't been able to find."

"Of course." She reached for the file. "Let me see what I can do."

She punched a judge. She punched a federal judge, sent him flying down a flight of stairs, and it was like – it was like a light bulb went off in Booth's head. She could almost see it, the moment when he realized that she wasn't a little girl, she definitely wasn't some kind of kid sister to him.

"Wow," he said, his eyes bright, his pupils dilated. "That was hot."

She grinned smugly. "Thank you."

He fired her, but she didn't care. There was tequila and the warmth of his brown eyes across the bar from her, as they tossed back the alcohol and forgot who they were. She forgot that he had known her when she was awkward and unsure, and he forgot about the teenager who had insisted on helping with the dishes so soon after her parents' death.

He laughed at her; she laughed at him. They forgot themselves in a haze, and he whispered that he thought he was going to kiss her.

And he did. It was like... electricity. Hot and powerful and painful as it zinged along the nerve endings of her body. Painful because she knew this was it. Any minute now, he'd remember who she was. He'd pull away from her.

When he did, she nearly cursed him for being so damned predictable.

"You are a stupid man. I hate you!"

"What are you, twelve? I'm not your brother."

Her eyes widened, and she walked away. And she didn't see him for a year.

You've reached Temperance Brennan. I am unavailable to take your call. Please leave a message and I will return it as soon as possible.

"Blue Eyes, please. I'm really sorry. I was an ass. I was an ass and a half. Just... call me back."

You've reached Temperance Brennan. I am unavailable to take your call. Please leave a message and I will return it as soon as possible.

"Temperance, this isn't even personal anymore. I was wondering if you could do your brainiack thing again... Just a quick glance."

You've reached Temperance Brennan. I am unavailable to take your call. Please leave a message and I will return it as soon as possible.

"Okay, so... maybe that wasn't the best strategy, huh? I just... I really want to see you again. Please, I don't want to lose a friend over this. I was an idiot."

"What's it gonna take?" He called it, across the street from her.

"Full participation in the case." Brennan walked up to him, poked him in the chest. "And stop treating me like I'm a fifteen-year-old. You don't know me that well anymore."

"All right. Spit in my hand, we're Scully and Mulder."

"Mulder was better looking than you."

Booth's mouth dropped open. "Now, you know that's a sore spot..."

You see two people, and you think: they belong together. But nothing happens.

"Ma'am, are you Agent Booth's family?"

"No. But I have his medical power of attorney," Brennan answered.

"Oh. Well – he should be fine, eventually. He was reaching for something, which deflected the blow of most of the explosion..."

"Blue Eyes?"

"You're awake." She grabbed his hand.

"You're not working the case?"

"Not for the moment. Not while you were unconscious."

"I hurt all over."

She smiled. "Poor baby. You always were a wuss."

"You know what? We'll blow your rib cage apart next time."

Temperance fingered the blanket draped around his hips. "It'll be my turn."

"Hey, no." Booth shook his head. "I'm teasing, right? Anyone needs blowing up, that's my job. I get blown up, you stay safe. That's the division of labor."

Temperance lifted his hand and pressed a kiss to the palm of it.

"What is going on with the two of you?" Angela asked.

"What do you mean?"

"I mean, he's breaking out of the hospital to go save you from a mad man, you're breaking dates to sit by his bedside. Is there something going on I need to know about?"

Brennan shook her head. "No. We're just... old friends."

She helped him back to his apartment, the day they discharge him for real, and they sat on the couch together, comfortably entwined. He spread his thighs so she could sit between them, resting her back against his fully-healed chest.

"My feet hurt again," Booth groused.

"The weather's turning colder. There's some evidence to suggest that will aggravate bone injuries like you endured."

"Blue Eyes, listen. I... I'm sorry I was an idiot, two years ago. I shouldn't have stopped, last time, when I started to kiss you. I should have just kept going... all the way back to my apartment." He laid his head back against the sofa arm. "I wanted to say that for a while, so... there it is. Do with it what you will."

"You were an idiot. I agree." Temperance turned to face him. "I'm not fifteen anymore."

"I know. Believe me..." He raked his eyes over her appreciatively. "I know."

"You'll have to accept that I'm fully-grown, if we're to have a relationship."

Booth's eyes widened, but he grinned at her, flipping them over so he could press his chest to hers. He kissed her neck, and she shivered. "I don't think that's going to be a hurdle, Blue Eyes. I want to do fully-grown things to you. All night long."

"Dr. Booth?"

She raised her eyes. "Is he out of surgery?"

"Yes. He wants to talk to you. So does Cullen. They have something they need your help with."

A year later, she found herself, once again, in the hospital with Booth, watching as machines breathed for him, forced air into his lungs and pushed it back out again. Machines fed him and dealt with the byproducts of feeding him. There was nothing to do but wait.

She held on to her news as long as she could.

"Booth, you've got to wake up. You've got to wake up because I don't want you to miss your son. Or your daughter. He or she's going to need both of us, and I need you so much so... wake up, Booth."

There was a hissing sound, and then a rattle as Booth tried to breathe on his own. Her eyes flew open.

"Blue... Eyes..."

She held their daughter on her hip while she watched him open the letter from the army, standing in their kitchen. He shook his head and dropped the letter.

"If you want to go, I'll understand," she said, wondering if this was how Russ felt, all those years ago, offering her the choice to abandon him.

"No, Blue Eyes. I'm with you. One hundred percent, all the way. I'm with you. I've done my time and paid my dues. This is where I belong."

She squeezed her daughter and lifted her head to accept his kiss. That old familiar feeling – the one he'd been giving her since she was fifteen years old – swept over her.

She felt like she could fly.