Disclaimer-I own nobody except my own characters.
A/N-PLEASE, Be advised there is mention of child abuse in this story, if you are offended by reading such issues, stop now... if not keep in mind that children suffer everyday and it's up to us to give them a voice, help stop child abuse.
Also Parker is eleven in this fic; I couldn't find a site that gave me a definite age for him so... no flames about it. I originally had him at ten but since continuing the story after chapter 13 have gone back and changed to eleven, any discrepancies you find let me know, I've tried to find all the 'tens' and make them' elevens' but they're tricky and hide.
Temperance Brennan stood quietly in the Bone room. She gently lay each bone in its appropriate place against the white satin of the coffin before her. Tabitha Moore was ten years old when she had died that was six months ago, she had never been reported missing. Tabitha Moore was a statistic, a victim of crime but unheard as a Ward of the State. Placed in the foster system, she was paper work for the government and drug money for the abusers she was placed with.
Brennan had discovered sixteen fractures on the little skeleton in front of her and that was just the beginning of Tabitha's story. Cam had reported muscle and tissue damage to the pelvis and vaginal regions, as well as semen present in the little girl's mouth and cervix. For the first time in her career, Temperance Brennan hadn't been able to control her gag reflex and had made an urgent dash for the bathroom.
Booth had been her rock throughout the case, he knew how deeply she was affected by cases involving foster children and had been her shoulder when she was overwhelmed. He had stayed with her at the lab when everyone else had gone home, they shared dinner and he made her laugh when all she wanted to do was cry.
It was currently four PM, she closed the lid on the coffin she had personally selected and along with the rest of the squints and Booth, she would attend the funeral she was paying for tomorrow at ten AM; The Washington Cemetery would be Tabitha's final resting place.
She nodded to the undertakers and watched as they wheeled the coffin out, respectively bowing their heads for the little life lost.
Temperance sighed, she was tired and sad, but more than that; she was angry that a child had been forgotten in a system that was supposed to protect her the same system that failed time and time again, without consequence. Heading toward her office, she unbuttoned her lab coat and shrugged out of the blue material.
"Hey Sweetie, you coming to the Founding Fathers for a drink?"
Brennan shook her head.
"Not tonight Ange there's something I have to do, I'll see you tomorrow? Are you still coming to the funeral?"
Angela smiled and reached out touching her friend's arm, it wasn't the first time she had known Brennan to pay for a funeral but the sentiment was never lost on her, Temperance Brennan was all heart, she truly hurt for every victim she dealt with.
"Yeah Sweetie, Jack and I will be there."
Brennan smiled and entered her office.
She grabbed her bag and slipped into her coat, she flicked off the computer and turned back to her friend.
"I'll see you tomorrow."
Ange nodded, watching her best friend walk away. Brennan had been distant during the case but her personality had taken a remarkable shift over the last few months. Angela knew the relationship between Hannah and Booth was to blame; she didn't begrudge Booth the happiness he seemed to have found. Hannah was nice enough and she got on well with them all, for the most part but she would never be one of them. Brennan was back to pulling all nighters at the lab, back to her clinical persona, she didn't laugh at work and barely smiled at all, she had lost weight and although not as bad as she had once been, she was falling quickly back to her anti-social ways.
Booth seemed to be past the initial ignore everybody stage of his and Hannah's relationship and he was making an effort to spend time at the lab, he would come in and drag the grumbling Anthropologist to lunch or dinner, he brought her breakfast in the morning and took time each day to just be with her, it wasn't like old times, a certain awkwardness had fallen over them but the fog was slowly lifting the more time they spent together; just the two of them the easier it got to see the way back to how they once were.
Brennan frowned as she drove out of the undercover parking structure, it had been raining for three days now and the sky looked no brighter. Dark clouds loomed overhead making the afternoon seem a lot later than it was. She drove in the opposite direction of her apartment, traffic still relatively light as peak hour had not yet been reached. She turned to her right and then a sharp left down Columbus, she continued on for the ten minute stretch finally pulling into a spot outside a rundown building.
Turning off the engine and pulling her key from the ignition, she watched the rain beat down on the pavement, swirls of water running into the gutter and down the storm water drains.
Taking the file from her seat, she tucked it under her coat, grabbed her bag and lunged out the door, automatically locking the car as she ran up the steps and under the leaking awning of the District Children's Home.
Patting her hair down, Temperance entered the building. She wrinkled her nose at the stale smell of dust and mold, her olfactory senses transporting her back to the tender age of fifteen. Brennan walked up to the desk positioned beside the entry and exit gates and rung the bell for assistance.
An older lady with graying brown hair approached, she was thin and stern looking, Brennan briefly wondered if it was a prerequisite of the job, to look as mean as possible.
Temperance stood a little straighter at the woman's no nonsense tone.
"I'm Doctor Temperance Brennan of the Jeffersonian Institute; I wish to see Ms Hilda Stenning please."
The woman smiled forcefully.
"Did you have an appointment?"
Brennan frowned, tilting her head to the side feeling her patience wain.
"I'm working with the FBI in relation to the Tabitha Moore case and would like to finalize some outstanding inquiries I have."
The woman continued to staple paper in front of her, looking disinterested in Brennan's speech.
"I'm sorry; she's in a meeting right now."
Leaning on the desk Temperance spoke quietly.
"Do you know how long she will be?"
Looking to a diary at her side, she umm-ed and ah-ed.
Brennan rolled her eyes, frustration brewing.
"Is there somewhere I can wait?"
She tried to keep her voice polite, not wanting to anger the woman who could make things more difficult.
"I suppose you could wait in the main hall."
The woman pressed a button and the gates buzzed and unlocked with a loud resounding click. Brennan strode forward and pulled the gate, thinking the set up wasn't all that different to Havenhurst Sanatorium. She walked through into the stuffy foyer and followed the woman's pointed finger toward what she assumed, was the waiting area. A single row of eight chairs sat against a peeling cream painted wall, Temperance sat in front of one of three offices, this one held a name plaque on the door 'Hilda Stenning'.
Brennan sighed, she had been waiting twenty minutes and still there was no sign of the elusive Ms Stenning. She heard the sounds she associated with every children's home she'd ever been to; yelling, screaming, crying, the sounds of an adult scolding a child the slamming of doors and high heels clipping on hard wood floors. A door opened to her left and a heavy set woman stormed through dragging a small child by the wrist.
The little girl looked frightened as her little legs hurried to keep up with the adult's longer stride.
"Why can't you get up from your bed instead of pissing in it, Jesus Molly?"
The woman threw a blue sheet down on the hard floor, and forced the child to her knees.
"You stay there until I come back and get you."
Temperance watched barely containing her rage as the woman walked away, leaving the little girl alone and clutching a brown teddy bear for comfort. The child sat staring out a glass door as the rain trickled down outside, Brennan guessed she was three maybe four at the most, she was dressed in a pair of footsie pajamas with what looked like a mouse wearing yellow shoes and red pants on them. Her hair was a dark chocolate brown, cropped into a short bob cut, Temperance knew if she was to run a brush through the wavy locks they would be much like her own. Her skin was pale and from where Brennan sat she could see the little girl sported a set of big blue eyes like her own, she smiled remembering Booth had once referred to them as 'heart breaker eyes'.
The little girl looked up sensing movement as Temperance walked toward her, she wiggled her way back against the wall and frowned. Brennan squatted down slowly and smiled.
"Hi, I won't hurt you."
Temperance looked to the bear she was clutching; it was brown and was obviously well loved.
"My name is Tempe, you're Molly right?"
The little girl didn't answer, just stared into the friendly eyes of the lady in front of her.
"I like your bear; he must be a good friend to have in here."
Again no answer, but Molly did hug the bear a little tighter.
"I know how scary this place can be, so having a friend is good."
Temperance rocked back sitting her bottom on the floor to get comfortable, she felt drawn to the little girl in front of her. Brennan noticed the pink skin on Molly's wrist from where the woman had held her too tight.
"Is your hand ok?"
She indicated on her own wrist what she was referring to and smiled as Molly held her hand out. Tempe took the little girl's hand gently and pulled up her sleeve a fraction and making sure the skin wasn't broken. With Molly's little hands in her larger ones, Brennan felt a surge of desire to protect this child from harm; she softly ran her thumb back and forth over Molly's knuckles and smiled.
Molly didn't know who this lady was, she hadn't seen her before but this lady was different to the others. She wasn't mean and she didn't yell, Molly didn't feel scared of her like the lady before. Molly shuffled forward just a fraction closer this lady had a pretty smile and kind eyes and she smelled nice.
Tempe watched Molly hold her bear out slightly, she frowned and looked down seeing what she was being shown. The bear had a small tear in the fabric of the arm and the stuffing was starting to protrude. Wondering what she could do without the aid of a needle and thread, Brennan was struck with an almost childlike idea.
"Oh dear, I think your teddy needs a band aid."
Molly's brow rose, surprised with the answer, all the other ladies she shown her teddies cut to had told her to go away. Tempe held her hand out and smiled as Molly took it.
"Let's go over to my bag on the seat and I'll see if I've got one, huh?"
Molly nodded and walked with her over to the chairs, she watched as Tempe rummaged through her bag.
"Does your teddy have a name?"
Molly just stood quietly, her eyes flicking back to the door she had been dragged through and then back to her bear on the seat, before repeating again.
Brennan placed a sticky plaster over the teddies tear and patted it down firmly.
"There we go, how's that?"
Molly gave a very small smile that was quickly replaced with a grimace, as the door bashed into the wall and two women walked through. One was the woman who had brought Molly out and the other was Hilda Stenning. Tempe watched as Molly ran back to the sheet she had been dumped on earlier, which earned her a harsh glare from both women.
"Let's go Molly, get up."
Molly gave a quick and frightened glance back to Tempe, before once again being dragged back down the hall.
Brennan rose from her seat, as Hilda approached with a suspicious glare.
"Dr. Brennan, am I to assume you're here to see me?"
"Yes, I have a few unresolved questions for you."
Ms Stenning entered her office, leaving Temperance to follow without invitation. Hilda sat behind her desk and gave an unimpressed look to Brennan.
"Well Dr. Brennan please begin, I have places to be."
Brennan sat opposite the woman and removed the file from her lap.
"I wanted to know, how it was possible for Tabitha to be missing for six months and yet not be reported missing."
Hilda rolled her eyes.
"Look Dr. Brennan, as I told you and your Agent Booth when I came into the FBI office, it was simply assumed the child had run away, it is not uncommon. These kids harden very quickly they believe the world owes them and when they don't get what they want they quit."
Brennan felt her face pulse; she was angered by the generalization.
"Tabitha Moore showed signs of physical abuse, fractures that had healed, some that were in the process of mending, she was not seen to by a doctor, how did her case worker not notice the abuse, given the healing patterns Tabitha would have been in care at the time of the breaks, why was she not removed from such an abusive home?"
Hilda closed the drawer she had been looking through and glanced up.
"Look Dr. Brennan these kids, for whatever reason have been given up by their own families they're not wanted, we put them where we can, of course every potential carer is checked out but the system is not fool proof and sometimes a few unsavory people get through."
"Ms Stenning two out of every five homes are abusive that's far from a few unsavory people, it's your job to ensure the safety of these children, Tabitha Moore was ten years old, she had sixteen bone breaks, she had been sexually abused, you're right the system is far from fool proof but it would help if fool's weren't running it. Good day to you."
Temperance stood sharply and walked out in a huff, leaving a bewildered Hilda Stenning in her wake.
-Hey Bones missed you at Founding Fathers, call me when you can...-
Brennan smiled at the text message on her cell; she glanced at her watch checking the time. Six twenty, walking to her house phone she picked it up and dialed the familiar number.
"Are you ok? You didn't come for drinks, Ange said..."
His tone told her he was worried about her.
"I'm fine Booth; I just had something I had to do."
She opened the fridge taking out a bottle of opened wine.
"Are you sure?"
Pouring the burgundy liquid into a glass she took a sip.
"Honestly Booth, I'm fine, I'm just a little tired."
Booth could hear the worn out tone to her voice and knew the case had really taken it out of her.
"Ok, well... I'll pick you up in the morning? We can get breakfast?"
"Umm sure... will Hannah be coming?"
Booth looked to the bedroom where Hannah was currently getting changed.
"No Bones, just us."
His partner's voice brightened.
"Ok, what time?"
"Well considering you'll probably be up at five, what say I pick you up around six?"
"That seems reasonable."
"Alright Bones get some rest and make sure you eat."
Brennan smiled at his need to look out for her, she would never admit it, but she had missed his coddling and protectiveness.
"Yep, night Booth."
They paused on the line a moment and then each hung up.
Booth's smile faded as his girlfriend walked down the hall toward him, she was wearing one of his work shirts again; which really bugged him and a seductive smile he knew was meant to entice him.
"Was that Temperance on the phone?"
Booth raised his brows, considering for a moment whether to admit it or not.
"Umm yeah, I asked her to call me; she didn't show after work for drinks, I just wanted to check up on her."
Hannah nodded slowly, suddenly understanding the reason her boyfriend was actually home before nine.
"Right, well... is she ok?"
Booth knew she didn't particularly care; things had been strained between Hannah and Bones since Parker took it upon himself to tell Hannah how much he missed Dr. Bones and how much time they all used to spend together, before she came along. He had gone into depth on how close his dad and best friend were, including telling her how everyone thought the partner's would someday admit they loved each other and live happily ever after. Hannah hadn't been impressed and now was suspicious of the time they spent together with nobody else around. She had even gone as far as to warn Brennan away, which didn't sit well with Booth when Angela told him.
"Yeah she's fine; this case was just hard on her."
Hannah didn't know what that meant, nobody had discussed Temperance's childhood around her, including Booth. She nodded and took a step toward him deciding she'd had enough talk about the bone genius, her arms wrapped slowly around her boyfriend in an effort to distract him.
It was eleven PM when Brennan finally decided to try and get some sleep, she was tired but her brain was running a million miles an hour. The image of Molly sitting on the sheet, Molly clutching the teddy, Molly taking her hand; the thoughts of that little girl all alone and frightened, thoughts of Tabitha and how easy it would be for Molly to slip through the cracks of a careless system. She climbed into bed and picked up her cell, debating whether she should call or not; old habits die hard. She pressed speed-dial number one and waited.
"Hey Bones you ok?"
She frowned, she had woken him, his voice was husky and sleep laden.
"Bones, what's wrong?"
Taking a deep breath she blurted out her fear.
"Do you still think I would be a good mother?"
Booth sat up, aware that Hannah was now watching him, he heard his girlfriend grumble under her breath, 'I think it's a little late for her to be calling Seeley'.
She repeated the question, wondering if his hesitation was the answer.
"Do you think I would be a good mother?"
"Bones, are you pregnant?"
"Then, what's all this ab..."
"Just please Booth, answer my question."
Booth threw his legs over the side of his bed and stood up.
"Yeah, I think you would be a fantastic mom Bones... the best."
Temperance wiped the tears from her eyes.
"Booth can we skip breakfast in the morning? There's somewhere I'd like you to come with me, before Tabitha's funeral."
"Ahh, ok sure, whatever you want Bones."
"Thanks Booth, goodnight and I'm sorry I woke you."
With that she hung up, her nerves were a little more settled but she was still feeling anxious. Booth on the hand was extremely confused and fully awake now. He placed his cell in his lap and scrubbed his hands over his face.
Booth glanced back to his girlfriend in the bed.
"Yeah... its ok Hannah, just go back to sleep."
He watched her sit up slowly.
"Are you coming back to bed baby?"
He rubbed the back of his neck and winced at the tension in he felt.
"Umm, not just yet, I might go watch the TV for a while."
He held his cell and walked out of his room closing the door firmly behind himself and approached his living room. His mind was turning constantly, a thousand questions in his head accompanied by a dull ache that he affectionately referred to as the 'Temperance ache'. Booth reclined himself back on the sofa and let out a deep sigh, he knew sleep would be elusive tonight.
Ok, so that's chapter one down, please review.
The statistics I spoke of are a generalization; abuse is broken up into different categories and cannot be counted as a whole, but the figures are sad and dismal.