"How's my little Squint today, huh? Aren't you just the cutest and the sweetest and the prettiest baby girl in the whole world? Yes you are! Daddy loves you . . . yes he does . . ." Booth cooed and made silly faces over his newborn daughter.
Brennan silently watched, trying hard not to smile at his overly affectionate and illogical display.
"It's impractical to talk to our child with that tone and language, Booth. She should learn from an early age how to properly communicate," she told him, walking into the kitchen.
Booth's cheery face fell as he prepared for another lecture, much like the one he received years ago when they were taking care of baby Andy.
"But . . . there are times when I find it endearing," she finished, giving him a soft kiss on his lips.
"Ya hear that, princess? Mommy likes it when Daddy talks silly! Yes she does . . . aww . . ." he cooed at his daughter again.
"In moderation," she corrected him.
"You like it, Bones . . . you know you like it . . ." Booth teased, tickling Brennan and chasing her down as she tried to escape his grasp, their daughter making noises in delight.
"Booth . . ." she giggled.
He drew her in for a loving kiss until his phone rang.
"Booth," he barked. "Yeah. We'll be there."
Brennan looked at him quizzically.
"Gotta go – we got a case!" he said, grabbing Christine's carrier and heading for the door.
"Booth! I'm not dressed yet!" she exclaimed, exasperated, and ran to the bedroom. "And neither are you, for that matter!"
Booth, still in boxers, came running back in for his pants.
"What do we got?" Booth asked, approaching the crime scene, the FBI parking garage.
"Looks like another victim of -" Hodgins replied, pointing to the headless skeleton.
"Pelant . . ." Brennan finished Hodgins' sentence for him as she began to examine the mangled remains. "Female, early thirties . . . Has given birth to a child . . . The third phalange of the left hand is absent . . ."
"Did she have an engagement ring or something he wanted?" Hodgins guessed.
"It means something more cryptic than that. Perhaps Pelant used it to suggest a lack of marital status?" Brennan suggested.
"Bones – look over there," Booth told her.
"'Where is my child?'" Brennan read Pelant's signature blood-written message. "Hodgins, have the team transport the remains back to the Jeffersonian. We have to find this child before Pelant gets to her or him."
"If he already hasn't," Booth commented.
"The skull is unattached and nowhere to be found," Brennan observed.
"Dr. B!" Wendell ran into the garage. "You've gotta come see this!"
Brennan and Booth both followed him outside and saw the skull replacing one of the Os of the Hoover.
Brennan walked into Booth's office apprehensive about revealing to Booth the evidence she and her team had uncovered.
Booth, oblivious, began telling her what he found out.
"Hey, Bones. I contacted all of the local schools and daycare facilities in the area to see if any kid was missing, as well as all the Missing Persons reports within the last few days. Did you find anything out from the victim?" he asked.
"Booth . . ." Brennan hesitated, the paper containing Angela's mock-up of the victim shaking in her hand.
Booth's phone rang and interrupted them.
"Dad? Mom was supposed to pick me up from soccer practice over an hour ago, but she's not here. Do you where she is?" Parker asked him.
"I don't know, bub. That's not like your mom, but I'll be right there, okay?" Booth answered.
"Okay, Dad. Thanks!" Parker replied and hung up.
"Booth, I think I know why Rebecca was not there for Parker this afternoon," Brennan slowly told him and revealed the digital drawing. "The particulates match."
Booth took one look at it and had to brace himself with the desk to keep from falling.
"Oh, god!" he exclaimed. "No! No, Ang must've gotten it wrong. Rebecca's fine . . . she just got caught up with work or something and forgot. It happens to the best of us . . . no, it's not her. It's not her, Bones! I can't – I can't tell Parker that – NO! No it's not her!"
Brennan came around his desk and put her hand gently on his arm.
"Booth, I'm so sorry. I – I can't imagine what you are going through at this moment, but I will do my best to help you however I can," she promised.
"It's not Rebecca, Bones," Booth vowed. "My son will not grow up without a mother – not like I did . . . not like you did . . ."
Brennan pulled him into a comforting embrace.
"Okay, Booth. It's okay. We'll get through this," she soothed him, gently kissing his cheek and continuing to rub his back as he broke down in her arms.
"Parker! Bones, that son of a bitch could be after him right now!" Booth realized and bolted out of his office.
Brennan ran to catch up with him.
"I'm coming with you!" she insisted.
Booth blocked the exit from her.
"No – Bones, it's not safe! God knows where that sick bastard is or what he'll do! Just get Christine and go home. I'll meet you there, okay?" he argued.
"And you think going by yourself is a logical idea? Booth, you have a personal interest in this case. You aren't thinking like an agent at the moment, you have an emotional investment. I'm going with you," Brennan insisted, pushing past him through the revolving doors.
Booth followed, knowing there wasn't any time to debate the subject any longer or any use changing Brennan's mind when she made it up. He caught up with her in the garage and they both climbed in his SUV and sped off.
They drove in awkward silence for a few minutes before Brennan spoke.
"Angela and Hodgins said they would watch Christine tonight. And Cam offered to take her tomorrow night if we needed it," she said.
"That's not necessary, Bones," Booth said, trying to focus on driving.
"Booth, Parker will need our full attention for the next two or three days. I think it's best if we -" she argued.
"I said, 'no', Bones!" Booth snapped. "I don't even know if we're telling Parker anything yet."
"Why wouldn't we? Booth . . . are you still unconvinced of my team's findings? Because I can assure you that -" she asked.
"I get it. And I believe you wouldn't have told me if you weren't positive the ID was a match. I trust you guys – I just – I don't know . . ."
"You haven't had time to accept it yourself and would feel more comfortable waiting until you have . . . You want to be able to be there for your son," Brennan guessed.
"H-How did you know?" he asked.
"Because I know you, Booth. You're strong for everyone else, but deep down, I know you are hurting too," she observed.
"Can we talk about this later?" he requested as they pulled up in front of Parker's school. "I'll tell him, but not here. Not now."
"Of course. But we will have to discuss what you are feeling," she insisted.
"Okay, Bones. Promise," Booth said as they walked toward the empty soccer field. "Parker?"
"Parker! Parker?" Brennan called and searched the bleachers.
"I'll check the locker room – he's always forgetting something," Booth explained, but pulled out his gun just in case.
"I'm coming with you," Brennan insisted, afraid of what or who they might find.
"Parker, hey, buddy it's your dad – and Brennan," Booth called and they weaved around the lockers.
"Booth, I hear water running," she noticed, pointing toward the showers.
Booth cautiously approached the shower.
"Hello?" he said. "FBI - answer or I'm comin' in there!"
No one answered, so Booth ripped the curtain open, finding diluted blood on the floor.
"Parker? Parker, are ya in here?" Booth called, praying the blood wasn't from his son.
Brennan shared a feared look with him.
"Dad?" Parker said, coming through the door from the school building.
"Parker! Don't ever do that to me again!" Booth berated and hugged his child at the same time.
"What? What's wrong? I just went to get a bandaid from the nurses' office. Coach ran out of 'em," he explained, pointing to his skinned knee.
"You had me worried, alright? If you promise to meet me in a certain spot – keep that promise," Booth insisted.
"He's okay, Booth," Brennan assured her partner while hugging Parker. "Aren't you, Parker?"
"I'm great! Why do you guys look so worried?" he asked.
"Just turn off the shower, buddy," Booth told his son and headed for the car. "We'll talk later."
"Would you like to have pizza for dinner?" Brennan offered, knowing it was his favorite after practice or a game.
"Dad? Can we?" the boy looked at his father with hopeful eyes.
"You heard the lady – delivery or homemade?" he asked.
"Do ya have to ask? I love Bren's pizza – especially when you try to help!" Parker exclaimed. "The last time, you slipped on an eggshell and got flour all over you!"
"As I recall, you were a big mess, too, after I got you and Bones back for laughin' at me," Booth remembered as they got in the car.
"And mom's face when she came to pick me up and saw us – it was hilarious!" Parker laughed.
"Yeah, that was pretty hilarious, Parks . . ." he agreed, attempting to hide the sadness in his voice.
"Where is Mom? Why didn't she pick me up? Am I staying with you guys, tonight?" Parker asked.
"Yeah, you're stayin' with us, tonight, buddy," Booth answered.
"Cool! Can I play that new forensics game on the Wii?" he begged.
"We'll see," Booth bargained.
"Is Mom picking me up, tomorrow?" he inquired.
"Actually, you're gonna be stayin' with us for a little while," Booth told his son.
"How long? 'Cause I have a biology report due on Friday – I left my research at home," he remembered.
"We'll get it before then," Booth promised.
"Maybe Mom can drop it off, tonight?" Parker suggested.
"Hey – we're home! How 'bout that pizza, Parks? I'm starvin'!" Booth attempted to distract his son for a while. "What do ya want on yours?"
"I phone the gluten-free goat cheese!" Brennan played along.
"It's 'call' not phone, Bones. And you're welcome to it!" Booth cringed. "Parker and I'll take fresh mozzarella any day!"
"And pepperoni!" Parker added. "Is Grandpa Max here with Christine? He always has cool stories to tell."
Brennan wondered how much her father had indulged about his life, but dismissed it.
"No, Parker. Your sister is spending time with Angela, Hodgins, and Michael," she answered, entering the kitchen.
"Oh. That's okay. I like it better when it's just us," he replied.
"Parker . . ." Booth scolded.
"Sorry . . . I was just telling the truth," he excused.
"It's alright, Booth. Parker should be allowed to express his feelings. It doesn't mean that he doesn't love his sibling, just that he wishes to spend quality time with his father," Brennan understood as she got out the ingredients.
"Fine. Just watch it, okay?" Booth warned.
"Yeah, Dad," Parker agreed.
"So – pizza!" Booth changed the subject, grabbing each of them a ball of dough.
"Dad?" Parker asked.
"Yeah, bub?" Booth said.
"Something's wrong, isn't it?" he assumed.
"Why do ya think that?" he feigned innocence.
"'Cause you let me have pizza and popcorn and ice cream and brownies and stay up late and play video games on a school night. And you won't mention where Mom is," Parker pointed out. "Is she in the hospital? Can I see her?"
"No, Parker . . . she's not in the hospital . . . Why don't you come sit on the couch in here?" Booth answered, looking at Brennan nervously as he led his son to the couch in the family room.
"I . . . will give the two of you some privacy," she said and started to go into her office.
"No – Bones – stay," he pleaded. "We're a family."
The words sat heavily with the two of them after they were spoken out loud.
"Are you guys having another baby?" Parker asked.
"No, Parker . . . your sister is still very young. It would be irresponsible and impractical to have another infant so soon," Brennan explained.
"Then you're getting married, right?" he guessed. "Dad told me you were gonna propose to him. That's really weird – girls don't propose."
"Anthropologically speaking, the male partner usually proposes to the female partner. However, in recent years, it has been found that occasionally females will propose to the males," she informed the boy. "But I have not proposed to your father at this time."
"Oh," he replied, confused. "Then what's going on?"
"Parker, uh, we need to tell you something about your mom. And we want you to know that we'll always be there for you – no matter how bad things are." Booth promised his son.
Parker looked at his dad, then Brennan.
"Just tell me, okay? I'm not a kid anymore – I'm in middle school," he insisted.
"Buddy, your mom . . . well, we – I – I can't even say it," Booth attempted to reveal the truth.
"Your mother was a victim - we discovered her identity in our most recent case. She . . . is no longer living." Brennan tried to put the news delicately.
"She's . . . dead? S-She's dead? How? W-Why?" Parker said, his voice quivering.
"The, uh, the guy we're tryin' to catch . . . he wanted to make a point. And he did another bad thing – an unthinkable thing. He took your mother's life," Booth explained.
"Why would he do that? She didn't do anything wrong! She's a great mom – a great person . . . You - you're lying!" Parker accused his father.
"I'm not lying, buddy. I have always told you the truth – always," he reminded him.
"He's not, Parker. I'm sorry, but your father is telling you the truth," Brennan assured him.
"You're lying, too! You probably want Mom to be dead just so she won't ever get in the way of you and Dad!" Parker stormed out, tears streaming down his face.
Brennan flinched at the very thought of Parker's scenario.
"Parker Booth, get back here right now and apologize to Brennan!" Booth yelled, going after him.
Brennan put her hand on his chest to stop him.
"Booth, no! Just let him go – he has a right to be angry. Despite his untrue and hurtful accusations, he lost his mother . . . it's a difficult issue to cope with," she told him, remembering her own mother's death.
"You're right . . . Maybe you could help him – when he's ready?" he suggested.
"I'm still not very good with emotional situations, but I will do the best I can," she promised. "Are you prepared to discuss your feelings?"
"Now?" he complained. "C'mon, Bones. It's been a long, horrible day. Can we please table this conversation for another time? Parker's the one I'm worried about - I'm fine."
"You're not fine, Booth. The mother of your child was murdered. We're sharing our lives together – let me help you through this," she pleaded.
"I don't – I don't want you to have to deal with this, Bones. Rebecca . . . I don't – I never loved her like I love you – not even close. But I still cared about her – she gave me Parker - I wouldn't trade that for anything . . . And now she's gone, all because of that sick bastard!" he restrained himself from throwing something in frustration. "What am I gonna do? And you . . . you didn't ask for this either. Having an eleven-year-old kid on the weekends and part of the summer is one thing – but all the time? You didn't sign up for this."
"Parker is your son, Booth. Of course I never planned to assist in raising him full time, but I did not plan on a lot of things that have happened in my life," she took his hand and smiled shyly. "Parker is a remarkable child and I have grown to love him very much. I realize this is not the ideal situation, but I am willing to make it work. As you have mentioned, we are a family."
"You have no idea how much that means to me, Bones," Booth told Brennan, pulling her into a warm embrace.
"I love you, Booth," she told him. "And I'm very sorry this tragedy occurred."
"Me, too, Bones. Me, too," he told her, holding her tight.