They don't belong to me, sadly. And I don't make any money from this. I'm just playing for a while, and I'll put them back where I found them, honest.

To see the real characters, watch the Fox TV series. And to read a writer who's much better than me, you can't go far wrong with Kathy Reichs, who originally created Temperence Brennan.


Prologue Thursday 9.32pm

FBI Agent Seeley Booth was bored. He shifted his weight from one foot to the other, chewed on his fingernails, double checked his gun in its holster, and sighed. Even though he enjoyed most aspects of his job, surveillance – at least a boring surveillance job like this – was not one of them. He looked over again at the empty warehouse on the other side of the car park. Dark had fallen an hour ago, and he was sure that something was going to happen soon. He took out his phone and tapped his fingers on the buttons, running along the list of names. Who could he call? Cullen? He really didn't know any more whether he could trust him. Cotton? Hardly. Brennan? Booth considered for a moment. At least he knew he could trust Bones, but she'd made it clear earlier that she was busy. He didn't think she'd receive a phone call from him very well right now. He shook his head. She couldn't really help anyway. It was better to handle this on his own, at least for the present. He slid his phone back into his pocket.

Somewhere in the distance a dog barked. Apart from that there was very little sound. Booth tilted his head back, easing the crick in his neck, then stiffened as he heard a car engine in the distance. Here in a deserted trading estate on the outskirts of Washington traffic was scarce, and it was a good bet that any car in the area was there for much the same reason as he was. He made sure that he was fully concealed behind the bush, and made ready to move quickly. He felt for his gun and eased it out of the holster, readying his thumb over the safety catch.

The car drew closer and stopped outside the old factory unit, only a hundred yards from his current position. He held himself still as a man climbed out of the driver's seat and made his way to the door. As he knocked on the door it was opened from within, and for a moment Booth could see the outline of the visitor before he headed inside.

He made sure the car was now empty, then moved closer to the building. If this was the meeting he was waiting for, and he was sure now that it was, then it was vital he put himself in a position to find out some real information.

He eased himself round the corner. The windows in the wall were high and barred, but as he crept further along he found a window with a faint glow coming from inside. The window was larger than the rest, with no bars, and he surmised that it belonged to the office part of the building. He crouched down, worked his way further forward and lifted himself up to peer through the grime on the window. He was rewarded with a glimpse of the man he had seen outside, arguing with someone just out of his line of sight. He could see the man's arms moving animatedly, and could just hear a low murmur, but no words reached him.

Absorbed in what he could see, and trying to recall where he knew the man from, he did not notice he had company until he felt the cold steel of a pistol barrel pressed under his right ear.

"Nice and slow," said a voice from just behind him. "Drop your gun, put your hands in the air and turn around slowly."

Booth stiffened, but the steady pressure of the pistol convinced him even more than the voice that his captor meant business. He did as he was told, glancing down regretfully at his gun as it landed on a small pile of leaves near his feet.

A hand reached down and claimed his gun, then the pistol jerked. "That way. Now." Booth slowly walked back the way he had crept, towards the door in the side of the building.

"I've got him!" Booth's captor yelled suddenly. Booth jumped, wondering who the shout was aimed at. He had his answer as another man appeared from the other side of the building and met them at the door. That was when Booth realised that they had been expecting him. Even after all his precautions, he had fallen into a trap. Not for the first time, he cursed the case that had brought him into this situation, forced to work on his own, not knowing who to trust.

"You took your time." the man who opened the door from the inside – Dopey, Booth mentally christened him – must have been the one already installed in the building when the second man arrived. He looked as if he had not slept in days, and sported stubble that was in the process of deciding to be a beard. Booth looked past him into the large, dark warehouse, and spied the door at the far end where the other man must be waiting. He reluctantly walked towards the door, prodded onwards by the pistol. While two men walked just behind him, cutting off his retreat, the third man stayed by the car. Booth was seriously worried now. He looked around as he walked, looking for any signs of the business the men had to have been conducting, but could see nothing obvious. The place was almost empty, apart from a few crates in one corner of the room and what looked like a pile of rags just behind them. He wondered what was in the crates. It could be the merchandise these men were trading in. He would give anything for a chance to look inside. Well, almost anything. He shrugged to himself, and then stared as the door in front of him swung further open and he saw the man framed in the doorway.

"Hello, Agent Booth," the man greeted him. His pointed nose and close-set, beady eyes under a crop of dark hair were ringing a whole peal of bells, but the face must be completely out of its usual context, and he could not work out where he had seen it before.

"How do you know me?" he demanded.

"Oh, Agent Booth, I'm well informed," the man chuckled. "I know of all those who present a threat to my operation. Your name, you might be interested to hear, was almost at the top of the list."

Booth tried to outstare the man. "Not top? I'm disappointed."

The man bared his teeth, then turned to Dopey. "Tie him up," he ordered. Dopey grabbed some narrow rope from a desk behind the door and proceeded to tie Booth's hands together, pulling the knots painfully tight. Booth winced, but the pistol barrel waved threateningly in his direction and he stood still again. He managed to turn himself half round, and looked at the man who had captured him.

"Johnson," he said in disgust. "When did you get yourself mixed up with this crowd? You really should be more careful about the company you keep."

Johnson just smiled unpleasantly back, indicating Beady-eyes with his gun. "Pays well," he said laconically.

"Yeah, but the penalties are pretty harsh. Ow!" Booth pulled away from Dopey, but found himself unable to move his hands. The ropes dug tightly into his wrists, threatening to cut off the circulation.

"So, what do we do now?" Johnson demanded of Beady-eyes, who just shrugged.

"I don't see we have a problem," he answered shortly. "We're just about finished here. We clear out and go."

"And him?" Dopey indicated Booth.

"Finish loading the cars first. Then check around, make sure there's no-one else around. Find his car and take it somewhere. Then remove anything that may identify him and kill him."

Booth sat and watched the men working, from the corner where Johnson had thrown him down, complete with a swift kick in the ribs. They seemed intent on moving a pile of small boxes from the back office to the boots of the two cars outside. Booth nursed his bruises and speculated on what was in the boxes. They did not appear big enough or heavy enough to be guns. His guess was that it was money, part of the haul that had gone missing a month previously.

Johnson and Beady-eyes carried a couple of boxes out to the cars, while Dopey stood over Booth with the gun. Then Beady-eyes came running back in and shouted at Dopey. Dopey glanced in Booth's direction, then ran towards the door. Through the open doorway Booth could hear sirens. The two men disappeared outside the door into the darkness.

Booth looked towards the outside door and then the office door, trying to gauge the distance. He struggled to his feet and began to run towards the office. He had nearly made it when he heard a loud curse behind him. Desperately he charged through the doorway and threw himself over the desk and through the window on the other side of it, the same window he had looked through earlier. As he hit the windowframe with his shoulder he heard a gun fire behind him and felt an agonising pain in his side.

He landed on the bushes outside the window and rolled gratefully into their cover, gasping for breath. The last thing he heard was the sound of a siren in the distance, and for one disorientating moment he thought it was an ambulance coming for him, until he realised that it could have nothing to do with him. No-one knew he was there. No-one but the bad guys.


All feedback gratefully received :-)

Next part coming very soon.