Hello everyone…yes, I am still alive and have finally started writing again. I must apologize for letting this story sit un-updated for so long. I do intend to finish it and I hope you will forgive my period of writer's block and competing priorities. Thanks to all of you who reviewed my last chapter way back when…I very much appreciated your comments and I offer special thanks to those of you who sent me emails to kick me in the butt and encourage me to get writing again. I hope you like the rest of the story; please keep reviewing. So here we go…chapter 7….


Booth stood with eyes closed, head tilted forward, his chin resting on his chest as he savored the warmth of the water running over his battered body. He stretched tentatively, relishing the sensation as the myriad of knots and contusions in his sore muscles seemed to melt away under the ministrations of the soothing hot water. The shower really was a good idea. He opened his eyes exhaustedly, never lifting his head as the accumulated dirt, blood and sweat rolled off his body. He grimly watched the filth swirl its way down the drain and found himself wondering just how much time had passed since he had walked into that pub…ten hours? …twelve? Hell, for all he knew it could have been more than a day. He felt disoriented and confused. What in God's name was happening here?

Try as he might, his tired mind couldn't come up with any reasonable motive for Roberto Ortez to go to this much trouble to take him. Sure, Ortez had every reason to hate him, so why not just kill him when he had the chance? It didn't make sense. Booth was sure that it had something to do with the capture of Xavier de Jesus Ortez, but there was no way Roberto Ortez could use a captured FBI agent to free his brother or silence a protected witness.

His musings were interrupted by a loud knock on the bathroom door. Booth had just managed to turn off the water when the door swung wide and Marianna strode in carrying a stack of towels in the crook of her right arm and what looked like a doctor's medical bag in her left hand. He yelped in embarrassment and turned away quickly. "Do you mind?" he growled. "Give me a towel…."

"No, I don't mind," she answered. Marianna seemed oblivious to the fact that he was naked. Her face revealed no emotion as she ran her eyes over the well-muscled agent's body, wincing at the large ugly bruises radiating over his torso. She hissed disapprovingly, placed the medical bag on the tiled floor, then unfolded a large towel and reached forward to dry his skin. He grabbed the towel from her hands and stepped away quickly, pulling it around his hips as he tried to regain his composure, ignoring the jab of pain as his ribs protested the sudden movement.

Marianna cocked her head curiously to one side, surprised by the agent's obvious embarrassment. "Agent Booth…do not be childish…I need to examine your injuries."

Booth scowled, "You still haven't said who you are or why I'm here…doesn't make me feel too cooperative…How do I know that you're even a doctor? ...you could be a pervert for all I know…"

She sighed and her expression hardened. " You will be examined…it is your choice as to whether you sit still and allow it, or whether I have Juan and Diego come in here to restrain you …" She picked up the medical bag and waved a hand towards the door where two armed men, presumably Juan and Diego, now stood. "So how would you like to proceed, Agent Booth?"

Booth's scowl deepened and he clutched the towel tighter to his waist. He didn't seem to have a lot of options. Damn it… "Alright, it's your game, for now," he said, his voice flat. "I will let you have a look at me… but just you…" He nodded towards the two at the door. "They can wait outside…"

Marianna shook her head and grabbed him firmly by the elbow. "You have no say in who stays or who goes, Agent Booth…" She steered him out of the bathroom and towards the metal table in the larger room. "They will remain to make sure that you don't change your mind…" She spoke quickly to the two men in Spanish and they took up position on either side of the exit as she patted the metal table which was now covered by a white sheet. "Lay down…"

Booth eyed the two men for a moment, weighing the likelihood disarming both of them in his current state. The odds were definitely not on his side. He sighed and did as he was told, the towel still tightly gripped around his hips as he slid onto the table, wincing at the surge of pain the new position provoked.

Her hands felt warm as she probed his bruised ribcage, withdrawing quickly when he gasped in pain. She replaced her hands, a determined look on her face, this time pushing her fingers deeper into his skin despite his obvious discomfort. "Ow…hey, yeah that hurts…stop poking me…" She ignored his words and pressed into his torso more forcefully, this time using the palm of her hand. Booth cringed and tried to sit up. "I said stop…."

Marianna glared at him and pushed him back down on the table. "You agreed to be examined, Agent Booth…" her tone reminded him somehow of his own mother. "Now, be a good boy and lie still, or else…" He hated being spoken to as if he were a child and said so. "Well stop acting like one…" Marianna responded in an impatient voice. "This is for your own good you know…"

Booth felt his anger rising. "My own good…" he snarled. "Who the hell do you think you are Lady?" He slapped her hands away and forced his way into a sitting position. "I was tackled, knocked out, chained like a freaking dog inside a goddamned crate in the belly of an aircraft going God knows where, beaten up by your boss then dragged here in the trunk of a freaking car…"

As he continued his rant, Marianna sighed, stepped back and signaled the two men standing by the door to approach. "I will say this again…" she scowled, "…and for the last time. If you do not allow me to look at you, you will be restrained. Now, lay down." Immobile, Booth glowered at Juan and Diego as they crossed the floor, his face defiant.

His expression changed abruptly and he regretted provoking her the moment he saw the Taser in Diego's hand. Oh shit…bad idea. He raised his hands… too late. The Taser fired and Booth tried unsuccessfully to dodge the small dart-like projectiles. They punctured the skin on his forearm and the agent convulsed as the electric shock was delivered. He grunted in pain, his eyes clamped shut.

Marianna screamed and leapt towards Diego. "No, no, no…just restrain him….hold him down…not this…" Diego ignored her, his finger on the trigger, delivering another jolt to the incapacitated, groaning Booth. She grabbed the man's arm, "I said NO! You're hurting him…." Diego finally lowered the weapon and Booth collapsed, his body pitching forward onto the tiled floor. Mercifully, he was only partially aware of the sudden screaming pain in his ribs when his torso struck the hard surface. The Taser left him completely disoriented and unable to control his muscles. He was aware and yet not aware of Marianna as she pulled the Taser darts out of his forearm, rolled him onto his side and checked his vital signs. The two goons retreated to their posts on either side of the door under her furious glare, Diego shrugging, a cruel smirk on his face.

His breathing was ragged and, as sensation came back into his body, Booth moaned in agony from the increased pressure in his chest. He felt like a fish out of water and fought to suck as much air as possible into his lungs. Marianna quickly pulled out a stethoscope and pressed it into his back. Her face became grim and she glared at the two goons standing by the door. "You go too far, you idiots," she said coldly. "I was told he would not be harmed further…that was completely unnecessary."

Diego just stared back unspeaking, a cold look on his face. Juan snorted. "You wanted him restrained…. Well, he's not fighting anymore is he?"

She shot them one last scathing look and turned her attention back to the agent writhing on the floor. "Agent Booth…" she said, "I am sorry. I did not intend for such a weapon to be used."

He scowled at her, the pain that was flaring in his ribcage evident in the lines etched on his face. "So I've got busted ribs…" he managed to gasp. "Why can't I breathe? It feels like someone parked a truck on my chest…"

"One of your ribs must have punctured your lung when you fell off the table." Marianna looked concerned. "Can you get up?" He struggled to rise, the towel forgotten, cringing as she half dragged him back onto the table. Marianna quickly covered his naked body with a sheet then pressed the stethoscope against his chest, her eyes closing as she listened to his ragged breathing and racing heartbeat. Her face became grim and she opened her eyes. "Your chest cavity is filling with air, Agent Booth," she said. "We must get the air out…"

His eyes widened as he watched her quickly pull a length of clear tubing and a scalpel out of one of the metal drawers under the table; hanging the tubing around her neck, she found a bottle of alcohol and began pouring the liquid over the scalpel blade. "Wait, wait…" he gasped, once again trying to sit up. "I don't even like needles…that knife is freaking me out…" He tried to continue but the pressure building in his chest seemed to choke off his words.

She pressed him back down then threw a glance towards Juan and Diego. "You two, get over here now and hold him down…" The two goons approached and Booth felt his panic rising as they held him firmly against the table, looks of cruel pleasure on their faces. He struggled against their grip, hissing loudly as the movement caused the fire in his chest to blaze even more. Marianna put a hand on his shoulder and locked her eyes on his. "Please…you must lie still, Agent Booth. I must in put a chest tube to release the pressure…" The look on her face made him stop struggling; he gritted his teeth and nodded. Marianna took a deep breath and splashed some of the alcohol over his torso. Using her left hand to feel for the space between his ribs, she tentatively pushed the scalpel blade against his skin. Booth cried out and jerked his body away, in spite of himself. Marianna pulled the blade back quickly and growled at the goons. "I said hold him! Tightly…don't let him move!" Booth gasped as the two men pressed their bodies into his, pinning him down; he steeled himself for the pain as Marianna brought the scalpel down forcefully, no hesitation this time. He clenched his teeth, allowing only a low moan to escape his lips as she cut into his chest wall, quickly inserted the tube and taped it in place.

The burning from the incision suddenly didn't seem so bad as the pressure inside his ribcage mercifully began to ease. He closed his eyes and tried to slow his racing pulse, savoring the sensation of his lungs expanding. Breathing easier, he opened his eyes and looked at Marianna. "Thank you…" he rasped. "That's better…"

The grim line of Marianna's mouth turned into a small smile of relief. "You are welcome….now don't move." She waved Juan and Diego back to their position by the door and glanced back to her patient, who was shifting uncomfortable on the table. "I mean it Agent Booth….don't move. That's the first time I have ever put in a chest tube and I want to make sure it doesn't fall out."

He glanced at her quickly. "What do you mean…the first time?" he asked. "I thought you said you were a doctor…"

Her smile increased and she looked mischievous. "I said I was a doctor, of a sort…" He eyed her, not understanding. "I am a veterinarian," she finally stated. "…specializing in large animals…" His eyes widened and she continued. "…although, technically I guess you would qualify as a large animal…"


Brennan found herself pacing furiously in the atrium of the Miami Zoo's administrative building. This was taking far too long. The teams searching the habitat zones were only about a third done and her own search of the veterinary facilities with Cullen had been interrupted by an urgent call for the Deputy Director. After a few terse words spoken on his cell phone, Cullen insisted they go back to the office so he could use a land line. He had been on the phone for over twenty minutes and she was seething when he finally opened the office door and motioned for her to come inside.

"Deputy Cullen'" she growled. "This is ridiculous…Booth is out there somewhere and you stop our search to take a phone call…" She looked like she was ready to punch someone.

Cullen raised a hand. "Enough, Dr. Brennan…enough! We don't have time for this." When she stopped ranting he continued. "The Bureau received a communication from the Ortez network…maybe even from Roberto himself…" Brennan's mouth closed and she eyed the Deputy Director grimly as he went on. "They have confirmed that they are holding Agent Booth." Brennan realized that Cullen was just barely managing to control his own anger and did not dare interrupt. "They are threatening to kill Booth if we don't drop the charges against Xavier and release him from prison." He sat down heavily on the corner of the desk. "They also want us to produce the witness."

Brennan scowled. "That doesn't make sense. Ortez must know that the Bureau could not make a deal like that, no matter what they threatened to do to Booth."

Cullen nodded. "I know…but they are giving us 24 hours to meet their demands…or else Booth is dead."

Brennan was silent for several seconds and then stared at Cullen, a look of determination on her face. "Well then, we better find him fast."