Set through Season 2, before Bren breaks up with Sully.

Standard disclaimer goes here.

Please enjoy reading.

It was getting too dangerous for her. Despite his warnings to them, his carefully placed bodies with their entrails exposed… They were still closing in on her. He could sense the danger surrounding her as well as he had sensed it around her mother. But now he knew the quality of the danger had changed, and that deterring them would take more than just propping influential dead men, men from back then, alight over the city. Everyone who helped her on cases; the squints, her FBI partner, had all become pawns in a game that should have stopped as soon as it started. Nobody was safe anymore, at least as long as they stood between them and her.

He'd seen the look that had flickered between her and Booth when he'd left her, reluctantly but for her own safety, her own sanity, handcuffed to the bench. There'd been something between them that was more than professional respect, more than knowing they had each other's backs. And as much as he knew of his daughter; the first fifteen years followed by everything he had tried hard to learn since then told him that if Booth, or any of her squints, were killed because of her she wouldn't be able to cope. The men he'd killed himself, the gaudy warnings, had given her pause. Strangers to her, these men without morals, but no less dead and no less killed than to keep her alive. And even those less significant killings had hurt her.

If the warnings he was reading were being interpreted correctly; the dark car that sometimes followed her when she was leaving work late, the men in black glasses who stood outside the Jeffersonian and pretended to talk on cell phones until they were called away from their posts, then his only daughter was in a far deeper danger than he'd imagined.

He couldn't face it anymore. He wasn't going to watch her killers draw the noose tighter, the way the net they'd cast around her mother had abruptly, sickeningly pulled so suddenly tight.

He wasn't going to watch her die.

Something had to be done.

xXx xXx xXx

She was working late again. The whole team was working late, again. A woman had been found in a storm drain that afternoon, after recent rain had coaxed her out. She was almost unrecognisable, flesh off more than it was on. Zack's preliminary tests showed that the hyoid bone was broken before a sharp implement had been used to score the flesh, probably to make it dissolve better in the water. Hodgins was working on the particulates that had been collected as evidence, to see if they could pinpoint where she had floated from to end up splayed at the end of Hanover street where the storm drains emptied their swollen stomachs into an empty lot that siphoned the water further down as it obeyed gravity and edged closer to the ocean. Lucky for them a bystander had been collecting algae readings for the government's ongoing promised water purification program and had called 911 as soon as his shaking fingers allowed it after the corpse had almost landed in his lap.

"Hodgins wanted me to give you this. He said he'll be in early in the morning to finish analysing the particulates found in her skull." Booth came into the room, almost filling the doorway. Brennan nodded. She was looking at x-rays Zack had taken. Their Jane Doe had been an avid squash player judging by wear on the bones.

"I've pestered the FBI records centre as much as I can for one night. Time to get some sleep so we can start looking for the killer tomorrow."

"I'm just going to finish up looking at these. Try to find out as much as I can about her so that when Ange matches up her face tomorrow we can be sure it's the right person."

"It's coming up to nine, Bones."

"Well since I don't have a hot date tonight, time is irrelevant." Booth smiled as Brennan switched x-rays and kept making notes.

"Bones makes a joke. I'll note the time."

"Actually I was being serious." She switched x-rays again. He paused.

"You and Sully hit a rocky patch?" She shook her head and looked at him over the x-ray.

"He and I are... Friends."

"Friends with benefits." Booth said.

"Angela says that a lot. I don't know what that means."

"Of course you don't." Booth smiled to himself as she looked back down. "See you in the morning?"

"Yeah. In the morning." She nodded, not looking up this time, sinking deeper into her world of reading the marks left behind for her, deciphering patterns that, to everyone else, seemed meaningless.

As Booth left the office he heard the phone ring and idly wondered who would be calling Bones at this hour. Whistling as he left the lab, Booth filed the phone call to the back of his mind. He was thinking up something to do with Parker that weekend. They'd done a boat show the last time and the aquarium before that. Maybe there was a ball game on somewhere.

"Brennan." She wondered who would call her this late. Booth or Sullivan were the only ones who gave her late night phone calls but Booth had just left after managing to gauge her relationship with Sully effectively; they were going through a rocky patch. She didn't need anything more than intellectual conversation and sex. He wanted emotional attachment. It had been the same with Michael, David and Peter; they'd all wanted more of her than was on offer.

"Tempe, it's Russ." Brennan dropped the x-ray she'd been looking at and put both hands on the phone.

"Russ! Where are you? Are you all right? Where's Dad?"

"I'm fine, but I need to see you. There's not much time." He sounded as if he was talking from far away and she strained to hear.

"I can meet you somewhere. The diner?"

"I'm on my way to your house now."

"Okay, I'll see you in ten." Brennan hung up and shuffled the x-rays into an awkward pile on her desk before sweeping them into her drawer. She'd be in before anyone else tomorrow to finish working on them. She grabbed her coat and bag before digging out her phone, meaning to call Booth to tell him Russ had called. It bleeped once, wearily, before shutting itself down. She was going to put it on the charger this afternoon but had been caught up looking at remains. Maybe she could catch him on the way out.

"Damn." Throwing it back in her bag, she hurried down the stairs and past the lab. Zack was still bent over the bones but the light looked like it was off in Ange's office. She'd probably left with Hodgins.

"Zack, you can go home. We'll keep going tomorrow."

"Sure, Dr. Brennan." Zack said to her back. He secured the bones, switched off the lab lights and turned the secondary lab alarm on. Turning, he expected to see Dr Brennan standing at the door; they usually walked out together, talking about the case or the latest news in the forensic science journal. Instead, the exit was clear; obviously Dr. Brennan had been in a hurry.

Meanwhile, Brennan was whispering curses under her breath at drivers who, despite the moderately late hour, still felt they needed to drive under the speed limit. Booth would have called them 'driving Miss Daisy-ers' but Brennan didn't know what that meant. The general idea was the same.

She slipped into the bus lane and accelerated until she could get back into the lane, celebrating the fact that she'd decided on a car with some power. Getting into the turning lane, she made it through on orange and pushed the pedal down again. All she could think of was Russ. She'd known he would be safe with their father but she still hadn't gotten over the puddle of blood she'd found in her kitchen, acknowledging how much it had scared her to think she could lose more family. Before that case had ended, she'd found her father, then lost both of them in an ending that reminded her, again, that family wasn't something she was meant to have.

Pulling up outside, she bleeped the car shut and hurried upstairs. Nobody was waiting outside. She checked her watch. It had been at least twenty minutes since Russ had called. Unlocking the door, she stepped inside, reaching for the light switch. Before she could find it, there were stars and a sudden fade to endless black.