"Bones, stop fidgeting!"
"But Booth ..."
Brennan slid down the wall and landed on the ground, next to her partner.
"How do we always seem to end up in these situations?" Booth sighed. There was very little light in the tiny room, just enough for Brennan to see how unnerved her partner seemed. He was huddled in a ball in the corner, his knees to his chest, fiddling with the bottom of his jeans. "You'd think there would be some unwritten rule about how often we could get thrown in a tiny crawlspace beneath a sadistic son-of-a-bitch serial killer's living room."
"Booth, are you okay?" Brennan watched as his eyes flicked around the tiny room, taking in the dirt floor and the trap door above their heads. His breathing had become laborious and quick.
"Yea, fine," he smiled at her but there was no reassurance in it. "Every thing's just peachy."
He closed his eyes and lent his head back against the wall.
Then she remembered. He was claustrophobic, wasn't he? How couldn't she have recalled of that?
"Booth," she took his hand. "Breath in. It's going to be okay."
"Yeah, yeah, it's going to be all right," his voice rose.
"Hey, I'm here. I'm here, Booth." He met her eyes and gave her the tiniest hint of a smile.
"Yeah, you're here."
Booth felt the horror rise up in him. The one thing, the one thing he feared, was here to haunt him. The walls started to close in around. They seemed to be getting closer. He felt disorientated, dizzy ... terrified. His hands felt sweaty and he closed his eyes.
"Booth? Are you okay?"
Slowly he shook his head. Clenching his fists, he tried to quell the memories inside of him. He could still recall the sensation as though it were yesterday. Curled in the dark, hands bound, unable to stand or even lay down fully.
It was hell.
He felt Brennan move closer to him and put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Do you – do you want to tell me about it?"
He opened his eyes and bit his lip. "I've never told anyone."
"You know you can trust me, right?"
It came out in a rush: "It was while I was back in the army, in the Gulf..."
He felt violently ill as the memories came back ...
It had been the middle of the night. Booth had been asleep, along with two others. That's how they worked. One keeping a look-out, the others resting. Next thing he knew, he was being dragged to his feet, hands being bound behind his back, guns pointed at his head. Booth had known that the worst thing to do was panic or fight. There was more of them and they were armed. So he, and his fellow comrades, had allowed themselves to be forced through the jungle, stumbling on branches, handcuffs cutting into their wrists, until they reached their destination.
They had been unbound and forced into a line, rubbing their chaffed wrists, trying to get circulation going again. Booth's feet hurt and his back ached. But, more importantly, he was worried. Worried about the fact that no one knew where they were. How long would it be until help came?
A door to the right had opened and walked a man. Booth's soldier facade had gone up, hiding the concern he felt for himself and his men. The beatings had begun.
"Bastards," whispered Brennan. Neither of them had noticed that she was gripping her partner's hand tightly. "Why didn't you fight them? Stop them? Do something?"
"We were in no position to pick a fight, or provoke them," Booth replied. "They had guns. We didn't. The odds weren't in our favour."
"Right," said Brennan. "Of course." They were silent for a moment. Then; "what happened next?"
"The man left. We were taken to a cell."
"Is that how you got claustrophobic?" she asked.
"No. It was bad, of course. There were six of us in a 12 by 12 cell, how could it not be? But it had windows and the other men where good company. "
"You know what they did to us, Bones," he said. She did. She remembered all the breaks and fractures. He'd been hurt. A lot. She could see the pain in his eyes as he relived the memories. "Some days we were too injured to even stand. There's no way to sugar-coat it - they tortured us for information. Badly."
He chuckled bitterly. "Do the words 'sadistic bastards' mean anything to you?"
There was a moments silence while she regathered her thoughts. "If you don't mind me asking ... urgh, well, I've read a bit about the, the, the treatment of POW's and ... well ... a scientist's interest and all ..."
"They pummelled our ribs and backs with bats and their feet with pipes, and threatened to kill us," Booth replied. Brennan could not help but notice the distance in his voice. He was speaking with detachment she had never heard before. "We had nothing but dirty water and soup and bread for food. They even took some pictures, but they were never released to the public, I don't think."
"Oh God, Booth," she said. Impulsively, unthinking, rashly, she reached out and placed her arm around her partner's shoulder, pulling him close. "I'm so sorry. I never knew." She felt him stiffen in her embrace.
"It's not your fault, Bones," he said.
"But I've never even bothered to ask or find out."
"It was years ago, Temperance." He looked her in the eye, and she saw how painful this reminiscing was. "It happened a long time ago," he said again, shrugging. She noticed him touch his feet unconsciously.
"Do they still hurt?" she asked.
"Occasionally," he replied. "After foot pursuit."
There was a moment of silence.
"So, what happened after that?" she prodded gently.
"Every couple days or so one of the soldiers would come into the cell and start to beat on one of us."
"Why?" She noticed him smile slightly at this innocent question and supposed it was because of the irony of the situation. Usually, he would ask her the exact same thing.
"I think it just for sport." Booth frowned at this. "They'd just do it for entertainment or because they were in a bad mood."
"Barbaric," Brennan whispered softly. Her partner nodded his agreement.
"One day they decided to focus on Mark." His frown grew even more. "Now, all of us were pretty young but Mark was just a boy. He was barely out of his training and this was one of his first major assignments. He was little more than a kid." He looked so sad, angry and upset. She had hardly ever seen those emotions on his face and, when she did, it was never to the decree they were now. She was almost afraid to ask her next question.
"What did they do to him?"
Now, Brennan couldn't believe the look of hate that appeared on Booth's face. If she had thought the emotions she'd been seeing before were alien, they had nothing on the fury she could see now. She realized she had seen the drop of the facade he so carefully wore. She never wanted to be on the receiving end of that look.
"They started to pound him with a bat. He was just a boy, and yet they still hurt him so badly, worse than they'd done to any of us."
Brennan could now understand his rage.
"One minute all we could hear was Mark's screams then the next minute I was pummelling the solider into a pulp."
"Really?" she asked in surprise.
"Yeah." His jaw clenched in anger. "It was like an out-of-body experience. I didn't even realise what I'd done until my brain finally had the chance to catch up."
"That was really brave, Seeley," Brennan said softly, still not believing what he'd done for, the kid, Mark. "But why did you do it?"
"Just imagine that Zach's standing beside you, in a POW camp, and he's about to get severely beaten." The image made Brennan understand. "Would you do everything you could to stop that from happening?"
"Yes. Yes I would," she said, agreeing. "It's still very brave."
"Thanks, Bones," Booth looked around the cell again. "I have no idea how I managed to do it but I do know that I couldn't let Mark keep getting hurt. Of course, there was no real point, because the other bastards would stop me in no time at all, but it was sorta like I was realising all my anger against them. I was so pissed at what they'd done. Would have liked longer but, of course, I only got ten seconds of thumpin' him, while they were too stunned to react."
"They would've been shocked," Brennan agreed, with a laugh, hoping to alleviate his anger. "Did you break his nose?"
"Of course, Bones," Booth replied, with a tiny smirk. "Then they broke my arm and I passed out. Woke up in complete darkness. An iso cell."
"Isolation cell." Neither of them noticed that his grip on her hand had gotten tighter.
"That's so cruel," said Brennan. "An isolation cell? Is that where you got the claustrophobia from?"
"Yeah," Booth nodded, looking down at his knees, which were still pulled to his chest. "Every time I'm trapped anywhere that's completely dark or cramped, I remember it. I can feel the cuffs on my wrists and ... and the cockroaches crawling over- over my skin. And I could barely move because it was so small and, even if it had of been big enough, my arm felt as though it had been snapped in half whenever I moved it." His voice was shaking and she could see him struggling to keep composure.
"It's okay," she said. "I promise, it's not like that this time. You're safe."
"Bones, we're trapped in a crawlspace under the house of a serial killer," he graced her with a tiny smile. "I wouldn't call that safe."
It was strange. He was always the one tell her everything was going to okay but now their roles were reversed. It spooked Brennan.
"Okay, not completely safe," she reiterated. "But I'm here with you."
"Thanks, Bones. I appreciated it."
They sat in silence for a moment.
"How long were you in the iso cell?" Brennan asked.
"Week and a half," he replied, trying to be notchant.
"A week and a half???" Brennan tried not to sound aghast.
He tried to stand up but found his hands were bound to the ground, with a thick chain and cuffs. He tried to lie out straight but found that his feet connected with the wall. He tried to block out the pain in almost every part of his body.He tried to forget about how hungry he was. He tried to ignore the feeling of cockroaches crawling over his back. He tried to take deep breathes to calm himself.
The cell was completely dark. He had no idea how long he stayed there, until they'd told him he'd been gone for almost two weeks. They'd thought he'd been ... .
He was barely fed by his captors.Every two or three days, he'd wake up to find an inadequate meal on the ground. It was bitter cold during the nights and unbearably hot during the days. Someway, somehow, he managed to keep composure, praying he'd be out of the horrid cell soon
Finally, after what seemed like years, the iso cell door opened and Booth found himself blinded by the brightness of the day. Placing his uninjured arm to his eyes, he braced himself for the on slaughter the guards would provide.
"He's here! Getting the fucking paramedics in here now!"
"Did you find him? Seeley? Hang in there, buddy."
"Tell the other guys that he's here, and he's alive."
"You're going to be okay, Seeley. You're going to be okay."
Booth barely registered the words that were being said but he understood their meaning.
They were rescued.
After hearing this recount Brennan understood. She understood why he was claustrophobic. She understood and pained for him.
Booth was taking deeper breaths now, eyes darting around the tiny room again, as if he expected it would turn into the cell.
She had to do something.
"Booth, lie down." He raised an eyebrow and looked at her in surprise.
"Lie down on your back."
"Bones, I don't know ... it's small and creepy and reminds me of ..."
"Please, just do it, Seeley." Sighing, Booth lay down on his back, with his knees bent so there was enough room and hands fiddling with his shirt. Scooting to lie down beside him, Brennan noticed that her partner visibly relaxed when she took her hand.
"Close your eyes," she said.
"This sounds extremely corny," he replied. "I don't think ..."
She didn't miss the way his glance darted around the enclosed space and the deep breaths he was taking.
"I'm serious, Booth." When he'd complied she did the same. "Do you remember that time we were at my house? You'd brought over Thai and I'd cracked open a new bottle of wine." [A/N: Yes, these two are in complete denial.
"Then the power went out," Booth supplied, with a small laugh, remembering the night.
"And we ended up eating in the dark –"
"As someone doesn't own any candles," he finished, poking her in the ribs.
"It's not my fault! I told you, Angela took my entire supply to paint or melt or draw or something."
"Sure, sure, Bones."
"It's the truth!" He gave a laugh. It was working. She was making him feel the tiniest bit at ease.
"Then after tea in the dark you asked 'what can we do now?'" Booth said, and Brennan could practically hear the eye roll in his voice.
"I didn't mean it like that," she insisted, not for the first time. "And you didn't have to reply with 'get you mind out of the gutter.' That's not what I meant."
"Sure, sure." There was a long pause while Booth remembered what had happened next. "Then we decided to lie on the ground and play something along the lines of truth or dare. In the dark. Where we couldn't see anything or each other. Bones..."
"Exactly, Booth," she said, with a smile he couldn't see. "This is the same."
"Zip it, Bones, zip not sew," Booth corrected instinctively.
"Zip it, Booth," she continued, "and imagine we're back at my house, and I'm telling you that 'I've allowed myself to be handcuffed during sex, once, and have you?'"
"I didn't need to know that, Bones," Booth said with a groan. "And you didn't have to bring that up again."
"Just because you start to blush wildly at my mere mention of sex ..."
"I don't blush."
"Yes, you do."
"No, I don't."
"Fine," Brennan said, rolling her eyes. "You change the subject as quickly as possible."
Special Agent Lockyer, donned in his FBI Kevlar vest and sporting a large weapon, was the first to spot the crawlspace. Calling over his comrades, he opened the small door, fearing what sight he'd see inside.
It wasn't what he'd expected.
Renowned Forensic Anthropologist and best-seller list author, Doctor Temperance Brennan, and ex-sniper-turned-one-of-the-top-homicide-FBI-agents, Special Agent Seeley Booth, were lying on their backs in the cramped space. That wasn't all that unusual.
What was unusual was the fact that their lips were centimetres apart.
His FBI mate and the pretty doctor were about to get it on in the crawlspace of a serial killer's house! Well, they said fear made people do crazy things.
At Lockyer's intrusion into their private moment, Booth and Bones looked up.
"Don't mind me," Lockyer said. "Forget I was ever here. Continue what you were doing."
With that he pulled the door shut, laughing when the bewildered duo started to protest.
This is for Knuckles, who said that this would be the best two part if they got together in the end. It took some cuttin' and pastin' on my part but I think it worked, yeah?
So what didcha's think, peeps?