Disclaimer: OIBIBA doesn't own the show or any of the charachters.


She left the SUV smiling and said goodnight to Booth. Another case finished, another murderer in jail.A sense of pride filled her as she made her way up to her apartment. It always pleased her when she was able to help bring her victims justice. She planned on writing a chapter or two of her novel over a glass of wine before bed. A smile still gracing her lips as she unlocked her apartment and went inside, locking the door behind her immediately, not noticing anything out of place. Not noticing the foreboding presence in her apartment. Not noticing the man lurking just inside her kitchen, nor the other two beside the entrance way hidden by the wall leading into her hallway.

Brennan threw her purse on the coach as she turned around to put her coat away in the hall closet. The moment she turned around a cold voice resonated through the apartment.

"Welcome home Dr. Brennan."

She turned around and found herself eye to eye or face to facewith Howard Epps...She stood in front of him, frozen in shock.

"My dear Dr. Brennan! I believe I have rendered you speechless."

Regaining her composure she stared back at him, slight confusion in her eyes being quickly overtaken by fear and anger. "I don't know what that means. But I do know that you, Howard, are supposed to be in prison. How did you get out?" Her voice cold and calculating as she tried to devise the best means of escape in her head. Her eyes darting around the room and noticing another man, she had thought was imprisoned as well, now blocking her path towards the door. The Navy Seal guy, what was his name? She thought back hard. Searching her memory she finally found the name she was searching or looking for. Dane McGinnis, from the pirate case. At a loss of what to do she just stood, trying to calculate what would be the best course of action. She felt cornered.

Epps saw the uncertainty flicker in her eyes. She tries to hide it well. Booth should've taught her better...He held out the phone to her."Call Agent Booth."

"I will do no such thing!" She said, swatting the phone away from her. "I will not willingly get him involved in your antics. He's not a part of this Howard." Her eyes shown bright with fury. I can take care of myself. She thought almost futilely trying to convince herself. I can't drag Booth into this mess and get us both killed, at least this way he'll be safe. He'll probably feel it in his 'gut' and come anyway though. He'll figure it out. Her gaze almost bore right through Epps, as she tried to conceal her fear and give him a look of sheer anger and determination.

You have to give her credit for trying. Epps smirked. Not that it will work. "Fine, Dr. Brennan. Have it your way. Dane?" Epps took a step back and looked amusedly when Dane and Dr. Brennan started to circle each other. She's waiting for him to make the first move... Not as confident as you want me to think?

Dane was getting impatient. He lunged at her.

She saw it the instant before he made his move towards her. His body had jerked ever so slightly, giving away what he was planning on doing. Normally a person might have missed it, but to her trained eye, she caught it instantly and jumped to the side, bringing her elbow down into his right side as he moved towards her. She then turned to face him again, hoping to land another blow before he recovered his breath.

Unfortunately, he was prepared for her.

He blocked her blow and watched her double over in pain as his fist collided with her abdomen. He quickly pinned her arms behind her back and incapacitated her.

Epps grinned and said. "Done playing games, Dr. Brennan?" He turned around and said to Dane. "Cover her mouth... But be careful... She'll bite you if she gets the chance..." Epps opened her contact list on her phone and found Booth almost instantly. He hit the dial button and watched Dr. Brennan struggle with a great sense of pleasure. Epps listened to the dial tone. Waiting for Booth to pick up the phone.

"Hey Bones, what's up?" Booths voice sounded slightly confused as he had just left her house no more than twenty minutes ago with plans to see her in the morning. Why would she be calling me now?

"Hello Agent Booth. This is..." Epps was interrupted by Booth as he recognized Epps voice.

"Where is she, Epps?" His anger and resentment towards Epps as unmistakable as his concern for Brennan. "If you hurt her...."

Epps smiled as he heard the concern so obvious in Booth's voice. "If I hurt her, you'll what? Besides who says it isn't too late already?"

"If you..."

"She is so beautiful Agent Booth... Although the sight of her is slightly more appealing now, seeing how she is covered in blood... Why don't you come see for yourself?" Without waiting for an answer from Booth, he disconnected the call.

Brennan was still struggling to break free of Dane's grasp and yell into the phone for Booth to stay away when she saw Epps disconnect. The fury in her eyes no longer betraying her fear, but now showing worry and anger. Her fear was no longer for herself, but for her partner. He, she was sure, would not act in any way other than coming for her. He did not know that Epps wasn't the only one waiting for him. He didn't know that this was a carefully planned trap. She could only hope that his 'gut' served him as well in this instance as it had on some of their previous cases. Hoping that he would be smart and call someone, the FBI, anyone, and just not come here alone.

Booth was trembling with a strange mixture of fear and anger as he tried to call Cullen. Forgetting formalities, Booth spoke up as someone picked up the phone. "Sir, it's Booth. We have a big problem. Epps has Bones... I need back up..." Booth felt his heart drop into his stomach when he heard the answer.

"How stupid do you think I am Booth? Huh? Did you really think I wasn't prepared for this? You only have one link left. A link to ME, Booth... Someone is going to have to pay for this... this show of distrust and betrayal... and since you're not her yet 'Bones' will have to do..." Epps was about to disconnect again as Booth interrupted him.

"Damn it Epps wait!" He shouted into the receiver before being able to calm his voice back down enough to talk reasonably, hoping if he stayed calm it would help convince Epps not to hurt her. "Just don't hurt her. Whatever is it you want, I'll do it, just let her go when I get there and you can have me, I'm almost there now." He said as he turned onto her street and tried to find a place to park.

"Who says I haven't already gotten what I wanted out of her? Hurry Agent Booth!" Epps smiled at her as he disconnected his phone once again. "He just promised me his life for yours. I think I'll take him up on it. What do you think, Dr. Brennan?"

What!?! She thought while trying to relay the same sentiment out loud, however being unable due to Dane's hand still covering her mouth. Of all the egotistical, Alpha-male behavior patterns, why Booth, why do you have to be so stupid! Go to a pay phone for Christ sakes! She simply glared at him, hoping he understood from her glare that the option simply wasn't acceptable to her.

"Do you have a better proposition for me Dr. Brennan?" Epps voice couldn't hide the intense pleasure this was bringing him.

As she struggled once again to speak, Dane finally removed his hand from her mouth, making sure to keep his other hand firmly behind her, keeping her arms still so she couldn't get away. "What is it you want Howard? You're not one to get a thrill out of torturing people, and from what I know of Dane here, he isn't either. You may want to make us suffer mentally, but you certainly have never been one to impose physical harm and enjoy it. So again I ask, what is it you are after? Maybe then I can come up with a proposition more to your liking." She spoke with an air of confidence that had been lacking previously, showing that her fear had all but abated and was giving way to logical thought.

He walked up to her and said: "I want you to realize you're not as strong as you think. I merely want to let you know that I am smarter. And as you can see Dr. Brennan, I have an associate and unlike me, he does enjoy to, how did you put it? To impose physical harm." He invaded her personal space and slapped her across the face. "Even more important... those are none of your business. I will not hold him back if you refuse to cooperate. Remember that Dr. Brennan."

She looked back at him slightly aghast and most definitely put out. Before she could stop herself she spat at him. "You aren't smarter than me. My IQ is...."

Before she could finish that sentence, Epps cupped her face in his hand and nodded at Dane.

Dane placed his hand on her neck and started to squeeze.

At that exact moment Booth knocked.

Dane released some of the pressure. Enough to breath, not enough to talk normally.

"Answer! Ask him to come in..."


Okay, that was the first chapter!

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