Seeley Booth was drowning.
The feel of cold liquid rushing over his skull brought him to his senses from the dreamlike state he'd been in. The funny thing was, only his head was submerged. The rest of his body felt dry. How could this be? Where had he been before this rude awakening?
He struggled to free himself only to feel pressure shove his head further down. Someone was forcing his watery prison. Booth tried to move his arms only to find they'd been bound together. More and more he was becoming frantic. Just what was going on?
With all his strength he pushed himself upwards. He was released long enough to get a gasp of air. Then he was pressed back under. Though he tried not to he struggled furiously. Booth was sure if he laid still whomever was attempting to kill him would think he had drowned. However, the human nature of panic kept him fighting.
It did him no good. He began to slip out of consciousness. His delirious mind was urging him to take a breath. Suddenly he was pulled out. A hard hit to his face snapped his head around. He was dropped straight down onto the ground. Without use of his arms his impact was hard.
He breathed in giant gulps of air gratefully. His attacker barely gave him a moment before he lifted him by his arms and backed him up against a tile wall. Or so it felt. Everything was pitched in shadows and darkness. Booth really couldn't even get a good idea of what his abductor looked like.
He was spun around. Whoever it was stayed behind him with a powerful grip on his arms. "Walk," the rough voice commanded. When Booth resisted he was dragged forward. Once again he fell, but this time he tried to pick himself back up again before he was dragged across the floor.
They passed through various rooms before the weight released. Booth's legs were quick to give out. He fell back against another wall and slid down onto the floor. Wincing, he stayed perfectly still. Next to him he could hear feminine voices crying softly. In the half light he turned to look. Two women were bound just as he was, with thick chains keeping their wrists together. Both looked strangely familiar to him. Where did he know them from?
It was hard to say. With the clouded state his mind was in he was lucky he knew his own name. How had he gotten here? He tried to remember.
Booth pulled into the parking lot of the ice rink where he practiced hockey with his team. He knew he was early. The digital clock on the dashboard only confirmed this. Shutting his car off, he leaned back. Well, he could go in and get an early start warming up. But being a gorgeous Saturday afternoon, he just didn't feel like going in yet. The beautiful sun shining down through the large oak trees for some reason reminded him of his partner, Brennan. Unconsciously he found himself calling her.
"Brennan," she giggled.
That was odd. He knew she wasn't much of a giggler. "Hey Bones, it's me. I was wondering if you wanted to meet up at the diner later? Grab dinner or whatever?" Booth realized how stupid he sounded. They rarely hung out together on the weekends. Hell, they spent all week together working on cases for the FBI. Why would she want to see him on the weekend as well?
Because he loved her, and despite all her actions to the contrary he hoped someday she'd come to love him back.
"I can't, Booth. I'm tied up-"
He didn't let her say anymore. "Okay. I'll see you Monday."
A new surge of fear seized his heart. Had Brennan been with him when he'd been taken? He tried to remember.
Hockey practice went well. Afterwards Booth was sore and spent. His hot plans for the evening had changed to take out and a game on the television. He showered in the locker room, changed, and then headed outside.
The sun had gone down and a bitter wind had picked up. Booth trudged across the parking lot to his car. For a moment it was hard to find. He drove a black Suburban, and the light overlooking his car had gone out.
Luckily it had been one of the few left. Booth had taken his time leaving. What was the point? No one was waiting for him.
He unlocked his car and climbed into the driver's seat. The door shut by itself after him. A sudden quiet noise drew his attention. To anyone else it might have gone unnoticed. But to him, being a former sniper, he heard it immediately.
Before he could react in any way a figure popped up over the back seat. Tape was put over his mouth and a cloth shoved over his nose.
Neither of these stopped Booth. He fought, even after he saw the glint of a knife blade.
Booth breathed a little easier. No. Brennan wasn't with him. She'd turned him down, which maybe at the time had been disheartening but now he was thankful for. All that mattered to him was that she was safe. Whatever came his way he'd handle.
For the first time he began to feel the injuries he sustained during his abducting. His palms and arms were covered in defense wounds. Another sharp pain in his side told him he'd been cut there as well.
"You probably all wonder why you're here," a voice began. The sound of footsteps echoed off the walls. The man knelt down besides Booth. He lifted the sleeve on his shirt and removed a syringe from his pocket. Booth shot forward, cracking the figure with his forehead. God only knew what was in that syringe; what he planned on doing.
For his action he earned a hit to the temple with something metal that nearly knocked him unconscious. He was helpless as he felt the sting of the needle go into his arm. A potion shot into his veins.
"You might remember me," he continued as he moved onto the woman besides Booth. "As Brenghause. All of you managed to ruin my life by sending me to prison, for a crime I didn't commit."
Booth recalled him now clearly. The case had happened years ago, long before he worked with Brennan. A series of women had been brutally murdered. "We had the murder weapon," the sound of his own voice shocked him. "We had DNA."
Another sharp hit to the head. His eyelids fluttered. He couldn't let go. There was no telling what would happen to him if he did.
"I was innocent!" Brenghause screamed with his mouth only inches from Booth's face. His putrid breath made him gag.
Brenghause moved onto the last woman. "I had to pay for my supposed crime. Now you all are going to pay for yours."
An extreme wave of exhaustion crashed over Booth's shoulders. His eyelids drooped, though he fought to keep them open. What had Brenghause injected them with? What was his intent? Booth wondered if he was about to die.
His worry further deepened when the woman besides him began to shake. Her body erupted into a grand mal seizure. During the entire episode her eyes stayed wide open. Booth couldn't stop staring at her. His own heart bounced around in his chest.
As the seizure ended she let out a shrill scream. Then it was done. Booth knew instantly she had died.
Brenghause had been standing by observing. He bent now next to her and checked for a pulse. "Aw, boo," he mused in a taunting voice. "She left the party. I guess all of the fun will now have to be saved for you two."
It was becoming more and more difficult for Booth to keep his eyes open. He cast one last look at the woman who was still alive before passing out.
Brennan was worried. No. Scratch that. She was more than that. Whatever word that meant severely worried was what she truly was. It was Tuesday morning. For an hour she'd been sitting in her office staring at her phone. Where was Booth?
It was unusual for her not to hear from him. Especially if he wasn't coming into work, such as the case had been yesterday and so far that morning.
The last she'd heard from him had been on Saturday. She'd been laying in bed with her recent romantic interest when he'd called. Any other time she would have been tempted to meet with him. Above all he was her best friend. But caught in a romantic tryst with her lover was just too wonderful to leave.
Somewhere deep down she worried he was cross with her. Like he had known what she had blown him off to do. But that was irrational. They weren't children. Besides, Booth wouldn't be so childish as to not inform her he wasn't coming into work. Something was wrong. Brennan wasn't good at reading people's behavior; their non verbal cues. But when it came to Booth, she knew.
She called the bureau to confirm that they hadn't heard from him either. She was informed after a few more hours a formal investigation was being launched. Brennan didn't have the patience to wait. She needed to kick her own investigation forward. In doing so she stopped first at his apartment.
Brennan had been to Booth's apartment many times. She knew exactly where he hid his extra key. Not thinking twice about it she let herself inside. Nothing looked out of place. Except it looked as though he hadn't been home in two days. There wasn't a single sign of life.
In his living room she disappointingly sat down on his couch. She didn't like the sick feeling that was pitting in her stomach. Think, she urged herself. The last time she had heard from him was early Saturday evening. What did he typically do Saturday evenings? Didn't she know?
Around his apartment she looked for ideas. A framed hockey portrait grabbed her eye. Yes! He has hockey practice around seven. Retrieving her phone from her purse, she checked the time he had phoned her. Six forty five. It was a clue.
Brennan snatched up her keys. She hurried outside back to her car. There was no saying anything would be waiting for her at the rink. But if that was where he'd been then it was the perfect place to start.
Sometimes while stuck in traffic Brennan fantasized she drove some type of police vehicle like Booth did. Rushing through the streets now she for wished for it more than ever. The speed limit signs didn't register in her mind. Nothing could get in her way. All she could think about was Booth.
Like a beacon his car was sitting abandoned in the parking lot of the hockey rink. She pulled into the space next to it and practically leapt out. Before snooping inside she walked all along his Suburban looking for anything amiss. Once again she turned up nothing.
Frowning, she stood next to the driver's door. What else could she do? It wasn't as though she could get inside the car without his keys. Or could she? In an act of desperation she tried the door handle. To her surprise the door opened in her hand. She frowned deeply. Booth wouldn't just leave his car unlocked with all the equipment he carried inside. She let that thought go and searched around.
The blood stains made her heart stop.
There was blood smeared on the seats. More blood was smudged on the steering wheel. Booth's keys laid on the floor mat. His car key looked bent, as if it had been knocked out of the ignition.
On the windshield something flapping in the wind drew her attention. She moved about to see a piece of paper stuck underneath a windshield wiper. Hastily she fished it out. No doubt it was a parking ticket, Brennan assumed as she opened it. Instead, she saw words written in thick, black permanent marker. CATCH ME IF YOU CAN.