"I remembered black skies
The lightning all around me
I remembered each flash as time began to blur
Like a startling sign that fate had finally found me
And your voice was all I heard
That I get what I deserve"
"New Divide" Linkin Park
FBI Agent Seeley Booth bounced his leg impatiently as he sat forward in the office chair he was currently seated in. For the fifth time he adjusted his tie. He hated this. He hated waiting for anyone or anything. Maybe on the outside he looked like a picture of serenity. But inside he was nervous.
His bosses' boss, A.D. Hacker had called him out of the field for a meeting. Booth and his partner, Dr. Temperance Brennan, had just arrived at remains that had been discovered at the bottom of a well. For the FBI Booth investigated murders, usually involving bodies so far decomposed that all that remained were bones. That was where Brennan came in. She was a forensic anthropologist who conducted her own lab in the prestigious Jeffersonian museum. Her skills along with his investigative intuition made them quite the team.
At the scene Booth had just stopped the car when the call from Hacker had come. He'd had no choice but to drop Brennan off (after she arranged for someone to bring her back, of course) and travel back to the bureau. He'd rushed back to Hacker's office where he'd been sitting in the waiting room ever since. Once in a while his receptionist would smile at him sympathetically from around her computer. He had no idea what to make of those glances. Was he in trouble? How? Hacker loved him.
Then again Hacker had never called Booth to his office. He always dropped into Booth's whenever he had news, or wanted to chat. This turn of events could spell trouble. But Booth had behaved.
Well, there was that man dressed like a clown who cut him off in traffic…
The phone rang. The receptionist answered in a soft voice. After a "yes, sir," she hung up. "Agent Booth, the Assistant Director will see you now."
Booth stood up too fast. He tried to regain his composure as he crossed the threshold. "You wanted to see me, sir?"
Hacker sat behind his desk. His expression was that of concern. "Yes. Please, sit down, Booth."
Booth lowered himself into yet another chair, this desk chair being uncomfortable unlike the comfy one back out in the waiting room. "Is something wrong? Did I do something wrong? Because if this is about the clown, I let him off with a warning. And I didn't dent his bumper. He did that on his own when he kicked it."
"What? What clown?"
Booth decided it was better to keep his mouth shut until the meeting was over. "Nothing, sir."
"Booth, my superiors asked me to talk to you. A note was mailed here to the FBI regarding you."
Hacker withdrew a note from one of the drawers on his desk. It was spread out neatly in a plastic evidence bag to protect it from damage. He slid it across the desk towards Booth. Gently Booth picked it up to check it out for himself. In a black thin tipped permanent marker a message had been written. It looked as though the person was heavy handed, judging by the amount of smearing of the ink. Booth scanned the letter over. It's contents threatened him. Specifically, his life. "I know who this is," he murmured out loud.
"So do we. Responsibility was claimed."
"Vick," the two said in unison.
For nearly five years Booth had been chasing after a serial killer who brutally murdered men. Law enforcement officers and government personnel, to be exact. He'd killed FBI, police, CIA, and others. He'd even killed a man who worked for the IRS.
Booth, who had been assigned as the agent in charge of the case, had never been able to make much headway. The problem was, Jason Vick was smart. A damn near genius. He seemed to know every way to keep himself from getting caught.
Booth read the paper one more time before handing it back to Hacker. "I'm not worried," he said confidently.
"Maybe not, but we are."
"I'm an Army trained sniper."
"We're not taking any chances after the death of Timmins."
Booth lowered his gaze. Timmins had been an agent for the bureau for nearly thirty years. A few months ago he'd been murdered outside his home in cold blood. He'd been gunned down from the back, and his wrist was cut diagonally.
Vick without fail always left a mark on his victim's wrist. It was his calling card, claiming responsibility for his kills.
"We've pulled you off the case you're on," Hacker continued.
"I can work," Booth protested. "I'm not afraid of this guy."
"Booth," Hacker lowered his voice. His tone was understanding, but firm. "The bureau wants you to go into hiding. When I say they're not taking chances, they mean it. The last thing they want is the death of another agent."
Booth sat back, stunned. "I'll drop the case," he mumbled. "But I'm not going into hiding."
"Can you at least think about it?"
"Who's going to catch this guy if I'm out of the picture?" Booth shot back. His mind was slowly coming back to grips.
"We have another agent lined up to take over."
Booth grit his teeth. All this because a psychopath was after him. "I'll think about it." He unwillingly agreed. Being defiant, he ended the conversation then and there. Without another word he showed himself out. Hacker didn't try to stop him.
Back down in his own office he stalked inside, shutting the door behind him. Sighing resignedly he collapsed down into his office chair. Straight ahead of him he glared at the wall. This situation was upsetting him far beyond what he was showing. How could he not work? He lived to work. There was nothing like bringing someone to justice. Especially with Brennan by his side.
Booth spun in his office chair. Behind him on his filing cabinet sat a group of pictures. His eyes zeroed straight in on the one of his son, Parker. While staring at it something from the Vick case came back to him. Before Agent Timmins had been murdered, Vick had been terrorizing his family. In fact, the more Booth thought about it, the killer had threatened or tried to kill relatives or friends of any of his targets. His heart sped up in alarm. He sprung to his feet.
Out of his filing cabinet he fished out the file on Vick. Then he hurriedly left his office. He traced a path through the building he knew well by now. A quick elevator trip took him to the floor he needed to be on. Down several halls he wound until he reached the door of Dr. Lance Sweets' office.
Sweets was a brilliant young psychologist whom Brennan and Booth had come into contact with when they'd been ordered to attend counseling. At first Booth had blown him off. What could this kid possibly know? But over time he'd come to trust him, and even seek his expertise. The young man was great at providing profiles on murderers. Hence why he was there.
Without knocking Booth barged inside. "Hey, you busy?"
Sweets turned around from where he was sitting typing on his computer. "Actually, I-"
"Good." Booth cut him off. He handed him his file. Deep down he knew the truth. He saw the patterns. The signs. But he still gave Vick's file to Sweets on the slim hope that he was wrong. "Can you come up with a profile for me? The sooner the better?"
Sweets flipped through the pages. "Agents already have."
"I know. But I want you to look it over."
Sweets smiled, pleased. "I'll get right on it."
"Thanks. Call me the minute you got something." Booth turned to leave.
"Hey," Sweets called after him. "What is this? What's it about?"
Until Booth had all his facts, his confirmation that those he loved were in danger, he didn't want to speak of it. "Just something I need done." He left it at that, leaving before Sweets could push further. He was like a human lie detector. Booth didn't need anyone prying.
He left the bureau all together and went out to his car. Safe inside the comforting interior he sat, unmoving. His life was in jeopardy. What was there to do?