Disclaimer: The characters portrayed here are not mine. Fox owns them and the rights. No infringement intended.

Summary: Bones shows us a well hidden side of her character, in a tale of what love can push us to do and endure. You'll need a quiet corner, a mosquito net, and plenty of rations for this one.

Rating: M/NC17. You know the drill kiddiewinks. (coy smile)

Thanks: Goes to my humble beta/editor Kam. Lebxeb bows to your greatness and constant surveillance. (hugs)

Never In Panama

Chapter I En Route

Temperance Brennan breathed a sigh of relief as the undercarriage snapped back into place under her heavy Timberland booted feet, and her stomach settled to resume its normal position. She looked pensively out of the oval Lear jet window to the shrinking trees and buildings surrounding the private airport, that looked Lego-block size now.

As the wispy clouds whistled over the aircraft wings like smoke, her eyes blinked fast and flashed a recent memory back across her eyes...

(( 'It's, Andrew, Temperance. I need to speak to you. Let me in.' Bones took off the chain from her apartment door, and unlatched it. As she opened the door, confused that he was calling at this late hour, he was in and passed her before she'd opened it fully. He pushed the door closed as she stepped back, surprised by his barging her out of the way.

'Andrew, what's going on? It's extremely late...'

Hacker interrupted her, and reached into his leather jacket pocket, and pulled out a piece of paper. He caught her confused expression as he offered it to her to read. 'This isn't a social call. Read it. I shouldn't be here but... Just read it,' he said solemnly, ominously. Bones scanned the deciphered communiqué on CIA headed paper. Feeling her heart rate increase, and her palm begin to moisten, she looked up to his eyes, and asked a silent question. Hacker sighed anxiously, and headed for her kitchen island, and sat. Bones sat opposite nervously, pulling her kimono around her tighter, and waited for his answer. 'Booth was requested, no ordered to covertly enter the country, to find him and do what he was trained to do... That's the last contact message they received, two days ago...'

Confused, Bones thought out loud, looking back to the message, 'He told me he was taking some vacation time.' Hacker nodded, clearly in on the partial deceit.

'Yes, I know. Look, Booth is one of mine and I know sometimes I have to turn a blind eye to his occasional sudden absences,' Hacker said cryptically. 'I'm responsible for him but, someone else has a hold over him, Temperance. I'm not sure who, I'm still trying to get a lead on why and who. What I've found out is this. Booth was given two days to prepare, get briefed, kitted out and dropped in the jungle at the last known sighting of this guy. His instructions were to track him down and take him out. He was to use the satellite phone to keep the CIA informed of his progress, same time, every twenty four hours. Once the job was done he was to call for extraction.'

'I see. This message implies Booth found Xavier and was preparing to assassinate him.' Hacker nodded, then held her gaze.

'My contact in the CIA said that the daily satellite surveillance of the area of Booth's last co-ordinates has gone cold.'


'The camp is gone, the target, and Booth...'

She queried, 'Gone?'

Hacker nodded, then explained, 'The last high resolution pass over the area showed just burnt remains of the camp. However, they counted six charred bodies, corpses...' he said sympathetically. Bones felt bile rise to her throat to burn it. Hacker went on softly, compassionately, seeing her eyes lose a little focus. 'Before Booth left this time he came to me to give you this if anything happened to him.' Hacker pulled out another piece of paper. This was a folded envelope with Bones written on the front. She took it, and ripped it open. ))

Bones closed her stinging eyes, and rocked her head back onto the aircraft chair rest. The drone of the engines grated on her already frayed nerves and she felt her teeth clamp together. Rubbing her eyes and face with her sticky palms, she blew out a breath through pursed lips to calm herself. She understood she had a long flight ahead, so she tried to get some sleep. Sleep being her only respite from her constant anguish and trepidation. The trouble being, since Hacker had made his late night/early morning visit, sleep had been at an illusive premium. She blindly felt for the recline button, and held it down till she was almost flat in the executive seat, and attempted to sleep.


Chapter II Aquadulce Arrival's Gate.

The Lear jet 36A's wheels screeched like a banshee as they made too heavy contact with solid ground, jolting Bones awake violently. There was already a stifling sense of foreboding in the small cabin as Bones could hear the pilots throwing instructions at each other. She felt her ears pop and her heart rate spike as they hurtled over the potted, cracked, disused WWII runway. The engines were thrown into full ear-piercing reverse, and juddered viciously as the pilots attempted to bring the aircraft to a halt before they ran out of tarmac, and hit the overrunning jungle. Rigid, Bones found she was gripping the arms of her seat, willing it to stop, not unlike the pilots that were blaspheming liberally ahead of her. She snapped a glance out of the window to her right at the dense emerald jungle as it lashed by the sides of the wailing, trembling aircraft.

Suddenly they hit a wide gaping rut in the tarmac, and Bones was thrown up and left like a rag doll. She felt her rib protest the jab of the arm rest, and winced. Then as they dropped down again, the blast of a tire blowing out made her snatch a terrified breath. The overhead lockers around her snapped down, and tossed their contents all around her like an arctic snowstorm. The yellow oxygen masks bounced down just like inverted Jack-in-the-boxes, and dangled throughout the cabin too, elevating her adrenalin levels beyond normal capacity. The master alarms in the cockpit began to chant their sombre inane cautions, telling the pilots nothing they didn't all ready know. A sense of powerlessness flooded her, challenging her not to accept her fate.

'Turn! Turn!' she heard the pilot yell to his subordinate, and the jet steered hard to port, and then everybody left their seats again, suspended mid-air for a moment as they hit something else. The nose of the jet dropped instantly, bumping her forwards against her waist restraint. Bones instinctually knew the undercarriage was gone and so too was their steering capability. Out of the corner of her eye she saw a fountain of golden sparks and rubber burn fly past her window thrown up as the nose scraped along the tarmac, causing everything, including her, to shudder violently.

'Fuck! Brace! Brace!' came the bellowed orderaircraft passengers never want to hear.

Bones' knuckles paled even more, and she was already severely braced with mortal rigor, but still laying almost flat in her reclined chair. She absurdly found herself congratulating herself for keeping her buckle done up the whole flight. But now it seemed that may have been a waste of time as they yawed, and rolled savagely, with the engines screaming their limit. She slammed her eyes shut, and grit her jaw, while mentally rambling, 'Not yet, not yet, not now...' She didn't know to whom or what she was pleading for sparing them, but it seemed an appropriate last ditch gesture now.

All at once there was an almighty deep bass crack, then a tooth shattering crunch of metal crumpling, and ear splitting cacophony of hellish sounds of wrecking and grinding. She was thrown forwards again as the violent deceleration and momentum of the aircraft hitting the eighty foot high trees, halted their progress almost instantly. Bones felt something akin to rain spray her face, and looked to her left. Thinking that wasn't unusual in rainforest, until she saw there was no longer a fuselage beside her. The port wing and its fuel nacelle were gone, peeled back and away like an open tin can as they jack-knifed, and slammed side on into the jungle. The unmistakeable scent of kerosene filled her nostrils, and she realised she was drenched in it, not inert rain.

Bones took a moment to catalogue her state as everything slowed down around her, which she felt was peculiar as everything had happened so fast and unexpectedly. She blinked a few times to stop the nystagmus of her pupils caused by her mild concussion and the violence of the crash. Her ear drums whistled, signalling their damage and muffled any more post crash sounds. What she lay on looked perfectly unharmed, normal and serene compared to the opposite side of the plane. There were trees, mossy boughs and bristling leaves beside her, and a haunting silence. The only sound she could hear was a regular dripping. Then, realising she wasn't dead or injured too severely, she undid her seatbelt, and sat up slowly. She looked to the cockpit and all she could see was more crumpled metal, wiring, shattered glass and tree foliage.

Bones' heart rate was felt in her fingerprints, knowing what she might find ahead of her, and what they'd sacrificed for her and her partner. She walked unsteadily towards the concertinaed bow, and tried to pick out their forms from the confused mesh of metal and wood. She pushed aside a branch and exposed a face. The pilot was no more, impaled twice, once through his upper torso by a broken branch which had pierced his chair too, clearly crushing his ribcage to pulp, she surmised. The other major injury was across his throat and down to the depth of his spinal column. The window arch, hit by the mahogany tree, had peeled back and sliced through his neck and was just holding his head in place. Blood no longer flowed from his wounds, thankfully she thought, as the crimson liquid dripped subtly to the warped cockpit floor. She saw his dog tags catching the Panamanian sun, and ripped them off him, then stuffed them in her pocket.

All at once she heard a groan on her right, and rushed to pull away more twisted metal and jungle from the starboard side. The co-pilot was still alive and her heart soared. He turned his head to look at her, she thought he looked perfectly normal with only a few facial abrasions. 'Get out,' he murmured, with panicky eyes at seeing her attempting to free him from his leafy tomb. Bones was confused by his order, and shook her head.

'I'll get you out,' she said reassuringly, pulling frantically at heavy splintered wood, and razor sharp metal.

'Get out!' he said, more angry than she expected him to be in this situation. 'She's gonna blow, get out now.' Bones stilled, and realised he was right but couldn't leave him.

'No, we've got time.' She began again to toss away wreckage from around his seat. She unclipped his seat harness and he groaned again. Running her hands over his neck and shoulders, she checked for fractures. He rolled his head, and muttered, 'Dr Brennan, if you go up with me, Booth has no chance.'

'He may already be dead, you are not. I'm getting you out. Now, help me,' she implored, as she pulled at his left arm, and looped it around her shoulder. 'Push with your feet, come on, Ranger move!' she commanded, with more haste, hearing the mangled electrics starting to fizz and jumping blue sparks around them.

'Yes, M'am,' he said, with a cheeky attempted smile through his agonised sweaty expression. Bones smiled shakily at him for his wit, and dragged him to the fuselage behind the cockpit. She took most of his weight on her shoulders, as she unlatched the cabin door, and kicked it wide with a grunt. The chronic heat of the Panamanian jungle slapped their faces as if reprimanding them for their damaging rude arrival. 'Pull that.' He nodded in the direction of the inflatable slide lever. Bones did as instructed, feeling her sinews strain with his almost dead weight on her.

There was a prolonged hiss of pressurised air, then the orange slide flapped out like a huge tongue, and ballooned to the gouged tarmac below. 'We're gonna do this together very slowly. You may have internal injuries and I don't want to aggravate them,' she told him knowledgeably. He nodded, and tried to sit down on the edge of the exit, but howled in pain as he did. Bones saw him grab his right thigh, and noticed it was at an awkward angle. 'Don't pass out yet, I still need your assistance,' she instructed and warned.

'Easy for, for you to say, it hurts like fucking shit,' he muttered, rocking slightly with his pain.

'Yes, well, it will do. You have a compound fracture of the femur. You can scream all you like when I reset it, but not now.' Bones sat behind him, her legs either side of his buttocks, and nudged them over the side, while she held most of his weight to her, by clutching him under his arm pits. They slid down the ten feet or so fairly sedately, but as his boots hit the tarmac he flattened against her, stiffening with the agony.

'Arrh!' he yelled. 'Arrrh grrrrr...' He snatched short sharp breaths and trembled.

'Sorry, sorry,' she apologised, holding him to her, cuddling him till the endorphins took the edge off. 'Shhh. It's gonna be ok,' she whispered in his ear. 'Breathe deeply, biiiig breaths, the pain will dissipate in a moment, trust me.' He panted, and tried to slow his breathing to take deeper breaths as compassionately instructed.

Bones glanced around the long forgotten airstrip for a suitable place to take him. Once she spotted a gap in the trees, she looped him around her shoulder again.

'Ok, see there?' She nodded in its direction. 'We're going over there, it looks like an old taxi way.' He nodded, biting his lip, and hopped a little way with her. Unfortunately the pain was so severe he weakened with every step she took. She was dripping with sweat from her exertions and the debilitating humidity which diluted the oxygen she was trying to inhale.

To take his mind off his pain she asked his name, already knowing it. 'Toby, Toby Kopinski, Ranger 55563859-9,' he said, hopping a little better with his eyes fixed on the clearing, willing himself there to relative safety.

'Russian or Polish decent?' she asked casually. He looked at her incredulously as she hauled his weight over the bumpy ground.

'Polish. My great grand-father was in the feeerst wave on D Day. Oo, Omaha. Fuck that hurts! He, he'd escaped Belsen concen-tration camp two years earlier. Got to France, came back with the Dunkirk boys. Joined up and went straight back to kick ass. Fucking hero, God damn fucking hero.' Bones understood his liberal profanities were a physiological way of blotting out his pain with anger, so didn't admonish.

Bones eased him down to the undulating taxi way overrun with vines and thick woody roots. Bones' hands instantly went to his fatigues zipper, and went to tug off his pants to assess the fracture. 'Hey, I'm not up to anything right now, Doc,' he admonished playfully. Bones grinned, ignoring his nervous banter, and pulled them to below his knees. 'Fuck, that looks bad,' he said, looking at the jagged bone sticking up through his gnarled flesh. Bones ran her palms around his injury carefully.

'Not as bad as I originally suspected,' she said to herself, then saying to him positively, 'I can fix it but I need morphine, you, are going to need morphine. It's in my kit on the plane.'

'You can't go back in there, it could go boom-fuck-a-bang-bang anytime!' Bones stood straight, and looked back over her shoulder to the wreck, with her trembling adrenalin charged hands on her hips.

'You're right. However, I can't walk you the sixty miles to the nearest village like this. You'd die of shock or infection.'

Toby grit his jaw, and lifted his chin gallantly. 'Leave me then.' Bones huffed a chuckle at his eagerness to be a dead hero.

She looked back around into his eyes, as she said, 'You're a bit eager to give up, aren't you? I've just saved you life and you want me to end it. What would be the point of leaving you after that? No. I'm going back in. There's all our kit, food, water, the maps, satellite phone, everything we need. Is there anyway of turning off the power circuits to reduce the chances of it going boom-fuck-a-bang-bang?'

'Haa. Shit, yeah I should have thought of it. Sorry...' Toby winced again, and laid flat gingerly to the lush carpet under him, completely exhausted.

'Don't be, you had enough to think about, Kopinski. Where's the switch... precisely?' she asked, crouching down at his feet to listen for instructions. Toby lifted his head, and stared into her determined eyes with surreal admiration.


Chapter III Tomb Raider

Kopinski had manoeuvred himself to butt his back up against a tree, so he could watch Bones make her daring attempt to retrieve what she could from the crash site, which was now a tomb for his comrade in arms. His splintered nerves and shock were making him tremble uncontrollably like he had heroine DT's. He felt nauseous and light headed, and began to perspire profusely. It felt to him like he was floating and was drifting over water as his eyes rolled, and breathing became difficult. Knowing these symptoms were a bad sign, he set his jaw. He tried to block out the pain, stop his trembling, and focus on her as she hauled herself back up the inflated slide, and entered the contorted fuselage again.

When he had volunteered for this mission he knew the risks involved. They'd picked this runway because of its depth and seclusion. They just hadn't envisioned that it would be in such a dilapidated state. They'd wrongly assumed that the drug traffickers would have cleared it or at least maintained it a little for their purposes. He looked back along the scarred runway in the direction they had landed, and realised they'd almost made it. Another sixty foot or so, and they would have missed the encroaching jungle wall.

Bones suddenly appeared at the cabin door, and slid down the shoot, then began trotting back to him. He thought she looked flustered, and flushed. He noted she hobbled slightly on her left foot, and carried her plump khaki rucksack. She was fishing inside it as she neared, and pulled out an equally plump green medical kit. Kopinski tried to stop his incessant shaking as she dropped to her knees, panting beside him. 'Did you turn off the switches?' he asked hopefully. She nodded, not making eye contact, but he didn't think that nod was convincing. He watched on as she ripped open a sterile syringe pack, then thumbed out a vial full of clear liquid. She drew a few mils of liquid into the syringe, and flicked the air bubble to the top, then depressed the syringe to extract it. 'You've hurt your ankle,' he stated, as he watched her pinch some flesh beside his gory injury.

'It's just a sprain, I'll strap it later. I'm giving you a little morphine now, enough to take the edge off, ok?' Kopinski nodded, relieved, and calmed slightly as she injected his leg. 'I need you alert for a while longer. Once I've got everything we're gonna need, I'll give you a little more,' she explained.

'Ok, sounds like a plan,' he said, feeling a warming glow trickle up his leg to numb it almost instantly. He rested his head back to the rough trunk, and sighed out as his DT's started to subside. Bones packed away the medical kit again carefully after throwing two anti-inflammatory's down her own throat. 'Thanks, that feels better. I'm feeling better...'

'Good,' she said to him with a sweet smile, as she lifted his lids to peer into his pupils and his bloodshot corneas. 'You have a concussion, try to stay focused and not sleep yet. Watch me, keep watching me. Do you know any songs?'

He looked woozily at her with his brow furrowing at her absurd request, 'Songs? You want me to sing?'

'Yes, so I know you're still awake. I don't want to have to come back to wake you up,' she explained her logic, which pacified him.

'Oh. I see. Umm. Yeah, what d'ya wanna hear?'

'Ha. Anything, anything loud,' she said, standing up again, then ripping off her khaki jacket to reveal her sweat soaked armless white t-shirt beneath.

'Bohemian Rhapsody, I know all the words to that,' he said groggily.

'Excellent, start singing it then,' she ordered, and waited for his brain to recall the lyrics.

Kopinski took a deep breath, and began, 'Mam-ma, just killed a maaan.'

Bones smiled warmly at him, nodding, then said, 'Louder, Kopinski, louder...' Then she trotted away back to the plane, thinking how silly this situation was, as he hollered after her the next line of the classic lyric.

Kopinski watched, and domineeringly widened his eyes, blinking to focus on her as she re-entered the crumbled tilting jet. 'Life has just begaaan!' he yelled towards the plane, and saw her running around inside the fuselage behind the starboard windows. 'Gonna leave it all behind and faaaace the truuuuth!'

Kopinski could hear the sounds of the jungle close in on him, the macaws in the trees had settled back to their roosts and were accompanying his off key wailing. The creak of the trees, ferns and lush vegetation growth too, joined in it seemed, as a warm blanket of euphoria swept through him.

By the time he got to, 'Scaramouch, Scaramouch, can you do the fan-dan-go?' he was giving the performance of his life, and playing air guitar too through the bridge.

Bones started to giggle, knowing he was having the drug induced trip of a lifetime. As she continued to pump the handle to open up the cargo hatch door manually, she began to join in to take her mind off the agony of her lactic acid swamped bi-ceps. The ramp began to inch downwards, and the crack of sunlight which poured in gave her, her own legal high. 'Galileo! Gal-i-leo!' she grunted, as the ramp suddenly dropped to the tarmac at an awkward angle. 'Figaro!' she exclaimed, then rushed to jump into the open topped olive painted jeep. She turned the key, and revved the engine alive with her heart rate tapping out with relief.

All was not lost, she thought, not yet.

Kopinski watched in awe as she shot out of the rear of the plane like an Exocet missile taking off horizontally. The vehicle smacked the ground hard, and bounced twice, once on the front two wheels then the back two. Then she sped over to him, bumping over the cracks and screeched to a halt in an expertly controlled handbrake turn in front of him.

'Hooooly shit, Lara fucking Croft!' he bellowed, blown away by her magnificence, size of her gonads and the gust of dust thrown up by the spinning tires.

'Who's Lara Croft?' she asked, getting out, and looking around for the said woman. Kopinski started laughing.

'You are, you crazy, Doc! You must've heard 'bout her. She's this gorgeous, athletic babe who kicks bad-man ass and finds treasure.' Bones looked perplexed at him, and shook her head, obviously never heard of her.

Just then there was a sizzling sound from over her shoulder, and a blinding searing flash, followed instantly by a deafening explosion. The aircraft tore apart and lethal flaming shrapnel filled the humid air. Bones instantly threw herself forwards, and landed flush on top of Kopinski to protect him. The jeep rocked on its tires as she felt the heat of the blast and pressure wave on her back. Kopinski groaned under her as she knocked his leg break with her knee. The trees rocked back as if in shock too, swaying around them, then trembled as bits of metal rained down through the dense canopy. They were heard thudding to the ground around them. As a cloud of emerald and cherry-red macaws took to the air, screeching their horror and fright. There were two more jarring explosions as the batteries ignited. Bones covered his head with her arms, ignoring his agonised protests.

Bones stayed still over him, as she waited for the sounds of shrapnel descending and slicing through the high canopy had stopped. Blinking open her eyes, she saw a three inch long millipede scurrying through the leaf mulch, and could feel Kopinski's shortened breaths against her neck. That soft sensation drew a memory, it resurfaced from the recesses of her mind...

(( 'Hey, Bones,' Booth said, stepping over her threshold, and smiling sweetly at her as she allowed him in.

'Hey,' she said nervously, but delighted to see him so soon after they finished work for the day.

'I just wanted to have a word with you, is this a bad time?'

'No, no, not at all. I was just having dinner. Would you like some, I've made more that enough for two?'

'Sure, I never refuse food, Bones, you know that.' Relaxed by his casualness, she closed the door, and made for her kitchen.

'Take a seat, I'll dish you some up. What did you want to ask me?'

'Not ask, just inform, actually.' Bones spun, from filling his plate with a pile of pasta and sauce, to look at him curiously. Seeing her waiting expression, he went on, 'I just wanted to tell you personally. I'm err... taking some time off.'

'Oh. Right. Ok,' she said, placing the plate in front of him. 'It's kind of sudden, isn't it? I didn't know you were thinking about taking a vacation?'

'Thanks, this looks great.' He picked up a fork, and began to tuck in heartily as she settled opposite him, and poured him a glass of wine from her bottle. 'No, well, it's kinda been sprung upon me. Hacker says I have to take the time or they will stop paying me vacation time. It's some FBI policy crap. Anyway, I've can't afford not to get paid, so I'm going tomorrow for a few weeks.'

'Oh. That soon... Ok,' she said, feeling her heart sink but trying to sound unaffected. A few weeks without seeing him seemed almost painful now but she knew she couldn't be so selfish. He did work extremely hard and deserved a break, she rationalised.

Booth took another forkful, and chewed, staring at her across the table, with a delicate smile curving his lips. 'It's come at a good time really, with everything that's happened recently,' he said carefully. Bones looked up from her plate, and smiled gently. She understood he was referring to his break up with Hannah, the sniper incidents, and her revelation to him that she was now aware of her deep feelings for him.

'Yes, I understand. You need sometime for yourself,' she said quietly, looking back to her plate slightly awkwardly, finding she'd lost her appetite. She took a mouth full of wine instead, but found that her throat had closed over so much it was difficult to swallow.

Although they were both free now, she'd hoped he would make some offer of himself to her. She wasn't sure if he still had the same affections for her any longer though, so hadn't mentioned the subject again. Content just to have him as a dear friend and live in hope of something more when everything had calmed down, she'd let things ride. She was pleased that they worked together with as much passion and mutual respect as they'd done in the past. They even returned to their affectionate bantering and cosy drinks after a case was successfully brought to a conclusion. All of which gave her hope of a full reconciliation.

'So, will you be able to cope without my annoying prodding for instant answers and pestering your downtrodden squints for a couple of weeks?' he asked self-mockingly. Bones grinned wider, and twirled her fork in her tagliatelle. She held the pasta fork at her lips, and smiled warmly, holding his handsome gaze.

'I'll cope, Booth,' she said, matching his light tone, then added bravely, softly, 'I'll miss you though.' She saw Booth swallow nervously, and his eyes pale slightly. Then he sat a little straighter, and grinned wider, moving on from his concern for her.

'Yeah well, I am hard to miss, that's true,' he said, making light of her subtle yet distinct emotional attachment to him. Bones huffed a soft chuckle, and nodded.

An hour later the food was consumed and a couple more glasses of wine. They'd talked, and laughed, and drank a few coffees in comfort around one another, then it was time he made tracks.

Booth looked to his watch, and stood, not wanting to leave her but knowing he should. 'I better get going I've got packing to do. Thanks for dinner, it was great,' he said, walking to her door. Bones followed in his slow amble to her door, and reached around him to open it. Booth stopped short of the door, turned, and looked deep into her eyes. Bones, surprised by his reluctance to leave and closer than usual proximity, felt her stomach flip over, seeing a flicker of something magnetising in his eyes.

'What?' she asked gently, confused by his pensive expression. Then to her deeper surprise he held her around her waist tenderly, and tucked a wayward strand of hair over her ear, then leant in very carefully to the shell of it. She felt herself automatically hold her breath, and felt his question whisper over her ear and neck seductively.

'When I get back,' he began slowly, sounding terrified of what he was going to say. 'If, if you still feel about me like you did a few months ago. I'd like to give us another chance... How do you feel about that?' Bones felt herself relax with deep relief and levitating joy, while her vision blurred with tears. She could only manage a pathetic nod in response, moved by his gentle long awaited offer. She felt him relax too, and hold her a little tighter to him in response to her confirmation. Then to her pure unadulterated elation, he kissed her cheek desperately softly to seal their promise to each other. Instinctually she pushed her cheek towards his lips to feel his warm kiss against her skin more deeply. The explosion of sensation and emotion that tore through them both now, quickened their hearts, and heated up their plasma.

Was this to be their moment, their time at last? she wondered.

'Great, that's great... I betta' go,' he whispered against her cheek. However, Bones shook her head slowly, not agreeing, and placed her brow on his temple to beg him to stay silently. She desperately wanted him to stay so this wonderful elation could persist and even increase. She wanted to make love to him right now. To show him how much she loved him and still wanted him, despite all that had happened between them. The thought of a few weeks wait seemed like a century to hold out for now, and made her weep at the thought. She felt him smile against her cheek as her tears dripped onto his lips, and kiss her again sweetly.

'You can stay, stay with me. I can't wait to be with you, Booth,' she heard herself plead, and trembled in his gentle embrace.

Smiling, he said, 'Yes we can, a couple of weeks, that's all, Bones. My lov... ' She interrupted him with a love soaked, heavily passionate kiss. She wetly mouthed over his lips, and held the nape of his neck in her palm, refusing to let him go just yet. Feeling him respond to her insistence, she opened her mouth, and touched her tongue with his. She moaned, and pushed her weight against him but he rolled around her, and pushed her up against the door. Holding her cheeks in either palm, he swirled his tongue around hers while his hands trembled, and her rich flavour saturated his warm tongue. She quivered like a child's jelly against his body, and made soft admiring mewing sounds, which ripped his heart out of his chest at how much she loved him. She changed her mouth's angle, slipping her hands up his back, and held him flush against her. Their contours complimented the other profoundly and fuelled the next few moments of barely restrained desire, and gave credence to their passion for one another.

She broke the kiss suddenly, and stared into his love drenched eyes, while hers welled deeper. Each drop that splashed on her flushed cheeks, sparkled in the half light, while she searched his eyes. He grinned hard at her and then so did she at him. Both knew what the other felt and still felt strongly for the other in that smile. There was no doubt or veiled guardedness any more. Nothing between them had diminished, on the contrary, only heightened their mutual affections. Hannah hadn't watered them down, in fact, they were distilled, and purer because of their forced separation. It was that realisation that made them start to chuckle, almost deliriously at each other. 'Ok, that's good to know,' he said, smooching her pliant soft lips as she nodded to agree.

'One more, please, Booth, one more kiss before you go,' she requested painfully, with a flare of her eyes to give an incentive. She knew he wasn't going to stay, although the healthy bulge in his jeans implied he certainly wanted to. She was convinced he was being gallant and respectful in refusing her forward offer, which she had to admire and half expected.

'You don't have to ask, Bones. Take...' he said solemnly, with the muscles in his cheek twitching. Needing her to know he was all hers, and could deny her nothing to survive the next few weeks, he confirmed, 'Take what you need.'

Bones found his accommodation utterly chivalrous, and consequently deeply moving. She didn't hesitate, and kissed him meticulously slowly, savouring his taste, feel and mouth-watering masculine scent. All the while her hands memorised his delectable honed back and ripped torso. They came to rest on his cheek and hair, as she looped a slim leg around his thigh, and gently rocked her pelvis against his tight bulge indulgently. Having enough of him to sustain her, she slipped her moist lips off his slowly, completely sated. She dropped her head back to the door as if drunk on his absinthe. Licking her lips of their moisture, she flickered her eyes open, and smiled. Booth looked a little inebriated too, she thought charmed, as he shifted his stance slightly. His lips glistened pink and moist, she noted, and his eyes looked darkly steamy, shot through with wavering indecision.

She knew that was one of the most sensuous kisses she'd ever given in hope that she could pursued him to stay. 'Are you sure you want to go home?' she asked, feeling herself slippery and tingling with salaciousness. There were only a few flimsy layers of cotton between their sexes and it seemed a ridiculously narrow barrier to negotiate. But prudence and anticipation were healthy bed-fellows and that last barrier between them consummating this love, she judged, could wait a few weeks to be breached.

Booth confirmed, 'Yeah, I've gotta go.' Bones admired his self-control, and nodded submissively, then hugged him tenderly to her. Holding her back just as tenderly, she felt his long, warm sighing breath in the crook of her neck and it sent a shiver along her spine. She hoped it wouldn't be too long before she felt that delicious sensation again. ))


Chapter IV Resuming The Mission.

Bones settled the drug induced, catatonic Kopinski in the jeep's back seat, and made him a pillow of some of the un-burnt foam seat padding from the aircraft debris. She strung up a makeshift hood from her hammock to protect him from the rain that was just starting to fall. The mosquito net came in handy too, she found as she pulled that taut around the jeep's windshield and beside them. She checked her watch: it read 17.45, and nodded, thinking that was just like the rainforest to be exactly on time with its deluge. Within moments she was soaked through as the thunder rumbled in the distance, and rain pelted down in sheer rods around her. It hit the ground so hard it bounced eighteen inches off the surface, and battered the leafy canopy into noisy submission.

Her shirt was swathed with congealing ruby Ranger blood and her hands too. Not surprisingly because she'd performed open air surgery with her trusty do-all pen knife, vodka and considerable physical effort to reset his bone. Then repaired what she could of the muscle, and stitched him back up, then immobilised his leg in a splint. Finally she'd pumped him full of antibiotics and more morphine to make him comfortable. Her hands now were sticky with blood, so she took off her shirt, placed it over the wing mirror of the jeep to rinse in the downpour. Then washed her hands in the nearest puddle that had conveniently instantly appeared.

Bones counted herself lucky, extraordinarily lucky, so catalogued and assessed their situation, as she sat in the drivers seat in the jeep out of the rain. The day was only three quarters done and she'd had two cab journeys, two flights, one of which ended in disaster and near death. Then survived a plane explosion and performed surgery to save a life. She'd fixed up a temporary camp for the night and secured most, if not all, of their equipment. They now had; transport, extra diesel, water, food, ammunition, several firearms and grenades, and medical supplies. The only thing she didn't have was the satellite phone. When they'd crashed, it fell from the locker and was smashed to smithereens as the aircraft disintegrated but she did have her cell phone in her pack which she'd kept under her seat, its contents all intact.

The torrential rain, she noted, was dowsing down the flames still burning the charred remains of the aircraft shell and cooling the air slightly, but not by much. She pulled out the maps, and spread them across the passenger seat to study. As she twisted slightly to read them, her rib tweaked. That reminded her to take care of herself now. So she took a little time to assess her medical needs, which were thankfully slight, compared to Kopinski's. Pulling down the visor, she looked at her face, it was covered with drying blood not all her own, and her hair looked wild and fretted. She noted she had a couple of minor abrasions, and knew she should clean them, as in the tropical heat they could feaster pretty quickly.

Taking out a spare t-shirt from her pack, she ripped it into three strips, and held one out of the mosquito net to soak in the warm rain for a few moments. Then she squeezed it out, and wiped her face and neck down, careful not to re-open any wounds. Once done, she dabbed some dots of antiseptic cream over them. Then she untied her boot to look at her ankle. It was ruddy and swelling fast. So she bound it tight with a fresh, last bandage from the medical kit and put her boot back on, lacing it tight. She felt her bruised rib, and realised thankfully it wasn't broken as far as she could tell. So took four anti-inflammatory pills with several gulps of bottled water, as that was all she could do for it.

Once her medical needs were seen to and she felt better, she got on with her tasks. Taking out her compass, she placed it on the map, found north, and calculated how far it was to the nearest village. 'Fifty three miles,' she said to herself forlornly, then looked to where Booth had been stalking his target, and where the burnt out camp was.

A few moments later something caught her eye, a rustling in the undergrowth ahead of the jeep, and reached for her semi-automatic. This area was full of cocaine farmers and runners and she knew the crash and consequential explosion may have made them curious. She moved slowly to retrieve it from her pack, and click off the safety, feeling her heart race again. A large brown warthog came pottering out onto the rutted shimmering puddle-d tarmac, and looked in her direction. Then from behind it a brood of its young waited for the go ahead to cross. Bones sighed out, relieved, and watched as the rain-battered hog trotted across the tarmac, closely followed by the rest of the clan, and disappeared into the soggy forest.

She checked her watch again, it was nearly six o'clock, the designated time of contact. With no satellite phone, she turned on her cell. She held it as high as she could to see if it could get a signal. It was as she suspected, there wasn't any reception this deep. However, she hoped that when they got to the village they may have some means of getting a message back to Hacker. It was then that Hacker's incredulous face stayed in her minds eyes, and drew her back thirty six hours as her eyes fixated on the rain bouncing off the vehicles hood...

(( 'I have to bring him home,' she said with tears in her eyes, lifting them from Booth's note in her trembling hand.

'Temperance, they won't acknowledge where he's gone, let alone send a search and recovery party. Anyway, I've already tried that tack.' Bones nodded, biting her lip, attempting to staunch her tears.

'Then I'll go alone...' Hacker shook his head slightly, wrinkling his brow. Bones explained, 'I know the area, I've worked out there before and the Panama government will not suspect an anthropologist studying the Kuna tribes of the Darien Gap. The Jeffersonian has a biological permanent study going on out there in the rainforest. I can use that as my cover. Besides, there's no evidence to suggest he's dead, Andrew. I'll be able to tell Booth apart from the other's, if one of them is indeed Booth. He may have been kidnapped...'

Hacker thought she was clutching at straws but was sympathetic to her, and reminded her gently, 'We've received no ransom demand, Temperance.' She nodded, and wiped her cheek quickly of tears.

'That maybe so, but Booth's requested he wants to be laid to rest in the US, where his son can visit his grave... And I intend to make that happen,' she informed resolutely, lifting her chin, and swallowing her pain.

Bones knew he was more likely to be one of those bodies but had to make sure, not just for her closure but Parker's too.

Hacker smiled, seeing her determination to carry out Booth's last wish, and got up. He walked to her stash of scotch, and brought over two glasses and the bottle. While he poured them both a large shot, he said, 'Right then, Temperance. What do you need me to do?' He held up his glass for her to clink. She tapped his, and nodded, offering him a warm weak smile for his assistance. As the scorching amber liquid hit the back of her throat, her mind started racing as did her blood.

Two hours later they had a outline of a plan and immediately they were setting those plans in motion. ))


Chapter V In The Jungle, The Mighty Jungle...

Bones snapped her head up, woken by a groan of pain behind her. She blinked twice, trying to focus her eyes on something familiar. She thought she'd been dreaming, but alas not, they were still in the jungle and her nightmare was indeed their reality. As Kopinski swore, she looked around to him to ground her and bring her back to their stark mission.

The rain had stopped and the sun was up thickening the already oppressive humidity again. She could already feel the beads of sweat gathering in her cleavage and on her brow. 'Morning, how are you feeling?' she asked as brightly as she could muster in the circumstances.

'Like I've got a broken leg, been in a plane crash, starving hungry, and really need to piss, is that enough?' he asked sarcastically, but lacing it with a charming smile. Bones smiled back, and nodded.

'Plenty.' She reached for her water bottle, and drained its contents down her throat. 'Urinate in this.' She handed him the empty bottle, while she rummaged to fill a syringe of morphine. As she did diligently, he peed, and sighed his relief as he drained his bladder. She knelt up over the back of the front seats, and jabbed his leg with the needle and plunged.

'Fuck, Doc, I'm already hurting, steady.' He snuggled away his penis quickly, and handed her the almost full bottle. 'Swap?' he said jovially.

'Lovely, thank you,' she gave back just as humorously. 'Ok, we have a long treacherous journey ahead.' Bones got out of the jeep, and tipped away his urine, then rinsed out the bottle in the water she tipped from the hammock that had gathered yesterday. 'It's fifty odd miles to the nearest Kuna village on the map. Once we're there I'll leave you with medicine and food.' She screwed on the bottle lid, and handed it back to him.

'You're not still gonna do this?' he questioned flabbergasted, taking the bottle from her.

'Of course I am. I didn't survive a plane crash to turn back now.' She peeled off the mosquito net and hammock, then began folding them up. 'If you're concerned about the Kuna, don't be. They're a friendly race of people and haven't eaten human flesh for millennia.' She stuffed her hammock and fly net in her pack.

'Holy crap! You are joking, right?' Kopinski adjusted his position, clearly agitated by her flippant factoid. He watched her rummaging in a steel box for ration packs at the back of the jeep now.

'No, the Kuna ancestors did eat the flesh of their enemies after a victory. Cannibalism has been found to be quite prevalent among the South American native tribes,' she said nonchalantly, then carried on without taking a breath, 'What would you like for breakfast? I have errm, bacon and eggs or oat-y cereal.' She waved the silver dried packets in either hand temptingly.

Kopinski looked appalled at her casual smile, and lack of concern that they might get eaten. Going off meat suddenly, he plumped for, 'Cereal, please, Doc.' She grinned wide, and poured water in the pack, handing it to him carefully so as not to spill it over himself.

'You eat up, I'm just going into there for a while.' She picked up her pack, tucked her semi into the rear of her khakis at the small of her back, and started on her way.

'Wait, Doc! Give me a gun, just in case,' he asked. Bones came back, and rummaged again in one of the jeeps steel storage boxes. She pulled out a selection of weapons, and offered him choice. He picked a small semi too, and checked the clip with a smile. 'Great, I feel better now.' He visibly relaxed, and swigged some breakfast from the pack.

Sensing his nervousness, she warned, 'Don't shoot me when I come back.' Then added cleverly, 'I'll whistle.' Whistling her intended call so he would know her when she returned, Kopinski nodded, and watched her walk off again.

'Don't be long!' he shouted after her, as she stepped over a fallen tree, and disappeared, camouflaged almost instantly against the backdrop of the dripping lush rampant forest.

'I won't!' she said brightly from under the canopy but he couldn't see her any longer.

Kopinski looked around nervously, while he ate his breakfast, but felt better for something to eat. The morphine shot was kicking in too, and relaxing him further. He saw all the fire was out of the plane and just wisps of acrid smoke rose slowly through the trees now. He pondered now how were they going to get back. The plane had been their escape route; now that was an impossibility. He hoped the feisty hot doctor had some plan formulating in her Lara Croft worthy mind.


Bones had a strip wash with the water gathered in the large palm leaves from yesterday's deluge. She rolled on some deodorant, and changed her underwear but left off her bra, feeling it too restricting as she swelled in the 30c heat. She cleaned her teeth, and brushed out her hair, then promptly tied it back in a neat ponytail. She checked her injuries too, re-applying anti-septic, and tightening her ankle strapping as the swelling was starting to go down. She took more pain relief to aide that, and put on her last clean intact t-shirt, then pulled on her pants again. Picking up her weapon, she popped it back in place, and wandered back towards Kopinski and the jeep, whistling as she went.

'I'm back!' she called, as she neared the clearing. As she stepped back over the fallen tree, Kopinski was aiming his gun, not at her though. A small dark skinned man who stood by the wreckage of the smouldering plane, stared back stony faced. He held a spear in one had, two rabbits in the other, and wore only a leather loin cloth and a crocodile tooth choker adorning his neck. 'Don't shoot him,' Bones instructed calmly. 'He's Kuna.' Standing beside Kopinski's head now, she glanced at the paralysed Ranger.

'He's got a spear,' Kopinski warned. Bones thought his logic ridiculous.

'Yes, and you've got a gun. Put it down, and smile at him.' She placed her rucksack in the front seat, then placed her hand on Kopinski's aimed gun, pushing it down.

Kopinski lowered the gun slowly, but kept it cocked against his good leg, and managed a grimace at the young man. Then to his astonishment the doctor started shouting over to him in Spanish, and walking his way too. Kopinski panicked slightly, asking, 'Doc, be careful there may be more...'

'Relax, Kopinski. I know these people.' Bones again spoke, and gestured to the wreckage in Spanish, obviously explaining what had happened to them. Bones stood in front of the small native, and spoke casually to him. Kopinski watched intrigued, as she turned, and pointed back to him, then motioned an injury to his leg. The Kuna man, nodded, and smiled, and they both began to walk back to him as they talked.

'Kopinski, this is Hitock. Shake his hand,' she said firmly, urging him to comply with flaring compelling eyes. 'He's from the Kuna as I suspected. He's offered to show us the way to his village where you can stay until I come back for you.'

'You said it was fifty miles away,' he said disbelievingly. 'There's no way he walked fifty miles to here for two lousy rabbits.'

'No, he didn't. But our maps are outdated. The Kuna are hunter gatherers and move with the food. They have a small village three or four miles from here. I've offered them food and medicine in exchange for your care. Be nice,' she implored. Kopinski smiled warmly at Hitock, and nodded gratefully.

Hitock spoke again to Bones in broken Spanish, as he placed his spear upright in the passenger seat, and got in, throwing the rabbits in the foot well. As he settled Bones started to chuckle at something he said to her. 'What'd-say?' Kopinski asked, feeling the third wheel as they began to drive off in the direction of the quickly rising sun.

'He asked my name but didn't like it so has decided to call me, Rain Fresh. He thinks I smell good,' Bones told him ordinarily, clearly enamoured with the young man.

'He's right, you do, you look pretty hot too... Lady Croft.' Bones caught his admiring glance in the rear view mirror, and shook her head slightly, with an enigmatic smile.

They bounced, rolled and rumbled over and between huge trees that almost blocked out the sun, knocking down ferns and low shrubs as they careered onwards. Hitock seemed to enjoy the hellish rollercoaster ride which disorientated Kopinski to the point he gave up trying to work out which direction they were going in. He closed his eyes, listening to them talk incessantly, laughing and getting on extremely well.

The constant buffering of the vegetation against the side of the jeep tweaked his leg but wasn't bad enough to make him cry out. He mused happily, how much he loved morphine and the pretty, pretty jungle. Then just as he was nodding to sleep on his fluffy cloud again, something heavy landed in his lap.

Snapping his eyes open in shock, he focused on the visitor. 'Fuck, shit, snake! Snake!' he yelled, losing his dewy eyes for terrified wide ones. Bones brought the jeep to a halt and Hitock looked around at the snake coiling in his lap. Then to his surprise Hitock laughed at him, leant over, and picked up the two meter long snake, throwing it over the door and away casually. 'What was it?' he asked, grabbing Hitock's hand, and shaking it violently as a thank you. Hitock laughed, and nodded delighted by his gratefulness. Bones resumed their bumpy trek with a smile.

'Boa constrictor, harmless unless you're a rabbit, boar, pig or rat. You'll be in good, safe hands, Kopinski,' Bones smiled at him in the rear view mirror. She saw him nod his agreement.


Chapter VI Moving On.

Sitting cross legged on the scraped dirt forest floor, Bones sat around a smouldering wood fire amid the elders, known as the Salihas, in the epicentre of a small Kuna enclave. She was surrounded by pristine thick rainforest, which covered the rambling lowland hills, on the outer reaches of the infamous Darien Gap. This small four hutted encampment housed thirty eight Kuna of varying ages, a stone's throw from a tributary of the Sambu river course. They hunted for game, and fished in the rivers which led into the interior swampy regions of the reserve. They eked out their simple existence in relative seclusion or intrusion, which humbled and equally fascinated her.

Bones explained in Spanish via Hitock where she was from, her profession and her requests of the tribe. Hitock explained that when he first saw the smoke from the plane fire, he assumed it was the traffickers. Those traffickers, he explained, if they came across them would move them on, sometimes violently. So they tried to avoid them wherever possible. However, Hitock continued translating for the elders, that the traffickers often cleared parts of the forest to make rough airstrips to bring in supplies or take out their illegal product. Or they would cultivate large areas for a year or so then move on in case there was a crackdown on their production. Often it seemed that they would capture young Kuna to work for them at gun point, feed them little, then when their usefulness was exhausted, they would shoot them.

Sometimes, she was told, the government would intervene and fly over in helicopters shooting at random into the fields hoping to exterminate the gang leaders. More often than not, they would just end up killing the kidnapped Kuna.

This exploitation appalled Bones to the core. She knew of the hardships of these remarkable people had to endure just trying to feed their families. But to have these other traumas forced upon them, was whittling away their numbers, almost to extinction. Most young men tended to leave their families and head for the larger populated towns and cities. Once there, they hoped to find a life instead, and to avoid capture and enforced enslavement. Therefore the old traditions and culture were dying out as the population narrowed and left just a few small pockets of Kuna in the forests. It was clear the reservation had helped but with the cocaine producers snaking like stealth boa through the hills and lowlands, their time was finite. She could sit here and talk with these people for the next few years she felt, but her curiosity and intrigue was checked by her true purpose for being here.

Kopinski watched on as she spoke and discussed their predicament with the tribesmen, while he was surrounded by curious, yet wary scantily clad children of the village. He smiled at them, and played hide and seek behind his palms with them, making them giggle, and become exuberantly excited by his playfulness.

After an hour or so Bones came over to him and was smiling prettily, and looked to him, encouraged by her discussions and negotiations with the salihas.

'Ok, we're all set. They're going to take care of you till I get back.' She rummaged in the lockable steel boxes, as she explained, and removed various essential items. 'They may have to move on but they have assured me they will leave me a sign in the trees to their direction.'

'Why move on?' he queried, now feeling very edgy.

'The traffickers sometimes kidnap the young men or need their clearings to cultivate the coca. They will need protecting, Kopinski, especially if they come and find you amongst them. So, I'm leaving you the rifle and ammunition and you can keep that small firearm too. I'm taking the rest.' She paused from her task, to stare seriously into his eyes, as she said, 'Shoot to kill if they attack them. Do you understand?' Kopinski again nodded, then she began again to separate their kit into two piles, one for him and one for her. She cutely handed one bold curious child a Snickers bar from the rations store, with a nonchalant smile. The little boy blossomed, and bowed his thank you for the rare treat, and rushed off.

'They're loaning me a canoe to navigate the last section towards the site.' Kopinski nodded, enamoured by her casual generosity towards the waif-like children. 'They're putting you up in that hut.' She pointed in its direction, as curious children swarmed silently around her like honey bees, watching what she was doing, and hoping for more treats to come their way. 'You'll be sharing with many others. So be polite, respectful and do what you can for them. I'm leaving you with your medication and some water...' Bones pointed to his pile of stores in the chest. 'They're risking their lives for you and me remember. And they've been exceedingly generous and will share what little extra food they have with you. So be grateful for anything they offer, share what you have too.' Bones then turned her back to him, and sat down on the tail gate of the jeep with her medical kit, and waved the children ever closer to her.

'What-ya-doing?' Kopinski asked, straining to see what she was doing with her substantial medical kit on her lap. The children neared her again, forming a neat orderly queue, as if they instinctually knew what was happening next.

Bones explained, while looking over the small gathering. 'I've offered them two things in exchange for their hospitality and courage, medical assistance and food.'

'But we, you might need all that stuff?' he selfishly questioned her generosity. Bones looked around to him with a withering angry stare. Kopinski felt the metaphorical slap across his face instantly, and sagged. 'Yeah, right, got-ya,' he said apologetically, seeing the huge gulf between his existence and theirs.

Bones began examining all the children one by one. She checked their; teeth, eyes, ears, and limbs for any ailments, scratches, wounds or abscesses. A few of the mother's stood by, watching on alongside Hitock, who translated Bones' instructions to the parents for their continued care. He noted every child was given either double thumbs up with a attractive smile to comfort, and a US Ranger 3800 calorie daily ration pack. Or they were treated with antiseptic creams, plasters or given a tablet of some description. Even those that were treated got a silver ration pack too.

Kopinski was amazed that she seemed to conjure up drug after drug for all ailments that presented. Then he remembered that she'd been here before, and reasoned she had obviously packed for this eventuality.

One woman stood back with her few month old baby in her arms wrapped in a furs. The child, even though dark skinned, looked pale to Kopinski. He didn't think the child was long for this world as it looked so tragically pathetic.

Once all the children had ran off, clutching their ration packs with excited chatter, the young woman neared and offered her baby to Bones. She looked deep into the mother's hollow eyes, as she took the extraordinary light bundle into her arms. Hitock explained in Spanish, 'Baby is very sick. We have tried what we can but nothing has cured her. Mother knows baby will die.' Bones nodded, translating for the worried Kopinski behind her. She looked over the child, unwrapping the swaddling carefully, and laying the limp child on the jeep floor with great care to examine it. Bones catalogued her symptoms; her stomach was swollen, yet she was malnourished, the muscles held no strength or lividity. Her corneas were tinged yellow and pupils constricted and was dangerously dehydrated due to acute diarrhoea. Bones sighed, and grit her jaw in an attempt to hold back her emotions.

Kopinski leant over the seat back to see more clearly. 'What's wrong with her?' he enquired, feeling desperately sad for the tiny ominously quiet infant.

'A combination of things. Hepatitis B probably, contracted during delivery from the mother and malaria, I believe,' Bones said softly.

'Can you do anything for the poor little thing?' he asked, praying she could. He saw Bones nod a little, then pull open a sterile syringe, and load it with anti-malarial.

As she flicked the syringe to lose the air bubble, she said, 'It maybe too late unfortunately. Infant mortality is extremely high among these subsistence tribes. You will need to administer another shot tomorrow and another two days after that. Use only this syringe after boiling it for ten minutes in water. Do you understand?' Kopinski nodded, watching avidly at how and where she injected the limp child. 'Hepatitis is endemic amongst these people, most recover but with the malaria too, the liver is in acute stress.' Then she took out the broad spectrum antibiotic vile, and punctured the baby's other arm, loading it with the liquid. The pathetic child didn't make a sound, but just stared wide eyed into Bones', breaching her heart. 'You must only use the bottled water I'll leave with you to do this. I only have one more sterile syringe which I may need. Use yours for your morphine and antibiotics only. Take every precaution to not get infected. Keep yourself, and your wound as clean as possible.'

'Right, ok. Not gonna be easy,' he said ironically, looking around the dusty smoky encampment. Bones wrapped the little baby back up, kissed her brow, as she handed her back over to the mother. She gave her an expression of sadness, not convinced the child would survive. The mother nodded, understanding that without hearing the words. Then as the mother and child looked at each other, Bones explained to Hitock what Kopinski was to do for it while she was away. The mother nodded her thank you and understanding, then walked away quietly to one of the oblong communal habitation structures.

Feeling her eyes burning, as she watched her walk away, Bones distracted herself by hurriedly packing away her kit now everyone had been treated. She took out what she was leaving with Kopinski, and the supplies she was taking with her.

There was scurrying around the jeep now as three men opened the doors to carry out Kopinski. While another two men carried over a wooden canoe and oar, and began lashing it with reeds, upturned onto the jeep. Its bow resting on the windshield on the passenger side and the heavy end wedged against, the now shut, tailgate.

Kopinski was carried carefully to the vine-covered long mud hut, and saw an area set aside for him made of fresh vine leaves for his makeshift bed. Bones followed them in, ducking under the low narrow doorway, and watched them place him carefully on the simple bed. 'This is your space. Keep your leg elevated as much as possible,' she instructed. Bones looked around for a suitable prop, choosing a cut log beside the small mud stove. She placed his immobilised leg on it carefully, and settled onto her haunches. She smiled at him, and put all she was leaving him with beside him in one of the steel boxes.

Pulling out her notepad from her pack, she leant on the lid of the steel box, and began to scribble the dosages and her last instructions for him. She spoke to him multi-tasking, as she wrote, 'This is where we part company...' Kopinski nodded, looking a little nervous about being left, she thought, as she glanced at him. She carried on, despite feeling her own nervousness, 'Take morphine only when the pain is too severe and don't forget to keep up the treatment for the infant. I've written it all down here.'

Kopinski nodded, saying, 'Don't worry, I'll be ok and I'll look after the little one best I can.' Bones grinned weakly, and nodded, hearing he also understood the baby might die even after their medical intervention. She ripped off the page, and tucked it in the box. Then she got out her map, and opened it out on top of the box. She retrieved her Magellan made, state of the art GPS, to much excitement and intrigue from the native men as it bleeped to life. She took the reading, plotting them on the map for future reference and her return. 'Just in case I can't find my way back,' she said, with a placating smile, as all the men watched over her shoulder.

Kopinski was handed a small wooden cup with a green-ish brown steaming liquid in it by one of the young brightly dressed women. He sniffed it, and looked for reassurance to drink it from Bones. She saw his reluctance, and smiled knowingly.

'It tastes a little bitter. Add sugar from your rations if you need it. It's coca infused tea, it should give you a bit of a buzz with the properties of cocaine in it.' Kopinski brows rose high on his forehead, and immediately took a sip. Bones was given one too, and sipped it, while thanking them for the drink. 'It's a traditional drink and their welcome,' she told him, putting away her map and GPS again. She drained her small wooden beaker of tea, and stood up. 'I'll be back in a few days, maybe less, but...' pausing, she then said assuredly to him, 'I will be back for you, whatever.'

Encouraged, Kopinski lifted his hand, and held it out for her to shake. She put her pack over her shoulder, smiled, and took his hand. Kopinski nodded, gritting his jaw, moved by her determination, and squeezed her hand hard. 'You take care, Lady Croft,' he said sweetly, admiringly, not envying her forthcoming solo trek. The emotional stare they shared was filled with sorrow, as both knew how precarious both their situations were. To his surprise, Bones dropped to her knees, while still holding his hand, and hugged him close. He wasn't sure if her tender hug was for him or her own reassurance, but it felt essential for both of them.

The tender hug felt remarkably familiar to her, she recalled the last time she felt such an affectionate mutually respectful hug...

(( Andrew smiled at her in the dawn light as they got out of the taxi that pulled up beside the Lear jet which was to take her south. They walked over to the jet, their hands full of her equipment for her trip. 'Remember, Temperance, every day, six o'clock, call me.' Bones nodded, and walked up the steps into the fuselage. Lieutenant Toby Kopinski, blonde, lean Ranger, 29 years old, greeted them with a wide square jawed, green eyed smile. He instantly took the bags off her, and said, 'AD Hacker, Doctor Brennan, it's a privilege. Welcome aboard. I'm Toby Kopinski, co-pilot.'

Kopinski gestured to the six seats in the small cabin, and placed her pack on one of them for her. 'We're just doing the last flight checks now. Everything on your list has been loaded, checked and double checked. We've packed it all in the jeep ready for immediate deployment once we land.' He pointed to the jeep secured at the rear of the stripped down aircraft. Bones walked over to it, and nodded, pleased by what she saw.

'Do we have all the necessary armaments?'

'Yes, everything plus a few extra. Agent Hacker managed to pull a few puppet strings. The rest we commandeered off the base.'

Bones looked around to him, and clarified simply, 'You stole them...'

'We prefer the term, borrowed,' he said, with a charming smile to her. Bones grinned back pleasantly, then blowing out a calming breath through puckered lips.

Hacker interjected handsomely, 'Temperance, trust me, you have everything,' placing his palms on her shoulders. 'You're all set to go and bring him home. Kopinski and Drago are highly qualified former colleagues of Booth. They both have served with him at different times in their careers. Both are crack shots, highly trained, and are fully aware of the mission perimeters. They volunteered once they heard they were bringing another Ranger home. They have orders to protect, assist and will give their lives for you and Agent Booth should the need arise.'

'Let's hope it doesn't come to that,' she said, looking into Hacker's deeply concerned eyes.

Hacker added, 'I only wish I could come with you...' Bones shook her head.

'No, Andrew, I need you here. You need to find out why Booth had been forced into this mission.' Hacker ran his palms down her arms to her hands, and laced his fingers through hers, stepping a little closer.

'You don't have to do this, Temperance,' he reminded gently. Bones searched his eyes, then smiled the tiniest amount. Hacker understood that minute gesture implicitly. He quirked his lips, feeling compassionately rejected, and sighed with acceptance. 'That four letter word I see in your eyes has never been for me, has it?' Bones grinned a little wider, and shook her head sympathetically slowly. She unlaced her fingers from his, and hugged him to her. He reciprocated her tender hug just as vehemently.

'Thank you, Andrew, for everything. I could never have done this if it wasn't for you.'

'Yes, well, I am awesome.'

'That you are,' she said, leaning out of his embrace, and slipping a hand over his heart. 'You best go.' Andrew nodded, pecked her cheek affectionately, and waved goodbye to her, as he trotted down the steps.

As the jet took off from the private airstrip north of DC, Bones watched Hacker watch them into the air safely and rise into the sky. ))


Chapter VII Making Camp

Bones was rightly pleased with the progress she had made since she'd left the Kuna camp and Kopinski. As she used her machete to take off the lower dead branches from two trees which were spaced seven foot apart, she went over her six hour physically gruelling journey in her mind.

She had followed the tributary river course as far as the main river, then kept to the east bank of the Sambu, where the cuipo trees were biggest. Therefore the canopy was so thick above, that little light reached the jungle floor, and made her progress comparatively easy. It was a longer route but quicker with less obstacles to negotiate.

While she tied up her hammock strings around the first cleaned trunk, then walked to the other tree to string that side up too, she smiled to herself at her good fortune. She remembered how, at one point during her day, she snagged the canoe's bow on a low branch, and nearly snapped it in two. The windshield had cracked but that was nothing compared to the disaster if the canoe had snapped. She would have had to make another, and she didn't relish the thought. The good fortune lay in her ingenious solution to that never happening again. She had knocked out the worthless pane, and slid the canoe through the windshield frame, lowering it by a couple of foot. Thus made the lashings hold it more securely within that section of the frame. Now she didn't fear it crashing into her while she rumbled and tossed over the undulating ground.

Hooking the mosquito net over her hammock, and tying its suspension cords a foot above the hammock ones, she thought about what she was going to eat tonight. She was starving hungry, and starting to physically ache too. While she gathered the draped net under the hammock, and tied it into and knot below it, she salivated at the thought of 3800 calories of pure energy, and stomach filling goodness.

Once she'd checked the security of her bed for the night, she began working on her campfire as the light began to fade, and looked forward to the deluge to come. Not only could she bathe in that deluge, but the temperature would drop a little and give her a little respite from the exhausting heat. Her body had not fully acclimatised yet, but she knew she should feel better tomorrow.

Bones pulled out from her pack her micro-lite sleeping bag, and unrolled it on the hammock, then blew up her pillow, and put that under the clever net cum tarpaulin. After that she got out her fire lighting kit. This kit she'd had for years and it had been on every trip she had been on all over the world. It contained; a box of dry, water resistant matches, a fire stick, dry kindling, a plastic pill pot of gunpowder, and most importantly, two well used sticks. One with a notch and bowl scorched in, the other with a boot lace attached at either end. Those two sticks being one of the earliest ways for man to make fire. The quickest easiest option to make fire was chosen.

Bones scrapped away some jungle floor to get down to the rich dark soil, and made a depression with her machete. Then she lined the shallow pit with bark as a base for her fire. Then walked around gathering some larger pieces of wood, she whistled happily as she went about her tasks. She'd always enjoyed challenging herself against nature and terrain, and getting back to her basic human roots.

As she scrapped the sparks from the fire-stick with her penknife onto the kindling, she heard thunder rumble close by, signalling the imminent downpour. The kindling caught light instantly, she picked up the ball, and meshed it with another clump of vine tendrils, then blew into it to make a larger flame ball. Once she was pleased with its size and strength, she placed it under the machete-ed strips of wood she'd cut. They began to crackle and caught alight quickly and give off excellent heat. She took some time building up the fire, and securing it under a few propped up vine leaves and ferns. Putting her fire kit away safely, she hung her pack up inside her cosy sleeping place out of the rain, that was starting to fall in heavy drops to the forest floor. She checked her watch, and smiled at it. 17.47 it read. Right on time, she thought, stripping off her clothes, and tucked them under her bed to keep dry.

As she sat naked on the tail gate of the jeep, she washed herself down from hair to toe in the pounding rain with a soap bar, and semi beside her. The warm rain was so heavy, she kept checking her fire, fearing it might go out. But with her expert covering, it fought magnificently against the dousing liquid and grew more feisty as time went on. More thunder rumbled overhead and the trees groaned hard their complaint, but defied the pummelling they were receiving.

Once earthly refreshed and utterly clean, Bones tipped her head up to the rain, and gloried in the natural rinsing of her tired aching body. She slipped on her boots, and walked back to the fire, and put on another couple of logs. Then picked out a ration pack and litre of water from her steel box, and began to tuck in on the nut bar first.

Her nakedness was irrelevant as she was more than likely the only person for tens of miles around. She crouched under her hammock as it was the driest place to eat her food, and waited for the shower to pass. Ten minutes later the shower was subsiding and she was almost dry, and her stomach half full. A few more claps of thunder signalled the virtual end of the heavy shower, so she emerged from under her bed, and got out her billycan and prop, and set about heating up her curried bean stroganoff with pilau rice.

While she waited for it to heat up, she brushed out her hair, tying it up, applied more deodorant, reapplied antiseptic cream to her almost healed abrasions, then finally took a couple of pain relief tablets.

She stoked the fire, adding more logs, then took her curry to her bed, and got in. She sat dangling her legs over the side, looking around her surroundings, while eating her very tasty dinner. Listening to all the animals coming out from their shelters, and hearing the macaw and howler monkeys start up their calling again. As the forest creaked and groaned as it grew stronger, and sucked up the rain that had fallen, she grinned, enchanted. She poured the water into her billycan, and rinsed it around. Then she drank that down too, ingesting every last calorie, washing up, and replacing fluids lost that day in the process. All that was left in her ration pack now were four squares of dark chocolate which she intended to savour later and a orange juice pulp to be mixed with water. She did exactly what it said on the squishy packet, and drank that down immediately.

Tying her boots together, she hung them up from one of her suspending trees, and put on her t-shirt again, and her last pair of clean underwear. She slipped into her sleeping bag, secured the net closed, and rolled to watch the flames of the fire dance. Finally settled, she sucked each piece of chocolate in turn, till they dissolved in her mouth luxuriantly.

Her comfort now complete and her belly full, she closed her eyes. Letting her mind drift and remember the last contact she'd had with her partner before he left for his vacation...

(( Bones rolled over against her pillow unable to sleep after what had been revealed, transpired and promised between them this very night. She sighed, and turned her pillow over, hoping the cooler cotton side would lull her to sleep. After twenty more minutes had ticked by, she was still wide eyed and restless. She rolled away from the clock, which reminded her silently that it was six minutes past three, and lay on her back. Then drawing her knees up, she smacked her covers down either side of her body, with a frustrated huff.

She pondered, staring at the ceiling shadows, if she was this frustrated now, what would she be like in a few weeks? She debated, over and over whether she should call him in the morning before he left, or now. She glanced at the hugely annoying clock, and huffed, realising it was quite literally the middle of the night, and he would be fast asleep by now. She thought suddenly, that she didn't even ask if he was leaving town or staying at home for his break. She tutted, reprimanding herself for her elementary mistake. Then again, she mused, that was probably because she was so distracted that she wouldn't see him for such a long time. It had been bad enough when she went to Maluku Islands last year, a night didn't pass when she didn't think or dream about him then. Some nights her dreams were so hugely erotic, she recalled waking suddenly with a gasp just before, in her dream, she was to climax with him. Then she had a terrible thought. Had she sounded too desperate to sleep with him? Had he thought that she only wanted him tonight for his body? She couldn't bear to think he thought it was only about sex with her because it wasn't. She just had this overwhelming urge to get as physically close to him as possible. And that intimate act was the closest they could get.

A strange, yet familiar ringing interrupted her muddling thoughts now. When she realised what it was, she instantly grabbed her phone receiver beside her, and hoped for, 'Booth?'

There was a soft relaxing sigh down the line, then he said softly, 'I should have stayed, Bones...' She grinned, and sighed softly too, closing her eyes. 'I wanted to, you believe me, don't you?'

'Yes, yes, I know... You were being you, I was being me... Drive back and be with me, Booth.'

'Oh. God, Bones,' he pined for forgiveness. 'Don't, I can't, I leaving in two hours.'

'Oooh,' she pined too, then asked finally, 'Where're you going? I forgot to ask, I was so distracted by you leaving.'

'I'm sorry. I've booked a flight to Ontario. I got it cheap cos I booked late.'

'Right. Ontario, yes... Do they have cell connection up there?' she asked, with a wry smile, hoping he understood the true meaning behind her silly question.

As Booth chuckled into his mouthpiece at her, she smiled wider, pleased he had read between her lines, 'Haa. Yes. I'll call you, Bones.'

She sighed, content, and relaxed. 'Good, I'd like that. Where are you now, what are you doing, just so I can picture you?' She rolled onto her side, and snuggled down into her soft, cosy bed. Her stomach settled but her excitement persisted, as they talked quietly, almost secretively.

Touched by her gentle requests, Booth cooed, 'Aww. That's so sweet. I'm in bed, but I can't sleep either. I've been tossing and turning. I couldn't decide if I should call.'

'Me too. I've been deliberating whether to call you for the last three hours or not. How long do you plan on being away?' she asked, dreading his reply but needing to know.

He said softly, sounding depressed at the thought to her, 'Couple of weeks, maybe longer.' Bones' heart sank, and she felt her eyes start to fill.

Boldly, she kept honest and open with him, with, 'I don't think I can endure that long without seeing you.'

He replied even softer, empathetically, 'We've done it before, Bones.'

'Yes, true, but it's very different this time...' There was a long pause as they listened to each other breathing softly. They both read between their gently delivered lines, knowing that things were indeed very different now. Although they had not said it to each other, the sentiment was loud as gun fire, as bright as the summer sun and sparklingly clear, like pure spring water.

Then Bones broke the gentle comfortable silence with, 'Phone sex...'

'Haa.' Booth snorted his laugh down the line, as she grinned wide, hearing his amusement at her blunt statement. Then he said charmingly, 'Ok, you start...' ))

Bones' eyes didn't open again as her fatigue swamped her now, and she drifted off into a deep slumber with a smile curving her lips, unable to continue with her cherished memory.


Chapter VIII Morning Glory.

A troop of loud, exuberant howler monkeys cavorted in the canopy above Bones' head, and their riotous morning calls jarred her awake. Blinking to focus her eyes on the smouldering fire three feet away, she yawned, and rolled onto her back to stretch out her spine. The hammock rocked gently with her movement as if urging her back to sleep. She could see the monkeys leaping, and chasing each other through the emerald canopy above. The dense intertwining leaves were shot through with the rising scorching sun and she could feel the steam start to rise to thicken the earthy fragranced air, tinged with sweet wood smoke. Rainbow feathered birds chirped their boundary calls and warnings to intruders, reminding her of a melodic harmonising choir. While clouds of stinging, biting insects rose in columns in the shafts of sunlight which managed to reach the leaf mulch below. They looked to her as if they were suspended in watery milk and strangely beautiful. As the powerful sunlight hit the summit of the surrounding forest, she thought the canopy looked like green stained glass decorating a cathedral's walls, her living walls. The immaculate beauty of the rainforest coming to life filled her with awe.

Bones checked the time, seeing it was just gone six, and calculated she had slept for nearly twelve hours. She wasn't surprised by that, in fact she was delighted; because it meant she was recharged enough to face the next arduous part of her journey. But first her to-do list, she thought out loud, 'Fire, breakfast, ablutions, a little laundry, then break camp.' Putting on her boots, after checking nothing had crept into them over night, she slipped out of her hammock and net, and stood to stretch properly.

Just as she'd done every waking moment and some sleeping moments, her thoughts turned directly to her partner now. She pondered, as she stoked the fire embers and added more wood, whether what she would find would be him. However, she clung onto a gossamer strand of hope that none of the six bodies laying in that camp were his. She hadn't thought what she would feel or do if she discovered him amongst the charred remains. Only because she couldn't bear the pain of never seeing him again, or facing the rest of her life alone. How cruel life could be, she mused, they'd just begun, then by a confusing series of events they'd come to an abrupt agonising halt.

His sweet heart-wrenching note had put a rod up her back and charged her with purpose and determination at the time. But as she boiled up some water in her billycan suspended over the now raging fire, she felt her eyes burn, and her throat and chest tighten. All being well today, she should reach the site, and know for sure if he was indeed no more and her last hope would snap and drift off on the steamy air.

However, she gave herself a mental thump in the head, she knew not to dwell or every task would triple in difficulty. She couldn't allow the self-indulgence of pity or grief, and knew she had to keep mentally strong and fight against her negative emotions. People; Parker, Booth, Kopinski and others were relying on her to prevail, and she was determined not to let anyone down, least of all herself.

Opening the steel box in the flat open trunk of the mud splattered jeep, she took out a ration pack, and opened it. Porridge oats seemed a delicious option this fine jungle morning, and she tipped the contents of the pack into the water as it began to boil. She added the prune pulp to it to sweeten, and chomped the granola bar, while stirring the concoction as it thickened appetizingly.

After reloading her stomach with energy giving carbohydrate, she made for the river bank. She took with her, her billycan, gun, pack and her clothes for washing. She could hear the river run before she reached its banks. The Sumba River wasn't too wide, maybe, she calculated, seventy foot across, but helpfully it was shallow with a stony bed. A perfect river to cross in her 4x4 later, knowing she had to navigate it soon.

As she stepped out onto a small sand beach, fresh water crabs, shocked by her appearance, scuttled into the water's edge or burrowed to hide from her. The translucent water tore past her from right to left, bouncing and swirling over the gritty bed, turning itself around with the vibrant sparkling eddies. She spotted a Cayman crocodile basking to warm its cold blood on an eroded flat boulder mid stream. The thick trees on the opposite bank were littered with lime and crimson noisy macaws, reminding her of apples clinging to trees in an English orchard. Then beyond that, she could see the misted canopy rise and undulate as it rose up a spine of docile volcanic hills and away. 'Gorgeous,' she said to herself, absorbing the majesty for a few moments. Then she began to wash her clothes; billycan, then herself, accompanied by the earth's song and picture perfect tranquil scenery.

Coming back to camp with everything clean, she packed up. Extinguishing her fire, and then she covered it to lose all trace of it and return the forest to normality. She checked the jeep and canoe were secure, then finally dressed. She was unconcerned about the damp t-shirt and underwear she put back on, as it would kept her cool for a while until they dried on her hot skin. She knew she would rarely be dry in a rainforest but the fresh dry khaki pants were welcomed. Lastly, and most importantly, she checked, and marked her position on her map with the indispensable GPS unit. She gauged she had a two to three hours ahead of solid driving before she reached the co-ordinates, barring any incidents.

Placing her pack in the foot well of the passenger seat beside her, she tucked the gun in the door pocket at her thigh for easy quick access. Then she stowed a bottle of water alongside it too. 'Right,' she said, making a sweeping check around her camp with her eyes for any left articles or evidence of her being here. Once satisfied, she turned on the engine, and set off under the colossal pillars supporting the cathedral's elegant roof.


Chapter IX River Deep, Eagle High.

Bones brought the jeep to a slow stop at the lapping edge of the Sumba River. She'd spent the last twenty minutes searching for the narrowest shallowest point to cross it. This stretch, she estimated, looked the best option so far. She got out of the jeep with her palm sized binoculars, and jumped up onto the hood to assess the depth of the water. 'Ok, this looks good, might get my knees wet though,' she said absently, but feeling some anxiousness as she plotted her route across. Jumping back down, she stowed everything that needed to stay dry in her steel air-tight box, and checked its anchoring chains.

She had spotted a small beach on the opposite bank, and decided to make for that where she could stop and have something to eat and drink. She was soaked through with sweat already, so a little cooling dip didn't seem like a bad idea. Her face was gritty too with tossed up soil and splattered mud, while perspiration constantly trickled down her temples and between her cleavage. The mosquitoes were starting to annoy her even more now she had stopped moving and their splattered remains littered her moist skin. They were clearly attracted to her high temperature and clouded around her head, circling like insistent mini vampires. She batted them away, but felt one bite, and smacked the back of her neck, but still hearing the odious pests around her ears. Having being still too long, she prepared herself. Taking a deep breath, she flicked the exhaust expel to periscope, then drove slowly into the river.

The water buffeted the right side of the jeep, rocking her left, and she could feel the front wheels start to spin freely ominously, almost immediately. 'Ooohkaaay, deeper than it looked,' she said, turning the steering wheel to hopefully catch the river bed. She slammed the gears into second to slow them down, and began rocking her body weight from side to side as to tilt the jeep upstream. 'Come on, come on, grip!' she shouted, frantically urging the struggling vehicle on a few more feet. Water poured in through the doors and covered her boots, it was so cold against her super heated skin, she gasped.

The back end of the jeep swung left, and she started to drift down stream backwards at pace, caught in the deceptively strong current. Putting it back into first quickly, she pushed down on the accelerator, and jumped up and down in the foot well, pulling hard right on the steering wheel. The engine roared and squealed, as grey exhaust fumes plumed out of the periscope at the passenger side. As she began to get washed back, she began to feel panic set in. The jeep smacked into a boulder mid stream and nearly threw her over the windshield. 'Dammit!' she cussed, and spun the wheel the other way as she began to roll around the black flat rock with the force of the river. The water gushed in over the tipping side, and weighed down the jeep. Then all at once, with the extra weight, the jeep's wheels gripped the bottom finally, and jumped forwards with a whirring muffled screech.

'Yes! Come on...' Bones encouraged the vehicle illogically, exhilarated. She sat back down in the waist high water, and it crawled across the slippery river bed and over the worst, deepest mid section.

Once she was making reasonable progress again, and the water started to drain down, she relaxed, catching her breath. Steering frantically to keep the jeep on track, finally she felt the incline of the river bank, and drove up onto dry land.

It wasn't the beach she had aimed for but she thought it would do considering. She was only sixty feet from it anyway, so drove half in the river and half on land towards it, back upstream. The water drained out remarkably quickly, she noted and even left her a few stowaways. Two small carp-like silver fish flapped desperately in the puddle-d foot well beside her. Eventually reaching her intended beach, she swung the jeep 90 degrees to port, to face up the beach so the jeep could drain properly. She got out, trotted around the hood, and opened the passenger side door. She gathered the fish, and chucked them back into the river to fight another day.

The jeep drained like it was urinating from the tail gate, while Bones checked she still had everything with her. Much to her relief she had, the box had done its job and everything was secure and dry. Popping the hood now, and securing it, Bones let the engine dry out in the blinding bleaching sun. Then she checked the back end to assess the damage. There was a nasty looking ding on the tail gate which took the brunt of the collision but the exhaust pipe was hanging off by the silencer cylinder. She knew that had to come off, so she retrieved her machete to crack it off the rest of the way. It only took three firm chops and the useless part dropped onto the sand.

Feeling the dopamine start to kick in and the adrenalin dissipate, Bones sat crossed legged on the sand where she was. Exhausted from her from her spine shortening traverse of dense jungle, and near disastrous river crossing, she hung her head. With the machete in her limp wrist and the piece of exhaust pipe in the other, she breathed slowly, and closed her eyes. She wanted to sleep for another twelve hours, she wanted to roll into a ball on the warm sand and just sleep. Her whole body ached, her bi-ceps stung, and her rib still tweaked when she twisted, and she was so thirsty she could barely swallow.

There was a long haunting screech above her in the huge sky, and she looked up slowly to find its source. It took a few moments for her to pick it out, but when she saw the wing span, and where it was circling on the thermal, she sat up straighter. The harpy eagle was circling with two others to her right. Bones calculated that was, there or there abouts, where she was heading.

Then the realisation dawned on her. Although those eagles searched for fresh meat unlike vultures, below them must be other animals who weren't so fussy about eating fresh meat. Human carrion, she realised was an easy substitute for hunting for their survival. Bones jumped up, throwing the pipe away, and stashed her machete in its scabbard on her belt. Dropping the hood, she jumped back into the jeep, and set off in their direction, getting her second wind.

She drove fast and recklessly through the thinning undergrowth, uncaring at the protesting jeeps calls for clemency. Bouncing out of her seat many times, getting tossed this way than that, she reminded herself that if Booth was indeed amongst the six, he was being eaten away. That thought revolted her, and raced her blood with anger. Admonishing herself for taking too long to get here, as she knew the jungle was already starting to reclaim the dead and feed its hungry inhabitants. Her eyes poured too, that she may have nothing to take back to the US to give a decent respectful burial. Those thoughts tightened her chest till she could barely breathe or see straight. She would've failed him and that was what made her stamp her foot to the accelerator, and hurtle manically towards ground zero.


Chapter X Ground Zero

The unmistakable stench of death and rotting flesh permeated the thick forest air as she neared the clearing. Smelling the residue of petrol fires too, she slashed at fronds of newly spouted ferns and five foot high saplings to clear her path forwards with her machete. Her tears had dried up now, as she reached her goal and were replaced by an overwhelming sense of foreboding.

Stowing her machete away on her utility belt scabbard, replacing it with her semi, she took off the safety catch, and held it out ready to fire at arms length. She walked slowly, foot over foot, as silently as she could into the stinking, charred black, former Kuna settlement.

Firstly, she noted, to her left was a long hut, its thatched roof was missing, burnt away to ashes. The exact same greeted her on her right. Then dead ahead in the epicentre, where the communal fire pit once was, were six bloated bodies that looked alive, in an open rose shape. Over them hung a cool empty silence.

Bones flicked her observant eyes over the crime scene, and made her assessment. They'd been bound by ankle and hands tied behind their backs, then executed by one shot through the temple, then burnt, that much was blatantly obvious to her. There had been no effort to disguise the crime; a multiple summary execution of six human beings.

She swallowed her disgust and risen vomit, as she stared at the voracious rodents that swamped, and scurried about the remains, gorging themselves. One rat was half inside a shattered skull and was gnawing out the remainder of its contents. The hum of insects and thousands of flies in dark clouds above the bodies, all imprinted on her eidetic memory. Then she saw the slow waving movements of water-like trickles of hundreds of creamy coloured maggots. They were wriggling away from the corpses to be picked off by a plethora of feasting, happily chirping birds.

Bones put the back of her hand up against her lips and nose for a moment, and squatted were she stood.

Where was she to begin? she questioned herself. This, she pondered, was the flip side of the immaculate majestic jungle she was so in awe of this morning. This grotesque sight was mimicked everyday in parts of the world like this. Death, bringing food and another day of life for other species. That was the way of nature; kill or be killed, die and be eaten. Flesh to bone, to ashes and recycled, over and over. This grizzly vision was a microcosm of how life and death panned out for every creature.

Then why was it she was so affected by what she saw if this was so natural? she questioned. The answer was frighteningly easy for her; because one of those former, living, breathing entities was the man she loved. And being capable of loving was what set humans apart from the those feasting animals and loathsome insects. The atrocity she was now witnessing was made all the worse because it was humans which had done this. Not for food, survival or in self defence either, but those who had committed this were worse, she felt, than the creatures that now feasted.

As anger boiled her blood, Bones tilted her head, set her jaw, closed an eye to aim at a particularly large rat, and blasted it off the festering nearest carcass. The rest of the rodents ran for cover, and scurried off into the bush, squealing their protests as they went. The birds screeched away too, and fluttered into the scorched boughs overhanging the compound. Even the maggots stilled momentarily in shock, she thought.

Breathing out a long sigh, she then stood, and walked closer. With every step she took, she looked for any sign of him she could recognise. Four bodies she dismissed instantly, they were too short and their facial bone structure suggested native traits. 'Kuna,' she remarked. Walking slowly around the bodies anti-clockwise, she saw one that was potentially her partner. She crouched, crushing a squirming trail of maggots under her boots uncaringly, as she made a close visual inspection of those particular remains.

The cranial ridge was close to Booth's, she noted. The long bone calculation she made matched his height too. Then, she considered, as the fire had been fast and furious, the accelerant being petrol or diesel, the clothing was flash burnt and not alight for long. She surmised maybe seven or eight minutes long in total, judging by the underside of the material closest to the body being virtually un-scorched. That may have been because the flames were dowsed by the afternoon deluge, which gave her a time frame for the murders. Or possibly, she thought logically, someone else putting out the fires.

Bones knew she had two points of certainty to confirm without a DNA test. Firstly, his St Christopher and any previous bone injuries he sustained throughout his life. However this being a crime scene and her ultimate intention was to bring whomever did this to justice, she had to secure the site, and record what she could. So she stood again, walked to clear area, and got out her waterproof video camera.

As the rain began to pour, she turned it on, flipped the screen out and over, and began talking, 'Dr Temperance Brennan of the Jeffersonian Institute in Washington DC. Tuesday, 17.57, Darien Gap, Panama. Co-ordinates...' she rattled off the longitude and latitude, as she scanned the compound in one long wide sweep with the camera to document it.

By the time she was crouched again over the remains she suspected were Booth's, videoing close-ups of them, she had to pause her fact based professional commentary, being too emotional. Her tears were washed away from her skin by the lashing warm rain that pummelled her to a heap beside his body. She then did what she'd been dreading since she'd arrived at this macabre place.

Lifting the outer scorched clothing at the gnarled scavenged throat, she saw a glint of gold, an element unharmed by fire, acid or decaying flesh. Taking a deep breath, she carefully fingered the chain over her trembling fingers, and tugged it gently free from the black, crispy flesh. The little medallion slipped along the fine chain towards her palm. It twirled for a few seconds in the fading light, revealing it to be engraved with St Christopher carrying the infant Jesus across a river.

Recognising it as definitely his, she bowed her head, and snatched it blindly off the corpse's neck, and scrunched it in her palm. Finally losing her composure, she broke down completely. Her long held gossamer strand of hope snapped easily like the chain in that moment, and was washed away amid her sobbed overwhelming grief.


Chapter XI First Contact

Bones lay fully clothed but wet though, tear and sweat stained in her hammock on the edge of the compound. She'd set fires all around the murder victims to ward off predators till the morning, when she intended to finish her examinations. Then she'd decided to bury the other unfortunate Kuna before taking what was left of Booth back home.

She still clutched his chain in her hand, along with her semi, and stared at the corpse unblinking, as the rain hammered above her onto the tarpaulin. She couldn't eat anything, but she forced water down her throat to at least keep her lucid.

Her silent tear soak vigil over him was for him, not for her. She'd made him a promise a long time ago to visit him when he was gone, she never could understand that logic until now. Now it seemed essential to look out for what was left of him, and that was crushing her into an ever smaller ball in her hammock. As she scrunched herself tighter together, her pack got in her way, so she pushed it away, and her cell phone dropped out by her hand. She sighed forlornly, and went to tuck it away again, but then she turned it on, just in case. The screen lit up her face as it flickered to life, then amazingly she saw four bars of signal appear in the top left hand side of the screen. Her eyes widened as she watched, stunned as the Panamanian Cell network connected her signal to the nearest tower. 'Andrew,' she said disbelievingly, and scrambled herself to contact him.

'Come on, come on, pick up,' she rambled anxiously.

'Temperance?' Hacker queried incredulously.

'Andrew. Oh. Thank-God!'

'Tempe, you're alive? You're alive! Mother-of-God you're alive.'

'Yes, I'm alive.' Although she was alive, she felt oddly disjointed like an unfinished jigsaw and half dead; a misty shadow of her former self, of what she could have been. Bones spoke rapidly and concisely though, knowing their time might be short, 'Ok, you ready? Plane crashed on landing, Drago dead. Kopinski alive. Fractured leg with Kuna tribe. Satellite phone crushed. I'm at the compound now, all six executed. Bound, one shot to brain, burnt. Found Booth. Will bury the rest tomorrow and bring him home. Will need extraction from landing strip. Helicopter only. Will contact you, when I'm there.'

'Tempe, wait, stop! I know about the crash, we saw the wreckage on the satellite pass. We thought you'd all died. Listen... Are you sure it's Booth?'

'Yes, almost certainly.'

'No, no! I'm not convinced. Listen, I've found out about Booth and this list thing...'

'Talk fast,' Bones ordered, leaping out of her hammock, whipping out her machete, and ran through the mud puddles over to the remains through the driving rain.

Dropping to her knees, she sliced right down the middle of the corpse, from throat to groin in one long slash. Then tucking the cell under her ear, she ripped back the rotting flesh to expose his rib cage, and began checking for remodelling from when he was blown up in her kitchen. Hacker explained in her ear, as she went about her search, 'When Booth was in Bosnia he witnessed a mass execution. NATO forces couldn't intervene, political ethics. He sounded off to his commanding officer, that by standing by they were condoning the murders. His commander put him in touch with a little known group within the CIA who dealt covertly with such people outside of the US/NATO laws, thinking he was a good candidate for the elite group,' Hacker explained at a rush, hearing slopping sounds, and rain pounding the forest around her, along with her grunts and accelerating breathing.

The light was so weak from the fires, Bones couldn't see well enough, so ran her fingers along the ribs, feeling the slippery bones for the old fractures as Hacker carried on, 'He didn't call on him till two years ago, when he gave him a target, an Iranian, later a Palestinian, then a Russian, you get the picture...'

'What's their connection?' Bones asked, making another savage incision over the right shoulder, and tore at the putrefying muscle to see if she could feel for any bone remodelling.

'Nothing, they don't have one. Except this group within the CIA is bogus. Well, Booth's group is, run by a rogue, pissed off, self absorbed extremely wealthy general who is as close to the last four presidents as any military man can get. He's very open to bribery and has, in the last twelve years or so, used men like Booth who think they're doing good, to rid the world of these targets. The targets are bad men, just not as bad as the men that pay this general to take out their competition. They're all either, cocaine runners, WMD procurers, political opponents. anywhere there's big money to be made.'

Pulling off the military issue size twelve boots from the left foot, Bones asked rhetorically, 'Booth has been duped then?' Then she sliced upwards from the heel to the sole, and ripped the skin back to inspect the bones at close quarters. She lifted the foot up, as she did with the decay, the knee separated from the femur, leaving her holding the foot with the tibia in her slimy hands. She stared at the foot in the flicking light from the fire.

Scrambling closer to the sizzling fire, Bones checked again, while Hacker broke the news, 'Yes. But apparently Booth did a little checking of his own and found out what was going on. I've been over his apartment and found some of his documents and notes. He confronted this general and may have threatened to expose him.'

Bones interrupted him with an obscenely elated, trembling smile, 'It's not Booth.' She changed ears with the phone, and sagged as she finally slowed down, as euphoria replaced withering grief in every last cell she possessed.


Dropping the half leg to the muddy ground with a splash, she confirmed, 'It's not Booth, the body is staged, his chain around his neck, US military clothing but not Booth. I'm certain, Andrew. This corpse hasn't got the shoulder nick, rib or metatarsal remodelling from Booth's previous bullet wounds or fractures.' Bones was now surrounded and covered by putrefying flesh, liquefying entrails and wriggling maggots from her frantic two minute, Jack-the-ripper-like, autopsy. The stench was so profound she found it hard not to retch. 'Have, have they kidnapped him?'

Bones got no answer, so dropped her phone from under her ear into her slimy palm, and saw the phone was dead. She reasoned, probably due to the battery shorting out with the torrential rain seeping into the handset. That was the least of her worries right now, now the only thing she felt was obliterating shattering relief ripple down her spine. Slumping her buttocks to the muddy ground, she closed her eyes, and tipped her head back up to the heavens, feeling the rain baptise her and rejuvenate. Whispering to herself another confirmation, just for her own gratification, she said, 'It's not my Booth.'


Chapter XII A Change Of Plan.

Bones stretched her back out, and rubbed the small of it with her newly blistered palms. Then she batted away the excess flies that were swarming around her stinking steaming face. She wiped her brow with a long sweep from her forearm, then picked up the bottle of water beside her, and swigged thirstily the remaining contents. Her stomach groaned its boredom at yet more water and not receiving any long sought sustenance.

Digging six shallow graves with nothing more than a machete was exhausting work even under the shade of the cativo trees that surrounded the compound. It had taken her the best part of the night and most of the morning to create six resting places for the victims. But she thought, it was the least she could do for the unfortunate Kuna, and a Caucasian man she still had no lead on. She had considered cremating them but then their bones would be damaged too severely for future investigations or examinations. Then there was the possibility of the smoke drawing attention to the site in the daylight. She was positive she'd made the right decision, and began filling the graves respectfully with their intended occupants.

She kept a diary record of the events that had happened over night and of her positioning of the graves sites on her video camera. Trying to be as professional and empirical as she could in the circumstances, she set up the camera a few feet away, and let it roll as she covered up the bodies.

One all fours, patting down the earth, she informed, 'I'm changing my plans as of now as this situation is fluid. I believe Special Agent Seeley Booth is still with the men that committed this crime, and I intend to find them and him. Wednesday 11.03...' She then reached over, and turned it off. As she did she heard something behind her, before she turned to look, with adrenalin spiking, she instinctually reached for her semi. Then she spun, rolling flat on her back in one quick movement, pointing her weapon ready to shoot off a round down the length of her body.

What she saw made her gasp, as the huge feline looked as shocked to see her, as she did to see it. The rich golden and brown spotted jaguar was tensed, and eyeing her side on. For a few moments she could see it sizing her up, it turned its head very slowly to look at her more face on, and just stared down her barrel. Its bitumen eyes glared deep into hers unblinking and she glared back.

Bones didn't want to shoot it as they were so rare, and she suspected it had caught the scent of rotting meat and was made curious by it. She didn't know if she should get up, or fire a warning shot over its head. As she was contemplating her options, it sniffed the air a couple of times, then walked nonchalantly back into the forest and disappeared. Letting her held breath go, she put the safety back on, and got up.

With the graves dug, filled, and small wooden stakes plunged into the soggy dark earth at their head, she picked up her pack. She walked back through the forest the way she'd come to the river, and her borrowed canoe.

It was another blistering hot day, with again, little reprieve from the steaming jungle and its menacing creatures. On her alert meandering paddle back through the dense mangrove swamp to her camouflaged jeep, she was besieged by armies of flying insects. They persistently followed in her pungent wake but she took little notice, already on autopilot. Ice white egrets and lazy crocodile watched her pass them curiously but didn't react to her paddle splashes, as she started making her mental lists again. First on her list was; get back to the jeep, then wash up, change, eat, drink, and attend to her blistered and bleeding hands. Then she decided to drive up to the nearest high point to get a look for signs of life or movement. All of which she did within just over an hour with renewed purpose and determination.


Washed clean of last night's horrors, changed into fresh dry clothes, having washed the filthy ones, she clambered up a rock. Standing on a large bolder with the river rushing past behind her, she scanned the ridge of hills just west of ground zero peering through her binoculars. She could see nothing to suggest life or human movement; there were no tracks or gaps in the bush or forest. She had no idea in which direction they would have gone, and knew she couldn't just drive around hoping to find them. It would be like searching for a single atom amongst the sand on the beach at her feet.

Going back to the jeep, she opened out the map fully, and plotted where she was, while crunching through a granola bar to finally placate her growling stomach. Then she tried to fathom where she would go if she was a cocaine cultivator. She knew they would need fairly easy access to water, so they would stay close to any reliable water source. The swamp would be too wet and difficult to traverse, so she dismissed the swampy areas, and stuck to the hills. The ridge ahead was north facing and she knew the coca plants liked it hot, so south made sense to her. But judged they wouldn't stay near the big tributaries, rather, stay near the smaller feeder streams that ran off the mountains. So she had a strategy; head over the ridge ahead to its south side, find the largest tributary which fed the river behind, and maybe, just maybe, she would get lucky.

This side of the river was Embera Wounaan territory. The Wounaan were another native tribe much like the Kuna but their numbers were greater. They tended to integrate more with the twenty first century way of life. They made handy crafts and traditional objects to sell in the markets of the big towns on the outskirts of the Darien reserve for the adventurous tourists. She hoped if she came across them, they may be able to tell her if they'd seen anything suspicious recently, or heard any rumours.

She estimated she could get at least two hours of hard driving in before she had to stop to make camp for the night. Those two hours, she assessed, should get her to the top, or very near, to the top of the ridge. So she packed up, and set off again.


Climbing trees had never been her strong suit. She wasn't a fan of heights either, but needs must, she rationalised. Tying a large tight knot in the end of the jeep's long thick towrope, she flung it high over the lowest bough via standing on the hood of the jeep. On the third attempt it went over and dangled over it. Flicking the rope like a whip, she fed out the rope till she had both ends in her hands. She made a slip knot, and pulled hard with all her might. The knot and loop around the sturdy bough were secure, so she tied her end around her waist, and began to climb up the trunk, hauling herself up towards the bough.

Taking a leaf out of Kopinski's book, Bones muttered, 'Chucha, chu-cha,' almost constantly, as her bandaged blisters split open again and began to bleed and new ones formed. Using a Panamanian profanity seemed apt and less vulgar as the pain was sickening but knowing she had to endure it to get to the next higher bough. Which surely, she hoped, would give her enough of a view to look down the south side of the ridge into the next valley.

Ignoring the pain, she managed to traverse the tree's many boughs to get to her next high point. She found she was correct with her assumption. The tree she'd chosen to climb was on the very pinnacle and cusp of the ridge that rolled down the other side. She had an almost unobstructed view of around 180 degrees of the south ridge and valley. She settled with a leg either side of one thick mossy bough, and looked down to get her bearings. The jeep looked a mile away and was almost obscured by the thick foliage. Although she judged her height to be thirty to thirty five feet from the forest floor, it felt more like sixty.

Bones could hear, but not see, spider monkeys laughing at her pathetic height compared to them, but she took no notice, as something caught her eye ahead. She pulled out her binoculars, and focused the lenses. She could see smoke rising and drifting over the trees towards her, and there was a definite clearing. The trees weren't as large on this side of the ridge, and the tributary was visible as it ran parallel to her left, and into the Sambu. The parameters met hers, and she felt her heart pound in her chest with nervous anticipation.

Taking a compass bearing of the camp, she sat for a while watching the camp area.

As the monkeys rippled away and the heat soared, she watched the thunder clouds gather overhead. Its anvil head topped out at 33000 ft, and she knew this downpour brewing was going to be significant, plus an excellent cover for her reconnoitre later on. Another thing struck her as she watched, she could hear voices brought up on the gentle breeze along with the faintest scent of wood smoke. Straining to hear or distinguish the language being spoken, but alas she found it was impossible to distinguish. However the next sound was easily distinguished and made her jump, and her heart quake. It was the rolling crackle of short bursts of machine gun fire. She felt the colour drain from her cheeks and a chill run her spine.

Within seven minutes she was back down the tree, standing on the jeep's hood, and untying herself from her tether. She coiled up the blood stained rope, and stowed it. That nagging sense of foreboding was back, and tugging at her empty churning stomach.

Bones prepared herself all over again. She prudently turned the jeep around, and faced it down hill for a quick decent. She unpacked her rucksack but repacked it with; water, a Mini-Uzi and extra ammunition, and a flare. Lastly she put in two of the four grenades she had. In her leather waist belt she had her, do-all, penknife, semi handgun, and machete. She tied her hair back in a pony-tail, while she sat on the tailgate hanging her legs. Staring at her watch, she waited for the threatening storm to materialise.

As she watched the minutes tick by, she distracted herself with her unfinished memory from the last night...

(( 'Ok, you start...' he said, with a wry smile she could almost see. Bones matched it.

'I've not had phone sex before, I thought you might start, being more experienced,' she said confidently, but surprised by his reluctance to begin.

'More experience than what, you? I doubt it!'

Bones explained her logic, defending sweetly with, 'You started your sexual conquests at sixteen! Me a lot later...'

'Yeah, but you said you were good in bed, I just assumed...'

'I am, but I've only had six sexual partners. I assume you've...' she explained openly, Booth thought that an interesting snippet, and found her honesty compellingly evocative.

He interrupted, 'Arh. See? We're making too many assumptions. We're not basing that on fact or evidence, that's where we've been going wrong.'

'Haa. Ok. Fact one, the number of sexual partners bears no reflection to performance or skill. Two, you could be a wonderful lover but only had one partner. The reverse is also true; many partners, bad lover. Which one are you?'

'That's not for me to say, it's for others to judge,' he obfuscated humbly. Bones could hear the soft smile oozing though his statement, and felt her tingles multiply.

'Ex-cellent diversion, but similarly, revealing,' she said impressed, then went on with her logical understanding of his humble statement, 'One, you're either being coy and humble about your prowess. Or you're terrible and bluffing me with cocky belt buckles and seductive looks that hint at your sexual capabilities to satisfy. It is an anthropological fact the facial symmetry, physical strength, fitness and good proportion, i.e. alpha males, make better lovers.'

'You're saying I'm sexy and good looking?'

'Pretty much, yes. therefore, I must conclude, you're a good lover.'

'Aww. Thanks, Bones.'

'You're welcome.'

'Right, so, the same anthropological facts apply to alpha females, I suppose?'

'Of course, but I'm not an alpha female.'

'Phuh! On what planet? Of course you are! Otherwise your anthropological facts are crap. You're sexy as hell, your proportions are mouth-watering, and your face is symmetrical to the point of perfection. You are, Doctor Brennan, alpha female personified.'



'Touch yourself for me.'

'Ummm. Ok, whatever you want,' he purred, then said cutely, 'I'm quite skilled at that, familiar, you know?'

'Haa. I deduced you might be, like me,' she gave back just as honestly, then asked, feeling her centre lubricate lusciously, as she imagined him caressing himself, 'Tell me what you do, Booth, I'd like to know.'

Booth could hear the seductiveness of her tone and the anticipation tremble her question. He thought both utterly stimulating and motivating. 'Depends on my mood, sometimes I just grab my stiff cock and jerk hard and fast. Then just after I've come I squeeze my hood real tight, till it hurts a little, I like that... Or, times like this, when my mood is slow, I like it soft and gentle. I touch everywhere nice and slow, both hands, you understand?' He heard her hum to reply, and smiled to himself, knowing exactly where her hands were. He went on just as seductively, 'There's this little spot under my hood where my foreskin stretches tight that's really sensitive, I can just gently tickle that with my middle finger pad and, ooo, my toes curl, it feels sssoooh good. Bones.'

'Umm. It's called the fraenulum it's purported to be a sensitive as my clitoris...' She heard him rumble a sexy drone at her quietly spoken fact. 'You're doing that now, aren't you?'

'Yeah, feels great. Wish it was you doing it to me. I dream, fantasise about you doing that to me with your soft hands.'

Bones grinned, enjoying his frankness, so helped him along with his fantasy, 'I am... but with my wet, hot, soft tongue.'

'Oooh. That's so not fair, Bones. I wish, I wish...'

He paused as she interrupted his rising passion, while images of her mouth on him were running amok in his head, 'Close your eyes, Booth, lick your fingers and do that little strum over it. Feel the heat of my tongue there?'

'Umm. My balls are very hard and hot, Bones. Things are cooking...' Bones had her own stew coming to the boil, and smiled, as she squirmed on the sheet.

'Cup and lift them with your free hand, while I push my fingers inside me. I need you inside me, Booth.' She heard his purr at her statement. She thought for her first experience of phone sex this was going quite well, so added, 'We should've been braver and done this years ago.'

'Oh. Bones,' he sighed, agreeing with, 'I know, we are now. Tell me, are you wet?'

'Ex-tremely. Umm. You feel so wonderful moving inside me, stretching me wide.'

'How many fingers do you need?'

'One to start, to wake up everything then I usually concentrate on my clitoris. Like I'm doing now. Umm. It's swelling fast and sending heat everywhere, building tension. Are you tensing yet?'

'Oh. You've no idea, Bones. I could go off now if I want, but I'll wait for you. Forever, if need be.'

'Generous, I knew you were a generous lover,' she said breathily, strumming herself.

'I've dreamt about tasting you there. Would you like me to kiss you there?' he whispered secretively.

'Ooooh,' Bones crooned sultrily, throatily, slammed her eyes shut, and wriggled slowly on the sheet at his implied action. That scandalous image set her sparking.

'I guess that's a yes,' he said humorously, grinning, hearing her erotic moan.

'Don't make me laugh I'm concentrating.'

'On what?'

'Not climaxing, you're not ready, I'm waiting, wait-ating for you,' she smouldered.

Booth could hear her struggling to contain herself and finally made up his mind. Then he ordered desperately intense, losing his smile, 'Don't wait, Bones.'

Bones was panting moments away from what was inevitable, 'Don't you either then...'

Bones' bedroom door swung wide, making her head snatch up. Wordless, breathless and triumphant, she knew their cataclysmic moment of their discovery was close at hand.

With his melting chocolate eyes fixed on hers, Booth dropped his phone to the floor, and ripped the covers off her splayed legs. Then like a jaguar claiming its prey, he crawled between them so fast she only just managed to smile in welcome as he held open her thighs wide in each palm. Then he manically licked up from wet silky hole over her throbbing pip, over her belly, between her breasts, smearing her juice up her quivering heaving chest. Then kissed her as he aimed himself with his hand, then ploughed into her with his heavy pulsing cock. He kept his thrust going till he felt himself hit her deep sumptuous wet limit, and she was arched like an elegant flying buttress under him.

Bones snapped her arms around him, completely willingly possessed by him. She clung on as her world lit up with a kaleidoscope of vibrant sparkling colours and exquisite eruptions went off inside her, like fireworks against a charcoal night sky. Grabbing and crushing his thick girth with her grinding snatching thrusts, she raked down his flexed taut back with her nails to his granite hard buttocks.

She tore her gasping mouth from his to beg her insistence, 'With-me.' Booth thrust once more, denying her nothing, firing deep inside her maelstrom, adding to it, while he reclaimed his position inside her mouth again. He felt her pull him deeper with her palms on his buttocks, and squeeze her thighs against his hips, whimpering her bliss at feeling his hot ecstasy too... ))

Bones snapped open her eyes, and looked up as the rain dropped like lead rods from the coal tar sky overhead. Her eyes fluttered as the warm powerful jets of rain needled her bare flesh, and saturated her clothing in moments. The flash of retinal damaging lightning and the instantaneous boom of thunder made her jump, and fiercely signalled the time had come to pass.


Chapter XIII Reconnoitre

Tropical rainstorms in this region of Panama were regular and severe at this time of year. The volcanic isthmus that connected North with South America was so thin, the storms that were sucked up its eastern edge often drifted over the landmass into the Pacific on its western side. The huge dump of rain fed the tropical jungle and had created two distinct environments along its snaking length. The nearest section to Columbia consisted of swampy sponge-like mapped-less flat tracts, only passable by foot, canoe or flat bottomed boat. It was steeped in Cayman crocodile infested mangrove swamps; poisonous or crushing snakes, blood-sucking clouds of mosquito, and teeming with fish. The Panamanian section built slowly north and west, to a high spine of densely covered volcanic hills. Some of the volcanoes were still very active, others docile, and those were blanketed by steaming rainforest. These areas were collectively known as the infamous, Darien gap.

The Pan-American highway broke its near continuous line at its northern edge and restarted on its southern tip, as the Gap was so difficult to cross or build though. Only intrepid explorers attempted to cross it, many had done so over the centuries but many were never to emerge from the swamps alive. Because of the difficulties of living in this region only natives inhabited it. The Kuna and the Wounaan did, as their reserves fringed the outer, less dangerous volatile edges.

This place, one of the last true wildernesses' on the planet, was where Bones stood right now. With the swampy region at her back, and the spine of rainforest ahead, she stepped forwards and downwards to find her partner.

She made a quick descent of the first south facing hill, cutting through the trembling, seemingly crouching ferns that were being lashed by ridiculously hot rain. The lightning and thunder were her nearly constant companions and deafening. The violence of the storm drowned out birds, monkeys and any other creature who dared to call. The trees swayed under the rising wind and dropped dead leaves and seed pods like confetti around her as she made her way towards the camp.

The rod cells in her retinas had adjusted to the darkness and heightened her visual acuity now, so she took a compass reading. She realised she was already off track so made the necessary adjustment.

Climbing over fallen trees, and slashing through ferns with her machete was exhausting. Her lungs struggled to cope with the wet air she sucked in to power her muscles. It felt like she was drowning as her throat and lungs filled with excess moisture. She spat it away but they just refilled again. She slashed precisely and heavily to clear her path, then stopped when she saw movement ahead, and squatted. Narrowing her eyes to adjust her focus, she saw a fat tapering shape emerged from the gloom three metres away.

A huge anteater was taking advantage of a cathedral-like termite mound that was being softened by the torrential downpour. It was ripping the mud mound away in clumps, to get to the feast within, while its fur was thick with tormented drowning termites. It hadn't heard her approach because of the cacophony or didn't care, its instinct to eat was overriding, she thought. Edging around the massacre, she carried on her descent.

All at once there was an almightily crack of thunder and blinding flash, and she instinctually ducked to squat again. She heard the hit tree fall, and felt its impact a few hundred yards away through the thick soles of her boots. Impossibly, the rain fell even harder and smacked the top of her skull so hard, she raised a hand to protect it from the battering.

Eventually she came to the tributary course which was running and gurgling fast as it overflowed its shallow banks. Bits of wood and lush vegetation rushed passed her in the undulating flow. She was getting near and felt her heart rate rise yet again, as she followed the flow to her left, down hill, but kept it on her right.

She could hear a rushing sound, and knew the water was dropping over a cataract. Once she got to it, she stopped, and took another reading on her compass. She noted her hands shaking, as she squinted to read the direction in the semi darkness. Ducking it back in her pack, she knew she would come across the camp in a few hundred metres, so took off her sleeveless white t-shirt, and rubbed it in the rich earth made mud, to darken it. Then she smeared her arms face and neck with the mud too, hoping to camouflage herself a little. Then she put back on the t shirt and put away her machete.

She walked low, crouching and weaving her way forwards through the trees. Then all at once she found herself surrounded by chest high shrubs of neatly planted coca. Taking a sweeping look from right to left, she decided, right was right, and got down on all fours. She crawled, edging around the plantation till she reached the far side, where she could smell a fire, and could see the glow of it through the thick undergrowth. She began to crawl on her belly now towards the camp and clearing.

She could hear hearty male laughter, as the rain became less powerful but still fell. Finding an area to observe the camp, she settled behind a cativo tree's trunk, and took off her pack. With binoculars she scanned the former Wounaan enclosure.

There were three long huts in an open triangle formation with a fire pit in the middle. Over that was a carcass on a spit being roasted, and tended to by a weak looking native in blue shorts and red Manchester United soccer shirt. He was sitting on the ground crossed legged, and wasn't armed nor did he move, she noted.

Inside one of the long huts, that was directly ahead, warm amber light was spilling out of the narrow doorway, and she could see shadows moving about inside. The next long house nearest to her on her right was end on to her, the other on her left end on too.

Bones ducked lower as one pot bellied man came out of the middle hut with a machine gun looped over one shoulder, and stood facing the outer wall, and urinated up it. She watched as he walked over to the drenched small man by the fire with his back to her, and kicked his knee to wake him. He grunted a warning at him too, then smacked him around the head hard for his lethargy. The young man rocked with the slap, and began to turn the spit as ordered. The fat man pulled out a cigarette, and lit it with a storm lighter, and began to walk.

She watched on with her heart in her mouth as the fat man casually walked the perimeter of the camp, looking into the forest as he smoked his cigarette. As he neared the vicinity of her tree, she dropped her eyes, and lay as still as she could without breathing. It was absurd, she thought, her hands had stopped shaking and yet she could feel the sweat pour out of them to make the binoculars slip in her grasp. He walked on nonchalantly, seeing nothing, then stubbed his cigarette out in the mud with his heavy right boot.

Once he disappeared back into the long glowing hut, Bones crawled her way around the perimeter to see what else she could find. As she got to the rear of the first long hut she saw two jeeps covered by camouflaging ferns, they had barrels of liquid in the flat backs and they were lashed down. There was an old, mud splattered, trial motorbike next to them with a machine gun strung over the handle bars just dangling free. She judged, that as for a quick escape or chase, or possibly these traffickers were a little sloppy and weren't expecting trouble.

Bones was made curious by what might be inside the long huts, so stood up and with her back against the wet mud wall, and edge her way around the side to take a look inside the first one. She pulled out her semi, and took off the safety. She glanced around the corner, found it unattended, and slipped inside.

She took a glance around, and realised this was their storage hut with the accoutrements to dry and purify the coca leaves. The long room was stacked high with barrels of chemicals and fertilizer at one end, next to those was a set of five wooden crates. She walked over to one, and lifted the lid. Inside were plastic wrapped one kilo packs of pure cocaine ready for shipment. She picked one out, and secured it in her belt at the small of her back, and closed the lid. Evidence, she thought.

Then she stealthily left the building, and made for the next glowing one. The rain was easing and the storm passing over, but it was still heavy and portentous she felt, with maddeningly no sign of Booth. She thought that maybe this wasn't the gang that had perpetrated the crime, and she had to search somewhere else.

Bravely she edged closer to the wall of the long hut, and listened. She could hear the relaxed laughter of at least five men. They were playing a game of some sorts and drinking. They were speaking Spanish and she tried to pick out some words through the noisy rain. She looked around, and saw a discarded blue plastic crate, so retrieved it, put it against the wall, and climbed up on it. She peered under the raised thatches, and observed the men sitting around a table on chairs. There were seven men in actuality. She counted six handguns and three more machine guns. A coil of razor wire and a wooden box, that she presumed was ammunition. Dark rum was being liberally poured into beakers and drunk with abandon. Cigar smoke filled the long room and they were lit by three spot lights on a tripod via a small chuntering generator in the corner. There was a table with a radio on it which crackled and hissed, obviously their means of contact to the outside world and their boss. Then to her astonishment she spied a bright yellow satellite phone next to it. A prime item to steal, she thought. Finally, she noted, they had stores a plenty and were set up for the next harvest.

One of the young men got up after losing his hand of poker, and walked out of the building, after saying he was going to see if the meat was ready.

A few minutes later she witnessed the applause and thud of hot meat being placed on their table. Knowing they would be distracted by eating, she made her way over to the last long hut. She took the plastic bottle crate with her, and peered into this hut under the eaves again. What she saw almost tipped her off the crate as her knees weakened.

There was a fusion of two emotion rifling through her; rage and withering pity. The room was full of sleeping stinking people. They had nothing to sleep on except the rain dampened, urine soaked earth. Seven men in total, all either Kuna or Wounaan. They were being guarded by a single pistol attached to a grey haired, wispy unkempt bearded man of around fifty years old. He was profoundly wrinkled and sat slumped on a stool, leaning his head on the wall dozing, with a battered sweat stained fedora cocked over his eyes.

Bones ducked down as one of the men from the other hut came in with a plate full of meat to share between them all. But she dared to look again as he kicked the sleeping man's stool to wake him, then handed the platter to him to share out. They had a brief conversation, then he left as the forlorn looking slaves woke, and sat up for their meagre fatty ration.

Bones felt her ire raging her blood for their plight. Although she hadn't found Booth, she was immediately determined to free the poor wretches. Suddenly she heard footfalls to her right. She jumped down off the crate, and quickly ran to the narrow end of the oblong hut, then squatted down low with her back against the end of the hut. Keeping her gun cocked, while holding her breath, as she expected the man to walk around the end and discover her. Terror and panic infused her straining taut muscles as she aimed her gun ready to fire, with her eyes trained on the corner of the building. She knew though if she fired a shot off, she would give away her presence to the others and all hell would break loose. So she gently eased out her machete from its scabbard instead. One slash to the throat, she thought, gritting her teeth.

Hearing the man peeing up the wall where she'd been, she feared he would suspect something with the crate being there. But after three heart stopping minutes, she heard him kick it out of his way, and saw it tumble into the trees beyond, and him squelch away in the opposite direction.

Bones let go her tension by sagging, and closed her eyes, facing forwards now. As she lifted her eyes, and opened them, they began to pour with tears and her chest crushed hard against her lungs, making it hard for her to breathe.

Against a tree ahead of her, three meters away, was what looked like a crucified man. He wore only a sleeveless white t-shirt and cotton boxers, both of which were heavily blood stained. His arms were above his head with his outwards facing palms together, and crossed. They'd been impaled by a splintered wooden stake through his life lines. It was clear that he'd given up the struggle to stand in his prolonged agony, and was on his knees which were bound tight, as were his ankles. He was lashed around the waist by a thick blood stained rope, which held him tight to the rough trunk. His head was bowed to the right, and the rain poured over his pathetic motionless figure. He had lacerations everywhere and was covered in raised welts from head to toe. He'd clearly been pistol whipped and tortured, Bones surmised. The smell of urine and faeces was evident in the air around him. And it was clear he'd been like this for some days to rot, and ultimately die either from predation or starvation and pain.

The last time she'd seen this formally beautiful man was when he was strong, vibrant, and full of life in her arms, in her bed, as they made love together. Now he was torn, beaten, and a fading shadow of that glorious memory. The crushing sensation in her chest, emptied her lungs and sent a searing pain around her chest to her spine.

Sniffing her tears away, Bones slowly crawled on all fours to him. Her petrified hand quivered as she checked for a pulse on his neck. As she did he jolted, terrified, and snapped his blood shot eyes open, obviously fearing another beating. Bones put her trembling fingers flat to his swollen lips gently, and shook her head for him to keep silent, as relief tore through her which allowed her to breathe again.

He wasn't dead yet, she'd found him and knew she had to free him, and right now.

Staring into one another's eyes, she didn't think he recognised her at first, or believed what he was seeing. 'It's me. Bones,' she whispered in his ear to confirm. 'Your Bones... Prepare yourself, my love,' she said, hearing her voice wavering. 'I'll be back to free you soon.' Booth nodded, barely, but rested his head against hers in a loaded gesture of love, relief, awe and fear.

Bones felt her eyes pour like the clouds again, as she scurried away like a rat behind the crucifying tree, and made back to her pack. While her churning mind created a devastating rescue plan, she heard the rapid thud, thud-thud of her heartbeat in her ears, and felt that life force in every taut sinew.


Chapter XIV Sabotage

Bones' lungs were rasping as she rushed to her pack, and got out her grenades and shoved them in her leg pockets. Then she made for the jeeps again with much less caution than before, time being of the essence now. She scurried under the hood of one on her back, pushing a puddle of mud back with her tensed shoulders, and pulled out her pen knife. Fingering out the brake cable, she severed it, and its contents poured out onto the ground. Rushing under the next jeep, she did the same there too. Then she lifted up the camouflaging ferns to heave out the tank of spare diesel from the back. It was extremely heavy and in any other normal circumstances she wouldn't have been able to lift it alone. But in her heightened adrenalin-pumped state, her body was quadrupled in strength. She dragged it back around the long hut to the trial bike. She stopped by it, to snap out the magazine from the hanging machine gun, and tossed that into the dark forest with a muffled grunt.

Unscrewing the cap on the diesel tank, she walked backwards, dragging, and tipping a continuous line of liquid around the long hut, and then went inside it. She splashed it around the crates and barrels of their storeroom with abandon.

Setting this long hut alight was to be her diversion, she thought, and made sure everything was dowsed with the pungent flammable liquid.

Bones then made a circle of diesel from that long hut back to the far one with all the slave workers in it. The crescent she was making was to be a protective ring of fire to thwart the traffickers, and hopefully stall them for a while as they made their escape. The tank was virtually empty by the time she got to it but she reserved some deliberately.

With her back up against its wall, she paused to take stock of her plan, and mentally prepare herself for her next critical step. Recalling a conversation she'd had with her beloved partner a long time ago; her heart rose up and got fierce.

Taking a deep breath, setting her jaw in ice cold steel, losing all human empathy with a blink of her eyes, she rolled around the end wall, and rushed in straight to where the bearded man sat on his stool by the doorway. He looked up from his plate, stunned to see a sinew tight, feral woman caked in mud. Before he could raise his gun or shout a warning, Bones slapped her palm over his mouth, the other around his neck, and made one short, sharp twist, snapping his neck with a lethal crack of vertebrae. Killing him silently and terrifyingly quickly, she felt elation surge then nausea which was quickly forcibly replaced with equanimity.

Bones began to speak Spanish to the horrified, yet relieved men. She told them to keep quiet, as she snapped out her semi, and pointed it at them. They complied instantly, scared of her, as she continued in Spanish, 'One by one, go out into the forest, in different directions and travel alone. That will be your best chance of escape. You,' she said authoritatively, pointing at the young man that had been turning the spit. 'Go, now.' He stood up instantly, and peered wide eyed around the door with her; seeing his route clear, he ran to freedom.

Bones watched him scuttle away through the trees, and disappear into the storm and menacing forest. The atmosphere and tension in the hut thickened as she called each man forward, while checking they were still undiscovered. She patted the next man's back to signal it was safe to go. Bones continued to orchestrate their escapes till the last man stood beside her, shaking with terror filled eyes. She reached down to the pistol that had dropped from their guard's hand, and handed it too him, with a reassuring smile. He took it in his trembling hand, and straightened his back, emboldened by the added protection of the firearm. 'Go,' she said for the last time.

Instantly she tipped the dead man off the chair, and removed his heavy boots, then his pants and jacket at a frantic pace. With her heart pounding against her rib cage, she propped the half naked man back up on his foot high stool. Then she tipped his hat back over his face to make it seem like he was asleep.

Bones then ducked out of the long hut, ran around the back of it towards Booth. She saw his eyes widen with hope and relief that he wasn't dreaming about her coming to rescue him. She scrambled to him, giving him a huge, cheek twitching smile, as she whipped out her penknife again, and selected the appropriate blade. She began cutting through the ropes he was bound with on his ankles first. 'Once you're free put on the clothes. We've got a bit of a climb ahead, I'm afraid. I've got to get their satellite phone so that long house is going to be our distraction.' She gestured with her head in its direction. 'Wait for me here.' Booth nodded, understanding, and tried to speak but unable to. She smiled again, and kissed his brow quickly, while cutting through the knee restraints. 'Shhh. It's going to be ok, Booth. I'll be ok,' she said, seeing the concern in his eyes, then asked, 'Have you ever taken cocaine?' she enquired, while cutting through the very thick rope around his waist. Not bothering with the penknife, she pulled out her machete, and severed it in with one blow against the tree trunk, then stashed it again.

Booth looked perplexed, and shook his head, searching her eyes for an explanation. 'I'm going to give you some, it will take your pain away and give you the stimulus to make the climb.' She pulled out the kilo of cocaine from her pants, and punctured the pack with her knife. Then she scooped out some on the blade, and held it under his nostril. He looked panicked but she smiled, and whispered reassuringly, 'Sniff it up really hard.' She saw him breathe out, deflating his chest, then sniffed the powder up his nose as instructed. She pinched his nose, and wiggled it. 'Don't get used to it, this is purely medicinal,' she said cheekily, trying to lighten the severity of their predicament. Then she gathered another scoop on the blade, and held it to his other nostril. 'Again, Darling. Once more...' Booth struggled not to cough, but did as instructed. She wiggled his nose again, then licked her finger, plunging it into the powder, and rubbed some along her gums, while they never lost eye contact. 'Umm. Good stuff,' she said darkly humorous, flaring her eyes. Booth attempted a grin, as he did, she rubbed some on his gums too, much to his surprise. Then he watched as her comforting smile dissipated in the rivers of rain and tears that were still trickling down her compassionate face.

'I've got to free your hands now... It's going to be agony, Darling. I'm sorry, so sorry. You can't cry out, not a sound.' She held his head in her hands, her eyes bleeding for what she knew he had to endure now. Booth nodded fast, and grit his jaw valiantly. She slid her hands carefully, slowly up his lacerated arms to his palms, giving him time to prepare. She held his gaze, and counted slowly, 'One, two, three.' Then she pulled viciously hard at his hands. He jarred against her, and clamped his teeth shut on her shoulder to stifle his agonising cry. Bones bit her lip, held the stake in her fist, and his hands in the other, and wrenched outwards again. She felt his body quake again, and he bit harder into her flesh, whimpering like a gagged child. And still he wasn't free.

'Sorry, sorry. This time, this time, breathe deep,' she encouraged, fearful it was too much for him to bear and he might pass out or worse if she didn't get this right. Then with all her might she pulled again. He fell on her as his arms dropped free, and whimpered again, panting on her shoulder now. She threw the stake away, then held him around his waist, rocking him gently to comfort. 'Well done, well done, you're free, so brave,' she whispered. She looked at his punctured, torn palms with trauma. Rubbing his biceps and forearms now to bring back the feeling and blood to them, she whispered again, 'Two more minutes and the cocaine will start to work.'

'It's wer, working,' he mumbled, sensing a peculiar light-headedness. Bones snapped her eyes back to his, delirious that he could speak.

'Good, that's good. Can you dress yourself?' Booth nodded, and began to reach for the jacket she'd stolen. 'Here, have this gun, I have another. I've got to get my pack and then we're out of here, ok?' She beamed a smile at him, as he gingerly pulled on the dead man's pants. She could see him grimacing as his hands trembled, while his muscles were coming back to life. 'Booth, if anything happens to me, head north over that ridge then west, in that direction. There's a jeep with food, water and a map there.' She pointed in the direction of freedom.

'I'll not leave you,' he insisted courageously, with his own tears draining down his face. She kissed him hard and fast on his split lips for his determination, but knowing he could do little to assist her in his condition. However his sentiment was noble and humbling, hence she couldn't help the kiss of gratitude.

'Cover me then, but wait here. Everything is gonna go, boom-fuck-a-bang-bang...' with that and a flaring smile, she ran off again, tipping diesel as she went to complete her circle. Bewildered by her odd statement and a little amused, he watched enthralled as she disappeared into the forest to make her way back to her pack.

Booth was lacing his boots up, when he spotted her skulking on the other side of the compound. The cocaine she'd administered was in full swing in his bloodstream and the pain in his palms was numbed but still felt. He felt pitifully weak but his heart palpitated with adrenalin and made him twitch.

Once clothed, he crawled to the edge of the hut, then laid down on his stomach, and waited. He saw her flash between the far long house and the one filled with his captors, then reappear at the far end of it. He watched on intrigued, panting slightly as she knelt, and he saw the flash of sparks from her hands. Then suddenly flames raced around the back of the long hut behind her, then lit up everything as the continuous line of flames tore like lightning to the far storehouse. There were a few moments of crackling then an ominous silence before the huge boom woke the jungle and drowned out the storm.

The apocalyptic blast, as the diesel ignited the barrels with in it, tossed the 40 gallon drums of chemicals forty foot into the air like popping champagne corks. 360 degrees of the forest rocked back in protest and complete shock. While the 100ft high fireball blew off the thatched roof, split apart the structure, and ignited the roof of the one next to it.

Booth felt the shockwave hit and sting his face. He ducked his face down into the mud, and covered his head to protect it from falling objects. The spinning chunks of flaming wood, mud bricks, coupled with a mushroom cloud of pure powdered cocaine, created a maelstrom of highly-priced flying debris. The cacophony was so loud it made his ears ring, and his temperature rise, and injected his muscles with more adrenalin charged blood.

The men appeared at the entrance of the partly flaming long hut, and ducked instantly as the barrels rained down in the forest, while a couple thudded to the ground in the centre of the compound.

Bones counted out six confused men, before she edged along the wall behind them. Booth wanted to warn her not to go in yet as all they had to do was turn, and they would see her twelve feet away. The men started yelling and running around in the commotion, so Bones took the risky move and ran into the hut with her gun aimed at arms length, and disappeared.

It was clear to the traffickers this was sabotage and not a lightening bolt, as the ring of fire around the compound was clearly intended obstruction to their escape.

Booth heard a shot from inside the long house, and his heart quaked, willing her to emerge alive. The men scattered to take cover too, hearing the shot behind them. The fire raged and more barrels hurtled into the air. They split apart like stubby banana skins, sending twirling lethal shrapnel tearing through the sky and whistling over everyone's heads. One triangular razor sharp piece imbedded itself in the mud house wall next to him, and hissed as it was cooled by the still failing rain.

Bones grabbed the yellow phone off the table, then stood on it, and jumped to grab the upper wall, then scrambled with her feet up the wall for leverage. She stole under the gap between the thatch and wall. She just got over when there was a crackle of machine gun fire aimed at her feet from behind, so dropped to the ground eight feet below with a thud. Then she started to run towards Booth's position.

The man ran back out of the hut, and began firing in her direction with his machine gun. Booth fired his hand gun but his shots missed him by several meters in his shaking aim, taking chucks of brick out of the wall behind him. He needn't have worried. Booth saw Bones drop to the ground, roll onto her stomach, aim two handed, and fire one shot with perfect precision to hit him between the eyes with some aplomb, all completed in the space of two seconds. Booth gasped in jaw dropping amazement, thinking he couldn't have done better even when fully fit. The man splashed back flat into the puddles, his grey matter splattering the ground before he did.

In all the blinding commotion, Booth lost track of her position, then he heard, 'Booth! Here!' from behind him as WWIII was kicking off.

The screaming of machine gun fire and the whistling bullets traced through the rain and into the forest around them. Booth crawled towards her like a rattlesnake, keeping low to avoid getting shot, as she waved him closer. Then, 'Run!' she commanded, looping her wing around his torso as they headed up the ridge, tossing a lighted flare between them and their pursuers. It billowed blinding light and smoke to screen their direction of escape.

'Jeeps! Get the jeeps! They got him!' she heard ordered in Spanish from behind, while she heaved Booth back through the plantation.

The gun fire stopped following them, and she knew they didn't have long to get into the thick cover of the forest, as the jeeps could easily catch them up. 'Faster, Booth,' she encouraged, stretching every ligament to help him begin the ascent of the slippery inclined forest floor. His physical weakness was so severe it felt like she was carrying him up, so she got angry. 'For fuck sake, Ranger, move!' Booth groaned, and quickened his pace as ordered, while the wet foliaged slashed at their arms and faces. 'That's it, come on, this way...' Bones' eyes burned as did her muscles, seeing him gritting his agony and fatigue away. His face was contorted and almost unrecognisable from the facial beating he'd taken.

'I'm so weak,' he muttered. 'Sorry...'

'I know, just a little further,' she softened her tone, her heart aching for him, but knowing they had a long way to go yet so needed to be fierce with him. She could hear the jeeps revving up the hill behind them, and knocking down saplings and tires spinning in the sodden ground. She hoped the jeeps wouldn't be able to get up the steep soft banks, and cursed the invention of the 4x4 now.

Then in Spanish she heard, 'Split up!' and saw the beams of the head lights flicker through the trees beside them on the right. Bones pushed Booth to the ground, and rolled herself over him. Grabbing her semi from her hip, she lay still, trying disparately to calm her breathing. Only then did she feel the twinge of pain in her pumped bicep where a bullet had grazed her flesh.

The warm trickle of crimson blood seeped slowly down her arm, and caught Booth's eye. 'You're hit,' he said aghast.

'Flesh wound, nothing,' she whispered pithily, dismissing it for what it was, without a hint of melodrama.

One of the jeeps cut through the trees from her left to right behind them, and powered up the hill not spotting them. The other went in the opposite direction in manic search of them.

Bones rolled off him, and grabbed his jacket at the shoulder to haul him up, ordering, 'On your feet, Booth.' He grunted as he stood, and they began to ascend again. With both their hearts pounding their limit and limbs scrambling, they breathed in painful unison.

The explosions continued behind them as more chemicals expanded and blew apart their containing barrels. The sulphur yellow light from the firestorm behind lit up the low leaden cloud base above them and imbued the forest with a eerie glow.

'Over there! There!' she heard, and snatched a mortified breath as headlights picked them out, and the machine gun firing started up again in earnest.

Sensing their mortal peril, Booth said, 'We're not gonna make it. Leave me,' a plea for her to save herself. Bones threw him down to the ground again but stayed on her feet. She took out a grenade from her pocket, ripped the pin out, and threw it high and away as far as she could in the jeep's direction.

Dropping over him again, the grenade went off like napalm, the spreading blast ripped bark from the trees and sent a cascade of flaming splintered shards in all directions. They heard screams of traumatic pain and the loud satisfying crunch of metal as the jeep careered into an immovable object.

One down, she thought.

Bones was tugging him up again, and scrambling up the waterlogged ground. Three steps up and two back it felt like to her, then to her elation she saw the ruined raided termite mound, and instinctually went right, reversing her earlier decent. Ignoring his almost defeat, she buoyed him with, 'Three hundred yards, Booth, that's all. Let's go.' As she said that, she heard the trial bike weaving its way through the trees effortlessly, and glanced around to try and see how far away it was. It was too close for comfort, and more action was needed, she realised.

Feeling his exhaustion peak, Booth stumbled, and went down on all fours. 'Stay down,' she commanded, then pulled her pack around her body. Ripping out her Uzi-Pro, she flicked off the safety, then fired off three concentrated blasts in the bike's headlight direction. The engine screamed loud and shot passed them without its rider. It crashed into a tree, upending against it, then slide down a little, its front wheel buckled and engine steamed as the rain hit it.

Two, she thought, and yet again hauled her partner up.

'Just-over-this-bit,' she groaned with her own fatigue now, panting severely. She couldn't hear the other jeep or see its lights now, and felt some relief. However she knew with the grenade explosion they would retrace their steps quickly, so they didn't have much time.

'Bones, I'm done,' he just managed to say, as he collapsed to his knees beside her again, squelching in the mulch.

'Oooh, Booth, we're so close. Twenty yards, look, can you see it, my jeep?' she pointed, looping her arm around his torso, as she dragged him to his feet, and virtually carried him to it. Booth trailed his boots, having nothing left, and started to drift out of consciousness.

With her last ounce of strength and fortitude, she opened the rear door, and shoved him onto the back seat. She strapped his legs with the seat belt, and plugged it in, then ran around the other side, and secured his torso too. Slamming the doors, throwing her pack in the foot well, she jumped into the driver's side, and turned on the engine. The engine roared to life, just as it was accompanied by gun fire and the screaming revs of the second jeep with its penetrating full beam headlights lighting them up. Bones ducked, put it into gear, and slammed her boot to the floor.

The chase downhill was manic, rib crushing and organ shifting, with the massive bumps and crunches as she hurtled straight down as fast as the jeep would go. Her blistered hands spun the steering wheel this way and that to avoid the trees and larger shrubs. The almost pitch dark was disorientating, and with the vehicle tossing like a ship in a force nine gale, made her nauseous and gave whiplash. The constant ack, ack of the machine gun kept her head low, while she concentrated on not hitting anything life threatening. Bullets whistled passed her head while some tonk-ed loudly as they pierced the jeeps casing and lodged in the teak canoe by her head. Splinters of bark sprayed her face and arms as their bullets missed their targets and hit the trees that she steered tight around. If they didn't perish from the kamikaze ride, a bullet was bound to end her, she thought.

Then suddenly she heard a heartening thud, and glanced back over her shoulder to her left. The chasing last jeep had flanked a tree too tightly and rolled over, spilling the groaning occupants out like floppy marionettes. Clearly they were unable to brake and steer around it, she realised with ascending relief.

An explosion of triumph and jubilation infused her body, as she flicked on their headlights now, and slowed down to traverse the hillside at a more sedate racing pace.

Bones drove on for another hour through the jungle. She put as much distance between the demolished compound and them as possible, before she stopped, unable to drive anymore.


Chapter XV The Darien Gap

Bones rolled out of the jeep's door and her legs gave way, flopping her to the cool forest floor with hefty thump. She lay still, uncaring that she was face down in the mud, until she heard Booth groan. She blinked her eyes open, drawing her knees up, and rolled to kneel painfully. She crawled slowly on all fours to the door, and swung it open. Booth's eyes rolled, as she placed a calming palm on his cheek to comfort him. 'I'm here,' she whispered in his ear. 'We're safe for now.' Rubbing her brow gently against his in a hugely affectionate, empathetic gesture, she stroked his stubbly jaw.

'So much pain,' he murmured, sounding distant to her although she was inches away from him.

'Ok,' she said, pulling herself up to stand. Staggering around the jeep to the steel box, she got out her medical kit, a bottle of water, and a ration pack. Putting those items in the foot well beside him, she lifted up his torso, careful not to jostle him anymore than she had too, and sat in the back seat with him. Easing him back to lay on her torso, she placed the medical kit on his stomach, and prepared him a syringe full of morphine in her trembling, lacerated hands. She opened the jacket he wore, and injected his arm with the soothing liquid. Then she prepared another syringe of antibiotic, and injected that. She ripped open the ration pack, and got out the fruit pulp adding it to the litre of water, then dribbled it into his mouth. 'Here you go, Booth. Drink this, you need to drink, you're dehydrated.' He nodded on her chest a little, and gulped down the sweetened water. She watched as he swallowed thirstily, and attempted to help himself by rising his punctured hand to the bottle. She saw the gaping mangled hole, and felt her eyes leak again. 'I'll hold it. I've got it, my love,' she eased, feeling him shiver to relax in her tender embrace. 'You can sleep now, just sleep,' she instructed, woefully weak herself. She poured more water into him at regular intervals till he indeed fell to sleep. She drank the remainder, closed her eyes, and finally slept too.


Bones stood naked in the fresh cool water up to her midriff, with a broken, half dead man she loved in her arms. His wretched condition paled in comparison to what she had thought was him two nights ago. A half dead Booth was greatly superior to a fully dead Booth, she rejoiced internally. Although she felt the tragedy of his pitiful state, her heart was beating again strongly because he was alive. It only felt this strong when she was near him, she'd always noted.

The beautiful man in her loving arms was emaciated. His normally firm powerful physique lacked any tension or beauty now. After a minimum of five days without food or little water and suffering such life sapping daytime heat with the torture he'd endured, it didn't surprise her to find him like this. He lay motionless, with his arms floating flat outstretched on the surface of the water, like a crucified soul.

Booth stirred awake, feeling something deliciously cool rippling over his floating body. He flickered open his eyes, and focused them. His partner was holding him gently by her supporting arms under his back. She was half submerged in sparkling crystal clear, gently flowing water, and her body was haloed by the sun at its apex. Her shadow shaded his eyes from its glare and heat.

'Morning,' she said softly, smiling at him. 'You slept for twelve hours straight.' He smiled back as strongly as he could muster, and flicked his eyes around trying to understand where he was. 'Relax, Booth. I've brought you into the river to bathe you.' He looked back into her, and felt his eyes sting with moved tears. He clearly recalled what a state he had been in. He had soiled, and urinated on himself and must have smelt like a sewer, all of which she was unfazed by. His shame was usurped by his adoration of her miraculous valiant rescue of him. He rolled, weeping into her naked soft body, unsettling their equilibrium. She staggered slightly, and hugged him back to comfort.

'You came all this way, found me, saved me... I thought I was going to die staked to that tree, never see you or Parker again...' he rambled, overwhelmed by her epic bravery but confused as to how she knew where he was left to die.

'Shh. We can talk later. First things first. Let me bathe you and tend to your wounds. You've lost so much weight and you're still dangerously dehydrated.' Bones smiled warmly, which tweaked her healing abrasions. Some of which were covered up by new ones, and had multiplied across her tanned skin.

Booth lifted a hand to her battered face, and touched her cheek gently. 'You're hurt. Oooh. Bones...' he whimpered, distraught by injuries to her beautiful face. Then he saw his own palm, and recoiled, it was festering and smelt abhorrent. Bones lost her smile, sensing his horror and disgust, and pushed his hand back in the water to hide it from him.

'Don't look. I can fix it... Please, Booth, don't distress yourself. Lay back, float again, I've got you...' He did as instructed, having little energy for anything else, but stared into sparkling blue eyes that were ringed with dark shadows. She asked, 'Are you in any pain?' He shook his head gently, hearing her muffled as his ears were submerged. 'Good. I've pumped you full of morphine.'

She began washing him thoroughly from hair to toe, as if he was a precious helpless baby. The soap suds cleansed away the caked on dried blood, mud, and washed away the stuck on excrement and his pungent body odour downstream. Her hands and fingers were diligent and tender and she left no crevasse untouched or cleansed.

'It hurts to pee, Bones,' he told her softly. She nodded, flicking his woeful eyes a glance. She understood why, they'd obviously kicked him repeatedly there and he was swollen and bruised. In fact, she noted, there wasn't an un-bruised patch of skin that she'd found on him yet.

'I don't doubt it. You're swollen, but your genitalia will recover in a few days. Urinate in the water if you need to,' she instructed nonchalantly, assuming the relaxing effects of the water had given him the impulse to urinate, and prompted his statement.

'Is it safe? I don't want one of those little fish to swim up my cock.'

'Haa,' she laughed softly. 'The candiru story is a myth, Booth and inhabits the Amazon River. It's safe here, trust me.'

'Where is here?' he asked, as he drained his bladder with a slight grimace.

'The Darien gap. Wounaan territory... Feel better?' He nodded again feeling extremely dozy again. 'Can you walk out to the camp, or do you want me to drive you back?'

Booth settled his feet to the river bed, while she held him close still, feeling his grave fragility. He looked over his shoulder, to see she'd reversed the jeep into the water quite some way, so she could roll him into it easily. Impressed with her ingenuity, he smiled at her. 'You're incredible,' he whispered, looking over her expression.

'You're easily impressed. Wait till you see the camp I've set up for us. Even I surprised myself with my abilities. You sit on the tail gate while I bathe now.' She walked with him, still holding him up, as he made slow progress out of the water. She assisted him onto the back of the jeep. Once he was settled, she walked back into the water, and ducked under with her back to him. He watched transfixed, as she rose up, and her soft hair hung down between her shoulder blades, and she began to bathe.

The next thing he recalled was being urged to lay down on a fragrant soft bed, and fluttered his blurring eyes open. Bones looked extremely concerned and was covering him with a navy blue, silky soft, opened out sleeping bag. He heard words come from her moving lips but didn't understand why they sounded disjointed. So he tried to concentrate on her lips moving. Words such as; fit, drink, septic, temperature, shock, all entered his ears but went nowhere. Then she was holding his head up, and pouring sweetened water down his throat again. She was rushing about and injecting him again, then a dark blanket slipped over his eyes, then nothing mattered.


Bones heard Booth groan and roll over on the bed she had made which was three foot off the ground. She looked over her shoulder, to see him wake and trying to sit up, clearly agitated. She went to him immediately.

'What's wrong?' she asked, concerned, helping him to sit up.

'Pee, gotta pee,' he mumbled, still trying to focus. Bones picked up the empty water bottle beside him for just this purpose, and held his penis to the rim.

'Ok. Pee, Booth.' She saw the relaxation trickle out of him as he filled the bottle till almost half. She was delighted because it meant his kidneys were working better, and the blood that had been in his urine was no longer evident. She screwed the bottle cap on, and sat on her haunches as he finally focused on her. She grinned hard at him. 'Ten hours straight this time,' she said, plainly proud of him for sleeping that long.

He smiled back, albeit weakly, but it was a definite smile, she mused. 'I'm hungry,' he said with a raspy throat. He coughed feebly, then looked at his palms, which were now bandaged in excellent field dressings.

'That's a great sign. I've got beef casserole or chill con carne. You choose.' Booth grinned, and went to reply. But she laughed softly, reading his mind instantly. 'Beef it is then.' He grinned even wider, adoring the fact that she knew him that well. She patted his thighs, as she stood, then went to bring over the billycan. She talked to him as he looked around the camp she'd fashioned out of the jungle.

'I've been very busy while you slept...' she said, egoless. That much was blatantly obvious to him.

The bed she'd constructed was big, easily a double, he judged, covered with flexible wooden poles to support their weight and that was covered with a thick layer of large trimmed ferns, then covered with another layer of thick spongy moss gathered from the surrounding trees branches. On top of that was her flattened out hammock, then over that her sleeping bag. They even had pillows. The inspired bed was enclosed on three sides by a nifty pyramid-shaped canopy. The framework was of thatched palm leaves and topped with moss, to keep off the rain and shaded its occupants during the heat of the day. He saw a machine gun hung at the back of the cave-like space, and in the thatching over his head hung a small torch. Over the canopy was a mosquito net and could be dropped down over the open front of the bed, which faced the camp fire. The camp fire, which was large, had a small canopy too, to protect from any downpours. It was surrounded by flat rocks to stop it encroaching anywhere else. Under the bed she had a stash of cut, cleaned and piled logs to add to it when required. The jeep was beyond the fire, and camouflaged with yet more fern and palms in a lattice for easy removal. She had a string of drying washing, strung between two trees to his right, which were loaded with; socks, two pairs of pants, strips of material, which he assumed she'd used for makeshift bandages, t-shirts and underwear. He thought that remarkably she looked just as comfortable in this primal jungle as she did in her ultra modern technology filled lab.

'When I next go camping... you're definitely coming with me,' he said, in absolute awe of the homely enclave she'd conjured out of the forest like a sorceress. He heard her chuckle softly, and watched her turn to bring over the billycan and two forks. Booth then noted he was naked, but she wore a sleeveless fitted t-shirt that just reached her navel. Then there was a tantalizing three inch gap of flesh between that and a pair of white cotton boy knickers. Heavy, well worn boots adorned her feet and he noted she smelt deliciously fragrant. Her bicep flesh wound was neatly sterri stripped together and he could just see the bruising starting to come out around it. She sat next to him happily, and handed him a fork with a sweet captivating smile.

'Deal... It's amazing what you remember from reading survival books, some common sense, and a little trial and error. Tuck in, Booth,' she urged, looking into his astonished wide eyes.

Booth began to tuck in as directed, feeling his stomach ache with hunger. He sighed as the first solid food went into his mouth for a week, and he chewed slowly, savouring the rich flavour and texture. She began to eat too, and told him casually, 'Your hands should feel better. I reset a few metacarpals, took out the splinters, cleaned and stitched them as best I can. The infection is reducing but you must be careful to keep them clean and as dry as possible. After I bathed you in the river you passed out and started fitting. That was a frightening moment,' she said, chewing her mouthful, then went on, 'Your palms were so infected and in your weakened condition... well...' she stopped recounting that episode, not wanting to repeat it to him or tell him how scared she'd been. She had thought that he may have full blown septicaemia and he would die after all her efforts.

He nodded, taking another tasty satisfying mouthful. He noted his hands did feel better but tweaked painfully when he curled his hand to scoop out from the billycan.

She saw him nod, but also the discomfort slither across his eyes, and sympathised, 'Another few days, Booth, and you'll feel a lot stronger. Then, when you're feeling better we should head back. We have to pick up Kopinski. He's with the Kuna tribe we encountered after the plane crash,' she explained. In her euphoric state for having him lucid, safe and healing, she'd forgotten he knew nothing about that. She stopped chewing as she felt his hand on her forearm. Bones sighed, and looked into his terror strewn eyes, realising her mistake. She knew she had to explain but wanted him to eat first.

'I'll explain all about it later when the rain comes,' she said, trying to sound flippant about her ordeal. 'Please eat up, Booth, you really need to eat and get your strength back,' she insisted. Then handing him control of the can, she went to the fire again. She poured water into another can, and tipped in porridge oats with plenty of sugar, quirking her lips in a grimace for her error.

Booth was silent behind her, she could feel the anguish coming off him in waves, while his mind spun with what she had inadvertently divulged. She carried on talking, while she prepared their dessert, trying to sound as normal as possible, 'Porridge for afters with lots of sugar, and a nice hot cup of coca tea, known locally as mate. I'm out of bottled water but have strained and boiled plenty of river water, and stored it the chest in the jeep. We've enough food for four more days. That's at double rations to build you up. After that we have to fish or trap our own. I found a few fruit trees around; banana, mango and limes. They're on top of the bed canopy.' She turned, and pointed to the stash above his head.

Bones got up, and walked over to him, then reached up the top of the canopy to retrieve the bananas. She caught his mortified expression, and swallowed, seeing his tears of humility. 'Banana porridge sound great, don't you think?' she asked rhetorically. Booth slipped a hand around her waist, and hugged her to him, while nuzzling into her stomach, overwhelmed by her endurance. She stroked over his head affectionately, feeling his emotional control slipping. She knelt down at his feet, staring into his watering eyes, and held his hands gently in hers. 'Ok, stop this,' she said sympathetically. 'What did you expect me to do, eh? Send some stranger to come over and bring back your remains?' She brushed away his tears with her thumbs. 'You must have known I would come to confirm your demise. Lucky I did, they staged your death, Booth. I almost just bagged up that body and came away. If it wasn't for my cell phone call with Andrew, I would never had suspected anything...'

'Bones, stop, you've lost me.' Bones sighed, and dropped her head to his knees, slipping her hands around his waist now, holding him preciously and for her own confirmation he was alive and had him safe. 'What's this about a plane crash?' he asked, caressing her soft hair to comfort her now, knowing the trauma she must have experienced and soul sapping stress she must have been under.

She mumbled against his thigh, 'Will you promise to keep eating if I tell you?' while caressing his back gently.

'Yes, I promise,' he confirmed, as she lifted up her head to look into his battered face.

'Ok... Oh. You've finished it!' she said, seeing the can empty and that lifted her spirits instantly.

He smiled tenderly, and nodded, then asked cheekily, 'Got any banana porridge, Chef?'

'Haa. Plenty.' She sprung up again to prepare it for him, her smile returning instantly.

Looking at her watch as the rain began to fall, she rushed to join him on the dry bed, and sat crossed legged opposite. Booth stretched out, and listened from the other end of the cosy bed, and ate the bucket of delicious banana porridge.

She ate the vegetarian chilli with salty crackers, and recited her story without embellishment or pretentiousness, 'When you didn't make contact with the CIA, Andrew paid me a visit two days later and gave me your letter.' Booth nodded, spooning down his dessert, listening intently. 'I decided to come and find you at the camp to check it was true and bring you home. He'd already tried to get them to pick you up but they refused. He pulled a few DC stroke FBI strings and got us a Lear jet and two Ranger volunteers to make the trip with me, for protection and so on. Anyway, we landed at... we crash landed,' she corrected herself, then went on, 'On Aquadulce disused airstrip. The pilot, Chuck Drago died on impact.' She saw Booth sag, and drop his head, while spooning more porridge into his mouth but seemingly loosing his appetite.

Bones went on, while eating her nourishing meal, not allowing herself to get too emotional, 'Toby Kopinski was extremely lucky to escape with just a fractured femur and very brave despite his painful injury. He swore a great deal.' She saw Booth grin, obviously knowing him well, and lifted his eyes to hers. Bones grinned back, and continued, encouraged to see his smile return, 'I got him out of the plane, our equipment, jeep and so on before it exploded.' Bones didn't see his jaw drop because she was filling her fork with chilli, unaware of his astonishment at her casually delivered statement.

'Then we met up with a Kuna hunter by chance, called Hitock. He took us to his tribe in the forest, where I left Kopinski. They've promise to take care of him till I get back. Which I promised him I would. Then I left and made for the camp...' Bones paused, feeling her considerable control slipping as she recalled, taking a deep breath, she went on, 'I found six corpses, one of which matched your physical parameters. I confess, Booth, once I saw your St Christopher I was... I...' Seeing her eyes sparkle with tears, Booth was around her instantly, ignoring his considerable pain to comfort her. She shook her head against this chest, and looked into his eyes, with hers leaking. Gently easing him back down to rest, she wiped her eyes. Booth relaxed again.

She went on bravely, checking her tears, 'I, I, made camp, and waited till the morning. But as I lay looking at the murdered bodies, your body, my cell fell out of the pack by accident. I turned it on, and to my amazement I got a signal. I called Hacker immediately. He'd seen the plane wreckage on a satellite pass and presumed we were all dead. Imagine his surprise to hear from me...' Booth smiled, and nodded. 'Before I left, I told him he was to find out why you'd been forced here...'

Booth nodded solemnly, he placed his bandaged hand on her knee, 'I was a fool, Bones,' he began. 'I thought I was doing covert, essential work for the government,' he said in anguish at his mistake. 'I thought I was hand picked because of my special abilities. My ego was too big and I was all too easily flattered. He sculptured me for his illegal purposes...' he paused when Bones shuffled closer to him, and kissed his brow, lying alongside him now.

'I know, I know he tricked you,' she said sympathetically, propping her head up on her bandaged palm, flicking her hair over her shoulder.

Booth nodded forlornly. 'I did a little checking,' he understated. Then he rolled to match her reclined position, but rested his head on the pillow, and caressed her shoulder delicately which had his bite mark in.

Bones nodded, taking his hand off her shoulder, and kissed his fingers gently, explaining how they knew, 'Hacker searched your apartment and found some documents, we know...' Booth's brow rose, surprised into his hairline. 'Hacker brought in your old company commander and interrogated him. Caplin told him what he knew, and it all came out apparently. I knew then that you might have been kidnapped for what you knew. I was ripping that body apart to check for your previous fractures, which I should've done first but I was so distressed and unprofessional,' she said, disgusted with herself. It was then that she saw Booth grin at her for reprimanding herself so solidly. Then he leant a little closer, and kissed her brow softly, thinking she was being too hard on herself.

Bones continued, 'It was raining hard and my phone shorted out mid conversation with Andrew... Why, Booth, what does this group, this man, have over you?'

Booth sagged, dropping his head, preparing himself to tell her all, but knowing he had to explain the back story which led them to this point. So he started with, 'I was officially recruited by SAD, one of a black op's divisions buried within the CIA, about eight years ago after I got back from the Gulf. I was called a sleeper, called in only when my talents were required for a specific job or target.' Booth paused to eat the remainder of the porridge, then placed the billycan on the ground outside the mosquito net. It started to fill with rain water and tinkled as the drops splashed into the aluminium. He settled back, and held her enwrapped gaze with his.

'Years went by and I heard nothing, I worked and got on with my life. Then two years ago I was contacted by the commander of my group. I'd heard of him, seen him on the news, sometimes standing behind the President and stuff. I thought it odd that such a high ranking man would come personally to me at the time, but I was keen when I read the dossier he handed me. I did the job, and the next...'

Bones nodded pensively, taking a deep breath then let it go through her nostrils, then asked, 'Were you financially rewarded for these assassinations?' Booth shook his head slowly.

'No. That's not how it works, Bones. There's no recognition of any kind in life, or death. I did it for my country, to make our country safer.' Then he added derisively, 'I thought I was doing the right thing, for the right reasons.' Bones saw his aching sorrow at being duped, used and feeling his loyalty had been misplaced, which tainted his secret acts of bravery. Bones shifted closer to him, and draped a leg over his, filled with total admiration for his unstinting loyalty to his beloved nation nonetheless.

She looked deep into his eyes from a few inches away, then nuzzled his stubbly cheek, saying softly, precisely, 'Your loyalty, humbles me, your devotion inspires. You are a noble, honourable man, Seeley, Joseph, Booth.' She saw the briefest glimmer of a smile flit across his fixed mocha eyes for her recognition. Her heartfelt words were reward enough for him. Then she kissed him as preciously as she could. He melted to the pillow, as she leant over him slightly, and curled her tongue around his over and over. Finding his tongue to be the only part of him not injured, yet she was as gentle and slow as if it was.

Bones felt his bandaged palm stroke down her back to her buttocks as they kissed. Goose bumps rose under his palm and down her legs, while delicious tremors went up her spine and tingled her scalp. He broke the kiss suddenly when he felt his genitals inevitably respond and that caused him some discomfort. Bones realised what had happened, so rested her brow on his, apologising, 'I'm sorry. I didn't intent to arouse you or cause you anymore discomfort.'

'It's reassuring to know it still works.' Bones grinned, as she lifted her head to look into his misty eyes, and nodded. 'And as for arousing me, I've been having major problems keeping control since we last made love, Bones. Every time I think about us together that night, ping!' She chuckled sweetly, laying her head beside his, content to look into his eyes. 'That was a great two hours, wasn't it?' Bones' sultry grin he took as her agreement. 'I never asked, how did you know I'd come back?'

'Arh. Elementary,' she said cheekily, then explained, 'As you left after we kissed, I watched you from my window. You sat in your car for another hour. I assume deciding whether you should take me up on my offer to sleep with me before you left, or wait till you came back from your vacation.' Booth grinned wider now, and nodded as she fingered her hair delicately over his brow. 'So I took a chance, and left the chain off. I knew you'd a key, so...'

'Did you know I was outside your bedroom door, butt naked and jerking off to the sound of your voice?'

'Haa. No. I was a lit-tle busy,' she whispered against his lips, while they peered into one another. 'Until I heard an echo on the line, then I knew.'

'I thought our second time was the best,' he oozed, caressing her thigh over his absently. Bones took a deep long breath, and let it out slowly, recalling too. The gentle warm gust fluttered his lashes. She also understood now why he'd been so emotional that night.

'I've never made love like that before or felt such...' trailing off, then she recalled honestly, 'I was overwhelmed.'

'I remember,' he said softly. 'We, connected, Bones.' Her smile matched his, and she kissed his lips, nodding. Booth felt his loins jump again, as he shared that memory and kiss with her. 'Ooow,' he whined, and pouted sadly at his discomfort.

Bones took pity, and pouted for him, realising she should change the subject to ease him, so went with, 'Would you enjoy some mate tea? I really fancy some, or I have a little vodka left. But you really shouldn't drink on antibiotics.'

Grateful for her subtle change of tack, he said jocularly, 'Don't tell me you've created a distillery out of the palm leaves, moss and a machete too?' She jumped out of the bed to make her tea.

'Haa. Give me another day and I'll see what I can manage. No, I know how to pack for a trip, Booth. I've had some experience in this part of the world before.'

He cocked an intrigued brow. 'I didn't know that.' He was surprised to learn that, and rolled to watch her potter about around the camp with the rain almost stopped now. 'With the locals?' He saw her nod.

'Yes. Remarkable race of people, artistic too. I did one of my thesis' on them, oooh, way back...' She flapped her hand casually, as she squatted to build the fire, and stir her tea with her back to him. 'So, tell me the rest, Booth. When did you suspect something was not right with these missions you were being sent on?'

Booth shifted to the back of the bed to give her more room, as she sat next to him, after handing him a mug of coca tea, and she sipped hers delicately.

'Ok, so, the guy I was sent out to assassinate last time, was in Afghanistan. Karpolov. He was spotted in a cafe making a deal with a Ukrainian exiled physicist, called Chrikow. You know who came to me and gave me Karpolov's CIA dossier.'

'Wait, is that what we're going to call him?' she asked cutely confused. Booth grinned, nodded, then said, 'Yes, Bones. YKW for short.'

'Got it. Go on.'

'Right so, Karpolov was angling to procure a batch of spent nuclear fuel rods that were being transferred secretly from the Urals in Siberia to a burial site under the treaty and wanted to intercept the transfer. The dossier and intelligence said his associates were hoping to make dirty bombs and set them off in the USA and Europe.' Bones nodded, slurping her hot rejuvenating tea, urging him to do the same.

Booth took a sip, didn't think it unpleasant, so sipped again, then continued, 'But when I got out there I found I wasn't the only US black op's sniper stalking Karpolov and Chrikow...' Bones looked intrigued. 'We had a confrontation he and I. And it turns out we both were working for the same black op's cell but contacted by different men and means in our government. He was after Chrikow, me Karpolov. One kosher hit, one not. So we joined forces, smelling a stinking rat to find out which one of our contacts was the real deal. We managed to kidnap Chrikow for information and to find out what the hell was going on... Guess whose number he gave us to call and who offered to pay Chrikow's ransom?'

Bones rolled her eyes, and nodded, obviously knowing what he was getting at. Booth explained, 'It turned out that Chrikow was the one who wanted the rods not Karpolov. I'd been lied to. The dossier was forged so I'd believe he was the true threat. Apparently YKW had contacted Chrikow and warned him he was on the CIA hit list and it was Karpolov that had told the CIA what he was planning to do. So YKW told him he would take out Karpolov for a price and protect him. YKW knew that black ops were going to take out Chrikow anyway and I was gunning for Karpolov. So his deceit would be hidden with both men dead, and his pockets lined.' Booth paused, staring into her eyes as she shook her head slightly.

'Karpolov died suddenly, unexpectedly, as did Chrikow. Then we came back to the US separately...' Booth said softly, cryptically. Bones swallowed, not making comment or asking anymore questions, knowing the world was a little safer without either man.

Booth gulped his tea to drain his mug, as she handed him a piece of chocolate. Then she popped a chunk between her lips, letting it melt slowly on her tongue. 'Three weeks later my co-kidnapper turns up dead, floating in the driftnets off the north west coast. It was a drunken fishing trip gone terribly wrong apparently.' Bones nodded solemnly.

'I then contact YKW and we arranged a meeting in Philadelphia. Ironically next to the bell by the sandwich cart.' Bones huffed an ironic snort, and sipped some more steaming tea. 'I threatened to expose him, knowing he was just using his position in the government to take out any competitor for the highest price he could get. He thinly veils a threat, hinting that I would go the way of my friend if I did. I told him I didn't fear that. I would make sure he would face justice even if my name was sullied. I said he was to take me off the SAD sleeper list. He appeared to get panicked and agitated, he said it didn't work that way, and it would be difficult for him to do that without him being exposed, then appeals to my patriotism. Things like what his exposure would do to the CIA, the president and our country's international reputation. He reminded me that two very dangerous men had been nullified and didn't see the harm. Then he asked to cut a deal; he would leave you alone if I stayed on the list and kept quiet... I refused his deal.' Bones smiled, knowing he would do the honourable thing.

'Then he changed his tune, he pledged to kill all of my family, everybody I loved, you, Parker, Pop's, Jared, all of them. He said my fate was sealed when I contacted him.'

'Oh. Booth,' she pined.

'I wasn't going to bow to that pressure so left him there, planning to expose him when I got back. The next day I get an envelope hand delivered to my apartment, inside are close surveillance shots of you and Parker.' Bones felt her stomach wrench over with her nausea at being stalked and photographed and for his dilemma.

'Really personal shots, Bones, close ups of you at your karate class, Parker playing soccer that last weekend, that kinda thing. Shot angles, trajectories, distances to targets, stuff I do when working in the field. I knew I had no choice now... So we made the deal. I shouldn't have gone along with it. I was so stupid but I thought I was ultimately protecting you and Parker.'

'What did he asked you to do?'

'Take out one more target in exchange for your's and Parker's lives and my silence. A Panamanian cocaine trafficker/grower called Xavier Lutross. He gave me the co-ordinates and his dossier. He lives a quiet life in Santa Fe, Panama but takes regular trips out here to see how his harvest is going. So it was tit-for-tat, Xavier for your lives. Slate clean and off the list, he said.' Bones slumped too now, knowing exactly what had transpired and why he had risked his life and nearly lost it. It had all been for her and his son, he was willing to sacrifice himself and his principles for them.

'He said if I exposed him he would take you out with one coded call and I knew he could do it, Bones, easy. But when I got out here and tracked Xavier down to that camp I radioed in with the co-ordinates of his whereabouts, which is standard operational procedure. Xavier must have intercepted my transmission and knew I was close by or he was tipped off... The night I planned to go in I was captured by two men at my hide out, and staked to that tree and tortured to talk. But I couldn't, Bones. If I told Xavier he would go after YKW as he was the only contact I had at SAD. Then your lives and Parker's would've been taken, I have no doubts about that. So I kept quiet, and took the beatings.

Bones interjected, 'I suspect YKW tipped Xavier off. He wouldn't have had to worry about you ever exposing him if you were killed incognito in the jungle.' Booth as already nodding before she finished her sentence.

'Yeah, that's what my guts been telling me. It was a straight double cross and I fell for it.'

'The others that were shot, who was the man that looked like you, but wasn't?'

'The guy they dressed up like me was one of their own. Xavier tied him up and shot him personally. Xavier just picked the guy at random out of his team, cos he was my closest physical match. Those other poor kids were screaming at me to tell him but I couldn't. I had to watch them be executed one by one. Their lives were taken because of me and my refusal to talk. They staged my death in the hope that it sent a warning to whomever was out to get Xavier. If they could capture and kill the best the CIA could send, no one else would have a chance. Xavier was hoping too that my death might flush out who was after him...'

'Yes, clearly.'

Booth went on with the rest of his saga, getting her close attention with, 'What do you think of this? Before Xavier left camp, two days ago, he came to me saying the contract was not on his head anymore. That he knew who'd paid the American government to take him out and to whom that money was paid. He told me he was going to deal with his own domestic competition, his way, and I was going to die for nothing. Then because I was going to shoot him, he said he was going to leave me to die like Jesus. Cos he said as I was already willing to sacrifice myself for my corrupt country and family. He left after he warned the men in camp to let me rot or they would be killed in the same way.'

'That's interesting... How did Xavier find out who was after him over here, and who the money was paid to in our government for the contract? If it was only two days ago when he told you that, what's changed since your capture?'

'I have no idea, Bones.' Booth paused, thinking through the possibilities, then added cryptically, 'Unless...'

'Unless what?'

'Unless... Hacker has exposed YKW already... And Xavier reads the US papers. Would Hacker have the balls and enough evidence to do that, it's a career ending risk? And would anyone believe him?'

'I don't know, he might, then again... Oh. Booth, I'm so tired. I can't think anymore,' she said weakly, pulling the sleeping bag over their bodies, and sighing strongly. She rolled onto her back, and folded her palms under her head. Booth took pity, knowing her ordeal had been just as strength sapping as his. He leant over her, and pecked her lips softly. She fluttered her eyes open, and smiled tenderly. She saw his eyes sparkling with adoring tears and barely restrained emotion. Placing her palm on the back of his head, she eased him to her shoulder where he laid his head gently. She played with a few strands of hair while his warm breaths seeped over her chest comfortingly. 'Night, night, Booth,' she muttered sleepily, drifting off almost instantly.

As she mewed softly while he rested his head on her chest, he recalled the last time he'd been in this position with her two weeks ago...

(( Booth went to roll off her body, to allow her to breathe more easily, but she held him close, not wanting or needing him to move. Her chest rose and fell with her post climatic breaths, and her eyes fluttered open. He stilled, and relaxed, breathing heavily too.

'That was worth the wait,' she said, smiling at him, with the softest caressing hands he'd ever felt on his body. They slid up his back to his shoulders then met at his cheeks, then were slowly drawn down his neck to his chest.

Booth thought her sweet statement peculiar and told her his opinion, 'Three minutes of passion is not worth what we've been through to get to this point, Bones.'

She disagreed, pummelling his heartstrings with, 'It is to me.' Then she explained sincerely, staring into his eyes, 'If that's all we ever have, then I have no regrets.'

Was it as simple as that for her? he asked himself. Was that all it took, for him to be with her, albeit for a few moments, and she'd never regret anything in her life? Was he loved that much that she could accept what may lay ahead for her? Could she balance three minutes against everything else that may come after this; possible grief, a sense of abandonment, the loss, the guilt? Was it possible for one person's fragile heart to endure all that, for three lousy minutes of sex? Would she say that if she knew how close they were to never seeing each other alive again? Those questions and more went unanswered as he felt his chest tighten with withering pain at the thought she would answer yes to all those questions. He made a decision before he lost all reasonable composure.

'You deserve more, Bones. More than three minutes. Can I give you more, till, till I have to leave?' As he said the words, he couldn't help that his tears dripped onto her face.

Seeing his tears, Bones panicked. 'What's wrong? Please, don't cry, Booth. Tell me what's wrong?' Then she added, thinking he thought all she wanted was his body and that was why he was so upset, 'You're not just about sex to me. I'm sorry if I made you think that was all I wanted from you. Please don't cry. I care deeply for you, I just wanted us to be together. I just wanted, needed to express myself...' she trailed off, as he tried to smile through his tears, and shook his head.

'I know, Bones. I do, I get it. I didn't think that at all,' he comforted, then felt her relax a little, and her breathing calm again, but his tears still persisted.

'Then, I don't understand, why are you crying?' She wiped away his tears with her thumbs, brushing them gently off his cheeks.

Booth told her half of the story, 'I'm so happy, that's all. We've waited so long, struggled with, and fought for, and now...' he rambled, confused and terrified. He rubbed his head in her warm bosom, slipping his arms around her torso, and clutched her tight to him, possessively, never wanting to let her go. He wanted to hold her like that for a million years.

'Shhh. Shhh. We're here now, that's what matters, isn't it?' she comforted him now, stroking his hair, and kissing the top of his head repeatedly. 'Show me, Booth, show me what we've been fighting for.' Booth stilled in her arms at her words, and slowly looked back up to her watering eyes, she added sweetly, 'Your way...'

Booth took that to mean she wanted to know how he would love her if they had all the time in the world. Not wasting a second more, Booth tilted his pelvis into her slowly, while still clutching her tightly, watching every nuance in her expression. She gasped as he re-sunk himself inside her, and closed her eyes to the divine sensation that permeated her again. Then her smile grew and drew his out again from his darkness.

Over an hour later she was blithely exhausted. Her eyes were scratchy with the exultant tears she'd abundantly shed along with him, and had experienced the unimaginable. That exquisite feeling of being loved so completely you melt away and disappear as an individual in your lover's arms and he in hers. She had felt that sensation of closeness she'd desired for so long, and was replete with him finally.

Booth delicately kissed her to sleep, and he knew she didn't hear him leave. Before he closed her bedroom door, he took one last look at her serene beautiful face. He prayed to his God that this wouldn't be the last time he saw her like this so at ease with herself and the world. ))

Booth sighed, looking over her now, and held her a little closer. Then thanking his God in the prayer that he offered now for giving them a little more time.


Chapter XVI Growth

Bones was woken gently by the soft caress of a finger down her cheek. She opened her eyes and there he was, kneeling beside her with a mug of steaming coffee. 'Morning, Bones, just,' he said smiling strongly. She nuzzled her face into the pillow not wanting to move yet. 'Ten straight hours,' he informed, just as proud of her long slumber as she had been of his.

Bones appreciated the humour, and chuckled softly, rolling onto her side, and took the mug from him. 'Thanks.' She noted he wore his boxers and the, size too small, boots she'd taken from the man she killed with her bare hands. A shadow of that memory, she was trying so hard to suppress, resurfaced, as she watched him potter about the campfire. He was making breakfast for them and the fire looked healthy, and so did he, remarkably.

Bones could still hear, and feel the crack of vertebrae in her palms and his sweaty stubble on her skin, all of which resonated in her conscience. She knew logically and reasonably she'd done the right thing, that she had to take his life, but it was murder. A cold blooded murder and shockingly easy to accomplish. Questions bombarded her mind; did he have a family, children? Was he a good husband and provider? Did he deserve to be murdered? One very personal question was answered for her though, one long debated; she was capable of murdering someone not in self-defence. And that was a chilling realisation. It was one thing shooting someone, as it feels like you are disconnected from the act in a perverse way. But to kill with one's hands, flesh on flesh was so basic, savage and sadistic. She feared the mercilessness of her psyche and pondered, if given the same choice, would she do it again? Could she do it again?

She was jolted from her cascading doubts and thoughts by, 'I can hear you thinking from way over here, Bones.' She snapped her eyes up from the ripples in her coffee mug, to stare at him as he turned to face her, with a sympathetic smile. 'Don't dwell, you had to do what you did. Any one of them would have taken your life without a second thought... If it's any consolation, he was the man that executed those natives one by one, and with some relish.' Bones eyes widened, startled, and her jaw gritted, remembering the horror of that scene and the anger she felt witnessing its aftermath. Knowing that he was the perpetrator, even under orders, did make her feel slightly better and validate her actions somewhat. The fallout from that she would have to deal with another time.

Seeing her surprise that he knew she'd killed the guard, Booth explained, 'The man was constantly with them. And I saw your eyes when you came to free me. I just knew what you'd done, had to do...' Bones swallowed, and nodded.

Booth sat on the bed beside her, and stroked her hair out of her eyes affectionately. Moving on quietly, he smiled, and informed, 'I've eaten already, washed and found the makeshift latrine you dug, very clever, comfy seat and a great view while you do your...' Bones grinned hard, sipping her sweet coffee as he tried to fill her with pride, something she was reluctant to show. 'And with the paper holder and wet wipes all a welcome surprise.'

'You're looking better.' Booth nodded to agree. Her eyes skimmed over his week long beard, and reached up to feel it. 'It's a little long, don't you think?'

'Haa. I think it makes me look distinguished,' he said, proudly sporting it with a rub of his bandaged palm.

Bones retorted, 'A distinguished hobo, yes.' She sat up, drawing her knees up, and smooched his lips to say good afternoon properly now the clock hand had slipped passed midday.

Charmed by her tender constant affection, he oozed, 'I love it when you kiss me.'

'That's a relief because I intend to kiss you a lot more.' She saw his eyes sparkle and widen at the delicious prospect. 'But first things first. Are you in need of pain relief?' Booth tipped his head to the side, and gave her a little pout. 'Kay, bring over my pack. I'll give you a shot of antibiotics too. Then we must change our bandages.'

'Ok, do you want your brunch now? It's ready?'

Impressed at being cared for now, she listed her numerous joys; 'How decadent, breakfast in bed, in this spectacular jungle, with the man I love, life just can't get better than this.'

Booth felt his heart palpitate, like she'd just made him sniff up more cocaine, at her casual confession, as he brought over her medical kit. That was the first time she had said it to him outright and although it was spliced between other simple pleasures, it was not diluted, but enhanced. He knew she did, otherwise she wouldn't have risked, and still risked her life for his, but to hear it vocalised sent shivers up his spine and watered his eyes. She must have seen him inflate and his moved smile widen, because she cautioned, 'Don't get all sentimental, Booth.' He pouted sadly at her reprimand, but smiled brightly when she added, seeing his sorrow, 'Later, you can be romantic and as soppy as you want when we get back home. I need you to be macho, pragmatic and tough Booth out here,' she said seriously, as she flicked the syringe proficiently. Then he chuckled, pushed her flat on the bed, and kissed her passionately, not listening to a word she said. He knew he was doing the right thing because she hooked a honed leg around his thigh seductively, and kissed him back just as fervently.

'I-love-ya-too,' he broke the kiss briefly to mutter it, then returned to kissing her, while she rumbled her seductive approval and rising passion.

Feeling his cock enlarge and nudge her pubic bone, she tipped her hips to manoeuvre him to stimulate her pleasantly. It was his turn to rumble deeply, and rock his pelvis against hers to accommodate her rising pleasure. 'Wait,' she stalled him suddenly, Booth looked at her, surprised by her halting their building desire. Then she plunged the needle blindly into his buttock, with a mischievous grin, and pumped him with morphine. He froze, stiffened, and looked astonished at her. She explained, wiggling a sexy brow, 'I don't want you to be uncomfortable while we make love.'

Her confirmation that they were going to make love and not just make out, stiffened him further. His smile grew and so did hers. 'So considerate,' he murmured against her lips cheekily, then delved between them with his lapping tongue. He felt her hands attempt to push down his boxers but with little success. So Booth lifted off her, stood, and took them off.

She watched on as he stood straight, and his cock bounced and throbbing its joy at being free to expand fully. Bones sat up quickly, that image of him setting her carnal desires alight, and pulled off her t-shirt. She felt silkily sweaty already in the rising mid-day humidity and as sensuous as she'd ever felt. Lifting her hips, her knickers became a distant memory in moments. She blushed scarlet, realising how ready she already was to be intimate with him again.

Even with their bodies battered, bruised and riddled with pain, their desire was not curbed or stilted. They'd learn their life lessons well; their time together was precious and not ever going to be squandered again.

Booth took stock of her delights in daylight for the first time, easily seeing past her purple bruises and numerous abrasions to the elegant beauty beneath. She panted sensuously, shimmering with a clear sheen of sweet perspiration all over her body. Not knowing quite where to start first, as he thought every erotic area looked so inviting, which notched up his libido yet higher.

Bones squirmed under his intense gaze, and reached for his fully fledged, rock solid cock. She massaged him, while subtly pulling him closer. 'Booth... closer,' she urged, loosing her halo. He snapped his eyes from her breasts to her eyes, and stepped closer. Bones instantly mouthed over his raspberry hood while rubbing his shaft slowly. 'Ummm,' she hummed, which reverberated through his body. Finding his girth filled her mouth satisfyingly, she groaned with female appreciation.

This was another first from her. Her gently given fellatio was thigh tremblingly gifted, and he remarked croaking, 'Oooh. Bones. Out-standing.' Bones sucked off him, to grin at him with the steamiest eyes he'd ever seen her flick his way. Then as if to confirm she recalled what he'd told her on the phone their first night together, she tickled under his ridge with the softest touch of her tongue. Booth's toe's curled, and he dropped his head back, closing his eyes to the unparalleled sensation and a fantasy realised. Then her gossamer hot mouth closed over his ridged crown, and she gently suckled while her tongue persisted.

Booth didn't stay motionless for long, and suddenly plunged two fingers into her glistening hot depths with self-assurance. Her groaned hum echoed in the trees around them, and she splayed her legs, riding his fingers with poise. Gasping off his cock when he used his thumb to rub her silky clitoris too, she whimpered concerned, 'Mind your fractures.'

'Stop that, Bones, just enjoy, I'm fine.' She grinned hard at him, as he knelt beside her then captured a ruddy nipple, tugging at it with his lips, nibbling it softly.

'Oh. I was enjoying giving you... umm,' she trailed off, forgetting anything other than to sigh with pleasure.

Booth mumbled over her areola, 'Another time.'

Bones squirmed repeatedly under his multi-directional approach to loving her, while her airless moans complimented the jungle's melody. Her hands went in opposite directions, one to his head, and caressed in thanks, the other slowly south. It slid down her body to his hand, and pulled him out of her drenched depths a few inches, and guided him to her hardening clitoris.

Booth flicked his gaze up to her to watch her enjoyment of his caress. 'I'm so glad we're sexually comfortable with one another,' she muttered, caressing his hair, watching him suckle and tease her nipple. 'I thought because we've, ummm, been friends for so long it might feel strange to be in-intimate but, har, har. Natural, feels natural.' Her disjointed sentence and honesty made him smile, as he understood she'd obviously been concerned about it in the past. But he'd never had such reservations.

'I always knew you'd become fundamental to my life from the moment I laid eyes on you,' he whispered against her wet tight nipple. Bones sighed, deeply touched, and hugged his head to her. 'I know that sounds like a sentimental line but it is true.'

'I be-lieve you, Booth. Oh, wonderful touch,' she murmured again, losing her train of thought again as absorbing sensations flowed through her. Booth watched them all cascade over her with obsessive eyes.

Each sigh she breathed was an admiring wordless compliment, every roll of her pelvis was a tribute to his unselfish technique and he continued till she paid him trembling orgasmic homage.

'Little-more, a-littl'-more, uh, uh,' she encouraged cutely, breathlessly tiptoeing towards her body's acme. He watched her eyes close with stinging bliss, and saw it shoot up her spine to overwhelm her gently curling body. 'Uuuhummm,' she crooned, luxuriating in the ecstasy.

Watching her as she fluttered her eyes open, while he kissed, and played with her bullet hard nipple, he smiled at her, saying admiringly, 'Wooow...' Bones blew out a long hot breath between her lips to calm, while staring into his fogged eyes.

Bones grinned, handsomely flushed, saying deeply generous, 'I enjoyed that immensely.' Booth nuzzled her breast with his smiling face, thinking to himself she hadn't seen the best of him yet.

Bones' skin was now slippery with beaded perspiration, as he eased her up to sit, and urged authoritatively, 'Turn to face me.' Bones did as gently instructed, and dangled her legs either side of his torso as he knelt. She held his face in one palm, her other gave him an intimate massage, and kissed him deeply.

Booth broke the soft kiss to say, taking her soft palm off his cock, 'I remember you going all...' he paused purposefully, dipping his head to mouth hot kisses up from her right knee to her upper thigh meandering lazily up her flesh, easing her thighs wider. 'All mushy when I asked if you wanted...' again he deliberately paused to tease, kissing wet mouthed ever closer to her glistening crux, while his hands pushed her backwards to lay back down now. Bones did lay back, panting, and squirming again with anticipation. She remembered too, feeling herself so hot it felt like her skin was scorched. She didn't have time to surrender properly or prepare for his ravishing assault before he said, 'Wanted me to kiss you, here.' He opened his mouth wide, and sucked on her honey dewed velvet self-indulgently.

Snatching a gulp of sultry Panamanian jungle air, she extolled, 'Oh. Booooth...' Her hands went to his head between her thighs instantly he was there, and caressed him ebulliently. Booth grinned against her proudly, feeling her excitement and desire rise fast. He licked up from her nympha to tickle his tongue once across her clitoris, then closed his lips over it into a soft sucked kiss. Each eager lap, tender tickle and sweet kiss brought her enormous growing pleasure. He repeated the torturous pattern over and over till her hands were frenetic in his hair. Her body was rippling, while her unheeded submissive cries for deliverance scared the parrot colony above, and intrigued a troop of wide eyed spider monkeys.

Bones could feel her body hurt with pleasure but not quite the ultimate bliss to relieve the delicious tension. Knowing what was required to stop his kissing torture, she lifted up, grabbed his stunned head forwards over her, and willed him into her with, 'Seeley-please.' By saying his real name she hoped he would show her mercy and release her tether to let her fly.

Booth glided inside the feral sweltering woman, and pumped his hips to tame her. All it took was three swift deep thrusts and a thumbing firm rub of her mica ruby, and she was mollified. Her wild thrashing body, rose up, then flattened, her mouth opened then snapped shut silent, while the torrent of ecstasy reduced her to a shivering, whimpering panting gorgeous wreck. With her mind and body freed, she took to the sky like a lark ascending.

Proud of his morning's activities, Booth grinned smugly, waiting for her to stop tossing her head and return to terra firma. 'Out-rageous. You're a bad man, so, so baaaad,' she drooled her chastisement for almost killing her with pleasure, still with her eyes shut.

Booth sniggered at her praising joke, and stroked down her body, savouring her still impaled on his cock, sensing her post orgasm clenching on it. He noted he'd expended very little energy, and felt very strong still, all of which boded well. She, on the other hand, looked beautifully shattered and contentedly ravaged to him.

When Bones finally opened her eyes, Booth was resting his arms up on the bed canopy, and gently flexing his pelvis to thrust into her. Bones thought he couldn't have looked more casual if he tried. Bones wiped her sticky hair off her face, and grinned at his smug expression, charmed by it. Then she let her eyes roam over his pinch fit body, albeit bruised and scabbed, with admiration at the human body's healing qualities. 'Come and lay down with me,' she implored. Booth nodded, thrilled to, and settled against her delicately. She rolled gracefully over him; matched his slow love making, his tender emotionally riddled smile, and shared his deep long emotional stare. Now she felt it was vital for her to love him as completely as he'd just done her.

Booth unashamedly idolised her above him with the sun breaking in her shadow-less eyes now he was free to. He noted his hands width only just covered the bruise on her rib cage she'd suffered during the crash. Then saw the bruises of the seat belt on her hip bones. He knew there was nothing she wouldn't do for him or hadn't already done. Absolutely nothing. She'd gone black and blue for him, scarred her soul with mortal sin, even prepared to give her life for his and would again, and again. Those words rarely said to each other were superseded, as she'd done all that to make him feel her love. The cliché, he mused, was true and pertinent; actions speak louder than words and were felt deeper. She had told him once, she could never love anyone like that, and yet, here she was, proving herself wrong.

'You're looking sentimental again,' she warned gently. Booth grinned a little wider, and nodded to agree, feeling overwhelmed by her loyalty to him and the power of her love. There was no way he could ever repay the debt he owed her, even if he spent a lifetime trying to. He questioned, where would he start? What could he possibly do?

Bones saw his questions without hearing them, and answered them both with, 'Just love me for as long as I live,' against his lips.

Booth felt his bristly chin wobbling, and his eyes stung as she blurred through his moved tears. Through those tears he smiled strongly, saying with a wavering pitch, 'That won't ever be a problem.' The smile he received back as her response was colossal and filled his heart so full, it pounded against hers. Then again she compounded that sentiment as she began to move them gently towards love's ultimate physical reward.

This love had been seeded years ago and was firmly rooted in trust and loyalty, those roots were sunk deep now. This physical act of expression was to fertilize that emotion. Their love grew stronger with it, like a mighty mahogany without visible scab or scar, those blemishes long forgotten. Now it was just them in this Arcadian place, entwining around each other, and growing stronger in every dimension. However the gruelling heat and humidity of the jungle was humbled by their loving friction and mutual stimulation, and so their fragile bodies began to weaken.

Prolonging the other's pleasure unselfishly had one serious consequence that Bones could see. 'We-should,' she panted against his mouth, with a kiss left on his lips, then, 'End this soooon. Ooh.' She panted again, as her body dripped with perspiration. He rubbed her clitoris with his thumb intermittently, taking her to the edge then pulling her back when he took that added treat away.

He didn't want to end this, he loved how she lolled around on top of him, bleary eyed, and whimpered her lovely exclamations of bliss into the tropical ether. 'Why?' He copied the soft breathless kiss to her lips, saying, 'Are-ya, bored? Oh. Bones, that feels...' Bones tried to laugh at his silly question, but her weakened state and dwindling energy reserves made it near on impossible to.

'We-could, die,' she said genuinely serious. Booth wanted to laugh too, but saw she was serious. 'Dehydration,' she kissed the word to his lips. 'Need to orgasm-Oooh, soon,' she explained, resting her sweaty brow on his. 'You've-had-morphine,' she mumbled, pecking his lips. 'Your pleasure threshold is, is elevated. I'm doing my best to make you climax, but, har-har-har,' she panted, stilling for a moment to catch her breath, then began again with her rolling luscious thrusting that had kept him on the brink. 'You're proficient at, control-ing.' He thought her explanation and actions totally adorable, and took pity on her.

'Is that a professhhh. Umm, professional opinion?' Bones grinned, relieved he was finally letting himself feel what she was offering. She dropped flat over him, supporting some of her weight on her forearms beside his head, but kept her subtle grinding movements going.

Peering into his eyes, she answered and begged, 'Yes. Doctor's orders.' Grinning, Booth slipped his hand between them, not noticing any discomfort, and caressed her gem.

The erotic tension built and built till she was twitching to orgasm, which shortened her breath and hastened her movements automatically. His gentle member stretched her tight and plunged satisfyingly deep on her opposing thrusts. All at once the acute desired sensation was upon them. Bones felt her core tug hard at him on the first release of deep rich tension. They both gasped with its intensity, with eyes forged in love, then the next stronger pulse shot through them like searing buckshot, straightening their spines. Even the jungle animals and birds quietened and stilled, mesmerize as the lovers illustrated to them something they could never understand or emulate.

Bones abandoned herself to the elite moment of oneness, willingly losing herself in his chestnut eyes, while gravity drew her closer to him.

Booth watched enrapt as she peaked, and inevitably drew him up with her. Her slick heat and pulsing flesh burned his submerged flesh, and pulled out his hot eruptions along with his smile. His member repeatedly hugged by her, gave him the same feeling of temporary unification, just like their first night together.

'Aww. Booth,' she muttered awed, breathless and erotically slippery. They spun into another paradise, sucked in together, and held on to one another throughout their blissful vortex. Attempting to breath, kiss and smile during their climax was difficult but they tried anyway.

As their raptures inevitably subsided, Bones collapsed to him completely, panting over his shoulder, while he caressed her slick tensionless back. She didn't move again till he slipped from her with a soft sigh. Then she muttered in the pillow, 'Sorry... Can't move... Push me off.' Booth sniggered softly, then gently rolled her shimmering, sun dappled floppy body onto her back beside him. She flopped limp, and grinned blindly as the sensations they'd created between them ebbed lusciously away.

Panting, Booth rolled his hips slowly to the residual delights of love making with his gorgeous life partner. 'Amazing. Oh-aw. God, amazing,' he murmured, absolutely ravaged, and blinking wide eyed at the gently swinging torch above their heads. His member twitched as it nestled exhausted to his thigh, it feeling wholly lavished with her natural moisture.

'Umm,' she just managed to agree, before she yawned long and hard.

After dropping down the mosquito net, Booth took her hand, kissed it, and closed his eyes. An afternoon nap felt utterly deserved and a great idea, he mused, feeling her squeeze his hand back the tiniest amount. He looked to his serene forest nymph out of one eye, seeing she was already almost asleep, and smiled.


Chapter XVII Moving On, Again

A smiling Booth sat behind an equally smiling Bones in the shallows of the cool river three hours after they'd finished making love. With his legs and arms around her, he watched from her shoulder, as she attended tenderly to his palm wounds again. 'They look so much better, don't you agree?' she asked happily, clearly pleased with their healing progress. Booth nodded on her shoulder, she glanced to him as he pecked her lips, and held them on hers for a little while.

Booth took one of her palms, and looked at it closely, the wounds wept and were red raw. Frowning slightly, he said softly, 'Yours aren't so good. Why don't you take some antibiotic?'

'There isn't enough left. You need it more than me. I have plenty of antiseptic cream left. That will suffice for now, till we get home.' She took her hand away out of his, hoping to stop him fussing.

'Booones,' he droned, not happy with her not treating them properly.

She squeezed his arms around her midriff, and tipped her head back. 'They're fine, stop worrying,' she tried to placate, loving him being so concerned and affectionate. 'Seriously, they are.' She tilted her head to the side, as he snuffled into her neck, and kissed a path to her ear.

'You smell so sexy, how do you smell so good all the time?' he muttered in her ear, obviously breathing her in. Bones began bathing him, lathering up his hands carefully, then rinsing them down in the refreshing river water.

'Haa. You go around sniffing me, do you?' He didn't answer immediately so she looked into his eyes, querying him with hers.

Caught, he blabbed, 'Not all the time, no... Occasionally... Sometimes... Ooohwa. Ok, yes! I sniff ya most days.' He looked ashamed, and humiliated.

'Haa! That's very peculiar behaviour. Some might say, perverted even.' Seeing his pout and cute blush, she added sweetly, after pecking his cheek, 'But... I adore that you do and are honest about it.' He took the soap from her hands, and began washing her down now, very self-indulgently, she thought, while she brushed her teeth vigorously.

'Hold still, Bones,' he warned, as he smoothed over her breasts.

'Why, you don't seem to be too distracted or put off from washing my breasts?'

He squeezed her soapy breasts, saying, 'Don't be facetious.' Bones snorted a chuckle, and carried on brushing diligently, looking around their idyllic surroundings.

The ridge of eroded hills opposite were dense with lush steaming jungle and undulated to the south, offering them a wide sky, a rarity in the jungle. The broiling heat sucked up moisture from the saturated ground below, which condensed into wispy mist, which clung close to the tree tops. The sounds of the babbling shallow river were almost obliterated by the calls of thousands of birds, troops of wailing monkeys and millions of chirping, humming insects. To their far left was the Gap proper, a low lying swamp that shimmered in the distance with a heat mirage, which this river was attempting to drain. Its task eternal as the rains fell most days to top up the swamp.

Bones sighed heavily, leaning back into him, as she absorbed the beautiful vistas and Booth washed gently between her legs. She closed her eyes, treating herself to a mental rerun of this late morning pleasures.

'It's gorgeous out here,' he said, obviously looking around now, as he carefully cleansed her. He felt her nod slightly, and heard her hum. 'How long have we been out here, in our Xanadu?'

Bones chuckled softly at his Coleridge's reference to their paradise but did think it apt. 'This is our third day... We should make progress back. Kopinski will be out of medication soon. I was thinking by now Xavier will know what I did to his cocaine delivery, and be really...'

'Pissed off, yeah. I was thinking that. He'll want to find us and...' he trailed off.

'And what?' Bones asked, opening her eyes to look into his, fixed on something in the water.

'Don't move, keep still. It's a crocodile...' he informed, with his teeth gritted, and looked to her, like they were in mortal peril.

'Oh! I know, it's been there since we arrived to bathe,' she said casually. Booth looked gob smacked at her flippant statement. 'I thought you knew it was there. It's a Cayman, fish eater, rarely human eater.'

'Well, that might be true but he might like the smell of you and fancy a beautiful tasty snack.'

Bones laughed at his flattering comment, and stood up, then walked deeper into the water, clapping her hands loudly. Booth scurried to stand, stunned by her fearless bravado towards the reptile. To his amazement the creature flicked its tail, and slithered off in the opposite direction. Bones spun to face him triumphant, and smiled hard and wide. Then they both looked up and over to the whirring sound coming from beyond the ridge of hills. Both partners lost their relaxed smiles, and looked to each other.

'Helicopter,' Booth said gravely. Bones nodded, and splashed out fast, while he gathered their clothes, and shoved his feet into his boots. Bones grabbed the rest of their washing things, and ran with him for the cover of the canopy. 'Quick, Bones.'

They ran under a thick clump, and stood, looking up, listening for the helicopter to skim up their valley following the winding river. 'Do you think they saw us?' he asked. Bones shook her head.

'No, we were out of the water before it came over the ridge. It's the camp fire I'm concerned about. I was hoping the tree mist would disguise it or they would assume that's what it was.'

'Should we put it out now?'

'No, it would send up too much steam and give away our camp.' Just then the helicopter made another pass, this time in the direction it had come, then the sound of its rotors whirred off again. They stood under the trees, and waited for several minutes, straining to hear anything more.

They both looked at one another having made their decision independently but understanding each other perfectly. They ran back to camp, and went in different directions around it. Booth dowsed the fire, and packed away the billycans and cooking utensils. While Bones took down the washing, and gathered the guns, and collected her; hammock, sleeping bag and torch. Within a few minutes they were drenched with sweat but everything was packed, secured, and ready to go. They finally dressed, and booted properly. As she was tying her hair up she told him to bring over the map.

Booth laid it out on the bed, while she explained, 'We have to cross the river and head due north to here. I crossed at this point last time, it was a bit tricky. I nearly got washed downstream, but it is do-able. With your extra weight we should be ok.' Booth was nodding seriously, looking at the map and the proposed route, their adrenalin levels spiking. Then he looked to her checking her watch. 'There's about three hours maybe four of good light left. We make camp and in the morning get to the village. Pick up Kopinski, call Hacker on the satellite phone and get the hell out of Panama.'

'Sounds like a frigging good plan to me, Bones.' He smiled powerfully, folding up the map, and stowing it in her pack.

'Before we go anywhere you need antibiotics and bandages on those palms.'

'So do you,' he said vehemently. Bones agreed, and set about seeing to his hands and medications. Then he helped her with her bandages, as they sat on the bed side by side. Both could feel their sickening tension rise between them. 'Let's dump the canoe.'

'No. We can't. I promised to return it. I'm not breaking that promise and we need the added weight.' Booth grinned, and kissed her solidly on the lips for her determination and practicality. He checked the magazine in the Uzi, and smiled at her.

'Great equipment, Bones,' he said, as she put on her belt with her machete, penknife and semi. Then she rummaged in her pack, and rolled on deodorant. Booth snorted, amused by her absurd action in this situation.

Seeing his incredulous look, she said cryptically, 'I have a reputation to uphold,' lightening their ominous, darkening mood.

'What reputation is that?' he asked, with a intrigued smile, as the whirr of helicopter blades returned in the distance. That sound was their starting pistol and incentive to move fast. With the colour draining from their faces, they jumped into the jeep.

'Tell you later. Hold the canopy over us as I drive. It'll camouflage us a little when we cross the river.' Booth nodded, and got under the latticed palm fronds. Turning on the engine, and slamming her boot on the gas pedal, she shouted her warning, 'Hold on to your gloves!'

'Hat. Bones. Hold on to your hat!' he corrected, shaking his head at her, as she sped towards the river at a pace to scare a Formula I driver. They could hear the helicopter nearing and machine gun fire start up but they weren't in range yet. They knew how close they were to the edge, so kept their conversation going as if this was an everyday occurrence being shot at by drug runners, and they were unperturbed by it.

'That too!' she bellowed back, as they hit the water, and jarred forwards in their seats.

'Crazy! Lara Croft's got nothin' on you!' Booth stuck his head through the canopy to look for the helicopter. Then he sat back down, poked the small barrel through, and began firing short bursts in the direction of their pursuers.

'You're the second man to mention her since I've been in Panama!' Bones stood in the foot well, and giggled about as the wheels began to slip off the bottom half way across the river, turning the wheels hard left then hard right, she hoped for grip. 'Who is this Lara Croft woman? I would very much like to meet her!' she grunted, as they began to roll downstream forwards, having no grip or directional control whatsoever. 'She sounds quite adventurous!' Booth stood too now, and bounced with her, sloshing in the water filling the jeep.

'Yeah, she is... Hot too, like you!' Booth snatched a glance behind them to see the helicopter trying to get as close and as low as the jungle would allow. But unfortunately for their pursuers the trees were so high and overhanging the narrow but fast flowing main river, they couldn't get close enough.

'Aww. Thank you, Dar-ling!' Bones felt the wheels grip suddenly, so spun the steering wheel full lock left, changed gear, and powered out of the water as it sloshed over the hood, nearly swamping the short periscope exhaust.

Booth let go of the canopy, and said cheerfully, 'You're welcome, Honey!' Then, 'Holy fffuck!' he wailed, as he was flung back as she tore up the steep river bank and into the forest again.

They heard bullets fizzing into the water behind them, so Booth spun in his seat to face backwards, and fired a prolonged burst at the under armoured chassis of the helicopter. It swooped away as his aim was good and they'd heard the tonk, tonk of their bullets making sparking contact.

'I don't like it when you fucking swear! It doesn't suit you!' she yelled, snatching him a grinning glance, weaving through the trees like a slithering corn snake at full pelt. Her hands were back in manic action again to avoid the largest obstructions. They bounced and groaned, crushing anything in their way; saplings, clumps of ferns and even termite mounds, while Booth emptied the magazine, and replaced it with another from his pocket.

Firing again, he bellowed over the cacophony of whirling blades and heavy gun fire in both directions. 'Ok! I fucking apologise! Haa!' Bones was laughing too as they exchanged wild looks of abandon and love.

If they were to die, at least they would be together. They knew they might as well go out laughing, and giving everything they had in their attempt to escape.

Booth saw a clear view directly above his head, the circle of silver blades and a man leaning out with sunglasses on, firing downwards at them. Booth aimed, and kept firing till the magazine emptied again. The vegetation above shredded and dropped down like confetti around them in the powerful downdraft. 'Brake!' Booth yelled. Bones did and the helicopter shot over them.

Bones handed him another magazine over her shoulder, informing, 'Last one, Booth,' and waited for the helicopter to return.

In the relative lull, Booth enlighten her cutely, 'I could really go a beer now!' He snapped the magazine home, and braced himself on the seat back, aiming over her head.

The helicopter swooped around in a vicious turn, and came back towards them with men firing from either side door. Booth fired constantly at the pilot's position, and showered Bones with spent cartridges. The helicopter's windshield cracked then finally punctured in a milky spider's web pattern. Then the craft dipped and bumped in the air and they heard the warning alerts from inside the cockpit mingle in with the cacophony. Booth saw blood splatter on the inside of the shattered glass as the helicopter began to groan and yaw forwards straight towards them at a terrifying speed.

'Go! Go! Bones!' Booth yelled in panic, but she'd already seen the danger approaching. The blades hit the canopy, and sliced through it, fracturing the blades in the process. The impact sent the lethal shards in all directions in the squall, boughs dropped to the forest floor like severed limbs with sickening thuds. 'Goooo!' he yelled again in earnest, falling over in the back seat.

'Xavier's gonna be so mad with us!' Bones said almost coolly. She ducked too, seeing the crashing upturned helicopter coming straight for them, pumping the gas pedal to the floor, they shot under the falling helicopter, it missing them by inches. Then a split second later the tail blade cut into the hood spraying yellow sparks, and bounced over the jeep, as the helicopter hit the forest floor behind them.

There was a fizz, a crack, a teeth grating crunch, then a sonic explosion so powerful, its shockwave blew the back wheels of the jeep off the forest floor, and threw them forwards in the jeep. The sound of trees igniting and the chasing fireball laced with debris kept Bones' foot to the floor, as she weaved frantically again, and drove them away from the carnage.

Booth was kneeling on the back seat, daring the shrapnel to try and hit them in some kind of absurd game of dodge. He looked back, throwing his arms aloft, and yelled triumphantly, 'Got ya! Ha! Got ya. Can't-touch-this. Na har. Can't-touch-this. It's Hammer time!' He was doing a little jig, Bones noted, and began to laugh hard at his silly euphoria and jubilation at not being dead. His adrenalin rush bolstered by them blowing up a helicopter, outrunning the flames and debris, and getting some payback for his torture.

Bones screeched them to a skidding halt. Leaping out of the jeep, she pulled her weapon out, and looked at him still doing a little jig gleefully. She dropped a hip, and propped her hand on it. 'When you are quite finished, we should check for survivors.' Booth looked down to her, then leapt out over the door, grabbing her in a bear hug. 'Have you taken some more of that cocaine?' she asked suspiciously, grinning as he started to kiss her throat and neck crazily, feeling her up too.

'Let's make love, here, now,' he said, flaring his eyes for her to agree, squeezing a buttock suggestively. Bones smacked his pumped bicep, and laughed. She pecked his lips, and began to walk off. Booth pouted. 'Awww,' he whined like a spoilt child. 'I was being serious.' Stamping his foot.

'I know.' She smiled sweetly at him, then flared her eyes seductively now, saying, 'Maybe later...' Booth jumped forwards excitedly to follow her back to the crash site, slipping his hand in her free one. She looked up to him, and chuckled, lifting their clasp of hands, she kissed the back of his quickly. 'You were marvellous,' she complimented sincerely.

'So were you, awesome driving... But I still drive us around in DC.' Bones laughed again, nudging him with her shoulder. They smooched again briefly, and walked on hand in hand.


Chapter XVIII Kuna

The helicopter crash left little to discover other than three mangled charred bodies and twisted metal. They'd driven on for another few hours then made camp. They ate from the ration packs but hadn't started a fire, as they were too concerned about getting spotted again, eating what they could cold. Then finally the lay together on the back seat of the jeep, and slept, having no energy left to make love only to kiss one another goodnight.

At first light Bones washed, attended to her wounds, and changed clothes and made her still snoozing partner a cold coffee. As she kissed him awake, he hummed, and stretched out his back. 'Morn-ing,' he yawned, then blinked open his eyes to focus on her. She was smiling prettily at him, and looked pristine and smelt fresh again, much to his astonishment.

'Morning, Booth. I've checked the GPS. We've got another two hours drive ahead, at the most.' She shuffled in beside him, and sipped her coffee, while he slung his arm around her shoulder, and hugged her to him. She rested her head against his shoulder, saying, 'The last stretch.' Booth swallowed his mouthful, and nodded as she looked up into his eyes.

'Yeah, the last little bit...' he said as thoughtfully too. He could sense her worry for what was to come. She hoped Kopinski was ok and that the Kuna hadn't been moved on or worse. She feared what would happen if the satellite phone was out of charge and they couldn't contact Hacker. She feared another attack by Xavier's cohorts as their munitions were running low, as were her medical supplies. There were so many variables which cluttered her troubled mind, and he felt all of them too, but keeping up her spirits, he bolstered, 'It'll work out, Bones. You'll see.'

She grinned so wide the shape of her cheek bones disappeared under the plumped tanned flesh, and her minty teeth glowed brightly in the morning sun. And then they kissed, deeply, slowly, entwining it with as much love as they could impart as if it was to be their last ever kiss.


Bones saw the thin rising stream of wood smoke, and felt her heart beat quicker as they neared the compound, and rejoiced that the Kuna hadn't been moved on. She glanced at Booth as he smiled, seeing her relief.

'Good sign,' he said, and she nodded, heading straight for the smoke and the sounds of human life in the forest. As they neared the outskirts, Kuna tribesmen at the river edge looked up, and saw the pair approach. Their smiles lit up Bones' face too, as she waved at the excited fishermen.

Stopping the jeep, Bones jumped out, and shook their jubilant hands, then spoke in Spanish to them. Booth watched on, yet again, amazed by her abilities. The men looked to him, and smiled wide, then to his astonishment, they started removing the canoe from the jeep excitedly, clearly delighted to have it back.

'They're glad to have it returned,' Bones understated humbly, explaining all the noisy enthusiasm, covering for the men's joy and gratefulness for her keeping her promise to them. 'They have a lot to tell us apparently,' she said, getting back in the jeep, while four of the men jumped in the back of the jeep too.

Bones drove straight into the middle of the compound, and turned off the engine, parking beside the huge fire and spit, which was roasting a hog. Booth felt his mouth water smelling the roasting pork, and eyed it longingly. Suddenly people came from every direction as the four men leapt out of the jeep, and started alerting every Kuna that Rain Fresh had returned. Bones started to giggle adorably as the ecstatic children ran around her like buzzing happy mosquitoes, and started pulling at her hands and pants to come with them. 'This way, Booth. They've something to show me.'

'Obviously,' he said, utterly charmed by her pied piper magnetism, and the way she was dragged away on a cloud of smiling gabbling feral children. Just as they reached the low doorway of one of the long huts, Hitock came out with a baby in his arms, and offered the squealing feisty baby to her, with the biggest smile she'd ever seen.

Delighted to see her, Hitock placed the baby in her arms immediately. The children around her cheered, and jumped up and down, clapping wildly. Bones looked into the screaming baby's face with her eyes brimming. 'My child, you saved my child, she lives thanks to you,' he said, bowing respectfully. Bones was stunned, she hadn't realised the baby she'd left a week ago, as close to death as one could be, had not only survived but was his child.

Bones looked over her shoulder to Booth, who was smiling broadly too, he clearly understood what she had done and given these people. Booth also loved the vision of her with a screaming baby in her arms. It felt loin tingling good to him, and he could see a coy smile in her eyes in recognition of his reaction.

A moment later as she pecked the baby's brow, and hushed her quietly as her mother came out of the hut, and held Bones' gaze. They exchanged a few words, and Booth noted Bones got very emotional as she handed back the baby to her beaming mother. She wiped the escaped tear off her cheek, and warmly smiled at her.

'Come on in, Booth,' Bones urged, as she ducked under the doorway's low lintel, and disappeared inside. The children eyed the exceptional tall ragtag Booth with nervous awestruck smiles. He smiled back, and twinkled a wave at them. They giggled, and ran off to play.

Booth saw Bones kneeling beside Kopinski as they were hugging each other in silence, plainly the relief to see her was overwhelming for Kopinski because he muttered, 'Fucking awesome, you came back for me, fucking brilliant. Didn't expect to see Lady Croft again...' Booth realised Kopinski had been the other man who'd mentioned the similarities between the fictional character and his partner.

Bones chuckled, and sat on her feet, then began inspecting his leg. Booth turned his attention to Kopinski now. 'Toby Kopin-ski... last time I saw you, you were passed out on some hooker's lap, and I carried your drunken ass back to base,' Booth said humorously, coming over to the elated Kopinski. Bones grinned at their male bonding ritual while she critically assessed his stitches.

Kopinski reached up to stake his hand solidly, with pure amity, and laughed hard. 'Seeley, Booth, fuck man, great to see ya alive! We thought... Well, ya know?'

'Yeah, I nearly was. If it wasn't for Lady Croft here, I would be. Thanks for coming out to get me.' Kopinski batted away his thanks. Bones glanced to Booth bashfully, who was kneeling beside her now, next to Kopinski.

'What a woman!' Kopinski gushed, then went on with, 'Are you two an item cos I fancy my chances, you know?' Kopinski grinned seductively at Bones, who huffed a chuckle, and shook her head slightly, retying his splint bandages.

'D'ya want me to break your other leg?' Booth asked, implying they were indeed an item. Kopinski put his hands up in surrender, backing off cutely.

Bones got them back on track with, 'You've kept your leg clean, it looks good. Healing well. Have you been moving around?'

'Yeah, course! Hitock and the guys take me down to the river everyday to wash.' Changing tack in the same breath he asked suddenly, 'The baby! Did you see the baby?' He was obviously delirious that the child was recovering and thriving now.

'Yes, she looks wonderful. You were obviously diligent with your care. Well done, Kopinski. You saved the child's life.'

'Nah. It was all your doing. They've been singing songs bout ya. Rain Fresh this, Rain Fresh that. We even had a feast in your honour when we heard you'd found and rescued Booth and blew up the compound, fucking awesome,' he rambled excitedly, delighted to tell all. Bones and Booth exchanged puzzled looks. Kopinski explained, seeing their confused looks, 'Those guys you freed from the camp...' Bones oo-ed silently understanding. 'Some from this tribe got back a couple of days ago and told us all about it. That was a night, I can tell ya! Oh. The story they told us! The explosions, the chase, everything... You're a legend, Doc...' he told her generously. Bones blushed, and dropped her eyes, finding his fern bed suddenly very interesting. 'We guessed, hoped you'd be holed up somewhere, waiting for Booth to recover before you came back. Then last night, one of the guys was out on the river fishing. He heard and saw Xavier's helicopter crash in the forest, and rushed back to tell us. We knew it was just a matter of time before you appeared.'

Bones stood, and turned to Hitock who was squatting behind them, and had been listening to their exchanges. She questioned him in Spanish, 'Are the men that got back ok, unharmed?'

'Yes. All fine. They want to thank you with a feast. Everybody is waiting.' He pointed out of the door, urging them to follow him. Bones smiled pleasantly, saying they would be out after they made a call. Hitock left them to it.

Bones' anxiousness increased ten fold as she took out the yellow satellite phone from her pack, and glanced nervously to Booth.

'Go on, try it,' he encouraged softly. Bones looked to an equally anxious Kopinski, who nodded to pursued her.

Bones turned it on, and fixed her eyes on the top right hand side of the LCD screen for the power strength bars to appear. The screen lit up, beeped, then she smiled at them both. 'Two bars, enough for one quick call,' she said, as she tapped in an imprinted number. They held their breaths as she walked around in a slow circle, waiting for it to connect.

Bones stood still half way round her circle, and said, 'Andrew?'

'Temperance! Hallelujah! Where are you?'

'Close to the drop off zone, with Kopinski and Booth.'

'Booth? He's alive?'

'Very much, and smiling at me, actually, no, he's kissing me quite excitedly. Haa.' Bones slipped her hand around his waist, as her partner nuzzled into her hair. 'Andrew, we need extraction from the landing site ASAP. We're out of stores and nearly all of our ammunition is depleted.'

'Ok. I've had Fort Sharman on standby since our last call, hoping for the best. ETA three hours max. Can you get there in that time?'

'Yes, we'll be there. Kopinski will need medical attention as soon as.'

'Got it. Anything else?'

'Yes... Booth wants beer,' she said dead pan. Booth and Kopinski chuckled, and chimed together, 'cold!'

'Haa! I can't tell you how proud we all are of you here, Temperance,' he said respectfully.Then Hacker's tone dropped and became gravely serious, as he added, 'Be on your guard though, Temperance, things have got volatile in your area since we last spoke. Suffice to say, we maybe being listened to.'

Bones felt her stomach drop, and she lost her smile somewhat, looking into Booth's eyes. He saw the concern reappear, and furrowed his brow. 'I understand. Three hours. Thanks, Andrew. See you soon.'

'God speed, Temperance.'

Bones disconnected the call, then took the battery out of the phone. 'We may have been tracked or heard,' she explained. 'What's happened?' she directed her question to Kopinski. He motioned to be helped up. The partners went to his aid immediately, and got him to his feet as he explained, knowing what she wanted to know.

'I'm not sure what's happening back in the US but the shit hit the fan over here four days ago! Drug war, in two words...' Booth and Bones glanced at one another as they became human crutches for Kopinski, taking him out of the long hut to the jeep. 'Xavier's clan and a little known group calling themselves the Conte are kicking the hell out of each other. The Conte have encroached from the north on Xavier's plantations and taken them over. He's well and truly pissed off, as you can imagine.'

'The Conte must have paid YKW to take him out,' Booth muttered, looking to Bones, who nodded to agree.

Kopinski asked curiously, as they strapped him into the back seat of the jeep, 'Who's YKW?'

'Never mind, go on, Kopinski,' Bones urged, surrounded by quietening Kuna tribesmen and children. They could see them preparing to leave in a hurry, and stood back as Bones stripped bare her steel box.

'Need to know situation, ok...' he said, obviously getting he wasn't going to be made privy to what they knew. 'The word is that there's been fire fights going on all over the valley's between the two gangs. Carnage everywhere! Thankfully, they've left the Kuna alone, preoccupied with their own troubles.' Booth got all the ordnance together, and placed it in strategic places in the front passenger's side for easy access.

Two Kuna men brought out Kopinski's steel box, and helpfully secured it in the jeep next to Bones'. Hitock handed him his sniper rifle, with a nervous grin. 'Thanks, Hitock,' he said, shaking his hand firmly, warmly, in a manly grateful goodbye.

Kopinski checked the sights, and kept his rounds close, while he continued, 'When the Kuna came across Xavier's gang they wanted to know where you were, Booth. He lost millions in your rescue and wants revenge or to capture you for ransom to the US. While the Conte want Xavier dead, and as many of his men as possible. Looks like we're stuck in the middle.'

'Well, we're gonna squeeze between them unnoticed, hopefully,' Bones heard Booth say, as she walked off to the gathered children and tribesmen and women.

They all stood around the fire, looking sad they were leaving without eating with them. With her hands full of the remaining ration packs; clothing, and what she had left in her medical kit, she explained their reasons for leaving so abruptly. Bones felt herself tear up, as she said with great humility, 'This is all we have left. It's yours.' She placed it on the ground in front of them. 'Your generosity, hospitality and endurance pleases Pab and Nan Dummat...' Their heads lifted with pride and a pleasant rumble of affection and respect was sent her way. Then she added, with a trembling smile, 'You are the Earth's blessed people...' She bowed low, then stepped forward to shake Hitock's hand, and as many of the other's that were pushed out towards her.

Hitock's wife walked towards her, and presented her with a multi-coloured hand woven mola. Bones accepted it with delight and a moved heart, clutching it to her chest. Booth was suddenly at her elbow, and whispered apologetically, 'We've gotta go, Bones, sorry.' She nodded to register him, then smiled wide at the small tribe, waving her goodbye.

As Bones turned on the engine the people began to chant a melodic traditional farewell from behind her, serenading them away. Bones felt her eyes dripping as she put her arm high into the air, saluting them, knowing she was unlikely to ever be able to return. Booth placed his hand on her thigh, and gave it a squeeze to comfort. She flicked him a watery glance, and smiled to cover for her sorrow.

Not seeing how moved Bones was, Kopinski didn't help her emotional state when he informed, 'They're singing your song, Rain Fresh. How cute is that?' Kopinski waved to the tribe happily as they hit the jungle, and were swallowed up by it.


Chapter XIX Departure Lounge

Bones and Kopinski were right back where they started. The airstrip was much the same as they had left it just over a week ago. She pulled up on the taxiway, still under the cover of the trees, and turned off the engine.

'Holy Mother Mary,' Booth said incredulously, with his eyes fixed on the aircraft's scattered blackened wreckage. Bones looked to him, knowing he was shocked to see the gouged runway and remnants of the plane. 'You walked away from that?' he asked rhetorically.

'It didn't look like that when we landed obviously, Booth.' Looking at her watch, she noted they had ten minutes to wait till zero hour. 'We should clear some tarmac of debris.' Booth agreed with a nod, and they both jumped out, and walked to the middle of the runway. They began tossing scrap metal to the sides and into the forest, clearing a wide circle.

Once done they walked back towards the jeep together. 'I've got one flare left. We shouldn't ignite it till we hear the helicopter. I don't want it to burn out before we know it's them, just in case,' she explained sensibly, but he noted her voice was strained with tension.

Booth took her hand, feeling it trembling in his. 'I think we should move in together when we get back,' he said brightly, attempting to distract her. 'What do you think?'

Bones smiled at him as they neared the jeep. 'So soon?'

'Hell yeah! Life's too short, Bones. Let's get all domestic.' He stopped, and pulled her into his warm comfortable embrace, grinning hard at her.

Bones caressed over his face with her smile and eyes, saying softly against his prickly lips, 'On one condition...' Booth lifted a brow, waiting for her condition. 'You never let your beard get this long again.'

As they kissed to seal the deal, the heavens opened and drenched them within seconds. They didn't care about the rain, too happy to notice. They changed angles, and squeezed each other a little tighter. They were oblivious to anything else, until they felt cold hard steel click at their temples. They opened their eyes, and stopped kissing, looking into each other's petrified eyes.

'Don't' move, or I'll order them to shot,' Xavier commanded softly, as he walked out of the scrub, while his two cohorts kept their guns at their temples. He walked closer, and silently instructed his men to restrain them. Bones' captor, grabbed her ponytail, and ripped her backwards and away from Booth with a savage tug, that snapped her head back and staggered her. Booth's captor kicked the back of his knees, and he went down on them. Xavier stood between them with his hands casually behind his back. He looked to each partner, contemplating where to start. 'Temperance Bren-nan and See-ley Booth,' he droned slowly. 'You two have cost me dear... Four men dead at the compound.' He circled them slowly akin to a predatory shark. 'Several millions of dollars of pure cocaine up in smoke... Four months work, lost... A Plantation destroyed by fire.'

Bones glanced over to the jeep to see Kopinski with his arms up, and his rifle being cracked over the jeeps tail gate, and scuppered. While another man pointed his machine gun at him, hurriedly dispersing, and neutralising their visible weapons stash in the jeep.

Bones assessed; five heavily armed men against an injured Booth, immobilised Kopinski, and a near exhausted doctor, and no weapons, weren't good odds. So she bided her time as Xavier continued to remind them of his substantial losses.

'One stolen satellite phone... Two badly damaged jeeps... A motorbike-wrecked... My workers released... Then a very expensive helicopter and two more men and a very good pilot, dead...' Xavier walked behind Bones slowly, eying her up critically, lecherously. The rain was soaking thorough her t-shirt and tightened her nipples catching his roving eye. He placed his gun to her temple slowly, and cocked it, trying to provoke a reaction. He got one instantly but not from her, she was a cool as ice.

'No, don't!' Booth yelled at him.

Xavier smiled smugly, looking over to Booth, as he slowly licked up Bones' wet cheek like he was licking an ice cream. She snatched her head away from his furry tongue with disgust. 'Ummm. She is fresh like rain,' he drooled, flaring his eyes at Booth.

Looking to Booth, Bones saw the rage in his eyes at Xavier's action, and she glared at him to stay calm. However, seeing Booth's agitation, Xavier stepped a pace closer to Booth, then kicked him in the stomach, screaming, 'You don't fucking order me!' Booth crumpled over, groaned, and rolled to the tarmac on his side, gasping for breath, and clutching his stomach.

Bones gasped too, feeling his agony, and snapped, 'Leave him alone!'

Xavier came back to her, while Booth rolled onto all fours, trying to get up, but felt the barrel at the back of his head, so stayed on all fours. 'I've been searching for you for days, when I have other priorities right now.'

Bones tried to keep him talking, mentally ticking away the minutes till she heard the helicopter approach. 'Yes. The Conte are out to get you, systematically taking over your little empire, aren't they? I hear your days are numbered, maybe hours...'

Xavier was leering over her heaving breasts, not reacting to her provoking statements. Bones could see his eyes devouring her breasts and swallowed her revulsion. She could see in his eyes what he was going to do before he did it. Xavier did exactly what she suspected as he slid his land under her clinging t-shirt at her stomach, and pushed up it to her left breast, and squeezed. 'Umm. Lovely,' he drooled in her face, his severe halitosis was repellent to her. Bones tried to writhe away from his calloused palm, but was snapped into a neck lock by the man with a gun to her head, who reeked of sour body odour.

Booth sneered, seeing what he was doing to her, and felt every muscle tighten with abhorrence and rage.

Xavier kept groping her, as he said calmly, 'I was thinking earlier, while I waited for you to turn up, how could we square this?' He stood face to face with her, and sneered, 'I thought I could fuck you.' The stinking spittle gust from his mouth on the word fuck batted her lashes. 'But is your pussy worth fucking? Let's see how tight you are, shall we?' He slid his hand off her breast and down her wet belly, while looking into her flaming eyes. Booth grit his jaw as Bones struggled against the man restraining her.

'Touch me there, and you will die,' Bones said menacingly, through gritted teeth.

He laughed, 'Haa! Bold, very bold.' Then he snapped, 'Bitch!' as he pistol whipped her cheek. Bones' head snapped sideways, and she groaned in pain. Booth winced for her, seeing the spit skin bleed on her cheek bone. As she looked slowly back to Xavier, he saw murder in her wide piercing eyes. Calming again, he said, 'I like you, Temperance, you're feisty. I don't like him though; Resurrection Man.' He pointed his gun at Booth again, with a straight arm, preparing to fire.

'Rape-me-then, come on, Xavier!' Bones dared him, rushing her statement, hoping that would distract him and buy them more time. 'Or aren't you man enough to get it up in front of your minions?' Bones challenged his authority and inflated ego, knowing that by her attacking him it would humiliate, and weaken his position amongst his cohorts. It was a calculated risk but they had nothing left to lose. 'The first time you meet me, you fondle my breasts, that's a sign of a desperate, sex starved man, and yet your undersized penis is flaccid...'

Xavier snapped his head around, to look into her eyes, loosing his smug smile somewhat. Bones grinned, knowing she'd hit a raw nerve, so plucked at it, quickly assessing his demeanour, with her eyes flicking all over him, 'You're an amoral man well over fifty... maybe drink a little too much Tequila, Cuban cigar smoker... and snorting cocaine doesn't help anymore, does it? No wedding band worn for several years either. Wife left you for a younger, working model or did she OD?' Xavier looked stunned at her, while his minions looked nervously around to each other, and slightly embarrassed, knowing she was right on the mark.

Uncomfortable, Xavier changed his weight from one boot to the other, as she went on, 'Your unkempt, dirty appearance suggests you don't have a girlfriend to look after you or look good for. Why would you, you're quite repulsive to look at and your halitosis is a repugnant quality. Which no doubt makes you a social pariah... I suspect even masturbation is traumatic and difficult for you, if not impossible. And the wet dreams must be so humiliating... So fucking me, as you so eloquently put it, is out of the question. That's a professional opinion.' Booth grinned, wanting to applaud her. He mused, even his CIA extensive dossier fell way short of her remarkable insights.

Everybody looked up as a helicopter looped over the airstrip and then the firing started. The Conte had arrived.

Xavier snarled, incensed at being distracted, and went to pull the trigger close to her brow, just as she grabbed his hand with the gun, and steered the shot passed her skull, snapping her head away from its trajectory. It blew off the top of the skull of the man behind restraining her, and he dropped away harmlessly. Bones twisted Xavier around by his gun gripped hand, and grabbed him to her to shield herself from the shot fired from Booth's captor gun. It ripped open Xavier's stomach with a deep sounding thud by mistake. Xavier staggered back, then Bones and him fell back to the ground.

Booth meanwhile, slung his leg out, knocking his mortified stunned captor to the ground by taking his legs out from under him, and grabbed his gun. Booth shot him in the chest at point blank range. His body violently jerked up with the impact. Then Booth pulled his dying body over himself, and fired at the men by the jeep. They'd already ducked back in to the forest as the Conte helicopter was joined by a military one from a different direction. They met in the middle and swerved to miss each other in a blur and roar of shimmering blades, tumultuous downdrafts, and whining engines.

'You Ok?' Booth hollered to Bones, his eyes flashing this way and that, deciding what to do and where to go, as bullets whistled all around.

'Fine, dandy, you?' she asked, looking up from beneath the shaking death throes of Xavier to the dancing helicopters above. They were spinning around the airstrip, trying to avoid one another in a bizarre waltz, and each other's bullets. Their rescue helicopter was attempting to draw the fire of the other one, in a ritualistic ballet to protect the US citizens below.

'I think we might be rather exposed out here!' Bones understated adorably, watching as a line of bullets fired from a machine gun from Conte's helicopter, blasted a path in the tarmac towards their prone positions. Then those were closely followed by the low flight of the helicopter. 'Can't they see he's nearly dead?' Bones ducked as chunks of tarmac blew out like exploding popcorn around her. One piece imbedded itself in her thigh easily slicing through her pants, and she winced. 'Dammit,' she muttered.

Then they heard a yell from the direction of the jeep, it was Kopinski warning them, 'Boom-fuck-a-bang-bang!' Booth looked over to see Xavier's man crouched in the edge of the forest with a RPG-7 on his shoulder, and he was aiming at Conte's helicopter.

'Jeee-sus Christ! Down, Bones!' Booth yelled illogically, as she was as low as she could possibly be already covered by Xavier body. He smothered his body with Xavier's dead henchman. There was a loud swoosh over their heads as the rocket whizzed towards its target, leaving a white vapour exhaust behind it. The Conte's helicopter banked right steeply to avoid the incoming missile. The missile missed and disappeared into the forest, hit the canopy, and exploded harmlessly. Seeing the missiles, the rescue helicopter retreated to the far end of the runway, keeping clear.

While Xavier's men helped each other to reload the RPG, Kopinski scrambled over the front seats seizing his chance, laying flat on them, and swearing like a navvy with his pain. He pulled open the glove compartment, and pulled out two grenades missed by their search of the vehicle. He then reached to turn on the jeep, put it gear, and pushed the gas pedal with his thumping hand. The jeep shot forwards towards Booth, sending up rubber burnt smoke from the rear tires.

Booth rolled out of its path, fearing he was going to get run over but it screeched to a halt as Kopinski slammed his hand down on the brake pedal. Kopinski's quick thinking, had covered Booth so he could get up and into the vehicle. Booth wasted no time. He slipped in the back seat door, and reached over to the steering wheel, just as another ear splitting whoosh whistled passed their ears, and the rocket hurtled towards Conte's nearing firing helicopter. 'Gas!' he ordered to Kopinski. He did as ordered while Booth steered to Bones. 'Brake! Get-in!'

Bones whispered her sneered words in the ear of gurgling expiring Xavier, 'You picked the wrong Lady to mess with... You can die now.' Xavier's last visual image was of her livid eyes commanding him to agonising oblivion. Shoving him off her, she scrambled into the back seat behind Booth's back, and lay flat, panting, and clutching her injured leg.

'Gas!' Booth commanded, and spun the wheel hard to take them to the far end of the runway where their rescue helicopter was hovering, out of the cataclysm at the other end. Two Rangers were positioned on the ground, either side of the craft, covering them.

Halfway to safety Kopinski slammed his hand on the break, causing Booth to nearly hit the windshield at their abrupt halt. Booth looked down to him, questioning, 'What-the-hell?'

'You two are havin' all the fucking fun,' Kopinski said enviously, determinedly hauling himself up from the foot well. He ripped out a pin from one of the grenades, and hurled it back towards Xavier's men with a grunt, just as they fired another missile at Conte's helicopter.

The two explosions happened simultaneously. Xavier's men looked stunned, yet resigned as the small oval grenade bounced towards them, and blew them up and away into the forest in bits. The helicopter banked hard to avoid the missile but it hit their flank, and instantly exploded on contact. The helicopter slammed sideways with its impact, jarring, groaned its destruction, and imploded with a huge blood orange fireball.

Booth rushed to climb over the seat, and sat in the driver's side, pushing his toe cramping boot on the gas. He nudged Kopinski over to a sitting position beside him, saying, 'Nice pitch, Kopinski.' He smiled proudly back to Booth, satisfied he finally got to contribute something on this mission. They weaved up the runway towards the rescue helicopter, avoiding flaming tumbling shrapnel that accompanied them on either side. Two tires punctured on the old shrapnel but nothing was going to stop Booth from getting to their helicopter. He screeched to a halt five meters under the downdraft of the blades which were parting black acrid smoke from the other helicopter's fiery remnants.

'Booth, Kopinski and Doctor Brennan, I presume!' the smiling Ranger welcomed, saluting them respectfully. Booth jumped out of the jeep, with a huge beaming smile, shaking his hand, not feeling his fractures at all as the endorphins flooded his body. Kopinski was already helping himself into the helicopter with a little assistance from the other Ranger, asking if they had any beers.

Booth pointed to Bones. 'She needs...' Booth's smile dissipated, as he looked to her laying silent and still on the back seat. 'Bones, Oh. Fuck, Bones.' He went to her immediately, skimming his hands over her body and limbs, from shoulders to thighs, checking for injuries or bullet holes. 'Bones? Speak to me...' To his immense relief she smiled weakly, then opened her eyes, just. Reaching for his hand, she lifted her head up to look into him.

'Don't swear... And stop fondling me in front of these lovely soldiers. There's a time and place,' she chastised affectionately.

Booth grinned, and nodded a tad. 'Ok, Bones... D'ya need some help?' he asked sweetly, carefully easing her up to sit.

'Yes. I think I might,' she murmured reluctantly, exhausted cell deep and riddled with pain. Her hair was thick with rain, smoke, grit and brain matter strewn over her gaunt face. Her t-shirt was blood and sweat stained, dishevelled and grubby. Her sodden dirty bandaged hands curled with agony, and trembled, while her left thigh housed a lump of melted tarmac and still bled. She was bruised, bullet scorched on her bleeding cheek, scabbed and looked half dead. He could see she'd given the other half of her life to him, and that life coursed through his veins now. She'd mended him, fed his soul with herself, voluntarily reducing herself to this. As she was assisted gently into the helicopter, Booth thought she was finest thing he'd ever laid eyes on or ever would. He bit the inside of his cheek, attempting not to cry, while he collected her pack and mola gift from the battered, bullet holed jeep, but he failed. He wasn't sure about the Kuna being blessed but he knew for certain that she was.

Booth wiped his eyes, before he got into the helicopter. He heard on entry her ask groggily, 'Where's, Booth?' He saw a medic had just injected her arm with morphine, and felt relief swamp him, he couldn't bear the trip back seeing her in pain.

'I'm here, Bones,' he eased, sitting next to her, and taking her into his embrace, cuddling her close to his chest. She relaxed into him, with a passive sigh, nodding.

'Oh. Good, that's good. You're ok.'

He encouraged her to relax now with, 'Shhh. Sleep, yes, I'm ok.'

'I'm going to miss Panama so much. It's so beautiful...' she said sleepily, looking out of the doors as they skimmed over the top of the steaming emerald canopy. Booth grinned, thinking her temporarily insane, and pecked her damp hair.


Chapter XX Home Sweet Home

A military hospital facility somewhere near Washington DC.

Andrew opened Booth's hospital room door and it hit something on the other side, so he peered around the door. 'What the hell are you doing, Booth?'

'Come on, help me wheel my bed into Bones' room,' he said secretively, dragging his intravenous drip stand with him. The bed was covered with his tatty clothes, a bowl of fruit and small wash bag.

'I don't think that's allowed; two people in one room,' Andrew said, dubious of his decision to help move him. The look he got from him for pointing that out could have stripped paint, it was so caustic.

Then Booth was off, 'I'm not spending another night away from her. It's cruel, I tell ya. These fascist nurses don't understand what we've been through. If you're not gonna help just get out the way!' He waved him aside frantically, and shoved the bed again, hitting the door frame.

Taking pity, Andrew threw his file he'd bought with him on the bed, and pulled it through the doorway, saying, 'I came to speak to you both anyway. It will save me telling you both the same thing independently.'

While Andrew justified his assistance to him, Booth grinned, deliriously happy now, as they sailed down the corridor towards her room.

'Didn't you bring her flowers today?' Booth asked, with his hospital gown flowing open at the back, revealing his naked butt to Andrew, who closed one eye, trying not to notice.

'I brought her some yesterday when you got here,' Andrew said indignantly.

'Well you could've brought more! What am I gonna give her now, eh?' he said just as indignantly, reprimanding Andrew for his lack of forethought.

'Do you want me to bring some tomorrow then?'

'Tsk! No, it's too late now...' Booth flashed him a disgusted look, then asked hopefully, 'Chocolates maybe?' Andrew shook his head, and pushed harder, annoyed with him now.

'Agent Booth! What! Do you think you're doing?' Booth looked back behind Andrew, seeing the fascist barrel-like matron on short legs, and grimaced.

'Crap, run, quick!' Booth instructed hastily, pulling the bed faster, as the po-faced matron began to walk quickly towards them, her cheeks flushing.


'Sweetie, this is so romantic, he's gonna love it when he see's you push your bed into his room. Shall I lock the wheels?' Ange asked excitedly, manoeuvring the bed away from the wall with her.

'Romantic? It's practical, Ange, and will save us running up and down the corridor when we should be resting.'

'Yeah, right, totally not romantic to want to be beside him constantly while you recover,' Ange said sarcastically, then clarified, 'You just got through telling me you didn't sleep well last night, that you missed his touch and kisses.' Bones blushed, and dropped her eyes from Ange's.

'Ok, I concede, when you say it like that, it does sound a little romantic.'

'Mind your drip, put the stand on the bed and your pack. Shall we take him some flowers too, you have plenty? He doesn't have any in his room, just fruit.' Ange held a filled vase over the bed, with an encouraging sweet smile.

Bones grimaced, knowing he wouldn't appreciate them, saying, 'I'd prefer the fruit and didn't get any. Left a bit, Ange. Ok, push.' They stood shoulder to shoulder, and pushed against the door as it pushed inside and they jolted to a halt. Ange rushed to see what the obstruction was and was met by an agitated Booth.

'Let us in! Matrons coming,' he said, barging in the door past her. Ange and Andrew exchanged charmed high eyebrow flicks at the pair's behaviour, as she helped Andrew in with the bed.

Booth was around Bones already, grinning madly, and peppering her face lips and throat passionately. 'Missed you,' he muttered desperately.

Bones muttered back, just as relieved to hold him again, kissing him between each sentence, 'I was just coming to you. Couldn't sleep. You feel so warm. How are you?'

'Fine. God, Bones. I couldn't sleep either. How's your hands, leg, arm, everything?'

'Fine, fine. Are you in any pain?' Bones ran her hands down his arms to his hands to check them.

He embraced her hard again, whispering on her lips, kissing between every word, 'No, not now. Umm. Not now, umm, I'm holding you.' Bones ran her fingertips over his clean shaven face, and down his throat to his shoulders then rested them on his heart, calming slightly for having him close again. She adored that he was being so sentimental as she'd said he could be when they got to safety.

'You've shaved,' she remarked softly, rubbing her cheek against his smooth skin, with her eyes closing, kissing him blindly.

'I made 'em do it for ya. That scary matron bed bathed me too.' Bones started to laugh softly, smooching his lips sultrily. 'She had rough hands, not like you wash me either.' Bones grinned seductively at him, remembering. 'I brought you fruit,' he said apologetically, handing her a bunch of white grapes off his bed. Their beds were now positioned side by side, courtesy of Hacker and Ange.

'Ooohw. How lovely. I was just saying how much I wanted fruit, more than all these flowers,' she cooed, kissing him again, deeply touched he'd brought her something. Booth felt his heart soar that she was so pleased with the meagre offering of grapes.

'Oooh. For God sake you two, give it a rest.' Ange grinned, charmed by the love struck pair, and Andrew's comment to them being so openly romantic. Which seemed a little excessive, especially as it was less than twelve hours since they last saw one another.

The frightening matron bellowed, as she came strutting into the room, 'I will not have this on my ward! It's against regulations! Male and female patients are to be kept separate!'

Andrew stepped up immediately, with a charming smile, and placed his hand on her shoulder, saying gently, 'Matron. We understand the regulations are there for a noble purpose. However, these two patients will find a way, somehow to be together, regulations or not. Just this once, I implore you, be lenient, even, turn a blind eye?' She huffed, narrowing her eyes at the pair, engaged in a deep slow French kiss, oblivious to Andrew's conversation. He edged her towards the door gently, opening it slowly, 'I need to debrief them. So could you please leave us alone so that can take place? I'll make sure they rest.'

'That's not resting,' she said fractiously, nodding in their direction, starting to leave though.

'No, no, it isn't to you or me, but to them, it's caaalm-ing each other,' he told her airily. 'They've had a traumatic experience and a little kissing is healing, surely?'

'Humm.' Matron quirked her lips, not convinced of his logic. 'Well, get them into bed then. And I don't want any sex on my ward!'

Snagging his head back, faking shock, Andrew said huffily, 'I should think not, perish the thought! I'll give them strict instructions. Have no fear. Thank you, Matron.'

The matron left muttering under her breath, as Andrew closed the door behind her. Ange gave him a round of soft applause, while he grinned smugly. 'Nicely done, Andrew.'

Adjusting his tie, he agreed, 'I was rather good, wasn't I?' Ange huffed a chuckle at his preening. Then they both looked to the pair who were still kissing, but were now laying on the beds alongside each other. 'Maybe we should come back later. My thing can wait.'

'I think it wise. They seem quite involved.' Ange rose up a few inches on her toes to see their sweet lip lock continuing in gentle earnest.

'Yeeerrsss,' Hacker droned, thinking. Then he saw Bones' pack, and went to it. He began rummaging, taking out her tool belt first. Ange's eyes popped out on stalks, when she saw the evil looking machete, then the large pen-knife and semi handgun.

'What ya looking for?' She got no answer as next out was a punctured kilo of cocaine. 'Ooo. Party favours. I'll take that,' she said, with a wry smile, holding her hand out. Hacker laughed, shoving it in his suit pocket, reaching deep this time.

Hacker smiled, as he pulled out her video camera, and took out the memory chip, then popped it in his pocket, saying quietly to Bones on the bed, putting everything back, 'I've taken the memory chip from your camera.' Bones just slipped a leg over Booth's thigh, and continued to kiss him, clearly not caring. 'We'll come back later then,' Hacker said finally. Not getting a discernable reply, they both left them to it.


Chapter XXI Never In Panama

Booth and Bones sat with their backs up on plumped pillows, caressing each other's hands, and playing footsy under the soft clean covers and sheets. Bones rested her head on Booth's shoulder while Andrew sat at the end of their now huge bed.

Andrew opened the file he'd brought with him, looked inside it briefly, then spun it around, and showed it to them. Booth and Bones' brows furrowed, seeing nothing written on the CIA headed pages. Andrew smiled warmly on seeing their confusion.

'This is what I've come to explain... nothing,' he began quietly. 'The last eighteen days never happen to you, either of you...' The partners exchanged glances, knowing instinctually what was coming next. 'Booth, you were never on a CIA, SAD sleeper list. You have never worked for a black op's counterterrorist group and now never will.' Booth understood that to mean he was no longer a sleeper or would ever be called upon to serve his country that way again. Bones' relief was palpable, so too was Booth's as he smiled at her.

Andrew went on, 'You were never contacted by a five star general three steps from the President of the United States. He never threatened you or your loved ones. Nor did he send you to a friendly nation called Panama to kill one of their, annoyances. You were never captured or tortured by a man called Xavier Lutross, nor were you rescued. You weren't there. You were never in Panama... However, you have been on vacation to Peru walking the Inca trail though.' Booth nodded solemnly been given his cover story. Then Andrew turned his attention to Bones.

'Temperance,' he said affectionately, giving her a sweet smile. 'You never hired a Lear jet, and had it striped down to its bare bones at your own expense.' Booth looked to Bones, with his jaw dropping. Bones didn't move or look to Booth, preferring to keep her eyes on Andrew. 'Nor did you survive a plane crash, and risk your own life two further times to re-enter it, to save the co-pilot's life by performing surgery on his fractured femur. You didn't administer medicine to the Kuna tribes in Panama nor did you save a baby's life. You never released eight enslaved men back to their families in the jungle. You never blew up a cocaine compound or plantation, nor did you destroy enough pure cocaine to supply Miami's addicts for a year. You never killed or shot anyone... Nor did you blow up a helicopter... And you never rescued and brought home safely two US Rangers called Seeley Booth or Toby Kopinski.' Bones looked to Booth, then dipped her head, to rest it on his chest again. Andrew added, 'Interestingly though, you went to Peru and walked the Inca trail for your vacation. Where you, coincidently met up with your FBI partner where your romance blossomed.'

The mixed emotions coming off the two partners was not missed by Andrew. They knew YKW would never be exposed, just set out to pasture quietly, thereby saving the US and the President any embarrassment and both would be untarnished. Bones knew that as Hacker had eulogised her acts of bravery, ingenuity and compassion they were indeed noted but would never be recognised officially or spoken of again. But all of that left a bad taste in her mouth, not that she wanted recognition, having Booth safe was her sole purpose for all that. But she did want to see justice served on YKW, which she knew would not materialise now.

Before she could make her feelings known, Andrew started talking again, with a brighter smile, 'What I am at liberty to tell you is, and this is by personal permission, never to be repeated and instantly forgotten.' Booth and Bones sat up a little, eager to hear.

'When I thought you had perished in the plane crash, Temperance I did as you asked. I searched your apartment, Booth and found the documents you'd gathered on YKW then went to the appropriate man with them.' Booth and Bones knew the man he was referring to was the President.

'This man's advisors were in a difficult position though, as you can imagine. It was a shock that someone so high up could have been unnoticed for so long. These advisors came up with two plans depending on results. If you failed, Temperance, no further action would have been needed, clearly. An unfortunate plane crash in the jungle visiting the tribes of the Darien Gap would have taken you life, just like we discussed before you left.' Bones nodded, recalling the conversation. Booth looked to her, and kissed her brow, yet again, overawed by her willingness to sacrifice herself for him.

'However, if Temperance was successful in recovering you, I was to be given every available assistance to bring you all home in secret. There was to be a cover story for the operations, and all records deleted and personal bank accounts reset. Ok. This is where I took a chance on you, Temperance...' Bones tilted her head, queering him with her intrigued brow lift.

'Go on,' Booth said eagerly, desperate to hear more.

Hacker changed position, and smiled a little wider, saying quietly, 'When you called me and you'd discovered Booth was not in that compound. I went to the man's advisors again. I told them you'd found Booth alive and were bringing him home.' Bones grinned, and reached for Hacker's hand, and gave it a squeeze to thank him for his loyalty and confidence in her to find him.

'So, the second of the two plans was immediately put into action. Xavier had already been tipped off that you were coming after him, Booth because YKW wanted you dead for obvious reasons. He squealed like a drowning rat once we got him in, the old faggot,' Hacker said dismissively, waving his elegant manicured palm in the air.

'Yeah, we guessed that,' Booth said, leaning to get the grapes, and put them on his lap. Bones pinched them off the vine, and popped them, one by one into her mouth. Booth did the same, listening intently to Hacker.

'Anyway, one man in the Panamanian government was informed that a gang war was about to start in Darien province between two factions and he was not to intervene. As a courtesy to the US, he agreed.' Booth and Bones knew he referring to the president of that US friendly nation.

'Then we did three things. One, we leaked to the Panamanian Secret Service that YKW was exposed here in the US and he was to be secretly impeached. Two, we leaked the name of the gang that paid YKW to kill Xavier.'

'What was the third thing?' Bones asked curiously.

'We watched the jungle, and waited for you to make contact... Fort Sharman was put on stand by for a possible extraction at that landing strip or wherever you happened to pop up.'

'When you say, watched?' Booth asked slowly, narrowing his eyes, fearing what they'd watched. Hacker grinned wide, and shook his head, dropping his eyes from theirs. 'Oooh, Jesus. You didn't?'

'Didn't what?' Bones asked, not catching up fast enough.

'We didn't see anything! Well, not reea-lly. The surveillance satellite wasn't that detailed. It took us a while to figure out what was going on, when we realised, well...'

Bones gasped, finally catching up. 'An-drew!'

Andrew said, 'Can we get back on track here? The digital tapes are destroyed so you've nothing to concern yourselves about. The last piece of evidence was destroyed this morning; your video dairy chip...' he explained, sounding utterly professional. Then with a wry smile, and a waggle of his brows at Bones, he asked carefully, 'How are your knees, Booth?'

Bones' jaw dropped again, and she glanced to Booth whose grin was inching across his lips. Bones smacked Booth's stomach and then Hacker's knee in reprimand as the men began to snigger.

Booth hugged her closer, looking deep into her shimmering eyes. 'They're fine. I'm used to being brought to my knees by Bones.' She kissed him softly, blushed by his worshiping smile and devotional words.

Hacker continued brightly, 'So, the US and Panamanian Government waited for Xavier and Conte to wipe themselves out, stop production for a while and shipping their cocaine. All of which has happened while they have tried to wipe the other off the face of the planet. The Panamanian's caught a mole in their secret service and are dealing with him in their own way. And us, a corrupt politician... Both governments have plausible deniability and the cover stories are in place...All is well,' he concluded with a huge reassuring smile.

'What about the flight plans, the equipment that was lost or destroyed, the paper trail?' Bones asked innocently, still concerned.

Hacker put his palms up to calm her, saying, 'Let me just say, this cover up is one of many in our history, it wasn't the first and certainly won't be the last. Have no fear, Temperance, they know what they're doing.'

Booth gave her another little squeeze, and nodded to reassure her too, knowing how these things worked. After she relaxed a little more in his cuddle, convinced, Booth asked, 'Kopinski?'

'Down the corridor. He's fine and debriefed. Poor guy, broke his leg in a training accident I hear...' The partners smiled, understanding his cover story. 'The pilot, Chuck Drago while on a secret diplomatic mission perished in an unfortunate plane crash in the jungle en route to Columbia. He is to be awarded a posthumous medal for bravery, and his family will be taken care of. His sacrifice will not be forgotten.'

Bones enquired, 'And YKW? What will happen to him?'

'Oh. Yes! I understand he's retired from political office on health grounds. He says the climate in DC is not conducive to his rheumatism, sadly.' Andrew paused for effect, then said casually, 'So he's retiring to Panama of all places...' Andrew held their astonished gazes, with a delicate handsome smile curling his lips, then he got off the bed to leave. Booth and Bones knew YKW wouldn't last a month there, and they had their justice, of sorts. They smiled at one another, then kissed as Hacker went to leave.

'I'll pop in again tomorrow. Oh!' Hacker turned, as they stopped kissing briefly, 'Almost forgot, our man says, thank you, as does the other man,' he said sincerely. 'And...' Hacker reached inside his Italian cut navy suit, and handed Bones an envelope with nothing written on it. 'See ya tomorrow.'

'Thanks, Andrew!' Bones called after him, as he'd already closed the door, taking his empty file with him.

'Open it,' Booth urged, intrigued to know what was inside. Bones ripped open the blank envelope, and tipped its contents into her hand. It was a set of dog tags on a long silver belcher chain and a compliments slip with nothing written on it either. The small motif in the top left hand corner was the insignia of the Rangers. Bones read the tag stamps in silence, caressing her thumb over the plate slowly.

Booth read them aloud, 'Honorary Ranger. Lieutenant First Class Dr. T Brennan. (AKA, Lady Croft) B+, 333388338-1.' Bones felt her eyes well as he added proudly, 'Cool... and richly deserved.'


The following day.

Ange stood in the corridor with her arms crossed over a DVD movie of Tomb Raider, not looking very amused, as she tapped her toe impatiently. She was surrounded by a gaggle of muttering nurses and a couple of concerned doctors in white coats clutching clip boards. She spotted Hacker nearing with a box of chocolates in one hand and a basket of fruit in the other.

'What's going on?' Hacker asked of Ange.

'They can't get in. The door's stuck, the locks jammed or something. Matron has gone to get the key.' With that, Matron came barrelling back down the corridor at a sprightly pace, and ushered people away self importantly.

She pushed the key in, and turned the lock. 'Oh. It's open...' She forced the handle down to open it but it wouldn't budge.

Ange, sensing some other reason for the door not opening, grinned, saying, 'I'd leave them if I were you.'

'Nonsense! We have work to do, they maybe incapacitated or unconscious. They're not well, you know? Break it down...' She motioned to Hacker, implying he should do it. He looked as if that was not going to happen any time soon. The matron huffed, and pushed her sleeves up. 'Step back, back all of you.'

'I wouldn't if I were you,' Ange warned again, getting amused, knowing what they were going to find inside. However, she was completely dismissed.

The fat stout lady ran at the door side on, hitting it hard with her shoulder, and fell in forcing the chair lodged behind it away. Silence fell and everybody peered inside the room.

The white privacy curtain was around their beds and silence filled the room. Ange's brow furrowed, and she felt a tweak of panic, thinking that maybe there was something wrong. The matron ripped aside the curtain, then screeched like car tires, staggered back, and fell into Hacker's already full arms, fainting with shock.

'They looked well enough to me,' Hacker mumbled, staggering to hold the matron up.

Ange said arrogantly, 'Told ya. Nobody listen's to me.' A softly panting Bones was facing her, impaled on Booth's lap and he was sat up behind her, looking over her shoulder, stunned to see their gasping amused audience. A sweaty, dog tagged Bones snapped her hands over where they were joined, and grinned sheepishly. While Booth lifted his hands off her breasts a little, to twinkle a wave at them all.

'I think we should come back later,' Ange said, waving everybody out briskly. The giggling rabble turned tail, and left the room. Then last out, a blushing Hacker, dragging the still unconscious Matron out backwards, scraping her clumpy heels. He silently mouthed his apologies to the partners as he went.

'As you were,' Ange cooed pleasantly, winking at them, as she closed the door gently behind her. As she walked away, she heard laughter coming from behind the door, and thought that was just about the right ending.



Four months and one day after the events that never happened in Panama.

Men are creatures of habit. They get settled and comfortable in their routine, when they really shouldn't. Especially this man. He's been happy to walk from his apartment to the row of bustling shops to purchase his cigars and collect The Washington Post everyday. At the same time everyday for the last seven days, and more than likely for a lot longer than that. He might drop in the bakers for a loaf or one of those sweet cakes he's partial to. But he still walks back the same way, crosses the square, sits in his favourite cafe, reads his paper from cover to cover, whilst sipping a dark coffee. He wears sunshades and smokes a fat cigar. Habit, see?

I've noticed he rarely tips the busy waiter, or acknowledges him when he delivers his coffee. Arrogance and indifference, that's what that is. He thinks he's superior and gives off that aloof air. If you're trying to fade into the background and be unnoticed, that's not the way to act. Believe me, people notice and remember rudeness more than politeness, fact.

Then there's the other habit he exhibits. This one I loathe. When a handsome young man walks past, he drops his chin, looks over his sunshades, and watches him pass. Then he licks his lips, and scratches himself between his legs, or adjusts himself. I'm not a homophobe, far from it, but this one I don't like. Which makes my job easier on my conscience. I'll not lose sleep on this one, oh no. I have a score to settle for something, someone, a quiet score no one will know about, ever. Which is how I like it.

There he goes, dropping his chin and leering after that... Oooh. He's just a boy. Eleven, twelve maybe?

See? Not a nice man...

I've often wondered, do they hear the shot before they drop? Is there a instant of realisation of what's happening to them just before? I'm told, not, but I wish there was. My shot won't echo off the crumbling walls of this pretty sun drenched, cobbled square. My shot will be silenced and if I do this right, he won't even fall off his chair.

Let's see what you look like through my crosshairs. Perfect.

Are you nervous? Can you feel my eyes on you? Do you know what's coming? No, course you don't. You've got comfortable, cocky and think you're safe this far south... You think nobody cares who you are, who you've been or what you've done. I know though. The lives you've taken and ruined are incalculable. Your motive? Money. How trite.

Times up. You've had your day and your last sip of excellent Columbian coffee. Now, take your last smoke filled breath in the warm sunshine.


Job done...


Authors Notes: A little different from my usual fluffiness but I hope you still enjoyed ass kicking Bones in this piece of fiction. If you did, and you're so inclined, please feel free to review. (Even if you didn't) Hugs all round, Lebxeb. XX