Oppressive heat seared at her skin, the air clogged and thick with chemicals that fairly oozed down her nose and throat with every breath that she took. Shifting slightly, Temperance grimaced as her body protested and silently began an inventory of the damage.
Fractured right radius and ulna, broken clavicle and at least three broken ribs with two or more severely bruised with possible internal trauma from the blast wave. Temperance lifted her head sluggishly and tilted it experimentally. A dizzying sensation and sickening lurch in her stomach confirmed her fear. A severe concussion as well. Her attempts to move further were halted by the numbing pressure on her waist. Bleary eyes stared at the large metal beam partially obscured by darkness and smoke in incomprehension for several seconds before Temperance realised the rather permanent end she had narrowly escaped. Any further thoughts were interrupted by a familiar voice calling her name.
"Bones! Bones, where are you?" Temperance sagged in relief, her mind still spinning aimlessly as she tried to work out what had happened to cause such a disaster of epic proportions. After allowing herself to revel in the relief for a moment or two, Temperance drew an agonising breath through the stabbing pain of her ribs.
"Over here, Booth!" she cried weakly, cursing her bruised and broken ribs for hindering her attempt. Despite the lack of power in her cry however, it appeared the noise was enough and soon the debris that she lay half buried under began to shift. Several endless minutes later, the air was thick enough that breathing was becoming extremely difficult before the worried face of her partner appeared in her line of sight. He was covered in blood from a head wound and his clothing had been shredded and burnt to scraps that barely covered his modesty, several bleeding lacerations open to the air beneath. Uncaring of that however, he worked furiously with two other indistinct figures until he had enough room to get to her.
"Hey, Bones, I gotcha. What's your status?" he asked. Temperance blinked as she gathered her concentration before she rattled off her injuries, belatedly remembering to add the concussion when she brutally suppressed the urge to vomit, likely avoiding further trauma to her ribs. "Okay, that's good, Bones. No major untreatable wounds. Let's get you out from under there then, huh?" When Temperance gave a slow, careful nod, he grinned at her, the whites of his teeth seeming startlingly bright in the flickering lights of the fires.
"What about the fires?" Temperance ground out as the movement of the steel beam aggravated her ribs.
"Esposito! Careful, goddamnit!" Seeley roared as he turned away briefly. "The fire department is here and is tackling everything. They tried to get me to leave," he added, his lips twisting with the force of his displeasure. "I ignored 'em anyway. No way was I gonna leave getting you out to some New York fireman fresh out of the academy!"
"Thanks, Booth," Temperance muttered through her gritted teeth, trying to communicate with her eyes how grateful she was that he had returned for her. Seeley winked jovially in reply, though his eyes were grave and angry. Temperance knew it was likely directed at both himself and the perpetrator of the incident, though she could not recall exactly how they had gotten into such a situation. Seeley braced his legs astride her hips as he lent his not inconsiderable strength to the efforts in lifting the beam off of her. When it had lifted enough, a thin, blue eyed man wearing a badly damaged NYPD ballistic vest gently reached under her and pulled her out and over to a reasonably clear area.
"Hiya," he greeted with a grin full of bravado. "Nice to meet you under better circumstances! I'm Detective Kevin Ryan, NYPD." Temperance noticed his hands shaking with adrenaline as he slowly helped her to her feet.
"Doctor Temperance Brennan, I'm Booth's partner," Temperance replied. Kevin chuckled.
"Oh I know. FBI guy over there sure raised a hell of a stink to get back in here. Let's go before we die from smoke inhalation though, okay?" Temperance managed a smile of acquiescence and had just placed her good arm over the detective's shoulder when Seeley loomed out of the darkness, a swarthy Mexican man, also wearing an NYPD ballistics vest, supported over his shoulders and coughing weakly.
"Let's go," he commanded grimly after a cursory glance around the area. Fire fighters were swarming the different fires, the smoke rising up out of the gaping chasm that had once been the roof of the warehouse, destroyed in the blast that had caused all the damage. The foursome limped their way outside in silence, passing several fire trucks and a small army of NYPD officers until they arrived at a pair of ambulances with empty beds. Kevin helped Temperance up onto one of the beds before giving her an apologetic smile and hurrying over to Seeley and his partner, presumably the man called Esposito that Seeley had yelled at. In turn, Seeley returned to her and stood nervously by as the EMT checked her over.
"Don't bother, I can tell you my injuries," Temperance protested as the middle-aged man flashed a pen torch in her eyes. Seeley chuckled and leaned against the bed next to her.
"Let him do his job, Bones, okay? Please?" His dark brown eyes bored into hers pleadingly. Temperance pursed her lips in annoyance, but held off further protests and coolly answered the medic's questions until he was satisfied and confirmed that she would have to go to a hospital.
"What happened?" Temperance asked after being loaded into the ambulance, spotting that the two detectives that had helped retrieve her were also being loaded into the other van.
"A total clusterfuck, that's what happened," Seeley muttered, clearly reigning in the majority of his anger for her sake. "What do you remember?" he asked.
"Not much," Temperance admitted. Seeley nodded and sighed as the EMT turned his attentions to cleaning the blood off of his face and stemming the bleeding from his head wound.
"Okay, so you remember that we had the case in New York, the one where the body was found entombed in the bridge supports?" When Temperance nodded, Seeley continued. "We tracked the perp to a human trafficking ring and went for the bust. Sadly, the higher ups forgot to check with the NYPD. Apparently, on the other side of the building, they were also making an entrance for a raid. Both of us came in from opposite ends of the warehouse, the perp and his buddies panicked and started a fire fight. Course, we're handicapped by the crossfire, so it's a stalemate, until one of the bastards decides to cut his losses and jump ship. Only to cover his ass, he sets off some kind of device piled in with whatever merchandise they were looking to move. Lucky there was a stalemate, or we'd have been closer and would be dead."
Temperance stared at the ceiling of the ambulance in silence, ignoring the fire in her side or the angry throbbing of her arm and collar bone in favour of processing.
"I'm very glad we did not die, Booth," she stated after several minutes, her blue eyes boring into her partner's earnestly. Seeley cracked a smile in response.
"Me too, Bones. Me too."
The hospital was as Temperance expected, though the police at every corner was somewhat surprising. "Anti-terror response," Seeley explained upon seeing her confusion. Once they arrived in trauma however, they were separated for treatment, Temperance having her ribs wrapped, arm placed in a cast and shoulder slung to avoid jarring her collarbone and Seeley having his wounds cleaned and stitched, along with a set of hospital scrubs to replace his own destroyed clothing.
Finally, after what seemed hours of being poked, prodded and asked dozens of questions over and over, they found themselves in a small private ward, several other beds shielded by privacy curtains.
"Hey, Booth?" Temperance started, having coerced Booth into drawing back the privacy screen between their two beds.
"Yeah, Bones?" Seeley replied, watching her carefully.
"There were chemicals in the air. I could taste them. It is possible that severe side-effects could occur due to our exposure. The doctor I spoke to said that they are doing all the tests that they can to try and pinpoint what we were exposed to, but it will be a massive dose. I am extremely confident that side-effects will develop in the next seven to ten days," Temperance confessed, her face solemn. Seeley swallowed in trepidation before forcing a tight smile.
"Well, I'll be right next to you, whatever happens, okay, Bones?" he stated firmly. Temperance allowed herself to give him a tremulous smile, even as tears welled in her eyes.
"What sort of side-effects?" a strange male voice spoke from one of the other beds on the ward, startling the pair of them. Temperance exchanged a glance with Seeley for a moment before he haltingly got to his feet and further drew back the curtain to discover their neighbours. Directly opposite temperance's bed, propped up and swathed in bandages from finger to shoulder, sat a sandy-haired man with vivid blue eyes. A drip disappeared under his bandages from where it hung at his bedside. "Hi," he greeted with a crooked grin that seemed a little too wide. He glanced between the pair of them before blinking, his eyes slightly glassy.
"Oh, sorry! Where are my manners? Patrick Jane, consultant with the California Bureau of Investigation. I was at the warehouse too," he added, raising his mummified arms and peering at them curiously. "I also happen to be on quite a lot of morphine, so this doesn't hurt at the moment," he explained with a smile.
"Ignore him, it really does help." A wry woman's voice interjected. Another curtain drew back, this one directly opposite Seeley's bed. "Senior Agent Theresa Lisbon, CBI," she introduced. Temperance examined her for a moment.
"You have excellent bone structure," she complimented diplomatically. Theresa blinked, nonplussed.
"Bones!" Seeley groused with exasperation. "Really?"
"It seemed a good way to diffuse the tension," Temperance defended, frowning in annoyance at his embarrassment. A laugh cut off any further reply as Patrick turned to Theresa.
"I like her, she's very honest!" he grinned. Theresa groaned and allowed herself to sink back onto the bed.
"God, Jane on painkillers, the world is doomed," she muttered. Another laugh, deeper and full of amusement echoed around the ward as a tall brown haired man pulled back the last two privacy screens, revealing a woman reclining on the bed and glaring at him in annoyance.
"It seems we're all getting acquainted, so I thought we'd join the party. I'm Richard Castle, consultant with the NYPD and my partner, the lovely Detective Kate Beckett, currently indisposed." Rick said with a flourish and a wink in Kate's direction.
"Castle," Kate growled warningly. Temperance blinked in surprise, an eyebrow rising as recognition set in.
"Hi, Rick," she said with an idle wave of her left arm. Rick goggled as he got a good look at her for the first time.
"Tempe?" he asked, seemingly stupefied. Temperance gave a careful nod, grimacing after the world lurched in response.
"You know this guy, Bones?" Seeley asked, frowning at the other man suspiciously.
"Yes, Booth, he's a writer, like me. It appears he also helps to 'catch bad guys,'" she quoted. "He has a flair for the dramatic, but his writing is compelling. You are a little over light on procedurals, though," Temperance said to Rick.
"So you keep telling me at every convention," rick replied, looking amused. "Well, this is a turnout, isn't it?"
"You were talking about side-effects first of all however; I'd like to get back to that please?" Patrick interjected. Over in her bed, Theresa covered her face with one hand in dismay. Temperance blinked, pulled out of her surprised contemplation.
"Oh, yes. Depending on the chemical that we were exposed to, it is highly likely that we could develop severe dermal lesions leading to cancers of various types, possible blindness, the development of any type of breathing condition, muscle atrophy or even a compromised immune system shortly followed by death. To name a few possible side-effects," she added. Everyone stared, their faces pale.
"You don't sugar-coat it, do you?" Theresa said at last. Temperance favoured her with an annoyed look.
"What would be the point? The more aware you all are of the possible side-effects, the sooner you might catch them and report them to the doctors and receive any treatment available. It is far better to make you aware of the situation than keep you in the dark as some form of 'kindness.' That's not kindness, it's cruelty." Silence pervaded after her statement as everyone became lost in thought. At length, Kate spoke up, her voice rough and raspy.
"We're totally fucked, aren't we?"
Author's note: Here's chapter 2! Hope you all like it! All thoughts are welcome and will be used to fuel my further creative drive! Remember, feedback: it's the coin of the realm!