Here's the next chapter! Thanks again to all reviewers and story alert-ers!

Disclaimer: I do not own anything!

A/N: This chapter finally lays out what Booth will have to deal with and the cause for his eventual closeness and then separation from Bones and the rest of the Squints. Also, since I like to be as factually based and correct as possible, I actually researched the roads and directions in this chapter. I am also very familiar with Virginia. So, this said, you can expect whatever other facts in the rest of the story, such as the anthropological aspects of the investigation, to be true. And just as a side note, I am in the process of researching all I can about fighting tactics as well as sniper tactics and porcedures, as Booth's sniper and soldier skills will come into play later in the story.

Casus Belli

Cause Of War

"Follow the I-95 interstate road until you come to exit 50."

"From there proceed to the location we have previously given you and told you to memorize."

"The place that you arrive at is not the final location. You will then exit your vehicle and walk to the old phone booth nearby. There you will find the directions to proceed to the next checkpoint."

Booth got out of the black Tahoe, stepping on the arid ground carefully, wary of his surroundings. Brown eyes that had served him immeasurably as a sniper now searched the mostly flat terrain, looking for signs of movement. A slight wind blew dirt around, the brown compound attaching itself to his pant legs as he walked. He hated that they'd sent him to a mostly lonely area, but then again, what was he to expect of criminals who even hid the true timbres of their voices?

The Special Agent strode to the abandoned phone booth, or what was left of it. A rusted pole and a rusted box on top was all that was there, phone long gone.

Booth swallowed dryly. There would be no one here to offer help if needed. No one to provide witness to any events that could transpire. Looking into the empty box that had once housed a telephone, Booth found what he'd been searching for. He removed the paper, reading the instructions printed on it circumspectly.

Advance to the next address. It is printed on the back of this page. Memorize it as you have memorized the previous instructions. You have an hour to reach the next location. It is then that we will finally meet, dear Agent Booth. But I'm afraid that our little hiding place doesn't allow firearms. At least not those not carried by us. You will leave your weapon and your cell phones in the phone box. We are watching your every move. One of our associates will be passing by to collect your items. If they are not found in there, I'm afraid all negotiations will cease. You know what happens then…Drive safely.

Booth could almost hear the laughter at the last line. His stomach did flip flops, vigorously tumbling in displeasure. His throat seemed to close, heart wrenching at the internal debate he was holding with himself.

Should I leave my gun here? Should I really walk into whatever this is, defenseless?

Booth took out his weapon, weighing his options. Images of Bones swamped his mind. Heavily, the FBI Agent took the Glock and placed it into the phone box.

40 minutes.

Booth arrived at the deserted warehouse in forty minutes. He left his car slowly, closing the door with a slam and turning on the lock system with a click of his keys. Surveying the area, Booth spotted two shadows in the tall building's uppermost windows. Army training kicking in, he gazed everywhere with a close eye, instantly memorizing the basic layout of the terrain and the size and breadth of the building.

He approached the wide, double doors of the warehouse, briefly noticing movement in the upper windows where he'd first observed the two shadows.

The doors were open vaguely, a sliver of darkness tainting the sun soaked arid ground.

Booth was not one to feel fear easily. The seemingly inhuman inner strength that made him a force to be contended with usually won out over everything. But Booth was human. And humans have weaknesses.

And they've found mine, Booth thought grimly, clenching his fists and entering the old edifice despite the gut reactions that screamed at him to turn around and run.

Temperance became swiftly bored after the departure of her co-workers. The first to leave had been Booth, the last had been Angela. She frowned at the memory of Booth going outside to receive a call and then coming back in to say goodbye to leave.

"Do you need anything Dr. Brennan?" A nurse asked meekly, awkwardly humbled by the presence of a woman she idolized and whose books she swallowed up like food.

"No thank you, I'm quite comfortable."

Nurse Evelyn Carson nodded and turned to leave.

"Wait!" Brennan called at the last moment "Would you mind me posing some questions?"

"Not at all," Evelyn responded, trying to quell the bubbly excitement at furthering the chat with the world famous author.

"You saw the man that was in here correct? I mean the man in the black suit." Brennan added, seeing the need for specification once she remembered the presence of Sweets and Hodgins.

"Yes, I did see him."

"Would you happen to know how long he was here pervious to this visit? The day I was brought in I mean."

Evelyn thought for a moment. But it wasn't long. She clearly remembered the handsome man who'd come in with the writer and stubbornly refused to leave even when the doctor had threatened to call security.

"Well, from the time you were brought in to the time you awoke, I would have to say that he was in here for more than 24 hours."

"Who you talking about?" Another, older nurse asked politely, bringing with her a tray with food. Brennan resisted the urge to look disapprovingly at the items on the tray.

"About the guy that was with Dr. Brennan the day they brought her in."

"Oh that gentleman. If you must know, he was in here the whole time, never once left your bedside. The doctor was getting pretty mad when he wouldn't leave when visiting hours was over. You two must be pretty close."

Brennan flushed slightly as she responded, "Yes, we are partners. We work together on a daily basis so you can say that we are pretty proximate to each other."

The other nurse laughed, a light sound that reminded Brennan of Angela.

"You hang on to him now. He was here for a long time, never even batted an eyelash, the poor guy was so worried he stayed up the whole time just watching over you. I tell ya, honey, you can't find men like that these days. Nope. Now, Evelyn, come with me and let the good doctor rest."

Brennan smiled at them and thanked them for the information. Looking at the pudding cup that was on the tray, she took her cell phone and dialed Booth's number, for some reason needing to hear his voice.

Pick up Booth, pick up.

"You have reached Seeley Booth. Sorry I can't take the call right now. Please leave a message and I'll call back as soon as I can!"

Brennan closed her cell phone and opened the pudding, swirling the spoon in the white dessert and wishing that Booth were to steal the creamy treat.

"Well Agent Booth, I'm certainly glad that you managed to make it here. And in under an hour no less. Oh, and I apologize for your current position, but I'm afraid certain precautions had to be taken, considering your lack of…silent cooperation." The masked man walked closer to Booth, leaning against a table behind him. A single light bulb produced a short-diameter circle of light in the room. Booth strained against the handcuff that bound him to the chair. He turned a groggy yet angry glower at the man whose identity was still an unknown.

"First you force me to come here, then you knock me out with a spray drug and then you handcuff me to a fucking chair. What do you want?"

"You get right to the point don't you? I like that. I'm sure such impatient determination will come in handy when you start on your services for us."

"What in hell makes you think that I will do any-"

"They do." The man grinned savagely, turning on more lights. The previously darkened area behind the table flooded with light, revealing the region to Booth's eyes. Photographs had been taped onto the walls, different pictures from different angles. And yet they were all recognizable. The criminal moved from his spot in front of Booth and gestured to the table with a confident swoop.

"Recognize them Agent Booth?"

The cruel chuckle he'd heard on the phone now reverberated in his ears as Booth looked at the seven familiar faces that confirmed his worst fears.

"I'm sure you do. Now are you ready to negotiate?"

Heart beat against ribcage, threatening to break out. Lungs filled with panicked breaths and expelled the oxygen in short, frenzied bursts.

Booth's hands quivered as he gripped the steering wheel, turning on the ignition and the high beam headlights in order to begin the journey home. The crook of his left arm ached uncomfortably, and the clumsily wrapped bandage around his hand was in jeopardy of falling off. The previous conversation rang in his head, the jumbled words not ceasing to drown his mind.

And a feeling of self-dissatisfaction and disgust gushed in his throat.

Oh God, what have I done, what have I done?

"You're doing the right thing Agent Booth. At least the right thing for them."

The road was empty. Desolate. Booth tightened the bandage around his hand as it began to bleed again.

"It's good to know that now we can expect your full cooperation…"

A sudden spastic pain in the crook of his arm sent Booth reeling, swerving the black Tahoe out of the designated chopped white line for a brief second.

"You'll have pain at the injection site for a few hours. Nothing too serious I would hope. It will then fade until a point in time about which you will receive more information in the upcoming weeks."

The FBI agent flicked the radio on, in a vain attempt to obscure out the rushing sounds in his ears.

You've been hiding away memories for years Seeley.

"After you sign, you will be injected with another drug. It is merely a sleeping agent. Although your memories of what just took place will be choppy and fragmented for a while."

Calm down, calm down. Think straight. You did the right thing. They're safe now. They're safe.

"Do you recognize them Agent Booth?"

At least they'll be safe. You had no other choice.

"Seven people Seeley. Seven people that will die if you refuse to cooperate willingly."

Booth wiped sweat of his brow, turning at the last moment to take the exit.

"Angela Montenegro"

"Jack Hodgins"

"Lance Sweets"

"Zack Addy"

"Camille Saroyan"

"Parker Booth"

"Temperance Brennan"

They're safe now. They'll be left alone. You can find them in the meantime. You'll find these sons of bitches and make them pay for what they're doing to you. For what they've done to you.

"Full cooperation Agent Booth. You do as you are told, nothing less. You contact no one. You tell no one."

I'll find them. I swear I'll find them and make them pay for this.

"The person who learns of our deal dies, along with the seven others."

"Six out of the seven aren't affected. Care to guess which one?"

"One of the six has been given a quarter of a vial more than the others."

Which one? Who? What am I going to do?

"Lab rats? No, Agent Booth, lab rats can be controlled, manipulated, tested. That's where you come in."

Why did I do it? Why did I agree?

"This is a full vial. Pure and undiluted."

"Can you handle it?"

To save them. I did it to keep them safe.

"We will require your vast services. Your only choice is to comply."

"We both sign, we both carry out our promises. You agree…to everything. In return, you buy their lives. They live, you-"

Safe. Angela, Cam, Hodgins, Zack, Sweets, Parker and Bones. All safe.

"This contract cannot be fulfilled with normal ink I'm afraid. But compared to what's coming, I'm sure a little bleeding won't faze you now."

"You really are quite a specimen aren't you? Do you have any idea what you've just done?"

"I'll look forward to our sessions together in the future."

I'll find him. I'll find him and bring him in and make him pay for even threatening my family.

"Your devotion and loyalty is intriguing. But I'm afraid they'll be your end. They are your end…"

No. I'll fight. I'll fight to the last. I always have. I always will.

"It's a deal then. A grand sacrifice at the altar of love and war. Your life for theirs."

It's war then Booth thought grimly, eyes twin solid oaks. I won't go down without a fight. I'll keep them safe.

Whatever it takes. No matter what.

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What's the next chapter on you ask? Well, stick around to find out.