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[personal profile] cat_13145

Title: Bones of the Earth
Author/Artist: [info]cat_13145Pairing(s): Don/Colby (preslash), The team, various OCs
Rating: PG 13
Summary: What if Colby had taken the Washington posting
Notes/Warnings: Cross with Bones, but you don't have to seen any episodes of that for this to make sense. Terri Hunt is no relation to Terri Lake. I only realised that I used the same name, once she'd become a full character in my head, and she refused to let me change her name, so sorry.

The long grass, brittle in the L.A. Summer heat, tickled Terri’s nose, but she didn’t dare move, almost not noticing, all her attention focused on the cabin. It was a log building that looked like it would be more at home in the snows of Alberta, than the bone dry L.A. valley. Suddenly at the window a curtain moved slightly.

“Target sighted.” She murmured into the radio, whispering yet firm, carefully zoning the binoculars in on the movement.

“Roger that, Agent Hunt. Agent Granger do you confirm?”

She felt the grass move to her left and heard Colby’s soft. “Confirm.”

She focused the binoculars further, seeing the profile of the sniper as he looked around. “Son of a bitch, he knows we’re coming for him.”

------

Miranda Bond took off her headphones and turned around in her seat to survey the assembled agents. Most were FBI, because eventually Slemen was theirs, but there were CIA, Homeland security and even park Rangers in the mix. Any one who could use a rifle was welcome there.

She needed to remind them that that was why they were here.

“Most of you will have heard of John Slemen. Some of you will have met him personally. Some of you may have worked with him.” Her eyes rested briefly on Ian Edgerton.

They were going to have to pray that the FBI’s ranking of the two men was wrong. “We know that Slemen is an excellent sniper, fourth best in the country. We know he’s armed. We know he’s killed at least two people, one of them an FBI agent. We suspect he has a hostage. He might even have more than one.” Her Marine training came back to her as she straighten up, ignoring the pain it sent running down her legs.

“If circumstances were ideal, we’d use an assault vehicle. Hit him fast before he has a chance to return the favour. Unfortunately the terrain is against us.” She resisted the desire to rub her left arm, where she’d bumped it against the jeep’s wall on the road up here. It was going to leave a bruise, which didn’t really bother her, except that it got her thinking on Colby’s strange behaviour.

He’d been quiet and withdrawn since they got this assignment. At first she’d put it down to a reluctance to return to the scene of his…humiliation, seemed the best way to describe it, and Booth had offered to take his place. Saying Colby had refused was putting it mildly. She forced her mind back to her mouth, which was (hopefully) saying all the right things.

“So plan is, we give Slemen one last chance to surrender peacefully. If he starts shooting, we hit him with everything we’ve got. Questions?”

Her eyes rested briefly on the head of the L.A. team, Agent Eppes. Eppes had a reputation for being a bit of a loose canon, something she couldn’t afford, not at the moment. But he made no move.

“O.K. Let’s do this!”

-------

Colby’s moods were, normally something that Terri would have argued with Miranda about. However, in this instance she agreed. If there was trouble, she was a slightly better shot than him, but Colby had more SWAT training than she did. He was a good partner, and in the two years since he’d transferred to Washington, they got on well. She’d heard a lot of rumours about the reasons for such a dramatic transfer, but had dismissed most of them as moonshine.
Now, back on his home turf as it were, when one of the agents (a large black man whose name she’d hadn’t caught) asked to swap places with one of the homeland guys, she wasn’t so sure.
“When ever you’re ready.” Miranda’s voice, with its ever present slightly longing note came over the radio. She’d give her right arm to be out there, with them, but that just wasn’t an option.
Terri glanced at Colby, who barely nodded.
They’d gotten as close to the house as they could while still under cover. From here on in, the valley was lined with thorny bushes, with only one clear path.
That had been what had gotten Rogers killed, when he went to see if Slemen had heard anything from his girlfriend, Ororo Howlett a programmer in Washington. Slemen had shot Rogers dead, and injured a Park Ranger who came to investigate the noise so badly that the man died three days later. Not before he’d said he thought he saw a woman with white blonde hair, at one of the cabin windows.
Edgerton confirmed he had a lock on Slemen.
Slowly, first Colby, then Terri moved forward, in harmony. The curtain twitched again, but there was no sign of the gun, that the others had reported.
Carefully, they both took up position on either side of the door. She watched as Colby counted them down. Three, two, one.
“Agent Slemen.” The shrinks had told them to use Slemen’s rank, that it might make him more inclined. “FBI. We’d like to talk to you.”
There a pause. Terri and Colby exchanged a look, as Miranda ordered the rest to move close. Then the door creaked open.
***
“Get me audio!” Miranda barked at Chekov. The small Russian-America rolled his eyes, as he tapped into wires he had put on Terri’s and Colby’s vests.
“I’m asking you to keep your voice down, Agent Granger.” The sniper was not a physically big; Terri who was about 5’6’ was virtually on a level with him, but he seemed to automatically take control of whatever situation. Even when it appeared he was unarmed. “Ororo is sleeping. I don’t want her woken.”
“Can we see her?” She smiled. Terri, blunt as ever. Never beat around the bush, always straight to the point.
“Yes, but I must insist you are quiet.”
“Eppes move your team closer.” It wasn’t really necessary, she had to admit she was impressed by how close they were sticking, but it made her feel safer, as Colby and Terri stepped into the house.
****
Why anyone would choose to live here was beyond Terri; the cabin was sweltering. They followed Slemen’s lead through a living room, stuffed with animal’s heads. “Didn’t realise you hunted, Agent Slemen.”
Slemen shrugged. “What is a sniper, but a hunter? His prey is simply more challenging. Less prone to mistakes.”
“Is that what happened to Rogers?”
She could see Colby groaned, even though he made no noise. How the man had survived five years under cover was anyone’s guess, as he seemed in capable of lying.
Slemen’s face twitched, but he didn’t reply, not taking the bait. Instead he opened a door leading from the living room.
A woman was lying face down on the bed, her blonde hair spilling out over the pillow. She was unnaturally still. Colby and Terri exchanged a glance, before Terri moved towards her.
Gently, she shook the shoulder, calling softly in the girl’s ears. A strange smell was filling the whole room.
Getting no response, she placed a hand on the shoulder, preparing to turn her over.
***
“Eppes Get your team in there!” Miranda yelled, cursing herself for not giving the order to shoot on sight. The shrinks had warned them that Slemen was loosing it, and if the decomposing body of Ororo Howlett that was coming through Terri’s camera wasn’t proof that he’d lost it, she didn’t know what was.
Colby’s camera had stopped transmitting.
****
“Stay out, Fall Back!” Terri had no idea who had seniority here, her or Eppes, and right now she didn’t care.
The fourth best shot in the country had her partner with a gun pressed at his throat. Currently, while she waved the other agents, she was cursing, herself for not spotting the gun sooner (though she had no idea where the guy had hidden it), Colby for getting close enough for Slemen to grab him, Edgerton for Slemen still breathing, and who ever had design this stupid place that meant it was going to be virtually impossible for Edgerton to get a clear shot.
“Slemen, you don’t want to do this.”
“I won’t let you take her from me.”
“O.K. O.K.” Colby was struggling, trying to get free, but Slemen taught holds at Quantico, so there wasn’t really any hope.
“You hurt her.”
As she’d never met Ororo, and now wouldn’t have the chance to the point made no sense, but Slemen wasn’t sane, so this wasn’t the time to argue it.
“I’m sorry,” She heard movement behind her, and started to spin around, to tell the agent to fucking well stay back!!!
There was an explosion.
***
“You should go to hospital.”
“I don’t need to go to hospital.” Terri winced slightly as Colby finished applying the last of the butterfly plasters. “Any more than you do.”
There was a bruise forming just below Colby’s T-shirt sleeve. She slipped off the bed to examine his handiwork.
“Jesus.” She muttered. “I’d heard Eppes was trigger happy, but I never suspected….” She stopped, as she felt Colby’s gaze burning the back of her neck.
“Don’s not trigger happy.”
“O.K.” Terri said, letting her hair fall down to hide the three inch cut on her temple. “Not that I’m complaining, mind. Edgerton admitted there was no way he could have got that shot, so it must have been bad.” She looked at Colby. “You wanna talk about it?”
“No.”
It wasn’t Colby’s normal, No, I don’t want to talk about this at the moment, this was a Drop it and leave it alone No.
It made her uncomfortable, and a little worried.
“Tell you what I do need though.” She said, carefully wandering back towards him. “A decent meal that isn’t slathered in grease. Think you can manage that Idaho?”
Colby smiled, and even if it was forced, it was worth it. “Yeah. Just let me grab a shower.”
She watched as Colby moved between the connecting door to his room, before sinking down on to her bed, breathing hard.
She didn’t know how long she sat there, before there was a knock on the door.
***
On some weird level, Colby was glad to be back in LA.
He and Sinclair had patched things up as best they could at FBI Conference nearly six months ago, but things with Megan and Don remained tense.
He couldn’t see things with Don improving and experience taught him that Terri tended to snipe for weeks at people who shot her, but he would like things to be better with Megan.
It wasn’t that he wanted to rejoin the team. If this had done anything, it had confirmed, in his own mind, his decision to leave LA.
He’d finally being able to convince himself that it had nothing to do with Don, and that it had been, if not the right choice, then at least a good one.
Washington had a very different attitude to LA.
For one thing, Colby’s past was no big deal. Miranda had been in the Marines, and then in NCIS, until a bullet had destroyed her cartilage, Terri was ex-CIA and Booth (whose exact relationship with the team he was never sure of) had been a sniper in the Rangers. They understood better than anyone brothers in arms as a phrase, and made no comment on what he’d done. Well, once Booth got his head around the whole pretending to be a traitor thing. That had been a fun couple of months.
For another...attitudes were just different in general. He, Booth, and Chekov, he supposed, wore suits, but...Booth wore ridiculous belts, socks, anything that broke up the uniform, and Chekov never wore a shirt with a collar (rumour had it he’d once been strangled by a suspect, so always left his throat free).
He couldn’t remember seeing Terri in a suit, except when they were in court. Booth had tried lecturing her about it, but Terri simply rolled her eyes and reminded him how often she ended up being the one crawling into or through something (she was the smallest and thinnest on the team), and Booth usually shut up.
Miranda wore a suit about as often as Don did.
With a furious groan, he shut the shower off. He’d promised himself no more of that. Things turn out for a reason. Nothing was going to happen between them. He’d made sure of that.
Forcing his thoughts on to other matters, he dried himself and dressed. Placing his hand on the door, he paused.
“...not saying I agree.”
“You don’t have to.” A pause, “Will you come?”
“3 o’clock.”
Eavesdropping was rude, so he pushed the door fully open.
“Hey you ready to...?”
He had to fight the desire to laugh as Charlie looked like a rabbit caught in the headlights.
Terri however, merely said. “Sure.” She turned to Charlie. “You’ll have the data tomorrow, Professor Eppes.”
Charlie squeaked what might have being a thank you and bolted.
“What was that all about?” Colby asked, while Terri grabbed her purse. She shrugged. “He’d simply heard we had some measurements of the blood stain on the bedroom. I told them I’d run them around tomorrow once I’d check them.”
He nodded, even though he couldn’t help hearing Booth’s voice in his head, telling him that when Terri looks the most truthful, she’s usually lying.
TBC

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May 2011

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