Author's Note: Lyrics are "Hope For The Hopeless" by A Fine Frenzy

"This is Tina Monroe for channel five action news. Behind me you can see the Richmond police with assistance from the FBI have apprehended serial killer Bill Jones. If you aren't familiar with this case, Bill has been accused of killing five women by fatal blows to their heads with a hammer. His killings range from the early nineties to just a few months ago. Lets speak with an agent on the case. Agent Seely Booth?"

Booth looked into the camera with a panicked look. Clearing his throat, he tried to keep cool. So what if everyone was watching him? So what if he said something wrong? No one really watched the five o'clock news anyway, right? "Yes, Tina."

"If it hadn't been for you and your team you never would have caught the killer. How did you put everything together?"

"Well, I have an amazing forensic anthropologist for a partner. She's really the one who deserves the credit. I just chase down the bad guys." He smiled.

"It's a relief to know we have people like you and your partner protecting us. Again, this is Tina Monroe for channel five news. Steve, back to you."

***

"You were nervous."

"I was not nervous."

Booth walked through the grassy front yard with his partner Temperance Brennan. In front of them stood a large old farm house. Inside was where they had caught Bill Jones, just about to kill another victim.

"You were. I could read it in your body language. The slump of your shoulders. The dramatic loss of color in your face when the camera was aimed at you."

"Okay." Booth put up a hand. "I still give better interviews than you."

"It's a common response. There's nothing wrong with being camera shy."

Booth stopped abruptly. Sighing, he put his hands on his hips. Most of the time he loved working with Brennan, or Bones as he affectionately called her. But there were times when her brilliance and attention to detail drove him nuts. Unfortunately, this was one of those times. "I wasn't camera shy. The way the sun light was hitting my face was causing me to look pale."

"Right." Brennan laughed.

"Agent Booth? Agent Booth!" A voice cut through the crowd that had gathered around the news crew. A man came rushing forward. He ran up to the pair. "I thought it was you!"

"Can I help you?" Booth questioned.

The man extended a leather gloved hand and grabbed the back of Booth's hand, shaking it vigorously. "No, no. I just wanted to congratulate you on a job well done. No one else would have been able to figure this out except you and your lovely partner." He flashed a smile at Brennan.

"Um, thank you."

With that the man jogged away back into the crowd. Brennan stared after him. "Do you know him?"

"I have no idea who that was. Strange." He shook his head. Back into the crowd he looked thoughtfully.

"We're finished here. Want to go grab some Chinese?"

"Sure." Booth tore his gaze away. Together the two walked back towards Booth's car.

***

Two Days Later

Brennan walked briskly down the hall that led to Booth's apartment. It'd been two days since anyone had heard from her partner. Message after message she'd left on his phone, trying to get in touch with him. The lack of communication was unlike him. Finally she'd gotten worried enough to pay him a visit at home.

A few times she knocked on the door. When he didn't answer, she used her keys he had given her to let herself in. His apartment was dark inside. The blinds remained closed. In the poor light shining through them she could see Booth's keys and jacket on the floor. It seemed as if he'd just thrown them off with little regard for their care. That was unusual. Frowning, she put both items away and moved on.

"Booth?" She called, stepping through the apartment. Silence answered her. Nothing in his apartment looked as if it had been touched in days. Gingerly, she made her way to his bedroom. Inside she found him laying tangled up in blankets. "Booth? You awake?" Again she tried, standing over him. He didn't move a muscle. Concerned, she turned a light on and bent closer to him. "Wake up." She rubbed his hand gently. Heat seemed to radiate from his flesh. Brennan moved her hand up his body, ending with her fingers running through his hair. His scalp was soaked with sweat.

Something was wrong. Something was really wrong. "Booth. Booth, get up." She tapped his cheek. He didn't so much as flinch. Becoming more worried, she shook him as hard as she could. At last his eyes popped open. For a moment he looked at her as if he didn't recognize her. His eyes were dark and unfocused. "Bones?" He finally whispered.

"Yeah. Are you all right? You look sick."

Sighing, he stared up at the ceiling. "I don't know. I think I threw up."

"You think?"

"I can't really remember."

This really startled Brennan. "Have you seen a doctor?"

Booth sat up. "I don't need a damn doctor. It's just the flu or something. It'll pass."

Somehow Brennan didn't think so. Booth's skin was paler than she'd ever seen it. Despite the fact that she was sure he had been sleeping for hours, if not days, circles remained under his eyes. A nasty red rash had appeared over the top of his right hand, where the strange man had touched him. "No one's heard from you in two days."

"Two days?" He repeated, as if he wasn't sure he believed what she was saying. "What day is it?"

"Wednesday. I've been leaving you messages."

"My phone never rang. Let me check it." Carefully he eased his way out of the bed. Half way to his bedroom door he paused. The look of confusion on his face was apparent. Booth looked back at Brennan. "What was I doing?"

Brennan rose to her full height. This was definitely more than the stomach flu. The flu didn't explain the confusion or memory loss. "You were getting your cell phone."

"Oh yeah." He took a few more steps before falling to his knees.

"Booth!" She exclaimed, rushing to his side.

His eyes rolled rapidly in his head. If possible his color grew even whiter. Groaning, he wrapped his arms protectively around his stomach. Right before her very eyes he dropped down onto his side. Tremors shook his body violently. Frightened, Brennan held him down against the floor.

Though the seizure only lasted thirty seconds, it felt like a lifetime to Brennan. She asserted he was done, then called for help. "Hang on," she whispered to him. With trembling fingers she stroked his cheek. Suddenly this was a lot more serious then she anticipated.

***

Hours later Brennan paced the worn rug in the waiting area at the hospital. Every minute felt like an hour. Hours felt like days. What was taking so long?

The ambulance had arrived promptly at Booth's apartment and shuffled both of them straight to the hospital. During the entire ride he'd remained unresponsive. Brennan could only stare as paramedics worked around him. Just what had happened to her partner? What kind of illness could cause his symptoms? Was there something seriously wrong? Had he known? Had he been hiding it from her?

These questions still bounced around her head as she shuffled back and forth across the carpet. The image of him laying on the floor after his seizure was burned permanently into her mind. It was only when a nurse insisted she sit did Brennan collapse down onto a faded leather couch.

Another hour passed by. She had just about fallen asleep when a doctor walked in. "The party here with Seely Booth?" He called. Brennan snapped awake. Hurriedly she walked over to him. "That's me. Do you know what's wrong?"

The doctor's face was grim. "Lets go speak in my office."

"No. Tell me right here."

Though he disagreed, he pulled her into the hall with him. "We've run several tests on Special Agent Booth. Everything points to toxicity in his system. He's been poisoned."

Brennan gasped inwardly. "But how?"

"There are a number of ways. In food or beverages. Some toxins can be absorbed through the skin."

"What can you do for him?"

The doctor sighed, looking defeated. "There's not a lot, I'm sorry to say. It's been coursing through his system for too long. All we can do now is make him comfortable."

Once again Brennan could only look at him. "You can't do anything?"

"I'm sorry."

She turned away, racing down the long hallway and outside the hospital doors. There she bent over to catch her breath. This wasn't happening. It couldn't be. How could it have happened?

Right now she could only think of one place she wanted to be. The only place where she could hide from the world. And the truth.

***

Her team glanced up from their various projects as Brennan rushed through the door. All of them, taking in her haggard appearance, stopped what they were doing immediately. "Sweetie? I mean this in the nicest way possible, but you look awful." Angela told her.

"Booth's been poisoned."

"What?" They seemed to cry out as a group.

"I'll be in my office." Brennan sped off to her office without another word. Angela found two sets of eyes staring at her expectantly. "Yeah, I know." Leaving them behind, she followed up into Brennan's office.

Inside, Brennan was sitting at her desk tapping a pen rapidly on the top of it. Angela stood in the doorway, unsure. "What happened?" She asked softly.

"I don't know. I went to find him and he collapsed." She swallowed a lump in her throat. "He had a seizure. I called an ambulance and at the hospital they said he'd been poisoned. Angela, there's nothing they can do for him."

"I can't believe that. There must be someway to help him."

"Help him? I don't even know what's wrong with him. The last time I saw him everything was fine. He gave that interview to the news reporter and then we went out for Chinese." Suddenly the man emerging from the crowd came back to her. "The man."

"What man?"

"As we were walking back to the car his man reached out and shook Booth's hand. He was wearing a glove. Isn't it possible that he could have poisoned Booth? The doctor said some poisons are absorbed through the skin."

"It's definitely possible. But what good will knowing do?"

"The FBI can arrest him. We can find out what he poisoned Booth with."

"Do you remember what he looked like?"

"No." Brennan shut her eyes, trying to remember. "Wait, what about the news tape? I don't think they were done filming when Booth walked away. Couldn't the man be on the tape?"

"It's a long shot." Angela frowned. "I don't know."

"It's worth trying." Brennan sprang to her feet. She was glad to have something to do. It would replace the feeling of helplessness. "I'll drop by the news station and see if I can get a copy of the tape."

Angela moved aside as Brennan hurried through the door. "Are you okay?"

"No." Brennan admitted. "But I can't think about it right now."

***

After stopping by the news station and sending a copy back to the lab, Brennan worked up the nerve to go back to the hospital. With the help of a nurse she located Booth's bed in intensive care. A curtain was drawn all around his bed. Sucking in a deep breath, she ducked past it. Inside, Booth lay completely still. If possible his color had faded even more. The only color he had was that of his blue veins, dividing his body like puzzle pieces. The same veins that were distributing the poison through his body; shutting his organs down one by one. Tears blurred her vision. "I can't do this," she murmured. Again she turned away. It was out in her car she let her tears fall.

Stitch in your knitted brow

And you don't know how you're gonna get it out

Crushed under heavy chest

Trying to catch your breath

But it always beats you by a step, all right now

Angela passed by Brennan's office later than evening. To her surprise Brennan was inside, her head down on her desk. As she approached she could hear soft snoring noises. "Sweetie?" Angela rubbed her back. Brennan lifted her head up slowly. "What?" She asked groggily.

"I've made a composite of the image from the news tape and gave it to the police." She paused. Why are you here? Why aren't you with Booth?"

"I can't. I just can't." Tears flooded her eyes all over again. "I can't be there with him and watch him as he dies. I can't stand knowing I can't do anything about it."

"You need to be there," Angela told her firmly.

Brennan finally let the tears that threatened to spill again fall from her eyes. "What do I do here, Angela? I feel like I'm wasting my time. I examine bones and solve murders. But what good does it do? They're already dead."

"Hey." Angela sat down next to her. "You give them their identities back. You tell their stories for them. You ease the minds of their worried families."

Brennan shook her head. "I can help them. But I'm worthless to the one person who needs help the most."

"You're not worthless. You need to go be with him. That's what you can do for him right now."

"I can't. I can't sit by and watch him leave."

"Who says he's going to die?"

"You haven't seen how sick he is. The doctors didn't even give him more than a day."

"They're wrong."

Brennan dried her eyes. Angela had her full attention now. "Do you really believe that?" She asked in a soft voice.

Angela shook her head in agreement. "He's a strong man, sweetie. He's not going out without a hard fight. That's why you especially need to be there with him. He wouldn't give up on you."

Her words touched a nerve in Brennan's heart. He wouldn't give up on you. They both knew Booth would be right at her side if anything had ever happened to her. What kind of person, partner... friend, would she be if she couldn't do the same in return? "You're right. I'll go."

"I'll drive." Angela rose with her. "You're not in any condition to be driving."

The two grabbed their coats and headed for the door. Before leaving Brennan stopped her. Closely she embraced the other woman. "Thanks."

"For what?"

"Knocking sense into me."

Angela gave her a sly smile. "Someone has to do it."

Making the best of it

Playing the hand you get

You're not alone in this

***

Brennan slowly walked into Booth's hospital room. Everything was just the same as she had left it. Booth still lay unconscious in his bed. Thick hospital blankets hid how thin his frame had become. His chest rose and fell with monitors pumping oxygen into him. Things did not look good.

For a moment she remained frozen. Could she really do this? Everything in her was urging to run. But she couldn't do it again. Not to him. Exhaling deeply, she entered the room.

Into a chair she fell by his bedside. She took his cold hand into her own. It was hard to believe just two days ago they were laughing over bowls of Chinese food. For the millionth time she asked herself again; how could this have happened?

Just sitting with him didn't feel right. She felt as if she needed to do something. A memory flashed through her mind.

Brennan was standing in front of her mother's gravestone. "Okay, I'm going to go stand over here while you talk to your Mom." Booth had walked a few feet away, giving Brennan her space.

"I told you, I don't do that." She protested, clutching the bouquet of flowers in her hands. But eventually she got over the awkwardness. Words, questions poured out of her mouth. Booth kept his distance, trying not to listen but keeping his protective nature at all times.

If it hadn't been for him she never would have been there in the first place. All along it had always been him; his insistence to do the right thing. Talking to her mother then had seemed to be the right thing. Now it was the least she could do for him.

"You know I'm no good at this," she murmured, bowing her head. "But I'm going to try. I don't even know if you can hear me. I'm sorry this happened. I'm sorry there isn't something more I can do. You always said I'm better with the dead than the living. Apparently I'm also better at helping the dead than the living. But if I could trade places with you I would in a heartbeat. I'd give up everything just to have you safe and healthy again." Her breath hitched with emotion. Harder and harder it was getting to keep her composure. "I need you to hang on for me, okay? I can't lose you. I can't do this without you."

Stifling a sob, she squeezed his hand tightly. To her surprise she felt a weak pressure from his hand back to her. No, she told herself. It doesn't mean anything. It's the toxins causing muscle spasms as they hit his nervous system.

But she wanted to believe. Badly.

There's hope for the hopeless

There's hope

***

She must have fallen asleep at some point during the night, because when she woke a blanket was over her shoulders and she was still clutching Booth's hand. With a sense of fear she glanced over at his face. He was still sleeping softly. Booth was alive. He'd held on through the night.

A smile lit up her face. It wasn't much but it was a start. "Thank you," she whispered.

Just then she felt a buzzing against her leg. From her pocket she removed her cell phone. Rapidly she extracted herself and went outside to answer it.

"It's me. How's Booth?" Angela asked.

"He made it through the night."

"See? I told you. Anyway, the police caught the guy. His name is Roger Jeeves. He's a convicted felon. According to the police he was real easy to find. He still lives with his mom. You'd think a guy that smart to cook up a plan to poison Booth would be more sensible to know to hide."

"What was his motive?"

"Booth arrested his brother years ago for brutally killing seven young girls. His brother was sentenced to lethal injection and killed."

"So he had it out for Booth."

"Yeah. Knowing how the two of you would be there, though? It must have just been a wrong place wrong time kind of thing."

"Yeah. Thanks Angela." Brennan clicked her phone off.

Running against the wind

Playing the cards you get

Something is bound to give

Before returning to Booth she stopped off in the bathroom to splash some cold water on her face. In the mirror her reflection was nearly as pale and as drawn as him. Afterwards she stopped in the cafeteria to get a cup of coffee. It was awful, but she hardly noticed the taste.

When she returned to the intensive care unit Booth's curtain had been pulled back. Several doctors and nurses were gathered around his bedside, blocking her view. Her heart seized in her chest. She feared the worst. "What happened?" She asked loudly.

The crowd moved away from the foot of his bed. There Booth looked at her through half open eyes. "Bones," he grinned weakly.

She wasn't sure weather she wanted to cry or laugh. A flood of emotions all drowned her at once. "He's okay?" She questioned the doctors.

"He's not out of the woods yet, but he'll make it. I don't understand how." The doctor admitted.

Brennan waited until everyone left before closing in on his bed. "I thought I'd lost you."

"Nah." He weakly waved his hand. "You can't get rid of me that easily."

"Good." She sat down.

There was a spark in his eyes. "I heard you."

"You heard me?"

"Talking to me while I was out."

Blushing, she shook her head. "You were dreaming."

"I didn't dream it." He persisted.

"You need to rest, Booth. You still have a lot of work to do before you're better."

"Mmm." He nodded in agreement and closed his eyes. Before drifting off he reached for Brennan's hand, squeezing it. She held on tightly, never wanting to let go.

Cold in a summer breeze

You're shivering on your bended knee

Still, when you're heart is sore

And the heavens pour

Like a willow bending with the storm, you'll make it

the end