"All of this to explain to you why I had to separate myself away from yesterday's life

Please remember this isn't how I hoped it would be

But I had to protect you from me

That's why I slipped out the back before you knew I was there

I know you felt unprepared

But every single time I was around I just bring you down

And I could tell that it was time to be scared"

- "Slip Out The Back" Fort Minor

Booth's breathing hitched.

Brennan looked up worriedly from the computer screen of the laptop sitting in the chair in front of her. She watched carefully as he grimaced before his expression eased. Then he was once again soundless, his breathing keeping a soft rhythm.

For a week now they'd been in the hospital. Brennan didn't know how long she and Booth had been out in the woods. She only knew she woke up sometime later underneath heated blankets in a safe hospital room somewhere in Alaska. Her shoulder wound had been repaired, though it still throbbed something terrible. From the roll over crash she'd received a concussion. But her injuries were pale in comparison to Booth.

He hadn't yet to truly wake up since they'd been brought in. Sure, he'd been in and out of consciousness. But he hadn't returned to being himself. The drugs had left an effect in his system. That combined with his own head injury he suffered in the crash had left him in a delusional state. Booth didn't know who he was. He didn't know who anyone was, or why he was in so much pain. Any attempts at helping him were resisted with zest. Frustratingly the doctors were forced to wait until he slipped back into a coma to be able to do anything for him.

Brennan could have flown back to D.C. days ago. She'd chosen instead to stay with him. And so while she had her own room, she spent most of her days keeping vigil over him in his.

Booth inhaled roughly and tilted his head a bit. Brennan sprang to her feet. Was this it? Was Booth coming back home to her? She went to his side and squeezed his hand. "I'm here," she whispered.

It turned out to be anticlimactic. To her disappointment he settled. Her hopes were dashed. "You can do this," she spoke in a soft voice to him once again. "Come on."

"Dr. Brennan?"

A man dressed finely in a suit stood by the door waiting for her. She knew with one glance he was another FBI agent. And so she looked at him but chose to say nothing.

"May I have a word with you?"

It hadn't taken long after Brennan had woken for the FBI and local police to interview her repeatedly about what had happened back at the cabin. She'd told all of them everything she knew over and over again. And in return she'd at last learned of Booth's involvement, and Vick's relentless pursuit.

Wordlessly she retreated out into the hall with the man. He showed her his credentials, not that she needed to see them. "Yes, Agent Thomas?" She asked wearily.

"I apologize. I know you've been through a lot, and you must be tired of repeating your story for the umpteenth time. But I need to know, are you absolutely certain of the location Vick crashed his snowmobile in the woods?"

Brennan was taken aback. "Yes. He hit a tree approximately ten yards away from where Booth and I were found."

Agent Thomas nodded thoughtfully.

"Why?" She was afraid to ask.

"We've found the snowmobile. But there was no sign of Vick's body."

"He was there," she gasped.

"Perhaps you were disoriented from your own accident?"

"No! I saw him lying there. His neck was broken." She shook her head. This couldn't be. Could Vick still be out there? Was Booth's life still in danger?

Agent Thomas seemed to at last notice her troubled expression. "Hey, no. There was too much blood soaked into the snow for him to still be alive. Neither of you have anything to worry about. Animals could have scavenged the body."

It was unlikely, Brennan knew. Whole bodies weren't usually moved by woodland creatures. They were eaten on site. But she felt too worn out to argue with him. She decided to take his attempt to ease her mind and return to Booth with it. Politely she excused herself.

She walked in to find Booth awake. His head had drifted to one side, resting on his shoulder as he panted in a rapid procession. Sweat had gathered on his brow. The color in his features was ghastly.

Their eyes connected instantly. Brennan didn't need to ask what was wrong. She ran to his side and punched the button on his IV monitor that distributed pain killers. Within minutes his symptoms began to ease. His eyes half closed with relief.

Just then the full weight of everything they'd been through together sank down upon her. Brennan couldn't help herself. Tears filled her eyes. She embraced him tightly, hiding her face in the coarse fabric of his hospital gown. The last thing she wanted was for him to see her cry.

Booth said her name. He stroked her hair before hugging her back. "I'm all right."


"Why am I all right?" He chuckled.

She pulled away, but stayed close at his side. "Why did you do this? Why did try to take him on your own?"

"Vick?" He tried to catch up to her speed. "I had to. He was after me."

"You almost died, Booth. If I hadn't of come after you-"

"Hacker knew where I was." His rebuttal sounded weak even to him. They both knew by the time Hacker would have realized something was wrong and sent someone for him, Booth would have likely already been murdered. "Look, I've been working Vick's case for a long time. He kills law enforcement officers. He murders their family and friends. The FBI got intelligence he was coming after me. I wasn't willing to risk anyone's life by staying around. So I went into hiding. I led him away. I did what I had to."

"You should have told me yourself," she sniffed. "You shouldn't have just me a note. Especially," her voice lowered. "A note like that."

Right then and there he could have admitted everything. Booth could have come forward, confirming his feelings and declaring the note to be genuine. But before he spoke he thought back over everything they'd been through together over the past week or so. He looked straight into her eyes and felt himself chickening out. This wasn't the right time. The right place. "I had to, Bones. I wrote what I did," he swallowed. "Because I couldn't have you following me."

"Your plan was flawed."

"I can see that now."

She smiled slightly. "I guess it's a good thing it was."

His gaze drifted down at his wrist which Vick had slit. It was bandaged now; protected. Underneath it could he feel the skin, having stitched itself together naturally, stretching taut when he moved his arm. A sharp needle-like pain rocketed through his muscles.

"Hey," Brennan said softly, noticing the change in his demeanor. "You survived."

"Yeah," he breathed. "I survived."

The end