Booth spent the next few days unable to summon the strength to rise from his bed. He spent day and night staring at the ceiling, consumed by his obsessive thoughts. His brain had become a lightning rod for paranoia, and sorrow. "Watch your back." The warning repeated itself like a broken record. What was he supposed to do? Whom precisely did he need to be guarding himself from? What would they do to him if he stepped out of line? Would they really go so far as to kill him? Was his family in danger? By far that was his worst fear. If anything happened to Brennan or Christine he would never be able to live with himself.

The unanswered questions near drove him insane. His stomach clenched with pain, alternating burning from his refusal to provide it with any sustenance. Even the thought of food made him sick. Sleeping was just as difficult. Should he be able to drift off he was transported back to his time in captivity. He'd wake shaking in a cold sweat. He'd always prided himself on his ability to excel under pressure. But this was unlike anything he'd ever encountered before. Further and further he was sinking into a black pit.

Brennan could only allow this to continue on for so long before having no choice but to intervene. He was thinking about Jared when she sat down on the edge of the bed besides him early one afternoon. "Booth, please. Just… just please get out of bed. You are genuinely frightening me. We need to take you to the hospital, or to see a doctor. You aren't yourself, and you haven't been for some time. I really believe that the several impacts you suffered to your head have left you with some sort of damage. We need to get you help. You can't keep going on living like this." She exhaled a steadying breath. "You're going to die."

Die. He tilted his head away from her. That's the only way this is ever going to end. If I'm gone Brennan and Christine will stay safe. Max can protect them. He'll take them underground until it's safe. I have to do it. Putrid bile pushed up into his esophagus. It's the only way I can save their lives.

"Booth." Affectionately she smoothed her palm across his cheek, and guided him back to look at her. "Please. Allow me to help you."

His eyes scanned hers. Can I really do that to her? It took so long to get her to trust me. To express her love for me. Killing myself with shatter her heart.

Tears filled her eyes. "Please say something."

But even if she's hurt and hates me, she'll be safe. She'll be alive. They both will be. He cleared his throat. "I'm okay, Bones. I'm just really tired lately."

"No. I'm sorry, but I won't accept that from you. Your behavior goes far beyond any rational explanation. I've finally accepted that there is nothing I can do to assist you. You won't open up to me. You need someone professional now. And we need to have your brain evaluated for damage. I would like to get some renewed images taken."

Trekking to the hospital meant venturing out into public, a task that was far too dangerous. Somehow he had to stall her off. But continuing to insist he was fine would just cause friction. "I don't want to go to the hospital. Can you just make an appointment with a neurologist or something? Maybe for tomorrow?"

Her smile of relief tore his heart in two. "Yes. Yes, I can do that. Thank you."

She laid with him for the remainder of the afternoon, until Christine cried for attention. That evening when she tried to entice him with dinner he was still resistant. Busy he was making plans for his untimely end. That night after she slept he had to disappear. But where would he go? He preferred her not to find him. The bureau. Hacker wants me dead? I'll deliver my body right to his doorstep.

Once the midnight hours set in he put his plan into action. He spent quite a significant bit of time giving his silent goodbyes to both Brennan and Christine. Tears were shed. Separating himself was difficult, and he had to keep reminding himself that taking his life was in their best interest. It was his last defense to keep them from being hurt. Finally, he limped downstairs awkwardly balancing on his crutches. Discreetly he slipped out the front door and into his car. Then with gasping breaths he backed out of the driveway, and carried on with the next stage of his plans.

All was a blur until he eased his car into the parking garage at the bureau. He parked, and lingered in his car for a few moments before gathering the courage to climb out. The sound of his crutches clicking as he maneuvered towards the elevators echoed off the concrete walls. He struggled along until his feet slipped out from underneath him. Forward he fell down hard onto the ground. His ribs screamed at him upon impact. He rolled over onto his back, wincing in pain. I don't think I can go on any further. Just do it here. Get it over with.

He waited until he was able to get his breath back before crawling to the elevator doors. Gradually he sat himself up and leaned his back against the wall. The coolness of the exterior fed right through his shirt, causing a shiver to run through him. His hands trembled as he fetched his own privately owned handgun from his pocket. His hearing blotted out by the sound of his frantic, pounding heartbeat. Roughly he inhaled a few breaths before pressing the barrel of the gun against his temple.


Brennan's shrill voice nearly shocked him into pulling the trigger. His eyes flipped open. He didn't react in watching her sprint towards him. Down onto her knees she fell at his side. When she tugged the gun from his grasp he willingly let it go.

"What are you doing?" She whispered in a strained voice.

"What I have to." He stared down at the ground. "It's the only way I can protect you."

"What are you talking about? Protect me from what?"

"From me!"

"Booth, I don't need protection from you. I need to know what's wrong with you. This all is completely out of character for you. I know you have been distraught over your brother. But I honestly never would have believed you falling into such despair that you would turn your back on your family and take your own life. You need-"

"To die. You don't understand. I have to keep you safe."

She paused, firmly pressing her lips together and studying him. "Something more is going on. And you need to tell me what it is."

Coming clean wasn't easy, but in reluctant clips and phrases he filled her in on his meeting at the bureau, and Hacker's idle threat. "It's not over, Bones. It never will be. Staying alive is putting you and Christine at risk. The only way I can end this is if I take my own life."

She gripped his hand tightly. "I can assure you that Christine and I would never be able to survive without you. Losing you won't solve anything. Please let me take you home. We can fashion a plan together. We're in this together. Please don't forget that."

"I love you both. So much. I just want to keep you safe."

"We're only safe when we're with you. Please, Booth." She pleaded. "Lets just go home."

Seeing as his attempt had been thwarted, he unhappily agreed. She helped him up onto his feet and handed him his crutches. Together they approached his car. She steered him straight to the passenger seat. His quizzical look prompted her to remark, "I'd feel a lot better driving you home myself."

"What about your car? I assume you drove here."

"I can return for it tomorrow."

He climbed into his seat and settled himself. She fell into her place behind the steering wheel. Not another word passed between them as she left the garage and headed back out onto the street. She drove along until coming upon a red light in which she slowed to a stop. Out of the corner of her eye she glanced to Booth. His face was a mixture of emotions. "Booth-"

She no more said his name before the window besides him exploded, showering them both with shards of sharp glass. Instinct and adrenaline flooded her rational senses. Her foot slammed down on the accelerator, propelling them forward through the stop light with squealing tires. "What happened?" She cried. "What was that?!"

Booth's lack of a response caused her to bring them to an abrupt stop. She twisted in her seat to look at him.

He was grimacing with tightly scrunched eyes. Over his body he'd crossed his left arm to grip his bicep. Though it was dark she could see blood saturating the shortened sleeve of his tee shirt. Droplets trickled down his arm. He'd been shot.

"You aren't inflicted by paranoia," she muttered stupidly. "They really are trying to kill you."