No specific season, but before B&B finally got together. No spoilers, just vague references to facts known from "Two Bodies in the Lab". Also... obviously nothing here is mine except for the plot.

Chapter I

11 days. That's how long it took her to finally break. That's how long it took to bring her to this point, gripping the metal edge of the evidence table in her lab, the waves of panic sweeping over her relentlessly, choking her, drowning her. She couldn't focus, couldn't breathe 'God what's happening to me I feel like I'm dying please please please...'. She didn't even know for what she was praying or even to whom. God was just a superstition after all, but ... 'Please...'

"Doctor Brennan"

She gripped the table harder, pushing her nails into the metal top. 'Can't breathe, can't breathe...I have to feel something...'

"Doctor Brennan!" the tone was more alarmed now.

She slid her palms under the table edge, where the metal was a bit sharper and rougher and pressed hard. 'Yes, maybe this will do it ...'

"Doctor Brennan!" someone touched her shoulder and she jerked hard, turning to stare into wide blue eyes.

"Doctor Hodgins, is there a problem?"

The blue eyes got bigger as he couldn't find his voice for a few seconds.

"I... you... are you OK?"

"Of course I am. Why wouldn't I be? There is still work to be done Doctor Hodgins, do you have anything new for me?"

He lowered his eyes and sadly opened his mouth to give her the same very short answer he'd been giving her for the past week and a half. Maybe she was really OK, maybe he just imagined... Then he saw the droplets of blood spattering on the floor and followed them back up to the table, where her hands were still gripping the metal edge.

"Jesus Christ" he encircled her wrists with his fingers, trying to pry them away from the table. He couldn't.

"Doctor Brennan...hey..." he smiled reassuringly, his face almost hurting with the effort. "Let go, OK?"

She looked bewildered and she didn't seem to really understand, her hands keeping the white-knuckled grip and the small droplets of blood continuing to hit the floor. He was at a loss as what to do. "Uh, Angela has something...she needs you to..."

Her eyes seem to clear for a bit "Oh, why didn't you say so?" . He followed her brisk pace through the mostly deserted hallway to his wife's lab.

"Hey sweetie" Angela's soft smile to Brennan faded as she took in Hodgins' panicked face and followed his eyes.

"Oh honey...what happened? Did you have an accident in the lab?" she lifted Brennan's hands, palms up, to survey the damage. She didn't need to see her husband slowly shaking his head to know the answer, and her heart broke a little more for her friend.

"Hodgins, bring me the first aid kit". Holding her hand, she tried maneuvering Brennan to sit on the couch. She took three steps before stopping. "What... I'm fine Angela, why..." she stared at her own hand as it was lifted in front of her. "Oh"

"Come on honey, sit down and tell me what happened. Please"

She sat without further protest and shrugged her shoulders. Reason. She needed a logical and rational explanation. That was always the answer. You could always rely on reason.

"From the symptoms I was experiencing – shortness of breath, irregular heart rhythm, irrational anxiety - I concluded I was having a panic attack. That is unusual in itself, as it is not something I normally experience. I believed that if I could make myself..." she gestured with her injured hands and shrugged again. "It was most irrational, but..."

"You wanted to cause yourself pain to..." Angela couldn't really finish the sentence. She swallowed the tears and began gently cleaning and dressing the cuts on her friend's palms. "Come on honey, let's go home. I'll stay with you tonight" she looked at her husband, who just nodded silently. They were both startled as Brennan jumped up from the couch.

"No! I am not going home! How can you even think... There is still work to be done! Doctor Hodgins, did you analyze the particulates on the weapon?"

Angela answered instead, the sadness in her eyes all-encompassing. "Sweetie, you know he did that days ago. We analyzed everything. Five times. There is nothing else we can find that..."

"NO! I will not give up on him! He would never give up on any of us! We will find him because that is what we do and that is what we have to do now and...and...he fought so hard and now we have to do the same, he fought for his life and..." her voice broke, face white as a sheet. Hodgins got to her just in time to cushion her fall as her knees gave out and she collapsed in a heap on the floor.

"Call an ambulance!"

11 days. That's how long Booth had been missing. That's how long they had all been working themselves into exhaustion – the Jeffersonian team and the FBI – to try to find any clues as to his whereabouts. That's how long it took most of them to admit defeat and lose hope they might find him alive.

11 days ago, when Special Agent Seeley Booth didn't show up for work and couldn't be contacted on either his mobile phone or the landline, the FBI sent a team to check his home. They, in turn, after arriving at the scene, called the 'squints' in.

The place was a mess, the living-room obviously the scene of a fight. There were blood spatters on multiple surfaces, broken furniture, a dent in a wall where a body had been thrown. And, most notably, a large pool of blood on the carpet and a bloody knife. The door was unlocked, no signs of forced entry. Every surface was combed and extensively analyzed by both the Bureau forensics and the Jeffersonian team, searching for the most insignificant detail.

Brennan was at her most professional, cool, collected and efficient. She faltered only for a moment a few hours later when the pool of blood on the carpet and the one on the common, un-traceable knife was identified to be Booth's, as she also established that the quantity of the blood lost was not fatal. Her colleagues got the first hint that something was amiss when she didn't even consider the possibility that what they found in Booth's apartment might not be the only blood lost.

Just inside the door a small drop of powerful anesthetic was found on the floor, leading to the conclusion that someone injected Booth with the drug as he opened the door. Even impaired by it, it appeared that he didn't give up easily, as spatters of the attacker's blood were found on two of the walls. From these spatters and all the other disturbances in the room Angela did a computer recreation of the event, which ended with Booth being stabbed, probably in the upper leg, wrapped in a blanket and carried out by the attacker and another accomplice who apparently waited outside.

By the end of Angela's presentation Brennan's jaw ached from clenching her teeth hard and her nails had left deep indentations in her palms. Her only outward reaction was to calmly send everybody back to do their work. She made her way to the bathroom and threw up, kneeling in front of the toilet and shaking so hard her teeth chattered. She joined the others after less than 30 minutes and never really stopped working.

"Ms. Montenegro? Doctor Hodgins?" they both jumped up from their chair in the waiting room of the ER where Brennan had been brought.

The doctor made his way over. "Doctor Brennan will be fine. We gave her a sedative and connected her to an IV for liquids and nutrients. She should be able to leave tomorrow, if there is anyone that can stay with her...?"

"Yes, yes, of course. So, she's fine?" Angela was leaning hard against her husband.

"She is severely dehydrated and malnourished and beyond exhausted. She's lucky that she is a very healthy athletic young woman or she would have been in serious danger. It is essential however that she takes much better care of herself or she could be back here soon in a much more serious condition."

"We'll make sure. Thank you doctor"

Hodgins hugged his wife tightly, both crying as the adrenaline wore off, the relief that Brennan was OK mixing with the heart-breaking knowledge that they probably won't ever see Booth alive again.