It was dawn and there was nothing, still nothing. They were all still sitting in Bones' office but Booth needed to get out of there. He turned to Bones who was dozing.
''Bones,'' he whispered to her, ''I need to go home, to be near Jake, I need to go home.''
She looked at him for a moment and nodded, she glanced around at the others. Two of whom were sleeping and one staring into space.
''Yes, they can come too. I'd like them to come too.'' Booth understood what she was asking, this was their family and they needed to be together.
''What if something happens?'' She was alarmed they would miss any developments.
''We can be back in minutes, I can't sit here anymore, I need to go home,'' Booth tried to explain but Bones seemed to know. She wanted to surround herself with Jake as well and their home was where they could. She knew that this need stemmed from the first seed of a growing belief that they may have to mourn him but it was just too horrible to consider. It would remain unspoken between them, to speak it made it seem real.
''Josie and Phil need me as well,'' Booth mentioned Jake's grandparents who were completely distraught. She stood and they all left together.
They had returned just after dawn, they had not stayed long. They threw water at Jake to wake him up and gave him a small amount of fluid. It was just enough to keep him alive and then two of them had left. However, one had stayed in the outer room, Jake could hear a radio and the sound of splashing water. What was that? Jake frowned, the sawdust and the sound of water churning, he was in a mill, a saw mill. He was cold, had got progressively colder through the long, dark hours and the freezing water made it even worse. He was shivering and shaking, terrified after a night alone and abandoned. The constant sound of animals added to his fear and it was a night that nightmares were made of. He had sobbed for hours before falling into fitful sleep. Now he was trying to gain some control of himself, find the resolve to be brave as his dad would be but even in the daylight, despair was starting to win. His dad, Jake knew, wouldn't give up. He would find him but Jake had to help him.
Booth lay on Jake's bed and fell asleep, it was a defence against the increasingly terrible images that were haunting him. It was midday and nearly twenty four hours since Jake had been taken. There was no contact and Booth was beginning to become more and more convinced that it was some pervert who had taken him. Booth knew this meant Jake was dead, another child on a list that was too long and another family destroyed, his family.
Bones found Booth in Jake's room where she knew he would be. Jake's abduction was all over the media, there were news vans outside and a large volume of calls but not the one they were waiting for. There should have been a news blackout but it had been too public for that, so it was a damage limitation exercise. The FBI continued to portray it as random child abduction but the press were aware that the boy had a FBI Agent as a father. The Agency passed that off as a coincidence and the media had accepted that for the time being. Cullen wanted them to return to the lab where the media could be kept at bay. Cullen knew that Booth would not come back to the FBI building but the lab, he would. Watching Booth sleep, Bones decided that Cullen could go hang. They would handle this as they wanted and the FBI was not going to bully them. Bones lay down next to Booth and he cuddled her to him. She felt comforted here, Jake's things were all around them and she soon fell asleep.
Jake could hear people but they were in the distance. It sounded like families and he even heard dogs sound came closer and he heard a muffled conversation. They moved away and the man called out a farewell, he was American. Jake had thought about shouting or kicking the wall, it only needed one person to hear. It was too risky, the man would come in and he could discover Jake's loose hands. Jake was cold and thirsty, he felt himself getting weaker. He knew he had to wait until the man left for the night before he released his hands. He needed to hold on and wait.
Booth woke up with a start, he was confused for a moment and then he remembered. Bones was sleeping next to him and he just laid there, he could imagine it was not real if he stayed here. Booth tried to pull himself from the black hole that was threatening to engulf him. He knew that he had to find his son, dead or alive, it was his duty.
Zack knocked nervously on the bedroom door and when there was no answer, he stuck his head around. Booth looked at him and sat up, Bones stirred on the bed next to him.
''Booth?'' Zack was tentative.
''Yes Zack,'' Booth felt weary as he spoke.
''I know that Jake spoke to his friend over instant messaging and people are working on that. But can I try?'' Zack waited.
Zack's friendship with his son had softened Booth's attitude to him and Booth knew that Zack was suffering as they all were. Booth thought rationally for a moment, Zack was better than any FBI expert. He would ignore Cullen, this was too important, it was all they had. It was dark Booth realised, it could be too late already. He swung into action and everyone was roused, the computer moved and they returned to the lab.
At last it got dark, Jake was stiff and very cold but he knew he was alone again. The man had given him some water and left. It occurred to Jake that these guys were not very good at kidnapping, the man hadn't even checked his ties and they left him alone all the time. Jake had seen enough movies to know that you just didn't do that if you were a professional kidnapper.
Their shortcomings allowed Jake his opportunity. Jake released his hands and quickly removed the tape from his mouth. He breathed in deep gulps of air, it felt so good. Jake had been sure he was going to suffocate throughout his ordeal. He untied his feet and looked around him. He walked slowly to the door and listened. When he was sure there was no sound, he tried to open the door but it was locked. He thought for a moment and then began to kick at a wooden plank with fury, kicking and kicking until it gave way.
He crawled through, stood up and hobbled to freedom. He could see a creepy old house and woods to his side, it was pitch black, no lights. He put his fingers to his face, there was a split above his left eye and it stung. He touched it and his fingers came away wet with blood. The blood gently trickled down his face, the movement had opened the wound again. It felt good, if he was bleeding, his heart was beating, he was alive. Jake realised that he was miles from anywhere and he could not find his way home unless it was light. Jake made a decision, he needed to hide and come out when the sun rose. The woods looked scary but staying where he was, well that was scarier, they could come back. Just because they had stayed away all last night did not mean they would do the same thing again. Jake took a deep breath and disappeared into the dark trees.
Booth was impatiently pacing behind Zack who was desperately trying to trace what had happened through Jake's instant messaging. It was complex and took time, the one thing they didn't have. The others stood looking at Booth and waiting. Bones went over to him and placed her hand on his arm, he stopped pacing and stared at her with surprise. He nodded, going to stand quietly by the table.
An agent appeared and placed a plain brown package on the table, Cullen followed him.
''It just arrived at the front door, we're questioning the delivery guy now,'' he said abruptly.
It was addressed to Booth, this was personal, the kidnappers wanted him to open it.
He gloved up and watched intently by all in the room carefully removed the seal. He pulled out Jake's white football shirt, they had slipped up because it was covered in evidence. The kidnappers had wanted to push Booth to put pressure on the Agency but it was an error. It was clear that they were amateurs and that gave the squints a way in.
Booth didn't see any of that, all he saw was the blood, the bright vivid red of his child's blood.
''Oh Jake,'' Bones whispered as she also could only see the blood.
There was a moment when no one moved but then Hodgins removed the shirt carefully from Booth's hand and took it away to work on. Booth was frozen,
''There's no note,'' he said in a stunned voice.
''We'll find him now,'' Bones moved to him and put her hands on his face turning him to face her.
''Trust me, now we'll find him.'' she said quietly.
The call came through FBI Headquarters at the same time that the parcel had been delivered. They wanted Alison in exchange for Jake, it was the result of the job gone wrong, all that time ago. The agent on the line asked for proof of life and the distorted voice laughed at him.
''You'll have to take my word for it,'' it said and then the line went dead.
The phone was quickly traced to a discarded cell in a trash can in London, picked up by MI5. The owner could not be found, it was an off the shelf type, it was totally untraceable. As the FBI did not do deals with kidnappers so the team were on their own. The only thing they had was the shirt but it was enough, the science would prevail.
Hodgins soon had what they needed.
''It has river water on it with minute traces of iron, we also have this,'' Hodgins held up a tiny insect trapped in tweezers.
''Ixodes Scapularis, a deer tick common in New Jersey, in particular. There is sugar sand, again New Jersey,'' Hodgins related the facts as he found them out.
''It's Jake's blood but it's not arterial, not oxygenated enough, it's probably from a superficial wound,'' Zack turned from his computer.
Booth felt a wave of relief and a sudden belief that Jake was alive, he knew then that he wouldn't give up, never.
''Well Jake's blood type anyway, we can only be sure if we profile it but there's no time for that,'' Zack added.
''What does this all mean?'' Booth was frustrated,'' Do you know where is he?''
''Well, the sawdust is from White Cedar, I'd say definitely New Jersey, a mill probably,'' Hodgins hypothesised.
''New Jersey is huge and covered in the Pine Barrens, it doesn't really help,'' Bones was dismayed.
Booth looked at her sharply,
''Don't give up, never give up,'' he said.
Angela had listened to all this and a memory was stirring.
''Deer tick, sandy earth ,good for blue berries, iron,'' she looked at Hodgins who was nodding, ''sawdust, a river, a mill, New Jersey,'' she said. Her mind was recalling a long forgotten trip with her school.
Boring talks about mining and local trade, dire warnings about ticks sucking your blood. The water wheel at the mill, the fascination of watching the water churning and the teacher ruining it by insisting on telling them all how it worked. It came back in a rush and then she knew.
''I know, I know,'' she said,'' I know where he is.''
''Batsto Village,'' Zack and Angela said together. Zack's computer matching Angela's thoughts.
It was the sort of place that people dragged their kids to on a Sunday afternoon, just to get out of the house. It was not somewhere for a hideaway for kidnappers but that's why it was perfect.
''Batsto Village, Wharton State Forest, New Jersey,'' Zack said again,'' that fits all the evidence.''
''Are you sure?'' Booth wanted to believe it but he needed to be sure before he started hoping.
''It fits,'' Zack was sure.
''There's a helicopter ready to go, we'll be there in under an hour and I've alerted the SWAT team but they'll wait,'' Cullen ushered Booth and Bones through the door.
'Good luck,' Angela shouted after them as they ran out.
It was the longest hour of their lives but then they were standing looking at the dark shape of the saw mill. The SWAT team were in place but they were still assessing the situation. Booth wanted to just rush in and get his son but he knew that he had to be patient so he waited. Booth had his arm around Bones, the bond between them cemented by the hours that they had suffered together.
After all the waiting, the end came quickly. The SWAT team stormed the mill in a hail of gunfire and shouting. They burst into the backroom but it was empty.
Booth stood in the room, looking at the ropes and tape lying on the ground, there was a bloodstain in the middle of the floor. His eyes were drawn to it and the implications hit him causing a lump of despair to form in his chest, they were too late! Booth put his face in his hands, his hope spluttered and died so finally he began to cry, grief for his lost boy ripping through him. Bones placed her arms gently around this large sobbing man she loved so much and cried with him.
Cullen watched them, stunned that it had come to this in a dark room in New Jersey. He turned and left.
Jake was huddled under a bush, trying to get warm. He was exhausted and disorientated. He jumped as he heard the distant rat-a-tat and the sound of shouting. What did that mean? Had the kidnappers returned and found out he was gone? Why would they be shooting? Who would they be shooting at? The questions came thick and fast. Jake felt confused and curled up in a ball and put his hands over his ears. He was safe here, he just wanted to stay safe, so he closed his eyes and didn't move.
Booth and Bones stood close to the edge of the forest watching the activity. Cullen came over.
''I'm so sorry, Seeley,'' He was at a loss.
''I know you are, everyone is sorry,'' Booth had stopped feeling and he wanted to get away. Take Bones and run. Go home and lock the door, keep the world out and what was left of his family safe. They just stood, the three of them as people worked around them, there was nothing else left to do.
After a few minutes, a thought began to form in Jake's head. Someone had come for him, they had come for him. Jake decided to be brave, it was becoming a habit. Jake struggled to stand up and then made his way slowly through the trees towards the sound.
Jake had reached the edge of the trees and he hesitated. He peered through the dark, he could see the yellow letters on the jackets, FBI. He wanted to run out to them but his legs were heavy and uncooperative. There were three people some way in front of him. One of them was tall with broad shoulders, it had to be.
''Dad?'' Jake's voice was weak, he hadn't spoken in almost two days. He could see the figures but he wasn't sure.
''Dad?'' he said a little louder, stumbling forward.
Booth stopped and turned,
''Dad,'' Jake smiled and collapsed, his father caught him.
Booth swept his son up in his arms. Jake looked awful, he was bleeding from a gash above his eye which was swollen and bruised, his lips were cracked and weeping. But to Booth he looked like the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen.
Bones rushed forward.
''Jake! Jake! Is he breathing?'' she was afraid.
Booth checked, yes, he was breathing but it was shallow and he was blue with cold.
''Paramedics, we need paramedics,'' Booth shouted.
They were there in a blink of an eye. Booth held onto Jake for a moment reluctant to let him go.
''Please give him to us, let us do our jobs, we need to help him,'' The paramedic was gentle as she prised Jake away from Booth.
They rode to the hospital in the ambulance. Booth clutching his hand but Jake didn't open his eyes.
''What's wrong with him?'' Booth was desperate, were they going to lose him anyway despite all this?
''He's severely dehydrated and hypothermic but apart from the cut on his eye, he seems fine,'' the paramedic tried to reassure them as she put a drip in Jake's arm.
Booth sat by Jake's hospital bed holding his hand and waiting for him to wake up. Bones was at his side where she had been for the last two days. He turned and smiled at her, kissing her gently.
''Thank you, Bones,'' he said simply and turned back to Jake.
The doctor had declared Jake fit but had sedated him as a precaution although he had shown no signs of waking up. The cut above the eye would need some corrective surgery as it had already begun to heal, it was too late for simple sutures. It would probably scar, Booth thought Jake might like that, a battle wound. Booth had felt such anger when he realised that these adults hurt his child but he swallowed it, this was not the time for anger.
''Dad?'' Jake's voice was croaky. Booth stood up, thanking God as he looked into Jake's eyes.
''Hey Kiddo, how are you feeling?''
''Well, I've been better,'' he cracked a joke. Booth could not believe it, he cracked a joke.
''I knew you wouldn't give up,'' Jake said and fell asleep again.
Booth kissed his forehead and whispered,
''On you, never.''
Booth turned to Bones who was smiling happily at him, a sudden urge came over him. He took her hand,
''Bones, will you marry me?''
Bones considered for a moment,
''I want at least two more kids you know,'' she said sternly.
''I was thinking of a houseful,'' Booth moved forward and kissed her.
The deal was done.
So readers, we have reached our conclusion. I am very sad, I will miss them all.
I know that most of the characters are someone else's creation but Jake is mine. I am pleased how he fitted in. It was dramatic I know, as is the show. I took a few liberties with the geography of Batsto Village. I hope you can forgive me. If you have any doubts about Jake's reactions and choices whilst he was being held. I tried really hard to establish his character through out to make this part believable. I tried to potray him as clever and brave, also mature when he needed to be. I did try to retain that he was also a normal kid in many ways. I hope I achieved that. Thanks for staying with it, it was long and if there was a drop in the quality of the writing at times, I apologise. I also know Cam was missing, I don't like her much and it seemed pointless to include her. That's how I feel about her role in the show these days, she was good in the beginning as Booth's love interest but she gets in the way now. Just my opinion and as it was my story, I left her out.
I have to say a big thank you to my reviewers, it is really useful having others people's perspective. I'm sure some of you saw your ideas in the fic, I hope you don't mind but they were good ideas.
A particular thank you to the following;
And to all my other reviewers once again, thank you for taking the time.
I have had an E Mail talking about the grammatical errors within my writing and the points are valid. I will probably edit the text again at some point but that's just because I want it to be right. It will have to wait though as I have a life that I have to give some attention to. With that in mind, I hope those errors did not ruin the story for any of you. If it seemed choppy, then I apologise but I will try to fix that at some point, although I think it may be my style.
I have a sequel in mind but I'm not sure I can put Jake through anymore. Let me know what you think, ideas as always gratefully accepted.
It will however have to wait a while as I have a dissertation to write.
Hope you enjoyed it, it was a ball to write.