A/N: OK so the mini tantrum of maglio3118 has encouraged me to finally update this. Maybe some of you will hate where I take this story, maybe you'll like it. Read and review either way. I'm also looking for a beta if anyone's interested.
"Why can't we charge him with kidnapping anyway?" asked Angela for the third time. "I mean we know he killed those other two people, probably molested them or something freaky like that before he killed them, and he stalked Brennan. No judge wouldn't consider it a possibility."
Booth sighed and fell back into a chair in the lab. The team hadn't taken the news that Owens was not the kidnapper well.
"Possible isn't actual. Besides….I don't think it was him. You didn't hear the way this guy talked about her. Like a college art student talks about the Mona Lisa. Worshipping, admiring, but they wouldn't dare try to paint it themselves." Booth closed his eyes and pressed his head against the glass tabletop. "I really wanted it to be him." Cam patted his shoulder.
"We all did Booth. But that doesn't mean we can't still find her kidnapper. Doesn't the FBI normally give disappearances a three days period before they say finding a person becomes unlikely?"
"Yeah something like that." Booth didn't sound the least bit reinsured. Zach had remained quiet throughout the whole discussion, an expression etched across his face as if he were working out a difficult logic problem. Suddenly he stood and spoke up.
"What if she wasn't kidnapped?" He was met with four pairs of confused eyes.
"You want to run that one by me again there Zach?" asked Booth.
"Well we've been spending all our efforts here looking for Dr. Brennan's kidnapper based on the assumption that she was, in fact, kidnapped. But there's no solid proof of that. We have the security tapes proving she left for Dr. Saroyan's car by herself, her camera bag handle, and a small puddle of blood. With the exception of the cut, not torn, strap, it all points in the direction of kidnapping, I grant you, but Dr. Brennan always discouraged us from making leaps based off insufficient evidence."
"So you're telling me that Bones sliced her won body, tore off her camera bag handle, and stole Cam's car? For what? Why would she want us to think she was kidnapped?"
Zach's face again took on its confused look.
"I'm not comfortable making any leaps as to why right now."
"Then be uncomfortable. Come one Zach, why?" Booth was looking more frustrated by the minute.
"It's just…maybe it's not us that she wanted to believe she'd been kidnapped. Maybe it was the killer."
Upon hearing the words, something clicked in Booth's head. Every time Bones had spoken of how angry and disgusted she was that the killings were happening in her honor, he's written them off as natural responses to the situation. But he should have known Bones better. He should have known that her mind worked like one long drawn out math equation. And her response to being stalked and worshipped would be to simply take herself out of the equation.
"Ah hell," groaned Booth.
"What? You know where she is?" asked Angela.
"No, but I've got a pretty good idea."
"I should've know you'd come here."
Bones jolted from the couch, a look of mild surprise on her face.
"You should've known I'd come to my own apartment? That's not a normal place for kidnappers to hide their victims." She was thorwn by the incredible sadness on Booth's face.
"It is when you kidnap yourself. You knew that the FBI would search your apartment, look for clues, and that would be it. You were 'taken' in a parking garage, not your apartment. And only the worst kidnapper on earth would take his victim back to their own house. And you knew that. You drove around Dc for a few hours, laid low, and when you were sure the FBI was done with you apartment, you snuck back in."
"I thought it would take you a while longer to figure it out. Which was a good thing. The longer you spent thinking the stalker had me, the quicker you would find him."
"That theory doesn't really work for most kidnapping cases Bones. Hardly any of them in fact." His hands were shoved in his pockets and he leaned agaist the door fram of her living room. He made no move to get closer to her.
"But I've worked with you. I know what you're capable of. If there was anyone who I'd trust to fnd him, it was you."
"While your trust doesn't exactly make me feel all warm and fuzzy inside, you should know that we caught him. His name is Lewis Owens. He works at a butcher shop in town. He's a big fan of the books."
Of all the greetings Bones had anticipated upon Booth's finding of her, the cold dry humor did not facotr in. It left her feeling slightly annoyed.
"I just want to know why you did it Bones? We could've done it with you. Hell we might have even done it faster. You didn't need to do this."
"The tributes Owens left me were based on his desire for me to see them. if he thought I was gone, if I wasn't around to find them, he might stop." Booth nodded his head, as it confirmed what he had thought in the lab earlier.
"You still didn't have to do it. You have no idea what you put me through."
No Bones was kind of pissed.
"I have no idea? I don't know what you went through? Booth, you let me and the rest of the team at the Jeffersonian spend a week thinking you were dead after being shot by your own stalker! You had to deal with a day. I had seven. That is hell. I'd say we're more than even now."
Booth had spent half of her speech staring at her arm as she waved it in the air. A thick white bandage was covering the outside of her forearm. Bones saw where he was looking and instinctively covered her hand over the bandage.
"I thought the blood would make it more convincing. I cleaned the cut. It will heal fine."
For the first time since he'd foudn her on her couch, Booth moved. He walked over to her and held up her arm. Very carefully, he peeled back the bandage. Along her forearm there was four inch cut ending at her elbow. The angry red line was puckered and healing, despite being no more tha a day old. Booth traced his finger along side it, as if he were trying to memorize it. Then, just as gently as he'd taken it off, he replaced the wrapping and looked into Bone's eyes. She still couldn't understand the sad expression on his face.
"You know," she started, "I don't regret-" She was cut off as Booth's lips pressed into hers.