Thinking Clearly
Rating: PG-13
Pairing: Zach/Hodgins slash
Summary: Zach wakes up and finds a metaphor.
Notes: Was written for twincy in Yuletide 2006.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bones the tv series or the books by Kathy Reichs (which are awesome and everybody should read them).

Zach had his head buried underneath the covers but he knew he hadn't been awake for very long. His head felt heavier than normal. He thought about getting up but his thoughts were sluggish. It was like hearing static on a badly tuned station. He thought this metaphor was too unoriginal and plain. A man of Zach's intelligence should be able to come up with something snappier.

It was like thinking (running?) underwater. It was like a human skull, clogged with mud and lodged on a riverbed - a thing of delicate beauty, if it was handled and cared for correctly. Zach wondered what his own skull would look like. He'd handled enough to make an educated guess but he'd never had his own head so much as x-rayed. He grudgingly had to concede that the sutures wouldn't have completely fused at his age. His skull wouldn't be particularly heavy in build (he's been called scrawny and runt more than once) but it'd still be identifiably masculine. He knows this means a more protruding eyebrow ridges, a deeper mandible and heavier cheekbones but can't think of any one of these that particularly apply to him.

He was seized by a moment of utter horror imagining even an expert like Dr Brennan misidentifying him as a woman. Angela would sketch his features with long hair and delicate eyelashes. Angela drawing him as a woman is more amusing than horrifying. In his mind, he sees his stubbled jaw paired with Angela's mop of hair arranged artistically on top. Zach would make an ugly woman so the y-chromosome must be reflected in his features somehow, even if it can't be pinpointed. In any case, it's disrespectful to think of Dr Brennan making such a mistake. If there was doubt about the sex determination of the skeleton, a scientist like Dr Brennan would make a note of it and instruct Angela to make two sketches.

He reminds himself that his thoughts have veered away from the original point of the metaphor - not being able to think clearly because his skull is in need of cleaning. A fisherman might find it in the river and call Booth. Zach's not sure why the FBI would be involved and he doesn't know enough about the fine procedural details of police-work to make a decent guess. He just knows Booth would be involved because Booth is always involved in their most dramatic investigations.

He then gets the idea that maybe Booth is the starting point for their investigation rather than a random fisherman who wouldn't know a radius from an ulna. Booth could use his powers of psychology and observation to wheedle details of a past crime out of a suspect. The suspect would be there for something completely unrelated but Booth would trick them into confessing. Zach even imagined Booth frowning and nodding while the suspect surrendered everything out of tragic desperation. When the moment was over, Booth would pull out his cell phone and call Dr Brennan, even before leaving the interrogation room.

Dr Brennan's excavation would be compassionate but it would also be cautious, methodical and professional. It would be what the dead required. She would free the skull from the riverbed where it had been entombed but she wouldn't clean it right away. She wouldn't risk washing away the particulates and trace that could solve the mystery. She would wrap it up in plastic and transport it back to the lab, still weighed down by mud.

Later at the lab, Hodgins would remove the larger particulates and then wash the skull under a gentle spray of water. Mud and river clay would slough off from the outside of the bone, collected in mesh as it drained away. Hodgins would talk loudly as he worked, cracking bad jokes and trying to flirt with Angela. However, he would be good to the skull. He would be thorough because he is good at his job.

Even when no more mud would wash off the outside of the skull, there would still be some lodged inside the cranial cavity. This would mean that Zach still couldn't think clearly. So, Hodgins would soak the skull in water, cradling the precious bone in blue-gloved hands. The mud would loosen, turning the water the colour of chocolate and stale coffee, as Hodgin's clever fingers would prise the rest of it loose. Zach is vaguely aware that Hodgins would probably not be the one to wash the bones this way but he's inexplicably fond of the mental image. Hodgins has good hands.

Finally, the skull would sit there, clean and off-white, and Zach would be able to think clearly again. This image summoned a feeling of warm satisfaction somewhere in the vicinity of Zach's ribcage, as if he had finished a good day's work rather than just imagining it. Pleased, he huddled deeper into the soft pillows confident that it was a Sunday and he had no need to be at the Jeffersonian. Abruptly, a lingering suspicion arced into realisation like charge between positive and negative nodes. He froze rigid in the bed. He was fully awake and it had nothing to do with his metaphor.

It had just occurred to him that the pillows under his head were not his pillows. The bed and the covers weren't his either. A quick glance around confirmed this wasn't even his apartment. He'd never seen this room before. It was a nice room, the furniture sparse but expensive. There was a polished, wooden side-board and small canvas paintings without frames. The solid silver-blue of the wall was a decoration in of itself. It felt Japanese to Zach but he couldn't pinpoint exactly why he thought so.

A sleepy snuffle from behind him made Zach's heart beat faster in his chest and his eyebrows pull together in a worried frown. He was almost afraid to turn over and find out whose bed he was in. If it was Dr Brennan, Zach knew he wouldn't be able to stop the hysterical giggling that was building behind his teeth. Just in case, he shut his jaw and felt the giggle become a vibration in his sinuses.

He rolled onto his back, staring at the ceiling and its fan. It wasn't like office fans; it was almost devoid of decoration but in a way that still felt expensive and stylish. Zach had been taught that decoration defined an object's style and that it was an afterthought, not essential to the object. The fan was disturbing as style had been engineered into the thing from the very beginning. It blurred the distinction between the familiar functionality of science and the apparent whimsy of fashion. Zach told himself to quit stalling and turn his head the rest of the way.

The other occupant of the bed was facing away, the covers bunched up and covering the face. Zach's mouth opened but the giggle had flat-lined in the surprise of recognition. He was grateful it wasn't Dr Brennan, he feared that as much as he wanted it and finding Angela would have been like sleeping with his sister or his aunt.

The mop of curly hair should have surprised him more than it did. He'd admitted to respecting Hodgins but it still must have taken him a lot of alcohol to end up here. Zach may not be as experienced as his colleagues, but he knows his own body and he knows that he had sex last night. Apparently with Jack Hodgins, and he didn't expect to feel this okay with it. It feels good and feels better as he remembers the rest of the night that led them here. It even explains why he's fond of Hodgin's hands.

The End