It was painful in here, and incredibly boring. Zack had spent the last three days drifting in and out. When the pain got too bad, there were drugs. When the nightmares from the drugs got too bad, there was pain. In the long stretches in between, there was a whole lot of nothing.
Without the use of his hands, he was stuck needing help for even the most mundane activities. He couldn't even pee by himself, leading to complete humiliation. As much as he had wanted to have pretty girls put their hands all over him, this was not exactly how he had envisioned it. He couldn't watch television or DVD's; he couldn't even read by himself. Someone else had to hold the book and turn the pages, or read it out loud. After three days of listening to his mother stumble through an ancient Russian text, he had given up entirely.
His mother. Just the thought of her, and how much he had disappointed her, made it feel like a hole was being ripped in his chest. She had fought bitterly for him, demanding the best doctors, the most experienced surgeons. The first few nights, she slept in the uncomfortable pull out chair next to his bed, until he had convinced her she needed to go home to the rest of the family, that she was needed more there.
She hadn't been in today. It was his brother Samuel's graduation, and the entire family was celebrating that. He had been invited, back before everything had blown all to hell, and he should have been there now, celebrating the biggest event in Sam's life so far. Instead he was here, with a ruined body and a murder charge to boot. But the worst part had been when she left last night. She had paused in the doorway, her face torn, and spoken to him in a voice he could barely hear. "Did we do something wrong, Zack? Your father and I? We tried, even when we knew you were different than the others. Should we have done more? Less? I don't get what we did wrong."
He had tried to reassure her, telling her how much he loved her, that she had done everything she could have. It was true. Even though she and his father had never quite understood this strange son who read at age three but never quite mastered the basics of baseball, they had loved him. They had done their best to provide him with every opportunity to learn and been proud as he met and surpassed all expectations.
Even though he told her over and over that she couldn't have done anything different, he could read the doubt in her eyes. "Mama, I screwed up. It was me who did it. Not you. You did everything right, and I'm the one who was wrong."
She had smiled sadly. "When you have a baby, you'll understand. When they screw up, you do to. I love you baby."
He had whispered back that he loved her too, and to tell Sam congratulations. He didn't have the heart to tell her that he wasn't going to be having any babies. The only women he was going to be seeing were the ones that passed out the medications at the sanitarium. 23 years old and his life was already over.
There had been a time, really only months ago, when he had thought that he might. Being over in Iraq had given him the urge to settle down, not take his work so seriously. He had started something with Camille….what should he call it? A fling? A relationship? He didn't have enough experience with such matters to be sure.
It had felt like more than a fling, but it was too secretive to be called a real relationship. She had sworn that the reason he couldn't say anything was that she was his superior, not because she was ashamed of what she was doing, or of being seen with him, but he had heard that line before.
Today was shaping up to be a long day. He was supposed to have his third rehab session this afternoon, after his first surgery a few days ago. He had been torn between wanting to ask what would be happening today, and wanting to remain ignorant as long as possible. It was pretty much a moot point anyway. He wasn't completely bedridden, but he also wasn't allowed any contact with the other patients or volunteers at the hospital. He was pretty much permitted to speak to the nurses or doctors, and his visitors (not that he had many).
So he was surprised to see he had a visitor at all, even more so when he saw who it was. Special Agent Booth was standing in the doorway, looking like he wished he was anywhere else.
After a minute or so of silence, Zack took pity on the man and spoke first. "Hello Agent Booth, why are you here? I already told you what I can remember, which should have been everything you needed. Did I leave something out?"
He always referred to Booth by his title. Dr. Brennan just called him by his last name, or even Seely on occasion, but Zack had never done it. Agent Booth had earned his title through hard work and suffering and he deserved to be addressed by it. He was still somewhat of a legend among the Rangers, some of whom Zack had met in Iraq. At the time, he had been too shy to tell them that he knew the man, but he had been impressed none the less.
"No, nothing like that. I just thought you might want some company."
No he hadn't. Agent Booth never spoke to him unless he wanted something. Which meant that he had somehow screwed up the directions to the Masters home. He hated that the world was still capitalized in his mind; like that man had actually been everything he had promised instead of some stupid cult leader. A stupid cult leader that Zack had been dumb enough to fall for. But he couldn't have messed up the location, he had been very careful to get everything exact.
"I don't get it. I told you how to get to the Masters place, and I'm assuming you did, or you wouldn't be here, so how come you came back? I shouldn't be any more use to you." It made him nervous not to know what was going on. Agent Booth and he had an unspoken agreement. He didn't talk to Agent Booth unless it was absolutely nesacery, and in return, Agent Booth didn't beat the crap out of him. Fine, that was a little unfair. Agent Booth had never threatened to hurt him, but he was huge and Zack wasn't about to take that chance.
Speaking of Agent Booth, he noticed for the first time that there was something in his hands. "Yes we found him. He's dead. I thought…well, I thought we you might be lonely, so we could spend a little time together. I brought milkshakes."
It was too hard to focus on how he felt about the Master dying, so he decided to center on the other part of the man's sentence. His throat had been sore the past few days, the result of a breathing tube during the first, emergency surgery, and the thought of some ice cream was glorious. He could feel himself smiling for the first time in days. Agent Booth smiled back, although his eyes seemed more troubled than before. "You want chocolate or strawberry?"
"Strawberry." Honestly, he didn't care, but he knew Agent Booth liked chocolate, and he didn't want to anything that might piss the man off and make him leave. He wasn't expecting anyone else to visit today, and he was starting to get damn lonely.
Agent Booth expertly moved the bed around so he could sit up and drink the milkshake properly. The man also got a bendy straw for him. Not for the first time, he wondered how many hospitals Agent Booth had been in, and what his injuries might have been. The man certainly seemed comfortable with the needs of someone stuck in a hospital bed. Zack did have access to Agent Booth's medical records, but he respected the man far too much to invade his privacy like that. It was actually sort of nice that Agent Booth didn't try and fuss over him or feed him like he was a baby. He got tired of his mother and even the nurses doing that. The Agent did exactly as much as Zack needed, then left him to do the rest himself.
The milkshake tasted good against his swollen throat. For a minute he focused on the simple pleasure of tasting something that wasn't hospital food. He looked sideways at Agent Booth, noticing that the man was doing the same thing. He seemed to be gathering his courage to speak.
Here it came. The million dollar question: Why? Why did you do that Zack? Why did you kill that man? Why did you listen to someone who was unbalanced enough to eat people? Why did you choose an agent so unstable a mistake would nearly blow your hands off? Why didn't you just ask someone for help? He was so fucking sick of having everyone from his therapists to his father ask that question. He didn't know why he had done it. It had made such good sense at the time, when the Master was saying it, but now he could see it for what it was: premeditated murder. Still, he hadn't told anyone else that and he wasn't going to tell Agent Booth either.
But Agent Booth didn't ask. Instead he looked up with eyes that suddenly seemed a hundred years old and muttered. "Listen Zack, I'm sorry."
That came as a genuine shock. What could he possibly have to apologize for? The older man was smart and capable and had done his best with Zack, who had finally proven to be a lost cause. "For what?" Even when he thought again, he couldn't see how Agent Booth bore any blame in this. "What do you have to be sorry for, I'm the one who messed up?"
It was a genuine question, but it seemed to throw the agent for a loop. He shifted uncomfortably in the chair, leaning back and putting his hands behind his head. For long seconds he looked up at the ceiling, as if the answers he was looking for might be etched into the perforated tiles. Finally he looked back down at Zack. "I'm sorry things turned out the way they did. That all this happened and no one was able to help you and that you didn't ask for any help."
Unexpectedly, it brought almost brought tears to his eyes. It was only the fact that he had no way of wiping his own face that kept them in. He wasted a few minutes wondering what would have happened if he had come to Agent Booth or any one else and begged for help. Told them that he knew who the Gorgamon was, and that the man had contacted him directly. If he had done that, Dr. Brennan would have been able to use her logic in him then, instead of when it was already too late.
Whether Agent Booth sensed Zack's discomfort, or was just reacting to his own, he stood up and took Zack's empty cup, throwing both drinks away. He paced the room for a second, clearly trying to gather his thoughts. It was something Zack had noticed about him early on. The man was definitely a kinetic thinker; he only seemed to be able to put it all together when he was moving. Finally he returned to the chair, sitting down and locking Zack's eyes. "Did they talk to you about the deal?"
For the past 24 hours, no one had talked about anything else. The nurses discussed it among themselves, when they thought he was asleep or too drugged up to know what they were saying. Because of his criminal status, they had to attend to him in pairs and after a while, they usually became extremely gossipy. His lawyer (the expensive one that his parents couldn't afford but had hired anyway) had gone over it in detail, telling him how foolish he would be if he didn't take it. His therapist had wanted to talk about nothing else yesterday, how he felt about it, did he think it was appropriate, or should he be punished more harshly?
Zack hated the therapist, who insisted on being called Andy and wore bow ties and always looked at Zack the same way he might look at an insect he was getting ready to squash. He had wanted the therapist Agent Booth and Bones got, but had been told it would be a serious conflict of interest. He noticed that his companion seemed to be waiting for an answer.
"Yes. They find me mentally incompetent and I go to a secure mental facility for an indefinite amount of time, until it is either determined that I am fit enough to stand trial, or that I am legally insane, which we both know I'm not." It was almost verbatim what had been written on the paper. Zack found he tended to do that a lot when he didn't really understand what as going on, just memorize what he needed and spit it back perfectly. "I know you had a lot to do with that, Agent Booth and I'm grateful. I don't think I would make it in prison."
It was the truth. He remembered going with his aunt and mother to pick up a cousin who had been arrested for stealing. His mother had brought him along, hoping that the sight of all the men behind bars would scare him badly enough that he would never end up there. It had worked, especially after one prison had whispered what they did to pretty boys like him when his mother had turned her back.
Zack almost didn't ask what he did next, but curiosity got the better of him. "Is Hodgins really mad at me? He hasn't come to see me at all. Of course, I can't blame him under the circumstances but I thought he might." He would have come to see Hodgins if their roles had been reversed. At least he thought he would have.
A strange light entered Agent Booth's eyes and his hands twitched as he thought. "He'll be here. He knew it was you all along, or at least before the rest of us did, and he tried his best to protect you. He loves you, despite it all. He just needs a little time. We all do."
Really? Zack was impressed on both counts. First, that Hodgins had known that he was the apprentice. He wondered what had tipped the man off. Had it been something about the explosion? Zack didn't think he'd left any sort of evidence behind, but it didn't take much for Hodgins. It surprised him that the man wouldn't say anything though. After all, he had a very well developed sense of right and wrong, and killing an innocent person definitely fell into the latter category.
It was something to think about, but he could do that later, after Agent Booth was gone. There were still questions he needed to ask, and he knew the nurses would be along soon to hustle out any lingering visitors. "Is Dr. Brennan alright? She's going to have to replace me now. Of course, she would have had to anyway, because, you know." He held up his left hand, the one with the IV needle in it. His companion cringed a little, a flood of difficult emotions running across his face.
Zack tried to ask his next question in a casual tone; although he wasn't sure he wanted to hear the answer. "I'll bet you wish you had let me die then, huh? Then you wouldn't have to come out here or call in favors to get me into the nuthouse. It would have all been taken care of for you." Normally, he would have been more sensitive than to use such an antiquated term for where he would be going, but he was getting tired and his hands hurt and he really didn't care anymore.
He could tell by the guilty look on Agent Booth's face that he was probably right, at least a little, but the man hurried to cover it up with as much logic as possible. "Then we still wouldn't have known who the Gorgamon was and we'd be right back at square one, except without you."
Honestly, what where did the man think they were right now? Even if by some miracle he was found not guilty, there was still the fact that he was physically unsound. No, that was putting it lightly. He was going to need several more operations and months of physical therapy before he was going to have any movement in his hands at all. If he was lucky, in the end he would be able to have some individual finger movement. A more likely scenario was that he was going to be using his hands like crab claws for the rest of his life. He let his eyes fall shut, fighting a losing battle with the pain that was starting to sweep up his arms now. "You're without me now."
He didn't open his eyes because he didn't want to see the look on Agent Booth's face when it all hit home for him. He had done enough damage already, and he just couldn't stand the thought of being witness to anything else.
A nurse entered the room; he could tell by the brisk rubber-soled footsteps and spoke to Agent Booth. "I'm sorry sir, but Mr. Addy needs his rest. You can come back and see him tomorrow." For a brief second, Zack was tempted to tell her that Booth was an older brother and thus entitled to stay longer as an immediate family member. It would probably work, the Addy family was big and he had had a constant stream of visitors. One more would likely go unnoticed. But if he got away with it now, and someone else found out, it would reflect badly on not only himself but his friend too, and he would get Agent Booth to get in trouble and he didn't want that.
The chair scraped as Agent Booth stood. The big man came to the bed and lightly tapped Zack's jaw. It was a surprisingly intimate gesture, but since Zack was in bandages up to his shoulders, maybe the man wasn't quite sure where else to touch him.
"I'll see you later. Do you need anything?"
He needed a lot of things, but nothing that Agent Booth could realistically provide. "A time machine would be nice." Hey, you never knew. Hodgins had been swearing that the FBI had had the technology for years, but was keeping it a secret from the masses.
Suddenly, the other part of what Agent Booth had said hit home. He would see Zack again. So the man planned on coming back. It was a definite comfort to know that, despite it all, the agent was willing to stick with him, at least while he was hospitalized. Again, he wished he had had these thoughts and revelations while they still would have counted for something.
He sensed rather than saw the agent's smile. "Yeah, well, I'll let you know about that." There didn't seem to be anything else to for either of them to say so Agent Booth left, shutting the door behind him. The nurse took his pulse and checked all his machines efficiently, before speaking to him. "You're appointment physical therapy has been moved to three today."
It made his stomach drop. PT was easily the most painful thing he had ever done. It made the actually burning in the lab feel like nothing more than a bee sting. For a second, he actually considered calling after Agent Booth and begging him to stay so he could miss the appointment. But he forced himself to keep his mouth shut. He had gotten himself into this mess, and he could deal with it like an adult. There wasn't going to be any calling for Agent Booth or Dr. Brennan or his mother to help him.
Miserably he rolled over to bury his face in the pillow. The IV line prevented him from lying completely on his stomach, but it was enough to hide what he was about to do. Finally, overwhelmed by everything that had happened and was about to happen, Zack Addy put his face against the worn pillow and cried.