Warnings: None, really. Spoilers for season three finale, but I'm sure most everyone has seen it by now.
Also, now that season four has started airing, this story is a bit of an AU fic. But that doesn't mean it's not an awesome story! (this is my bias)
Disclaimer: If I owned it, Zach would not had done what he did. Zach's just too cool to lose.
Summary: He looks back, and he misses it. Zachintrospective
He misses it.
He misses looking at bones and making his conclusions while Dr. Brennan is watching over his shoulder. He misses bringing slime and particulates to Hodgins, then standing around joking while the results are coming in. He misses talking with Angela, those sweet, heartfelt talks where she calls him 'sweetie' and acts like an older sister with him (but not like his real older sisters, because they didn't treat him like Angela does). He misses being ignored by Booth, because it's a bonding ritual between males, and he misses the threats of violence and being shot, because that's how he knows Booth cares.
He misses them, and he regrets it all.
Regretting it doesn't make it go away.
Sometimes, late at night, when there's no one else around, he wishes…
Well, it's not important what he wishes.
"What do you wish for, Zach?"
It doesn't matter what he wishes, because wishes are illogical and inconsequential. It is silly to think that anything will change just because he wants it to. What is fact is reality and nothing can change that. Not wishing, not longing, not anything. Except time travel, perhaps. Hodgins showed him a movie once where the main character went back in time and changed his past, so his future would be better, only it wasn't. Everything was worse. Everything was wrong and messed up.
But maybe, if he had done it differently, it would have been better. He was smart. He probably could have chosen the right things to change to make everything better.
But time travel is illogical, just like wishing, so there's no way to change what happened, and since he can't change it, there's no reason for him to want it to be different.
"What do you wish for, Zach?"
He wishes it was all different.
He knows it's illogical, but he can't help it, late at night when the orderlies are walking down the halls doing the room checks, and his roommate is snoring away like a buzz saw and he can't get to sleep so he just stares at the moon and wishes that things were different, that he could go back and make the other choice, the one where things didn't turn out the way they did.
He wishes that he hadn't killed that lobbyist, that Ray Porter was still alive. He can still feel the jerk of the knife as it slices into the man's body (oh god, oh god, he killed another person, oh god), can still smell the copper blood flooding his senses. Can still see the look in the man's eyes as the nice young anthropologist stabs him. He wishes he never did it.
He wishes he turned away from the Master, that he didn't listen to the Master's words. At the time, the words had been so convincing, the argument had been everything he'd needed to follow.
Just like that lady said, the one that had come in so long ago to do their security check. He'd told her he couldn't be bribed or threatened for information.
"What if I made a reasonable rational argument? Very persuasive."
"Irrefutable. I make an irrefutable argument as to why you should give me this piece of information. Would you do so?"
The Master had made an irrefutable argument to why he should join the Master's cause, and he'd given the devil his soul.
"Not without checking with Dr. Brennan or Angela first. See what they said. Maybe Agent Booth if he talked to me but he probably wouldn't…I'd check with Dr Hodgins but he'd say it was all part of some conspiracy, so I mostly only take his advice on women."
He wishes he could go back. He wishes he could talk to Angela or Dr Brennan or Agent Booth. Agent Booth would have listened to this.
Even Hodgins. Hodgins would have stopped him before he went this far.
In fact, he wishes the Master hadn't approached him in the first place.
"Don't call him the Master, Zach."
What else is he supposed to call him? The Master is (was, he's dead now) the Master.
"Call him Gormagon, like everyone else."
He knows he should. In his head, he knows that it's wrong to keep calling the man the Master. Hodgins flinches whenever he does, and Angela says that it means 'Gormagon still has a hold on you, sweetie. You can't move on if you don't let him go.'
He knows he should, intellectually.
"Because he made you belong. You owe him that debt."
Exactly. The Master gave him something to belong to, something to believe in beyond himself. Everyone else had (has, they're still alive) something like that. Hodgins has his conspiracy theories, and Angela has her art and her quest to find true love (he was glad she'd gotten together with Hodgins; they were good for each other). Dr. Brennan has her bones and the hope of reconciling with her brother someday. Booth has his job and his love of justice, his need to make things right.
He'd never had anything like that. He'd just…wanted to belong somewhere, with something to believe in.
"You belonged at the lab."
At the lab, he'd never thought of himself as anything more than a convenience. Someone that Hodgins could blame when things went wrong. Someone that Dr. Brennan could treat like an assistant, even though he has his doctorates now, and he is…was an actual employee. Someone to take photos at the crimes scenes, someone to clean the bones.
He'd never realized they actually cared about him, as something more than a convenience.
"What do you wish for the most?"
He wishes that he'd never gone to Iraq. He'd looked at it as…a way to fit in with society. He'd always been so bad at that, but so many people were fighting for their country, and he'd wanted something like that. He'd wanted to belong there, too.
Only it hadn't worked.
He wishes he hadn't gone, because going had thrown everything into a different perspective. He'd started doubting himself over there, and it hadn't changed when he'd come back. Oh, he was still totally and utterly confident in his abilities in the lab and on the field, even more so in the field now. But in everything else, in life itself, he'd lost what little confidence he'd had, and he'd hardly known what way to go.
He thought perhaps that was why he'd listened to the Master's words. He couldn't even remember the arguments the man used, those seductive, irrefutable arguments, but he'd been so under-confident, and the Master had given him something to believe in, something beyond work, that he…he'd just…
He'd believed it all.
And he'd followed like a lamb to the slaughter.
And now everything was ruined.
He'd never work again. His hands are inoperable now, unable to do the fine detail work needed. The prosthetics are big and clumsy, and it's hard enough using a spoon to eat, let alone pinching tweezers to pick up a piece of bone, or carefully fitting together pieces of a shattered skull.
His friends, his impromptu family, they're gone too. Agent Booth never comes by (not that'd he'd ever seemed to pay too much attention to him when he was around, male bonding and everything), and Hodgins visits sometimes but it's hard, because it's always so busy at the labs. He knew what that was like, once upon a time. He usually talks to Angela, but that's only on the phone, just once a week with his weekly phone call. She'd never come.
Dr. Brennan hasn't visited once.
He hasn't seen her since that day in the hospital room.
Dr. Syaoran, he sees occasionally, more than the others. Sometimes she comes with interesting books and reads to him during visiting hours, like she had done in the hospital, turning the pages and sitting beside him so he could study the pictures. She'll talk about the others, about how they were doing (but never active cases; he's no longer eligible to that information), and it's…nice to hear about them.
But he doesn't like it.
He doesn't like the guilt, the feelings that bubble up inside of him whenever he sees one of the others or talks to them. He doesn't like the way he'd betrayed them, betrayed their trust and everything they'd been through for this, for…for nothing at all.
He gained nothing, and he lost everything.
Now wonder people were driven to suicide.
"You want to kill yourself?"
No, but he understands it now. He'd never been able to fathom why someone would willingly want to take their own life, especially when it seemed like most of them had something going for them, be it their money or their family or their jobs.
But he understands it now. It's the feeling of losing everything for something that didn't really matter in the first place. It's being unable to look friends or family in the face because if he did, he thought he would cry or throw up, the guilt is so overwhelming. It's wishing things could be different, even though he knows they never can be.
It's when every breath is a trial. When it feels like the very air is burning, or freezing, and it's hard to take even the smallest gasp. When even the lightest touch on his flesh makes him want to scream, because it reminds him that he is a sinner and he shouldn't be touched. When everything looks dark, and people stare at him and wonder, or talk about him behind (and in front of) his back, which only makes everything all that much darker.
It's when simply living is painful.
He understands the urge to die so much more fully now, more than he'd ever expected he would. More than he'd ever wanted to.
He would never do it, of course. He can't stand imagining the looks on Angela and Hodgin's faces, and he supposes Dr. Brennan and Dr. Syaoran would be hurt too, though they would probably hide it a little better. Maybe even Agent Booth too, though he has trouble imagining what the agent's face would look like.
Sure, if he were dead, he would never know how they reacted.
But he can imagine it, and he knows he would never put them through that kind of pain.
He loves them.
That's why he'd done it all.
But he wishes he could go back.
He misses it.
He wants to go back.
"Well, that was very good for today, but I'm afraid our time's up. I'll see you next week, Zach."
…he wishes that he doesn't have to come back.
A/N This was my first ever Bones Fic. It's set after 'Pain in the Heart', and since I've only seen the first season and 'Pain in the Heart', I'm pretty sure I stayed relatively IC with everyone.
It's also my first fic without slash, haha.
And my first non-anime fic.
Heh, this story is stealing all of my firsts. Maybe now I'll actually finish some of those Numb3rs fics I've got and post them, now that I've stepped outside the anime box. XD
Zach was just so…wonderful, that I had to write this little introspective piece about him, especially after 'Pain in the Heart'. And I got this. I know there's a bunch of Zach-asylum fics out there, but they're all done different and I hope mine doesn't fit the mold.
I hope everyone likes it!