Title: Failure
Author: kitsunerei88
Characters: Zack Addy
Genre: Introspection
Rating: G
Spoilers: Season 3 Episode 1, The Widow in the Windshield
Summary: Dr. Zachary Uriah Addy has never failed at anything before.
Disclaimer: I don't own Bones.
Authors Notes: There appears to be a lack of Bones fanfiction about the minor characters. That must be remedied. Also, I love Zack.

Failure

Dr. Zachary Uriah Addy has never failed at anything before. He has an IQ of 187. He graduated from high school, top of his class, at twelve. He finished his concurrent undergraduate degrees, magna cum laude, in forensic anthropology and applied engineering at sixteen. He fast-tracked to a doctorate in both fields, and came out on top of fourteen other applicants when he was chosen by Dr. Temperance Brennan to be her grad student. He finished both of his doctorates at the age of twenty-four, though he knows he could have finished them at twenty if he hadn't dawdled on his dissertation's completion.

Thus, Dr. Zack Addy has never failed at anything before. So it is understandably a shock when the military psychiatrist sits him down across her battered, worn desk in Iraq, and sends him home.

"You haven't assimilated with the other soldiers, Dr. Addy," the stern woman tells him, resting her elbows on the desk and folding her hands together. "You're a detriment to the military's team approach."

Zack only stares, his face impassive, knowing what is to come. He is rational, intelligent; he has known long before this that this would happen. His fellow soldiers are crude, tough, emotional types. He doesn't understand them. In high school, they would have been jocks, or at least someone cool. In university, they would have failed out of first year and left, laughing the entire way. In any case, by normal American society standards, they would have largely been failures in blue-collar jobs. But here, here they are good soldiers, and he is not.

His world as he knows it is being turned upside down, and he isn't sure what to do about it.

"I'm discharging you from the military, Dr. Addy. Return to the Jeffersonian Institution," the psychiatrist says, her forehead creased in a harsh frown. Zack keeps staring, emotions hidden. The psychiatrist leans forward, focusing her hawk eyes on him, before she pronounces the next statement. "Do you understand, Dr. Addy?" Her pronunciation is slow, each syllable existing as its own entity in a continuum of sounds.

Zack blinks once, twice. He understands, but at the same time he doesn't. He doesn't fit in with his fellow soldiers, he recognizes that, and he understands that because he doesn't fit in he is only a burden to them. But he doesn't understand why. With that, he says one sentence that he has never said before in his life.

"I don't understand."

The psychiatrist leans back, and he knows that she understands his underlying meaning. She has seen him on more than one occasion. "Dr. Addy, I would ask yourself why the Jeffersonian Institute is the only place you can fit in. Your plane is leaving for DC in three hours. Pack."

Zack stands up, knowing the dismissal when he hears it. He salutes the psychiatrist and exits the dusty office, more confused and distressed than he has ever been before.

--

He returns to the Jeffersonian before even dropping off his possessions. He has no home now, after all. He will need to ask Hodgins if he can live above his garage again. He's not sure what he'll find. Surely they will have filled his position by now? It has been three months, and he knows that Dr. Brennan will have a stack of applicants for his position. She is rational, intelligent, a famous forensic anthropologist. But at the same time, she is picky, and she will want the best applicant for her assistant.

All in all, he calculates a probability of eighty-three percent that his position has been filled. He calculates this rationally, using Baye's Theorem, though he knows that Baye's Theorem is entirely subjective. The calculations comfort him, make him feel more confident.

That done, he enters the familiar Medico-Legal Laboratory of the Jeffersonian Institution, possessions slung in a bag over his shoulder. There is an African-American boy standing above a table of human remains, and Zack breathes a soft sigh of resignation. So his position has been filled. His mind works, making plans at a blurring pace. He will have to ask Hodgins if he can live above his garage, and then he will need to formulate a resume to send to the pure research departments, and perhaps he will send a few also to the universities in the area. Another emotion niggles at him, but he ignores it.

"Zack!" Angela's shriek of joy announces his presence, and before he knows it the entire team at the Medico-Legal Lab has surrounded him. Angela throws her arms around him, and cacophony of excited voices surrounds him. "What are you doing here?"

"Can I," Zack begins hesitantly, turning his gaze onto Hodgins. "Can I move back into the place above your garage?"

"Are you kidding?" Hodgins replies, his expression a clear answer. Yes, of course Zack would be permitted to move back into his garage. His next words, in context, were unnecessary. "Of course! Come here." Hodgins, too, gives him a hug, which Zack finds surprising. Anthropologically speaking, males in Western culture were taught to repress emotion. Hodgins was breaking a minor taboo.

"Welcome home, Zack," Dr. Brennan says, in what Zack would consider from her an astonishing amount of emotion. She wraps her arms around him as well, and he quietly pats her on the back. A part of him is still surprised at the welcome he has received, but they are his friends, aren't they? Perhaps not so much friends as family, closer to him than his real family at home in Michigan. As much as his real family loved him unconditionally, and as much as he loved them back, there was always a divide between them that did not exist at the Jeffersonian.

"Did you get wounded or something?" Zack recognizes Booth, still standing on the platform. If there was an archetype of the ideal Western male, it would be Booth. It is for that reason that Zack admires him to the extent that he does.

Nevertheless, he cannot bring himself to tell his friends of his failure. He knows that Dr. Brennan and Hodgins were opposed to him going to Iraq in the first place, that they would not judge him, and he never consulted Angela or Cam. But to admit his own failure in the military, particularly in front of Booth, would be, irrationally speaking, humiliating. "No, they just sent me home," he replies simply, knowing that they will accept that answer without question.

"When can you start work?" Dr. Brennan asks, her eyes wide with eagerness. She's more than happy to see him back, and Zack feels honoured, pleased. For him, Dr. Temperance Brennan is the ideal forensic anthropologist, the ideal scientist. He loves her, admires her more than any other.

"If you didn't fill my job, who's that guy?" he asks, curious. There is still, after all, an African-American boy standing on the platform next to Booth. He wears the lab coat of the Medico-Legal Lab, though Zack recognizes that it is a spare. His name is not sewn onto the lab coat. That could mean one of two things; he was hired and he didn't as of yet have his own lab coat or he forgot it, or he wasn't yet hired and they hadn't bothered to make him one.

"Nobody," the boy replies, waving his hand. A resigned smile adorns his face, and he clasps his hands together in front of him. Zack understands; he wasn't hired, and Zack's return has just destroyed his dream of working with Dr. Brennan. Zack thinks that he's taking it fairly well, actually.

"Man, you look like crap!" Hodgins says, clapping him on the shoulder.

"Well, Iraq's not a vacation," Cam comments for the first time, a wide smile on her face. Her arms are crossed in front of her, and while Zack would normally interpret that as defensive or doubting, he doesn't think that's it.

"I think you look very rakish," Angela says, tugging at the lapels on his jacket and smoothing his shirt. "Are you starving?"

Zack takes a deep breath, happy to be home and yet slightly uncertain. "Actually," he begins, a small smile making its way onto his face, "I'd like to get into whatever you were talking about, before Dr. Brennan's mental problem."

--

Zack loves the Jeffersonian Institution. It is, first and foremost, the place where he feels understood. After having stood out in his own family, in high school and university, he likes the feeling of fitting in at the Jeffersonian. At home, only a few people he knew would get even one doctorate, let alone two. Here, he is not the only one with multiple doctorates. Hodgins has three, which given the man's youth is a clear indicator of his brilliance. Only Angela lacks one, and she makes up for it with good instincts and amazing artistic ability. Well, he corrects himself, Angela and Booth. And Zack knows that Booth is in his own way talented, being a top FBI agent and an accomplished sniper. He has heard tales about Booth's sniping abilities in Iraq, though he would certainly not bring them up around the man.

And then there's Cam. He's not entirely sure what to make of Cam, whose street-smarts and police experience set her apart from the rest of the team, but whose doctorate and intelligence makes her one of them. She is also, he recognizes, very perceptive.

"Why did they send you back from Iraq?" she asks, her gaze focused on him. Somehow, he is simultaneously surprised and not surprised. She is not as perceptive as Angela or Booth, perhaps, but she is the only one who has noticed his preoccupied and disturbed state of mind. He will need to dissect this problem later, when he is alone.

"I failed to assimilate," Zack replies softly, without thinking. "Despite my accomplishments, I was detrimental to a military team approach." His own answer, the truth, is also surprising. He feels closer to Dr. Brennan, Hodgins and Angela, but it is to Cam that he reveals why he is sent back? A distant, rational part of him questions why. Yes, he will certainly need to dissect this exchange later. He needs to understand why.

"Well, you're very good for our team approach," Cam says, laying a hand on his arm. It is meant to be a comforting gesture, and somehow more words are forced out of him.

"The army psychiatrist said that I should question why the Jeffersonian Institution is the only place where I can fit in," he says, quiet, his gaze meeting hers. Why does he feel like he trusts her more than the others? He admires Dr. Brennan and Booth, but he would never tell them something like this. Likewise, it was completely irrelevant to Hodgins and Angela. Completely irrelevant.

He knows that if that is the case, it is also irrelevant to Cam. He doesn't know what's wrong with him.

"All due respect to the army psychiatrist, but that's a hell of a lot more than some people get," Cam pats him on the shoulder reassuringly, turning to leave the lab. "Go home, Zackaroni, and get some rest."

Fin