'I'm sorry, but it's true.'
The lawyer's words felt muffled in her ears. So what she'd feared was actually true; Zack Addy was in a Mental Institution. He would remain there until deemed sane, and then be transferred to prison.
'Thank you for the information, Mr. Brooks.' She replied almost robotically. 'I will be in touch.'
'Of course, Dr. Martin.' The lawyer– her lawyer– replied, and then hung up the phone.
Dr. Kat Martin stared around her home office in her brand new apartment. An old friend had already furnished it- hanging all the degrees and awards, and the photographs. Right now, her achievements felt meaningless next to the memories of her best friend, forever captured in a frame.
Five years ago, Zack had been her best friend, not that may people they knew now were aware of it. Partially because he never talked much about himself with others – she knew. But also because she'd been away in Africa for almost half a decade. And even though they'd kept in touch…
'Amazing the difference time can make.' She whispered aloud. 'I left, and you were fine. I come back, and you're in the asylum. Maybe if I'd been here – '
She stopped herself from completing the thought. Kat, more than anyone, knew that "maybe" didn't change a thing. Now was a time for action, and her first act, would be to go see him. Zack would certainly be in for a surprise.
The room used for visiting at McKinley Psychiatric Facility for the Criminally Insane, was very stark and dim. Kat felt uneasy just sitting in there alone. She'd always hated sitting still, with nothing to do. Her hands and eyes craved work, of at least another person. She had always been the people person – but had that changed too?
The jingle of keys announced his arrival. Kat turned to see Zack being lead into the room by a strong-looking orderly. Oh how he'd changed and stayed the same; he was still the same Zack, but thinner, and pale. He looked like he hadn't seen the sun in ages, or eaten much of anything, and the dark circles under his eyes gave the impression he wasn't sleeping much either.
'Take your time kiddo,' the orderly said in a laid-back tone. 'She's way too cute to be your sister.'
Zack waited until he had left before speaking. 'Kat, you finally came home.'
'Five years of digging in African dirt, sleeping in a tent — I began to wonder if Archaeology was even worth it.' She said with only a trace of a smile. 'But that's not why I came here; to talk about myself. I really need some answers Zack. Please tell me what's going on.'
Zack drew in a deep breath, and let it out as a long sigh. 'Shortly after retuning from Iraq—which I know I wrote to you about in my emails—I met a man who called himself The Master. He was a cannibalistic serial killer, and he made me his Apprentice. I was made to do whatever he told me to—or die. The Apprentice was expendable—I was expendable.'
'What did he make you do Zack?' She asked, not really wanting to even know the answer.
'I gave him information which led The Master to one of his targets; I changed my findings in evidence; I stole canine teeth from Jeffersonian skulls; and I created an explosion in the lab, which led the team to find me out.'
Kat was a little confused. 'How does that add up to being declared insane Zack? It isn't logical.'
'They believe I killed the target on The Master's behalf. This was my plea bargain.' Looking up, his eyes shone with defiance. 'I would rather be here forever, than in prison or on death row.'
Kat found herself lost for words. Her eyes drifted away from Zack's face defeated face, and came to rest on his gloved hands. Guessing what was underneath the black leather, she touched one lightly. 'I'm guessing the explosion?'
'I miscalculated the blast, because Hodgins was standing too close for too long. It was three times stronger than I had planned, and nearly destroyed my hands.' He said bitterly. 'Here, they allow me to undergo therapy, and I've regained eighty percent motor function.'
'Is that the upside to being here?'
'There are others.' He admitted. 'They monitor the patients well, and I don't share my room with anyone. My ward is small, and the other patients avoid me. Only the orderlies and my therapist know I'm quite sane, and I've sworn them all to secrecy.'
The look in Zack's eyes was bitter, and it broke Kat's heart. Zack had never been a bitter person when she had been here. 'This should never have happened to you Zack.' She said quietly. 'I should never have left the U.S.'
'Kat.' He said firmly. 'I made my choices, and for a lot of very interesting reasons. If you knew, you'd be proud of me.'
'I already am Zack.' She said with what she hoped was a half decent smile. 'Even if all of this just feels like "fair is foul, and foul is fair" to me. But as long as everyone from the Jeffersonian has come to see you, I know the world hasn't gone crazy.'
'They have.' He assured her. 'Even Agent Booth has been here. I was actually very surprised; he usually avoided me as much as possible…'
Kat just smiled. She was relieved to hear that Zack still had other friends. He'd lasted six months so far, with their support. 'In your emails—up until you stopped sending them anyways—they sounded like great people. I hope I can meet them.'
Zack nodded. 'At least before you leave for another dig. Do you have any ideas as to where the next one will be?'
'I think it's time to put my Archaeology PhD aside.' Kat admitted. 'I want to be here, when all of this is over; I'll find a position as an Anthropologist somewhere. I didn't complete my degree before you for nothing!'
'Dr. Brennan is still looking of another assistant.' Zack said thoughtfully. 'I suggest you send her an application. She would certainly appreciate your credentials.'
What would I do without you Zack?' She sighed.
'You would find another long-distance friend, though maybe not one as intelligent as me.'
Kat dared another look into Zack's eyes, and caught a glimpse of him as he'd before; innocent, sheltered, and awkwardly charming. It caused her heart to pain her the same way it had to say goodbye all those years ago.
'I guess I need to get going.' She said quietly. 'But I'll be back. I wish I could come more than once a week, but it's enough.' She stood to go.
'Goodbye Kat.' Zack replied, and catching a hold of her hand, gave it a light squeeze with his still-healing one. 'I hope you get that job.'
Kat made it out of the asylum, across the parking lot, and into her car before the damn broke. Then the tears came in a flash-flood as she cried for her best friend; the one she'd always cared about more than anyone else in the world.