A.N. This story starts off some time early on in Season three (about the Mummy in the Maze or just after) and then skews off into AUness.
It was a seemingly ordinary day in late November for Dr. Temperance Brennan and her team at the Jeffersonian Institute. For the past few weeks not many bodies had been found that required the team's expertise, so they filled their time with the backlog of bodies that were stored at the institute, hoping to finally identify them, and return them to their grieving families, providing both closure and answers.
That day was different. It had been about midday when the phone had rung. Brennan and Zack were studying the bones of a old Limbo case (a middle aged woman, who had died of a heart attack, in the middle of a park), whose identity was unknown. Angela was in her office, trying to reconstruct the woman's image, while Hodgins was examining some bugs he had found in his garden that morning under his microscope, so Dr. Saroyen picked up the receiver, silencing the ominous ringing.
"Hello, this is the forensics lab at the Jeffersonian institute, Dr. Saroyen speaking, Can I help you?" she spoke into the receiver.
"Is Doctor Addy there, please?"
"May I ask who is calling?"
"His brother, Steve. It's an emergency"
"Alright, one moment please."
Cam set the receiver down and hurried to where Brennan and Zach were working. While she'd been on the phone, Booth had shown up planning to invite the Squints out to lunch (naturally, so he could spend more time with Bones). Seeing the Special Agent, Angela and Dr. Hodgins had hurried to meet him.
"Do we have a case?" Hodgins asked as Cam reached the group.
"No, nothing at the moment." Booth said.
"Why are you here then?" Dr. Brennan had asked
"Aren't I allowed to visit my favourite team of Squints?" Booth used his most charming smile on Bones, while Angela rolled her eyes.
"Zach, your brother is on the phone." Cam cut in, and Zach looked at her.
"Which one? I told them not to call me at work."
"Steve, and he said it was important."
"I'll take it here." Zach said, more to himself than to his colleagues, walking to the desk at the edge of the platform, and picking up the phone receiver.
"Steve, what's wrong. I told you not to ring me while I'm at work." Zach was silent as Steve spoke.
"Wait, what happened?" Zach fell silent again as Steve said something else. The rest of the Squints were all looking at Zach, picking up on the sudden anxiousness in the younger man's voice.
"Are the police investigating?" Zach asked, running his free hand through his hair, before resting it on the edge of the table, gripping tightly. The others froze when they saw tears shining in his eyes. Something was, obviously, seriously wrong.
"Do the others all know?" Zach asked, and Steve replied quickly.
"Okay, I'll go and tell her in person, we should be up there by Sunday. I'll call you after I tell her." Steve obviously approved of this plan, because Zach spoke again very quickly.
"See you soon, then. Bye." Zach put the receiver back in its cradle, took a deep shuddering breath, and turned his back and hurried towards his office. He closed his office door and leant against the wall, sliding down until he was sitting on the floor. He leant his head back and blinked, tears flowing from his eyes and down his cheeks. A gentle knocking was heard from the door. Zach contemplated locking the door, but knew that it would be no good, so he wiped his eyes and opened his door, still sitting upon the floor. Angela was at his side in a second, wrapping him in a bear hug, which caused Zach to burst into tears again. The others were all behind her.
"Hey, buddy, what's wrong?"
"You should tell us what happened, maybe we can help" Bones added, and Booth nodded.
A strange, hollow, voice spoke, "Not unless you can bring back the dead, Dr. Brennan." It took the others a moment to realise that it was Zach that had spoken.
"What do you mean?" Bones asked
"It was my oldest brother, Steve. He rang to tell me…" Zach faded off.
"Go on, Zach," Angela rubbed his shoulder encouragingly. Zach looked up at the group, his second family, and his tear filled eyes met everyone else's eyes.
"My parents were murdered last night."
"What?" Booth asked. Zach blinked, and tears rolled down his cheeks. He wiped them away.
"Steve told me that he was going around to help Dad put up the Christmas lights this morning, and when he got there, the door was wide open, and their bodies were sprawled out on the lounge room floor. They'd been shot in the head, execution style. Steve rang for an ambulance, and the police, but there was nothing they could do, they were both already gone." Zach sniffed, and Angela embraced him again.
"Oh Sweetie, I'm so sorry."
"Are you going to be okay?" Bones asked.
"Bones, he just found out his parents are dead, of course he isn't okay" Booth rolled his eyes, and Bones glared at him.
"Can we do anything for you, Zach?" Hodgins asked, not knowing what else to say.
"Steve asked me to go and tell my little sister, so I guess I should go and do that."
"Where is she, I didn't know you had family in DC?" Hodgins asked.
"She isn't in Washington, she's in Ohio. She goes to College there"
"How old is she?" Booth asked.
"She'll be twenty in late January. This is her second course at College level."
"What does she study?" Angela was interested, as Zach didn't often talk about his family, but they sounded like nice people.
"She's studying Computer Science, with a minor in forensics. She's already finished a degree in Technology security, majoring in program design." Zach said, and the others could hear the pride in his voice.
"Wow, impressive" Angela commented. Zach nodded.
"She's always loved computers. By the time she was twelve she could completely take a computer to pieces, and put it all back together."
"That's a little freaky" Booth commented.
"Are you going to ring her?" Bones ignored Booth, and Zach shook his head, his hair falling across his face.
"No, I'll go tell her in person. It's on the way, anyway. I'll need to book a flight though."
"Don't worry about it, if we wait until the end of the day, I'll drive you back to your house, and we'll pick up your little sister on the way."
"Hodgins, I can't ask you to do that, it's a long way, besides, my sister drives, she has a car, she'll probably drive the rest of the way."
"I can at least get you as far as Ohio, Zach. You know how hard it is to get flights at this time of year."
"Hodgins," Zach protested.
"Zach, your parents have just died, let me do this for you." Hodgins grinned.
"And, assuming that this won't become some male bonding road trip, I'll come too." Angela added, "For both morale support, and so Hodgins isn't alone on the trip back."
Zach looked conflicted for a moment, before finally giving in to his two closest friend's wishes.
"Okay, you can help me."
"You three can go home" Cam spoke up, "So you can get all your packing done."
""How long do you think you'll be gone for, Zach" Bones asked as Hodgins helped pull Zach to his feet, but the younger man shook his head.
"I don't know" he said.