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Zack ducked his head, shrugging to resettle his backpack and shoving his hands into his pockets. He let himself walk just a little faster. He didn't run. Running didn't work.


He just had to get inside; he was more than an hour early, and he'd stashed some clothes in his locker in case of emergencies. He'd hoped to get further than his second day at the Jeffersonian before an emergency arose, but it somehow didn't surprise Zack that he hadn't.

"Dammit--kid! Wake'n'Bake!"

A hand caught Zack's shoulder, spinning him around, and Zack lifted his chin. Dr. Hodgins--just call me Hodgins, kid, doctorates are a dime a dozen around here, which meant Hodgins had two and a half cents' worth--was glaring at him.

"What the hell is your name?"

"Zack," Zack said firmly. "Zack Addy."

"Z to A, right, I knew that. Look, Zack, this isn't college, you can't show up high on the second day."

Zack gritted his teeth. "Do I seem intoxicated to you, Dr. Hodgins?"

Hodgins' frown deepened. "You smell high," he muttered, but he was looking into Zack's eyes, which Zack knew perfectly well weren't bloodshot or dilated.

"What the hell is going on, then?"

Zack shrugged stiffly. "I'm staying at the youth hostel down on--"

Hodgins let go of him with a look of distaste, holding his hand away from himself as if he wanted to disinfect it before it touched anything else. "They're paying you to work here, Zack, you understand that, right?"

"The Jeffersonian is going to pay me to be Dr. Brennan's student," Zack corrected. "For the next two weeks, my budget is fairly limited."

"Three weeks," Hodgins corrected, frowning. "Maybe five, the way paperwork... you can't stay in that hostel for a month, Zack. You can't keep showing up smelling like you're living at a Phish concert."

Zack blinked. He hadn't noticed any seafood smell. "A fish...?"

Hodgins rolled his eyes. "You need a shower. And an internet connection, apparently. Do they have the internet in Wisconsin?"

"Michigan," Zack corrected impatiently, raising his right hand and waggling his fingers. "It's the one shaped like a mitten. And I was going to take a shower before you interrupted me. There's a shower in the lab. I have clothes in there."

"Yeah, there are also people in the lab. Dr. Goodman, for one."

Zack winced. He'd been hoping he was early enough...

Hodgins shook his head. "He's always in early if you're trying to get in earlier, and he's not going to look kindly on anybody walking in smelling like you do. You'll be fired before you have time to miss a cultural reference."

Zack couldn't leave Washington with another doctorate half-finished; his mother would never let him live it down. "So what do I do?"

Hodgins looked down at his own hand and then sighed and dropped it, seeming to accept his state of contamination. He slung his other arm around Zack's shoulders and turned him around. "Come on, my gym's a few blocks from here. I can get you in, and they'll wash your clothes while you get cleaned up."

Zack blinked. He'd known you could get all kinds of services in big cities--he wasn't a hick--but this still seemed above and beyond. "They do that?"

"They do when I tell them to," Hodgins muttered, tugging Zack into motion. Louder, he said, "I guess you're going to need a place to stay for a while, too."

Zack dismissed Hodgins' sotto voce remark and refocused on the larger problem. "Yes, I suppose I will. Do you know of anywhere inexpensive? And clean?"

"I have a spare room," Hodgins sighed. "And a philanthropic streak, God help me."