Summary: "No, see, she can't be talking to me because I," he said, hooking his thumbs under the lapels of his suit and preening, "am wearing Prada." Oneshot. B/B

Rating: M (just to be sure)

Author's Notes: This story came to me as a single line of dialogue; it snowballed from there, picking up a couple of hundred words with each roll down the literary mountain until I got this.

This, by the way, is not beta-ed; I always try to get rid of spelling mistakes and typos (not to mention abide by some of Strunk & White's rules) but mistakes always seem to make it through to the last draft. . . stubborn bastards.

I apologize for the delay in the third chapter of Bad Deposit. I know where I'm going, though, it's almost finished. I'm truly ashamed. You can flame to a crisp if you want thought that's not what I would like…it's your prerogative :)

If you review this fic it is highly likely that your bad cholesterol will plummet and your blood pressure normalize. Reviewing just does that to you, honest to goodness it does, I read it in a doctor's blog.

Spelling Booboo Patrol Announcement (December 2006): I fixed a spelling boo-boo (Alfa instead of Alpha). I have to thank makd (thanks for the rec! And no, I don't mind!) for pointing it out and rock and glass. Thanks guys!

Spelling Booboo Patrol Announcement (February 2007): Thanks to Cassandra for the heads-up about my deplorable grammar. I shipped the story to the bestest beta ever, mint expresso and she did a wonderful job. She's mine, though. Only my beta. Kidding, kidding. I recommend her to any writer who wants his/her stories to be grammatically sound and spelling booboo free.

Anyways, hope I can get a chuckle outta ya,

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Booth clasped his hands on his knees for support and hunched to be levelwith the vent's mouth.

"Yo, Bones, which part of—" Booth realized that he was talking to Bones' butt, because at the moment, she was crawling towards a body that was far down a ventilation shaft. Booth straightened up and cleared his throat.

Now that Bones' butt didn't play a prominent role in their conversation, Booth let loose.

"Listen, Bones, do you have some type auditory-dyslexia I should have been informed about? Like, for instance, I say 'Do not under any circumstance do this', and you hear 'Be my guest, it's a free-for-all'?"

Zack stood besides Booth where he'd been since Booth had called them both about a pile of smelly bones found by a group of starry-eyed contractors looking to stash dynamite in every conceivable corner of an old factory. They wanted to blast themselves a brand-new playground to build, profit and be merry, thus contributing their share to America's construction boom.

Booms and dynamite, for some not-so-obscure reason, reminded Booth of Bones, so:

"You know, there are people—people who know this vent maze—who are working on finding another way to your bones. But noooo—"

"When rats are present, evidence becomes time-sensitive, Booth," Bones explained, calmly.

Then Booth heard three pops, coming from inside the vent.

Bones said, "That phalange is mine."

"What the hell was that?" He yelled to Bones then swirled his head around to face Zack.

The closest way of describing the creeping terror Booth felt would be to compare it to that of a parent who just realized he'd lost his daring 6-year-old inside a circus. Unsupervised and unrestrained, she could, if the fancy struck her dauntless heart, take a swing from 20-feet trapeze (without a net) so she could retrieve her pink balloon which had escaped her clutch and floated up to the tent's ceiling.

This was a recurring feeling he had with Bones. She always kept him on his toes with her über-rational-yet-irrational ways of going from A to B, of getting what she deemed necessary.

One of his hands attached itself to his left hip; the other hand had its index finger pointing at the vent's mouth. "What is she doing? What's popping in there?"

Zack, unperturbed as a Buddha on Valium in his blue Jeffersonian jumpsuit and headlamp explained, "It's imprudent to fire a gun inside the vent; a ricochet might damage the evidence. Dr. Brennan is attempting to preserve the integrity of the remains by keeping the rats away via her BB-gun."

Booth stared at Zack. Zack stared back.

"Of course, Bones is doing exactly that," Booth finally said, mocking the blasé stare and tone Zack had given him.

Squints. Need them to squint for you but you can't staple their mouths shut.

Booth took a peek at his watch. He leaned closer to the vent so his voice had an easier travel down to Bones' dyslexic ears.

"Hey, Bones, I have a thing at the FBI. A brunch. A coupla big wigs are coming, it's my shot at putting that schmuck Tomlinson to shame. I feel the mojo flowing in the networking arena, so"—he clapped his hands and then wrung them in anticipation—"I'm gonna take off now and send down Agent Beal, okay? Play nice with the kid;you're his first forensic anthropologist."

It worried Booth that the amount of wriggling noises traveling to his end of the vent had increased and that Bones was not acknowledging his parting words.

"Bones?"

"My jumpsuit caught on something," she said, after eliciting a powerful yet powerfully feminine grunt. "I'm stuck. I can't—it's all tangled," she said, looking back at Booth and Zack, blinding them with her own headlamp. "I need your help."

"Good things come to those who wait." Booth straightened up and gave Zack a congratulatory smack on the back, effectively shoving him a step closer to the vent and causing his headlamp to tip down, covering his eyes. "Best of luck. I'm off."

Booth made a happy 90º twirl on one heel—

Zack pulled up the headlamp and adjusted it precisely to where it'd been. "I am sure Dr. Brennan is talking about you."

—he twirled another 180º to face Zack again. Booth burst into a chuckle that said 'Zack, you clueless geek-o'.

"No, see, she can't be talking to me because I," he said, hooking his thumbs under the lapels of his suit and preening, "am wearing Prada." He grinned.

Zack stared again. Booth's grin disappeared and he stared back. After three seconds, Booth flattened his tie by sliding his hand over it, slightly wary of what was behind the squint's collected stare. "For my brunch. So—"

Bones yelled, "Booth! If you were shot in the head and left in a ventilation shaft would you like for me to let the rats run off with your phalanges?"

She's gotta be kiddin—

He leaned into the vent, careful not to stain the cuffs of his shirt. He squinted, trying to distinguish Bones face behind the glare of her headlamp.

"Bones, c'mon. You've got Assistant Chipmunk here. I know I'm all muscle and strong and—"

"Zack's mildly claustrophobic, Booth."

Bones grunted, pushing herself forward in an attempt to free herself. It didn't work. "I think I've cut myself," she said in a matter-of-fact tone.

"Hey, this vent is mildly small. He can make it."

Bones reached a conclusion: "I cut myself," she said.

Booth closed his eyes and inhaled a deep purifying breath that wiped out the brunch from his mind; leaving only Bones, the cut she'd just inflected on herself and his aversion to seeing the woman in any kind of pain.

"Stay still, for Chrissake." He turned around, shrugged off his jacket and handing it to Zack. "Do not let it wrinkle." He loosened the knot of his silk, skinny tie and placed it on top of Zack's extended arm. "Guard these with your life."

Zack eyed the jacket and the tie, draped on his arm. "Yes, in case a 6-foot-tall rodent wants to steal it."

Booth glared at him. "Funny." He punched him in the arm; playfully, he wanted the food chain well established. "Hysterical," he mumbled as he rolled up his shirt's sleeves. "Hilarious."

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"Why oh why couldn't you wait, for once in your life. Once," Booth said as he crawled towards Bones.

The vent was maybe an inch wider than the width of his shoulders and he couldn't stretch his arms to their full length without cracking his head open on the vent's roof. A tight squeeze if Booth ever saw any. He wondered how tight it was going to feel when he reached Bones.

"You make it sound like I'm not trying to preserve evidence. Like I'm doing something wrong," she said, looking at him.

He stopped crawling to shield his face from the glare. "Do you mind?"

She swiveled her head and shone the light on the body, still being nibbled by squads of persistent scavengers. They ventured in from the other end of the vent, attracted by the smell of human buffet.

"No, Bones, your intentions are always good; it's the means I have a problem with."

Booth saw the rats. Then he smelled the body—he buried his nose in his freshly laundered shirt. "HOLY MOTHER OF GOD," he said in a muffled voice.

"You are grumpy this morning," she said and then popped two shots from her BB-gun. A cluster of rats squeaked and scampered off, confused, perhaps, by the armed creature that had invaded their ecosystem.

"Hey! I was a ray of sunshine 5 minutes ago, Bones."

Yeah, well, he had been.

"I want you to know this is an exception. Not a precedent. You getting in a mess, me in a new suit crawling to save you? Not a precedent you can relay upon in a future situation. You hear me?"

"I hear you but I don't know what you mean," she replied, then popped two more shots. "And I don't need to be 'saved'," she added.

"What I mean—wow, funky smell—what I mean is this Bones: If you, say, you fall down a well because oh, I don't know, you are trying to get a foot bone or something when I specifically tell you to wait. Right?

Say, also, that this fateful day you take a header down a pit I'm wearing a new suit, a great-looking suit like this one, see? 1500 dollars. You know what's gonna happen, Bones? Since this is an exception and not a precedent? I'll tell you what: I'll buy you a yummy chocolate pudding to pass the night and that's it. I'm not rappelling down a stinky, dirty well to scoop you up. This is not a precedent."

Bones turned around when she heard him approaching. "I understand. Not a precedent," Bones said. She sounded a lot like she was humoring him and would grab that hypothetical foot bone no matter what.

Finally, Booth reached Bones' ankle. She was on all fours and unable to move, glued to the vent's roof by a God knew what kind of snag disaster. It was at the end of this short recon glance that Booth realized the extent of the problem, mainly for himself. Mainly for any man in the same situation.

The space was small. Small as in he was going to squeeze through a narrow space left by Bones' left hip and the vent's wall only to reach the part of her jumpsuit that had snagged—which was somewhere around her waistline.

It was hot inside the vent. He forgot about the precedent talk.

He cleared his throat. "What are we, um—how do we go about this, Bones?"

She removed herheadlamp and set it on the vent's floor, pointing at the body. Booth could still see her face. She had a rust stain on her nose and a bit of flush in her cheeks. The most striking effect was in her eyelashes, their tips coated in the soft white of the headlamp. Booth hadn't noticed she had such long, arched eyelashes. Interesting, but not at all helpful to him right now.

"I think you have to go through one side," she said, pointing with her chin to the space Booth had been calculating before.

Right. And that he did.

There was much wriggling, squirming and grunting from Booth's while he pushed himself forward, trying to occupy the same stretch of vent Bones was in so he could do what Bones couldn't: see where the jumpsuit had snagged and set her free.

It was tricky because Booth didn't want to unintentionally use any unsuitable part of Bones' body to push himself forward (i.e. butt, hip). It was like trying to tango inside a test tube and trying to keep it G-rated.

Of course, he whammed his head twice against the vent's roof when he misjudged his strength versus the height of the vent. He banged his elbows four times, too.

Finally, he reached Bones' waist. The silence that ensued this frenetic Squirming Adventure only enhanced the sounds of Booth's panting. And panting breaths, in both Bones and Booth's brains, triggered one specific auditory memory: ahem, sex.

It was then that they both knew—oh, they just knew—the other one's mind had started to race along the same track. A track that alternated between stretches of Mind over Matter Self-Imposed Detachment from Quasi (1)-Erotic Close Proximity and Natural Biological Urge of any Hot-Blooded Mammal in Close Proximity to Another (a.k.a. Filthy Gutter).

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(1) It is Quasi and not Completely erotic because of two things that count for ambiance, even for Temperance Brennan and especially for Seeley Booth: rats and a heap of smelly human remains in a two-feet radius.
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Booth tried to steer himself into the first track which provided a smidgeon of mental clarity.

"Got an extra light?"

Bones produced a small but powerful flashlight from her jumpsuit's side pocket and handed it to him.

Booth took it, flicked it on and clamped it between his teeth.

He leaned on one hand and tried to pry her free with the other.

Bones scrunched up her nose, dubious. "You're going to get the drool off before returning it, correct?"

"Ha! Thahnk ya, Boosh. Foh craling innide a ven in yah beaooiol neh suit tah descue me. Thahnk ya.(2)" He glared at Bones.

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(2) Booth meant to say: "Ha! Thank you, Booth. For crawling inside a vent in your beautiful new suit to rescue me. Thank you."

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"I don't know what you meant," she said.

She turned to the body and faced a shameless scavenger that was coming too close to her hands. She fired. The pellet hit the rat who scampered, mildly concussed, then bounced off the walls and hit her in the temple. She recoiled.

Booth collapsed besides her, on his side and gagging like a cat with a basketball-size hairball lodged in his throat. She'd inadvertently pushed the flashlight inside his mouth when she recoiled.

Rubbing her temple, she looked back at Booth with a quizzical rise of one eyebrow. "What's wrong with you, Booth?"

Booth stared at her, stunned. He propped himself up on one elbow. He pressed his lips together, as if squashing his gut response and buying time to elaborate a new one. Bones had a tendency to say things that could unhinge the most patient of men. Sometimes he fumbled for a second or two searching an answer that contemplated Bones well-documented social shortcomings.

His index finger rose between their faces; the finger curled and uncurled, demanding Bones' face to come closer.

Bones glanced curiously at the finger, got as close as she could and said, "What?"

Booth gave her his sternest FBI stare. "A little heads-up next time, before we move, okay? And a little less Angelina Jolie in Tomb Raider, could we? Yes?"

He waited for an acknowledging nod of his newly established rules. What he got was:

"I don't—"

"You don't know what that means, yes. Of course. The important thing you have to remember here Bones is: no sudden movements and practice gun safety." He felt for the flashlight he'd coughed out earlier.

"It's not as powerful as the American-made. I bought this one in Paraguay. I could shoot you point-blank in the forearm and it wouldn't penetrate the dermis." She showed him the gun.

Booth was not surprised to see a Desert Eagle 5.0.

"Don't. Don't shoot me. Let's not foster your already hyper-developed shooting reflex," he said, wincing as the smell got accentuated by the lack of circulating air. He clamped the flashlight back between her teeth.

Now, Booth had had a donut half and hour ago and the funky dead man smell was making that glazed piece of heaven slide uneasily up his throat. With a groan, he spat out the flashlight; it was kind of tickling his gag reflex.

"Agent Booth?" It was Zack.

"Booth. You are very pale," Bones noticed, with a wary look. Booth groaned again and rested his forehead on Bones' waist.

"Agent Beal is here, he wants to know if you need any help."

"Yes!" Bones said over Booth's head, she poked him in the arm with the muzzle of her rat-chaser Desert Eagle and gave him this warning:

"Booth, do not puke on me. I would never be able to forget that. I would think of puke every time I saw your face."

Booth didn't doubt that for a second.

"You should go back. Agent Beal can help."

No way was Booth going to slink out of that vent like a queasy wimp and let another man un-snag his forensic anthropologist. This was his manhood at stake here, his macho pride. If they were pre-historic humans, it would be Booth's duty as a superior male (superior FBI agent) to save a valuable female (Bones was valuable to society, our modern tribe or whatever) from the jaws of saber tooth tiger or something.

Hold on a moment, was he thinking in anthropological terms? No, no, no. Focus, Seeley.

He commanded that pesky donut to settle down.

"No, no help. Everything's under control here," Booth yelled over his shoulder.

Bones placed one finger on his cheek to make him look at her. "Seriously, Booth, do not vomit on me."

Booth's eyes glanced down at her finger and then back at Bones. "I won't. Stop saying 'vomit' and 'puke'."

"Okay," she said and removed her finger from his cheek.

It was safe to say, right after her finger left his cheek, that Bones could be written down in the chronicles of Booth's History With Women as the most problematic female he had ever dealt with (out of all of the ones he had slept and not slept with).

There were many reasons for this but the one pertinent to this situation was Reason N°103: she used her index finger to demand his attention. Whether it was an insistent tapping or pressing like now, she wanted him to hear her.

No woman had ever done that before, and the likelihood was no woman could do it again without him thinking she was somehow copying Bones.

And that was problematic to a man who was trying—at sometimes failing—to play it safe, for once, and not lose what he had for what he might have. That finger had a strange effect on him, given their closely-quartered situation. Still looking pale but improving, he said, "Let's get you out of that jumpsuit and both of us out of this vent from hell, okay?"

"Fine," Bones said, nodding. "But the zipper's broken. I didn't realize it until now. I can't zip it down."

See? Most Problematic, right down to her the tip of her long eyelashes.

Booth stared at Bones for a long while, becoming seriously annoyed at the untimely conflagration of events that were ruining his brunch and giving slick Agent Kevin Tomlinson the opportunity to out-network him.

Booth studied the situation and it did not look good.

"Okay, let me see if—?" He reached over her arm and trying to tug at the zipper with one hand but it didn't work, the position was all wrong. "Maybe if I—excuse me," he said as he reached over with his other arm so he could grab the zipper with one hand and the jumpsuit's collar with the other, for better leverage.

"Ouch! Booth!"

He elbowed her square in her cheek. Which, in the anthropological terms Booth was trying not to employ, would be the equivalent of trying to beat the saber tooth with a rock and hitting the pre-historic female with it instead. You're supposed to save the female, not put her lights out.

"Well, sorry, Bones," he said, folding back his arms to his tiny side of the vent.

Bang! He smashed his elbow against the vent's wall and that, that was IT.

Heck, maybe he was claustrophobic too, because he could not stand being inside that vent any longer. A surge of determination propelled him to do what was necessary to abandon that vent forever and maybe ask the contractors if he could please press the button that would dynamite the crap out of that horrible vent.

"Booth, what—?"

He was going to end this right now; he needed to stop thinking about all the points of contact between his body and Bones'. That finger had done something to him, he was becoming hypersensitive to every move that she made and that was bad.

Bad, bad, bad.

However, as in the form of all epic stories about valiant knights that offer (or are forced to by default) to save the princess/pre-historic female from the jaws of a rusty vent/saber tooth, things would have to get much worse before they got much better.

Booth wriggled a bit and then, before Bones knew what was happening Booth was already trying to shimmy under her, he nudged her left leg a bit to one side to make room for his.

"What are you doing, Booth?"

His head popped out from between her arms, she recoiled.

"Getting us out of here, that's what. It'll be easier this way. I couldn't do much to unzip this on my side."

"You must lack strength in your transverse abdominals."

He stared at her, she stared back with a clueless What? on her pretty face. Squints made him stare a lot, he was noticing.

"I crawl in here to help you and you tell me I should go to the gym?"

"Don't be so touchy, Booth."

Zack's voice echoed from the outside, "Dr. Brennan, the architect found another way to remove the body."

Bones yelled, "Okay, Zack!"

"After this maybe I can go to my brunch and you'll have a new pile of stinky bones to entertain you. Isn't that something nice?" Booth squirmed a bit higher. "For you, for me, for everyb—"

There was the distinctly sound of fabric tearing. Booth stopped moving.

"What's wrong?"

"Oh for the love of Prada," Booth said, reaching down to feel the extent of the tear. Left butt-cheek. Great.

It almost seemed to him at that moment, that the vent was Alive and it had hatched a plan this morning: use Bones as bait to ruin his Brunch and his precious Prada pants. It was a monster that was after his sanity.

"What?"

He pressed his lips together. "Nothing, Bones. Nothing is wrong. Everything's peachy," he muttered as he reached for the zipper, careful not to touch anything a co-worker wasn't supposed to touch. He gripped the collar of the jumpsuit with on hand and was about to yank the zipper when he stopped.

"Hey, um, you are wearing. . .wearing something underneath, right, Bones?"

"Of course. What, you thought I came to crime scenes with nothing but underwear under the lab's issued jumpsuits?"

There was no graceful way of answering that question.

That's why he pulled on the zipper and said nothing. The zipper didn't give. He pulled again. Didn't give. Fan-Vent-astic.

Fine. It was time for Waki Lani.

Waki Lani was the Booth family's two-foot lucky totem (which they called upon in cases of extreme need when the Lord's help didn't warrant asking because of the un-Catholic nature of the wishes(3)).
A palm-reader in Hawaii had given it to his father as a honeymoon gift. Next day, they won the Hotel's raffle -a free week stay during which Seeley Booth was conceived-and Waki Lani became, against Mrs. Booth's aesthetic judgment, a fixture in the Booth's backyard.

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(3) i.e. Booth, aged 17. Magic Ball Bowling Alley. Women's bathroom (third stall from the right) with Melinda Syson (aged 19).

Request: Please, please, Waki Lani, let the bra be the one with a clasp, not the hooking thingies. I don't have those down yet.

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Please, please mighty Waki Lani, make this zipper work because I need to get out of here before, before something happens.

He pulled again. The zipper resisted a little more but gave--much like Melinda's bra (with a clasp) that night and no, Booth did not need to think about women's underwear right now.

"It worked," Bones said. The zipper stuck. Booth opened his eyes to see what the problem was. Thenhe closed them again. Fast. Bones was wearing a tank top. Of which color, he didn't know, and it didn't matter.

One word occupied all his brain (he wasa guy after all, they're just hardwired that way): Cleavage.

No, seriously, his whole brain.

Soon after came the image of Bones and all its implications. The respect, the trust, the value of their friendship. All of them joined, like smooching amoebas and the gentleman his mother had raised kicked in, 1.23 seconds after the initial sight of the abovementioned cleavage.

Mrs. Booth did a good job. That's why Booth closed his eyes and ground his thoughts on the memory of himself, two hours past the point of exhaustion, soaking wet from the rain and sweat and not the word Cleavage.

"Mama Mama can't you see," he started, doing the call and then repeating the line, pretending to be his old squad, "Mama Mama can't you see."

Bones had been tying to get one arm out of the jumpsuit when Booth started his rendition of Momma, Momma Can't You See!, his drill sergeant's favorite cadence song to sing during punishing marches (4).

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(4) First two weeks of basic training: 6 Punishing Marches. Reason for the last one, under the pouring rain? Horsing around during obstacle course with Booth's best buddy from home, Ronald "Dude" Dudek.
Reason for drill Sergeant Hutch to despise Booth and Dudek? They clocked first and second in said obstacle course race.

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One arm free from the jumpsuit, Bones stopped to pop two more rounds. The last two rodents scattered.

"You know, it's natural for a healthy male to associate our present physical situation with sexual intercourse. You can't escape biology by singing army songs."

Booth's response was tosing a little louder and make Zack, one architect, Agent Beal and two contractors to exchange puzzled glances.

"Used to drive a Chevrolet, now I'm marching all the way," he said. "They took away my set of wheels, now I've blisters and you know what, Bones? I like to sing. When I'm doing manual work. Has nothing to do with you. Nothing whatsoeveratall."

And he did it. Hadn't un-snagged her but he had unzipped her free—but he sure as hell wasn't going to help her get out of her jumpsuit.

Before maneuvering himself out of the vent, Booth paused. Today was as good a day as any to set another rule.

"And from now on, you get to use the word 'intercourse' only once a year. Use it wisely."

Bones frowned and made a half-smile, half-scoff. "You think you can somehow censor my vocabulary? And I don't see what you're so jittery about. I had a flashing image of two, to be honest. It doesn't mean anything, Booth. It's an anthropological—"

Booth was not listening. He was, quite literally, crawling towards the light (at the end of the vent).

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It was a sort of validation of how delicate a situation Booth had had to handle when five pairs of male eyes—Zack, Beal, the architect and two contractors—popped right out of their sockets when Bones emerged from the vent in a blue tank top, some sort of clingy sweat pants and with a Desert Eagle in her hand.

Bones, as usual, was oblivious to the attention.

After their ogling concluded, they looked at him with envious smiles, thinking about the things Booth must have seen or done inside that vent.

Booth glared at them. Bunch of ignorants, sexy tank top or not, she could kick the living daylights out of each one of them in turnor at the same timeif anyone tried to make a lecherous move on her.

Booth saw that Beal was trying his darnest not to smile or chuckle or burst out laughing.

"Agent Booth, you have a. . ." A-soon-to-be-buried Beal said, pointing at Booth's pants.

"Yes," Booth replied, squaring his shoulders. "I am aware of it, Agent Beal." He turned to Bones, "Do something about that cut, okay?"

He couldn't help it, he cared, even if she hadtold him his transverse abs were flabby.

Booth used an extra dose of macho posing as he swaggered away from the vent because he was an Alpha-male and attitude was all, especially when people could see your special underwear.

He heard Bones snort when he turned around and he definitely heard the two contractors chuckle. The tear in his precious Prada pants left his underwear exposed and on his left butt-cheek, in clearly visible white letters that looked like they'd been stamped on by some sort of Booty Authority, it said:

"Certified Lucky Buns."

The End (5)

(5) Also, El Fin, in Spanish. Also, the sign that directs the mouse arrow to the "GO" button that will allow one to review. If one felt inclined to, of course.