The last person he wanted to see; Sullivan. Not only was he a cocky bastard, but Booth heard under good authority from Angela that he was dating Bones. Bones' own actions; coming in later than usual some mornings, having 'plans' on the weekend and turning away when she answered the phone confirmed it for him. They were sleeping together.
"Hey, Booth." It was late and the gym wasn't crowded enough for him to remain unseen. He forced a smile, put the barbells down.
"Sully. Hey. Long time, y'know."
"Yeah. Gotta say, that partner of yours is keeping me busy." Booth gritted his teeth as Sully gave a low whistle.
"You never told me she was that-."
"I'd think that's between you and her." He cut Sullivan off mid-sentence knowing that he was going to have to sit next to Bones on many more car trips, mulling that word over in his head. It was bad enough to have to deal with the scent of her shampoo without the word 'horny' or 'wild' going through his head.
"Anyway, I just wanted to say thanks. Whatever made you shoot that clown and got me assigned to Tempe… Man, it was fate."
"I don't think Bones believes in fate." Booth slowly flexed a bicep.
"No, you're right. She says it's an illogical theory born out of the basic human supposition that we are not alone. I don't understand why she believes in eternity, then. Seems just as illogical to me."
"The tattoo she has. That snake thing; it's meant to stand for eternity. It's hard to get a glance unless you're, you know. And even then it's difficult because she's so flexible that sometimes-." Suddenly Sully was against the wall, Booth's arm across his throat.
"Wha-." He spluttered before Booth pushed harder.
"Bones is a lady. You don't talk about her like that to anyone. Anyone." A quick left jab from Sully knocked against his solar plexus. The air in his lungs was released in a rush and he let Sullivan go as he struggled for breath. Blocking another punch through blurred vision, he got in a right jab before cracking him right on the jaw.
"Yo, Booth. Take it the hell outside." The gym proprietor yelled across the space between them and Booth nodded, raised his hand in reply.
"Whatever, okay? It was talk between friends." Sully raised a hand to his throat and rubbed it slowly before turning his wrist to check his watch.
"We're not friends. And if I hear you talking about her like that again…" Booth wiped the sweat off his face. He felt the heat wasn't all on accord of his workout. Bones, a tattoo?
"Sure, Booth. Threaten me all you like. I'm the one that got the girl. And right now I'm late meeting her." Sullivan threw his towel over his shoulder and rubbed his jaw gingerly as he smiled.
"Might see that tattoo again…" Booth balled a hand into a fist and clenched his teeth. He didn't know what the hell Bones saw in that guy. Personally, he'd have liked to take it outside. But that would probably land him with more psychotherapy. Sullivan wasn't worth another session in that uncomfortable chair.
Still glowering, he watched him walk out.
"Booth!" He'd been sitting in Angela's chair, spinning, while she was staring intently at the computer screen, considering spatial cavities in the latest skull she was working on. He jumped, and Angela shot him a look with raised eyebrows, probably wondering what he'd done this time. He'd already tried his best to get information out of the supposed tattoo from Angela but she'd kept Bones' secret as adequately as Sullivan hadn't.
"I can't believe you punched him!" She appeared suddenly in the doorway to the office, hair loosely curled around her face, eyes wildcat loose, hands on her hips. He liked her best with her hair out, falling down to her shoulders like it was now…
"Booth! Are you even listening? You could have fractured his jaw. We both know you box-."
"You're a boxer?" Angela was already watching the brewing argument intently and her eyes floated to Booth's.
"Uh, yeah." Momentarily put off by Angela, it took him a moment to gather his thoughts as he stood.
"I was defending you."
"I wasn't there. And I'm quite capable of looking after myself." As usual, she took the literal meaning from his words.
"I mean your honour. I was defending-."
"Who said chivalry's dead?" Again, Angela interrupted. Booth and Bones turned to her at the same time.
"Ang." Their combined voices mirrored each other's impatience and Angela raised surrendering hands, turning back to her computer.
"He was talking about you." Booth took a step closer to her and lowered his voice.
"And?" Bones raised her eyebrows and crossed her arms.
"Well, even being the alpha male I am-." He waited and was rewarded; the ghost of a smile fluttered across her face as he parroted words she'd labelled him with many times.
"I don't think he should've passed on the information he was passing on."
"He told me you had a tattoo. Somewhere…" Booth trailed off.
"Huh." Angela made a decisive sound from the computer and Booth knew she'd realised why he wanted to know about the tattoo.
"What else?" Her voice was steady, but her eyes betrayed her. He could see betrayal flaring beside simmering anger.
"Only that…" He briefly considered holding back the words but decided Sully wasn't worth it. Dropping his voice again, he continued.
"Well, he said you were flexible. Very… flexible." She shut her eyes briefly before turning on her heel and leaving.
"Bones, wait." Booth walked after her out of the office. When he wasn't secretly admiring them, he was cursing her long legs; she could hurry efficiently. They reached her office and he was relieved she didn't just shut him out.
"He probably… I mean…" He wanted to make excuses, not for Sully, but for Bones' own feelings.
"Its fine, Booth. I know what you mean. He was using a non-fictional recantation to induce a sense of camraderieship." She shook her head and picked up her cell, dialling a number.
"For the record, you may have been justified in punching him, although a much more anthropologically rational response from an alpha male would've been to share one of your own past experiences." She spoke with the phone held away from her mouth and Booth allowed himself a grin.
"Hey, it's me… Yeah, I did… Mhm… I don't think so. And don't think you can-…" She sighed and Booth snuck a look at her face. Her lips were pursed and her eyes were downcast, rendering them unreadable.
"I don't want to talk about it anymore… No, I told you…" Abruptly, she hung up the phone and tossed it onto the table. It rang, irritatingly vibrating its way to the edge. Brennan picked it up and turned it off.
"So…" Booth said. He left a hint of a question in the lilt of his voice. She looked up at him and shrugged.
"Murderers… Liars… Bastards…" She sighed again and sank into her chair. Booth sat across from her.
"You know, I don't think you should lose faith in the male race yet. There're still some good guys out there." He tried out his charm smile and she let a small grin escape her.
There was comfortable silence between them for a moment until it was broken by Booth.
"I was just wondering-."
"I'm not telling you about my tattoo, Booth."
A/N: The ouroborous is a snake eating its own tale, symbolising everlasting life. X-Files buffs; you'll recognise the significance. Please leave a review; constructive criticism always welcome.