DISCLAIMER: I don't own Bones. I'm really quite depressed that I don't. One day. When my plan with the flying monkeys and mechanical sharks gets approved funding.
Bright lights glittered among colourful tents, as crowds milled.
Laughing, calling, they tested their courage on rides, gorged on candyfloss and popcorn, reaffirming their allegiance to the ritual of fun.
"This is not my idea of fun." Temperance Brennan stated, crossing her arms for emphasis.
"No, sweetie." Angela Montenegro agreed. "But this is a chance to be human for a while. Embrace it."
Angela, her best friend, and guide through the murky world of social discourse and, well, life beyond work.
She nudged Brennan good naturedly.
"Look, two rides, some candyfloss, a game at the clowns, and a walk around the park with the guys, and I will give you my permission to go and do boring stuff. Okay?"
Brennan stared at her friend, calculating.
"Two, but you don't have to do the clowns. You always cheat, anyway."
Brennan laughed, then resigned to the prospect of a wasted evening pursing fun, began to walk to the entrance of the park.
"It's easy to win, Angela. All you have to do is calculate the optimum time to drop the ball to gain maximum points."
Angela studied her friend as she walked toward the lights and the crowds.
Auburn lights flashed in her hair, and despite the determined, always-in-a-hurry gait and the heavy, I'm-going-to-be-as-covered-up-as-humanly-possible coat, Angela knew there was definite potential for Brennan to loosen up a little tonight.
Brennan turned in time to see her best friend quickly wipe an expression of sharp speculation from her face.
She sighed. Angela was plotting. Again.
She hadn't wanted to come, anyway.
When they'd all been given free tickets to this charity carnival, the Jeffersonian being one of the major sponsors, she'd declined.
As Cam had gotten out of it, she'd thought she was entitled to say no as well, anticipating a pleasant evening at home with a good book and some music.
Instead, she'd been coerced into an evening with people she was generally only comfortable with in a working environment. And she'd have to pretend to have fun and smile non-stop so Angela wouldn't worry she wasn't having a good time.
But she was here.
Because Angela had threatened to resign as her best friend if she didn't, and the tiny doubt she might not be kidding had been enough to get her to show up.
And because she wasn't completely incapable of faking having a good time. Probably.
She fixed a smile on her face.
"Come on, Ang, we're missing the noise and the unhygienic mechanical adrenaline generators."
Angela groaned as a voice spoke up behind Brennan,
"They're called rides, Bones."
She turned to see Seeley Booth standing there grinning at her.
"I thought you weren't coming."
He shrugged. "Last minute change of plans."
She grimaced a little. Now she'd have to pretend to Booth, too, and he was even harder to fool than Angela.
"You know, I knew they were called rides. I was being sarcastic."
He shrugged. "I knew that."
"No, you didn't."
He turned that irritating smirk on her, and it occurred to her he was probably trying to get under her skin. As usual, she hadn't seen it until he had her sniping at him.
"Did too, Bones."
She glared at him. "Did not. You're not that good with people."
Booth glared back at her, and she smirked a little as Angela joined them, smiling at Booth.
"Zack, it's my car. That means the radio is off limits."
"'Car' connotes an actual automotive entity, not a death trap that happens to have four tyres and a steering wheel."
"Zack, that statement is an insult to original 1930's mini's everywhere, okay? Not cool. And Eminem does not qualify as sing-along driving music."
"Neither does country rock." Zack muttered as he and Hodgins joined the group.
Angela grinned at Hodgins. "You listen to country rock?"
Hodgins glared at Zack. "No."
Booth clapped at hand on Zacks shoulder as he opened his mouth to speak.
"In the interests of us all not killing each other by the end of the evening, let's not continue this line of discussion, alright there, Sparky?"
Zach shut up, since Booth was now focussed on confiscating the pager Dr Brennan was checking, apparently in the hope there might be a crisis at the lab, and took the opportunity to stick his tongue out at Hodgins.
"Oh, very mature. Sparky."
"Okay. Listen up. We are going to have fun tonight. We've had a hard couple of cases, so we are going to use this time to relax. Capisce?"
Brennan continued to hide her pager behind her back, glaring mutinously at Booth. Hodgins just grinned at Zach, who glared menacingly back.
She sighed, stuck her fingers in her mouth and gave a piercing whistle.
They all stopped, and stared at her.
"This means no fighting." Hodgins and Zach looked sheepish.
She looked at Booth and Brennan. "And no bickering."
Brennan rolled her eyes and thrust her pager at Booth. He pocketed it, doing his best not to look triumphant.
Angela turned to him, brow raised.
He pulled at his shirt uncomfortably.
"Yeah, yeah, alright. Let's go, Scoobies."
He pointed at Brennan. "Velma. You lead."
She stared blankly. "I don't know what that means."
"I thought I was Velma." Zack muttered.
"No. You're Scrappy." Hodgins shot at him.
Booth sighed. "Oh, for the love of-"
"-Sweetie." Angela interrupted, "Why don't you go show Booth how good you are at the clowns, and I will escort Dumb and Dumber over here to the rides. Meet you in an hour?"
Booth jumped into action.
"Let's go, Bones, before I end up having to win Zack a teddy bear."
He hauled her away into the crowd before she could finish the protest.
Angela grinned after them, then turned to Zack and Hodgins, smiling at them.
A somewhat more menacing one than she'd bestowed on Booth and Dr Brennan.
Zack and Hodgins looked at each other, then smiled back at her tentatively.
She sighed. Who could fight male social dysfunction?
"Let's go ride some coasters, boys."
Author's note: Um. "Clowns" meaning a booth with a few turning plastic clown heads, into whose mouths you put a ball for points. Apparently there is a technique, but I wouldn't know, having never got more than a key ring for my efforts.
What also remains a mystery is why it continues to be my favourite carnival game.
Just in case anyone thought Booth and Bones were accosting actual clowns for prizes.
Does the game of clowns cross cultural divides, countries, and languages? Cool if it does. Saves really bad explanations.
Chapter two coming soon to a webpage near you. Thanks for reading!