Well, my first foray into the Cullen's Bullpen Challenge universe (for a universe it has become!), and I surprised myself by how quickly I wrote this, and how much I enjoyed doing so! I hope you guys enjoy it too! The Princess Bride is one of my favourite movies, I recommend you all go and hire it out, after you read this fic of course! The Princess Bride and Bones are two works of genius, therefore, I do not own them.
Post-April 10: 3rd place!! Yippeee!!!!
Booth was feeling a little strained. He'd spent most of the day driving around the city, from national park to nature reserve, trying to find one that matched all the elements of his crime scene. It was proving extremely difficult to find even one area with the right kind of trees, the right kind of dirt, and no rocks, stones or even gravel in the surrounding area. Brennan was with him, of course, riding shotgun as usual. That was okay. She'd had her nose buried in a book of maps for the last half an hour, and had been reasonably low-maintenance all day, without asking him even once for a gun. No, it wasn't Brennan who was trying his patience. He probably could've handled their continuing non-success too, after a few deep breaths and counting to ten. But the thing that was really grating on his last nerve was the three squints packed into the back seat like a tin of annoying sardines.
"Gold – you – you can't use gold."
"I can so! Gold's a mineral! You obviously didn't pay attention in mineral class!"
"There's a mineral class?" Angela asked innocently.
"Of course there is," Hodgins replied with a wink.
"There is not a mineral class," Zach said sniffily. "And while I admit gold is a mineral, it's only the easiest one you could possibly have chosen."
"Oh yeah? Let's see you come up with something better, Zacky boy."
"Fine. Gibbsite, Gypsum, Gratonite, Graphite…"
Booth groaned aloud.
"Okay, I get the point," Hodgins interrupted.
"We all get the point, which is that neither of you have a hope of being successfully, what is it -"
"Integrated," Brennan supplied.
" -integrated into normal society, but could you just maybe not talk for the rest of the day so that no one guesses I'm travelling with a bunch of aliens."
"There's no such thing as aliens," Brennan muttered, still not having looked up from her maps.
"I'm using the word in it's literal sense, Bones, you know, taking a leaf out of your book. In this case it means foreign, different in nature, repugnant…"
"Did you research?" Brennan asked, in that distant way that meant she was completely missing the point of Booth's speech.
Booth decided not to answer, opting instead for gripping the steering wheel hard enough to crack his knuckles.
"Booth could do with some serious stress relief," Hodgins announced. "What do you need dude? Music?"
"A neck massage?" Angela contributed, her eyes on Brennan. The doctor, fortunately – or unfortunately, depending on your point-of-view – did not notice the innuendo.
"That always helps me relax," Hodgins said. "What about you, Ange? What's your preferred method of stress-be-gone?"
He waggled his eyebrows at her, but it seemed she, too, had decided to take leaf out of Brennan's book and ignore the innuendo, only, of course, Angela was ignoring it on purpose.
"Well, it used to be painting, but not so much, now. Taking a bath with a good book and aromatherapy candles. Talking to my Dad. Eating icecream –"
" –with wine," Brennan put in, and they both chuckled.
The men all looked at the women. Hodgins and Zach looked at Angela, wondering what she did with icecream and wine that might be relaxing. Booth looked at Brennan, wondering how she kept contributing to the conversation when she appeared not to be paying any attention. And what she might have been convinced to do with icecream and wine that would make Angela chuckle.
"Zach rhymes," Hodgins said quickly, deciding a change of subject was in order.
"Hodgins!" Zach protested.
"I'm sorry, Zach 'rhymes'?" Angela questioned, eyebrows raised.
"Yes, when he needs to relax he makes rhyming couplets."
Angela looked to Zach for confirmation, unwilling to believe Hodgins when he was in this sort of mood.
"Yes, rhyming is what I do to relax. It's a simple activity to exercise but not exert my brain. It calms me when I'm under stress, allows me to think rationally and I find often brightens my mood."
"Aaw, Zach," Angela crooned. "That's so sweet, you entertain yourself by making rhymes!"
"I wouldn't call it an entertainment," Zach frowned.
"Would you call your alien games an entertainment?" Booth asked sarcastically.
"I don't understand why us playing the alphabet game qualifies us as 'aliens'," Zach said, genuinely confused. "Other people play the game."
"Normal people, Zach, play the game with normal things, like food, or animals, or cars. Normal people don't play the alphabet game with minerals."
"Wow, are there really cars beginning with every letter of the alphabet?" Angela said wonderingly.
"Cars are Booth's hobby," Brennan said.
"How are you doing that?" Booth demanded of her. She didn't answer. Booth briefly threw his hands in the air in frustration before putting them back on the wheel. Okay, maybe she was trying his patience a little.
"Come on Zach," said Hodgins, rubbing his hands together. "Let's rematch. Animals."
"Mercy be praised," said Booth, rolling his eyes.
"You start this time."
"Okay, Abrocoma cinerea."
"A cockroach is not an animal."
"Okay, fine. Bradypus tridactylus."
"Stop!" Booth suddenly shouted, slamming on the brakes. He whirled around, as much as one can while belted into a driver's seat, and glared at Zach and Hodgins.
"Okay, here it is, if you two do not shut up right now I swear I am going to shoot you. For the love of God, can you at least pretend that you're not the freaks of the human race while in the presence of others? Zach, you don't even know the meaning of the word entertainment. You can't even play car games without sounding like an encyclopedia!"
"Booth, stop it," Brennan intervened, putting a firm hand on his arm. "Don't take your frustration out on them. We're all frustrated; you're not being fair."
"Alright, sorry," Booth grunted begrudgingly, and went back to strangling the steering wheel.
An uncomfortable silence fell over the car. Hodgins stared crossly out of the window. Zach sunk low in his seat, the absence of a thought crease between his brows or a definition of the word 'entertainment' sure signs that he was hurt.
Angela looked at them both, the tension bothering her. Hodgins seemed to be preoccupied with something out the window, so she turned her attention to Zach, sandwiched between them both, eyes on his knees. She leaned a little closer.
"That Booth, he can fuss," she whispered, a slight emphasis on the last word.
Zach looked at her briefly, then his eyes darted to the roof, gaining that distant, thinking look.
"Fuss…fuss…I think he likes to scream at us!"
Angela smiled, nodding.
"Probably he means no harm," she continued, dragging out the last word.
"He's really very short on…charm!" Zach countered triumphantly, a smile creeping over his face.
Angela sat back, raising her hands.
"You have a great gift for rhyme," she praised warmly.
"Yes, yes," Zach agreed. "Some of the time."
"Enough of that!" Booth barked from the front.
Angela grinned, and returned her gaze to the window, satisfied that the young genius had cheered up. Hodgins, who had been craning to look at something out of his window, took up the conversation again.
"Zach," he said, nudging him and pointing out the front windscreen, of which Zach, being in the middle, had a better view. "Are there rocks ahead?"
"If there are," Zach answered quickly, in the zone now, "we'll all be dead!"
"No more rhymes now, I mean it!" Booth ordered, making a gun out of his thumb and two fingers.
Angela and Hodgins looked at Zach, who had a frighteningly sly smile on his face.
"Anybody want a peanut?"
That's the end ;)
For the benefit of anyone who's interested, the words that the boys use in the second round are the latin names for, in order: Chinchilla, German cockroach, Pale-throated three-toed Sloth, and a spiny Armadillo. I looked them up :) Gold star for me! And one for everyone who reviews, cos I'm feeling generous today! Thanks for reading,