AN: You didn't think I'd let this challenge go did you? There's too much of an opportunity to have fun with this. Anyway, enough of my rambling. Enjoy.
Temperance Brennan watched as her partner, Special Agent Seeley Booth made his way gingerly into the Jeffersonian's Medico-Legal lab. She'd noticed his rather stilted and uncomfortable gait since the last day of their vacation. Admittedly, she was surprised that he'd agreed to come along on a trip with the entire forensic team, but everyone had gotten along until the last day. Something had occurred to make Hodgins, Zack and Booth extremely uncomfortable around each other and she wanted to know what it was.
As Booth scanned onto the platform, she watched him move quickly past Zack before leaning against the railing. As soon as he settled, he sprang up again, wincing.
"Are you okay?" Brennan looked at Booth as he shifted around, grimacing.
"You are not. What's wrong with you?"
"Bones, I'm not going to talk about it, okay?"
"Stop being stubborn. Now tell me what's wrong and why you're suddenly so uncomfortable around Hodgins and Zack."
Earlier that Week….
Booth walked along mid-calf in the cold pacific waters as he contemplated how miserable he was. When Brennan had invited him to join her on a vacation to the California Coast, he'd jumped at the chance looking at it as an opportunity to woo the forensic anthropologist. He'd even packed carefully to add to his chances, packing funky tee-shirts that had sayings like, 'The weather is here, I wish you were beautiful' on them. He was ready to pull out his charm and use it as needed, but he was here with the entire team.
Seeley looked down the beach with a slightly disgusted sigh. At one end, Hodgins was climbing around on rocks wearing a pith helmet, pukka shell necklaces, camouflage swim trunks and reef shoes as he examined creatures in a tide pool. Zack sat under an umbrella, his white legs blinding those people brave enough to pass by. He wore a tank top that had the phrase, 'talk nerdy to me' written across the front, hot pink swim trunks with big yellow flowers on them, and pink glare blockers on his nose and under his eyes. The ladies however were nowhere to be seen.
Booth was brought out of his reverie by something slimy wrapping itself around his legs. He yelped slightly and looked down to find a long string of kelp swirling around him as though clinging for dear life. He tried stepping out of the stuff, but couldn't get himself untangled. Finally, he reached down to untangle it, but got knocked over by a big wave and tumbled in the surf. As he surfaced, sputtering from the roiling salt water, he was immediately aware of two things. First, his swim trunks were floating a short distance away, and second, a sharp, shooting pain covered his backside. A yell ripped out of him as a second wave washed over him, depositing him on shore. The pain throbbed, and Booth tried to roll over and sit up, but found it impossible to do so. He looked up, spitting salt water from his mouth as Hodgins and Zack came running toward him.
"Dude, what happened," Hodgins asked when he finally reached the FBI agent.
"I think something bit me," Booth groaned, searching the area around him for whatever had caused the intense pain.
"It looks like the sting of a jellyfish," Zack commented as he spotted the cellophane looking blob on the beach. He looked around momentarily for something to move the jellyfish that still had tentacles clinging to Booth's behind.
"Jellyfish? Oh shit," Booth muttered, trying to lay as still as possible to limit the throbbing, stinging pain. Zack ran back to the agent with a piece of driftwood and smacked at the tentacles. Booth let out another howl of pain as more intense stinging throbbed through his buttocks.
"We've got to deactivate the nematocysts," Hodgins said, trying to hold down the struggling agent.
"You've go to what?" Booth looked up, moving his gaze from one scientist to the other.
"Nematocysts are what cause the pain in a jellyfish sting. You've got to deactivate them before you can remove them."
"Well, what do you need to do that?"
"Do you have any vinegar?" Zack looked at Booth curiously.
"Are you crazy? Why in hell would you bring vinegar to a beach?" As the two scientists looked at him pointedly, he groaned. "Okay, stupid question. Since we don't have any vinegar is there anything else that can be used?" Hodgins and Zack looked at each other nervously before returning their attention to Booth.
"Well, there is one thing but…" Hodgins began.
"There are not buts here. What else can be used?"
"Urine," Zack answered, his face taking on a light blush.
"Yes Agent Booth. But I've read that…"
"You mean someone's gonna have to pee on me in order to…" The two scientists nodded, neither one quite meeting Booth's eye.
"Okay, so…who's it gonna be? Hodgins."
"No man. I'm sorry, but I can't pee under pressure."
"You can't…you've got to be kidding me."
"Sorry, but having someone watch…I can't do it."
"Fine, but don't expect any favors anytime soon." Booth groaned again as he shifted, sending waves of pain back through his backside. He lay still for a moment before looking over at Zack.
"What?" Zack looked terrified.
"You owe me for that explosion when we were after Epps."
"I really don't think…"
"But it hasn't been shown…"
"I don't care, just do it." Booth gritted his teeth and closed his eyes, waiting for the inevitable humiliation. Zack looked up at Hodgins helplessly.
"Don't look at me Z-man. I'm gonna go get…" he cut off the sentence as he pointed to Booth's swim trunks which were still floating around in the surf. The entomologist made a hasty exit as Zack swallowed fearfully. With a small whimper, he closed his eyes and prepared for the most humiliating thing that had ever happened in his life.
"Look, it's really nothing. I swear." Booth looked down at the ground, trying to avoid Brennan. The last thing he wanted was for her to see he was hiding this from her.
"Well it seems like you've got a sunburn."
"Yeah, uh-huh, a sunburn." Brennan looked at him, trying to deduce whether or not he was lying to her. She didn't recall seeing him with a sunburn, but then he'd already been tan. That would mean…
"Booth, did you go to that nude beach with Zack and Hodgins?"
"The nude beach, what was it? Black's Beach."
"What? No. No." He shook his head violently. Just the thought of being naked on a beach with Zack and Hodgins….oh wait, he thought, that did happen. "Okay Bones, you got me. Yeah, we were there."
"That's funny, because I never saw you." With a slight click of her tongue, Brennan turned back to her remains and began the examination. Booth stood there, his mouth open, unable to think of a single response.