First, a huge thank you to everyone who read (and reviewed) my previous fic, 'Everest.' I'm still in awe over how well it's done.

Second, this little ditty is a post-ep for, 'The Man in the Outhouse,' but contains nothing that will spoil the case. (Were you really watching for the case?) :)

VVVVV

They were finishing their Thai when Brennan asked, "Do you think Sweets was right?"

"Which time?" Booth replied.

"Earlier tonight. He said that it's difficult for us to form bonds with other people because of our relationship with each other."

"You agreed with him."

She shook her head. "No, I only said that because I didn't want him to come with us."

"Oh, well, I don't know. We do spend a lot of time together."

"Yeah, but it's work-related."

"Not all the time." Booth clasped his hands and rested his forearms on the edge of the table. "We're together now and it's not work-related. I mean, you're looking quite beautiful in that dress, I'm dashing in this suit. I don't know, Bones. If I saw us out, I'd say we were definitely having a non-work-related dinner."

Brennan smiled. "This is enjoyable. And thank you."

"It's nice talking with you and not arguing."

"Arguing? We don't do that. We may have an intellectual debate every now and then…"

"No squint-speak on a date," he interrupted lightly.

"We're not on a date."

"But what if we were?"

"But we're not." She leaned forward, arms on the table.

"Pretend we are!" He shifted inward as well, mirroring her gesture.

"What? Why?"

"Just…come on, Bones!"

She sat for a moment, then finally gave in. "This is one of the best pretend dates I've ever had."

Booth smirked. "Better than Mark and 'gay' Jason?"

Brennan cocked her head and stared at him. "Stop calling him that, Booth! You heard him—he was willing to stimulate me. I just didn't find him sexually appealing. Besides, I can't compare you to them."

"Because I'm one-of-a-kind?" he grinned, only half-kidding.

"No, because this is a pretend date, right? What I had with Mark and Jason was real. I can't compare fantasy and reality. It doesn't make sense.

"Whoa, wait," Booth interrupted again. "I'm your fantasy?"

"What? That's not what I meant. Fantasy and pretend are synonyms. I merely substituted one for the other."

"Oh," Booth sighed.

Brennan noticed his body language change, but continued. "In order to adequately compare Mark, Jason, and you, I would need further data from you…"

"You make me sound like a science experiment."

"That's essentially what a comparison is."

"But it doesn't need to be so scientific and squinty, Bones. Not everything has to be done with such clinical detachment. Pretend you're not Dr. Brennan. Try something with feeling."

"Booth, you know I…"

"…hate psychology. Yeah, you've shared that with me once or twice. Don't think of it as psychology. Think of it as…acting. Hey, act is another synonym for pretend!"

Brennan couldn't help but smile. "Okay, okay." She cleared her throat. "How do you stack up to my recent boyfriends? Our verbal sparring—in retrospect—is definitely entertaining. We are both strong-willed individuals who know what we want and will stop at nothing to make sure we get it."

"We're stubborn."

"Yes. It's refreshing, though, because we don't always agree. Different points of view make conversations interesting, so therefore, I am intellectually stimulated when I'm with you. As for the other point of comparison…" she trailed off but kept her eyes locked on his.

"Yes?" he urged in a near-whisper.

"I obviously have no empirical knowledge of the fact, but given the way you do everything else, I'd have to conclude that you'd be an excellent lover. You're attentive and caring…"

"Anything else?" the waitress asked, unaware that she had shattered her customers' moment.

Booth cleared his throat. "Uh, just the check."

The waitress nodded and laid the check on the table.

"So, since this is a pretend date, are you going to pretend to buy my dinner?" Brennan asked, smirking.

"No, I'm buying yours. Mine was the free one," he exclaimed, pulling the coupon and the cash from his wallet.

"Booth!"

He laughed. "I'm kidding, Bones!"

After a beat, she laughed, too.

They stood and he helped her with her coat.

"Do you really believe that there is one person you're going to spend the rest of your life with?" she asked.

"Yeah, I do."

"What if she doesn't like us spending so much time together?"

"Then she's not the one."

"It's that simple?"

"Yeah, that simple."

He reached for the door and held it open for her.

She smiled. "You know, Booth, I'm getting used to this chivalry thing…even if it is in a surrogate relationship."

"Hmm. You never know, Bones. Maybe one day it'll be a monogamous one."

She looked at him to see if he was joking, but his facial features and body language remained static.

"Maybe…"

VVVVV

Thanks for reading...and just an fyi...the guy who played Mark is Brennan Elliot. I thought that was hilarious. Of course, anything is hilarious at 3 a.m.!