The Bone in the Walrus
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Bones, just the thoughts in my head.
Rating: T - for rather frank language
Summary: "I knew he wore that 'cocky' belt buckle for a reason." – Booth and Brennan have a somewhat unconventional discussion
Author's Notes: And now for something completely different. I figured with all the wonderfully angsty post-100th episode stories out there, we could use something a little silly. I gave a lecture on sex in the animal kingdom for Valentine's Day this year and one of the specimens that I used as a prop inspired this story. For the record, the bone I describe in this story does exist and it is as big as I describe it to be. When I saw it for the first time, all I could think was "this would be a hilarious Bone's conversation." I hope you agree. It's a story in two parts.
* Thanks, as always, to my ever-patient, extremely talented beta. Thanks, Joy for giggling along with me on this one and for being the Angela to my Brennan. I'm always glad when I can return the favour.
Special Agent Seeley Booth both loved and hated this part of an investigation. He hated it because he was stuck in neutral, idling in the gate while he waited for the squints to come up with a lead he could chase. Still, though he'd never tell anyone, Booth also loved it. Over the years, he had come to enjoy watching the Jeffersonian team work. Even with all they'd been through, the Squint Squad was like a well-oiled machine and the level of intelligence and insight at which they operated never ceased to amaze him. Of course, there was one squint in particular that tended to capture most, if not all, his attention.
Booth was pretty sure he'd never get tired of watching Bones work. Here, on the forensics platform, Dr. Temperance Brennan was in her element and it was always a sight to behold. She had this uncanny ability of divining the secrets of the dead from the smallest of details. Currently, she was running delicate fingers over their victim's skull while she peered quizzically at what she had pointed out as a radiating fracture that encompassed the left temporal and parietal bones, indicative of blunt force trauma.
On a nearby table lay an assortment of unusual objects. Their victim had been a big game trophy hunter and his house had been riddled with tokens from his kills. The team was pretty sure that one of those trophies had been used to bring him down, like the animals he'd apparently taken such pleasure in butchering. The table was laden with an array of antlers, antelope horns, tusks, what Booth swore looked like something off of a unicorn, not to mention an assortment of other bones, all potential murder weapons. Booth couldn't help but chuckle as he remembered the disgust in Angela, their forensic artists' eyes when she'd beheld the 'evidence'. He was pretty sure that she considered the poor guy's demise to be poetic justice.
Fascinated by the somewhat macabre collection, Booth found himself gravitating towards the table. He could sort of understand the attraction; some of the specimens were quite beautiful. However, having killed more than his fair share as a duty to his country, Booth couldn't imagine ending a life, animal or otherwise, for no reason other than the thrill of the hunt and something to put on your wall.
"From the bevelling in the wound, it appears that it was made by something club-like in shape." Bones' assertion brought Booth back from his musings.
He fully expected that each of these specimens would end up mutilating innocent watermelons in one of Dr. Hodgins' experiments, but that didn't mean Booth couldn't narrow down the playing field just a little. Scanning the collection, his eyes seized on a rather large bone that seemed to fit the description. Picking it up, he hefted it in his hand to test the weight; it was surprisingly heavy, and definitely club-like. Booth freely admitted that his knowledge of the skeletal system was limited at best, and he certainly couldn't figure out what animal this belonged to, or where in the body it sat.
"Hey, Bones!" he called, turning to face her, the bone club held aloft. "You mean something like this?"
The beep of someone coming onto the platform only barely registered, but he couldn't miss the suppressed laughter in Jack Hodgins' voice.
"Whoa, Dude! Nice baculum!"
Booth swung around, still wielding his makeshift weapon, to find Hodgins and Angela grinning back at him with a glint in their eyes that sent a frisson of discomfort down his spine. He couldn't help but feel that he was missing something important.
"What?" He queried, turning back to Brennan, hoping for some guidance. His partner merely gazed back, her eyes almost twinkling with what he could only surmise was amusement.
"Alright, guys. What is this thing?" Booth scrutinized the large bone in his hand, trying to figure out what was so funny. He'd assumed it was a femur or something, but it was obvious from the barely contained laughter coming from peanut gallery that he'd guessed wrong.
Brennan finally decided to take pity on him. "You're holding a baculum, Booth, most likely from a walrus." She'd adopted her usual matter-of-fact tone, likely assuming he wouldn't need any more explanation.
At his furrowed brow and increasing level of exasperation, she elaborated. "The baculum is also known as the os penis. It's present in numerous mammalian species, including many higher primates."
Booth couldn't get it out of his hand fast enough, nearly dropping the thing with a clatter on the metal table.
"Whoa, whoa, whoa, that," he exclaimed, pointing at the nearly metre long specimen, his voice a curious mix of revulsion and awe. "That is a penis?" His tone dropped to a near whisper at the last word as he glanced around the lab furtively, an instinct born of a childhood filled with nuns who took great pleasure in wrapping the knuckles of small children for such language.
Hodgins laughed heartily behind him and the smaller man clapped Booth on the back in some form of male solidarity. "Largest one in the animal kingdom, my man."
"Terrific," Booth muttered, surreptitiously wiping his hand against his pant leg.
Brennan arched an eyebrow. "I don't see what the big deal is, Booth."
"Look, Bones," he shot back, his shoulders thrust forward defensively. "I've managed to go my entire life without touching another male's ... equipment until now."
"Actually, Agent Booth, the walrus baculum is quite the status symbol." Booth turned again to meet Brennan's intern, Vincent Nigel-Murray, making his way onto the forensics platform with Cam not very far behind. Now, all he needed was a certain pre-pubescent psychologist and his tableau of humiliation would be complete.
Seemingly unaware of Booth's growing discomfort, the intern continued in his ramblings. "The Inuit call the bone an oosik and carve it into knife handles and other tools. In fact," Vincent leaned into Booth conspiratorially, gaining momentum. "It's been rumoured that military generals stationed in the arctic keep a baculum on their desk as a sign of their prowess and will compare lengths when they get together ."
"I had two zoology professors who did that," Hodgins added, clearly enjoying the conversation.
"Alright! Enough penis talk," Booth exclaimed, backing away from the group, trying to get them back on track. "Do we have anything on cause of death?"
Brennan wasn't going to let him get away that easily though. "I still do not understand your discomfort, Booth. You can't possibly be feeling inadequate in comparison. Walrus weigh up to five thousand pounds."
Booth glared sharply at his partner, desperately trying to stave off the blush he could feel rising up his neck. "I am not feeling inadequate, Bones," he shot back.
It was at that moment in his haze of befuddlement, where his pride got ahead of his good sense. "I'll have you know that I'm not exactly lacking in that department." Booth's hands slipped instinctively to his belt.
Angela's muttered, "I knew he wore that 'cocky' belt buckle for a reason," snapped him violently back to his senses. Sheepishly, Booth glanced around the platform, the heat in his cheeks rising exponentially with every gaze he tried to avoid. Then it got that much worse.
"I know, Booth, I've seen it and while it wasn't at full erection, I would estimate that you would certainly fall into the upper percentiles for an adult male."
The silence was thunderous.
Booth's heart stopped for one sickening moment, before kicking into overdrive, pumping every drop of his blood straight to his face. He didn't have to look to know all eyes in the room were planted squarely on him. Floundering, he held his partner's gaze, hoping to see his mortification reflected in her eyes. However, in true Brennan fashion, she seemed completely oblivious to the maelstrom she'd just caused. Anger and frustration burned up from his gut, begging for release. Why couldn't she just be normal?
With no hope of a graceful exit, Booth, spun on his heel and was halfway off the platform before tossing over his shoulder, "Fine, you know what? That's enough. Call me when you get something useful." He was out the door before anyone else could recover, leaving a bewildered Brennan in his wake.