The Bone in the Walrus
Disclaimer: I own nothing related to Bones, just the thoughts in my head.
Summary: "I'm sorry, now can we move on?" – Booth and Brennan have a somewhat unconventional discussion
Author's Notes: Alright, here's the other half. You knew Brennan couldn't leave things well enough alone. Thank you to all of you who enjoyed the first part and left a review. Heavy workloads and dial-up internet have precluded me from answering you all individually. I'm very glad to know it made you laugh. It really means a lot to me. I hope this resolution is just as fun.
* Thanks, again to my ever-patient, extremely talented beta. Thanks, Joy for helping stay on track in Brennan's head. It's surprisingly easy to get lost in there.
Brennan's hand stalled on the door handle to the diner, an uncharacteristic wave of uncertainty washing over her frame, rooting her to the spot. She could see Booth through the window, seated at their usual table nursing a cup of coffee, exactly where she'd hoped to find him. By now, she should've pushed through the door and joined him, just like any other day.
Thing is, it wasn't just any other day. Sometime this morning, their day had made a radical shift from normal and had yet to settle back into a pattern she recognized. She hadn't heard from Booth since their argument, if one could even call it that, in the lab and that was truly unlike any other day. It was especially unusual when they were working a case. If they weren't in the field together, they habitually kept in touch by phone several times a day.
However, her phone had remained nearly silent all afternoon. Brennan was glad that no one had been around to witness her scrambling gracelessly for the device when it had finally rung at 5:38 that evening. Thankfully, Sweets was used to hearing disappointment colouring her voice whenever he called to remind her of an upcoming appointment. If not, the young psychologist would've latched onto her unease and refused to let go, determined to draw out the real reason for her strange disquiet.
It went against the very core of her nature, but Brennan had almost wanted him to try. She sure as hell had no idea what was going on. The only thing she knew for certain was that Booth was somehow upset with her and it left her with this unexplained hollowness in her heart.
Technically the heart was made up of four chambers and was, by definition, always hollow, but somehow she knew her exceptional knowledge of anatomy wasn't going to help her with this problem. Booth had always been the one she consulted about matters of the metaphorical heart and she didn't see any reason to change now. Steeling her resolve, Brennan pushed the door open and covered the short distance to their table in even strides.
He offered her nothing by way of greeting as she slipped into the seat across from him and it almost derailed the speech she'd been formulating on the way over... almost. Forcing herself to meet his expectant gaze, she soldiered ahead.
"I can only deduce from your avoidance of me for the last seven and a half hours that you're angry with me for somehow bruising your sensibilities this morning. I can't say that I understand it, but since I'm assuming you're expecting an apology, 'I'm sorry.' Now can we move on?"
Booth's hollow bark of laughter shook her foundation a little, worry worming its way up her spine. Maybe she'd misjudged the situation. It wouldn't be the first time.
"That has got to be the lamest apology I've ever heard, Bones."
Her brows furrowed in indignation. "Well, if you would tell me what I should be apologizing for, then maybe I would do a better job," she shot back.
Her partner stared at her incredulously, and not for the first time Brennan wished that she had a better grasp on the finer details of social interaction. Somehow, she always managed to hurt Booth with her ineptitude and she just wanted to get this one right for a change. Sighing heavily, she tried again.
"Look, Booth, I truly am sorry for making you uncomfortable this morning."
His answering smile settled her and she couldn't help but take a moment to revel in the feeling. Then, she dug herself in even deeper.
"However, I still don't see what the big deal is-"
"You just don't know when to quit, do you?" Booth cut her off, the exasperation in his voice tempered only slightly by grudging affection. "The big deal is that I spent over an hour on the phone this afternoon trying to convince Cam we weren't sleeping together."
Brennan's eyes grew wide in surprise. She'd spent the better part of the afternoon trying, and failing, to avoid having the same conversation with Angela, but she wasn't about to tell Booth that. "Not that it should matter to Cam, but I thought men liked to brag about their conquests, implied or otherwise."
"You could never be a conquest, Bones."
His response was immediate, almost visceral and it sucked all the air from her lungs, effectively stalling the conversation. Still, Brennan couldn't help but brace herself from the proverbial 'attagirl' addendum. It never came; instead, Booth changed the rules and just like any good gambler upped the ante.
"You are so much more than just a conquest."
She couldn't figure out how they'd managed to get from walrus bones this morning to the precarious precipice of their forever undefined relationship. Booth had suddenly decided to drag them right to the edge, but as Brennan lost herself in the depths of his eyes, a wave of panic bubbled up from her chest, blocking out everything else.
She wasn't ready to jump.
He could see it too. His uncanny ability to read people, read her, was just as strong as ever, and he could see that she just couldn't bring herself to go over the edge with him… yet. The flash of disappointment that clouded his eyes was so fleeting Brennan could almost convince herself that it was just a reflection of the frustration she felt with her near paralysis when it came to moving their relationship to anything other than it was.
However, before she could descend any deeper into her pit of self-loathing, Booth's voice cut through the gloom.
"So why don't humans have a penis bone?"
The breakneck speed at which he changed the subject took her a moment to catch up to, but when she met his gaze, Brennan's shoulders sagged in relief. He was giving her an out, offering her a lifeline while she drowned in confusion. She took it gratefully.
"It was secondarily lost over the course of evolution."
Her heart swelled within her ribcage even has her brain switched into full scientist mode. She truly didn't deserve all the patience he'd shown her over the years.
"The current theory is that it was lost through sexual selection. Females preferred to mate with males who could maintain an erection without the added rigidity provided by the bone."
Booth laughed outright. "So, flesh won out over bone in this case. I promise I won't tell Cam," he replied with a cheeky grin that went right over her head.
"I'm certain that Dr. Saroyan is well-versed in the evolution of the human species."
Booth's humour gave way to thoughtfulness. "Y'know, it truly is amazing, all the different ways species have developed to survive."
Brennan couldn't help but feed off his curiosity, always eager to impart knowledge, even if it didn't strictly pertain to anthropology. "It is truly fascinating, Booth. In mammals alone there are all sorts of structures that have evolved to facilitate sexual behaviour. An intriguing example is the pseudopenis in female hyenas. I must admit that I find it interesting how this species has adapted to a female-dominated social construct."
Booth smiled indulgently while simultaneously fighting off his natural urge to squirm uncomfortably at her frank language. "Geesh, it's like Dr. Doolittle meets Dr. Ruth."
Brennan could only gaze back quizzically. "I don't know what that means."
His grin softened as his eyes grew warm. "Never mind, Bones."