"You minored in Swedish? I was under the impression that you minored in anthropology." Zack attempted to imitate the confused head tilt Jess did so often. After Booth had spurned his questions about mate-seeking, he'd read several psychological studies which indicated that mirroring a potential mate's movements was conducive to romantic success. And, if he recalled correctly - which his near-eidetic memory allowed him to - Hodgins had said that remembering things a girl mentioned in casual conversation made her happy, so the sentence was hopefully successful. However, he had also said that it would "probably get you in a girl's pants", and crossdressing didn't appeal to him in the slightest, so perhaps it would make her want to see him in a tutu and therefore was a bad sentence. Why was social interaction so hard?
"Well, I minored in a lot of things. I had a full scholarship, took summer classes, had an average of twenty hours a semester, and started college at fifteen, so I had time to take whatever classes I wanted and money wasn't a problem." She smiled, and didn't demand that he put on panties. The sentence had indeed been a success!
"You started college at fifteen?"
She blushed and smiled. Wasn't blushing a sign of embarrassment? Why would humiliation be coupled with a smile? Why was she humiliated in the first place? "Yeah," she beamed. "Kind of early."
"I don't find it particularly unusual. I graduated college at sixteen." He'd started at twelve, and could not for the life of him understand why anyone would want to waste eighteen years of their lives in the public school system. Why didn't everyone start college earlier?
"Oh. Wow. That's really coo-" her phone started to ring mid-sentence. "Sorry, she apologized as she answered it.
"Hey, Seeley!" she beamed at the sound of his voice. Zac was momentarily jealous until he remembered they were related to each other, which disturbed him. Were hormones already making him emotional?
"I'm talking to Jane Middleton. She says she has something important to the case, but she only wants to tell you."
"Why? We're not close friends. We're not friends at all. I actually think she actively dislikes me." Zack frowned. Why would she be disliked? Perhaps it was because of her erroneous favoring of Kirk over Picard. He could understand that, he supposed.
"I have no idea. Look, she's already told me way more than I want to know about the bikini wax she has an appointment to get in half an hour, so I don't really have time to convince her to tell it to me without arresting her. You're already on campus, right? Can't you just come to her room so she'll tell you whatever the hell it is?"
"But that puts me in a rather awkward position, considering that I'd have to leave my date alone in my room and he'd get bored," she frowned, then turned to Zack. "Wait, does this count as a date?"
"You have a - what? Who is it? Why is he in your room? Are you okay?"
"A date. Zack. He was helping me pack until he saw my bra and we got distracted. We're just on the bed now. It's fine. Why would I not be fine?" As socially inept as he was, Zack had the feeling that her summary would probably not go over well with Agent Booth.
"The bed? The bed? With Mr. I Love Dead Bodies and Awkward Sexual Questions? What do you mean, he saw your bra? I -"
"Um, I'm going to Jane's room now," Jess said hurriedly, hanging up. She turned to Zack. "Do you want to wait here?"
"I would like to bring your bags to Hodgins' car," he volunteered. Immediately, he regretted it. That was another thing that Hodgins had mentioned as a way to get into girl's pants, and, although he would never judge his friend for his sexual preferences, Zack personally wanted nothing to do with it. "I do not want to get in your pants," he clarified helpfully.
"…What?" She looked confused. Why was she confused? He had just gone to all the trouble of clarifying so she wouldn't be confused.
"I am satisfied wearing men's clothing."
"My low estrogen and high testosterone levels have produced a figure which is more suited to masculine clothing, and I have been socially conditioned to prefer it." She still looked confused, despite his many explanations. He felt as though he was missing something.
"Can we talk about this later? I have to run downstairs really quick. If you still don't mind taking my bags out to the car while I'm gone, that'd be great." Jess smiled, although she still looked confused, and left.
Jane sighed. "Look, I'm not telling you because you're special."
Blinking, Jess nodded.
"I'm telling you because you're smart enough to understand, but you're enough of a loser so that no one would believe you if you told." The older girl looked extremely uncomfortable.
"Harsh. But okay, I guess."
"Honestly, I didn't want to sleep with Todd," she sighed.
Jess went cold. "Are you saying he r… did he…"
"No," she waved a hand dismissively. "He didn't even know I didn't want it. I flirted with him constantly. He thought I was crazy about him. But he was an old, ugly-ass guy. I just did it to make the dean jealous."
"Why couldn't you just tell this to Seeley?" Zack was still waiting for her on the bed, and she had really wanted to teach him some Swedish. If this could just end soon...
"Because stuff I haven't said yet. Let me finish. God. I can see why no one likes you," she snapped. Jess' heart sank. "I just wanted Marlon - Dean Harrison, I guess you'd say - to love me. He wasn't paying enough attention to me. That sounds pathetic, so no, I'm not telling your hottie brother who I want to impress. By the way, is he single?"
Making a face, Jess shook her head. It was a lie, but maybe it would make Jane stop harassing him.
"Oh. Well, is his girlfriend an 8 or better? If not, I could probably get him anyway," she mused. "But yeah. What I was saying. I just wanted Marlon. He made me feel good about myself. And I never feel good about myself. Except when I'm standing next to people like, you know, you. Or Melissa. I mean, I know she has friends, and she's slept with way more guys than me, but she's never even tried to land anyone with a girlfriend, which I think is the only real challenge. Single guys will hit anything."
"What's your point?"
"So I did Todd. And then Marlon got mad. Like, really, really mad. And he broke the dude's nose. So I was afraid to stay with Marlon that night, because he was all ragey, and I didn't want to go to the dorm because Melissa was having some stupid Star Trek thing with a bunch of, you know, people like you - no offense - and so I stayed with Todd. And then you came in and hit his busted face, and he started bleeding again. Thanks, by the way - he had just cleaned himself up and was all ready to go, but after you got it bleeding again he totally wasn't in the mood anymore. He wanted some really kinky shit that night. Like, he wanted to have me -"
"So Dean Harrison was the one who broke Doctor Walters' nose? Not me?"
"Yeah. Not you. And they really didn't like each other. Marlon had looked the other way with the whole doing students thing, and the whole anti-troops thing - by the way, Todd was freaking crazy. I think he was on meds or something. He hated the army because he thought they were sneaking into his room at night and taking his pillows. He wasn't really against the military for a political reason. But anyway, Marlon stopped looking the other way after that. He started freaking out and was all like 'why don't you go do your wife', and 'what do you mean the army was in your bedroom' and stuff."
"Oh. Well, thanks."
"Yeah, yeah. If you're really grateful, do you think you could let me have a go with your brother? Just tell him I'm a really good lay or something."
Jess left without responding.
"No," Booth said. "No. No, no no. Not weirdo assistant." He couldn't believe he was actually having this conversation. As many strange things as he'd seen at work, his sister going out with Zack beat out all of the rotting corpses by a mile. He'd rather everyone on the forensics platform be discussing some sort of pustule that exploded and gave them time of death or something - not this.
Angela gave him a knowing smile. "I get it. You're being protective. But she's old enough to make her own choices. Come on, Seeley. They're cute together."
Easy for her to say, Booth thought. Her sister wasn't dating a vaguely creepy guy who cut up bodies all day. "It's a bad idea."
"Agent Booth?" The weirdo had apparently decided to speak.
"Yeah?" If the kid asked for sex tips, he was getting shot.
"If it makes you feel any better, I don't want to get in her pants." What?
Hodgins stared, obviously confused. "What happened to the whole 'Naomi dumped me and I don't like dry spells' thing? I thought you wanted to get laid. And seriously," he gestured at Booth, "probably not the best time or place to be discussing your plans."
The creep looked confused. "Oh. Well, I would certainly not be opposed to sexual intercourse. But the practice of crossdressing is utterly unappealing."
Jess stared off into the distance, deliberately avoiding Booth's gaze. Angela's expression was the most pained he'd ever seen it. "Sweetie. It's an idiom."
Noticing Booth's tightly pressed-together lips, Hodgins nervously tried to change the subject. "Anyway, I found some really interesting stuff at the entomology department," he interjected. "Want to -"
"Wait," Zack said, brow furrowed. "What does the idiom mean?"
Booth took a deep breath and tried to keep his hand away from his pistol.
Hodgins pointed at a shiny-looking bug on his monitor. "This is the beetle we found on the victim. The head of the entomology department said he gave it to Walters because Walters wanted it as a present for his wife, but after Walters left with it, Handel realized he'd given him the wrong bug - this one was due to lay eggs, but some grad student had it in a different enclosure and Handel mixed it up with the bug that was supposed to be a present."
"So?" Booth was getting impatient.
"So Handel called to ask Walters to come back and switch bugs, but Walters didn't answer, probably because Walters was dead. That helps confirm time of death. And we poked around and found some larvae in the grass near the baseball field - they must have come out of the beetle when it was cut with the saw. If we can show that your sister wasn't on campus at the time, we've proven that she couldn't have done it."
Booth nodded. "But how would we prove that?"
The room was silent. No one kept track of who came and went on a huge college campus. It was a dead end.
"Seeley?" Jess spoke up.
"Maybe we can't prove I didn't, but I think we can prove someone else did."
AN: I know. Over a year since the last update. I'm really sorry.
But hopefully you guys like this chapter. Only one more (probably extremely long) chapter until the end! Should be posted on Tuesday. Thank you so much for sticking with the story despite the long absence! =)