Title: Costly Signals
By: Lesera128 and dharmamonkey
Rated: M

Disclaimer: Hart Hanson owns Bones—alas. (But he's never taken these characters where we have. That's why you love fanfic.)

A/N: Okay, everybodywhat I'm going to say is really, REALLY important, so listen up. Chapter 3 is the last chapter in Part One. The second half of the tale (cleverly entitled "Costly Signals: Part Two") picks up with Chapter 4, and will be posted by my co-writer, the amazing Lesera128. So, if you want to be alerted when Costly Signals: Part Two and its chapters get posted, you'll need make sure you've added her to your Author Alerts. (Darn FFN won't let me post a link to her profile, but if you click on the reviews, hers is the very first one.)

Of course, you don't want to miss Part Two, becausewell, just because. Because it's going to be awesome, and because you already know we're gonna leave you with a painful cliffhanger at the end of this wee chapter here. So take care of that author alert thing lest you miss the climax (ahem) and dramatic ending to this yarn of ours.

And thanks to everyone who has left us a review for Chapters 1 and 2. Lesera128 and I weren't sure what kind of response we'd get to this crazy little fic of ours, and we've been absolutely knocked sideways by the overwhelmingly positive reaction we've received from the Bones FF-verse. So thanks to you all. Your reviews keep us writing, and almost certainly ensures that this crazy fic of ours will get a sequel.


CHAPTER 3 – Preload Tension and Overtorque

Hodgins pulled away from the balcony railing after watching Booth stalk out of the club. He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head, trying to clear his mind of the scene he had just witnessed.

"That was bizarre," he said to his girlfriend, rubbing his eyes. It had been a long day of unprecedented weirdness: Brennan's major meltdown at the crime scene; Booth sending her packing, dead body in tow, just to get her and her mouth out of his way; Booth's sullen mood, and the way the agent had inhaled three glasses of Jameson Gold Reserve, and the surreal verbal duel they'd just watched which, from Hodgins' standpoint, looked like it left no winner, only two grievously wounded, humiliated participants. "Very weird."

"Yeah," Angela replied, still too stunned to articulate a response to what they'd seen.

"Remember that nature show we watched on Animal Planet the other night?" he asked her. "You know, the one for Big Cats Week about the lions of the Serengeti?"

Angela cocked her eyebrow. "Sure, I remember."

"Remember how it talked about the mating ritual where the male and female lion are observed to snarl and paw at each other before she submits, assumes the position and lets him mount her? I feel like we just watched one of those kinds of mating ritual displays."

"God, Hodgins." she laughed. "I also remember something about the lion and lioness going at it every fifteen or twenty minutes for three or four days straight."

"Yeah, that too," he said, clearing his throat. He grinned. "I have to confess, Angie. Watching Booth browbeat that other guy into submission, chasing him away and then the two of them going at it, arguing like that—well, um, I feel a little embarrassed to admit it, but, that was really hot." He cleared his throat again and adjusted his waistband, because all of a sudden he felt a little, well, awkward.

Angela flashed her eyebrows and smiled. "Me, too," she admitted. Dropping her voice to a whisper, she said, "I'm really turned on, watching that whole thing. It was like, instead of flashing his badge or his gun, he flashed his blazing masculinity and blew that other numbnut out of the water."

Hodgins glanced over at Brennan. "I think we should go," he said in a husky voice. Angela nodded with a sexy smirk.

"Yeah, we should," she said. "I'm feeling a little, ah—well, uncomfortable." She winked, making his ears blush as red as his beard. "Give me one minute, and we can go."

She handed her empty glass to Hodgins and walked over to Brennan.

"Sweetie…"

"I don't want to hear it, Angela," Brennan said in a warning tone.

"Listen, sweetie," Angela said. "You are a genius, but that was just about the stupidest thing I think I've ever seen." She paused and thought for a moment. "One of the hottest things I've ever seen, but mostly, one of the stupidest things I've ever seen. And, without a doubt, the stupidest thing I've ever seen you do, Bren, my bestest brainiac friend."

"I have no idea what you're talking about, Angela."

"Sure you don't," Angela said, rolling her eyes. "You let Booth just walk out of here. I don't understand—"

"His behavior was absolutely and completely totally unacceptable and insufferable," Brennan said. "First, he rudely interrupts the body shots I was enjoying with Rick, who was pleasant and friendly enough—even if he did try too hard to raise himself in my esteem. Then, Booth engages in a ludicrous display of alpha male dominance and, through use of physical intimidation and verbal threats, he asserts his dominance over—"

Angela scowled and couldn't help herself as she interrupted her best friend's tirade. "Brennan, I really don't want to hear all of your anthropological bullshit rationalizations right now. Are you telling me you're pissed that Booth came in and rescued you from that loser you were doing body shots with?"

"Whose side are you on, Angela?" Brennan asks.

"It's not about sides, Brennan. It's about common goddamn sense. You picked a random goober in a bar over your partner of two and a half years—your strong, funny, smart, brave, sex-on-a-stick knight in FBI standard issue body armor?"

"Because you told me to!" Brennan countered. "Remember? You're the one who had this whole idea to begin with, Angela. You were even the one who picked out Rick, and then left me by myself so I could talk to him. I didn't even want to come out tonight, Ange. All I wanted to do was finish at the lab, and go home. But, no. You're the one who made me come here, you're the one who made me drink, and you're the reason Booth was here, and all then all this stupid, stupid shit happened. And, now, I don't have my cell phone, and, none of it's my fault—it's all yours."

Shaking off Brennan's angry tirade, Angela said, "You know what? That's not the important point here. The important point here is I think you've finally cracked."

"Cracked what?"

"Are you insane?" Angela stared at her friend. "You know what? I think you are. I think you've gone and lost it and are finally absolutely, certifiably insane. Maybe we need to declare a Queen of the Loony Bin."

"I don't believe in psychology or in any of the diagnostic—"

"Brennan, you have no idea what you just let walk down those stairs, do you?"

"I don't understand what you're talking about, Angela."

"Sweetie, he wants you. You want him. You're perfect for each other."

"I don't think so," Brennan grumbled, unwilling to admit that there might be a single shred of truth in Angela's words. I would never let myself be dominated by an arrogant, egotistical, selfish, base, animalistic hominid like Booth. Never. "Booth is the last person I want right now."

"You're lying, Bren. Hodgins and I just spent the past fifteen minutes watching you two eye-fuck each other senseless in some of the best foreplay that I usually would have to pay to see. Now, sweetie, will you please, for the love of God, stop being so stubborn?"

"I'm not being stubborn—"

"Like hell you aren't, Brennan. Now, if I were you, I'd say you better go buy a ticket on that ride, and you better do it pretty damn quick, before somebody else buys the last seat."

"I don't understand what that means," Brennan said.

"Yes, you do, but just so that there's no misunderstanding here, it means that you should go after him," Angela explained, her voice tinged with frustration at her friend's blindness to the obvious reality in front of her. "Pull your head out of your proverbial ass and go to him. Got get him."

"What you're saying makes no sense."

"You know what?" Angela closed her eyes and shook her head. "Whatever. You're hopeless. Goddamn hopeless, Brennan."

Brennan watched in stunned disbelief as Angela turned smartly on her three-inch heels, shot Brennan a very knowing look, and walked in the direction in which Hodgins had disappeared a few minutes earlier.

"Seriously, Ange?" Brennan called after her.

The only response Brennan received was the back of Angela Montenegro's head disappearing further off in the distance.

"Unbelievable," Brennan muttered. "I can't believe she left me. So much for a girl's night out."

And all because she wants to get laid, Brennan thought with both envy and annoyance. Shaking her head, she added, "Traitor."


What just happened? Booth asked himself as he stood on the sidewalk in front of the nightclub waiting for the valet to retrieve his SUV.

He glanced down at his throbbing hand and saw the half-inch gash across his second knuckle, right below his middle finger, and watched the blood ooze from the split in the skin when he clenched his fist. He'd busted his knuckles before, but usually had something better to show for it, like winning that bare-knuckle boxing match in Vegas during the second year of his partnership with Bones, or at least laying some obnoxious club hockey player on the ice with a bloody nose after a fight during one of his Fed-Cases games. But this busted knuckle left him feeling distinctly empty.

He tipped the valet generously—mostly because his brain felt so muddled by the whiskey and that tequila shot and moreover, by what had just happened with Bones, that he couldn't think straight enough to figure how much change he should've gotten for his twenty dollar bill.

He climbed into the driver's seat and, glancing into the rear view mirror, realized as he struggled to focus his eyes that the street lights and traffic signals seemed particularly hazy-looking. This struck him as odd, because it was actually a fairly dry, pleasant spring evening, so there wasn't much humidity in the air. Then the reality of it sunk in: he was drunk, which is something he tried to avoid being, generally, but especially while behind the wheel of his FBI-issued Tahoe. He realized he was just a couple of blocks from the Hoover, which made him wonder if he would be fired if he got tagged for a DUI while driving his FBI-issued vehicle home from a nightclub. Ten minutes, he reminded himself. It's just a ten minute drive—probably less, this time of night—between the nightclub and his apartment. He could hold it together for ten minutes, right? He pulled out into the street and chuckled as he saw the sign for the National Museum for Crime & Punishment. His mind was swirling with thoughts and he needed to focus. He needed something to distract his thoughts long enough to get his drunk ass home, with his ass and the SUV each in one piece.

He reached over to turn on the radio, which was tuned to the local station that played music from the 70s, 80s and 90s. That would do for now.

You can look at the menu
but you just can't eat
You can feel the cushion
but you can't have a seat
You can dip your foot in the pool
but you can't have a swim
You can feel the punishment
but you can't commit the sin

"Aw, fuck," he hissed at the radio. As if it wasn't enough to get a tongue-lashing dressing-down from Bones in front of everyone at that club—most of all Angela and Hodgins—now the goddamn radio was mocking him.

And you want her
And she wants you
We want everyone
And you want her
And she wants you
No one, no one
No one ever is to blame

He tried to retrace the steps of how he got from bed that morning—a sunny, pleasant enough morning—to where he was now, drunk and yet suffering from the worst buzzkill he'd ever known. Bones had gone completely ballistic on the MSP team at the crime scene, worse than he could remember her being, and he didn't really understand it, because they had both seen crime scenes botched way worse than the Maryland idiots had today. Booth was no scientist but his gut and his experience led him to believe that the crime scene evidence was still salvageable. It might have taken more effort on the Jeffersonian's part, but they were paid consultants, so what the hell difference did it make to them if it took three days to sort through something that should have, given proper on-scene processing, taken only two? Bones had gone totally apeshit and really laid into that idiot from the State Police, the one with the laughably lame porn star name—Toby Waldsachs—and, while Booth would have denied it at the time, for all the trouble it caused him later, there was something undeniably hot about her assertiveness, her bold confidence, and the way she didn't suffer fools. A part of him found it really hot, and it affected him the same way it did when he watched her slug that smarmy federal judge, Hasty, on that very first case they worked together. Fuck.

How could it all have gotten so fucked up in such a short time? Sure—he'd had a bad day, a really bad day, and he'd been a real dick to Hodgins, being all snippy and rude to him despite the fact that the bug guy had actually been a real trooper, quietly going about his business, collecting the evidence as best he could despite the interagency, interjurisdictional pissing contest that was raging around him. Booth had gone into the club for a couple of drinks, which became three, and then he'd made the mistake of going upstairs. Why hadn't Hodgins told him Bones was there? Booth wasn't sure if Hodgins had even known; paranoid, conspiracy nut bug-boy normally wasn't subtle and secretive that way. Angela? Well, she has been trying to get him and Bones into bed together for a couple of years—but when Booth got upstairs, it was clear that Angela was a little surprised to see him. Was that whole stunt with the body shots Angela's idea? Booth shook his already-pounding head. Even if she'd given Bones the idea, nobody makes Bones do anything that Bones doesn't want to do.

Ugh. The whole thing was giving him a headache. It didn't make sense. Bones was beautiful: absolutely, positively, unbelievably goddamn gorgeous. Why on God's green earth would she possibly think she had to go to a nasty-ass nightclub like that to—how would she say it?—satisfy her biological urges?

He pulled onto his street and wondered at the deja vu feeling of it all. Hadn't they had this conversation already, way back when? When was it? Oh yes, he remembered. It was early last year, after he had gotten together for the third or fourth time with Rebecca—a huge mistake—and she had basically busted him after calling his phone and Rebecca answering it in an obviously post-orgasmically husky tone of voice.

"It was a textbook example of just how helpless we higher primates can be to our biological urges," she had said to him about what she called his "behavior."

"I am not helpless." Yeah, right.

"And if you're not helpless, then why did you sleep with her?"

"Oh, I really don't recall saying that I did."

"You didn't have to. I could hear it in your voice. I might as well as walked in on you having sex."

They had been working on the case with the bigamist guy with the brittle bone disease. (Note to self: if you are going to be a bigamist, you might think twice if you carry a rare genetic disease that makes it really easy to trace your steps, sexually, as you leave brittle-boned kids in your wake.)

It didn't make sense why she would think she had to stoop to the level of picking up guys at bars to satisfy her biological urges. What about me? he asked, a lump forming in his throat at the thought of how thoroughly she had rejected him tonight. At least back then, she had at least insinuated that she found him desirable. She'd basically said as much. Right? That night, in her office:

"You know what, Bones?" he had said to her. "It might be all anthropology to you, but there are certain people that you just can't sleep with. I mean, you can pretend that it's just sex. You can lie to yourself, and you can say that it's all good. But, um, there's just—there's too many strings and—and too much at stake, you know? Too much to lose."

"Yeah. I can see that," she had said.

"It's over, you know?" He had been referring to Rebecca, of course. "I'd appreciate, you know, your support in that."

"I will. And if you should slip, I will…keep my mouth shut about it."

"Thank you. But, I mean, it's not like I'm gonna—"

"No, I mean with anybody. I'm sure Rebecca's not your only option for satisfying your biological urges."

He remembered the look in her eyes that night. She had never said as much, but she might as well have, the way she looked at him when she referred to him having other options for satisfying his biological urges. He had never taken her up on her unspoken offer, nor had she ever made such an obvious overture since, but he had never stopped thinking about it. Every time he touched her, every time he leaned in close and could smell the coconut and ginger scent of her shampoo in her hair, every time he watched her punch or kick a man who dared attempt to violate her physical boundaries or harm her, every time he listened to her give a dressing-down to someone foolish enough to challenge her brains or her expertise—he found it all so thrilling, so sexy, so arousing, he'd have to go home and rub one out in the shower before he could fall asleep that night. And the longer they worked together, the more that seemed to happen, and the more obvious it was that he wanted her.

But, she never gave him, after that night in her office, any real indication that she was interested. So he smoldered for her, quietly and without ever giving words to the way he felt for her. She didn't know. She really was clueless, wasn't she? She had no idea how badly he wanted her, how nearly every sexy dream he had dreamt over the last three and a half years had been about her. And tonight, when he told her, "If I ever thought that you wanted to fuck me, I'd have taken you home with me years ago, and I'd have fucked your brains out a long before now"—well, the secret was out, wasn't it? Had his admission, whiskey-sodden though it was, scared her? Was that why she pushed him away in that angry, intellectualized, uncompromising way that was pure Bones? Was she scared? Or, had he so insulted her that, even if she was interested, she would never deign to give him a chance?

What the fuck? he chastised himself. Acting like a jealous boyfriend in there, even though there was nothing between them. Right? He supposed it didn't matter anymore anyway, since it sure looked like he had squandered whatever chance he had with Bones with his angry, jealous, stupid rampage.

What have I done?

His head throbbed, his balls ached, and, despite three whiskeys and a shot of Cuervo, he knew he wouldn't be able to sleep that night.

Dammit.


Turning back to the bar, Brennan stared at the shot glass that now was her only remaining company. Still filled with its dark amber liquid, the tequila mocked her. The tempo of the music had picked up and filtered back into Brennan's conscious mind. At some point, probably the hour mark, the music beat changed. Whereas earlier it had been a type of steady, but hard rock, the beat of the music had become a bit faster, a bit more playful in its composition. Brennan remembered vaguely from Angela's earlier explanation about the DJs mixing the music to add variety for Gleam's eclectic mix of patrons. Moving her head slightly to the rhythm of the music, Brennan's eyes remained focused on the glass in front of her.

"Who in the hell does he think he is?" Brennan said defiantly, to no one in particular. "He's just one male among millions. He's not special. There's nothing significant or different about him in the slightest. And, who in the hell cares what Seeley-fucking-Booth says anyway? I certainly don't."

Lately people got me all tied up
There's a countdown waiting for me to erupt
Time to blow out
I've been told who I should do it with
To keep both my hands above the blanket
When the lights out

Shame on me
To need release
Uncontrollably

"I'm not drunk," Brennan said to the tequila shot. "I've drank bhang and kept my head in a more inebriated state than this. I can move to whatever music I want, dance however I want, and do whatever I want whenever I want, including letting any male I want except Booth take shots off my body if that's what I want to do. And, I don't need alcohol to make me do anything. This has absolutely nothing to do with alcohol. I'm not hard up, I'm not afraid of being irrational, and I know I'm certainly more than sexually talented enough to make certain that Booth has no regrets. I know that. I know all of it." Trying to push away her residual anger at Booth's taunts, Brennan continued rationalizing as she muttered to herself. "There's nothing I've done here tonight that I wouldn't do if I were completely sober, no matter what Booth says. So, I'm not drunk."

"Then why are you talking to a shot glass, sweetheart? They're for drinking, not listening."

As the smarmy voice cut in on Brennan's analytical reflective process, she raised her eyes to the seat that Booth had vacated sometime before. In his place sat another male, and suddenly, Brennan was pissed off all over again.

"I'm aware that alcoholic shots are manufactured for consumption purposes, not for use as a therapeutic tool, thank you very much," Brennan said.

"Oh, I don't know. In the right amounts, alcohol can be very therapeutic. It gets you to do all types of things that you normally wouldn't do under normal circumstances."

"You know what? That's not true," Brennan shouted. "While it's a proven fact that the processing and fermentation of certain plants, such as the blue agave plant, in the case of tequila, or grains like rye or barley, in the case of whiskey, results in a product that in its distilled form has only minor side effects on those who imbibe any beverage concocted from said distilled spirits. Minor… as in, you can't get a person to do something they didn't want to do in the first place even if they've been drinking alcoholic beverages that resulted in a decreased set of inhibitions, so you're wrong."

Seeming to tune out for most of Brennan's longwinded diatribe, the man simply smiled when she finished and tried to be charming as he replied, "Then, if I'm wrong, I'm sorry, sweetheart. Why don't you let me buy you a drink to make it up to you?"

"Are you apologizing for your imprecise and inaccurate factual assumption about alcohol or are you apologizing for intruding upon an individual whose body language should be making it quite clear that she has no desire to be disturbed?" Brennan asked. "Furthermore, why do you keep calling me 'sweetheart'? I have nothing to do with sucrose nor in any way can I be misconstrued as being a cardiovascular organ."

"Wow," the man replied. Running his hands through short light brown hair that was frosted with blonde tips, he smiled and then said, "You really have a mouth on you, don't you?"

"Why wouldn't I?" Brennan asked in confusion. "Every individual, unless they were born with severe birth defects or suffered excessive physical trauma, has a mouth. You're being quite illogical."

Laughing, the interloper nodded at her. "You're funny." He paused for a minute, tilting his head and said, "Why don't you finish that shot, and let me buy you another one? My name's Steve."

Glancing from the shot glass to Steve… who was still sitting in Booth's chair, still wearing his stupid lime green Ralph Lauren polo shirt, with his ridiculous pressed, pleated designer khakis and effeminate light brown leather loafers… and with far too much hair dye in his hair to be considered a beta… or even delta male, Brennan pursed her lips into a thin line. Raising her eyes back to him, Brennan said, "You know what? I find that the first half of your plan is acceptable, but I don't concur with the second portion of your suggested course of action."

"Uh… what?"

"You're an effeminate sub par male specimen," Brennan said, grabbing the shot. "And, I'm tired of being told what to do by any person with a fucking Y-chromosome who thinks they can just boss me around because I have a pair of ovaries and a uterus instead of a penis and pair of testicles… particularly when its some pseudo-alpha male wannabe like you who's trying to coerce my behavior and bend me to your will. I'm going to drink this shot and then go and reclaim my goddamn property because that's what I want to do. My decision, my choice." Lifting her head back, Brennan poured the shot down her throat. Shaking her head vigorously, Brennan slammed the shot glass back on to bar as Steve still watched her.

"That's it?"

"Yes," Brennan said, hoping off her stool. "That's it. For your informational purposes, I don't require you to fulfill your offer of procuring any other alcoholic beverages for me to imbibe. Unlike the previous male, who was attempting to engage me in a reciprocal dialogue, but whose clumsy social skills made watching him endeavor to do so mildly amusing, I find no value in continuing our exchange. I don't find you to be amusing in the slightest, in either a humorous or ironic manner. You possess even less social capital than Rick did. Thus, such efforts on your part are unnecessary for two reasons. First, I will not be consuming any more alcohol before I depart this establishment forthwith. Second, it would be a waste of resources for you since any other attempt on your part to establish a further social rapport with me will automatically fail. I find your paltry efforts at seduction to be puerile and futile. Do you have any questions?"

Steve stared open-mouthed at Brennan, somewhat shocked, but remaining quiet. Brennan took his silence to affirm that he had no other questions. Nodding, she said, "Good. Then, this concludes our conversation."

"Wow," Steve replied at last, still in disbelief, as he stood and looked at Brennan. "I can't believe you just said that."

"As you were a primary witness in my verbalization of our current predicament, I don't see why you should have any issues about believing the veracity of my statements."

"Do you always talk like that?"

"Yes," Brennan said. "Why?"

"I just didn't think any woman that was as hot as you are could be so hard-up that she'd be such a cunt," Steve said. "You're a real bitch, you know that?"

"A bitch is a female canine," Brennan observed dryly. Placing her hands on her hips in a defensive stance, she then added, "However, as I believe you're attempting to use a colloquialism to insult my femininity by assigning me a stereotypically unflattering masculine descriptor and insinuating that I am sexually deprived, despite the fact that I'm in no way insulted by you calling me aggressive, since I am an alpha female, or is it true that I can't get very satisfying sex anytime I want it, I believe I will just reply in kind. Fuck off."

And, with that, Brennan stomped past Steve in search of a more representative example of the anthropological label 'alpha male'.

Making her way out of the club, once outside, Brennan quickly hailed a cab. Climbing inside the taxi, Brennan gave the cab driver the address of Booth's apartment building, sat back, and contemplated her next action. There were several possible scenarios that ran through Brennan's brain, perhaps not as quickly as they normally did given the amount of tequila flowing through her bloodstream, but all of them ended in Brennan confronting Booth to secure the return of her phone. She wanted her phone back. Booth had no right to take it. Insufferable prick, Brennan thought, shaking her head in frustration. I still can't believe he did that. And, Angela! How can she take Booth's side over mine? What the fuck?

Brennan's internal monologue was interrupted as she focused on the song playing over the cab's radio, a soundtrack that had been playing quietly in the background as the automobile pulled out into traffic and moved towards Brennan's destination. The lyrics almost seemed to mock her.

Well if you told me you were drowning
I would not lend a hand
I've seen your face before, my friend
But I don't know if you know who I am?

Well I was there and I saw what you did
I saw it with my own two eyes
So you can wipe off that grin
Know where you've been
It's all been a pack of lies

And I can feel it comin' in the air tonight, oh Lord
I've been waitin' for this moment, all my life, oh Lord
I can feel it, in the air tonight, oh Lord, oh Lord
And I've been waitin' for this moment all of my life, oh Lord

Oh Lord

Brennan rolled her eyes at the singer's mention of the Judeo-Christian diety. No, God is a fictional construct used by society to offer comfort to individuals who refuse to accept the randomness of life and their inability to cope with such deterministic and fatalistic truths. People like Booth. Arrogant people like Booth. Who in the hell does he think he is, anyway? He doesn't know me. He thinks he does, but he doesn't. He's wrong. He doesn't know me, not at all. He's wrong, so wrong. About that…about me. About everything,

Well I remember, I remember, don't worry
How could I ever forget?
It's the first time and the last time we ever met
But I have know the reason why you keep your silence, oh
No you don't fool me
'Cause the hurt doesn't show
The pain still grows
It's stranger to you and me

I can feel it comin' in the air tonight, oh Lord
I've been waitin' for this moment for all my life, oh Lord
I can feel it comin' in the air tonight, oh Lord
I've been waitin' for this moment all my life, oh Lord oh Lord

Brennan nibbled her lip in agitation. He's going to give me my phone back, and then—he'll see. Booth's wrong. So wrong.

The evening, despite earlier Booth's claim, was far from over, as far as Brennan was concerned. He wanted to see what exactly what she was willing to do or not, fine. They'd see. She wasn't scared, and Temperance Brennan was going to be damned—if, indeed, as an self-avowed atheist, she was incorrect and there just happened to be an afterlife of some sort—if she'd let Seeley Booth have the last word on this.

Nope. Not a chance.


Dammit.

Booth's head throbbed, weighing heavily on his aching neck and shoulders like it was filled with thirty pounds of lead shot. And the way he'd acted that night, it might as well have been.

What was I thinking?

His balls ached. Bad. That whole—thing—in the nightclub was so surreal, so frustrating, so unbelievably out of control and so, so hot. He saw it in Bones' eyes: a total disconnect between her saying she didn't want him, and the look in her eyes that told him that she absolutely did want him—even if she was now so thoroughly pissed off at him that she would march down to Cullen's office in the morning to demand that she be given a new FBI guy. But, wait—

She wouldn't do that, right?

His mind raced with thoughts of casual touches—his hand on her lower back, her hand on his arm, his head on her shoulder, her head on his shoulder, hugs and platonic embraces—and of a thousand conversations in the SUV, in the diner, at the Founding Fathers, at Wong-Foo's, and of a handful of missed opportunities.

What did I do?

Booth was driving himself insane. He stood there in his living room and held his hand out horizontally, parallel to the floor, and he saw it tremble. Nerves.

I've gotta do something.

He walked to his bedroom, unbuttoning his wrinkled, sweat-stained dress shirt along the way. Shrugging out of his shirt, Booth unbuckled his belt, smirking grimly at his Cocky belt buckle as he slid the belt out of the loops and draped it over the valet next to his dresser.

Cocky—a lot of good that did me.

He kicked off his wingtips and peeled off his pants, holding them up to his nose to see if they were good for another wearing or two before being banished to the dry cleaner. His nostrils flared as he smelled his own sweat and the faint scent of the nightclub, with its peculiar mix of stale beer, bodywash, and tequila. Booth tossed his slacks into his hamper with a soft clank sound that puzzled him but quickly fled his groggy mind, then leaned on the foot of his bed as he peeled off his blue, purple and yellow striped socks. He felt twitchy, every muscle and limb full of nervous energy. Clenching and unclenching his fists, he winced at the stinging sensation as he opened his split knuckle again, causing blood to ooze from it again.

What a fucking dumbass I am…

He stood there, wearing only his boxers, and tried to figure out what to do next. He was exhausted, but knew he wouldn't be able to sleep. He was full of nervous energy, but it was one o'clock in the morning, and he was too drunk to drive to the Hoover to use the gym there.

Okay, back-up plan.

Booth walked back out to his living room and remembered the old bench press he'd bought a few months back at a tag sale he'd seen while driving through Columbia Heights on the way to interview a witness in a case was working. Glancing up at his CD collection, he pulled out a jewel box with a hand-written label that read, Workout Mix. He couldn't remember which of the guys at the Hoover had made the CD for him, but after flipping the case over and noting the songs included, he slid the disc into his stereo and settled down onto the weightlifting bench.

Look, if you had one shot, or one opportunity
To seize everything you ever wanted in one moment
Would you capture it or just let it slip?
Yo…

The throbbing bass was mildly irritating to Booth's throbbing head, but the beat gave him a good rhythm as he made sure his bare feet were flat on the floor and began lifting the barbell over his chest. One. Two. Three…

He opens his mouth, but the words won't come out
He's choking how, everybody's joking now
The clock's run out, time's up over, pow!

Booth felt the burning tightness spread across his arms, chest and shoulders as he slowly lifted the weight up and down again. He wasn't lifting the amount of weight he was used to lifting at the Hoover gym, but since he was in his living room, by himself with no spotter, half-drunk—well, it made sense to take it easy and bench-press less than he was fully capable of, and besides, he wasn't really doing this as part of his fitness program, but just to work off that maddening tingle of nervous energy that had been squeezing him in a vise since he'd left the nightclub. Ten. Eleven. Twelve…

Snap back to reality, Oh there goes gravity
Oh, there goes Rabbit, he choked
He's so mad, but he won't give up that easy, no
He won't have it , he knows his whole back's to these ropes
It don't matter, he's dope
He knows that, but he's broke
He's so stagnant that he knows

Booth had distracted his body and felt the anxious twitch in his muscles quiet down, but his mind was still racing. His mind seemed a jumble of images and sensations: the smell of that stocky young man—Rick, was it?—as he perspired nervously under Booth's withering glare, and the sound of Bones behind him, trying to defuse the rivals, and the cold fire of anger in her pale green eyes as he laid into her, accusing her of drunkenly abandoning herself to the clumsy, meaningless attentions of unworthy men. Twenty-one. Twenty-two. Twenty-three…

No more games, I'm a change what you call rage
Tear this mothafuckin' roof off like two dogs caged
I was playin' in the beginning, the mood all changed
I been chewed up and spit out and booed off stage…

Booth leaned his head back against the bench and gritted his teeth as he brought the barbell down to his chest and thrust it up again as slowly as he could, savoring the burning sensation as his pecs, deltoids, and triceps twitched faintly. Thirty-two. Thirty-three. Thirty-four…

You better lose yourself in the music, the moment
You own it, you better never let it go
You only get one shot, do not miss your chance to blow
This opportunity comes once in a lifetime, yo!

It was pointless. Booth lifted the barbell one last time and returned it to the uprights with a loud clank.

Clank.

The sound startled him. He recalled the softer, muffled clank he had heard when he tossed his slacks into his laundry hamper, and then he remembered.

Her phone.

He sat up on the weight bench and rubbed his eyes. Looking back, Booth was not sure why exactly he decided to take her phone, or whether he had even made a conscious decision to take it at the time. He squeezed his eyes shut and shook his head at the thought of what he had done, and what he had said that night. Booth thought of what she had said to him, the unbelievable taunts and infuriating verbal jibes, and of him leaning close to her, inhaling her scent, his eyes raking across her chest—that gorgeous chest of hers, her wonderful breasts pushed up with a lovely cleft between them…

Enough!

He wiped the sweat from the back of his neck as he stood up from the bench and walked back to his bedroom. Booth grabbed a clean towel from the shelf in his closet and a clean pair of boxer-briefs from his dresser drawer, then went into the bathroom. His head was pounding. Hodgins should never have let him drink those three Jamesons in close succession. Booth opened his medicine cabinet and fumbled for the bottle of aspirin he kept there, and then rattled it next to his ear, sighing in relief as he heard two tablets clacking against each other inside.

Booth turned the water in the shower on, hesitating for a moment as to whether to let it run cold or hot. After a moment of thought, he adjusted the temperature, stripped off his sweaty boxers and stepped into his shower. In that instant, he felt grateful that he'd invested in a new high-pressure shower head as he enjoyed the way it pummeled his back with little needles of hot water. Booth felt his skin flush and tilted his head back, massaging his tired scalp. What a day. The images, one after the other, continued to assault his mind as he tried fending them off, one by one. Useless.

Booth felt that all-too familiar tugging sensation behind his navel as he thought about the way her breasts, shoulders and arms looked in that halter top and push-up bra. Almost edible. He glanced down at his throbbing hard on, and shook his head in disgust. Fuck it.

Closing his eyes, Booth reached down and fisted his cock, drawing his thumb across the tip as he clenched his eyes harder. Booth watched Brennan in his mind's eye, as if in slow motion, those wonderful breasts moving, bouncing ever so slightly as she reached for the shot glass on the bar and brought it to her chest, nestling the cool, smooth glass in the cleft between her tits. She looked up at him, her pale eyes gleaming with anticipation, normally a light green, but darkened with arousal to a teal blue as she looked at Booth with a devilish grin on her lips, revealing the teeth on one side of her mouth the way her smile always did when she was discussing something sexy. Booth stroked his thumb across the underside of the tip of his cock, smearing the drops of precum and drawing a deep breath at the sensation. Brennan rolled her shoulder toward him as he brought his tongue across her collarbone, gathering the grains of salt on the point of his tongue and tasting her sweet, tangy sweat as he did so. He felt Brennan shiver at the touch of his tongue on her skin, a tremor so violent that it made him shudder, too. His fist closed tightly around his cock, sliding up and down, dragging his skin beneath his fingers as he watched himself bend down, his lips closing around the cool, smooth surface of the shot glass and, with a slight tug, released it from where it sat cradled in the cleft between her luscious tits as Booth threw his head back, the liquid searing his throat on the way down. Booth felt himself harden even more as the tugging feeling belong his navel became almost painful. He leaned in and covered Brennan's mouth with his, her lips opening under his and, with a flick of her tongue, Brennan passed him a small wedge of lime which he scooped onto his tongue, the tangy flavor a dramatic contrast to the harsh burn of the tequila and the sweet taste of her mouth. Their eyes locked, and Brennan's gaze twinkled at him in an unspoken promise as she made a silent dare. As Booth pulled his lips away from hers, his balls tensed and tightened, his hips jerked, and he felt his release pulse out of him as he groaned softly, the evidence of his orgasm splattering onto the fine, curly hair of his thigh before being rinsed down the drain by the firm pulse of the shower's steady stream of water.

God, Bones…

Booth leaned against the wall of his shower, his forehead pressed to the cold tile as he caught his breath. He was sure he had never come so hard in his own hand as he had just then.

What am I doing?

This is madness, he told himself. Surely, after what he said to her and what she said back to him, there could be no doubt that the two of them could never be more than they were already. Just partners. He needed to get laid, to find another outlet for his physical desires so that he could stop tying himself up in knots with unresolved, unrequited desire for his partner, and so he could stop doing this—jacking off in his shower to images of his partner splayed before him, glistening with sweat, moist with desire, her arms reaching out toward him in a dare—

Stop.

He jerked the shower curtain open and stepped out onto the mat. Booth toweled himself off and reached for the clean pair of underwear that he'd hung on the towel rack. Stepping into his boxer-briefs, he sighed. He knew he was still not ready for sleep. He felt a little better after working out with the weights and—well, working out something else in the shower—but he still felt twitchy and uneasy. He rubbed the towel one last time over his head, leaving this dark brown hair drier, but in total disarray, grabbed the bottle of aspirin and walked into his kitchen.

He opened his fridge and groaned. He had a six-pack of Yuengling beer (ugh—as if he needed more to drink after the three Jamesons and that ill-advised shot of Cuervo), a half-gallon of whole milk that he wasn't sure was even still good (the sniff test would tell), a half-empty two-liter bottle of Sunkist soda that he was sure hadn't been touched since Parker's last visit a couple of weekends before (which meant it was probably mostly flat), and a couple of bottles of water. He reached for the bottles of water and a couple of slices of cold, leftover pepperoni pizza, then walked into his living room and plopped himself on his couch.

He reached for the remote and turned on the TV. It was late, and all he could find to watch was ESPN SportsCenter (though he'd already seen the scores while sitting at the bar with Hodgins, and didn't really want to hear a rehash of how the Flyers flubbed that night's game against the Maple Leafs, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory in epic fashion), no interesting movies he hadn't already seen a thousand times before, and they weren't even that good the first time (particularly the Cinemax-After-Dark moaning and groaning selection of the night—fuck no!), infomercials, and reruns: Car 54, Where Are You? (Booth refused as a matter of principle to watch cop-related TV shows, even comedies—click), The Waltons ("Goodnight, John-Boy"—click), Dallas (the episode where Pam walks in to find Bobby in the shower, revealing that all of the entire eighth season was a dream—ugh, click), and Moonlighting. Booth paused his channel-surfing for a few minutes and tried to get into that particular episode of Moonlighting. Back in the day, when he was in high school, he had enjoyed the show. It was funny, snarky, and clever, and Cybill Shepherd was all kinds of hot. But, as he watched the show for a few minutes, it began to annoy him, the same way Howard Jones had annoyed him in the car on the way home from the nightclub. It was if the two characters—with the sexual tension that crackled between them and their constant games of verbal tennis—were taunting him, daring him somehow to make a move with Bones. Click.

What's the point?

There was no chance, at this stage, with all the angry words that passed between them that night, for anything good to come of it. So what was the point of torturing himself about it.

He shut off the TV, stood up and walked over to his stereo when he heard something—an agitated voice in the hall.

"Booth!"

For a moment, his heart stopped. No, couldn't be, he thought.

"It's me. I want my phone back. Open up!"

It was Bones' voice in the hall.

Outside his door.

"Oh, God," he muttered as he stared at his door, upon which he could hear and see the slight reverberation of Brennan banging on the door frame.

"BOOTH!"

Seriously? What's happening… Bones?


Is that an evil cliffhanger? Maybe just a little. But the more evil the cliffhanger,
the juicier the tension, and the more satisfying the resolution, right?

OK people, now don't forget to add Lesera128 to your author alerts so
you'll get that precious email when she posts "Costly Signals: Part Two"

Otherwise, you might miss out on all the crazysexyhot that's coming up in Part Two.
(And, believe us, if that little scene with Booth in the shower is any indication,
you don't want to miss what we've got for you in Part Two...)

Oh, and by the way...if you have the time, please leave us a review.
Let us know what you think of this crazy little fic so far.

Thanks!

~ Lesera128 and dharmamonkey ~